From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Talk:IRC guidelines/wikipedia/archive 1

Why is this page protected?[edit]

Dmcdevit protected this page after the following edit-summary exchange:

*  (There seems to be zero support for this policy proposal. BTW, I'm en:User:A Man In Black)
* Dmcdevit   (Reverted edits by (Talk); changed back to last version by Eagle 101)
*   (rv, dmcdevit: this has community consensus on rejection.)
*  (Purely technical change; the previous editor obviously meant to include the text of  
en:Template:Rejected, not the non-existant template on meta)
* Dmcdevit  (Protected "IRC guidelines/wikipedia": IPs adding inappropriate tags [edit=sysop:move=sysop]...) 
* Dmcdevit  (These IPs do not appear to be Freenode Group Contacts...)

Firstly, we protect almost no policies on meta; certainly no guidelines or other important documents in the absence of an ongoing edit war. Secondly, it is clearly inappropriate to protect a page that one has had a hand in drafting to prevent the community from editing it to indicate it doesn't approve of something that is supposed to reflect community decision-making. Thirdly, it's hard not to be rubbed the wrong way by one of our Freenode Group Contacts pulling rank to avoid debate. I see dmcdevit altering this page to remove unwanted criticism, but not a single comment on the talk page to respond to the many questions, suggestions, and concerns there (did I miss something?)

A page like this should not be protected without very good reason, and never for long. "IPs adding inappropriate tags" twice is not a reason to protect an active page on any wiki. +sj | help with translation |+ 04:32, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree with what Sj said. I do not know of any Wikimedia wiki that protects its policies and guidelines from editing; indeed, even guidelines such as Ignore All Rules on the English Wikipedia are open to all for editing and do occasionally get edited. In the absence of an active edit war, protecting this page sends out the message that one or more of the IRC Group Contacts do indeed believe in a policy of "we're right and you're not". Furthermore, if this page is to remain protected, it should probably be moved to a static HTML page on some non-Foundation server, especially as IRC channels are not (supposed to be) related to the WMF. While I do not wish to take any sides on the actual debate re: #wikipedia, I do find the protection of this page slightly disturbing. Cheers, Tangotango 05:53, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Now unprotected. Please continue discussion about what the guidelines should cover and who they should protect and represent here... +sj | help with translation |+ 19:08, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What now?[edit]

Apparently, the guideline has been returned to normal Wikimedia procedures. This is as it should be - although the channel seems to be "owned" by private individuals, and ultimately under FreeNode's total control, it's clear that the channel is useless both tho the "owners" and to FreeNode unless Wikimedia (as the übercommunity, not the foundation) runs it.

So the main point of conflict is hopefully resolved and emotions can now subside. In the interest of moving forward, let's for now ignore the immediate causes of the conflict, and get the channel back on track. Some have learned that running #wikipedia is more complex than it seems, some have learned that the channel isn't now as it was years ago, and some have learned that the image of the channel has a (partly deserved) bad image. Above all, we've learned that we have different ideas of what #wikipedia should be for. I think that's also the reason that we disagree on the details of the guideline, although everybody seems to agree with its main thrust.

So basically, we need to come up with a "mission statement", i.e. what should the channel be and what should it do for us? (where "we" and "us" is again the aforementioned übercommunity, not reformers, regulars, group contacts, or FreeNode. Once we've decided that, we need to decide what the appropriate tone for the channel is, and once that is decided, the guideline will write itself.

I'll start with a few questions. Hope that helps. Zocky 20:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is it?[edit]

Here's my take on what #wikipedia can usefully be:

  1. Wikipedia's and Wikimedia's lobby and helpdesk on IRC. Wikipedia is the foundation's most well known trademark, so this position comes with the channel name.
  2. The IRC version of the reference desk. IMHO, this should be more pronounced than it has been lately.
  3. Wikipedia's and Wikimedia's lounge, i.e place where Wikimedians hang out and talk about their common interests, which tend to be encyclopedic and meta-encyclopedic subjects. It being enjoyable, it is what helps ensure the attendance so that the directly useful functions can be properly served.

Here's what it shouldn't be:

  1. A place where specific people on en are discussed while they're not in the channel.
  2. A place where off-site enemies are discussed and slandered.
  3. A place where newbies leave before asking anything because the channel looks deserted.
  4. A place where newbies are told that Wikipedia sucks and that every conceivable Wikimedian subcommunity is full of morons and unfit for its function.
  5. A place where Wikipedians in good standing are told to shut up and go elsewhere.

Comments? Zocky 20:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First, I'm glad someone did this. Let's avoid the name-calling and incivility here, and discuss.
An IRC Reference Desk? #wikipedia is definitely the best place to put it, but in my experience, that hasn't happened.
The most important points here are the first, that it is the face of wikipedia on IRC, the sixth, that it should be populated, and the last, that wikipedians should not be asked to move due to being off topic. The channel mustn't be on-topic for the sake of being on-topic, but conversation should be focused towards the other goals. ST47 20:22, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My proposals for #wikipedia: any polite encyclopedic chat is on-topic; rule of law[edit]

I believe #wikipedia should be a forum for the civil discussion of any encyclopedic topic. That is deliberately very broad. As long as you're not rude or personally insulting others, you should be able to discuss anything that could conceivably be included in an encyclopedia.

This is how the channel has functioned for most of its history. Recently, a cadre of "rules lawyer" ops has emerged who frequently attempt to squelch "offtopic" banter. In practice, application of the "on topic" rule is quite arbitrary and often works out to "when my side is losing a debate, the opponents must shut up or be kickbanned," or "whomever disagrees with me gets kickbanned," or "whomever questions my use of the kickban on that user will also be kickbanned." The channel is not interesting to me this way.

Schism into a seperate #wikipedia-social channel is not the answer; that will only fracture our community and abort good discussions in #wikipedia when the rules lawyers step in to analyze and regulate the discussion. It really sours the mood when you're in the middle of a great chat and someone steps in to say "Hey, take it to #wikipedia-social or I'm going to kick you."

If the current situation persists, the #wikipedia of six months from now will not be anything like the channel we know and love. I will outline a proposal to right the ship before that happens. Most users with interesting discussion will simply stop participating, rather than submit to power-tripping ops who wish to control their discussions. I will be one of them, so I do not fear retribution from the "rules lawyer" cadre in retaliation for making this proposal.

I therefore propose the following amendment to the rules, which I believe embodies the original spirit of the channel, as a replacement for the entire current "on topic" section:

  • #wikipedia is an open forum for the intellectual discussion of any encyclopedic topic. Participants are required to be civil and polite, and the topics of discussion should relate in some way to encyclopedic content that one could find articles on in Wikipedia. Within these guidelines, any topic is fair game.

I also propose the following additional rules for "#wikipedia operator guidelines":

  • #wikipedia seeks to hold itself to a higher standard than most IRC channels. Operator powers are strictly controlled by the rule of law (that is, these rules) in #wikipedia, whereas most channels invest their ops with unlimited and arbitrary powers. We believe this system will result in a more open, fair, and civilized atmosphere in our channel, one that will result in free interchange of ideas and information.
  • The channel operator is charged with maintaining order in the channel by enforcing these rules when necessary. Ops are specifically prohibited from attempting to exercise editorial control over channel content that otherwise complies with these rules.
  • The use of operator powers is not to be taken lightly. It is always a last resort when no other options are available, and always subject to review by the other ops and by the channel and community at large. Abuse or arbitrary application of operator powers to advance a personal agenda is strictly prohibited and grounds for permanent de-opping.

I look forward to hearing and discussing opinions on my draft proposal. Kwertii 23:19, 27 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On-topic / Off-topic[edit]

The discussion whether the channel should be on-topic or off-topic is a bit silly. Of course the channel should be on-topic. But what should be on topic in #wikipedia? What should be explicitly off-topic? Discuss. Zocky 20:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, SJ says it's open for discussion, so...
We have a few areas of discussion: Wikipedia, non-Wikipedia but clean, and sexual NSFW conversation. I don't think anyone wants to say 'kid-safe' any more than 'Wikipedia only', but per the comments above, as the lobby on IRC, we should avoid the NSFW stuff, keep IRC clean, but friendly and open. ST47 20:25, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia is not censored, for the protection of minors or otherwise. Censoring #wikipedia in the name of arbitrary standards of conduct is thus ridiculous; if people can't bear the thought of possibly seeing a rude word, they can't use Wikipedia at all, and thus have no need for the channel 20:31, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IMHO, this is just a matter of manners. Keep it civil should do it, but we determined before that civility is a relative term. If we do try to regulate what's allowed and what's not, we will run into a problem of agreeing on what is SFW etc. --Dcabrilo 20:47, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's one thing to briefly discuss sexual topics that approach or occasionally cross NSFW, it's another thing entirely to have long running discussions on the explicit anatomical details of secondary sexual characteristics, preferences and practices in personal mating rituals. The former may well be 'on-topic', the latter falls well into the 'off-topic' category. --Versageek 20:51, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I endorse this viewpoint, and I believe that this would correct the problem that started this whole fiasco. ST47 23:44, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia is "on-topic", as should anything related to Wikipedia – regardless of whether it affects an individual project or all of them. Labelling discussion with absolutely no relevance to Wikipedia "off-topic" and shunting it elsewhere is fine – but insisting discussion of something Wikipedia-related is not allowed is silly. In particular, discussion of the channel itself should be fine, and not suppressed by banning anyone who mentions it 20:31, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is IRC, not Wikpedia. Just because Wikipedia has or says something doesn't make it ok to repeat it on IRC. Pilotguy radar contact 03:04, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In my opinion, tangents and the occasional banter, especially on entering the channel, are normal and healthy. I don't think anyone is contemplating banning tangents, off-topic or not. However, it is conversations that start of off-topic that should be moved, gently where possible, of course. If you want to start a conversation on, say, Barack Obama, or Anime, or Perl, that's where I'd hope you'd realize that the social channel is really more appropriate. And we need to be at the point where it's not a question of policing, which is never fun for anyone involved, but where the culture has shifted such that when someone, new or otherwise, starts their discussion (or when a tangent become a main topic of discussion for a long period, and no longer a tangent) then the other members of the channel that might want to reply and carry on that discussion would invite the initiator into #wikipedia-social and have that fun, off-topic discussion. This works better than people who aren't interested telling them both to go there, or worse, to be quiet, which can be disconcerting. Dmcdevit 06:57, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That means we would have two parallel channels - one #wikipedia (which serves as a "help center" of all sorts, a reference desk and technical help) and the other one where the same discussion takes place, only without mentioning Wikipedia (in theory). Considering that people in #wikipedia-social would still be Wikipedians and would still discuss Wikipedia (because that's what connects them), it seems fruitless to separate the two channels. BTW. right now, #wikipedia-social is empty and #wikipedia is off topic. I am afraid that #wikipedia-social would soon turn into a close group of friends chatting about their interests. --Dcabrilo 14:11, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


After some consideration, I've concluded that the -social channel is a bad idea. If it's used as suggested, it will be the place for disgruntled people who were told to shut up elsewhere. It will end up as the IRC equivalent of a seedy bar, and I don't think we want to run a seedy bar.Zocky 20:11, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Are you suggesting that it be closed, or that we not send people there? One of the #wiki(m|p)edia-social channels has a nice, core group of friends, and we should let that be. ST47 20:30, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
#wikimedia-social is the one with friends, and a #wikipedia-social would be redundant anyway. Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 20:32, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I concur with Messedrocker. (zelzany - he's still at it) 23:34, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Keep in mind #wikimedia-social isn't really an offical channel as of right now. CableModem on IRC created it himself a while ago. Pilotguy radar contact 03:03, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am sort of repeating my self, but I'd still like to point out that Wikipedians are Wikipedians and will discuss Wikipedia in any channel you put them - no matter how much off topic is between. So, either one of the channels would be empty and one lively, or a smaller group of people would take one of the channels as their own. I don't see two parallel channels, one slightly more "on topic", coexisting. --Dcabrilo 14:15, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


We seem to have:

Group Contacts > Channel 'managers' > Ops > Users

Is this actually necessary? The projects get by with a flatter hierarchy than that. Is there really such a pressing need for new rules that it occupies two people per channel? 20:40, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, I think we need all of those. "Group contact" is just what the name says - the contact between Wikimedia (the "group") and FreeNode. In theory, they have a Jimbo-like power, but in practice, that power is limited by practical concerns and is more akin to Wikimedia stewards. The rest are parallel to what we have on wiki: Channel manager = bureaucrat, op = admin, user = user. Zocky 21:03, 21 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A group contact should actually be in contact with the group. My personal logs show seanw saying next to nothing on any subject in #wikipedia. My logs are quite incomplete, but that's still odd. -- Cyrius 03:25, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be clear, and this perhaps parallels bureaucrats, in the normal functioning of the channel I have not done anything more than the other ops. I don't plan to "overrule" other ops, or to claim that I have that authority. I just give access (or take it away, I suppose, but I haven't been faced with that decision yet) where it seems reasonable to do so, and even that only because Mark is out of town. Dmcdevit 03:57, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the "group" in question is either the WMF or the on-wiki community (it's not clear which, since wikipedia isn't really "like" something like a software project) - not the IRC regulars. --Random832 03:55, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That sounds about right. Now then, when did two bureaucrats last rewrite a project's entire set of policies without consultation? 13:47, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I think instead of a requirement not to have extensive off-topic (where "off-topic" is "not related to wikipedia") conversation in the channel, a requirement to drop them to handle on-topic queries would be more reasonable and keep the channel more active while allowing people to get prompt responses to wikipedia-related issues. --Random832 03:45, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Possibly. But prohibiting off-topic chat isn't the problem, it's prohibiting discussion that is very much related to Wikipedia but not within the much narrower definition of "stuff the chanops approve of". Earlier today I walked into a completely off-topic discussion about roads, tried to bring up an issue with a template on the English Wikipedia and was promptly told to go take it elsewhere 13:49, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What was wrong.[edit]

I would like to see a clear accounting of what was wrong with the previous state of the channel, and who had a problem with it. Namely:

  1. What actual problems with #wikipedia as it existed a week ago were identified?
  2. When and where did these discussions take place, and who was involved?
  3. Who first said there was a problem?
  4. Why wasn't any input sought from the regulars, the on-wiki community at large, etc?
  5. How were these guidelines written?

--Random832 03:58, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If we don't know what problems we're trying to solve and who we need to satisfy, we're just running in circles. --Random832 03:58, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Appealing Bans[edit]

"If a user feels that a he or she has been unfairly treated by a channel operator, the user should first try to resolve the dispute with that channel operator via private messages/query."

That should be modified to add that "The channel operator may or may not respond to you if he/she deems so. In this case, join #wikimedia-ops and somebody might be able to help you."

- 04:24, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It looks alright to me, see the very next line? ST47 14:08, 22 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Guideline text straw poll[edit]

I decided for the sake of organizing thoughts that we should have a non-binding straw poll to gather up a general idea what we think of the rules as they are right now. For each part of the page, sign whether you support with the current wording, support the concept but you want a re-wording, or you oppose altogether. Be sure (especially if you want a re-wording) to explain your opinions. I expect many of the sections to be noncontroversial but for the sake of being thorough I'm adding them anyway. Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 06:04, 23 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The poll is based on this revision of the page.

I would rather us first decide what we want of #wikipedia. I generally agree with how Zocky put it (Wikipedia's and Wikimedia's lobby and helpdesk, reference desk, Wikipedia's and Wikimedia's lounge). Would you mind if we left the straw poll alone - I think it will only make us butcher what's in the guideline right now. Let's try to be constructive first. The question is: what does everybody think #wikipedia should be and how it differs from what it is now. --Dcabrilo 08:33, 23 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Huh? Turning this into a vote is a terrible idea. What do you hope to accomplish? Dmcdevit 09:36, 23 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I hope to get a general idea of what everyone thinks of the extant guidelines. And if you think I will draw actual consensus from this, you must have glanced over the 14th word: 'non-binding'. Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 15:24, 23 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And I'm being informed a new guideline is being prepared, so in the meantime, the poll is removed. Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 15:26, 23 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

strawpoll removed


The current "guideline" is obviously doomed: (a) there's clearly no consensus for it, (b) it hasn't resulted in any improvements - the channel is still used for similar purposes, it's just that the ops and the crowd have changed somewhat and both have become much more aggressive. Apart from the specific ideas in the guideline, some of which have wide support, and some of which don't, its tone is entirely inappropriate. Instad of presenting the channel as a useful and agreeable way to meet Wikipedians, it gives the impression of a heavily policed troll-infested dark corner of the internet. And the tediousness! Whatever happened to avoiding instruction creep?

So, I've decided to write a new proposal, which is both friendlier and more realistic. It basically reflects what was considered good practice before "the troubles". Even if we decide that we want some changes, it's probably best to start from the last known working configuration. Discuss and edit. Zocky 15:51, 25 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

About the channel

#wikipedia is Wikipedia’s central IRC channel. In addition to Wikipedians who frequent the channel, #wikipedia is also visited by newbies who follow a link to the channel in Wikipedia or on the web, or who simply join the most obvious channel, and by people who are looking for the foundation or other projects. Admins from many other Wikimedia projects can also be frequently found on the channel.

The purpose of the channel

The functions of the channel are:

  • The front lobby of Wikimedia's IRC channels.
  • The helpline for Wikipedia and other projects.
  • Providing admin help for users of Wikipedia and other projects.
  • "Reference desk" for help with finding articles in Wikipedias.
  • Discussion about and collaboration on articles in Wikipedias.
  • Discussion about Wikipedia in general.

In addition, the channel serves as Wikipedia's lounge, where Wikipedians discuss and debate encyclopedic subjects, the theory and practice of encyclopedias and their other common interests.

Talking in the channel

The channel is often lively and involved in several discussions at once. It may look confusing to unaccustomed eyes, but don't worry about it - simply go ahead and ask your question. If the channel seems to be deserted, ask your question anyway, and somebody should be along shortly.

The tone in #wikipedia is anywhere between relaxed and academic. Please do not SHOUT, insult people, or be annoying on purpose. Be civil, and assume good faith. Try to tune your language to the register you would use between colleagues at the office, not in your living room or when addressing a public assembly.

Consider that people in the channel are of many different ages and from many different places, and have different language skills. If in doubt, err on the side of politeness. Bear in mind that although IRC is an immediate medium, it doesn't transmit facial expressions and tones of voice, therefore subtle irony, cynicism and humour are likely to be misinterpreted. Consider this both when writing and when reading.

If you find somebody too annoying, rather than trying to fight it out, make use of the "/ignore" or "/silence" commands of IRC to hide their messages from your channel window. If somebody appears unwilling to talk to you, it's best to leave them alone.

On topic / off topic

Wikipedians are encyclopedists, and they are interested in all things. All sorts of things are discussed, but Wikipedia is of course the main subject. The channel is expected to give priority to providing help and directions to people who need them.

Please do not use the channel for the following:

  • Canvassing for votes in RFA, AFD, DRV, etc.
  • Insulting, demeaning, plotting, planning or inciting actions against Wikipedians, trolls, vandals, Wikipedia critics, or anybody.
  • Flame wars.
  • Extensive discussions about private matters or subjects unconnected to Wikipedia. Use private messages or ad-hoc channels for those.
  • Spamming links or the same phrases repeatedly into the channel over time;
  • “Flooding” the channel, whereby so many lines of text get pasted in the channel that it becomes disruptive;
  • Running bots that speak in the channel or are operated through typing in the channel.
No public logging

As in most other Wikimedia IRC channels, public logging is strictly prohibited. Logs may not be published unless those logged have given explicit consent.


The #wikipedia channel operators (‘ops’) are experienced members of the Wikipedia community and the #wikipedia irc channel, who are known to be level-headed, reliable and trustworthy. They are listed here. Wikipedians who wish to be ops in #wikipedia should e-mail Mark_Ryan. They should be familiar with how the job is done and be of a calm temperament. A copy of the welcome message sent to new operators can be found at IRC guidelines/wikipedia/Op welcome email.

NOTE: Mark is away on holiday and so as a temporary measure one should contact the deputy contact Dmcdevit instead.

The ops are expected to maintain high standards of personal conduct on IRC, beyond the standards expected of other users.

It is good practice for the ops to privately gain second opinions from other channel operators before making potentially controversial operator actions, such as acting against channel users. For more public discussion, the channel #wikimedia-ops is available where it is requested all ops join when on IRC.

Appealing decisions by channel operators

Since the #wikipedia ops are (in most cases) human, they do make mistakes sometimes. If a user feels that a he or she has been unfairly treated by a channel operator, the user should first try to resolve the dispute with that channel operator via private messages/query.

If direct contact with the channel operator does not work, either because they are unwilling to change their decision or because they are not around on IRC, the user should visit #wikimedia-ops, where all of the online #wikipedia channel operators idle.

Ultimately, the decisions of the body of #wikipedia channel operators are final.

In no circumstances should a user attempt to circumvent an action taken by a channel operator, such as by changing IP addresses to gain re-entry or the ability to speak in the channel. This will be met with re-institution of the ban or quieting. This is because all bans are of people, not IP addresses/computers, so it is not socially acceptable to find a technological way around.

Responsibility for the channel

As with all Wikimedia IRC channels, ultimate responsibility lies with the IRC Group Contacts. However, on a day to day basis the following contact and deputy have responsibility for managing the op team that, in turn, manage the channel.

  • Mark Ryan
  • Dmcdevit


No speaking bots[edit]

I've boldly removed this "rule" - can we have some discussion on the reason why this rule was proposed and whether it's a good idea? --Random832 23:03, 6 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Eh, removing this is a dumb idea. And removing it while waiting less than a day for "community consensus" is even dumber. However, we should consider an "approved talking bots" clause. --AfterDeath 23:10, 6 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was used to how consensus works on enwiki (w/ the bold revert discuss) - but, really, how much time was given to allow consensus before putting this in place in the first place? --Random832 23:23, 6 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The long reply[edit]

Before I begin to address the numerous concerns brought up on this talk page, I would first like to make it clear that I haven't actually read everything. I have dipped in and out and also carefully read the long answer, and so I am making a reply based on my general understanding of things. This is not because I bear any ill will to other comments, but because I'm pretty sure I am already aware of the major issues.

So, it's time for some feedback, but firstly I will apologise on behalf of Mark, Dmc, James and I for some of the mistakes we have made. The major one is communication, or rather the lack of it. We pointed people all over the place, to various channels, the mailing lists and here, and then proceeded to seemingly ignore them. This is not acceptable; the community deserves answers to their questions. The reason that I have only just got to writing this and the reason I have not been very actively involved in discussion is because of my exams and then the huge backlog of other things to read that I have only got to the bottom of today, really. Now I can spend some time replying to the common objections.

The implementation[edit]

Whatever guidelines were set, the implementation seems to have been taken badly. Mistakes were made in this, too, but also I believe the community has mistook our intentions when taking certain actions. I have described the initial reasoning on my blog, but the removal of ops needs some additional explanation. The idea of making some new guidelines for the channel has been tried before at IRC guidelines but this failed because there was no agreement within ops to enforce them (they weren't actually intended to be enforcable, but there was a section on operator conduct). We hoped that by re-confirming ops we would ensure everyone was enforcing the same thing. Our aim has long been to get all ops back on-board.

This was another problem with implementation: ops were not added back quickly enough. This lead to the problems with spambots etc. that were experienced because not enough ops were available. I asked freenode staff and the helpers in #freenode and #defocus to help out if they could as temporary ops and gave op access to their cloaks, and this is what caused confusion surrounding staff getting involved. They did have permission to do so and were not acting as staff but as individuals I trusted to do a good job. Now, we have a decent-sized team of ops and issues are dealt with pretty quickly.

The community input[edit]

Simply put, we honestly believed that people read the /topic - from my experience it was regularly updated with status messages and important links, such as for example the recently concluded board elections (the topic has today been unlocked for editing again - I personally am a big fan of -t channels). I have had it made clear to me that this is apparently not the case and thus channel regulars did not have chance to comment before things were changed. Also, complaints have been raised over the fact that the guidelines were not open for comment for long enough before they were changes, and this I understand. However, our rationale behind this was that if no-one had made any serious comments within the five or so days it had been up, leaving it a week longer would not have made any difference. I think that if discussion had been underway things would not have been changed until it reached a conclusion.

This, of course, is little excuse for the mistakes made here. Community input was not sought as it should have been and I can only apologise. I don't think a reversal of it all for this reason alone is going to help anything but the guidelines are currently unprotected, and this talk page is open for use. I hope this situation will remain.

Operator conduct[edit]

The new ops team has had its ups and downs but things are settling and will continue to do so. I strongly refute claims of abusive behaviour involving arbitrary kickbans etc., and if I see any myself I will of course bring it up in the ops channel. I have been pushing hard for the use of quiets instead of other methods which I believe raise the temperature of the channel. If you feel that an op is not acting appropriately please bring it up in the operators channel, #wikimedia-ops. If this doesn't help, you can go to one of the contacts Mark_Ryan or Dmcdevit and they will listen to your complaint.

Please try to contact the op who issued a sanction on you first before asking other ops to lift it, as they may not be versed in the specific situation.

The wording of the guidelines[edit]

This was done badly to begin with, I fully accept that. The guidelines did not reflect what we intended as not enough time was spent gently working the wording into the meaning we desired. A lot of unnecessary angst was created that did not help anyone. I have since tried to tone the page down where I thought it was harshly worded but your help is welcome and appreciated in doing that (preferably without changing the meaning).

Issues with on-topicness[edit]

In terms of the actual enforceable rules in the guidelines, I think the only thing that was seen by a significant group of people to be a problem was how on-topic the channel should be. The original guidelines made it seem like anything other than Wikipedia would not be tolerated at all costs, but this is simply not true. The point is that when off-topic talk becomes the majority of what goes on, or more importantly when it does disrupt conversations that are encyclopedic, it is requested that it be moved, and thus we have #wikipedia-social. This part of the guidelines is the most flexible and involves a lot of common sense. Often, if you are about to start a new thread of conversation with something like "so, what do you think of xyz film?" then -social is the place, but general banter as part of the normal workings with the channel is fine in #wikipedia.

Closing remarks[edit]

I've realised that the vast majority of people are in agreement that the spirit of the guidelines is in the right direction, but the implementation and some specific aspects of the page were not as good as they should have been. Let's try and improve things as a community to make the channel more useful, and still a place that makes sense to be called #wikipedia. All of the team who made the changes, the current ops and anyone else who cares would really appreciate the input, advice and help of the community to iron out the creases of all this and try to put some of the mistakes behind us. If I have missed anything here, please bring it up below. —Sean Whitton / 14:23, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please quit making assertions that have no basis in reality. There is no community here, there is no #wikipedia anymore (at least not one that matters). The "creases" are your desire to force unilateral change at a channel that you were never a contributor to. There is no "closing" of anything, this is a wiki page. Please grow up. Bumm13 21:38, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sorry that you misinterpreted my 'closing' - I was trying to conclude my answer, nothing more, so apologies for that. I would however like to disagree with your statement about the non-existance of the channel though: when I look at it, it is generally pretty pleasant. —Sean Whitton / 18:03, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The change is a joke... who asked for this, other than channel contacts? Was there any attempt to ask channel operators and regulars whether they felt a change was at all needed? Is there any evidence people who actually use the channel wanted these changes? I guess I'm late to the party but that doesn't make what happened any less offensive. --W.marsh 21:21, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hello, I am sorry that you are offended - that is never good. However, please read my answer (and possibly the blog post) carefully and your queries will be answered. —Sean Whitton / 18:03, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I already had and they weren't, that's why I made the comment... the changes have really messed up #wikipedia and made the channel much less useful, because fewer people are there to answer questions now. You might know this if you did more than idle there. --W.marsh 01:58, 15 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Seanw says "the vast majority of people are in agreement that the spirit of the guidelines is in the right direction", I'd like to see if that's true. --W.marsh 21:44, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I like Seanw's changes[edit]

  1. GDonato Comment: Come on, it's not that bad. The spirit of the change was well-intentioned, implementation wasn't quite so good.

I like the way things were before the changes and de-opping[edit]

  1. --W.marsh 21:44, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. Raul654 00:42, 9 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. 05:05, 9 July 2007 (UTC) This is Mike Halterman. If anyone needs me to verify, I can do that on Wikipedia.Reply[reply]
  4. For goodness sakes, yes. I normally post in the "Polling is evil" section, but I'm posting here to make myself perfectly clear. --Iamunknown 22:40, 11 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. GDonato 12:53, 13 July 2007 (UTC) (both) :OReply[reply]
  6. (vishwin60 - he's still at it) 01:11, 16 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  7. EdBoy 01:04, 18 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  8. WHeimbigner 00:08, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  9. Down with the coup! 21:45, 3 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Polling is evil[edit]

  1. For tradition's sake. Sean William 02:08, 9 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. At least something like a deletion debate...sheesh! (vishwin60 - he's still at it) 21:11, 10 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. Sean Whitton / 18:03, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. --Cometstyles 13:51, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was bad before, it is irreparable now[edit]

  1. -- Cimon Avaro 03:38, 15 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is shouting (USING ALL CAPS LIKE THIS) really an issue to the point where you can be quieted over it? Sure, it's a bit annoying to some people, but it's not really as disruptive as flooding. If they're flooding in all caps, then fine. But otherwise, using all caps isn't that bad. However, I would like to see the other side of the story, to see why that's in there. EdBoy 01:09, 18 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've had a go at turning the wording down. Sometimes to make a point you might go 'this is REALLY annoying' or something, but what is an issue is when someone walks in and goes 'SOMEONE HELP ME SOMEONE HELP ME' if you see what I mean. —Sean Whitton / 12:52, 24 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixing it[edit]

It seems that the ban on off-topic conversations was made up by people who really don't understand #wikipedia because they don't really spend much time there, except as idlers. A channel full of idlers do not make for a useful channel, and increasingly we see people ask questions, no one is awake, and so the askers just leave in frustration. This never happened when people were constantly hanging out in the channel. It's as bad as #wikipedia-en now.

The "off-topic banter" offenders - bumm13, Demi, Mike_H, myself and others - also seemed to answer endless questions and provide on-Wiki help for most people who came to the channel wanting it. Now we're hardly ever there, thanks to the change, and I honestly don't see seanw doing anything to pick up the slack.

To fix it, we need to allow off-topic conversation so long as it doesn't interfere with the usefulness of the channel. This means that people should only be asked to refrain from off-topic banter when chat scroll is heavy and people are actually discussing Wikipedia. Nothing smacks of hollow power-tripping worse than operators silencing people's non-Wikipedia conversations just so the crickets can chirp. What did that accomplish? Just annoyed some people who will probably become idlers and not be able to help the next person with a question.

This change needs to happen if the channel is to stop it's gradual drift into uselessness. --W.marsh 04:55, 18 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

#wikipedia used to have about 250 people in the chat at any single time. Now we have between 200 and 210. More people have decided to try their hand at trolling and the chat now can go hours without anyone talking in it, even during the daytime in the US. I idled in the -social channel and that regularly goes hours without anyone talking in it. The only people who are really honestly doing the "take it to social" crap without following it up with "j/k lol" are Dmcdevit and like maybe one or two other channel operators. It's crap and most of us aren't deluded enough to try to spin it otherwise. Any time something goes wrong (and that happens with much more frequency nowadays, and with fewer people to help clean up in the event of), I just think to myself, "Let's hear it for those new channel changes!" and do a silent golfclap to myself. These rules totally win at the internets. 10:07, 23 July 2007 (UTC) (Mike Halterman)Reply[reply]
Hi W.marsh, please, what you wrote is very exaggerating. Nobody is quieted after posting a few lines of off-topic. That would be both impossible for operators and inimical to the good climate in the channel. But the fact is, that the channel used to be a place at which people only posted off-topic, and questions were pretty often simply ignored or overlooked. I agree with you that a total ban of everything considered off-topic would be bad, as mentioned above, but there is a need to restrict the posting of off-topic in some way. Perhaps, these days people have to wait a little longer for their response, but in my opinion that's better than being ignored. Additionally, I guess many new users having questions used to be discouraged to ask due to that load of off-topic talk. The new guidelines can largely solve that problem. Greetings, — Pill (talk) 06:29, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was banned for talking off-topic, by Cool Cat. It lasted about 8 seconds and he was laughed off the channel for it, but he's still an op for some inexplicable reason, as far as I know. So it does happen. More importantly, people are routinely told to quit talking, even if the channel is otherwise dead. This has lead to the current dramatic death of participation in the channel... and yes, people's questions are more likely to be ignored now, since there's not nearly as many qualified people there to answer them. How many questions have you answered in the channel lately, Pill? What is even your name there? The people who back this policy are people I've never even seen talk in the channel, or more importantly, answer questions there. The statement that it used to be only off-topic is incorrect, we always answered questions. I don't think you really know what you're talking about because you weren't actually watching, just assuming. --W.marsh 13:53, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
W.marsh, it is not important whether one answers many questions there or participates in channel debates. When online, I am always on that channel and read through it. There is absolutely no reason why someone cannot make comments and statements about the channel without being an active contributer there. As I can read everything on the channel, I cannot see a reason why I would not be able to assess the situation there. Nevertheless, please let me off for not knowing about your case in particular, as everyone I am not in there all the time. But let me ask you one question : You were given the possibility to go to #wikipedia-social for off-topic talks. Why is it not possible to simply be on two channels, #wikipedia for assisting users, asking and answering questions and #wikipedia-social for talking and chatting? Not too long ago, Freenode made new rules and guidelines for its channels. Off-topic and on-topic talk used to be mixed up and made asking questions or receiving help very difficult. The new guidelines provided for a separation off on- and off-topic talk. Therefor, the channel #defocus was set up, while #freenode is now the place for getting help. At the beginning, some were pretty angry about that, but now it works, that's my impression, very well. #Freenode is now a very silent channel, since people are simply talking on #defocus. But they also have an eye on #freenode and there they have the possibility to help users much better than before. — Pill (talk) 15:17, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you're going to chase away people who answer questions in the channel, you should be willing to actually answer questions there yourself, it's just basic decency. As for why I can't be in 2 channels, there was no need to force 2 channels in the first place, and having 2 makes each less effective, since attention is divided, the two channels combined are not equal to the one original channel... they're usually both dead now. But again, if you want to improve things, answer questions in the channel. Micro-managing what I can and can't talk about in the channel is just power-tripping. --W.marsh 15:32, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just FYI Cool cat's no longer an op there, at least to my knowledge. (at least, he's banned himself from the channel). Pilotguy radar contact 15:24, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Still no response from the contacts. It's becoming increasingly clear this policy (revert/protected in tandem to the approved version) is only possible by denying what people who use the channel actually want. --W.marsh 18:34, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Apologies for that semblance - I need to look here more often. I think Pill's comments are rather incisive. I disagree quite strongly though with your idea that the channel has become less useful. Pretty much every time I look, it is bustling with activity on Wikipedia issues. This can't be bad. —Sean Whitton / 18:05, 28 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Or people complaining about the change and talking off-topic anyway, as it is right now. Your comment on my talk page says you have no intention to actually participate in the channel... why on earth are you trying to run it then? If the channel's doing well, someone who actually uses the channel would agree with you. I'm still waiting for that to happen. --W.marsh 01:09, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: Fixing it[edit]

I am back from my holiday, and kinda sad to see that the situation hasn't really progressed beyond where it was when I left.

I had an in-depth conversation with several parties (River, Cbrown1023, kmccoy, Cometstyles, FrancoGG, Cyrius, Mike42, AfterDeath, Soms, Slowking_Man, A_Man_In_Black, Golbez, Pilotguy, Dmcdevit) on #wikimedia-ops today, about these channel guidelines and the change about a month ago. The apparent results from the conversation were as follows (with response indented):

  • The off-topic stuff in the guidelines has been immensely unpopular, and is now largely ignored
    • I suggested changing it to give priority to on-topic chat. Off-topic stuff is only bad, in my opinion, if it overwhelms on-topic chat or makes the project look bad.
  • The clearing of the ops list has led to a shortage of experienced channel operators to deal with trolls and flooders
    • This needs to be rectified.
  • The stuff in the guidelines about "catalysts" is waffly and isn't clear, and doesn't allow for actual solutions to many problem trolls
    • People are suggesting it should be removed altogether. What do you think?
  • The guidelines may have been enforced too strictly
    • This was probably my fault, in saying new ops should agree to enforce the new guidelines. I didn't want the channel to become like a police state.
  • There was insufficient public notice about the change
    • My fault again, I guess. Sorry.
  • This looked like a blatant power-grab, by Mark_Ryan and Dmcdevit
    • I've always had aspirations at IRC domination, and I have never hidden that. It's about time you all bow down and grovel before your superior IRC Master (that's me). But seriously, I don't really want the job that much. Anyone wanting to replace me, apply to JamesF and seanw. As for Dmcdevit, I hadn't really had anything to do with him before I chose him to run the place. I chose him because he was a level-headed arbitrator who wasn't too wound up in IRC politics. He didn't have any say in the drafting of the guidelines. Don't blame him.

Anyway, now we've got through all of that, where do we go from here? Do the guidelines need to be changed further? I want as many people as possible to contribute here and help steer the channel where they want it to go. - Mark 06:14, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We need a statement of purpose. Right now, we're just pushing papers around if we try and fiddle with the guidelines. What are our goals? What do we want to avoid? Otherwise, we're going to be arguing without a common frame of reference and keeping lots of old rules nobody really ever payed attention to or understood.
I also think we need to be willing to question old rules. In particular, why do we have a no-logging policy, especially given that it's unenforceable? AMIB 06:19, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's a very good point. I forgot to write about that in there, but it was on my mind, as you know. A change in that policy, I understand, would require a lot of community interaction. Why do we have it? Because of a time when Wikipedia was smaller and privacy was more of a reasonable expectation than it is with 250+ people idling. But there are a lot of people who would like to keep the ban in place as well. - Mark 06:26, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Part of the problem is that it's impossible to enforce. We could no sooner have a "no Communists in the channel" rule. AMIB 07:33, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I went and replaced the guideline with my proposal, since it seems to have some support, at least as a starting point. About the logging, see Talk:IRC channels#Public logging prohibition should be lifted. Zocky 06:42, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re: point 2. I don't know if that's actually true, and that's not to throw mud at the old ops. They did a damn good job under all sorts of pressure. But I think we are too. We absolutely weren't at the beginning. I recall a situation when we had a GNAA attack, and rather than communicate to each other about it, tawker insisted on voicing every single user in the channel. There were also situations when ops would set +m to the channel, when there was little flooding going on. That was then, and now I think we all bring experience, and a since of community to each other. I think most of us work quite well with each other and can handle said situation quickly and efficiently, with little damage to the channel.

As for point 3, a lot of us are now disgusted with this policy, because seanw did, and now continues, to throw it in our faces. This includes when a bot attack is imminent. Granted I will do this when, say, someone is going too much off-topic or just not behaving themselves. The more serious offenders need no warning. For example, when I see a large number of users join, all with suspicious hostmasks, and I hear about bot attacks occurring, I refuse to sit around and watch them invade our channel. I will NOT try to "catalyze" and "warn" w00t or GNAA. I will also kick, and not waste my time trying to quiet someone who is very clearly a trolling organization or botnet member. Even though seanw claims I assume bad faith by not allowing them to attack our channel, I refuse to let that happen. Seanw, feel free to take away my ops if you don't like that. Let me say though that I am quite disappointed in you and the way you have enforced this policy.

Yes, the guidelines were enforced too strictly at the beginning, but we have all but stopped that. We are not as strict about it as before. In fact, it is very difficult to enforce guidelines that, as you mention, are not clear at all. I do support Zocky's proposal which seems very simply a better re-write of the existing policies.

I do not think you are doing a bad job at all here Mark, I just hope you can actually take everyone's points here into consideration, since we have been ignored and told to go here or there regarding complaints while you were gone. Pilotguy radar contact 14:58, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

About point 3, I think that catalysing really helps the channel run smoothly. In a sense, it's similar to en:WP:AGF, en:WP:CIVIL, ...
It just suggests people to assume good faith, remain calm, be helpful, try to mediate, etc. as stated in
But of course we don't heve to lose our common sense, we're not going to catalyse with a flooder bot. FrancoGG ( talk ) 15:51, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well catalyzing is the only way forward and regarding the ops list, yes that was a big mistake since some experienced editors were removed and replaced with IRC newbies (yikes) and well I think the off -topic idea is to some extent a good idea and maybe their needs to be a new guideline set in place soon so that all the problems can be rectified as soon as possible and regarding power hunger..hehe..that is silly cause their isn't such a problem and yeah I believe that the channel contacts needs to be someone who is around most of the time and not MIA. The only change that seems necessary at the moment is regarding public logging which most people believe is a very bad idea and rectifying that problem can solve most of our trouble.--Cometstyles 16:41, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The whole "catalyzing" nonsense is just another buzzword for "don't be an idiot". We don't need to tell people not to be idiots. It's a general real-life policy which applies without being specifically included. Zocky 19:40, 29 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Exactly's a ridiculous buzzword. Absolutely nowhere that I can find was the word "catalyst" described in what it entails. Everyone seems to have this idea that it means "don't be an op, you're not allowed to show your op powers, in fact you should feel guilty about having shouldn't keep your op tags up, and god forbid you use an op power on somebody, that will just anger them and make them come back, no you have to baby them into changing their evildoer ways". It's a particularly policy when you think about a catalyst being something that starts or enhances a reaction. In my case, that reaction is derision for having a buzzword that exists for the sake of being a buzzword. I've never made any bones about it that my sole and major problem with the new IRC changes is that catalyst guideline. And yes, I know that it is a much broader freenode guideline. I still think it's pretty stupid. We have trolls that pop into the channel and guess what...they stick around much longer because we're busy trying to be "catalysts", whatever the hell people think it means, and we're pandering to and feeding the trolls, babying them and being nice to them while they're getting a rise out of eveyrone in the channel. Guess what folks: a troll isn't just someone who shouts "JEWS DID WTC" or "I HEAR THERE ARE WIKIFAGS IN HERE". A troll is also someone who goes in there and starts incisive arguments just for the sake of starting them, or goes in continuously belittles others points for no reason other than to get a rise out of them. But due to this ridiculous catalyst principle, we're not allowed to take action against those instead of the breathtakingly, blindingly obvious solution of just kickbanning them. Swatjester 05:59, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But by taking trolls out with such a solution (I am referring to the subtle kind in this post) we create a hostile environment automatically, with a high channel temperature. Consider vandalism and indeed trolling on our projects - offenders there are met with warning after warning after warning and only then are they issued with a block. Surely we can carry this helpful attitude over to IRC? I think that the philosophy behind the catalyst page is very much an old attitude on the Internet that many, such as Wikipedia, have employed successfully. It just took Rob Levin and a few others to write it up into a document in the form we see now. To be quite frank, I am having difficulty understanding why people seem to want to apply the philosophy on-wiki, but not on IRC. —Sean Whitton / 15:16, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At this stage I would like to make it clear that I am stepping back out of direct channel stuff (except as an ordinary op which I remain) as much as possible but I will still give my views in discussion. I have no intention what so ever of overriding Mark's judgement in what needs to be done. Indeed, it is him who would be in a position to put someone else in his place, not James and I.
I would now like to justify my insistence on pushing catalysing so strongly and correct a few misinterpretations - I also apologise for not making this clearer at the time. Firstly, you are right that you cannot catalyse a bot - it is not programmed to respond so there is no way you are going to get anywhere. What I object to is assuming a client is a bot because of its nick or because it is in a blacklist. In such a situation there is no assumption of good faith, a core Wikipedia philosophical point. Try pming a suspected bot. If it doesn't respond after four or five pings over a series of minutes (assuming it hasn't flooded yet) then you can switch catalysing off as you know it is a bot. If you have already had a flood attack and are on close guard for more then things are different and you may want to take action and send an apologetic pm to those affected when suspicious nicks join. But when a peaceful channel suddenly sees op action with no obvious provocation, I get the impression something is wrong.
The other point here is about my push for the use of quieting when catalysing has failed. In 99% of cases, a bot once quieted will do nothing about it. They do not usually take it into consideration and thus a kick or a ban or both provide no benefit what so ever. So why make use of them? I understand when the channel is being hammered and people's clients cannot take out bots quickly enough using quiets (due to lack of shortcuts that some of us have) that things can change and I don't have a problem with this. But when one or two bots or scripted clients spam the channel, what is wrong with a quiet? This is the minimalistic approach I am trying to push, using the catalyst philosophy as a basis for it.
Almost everyone agrees with the text itself but not quite the way I am suggesting it be implemented - correct me if I am wrong. But it is not baseless. freenode staff have a reputation for making the network extremely welcoming and friendly, and for them being courteous and very very careful with the use of direct power. (My favourite ability I have as staff is simply appearing on /stats p, showing that I am available for help.) All of the above witterings of mine are grounded exclusively in what staff do every day; I have not tried to make it up myself. The helpers of #freenode and #defocus follow the same philosophy. My point is that it works, so why can't we use it too in #wikipedia? Hope this little essay makes sense. Let me know if it does not, and always this is just my opinion of how things should be done; it is for Mark and Dmcdevit to set policy/guidelines. —Sean Whitton / 10:22, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yay ..a very good reply. I think the major problem with bots are that they not only spam the channel but once they are quietened they sometimes (which has happen to me too )DCC Spam every individual on the userlist who has unfiltered on and in some cases,(it happened last week) also memo spammed a couple of users including ST47, me and Krimpet. Well when a bot is quietened, it should then be kicked or somehow forwarded to #wikipedia-overflow and be placed on the Auto-rem list. Catalyzing is really a good thing in IRC for normal users and I believe we should continue with that but when it comes to Spam-Bots, its better to remove them and believe it or not but there are also some users on #wikipedia channel who sit around and listen to whats happening and when its least expected, they send in the spambots to disrupt the channel and these users are really the main culprit and I don't think there is anyway we could detect who they are in advance and stop it from getting the better out of the #wikipedia ops ..--Cometstyles 13:02, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Unfortunately once a spambot has the userlist for a channel there is no point what so ever in kicking it to prevent ctcp spam or whatever - it can still quite happily use the list it has which is unlikely to have changed. So you might as well just quiet. —Sean Whitton / 16:37, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I continue to think that this entire reworking of the channel was a misguided disaster, and that there were no problems with the channel worth fixing. I would still greatly prefer to see these new rules chucked out the window in favor of a return to the good old-fashioned Wild West of IRC, which, while it may not have worked great, at least did no worse than this newfangled "guideline" thing, and was relatively low maintenance. 21:53, 30 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Zocky's version[edit]

The new version greatly simplifies a lot of what was said in the user conduct section of the guideslines and for that I am thankful. However, I do disagree (unsurprisingly!) with some of the content that has been changed. I have gone over and boldly replaced some bits that I feel particularly strongly about, but please let's discuss it. I also split out the operators guidelines when I replaced them. Let me know what you think. —Sean Whitton / 15:21, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why are you trying to pimp #wikipedia-social so hard? It was useless as a trial basis and now it's not promoted here. It didn't win. 19:25, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

i have removed "be a catalyst" again. while i don't necessarily think it's bad advice, the way it's presented is not very useful. the impression i have (and share) is that most people think it's a meaningless and unneeded buzzword. instead of inventing some new word, it would be better to just write what we would like people to do. (i found putting "be a catalyst" in the "in a nutshell" box particularly amusing - it's hardly in a nutshell if you have to visit another page to find out what it means ;-). Kate

You should really, really, really, really use #wikipedia before writing rules for it, Sean Whitton. --W.marsh 13:07, 1 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well Sean Whitton is a freenode staff and has been for a long time and he knows more about #wikipedia then he is given credit for..I endorse his policy and rules wholeheartedly and I believe he is on the right track ;)..--Cometstyles 16:51, 1 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If he knows so much about #wikipedia he'd realize no one who chats there and helps out people with questions wants rules imposed from someone who is unwilling to talk there. Every time I've seen "the changes" brought up there, everyone has just complained and danced in celebration once they were finally removed. --W.marsh 20:41, 1 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You and like maybe two other people (Sean Whitton included in that number), Cometstyles. Anyway, his rules were overwhelmingly rejected. As they were, they're done. 02:53, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
W.marsh, I have just reverted your last three edits and I will now try to explain why :-) The reason it is not the front lobby for Wikimedia is because quite simply Wikipedia is not the entirety of Wikimedia and thus it doesn't make sense to have this there. Secondly, apologies for the confusion surrounding RfAs/AfDs etc. - I was trying to make the point that we don't do votes except for board and steward elections etc., and thus I got it wrong - I have tried to re-word this now. Thirdly, I have readded #wikipedia-social as it doesn't do any harm to have it there, if you see what I mean. Thanks. —Sean Whitton / 14:14, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'll revert back - wishes don't trump reality, and this is how things realistically work. Sean, I too wish you would stop trying to write rules for a channel where you don't participate. Zocky 15:44, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think discussion of RFAs, AFDs, whatever has traditionally been okay. It's canvassing when it becomes fishing for votes on one's own RFA or an AFD one feels strongly about. I say "votes" because they're not trying to drum up great discussion, which would be okay, they're looking for votes in their favor. I could live with "canvassing for support" as the wording. "Canvassing for opinions" makes it sound like it's a bad idea to ask for input, positive or negative, from the channel... which is not the case. --W.marsh 17:21, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Expletives vs obscene, lewd or abusive language[edit]

Sean's version contains a section on avoiding the use of expletives, and I think there should be a section on this general subject.. however the term expletives is too broad. The word expletive has a perfectly benign linguistic meaning and only came to refer to "bad language" in the 1970's.

I suggest something along the lines of: This channel is the front lobby of Wikimedia's IRC channels, therefore excessive use of obscene, lewd or abusive language is strongly discouraged. This is to maintain Wikipedia's good reputation. --Versageek 17:59, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hmm..That sounds way better BTW.. --Cometstyles 18:46, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What part of "try to tune your language to the register you would use between colleagues at the office" allows obscene, lewd or abusive language? Do you really think people need every last bit spelled out? Zocky 20:09, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why not spell it out instead of alluding to it in terms that not everyone may understand? Not everyone works in "an office", and not every workplace enforces a ban on obscene, lewd or abusive language (I worked in one of those places for more than 10yrs.. while most of the crude talk & conduct was in jest & not intended to be mean spirited, it was the type of stuff that would make a stereotypical 'swearing sailor' blush.).. --Versageek 20:39, 2 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because saying "don't say fuck" means (a) this is a place where people often say fuck, and (b) saying fuck is an easy way to annoy them. To use a parallel, does the museum in your local town (if there's none, be imaginative) have a sign saying "no spitting on the artwork"? 20:49, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

What is signal and what is noise[edit]

I was asked to be one of the new ops. I tried monitoring the channel for a while, but I have given up. The reason is: there is an incredible amount of chatter and it's just not worth my time to read it all looking for trolls.

Different people want different things from the channel. Some people want a place to hang out and chat. The recent events are an attempt to shape the channel for different purposes.

It doesn't really matter to me what you do with this channel, but I don't want a place to hang out and chat, I have more important things to do. As long as #wikipedia is filled with (what to me is) noise, I won't be there. --Ideogram 22:56, 10 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • The people who used the channel used to do a fine job of policing it from the trolls and spammers... then they were de-opped. Things seem to go okay now though. --W.marsh 03:19, 11 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The point is that different people want different things from the channel. The old crowd wanted a place to hang out and chat. The changes were made based on different priorities. I don't really care who "wins", except to note I won't be participating in the channel in its current form. --Ideogram 13:42, 11 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure we ever wanted people to just watch the channel like a hawk and try to fix problems but do nothing else. We want people who'll participate by actually talking there, be it answering questions or whatever, and occasionally make the one or two op actions actually needed in a given hour just because they happened to be there. Being an op shouldn't be such a serious job that it's the reason you're in the channel, and it's not surprising that it would be frustrating if that was your approach to it. I'm sorry you're uncomfortable with the idea of people chatting in a chat room. --W.marsh 16:01, 11 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm perfectly willing to answer questions, I have done so many times. But again, finding the questions among the chatter isn't worth the effort. I'm not saying being an op is a serious job, I am not frustrated, and I am not uncomfortable with the idea of people chatting. I'd just rather spend my attention on other things.
Believe me, from reading comments directed at seanw, I can tell a person with my priorities is not welcome in the channel. --Ideogram 17:27, 11 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anyone who'll actually participate in conversation in the channel is welcome, be it conversation about Wikipedia or whatever else is acceptable. I consider you welcome there, I'm sorry you don't feel that way. Seanw has indicated he isn't willing to even say hello there, let alone talk. It's a bizarre stance for someone who wants to run the place, but he has to deal with the consequences. --W.marsh 02:11, 12 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I'm glad you say I am welcome, but the fact remains that idle chat is not that important to me. The old crowd seems to have "won" in imposing their priorities (and I have no problem with that), but I do want to note that other people, most notably the group who tried to make the changes, have other priorities. --Ideogram 17:01, 12 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That sounds very elitist. Are you too good for chatting with us or what? 07:11, 14 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hey W.marsh, here's an idea which I'm sure you're totally incapable of doing. How about you (and your little anonymous buddy) stop prolonging this place further with your pointless whining, stop trying to re-write a community policy with your policy, suck it up, walk away from it, and go do some useful for a change? Great, look forward to not seeing you here. Pilotguy radar contact 14:42, 25 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Without getting into the flame war, I'll just point out that the policy that wmarsh is supporting is the community policy. Zocky 20:31, 27 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you even know anything about me? Or the current policy? Apparently not. In 2+ years that was the worst, least informed, least thought out single comment I've ever seen. Congratulations, it was a thing of beauty. --W.marsh 00:18, 5 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is like a month and a half late, but I'm pretty sure that "anonymous buddy" was me. Mike Halterman 09:55, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Outside view[edit]

As background, I started on IRC doing the equivalent of checkuser on irc channels and setting up good quality social communities in the 90s. So based on a lot of experience, some general observations. I'l skip a lot of side issues and look at the ones that seem important.

  • Logging -- It's going to be annoying to users, if someone says something, then denies or lies about it. Logs can be faked, but a person accused or who sees a lie spiralling, will often want to be able to say "look, this is what happened." Human nature. Plus realistically there is no way to know who logs, who doesn't, and even non-loggers may save specific chats. So I think one has to accept logging will happen, and tell people simply, its down to you to judge what trust to give someone, and down to you to not say things in one venue if you aren't happy with the possible fallout. If someone gains a name for idiotic log pasting or citing chats for everything, they'll lose willing ears faster than anyone else in most cases, so there is a natural balancing effect. But I wouldn't make a rule on it, I'd just note it's discouraged and here are the risks you face if you do it... as well as the risks you face if you play games and dramas. Essentially both sides come down to "don't be a dick": don't be a dick in what you say, and if you must log, know a number of folks will despise log misuse or unhelpful quoting, and don't be a dick about that, either. Others will very quickly judge "dickness" of either party, if needed.
  • Management -- A flat structure is better. "Op cliques" are unhelpful. You see many channels on irc where there's a feeling (amongst users, never amongst the 'in group') that there is unfairness or cliqueness. try to set a tradition of choosing ops who exemplify integrity, fairness, who aren't after status. (In effect, like one might RFA editors whose hope is that other editors will get to admin standard too... rather than RFAing those who - having got RFA - want to keep others out and reserve it for their friends.)
  • Foundation channels -- Consider distinguishing "foundation channels" which are run for and on behalf of the foundation, where a better standard of management or accountability or appeal is possible, vs. privately run channels where its much more the channel manager's view that counts. Rationale: if #wikipedia is a channel for the foundation, then there should probably be a fairness and means of appeal to others beyond "I own this channel so I get to decide".
  • Conduct rules -- Clear conduct rules are useful. What is okay, and what is needed to protect users. Arbitrariness isn't harmless; it leads to bitterness and strife. Bureaucracy isn't good, but a broad basis stated in half a dozen well chosen bullet points will help. A generic "ops use their judgement" view might work in utopia, but down here it leaves slack which will end up in unfairness.
  • Channel quality -- this one's going to be a bit controversial, but commonsense when examined. An open channel invariably seems to gravitate to some kind of "lowest common denominator" of conversation. Sometimes good, but often little except noise. But a closed channel tends towards elitism and games over who's in, who's not. A balance that I have regularly adopted and works well is 2 channels... both open to anybody, but one is open to anyone who's basically civil even if they just chat about rubbish... the other is weighted more towards people who genuinely want to talk and discuss things weighted towards specific kinds of topics. The latter channel allows a degree of off-topic, but users who are consistently off topic or don't chat constructively to the topics, are asked to come back on topic or (if persistent) to /part until they are ready to discuss the topics. This system works quite well, as experienced users who do want a degree of conversation that's not like jackdaws squarking, end up with somewhere which is more focussed on "useful dialog" (whatever subjects are deemed "useful"), and which newcomers can also access if that's what they want, and "general chatters" can have that too, without either "type of user" being marginalized.
  • Civility -- Surprisingly, this makes for a good IRC guideline. You can't control civility in PM (nor perhaps would one wish to censor PMs), but a civility/NPA guideline for IRC works very well. I'm not sure I support the right to flame in channel, the right to call people nazis or whatever in a channel. There's no need for it. Ask politely, and if they can't play nice, farewell for a day or 3 (or whatever). It works very well, and is perceived well if applied equally.
  • Channel bans -- again, set out some simple guidelines. Nothing complicated. "Bans are usually short term but if you don't get the message and change, they may and probably will increase". That simple. And set a maximum limit - 3-6 months works other than in truly exceptional cases (serious harassment, threats, or disruption for example)

I don't know which of these ideas might be useful, but as a package they are ones that have worked well in managing a range of IRC communities, which have proven pretty fair, flexible, not onerous, and reasonable. They get decent buy in and don't short-change anyone.

Anything useful in that lot, go for it.

FT2 08:02, 30 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seems a fair bit of good stuff there to me. (although I might not have "led" with logging :) ) I have to confess I'm not totally sure where this page is going or who the audience is, or whether these guidelines are just consensus of some people of how things ought to be, or whether they are going to be taken up by the (separate) organization that actually is responsible for the channels... ++Lar: t/c 12:49, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No public logging[edit]

Why is this? It's not illegal- they're sending you their messages so it cannot be considered wiretapping. It's not even impolite.. you're saying things in a public channel so they're a matter of public record. I don't understand where we got the idea of no public logging -- 18:11, 25 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can't enjoy IRC anymore[edit]

Apparently it is now a crime to use IRC purely for social purposes. Martinp23, the new contact, pmd me and demanded I joined the #wikimedia-ops channel, despite the fact I didn't intend to do anything with my op rights this particular evening. He then removed me from the ops list, apparently having made up his mind, when I refused to. I later joined the channel, and apparently I now have to join the ops channel every time I come on to IRC, unless my op rights get revoked. There's no way I can spend an evening on IRC simply talking to my friends, I have to be on the job constantly. I don't want to do that. That's not what I applied to do when I asked to be an op. Martin made the ludicrous suggestion that if I didn't want to use my op rights, I should simply have them removed. That is not the point here - I want a day off! Several days off, weeks off if I want. I'm volunteering for this. Demanding I go into a stupid ops channel is unreasonable when I'm not interested in playing ops for the duration of my time online. If I was regularly using op rights, fair enough, the channel is useful occasionally. But for someone who only uses them on occasion, and is there for chatting, not policing, I am not interested in being on-the-job every single time I'm online. I do the job when I want to do it, and when I do it, I follow all the bureaucratic rules. I would just like some time to enjoy IRC without having non-participants in the channel like Martinp23 ordering me to join an op channel, when I'm not interested in using my ops every time I'm online. Majorly talk 20:40, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Majorly does a marvellous job here of phrasing his complaint to exclude a lot of the facts of the situation. Nontheless, it is inevitable that any account will contain some bias, but from now on I'll attempt to keep it to a minimum in my account. At 18:13 UTC, I spotted that Majorly, who was an op in #wikipedia and remains an op in #wikipedia-en and many others, was around. I PM'd him and asked him to join #wikimedia-ops "18:13:35 <Martinp23> ok, could you add #wikimedia-ops to your autojoin then, please?". His immediate response was to refuse, and we got into a conversation about why the channel exists. Majorly repeatedly told me that he wasn't too bothered about losing his access as he's hardly in the channel anyway. After 19 minutes of fruitless conversation: "18:32:51 -ChanServ(ChanServ@services.)- Flags -votriA were set on (Majorly) in #wikipedia." - I removed his access. At 19:02 Majorly joined #wikimedia-ops and implied that I should restore his access. I refused on the stated grounds that he appeared unable to work properly as part of a team and is "obstinate" (on reflection, that's the wrong word). He has proceeded in #wikimedia-ops to state his case. I should note that his #wikipedia-en access remains in situ. My original reason for removing his access, as reported to #wikimedia-ops is: "18:36:13 <+Martinp23> I've just removed Majorly's access in #wikipedia based on his inactivity and his total refusal to abide by the "idle in here" rule." I hope this helps to clear things up. The operator guidelines are here for all to see. Martinp23 20:49, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Speaking as a Former Op I know what you are talking about Martinp23 and this is clearly correct what you did. It does say in the guidelines about what you can and cant do with your op rights. Majorly you should have silenced your op rights in en.wp unless you were banning a user from the IRC. If this was the case then you have a leg to stand on Majorly but if it wasnt then I Support Support the removal of the Op rights. KarlWickk 20:59, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I can see you have no idea what is going on here, Karl, you're talking nonsense. I never used op rights on #wikipedia-en this evening. Majorly talk 21:02, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, I'm not bothered either way if you've removed my op rights from #wikipedia, though obviously I'd have preferred that you didn't. Notice how that's not the complaint here? My issue is that as an op on #wikipedia-en, I don't want to spend every time I'm online in an ops channel. I'm on IRC to socialise with my friends, not play games with the op commands. I've been entrusted with op rights, but that doesn't mean I am going to use them every time I'm online. If I intend to use them, I always join the op channel. I have not seen one good argument as to why I have to idle in the channel every time I'm online, regardless of whether I use my op rights or not. But even though your arguments were poor, notice how I'm in the channel anyway? I consider arguments like "like it or lump it" to be especially bad ones. This is precisely one of the reasons I want a break from using op rights - poor management of the channels, bad attitude from channel contacts, and just a general overall unpleasantness that I never felt in mid-2007 when I was granted ops on #wikipedia, #wikipedia-en and other channels. To suggest that to have a break I have to actually have the rights removed properly is absurd. I want to be able to continue as an op at some point, since there's no reason to believe I'm not trustworthy as one. Just right now, I'm busy in real life, rarely on IRC, and am not in the mood for playing cop in the channel. Majorly talk 21:02, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict)Sorry Karl, my text was misleading in that regard. Majorly was not idling as an op in the channel, but had the services access with which to do so. Martinp23 21:04, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Majorly, if you aren't going to use the access and don't want to idle in -ops, my best advice would be to voluntarily ask for it to be removed and later come back and have it restored. Idling in -ops does not mean that you have to be "policing" everywhere. Rather, as an op, certain standards of behaviour are expected from you all the time, hat or not (the guidelines explain some of this). As much as this job description may have changed since you became an op, it is binding, and if you don't like it, there's rather little room for manoeuvre. That said, I've not said anything about removing your -en access, except for saying that I'm not planning to. You do appear to be making a large fuss over very little - over the necessity to idle in a single channel (which 45 other people don't find constrictive) and follow some simple rules/guidelines. Thanks, Martinp23 21:09, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do want to... just not when I'm not playing ops, like today, and most days. They're there as a backup, in case no one else is around. And who is to say that I'll get them back if they're removed? And since when are guidelines binding? I'm not the one who started this: you did. I was quite happy before you came along and made all these unnecessary changes to the system that was working perfectly well. Majorly talk 21:14, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have made no changes to the system. I have just started looking towards enforcing the rules for operators in #wikipedia. My aim is to get a well trained and cohesive team of ops who are able to manage the users within the channel with the minimum of drama. For them to be cohesive, they need to be able to communicate. To communicate properly, we need to have an ops channel. For this ops channel to work, we need people to be using it all the time that they are on IRC, so that they can both pick up on any "burning issues", learn about new approaches to situations which may arise (such as the wiki going down), and of course offer their input and thus build bonds and trust with the other ops, and of course support eachother. You appear to have made your choice about being a part of this, when it comes to #wikipedia. Martinp23 21:22, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No I haven't, I've joined the channel just as you asked me to. And you haven't answered either question I asked. Majorly talk 21:26, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"who is to say that I'll get them back if they're removed?" - that'd be whoever you ask, and is between you and them. "And since when are guidelines binding?" Wikilawyering over Policy vs Guideline isn't appropriate when it comes to IRC. Suffice to say that all ops in #wikipedia are expected to comply by them (and this isn't an exhaustive statement. I don't mention #wikipedia-en because it is a different place and I'm not preoccupied with it at the moment). I hope this answers your questions, Martinp23 21:52, 24 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No public logging[edit]

In light of some recent incidents, I have added a note on how logs may still be published without consent to the relevant section so that new participants would be aware of the risks. Wctaiwan 09:03, 22 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request: Participation by blocked users[edit]

I request that whatever rule may exist about participation by users blocked on a Wikiproject be included here (and if there's no rule, it would help to say that). I recently had an issue on #wikipedia-en where I answered questions for editors who'd asked for help and then was told to shut up by what looked like just another bully on a power trip—best ignored. Basically, it looked like they were making up pretend rules just to mess with me. After all, the English ArbCom has said on several occasions that even their authority extends to en.Wikipedia proper alone, and I've never seen rules on Wikimedia or any other Wikiproject saying that users blocked in one place aren't allowed to talk about it.

Even the English Wikipedia alone is huge and being blocked isn't a magical spell that makes people forget things. Someone blocked on account of edit warring wouldn't be unable to answer a question about how to find or cite a source. Forbidding this has no positive practical result and punishes both the user and the person who asked the question.

Of course my first choice is for users like me to get a green light to continue answering questions, but a clear answer would still be a huge improvement. I've been in situations in which it looked like admins were breaking the rules to give me extra punishments. This example is from my real Wiki-life. Finding out that the admins had been punishing people in that exact way for years, that the practice had nothing to do with me personally, was a profound relief. Writing down the rules would support the OPs by proving they aren't making anything up and support the blocked editor in question by proving that he or she is not being singled out. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:07, 5 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  1. Support. Transparency and accountability about rules and policies has long been an important principle to this community.