Wikipedia talk:Centralized discussion/Removing warnings

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The results of a poll on the subject are disputed, and since polls aren't the way to make policy it seems like what this issue needs is some good discussion. I've listed what appear to me to be some of the main issues below; feel free to add more headings as required, of course. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't believe that a consensus should be recognized here without consideration of the comments in Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll. Furthermore, no policy supports the claim that "polls aren't the way to make policy". John254 04:57, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
However, Wikipedia:How to create policy states that two ways include a) consensus approval for a specific proposal or b) long-term consensus and precedent. The poll in question achieved neither of those, which is the point people keep pointing out that you're missing. You can't just run something for a week, close it when you like the partial results, and call it policy. Not here, anyway. There's a lot of precedent already for doing it the other way, and the poll distilled very little information, given the number of caveats employed in the responses there/contradictory positions taken. -- nae'blis 05:47, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm not attempting to create policy. I'm merely attempting to restore policy that was eliminated against consensus. The prohibition of the removal of legitimate warnings has been a part of Wikipedia:Vandalism well before I made my first edit on Wikipedia -- see the March 28, 2006 version of Wikipedia:Vandalism, for example. It's not as though I created a poll for a completely new policy proposal, then attempted to enact the policy a week later. The purpose of the poll was merely to show that there is still a consensus for prohibiting the removal of legitimate warnings. "Caveats employed in the responses" such as "This vote is for VANDALISM and DISRUPTION warnings" [1] are quite obvious as to their effects. John254 06:24, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Your purpose here is concensus, but you need to have more opinions than those found in the previously conducted poll (Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll) before you can claim concensus. In fact, statistics would suggest that any concensus you reached that was contrary to the conclusions of that poll would require a contributory population several times greater than the poll. I could calculate the exact amount if you wish, but I would hazard a guess that you need at least 3 times the number of respondants.
Keep in mind that what is required is consensus of the community, not just consensus of the people that responded to the poll. For small matters that don't contradict existing policy, possibly a poll result like that is okay. However, if we want to encourage editwarring and change the definition of vandalism, I believe we need to demonstrate wider consensus (I don't like polls, but if we had to do it that way the poll would need to (a) be open for a longer time, (b) have a significant number more respondents, (c) have a smaller proportion of respondents from a single project and (d) be less vague i.e. vote on the exact language you want to use). JYolkowski // talk 19:46, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
The poll attracted a significantly large number of people. I do not have a problem with running it longer though. And you should note, I am opposed to calling such edits vandalism. I think, though, that they should be against policy. And that is the opinion of 82% of the respondants. When you say that the poll should have a significant number more respondants, how many do you think it would take? I note that even admin polls do not normally attract more than about 100 people and those are pretty widely watched. --Blue Tie 21:41, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Now you're just being dishonest. The language about removing warnings being vandalism was added on January 6th as an "example" without actually changing the caveat that users are allowed to remove warnings on their own talk page, removed on March 28th per this talk page commentary, restored, and changed back to 'generally discouraged' on March 31st. Then on April 9th, during this discussion on the talk page, the entire section was deleted in both places. Then it was put back on April 16th. Then on May 10th, after the original creation of Wikipedia:Removing warnings, it was reworded and then removed entirely (the second part was not caught until July 18; reverted, then excised again on August 7th). Then you re-added it on August 10th; in short, this page has never had a stable version saying that removing warnings is vandalism, not only since you got here, but ever. I realize this is important to you as a vandalism fighter, but it just doesn't have the community consensus to change current practice, as yet. -- nae'blis 16:08, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Since language prohibiting the removal of legitimate warnings has been continuously present in at least one section of Wikipedia:Vandalism for nearly three months (excluding an edit that was quickly reverted as official policy vandalism using administrative rollback) until such language was removed on August 7, the claim that "this page has never had a stable version saying that removing warnings is vandalism" is factually incorrect. Furthermore, Nae'blis' statement "Now you're just being dishonest." [2] is a personal attack. John254 18:53, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Calling people dishonest is unhelpful and inappropriate. People do make mistakes and sometimes lack knowledge. That does not make them dishonest. Having said that, I appreciate your research in this area. Here is my analysis of that history:
  • The statement that removing warnings from the user page was included only a month after the vandalism warnings were put on the Vandalism page, showing that almost immediately it was considered an important issue related directly to the warnings. However, like the warning templates themselves it was added without discussion. Also added without any objection. Not really a concensus thing. Not really not a concensus thing. Like many policy edits.. it was just done.
  • On January 6th there was no "caveat that users are allowed to remove warnings on their own talk page". What it said was that "users generally are permitted to remove outside comments at their discretion". Outside comments and warnings are not the same thing. And this was "generally" true, not always specifically true. In this case, it was overridden by the caveat about removing warnings, which was described as vandalism. (Note I do not agree with that idea).
  • It was on the policy page for almost 3 months before it was removed. At that point the warnings had been on the page almost 4 months and this aspect of using the warnings was there for 3 months. It seems as though this was relatively stable and by the longevity of things, it had achieved a sort of concensus. I say "relatively" because the policy is new and it has been changing continuously. So a few months seems "stable" to me. Perhaps a content analysis over time could demonstrate that 3 months is reasonably "stable".
  • The removal was instigated by an editor who was annoyed. You can read how he found out about this policy and the various explanations that were given to him by admins that removal of warnings is bad. He and several others did not like these answers and, of course, if you do not like a policy, just go and change it. Read it [here].
  • Now the policy that had been in place, not reverted for nearly three months, and relatively stable (and obviously accepted per the previous discussion linked above) was now changed. You have linked to that discussion and I have analyzed it as follows:
    • 3 Persons said "Do not remove warnings"
    • 3 Persons said "Do not call it Vandalism"
    • 3 Persons said "Removing Warnings should be allowed"
    • 1 Person said "It is Generally Discouraged"
(One particular admin made a very compelling case for rejecting it as vandalism.)
So there was no real concensus this time. However, the Supermajority of the 10 editors who were commenting at least did not like it to be called vandalism. But it was too small a group to say it was real concensus. Certainly the elimination was not concensus.
  • As you point out, the issue became seriously contested when that statement was removed, and it was put in and out of policy several times. In the discussion that you link to, I make this analysis:
    • 1 person said that removal of warnings should be considered vandalism
    • 6 Persons said that Warnings should not be removed. (I dont think that they addressed vandalism)
    • 2 Persons said that it was not Vandalism but Warnings should not be removed
    • 2 Persons said it was not vandalism. They did not discuss removal but I assume that they mean the warnings can be removed.
    • 1 Person said removing warnings was ok
  • This has one clear supermajority: Do not allow removal of Warnings. There may be another implied supermajority: It is not Vandalism, but I cannot tell this from the answers. Despite the lack of concensus on the Vandalism Issue, the instruction declaring it Vandalisim was reinstated. This met the needs of those (the supermajority) who wanted a recourse for the removal but it was contrary to the concensus of the (now larger but still small) group regarding vandalism.
  • The section stabalized again for about 3 weeks. Then on the 9th part of the element about Removing Warnings being Vandalism was removed without discussion. However, that removal coupled with the prohibition in the Talk Page section was in harmony with the previous discussions where calling it vandalism was significantly objected to, but prohibiting it in some way was agreed with. I think this revision was probably close to concensus even though it occurred without discussion.
  • Now the policy was stable for over 2 months, when suddenly and without any concensus or discussion, it was changed to permit and allow removal of warnings by an editor who had never previously participated in the discussion. His edit was immediately reverted by an Admin.
  • This aspect of the policy remained in place until it was neutered once more, again without discussion or concensus on Aug 7th, but 3 days later the policy was returned to its previous state.
  • As for stability, it is in the eye of the beholder. The policy is never completely stable. However, From the time the warnings were added to the policy until now comprises nearly 9 months. The statement regarding removal of those warnings was inserted a month later. During that next 8 months, the policy has in one way or another prohibited the removal of warnings for over 7 months. Some of that time it was through the notion of calling it Vandalism and later it was through the notion of describing it as prohibited. But, the majority of the time, there was some prohibition.
It is reasonable to agree that there is no concensus about this removal being vandalism. But it also reasonable, on the basis of the historical record, to say that the SuperMajority feel that it should be prohibited and that the bulk of the calendar time that the policy has been in place with warnings, it has included this prohibition. Accordingly, it is also reasonable to consider this an appropriate policy that might need some brushing up but not deletion. It would be fair to say that it was not stable with regard to the precise nature of the prohibition, but it would also not be fair to say that, it was unstable with regard to the notion of some sort of prohibition. And I would suggest that if people are looking for concensus, that is the basis to start from: It is widely agreed that it should be prohibited -- but how should it be prohibited. I know this makes some people unhappy. They view the warnings as Scarlet Letters and they just want to see them gone. (I also feel thsi way). But just because it is unpleasant does not mean it should not be policy. However, I would want to have a time limit on how long warnings must stay. And I would want some warnings to be removable without a time limit. --Blue Tie 18:55, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

"Don't remove warnings" is first of all controversial, since many feel a user has the right to delete anything from his talk page (and it shows that he saw it); second of all a major workload to enforce, since it isn't automated; and third of all unnecessary, since naming the warning in the edit summary when you post it will make it permanently visible in the page history.

Unless you want to keep some central registry (somewhere else) of warnings given, which will rapidly become a huge list... or create a third standard user page just for warnings (User warn:Blue Tie)... either of which would involve far more setup than using the already existing history function. -- Ben 20:05, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Is there a difference between vandalism warnings and other warnings? Why?Edit

I don't think so, although I might be willing to agree to block warnings being different from non-block warnings. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

I believe that there are definite qualitative differences in warnings. In my view there are two that are serious but both are different in nature. The first is vandalism (typically by supposedly new users or anons). The second is disruption and edit warring by new and more experienced users. Each of these requires a different approach. I suppose that there may also be other warnings, but (perhaps I am inexperienced) these seem to be far less frequent and of lesser concern.

There are also differences in the nature of the warning for the particular offense. A vandal may simply be "warned" at first that their efforts were considered unuseful and reverted. But later, the warnings should escalate. These are qualitatively different. --Blue Tie 16:34, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I find enforcing display of the vandalism warnings slightly less problematic than the others because in cases of true vandalism I can't see the vandal being offended... and wouldn't care nearly as much if they were. However, since people constantly mislabel nearly anything they don't like as 'vandalism' this would still be frequently used to harass valuable contributors (as it has been to date) and I'm not in favor. So... I hate the idea of enforcing display of vandalism 'scarlet letters', but I hate it less than doing so for all warnings. --CBD 16:11, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think there is a difference. Sure they are different types of behaviour, but the warnings placed on the talk page should be treated no differently.--Crossmr 22:45, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

How important is it to warn vandals as quickly as possible?Edit

  • Fairly important. If an editor is simply experimenting or just goofing around, a quick warning may stop them before they have irritated too many other users. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 01:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Very important. Agree with Donald Albury. --Blue Tie 16:35, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
    • I would tend to agree. Next question that I'll throw out: Is it so important to warn vandals as quickly as possible that people warning them should not pause to check their contributions or the talk page history? JYolkowski // talk 17:03, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
      • Basically, yes. It is so important that these things be done quickly that they should not have to do so. --Blue Tie 18:15, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
        • Fair enough, it makes sense that people should warn vandals first and then go and check their contributions. If they do that and find evidence of removing warnings, why not just go back at that time and give them a sterner warning? To me, this would seem to make more sense than expending effort trying to restore warnings. JYolkowski // talk 19:39, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Well maybe its not the best way (I have had run-ins with quick on the draw vandal fighters) but many of the folks on vandal watch are running pretty hard and fast. They do not want to take the time to go through the history. But...Later, other users with more care or time might find those reversals and do the reporting necessary. That would tend to happen with those folks who are more egregious problems. But because this is possible, it should not be the preferred path. The preferred path is that the vandal fighter immediately sees the prior warning(s) and pegs it up a notch. --Blue Tie 21:45, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

That depends on what you are doing. If I'm just editing normally, checking my watchlist, etc I'm not in a hurry. I can take time to go through an editors history (I often do) to check for other vandalism, behaviour issues, etc. I will sometimes leave multiple warnings if I see several things that have been left unchecked. If I'm on New page patrol I don't have the time to spend 15 minutes going through someone's history to check it out. I'm on new page patrol for a reason, to check new pages for vandalism/inappropriateness. Having a record of warnings either on the talk page, or archived in an appropriate manner is extremely useful and keeps me editing at an appropriate pace.--Crossmr 22:48, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

In the ideal world then the vandal fighters would take the time to review a users talk page and contribution history. In practice it is a balance between getting the warnings right for a single user versus stopping a large number of vandalism edits. At some times in the day (weekdays - around midday UK time) there are a lot of vandals and not enough vandal fighters. At this time you sometimes have to just go ahead, revert the edit and issue a warning in order to stop the next vandal. Sometimes legitimate edits get caught up in which case the vandal fighter should always be willing to review the warning and remove/revise it as needed. --MarkS (talk) 18:18, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Should non-logged-in users be treated differently from logged-in users?Edit

I suspect that most non-logged-in users do not look at the talk page for their IP address (for example, if the next time they log in their IP address has changed, they'll probably never see any messages on the first IP address's talk page). On the other hand, that means that they will probably never remove any warnings left on the original talk page either. Therefore, any policy concerned with users removing warnings from their talk page should focus on logged-in users, since they are the ones who are likely to receive the warnings and likely to want to delete them. --Metropolitan90 04:42, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Treat them the same. I disagree with Metropolitan90. I think anons should be treated the same as other users and vice versa. Assume good faith but do not tolerate bad behavior in either case. However, I also agree that anons should be watched differently because so many do not know what they are doing or are malicious.--Blue Tie 16:38, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Personally, I would tend to think that they should be treated the same. Would we all agree that anonymous users should not be treated any harsher than logged-in users with respect to warning removal? JYolkowski // talk 17:07, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with that. Also no more leniently either. We do not know if they are new or experienced users. They should be encouraged to log on, but that does not have to be a condition of anything. --Blue Tie 17:22, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
My point is not that anons should be treated differently from other users, but that most anons are not going to remove the warnings they get because they don't even look at the warnings they get. However, if anyone has evidence that anons often do read their warnings and/or remove them, then we can proceed on that basis. --Metropolitan90 00:24, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that anons aren't going to check their talk pages for old messages, but if they're visiting/editing Wikipedia and they get a bright orange box, I would assume that they'd check their messages at that point. JYolkowski // talk 00:55, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Not really, since individuals of either group could be acting in good faith or bad faith. However, percentage wise a user who has a history of thousands of positive contributions is less likely to have deliberately engaged in negative behaviour, or to repeat such, than a new user or IP address whose only edits to date have been of that sort. Established users also logically have more concern about their 'reputation' than new accounts or IPs and thus would be more likely to find such warnings offensive and want to remove them for that reason rather than in an attempt to 'continue getting away with whatever'. Thus, while I don't think that treatment should be different, I do think that equal application of this 'enforced warning display' concept would dis-proportionately impact (and alienate) valued contributors. IPs vandalize more than users with 5000+ edits... that's obvious. Doesn't mean that all IPs vandalize or established editors never do, but saying 'we should be rude and harassing to all of them equally' (and whatever 'good points' this proposal has it IS inherently rude and harassing) is going to have a much more negative impact on established users than it will on IPs. --CBD 16:22, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I am going to take the minority position here and argue that anon IPs should be treated differently at least on the specific point of removal of warnings. The strongest reason to eventually allow removal of warnings, in my opinion, is to help a reformed user to feel as if he/she is starting fresh and has put the controversy to rest. That argument is moot for anon users. If an anon user wants to start fresh, the simplest and by far the most common way to do so is to log in. They don't need the talk page wiped clean. By logging in, they get a clean Talk page.
On the other hand, the long-term tracking of the behavior of non-logged in users has been extremely useful to me when making decisions about how to handle a particular vandalism case. The vast majority of vandalism that I find comes from anon IPs. Some of it is new-user test material but much of it follows a clear trend. If the warnings are well documented, it is very easy to quickly determine the difference. Having a full documentation of the warnings makes it much easier to evaluate the aggregate performance of the users of the anon IP, determine trends, match those trends to the block log in order to determine whether prior blocks were effective, etc. I frequently look very closely at the pattern of warnings and consider them as a factor when deciding if a block is appropriate and if so what duration is appropriate. Fragmenting that history across multiple pages in the history will make that kind of analysis prohibitively time-consuming. Rossami (talk) 05:35, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Joining this a bit late, but Rossami is surely right, though I have an extra reason: IP Talk pages don't belong to anyone in any sense, whereas logged-in Users can be said to have Talk pages. The main point, though, is the tracking of vandalism. What's the point of having a graded set of warnings if each one is immediately removed? We'll just get a History of a succession of {{test1}}s followed by page-blanking. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:17, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
Unless, of course, you look at the history, which, IMHO, you should do anyway. Also, with any shared IP or dynamic IP, the history of warnings is useless after a very short period, sometimes less than an hour. -- Donald Albury 22:18, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Should new users be treated differently from experienced users?Edit

How should "new" and "experienced" users be defined?Edit

Classes of users:

  • New user: Less than 3 months of active editing AND fewer than 200 edits.
  • Intermediate User: More than 3 months of active editing but fewer than 700 edits.
  • Experienced User: At least 6 months of editing and at least 700 edits (both are necessary).

New Users should be given more benefit of the doubt if they claim that they acted ignorantly or did not understand something. Experienced Users should get less slack. However, there should be an overall parity in the way that they are treated -- a sequence of warnings leading to action if they fail to meet reasonable conditions for participation.

--Blue Tie 17:17, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

In my opinion they should be treated the same - while with new users we may get a new good contributor, it may be that experienced users already are ones and we would be losing those. Experienced users spend much more time in wiki and are easily targets for jokes etc. by friends or siblings who get access to their computers for example; and I would find myself believing in a sincere mistake much more from a user with 1 mistake in 6 months or 700 edits for example.  VodkaJazz / talk  07:45, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

How long should warnings need to be left on a talk page?Edit

  • I would say that they don't have to be left for any amount of time. If a user removes them, they've seen them. If they then reoffend, give them a sterner warning about the behaviour in question. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
  • It seems to me the main function of a vandalism warning is to alert the vandal that his behavior is being observed and needs to stop. Once that has been done, it doesn't matter if the warning continues to appear. It is especially pointless if it works, and the editor stops vandalizing. What about assuming good faith? Rbraunwa 22:09, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
    • I second this notion. -- QTJ 19:54, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Users participating in RC patrol often rely on the existence of prior vandalism warnings on the current version of the vandal's talk page to indicate whether and how the vandal should be warned again, or whether the vandal should be listed on Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism. Allowing vandals to hide the warnings in the history of their talk page frustrates countervandalism efforts. From my personal experience in countervandalism efforts, I am able to state that RC patrol is a highly time-pressured activity. Every minute that must be spent on combing through a vandal's talk page history is a minute during which a vandalism warning or a report to Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism must be delayed, an additional minute during which the vandal will remain unblocked and may commit further acts of vandalism. Furthermore, while I identify the placement of vandalism warnings in my edit summaries, some users who place vandalism warnings do not supply such edit summaries. Thus, identifying such "no-summary" warnings in a talk page history would involve viewing every diff between edits, a particularly time consuming process. As a practical matter, the time-critical nature of countervandalism efforts demands that the integrity of talk pages as an quick reference to legitimate vandalism warnings be maintained. John254 00:25, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I oppose any attempt to legislate a time period during which warnings cannot be removed. We don't need such a rule to deal with disruptive editors, and forcing warnings to stay on talk pages when editors are not being disruptive serves no useful purpose. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 01:28, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree with John254 and disagree withJYolkowski, Rbraunwa and Donald Albury. In my view, warnings do not have just the purpose of stopping the bad behavior but they also serve as an adminstrative tool in case the problem continues. Many editors have chips on their shoulders and just do not even see how their behavior is wrong. They must be handled eventually. Warnings help record the process by which this occurs. The warnings should remain for a reasonable amount of time. This could include a month or two for vandalism, or for as long as the editor is participating in the discussion that led to the warning in the case of non-vandalism activities like disruption, 3rr, etc. I am opposed to permanent warnings though. All warnings should be removeable after some period of time.--Blue Tie 16:45, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
  • While I rarely do RC patrol anymore, my memory is that time is critical. We don't have enough RC patrollers, so a significant fraction of edits are not reviewed by a RC patroller. Reviewing talk history will significantly slow down RC patrol and increase the odds that vandalism makes it past RC patrol until someone spotes it on a watchlist or by visiting the article. Warning escalation is an important tool for differentiating between vandals that need administrative intervention or blocking and those that don't. John254 is correct that reviewing the talk history would often require viewing diffs, which is quite painful. I see no reason to allow warnings to be removed by the individual warned other than when they archive their page. The person that issued the warning, if convinced it was a mistake, can remove them. GRBerry 04:33, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
  • However long it takes the user to read them. After that removal should be discouraged, but no more 'actionable' in and of itself than a single incidence of minor incivility would be. The vast rigors of checking talk page histories are vastly over-stated - somehow RC patrol got done before warning templates even existed. Virtually all true vandals have nothing on their talk page history EXCEPT vandalism warnings... and maybe a welcome message at the top. Searching through the history for extended periods only becomes a problem with active users who received lots of comments on other topics... but such users seldom commit vandalism. Even if we pretend there are users out there who make hundreds of positive contributions interspersed with instances of vandalism months apart (such that the need to retain warnings for months would have some sort of logic to it)... that could still be easily dealt with by just establishing a standard and distinctive edit summary for warnings so that they can be easily spotted in the history. --CBD 16:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
  • what about some other way of keeping track of warnings, an infobox that lists all the warnings, and a user can remove them as soon as they;ve been read? ST47 14:44, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
  • My preferred answer to this question is "until the user archives the page" for logged-in users. The practical answer is "probably a month or so but at least a week" in order to make sure that this is not a pattern. For anonymous users, the answer should be "forever". See my reasons above why I think they should be treated differently. Rossami (talk) 05:39, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Permanently until appropriately archived, which is at least a week. So what if you have a warning 10 pages back in your archive, if you've learned from it its not that big of a deal. But if a user who is vandalizing with certain patterns keeps blanking their warnings it can be hard but for those with lots of time to catch them. They leave a light warning and don't realize this person has been warned 15 times in the past because of the way they're misbehaving and the way they're covering it up. The talkpage is an archive of communication, that means all communication including warnings.--Crossmr 22:52, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Until the user reads them. The purpose of these messages is strictly to warn the user that he has been spotted doing the bad thing, and that swift retribution will inevitably follow. They are not intended as a permanent shame marker, but as an inducement to mend one's ways. As for their utility in RC patrolling, this is an incidental benefit, not the main purpose. The main problem with patrolling is not that users remove the warnings—the real problem is that people skip edit summaries. If the policy is made and strictly followed that editors placing warnings must provide a standard, informative edit summary, then the problem is solved: all warnings are documented in page history, visible at a glance, with no possibility of removal. This is far more dependable than vainly trying to regulate/scare vandals into leaving warnings alone. If they conformed with policy, they wouldn't be vandals in the first place. On the other hand, the history page is a permanent record that a user cannot blank. To summarize:
  1. Trying to enforce warning non-removal by imposing harsh penalties is ineffective on vandals, victimizes small-time offenders, stigmatizes instead of reforming, and places an additional enforcement burden on patrollers.
  2. Requiring consistent summaries for placed warnings is good practice to begin with, provides an unfalsifiable easy-to-check record, is less stigmatizing, and merely expects conscientious editors to act responsibly, rather than vainly hoping for conformance from offenders. Freederick 14:03, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

If a user's talk page is long enough that it should be archived, and they then receive a warning, should they still be permitted to archive the page?Edit

Sure. Just don't archive the warning if a reasonable time between its issuance and the archiving has not taken place.--Blue Tie 16:47, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Pages can and should be archived in part when appropriate, leaving recent/ongoing discussion in place. -- nae'blis 22:40, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
As Nae'blis said, using something like werdnabot ensures only discussions of X days old get archived. To me this is a preferred method of archiving as it has less tendency to "archive quickly" to try to cover up behaviour. I've seen this in the past.--Crossmr 22:53, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Archives are only for "dead" discussion. Ongoing/recent discussion should remain in place. Once a warning has been there long enough to be no longer "recent" or "ongoing", it should be archived as well, NOT deleted. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:16, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

But you are free to declare a conversation "dead" at any time. (Archiving is a good way to declare "I have no interest in continuing this conversation). Guettarda 07:52, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Should removing legitimate warnings be treated as vandalism, making reverts to restore them exempt from the three-revert rule and allowing users who repeatedly remove legitimate warnings to be blocked and have their talk pages protected?Edit

No, I don't think that we should give people unlimited licence to edit war on other people's talk pages. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Users participating in RC patrol often rely on the existence of prior vandalism warnings on the current version of the vandal's talk page to indicate whether and how the vandal should be warned again, or whether the vandal should be listed on Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism. Allowing vandals to hide the warnings in the history of their talk page frustrates countervandalism efforts. From my personal experience in countervandalism efforts, I am able to state that RC patrol is a highly time-pressured activity. Every minute that must be spent on combing through a vandal's talk page history is a minute during which a vandalism warning or a report to Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism must be delayed, an additional minute during which the vandal will remain unblocked and may commit further acts of vandalism. Furthermore, while I identify the placement of vandalism warnings in my edit summaries, some users who place vandalism warnings do not supply such edit summaries. Thus, identifying such "no-summary" warnings in a talk page history would involve viewing every diff between edits, a particularly time consuming process. As a practical matter, the time-critical nature of countervandalism efforts demands that the integrity of talk pages as an quick reference to legitimate vandalism warnings be maintained. John254 00:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

  1. Removing warnings should not be considered vandalism.
  2. Removing Vandalism warnings too quickly should be considered violation of the vandalism policy
  3. Removing other warnings should be considered violation of those policies.
  4. Restoring vandalism and disruption related warnings that were removed too soon should not be subject to 3rr.
  5. Users who repeatedly remove legitimate warnings should eventually be blocked for a day each time that happens.

--Blue Tie 17:23, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Yes, removing warnings is vandalism. Warnings are an administrative tool to see how significant or repeated a problem is, so that the appropriate response can be made. Removing them is far too often an attempt to evade sanctions and facilitate further vandalism. GRBerry 04:35, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
  • No, it should not be treated as vandalism, but might be taken into account if the vandalism continues. Whether removing warnings is vandalism or not will not make any difference to the time taken to rc patrol, as page history will have to be checked either way. (people who ignore policy to vandalise are unlikely to take notice of the policy of not removing warnings, are they?) I have also seen rc patrollers give a new user multiple escalating warning *in the same edit* (the mirror image of vandals removing warnings, I guess) I prefer a less-confrontational method of that if you notice a warning you've given has been removed, check if the vandal has stopped. If they have, your warning has worked, so there is no point to create a new conflict and increase tension by starting an edit war. If they have continued to vandalise, you can give them a more appropiate warning. We should remember that warnings/blocks/etc are supposed to be preventitive - not puntitive - and are given to stop future damage, not to indelibly brand a user for their past mistakes. I do worry that some over-zealous rc-patrollers treat "counter-vandalism" as a game, with the number of vandals tagged/blocked as the score. Edits wars can be just as disruptive as vandalism, and allowing free edit wars over a user's talk page in the name of stopping vandalism is not likley to be constructive. It could also end up with absurd situation of blocking a user for the offence of "removing a warning about removing a warning about a minor mistake", where the new user realised their error, but didn't want their nose rubbed in it, but the rc-patroller insisted that the new user wear the "badge of shame" they issued. Regards, MartinRe 21:37, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

No, removing the warnings is not vandalism (though it can sometimes be disruption, which is already blockable). -- nae'blis 22:55, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Edit warring is edit warring. We tolerate it in the case of vandalism reversion, but even there the user is admonished that they should report it at AIV first and only repeatedly revert if an admin doesn't show up to block the vandal in a timely fashion. Edit warring to enforce a potentially insulting message on the user's talk page? No. Never. Repeatedly restoring such warnings is itself blockable as edit warring and/or harassment. Removal of different warnings over a long period of time might well be actionable, but repeated removal of the same warning or removal of several closely related warnings should not. As I've said before, removal of warnings should be discouraged and may be a block-worthy issue in extreme cases or in conjunction with other problems, but should not itself be absolutely prohibitted with enforcement by unlimited reversion and/or blocking. --CBD 16:43, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
    • I don't think That "edit warring is edit warring". I think that there is a difference between things that are done on the pages of the encyclopedia and things that are done on user pages. --Blue Tie 03:11, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes it should be exempt. Removing legitimate warnings is vandalism and furtherance of the behaviour. Its an attempt to cover up as well. If you made a mistake, apologize, that is what an adult does, they don't try and bury the behaviour and pretend it never happened. --Crossmr 22:56, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

  • Yes it is in SOME cases vandalism by disruption. Removing warnings is disruption in almost any case. In malicious cases it is vandalism (by definition vandalism can only be willful and malicious, never accidental). Therefore, only malicious, willful removal of warnings, i.e. with the intent to mislead viewers of the talk page, is considered vandalism. Any other warning removal should be considered merely disruptive. Either way it should be a blockable/semiprotectable/warnable (which one depends on the situation) offense. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:18, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm against beauracracy (assuming i've spelt it correctly ;) but I do believe that if a user removes warnings from their own talk page they are vandalising. I do however believe they should be able to archive them. I also believe we should distinguish between warnings and cautions. I believe others have given the weight towards my argument so I express my opinion and not the why because others have more elegantly expressed the why.--I'll bring the food 18:37, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

If a user stops their problem behaviour, is it okay for them to remove the warning, or should it remain there if there's a risk that they may reoffend?Edit

Vandalism warnings should remain for a determined period. Disruption and edit warring warnings can be removed if the person leaves the subject that created the disruption, or if a suitable period of time without further trouble has passed.--Blue Tie 17:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

If a person stops their problem behaviour after receiving a warning, then the warning has worked. If they subsequently remove the warning, insisting on its re-insertion is simply creating an unnecessary new conflict and increasing tension. People seem to be forgetting that warnings/blocks/etc are a preventitive measure, not a punitive one. Regards, MartinRe 21:02, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Trying to ascertain risk requires a level of precognition I'm unaware of in Wikipedians as a group. If they've stopped, then the warning is no longer "current" is it? -- nae'blis 22:42, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
What constitutes "stopped". One minute? One Day? One week? One month? One Year? Some people are never in agreement with valid warnings. Others say that they will stop and then don't... sometimes on purpose, sometimes because they are clueless. If there is no consistent action, this actually encourages them to rebel further until the consistent action starts and then its too late, they are in a rebellious rut. --Blue Tie 22:51, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
From my experience, you can tell fairly quickly. 5-10 minutes after I've given a warning, people have either vandalised again, or have not done so at all. Also, I would suggest that starting an edit war over the insertion/deletion of a warning gives more encouragement to potential rebels than simply ignoring the warning removal. It is also inconsistant to tell new users that edit warrring is bad, if by insisting they keep the warning, we edit war ourselves. Regards, MartinRe 23:22, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
But if it falls under the vandalism heading, then it is not edit warring. ViridaeTalk 23:25, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
This discussion is about whether or not removal should be under the vandalism heading, so that's debatable. In any case, I think that even if classed as vandalism, a "revert contest" over something that causes no direct harm to the encyclopedia is disruptive and confrontational, and edit warring is a good a name for it as any. Regards, MartinRe 23:45, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it can be removed. The only reason for warnings is an attempt to prevent future recurrence of the problem. If the problem does not recur there is NO reason for that warning to be present. Further, when a warning is removed we should not be assuming that the user is going to violate policy again... that's inherently not AGF. There is no reason for warnings to remain displayed. A convenience for RC patrollers (of questionable actual utility IMO) must not be held to outweigh Wikipedia's inherent policies of treating our users with civility. --CBD 17:03, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

It can go to archive no problem, but it should remain there. Since someone has broken the good faith by behaving badly, we're not required to continually assume good faith just because they so. I've encountered several users who have promised to behave only to be burnt each time. While I'm sure some people do change their behaviour, it doesn't damage them to have the warning properly archived.--Crossmr 22:58, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

What if the sender and receiver of a message disagree as to its validity?Edit

I think that this is the biggest problem with prohibiting the removal of warnings from talk pages. Because most people usually act in good faith or at least believe they are even when they're behaving in a manner against community norms, there are probably doing to be disputes as to whether a warning is "valid" or not. This is just going to cause conflicts to escalate. JYolkowski // talk 17:17, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Criminals always disagree with the law. There is a law on wikipedia. Disagreement with it does not make it invalid. --Blue Tie 17:32, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

And sometimes the "cops" disagree with the law. Consider admins who delete articles pursuant to AfD's or speedy delete articles, if a review committee overturns his or her action, can an editor's post a vandalism warning on the closing admin's talk page? Certainly deletion of material that WP thinks should be kept smells like vandalism when any editor other than an admin does it, so it is within plausibility that such a warning is OK and proper. However, assuming good faith, the closing admin who was doing his/her best at making what may in some events be a close call would certainly think that a vandalism warning (or several by multiple interested editors) on his or her talk page was not valid and may like to remove it (them) rather than be forced to wear them as a scarlet letter. Carlossuarez46 21:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Cops may disagree, but it is still the law. Your point there is sort of weird. Regarding the egregious and weird Admin example that you give, sure they can post such a warning. It is frivolous and harrassment, since the Admin was doing his job. This is like suing the President of the US for lawful official acts. He cannot be held personally liable. It is not ok that such a warning is proper and it can be deleted. I have never agreed with permanent placement of warnings nor have I agreed that they should never be removed. Neither has the polling suggested that this is agreed to either. You are using an extreme example that is already considered and rejected as an appropriate condition for immediate removal of the warning. --Blue Tie 21:50, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
WP policy defines vandalism as "any addition, deletion, or change to content, made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia." WP:VAND That's the WP law -- much less expansive than currently used, and interestingly so constructed that the intent of the editor is always at issue ("deliberate attempt").
I suggest that the wording was not well considered. That it should be "obvious" intent. Its not that I disagree that intent should not be considered, but I do not think mind-reading can be a basis for determining that intent. For example, when I was a new user here, I accidently destroyed someone's talk page. Someone labeled it as vandalism. I immediately apologized and explained myself. No one could have imagined my intent was not dishonorable, but once I spoke up, its reasonable to assume good faith!
I don't think this notion of "intent" has to be wiki-lawyered. Do you?--Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
"Wiki-lawyered" is the oft-used argument when one has no retort -- if holding WP up to its purported standards is wikilawyering which is universally seen as "bad", then let's just dump the standards. Carlossuarez46 19:32, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't know how oft it is used nor would I know what it is used for other than to describe a narrow and overweening focus on some technical detail of a regulation, rule or law here on wikipedia. So I do not understand the rest of your comment. I do not support dumping standards. --Blue Tie 19:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
There are lots of things that I have seen called vandalism: insertion of vanity, facts without sourcing, facts that run counter to other people's POV, e.g., or deletion of any of those sorts of insertions.
Sure, but vandalism has a definition. You just quoted it. Just saying something is vandalism does not make it so.--Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
If vandalism warnings were limited to "vandalism" as explicitly defined at WP:VAND and all other warnings be similarly limited to their defined scope, a stronger retention argument for the warnings could be made. However, I would think in fairness that a warning given that is outside the scope of the defined prohibited behavior is removable at will – such as the admin who receives such a warning after deleting an article where the deletion decision is overturned, or the editor who gets a vandalism warning for sourcing/grammar/POV issues that cannot be shown to be a "deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity...." Carlossuarez46 00:33, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
It is absolutely my feeling that the vandalism warnings should absolutely be STRICTLY LIMITED to Vandalism as explicitly defined. That is the only way that I can read that policy and I had no other sense of it. I do not go along with this idea that you mentioned of all kinds of things being labeled as vandalism. In fact, the policy says it is not vandalism. (And if you look you will even see where I have added a section to what is not called vandalism.) I also agree that a warning given outside that scope of what is truly defined as vandalism should be removeable. After all, it was contrary to policy. But, as in my case, if a person commits true vandalism by mistake and is accused of it by template, just because they were not intentionally vandalizing, does not mean that it was not vandalism. However, upon immediate appeal to the person who placed it, or an admin, it can be removeable.--Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed except that why must the victim of an inappropriate warning appeal to anyone to remove it? And when it is removed does the inappropriate warning giver get a warning for his/her failure to comply with policy? Carlossuarez46 19:32, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I did not say that the person was the victim of an inappropriate warning. They were warned appropriately on the basis of their behavior. However, they dispute it and have a good explanation of how their intentions and the results were different. If the warning was inappropriate to being with, then that is a different thing. It may be appropriate though to always have a second set of eyes on the matter. Then if someone is handing out inappropriate warnings, they can be dealt with. --Blue Tie 02:17, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

How should such disputes be handled, or is it instruction creep to even define a process?Edit

I would say that if someone removes a message, and they don't agree with it, just ignore it unless they repeat the same behaviour that caused the message in the first place. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. If there is a dispute about a warning, pull in an administrator. However, warning tags should contain either instructions or links to instructions about how to dispute it or remove it. --Blue Tie 17:32, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Blue Tie that warning tags must inform the recipient on what will happen if they are removed, and how to go about it legitimately. But could someone explain to me why an RC patroller's time is so valuable that they cannot waste it looking at edit histories, but the time of admins should be taken up having to adjudicate whether or not it is appropriate to remove a warning from a talk page? The argument that the RC patroller needs to act hastily because it prevents further vandalism is moot - if a vandal is that persistent, then they will be blocked in short order and their edits reverted fairly quickly regardless. Risker 06:30, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Depends on the circumstance. An initial warning is useful, to let them know the warning should remain, but if they persist another time or two, it should be brought up on noticeboard or another appropriate place to have more input. Perhaps a 3rd party can put perspective on the warning to ensure its valid or invalid.--Crossmr 23:00, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

This is what we have administrators for. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:12, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Which party, if either, gets the benefit of the doubt?Edit

I do not see why it is necessary that there be a "benefit of doubt". It seems like a nonsense concept here and more fit for a court of law where facts may be in doubt. The records exist that show the behaviors. But if there is some weird case where a benefit of doubt must be given, then, between two editors, the more experienced editor. Between an editor (or two editors) and an admin, the admin. --Blue Tie 17:32, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I strongly disagree. The facts may be plain, the motives or implications may be subject to dispute or doubt. So, there is need for benefit of doubt, which is why we assume good faith. Given that more experienced editors and especially admins should not bite newcomers, any benefits of the doubts should run to the less experienced and non-admin user. Admins have blocking powers which we have all seen may be and have been misused; admins should use those powers with care and not to further an agenda, which we have seen edit wars, wheel wars, and admins ublocking themselves as though they were above the rules. There is a real risk that admins will be viewed as agents of WP and their acts attributed to WP, so if an admin uses his or her powers in an arguably discriminatory way, WP may be held to be discriminating and may lose its tax exempt status. Less experienced users who repeatedly offend are quickly dealt with. Of course, sock puppets are not "less experienced users" regardless of how that may be measured. Carlossuarez46 21:11, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Ok, you strongly disagree. But motives are ethereal. They require mind reading. If you want policy to include concepts of mind reading, you will have to run that through some sort of concensus process and I will be one of those who are not be in agreement. On the other hand, the facts are the facts.
You seemed to confuse the question a bit with the Assume Good Faith thing. The question is not "Should you give someone the benefit of the doubt" but rather a paraphrase of "which side should be the only one to get it". Note that I took exception to this and said that it was a nonsense concept, but answered that in the weird instance where some sort of side HAD to be taken that people with more experience should be given the benefit of the doubt. (I was referring to them knowing what was right and wrong in terms of wikipedia rules. Do you not think that experienced users know more than new people?) But I have already said that all users should be treated exactly the same... new or old. At the same time, some degree of understanding should be given to new uers. For example, some people come here thinking its like posting to a board. They are wrong. Its ok that they are wrong. They just need time to learn. But their actions were nevertheless wrong and need a warning. As far admins using their power badly... sure sometimes they do. They also get warnings and discipline for it. Warnings that they should not remove too soon!
However, you are wrong and do not know the law if you believe their unauthorized acts jeopardize the non profit / non tax status of the corporation. It just does not happen that way. That argument just does not apply here in this discussion.
Finally, as for sockpuppets, its incorrect to think that they are all experienced users. Wasn't it you who was arguing about "assuming good faith"? --Blue Tie 22:06, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
So, motives may be ethereal, as I pointed out above they are part and parcel of the WP policy; take vandalism: WP policy defines vandalism as "any addition, deletion, or change to content, made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia." WP:VAND. See my point about this above. If you don't like the injection of motives into the policy, try to get consensus to change it to some objective standard. But for now, this is the policy. Just like in the real world, motives have to be discerned, not all conduct that causes human death is murder (it could be manslaughter, negligence, self-defense, etc.), it is the motives and circumstances that distinguish it. In the court systems there is (usually) some presumption of innocence, and here there is the assumption of good faith.
As I have said, I doubt that this wording was well considered. It requires mind reading. A better word would be "Obvious". Of course the question there would be "Obvious to whom?". The answer would be "Obvious to me (the vandal fighter)". Others might dispute it but at least it does not require mind reading. It is not that I am against recognition of intent as a matter of enforcement, but it is really hard to legitimately put mind reading into a policy. Even the law requires that intent be shown by acts and words, not by mind reading. Assuming good faith, for example does not require mind-reading. It ASSUMES the intent at first. Then later, that may change based upon observed behavior.--Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Sockpuppets disguise their sophistication because their edit count is undercounted. I never assume someone is a sockpuppet; however, once shown to be, it shows a sophistication greater than their "newbie" appearance.
Unless it is a newbie who made a bunch of accounts their first day. Did you know that this is standard practice on some ISPs? Thus a newbie might think it is standard practice here. Be slow to judge. --Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Yet it still is prohibited on Wikipedia.  VodkaJazz / talk  07:53, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
That is incorrect. It is not prohibited on wikipedia. --Blue Tie 14:39, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
One final thought; if some relative newbie gets some warning, what's to prevent him/her from just creating another newbie account and discontinuing the old one to have a clean slate? If he/she has a dynamically assigned address it would be hard to trace one account having a connection to another. Carlossuarez46 00:33, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Nothing and I have absolutely no problem with that. If I had been given a vandal warning, I am sure that is what I would have done. But I would have been more careful the second time around. --Blue Tie 00:56, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Blue Tie, the 'law' on Wikipedia holds that edit warring is a blockable offense. The 'law' on Wikipedia holds that repeatedly doing something you know annoys another user is harassment and a bannable offense. Under the contemplated policy of enforced display of warnings a 'valid' warning would allow edit warring to maintain its display despite the potentially inflammatory/harassing nature of such... but doing the same over an 'invalid' warning would not be so protected and would be subject to the existing policy of blocking/banning for such activity. It is obvious that users will disagree on whether individual warnings are appropriate or not. And this will presumably be adjudicated by individual admins - who have wildly different opinions on the matter. So, sometimes the user repeatedly removing the warning will be blocked... and sometimes the user repeatedly restoring it. And this outcome will vary for cases which are essentially identical. This is why we strive to limit 'vandalism' to only things which virtually everyone would agree were clearly done with 'ill intent'. My standard for 'warning retention' would be the same... if there is any reasonable possibility that the user was acting in good faith then enforcing display of a warning that may be inaccurate is harassment and should be treated as such. --CBD 17:20, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I would be surprised if the law really regards doing something that annoys others as a criteria. I suspect it must be more egregious than that. As far as the "potentially inflammatory/harrasing nature" I simply say: Do not violate the rules. Why is this such a problem? Mind you, I am not interested in being vindictive or anything like that. But if you violate the rules, there is a consequence. That is the consequence. So don't violate the rules. As far as what conditions under which you may remove warnings, I think that is a discussion for later. It is a secondary issue. I have some ideas, but I think this discussion is too wide ranging as it is. However, to prevent the variations you describe, I think a policy is in order. --Blue Tie 03:53, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
From experience with the bots, I say (1) if sender is a bot, receiver leaves message on bot talk page and removes warning himself with an explanation and link to bot talk in the summary; (2) if sender is a user, leave message on talk page requesting user to remove warning. If sender continues to disagree, contact admin (in some circumstances removing the warning oneself could be applicable, ex. against warning abuse).  VodkaJazz / talk  07:53, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Sometimes there are fundamental disagreements about what should be in an article, or whether an article should be AfD'd. Placing a WP:NPA or WP:V warning on the user page of someone one disagrees with should not be a tactic which can be used with impunity to stifle discussion, with the receiver placed at a disadvantage and forced to display an undeserved scarlet letter or remove it and be blocked. Giving the more senior editor, in time or # of edits the benefit of the doubt is not a good choice. They are not automatically acting in good faith. Edison 04:04, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

In my opinion: Neither. If there is a dispute, the receiver may bring it up on WP:AN and if the issuer is found to be reckless or malicious in negligently giving the warning, they may themselves receive one, or perhaps lose their warning ability. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:12, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Isn't it a bit excessive to expect someone to have to bring a matter to AN? In the event that the person is being harrassed, it adds insult to injury. Guettarda 07:55, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

How often do people actually remove warnings?Edit

How often are people able to get away with problem behaviour because they remove warnings?Edit

My suspicion would be very rarely. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

It is irrelevant how often they are able to do so now.--Blue Tie 17:33, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

  • And they will still be able to do so, regardless of the outcome of this discussion. The only people that it might affect are those that ignore policy by vandalising, but obey policy by not removing warnings - a suitably small group! MartinRe 21:48, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Small enough that it is not a factor to consider? I frankly do not know how many people do this and I am not sure anyone knows because it is unknowable. After all... they "got away" with it. That means it was not found out. --Blue Tie 22:29, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Yet surely there are still RC patrollers who DO check page histories? I know there are, because I do so myself. Eventually any 'warning remover' would get caught... right? In my experience that 'eventually' has always been 'virtually immediately'. I know of only one case where a user 'got away' with something (fair use images on their user page) for a long period of time... and they actually left all the warnings in place. People just never read the whole massively over-sized talk page and thus new admins kept giving warnings for the same issue for about six months. It surely is not irrelevant how often this really comes up. I can tell you that I have seen a few dozen cases where some user was harassed to display inappropriate warnings or valid ones for incidents they have not (and seem unlikely) to repeat. Is there really some need for this practice which justifies the 'collateral damage' which its misapplication and/or overzealous 'proper' application causes? Most of the time I see someone removing a warning it is an established user who doesn't agree with it or knows they messed up and is unlikely to repeat it. Vandals rarely bother. Those who do have always committed lots of subsequent vandalism and been routinely blocked in my experience. I think the vandal who 'gets up to warning level 3, blanks their talk, and then repeats... remaining unblocked for days due to this clever stratagem' is largely a myth. If it is 'unknowable' whether this even occurs - why would we enact a policy to punish it? Especially given the (to me) unacceptable side effects. --CBD 17:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I am not an RC Patroller but I do not think that they do that and do not want to. --Blue Tie 03:55, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

No idea, but I see it regularly. I was a bit annoyed when I found out the WR template had been removed during my wiki-break as I was looking for it within a couple days of coming back. I guess that tells you how frequently it occurs.--Crossmr 23:02, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I am an RC patroller, and I see it regularly. I've found legitimate use for the WR template: most recently User:Thewolfstar and User:Wikipediatrix. They both removed their warnings with the intention of misleading viewers of their disputes into thinking they had not been warned, or had a less checkered history. This is where I believe removing warnings becomes vandalism by disruption. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:10, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Why do people remove warnings?Edit

Should we assume good faith?Edit

Yes, always, unless it can be shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're removing warnings in bad faith. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, but not beyond a shadow of doubt. By the preponderance of the evidence. --Blue Tie 17:35, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

The first time, which was the point of templates like wr0.--Crossmr 23:03, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Do they do so out of ignorance, out of embarrassment, or as a purposeful attempt to deceive?Edit

All of the above. Everyone is different. --Blue Tie 17:36, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

You know, there are a lot of people just puttering around here, watching a few favoured articles, reading here and there, and making occasional edits. As time goes by, they either fade away or get more involved. Most of us don't delve into the depths of policy until it whacks us in the face. It never occurred to me, until I started doing a bit of RC patrolling and thought I should do some reading up, that people couldn't remove anything they wanted from their talk pages. Several of my business colleagues are also editors, and only one out of eight was aware that warnings were supposed to stay on talk pages. Clearly this policy is well known by the people who work with it all the time, but it is unrealistic to think that most users have any idea of it. Risker 06:10, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Agree all of the above. Perhaps even all at the same time. --Crossmr 23:03, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

All of the above. The vandalism/disruption comes from the deception part though. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:08, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

If the warning takes the form of a personal attack, can it be removed?Edit

Warnings that use the templates should not be considered personal attacks unless a pattern of harrassment can be shown. --Blue Tie 17:38, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

In theory, that sounds like a reasonable position. In practice, anyone can create a template saying anything they want. Some templates are themselves personal attacks. I think you would have to narrow that rule down to "recognized templates" but I don't know how we could really define that phrase in a meaningful way. Perhaps limit it to established templates as defined on this page? Rossami (talk) 06:06, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes. But only if it clearly is a personal attack. If this is an attempt to game the system, the remover is disrupting wikipedia and should be further warned, or blocked as appropriate. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 07:06, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Most warning templates spell out, in great detail, "the rules". When used on an established user (ie, someone who should know better, someone who probably knows better) this amounts to telling them that they are too stupid to know [the 3RR/NPA/etc]. This is clearly a personal attack. Accusing someone of an offense unjustly is also a personal attack. If you want to communicate with someone, use plain English. If you want to threaten someone, use boilerplate, but bear in mind that unjustified threats amounts to a violation of WP:CIVIL or WP:BITE. In other words use boilerplate very carefully. When someone is engaging in vandalism, it's ok to say "I can't be bothered to communicate with you as a human being, so here's some boilerplate". Quite frankly, a vandal isn't worth your time. Using something like {{3RR}} on a newbie isn't horrible, but it does say to them "you aren't worth the effort of normal communication". If you are engaging in an edit war with the editor it's unconstructive (you want to engage the person as much as possible, and hey, you aren't blameless if you have gotten sucked into an edit war). If you are an unengaged outsider, then you lose your leverage when you use boilerplate - rather than seeing you as an individual, the person sees you as yet another part of a monolithic system which is "teaming up against them". So avoid them, but if you use them, bear in mind that they may be (reasonably) perceived as a personal attack. Guettarda 08:08, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Should the results of this discussion be documented as part of an appropriate policy or guideline?Edit

Is a guideline fine, or does it need to be policy?Edit

We need a policy. --Blue Tie 17:39, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

A guideline should be sufficient, as it's obviously something different situations, different users, and different types of users (anon vs. logged in, for one) will deal with differently. -- nae'blis 22:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

A policy would be preferred. Guidelines are not binding, and from my experience this isn't a limited problem.--Crossmr 23:05, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Where? No policies or guidelines deal specifically with user talk pages, although there is a guideline that deals with talk pages.Edit

In the policies that deal with the infractions. For example Vandalism warnings and their removal should be on the Vandalism Policy page. --Blue Tie 17:40, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to see a Wikipedia:User talk pages (interestingly, a redirect to a mirrored copy of Help:Talk page now) guideline come out of this, parallel to the Wikipedia:User pages guideline that currently exists. It would allow us to consolidate things like "Don't use your talk page as a blog or social networking node", suggested ways to archive, and how to deal with spurious/valid warnings. I think they're a different enough creature from mainspace/category/template/etc talk pages that it shouldn't be included (but of course referenced) from Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines, as it's really about the individial rather than the project, and like userspace has a certain degree of ownership involved. I'd also support an expansion of Wikipedia:User pages to have a section just about user talk pages, if that seems too much like page creep. -- nae'blis 22:53, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that that makes sense. JYolkowski // talk 01:01, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Does the previous poll on this subject reflect consensus per Wikipedia:Voting is not evil, or are polls evil and a poor way of determining consensus?Edit

Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll does show a consensus for the inclusion of the following language in Wikipedia:Vandalism:

The removal of legitimate vandalism warnings given within the last month is prohibited. If users remove legitimate vandalism warnings given within the last month from their talk pages, the warnings may be restored and additional warnings about removing warnings added. Such restorations are an exception to the three revert rule. Users who repeatedly remove legitimate vandalism warnings given within the last month from their talk pages may be blocked and may have their talk pages protected.

Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll currently contains 25 comments in favor of "Deleting valid vandalism warnings is always wrong", and 19 comments in favor of "Deleting valid, recently given vandalism warnings is wrong", which gives us 44 comments in favor of at least prohibiting the prohibiting the removal of valid, recently given vandalism warnings. By contrast "Deleting valid vandalism warnings related to ongoing disputes is wrong" currently only has two comments, "Deleting valid vandalism warnings is discouraged but should be tolerated" only has 4 comments, and "Deleting valid vandalism warnings is acceptable after reading said warning" has only 1 comment, which gives us only 7 comments in favor of allowing the removal of valid, recently given vandalism warnings under at least some circumstances. Thus, at least prohibiting the prohibiting the removal of valid, recently given vandalism warnings has the support of 86.3...% of the established users who have commented at Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll, which results in a consensus for this prohibition. Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll currently contains 28 comments in favor of "The warning should always be restored and an additional warning about removing warnings added" (in the case of inappropriate warning removal), and only 6 comments in favor of "Issue additional warnings when and if appropriate, but do not try to restore warnings that a user has deleted" with respect to vandalism warnings (there is one comment in this category that only applies to non-vandalism warnings.) Thus, "The warning should always be restored and an additional warning about removing warnings added" (in the case of inappropriate vandalism warning removal) has the support of 82.4...% of the established users who have commented at Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll, which results in a consensus for this language. With respect to the removal of vandalism warnings, Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll currently contains 20 comments in favor of "Repeatedly removing warnings should lead to blocks and/or talk page protection, even in the absence of other ongoing disputes". By contrast, with respect to vandalism warnings, the other categories on this topic only contain 6 comments. Thus, "Repeatedly removing warnings should lead to blocks and/or talk page protection, even in the absence of other ongoing disputes" (in the case of vandalism warnings) has the supoort of 76.9...% of the established users who have commented at Wikipedia:Removing warnings poll, which results in a consensus for this language. There is currently a clear consensus for including the above quoted language in Wikipedia:Vandalism. Furthermore, there's no policy basis for the claim that a poll cannot indicate consensus or be used to make policy. Wikipedia:Voting is evil is an essay, not a policy, and has Wikipedia:Voting is not evil as a counterpoint. Finally, in the templates for deletion discussion for the warning removal templates, there was a strong consensus to retain the templates, and, by extension, the policy which authorizes their use. Note that the TFD discussion was not organized as a "poll". John254 22:26, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

m:Voting is evil is a long-standing essay that's been around for ages. Its counterpoint is much newer, and its editing history demonstrates its relative newness. Voting is evil is something worked out by a number of pillars of the Wikipedia community. They cannot possibly be treated as equivalent. The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia has a longstanding tradition of avoiding votes, and not taking votes all that seriously. The amount of major policy that has been decided by vote currently stands more or less at one piece - blocking for 3RR violations. Phil Sandifer 23:47, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Clearly wikipedia does not have a "long standing tradition" of avoiding all votes. Requests for admin take votes and if you fall below a certain percentage is will almost certainly fail. Members of the board of trustees are appointed by vote. So clearly votes are not ignored when it comes to people or power. Is the argument that votes do not count when it comes to disputed ideas? I have seen this claim that votes are not important on wikipedia before, but I do not see any Policy or any guideline that says "Voting is Evil" or anything like that. Can you point me to one? As a matter of fact, voting is a method of establishing concensus. It is a fair and open method. The problem in wikipedia is that it often involves just a few people -- not a sufficient population. But when you get 50 or 100 people voting the results are more valid. I suspect that people who do not like the idea of concensus by vote are people who hold obscure or unpopular views and typically lose to the majority view and want protection.--Blue Tie 17:48, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Do me a favor. Go to m:Voting is evil and go look at who wrote it. Look at the second person to edit it. Look at the third. Then scroll up, and see that it was worked on by Angela, Mindspillage, Cyrius... these are not people with obscure and unpopular views. Then go look at WP:VINE. It's an essay by all of two people. I repeat - we have a longstanding bias against voting. Even RFA is not, properly, a vote. The vote is a tool used by a bueracrat in making the actual decision. Phil Sandifer 22:10, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Ok. As a favor to you, I went to the link that you gave to an essay.
I note that this is an essay that claims for itself to be concensus but I see no concensus sought or determined. Certainly it is not policy. I read it through. Twice. I agree with the sentiments in it but not the overall logic and certainly not the conclusion.
I did see who wrote it. Also, per your instructions, I did see who contributed to it. Now having done so I can see that my statement: I suspect that people who do not like the idea of concensus by vote are people who hold obscure or unpopular views and typically lose to the majority view and want protection. was wrong. It was too general. But this same error of generalizing too much is also the error of the essay and those who subscribe to its position as well. I see that the WP:VINE article is brand new. I suppose by that and the age of the prior essay that you mean the long-standing wikipedia bias is against polling. I do not take that as good evidence. That someone took the time early on to write an essay on an odd track does not mean it was generally accepted. (Was there ever a vote?) That no one decided to write against it for a while is not a sign to me that the other view is unpopular. I know that I would never write an essay against it because I would think doing so was silly. But I would still hold my views.
Perhaps you... and other people like you have a long-standing bias against polls, but you do not speak for all wikipedians. You are unable to do so. You have never taken a poll to know whether you have their support or not. I would not be opposed to you conducting such a poll.
The RFA is definitely a vote. I do not know why people say it is not. The vote may not be the only factor, but it is absolutely a vote. To say otherwise is to deny the reality of the thing. This is the second time in a week someone has tried to "correct" me that it is not a vote but saying that a duck is not a duck , does not make it a dog and such arguments appear to contradict the obvious and insults the intelligence of others. Furthermore, since it is a vote, wikipedia has used votes for ages and so, your claim that there is a long-standing bias is at best only partly true. If it is true at all, the bias against voting is restricted to certain things -- by certain people. --Blue Tie 23:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Requests for adminship is not a vote. It's permitted and encouraged to enter discussion with people and negotiate a consensus. People who aren't aware of that are at a distinct disadvantage wrt influencing the outcome of a request for adminship. (And that's why there's likely slight bias towards admins who do support consensus) Kim Bruning 21:38, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Here is why I think it is a vote:
  1. candidates are nominated. This sounds significantly like a democratic process involving voting.
  2. The definition of voting is: a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or body of individuals.
  3. It looks like a vote. Just see [here] and you can tell ... people are voting per the definition.
  4. The RFA Procedure actually says that the people are "Voting". Its under the section called "Voting and expressing opinions"
  5. The RFA Procedure defines what percentage of this vote is considered "consensus". Hmmm.
In light of the above (including the plain admission by the RfA page that it is a vote), do you really think it is rational to deny that it is concensus through a vote? --Blue Tie 23:05, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

(unindent) I can see why you might think that RfA looks like a vote, and the points that you make are not without merit (I disagree with to a certain extent, but that's not my point so I won't go further). However, in an RfA, only one of two opposite outcomes are possible: Either the user is made an administrator, or they aren't. However, with regard to this current discussion, there are a whole spectrum of results that could be achieved. In a situation like this, it makes more sense to first work toward consensus via discussion to reach a point on that spectrum that best reflects the desires of the community. A poll may in some cases be okay at the end of this process, to validate the result, but I don't think it makes sense to use a poll to create the end result. JYolkowski // talk 01:10, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Ahh, that is a good point. If only the people here were involved, I would say the way to concensus was to first, discuss, second come to some propositions, 3rd vote on the propositions. Do this in an orderly sequence and to as much detail as necessary, over and over again until there is a resolution. I think that would produce results faster and better. However, I know that with a small enough group, just discussing it might work. But what happens when there is one hold-out and everyone else agrees? Its a problem.
However, we are not the only ones involved as Felonous Monk pointed out. So we need to follow some different process. I do not know what that is and I have asked some questions below. --Blue Tie 02:25, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

It has frequently been contended in this discussion that official policies are not created by voting. For instance, Phil Sandifer claimed that "The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia has a longstanding tradition of avoiding votes, and not taking votes all that seriously. The amount of major policy that has been decided by vote currently stands more or less at one piece - blocking for 3RR violations." [3] Actually, the Arbitration policy was enacted as a result of the Arbitration policy ratification vote. Furthermore, Phil Sandifer himself made major edits to Wikipedia talk:Arbitration policy ratification vote [4] [5]. John254 04:22, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Speaking of the previous poll, I voted today in about five of the sections before realizing it was historical.--Grand Slam 7 14:11, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Is it acceptable for this discussion to come to a conclusion that contradicts existing policy?Edit

I would say that any conclusion that unreservedly encourages edit warring on user talk pages is unacceptable. Small variances with existing policy may be okay, IMHO. JYolkowski // talk 21:51, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Policy is created and modified via consensus; thus, this discussion may indicate a consensus to alter existing policies. John254 22:30, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
There's also a big fish/small fish aspect to policy. A small policy like this, to my mind, cannot alter a major policy like the prohibition against edit warring or the tradition that people's talk pages are their own. Phil Sandifer 23:43, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 01:24, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
"Small" policies can create exceptions to "larger" policies. John254 00:24, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
No - that's the same logic that leads WikiProjects to decide that they can redefine NPOV as it applies to their pet field. Small policies don't get to go against the big ones. Phil Sandifer 01:34, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

If it becomes policy, replacing warnings will fall under the same headings as vandalism - exempt from 3RR. It will not therefore contradict eedit warring policy. ViridaeTalk 01:44, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

There is widespread consensus among the community that users should assume good faith, not bite newbies, and that users can manage their talk page in any reasonable, non-disruptive manner. It would take even more widespread consensus to agree to ignore these ideas when it comes to removing warnings. Nothing, including the recent poll results, demonstrates that there is agreement to anywhere near the degree required. JYolkowski // talk 13:59, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
You could argue that hiding vandalism warning is potaentially disruptive. The majority of user that I have come across dleteing warnings are those that are in the middle of a vandalism spree.ViridaeTalk 14:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I think it's a fairly acceptable axiom that nothing a user can normally do to his own talk page should be considered vandalism. The only thing that comes close to being an exception that I can think of is redirecting it, and that's because it causes a major technical problem. Phil Sandifer 02:15, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
They do not own the userpage though, it is for the community not a personal webspace. ViridaeTalk 02:17, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
There is longstanding tradition that a user controls the maintenance of their own userpage. Phil Sandifer 02:31, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
It is however used for communication with the community and if that communication involves warnings placed by other users then so be it. ViridaeTalk 02:37, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, it's used for communication with the user. It's not a permanent record of misbehaviour. If someone removes a warning, they've seen it, so the purpose of communicating with the user worked. JYolkowski // talk 13:02, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
It is also, in the case of warnings given used for communicating among the community about the user. Warnings allow others (as pointed out) to warn the person appropriately. Do you think the suspected sock templates should be removed because the user (who may or may not be a sock of someone else) has read them? ViridaeTalk 13:56, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
  1. It is appropriate for this discussion to come to a conclusion that disagrees with policy. However, it may not be relevant to anything if it does because....
  2. This discussion will not be superior to the poll unless it can be demonstrated that it contains opinions from more people than the poll previously conducted.
  3. Guidelines may not alter policies and policies may not alter the Pillars of Wikipedia. However, guidelines are equal to other guidelines, policies are equal to other policies and Pillars are equal to each other. Sometimes there will be conflicts. In this case it is up to the Admins or higher authorities to judge the matter.
  4. Removing warnings from talk pages may not be vandalism but they should still be against policy. Even user pages fall under policy and Pillars (But perhaps not guidelines).
  5. I am not in agreement that all warnings are equal. I do not think that there should be a warning policy but rather that each policy that involves warnings such as vandalism, 3rr and others, should include a topic on warnings and the features that pertain to the warnings under that policy. I think, for example, that a persons first instance of 3rr when they are a new user, should not result in a block but rather a warning and a direction for them to read the policy. That process of warning and so forth should be included in the 3rr policy.
  6. Purposes of warnings are A) Inform the editor, B) Better administration of policy leading to a well-regulated wikipedia C) Enhance communication within the general body of users.
  7. I disagree with JYolkowski, Phil Sandifer, and Donald Albury in most of this discussion. I agree with Viridae and John254 in most of this discussion. But in either case, not exclusively.
  8. I am concerned that this discussion asks loaded questions.
  9. I consider it a bad thing that this relatively long-standing concept and helpful method to keep wikipedia well-regulated is under attack despite the clear concensus to the contrary.

--Blue Tie 18:09, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

As for #2, a consensus is the result of people discussing their differences and coming to an agreement that everyone can live with. Polling has the opposite effect. As for #8, feel free to reword or ask new questions. JYolkowski // talk 19:33, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Excluding your statement that it must be something that everyone can live with, you may be right. And if so, then there may already be a concensus on the matter and if so it favors policy against removing these warnings. After all there have been prior discussions on the matter. The effort now, which you appear to be spearheading, is an effort to change policy contrary to prior concensus. Certainly you do not have the concensus support for your weakening of the policy.
As for polling -- it is a means toward concensus. I completely disagree with all the anti-voting sentiment. I recognize that sometimes the sample size may be too small, but once you get over about 35 random samples, you are starting to get a good idea of the total population. Of course interested parties are not "random" but they do represent the population of all interested parties. And if someone is not interested, then so what?
And finally on #8, I do not feel inclined to reword your questions. They may stand as they are. The concensus will still not favor your views even if the questions are loaded.
Understand, I do not believe you are trying to do anything wrong or evil. I am sure you take your position from a positive and moral perspective. But I think your views and efforts are wrong. Neutering the warnings on wikipedia is a bad idea. It is already too open and wild, so that some really good editors have lost faith and heart over the difficulty of keeping good content in. We certainly do not need to make it worse and I think that is what your ideas for policy would do.--Blue Tie 21:36, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Wait, the question is loaded? This from someone who is conflating allowing people to remove vandalism warnings from their talk pages with the idea of warnings in general being under attack? I'll be blunt - the idea of permanant warnings is obscene, and erects a serious barrier in the path of the idea that vandals might reform by permanantly marking their pages with scarlet letters. It flies in the face of civility, of our basic sense of what a userpage is, and human decency. And it's preposterous to suggest that a poll promoted primarily among vandal-fighters (Who are, let's face it, at times a twitchy lot. No offense, and they're essential, and I love them to death, but vandal fighters steadily go nuts, and with good reason.) is a valid way of overturning years-old policy. This is instruction creep, this is uncivil, this is idiotic. No admin needs a rule to tell them that someone who keeps removing vandalism warnings and continuing to vandalize needs smacked in the head, and no admin should suggest that someone who removes a vandalism warning and stops vandalizing is doing anything wrong. Common sense continues to trump all rules, and especially the idiotic ones. Phil Sandifer 22:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
You may have misread me. Here are my specific responses to your accusations or concerns:
  1. Yes, there there are loaded questions here. Not this specific question but other ones.
  2. I am not conflating the removal of vandalism warnings from user pages with an attack on warnings in general. Its not a conflation. It is a real issue. And your insulting accusation does not fit in with the "discussion concensus" approach that you seem to want to favor instead of polling. Or is that your way of swaying me to your view?
  3. I agree that the idea of permanent warnings is, if not obscene, at least a bad idea and wrong. I have said so repeatedly. And as far as I can tell everyone agrees with you. Why do you bring this up?
  4. I agree that vandal fighters can be abusive. To me, that is irrelevant. I am not a vandal fighter. I have had run-ins with vandal fighters who mistakenly corrected me and caused me some injury, but that is irrelevant to this discussion.
  5. Your objection that it is a poll promoted primarily by vandal fighters has a ring of validity to it. But are you suggesting discrimination against them? I doubt it. However, these polls and discussions have been publicized before and guess what? The people who showed up! Everyone else did not. I am not a vandal fighter, but I care. I showed up. You care, you showed up. People who show up count. People who do not care, do not count. Either way. They cannot enter into discussion nor can they vote. That is just how it is. But as long as that is how it is, you cannot claim to be speaking for people who are not here, unless somehow you held a vote and got their authority to so represent.
  6. With regard to "Instruction Creep" type language -- that is simply a way of dismissing the valid perspectives of others. It's like saying someone is a nazi and that finishes the discussion because anything that they say after that is wrong. (Is that your method of reaching concensus through discussion intead of polls?) There have been constant, continual changes to policy throughout the last year. Should we just revert the policy back to June 2004 to kill the demon of instruction creep?
  7. The truth is that Wikipedia is new. The policies are new. The entire policy on Vandalism is just barely 2 years old in its most basic form (it was not even a policy really). The addition (instruction creep) of the warning templates is not even a year old. An active, vital organization needs to keep such things up to date. And such is the case with recognizing the need for handling these warnings.
  8. Regarding Admins, no one has suggested that this is a policy to guide just admins. Yes Admins know what to do. That is a good thing. But its a wiki. Anyone can edit. And everyone does. They need policies. And then... after they learn them, by reading them and practicing them, they may become admins. That does not mean that suddenly, when they become admins, the policies must never change. Common Sense... you know. --Blue Tie 00:33, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
It's not even clear that this addresses a real need in the community. I've read nothing compelling here that users removing warnings is a problem large enough to warrant a separate policy, or that users removing warnings is even a genuine form of vandalism... Disruption maybe, but vandalism? I'm not convinced that it fits the common undertanding of the term. Where's the fire that warrants this policy? FeloniousMonk 17:07, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree it is not vandalism. I do not even really call it disruption, though perhaps it is. I consider it a special class of things. I agree with all the people who do not want the warnings to remain on the pages. However, I agree with the people who do, even more. --Blue Tie 22:44, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Results of Previous DiscussionEdit

  • Removing warnings is Vandalism = 7 votes
  • Removing warnings is against policy but not Vandalism = 14 Votes
  • Removing warnings is discouraged but not against policy = 10 Votes
  • Removing warnings is permitted after they have been read 1 Vote

21 out of 32 (66%) said it should be against policy.

  • You can do whatever you want to your talk page = 2 Votes
  • No you Can't = 14 votes

--Blue Tie 19:07, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

66% is a rather weak consensus, especially since there were so few contributors. I don't believe that either poll results justify the incredibly strong language used at Wikipedia:Vandalism. JYolkowski // talk 19:35, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Huh? 66% is 66%. Nothing to do with consensus. What are you talking about? Kim Bruning 20:12, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that John is saying it is concensus. I am not sure it goes all the way to concensus, by itself, but the history of the policy and the history of policy debates in this area ALWAYS falling in this direction combined with this poll are more like concensus.

John has said that his poll, showing 82% is a concensus. The argument was that this one poll does not count and a discussion should be sought. So I went to a prior discussion and showed that in a prior discussion the argument went that same way also. The history of this policy and the history of the debates in this area, always fall one way. To me, this fact, combined with the latest poll suggest concensus.

--Blue Tie 21:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Are we confusing majority and consensus again? Kim Bruning 00:37, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I do not think I am. But perhaps I am confusing concensus with supermajority. For all practical purposes, even here on wikipedia, that is what it amounts to. RfAs are rejected if only 25% oppose. An editor can be "out voted" in an edit war by only two others (66% supermajority) in a 3rr edit war and must defer to the majority. Can you show me where this is not really the functional sense of consensus here? --Blue Tie 01:09, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
RfAs are rejected because the mostly experienced people who evaluate the candidate decide that they should not be administrators based on fairly sound criteria. Ultimately, a single bureaucrat can reject them if they personally find some serious reason why they should be rejected. Edit wars are not votes. If 3 people are edit warring, rather than discussing, all of them might be blocked for disruption that violates the principle of WP:3RR if not the letter. In the end, there are many avenues of dispute resolution that summon outside examination, which are not votes. AfD, other xfDs, and Requested moves are some examples of seemingly vote-like processes where they are in fact often closed based on the 3 people citing policy and the encyclopedia, against the 10 people with empty votes of vague fanatic sentiments. In the end, the most direct result of this poll would be further discussion based on the outcome and comments in the poll; it is not valid for making a major change to policy, and for a minor change it is a total excess and a waste of time. —Centrxtalk • 04:15, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you cite an instance where a person had a 95% vote but was rejected as an Admin? Can you cite an instance where someone had less than a 75% vote and was accepted as an Admin? If the votes do not factor in, then why is there such a high correlation with results of the vote and successful RfA? Why, when people get lower votes is it said that "there was no concensus"? Indeed, if the votes are irrelevant, why are they requested? Why not just a discussion to reveal issues rather than a very clear and unambigous vote?
Note: See Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Sean Black 2 for a RfA that passed outside the usual boundaries, although not without controversy. -- nae'blis 23:01, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
You claim that the poll is not valid for making a major change to policy. But where does policy say that a poll is not valid for such things? It is simply your personal opinion about the way things ought to be.
Apparently the SuperMajority vote for reinstating prior Admins is lower than for new ones. I doubt he would have gotten the tools back if he got 49% of the vote though. --Blue Tie 23:15, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
While I'm not a bureaucrat and thankfully don't have to make these decisions, I wouldn't be surprised if he was promoted with 49% if all of the people opposing didn't offer any valid reason and were known policy-breakers that he had previously reprimanded/blocked/etc. This is one place where striving for consensus, rather than "one person, one vote" has its advantages. JYolkowski // talk 01:20, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Note that any policy that says change requires concensus might be talking about polling because polling is one method for achieving concensus. As an example, the early organizers of the United States government were very fractured and disorganized in their views. One can read how they slowly came to concensus, day by day. The journals still exist. Their method? Voting. Two or three proposals would be put forth. Discussions would ensue. An vote would be taken. Sometimes the votes were for just one word at a time. In the end, all the delegates signed their names to the final document. It was concensus. By vote.
Before this goes on too far, I should be clear: I do not necessarily think that votes should change policy based upon majority. However, I am absolutely opposed to this weird paranoia regarding votes on wikipedia. I think that this attitude is simply wrong-headed and wrong. Furthermore, I do think that at some point a Supermajority is a reasonble basis for changing policy. Not everyone on wikipedia agrees with all of the policies. Some will vandalize pages. They disagree with wikipedias policies. There is no concensus that includes their ideas. They are in the minority and they take the hit for that. Its just the way it is. And when there is a sufficient supermajority position, it really is an indicator that policy should change. You will never get everyone in a large population to agree, and that is ok. A supermajority is a reasonable concensus.
And there are clear demonstrable instances, like RfA where votes are used, even though people want to claim against all reason and all evidence that they are not. By taking a stand that rejects what is obvious by inspection you give the appearance of someone who does not care about the facts. That is not a good thing.
As far as three people edit warring, I have never seen all three get blocked. I suppose once in a while it happens, but typically that is NOT what happens. I have seen this several times, personally. Complaints to admins produced no results either way. I believe that three people edit warring will only get blocked when it becomes really egregious. But when two gang up to revert what one has written and that single individual runs up against 3rr, he loses. Just about every time. This is not a direct vote, but it is the same effect: SuperMajority wins. If you have not seen this I would be amazed. Granted, when the numbers of participants are small, particularly smaller than 30 or 50 non-random people, the Supermajority could all be, essentially, meat puppets. So the key is a large number.
This issue has been discussed repeatedly. Every single time it has been repeated, the case has been made and a supermajority supported some policy restricting the removal of Warnings. It has never gone the other way. Why does that not count for something? --Blue Tie 15:47, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Please read my research under the Introduction section above, and all the links to it. To say that something which has been disputed for most of the last six months has supermajority support is to distort and misrepresent the situation. -- nae'blis 16:16, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I have read this whole page. I have also read prior pages and discussions. Every time that a vote has been taken at least 66% of the vote went in the direction of this change. That by definition is a supermajority. To deny that this is true, would be a real distortion and misrepresentation -- and I have not done that. Have you? What you probably meant to say was that ever since it was first introduced it was disputed by people with your perspective. You could have added, "and people with our perspective have consistently failed to garner the votes to show strong support for our position." That would have also helped clarify and helped avoid distortions and misrepresentations as well. Or perhaps you have information that has not been presented here (or in the poll or the prior discussion) that will show how that statement is factually incorrect?
Incidentally, I do not appreciate being labeled as someone who seeks to distort or misrepresent. I try hard not to do that.--Blue Tie 16:43, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Nae'blis is right. Also, any consensus reached here is still subordinate to the greater consensus of the community, the vast majority of which does not even know that this is a proposed policy/guideline, much less that some here think it should be official. And that lack of awareness is due apparently to the topic not following the normal process of using the "proposed guideline" template, notices at the pump and so on. Any consensus reached here should not viewed by those holding it as binding on the rest of the community; the community certainly doesn't feel it. FeloniousMonk 16:58, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you Felonious. I am a relatively new user on Wikipedia and it is helpful to have people who have been here a long time bring things like this up. What I llke best about your comment is that, though you have an opinion on the subject, you have not expressed it, but instead you have given a concept for resolution. "Blessed are the Peacemakers"! However, I have some questions for you:
You talked about it as a proposed guideline. Does that include proposed policies? Because that is what is discussed here
Do all changes to policy have to go through that process? Why or why not?
If they do not all have to go through that process, why would this one meet that criteria?
I completely agree with your view about the community. But what of changes that go on every day to policies? Should policies be set in stone? If they are editable, when does the whole community get involved? --Blue Tie 19:19, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

WP:STRAW reminder: "A straw poll is not a binding vote, or a way to beat dissenters over the head with the will of the majority. Even if a large number of people vote for one option but some don't, this doesn't mean that that's the "outcome". It means some people are disagreeing, and that has to be addressed. If you try to force an issue with a poll, expect severe opposition, people adding a "polls are evil and stupid" option and your poll not being regarded as binding." FeloniousMonk 17:01, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

A randomly selected January 5th, 2006 copy of this policy does not mention removing warnings at all. Ditto one from November 4th, 2005, and this one picked from August 2005, or this, which appears to be the first solid version of the page back in August 2004. I'm sorry that I said you were distorting the situation, as what I should have said there was that supermajority support, even if it does exist, is not the same as community consensus for change. The impetus for change, based on the history of this page, is clearly on those who want to include removing warnings as vandalism, and as of yet there hasn't been that support. I don't believe "The history of this policy and the history of the debates in this area, always fall one way." is an accurate summation of the background of this policy. Obviously we don't see eye to eye on this, but I did not intend to malign you. -- nae'blis 17:02, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I think the policy went in about January 8th. I looked it up a while ago, but do not have the diff. It would not be in before then. The Warning Templates were also not in prior to December I think. I do not know when the page became "official Policy" but I dont think it carried that label for the first year. So it might only be about a year old. As far as the support for removing it as a form of Vandalism, I think that there IS support for that in the history. (And for that I am grateful because I never liked it as a form of vandalism). However, I think that there is also pretty much overwhelming support that warnings need to be retained at least for a while. I appreciate your clarification on not maligning.. I hope you trust me, I have no hard feelings and only respect for fellow wikipedians, even when we disagree. --Blue Tie 19:25, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
No, I trust you, we just disagree on this issue. I think calling the removal of warnings/talk page messages "vandalism" stretches the definition too far, but it can absolutely be disruptive when done to recent, valid, and/or ongoing concerns. The WP:DISRUPT guideline already says, based on ArbCom precedent, that "Egregious disruption of any kind is blockable by any administrator", which I think gets at what is trying to be achieved, here in an already established way. I would absolutely support a clarification of talk page guidelines which reminded people of that in some clear way, if that helps us get closer to agreement (and assuming we can find language we like). I'm not sure but I think that's what you're saying above with the sentence "And for that I am grateful because I never liked it as a form of vandalism". As far as when this became policy, looking at page history it seems to have been tagged on January 9, 2006, but that's the day after Wikipedia:List of policies was created, so I would guess it was caught in a sweep of creating the list, and had force of weight sometime before that. Also there's some intersting dialog here in the original archive. I'm going to leave it to FeloniousMonk or some other longer-time Wikipedian to answer your question above about how to make small changes to policy. -- nae'blis 22:36, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

What are the advantages of treating warning removal as vandalism?Edit

So, what exactly are the advantages of treating warning removal as vandalism?

Will it stop vandalism? Nope. Will it stop people removing warnings? Nope. (Being against policy doesn't stop people doing things, so it can't allow other contributers rely on an intact talk page) (The only subset it might affect are people who ignore the policy on mainspace vandalism but obey it by keeping their talk page intact, a subset which I believe is non-existant)

If you spot a vandal, you either check they've removed warnings, or you don't. If you don't check, if makes no difference if it's vandalism or not as you haven't spotted it. If you do check, you can see what they were warned for, and give the appropiate warning anyway. The only difference it may make is to the level of warning, but should you warn a user differently based on whether they made one/two/three vandal edits since the last warning? I don't think so, as a second/third warning should be exactly that, so the fact that one of those "vandalism edits" was a user talk page edit shouldn't make much difference.

Will having warning removal as vandalism stop people with problem behaviour "getting away with it?". Again, I fail to see how. Either you check or you don't. If you check you can see the history and take it into account, and if you don't check, then whether the removal was permissable or not doesn't matter.

The only case where it may make a difference is if you give someone a warning, and they remove the message but do not continue the behaviour that warrented it in the first place. You could argue that by removing the warning they are being deceptive and trying to get away with future behaviour, but, as above, classing the removal itself as vandalism will make zero difference. Plus, if the behaviour has stopped, then the warning worked, the fact that it was removed after reading should not matter.

Thus, the only thing that treating removal as vandalism will do is allow the warning giver - in the situation where the original behaviour has stopped - to either continue to give warnings to the other user, or edit war over their talk page. Both of these are disruptive for no benefit to the enclyopedia, the former by harassing a user after they stopped their problem behaviour, and the latter because edit wars are never helpful to anyone, and both increase tension and conflict where neither was needed.

So, to me, there are no advantages, but with several disadvantages, which is why I cannot agree that removing warning, in itself, should be treated as vandalism. I would also like to point out that we are debating how to treat warning removal - not whether removal should be impossible. Many of the advantages I've seen listed in the debates are only actual advantages if warning removal is technically impossible, and not simply against policy (e.g. relying on an intact talk page) due to the reasoning outlined above. Regards, MartinRe 23:01, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

"Treating warning removal as vandalism" or as otherwise against policy allows users who repeatedly remove legitimate warnings to be blocked and have their talk pages protected, preventing them from removing the warnings, then continuing to vandalize with the warnings hidden. The argument that "Being against policy doesn't stop people doing things, so it can't allow other contributors rely on an intact talk page" is just as specious as claiming that we should eliminate the policy against vandalism altogether because "Being against policy doesn't stop people doing things". Quite obviously, being against policy does stop people from doing things, even people who ignore the policy, because people who violate the policy can be blocked or otherwise prevented from engaging in future policy violations. John254 00:06, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I don't see that as an advantage of treating warning removal as vandalism. I feel that the risk of frustrating newbies by editwarring with them on their talk page, thus turning them off Wikipedia permanently, isn't worth it. Not sure how other people feel with regard to this though. JYolkowski // talk 01:14, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
But people are already blockable for disruption. What does classifying removing warnings as vandalism accomplish that making a case for disruptive hiding of previous behavior (which seems to be the current model) does not? Also, the notion that someone can vandalize their own user talk page is sort of odd, to some people. -- nae'blis 02:10, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I do not believe it should be treated as vandalism. It should be treated as something else. Not quite disruption. More like obstruction.
Incidentally this whole argument suggests to me one of the key elements of deciding upon a government. Do you want an efficient government that gets things done, but might hurt you or do you want an inefficient government that is unable to do things but also unable to hurt you. Of course most people want to strike a balance but there are people on either end as well.--Blue Tie 02:34, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
That's a very astute analogy, actually. Gonna think some more on your post below... -- nae'blis 03:06, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
If a user is repeatedly removing warnings, then obviusly they are continuing to damage the encyclopedia, and should be warned/blocked for that. But warning/blocking a user for behaviour that is not directly damaging the encyclopedia is unnecessarily hostile in my view - remember our goal is protection of the encyclopedia, not the blocking of the maximum number of people. Treating warning removal as vandalism seem to be simply creating a new offence in order to have another stick to beat newbies with. If people make mistakes, we should correct them, and tell them so, but we should not punish them twice for the same mistake, nor require them to wear a badge of shame under threat of blocking. As I outlined above, treating removal as vandalism is not needed: if someone removes and vandalises, you can warn them for the vandalism; if someone removes and doesn't vandalise, then they don't need another warning. The arguements of treating removal as bad, is based on the assumption that they will vandalise in the future with the warnings hidden, and punishing someone for something they may (or may not) do is counter to the basic ideal of assuming good faith. Regards, MartinRe 11:18, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Ok, but there are others who do not share your views. For example, I do not think that removing warnings damages the encyclopedia. I also do not think that requiring people to keep the warnings on their pages is a stick to beat Newbies with. I also do not agree that keeping the warning is in special violation of assume good faith. So, you see, people disagree about some pretty fundamental things. That is why it has not found concensus, either way.
However, I should say that the current policy, as stated is fine with me. It says that removing warnings from your talk page is generally prohibited. This is pretty much a summary of the policy of the last 8 months, but it is a bit vague and "generally" prohibited could lead to some issues down the road. But perhaps the issue has run out of steam because it does not call it vandalism but it still prohibits it... so that is the concensus. --Blue Tie 12:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

A Direction ForwardEdit

I am concerned that we are spinning our wheels here. No good discussion is really taking place. No solutions. This page is like another poll. Each poll gets more and more complex and the issues get all intermingled and difficult to focus on.

Without having a clue about what I am talking about, I am suggesting something else. I believe that if we are going to spend time productively we need an end result. We need a proposal. A proposal that should go forward per the suggestions of Mr Monk to the rest of wikipedia for them to adjust.

I am not entirely sure how we would start:

  • Would we first decide whether this proposal will be a modification to current policy, a new policy, a new guideline or some combination?
  • Would we first settle the details of what is wanted and then let that drive the answers above?
  • Or would we need to first agree on what the major (vs minor) issues really are before we can go forward?

However those things would be sorted out, its still just a proposal we would work on. So that alone takes away some of the need to be completely intransigent on a point -- the knowledge that nothing we did was absolutely final but if we did our best it would be persuasive to the community at large. That sense of things could be helpful to resolution. Because I do not think that there can be agreement (concensus) otherwise. I think both sides are really stuck hard.

I think it would be helpful to JUST focus on one issue at a time, not the whole world of issues like these convoluted polls do. For example, I think the very first and only issue to be resolved is: Is deleting a warning on your user page Vandalism?. This question does not ask, "Should it be treated like vandalism?" or "Should there be discipline?" or "Is it otherwise right or wrong?". It simply asks if it is appropriate to describe it as vandalism. That is all.

Others may feel that the first question is something different. That may even be a matter for discussion. But..If we can get a concensus on small points, one by one, eventually the larger points will resolve.

If we do that, we should probably archive or revise this current page (Both the project and the talk pages) and start over... getting everyone who ever expressed an opinion on the matter involved. (or at least inviting them). Then when we had a resolution on a proposal, we could take it through some larger process.

Personally, I would like to see a development of the software that would allow a different place or way to attach warnings so that they are not flashing on the user screen for all to see but are available for review, like a block log. But that is a technical solution and we do not have access to such things. At best, we can recommend it as an outgrowth of our work here. Our solutions must be human interaction based.

So, there it is. Should we work together in a very deliberate manner to put together a proposal for the wiki community? (The key being -- resolve just one issue at a time?) Is that even a good idea or am I missing something? Maybe there is a better way. I am sort of new to wikipedia. Only here a few months so I do not know much about this system and maybe there is a better way. --Blue Tie 03:01, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I think it's quite difficult to separate the questions, as they are often interlinked. The reasons why someone considers it should/should not be treated as vandalism are often based on the answers to the other questions. For example, if someone simply says it should not be vandalism, you have no idea whether that's because they think it's okay, or whether they think it's bad, and strong discipline might need to be taken, but just not tagged vandalism.
Personally, I lean towards the latter. I regard vandalism as simply "deliberate damage to the encyclopedia", in other words, mainspace edits. Other behaviour outside that space might be disruptive or otherwise need sanction, but it not vandalism. For example, someone blanking sections on an article talk page is being disruptive to other editors discussion, so could be warned or eventually blocked for disruption. However, blanking sections on their own talk page is not damage to the encyclopedia, and is not disrupting any other editors work. (repeatedily inserting a warning on someone else page, could be regarded as disruptive, on the other hand, as it flashes up the new message warning). However, that is not to say that I believe removing warnings should be without consequence. There are many reasons for removal, from embarassment where they learned their lesson, to deception trying to evade future punishment, so giving warnings based on always assuming the worst reason just isn't on. However, since the message has been removed, you can be sure it was read, so any subsequent mis-behaviour can take that into account. Thus, if someone received a {{test}} warning, and removes it, I would take no action at that time. However, if they re-offend, the next warning would be a {{test3}}, skipping a level due to the certainity of them reading the first one.
So, overall, my take is that "Removing warnings is discouraged, and, while not vandalism, may be taken into account for any future action". That I believe would cover both sides, if someone is using removal as deception, it can be taken into account when deciding "punishment" (warning level/length of block) for subsequent misbehaviour, but does not unnecessarily antagonise people by treating the removal itself as a "crime". Regards, MartinRe 11:45, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your response. By your statement, I think that your answer is for us to just tackle the whole issue at once and not in pieces. That is what has been tried and it has resulted in continual disagreement.
I might not have been clear enough about my thoughts. For example, once we had resolved the question about whether it is vandalism, then we could move on to the other concerns you mentioned. The idea was to take it one small bite at a time. Perhaps though, the first question is not "Is it Vandalism?", but I think that there are some basic and small starting points -- places where agreement can start. If it is not a question like "Is it Vandalism?", it might be "Is it wrong?". Right now, I do not know of ANYTHING that can be stipulated to. I do not even know if everyone thinks its a bad thing! To start to come to agreement, we should start with things that are agreed to by concensus and then work into difficult areas.
However, my idea might not be workable. As I said, I do not know what I am talking about.
Looking at your proposed solution, "Removing warnings is discouraged, and, while not vandalism, may be taken into account for any future action" there are problems. Though you believe it covers both sides. the RC Patrollers (and perhaps others) do not agree. They do not want it discouraged. They want it prohibited. They want this on the user page. NOt as punishment but as immediate reference. Your solution does not answer that. --Blue Tie 12:30, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
And to the RC Patrollers I can only say "tough." They do not get to upend substantial parts of both policy and principle so they can keep from having to do two clicks to look at someone's userpage history. Phil Sandifer 13:30, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I see. So, apparently you are not a concensus sort of guy. Its your way or the highway, eh? Suppose the shoe were on the other foot. Would you like to read such a sentiment from the other side? Would you think that you were dealing with someone engaging in a good faith effort to find concensus?--Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Quite the contrary. I am a consensus sort of guy. The problem is that consensus isn't comprised purely of vandal fighters, and that consensus is not just another word for "a big crowd." This proposal and the way it has been advanced go against long-standing tradition, policy, and principle for tenuous reasons at best. That is never OK. Phil Sandifer 15:07, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Conversation regarding policy historyEdit

I do not see how a concensus guy tells other people that it's just "tough". However, I have already shown how this does NOT go against long-standing tradition or policy. You may not realize it but the current policy prohibits removing warnings from user Web Pages. That is the policy that has been in place in one form or another for 8 months. Some people, like you, want to change it and some people on the other side believe that you want to change it for "tenuous reasons at best". Wouldn't you agree that is never OK? However, since it is you who wants the change, don't you think seeking concensus is better than telling the supporters of status quo "Tough"? Do you really think that gets you closer to your goal? Or should they simply say, when you want to change it "Tough". If they did, you, of course, would immediately recognize that they are concensus types of people, right?--Blue Tie 15:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
No. That's false. Eight months ago this concept was inserted into the vandalism policy with ZERO discussion and ZERO prior history of being applied that way. Indeed, historically users who edit warred to reinsert warnings on other peoples' talk pages were routinely blocked by admins and more than once banned by the ArbCom. Inserting a radical change in process onto a policy page does not new policy make, and as a result that text has been repeatedly removed - only to be improperly readded by its proponents without any form of discussion or consensus. It has never been policy or 'status quo'. This current discussion is at least an attempt at gathering a consensus... just not a very successful one. I'm still waiting for an explanation of why warning text in edit summaries is not a viable option. The only thing it 'fails' to do is insult/harass the targeted users... which is a major policy violation inherent in the original suggestion. --CBD 10:35, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Hmm. I made these statements:
  1. The current policy prohibits removing warnings
  2. It has been in place, more or less for 8 months.
You said "That's false". Which if my statements was false. You have added other information that I did NOT say to declare that what I said was false. That is not good dialog.
You say that just inserting text does not make policy. However, MOST of that policy was created just that way. This change was part of the normal on-going process. The reverts are by a few (so far, polls suggest that it is between 12% and 33%) who disagree. I am sure vandals disagree with much of policy also, but this disagreement does not mean that they get their way. And we ignore their wishes despite saying we go by concensus. Their wishes are not included. Because, when it all gets down to it, its sort of a majority rules world. Not that wikipedia is a democracy. More of a mobocracy.
By its longevity and its wide support it has become policy.
You already have an explanation of the warning text in the edit summary. You do not like that answer, but if you really believe in concensus, you must take that view into account in developing a solution. That answer is this: many RC Patrollers are working quickly, leaving the warning and moving on. They do not check the history because it takes too much time. This answer may not seem satisfactory to you, but it is a real concern by others who do not share your priorities. You can only ignore their views by assuming that they are invalid. That is not a concensus approach. --Blue Tie 03:36, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Both of those statements are false. Current policy does not prohibit removing warnings... and indeed policy has never prohibitted removing warnings. As I said, eight months ago people started trying to add that to the vandalism policy without any prior history of such action, discussion of the proposed change, or evidence of consensus. It was repeatedly rejected. I could repeatedly add 'all users with 'Blue' in their name will be indefinitely blocked' to policy for eight months... but that wouldn't make it so. You are incorrect about the way "MOST" policy was created. Most policy was written down to explain procedures which had already been agreed on and widely used - in marked contrast to this effort which attempts to establish a policy which contradicts existing practice. Your analysis of the consensus on this issue also seems wildly inaccurate to me. Finally, I reject the claim that 'people do not check the history because it takes too much time' because it is frankly ridiculous. It requires one extra page load... and not even that if they have the popups script installed or the new one (which I am definitely stealing) JYolkowski introduced below. I've done extensive vandalism patrol and this 'every nanosecond counts' stuff just isn't true. If someone isn't checking contributions and/or page histories they are missing a good two thirds of the vandalism committed. --CBD 11:45, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
You are simply wrong. The page is labled "This is official policy" It says that the act is prohibited. And it has done so for 8 months. You are also wrong that 8 months ago "people" simply added it. It was ONE PERSON. However, it was done without discussion and also without objection. It remained for months. It was NOT repeatedly objected to. It may not be to your liking but this does not make it so. If you had added a statement that anyone with the word "Blue" in their name were to be banned, I would probably object, and hopefully at the time. But no one did. And if I did not object, I would have to abide by that policy. It is policy, even if I do not agree with it. I did not say that "Most POLICY" was created that way. I said that most of THAT policy was created that way. I have reviewed the history on this. The policy was initially created and regularly updated without general user comment. Sometimes the comments by a few were involved. That is all that I can find.
You claim that my analysis is flawed. But I am using the analysis of others who OBJECT to this prohibition. It was not originally my own analysis. However, I agree that general agreement and longevity give rise to where objectors to a policy now have the burden of proof of showing otherwise. That seems fair. I know that you reject the claim of others. That is certainly not the approach for "concensus" is it? To just reject things that others say because you do not like it? --Blue Tie 18:29, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
You say above that 'one person added this concept eight months ago without discussion'. I agree... and therefor when that one person added it the change was not policy. That's the point I have been making... you can't just make up something completely new without discussion and stick it into the policy and have it be so. And you are wrong about people not objecting... I know because I have been objecting for months. As have others. Indeed, all of these polls and discussions and such stemmed out of objections on the vandalism policy talk page. People have been removing this change all along... the fact that it keeps getting re-added still doesn't make it policy. --CBD 21:09, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
We agree on what happened. We disagree on whether that makes it policy or not. If I accept your proposition, most of that policy and other policies must be ignored because so much has been added without recognizable discussion. I know that this is true for this policy and as far as I can tell it is true for others. You also have your history wrong. I am not wrong about people not objecting. No one objected for a relatively long time. Then for a brief time there was a discussion and the nature of the prohibition was changed but not the fact that it was a prohibited behavior. The policy then stabilized for a good while again. Now, with 8 months of history (virtually the whole time that the warnings were part of the policy) there is an objection to the policy for a second time. An objection that the various polls show is supported by somewhere between 12% and 33% of editors who have commented. I have researched this and my research is detailed above (along with the research of another editor along the same lines). It is clear that people have NOT removed this all along and every time it was removed, that removal was immediately objected to, whereas, when it was added, it was not objected to. I would appreciate it if you would give me a little credit. We may disagree, but I do not have my facts wrong; I have researched this pretty well. --Blue Tie 23:31, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Sigh. First insertion of 'removing warnings is bad'. First objection to change. --CBD 12:40, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for sighing. It reminds me that you are impatiently coddling a somewhat stupid editor and of course, I need that sort of reminder to put me in my place. However, in this case, something else needs to be pointed out, namely that you did not quite get it right. For example, the first introduction of a prohibition was on January 7th, with [this edit] by an administrator and long-time editor. Further, the disagreement you quote was in relation to a distinctly different conversation on blanking your own talk page. While one could expect the writer to hold the same opinion as you do, his or her comment was on a different topic. (Also note that his or her reasons are contrary to actual wikipedia policy - namely that User pages are not your private domain.) The first objection to that specific policy - that removing vandalism warnings is in itself vandalism -- did not occur until this conversation on March 28th, one week short of 3 months later.
I would appreciate a less condescending approach to the conversation in the future. --Blue Tie 16:45, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Please don't ascribe negative motives. The sigh was exasperation rather than any of the lengthy and extremely detailed meanings you invented for it. Exasperation because you continue to tenaciously cling to any pretext for claiming that this was 'once accepted policy and only objected to later'. It was never accepted. People have always objected. You dismiss the February objection because it was about 'page blanking'... but that seems disingenuous since it was specifically in reference to page blanking to remove warnings. The very heart of the issue. Yes, there was a separate section (since deleted) with a similar concept (that removing warnings is not just prohibitted, but actually a form of vandalism) a month earlier... but that too was challenged immediately. See Wikipedia_talk:Vandalism/Archive_2#Lets_sort_out_talk_page_policy_once_and_for_all. Note that Crotalus Horridus objected on January 6th right after the suggestion was made. Yes, it went into the policy and got lost in the edit warring to revert anon vandalism to the page (this was pre semi-protection)... but there were objections from the first. It was inserted without consensus and in contradiction of past practice (as Crotalus noted) and only remained in because people kept re-adding it. There were objections in January. There were objections in February. Indeed, there have been objections regularly since it was introduced. This is not the 'previously accepted standard' that you paint it as, but rather something which has always been disputed. --CBD 18:07, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I suppose exasperation is a good motive and that coddling someone a bit stupid like me is a bad motive. I appologize for misinterpreting. However, you seem to be exasperated with me for bringing forward things that you do not like and condemning them as "pretexts" and "exasperating" rather than treating them as though they might have validity. I suppose this is your way of arriving at concensus, but it seems rough to me.
I never intended to be disingenuous as you accuse. The page blanking discussion was NOT a discussion about removing warnings. Indeed, the objection you quoted was a response to a comment from January 3rd, and was in response to prior issues about comments not warnings. It was also based upon a perception of user pages that is contrary to wikipedia policy. Nevertheless I clearly admitted that the author might have exactly the same perspective that you have. However, the plain fact of the matter is that he was addressing a different issue. Sometimes people are very emphatic on one thing and then have a slightly different perspective when the subject changes, even slightly. You cannot use an objection to a different matter as support for this position. THAT would be a sort of "pretext" or might be 'disingenuous" and you will note, that I am not doing that. I would appreciate it if you would assume good faith in future discussions. THere is no reason to be unpleasant and it is not the kind of communication that leads to concensus. You are a concensus kind of guy, right?
I notice that you bring up Croatalus' supposed objections. But if you look, you will see that Crotalis objected to removing COMMENTS not to removing WARNINGS and so they cannot apply to the statement regarding warnings. (Comments and Warnings are substantively different things). Furthermore, his objections were brought up BEFORE the edit describing the removal of warnings as vandalism and so, again, they are not able to be applied to something that was put on the page later. It is a temporal impossibility. The time arrow only goes one direction, strangely.
You do not seem to have the history correct and I recommend to you the recitation of that history by myself and naeblis at the heading of this discussion page. Here are specifically the things you do not have right:
  1. There were objections to this policy immediately. --- There were not.
  2. There were objections to this policy in February. --- There were not.
  3. There have been objections regularly. --- Not exactly. Two incidents of objection and this is one of them. In both cases, when the policy was changed to reject the notion that warning removal was prohibited there were IMMEDIATE objections to THAT change and so far, the Super-majority of people polled on the issue have objected to that removal.
  4. It has always been disputed. --- See my analysis at the top along with the research by Naeblis to see that it was not always disputed. It was sometimes disputed. This is one of the times.
Please note that I am not discounting or rejecting any of your valid or fact based arguments. Neither am I rejecting your opinions about what should be done. I accept them and acknowledge that we may disagree and I acknowledge that good people may disagree. I request that you treat me with the same respect. Regards --Blue Tie 19:26, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Right then... I don't know what more to say. Various of your statements above about people not objecting seem clearly false to me. I have provided links but apparently they do not say to you the same things they do to me. Not much more to be done about it at that point. --CBD 12:03, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Weirdly, I see your statements as clearly false as well. Perhaps it is a communication error. I did not say that there were never objections. I said that the objections did not occur as you said that they occurred. I also said that your examples of objections (the links you gave) were invalid and gave specific reasons how and why they were invalid (mainly they were referring to other topics). However, I never said that there were no objections, and I pointed out when they occurred. If you feel that I said that there were no objections, I hope I have corrected that impresssion. If, on the other hand, you understood that I do not see your examples as valid, then you got that right. But rather than accuse me of irrationally declaring things not to exist, why not give my arguments a sincere read and response? By not doing so, it feels like you are simply dismissing my counter-arguments out of hand without due consideration and lightly smearing me with being irrational. It would have been better to simply drop the conversation than to demean the person on the other side of the discussion.
Perhaps it will help you feel that I am not just a silly, mindless opponent if I mention that I think you were entirely right on the recent wheel war regarding that fellow named MassiveEgo or whatever his name is. It was not obvious upon inspection that his RfA was a joke or trolling effort and even if it was, it was harmless -- so assume good faith. The block was, in my view, egregious. I think this fellow may have had a history (it seems so) that made him a target, but I think the history unjustly colored the view of the RfA, which arguably might have even been sincere. (What some may have seen as a joke may have been a matter of immaturity in expression.) In any case, I think you took a principled stand and if I were an Admin I would have supported you. I do not say this to curry favor with you in this discussion but perhaps to demonstrate that my mindset is not necessarily that of someone who is completely different from you. You may have somehow come to the conclusion that I generally hold really harsh, intransigent views and that such tendencies on wikipedia need to be countered wherever they are found. Perhaps, knowing that I am not such a harsh-minded person, you can look at my statements with less internal stress and animosity toward me. I hope so.--13:19, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Conversation ContinuedEdit

(Unindent)I don't think you are "a silly, mindless opponent", "a harsh-minded person", "a bit stupid", or any of these other things I have not said. Please stop assuming that I am assuming that yo... er... someone... assumes. I'm lost. Whatever... don't do that. It's making me crazy. Admittedly, with the other issue(s) you mention, my 'wikistress' level has been a wee bit higher than normal lately and I suppose I've been a bit short, but it's because I don't really want to deal with this right now... not because I think you are the spawn of Satan or whatever other characterization comes next, but just because I didn't get why you were disagreeing (though I may now). The short answer is that it really is a direct disagreement on the evidence. The links you say are not about removing warnings I am completely convinced are about removing warnings. A less than positive development, but after reading your rebuttals again I think I may know why... you weren't here. Or at least weren't active in that area at the time. So you are looking at those messages and saying, 'ok they are about people being able to blank/remove comments from their user talk pages... but that isn't the same thing as removing warnings specifically'. Am I understanding you correctly? If so... that is a reasonable reading of the links, but some of the comments in February stated clearly that the discussion was about warnings ([6] [7]) specifically and not some 'other type of comments/blanking', and I am certain the January comments / changes were too because... I remember the context of the numerous inter-related discussions and that the intent of these 'users can remove stuff from their own talk pages' comments specifically WAS in relation to warnings. Which... I suppose I will have to actually dig up references for now to make my case. Let's see, well Template talk:Vblock#User space is a good start. The concept was introduced there (and, as shown at the link, was contested in December) before it made its way over to the policy. Then, as I mentioned before, Crotalus Horridus made changes in early January and comments on the talk page about them - which we are again reading as being about different things, but... his next two edits right after that were these notes to people about the issue; [8] and If you want to make a special policy that it is vandalism to remove administrator warnings, then that can be discussed, but it should not be implemented without first attempting to achieve consensus. That was on January 6th. And hence my statement that there has been opposition to 'removal of warnings is vandalism / not allowed' from the beginning. I'm sorry I didn't make my case more clearly before. I can see that the previous evidence didn't provide enough background. I was reading 'intent' as I remembered it rather than considering how the text might be interpreted without further context. --CBD 23:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

I apologize for not responding previously. Not sure why but I did not see this. Here is what I note:

  • There was a discussion related to the policy on February 9 where someone had a problem with it and was given advice from an admin which I considered to be sound. It looks to me like the objection was not to the policy per se but to a warning placed as harrassment.
  • You are certain that the discussion in January involved the policy but I have looked at that discussion and did not see any such mention.
  • You brought up the user space dialog, which I did not see before and which I value as particularly interesting. It shows that this was a process used prior to formalization as a policy but it was a practice that some did not think was workable or right.
  • You mention Crotalus objection to comments in January again, though as I recall, these were prior to the addition of this matter in the policy. This time you bring in his comments on the User Talk page discussion. I note that this discussion appears to conclude that it is both practice and policy that removing warnings is treated as vandalism. Some people did not like this but that was apparently how it was.
  • One of the links you give regarding Crotalus is again, definitely about deleting COMMENTS on USer talk pages, NOT WARNINGS. Again, I do not consider this the same thing.

With your research I can see what you mean by saying that I was "not there". Its true. I wasn't. And what you are showing is that some people had objections. When this principle was discussed, it was chiefly one user User:jguk who objected. Several other users countered his or her objections. It certainly appears that prior to this being written as policy it was practice and considered desirable. It also appears that it was not something everyone liked. Are you aware of any other policies that are not universally loved? Yet, despite objections are they not practice and policy?

I hope I have responded appropriately to your research. I appreciate it and I think some sort of subpage with a history would be interesting, though at this point I have my doubts the history is important. --Blue Tie 04:00, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Your evaluation of the situation is completely at odds with reality as I perceive it. Seriously. That just doesn't bear any resemblance to what I read in the links I provided. Allow me to demonstrate by pairing some of your comments with those from this link;
  1. "You are certain that the discussion in January involved the policy but I have looked at that discussion and did not see any such mention."
    "If you want to make a special policy that it is vandalism to remove administrator warnings, then that can be discussed, but it should not be implemented without first attempting to achieve consensus."
  2. "I note that this discussion appears to conclude that it is both practice and policy that removing warnings is treated as vandalism."
    "That section was inserted into Wikipedia:Vandalism only a couple of days ago, without adequate discussion. ... There has never been any consensus for the latter policy, and, as I have pointed out on Wikipedia talk:Vandalism, several administrators and arbitrators have policies indicating the opposite posted on their own user Talk pages."
  3. "One of the links you give regarding Crotalus is again, definitely about deleting COMMENTS on USer talk pages, NOT WARNINGS."
    "If you want to make a special policy that it is vandalism to remove administrator warnings, then that can be discussed, but it should not be implemented without first attempting to achieve consensus."
We are looking at the same words, but the conclusions you are coming up with seem to me to be the polar opposite of what the words actually say. As such, meaningful communication seems all but impossible. --CBD 20:24, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Conversations on Scarlet Letters, harrassment, civility, etc.Edit

I agree entirely with 'discouraged and may be taken into account for future action'. If a user is clearly removing warnings in an effort to continue getting away with prohibited behaviour that makes their commission of the prohibitted behaviour worse and suggests that they may intend to continue it. Worth considering when deciding on possible blocks, ArbCom, et cetera. But that's it.
Blue Tie, you say you want to 'prohibit' the removal of warnings. I want to 'prohibit' the restoration of warnings. However, the two are not actually contradictory. We might leave a warning removed, but still sanction the user if the warning was valid and they repeated the behaviour after removing it. That should answer any actual 'abuse' concerns about the removal of warnings... if someone removes warnings to get away with a repeat of prohibited behaviour they get blocked.
Are you suggesting that *IF* a user removes the warning and then repeats the acts, the consequences should escalate faster and harder? Or are you suggesting that it can be removed and nothing special happens?--Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Easy as that. However, I begin to think that this isn't really about these fictional 'stealth vandals' at all. You said yourself that the goal was 'immediate reference'... and I'm sorry, but just no.
"Just no?" is that your method of arriving at concensus? I have no idea about "stealth vandals". I have never argued that there was such a thing. And I have not only limited my views to "vandals". --Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Your convenience cannot be justification for such an inherently disruptive practice.
It is not my convenience. I am not an RC patroler. I do not think this is an inherently disruptive practice. I do think that inherently disruptive people will find an excuse though. --Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
If you want an easy reference system I don't think anyone has a problem with that as a concept... just the negative side effects of the suggested methodology. Find a better way.
It is not my convenience. I am not an RC patroler. I do not think this is an inherently disruptive practice. I do think that inherently disruptive people will find an excuse though. --Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
There is no reason RC patrollers couldn't adopt distinctive standard edit summaries and build them into the anti-vandal tools.

That is a fair idea. However, I do not think that this handles all of the problems.--Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
For example, '*** Level three vandalism warning ***', would stick out just fine in a page history and allow the sort of easy reference you are looking for. --CBD 18:08, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Standardizing RC/CVU edit summaries per above seems to make more sense than trying to legislate morality;
There is no such thing as NOT legislating morality when behavior is the subject of the legislation. It is all morality. Are you arguing for anarchy? I bet not. I have a feeling that you are, instead, using a poor approach to support your argument.--Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
vandals (unless they're admins, which is a whole different class of Venn diagrams) can't touch the edit summary, so it would assist RCP while not forcing users to carry around scarlet letters.
The Scarlet Letter issue would be moot if the warnings could be removed after a suitable -- but longer than a day or so -- - period of time.--Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
And if the talk page gets so many edit summaries that the last warning scrolls off the first page? Either there's something funny going on (disruption, again), or the user has reformed and been applauded, or they're escalating and no longer going to be an editor very much longer... -- nae'blis 21:33, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Its weird. The more I read about how we do not want to annoy people violating the rules, the more I feel that we need to do just that! I realize this is silly but it is an emotional sort of reaction. Emotionally I feel that people are arguing against responsibility. --Blue Tie 04:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
They're arguing against irresponsibility of vandalism patrollers I think. I guess that allowing vandalism patrollers to act less responsibly probably does not automatically make vandals more responsible. :-) Kim Bruning 09:13, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
While unneccessary abuse of 'people violating the rules' is a bad thing, it is not what I think most of us are primarily arguing against here. I'm much more concerned with annoying people who AREN'T 'violating the rules' or who did so only in a minor/unintentional/unlikely to be repeated way. Which has happened regularly since people started trying to enact this 'warnings must be retained' process. People disagree about what is and is not 'neutral point of view' every day. People mis-classify content disputes and other things they don't like as 'vandalism' every day. And then they put warning tags on the pages of good contributors and revert to keep them there because they think their interpretation of 'NPOV' or 'vandalism' or whatever is correct. Meanwhile, the other user has done little or nothing wrong and is being blatantly harassed. The standard 'this process only applies to valid warnings' attempt to dodge that problem is meaningless because the people applying the invalid warnings most often believe they are correct, and the new users being harassed most often don't know that they can ignore 'invalid' warnings or what does and does not count as 'valid'.
This is not a 'make believe land' where only "people violating the rules" will be impacted by this process. The 'law' is interpreted differently by lots of people and it will be used against completely or largely innocent people frequently. As it has been to date. Needlessly annoying vandals is not a good thing. Needlessly annoying good users is a terrible and unacceptable thing. --CBD 10:55, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I just do not think this is a big a problem as you do. But if it is, I have no problem making part of the policy that anyone using the policy to harrass or injure another person will be blocked. I have to say though, that I have never been accused of vandalism when I have been editing properly. And I have never seen anyone accused of such things.
Incidentally, I think the focus on vandalism is twisting the discussion. There are also other warnings. In particular, warnings to people who have engaged in disruptive behavior, edit wars and the like. I think that in those cases (as opposed to vandalism) the wearing of a scarlet letter for a while is appropriate. I did not think that previously, but since this discussion has started and I thought about it, I think it might not be such a bad thing. --Blue Tie 03:36, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
As I thought. You are arguing that incivility and harassment should be allowed (against some users). To me that seems the primary actual motivation behind this effort... and a direct contradiction of bedrock Wikipedia policy prohibitting such. You say that edit wars are disruptive and should be cause for being forced to 'wear a scarlet letter'. John254 has edit warred with half a dozen admins to keep re-inserting this view into the vandalism policy. By your formulation this means he should be embarassed / harassed by having to display a big red 'stop sign' warning on his page for months. Can you really not see why this 'might be a bad thing'? And if you have never seen anyone falsely accused of vandalism... wow. Look around more. That happens a dozen times every day. --CBD 11:45, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
As you thought, eh? Your failure to assume good faith has led you to draw some bad conclusions. I am not interested in either incivility or harrassment of anyone. I have not argued for it. It is offensive that you have ascribed these arguments to me, when I never made them and never thought them. Furthermore, in making my comments I was really thinking of older users not new users. You are well focused on new users and vandalism and I am not. I have never said that "edit wars are disruptive and should be cause for being forced to wear a scarlet letter". That statement is too general compared with what I said. I would be grateful if you would actually read what I say and take my comments in good faith. I get the distinct impression that you read all my words in the most negative light, which would be wrong.
You said that you think that 'making people who have engaged in disruptive behaviour wear a scarlet letter might not be such a bad thing'. I strongly disagree. I consider that incivility and harassment targetted at 'disruptive' people, but inevitably spilling over to others. You object that you edit wars "should be cause for being forced to wear a scarlet letter"... which is strictly true, but as you did say you thought it "might not be such a bad thing" I'm not seeing a really large distinction... 'should be forced' vs 'might not be so bad'? Either expresses some degree of support for something I strongly oppose. --CBD 21:09, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Section break for editing easeEdit

(Unindent)Yes, I said that making people who have engaged in disruptive behavior wear a scarlet letter might not be such a bad thing. However, in saying that I was not encouraging either uncivil behavior nor harrassment. I also do not consider blocks to necessarily be uncivil or harrassing behavior, even though, sometimes, blocks are given wrongly, just as warnings are. Even though you do not see a really large distinction between uncivil and harrassing behavior and the enforcement of standards and rules, I think most people do. For example, when a police officer arrests a rapist, it is typically not seen as uncivil and harrassing but instead as a positive thing that is leading to more civil and less harrassing environments. But you may have a different view of things. Here on wikipedia there are some rules of behavior. Enforcing these is not harrassment even if you do not agree with the rules. The issue here is, "What should those rules be?". I think that concerns about abusing these rules is wrong. For example, there is a rule regarding 3rr. Some people feel that this rule permits them to edit war up to 3 times in 24 hours. This would be an abuse of that rule. That such abuse may exist is not cause to remove the 3rr rule. So also for other rules. And so also for this rule.

Now I accept that you are strongly opposed to every and all things related to these warnings. That is fine. But please assume good faith in the discussion. Is that really so hard?

In the case of wearing the "Scarlet letter" my main reason is not harrassment or to be uncivil, but rather as a communication to other editors to be more careful with this contributor and understand that some special efforts must be made because they tend to be disruptive. I consider this different from harrassment and incivility, but I accept that you do not.

--Blue Tie 15:26, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

You might not see requiring someone to wear a scarlet letter as harrassment or uncivil, but please consider how the recipient feels. They may have made a mistake and recieved a warning, and by removing the warning and not continuning the behaviour they are saying they heard you and the warning worked. Continuing to tell them about their first mistake, popping up "you have new messages" every time is very uncivil behaviour, even if the giver thinks it's justified. You make a big point about assuming good faith, but by forcing a person to don a scarlett letter, that is itself assuming bad faith of them, by assuming they will misbehave in the future.
The comparasion to 3rr isn't very apt in my view. There are abuses of 3rr, but it also does some good by stopping edit warring. However, while there are abuses of this rules, many of which have been documented here, I fail to see what good it has done. Can you give any example of where this rule has benefitted the enclyopedia? Having RC patrolled myself, I have not seen any case where it has. If a particular rule is never used well, and is very often abused, that is a cause to remove that rule - do you not agree? Regards, MartinRe 15:53, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your considerate and thoughtful response.
Not only do I not see (valid) warnings as not uncivil and not harrassment, I also do not see blocking as harrassment or uncivil. Nevertheless, sometimes blocks are issued in error and sometimes people feel pretty bad about getting blocked. Some want to leave the project. Some want to get revenge. There is a whole website devoted to people with revenge feelings against wikipedia. While I do not think that feelings are trivial or a matter of no concern, I also do not think that they can be or should be the first priority either. This is building an encyclopedia, not a social experiment or self-help group for the sensitive soul.
Moreover, you are focussing again on new users and vandalism. I am not focussing on that. Many of my concerns are realted to the user who is continually disruptive or abusive with others but just staying on this side of the line of not being blocked. Examples might include those who "own" an article and refuse to allow edits that they do not agree with on principles that are utterly contrary to wikipedia, those with agenda and those who are irrational and illogical and those who are rude and abusive. Not only do such warnings help advise others, but they serve as a reminder to the user that their behavior is not in comportment with acceptable standards on wikipedia.--Blue Tie 17:15, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Regarding good faith, I see your point. People do make mistakes. In that case, perhaps deletion of the very first warning a user gets makes sense, but not the deletion of subsequent warnings... until a suitable period of time or some other condition exists.
As far as the comparison to 3rr, I compared it because it is a policy. I do not believe that some policies are specifically superior to others (I consider the pillars to be above policies though).
I do not completely understand your question about the abuses and what good it has done exactly, but I suspect I could not answer it even if I did. I am not an RC Patroller, I am not an administrator. I do not have that sort of insight into things. However, I have edited a bit. I think it is helpful to me when I see an editor who has had frequent warnings so that I know that I am dealing with someone who is a few sigma from average and that I need to take a more careful approach than normal and that if I fail, it may not be a problem with my logic or processes. To me, that is a good thing. To you, maybe it is not. I do not think that people should have to keep warnings on their page forever, because I believe people can change and improve. I certainly hope that is true in my case.
I am, however, greatly concerned about abuse of warnings. Using warnings to harrass should be a very serious violation in my view. And ....Maybe there should be a difference between those warnings issued by ordinary users and those issued by admins.--Blue Tie 17:15, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Responding to your points roughly in order:
A warning, by its nature, is bound to be somewhat negative, even if nicely phrased, even a "please don't do that" can make people feel a little upset. However, that's part and parcel of giving a warning, especially if valid. However, in the case where the user has removed the warning, and you re-insert it, it then becomes a "PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!" - even if the wording is unchanged, the fact of repeating it makes it more abrasive.
I partially agree with you about not treating feelings as 1st priority, that is only so far as I do not think that warnings should be withheld soley because the person might be slightly hurt, but we should always respect other contributors so as to minimise the hurt, only giving the minimum warning required to accomplise the aim. We should, however be concerned about making people feel bad enough to leave the project, both for new users and old ones. New users often don't understand how wikipedia works, so if the first thing they experience is an edit war over their talk page as they removed a warning over their inital mistaken action, then they are highly unlikely to want to help. We should be wecloming, not contfrontational, even when correcting mistakes.
It is the same for long time users, there are many productive editors who can be difficult to work with, even downright incivil at times, but is there a nett benefit to the enclyopedia by forcing them to keeping warnings on their page as the most likely outcome would be for them to leave the project altogether. Surely if someone is abrasive, the last thing you should do is start an edit war over their user talk page? Isn't that like poking a sleeping snake with a stick?
For those that POV war, WP:OWN, there are many ways of coping with that WP:30 and WP:RFC are just two examples, or even the article talk page is the best place to start. However, one problem I have seen is that all too often, people label edits they disagree with as "vandalism", even if it boils down to a content dispute. So, you have cases of editors giving vandalism warnings because their POV is different, and if the receiver removes the warning, they get slapped with a {{wr1}}, and so on. So, they either have to put up with the warning or remove it and get blocked for vandalism. So you can get two editors involved in a a content dispute, and one can get the other blocked for "vandalism" by giving a warning and insisting on its retention. That to me is wrong, turning a content dispute into vandalism warnings by indirect means does not encourage discusssion over disputes. Also, the reaction to warning removal itself does not encourage discussion, if the only reaction someone gets is the same warning repeated or a warning about the warning. (That's why I think templated warnings to long term users are not productive. they are likely aware of the policies, and a personalised one line message is more appropiate than a undirected generalised one) Regards, MartinRe 18:10, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Hello Marin. I agree that warnings lead to bad feelings sometimes. And the concerns about warring over user pages is legitimate. A new user, not knowing the rules can do something wrong, get a warning and then have it escalate. I am opposed to that as a process. I think it bites the newbies and it is not in the interest of wikipedia. But I do not think that removing of warnings is a good thing, or that in every case it should only be "discouraged". The problem is that there are some RC Patrollers and others who do it badly. I think that the "doing it badly" needs to be corrected.
I also agree about respecting editors. New people do not know the rules. They should given some leeway for that reason.
I am not particularly bothered by the idea that abrasive and unpleasant editors who cannot get along, leave the project. Every community has standards and wikipedia also has standards. Those who cannot fit in must either change the society, change themselves or leave. That's just how it is.
I also agree that labeling edits you disagree with as vandalism is bad. I view it as a special category of disruption that should not be tolerated. This is exactly the kind of user who should be warned and should be made to keep that warning on their page for a while both as communication to others and as a reminder to adjust their behavior.
I like your "one line" approach to long-term users. However, I think a formal warning is really more appropriate sometimes. There are disruptive and pathological people here who can live within the rules yet cause trouble. (Some of you may think that I am one! :-) )
I want it understood, I am not arguing for abusive practicies. I hate them. After all, I might be a victim of them. So perhaps I see things this way: Some users may have greater privileges than others. Maybe administrators. Maybe there is room for another group of users, not quite admins, but not quite the wild new user, who gives warnings which may not be immediately removed. Perhaps users with 6 months good history or something like that. I like to believe that such people could do a fair job. Regards back at you. --Blue Tie 19:49, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm probably more concerned that you about abrasive editors leaving, if they are otherwise productive. The rude, unproductive editors get blocked swiftly as they are here for the wrong reasons, but a good faith, useful editor with a harsh attitude should be encouraged to contribute while tempering the harshness. I have also found that it is interactions between people that are abrasive, and not individual people themselves. How often have you seen two people just not get on, but they are both fine with other people? Or a person who's calm, except when they're editing certain articles? There are many ways to deal with such editors, and requiring them to keep warnings (often from the person who they don't get on with) on their page is not the most productive way, and is often just escalates the situation.
I'm glad you agree that mis-tagging vandalism is bad, but do you see that following the policy as (previously) written benefits the party that abuses this? If two people are in a content dispute, and one labels the other a vandal, the one receiving the warning is put in an impossible position, leave the unjustified warning, or remove it and be warned again (possibly by a different person). I mentioned that this policy is a stick to beat newbies, in this case it can also be used as a stick to try and "win" a content dispute. (and if it continues, all it takes is an admin who follows the policy that "removing warnings is vandalism", and the user who didn't mislabel vandalism ends up blocked. Not good, eh?
One final point before I hit the hay. I see you've (re)-added the sentence "...except in cases of legitimate warnings, which they are generally prohibited from removing, especially where the intention of the removal is to mislead other editors.". I would point out that a problem with this as written is - how do you know what their intention is? The simple answer is that you can't. That is why I lean towards taking warning removal into account on subsequent actions, but not penalising the removal itself. Punishing the removal itself is assuming that the removal was with bad intent, which is assuming bad faith by definition. That's why I'd prefer a "Removal of warnings is discouraged, and, while not vandalism, may be taken into account for future action, especially if it shown (note: past tense) that it was done as an attempt to deceive. Regards, and good night. MartinRe 23:12, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I consider abrasive, rude, bully editors to injure the project even if they are otherwise productive. In my experience with organizational development, such behaviors by otherwise productive individuals are so counter-productive and injurious that the individual can never be productive enough to make up for the injuries. However, I am not referring to two people "who just cannot get a long". I am referring to dysfunctional people. The worst of them are those who are smart and pathological.
I do see the problem that you describe about abuse. However, I think the response to that is to be even more harsh with people who abuse the warnings than with people who receive them. Wikipedia should require responsibility. Responsibility goes with privilege. If you are allowed to place warnings on user pages, you must take responsibility for doing so properly and reasonably. Under the policy that I envison, a person who receives a bad faith warning would complain to a third party (probably an administrator) who would then take immediate action to remove the warning and tell the other editor to read (some as yet not developed policy) regarding the adding of warnings on user pages, letting them know that irresponsible adding of warnings is cause for rapid blocking and that they are in danger of having that happen to them. This is a bit like having to pay court costs of the losing side -- it helps stop some frivolous law suits -- and that is clearly your concern.
Just as a point of clarification, I have never added or removed anything to the wording of the policy. I have only reverted when existing policy has changed -- and only once (during this discussion) because I do not think the policy should be changed in the midst of the discussion or in the absence of a concensus (read :wider opinion venue than we have here). --Blue Tie 14:19, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

If read all (or most) of the above discussion and I strongly disagree with Blue Tie. I think other users as MartinRe and CED are much more reasonable. First of all warnings say nothing about their removal so users could delete them in good faith, second it's the "scarlet letter" thing, third there should be another way to keep count of warnings, only accesible for administrators.

Also, this reminds me that story of the Chinese Emperor that obligued all physicians to place a red light for each patient that died. When he felt sick he looked for a physician that had no red lights. He said: "you must be a very good physician". And the physician replied: "I graduated yesterday".

The longer a user is active in Wikipedia and the more active s/he is, it is more likely to commit errors or even be warned erroneously (admins also commit errors). In the they would look like the scars of a long war, what makes no sense. The experience in Wikipdia should normally be pleasant and gratifying, not an uphill battle as sometimes it seems to be.

If there's a need to keep count of warnings, admins should have their own way to do it, without need of branding user pages that otherwise are expected to be each users' semi-private space.

Also it's important to realize that what we need is to protect Wikipedia, not to attack wikipedians. Civility is important but NPOV is even more important. If I have to choose between molding to the quite strict civlity rules or allowing heavy POV (because vandalism rules are too loose), as it has happened to me recently, getting the first (informal, non-template) warn in 2 years, I prefer to risk a warning or even a block than to cede to POV-pushing and anti-consensus wikilwayering "editors".

Anyhow, the warns are for the user to read them. They should be able to archive or delete them at will after that. Users' historial should be elsewhere, if that thing is needed at all.

If the warns, or some specific high-level warn type, are meant to be kept for some time, they should state it clearly and adress the user to: the gidelines on warn removal and where to appeal the warn (if s/he considers it inadequate). This last should be for all warnings, as sometimes you just seem to stumple in the wrong admin.

You just can't pretend that every sinle user knows all the WP pages. Instructions should be clear in each warn. If there are no instructions, the good will principle applies and the user can remove them. This also applies for non-admin issued arbitrary warnings, that are often used for harassment. --Sugaar 20:11, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

How to make policyEdit

Some people here fail to understand how to make policy. As follows:

  1. Start out working in a particular way
  2. Does it work? Cool, See if other people are doing it too.
  3. Write down what you're doing.
  4. mark it with the guideline tag (or the newer descriptive tag, if you like)

Done. Kim Bruning 18:19, 28 August 2006

I do not understand how your process is reconciled with the one that Feloneous Monk gave. --Blue Tie 04:51, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I think FeloniousMonk is dead on, I'm just supplying additional information.
See if you can get more people to tell us of their their experience in applying this method. Then you'll know if you have consensus or not, and if your method is wise or not.
Note that de facto, something is policy because it gets done (even if it's not written down). Conversely, writing things down does not make it policy.
In this case, multiple policies conflict. How would you like to resolve this?
Kim Bruning 09:02, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I do not mean to argue with you, but as I see it, your process is what may have led to the current policy, where things were added without discussion. Monk's proposal was that things should be properly reviewed widely at various places before becoming policy. (Something I have not seen done -- but then, what do I know?).--Blue Tie 18:32, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Admins vs Vandalism patrol?Edit

Note that in this case there's 2 groups. One group is vandalism patrollers, and the other is regular admins.

Vandalism patrollers like putting all kinds of warnings down and not thinking too much (they have more work to do, so this is understandable). They're really very interested in preventing people from removing warnings, because checking page history costs 6 seconds more, and if you have 100 vandalisms to check, that adds up to 10 more minutes, and very sore wrists.

Regular admins always check page history, and they are often unhappy if people don't think long, and especially unhappy when people edit-war. They'll likely block a vandalism patroller pretty quickly, if they catch them applying a removing warnings template.

I think the best compromise here is to make it easier for patrollers to look in page history.

Some say that this means someone will carry the stigma of being warned forever. Well... as far as admins are concerned, they already do, so that's no argument.

Others say that this might require a software change in some of the software we are using. Well, I know who to talk to to get a change made.

Any other objections from either side, or suggestions as to how to get admins and vandalism patrollers back on the same side (as they should be?) Kim Bruning 18:19, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I like the idea of a warning log like that block log instead of on the user page. But does it require more strokes to put it in and notify the person? Would be good if person were automatically notified. --Blue Tie 04:55, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Your comment combined with the mention of scripts below gave me an idea... see below for details. JYolkowski // talk 00:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
(Excuse the rambling tone) That probably characterizes the debate reasonably well. As an administrator, I personally don't see the "takes too long" thing because, when I click on the users' contribs link, I see rollback links beside all of the users' contributions that can be rolled back, which for me is a faster way of reverting vandalism (just open everything in a new tab). While I'm there, I'd notice if the user edited their talk page. However, I completely acknowledge that non-admin RC patrollers can't do this, so they may see this as more of a time-waster when they're trying to do everything as fast as possible. Anyway, I'd be interested to see any suggestions that anyone had regarding this. JYolkowski // talk 02:17, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Heh, true, software solutions already exist. Perhaps we should just get more admins :-) Kim Bruning 09:04, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I actually prefer the 'god-mode light' script to admin rollback in most cases - because I look at the history of the vandalized page and often find that it had been vandalized by more than one account in quick succession and I want to skip back over several edits to the last clean version. However, I still always look at the contributions of the vandals to see if they hit any other pages. I suspect almost all RC patrollers do the same, as frankly it is faster to remove everything by a single vandal all at once than to do so only as you get to each vandalized article in the changes history. Thus, I don't really see the 'takes too long' argument either. As to software upgrades going forward - 'godmode light' has buttons for automatically placing the warning templates and adds a standard edit summary at the same time... the text of those edit summaries could easily be updated to any new standard. So exactly the same amount of 'effort' (a mouse click) would be required as is used currently. The external anti-vandal tools I have used were similar. --CBD 10:41, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
So according to you, this is a question of people not knowing their tools? Kim Bruning 12:44, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Or maybe it is a matter of not having the tools? I have no idea what you guys are talking about. Perhaps most non-admin users are the same way. --Blue Tie 14:36, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
When you look at someone's contributions, you see a (top) next to each of their contributions for which they are the most recent contributor. Next to the (top), administrators see a "[rollback]" link, which they can click for one-click rollback of the edit. As for the "godmode light" script, see the link below... it's not too difficult to try out, so you might want to do that. JYolkowski // talk 00:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Kim, no I wasn't saying that users could update the tools to display some sort of standardized edit summaries themselves. Actually, they could update some if they were at all tech savvy, but most users would need the primary developers of the tool to do so. I was just saying that those changes would be trivial. For instance the 'godmode light' script (link for those who aren't aware of basic/common non-admin vandal-fighting tools) currently automatically adds the edit summary "your test" when you click to insert a 'test1' template on the user's talk page. Changing that edit summary text to some other edit summary text that would stand out better and follow a consistent hierarchy would be a trivial change... just a matter of locating the existing text in the code and typing in the new text. --CBD 10:46, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I also don't see the "take too long" thing, as even if policy states that removing warnings is prohibited, RC patrollers will still need to spend those 6 seconds, as being against policy doesn't stop it being technically possible, so any time saving argument falls down on that score. Personally, when I RC patrol and spot a vandal, the first thing I do is check their contribution history. This is a quick way to see what other/how many articles they may have atttacked, and at the same time any talk page edits would be obvious. I don't think that is too much to expect, and is available to admins and non-admins alike. The reason I dislike treating removal as vandalism is that in my RC patrol phases, I have never seen a vandal evade warning/blocking due to removing warnings, but I have seen that policy used to start edit wars and generally cause unneccessary disruption, so, from my viewpoint it has all negative uses, with no positive ones. While most RC patrollers are excellent, I have seen a significant minority that appear to treat it like a game, treating warnings and blockings in a "strike 1/strike 2/strike 3 - you're out, he scores!" type fashion. In those cases, blocking seems to be the goal, not the last resort, so they try and get there as quickly as possible, and dislike anything that slows down reaching the target of blocking someone. Obviously we want to do things as efficiently as possible, but if it does take time to do something right, then that time should be taken. Regards, MartinRe 19:38, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Inspired by some of the ideas above, I've created a script of my own; see User:JYolkowski/monobook.js. Feel free to copy it to your own monobook.js if you want to try it out. With this script, whenever you edit a User talk: page, it will display the last five edit dates/users/summaries to that page above the edit box. Combined with useful edit summaries and other scripts, this could help to easily determine what level of warning to give and whether the user has previously removed warnings. If this interests anyone or gives them any other ideas, I'd be willing to work with them to make this useful. JYolkowski // talk 00:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Not sure its useful, but... WOW! Cool programming. --Blue Tie 12:33, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough. If anyone has any suggestions for something that would be useful though, please suggest them here and we can discuss how to best get them done. JYolkowski // talk 20:04, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I was not being critical about its usefulness. I do not know if it is. I am not an RC Patroller. I was just thinking that you are good!--Blue Tie 18:34, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
No problem, I didn't take it that way. If any RC patrollers (especially non-admin RC patrollers) would like to comment on its usefulness, that would be great. JYolkowski // talk 20:33, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Actual goals?Edit

What are the actual goals of each 'side' here? So far as I can see the stated goals are;

  1. Have a quick/easy way of seeing past warnings to users.
  2. Make it a blockable offense to remove warnings in an attempt to continue 'getting away' with prohibitted behaviour.


  1. Uphold Wikipedia's policies against edit-warring and harassment.

I see NO reason those goals should be mutually exclusive. Blocks for using decption to increase other prohibited behavior already exist as it is a type of disruption... and I haven't seen any explanation why standardized edit summaries for warning messages could not serve as a reference to past warnings instead of forcibly restoring the warnings to the talk page. Frankly, given the compact nature of the page history I think the edit summaries would be easier to review than warnings interspersed throughout an active talk page... on talk pages of actual vandals there are often nothing but warnings so that'd be obvious with either method. Further, it has been shown that it wouldn't 'take longer' to place or review edit summary warnings.

So what's the problem? Is there some real drawback to edit summary warning messages or are there other 'goals' here which I've missed? There has been some suggestion of a motivation that 'annoying vandals is good'. If that's a 'goal' which is driving this then it is absolutely against policy and never going to happen. --CBD 11:05, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

You have almost hit the nail on the head, but you have said that reading edit summaries is a solution and others have said it is not. You have also not recognized my comment that "edit warring" on user pages in defense of the main page space is different than edit warring on the main page space. Finally, the conversation has sort of changed my mind about something: I am starting to think that disruptive behavior other than vandalism should require the wearing of the label a while as communication to other users. (I did not think that way prior to this discussion). The conversation has focused on vandalism and I have never considered this to be a vandalism-only issue. --Blue Tie 12:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I think the main debate is about item 2 above. That deliberate damage to the encyclopedia (mainspace) is vandalism is agreed by everyone, I believe. Removing warnings is indirect, it may lead to more direct damage, but does no direct damage itself. As I see it, the basic disagreement is that some believe that the indirect behaviour should be a blockable offence by itself, others believe that only direct damage should have those sanctions.
Obviously, I fall in the latter camp, I believe that this indirect behaviour should not be blocakble as it only may lead to more direct damage, but in the case of it doing so, any malicous indirect actions taken are considered as additional factors. Regards, MartinRe 13:37, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
This argument is like "We should also not jail burglars because doing so may lead to other more serious criminal activity."--Blue Tie 12:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
No, the argument is nothing like that. It's like saying - "we should not jail people simply for carrying a large bag, but if they subsequently burgle, the fact that they had a large sack should be taken into account as it proves it was not an impluse crime." However, it does seem that many people believe that once someone has burgled once, that carrying a bag is now a jailable offence for them, even if they don't subsequently burgle. (replace burgle/vandalise and carrying a bag/remove warnings as appropiate) Regards, MartinRe 15:37, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I notice blatant serial vandals being blocked with no prior warnings. As far as I can see, it is not a question of whether an editor has been given the proper vandalism warnings in the proper sequence, but of whether the editor is engaging in a pattern of behavior that requires blocking to protect WP. A decision to block an editor should never be made solely on the basis of warnings posted on a talk page, but must rely on the history of the editor's 'contributions'. Given that, I fail to see how making removal of warnings a blockable offense helps Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury 13:48, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I see it this way: If the individual is behaving in some prohibited way, (not just vandalism) you go on the user page and see that they have recent similar behavior, now you know that you have not just a warning but a reportable issue. You do not see the user continues their disruptive behaviors.--Blue Tie 12:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I was actually envisioning the 'warning removal' only being blockable when it was done to get away with other prohibitted behaviour... which perforce would require that the prohibitted behaviour continued after the warning removal. If they just removed a warning and then didn't continue vandalizing (or whatever) then their reasons for removing it cannot be assumed to have been nefarious and there is no reason to block them. Basically, I agree with both of you... removal of warnings can be an aggravating factor leading to a block, but not cause for a block on its own. The supposed reason for 'removing warnings' being bad is that they are 'trying to get away with doing it more'... if that isn't the case then there is no cause to block. Unless there is something else held to be 'wrong' about removing warnings. --CBD 18:58, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

JYolkowski's proposed solutionsEdit

Looking for common ground here, is it safe to say that everyone agrees that:

  1. Removing warnings should be discouraged because:
    • It makes it look like you're trying to hide something
    • Removing comments without responding them can give the impression of being uncivil
  2. Removing warnings can be taken into account for future policy enforcement and dispute resolution
    • For example, someone who removes vandalism warnings and continues vandalising is likely to be blocked quicker than a vandal who doesn't remove warnings, everything else being equal
  3. It is possible to come up with a system so that people can't "get away" with bad behaviour by removing warnings without having to restore those warnings (which can lead to edit warring and harassment)

The last point might be a bit more controversial, but it's mostly a very loose rewording of CBD's premise at the start of this section. If everyone agrees to these three points, then I think we can look at moving forward to figure out to come up with a system that satisfies point #3. Otherwise, it might be quite difficult to make progress.

As I've mentioned before, I think that the best way to satisfy point #3 is via social (better edit summaries, checking page history) and/or technical (updating either anti-vandalism software or MediaWiki itself to make it easier to see those edit summaries and page history) means. Maybe there are better ways of satisfying this point though. JYolkowski // talk 18:24, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

First of all, let me say that I appreciate your efforts to find concensus and promote civility.
Second, I think that the focus on vandalism has injured the discussion. Aside from the needs for the RC Patrollers, (and I am not really one, so I think I do not represent them very well), I think that there is another purpose that is devalued. And I think this other purpose goes directly to the heart of the disagreement: Communication between editors. If I am having a problem with an editor and I go to that editors page and see that others are also having the same sort of problem, it helps me understand the situation. I am not looking to block them or annoy them. As a new user, not only do I not think to look in the history for such warnings, but at first, I do not even know that I can do so. And I would not know what to look for or what I was seeing even if I saw something in an edit summary. Perhaps that goes along with being new. At the same time, this is a "Scarlet Letter" as others have said. And it is generally offensive to have to wear a Scarlet letter or a Yellow Star, etc. That it is offensive does not mean it is inappropriate.
Related to this matter is the concern about harrassment and honesty. People will place warnings without good cause, sometimes innocently (hard to believe that!) because they do not understand what vandalism is, and sometimes maliciously, in order to harrass others. I have not actually seen that happen, but I trust others who say it does.
So this is a part of the discussion that has not been given much thought, though it has been brought up by others before: Communication to other editors. Your solution is vandalism focused. --Blue Tie 18:49, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Good point. I think that most of what was previously said can apply to both, but there are some subtleties that I'm going to think about some more. JYolkowski // talk 20:38, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Again, "That it is offensive does not mean it is inappropriate" is something I generally disagree with. Obviously, there are exceptions... being blocked can obviously be offensive, but we have to do it with people who are damaging the encyclopedia. The difference here is that I do not see where we have to do this. Ok, maybe some user might not see that other users have had past problems with someone. I don't really see that as a bad thing. Going in with the view that 'this person is a troublemaker' can't help to resolve the situation peacably in any way that I can see.
In general I agree with some sort of 'tracking mechanism' so long as it isn't 'in your face' and punishing the user for following a natural inclination to remove it. I think edit summaries would suffice for this, but a 'warning log' similar to the block log could also be constructed. --CBD 21:16, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I think that is the best solution. --Blue Tie 15:08, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

So, here goes again. I've split the three points listed above along the lines described above (if we want to define the categories exactly, we can do that later). For vandalism and similar actions done in bad faith, the three points could be:

  1. Removing warnings is discouraged because it gives the impression of trying to hide something.
  2. Removing warnings will be taken into consideration for future policy enforcement. For example, everything else being equal, someone who removes warnings from their talk page will get blocked faster than someone who doesn't.
  3. It is possible to come up with a system so that people can't "get away" with bad-faith policy violations by removing warnings without having to restore those warnings.

For disputes where the person is more likely to be acting in good faith, the three points could be:

  1. Removing warnings, especially without discussing them, is discouraged because it is seen as being uncivil, as it leaves the problem unresolved and compounds it by giving the impression of personal disregard for the person giving the warning and their original objection.
  2. Removing warnings will be taken into consideration for future dispute resolution.
  3. (Note that everything in this point is my opinion and hasn't been discussed in detail, so objections are quite welcome) It is possible to deal with warning removal without resorting to either harrassment or editwarring:
    • It is not either harrassment or editwarring to point out once why one should not remove warnings (as above) to an editor who removes a warning, without restoring the warning.
    • If the user continues the problem behaviour without discussion, it is not either harrassment or editwarring to have a third party reiterate the original warning, without restoring the original warning. If there isn't a third party handy, then you can ask the opinion of someone you trust or see Wikipedia:Third opinion.
    • If the user continues the problem behaviour without discussion, then the criteria for opening an RfC has been met, so open one. Properly certified RfCs tend to attract a lot of attention and stay around forever, so I think that if there's a benefit to publicising a user's behaviour, RfCs are the place to go.
    • There may be an advantage to exploring other technical or social solutions (e.g. creating a warning log as described above)

I wonder if there would also be any in having some discussion forum that's somewhat below an RfC but that would serve as some sort of way to keep track of user disagreements that don't quite require an RfC. JYolkowski // talk 15:42, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Your proposals look fair. I would rather things not be guidelines but policy, but this looks like what is happening now so it is probably not bad. I think one thing that should happen: You should not remove a warning without a statement that provides one of three explanations: 1) They agree and are willing to abide by policy in the future. 2)They do not agree with the standard they are accused of violating or 3)They do not believe that they have violated that policy. At a minimum it should be in the edit summary. It may be that it is appropriate to respond with a statement that is added to the page and then both that statement and the warning are removed. Removing warnings without an explanation should be good cause for re-instating the same warning, reminding the user to give a reason.
For me, this is important because in many cases a warning is an effort to get a person to change behaviors. If a person is going to remove the warning, I would like to see if they are doing so because they pledge to align their acts with community standards or because they are going to continue with their acts based upon some other individual-driven principle that is more important to them than the community standards are.
I also think that whatever you come up with should also provide some sense of penalty for giving warnings in bad faith. I think the warning templates page and other places should be adjusted to specifically mention that warnings on user pages carry a responsibility, which if abused, could lead to a block of the person issuing a warning -- so be careful and thoughtful.
Finally, please note my concerns about this page not being able to actually produce concensus or policy because of limited input. --Blue Tie 14:04, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Please also see my suggestion regarding the handling of bad warnings here:

--Blue Tie 14:24, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I think that the lack of input is a bit discouraging (although this has been going on in some form or another for quite a while, so I completely understand if people have gotten bored of discussing this or whatever). It doesn't mean, however, that some of the ideas that have been proposed can't be worked on or used as input elsewhere. Anyway, I'll give it some time, who knows, maybe there'll be more interest in this discussion sometime soon. JYolkowski // talk 01:08, 14 September 2006 (UTC)


Removing warnings doesn't hide them, as they can still be seen in the talk page history or in a user's contributions, so they don't need to be displayed.

I disagree. Especially when warnings are selectively removed while other comments are left alone, such warnings ARE hidden. Of course, the page doesn't need to be a permanent history of a user's warnings, but the general problem tends to arise when they remove the warning immediately after reading it (often on the same day it was posted) without taking action to change the questioned behavior. I'd say comments that are over a week old can be archived, otherwise, the warning should stay. - Mgm|(talk) 11:18, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

You say that you disagree, but then don't address the point you are disagreeing with. Obviously removing warnings makes them not visible on the talk page itself... but it doesn't do anything to the page history. If the edit summary given with the warnings were, '** Level 2 vandalism warning **', then that would still be completely visible in the page history... not 'hidden'. That's the point being made by the text you quote above. --CBD 19:03, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
  • If a warning is not visible on a talk page, one might erronously assume the user is innocent. Especially when they're talk page is oft-edited, retracing the amount of nature of warnings in someone's history makes checking up on warnings unneccesarily hard. - Mgm|(talk) 12:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Which I agree with. Sure they are in the talk page. But unless its a brand new problem user, it can be hard to go through talk page histories to find out whats been removed. Warnings can be left for established editors who have busy and extensive talk pages. Trying to find any and all warnings left in that mess of a history would be hard. There is no negative effect by archiving legitimate warnings after one weeks time.--Crossmr 22:11, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Latest outragesEdit

  1. User removes a 'prod' template and is falsely told that this is not allowed (indeed, it is the repeated placement of 'prod' tags which isn't allowed). User blanks their talk after this message and gets hit with do not remove warnings. --CBD 13:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
  2. User removes a picture from the Samurai article stating that it is a copyright violation (incorrectly identified as public domain when actually won't be such for another year). This is reverted and the user hit with an improper 'vandalism' warning for 'blanking content'. When the user objects to placement of (false) warnings on their page a 'civility' warning is thrown in. The user removes these and gets a do not remove warnings... et cetera. It gets all the way up to a 'test4a' template with threats of blocking... until the original image, File:Samurai.JPG, is deleted... after the user has seemingly left Wikipedia in disgust. --CBD 13:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Some of the earlier incidents can be seen here. Let's have some nice examples of all the wonderfully good things this practice is accomplishing. Some of those users who, but for enforced replacement of warnings, would have gotten away with various nefarious deeds. --CBD 13:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Gee, maybe we need a warning template to put on the talk pages of editors who place false warnings on other user's talk pages. :-) -- Donald Albury 13:35, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Do't forget a template to be used on vandals who improperly use that template! ;-) Kim Bruning 13:16, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I know you said that as humor, but I do not see a problem with your suggestion.--Blue Tie 18:55, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Another recent case where I think the warning removal was unjustified was User talk:Takamaxa. there was a "warning" given on June 4. (re copyright issues, which were subsequently brought up/explained on the article talk page) The warning, along with all the other messages (i.e. no selective archiving, just a clean up) were removed on Aug 20 - 11 weeks later, but were reverted with a "removing warning" warning given. That to me, is a typical example of the mis-use of the current state of affairs. A concern/warning was given. It was addressed, but when the user cleans up his talk pages almost three months later, he's hit over the head with a "removing warnings is vandalism" warning. Very unfriendly, in my view, and not in the ideal of good faith (although the warning giver felt it was) Regards, MartinRe 17:18, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm sure that numerous examples could be given of the use of template:blatantvandal in situations that are clearly content disputes, not vandalism. The fact that some people use this template inappropriately, however, does not justify its deletion. Similarly, the abuse of the warning removal policy does not justify eliminating the policy. Instead, we should ensure that the policy is applied only according to its terms -- it only relates to the removal of legitimate warnings, and the creation of chronologically appropriate archives is not "removal". Furthermore, like all policies, the warning removal policy should be applied with common sense and discretion, recognizing that it is a tool to stop the concealment of valid warnings about user conduct, not a means by which to harass legitimate contributors. I believe that the fact that most vandals don't remove warnings from their talk pages indicates the success of the warning removal policy, because they appear to understand that removing the warnings will only get them blocked more quickly. Of course, some vandals do remove warnings anyway (see's contributions and talk page history). John254 01:06, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Note that none of the three people who warned him about vandalism were fooled by this behaviour, so I don't think this is a particularly good example of someone getting away with something for removing warnings, or someone who would have gotten away with something if people weren't editwarring on his talk page. JYolkowski // talk 01:21, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm sure there are examples of the correct use of {{bv}} also, which is why no one is calling for its removal. However, for the removing warnings policy, there are cases shown where it was mis-used, but to date, no example of where it was used with a positive result. To me, that is because it cannot be used positively. Even cases above, where it was potentially a valid warning, it made no difference to the end result as by noticing warnings were removed, the previous warnings were noted and taken into account. So, when used correctly it has a neutral outcome, and when misused, a negative outcome. Hence, overall, having the policy is a negative aspect, which is why I disagree with it. Taking into account that most cases I've encountered have been of the mis-use type uonly strengtens that opinion. Regards, MartinRe 11:14, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
In addition to what others have said about the limited 'positive benefits' of this practice being far outweighed by the negative impact (with which I entirely agree) there is also just the fact that the 'it only applies to valid warnings' bit just does not... CAN not work. Take the 'prod' example above. The user placing the warning was clearly acting 'in good faith'... they thought that removal of prod templates was not allowed. A mistake on their part, but no malicious intent... but by following the 'removing warnings is not allowed' principle their 'good faith mistake' became improper harassment! That's what is so horribly wrong with this idea. It is inherently designed to enforce the display of things people find insulting / untrue... and on their talk pages where they interact with other people no less. Some seem to think that's 'ok' because 'they are only vandals' and we should be harassing them (which I strongly disagree with on its own), but the inescapable fact is that the 'only vandals' and 'only valid warnings' excuses just are not true. You will never be able to limit it to those situations because mistakes are always going to be made. Think about the wrongness of that... a policy which creates situations where harassment is committed in good faith. No policy should require the active humiliation of another user... because you are never going to be able to contain it to 'just the vandals who deserve it' and frankly it isn't in Wikipedia's best interest to treat even them that way. --CBD 11:46, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I endorse what MartinRe and CBDunkerson have said. Blatant, persistant vandals will end up being blocked whether or not 'vandalsim' templates are protected by a 'do not remove' rule. One-off vandals, newbies (and not so new editors) making mistakes, editors who misunderstand policies, and editors arguing over content and correct formatting/style issues should not be harassed and penalized over templates placed on their own user pages. If an editor's behavior is short of blatant vandalism, but does cumulatively amount to disruption, that can be handled without complicating the discussion with 'unremovable' templates on user pages. -- Donald Albury 13:48, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Having just finished two major papers for college, I'm too exhausted to make any long, detailed, profound posts. I just want to say that I wholeheartedly endorse what CBDunkerson has been saying on this page (yes, I did peep from time to time while I was working on the papers). I've seen several cases where respectable, established, good-faith editors have been harassed by these vandalism warnings when they remove content from their own talk page, and have even been threatened with blocks. I've even seen two cases where other users created archives for them — archives that they didn't want! As far as I know, Jimbo sometimes removes comments from his talk page without archiving them. There's absolutely no policy forbidding it, and it's outrageous that people are sending these vandalism warnings to editors who do this.
Regarding the necessity for an admin to be able to tell that a user has previously been warned — if I'm doing some WP:AIV work, I check the user's contributions to see that they really are vandalism; I don't just take the word of the person making the report. Then, I take a quick peep at the history of the vandal's talk page. People who send vandalism warnings should try to get into the habit of putting "test1", "bv", "vw", "test4im" etc. in the edit summary. If they do that, it will take less time than sending them all these harassing templates about removing messages. I also look at the vandal's block log.
If the vandal is a registered user, with a newly-created account, I block indefinitely if I feel that the account was created for vandalism — even if the user have made only one edit, and has not received a warning.[9] Obviously, if it's an established user who just got carried away, and has an otherwise clean record, I don't block indefinitely. It's very rare for established users to vandalize articles. If I do give a temporary block to an established user for vandalism, once the block is over, I don't mind in the least if the user removes the block notice. It remains in the block log, and there is absolutely no reason to humiliate a user who wants to start afresh by forcing him to keep a public "black mark" on his page.
If it's an IP, then what many people here seem to be forgetting is that not everyone has an unshared static IP. There are vandals who have a different IP every time they switch on the computer. I will not block an anonymous vandal on the basis that a warning was left on his page last Friday, unless the vandalism is bad enough to justify blocking without notice, or it's obvious from the articles targetted and the particular edit that it's the same user returning to continue the same vandalism. So the idea of requiring an anonymous user to display vandalism warnings from July does not make a great deal of sense.
I do object to vandals altering warnings ("please do vandalize Wikipedia", etc.) or replacing them with obscenities. But if it's just a question of removing a warning and otherwise behaving inoffensively, then we really should find something better to do than engage in harassment and threatening them with blocks. For the record, I'm far more likely to block someone for harassment than I am to block a good-faith, established user for removing an unwanted message from his talk page. All that this replacing of notices with added warnings does is to make people angry. AnnH 22:22, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I'm really fighting the urge to say something incivil about the way this line from policy is being "prosecuted". See Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents#help requested and Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/ for further problems this has caused. Now can we remove it?? -- nae'blis 19:25, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

I think some points are being lostEdit

Here are some points I think are being lost

  1. This discussion is not able to make policy contrary to prior polls and policy...
  2. Unless it goes through the process that Feloneous Monk suggested.

We are a very few people in an isolated discussion that is off the main vandalism page. This makes this discussion only helpful in proposing a change. But it does not, in itself, allow for change. If that is the intended outcome, it needs a wider contribution pool. You will note, that I have had this view since the page first opened and expressed it several times now. But I get the feeling that my view on this is being ignored. --Blue Tie 15:13, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

That's not what Feloniousmonk or myself have said. You can have a policy if everyone agrees to do this.
Currently, ironically, admins don't want this, vandal patrollers do want this. Apparently vandal patrol != admins anymore. Why the heck we don't have more admins who can do the vandal patrol task, I don't know. (Well I do, RFA is obviously broken, but that's a different kettle of fish).
Why do vandal patrollers really want this , if it's going to have to be an admin that does the block anyway? Have you ever considered that pissing off the admin you need might be a bad start, for instance? ;-) Kim Bruning 16:27, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your inputs. I value your perspective. I have said previously, I do not see how your views and Felonious match. You said that they did but I could not see it. He says that policy changes require large venue vetting. You did not say that. You are saying that you can have a policy if everyone agrees to do this. The issue is: Who is "everyone"? You will note that even with the polls, I suggested that the population must be large enough to be valid. That is also how I read what Feloneous said. (Perhaps I got it wrong). What I read you saying is that "if everyone here agrees". But with that perspective, the prior polls would necessarily need to be respected (and they are not being respected). So I do not understand or see how you are agreeing with Mr Monk.
You claim that admins do not want this. You should say "SOME" Admins do not want this. Some do. I have seen it. (In fact, it was an admin who added it in the first place.) And since the issue then turns into "Ironically SOME admins don't want this" it becomes a sort of moot point.
You seem to be ignoring my comments that this conversation is being held off to the side chiefly by those who participated in the minority side of prior polls, and chiefly NOT by those who participated in the majority side. I can see how, if you are on the minority side, having your opponents not here is desirable, but it is not the same thing as concensus. As far as what vandal patrollers want, I cannot answer. I can answer for my reasons though. I am only somewhat concerned about vandalism. I am more concerned about other users, perhaps long-time users, who are disruptive, caustic or abusive.
Separate issue: How/Why is RFA broken? Not having your experience I do not understand this point. I would appreciate a response on my talk page as this is not the venue for that discussion.--Blue Tie 16:38, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Among other things, I also RC patrol, and I don't want this. As to why other vandal fighters want it, some have given reasons here, but from what I've encountered personally, I get the distinct impression that some over-zealous RC patrollers treat it as a game with a score to aim at. So warnings and blocks are treated as strike 1/strike 2/strike 3/they're out and you score. It is this group of people that this rule is mostly abused by, as the warning removal is taken as an attack on their "scoring abilities." (Most rc patrollers are excellent and perform a thankless task, but there are bad apples in every group)
As for this page being unable to make policy, that's not 100% correct, it's a centralised discussion to try and update/clarify/confirm the wording regarding warning removal. While often policy is simply a written expression of what actually happens as per Kim, it is also the case that many people enforce policy just because it is policy. I believe Blue Tie acknowledged that above, with the comment of "enforcing [rules of behavior] is not harrassment even if you do not agree with the rules"
That's why I believe it important to update the wording on removing warnings. Many people new to wikipedia start off with RC patrol, and it is often those group that will see a warning being removed for valid reasons and give a vandalism warning, (albeit in good faith) to the person doing so, where a more experienced editor might not have done so. The new user may believe they are protecting wikipedia by battling vandals, so they may not realise that they are causing disruption themselves, and it is difficult to correct this, as, of course, the first person correcting them is often the person they warned, so they are unlikely to pay attention to what a "vandal" says. Even if an outside editor tries to explain why it's appropiate/not wrong in this case, you get a "it's wrong because it's against policy", which ends up a circular argument (as it must be against policy because it's wrong, surely?) Regards, MartinRe 17:31, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I understand that some vandal fighters are a bit rabid. However, I have seen comments by some I would not consider rabid who support this. In either case, the examples of abuse of a policy is not a good reason to delete the policy but rather to handle the abusers.
As for this page making policy, I think you are wrong on the basis that this discussion is narrow and limited to the few people who have previously objected. I thought that Mr Monk's observations were good. A larger venue is desirable. I can see where you would like a smaller venue. But wasn't one of the problems with the previous poll expressed it being just a small group of people? Yet this conversation includes an even smaller group of all like-minded people. That is not concensus if previous discussions with larger numbers of people were not concensus. --Blue Tie 18:05, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I see your concerns about the new RC patrollers. So provide training. Explain to them the kinds of things that constitute abuse, biting newbies and so on. Or perhaps the first warning may be deleted. OR maybe warnings below a certain level. But once again, you are focusing on vandalism. I am looking more widely. I do not exclude vandalism but that is not my only area of concern. --Blue Tie 18:05, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Current warning removal processEdit

or lack thereof. Can someone tell me if the information at Wikipedia:Removing warnings is accurate. I do not believe it is, as the template "warning-for-removal" has since been deleted. This may be confusing to new or intermediate users who have rarely been warned before and have only recently been unfairly chided for removing warnings they object to. If there is no way to remove warnings currently, could this information be updated at Wikipedia:Removing warnings? I would remove the part about the template myself, though I am a little scared of making any non-talk edits at the moment. 22:32, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

If you look at the top of that page, you will see that it is an inactive discussion page held for archival purposes. It does not represent any sort of guideline or policy.
Be Bold! Dont be afraid. If you make a mistake, someone will help (or attack.. but never mind, its harmless). You might try logging in though, because lots of wikipedians are suspicious of anon IP Addresses. --Blue Tie 22:37, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Especially anon IP's who insert POV edits, such as this one, and make incivil comments when reminded of policy, again like this one. (for the record, I was the one who gave this IP the warnings). Currently, WP:VANDAL states that removing warnings is prohibited. There you go. SWATJester Ready Aim Fire! 05:55, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
Grrrrr.... I looked into this case as a chance to see the near mythical 'good' done by the 'no removing warnings' practice. You, Swatjester, made this revert and then placed a test1 template on the IP's talk page about it. That was a completely improper and unwarranted action on your part. When the anon removed it you then reverted and added a 'do not remove warnings' template... again, completely improper and unwarranted. You may disagree with the edit the anon made (as to whether 'booster packs' make 'moderate' or 'significant' changes to the 'Battlefield 2' game), but treating it as 'vandalism' is abusive and harassing. Don't do that or you will be blocked for it. And again... encouraging people to harass other users like this is 'good' how exactly? --CBD 19:32, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Should a user removing of a warning s/he was given yesterday be reverted?Edit

diff I would, but I can't find an active policy that explicitly agrees, so I came here to see if this is a clear cut situation, or not. TransUtopian 00:35, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

This is not a policy page. The active policy is that it is generally prohibited to remove such warnings. In the case of these diff's that you showed, it seems reasonable to wait a while before removing them. Others, however, will disagree. That is what this page is about... disagreement or agreement with current policy and related discussions. --Blue Tie 00:39, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree it seems reasonable. It's the "Others will disagree" part I'm concerned about. I know this is a discussion and not policy page. It appears to be the most current/active discussion since it's not set in wikistone. I want to know that if I revert that diff or similar, I have something to point to if challenged. TransUtopian 00:49, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
The user is already indefinitely blocked. At this point, blanking of their talk page falls under the category of 'irrelevant'. --CBD 19:36, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Does Wikipedia Need Yet Another Rule, Policy or Procedure?Edit

Sure, Like I need a hole in my head.

As I see it, the biggest problem facing Wikipedia is the desire of some to create rules on top of rules and then create rules on how to make rules and rules about rules about making rules about rules being on top of rules. I have been around here for a little while now (not long, and plenty have been here longer) and I still find new rules that have been tucked away and hidden in various areas. There is no central repository of rules that I have found since I have been here. Someone did put a few links on my talk page welcoming me when I first joined, but that was it.

No matter how many rules are made here, there will always be problem users. As has been stated here previously, users intent on doing the site harm will probably do so regardless of the warning and probably will re-offend very soon. Those who make an innocent mistake will read the warning, correct their behavior and that’s that. So in the end, it really doesn’t matter if the user removes the warning or not. Just like the system of giving out traffic tickets, warnings and citations are intended to reform behavior. They take the licenses of those who will refuse to conform, and Wikipedia blocks users who habitually vandalize. So what this proposed policy boils down to is someone put a warning on someone's page, someone else thumbed their nose at it and removed it, and someone didn’t like it. The guy who gave out the warning wanted the other guy to wear it as a badge of shame and he wanted to see his decision to warn stick publicly. If you want to have control over something or someone, get a dog. In the meanwhile, we have a system in place to deal with vandals. It works well. Lets leave it alone, because Wikipedia needs another police, rule or procedure as much as I need a hole in my head. --Shortfuse 01:39, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

There is a central repository of policies. It is at Wikipedia:List of policies. It appears that you like the current policies. One of these policies prohibits the removal of warnings. It appears you do not like that idea. So you will note that you are arguing both ends against the middle. This page is about discussing the differences of opinion. Did you want to join in? --Blue Tie 01:53, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I said my piece on this, people can read into it what they like. I'm not about to waste my time arguing the pros and cons and debating everyone. Yes, I do like our rules (well, most of them) and no I dont think that we need any more. I thought I saw in here that there was a rule against removing warnings at one point but it has since been rescinded. Matters not. Regardless of if there is one, I dont think there should be for the reasons stated above. Shortfuse 02:38, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

It Is Going On Your Permanent RecordEdit

This seems confusong and arbtrary. As a new user, I had no idea that one had to leave every random thing anyone else placed on his user page there forever or for some unspecified long time. There are some very extreme and doctrinaire people on Wikipedia who get up in arms about questions related to their own opinion of politics, religion, national pride, or whatever floats their boat. The same person who is authoritarian about quickly reverting to make an article say only what they want it to say will doubtless be quick to use the tactic of hanging questionable warnings on someone else's page as a tactic of intimidation. There should be a definite stated time period after which the Scarlet Letter can be removed without any vandalism accusations. Amnesty makes perfect sense for this. Perhaps 3 months, perhaps 1 month, perhaps 7 years to life with time off for good behavior. But not some arbitrary long period, as it appears to be now. If you want some record of the warning, then put it in the edit summary, and those who are curious can dig it out of history. I would find it very annoying to see a bogus WARNING staring me in the face every time I looked at my own user page. At the same time 99% of the bad behavior on Wikipedia is anonymous users with only the IP address of the PC in their middle school computer lab, so warnings are totally useless. Users should have to have a registered logon with a verified email address. The big whoop the "Anyone can edit Wikipedia" should be revised to "Anyone can and does vandalize every article frequently, causing dedicated editors to waste their time fixing the daily vandalism." Edison 01:39, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

I looked at Wikipedia:List of policies and could not find a rule against removing warnings. Where exactly can the rule be found?Edison 01:45, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
The fact a single user disagrees with it doesnot show non-consensus. Please review the Wiki policy on consensus. On pages like these, a supermajority is enough to be considered consensus. As for a lack of breadth--add to it. Don't delete it. There is well over a 3 to 1 ratio of posters in favor of the change. This is a super majority. I am of the opinion it should be placed back on the project page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
To the anonymous poster above: 1)Please add four tildes at the end of your posts to identify yourself. 2) You appear to be disputing something that I did not say: I made no reference to "non-consensus." I just added my opinion, and I will continue to do so whenever and wherever I please. 3) You did not answer the question as to where the rule or policy under discussion could be found. Thank you. Edison 22:18, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
This comment appears to have been misplaced. The page history shows that the anon subsequently added the same comment in the section below (where it fit the context though the facts and opinions expressed were disputed). Rossami (talk) 06:25, 19 September 2006 (UTC)


A general consensus seems to have been reached--correct if I am wrong. Also, please add in to issues not addressed. The intent of the warning is to notify the poster of a violation. Keeping the warning on a user page serves little purpose beyond serving a warning to the user. Keeping the warning on the page serves no purpose, and risks undue prejudice on an honest poster. Meanwhile, a negative poster will likely ignore any warning. Thus, any purpose beyond service is invalidated.

With these facts in mind, the rule against deletion is unnecessary. Any punishment for such is unreasonable. Furthermore, any benefit given by the warning beyond service of notice still exists in the page's history.

The negative impact on an honest poster is far outweighed by any benefit in stopping a negative poster.

(Posted by anon

That seems like a relatively good synopsis. I am not sure if 100% of the posters agree (it is not possible), however, at the least, a super majority is in agreement with the posting. I will add it to the main article. --User:Cliesthenes

Please do not add this. You have not participated in the discussion previously. You are not unbiased on the subject at all, having the the receipient of many warnings so far, [10], it is not agreed to by others. And it has been rejected by one other editor. I also reject it, but my rejection has more to do with the breadth of the discussion not being represented by it and also I think it should be incorporated with prior discussions.--Blue Tie 16:58, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

The fact a single user disagrees with it doesnot show non-consensus. Please review the Wiki policy on consensus. On pages like these, a supermajority is enough to be considered consensus. As for a lack of breadth--add to it. Don't delete it. There is well over a 3 to 1 ratio of posters in favor of the change. This is a super majority. I am of the opinion it should be placed back on the project page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
First of all, it is not just a single user who has objected to placing it there. Second, I have proposed the concept of a supermajority as acheiving the meaning of concensus (assuming that sufficient numbers of random people were involved) and I was told (repeatedly) that a supermajority does not count as a concensus. Third, my objections are that the summary does not relect the actual discussion here. Fourth, you have not participated here as the discussion was on-going. The person who started this discussion should probably be the one to at least attempt the summary as he/she has been here from the start. Fifth, if counting heads in a vote, other votes that were conducted previously on this same topic should be generally included in the whole process. Sixth, it appears that you enter this discussion with unclean hands, having been subject to several warnings now. Seventh, it appears that you are harrassing me on my user page. You should be aware that harrassment could result in a block and that it will not gather traction with either side of this debate. I do not believe that any of the long-term contributors to wikipedia like to see folks who go on vendettas or harrass other members, regardless of their stand on this issue. --Blue Tie 22:42, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

I do not believe that the opening comments in this section reflect the consensus opinions stated on this page. While no one disputes the costs which these warnings create (lost good will, etc), the relative benefits are still being weighed and discussed. In particular, the conclusion that "keeping the warning serves little purpose" is still a seriously contested point. Several users above have articulated reasons why the warnings should be kept either for a defined period of time or in certain specific circumstances. The existence of these alternate purposes invalidates the premise of the anon user's synopsis. The subsequent conclusions can not be supported. Rossami (talk) 06:23, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Stages of ConsensusEdit

First we need to find a method of planning out the coming to consensus.

Before doing this I'd like to let you know my biases:

I agree, if necessary, with a consensus to leave warnings on the user page until a certain time has passed. It seems like a compromise position even though I think that a user's page aught to be their own in general, as is the case on most of the web and as it is in real life, unless of course you lived under the Stasi who kept complete dosiers on many citizens. If it has your name on it I think you should be free to edit it, then again maybe this is why people avoid using real names.

The first stage for consensus would be to find some appropriate analogues of this from real life or from legislation. Then to examine them as to how they work. And, thirdly to either pick a favoured analogy, or sythesis a number of them

Analogue #1: Privacy Laws

Normally privacy laws ensure, in my country anyhow, that people cannot check out details of this kind stored about me. For genuine disagreements this might apply, though I suppose vandalism (criminal offences) might be an exception, here, in real-life, it may appear in a newspaper and someone could check through all the newspapers in a public library to find I'd been guilty of vandalism. Though I cannot go to the archives and find what offences a certain person has committed. The idea I suppose is that they were innocent or served their time and are reformed or have in any case paid the price.

Analogue #2: Editors of a real Encylopedia

This could be said to be too far away from what we do here, but at a stretch: if an editor of an encyclopedia gets an entry from an expert and edits it, sending it back to the expert modified for approval, and it just comes back from the expert the same as it was originally, then they may warn or even "block" one another, but I somehow doubt this would go on any public record for all experts/editors of any encyclopedia and their grandchildren to see forever.


Do we need consensus yet?Edit

Having just read through all of the above discussion, it seems like there are good points on many sides, but no particular factor that forces us to change custom into regulation yet. Is there any hurry? I do some RC patrol and other anti-vandal work, and it seems like this is a pretty rare problem. William Pietri 16:08, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

I think the standard on the ground is that most people don't warn for removing warnings in a reasonable time frame, but that the time frame is subjective, and thus the policy should describe that. This fiction of what it is "right" to do is misleading, at best. And even fewer people think it's vandalism. -- nae'blis 16:43, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
I certainly do not think it is vandalism. --Blue Tie 23:49, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
The question is, what is the custom? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lucaas (talkcontribs) 13:20, September 21, 2006
Well, that's what I meant by "standard on the ground". I think for years it's been informal and relatively lenient toward removal once read, at least that's the impression I get from long-time Wikipedians who are posting here. Most people who are supporting the strict enforcement seem (and this is my impression, of course) to be newer and/or RC patrollers who may have a less comprehensive viewpoint on the matter. The more you deal with criminals, the more everyone starts to look like a criminal, I fear... -- nae'blis 19:05, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately I would prefer someone not so strongly involved in the debate to make the policy edit. A notation about guidelines for warnings might not be amiss, but not on that page. -- nae'blis 16:43, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

I do not think that there is a concensus for a change yet. I have recently had opportunity to remove "Warnings" (I do not think they actually were warnings, but I think they were intended to be warnings) from my talk and user page. I consider myself potentially in violation of policy. I am willing to face the music for this act of rebellion. So one might think I ought to be in favor of a change in wording. I am not. I am not in favor because I do NOT think that there is a concensus that the wording should be changed. I also do not think that this page can claim a concensus unless all the views expressed in the prior discussions are also factored in, and even then it may need to be taken to a larger venue. I have said this all along.--Blue Tie 23:53, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
The warning removal language that we had in Wikipedia:Vandalism until recently prohibited the removal of legitimate warnings. The removal of frivolous warnings, such as this one, clearly does not violate the policy. Actually, I added the adjective "legitimate" to the warning removal language we had until recently, in an effort to prevent the misuse of this policy. Moreover, warnings should only be placed on talk pages -- any warnings on user pages may be removed, regardless of their merits. John254 03:25, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, there was never a demonstrable consensus for the inclusion of this statement in the first place, and it's been debated ever since, so not including it at current is more accurately representative of current practice. Did you see the two further cases of edit warring over warnings today? -- nae'blis 04:44, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Here is my take on it: It was put into the policy almost coincidentally with the inclusion of the warnings themselves. There was no objection at the time. There was no objection for several months. When there was an objection, it was immediately overridden. To me, that looks a bit like concensus. Then when someone questioned it seriously, it was put to several discussions and every time it was put to a discussion, the supermajority agreed that a prohibition should remain in some form. While the original edit may not have been included with much discussion, MOST of the policy was included without much discussion, so that argument is specious. And since it remained for several months without contest, it seems it was accepted at first and THEN some people objected. Well, given time anything will find people who object to it. And so you know, I do not particularly like or agree with the current version... I have my own idea about how it should be. But I think the current version has the weight of history behind it. --Blue Tie 05:02, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm... I haven't looked at the edit history, but from that description and others on this page, I'm not sure I'd call that consensus, at least in the sense of "a general agreement among the members of a given group or community". William Pietri 08:40, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Blue Tie, I have given the history above... your continued claim that there "was no objection at the time" is clearly false. I note that you made no response when I provided links proving that. If you wish to continue claiming that 'no one objected for several months after it was added in January' please explain how that is possible in the face of direct proof to the contrary. There WAS objection at the time. There was never consensus to insert this change into the policy and thus it has never been policy. Just something that people edit warred to insert without consensus. Nor is your claim that 'every time it was discussed a supermajority favored inclusion' true. Every time it has been discussed a majority of respondents have been against it... once a >poll< (not discussion) recently found in favor of it, but there were problems with that (design of the poll, heavy CVU 'voting', et cetera) which make some feel that it was not an accurate measure of overall community feelings. --CBD 19:18, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I disagree that you have given an actual history above. I registered objections at the time that your history dealt with another issue not this one. Indeed, you brought up supposed objections to this policy before it was even in place. The editors were discussing something distinctly different and I said this at the time you brought your "history" to this page.
  • There was no objection at that time. If there is any evidence to the contrary, you (and everyone) have yet to produce it. Mind you, I am not saying that there should not have been an objection... but there was not one.
  • As for your direct proof I think it is interesting to note several things:
    • It is not an objection to the specific implementation on the WP:VAN policy page and it does not mention that implementation in the discussion.
    • It is not a discussion on the Vandalism page
    • As far as I can tell, it is not a discussion on any sort of policy page
    • And finally... This is the first time you have mentioned it (congratulations), and so, you should not fault me for not recognizing it earlier. I simply did not have access to it. However, the above objections still apply. The one thing that you can say is that it had been discussed in a different venue and the concluding comments in that discussing declared it to be vandalism. These concluding comments were consistent with the policy writing that was put into place on WP:VAN roughly at the same time and which were not contested there for weeks or months. In other words, there is an appearance of "settlement" on the matter.
And so, again, there was no objection at the time. (But I commend you on your research and I take your point that some people HAD objections even if they did not MAKE them).
  • You claim that there was no concensus for the add. Ok, you claim that. Where is the evidence that there was no concensus at the time? Be sure to clearly define "concensus" when you do that and show where it did not occur.
  • You also claim that it was never policy. But in your direct proof it is there declared -- in the concluding comments -- that it WAS policy. Of course this wikilinked to the WP:VAN policy that had just been put in place but ... one objected at the time. And it seems to me that even as early as December 2005, before it was put into place, people were 'acting' as though it were policy and that is, according to several people who have informed me, the way and method that policy is created and enacted here on wikipedia. Hence, both as an informal matter before January 5 and as a formal matter after January 5, it appears to have been policy (and I thank you for the evidence of this).
  • Finally, as for your claim that in polls, "a majority of respondents have been against it", you have failed to define "it". I do not mean to pull a Bill Clinton, but the pronoun in this instance is important. If by "it" you mean a policy declaring removal to be vandalism was not approved by the majority -- I agree! That is what the majority said. If I recall correctly it was not a supermajority but it was a majority. On the other hand, if by "it" you mean "some policy prohibiting the removal of warnings" you are wrong. Supermajorities have given that sense of policy very broad support. So which version of "it" did you mean? For your clarification, whenever I refer to the poll(s) (I believe there have been two not one and I counted the votes in both of them) results being a supermajority I am talking about the view that some restrictions should be placed on a user's rights to remove warnings.
I hope that helps clarify things for you and helps you feel less upset with me. One more thing. You mention that you have given references and arguments that I have not responded to. I was unaware of this. I shall see what you have provided and give you the feedback you request. --Blue Tie 01:38, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I understand about not doing the research. I think that had you done it, it would not matter. Generally, people have a feeling about this and the history is not quite as important.
There is a way that I sort of agree with you: Clearly some people now disagree with the policy. However, when it was put on the page it was unchallenged for months. To me, this is an indicator of concensus (no disagreement) followed by a late challenge. Because of the late challenge, a revision was made that reduced the nature of the infraction -- a compromise position. However, those who do not like the policy do not like the compromise. So, clearly there is no concensus right now. However, the way I look at it, there WAS previously a concensus. Just as there is concensus that the warning templates belong on the Vandalism Page. There has never been a discussion about it. They were added without discussion. But there was a concensus about them. The difference between them and the condition of prohibition about removing them is that no one has challenge them.... yet. But, I suspect that if someone ever does challenge them, no one will seriously accept the argument "They were added without a discussion". Furthermore, I suspect that many defenders of the warning templates will say, as I am saying now, "They have been here a long time and they have concensus by longevity". Some will argue that this aspect of the policy does not have longevity. I would point out that longevity is in the eye of the beholder. The policy itself is not very old. I have raised these issues before. I keep having to repeat them and it seems that my points are not being given any consideration at all. But I think that they are logical and valid.
Because I feel that a concensus existed before, and because I detect a compromise position has already been enacted, I feel that opponents to the policy are pushing an agenda contrary to concensus. I believe that, even though I act contrary to the policy myself. --Blue Tie 12:42, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
I think the alternative explanation that I'd be more inclined to is that consensus did not exist, and when enough people noticed the change the lack of consensus became apparent. But I agree it's possible that the people now concerned were ok with it before. William Pietri 16:17, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, this idea that what was there recently was 'an accepted compromise' is completely unwarranted. It was neither accepted nor in any way a compromise... just the same old bad idea with the word 'valid' thrown in as if it were something more than a meaningless panacea. Obviously the people placing the harassing warnings think they are 'valid' and the people removing them do not... so that accomplishes exactly nothing. --CBD 19:18, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

(unindent)I do not think either of you correctly understood what I was saying. I take that as my fault. I consider a concensus position to have been in place for months that said: "Removal of Warnings is Vandalism". Even though I disagree with that policy I consider it to have been the concensus view on the basis that it was added almost at the same time as the warning templates and not significantly protested for a long time.

THEN it became a matter of dispute and concensus went away. At that point a compromise position was put in place. This compromise position is not one that has concensus support. Some people want warnings to be removable at a whim. Others want removal of warnings to be considered vandalism or otherwise entirely prohibited. The version that has been around for a while was a compromise between these two points and made everyone a bit unhappy. That was what I meant by "concensus" and by "compromise". Not that I never said "accepted compromise. Indeed, I think the compromise position is the least supported position. The distibution of opinions may be Weibull with the centroid (compromise) being least favored. --Blue Tie 21:53, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Blue Tie, you and I both contributed heavily to the back history posted under #Introduction above. I'm still not understanding where you're seeing the long-time in which the information was uncontested, and an uninformed addition is a sneaky, non-consensus way to do something that is not merely descriptive of current practice. When you compare the length of time this guideline has been in the text with the years that it was not before, the appeal to tradition sort of breaks down for me... help me understand your point of view here? -- nae'blis 22:00, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes I think we did both contribute. And I appreciate and value your contributions and opinions. The long time stretch, as I have said repeatedly is relative. Compared with the age of the universe it really is not that long a time. Compared with the age of the introduction of the Warning Templates, it is a long time. The long time was weeks and months and I have covered it in detail elsewhere. I will look up my prior results if you wish.
I prefer not to use perjorative terms such as "sneaky" in describing the addition of the element to policy because I am assuming good faith on the part of the editor who placed it in the policy. Perhaps you are not, but that would be contrary to policy, would it not?
And contrary to your point (but thanks to CBD), I see that this was, in fact, descriptive of current practice at the time. And I did indeed compare the length of time this text was intact vs the length of time that the policy was in place (Can you find the date it became an official policy? I looked and could not find it) and in particular the date when the aspects of the policy regarding Warning Templates were included (without discussion - Does that mean that the templates were included in a sneaky, non-consensus way contrary to prior practice?).
Incidentally, I really like your signature. It always makes me think nice things. My emotional reaction to your signature is to like you -- without any cause! So...what does it mean?

--Blue Tie 01:56, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

A possible compromiseEdit

If Wikipedia policies are descriptive, then the following might best describe the current practice with respect to warning removal:

The removal of legitimate warnings may or may not be prohibited depending on a balancing of many factors, including but not limited to whether the editor who received the warning is an unregistered user, a new user, or an established user, the seriousness of the misconduct for which the warning was issued, how recently the warning was issued, whether the editor was blocked at the time of the warning removal, and the preferences of the administrator responding to the report. Unregistered users who remove legitimate warnings may or may not have their talk pages semi-protected depending on whether their warning removal is or is not prohibited as described above.

John254 22:21, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Alternate suggestion: Start documenting, somewhere, where in the block log this clause has been enforced. If administrators are not enforcing a prohibition, then it doesn't have consensus as a blockable problem (unlike the U.S. Congress, we don't have to keep bad or ineffective laws on the books). If they are enforcing it, that will be good data to have for your persuasive argument, John. -- nae'blis 23:27, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Many unregistered users have had their talk pages semi-protected to prevent further warning removal -- for a few examples, see [11] and [12]. John254 01:11, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Datapoint I have semi-protected in such circumstances but that has almost always been when the user in question is removing the templates and replacing them with profanity or similar items. JoshuaZ 03:10, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Another possible compromiseEdit

Warnings have expiration dates and when the expiration date passes may be removed by the user according to this schedule:

  • Warnings that are placed for harrassment purposes or in error, expire immediately and harrassers may be subject to immediate blocks. (I have ideas about how to identify likely harrassment or error)
  • Warnings by other users that are legitimate and use approved templates, expire after 72 hours.
  • Warnings by admins expire after 1 month.
  • Exceptions:
    • Any warning may be placed by the user or admin with an earlier expiration date declared at the time
    • Agreement between the two parties involved, that the warning may be removed earlier is also valid
    • Expiration dates extend if another warning is applied between its placement and its expiration date. All warnings extend to the latest expiration date.
    • A history of all warnings leading to a block where the block lasts longer than 1 week should be restored and should remain for 3 months or for the duration of the block plus one month , whichever is longer. The Blocking Authority may reduce this.
    • Three Vandalism or disruption warnings in one month are to be restored and remain on the page for another month after the third warning.

I would have this on the template page rather than the vandalism page. The warning templates should include links to information about how to protest, what constitutes harrassment, how to report harrassment, and how or when to remove it.

I am fully aware that this proposal will be attacked and rejected. I want to address three of the reasons up front.

One reason will be that it is too complex. Well, that is the nature of compromises. They are often complex rather than simple. More extreme views on any subject are usually binary, simpler and tautological in nature. Yes. No. White. Black. In. Out. Hot. Cold. Etc. Not Etc. Compromises are often harder and more complex. "Yes in these instances, no in these instances", "shades of grey", "You get territory with these boundaries.", "Keep at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees", "Please provide details".

So it is with this compromise. It is longer and wordier than "Removal of Warnings are considered Vandalism" or "Removal of Warnings is OK".

The second reason is that it provides for some period of time that warnings remain on a user page and some people view this as "bad". I do not believe it is bad. Blocks certainly remain on pages a long time. Warnings, which are not as bad as blocks may serve as a means to prevent blocks and improve wikipedia.

Consider (if you find yourself objecting to all compromises), whether you are not really interested in seeking a concensus of any view except your own. If that is the case you could simply post "I will never agree with any position that is different from my own" and everyone will know that unless concensus agrees with you there will never be concensus (unless somehow concensus does not have to include your opinion).

On the other hand, even if a compromise position does not quite match your views, can you live with it?

The third reason is the belief that User Pages are the property of the User and no one should tell them how to live in their own space. The reply to this objection could be that it is based upon a false belief regarding user pages and user talk pages. I am not sure though that this isn't something like a religion to some people and any reply would not really be accepted.

Those are the three objections I expect. By listing them I do not mean that you refrain from objecting on one of those principles described above. But if you have another reason, I would be especially interested in it.

 --Blue Tie 03:01, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
The only portion of this which acts as a sort of 'compromise' is the first bit... allowing immediate removal and blocking people for inappropriate warnings. The problem I still see with that is that it is entirely subjective. I've seen admins place 'vandalism' warnings for things which were clearly not vandalism more than once... and regular users do it on a daily basis. They most often think it IS vandalism and will even argue that against the clear wording of the policy to the contrary. So it is a given that this practice would continue to be mis-applied. Ok... so then we block people... when we find out about it. Alot of cases will still go unnoticed and people will be harassed with invalid warnings. And the ones we do see? Each will generate arguments about whether it was a 'good edit war' or a 'bad edit war'... but meanwhile it WAS an edit war, over the display of a message which the user clearly found insulting and/or embarassing. In such circumstances even the 'good' edit wars are going to generate alot of anger. Think about that. The proper application of this policy will, by its inherent design, infuriate people... repeatedly re-adding a message they find insulting. That's just a really bad idea... even before you get into all the problems of the systemic abuse of the practice. --CBD 20:03, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Interestingly enough, your objection is related to "subjectivity". Subjectivity is part of the human condition. That is why we have developed the term "judgment" to refer to the analysis of data that are difficult to process in a purely quantitative manner. Good judgement is a sign of character quality and hopefully a criteria for adminship. (If not, it should be). As an example, admins must make subjective evaluations regularly regarding the nature of offenses and the appropriate response. So too with warnings I would suggest. However, to avoid making it "too subjective" you should note that I have provided relatively objective standards for lengths of time and authority. I suggest that your objection is not really about the subjectivity (after all -- you use subjectivity every day even as an editor and certainly as an admin) but rather that it goes against the grain of your beliefs about wikipedia. Am I a little bit close? --Blue Tie 20:10, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Let us suppose, for the moment, that good judgement IS a pre-requisite for adminship... so? The proposal and the way it has been used to date have been open to everyone, not just admins. Is 'good judgement' a pre-requisite for birth? If not then I think the problem in relying on 'good judgement' to steer an inherently disruptive practice away from problems ought to be self-evident. As to the rest... no, my objection really is to relying on subjective judgement to 'thread the needle' between the rare cases where restoring warnings can be beneficial and the vastly more common instances where it just makes everyone mad. 'Good judgement' would steer us away from such a system entirely. --CBD 20:33, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Please note that in my suggestion there are differences between anons and new users, more experienced users and admins. This, to some extent takes some subjectivity out of the matter. As for your sense of what "good judgment" would direct regarding policy... that is a matter of opinion and decision and wise or good people will differ. Or maybe you do not agree.
I know you have made some other edits and I will reply another day. --Blue Tie 20:39, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

How does this resolve anything? The reasons in favor of enforcement are all related to easiness. This is authoritarianism to make it easier for a few people. That is and will always been wrong. --MateoP 16:26, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

It appears that you dismiss it without any concrete reasons. I feel confident that anything I said in support would also be dismissed. But one thing I would mention: That you think it is and will always be wrong is your personal value structure at work. It is not a matter of fact or truth. It is an opinion. Others have different opinions and these deserve the same level of consideration and respect as you would want your opinions and ideas to receive. --Blue Tie 01:10, 27 September 2006 (UTC)


okay, I'll admit that I have no clue what's going on, and I'm not reading 236kB just to find out. I instead have an idea. A small idea. An unobtrusive idea that would be easy for vandalfighters to see. And that is a template. This would be a mini-template like the one with the star for featured articles, except it would have a list of all levels of warnings recieved and the most recent date, all someone would needto do is add a template ({{subst:mw1|~~~~~}} - mini-warning1?), this would put a little 1 or I or whatever in the top margin with the date. The next person would have to add {{subst:mw2|~~~~~}} and delete the old date, then you have 1 2 21:44, 23 September 2006 (UTC) and it's out of everyone's way? ST47Talk 21:44, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

And when the user removes this template because they feel, perhaps correctly, that it was placed there improperly and/or to harass them? Making the warnings less obtusive as you suggest might be less objectionable than the current big red 'X' and 'stop hand' octagons, but the essential problem remains... people are going to disagree about when warnings should be placed/removed and allowing people to edit war on this issue to enforce their view is, by its very nature, disruptive. --CBD 19:49, 24 September 2006 (UTC)


I hate to jump in here from nowhere, but I have had problems with editors using {{Wr}}, {{Wr3}} and {{Wr4}} to justify edit warring on other editor's talk pages. Since it is not currently policy that removing talk page warnings is vandalism (and I hope this discussion is not going in that direction); shouldn't those templates be reworded or even MfD'd? There is {{Wr0}} which is neutral and informative, but having levels 1-4 on the vandalism scale is trouble. Thatcher131 23:52, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree that these templates need attention for the reasons stated above, though I do not necessarily agree with Thatcher131's position on the removal of vandalism warnings from one's own user talk page. --Neurophyre(talk) 02:14, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
The removal of legitimate warnings doesn't have to be defined as vandalism to prohibit it. In fact, {{Wr4}} states that "Removing legitimate warnings from your talk page is considered disruption." Disruptive behavior can be prevented, even when there is no written policy against it. Indeed, many unregistered users have had their talk pages semi-protected to prevent further warning removal -- for a few examples, see [13] and [14]. Furthermore, the warning removal templates have recently undergone a TFD discussion, Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion/Log/2006_August_9#Template:wr.2C_wr2.2C_wr3.2C_wr4, which indicates a clear consensus to keep them. John254 21:17, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Please explain to me how removing a warning from one's own talk page could be disruptive to writing an encyclopedia. I'm not making a judgment either way; please explain what is disruptive about it. >Radiant< 23:55, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
    • I explained why the removal of legitimate warnings could be considered disruptive here. John254 00:04, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
      • (responded and under discussion at WP:ANI). >Radiant< 00:19, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Anyone who'd like to comment about these templates might want to do so on WP:TFD. Probably the discussion is essentially resolved already, so probably rewording them is a better way, so I'd encourage anyone who wants to jump in to do so

Archives should be Proper Archives (Clear to Research & Enforce)Edit

I propose that whenever users remove content from their talk page they be required to make proper archive sub-pages, which would have the content accessible via links at the top of the user's talk page. I am sure that a button with code could be created to automate this.

I believe that this compromise would make it easy for users to keep a tidy and timely talk page without clutter of old discussions and warnings and also make it easy for vandal fighters to research patterns. When trolls and vandals simply blank their talk pages, it becomes much more difficult to research patterns in their past history on Wikipedia because one has to find the blanking point in the history, which may be unsummarized (though automated line/char counts in edit summaries would help). If a user inappropriately deletes talk material, then editors could create a proper archive for them. If a user creates too many archive pages (i.e. one per edit) then occasionally an editor could consolidate archives for them, and even this might be possible to automate. If this simple and clear system is repeatedly abused by a user, then simple and clear cases can be made. Hu 18:07, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I concur. It should be legitimate to remove warnings from one's main talk page, as long as they are archived, provided that two conditions are met: 1) the link to the archive page is clearly labelled as such and clearly visible from the main talk page; 2) warnings are not removed in this manner immediately after they are issued, but only after a minimum period of time (e.g. 72h). I do NP patrolling regularly, and in one month I encountered two vandals who immediately removed warnings from their page, so these two conditions are essential, in my opinion. More "permanent" removal of warning should be possible only to admins, if they establish the warning was unjustified (e.g. one of the two vandals above pasted his removed warnings on my talk page). --Nehwyn 16:00, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the above. I think that is the way to go about handling warnings on talk page, although I would even go farther and make the minimum time for archiving warnings to 2 weeks (I will settle for 1 week)perhaps. I do not think that 72 Hours is enough. Other than that, everything said by Nehwyn seems to be the best way to handle the situation. Wikipediarules2221 01:12, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Own comment refactored out for reason in edit summary. -- QTJ 02:47, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
  • There are perfectly valid reasons not to make some archives accessible to Google, and the easiest way is by simply removing some of the discussion. There is no point in archiving every silly statement and personal attack that people later regret in talk archives that are found by Google, especially if real names are involved. Furthermore, all this is m:Instruction creep. Kusma (討論) 14:40, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
By warnings does this proposal mean...?
a) Administrator warnings that properly state they should not be removed.
b) Administrator warnings in general, independently if they make clear that they should not be removed.
c) Other legititmate warnings such as those from anti-vandal patrollers, when they clearly state that should not be removed.
d) Other legititmate warnings such as those from anti-vandal patrollers, even when they do not say anything about their removal.
e) Non-legitimate warnings such as those used by normal users sometimes, possibly to harass another user.

I think that only those legiimately issued warns that clearly state that they should not be removed can legitimate action because of their removal. I also think that warns issued by normal users (non-admins or non-patrollers) have no merit other than the opinion they express and can be removed at will (and sometimes even make a case for harassment). I also think that the templates should be removed after a "probatory period" in any case (a month max., a week min.), if no further legitimate warnings have been issued.

Otherwise I agree that the talk should be archived correctly... but only as guideline. Non-enforceable. There's a history that can be checked in any case and not everybody is sufficiently "wikiwise" and after all it's their personal space, not an article.

I think this issue should be better solved if patrollers get some sort of means to check users's warning history without being dependent on templates. That, as has been pointed repeatedly, are no guarantee of anything.

I strongly oppose forcing users to keep warns for months in they user talk pages even if they have been issued correctly. If they deserve real whipping they would probably be blocked by that time. --Sugaar 20:53, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Deletion reviewEdit

See here for a discussion about the status of the 'removing warnings templates'. --CBD 13:12, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Advice on what I should doEdit

I seem to have gotten myself in to a minor edit war with an anon about the removal of a legitimate warning. I had thought that it was clear cut considered wrong to remove warnings if you aren't archiving but I now see it isn't. The specific case I need advise on is with this user User talk:

A little background. I checked out this users contributions because I wanted to offer some constructive criticism of an edit they made and I tend to check out the contribs of anons just to see if they've been up to anything. It was from this that I realised they'd removed a warning for vandalism. I reintroduced the warning which they promptly removed. I then welcomed them and explained why I came to their page in the first place. I also advised them why I reintroduced the warning. A bit later I realised I hadn't explained that well why I had reintroduced the warning so I went back and explained some more.

I came back at a later date and realised they'd removed it again. So I warned/asked them again not to remove the warning with one of the templates which had now been deleted. I later came back and found the warning had again been removed and a message left for me justifying their removal on the grounds that the user hasn't vandalised anymore (which is true) and threatening to vandalise my talk page if I continued. I again reintroduced the warning and attempted to explain again why I felt they should not remove the warning. I also warned said user against vandalising my talk page.

I accept now that the template was a bad idea and some of my advise was incorrect (it's not against policy and I suggested it might be). However I still feel that this user should not remove the warning. It is a legitimate warning (even if from a bot) and it was only a little over a week ago. Said user (I'm assuming here it's the same user which I don't know for sure since the vandalise was after nearly all of the other edits) did only vandalise once and has made other contructive edits previously however as I've stated, I feel a user contribs should speak for themselves. A single warning is not going to reflect poorly if a user continues to edit contrusctively. Also, this is an anon so I personally feel they have less right to modify the talk page as they see fit. However I'm seeking feedback on how to deal with this matter.

What I'm seeking advice on is whether I should I let this user be or is it acceptable for me to continue to re-add the warning? If you think I should stop, do you feel my actions are wrong or in violation of policy or simply that there is no point continuing to try and convince this user not to remove warnings? Nil Einne 10:26, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

  • Several proposed policies to forbid warning removal were defeated. As such, people remain allowed to remove things that they don't like from their talk page, and that includes warnings. Revert warring to replace a warning is bad form. One may assume that a user removing a warning has read said warning, so if he persists in the behavior that lead to the warning in the first place, sanctions may be appropriate. (Radiant) 13:07, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Issuing warningsEdit

Is there a policy or guideline that governs the issue of who may issue warnings and in what circumstances? I cannot find one. Certainly, if there is one then it is neither easy to find nor well-enforced.

A lot of the arguments in favour of introducing sanctions for removing warnings seems to hinge on the assumption that all warnings are issued by administrators or experienced vandal fighters, but if it is really the case that there is no regulation of the issuing of warnings -- if any user, regardless of status or experience, is permitted to issue a warning -- then clearly a warning template cannot be considered to have any inherent authority at all, and should not be treated any differently from any other kind of talk-page comment.

Consider an example: back in May I was given a "blatant vandalism" warning by a user who had registered under 48 hours previously, and who had a grand total of 10 edits to his name at that time. I can't be sure, but I believe it was probably in response to my having removed a spam link from an article. Are people really, seriously, of the opinion that I should have left that utterly spurious warning on my talk page forever? If so, on what grounds?

Any policy that wishes to introduce any kind of sanction for removing warnings should therefore also introduce clear guidelines governing the issuing of warning templates, and a clear statement that it is permitted to remove warnings that were issued contrary to policy or otherwise without good reason. To give warnings any kind of direct power, without also providing checks and balances, would merely encourage disruption of Wikipedia for very little gain. — Haeleth Talk 16:58, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I strongly oppose the removal of legitimate warnings but agree re: checks and balances.
I don't think users should be allowed to remove warnings themselves. I see vandals and spammers doing it everyday. Getting rid of warnings buys them time before they get blocked since warnings flag others that the person is a repeat offender.
I think an alternate response to the abuse of warnings is to have someone else -- probably an admin -- look at a warning if a user thinks it's unfair, then have them remove it. Also, at various times, I know that maliciously giving warnings has been characterized by policy as a form of vandalism and/or personal attack (I can't remember which) constituting a gross abuse of policy and worthy of warnings or even blocks for the person handing out false warnings. The policies and guidelines change every so often -- I went looking for the reference but couldn't find it; maybe I missed it. If it's not currently policy, I strongly believe it should be.
I'm not an admin, but the few times I've seen maliciously awarded warnings on others' talk pages, I've put a big note in bold letters next to it that a 3rd party thought the warning was bogus. I've also then put a big, ugly note and warning template on the offender's talk page. --A. B. 17:14, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Fist: what is a legitimate warning. I understand that those issued by sysops (and maybe AV patrollers)
Second, admins just take too long to remove any sort of templates: I had to remove myself a block template after several days when nobody else did it, despite they are supposed to be removed just after the block has expired.
Third: the problem is not templates or their removal, but that patrollers need to be able to quickly see how many vandalism warnings has a user. That must be adressed some other way because real vandals either remove all the warnings or use variable IPs.
Fourth it's dificult to determine when a warning is real or bogus. A given user can issue a warn in good faith even being wrong or issue many warns as form of harassment even being partly right.
Fifth there's no policy on removing warnings and, furthermore, users need not to know it. If the template is not explicit and does not explain how to remove them, abused users are defenseless.
The best thing is that users can manage their talk pages with great freedom and that patrollers are given adequate means otherwise. --Sugaar 19:56, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
A legitimate warning is any warning that has been issued that has merit, regardless of who issued it. If you told someone to F off on an article talk page and user:averagejoe left you a civil1 template, its legitimate. Legitimacy has nothing to do with who issued it. Patrollers become patrollers just by patrolling. Anyone can do it.
Second: if an admin is taking too long to remove a template and a discussion has been had about its removal, then leave a proper justification for removing it. If someone has left an NPA3 template on your page and you've never made a personal attack in your entire wikipedia history, and they can't provide a diff to back up the template, remove it with that comment.
Third:Not all vandals use variable IPs, and there are plenty of logged in users who have behaviour issues. I've seen vandals extensively use a single IP even after multiple blocks.
Fourth: Its not that difficult, if its questioned, request a diff from the individual who left the warning. If they don't provide one, remove it, if they do and you don't agree, add it to request for third opinion.
Fifth: There needs to be a policy, that is the point of this discussion. Abused users aren't defenseless, there is a help link on the left, and they can get clarification there, or the village pump on how to clear it up if the warning was false.
Users can manage their talk page how they like, but legitimate warnings shouldn't be wiped. they can be archived after an appropriate time (about a week is what I've seen in many places). How rampant do you feel wrong warnings are in comparison to people trying to cover up legitimate warnings. In my experience improper warnings are often left by vandals/people with a behaviour issue trying to get back at someone who's left them a warning and about 5% or so of warnings I leave are blanked quickly to try and cover them up by obvious vandals.--Crossmr 23:24, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
In my experience improper warnings are left by smart disruptive editors that want to force other editors out of the disputed page.
Abused users can be defenseless if sysops consider the warnings as such without further investigation.
I believe that only warnings issued by administrators (or vandalism warnings issued by patrollers) have validity. The rest are just opinions and count zero. Else, irascible editors can spam literally dozens of warnings to one or many users, while the rest, who, as the policy suggest, grow a thick skin don't do anything of the like.
What we can't do is accept that our protection policies serve to harass, gag and displace serious editors. In my understanding only sysop issued warns are really valid (with the exception of vandalism ones issued by patrollers).
See: imagine that you and I get into a dispute on an article and you say: "you have a very liberal perspective" and I go to your page and place a warn for PA ("liberal" can be insulting maybe), then you protest: "you are abusing policy, Stalin is a saint compared with you" and I go and place another warn, etc. You get hotter and hotter and I keep placing those warns: you end with 15 warns and only my opinion to sustain them. Are you or are you not justified to remove them? I think you are and you are also justified to denounce me for abusing policy. Yet, there's no realistic mechanism to appeal those warns or to denounce me, because "I have placed them in good faith", "I felt insulted by your remarks"...
So be careful who you give power to. And allow for a simple method to remove whatever warns are invalid (and even those that are arguably valid but are obsolete). --Sugaar 02:03, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
If the warning was legitimate, regardless of their behaviour, the warning still applies. Your opinion on who can leave warnings is, in all honesty, flawed. Administrators are voted on by their peers, patrollers just have to patrol, heck they don't even have to patrol. They're not regulated or accounted for in any fashion. There is no difference between them and any other editor except that they take the time to click on the recent changes or new pages link and go through it and check them out. There are no prerequisites for doing so, and no one polices who can put that template on their user page. You're creating random power for some supposed class of user where none exists. Wikipedia has a long standing history of allowing any user to warn another user and only bring it to an administrators attention when that behaviour escalates. The polices don't gag anyone. Even when blocked the user can continue to post to their talk page unless they become disruptive. And the block template does include instructions for appeal. As far as your example goes, there are realistic mechanism to appeal warnings. Have you not read the wikipedia dispute resolution page? Request for comment? Third Opinion? Wikipedia is built on consensus. If a warning is disputed with more than a generic blanking of no explanation, Go visit Wikipedia:Third Opinion, Wikipedia:Village pump (assistance) or some of the several other pages you can talk to other wikipedians for clarification. Others will go, check out the situation, and leave their opinion. They may agree the warning is warranted, or indeed the warning was false. That is how appeal works around here. We only have the arbitration committee for extreme cases. If a consensus is reached by a few editors regarding a situation, i.e. a handful of people stop by your talk page and say "That warning was not proper" and the person issuing it persists in adding it to your talk page, then you head over to a place like the administrators noticeboard. These places aren't hard to find and everyone seems to find their way there eventually. Some warning templates are already of a big size because of the necessity of explaining the policy, adding additional lines for links to various dispute resolution pages, administrator noticeboards, etc bloats them unnecessarily. These are often only necessary the first time, after that, you've been told where they are. Adding them to a template becomes pointless, a template should only contain information that will be necessary to issue every time you use it. There is a simple method for removing obsolete warnings. Archive them. WP:ARCHIVE. For invalid ones, send the user a message, ask for where you displayed the behaviour they've warned you for, if they don't provide a diff, remove the warning and put in your edit summary "I asked user xxx to provide the place I behaved as such and they failed to do so in a reasonable amount of time, removing the warning as invalid at this time" No one will fault you for that if you've genuinely asked them and they've failed to respond.--Crossmr 06:59, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Warnings are not informative of why were issued, who issued them (if it's a sysop, a patroller or just a common user) and how to remove/appeal themEdit

I don't see this as an issue. Anyone can issue a warning and anyone should if they see problem behaviour. Whether its a sysop, patroller or common user the warning is just as valid. Most warnings have a -n template (which I try to use as much as possible) which indicates the page the warning originated from, and the warning it self usually describes the problem observed. If someone really needs to dig in to it, they can goto the page and check the history. Patrollers are mostly interested in how many times and for what the user has been warned, they don't need to sit there and see diffs to judge whether or not the warning is valid, they expect that discussion to have already taken place. However if a warning is recently issued (last few hours) I might check up on it to see specifics. As far as removing/appealing them, if they're valid (which I believe the majority of them likely would be) they don't need to be removed. If they're invalid (i.e. being used for harassment) I don't expect a new user would suffer that kind of harassment and an experienced user should know where to go to ask about them. Someone could create a WP:WARNINGS page which could be linked at the end of every warning template if it was really necessary.--Crossmr 23:15, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I do see that as a major issue. You log in in Wikipedia and see that "you have new messages", arrive to your user page and find a template placed by that &%$#!! user that you had a somewhat heated disputed with the day before. It's your first warning ever and the template says nothing but that you can be blocked. No diff, nowhere to appeal, no instructions to follow. You take it as vanalism and revert.
Where's the problem with that.
Imagine that the one placing the warn was a sysop, but there's no easy way to identify them: they don't wear uniform nor have an official plate that identifies them as such. Probably their naming is hidden in some of the WP archives somewhere but you are just a plain editor and have just read the basics. You may not even know what rule you broke as policy is quite complex and the warn probably is very unspecific.
What do you do? Consider that vandalism and revert/delete maybe.
Can I blame you for that? Not really: the fault is in the system that is not sufficiently informative nor user-friendly.
I suggest: every official warn placed by a sysop or vandalism patroller must be in a well designe template that:
1. Informs you of the specific reason of the warn
2. Informs you of the person issuing the warn and his/her status as sysop or patroller
3. Informs you of what to do with the warn (remove in 2 weeks, don't remove, remove after reading...)
4. Informs you of how to appeal a possibly unjust warn
Only this way users unfamiliar with warns and policy can react correctly. Else you are asking editors to be lawyers and that's not realistic nor good for the community. --Sugaar 02:15, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
You always have the option to talk to the editor or click the help link on the left to post a question to get more help. Do you expect every warning to come with a magic link that you just click it and it makes it go away? Every warning should be signed, and if not your talk page has a history. You can easily find the user who left it and ask them why it was left on their talk page. If they don't respond, remove it. Administrators often are identified on their user page by a user box as well as a category they're in. No you're asking editors to be lawyers. You're asking people who leave warnings to spoonfeed them to every user and coddle them through the process. Warnings always have links to relevant policies and guidelines. These pages also have talk pages where people can post questions. There are plenty of readily available resources for you to question a warning left on a page. Just because you fail to recognize them doesn't make them non-existent.--Crossmr 06:45, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Lets refresh and approach thisEdit

We've got a lot of discussions going on here, a lot of proposals, a couple of agreements, but not much headway it seems. Let's break this down:

  • What is a warning?

A warning is a message left by one editor to another editor either via a template or spontaneously written text.

  • What is the purpose of a warning?

A warnings purpose is to enable the editor who has left the message to express their feelings that the editor receiving the message has behaved in a manner that is contrary to wikipedia policy. It serves to point the receiving editor to the appropriate policy, and should reference the behaviour that has been disagreed with.

There are two kinds of warnings. Warnings which are legitimate, that is warnings of which there is no real contention to whether or not the receiving individual exhibited the disagreeable behaviour and warnings which are not legitimate, that is warnings which are left perhaps to harass a user or which several editors have agreed the behaviour warned against was not displayed.

  • Handling warnings which are not legitimate

So far it seems everyone is in agreement that these should be removed immediately. Whether that is immediately after they've been left, or if a discussion is necessary, after they've been discussed that would depend on the situation.

  • Where would you get help for a warning that isn't legitimate.

If its obviously false, i.e. you've been accused of a personal attack and have never uttered so much as a strong word, remove it with an explanation in the edit summary. If there is disagreement from both sides, seek a Third Opinion or the village pump for outside editors input on the warning and what should be done with it.

  • Handling Legitimate warnings

There seems to be little agreement so far on this subject. New/Recent Page patrol persons will benefit from at the least a short term record of warnings on a user's talk page.

  • Long Term handling of warnings

I see no problem with legitimate warnings staying in permanent archive on a users talk page. We're all supposed to act like adults here, and part of being an adult is that you take the good with the bad. You archive all those barnstars and other great comments people have made about you, so why not archive the warnings you were given long ago? If you've changed your behaviour, doesn't it show that you've become a better editor who overcame challenges? If you haven't changed your behaviour, they're useful for future editors who have to deal with you. It highlights problem areas, perhaps User B freaks out every time someone edits the jellybean article in a way he doesn't like. The only reason I can see for removal of legitimate warnings, is really an attempt to bury past behaviour. I don't see why anyone should get a pass on that here.

  • Reasons against burying past behaviour

In a arbcom case I was giving evidence against an individual. Through a little digging, I was able to find a trail back through some owned comments of IPs and other such things that the individual had more than one account and that he'd been exhibiting this behaviour that was being questioned since what could be determined as some of his first edits on wikipedia before he had an account and all the while promising to stop it anytime now. That took quite a bit of work. Not everyone should have to spend that much work if it becomes necessary to examines someone's past behaviour. On an individual who's talk page has been archived several times, trying to dig through diffs and other things to find out what has been said can be extremely time consuming and unnecessary. Its not always necessary to know every editors intimate history here on Wikipedia, but it can help. Is an editor generally uncivil or are carrots his hot button? a history of civil warnings made in regards to carrot related articles may be an indication the editor doesn't need a block but just to stay away from articles about carrots.

If you're ashamed of the warning, well honestly thats tough luck. There is a saying, dont' do the crime if you can't do the time. Warnings sitting on your talk page really aren't that bad, most people have a couple about something. It certainly doesn't preclude you from taking part in anything here on wikipedia, even admins have warnings. Showing that you have the maturity to take a warning and improve your behaviour is a much better course of action than trying to remove it.--Crossmr 22:57, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Funny that you should liken Wikipedia warnings to "doing the time" for a crime. You see, in countries like mine, a criminal record is not a scarlet letter: if you don't reoffend, then after a certain period of time (which depends on the severity of the crime) your conviction becomes "spent", at which point you no longer have to disclose the fact that you were ever convicted (except in certain special clearly-defined circumstances). It is considered best for society for reformed offenders to be permitted to get on with their lives without the stigma of constantly being forced to declare that they were once criminals. The same applies to Wikipedia warnings, IMO.
The only reason you have cited that seems to be an argument in favour of forcing people to retain warnings on their user talk pages is that this would make it quicker for vandal patrollers to check up on them. I remain unconvinced that this is a good thing. In civilised society, "doing the time" is predicated on the concept of due process, and that means, among other things, proper investigation and consideration of mitigating circumstances. This is hardly the same as a warning issued in milliseconds by a vandal patroller clicking on a single automatic "warn this user" button, and warnings issued in this way should hardly be considered to have the binding nature of a carefully considered court order. Sorry, but IMO it is absolutely right and proper that the evidence given against users in arbcom proceedings should be the result of hard work and detailed research, not the result of trivially searching a talk page for warning templates. Serious accusations deserve serious investigations. (I'm also not clear on exactly how a no-removing-warnings policy would have helped you at all in the case you describe.)
As for your other arguments -- "part of being an adult is that you take the good with the bad", "showing that you have the maturity to take a warning..." -- well, ignoring the patronising tone, these are reasons to encourage people to keep warnings, not reasons to force them to. Even if we accept your assertion that keeping warnings is a sign of maturity, applying a policy to enforce it is hard to advocate. Exactly what is that supposed to achieve, other than teaching immature users that Wikipedia is a cruel and arbitrary place where you will be told off whatever you do?
Finally, you still seem to be missing what I think is the most important issue, which is this: warnings should not have any direct meaning whatsoever until warnings are themselves more rigorously regulated, including a requirement that all warnings issued be linked directly to a diff illustrating the offending activity. Until then, it will remain incredibly difficult to determine whether any given warning is valid or not. You say that warnings "should reference the behaviour that has been disagreed with", but the simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of warnings issued today do not make any reference to it, and those that do normally reference only the article where it allegedly took place, not the actual edits. This is simply not a good enough foundation to build any kind of enforcement policy on. Warnings of this sort are fine as transient messages, to be issued and read when the incident in question is fresh in everyone's mind, but they are totally unacceptable as permanent records. — Haeleth Talk 00:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you should read what I wrote again. I cited a reason outside of vandal patrolling for keeping warnings as I illustrated in the arbcom case I was giving evidence in where I followed behaviour back over a year. That was not a case of vandalism. I see nothing cruel about requiring people to keep warnings in their archive. I'm not proposing that they be forced to wear it on their sleeves surrounded in bright blinking lights. Most of the warnings now have been around for awhile and have been reviewed by many many editors. While none are required to link to diffs (not a hard thing to code in), that isn't a major change. It currently isn't that hard to determine if a warning is valid. Ask the person who issued it. Continuing the communication chain is how you keep a process going. I'm not sure what some people expect to happen after a warning is left, but if there is a problem, ask. I also addressed that in what I wrote, about going to third opinion or the village pump to seek outside opinion on the warning. Most warnings also have -n templates which allow the person leaving the message to indicate the article in question where the problem took place. Its no large feat to goto that article, compare an edit around the same time stamp as the warning, or read a talk page and see if you can see a problem. As for arbcom cases being easy or hard, they should always be as easy as possible. You want to make it easier for people to hide their bad behaviour? Even with the warning templates left, you'd still have to investigate the circumstances further, but it points you in the right direction. Now someone could bury all records requiring an even bigger time commitment on something that could benefit from a reduction in it. I don't see what possible benefit that would have to wikipedia.--Crossmr 00:47, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Good to refresh this discussion, Crossmr but, while it starts well, it fails as you read farther.
The main problem is that all warnings left by non-sysops (or possibly patrollers in vandalism cases) are just personal opinions. Hence the user may well take them as harassment, undue warnings, bogus warnings or whatever according to his/her own criteria (an often correctly, as it's becoming a bad custom that certain users harass/bully others with such undue warnings).
You can't just leave harassed users at the expense of a long unclear and confuse procedure just to remove one bogus warning that infuriates or hurts his/her feelings.
My counter proposal is:
1. All warnings must be duly justified with a diff of the alleged infraction and the status (sysop, patroller common user) of the person issuing the warning.
2. Warning templates should be wholly reviewed to include these items as well as how to act about them. Templates legitimate for common users should have a less aggresive tone and have no restrictions on their removal as they are just user-to-user messages.
2.1.Only templates issued by sysops/patrollers can have that radical style of "you will be blocked". There should be specific templates for these special users that are in charg of "keeping order" and should be ilegitimate (an infraction: vandalism) that non-authorized users can issue them. These templates should also reference (link) the affected user to:
2.1.1. The causes of the of the warn (transparency)
2.1.2. The issuer and his/her status as patroller/sysop
2.1.3. The policies that apply
2.1.4. What to do with them. Including how to appeal them if deemed erroneous.
2.2. Only templates issued by sysops (or patrollers in cases of outright vandalism) must remain for an specific and clear term (two weeks?, a month?, forever?). But this must be clearly specified in the template.
I think it's fairer, mouch more clear (we avoid users comitting infractions out of ignorance) and it helps preventing harassment by personally/ideologically motivated (ab)users. --Sugaar 00:20, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Your insistence that only administrators be allowed to give legitimate warnings here will never take hold. Wikipedia has never run on the principle that administrators are really that much more than regular users. In fact anyone who seeks to become one for the power is often turned away. They're given additional tools to do administrative tasks. Leaving warnings has never been a task that has been laid on them, nor do they have the time to address that. There are days when they can barely keep the vandal log clear let alone be responsible for warning all those people in the first place. Their warnings have never had anymore legitimacy than anyone else's. Everyone on wikipedia is equal, and administrators are peer voted to be given additional editing abilities. Declaring a status difference between them is completely contrary to what wikipedia is. Warnings also won't be turned into massive paragraphs either. So detailing all the information you want detailed in them likely won't happen either. At the most, a link to a page like WP:WARNINGS could be included, but that is not something that has to be on every template. Once a user has been linked to a page like that, they don't need to be linked to it over and over again. As for harassment, I already addressed that. Any inappropriately left templates could be removed immediately. Unless there is any serious doubt as to whether or not it was inappropriate. Warnings at most would include:
  • a short description of what you felt they did wrong
  • A link to the appropriate policy
  • a link to a page like WP:WARNINGS
  • your signature
Unless you plan on arranging 200-300 additional full time administrators to be here, laying the burden on administrators isn't going to happen. As it is now, administrators won't even deal with an individual until they've been warned a few times because they don't have the time, unless they themselves encountered the person first. So trying to establish some sort of legitimate hierarchy with warnings and who leaves them just won't happen around here.--Crossmr 00:47, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
I think we're arriving to some basic agreement. But I still think that official (admin-issued) or quasi-official (patroller-issued) warnings should be different from users' issued warnings, specially in regard to the right of removal. Too many users are these days using them in what are more content/ideological disputes in order to harass other users. In the end I want it to be three types of legitimate warnings:
1. Standard warnings (that can be issued by anyone and can also be removed after reading them): they are meant to be notifications of improper behaviour (and as preliminary of other actions such as reporting the vandal/attacker to administrators)
2. Vandalism patrol warnings (that only patrollers or sysops should issue), not to be removed in some time (what must be clearly stated in the template)
3. Sysop warnings (that only admins can issue), also not to be removed in some period and considered fully official
I think this differentiation is important to prevent abusive use of warnings in ideological/personal conflict and to avoid the scarlet-letter effect when the issue is not sufficiently clear yet.
So far, I'm assuming that sysops and patrollers always issue fully legitimate warnings. Of course they can commit errors too and therefore there should be a clear way to undo (appeal) them as well.
It would be indeed interesting to have a guideline page on what warnings mean and how to deal with them, linked from all templates, so users do not feel lost when recieving one of them, as may happen the first time (independently on how justified it may be). Yet your proposed link only redirects to Wikipedia:Template messages/User talk namespace, not very useful actually.
What do you think? --Sugaar 09:14, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Just because you've had one bad experience with a user issued warning is in no way indicative that there is any rampant abuse of the warning system to harass users. I've also addressed warnings being used to harass users in my original piece here. However just because someone is in a dispute with you doesn't preclude them from issuing you a warning. If the reason a warning was given was valid, regardless of the persons behaviour who left it, the warning is valid and shouldn't be removed. Harassment in the case of warnings would be someone who puts warnings on your page which aren't true. I.e. if I suddenly jumped over to your talk page and left you a warning not to put copyrighted text on Wikipedia, even though you haven't, you remove it, and I leave you a spam1 saying not to leave tons of links to commercial sites on articles. If you get into a debate with someone about an article and refer to them in a disparaging manner and they leave you an NPA template, its just as valid around here as if an administrator left it, and there is no reason it shouldn't be. Part of the point of a warning template is to make you aware of policy, and whether someone who is in a dispute with you points you towards that or an administrator stops by and does that, you should still have read the policy, and checked your behaviour. There are only two kinds of warnings. Legitimate and non-legitimate. We're not going to class them by saying who can leave them and who can't. If you want to try and give some extra legitimacy to "patrollers", I suspect you'd suddenly see everyone and their dog put a patroller tag on their page. I've explained to you before that like everyone else, patrollers are regular users. Wikipedia does not subscribe to any kind hierarchy, so trying to say one users warning is more important than another's just won't fly here.--Crossmr 15:06, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
To add to the idea of "what is the purpose of a warning", I think especially in the case of test messages, the purpose is really the prima facie one: to alert the person that what they're doing is against policy, since probably a lot of new users really don't know. And the part of the test 3 and 4 messages that mentions blocking is a way of letting the person know what will happen to them if they don't cut it out. So it's valid for a non-admin to leave the warning to let them know. I'm a little dubious about the idea of making it more difficult to leave messages (e.g. having different ones for admins and other users, or going through the history), since there's so much to do when you're RC patrolling it's hard to keep up. I also don't really see much feasibility in making patrollers a different group from others, since anyone can find and (hopefully) revert vandalism, and if they do, they should leave a test message so the vandal gets the message that they should stop. But in any case, this probably won't come up with vandals much anyway, since they're obviously not interested in obeying guidelines or policies anyway, so why would they know about or follow this one? And if they keep vandalizing they're generally blocked pretty quickly for that. So it will probably come up mostly for users that are somewhat interested in being a part of the community, for things like the 3RR. If that's the case, it seems to me like just having a general understanding that it's strongly discouraged and frowned upon to remove warning messages from your talk page without archiving should be enough in most cases, and in the cases where people still insist, they're likely to get in trouble for something else anyway. Of course, this is just my opinion, since I'm usually pretty against making rules unless it's absolutely necessary, since it makes stuff more bureaucratic and cumbersome. delldot | talk 19:24, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
And sometimes editors who have been here awhile need reminded of it as well. We focus a lot on vandalism, but there is behaviour outside that that causes problems. Personal attacks, general uncivil behaviour, and other things that are considered inappropriate behaviour. I've seen cases where someone has gotten away with non-obvious vandalism for over two months. The problem with having a "general understanding" is where we are now. There was a general understanding previously (to a certain degree) that removing valid warnings was bad. What happens is someone removes the warning, some reverts it saying hey don't do that, and it degenerates into a war. Some admins are for it, some against it, you roll the dice when you report it, etc. However if form a policy and say "Removing legitimate warnings is not okay" We can point to that and say "Look. This is the way things are around here, it'll get archived along with all your other talk, you can either choose to follow that or not, but there are predefined consequences for not following it". Otherwise you get into a "Well its your opinion on whether or not it should be removed". There have been enough instances of users who aren't always new users just interested in vandalizing who want to really try and work the system. If your system can be worked you need to close those holes. You can have a large massive system like this completely open and leave things up to the whim of whoever happens to be there at the time. Things become inconsistent. You get a case of "Admin X didn't block me for removing my warning before, so why should this admin do it". When the system gets inconsistent you start getting people who go admin shopping. Find an admin who they know or suspect would behave in a certain manner and report directly to them, rather than take their chances with say the proper channels. It happens already, we don't need to give people another excuse to do that.--Crossmr 02:55, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Back to the margin. Admin etc. like other people are susceptible to emotions. WP has proceedure for removing Admins who are abusive, and they have been used. People don't--or at least shouldn't--vote for Admins who have a record of abuse.
If a good deal of time has past after a legitimate warning, or a disputed one, and you've changed your ways, it will get archived when you archive your talk page & you won't have to see it every day. But it will be there if you relapse.
Article I've been working on, 2 of the eds. are warning each other back & forth, and if it goes to arbitration it will be a useful record :(
But I have seen admins--and others-- act a little hastily to newbies, & I think the appropriate thing for ordinary circumstances is for a 3rd party to leave a note on the newbie's page. DGG 20:22, 17 December 2006 (UTC)


I'd like to get more eyes/opinions on this. I have every faith that it was created with the best of intentions, and it doesn't link removing warnings with the B-word thankfully, but I'm not sure it's needed. Then again, it can probably be edited to the point where it reflects consensus accurately. Here's the current text:

You have removed several user warning templates from your user or user talk page. This is a bad idea. These warnings are not put on your talk page to annoy you; they are put here because other editors think that your behavior needs improvement, and we're giving you the courtesy of letting you know. Please respond by changing your behavior, and please stop removing the warnings. Thank you.

-- nae'blis 21:45, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I like it, it is needed. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 21:48, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I think it's too strong; it gives the impression that removing the warnings is forbidden, or may carry a penalty, neither of which appears to be the case. | Mr. Darcy talk 03:57, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
There's no excuse for removing warnings, because warnings help other users evaluate the level of their next warning. So I think it should stay. Yuser31415 04:31, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Looks perfect to me. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 04:33, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Looks okay to me- the "This is a bad idea" portion could go; it's kind of lame and the message is carried out well already. Sr13 (T|C) 08:49, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Mr. Darcy. There is no consensus to stop editors from removing comments, including warnings, from their talk pages, and this template implies that doing so is wrong. I think that the most that can be said is that some editors regard removal of warnings as bad behavior, while others do not. -- Donald Albury 19:52, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Maybe the "bad idea" wording could be changed to something like "many editors feel that this is a bad idea", or "this is frowned upon by many"... Something to address Dalbury's concerns about sounding like it's reached consensus. Then if a consensus is reached, the wording could be changed. delldot | talk 19:26, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
The whole wording seems off to me. It sounds very informal. This might sound better:

"You have removed several user warning templates from your user or user talk page. These warnings are not put on your talk page to annoy you; they were placed here because other editors have noticed an issue with your behaviour that may require improvement. They are a method of communication and user talk pages stand as a record of communication with you. If you do not believe the warning was valid or have a question about improving your behaviour you can respond here or visit the help desk. If your talk page is becoming long, you can archive it in accordance with the guidelines laid out here How to archive a talk page. Thank you."

I think that sounds a lot more professional.--Crossmr 22:49, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
Crossmr, I have no problem with that, it looks fine. One minor suggestion, you might want to say "the guidelines laid out at How to archive a talk page" rather than "the guidelines laid out here How to archive a talk page." delldot | talk 20:28, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I posted this at the end of section 1 (Introduction), but for the sake of those who go straight to the page bottom for newest comment, I hope this is short enough that you'll forgive my repeating it here:

"Don't remove warnings" is first of all controversial, since many feel a user has the right to delete anything from his talk page (and it shows that he saw it); second of all a major workload to enforce, since it isn't automated; and third of all unnecessary, since naming the warning in the edit summary when you post it will make it permanently visible in the page history.

Unless you want to keep some central registry (somewhere else) of warnings given, which will rapidly become a huge list... or create a third standard user page just for warnings (User warn:Blue Tie)... either of which would involve far more setup than using the already existing history function. -- Ben 20:15, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

This discussion has dragged on way too longEdit

To quote Winston Churchill "This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read." Can't this just go to a vote for consensus already? You don't hold up a presidential election just because the whole "community" hasn't voted. A poll is fine. Put it up for a month. There is way too much back and forth on this issue and it is entirely unproductive. The horse is dead!

The questions are:

  • Should users be allowed to remove warnings from their own talk page? YES/NO
  • Should removing warnings from your own talk page be considered vandalism? YES/NO
  • Should the warning templates be restored? YES/NO

Whatever the consensus is, write the policy from there. This is Wikipedia for crying out loud, not human rights legislation! -- Mufka (user) (talk) (contribs) 01:20, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

We do not establish consensus by voting. Please see Wikipedia:Polling is not a substitute for discussion. -- Donald Albury 01:30, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

The guideline that you reference is just that, a guideline, not a policy. A poll can be used in this case since the discussion is not leading to a consensus. I'm not asking for a vote on whether something is fact or not. I'm asking for an expedient to establishing policy. Discussion that bridges thousands of lines of text across several different articles is grossly inefficient and is simply not working. This is being discussed in places that I haven't even found yet. A policy on user talk page usage is needed. If Wikipedia "is not a democracy", why is consensus even sought? If no poll or vote or consensus can be made, how about if someone just dictates the policy? -- Mufka (user) (talk) (contribs) 02:19, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

But, Wikipedia:Consensus is policy. Read it carefully. -- Donald Albury 20:27, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

OK. I have taken into consideration the policy on consensus. How then does one reasonably go about moving toward consensus on an issue that has no centralized discussion? With the volumes of comments that have been made on the subject, how does one discern whether a consensus exists (not to mention the inherent rehashing of the same opinions)? Can the topic be split into subordinate parts with discussion on each part? Can we outline the boundaries of the discussion, centralize the input and move then toward consensus? -- Mufka (user) (talk) (contribs) 21:18, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

The past discussion here indicates that there is no consensus to change the guidance at Wikipedia:User page#Ownership and editing of pages in the user space. If there is no consensus to change something, we let the status quo ride. People have pretty much exhausted the topic for now. I don't see any reason to try to force a re-opening of the discussion. -- Donald Albury 22:30, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
What if we tried with something very simple and moved from there, for example, attempting to get a consensus on whether or not "Non-vandalism, non-abusive comments left on talk pages should absolutely be archived or if they can just be blanked".--Crossmr 00:28, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
If you want to start a new discussion, make a specific proposal and advertise it on the Village Pump. Please do not try to call a poll before a thorough discussion has taken place, however, and please do not be surprised if no consensus for a change can be found. Personally, I think it's a waste of time to bring it up again so soon, but I'm often a lonely voice in the wilderness, so don't let me stop you. -- Donald Albury 21:58, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

There are too many people on Wikipedia to ever affect any meaningful policy change via consensusEdit

Excuse my bitching here.

First of all, all this hand-wringing about people being branded with a scarlet letter, or WP:BITEing people who make an honest mistake... There are painfully obvious solutions to both those problems: If a warning is stale, e.g. 24 hours old, go ahead and remove it. If a user says they are sorry or that they made a mistake, or any vague way indicates that they are not going to continue the behavior, let them remove even a fresh warning. Even if they are lying.

What drives me up the wall is the people who get a warning, blank it with an edit summary like, "Whateva, I do what I want!", and go on with the bad behavior. Yes yes, page histories, yackety-yackety... I know admins check the page history when the block, but the vast majority of vandalism patrolling and general policing on Wikipedia is done by non-admins who just happen to spot bad behavior while in the process of doing something else. If they open up the edit screen for the user's talk page and realize the warning they are adding is just below "This is your final warning", they are far more likely to report the abuse. If there's nothing on the talk page, they are likely to issue a level 1 or 2 warning without checking the history.

Does this let vandals and other cranks get away for free? No, but it does let them get away with it for longer, and in any case, it's annoying as hell.

As far as bad faith warnings, well, it's just like WP:3RR. It is okay to go past three reverts if the thing you are reverting is obvious vandalism, or in some other way it is clear that the community would never let the content remain. Same with a bad faith warning. If it's obvious that the community won't stand for it, go ahead and blank the warning.

But none of this matters because Wikipedia is so large now, that no matter what policy is proposed, fifty or sixty people will show up and come up with phantom problems with it, meaning that consensus in the Wikipedia sense cannot be achieved on new policies, ever. Seriously, have there been any new policies in the last two years? At all?

That flagged revisions thing seemed to have critical mass, but now it seems to be festering. (While I was initially in favor, I now think it is a bad idea anyway, but that's not really my point here) I dunno, I guess I am just bitching. WP:BLANKING is one of my least favorite policies. --Jaysweet (talk) 14:48, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Ah hah! I have come up with an example where a user removing warnings could significantly prolong their detection as a repeat vandal. In the case where a person is creating pages that are speedy-deleted, the page creation does not appear in their edit history, at least not to non-admins. Yes, you could still see the warnings in the history, but that starts to get a little excessive in terms of process, especially if the warnings are not well-commented. So if I do it at a low enough frequency, I could create attack pages that get CSD'd all the livelong day, by just blanking the warning and then waiting an hour or so to make sure it is not the same person warning me. Every person who came along, unless they really read the history of my talk page, would just assume I was a new user who didn't know any better. --Jaysweet (talk) 20:11, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Return to the project page "Centralized discussion/Removing warnings".