RationalWiki:Community Standards/Revamp, January 2009

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This project to update the Community Standards has been completed. Please do not add to any of the discussions here, or on the other pages involved in the rewrite. Any further comments or suggestions regarding the standards should be raised on the Community Standards talk page.

The discussion is divided by subject, to allow for individual issues to be addressed one at a time.

Because the revamped version on the right is being constantly revised, to avoid confusion please make a note that you have changed the text in the relevant discussion section.

Introductory paragraph about the guidelines[edit]

Old community standards

This is the list of guidelines defined by the RationalWiki community. These are not site rules but rather a list of standards we as a community want to live up to. Please do your best to live up to these standards.

Proposed revamp

These are the guidelines defined by the RationalWiki community. These are not site rules but rather a list of standards we as a community try to live up to. Please do your best to live up to them.

Discussion of intro[edit]

I like the idea of keeping them informal, but we should try to make a distinction between what rules/guidelines are acceptable to occaisionally break and which are really BAD to break. ArmondikoVtheist 08:29, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I thought I changed the second use of "these standards" to "them". The repetition isn't very good writing, and the referent of "them" is obvious. Thoughts? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:20, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Paragraph about the mission statement[edit]

Old community standards

[The old community standards do not mention this.]

Proposed revamp

As stated in our mission statement, RationalWiki's official purpose is to

(1) analyze and refute the anti-science movement,
(2) analyze and refute crank ideas, and
(3) explore the nature of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.

We also have a fourth, unofficial purpose, which is to provide people who agree with the previously-stated goals a place to just hang out and have fun with like-minded people.

RationalWiki is not a general encyclopedia, and articles not somehow related to the above mission statements are generally moved out of the mainspace (see below).

Discussion of mission statement section[edit]

I indented and stacked the "missions" - d'ya all think it looks better than sortof run-on prose? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:26, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Yeah, what about using the actual # markup for it or will that not work in the side-by-side for now.ArmondikoVtheist 14:21, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I'm still not sure about officially defining an unofficial purpose.--Bobbing up 11:58, 14 January 2009 (EST)
How about putting in something along the lines of "To promote understanding of these issues, RationalWiki also has basic articles on scientific topics." Gauss 14:53, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Could be a good idea.--Bobbing up 13:10, 27 January 2009 (EST)
So are we going to do this?--Bobbing up 03:47, 1 February 2009 (EST)

How RationalWiki is run[edit]

Old community standards
  1. This is a mobocracy. 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. We are ultimately an expression of the active editors on this project. What is written about, how it is discussed, parsed and organized is a reflection of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies.
Proposed revamp

RationalWiki is a mobocracy. Some would use a tautology to describe it ("The way things are done around here is the way things are done around here"). But the most helpful description is that, in the course of numerous talk page discussions and edits to articles, a rough consensus emerges which approximates our actual policies.

Please keep in mind that the standards below are only an approximation of what the mob has decided.

Discussion of mobocracy[edit]

Says: Therefore, keep in mind that the policies below are only an approximation of what the mob has decided, and are themselves probably being debated on a talk page right now.

Suggest reword to "Therefore, keep in mind that the policies below are only an approximation of what the mob has decided, and may even be being debated on a talk page right now."--Bobbing up 05:23, 9 January 2009 (EST)

Is that the proper grammar for what I was trying to say? It just sounds awkward—the "be being" part in particular. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 05:31, 9 January 2009 (EST)
My point is that they are probably not being debated. Though the possibility exists.Bobbing up
"Policies are subject to alteration should an unforseen precedent force them to. The talkpage of this article on the rules will show the most recent debates about the rules and their enforcement". Which brings me to the idea that ANY policy discussion should go on the policy talkpage rather than create a new debate-space thing that will just be forgotten. When it's boiled down, it can be archived as a policy subpage (possibly with a summary left on the talkpage for review) and we have a (nearly) blank canvas to start the next rehash of the rules. It might sound like work, but it has to be done to keep the site functioning and consistent, the userbase is getting too large for things like this to be left unorganised. ArmondikoVtheist 05:58, 9 January 2009 (EST)

Personally, I much preferred the original explanation of the mobocracy & don't see what needs changing about it. I think it explained the concept pretty well. As for the new one, I really don't like "you'll need a fairly thick skin to participate". See my comments on personal attacks below. Just because personal attacks have been happening recently does not mean they are inevitable or something users have to put up with. This isn't a good message to write into our standards. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:51, 10 January 2009 (EST)

I'll relent on the "need a fairly thick skin" part, but I find a tautology to describe anything to be incredibly helpful and even dishonest. A tautology, any tautology, is a lazy person's way out of having to actually explain something. One would think that for something as important as the community standards, a group as intelligent as us would be able to come up with a description that is actually helpful and faithfully describes how we operate. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:42, 10 January 2009 (EST)
I like the tautology - it sums up mobocracy pretty well in a sentence, while also being a neat little riddle. And it was followed by a good explanation, so I don't see it as laziness - "We are ultimately an expression of the active editors on this project. What is written about, how it is discussed, parsed and organized is a reflection of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies." I don't think that this aspect (that how things are done by community is a reflection of the standards & preferences of the individuals making up the community) is explained as well in the current wording. Perhaps this original wording could be added into the current paragraph along with what's there already, since they're explaining the same thing in a different way. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:37, 11 January 2009 (EST)
I must say I don't like this paragraph at all. The tautology doesn't say much at all, and I agree with RA that it's a lazy way out. But actually, the next point ("only an approximation of what the mob has decided") is even worse - surely we should be able to express at least reasonably clearly what it is we have decided, otherwise it isn't much of a decision in the first place? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:57, 12 January 2009 (EST)
But that's the point. We don't make grand unanimous decisions on immovable rules. We have various standards which reflect the standards of the individuals making up the community. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:25, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I think there's a significant difference between "immovable rules" and "being clear about what the standards are". The whole point of having a page like this is to outline what the present standards are, both for out own benefit and that of new users. If the standards change in the future, then the page can be changed as well, just as we are doing at this very moment. One could even make the argument that clearly outlining what the standards are at any given point makes the process of changing them that much easier if necessary. (At least considering how difficult it has been to actually get to this point, I'd say it's been the old, vague standards that were more immovable, if anything.) --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 21:37, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I agree, AK. A real world example is the US Constitution. If there had been a new Convention every, say, ten years, such a thing would not be so scary, and some of the language would have steadily evolved to be easier to understand (original intent and all that crap). One could argue the 2nd-11th amendments, the bill of rights (the actual 1st amendment never passed, IIRC), were almost such a thing. But now, 230 years later, the idea of a ConCon is much harder to swallow, especially since the interpretation of certain passages has become so politicized. Anyway, here we are, trying to more accurately describe how we actually do things... ħumanUser talk:Human 13:30, 13 January 2009 (EST)

On site[edit]

We make no mention about on and off site business. All site policy should be made on site, but what is expectable to discuss off site? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 23:36, 14 January 2009 (EST)

Ignoring for a moment Trent and I talking on the phone and making decisions about who your DNA will be available to, all site business should be conducted transparently, on the wiki. Which I think we have always adhered to. I hope. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:42, 14 January 2009 (EST)
I can haz DNA? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 23:47, 14 January 2009 (EST)

On the subject of religion[edit]

Old community standards

[Not mentioned.]

Proposed revamp

Our official policy on religion is that we do not have an official policy on religion. Our community of editors includes followers of various religions, as well as many atheists. Please bear this in mind when editing.

Discussion of our dogma on dogma[edit]

Explicitly say "this is not an atheist website"? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:17, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Should we be saying something equivalent about politics & not having a specific political stance as a site, or would that just be opening another can of worms? ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:27, 12 January 2009 (EST)
It would also be lying to say this, as this site clearly pushes left-progressive dogma. Secret Squirrel 11:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Can I be a bore and suggest that we also reference the Scientific Point of View here? To be frank, our articles on the subject are... uh, not always characterized by a particularly high level of erudition (if I may put it that way.) --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 21:43, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Suggestion: "Our support for all things Rational does not, however, mean that this site is officially pro-atheism or anti-religion. Your belief or non-belief is your business, and this outlook lets our community focus on our shared interests instead of our differences. We do ask that new members have their dogmas spayed or neutered to minimize aggression." --SpinyNorman 10:14, 13 January 2009 (EST)
"Leave your dogma at the door" perhaps? ArmondikoVtheist 11:09, 13 January 2009 (EST)
How about a mention of being secular? I agree with not having an official stance of pro-atheism or anti-theism, particularly as I am not an atheist, but I think that a pro-secular worldview might be explicitly stated. Maybe something like this: "While this site is often critical of religion, we are not officially atheist. In fact, we disagree with anybody pushing their religious beliefs, or lack of them, on anybody else. We are secular, and advocate a secular approach to all issues of public interest. Your beliefs are just between you and God, Allah, Vishnu, Tom Cruise, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Sol Invictus, or Richard Dawkins." This would preclude an explicit Dawkinsonian assault on theism as official policy, however, although I see that as being no different than any other kind of proselytizing. CorryDr. Funke's 100 Percent Natural Good Time Family Band Solution 11:11, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Don't forget Cthulhu. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I don't think we explicitly do not wany people to talk about their religion, but for it not to dominate. I also think we could say that we like evidence for assertions. Sterilerationalize 11:30, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Mentioning scientific POV would be useful, & also help to explain all the times when we are critical of religions without making us look like hypocrites. Maybe add to the paragraph above something like "We do, however, have a rationalist point of view, and believe that the scientific method is the most reliable framework for researching and understanding what happens in our universe. For this reason, we are critical of both religious and secular movements which oppose scientific thought and knowledge." ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 13:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Yeah, something like that, although I'd personally drop the "we believe" part, it has the same connotations as "we believe in Thor" etc. It's really closer to "we have come to the conclusion that". I mean it's picky, but it's a minor linguistic thing that I've been paying attention to for a few month. ArmondikoVtheist 14:25, 13 January 2009 (EST)
To be more specific, when I referred to Scientific Point of View, I was not thinking of rationalism, but rather to a sentiment along the lines of "Please make sure that what you write about religion is not simply random stuff you believe to be true, but actually reasonable and at least minimally well researched." --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:41, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I say that, "random stuff you believe to be true" might describe various articles.--Bobbing up 12:12, 14 January 2009 (EST)
"Please make sure that what you write about religion is not simply random stuff you believe to be true, but actually reasonable and at least minimally well researched." - Yeah, it's not true. Sorry, AK, but really. Faith and truth are pretty much mutually exclusive. NOMA be damned. I don't usually come down this hard on the religion thing, but I guess I am here. I'm all for the "many paths, many people, tolerance, diversity" approach here. But surely you don't expect me to thing that your gods are "real" do you? I definitely don't expect you to think mine are. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:04, 15 January 2009 (EST)
Human, I'm talking about religion, not faith - not the supernatural stuff itself, but facts about how it expresses itself in the world, organisationally, sociologically, historically and so on. I don't like bringing up specific examples, but I'm talking about things like this article. Even a minimal effort such as a few minutes of basic fact-checking on Wikipedia would show just how absurd this stuff is. The problem is that while our natural scientific articles are usually based on very serious research, the articles dealing with the softer sciences are far too often of a ridiculously low standard because people apparently tend to interpret "snarky" as "I don't need to check my facts", and to be honest, that pisses me off. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 06:17, 15 January 2009 (EST)

Personal conduct[edit]

Old community standards
  1. Personal "attacks", however justified, are strongly frowned upon.
  2. Personal information about other users that is not volunteered by that user should not be posted on this site. This includes IP addresses, and even where an IP address is volunteered, discussion of the user's geographical location, place of employment, or other private information (even if publicly available) is frowned upon.
  3. An editor's User page space is inviolable; they are free to do with it what they want (common-sense-exceptions apply), and no one should edit it without permission. However, the user talk page space is public and does not belong to the user. No deletion of talk page material is permitted, but archiving may be done periodically.
  4. Good wandals are respected at RationalWiki, a good wandal is someone that brings creativity and humor to bear on their attempt at disruption. These kinds of wandals will not only not be blocked but their efforts will be saved for posterity on Special Wandal Archives. However, unfunny wandalism, personal attacks, libel, and disruption for the sake of disruption can all merit a block and at the very least such edits will be wiped clean and forgotten about.
  5. Please, don't be a dick. Even though we encourage those with alternative points of view to join this wiki and share their ideas with us, we ask and encourage you to consider how your actions look to other people. Hate speech or attempting to promote an agenda that offends the community and does not relate to RationalWiki's mission anywhere but on talk pages will almost certainly be removed or archived rapidly, and if you persist in recreating the content, you may be removed from this site for a period of time.
Proposed revamp
  • Assume good faith on the part of other editors.
  • Don't panic. This is a wiki, and any damage can be undone with the click of a button.
  • We prefer and encourage that users and editors become a part of the community. We encourage everyone to join in, be bold, and engage in sensible debate but expect them to do so without resorting to vandalizing articles or harassing other users.
  • Discussions here sometimes get heated, but resorting to personal attacks is strongly frowned upon, however justified they may seem. In particular, racist, sexist and homophobic language and insults are not tolerated. Accusations of fascism or comparisons to Hitler are also best avoided (see Godwin's Law).
  • RationalWiki respects the right of people to be heatedly debating something on one page and joking around on another—at the same time. If, during an argument, you try to turn every possible page you (or someone you disagree with) appear on into another front of the battle, that's being a dick.
  • If an edit you make is repeatedly reverted, (e.g. an edit war has started), or someone has otherwise objected to it, then talk it out on the article's talk page. It is the best possible way for editors to reach any sort of understanding or compromise.
  • An editor's userspace is their personal space and they are free to do with it what they want (excepting patently offensive material). Most users don't mind minor spelling corrections by other editors on their userpage, but don't assume that of everyone. Many editors allow joke edits made in good humor to slide, but again, not everyone is so accepting. A user's talk page is public and does not belong to the user. No deletion of talk page material is permitted, although archiving may be done periodically.

Discussion of conductivity[edit]

I think we could lose the bolding... ħumanUser talk:Human 21:17, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Oh, c'mon. I think it highlights the most important points nicely. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:45, 12 January 2009 (EST)
We say: "RationalWiki respects the right of people to be heatedly debating something on one page and joking around on another—at the same time." Do we need to state this? It would petty weird if we didn't respect this "right".--Bobbing up 02:02, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I put it in because I felt it was one of the unique aspects of the community on RationalWiki. And to counter your point, it is no more "weird" to include it than the rule against personal attacks. Just because it can go without saying doesn't mean it should. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:37, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Well, it's worth mentioning because I've seen debates spill over to other areas before. It's an unwritten rule for some people that if you're disagreeing with someone in a specified politics or debate area that you don't allow any animosity to influence your posting elsewhere. I think it's a very good idea, and worthy to be mentioned in a set of guidelines because clearly some people will take individual events very personally and use it as an excuse to be a git in completely separate discussions. ArmondikoVtheist 11:12, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Re: what Bob quoted. I think it should just say "often people are heatedly...". It's only purpose is to lead in to the request to avoid spillover, I think. Re: Bolding, italics are used for emphasis. Bold is more for things like the intro to each section in a list, which this starts out looking like, but then the bolds stop and a phrase in the middle of a later sentence is bolded. ħumanUser talk:Human 13:34, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I think resolving content disputes (i.e. edit warring & discussing on talk page) should be a separate section & go into a bit more depth. It should address this rule of three thing if we're going with that, and more formal voting (as discussed below) as a last resort for particularly difficult disagreements. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:16, 13 January 2009 (EST)

What about personal attacks? --"ConservapediaUndergroundTransistoris overworked and overbearing 12:13, 17 January 2009 (EST)

Frowned on, unless they're on you, of course. Toast s.png (Crumpets) and butter 12:17, 17 January 2009 (EST)
I thought we were also against hipocrisy. --"ConservapediaUndergroundTransistoris overworked and overbearing 13:41, 17 January 2009 (EST)
Good grief, no. It's the foundation stone of RationalWiki. Toast s.png (Crumpets) and butter 13:44, 17 January 2009 (EST)

The vandal bin and blocking[edit]

Old community standards

Our blocking system is designed to be forgiving, predictable and as clear as possible. Our blocking scheme follows the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8...). The "unit" of the time will be up to the discretion of the blocking sysop who has the following units available:

  • Seconds-For fun blocks, harmless edits/warnings, random harassment of fellow sysops.
  • Minutes-For minor vandalism and disruption, questionable attacks on other users, inserting potentially libelous material in an article, and minor edits to other user pages when not requested.
  • Hours/Days-For more major vandalism and disruption that requires serious clean-up, serious attacks or threats against the site or other users. Repeated libel, vandalism and attacks.

Offenses from multiple IDs of the same user will all be assessed as a single user.

Other sysops are encouraged to unblock a user if they feel it is unjustified. Users who feel they have been unfairly blocked should e-mail any other sysops, users, or post on the forums. In all cases, discussion is encouraged, and blocks should always be explained on the user's talk page.

Proposed revamp

RationalWiki has a special feature called the vandal bin, which allows sysops and bureaucrats to put vandals into a special user-group that limits the number of edits they can make to once every half hour. It allows RationalWiki to restrict the abilities of vandals while still allowing them the opportunity to protest their punishment (something blocks, by their very nature, do not allow).

And to reiterate above, assume good faith, and if and when that faith is betrayed, don't panic. A few edits by vandals does not a crisis make, so don't flip out and rampage over anyone who strikes you as maybe being a vandal. Wait until they make an edit or two, and if they are clearly vandalism then put them in the vandal bin. Additionaly, if an edit by a new user is questionable but not blatant vandalism, ask them about it on their userpage before assuming they are a vandal and vandal-binning them.

Discussion of wandals and blocking[edit]

Copied from talk page[edit]

This is good, but contradicts RW:BLOCK. Shouldn't we rewrite that first? Also vandal bin doesn't work on IP what do we do then? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 05:25, 9 January 2009 (EST)

There also should be information for the blockie saying that they should take it in good faith if it is short. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 05:27, 9 January 2009 (EST)
RW:BLOCK seems okay, it just needs to be followed. We tried the fibonnaci thing with FD (Well, I tried it) but it never got far enough to become 2 months (He was enough of a toerag to start it on the MONTH scale and then found RWW to voice his opinions on so essentially went away and hasn't returned as the ban expired this month). ArmondikoVtheist 05:30, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Fall down is on the Fibbonacci sequence he is currently on 1 year, next is 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, 8 years... - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 05:32, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Ah, I didn't see it upgraded to years. :S ArmondikoVtheist 05:36, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I disagree with our current block policy on the most fundamental of levels. With the introduction of the vandal bin, blocking is now the morally inferior choice. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 05:43, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Actually I don't see the vandal bin and the FS being totally compatible. I'd say we should junk the FS.Bobbing up 05:45, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 05:50, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I think it probably started as a joke to show that most people know something about maths. It's a nice exponential sequence that works if it was implimentent properly but lets face it, the one big problem we've had used proxies to get around the blocks very easily. Anyone deserving a block (by RW standards) is likely to be enough of an arsehole to actively try to get around it any way possible. ArmondikoVtheist 06:03, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Exponential sequence? It is linear my friend doesn't grow faster than O(x). - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 23:45, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Sorry about that I need to think better it is exponential. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 23:49, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Which brings us back around to the question of why bother blocking at all. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 06:13, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Indeed. But the practical question is; we have Tit 12 and Fred 15 now. If we didn't block the original accounts, would we have these additional ones cropping up? If yes, then it doesn't matter. If not, then we'd only need to put them into the vandal bin and not worry too much (unless they use every edit every half hour and that would be too much work, but it looks from the posting behaviour like that wouldn't be the case). It wouldn't make a difference, we'd still get the occaisional edit but only from one account. What about degrees of vandal bin (would that take trent too much time to set up), reducing you to one edit every half hour or for a true and proven (bot-like, such as Fred and co) vandal, one a day or even less. It'd be the equiverlent of blocking but needing a lot less maintenence. ArmondikoVtheist 06:26, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I agree, Armondikov. I had been thinking that the vandal bin should be reduced to once per day, too, although I didn't think of creating various levels of vandals. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 06:32, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I think Trent will get it working for IPs before long. If it's once a day they'll just sock up as it stands; so might as well be left as it is until IPs can be vandalbinned. fröhlich "gay" and "happy" 06:36, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Yes, but IP identification doesn't work for proxies unless we want to rangeblock (definitely not) or block things like Tor (pointless, because there will ALWAYS be others that we've missed). ArmondikoVtheist 06:47, 9 January 2009 (EST)
A day's editing ban is very like a day's block but without the IP being blocked. If you're going to use edit bans of this length of time you might as well block. If someone with a day's edit ban wants to edit, they'll just sock up while if they've only an hour to wait, they won't be as likely to bother. Toast 07:09, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Hm. That never occurred to me. Of course, it wouldn't, as I have barely any experience with serious socking (unlike you, eh ; ) ). Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 07:18, 9 January 2009 (EST)
That did occur to me. The difference is that a one day block expires, while a day long vandal break doesn't, it'll keep reinstating itself. If a bot-like vandal such as Fred comes, posts and goes away, they'll still be limited when they come back a week or month later. Whereas if you block for a day, they go away and you need to reblock again, and again and again. Socks and proxies will always remain a problem regardless of the method. ArmondikoVtheist 07:39, 9 January 2009 (EST)

I strongly disagree with not blocking vandals. The ones we encounter most regularly use multiple accounts & alternate between them, so the vandal bin is ineffective: they can still do a substantial amount of vandalism in a few minutes. The only thing that stops them is getting blocked, because it blocks their IP. It doesn't need to be a long block (an hour would probably do), just long enough to make them go away. A vandal using TOR might need to be blocked two or three times like this, but they'll usually get bored with having to route through new IP paths. But if we don't block at all, we might get vandal sprees lasting an hour or so, which would take a hell of a lot of effort to clear up.

As well as the practical advantages, blocking also sends a message of what we won't tolerate, which I don't think the vandal bin does as effectively. This is one advantage of the fibonacci sequence, in that, if the vandal persists, they get longer & longer blocks. The downside of the fibonacci is that it only works if everyone does it, and it requires checking how long the vandal was blocked for previously, & becomes unmanageable if the vandal is using multiple accounts. So I think the sequence should be scrapped, but we should still be using blocks (of usually no more than a day) on users who continue to vandal maliciously after being vandal binned &/or given a warning.

Finally, we should mention something about friendly blocks. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 07:51, 10 January 2009 (EST)

I find your suggestion the most compelling, Weaseloid. While I am still opposed to any blocks in principle, I also know that I can't force that opinion on the site as policy (but not for lack of trying). I find your suggestion to be the best because it doesn't condone long, months-long blocks, acknowledges that there is a certain practicality in blocking persistent vandals, and also finally kills the Fibonacci sequence as a blocking tool. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:52, 10 January 2009 (EST)
So - have we decided to not block anybody?--Bobbing up 03:51, 1 February 2009 (EST)

Further discussion of wandals and blocking[edit]

Shouldn't this at least mention blocking in some way? Also, another thing that might need to be considered is that thing recently about whether or not to issue blocks on request - which I personally don't see a problem with. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:48, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Also, can we drop the bolding? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:18, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I've copied the relevant thread from the talk page, as the blocking policy still hasn't been agreed. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:34, 12 January 2009 (EST)
We're not moving forward on this, & I think it's one of the most urgent issues. Some people are acting as if a consensus has been reached (not to block vandals at all) when in fact there's been no agreement. Other people have mentioned permablocking all TOR nodes; again nothing decided. I'm going to intercom this to try & revive the discussion. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:34, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I think short (hours or so) blocks are useful with random vandals. Beyond that, they're only useful to make us sign in. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:43, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I think we should just use the vandal brake, and not bother with blocks. Blocks are only useful for cleaning vandals up, and it would be pretty damn hard to vandalize so extensively that we couldn't undo it in half an hour. As for users who want to be blocked, if they are a sysop, let them block themselves and retire their sysopship. If they aren't a sysop, extend the offer to them if they fit the normal criteria, and if they turn it down, that's their business. I also think we should block the TOR nodes, because there is no real reason to leave them open. There are no privacy concerns, as we don't check your IP, and the only real use is block evasion. Phantom Hoover 15:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I'm against blocking any IP. First, someone operating or using a TOR node could be a legitimate visitor (we shouldn't be the ones deciding if there's a privacy concern), second, IPs can change. I know it's unlikely, but if you start there, where do you stop? Block proxies on proxy.org? It's a slippery slope to TKland from there. I also think we should be cautious with ip blocks to force users to log in and for retirements. Those should always be done with account creation enabled. There are a few right now that have account creation disabled (although all the infinite ones don't), so maybe this should be mentioned here. Aside from that I agree with you that blocks are mostly worthless, with the vandal bin in place. -- Nx talk 07:10, 27 January 2009 (EST)

Demoting and promoting users[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp
Clarification: In keeping with RationalWiki tradition, promotion is referred to as "demotion" and actual demotion is referred to as "promotion".

Any user who is not a vandal or troll is generally demoted to sysop. It is left up to bureaucrats to judge for themselves whether or not a user is a vandal. (Remember that this is a wiki, so any damage done by a vandal who manages to be demoted can easily be undone.)

A user can always request to not be demoted, and bureaucrats are to respect these requests.

A user can be promoted out of the sysop group for only a few reasons:

  • The user asks to be de-sysopped.
  • The user is revealed to be a vandal or troll.
  • An otherwise non-vandal sysop repeatedly abuses their ability to block non-sysop, non-vandal users and/or their ability to lock pages.

Discussion of sysoprics[edit]

Especially now two notorious page burners are sysops can I suggest a three strike rule. The first major abuse of Sysop power is taken to be a misunderstanding of the rules, like Jammy the other day deleting a talkpage and blocking a user at their request. Second okay maybe they still haven't got the point another helpful little message on their talkpage. Third violation they are promoted back to editor until they learn the ropes better. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 20:33, 12 January 2009 (EST)

"A user can always request to not be demoted, and bureaucrats are to respect these requests." I don't think I agree with this... ħumanUser talk:Human 21:20, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I don't agree with the split infinitive. They are requesting not to be demoted, not "to not be demoted". ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:30, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I'm having trouble understanding your position, Human. Could you explain to me why you disagree with bureaucrats having to respect the wishes of other users? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:42, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I also have don't understand Human's position and also the not blocking retired users if they ask for it. If it is specifically requested by the user then they can have their way. I know CPadmin didn't want to be a sysop because he felt it made his position at CP untenable so he was desysopped. Why can't this apply to other people? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 22:01, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I agree that if someone doesn't want it, then just don't give it to them. Knock up a template "I DON'T WANT SYSOP POWERS!" or something. Even if the change is barely noticiable and quite minor there's no reason to force it onto people. ArmondikoVtheist 11:17, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I remember not too long ago somebody trying to refuse demotion and it turned into a big, stupid argument. What's the point of pushing somebody into something they don't want? CorryDr. Funke's 100 Percent Natural Good Time Family Band Solution 11:23, 13 January 2009 (EST)
The template is a good idea, and I guess I see the point about "respecting user's requests", of course. As far as not blocking "retired" users, if they are retired, why do they need to be blocked? (Of course, we could unblock them after they are gone ;)) ħumanUser talk:Human 13:12, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I agree with π's three strike rule, it makes sense. However, there could be different interpretations of what a "major abuse" is, so who should make that decision in practice? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)
We might be stuck with "bureaucrat discretion" on that one, although the discretion should probably come after someone else brings it up (the first two times obviously require carefully-worded warnings), and some discussion of the "abuses". Although, I think the only need for this would arise in fairly obvious situations? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:12, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Has this ever been an issue in the past - i.e. somebody needing to be desysoped because of abuse? If it's something that's never happened, or very rarely, do we need to decide on a rigid process just now? Better to cross that bridge when we come to it. I think a strict three-strikes approach could be a bit unforgiving. We already have a rarely used RationalWiki:Administrative Abuse page. That's where complaints should be raised (preferably only if they've already been raised with the sysop themself & the problem is still continuing). Then others can discuss & give their opinion on how bad the transgression is & whether any further action is needed, addressing each case on its own merits. Incidentally I see there is also a long-forgotten RationalWiki:Requests Not to be a Sysop page. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:01, 13 January 2009 (EST)
A "cross that bridge when we come to it" is all well and good but we may as well think about how to cross that bridge before it's looming and too late, right? Some stuff will probably have to go to "bureaucrat discretion" mobocracy or not, it's just practical for when things need to be decided to have as few people as needed making the actual decision. The system has a heirarchy for a reason and if people are abusing powers you don't want to need everyone to chime in and complain before taking action. Of course that wouldn't exclude sysops or non-sysop users from throwing in two cents on a discussion and certainly wouldn't give anyone with higher administrative powers the ability to be immune from criticism for their actions (i.e., the mob will bite you in the ass). ArmondikoVtheist 14:34, 13 January 2009 (EST)
The only one I can think of who had to be desysopped is HeartOfGold or HOG as he didn't like to be known. Redchuck.gif Генгисmarauding 19:16, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Looking at it again, I don't even think we should be mentioning "promotion" at all. If it's something that's only happened once or twice ever, it looks quite negative to be mentioning it in the standards as if it's a regular situation & giving it as much space as demotion. It also makes the whole demotion/promotion thing more confusing. Better to just explain about demotion (& that it really means promotion). ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:44, 16 January 2009 (EST)
What about Pink? We should have clear rules about bureaucrats promoting sysops, to prevent that sort of thing happening again. Phantom Hoover 04:09, 17 January 2009 (EST)
That's precisely why I put it in. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 04:11, 17 January 2009 (EST)
Yes, but could we add something about the same thing applying to bureaucrats, but a 2-strike rule, i.e. the first promotion of a sysop who isn't in violation of the rules is considered your only chance and the user is demoted again, and the next time you are decratted. The same would apply to promoting bureaucrats. Phantom Hoover 04:16, 17 January 2009 (EST)
I don't like a two-strike / three-strike approach to anything. It's not at all in the spirit of these being flexible guidelines & standards. If the situation arrises for anybody to be promoted, it should be the decision of multiple editors agreeing on it, based on how serious the transgressions are, not a matter of counting violations. If we must write something on the subject, it should just be that nobody should promote anybody without prior discussion &/or voting. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 10:35, 17 January 2009 (EST)

Deleting pages[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp

RationalWiki prefers that a page's history be preserved and publicly available. Therefore, if a user wants a page deleted, they must bring it up on the talk page first. If the page is a smaller, long-neglected one, this may mean waiting a while (remember that you can always drop a line on someone's talkpage pointing them to it, or use the intercom).

What can be deleted without discussion

  • Users may delete non-talk pages or any part thereof in their own userspace (because it is their personal area).
  • Obsolete categories. In these cases the talk page of the old category should be moved to where the replacement category is. If there is no replacement category, then it can be left alone.
  • Unnecessary redirects.
  • Articles and redirects made by vandals whose sole purpose is obscenity and/or personal attack.
  • Edits adding personal information about someone (e.g. phone number, address, place of work, real name(s), etc.) not volunteered by that person. In these cases the first sysop to come across the information should immediately "hide" the relevant edit; see the Sysop Guide.

What should never be deleted, ever

  • Talk pages should never be deleted. This includes talk pages in one's personal userspace. This preserves a publicly viewable record of the decision to delete the article.

Deleted discussion[edit]

I would like to bring up a rare, but not unheard-of, particular situation. At one point somebody posted extremely personal information about a prominent CPer, including phone number, address and names of children and, as I recall, where they went to school. In rare, extra-creepy stalker situations like that, I propose that the fist sysop on the scene should immediately delete the relevant edit and not wait for discussion/consensus. TheoryOfPractice 13:50, 9 January 2009 (EST)

Yes, I do think that would be a good policy. I want to go ahead and add it, but I should probably wait for a few other people to weigh in on it. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 14:36, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. First user on the scene actually.Bobbing up 14:48, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Agree. Things like that need to go immediately. Phantom Hoover 14:50, 9 January 2009 (EST)
While I generally agree, what if the information is readily available on the web, say? Shoot first, ask later seems a bit heavy-handed. ħumanUser talk:Human 15:28, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Human, LOTS of stuff is readily available on the internet that we wouldn't post here because of the consequences, from bootleg copies of Chinese Democracy to illegal pornography to bomb-making instructions. Just 'cause it's available online don't mean we need to host it. If people want to stalk someone or their children, they can do it on their own web page....TheoryOfPractice 15:35, 9 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. The fact that it's available doesn't mean that we should re-publish it. But we need to specify exactly what we mean by "personal information". There is also the issue - which may be what Human is alluding to - of people who may be well known on the net with identities, addresses and all. But in such a case, if they are so well known, it would serve no purpose for us to repeat the information. So I'd say no Real Names, no addresses, no places of work, no family members, no phone numbers. And anything which is not explicitly forbidden is allowed.Bobbing up 15:57, 9 January 2009 (EST)
There go our articles on the Schlaflies. We use real names, places of work, family members... ħumanUser talk:Human 16:00, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Doesn't list their addresses and numbers though. Andy is pretty open that his name is Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis is technically a sleb so is fair game. There's a difference between the names going out there (I have an extremely common name, there are 6 different people with it that have WP entries) and UNIQUE personal info such as addresses, personal emails (as opposed to business ones that are public domain). ArmondikoVtheist 16:36, 9 January 2009 (EST)
(edit conflict) Ah, but the Schaflies are part of our people-related articles, all of which give the subject's real name and often their "place of work". For example, PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins both use the person's real name and state their place of work. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:39, 9 January 2009 (EST)
So how do we tell the difference? If the info is on the web it's ok? If they put it there it's ok? I also am urged by my demons to mention "Ken DeMyer" and "Terry Kroeckitz (mispelled I think). Where did that info come from? ħumanUser talk:Human 22:17, 10 January 2009 (EST)

I think articles deleted without discussion should also include articles whose only function is obscenity &/or personal attack (e.g. "User:X is a whore", anything about Drew Pickles, etc.). We don't want to write ourself into a position where we have to sit down & discuss these & get three signatures before we burn them. Also, while we're mentioning proposed deletion policy, we should mention the {{delete}} template, or at least give a link to the relevant Help page that explains this process. We should probably also mention the {{mission}} template & process for non-mission articles. Presumably this would also be a rule-of-three situation before either deleting or moving to funspace. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 09:15, 10 January 2009 (EST)

That situation never occurred to me; I agree that we should mention that. I'll need a moment to think of how to word it... Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:34, 10 January 2009 (EST)
What about bullet pointing the criteria for immediate deletion rather than extended paragraphs. It's simpler and more concise than having to go through wordiness. "There are some things that should be deleted immediately by the first sysop to spot themm:" Then list with "*" or "#" markup. ArmondikoVtheist 11:21, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I agree, once it hits the second paragraph there's too many words. The whole thing about obsolete categories could be six words (after moving a category, delete the old version). The list could start "These are the exceptions to this rule:" Also, the "rule of three" is being invoked in para one, I'm not sure it's the best way to handle it? perhaps we should leave it more open-ended ("please start a discussion and let it run for several days before taking action"?) Should we also mention using the delete template and starting a tlak page section stating one's reasons? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:45, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I agree to placing emphasis on talking. Of course, that can often lead to a lot of waffle but it's hardly taking up a lot of server space (is it?!?) and doesn't actively harm anyone. If things just got shifted and deleted without any discussion or justification where would we be? (To which point I feel I should put on an Al Murray voice and shout "yeah, that's right Germany") ArmondikoVtheist 14:37, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I really think that that would have to depend on who it was. I mean, everyone knows who teh fly is, and if a CP user, say, posted that kind of information on their user page or made it easy to find, there shouldn't be a major problem. --"ConservapediaUndergroundTransistoris overworked and overbearing 19:11, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I changed it to a bullet format as you suggested, Armondikov. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 16:24, 15 January 2009 (EST)
To keep the standards page a more manageable size, maybe some or most of this should be moved to the sysop guidelines page instead. The stuff about deleting things without discussion only applies to people with sysop abilities, much like the show/hide revisions thing. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:55, 16 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. The "see also" section should link there. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:10, 16 January 2009 (EST)
I think it should be left in. A substantial part of our community is sysops, making it quite relevant. More importantly, by providing our deletion guidelines on the community standards page—a page intended for newcomers to read—we keep the deletion process as open and transparent as possible. Sticking it on the "sysop guide" page is a great way to make sure no one reads it—not that many sysops bother reading the sysop guide, much less the general public. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:06, 16 January 2009 (EST)

I don't like this "rule of three" idea; or at least I think there should be a time limit on it - otherwise it just encourages us to keep things tagged for deletion indefinitely because nobody notices them or cares enough to comment, which isn't very good housekeeping. I've been looking through the articles for deletion & non-mission categories in the last couple of days, & a lot of it is stuff that has been tagged for nearly a year. My own feeling is that if you nominate something for deletion & nobody has commented within a week or so, you should go ahead & delete it; or if you find something that's been nominated for deletion so long that everybody's forgotten about it, just make a decision & either delete it or take the template down. It's not like we can't undelete articles if people disagree with what's been done. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:45, 23 January 2009 (EST)

In principle, I agree with you - the "rule of three" is not a rule and won't be. However, as far as "housekeeping", is it really a big deal to have the delete template on 20 articles for a year? Especially when in some cases it is actually intended as a joke? There's a fine line here, and if everything the delete template was on had been vaped over the last few days, that would have been unwise. Say one comes across a "deletion" tagged article that is six months "ignored". Can one simply delete it even if there was never really any discussion? On a busy day, that could fly off RC in 10 minutes. Anyway, that response to that part of your comment whinged at, I don't think this "rule of three" thing holds water in any way at all. It ignores that more or less than three people might care about a given topic. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:14, 23 January 2009 (EST)
"...community standards page—a page intended for newcomers to read..." - RA, noobs rarely if ever read "guides". Most people never read the fucking manual, they throw it out before plugging in the gear. Let's keep this simple, and link to the more complex instructions and issues. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:57, 23 January 2009 (EST)
Because it hasn't gone over very well, and I myself am disliking its inclusion in the text more and more, I went ahead and removed. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:18, 24 January 2009 (EST)
Regarding the issue of what to do if no one cares/notices to respond to a proposed deletion on the talk page, I put in a reminder that users can always prod people on their talk page to go and discuss the deletion in question. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:18, 24 January 2009 (EST)
Should we mention that vandalism to talk pages can be removed?--Bobbing up 03:53, 1 February 2009 (EST)

Moving pages[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp

A page can be moved without discussion only if it is a simple title correction (such as correcting a misspelling, changing an improperly capitalized letter to lowercase, or moving it from the common name of the subject to the formal one). If a user is moving a page out of their userspace (such as an article they were working on that is now ready for the mainspace), they similarly do not need to discuss it first.

If a user wants a page moved to what they feel is a more appropriate namespace, then they should raise the issue on the talk page.

Discussing movies?[edit]

"As a courtesy, the one who proposed the move is generally the one who gets to move the page."

Seems a bit trivial. And what doe "gets to" mean, exactly? It implies that it is some sort of privilege? ħumanUser talk:Human 14:37, 9 January 2009 (EST)

Yes, doesn't seem really necessary. Bobbing up 14:47, 9 January 2009 (EST)
But everyone loves USING the power! ArmondikoVtheist 16:32, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Note: The line in question has been removed. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 20:28, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Can we change "can be moved without discussion only if" to "should only be moved"? More like a guideline in phrasing? And there's that "rule of three" again. We need to work on that. ħumanUser talk:Human 13:48, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I removed the "rule of three" part. It wasn't getting a very good reception, and I found myself increasingly disliking it myself. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:21, 24 January 2009 (EST)

Renaming users[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp

Users can be renamed only if they request to have their name changed or if they have a patently offensive name.

"Spoof" usernames (impersonating another user, usually) can be renamed unilaterally unless the spoofee expresses approval of the spoofer.

Discussion of renaming[edit]

Hate to bring up this rare grey area, but what about users with similar names. It's happened previously and can suceed in confusing people who read recent changes (albeit only for a short while). ArmondikoVtheist 11:23, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Good point. We have had a long habit of respecting the "territory" near any given user's name. And abusing it if they don't mind (namuh, the bohdans, etc.). How about "If an established editor requests, a similarly-named new editor may also be renamed to a more unique name of their choice"? Or some such? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:15, 13 January 2009 (EST)
It depends if it's obviously done deliberately to cause disruption (e.g. one of FD's sock accounts was a variant of my name) - this comes under vandalism &/or personal attack and so should be renamed a.s.a.p. to avoid further confusion. If it's a coincidence that somebody signs up unknowingly choosing a name that is extremely similar to an existing user, then there should be at least some discussion & attempt to reach an agreement, rather than the new user feeling like they're being forced to be change their user name. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)
That was the incident I was referring to so you clearly know what it's like. I wouldn't go straight for "that's MY name, BAGSY!" and force people to change if it's perfectly innocent (by all means, let people request it, it can be a perfectly reasonable request but it's certainly not "I'm the older user, therefore YOU change!") but if someone is making non-constructive edits and their name is similar enough, we assume it's deliberate and alter the name to something, although we should make it a point of being non-offensive. Then again, this seems to be a rare event so putting it down in the legislation may be extreme and unncessary, it's worth making a strong mention that this happens and that we should be allowed to deal with it. ArmondikoVtheist 14:42, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Replace "offensive" with "disruptive" - any user name that's held to be getting in the way of smooth running of the site should be changed - if it's not deliberately disruptive or urgent then yes, we should discuss it and give the user free choice of an alternative. If it's spoofing another name, we shouldn't require the spoofed user to object (they may be away); rather they should be able to OK the spoof if they're around at the time. Pseudomonas 06:27, 15 January 2009 (EST)
I added something about the spoofing, it seems to reflect what people have said and what we do. Ps, the trouble with "disruptive" is that often "disruptly" is how this site runs on purpose (Friday night mayhem, etc.). Maybe there's an even better word? ħumanUser talk:Human 17:12, 15 January 2009 (EST)
The way it reads now isn't very sensible. It says they can only be renamed if x and y. But then contradicts itself by giving another circumstance.--Bobbing up 13:19, 27 January 2009 (EST)

Protecting pages[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp

RationalWiki generally does not protect pages. The community feels that, given the ease with which vandalism can be reverted, protection is unnecessary. (An exception is that some sysops do protect their own userpage and signatures for piece of mind.)

On rare occasions, deleted pages that have been repeatedly recreated by vandals are protected using anti-page resurrection.

Discussion about condoms[edit]

I think that we should add that this is (a) an unusual situation which should only be carried out under exceptional circumstance and (b) such protection should not exceed (say) three days.--Bobbing up 02:09, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Where did you get those rules from, RationalWikiWiki? Oh, you did... - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 02:12, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Clarify that the level of protection to beused is the one where we block unregistered users and non-sysops from editing only. I don't agree with the expiry. In the case of Fred etc. they come along every three days or so, therefore protecting for three days is pointless. ArmondikoVtheist 11:26, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Should we apply the rule of three here as well, as with deleting and moving? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 11:33, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I think this should read "we don't protect public pages on this wiki. However, users are welcome to protect things like their signature subpage, for peace of mind. Some oft-recreated junk pagenames are prevented from recreation by using the cascading protection page." I also think we need a new section to discuss this "rule of three" thing. ħumanUser talk:Human 13:50, 13 January 2009 (EST)

We usually don't permanently protect anything. So putting some time limit would seem to be a good idea. If no discussion of the rule of three exists then it would be started.--Bobbing up 11:45, 14 January 2009 (EST)
There are a few things that have been protected near permanently if I remember correctly, however. They were marked "vandalism to these pages would be more hassel than it's worth so they're protected". I can't remember what they were specifically but surely some things could fall into this. I know they're exceptions that aren't relevant to the community as a whole, but it might be worth pointing them out. ArmondikoVtheist 11:51, 14 January 2009 (EST)
This should be in the sysop guide rather than community standards. We don't need everything covered on one page. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:06, 16 January 2009 (EST)
Again, I agree. See also section. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:12, 16 January 2009 (EST)
Yet, by including it on the community standards page, we ensure that the protection process is as widely understood as possible. The community standards explains to newcomers and reminds established members alike how we do things. Furthermore, it may be that sysops do the protecting, but it affects everyone. As such, it is our responsibility to explain here our process and reasoning for protecting pages. With regards to placing a see also link, I feel we would do people a disservice by simply pointing them to another page. I fear that if we use this approach, the community standards page transforms from "this is where you go to understand how we do things" to "Christ, I have to read seven effing articles of stuff? Who the heck has time for that?". Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:19, 16 January 2009 (EST)
I stand by my and the Weasel's comment. In the end... we don't protect pages. As far as the the "see also" thing, yes, there are things we cover elsewhere, because they aren't that important to cover here. Page protection? Not a big deal. We try not to do it at all (except people's sig files?) ħumanUser talk:Human 00:26, 17 January 2009 (EST)
And I stand by mine. Where does that leave us? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:32, 17 January 2009 (EST)
I changed the text in light of your and other's comments. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:40, 17 January 2009 (EST)

About SPOV[edit]

Old community standards


Proposed revamp

RationalWiki does not use Wikipedia's well-known "Neutral Point of View". We have our own version: SPOV. SPOV means two things:

  • Snarky point of view — This is the meaning most people refer to. It means that, to keep our articles from being dry and boring, we spice it up with snark and witty comments to keep things interesting.
  • Scientific point of view — Less talked about but more important, the scientific point of view means that our articles take the side of the scientific consensus on an issue. Unlike Wikipeda, which effectively treats all viewpoints and theories as legitimate, we will call bullshit on an unscientific or just plain stupid idea and treat it like the crap it is.

Discussion of POV[edit]

I strongly reject mentioning CP on our hallowed holy page of mandates, dreams, and goals. So I was bold... ħumanUser talk:Human 21:25, 12 January 2009 (EST)

"Scientific point of view" should come first. We should stress that "snarky" is secondary.--Bobbing up 02:11, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Is it? Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 02:13, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I had always felt that as well, Bob. It was listed second because it seemed that "scientific point of view" was more of a backronym added just recently, and it still wasn't mentioned anywhere official. But I do think it should take precedence over the original "snarky" meaning. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:52, 13 January 2009 (EST)
How about a compromise? We make a random choose tag, and present it in both orders randomly? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:16, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Put them in text boxes next to one another - or does that get too cluttered? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)
That would work, too. I do like the random idea, though. Perhaps make the left/right setup of the boxes random? ħumanUser talk:Human 14:47, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I can't find any back-up on this - but I thought that it originally stood for "sceptical point of view" anyway. I thought that "Snarky" came a lot later.--Bobbing up 11:50, 14 January 2009 (EST)
You could add "sceptical" too, I never thought of that one before. Although "scientific" should, in a way, be synonimous, it could be interesting to add it as a separate entry. What about "SPOV; this stands for Scientific, Skeptical and Snarky Point of View." (I figure S3POV is a bit much) Then go ahead and describe the three standards as above. I would extend it to 4, but three with the last one being a slight joke usually works well. ArmondikoVtheist 11:55, 14 January 2009 (EST)
I like the skeptical bit. It goes well with snark - the appropriate response to ill-justified claims. Pseudomonas 06:32, 15 January 2009 (EST)
If we add skeptical we're gonna need a "choose/option" tag to randomly spell it ;) Oh, and by the way, "snarky" came first, "scientific" made its first appearance in this discussion, as did "sceptical". ħumanUser talk:Human 13:54, 15 January 2009 (EST)
I find "skeptical" redundant with the "scientific" part. I see no reason to add it. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 20:47, 16 January 2009 (EST)

About the namespaces[edit]

Old community standards

This site uses several namespaces that are different from other wiki projects.

  • Main namespace - used for articles that are designed for collaboration. They can be about any topic which furthers our goals of: 1. Analyzing and refuting the anti-science movement, ideas and people. 2. Analyzing and refuting the full range of crank ideas. 3. Exploring authoritarianism and fundamentalism. These main space articles can be and will be edited by all other editors.
  • Essay namespace - used for original works by a particular editor. The article will be well marked as an original piece with the name of the submitting user and direct readers to the talk page for community reaction and discussion. The actual articles under Essay should only be edited by the original author.
  • Debate namespace - similar to a forum, where topic questions can be posted and editors can debate. There is also a discussion page attached to each debate which can address questions outside the immediate debate.
  • Conservapedia namespace-used for articles about Conservapedia, its users, and its management. The rules for editing these articles are the same as main space articles.
  • Recipe namespace - used for presenting your own concoctions, it is encouraged to have your recipes submitted to RWs self-appointed culinary expert for review.
  • Fun namespace - used for holding articles that are silly, pointless or just for fun. Random entries should be placed here and are likely to wind up moved here if not.
Proposed revamp

RationalWiki uses several namespaces, each for different kinds of content.

  • Main namespace — (no prefix before title) used for articles that pertain to our mission (see above). Articles in this namespace are intended to be collaborated on by any and all editors. For the purpose of promoting understanding of science, the mainspace also has articles on basic science and mathematics.
  • Essay namespace — for original works by a particular editor, which are usually marked as an original piece with a template giving the name of the author. The talk page is used to discuss the essay and remains public property open to any editor. Some essays are open for anyone to edit and serve more as "share your opinion" spaces than as essays. These essays are clearly marked as such.
  • Debate namespace — issues are posted and users debate. The talk page is used to discuss the debate itself on a meta level.
  • Conservapedia namespace— articles about Conservapedia, its management, and its participants.
  • Recipe namespace — recipes submitted by users.
  • Fun namespace — articles that are off-mission or just for fun. Entries that do not fit RationalWiki's mission are often moved here, if they are deemed worthy of saving at all.
  • RationalWiki namespace - Contains articles relating to the wiki itself, such as help files, policy, and "meta-discussion".

Discussion in space[edit]

Should specifically mention that articles which don't fit mainspace are likely to be moved to fun.--Bobbing up 02:13, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I thought it already said something like that, but I guess it didn't. I went ahead and changed it per your suggestion, Bob. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:48, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I think the thing about moving to fun should only be under the fun space description. Right now it's in there twice. ħumanUser talk:Human 13:58, 13 January 2009 (EST)
  • RationalWiki namespace - used for articles about the wiki itself, and various meta-discussion. Or something like that. ħumanUser talk:Human 13:59, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I went ahead and added that at the bottom (I like the "meta-discussion"). Good work for spotting that it was missing. ArmondikoVtheist 14:52, 13 January 2009 (EST)
This is going to be affected by the science namespace debate. Either we add another namespace to the list, or acknowledge that not everything in mainspace in necessarily mission-related. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:05, 13 January 2009 (EST)

I went ahead and expanded the part describing the mainspace to include general science articles. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 20:45, 16 January 2009 (EST)

And I reduced the number of words used to say that. Also, hyphens don't separate headers and sentences, they break sentences, so I did some decapping. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:01, 18 January 2009 (EST)

Advice when writing articles[edit]

Old community standards
  1. Please do your best to watch for spelling and grammar mistakes. If you see some mispeelings, fix them!
  2. When referencing material on another wiki (or any website) please try to use permanent links or diffs. Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.
Proposed revamp
  • Please do your best to watch for and correct spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Please list categories at the very bottom of the article, not spread among various paragraphs and sections.
  • Articles should be put in the most specific categories possible; avoid placing an article in numerous broad categories. For example, Richard Dawkins should be in category:atheists and category:biologists, not in category:people, category:atheism, category:biology, and category:scientists. Doing so aids the use of categories as a navigating tool and prevents the broader "parent" categories from becoming too inclusive and unwieldy to be useful.
  • Internal links should lead directly to the article, not a redirect.
  • Redirects are used to direct someone using the search function to the proper article. For example, someone searching for "Scientology" should be immediately redirected to the properly-named article, Church of Scientology.
  • When referencing another wiki (or any other website), please use static or diff links. Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.

Stylish discussion[edit]

Also, regarding the "manual of style" thing, I think that (along with a few other things?) ought to be its own article, with just a link from the guidelines. Also, we only have the de facto MoS of how the more prolific editors make things look (and what our help files suggest), after working this thing out, will we want to actually create a semi-formal MoS? I sandboxed one once for fun, it's a combination of "how we already do things" and what are probably just some personal preferences, if anyone is curious. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:38, 11 January 2009 (EST)

I also think this should be a separate article. Although it is a "standard" in a sense, it's not exactly a community conduct thing. Also, lower priority (IMO). We should try to finish the standards page, then create a separate manual of style, maybe using Human's draft as a starting point. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:18, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Help? Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 14:02, 15 January 2009 (EST)
Yes, if we agree on a MoS it would end up there. And of course there are many help articles that address style. I think they should all just be in the "see also" section. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:31, 15 January 2009 (EST)

Links to pertinent articles[edit]

Old community standards

For more expansive coverage of the topics described here please see the following pages:

Proposed revamp

[None so far]

Impertinent discussion[edit]

I think this stuff is pretty good in general; we should also list to the main help page list, the noob guide, and new sysop guide I think. This is basically a "see also" section. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:28, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Why don't the boxes in this section fill the width of the screen? Is it just because there isn't enough "text width" to force it? ħumanUser talk:Human 14:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Why isn't any of this being kept? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 07:43, 27 January 2009 (EST)
I think it will be, but see my suggestion - that it essentially become a "see also" section with lots of helpful links. ħumanUser talk:Human 16:58, 27 January 2009 (EST)


Old community standards


Proposed revamp

Voting is one of the methods used on RationalWiki to determine the will of the mob. It is best used to decide on issues that would significantly change the way the Wiki operates, relate to the fundamental principles of the Wiki, or otherwise impact on the experience of the users.

A vote should only be called after a thorough discussion of the question. All new votes and all votes about to close should be announced on the General Site News Intercom and the Community Chalkboard. Voting is only open for registered users.

A vote shall close when either of these criteria is met:

  • A number of users equal to a majority of the currently active user base (i.e. the total number of user that are semi-active or above) have voted for or against a proposal.
  • 72 hours have passed with no new votes being cast.

Discussion about voting[edit]

I don't get the "OR" - shouldn't things like that say "the latest of these three:" or something? It's also shouting :(. Also, the active user list is often a bit out-of-date, isn't it? Or has it been fully automated now? ħumanUser talk:Human 13:18, 13 January 2009 (EST)

It's not clear what things this voting process is to be used for, unless that's explained somewhere else on this page where I haven't noticed it yet. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:20, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Human: The idea is that any one of those three things is sufficient to close the vote. An absolute majority of the user base (31 at present) would show such an overwhelming acceptance or rejection of an idea (by comparison, the present vote on a Science namespace has 11 votes against) that there'd be no point in continuing the vote. On the other hand, if there have no new votes coming in for 72 hours, it's a fair assumption that everyone who wanted to have voted, and you can also close it. If neither of those two things happen, the vote closes after a week. It's a compromise between making sure that as many users as possible have the opportunity to vote, while at the same time not letting the whole thing drag on when its not necessary. Of course, it also makes the assumption that the active users visit at least once every three days. I don't know if the numbers need to be adjusted. As for the user list, I think LArron is updating it once a month right now, but we might want to check if he intends to keep doing that, or if someone else can take over the job if necessary.
Weaseloid: I don't think it's possible to say anything specific about that, but I guess it'd be on "matters of substance" that are more important than simple things like page moves and such, but not so important as to go through a full consensus-building process like we're doing here. It's mostly intended as a useful tool to determine what the mob actually wants when necessary. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:36, 13 January 2009 (EST)
OK, it should still probably have some brief wording to express that, even if it's not very specific. Otherwise this section will be a bit confusing. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I tried to put something general up. Feel free to reword. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 15:31, 13 January 2009 (EST)
OK, I'll reword the ending criteria so they reflect what you meant better? ħumanUser talk:Human 14:51, 13 January 2009 (EST)
That's fine. On another thing, I used the phrase "number of users equal to a majority of the currently active user base" rather than simply "a majority of the currently active user base", because the latter implies that it would have to be a majority of the actual users on that list. Firstly, that'd be a pain to check, and secondly, those won't always be the ones who're actually voting - so I think it's better to use numbers instead, and then just go with the slight legal fiction that they're the same people. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 15:22, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Yeah, I know, and we might need to discuss it, but you tried, at least. Somehow the "electorate" or at least a quorum has to be defined if we to ever use voting, and activity (recent?) is about the only way to separate the "real" members from the fly-bys and our socks. I think as a footnote, any newish but active user ought to be allowed to petition for the franchise if they aren't on the "active users" list yet? ħumanUser talk:Human 15:41, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Actually, that sort of specific franchise is what I hope to avoid, because it would make counting the votes very cumbersome. It'll make things much easier if we just assume that "the userbase is about this large, so this many people make up a majority", without going into too much detail about who actually voted. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 17:55, 13 January 2009 (EST)
It would be nice to have some controls though. In a hypothetical case one could create five socks one day and have them vote your way the next.--Bobbing up 11:56, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Yes, that could be a problem, although I'm not convinced it'd be a big one in practice. But if necessary, the simplest solution would be to say that only users actually listed as "semi-active" or above are eligible to vote. This raises the entry barrier considerably, which of course means that the votes would have that much more legitimacy. However, it also means that someone will have to sit down and check the votes against the list when there's a vote. Maybe we should appoint an "Chairmobster" or "Speaker of the Mobile House" or something to make sure it gets done. ;-) --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:17, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Re socks voting: that hypothetical situation could also apply to any number of other things (discussions about deletion, content disputes, etc.) as well as voting. If we mention it all, maybe it should be as a separate section about what kinds of sockpuppetry we do & don't tolerate. On the other hand, the point of these community standrds is to set down some guidelines based on what we already do in practice. Do we really need to write guidelines committing ourselves to what we would do in a hypothetical situation which we've never dealt with in practice? ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:33, 18 January 2009 (EST)
I don't think this section is going anywhere, since it basically devolves to AK's good faith that RA someone won't flood a vote with relatively active socks. And we don't have checkuser to counteract that (thank goat)! ħumanUser talk:Human 00:54, 18 January 2009 (EST)

I'm re-reading the "end vote" criteria and I think the third one is unnecessary - and also, it would automatically terminate any vote at one week, no matter how active or unfinished it was, the way it is worded now. I think a majority or 72 hours of no new votes are enough to call a close to the polls. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:45, 14 January 2009 (EST)

No comments? I'll clean it up. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:54, 18 January 2009 (EST)
Human, far from being "silly", there is a point to having a fixed cloture rule for the vote. As the rules are presently, a vote could hypothetically drag on for weeks if a new vote trickles in every three days or so, pushing it another 72 hours before it can be closed. That's not very practical, and it reduces the overall usefulness of a vote as a decision-making instrument. Fixed cloture prevents this problem and establishes a framework for the process that's transparent to everyone. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 10:08, 25 January 2009 (EST)
Yes, AK, but if that's happening, it means people still care, and should be allowed to vote. And at some point, the other cloture trigger will be reached anyway, so it can't drag on forever. Perhaps we could shorten the "no new votes" period? Although that could easily leave out major contributors if just happen to be AFK for a day or two. Also, if we are voting on something, the more important it is, the less of a rush we should be in (IMHO). ħumanUser talk:Human 16:39, 27 January 2009 (EST)

OMFG is this dead horse STILL being beaten? Amazing. DogP 11:23, 27 January 2009 (EST)

I don't think it's going to get any better than the way it's written right now.--Bobbing up 13:29, 27 January 2009 (EST)
The thing is, there'll always be new people signing up or people who drop by only occaisionally. While it's all well and good saying that we should keep voting open as long as people are (or at least one person is) interested for the sake of openness and being inclusive, you have to think practically. If voting is required, a static time limit from the start of the vote to the end is the only practical solution. If people miss the vote then that's their problem I'm afraid. ArmondikoVtheist 16:47, 27 January 2009 (EST)
I'm confused. Would I be able to vote or not? Do I need to register?--Hillary Rodham Clinton 14:46, 28 January 2009 (EST)
Armand, I guess I see your point to an extent. However, since the franchise is technically limited to relatively active users, there is a limit on how many people can actually vote. Also, I think perhaps voting should be limited to editors who were here when the vote started - not that boobs can't chime in, but their vote won't "count", and they won't count as part of the quorum. Yes, occasionally a vote might get extended because a few stragglers drop by, but the "semi-active" editor requirement effectively caps how long things can drag on. I'm still pondering this, though, and I'm certainly open to having my opinion changed. ħumanUser talk:Human 15:37, 28 January 2009 (EST)
Why would we need a quorum? That seems like an unnecessary complication. And if we do, how big should it be, and should it be on all issues or only certain ones? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:04, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I didn't say we need a quorum. The "new guideline" in the box above, however, establishes something like a quorum as one way to reach cloture (majority of a defined group voting one way). ħumanUser talk:Human 20:04, 30 January 2009 (EST)
That's not exactly what I understand by a quorum. But the reason for that rule is that if a majority of the people who can vote support a certain outcome, there's no point in continuing the vote, because any further votes won't matter. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:07, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I know, I was using the word "quorum" loosely. Sorry if that threw you off, but I hope you understood what I meant with the rest of what I wrote? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:31, 31 January 2009 (EST)
I don't much like this idea of limiting who can vote to "established users". It doesn't seem to be in the spirit of mobocracy, & is only being suggested because of a hypothetical situation (i.e. socks being created just to swing a vote) which might not come up very often, if at all. In my opinion, if that situatin ever does come up, it will be fairly obvious, & we deal with it on a common sense basis (& therefore don't need to write a "policy" on it). ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:21, 30 January 2009 (EST)
It's not just the problem of socks, but also of how much value we ascribe to the vote. Basically, the higher the entry barrier to voting is, the more valuable is the vote. To put it bluntly, if basically any yahoo can come straight in from the Internet, register an account, cast a vote, and then disappear again, how many people will actually take this seriously? On the other hand, by sticking around for a while and doing some edits, at least they show a minimal amount of interest in the site, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that before we allow people to influence the site on a significant level. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:32, 30 January 2009 (EST)

What'll happen is:

  • there will be a vote,
  • half a dozen people or so will vote,
  • the decision will be reached.
  • Then, when the result is promulgated, a number of people who hadn't voted, will rise up in opposition and demanding a revote.
  • This will repeat ad nauseam.
Toast s.png (Toast) and marmalade 19:15, 30 January 2009 (EST)
That will happen with any method we pick, or is that you point? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:19, 30 January 2009 (EST)
eggsackly.Toast s.png (Toast) and marmalade 19:26, 30 January 2009 (EST)
As a matter of fact, the last vote we had gathered a very respectable 19 votes + 3 abstentions in less than four days, and that wasn't exactly on a high profile question, so I'm permitting myself to be cautiously optimistic about the usefulness of this. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:24, 30 January 2009 (EST)
True. Toast s.png (Toast) and marmalade 19:26, 30 January 2009 (EST)
The vote was two to one which helped make it clear quickly. I think ratios are more important than vote numbers. If after 3 or 4 days the proposal to change is doing better than 60% of the vote or so I think it is clear that is a yes, otherwise we take it as a no or vis versa. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:30, 30 January 2009 (EST)
Say: a two:one majority rather than a simple majority required to change from status quo or to affect any user's rights (thinking of de-sysoping etc)? Toast s.png (Toast) and marmalade 19:36, 30 January 2009 (EST)
That wouldn't work. Then we'd need to either establish a quorum, because otherwise the vote would be finished after three votes, or we'd need to rely on someone's judgement on when to close the vote and that all gets horribly vague. It's that sort of vagueness that I hope to avoid with the rules here. In the past, there's always been confusion about how to actually run a vote in practical terms. ("Okay, we're voting. We've been voting for a while now. Should we close the vote now? How about now?") If we have some clear and transparent rules that don't rely on anyone's judgement, it would make voting both muchy easier and much more useful. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:39, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I did say give it 3 or 4 days, that is what happened with the science namespace worked a treat. On WP they just use when a consensus has formed. When people start showing up and saying "I agree with the majority here" it is fairly clear which way it is going, they closed Ed's RFA after 1 day because the result was inevitable. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:44, 30 January 2009 (EST)
Sounds good. I would much much rather run these votes according to common sense than a rulebook. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:47, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I think we maybe putting the cart before the horse, the guidelines describe how we do thing, we don't do thing by the guidelines. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:52, 30 January 2009 (EST)
Yes. I just made exactly the same point on the talk page. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:57, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I would submit that this section is different than the others. You can have as much vagueness and common sense and laissez faire and whatnot as you wish in the other sections about behaviour and all that, but this is different - this is about a decision-making process, and it is absolutely critical that there is no ambiguity or vagueness in those. People need to know precisely what to expect. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:59, 30 January 2009 (EST)
"People need to know precisely what to expect." - No, they don't. This site is very casual in many ways. I would point you, however, to the kangaroo court we threw for CUR, which worked so much better than expected. The strongest accusers (including me) backed down, and CUR pretty much reformed overnight. "Precision" in management is not what we do here. What we do is bugger our way through problems using our brains and our edit buttons. And it's worked pretty damn well for over a year and a half. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:40, 31 January 2009 (EST)
We do run the risk of getting bogged down in wiki lawyering. If it become clear which way it going then we can call it otherwise if we are some approximation of a tie then stick with the status quo. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 20:08, 30 January 2009 (EST)
How can there be "wikilawyering" when the rules are as clear as the ones proposed here? There's nothing to lawyer about. Rather, Wikilayering appear precisely under such conditions that are found at Wikipedia when the rules are vague enough to allow it. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:13, 30 January 2009 (EST)
You want us to have more detailed rules than Wikipedia?? We're supposed to be a mobocracy, & should have less rules than WP by quite a long way. These are supposed to be guidelines only, not rigid & detailed processes. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:24, 30 January 2009 (EST)
I want us to have clear and understandable rules on this particular issues, yes. And compared with Wikipedia, I want us to have better and more transparent rules, because WP's rules are crud when it comes to these things, and that's one of the most important contributing factors for a lot of their problems, including "wikilawyering". --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:39, 30 January 2009 (EST)
Why? (To your first sentence) ħumanUser talk:Human 00:40, 31 January 2009 (EST)
Are they that clear we could have an argument for hours about "current active user database"? I could go though that list one by one and argue for and against the inclusion of each person in that and also argue about people not listed. Where is CUR on that list? How about Susan she is still listed as very active when did she last edit? - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 20:16, 30 January 2009 (EST)
That list only gets updated as often as LArron does his stats thing on it, & only reflects long term trends. It definitely shouldn't be the basis of rating users' level of involvement or rights to express their opinions. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:28, 30 January 2009 (EST)
As I understand it, the list is based on edits over the last three months and gets updated once a month. Susan was last quite active in October, so she's still on the list. CUR is probably not because he hadn't been a member for a full month yet. I don't know, but I'm sure we can get LArron to make us a more precise list if we ask nicely and offer cookies. That's more a question of logistics. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:30, 30 January 2009 (EST)
It does not get updated regularly, it depends on one user doing the work. That's not just logistics. How about if you take over updating it? I'm sure LArron would explain to you how to mine the database and do it. But what if you are away for a bit, having "a life"? Then who does it? ħumanUser talk:Human 00:40, 31 January 2009 (EST)
What about people like Trent, Ames and PalMD? They hardly ever edit but their opinion of procedures would carry a lot of weight. I don't think a vote based on the number of editor making a certain number of edits actually reflects the will of the mob. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 22:35, 30 January 2009 (EST)
And there's that. Trent's new habit of editing from whatever IP he's on to tweak TK kills his "edit count", Ames was renamed and then retired, and Doc is busy with his blog. Obviously, Trent is an important user (hi Trent, please kick server now), but how do we relate this to previous users who are no longer as active, but still keep a little RW close to their heart? I think this discussion needs to continue after we incorporate some of the other well-thought out changes to the guidelines. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:40, 31 January 2009 (EST)


I haven't even read half of what's above yet, but "the rules are as clear..." does not describe this site. We do not have rules and it works very well that way. We have "guidelines". The quote "the rules are as clear..." shows a fundamental desire to shift from mobocracy (or whatever we want to call it) to a stricter regimen. Remember, the last person to argue for "rules" here was TK - so he could abuse them. I do not mean to offend AK with the TK reference, by the way. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:29, 31 January 2009 (EST)

I think we should have some guidelines, eg change occur after an extensive debate, with a roughly 2:1 ratio of a significant number of contributors over a sufficient time period. It is open to interpretation, yes, but it describes what happens. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 00:41, 31 January 2009 (EST)
I finished reading and commenting. I agree that "usually" a 2:1 ratio looks like "consensus", but really, consensus comes when the minority start saying "yeah, you guys are right". CF, CUR's trial. It ended after not just consensus, but the plaintiffs acknowledging said consensus. Here's my issue: If we have "strict" and "clear" voting rules, anyone could use them to totally frack this place up. If they are vague and require "consensus" of the mob, we can't be "overthrown" - remember the idea of 100 YECs joining (that's not that many people) if you need perspective on this. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:45, 31 January 2009 (EST)
Look. First of all, a consensus has nothing to do with majorities and minorities. A consensus is a decision to which there is no significant opposition, and which has been reached by obtaining the opinions of all involved parties and negotiating a solution that everyone can agree on. It is exactly what we're doing here, as a matter of fact. On the other hand, if you're voting on something, then by definition, there is no consensus, because there are presumably people who disagree. That's a very important distinction, and I'm more than a little concerned at how the usage at Wikipedia is apparently beginning to break it down.
With that out of the way, secondly, I think you people are definitely putting ideology far ahead of utility here. Yes, we're a mobocracy, and yes, I understand that people don't want too many rules, but surely, in a mobocracy, it's also somewhat relevant to find out what the mob actually wants? One might even say that we have a certain responsibility to be fair and precise in finding out what it wants?
It is and remains a fact that the best way of finding out what a large number of people wants is to do a vote, and it is at least my experience that no matter how loose your rules are in general, when it comes to the procedure of voting, it's important to avoid any kind of vagueness that can muddle things up. Trust me - I've done this thing several times before, with both small and large groups, and it is usually when the procedure is not clear and unequivocal that you get into trouble with confusion about how to vote, or the losing side contesting the result or whatever - the real-life equivalent of "wikilawyering", as it were. On the other hand, there are usually no problems as long as there is a clear, fair and established way of going about things, which everyone understands and agrees with.
So all this "just using common sense" and such is all well and good in theory, and I'm sure it's very mobocracy-esque and all, but it's too open to interpretation, it's not transparent and it depends on someone making a subjective judgement at some point. That can be a problem, and it'll usually turn out to be much more complicated and messy that if you just had a fair and established procedure to begin with. I strongly urge you not to make this mistake just for the sake of blind ideology.
Thirdly, if you don't like using LArron's statistics as a basis for franchise, then how about allowing sysops to vote? We generally give sysop status to people who register and who show at least a minimum of interest in the site, so the result is more or less the same.
Fourthly, there are a couple of arguments that I simply don't buy here. One of them is the "100 YECs coming in and messing things up" mentioned above. Doesn't work that way, and you know it. Trent will always have de facto final veto over everything we do, so that's simply not a risk. And if we did have an influx of 100 YECs, we'd probably have greater problems than just how they'd vote, anyway. As for Human's argumentum ad TK above - for one thing, I don't think that "look at what TK wants and just do the opposite" is exactly the best way of going about this. And for another, I think it's closer to the truth to say that people like TK thrive where there is uncertainty and ambiguity in the rules. Look at what's happening at CP - it's not their rules themselves that enable him and the other sysops to carry on as they do; the rules are actually pretty good for the most part. The problem is that the rules are being completely ignored, and that Andy is basically an absentee landlord who doesn't give a crap about what his sysops are doing. If there was transparency in their managment and if the rules were being followed, they couldn't do that.
As a matter of fact, now that we're speaking of TK anyway, as some of you will recall, we did have a vote on what to do with him (or in fact several, I think). You'll probably also recall that it was a pathetic mess because there was no established procedure for it and no one knew what the hell they were supposed to do or who were in charge of it. In the end, it wasn't even the vote itself that decided the outcome, it was someone (forget who, doesn't matter) who was fed up with the whole thing and decided just to set a fait accompli and ban him. Is it that kind of "common sense" process that you want to use as a model? Please. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 08:47, 31 January 2009 (EST)
As a matter of fact, you may want to review this to see where "common sense" and "vague procedures" have gotten us in the past. Pretty it isn't. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 09:00, 31 January 2009 (EST)
As far as I'm concerned voting is the worst & least satisfactory way to make a group decision, & should only be used as a last resort when consensus building fails or discussions reach a deadlock. In those situations, the "rules" for that vote should then be briefly agreed before proceeding. Because every situation will be different. Some votes might be on big site decisions where we confine voting to only sysops or even just bureaucrats. Others on less pressing issues should be open for everyone & last as long as they take. Tying us down to a fixed procedure for decision-making won't be a good way to go. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 09:05, 31 January 2009 (EST)
But then you have to go through that discussion every single time you want to do a vote. I completely fail to see why that's better than simply making a clear and useful procedure that you know you can use every time. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 09:14, 31 January 2009 (EST)
Firstly, we don't know we can use it every time. If we write up a procedure we haven't tested yet & make it policy, we won't know what potential weaknesses & loopholes it may have, as these things tend to become apparent in the execution. Secondly, every situation will be different. Discussions & debates don't all follow the same format or the same level of seriousness or involve the same groups of editors or the same timeframe, so why should votes? ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 09:20, 31 January 2009 (EST)
Because that's how votes work. Whether you go to Parliament, or a local council, or your sports association, or whatever, you'll also see them using the same procedure every time. That ensures that everyone understands and agrees with what is going on, and that you get a clear result that reflects what the majority of the group actually wants. Redefining the procedure anew every time you want to use it is both completely unnecessary and it serves to make the process less transparent and to open up for precisely the kind of wikilawyering that we want to avoid. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 09:29, 31 January 2009 (EST)

(unindent)At the risk of displaying my geekdom, I think the simplest way to prevent these "rules" from getting out of hand is to institute a D&D style "rule 0", which premepts all rules, saying if you are having a problem with a particular rule, change it. Make a rule that these rules are not set in stone; then, if something (like voting) is causing a problem, we simply change the way it is done to fix said problem. A good compromise? Z3rotalk 09:38, 31 January 2009 (EST)

I'd pretty much take that as given. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 10:32, 31 January 2009 (EST)
Then where comes the problem? If something doesn't work, change it (where a wiki, not an international government). Z3rotalk 10:38, 31 January 2009 (EST)

Please continue the discussion at RationalWiki:Voting_Procedure. Cheers. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 08:52, 1 February 2009 (EST)

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:
- Analysis of the relative income streams of the National Football League and international rugby union -- Barroom brawls -- Cat fight -- Chicken coop -- Chicken coop/Archive37 -- Community Standards/Revamp draft -- Community Standards/TK -- Community Standards/disruption -- Constitutional Convention, April 2008 -- Drama dump -- Epic debate -- HeartOfGold Sysop vote -- Inactivity -- Is RationalWiki under the control of Feminist activists? -- Make TK a sysop? -- Nuclear Option -- Privacy clusterfuck -- Property rights in WIGOs -- Requests for comment/HeartOfGold -- Serious Business -- Site politics -- Statement candidacy for the RationalWiki Foundation Board of Trustees -- The Rationalwiki Reform Society -- The case of MarcusCicero -- The mobocracy -- User:Copyvio's campaign to stop copyvio -- User rights and moderation revisited -- Voting Procedure -- Voting standards -