An administrator "assuming good faith" with an editor with whom they have disagreed.

Community interaction at the English Wikipedia (2013)Edit

Iri, I know you'll know. I had never seen this before (WAID posted it to the medicine project); apparently FAC was the Center of the Universe back then, as the large yellow dot in the middle is me, surrounded by the FA community (you are just above and slightly to the left), and Blofeld and Jimbo having smaller dots off to the sides. [1] Do you know if there is a study or something attached to this visualization, where terms are defined? Meaning, is there anything useful here to help FAC get re-invigorated? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:36, 19 August 2020 (UTC)

It's the first I've seen of it. Without documentation it's hard to make sense of, but I assume you're at the center of the universe because your name appeared on every failed FA nomination as the closer, so every who ever commented on an FAC is counted as having "interacted" with you. (Eric Corbett is the second-most-central figure, presumably for similar reasons from the GA sweep.) If it's supposed to in some way illustrate the closeness of contributors, it doesn't make a great deal of sense to me; you have people with no obvious crossover like Drmies and Pigsonthewing shown cheek-by-jowl, people who at that time (2013) were ultra-insiders like Wehwalt, Bishonen and RexxS relegated to the fringes, and me (who at that point had barely edited for two years) shown as more central than Jimmy Wales. If it was WMF-funded then WAID might know whether any study was attached to it, since the creators would presumably have submitted a "what we did with your money" form. Alternately, there's doubtless someone watching this page who can prod the Wikipediocracy crowd; if it was 2013 it would probably have still been pre-schism Wikipedia Review, but whatever their faults the HTD-ers have memories like elephants. I can't imagine the combination of "complicated statistical analysis containing terms like 'Betweenness Centrality: 180731.2640208649'" and "apparent visual proof of the existence of Wikipedia cabals" is something Poetlister or Moulton would have ignored the chance to write at length about. It would be interesting to dig out the database dumps and run the whole thing as a time series from 2001 to the present to see how the patterns have changed. ‑ Iridescent 15:34, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
And it misses most of my most central connections, so I was wanting some definition of terms. I can't find anything of substance that references it ... and I would have bet the bank that you would know!
While WAID could tell us what sort of flawed methodology WMF paid for, I was more interested in whether there is anything of interest here for re-invigorating the FA process. It goes back to something I've said often here about how much I hate the echo system: we no longer talk to each other. I had 500 active talk page watchers, who helped me manage FAC, and we were more of a community. I suspect echo helped kill that. Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:08, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
According to the documentation in it it is based on "the whole history of the project", up to August 2013. So no great surprise if someone who had been inactive for the last two years of that period wound up central. Not sure how I wound up fairly central by then..... ϢereSpielChequers 22:38, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
There's probably not much there which would be any kind of pointer to reinvigorating FAC. The problem there is a cultural problem derived from a shift in how Wikipedia operates. Because WP:PR has fallen out of use and because most of the WikiProjects have a dwindling membership, there's less scope for people to ask the minor but necessary questions like "what exactly does this sentence mean?" and "the spelling in these two sections is inconsistent, which of them is right?". That in turn makes the FA reviews look longer than they used to. Bloated FA reviews put people off both participating (people quite reasonably don't want to engage in a thread when they haven't read the whole thing, and not many people want to spend the couple of hours it would take to get up to speed on something like Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Coropuna/archive1), and put people off nominating (although most of the points raised at FAC are quite trivial and easily fixed, it looks intimidating; it's understandable that the proud author of a new article would be put off by the prospect of a dozen people nitpicking every inconsistency).
Plus, of course, there's the small handful of people who get their kicks from hanging around FAC making unreasonable demands, one of whom in particular has bullied multiple people away from ever participating in FAC again. There were a lot of legitimate criticisms about the way FA used to be run—it was totally against the spirit of Wikipedia for a project to be run by a de facto dictator—but it at least meant that there was a mechanism for assholes to be shown the door so we didn't have the culture of smug "I'm determined that this will fail and will do anything I can to disrupt the nomination" obnoxiousness we sometimes see nowadays.
On top of that, there are questions about the whole purpose of article assessment nowadays. Offline Wikipedia is nowadays just a historical curiosity—"that girl in Africa who can save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around her, but only if she's empowered with the knowledge to do so" is much more likely to have access to an internet connection than she is to have access to a CD-ROM drive—so there's no real need for the kind of detailed article importance/article quality matrix on the right any more to determine which articles get berths on the Ark. As such, the only difference the FA star makes is a slight but steady increase in readership and eligibility for TFA, and the GA blob makes no difference at all. With less at stake, it's reasonable that fewer people would consider it a worthwhile use of their time engaging at GAC and FAC.
As I've said many times, IMO the whole setup needs a complete rethink, and we should seriously consider scrapping the importance scale altogether and replacing the ridiculously unintuitive S–S–C–B–G–A–F quality scale with "inadequate–adequate–excellent". Assuming that's not going to happen, the best things you can do to revive FAC participation would be:
  1. Write detailed, honest and up-to-date "what to expect" guides for both participants and nominators. (The FCDW articles are a decade out of date, and the culture there has changed significantly.) A lot of Wikipedians aren't from academic backgrounds and have never experienced something like a viva or a thesis defense in real life. If you're not used to it, it must be very disconcerting to have received nothing but positive feedback for your pet article through all the stages of its writing, but then—when you've finally got it to what you consider its best—be confronted by a bunch of strangers rattling off long lists of obtuse questions about minor technical details;
  2. Get consensus for the delegates to clerk FAC much more aggressively, in particular moving off-topic and tangential discussions to the talkpage. If the first thing somebody looking at FAC for the first time sees is long arguments about the precise interpretation of the MOS or someone throwing incoherent accusations of racism at anyone who disagrees with them, most sane people are going to be put off participating and you're setting up a feedback loop in which the only people who sign up will be those who enjoy arguing;
  3. (closely related to 2) Get consensus to give timeouts—temporary or permanent—to people who are repeatedly being obnoxious. It only takes a single "you're obviously demonstrating systemic bias by writing about a topic I haven't heard of" or "I can't believe you're so stupid you haven't read this book" to poison the well and ensure that that particular editor will never either review or nominate again, and some regulars seem to take great pride in driving off any participant they consider beneath them. The FA process, and FAC in particular, has a reputation for tolerating bullying self-important assholes for a reason;
  4. Collapse the list at WP:FAC by default. Because we've all been using the Wikipedia:Nominations viewer script for so long we've probably forgotten even installing it, we can lose sight of just how incomprehensible and off-putting the FAC page is the first time one reads it. At the time of writing—in the middle of the summer vacation in the northern hemisphere and during a global pandemic, so with even less activity than usual—WP:FAC currently runs to 132,650 words. (To put that in perspective, the whole of Sense and Sensibility runs to 126,000 words.) Any sane person is going to look at that and immediately conclude that there are better things they could be doing with their time, so we're yet again setting up a feedback loop where the only people who aren't put off participating are the kind of obsessive types we don't want participating;
  5. Be much more proactive in recruiting people. Approach people (either by hand or by bot) who've recently been active at GAN, or even at reviewing DYK, inviting them to participate. Ask the Signpost if they wouldn't mind each month's issue including a list of open FACs with a very brief synopsis ("Currently open for review are Pepi I Meryre, an Egyptian pharoah; Lips Are Movin, a song by Meghan Trainor; Limusaurus, a dinosaur…"). Possibly post a similar list periodically at various noticeboards, and maybe even mass-spam it monthly to the Wikiprojects. (Most of the projects are moribund, but a lot of people still have them watchlisted.) This might pique the curiosity of people who wouldn't necessarily see themselves as FAC types but notice that a topic in which they have an interest is up for review. If nothing else, if we regularly post the list it might dispel the myth that FAC is just a long list of hurricanes, battles and videogames;
  6. (Coupled with all the above, particularly 2 and 5) Be welcoming to new reviewers and be understanding of the fact that if someone doesn't agree with the way we currently do things it's possibly an indication that the way we currently do things is wrong. I (rightly) complain about the self-appointed professional nitpickers, but the toxicity can flow both ways. We've all seen examples of someone raising what to their eyes is a legitimate concern, and being shouted down by the nominator and their friends. Particularly if we're actively trying to recruit new participants, we need to be much more patient at explaining "no, here's why we do it this way" instead of just barking variants of "go read the MOS". We also need to be open to the possibility that the MOS isn't some kind of sacred text and that people refusing to follow some part or other of it may actually have a point.
I doubt Echo had anything to do with the decline in FAC activity. Echo hasn't affected who watchlists whom, it just provides a backup mechanism for notifying people that they've been mentioned on pages they're not necesarily watching; you still have 639 watchers. (The proportion of watchers of any given page who are actually active always declines over time, since some of those watchers are going to be blocked, retired or deceased.) The decline is much more going to be an artefact of the general drop in Wikipedia participation between 2007–2014, of the loss of a few feverishly active people like Geometry Guy, Malleus and even Mattisse who skewed the activity figures, of the increasingly vocal strict-compliance-to-the-MOS faction making the whole process increasingly unpleasant, and of a new generation of Wikipedia editors who see the new WP:WIAFA as an almost impossibly strict set of criteria (which it is; I don't believe a single FA actually complies with it, and FAC is all about persuading people to turn a blind eye to non-compliance) and to whom creating five adequate articles is a better use of time than attempting to create a single perfect article which will likely be rejected in the FAC crapshoot regardless. ‑ Iridescent 06:39, 20 August 2020 (UTC)
I couldn't agree more with that last sentence if I tried. I've always wondered if I'm just not cut out to be an A-grade writer on here, and have to settle for B/C-grade "enthusiastic amateur" instead, but seeing stuff like this makes me realise I shouldn't beat myself up about it so much. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 19:36, 23 August 2020 (UTC)
(I hold my hands up: a long post about writing quality really shouldn't end with a 132-word sentence, particularly when that post is a reply to SandyGeorgia, scourge of the run-on sentence…) People (not just at FAC but in general) get too hung up on stylistic issues. As far as I'm concerned the current WP:Featured article criteria is the political manifesto of a tiny clique of people who wander around criticising other people's writing rather than writing anything themselves, not an actual set of instructions to be taken seriously (unless someone wants to claim that Immune system, Sea, Association football or India are really "a thorough survey of the relevant literature"). Provided the article is a balanced summary, sourced, and passes both the "would a bright 14-year old with no prior knowledge of the topic understand this?" and the "would a bright 14-year old with no prior knowledge of the topic be bored by this?" tests, the article should be considered high quality, and the people who care about en-dashes and number formats can do their thing afterwards. Something like Ceilings of the Natural History Museum breaches the Manual of Style in about 50 different ways; all you need to do is either be prepared to explain why you've done so if you've done so deliberately, or be prepared not to object when other people tinker with it if it was an oversight. Being accurate and being interesting (or at least as interesting as you can make some of the duller topics) is by far the most important thing—there's no point slaving for a month over something that complies with every rule, but which is so boring nobody will ever read more than the first paragraph. It's very out of date, but I highly recommend Giano's essay as still the only "how to write" essay on Wikipedia that isn't total drivel. ‑ Iridescent 21:14, 23 August 2020 (UTC)
Okay, well as a practical example, consider Talk:Machine Head (album)/GA1, which I'm basically contemplating closing as "failed" on the grounds of "I'm not wading through that lot, particularly when half of it contradicts what I know about copyediting from Giano, Tony1 and others" and the other half is basically a list of stuff covered in Wikipedia:What the Good article criteria are not. I've had Giano's essay linked on my userpage for years; it's an essential read. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 11:59, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
Lord. My standard for GAs is that they should have at least the quality of a B+ 8th Grade book report. I haven’t read through all that, but there’s no way in hell all that feedback is justified over a GAN. TonyBallioni (talk) 12:17, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
As the commmunity changes any project that fails to recruit from among the newer editors is bound to decline, even while the community as a whole is broadly stable. As with any project that could use new blood, I would suggest writing a signpost article on the FAC process, and emphasise the bits you find useful. Maybe even give some examples of FAC feedback prompted improvements - either by dealing with omissions or getting things rephrased for a general audience. In this era of Zoom meetings it might be useful to host a Zoom session where people review some FA candidates. Or to occasionally ask for reviews from long inactive FA writers and reviewers who are still editing. I have done quite a few FA reviews in my time, and though my attitude to MOS is similar's to Giano's, I'm never really sure whether I'm perceived as a net negative or a net positive there. I think my queries are generally well receieved, but I know to avoid reviewing articles by one editor who doesn't want reviews by people who haven't yet written an FA. More feedback to reviewers might help the process get more and better reviews. ϢereSpielChequers 11:17, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
I participate in GAN reviews far more than FAC, chiefly because it's easier, and I can throw about 95% of the MOS out of the window and just concentrate on the essentials described by Iridescent above. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 12:04, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
I have never done a Good Article Review, but my understanding of that process is that you are supposed to cover the entire criteria. For FAC you can do just the criteria you choose to do, so I prefer FAC because I can choose to cover the aspects of FA criteria that interest me re that article, and leave others to do things such as MOS compliance. ϢereSpielChequers 16:55, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
Yes, but it's to some extent cancelled out by the fact that there's very little in the actual GA criteria (as opposed to the made up rules some reviewers try to enforce) that's very complicated—the GA criteria are intentionally simple, and boil down to "is this article following the fundamental basics with which every Wikipedia editor ought reasonably be expected to be familiar, and which every Wikipedia article is theoretically supposed to be following anyway?". At FAC there are more specialist things like source review and paraphrasing analysis which genuinely are best left to people experienced in that particular niche area. My main objections to the GA process are the inconsistency (the single-reviewer model makes log-rolling much easier, and there's no GA equivalent to the FA Delegates to whom one can appeal for final rulings if you think a reviewer's being inappropriate), and the general meaninglessness of GA status. ‑ Iridescent 19:05, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
OK chalk me up as someone who has yet to submit a second article to the GA process after my first experience, over a decade ago. ϢereSpielChequers 14:56, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
I think everyone has a similar story, along the lines of "the GA reviewer made so many stupid demands, I pulled the nomination and instead nominated it direct at FA where it passed without any alteration". Because GA reviewers operate alone, there's far more scope for them to make stupid comments than there is at FAC where other people will see it and point out that they're being unreasonable. (It cuts both ways; the GA process also gives more scope for a nominator to throw a "how dare you not pass this!" temper tantrum than does FAC. I've certainly seen my share of nominators acting like a dick at GAN to an extent that would have a delegate quickfailing them for disruption at FAC. There's a decent chance that in the past I've been acting like a dick at GAN to an extent that would have a delegate quickfailing me for disruption at FAC.) What I'm saying is that when the reviewer actually understands the criteria instead of reviewing on the basis of "does this conform to my personal opinions?", the GA process can be useful.
If I were in charge then (assuming we kept the B-class/A-class/GA/FA distinction, which if I were actually in charge would definitely not be a given) I'd replace FAC and GAN with a unified "requests for assessment" and have the same group of reviewers dish out both GA and FA status. I think that would boost participation in both processes, and have the added benefits of demystifying the FA process and reducing the scope for abuse at the GA process. I doubt it will ever happen as it would be a major cultural change, and if there's one thing Wikipedia hates it's cultural change. ‑ Iridescent 04:50, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
I thought you were in charge. I agree with merging the processes and teams, but I think there would be a benefit to keeping both GA and FA grades, though with a bit more clarity as to the difference between them. Perhaps, and I know this would be contentious, adding a minimum number of sources, or length to FA. Having a three outcome process GA, FA or neither should in theory be less abrasive, "I grade it as this level" rather than "fail", and it should result in people getting clear advice as to how far their GA was from FA standard. ϢereSpielChequers 12:00, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
Originally the MOS was created to prevent edit wars over style -- such as the infamous one over AD/BC vs. CE/BCE. In the times I've reviewed articles for GA, I've always focused on the question "Does this article cover the subject adequately & reasonably explains it?" As for style, as long as things like footnotes, spelling, dates etc. are consistent, I'll fix the occasional errors (instead of flagging them to be fixed) & ignore the larger issues. If a given article has serious style/spelling/grammar problems that can't be ignored, or the submitter adheres to some bizarre style I've never seen before, my inclination is to have the person take it to the Proofreaders' Guild for help before I do any further work. (More importantly, I only take on articles for GA review that I believe have a reasonable chance of passing, so I have yet to encounter any bizarre style issues. I don't like rejection & I suspect neither do most people, so I'll leave that chore to someone else.) -- llywrch (talk) 18:14, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
This rant against GOCE/LOCE was over three years ago, but my opinion of it hasn't changed and nor I suspect have many others. It has a legitimate role in "I'm new to Wikipedia and I've just written a page about my favourite band, can someone look over it and show me how to format it" and "I'm not fluent in English but I've just translated a page from another language, can a native speaker check my grammar" situations. By the time you get to GA/FA level, "toxic" is an overused word on Wikipedia but sometimes it's the word that best fits and this is one of those times. While there are some fine and decent people among their ranks, most of the ones who take it upon themselves to "improve the prose style" of articles on topics they don't have a strong understanding of give the general impression of being the kind of pettifogging drones who think they're performing a public service by uploading photos of their local bus shelters to Google Maps. ‑ Iridescent 19:05, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
Nevertheless, if an article submitted to GA is so poorly written that I think it needs help with the writing, that's a big warning sign that the content in the article is not going to pass. (And if I think it's not going to pass, I'm not going to put in the effort to ask my public library to find copies of the cited sources to verify facts.) Either you know how to use the English language before you submit anything to GA or FA, or don't bother submitting. -- llywrch (talk) 23:38, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
Which is why GA has the quickfail process, to allow any editor to boot any given nomination out of the review queue without further discussion if it's obviously not going to pass in its current state. (The quickfail clause was in the original version of Wikipedia:Reviewing good articles back in the days of yore when giants stalked the earth, and its current wording was formalized in this RFC; it's not some recent afterthought that reviewers and nominators aren't aware of.) That reviewers tend to ignore the standards and processes and review on the basis of "is this a topic I find interesting?" and "do I like the nominator?", doesn't mean the standards and processes aren't there. ‑ Iridescent 09:56, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
Iri, I got so swamped with both a series of minor IRL irritations, and pressing Wikipedia work, that I have not been able to return here; I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel, and after finishing up a few things, may be able to get back here in a few days. I forgot how busy Fall becomes for me IRL ... Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:46, 9 September 2020 (UTC)
No rush at all – as you can probably tell from my contribution history, IRL irritations have taken up my time since roughly May. I try to pop my head in every few days to answer questions on this talkpage, but I'm not even pretending to check my watchlist any more, let alone get involved with anything substantive unless someone specifically askes me to comment on something. (I'm keeping a weather eye on the blossoming UCOC public and community relations disaster, but that's mainly because I don't want to have to play catchup later regarding something that's potentially going to be the first genuine existential threat to Wikipedia since 2002, rather than my having any particular desire to get involved.) ‑ Iridescent 19:38, 11 September 2020 (UTC)
I've been vaguely following the ideas above that are meant to reinvigorate – if you will – FAC. As an additional idea, I've been doing a lot of source reviews at FLC and hope to gradually start doing more in FAC (although FAC source reviews seem to usually take longer than FLC ones) any thoughts about having a marker of some kind next to each nomination to show if it has received a source/image review yet? (I suppose maybe this could be extended to having a marker that shows where it stands with supports and opposes, but that may be more problematic since not every support involves a thorough read through or following comments) Aza24 (talk) 23:35, 12 September 2020 (UTC)
For image reviews it might make sense, although the existing list of nominations needing image reviews seems to work. In some ways we don't really want to encourage people to perform image reviews, as it's a specialist skill that's more difficult than it seems—the fact that the limited number of people who are good at it tend to wait until it looks likely that a nomination will pass, rather than waste time reviewing something that's going to fail anyway, is a feature not a bug.
Source reviews are a slightly different matter, since sourcing is one of those areas in which all Wikipedia editors genuinely aren't equal. Most FAs form part of a series by the same author or group of authors; if someone has successfully got United States one-dollar bill, United States two-dollar bill and United States five-dollar bill through FAC, then when the same editor(s) submits United States ten-dollar bill using the same sources, it's a pointless rubber-stamp exercise conducting a full source review. Yes, it's one of those things that can make FAC look like a cosy club of insiders rubber-stamping each other's work when you come across something like Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/The Triumph of Cleopatra/archive1 where something has passed without source review, but reviewers are so short on the ground that it's not good for anyone if they waste their time reviewing something they know is going to be compliant. SandyGeorgia is better placed than me to comment as she's been the one to actually make the decisions, but to me the fact that the delegates know who can be trusted not to misquote, fabricate or take things out of context and have the leeway to make that call is one of the reasons the FA process is so much more resilient than GA.
(Needless to say, this is yet another of the many areas of all the major projects that will descend into chaos if the WMF ever manage to impose their proposed ban on "treating editors differently based on accomplishments, skills or standing in the Wikimedia-projects or movement" on the projects. We won't even be the worst-hit project if this nonsense is passed, since we at least both have some resilience in our community structures, and have the numbers and prestige to win a battle of wills with the WMF if they're stupid enough to try to impose an unworkable policy by fiat. Can you imagine the Shit Bucket Challenge the admins on Commons will have to go through if T&S bans them from deeming certain people as 'trusted' and consequently every single upload needs to be scrutinized as if it had come from a brand new account? To put things in perspective, I'm by no means particularly active at Commons, and at the time of writing I've uploaded 40,898 images there.) ‑ Iridescent 17:37, 16 September 2020 (UTC)
Adding a timestamp so you don't archive ... because ... I will get back to this, I will I will <she says again>. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:46, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

ease-of-editing break (1)Edit

Alright, where was I?
First, WAID did weigh in on the methodology used in that chart, and it was as I suspected, and not me "at the center of the universe because your name appeared on every failed FA nomination as the closer, so every who ever commented on an FAC is counted as having "interacted" with you". It measured the sum of "I post to your talk and you also post to mine", so yes, was an indication that we all used to talk more to each other, rather than my name appearing on archived FACs. That was my sense since my talk page back then was the second busiest after Jimbo's, while Jimbo's talk was not two-way (he didn't go to other editors' talk pages as well). We had a community, we talked to each other, we knew each other. That is gone. Now we ping each other. Very impersonal. So I continue to believe this side effect of the ECHO system is contributing to alienation and increasing depersonalization on Wikipedia.
I've spent more time lately (after mostly an eight-year absence) to try to re-engage and understand the current dynamic at FAC (most of which baffles me), in relation to your suggestion that the assessment scheme needs a complete re-do. Besides that being the sort of thing that is very difficult to accomplish on change-resistant Wikipedia, I am not yet sure if I agree or if it would be beneficial. I do agree that the brokenness at FAC is in bad need of fixing. Seeing how FAC is stagnating has me at least curious. We don't seem to have any alternative, but I can't (usually or easily) distinguish between most GAs and A-, B- or C-class (depending of course, as always, on who passed the GA).
I can't agree with much of this: Plus, of course, there's the small handful of people who get their kicks from hanging around FAC making unreasonable demands, one of whom in particular has bullied multiple people away from ever participating in FAC again. There were a lot of legitimate criticisms about the way FA used to be run—it was totally against the spirit of Wikipedia for a project to be run by a de facto dictator—but it at least meant that there was a mechanism for assholes to be shown the door so we didn't have the culture of smug "I'm determined that this will fail and will do anything I can to disrupt the nomination" obnoxiousness we sometimes see nowadays. I think we disagree about which were the bullies in that scenario. And I'm suspect of anyone who tries to run off reviewers (particularly as they themselves are pushing the deficient noms of their buddies up the grease pole), because a) Coords can ignore faulty reviews, and b) without strong reviewers, the star has no meaning. And I would need to see some examples of how you considered that Raul's behavior was "dictatorial" or that he was ever successful in seeing the congenital assholes being shown the door. My experience with Raul was that he NEVER told me what to do or how to do it or engaged in anything inappropriate backchannel or unduly exercised authority in any way; he let the Wikipedia work like a Wiki. And you know how things ended when we both tried to deal with not one, but three, sockmasters attacking FAC. (We were beaten down by a later discredited arb.) So what behaviors did you find "dictatorial"? I'll catch up on the rest of the long discussion in a bit ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:29, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
There are nominators who unfairly lash out at reviewers, but there are undoubtedly reviewers who approach a given FAC with the clear intention of being obnoxious as possible. I'm reluctant to give specific examples since it unfairly personalizes things (plus, three of the people who were regular involved in this kind of incident have left Wikipedia and can't give their sides of the story), but "I'm going to be as annoying as possible in the hope either that the nominator withdraws it in frustration, or that the nominator loses their temper and gets themselves blocked forcing the nomination to be closed" has been a reasonably regular tactic—for all kinds of debates, not just FAC—ever since Mattisse added it to the Wikipedia playbook. ‑ Iridescent 20:05, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
And what Raul and I did in those situations was to use the restart button. All of the hostility went to a diff, the nom was restarted, and moved to the top of page. It worked, not only to get the FAC focused, but to send a message to Stop This Shit. Current Coords won't do that. Beats me. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:15, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
Get consensus for the delegates to clerk FAC much more aggressively, in particular moving off-topic and tangential discussions to the talkpage. I don't know why they think they need consensus for this; it's their job. I am at a loss for why it's not being done, as we used to. I suspect it's because they are all exhausted and just don't have the stomach for it, or because that same group of bullies would have had their heads if they dared interfere with their TFA machine. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:22, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
I don't feel inclined to wade through the archive looking for the discussion, but I know that a few years ago there was a "how strictly should the delegates clerk?" discussion (I can't remember if it was a formal RFC or not). The delegates can't be blamed for not clerking if they've been told that there's a consensus they shouldn't clerk and should restrict themselves to promoting/archiving. ‑ Iridescent 20:05, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
I take your word for it, and don't doubt it. But I bet those same bullies were behind it. Regardless, what is missing here is Raul's leadership. If the Coords were in fact constrained as you say, there is no leader now who can step in and say, "this isn't working", we need a fresh look, we need to consider doing A, B or C ... there is no one who takes initiative (and after only a month of asking questions, they are already tiring of me ... so if the FA process dies, at least I tried). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:17, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
Because we've all been using the Wikipedia:Nominations viewer script for so long we've probably forgotten even installing it, we can lose sight of just how incomprehensible and off-putting the FAC page I have never used the nomination viewer, have no idea how to use it, always read the ENTIRE FAC page top-to-bottom, every day (unless I was traveling), and still do it that way. I don't know how a Coord can have the big picture if they don't do it that way. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:24, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
I suspect that among the regulars there, you're in a small minority; Nominations Viewer is one of Wikipedia's most frequently used scripts. I find it absolutely invaluable both in allowing me to skip over topics on which I know I have nothing useful to say without having to scroll, and for giving an at-a-glance summary of the level of participation in each nomination and on which way the wind is blowing (if I see something has no supports and six opposes, I know it's unlikely to be worth my while reading on).
The problem with Flow was that it was hideous and inflexible, but the basic principle that Wikipedia's long discussion pages—be they user talk pages, FAC or the drama boards—are horribly off-putting to a generation raised on lazy-loading websites where one only sees the most relevant content unless one specifically chooses to see more, is thoroughly sound. I stand by my point that to people viewing WP:FAC in its natural state, the page looks horribly daunting. For someone coming in from the relatively calm environment of GAN, as I assume most of the prospective new FAC nominators and reviewers are, being confronted with the mess that is the FAC page (126,069 words / 741 kb of text—or a little more than the whole of Atonement, if you prefer—at the time of writing) I wouldn't blame any of them for deciding they have better things to do than try to make sense of it. ‑ Iridescent 20:05, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
I can't see it as you see it because I have never installed that thingie, but you are probably right from a reviewer point of view. From a Coord/Delegate point of view, I still can't see how one can keep up with overall trends without reading the whole page, top-to-bottom, as I did. I only watchlisted those that were likely to end up in hot water, because I didn't need to watchlist. I processed the entire page almost every single day. And, when people needed to withdraw, or needed urgent attention, I sure wasn't getting bombarded by those Gosh Darned Pingie Thingies-- they came to my talk page, where a ton of TPS helped with routine answers. If the Coords are feeling overburdened now (and they sure do seem to be, even though the volume they are processing is considerably less than I processed), I am again blaming the ECHO system, because they are probably being pinged right and left, rather than having TPS help them deal with routine stuff as I did. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:22, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
(Sorry, got distracted by the trainwreck below and only just noticed this.) I think that gadget is fantastic from a reviewing point of view—it allows me to skim past discussions about things like the bird articles where I know I'll have nothing useful to add, or where I've put the individual discussion on my watchlist so I don't need to see it on the parent page as well. FAC is one of the few cases where the unlamented WP:FLOW harebrained idea would potentially have actually been useful.
That page is unmanageably large and I firmly believe its length and complexity scares off potential participants. The decline in participation has counter-intuitively made the situation worse, not better. Fewer participants may mean fewer nominations, but it also means fewer reviewers; what discussions there are hang around for weeks and steadily get wordier and wordier as people argue but there's insufficient participation to get a consensus either to promote or archive. (As of today, the FAC page comes to 685kb and 115,000 words. The FAC page at the height of the Golden Age may have had twice as many open nominations, but it only came in at 100kb / 18,500 words.) ‑ Iridescent 22:03, 4 November 2020 (UTC)

School A7sEdit

Hi, can you explain to me what is the story with RFA candidates being asked or going out of their way to demonstrate that they know that schools can't be A7'd? It's like an RFA shibboleth. What is that about? Why is it so important that admins know that schools can't be A7'd? Why schools? Lev!vich 05:23, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

Well it certainly makes more sense than an "Admin readiness score" which checks whether you have been editing at least 80 days and have made at least 80 edits, and credits you for pages created that have since been deleted. EEng 05:30, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
How can there possibly be anything wrong with that tool, EEng? It is labeled "Powered by Wikimedia Cloud Services". Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:45, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I score 1203 out of 1300, for what that's worth. Regarding the "at least 80 days and have made at least 80 edits" part, remember this tool is primarily intended for use on small wikis—on a big project like en-wikipedia, the nominator is hopefully already going to know the candidate. Not every project has such high activity levels as we do.
I actually think that "pages created that have since been deleted" is a useful metric. Right back to my earliest time here I've always been sceptical of any prospective admin who hasn't had something on which they've worked deleted, or at least nominated for deletion. Putting significant amounts of time and effort—and sometimes actual money—into something, only to have some drive-by editor declare it "non-notable", is arguably the most dispiriting experience one can have on Wikipedia. Being able to demonstrate that one can empathize with those in this situation and will make allowances for the fact that someone who's just had their month's-worth of work summarily deleted might be in a bad temper, instead of primly plastering "you're not being civil" templates, is IMO an important qualification for adminship. ‑ Iridescent 06:09, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
You've got points for having a userpage, that's cheating and needs to be deducted. Or copy-paste 1KB of something from somewhere and brag about the perfect score, whichever you prefer. Usedtobecool ☎️ 14:20, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
 Done; I am now officially perfect. ‑ Iridescent 15:25, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Yet another user gaming the system to increase their chances of becoming an admin... Lev!vich 15:30, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I don't talk to lowly 874s. ‑ Iridescent 15:38, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I'm not a fan of "gotcha" tests at RFA, but this seems like a reasonable one. While nobody can be expected to remember everything, it's reasonable to expect any prospective admin to have read the blocking, protection and deletion policies.
Regarding "why schools?", the original RFC is here; the TL;DR summary is "not all schools are notable in Wikipedia terms but a large enough proportion of them are, that it's reasonable to assume that no deletion is ever going to be wholly uncontroversial". (It's similar to the argument I've used previously regarding railway stations. Schools are significant enough institutions within their communities that it's reasonable to operate on the presumption that any given school is going to have been the topic of repeated media coverage—if nothing else, the "council gets approval for new school" and "new school opens" articles in the local paper. Consequently the burden of proof is reversed from its usual Wikipedia position, and it's down to those who want it deleted to demonstrate that it's not notable in Wikipedia terms; that in turn means that the deletion is never going to be a page with no practical chance of surviving discussion, the only circumstance in which speedy deletion can be applied.) ‑ Iridescent 05:52, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Goody, another fun test "This tool was originally developed by ScottyWong for use on the English Wikipedia" in fact. I only got 919 - 9 100s, & only 19 for the other 3. At least no zeros. Btw, I think the "pages created that have since been deleted" may include those just renamed or merged - I scored 120+ & I can't believe I've had that many actually deleted. Johnbod (talk) 15:12, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I can't work out what it's counting—looking at your page creation log, I can only see one redlink in the entire history. (If they're counting anything other than actual articles it's a fairly pointless metric; most users who've been around any length of time will have racked up dozens of temporary userspace sandboxes and so forth.) ‑ Iridescent 16:57, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, yes - 30 January 2020 Johnbod talk contribs created page Category:Narashima temples - a typo! Johnbod (talk) 20:35, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
You need 72 deleted pages to score the maximum; an editor who'd had that many actual articles deleted would likely not be admin material. So, it is indeed counting all pages. It's not trying to count the U1's and G7's, I don't think. I think moving pages over redirects is one way to "delete" perfectly good pages. What else? Adding talk pages to articles that are later deleted? Or maybe it is indeed counting G7s and U1s with the rationale that a user will have done plenty of experience-gaining in the time it takes to rack up that many of those. Usedtobecool ☎️ 17:34, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Having yourself renamed would be the quickest way to achieve a high score; every page in your userspace and every talk archive would immediately become a deleted page as far as the database is concerned. ‑ Iridescent 17:37, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Slightly oddly, I only score 1,133. I lose 100 for not having a User page, despite, er ... having a User page. I presume my "Deleted Page" 100 score is due to the fact I often create articles in userspace and then move them to article space with no redirect, leaving them as deleted articles. Black Kite (talk) 18:59, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Even more slightly oddly, part of the score is "Blocks administered", meaning how many people you've blocked – a kind of Catch-22 providing built-in proof that those already admins qualify to be admins, and those not already admins should stay where they are. EEng 19:20, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
So it's like that proposed WMF trustee rubric. Lev!vich 19:22, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
Back on the schools question: It's important to remember that when we're talking about "schools", the school-notability promoters are specifically thinking of fairly large, reasonably modern, and formally constituted school organizations, exactly of the sort for which 'the "council gets approval for new school" and "new school opens" articles in the local paper' is a reasonable expectation. They aren't thinking about anything in the homeschool/dame school/religious school line, in which a willing teacher collects a few kids from the village and teaches them reading, deportment, or how to be a priest. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:58, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
Oh, definitely; by "school" I'm talking about actual regulated-by-the-local-education-authorities schools, not a handful of kids being homeschooled in a shack, or a bible study class. The same is the case with my go-to railway station example, in which by "railway station" I mean a building (or at least a structure) at which trains regularly call to pick up and set down passengers, not a flag stop in rural Nebraska 100 miles from the nearest town at which in the 1890s a passing train stopped once a week to drop off coal for the local farmers, or the nominal "stations" in rural Canada which literally have no infrastructure at all but at which the trains will stop on request. ‑ Iridescent 18:45, 11 November 2020 (UTC)

I've had an article nominated for deletion, and I've also been nominated for deletion myself—I'm sure not if the latter earns me extra points or not. Newyorkbrad (talk) 18:14, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

If there is a competition, I had indeed an article about myself AfDed, an article which I have created AfDed, and another one nominated for speedy deletion (the first two before I passed RfA, the last one when I was already admin). All three survived. Possibly there were more of my articles AfDed (and survived), but I do not remember the numbers.--Ymblanter (talk) 18:55, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
I've had the dubious distinction of having two articles I had a hand in getting through DYK get deleted at AfD a significant time later, leading to the unusual situation of having a successfully closed DYK template with a redlink. (The former has since been restored) Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 20:24, 20 October 2020 (UTC)


FYI: just in case you missed it. The poster obviously didn't read to the bottom of my last post. They do thinnk the're a law unto themselves, don't they? Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:33, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

@Kudpung: I have the utmost respect for you and I'm sorry that I have apparently lost yours. I wasn't aware that you have ever asked me not to post on your talk page, but if that's what you want please let me know and I won't do so.
That said, personal attacks and casting aspersions are prohibited across all Wikipedia discussion pages, and I'm not going to stop pointing them out if and where I see them. I don't think that means I'm acting as a "law unto myself", rather as any responsible member of this community would. – Joe ("the poster") (talk) 09:40, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Joe Roe , replied on your TP. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 10:01, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
I assume this little contretemps means I'll have the pleasure of a gaggle of {{user wikipedia/Administrator someday}} types following me around for the next couple of months trying to find a pretext to complain about me, in the mistaken belief that it will somehow curry favor with The Cabal.
I saw your comment elsewhere about what you meant by "police state", and can't wholly disagree with it. Per my comment on your talk page that lit this particular touchpaper, I do think the current Arbcom is a lot less arbitrary than its predecessors. That said, there's a definite trend both from Arbcom and from the WMF towards the attitude of "if the management and the community disagree, the management should dissolve the community and appoint a new one". (It was a joke of Kelly Martin's back around the Dawn of Time, that Wikipedia disputes were resolved by finding a pretext to block whoever was making the most noise, and repeating the process until the problem went away. In light of some recent decisions, one sometimes gets the impression that this has now become an actual process.) ‑ Iridescent 15:30, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
the purpose of arbcom is not to mete out punishment and rewards, but to solve problems that are disrupting Wikipedia. Most disputes that now reach it are either intractable subject disputes in which it ought not be deciding which side is right, or protracted interpersonal disputes, in which both parties share responsibility. Trying to assign blame is in either case not really helpful; the job is to find a practical way of going forward. DGG ( talk ) 03:16, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

Personal attacks on Kudpung's talk pageEdit

Since Kudpung doesn't want me to reply inline, I'm reposting this comment from User talk:Kudpung#Fourteenth Anniversary on Wikipedia! here:

Please consider revising your second paragraph here. While casting aspersions on our "quality" as individuals might just dodge being a personal attack by being vague about who it refers to, directly accusing Bradv of serious tool misuse—without a shred of evidence or even the courtesy of a ping—blatantly is one. Unless you mean to contribute to the "bombardment of on- and off-wiki abuse" towards arbitrators which you apparently disapprove of, there must be a more civil way to express your opinion of us.

– Joe (talk) 09:34, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

It's got nothing to with posting inline. Don't blatantly distort the facts Joe Roe. I won't allow my talk page to be exploited as a personal battleground, least of all by an Arbitrator. Perhaps you should have read everything else on that page. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 09:44, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
"Reply inline" as in that's where I originally put it, and at your request I've copied it here. – Joe (talk) 09:47, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Iridescent, please retract this outrageous allegation. You know it's not true. – bradv🍁 13:00, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Joe Roe makes a false statement, Bradv makes the same false statement, Bradv retracts it (without any kind of apology, natch), Joe Roe retracts it (without any kind of apology, natch). You know and I know that while checkuser can give false negatives if someone is running multiple browsers on a dynamic IP address or multiple VPNs, it can't give a false positive except in exceptional cases when two people are sharing the same device (or at least two identically-configured devices) on the same network. Thus, the only possibilities I can see here are:
  1. two sitting arbs knowingly lied to try to manufacture a pretext to put the boot into a blocked editor who'd previously been critical of arbcom;
  2. two sitting arbs were unable to read a checkuser result correctly and rather than ask someone else to confirm the result for them, picked up an incorrect conclusion that suited their particular purposes and ran with it;
  3. the initial allegation was actually true and it's the retraction which was the error, which knowing the editor in question I don't believe for an instant.
Thus, as far as I can see either the two of you were intentionally making false claims, or you both independently made the same serious error. (The edits in question are still within the checkuser time window; if you think I'm being unfair I can always ask an independent CU to run the same check and see if the results are actually easily misread.) Luckily the editor in question here was pseudonymous; if made against an named or identifiable individual, such an allegation in these circumstances is the kind of thing that could lose someone their job or open the WMF to a libel action. Unless there's a (d.) here which I've missed—always possible, I didn't follow this case in real time so may have missed something, and am no longer on the functionary mailing list and obviously no longer on arbcom-l so am not aware of any secret evidence that was discussed under the rose—I'm not entirely clear what the pair of you are asking me to apologise for here. ‑ Iridescent 15:10, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Sure, don't let facts, or even AGF, get in the way of a good story. Unfortunately there are a few plot holes though: 1) people do make mistakes, and 2) ArbCom doesn't need to fabricate evidence against anyone – there is more than enough misbehaviour to go around. – bradv🍁 16:59, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
But Arbcom does fabricate evidence - or at least gladly distorts what they have in order to wield their power to the extreme of sanctions they can impose. And yes, there is certainly enough misbehaviour to go around - and within Arbcom's own ranks. The Arbs need to lay off on their pursuit of admins to intimidate and desysop, the peanut gallery is good enough at that without the help of the Committee. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 17:58, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Iri, here's an option d. Two sitting arbs didn't look at CU data before claiming Cass was socking, and just got taken in by a joe job. I admit to not following that case closely, so maybe I missed it, but where do they say Cass was caught by a CU editing as an IP? For one thing, I don't think they could say that out loud, because CU's don't link users to IPs. For another, it isn't in the diffs above.
One could criticize them for allowing themselves to be fooled (I'm not a CU, but I have been suckered into believing a joe job before. so I won't be making that argument, but technically one could). One could criticize them for not apologizing to Cass (I agree that would have been better, and is criticisable (sp?) ). But "fabricating CU evidence" seems unsupported by the facts, and comes off as way, way, way worse than "makes a false statement", which is itself worse than "makes a mistake". Speaking of something that might be better retracted and apologized for.... --Floquenbeam (talk) 21:03, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

No, the ArbCom does not "fabricate evidence." I've never seen any arbitrator, present or past, do anything that could fairly be described in that fashion, in all my years on the Committee. I've certainly seen some mistakes made, and I've certainly seen some decisions made that I disagree with, and I'm certainly not endorsing every word that any arbitrator ever wrote or every outcome on every issue. But at no time have I perceived any arbitration case decided or ArbCom action taken based on anything other than what the arbitrators perceived as the best interests of the project—meaning the encyclopedia and the community that creates and sustains it. The suggestion that arbitrators would deliberately accuse an editor of socking, with the actual knowledge that the editor hadn't socked at all, is a deeply unfair and misplaced one. Newyorkbrad (talk) 18:11, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

All the same, it's hardly surprising someone coming on here saying "please retract this outrageous allegation" (instead of, say, "I appreciate your concerns, but I need to point out some issues why I disagree") gets short shrift, is it? Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 20:45, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

Replies to the aboveEdit

@Floquenbeam, you're possibly on the right track, although I dismissed option d. (an intentional joe job) as unlikely. Wikimedia certainly has a long tradition of impersonators trying to get other people in trouble, but in this case we're talking about someone who had already retired. I find it hard to imagine even the craziest of the cranks impersonating someone in an effort to get them unvanished.

(The exact words Cass was caught by a CU editing as an IP don't appear, but you do have two checkusers respectively saying Cassianto has also now returned to editing as an IP and they have both been caught editing logged out. Any reasonable observer is going to conclude that these statements are based on some kind of evidence. We're talking someone with 37,000 edits over a 10-year period who's the author of 24 featured articles, not a drive-by 'poop' vandal; if two arbs independently made a serious claim like sockpuppetry without performing every reasonable check to see if there was any actual evidence, that's a serious issue in itself right there and a sign that we're potentially regressing to the days when people were disappeared for "editing in a similar way".)

@NYB, maybe "fabricating" is going too far, but look me in the eye and tell me the committee has no history of members cherry-picking evidence or of accepting at face value without checking, when it comes to allegations that suit that member's preferred outcome. Without knowing what the IP edit was which Joe Roe and Bradv believed to be Cassianto, it's hard to say for sure, but assuming Floq's hypothesis of a deliberate impersonation is unlikely, it appears that you either have (assuming bad faith) two arbcom members colluding to push a false claim, (assuming somewhat bad faith) one arbcom member making a mistake and the other realizing the error but backing them up nonetheless to avoid embarrassment, or (assuming good faith) a competence issue in which two arbs didn't bother checking the evidence and instead just saw what they wanted to see.

@Ritchie, exactly. Had Joe said something along the lines of "I think 'fabricated' is too strong as it implies intent, would you mind rewording it?" I'd have no issue with it, but I have no time and never have had any time for people pulling this "do you know who I am?" shit except in the limited circumstances when it's genuinely justifiable like relevant experience or a particular technical skill. Jumping straight in with "Peon, how dare you speak ill of your masters" is never going to be taken seriously, whoever it's addressed to and whatever the circumstances.

I know this all sounds bitchy but I genuinely am struggling to understand how this could happen; this whole episode is very peculiar. In this case it was spotted because Cass was a fairly well known editor, of whom even those most critical of him who wanted him banned generally knew him well enough to know that socking would be totally out of character. Most editors in this situation don't have the luxuries of being well-known enough for people to recognize the potential error, of having the discussion take place on a reasonably well-visited page like WP:ARCA where people will actually see the mistake, of knowing other Wikipedia editors IRL and consequently being able to (at least indirectly) discuss the issue despite having had their password scrambled, and of being high-profile enough that it's difficult to just sweep the error under the carpet. If this kind of mistake can be made independently by two separate Arbs (who are supposed to be among our best), how credible are all the other {{sockpuppet|confirmed}} cases, and how many editors are being incorrectly blocked for socking because an admin happened to think they looked suspicious? ‑ Iridescent 09:19, 21 October 2020 (UTC)

Iridescent, I think you're asking a little too much for someone to be accused of "being caught out fabricating evidence" to come along and say "ooh, that's a bit strong, can you reword that?". It's an accusation that hurts, and people who have been hurt lash out (and yes, I also respect that statement when cases come to the committee). I won't go in to what actually happened, because I don't think it's my place, however I do think Floq's interpretation is a lot closer to the truth. In my opinion, the statement was a mistake, and but it was not one born out of incompetence.
I'm not sure I've ranted to you, or indeed on wiki before, but I don't believe in CU. I think it's a terrible tool, which only creates game playing for people who enjoy whack-a-mole and for people who want to pop up. You will rarely find my name in the CU logs - it's not worth the time or effort. Addendum: I don't believe the committee does cherry pick, i.e. ignore or even suppress evidence which goes against a "preferred outcome". I will accept that a final proposed decision often does not show the nuance of the situation, but that's unsurprising given the size of cases. Instead of malice, which cherry picking implies, I would point more to the skill sets or lack thereof of arbitrators (looking at myself in particular) - I've written a few cases in my time, and there have been some shambles in there. It's not my strongest point. Does that mean I'm not useful on the committee? I hope not. WormTT(talk) 12:07, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
Or to put it another way, someone who was making personal attacks and casting aspersions has primly rocked up on my talk page to complain that personal attacks and casting aspersions are prohibited across all Wikipedia discussion pages, and I'm not going to stop pointing them out if and where I see them, doesn't appreciate having their own personal attacks and casting aspersions on Wikipedia discussion pages pointed out, and thus far by my count I'm up to four current members of the arbitration committee circling the wagons…
I suppose it depends on what one means by "cherry picking". If you mean "deliberately ignoring evidence that doesn't fit a narrative", possibly not. If you mean "whether consciously or subconsciously, exaggerating the importance of evidence that supports one's preconceived notions and skipping over evidence that doesn't support one's preconceived assumptions", it certainly happens. (Seeing as this trainwreck started with Kudpung, let's take the Kudpung case as an example; in about five seconds looking at the case page I see that this is apparently a personal attack by Kudpung so egregious it warranted enshrining in a Finding of Fact despite having been a year previously and not containing anything I can remotely interpret as any kind of attack. Multiply that by the number of people who come in front of Arbcom in some capacity or other; the "arbitrary committee" may be a tired 15-year-old joke but there's a reason the tag sticks.)
I agree that I think CU is a shitty tool whose primary purpose is to act as Wikipedia's scarecrow (tt's been ten years so I might have forgotten, but IIRC if you check my CU log then other than the obligitary test CO on myself, I only deployed it in anger once in the entire time I had access to it), but we are where we are and where we are is that it currently exists and is in use. A sweeping and unambiguous claim like they have both been caught editing logged out—as opposed to "they are both suspected of editing logged out" implies the existence of some kind of evidence. There are circumstances in which "speaks German in a similar way" is legitimate grounds for blocking, but I'm really struggling to see how that could have applied here, and per my previous comment certainly not in the context of someone with as long a history as Cassianto where there would be a shedload of behavioral evidence as to whether someone was likely to be the same person. ‑ Iridescent 15:05, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
Iridescent, you say you're struggling to understand how this happened, but it really isn't complicated. I can't show you the edit that fooled us due to the privacy policy, but from every aspect it looked like the same person as Cassianto. It turns out that the actual explanation was actually the more implausible one – another experienced editor with an interest in the same topic, who also recently disappeared, on the same IP range, edited while logged out. When I became aware of this I promptly set the record straight at ARCA, and withdrew my request to have the vanishing reversed.
Also, and I didn't realize this needed to be said, I didn't accuse anyone of socking. Editing while logged out after a courtesy vanishing isn't abuse of multiple accounts, it just means that the rename should get reversed, according to WP:RTV. That's what happened to SchroCat, who resumed editing as an IP and made no attempt to hide it. This is not a blockable offense.
So even if the mistake I made was intentional, as you continue to insist, what would this accomplish? It wouldn't have resulted in a block, a site ban, or anything other than a return to their original name. Perhaps we would have had a case about infoboxes, as I had suggested at the amendment request, but no one seemed too enthusiastic about that idea, so that was unlikely either way.
You have accused me of fabricating evidence in order to frame and dehumanize(!) them. Not only are you lacking evidence for these accusations, the alleged motives simply don't make sense. If, for some reason, you still believe in your version of the events, please refer this matter to an appropriate venue – either WP:RFAR or m:OC. But per WP:ASPERSIONS, I will repeat my request that you retract the allegations you have made against me on Kudpung's talk page. – bradv🍁 14:49, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
Here's what I'm having trouble understanding. there must be a more civil way to express your opinion of us. is inflammatory? It's qualitatively different than other suggested phrasings of the issue? Also what I don't understand: how is this worthy of the rebuke given? Two arbs, onwiki, said Cass had been socking. Then something else happened. It could have been that the socking IP posted more and so there was more evidence and suddenly it didn't seem as conclusively to be Cass. It could have been that another CU checked the evidence and suggested that the original interpretation was wrong. Maybe one of those two arbs rechecked the evidence. Maybe Cass emailed the committee denying it in a convincing manner. Maybe some combination of these things happen or maybe it was something else altogether. I don't know. It happened offwiki. But then on wiki those two arbs admitted they were wrong in an equally visible place to where they made the original statement and in a relatively timely manner. How is that the system not working the way that we want? I want arbs who retain enough humility to admit when they're wrong. I'd rather they have not been wrong in the first place, but the error doesn't strike me as an unforgivable sin given the facts as I understand them. If we set the expectation that arbs and/or CUs can't make errors, then they won't admit mistakes and that strikes me as a far worse outcome for us all. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 14:58, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
I edit conflicted with bradv's explanation above which would have made my comment shorter, but I think my essential points of confusion remain: how is the way Joe raised the issue to Iridescent initially isn't different than the ways other suggested would have been better and how are these events worthy or the rebuke being given? Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 15:01, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
  • I appreciate WTT trying to smooth things over - it's actually what he's quite good at, but his opinions and mine, after years of friendly collaboration, are fast drifting apart. I didn't think all this would escalate to this extent, that's why I made what I had hoped to be a closing remark on Joe Roe's tp instead of here. However, it has to be said, so I'll repeat: That's the danger of the suspicious mind of most Arbitrators and why they jump to conclusions and radical remedies. There are some people on that Committee I'm particularly fond of, but for the Committee as a body, I don't have a microgramme of respect - and don't try to turn that into a PA. Like many others, I think the whole ridiculous Arbcom circus should be deprecated. Problem is in knowing what it should be replaced with. Certainly not with people who examine every word of normal discussion on every Wikipedia talk to see if they can find something to complain about and belittle some of our best contributors. Your police state got rid of me, try to leave it at that - at least until you catch an admin or an Arb doing some socking or UPE, and it will come, and not for the first time.... The failures of the 'Committee' (and I'm truly, truly sorry to disagree with you NYB - 'look me in the eye and tell me the committee has no history of members cherry-picking evidence or of accepting at face value without checking, when it comes to allegations that suit that member's preferred outcome' ) are to assume they are perfect, to have no need for thoroughness, to take everything at face value, use prima facie 'evidence' for their 'Findings of Fact' without extending the accused the slightest slightest courtesy of examining the veracity of the claims of the complainers (especially when one of their own is one of them). As we have seen here, what they do is circle their waggons, admit to no error, beat their chests and tell everyone 'You don't know who I am', and resort to the incivility and PA they gleefully block, ban, and desysop others for. Yep, Ritchie is right on the money, and I concur with Barkeep49, they are the untouchables, but if they had a modicum of decency, some of them would at least start falling on their swords. So, Bradv, if Iri decides not to retract their comment on my talk page, wacha gonna do about it? Yank their bit? Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 16:52, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
    Kudpung, I have always had the utmost respect for Iridescent, and even when we had occasion to disagree I have enjoyed their thoughtful reflections. I remain hopeful that, following this discussion, Iridescent will retract this unwarranted personal attack. I'm happy to discuss ArbCom in general, its failings as an institution, and ideas on how to improve or replace it. But a fruitful discussion about those topics does not start with impugning the motives of the individual members of the committee, nor does it begin with accusing them of gross misconduct without evidence. – bradv🍁 17:32, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
I did write a longer reply, but there is very little that can be said here without falling foul of what some people would accuse of NPA. One experienced and competent person can make a mistake. Two people, who by their position and experience are considered and assumed to be able to specifically not make those mistakes, do not come to the same wrong conclusion without some external factor. Either the process is incorrect in some way that it would lead two people to independantly come to the same wrong conclusion (unlikely in the case of Checkuser, since its a publically available tool which anyone can test). Or the outcome is a result of those two people not having the assumed skill level or training for their position, those people having the required skill level but deliberately getting it wrong, or a number of other variations on that theme. Once you get past a certain level of power and authority, you dont get to hide behind 'there is no evidence!' like one of the peons, when something that is an obvious lie is presented. Hi, I'm OID and my day job is process analyst. Sadly I am not allowed to put PEBKAC on my reports any more in the current age of enlightened discourse. Only in death does duty end (talk) 00:03, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
I could be wrong but my read of that ARCA was always that bradv had done the work and Joe had used that analysis in making his own statements. I also don't understand what Once you get past a certain level of power and authority, you dont get to hide behind 'there is no evidence!' like one of the peons, when something that is an obvious lie is presented.
I return to my point of confusion. The preferred outcome would, of course, for there not to have been a mistake in the first place. But mistakes will happen even for thoughtful and careful editors. So when mistakes are made, then what? I would hope that there is community consensus behind the idea that we want arbs to admit mistakes.This kind of rhetoric is not helpful to that happening. And that makes arbs less, rather than more, accountable to the community. In this example, for instance, it's not clear to me that if Bradv hadn't admitted the mistake we'd have ever known it. And that definitely strikes me as a worse outcome than a couple of arbs getting the art, rather than the science, of checkuser wrong. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 01:17, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
Everyone makes mistakes, and it's fair to say that those admitting mistakes shouldn't be tarred and feathered as that just creates an incentive to engage in cover-ups instead of admitting fault. However, what happened here isn't as straightforward. The implicit social contract under which Arbcom functions is that on occasion Arbcom needs to operate as a black box and not disclose how decisions are made, but the flip side of that is that the decision-making process is fair and accurate. While I can't be sure exactly what happened here (I do appreciate that privacy concerns prevent going into much detail), I very strongly suspect that another experienced editor with an interest in the same topic, who also recently disappeared, on the same IP range, edited while logged out translates to "two checkusers somehow managed to be unaware that because upwards of 90% of web traffic in the UK is routed via BT Openworld the overwhelming majority of UK editors appear on the same IP range, and UK topics tend to attract UK-based editors".
As per my previous comments on the matter, this isn't some minor slip, but the kind of thing that could have genuine real-world implications (I can immediately think of at least one case of someone losing their job IRL over allegations made against their Wikipedia account despite the account not being connected to their real-life identity, and I'm sure there have been others), and at an absolute minimum there should have been prominent retractions and apologies when the error was pointed out to Arbcom. If you (plural) want a quick thought experiment, consider what the reaction would have been if it had been Trust & Safety that had done this.
If it's genuinely causing such distress to Joe Roe and Bradv I'd be willing to retract the specific wording of being caught fabricating checkuser evidence to try to frame editors they consider non-persons given that it implies a specific malicious intent rather than just sloppiness and/or bias, but not the general sentiment; at absolute best this was a case of "he seems like a wrong 'un so let's just run with the initial conclusion and not investigate too closely". ‑ Iridescent 06:50, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
@Barkeep49, it's not clear to me that if Bradv hadn't admitted the mistake we'd have ever known it makes it sound like George Washington and the cherry tree. What actually happened was an off-wiki complaint about Joe Roe and Bradv, only after which were their allegations retracted; I would imagine that had that complaint not been made, in three months when the checkuser window closes "editing logged out" would be a permanent stain on Cassianto's record and torpedo any future appeal from him should he decide he wants to return. ‑ Iridescent 07:03, 22 October 2020 (UTC)

@Bradv: 'I have always had the utmost respect for Iridescent, and even when we had occasion to disagree I have enjoyed their thoughtful reflections. I remain hopeful that, following this discussion, Iridescent will retract this unwarranted personal attack.' Expressing having respect is a cheap get out when one has one's back to the wall. Neither you nor Joe are feeling distress, there may be a couple of exceptions, but Arbcom as a body has no feelings - it's a robotic dinosaur of Wikipedia legalese that would baffle any English barrister, and woe betide anyone who disagrees with them or who finds fault with them. Been there, done that, and had my admin T-shirt torn up for it. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 08:55, 22 October 2020 (UTC)

@Kudpung:, the second half of the above at least is unfair. Arbcom as a body is a corporate entity with no feelings of its own, but its members are still people, and neither you nor I know what the individual members are feeling. You used to field the complaints about the Signpost; you know as well as I do that in a group with the size and diversity of Wikipedia, people regularly get genuinely upset in circumstances where nobody else can see the problem. One could even make the case that this is why both arbcom and Wikipedia dispute resolution in general consistently fail so badly when trying to rule on civility issues and interpersonal disputes—given the huge cultural diversity and diversity of circumstances of Wikipedia editors it's plausible that almost anything can be interpreted as offensive (you presumably remember the editor who was blocked because an admin thought "sycophant" was a swear word). In light of that, the cases become a matter of deciding who to believe, which in turn means a mix of "who shouts the loudest?" and "who brings the most friends to the debate?". There are good reasons why on Wikipedia "don't be a dick" has always trumped any hypothetical right to free speech—we don't want our talkpages to become Reddit Mk II—but when you couple it with our tradition of decisions not setting precedents, the result is an unending series of decisions on what "being a dick" actually means. ‑ Iridescent 05:13, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
ease of editing breakEdit
You may be right, but I did have the caution to refer to Arbcom as a body corporate. Personally - and again speaking very generally and cautiously - I don't think people can feel hurt and put upon if they have done something wrong and refuse to admit it or atone for it and complicate matters by weaving a web of plausible or implausible excuses. I do seem to remember some kerfuffle about the use of 'sycophant', but IIRC, it was a mention aimed at the acolytes of someone else who had been blocked for something or other - possibly a very long-term serial incivilist who claimed that everyone else was being impolite, and if it's who I think it is, now that I am back on my feet and to all intents and purposes retired from Wikipedia, I must remember to finally remove the dagger they stuck in my back without the slightest provocation. Anyway, if I'm wrong, and as usual I probably am these days, please jolt my memory by email so that I can mentally file that episode away. And I really do apologise most sincerely if you think I'm turning your tp into Reddit MkII. I thought this was a place, like mine, where one could speak one's mind intelligently, and perhaps defend those who are being attacked even if needs be with an employ of literary devices we Brits are so famous for and which no one else understands, and even if they are quite capable of doing it themselves. It's what I do. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 06:39, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
I'm not accusing you of turning my talkpage into Reddit Mk II; I'm just Reddit as an example of what would happen in an environment where admins could never make civility blocks and thus why civility enforcement is sometimes necessary, even though civility enforcement by its nature reflects the subjective bias of the admin doing the enforcement and is wide open to POV-pushing and abuse. Apologies if that wasn't clear.
The editor blocked for saying "sycophant" was Malleus back in the days when he was just Malleus the editor, not Eric Corbett the Evil Banned Editor. (I'm aware it's playing amateur psychologist on my part, but I'd be very surprised if this wasn't the incident that sent him down the "if any admin who takes a dislike to me is going to find a pretext to block me regardless, I see no point in making any special effort to comply with the rules" path.) The comment in question was "It's little wonder that people complain about there being too many admins when it takes three of them plus one sycophantic wannabee to deal with a single alleged misuse of rollback". It's not entirely clear from the thread as there are so many people shouting at each other, but the blocking admin later confirmed that "sycophantic"—not even directed against a named editor—was the offending word. When later asked to explain her actions, the admin claimed that being asked to explain the block was equivalent to "online rape" and refused to discuss it further.
I know you've said many times that you feel there's an "anti-admin brigade" and that admins are unfairly targeted, but it's easy to forget just how blatant the admin abuse could be back in the old days, and how impossible it was to get any action taken against even the blatantly abusive admin unless said admin had done something so blatantly abusive it couldn't be whitewashed. There's a reason so many people who were around circa 2007–2010 think of Wikipedia admins as something akin to an online death squad; the list of editors who were either harassed off the project, summarily indefblocked on questionable pretexts, or deliberately baited into either crossing the 3RR line or losing their temper and swearing so as to give a pre-recruited mob a pretext to pile in at ANI supporting a ban, would fill a decent-size book. Everything you and I have said above about Arbcom could equally be applied to the Defenders Of The Wiki self-appointed-cop faction of the admin corps. (As an ironic aside, on reading the original thread in which the "sycophant" comment was made, I notice that the admin whose use of a block to win an edit-war provoked the comment in question, is now indefinitely blocked for sockpuppetry. Meanwhile—I won't link the histories as it would identify her real name—the admin in question was the author of her own Wikipedia autobiography. I know this is something of a hobby-horse of mine, but the supposed Golden Age only seems that way because the victors wrote the history; the relatively stable and non-threatening maintenance-phase Wikipedia of today was built on top of a decade of broken rules, blind eyes turned, and general hypocrisy.)
(Pinging @Tryptofish, Scottywong, Ritchie333, Atsme, DGG, Isaacl, and Boing! said Zebedee: as this next bit is a follow on both from the above and from the thread on your talk page, and it's too confusing having one conversation in two different places)
The takeaway from the rather rambling monologue above is yes, Arbcom is a broken system which fails to do what it's meant to do and quite often sours and embitters those who become a part of it, even if they're decent people who only joined up with the best of intentions. But, that's not because it has some unique flaw; rather, it's because by its nature it recruits from the ranks of Wikipedia's admins, and the whole structure of adminship is a broken system which fails to do what it's meant to do and quite often sours and embitters those who become a part of it, even if they're decent people who only joined up with the best of intentions. (One could even make the case that Wikipedia's admins are in turn drawn from the community, and because of the way Wikipedia self-selects against people who aren't willing to jump through bureaucratic hoops and play all the power games, the community itself is a broken system which fails to do what it's meant to do and quite often sours and embitters those who become a part of it, even if they're decent people who only joined up with the best of intentions.)
Unless and until we can actually get to "no big deal"—which in practice means someone figuring out a mechanism for easy removal of the admin permission and the arbitrator pseudopermission, without the person losing the permission feeling attacked and without leaving a mark of Cain meaning that in reality they'll never get the permission back—we'll continue to have this corrosive caste system in which people are more concerned with protecting their status and that of their friends than they are of separating right from wrong. I suspect that the cultural inertia of 980,329,437-edits worth of history coupled with the toxic influence of the grifters at the top of the WMF means such a change can't happen here and we need to wait until Wikipedia collapses and someone salvages the parts worth saving to create a Wikipedia 2.0 fork, but I've been predicting the imminent eclipse and MySpaceification of Wikipedia for a decade and it hasn't happened yet. (Either Qwiki or Google Knol could have done it years ago, but they both lost their nerve when push came to shove. If I had to guess, I'd guess that if the Wikipedia-killer ever does come it will come from Baidu.) ‑ Iridescent 16:32, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
As to all of the above, tl;dr - I'm chiming in from the point I was pinged. My initial response is:
Spot on, Iridescent! Isn't it ironic how some of the people who start out wanting to do good somehow wind-up as either the perpetrator of absolute power or the victim of it? And then there's the hegemony of the asshole consensus - the enabler. Shirley, they can find something better to do with their time than cause grief to others. Blocks and bans were intended for vandals and runaway editors who could not be reasoned with, but that is not the way the ban hammers are being used today. So much of it is caused by WP:POV creep, taking advantage, and simply not wanting to deal with the root of the problem. Atsme 💬 📧 17:53, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
The Wikipedia killer will come from whoever first implements the easy and collaborative editing of video files (in the same way we can now easily and collaboratively edit the text). And, according to these two gentlemen who seem to get it right it is not going to be a self-governing community.--Ymblanter (talk) 18:06, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
A non-self governing community is probably just going to end up reflecting the POV of whoever the governing entity is. Isn't that how Baidu works out in practice? Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 18:10, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
Someone like Google or Amazon could have such a thing up and running within a couple of weeks if they wanted; the issue is that collaborative video editing would be damn expensive to host and monetizing it enough to make it profitable would mean so many adverts and so much data mining, nobody in their right mind would visit. (It wouldn't necessarily reflect the owner's bias provided it paid its way, any more than YouTube content reflects the preferences of Google's management.) I'm not convinced such a thing would make much of a dent on Wikipedia; video and text are two very different media with very different audiences, and I'd imagine a Wikipedia 2.0 would look more like early versions of Qwiki, with the augmented text annotations and interactive maps rather than true video. (Remember, most visitors to Wikipedia are looking up things like "Who was the bass player in the Raincoats?", and don't want to watch even a two-minute video let alone a full-length history. I won't ping Whatamidoing as I'm sure she's sick of the sight of this page, but if you ask her she can give you the stats to demonstrate just how little of a Wikipedia page a typical reader actually reads.) I think that article's interesting but I disagree with the premise; they're missing the point that the peak-and-decline pattern is based on the low hanging fruit being taken, not some kind of inherent decline. The collaboration is what makes Wikipedia untrustworthy but it's also what gives us our range - a curated website is never going to bother having articles on every mountain in Peru, or every out-of-print 1940s children's book - and it's the scope that's our unique selling point. ‑ Iridescent 18:23, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for the ping, which is why I'm posting this reply. I'm going to take a (perhaps) somewhat contrarian view here by saying, as I previously did chez Kudpung, that I do not see this as ArbCom being particularly bad, and that I hold the present-day membership in pretty high regard, higher than some previous versions. But that doesn't mean that I don't have criticisms. Rather, I think that it is going down a rabbit hole to a place of endless and fruitless disagreement to treat the issue as being one of the individual people, as opposed to being a problem with the system. And by that, I mean a problem with Wikipedia as a whole. ArbCom may be a symptom of Wikipedia, but it is not the causal pathogen. I've got some suggested therapeutics for that (and I'm a s–t-load better at that than certain prominent politicians), but I'll post those at Kudpung's talk rather than here. (I'll continue to watch here.) --Tryptofish (talk) 20:44, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
@YMBlanter, I wouldn't worry too much about that article on the lifecycle of internet communities. The model those two keep peddling is based on edit count, it ignores the effect of parts of Wikipedia editing moving to Wikidata, it takes no account of the edit filters, it ignores the last third of the life of Wikipedia when editing levels have consistently been above the 2014 minima, and it ignores the issue that MediaWiki is inadequate for editing on the mobile platform. If the Foundation wanted to get back to 2007 levels of editing they wouldn't even need to go back to the level of acceptance that unsourced new content had in 2007. Just replace the edit filters with bots that revert the sort of vandalism that the edit filters reject without an edit going live; scrap Wikidata with its hub and spoke system for interwiki links and go back to the many to many system where two hundred language versions of Wikipedia get a bot edit when the Anglo Saxon wikipedia finally gets an article on Britney Spears; and modify MediaWiki so it has three views, Mobile, Tablet and Desktop rather than just Mobile and Desktop. The last would actually be worth doing and a lot more practical than making Wikipedia editable on a smartphone. ϢereSpielChequers 07:24, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
sidetrack-within-a-sidetrack on ageEdit
What I actually find the most interesting in the article (and what I was referring to) is the second part. It is indeed difficult to ignore the fact that no large self-governing (or grassroots, or whatever) online communities were created. They say that this is because big corporations figured out how to let this development as their property, so that they can filter out what they do not like. This seems quite plausible to me. Barred some unexpected disaster, nobody is going to build Wikipedia 2.0 and enter the competition with the existing Wikipedia, because it does not make sense. However, if there is some alternative way to provide information (I mentioned the video platforms, may be indeed they are not going to fly, but then there will be something else) it will likely be proprietary from the very beginning. We should also not forget that most people (if not all) commenting here are over 50, My som has completely different way of using internet than I have, and at some point somebody will have an idea how to optimize the workflow for that generation.--Ymblanter (talk) 07:50, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
We should also not forget that most people (if not all) commenting here are over 50 "most" perhaps, but definitively not all as I am quite a bit younger than that. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 09:03, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
Ditto here. The "everyone of any importance on Wikipedia is over 50" meme is at least as pernicious as its more commonly-seen cousin, "Wikipedia is governed by children". ‑ Iridescent 12:11, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
I’ve revealed I created this account as a teenager (in 2007) because my previous account had privacy issues. You can work out my rough age based on that, and it’s far below 50. TonyBallioni (talk) 13:47, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
I unfortunately can't claim "far below"—I'm now nearer 50 than I am 30—but am still definitely below 50. ‑ Iridescent 15:02, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
I'm 64, and the rest of you are starting to make me feel old. Get off my lawn! --Tryptofish (talk) 18:44, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
In the future, people will be able to look back at this era and either say that it was clear and obvious that the initial turbulence was over and a more stable era had begun, or that conversely the only given was the underlying rate of change. I tend to suspect that the former view will prevail re Wikipedia. My understanding is that the young still read Wikipedia, albeit mostly on devices that don't make for practical editing platforms. I see the greying of the pedia not as a prelude to its demise, but as a sign of normalisation, a transition to the conventional model of a charity. When I look around in the real world I am involved in or aware of a myriad of voluntary organisations, most of those that don't have a specific youth focus follow the model of being dominated by empty nesters and the retired. I think that the greying of the pedia has a long way to go before we as a community are entirely 50 plus, and even if that were to happen we could be viable indefinitely as long as we at least remain as open to new blood as we are now. My hope is that we remain and that we become a more diverse community, especially in ethnicity and gender. When it comes to age, I suspect we are heading for a reverse of the situation in our early years, instead of a community dominated by the young, we will disproportionately be retirees; I just hope that doesn't put off our younger editors. My guess is that the next editor survey will show that we underrepresent the under 25 age group, and no longer underrepresent retirees. The "assume everyone is 14 unless you learn otherwise" meme of a dozen years ago was an exaggeration, as would be a default assumption of everyone being old enough for a bus pass. But after a dozen years of attending London meetups I have gone from being one of the oldest present, to being a bit closer to the average. ϢereSpielChequers 12:10, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
The "assume everyone is 14 unless you learn otherwise" meme originates (as far as I know) in A fool's guide to writing a featured article, which was written by Giano in 2008. He was talking about readers, not editors, and I think the assumption is still valid; the readers aren't necessarily actually going to be 14-year-olds, but they'll very likely be people with no advanced knowledge of the topic so unless it's a highly specialist topic like some of the mathematics articles, it's almost always sensible to write as if preparing a lesson for someone with no prior knowledge of the topic other than a basic school education—that is, clearly highlight what makes the topic interesting (as opposed to just "notable"), try to avoid the use of jargon if there's a more easily understood term available, and whenever a concept that might be unfamiliar to the reader is introduced include either an explanatory footnote or a clear pointer to where they can find out the background without feeling patronised. With the low-hanging-fruit plucked and Wikipedia expanding to cover ever-more-niche topics, if anything this advice is more relevant than ever nowadays. ‑ Iridescent 13:19, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
"you are writing for the intelligent fourteen year old" were the guru's exact words - an important qualification. Quite what age of less intelligent person that equates to I wouldn't like to guess. Johnbod (talk) 02:50, 31 October 2020 (UTC)
I agree with the idea of writing for that age group. I'm pretty sure there was also a feeling over a decade ago that we had a lot of young people in the community, and some people would oppose their RFAs on grounds of "maturity". It would be amusing if the concept started with Giano's note about our readers, but I think his essay is clear that he is talking about our readers. ϢereSpielChequers 19:44, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
There's this essay from October 2005 about teenage Wikipedians; its writer was then 15. I just found out that the earliest high school page was probably Rock Bridge High School from October 2001, written by Eean. Another high-school-age editor from around that time was Dreamyshade; see the top of her talk page archive. Graham87 19:14, 31 October 2020 (UTC)
It was a couple of years later, but IIRC Anonymous Dissident later turned out to have been something like 11 at the time of their RFA. (I may be remembering the wrong person, so if so apologies to AD.) If you want an object lesson in how Wikipedia has changed, compare Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Anonymous Dissident and Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Anonymous Dissident 2 and ponder whether a re-run RFA less than three months after the first went down in flames would have such a wildly different result nowadays. ‑ Iridescent 14:34, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
Yes, you have the right person and his age was well-known at the time]; also see deleted revisions of this later spinoff of his user page. Graham87 16:12, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
And there's also Emily Temple-Wood (Keilana), who also became an admin in 2007 (see the links from her user page). I for one didn't know her age at the time. Graham87 16:25, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
I always had a sense that the Tzatziki Squad, of which AD, Keilana, and I were all a part of, was filled with young people, though AD was the only person who was open about his age at the time. Looking back, it wasn't too hard to tell who was an adolescent back then (at least in my limited sample size of interactions with people whose age I later discovered). You just had to see whether it looked like they were having fun editing Wikipedia. bibliomaniac15 21:40, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
I dunno. I did a lot with User:Modernist (now less active) for years, & for quite a time thought he was within say 3 years either way of 20. Until I found out he was a distinguished artist born in 1947. I think he was (mostly) having fun. Of course using American English makes you sound younger, and British English older (and wiser). Johnbod (talk) 02:42, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
  • Don’t know who this is directly a reply to, but if we’re going off functionary appointments in the last few years, I’d say I’m around the median age there. I’m late 20s, and I’m aware of a substantial number of people younger than me getting either CU or OS, as well as many older ones. If we’re discussing the meme that all of the behind the scenes power players are either ancient or teenagers, I’d say looking at the composition of this group is a good place to start, and the evidence doesn’t back it up. For clarity: I don’t think any CU/OS would say that we view ourselves as a power group or anything of the sort, but if we’re trying to get to Iri’s point about it being a meme that significant players on Wikipedia are 50+, it’s a good place to look at since everyone in that group has to be an admin, and is typically more visible either because they were a former arb or because they’re involved in work that gets community attention. TonyBallioni (talk) 15:57, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
    • And why does everyone over 50 have to be an admin? I thought we were mostly smarter than that. Or maybe just traumatized by seeing what was done to Mally. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:08, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
      • I think Tony's point was that all the checkusers and oversighters have to be admins not that all editors over 50 years old have to be admins. Since oversighting is a form of suppression that is closer to actual deletion than the type of suppression we call deletion, I think it makes sense to recruit oversighters from the admin cadre. I haven't had enough involvement in check user stuff to know whether it uses admin skills. I'm aware that we have a number of community members who are over fifty and unwilling to run through RFA, not sure how many of them were worried they would get the same experience as Malleus. I have offered to nominate quite a few potential candidates over the years, I don't remember any mentioning Malleus by name, though I can think of one editor whose reason for not running an RFA was "too many enemies", and that editor would know of Malleus. But Sandy is definitely right that we have some very smart old people who won't run an RFA. ϢereSpielChequers 09:28, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
        • Although the software technically allows it it would make no sense for an oversighter not to be an admin. The usual workflow for oversighting is: an admin sees something problematic (typically either grossly libelous or a child disclosing contact details) or has it drawn to their attention  admin deletes the offending content  admin decides that it's so problematic that it shouldn't remain visible even to admins, and emails oversight (emails, not posts on-wiki, to avoid drawing attention)  oversighter super-deletes it. The whole process is dependent on the person with the oversight permission being able to view deleted content, and WMF Legal have decreed that we're not permitted to unbundle the viewdelete permission so it's a permission restricted to admins. (Technically, they've said we're allowed to unbundle viewdelete provided the permission is granted only after an RFA process, but there would be little reason for anyone to go through a full RFA but request only to be allowed to view deleted pages and not be able to delete things themselves.) The only hypothetical circumstance in which I could imagine a non-admin oversighter would be for audit purposes—for instance, if The Rambling Man had neen successful in his arbcom candidacy and a case had come before the committee regarding alleged misuse of the oversight permission, he'd need to be able to review the history of what had happened.

          The same isn't really true for checkuser, although in practice they always are admins. I could definitely make a case that it would make sense for checkusers not to be able to block, so as to force them to seek a second opinion rather than just blocking; we have a long history of checkusers who've spent so long playing whack-a-mole that they start to assume anyone who looks at all suspicious to them is a mole (which I have a strong suspicion is the simple explanation of why this thread started in the first place).

          I imagine—without evidence other than a lot of anecdotal experience—that the holders of these advanced permissions won't be representative of Wikipedia as a whole. In practical terms someone would need to be active on Wikipedia for a minimum of three years' solid activity to be CU or OS (two years of regular editing before someone could pass RFA, and a year of regular adminning to demonstrate one actually knows what one's doing), which would have a very distorting effect against those people who drop in and out of Wikipedia as work/family committments allow.

          Sandy is definitely right in that a lot of older editors won't go near RFA. Spitballing, it may be partly down to people of school and college age being more used to pass/fail tests and thus less intimidated by the process.

          I suspect that a significant distortion (across Wikipedia processes as a whole, not just RFA) stems from younger people being orders of magnitude more likely to be active on off-wiki channels like IRC and Discord. Consequently they're able to canvass a bloc of pre-supports ready to jump in as soon as something goes live, hopefully creating momentum in their preferred direction. As well as RFA we see this a lot at drama-boards like ANI, where someone posts a complaint and within minutes a gaggle of the original poster's friends will jump in demanding the other party be hung, drawn and quartered, creating a pseudo-consensus before the genuinely uninvolved editors have a chance to review the background and evidence and see that the actual issue was not as given in the initial complaint. ‑ Iridescent 10:16, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

          • Yes, all valid points. My point was going off of your earlier statement that it’s a meme that anyone of import on Wikipedia is either a child or ancient. That’s not really true when it comes to CU/OS. Part of that is the life circumstances bit, but if you’re looking at it from that level, you have a significant cadre of late 20s/early 30s, some university aged people, and some 50+.
            On CU, some projects have non-sysop CUs, but I can think of at least one example where that didn’t end well, and also have a few back of mind examples where I’ve scratched my head. The advantage to making +CU require two rounds of vetting (RfA and the RfCU/ArbCom) is that you’re more likely to weed out crazy that way. Doesn’t always work, but I think it’s better than would be otherwise. TonyBallioni (talk) 17:45, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
            • "Doesn't always work" is something of an understatement. I don't think you were here yet for that particular episode, but it definitely wasn't among Wikipedia's high points. ‑ Iridescent 17:48, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
              • Yes, that was before my time. There’s an as of a week ago former admin/CU on who went on a vandalism spree there that got them blocked for a few days. Our community vetting process isn’t great for weeding out crazy at the funct level, but I think the de facto requirement of being an admin for around a year does help get rid of crazy that wouldn’t otherwise be caught. TonyBallioni (talk) 17:59, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
Break: aside about MalleusEdit
  • Thanks for prodding my memory, Iri. It's difficult to know what to say without offending you because once upon a time you were determined to make an admin out of Malleus. However, by the time of his RFA2 (I had never read those RfA until today) not only had he firmly established himself as a first class encyclopedia editor but his reputation as a master of incivility and disruptive element on other RfAs had already gone beyond the point of no return - just you didn't see it at that time. His 2008 'survey' was surprisingly accurate then as it still is but he became split between his excellent content work and his crusade against admins after his first couple of blocks that may well indeed have been careless use of admin tools. So he embarked upon a deliberate strategy of calculated incivility and was already Evil Most Blocked Editor well before my time and his later name change. His torrent of unprovoked attacks at me although I rarely mentioned him even obliquely and had very little to do with him were probably only the tip of the iceberg of his animosity towards admins. His disruption of the RfA process at every opportunity is what began my mission to get the venue cleaned up and his attempts to derail the work we were doing at WP:RFA2011 didn't endear him to the team. In whichever direction he focused it, for better or worse Eric's intelligence was a force to be reckoned with and his literary talent is impeccable. If he'd wanted to, he could have easily been one of Wikipedia's nicest editors.Yes, his is the dagger I really ought to extract from my back now, but only to reduce the pain and not the memory. He got his own way in the end of course when he when his socking caught him out and his proxy contributed a lot of crap taken out of context on his behalf to add to the Committee's flawed findings of fact on my case, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the two of them had indeed colluded off-Wiki to prepare it as soon as they saw a case against me brewing. I for one am not sorry to see the back of both of them - particularly as I wasn't going to go near the FA system while Eric was at home there .FWIW while FA might produce a tiny % of immaculate articles among the 6mio, while I respect the dedication some editors put into them, it doesn't make those editors better people nor higher in rank than those who do the tedious and uninspiring work at the coal face and in the trenches. IMO the time spent on FA could better be invested getting other train wrecks of articles up to at least an encyclopedic standard, or help reduce the monumental backlogs at AfC and NPP. But don't get me wrong, I'm the first advocate of encouraging the volunteers on Wikipedia to do what they prefer and do what they do best, so FA work is probably not a loss of manpower in other areas after all. It depends whether one looks at the glass of articles as half empty or half full. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 13:51, 24 October 2020 (UTC)
    • I'm not sure if it's SandyGeorgia or Cassianto you're accusing of being a proxy for Eric, but I'm very familiar with both and can say with absolute certainty that neither is going to be acting as someone else's pawn and if either of them said something, they said it because they believed it not because someone told them to. I'm not necessarily going to agree with either of them—myself and Sandy disagreeing has been something of a running theme on this talkpage for a decade—but one can't really question either of their integrity. (Indeed, I believe that impugning Cassianto's integrity was where we came in…)

      My memory of Eric when he was Malleus is very different to yours. The blocks didn't start until May 2008, and there's a reason they were almost invariably overturned (and by a different admin each time most of whom had no previous involvement with him, not by a coterie of friends); he wasn't some kind of crazed bully, but had fallen out with a very vocal editor (who's still sporadically active, so WP:NPA means I can't name) who would canvass friends on IRC to block him at the slightest pretext, which in turn just made him more and more annoyed. If you want to go wading through ancient history, his first ever block was for this comment, and the person to whom it was addressed was the blocking admin; Eric's block log from the Malleus era is something of a showcase of admin abuse. FWIW, I actually think that both his RFAs were on course to pass had he not withdrawn them. Particularly on the first one, other a couple of serial opposers and half a dozen people with whom he'd had disputes who would have found a pretext to oppose regardless, it was largely plain sailing. As you presumably recall, it was a lot less acceptable back then to point out bad-faith opposes; those were still the days of "an admin's username should be more fear-inspiring" and "prima facie evidence of power hunger".

      On rereading Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/Malleus Fatuarum for the first time in more than a decade, there's nothing in my nomination statement I'd retract. Eric had an innate sense of fairness that's woefully lacking on Wikipedia, and could have been the natural successor to NYB as Wikipedia's Jiminy Cricket. If and when anyone gets around to writing a non-hagiographical history of Wikipedia, the process by which a handful of abusive admins and one abusive founder spent more than a decade cajoling people to bait and provoke him is going to warrant a chapter of its own. ‑ Iridescent 16:04, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

The blocking (and unblocking) admins are quite a mixed bag of people. In nearly every case the reason cited was incivility, while the vast majority of the post name-change blocks were procedural AE blocks for what appear to be legitimate reasons. It's interesting to note that at least one block was clearly labelled by the unblocker as inappropriate, but even WTT, generally one of the fairest admins, arbs, and 'crats WP has ever had, changed a block setting to 'indefinite' with the remark 'Enough is enough' , so there must have been a pattern somewhere. A year or two ago over a beer and a pizza at an airport in BKK, I asked a very good friend of mine who had met Eric in RL what Eric was like, but I got a rather vague and non committal answer and I changed the subject. Note that I was neither one of the blockers nor unblockers - nor (surprisingly) even an onlooker with schadenfreude - I was one of the few well known admins never to feature on those block logs, not necessarily because I always distanced myself from Eric wherever and whenever I could, but the few blocks I ever made were serial vandals caught on the fly, undisputed trolls, UAA, AIV, COI, UPE, and a couple of uninvolved procedural enactments. My first involvement with Arbcom in any depth was my own desysoping. I observed some cases from the public gallery, especially those involving admins or the names of users I was familiar with, but unless it was to lend some token support, very rarely did I venture a comment - I left that for the 'regulars' from the cheap seats at ANI. Eric's history reminds me a bit of I'll so offend, to make offence a skill, redeeming time when men think least I will, he got the first part right but unlike Hal, he didn't stick around long enough (or wasn't allowed enough time) to do the second bit. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 11:03, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
I've met Eric in real life, as have quite a few others—he used to attend WMUK events occasionally, he's not some shadowy man of mystery. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy; I can imagine that some Americans might find him a bit overly direct and in-your-face, but that's just because "the way Scots interact with strangers" and "the way Californians interact with strangers" differ rather than anything problematic on his part. As I've always said—not just with regards to him—I think a significant proportion of what gets treated as "intractable conduct issues" is just an artefact of the fact that the English-speaking world covers a lot of different cultures with very different attitudes towards what constitutes acceptable social interaction. (It's not just Northern England and Scotland vs the US; a lot of Aussies, Irish, Indians and people from anywhere in the US that isn't California or NYC regularly get slapped down for not communicating in the Berkeley snide primness that has become Wikipedia's default social setting.) ‑ Iridescent 14:46, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
... when his socking caught him out and his proxy contributed a lot of crap taken out of context on his behalf to add to the Committee's flawed findings of fact on my case, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the two of them had indeed colluded off-Wiki to prepare it as soon as they saw a case against me brewing. User:Kudpung 13:51, 24 October 2020
I'm not sure if it's SandyGeorgia or Cassianto you're accusing of being a proxy for Eric ... Iridescent 16:04, 24 October 2020
Kudpung, would you like to answer that question? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:02, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
Looking at the case in more detail, I think ('think' being the operative word, I may be completely wrong) that although you and Cassianto presented the initial complaint, it's actually the Evidence presented by GorillaWarfare and Evidence presented by Leaky caldron sections on the Evidence subpage that are at issue. Your and Cassianto's initial complaints may or may not have been fair (not for me to judge, I haven't read all the history) but they were straightforward and concise. Assuming Kudpung is referring to these later additions I can see his point, as they do have the appearance of a laundry-list of complaints going back for years. (That's not to say there's necessarily anything wrong with digging old dirt—in some cases, it's necessary to prove something is part of a pattern and not a one-off—but I can understand Kudpung getting annoyed as seeing complaints from 2013 suddenly raised seven years later, particularly if, as it appears, nobody complained or raised any concern at the time.) For reasons I hope I don't need to specify, I find it somewhat unlikely that either GW or Leaky are actually either socks or meatpuppets of Malleus. ‑ Iridescent 15:29, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
As a member of the chapter, I have attended plenty of WMUK events but none that Eric ventured further south to. Not having read all the history behind my desysop is the trap that Arbcom neatly fell into - like drunken all-night ravers into a well in a farmer's field, found some stagnant water in it, fetched some pitchforks and tar from a nearby shed and blamed the farmer. I have never suggested that GW or Leaky are or have been socks of Eric. To do so would make me look more of an idiot than some people already think I am. That does not mean however that I do not find some of the things they say and have said quite distasteful and/or unbecoming, as the case may be, of an arbitrator (even if it's between between periods of office). And BTW, finding something distasteful is not a personal attack or that I am on a path of revenge - I never was, I was the one who buried the hatchet with GW who dug it up again (for the second time) as soon as Chris.Sherlock made the opening for it possible, and who, after he got what he wanted, almost immediately set about finding a new victim . You can understand why some of us are jaded, but nothing can and will turn the clock back when there are no possibilities for appeal and there are plenty of users around with false grievances from anno dazumal who will continue to stick their knives in at the slightest opportunity. And on that note, I do sincerely hope BHG passes her next RFA despite her former unambivalent Shermanesque statement and then it will be time to discuss happier and more productive things, like ships and shoes and sealing wax, and whether some Wikipedia pigs have wings. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 05:49, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
PS, I'm not so sure the Berkley primness of the group that sits smugly at the software capital of the world and which partly directs itself from 36,000ft is the entire cultural problem - you've shared with me some excellent opinions of the traits and eccentricities of that group and its mix of hippie and yuppy outlooks. I think it's more that vast English language diaspora including the USA, South Asia, Australasia, and lil' ol' UK which probably has the greatest diversity of English and pesudo English speakers in the world squeezed onto a small archipelago). The UK is certainly the only country of the many I have lived worked in on your list where the language and culture can change dramatically within the space of less than 20 miles - whatever the ethnicity - you'd need to travel nearly 200 miles in France or Germany, or nearly 500 in Thailand to notice such a distinct change as that from Malvern to Birmingham, and for its size it's probably now the most multi cultural nation in Europe, if not in the World. Four years ago I tried to get a coffee in a Weatherspoons at 9:00AM on a cold and rainy November morning after getting off a train to Swansea iand had to order it in Polish to make myself understood - after trying English and Welsh. The UK is a place I hate to love, but I do although I left it as soon as I could. Of course there are huge cultural dichotomies on the English Wikipedia. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 07:05, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I first came across Eric in 2013 when he was recommended to me as an editor who could advise on improving articles to GA and FA, and looked at some of his work such as Cottingley Fairies, which I'd read about decades earlier but didn't know the specifics. I think I had some idea he was a divisive editor, but for most the time I worked with him, particularly on the GA reviews we did together, he was polite and constructive. At some point last year, my view of Eric started to change - the two main points for me were attacking Valereee for no reason other that she contributed to Women in Red, and the explosion at Moors Murders which led to its eventual delisting at FAC. I think that's the first time Eric's content work got seriously challenged and disagreed with from other people in good standing. ([2], [3]) I think the common theme with Eric and Cassianto (and, to a lesser extent, me) is that if you spend a lot of time criticising admins, and especially Defender Of The Wiki admins in public, you'll eventually get a target painted on your back and kicked off the project. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 13:02, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
@Kudpung, while the UK may differ from the US in that a 100 mile drive in the US is a commute but a 100 mile drive in the UK will take you through five completely different accents and three different names for bread rolls, it isn't completely unique in that. There are some places like Switzerland, Turkey and northern Spain where just taking the train to the next station feels like crossing into an alternate dimension. (Even in the US, there are still places where you get total changes in culture as you go along the road—Las Vegas is only a couple of hours' drive from Utah, while in the unlikely event of LA not having traffic jams you could literally drive from Beverley Hills to Compton in half an hour—albeit nothing to compare with the degree of regional variation you get in Britain and Ireland.)
@Ritchie333, the whole Moors Murders thing was a trainwreck. As I said at the time (I can't remember if it was on-wiki or to the participants privately), the problem with the MMs as a topic is that along with the Second World War, the Beveridge Report, and the Miners' Strike it's become almost a creation myth of modern Britain rather than a more typical piece of history. As such, to people in the UK and particularly people old enough to remember when Myra Hindley was a near-permanent presence in the news, challenging received wisdom on it has the same sort of effect that challenging the 9/11 narrative has on Americans. There are some topics that the collaborative editing model is never going to handle well, and "highly emotive topics that have a direct impact on how a culture sees itself" are right at the top of that list. ‑ Iridescent 17:09, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I've never met Eric, but first encountered him when I was a pretty new editor when he began by being strikingly, spectacularly and rather pointlessly rude, on a question where he was in fact completely wrong. This was pretty much as unusual then as it would be now. I've always been a somewhat distanced member of the "Eric/Malleus is a good thing" faction, and I don't think it is at all fair to Scots/Mancunians/Brits to excuse him as someone just expressing his cultural background. There's more to it than that. Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
@Johnbod, I'd say that's fair. He was right almost all the time, but because he was so used to being proved right he wasn't used to being proved wrong and could get very snappy. ‑ Iridescent 17:09, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I think Wikipedia has actually generated a stable social role—call it Chief Gadfly—with a certain set of expectations: the holder of the role will do a great deal of content work, including critical review of their own and others' content, have a high verbal intelligence, and is expected to regularly challenge authority (in the form of ArbCom, admin cabals or whatever) when they're being particularly mindless at applying rules, or failing to balance expectations of civility with those of productivity, and in general put down stupid people who are over-reaching their understanding on points of content and so forth. Occasional rodomontade about how you're going to expose and humiliate the entire power structure soon is desirable. Giano filled this role in the first several years I was here, then gradually passed the torch to Eric, who to some extent was succeeded by TRM (although I feel like the role in general has faded over the past few years, perhaps because the tone-deaf exercise of authority is increasingly coming from the WMF). It's on balance a beneficial role, but incredibly polarizing, so that after some period of playing it, you'll have one group of people who are out to indef you on any pretext whatsoever, and another group that will write apologetics for you, even when you really are incivil to someone who didn't deserve it, or otherwise commit an error in judgment. Obviously you have to have a certain personality to move into this role to begin with, but I think our perception of other editors' personalities is very much shaped by both official and unofficial roles. Choess (talk) 18:23, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
Would the current pretender to that vacant crown not be EEng? ‑ Iridescent 19:25, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I was actually going to say that TRM and EEng sort of split the role after Eric consciously stepped back from it (some time before the denouement) before going for brevity, so yes, I think we're perceiving something similar here. EEng does seem to manifest more of the "trickster spirit" (user talk, the pictures with wordplay captions) and the trailing of one's coat for the Mrs. Grundies. It occurred to me the other day that Merridew tried to carve out a similar role, marrying boundary-testing to technical, rather than content proficiency, but wasn't as successful. I don't know whether that's a sign of healthy priorities on the part of the community, or whether people with the verbal and social intelligence for that kind of tweaking tend to self-select for writing rather than messing with templates. Choess (talk) 20:33, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
EEng is clearly the English Wikipedia Court Jester. It's a distinct role. There are some similarities to and occasional overlap with Chief Gadfly, but the part EEng plays requires much more humor, wit, and patience than rage, suspicion, and machinations.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  05:27, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
And here I didn't even know this thread was underway, with all these kind comments! Well, as the wise man said: There is only one thing on Wikipedia worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. EEng 05:54, 3 December 2020 (UTC) P.S. Just to note, SMcCandlish, you mistyped distinguished role as distinct role.
Heh. And I'm not sure I buy that maxim. I've been talked about aplenty (though arguably deserved it), and the last 18 months of it have reminded me of the second half of "May you live in interesting times ...".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  06:05, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
It's been in plain view for more than a month on the page which last month overtook Jimbotalk to become The Most Read User Talkpage On Wikipedia™ (and a page which I'm fairly confident you have on your watchlist); it's hardly as if we're sneakily discussing you behind your back…

For what it's worth I certainly don't buy that maxim—Lord Henry wasn't faced with 20+ Echo pings every time he logged in, all of which need to be checked just in case it's something important. One rather suspects Wilde himself came to disagree with the sentiment as well, given the certain unpleasantness that arose as a result of what people were saying when they talked about him. ‑ Iridescent 07:51, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

I really had overlooked all this until SM's ping, but please don't misunderstand me as implying I'm in any way offended. EEng 14:53, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
Merridew was less a challenger of perceived injustice, and more a troll in its old, non-pejorative Usenet sense—he felt Wikipedia's culture was becoming too hidebound and rules-based, and I always got the impression that he genuinely felt he was performing a public service by being intentionally annoying and consequently flushing out the people who would get upset and thus demonstrate that they didn't fit into what he felt the community should be. Some of the genuine old-timers like Llywrch could probably advise better than me, but I always had the feeling that that kind of thing was fairly common in the early days, and that when I joined circa 2006–07 it hadn't entirely died out. (They used to congregate on Alison's talkpage, as I recall, and also had common cause with the old Wikipedia Review and would occasionally hang out there.) If that's the case, I don't think it's really the same thing; I don't believe any of the editors named above ever set out with the intention of being disruptive to perform what they see as a public service by martyring themselves, they just have a different idea as to where the boundary between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" should be drawn. (All three of them—EEng in particular—have also been repeat victims of a known flaw in Wikipedia's dispute-resolution mechanism, owing to there being no easy way to flag "not actionable"; a hundred admins can see a comment and deem it non-problematic, but if one admin deems the comment problematic they can block on the spot. The platonic ideal of such an incident—complete with the obligatory admin wagon-circling—is probably the block documented here.) ‑ Iridescent 21:17, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I believe the mantra "hands-down the worst block I've seen in my time on Wikipedia, and I've seen some whoppers" expressed in that thread has been recycled by EEng in other contexts. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 22:15, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I just saw this reference to my username, so I'll supply a bit of history. (Which I may be getting wrong, but I hope it adds some material worth further thought.)
When I came to Wikipedia just over 18 years ago, the general atmosphere could be described as "Wild West". Yes, on the one hand this seemed to be a magical place where articles would appear & grow out of the altruism of strangers; it was as if the WikiWiki software had this function edit_cooperatively_and_civilly () that made this into a libertarian (or a socialist) paradise. However, the major flaw of Wikipedia was that too many people did not respond well to peer pressure, & there was no mechanism for handling those people -- beyond appealing to Jimmy Wales & having him either talk to the individual, or banning them from Wikipedia. I could name names, but what would be the point? Looking back, I'd say were any of them were to appear for the first time in today's Wikipedia, they would be quickly handled at WP:AN/I unless an admin acted first. In other words, they were obvious problems that the "let everyone do his or her thing" vibe could not handle, & we needed some way to deal with a lot of these problem volunteers & no one but Jimmy Wales had the authority to deal with them effectively. To anticipate the next question, I figure the reason that part of Wikipedia's earliest days is left out of the history books was not because whitewashing, but because outsiders were in such shock Wikipedia worked at all. (Think of Dr. Johnson's comment about the dog walking on its hind legs.) This is why many old school Admins -- & the ArbCom everyone loves to hate -- were on one hand authoritarian to some Wikipedians, yet excused the misbehaviors of others. Outsiders suffered the backlash of having people like Lir, Wik, & Cheese Dreams (to name just 3 who came to mind) disrupt the business of editing, while the good old boys -- since everyone knew they weren't troublemakers -- were let off easily.
This is why if one wishes to discuss Giano & Eric Corbett, one must also discuss Tony Sidaway.
There are only two significant differences between the first two & the third: Sidaway had a knack for making the right political moves, & he was not the content creator the other two were. (A glance at his edit history shows only 30% of his edits were to non-Talk, non-Wikipedia pages; Sidaway was always more interested in formulating & imposing policy than creating content.) Sidaway could be just as abrasive as the other two, but he managed to have supporters who were more determined to fight for him. We "content creators" prefer to create & improve the articles (which why Wikipedia has been successful), rather than to argue about the rules (which, IMHO, are often to simply avoid tedious & repetitive edit wars).
While it is appealing to say there are informal roles in the Wikipedia community, I think it often comes back to simple personalities. How we envision our roles in Wikipedia (or another project), how we react to the response our contributions get, etc. I think it's accurate to say that most of us realize the significance & impact Wikipedia has on humanity. (And I don't mean in the "sum of all human knowledge" sense, but that what an article says on any given topic is likely to become what most of humanity will first think or associate with it: what is written will have an immense effect on what is thought about the subject, which can be a humbling realization. Especially since we know the majority of Wikipedia articles are in need of further work to various degrees.) So it's easy to get caught up with the allure of being a leader in this endeavor, & either get ones hopes dashed or decide to eliminate the competition by all means fair or foul until one is caught & banned. It is also easy to see our hard work devalued. (Damn, I'm saying more than I intended, but I don't see where to pare back.)
Let me make the point I intended: we are all involved in something that is important & valuable, so we try to find our own little spot or role in it. Sometimes it works, & that person stays until either it's time for something new or they die, sometimes it doesn't work, feelings are hurt, conflict ensues, & that person begins to exit from Wikipedia. And some exits have more memorable steps than others. -- llywrch (talk) 20:15, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
Oh God, I'd forgotten that name, and yes. If we're going into "if it prospers, none dare call it treason" territory, I can think of quite a few high-profile people who managed to end up on the winning side and so never get pigeonholed as troublemakers, but used every dirty trick in the book to make life as unpleasant as possible for anyone they considered enemies. (At least some of them are still with us and are now respectable wiki-citizens; indeed, there are a few of them among the pantheon at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/History#Current and former members.) There's probably no benefit to lifting that particular rock. ‑ Iridescent 20:46, 29 October 2020 (UTC)

I could comment also, but I'm not sure how fair it is to have an extended discussion of the good and bad points of someone who isn't here to speak for himself. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 13:49, 26 October 2020 (UTC)

You may be right, Brad, but Eric's work and interaction with others are somewhat legendary, and did indeed greatly affect the way in which some Wikipdians acted and reacted, and legends are, well, legends. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 15:38, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
That. Eric had a profound impact, directly and indirectly, on Wikipedia's internal culture to an extent that's arguably unmatched by anyone other than Jimmy Wales. (Other people like Essjay and Raul654 may have had bigger impacts on particular areas, but they didn't change Wikipedia's internal dynamics.) To talk about the evolution of the civility policy, Wikipedia's quality standards, and the cultural clashes and misunderstandings based on a lack of shared assumptions that characterise Wikipedia, without referring to Eric (and to a much lesser extent TBSDY and Giano) would be like discussing the history of modern Britain without mentioning Tony Blair; he may now be persona non grata and someone people wish they could pretend never existed, but he's one of the architects of Wikipedia in its current form. Besides, it's not as if he's dead; if he wants to reply he's perfectly capable of emailing me and I'll post whatever he wants to say on his behalf. ‑ Iridescent 17:09, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
Tony Blair is one of the architects of Wikipedia in its current form? EEng 14:53, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
I honestly think that if Eric and I were to meet for the first time to day - and why not? (but I'm unlikely to visit the UK again any time soon, if ever), he would smile wistfully at having become a Wikipedia legend (for whatever reasons), and I could say: "Whatever your reasons were, Eric, you got your satisfaction in the end by seeing me desysoped and you left your mark on the project with a lot of learnings for the community and its 'managers'. Have another pint."Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 02:58, 28 October 2020 (UTC)
That sounds like you blaming your desysop on Eric, for no discernible or valid reason. It also sounds like you still are not aware of why you were rightfully desysopped ... which had nothing to do with Mally. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:09, 28 October 2020 (UTC)
What she said. I obviously don't agree with the "rightly"; as I said both at the time and subsequently, I think both that the Arb case was a massive overreaction to relatively trivial breaches, and more importantly that it was fundamentally unfair for the committee to be sanctioning you regarding issues over which nobody had raised any concern with you at the time, since even if you were behaving inappropriately nobody had pointed it out to you so there was no reason you could be expected to know. (TL;DR: arbcom sanctions ought to be a last resort, and you were never given a chance to change your ways before the banhammer fell.) All that said, they made it abundantly clear what their reasoning was in deciding to desysop you, and it had nothing remotely to do with Eric, whom I doubt was even aware the case was happening, let alone cared. (Whatever Eric's faults, I think even his harshest critics would concur that holding grudges wasn't one of them. He'd regularly help out people with whom he'd previously had heated disputes, and when it came to the small handful of people he genuinely disliked he consciously avoided them; the reason his talkpage had a reputation for arguments was precisely because the people like Chillum who saw it as a mission to pick fights with him had to come to his talkpage to do so because he avoided them elsewhere.) ‑ Iridescent 09:54, 29 October 2020 (UTC)

Article that needs mergingEdit

Hi, could you please do something about merging this article List of unsolved deaths (before 1900) to the List of unsolved deaths. The AFD was closed on September 24, but no merge has yet taken place and it is now October 17. I do not know how to do merges, so that is why I thought I would ask you to do it, so please do so if you can. Davidgoodheart (talk) 00:10, 17 October 2020 (UTC)

Not a chance. That's not a straightforward history merge, that's something that would require a huge amount of work to integrate two separate lists and to impose a consistent style across the unified list. I also couldn't do it with a clear consicence, since I'd consider List of unsolved deaths pretty much a canonical example of a ridiculous Wikipedia page that has no business existing, and by making substantive edits to it I'd be implicitly endorsing it. The official estimate of the US Department of Justice for the number of unsolved murders in the United States alone is 250,000, and the US is a relatively peaceful and stable country with a reasonably functioning justice system. Taking countries with a history of disappearances into consideration, let alone wars—and bearing in mind that most countries have histories centuries or even millennia longer than that of the US and often very qustionable systems of investigation and patchy record-keeping—for it to be encyclopedic, such a list would quite likely be larger than the rest of Wikipedia combined. (There were 30,000 disappearances in Argentina between 1976–1983 almost all of which are still unsolved, to put some perspective on this.) If you try to limit the bloat by imposing a notability bar on which deaths are included, then you'd be introducing both a strong element of original research and a massive dose of systemic bias, since you'd by definition be skewing the list towards the elites of Europe and North America where records are more likely to have survived, and to people from English-speaking countries who are more likely to get biographies on the English-language Wikipedia. (This is indeed what has already happened; looking over List of unsolved deaths, what you actually have there is List of unsolved deaths of white people.) ‑ Iridescent 16:04, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Surely you jest. You can't actually expect our readers to do without such useful content as:
  • Damendorf Man, is a German bog body discovered in 1900 in the See Moor at the village Damendorf in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Only his hair, skin, nails and his few clothes were preserved, along with traces of some bones. He was found with a leather belt, shoes, and a pair of breeches. The man's identity and cause of death are unknown.
  • On June 21st, 1905, the New York Central Railroad's flagship passenger train, the 20th Century Limited, derailed in an apparent act of sabotage in Mentor, Ohio, killing 21.
EEng 19:02, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Oh, indeed. There could theoretically be a legitimate use for a page along the lines of List of people for whom the cause of death has never been established and where the uncertainty is actually historically significant listing people like Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln or Horst Wessel where the disputed nature of their fate had genuinely significant consequences—but a laundry list of "people who are dead but the exact circumstances aren't known" is getting into List of people by name (yes, that page genuinely once existed) territory. I'd go so far as to say that when you go back more than a couple of hundred years and particularly when you get back into antiquity, nobody's cause of death can be given with any degree of confidence. ‑ Iridescent 19:24, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
In a brief moment of boredom and to test my "when you go back more than a couple of centuries every death is unsolved" hypothesis, I've done some Original Research of my own and checked the biographies of the 30 monarchs of England, on the assumption that if there's one person for whom the time and cause of death is always going to be of paramount importance, it's a hereditary absolute monarch. From the Norman Conquest of 1066 to the end of the Kingdom of England in 1707, we have have (with those for whom the circumstances of the death are "solved" bolded):
  1. William I, "either fell ill or was injured by the pommel of his saddle";
  2. William II, shot, but unclear whether the shooting was intentional or accidental;
  3. Henry I, "a surfeit of lampreys";
  4. Stephen, an unspecified stomach disease;
  5. Henry II, a bleeding ulcer;
  6. Richard I, assassinated;
  7. John, "probably fictitious accounts that he had been killed by poisoned ale, poisoned plums or a surfeit of peaches";
  8. Henry III, "died" (no cause suggested);
  9. Edward I, dysentery;
  10. Edward II, "most historians believe that Edward probably was murdered";
  11. Edward III, stroke;
  12. Richard II, "thought to have been starved to death in captivity on or around 14 February 1400, although there is some question over the date and manner of his death";
  13. Henry IV, "some grave illness, medical historians have long debated the nature of this affliction or afflictions";
  14. Henry V, died suddenly at age 35, cause unknown;
  15. Henry VI, "possibly killed on the orders of King Edward";
  16. Edward IV, "the cause of Edward's death is uncertain";
  17. Edward V, disappeared without trace, possibly smothered with a pillow;
  18. Richard III, killed in battle;
  19. Henry VII, tuberculosis;
  20. Henry VIII, cause unknown but bonus pseudointellectualism points to whoever described him as having "increased adiposity";
  21. Edward VI, "the cause of Edward VI's death is not certain";
  22. Mary I, "weak and ill", possibly cancer but not established;
  23. Elizabeth I, cause unknown
  24. James I, dysentery;
  25. Charles I, executed;
  26. Charles II, cause unknown, possibly a kidney disorder;
  27. James II, brain haemorrhage;
  28. Mary II, smallpox;
  29. William III, pneumonia;
  30. Anne, stroke.
So, of 30 people of whom we can be absolutely certain that every detail of their life was chronicled and of whom the exact circumstances of their deaths were of paramount significance since they could be grounds for a declaration of war or be interpreted as evidence of the displeasure of God, only 12 of their deaths are "solved" (or 13 if you accept lamprey overdose as a genuine medical condition), and of that 12, six were in the final century of this 641-year period when medical science was more advanced and when an increasingly-strong Parliament made plots and cover-ups less of an option. If we can't even get close to 50% "solved" with kings in a country with a strong tradition of record keeping, reasonably advanced medical science, and where the absence of wars and natural disasters means the full historical record has largely been preserved, we're certainly not going to approach that figure with people of lower status or who lived in countries where the records are incomplete, let alone when we get into the chaos of battlefields. (There are more than 100,000 people still listed as "missing in action, death unconfirmed" from the Battle of the Somme; there are four million Soviet soldiers from World War II who never came home but were never reported killed and consequently it isn't known if they were killed in action, deserted and took new identities, or were captured by the Nazis and killed in the camps). ‑ Iridescent 15:52, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
Oh god, the old "list of". I can come up with some useful lists, like List of women printers in 18th-century England, but the vast majority of those articles are absolute crap. I'm waiting on a hypercorrective fan of Moby-Dick to write up List of novels with hyphenation considered superfluous. Davidgoodheart, what do you say? And yes, it's lampreys and ale for dinner. Drmies (talk) 21:21, 18 October 2020 (UTC)
I wouldn't underestimate the number of wars in England during those years. The Anarchy, The First Barons War, the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution all saw changes on the throne, and some other deaths were rather convenient to some powerful people. Well documented people but with lots of people wanting them dead. BTW One of my wife's greatuncles is among those 4 million. ϢereSpielChequers 17:21, 21 October 2020 (UTC)
Gee, thanks Iri. Heh. --Ealdgyth (talk) 12:33, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
Facepalm. Davidgoodheart, my comments above pointing out that at a conservative estimate there are upwards of ten billion unsolved deaths in human history was supposed to be an observation that such a list is inevitably either going to be indiscriminate and consequently violate the Five Pillars, or have arbitrary "importance" criteria and consequently both constitute original research and act as an echo chamber for systemic bias. What it definitely wasn't was a suggestion that the list should be expanded even further, let alone that you should start adding content sourced to other people's blogs to high-importance historical articles. ‑ Iridescent 17:29, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
WereSpielChequers, medieval and early modern England had some vicious wars, but with the exception of the Harrying of the North there was very little of the sacking and burning that characterised Continental warfare; the wars were invariably fought between rivals for the throne (or those wishing to abolish it), all of whom expected to win and didn't want the value of their new kingdom diminished. Plantagenet records have largely survived; to this day you can still go inspect stack upon stack of dusty pipe rolls should you so desire. ‑ Iridescent 17:35, 22 October 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, that's interesting re the pipe rolls and the relative paucity of sacked towns. I was actually thinking of a certain statue complex where we have the estate lists of the statues owned by Charles I, The Commonwealth and Charles II but because of some considerable turnover of staff, there is an element of uncertainty as to which statue is which comparing those inventories. More to the point, going back to the dead monarchs, there are several where I suspect that the official version of events may have been written by people who stood to gain from the unfortunate death. Was "surfeit of lampreys" code for "the old boss is dead, meet the new boss"? ϢereSpielChequers 09:56, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
"Surfeit of lampreys" would be a very odd claim to make if one were covering up a murder since by its nature it invites question; Ealdgyth will know better than I but I believe the traditional term when covering up a medieval poisoning was "apoplexy". Remember these people took the Bible literally; if he dropped dead immediately after eating the lampreys it would have been a perfectly reasonable explanation that he'd been smited for gluttony. (Henry died at 67, a fairly ripe old age for the period; it's not like he was struck down in his prime. Plus, the only people who stood to gain from his death were Stephen and Matilda, both of whom were famously unprepared for the fact—neither was even in England at the time.) ‑ Iridescent 16:43, 23 October 2020 (UTC)
It must be proof of my age, but I remember when stating "old age" was an acceptable explanation for cause of death -- which IMHO would apply to Elizabeth I. The intended explanation being that said person did not die prematurely from an act of violence, lack of food or shelter, or a preventable disease. (Or what Vikings allegedly called "the straw death".) -- llywrch (talk) 16:48, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
She died at 69, she wasn't some wizened crone; even for the time that was below the average life expectancy for a male aristocrat who'd reached majority and women live longer than men. "Average life expectancy" is always misleadingly low when it comes to the old days, as it's skewed by the high infant mortality rate and the huge numbers of people either in dangerous professions or who lived in squalid conditions. For a wealthy individual who'd survived into adulthood and wasn't either living in a war zone or a known heretic, life expectancy in medieval Europe wasn't significantly different then and now. We'll never know as the histories were written by people loyal to James VI&I who wanted to ensure a smooth transition, but what appears to have happened was that after Cecil died she just lost the will to live. ‑ Iridescent 20:01, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
First, that looks like an interesting book, one that would prove useful in writing biographies of ancient Greeks & Romans. Too bad Springer charges outrageous prices for their books nowadays. But as to the table you point to, taking the average of the averages (less the figure for the Black Death), an aristocrat who survived to age 21 could expect to live an average of 45 more years; Elizabeth lived to 69; thus she did not die "early", but what was accepted then as an expected lifespan. From my memory of how the word was used, the term "died of old age" was applied whenever the person was "old" & died from natural causes. In any case, it's not a formal diagnosis for cause of death. YNNV. -- llywrch (talk) 22:00, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
Springer charge silly prices, but Henry Oliver Lancaster was a big-shot in medical statistics; most decent-sized university libraries will have it.
While the 14th century is obviously more skewed by disease, the 16th- and 17th-century figures will be distorted as well; they're based on English records, and between 1550 and 1700 England had a full-scale nationwide influenza pandemic in 1557 and outbreaks of bubonic plague in the 1560s, 1590s and 1660s each of which wiped out about ​14 of the population in the areas they reached. Plague has a particularly skewing effect on statistics, as unlike influenza it doesn't primarily affect people with weakened immune systems who are on their way out anyway. (In terms of death from disease, the plague epidemics of the 17th century segue neatly into the cholera epidemics of the industrial age, but cholera is a disease of poverty and overcrowding so didn't have a significant effect on aristocrats.) Which is all a long-winded way of saying "Good Queen Bess wasn't particularly elderly when she died so it's not reasonable to just ascribe her death to old age". (The fact that the royal diet in the period would have consisted primarily of red meat, fat, and this newfangled imported luxury called 'sugar', probably did her no favors.) ‑ Iridescent 08:17, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
We're both getting sidetracked on her age, when the point I was trying to make in the original post was this. Outside of medical (or medically-informed) circles, when giving a cause of death, the reasons would fall into some category of violence (e.g., accident, murder, warfare), or impaired health (e.g. pneumonia, plague, famine), or, if there was no specific agent & the deceased lived a reasonably long period of time, a miscellaneous category labelled "old age" or "natural causes". Inevitably people die; no cure for that has been found. Thus if there was no preventable cause, yet some cause must needs be given, either "old age" or "natural causes" fits. ("Failure to thrive", which I believe is the cause you are arguing for in Elizabeth I's case, has only recently been accepted as more scientific than, say, "from a broken heart".) -- llywrch (talk) 20:32, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
I wouldn't call it a sidetrack. If anything it's demonstrating my point: when judging any records from before the advent of modern medicine, even the most well-documented deaths are often "unsolved" by present-day standards since unless the cause of death was unambiguous ("beheaded", "bubonic plague", "savaged by bear") the science often just didn't exist to determine the cause of death and it wasn't unusual for the circumstances of politically sensitive deaths to be covered up. We don't know and never will know whether Elizabeth's heart just stopped beating, she choked on a midnight snack, or she gradually got heavy metal poisoning from the Hampton Court piping. Given the politics of the day it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that she slashed her wrists, or she'd died of a sexually transmitted disease and the fact was covered up; it's also not impossible that James felt that with Cecil dead and no longer promoting his cause Elizabeth would decide Arbella Stuart had a better claim, so had his agents smother her in her sleep before she had the chance. "Unsolved death" is a hopelessly vague term which encompasses a significant proportion of all the people in the historical record. ‑ Iridescent 14:18, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
So, "a surfeit of lampreys" and "a surfeit of peaches". Sounds like fun times. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:27, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
Remember, these folks were biblical literalists; the wealthy being smitten down for gluttony would have seemed a perfectly reasonable explanation. Bear in mind also that people in those days had less of an acquired tolerance for sugar and that diabetes and gout were both untreatable conditions; death or debilitating illness following on from overeating would have been something the court chroniclers were very familiar with. The curious thing isn't that they believed in death from a surfeit of lampreys, it's that anyone who'd ever eaten one lamprey would ever want to eat another as it's truly horrible (think the look of a severed penis and the taste of phlegm). ‑ Iridescent 18:40, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
I'd rather think of just about anything else! (Loud sounds of gagging and retching!) --Tryptofish (talk) 18:47, 14 November 2020 (UTC)

Where can I go to get help with editing?Edit

Hi, do you know where I could get help with adding entries to list like The List of fugitives from justice who disappeared and ect.? To do all this editing by myself is very hard, and I could REALLY use some help. Davidgoodheart (talk) 08:10, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

For basic questions, the best place to start is Wikipedia:Teahouse; it's aimed at new editors which I appreciate you're not, but it's staffed by people who are used to answering questions from people who are stuck or who don't understand Wikipedia's sometimes-confusing jargon. For more complicated questions, the Wikipedia:Help desk might be able to help.
What you will need to do in either case is be clear what kind of help you're looking for. Is it advice on deciding what is and isn't appropriate for inclusion, advice on how to identify reliable sources and cite them correctly, advice on general writing, or advice on formatting and markup? If it's the latter, are you using the Wikitext editor or the VisualEditor—that is, when you go to edit the page do you see a box full of markup code that begins {{Also|List of fugitives from justice who are no longer sought|Lists of people who disappeared}} {{short description|Wikipedia list article}}, or do you see this? (I'll give the general tip that, if you're not already using it, you'll find editing table-based lists like that page roughly a million times easier if you do so in VisualEditor even if you're fully competent in Wikitext. VE handles the table coding for you, meaning you don't have to worry about what table formatting codes like ! data-sort-type="isoDate"| mean and where to put them.)
I will repeat what was said a few sections up, that almost all the time this kind of open-ended "List of people who…" article is a really bad idea and virtually impossible to write or maintain in a manner that complies with Wikipedia's rules. To add to that, writing about living people accused of criminal acts is a really, really, really bad idea and I can't emphasise that strongly enough. Unless you're very, very confident in your ability to write about sensitive legal issues without violating any one of the US and California law that covers Wikipedia's servers, the libel laws of wherever you live, and Wikipedia's own non-negotiable internal rules regarding writing about living people, I'd really recommend finding something else to write about. ‑ Iridescent 21:51, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
David, please pardon me jumping into the conversation, but I would like to strongly second the advice that Iridescent is giving you in the last paragraph. People have been cautioning you for years that "missing persons and criminal suspects" is a topic that calls for very sensitive editing and careful sourcing, including here and here. Please carefully consider the advice. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 23:23, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I have to concur with Iridescent and Newyorkbrad - this really isn't the sort of article you want to do work on unless you are very sure of your ground - and given this discussion, I don't really think you are. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 23:46, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
Imma fourth this. Even some of the more seasoned editors like me tend to avoid such sensitive topics. And while I don't tend to pour across editors' histories, the conjunction between what Ritchie and Newyorkbrad are noting above and these prior exchanges look like a bad omen. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 17:34, 27 October 2020 (UTC)
Okay then maybe I will not write this anymore. But please tell me why you keep these articles and let people edit them since your are claiming that it is so risky? Also all I was going to do was ask people to add existing articles to the list, do you think that I should even do that? Davidgoodheart (talk) 02:45, 28 October 2020 (UTC)
I personally think most open-ended "List of…" pages of this type shouldn't exist. Most of them are inappropriately indiscriminate, and even those that aren't are rarely of much use to anyone, and that's the case even with completely uncontentious open-ended lists like List of minor planets, let alone contentious topics with real-world ethical implications such as the ones under discussion here.
The short answer as to why such pages are kept, is "for rather long and boring reasons to do with the early years of Wikipedia, all Wikimedia projects have an inherent bias towards keeping material once its created, as deletion criteria are based on notability rather than either ethics or utility". (That sounds complicated, but it basically means "if you can prove that someone has written about a topic, it's difficult to get the Wikipedia article on that topic deleted even if it's problematic".) The longer answer is that Wikipedia is ultimately a hosting service for the writing of its editors, rather than a publisher in its own right; there is no "editorial board" as such. (If you write something libellous in the New York Times, the New York Times gets sued; if you write something libellous in Wikipedia, you get sued.) As such, except in the most extreme circumstances there's no body to police what the community does other than the community itself. The basic principle of "Assume good faith" cuts two ways; it stops people from interfering with you unnecessarily, but it also means that people will generally assume you know what you're doing and leave you get on with things even when it's potentially dangerous. And I know we keep hammering this point, but what you're doing is dangerous; you're making claims about living people and live criminal cases. It's possible to write about such things on Wikipedia, but only if you're very sure you understand reliable sourcing (since the defense in a lawsuit would be "I only summarized what independent reliable sources say"). It's fairly clear you don't yet understand reliable sourcing—when it comes to this kind of sensitive BLP, a rough rule of thumb is "a website is almost never going to be a reliable secondary source"—and if someone does complain, it's you the lawyers will come for and the Wikimedia Foundation will give them your details if they receive a subpoena. (This whole legal argument is quite aside from the ethics of the whole thing. "Is everything I've written provably true beyond doubt, and if not am I making it absolutely clear both that it's unproven, and exactly who is making the allegation and why?" is the way you should approach these things.)
As a general rule, unless and until you become very experienced, anything relating to living people is best avoided on Wikipedia. Even with apparently uncontroversial topics like sporting figures it's very easy to accidentally say something that isn't true, given both how easy it is to make errors and how much misinformation is circulating out there. When it comes to sensitive issues like criminal cases and missing persons investigations you really are walking on eggshells and I'd never recommend anyone touch these articles no matter how competent they are. Wikipedia's open-editing tertiary-source model is just not a good fit for some topics. ‑ Iridescent 10:16, 29 October 2020 (UTC)
As a practical example, one of the first significant bits of cleanup I did on an article was Ian Gillan, because I had his autobiography to hand. A few years later, everyone and their pet dog has fiddled with the article, adding (at best) updates or (at worst) unsourced or questionably sourced POV claims or bits of trivia, which I got so fed up of, I took the article off my watchlist. Fast forward a few more years, and there was an interview with Gillan who had seen the article, wished we hadn't used that autobiography as it's out of date and needs rewriting, and spotted at least three things in it that were, not to put too fine a point on it, libel. A moving target is hard to hit, on in this case, if you plan to spend quality time on a BLP and wish to maintain it, your sanity may end up taking a hit for it. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 09:52, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
I had a similar experience in my early days trying to impose some kind of balance on Mary Lou Lord, someone who's just-about-notable as a singer in her own right but whose fame (as opposed to "notability") derives almost exclusively from an incident regarding which everyone involved disagrees what actually happens and spent the 1990s and early 2000s fighting it out in the tablouds and sympathetic blogs. It's died down now as everyone involved is now fading somewhere in Hollywood, but Talk:Mary Lou Lord is still one of the great trainwreck threads. ‑ Iridescent 13:26, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
  • Davidgoodheart, I will echo the advice I gave you on this talk page almost exactly three years ago: if you want to make this your hobby online, you need to seek professional legal counsel in your jurisdiction and potentially California. I’m not going to get into the wiki-side of things, but you’ve basically chosen one of the most risky topics to write about around. TonyBallioni (talk) 04:45, 28 October 2020 (UTC)
    • You have convinced me, I will no longer write about 'living' people accused of criminal acts ever again. It's just way too risky! Davidgoodheart (talk) 21:06, 31 October 2020 (UTC)
      • Don't feel you can't write about living people—even those accused of criminal acts—at all; the important thing is not to say anything that's controversial or that could be potentially challenged, without an absolutely reliable source. For this kind of topic, "absolutely reliable source" means serious studies published by recognized academic experts in the relevant field; the question to ask yourself is "if this person—or the victim's family—challenged me as to why I'd included that, could I both point to exactly where I'd copied it from, and explain why I'd chosen that particular source to copy? ‑ Iridescent 14:25, 1 November 2020 (UTC)
        • Okay then perhaps I may still edit those cases. By the way I remember that you said that your were not a lawyer, well this person is a lawyer and this is what he says about libel: YouTube legal advice. Please watch this and let me know of what you think about what he has to say about this issue. Davidgoodheart (talk) 01:31, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
          • Facepalm. I am not a lawyer, in the sense that I have not sat the bar; I am someone with more years than I care to count of experience regarding criminal and civil law. (When you see variations of "IANAL" or "TINLA", it doesn't mean "I am not competent to discuss legal issues"; it's a disclaimer that although the person saying it is discussing a legal situation they're neither providing formal legal advice nor creating a legal relationship, and that you should verify with a professional any legal suggestion given prior to acting on it. This is particularly true in a context like Wikipedia which operates in literally hundreds of different legal jurisdictions. I may not have the relevant piece of paper on the wall, but on the subject of "how to balance public interest with privacy/defamation issues on a high-traffic website" I'm wholly confident my opinions are valid.)

            In this thread alone you've (thus far) been advised by the editor-in-chief of the Journal of In-Chambers Practice, one current and one former member of Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee (the people who deal with how Wikipedia handles problematic editing), one of Wikipedia's most active CU/OS's (the people who deal with how Wikipedia handles legally or ethically sensitive content), and Wikipedia administrators with a combined total of 64 years experience. I would venture to suggest that we are better qualified to advise you on the issues regarding Wikipedia editing than a tangentially-related video you've found on YouTube, and we are all telling you the same thing.

            In regards to your specific question regarding "what I think about what he has to say about this issue" (transcript here to save anyone else having to waste three minutes of their lives watching it), I'd say the fact that you think this is relevant is proof that you don't understand what the issue is here. The issue here is nothing to do with reputational damage to businesses or First Amendment rights—you are accusing living people of crimes, and publishing sensitive personal information about living or recently-deceased people, without due regard to whether it's appropriate to do so or to whether it's appropriately sourced. A lack of malice may, as he says, reduce your exposure to punitive damages; it does nothing to reduce either your or the WMF's exposure to legal action per se, or the potential reputational damage to the WMF of our republishing sensitive content taken from blogs, tabloids, and other Wikipedia pages.

            This is all assuming that you live in and that the people about whom you're writing live in the US, which famously has the laxest defamation laws in the world. If you live anywhere else or if you're writing about people who live anywhere else (particularly countries like England and Wales or France which have a de facto presumption of guilt in defamation cases, meaning the onus is on the author to prove that what they've said is true regardless of intent), writing about living people without ironclad sourcing is putting both yourself and the WMF at serious risk.

            If you want a genuine example of how this plays out in the real world, in one case material about a living person was added, correctly cited, to a Wikipedia article. The source used was then retracted and taken off-line, and the statement cited to it was correctly removed from the article. Because the claim—which had been added at the time entirely in good faith and correctly cited to a reliable source—could still be viewed in the article's history, the Wikimedia Foundation was successfully taken to court, even though everyone involved had acted entirely correctly with regards to what information was publicly available at the time. That is, when you make a contentious claim about a living person even if you cite it to a reliable source, unless you're absolutely certain that the source will never turn out to be incorrect and have to be retracted you're potentially writing defamatory content. Unless it's routine coverage like updating sports statistics or album release dates, writing about living people on Wikipedia is rarely a good idea if what you're saying about them is in any way controversial or could be construed in any way as controversial.

            (And of course, this is just the legal side of things. Forget the defamation issues for a moment; approach writing about a living person—whether on Wikipedia or elsewhere—with "how would I feel if someone were saying this about me or a member of my family?". Striving for a neutral point of view doesn't mean existing in a moral vacuum; every time you say something negative about someone on a website that averages 850,000,000 unique visitors per month on the English-language version alone you're potentially ruining somebody's life.) ‑ Iridescent 19:01, 2 November 2020 (UTC)

            • This type of conversation is why I have your page on my watchlist...a chance to learn. Thanks to all. Tribe of Tiger Let's Purrfect! 05:21, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
              • The threads do veer wildly off-track at the moment, don't they? (I concede that it's deeply hypocritical of me to start "do you know who we are?"-ing barely a week after saying I have no time and never have had any time for people pulling this "do you know who I am?" shit on this exact same page, but at least I had the foresight to allow an except in the limited circumstances when it's genuinely justifiable like relevant experience or a particular technical skill qualifier.) ‑ Iridescent 09:31, 3 November 2020 (UTC)
                • From my perspective, the objectionable "do you know who I am" statements originate from someone who claims prideful authority, based solely on a title or position. (Applies to WP & "RL"). Counseling others, based on years of experience and a long memory, is not objectionable. Providing advice, "with sources", is akin to saying: "Here is a nest of venomous vipers, avoid it! Others have died, or suffered grave injuries." So, relevant experience....Tribe of Tiger Let's Purrfect! 08:12, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
            • Necro-posting, but because I just saw this and David tends to come back to your threads, I'll add this: everything Iri said was true, but going to a YouTube video of a lawyer is not at all the same thing as requesting professional legal counsel in your jurisdiction and/or California. Your situation is unique to you especially in cases involving sensitive material about other people. Getting general advice from a lawyer on YouTube is not a good way to figure out what you can and cannot legally say about missing or disappeared people and the people who knew them. Each of those cases is so unique that any media company would have their counsel reviewing what can be said before it was reported. The one advantage you have over the Washington Post is you have less assets to be an attractive target, but someone can still make your life hell in the courts, even if you are judgement proof. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:13, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
@TonyBallioni: I agree and this is why I am not going to write about these cases anymore, It's just NOT worth the risk! Davidgoodheart (talk) 01:01, 9 November 2020 (UTC)

IAR'ing core content policiesEdit

Does the learned council of talk page watchers know of any instances of Ignore All Rules being successfully invoked to ignore a core content policy (V, NOR, NPOV)? Lev!vich 23:58, 5 November 2020 (UTC)

It really depends how you define "core content policy"; although it's a term we use a lot as shorthand for "things we strongly advise you to do", aside from a very few things with legal implications there are very few genuinely non-negotiable core policies. (A statement of the obvious perhaps, but it's worth bearing in mind that Wikipedia is a fluid environment; all three of the "core content policies" you mention bear little resemblance to the way they appeared ten years ago; even if something was entirely compliant with policy when it was added, it could be non-compliant with the same policy tomorrow.) Depending on where one draws the "core" line, I'd suggest:
  • There are a (very) few instances where a fact is so genuinely universally known, across all potential readers of all ages and education levels and in all cultures, that IAR is invoked to leave the statement uncited as it would look foolish to include a citation. The years of back-and-forth prompted by this edit is probably the canonical example (although I note that at the time of writing the page does include a citation);
  • There are quite a few instances in articles—even at quite a high writing level—technically breach the rules on sourcing, by being sourced to primary sources rather than to secondary sources summarising those primary sources. Almost every article on fiction breaches this; religion, mythology, and ancient history are also repeat offenders. (I need to make it clear that I see no problem with this—I don't see why "This is what Julius Caesar wrote in The Gallic Wars" is any less reliable than "This is how Professor Keith Brian Sverdlov of the University of Miskatonic summarizes what Julius Caesar wrote in The Gallic Wars"—but it's technically an invocation of IAR.)
  • "Neutral point of view" is an amorphous concept, which one could certainly argue is breached all the time on contentious topics (and contentious topics are the only ones where it generally matters in the first place). Is the Neutral Point of View "what the majority of Wikipedia editors believe", "what the majority of academics believe", "what the majority of readers believe" or "what the majority of the world believes"? Wikipedia—or English Wikipedia, at least—has made the conscious decision to reflect American values, and specifically the values of the American center-left. (As an obvious example I absolutely guarantee that Wikipedia doesn't reflect the views of a majority of academics, let alone the views of the majority of world opinion, on all the identity issues that are such hot buttons in the US. For instance, if Wikipedia genuinely practiced what the WMF preaches about the views of both academics and readers in Lagos, Lahore or Lima being of equal value to that of both academics and readers in Los Angeles, London or Lisbon, such articles as Homosexuality would look radically different.) When we say "representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic", what we generally actually mean is "representing all the significant views that would be acceptable to raise at the dinner-table in Berkeley, and raising anything else only to dismiss it". Again, I don't necessarily disagree with this position—Wikipedia is ultimately an Enlightenment product and as far as I'm concerned it's right and proper that we represent the values of the Enlightenment—but NPOV is often very consciously disregarded.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. Anyone else, feel free either to disagree with me or to add your own instances. (You might want to poke somebody active at one of the WP:BADSITES—they've spent fifteen years now collating what they see as Wikipedia ignoring its own rules and someone is probably collating a list somewhere.) ‑ Iridescent 21:10, 6 November 2020 (UTC)
Thanks! That edit belongs in the Museum of Wikipedia – what a fantastic example. Is there a canonical example of "all the sources say something we know to be wrong" (IAR of V)? Lev!vich 21:51, 6 November 2020 (UTC)
I can think of a similar one that came up a few years ago - a reasonably well known media personality's date of birth (which didn't at that time have a source in our article, though the date turned out to be correct) was changed by someone on said personality's IMDB profile. Inevitably, at some point someone changed our article as well to match it. Eventually, an editor noticed that it had been changed, but now couldn't find a reliable source for the original (correct) date, whilst there were now a number of "reliable" sources that had simply scraped the wrong date from our article and IMDB. The new date was clearly wrong (it would have meant the subject started university when they were 15) but there wasn't a source for the original, and when people tried to change it back, someone would come along and change it to match IMDB and the news sites that had used the wrong date. Eventually, someone dug up a book from a reputable publisher that contained the original date. Black Kite (talk) 23:42, 6 November 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, that’s Citogenesis. At one point I found an uncited claim in the biography of John Paul I. Tried to source it and found an academic book with it in there. Turns out that it was plagiarized from us. Contacted the publisher with pretty conclusive proof and they didn’t believe me. I removed it, either as an IP or with this account (this was in my late teens/early 20s when I wasn’t really active.) Anyway, you could easily cite it from an academic book, but that book stole it from us and my original research into the subject said to gut it. I stand by that being the right choice. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:46, 7 November 2020 (UTC)
We've moved beyond WP:Verifiability, not truth days, but there's still strong resistance to not going with the source even when we know the source is wrong.
If you want a concrete—albeit rather trivial—example of an editor invoking IAR to disregard "core content policies", try the situation explained in this footnote. In this case, there's some dispute whether the topic (Biddenden Maids) was a genuine event, a medieval fabrication, or a modern (in the sense of "after the Renaissance") fabrication. The Pitt Rivers Museum cites a "poem found in old charity documents" as proof that this is a historic belief and thus can't have been a recent invention; the Pitt Rivers may be slightly obscure but it's the absolute gold standard in its niche field of folklore and historic cultural traditions, and understandably anyone else writing on the topic recently has assumed they've done their homework. I recognized the "poem found in old charity documents" as actually being a quote from Sir Walter Scott and consequently that the Pitt Rivers is talking nonsense, and have explained as such—however, in doing so I'm technically breaching the hallowed Core Content Policy in multiple ways, as I'm including my original research, I'm combining material from multiple sources to reach a novel conclusion, and I'm not giving due weight to the degree in which a particular view is represented in sources. This is a trivial example since it's not a topic anyone is likely to complain about and any observer can see that I'm self-evidently correct, but when you get onto things like "to what degree should scripture be treated as a reliable source?" or "how do we deal with Chinese medical journals?" it becomes a genuine issue.
Should you want to lose the will to live watching otherwise sensible people lose their tempers over angels-on-pinhead exercises, start with Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/First sentence from 2011, the 2012 RfC and Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 56. If you really want to lose the will to live, start at Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 1 and read all 69(!) archives of semicoherent rambling about the nature of the relationship between Wikipedia and reality. ‑ Iridescent 20:14, 7 November 2020 (UTC)
(adding) Regarding Is there a canonical example of "all the sources say something we know to be wrong", I don't have the time to dig out the diffs, but look through Jimmy Wales's early edits; before he was Saint Jimmy The Saviour Of The Internet there wasn't a great deal published about him, and what there was managed to get his birthdate wrong. He spent many happy hours arguing with Wikipedia editors over whether his biography should include the date on his birth certificate or the date the sources gave. ‑ Iridescent 20:18, 7 November 2020 (UTC)
Another example along the lines of the Biddenden Maids but not in a footnote is at Copiapó (volcano), regarding the fumarolic activity. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 11:18, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
A rather straightforward heuristic might be that IAR for OR is acceptable when no one objects on the point of content, only (if at all) on procedural grounds. (cf. the example above). Clearly not the case for the Periodic-Table-arrangement example that inspired the question; in general, if people disagree on whether your IAR application improves the encyclopedia, it's not suitable to apply. Choess (talk) 05:15, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
Yes, that's how I see it as well. IAR should be invoked in situations where ignoring the rule unquestionably leads to an improvement. If there's legitimate objection to the change (rather than just a lone crazy or a handful of Mattisse socks), then IAR isn't appropriate and instead there should be a discussion, the resulting consensus of which will in turn become the new rule. ‑ Iridescent 19:57, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
As someone who only recently started watching this talk page, I want to say that I am finding the discussions here very interesting – well done! About the mentions of Berkeley, though, I'd suggest one could just as well substitute (as one randomly chosen example) Iowa City. It's easy to exaggerate the coastal/midland divide in the US, and whatever may be the "consensus" of intelligent people who do not knuckle-drag should not be narrow-cast as being the same as "politically correct". --Tryptofish (talk) 21:36, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
But Iowa City doesn't provide the cultural framework for the WMF's hive mind. Although it may have its origins in the South, Wikipedia's culture—and particularly the WMF's culture—is the product of the Bay Area with a dash of the culture of NY liberal arts programs, and it's impossible to fully understand the weird doublethink mix of sneering snobbery coated with a veneer of egalitarian platitudes that characterizes Wikipedia without grasping that, as "everybody is equal and I'm more equal than you" is a sentiment largely confined to southern and central California and greater NY, and especially academia in southern and central California and greater NY. (Your Londons, Bostons and Iowa Cities have their fair share of snobbery, but the people who think they're better than you make it clear exactly why they think they're better than you. Wikipedia's "Your opinions are of equal value to mine and I fully respect your right to disagree so we're going to do exactly what I want and shove you out of the way unless you can convince me you're important enough for me to listen to you" default setting is a product of geography.) A Wikimedia Foundation based in St Louis, Glasgow or Singapore and staffed by an admin corps that wasn't dominated by the US coasts just wouldn't be the same. There's an argument to be made that it's a price worth paying—a Texan or Brummie Wikipedia would probably have much more of a formal hierarchy with all that that means in terms of gameplaying and leveling-up, which would in turn make the community less appealing and lead to things gradually fizzling out. (This is testable to a certain degree, by comparing the different language projects and how different their internal dynamics are. The internal politics of some projects are practically feudal dictatorships, with a corresponding steady exodus of people who get bored playing the part of peons and constantly praising the masters.) ‑ Iridescent 22:15, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
I think what makes the Berkeley/Bay Area mindset so maddening to even liberals in other US metro areas is what comes off as the inability to nuance. I’ve had a fair share of exposure to people from the different major US metro areas/academic institutions, and the “We’ll listen to you but our position is absolutely right and we’re not going to adapt our way of discussing to engage with the valid objections you raise” thing is pretty unique to SF Bay Area (and to a lesser extent NYC elites of the mindset Iri talks about.) You don’t really see that in DC/Baltimore, Boston, or Atlanta, (or Ann Arbor, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, or Austin if you want to go the public ivy route to compare to UC Berkeley.) TonyBallioni (talk) 22:34, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
I'll start by saying that I've never been to either Berkeley nor Iowa City myself, although I've been around a lot of other places in the US, including NYC, DC, Baltimore, and Boston. But, to whatever degree those Bay Area descriptions are or are not overly simplistic, and to whatever degree some WP editors are or are not insufferable, when one considers what is "mainstream", it's not equal to Portlandia. Reducing intellectualism to a kind of prissy, brittle, snootiness may well be what many Trump voters believe, but it's not what drives intellectual consensus. Yes, some WP editors are not sufficiently self-aware. But when we consider how en-wiki treats pseudoscience or quack medicine, it's entirely false to assert that the house POV is one that would be familiar in NYC but foreign in Boston. There are facts, and "alternative facts", and WP's (partial) success at distinguishing between the two goes a lot broader and deeper than just "wokeness". --Tryptofish (talk) 23:06, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, I'd agree with a lot of that. I'm certainly not criticizing intellectualism; I've spent a significant portion of my (admittedly short) life around US higher education and like that environment. I just tend to agree with Iri that there's a certain strand from the West Coast that while ideologically similar to what you'd see on some of the more prestigious East Coast and Midwestern/Southern universities, is very different in how the argument is handled. That strand tends to dominate Wikipedia from an institutional level because that's where the Foundation is HQ'd and also where they pull talent from. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:23, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
I'm wearily familiar with most of these places and am the product of a NY liberal arts program myself, and I'd say TonyBallioni's description a couple of paragraphs up is exactly correct. Yes, some Trump supporters (and some non Trump supporters) may have a stereotyped view of the Bay Area, but that stereotype exists for a reason; your Harvards and Yales may be full of self-inportant assholes but they'll leave you in no doubt just why they feel they're superior, whereas your Columbias and Berkeleys are an assembly line of people who simultaneously profess an undying faith in equality while refusing to admit the possibility that other peoples' opinions have any validity. (Trump himself didn't attend either—he went to the Wharton School—but much as he'd hate the comparison he's an exemplar of this mentality himself.) By virtue of where the WMF draws its staff and where English Wikipedia's admins tend to reside (we recruit admins from all walks of life, but those from outside these circles rarely thrive and tend to fall foul of the prevailing culture and either get disillusioned and wander off, or offend someone important and get kicked out), Wikipedia's organizational culture is absolutely marinated in this particular "consensus means everybody agrees with me" approach to negotiation. ‑ Iridescent 23:28, 8 November 2020 (UTC)
Heh. Well, it is possible to be an admin and not necessarily subscribe to the prevailing ethos of Wikipedia in its entirety ... but you need to stay out of political/cultural articles. I'm living proof of it. Pretty sure most folks i run into have no clue of my political/cultural leanings and I generally try to keep it that way. --Ealdgyth (talk) 00:07, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
I'm actually proud to say the only person to have guessed my political/cultural leanings correctly is Risker, and that was because we've had substantial interaction in off-wiki venues and she guessed it privately. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I'm both an arch-liberal bent on destroying conservatism on Wikipedia and a reactionary bent on oppressing marginalized groups depending on which POV pusher you talk to. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:18, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
Heh. I have a pretty good idea of the political/cultural leanings of most people in this section, but perhaps that's because my own political/cultural leanings tend to make me quite observant of this issue. (We Canadians are usually pretty good at it.) Nonetheless, I entirely get what Iridescent and Tony and some others are getting at about the "Berkeley mindset" and how it informs a fair amount of the Wikimedia human infrastructure. I'm still pretty unhappy that someone who is now a senior WMF executive gave me a very hard time about the fact that I keep insisting I'm a woman, as opposed to some kind of hyphenated creature. Within my lifetime, I've seen so many academic beliefs and philosophies change; my Grade 4 teacher was reprimanded for even vaguely discussing tectonic plate theory, for example. I remember the early days of AIDS, when it was taken as fact that "gayness" was a contributing factor and that women and straight people couldn't get it. I remember when "too much salt" was the cause of all that heart disease that we now know is probably because of all that sugar. I could go on and on, and I'm sure that many of the "scientific" theories that are currently making their way to the mainstream will subsequently be proven to be partly or largely wrong, and some will be proven to be dangerous. Risker (talk) 02:31, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
Salt still kills a couple million people each year.[4] What's changed is the typical diet of the people we mostly study (e.g., Americans, who eat the same amount of salt but more sugar than they did about half a century ago, rather than Chinese people, who die from sodium's effect on high blood pressure plus salt's more direct effects on causing diseases like stomach cancer. Also Germans, who eat too much salt plus too much sugar, and die more often of strokes and heart attacks than Americans). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:01, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Well, as one of those self-important assholes who went undergrad to Harvard and did a post-doc at Yale, myself, I'm not going to claim to be superior to any of you, and I'm reasonably willing to engage with editors who disagree with me without feeling any need for me to "pull rank". Indeed, one of the ways in which I regard editing here is that, in neuroscience, which is the topic area corresponding with my professional expertise, I genuinely believe that I will support a good edit by a child and revert a mistaken edit by a Nobel laureate. And that's something I like about Wikipedia. But as a long-term (and now recovering) university professor, I will maintain – adamantly! – that content should be determined by reality and not popular vote, and by reasoned discussion and not by just why I feel I'm superior. Put another way, I'll leave you with no doubt as to my reasoning for any argument that I'll make, but I don't think that makes me superior to anyone else. Class dismissed. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:23, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
Returning to the matter of WP:Ignore All Rules, my impression is that it is rarely invoked overtly anymore. Back in the Stone Age, IAR was invoked far more regularly than it is now, & often on reasonable grounds. (Mostly to avoid the example our host cites above.) But then came the man I mentioned in another thread (look for the string "none dare call it treason") & whom Iridescent refuses to mention, who managed to abuse the stuffings out of it at every turn to steamroller his interpretation of policies at every turn. Now no serious Wikipedian dare invoke IAR. Which is a shame, since IAR would be useful to encourage people to hold on to the rules, but not too tightly. (For example, since use of secondary sources are preferred/encouraged on Wikipedia, many construe this policy to mean primary sources should not be used at all -- not at all the intent of this rule.) -- llywrch (talk) 22:49, 9 November 2020 (UTC)
I have been invoking WP:Ignore All Rules for trying (not very sucessfully) to get academics in my field to contribute to Wikipedia. See this tutorial. Sylvain Ribault (talk) 13:02, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
There's quite a lot of low-level invoking IAR regarding sourcing as well. The current complicated policy regarding self-published sources—Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established subject-matter expert, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable, independent publications. Exercise caution when using such sources: if the information in question is suitable for inclusion, someone else will probably have published it in independent reliable sources.—doesn't cover those situations where someone is unquestionably an expert but chooses to publish themselves rather than go through traditional publishing routes. (Occasionally, the topic is something that doesn't suit the academic journals but doesn't have the appeal for book publishers to pick it up, such as niche sports, so the expert just puts it on their website as a public service. Less often but still not infrequently, the author is rich and successful enough that they no longer need the money or status that comes with traditional publishing, and prefer to self-publish even at a loss as it allows them to include a level of detail that they see as a service to readers, but makes the books too bulky and technical to be commercially viable; Clive Foxell is one who springs to mind. Probably most frequently is when the author is writing in an endangered language, and refuses on principle to allow translation because he or she wants to encourage people to use that language; in places like Swansea or Galway—and I assume Iqaluit, Cottbus, Graubünden etc—even the big chain bookstores invariably have a section filled with books in the local language, most of which are self-published or published by tiny indie outfits not because they're unreliable but because the Random Houses of the world don't see profit in catering for languages with only a small number of speakers.) ‑ Iridescent 22:14, 11 November 2020 (UTC)
At one time, I think, the community more broadly that our sourcing policies are something of a necessary evil–argumentum ab auctoritate as principle, because (quite reasonably) Brandolini's law makes it impossible to sustain what I suppose was Jimmy's original dialectical vision. Of late I feel like there's been a shift towards regarding those policies as a positive good, rather than the least-bad heuristic for ensuring the truthfulness of information within our collective limitations. Unfortunately, I think this is largely driven by external epistemic fragmentation. I would agree with your remarks on how we, in practice, set "NPOV", and that this is usually the least-worst option. However, trying to defend that consensus seems to be driving us in a direction where "Is this correct, regardless of whether the source meets our heuristic?" is seen as suspicious, and an attempt to do an end-run around the question of "Is it germane and salient?" I can rationalize this as the price of keeping our hot-button political and social articles from going (to my sensibilities) completely bugfuck insane, but it's pretty grating to me when that gets used to bulldoze sources of the sort you're talking about. Choess (talk) 04:17, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
Oooohh, I have a new favourite word. Thanks, Choess. Risker (talk) 04:42, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
I'd say the shift from regarding policies as the least-worst option to a positive good probably reflects a shift in the community. Back in Wild West days, as with the real Wild West there was a vague ethos that we were building something new and the only laws should be the bare minimum necessary to keep things running smoothly. (Also as with the real Wild West, it gave far too much power to the local sheriff—admins and the self-appointed power users had a habit of appointing themselves untouchable dictators of their preferred subject area and making things very unpleasant for anyone who questioned them.) The people joining since c. 2010 are people who either grew up with Wikipedia or at least have been using it for years, and see The Rules as a valuable tool for keeping the project in the form that attracted them in the first place and for ensuring that if things do change, they change in a particular steerable direction.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing. The decline in the invoking of IAR may be a brake on creativity, but I doubt anybody really wants en-wikipedia to end up like some of the sister projects where a reigning elite does whatever the hell they like, and whatever they do becomes "policy" because everybody else is too afraid to stick their head above the parapet to challenge them. ‑ Iridescent 06:53, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
I think that we have more support for "the rules" but less understanding of the purpose of any individual rule. For example, what's the point of WP:V? It says right in the first sentence that the purpose is so that "other people using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source". That "a reliable source", not "the exact reliable source that the editor had in hand/mind while writing that sentence", and yet some editors complain that unless a source is cited at the end of the sentence, nobody can possibly verify the information. (And if you do supply a source, then they want one that's free and online; and when you provide a citation to a reliable source that's available online, and the link dies, then they start over with the belief that nobody is capable of verifying that content any longer, because editors can't possibly be expected to ask their favorite web search engine before assuming that everything in the article is wrong.
Or the editor disagrees that the source is reliable on some formal grounds, like not being labeled as a review article in PubMed, even though you're talking about content that is next door to sky-is-blue, or the source gets declared "generally unreliable", sometimes on fairly dubious grounds ("It's a Chinese newspaper, so it's hopelessly biased for any and all purposes, including the names and titles of various Chinese officials"), and someone blanks all the citations but not the content, and now nobody knows where that content came from.
I think that if we had a shared understanding that the purpose of WP:V (and related rules) was to promote good article content, and not to look fancy in the ==References== section, that we would see a lot fewer pointless disputes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:26, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
I got earnestly told relatively recently that the Daily Mail wasn't a reliable source for the text of a Daily Mail article, because Rules. Never underestimate how literally some people interpret the rules. ‑ Iridescent 17:36, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
Seeing who removed the text, I can only admit that not all of us who were part of Wikipedia pre-2010 have an inside track on The True Path of Wikipedia. -- llywrch (talk) 22:18, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
Returning to Choess' comment about "Jimmy's original dialectical vision" (which in the last year might actually be something Larry Sanger originally formulated), having participated in a small part in the idea of reporting what the "reliable" secondary sources say, & not attempting to synthesize primary ones, I can affirm that the goal was to establish clear & precise rules that would keep cranks & their ideas out of Wikipedia. We would put faith in peer-reviewed articles, & books from reliable publishers (assuming they were properly fact-checked, or at least given the once over by someone knowledgeable about the subject) we would not have to worry about someone trying to force in their own crazy beliefs (e.g., that Brooklyn was founded by survivors of the lost continent of Atlantis). Provide just the facts, & no reasonable person would object to what was written. This was an optimistic idea, but of course it didn't work. On one hand, any set of rules intended to keep out certain beliefs will fail in proportion with the determination of those professing said beliefs. On the other, the rules excluded otherwise reliable sources that common sense would affirm are allowable.
We could rely on the method that groups outside of Wikipedia use -- of allowing the various parties present arguments supporting their beliefs & interpretations -- but this is what Usenet had done. Many of the people involved in formulating this had experience with the "anything goes" environment of Usenet was not conductive to writing a useful reference work where "anyone can edit". We'd be dealing with the same menagerie of kooks, fanatics, & bad faith actors here who were degrading Usenet. One could say we jumped from the frying pan into the fire; I prefer to say it was a choice of six of one, or half-dozen of the other. Some mechanism had to be put in place, & the options we had were flawed, just in different ways.
To rephrase what I wrote above about IAR, any set of rules concerning verifiability ought to work -- as long as those rules are not held too tightly. We're here to provide a source of information that is as accurate as possible, & this ought to be our goal, not devotion to a set of rules. Unfortunately, there are people who insist that rules should be followed to the letter, even if the letter killeth, while others believe peer pressure from a select group is the only viable solution. Moderation doesn't attract enthusiasm. -- llywrch (talk) 23:10, 12 November 2020 (UTC)
This is obviously not a thought original to me but it bears repeating: because the articles that come to notice are the places where the system breaks down, it's easy to forget that most of the time the system works fine. A quick machine-gunning of Special:Random brought me Florin Cotora, Newtown, Victoria (Golden Plains Shire), Eudendrium nodosum, Tirur railway station, The Pitts, Kitano temple ruins, Md. Saifur Rahman, Phil Andrew, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass and Misaki Ohata—of that ten, I'd say eight are non-problematic (although I'd question whether a lot of these really need their own stubby articles rather than being entries on a list), none of them have even the slightest whiff of the dread Paid Editing, and only one is seriously out of kilter with the existing rules.
This exercise does in some way illustrate one of my regular Cassandraisms; three of those are stubs created in the past year. The combination of a static number of editors with a declining and a steadly growing number of pages will one day end with our becoming unmanageable. (It's not helped by the ossification of the admin corps. The nominal number of active admins dropped to around 500 during Framageddon, and has hovered around that point ever since, but that masks the facts that a lot of that number are no longer particularly active in adminny areas, and that the lack of new admins since around 2010 means that with each year that passes the admins become a little more detached from the concerns of the current group of editors.) ‑ Iridescent 10:34, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
I recently invoked IAR to pass Augustin-Jean Fresnel as a GA even though it is about 20,000 words long and should be split, per WP:SUMMARY. The nominator is clearly more of an expert on Fresnel than anyone else ever likely to edit here, and from the talk page it was apparent they really didn't want to create e.g. Scientific achievements of Augustin-Jean Fresnel or whatever it would have taken. I think the encyclopedia is better off with an article that is larger than our rules say it should be, and with a nominator who continues to contribute, than it would be if I risked driving the nominator away by forcing them to shoehorn material into smaller articles -- which they would likely have refused to do, accepting a GA fail instead, which I also think would have been a poor outcome for the encyclopedia. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:29, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
<Flashbacks to the debate on whether to split or not African humid period> Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 12:06, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Or indeed Ceilings of the Natural History Museum, which not only violates the Wikipedia:Article size guideline and has only the most tenuous relationship to the non-binding suggestions that comprise the Manual of Style, but technically violates the sacred Wikipedia:Verifiability. (When it comes to botanical art, particularly British botanical art, the publishing arms of the Natural History Museum and Kew are the only players in town. It would literally be impossible to write about an artwork associated with either without technically violating the rules relating to publishers being independent of the subject.) ‑ Iridescent 14:38, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
That is true-ish for most art in big museums, except the really, really famous. Even when there are "independent" sources, those associated with the museum will normally be much the best. The references at for example Royal Gold Cup or Waddesdon Bequest (two British Museum FAs of mine) illustrate this. Usually newspaper coverage will just repeat a museum press release, adding some errors in. In the earlyish days after the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, there was a preference from some "purists" (User:Pigsonthewing for one) for using incompetent newspaper write-ups of a press conference by a line-up of experts, that was fully online - all 40 minutes. Fortunately, most editors seem to realize this isn't a problem, and tagging or complaining about it is fairly rare. One area where the "rules" are generally ignored. Johnbod (talk) 15:12, 13 November 2020 (UTC)

Arbitrary ease-of-scrolling breakEdit

See the Hope example I give some way up. We currently have the ridiculous situation where we can quote what a book quotes the Daily Mail as saying, but we can't either quote the Daily Mail directly nor link to the article in question so readers can verify that the Mail said it, thanks to a couple of obsessives who give the impression that they think any kind of linking to the Daily Mail or Fox News will somehow allow right-wing fumes to leak into Wikipedia. (Not an exaggeration; one of them now seems to have retired, but WRT the one who remaims literally the only thing he does is wander around Wikipedia trying to hide any mention of the Daily Mail, regardless of context.) The group of people who think IAR is something that only applies to them—and that they can do whatever the hell they feel like but everyone else has to obey even the most obscure essay with absolute strict compliance—may be small numerically, but because they're such obsessives a lot of them have managed to worm themselves into positions of authority, or at least have managed to bully and intimidate enough people to acquire pseudoauthority.
FWIW I disagree that for most art in big museums the museum is the best source. In my experience the best sources on individual artworks are pretty consistently the catalogs of exhibitions that have loaned said artwork. Muesum curators sometimes (understandably) get a bit overblown about how unique and wonderful the items in their collection are; the people writing exhibition catalogs take a more detached view and have the luxury of being able to explain why people don't like a particular item as well as why they do, and also have a better opportunity to put the artwork in question in some kind of context. ‑ Iridescent 16:00, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Indeed yes, on the Daily Mail, though one big argument against using them in normal circumstances is that they recycle their link adresses after a year or two. One link I added in the old days to a story about a metal-detecting find linked to a football transfer story by the next time I looked at it. None of that with The Guardian. I half agree re catalogues, though some exhibition curators can be pushing their own sometimes wacky views & in my experience are at least as likely to puff up objects as be realistically modest. Or they are the same people anyway - the Paris exhibition entry on the Royal Gold Cup was by its BM curator. One has to be more careful with smaller museums, but the very big ones have so much stuff they can easily afford to be honest. The recent BM book on the Waddesdon Bequest by their then curator (and WP's friend) Dora Thornton, was very honest about the large number of smaller pieces now reassessed as having a lot of later work, or being downright fakes. Johnbod (talk) 16:15, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
PS, better remind us where the Hope example was - there's a lot of hope on this page - 21 hits - but I can't see anything on the Watts. Johnbod (talk) 16:20, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Search for "I got earnestly told" in this thread.
That would be the Waddesdon Bequest from Waddesdon Manor, the construction of which was made feasible by the Brill Tramway. Everything is interconnected. ‑ Iridescent 16:25, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
On the topic of the Waddesdon Bequest, regarding Until the Chinese ceramics collection of the Percival David Foundation moved to the British Museum the Waddesdon Bequest was the only collection segregated in this way I imagine the shades of the Earl of Elgin and Joseph Duveen would disagree most strongly. ‑ Iridescent 16:36, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Not really; the Elgin Marbles were bought without any restrictions on display, & the Parthenon stuff was displayed already separately for a century before Duveen's much improved home for them, for good reasons. I think I'm right in saying that not absolutely all the Elgin purchase is displayed in the Duveen Gallery, and not everything in the gallery was bought from Elgin. But the Parthenon stuff is all from a single building, and would naturally be put together, whereas the Waddesdon and David collections are both very diverse within their areas. Johnbod (talk) 17:56, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Regarding the "independent sources" thing, sometimes I think that it's less a matter of IAR and more like "the policy doesn't actually say that". WP:V discusses that articles should rely on independent sources but does not categorically say "dependent = unreliable" and WP:NOR explicitly notes that "secondary" does not imply "independent". It's really WP:NPOV and WP:PROMO which carry most of the independent sources practice but no blanket ban. JoJo Eumerus mobile (main talk) 16:42, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
The policy actually does say that. With regards to self-published sources, it's unambiguous that Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established subject-matter expert, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable, independent publications. (formatting in the original); the issue with curators is that it's not at all unusual for all their work to have been published by the institution for which they work, and hence even when they're unquestionably the leading expert in their field they don't count as "experts" in Wikipedia's idiosyncratic view. (The phenomenon isn't unique to museums, but it's particularly acute there in that they're writing about things which the museum profits from people coming to see. If you don't think people will claim that constitutes a conflict of interest and renders them unusable as sources, you're seriously underestimating just how single-mindedly some of the Defender Of The Wiki looneys will try to enforce the letter of the law.) ‑ Iridescent 16:58, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Well, I don't know about anyone else but I don't think that all dependent sources are automatically self-published ... although the policy page seems to have a fairly expansive definition of "self published". Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 19:33, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
The original reason for imposing a maximum length on an article was that some browsers had problems displaying web pages 32K & larger in size. By 2007 or 2010 (I forget the exact year), practically no one was using those obsolescent browsers, so that rule was dropped. But there are good reasons for setting a maximum limit on articles. For one thing, it forces people to be thoughtful & focused in what they write -- e.g. it is much harder to write 100 or even 500 words on most significant topics than it is to write a few thousand. Another is that some topics are better handled with a general article with one or more daughter articles on specific subtopics. And this rule is the stick I will use some day to divide List of Roman Consuls into three smaller, more easily handled list articles -- as every other Wikipedia does except for the German one. (The reasons I haven't pushed this thru yet are mostly technical, e.g. which year should be chosen as the dividing point between the Empire & Republic: 44 BC, the death of Julius Caesar; 31 BC, the Battle of Actium; 27 BC, when Augustus imposed his first reform of the Roman constitution; or 23 BC, when he imposed his second & final reform? One could even argue that the best date for this division is the death of Augustus in AD 14, but there would undeniably be pushback for that choice, no matter how eloquent the arguments are for it. There is no clear moment in time when the Republic officially came to an end & was replaced by the Empire; subterfuge was required to successfully effect the transition. Even then the Republic persisted: many political incidents of the Roman Empire of the First Century AD are better understood if explained in the mindset of the Republic, rather than of the Empire.) Rules only work if applied with common sense, which often appears to be in short supply, & was the reason for the rules to begin with. -- llywrch (talk) 16:48, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
The WMF have some research somewhere (WAID did link to it but I forget where) demonstrating that each paragraph gets fewer readers than the one before, and that almost nobody reaches the end of long articles. I question the conclusion and suspect that it's an artefact of some people reading until they find the particular fact they were looking for rather than people getting bored, but it's at least a potential argument against long articles.
Brill Tramway in mobile view
The counterargument is that a long article is more useful to the reader than two short ones. It allows readers to see the full scope of the topic rather than a single aspect of it, and there's no risk of people not noticing that they're only seeing one part of the topic and failing to read the rest. For something like an artist's biography, or a historical article with lots of maps, it also has the advantage that one can grasp an overview of change in the images just by scrolling, something that's lost when the article is split. (Sticking with Brill Tramway, even without reading a word of the text one would get an idea of its impact on the surrounding area just by scrolling down and looking at the changing maps.)
The whole "article length" argument is losing traction daily; mobile views have now overtaken desktop and there's no indication they won't continue to rise (the spikes in desktop views in April and October 2020 are the covid lockdowns, not some kind of anti-mobile backlash) and on mobile view the sections are collapsed by default so the reader only reads the parts they want to read. (See right.)
In the mobile view one huge article is actually much more of a service to readers than multiple short ones, as they can see all the sections listed together and choose which parts they want to read, rather than having to navigate to multiple pages (the links to which won't be obvious as they'll be in the collapsed sections, so the readers will likely not even know the subpages exist). I hate mobile view with a passion and think it actually deserves a considerably greater share of the general anti-WMF sentiment than does MediaViewer or VisualEditor, but the fact is that we're stuck with it, and as long as we are stuck with it we need to cater for readers using it. Yes I fully appreciate the hypocricy of my saying we need to accommodate mobile view given that this talkpage is configured to make it uneditable in mobile view, but this talkpage is aimed at other editors and no sane person edits in mobile view.
(This is most definitely not my field, but my understanding was that right through to 1453 (and even to 1921 taking the Ottomans as a successor state) the institutions of the late Empire are best understood as Republican institutions, in which a number of nominally independent and elected positions just happened all to be held by the same guy, who always got re-elected.) ‑ Iridescent 17:32, 13 November 2020 (UTC)

Break: NPOV imagesEdit

At some point I read For instance, if Wikipedia genuinely practiced what the WMF preaches about the views of both academics and readers in Lagos, Lahore or Lima being of equal value to that of both academics and readers in Los Angeles, London or Lisbon, such articles as Homosexuality would look radically different which got me thinking about the extreme lengths we would have to go to in order to present a real "neutral point of view". One thing that came to mind was the use of lead images. Because, at least in my mind, using Guerrillero Heroico as the lead image for Guevara is a rough equivalent to using the Barack Obama "Hope" poster for Obama's page. The use of an iconic, archetypal image of "noble rebellion" surely violates the NPOV as a nod to the positive perspective of Guevara's controversial legacy; although I wouldn't dare bring this up on the talk page there. Speaking of Obama, surely using a state produced "official portrait" (aka American propaganda) garners a unneutral positive opinion of him. I don't know, am rambling onto conspiracy theories here or reality over what NPOV would look like if religiously followed? Aza24 (talk) 06:02, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
In the case of Guevara, I'm not sure I agree. Guerrillero Heroico may be propaganda, but it's nonetheless an undoctored photo that shows the subject how he actually looked; the equivalent to using the Hope poster to illustrate Obama would be using File:22.Casa Sandinista de Granada (9).JPG to illustrate Che Guevara. A reasonable case could be made that this is Guevara's de facto "official photo", and as such our use of it is no different to our using File:Donald Trump official portrait.jpg to illustrate Donald Trump, even though the official photo was presumably chosen by the man himself or his aides as the one he felt showed him at his best.
Denis Irwin zealously guards his image rights and refuses to release photos for re-use; as such, for many years this has been how he appears on The Sixth Most Visited Website In The World™. Prior to 2007, he had no illustration at all because nobody could find even a poor-quality photo that the photographer was willing to release. This is what Irwin actually looked like.
When free-use official portraits of the subject exist, we're consistent in preferring their use as the lead image in biographies, from Vladimir Putin to Napoleon to Queen Victoria to Adolf Hitler; it's not a matter of pandering to American propaganda. That some high-profile public figures like Kim Jong-un and Taylor Swift—and above all Denis Irwin, Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey—have terrible lead photos isn't a matter of Wikipedia being biased against them; it's that these are people who refuse to release a decent-quality picture under a Wikipedia-compatible licence so we're forced to use amateur snapshots.
In the specific case of Guevara, he lived in a poor country where photography wasn't particularly common (and most of the photographers who did take a photo of him are aware that they're sitting on valuable rights and have no intention of releasing anything into the public domain). If we were to decide to use a different photo, this is what we have to work with. ‑ Iridescent 07:06, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
I think Justin Herbert wins for worst picture; the current picture is actually an improvement over what we had in September [5]. power~enwiki (π, ν) 07:14, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Until December 2012 this rather splendid image was the only one we had of Greg Dyke, the director-general of the BBC from January 2000 to January 2004, chancellor of the University of York from 2004 to 2015 and chairman of the British Film Institute between 2008 and 2016, etc etc. Lots of material for Xmas online quizzes in this section (what do Kim Jong-un, Taylor Swift, Denis Irwin, Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey have in common? - keep it up. Johnbod (talk) 14:33, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Definite honorable mention to Bert Trautmann. ‑ Iridescent 15:12, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Before Kim Jong-un visited Moscow and the Russian government released a photo of his visit under a Wikipedia-compatible licence, his biography alternated between these two hilariously bad drawings, depending on which side of the edit-war was winning at the time. ‑ Iridescent 07:27, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
As much as I recognize the difficulty that obtaining appropriate images present, propaganda is propaganda. I'm not sure I follow the comparison of the Obama poster to those murals. Both Guerrillero Heroico and the Hope poster were created by someone who had the explicit intention to present their subject in a positive light (Pretty extremely according to Guerrillero Heroico#Alberto Korda). In that sense it's in no way a neutral light and even more dangerous for the many readers that just read the first paragraph of Guevara (which is neutral enough), but then glance at the noticeably optimistic image of a man valiantly gazing in the distance. I'm not sure undoctored photos are an excuse for this either; I think the proposition of a photo of Hitler with a thumbs up as his lead image wouldn't exactly get by with the argument that it's an "undoctored photo that shows the subject how he actually looked". Then again, plenty of photos exist of Hitler and as you've said, the state of Guevara photos makes this a more difficult question.
The ridiculousness of that Kim Jung-un edit warring is the kind of thing that makes me love Wikipedia. I would say that Kim's current picture is ideal for a world leader in terms of neutrality; I've always thought Xi Jinping's photo has a weirdly positive light, albeit in a creepy sort of way. Though Kim's picture makes me wonder if we would match Obama by using an official portrait were Kim were to release one freely (I'm not aware that he has). Aza24 (talk) 07:36, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Kim hasn't released an official portrait under a Wikipedia-compatible licence—the DPRK takes the view that releasing images under a licence that permits modification might lead to people using it in disrespectful ways. If they were to do so, I've no doubt at all that it would be the photo we'd use; we consistently prefer using the official photo if one exists, even in those cases like Vajiralongkorn or Jeremy Corbyn where the official portrait makes the subject look like a total goofball. I really don't see "the explicit intention to present their subject in a positive light" as a valid argument—anyone commissioned to take an official photograph or paint an official portrait has the intention of presenting their subject in a positive light. ‑ Iridescent 07:51, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Maybe so, but using a portrait that is iconic to the point that it has its own WP article and serves as an international representation of rebellion is miles away from using a standard official Presidential portrait. Aza24 (talk) 08:10, 21 November 2020 (UTC)

Break: Yngvadottir thread (þread?)Edit

  • This talk page has moved away from uncomfortable issues of adminship, in my off-wiki task I've battled my way through clouds of unnormalised text on Google Books and otherwise online to track down something inexplicably not dealt with by any except one secondary source with extremely lackadaisical referencing (although I am yet again tempted to find a way to break into the library at Stanford and just look up the unobtainable edition) and I have my evening cup of coffee, so I'm going to risk sticking my head in here. I shouldn't comment on Berkeley/Columbia attitudes; Oxford tried and failed to mould my opinions, Cornell gave me a degree and got rid of me with relief, and I now live in Silly Valley, where I hope I have never run into Vigilant at the supermarket (but some of the things he writes at the Unnameable Site suggest he's actually in San Jose or San Francisco). But you may recall my coming here some time ago inveighing against political and religious user boxes, and I've since in vain spoken up for their wholesale culling rather than on a wrongthink basis. And I've recently tried twice to point out on Meta that the WMF already restrict access to their advisory processes for many of the groups they would like to give preferential treatment, including women, by holding all those face-to-face events in security buildings and thus requiring real-name ID, and that substituting Zoom will make this worse, not better. It's impossible to know, and I want very much for it to stay that way, but I suspect that at least until teachers started recommending Wikipedia and social media "influencers" gained wide appeal, the editing group was very heavy on university faculty and museum/gallery experts of advancing years and highly educated women and others working from home, and that the impression of general youthfulness was because younger editors more commonly revealed their age, inadvertently or not, and because certain topics, particularly those directly related to computers (including video games) disproportionately attracted young editors. The old "Be bold" adage, now appalling to many editors, wasn't just because the encyclopedia had a lot of obvious gaps for quite a while: it was because we used to value expertise and trust in crowdsourcing to polish the resulting articles. As someone who works with literature and myth, I've long thought it telling that there's almost no one left who claims to be a WikiDragon (Userbox 1, Userbox 2). I find the first version of that article mischaracterised WikiGnomes, to my mind, but otherwise pretty clearly represented an ethos of respect for their authoritative creations "out of thin air"; now we're told in the aummary article that they tend to be "clumsy or overconfident". And the WikiKnight hunts the dragon who strays from "outlying areas, such as minor members of the English aristocracy, SoHo, and obscure villages in France" to "[lay] waste to carefully crafted cities of WikiWisdom". The WikiKnight article was started after the WikiDragon one, and initially had a concession, the dragon having originally provided "much-needed oppurtunities [sic] for urban clearance". That narrative of the knight defending the wiki from article creation as somehow destructive to carefully constructed knowledge is, frankly, disgusting, and prototypical of the attitude of "Protect the community even at the expense of the encyclopedia" that's been shoved in my and others' faces a few times: as if somebody who takes the time to give us an article isn't part of the community. But if I were to fly any flag, it would have to be the gryphon, and since I no longer contribute new articles thanks to the WMF, I don't really fit that any more, either. Probably closest to a WikiDraugr.
Since this is not a planned work, and since experts disagree (and opinions can change, and things can evolve), I have to disagree with any absolute stances on whether we should have big overview articles or single articles on sub-topics. Especially given the change to the browser situation and the rise of mobile viewing, both of which you mention, I think that's just another respect in which FA and GA guidelines are silly. Since my weird interests and willingness to read foreign languages make me more aware than most of how full of holes our coverage still is, I regard it as one of our problems that editors tend to write up a tiny instance and nobody writes the big article: for example, when I wrote Vienna Museum, we had independent articles on maybe half the constituent elements, but no indication they belonged to an overarching institution. Alternatively, we have the bare list, which when it has redlinks at least suggests that there's work to be done (Þáttr), but IIRC when I first came upon Vienna U-Bahn it included a list of the stations, one or two of which were bluelinks and the rest plain text. All the old stations in that network are architecturally significant, and the art works make the new ones worth an article, too. But I got a lot of push-back when I pointed out the lack of those articles as a gap in our coverage. Meanwhile, articles I'd intended long ago to expand have been redirected out of existence; West Germanic peoples is a matter of scholarly disagreement (there's material on the role of kingship), but a sad example is that somewhere there was a woeful article on the Sigurd cycle, and I think it's vanished as an ill-informed redirect to Völsunga saga. And look at the learned disagreements below on dividing up the development of the Roman polity. IMO it's counter-productive to make rules for length of articles and when to split and when to combine, so long as we remain crowdsourced.
On the relatively trivial but indicative Daily Mail point: your mention of someone single-mindedly culling references to the Mail prompted me to look at an article I exhumed some years ago, and sure enough, to revert such a change and get re-reverted, so that now the article cites only regurgitations of the Mail piece (and doesn't have a link to one of the best pictures of the subject). And I have no doubt the other editor who was removing all citations to Knowyourmeme, including in an article I wrote where the fact there was coverage by that site was a point of notability and a link in the development of the issue, was similarly successful in expunging the offending site. However, I'm not sure we have deprecated IAR so much as learned not to use the term because of the increasing dominance of rules freaks; I didn't even think to explicitly invoke it in my most famous use of it. But unlike many of the power players around here, I am not a lawyer or a philosopher; thanks to Choess for the point here mentioning Brandolini's Law, which bears on my long-time qualms about the workings of consensus here, but rather than a group, whetever its origins, who cannot conceive of any position other than theirs as being right because they are unassailable snobs, as an incurably woolly thinker I suspect it is more that a group of editors have learned that argument must be a forensic debate contest, about winning for your team. Which of course means that what has been decided must win. Related phenomenon to this woolly thinker: when a power player apologizes (especially a guy), that is a tremendously Big Deal and they should be rewarded for it, usually by the aggrieved party immediately dropping the matter entirely, because gee willikers, they apologized!!!1. Failure of basic collegial civility. But what do I know.
Of course meanwhile, those who regard this as just another database are doing end-runs around us: not only by the increasing number of ways our writing gets by-passed by WikiData links, such as the default WikiData short descriptions and the WikiData infoboxes, but I now see that infoboxes including schools and buildings implant a whomping huge open access map when coordinates are present. This is usually just clutter, but I recently tried to save an article on an asylum that turned out to be a convoluted story of three successive buildings on different sites, the most recent of which, now abandoned, has been confused with the preceding one and can't properly be called an asylum; that was fun, and I said in my edit summary that I couldn't decide which set of coords to add, but then other editors tried kind-heartedly to help, one by adding photos of the last building that don't specify which it is, another by adding an infobox, so now there are utterly misleading coordinates and a big pushpin map and anyone who reads my text will think I'm barmy. All in the interests of making it easier for big businesses to process our content. I can understand why some new editors don't care about our rules and guidelines, and I kick myself daily for still loving this project. Yngvadottir (talk) 03:13, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
Phew! Replying vaguely top-to-bottom, I'm going to be slightly pompous and number my comments so that if someone wants to reply to a specific point they can do so more easily (and am giving your post its own subheading for the same reason):
  1. For unobtainable editions, EEng is a useful person to know—he's something to do with Harvard, and has access to their excellent library.

    Taking this opportunity to repeat one of my usual tips for anyone considering becoming a serious Wikipedia editor: if you're able to provide any kind of UK address, sign up with the library services of the City of London and City of Westminster. You don't need any connection to either place, just be able to provide a UK address and attend a library on a single occasion with ID. They not only between them have a very broad selection of obscure books and a good track record of digitising and making things available for online borrowing; between them they also give members access to a big stack of online resources (CoL, CoW) that are superior to what most academic libraries offer their members, and City membership additionally gives you the right to access (in person only) the three voluminous archives the Corporation has accumulated over the past millennium.

  2. I flip-flop over political and religious userboxes. My heart says they're divisive and unnecessary and that we should be judging people by their contributions, not by how they describe themselves. My head says that it's genuinely useful on occasion to know an editor's biases in advance, and that if I know in advance that I'm talking to a devout Muslim, a diehard Unionist, a loyal Marxist-Leninist etc it can avoid unnecessary time-wasting talking at cross purposes. (The number of political and particularly ethno-religious userboxes on a userpage is also a reliable indicator of whether this person is someone not worth wasting my time talking to.)
We have only ourselves to blame for the public thinking that this is what Wikipedia looks like
  1. I agree totally with your comments about secure buildings and Zoom meetings. One of the key things that makes Wikipedia work even though every instinct says that shouldn't is that every editor is free to disclose as much or as little about themselves as they choose. The whole meetup-and-Wikimania culture has already created a two-tier system in which in practice those who are prepared to self-identify are more equal than others, which in turn makes white, male, able-bodied adults a de facto elite. The way the WMF has been operating recently is beginning to formalise that division. It's very definitely not helped by bullshit like this which just reinforces the impression that one needs to disclose personal information if one's to be taken seriously on Wikipedia.
  2. I doubt the editing group was very heavy on university faculty and museum/gallery experts of advancing years and highly educated women and others working from home was really the case. In the early days Wikipedia was dominated by nerds writing about what interested them, not by academics (this is the earliest surviving version of the Featured Articles list); the museum curators etc wouldn't have felt it worth their while spending time until after Wikipedia took off, since sane people don't spend time writing for a website nobody reads when they could be writing for somebody who'd pay them. I do agree that throughout Wikipedia's history, two of the unacknowledged driving forces have been "women working from home" and "shift workers whose friends are all either asleep or at work".
  3. Regarding young editors, it's probably not so much that young editors are more likely to reveal their age, but a perception bias in that young editors are more likely to make mistakes. If an article has 50 edits in the history, you're unlikely to notice let alone remember the name of the person who made a non-contentious correction. You will notice and you will remember the person who inserts an obvious error and insists on defending it because it's what their teacher told them; repeat that often enough and you'll come away convinced that Wikipedia has been over-run by obnoxious infants.

    (The above isn't some kind of anti-child rant. When they're willing to follow our rules, and particularly when they have the supervision of a patient adult, Wikipedia and children mix very well. Wikipedia:WikiProject AP Biology 2009 and particularly Bog turtle is one of the best examples of Wikipedia working as it should.)

  4. I'm not very convinced the whole WikiFauna distinctions are very useful. If a WikiDragon is one who makes dramatic, bold, and often grandiose edits then I'm a dragon, but I'm also the same person who racked up 1500 edits yesterday standardising the formatting on articles that mixed curly and straight quotes.

    (That WikiKnight essay is an unfunny joke, but there's a grain of truth in it. When people edit high-traffic articles on big topics as a single big edit rather than a bunch of smaller ones each with a clear edit summary, it can be an industrial-grade PITA; one has to read the whole thing to see what they've changed, and if they do insert an error or bias it means it has to be re-written manually rather than just reverting the one problematic part and leaving the rest alone.)

  5. I've said it before, but IMO the fact that we're better at covering the tiny instance than we are at covering the big article is a feature, not a bug. If Vienna U-Bahn were a redlink, the reader would still have no trouble finding out whatever they wanted to know about it just with 30 seconds on Google, but the same isn't the case with the stations; to me, expanding U4 (Vienna U-Bahn) or Roßauer Lände (Vienna U-Bahn) is more of a service to the reader than would be expanding the parent article. It's why I think things like WP:Vital articles are fundamentally misplaced—to my mind, the most important thing to consider when deciding whether an article on a given topic is worthwhile is "would an article on this topic actually be helpful to a reader who wanted to know about the topic?" rather than "is this topic important?".
  6. I can't comment on Sigurd, but I have to disagree on the topic of dividing Roman lists. 2206 or 2675 years (depending on what one includes) is a loooooong time; yes, length limits are outdated, but equally we're not serving the readers by serving up something the size of EEng's talkpage when all they want to know is "who was Emperor at the time of the Norman invasion of Ireland?" (There are also more prosaic factors like template limits to consider; mega-articles like International recognition of Kosovo can crash the servers at the WMF end.)
  7. Regarding I suspect it is more that a group of editors have learned that argument must be a forensic debate contest, about winning for your team. Which of course means that what has been decided must win, this possibly relates to one of my pet theories, that for reasons unknown a hell of a lot of people on Wikipedia have an astonishingly inflated opinion of lawyers and doctors. Yes, both are skilled and highly-trained people who provide a necessary function, but the same could be said of exterminators, accountants and cheesemakers. Nobody ever tried to settle a Wikipedia argument with "it must be true, a videogame coder said so!".
  8. Don't get me started on those awful maps that have started appearing in infoboxes. I have no problem with the principle of including a map—in many cases it's genuinely useful to readers to know exactly where something is—but these shitty OpenStreetMap maps are so crude and inaccurate that they're less use than just including a raw link to GeoHack to allow people to choose for themselves which mapping service they want to use. (At one point the WMF wanted to replace that screen with a direct link to OpenStreetMap, prompting an industrial-strength rant from me. At least for the moment, they've held off on doing so. Ah, I see they've conningly snuck the direct link in as an unlabelled icon that pops up in front of the wikilink; at some point they'll presumably conveniently ignore the fact that nobody's noticed this change, and use "well, nobody complained" as a pretext to force-change the entire link.)
  9. You're misunderstanding Wikidata if you think the primary aim is to make it easier for businesses to process our content. The primary aim is to make it easier for those pushing it to take cash from business to tell them how to process our content.
Arbitrary break-within-a-breakEdit
I think that's everything, but more if I notice anything I've missed. And this is why this talkpage is getting long… ‑ Iridescent 10:23, 15 November 2020 (UTC)
On (1), sadly, COVID regulations and IDs with addresses. Not to knock Harvard (or EEng), particularly since the Harvard libraries are shut just like the Stanford, Berzerkeley, and the one I had access to, San Jose State (and many universities, including most of those in my interlibrary loan group, are not doing interlibrary loan either); I'd actually considered asking EEng to nip into Widener and tell me exactly what the title-page of this book says—but it serves as a useful example: Harvard has Elizabeth Ashman Rowe's 2005 book, which turns out to not be an edition as I have thought it was, and after reading a review I think it's unlikely to answer my question, which is what might be the source of the startling hof interior scene in the Járn-Skeggi/Mærin episode of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar hin mesta. They do have the 1860–68 edition, which is what everybody habitually refers to, but that is somewhat lacking in apparatus, and after a lot of chasing around (for some reason, possibly because it's the only volume where the editors are identified, Google initially vomits up Vol. 3; the saga in question is in Vol. 1), I did find it in Google Books: ch. 268, kerrunni works as a search. And the text from that is online at this invaluable site. But there is apparently a 4-volume 1944 Icelandic edition, and only York will admit to having that. And a 2014 Norwegian 2-volume version for which Ashman Rowe is an editor that is probably a translation, but who knows; only listed by Norwegian libraries. And a new Icelandic edition in prep as of 2007. I will have to wing it, unless I bug Haukurth. Meanwhile, COVID restrictions also mean I can't photocopy anything, so I have actually begun acquiring antiquarian books that I didn't already have; we live in a wonderful world where everything is topsy-turvy.
On (4), I was thinking the dragons included more like Giano than the WMF snoops know. (I was actually alerted to Wikipedia via an e-list, probably in 2002 or 2003, where the poster suggested we all jump in and mould coverage in our field. I thought at the time not that I didn't have time but that writing an encyclopaedia didn't sound like much fun. Heh.)
On (5), enough new editors have felt compelled to put their birthdates on their user pages or their birth years in their account names that my overall impression is that they're older than the students who used to tell me "My teacher told me never to use apostrophes because they are obsolete", "I was absent the week we did astronomy, how can I be expected to know the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa", and so on. But, well, fair enough. I am blessed with a disorganised mind that makes it relatively easy for me to forget when people reveal too much.
On (6), but isn't it horribly indicative of how far we've strayed? Probably because I try to stay away from the buzz-saw topics, I hadn't thought of the problem of figuring out what someone did in a massive edit to an established article, although I've had to deal once or twice with people reformatting stuff all over the place so that their substantial changes are hidden in the haystack. However, the reformatting alone sometimes shuts me out; there are several fashionable referencing styles that I can't handle, and people who apply them always seem to do so in a series of little edits, going back to make the actual reference at the bottom after already invoking it above, etc. For me that makes it worse, because I never know when they're going to finish their strafing run changes so I can fix spelling errors, reinstate qualifiers, etc. There are many reasons I tend to make big edits and often need every letter of the edit summary, but the main one is that I write holistically: adding a piece of info may require recasting the intro, checking a ref may lead to adding more info or changing what's there, and by the time I'm done I've rewritten all or most of it, changed the order and/or the sectioning, and in the old days I might also have written a tangentially connected article, moved another article or created a redirect, and dumped a number of unused sources on the talk page.
On (7), I can see it both ways, especially since readers vary: some of our readers may not know what a subway/metro/underground railway is, in any variety of English; some may want to know what cities now have them, but have no idea what a given city calls them; some may be interested in Jugendstil architecture (or neue Sachlichkeit, for the Berlin U-Bahn). I gave an example above where the big overarching article was missing, but 2 where the little bitty articles have historically been missing and were treated differently with regards to suggestive redlinks. These probably lie on a continuum not so much of editor interest per se but of editor awareness; there aren't many of us who were shocked that "Þiðranda þáttr ok Þórhalls" didn't have an article. (I meant to use it in a rewrite that I'm more and more leery of doing.) And I created one article that I should have been the last person to write because some well-meaning ignoramus misinterpreted the fact the Viking Society edition of another work includes that one as well and created the thing as a redirect. I didn't have the heart to delete the well-intentioned incorrect redirect, so I cracked the books and wrote it up, while gagging. I wrote Reichsautobahn, for goodness' sake. People just don't know. (And so I adamantly oppose planning the encyclopaedia, and yes, I think vital articles are rather silly.)
On (8), remember I am a technical idiot. So far as I can determine, articles are overloaded with templates because the WMF pushes them like pills. I painfully taught myself to make the citation templates do most of what I need (stuff like "orig-year" and "type"), but they are still prone to throwing screaming red error messages and they keep changing: there's now no way to indicate that is the free website published by the San Francisco Chronicle, as opposed to, which is the same paper's paywalled site with a quite different set of articles, because we can't have both a publisher and a website/newspaper, oh nooooo. And don't get me started on sfn and its ilk, a pure impediment to editing and who the heck as a reader wants to scroll down to a footnote only to see they have to then find the source in a bibliography, all in tiny print? And I see "Italic title" is now used instead of an extra two pairs of apostrophes. And the infoboxes, with all their nested templates! (Those ugly maps sometimes haven't been loading for me.) And the WikiData mumbo-jumbo clutter. And like as not 3 footers and portals. Actual article prose that explains things, compared to that ocean of ick? Let it be as long as need be. (One of the few arguments for infoboxes is that they tuck away the fanboy minutiae like the engine specs of the ship, the number of teachers at the school, the athlete's height, and who operated the camera for the film out of the text where readers don't have to see them.)
On (9) I was probably being too nice to the WMF. I really do find it hard to sink to their level of assuming bad faith and ignorance. Both play a role.
On (10) Yeah ... I think people do differ in what kind of map they want to see. There may be issues of which ones load depending where you are and on what kind of device, too? But I doubt anybody ever asked for a humongous map to appear in the article. Don't they realise they're making the infoboxes even worse? I should really stop assuming they want anything other than to replace the projects with AI-generated bit-soup. Yngvadottir (talk) 05:16, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
I do have the 1944 edition but it's really just a version of the 19th century edition in normalized spelling. But maybe what you'd need is Ólafur Halldórsson critical edition of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta, which I don't have at home but do have at work. I'd be happy to help you with anything. Haukur (talk) 07:57, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
Oh wow, that exists! I might have known. Both Worldcat and the Harvard library seem bemused: how many volumes is it, is it 1958, 1961, and completion in 2000, or did it get reissued? Berkeley claims to have it but I've no legal way to get in there even pre-COVID. I really have a very simple and stupid question: has anyone proposed a source for all that material in ch. 268, where the image of Þórr isn't on a platform, but sitting in a cart on wheels, hitched to goats also on wheels, and Skeggi tempts the king to pull the silver rope on the goats' horns and and says he has enthralled himself to Þórr, the king loses his shit and gives a huge speech before smashing the god-image with his staff, and after the king's men knock down the others, Skeggi attacks them, but then the account switches back to following Snorri and he's killed outside in front of the door? That stuff. It's so outlandish, I suspect there may be more wild tales in the corresponding Óláfs saga helga that just haven't been studied. De Vries got a bit jaded and his coverage of these hagiographic stories is only patchy. Anyway, thanks, I really appreciate that, especially if you can check the notes and see if somebody connected it to something. Yngvadottir (talk) 08:56, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
I scanned the pages in question - e-mail me and I'll send them to you. It's a curious story and I don't remember reading commentaries on it. Well, there's a page here but it just dismisses the description as a late and uninteresting embellishment, as if no-one could possibly care about text composed in the 14th century: [6] The story, however, is not only preserved in GKS 1005 fol. but also in AM 62 fol. and the edition carefully cites all variation. So that's something at least. Haukur (talk) 23:22, 18 November 2020 (UTC)
Thank you very much, I will. It's odd to read that from Finnur Jónsson after all these decades of "medieval studies" being so dominated by hunting down possible Christian sources of Christian writers; someone made a pithy remark about assuming every scriptorium included the entire Patrologia Latina, with index. But I find he made exactly the same judgement I've made—with nastier adjectives in his version. (Hilda Ellis Davidson cites it in the basic handbook that I mentioned here as an example of a book with multiple titles and publication years, and a recent book for the popular market refers to her mention.) As I say, I wonder what else lurks in these baggy compendia. (For what it's worth I'm guessing the compiler got the idea of the cart from Njála 88 and ran with it.) Yngvadottir (talk) 03:44, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
Another arbitrary break-within-a-breakEdit
For the Norse stuff it might be worth nosing around in Sweden and Denmark if you haven't already. I find it hard to believe there's any significant book about the Viking period that hasn't ended up in either Stockholm, Copenhagen or Uppsala, and Sweden at least has notoriously taken a "God will know his own" approach to covid and kept the educational instututions open; provided you know what you're looking for there's probably someone who could be talked into going in and making scans. I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of results is Worldcat not playing nice with Scandi alphabets rather than the books not existing. (In 1944 Iceland had been under military occupation for four years. Did they really have no better use for paper than publishing four-volume books?)
Photocopying is so 20th-century. Download a scanner app to your phone, flip the pages going click-click-click, and the software will do all the angle correction for you making nice neat rectanglar pages. The better software has a high enough OCR standard to turn the photos into copy-pastable text, as well.
"Where did you first find out about Wikipedia" would have made an interesting Signpost feature in the days before the Signpost became the house journal of the lunatic fringe. (In my case, it was when the owner of a shitty company I'd been doing some work for had been talking with Jimmy Wales about whether IP addresses were too easy to spoof, and challenged us all to attempt to make an edit to Wikipedia that would appear in the article history as having been made by (talk · contribs · WHOIS). Before then, I'm fairly certain I never knew it existed.)
Don't fall into the trap (which we've all fallen into at some point) of assuming that numbers in usernames necessarily represent birth years. When you actually ask, they quite often turn out to refer to the squad number of a favourite sportsman, the model year of a favourite car, a year of enlistment or graduation rather than birth, or some unguessable personal reference. (My original username, User:Heavenly41, was a reference to an obscure Saint Etienne single.) Quite often, they have no significance at all, and someone will have a username like User:Nigel03 not because they were born in 2003 or because the number 03 has any significance, but because they went with the username Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/whatever auto-suggested for them at some point and subsequently decided to keep using it across all sites.
On (6), I'm certainly guilty of the "one huge edit" thing, but I almost always try to do the working as a series of small edits in a sandbox beforehand, so it's at least theoretically possible to recreate what I changed and where. (Once it becomes clear that there's not any objection, I then delete the sandbox.) I think the benefits of one-big-edit outweigh the disadvantages for reasons you mention; it avoids the awkward phase where an article is only giving one view of the topic because you haven't yet added the differing opinions, it avoids all the tinkering with formatting and image placement from clogging the edit history, and it allows me to leave placeholder notes to myself like "something about her family here" without having to worry about it making Wikipedia look ridiculous. That said, I do appreciate that it causes disadvantages, and that trying to do before-and-after comparisons on a diff like this is a nuisance to other editors.
The "visual difference" button
Standard wikitext
Visual difference
The same change, in normal diff view and with Visual Difference switched on. In the default wikitext diff view, the minor formatting change means the introduction of an error is hidden in the weeds; with Visual Difference active, the change to the text is immediately obvious. (This is one of the WMF's examples as I can't be bothered to create one of my own; there are a bunch of other examples of what it looks like in action here.)
Regarding people reformatting stuff all over the place so that their substantial changes are hidden in the haystack, I highly recommend going here and switching "Visual differences" on. It won't have any impact on your normal workflow, but when you view a diff it will give you an additional button at the top of the diff page (see right) which instead of showing the effect of the diff on the wikitext, will instead show you the effect of the diff on what the reader sees. It makes it much easier to spot whether someone is just doing cosmetic tinkering with the formatting of reference templates and line spacing, or whether they've actually made a substantive change to something. I'm not generally a fan of the WMF and still less a fan of the developers and their "we're not going to give you what you want, we're going to give you what we think you need" mentality, but for this particular tool credit where credit's due; I don't know why they don't publicise it more widely, unless it's that they know that after the earlier unpleasantness anything with "Visual" in the name will have the mob reaching for their pitchforks.
The WMF doesn't push the templates; we have only ourselves to blame for that. (All those citation templates were created voluntarily by editors; there's not a secret room in the basement at Montgomery Street filled with developers churning out templates.) I used to hate citation templates but I've now come to appreciate them although as I've said before ad nauseam I wish we could get rid of the 2000+ different citation templates and settle on a single standard format. For once, this is somewhere where I wish San Francisco would flex their muscles and demand that all the Wikipedias follow a single citation style—people would grumble for about a month until they got used to it, but the benefits of editors only having to use one system and of being able to cut-and-paste cited text between articles and citations between Wikipedias, without having to manually change the formatting of every reference, would be overwhelming. It would also make life much easier for readers, who wouldn't have to try to figure out why each article is formatted differently, and also make it much easier for people to attribute Wikipedia content correctly when they re-use it.
On whether people want maps, I disagree. For anything that has a physical location—be it a city, a mountain, a museum, a railway station, or a battlefield—"where is it? / where was it?" is among the first things people will want to know. My problem isn't with maps per se, it's that for ideological reasons (despite the millions we take from Google, Microsoft etc, heaven forbid we direct readers to a—clutches pearls—privately owned website where they might see one of those ghastly advert things, when we can do the same thing ourselves with lower accuracy and at the cost of a huge amount of effort) we're using really low quality maps which in most cases seem to be less useful than no map at all. If anyone thinks they can explain to me how the maps at Liverpool Street station or Hartville, Wyoming, for instance, are of any use to anyone unless they're already so familiar with the layout of the area that they already know exactly where it is, do feel free, while Wikimedia Maps is jawdroppingly bad. ‑ Iridescent 11:16, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
On Norse and my other eclectic interests: bop over to Scandinavia ... IF.ONLY. Sigh. The internet has done wonders for healing the gulf between Scandinavian research in the field and English-speaking, but it's still a gulf. If I get asked to try out a transporter beam setup, it'll probably be Oslo University Library. I don't think it's that Worldcat has trouble with the alt. chars., though I have a friend who works there and might ask; the data are input by the libraries themselves. Cornell appears to be not submitting Fiske Collection books; it has the 1944, not surprisingly since Bill Bjarnar was one of the editors, and the Norwegian, again not surprisingly since Rowe is one of the editors, but I can't get either to come up on Worldcat even changing my location to Ithaca. (And now I have to express the hope that no one is triangulating and has identified me who didn't already know the secret.) I'm afraid I don't have a smartphone either; you may recall that coming up when it was suggested that all admins be required to have 2FA. I've been offered one at an employee discount by a friend, but still couldn't afford it, and the things terrify me: it would have to be nominally theirs, and the employer would be perturbed by the sheer incompetence of its use (they have expressed no desire to study the responses of aged noobs to the user interface) let alone by the urban documentary Instagram use that briefly tempted me, and now you have pointed out they can be used for adventures in fair use copying. I know many techies, but I am not one.
On (5), touchée, but some numbers are suggestive :-)
On (6), thanks for the link to that beta feature; I spotted the silly vandalism immediately, and am extremely leery of turning on any beta feature, both because they might not then let me turn it off again, and because I think they keep a list of people who turn on beta features and use it to trumpet our approval of their software development, and/or spam it. But realistically speaking, since I've throttled back my participation here to such an extent, it would be hypocritical of me to pretend I help maintain the encyclopaedia any more. I've had to walk away from a group of editors who may or may not be socks and may or may not mean well, whose reverts on articles related to a more or less ill-treated area of Memphis, Tennessee have the effect of making it appear to be a place no reliable source has ever covered and where the inhabitants are incapable of writing grammatical English. Hopefully someone else will step up and reinstate the improvements I and others made, just as I hope others can make up for how little copyediting I now do.
I have to disagree with you on templates and standardising citation formats. Yes, there are lots of editors who like writing code, and they/we are partly responsible, but it's the WMF that now tells newbies in its introductory materials that they must use citation templates; I've tried to assist some who were reduced almost to tears by this supposed requirement. The WMF is behind the Wikidata clutter and is definitely pro-infobox. I remember when they used to prate about the "edit" button being a barrier to women editing—delicate flowers that we are, scared to press a button—now they expect everybody to watch a video that represents referencing as a flurry of button clicks and selections from a drop-down menu, and they can have no idea how daunting the stack of templates at the top of most articles, including the infobox but also the hatnote, the tags for problems, the date format, the protection level, and in some cases an edit notice too, before you even get to the huge wodge of gobbledy-gook that produces the infobox, looks when you peep under the hood for the first time. As for standardising formats: different fields (and parts of the world) have different conventions for referencing, on top of which there are things that are natural in books that look silly on a short article in an encyclopaedia (especially in mobile view, where subsections have to be opened separately); there are also fashions—we've seen that operating here since I came on board, with parenthetical references being met with stunned incomprehension by an increasing number of editors, and the absolutely horrible sfn format spreading out of FA and now being espoused by the same editors who used to push in-text cite templates. What'll it be next year? The movement has been in the direction of more templating, and it's truly forbidding. Those who prepare their rewrites in a sandbox, or have better short-term memories than me, may be able to do sfn, but it is a barrier I can't get past. (Partly because see (1): books on topics related to Old Norse are hard to get and many editors can't read the necessary languages, so we tend to cite popular works in English, like this one which we have in this house in 3 different editions under 2 titles, in this instance with identical text and pagination). Engol uses a referencing system that works like sfn but draws on a single bibliography; that was one of the reasons I had to decline the invitation to join it. And as a reader, I don't in the least bit like certain referencing styles; they look pompous on most articles (which are not scholarly books or even textbooks, but chances are they cite a couple of newspaper articles and a database), and they make me hunt for the information, which I don't appreciate in scholarly articles that identify their sources only in a bibliography, or books that tuck all the footnotes at the end. Even other online encyclopaedias, with their lists of "Sources", don't make me scroll up and down as if I am doing a wrist exercise, because they don't give the false promise of a footnote. If this project ever requires a particular referencing style, I believe my second foot will be out the door.
On (10), maps—that was why we were always supposed to put in coordinates, and that's one of several fiddly things I learnt how to do, with my desk littered with little pieces of paper where I'd copied strings of numbers off Google maps. But as you say yourself with reference to the maps the WMF is now adding, a displayed map is often less useful than an option to click and look at it in your preferred format. For some things I do want to see where it is within an area, like a county or the Bay Area; sometimes I want to see what street-corner is nearest. And it's not as if we should be promoting Wikipedia as a source of GPS coordinates any more than we want to try to be a source of opening times! Also, a lot of topics are associated with more than one set of coordinates—like that asylum article I had mentioned, 3 different buildings in different communities. Having a map is more misleading in that case than having coordinates, since the reader will reasonably think if it's displayed right there when the article opens, it must be information we stand by. And since other coords can always be inserted inline, tacky though it looks.
Anyway, while I was writing this, every phone in the house went off; the county has apparently been promoted to the state's highest level of COVID risk and precautions, so there went patronising my local independent bookstore via kerbside pickup, and possibly buying booze for December and possibly the expansion of this list of my interlibrary loan options. Joy unbounded. Please forgive my being even more negative than usual. Yngvadottir (talk) 03:18, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting "pop over to Scandinavia", so much as "find a friendly Dane and ask them to pop into the Kongelige Bibliotek and have a look". Wikipedia may have many faults, but what it is good at is providing a mechanism for contacting helpful people on the other side of the world.
I still wouldn't be surprised if the difficulty in searching catalogues is owing to Scandi character sets. Even if the librarians are transcribing the entries themselves, whether a librarian enters "Sigurðr", "Sigurdr", "Sigurthr" or "Sigurd" is going to be enough to fool a computer into thinking these are four different names. Most software was written with the 26-character ASCII alphabet in mind and has difficulty understanding other characters—it's why Wikipedia needs to have manually-created redirect pages at Goerlitz and Gorlitz, because MediaWiki can't understand that these are functionally the same thing as Görlitz.
A smartphone is well worth the investment, even if you rarely use it. The flagship phones from Apple etc are expensive, but as long as you don't want all the bells and whistles don't be put off by the $1000+ price tags you see advertised—the phone companies all have much cheaper ranges primarily aimed at Africa and Asia which they don't advertise in the West but which are all still available. Even if you want to avoid anything Chinese in case it suddenly stops functioning during a future trade war, you can buy a new Nokia 1.3 for less than $100; if you want a high-quality camera (worth paying the extra for) you can get a brand-new Samsung Galaxy A21 for around $150. When you consider that a decent-quality smartphone can take the place of a camera, notepad, maps, pocket calculator, videoconferencing system, TV/media player, and of course telephone, the investment is well worth it.
If you don't like little fiddly screens, a cheap tablet is also worth considering. You can get an Amazon Fire tablet for around $50 (they sell them at a loss, to try to encourage people into the Amazon ecosystem where you'll hopefully buy more products from them), and they come with a perfectly adequate camera built in and can be used for everything you'd use a smartphone for.
They keep a running total of how many people are using each gadget, but that seems perfectly reasonable to me—they want to know if something is actually being used and hence worth maintaining. AFAIK they don't keep a log of which user is using what. All the gadgets, beta features, preferences etc are all turn-offable, but in the case of the Visual Difference gadget I can't see any reason why anyone would—it doesn't change anything, all it does is add an additional button that lets you see the change in appearance rather than the change in text, so if you find it's not useful you just don't click that extra button.
I can't find anything from the WMF telling newbies that they must use citation templates. This is the "Introducing to referencing" tutorial a new editor sees. It recommends they use the RefToolbar tool rather than try to format the citations themselves—a sensible instruction as it means they don't have to try to figure out for themselves the formatting and what information needs to be included in a citation—but there's no element of compulsion at all. (The whole thing is written by Wikipedia editors, not by the WMF, for what that's worth. As I've said before, I wish the WMF would step in and mandate a preferred citation style, but there's no indication that they intend to.)
(They can have no idea how daunting the stack of templates at the top of most articles, including the infobox but also the hatnote, the tags for problems, the date format, the protection level, and in some cases an edit notice too, before you even get to the huge wodge of gobbledy-gook that produces the infobox, looks when you peep under the hood for the first time definitely isn't true. They know exactly how messy and off-putting that stack of templates is; this is literally the reason Visual Editor was commissioned in the first place. "The goal of removing avoidable technical impediments associated with Wikimedia's editing interface, as a necessary pre-condition for increasing the number of Wikimedia contributors" if you want the original WMF-ese.)
I used to loathe sfn referencing, but I was talked into using it when I was writing about railway stations since most of the existing articles used it and it made sense to use the same format. It's now grown on me to the extent that I think it's the best of the existing referencing systems for any article longer than a couple of paragraphs. The only commonly-used system I genuinely loathe is WP:LDR, which I dislike to the extent that I'll refuse to work on any page using it. (Whatever the referencing system, you don't need to scroll up and down as if doing a wrist exercise; click on the number in brackets in the citation to jump to the relevant reference, click on the number in brackets at the start of the reference to jump back to where you were in the text. There shouldn't be any scrolling necessary.)
Hope the highest level of COVID risk isn't going too badly for you. As someone in England—in lockdown until 2 December at the earliest—you have my sympathies; there's nothing like being unable to do something to make one suddenly want to do it. ‑ Iridescent 09:59, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
See, and there I was thinking that Switzerland had eaten the highest current COVID-19 incidence... Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 10:29, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Break: footnotes and sourcingEdit
Re (7), I think that's in part a function of our rules on RS, OR, and so forth. Perhaps I'm revealing my weakness here, but my process for writing articles (that aren't pure proseline) tends to be something like "read sufficient sources, write down a section as I understand it in my head, add references to the sources, correct errors when I look at the source and realize I *haven't* got it right". The more general the subject, the harder it is to reconcile one's prose with sentences in the source that precisely validate it.
Reading an appropriate range of sources, synthesizing them, and summarizing them while making some effort to be dispassionate is a very particular form of knowledge production. We have scored some successes (notably, the Wikipedia Library) in facilitating this, but in general, our discussions of editor recruitment and retention fail to acknowledge that our main need is for people who can and will do that, and not everyone can or will. (We could also do with more tech improvement targeted at that specific set of acts, rather than generic "community" improvement.) Choess (talk) 00:07, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
Yes, we've effectively added "footnote everything precisely" to the requirements for writing for a traditional encyclopaedia. It does make it easier that way for both the reader and fellow editors to catch misinterpretations. And I think that way of working may be less and less the norm precisely because there are fewer "wiki-dragons" around. I'm extremely reluctant to say it's because the big topics have all been written up; I really do think one person's "big topic it's a scandal we don't have an article on" tends to be most others' "what's that?" rather than "non-notable! unencyclopedic!" Unless, of course, it's a "fringe" topic or a business. I'm leery of generalising about how people work, let alone how they should, especially since I have written some articles slotting together information taken from sources—many of my articles cite a source for pretty much every sentence after the intro, and people sometimes accuse me of ref-bombing when the sentence contains details taken from a whole bunch of the sources—but I do sometimes write about things I already knew a lot about, where it's more a matter of finding and adding sources (and taking advantage of foreign-language Wikipedias to see what may have been published, or excavated, relatively recently). I can't imagine any way of assisting people working in that way, I'm afraid. I've even been invited on IRC to help someone formulate tutorials and tools to do so, and they gave up after learning more about my disordered thought processes. Yngvadottir (talk) 03:44, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
IMO, "footnote everything precisely" is a natural corollary of "anyone can edit". When reading an academic text, or even a pop-culture piece of nonfiction, the reader knows who the author is and can at least theoretically make their own judgement as to whether they're likely to be trustworthy, and what that author's biases are.
This is what Wikipedia looks like to more than half our readers.
In Wikipedia's case, to most readers the authors of a page are totally anonymous. (I know it's a point I keep belabouring, but the way regular editors see Wikipedia isn't the way readers see Wikipedia—more than half our readership sees only Shitty Mobile View™. Have a look at the screenshot to the right showing what Wikipedia looks like to our readers using Shitty Mobile View™, and see if even you—with years of experience on Wikipedia—can figure out either what one would need to do to see the page history, or what one would need to do to switch off Shitty Mobile View™ and view the page as a normal Wikipedia article. As far as most readers are concerned, Wikipedia articles don't have authors, but just come into existence through some unknown process.) Even if the reader does manage to figure out how to access the page history, all they'll see is a bunch of names like "Malleus Fatuorum" and "BrownHairedGirl", and have no reasonable way of knowing who wrote what, and which editors can be trusted and which are crazies inserting a personal viewpoint.
In that context, "footnote everything precisely" is a natural progression. Without knowing exactly what came from where, a Wikipedia article is no more than just the opinions of some randos off the internet. As Choess says, being able to summarise is a very specific skill and not particularly close to traditional academic writing. (I've said before and will say again, that in my opinion the real-world skill sets that most closely correspond to Wikipedia editing aren't writing academic material, but writing children's books, writing tourist/museum guides, and schoolteaching. "Summarising diverging views for the benefit of an audience with little prior knowledge and quite often not much interest in the topic, while simultaneously explaining what's uncontentious and what's disputed and pointing them to where they can find more if they've found it interesting" is a very specific skill set. It's probably why our collaborations with museums and libraries tend to be productive while our collaborations with universities almost invariably end in tears—museum curators instinctively grasp the importance of audience engagement and of attribution, whereas academics are used to preaching to the converted and to it being their job to push their preferred views.
On I really do think one person's "big topic it's a scandal we don't have an article on" tends to be most others' "what's that?" rather than "non-notable! unencyclopedic!" I'll repeat my mantra that I always say—the most important topic is whatever the topic you want to know more about happens to be. (Betty White—who with all due respect is not exactly at the peak of her career— consistently gets more readers than any of the alleged "ten most important articles on Wikipedia".)
The big topics definitely aren't all already written. We do an adequate job covering post-war topics in Anglosphere countries, but as soon as you step out of that comfort zone Wikipedia is a wasteland of redlinks and shitty stubs. Pick the language of your choice, head on over to their Featured Article list, pick an article at random on any topic that doesn't relate to the US, UK, Canada or Australia, and then have a look at just how awful English Wikipedia's article on that topic is. I'll start you off with Le Pin (Loire-Atlantique) (in French a 12,000-word Featured Article, in English reads in full Le Pin is a commune in the Loire-Atlantique department in western France.) and Schloss Raesfeld (FA in German, redlink in English), and these are languages a lot of people in English-speaking countries actually speak, not obscure dialects where nobody can reasonably be expected to check the sources. ‑ Iridescent 10:12, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
If I gave the impression I don't think there are gaping holes in our coverage, I wrote like an idiot. I just think a large part of it is lack of awareness of what one doesn't know exists. One of the things encyclopaedias are good for is making one aware of some of these things, only we do it by links, footers, see alsos, categories, and so on, rather than items one happens to see on a page; and it remains a problem for any given editor to be aware of the edges of their knowledge. Of course, FAs in any version of Wikipedia depend on editor interest and the vagaries of what gets passed, but I took one of those two pieces of low-hanging fruit and made a quick and dirty edit that tends to underline the point. Yngvadottir (talk) 01:38, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
Oh, indeed—and in at least some of these cases, the reason English Wikipedia's coverage of a topic is weaker than the coverage elsewhere will be an artefact of our having more robust rules on sourcing and notability than most of the sister projects. (Can you imagine the chaos if we applied Welsh Wikipedia's "all books are notable" policy here?). That said, given how much of a fuss we make about English Wikipedia being the mother church of the entire free culture and open editing movement and the model everybody else should look to follow, the gaping holes for things like Montehermoso and Kvarteret Frimuraren are an embarassment. ‑ Iridescent 08:33, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
I'm afraid I can't get at all excited by any of these geo-gaps - I'm sure there are far worse ones for Africa, China & many other non-European areas. As I expect I've said before, if it's big gaps you want, head for almost anything in the decorative arts, where the views show there is actual demand from readers, and where good English-language sources are available online (normally from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which puts all its fat catalogues online when they go out of print). And where we now have fabulous photos on Commons, mostly from American museums. Johnbod (talk) 17:17, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
I used geographic examples as there's no element of subjectiveness to confuse things—when it comes to an artist, an artwork or even a movement it's possible to make a legitimate "this is important to (insert country) but doesn't meet Wikipedia's guidelines" argument. (Some Wikipedias have wildly different notability criteria to our own, and even when something does meet our generally stricter criteria, "it would be a waste of time writing that since nobody would ever read it" is a valid argument.) For geography this isn't the case, as one would be hard-pressed to say that one of Japan's Kumano Kodō routes, the central avenue of a major city, one of the earliest surviving abandoned European settlements in the Americas etc are undeserving of coverage. You can repeat the same exercise with any topic, and when you get into Africa and the less developed parts of Asia there are whole swathes of open goals. I do agree that our coverage of the decorative arts (as opposed to the fine arts) is woeful. (For a long time I've been mulling over Wetherspoons carpets—it's a genuinely interesting topic, the sources exist and I'd lay money it would be one of our most widely-shared arts articles on social media—but I'm reluctant to give the charmless oaf any free publicity.) ‑ Iridescent 19:21, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
  • I can't tell if there's something I can get for you (assuming The Slasher didn't get it first). EEng 10:18, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
  • German (academic) libraries are still open. It doesn't look like the chancellor and the minister-presidents are going to change that today. Wikipedia:Bibliotheksrecherche/Anfragen seems slower than last year, but is functioning now (it was mostly closed for business in the spring). I could have a look at Baetke's Kleine Schriften for you on Thursday, when I have to be at my local library anyway. --HHill (talk) 13:02, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
    • Yes, please, HHill. I stupidly didn't copy the title-page when I grabbed articles from that years ago; I suspect it's abbreviated. Yngvadottir (talk) 03:18, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
    • And it turns out to be "in germanischem", spelt out in full on the title page, which means a large number of Worldcat entries are wrong. Harvard has it abbreviated, as does DNB, which may well be the source of the problem. Yngvadottir (talk) 01:38, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
Something actually useful!Edit

On the topic of mobile-using readers vs desktop-using editors, thanks to SlimVirgin for pointing out that if you go here, scroll to the end and check "mobile sidebar preview", you can preview how every page you visit will appear to readers using a phone. For anyone making complex changes to the layout of a page—particularly if it involves complex image markup, unusually-formatted text, big tables, obscure templates that the developers might not support etc (EEng, that means you), I strongly strongly strongly recommend running articles through it, if nothing else to see what oddities the WMF's "related content" algorithm has tacked onto the end. (You don't need to go via preferences to turn it off again; a little picture of a phone appears in your top menu next to "view history" which switches it on and off.) ‑ Iridescent 19:12, 19 November 2020 (UTC)

Ha. Tried it out on African humid period and it looks fairly decent there ... assuming that phone users won't take issue with the mega length, especially since Christmas is imminent and with it the ~250 sources that I'll need to add. Incidentally, the related articles there are Lake Suguta (OK, but no more so than Lake Ptolemy for example), Neopluvial (a sort-of same thing) and North African climate cycles (which AHP is a member of). Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 19:31, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
I just noticed that the power button on the "phone" switches it off. Someone definitely had too much time on their hands. ‑ Iridescent 22:17, 19 November 2020 (UTC)
That does look useful, if only to frighten me away from those phones all the more :-) I would guess the "hamburger" leads to the history view, but I suppose that's wrong; the star's just sitting there looking inscrutable, maybe that means "link to our nifty features for the brave", since I assume the pencil just leads to the mobile editor? Yngvadottir (talk) 01:38, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
Hover over the buttons and it tells you what they do (and they all work if you click on them). The hamburger brings up all the links that appear down the side of the page in desktop view (Main Page, Random Article etc), the star is "add/remove from watchlist" (that one is the same on the default desktop editor 99% of editors see so I'll allow the WMF that one), the pencil opens the edit window. ‑ Iridescent 07:31, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to "turn" it to landscape mode. EEng 05:02, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
    Not that I can see, but most of the mobile view issues boil down to some variation of "this element is too wide for a narrow screen" so portrait mode is more likely to pick them up. ‑ Iridescent 07:31, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
    So our focus is to bring succor to those so benighted as to not know to rotate to landscape? EEng 08:09, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
(talk page stalker) – Sorry to butt in here but if I go there I don't see that. Is it skin-dependent or user-dependent or chocolate-dependent or something? There are a couple of gadget settings there that contain the word "mobile", but nothing like that. Tiny help would be most welcome, please. Thanks DBaK (talk) 14:56, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
It only works in Vector/Minerva (aka the default settings), which makes sense—the entire point of it is to preview how pages will appear to readers, and readers always see Wikipedia pages in Vector/Minerva. When you're concerned how pages will display, it's how pages appear to the 99.9999% of readers who either don't have Wikipedia accounts or do have accounts but haven't changed the skin that's important, not the handful still using Monobook or Modern. If you've reskinned Wikipedia so pages appear to you in a different format than they appear to readers (as it looks like you have) you won't see the option; go to Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-rendering and change it back to either Vector or Legacy Vector and save the change, and you should then see the option. ‑ Iridescent 15:08, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Gosh and thanks. I haven't touched those settings for maybe ??10 years or something so this is a v exciting revelation. What fun! cheers DBaK (talk) 15:25, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Just to be clear, in case I'm giving the impression that I'm being critical of people who choose not to use Vector/Minerva: I think that Vector is a clumsy fudge which is consistently a worse reader experience than its predecessor, and that Minerva is possibly the single worst product the WMF has ever produced, has probably done more to damage Wikipedia's reputation than anything else in Wikipedia's history, and only avoided provoking an outright revolt because (a) the devs pooped it out onto our laps at about the same time as VE and Flow which drew most of the flak, (b) the WMF never properly supported Timeless which tried to address the problems Vector/Minerva caused, and especially (c) since most editors rarely see how Wikipedia appears on phones, the small number of people who know how to raise a concern through the incomprehensible meta/phabricator routes which are the only way to contact the devs, are the same people who are least likely to realise that there's a problem since they work logged on and never see how clunky logged-off Wikipedia looks and feels. I can entirely sympathise with anyone who chooses to enable one of the other skins, but it's important to at least sometimes work in the two default skins because for better or worse (figure of speech; they're both definitely for worse) how things look in them is how things are displayed to readers. ‑ Iridescent 19:57, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Well, the other thing about phabricator is that nothing gets done unless they recognize your name or you're well known enough that you can poke people and cause a fuss. Even then it can take upwards of a year even for basic stuff, and half of the time its a volunteer writing the patch not someone who is paid to support Wikimedia projects. TonyBallioni (talk) 20:07, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Indeed—on at least one occasion when I've become aware of a genuine issue I've literally found it easier to pester a Board member until they cascade it down, rather than even try to do things via the proper channels, and I actually understand how the "proper channels" are supposed to work and have enough of a reputation that if I posted at Meta or Phabricator people would look at what I had to say. ‑ Iridescent 20:14, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
The other way to get something actioned is to point out how the security theatre they care about is just that: phab:T202989 got actioned because someone who knows nothing beyond the most basics of how javascript or any of the other super-sensitive techy things (me) broke down and asked for this bit of security theatre when it impacted my ability to track a certain foundation-banned cross-wiki outing sockmaster. has one of the more "strict" methods of granting that bit. If you really want to do damage with it, there are 670ish wikis that no one uses where you can easily go to town with your grand plans for evil. Anyway, its fixed now at least for everyone else. TonyBallioni (talk) 20:31, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Almost all these things are security theatre—anyone who wants to cause damage can cause damage, the reason we catch the troublemakers is because they don't understand Wikipedia and try to attack apparent soft targets where we know what to look out for. With the proviso that I think the idea of "rogue checkuser" is somewhat overblown (if you're actually an Iranian dissident or a CIA field agent, I would hope you have the common sense not to be editing from your home computer, and most common-or-garden editors couldn't care less if someone can see their IP address and browser useragent or not) there are obvious ways to wheedle advanced permissions on moribund sister projects that are grateful just to have someone show an interest, but which get visited by Wikipedia editors often enough that most editors will have some kind of checkable footprint there, particularly if it's a wiki that allows checks on touched. (I'm not giving away the WMF's state secrets here; this has been a known vulnerability for at least 12 years. If the WMF haven't closed that particular back door the blame is squarely down to them.) I've occasionally idly wondered whether Wikidata's unendearing habit of kill-stealing edits from Wikipedia editors to make it look like they have more active editors than they actually have also makes your CU data visible there as well. ‑ Iridescent 20:53, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Blimey. And thanks. But blimey. DBaK (talk) 21:46, 21 November 2020 (UTC)
Generally agree, and if you're bored enough to want more thoughts, you can email. I did want to point out, though, that there are famous Iranian dissidents who are sockmasters who have edited from their home computer based on my understanding. No one said being a dissident made you a genius on how Wikipedia works.
Also, was just confirmed by one of the Wikidata CUs that the automated edits do leave CU data, though that's not the sister project I would worry about they have a reasonable number, and three of them are stewards, two of whom were also previously CUs on projects that are actually active and are sane.
If you want to see a project where it's easy to get CU and where the CU to users actually active ratio is way too high you can look here. Given our tendency of banishing 14 year olds there, that'd be the one I was more concerned about in terms of real life impact. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:03, 21 November 2020 (UTC)

Roman sidetrackEdit

The problem with understanding the office of the Roman Emperor is that the closer a modern looks at it, the more surprises it has. There was no actual office or magistracy "emperor" or "Imperator"; although it came to be part of an Emperor's formal name, it merely signified someone who had authority. The Emperor of the Early Republic was more of an "open secret power behind the republic", similar to the Secretary of the CPSU was the leader of the Soviet Union notwithstanding that the Soviet Union had a President who was officially the head of the executive branch of the government. The emperor's power derived mostly from two sources: having tribunicia potestas, or powers usurped from the plebeian tribunes; & being proconsular governor of half the empire for an indefinite period -- which happened to be home of the Roman Army. (This portion was divided into provinces over which he appointed assistants or legati to administer. This setup lasted into the chaos of the Third Century; after that point the Emperor assumed the title Dominus Noster, or "Our master", & the republican titulature gradually fell out of use. As for the Byzantine Empire, I am still puzzling out the ideology that explains why Autokrator was different from "king" -- beyond the fact that "Emperor" is a higher rank than "King". (There are some important exceptions to that last statement I feel require more of an explanation.) -- llywrch (talk) 20:56, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
I live in the United Kingdom, a country comprised of four nominally separate countries which in turn form a whole which is nominally governed by a monarch who has zero powers and is compelled to act in accordance with the will of Parliament, and in which executive authority is normally granted by said Parliament to a Prime Minister, a post that has never officially existed (Bozo's official title is "First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service"), and in which power is devolved to a bewildering array of other bodies ranging from wholly-appointed Non-departmental public bodies to pseudo-sovereign states like the Scottish Government which nonetheless can be and occasionally are vetoed or even suspended by the central Parliament. I have no problem at all grasping the means by which multiple theoretically separate titles can coalesce over time into a single focus of authority, which in turn delegates those same powers outwards while still maintaining theoretical absolute power.

As I understand it, for the Romans and their successor states—along with the pretender succesor states like Russia and the HRE—it was always thought important to avoid the title "King", since the entire notion of the imperium was based on the rape of Lucretia and the expulsion of the kings. ‑ Iridescent 22:27, 13 November 2020 (UTC)

Some might say the real power is, or at least has at times been, with the 1922 Committee. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 10:10, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
Ish. The 1922 Committee and their mirror on the opposing side, the unions aren't as important as they think they are; they have the nuclear option of plunging the party into civil war, but unless they're willing to push the big red button all they can do is grumble. If you want a real mess, Norn Iron—at the time of writing, governed by a five party coalition all of whom genuinely hate each other, which is so dysfunctional that central government regularly imposes direct rule just to get anything done at all—is the place to go. ‑ Iridescent 10:25, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
The Byzantines also didn't consider themselves to be Byzantine. They considered themselves to be Roman. This is also very important in their religious understanding: Constantinople as New Rome and the see was theoretically founded by Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter and the first apostle called by Christ. The See of Constantinople was of course not actually founded by Saint Andrew as Byzantium was a tiny fishing town in the first century that the apostles would not have established a major local church with oversight regional authority in, but the concept of Constantinople being tied to Rome was extremely important to their view of themselves: to the point where they decided that their made up religious lineage should be tied to the brother of Simon Peter. Ignoring the ancient history involving kings and the like, the linguistic similarities in style to Rome would have been extremely important in their civil government as well. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:39, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
The Byzantines also didn't consider themselves to be Byzantine. They considered themselves to be Roman. continues to the present day (although after the disaster of the Megali Idea the-Empire-shall-rise-again pretensions, Greece itself has abandoned it). The Sultan's official title right up until Ataturk's destruction of the remnants of the Empire was "Kaysar-i Rûm" (Caesar of Rome), and the Turks spent the better part of five centuries issuing vague threats against assorted Kaisers and Tsars for using the name. To this day, the Turkish and Arabic word for "member of one of the non-Turkish communities of Asia Minor (Greeks, Armenians, Antiochan Christians etc) " is Rûm (Roman). ‑ Iridescent 09:06, 14 November 2020 (UTC)
One of the first things journalist get taught is that almost nobody except the sub-editors reads to the bottom of the story (or used to be taught, when stories still had bottoms). Far too many editors here still have very skimpy leads, and then charge straight into dense thickets of etymology, history, background and such-like stuff. Johnbod (talk) 17:56, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
We're not print, though. To readers, a Wikipedia article isn't a single entity to be read top-to-bottom; it's a lead which will hopefully tell them what they need to know, followed by a table of contents (on desktop) or a load of collapsed sections (on mobile) which serve as a menu from which they cherry-pick the parts they think will expand on what the lead failed to tell them. If one doesn't come away from the lead feeling they know at least enough about the topic so as to make an informed choice from the subsequent sections about what will interest them, the lead hasn't been written properly. ‑ Iridescent 18:31, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
I can confirm this is how I use Wikipedia, and I have a graduate degree and am arguably more Wikipedia-literate than most people. Very few people come to an article wanting to read the story. They come seeking a piece of information. TonyBallioni (talk) 18:52, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Exactly. Going back to the OP's question about when to invoke IAR, this is why I generally pay little regard to "only link the first occurrence of a term" and instead will bluelink it a second time if the occurrences are far apart and in different sections. Assuming "There's no point, by the time the reader reaches this part they'll have already seen a link to it if they're interested" is to misunderstand how readers—as opposed to editors—use Wikipedia. I know editors don't like the idea that someone wouldn't want to read every word of their deathless prose, but we need to grasp that we're working with a new medium here rather than an extension of print, and that the best way to view a Wikipedia article is as seeing the lead section as the parent, and each subsequent section as a subpage. In an ideal article, every subsection will make sense even if the reader has read nothing other than that section and the lead. ‑ Iridescent 19:15, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Yes I fully appreciate the hypocricy of my saying we need to accommodate mobile view given that this talkpage is configured to make it uneditable in mobile view Is this in reference to your header which attempts to wrap the whole page ina div in turquoise and maroon? I can maybe fix that if you want. --Izno (talk) 18:48, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
I probably ought to get rid of that—it's an obscure in-joke which is now approaching 15 years old and which hardly anyone even noticed. The main reason I keep this page's eccentric formatting is that it serves as a reminder of Merridew before he turned to the dark side; plus, I do think the right-aligned wrapped TOC looks much more elegant than the standard format. I'm not losing the slightest sleep over it blocking the page in mobile view. ‑ Iridescent 19:15, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Oh, I didn't think you were losing sleep over it; I'm just pretty sure that's what is breaking the mobile version. What I did want to try was to see if WP:TemplateStyles could do the same thing but without the div causing a mess. --Izno (talk) 20:08, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
@Llywrch: that's an easy one: the first list ends with Caesar, the second list begins with Augustus, the third list beings with Diocletian, and I'll be happy to support your proposal to tban anyone who disagrees. :-) Lev!vich 18:07, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
First list ends with Augustus, second list begins with Tiberius and ends in 395, third list from partition to Leo VI. It was only with Augustus's death that it was clear dictatorship was here to stay rather than a temporary state of emergency after which normal service would be resumed; if you want precedent, consider how we handle the Aetheling and Cromwell on List of English monarchs. ‑ Iridescent 18:27, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
First I have to convince myself which is the best solution, then I will try to convince others. The more I study the matter, the more complex the issue becomes; the answer was so obvious the less I knew about the problem! (And anyone offering an answer might want to look carefully at the reasons supporting each of the years I listed.) -- llywrch (talk) 20:56, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
Problems in history do not have answers, any more than science produces final answers. Speaking as an amateur, the interest in history and the humanities is that there are multiple answers and interpretations, almost nothing is completely definite: the fun is in trying to figure out the possibilities, and developing one's own mental picture. To take the example being used above, the extent to which Rome went from a republic to an empire and the meaning of the terms would not have been agreed on by contemporaries at any time in its history--almost no periodization actually makes sense if challenged.
And along a different line, the part of a Wikipedia article I usually look at is the end, to see what manner of irrelevancies have been tacked on, or whether recent events have been covered. But I don't think I have ever in my life read a book in consecutive order, and I taught my students , as I was taught, how to read a scientific article by going immediately to the figures. DGG ( talk ) 01:23, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Depends on the book, surely? If I'm reading The Story of Louis XII, chances are I'm going to start at the beginning and read to the end since there's a logical order and each chapter serves as background reading for the subsequent chapter; if I'm reading French Architecture From the Reign of Louis XII , chances are I'm going to flip to either the buildings or the areas that interest me. ‑ Iridescent 08:45, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Dont get my hopes up....Edit

I missed the 'draft' bit in the deletion log and experienced a frisson of joy thinking you had finally snapped and deleted the main page. Alas, it was but for a brief moment before my eyes focused. Only in death does duty end (talk) 20:49, 18 November 2020 (UTC)

Deleting the main page is sooo 2000s. All the cool compromised admin accounts change the content model instead. ‑ Iridescent 20:54, 18 November 2020 (UTC)


I prefer succinct. I prefer straight to crooked. Simplicity to sophistry, --Deepfriedokra (talk) 15:00, 20 November 2020 (UTC)

You'll need to give me at least some idea what this is about as I have no clue at all. Is it some kind of reference to my warning at User talk:EEng#How? If so I stand by it; putting "née" in the wrong place once is a good-faith mistake, carrying on once it's been explained that it's wrong is no different to any common-or-garden vandal messing around with facts.* With most editors—particularly most new editors—I wouldn't come down as hard as this under the circumstances, but given this thread this is not an editor whose Wikipedia career is likely to go well unless and until it's made clear to them that Wikipedia is a collaborative environment and not their personal website. ‑ Iridescent 16:12, 20 November 2020 (UTC)
*I personally think the use of "née" should be search-and-replaced out of existence except in the case of direct quotations—it's an archaism that survives as a coy affectation among a tiny subset of pseuds who've read too much Jane Austen, there's no advantage to saying "Jane Smith (née Doe)" instead of "Jane Smith (born Doe)", and since it means nothing to anyone outside that tiny subset MOS:COMMONALITY says we should be using "born" whicb is universally understood—but that's a conversation for another place,

List of Drifters charactersEdit

That page was separated from the its main page and it even have the move template in its talk page on. The two sources found copied from us. Mobilepubliclibrary copied this on May 24, 2019, three years after after the show ended and that character list was written. Aminoapps 02/12/17, two months after December 23, 2016 the day Drifters ended. So they copied from us, not the way around. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SpectresWrath (talkcontribs)

Agreed, looking more closely at the history; restored. If you're going to copy-and-paste between Wikipedia articles, please attribute it in the edit summary, rather than just a note on the talkpage! ‑ Iridescent 16:56, 20 November 2020 (UTC)


OK, I'm in VE, did the first deletion easily (wow), and now all I want to do is change the FAC promoted date at May Revolution. I have the entry up, and cannot figure out what buttons to push to edit the cell. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:12, 22 November 2020 (UTC)

Ah ha, got it ... double click! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:14, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
In a way it's a shame that the first incarnation of VE was so bad that everyone who got their fingers burned by it now refuses to go anywhere near it. For some things like making a big change to a table, resizing images by dragging the corner until it's exactly the right size, etc, it genuinely is more useful than the wikitext editor, but so few people are willing even to touch it (and it's soooooooo damn slow) that nobody knows these features exist. Assuming that—like most sane people—you keep it permanently disabled, you can switch it on for one-off use on those rare occasions you want to use it by clicking "edit" on any article, going up to the url and changing &action=edit to &veaction=edit – doing it this way, you can even force it to run on pages where VE is normally disabled like user talk pages. ‑ Iridescent 16:30, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
Wonderful in theory, sucky in practice. Turns out you only deleted the FAC column from the first section (I split the page in two earlier because it is so huge), and when I try to delete the FAC column from the second section, it gives me odd error messages ... maybe it is timing out? Can't tell. Not very user friendly. Are you able to delete that column? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:38, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
 Done. Because VE is an amateurishly-written piece of crap, written by nerds with powerful computers and superfast internet connections who don't appreciate that it crashes normal people's computers, you need to wait patiently for the "this process is slowing your browser" error messages to clear if you're trying to do anything more basic than fixing a typo—but it's still a lot easier than manually editing a huge stack of markup line-by-line. ‑ Iridescent 16:50, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
Thanks, Iri ... you won my first-born. But I think you've won him before. Now you have him with COVID. I am going to stay away from VE, but glad it worked for this purpose! Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:23, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
And it turns out my Visually editing was incompetent: [7] [8] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:08, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
What Izno sees
you can switch it on for one-off use on those rare occasions you want to use it by clicking "edit" on any article, going up to the url and changing &action=edit to &veaction=edit If you use the 2010 wikitext editor, there is a button at the right of the toolbar that looks like a pen which will put you in VE mode. There is subsequently a button in the VE toolbar in a similar position (though not same due to the submit button) with the same appearance that you can use to return in the same editing session, at least whole page editing. My memory says it does not work for section editing going in the VE to WTE direction. --Izno (talk) 17:06, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
I loathe the 2010 toolbar with a passion—to me it combines all the drawbacks of the 2006 toolbar and VE without any of either's advantages. I just tried switching the 2010 toolbar on as an experiment and I can't replicate this—the only icon I can see that looks like a pen is the one to switch on syntax highlighting. ‑ Iridescent 17:17, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
It's there on the far right. Maybe it does not display at all for section editing? Or perhaps not on pages on which VE is disabled? --Izno (talk) 20:05, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
What I see
I'm not seeing what you're seeing – see right (vanilla Vector so it's not a skin issue). Could it be a gadget or script you installed at some point? I've taken the liberty of recaptioning your screenshot, so it's clear to anyone else watching which is yours and which is mine) ‑ Iridescent 20:32, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
I may not be sane, but I use VE almost exclusively. I do have a very fast PC and a fast internet line, so I have no problem believing others don't find it as useful as I do, but for me it's been a big productivity boost. It's not just tables, though I agree it's invaluable for that; simple text copyediting and fiddling around with references is much more efficient for me in VE, and that's most of what I do. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:57, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
I think it really depends what you want to use it for. For relatively routine things like copyediting text in reasonably short articles, it's probably superior to the Wikitext editor, expecially for editors who aren't familiar with the Wikitext editor and its quirks and consequently don't automatically parse the codes in their head. For anything complicated such as formatting quote box and {{multiple image}} templates, it's slow, confusing and unwieldy, unless you have a particular attachment to error messages and to watching progress bars inch across the screen. For some things, like standardising the format of citation templates, when editors try to edit using VE the result tends to literally be worse than if they hadn't edited at all. (I'm no fan of the wretched WP:LDR reference format at the best of times, but watching people try to handle LDR pages using VE has a certain grim comedy value. And for anything that uses any kind of complicated formatting such as separate "footnotes" and "references" sections, it's literally unusable (and I mean "literally" literally, not figuratively—here's [[Phineas Gage]] in VisualEditor for example, imagine you've spotted a typo in one of the footnotes and see how long it takes in VE to try to correct it). Unless and until the WMF can get VE to handle Wikipedia articles as they actually are, rather than the spherical cow articles that all follow a consistent format and only exist in the devs heads, VE is just going to be a tool that actively frustrates new editors and drives them away when they find it literally impossible to perform even fairly basic tasks using it. ‑ Iridescent 20:25, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
Ya, I use VE also for copyedits, adding images and general restructuring. Anything that requires reference changes more complex than mere copypasting is right out. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 20:35, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
(ec) I agree with all those criticisms, but having used it for years I reflexively switch to the text editor when I run into one of those situations, perhaps rolling my eyes a little as I do so. It would be nice if VE could be enhanced to fix some of those problems, but given that it has to live on top of a pre-existing text-edited corpus I don't expect that any time soon. I might disagree on "reasonably short articles", unless Radiocarbon dating and History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950 are short in your view; I regularly edit those in VE, and the latter was built almost entirely in VE. I might also disagree on "routine", depending on what you mean by that: categories, images, adding/editing citations, and moving text around from section to section are all things I would prefer to do in VE. For categories I could understand an experienced editor not wanting to use VE -- I know there are tools for semi-automating those kinds of edits. I've tried those tools, but I work on one (or a few) articles at a time, so by the next time I want to use HotCat or whatever the tool is I've forgotten how it works. I also think you're right about a new editor who runs into LDR or sfn being very frustrated, but I'd say they'd get equally frustrated with the wikitext in those cases.
I'm not trying to evangelize -- just raising the visibility of content-editors-who-really-like-VE. I can't believe I'm the only one. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:44, 22 November 2020 (UTC)
I get what you're saying, but you and I aren't its target market. We know enough to know when (and crucially how) to switch to the Wikitext editor. Because there are so many commonplace things that break VE (basic things like "making a comment on a talkpage" and "adding a reference to a statement in the infobox" will cause VE to fail, we're not talking arcane techniques which only an advanced editor would use), we're essentially presenting new editors with a Kobayashi Maru scenario when they sign up. When they get the "which editor do you want as the default?" dialog box, they get the choice between having to learn a complicated editing system with a steep learning curve, or having to learn a simplified editing system and a complicated editing system with a steep learning curve.
VE is a useful additional tool for experienced editors, but by even suggesting it to newer editors we're creating the online equivalent of allowing people to take their driving test in an automatic in a world where the only cars on sale are stick-shift. ‑ Iridescent 07:09, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
"Useful additional tool for experienced editors" is a reasonable description, though for me it's the primary tool, not the secondary one. I think my main point is that I never see VE described with even so hedged a positive phrase as yours, which has always seemed slightly irrational. As for new editors, the only time I've been to an editathon and sat with a new user was prior to VE, but the outcome contained nothing that would not have been easier with VE. I vividly remember explaining what square brackets did, and what curly brackets did.... I think I apologetically told them (an intelligent forty-ish theatre geek) just to stick in {{reflist}} without worrying about it and memorize it for any future articles. Of course you're right that there are common tasks that VE is completely unable to do, but just being able to do those tasks in wikitext doesn't change how discouraging raw wikitext is for most new editors. VE's absolute limitations should be contrasted with wikitext's practical limitations; both are severely limiting, but in different ways. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:20, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
Obnoxiously, I have to disagree. Wikitext was developed as a way for non-techies to do markup using only stuff right there on the keyboard, like (square) brackets and apostrophes, without having to learn HTML or other commands. Even though ref tags strictly speaking break this rule (I can hardly be the only one who sometimes forgets to close them, and it would have been hard for me to remember how if I hadn't done some basic HTML on LiveJournal), what makes it complex is the templates: the curly bracket stuff, with all the unforgiving parameters inside it, is like stepping off from a wading pool into deep water. That's why I abominate the WMF pushing citation templates in their training materials, let alone harv and sfn on top of citation templates. I started the hard way, as I suspect many of us did at that time (2008, after the citation templates had been developed): I copied an article and its edit code into a word processor and used it as a template; you can see here the mess caused by the word processor using smart quotes and by my not knowing the trick about putting messy ref names in quotation marks. I laboured my way through the infobox; if my example had also used citation templates, I might not have bothered trying. It's my view that the templates have made wikitext complicated; the rest of it is quite easy to learn if you have a standard English-language keyboard (to me, far easier than "click on this thing and while holding it, pull down this menu that's cleverly hidden over here). Yngvadottir (talk) 10:45, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
Yngvadottir, the WMF doesn't run editor training events. Which training materials are you talking about? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:00, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
The videos on how to do referencing; most of the welcome templates now link to the WMF-produced materials that (a) require learning from a video, a big accessibility problem, and (b) present referencing as if there's only one way to do it. Yngvadottir (talk) 22:50, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
Pages such as Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia contain videos that are entirely about wikitext because they were made in 2010 and 2012, before the visual editor was available. There was talk a few years ago about creating videos for the visual editor, and eventually, a long-time editor got a grant to make some, but I don't know if they exist or have ever been used. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 06:57, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
Not to put words into Yngvadottir's mouth but I know she doesn't like making unnecessary edits—if I understand correctly, her issues aren't that the videos only cover wikitext, but that there isn't an adequate text-based alternative to the videos (something I can entirely sympathize with, "we don't have written instructions where you can pay extra attention to the parts you consider important and skip the parts that aren't relevant or which you already know, you'll have to watch this video" is one of the fastest ways for a company to lose me as a customer and I can't be alone in that quite aside from people with vision problems who literally can't watch the videos) and that they don't make it clear that they're a demonstration of one particular style rather than the "correct" referencing style so they mislead new editors into thinking they're being helpful if they go around changing existing reference styles to match the {{cite book}}/{{cite web}} system they're being shown. ‑ Iridescent 16:16, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
(edit conflict) You're not the only one who uses it Mike; I regularly edit in VE. When I first started here 6 years ago, I only used the Wikitext editor. I was already very familiar with HTML markup, so it took me little time to familiarise myself with our watered down version and I'm ordinarily sceptical of WYSIWYG editors because I have often found that they over complicate the markup they generate and introduce all sorts of errors. But as I became familiar with VE when that was rolled out, I found (like you) that it was IMO superior for copyediting and article content work generally. Off-wiki, all my writing is done in MS Word, so perhaps I just find it easier to proof-read on-Wiki in VE. I also discovered that you can copy and paste a table from Excel straight into VE, which has transformed my editing. I think I agree with Iridescent's view that new editors may struggle with aspects of it and that you often have to edit with both VE and Wikitext, so in that sense, it's not great as a solution to editing full-stop; but I have to say I'm rarely doing the sort of editing which requires fully switching to the text editor. For instance, I'm sure people who do lots of categorising have better tools for the job, but I don't pay much attention to categories so when I have to add them (during article creation, or else someone will slap a big tag at the top) I usually find VE's category tool very handy. Most of my recent article work has been done almost exclusively in VE. It is perhaps helped by the fact that I don't use citation templates, which probably explains why my only major bug bear is that it's a pain to add {{Refn|group="n"|....<ref>cite</ref>}} tags to generate footnotes. Cheers, —Noswall59 (talk) 10:52, 23 November 2020 (UTC).
Noswall59, you can also drag and drop .csv files into the visual editor. Most editors seem to find adding citation templates easier in the visual editor, because if you give it a URL (e.g.,,, etc.), ISBN, doi, or similar identifiers, it'll try to automagically construct the template for you. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 20:59, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
Completely agree; I drop URLs into the hopper all the time. I usually have to fix a title and mess with the date formats, but it's all there organized for me to work with. Much easier than wikitext. Re Noswall59's comments about the {{Refn|group="n"|... tags, I now find the text version of the citation so inefficient to work with that I create the citation (that I want to be inside the note) in the wrong place in the article, in VE, then switch to wikitext and copy an existing Refn, and cut/paste the wrongly placed citation into the Refn. Having a way of adding notes in VE would be near the top of my wish list. Perhaps I should add that my preference doesn't come from a lack of familiarity with tags and coding, etc.; even in as nerdy an environment as Wikipedia I'm probably fairly near the "more technical" end of the user spectrum. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:15, 23 November 2020 (UTC)
By "if you give it a URL (e.g.,,, etc.), ISBN, doi, or similar identifiers, it'll try to automagically construct the template for you", aren't you just describing the "autofill citation" button? I've never tried it in VE but how does this differ from clicking the "cite" button in the wikitext editor and pasting in a URL? ‑ Iridescent 05:59, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
RefToolbar has never worked consistently for me. I go to cite journal, paste in a DOI or PubMed, and click the magnifying glass... and nothing happens. There's no error message, just nothing happens. Pasting the same thing into VisualEditor's box will produce results for me. Also, the citoid service can often match multiple identifiers, so you start with a PubMed id and end up with the DOI, ISSN, and PMC links, too. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 06:57, 24 November 2020 (UTC)

Shameless appeal to TPS regarding a unique referencing schemeEdit

Since Help:Footnotes doesn't have an active talk page and Iri has weird writing chaps watching it who might be familiar with more novel uses of citation schemes, question: is it possible to nest or stack different ref schemes within each other? Messing around with an idea on User:David Fuchs/sandbox, but the gist is an article that heavily uses audiovisual sources. For verification purposes, it's helpful to link specific timecode and/or actually quote the excerpt, but with a standard {{reflist}} scheme that would mean duplicating the ref call for each use, which results in an ungainly number of almost identical/mostly duplicative reference calls, just with a different at= or quote= call at the ends. My brainstorming idea is to call the timecodes with a different footnote scheme, e.g. the sandbox, where [3] is the podcast/video/whatever and [i][ii][iii] etc would be the specific timecode. But just trying to nest {{notelist-lr}} within {{reflist}} doesn't work. You can of course stick the other footnotes in the same section or another as the sandbox draft is currently set up, although that disjoints the ref calls from their mother ref. The obviously simple answer to this is to do Harv or manual referencing and just have a bulleted list of references at the end that you can stick the {{notelist}} template into, e.g. [] which is marginally more work. So is there a way to do what I want the easy way, or is this entire project just overthinking things and I should just deal with the duped refs like a reasonable adult? Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 17:08, 25 November 2020 (UTC)

What's wrong with {{sfn}} and friends? --Izno (talk) 17:12, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
Nothing innately, but if you're dealing with sources that are primarily web-based and single-paged, I've always found sfn and company an ill fit for those articles. I use it for more academic or historical articles where websites and the like are a distinct minority, but the specific hypothetical articles I'm talking about are more towards the pop culture vein where it'd almost exclusively be single-page web-accessible sources. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 17:27, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with mixing in sfn et al when there's one specific source that could use it on a page. If a quality assessor comes along and says, "thou must use it for all", you just make a case this is a reasonable exception to whatever arbitrary expectation they have. (I doubt there are any such editors in that sphere who wouldn't recognize it as valid a priori, but I cannot claim the same about all editors.)
On an objective note, I think what I was seeing regards the alternative was not LISTGAP compliant. On mlbile so I can't check.
Lastly, on an aside, the appearance of the alternatives section is how the new book referencing from WMDE will look. (Probably the biggest reason I was cued to suggest sfn.) --Izno (talk) 17:39, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
I would probably use {{sfn}} with |loc= for the appurtenant information. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 17:50, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
I'm sure there's a better example but Lion Versus uses mixed sfn in this way. Levivich harass/hound 17:57, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
This can certainly be done and, as with many fiddly citation queries, the best way may be to abandon all forms of template, although I can't quite see that this is actually necessary. Johnbod (talk) 17:29, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
At Clarice Phelps#US Navy, a similar issue was handled by using {{r|p=}} to reference audio timestamps. Levivich harass/hound 17:44, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
Thanks peeps for the input. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 18:02, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
Honestly, with anything relying on audiovisual sources I'd just take one of the existing television FAs and copy the referencing system from that. There's no point reinventing the wheel when so many people have already sat and thought "what's the best way to cite a bunch of timestamps?". ‑ Iridescent 20:34, 26 November 2020 (UTC)

AfD for deaths due to COVID-19 and related RfCEdit

Hi. Thanks for commenting at the recent AfD for the above list. There is now an ongoing discussion around the best way to split the list, if any, if you wish to comment further. Lugnuts Fire Walk with Me 17:34, 29 November 2020 (UTC)

Too much of an exercise in turd-polishing for me. I don't have the energy or the interest to take Sandstein's supervote close of the AfD to DRV (yes there were a lot of "keeps" but as far as I can see they were all variations on "keep, it exists" and not a one of them made a policy-based argument), but it's down to those who wanted to keep it to clean up the mess. ‑ Iridescent 18:14, 30 November 2020 (UTC)

RFC on 17th-century historiansEdit

I wonder whether the talk-page stalkers here could answer the ostensible question at Talk:Constable of Chester#Request for Comment: Is Tristram Risdon an allowable source? So far, the conversation is about whether it's good to block people over OR. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:45, 29 November 2020 (UTC)

That's because the real problem isn't using 17th century sources ... it's an editor's behavior and problems that aren't QUITE to the point of driving everyone into doing something about it. The RfC was filed as a pointy exercise in being a PITA, quite honestly. -- Ealdgyth (talk) 21:50, 29 November 2020 (UTC)
What Ealdgyth said. An RFC on the usability of old historians as sources would be impossible, as the circumstances are different each time. Even the most uninformed and biased historian can be useful as a primary source for what people thought at the time (Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote an unmitigated stream of pure bullshit, but one couldn't write a historiography of Britain without citing him). For some topics antique sources have value because they're written by people with a better understanding of the culture of the time than modern historians. There are also quite a few topics where the old source is of such high quality that nobody else has ever bothered to write anything better, and a lot of topics where the primary sources have been lost so the views of old historians are all we have, and every subsequent work on the topic is just a case of somebody paraphrasing the earlier historians.
I agree entirely that Talk:Constable of Chester#Request for Comment: Is Tristram Risdon an allowable source? isn't a valid RFC and people shouldn't be commenting there as it's only encouraging a disruptive editor to keep disrupting. (The RFC is mis-framed; the issue isn't whether Risdon is a reliable source as he obviously isn't, the issue is in which contexts an obviously unreliable source is still a legitimate primary source for background and how to highlight the fact that we're quoting something we know is likely to be inaccurate.) The back-and-forth on that talkpage is a textbook example of why WP:DNFTT exists. ‑ Iridescent 18:25, 30 November 2020 (UTC)

Link of the weekEdit

From Indo-Saracenic architecture: "They partly reflected the British aspiration for an "Imperial style" of their own, rendered on an intentionally grand scale....". Any thoughts as to a different target? Johnbod (talk) 21:41, 30 November 2020 (UTC)

Megaproject maybe, although that's more about dams and high-speed railways? This Is Not My Area but I'm singularly unconvinced that "Indo-Saracenic architecture" is a genuine architectural style in its own right—not a single one of those pictures looks remotely different to the generic 'cod-Byzantine with a touch of Gothic' typical 19th-century British civic building. (You could recaption any one of the photos in the article as "Midland Railway terminus" or "Catholic church in a reasonably prosperous Northern mill town" and nobody would raise an eyebrow.)
The best (non-Neelix) example of a redirect not leading where one would expect that I know of is currently Sex with ducks. ‑ Iridescent 22:30, 30 November 2020 (UTC)
That's certainly (fairly) true on a large panorama photo, as the article says. We know from the Houses of Parliament that Victorian architects used stylistic "skins" much like WP pages do. A railway station needs to be a certain way. But the ornament and smaller aspects of the structure use Indian-derived stuff in a very eclectic way. There's one of Brighton Pavilion, which would I think raise eyebrows as a "Midland Railway terminus" or "Catholic church in a reasonably prosperous Northern mill town". Probably there need to be more detail photos there, rather than the grand prospects the local love (I think I've weeded out the by-night shots at least). Johnbod (talk) 01:38, 1 December 2020 (UTC)
Even Brighton Pavilion wouldn't be totally incongruous as a Victorian railway terminus; some of them were equally architecturally eccentric (and I'm intentionally ignoring the low-hanging fruit of the London termini). The similarity doesn't surprise me—both classical Islamic architecture and post-Wren British architecture were consciously taking Constantinople (in some cases through the prism of Venice) as a template, and most of the elements like vaulting, domes, and pointed windows are natural consequences of enclosing a large space with minimum internal obstructions whether that large space is a place of worship, a town hall, a mausoleum or a railway station—but I do struggle to see how (e.g.) chatris and chhajjas are specifically Indian rather than the Indian terms for elements common across the world. Something like Chichester Cross or Herentals Lakenhal (a redlinked World Heritage Site, if anyone's still complaining that all the low-hanging fruit has been picked) wouldn't have raised an eyebrow had they turned up in Mughal Rajasthan. ‑ Iridescent 10:35, 1 December 2020 (UTC)
It's not the form of the chatri, but the prominent placement of a number of small ones on the roofline of a much larger building, which is a distinctive Mughal device, copied in many IS buildings, even up to Lutyens. There are some Western comparators, especially in prodigy houses like Burghley House or Longleat, where they are probably reminiscences of the vanished wooden pavilions on the roofs of late medieval castles. But the detail of the ornament will be very different. Many IS domes are nothing to do with "enclosing a large space with minimum internal obstructions" and are actually a nuisance in terms of the interior arrangement, designed instead purely for the external appearance (arguably a very Indian thing to do, at a deeper level). Many of the grandest IS buildings, with the widest facades, are purely office buildings, and we know those don't need a huge dome in the middle, or a facade you could run drag races along (though the Louvre is a French equivalent). Johnbod (talk) 17:36, 1 December 2020 (UTC)

When God Writes Your Love Story Featured article reviewEdit

I have nominated When God Writes Your Love Story for a featured article review here. Please join the discussion on whether this article meets featured article criteria. Articles are typically reviewed for two weeks. If substantial concerns are not addressed during the review period, the article will be moved to the Featured Article Removal Candidates list for a further period, where editors may declare "Keep" or "Delist" the article's featured status. The instructions for the review process are here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:38, 2 December 2020 (UTC)

Commented there. My views are presumably of no great surprise. ‑ Iridescent 18:08, 2 December 2020 (UTC)
Which one of us is the “mucky-muck”? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:05, 2 December 2020 (UTC)
I'd imagine both of us—that's a ScienceApologist account, and I can't imagine either of us are on his Christmas card list. ‑ Iridescent 21:13, 2 December 2020 (UTC)

The Hindu says the Indian government has threatened us - I'm not sure where to post this so more people knowEdit

See [9]

The Wikipedia page on India-Bhutan relationship had reportedly incorrectly depicted the map of Jammu Kashmir. The government has asked Wikipedia to remove a link from its platform that has shown an incorrect map of Jammu and Kashmir, according to sources.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT has issued an order under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000 directing Wikipedia to remove the link, they added.

The matter had been flagged by a Twitter user, who highlighted that the Wikipedia page on India-Bhutan relationship had incorrectly depicted the map of Jammu Kashmir, and asked the government to take action.

Sources said taking cognizance of the matter, the ministry issued an order on November 27, 2020 directing Wikipedia to remove the map as it violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India. --Doug Weller talk 10:35, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

I have no opinion whatsoever about that dispute and am fairly sure I've never heard of Aksai Chin before today; I semiprotected the page without prejudice in whatever version it happened to be on at the time of the protection, because the sockpuppets were frantically edit-warring. On a quick flip through our maps of other countries with active territorial disputes (Crimea, Golan Heights, Taiwan, Nagorno-Karabakh, West Bank…—that is, not on-paper-only disputes like Gibraltar or North Korea) I can see what the Indians are saying; we're not consistent about how we show disputed territories on maps. (Our Argentina article shows the Falklands and the Antarctic Peninsula as "claimed, not controlled", for instance.) If there's genuinely been a formal complaint I assume the WMF will lock the pages down as an office action until it's resolved. Probably the best place to discuss it would be Wikipedia talk:Noticeboard for India-related topics, which I assume most editors with an interest will have watchlisted, although it won't be any help when it comes to SPAs recruited on Twitter. ‑ Iridescent 10:53, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
There's been a discussion there for a while; rather a storm in a teacup that's being vigorously stirred by POV parties. Johnbod (talk) 14:36, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
There's an even noisier storm in an even smaller teacup at Talk:Bhutan–India relations#Indian government said to threaten Wikipedia over map, complete with commentary from an uncharacteristically sensible Jimmy Wales. I'm sorely tempted to issue every single person involved a WP:ARBIP warning and then block every person who carries on shouting. (At least in the case of Crimea, Jerusalem, Norn Iron etc the nationalist POV-pushing is based on genuine grievances of genuine people. As far as I can tell, this is a territorial dispute over an area whose only populated place is a gas station.) ‑ Iridescent 15:12, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
Nah, WP won't need to remove it. If they did, China would start blasting orders as well. Firestar464 (talk) 03:35, 4 December 2020 (UTC)