Requests for comment/Designated space for editors to give and seek advice about topic bans and other sanctions

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The following request for comments is closed. No consensus. --MF-W 14:22, 21 August 2017 (UTC)


Should we establish an information noticeboard for helping editors who have been sanctioned on wikipedia? This page would work more or less like RSN and NPOVN, providing editors with non-binding information about how topic bans work, expectations, etiquette, filing complaints and appeals. The goal of this page would be to help topic-banned editors continue or return to constructive editing on wikipedia, as well as to help each other in a constructive way here.

A mockup of the proposed page can be found here.

The full-length Inspire Campaign proposal is here.

  • Option A) Yes, establish this page here at Meta-Wiki.
  • Option B) Establish this page but not here at Meta-Wiki.
  • Option C) No, do not establish this page.
  • Option D) Other.

Please feel free to post a neutral notice at local Wikis to publicize this RfC

EDIT: To clarify, the core idea behind this proposed noticeboard is that topic bans would not be in force there so that editors could focus on improving their behavior and situations without fear of being blocked. See the mockup for more detail. 21:12, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

Option A[edit]

  1. Support as proposer, if judged acceptable. My suggestion is to use meta to demonstrate in a pilot that the board will help other editors and not cause any problems. That's much easier to do here. Editors blocked in their local wikis already have access. Topic banned editors can talk about their topic bans here too. And the WM:NOT rules are reasonable guidelines to help keep discussions calm and courteous. It should also help that editors are out of the environment in which problems arose. I see the lower footfall as an advantage for the early stages. I suggest two stages to the pilot. For the first stage, the main aim is to show that it can help editors, with a low footfall, so no link from local wiki ban notice templates, or link for short periods. The second stage is to show it can scale up to a higher footfall, with a permanent link - something like "You can also ask for help on the ESN board (on meta)". The pilot will also help establish the scope of the board, for instance, whether it is useful for other sanctions. I see many technical issues for a pilot on Wikipedia - programming, also compatibility with existing guidelines, which are not a problem on meta.
    1. On wikipedia, we would need to modify the rule that a topic banned editor can only ask questions relating to scope of the topic ban etc through the enforcing administrator,. That's by en:WP:BMB (en:WP:BANEX seems to contradict en:WP:BMB; however by our experience of how they are enforced en:WP:BMB is customarily given precedence). Two major changes are needed: first, they can ask for help, on the new board only, for questions anyone can assist with (closing admin of course still gives rulings). Second, they may need to do things not covered in en:WP:BMB e.g. referring to events that lead to the ban as examples to ask for help on how to modify their behaviour. We may need to demonstrate the board's value first before such changes have a chance of being passed.
    2. Topic banned editors may be unable to help set up the board, especially if they use their experiences of their own topic ban, and questions they couldn't get answers to, as examples to motivate the proposal. For the reason, based on my own experience, see Location.
    3. Blocked topic banned editors will not be able to help set up the board on wikipedia - yet they are amongst the ones with most insight into it.
    4. May be technical issues with permitting blocked editors to post to the board in wikipedia, especially in a pilot. A topic banned editor could lose access to the board when blocked, when they most need it.
    None of these are a problem on meta. In short on meta topic banned and blocked editors can work on the project. We have two such keen volunteers already. While on wikipedia these volunteers would be unable to help, and there are technical issues with wikipedia we wouldn't face on meta. I suggest the first priority is an opportunity for a small scale pilot to show that it can work, which is easier to do on meta. If the pilot is a success, we can resume this discussion to decide where it goes next. Robert Walker (talk) 23:25, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
  2. Support as second choice. Think this would help level out some of the learning curve for newly joined Wikipedians. Per location, this has the advantage that editors who are blocked from their Wikipedias already have access to Meta-Wiki, no modifications required. The downside is that it would be harder for editors to find. (Topic bans issued at Wikipedias are not in force here, but even if we don't need ArbCom's permission it would still be best to get their and the community's endorsement. Admins and other editors knowledgeable about ANI and AE would make good contributors.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:35, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
  3. Support as first choise. As I have no time, more comment after days. --Kusurija (talk) 07:45, 23 July 2016 (UTC)
  4. Support as first choice. Meta-Wiki can sometimes be called the "Hub" of Wikimedia due to it having topics about other Wikis, so this would be a great place to come. --X2A3Q (talk) 12:50, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  5. Support. I'm torn between this and Wikipedia as my first choices, but I think that posting this here would be most beneficial since it'd potentially be less disruptive, as Wikimedia is a step away from the main language Wikipedias so posting here would potentially give people time to cool their heads (if they're upset) or better phrase their questions (since they'd have to post someone other than Wikipedia. The only downfall is that this might be more difficult for some to find, however that isn't insurmountable. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 08:08, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
    Weak Support. Unless people have the opportunity to comment anonymously, the usual "chilling effect" and fear of retribution that has already driven so many valued contributors from the site will prevail. You would also need a better system of curation/clerking/code of conduct than the current chaos that is arbcom. Has anyone asked the arbitration committee what they think? —Neotarf (talk) 21:08, 25 July 2016 (UTC)Withdrawing support after proposal rewritten for clarification. This looks just like WP:ARCA. —Neotarf (talk) 21:29, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
  6. Support. This option seems to make the most sense because at least on Meta, there are fewer people who are in the thrall of the Great Leader. - Thekohser (talk) 02:50, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
  7. Support as first choice. Meta would be a logical place for this kind of board. Music1201 talk 01:21, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
  8. Support. Too often, moderators make it impossible to discuss a ban on the local chapter. Other communication avenues are usually made unavailable as well. Meta is the only place that remains. The Jolly Bard (talk) 16:13, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

Option B[edit]

  1. Support as first choice. If this were hosted on respective Wikipedias, it would be easier to watchlist and add to templates (preferably the "You are now subject to a sanction" template). Per location, this has the disadvantage of not allowing blocked editors access. Because it must make an exception to limited bans, it would absolutely require endorsement from the community or ArbCom, preferably both, in advance. I would like to add that both sample questions in the mockup refer to things that actually happened. The second one has happened two or three times since January. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:35, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
  2. Support as a long term goal I see the advantages long term but think it is best done at a later stage after a pilot scheme here on meta. As a result of the pilot we may then have the admin support to achieve it, and have demonstrated that the idea works and then it would be much more likely we can achieve the desired exemptions to make it feasible on wikipedia. I also feel strongly that this board should not abandon topic banned editors if they get blocked on wikipedia so there would need to be block exemptions too, not just topic ban exemptions, for it to go ahead on wikipedia. Robert Walker (talk) 11:24, 22 July 2016 (UTC)
  3. Support as second choise. As I have no time now, more comment after days. --Kusurija (talk) 07:47, 23 July 2016 (UTC)
  4. I would suggest something like m:OTRS or w:WP:UTRS, so the questions can be asked in private, to minimize drama. --Rschen7754 09:27, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
    If you ask the questions in private, they will ignore you in private. —Neotarf (talk) 02:36, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
  5. Support as first choice. I would prefer for matters relating to wikipedia, such as a topic ban, to also have discussions regarding that also be located within Wikipedia. No one will find it here.-- 93.143.122.122 11:44, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  6. Not a bad idea but Meta-Wiki certainly isn't the place for it. Ajraddatz (talk) 18:19, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  7. Support. Like I said above, I'm torn between this as my first or second choice, although I'd tentatively say that Meta-Wiki is the best place for this at this point in time. Placing it on Wikipedia would make it far more visible, however I'd like to see this go through a test run on Meta-Wiki before putting it on Wikipedia, mainly because there's a definite sink or swim type of deal there. Putting it on MW would give the crew a chance to iron out any wrinkles, much akin to what Robert wrote. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 08:11, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
    Support as first choice. The venue would need to be off-wiki, and allow anonymity (no checkuser). Maybe WMF? —Neotarf (talk) 21:08, 25 July 2016 (UTC)Withdrawing support after proposal rewritten for clarification, this already exists as WP:ARCA. —Neotarf (talk) 21:29, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
  8. Support Page should be on the appropriate wiki, not on Meta-Wiki. Gsnerd (talk) 21:41, 28 July 2016 (UTC)

Option C[edit]

  1. You can already mail admins, your local arbcom (if it is an AC-saction) or ask at your local IRC channel if you can't ask questions at a noticeboard. A special page is merely an extra venue that easely allows extra harassment. No need for an extra time consuming service when there are plenty of other ways to get the information required. Please also reaslise that all the other projects aren't en-wiki. How do you make sure that there won't be an en-wiki bias? Natuur12 (talk) 12:49, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
    You can only email people if your email has not been disabled. And the way to get an answer about to why your email is disabled is... —Neotarf (talk) 21:08, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
    You can still email your local Arbcom and sometimes it is plain and simple. Case closed. A notice board wouldn't reolve that. Natuur12 (talk) 08:45, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
    Sure they publish their email address, but did you ever try to email them? They ignore you. Plain and simple, case closed. And no one knows you emailed them, no one knows they refused to answer. —Neotarf (talk) 02:40, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
    I emailed the committee once and got a response, although i wasn't blocked or banned... and they probably don't respond to everything if they're busy. Aren't emailing questions to OTRS and block appeals to UTRS options also? Ca2james (talk) 03:32, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
    The option of OTRS was raised during the discussion of this proposal. I emailed OTRS a question to see what would happen (and to get the answer; it's all copypasted there). The short answer is that I did get a good response but it took three days, which would be too long for advice on an ongoing ANI or AE thread. The other downside is that it wasn't public. The advantages of the type of noticeboard proposed here is that everything would be visible to everyone. If the same questions come up over and over, admins would be able to see which ones and modify WP:TBAN or whatever other guideline as needed. Also, you'll notice that the OTRS volunteer was one person and not fully confident of his/her answer. This would work like RSN or NPOVN: a consensus of multiple editors. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:33, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
    Communication lines tend to get closed very quickly on certain local Wikipedias, including nl:Wikipedia, which Natuur12 knows very well. So yes, a designated space would be most welcome. The Jolly Bard (talk) 00:37, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
    Yes, we tend to exclude socks of people who got Arbcom banned after severe harassment of a fellow editor without giving them a platform to continue disrupting the community. Arbcom gave you instructions on how to appeal your ban. If you want to be unbanned do it, otherwise drop it and stop spreading lies. Natuur12 (talk) 08:19, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
  2. No. --Steinsplitter (talk) 13:33, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  3. Restrictions on a contributor are typically based on behaviour which has been found to be disruptive. This proposal would provide a venue for restricted contributors to continue that behaviour, and hence is prima facie conducive to continuing disruption. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:18, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  4. I am not convinced that this board is actually needed. It seems that many of the questions being asked could be answered with better documentation and perhaps an explanatory essay. Moreover, this RfC is confusing, because it asks if/where such a board should be held but it seems to me that the creators are saying that they'll do it on Meta first and then en-wp. If that's been decided, there's no need for this RfC. I also have concerns that topic banned editors would continue their arguments and cast aspersions against the person who originally asked for action to be taken, and that's not ok. I am also concerned that banned editors would continue disruption, especially if the topic ban didn't apply there. I'm also concerned that banned editors might get bad advice and rely on it. As an example, it's been stated that BANEX says the banned editor can only contact the enforcing admin and that is not the case. I think before such a board is considered, it would be better to improve the available documentation; if, after that, it seems like the board could be useful it could be considered then. Ca2james (talk) 19:07, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
    Adding: if this is mostly for en-wikipedia (which is what it seems), it would make more sense to incorporate it into the Teahouse, which is a place where editors can get help on culture and how things work. Ca2james (talk) 03:26, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
    Currently, posting questions like this at the teahouse or anywhere would be a topic ban violation. Would you like to add "Make the Teahouse a topic-ban-exempt zone" to Option D? Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:34, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
    Right, it would be a topic ban violation, as it would be anywhere on the project where the editor is topic-banned. Because I disagree with parts of the proposal itself - in particular, the "talking about the filing editors" part (paraphrased), as I see that as continuing the disruption for which the editor was topic banned - I don't support the current proposal for this board. Therefore, I would prefer not to add another option to this RfC. Thanks though. Ca2james (talk) 14:56, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
  5. Per Rogol Domedonfors. Banned editors are banned because of disruptive behavior and are only banned after they have used up all the community's patience. The only exception to this is ArbCom related bans which can be appeals through AN or through ArbCom. There is zero need for this. To host this on meta (option A) would be pointless. Meta has no authority over Enwiki matters. To host this on Enwiki (option B) would just further the disruption that the ban was put in place for. We have methods for appeal. They work. Bans that should be upheld are and bans that should be overturned are. If there needs to be clarification on how and where appeals can be filed so be it. But that discussion needs to happen on Enwiki. Not here. No need for this at all. --Majora (talk) 04:17, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
  6. Nope. — regards, Revi 10:38, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
  7. Agree with above comments in this side.--DangSunM (talk) 11:41, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
  8. Definitely not on Meta as this will result in extremely biased discussions. People on Meta usually do not know local rules, nor they know local contest, and in some cases they can't even understand the language (imagine someone appealing a topic ban on Cebuano Wikipedia...). Thus such discussions will be based solely on the banned user's point of view, and occasionally on local administrator's point of view if they ever happen to participate in the discussion, with most participants having little to no knowledge of local policies. Such spaces might be created on local wikis, but this should be subject to compliance with local rules and consensus of their communities — NickK (talk) 11:21, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
    @NickK: Not sure if this is a factor for you, but just to say that after your response I had a look at my response plus the proposal, and it could be clearer that we aren't trying to find a way to change wikipedia topic banning policies or to influence admin decisions in any way. There would be no need for the admin to participate as any substantial questions would go through them, the board is mainly to help editors understand their situation better, help them to find solutions, through constructive feedback, and deal with mundane questions. Have done a bit of editing and hopefully makes it a little clearer. See What is the problem you're trying to solve? Robert Walker (talk) 16:58, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
    @Robertinventor: Still, I see little use in having a separate page for this, especially on Meta. We need to know the context before answering the question or providing help to someone. If the user in question already understands what went wrong and why they received this sanction, they will most likely need very specific help (e.g. "I was banned in Cebuano Wikipedia for violating copyright but now I understand my mistake, how can I appeal this ban?") that can be better provided by local users. If the user in question does not understand what went wrong (e.g. "I was improving Cebuano Wikipedia but they banned me, what can I do?"), we need a person who is aware of the context and local rules to explain the situation and possible solutions. I can imagine little use in having this on Meta, and I believe that local communities may already have places for discussing this — NickK (talk) 17:12, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
    Robertinventor, if this board were created on local Wikipedias then your statement that "we aren't trying to find a way to change wikipedia topic banning policies or to influence admin decisions in any way" may not be true. In particular, on en-wikipedia, BANEX is part of a policy, and allowing editors to talk about either the events leading up to the ban or editors who filed or were involved with the ban is not allowed by that policy. So you would need a change to that policy to make this board work. Other local wiki's may have similar policies. Ca2james (talk) 18:13, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
    My response continues here: #Continuation of conversation about the need for the board thanks. Robert Walker (talk) 18:38, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

Option D[edit]

Discussion[edit]

  • Comment I could see it starting off in wikipedia first, if we already somehow had a lot of support from sympathetic and knowledgeable admins who reassure us that it is feasible, before attempting the idea, especially if they have some kind of an action plan or pathway that seems likely to lead to success. But I think we are likely to need a pilot to demonstrate that the idea works, to attract this level of support.

    There's also the technical issue that I probably can't discuss it on wikipedia anyway, until my ban expires in November, see Location. Also, from previous experience including the events that lead to my own topic ban, I don't think I'm a suitable person to attempt a major change of rules, without a lot of support first, from others more knowledgeable and used to how things work in wikipedia. I was topic banned mainly for writing too much on a particular talk page. In my experience of talking to admins, this is even more of an issue as they are pressed for time. We need someone who is good at writing short comments and swift repartee. And @Darkfrog24:, who is much better at short responses than me, won't be able to take part in the discussions there.

    I can see the merits of wikipedia as a location, but someone else would have to be the one leading the initiative if we do find a way to do it that way. We would need enthusiastic support from someone able to do all the discussions and proposals on wikipedia to get it underway there. In this case, @Darkfrog24: and I could only join in later once the board is set up. Robert Walker (talk) 23:25, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
Regarding OTRS, there's no reason we couldn't establish this board and create a private system. A few weeks ago, I asked an OTRS volunteer a question about publicizing this proposal. The volunteer did answer my question head-on and thoughtfully, but it took three days. That's too long for our fast-paced AE and ANI discussions. I personally feel that a public forum would have many advantages. It would allow comments from multiple editors, for one. For another, if we notice that five different people misinterpreted WP:BANEX or WP:TBAN in the exact same way, we could use that information to reword the guideline so that it is clearer. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:04, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Response to @Natuur12: Good points which we need to address. BTW I'm commenting here because it gets confusing to have discussion threads on the responses themselves. Just speaking for myself, and to address your second point about local wikis and en bias first, I see it as a pilot scheme here rather than necessarily the final venue, and most likely to be mainly en to start with, and at any rate, English speaking. As a pilot I would see it as having a low footfall as we establish how it works. At some point during the pilot scheme, we'd ask to get a mention on the en wikipedia sanction announcements - the ones that go on the talk pages of banned editors announcing the decision, as an extra link they can follow for help here on meta. Eventually though, if the pilot scheme is a success, we would have to have separate boards for the local wikis. Apart from anything else, local wikis often use different languages and a multi-lingual board would be confusing. So at that point, and assuming it has been successful and proved its worth, then I would see it hosted at the local wikis myself. That would be a matter of discussion at that point, once it has proved itself, what the future venue should be. But technically it is easier to do the pilot here on meta, to demonstrate that it works.
As for using existing channels, well, I can use myself as an example as a topic banned editor. The only person I can ask questions of is the editor who enforced the decision, and he is a busy admin of few words who doesn't answer most of my questions. That seems to be quite typical. It's understandable, as they are overworked. I can't take the questions anywhere else on wiki, as the TBANEX en:WP:BANEX makes it clear I can only go through the closing admin. So part of the aim is to take the workload off these busy admins by setting up a board for this. It also permits self help, where topic banned editors can help each other. It means too that you get many perspectives, others may fill knowledge gaps in the first response, and because it is done publicly you have a record of the conversation - though it is of course non binding, for information only, this would go a long way towards helping editors to establish good faith in actions they did as a consequence of the discussion on the board. For more on this see the new section What about OTRS - private email in the proposal. How does this seem to you? Robert Walker (talk) 16:57, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Regarding your first point. Did you investigate if other projects really need such a notice board? It looks like you are trying to find a wiki wide solution for something that might, or might be not a problem at en-wiki. Regarding your second point. I fail to see it. You can appeal your topic ban at administrators' noticeboard. At least that is what the ban notification at your talk page states. The questions you asked have been answered. Perhaps you confuse doesn't answer with I disagree with the answer? Could you please point out where the en-wiki banning policy states that you may not ask questions about your topic ban at the administrators noticeboard or another admins talk page? Natuur12 (talk) 17:56, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
@Natuur12 If you are banned from discussing a topic, and you try to discuss the ban, it will be held against you. They will say you violated the topic ban, and they will refuse. the same thing will happen if you have an interaction ban with someone, even if the other user initiates some action to rescind it. I have seen people blocked for this, instead of discussing with them the terms of the ban. And of course, if someone is blocked, they are unable to edit at all. They would have to create a sock puppet to appeal their ban, and the appeal would most certainly be denied, since the sockpuppet would violate the terms of the ban. —Neotarf (talk) 03:21, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
@Natuur12: It's for the meta part of meta wiki rather than the cross wiki. You can get an idea of why we feel there's a need for this board from the endorsements section of our proposal from other editors sharing their experiences. I hope some of them will contribute to this RfC at some point, the problem is that meta is low traffic so it may take them a while to spot our pings of them.
It is not easy at all to get answers to basic questions about your ban. See one of my attempts here: [1]. We still don't know whether or not I can publicize this RfC on the Village Pump in wikipedia and he didn't answer my question about whether I can ask this question of anyone else either, he just ended the conversation. The safest conclusion to make from that is that just asking that question of anyone else on wikipedia is a potential ban violation, at any rate I don't want to risk trying. We meet this issue at every turn, that just asking questions can potentially be a ban violation. I can't point to a rule because he didn't explain why he ended the conversation.
Meta lets us talk about the topic bans and sanctions in a way that is impossible within wikipedia. The WM:NOT rules are exactly what we need to say what is acceptable for these meta discussions of our bans to ask for help. Perhaps at some point we can establish rules that permit these meta discussions within wikipedia itself, but that's likely to be easier to do if we have already shown that it works well and is helping others here on meta. The BANEX restrictions are too restrictive, especially in the way they are enforced in practice, and also make it impossible for us to help each other, as we can only get help from busy admins who don't have time to answer questions. I hope that's a bit clearer? Robert Walker (talk) 18:13, 24 July 2016 (UTC)
@Robert Walker: But shouldn't this be resolved by changing the en-wiki policy regarding the topic ban than? I read their banning policy and I believe that the format is problematic. Vague and to broad. Plus a lot can be resolved using lighter sactions like short blocks, article ban, revert ban, reducing the lenght and number of comments one may place etc. No, I have never been topic banned and I never issued one in my two years off being a NL-wiki Arb but this experience did learn me how emotional people can get over a ban, especially if they believe a ban is unfair but this proposal isn't going to resolve your problem. EdJohnston was pretty clear in my opinion btw. You cannot post the link in the VP untill your ban expires or a non banned participant has to do so. Natuur12 (talk) 08:43, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
You don't get the point Natuur12. A ban have to be fare and it is a very good idea that someone can talk free about his ban. And if someone is emotional, what is the point? Maybe someone is right, and is the ban not fare, and is that the reason someone is emotional. So, whats your point? Justice for all, always (talk) 16:22, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Natuur is saying that he or she does think that en-wiki policy about bans should change, Justice, even if not in the exact way proposed here. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:38, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Maybe I am wrong, but I thought that it should be a platform for all Wiki's, so I don't get the point what the English Wikipedia in piticulair has to do with this plan. In my option it's a very good idea that people from outside have a second look. A second opinion. Because many times blocks are mixt up with emotion, I agree, old problems, and arbcom commissions are far from professional. Like most sysops. Why not, is there something to hide? What is the problem? Why is Natuur12 objecting? Justice for all, always (talk) 17:18, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
@Justice for all, always: - yes that's how I see it also. It's a place where they can get a second look. And to help editors find their own solutions too. The more it goes on, the better the advice will be as there will be others there to correct it. Yes, I think that we just feel our way there. Especially as a pilot, I think we can see how it goes. Expect to get editors from different wikis coming to it, perhaps not so many from, say, the Japanese wiki because of language issues. But wherever they come from if anyone finds it helpful, they are welcome, I would say. They will know we won't have specialist knowledge of their local wiki - but there again, someone there might, you never know, and often it might just be a need to talk and a second perspective. I think a lot of these questions are really ones we can only find the answers to by trying it and seeing how it works out. Robert Walker (talk) 22:33, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
@Natuur12: First to explain why I just deleted my previous reply to you, which nobody had replied to. I have issues only on wikipedia with length of posts and that is part of the reason for my topic ban, posts that were too long on an RfC. I'm working very hard on fixing these issues, but still make mistakes, making posts that I see on reflection are too long and that one was an example.
I agree that a lot could be done with lighter sanctions, or sometimes none at all. I'm author of another proposal here, Grants:IdeaLab/Require notification first to encourage editors to attempt to resolve things amicably before reporting them for a ban discussion which would institute a two stage system, warnings first before bans, which I think would encourage voluntary changes of behaviour more and reduce the need for so many topic bans. But there would still be some topic banned editors, and that's what this is about. And it's not just about answering questions and finding solutions. Often the editor themselves, I expect, will find their own solutions and a lot I think will be about listening and helping them to find their way to a solution .
I understand that Ed Johnston was clear to you but he wasn't to me, and I could definitely have done with something like the ESN to both understand what he meant in his answer to my question about whether I can publicize the RfC on the village pump, and if he hadn't ended the conversation, I'd have had follow up questions about what I can and can't do if others want to discuss this proposal on wikipedia, can I get involved in any way on meta or must I distance from that completely? As for changing their banning policy - I think typically these things have evolved over many years of debate and my guess would be that it is probably not as easy to change as one might think and might have many repercussions. While adding this board doesn't involve any policy changes wikiwide. On topic ban appeals, this is getting a bit long so just to link you to a few thoughts here but can discuss it further if you want to, see: Help for editors who want to appeal
Just to add, I'm an editor in good standing on wikipedia otherwise, doing productive editing - currently working on their microtonal articles but I work in many topic areas [2] - mine is just a six months topic ban in one minor topic area mainly covered on a single page. But it was enough to get direct understanding of the issues topic banned editors face and as a result I felt a strong wish to try to help others in similar situations or worse. Robert Walker (talk) 00:14, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Just to be clear. I seldom swing the ban hammer but when someone is blocked and/or banned indef from a project it should be over and this person should leave. Giving editors that are no longer welcome a forum to continue being disruptive is something that possibly endangers the mental wellbeing of other editors like the one who had to endure severe harassment. Banned is banned. End of the line. Period. Those editors should defiantly not get another venue to continue their disruption.
Did anyone ever investigate if the current venue’s are indeed insufficient besides from the experience of people who refuse to accept they did something wrong and people having bad experiences because the en-wiki topic ban is badly formatted? I am more familiar with the Dutch Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons and I really don’t recognize the problems you describe for those two projects. The Dutch Arbcom does reply (unless you send them rants on a daily basis), Commons admins do reply. This is still an en-wiki problem that people are trying to resolve with a global solution while they should search for one locally.
Changing a policy can be hard and I don’t have enough feeling regarding the en-wiki community and their political playfield but did anyone try? Sometimes you just happen to be lucky enough that the right people agree with you. Personally I don’t mind the length of your posts. Just takes me a little longer to reply. Natuur12 (talk) 08:33, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

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@Natuur12: Okay thanks, first glad the length of my posts is okay, that's reassuring to me. One of the nice things about the RfCs on meta is that they don't have the same time pressure as the ones on wikipedia so we can take our time about replies. Take as long as required! In my case the first thing I asked Ed Johnston is if I can take the questions elsewhere. He didn't reply. But if you take a look at en:WP:BMB it says

If there is any doubt whether a limited ban prohibits any specific edit, the banned editor should assume that it does, unless whoever imposed the ban expressly clarifies that it does not. If clarification is not sought before making the edit, the banned editor assumes the risk that an administrator takes a broader view of the scope of the ban and enforces it with a block or other sanction.

(emphasis added)

So I think the answer there is No. It is pretty clear, on en.wikipedia at least, that questions about the scope of the ban have to go through the admin who imposed the ban, in my case Ed Johnston. Since he ended the conversation, without answering my questions, I am not permitted to take them anywhere else. I think that much of the guideline is unambiguous on my reading.

On your view that "banned is banned", I can understand that view but that is not how judicial processes normally work. Since there is a risk of miscarriages of justice in any legal system, there are normally options for appeal and also support available for those who wish to appeal their case. Of course it is not a real legal system, and the admins are not trained in jurisprudence, but I think it is close enough to one for the analogy to be relevant, and on en.wikipedia at least, the topic ban notice says

You may appeal this sanction at the administrators' noticeboard. You may also appeal directly to me (on my talk page), before or instead of appealing to the noticeboard. Even if you appeal this sanction, you remain bound by it until you are notified by an uninvolved administrator that the appeal has been successful. You are also free to contact me on my talk page if anything of the above is unclear

Which I think myself is as it should be. Note also that the board is not only for comments on whether an editor thinks they have grounds for appeal. Indeed I think that's likely to be a minor, though important, part of its functioning. It's also to ask questions about gray area edits and many other things. We made a bullet point list of some of the topics it would cover in the Examples of things we may be able to help you with for the ESN Mockup. Robert Walker (talk) 09:02, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

It looks like en-Wikipedia's BMB and BANEX contradict each other a bit since BANEX doesn't say that the banned editor can only contact the enforcing admin. This contradiction is another reason why it would be better to work on clarifying the policy (and possibly writing an explanatory essay) before going any further with this board. Ca2james (talk) 14:48, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Right, but actual practice here, based on my experience, favours en:WP:BMB. @Darkfrog24:'s experience was the same, that they can only go through the enforcing admin. And one of the first things I asked Ed Johnston is if there is anywhere else I can go with the questions. I got no answer to that. But before I read that guideline I was already pretty sure the answer was No, as otherwise, why wouldn't he send me on to someone else or some forum with my questions? I've come across this before that the guidelines may seem to leave a lot of leeway but actual practice does not. I don't think it is likely that there would be much support for making that guideline more lenient as this interpretation of the guidelines must have built up over many years and discussions. Robert Walker (talk) 16:15, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
If actual practice on en-WP favours BMB, wouldn't it make sense to clarify BANEX to say the same thing as BMB so that the two are consistent? I understand that the guidelines are confusing not least because they don't always reflect actual practice but I'm not seeing that the best solution to confusion caused by unclear guidelines is to create a board of people interpreting them. I do understand that part of the point of such a board is to help topic-banned editors figure out what they can and can't do but it seems like an uphill battle if the guidelines aren't clear. Ca2james (talk) 16:37, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Right, I've just answered this in the other conversationthread on wikibullying so might be duplication to say it again. But in short, the guidelines can never be both short enough to be easily readable by non lawyers and at the same time 100% precise. I agree that those guidelines could do with clarification, but you have also to bear in mind the possibility that what seems like clarification to us, while clearing up one point, leads to the possibility of another reading that creates some other unintended confusion. I think changes in central guidelines like this happen rarely and are hard to do. Robert Walker (talk) 16:42, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. Time to stop second guessing why the system isn't working, and get someone with some actual expertise to look at it. —Neotarf (talk) 03:01, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
@Neotarf: I think these need a separate RfC if you want to ask for comments and support / oppose on meta. I think it is potentially confusing to do it as a sub RfC of the discussion here. Hope you understand. I actually am the proposer of one of them, and endorser of several, so there is nothing personal about this. Robert Walker (talk) 08:42, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
According to Meta:Requests for comment, RFC may be "useful to gain wider input regarding conflicts or unresolved issues". If you limit the scope of the question to topic bans, how many more RFC are you going to need? One for one-way I-ban, another for two-way I-ban, another for AE, still another one for clarifications requests or discretionary sanctions? How much of an attention span do you think the average Wikipedian has? No, you need a broader scope to the question. The fact is, the system is horribly broken, no one has ever taken the time to build community or set expectations about what sort of participation is discouraged, and the result is a toxic buzzsaw culture that chews up newbies and spits them out. I would recommend reading Jessamyn West's for the accidental community manager [“The one other thing that I think is essential for community enforcement is having a place where the community can discuss moderator actions.”] and also If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault, by Anil Dash.—Neotarf (talk) 01:19, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Wikibullying and other examples where topic banned editors need to discuss the behaviour of other editors - @Ca2james: - as you are an editor involved in my topic ban case[3], I wonder if you have my question about editors silencng other editors in the topic area in mind?. If so, I agree that unfounded allegations are definitely not okay, and whatever option suggested here is used, we would need something similar to WM:NOT guiding the discussions. But there is a guideline en:WP:BULLY, and we may get editors coming to the board who are topic banned as victims of it. In my case I know what happened, in a history of over a year now, but I don't know if it counts as wikibullying for purposes of appeal. For an editor in a similar situation who comes to the board, that would be their first question. For more on this see my Example of wikibullying on the proposal talk page, where I discuss this based on my own case. Please note, I use my case only as an example, no longer wish to appeal my case, am not using this RfC to raise the question in wikipedia, and I name no names. So I believe that this is not en:WP:PROXY. If I'm wrong in my understanding of this please say and I'll remove all mention of my particular case here and in that section, and just make this a general point about editors generally who may wonder if they have a case for appeal on these grounds. Robert Walker (talk) 08:18, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Robertinventor I wasn't talking about wikibullying. What I was referring to was (topic) banned editors coming to this board and talking about how another editor got them banned. The original proposal specifically says that one goal is to allow topic banned editors to "Talk about any issues you had with the conduct of the editors who took out the ban against you", and that's something that, if it's not outright disallowed (as it could be seen as casting aspersions), is disruptive as it continues the disruption that the editor was topic banned over. It's one thing to ask for help figuring out the limits of the ban but it's quite another to be able to continue the discussion after it has already been resolved. Imagine being the editor who finally took the topic banned editor to AN/ANI/AE, after a very long period of disruption, and who thinks the discussion is over - only to find out that the topic banned editor is talking about them somewhere else because they don't think the ban was fair or disagree with the filing editor's conduct. It may be natural to want to talk about the filing editor's conduct but that's a discussion that will only bring disruption if it's held on wiki[m|p]edia. Ca2james (talk) 14:42, 27 July 2016 (UTC) (edited to add permalink to the version of the proposal I'm commenting on Ca2james (talk) 18:36, 27 July 2016 (UTC))
@Ca2james: While one of the purposes of this page is to allow topic-banned editors to draw attention to any procedural issues, misconduct or impropriety that took place during the banning process, I'd like to draw your attention to the introduction to the mockup. Front and center, it reads, "all other ordinary rules concerning civility and conduct still apply." This means that while someone posting to this board couldn't be blocked for violating a topic-ban, they could still be blocked for casting aspersions, just like in any other on-Wiki situation. I'm assuming that we both consider "aspersions" to be accusations not accompanied by proof. Topic-banned editors who do have proof, however, should have a venue in which to present it. That would be one the needs that this board would meet.
Would a word or two in the noticeboard's introduction specifically referring to accusations without proof mitigate any of your concerns, even if you still wouldn't go so far as to support it? Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:24, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
I don't think that would be enough because "proof" is a nebulous concept. Moreover, it isn't fair to the other editor to talk about their actions without notifying them because there are always at least two sides to every story, and if they are notified, then the dispute continues and that is not helpful. I understand that part of the point of this sort of board is to support editors who have been recently topic-banned but allowing them to continue the dispute that got them topic-banned isn't helping them or the encyclopaedia. The best support such a board could give is to help topic-banned editors accept and come to terms with the ban; help them file an appeal (which would not be based on another editor's conduct, no matter how egregious: each editor is responsible for their own actions and a person is banned or unbanned solely as a result their own conduct, not anyone else's); help them figure out what to do now that they can't edit in that area; and possibly help them figure out if they can make a particular edit (although really, the answer should pretty much always be no - the idea of a topic ban is for an editor to leave the area entirely and contribute positively in other areas, so they shouldn't even be considering editing in a gray area). Much of that could be done with better documentation. Ca2james (talk) 16:20, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
@Ca2james: and @Darkfrog24: part of it at least is my clumsy phrasing of the What is the problem you're trying to solve? section in the proposal so this is just a note to say I've done an edit there, to fix that much at least, changed "issues" to "relevant issues" and added an extra para: "Note, the need is specifically for a place where editors can do meta discussion of the sanctions, see rest of this proposal for details. All other ordinary rules concerning civility, conduct and WM:NOT will apply, <<GUIDELINES PENDING>> see ESN mockup. Good point about accusations without proof. Robert Walker (talk) 16:24, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
@Ca2james: - that was a reply to your earlier response hadn't seen your latest. Robert Walker (talk) 16:26, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

@Ca2james: - a few observations. First - documentation only gets you so far, people need human support and some people aren't good at reading documentation, and they also need interactive help, which can't be done through documentation. In my case I'm working on how to make these types of RfC comments shorter and to avoid en:WP:BLUDGEON and that's something where other editors can help me, but documentation is not likely to be useful. And whatever documentation you have, then either it is succint, and subject to interpretation, or it runs for thousands of pages of legally precise words, in which case it does spell everything out, or nearly everything, in detail, but only lawyers can read it. So I don't think we can realistically expect to make the guidelines 100% precise here. Robert Walker (talk) 16:38, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

@Ca2james: On your other point - yes in an ideal system with perfectly applied justice, the only person at fault is the topic banned editor. But you will always have some miscarriages of justice, as after all there would be no need for appeal if the system was perfect.

Also, sometimes it may be a valid complaint, but some issue arises with the process. E.g. with the timing, an editor takes out a valid case, but does it at exactly the right moment to delay or obstruct some action against them, or to distract from a case they are losing. Or it could be that they do it without first attempting to resolve the problem editor's behaviour amicably. In both cases the action is valid, they had just cause, but there are issues with the process itself. Such cases could involve discussing whether the way the other editor behaved was appropriate. In some cases there might be issues with the admins as well.

In addition to all that, the thing is also, that we want it to be a friendly place, so if an editor comes to the board, raging / scared / anxious etc, the first thing is to help them to calm down and focus on what they can do constructively. That is unless of course it is obviously libelous or some such where it just can't be permitted at all. And that's another way in which the board can help, and no amount of documentation can provide that human touch of someone to just listen to their case. Sometimes all they may need is someone to listen and then they figure out what to do next by themselves.

So, at that point, first comers to the board, I think them just saying a few bad things about other editors should be treated with a bit of leniency. Like listening to a friend who is in trouble. In just this board, for the first few comments, so long as they show that their reason for coming to the board is to seek help. I think that would become clear quite quickly. If they do, they will be glad to be guided in the direction of more constructive conversation as that's what they came there for. I did actually work out several different sets of ideas for ways of dealing with situations like this during the proposal discussions, in considerable detail indeed, but @Darkfrog24: I think wisely suggested we don't put these into the mockup but leave it just as <<GUIDELINES PENDING>>. There would also for sure be some situations where the conversation has to continue via email so they don't have to say things publicly, and we have also discussed this.

I feel I've said rather a lot today, hopefully not too much yet, but I think it's time to get on with the many other things I need to do :). After all the RfCs here are quite leisurely. Back tomorrow. Robert Walker (talk) 17:02, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Robert, I don't think C2 misinterpreted what you wrote about what the board would be for. He/she just doesn't agree. I'll add two more points, though. What about cases in which misconduct on the part of the accuser is not related to the behavior that inspired the ban? Right now, going to WP:INVOLVED with "I just found out that the accuser and enforcing admin are cousins" is a topic ban violation. ::Second point, I see no reason why there can't be an editor sanction noticeboard and clearer text describing topic bans and their exceptions. Doing one would not interfere with the other. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:15, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: Oh I think that's me being clumsy. Yes I agree that's a good example. And yes I agree on clearer text. I agree @Ca2james:'s modifications need doing because the guidelines are unclear, if we can find any way of doing it. My point on the topic ban text was based on previous experience, not very much but I suggested a couple of minor changes in guideline text, no change in meaning, just clearer text.
Perhaps I could have just "been bold" and edited them but nobody else was doing it although we had consensus that it was unclear. I was reluctant to edit myself. Because so much depends on the statements of the guidelines and they are result of so much past discussion. I think of them as a bit like treaty texts :).
Yes, in our experience en:WP:BMB has precedence. But it might be that in other situations we don't know about, en:WP:TBANEX en:WP:BANEX has precedence. If legal situations are a good analogy, the safest thing is to leave the contradiction in place and add extra guidance to resolve it in particular cases, like they do in law. If en:WP:BMB always has precedence, and en:WP:TBANEX is just a mistake, of course they could just rewrite en:WP:TBANEX en:WP:BANEX. But I'd have thought it would have been sorted out years ago already if it was as simple as that.
It's just my impression and I might be wrong, but if that's right one solution might be to add extra guidelines instead, just add a link to the new page, and of course take great care in drafting it as many subsequent decisions might be made based on the wording of it. If so, it's still probably more for admins to be involved in rather than ordinary wikipedians. Because for instance what if the new clarifying text says "You have to go through the closing admin" but in established practice there are actually rare exceptions to that, which aren't spelt out on the page? Then it would be misleading in the opposite direction. Only an experienced topic ban admin could know, or reading through pages and pages of discussions and past rulings.
Clearer text I agree of course helps, and they might rewrite the text as a result if they see that the current guidelines are found confusing by people posting to the board. I hope that's a bit clearer now. In that way the ESN might help with clearing up confusions in the guideline indirectly. Robert Walker (talk) 17:30, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
I also think that the text should be clarified and updated as Ca2 and some others have suggested, but that is so different from the creation of an editor sanction noticeboard that it should probably be handled separately. The place to start would be the talk page of WP:TBAN or even ARCA for anything directly pertaining to ArbCom or AE. It even has "clarification" in the acronym. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:00, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
Agreed on all that for my part Robert Walker (talk) 18:08, 28 July 2016 (UTC)

Continuation of conversation about the need for the board[edit]

@NickK: Continuing here as I don't want a long conversation to develop as a thread - makes the responses hard to read.

Oh right, we have examples of the sorts of questions they would ask in ESN Mockup also in Example topics. These come from our own experiences of trying to get answers to questions. Sometimes, yes, they involve detailed local knowledge but the idea is that it would attract editors who can help each other as in the other informational boards as well as perhaps some sympathetic and interested admins. @Darkfrog24: for instance has helped me a lot in understanding details of various aspects of how the topic bans work on en.wikipedia while drafting this proposal. It would be like other similar boards on wikipedia, non binding, informational.

And yes, you'd think local wikis would have a solution for this already, but they don't. Certainly not the en one. The issue is that you can't mention your banned topic or the activities that lead to it or the topic ban discussions to anyone on wikipedia except the closing admin or during an appeal and other very limited exceptions en:WP:TBANEX en:WP:BANEX suggests you can ask anyone knowledgeable but en:WP:BMB makes it clear you can only ask the closing admin and in our experience that has precedence. Also the few exceptions are treated very strictly - as you can see when I attempted to ask an admin if I can publicize this RfC on wikipedia[4]. He stops the conversation with most of my questions unanswered and you can't take it anywhere else by en:WP:BMB and I risked being blocked for trying to continue the conversation after he has clearly said to stop.

I think part of the reason may be that once an editor is topic banned, they can no longer talk about their topic ban on wikipedia. They may talk about it a lot to friends off wiki - I know I did, pages of discussion on facebook and quora, but my friends didn't know much about it. But that's all invisible to the admins - none of that appears on wikipedia because of this rule that you can't discuss your topic there even to ask questions about it. I think if we did run the pilot for a while admins might be surprised to find out how many questions people have about their topic bans - basic simple things as they may seem to them, but not at all obvious to us. Robert Walker (talk) 18:36, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: Your comments and examples clearly show that you want to change enwiki policies, thus please do it on English Wikipedia. Your mockup shows that only active enwiki users can give correct answers to the questions (personally I would have given a wrong answer at least to the second question). Meta is not a place to have discussions on enwiki policies as Meta is not a subsidiary of English Wikipedia, please discuss this locally — NickK (talk) 12:42, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
Oh, and after having a second look on the case I actually found out that the answer to the second question in the mockup is wrong as Discretionary Sanctions list does include companies producing GMOs. Thus this space will produce an even worse result: it will be a place to get wrong answers from people who have little to no knowledge of the case. No thanks, we don't need this — NickK (talk) 12:51, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
I've replaced the example in the mockup with a less ambiguous one, but you should probably know that there have been two or three cases at AE this year in which the issue "but this does not cover the companies that make GMOs" has come up SageRad in February is the one that comes to mind. It took place after January 19.
This is not the only written rule that does not match actual practice with respect to what are punished and not punished for doing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:45, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: you should probably know — I might not know this. I am not following enwiki ArbCom regularly but I am active on Meta and I might want to comment on this page if it is on Meta. Which means that people might get wrong answers — NickK (talk) 16:44, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
I mean "you should probably know" in the sense of "I should probably tell you because it's relevant to what you're saying," not in the sense of "you should already know."
That's why this should be in noticeboard format. Note: "while the consensus of multiple editors can usually be relied upon..." The idea is that more than one person would respond, as in RSN and NPOVN. That's something that current avenues don't offer. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:06, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
My idea is for a pilot here. I expect a low footfall here as one of the advantages so there would be plenty of time to close it down if there were problems. One of the reasons for this RfC was to find out if meta is an acceptable place to put it. I've been arguing in favour of meta as the first choice, but I don't think I should reply to you here, as the aim is to get people's opinions not try to persuade them to change their views. I've not been involved in many RfCs and have a lot to learn about what is and is not acceptable in these discussions and I think it is safest at this point to say nothing more. I hear what you say, thanks. Robert Walker (talk) 13:29, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

@Ca2james: Yes that's true, but only limited to the board itself, no impact at all on wiki policies outside the board. I see it as a major advantage of meta that we don't need to make any such changes, to set up a pilot. Then if it works, and is seen to be helping people, then we could see about how to implement it locally which is the best solution long term. It would be easy to pull a plug on it if it did have the problems you think it would. But from our own experiences as banned editors, you have so many questions and nowhere to go with them, and I think most editors would want it to succeed and would indeed be there for help, not to cause trouble. Robert Walker (talk) 18:36, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

My point was that you said no policy changes would be required and that this statement was not completely true. If consensus on this RfC ends up being that such a board belongs on local wiki's and not meta, you're going to have to get policy changed to start this board on en-wikipedia. Of course I assume that you will go along with consensus: ie if consensus says "do not put it on Meta", you won't put it on Meta. Ca2james (talk) 22:38, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
It is also unacceptable to set up the board on Meta... you've already asked on RFH and got a resounding "no". It is not within Meta's scope to be some sort of appeal body which bypasses the processes of established communities, and there are so many obvious issues (for example, getting a full range of contributors' opinions when most people who edit individual projects do not edit on Meta) that it would never be approved by the community here. This would devolve into yet another area on Meta for banned users to continue the behaviour that got them banned in the first place from their respective local communities. That is not fair to the community on Meta or their home wikis who now need to deal with them in more than one place. Meta is enough of a troll magnet as-is. Ajraddatz (talk) 22:50, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
Just to say, we were told on RFH: [5]

So by now I believe this is better discussed at RfC. This page is usually for direct request ("Requests for help from a sysop or bureaucrat") and this seem to require a broader community consensus.

That's why we opened an RfC.
I will leave you with the last word on those other points as I've just been warned on the discussion page that I've written too much on this RfC discussion. I can see that it is true now it is pointed out to me. I didn't intend it like that, was just meant as points of information and answering questions, but I now see that there was an element of arguing the case as well. That wasn't right, and to reply to you now would definitely be arguing my case, and I apologize. The proposal and mockup board which the RfC is about should be all you need to make a decision. Robert Walker (talk) 23:28, 30 July 2016 (UTC)
This RfC isn't structured to introduce anything on Meta, though. There is no question that is being asked, only a series of options and no potential outcome. There is no dedicated discussion to whether or not this would be appropriate here, and no dedicated discussion for the community here to decide if it is wanted. For either option 1 or 2, another RfC would be needed to actually implement it. This is the sort of thing that got the global bans RfC through without any sort of clear consensus. Ajraddatz (talk) 23:37, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

As far as being started on local Wikipedias is concerned, the only change in policy that this board would require would be permission to exist. After that, it's kind of like how the volunteers on WP:RSN aren't rewriting WP:V; rather, they're providing multiple, knowledgeable takes on what WP:V means. This hasn't come up yet, but it would also draw a bright line between when editors are seeking information about topic bans and when they are attempting to appeal or renegotiate them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:20, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24:, I think that @Ca2james: is right here - I think it does need modification of guidelines, though localized only to the board. For the "Blockedfella" in your ESN Mockup then as a blocked editor, they would need some exemption to ask anything, if it is on wikipedia. And with your topic ban example - suppose it was the other way around and NoFrankenFood said: "I was topic-banned from GMOs, can I write about the Seeds n' Stuff Inc. lawsuit" then that would need a special exemption in en:WM:BMB to let them use the word GMO in order to ask that question of anyone except the enforcing admin. Similarly, if I were to say "I wrote too much in the RfC on the Four Noble Truths talk page, and that's why I was topic banned, can you help me to write less, here are some examples to show the problem" - that also would need special exemptions to use the phrase "four noble truths" and to refer to the RfC that lead to the ban. So, I've been assuming all the way through that en:WM:BMB and other guidelines have to be modified if it is implemented on wikipedia, unless I'm missing something fundamental which is always possible. The board wouldn't be impossible without that, but very very limited in how far it can help people as they'd have to talk in general terms all the time.
@Ajraddatz: Oh, I see your point. That at the moment it's a 4-way discussion about where to put it, rather than focused on question of whether it is appropriate for meta. It would certainly need more RfCs on wikipedia if the choice was wikipedia. Perhaps it would here also. At the moment it's headed for a roughly three way tied RfC and I don't know what that would mean, especially if the discussion doesn't result in any practical way forward to implement it on local wikis.
Please note I'm taking great care here not to argue any course of action, just discussing due process and information. I felt that I could help clarify the situation, that's all. If anyone thinks any of my comments here are inappropriate in any way please don't hesitate to say so on my talk page. Robert Walker (talk) 02:00, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
Yes, blocked editors wouldn't have access to the board if it were hosted on-wiki, but imagine how many editors won't end up blocked in the first place because they were able to work out the best way to deal with their situations. Perhaps some system could be put in place to give blocked editors some access, but I only see that happening after it has a long and successful track record of providing information without causing the problems that C2 and Aj and the others are so concerned about.
To tie in to what Robert's just said, I think one major thing would be access to people who don't have a stake in the disputed content at all. That can provide valuable perspective. If someone else who'd worked on the four noble truths article had told Robert he was talking too much, Robert would be right to at least entertain the idea that they only wanted him to shut up so they could have their own way. That wouldn't be the case for people outside the issue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:52, 31 July 2016 (UTC)
Yes, just to say in my case that was also heightened as it was a minor page in the topic area, and most of the editors in the talk page discussion were pinged by the opposing editor to join the debate (before the RfC), and there were many pings to more editors to join in from posts within the ANI discussion itself. I had no way to assess whether they were neutral. And of course an ANI is primarily done to decide on sanctions, not to help the editor who has been brought there towards more constructive editing. And there was a past history as well with the opposing editor. While for instance talking to @Darkfrog24: here, I know they are uninvolved. The same is true for friends off wiki but they know nothing about how wikipedia works. I'm also in the middle of a long discussion with an editor via email who found me through noticing the proposal on meta. I don't have any expertise in his area, but he says it is helping him hugely just to have an uninvolved editor to talk to, and is finding solutions of his own to his problems as a result of a clearer view on the matter. Based on that, and also myself as an example, I think there may also be a fair bit of editors finding their own solutions as a result of having an opportunity just to talk about it to uninvolved editors.
As I was topic banned for six months for writing too much in an RfC - please if anyone thinks my posts are in any way inappropriate say right away on my talk page, and I welcome any criticism of that type. I learn quickly, once I see what the problem is. Robert Walker (talk) 16:01, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

@Neotarf: Speaking as someone who's dealt with both noticeboards and ARCA, I can say that the measure proposed here would be very different from ARCA. For one, ARCA is run by the arbitration committee, and they can be a bit touchy about anything that they see as not worth their time. I don't mean to say that they'd consider ordinary editors' questions beneath them on a personal level, but if you asked them if it was their job to give sanctioned editors this kind of basic information and support, they'd almost certainly say no. I've seen even non-ArbCom admins, even the ones who'd taken on AE cases, say that they were too busy to answer questions from the people whose sanctions they held. We need volunteers who can put in the time. For another, it's a bit odd to host your preparation for an appeal in the same venue in which one will appeal. I see an editor going to this noticeboard with "I know what I want to say; can you guys help me get it down below the 1000-word limit? Which parts do you think are important?" In my previous interactions with the Arbitration Committee, the arbitrator said that he/she was not allowed to look at the content of the appeal before it was officially posted at ARCA. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:00, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

Yes agreed. Also it covers many things that would not be appropriate there at all. E.g. questions like "Can you help me to learn how to reduce my word count and post count for RfCs and other talk page discussions" or "I have been disciplined for inappropriate language - I don't understand why what I did was wrong, please help me to understand the guidelines on courtesy and how to communicate more effectively" or "I have had serious health issues as a result of being blocked, anyone here got any tips on how to not let your personal life be impacted by topic bans?" You can't begin to ask questions like that of the admins, who will stop the discussion right away for wasting their time. It's part of my motivation for this board, that we desperately need a place where people can just have human support from others who understand wikipedia enough to know a bit about what they are going through. Remember also some of those topic banned may be young children (young teenagers often edit wikipedia) or have learning difficulties and they need especial care and help. In future I will take great care, to mark my edits clearly, to strike out any phrases that may be inaccurate and need to be fixed rather than just edit them away. I can't do that now, but I have added a new section to the talk page where I summarize the main changes I made to the proposal text since the RfC began and the reasons for them. Motivation for rewrites of the proposal since the RfC began. So - in short @Neotarf: I've thought all along that you are looking for something rather different from the intention for the proposal, and you have probably made the right decision to withdraw your support. Robert Walker (talk) 12:21, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

Publicization[edit]

Anyone may add to this list. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:35, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

This RfC has been publicized on the following pages:

  • The talk page of every individual who made any comment of any kind concerning this proposal prior to this RfC.
  • Wikipedia Café: Propuestas (Village Pump: Proposals, Spanish Wikipedia).