RationalWiki talk:Community Standards/Archive16

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Tech powers[edit]

After this weekend's shitstorm, I think we need a discussion about what enumerated powers a tech should have. Expansive or limited, they should at least be defined. Obviously, a tech should have the authority to deal with maintenance of the site. Where do those "Maintenance" powers end? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 13:54, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

What if you're both a moderator and a tech? Blue (pester) 17:06, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps there should be a rule against that. I'm sure the site can find more than 7 people willing to shoulder some responsibility. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 17:10, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Finding seven people willing, sure. Finding seven responsible people, not so simple. --Abd (talk) 18:38, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
I think that in Tyrannis' case, restoring everyone's mod rights was certainly maintaining the site, just as he is expected to modify the edit filter to prevent vandalism. However, removing Ace's mod rights and placing him in sysoprevoke enters trickier territory. I think he was right to do so and within his (implied) mandate, on the grounds that he was merely ensuring that Ace McWicked would not once more remove everyone's rights, or continue vandalizing and desysopping/blocking. That said, making the role of the tech clearer can't be a bad thing, though this is a small enough site that "use your best judgement" is an acceptable part of a tech's scope.--"Shut up, Brx." 17:16, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
I think we're growing quickly enough we need more structure. If not now, then we will need more structure soon. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 17:36, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
First read that on RW about 3 years ago! Out of it came the Loya Jirga, worked well, didn't it? Scream!! (talk) 20:41, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
So we don't repeat that mistake. Maybe we'll make new ones, or -if we're crazy enough- we might even make a better site. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 21:32, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Ty acted in an ignore all rules scenario. I'm not trying to shoot this proposal down, just keep that in mind. -- Nx / talk 18:04, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not concerned about Tyrannis -the community has spoken and said he did nothing wrong. If this is precedent, then I'll abide by it -I just don't want to see this happen again. I admit, I'm a n00b, is this most weekends, and I just didn't get the memo? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 18:23, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
This weekend's shitstorm was not caused by the lack of clearly defined limits on tech powers. -- Nx / talk 18:35, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
What he said. To answer TLG's question, this was not a typical weekend. --Abd (talk) 18:39, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, it's in the best interest of all the Techs to not be put on trial the next time someone decides the project exists exclusively for their own amusement. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 18:48, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
They'll be put on trial regardless of what formal rules you make. Fortunately, as can be seen from the vote on Ty's actions, the majority has common sense. -- Nx / talk 18:54, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The vote was not on whether Tyrant did the right thing, it was on whether or not he should have his rights removed. Those are two different things. rpeh •TCE 21:24, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict with above). What Nx said. I don't see any upset techs here. Anyone exercising Ignore All Rules should be prepared to defend it, but Ty didn't even have to do that. The community did. Ty's behavior was flawless, in my opinion. Brxbrx has missed something. It was necessary to remove Ace's mod rights, and quickly (Ace was acting quickly.) While it's possible that a more optimal response could be invented, Ty had no time for subtleties (look at the timing), Ace might easily have proceeded to remove all tech rights. Not the end of the world, but addressing this would then have taken drastic and highly disruptive action. Ty's action was simple and ultimately harmless, what it did was to allow some time for Ace to come to his senses, the community to respond, and the mods to work out a solution. It's worth noting that Ace voted not to sanction Ty.
Limiting the role of a tech can be a Bad Thing, if it's not done with a full knowledge of the contingencies, but no matter what the Rulez are, in Ty's position, I'd probably have done what he did. Ignore All Rules is actually common law, it applies to real police officers, for example, properly understood. Don't trust them to exercise reasonable discretion, don't hand them a gun. --Abd (talk) 19:06, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
If I hadn't have been so cut and acted impulsively I would have removed the tech rights first. Ahh well. Acei9 20:30, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
And everyone laughs. Isn't he cute? That plan would not have worked. No, here is what you would have done, Ace: and I was about to tell Ace how he could have completed the task without detection until it was too late. And then I considered whether or not it was a great idea to disclose it. Not, I concluded. --Abd (talk) 04:58, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
No one's laughing and I know what I could have done but my interest was never 'staging a coup' or 'getting away with it'. So, you know, fuck off now. It' over. Acei9 05:16, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Aw, silly! How do you know that nobody is laughing? In any case, I believe you that your interest was not one of those two things. What was your interest? "No interest" would be inaccurate. Your "interest" might be, for example, acting out your sovereign freedom to avoid domination. It doesn't have to be complicated.
Wait! It's over when you stop responding and explaining yourself, not when you tell others to fuck off, because "fucking off" would mean poking you. So you don't have to answer that question, but you already knew that. --Abd (talk) 19:20, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
I am going to assume you have a brain injury. Acei9 19:46, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, a developmental disorder, part of which created an IQ measured at 156 when I was in high school. That's over fifty years ago, and I haven't stopped learning. Yet. I still have the disorder, though. And you? What's the source of your behavior? I'd prefer not to guess, though I'm certainly capable of it. --Abd (talk) 22:31, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
I might be misremembering, but I think I recall a conversation when mods and techs were being introduced in which the question was addressed as to what would happen if a mod or tech went rogue and decided to remove everyone's right but their own. I think the answer was twofold: first of all we'd only be electing trustworthy members of the community, so it is absurdly unlikely to happen (yeah, so much for that), and secondly, those with server access can fix anything (which is a bit more reassuring). So who has server access these days? Just Trent? Other folks? It'd be good to know who we can ultimately fall back on when the shit hits the fan.
Now, as for the roles and positions of techs. I don't mind if they're given a broad mandate to use their powers to fix things as they see fit, more or less, provided it has to do with technical issues, not policy ones. My bigger concern is in deciding who gets to be a tech. Right now techs and mods have the ability to make any user a tech, I believe, but their authority to do so is less clear. Absent any guidelines, it seems they can do so of their own volition, which is an invitation for trouble. Techs have powers too great even to give mods, it's been said, and yet the process for creating mods is quite rigorous, and the techs is nonexistent. This should be settled before it becomes a huge headache for everyone. Some suggestion have been put forward in the past, but nothing has ever come of them. I'm not holding my breath for a different result this time, but I'll give it a shot. DickTurpis (talk) 20:46, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Server access: Trent and David Gerard. Also handy list of who gets what. Evil fascistoh noez 20:54, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
rst of all we'd only be electing trustworthy members of the community, so it is absurdly unlikely to happen (yeah, so much for that) Pretty naive, it's not like I was the first to do this and my doing such a thing had no agenda. When the May 2011 drama happened it was by trusted users with an agenda. Acei9 20:57, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The first thought that crossed my mind would be distributing the powers across more offices that cannot be held simultaneously. Holding more elections is no one's idea of a good time, of course, but it would keep people from being able to make sweeping changes unilaterally. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 22:08, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
That sounds too complicated. Give lots of people tech powers so that there's lots of oversight if someone goes rogue and everything will be fine. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 22:11, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The problem with that is there was a huge stink recently about one of the tech powers being very powerful, able to do all sorts of nasty things without a paper trail. I forget what it's called, but I'm sure many know what I'm talking about (Blue was in hot water over this not too long ago). It was thought to be too powerful to give to mods, so I'd think giving it out to "lots of people" would be a very bad idea. Since Gatsby's right in that no one thinks voting is a good time, and we've yet to have one devoid of controversy, that's not the way to go. Techs also shouldn't be made based on personal popularity (i.e. an election process) as they require specific skills, not membership in the old boys network or anything. I'd say if someone wants to be a Tech, they write a brief proposal about why they think they should be one, and what qualifications they have. If 4 mods agree, they get the powers. It expands the remit of mods a bit, but if it saves us from more unnecessary voting I think it's a small price to pay. DickTurpis (talk) 22:18, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
So maybe the first step in the conversation is to define our terms. What exactly is a "tech," then? Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 22:27, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
And if some duties are to be removed, who takes over those duties? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 22:33, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
"Tech" is defined by the handy list of who gets what Ty pointed out above. Sure, that's not set in stone, as far as I know, but I don't think we need to bite off more than we can chew here by altering what a tech is as well as establishing the process of their remit and how their appointed. And I think abuse filter is the mighty power that is too great for mortals to handle which I referred to. DickTurpis (talk) 22:41, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes, the abuse filter is a massive tool of evil. The people that argue for it so bad are exactly the type that shouldn't have it. Acei9 22:44, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
An obsessive sysop would at least have to explain themselves, which is preferable to an automated process. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 22:56, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
If you want to deal with spambots, goatse vandals, and absurd amounts of troll usernames, let me know, I could always turn them off. Incidentally, here's wikipedia's list of filters [1] for typical uses.Evil fascistoh noez 23:01, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
So we have a list we can see, as well? --TheLateGatsby (talk) 23:25, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Yep. Evil fascistoh noez 00:08, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Holy Hormel, Batman.... --TheLateGatsby (talk) 00:23, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

I see nothing on the list of tech powers that I would not rather just let mods do, assuming our mods don't go off on rage-induced benders. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 23:09, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Heh. Acei9 23:14, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Just sayin'. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 23:15, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Heh. Acei9 23:16, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Mods are elected, not chosen for sobriety, obviously. Just sayin.
There are only a few powers that are actually dangerous, and the most dangerous is the ability to hide actions from the community. If that power is shared among a trusted group, however, it's not so dangerous as the ability to actually delete material permanently from the database. MediaWiki isn't designed to allow that, but anyone with direct server access could do it, and it might escape notice. On Wikipedia, deletion and revision deletion can be abused, and are, but, here, most of us can see deleted revisions, and the logs, so it's no big deal. What remains dangerous is suppressrevision, called "oversight," on Wikipedia, which will hide changes from ordinary sysops. Mods and techs have this power here.
There is a watchdog power, suppressionlog, without the ability to actually suppress. Currently only moderators and techs have this right. If there is interest in setting up a relatively bulletproof system that maintains and supports and protects the voluntary, informed cooperation between the community and the RationalWiki Foundation, it could be done.
Beyond that, I've also seen the edit filter used abusively on Wikipedia (where any admin can modify the abuse filter). Here, the edit filters can be fully viewed by any sysop (AFAIK), so if there is any standing abuse, it would be visible. --Abd (talk) 00:49, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
If ToP is proposing combining techs and mods into a single group, I'm going to have to disagree. Mods and techs serve quite different purposes. For example, I was a mod for a term, and it suited me fine, as trying to resolve disputes is something I kind of like doing. But I know very little about technical aspects of this site, and am quite comfortable keeping it that way. If there are going to be a limited number of people with some of these technical powers it's best they aren't wasted on those who have no interest in them. DickTurpis (talk) 03:20, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I see your point. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 03:23, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Straw poll[edit]

Alright, if we want to get beyond just discussing the tech issue, we need to actually do something. I suppose, with so few people weighing in, it might be early for a formal proposal, but let's get things rolling with a straw poll. I'm putting forward a couple ideas for how we decide who gets tech powers that don't leave it up to just one person, but don't go through the headache of a sitewide vote:

Proposal 1:

Anyone who seeks tech rights issues a statement as to why they want them, what they need them for, and what relevant technical wiki skillz they have. The community can comment, but the mods vote. If the majority of mods are in favor, they get the demotion.

Proposal 2:

Basically a Wikipedia RFA thing. It starts out as above, but the community can support or oppose (or goat) the candidate by signing under the appropriate heading, hopefully with some sort of comment explaining their decision. This runs for a week or two, and at the end we look for a rough consensus, generally like a 2:1 ratio in favor in order to get the demotion, or something more concrete if that's what we like better . (If unfamiliar, check out wp:Wikipedia:Requests for adminship, to see how the big boys do it.)

Anyway, here's a place to make your preferences known. Remember, this is a non-binding straw poll. DickTurpis (talk) 20:24, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I like proposal 1 best[edit]

  1. Seems easier than choice 2, but I'd be happy with either. DickTurpis (talk) 20:24, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
  2. Easier to run. It will piss off the folks like Human who think that we should have no formal administration, so I'm a little leery because I can foresee the possibility of a giant clusterfuck if someone decides to use this as An Issue To Cause Unrest. But if we can avoid that, it seems like a grown-up way of doing things and will give the mods something to do. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 20:40, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
  3. This seems sensible enough. Thank you for your efforts, DickTurpis! --TheLateGatsby (talk) 20:54, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
  4. What TOP said. Sam Tally-ho! 04:23, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
  5. I guess this one. Blue (is useful) 13:16, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

I like proposal 2 best[edit]

I hate them both[edit]

  1. For various reasons, I don't trust voting on this site anymore. In any event, as a policy matter, I'd prefer Trent to appoint them. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 21:48, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
  2. I agree with my bum buddy. Acei9 22:01, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
    While I get this, it doesn't strike me as a long term solution. I thought, as a site, we were trying to slowly move beyond the benevolent dictatorship of Premier Toulouse (I though Trent was as well). While I suppose it isn't a real issue yet, eventually we will have to make preparations for a post-Trent wiki. DickTurpis (talk) 22:32, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
    No we won't. The operations manager is a role established in the by-laws, whether or not Trent fills it. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 23:18, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
    Ah. So you think the Operations Manager should have sole appointment jurisdiction. OK. A subtle, but significant, distinction. DickTurpis (talk) 00:21, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
  3. Appointment of techs makes sense. Techs should be responsible to the appointing executive (who is responsible to the board). As to the first option, anyone who wants the job should be disqualified. Unless they are paid, another matter. --Abd (talk) 04:20, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
  4. Techs do technical stuff, and therefore should gain their position based on competency, not popularity. In other words, what Nutty said: they should be appointed by Trent. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 19:45, 26 October 2012 (UTC)


Meh. I guess I don't like either, because mods and the community don't necessarily have a clue. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 23:03, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

+1 Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 23:19, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Don't particularly mind how they're appointed, as long as they're familiar with the both the site/community and the relevant technology/coding they need to do their duties. Ultimately they should still be accountable to the community - i.e. can be removed by popular vote at the Chicken Coop or equivalent if it becomes necessary. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:24, 25 October 2012 (UTC)


One thing I notice that's missing from this discussion is a synopsis of the current de facto method of tech appointments as it currently stands. I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, that we don't have a real system in place, which basically means anyone who has the ability to grant tech rights also has the authority to do so. This is really the same system we have for sysop demotion, ie anyone who is a tech/sysop can make anyone else a tech/sysop without any oversight. This works (barely) for sysops, because we all agree that sysopness is not a big deal. Techs, with their abusefilter and other ultrapowerful abilities, are a pretty big deal, and we have the potential for unsupervised, exponential growth of techs unless we hammer out a policy for how we grant these rights. As it stands, the two major methods in contention are election by mods or decision by Operations Manager (AKA Trent, for the time being). I just want to say that I don't see a huge distinction between these two options. In one option, people elect mods who elect techs. In the other, people elect the board who appoints the OM who appoints techs. If I'm wrong about any of this, please let me know, but really, is that a big difference? If people have no faith in our elections, why do they have any faith in the board or the OM? DickTurpis (talk) 04:53, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Here is the difference. Some of what I'll say is general and there may be some organizational differences, but I'd be surprised. Yes, the board is elected, but the board can also annul an election, if it sees implementing the results as harmful to the goals of the organization. RatWiki is owned by a nonprofit foundation, with legal responsibility and legal authority. The board may *choose* to respect the results of a board election, but it also has the right to do something else. Board members are not anonymous, they are responsible, real persons. Mods can be anonymous. If I'm correct, the board generally wants to stay out of routine wiki decision-making. It represents the overall interests of the organization, and, as such, can provide technical support, through techs. Mods represent the community, not the ownership. Mods can be elected for popularity, they can even be elected as a jape. Right? --Abd (talk) 05:28, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Techs ≠ users with server access. -- Nx / talk 06:11, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
The Operations Manager has some knowledge of Tech abilities (and if he/she doesn't, then we have bigger problems), and has some ability to assess a Tech's ability to do Tech things. Many community members and mods do not. It would be like someone trying to hire a PhD in physics to do physics; you need someone with a knowledge of it to understand if they are capable. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 11:14, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
The board supposedly does not want to get involved in the routine wiki decision-making. Techs are part of that, they're just another wiki user group. -- Nx / talk 11:18, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Even if the board doesn't want to,TM they may have to. One might argue that they already do. I would argue that some of the tech abilities are by no means routine, especially if what Ty did is considered problematic in some way. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:56, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
A mod can do the same thing Ty did. Should the board appoint mods too? -- Nx / talk 13:14, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
(EC)Uh, let's keep in mind that bureaucrats had all the abilities of techs. Techs aren't a Big Scary Bad Thing with powers hitherto unwielded by RW users. Blue (is useful) 13:15, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Sure, bit look how our ad hoc system of creating bureaucrats worked out. DickTurpis (talk) 13:55, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
To some of us, that is the issue. Moderators at least have some authority to patrol bad behavior (athough it's not clear sysoprevoke is available without community vote). It's unclear that techs do. To me that is the question, not how people are selected. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 15:26, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Techs should not use tech powers to control wiki behavior of there own volition except for what is needed to maintain homeostasis on the site. So actions that are disruptive to site functions should be open to tech intervention with out the need for bureaucratic approval. Example of this include creating abuse filters for spam and vandals, or undoing actions from rogue sysops, mods or even techs. Such as mass user rights changes, deletion sprees, mass moves, protections, etc. Since they have the tools to better deal with some of these issues they need the authority to act. But for anything other than large scale disruptions (I.E. personality conflicts, trolling, edit warring) their mandate doesn't extend beyond that of any user and they should not be using the tech powers to effect a solution without community/mod approval. Tmtoulouse (talk) 16:16, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
That's pretty much how I see it too and is why one person should not have both roles. Redchuck.gif ГенгисevolvingModerator 16:56, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

So it seems one of the big issues is that quite a few people don't think the community as a whole, or the moderators, have the know-how to evaluate the technical skills of a wannabe tech. This makes sense, and that's why I indicated a proposal outlining their qualifications should be necessary. I guess it's possible to BS your way through, but I'd like to think there's enough people here who'd have no trouble calling someone out on that. Maybe I have more faith in the community than some. In the end all decisions are going to be made indirectly by the community, so we better hope most of us have some idea of what we're doing. The "Operations Manager only" proposal sounds better than the "any mod or tech who feels like it" system (is that our current de facto system? It seems like it is), though I'm still a little wary of a one person only policy. If this policy is implemented, would the community have any input? I'd like to see some way for people to express their opinions on whether or not they believe someone would make a good tech. DickTurpis (talk) 13:54, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

You don't really have to judge their qualifications, it's more important that you trust them not to do something evil. Techs can modify the site's javascript, for example. -- Nx / talk 14:25, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, that's the second qualification which I neglected to mention. I'd like to think the community and the mods are a decent judge of this, but perhaps not. DickTurpis (talk) 14:45, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Human is currently a moderator. Ace McWicked was moderator before him, before he had his rights stripped for incredibly poor judgement. Reckless Noise Symphony was once a moderator, I believe, and he restored Ace's moderator rights in the middle of his meltdown.--"Shut up, Brx." 14:49, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
This is a discussion about potential "what ifs" in the future--not a great time to talk about the past. If and when the people you mention put themselves up for the office we're discussing here, that would be a better time to address their records. Theory of Practice Still tryin' to figure it all out. 14:54, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Besides, under the proposed policy it would take 4 mods to grant tech rights, so a rouge mod wouldn't be able to do it. DickTurpis (talk) 15:01, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Are you proposing that granting of tech rights would require the cumulative actions of four mods? Or are you just talking about votes? Because I don't see how a "red" mod couldn't do it off their own bat if they so wanted. Redchuck.gif ГенгисevolvingModerator 17:01, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
I haven't considered the specifics much, and it isn't really for me to decide, anyway. I was proposing that an agreement of any 4 mods is authorization for a user to be made a tech. Who actually pushes the button is secondary. It might be good not to have mods have the power to promote/demote techs, so perhaps once the authority is given, it's up to the OM or another tech to physically do the deed. I doubt the software allows for an action like that to need to be done by 4 different people in order to work. We don't have some sort of "launch code" feature, so we? This is probably a minor point? DickTurpis (talk) 17:58, 26 October 2012 (UTC)


The straw poll has probably served its purpose, and it seems there are only two possibilities with any support at all: elected by mods or appointed by Operations Manager. Should we put these two to a more formal vote? How exactly would the OM appointment work? I'd prefer a somewhat open process, done on the wiki rather than through private emails to Trent and the like. It'd be nice if there were a system for the community to give any opinions on any candidate as well, either for or against, which Trent could take into consideration, or not. Should we move this along? DickTurpis (talk) 20:53, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes, please. --TheLateGatsby (talk) 01:21, 27 October 2012 (UTC)


I am going ahead with this. Leaving this here for comment for a day or so, then having the vote. Any suggestions on improved wording are welcome.--ADtalkModerator 03:19, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Proposed Vote[edit]

How should techs be selected?

Option 1[edit]

Existing policy


Proposed policy

Techs Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. They are appointed and removed by votes of the moderators. Except in emergencies, such appointments and removals shall be done in public, with concordant justification to the community.

Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun.

Option 2[edit]

Existing policy


Proposed policy


Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. They are appointed and removed by the Operations Manager of the wiki, who is himself appointed by the Board of Trustees. The server administrator may also make such appointments and removals, when necessary. Except in emergencies, such appointments and removals shall be done in public, with concordant justification to the community.

Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun.

Voting will start in a couple of days.--ADtalkModerator 03:19, 8 January 2013 (UTC)


I must say that I approve more of Option 2 than 1, but there is an issue that under that option only 1 person can appoint and remove techs (the Operations Manager). I understand that this person is ultimately responsible to the board; but what if they are unable to be located for a time and an urgent appointment/removal is required. Wouldn't it be better to add "or if (and only if) the Operations Manager is unavailable, by the secretary of the board". It doesn't take too much imagination to envisage situations where urgent action is required but the only guy with the power to help is on vacation/otherwise engaged. --DamoHi 03:30, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Secretary is probably a bad choice - how about just board member? Peter Subsisting on honey 04:06, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

With the first option, with regards to emergencies, it may be very difficult to get a majority of moderators at the time to take action. Peter Subsisting on honey 03:32, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Oh deary me! Well this is what happens in all bleedin beaurocracies. All talk no action. RationalWiki has become an outdated institution already? Dirk Steele (talk) 03:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Could be modified like with Damo's suggestion, that in an emergency the Ops Manager or the Sec of the Board (or down the chain of command if neither can be reached) can make someone a Tech until the managers can get together to evaluate the post as Tech. Personally, that is the option that seems like it would be best--Just relax, and stay funny (talk) 03:36, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
What is the punishment for abuse? It's happened with Blue, Nx, and Ty. I would argue they should lose not only Tech powers but any other administrative powers as well, especially Mod powers. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 03:40, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
A spanking works. Dirk Steele (talk) 03:50, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I have personally spanked all of them. They are still a naughty bunch. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 03:52, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Oh really? Nobodydon't bother 03:41, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Yep. You used Tech powers to moderate. Techs are not Moderators.
I'll say it yet again. Mods appointing Techs creates a situation for abuse because it allows the Techs to be beholden to Mds. They should be entirely separate processes/entities from each other. Especially since Mods are nothing more than ever so slightly special users. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 03:43, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Funny, I seem to recall an overwhelming ruling that what I did was perfectly acceptable. Hmm. Nobodydon't bother 03:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Post hoc reasoning is a sign of a weak mind. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 03:48, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Sterile. I should lose my sysop, moderator and tech powers immediately based on a hypothetical ex post facto community standard. Elections and fairness be damned, we have animus, dammit! Blue (is useful) 04:02, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Could you take it somewhere else? Peter Subsisting on honey 04:06, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I was being directly addressed as a point about how Sterile wants to treat the tech position; I think it is relevant if I respond, albeit sarcastically. Blue (pester) 04:25, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Why are you offended? Your removal of your own powers was an admission that you had misused power, and was likely a preemptive strike against others taking action against you. It shows that the powers can be abused and, if we are to have rules like this, there should be a mechanism deal with it. I'd hate if we didn't make reasonable policy because of your personal offense. Especially because the combined powers of mods and techs is a lot. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:51, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
What are you on about? I never removed my own tech powers. Check the logs. Blue (is useful) 19:35, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Democracy inaction. Dirk Steele (talk) 04:09, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Anyway, decide what you will. I won't contribute any more to this conversation, nor will I vote. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 13:08, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Not liking either one[edit]

To be honest I don't like either of these options. For one, entrusting Trent alone to make administrative decisions is a terrible idea: he just doesn't have enough time. Moreover, there's no reason why the Board secretary or anyone else on the Board is qualified to grant tech powers either. There's no reason why any of our elected officials is qualified, for that matter.

Let's talk about what techs can do. Except for the prevent email block option, techs have all the powers of moderators and a set of unique rights, of which the ability to edit the MediaWiki namespace is the most notable. The most important thing, though, is that techs do not possess some kind of awesome power as of yet unwielded by anyone before; techs have fewer powers than bureaucrats did! We used to have dozens of people more powerful than techs, and how often were these particular powers abused? Never, if I recall correctly. It was only after we separated bureaucrats' powers into two separate groups that we started really thinking about how best the "tech" powers should be used. But let us dispel this notion that techs are dangerously and unknowably powerful, because they're not anything new - there just used to be a lot more people with their powers.

We have a convenient a priori answer to the question, "Who should be moderators?": elections. But techs are obviously not elected. Who, then, should be a tech? The small group of people who are qualified to be techs is virtually the same as the group of people qualified to determine who should be techs. Techs need to be versed in wikicode, javascript, and CSS, and have a great deal of knowledge about how MediaWiki works and how RW has customized it. Basically, they need to know how to use their tools. I can think of only a handful users who fall into this category: myself, Nx, Armondikov, Tmtoulouse, David Gerard, Pi (though he's long inactive), Bertran (for custodial purposes at ru.rww) and Reckless Noise Symphony; I haven't seen others, though they may be lurking.

Techs should obviously be an appointed position. The question becomes, then, who should appoint them. I think it's folly to entrust the whole thing to Trent, as I said previously. Keep in mind that as Operations Manager, Trent could appoint or remove techs with or without approval from any community process; furthermore, as the Board of Trustees is in charge of RationalWiki, it could appoint or remove techs in much the same way, regardless of how we vote. Which of our officials should do it, then? The Board appointed David Gerard as the server administrator. Ostensibly, he is the best person to appoint techs. He is the only person qualified to do so by virtue of his position, and he appears to be trusted enough to be elected a moderator. If we really must change how techs are appointed, the only fair option is to give Mr. Gerard sole authority to appoint techs. (Removal of tech rights could be done by him or by a traditional community trial.)

TL;DR: read the last two sentences. Blue (is useful) 04:43, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I lolled at "traditional community trial", and that you did not append a smiley. Fascist. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:52, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
I would say maybe have the Board as a whole, maybe with David Gerard's and Trent's input if they're not on the board, appoint them at one of their meetings and then if there's an emergency the moderators who are around can name someone if need be. Sam Tally-ho! 04:49, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
You are arguing, in my view, for mod appointment - and that the mods be wise enough to accept advice from the qualified, i.e. Gerard.--ADtalkModerator 05:51, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
As a general response, also, to the dearth of options, I will note that these options were generally approved by previous discussion, and that we have let the perfect be the enemy of the good in the past, quitting because the perfect set of options and solutions were too hard to get done. This is, if you will, a bootstrapping of the vote to make sure it gets done, per my role as a mod. So while I'll probably make some changes to the language (the above suggestion to add a clause specifying a backup plan is a good idea) I think it's good to stay on task and get something workable done on this matter. Bootstraps!--ADtalkModerator 05:56, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) All of this is assuming we'll need ad hoc appointment of techs. Would such an emergency really manifest? Let's just make some now and see what happens. I say make the group you named techs. Have a vote on it first, with objections voiced. IDK how to formulate that into rules, though.--"Shut up, Brx." 05:57, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
We needed them in the goatse attack (I think ToP was actually made a mod for a moment in the panic to see if he could do anything). It's a real issue. Peter Subsisting on honey 06:33, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Forgot to mention the abuse filter as the other key tech ability, and also one that only a handful of people know how to use. Blue (pester) 06:41, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, Blues favourite little, vibrating and greased hobby horse. The abuse filter. Acei9 06:52, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Writing regular expressions isn't all that hard to learn. Any wiki tool takes some time to learn, but I don't think it would take that long. sterilesporadic heavy hitter 12:54, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Not sure I want or should have the job either :-) The process for me was IMO sensible - I stuck my hand up, I sent Trent my resume, he circulated it to the board, they decided I had the technical chops and wasn't likely to abuse my power over the horizontal and the vertical. Both necessary and sufficient. Obviously, taking on a volunteer to have absolute control over your system is completely different to taking on an employee; sometimes you'll get someone hugely qualified, sometimes you'll get someone who has sysadmin talent but is short on experience. Sometimes you'll get Trent, a Ph.D student who finds himself with the job :-) I can see why the community might want the option to veto a real dickhead, of course - David Gerard (talk) 20:26, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Speaking as a tech[edit]

If you're inclined to option 1, please add some option 2 first - it's a position where technical chops are pretty much the first requirement, then cull for instability/dickishness - David Gerard (talk) 20:23, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

RNS' opinion[edit]

Making the tech position a position appointed by the Board as a whole is an inherently stupid idea; the Board of Trustees has much higher priorities to deal with than figuring out who is and should be a "Tech." As to Blue's point, the tech position does, indeed, require a certain technical savvy that should certainly not be entrusted to just anyone. It requires somebody who knows what the fuck they are doing and the consequences of their actions (for example, what if I add this line of code to the abuse filter? Who and what will it affect). I therefore think that giving authority to appoint techs should be made by System Administrators. This includes the Operations Manager (as he is the boss of System Administrators). I also think that techs should retain the power to appoint techs in the event of an emergency or a heavy workloaded technical project (i.e: a vandal spree, or a complete re-write of some MediaWiki code). Furthermore, I think abuses of technical powers should be dealt with at either the Moderator level or the System Administrator level, not in the chicken coop by any means. Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 12:41, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I agree that giving the power to the board is a bad idea. They meet, what, 4 times a year? That can be a long time to wait. And RNS is right that they do have better things to do. Having read the further input above, perhaps the best solution is to have tech appointed by either the Operations Manager or Server Administrator (ie Trent or David, respectively). To be so appointed an applicant would have to display proficiency in the technical stuff Blue mentioned (wikicode, javascript, etc.), which I imagine would be difficult to BS your way through. Since being trusted by the community at large is important as well, the community would have an opportunity to give their input on whether or not they support the candidacy, though this would be non-binding. If both the OM and the SA agree (or, perhaps, just one of them), we have a tech. I guess the current techs are grandfathered in, though it might not be a bad idea to have a forum for community input on them anyway (then again, it might be a terrible idea). It seems we've rejected the idea of a sitewide vote, as well as a Wikipedia-style RFA process. Appointment by mods seems to be losing support, and some of us doesn't think this is the board's bailiwick. We're running out of options here. Having thee two knowledgeable people decide seems like as good of a solution as we're likely to get. DickTurpis (talk) 15:00, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
We are in constant communication via an email group. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:54, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
It is the responsibility of the Operations Manager to ensure that the site runs as smoothly as possible on a technical level. Obviously this requires a degree of technical expertise which is beyond the capability of the mob to appraise (although certain individuals may of course be knowledgeable). So I am in favour of the OM appointing whoever he sees fit as a tech. However, I have an aversion to combining powers so I am against techs having other roles(specifically mod) because it is just too tempting to combine the two; all moderators should be equal - and one of the roles of a tech should be to maintain that. So if one of the moderators went "rouge" and changed the status of all the others it would be perfectly appropriate for the tech to reverse that operation and remove mod status from the "rouge" pending an ATIM discussion. Redchuck.gif ГенгисevolvingModerator 15:42, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Heh, 'rouge'. I remember that discussion. T'was amusing. Acei9 20:15, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Of course, having just been made a mod ... eegh - David Gerard (talk) 20:33, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
The RWF is still at the tiny stage - it hasn't even really reached the "working board" stage of nonprofit evolution. (The next stage is "professional organisation", where the exec director would be the person responsible for hiring the head of tech.) So having the ops manager pick someone and the board sanity-check is not unreasonable, given we're talking about giving a volunteer absolute control of the server that serves everything the RWF does. They could explicitly cede this to the ops manager, of course - David Gerard (talk) 20:32, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Techs don't have server access. Nobodydon't bother 20:35, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Ah ... ok, my comments here were assuming "Techs" = "sysadmins" - d'oh! - David Gerard (talk) 00:52, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

NR's opinion[edit]

I'm not going to get too far into my numerous disagreements with some of the positions people are stating here. Suffice it to say that we've already had a number of abuses of the tech bit by the very people Blue says are "qualified" to determine who should be a tech. Moderators are not in any privileged position to determine who is qualified to do anything. Their function is to put out fires, "bootstrap" policy, and "in consultation with the community and each other, also may help develop a structure of procedures for running the site." I don't believe techs have any part in "running the site" in any manner on which moderators were intended to have input or supervisory authority, which they simply don't have in the first place. As an initial matter, it is not appropriate to presume that moderators possess sufficient expertise to make any kind of informed decision on who should and should not hold a technical position with powerful abilities. Who is? The person the RWF by laws say has that authority. The full extent of moderator's authority to effect lasting change is to "help develop structure" in "consultation with the community." Trent made a specific reference to moderator fiat in the context of "bootstrapping" basic policy and procedure. The example he gave was with voting. It is certainly true that someone has to make basic decisions as to how the community itself will implement its will and I've always agreed that coming up with a sensible plan for handling community votes is within the moderators' bailiwick. Beyond the real question of whether Blue herself has shown good judgment in how she's handled the tech role so far from both the moderator and tech side of the bit and how that has certainly affected by level of trust for moderators regarding the tech bit since she's one of the few to feel compelled to bother with it, I don't believe moderators have any business unilaterally appointing long term positions, particularly where community input is unnecessary. As GK correctly observed, it is beyond the capability of the mob to assess prospective techs' technical expertise. Trent is solely responsible for the day to day operation of the site, including all technical details; David Gerard is helping in that role in an officially sanctioned capacity. It is flatly absurd, and I think overreaching, to even suggest that Trent "just doesn't have enough time" to make administrative decisions when that's his job according to the RWF's bylaws. My preference would be to see the tech role taken completely out of the "political" realm and put solely in the hands of the people the RWF already has handling technical details. If anyone seriously thinks either is too busy to handle appointing people they likely already know are competent to handle the job, then they're unaware of the hundreds of hours these guys have already put into back end work enabling RW's explosive growth. They've done it in private and with all modesty. I trust them implicitly to make any decisions regarding the operation of this site. All in all, I don't trust moderators to make unilateral decisions effecting lasting change beyond implementing the most basic policy with community input. My perspective on individual moderators not exhibiting good judgment is relevant only to the broader position I've explained that moderators don't have any business getting involved in technical issues. They're lower level community representatives with strictly limited authority. Not sys admins or elected leaders. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 20:07, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

^Makes very good points. Particularly this: [Mods are]...lower level community representatives with strictly limited authority. Not sys admins or elected leaders. We need to remember this. It isn't the job of moderator to decide who is and is not a tech. That isn't part of the remit and never has been. Acei9 20:19, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Actually, that isn't entirely clear. Mods always had the ability to create techs, and no specific restrictions put on their authority to do so. That's what we're trying to fix now. DickTurpis (talk) 20:48, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
With Nutty on every point here. Occasionaluse (talk) 20:21, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I am also in 100% concurrence with Nutty here. Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 20:29, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
But further up you suggested mods could be responsible for removing techs in cases of abuse, which doesn't really fit with their strictly limited authority as currently defined. WeaseloidWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:35, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Trying to parse the wall of text and sum up the overall preference, are looking at appointment by Trent, or Trent and David, or either one? Or is the distinction between these options negligible? DickTurpis (talk) 20:42, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
You're misunderstanding my points. Trent already has the prerogative and authority to appoint techs - we don't need to have a vote to "give" it to him. Similarly, the Board has the authority to appoint and remove techs if it so desires, though as RNS said, this doesn't seem to be a high priority for them. I am suggesting that Trent shouldn't be the only person with the authority, as David Gerard is also a qualified person in an official Foundation role. Blue (pester) 21:35, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
The issue of my "time" is not so much I wouldn't have time to oversee appointments of techs, but rather that I don't have time/inclination to appoint techs without a specific, centrally located place to ask for/nominate/discuss potential appointments. If there existed a "tech nomination" page or whatever, like there is a tech support page, I would have no problem monitoring it and acting accordingly. Tmtoulouse (talk) 21:39, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't responding just to you, Blue. AD suggested he has the authority to appoint techs by fiat, if I read him correctly. I disagree. You and I agree that David should have authority. We don't agree that Trent should. So Trent is apparently willing to do this if he gets input. I'm perfectly happy with him making the decision based on nominations. I'm sure it will be the same people. I just don't want moderators anywhere near the decision. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 21:45, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Tanya Godot's opinion[edit]

I am curious why such an "important" position is being voted on. I know almost nothing about the techinical side, so the irony of what i'm about to suggest is not lost on me. Why is such a position not something that is petitioned to the board, along with a real name (and address) and resume of qualifications. Then let the board choose based on qualifications, not popularity, not disliking some sox, etc. In exchange, teh person can use this real experience on his real resume when going to a new job. It is work, albeit volunteer work, so we should be respecting it as such.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:17, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I seem to recall reading David Gerard's resume some time ago. Was blown away. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:00, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
^Another very good point. Acei9 20:20, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
No one's suggesting we vote for techs, so I'm not sure what your point is. DickTurpis (talk) 20:30, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
See option 1 above. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:33, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I assumed she meant sitewide vote. I don't really see 4 mods saying "yes" as a vote so much, but I guess it is. In a sense an appointment by Trent is a "vote" of one. DickTurpis (talk) 20:38, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Paul of Practice's opinion[edit]

As a long-time RWian who wants to see this community continue to grow and thrive, I totally Nutty's take on this--techs should be chosen for one reason only, their technical skills. Trent and the Board should have the final say-so on who gets tech abilities, although the idea of a non-binding consultation with the mob might ease fears that omygodaspiefascistsaretakingoverthewiki. Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 20:23, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Nothing eases that particular fear. seeing as the Mob will be on whatever side is not currently the "successful" (for want of a better word) side.Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 21:07, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Things are enough of a popularity contest lately. Trent's got the moral authority to make this happen. If the techs screw up like some have, then we'll cross that road when we get to it. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 21:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Dick of Turpis's opinion[edit]

The process as I would like to see it:

Random user Jimmy JimJim decides he wants to be a tech. He goes to the mandated tech nomination page and put his name forward for consideration, and writes something about himself. Ideally he'd say what his skills are, what he can bring to the position, why he thinks he'd do a good job, etc. It's basically up to him. Then we have about a week of community input, in which anyone can ask questions, express opinions, and so forth. People can play "stump the techie" if they like, in an effort to test his mettle. They can express support or opposition, or point out past behaviors that might otherwise have been overlooked which may call into question the nominee's trustworthiness. After all that's over, x makes the decision on whether or not Jimmy JimJim gets to be a tech. So we have to decide who x is. It's looking like it's either going to be the Operations Manager (Trent), the Server Administrator (David Gerard), or both. The options of community vote or moderator vote seem not to be popular, and I don't see a whole lot of support for putting it in the board's hands. The status quo seems to be anyone with the ability to manage such user rights can do so, which doesn't appear popular either.

It seems like most of us are actually in agreement here. And the only options I see any real support for are:

  1. Trent decides
  2. Trent or David decides
  3. Trent and David mutually agree

The differences between those are minimal, and I'd be a bot surprised if anyone felt really really strongly for one and completely opposed to the others. (Well, maybe not all that surprised). Unless I'm reading everyone wrong, which isn;t impossible. DickTurpis (talk) 22:18, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

A bot surprised! Anyhoo, this is a good plan, in either variation. Probably best left at "Trent and/or David" (Operations Manager and/or Server Administrator) rather than committing to need both signatures every time. WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:33, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Slight changes[edit]

I have slightly changed the terms of the vote, in response to input. Based on the most vocal people here, it seems as though the second option will be overwhelmingly the one selected, which tasks Trent with selections (with Gerard as backup).--ADtalkModerator 23:38, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I would suggest mods be allowed to temporarily remove tech rights in cases of actions harmful to the site. Tmtoulouse (talk) 23:42, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
AD, what were the slight changes & why is a vote still required? WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:50, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Changes. Peter Subsisting on honey 00:20, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
The substantive difference is to add Gerard (or the next server manager) as another person who can appoint or remove techs, if Trent can't. I also changed the mod thing to just a vote, rather than majority vote (it would still usually be a majority, but there were concerns about emergencies or whatever.)
A vote should still occur because while a vocal group may think the second option is better, this group is the most attentive, responsive, and opinionated minority. The actual majority of users may have a different preference. While obviously I think we need to bootstrap some action (thus I bring it up at all) I also think it's important that the five or six most active users not make the decision alone. I anticipate a quiet and cordial vote, especially since discussion so far has been so polite and intelligent.--ADtalkModerator 00:28, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
Is decision by the board out? I don't think it's a great idea, but, as you said, we don't want the same half dozen people to make decisions just by being the most vocal, and there were some voices in favor, I believe. DickTurpis (A bot surprised) (talk) 06:32, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
The board's delegated all this to Trent and I think it's safe to say he's already said he's cool with him and Gerard deciding from recommendations on a nomination page. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 15:59, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
What are you voting on if Trent's saying he'll take this function over, basically based on the discussion that's already occurred on this page. I mean, you can put together what can only be an informal vote if you think it would Trent more guidance, but I frankly think it's a waste of time. Just ask Trent what he wants to do. If he says he's barely keen on taking this function over and he'd prefer not to if we can come up with something else, this vote accomplishes nothing. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 16:05, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
But isn't a vote by the community how we change the site's policies, even if it turns out to be a rubber stamp? While it seems like the Trent/David solution is the favored one, you never know what sort of opposition can jump out of the woodwork once this gets beyond a talk page with maybe a dozen participants. Or are decisions of this type under the authority of the board, and can their say be considered final? DickTurpis (A bot surprised) (talk) 18:08, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
I feel like I'm repeating myself to some degree here. If Trent takes this function over, it's no longer something the community has any say over as a matter of law. He can do whatever he wants, including take advice from the community, as he said he would, but he doesn't have to. As the foundation owns this site and the board is ultimately responsible for the foundation, the board effectively has authority over anything and everything with regard to RW except as specifically stated to the contrary in the by laws. The board will likely never concern itself with a decision like this except under circumstances I couldn't begin to anticipate because it's delegated responsibility for day to day operations of the site to Trent. Think of Trent as the board relating to everything operational. He's also a board member and entitled to do anything he thinks is appropriate. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 22:38, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

David Gerard pontificates[edit]

OK, my comments here were assuming "Techs" = "sysadmins" - d'oh! This is of course completely wrong, so I've written lots of crap up there. Never mind.

And also, I don't see how sysadmin = this job too - David Gerard (talk) 00:52, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Actual Vote[edit]

This vote has been closed. Please do not add, remove or change votes.
The result of this vote was: Option 2 will be added to the Standards.


The question is: How should techs be selected? Voting will run for one week. To vote, you must have at least 75 total edits and a registration date at least three months prior to the conclusion of the vote.

Option 1[edit]

Existing policy


Proposed policy

Techs Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. They are appointed and removed by votes of the moderators. Except in emergencies, such appointments and removals shall be done in public, with concordant justification to the community.

Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun.

Option 2[edit]

Existing policy


Proposed policy


Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. They are appointed and removed by the Operations Manager of the wiki, who is himself appointed by the Board of Trustees. The server administrator may also make such appointments and removals, when necessary. Except in emergencies, such appointments and removals shall be done in public, with concordant justification to the community.

Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun.

Vote here[edit]

Option 1[edit]

  1. Bootmii(Nomic) 01:55, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Option 2[edit]

  1. --ADtalkModerator 23:18, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
  2. --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 23:32, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
  3. --DamoHi 23:56, 9 January 2013 (UTC)
  4. --Sam Tally-ho! 00:11, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  5. --User:Ace McWicked I'd make a great tech.
  6. --Sprocket J Cogswell The tech selection process should look more like hiring a specialist than electing a gonfalonier.
  7. --Tielec01 (talk) 02:59, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  8. --Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 03:05, 10 January 2013 (UTC) ACE FOR TECH!!!!111!!1!!
  9. --Reckless Noise Symphony (talk) 03:23, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  10. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 03:25, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  11. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 10:50, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  12. rpeh •TCE 11:01, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  13. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 11:19, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  14. Aboriginal Noise with 4 M's and a silent Q 14:24, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  15. --Spud (talk) 14:35, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  16. DickTurpis (A bot surprised) (talk) 14:42, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
  17. C®ackeЯ 01:11, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
  18. Kels (talk) 16:21, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
  19. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 16:32, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
  20. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:28, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
  21. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:50, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
  22. --MtDPrematurely Indeterminate 10:49, 15 January 2013 (UTC)|}

Inconsistency in the Standards re: User Talk Pages.[edit]

This discussion was moved here from RationalWiki:Saloon bar.

The Standards read: "Talk pages (including user talk as well as article talk pages) and other discussion pages, such as debates or the Saloon bar, are community property. They must not be deleted, nor protected, although they can be archived periodically.: a few lines later, it says: "Users may archive or delete comments from their own user talk page (not article talk pages, or the talk pages of other users) at their discretion." So they must not be deleted, or they may be deleted. Which is it? Polar Bear in the Jungle Peter Tosh > Bob Marley 00:26, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

This discussion should really take place at the CS talk page. The second comment was added three months ago without prior discussion (at least on the CS talk page); I've just taken it out again, pending any consensus on the subject. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:31, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if this was in relation to the insidious idea floating around now that 'obvious trolling' can be removed from a talk page? I'm not sure where the idea arose from, but I feel that the community voted in favour of it, perhaps in a slightly different form than how it is utilised in practice now (from memory it was really just to stop Ace from putting dicks all over the wiki).Tielec01 (talk) 04:02, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
Liked that stopped me. Acei9 04:08, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
Hey fuck you. There's nothing wrong with dicks as a serious subject in Internet Art. And Ace has definitely put up less dicks than I have. So fuck off. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 04:10, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
Very true, I was going to include you Nutty but Ace was the first that sprung to mind. My apologies.Tielec01 (talk) 04:12, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
It's ok. But I do recall this discussion occurring before one of our many pointless votes on issues nobody actually apparently cares about. I don't have the dexterity to search for "wild west" in whatever namespace these things end up in. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 04:17, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
The search bar is up the top there. Peter mqzp 04:19, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
You type better and care more. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 04:20, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
Such are the perils of sobriety. Peter mqzp 04:31, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

What happened previously is the "Loya Jirga" decreed in 2010 that trolling comments can be removed from talk pages by the talk page owner. It's not something I agree with & really this was outside the LJ's remit as they were supposed to settle individual disputes, not determine policy, but so it goes. Since then, that's always been a somewhat grey area. But the current controversy is over users just deleting old talk page threads because they don't want to look at them anymore & can't be bothered to archive them; nothing to do with trolling. This seems to be something that Abd & JzG brought over from Wikipedia; everybody else has seemed happy enough to maintain archives. I think it's important that discussions are preserved openly in an archive where they can be found again (e.g. through a search, when the facility is fixed properly), so the argument that "it's still there in the page history" is bollocks. Transparency has always been pretty important to the community; let's not let it go because of one or two users being stubborn. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:12, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

What Weaseloid said.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 09:54, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
Weasel is wise. As is Bob. Anyone for a penis picture? Acei9 10:30, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

User subpages policy[edit]

Currently the policy on User subpages is that "(almost) anything goes". That has led to problems with people using RW as a repository for any old crap, such as User:Civic Cat/List of music videos featuring barefoot females. I'd like to see the policy amended to read An editor's user page, and other pages in their user space, is their personal space and they are free to do with it what they want (with common-sense-exceptions, such as patently offensive material, copyright violations, spam, or material with absolutely no possible relevance to the RW mission).

At the heart of this is the philosophical question - what is RW for? If it really is a de facto social media site, then Civic Cat is well within his rights to create this user subpage. If it is actually trying to adhere to the stated mission, then this stuff simply doesn't belong. RW has been growing for the past year, and hence this sort of thing will start to occur more frequently as more users arrive. I'd like to see some boundaries before this gets out of hand.

Civic Cat also (rightly) points out that there are numerous other user subpages in the same category. Hence a consequence of changing the community standards would be purging these as well. VOXHUMANA 00:46, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Seriously, if you go poking around in users sub pages on Wikipedia then you'll find hard core porn - and it doesn't seem to distract. Apparently are target audience come for the high profile articles and don't spend time on RC or the bar, let alone user sub pages. As such, as long as it's legal, where's the harm. Jack Hughes (talk) 00:54, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

This is under discussion at RationalWiki talk:All things in moderation #Community Standards and I've added my comments there. There really doesn't seem much point in forking the discussion or repeating/copying our comments from one page to another, so can we please try & keep the discussion on one page for now? WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 00:57, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

The other discussion is moderating a specific issue. This discussion is for the broader policy matter. As Civic Cat rightly points out, nothing he is doing is against policy as written, so there is currently nothing to moderate. Hence I opened this discussion on the community standard itself. VOXHUMANA 01:20, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
Vox is correct. Let's make a standard - David Gerard (talk) 13:04, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
I suggest that user-space pages can be nominated for deletion like any other non-talk page can (there's nothing in the deletion section to say that they can't but we can add some wording to clarify this). ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:16, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
Sounds good - David Gerard (talk) 17:49, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Neutral Point of View?[edit]

I started a lengthy discussion at some random talk page because I was surprised about some details of the article, and wanted to learn more about the community's view on them.

My initial point is that RW should avoid bias in their articles. (Please note that I have no idea how widespread this problem is; the justification given so far in the discussion seems to imply that it is universal. Please let me know if this is not correct.) That does not mean that articles have to be balanced between all possible POVs.

I think that bias is fundamentally irrational. It is often unavoidable, but methods and rules should be set up in a way to minimize bias.

Here is where I'm coming from: I'm an observer of the TF/FTB spectacle and I'm frankly overwhelmed by the output, so I came here to find unbiased information about it, maybe a timeline. The TF article does not provide it at the moment, and according to the discussion so far, it looks like RW is not meant to provide it. I came here for confirmation or opposition to this view from other long-term contributors.

If the view is indeed universal, my question would be: What would be lost if RW would adopt something similar to Wikipedia's NPOV? Where is the disadvantage?

Thanks for your time! -- (talk) 14:01, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Meanwhile, someone pointed out this. That answers some of my questions, but leaves the last. -- (talk) 14:13, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We should definitely cut down on our bias against emerging sciences, like Abd wanted, or against racism, like Mikemikev wants, or conservatives, like RobSmith wants, or sexist pricks, like BON wants. Wait, no we shouldn't. Hipocrite (talk) 14:14, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Red herring -- (talk) 14:16, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
No, it's not. Perhaps you need to figure out what words mean. Could you define "bias," please? Hipocrite (talk) 14:22, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Wow, sorry, I botched that editing... NPOV means that we'd be trying to be Wikipedia with fewer Editors. Most projects that attempt such, fail. We take a side, we admit it, and that's not changing soon. --TheLateGatsby (The end of the dock ) 14:26, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
That's not how I understand NPOV as applied to RW. Let me give you two examples from TF:
  • "[...] how technology is fan-fucking-tastic-at-everything." - Totally unacceptable in WP, but I can't find a fault in it. It has a biased tone, but nevertheless accurately describes the facts.
  • "Most of his defenders jumped ship when he took advantage of an exploit (albeit a ridiculous one) in the FtB backchannel to get and publish confidential emails." - (BTW, the publishing of confidential material is totally disgusting) Two issues: The first part seems to be an Argumentum ad populum (disagree?), and directly contradicting a latter part of the article (look for "Groupthink"). The access to the backchannel was not done with an exploit, but by technically valid invitation. The article later explains this.
As I said elsewhere, I think that the bashing in that article contributes to confirmation bias in the matter. That is something one should avoid, and it is easily avoidable in this case. Taking sides is not my concern. -- (talk) 15:08, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
You appear to disagree that resigning up to an email list you had been kicked off of due to the fact that invitations from months prior were not technically revoked is not an "exploit." You are wrong. Hipocrite (talk) 15:17, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
You seem to be overly concerned with some few details of what I write. Please respond to the bigger picture. -- (talk) 16:28, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
"Perhaps you need to figure out what words mean." - Calm down. -- (talk)
Define bias. Hipocrite (talk) 15:17, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not your dictionary. If you read my posts, you will get a pretty good impression of what I'm talking about. Even if you don't, I give specific examples; use them. -- (talk) 15:58, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) No, it's not, as you again failed to make clear what particular meaning of "bias" you are protesting against, leaving it to interpretation. Rants about "bias" are common amongst people unhappy with how RW portrays them and used as pretext for dismissing criticism. So Hipocrite's remark was appropriate.
You are also shifting the burden of proof. You are proposing a change, you should explain why it's a good idea, not the other way round. :)
As for your last question, SPOV has been one of the defining characteristics of the site. Without it, it's just a bad clone of Wikipedia.
And please note that RW is a very anarchistic site and "top-down" changes rarely work. You can't force a heterogenous bunch of volunteers to do something if they don't like it.--ZooGuard (talk) 14:38, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
That's easy: I'm not arguing for "emerging sciences", "racism" or "conservatives". Hence, Red herring.
I think I explained why I think it would be a good idea. You should find those explanations, even if you don't agree with them.
While I am arguing for a RW-brand NPOV, I would also like clarification. To put it bluntly, if RW turns out to be biased by design, it simply is not a worthwhile source for anything (except amusement, if you are so inclined). Since I think that bias is fundamentally irrational, it would also be hypocritical. In my personal view, RW would simply stop to matter. -- (talk) 15:16, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
You are, in fact, arguing for emerging sciences, racism and conservatives. We'd need to present their viewpoints fairly and without bias if we were to adhere to NPOV. If you don't like the fact that we are biased towards science, then leave. Hipocrite (talk) 15:18, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
If you think that a fair and unbiased account might turn out to be favourable to racism, you have an entirely different set of problems.
Read my points: I argue that RW's bias is irrational, ie. (roughly) unscientific. I give reasons, please reply to them specifically if you disagree. -- (talk) 15:56, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I think you are on the wrong site. I suggest reading Essay:I thought this was supposed to be RATIONALWiki, and, if your rants about irrationality and bias are not just a pose, buzz off to LessWrong.--ZooGuard (talk) 16:08, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Read it. It does not explain very much, but let me comment on one statement: "Basically, when someone is accusing you of being irrational, they're merely accusing you of disagreeing with them" - Nope, that is not necessarily the case. My suggestion is to avoid or minimize what demonstrably does not work (see cognition bias) and to embrace what helps (NPOV). Y'all agree to this in some cases, but not when it comes to overt smears. This is inconsistent, and I ask you to reconsider.
Just as with emerging sciences, racism, conservatives and sexist pricks, not everything should be viewed as balanced as possible. I think the bias in the TF article is just wrong. -- (talk) 16:28, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
"I think the tone in one article is wrong" thats great, go argue that over there then. --MikallakiM 16:29, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
That's funny, because all of the above looks like the view is not limited to one particular article. What is it?
Also, I was sent here. -- (talk) 16:44, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Jesus fuck. It's not as if the roots of this guy's concerns haven't been echoed for years by regular editors. Pointing him to the What is RationalWiki Article? was a big "fuck off" from the start. Zooguard's comment about the inevitable failure of foisting top-down policy is well-taken, but it means to me that SPOV is as meaningless to an outsider as an RW in-joke. Define it if you disagree. The core of our bias is stated in the mission on the Main Page. Fighting over opinions and interpretations necessarily makes discussions pretty contentious. Always have. They seem to get settled by the person getting ganged up on giving up. I'm just rambling because this discussion is about as productive as me talking to UHM or Brxbrx. 193, people may understand and even agree with your point about Thunderf00t, but I at least don't see how you'd make policy out of it. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 17:01, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

My talk page thing.[edit]

Okay, so, if you have a loon at my talkpage, you will see that I request for editors to leave their comments on specific sub-pages of my talk page relating to category so that everything is organised and neat and shit. However, due to the fact that this is and has been frequently ignored by many editors, I have to move shit from my main page to each sub page, and have left a big notice in which I threaten to start simply deleting shit- though this is little more than an empty threat formed out of frustration. Anyway, some people are saying that this whole thing violates the community standards, even though nothing is being change in content or deleted- all that's happening is having it put from one place into another. Either way, what is everybody else's opinion on this? DØØM MĖSSIÅH But flies will lay their eggsDolan.png 14:10, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

My opinion is do it the way 99.9999999 of every editor on every mediawiki site in history has done it or these people are going to drive you nuts, assuming you're not trolling, which I think you probably are. Nutty Rouxnever mind 14:54, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
You're an eejit! Scream!! (talk) 17:12, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't really care if you want to move comments to those pages, but the onus is on you to do so if that's what you choose, not on everyone else to fall in with your way of doing things. This system really isn't going to catch on, & getting in a rage that it doesn't is just silly. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
What the fuck is an eejit? And Brx suggested something which I haven't had a chance to look at, but it sounds interesting, so I'll give it a try. DØØM MĖSSIÅH But flies will lay their eggsDolan.png 22:23, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
What purpose does it actually serve? WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:27, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
It was more organised, but now it just serves as little more than a nuisance, and a way for people to annoy me. Which I don't like because it makes me sad when people don't like me. But either way, I might try the thing Brx suggested, and if I can't really get the hang of it, I'll just go back to that shitty way everybody else uses. DØØM MĖSSIÅH But flies will lay their eggsDolan.png 22:30, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm still not getting it. What is "more organised" about it? Why would people categorise comments they make to you as one of four types of comment? It's not clear how that would help you or them. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:41, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't matter now. I'm putting it all back, which is gonna take fucking ages, but whatever. DØØM MĖSSIÅH But flies will lay their eggsDolan.png 22:48, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Biographies of living persons[edit]

In Spring 2014 we have seen a couple of people complaining about our articles and making legal threats. Wikipedia's instructions on Biographies of living persons is enormous. Do we need any specific standard or do we simply need to state that everything should be accurate and sourced?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 13:58, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

I think that we should just briefly point out that everything must be sourced, and that we shouldn't go excessively overboard with the snark to the point that it could be viewed as harassment. That's all we really need to say, in my opinion. DØØM MĖSSIÅH But flies will lay their eggsDolan.png 14:06, 18 April 2014 (UTC)