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Debate:The mobocracy

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This is one of many discussions that has descended into petty snipping and trolling idiocy on RationalWiki.
Here are the others, in case you are curious, bored, or enjoy pain:
- Community Standards/Revamp, January 2009 -- Community Standards/Revamp draft -- Requests for comment/HeartOfGold -- Community Standards/disruption -- HeartOfGold Sysop vote -- Site politics -- User:Copyvio's campaign to stop copyvio -- Serious Business -- Epic debate -- Cat fight -- Constitutional Convention, April 2008 -- Barroom brawls -- Voting Procedure -- Inactivity -- Property rights in WIGOs -- Nuclear Option -- Privacy clusterfuck -- The Rationalwiki Reform Society -- Community Standards/TK -- Drama dump -- The case of MarcusCicero -- Voting standards -- User rights and moderation revisited -- Make TK a sysop? -- Analysis of the relative income streams of the National Football League and international rugby union -- Statement candidacy for the RationalWiki Foundation Board of Trustees -- Is RationalWiki under the control of Feminist activists? -- Chicken coop/Archive37 -- Chicken coop -

Following discussion on Talk:Richard M. Nixon the usefulness of the mobocracy has been questioned.

There would seem to be two issues:

  1. Is the mobocracy (still) a good way to run the site.
  2. If not, is there anything better.--Bobbing up 05:47, 6 October 2008 (EDT)


I'm going to repeat my old comment, because I thought it sounded nice and dramatic. Plus it sums up my view very neatly:
I'm not querying the fact that we currently use that system, I'm just gearing up to saying it's a stupid way of running things. It's inadequate; it gives those in authority no idea of their duties or limitations, and it breeds squabbles when the ideas of how people expect things to work somehow conflict with each other. New3.pngPink(Future schismatic)
We are supposed to post here, aren't we? New3.pngPink(Talk) 05:45, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I still don't know (unless you answered below) what you think is borken about how this place isn't run? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:29, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
The part I've just bolded and italicised. New3.pngPink(Bold!) 00:36, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes.--Bobbing up 05:47, 6 October 2008 (EDT)


If we think back a little bit, the term "mobocracy" was originally imposed on us by certain people, the most important of whom shall remain nameless. Like "fag", "dyke" and other similar epithets, it was adopted and it's meaning co-opted by the, er, mob. We we're, as AK says, never a mobocracy as such (except as RW 1.0 perhaps). Our rules have generally worked well, even in HCM. My 2 cents.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --Take two aspirin and call someone else 16:01, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Another objection[edit]

I would contend that whatever Rationalwiki:Community Standards may claim, RW is not a wp:mobocracy at all, unless we want to adopt our own little private definition of what that is. Rather, I view RW as functioning much like an early medieval tribal monarchy. (Stay with me, please).

  • For one thing, we have rules - quite a lot of them, in fact. Many of these are written down, but the most important ones are not - they're customary laws, or as RW:CS puts it, "things are done around here the way they are done around here".
  • Secondly, again unlike a mobocracy, we do have a permanent "leader", since Trent effectively wields unlimited power through his control of the server. But in the best tradition of an idealized tribal monarchy, he chooses not to use that power, working instead through the "advice and consent" of the population, i.e. the editors.
  • Finally, it is clear that unlike a mobocracy where the individual members of the mob are effectively anonymous - one could even say that a mob is defined by the anonymity of its members - the RW editors are clearly not. There are certain editors with higher profiles than others, and some with more influence than others. This again is comparable with a tribal monarchy where members of the population or the "hird" enjoy different levels of status, depending on achievements, seniority or other factors.

--AKjeldsenCum dissensie 06:20, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

is the mobocracy a good way to run the site?[edit]


  • If you are happy about RW, stay here. If you want a fair, square, and balanced wiki, go to WP. If you're too stupid for WP, go to CP. There is no place that's perfect for everyone and we shouldn't change RW into WP trying to achieve that. Etc 13:44, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Well, it's worked so far. I know that there are times when it's all a bit much but, in the eleven months I've been a RWian it's provided interesting debate and lots of lulz. After all, we may be a mob but we're a rational mob. Silver Sloth 05:58, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • It appears as though there are three methods of conflict resolution:
    • Both participants discuss, and one or the other cedes the point. This can occur under any regime, but it's the ideal.
    • Both participants continue to disagree. One of them isn't as persistent or as interested, and so they give in. The other person wins by default through longevity.
    • Both participants disagree, and other people get involved. Votes are taken eventually and discussion continues. Usually a decision is reached.

While these processes can break down, this is usually just a failure of one of the parties to adhere to a spirit of rationality. Rationality calls for a reasoned discussion and then a majority vote, and that should be the appropriate approach to conflicts by all.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 06:03, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

  • I find that quite persuasive Tom - though it does depend on all of us behaving rationally.--Bobbing up 0606, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
      • I don't think "rationally" has to equal "calmly," but I guess that's beside the point. I don't think any of us can be counted on to behave either calmly or rationally in all cases. I mean, I like the current way of doing things, and I don't think things should change. However, Headless Chicken Mode would never occur if we could all maintain a cool head. That, said, I do have an honest question: What have been the lasting repercussions of an HCM event? I'm not sure, but it seems as if the desire to change the way we do things is directly related to avoiding and/or resolving HCM situations. --Arcan ¡ollǝɥ 07:01, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
There have been occasions when users have left. Frequently, though not always, they come back. However I suspect that another consequence of HCM episodes is that survivors learn (1) not to take themselves too seriously and (2) that they should remember that other people also have strong opinions.--Bobbing up 17:25, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
If RationalWiki ever reaches the second "tipping point" TMT mentioned (see talk) HCMs will have far more serious consequences. The "mob" will be so widely spread that its consensus won't have any meaning to individual editors, and so whatever order is imposed will seem to be personal attacks. To illustrate this point, can you imagine what would happen if a large wiki like Wikipedia tried to run things by our "rules"? New3.pngPink(Sink) 23:53, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Personally, having been on this site for the limited time I've been here, I like the way things are running. Operations seem fairly smooth, and I have encountered only limited conflict. Sure, we're all going to bicker now and again, but rational and relatively like-minded people do that from time to time. Speakerface punkrock 09:08, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • I agree with Speakerface. I have not been part of the RW community for very long (most notably I have been absent for the major conflicts and drama that have been sited on this page), but the system seems to be working just fine. Our community seems by and large to be made up of people who care not only about being rational but also about being reasonable, and who don't take anything too seriously. Contrast this with CP. Aside from Andy, Bugler, Conservative, Karajou, Ed Poor, Jinx and Joaquin, everyone seems to be miserable. They live in constant fear of the banhammer, intruding on someone else's turf and being labelled a librul subversive. I think that the respective systems affect these outcomes, and I much prefer our community.-- Antifly Now with 50% less retirement! 11:00, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Admittedly, I've been gone for almost a year, and am just now coming back. So, take what I say with a however much sodium you like. However, while some things have changed, I don't have any real problems with the way things are now. Researcher 08:54, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • I been here for well over a year now and have no problems with how things work here. I definitely think that this is a "taking ourselves too seriously" sort of arguement. On the other hand, I tend to stay out of the way of other people for the most part, so many of the issues that are being dealt with in this debate don't generally apply to me.

Ultimately, I think that keeping things as they have been is the best testament to how we are not CP (or WP for that matter). --Edgerunner76 14:12, 8 October 2008 (EDT)


  • "The only way to describe how things are done around here is with the tautology that things are done around here the way they are done around here"... just isn't good enough. And it hasn't work so far. Lack of clear guidance for sysops has lead to headless chicken mode time and time again. Kip the Dip, anyone? New3.pngPink(Tired) 06:13, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • This is working for what it is - a place for "lulz", a CP watch and the occasional wonderful article. But as far as "government", this is terribly inefficient. We haven't defined yet what "rational" means for us, we can't agree whether religions are rational, we can't agree on a consistent blocking (or placement into vandal group) policy, we haven't decided yet which articles belong to the Fun: namespace and which don't. And we haven't decided yet what we want to do with this wiki. But all these aside, this is a fun place to come full of interesting people. What more can we hope for? Editor at CPOh, Finland! Why? 06:38, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • The problem we have on this site is one the one hand, it is fairly well established that the site is for debunking things like creationism, fundamentalist religious dogma, health quackery, and conspiracy theories. But there seems to be a majority of the mobocracy who also think this means taking heavily politicized sides on such things as: political parties, politicians, economics, gun control, and international trade. Therein lies problem #1 with the mobocracy in a nutshell. What is this site really for? If it is for enforcing "progressive wing of the Democratic Party" dogma, just openly say so and quit pretending to be only about debunking fundamentalism and quackery. The other problem is there is no clear understanding of what sort of lulz belong on the site. The mainspace is full of funny articles and jokes. Some users move some of them to funspace, arbitrarily, with no discussion, but when I move something I get yelled at. Somebody explain to me the difference between a clearly silly article on "duct tape" and a clearly silly article on "freedom fries". Those were two of the more memorable things from the homeland security hysteria of the early 00's. I associate the two closely with each other since they came from the same time and context. Why is one mainspace-worthy and the other not? (It seems to me we had this same discussion with lulzy categories a while back and it went nowhere.) Secret Squirrel 17:51, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Couldn't you have achieved more by asking that "for example" question at the duct tape talk page, and engaging the person who moved it, rather than by moving another article in revenge? As far the Second Amendment (gun control...) article, it was an "argument by article creation", has never been very stable, and has been "mission-tagged" for ages. In terms of political "balance", I created several "liberal X" articles to deal with "conservative X" articles fairly; and I often delete the word "conservative" when clearly "fundamentalist" was what was intended. PS, I associate duct tape (in that context) with plastic sheeting, and freedom fries with hot dogs and liberty cabbage. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:30, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I think SS has a point about the political nature of RW. We clearly are politicized now, whether we ever intended to be or not, so we may as well be open about it. Politics has become part of our mission, quite probabably more so than anything to do with debunking pseudoscience. New3.pngPink(Tinker) 23:56, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
(reply to the post above yours) The article wasn't moved in revenge, it was moved because it looked to me like a "now I have an example of what sort of article goes in funspace, I know of another very similar one that should be moved there too." At the time, the freedom fries article was entirely snark with hardly even any factual content. RA didn't create the freedom fries article in the first place so I am not sure why you would read revenge into this. Secret Squirrel 01:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I created the freedom fries article. A year ago there weren't that many articles on RW. and 80% of the articles were half-serious, half-snark, like Homicide bombing. That's what I thought this wiki was, just a parody site where we are allowed to be overtly biased and political to get in the face of Conservapedia. If I want to learn about actual court cases touching on gun control or gay rights I'd go to Wikipedia. But that was then. We're moving the freedom fries stuff into the cellar with our crazy aunt because we want to be a respectable wiki now. Francine 10:17, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

No - but alternatives are worse[edit]

  • I for one, react poorly to persons "having authority" - I tend to say "well, if that's what you wanna do, I'm going, 'bye!" There's one or two people on here that I would find it impossible to cede any authority to. If the creationists, for example, did gain a majority, I don't think that anyone would expect Trent (the final arbiter!) to allow any take over. SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:18, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Susan: But that's our current system. The point of having rules is to have something to refer to without it coming down to one person's authority, and the personal conflicts associated with them. New3.pngPink(Mink) 06:25, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Yup! & it works, by and large! The rules would have to be agreed by the mob - so where's the difference? SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:32, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    No, the rules would be agreed by the sysops (and nuts to this "sysops are janitors" bollocks) New3.pngPink(55) 06:49, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Sysops = just about everyone (every regular editor) so it's still a mobocracy. SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:54, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Susan, any community has people in authority. So does ours. The question is how you select those people and which limits are placed on them. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 06:59, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    As scum rises to the surface - so authority becomes tacit. As long as I can say "Stuff you" (not that I ever would to you AK) I'm happy. When someone has official powers of censorship, I rebel. SusanG  ContribsTalk 07:03, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Why would anyone have "official powers of censorship"? I've no idea what you're talking about now. New3.pngPink(???) 07:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • One potential problem that I see with the mobocracy is that any group of individuals with an agenda could join the site in large numbers, become members of the mobocracy, and turn it to their ends. Granted there are no signs of this actually happening, but it is a potential problem. I can think of no simple solution to the question though.--Bobbing up 06:11, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

If not, is there anything better?[edit]

Yes - suggestions[edit]

  • Editor at CPOh, Finland! Why? for Leader of Rationalwiki. (Editor at CPOh, Finland! Why? 06:09, 6 October 2008 (EDT))
    Cut the Lulz please: trying to be serious! SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:12, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Wasn't I serious in my suggestion? Editor at CPOh, Finland! Why? 06:34, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Actual rules, like Wikipedia has -- ones that are designed to maintain the equilibrium of the site in the absence of any/all of the core members. Clear instructions for block times and vandal bin protocol. Limits on what can be allowed in each mainspace, rather than arguing about each article seperately. And more. New3.pngPink(Still tired) 06:15, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Rules require enforcers who's gonna be the police? SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:21, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    Everyone. It won't come down to someone dictating what is correct (which is what we do now, I might add). New3.pngPink(ECs. ECs everywhere)
    So - it's still a mobocracy! SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:33, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    1. It wasn't a mobocracy to start with.
    2. No. Now we're asserting out opinions as policy (see the fiasco that is the vote to block TK), whereas ideally we would have regulations written down to address these issues. New3.pngPink(No no no no no no no no no no no!) 06:43, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    1: agreed
    2: It aint bust - so don't fix it! SusanG  ContribsTalk 06:55, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    I respectfully assert that it is broken. How broken must it be before we take action? Power would rest with the same essential community as before, it would be simply be a lot more efficient. New3.pngPink(Link) 07:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I agree with Pink that a few more guidelines (not necessarily hard & fast rules) as agree by the community/mobocracy, would lead to fewer conflicts. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:54, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
As far as the "broken" thing - what, exactly is broken? That RA and I didn't agree on a cat scheme and mucked up RC for a while revert warring over four articles? Ironically, that discussion turned into this one, which is fun but whatever it does, is unlikely to resolve the original "conflict". That conflict, of course, could probably be easily resolved if a few more people who are really into the site's cat structure chimed in. ħumanUser talk:Human 16:32, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Actually I have been trying to understand the cat question but I can't quite follow it. Susan attempted to explain it here: RationalWiki:Categories but my aged, alcohol-damaged brain isn't up to it. Any chance of an expansion of the issues?--Bobbing up 16:45, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
In a nutshell, the minor revert war was over whether articles on people should be directly in the "people" cat, when all the "types of people" (like scientists or authors, say) categories are in "people". IOW, a tempest in a teapot. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:25, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Human: don't be disingenuous. Your disagreement with RA is only one instance of a great many where our rules do not give adequate guidance. If minor disagreements already cause such heated arguments, how on earth do you expect to cope with disagreements on a much larger scale? RW won't always be small enough to run things like a treehouse club. New3.pngPink(Fink) 00:00, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Pink: don't lie. Seriously. "a great many"??? Name three in the last three months. You make it sound like this site is forever on the precipice of collapsing due to internal dissent. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:33, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
No, I think you've misread me slightly :) I said it's one of a great many "instances where our rules do not give adequate guidance". I wasn't talking about arguments, as you apparently thought, but rather areas where there is insufficient guidance. Examples of that are given in pretty much every post I've made on this page. New3.pngPink(Link) 00:47, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
You haven't actually given a single example of anything anywhere on this page, as of this posting. "Examples" consist of naming names and offering difflinks. You're just wasting everyone's time, really, except for those of us who enjoy pointless discussions for the pleasure they themselves bring. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:17, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Oh, I haven't given a single example, have I? Anywhere on this page? As of your posting? Is that so? Well, gee, Mr Powell, let's count them!
1.AKjeldsen's block of Susan in the Kip the Dip incident (,
2.The lack of procedure surrounding TK's block (,
3.Human's disagreement with RA over the categoriation system (
4.Teresita's confusion over what counts as vandalism, causing her to interpret harmless gestures as personal attacks ( -- scroll down to 28th of Sep)
I make that as four. Is four the same as zero? Is it, Human? You really are a shameless liar when you're afraid you won't get your own way, aren't you? Why don't you grow up and debate like an civilised human being? New3.pngPink(Link) 02:45, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Reluctant as I am to stick my finger in this fire, I think a response is necessary. I don't really think that the examples you have quoted are really representative of the daily life of the site - indeed they are some of the least representative.

  • AKjeldsen's block of Susan: A highly unusual act to which Susan took some umbrage at the time. However (and taking the risk of putting words in her mouth) I do not presently see her as a vociferous activist for changing blocking policies. Quite the opposite in fact.
'Twas a thing done in the heat of the moment & is now forgotten. SusanG  ContribsTalk
  • The lack of procedure surrounding TK's block: I don't really think it is reasonable to use TK as an example of anything. However if another TH-like individual turns up I suspect that our experiences with him will have left us better able to cope.
The exception that proves the rule: TK was a bloody vandalising TROLL SusanG  ContribsTalk
  • Human's disagreement with RA over the categoriation system: This episode lead to the debate we are presently having - something which can only be for the better.
More a personality thing than a rule thing, methinks. SusanG  ContribsTalk 11:32, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Teresita's confusion over what counts as vandalism: For various reasons I am reluctant to make a specific response, but I think that many would agree that Teresita is not an average user and perhaps her reactions should not be taken as a yardstick.
My fault for assuming that T was more familiar with us than was in fact the case. SusanG  ContribsTalk 11:32, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

In conclusion, while these events undeniably happened I don't really think they demonstrate continuous daily difficulties. Indeed, the fact that the first two examples occurred well over six months ago would tend to indicate their rarity.--Bobbing up 11:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

No - reasons[edit]


  • We’re the most successful of 4 rational wikis that I know of. We’re doing some things right. There may be ways of improving things further. Fundy Conservative Christians won’t take over this site unless fundy Conservative Christian evangelists get to Tmtoulouse. I don’t think that will happen. If that happens we’ll all move over to another wiki, perhaps found a new one. Proxima Centauri 06:13, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Are they like zombies? If I get bitten do I turn? *shudder* Scary, scary.... 14:25, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Areas where rules/regulations/laws are required[edit]


We certainly need to properly incorporate the vandal blocking instructions with the vandal brake instructions. But I'm not sure that we're not going beyond the bounds of this debate.--Bobbing up 12:58, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I disagree with that and think TK is a bad example to use. For starters, there was a lot of personal history between he and some of the other regulars (I hated the bastard myself, but that was just me) and he was intentionally here to cause trouble (not to mention he had a history of making personal threats, "reporting" users to their bosses and posting personal information). A much better example would be Jinx. He vandalizes, and we block him for a short time in response. We also have pretty decent abilities to deter long term vandals... TK is always brought up and he was the obvious exception to the rule. I think the blocking policy, for the most part is fine. I would need a non TK debacle before I accepted this as a problem. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 13:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Why? TK is a fine example of an area with insufficient regulations. Read this, especially the "Conclusion" section. Do you really think there won't be examples like this in the future? How are we going to deal with them? New3.pngPink(Pink) 00:07, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
That's just it though, the TK incident is one of how many users that went overdrive, and that was because of the personal history. I don't know about you, but if I had some random anonymous user physically calling my boss and tattling about my computer use, I might be a little less friendly as well. On top of that, TK was always trying to play users against each other, just as he did at Conservapedia and Wikipedia. I would like to challenge again, find me any other user that we've had TK level issues with. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:17, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I wasn't saying he shouldn't have been blocked. I was saying that guideline for blocking (maybe "attacks based on editors' private lives warrant a block of two months" might be a start) would have enabled us to deal with the problem he posed much more quickly. New3.pngPink(Link) 01:22, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Actually, the real problem during TK incident was the rule in place. At the time, we blocked people based on the Fibonacci Series. What started the whole thing was an editor got pissed at TK and blocked him for some incredible amount of time (might have even been infinite) anyway, another editor who hadn't dealt with TK unblocked him and reblocked him based on the next number in the series. That started the whole thing... Again, TK is a horrible example, and I haven't seen any real blocking issues since I started here (approx. May 2006... Maybe June or July) SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 02:09, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Vandal making[edit]

  • We could do with a proper classification of a vandal. Not everyone who vandalises is one. And we need guidelines for when it's appropriate to let people out of the vandal group. New3.pngPink(Link) 07:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    I don't see what you mean by "not everyone who vandalizes is a vandal... How could they not be? and if they are not a vandal, they can always prove themselves (or even contact a sysop or bureaucrats) SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 13:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    What Sir Chuck said said.--Bobbing up 13:15, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    See here. New3.pngPink(*rests case*) 15:24, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    That clearly wasn't vandalism, it was an improvement! Also, just as TK was our pet dragon, Bohdan was our pet vandal, til he got bored of it and became a Danish Scientist. ħumanUser talk:Human 15:55, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    We engage in casual vandalism all the time. At present, there's no way for a new user to know the difference between teasing and disruptive behaviour. New3.pngPink(Pinkness poisoning) 16:03, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
That's what kicked off half the fuss with Teresita wasn't it? While it's possible to learn the difference, it's definitely not apparent to someone who lurks infrequently and has just signed up. Particularly if they've only made a small number of edits and comments before getting handed sysop priverlages, told where the help file is and blocked with a snarky comment. It's just not immediately obvious that those things aren't serious here. ArmondikoVpathetic 16:57, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I learned better, eventually but the reputation as a whining bitch never goes away. Francine 17:07, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Don't be silly :) No one thinks you're a whining bitch. New3.pngPink(Garlic) 17:10, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) I can't say I'm too informed on this, I guess I missed the Teresita drama... and I think I'm glad I did... But anyway, a few disclaimers about our style of humor to the welcome template and that should fix things... I mean, I picked up pretty quickly (but then I also spam Penguin pictures.,....) SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 17:49, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

We can't load the welcome template down with warnings about things that shouldn't happen in the first place. And in any case, what is it going to say? "Warning: We don't know what we're doing"? New3.pngPink(Irritated) 00:09, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
There's no loading down at all, just put in something along the lines of "blocks are frequently handed out for no reason in particular." or some such junk.
Our position on humour and joke blocks is included in our RationalWiki:Newcomers guide link which most people include in the welcome template.--Bobbing up 02:35, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, you can lead the horse to the water with respect to that, but it's unfair to say that anyone over-reacting to a block or "not getting" other friendly stabs is at fault because they didn't read though x number of help pages first. ArmondikoVpathetic 02:40, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
The guide is not that long, and I updated it after the Teresita incidents.--Bobbing up 02:53, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
In which case, I may have missed the update as I haven't looked at it since then. Anyway, we seem to be making more constructive progress at this top half of the page than the bottom half... ArmondikoVpathetic 03:07, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps we should edit the "Oh noes you have been blocked" thing in MW: to clearly state the possibility of the block being humorous? I would also really like it to tell the editor how long the block is for (sometimes I get blocked mid-edit, and if it's a short one, it's easier to just wait it out than to go digging around to see what's up). Also, perhaps one more "block reason" would be good - something like "new editor/new sysop hazing, you've been accepted by the swarm!" or something? ħumanUser talk:Human 12:48, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
"Friendly block" or similar was added recently. There may be others worth putting on the list. ArmondikoVpathetic 16:54, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


  • Yes. We already have too many. Minimum edit counts and a voting process would be the first things to implement, I think. New3.pngPink(Link) 07:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • I've overdone it on this. A bit. SusanG  ContribsTalk 08:35, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • It doesn't really bother me SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 13:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • I think the "everyone except Fre is a sysop" thing that has developed is pretty cool. It makes it incredibly tough for any "real" vandal to do any damage. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:59, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
    I sort of disagree with that. It makes it tough for the predictable, uncreative vandals to do damage. However, it also makes it incredibly easy for the *real* real vandals to do a hell of a lot of damage if they're willing to invest the minimum amount of energy required to be made sysop. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 15:08, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Certainly another potential problem AKjeldsen, and it should be a fairly easy one to exploit. Maybe when it does we'll have to tighten up.--Bobbing up 15:15, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • While the current "process" seems a tad random, it doesn't cause any problems. Whether this will always be the case is another question.--Bobbing up 15:05, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
It's a paradox that Andy preaches that there would be less problems with crime if everyone carried a gun and then doesn't apply the analogy to promoting sysops, while here the majority consensus is that carrying guns is bad idea but giving every Tom (Moore), Dick (Turpis) or Terry(sita) a lethal mop and bucket is the right thing to do. [No offence meant to those three, it's just a figure of speech.] Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science. 15:24, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Just an FYI on this point, there is nothing a sysops can do that can not be easily undone by another sysops. That is why it works out, and why the gun analogy probably doesn't quiet work. If sysops could do more permanent damage or damage that is hard to clean up more care would need to be taken. Hence why I don't care about sysops, but do care about crates. tmtoulouse 16:02, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Actually, can't sysops wipe the pageviews of an article? Is that restorable?
Anyway, I think the issue is more one of authority. New3.pngPink(Prepares garlic) 16:38, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Honest question: Have there been examples of where people have been sysopped who shouldn't have been? I.e. have any sysops gone on to damage the site or the relationships between the editors here? Bondurant 17:44, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
No, the worst that has ever happened is way back when Heart of Gold went a bit loopy and got himself de-sysopped. That couldn't possibly have been predicted, and other than that being basically trusting hasn't let us down so far. --JeevesMkII 18:02, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • This seems to have been the only thing that has grabbed my attention so far. I have a rule of thumb, if you have been here a few weeks, made at least 50 edits (even if they have been all TWIGOCP) and after clicking on a few at random you don't appear to have vandalised the site I sysop you. I also then keep an eye on them for a while, so far nobody I sysoped has done anything that would earn a desysopping (deleting established articles, blocking non-sysops or so forth). I see no reason to change this. - User For best results always render PNG 22:26, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I also used Pi Guy's process, although I don't need to anymore, since everyone else does it (ie, I don't get there first...). No regrets on any sysopship I stuck people with. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:35, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
That looks like sensible criteria, although we risk establishing something like Aschlafly's 90/10 rule I think you should limit these fifty-ish contributions to non-talk edits or at least a good balance between the talk/mainspace/WIGO CP/blog/clog/world contributions (non talk). It also comes out of the blue occaisionally, this talk of "demotion" is an injoke that hits and confuses you if you haven't seen it before.
It might be sensible to change it to having people ask to become a sysop first. Then, having read the relavent pages on how to handle wandals, categories etc. "demote" them. This is particularly useful if this overall discussion leads to more organisation and clearer policy. You don't have to refuse anyone who applies so you still keep the ethos of sysops being normal editors with the ability to do much more effective housekeeping. But, it's then clearer who has this position and probably helps to introduce them to the site more effectively. Then send out a list of the demotions via the intercom and regulars can stop by the usertalk page to say hi. One of the problems I think (and you kind of get this with any site) is that older members forget what it's like to be new members! The way a wiki works as a forum is a scary and complicated place until you're used to it. ArmondikoVpathetic 02:52, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I think the "having people ask first" idea is excellent. I allows an distinction between sysops and editors, and would result in a lot less "sysop bloat" than we have now. New3.pngPink(:)) 03:15, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
The important thing to note is to make it very clear how, where and when users should do the asking. Five minutes after signing up: no. After 500 constructive edits: Dude, what took you so long?!? Know what I mean? ArmondikoVpathetic 03:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Those sound like rules to me! Burn her!!
Yes, that might be sensible ^_^ New3.pngPink(Rules!) 03:30, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, it certainly wouldn't be a rule and wouldn't promote the idea of sysop being superior user, just a more long-term or established user. This is as it is now, with several minor changes; it'd just be a way to A) Keep tabs on who is a sysop and B) get said users more involved, particularly early in their "career" C) (possibly, as the last thing I want is anything resembling a "90/10" rule) encourage more constructive editing. ArmondikoVpathetic 03:36, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

(unindent)Also, would it be possible to ask anyone given sysop status, at the time of demotion, to try to make ca.10 edits a week that generally clean up the site, you know, visit a "to do" or "wanted" page and pick a task. Emphasis on the ask, it certainly wouldn't mean anyone doing less than 10 edits to nothing each week would lose the position, it could just be a guideline average amount of work that if every demoted user did, would help the site run smoother. ArmondikoVpathetic 03:41, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I like the idea, but I'm not sure how much effect it would have? Maybe we could actually post automated stats somewhere (I spy a future bot?) so that people lagging behind can feel duly sheepish. New3.pngPink(Interested) 03:45, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Take my sysopship away now, then, because I'm not into the public shaming thing. In all seriousness, I'm a relatively sheepish person by nature (I often start to edit a page and decide half-way through that what I'm saying isn't worthwhile) and a public leaderboard, especially with some sort of implied requirement and/or embarrassment attached, would be all it would take to send me back into lurking only. Not that you'd be missing much, but still, I think it'd be uncomfortable system overall. --Arcan ¡ollǝɥ 04:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Disagree with asking sysops to make regular edits. Too much like Ed Poor's writing assignments (same ballpark anyway). Nothing wrong with having a lot of sysops who only show up occasionally. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 08:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I also disagree. Sysops have differing calls on their time at different times. Furthermore monitoring and implementing such a thing would be a real pain.--Bobbing up 10:53, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I think this would be a really bad idea, particularly if we start recording who does what. We may as well have a conservapedia style contest before we go down that path.--DamoHi 10:58, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
'Tis verily an load of bovine manure. SusanG  ContribsTalk 11:25, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Suggestion: Sysop template[edit]

New users get a Welcome template on their talk page which links them to contents & guidelines. I think we should build a similar template to put on the talk page when someone is sysoped - e.g. "Comiserations: You have been demoted to the rank of Sysop" with links to a few policy pages regarding their new abilities - blocking policy, dealing with vandals, deleting pages, protecting pages & why we don't do it, etc. It would be kind of second welcome thing, marking the initiation into sysopship, but also help them understand how to be a sysop & what not to do with their new powers. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 08:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

That's quite a good suggestion. I nominate Weaseloid to prepare a sample. :-) --Bobbing up 10:55, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
That's a very good idea. Right now the demoting 'crat has to remember to add a link to the new sysop guide, if they remember it exists, and if they can remember what its called. A nice simple template name like "new sysop" or "mop and bucket" or even just "mop" or "sysop" would be great. It should, of course, include balloons and other adornments. Perhaps we can enlist JM to come over and help us make it pretty? ħumanUser talk:Human 12:43, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • I disagree that we "have too many [sysops]" and that we have "sysop bloat". What we do, as a site, is trust all our regular editors with the extra buttons. Way back when, Trent made it so every editor had "rollback", as I recall, an early step in this direction. "Too many" and "bloat" imply there is somehow not enough of something to go around, or that there is something wrong with 5% of every user name ever registered being sysops. One result - I now revert vandalism more often on wikipedia than here! (It's always fixed before I ever see it on here). ħumanUser talk:Human 18:42, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


  • See above. New3.pngPink(Link) 07:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
  • At the moment we seem to have sysops where other wikis have confirmed editors & bureaucrats (thanks for the spelling correction GK) where other wikis have sysops.

conflict resolution[edit]

Hmmm... Conflict resolution is a toughie, because of the size of the RW editorship and relatively flat heirarchial current structure here ... I think the sentiment is good, but difficult to enforce.Sterilesnore! 09:17, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, yes and no. In order to have a conflict resolution process you simply need to appoint an impartial arbiter. This can be any editor agreed on by the parties to the conflict. I think that guidelines for conflict resolution would be all that is needed.-- Antifly Now with 50% less retirement! 10:17, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Conflicts over article content usually work themselves out as long as people avoid edit warring by opening a discussion if their edits are reverted & seeking a consensus (i.e. appealing to mobocracy). Personal conflicts are always gonna be harder to resolve. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 10:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Actually, the lack of an "impartial" arbiter was a problem in the past. Actually, if I have time (later in the week: Mondays are too busy), I might put together recommended guidelines for conflict resolution). Sterilesnore! 11:05, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
However, the question is how you determine what "The Mob" actually wants. The risk as I see it is that on a certain issue, you could have a handful of editors who agree on one interpretation, a smaller number or a single editor who disagrees, and then the vast silent majority of editors who either don't give a shit or don't even know the discussion is taking place. Should the majority on that local article or talk page be able to justify their interpretation with reference to "The Mob" or to "consensus" when in most cases, you don't actually have any input from 95% of the users. (See the discussion re: Clinton and Reagan on Talk:Chickenhawk for a possible example of this.) In effect, is a simple lack of disagreement from The Mob sufficient to decide that they support something? Or to put the issue in another perspective, can a "local" majority of editors put themselves forward as representative of The Mob as such? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 11:04, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Not giving a shit is expressing a preference. The preference is abstention. As to editors not knowing what is going on, I think that a voting period of a couple of days should be sufficient to allow all interested parties to voice their opinions. Also, perhaps this would be a good use for the intercom. The problem is that we will never have a vote where every registered user makes an edit. Given that this is true, how do we tell from looking at a talk page whether or not everyone who wants to vote has voted? The system will never be perfect. I think the best answer is to have a formal vote proceedure whereby a vote duration is specified and an annoucement is made via the intercom.-- Antifly Now with 50% less retirement! 11:20, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Sure, we could do that. Formal voting would take us significantly away from a "mobocracy", however. I'm also not sure that voting is a particularly good way to do conflict resolution. It's much like a court trial in that only one side wins and the other loses, and that doesn't really "resolve" the conflict. It should at least be reserved as a last resort. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 11:34, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Oh, I didn't realize I was suggesting a new model. For some reason when I read your post I thought that you were talking about votes... I agree that formal voting is potentially not a good way to resolve disputes, and certainly should be used as a last resort. My main point was just that the problem of deciding when someone's silence is voluntary or indicental is necessarily intractible.-- Antifly Now with 50% less retirement! 11:45, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Agreed voting should be avoided unless we come to really big potential schisms. I think that a lot of content disputes can be settled Wikipedia-style - i.e. based on verifiability of facts first & foremost, & on consensus (i.e. reasoned mobocracy through debate on talk pages). Obviously we are not NPOV like Wikipedia, so disputes over the POV of articles tend to occur. These can usually be settled in favour of the general POV of the site as there is a lot of common ground. If there are issues where the POV of an article upsets a large number of editors (say, for example, an article about religion presented in a way which some theists here object to, or some atheists), then in those situations we should probably settle in favour of NPOV as a kind of default fallback position to avoid causing resentment among the community. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 12:08, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) I've been involved in a few conflicts, one or two of which required a cool down block, but other than that, I haven't had many problems with conflict resolution. However, I do agree that their should be some type of fallback system just in case. The most important thing, however, is that people who aren't involved in the conflict should refrain from jumping in and adding their two cents, 98% of the time it just makes things worse SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 13:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Disagree. If they're ongoing personal conflicts, then maybe, but those aren't productive anyway. But any kind of discussion or dispute about article content, POV, categories, etc. should be open for anybody to comment. That's how consensus is reached. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 13:34, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I assume you mean about not chiming in... But it depends on why you're adding in. If you coming to the defense of a friend, or just for spite against an editor you don't like, you're not helping matters at all. Now, if you have a legit interest in the article and have an opinion, that's completely different. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 14:05, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Mostly I mean about having a real interest in the content (& I'm thinking here mostly about article talk page conflicts). Also, if there's a conflict between a couple of editors, taking sides doesn't help, but stepping in to suggest a compromise or try to bring it back the discussion back to productive territory can help to avoid it spiralling out of control. It also kindof depends who it is - as I'm a relatively new editor, I tend to stay out of conflicts involving some of the long-time editors as I know there are probably well established dynamics among & between them which I don't really want to get caught up in as I don't know the full history. But most discussions should be open to everyone. As a rule of thumb, if it's a dispute on an article talk page or WIGO:talk etc, anyone's comment should be welcome; if it's a dispute on user talk pages, it's usually best not to get involved if it doesn't concern you directly. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:20, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
While I agree that not stepping into conflicts on other people's talk pages is a good idea which prevents escalation brilliantly, it does mean that you could have arguments rage for ages with polarised opinions going at loggerheads for ages. There's got to be a time when someone has the ability to step in and say "enough is enough, time for an outside opinion to make this more constructive". Same thing could help on this page, i.e., inviting new users or recently "demoted" ones to make general comments, in their own section at the bottom, without the bias/loyalties/habits that an established editor will invariably have. Possibly with a (informal) ban on people commenting on these "outside" opinions? ArmondikoVpathetic 03:28, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


Style policies[edit]

I think that there should be more discussion about issues of site style & protocol resulting in a few more guidelines as agreed by mob consensus. E.g. the Footnotes thing was changed with minimal discussion a few days ago; this debate seems to have started over a feud about categories. This is the stuff we need to talk about. It might look like petty small stuff but I think there would be fewer conflicts if there were some guidelines on it, & places to discuss changes or suggestions to the guidelines. But the systems we have for this at the moment aren't really working, or else nobody is taking enough interest in these things. E.g. I have a bugbear that there aren't enough redirects, which makes some things hard to find or link to, & results in a lot of duplicate articles. I tried to bring it up on RationalWiki:Serious Business which I guess is supposed to be like our Village Pump, but nobody has noticed it or bothered to respond. I think that more policy pages (not hard rules but guidelines for things like this) & discussions which the community takes interest in could improve these issues. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:51, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Redirects definitely should be discussed by the whole site. Some people tend to look upon them as convenient things to link to, when ideally they should never be linked to at all -- they're for people typing in the search engine.
Also, I think your comment on Serious Business went unnoticed because few people check there, and it's not exactly in regular rotation on RC</sheepish> New3.pngPink(I think WIGO is our Pump, sadly) 07:57, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Yeah, I'm horrible about checking serious business (maybe we should have a few sysops and bureaucrats responsible for it a month, you know like a rolling leader's hat or something. Anyway, I think some redirects are fine, for example, I created one for McCain and Obama. but we don't need to be Wikipedia. We should only have redirects for things that an average person might search for. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 13:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I'm not sure I was entirely aware of "serious business" until now, but looking at the suggestion regarding redirects, I think it's completely sensible to outline what they're needed for. I've seen a few redirect pages deleted because they only have "redirect" in them with one contribution; not sure if this is someone trying to clean up or a bot clearing out redundant articles. Media Wiki provides this feature for a reason (!), it's certainly worth allowing them and having plenty as the search engine currently seems to be useless at finding certain articles unless you know the exact title. I don't know why anyone would object to having them, they're certainly useful as a wiki site grows. ArmondikoVpathetic 17:06, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Policy Pages[edit]

The entire problem seems to be that we don't have certain policy pages. But I would point to the operation of this page as a perfect example of the benefits of the "mobocracy" (a misnomer, but who cares?) It appears a firm consensus has developed that most everyone likes the way things work except that there hasn't been definitions of certain policies and things. We very seldom have people who just ignore the rules, it's just that for a lot of things we don't have any guidelines. This page itself is a great proof of the effectiveness of the current system: a problem is proposed, a rational discussion occurs, and a general consensus and conclusion appears outlining the solution. We just need to decide on the policy pages and create them, and then let the same process work out exactly what their contents shall be. I would suggest starting from the user guides and sysop guides and branching out from those main pages.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 08:50, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

Maybe we could assemble here a list of general principles? What are some things that we can all agree would be a good idea?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 08:53, 6 October 2008 (EDT)

  • When you make an article, check to make sure it isn't redundant. If it's an article on Plymouth Rock, maybe the page on Pilgrims already addresses what you wanted to say, and so you should just make a redirect.
  • When you create a new article, try to create redirect pages for it. If it's an article on Oranges, a good redirect might be the singular "Orange."
Some issues of this type are already covered at Help:New Article. It is possible that that we already have more guidelines than people know about.--Bobbing up 12:52, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
There's also RationalWiki:Editor's_index, which I just found totally by accident. SusanG  ContribsTalk 13:01, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
As a relatively new editor (sysop - gak), "guidelines" are not the same as "rules", and "really, we mean it" should be reserved for what you really do mean... That is, around here some things are like "we like this if you can", and some things need a stronger sense of "this really makes wiki work". For what it's worth, some things I'd like to have seen (see) as a new editor might include: when to make a new page (vs., just deleting the red link); what tones should new pages have (humor or semi serious or snark or totally serious), and how to blend those tones if you think a mix of many voices matters; should you put the CATS in, or should a 3rd party who's been here awhile put them in as a "review" (by the way, categories started this whole recent fight, it seems... and that's good. cause i have no idea exactly how many cats people want on things... is Humor also "art"? if i put something in Chemistry, does it also belong in science? and is "mythology" different from, a sub set of, or a super set of "myths and legends". Cats here are very much like cats. they really do do just as they want. ;-) Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot""We are all born mad. Some remain so." 15:48, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
Categories here have confused the hell out of me too. The important thing to ask is; "Do people use them?". As an editor, the only ones I tend to look at are the short and very short article lists but if I'm having a curious read I sometimes look up what's in each category. ArmondikoVpathetic 17:09, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
I agree with that... Even on Wikipedia I rarely go through the categories. I'm much more likely to read what's wiki-linked in the article itself...I don't know how everyone else works, but I'm not a huge fan of the cat SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 17:51, 6 October 2008 (EDT)
The internal links and any "see also" sections probably get the most traffic I reckon. We're at this piddly middle stage where you can't have broad categories as they'd be too big, with hundreds of articles but you can't have specific ones like on Wikipedia (Category:Mongolian Pop Singers Over 40?) because you'd only have one or two articles in each. ArmondikoVpathetic 02:55, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


These are all quite simple concepts on their own. I think debating them seperately will be more effective. Also, I've noticed that when someone actually proposes something like this, the suggestion is ignored and the conversation eventually runs dry without addressing the ideas themselves. If there are any statements of support/disagreement/clarification for the below issues, can I have them, please? New3.pngPink(Not tired) 00:27, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Clarification of political stance in mission statement (Secret Squirrel)[edit]

Respectfully, this site shouldn't have a political stance beyond equal opportunity ripping of all politicians and all political parties to shreds, and lulz. (This means Clinton is a chickenhawk, folks. Get over it.) Claiming that political stances can be empirically proven as objective truth as EVDebs seems to be, is bullshit and should be treated as the pseudoscience that it is. The last thing the world needs is any more fucking political blogs. Secret Squirrel 00:50, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Dude... really? Still on the chickenhawk thing? Anyway, I don't think "this site" has any type of political bias. Many users are very liberal (I fully admit to this) and I think anyone can take a look around and see that we tend to skew left, but that doesn't mean the site is any more or less bias in one direction or the other. I have no problem with liberals or democrats attacked for stupid things. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:21, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
No to clarification of political stance in mission statement. Consensus of users tends to be mostly towards liberal / left wing, but that's just the political make-up of people on here. There's a big difference between that and actually becoming a specifically left wing site. We should criticise both sides of the political spectrum for the same kinds of things. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 06:50, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
As much as it pains me to admit this, I seem to be one of the more conservative editors still around. (Meaning, of course, that I'm a nice, liberal Democrat.) Having been in little skirmishes with a few different people on political issues (globalization, Chavez, etc.)...I don't want to see a definitive political ideology for RW. I'm fine debating (or not debating) as I see fit; even if the definitive ideology was to be center-left, rather than extreme liberalism, I don't know that I'd want to be here anymore. (However--some political stances are better supported by political science and economics than others, and I don't think it's wrong to post that if there is proof.) Researcher 08:48, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Debate and final agreement on the matter of categorisation (Pink)[edit]

This one is new (unlike the others), but I think it's become fairly important. New3.pngPink(Link) 00:24, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I think that are too many categories, some of them rather vague. But I guess overhauling them would be quite a major task. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 06:53, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Clear rules for blocking (would include length, block message, etc) (Pink)[edit]

We have guidelines, but no one follows them. No harm ensues. PS, we don't do rules. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:36, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

"we don't do rules" -- No, that's what we're debating. And yes, harm has ensued from this inadequate system of rules -- as seen in the Kip the Dip incident (AK's block of Susan) New3.pngPink(Link) 00:43, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
That's it for examples? One HCM incident? How many months ago? I can only think of three or four "situations" that have actually been real problems over, what, 18 months? (TK, HoG, Kip, and a bye on number 4) ħumanUser talk:Human 00:46, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
One incident that nearly caused two founding members of the wiki to leave for good? Oh sure, completely harmless then. You said no harm; my example described relevant harm; you are wrong. New3.pngPink(Link) 00:51, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
How about no blocking at all. 00:56, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I second this idea. I think using the vandal group instead of blocking is a much more efficient way of doing things. Plus, there are much fewer ways the vandal group can disrupt the community when misused. Anyone else want to chime in on this? New3.pngPink(Or pointlessly demand clarification? Anyone?) 01:02, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
"Nearly" - no harm ensued, so you are wrong. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:59, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
It was not "nearly no harm". New3.pngPink(Link) 01:02, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Who were the two "founding members" who "almost quit"? And how do they feel about your using their stories without their participation or knowledge? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:14, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Susan and AK. And if you're going to suggest I ask every subject's opinion on being used as an example, I'm afraid my answer will probably be "get fucked, you pointlessly obtuse wanker". But of course, you wouldn't suggest something like that, so I shall have no need to say it. ^_^ New3.pngPink(A big happy smile!) 02:28, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
(I'm not in any way a founding member (July 07 first edit) SusanG  ContribsTalk 07:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT))
With the vandal brake we can almost forget about blocks.--Bobbing up 02:57, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes, that's a good idea, and it was proffered above, in fact (by some mysterious IP). I think it would be a step forward if we actually disabled the block option, and instead used only the vandal group. New3.pngPink(?) 03:12, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

<Unindentio>I don't think there are (currently) any real problems with blocking. If somebody gives an overly harsh block, then usually another sysop will unblock &/or change it to a shorter block. All I will say is that the RationalWiki:Blocking policy and RationalWiki:Community Standards#Blocking policy pages should be ammended a bit to reflect each other. Currently the good advice about when to block for seconds, minutes, hours & days only appears in the Community Standards page & not in the blocking policy one. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:34, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

The "vandal" group was created to circumvent the issues with blocking dealing with "vandal" type users. I think we have a good feel for that now. The only glitch in the system seems to be the ability to create new accounts to vandalize with. This is curtailed a bit because new accounts are also "braked" but not like vandals. Perhaps I could redo the vandal brake to associate with the IP address and not just the user name.

But vandal blocking is not really that big of a problem on RW, I think we have it worked out. The issue seems to revolve around blocking each other in our traditional fashion but having it get interpreted wrong. It seems to me most of these issues are old and haven't emerged in a while. So I think all we need to do is shore up the vandal brake to make it more effective against persistent vandals, and to emphasize it's use over that of actual blocking. 16:50, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Further to my comment above, I think PDNBTN is also worth remembering. If an editor's first edit or two are wandalous or questionable, they should get a warning & possibly be moved to vandal group, not given a significant block. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:26, 8 October 2008 (EDT)
I don't think anyone gets blocked on the first edit. Clear wandalism just gets reverted doesn't it? ArmondikoVpathetic 14:28, 8 October 2008 (EDT)
I've recently seen a new user given a weighty block after their first edit, & one or two other lesser things I thought were a tiny bit discourteous to n00bs. I don't really wanta dredge up the examples because it shouldn't be about finger-pointing & blame. But I think it's something to avoid. We don't want to start getting paranoid & hostile about every new editor like some other site does. Better to humour the n00bs, revert what needs to be reverted, give friendly warnings & only dish out the blocks if they make a habit of causing trouble. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:49, 8 October 2008 (EDT)

Rules against editors asserting other editors "are wrong" based on no difflinks or reality whatsoever (Human)[edit]

I disagree that there should be such silly "rules". ħumanUser talk:Human 00:59, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

There should certainly be a rule against pointless disruption of discussion. Was that what you meant? New3.pngPink(Link) {{User:Pink/sig15| 01:02, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
No, I was suggesting that in the several places some people have made claims about the way this wiki "works", they have never offered evidence of any kind. (thus far, although promises of such were offered in a section below, I think?) ħumanUser talk:Human 02:13, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Clear rules for when a user may be promoted to sysop/bureaucrat/vandal (Pink)[edit]

"Impartial arbiter" for conflict resolution (Antifly)[edit]

We've tried to draft Assfly over to our site many times. He ignores us. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:41, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

"content disputes can be settled Wikipedia-style - i.e. based on verifiability of facts first & foremost, & on consensus (i.e. reasoned mobocracy through debate on talk pages)" (Weaseloid)[edit]

Clarification: this is pretty much how things work out already (a lot of the time, anyway), so wouldn't need a change of rules as such, but it might be worth setting it down on a project page as guidelines for settling content disputes.

If there's a dispute about whether or not some piece of article content is factual, it should be settled based on the evidence. If the evidence is inconclusive & its factual accuracy is questionable, then the article should acknowledge that. So this side of things has more to do with facts than with consensus (e.g. if something is established to be a myth, then we can't pretend that it's a fact, even if it would help what we're trying to say in an article).

If there's a dispute about whether article content is apropriate or about the POV of an article, we should try to reach a consensus on the talk page through discussion, compromise, etc. Anyone who is interested in the article subject can be involved in this discussion. The decision might not be unanimous, but should go with the general consensus (if there is one). If there is no consensus - e.g. the POV of the article is objectionable to some users (as happens with some articles on religion, politics, etc.) - then the best way to settle it is to adopt a relatively neutral POV - e.g. the article should discuss both sides of the subject (pros & cons or support & opposition). We don't have a NPOV policy like Wikipedia does (& we shouldn't adopt one) but NPOV is a good fallback or compromise position to avoid creating articles that alienate some of our editors. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

  • I support this method, for the record. Although it could do with some clarification. New3.pngPink(Link) 01:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
See above for clarification. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • "Consensus" on this site - that's a joke, "consensus" only seems to work one way. Secret Squirrel 01:14, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

"Some type of fallback system" for conflict resolution (SirChuckB)[edit]

The biggest problem I can foresee with a fallback system is that either we have to appoint a panel or give someone ridiculous powers. Trent doesn't have time to babysit Andy Style and unless we want to hand the keys over to one group, I don't see how this would work... The only thing I can suggest would be like a five person panel (voted in by the site) who could make final decisions, but that would only work as long as everyone is willing to abide by that, which I don't see happening. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:25, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

While I can't speak for everyone I wouldn't mind a five user panel (assuming we can verify they aren't five socks of the same person :P) that would have final say if something massive happens. I can see why people don't like having the authority, but I have a few suggestions that might compromise it. I can envision it rarely being used but when it is used, it'll be because it was important or absolutely necessary (see various incidents, least of which was the Gitmo thing which blew up out of proportion rather quickly).
To prevent too much power, you'd just rotate the members regularly. My research group puts two people each week on "lab duty", where they're responsible for clearing the place up, ordering new chemicals, setting up vacuum lines etc. Basically, if there's a mess and no one claims it, it's the responsibility of the people on duty, no questions asked because the priority is safe and clean working practice rather than rooting out who's to blame between 14 people. So I'd see this hypothetical "panel" working in the same way, although not with the same exacting details, obviously. Also bare in mind that, in my view of it working, this "panel" would only convene if requested by someone NOT on it or recently on it. ArmondikoVpathetic 03:59, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Opposed to panel or other arbitration. Too bureaucratic & not in the spirit of mobocracy. Everybody's opinion should be equally valid. A panel might be necessary later if this site becomes a lot bigger, but I don't think we need it yet. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:46, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Opposed to panel or other arbitration. At least in the manner proposed. We are a group of volunteers who may be available at some times but not at others. We cannot really nominate people to take up this role at our convenience.--Bobbing up 10:59, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Rules for redirects and duplicate articles (Weaseloid)[edit]

I think redirects, as brought up above, are a good idea. Not zillions, but the obvious plural/singular, verb/noun/adjective/expletive versions are useful. Rulz? See my suggestion below. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:43, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Rulz for redirects good.--Bobbing up 11:55, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Not "rules" as such. Just some optional guidelines for good practises with redirects. I put in quite a lot of redirects where I find them missing, but I feel like if a few other people got in the habit of doing it too, there would be a lot more of them around, which makes searching & linking easier. But it shouldn't be forced on everyone as a rule. Re existing duplicate articles, I think there should be a page we can list them on when we find them (if there isn't one already) so that we have a record of articles that need merging - do we have a procedure for proposed merges? weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 11:59, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I am not aware for any page for proposed mergers, and I'm pretty sure we don't have one. If I see a page which I think needs merging I put something on the talk page - but I only take action if somebody else comes along and says ",yes" - which isn't that often. This issue seems pretty uncontentious though. What about creating a help page on redirects and seeing if anybody shouts? Once that has been created any further debate could take place there - as this page is a bit big and sometimes tense.--Bobbing up 12:08, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I'm gonna start working on a Help page for redirects. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 13:41, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Great.--Bobbing up 14:00, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


The future project page on redirects is at User:Weaseloid/Redirects. I haven't got v far with writing it as yet, but any comments or suggestions are welcome on the talk page.

Re merging existing duplicate articles, see User:Weaseloid/Duplicate articles - what I suggest is that this be put somewhere (probably in project page space) as a noticeboard for users to highlight duplicate articles. I'll design a template ({{dup}}) which can be put at the top of these articles (similar to Wikipedia's merger proposal template) so editors can see that they have been identified as duplicate articles & can comment on the proposed merge.

Please comment, either here or at User talk:Weaseloid/Duplicate articles, on whether you think is a good / bad idea. If there are no strong objections, I'll set this up as a project page. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:47, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

This is now a project page - RationalWiki:Duplicate articles & there is a template {{dup|---}} for flagging up duplicate articles.
I'm still working on the redirects help page. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 16:29, 8 October 2008 (EDT)
An accomplishment! Behold, the mob works in mysterious ways. Nice work, Weasel! ħumanUser talk:Human 22:19, 8 October 2008 (EDT)

Creation of "Policy Pages" (Tom Moore)[edit]

I'm not big on this "creation" thing you speak of. I prefer accidents of nuclear physics. PS, while the LHC may not create black holes that eat the earth (nom nom), should we be responsible if it creates a number of other universes we don't know about? And can we write their rules? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:44, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

No "Rules" needed (Human)[edit]

I don't see any instance raised in the zillion kB above of how there is anything wrong with how this wiki is "not" run. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:38, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Maybe I should underline them. New3.pngPink(The text is quite small.) 00:52, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Maybe you should, somewhere amidst your assertions, refer to actual situations and actual outcomes. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:00, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Maybe you should actually read what I type? It would probably help, you know. New3.pngPink(Bless) 01:03, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I did, most of it didn't make any sense or was unsupported by evidence. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:21, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I am also not entirely sure that thee new rules would really fix anything which is badly wrong. We do have conflicts, but I think we are getting better at handling them.--Bobbing up 03:01, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Pink is only here to play devil's advocate[edit]


  • ħumanUser talk:Human 01:21, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
    Do you know what "devil's advocate" actually means? New3.pngPink(It's not "disagrees with you for fun", for the record) 01:28, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
    I assume it means advocating for the devil, but don't quote me on that. $:) SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:30, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
    I think he was going to say "troll", but then thought better of it. Devil's advocate should imply that I'm disagreeing in order to test the weaknesses of an idea I agree with. New3.pngPink(Link) 01:34, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
    I typed what I meant. You are the only person who has referred to yourself as a "troll", and then, only in jest. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:10, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


  • "Devil's Advocate" is basically paining yourself to be a thorn in the side for the sake of it. I think one or two of these issues need adressing very seriously. Mob-rule (essentially anarchy) works well for something small but RW has out-grown that kind of thing even in just the short time I've been a registered user. ArmondikoVpathetic 04:03, 7 October 2008 (EDT)


Avoid personal attacks. Hug a goat instead. :-) weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 12:02, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Automating sysops[edit]

Should we just go ahead and define criterion for syopships as far as length of time editing and number of edits and then just automate the process? A bot moves any user with X edits and Y time on RW, and drops a little template one their page with links to sysops guide? Would this solve the issues surrounding when and who to sysops, and fairness? If you haven't noticed I am really far into the "solve problems through technology" camp. tmtoulouse 16:57, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I don't know if an automatic move is best. Not everyone wants to be a sysop, after all (for some reason). Perhaps, combining this with the "when they ask for it" idea (above), the wiki could offer anyone with a certain number of edits the option of being made sysop? I do like the idea of the promotion being automated, though, especially if it would supply useful templates ^_^
Also, would this be a bot with bureaucrat powers? Is that completely safe, do you think? New3.pngPink(Link) 17:06, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Anything can be done, perhaps the bot can drop a talk page comment on eligible users like "Due to your gallant contributions to rationalwiki you are not eligible for a demotion to sysop, reply "yes" to this message to accept." Or whatever. As for the other question, bots do only what I tell them to do...tmtoulouse 17:13, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I myself am not worried about malfunctioning bots, I have just heard other people argue against giving bots such powers, in case they "run amok". Like the suggested "Protect-o-bot" for RWW. But if you say it's fine, it's fine. New3.pngPink(Blink) 17:19, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I see only one problem with precisely defining what gets an editors demoted, and that is that it explains exactly to potential troublemakers what they need to do to get there. As many of us can imagine, it would not be hard, say on CP, to make X edits over Y days or weeks in order to get the keys. That said, an informal minimum on time and participation might be a good thing to school the crats in. Other thoughts - so far, we actually joke that "asking for 'sopship" is an automatic disqualification. Also, on RW being a sysop is not a position of power or authority, and many who come here from other wikis are profoundly confused for a bit over this. Maybe we should edit the MW stuff and literally call the "janitors" to reduce confusion (like they did at RWW)? How about... a bot that posts an intercom message when a new editor has reached some threshold, so a stealthy 'crat can sneak over and demote them? How about "automating" demotion, ie, at the very least, when someone is moved into "sysop" a bot adds a new section to their talk page, with some handy info? ħumanUser talk:Human 18:33, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
"it explains exactly to potential troublemakers what they need to do to get there" -- If being a sysop really is "not a position of power or authority", then this is not a problem. We've already established that sysops can do no lasting damage.
"a bot that posts an intercom message when a new editor has reached some threshold, so a stealthy 'crat can sneak over and demote them?" -- Complete automation is a far better idea. The whole process (count of edits, demotion, notification) can be done together. Do you have an actual reason for opposing this? New3.pngPink(Satire) 19:00, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I sort of do. I think there are certain things on the wiki that having a human touch is nice, and automating takes something away from it, welcome templates are a good example, and assigning sysopships I think might be to. I like the idea of a bot that announces some place who is eligable and then those who like to do this sort of thing (and many do, just like welcome templates) can go from there. tmtoulouse 19:06, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Abuse of the Mob as a bureaucracy[edit]

There is a big problem which I would like to see addressed: the lack of limitations on the Mob's jurisdiction. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

To expound, any single (non-talkpage) edit by any one editor can be objected to by someone else, and the alteration put before the mob to decide. For example, if you make so much as a tense change to a single sentence, any random editor can come along and say, "I object to this change from the established state of this article. I will revert it and ask for the Mob's input." With no set limits on the jurisdiction of the Mob, any editor can arbitrarily decide that any one edit requires the approval of the Mob before going through, thus utilizing the Mob as a tool to systematically enforce their preferred versions of articles across the wiki. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I'm not going to pull punches here: Human has abused the system by doing this multiple times. If he personally approves of an edit he will leave it alone. But if he personally disapproves of it, not only will he revert it, but he will tell the editor to "ask the Mob", effectively proscribing the edit, no matter how legitimate it may be, from appearing for quite some time, if at all. His approach turns the Mob into a bureaucracy: "Sorry, but you cannot make this edit until you have submitted your writing plan to the Mob for approval before proceeding. Remember to answer every question satisfactorily, or it will be summarily rejected. Godspeed." Just because he disagreed with it. What kind of standard is that? It isn't one—it's just one editor enforcing his vision of an article on the site. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I don't know of this happening, but Human and I tend to travel in seperate circles (not including CP articles). Do you have any proof of this accusation? Diff links would be helpful. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:27, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
See: yesterday.
See also: Right now. New3.pngPink(Ha ha ha) 01:29, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Not really helpful... SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:32, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
??? WTF? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:35, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
They are forthcoming, Chuck. Give me a little while to root out the diff links. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:40, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
OK, I make no judgment of any kind (ok, that's not true) but I will review all the evidence submitted before I finalize an opinion. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 01:42, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Ohh, ok, so it's outlandish claim time eh RA? Ok, here's one, you and Pink are one and the same (See, we all can make asses out of ourselves this way). Pinto's5150 Talk 03:04, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Neither of these claims is outlandish :P New3.pngPink(Well...) 03:18, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
This is an open discussion of policies so please don't make it The People versus Human. If there are specific examples of this problem we can comment on, then we can comment on them, but don't bring it down to a personal conflict as that will discourage other people getting involved in what should be a community issue. Also, I'm not really clear what you mean, RA, about appealing to "the mob". You talk as if it was a mob of angry villagers with torches & pitchffork. In reality, there is no mob - just a bunch of different people. Mobocracy here just means community consensus (that's how I interpret it anyway). Any edit or article is open to scrutiny by others - that's the nature of a wiki. If an edit becomes controversial, then it should be discussed on the talk page. Surely appealing to the mob (if that's how you want to see it) is better than edit war. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 08:33, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

An appeal to the "mob" is an appeal for additional feedback, when to people disagree and neither wants to back down then the only sane option is to get additional comments. Saying "ask the mob" is our short hand for something like a "request for comment" on wikipedia. Again, when two people disagree they have to seek outside intervention, no matter what the disagreement is, or they will just spin their wheels against each other. This is not "too much power to the mob" but rather the only workable dispute resolution system on a wiki. tmtoulouse 16:53, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Notice to Human[edit]

Firstly, please calm down. This is a debate, not an argument.

Secondly, your blanket statement that "we don't do rules" (and several variations, above) isn't holding much water. Trent himself has said "I do want to go on the record of saying however, that our founding principles do inherently include the idea that if we need rules, or want them, we can have them. There is nothing anti-rationalwiki about doing so", and many other editors have suggested additions to our current framework of rules. Arguing by stating the advantages of your system is perfectly reasonable, but arguing as though the very idea of introducing rules is in question is no longer an option. New3.pngPink(Link) 01:42, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Calm down? Where above was I not calm? "Trent himself" strikes me as fundamentalism of the ugliest sort, however. Shouldn't you capitalize "himself" when referring to our logical positivist overlord? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:56, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Your "I refuse to understand" act has grown quite tiresome. I repeat: a blanket statement that RW cannot adopt rules is no longer acceptable, as the possibility has been accepted by the mob and the "overlords". Discuss the issues seperately or not at all. New3.pngPink(Link) 02:05, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Your lecturing is growing quite tiresome, "Chaos". Your pronouncements carry no more weight than any other editor here, especially when addressed as "orders" to other editors - and especially telling me what and where editors can discuss matters. You want rules, you might want to try joining a wiki like "conservapedia". They have plenty of rules. Heck, if you make sysop there, you can make up your own and enforce them however you see fit. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:09, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Seriously, that's enough. Lets all calm down and relax for moment

OK, when we start throwing around the Conservapedia lines, we need to relax... Sleep on it and let's come back calm in the morning. We don't get anything done by getting personal, and this has become one large attack on Human.... Lets handle ourselves like the Rational people we assert we are. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 02:20, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I make no pronouncements. In fact, it is because no one editor's word has greater weight than another's that I am forced to tell you this. You are alone in stating that no new rules need be discussed, therefore your implied premise that this view is correct until overturned carries no weight. You don't have the mob behind you by default any more. Now, do you have any arguments besides "I don't recognise this court"? New3.pngPink(Link) 02:23, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I agree with maybe taking a break on this discussion, but I do have to say, I don't think human is "alone" in this. Maybe we need to outline a little more clearly what we already do (to avoid situations like the recent blocking one), but I don't think we really need new rules. Do I think RW is flawless? Of course not, but I'm not sure that legislation is going to change matter. Maybe there are some things we can improve upon, but I don't think we need such a grand discussion as this. It seems there have been more problems arguing about and trying to instate rules than have arisen from our having very few of them. So maybe it's just Human +1.
That said, Pink, Human, and RA, you all have become quite confrontational, no disrespect intended. It's understandable, considering what this debate has stemmed from, but nothing good can come from you arguing. It is very possible that we need to have this debate, but not like this. If it takes everyone tabling this discussion for a day (or more), then so be it, but right now, I don't think this debate will create anything but (additional) animosity. You three are all valued editors with valid viewpoints, and I know that you're all interested in the good of the group. Please think about taking a break and then all of us can return to this discussion with a cooler head. --Arcan ¡ollǝɥ 02:52, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes, it might be best to take a break. We are becoming a little "confrontational" -- although I think a fair number of us have gone to sleep now, so we might have our break sooner than we thought. ^_^
However, it was necessary to have a "grand discussion" like this -- editors like Human use the "mobocracy" idea to deflect any ideas they perceive to change the governing of the wiki. The only way to challenge such built-in resistance to change is to tackle it head on. But, even so, let's not get carried away. New3.pngPink(P) 03:27, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
As a point of order, he isn't alone in thinking no new rules are needed. I second the proposal. I think this whole discussion is tiresome and pointless. --JeevesMkII 12:08, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Feel free to disagree with the issues raised, but - as a point of order - I don't see how it can ever be "pointless" to have a discussion that addresses the concerns of a certain part of the user base. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:11, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
But no one has actually raised any concerns. The consensus appears to be most everyone is happy with the way things are at the moment. Almost all the suggestions are just things that need adding to the style guide. People could just do that, rather than having a discussion about it. The only reason this whole thing is still going is because Pink insists there are problems, but won't say what they are. --JeevesMkII 12:31, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I think that, overall, if one were to read this whole page and ignore everything written by Pink and I, and perhaps RA, it would be great reading. As usual for RW debates, lots of great ideas, insights, and analysis... ħumanUser talk:Human 12:35, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
(EC)I must say that I'm not seeing any overwhelming demand for change to the mobocracy - the initial question. Some points like the redirects one are good though. On the other hand that does not make the debate pointless - identifying that the majority aren't demanding root and branch change is also interesting.--Bobbing up 12:44, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Did we ever put it to the mob to become a mobocracy?[edit]

I just feel like going a little more abstract, meta and ridiculous then this already is. - 3.14159 (still working on sig)

Good question. No, "we" didn't. It was forced upon them, they had no fair choice in the matter. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:57, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
I have added what is remembered of the history to Mobocracy.--Bobbing up 03:14, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Yeah, as it says in the article Bob reference, it wasn't like we had--or needed--a lot of rules when there were twenty of us. Sterilesnore! 12:25, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

If a tree falls in a forest and one hand is clapping...[edit]

Does the mobocracy hear it? Ace McWickedThe Liquid Room 03:43, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Moonlight on a forest lake. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 03:56, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
This is what I think
Thats not my ass but is this conversation needed? I thought we were all getting along just fine. Ace McWickedThe Liquid Room 04:08, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
That would seem to be the heart of the matter. We get along fine as long as we don't discuss anything that's actually important. To me, that speaks of some more fundamental problems than we're addressing in these discussions - but that's just me. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 04:18, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
This is a wiki though, one that is (to be honest) not particularly important in the grand scheme of things. Isnt real life important and draining enough without bringing such matters here? Ace McWickedThe Liquid Room 04:24, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
Finally a voice of reason on the rational wiki. It has been fine until now and lets be honest there is still few enough people that with a few drinks, a piece of paper and about a spare hour I could rack my brains and name ever one here. - Almost Pi
While I agree it's gotten a little serious, AKjeldsen does have a good point; it's because people just get along fine that some bad things happen. Sometimes you just have to cut out the "I'm too friendly a laid back attitude" and say "this really needs to be done, some people might not be happy, but you'll thank me when it works out in the end". Of course, RW isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but depending on how grand you want the scheme to be, nothing's important? I'm just trying to view it from the perspective of a user who's been here long enough to have an interest in the site performing well and working but hsan't been on so long that they're stuck with an "old guard" attitude. You know what I'm saying?
Please remove the arse picture, some people might, you know, want to eat or get-it-up sometime in the next decade. :P ArmondikoVpathetic 04:39, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Wow, we are all awesome nerds[edit]

That is all.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 04:36, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

That is not all we need Yea and Nay headings about this, we must let the mob decide.


  • Agree - 3.14159 (still haven't fixed it yet) 04:41, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Never thought that fact was even up for debate... ArmondikoVpathetic 04:43, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
  • Ditto Armondikov, except, yeah, we would even debate that, just to exercise our debate muscles. ħumanUser talk:Human 12:21, 7 October 2008 (EDT)



Oh for GOAT'S sake[edit]

Please (re)read.
CЯacke® 12:12, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Duty Calls[edit]

See also:Pommer's Law

When it comes to the crunch[edit]

No-one is forced to be an editor - if you don't like the situation you can always go elsewhere.
In fact, if you don't like the way things are run, why not start your own wiki, with your own rules?
You could even copy RationalWiki.
SusanG  ContribsTalk 12:39, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

It's tricky, because the wiki serves up all the pages as a PHP dynamic page, and wget don't want to surf those. I put links to all the articles on four pages under my user page as static links, and now I've got wget grabbing them, new one every three seconds so I don't hammer the site. Oh, if you're using Microsuckware, never mind, this is "Linux business" Francine 13:14, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

Let's just go over this one more time, shall we?[edit]

It might perhaps be useful to restate just what this discussion was originally about, before everything got bogged down in minutiae and drama. (Or at least my interpretation of what it was about.)

Having grown organically from an initiative started by a very small and not very organized group of people, RationalWiki has never established any clearly formulated mode of governance, beyond the enigmatic "Mobocracy". This is considered a problem because:

  • The extremely high emphasis on a sometimes obscure tradition rather than clearly stated rules is confusing and perhaps off-putting to new editors.
  • The lack of a clear mode of governance leads to unnecessary conflicts when expectations about the site clash. It also makes it difficult to introduce measures that could reduce such conflicts, such as mediation or other forms of conflict resolution.
  • The current form is often highly inefficient when it comes to discussing policy and changes (consider this page, for instance).
  • Finally, in the longer perspective, the disorganized nature of the wiki may be an obstacle to future growth, as TMT outlined on the talk page. Whether this growth is something we want at all is of course an entirely different discussion.

I probably forgot some things, but these seem to be some of the important points of the discussion, and I think they're worth discussing.

We need to realize that RW is no longer the small, tight community that it was last summer. It has grown, and it may continue to grow. If that growth is something we want, we can't just sit back and say that "Everything is going fine, let's not change anything." Again as TMT wrote, we are in many ways at a threshold point right now, so now is exactly the time that we would need to start making such changes to prepare for the future. That is the discussion we should be having right now.

Also, please read the document that Cracker posted above. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 13:15, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

  • There was some resentment from other folks when I was kicked downstairs to sysop (and even bureaucrat, once, briefly) after only a few edits. Fix that by setting a minimum threshold of non-vandal edits before a person is demoted
  • Proposed format changes to articles, handle that with a debate/vote page, flag it on the intercom.
  • Official (lefty) political bent to RW? Bad idea. Most are lefties, but some of us are center-right. Libertarians, where do they fit in?
  • Move from a mobocracy to an orderly democracy, create a whole section on the intercom just for votes. Francine 13:29, 7 October 2008 (EDT)
responding to those in order:
  • I really don't see an issue with the whole sysoping thing... It can really help when dealing with vandals and such, but I don't feel too strongly any one way or the other
  • Would it be possible to create a new intercom group for this? and I can see that getting very crowded in a hurry.
  • There really is no political conflicts (that I deal with anyway) the biggest problem is a few people who are very determined to get their view included, despite objections from others (yes, I know that both left and right are guilty of this, but sometimes thing need to called a loss)
  • We really wouldn't be changing much. I don't think there are that many problems with the site as is. We're going through a major transition, both in terms of numbers and content. When I first started, we were primarily there to piss on Andy and CP. The site has grown, evolved if you will, beyond that now, and I think the issues are reflected. Now, assuming this growth continues, we'll just have to adapt alongside it, however, I don't see how we've reached any huge plateau were it's make or break time. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 15:16, 7 October 2008 (EDT)

I would like to present my views[edit]

The way RationalWiki is done is the way it is done. It was created with the intention of being anti-Conservapedia. Conservapedia is rules. In any governing body where there are rules, one of two things will happen. Either those rules will be rampantly abused (we are not above that) or, almost as bad, the rules will be open to interperitation. That will turn it into a tangled beauracracy. Look at ArbCom. CP chose the former, WP chose the latter. We have rules. I am opposed to any further structure, with the possible exception of clearing all site liability concerning vandalism on CP, and to formally denounce organized vandalism (but not punishing it). RationalWiki IS a mobocracy. That is how it works, and it works good. It has flaws, but goddamnit, why can't it be fun too? --US-O11 insignia.svg Gen. S.T. Shrink COURTNEY!!! 17:10, 8 October 2008 (EDT)