Forum:Productive voting construction

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Setting up a vote, with revised list of prospective questions. I am not including the above proposals where there are an indefinite amount of mods, which will fall into the "get rid of the whole system" plan. In two months, the major system vote will include that as a sort of blend of the crat and mod system, as well as "retain the current mod system," "restore the system of anarchic crats," and "no system." Proposed questions and the choices: How many mods?

  • "7"
  • "10"
  • "20"
  • "Roughly the number of eligible voters, divided by ten."

How should they be elected?

  • "Current system: STV"
  • "Simple voting: each voter may cast seven equally weighted votes for seven candidates."

How should techs be selected?

  • "A majority of mods can appoint or remove a tech."
  • "Community votes may appoint or remove any mod."
  • "Techs should be merged into mods."
  • "The Foundation should select them and remove them."
  • "Maintain the status quo, ad-hoc system."

Who is eligible to vote?or

  • "The current system: any editor whose account has existed for more than three months and who has more than 75 edits."
  • "Only those editors who have made at least 75 edits within the last three months."

Please avoid the temptation to vent your frustration here with squeals about how terrible everything is or how much you hate someone. If you disagree with someone's suggestions and then follow them around just to disagree with them, it makes you look petty and destroys your ability to appear like an intelligent commentator. Also remember that we want to distill this vote down to choices that represent the broadest range of options, but once we get much beyond four or five different choices, it reduces the mandate behind any eventual decision: voters get dispersed among slightly varied options, and extreme and non-representative results become increasingly more likely.--ADtalkModerator 08:04, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Point of order, Mr. Chairman - questions with several choices can easily be dealt with by using instant runoff voting as we did for the voting standards votes. Blue (pester) 08:09, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Point taken! Alas, I am not so smart!--ADtalkModerator 08:12, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
(EC×2) Can we have this on a new page? This is getting kinda long, and if we can put it on a project page we could do a bit better when it comes to separating the arguing from the serious proposals.
As for techs, how's an "anyone with the powers can add them if they are prepared to take responsibility for that action, and removing tech rights is treated identically to sysop rights" option? Peter This is not my first temporal anomaly 08:14, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Okay, shifting to a new page.--ADtalkModerator 08:18, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Peter, that seems like it is what we have now. But that is a good basis for the summary of the status quo, when the vote is made.--ADtalkModerator 08:20, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
(PC -port conflict) There is a substantial difference between the appointment of a position and its forced removal. For example, anyone can make a sysop, but it requires a community vote to rescind those rights. Moderators are elected by STV, but removed by community vote. Therefore I think there should be an option in which techs are appointed by a concurrence of moderators but removed by community vote. I acknowledge that this is a slight change of my position and takes power away from mods, and that I may be the only one who favors this option. Blue (pester) 08:22, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
We don't really have a status quo, that's the problem. We had neither rules nor custom to deal with the edit-filter business of the other week, for example. @blue takes power away from mods - I think people will be more likely to say that that still adds to their 'power.' Peter This is not my first temporal anomaly 08:29, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Why? The ad-hoc system where mods appoint techs was what Trent originally prescribed. Forcing them to agree amongst themselves in a majority decreases this ambiguous power Trent granted them. It also decreases their power compared to my previous position. Blue (pester) 08:37, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I was more meaning the mods collectively rather than individually. Realise both that techs can currently also appoint other techs (eg RNS demoting Tyrannis) and that there was at least the one person in the previous thread who wanted the ability to appoint techs to rest with the board (for some reason). I'm not saying that that's what I think, just that that is more the direction you will find yourself attacked from. Peter This is not my first temporal anomaly 08:44, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't think the outlined vote will be productive or conclusive since its options limit choices so narrowly & assume rather a lot of what it's supposed to be determining. "I am not including the above proposals where there are an indefinite amount of mods, which will fall into the "get rid of the whole system" plan." That's a hell of a false dichotomy. What about adapting the existing system but without such a strict limit on mod numbers? This is what I am in favour of. "In two months, the major system vote will include that as a sort of blend of the crat and mod system, as well as "retain the current mod system," "restore the system of anarchic crats," and "no system." I don't know what are you talking about here; please explain.

As far as I'm concerned, the first issue to be decided is whether there should be a limit on the number of mods or not. I don't think I've seen an adequate explanation of why there should be a fixed number. Anyhoo, depending on what the community decides about that, we can then discuss what the number should be (if there is a limit) and how they should be elected/selected. We can't decide the two issues together since a voting system for a fixed number of positions won't be fit for selecting an uncapped number, or vice versa. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:01, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

The chance for favors for an appointed tech to the mod that appointed them is always there. Separate the two, I say. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 13:07, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, it seemed to me that switching to a system of accumulating moderators, rather than a fixed number, is a dramatic change that will essentially be a return to the most salient aspects of the 'crat system. The most-liked users will be voted in, and will not have any particular moral authority - it's going from a system where a representative group is entrusted with extra powers to an "upper echelon" system like when we had crats, the members of which have no ongoing moral authority and where the bar was inevitably lowered as scarcity diminished. There is a self-corrective aspect to regular elections of a limited group, because this group is continually refined in accordance with actions and perceived effectiveness. As this system continues, it only grows stronger.
So because this shift would be so dramatic, it would seem wise to include it in a larger and later vote over the whole system itself. Those were some imagined options: do we keep the mod system? Do we return to the crat system? Do we adopt some combination, with crats held to defined standards and duties? These major questions all seem important to settle decisively, but as I said elsewhere, now doesn't seem like the time. The recent conclusion of an election and extended concerns over voting method and these other things would all be prejudicial: "This all sucks and it used to be better, somehow, back in the day." Plus, to try to answer all of these things at once would be a ridiculous horror-show of endless options and parsing questions. It doesn't seem wise or practical.
If we decide to uncap the number of mods, I believe this would be a much bigger deal than you really might realize, as I say above, and most everything will need to be revamped - which is why it is not a suitable question for now.
It's possible we could have this vote series: capped or uncapped? Then, how do we elect them, how many (if applicable still), etc. Then, do we keep the mod system at all?
Is that what you would prefer? I'd still argue that it would strongly tilt the balance, coming in the wake of an election and wrangling about rules ("Damn it, I lost, well what the hell let's change it." ... "Everyone making laws, this is bullshit, why can't we go back to screaming matches?").--ADtalkModerator 13:22, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
The issue is that for a lot of the options in different points they become contradictory or moot depending on choices for the other. This really needs to be done some what piece meal and the first step is putting up competing ideas on mod numbers and structures. I think focusing the discussion needs to happen, I don't want to have to parse random asides arguing about the edit filter when trying to discuss number of mods. My proposal would be to just pull out the first issue of how many mods should we have, and set up a specific commentary period to allow people to make proposals and defend them. Then take those proposals that are actually specific enough to vote on (ala "go back to the way things were!!!!!!" is not a specific counter proposal), and vote on them. If there really is a specific and workable alternative to the mod system that people favor then its better to hear about it now. The other issues can then be tackled once we know what we are working with. Tmtoulouse (talk) 15:01, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Trent on this. The "how many?" question should be explored first rather than making a bunch of changes and maybe having to unmake them later. AD, you're still presenting false dichotomy. An uncapped number of mods does not automatically mean an "all comers welcome" attitude to the role. There are also some significant differences from the bureaucrat role. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that the most familiar day-to-day role of crats, and one of the reasons so many users wanted to become crats, was promoting/demoting editors to sysop (and initially to bureaucrat, before we started voting on those). Now sysops make other sysops, and I haven't seen any complaints about this or suggestions that they shouldn't do so any more. I don't think we'll see everyone volunteering for mod duty, but as long as there are users who are happy to take on the role & have the qualities required, I don't see why they should be turned down on grounds of an arbitrarily fixed capacity. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:16, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
It would probably be useful to create a list of the unique abilities of the moderator and tech groups. I'll go do that. Blue (pester) 17:48, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Bunp. Blue (pester) 02:45, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, we should set up some kind of vote to address those other things then, if not my suggestions. Something, anyway.--ADtalkModerator 10:20, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
The next step would be to synthesize a series of votes, starting with "Tier I" issues which need to be decided before moving onward, like "do we keep the mod system or not"; then move to "Tier II", which would get into specifics, and then perhaps another tier, which would depend on the outcome of the previous tier.
Alternatively we could just do everything at once, which would be chaotic and probably less decisive. I think we can't avoid the big question of "keep the system or not" at this point. Blue (pester) 04:12, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Footnote 4: Unique abilities of mod and tech usergroups[edit]

Right Moderators Techs
Block a user from sending e-mail
Create usergroups like "sysoprevoke" Tmtoulouse, and nobody else
Delete pages with large histories
Edit all user rights
Edit interwiki data
Edit moderator-protected pages
Edit the user interface (MW namespace)
Edit other users' CSS and JavaScript files
Import pages from a file upload and another wiki
Modify edit filters; revert filters; view private filters
Rename users
Review and restore revisions hidden from administrators
Send messages to the sitewide-urgent intercom group
Server access Tmtoulouse, and nobody else
View private suppression logs

Courtesy of Blue (is useful) 18:10, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

This is useful. There's nothing here that a mod needs, so I see no reason for techs and mods to overlap. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 18:36, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Sterile. Mods have enough power in this table to carry out the role (I don't like the suppress email function though) so there is no need to have further rights granted. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 20:44, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
It isn't that a mod would use a right granted to techs for moderating purposes necessarily, they may actually want to do useful site-related work. For example, maintaining gadgets. It's also interesting to note that bureaucrats had all of the combined powers of moderators and techs. Blue (pester) 22:05, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I support this plan of action. Tmtoulouse, and nobody else 10:48, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I support this plan too. I don't need server access or the ability to create groups. (talk) 10:55, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Draft of the next step[edit]

Based upon over a month of discussion petering in and petering out about our moderation system, electoral reform and techs, we are moving forward with a series of decisions on a number of questions that remain unresolved since the system's inception over one year ago. For the discussions leading up to this, please see Forum:Moderator elections and sock puppets, Forum:User rights and moderation revisited and Forum:Productive voting construction.

These questions will be decided in a series of very simple votes. The votes will be divided into two or three rounds, or tiers, each lasting one week. All votes containing more than two options will follow instant runoff voting.

Tier I: Which institution?

A. Which of the following best describes your position?
  1. The current system of elected moderators should be retained.
  2. The current system should be thrown out entirely, and we should return to the bureaucrat system of the early days, with no formal election cycle.

Tier II: Structure of the institution

A. Who is elegible to vote in the election of a moderator, tech or bureaucrat?
  1. The current system: any editor whose account has existed for more than three months and who has more than 75 edits.
  2. Only those editors who have made at least 75 edits within the last three months before an election.

These votes follow if the result of vote I-A is option 1

B. How many moderators should be elected?
  1. The current system: 7
  2. 10
  3. 13
  4. 20
  5. Roughly the number of eligible voters, divided by ten (10).
  6. No limit; moderators are elected for life until they resign or are removed.
C. How should moderators be elected?
  1. The current system: STV (single transferable vote).
  2. Approval voting. First-past-the-post.
  3. Simple voting, with each voter casting seven equally weighted positive votes for seven candidates. First-past-the-post.
  4. Simple voting, with each voter casting seven equally weighted votes for seven candidates, but they may use their votes to vote for and against candidates. First-past-the-post, but against votes count negatively toward a candidate's total.
D. How should techs be selected?
  1. A majority of moderators can appoint or remove a tech.
  2. A majority of moderators can appoint a tech, but a community vote must remove a tech.
  3. Community votes may appoint or remove any tech.
  4. The tech position should be abolished, and its powers merged with moderators'.
  5. The Foundation Board should select them and remove techs.
  6. The current system: Any moderator may appoint a tech or remove a tech.

These votes follow if the result of vote I-A is option 2

B. How should bureaucrats be selected?
  1. Any bureaucrat may demote any user to bureaucrat or promote a user from bureaucrat, without restriction.
  2. Any bureaucrat may demote any user to bureaucrat, but only a community vote can remove a bureaucrat.
  3. Any user may be nominated for bureaucrat, and a community vote must elect and remove a bureaucrat.
C. Should there be an upper limit on the number of bureaucrats?
  1. Yes; 7.
  2. Yes; 20.
  3. Yes; 40.
  4. Yes; 20% of the number of active users.
  5. Yes; 50% of the number of active users.
  6. No.

Tier III: Authority and remit of the institution

[This tier would deal with issues discussed in the earlier forum, like when and how moderator powers can and should be exercised, should the community standards be more aspirational or more enforceable, etc.]


Please critique, etc. Blue (is useful) 05:23, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Suggested change, so we are specific:A. Which of the following best describes your position?
  1. The current system of elected moderators should be retained.
  2. The current system should be thrown out entirely, and we should return to the bureaucrat system of the early days, with ad hoc votes to promote or demote individual users to 'crat.--ADtalkModerator 05:31, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Since a few users favor a return to the 'crat system but without any rights votes at all, I'll change it to "... of the early days, with no formal election cycle." Blue (pester) 18:41, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Why does it have to be an all or nothing deal? WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:08, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
It's not; if we "keep the moderator system", that doesn't preclude significant reform. Blue (is useful) 00:47, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The fact that a system that has been in place for little more than a year might require "significant reform" should tell you that the system is quite probably flawed at its core and should quite probably be taken out back and shot instead of rehabilitated. I fear that you are putting a lot of effort into a fool's errand, and wasting precious time on the process. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 01:03, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Hey look I can make assertions too: The only issue is a vocal minority who seem bent on nay saying without providing alternative ideas, the basic core of is sound with potentially a few modifications. Tmtoulouse (talk) 01:07, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
(EC) I disagree; I think the old system needed significant reform, and now the new system may also need significant reform. It's also worth noting that we've gotten to the point where dismantling the current system would be much more work than reforming it. Blue (is useful) 01:12, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
And when I say "work," I mean "endless bickering and arguing". Blue (is useful) 01:15, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
EC "seem bent on nay saying without providing alternative ideas." I have provided an alternative idea--go back to the mobocracy of the 'crat system. It may have been clumsy and ineffective, but at least it was clumsy and ineffective with a minimum amount of effort, as opposed to all this, which looks clumsy and inefficient with the advantages of being both Byzantine and labour-intensive. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 01:17, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Also: "A vocal minority"?? This page looks mostly like a Blue/AD circlejerk. I would have thought that if it was only a few editors who scorned this process, there would at least be enough people committed to shaping it to make up a softball team for my Thursday night league. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 01:20, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

I gotta agree with ToP here, almost all recent proposals have been an AD/Blue circle-jerk with Dick Turpis and Weasloid voicing "meh, I guess so" every now and then. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:31, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
ToP, there hasn't exactly been a groundswell of support for your proposal either. Most people, as a rule, just don't get particularly interested in following a month-long, heinously long discussion about site policy. Blue (is useful) 01:36, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Ace, it was just a few weeks ago that you posted a big "The Ace McWicked Plan" thing. I cede that Blue and I may have taken the lead on constructing positive counter-proposals, but I'm not sure what's wrong with that. Things will be presented for a vote, and it's completely open and public.
All due respect to you both, but I think there is a bit of good old daysing going on here. I remember the crat system as a continual fiery clusterfuck, much worse than now.--ADtalkModerator 01:39, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The McWicked Plan was to simplify voting to avoid greater clusterfucks like what is being proposed here - to strip away the mindless politicing and rule crazy blather into a simple vote. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:10, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Sure. My point is that this is a bit of selective memory: you have also had a big voice in these things. And in fact we're trying to do the same thing here. I don't know if you noticed, but the first vote is a very simple one: mods or crats. Not a lot of "rule crazy blather" at all, really.--ADtalkModerator 03:03, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
There hasn't been a groundswell of support for my proposal exactly because the community as a whole is fed up with proposals, policies, votes, and votes on policy proposals. "Most people, as a rule, just don't get particularly interested in following a month-long, heinously long discussion about site policy." Which is exactly why I am loathe to see an clever person like yourself wasting a fair amount of her time working on something that nobody gives a shit about. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 01:41, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, fortunately her proposal will help that, then. There will be a vote, people will surge to support the old crat system, and that will be that.--ADtalkModerator 01:45, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Without intending any facetiousness, since the mod elections have any of the mods done anything "mod-like"? I know I am still effectively a newbie here, but for all the extended discussion about the mod elections and associated procedures, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what the mods do (at least in a practical sense, I've read the "theoretical" version at the mod page). VOXHUMANA 01:54, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
but for all the extended discussion about the mod elections and associated procedures, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what the mods do Exactly, this is a massive fuck around for so little. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:10, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, ideally mods should not have to do very much. But as one example, recently I intervened to stop the unilateral promotion and blocking of RobS. In the process of talking Psy down from his wheel warring, the vote got going.--ADtalkModerator 03:03, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Vox, I'll just repeat Pi's immmortal words: "what happens when you set up a moderator system with, no guidlines, no powers to moderate, and the mandate of do as little as possible... You get fuck all from it, because that is what it is." This refers to several users' strong opinions that the moderator guidelines are vastly inadequate (me, for instance, and others), that moderators have no moral authority (WaitingforGodot and others), and that they should not exercise any of their powers (AD and others). Blue (is useful) 03:22, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
EC. The vote. The one that left us pretty much where we started: Rob will come back to troll, Psy and Sophie and me will fuck with him when he goes over the top, and the magic circle of life continues to spin. Look, A, I think you're a smart guy, great editor, funny, wise. I look up to you, even. But that's prolly not the best example to give. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 03:24, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I can't make you guys wise or nice. There will always be some strife.--ADtalkModerator 04:42, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Virtues of the Crat System[edit]

There were significant advantages to the old 'crat system:

  • By having crats appoint sysops, it actually meant something to being a sysop, and it didn't require awkward fixes like sysoprevoke to deal with "problems."
  • I would argue that 'crats had more moral authority than the moderators do now. Quite simply, unless you voted for a moderator, people just don't necessarily trust or respect them. 'Crats spread out that authority over a far larger group of people with at least the appearance of being vetted by a larger number of people. (And given than Nx rigged the election, it's not clear that there's any real moral authority....)
  • It's also not clear to some of us what exact things moderators have done that's so great. They dealt with MC somewhat decisively. Nx and SR sorta left of their own. Issues of talk pages and sysoprevoke should have been community discussions, not moderator-based. So it's not clear to me why people think moderators have been so successful. Some non-moderators have been far more effective at talking people out of conflict than moderators have.
  • We just didn't do this "what to do" stuff so much, albeit it's not clear if that's an issue of scale and/or personality.
  • The bigger issue is that so many people who could understand the difference have left.

There are other issues as well:

  • It's also the case that cooping doesn't really accomplish anything, and people just don't have the patience to deal with each other. And someone always engages rather than slow reverting, which is something that will always happen at RW's current scale.
  • There are still issues of what to do with trolls, vandals and people RWians don't like (which are all somewhat separate and somewhat similar issues). While I think some people think these are moderator issues, they are actually more community issues.

Cheerio. ADD: And it's always been the case that whoever yelped the loudest got the most attention at RW. It's never been the case, however, they those people have the best ideas. In fact, they often don't. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 11:50, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps I am mistaken. But what I remember from the crat era were the angry demands to know what crats even do, and what being a sysop might mean, and how there's no way to stop trolls, and so on - basically what we have now, only bigger and longer. And beyond that, there were the endless, endless wheel wars that had no clear resolution, revert wars, and so on that would end only with the exhaustion or LANCB of one of the participants (unless they were unpopular enough to just be slapped around). I remember sprawling, shrieking, ceaseless maelstroms of argument and controversy and accusations that would last for four or five days, spreading out from Standards and to talk pages and the Bar and elsewhere. Near the last year of the crat system, it seemed as though these would occur once every month and a half.
I honestly and truly feel that HCMs are shorter and more contained under the mod system than under the crat system. I'm not sure there's any way to quantify that, but it's what it seems like to me. But I'm sure I'm biased. I will definitely be very interested in the outcome of the vote.--ADtalkModerator 12:28, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Um, far more people LANCB after the mod system. Lots of people have left. Do you really think conflict is shorter now? Robert's grilling certainly lasted four or five days. There are far, far, far, more cooping than before. And I think "containment" is more a characterization, and more a function of the wiki's structure; give a place for it, and it's "contained" but it's not necessarily less taxing to people. Sorry, but I just don't don't agree. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:44, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The 'crat system was a much simpler system, to be sure. The problem, something we seem to have forgotten, is that there were a bunch of bureaucrats who had the title simply to have it and never used any of the powers (quite a few, actually, were inactive). Meanwhile, you had a flood of newer editors who wanted to use some of the 'crat tools but were forbidden to because "We have waaaaaay too many 'crats." Thus that, plus the utter uselessness of the Chicken Coop (if you don't think it's worthless, you are wearing blinders) is what caused the HCM that led to the Moderators in the first place. If we can fix the things that led us here, only then can we discuss a return to the old system. Otherwise, trading one bad system for another is utterly stupid and pointless. Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 13:01, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
If we can fix the things that led us here... How I wish I knew the answer to that one. How can we persuade the various factions sections of RW to play nice. How do we decide what behaviour is acceptable and what isn't and how do we enforce it - or not? We need to decide on what rules we want or don't want and how we're going to enforce them (or not) before we waste any more time deciding the minutiae of the police force. Bad Faith (talk) 13:13, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I really do think that HCMs are much shorter now, yes. While the vote on Rob lasted a week, it had almost completely died as a page within four days, and the major discussion and anger took place within a day. And I think there are far fewer coopings than there used to be, not more.--ADtalkModerator 13:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The data most certainly don't support the latter. (And, really, looking at the page, the former as well.) sterilesporadic heavy hitter 14:03, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

If we do go back to the crat system I hope everyone is prepared for RobS, Brx, and Maratrean to be bureaucrats here. DickTurpis (talk) 22:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

If we do go back to the crat system I hope everyone is prepared for RobS, Brx, and Maratrean to be bureaucrats here. Why would that be? Sounds like bullshit. Was TK ever a 'crat? Was Robs? Was MC ever a crat? In fact they are more likely to get elected as mods than be 'crats. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 22:20, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, MC was for a crat for a few days. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 22:23, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's quite likely in a drunken state I'll crat all of them just for fun. It's been years since I've seen a great fireworks show. DickTurpis (talk) 22:26, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, but they get de'cratted pretty quickly and if nominated mod then nothing can be done. basically Dicks comment is bullshit. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 22:43, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
If they get decratted I can recrat them. Don't think I'll just lie down if someone tries to strip the rights from my new minions. DickTurpis (talk) 23:11, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
You are talking out your ass, Turpis. Ass-tuliping even. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 23:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Talking out of my ass, am I? Are you saying I won't crat those three? DickTurpis (talk) 23:55, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Don't be an idiot Dick, you are smarter than that. Did you ever 'crat Brx, Maratrean or Robs? Did anyone? Nope. But what is your point? Are you saying no one could ever manipulate the vote to have the three of them elected to mod position? Yah fucking idiot. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 23:58, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
(I actually don't think you're an idiot put your position here is pretty silly). AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 00:02, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Just because I didn't crat them before doesn't mean I won't in the future. I might have to now, or people could call me a liar, and I couldn't let that affront to my integrity stand. Besides, there's something of a precedent that we don't remove powers unless they've been abused, so anyone who de-crats Rob would likely be in the wrong. If anyone can crat someone on a whim, what is to stop me or anyone else from cratting unpopular users? DickTurpis (talk) 00:15, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Yeah you seemed to have a very important point - Are you saying no one could ever manipulate the vote to have the three of them elected to mod position? AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 00:19, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
They could, but it wouldn't be easy. Hell, I've been the most vocal editor on the damn site in favor of making elections harder to manipulate, but I've been thwarted at every turn. If we want a system that's nearly impossible to manipulate in that way we should look to RFAs at Wikipedia. DickTurpis (talk) 00:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
So what's the problem? AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 00:52, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. Did I have a problem? All I said was if we go back to the crats-on-a-whim system we are likely to have some rather unpopular crats. DickTurpis (talk) 01:13, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Why do you assume brx would be a 'crat, or Rob, when they weren't before? AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:24, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Probably because it never occurred to me how entertaining it would be to crat them until recently. Someone recently complained that the mod system was no fun. Maybe I should prove them right. DickTurpis (talk) 01:36, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
So basically you are threatening to 'crat Brx, Robs and Maratrean if the 'crat system is re-implemented "for fun"? Good to know where your head is at. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, in all fairness, Ace, you're partially to blame as well. You really backed me into a corner, making me turn a vague musing into a firm statement. Now I can't backpedal or I'll appear weak. Then who would follow me as I head a coup d'etat an seize control of RationalWiki once and for all? Besides, what's the worst that would happen? Frankly I suspect Rob would be less inclined to abuse powers than many of our former crats. DickTurpis (talk) 01:55, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, then , for old times sake.....AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:14, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Ace Mcwicked backs DickTurpis into the corner

Actual data[edit]

All right, guys, I respect everyone who has participated in this discussion, but it's time to put up or shut up for both sides here. And as we all know, I'm certainly not going to shut up. I've spent several hours combing through a ton of data, trolling several archives, extrapolating from memory, and learning how to use bits of Excel that I didn't know existed. What I produced is the following graph.

Drama data RW.jpg

What you see is a line graph of the number of active users per month, a scatterplot of the major incidents in Admininstrative Abuse and the Chicken Coop, a trendline of the three-month moving average of those incidents, and a big vertical line representing the date of the transition from bureaucrats to moderators and techs.

Note on the data: Active user data from May 2007 to February 2010 were loosely adjusted to fit the average of the later data, which come from LArron and are more accurate. No data were readily available from March 2010 to June 2010. Incidents do not include various "I COOP EVERYONE FOR BEING ASSHOLES" and/or "The RationalWiki Reform Society doth wish to protest the authoritarian actions of the aspie fascists" topics, but rather focus on substantive complaints against a user or multiple users. Topics from RationalWiki:All things in moderation were not included, as such cases are not limited to abuse allegations and I was damn tired of this shit.

Have the moderators "failed"? That seems to depend entirely on your personal definition of failure, because everyone seems to have their own idea of a) what the moderators' purpose is, and b) the relative benefits of the old and new systems.

However, if your reasoning is "people have been driven away": true, but there is zero evidence to suggest that the new system caused any special exodus. As you can see, we've undergone several dropoffs in the volume of active users over the years, and the one from June to December 2011 is not really exceptional in any way.

If your reasoning is "there's more conflict now": you are looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, and the data clearly contradict you. The moderators have probably had no effect on the volume of conflict, and if they did, it was to reduce it.

Do we need reforms? Certainly. Do we need to throw out the system? Certainly not. We keep creating drama by dragging our feet, by endlessly arguing about how bad the new system is, by wailing about problems we've had for years but are somehow blamed on the moderators, despite having a mandate of doing as little as humanly possible and being openly disdained by several high-profile editors (including sitting moderators).

We've been at a stalemate for a while. We need to vote and settle this question. Blue (is useful) 17:20, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

A good-faith question How many site-wide votes on policy issues (either crafting or implementation thereof) have we had in the past 24 and 12 months? Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 17:27, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. Personally I don't think votes are a bad thing - I think they're a welcome change from, well, just arguing for a while without any resolution. Blue (pester) 17:34, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Vote are not a bad thing in and of themselves. Voting just for the sake of voting is a waste of time. Discussions and arguments about how to craft policy for a community that is largely indifferent to policy is also a waste of time, I agree. So instead of more votes and wasteful discussions, let's just edit a goofy wiki. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 17:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Um, oh really? It's pretty clear that several editors have left. Why are we not growing instead of a steady state? If anything your data shows that there is not much difference from May 10 to May 12, indicating there is much similar. (Error in a discrete number in the range of 4 must be gigantic, and a moving average is meaningless. It's also unclear why your data are so different from the RWW page. It's also hard to see how someone with an admitted lust for power can't see her conflict of interest. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 17:29, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
"Several editors?" I think you mean long-time editors. My data don't get into how long the editors have been here. My data are not different from the RWW page. I used the RWW page as the source of my data. Blue (pester) 17:34, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Again, the graph is absurd in support of your hypothesis. Looking left and right of the mod system, they graphs look nearly identical. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 17:36, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Coopings graph.png
And I'm still looking for some premises to support that the moderators are a success. Mind you, that's a tough call of order: what are indicators of success? But I don't see it. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 17:40, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually, isn't active users confined to a certain number of editors? That would just tell you the average volume of a certain number of editors. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 17:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
A bunch of users leaving doesn't tell us anything. Some longstanding editors left in May 2011 (me, Kels, Psy), but we all drifted back. Add to that the flow of good new editors like PerterL and I don't see a big problem. there are always good people leaving. Where are Phantom Hoover or Mei? gone, but we have Mikalos and Copperhead. We got rid of Marcus and we have Brxbrx instead. The wiki is healthy, despite the occasional eruption of civil disorder. SophieWilder 19:50, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

The problem with the RWW graph, I'll note, is that this years coopings are trending way below what you would expect. 6 in 7 months, 3 of which were of Rob. Meanwhile the lack of T:ATIM data in blue's graph is problematic. Peter This is not my first temporal anomaly 22:42, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

There's more conflict now. If anything, your graph shows that the mod system is at least slightly less effective at containing problems. I frankly think it's been the reason for many of our fights in the last year. What your data can't show is the level of vitriol on all fronts (and even from the trolls who show up to stir shit despite having no dog in this fightl) that runs so deeply. Unrelated, it's also interesting to note that your graph puts the lie to the claim that we had so many more new users that we needed stricter regulation. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 23:40, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Graphs like this aren't going to show much along the lines of objective results for a variety of reasons. Nutty's right when he says it can't show the levels of vitriol, but it also doesn't define major incident, nor can it show if stats like an increase in the number of coopings reflect an increase in conflict or an increase in use of the coop to resolve conflict. None of this can be shown to be related to either the mod or crat systems anyway. Whether we have moderators, bureaucrats, the Loya Jirga, the College of Cardinals, the Ministry of Magic, or any system, we're still going to have drama and conflict. As long as Nutty and Blue can't comment on the same page, even when they are in complete agreement, without some stupid personal vendetta playing out, we're not going to see the end of all this shit. Same goes for other editors I could name. DickTurpis (talk) 00:08, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Hm. Well, I have to admit that the graph did shake my confidence in the verity of my own recollections, and now I don't know what to think - I'm sure I have some bias in the matter. It's certainly true that there are some grudges and personal shit going on in a lot of these discussions.
A conundrum!--ADtalkModerator 00:22, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Give me a fucking break, Dick. Blue and I interact pretty rarely. You're dramatically overstating things if you are seriously suggesting that our enmity has any negative impact on outcomes. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 00:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Look at Rob's recent coop. You and Blue voted exactly the same way, apparently for basically the same reasons, showing mutual agreement, but you both still had to carve out a little section for personal drama (well, a few others did just as much). I'm not saying its effecting outcomes in such cases, but this apparent attitude of "hmmmm, someone I don't like just made a comment somewhere, I better stop in and remind them what a fucking idiot they are" is not really leading to a healthy atmosphere here. DickTurpis (talk) 01:03, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Again, now that you're shuffling your feet away from what you first tried pinning on us, give me a fucking break. We interact so rarely that it's 'your' perception that it contributes to an unhealthy atmosphere, not something I'd agree with even if I weren't me. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 01:16, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps I shouldn't have necessarily singled you out, but I find being specific can help drive the point home, and I sometimes eschew the thinly veiled references to "certain users" (who are all of course theoretical entities who do not reflect any actual users) - let's call a spade a spade. You're not trying to argue that you and Blue aren't infamous for not getting along on this site, are you? You know, I probably could have substituted Human for you, but whatever. Yeah, I tend to think all these back and forth insults over stupid bullshit don't yield a healthy atmosphere. You don't have to agree with me. DickTurpis (talk) 01:34, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Infamous? I guess. I'm not sure I dislike her as much as I come across, though I definitely don't like her. As for the healthy environment shit, yeah, I disagree. I post infrequently on this site anymore. I don't know how many times I have to repeat that we interact infrequently. I also don't recall even participating in many of these discussions in the first place. Thanks for backing off of "we're not going to see the end of all this shit." It's easier to just admit you were making a shitty point poorly. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 01:47, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

The mod system was never about "reducing" conflict. In order to achieve that goal the Mods would have to be empowered to do a hell of a lot more, would need an extremely draconian system. The point of the mods was to provide a system for resolving conflict. Either by intervention early for small issues, or guiding and boot strapping community discussion. And there has been success in this because conflicts have actually been resolved, something the crat system never did. Tmtoulouse (talk) 00:34, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

What do you even mean? Conflicts start. Conflicts end. On both sides of May 2011. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 00:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
In a formal sense, yes. But emotions and frustration linger far longer than they ever did before, I think mostly because of personalities, which isn't necessarily the fault of the system. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:30, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Cart before the horse[edit]

We can argue all day long about whether 'crats or Moderators or Loya Jirga or the mob is best but, to my mind, this misses the bigger question, the one which is at the root of all this. Well, it's multiple questions but try these two.

  1. Where do we draw the line between freedom of speech and keeping the site how we would like it. Is posting dick pictures a valid expression or an abhorrence? Should we ban or demote those who are simply annoying?
  2. What tools are we going to allow those tasked with controlling the site. Without those tools the mods/crats/whatever are left with responsibility but no power. At the moment the very act of a mod trying to impose some common sense just fans the flames.

Once those are decided - and they're far from easy - then we can start talking about how we decide who gets to police the site. Before then it's meaningless. Bad Faith (talk) 18:04, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

On a related topic: how much drama is due to disagreements over main space content? Take away Rob's trolling, Brx's trolling, Ace's cock pictures, etc, none of which have to do with actual content or mission, and there's not a lot left that we argue about. Proxie makes a stink about her edits being reversed, but for the most part the fights break out in the Saloon or on users talk pages or at TWIGO CP (EDIT: or in policy discussions like this rapidly-growing clusterfuck) over stuff that has nothing to do with what the site is supposed to be about. Maybe instead of trying to deal with the drama, we need to look at where the drama happens, and get rid of the places where it breeds. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 18:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
ToP, why do you assume they are "Ace's cock pictures"? I gifted them to the community - they are "our" cock pictures. We can all enjoy their magic. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 01:26, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
It used be partytime all the time. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 17:59, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Good post! X9000 I've been trying to write an essay about that for months. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 18:19, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
So your proposal is to delete the Saloon Bar and various users' talk pages? There's a lot more to this site than the mainspace. Remember, we're not an encyclopedia, and a good proportion of our articles are just second rate WP entries anyway. As long as people interact with one another there will be conflict and drama. That can't be helped. The only way to get rid of it is to destroy the community, and without that we're nothing. DickTurpis (talk) 22:21, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
My proposal has been the same since as it always has been. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 22:27, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I was referring more to ToP's proposal to remove places where drama occurs, which to me sounds like noting that crime often occurs in the streets, so we should get rid of streets. DickTurpis (talk) 22:35, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not following you. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 00:35, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I was responding to ToP's assertion that we should "get rid of the places where [drama] breeds," i.e. various talk pages and the saloon. His apparent reasoning seems to be something along the lines of "if it isn't the mainspace it isn't important". I'm calling him on that. DickTurpis (talk) 01:07, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I was being flip about getting rid of the talk pages and the bar. That said, the fact that so much of the drama is linked to stuff that has noting to do with the raison d'etre of the entire project is something I think is worth discussing. Rob doesn't make mainspace edits. Cock pictures aren't a mainspace phenomenon. A lot of the drama is related to stuff that is totally peripheral to the stated goals of the committee--if it's the case that a HUGE amount of effort is being spent to deal with problems that are rooted in things that are secondary to what the project is meant to do, I think that's something worth discussing. Move the Bar to a blog? Just an idea, but at least one that gets at where the problem actually lies. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 02:06, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Split WIGO:CP and it's assorted paraphernalia off to a separate site. Boom. No more Rob. It is also the primary "reason for being" for brx, UHM, and assorted riffraff. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 02:20, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Oh Ty, I'd still be around, laugh with and about most of you and still think you're a dishonest shit. It's not that black and white as you might think (damn, another Southerner that needed to be told that). --ʤɱ atheist 13:42, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
... ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 01:08, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

RW is not a soapbox. You don't necessary have unfiltered freedom of speech. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 19:37, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Non-productive voting[edit]

I don't think the votes proposed on this page are likely to be very productive. For one thing, as I've pointed out, it's limiting people's options in a very restrictive way: either keep some variant of the current set-up or revert wholesale to the old one. What about people like me who think the best system would be somewhere between the two? Then there's the fact that these votes are likely to be completely inconclusive anyway: under voting standards in the CS, policy votes need a two-thirds majority to pass. That makes any votes with four or five options a complete non-starter. Even the two-option mod vs crat vote is likely to end in stalemate. We've really painted ourselves into a corner with this voting crap.

But inevitably it's going to need some amount of voting to sort this out, as we need some kind of system supported by the community. Either we vote slowly & painfully on each separate issue (fixed number or unlimited? do we call them mods or crats? how much authority do they have? etc.), which would theoretically be the fairest route, but unlikely to sustain the community's interest & would therefore end up with a small cadre of enthusiasts drafting policy unilaterally, or else I suppose we draft a few rival propsals, adapt them according to community feedback, and have some kind of simple vote-up between them. ŴêâŝêîôîďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:15, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

One of the inherent problems is that there is not much equivalence between mods and crats, as crats were vastly more powerful than mods are. So, in brief, the name is irrelevant; the important thing is the powers with which the position is endowed. Blue (is useful) 04:08, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Is that true? You know, I've been both, but never really noticed the powers involved all that much. Wanna add bureaucrats to that side by side checklist of mod and tech powers? DickTurpis (talk) 04:25, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Crats had all the powers of mods and techs. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 04:51, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Really? Even the all-powerful edit filter? Well, I assume we won't be going back to that system then. DickTurpis (talk) 15:19, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
The "all powerful edit filter" has been around since at least March 2010. ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 15:56, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, the cat's out of the bag now. And since consensus seem to be veering towards the "too powerful for mortals to wield" end of the spectrum, going back to giving it out like candy on Halloween seems off the table. So no matter what, unless attitudes on this and a few other issues have changed dramatically in the last couple weeks, going back to the system of bureaucrats as it existed a couple years ago isn't going to happen. Those who want to bring back the crats should specify exactly what they mean by that. DickTurpis (talk) 16:05, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, of course! I for one would love to see the variant you're proposing - maybe it would be the best way forward. What are the details?--ADtalkModerator 00:19, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
You summarize pretty well what the problem is and why it's nearly insurmountable. No one likes endless voting, but other than voting the only way to change things is unilateral action, which is even less popular. The other option is anarchy, which has never been effective in a community of any size and diversity. As far as I can tell, what's most likely to be successful is to take a few of the most significant issues and work with them. I guess the first would be do we keep the elected mod system in any form? You cite a false dichotomy between mods and crats, but brushing aside the semantics, we either have positions by election or by some slightly less ordered means - calling the former "the mod system" and the latter "the crat system" works well enough for now. Harkening back to crats is particularly problematic as it evolved from a position handed out by a select few people at their discretion to some semi-official mob-approval process, which I do not believe was ever formalized or completely adhered to, so even knowing what support of "the crat system" entails is unclear. I think the Tech issue is something we need to work out soon. For all the controversy surrounding mods, techs have all their powers and more besides, but right now we have no real system for appointing them, the default being at the whim of any mod, which is a shitstorm waiting to happen. DickTurpis (talk) 00:35, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
There is no inherent need to offer a choice, it could be a simple referendum on the mod system. Tmtoulouse (talk) 00:42, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Basically, should we use a community wide election to appoint people to oversee conflicts on the site. If that fails then people can try their hand at coming up with ideas rather than just slinging mud. Tmtoulouse (talk) 00:43, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Appointing anyone is going to be fraught with more problems than we had under the crat system. The problem is that we can't unring these bells. I lament that things are unlikely to get any better by scrapping the moderator system. We'll have the same problems with how to crat; we'll have exactly the same kind of shit that happened last year the first time a crat does something someone doesn't like. What we really need is a much more agile iterative system instead than these endless walls of text that only a few people have the constitution to endure. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 00:50, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
That sounds interesting. How would that work? What are the details?--ADtalkModerator 00:56, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
If you're talking to me, here's what. You draw up a list of a few discrete problems you want to solve. You prioritize them. You address a few of them by doing the least possible thing you perceive to be necessary to solve. Turn it around quickly, perhaps in days or a week, be responsive to whatever validates or invalidates your theory about the problem, pivot when you learn you need to adapt. Rinse, repeat. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 01:04, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
And details how would you do this in detail? Probably need some space on the wiki to bring them up, people that see a problem bring it up and others discuss if its a priority or even a problem. Then you need to have people that are willing structure some sort of way of creating a solution, maybe a vote, maybe something else, but empower them to boot strap the system and guide discussion and implement the decision......wait....Tmtoulouse (talk) 01:09, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry, Nutty, but maybe I'm just not understanding here. You seem to just be describing in a vague way an idealized version of the present system. Actually, you seem to be describing what has happened on this very page, which contains the most streamlined and simple version of a vote that Blue could devise. There are a couple of problems, though. If you do things very quickly, within a few days, then you exclude a huge amount of people from the discussion. Votes typically last at least a week because a lot of people can't check RW every day. So while that's not a fatal flaw, it does essentially mean that only the most active handful of users will have any input, and that's something to recognize.
But really, you haven't proposed any kind of real plan. You've just said a sort of vague, "We will look hard at the problem, and find exactly what needs fixing. We will be completely correct, but take into account what other people are saying, revising as we go. Then we will have votes that take place within thirty minutes that everyone is happy with."
It's not a plan, it's wishful thinking. I agree with it - don't get me wrong, of course I want to "do the least possible thing" necessary to solve the "prioritized" problems within a couple of "days!" But you might as well just say, "My plan is that we fix everything and then unicorns will pleasure you in the gumdrop mountains."--ADtalkModerator 02:06, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
This is an example of why i find these discussions frustrating. There is absolutely nothing streamlined about what Blue is proposing. What I'm talking about bears no resemblance to discussing throwing the whole thing out or going over the whole voting system again. Those are, oh I don't know, pretty big issues to tackle. LIke, they're the whole fucking thing, aren't they? I didn't suggest specific tasks to tackle because we're not past the general issue. But I can think of a few I mentioned below. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 02:27, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I find all these walls of text on policy issues to be offensive for their tendency to be way over broad in addressing problems that either don't exist or that prudence dictates don't require a remedy. That's bad legislative practice. And I sincerely doubt I'm the only person who finds it all so incredibly alienating that I only reluctantly even look at this shit. One benefit of quickly handling discrete tasks in small batches is avoiding this so people don't just tune out with a shrug and a "TL;DR." I think Trent's mostly right here - the only thing I'd stress is being agile - perhaps even Trent might get involved in being the one who guides an iterative approach until things are running smoothly. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 01:13, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Another conundrum: we can't make policy without open discussion, open discussion leads to walls of text. But Nutty's right in that the scope of what's proposed here is too broad. His idea of tackling just the few most important issues now is the way to go, and basically what I proposed as well. Deciding if we grant our special powers by election or by some other means (i.e. mod vs. crat) seems to be the most pressing issue for most people right now. DickTurpis (talk) 01:42, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
That sounds like literally almost exactly what Blue has proposed to do, above (albeit with slightly different wording). Do you have a suggested different wording for the initial vote (what she calls "Tier One?")--ADtalkModerator 02:06, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Mindless pile of bureaucratic nonsense - Level one: Irritating? AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:34, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Who are you talking to? There's a big difference between what I'm talking about and ... throwing the whole thing out. What are some discrete problems to solve? I think two of them relate to userrights at least 2 moderators have abused. What do you think, AD? Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 02:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Dick is - I think - proposing an initial big vote, like what Blue has above, over whether or not to keep the current system or throw it out.
Discrete problems are probably what are outlined above. Who can vote, for example, is one immediate problem with a clear proposed solution.--ADtalkModerator 02:37, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Yeah. That's not what I'm talking about at all. No specific problems are proposed to get addressed up there until after pointlessly overbroad and divisive votes. Ass backwards. Enough is enough. We'll imperiously bootstrap outselves into recognizing the reality that we're never going to get back to crats as they were and simply get down to brass tacks on the stuff that has people fighting like cats and dogs over what moderators even do. I would never have taken the position that Trent's mandate was poorly enough defined that we needed to waste much time refining it, but we've got an obvious problem now. Because of divisions over several of you abusing your rights and treating moderators as superusers. Because there's enough disrespect for some of your approaches that moderators lack moral authority on both sides. Because there are even sides in the first place. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 16:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
If no specific problems are being addressed that can be remedied by addressing specific problems. I sort of thought that's what we're doing here, but I admit we do seem pretty short on specifics. The Big Issue seems to be that there is a vocal group of editors here who think the mod system isn't working, and would like to see it replaced. On one hand, it makes sense to wait for an alternative proposal to get hammered out before we make any decisions (for reasons I've stated elsewhere simply reverting back to the bureaucrat system of 2010 is not feasible), but if we simply have a referendum on whether the moderator system overall is sound (and just needs some alternations and adjustments) we might save ourselves several walls of texts if the referendum passes. Just to be clear, when I say "moderator system" I mean granting our special powers by election, rather than some other system. It would indeed be helpful if everyone was a little more specific when talking about problems and/or solutions. You yourself mention abuse of rights and "superusers." Could you be more specific about what you're referring to? DickTurpis (talk) 16:52, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Blue, AD, and Nx. I don't remember specifically beyond Blue using the tech bit to single Ace out, Nx doing something similar, and several of them using the sysoprevoke bit without cause. Ace and others remember better and I have no idea where the discussion of this stuff is anymore. Re specific problems. How are you missing that a referendum on whether to throw the whole thing out doesn't address anything meaningful? It's typically overblown wankery. If anything I'd turn this fakakta list upside down. Most people don't even know what moderators are supposed to do. There's sharp disagreement among others. It all centers around what powers moderators have. Get that nailed down and you can have a meaningful look at other questions, like how many mods we need. How do you judge this shitheap's failure except with regard to the specific ways in which it's failed? If you really want to avoid a shitstorm you'll rethink whether there's likely to be any peace at all around such a referendum. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 17:57, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
If you can't remember what the incidents were it seems to indicate they weren't particularly significant. I'd say Blue's use of the edit filter on Ace ranks about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 in powers abuse, and was an abuse of tech powers, not mod ones, if I recall correctly. I hardly think these few cases of past abuse are the pressing issues of the hour. Besides, with clear definitions of what the mods can and can't do it's hard to pin down an objective definition of abusive behavior. I agree that the moderator position has never been terribly well defined. I said as much when the concept was proposed, but went along with it thinking we could sort of figure out the details as we go. I guess we're still doing that. You said above "It all centers around what powers moderators have. Get that nailed down and you can have a meaningful look at other questions." Well, what powers they have is about the only thing well defined about them. We have a checklist. When they should use those powers is a less settled issue, but in general they should use them only when other avenues have failed. This can be open to interpretation, but it's a decent start, I guess. For those who insist that the moderator system is a failure, what specifically has failed? It seems to me criticism of the position reminds me of right-wing criticism of the UN: they're simultaneously a powerless collection of self centered idiots who couldn't get a damn thing done if their life depended on it, and also a conniving group of power-hungry autocrats within a hair's breadth of world domination. Which is it? If the problem is that the mods' mandate isn't well defined, how will going back to the crats, who never had a defined mandate in the slightest, fix that? I don't think we can find a solution until we've defined the problem, and so far I haven't been able to pin down exactly what the problem is. DickTurpis (talk) 21:07, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
There were several incidents of Nx mod locking pages, blocking people like me and ToP several hours after incidents had long since settled down and removing rights and implementing sysoprevoke unilaterally. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 21:12, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
OK, but Nx hasn't been a mod in quite some time. Is that a problem with the moderators as a whole or a problem with Nx? I believe mods can be recalled by a simple majority vote, so should such shenanigans happen in the future we know how to deal with them. I don't see how that is a failure of the mod system, nor how it would be any better when we had crats. DickTurpis (talk) 21:20, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
You'd see bedlam if anyone tried recalling a moderator in the climate. Considering we need to figure out what mods can even do, your idea is unhelpful and unresponsive. And we're not talking about the failure of the system in general but the very specific things you asked me to give examples of. You're like a moving target. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 22:21, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure I quite agree with you on several of these things. Clearly people don't mind Blue's exceedingly minor abuses in the face of her useful work, because she keeps getting elected by huge margins. Nx, on the other hand, is no longer a mod. And it also seems like you accused me of abuses? That's honestly a surprise, but if it's the case, I like to think they are also small sins.
One of the virtues of the mod system is that it means that a recall isn't the only avenue to get rid of a mod. With the crat system, once a person was well-liked, the only way they ever lost their powers was flagrant abuse - and often not even then! At least with the mod system, mods only retain their power through the regular choice of the other users.
And why would it be "bedlam" to recall a mod - except inasmuch as all votes involve a bit of bedlam? It would just be a simple vote like any other, if prompted by sufficient outrage, and backed by specific evidence.
As to the voting here, you seem to be proposing that we solve the small items first, and then address the question of whether to keep the system at all. That seems peculiar... if the final vote decided to return to the crat system, then we would have been pretty silly wasting everyone's time with a vote on how many mods there should be.--ADtalkModerator 22:39, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I feel like I've already said I don't think we can throw the whole thing out. Did I say that anywhere? I don't have the will to perpetuate the rest of this discussion. Have fun with yourselves. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 22:48, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
[EC - I guess I'm a bit late here] We're talking about a lot of things, actually. I'm merely trying to figure out what The Big ProblemTM is. Some people are quite unhappy with how this whole moderator business is working out, and I'd like specifics as to why. Clearly it isn't perfect, but we'll have to settle far short of perfection no matter what we do. You mentioned some examples of abuse, and that's a good start, but "When Nx was a mod he was a dick" does not equal "moderators are an utter failure". I'm not convinced that the few examples of past abuse are terribly relevant to the question of the effectiveness of the mod system. Sure, we need to better define what a mod does. Apparently one of their jobs is "to help boot-strap certain policies or procedures that we struggle with." That's a pretty vague and broad mandate, and could be interpreted in a way to give mods a great deal of authority. Trying to define that better is not necessarily a gross expansion of mod powers. The main job of a moderator is to moderate disputes. In truth, any of us can do that, but mods I guess have more of an obligation to do so, and a bit more legitimacy in doing so than some bunchanumbers.
As for your assertion that trying to recall an abusive mod would be Bedlam, I think you're being a bit melodramatic. If a mod genuinely abuses his powers I think getting a majority vote would be pretty easy, and while there'd undoubtedly be some bellyaching from his supporters (assuming he has some) I don't predict chaos. People aren't terribly tolerate of real abuse. Nx was widely lambasted for his voter fraud recently. Part of the problem again is defining abuse when exactly how mods are allowed to use their powers is so ill-defined. Of course, such honing necessitates moar rulez and walls of text. DickTurpis (talk) 22:55, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
The majority of RW discussion is now concerned with rule-making, hand-wringing, voting standards, bullshit, bullshit....all of it totally grandiose in consideration of the size of RW. A waste of time. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger
All right, I'm calling you on that, Ace. For all this talk of rules, rules, rules, I can't find a whole bunch of these new rules on this site for the life of me. Can you point them out? If trying to define the moderators role, so we can have a clear definition of when a mod is abusing their powers, is your idea of unnecessary rule making then we'll have to disagree on what's unnecessary. I'd like the limits of mod power (and tech power, which is significantly greater) well defined so we don't have any of the Nx "I didn't do anything wrong" bullshit. As for voting standards, we had one forum on that last year. Unfortunately it was necessary, but it's done. DickTurpis (talk) 23:14, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I think you need to reread what I wrote, DT. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 23:17, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I read it fine. I guess your beef is that RW is full of policy discussions these days. That much is true. Unfortunately it's necessary. When a sizable number of people complain that the current system needs to be fixed or thrown out because of some issues with it, a policy discussion ensues. There's basically no way around it without dismissing everyone's grievances outright. If nothing else, Nx gave us quite the object lesson in how subject our secret ballot voting is to abuse. Not to toot my own horn here too much but I called it from the get go. If nothing else, we should fix that. That involves "rule-making." That involves textwalls. Sorry, I wish it were easier, but unless Trent wants to hand down a decision from on high this is how we do it. Cue Montell Jordan. DickTurpis (talk) 23:26, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

A group is its own worst enemy[edit]

I didn't read all of this section yet, but to quote Shirky's "A Group is its Own Worse Enemy":

The second thing you have to accept: Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner's phrase for "the group within the group that matters most."

The core group on Communitree was undifferentiated from the group of random users that came in. They were separate in their own minds, because they knew what they wanted to do, but they couldn't defend themselves against the other users. But in all successful online communities that I've looked at, a core group arises that cares about and gardens effectively. Gardens the environment, to keep it growing, to keep it healthy.


The third thing you need to accept: The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations. This pulls against the libertarian view that's quite common on the network, and it absolutely pulls against the one person/one vote notion. But you can see examples of how bad an idea voting is when citizenship is the same as ability to log in.

(Emphasis added.) RW has gutted its core group in favor of a faux democracy, and that's part of the problem. (Read the damn essay.) There is a core group here, but it's divided, and it creates a horrible distraction, especially when everyone wants things to be "fair." sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:36, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

I urge anyone who is interested in the future of RW to read this essay - it has a great deal to say about why we are where we are and what we may need to do about it.
Firstly, according to Shirky, in our current state, we are doomed to go through this cycle forever unless we make some very radical changes about "the way things are done around here".
Notably, and I think this is a bone of contention from "The Old Guard", shirky talks about levels of membership, each of which needs to be earned. As an example he talks about Slashdot's karma system. Look now at RW. When Mara swept in and started telling us how we ought to run the wiki it wasn't just giant bats that put peoples' backs up, there was also a sense of "who the fuck are you to tell us what to do?" OK, being a member of "The Old Guard" doesn't mean that you're necessarily right but that level of involvement and commitment to RW has to count for something. Simply by sticking around you have demnonstrated a commitment to the longevity of RW. We sort of buy into this with the "must be a member of three months standing with 75 edits" when voting but that is there to stop sock/anonymous voting, not to grant those who have invested with a return on that investment.
Moreover, I feel that if we don't change we will be stuck here forever for, what we have now, is close on stagnation. There has been precious little new in main space in ages - and, yes, I'm as guilty of that as any. What there has been has tended to be axe grinding, not serious refutation. If we're to be more than poo flinging monkeys then there has to be a change in the sense of membership, the sense of commitment, the sense of belonging, the sense that making main space contributions means something.
As for how to do this - I wish I knew, I really wish I knew, but, quite frankly, discussions over how many mods to elect is not addressing the core needs. We need to start with what our constitution needs to be and how we reward commitment. Bad Faith (talk) 16:08, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Interestingly enough, that very question was what I considered the most important of all (until everything went to shit and I got bogged down in administrative policy and politics). Ways to reward commitment. One idea that has kind of dropped off was the Pat on the back society. We have had several brainstar award templates for years that have gone mostly unused. On WP, they have all these award templates that users brag about on their user pages. I don't think we have much of that - sure, some users list the articles they've written, but that's not the same.
What we did have to "reward" people (as sysops were given out to anyone with a pulse) was the 'crat bit. Some were given out for friendship - okay, most were - and others were given out for technical expertise and dedication. The frustration became, "Well, I'm really active, I've done so much for this site, and we have five people equal to me in user rights who haven't edited in a year" - so we actually removed several inactive 'crats. Then the frustration became, "I'm really active, I've done so much for this site, and my opinions are subordinated to people who've done next to nothing but have been here longer." So the 'crat bit became a highly imperfect reward. It became a "you get what you want, but not what you need" thing, because what you needed was to be recognized for your hard work, but instead you got the same thing as was handed out to a user who just told a lot of jokes, or makes one edit to WIGO:CP every month.
"Younger" 'crats like me tended to think of their bit that way, that getting the 'crat bit meant you were important and valued and others thought so too. But the older folks always slightly paradoxically insisted that since RW was a mobocracy, the bit meant nothing. What it sounded like was, "That trophy we just gave you to reward you for your dedication and contributions? It's really meaningless." User rights are an impractical and imperfect reward system. Like you, I don't know what is, but maybe the Pat on the Back Society and the brainstars are a place to start. Blue (pester) 18:17, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
The mod system, of course, rewards nothing but popularity and Nx's socks. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 18:29, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
(EC)I would like to point out that of all the ex-crats arguing here, only two were elected to the position. And while I cannot speak for AD, I viewed cratship as "making it". It was pretty much the sign that you were "one of the guys". We have barnstars and such but I recall them being mentioned as "masturbation". As to bragging about your contributions... ТyAsk me about frog-backed securities 18:34, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I didn't see it as "making it" per se. 'Cratship provided little for someone who just wanted to edit and trusted the others to appoint sysops and change names. In my eyes at least, the hyperobsession over user rights just didn't exist until maybe 2 years ago. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 18:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
It was nice to be elected. I'm not sure I did anything with it.--ADtalkModerator 02:04, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

The third thing you need to accept: The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations. This pulls against the libertarian view that's quite common on the network, and it absolutely pulls against the one person/one vote notion. But you can see examples of how bad an idea voting is when citizenship is the same as ability to log in. Yes, that's true. The problem with RW is that everyone has their goddamned sacred individual rights that trump everything, that one individual can decide that they don't like the consensus, and can ignore it and do what they want. -- Nx / talk 06:34, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Or rig an election. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 13:01, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Without some objective way of defining "the core group" this is all meaningless anyway. DickTurpis (talk) 13:17, 3 August 2012 (UTC)


I just had a vegan friend over for dinner and I made chickpea burgers. Was better than I expected. VOXHUMANA 13:23, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

If I had a vegan friend I'll feed them ground beef and haggis, all mixed together in a paste which I'd call "lentil stew". AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:07, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I am going to tell the almighty goat about that when the Baaah-pture happens. You will thus be destined to burn in hell (or as we call it, "Suburban Melbourne") VOXHUMANA 03:07, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I am going to be in Melbourne next month. I'll hunt you down. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 03:10, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Look for me in Heidelberg West. I'm not there, but the very thought of you (all hellbent on vengeance) wandering endlessly through that cultural wasteland amuses me greatly. VOXHUMANA 03:15, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
The only places I'll be are the city and possibly near Richmond. if you want my fury you'll find me there. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger
I actually live in Sydney, so unlikely. (Unless you want to be in the Sydney suburb of Richmond... and um, you really don't.) Have fun in Melbourne though. VOXHUMANA 13:11, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Somebody please tell me[edit]

Exactly which passages of the word-salad above I should read that will help me to understand how any of this will help make us more productive in terms of creating mainspace articles that will draw in more readers/create a quality product/advance the goals of the website and of the foundation. The rest of it, I presume, has to do with policy discussions that will only effect 1. votes for the sake of voting; and 2. attempts to police the behavior of people posting in TWIGO pages and the Saloon. What specifically will all/any of this do to advance the project of promoting rational/critical thought in terms of science, religion and politics? Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 00:43, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

That's a big question.
Yes, it would be ideal if all discussions of policy were strictly related to advancing the project's mission. But because RationalWiki is written by people, there are frequent disagreements. Some people really strongly disagree, and some people are only here to amuse themselves by causing trouble. Because of this, we have to work out ways to manage our interpersonal relations - when two people disagree, how do we solve it? When someone does something wrong, how do we punish them to deter future behavior, or reduce their ability to cause damage?
I'm sorry if this seems condescending, but really you asked a great question: shouldn't we be thinking towards our real goal, here? So I'm thinking out loud a bit, here.
So we have to work out ways to manage conflict. And because we want those ways to be fair, without allowing any person or persons to control the system, we vote. And because we vote, we need rules on how to vote.
This stuff is tedious, sure. But there is a very real point. It doesn't deserve your contempt. We're trying to cook up some insightful and truthful articles on pseudoscience and all the crap of the world, and so we should justly be focusing on the sumptuous banquet that is our end goal - but that doesn't mean we should scorn the humble spoon that helps us make it, right? The little things matter, too - they just matter a little, not a lot.--ADtalkModerator 02:24, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Not just condescending but pompous and arrogant. I have noticed your recent tendency to address people who don't quite agree or understand what you are trying to achieve with an manner not to dissimilar to the way I assume you address a student you have decided isn't particularly bright. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:27, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
So, AD, now that you've upset your buddies, are you going to backtrack and apologize, reversing your stance and removing any remnants of your spine?--"Shut up, Brx." 02:32, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
You're an idiot. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:49, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
That was an extremely on-point, relevant and helpful comment, Brxbrx. Thank you for contributing to advancing this conversation. Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 02:41, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I apologize if my tone was pompous. It truly was not my intention, and I really was thinking aloud. I think ToP was, as I said, right to point out that we should be thinking about our end goals a little more. But I also think that this stuff does still matter.--ADtalkModerator 02:52, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
EC "So we have to work out ways to manage conflict. .... The little things matter, too - they just matter a little, not a lot." The overwhelming majority of that conflict happens in places that are peripheral to the project. I am going to keep hammering at that point until someone besides Ty, Goat love him, starts to understand how messed up it is that we are spending so much time dealing with issues that have nothing to do with what we are supposed to be working towards/have donated our money to assist/have gained a formal, tax-exempt corporate identity to do. And while these things "don't matter a lot," they take up a huge chunk of our electronic and emotional space--way out of all proportion to their marginal importance. How many of these conversations have we had in two years? How can we go from a 'crat system to a Loya Jirga to Mods all in the space of, what, two years? That's more than one system of rule a year. It's like living in Ghana in the 1960s--who's the president today? What kind of constitution do we have this week? — Unsigned, by: TheoryOfPractice / talk / contribs 2012-08-03T02:37:00‎
I'm happy with the mod system. I think it needs minor tweaks. You'll get no argument from me on the point that a vote to return to the crat system is a waste of time. But there are a very vocal group of people who would not accept that, I think.--ADtalkModerator 02:52, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't think returning to the 'crat system would be possible. I have been trying to use it as something to contrast this current crap against. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 02:55, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
If I had my way, we'd have a vote on how many mods and what the franchise is, and that would be it. Simple and it would solve our immediate problems.--ADtalkModerator 02:57, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually, I think I'd just start a vote on those three questions above (how many mods, what voting system, how to pick techs) plus franchise. If I didn't think it would get me lynched, I'd start that vote right now.--ADtalkModerator 02:59, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
If I had my way there'd be no Brx, May 2011 never took place and RW would still be growing in a organic/chaotic fashion. It'd be a libertarian dream site. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 03:00, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
How can it be a libertarian dream site if you get to boot people you don't like? And RW is growing in a quite organic and definitely very chaotic fashion. -- Nx / talk 06:24, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
How about fuck off Nx? Jesus, you're as worthless as the scum that leaks out of my pores when I lay down at 6am after a night on MDMA. A weird unctuous film that coats the body that you just want to get rid of but no matter how many showers you have it stays and reminds you of how awful shit can get when you ain't paying attention. So yeah, get fucked girly boy. AceThe Rep Grows Bigger 05:02, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
You won all the arguments at that school for "special" children, right? -- (talk) 16:24, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
EC Didn't we have that vote last year? (EDit: the how many mods/franchise ones, not the techs one) Is there any real reason to change that? Would more mods keep Ace from putting up cock pictures? Would fewer mods stop Rob's trolling? Would the same number of mods keep Proxie and Godot from coming to blows? Besides the peripheral issue of sock voting, is there any good reason to revisit the franchise? What positive or negative effect would changing the franchise have? Theory of Practice "the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." 03:02, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
One person wouldn't get six votes if we changed the franchise slightly. It can easily be made much harder for socks to vote without burdening any real voters. Nx has admitted he had his socks vote. As for how many mods, I don't care, but a lot of other people seem to.--ADtalkModerator 03:05, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
For all the furor over my sock voting, you guys are still missing the point. I did not have enough socks to get anyone elected, and in fact my sock votes barely changed the outcome (only one alternate was different, if I remember correctly). I did it to force the issue, because last time it was completely ignored, with Nutty even scoffing at the idea of thinking about maybe fixing the problem before it occurs. And now he wants to hang, draw and quarter me. -- Nx / talk 06:24, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Eh I don't recall expressing that sentiment so openly. I would have been happier assuming good faith regarding something that hard to police. We already knew it was possible and that changing a rule wouldn't stop someone from polluting the vote. The only real solution to the issue you think you forced is server side. Congratulations on bringing trolling to a whole new level. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 13:00, 3 August 2012 (UTC)