Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)

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The policy section of the village pump is used to discuss proposed policies and guidelines and changes to existing policies and guidelines.
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Notability and stand-alone lists of sports accomplishmentsEdit

I stumbled across a notability issue recently in stand-alone lists of sports accomplishments, specifically cricket statistics. See, for example, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of international cricket five-wicket hauls by Lance Gibbs. There has apparently been a great deal of debate recently at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Cricket which does not appear to have resulted in a consensus. Rather, to the contrary, it appears to have generated enough dissension and hard feelings to provoke editing restrictions and for editors to leave editing that project or retire completely. I hope that by bringing this to the wider community, some clarity may be achieved. Time will tell if that hope is justified or not, I suppose.

Relevant standardEdit

All appear to agree that the relevant standard is WP:NLIST:

Notability guidelines also apply to the creation of stand-alone lists and tables. Notability of lists (whether titled as "List of Xs" or "Xs") is based on the group. One accepted reason why a list topic is considered notable is if it has been discussed as a group or set by independent reliable sources, per the above guidelines; notable list topics are appropriate for a stand-alone list.

The issue appears to be in how to interpret this standard in the light of the available coverage for cricket centuries and five-wicket "hauls". An apparent WP:LOCALCONSENSUS that 25 centuries or some indeterminate number of hauls by one player is justification for a stand-alone list has been mentioned multiple times in recent AfD discussions but multiple discussions at WP Cricket do not seem to have pointed to any place where such a consensus was first formed (e.g.:Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cricket/Archive_84#Steve_Smith_stats Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cricket/Archive_85#Unanswered_question_since_2015 Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cricket/Archive_85#What_to_list_and_not_list Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cricket/Archive_88#Lists_of_International_Centuries Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Cricket/Archive_86#Discussion_on_List_of_fifers/centuries_by_ground:_keep,_delete_or_merge_by_country?. The closest appears to be this discussion which resulted in a consensus that a list of either of these accomplishments for a particular venue requires ten or more entries but is not the same question.

Notability in practiceEdit

The actual application of the relevant standard in terms of demonstrable outcomes at AfD is extremely variable. AfD discussions of "List of international cricket [five-wicket hauls/centuries] [by/at] [X]" articles that were closed between Sep 1, 2020 and now shows the following distribution:

  • Keep: 2
  • Delete: 62 (including 2 large multi-AfD's)
  • Merge:9
  • Redirect: 7
  • Draft:0
  • No consensus: 0

There are currently fourteen such AfD discussions open, all started by Störm. This may be an attempt to establish an consensus through WP:OUTCOMES that has so far eluded the Wikiproject. When the Multi-AfD's are included, then deletion is the overwhelmingly most common outcome (87%). When only single-article AfD's are considered, this shows that recent practice is appx 41% in favor of merging such articles and 32% to redirecting. The disparity in these results argues in favor of a discussion forming an explicit consensus.

ProposalEdit

A clear standard for this type of list article is apparently lacking. Either the Cricket Wikiproject or a Notability Guideline should include something similar to the following:

"List of" articles for cricket sports accomplishments such as centuries or fifers home runs are only considered notable if there are independent, reliable sources that significantly discuss the accomplishment in question for an individual or a venue as a group or set. Such sources should be more than mere statistical listings and the data should be put in context with referenced explanations, if necessary.

This text is an attempt to create one such clear standard for this type of article that complies with the Core Content Policies, the General Notability Guideline, and other relevant standards. Please state a preference for the proposed standard for "List of five-wicket hauls/centuries" type articles or propose an alternative. While this particular proposal is occasioned by a cricket-specific issue, there may also be reason to think that such a guidance that applies more widely in sports may be advisable. Thank you for your time and attention. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 20:49, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

Modified per below. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 00:10, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

Notability discussionEdit

  • I appreciate the idea here, because these controversial cricket AfDs are becoming a problem, but your proposal is cricket-specific. Most editors don't care about cricket, and if you make a solely cricket-related proposal at a general noticeboard, most of the participants are going to be the same editors that are grinding against each other already. It may be that we can come up with an actual proposal to cover sports statistics better, but it feels like this is just another attempt to litigate the same cricket notability standards that nobody seems to actually agree upon. We already have a notability criterion for standalone lists, and to be honest I think that mostly covers these cricket stat lists in most of the way you're proposing - have reliable sources discussed "Johnny Cricketplayer's five-wicket hauls" as a group or set? If not, probably not a good standalone list. ~ mazca talk 23:24, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
@Mazca:, I brought it to this board specifically because the previous participants appear to have been unwilling or unable to come to some agreement on the issue. I acknowledge your point about broader applicability, though, and mentioned it above. I've made a slight adjustment to make that clearer. Thanks for the feedback. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 00:13, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
@Eggishorn: I think that minor adjustment is a significant improvement, yeah, as I think the emphasis of any attempt to gain general consensus here needs to remain general to avoid being bogged down in per-sport exceptions. I don't think there's a good argument for arbitrary run thresholds, etc, in cricket granting notability beyond that general principle of "being discussed as a group or set by reliable sources". I absolutely agree with the idea of deciding global thresholds for sport statistics - we just need to make sure it's not some specific solution for cricket. ~ mazca talk 02:44, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Considering at a broader level beyond cricket, I think these types of records at the individual player level may be far too much, per WP:NOT#STATS - even if there is good coverage of this from sources. While certainly the five-wicket haul seems like a notable achievement that is documented and thus a list like List of cricketers by number of international five-wicket hauls, documenting down to the specific player/each individual point of achievement seems far too much. I would say the same for an article like List of milestone home runs by Barry Bonds (while obviously List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders is a fair list to keep). --Masem (t) 23:31, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I have been involved of several of the AFDs surrounding cricket. There seems to be a lot of anger amongst those who to delete, and those who want to keep. The main bone with deletists is that list of stats are WP:NOSTATS, that these lists are not not encyclopedic and Wikipedia should not have statistics that can be found elsewhere, or that these lists are not encyclopedic as there is not enough prose and to much stat. The keeps are saying this is a vendetta after a failed RFC change to WP:NCRIC. My own personal view has been to merge these into the main article, and I have voted as such on 9 that I have seen, which all ended in the 9 merge, and I have posted to others that have been raised that this was the case. The lists are not exhaustive lists, they are for international 5 wicket hauls or centuries only, which are important milestones in cricketers careers and are revered by fans alike. Just look at the coverage surrounding Joe Root in Sri Lanka and India. This is why delete is wrong. My rational is that who is going to search for a List of International Five Wicket Hauls? I wouldn't, I would just go to the Wikipedia page for that player. My other rational is that it's not a ball by ball record for their whole career, just what is regarded as being the highest accolade in cricket. That's my viewpoint on the subject.

My beef is the wording "Notability guidelines also apply to the creation of stand-alone lists and tables. Notability of lists (whether titled as "List of Xs" or "Xs") is based on the group. One accepted reason why a list topic is considered notable is if it has been discussed as a group". The group is the issue. We have Editors who believe they are the only people who have the right to decide what is notable for Wikipedia, they forget the second part "or set by independent reliable sources, per the above guidelines; notable list topics are appropriate for a stand-alone list." They also believe that they should set out what should go on a list. So for example, a nation wide company is not allowed in a list or national retailers because they don't have a page on Wikipedia. Sorry for the rant.

Anyway, the problem I see is that if we have a separate subject specific list for cricket, where will this lead us? It will go mad and every editor with bones to pick will be requesting there own list requirements for each subject Area! Keep it as it is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidstewartharvey (talkcontribs) 00:10, February 6, 2021 (UTC)
@Davidstewartharvey:, I think I have miscommunicated and I need to clarify some things in response.
  1. As I said, I stumbled across this because I troll through AfD's that are not closed occasionally and I haven't been involved previously. I think that it is because of the animosity that you mention that this needs to be handled outside the Wikiproject.
  2. Although this is proposed because of what I found through the cricket AfD's it is not about cricket articles. It is about list articles for stats in any sports. That's why I titled the section "Notability and stand-alone lists of sports accomplishments" and not ..."cricket accomplishments"
  3. Thanks again to Mazca for prompting a clarification to the actual proposal to make the above point clearer.
  4. The wording you object to is not my wording. It is a direct quote from the long-standing notability standard that should already have been followed in all AfD discussions of these list articles. The fact that it has not been followed in such discussions is the reason I am trying to propose a clarification.
I hope that clarifies some things. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 16:00, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

POVFORK? Deletion of these types of lists can happen in sports (Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of 40-plus point games by Michael Jordan). The main issue, generically and not sports-specifc, is a grouping that seems to meet WP:LISTN, as it's currently written, when most of the items themselves are not notable. In sports, it's often a list for a player of all games where they met a single-game threshold. However, the games themselves are generally not notable. This is different than when we have a list of players that met a milestone, where most of the entires are players who are notable. IMO, these types of lists of non-notable entries are WP:POVFORKs. It's not notable enough to warrant the bloat in the bio, so a standalone of the stats listing is created instead. Lists of non-notable entries is not unique to sports. There's plenty of lists like List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States, January 2020, a grouping of individually non-notable entries.—Bagumba (talk) 16:22, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

  • Something else to consider... a sports statistics list may not be notable enough for a stand alone article, but may well be appropriate to include as part of a related article. For example, a list of the top cricket players by number of centuries might well be appropriate in the article on Century (cricket). And it might be appropriate for the Michael Jordan article to include a list of his highest scoring games. Blueboar (talk) 17:05, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
    For NBA bios, an FA would typically mention the top games in prose with proper context, and not repeat them with an embedded stats list.—Bagumba (talk) 01:55, 7 February 2021 (UTC)
So, this seems a part of the standard "Expand->split->merge" cycle that we get all the time:
  • An article grows to where it is too big, so it needs to be split up by topic. This is standard practice.
  • The split off article gets someone who complains that it should never have been split in the first place, and it gets deleted.
  • The information has to go somewhere, so it gets put back in the main article.
  • Rinse and repeat
Either the information belongs at Wikipedia, and if so it shouldn't really matter where it goes as long as it doesn't make articles too big or too small, OR it fails WP:V or WP:UNDUE and as such shouldn't be at Wikipedia at all. Without saying whether or not the information does belong, if it actually does, and it's too much to put in the parent article, I see no problem with a split-off list article. If it doesn't belong at Wikipedia at all, the point is moot. --Jayron32 18:51, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Exactly. I typically think AFD is a poor place to resolve these because that forum is biased towards binary keep/delete results, and encourages judging articles in isolation when obviously these are part of a larger whole, notwithstanding the formatting into a separate page. Resolving whether a split should be maintained requires understanding of all of the interrelated content and pages, and depends on some familiarity with the subject matter to determine what is relevant and what level of detail is valuable to a reader on different subtopics. And there's also WP:ATD. postdlf (talk) 19:29, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
@Postdlf:, unfortunately, it appears that AfD is exactly where this issue is being "resolved" because the relevant Wikiproject reached a stalemate. Do you agree that the proposal should be made an explanatory supplement or something similar? Thanks. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 15:45, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
No, it seems like a subject-matter specific legislation of LISTN, which is already far too often misread as necessary rather than merely sufficient. If there's a "stalemate" then apparently there's no consensus in that Wikiproject against such lists. I also don't see why it's worth wasting anyone's time trying to get rid of them. postdlf (talk) 21:17, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
For Jordan, it would be monotonous to enumerate every one of his 40-point games in his bio. Per WP:ONUS: Consensus may determine that certain information does not improve an article, and that it should be omitted ... The AfD there said not to have a standlone list either.—Bagumba (talk) 15:59, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

The role of ArbCom relative to sourcing content in articlesEdit

In September 2019, the Arbitration Committee in good faith made the following decision:

5) The sourcing expectations applied to the article Collaboration in German-occupied Poland are expanded and adapted to cover all articles on the topic of Polish history during World War II (1933-45), including the Holocaust in Poland. Only high quality sources may be used, specifically peer-reviewed scholarly journals, academically focused books by reputable publishers, and/or articles published by reputable institutions. English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones when available and of equal quality and relevance. Editors repeatedly failing to meet this standard may be topic-banned as an arbitration enforcement action.

While ArbCom's intentions are honorable regarding that particular topic, and it was clearly an effort to stop disruption in that topic area, I'm of the mind that the remedy is an overreach of ArbCom's scope, and is noncompliant with policy for the arbitration process, specifically that the Committee does not rule on content. With that in mind, see WP:CONTEXTMATTERS which states: The reliability of a source depends on context. Also keep in mind that AE/DS authorizes individual admins to take unilateral action at their sole discretion against an editor, and as some active editors who edit in controversial topic areas will attest, the complexity of DS can quickly turn into a nightmare. An AE/DS action by an admin cannot be overturned by another admin. That opens the door to WP:POV creep because a single admin is making the determination as to whether or not the context of cited sources are reliable for inclusion of content in an article, and no matter how we spin it, that is unequivocally a content issue, not a behavioral issue on behalf of the editor; therefore, the ArbCom ruling is noncompliant per the following:

The arbitration process is not a vehicle for creating new policy by fiat. The Committee's decisions may interpret existing policy and guidelines, recognise and call attention to standards of user conduct, or create procedures through which policy and guidelines may be enforced. The Committee does not rule on content, but may propose means by which community resolution of a content dispute can be facilitated.

This decision directly effects content on so many levels that the remedy creates an even bigger problem then it resolves as it fails to take into account the critically important aspects of sourcing that unequivocally makes it a content issue, not a conduct issue. It also doesn't factor-in the associated problems resulting from political biases in RS, or the fact that a single admin who may be biased, unknowingly or otherwise, is making the decision as to what content can be included based on their sole discretion/interpretation of the cited source(s). Any editor who might be citing sources in proper context that disagree with a particular POV, may inadvertently become the target of a indef t-ban or block under this AE remedy. WP's ideological bias is no secret so in an effort to preserve WP's reputation as a neutral encyclopedia, we probably should at least try to keep ArbCom within its scope. As to my overall position and concerns, see this BLP comment and the quote directly below it.

In the survey below, either Agree that the above mentioned decision is out of ArbCom's scope and noncompliant with policy for the reasons stated above, or Disagree. Atsme 💬 📧 16:07, 9 February 2021 (UTC)

Survey (Arbcom and sourcing)Edit

  • There is no clear distinction between creating policy and interpreting policy. Sometimes it help to take uncodified and unwritten expectations and put them into formal writing, But for many of the perennial issues at WP, the unwritten guidelines are too flexible to be effectively reduced to simple sentences. So when we do, it still leaves the same problems, except that we now call them interpretations. The most obvious analogy to me is the American Constitution and especially its Bill of Rights, and how key phrases in it have never been changed, but have been reinterpreted repeatedly to fit the prevailing ideology. DGG ( talk ) 20:15, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Apologies, DGG but is your comment to agree or disagree? Atsme 💬 📧 12:01, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
as I try to explain a little later, agree or disagree doess not do justice to the actual complexities. DGG ( talk ) 06:11, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Not a productive use of anyone's time See below for explanation. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 20:17, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Seems fine to me. There was a behavior that needed addressing, and the quoted ArbCom decision addresses that behavior and does not address content; they are not making any statements about what the articles should or should not say, merely addressing the problem of people misusing source material and devising a reasonable method of stopping that problem. --Jayron32 18:44, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm opposed to the camel's nose under the tent expansion of ArbCom remit into editorial issues until such time as the community assesses whether we have to drop our opposition to a centralized editorial board, and if so, think through whether a centralized editorial board ought to be a new group comprised of editorial experts or dumped into ArbCom's lap. (I elaborated on this in a post in the discussion section.)--S Philbrick(Talk) 19:31, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm with Jayron32 on this: this isn't a content decision. The policy on disruptive editing includes citing unencyclopedic sources as a form of disruptive editing, and warns that this may be enforced with blocks. ArbCom isn't dictating what an article can or can't say; they're delegating their banning authority to help better enforce the community's policies about content. Vahurzpu (talk) 05:12, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
  • While I don't think this specific restriction has worked as well as intended, it was within arbcom's remit to make it. Thryduulf (talk) 12:23, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Discussion (Arbcom and sourcing)Edit

See, I always thought that a lot of the Ideological bias on Wikipedia and complaints about it is actually the base rate fallacy - because of our sourcing requirements we are automatically biased in favour of topics with reliable sources as opposed to, say, hearsay and libel. And that's a desirable thing, really. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 16:20, 9 February 2021 (UTC)

Jo-Jo, it would definitely be desirable if that were truly the case, but it isn't. Even Jimbo acknowledged that we have a problem. The sources at our disposal today are not quite like the neutral sources of yesteryear, as Ted Koppell explained in numerous interviews. It's clearly a POV issue but that aside, we don't have any type of qualifiers in place for admins who focus on AE and who will be judging the quality of sources. We already know that qualifiers will never happen because of anonymity, although something along the line of MEDRS would be nice, but again, topics involving POV politics are not easy to qualify. Atsme 💬 📧 16:36, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
"Even Jimbo acknowledged" doesn't mean that Jimbo is correct. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:25, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • The "ArbCom does not rule on content" meme is one that should be definitively retired as having outlived its purpose. To the extent that there ever was a clear line between content and behavior, an iffy division at its very best, that line has been thoroughly obliterated in the last 5-7 years. If an editor advocated for or uses a poor source to slant an article, is that a behavior issue within ArbCom's purview or a content issue outside the realm of cases ArbCom is authorized to handle? The plain truth is: it is both. This case offers an excellent demonstration of that evolution, in fact. At a time when Holocaust minimization and denialism has reached epidemic proportions that include governmentally-organized revisionism, it is ludicrous to contemplate any ruling on such a case that did not address sourcing concerns. ArbCom's ruling here does not require a 16-months-delayed attempted review. This thread appears to do little more than express, well, I'm not quite sure what it is supposed to express: Frustration? Disappointment? Disapproval? It is unclear what practical result this would accomplish. Does the OP wish to overturn ArbCom's decision? Get ArbCom to modify their decision? Wag their finger at ArbCom? If it is the former two possibilities then this is the wrong place for this thread and that goal needs to be much more clearly stated. If it is the latter possibility then there is no point to this. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 20:17, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
    Eggishorn, I see it differently. New editors are often surprised to learn that there is no central editorial board. This is deliberate. In fact, I think it's fair to say that in the early days of Wikipedia we eschewed having either a central editorial board or a central "behavioral" board. The hope and expectation was that all such issues could be addressed without the need for centralized authority. I think Jimbo reluctantly came to the conclusion that behavioral issues needed a centralized board and that's why he created Arbcom (while taking care to make sure the creation of it did not mean it reported to him, he started the ball rolling and let the community decide how to organize the group). While the community reluctantly accepted the need for a behavioral board, it still strongly opposed a centralized editorial board which is why ArbCom is supposed to be limited to behavioral issues not content issues.
    However, while some editors are making and can make strong arguments for the need for a centralized editorial board, it isn't at all obvious to me that we should simply broaden the remit of ArbCom. I think the community should revisit the decision to have no centralized editorial committee, but if the conclusion is that we should have an editorial committee, it is far from obvious that we should simply expand the role of ArbCom, if no other reasons than that the skill set to assess editorial issues and the skill set to assess behavioral issues are not identical. Someone will argue that it's overly bureaucratic to create yet another group, but if we decide to have centralized editorial control we've crossed that bridge and we ought to work out the details of whether the centralized editorial committee obviously ought to be ArbCom, or group of people selected for the editorial expertise. S Philbrick(Talk) 19:28, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
@Sphilbrick:, actually, I don't think we're saying things that are really all that different. I'm aware of the history of ArbCom's creation and I've always felt that the content/behavior dichotomy is a false one. The earliest ArbCom case i was able to find from the time period soon after Jimbo passed some of his authority to it was a clear case of interpersonal conflict and a whole heapin' helpin' of behavior issues but they all stemmed from content issues. From the very beginning the two areas have blended together in varying proportions depending on the particulars of each ArbCom case. I'm not arguing for an increase of ArbCom's remit; I'm saying that this discussion was premised on a clear discrimination between two realms that exist along a spectrum and the limitation that ArbCom supposedly stepped over never really existed. I hope that helps clarify. Eggishorn (talk) (contrib) 19:47, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
  • The simplest change in the general scope of arb com, which is closer to reality, is to say that arb com does not rule directly on content. That's what actually happens, and we might as well say so. What I think the op might realistically hope for is that the decision say High quality sources are strongly preferred, particularly peer-reviewed scholarly journals, academically focused books by reputable publishers, and/or articles published by reputable institutions I do not think it unrealistic for this to be suggested as an amendment. Any statement here about sourcing using absolute words like "only" is incompatible with the variety of the real world. DGG ( talk ) 00:06, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
    @DGG: that just reiterates WP:BESTSOURCES and is not a remedy (more like a principle). "Should", "strongly preferred" and similar wordings which are not "must", do not help the problem. The issue is people who are so compelled by their POV they bludgeon people and disrupt talk pages by pushing crappy sourcing. Your amendment does not fix that issue, but the current ArbCom decision does. As such, I'm in favour of sourcing restrictions, having seen the damage and sheer waste of productive editor time SPAs and POV pushers cause on some controversial articles. I agree that with Eggishorn and yourself that the line between conduct and content is blurry, but I think violations of our existing polices, or the intentions behind them, is a behavioural issue. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 20:49, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
one can equally disrupt talk pages -- and articles -- by contrived or biased objections to what is adequate sourcing. I think the history of AP this past year makes it evident that disputing sourcing has become the primary way of disputing content, and that this can be done in a helpful or in a unhelpful way. In another light, everything is a behavioral issue in a sense, because the act of making an edit is human behavior, so if one tries hard enough, one can get anything under that umbrella. Whether something is in fact a violation of our existing content guidelines is not necessarily a question for arb com. It can be a factual question of the verifiability of information. And, come to think of it, one can use aggressive and even NPA behavior to try to make what are in fact constructive edits. And this very situation is what causes dilemmas for arb com; my service there has shown be the great difficulty of deciding how to handle such issues, and has taught me that not everything I had thought obvious and clear about our practices really was all that simple. DGG ( talk ) 06:09, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I was the only arb who voted against that remedy, precisely because I thought it went too far towards ruling on content. And I still think that sourcing restrictions imposed by ArbCom, AE, ANI, or anything except a content guideline with broad consensus (e.g. WP:MEDRS) are a bad idea. That said, I don't agree that it was in breach of WP:ARBPOL. The committee has the latitude to propose means by which community resolution of a content dispute can be facilitated and ultimately, the interpretation of ARBPOL and whether a specific remedy is within its scope is up to ArbCom itself. That is an important principle without which the committee cannot fulfil its core purpose as a final binding decision-maker. No discussion here can tell ArbCom how to interpret ARBPOL or retrospectively overturn a remedy. If we want to clarify that sourcing restrictions are not within its scope going forward, there needs to be a formal amendment to ARBPOL. – Joe (talk) 13:48, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Anyone who has worked on content & came into conflict over reliable sources could have predicted that the ArbCom would find its way into content disputes. The short version of why is this: on Wikipedia almost any relevant source can be criticized for not be reliable, while almost any relevant source can be defended as reliable. Unless it is one of those apparently rare cases where everyone involved is willing to work together, this leads to deadlock. This deadlock can be resolved one of two ways: (1) finding an informed third party to make a decision that all parties will agree to; or (2) work the rules so that the other side either gives up or gets sanctioned. Either choice means ArbCom is likely to get involved. By this decision, ArbCom has just cut out a few of the steps for cases like this to be submitted to them. -- llywrch (talk) 00:17, 26 February 2021 (UTC)

Knockout brackets in sports eventsEdit

In tennis, snooker, and other events commonly decided in a knockout format, it is common on wikipedia for people to enter the flag of the country of the winner before the winner is known. For example, here you can see a Czech flag entered in round 4, event though the 3rd round match between Karolina Pliskova and Karolina Muchova hasn't taken place yet (as I write this). I've tried explaining that it's confusing, it looks unprofessional, no reputable sports publication does it, it makes about as much sense as entering "Karolina" in the next round, it takes no account of possible double disqualifications, or both players being sick or withdrawing or otherwise unable to play etc... but still people do it, and revert it whenever I raise these points, sometimes using "other stuff exists" type arguments. (It's often IP's who do this). Usually the issue is resolved within a few days when the match actually takes place, meantime the article looks like crap.

Maybe the MOS needs a section on how to report knockout results from sports events? Maybe I'm like a grammar pedant who reacts with horror to "different than", but those anticipatory flags irk me. MaxBrowne2 (talk) 09:15, 12 February 2021 (UTC)

I agree that that example is not good. To be honest, it looks almost like a loading error, where the name has not populated for some reason. If this is indeed not just a one-off, I'd support deprecating that kind of thing. Matt Deres (talk) 20:38, 12 February 2021 (UTC)
Look at that article's history and you can see what happens if you raise the issue, they just revert without even putting up an argument or even an edit summary. No BRD, nothing. I'm tempted to add "Karolina" to the player's name for round 4 but that would be just a little too WP:POINTy. MaxBrowne2 (talk) 00:13, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't know whether it's written down but adding known flags is the accepted practice for tennis. It must be exceptionally rare that nobody advances from a scheduled match. I followed tennis for many years and don't recall it ever happening. There were a few tournaments where the final was never played due to rain delays but that is irrelevant here. I support adding the flag but definitely not a partial name, and I have never seen it done. Most publications don't use flags or write nationalities in draws so the issue is not relevant for them. PrimeHunter (talk) 00:59, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
Sounds like Appeal to tradition to me, a fancier name for "other stuff exists". MaxBrowne2 (talk) 01:04, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
If the "other stuff" is not selected examples but a well-established practice then it's how Wikipedia works, and often the basis for making it an official guideline. PrimeHunter (talk) 01:10, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
Obviously it would be ridiculous to enter "Karolina" before the result is known. That's the point. By the way Karolina won. I think she's from the Czech Republic. MaxBrowne2 (talk) 02:40, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't think it needs a MOS section specific to this issue. WP:CRYSTAL is sufficient reason to exclude the flag. - Ryk72 talk 02:43, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree with the OP that we shouldn't be pre-populating flags in this type of situation. If people generally do this, they should stop. power~enwiki (π, ν) 02:49, 13 February 2021 (UTC)

The television coverage tends to pre-populate the flags when showing the draws as well. Regardless, it's not a big issue. It's never more than a few days between matches. Sportsfan77777 (talk) 02:57, 13 February 2021 (UTC)

  • I also agree flags shouldn't be pre-populated, we don't need to add it to MOS because it's already specified in CRYSTAL, and if it's been done in the past it should stop. Levivich harass/hound 04:37, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
    WP:CRYSTAL includes: "Individual scheduled or expected future events should be included only if the event is notable and almost certain to take place". It is almost certain that if two players are set to meet then one of them will advance. We don't need a published reliable source to make that "prediction". It's not certain the advancing player actually plays the next match but if they withdraw with injury before that match then their name and flag will remain in the draw for the match. PrimeHunter (talk) 09:32, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
    CRYSTAL then goes on to say "Avoid predicted sports team line-ups, which are inherently unverifiable and speculative." Levivich harass/hound 17:40, 14 February 2021 (UTC)
    A predicted sports team line-up is not a prediction about which teams will play but about which players will be selected for a match by a team. Such speculation is hardly comparable to predicting that one of the two players will advance from a tennis match and not change nationality before the next round. PrimeHunter (talk) 22:26, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
I'd argue this also has some crossover with WP:LIVESCORES which is also against consensus, but a difficult thing to actually get the community to fulfil. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 17:46, 14 February 2021 (UTC)

I personally think that results should be presented for a complete match, and not a partial result. Filling in the country before the match is done is a partial result. Additionally, it doesn't provide any info that readers can't infer for themselves. isaacl (talk) 23:10, 17 February 2021 (UTC)

  • I think this is much ado about nothing. Would I populate the flag early.... no. Would I put in the scores before that match is complete...no. But the news does both and it's really really difficult to police that sort of thing when an hour later it will fix itself. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:05, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
    An hour later is not really a big deal (although it still shouldn't be done). Sometimes though matches can be days or even weeks later - that is a big deal and should be reverted if done. We are an encyclopaedia not a newspaper, television broadcaster or other sports reporter. Thryduulf (talk) 21:33, 19 February 2021 (UTC)

Disambiguation cross-referencesEdit

In the disambiguation page Pitt-Rivers, there is a list of people who happen to be from one family. Some names recur (EG George). I recently edited it to change "* Michael his son" into "Michael George's son". Is there a preferred way of identifying WHICH George in such a page? -- SGBailey (talk) 09:35, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

Maybe append the (birth-death) dates to the name? — GhostInTheMachine talk to me 12:13, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
I've done that at Pitt-Rivers. What do you think? -- SGBailey (talk) 12:49, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
That helps with the confusion, but I would not use the sub tags — GhostInTheMachine talk to me 22:59, 17 February 2021 (UTC)

Clarification to Template:POVEdit

At this article talk I and Julian Brandon came to conflict over wording of Template:POV#When_to_remove. I think it would be appropriate to change this wording from

This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. You may remove this template whenever any one of the following is true:

  • There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved.
  • It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given.
  • In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant.

To this:

This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. You may remove this template whenever any one of the following is true:

  • There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved.
  • It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and either none or only an unsatisfactory explanation has been given.
  • In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant.

The template should not be removed if there is an active ongoing discussion in which "the issues are resolved" consensus has not been reached.

Please confirm and if you think it is an OK change then please implement it in the template page. --Gryllida (talk) 22:40, 17 February 2021 (UTC)

What problem would be solved by this change? Arguing with an SPA about an article on the president of an authoritarian regime is never going to be easy and I do not see how an adjustment to the description of the POV tag would help. Re the proposal, the original looks good to me—it is simple and clear. I don't know how to handle an SPA with unlimited time but forcing a tag on the article is not the solution. Johnuniq (talk) 23:00, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
At what stage would it be appropriate to force a tag onto the article? It currently is of rather poor quality. Gryllida (talk) 23:14, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't think it is ever appropriate to force a tag into an article. Bear in mind that while it might be desirable to have rule that a good editor can force a tag when arguing with an SPA, such rules won't fly and there cannot be a situation where an SPA can force a tag by persistence. Asking for help at noticeboards is all we can do. Johnuniq (talk) 23:20, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Okay, good to know. Thanks for the response. Gryllida (talk) 23:29, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Bad idea. Would just be a means of permanently tagging an article that a POV pusher doesn't like. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 23:22, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Hi Hawkeye7. Thank you for your reply. Good correction to my initial interpretation. I didn't do this before and just picked it up in the helpme queue, would rather get to the finish of it somehow. With the tag off to be fair it might require a bit more editing. Again, appreciate the tip. Gryllida (talk) 23:46, 17 February 2021 (UTC)
Isn't a lack of an explanation also an unsatisfactory explanation? --Izno (talk) 01:24, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
Hi Izno. In this case, the other contributor argued that satisfactory explanation was given, but they also instantly resolved all issues listed in this explanation. This is adorable and brilliant. Their fix, however, lacked some depth; some issues remained; and I can't afford to reply to them instantly to detail. That leaves the article in a bad state, without a tag, for however long it takes someone to either re-articulate or fix the remaining issues. For a BLP I find this a bit disturbing and my first thought, initially, was that the tag got to stay. (For this particular incident, I've made a draft version in my sandbox, which has some of these issues fixed at the cost of breaking the article flow, and is not publishable; then I invited the other contributor to finish it up; so far, no response.) Gryllida (talk) 02:56, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
Remove the second condition altogether.
  • if no clear reason exists, people are going to hash it out on the talk page. The tag should remain up until people figure out it was a drive-by tag. Then, the first condition becomes true (consensus exists that the article meets NPOV), and someone should remove the tag.
  • if neither a clear reason nor a discussion exists (very few interested parties), the last condition is true, and someone should remove the tag.
If the tag exists to notify readers of an active discussion about an article's neutrality, the first and last bullet points suffice, and the middle unneeded. Rotideypoc41352 (talk · contribs) 05:55, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

WP:VANISH, WP:CLEANSTART, and privacy concernsEdit

I am in a public-facing field where harassment and doxing is common, and have witnessed it happening to many of my colleagues in the past several years. As such, I've tried to do basic identity hygiene, closing old accounts, attempting to get taken off people search, and otherwise removing any information that can be linked to my identity. (I realize this sounds paranoid, and I'm sorry I can't be more specific.)

Unfortunately Wikipedia presents a problem in this regard. I made my original account in late high school/early college, when I was not in such a public-facing field. I know for a fact that the username, though not my name, is traceable to my real-world identity and, with some work, vice versa, and given that the account has somewhere in the tens of thousands of edits, I'm sure there are plenty of breadcrumbs there to other past usernames, communities, and identifiable information in the wrong hands. In an ideal world for me, the account would be nuked from orbit or at least renamed to something unique to Wikipedia.

Nevertheless, if I am reading them right, WP:VANISH and WP:CLEANSTART seem to be mutually exclusive. I don't recall being involved in any vandalism, blocks, major conflicts, or anything that would contribute to a negative reputation, and to my knowledge was in good standing. (The "I don't recall" and "to my knowledge" isn't me trying to evade anything, just that I don't remember everything that happened ~15 years ago as a high school junior.) I have no intention of using the old account, as that'd defeat the entire purpose, and as my username implies I am mostly interested in behind-the-scenes improvement, rather than any kind of subject matter-specific editing. (Which is also less traceable to my identity.) But nevertheless the options seem to be leave Wikipedia altogether, or live with the fact that my old info is just going to sit there indefinitely like a ticking time bomb.

So, I was wondering if the mutually-exclusive part of the policy could be revisited, at least for people whose clean start is for privacy, not reputational issues. It seems relevant that Wikipedia is over 15 years old at this point, the policy was created towards the beginning, and the average person's life circumstances change a lot more in 15 years than in 5 or so. It also seems relevant that online harassment is quite a different beast in 2021 than it was in 2007 and has grown to an extent that few people predicted at the time. Gnomingstuff (talk) 10:37, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Clean start does appear to apply for privacy concerns. You do not have to have a problematic record to use it. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 12:03, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
Clean start can be used for any reason other than evading scrutiny. The reasons listed in the lead section are just examples of the most common situations not a prescriptive list. Thryduulf (talk) 12:20, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
I did get that part (considering, well, the fact that I'm doing it and all); this is more in reference to the WP:VANISH note "Vanishing is not a way to start over with a fresh account. When you request a courtesy vanishing, it is understood that you will not be returning. If you want to start over, please follow the directions at Clean start instead of (not in addition to) this page. If you make a request to vanish, and then start over with a new account, and are then discovered, the vanishing procedure may be reversed, and your old and new accounts may be linked." Gnomingstuff (talk) 16:37, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
A 2¢ that I do think there should be an alternative to the two current options, for cases like this or for people who are undergoing active online harassment. —Wingedserif (talk) 23:24, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
Gnomingstuff What you're getting at has been discussed extensively, and I suggest you read some of the early discussions, especially c2:WikiMindWipeDiscussion, meatball:RightToVanish, and meatball:RightToLeave which are external discussions that influenced our early drafts of VANISH and CLEANSTART. Allowing something like vanishing for editors who want to disavow or hide their previous contributions can actually be counterproductive. For example, the problem with allowing c2:WikiMindWipes is that they have a Streisand effect. An account and its edits used many years ago isn't going to be noticed or easy to find. What will make it easy to find is flooding the recent logs with reverts, renames, and redactions. I say this having been in a similar situation (see questions 8 and 9 in my RFA) and with sympathy. In an ideal world for me, the account would be nuked from orbit or at least renamed to something unique to Wikipedia. Accounts in good standing can request a rename to just about anything they want, so if you simply wish to have the old name changed you can make a request by following the steps at WP:RENAME; Vanishing just uses a particular pattern to indicate that the user has decided to leave us forever and never return. In general though, even vanishing won't resolve the issue of breadcrumbs. Your talk page signatures will still be there. The rename log will still be there. The content of the edits will still be there. Modifying them will just bring hundreds of pages to the top of recent changes and admin action logs all singling out your information. It seems counterintuitive, but abandoning an old account is one of the best ways to ensure it doesn't get found. We have over a billion edits to millions of pages; finding things is hard, even when you know what you're looking for. Wug·a·po·des 23:04, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Apologies, I'd checked the talk pages for both projects and didn't notice anything recent. Some clarifications: When I say tens of thousands of edits, it's with the caveat that the majority of them were cleanup, wikifying, that sort of thing. I doubt anyone here would even remember me at this point; I wasn't super memorable. I'm also not that concerned about somebody finding me from Wikipedia (which, as you mention, is highly unlikely, though probably possible if someone knows enough about me) but the other way around, finding my profile here from my username (which would be easy). Of course it'd take some effort to dig through those tens of thousands of edits, but the kinds of people who harass people online unfortunately overlap with the kind of people who'd do that (or just grep it). Gnomingstuff (talk) 01:11, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
@SlimVirgin: you might also be interested in this conversation. You brought the VANISH draft over from meta in 2007, and I remember you participating in a related discussion at AN a few months ago. No pressure though if you don't have much to say. Wug·a·po·des 23:06, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I’m likely going to advertise this on the functionaries list since we literally just had a discussion about this topic. My general sense is that it’s better just to abandon an account because if you’re an established user vanishing just brings more attention to it. That’s what I did when I abandoned my account I created as a teenager to create this one. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:09, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • The gist of the recent functionary discussions Tony mentioned is that vanishing is inconsistently performed and misunderstood by many users. Personally, I would like to see it deprecated entirely. One common misunderstanding is that if you have disclosed personal information with your account, vanishing will make it private again. It won't. It obscures your former username to a limited extent, but anyone familiar with Wikipedia can find it and link it to all your previous contributions in less than 10 seconds.
We're probably overdue a conversation about how we can help people keep personal information private in this day and age, but we have to remember that Wikipedia is not a social media site, it's a publisher of free content. Retiring a Wikipedia account isn't like asking Facebook to delete your profile and all the information it has about you. It's more like writing a novel, then asking the publisher to remove your name from the cover after it's in shops. They're going to say "sorry no can do, but next time you can use a pen name". That's the space Wikipedia has to work in too. We can probably do better at warning people about the consequences of disclosing personal information under a CC BY-SA License, but we can't unring the bell if they do. – Joe (talk) 08:57, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
"but we can't unring the bell if they do." Wikipedia (ENWP) and by extension the WMF can unring that bell if they want to. It chooses not to. Material released under a CC BY-SA license may be kept against the wishes of the person who posted it but there is no legal obligation that requires it to be (except those rare cases related to attribution). ENWP cites the CC license as a reason for not deleting personal information, but its a matter of policy and process. And policy and process can be changed. Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:30, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
No, it can't. Even if it were practical to expunge say, a talk page signature with someone's real name from the history of thousands of pages (it's not), it's impossible for enwp or the WMF to do anything about the hundreds of mirrors, archives, database dumps etc. that have replicated that signature across the web. Copyleft licenses by definition relinquish control over information the moment it is released. – Joe (talk) 09:54, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
Again yes it can. It chooses not to (in the first case). Its technically trivial for a qualified database engineer to replace that sort of information. The main problem the WMF has is that its technical staff couldnt code their way out of a paper bag. And in the second, that argument is essentially 'other people will keep it, so we might as well too'. Again that is process issue, not a legal requirement. That a license relinquishes control over material does not then dictacte how that material *must* be used. Or even kept. "It would be difficult and we couldnt make other people do it" is not a valid rebuttal to the suggestion that we dont do it. People are generally not going to care if crappy little mirror with maybe 1000 views a month has the potential that their personal info might be seen, when ENWP with its millions of views will guarantee it will be. Only in death does duty end (talk) 10:02, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
That's a lot of assumptions. Let's take a common story: I'm worried that someone, let's call them my nemesis, could use my Wikipedia contributions, associated with my real name, against me. I vanish this account and persuade someone at the WMF to run a query to remove my name from millions of page versions and log entries replicated across god knows how many database instances (invalidating the attribution chain and edit history of tens of thousands of pages on the way). After that, my nemesis googles "Joe Roe + Wikipedia" and finds, in the first page of results, a mirror like this. Ah, they think, I did have a Wikipedia account. They go to https://en.wikidark.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Joe_Roe and find a red link, but no problem, put https://web.archive.org/ in front of that address and you get a permanent archive of all my contributions. So all that work to bend the third pillar and make me disappear was undone in about thirty seconds.
Or another common story. I don't have a specific nemesis, but I regret associating my contributions with my real-life identity and do the same vanishing and transparency-breaking database procedure. Someone sees a talk page comment signed User:Renamed user XYZ and gets curious about who it is. In the first few pages of XYZ's contributions, they see that they're an archaeologist interested in the Near East and statistical computing, who lives in Denmark. Those four diffs alone narrow it down to maybe 2-3 people in the world and again a quick google search will establish it's probably me. Is it "trivial" for a database engineer to identify those sorts of incidentally-disclosed clues to someone's identity? Bearing in mind that two of those diffs are to articles, not talk pages? And one isn't mine, it's another user (appropriately) alluding to personal information I've disclosed elsewhere?
I'm not denying that we can do things (vanishing, oversight) to make it slightly harder to find personal information on Wikipedia, but presenting these kludges as solutions to privacy concerns is dishonest and potentially dangerously misleading. What we need to do is make it crystal clear to people, from the beginning, that everything they do on Wikipedia is in the public sphere. And that in an emergency, they need to take steps to protect themselves beyond what we or the WMF is capable of. – Joe (talk) 11:01, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
What is dishonest is your continued insistance that it cant be done while relying on 'well it would be kept elsewhere so we might as well not'. It exaggerates the edge cases. Firstly absolutely no talk or user page contribution on ENWP is necessary to be kept at all. And while yes archive sites *may* archive some material, this is not universal. You also appear to have a basic misunderstanding of Attribution. Attribution is required on ENWP for material kept on ENWP. It is not necessary, or in fact required in any form, for ENWP to keep an attribution record chains simply for the purpose of third parties who may use material copied from ENWP, when that material has been removed/deleted from ENWP. The onus on the third party to attribute correctly. If it breaks for them, that is not our problem. The point of removing personal information is not to make it completely impossible to identify someone, it is to make it significantly more difficult to do so and to eliminate the casual dissemination of personal info. The attitude of 'well since a significantly dedicated person with lots of time on their hands could jump through 15 hoops to get it means its pointless' is both lazy thinking, irresponsible, and violates any number of data protection principles in various parts of the world. What we need to do is change the attitude that other peoples personal information is fair game forever just because it was decided in the past that was what ENWP should do. Only in death does duty end (talk) 12:30, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
I think the focus on attribution misses the point. As brought up in c2:WikiMindWipeDiscussion, while anyone is free to remove content, anyone is free to add content as well. If someone goes around removing their signatures, they will quickly get reverted by the community. We have two options then: convince everyone to not do that or convince admins to start blocking people who revert modifications to talk page archives. Both of those are uphill battles, to say the least, and if there is any controversy we risk bringing the personal info squarely into the spotlight at AN, completely negating the privacy benefit of a mindwipe. Going beyond that, we cannot guarantee privacy once the information has been posted, and pretending to do so is irresponsible if not unethical. Even if we were to allow revision deletion of edits by vanished users, we risk increasing the potential visibility and harm. There are people and robots which watch our deletions. An easy way to get their attention is to have a nicely organized, compact section of log entries that correlates page redactions with a rename. We could have those log entries redacted too, but redacted log entries are even more conspicuous than revision deletions. Even if we did agree to allow this, such operations take time and are error-prone. If anything is missed, the whole process could have been pointless, and even if we are perfect, the time it takes from start to finish is more than enough time for mirrors to preserve the information beyond our control. Now, at this point, we've succeeded in eradicating the editor's personal info from our servers, sure, but we've also painted a huge target on their back as every deletion log watcher begins to wonder why hundreds of log entries were redacted without explanation. They then go to mirrors and find all the info they need and then go post about it on Wikipediocracy for some bad faith actor to find later. Have we succeeded in helping the editor? Did all our work protect anyone from harm? Is this a situation we should encourage anyone worried about their privacy to put themselves into? No on all counts. Let's go one step further and try to fix the fundamental issue: logs. That's the domain of the MediaWiki project, not EnWiki, and getting devs to change the software to eliminate any kind of logging will likely be even harder. The software is built around transparency, and we would need substantial buy-in from that community to have them change their primary principles. Are these edge cases? Maybe, but vanishing is an edge case in the first place. Security systems which ignore edge cases are not secure, because exploiting edge cases is exactly how you defeat security systems. Wug·a·po·des 22:48, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
This is kind of where my "it's now been 15 years" remark comes into play; that's a very long time both in terms of developments regarding Internet privacy and in terms of life stages. Editing in high school/college is one; another very plausible situation is that someone might take a job requiring extensive background/security checks, or a job with risk of being fired for off-work activities like grade-school teaching, that was not on their radar over a decade ago. "Everything you do is in the public sphere" is all well and good in hindsight. The concern about edits being conspicuous is valid and something I don't have a good answer to. The only thing that immediately comes to mind is a system that automatically anonymizes usernames after X period of inactivity (which, of course, could be undone should the editor decide to come back), but that doesn't solve the log issue above so much as drown it in noise, and I imagine people might have other objections to it. But at the very least, the current policy ("leave it or leave," essentially) has room to be loosened. Gnomingstuff (talk) 02:41, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Re Gnomingstuff's problem, I recommend abandoning the account without any drama (no further edits, no "retired" tag or other farewell message). After a delay, start a new account with no mention of the old account. Or, if your particular situation would be helped by vanishing (renaming) the current account, do that per VANISH. However, the advice above is correct, namely that vanishing is a very flimsy mechanism that is easily undone. Ignore the instructions about connecting your new account to the old. Instead, send an email to Arbcom (see User:Arbitration Committee) briefly explaining the situation and telling them you have created the new account (which you would reveal) without linking it to the old account in order to avoid harassment. Johnuniq (talk) 00:59, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
  • @Gnomingstuff: Just to be clear, "courtesy vanishing" is just a rename to some random nonsense, userspace deletion, and possibly the deletion of irrelevant meta discussions about the user themselves, which most people don't have to begin with anyway. It doesn't do anything beyond that. Your signatures will still be there and they will still link to your renamed account. You can still rename your account to some random user name, delete your userspace, blank your talk page, and then do a clean start. You'd be achieving the exact same thing, the only difference is that your rename would have to be "carefully chosen" rather than random characters caused by slamming your hands on the keyboard. ~Swarm~ {sting} 01:43, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
  • We should have a hygiene-vanish process where an old account gets renamed and a bot searches-and-replaces signatures from the old name to the new name. Some trusted authority who've signed NDAs like arbcom or maybe OS or CU (or T&S) can administer and keep a record for any copyright or other legal-related needs. This won't be 100% deletion because the old name will still be in old revisions and that's unavoidable, but at least it'll make it so searching for the old name won't bring up any results. And that option should be open to any editor in good standing. Levivich harass/hound 08:08, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
    • Umm, no. First, wide-scale editing is disruptive, particularly in archives where "this hasn't been touched" is a good indication of the archive's integrity. More importantly, such changes would draw massive attention with the certain result that dozens of people would notice that User:X was renamed User:Y, and a non-trivial number of those would be sufficiently curious to investigate the background. Finally, if someone ever wonders why they can't find the editor they planned to harass, they can simply look in the bot's contributions for a permalog of all vanished users. Wikipediocracy and other troll sites would quickly set up a system to translate the bot's contributions into a handy table: X was renamed Y on such-and-such date, with a comments section for any gossip they can find. Johnuniq (talk) 09:35, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
      • The bot can delete its own edits. Heck it doesn't even have to be a bot, this can be done "server-side" and not be logged at all. We can think outside the box. We can prioritize privacy over watchlist disruption. Levivich harass/hound 15:03, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
        If it was done without logging then someone would just write a bot or script that compared the public dumps to pick out the changes to signatures. Consider also comments like the one above that begins Re Gnomingstuff's problem. No signature changing process will remove that and many breadcrumbs would be left. While you could go through and change all instances of "Gnomingstuff" to "Vanished user XYZ1234" with very few false positives, you definitely could not do that with usernames like "Swarm" or "Joe", nor for user's whose names get abbreviated - not all instances of SV relate to user:SlimVirgin, my username is sometimes shortened in discussions to "Thryd", "Thry", "Thr" or even just "T" when that is unambiguous, plus there are many different misspellings of it. There is literally no way to put the genie back in the bottle and any attempt you make to do so will just draw attention to whatever it is you are trying to hide. The Streisand effect is real and inescapable. Thryduulf (talk) 16:24, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
        • On the other hand, if somebody malicious were to google "Thryduulf" looking for dirt, it would be much harder to find it if the only references to you were "Thryd". (Or even virtually impossible; googling site:wikidark.org "thryd" -thryduulf turns up nothing identifiable.) This is where I think we're talking past each other. Some people in this discussion seem mostly concerned about people involved in Wikipedia discovering a real-world identity. My concern is people outside Wikipedia identifying a Wikipedia profile, given a username. Gnomingstuff (talk) 06:16, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
          Where we're talking past each other is that your concern isn't clear. Above, you raise the concern about extensive background/security checks, but now you're raising concerns about cursory google searches. These are different problems, but the common problem being ignored is mirrors. If you google "wugapodes" the first page of results returns this mirror of my userpage and this mirror of my talk page which contains my signature and the signatures of many other people. It even contains this Wikipediocracy thread where people discuss my Wikipedia contributions including my previous username. If I delete my userpage, rename myself, mind wipe all my signatures, change the database, and so on and so forth, we cannot take down those pages. The mirrors are legally entitled to continue displaying that content for all time, and I gave them that right when I hit publish. The Wikipediocracy thread isn't even a mirror, yet it contains far more personal information in a localized space than all my Wikipedia contributions. Those people watch our deletion and redaction logs constantly and there are multiple threads on Wikipediocracy discussing deletions and redactions, including links to unredacted archives. We could delete the entire encyclopedia to protect my privacy, and it will have absolutely no effect on any of that. We can build whatever convoluted system for post hoc anonymization we want, and you will still not be protected from the most basic of google searches, let alone an extensive investigation. It is irresponsible to pretend otherwise.
          We can consider how to better protect anonymity going forward, but the reason you have not gained much traction so far is that you are not grasping the uncomfortable reality that a lot of the information you want hidden is on servers we do not control. Unless you have an idea on how to force other people to give up their legal rights to republish our content, you will not be able to scrub your history from the internet. That is sad, and as Joe said above we can do a much better job of making that fact clear to contributors, but we cannot change the past with wishful thinking. I appreciate Levivich's suggestion, and even the WMF is working to better anonymize IP addresses, but it boils down to security theatre. Neither of those efforts would stop a mirror from hosting the usernames or revision content, and so we would be rewriting our own history and creating large amounts of work for volunteers in order to give the illusion of security with no actual security improvement. That is irresponsible, and I will not advocate lying to contributors about our ability to protect anonymity. I am on record advocating for strong rights to vanish, and I care deeply about online privacy. But we cannot improve our privacy practices if we cannot acknowledge the reality that nothing is ever truly gone on the internet especially when you irrevocably allow others to republish it as much as they want. Wug·a·po·des 22:42, 22 February 2021 (UTC)
          This is all true but "truly gone" isn't the relevant standard. Imagine if Twitter said, "We won't allow you to delete your Twitter account because even if you deleted it, it would still be available on mirrors and archives, and the deletion would draw more attention to the account than just abandoning it and starting a new one." I mean, you'd think they'd let the user make that decision! I think there are some aspects being overlooked. First, the plain truth that Wikipedia is a database and it can be changed without creating any kind of public log entry. (Volunteers won't be the ones doing that, it'd have to be a WMF employee or contractor, so it wouldn't take up volunteer time.) And while it's true that even such a change won't eliminate all traces of the removed name, and will be noticeable by anyone who takes the time to thoroughly investigate, and may even be discussed at WO, all of that pales in comparison to having something on Wikipedia.org, which is a top-10 website. "Wugapodes" is a poor example of this, because it's a unique word. Try Googling "John Smith". The first couple results are Wikipedia.org, and then there are many, many pages of results before you see a Wikipedia mirror, much less Wikipediocracy.com. So removing "John Smith" from Wikipedia.org is a HUGE benefit if you're trying to hide "John Smith" from the internet, even if "John Smith" remains on mirrors, and even if they talk about him on some obscure web forum. And it should up to John Smith to decide whether he'd rather have Wikipedia.org be the #1 search result, or have some internet sleuths deduce that "John Smith" was removed from Wikipedia by, e.g., comparing database dumps or log entries, and talk about it on WO. We ought to have some process to wipe, even if the process isn't perfect, and we should let the user decide about Streisanding risks rather than deciding for them. $100 million a year is enough to pay for the development and execution of a privacy protection policy that allows people to remove things from Wikipedia. I think the much more difficult question to answer is what that policy would look like, and what the safeguards would be to prevent misuse. Levivich harass/hound 07:09, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
          Firstly, we can argue about what is and isn't a good example, but my understanding is the concern was about an attacker knowing a username, not a legal name. I would argue that on a scale of "uniqueness" most usernames on EnWiki fall closer to "Wugapodes" than they do "John Smith". Leaving that aside, the method of security demonstrated by your "John Smith" example is the exact method we already use: rename the account and let it get lost in the noise of more recent edits, see meatball:PracticalObscurity. That said, I don't think arguing about examples and counter examples here will actually get us anywhere productive. I want to focus on what you say here: "truly gone" isn't the relevant standard. Then what is the relevant standard? I don't mean that rhetorically, I'm curious what we're trying to prevent because we need to know what we're trying to protect if we want to build an effective protection system.
          My understanding is that we're considering an attack where bad-hat actor Bob knows Alice uses the handle xXxAlicexXx and is trying to use that fact to find out more information about Alice. We have sensitive data which Alice posted here under that handle, and we want to prevent Bob from (1) finding out that Alice edited here and (2) finding the sensitive data Alice published here. For (1) a standard rename is just as effective as "deleting" the account, especially if the rename log entry is redacted. For (2) our oversight policy allows pretty liberal use of the tool for hiding personally identifiable information--and the logs are hidden from all but the most trusted users. Given that, what's left to hide? What other standard are we going for other than "truly gone"? I brought up that standard because that seemed to be what was left, but it wouldn't be the first time I overlooked something.
          Lastly, there are a lot of differences between Wikipedia and Twitter, but ignoring most of them, tweets are atomic. You can delete a tweet without having to disentangle it from any other tweet. With a list of tweets (i.e., a profile), you can delete them all programmatically (by bot or script) without materially altering any other tweet in the database. This is not necessarily true of edits or contributions pages, and anyone who has used the "undo" button on an old edit knows this problem. Consider: Alice adds the text "I like puppies" and Chuck later comes by to change it to "We like puppies" and then Daisy changes that to "We like kittens and puppies". Now Alice wants all her contributions deleted and scrubbed...how? The fundamental content Alice added is still there, and even some of the original words. If we just removed the commonalities we would be left with "We kittens and" so we need something more robust than reverting whatever text Alice added that's still on the page. Will we have a human review and resolve every single conflict? Do we also revert Chuck and Daisy despite their changes being good and helpful to building an encyclopedia? Do we just delete Alice's username but leave the content up causing licensing problems later on? These are hard problems that twitter will never have to face when deleting a profile. Now consider a talk page thread: Alice makes a comment and Ethan replied directly to her. Will Ethan's comment just be a reply to nothing? What if Ethan quoted Alice or mentioned her by name (i.e., pinged her)? Will we modify Ethan's comment, or even delete it outright? What if Ethan doesn't like the decision and adds Alice's comment back under CC By-SA so that his comment retains its context? Will we edit war with Ethan? Block him for trying to make sure his comment is seen in proper context? We're not Twitter, and deleting content is not trivial, especially old content. We can come up with answers to these questions, but other people may have wildly different opinions on what is correct (I imagine this is what you meant by I think the much more difficult question to answer is what that policy would look like so I say this for the sake of others).
          Developing a consensus answer acceptable to the community will be hard, especially when the practical benefit is limited. I agreed with Joe above that we should focus on prevention not because I think it is the ideal solution, but because it is the most effective solution that we can build consensus around. For example, in edit-a-thons I advise new Wikipedians to not use their real name, especially women, because of the potential for harassment and difficulty of retraction should they regret the choice later on. Our essays at Wikipedia:Personal security practices and Wikipedia:Guidance for younger editors do a really good job of describing risks and prevention strategies users can take; making those more visible to logged out and new editors would help prevent contributors from publishing information they may later want to retract which is a more effective harm reduction strategy in the long run. We already link to Wikipedia:On privacy, confidentiality and discretion at Special:CreateAccount, but adding reminders in the edit window or in welcome messages can also help. How volunteers spend their time is up to them, but I think focusing on intermediate steps we can take now is a better return on investment. It might even help people be safer on websites other than our own. Wug·a·po·des 09:29, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
          Then what is the relevant standard? "Off the top page of google results" is one possible standard. "Less visible" is another possible standard. It's hard to argue with "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", and I agree with you that that's the place to focus, but I also think we should do what is being asked in the OP, which is to allow WP:VANISH for users who want to WP:CLEANSTART (as opposed to only for users who do not want to return). Levivich harass/hound 21:31, 23 February 2021 (UTC)

You're welcome to rename your account the traditional way, and then CLEANSTART afterwards. Beyond that, I agree with the sentiment above: anything more is either technically impossible, or is likely to draw more attention to you and your edits. power~enwiki (π, ν) 23:13, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

Even this discussion may already have drawn attention of the kind you wish to prevent. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:46, 23 February 2021 (UTC)

Evaluating WP:NEXISTEdit

There is a discussion over at Wikipedia talk:Notability#WP:NEXIST that might be of interest. Thank you CapnZapp (talk) 15:34, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Concerns about the usage of draftspaceEdit

I'd like to raise some policy concerns regarding the current usage of draftspace, specifically the practice of moving new or relatively new articles to draftspace (presumably as a part of WP:NPP). The WP:DRAFTIFY section of Wikipedia:Drafts policy explicitly says regarding this practice that "It is not intended as a backdoor route to deletion." Moreover, it also further says that any editor has the right to object to an article having been moved to draftspace, and that if such an objection is raised, the article must be moved back: "Other editors (including the author of the page) have a right to object to moving the page. If an editor raises an objection, move the page back to mainspace and if it is not notable list at AfD."

The problem is that, as a practical matter, few users, particularly among the new users, have any idea that this right to challenge a move to draftspace even exists. When a page is nominated for deletion, the page's creator is notified of that fact and is informed, via a template, how to participate in the deletion discussion. The same thing happens with a CSD tagging. However, something completely different occurs when an article gets moved to draftspace. The creator does get a notification message but this message says nothing about the right to contest the move or how to exercise that right. Instead the page usually gets tagged right away with one of the Draft/AfC templates, such as Template:Draft article or Template:AfC submission/draft. The notification message about the move to draft space only says that when the draft is sufficiently improved, it may be submitted for the AfC review. There is never any mention that the AfC process is optional for autoconfirmed users either.

These moves to draftspace are often performed by fairly inexperience users, with limited understanding of deletion and notability policies and with no discussion. In effect such moves do function as deletion from mainspace decisions, but they are subject to almost no oversight. Even in those cases where such moves are performed by experienced users, the current practices are highly problematic. They give a single user, performing the move, too much power that is not subject to meaningful challenge. The current practices for user talk page notifications about moves to draftspace are, IMO, actively misleading.

I feel that we need a stronger policy framework governing this process. Thus, IMO, whenever a page is moved to draftspace as a part of NPP, the notification message (either manual or via a template) to the creator's user talk page must explicitly mention that the creator has the right to contest the move and explain how to exercise that right. I think this requirement needs to be included in WP:Drafts. Nsk92 (talk) 18:27, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

I wholeheartedly agree. This whole "moving to draft space is not a backdoor route to deletion" idea must be one of the biggest lies on Wikipedia. Many articles that are moved to draft space do not then get edited and are speedily deleted after 6 months with no further consideration of whether the subject is suitable for a Wikipedia article. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:40, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree with both of you. I'm sure we had a discussion recently about moving to draftspace leading to deletion, but I can't remember where it was. My vague recollection is that it resulted in broad agreement that things needed to improve but the vocal objections from a few who see throwing babies out with bathwater when defending against spam resulted in nothing happening. Thryduulf (talk) 19:18, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
I've found a couple of discussions - Wikipedia talk:Criteria for speedy deletion/Archive 78#Roundabout G13 deletion of mainspace articles (July 2020) and Wikipedia talk:Criteria for speedy deletion/Archive 77#G13 and articles moved to draftspace (May 2020) but neither was the one I was thinking of! Thryduulf (talk) 19:29, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
Interesting, thanks. I haven't thought about it until now, but in effect the moves to draftspace do function as a kind of a soft form of speedy deletion. I see quite a few threads at Teahouse from new and not so new (but already autoconfirmed) editors whose articles have been moved to draft and who don't understand what hit them. Probably in a substantial majority of cases such moves are justified and the editors are also well advised to utilize the AfC. But I also feel that we need to be more honest with them and explain more clearly to such editors what's happening and what their options are. E.g. a user talk page notification message informing about a move to draft space and the right to contest it should probably also explicitly say that in that case an article may be listed for an AfD. With the current system I suspect that we are losing not only articles but editors too. Nsk92 (talk) 19:50, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
If an editor creates an article and has any thought about after it is published, then they will note the move to draft space and improve if the article can be improved. Moving to draft may well be a backdoor deletion method, but for content that merits deletion as presented. BD2412 T 20:11, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
If the content merits deletion then that's what PROD and AfD are for. Nsk92's comment shows that there are people who do have a care about what happens to the content after they've published it who are not being served by current practice - and chances are there are editors in a similar position who don't find their way to the Teahouse. Remember not to assume that everybody knows how Wikipedia works already. Thryduulf (talk) 20:28, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
If "moving to draft may well be a backdoor deletion method" then we should be honest about the process and not claim that it is not. The current process means that any editor, including ones that would never remotely be considered for adminship, can in effect delete articles. We need to remember that article creations are not the personal property of their creators but potentially valid encyclopedia articles that belong to everyone. Why shouldn't we use the procedures that we have, such as AfD, which, if successful, won't leave a page languishing for six months without a hope of ever becoming an enyclopedia article? Phil Bridger (talk) 20:39, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
I must add something that I heard a short time ago on the radio - I'm afraid that I was busy cooking dinner at the time so didn't catch the name of the speaker or the programme, but know that it was on BBC Radio 4 - on the lines of "procrastination doesn't lead to fewer decisions that must be made but more, one to put off the decision and one to make it". We are simply pushing decisions into the future, when they have to be made anyway, by the current use of draft space. Phil Bridger (talk) 20:52, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
In a substantial percentage of cases the moves to draftspace affects articles that do not merit removal from mainspace "as presented". These moves are often performed by relatively inexperienced users engaged in NPP. I am not even sure that having a 'New Page Reviewer' userright is actually needed to configure Twinkle to perform such moves (and they can always be performed manually). In any case, if this process really functions as "a backdoor deletion method" then, as Thryduulf and Phil Bridger noted, we should be honest and treat it as such. For deletion we have AfDs and DRV, plus the CSD tags are reviewed by an admin and the article's creator can contest them. With a move to draftspace, none of these safeguards currently exist. In fact the current process is quite obscure to the point of being misleading. The editors whose articles get moved to draftspace get a notification telling them that when a draft is sufficiently improved they can submit it for review to AfC. They'd have to click on WP:DRAFTS, read it most of the way through, find the passage that talks about the right to contest the move and figure out what to do with it. That reminds me of a passage from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with a quote by Vogons regarding the demolition of Earth: "All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint." I would, in fact, be much happier with a system where NPP moves to draftspace were officially treated as a special form of speedy deletion and required a special kind of a CSD tag. A tag could be placed by any user on a new unreviewed article, but would have to be reviewed by an admin, and the reviewing admin would have to perform the actual move to draftspace. This way the article's creator would have a chance to react before the article is yanked out, and perhaps even to improve it so that a move to draftspace becomes unnecessary. Nsk92 (talk) 21:57, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
As much as I believe that WP:AfC is a really useful process that all new editors should be encouraged to follow to learn about article creation, if users have a right to contest any draftification, they should be explicitly informed of this. It would help if there were an easier way of doing this too. I've seen many editors perform cut and paste moves when contesting a draftification, which creates problems itself. Spiderone(Talk to Spider) 14:14, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
  • There is another option here... Userfication.... the original creator (or any other editor) can REQUEST that the material be copied over to their USER sandbox space (not DRAFTSPACE), where they can improve it at leasure. Blueboar (talk) 23:00, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
    Only if they know that is an option and know where and how to ask for it. This is unlikely the case for new users given the current information given to them. Thryduulf (talk) 02:53, 21 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree that this is a problem and something like the OP's suggestion is desirable. Ping me if it gets to RfC. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 07:08, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
This recently happened to an article that I translated, and I agree that it was a confusing process. It was completely unclear from the notice why the page was draftified instead of just tagged with refimprove. I only found the note about being able to contest after searching myself through policy pages. In the end, it was easier to just add some sources to fix the problem; it seemed like having to litigate would have been more complicated than it was worth. —Wingedserif (talk) 16:57, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I certainly agree that there is a problem with how draftification is often used. What needs to happen for this to move forward? Ingratis (talk) 18:20, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
  • So what’s the proposal here? Celestina007 (talk) 18:42, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    The proposal made is, as clearly stated by the editor who proposed it, that editors creating articles that are moved to draft space should get a message that clarifies that, per WP:Drafts#Requirements for page movers, they have a right to get an article moved back to main space by the person who performed the move, where those articles may be subject to our normal deletion procedures. This is no change to any rights that anyone has, but merely a proposal to make sure that editors know about those rights. Personally I would go further and say that draft space should be done away with as a failed experiment, but that is not the proposal being made here. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:02, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    Any views on obliging article creators to comply with the requirement to provide multiple RIS for their articles? Or is everyone fine with them sitting in mainspace with tags? Mccapra (talk) 20:33, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    That's a completely different issue. Nothing proposed here would stop anyone nominating an article for deletion. Phil Bridger (talk) 20:41, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    That’s exactly the issue. There are many new articles that may be notable (with so many being about topics in countries where I don’t speak the language it can be hard to determine). For one reason or another the creator provides no sources, or inadequate sources. Let’s say I can guess it’s likely to be notable. What I would do now is draftify it if there is no response to tagging for notability/more sources. If the creator can just oblige me to move it back to mainspace you’re saying that’s fine and it should just sit there with its tags till someone else comes along some time to put it right. If the consensus is that this is fine I kind of think everyone at NPP is wasting their time really and mainspace will rapidly fill with many more unsourced or poorly sourced articles. Mccapra (talk) 20:51, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    What you describe is the current consensus per WP:Drafts#Requirements for page movers. If you want to change that then you should propose doing so, but his proposal is simply to tell article creators what the current consensus is rather than hide it from them. For most of the time that Wikipedia has existed we operated as a wiki and had articles edited in main space, with them being deleted if they met the criteria. Draft space is a recent innovation. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:13, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    Yes and it’s a good innovation because 1. It supports our continuing drive to ensure that all mainspace articles are properly sourced and 2. There are many articles created that are possibly notable but where notability has not been demonstrated. I think the story that it is “backdoor deletion” is unproven at best and in fact pretty spurious. Mccapra (talk) 21:19, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    Your opinion is noted, but whether draftification is or is not a backdoor route to deletion is irrelevant to this proposal. Currently, if an editor objects to their page being moved to draft space (for any reason or no reason, whether or not the move was correct according to policies, guidelines, custom or practice) they have the right to ask that the move be reverted and the page returned to mainspace. If a page is moved back to mainspace then anyone who thinks it should not be in mainspace is entitled to nominate it for deletion in the same way as if it had not been moved in the first place. Literally the only thing this proposal would change is that editors would be informed that they have the right that they currently have. Nothing else. Thryduulf (talk) 21:53, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
    they have a right to get an article moved back to main space by the person who performed the move this is problematic because editors take responsibility for content they add. So if I accept a pending changes edit, or an AfC draft, to some degree I'm taking responsibility for that edit. Requiring editors to move highly problematic drafts back into mainspace is problematic, thus. And it's also unenforceable. What, are we going to start blocking editors for refusing to move a problem draft into mainspace now? I'm okay with making it more clear of a user's ability to move their draft back into mainspace and their right to have it subject to a deletion discussion. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 22:17, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
Note that WP:DRAFTIFY already requiries that an article, whose draftification has been challenged, be moved back to mainspace, even if the quality of the draft is obviously poor. If an editor raises an objection, move the page back to mainspace and if it is not notable list at AfD. The current wording is not explicit on who shoulfd perform the move back, but I think the wording suggests that it should be the editor who originally draftified the article (the bit "and if it is not notable list at AfD" doesn't make sense otherwise). IMO, it is reasonable to require the editor who performed the original draftification to perform the move, if the author of the article specifically requests it (and requests that it be the editor who draftified the article move it back). There are situations where the creator of the article can't perform the move, e.g. if that editor is not yet autoconfirmed and the article was created via AfC. There will be other situations where the creator of the article is a relatively new editor who is autoconfirmed but is unfamiliar with the pagemove process across namespaces and doesn't feel confident enough in doing it themselves. Draftification is performed by a single editor with no discussion and no prior notice . No, it is not too much of an imposition to require them to move the page pack if requested, even if the page is in very poor shape. They should be free (and sometimes encouraged) to immediately list the page for AfD after that. Moving a page back to mainspace should be viewed as similar to a WP:REFUND restoration of a previously deleted article that had been PRODded. The admin who REFUNDed the article performed a procedural due process action and does not assume responsibility for the restored content. Nsk92 (talk) 00:15, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
@Nsk92, it’s not a bad idea that the editor is aware of their rights, it’s only fair I guess, but one of the reasons for draftifying an article is for addressing undeclared COI, so wouldn’t this be encouraging COI editing, in the sense that they are able and feel empowered to disregard disclosing their COI & unilaterally move the articles back to mainspace without proffering an explanation as to what their COI is, or are we okay with articles on mainspace with tags on them that would most likely never be addressed? sometimes AFD'ing an article wouldn’t always be the viable nor plausible option such as, when the article created by the COI editor is actually on a notable subject. Celestina007 (talk) 07:52, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
Certainly agreed that we lose a lot of worthwhile articles to G13 due to draftifications. Some time back I created User:SDZeroBot/Draftify Watch to keep a track of these pages but unfortunately I've had little time to actually look at them and revert the problematic ones. ALso it's worth noting that a couple of users doing draftifications are quick to revert back if you revert them. – SD0001 (talk) 11:51, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
I just want to be clear that while anyone can engage in looking at new articles, actual NPP, which is referred to multiple times in this discussion, comes with an associated user right, NPR. I agree that draftifications against the guideline prevent good information from being in mainspace. I do think the answer for this is to talk to people doing a poor job rather than adding an additional layer of bureaucracy into an already heavily regulated area (even if the actual deliver of this would be done by script for most). Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 21:33, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
Agree with Barkeep49, I also can't really see from the above discussion anyone actually providing any evidence that there is a genuine issue here with NPP draftification. Polyamorph (talk) 13:04, 2 March 2021 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Desysop Policy (2021)Edit

I have opened an RfC at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Desysop Policy (2021) to discuss establishing a community based desysop policy. All are invited to comment. TonyBallioni (talk) 20:46, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Edit summariesEdit

I was reminded in a discussion today that Help:Edit summary is neither a policy nor a guideline, but just an information page. I had been kind of aware of this fact, but did not think that it mattered until now. I had understood that the use of edit summaries was a widely accepted norm anyway and so it didn't matter that the page had no policy guideline/status. However, in a discussion with another user (in fact an admin) that user expressed the opinion that edit summaries are optional and that he views them as only helpful in some cases while in others they dusrupt his workflow. There may be a sizable what I presume to be minority of users who hold similar views. There are also quite a few users who do believe that edit summaries are useful and necessary but whose own usage of edit summaries is intermittent.

Therefore I believe it would be useful to upgrade the status of Help:Edit summary to that of an editing guideline, and perhaps insert some stronger language there. To be clear, I am not talking about any technical changes such as forcing the wiki software to always display a warning box if an edit summary is not provided. But I do think that the basic principle that every edit needs to be accompanied by a meaningful edit summary needs to be elevated to the status of an editing guideline. Nsk92 (talk) 15:37, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

As the correspondent in the discussion described above, I note that it is a fair and neutral description of the discussion, and look forward to rational and evidence based debate on the matter. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 05:07, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
  • This should be moved to WP:Village pump (proposals). Primergrey (talk) 05:40, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
    I think it's fine here; this is the place for policy proposals. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 07:14, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
    Just going from the message at the top stating, If you want to propose something new that is not a policy or guideline, use Village pump (proposals). I wouldn't normally mention it, but this proposal has potentially huge implications and should probably be where it would be most expected. Primergrey (talk) 07:24, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
Primergrey, you are correct, but I am propositing a policy change: Upgrading the status of Help:Edit summary to that of a guideline. That's why I started this thread here rather than at WP:Village pump (proposals). Nsk92 (talk) 11:21, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm hesitant to provide ammunition to anyone who might be inclined to bite a newcomer or make an attack along the lines of "hey, you didn't use an edit summary, therefore you messed up and are in the *wrong*". On the other hand, there is a significant subset of experienced editors who habitually refuse to use edit summaries, and are not moved by regular complaints on their talk page that it wastes others' time by prompting unnecessary scrutiny; I wish that we could apply a bit more pressure to these editors beyond just {{Summary2}}, and guideline status might help with that. I haven't given the page a close read lately, but if promoted, I'd want to see its language refined carefully to strike a balance between these things. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 07:13, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
There is a relevant talk page thread at Peter Southwood's talk page that he mentions above, see User talk:Pbsouthwood#Edit summaries, where pros and cons of edit summaries are discussed. (I'll try to just continue most of that discussion here.) Regarding new editors, they routinely break all sorts of other policies and guidelines and we extend a greater degree of tolerance to them for a while because they are newbies. I think some specific language in an eventual guideline can be used to ameliorate this concern as well as others. E.g. I don't think that refusing to use edit summaries (as opposed to deliberately using them misleadingly) should ever be considered disruptive behavior and lead to a block. Regarding editors who don't use or don't consistently use edit summaries, it appears that they fall into a several categories. Some do it because they are careless/lazy although they do, in principle, recognize the importance of providing edit summaries. Some do it deliberatetely to avoid scruitiny for their edits. (I suspect that this group is rather small.) There are some editors who have principled objections to relying on edit summaries and think that they are needed only in some specific types of cases. Peter Southwood is one of such editors. I believe that this subset of editors is also relatively small, but it does exist. I don't think that simply inserting stronger language in Help:Edit summary will be sufficient here, without changing the status of the page. Again, see the discussion at Peter Southwood's talk page to see why. Nsk92 (talk) 11:46, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Many editors, even experienced ones, also do not use edit summaries, especially on talk pages. They're usually useless on talk pages anyway, and often cookie-cutter ones like "c". I think it makes sense to have them as a guideline in mainspaces, but probably not in talk ones. FWIW, here's what ArbCom has to say about edit summaries. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 11:53, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I basically agree, on both points. I think that edit summaries in projectspace, particularly at user talk pages, are much less important. However, for mainspace edits I do consider edit summaries important. The guideline language can make that distinction explicit. Nsk92 (talk) 12:06, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
On implementation, I think Help:Edit summary is too much of a "help" (like a how-to) page to be promoted to a guideline, and aspects would need cleanup anyway. I would prefer to see some wordsmithing done to what ArbCom wrote, and then adding that sentence into an appropriate guideline page (I don't really know which one that would be? Wikipedia:Etiquette seems close in name, but not really in content). ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 12:21, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
It's an interesting thought, athough as the destination, the behavioral guideline Wikipedia:Etiquette seems like the wrong place for this item. However, your suggestion made me realize something. There already is a mention of edit summaries in the main editing policy, Wikipedia:Editing policy, in section, WP:UNRESPONSIVE. It says there: "Be helpful: explain your changes. ... Try to use an appropriate edit summary. For larger or more significant changes, the edit summary may not give you enough space to fully explain the edit; in this case, you may leave a note on the article's talk page as well." (Pinging Pbsouthwood since this point is relevant to our discussion at his talk page.) Perhaps we should clarify the language in this section to make it a bit stronger and more explicit ('Try to' sounds too noncommital.) I think a link to WP:UNRESPONSIVE also needs to be added at Help:Edit summary. Nsk92 (talk) 12:53, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I have added a hatnote pointing to Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain at Help:Edit summary. Nsk92 (talk) 13:03, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Providing an edit summary is often helpful, but it is not required. I see no reason to change that. Blueboar (talk) 13:35, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
As you happens you are incorrect on the not required part. The requirement is already a part of the Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain section although the language there can be improved. Nsk92 (talk) 13:49, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
Try to is not equivalent to is required. It is, then, not a matter of "clarifying the language", it is a proposal to radically change the way many editors do their work here. Primergrey (talk) 20:47, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps 'required' was the wrong word to use here, I am not sure. But "Try to use an appropriate edit summary" is certainly much more than a suggestion, particularly since the language occurs in a policy. I'd actully want to drop "try to" in this sentence and replace it with "Use an appropriate edit summary." Nsk92 (talk) 21:14, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I'm rather surprised about how weakly worded our current policies and guidelines are about edit summaries and I would support requiring one for every edit accompanied by something along the lines of (but not exactly) "try to make your edit summary clear enough so someone reading the page history can determine the nature of your edit, this is particularly important on reader-facing pages." Thryduulf (talk) 22:31, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I would oppose making this a guideline in general, but it could possibly be one for article space, which, as many people seem to forget, is the whole reason for this site's existence. I always try to provide an edit summary when editing an article, but usually don't provide one when editing a discussion page, which includes article talk pages and most Wikipedia space pages, because my edit itself is its own summary. If I could capture the essense of a comment in any shorter form that the edit itself then I would truncate that edit. I have a particular dislike for edit summaries to deletion discussions that say "keep" or "delete". Any contribution worth its salt cannot be summarised in such a way. Phil Bridger (talk) 23:16, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I'd like to see the language of Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain strengthened along the lines you suggest, and maybe somewhat stronger. E.g. have it say there that an edit summary is required for mainspace edits and is recommended for projectspace edits, but that editors should use their discretion and best judgement there. Personally, I actually appreciate "keep"/"delete" edit summaries for AfD edits. I must confess that for an AfD where I participated, if I see an edit with an edit summary indicating a !vote that agreed with mine, I usually don't look up the edit. But in the opposite case I do. Nsk92 (talk) 23:56, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
If edit summaries are to become compulsory for all mainspace (or other space) edits, then making it impossible to save without an edit summary would technically enforce the requirement, making it impossible to forget or accidentally publish without a required component of the edit. However, this does not enforce a useful or accurate edit summary, which is not a simple matter to define, and is probably largely a matter of opinion. For some edits, like content re-use, it is relatively straightforward to specify what is necessary to provide attribution, but in other cases where a number of changes with different purposes are done in the same edit, it can become difficult to keep track, and may require considerable effort and quite a lot of text to describe both correctly and usefully. The edit summary could become unwieldy or too large to fit, and in some cases be larger and require more work than the actual edit. I do not see this helping to recruit new editors or retain existing editors. Also, as edit summaries are effectively not changeable, there is the question of what to do if there is an error in the edit summary, or if one saves before finishing the summary. What will the appropriate response be to edit summaries that do not comply with the requirements, and who decides whether a summary meets the requirements? This could be seen as creeping bureaucracy, and a barrier to contribution. Will it lead to biting the newbies, harassment and hounding, be used as an excuse to revert edits people don't like? Other unforeseen consequences? Time is a zero sum commodity. When used for one thing it becomes unavailable for others. As volunteers we decide for ourselves what we want to do with our time. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 02:40, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't really see how the community as individuals could ever enforce mandatory edit summaries. The drama boards would be filled with gotcha moments plus the oft-mentioned BITE. I could see supporting mandatory edit summaries as a community or admin sanction for a particularly troublesome editor, though that would create other risks like useless or disruptive edit summaries. Slywriter (talk) 03:13, 24 February 2021 (UTC)

Edit summaries are not required, but are expected, particularly of experienced editors; I have and will oppose RFAs based on a lack of use of edit summaries. I don't see it beneficial to WP:BITE newbies for not using edit summaries in their first 1000 edits. I haven't investigated enough to determine whether this would support making Help:Edit summary policy or not. power~enwiki (π, ν) 02:43, 24 February 2021 (UTC)

As I understand it, the purpose of this discussion is to consider whether edit summaries should be required, with the possibility of opening a RfC on a proposal to make then compulsory. The possible consequences should be considered. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 03:26, 24 February 2021 (UTC)

If you require edit summaries, you're just going to wind up with a bunch of edit summaries like this: hfgkyuopk[] --Khajidha (talk) 14:03, 24 February 2021 (UTC)

  • Some responses to the comments above: I don't propose making it impossible to save an edit without an edit summary. But if there is a broad community consensus that edit summaries in mainspace are helpful and that editors should provide them, our main editing policy, Wikipedia:Editing policy should explicitly say just that, in reasonably strong form. If it does, it will be easier to approach experienced editors who neglect to include edit summaries in their mainspace edits and remind them that they should do so. Newbies routinely break all sorts of rules and norms, and they are routinely extended an extra level of tolerance per WP:NEWBIES; it will be/is the same with edit summaries. Regarding people providing nonsensical edit summaries, like hfgkyuopk[], I really don't see that happening. Experienced editors certainly won't do that, even if they personally find the edit summary requirement annoying. Newcomers are much more likely to just leave the edit summary field blank. Nsk92 (talk) 14:27, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
For convenience and context, I include here the full current text of Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain. Nsk92 (talk) 14:37, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
Be helpful: explain your changes. When you edit an article, the more radical or controversial the change, the greater the need to explain it. Be sure to leave a comment about why you made the change. Try to use an appropriate edit summary. For larger or more significant changes, the edit summary may not give you enough space to fully explain the edit; in this case, you may leave a note on the article's talk page as well. Remember too that notes on the talk page are more visible, make misunderstandings less likely and encourage discussion rather than edit warring.
  • I'm going to have to agree with Blueboar and Peter Southwood. I see no merit in requiring edit summaries for every article-space edit. It's certainly helpful in many cases, such as to note a significant development in the article, or particularly where the edit changes something for reasons that might be unclear or controversial. And I've called out people before for not using an edit summary when nominating a page for deletion because that seems contrary to giving good faith notice to interested editors. But many edits are perfectly self-explanatory, or truly minor as to not be worth elaborating on. Abandoning judgment calls in this area would just seem to create extra work for editors that will ultimately discourage many edits from being made. And it begs the question of what "requirement" means here, I can't see any way of "enforcing" this that would actually be desirable or constructive. postdlf (talk) 18:31, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
IMO, there is no such thing as a "self-explanatory" edit. An edit may only become self-explanatory, after someone have looked up the diff and analyzed the edit. By then it is too late. The time and effort of the editor looking up the diff has been expended. Let's say an edit shows up on my watchlist for an article that I am interested in, with no edit summary. The edit has added 751 bytes of data. That's all I know from seeing this edit in the watchlist. What happened there? Was somebody cleaning up some references? Or a table? Added a maintenence tag? Or perhaps added a few sentences regarding the subject's of the the article childhood? Or political career? The point is, without an edit summary, I and all the other editors who see this edit in their watchlists have absolutely no idea about the substance of the edit. Quite a number of them will feel that they have no choice but to look it up to see what the edit was about. If the edit summary just said "reformatting a table" or something similar, most people probably wouldn't feel the need to check it. Nsk92 (talk) 19:59, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
Self-explanatory meaning it's obvious what was done and why when you see what was changed. Edit summaries are not a substitute for actually looking at the edit. If you don't know or trust the editor making the change enough to go without confirming its validity, I don't see how you're going to trust that their summary was accurate or complete either without confirming. I think the focus on disruption raised by Masem below is helpful. All else is precatory. postdlf (talk) 20:29, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
I think that edit summaries should be a substitute for actually looking at the edit. An edit summary of "fix typo" saves me the time of looking at the edit; that's one of the great benefits of edit summaries, IMO. One editor spends a little more time to save time for many other editors, now and in the future. Similarly, on talk pages, putting the comment (if it's short) into the edit summary saves page watchers the time of having to look at the page to read the comment (and, IMO, is more useful than "cmt" or "re"). Levivich harass/hound 01:23, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
They can be a substitute for looking at the diff if the editor is one you trust, but if you trust the editor then why would you want to read the edit summary? One reason would be that you may be interested in the actual edit, and in those cases a summary can help you decide whether it is likely to be worth the time. Other valid reasons may exist but I think they should be stated rather than assuming that they are obvious to everyone. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 07:00, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Let's also not forget summaries like "RV nonsense" and the many variations thereof. Not uncivil enough to warrant any action, but worse than no summary at all. Mandatory edit summaries will also surely increase the use of back and forth summaries (and reverts) in lieu of talk page discussions. Primergrey (talk) 18:35, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I would agree with Blueboar's statement and what Nsk92 puts above. Edit summaries should be seen as a means to minimize disruption; an editor that is known to work without creating disruption in the first place in their usual mainspace work shouldn't be expected to use edit summaries, but an editor that may have been established as a disruptive editor or a new editor should be strongly encouraged to use them to regain community trust - to what degree they need to, we shouldn't be sticklers for but if failure or misuse of edit summaries does create more disruption, that's a problem. --Masem (t) 18:48, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
    Totally agree. Our policy against disruption fairly eliminates the need for the multitude of specifics that would otherwise exist. The community sees a conspicuous lack of edit summaries accompanying substantial edits...it gets addressed, with no need for a violation of a bright-line rule. To whatever degree this is perceived to not already work is simply an indication of the priorities of the community, not the system in which it operates. Primergrey (talk) 19:07, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
I have never thought about edit summaries as being mainly a means for minimizing disruption but rather, as the quoted text of the editing policy above says, as the means of being helpful to other editors. That's what edit summaries do: they provide help to other editors by letting them know the substance of the edit. I believe that most editors, myself included, use edit summaries to decide whether to look up a diff for an edit they see on their watchlist (and, similarly, when they look up an article history log). I usually AGF the edit summaries and I find that on the whole they save me a great deal of time and work. That's why I believe that everyone should use them. Nsk92 (talk) 19:39, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
I don't mean that edit summaries are a means for minimizing disruption. Rather, I mean that if a lack of edit summaries from a particular user is seen as disruptive, there is already a well-established way to deal with that. As to your other point, I don't think I fully grasp how someone who assumes good faith about the content of an edit summary wouldn't also assume good faith regarding the content of an edit. In other words, if an article on my watchlist shows a significant change in size, I'm going to check it out regardless of what the summary says or doesn't say. That's not a lack of good faith. While, it seems to me, that automatically reverting any edit that does not have an edit summary is, to a large degree. (Not suggesting that that is your MO, but it's certainly an option availed by some.) Primergrey (talk) 20:32, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
When I decide to look up an edit it is primarily not with the reason to revert it but to understand it. That is, for an article that I am interested in, if a substantial edit adding/changing meaningful content comes from an experienced and totally reliable editor, I would likely still want to look it up, just because I am interested in the subject. Even for a shorter edit that adds a short piece of useful info, I may want to look it up because I am interested in that info. For an edit reformatting a table or adding a maintenence tag, I'll likely skip it. But when I see an edit without an edit summary in my watchlist, I can't tell the difference between these types of situations. Nsk92 (talk) 20:54, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
Another thing to consider is that watchlists are not the only reason for edit summaries. Indeed for my work, their appearance in page histories is far more significant as I'm often looking at why a particular term was added or removed from an article, or why content was reorganised (not something that can be done any other way). They help understand how the article was developing across time, how active it is in terms of content development/vs maintenance. When disputes arise, edit summaries are an invaluable aid to determining what is happening and why, and for filtering out edits that are not part of the dispute but happen to be made at the same time. They also enable me to see whether a gnoming change made to the article was reverted because someone disagreed with it or because they didn't spot it when making content changes. On talk pages, summaries like "reply to Nsk92" are helpful because you can distinguish them from very different edits like "The early life section biased". For all these reasons and more, not leaving and edit summary makes things harder for other editors, sometimes years down the line, in exchange for a tiny investment of time for you. There is no reason for any experienced editor to be routinely not leaving edit summaries. Thryduulf (talk) 21:47, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
Peter Southwood made several earlier. Primergrey (talk) 21:51, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
I should have said "no good reason" as those expressed by Peter Southwood are either fallacious, a failure to summarise or an example of where an edit summary pointing to a fuller explanation on the talk page should be used. Indeed in the 15 years I've been editing Wikipedia there have only been a small handful of occasions where I've not been able to adequately explain my edit in an edit summary and on each of those occasions I've posted on the talk page. I am aware of exactly zero occasions when leaving no edit summary would have been better than leaving one. Thryduulf (talk) 23:49, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
Misleading or abusive edit summaries? However I assume you mean useful edit summaries,which makes it a bit of a tautology. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 09:19, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
Thryduulf, What work do you do that relies so much on edit summaries? · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 09:27, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
RfD and dispute resolution are the most frequent times I rely on edit summaries, but there are other times too. Misleading or abusive edit summaries are a red herring - any feature can be abused and yet the vast majority of people don't (it's how the entirety of Wikipedia works). If someone is misusing something intentionally that's a behavioural issue that needs addressing (and it normally happens alongside other behaviour issues as well), if they're doing it unintentionally that's an education issue. Thryduulf (talk) 13:11, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
Exactly zero appears a bit hyperbolic, but not a big issue.
Thryduulf, I would like to understand just how the presence of edit summaries is so critically important to your work, so I can develop an informed opinion on how seriously I should take your claims. I can be persuaded by evidence and logical reasoning, not so much by rhetoric, and can generally tell the difference. Cheers, · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:46, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
It isn't critically important in the sense that I can't do it without it, but edit summaries make it so much easier to find the key edits in the page history and especially to understand why they were made. A large part of RfD is understanding why a term redirects where it does and why the term or related information was added to or removed from the article or moved elsewhere. Looking through a page history the edit summaries should tell the story of how the article changed, it means I don't have to read every edit to find what I'm looking for, I don't have to guess at the reason a change was made years after it was made. I'm frequently dealing with subject I know very little about, so things that are obvious to involved editors at the time can be opaque to others later. If a term is removed from an article without explanation it makes it much harder to know whether this was a good change or a bad change. Understanding why a term is or isn't in a particular article is often important to working out what should happen with a redirect so that we can best help readers.
For dispute resolution purposes, a good edit summary can make it immediately clear what someone's motivation for an edit is, they can make it clear which users are disputing what and why. They can make it clear that intervening edits are or are not part of the dispute, or whether someone is trying to diffuse it, e.g. by trying compromise wording. Again edit summaries should be telling the story of the article.
When I say "I am aware of exactly zero occasions when leaving no edit summary would have been better than leaving one." I mean exactly that, it's not hyperbole. There may be a few occasions where adding an edit summary adds nothing over no edit summary (I'm struggling to think of such situations, but I'm prepared to believe they might exist) but an edit summary is truly never worse than no edit summary. Thryduulf (talk) 13:55, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
Thryduulf, if I take your statement at face value, I find myself wanting to ask you to explain how an abusive or disruptive edit summary can be not worse than no edit summary.
I can see that for your work on redirects that some edit summaries can sometimes make the work easier. Do you have an estimate for what percentage of all edit summaries this might be valid?
I agree that edit summaries are desirable whenever it appears reasonably likely that the edit may be contended. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:43, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
@Pbsouthwood: Edits with misleading summaries are such a tiny percentage of all edits that they're essentially irrelevant to the discussion (and frequently subsequent edits correct them, explicitly or implicitly anyway). As for what percentage of edit summaries are potentially helpful? 100% - including misleading ones as a misleading edit summary is a good indicator that the edit was made in bad faith. They don't all help in the same way, but given there are so many different reasons people can be looking at the summaries every single edit summary has the potential to be helpful to someone at some point, even just "this is not the edit I'm looking for" is helpful - an edit without a summary gives you no clue as to it's purpose, relevance or indeed anything else. What percentage of edit summaries are actually helpful to me personally is irrelevant. Thryduulf (talk) 09:57, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Bit like leaving explanatory notes in code, not doing it is not helpful.Selfstudier (talk) 23:01, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I have to say that having to explain why you deleted one letter due to typo will make a lot of editors very unhappy! Davidstewartharvey (talk) 17:32, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
I guess m ought to cover things like that? Typo is pretty well understood, too. And Sp. But maybe I assume too much.Selfstudier (talk) 19:26, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I agree with Thryduulf on the potential value of edit summaries when reviewing an article's history, but I think that's more useful, and a more reasonable expectation, when the edits are substantial or substantive, such as "added section on personal life" or "complete rewrite of education". My disagreement is with the position that "every" edit should be "required" to have one. I think checking an edit as minor obviates the need in many or most circumstances, for example, and I personally don't want anyone to waste their time typing in "corrected typo" as an explanation for why they changed "Washingtno" to Washington" (nor do I want to read that summary). Nor should it ever be required for adding talk page comments. Adding to the transaction cost of every edit means fewer edits. No one has really addressed the "enforcement" question either, as far as what people think "required" would mean in practice, however narrow or broad the circumstances it might be "required". postdlf (talk) 18:16, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
    Thinking about the "transaction cost" aspect that you point out leads me to abandon my former position that this may possibly be a useful guideline for main space. We already have rules against disruptive editing, which can include not using edit summaries when they should be used, such as making a potentially controversial edit or nominating an article for deletion. There's no need to badger people for some percentage produced by a tool. If someone is making good edits then it's better that they make those edits rather do the ideal thing and provide an edit summary. Let's not let the best be the enemy of the good. Phil Bridger (talk) 18:44, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
I believe that the actual transaction cost in terms of decreasing the number of article edits would be either minimal or non-existent. When an editor wants to make an edit, they don't start with worrying about the edit summary. They prepare an edit and hit preview. Only then, when it comes to saving the edit, do they start thinking about the edit summary. Even for editors who may be somewhat annoyed by a requirement to provide an edit summary, they would be unlikely to scrap and abandon the edit. There may be some editors who may be so annoyed that they would just start editing less but I doubt that it'd be a large number. Providing an edit summary for every edit (or every article space edit) easily becomes a habit, like waring a face covering now when you go outside. After a while it just becomes automatic and you don't really think about it. I am sure it would be the same with edit summaries if we were serious about requiring them. Nsk92 (talk) 19:39, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
Nsk92, Is there any reliable data available as evidence to support that belief? Minimal is theoretically possible as an average value, provided there is some agreement on what constitutes minimal. Non-existent is at face value improbable, as in my experience some edit summaries are non-trivial to compose, and those include the ones I consider critically important, like the ones required for attribution, and which I try to both do when necessary, and do adequately informatively. For those cases the transaction cost is not a problem, as it is clear that they are an essential part of the edit. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:46, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
I was speaking colloquially. Of course nobody, as far as I know, actually tried to conduct precise experiments on the topic or to assign a quantifyable measure to the transaction cost of making an edit summary. My point is that, IMO, making edit in article space summaries mandatory is unlikely to significantly reduce the number of edits because of how an editing process works. You prepare an edit first and only then think about an edit summary. Plus providing edit summaries becomes a habit fairly quickly. Nsk92 (talk) 07:47, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
Plus, of course, for those who are worried about the potential transaction cost of requiring edit sumaries being a significant impediment that would somehow significantly reduce the number of overall edits and ever drive some editors away, there is no reliable data as evidence to support that belief either. At this stage we are trying to make arguments at the level of common sense. Nsk92 (talk) 07:54, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
If it takes time to do, then it necessarily can't be a "nonexistent" cost. And if it takes more time to do something, all else being equal fewer people will do that thing. That honestly seems axiomatic. Particularly since everyone is a volunteer so there's no increased benefit presented to balance that cost out. I know I'd be less likely to correct the spelling of a word in an article I'm reading on my phone if I'm required to also type in "corrected spelling". And it may be just because my toddler is suddenly getting into the cupboards again before I can finish, the red light has changed to green, or I just decide the extra time this "requirement" takes is not worth my time. Again, whatever "required" means here, which is yet to be explained. Unless the "or else" is really laid out I don't know what we're talking about in practice. postdlf (talk) 18:59, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
I hope users choose not to edit while in a car waiting for a light to turn green. isaacl (talk) 21:14, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
There is some value in there being a transaction cost. Our aim should be to increase the quality of edits, not just the quantity. Writing the edit summary first can also be valuable — if you do not know why you are making the edit, then perhaps it is not a worthwhile edit? — GhostInTheMachine talk to me 12:38, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
I don't think edit summaries should be required, but they should be encouraged. They're not used enough. I've seen well timed edit summaries stop edit wars in their tracks. An explicit edit summary lets other editors know exactly what you added. That might not seem necessary when it's an editor that you trust, but when you're looking at an edit history page where some damage has occurred amongst a dozen or so edits, it's better to have explicit edit summaries from everyone. If I correct a typo, I'm likely to not just write "correcting typo" but also "Washingtno -> Washington". That informs people of what exactly went on, without having to open the page. I'm also apt to write the more generic "copy editing", which some might find completely useless, but getting in the habit of doing that prompts me to be more explicit when I think it's warranted, e.g. "copy editing, employing British spelling, esp. 'labor' to 'labour' ". But instead of trying to impose my fussiness on others, which would be impossible, my suggestion would be for the system to provide diffs as edit summaries, or to summarize those diffs where there's not enough space to include them all, as many bots are now doing. Dhtwiki (talk) 22:43, 25 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure that promoting the help page to a guideline is the best way to skin this cat, but I agree with the general principle, and I think a better approach is perhaps to revise what it says in the editing policy. Though they shouldn't be required, I think editors should be encouraged to use edit summaries for most if not all mainspace edits. They can also be helpful in other namespaces. Most importantly, editors should be taught why to use edit summaries, and what to write in them: why "rv nonsense" is bad (it's not descriptive) and "fix typo" is good (saves having to look at the edit). This is what the help page already does, and it's already linked in the policy page. So I think the status and relationship of the two pages is fine, but perhaps the wording of the policy page could be revised. Levivich harass/hound 01:28, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Perhaps this is due to the fact that I watch several articles that are prone to vandalism, but... edit summaries are not always helpful. In fact, when editors are not acting in good faith, an edit summary can actually be harmful, intentionally used to deceive. I have often seen significant (POV vandalism) edits hidden behind innocuous summaries such as “fixed typo” or “correcting spelling”. Blueboar (talk) 13:26, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
    Editors abusing edit summaries is not evidence against the usefulness of edit summaries, it is evidence of a problem with the users doing the abusing in the same way that editors deliberately applying incorrect citations is not evidence that citations are a bad thing. Thryduulf (talk) 14:00, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
I don’t disagree... my point was simply that edit summaries are not always helpful. We still have to check the edit to see whether what is said in the summary matches the actual edit. Blueboar (talk) 14:23, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
When I made the original suggestion at the top of this thread regarding Help:Edit summary, I didn't realize that the section Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain dealing with edit summaries existed. At this point I agree that changing the status of Help:Edit summary is not the way to go. But I would like to strengthen the language of Wikipedia:Editing policy#Be helpful: explain, assuming consesus to do so can be achieved. Nsk92 (talk) 01:53, 26 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Objectively speaking & semantics aside, I believe, using edit summaries be made the onus of every and all editors. I believe without an iota of doubt that it is only proper. I also do not have any reservations if it be made a policy, there’s also concern of editors using edit summaries in a disruptive manner in such scenarios I believe the editor(s) be warned for disruptive editing & sanctioned by the community if need be. Celestina007 (talk) 08:08, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    Celestina007 Beliefs/opinions aside, what would you consider appropriate consequences for (a) not providing an edit summary, or (b) for providing an edit summary that any given reader does not find sufficiently useful? I am looking for reasonably practicable suggestions here. Disruptive edit summaries are already covered by general policy. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 06:10, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
    Occasional accidental omission of an edit summary deserves no consequences (especially if followed by a whitespace or similar edit to correct), perfection is not required. Repeated intentional omission of an edit summary should be treated as a form of disruptive editing. Intentionally leaving edit summaries that are actively unhelpful is no different to leaving a misleading edit summary. In other situations, discussion and advice is appropriate. If that advice is not heeded then progress as we would for people disregarding advice in other ways. More specific than that depends on circumstances. Thryduulf (talk) 10:03, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
  • An edit summary is intended to be helpful to other editors and failing to add a suitable summary is choosing not to be helpful — GhostInTheMachine talk to me 12:29, 2 March 2021 (UTC)

RfC on editnotice policyEdit

There is an RfC at Wikipedia talk:General sanctions/Coronavirus disease 2019 #RfC on use of COVID-19 editnotice to answer the question "Should admins have the ability to place the General sanctions/Coronavirus disease 2019 editnotice template on pages in scope that do not have page-specific sanctions?" --RexxS (talk) 21:55, 23 February 2021 (UTC)

Announcement: (essay) WP:SOLDIER deprecatedEdit

Any regular of AfDs will surely have encountered this when discussing military figures. Per a recent RfC at the WikiProject Military History discussion page; it's been found to be inappropriate and there was consensus to deprecate it. Just letting you know in case you end up upon it still being cited in relevant discussions.

For WikiProject Military history,

RandomCanadian (talk / contribs) 00:50, 25 February 2021 (UTC)

Caitlyn JennerEdit

Discussion about the pronouns used at the Caitlyn Jenner article belongs at, and is happening at, Talk:Caitlyn Jenner. Discussion of the general case belongs at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style but there is no appetite here for change. Thryduulf (talk) 10:10, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

There seems to be a concerted effort to keep male pronouns from Caitlyn Jenner, even when they refer to Jenner pre-transition. I cannot find any instances of the pronoun "he" in the section referring to his olympic career, including in cases where omission of the pronoun would be grammatically incorrect, such as "Jenner watched teammate Fred Dixon get injured in the 110 meter hurdles, so took a cautious approach to the hurdles and discus." There is no pronoun between the bolded words when there should be. Jenner was indisputably male before 2015, so he should be referred to as such when concerning his Olympic career. The current situation also possibly counts as WP:CENSORSHIP as there may have been a deliberate purge of male pronouns. Gender changes are not retroactive. 053pvr (talk) 05:24, 28 February 2021 (UTC)

Without making any judgement on the whole of the above (other than that this may not be the best place to discuss it), i will point out that the quote objected to is perfectly proper English and, indeed, has evidently been thought through carefully in order to remain good usage and yet not use the potentially objectionable pronoun; happy days, LindsayHello 07:15, 28 February 2021 (UTC) Adding ping, which i missed; happy days, LindsayHello 07:16, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
One place to start is Wikipedia:Gender identity#Retroactivity. There have been several conversations about this over the years. The current consensus may not be agreeable to everyone but it is not censorship. MarnetteD|Talk 07:23, 28 February 2021 (UTC)
@053pvr: There appears to be an active discussion going on at Talk:Caitlyn Jenner which you started, so you should be quite aware of. That discussion has not yet played out, indeed you made this post here 14 minutes after you started the prior discussion. This looks like WP:FORUMSHOP. The existing guidance is at MOS:GENDERID, which states "Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example "man/woman", "waiter/waitress", "chairman/chairwoman") that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person's life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise." If you wish to see it changed in general for all articles about transgender people, I suppose you could start that discussion, but I would not see it happening. The existing guidance was arrived at through many months of discussions from a wide swath of the Wikipedia community, and while consensus can change, and you're entirely free to start a discussion to change the existing guidelines, I wouldn't recommend it as you are unlikely to see any consensus to change it. --Jayron32 17:39, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
Part of the advice that's developed in dealing with transitioned people that were notable before transitioning like Jenner is that if pronouns can be avoided, they should be, as that eliminates the confusion and debate over what gender terms to use, even in a case like Jenner where at that point Jenner was running an official male event as a male. The wording given seems like a perfect way to remove a pronoun without confusing the actors in that sentence, for example, and thus a clean way of handling that. --Masem (t) 18:07, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
Without starting into policy, the idea that we must adjust pronouns depending on the time period being referenced is bizarre and, to me, reads like an excuse to use the incorrect pronouns. A person, as they exist in the present, has a personhood that encompasses the entirety of their personal history. If they currently go by one pronoun, that pronoun should be used in the past, because it is still referring to the person as they exist in the present. We might say "she had an athletic career" because we are talking about a person who exists now, who uses she/her pronouns. Given this, I particularly don't appreciate he/him being used by the editor above in their message. I also dispute that anybody can be said to be "indisputably" male or female based on assumption, especially if they later went on to come out. BlackholeWA (talk) 23:30, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
BlackholeWA, I one hundred percent agree with you, every word. Jorm (talk) 23:41, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
These poor abused horses... EvergreenFir (talk) 00:08, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
Meh... the horses are dead, they don’t feel the beatings. Blueboar (talk) 00:35, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Confirmation bias aside, is this going to be a multi-forum event? - Floydian τ ¢ 00:42, 2 March 2021 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Are we really "Not Vote"ing, or is that just a nice fiction?Edit

I'm not exactly an experienced editor, but I like to hang out on the website, read policy, and contribute to processes, because the hivemind of Wikipedia fascinates me. Most of my active participation has been in RfCs and XfD discussions.

Obviously, I know that the convention is that polling in processes is WP:NOTAVOTE, and that they should be regarded as a solicitation of views from editors which should be considered on merit. However, I find that, in practice, these discussions essentially do just function as straight majority polls. In fact, the entire concept of consensus as realized in Wikipedia seems to be rooted in taking the course of action that is supported by the majority of editors.

I realize that the idea here is that people should be expressing their views when they make their !vote, and that by stating these views, they influence the editors who !vote afterwards until an overall consensus has been formed. This is nice in theory, but it has a number of failure modes. Firstly, many people, especially in long RfCs, will not read all the discussion that has taken place beforehand, instead skipping the block of text and appending their opinion unchanged. Secondly, if the idea that a consensus is the result of people being persuaded by previous arguments, this ignores the fact that groups of editors might want the same outcome for different reasons. In situations where 40% of participants oppose an action, but the other 60% are split evenly in their rationale for wanting the action, then arguably there has been no "consensus" the rationale for the decision, and so the process defaults to simply being a blind vote.

The other option, of course, is that the closer could unilaterally decide to uphold a minority view because they are more persuaded by its argument or adherence to policy, but in practice I think this rarely happens and would be met with outrage and immediate challenge, because the expectation is still that these processes are conducted essentially as votes.

This isn't about any particular discussion or issue, nor could I suggest a better way of doing things particularly. I just wanted to ask for other opinions; is the convention of "Not a vote" essentially just a nice thought? Or its primary function not to be applied in a strictly literal sense, but to remind editors to always state their opinions such that discussions are generally more opinion-orientated rather than a series of contextless supports or opposes? Or do you think that Wikipedia generally does manage to hold itself to "not voting" in relevant discussions? BlackholeWA (talk) 12:01, 1 March 2021 (UTC)

  • WP:NOTVOTE is more than an aspiration, but the way it works is probably more obvious when you close discussions rather than when you participate in them. For one, what we aim for is a rough consensus, not a unanimous one; agreement amongst a majority of participants can carry the day even if a significant minority disagrees. That is why it's rare (but not at all unheard of) to see closes in favour of a minority position and why the outcome is often similar to that of a poll. But closers still do a lot more than count heads. Your hypothetical discussion in which a majority of participants agree on an outcome but for different reasons is an example of the process working as intended – consensus emerges from the common ground that most agree on. To make it concrete, let's say we have an AfD where 3 people !vote keep, 3 delete, 2 merge, and 2 redirect, all with equally valid rationales. Seen as a poll, no outcome "wins". But there is obviously a rough consensus (7–3) that the article shouldn't be kept in its current form even if there is no agreement on what to do with it. A good closer would recognise this and, guided by the general principle that we err on the side of keeping content, close it as merge.
Your second example sounds like a supervote. The "quality of arguments" part of WP:CONSENSUS means that in assessing it we discard opinions that are obviously baseless, refuted, or contradict established policy. It's not about what the closer personally finds persuasive. – Joe (talk) 12:49, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I've closed several RfCs/RMs/TfDs in favour of the minority view (example). Usually such closes require giving a longer explanation to make ones thinking clear. Some get appealed to DRV etc but none have been overturned yet. I think it's totally valid to close in favour of a minority in some cases, but it is still uncommon. In my view, most discussions are mostly a vote, and consensus is not about being 'right' but rather it's about stability. To the extent that WP:NOTAVOTE matters it's mostly a corrolary of WP:CONLEVEL (i.e. votes that go against a wider consensus are not weighted very highly, and also votes that are internally logically inconsistent or otherwise severely problematic get discarded). In some discussions, particularly ones where some special interests (ie a local consensus, WikiProjects claiming territory, etc) are at work, it's also worth being careful not to discount broader opinions of editors and recognise if stonewalling/bludgeoning is occurring. Also have to be wary of SPAs/socks/canvassing. After that, it's mostly looking for whether there are outcomes/points editors seem to generally agree on.
    If there's a clear consensus against a current title but no consensus on a better title, then it can be common to move to an interim stable solution which has the most support (example: 2021 storming of the United States Capitol). Some special cases also apply to different types of discussions. In current events RfCs, for example, seeing a wall of supports/opposes later on can be a strong indicator of consensus becoming apparent due to external changes (eg media coverage). Also if there's mixed discussion, and then a refutation of a major point happens, and that seems to result in a notable swing in the votes that's also a useful indicator. In such cases the overall number of votes on each side seems to matter less than the trend the RfC is going in (but in some cases it's not clear enough and a 'no consensus' outcome is the only valid result). One useful approach, which I took from Primefac, is to skim the discussion and get an idea of the various views/arguments, and then make a closer read to see which seem to have consensus. This tends to be a good approach for messier RfCs (so, actually, I guess many discussions aren't really a vote?). ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 17:22, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
  • You do know that, sometimes, the side of a debate with a numerical advantage does actually have the better, more policy-based argument? I know, right? Weird. In my experience, cries of "WP:NOTAVOTE IS NOT BEING OBEYED" come from people who didn't have a sound policy-based argument in the first place. I have, on occasion, closed discussions which went against the majority, but it should be noted that a large proportion of discussions do see that the same side of the debate that has the most votes also has the best rationales. Which is not to say that the OP doesn't have a case to be made for whatever specific case caused them to make this long post. Without reference to a specific case, we can't tell what specific problem we need to assess, and yes, sometimes discussions are closed the wrong way. Whether or not any one of them the OP is thinking of needs to be reviewed I cannot possible know without looking at it. --Jayron32 17:31, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
    • I'm not talking about or having issue with a specific case. Believe me or not, I'm not trying to be tendentious wrt a particular discussion, but just wanted to get opinions on the policy in general, as it's been something I've been thinking about recently - there are some interesting perspectives here, which I appreciate. BlackholeWA (talk) 20:41, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Certain discussions are more likely to have "NOTAVOTE" utilised than others. For example, AfDs are very policy-based, and by far the type of discussion where you're most likely to see the minority side (by absolute numbers) "win", though obviously still uncommon! Naming discussions are also common cases for this. RfCs are all over the place - it can be a bit hard to judge here, since often they're creating policy because there isn't currently any. As such, making a policy-backed case is hard, so it's more on weight of reason, and weight of viewpoints. RfAs act like a vote unless they get to the CRATCHAT sphere, at which point, they default back to NOTAVOTE. Nosebagbear (talk) 20:36, 1 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Basically what everyone else said, but especially Joe's point about it being more obvious when you're a closer than a participant. I'd encourage you to look through the discussions and archives at WP:Discussions for discussion if you want a more explicit idea of how contentious discussions get closed. the entire concept of consensus as realized in Wikipedia seems to be rooted in taking the course of action that is supported by the majority of editors while it may seem that way, it's not; as others have pointed out closing against a numerical majority is not uncommon. This is especially likely if the numerical majority looks like it won't be able to actually enforce its opinion. That is the root of consensus: unity of action. It's not that everyone (or X% of everyone) agrees "let's do X", but rather everyone agrees "we won't stop others from doing X if they keep Y and Z in mind". Our policies describe what people already do, not necessarily what must be done; we have no firm rules, so no matter the outcome of a "vote" it can only be implemented if the minority agrees to not stop its implementation (see meatball:CommunityDoesNotAgree). If 40% of editors vehemently oppose a change to the Manual of Style, they will revert any attempts to enforce it. The majority is then faced with a problem: either block 40% of our editor-base or compromise with the minority. That functional conflict is the basis of consensus: how do we avoid blocking 40% of editors every time we need to make a complex decision? We determine what the community agrees to allow rather than forcing one faction to do what another faction wants. Of course, that's not always ideal---sometimes we do want to force people to act in particular ways (e.g. WP:BLP, WP:NLT, WP:NPA, and WP:GS). In that situation voting is very effective because it demonstrates a mandate for forcing actions. But voting, like consensus, is a tool and not every tool is useful in all situations (for when it is useful, I largely agree with SunirShah's point of view at meatball:VotingIsEvil). For all the bytes people spend pointing out the problems in our consensus-based governance model, we rarely engage with the legitimate problems and failure modes of polling. Per Arrow's Theorem all non-binary voting systems will be sub-optimal along some metric of "fairness", so turning everything into a vote won't magically solve our problems. In fact, outside of binary choices, it is necessarily sub-optimal. We rarely have binary choices, and we rarely need to demonstrate a mandate to strictly enforce rules with blocks. That's the spirit behind NOTAVOTE: voting is a tool that is rarely useful for making decisions on Wikipedia. While many discussions look like votes (because straw polls are useful for organizing opinions by general sentiment), they don't function like them except in specific contexts or obvious cases. Wug·a·po·des 00:05, 2 March 2021 (UTC)