User talk:CesarB

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Namespace proposal[edit]

The following text was moved from Namespace proposal following the Request for deletion "Namespace proposal". // [admin] Pathoschild (talk/map) 00:16, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Discussion and Policy
Imported discussion

(this discussion moved from en:User talk:CesarB)

I think it would help us all immeasurably if we abandoned the Wikipedia namespace as such and adopted two distinct namespaces -- one for opinion and general discussion; one for guidelines and policy. Different soft and hard security apply to each space. Pages in (for lack of a better term at the moment) Discussion space are just that, and any citation of them instantly recognizable as a mere pointer to opinion and ongoing discussion. Pages in Policy space range from guideline through policy to cornerstone issues, and each bears a small icon endorsing its contents at whatever level of acceptance, seniority, and authority the page deserves.

Thus a process like VfD is split into two distinct pages -- one being the policy controlling the process; one being the process itself. The controlling policy is semi-rigid; the process open to free discussion on the merits of each page coming under its purview.

As usual, associated Talk namespaces (Discussion_talk: and Policy_talk:) are much more freewheeling.

What do you think? — Xiongtalk* 02:09, 2005 May 5 (UTC)

That not only it's instruction creep, it would also be too limiting. It's a bit like in a false dilemma; the boundaries between policy and discussion can be quite fuzzy (in fact, we already have semi-policy which is right on the middle of the boundary).
For a wiki process to work, there is a need for a great deal of flexibility; without it, you cannot have the darwinism-like process it needs to thrive. This is also why premature excessive ranking (you just mentioned 3 different kinds of ranking: acceptance, seniority, and authority) can cause problems. The current 6-"tier" scheme (policy, semi-policy, guideline, proposed, historical, rejected) arose out of a natural evolution of the process, where after some time the different categories of policy-like pages became clearer. In the future, it's possible that these categories can change. Prematurely "fixing" them using namespaces would restrict their evolution.
One result of the system's evolution is exactly the "bright yellow boxes", as I like to call the set of templates which include {{notpolicy}}. (The following is all from memory, I might be wrong in some details.) Initially, it was harder to tell what was policy and what wasn't; most (but not all) pages stated at the top (using different styles) how accepted they were. As more people started to create policy-like pages, it became harder to find all of them; to help organizing things, Category:Wikipedia policy thinktank (and others) was created. And finally, to reduce the problems with people confusing proposed policies with official policy or semi-policy, the templates were created (which helped to finally consolidate the policy categories; adding the template forced a number of them which were wrongly categorized or not categorized yet to be fixed).
In the case of VfD, it's already split in a number of pages with the policy (Wikipedia:Deletion policy, Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion, and others), a huge number of pages with the process (Wikipedia:Votes for deletion and a lot of subpages), some pages with guidelines (Wikipedia:Guide to Votes for deletion, formely Wikipedia:Votes for deletion phrases), and some pages with "semi-policy" (Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Policy consensus and subpages). The split is fluid and can change in the future, as it has changed in the past.
--cesarb 03:12, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

I understand your points, but I do not agree with them entirely. Wiki is a tool, and I do not feel any philosophy associated with it should control this project. That is not to say that I favor meatball:HardSecurity at all times -- but we do need a little more firmness than we have now. Not everything should be totally plastic.

Strictly as a footnote, I did not mean to imply 3 independent axes along which policy graduates. I merely offered 3 competing terms to describe a single axis. I think the terms you cite are vague, therefore the axis is also vague. I should like to see a great deal less ambiguity here. — Xiongtalk* 03:25, 2005 May 5 (UTC)

I should have noted that my ideal does not exclude progress. I imagine a raw, biased, highly-charged page-manque starting in User space; the member solicits comments and makes a few modifications to tone down the points least likely to meet with community tolerance. He invites others to visit his user space and make a few direct edits. Eventually, (ideally) some other party, recognizing some sort of gelling, moves the page into Discussion space. The ball is kicked around some and heavily edited by a wide spectrum of members. The page's Talk goes through a period of rapid growth and quick archival to history as challenges are met.

Perhaps after a time, editing slows on the page and in its talk. Throughout, the page has no force whatever; but now that its stability is evident, it begins to carry informal weight. A page might stall here and serve well in that position, or be nominated for "Guideline Candidate" (~ FAC). Successful pass of GC invokes a move to Policy namespace, with a formal endorsement.

Editing is now restricted: Changes must be aired on Talk first, and only then made directly to the page. So far, the matter is totally within meatball:SoftSecurity. But now, any change to the page may be reverted and the revert dominates absent clear consensus on Talk.

The aspiring Guideline may reach another point at which not only is the page stable in its new home, but so is its Talk. This bumps the page down to the next level (which, please, should be called almost anything but the clumsy and ambiguous "semi-policy" -- perhaps merely "Rule", as in "Rule of thumb", not rule of law.) Rules get a different tag and light hard security -- no anon edits, perhaps. Bad-faith meddling by registered users is penalized. Changes must pass at least a straw poll.

The widely-accepted Rule might, in time, acquire the force of Policy. The page is protected both de facto and de jure, and only admins can actually make changes, though expected to do so only after considerable Talk and a formal vote, with a quorum required. The final stage, of course -- which few pages should ever, ever reach -- is to be cemented as a Cornerstone -- essentially invulnerable from all change, except by great popular sentiment and concurrence by Top Dogs.

Any page may make it all the way; few will do so; most will find their proper level and stay there; some will float up and even down. But wherever a page finds itself, it will display a tag informing all visitors of how much the community stands behind this text and receive an appropriate degree of protection.

The current situation, in which any roving vandal may alter process then go on to commit other acts justified by the freshly-altered policy, is intolerably slap-dash. It was a fine way to run a small, informal community, but with at least a thousand deadly active users, it is too indefinite, too subject to interpretation, too inviting to the manipulative personality. Large communities need some real rules, with real teeth, and real metarules for controlling the scope and weight of rules.

I sympathize totally with anti-authoritarian bias. I once ran an online community as King Log with an explicit policy of pure anarchy, and it grew to include about 150 members. It was at exactly that point that the community lost control of itself, and one member crossed a boundary, and would not be restrained. Up to that point, I stoutly maintained I reserved no special power, and threw "admin powers" at randomly-selected members; none of us exercised any of it, though I did much routine technical janitor work. I ejected the troublesome member -- not as a matter of policy, but as a purely arbitrary exercise of power -- if there are no rules, then there are no rules limiting the exercise of power, either -- and I did not make the mistake of justifying or even discussing my action in any way, especially not by claiming the trouble user had infringed on what did not exist. This action cooled the enthusiasm of the community just enough to level off its population around the 150 mark. I left it long ago, and it still runs (at least the last time I looked) at about that level, though much changed in character.

I have come to understand that anarchy is a beautiful dream and need not imply chaos -- so long as a community is small and soft security can do all the work. But over 150, the big stick has to come out, sooner or later -- and the bigger you get, the more stick is inevitable. I do not like this; I do not like it at all -- but there is much I do not like, yet accept.

Xiongtalk* 04:29, 2005 May 5 (UTC)

I still think it's instruction creep.
Wikipedia already has rules; a vandal might alter the text of them (just to be reverted quickly), but he cannot alter the rules themselves (consider: if a vandal changed the Wikipedia:Deletion policy to say his articles cannot be deleted, would it have any effect?). The text is just an attempt at representing the rules. There are already metarules in effect (but whether they are written or not, it's another history). These rules have sort of evolved from the iteraction of the editors, and sometimes as a reaction against actions perceived as damaging to the spirit of Wikipedia (for instance, WP:POINT obviously evolved as a reaction to people who disrupted the wiki to make a point). Every once in a while, someone either notices a previously uwritten rule and describes it, or proposes a new one and lets the comunity change it until it's good enough (or reject it if it's obviously bogus).
The only true unchangeable rules on Wikipedia are, in fact, the foundation issues, and to a large scale the general sentiment that it's an "encyclopedia" and not something else (described at Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not).
It would be hard to be more specific than is done currently about how much the community stands behind a policy. The current "fuzzy" definition fits well; any attempt to be more specific is bound to generate more heat than light.
And as for the big stick, do not worry — I have noticed that as the wiki grows larger, the tolerance to abuse grows smaller. It's a small change, and not that easy to notice, but consider for instance that the 3RR rule isn't that old (and it started as just a guideline).
--cesarb 05:15, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

New discussion