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Discussion report

Proposal to return this section from hiatus is successful

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By Sven Manguard and Ebe123

Reporter's note: Last issue, a call for more writers was put out by the managing editors. In response, I decided to try to revive the Discussion report section. However, I'm going to need your help to do it. I watch most of the major discussion boards, and have done so long before taking on this responsibility, but I can't possibly be watching everything at once. At the beginning of the week, I am going to start the discussion report and throw in several items I will try to include for the finished product. You will be able to see the report in progress from the Signpost's Newsroom. If there is an important discussion that you're aware of, hasn't been covered in a previous report, and is not on my list, feel free to add a link to the discussion at the Signpost's suggestion board. I will not be able to cover sister projects or meta at all without tips, so I really, really need people who are active at other projects to keep me in the loop, so I can in turn keep you all in the loop. If I decide to write up a discussion I received from a tip (which I will, if it's a good tip), I'll give you credit for bringing it in. You can keep sending me tips until 48 hours before publication (I need the weekend to do the write ups).

I am currently planning for the report to be bi-monthly, but that may change in future. I'm also open to co-writing the report with anyone interested. For those who remember the pre-hiatus discussion report, I've also slightly reorganized the layout, adding a few sections including the sidebar.

And now, with all that explanation out of the way, please welcome back the Discussion report.

– Sven Manguard

Critical issues

Steering RfC for the 2011 Arbitration Committee Elections

A 45-day-long request for comment was initiated by MuZemike to solicit community opinions on a number of questions related to the upcoming Arbitration Committee elections. Dozens of proposals and hundreds of comments on important structural issues were made, and the RfC is set to close on November 1. A special edition of the discussion report will appear in next week's Signpost, devoted entirely to the results of this important discussion.


New page patrol improvement survey

Wikimedia Foundation contractor Okeyes (WMF) (also known as Ironholds outside his official WMF capacity) recently distributed more than 4,000 invitations asking editors with experience in new page patrolling to participate in a survey designed to aid the Foundation's efforts to develop a new Special:NewPages interface. The Signpost asked Mr. Keyes about the survey:

"The staffers I've been in contact with have really been bowled over by the number of responses. We were expecting maybe 450; as of now, we've got over 1,000. The data gathered so far has torpedoed a lot of assumptions about new page patrollers. A majority of them have tertiary qualifications and are well above 18, for example.

However, we still need to normalise the data; a majority of patrollers have tertiary qualifications, but do they do the majority of patrols? If not, what demographic does most of the work, and what are their attributes? Hopefully this will be done in the next couple of weeks, and I should have some very interesting data to show people quite soon.

My thanks to everyone who has submitted information so far, or who plans to do so in the future; we're going to use it to build a Special:NewPages interface that's easier for existing editors to use, and easier for new editors to adapt to. Hopefully we can bring down the workload and make it a better experience."

If you have experience in the area but have not received an invitation, you can still take the survey by clicking this link. The discussion report will publicize the results of the survey as they become available.

Discussions that are
Happening now
Unless otherwise mentioned, all discussions profiled in the report remain open as of October 31, 2011.

Centralized discussions

Proposed change to Notability (music)'s guidelines on albums

A proposal was launched on the last day of September by Noleander to remove from the Notability (music) guideline the line "In general, if the musician or ensemble is notable, and if the album in question has been mentioned in multiple reliable sources, then their officially released albums may have sufficient notability to have individual articles on Wikipedia", on the grounds that it is so easy to find sources for just about any album that the criteria in question are not effective for judging notability. Instead, Noleander advocated the principle of "significant coverage". After five days, Lawrencekhoo restarted the discussion as a formal Request for Comment in a new thread immediately below Noleander's discussion. Discussion on the issue has slowed, with a significant majority supporting Noleander's proposal.

Change to the blocking policy proposed

In response to concerns raised during the discussion of the possible unblock of TreasuryTag (coverage below), Eraserhead1 removed the line "as punishment against users" from the section of the blocking policy that listed what blocks were not to be used for. The change was reverted, and a Request for Comment was initiated by Hydroxonium to determine whether there was consensus for reinstating Eraserhead1's change. After 10 days and more than 100 comments, SilkTork closed the discussion with the conclusion that there was not a consensus for making the alteration.


Δ seeking consensus to perform maintenance tasks

Hammersoft (talk · contribs), on behalf of Δ (formerly Betacommand), has filed requests to undertake 20 separate automated tasks. Δ is required by community sanctions to seek consensus before undertaking a "pattern of edits", and is restricted to an average of four edits a minute during any ten-minute interval. At the time of writing, a majority of the proposals have more opposition than support, or have almost the same levels of opposition as support; seven, however, have achieved varying pluralities of support. They are:

3. undertake edits to remove external links where such links were used as a failed attempt to include an image in an infobox
7. add {{dead link}} as appropriate to references where the link is dead.
9. replace "Image:" with "File:".
13. add titles to bare URLs and convert inline links to refs where needed.
14. add non-breaking spaces to units, in accordance with WP:NBSP.
18. date maintenance templates.
20. combine templates as needed into {{multiple issues}}.

An effort to rewrite the editing restrictions placed on Δ is also underway at the same page; however, none of the proposed versions have achieved significant support, and the level of participation in the discussion is low.

Requests for comment

Issues raised about the content of the article Astrology

A five-part RfC was initiated at the end of September by Dominus Vobisdu, in which the editor raised concern that several sections of the article Astrology give undue weight to a minority view of astrology, and over the use of unreliable sources in those claims. Duing the past month, more than 200 separate comments have been left on the talk page on these matters. Several editors have engaged in heated exchanges, and in mid-October the Arbitration Committee imposed a six-month topic ban from the topic of astrology on Ludwigs2, due to his comments at the RfC (the Astrology article is under general sanctions as a result of the case Pseudoscience). While a broad consensus has formed on most of the issues, the discussion appears likely to remain open for some time.

Lead section of Mass killings under Communist regimes put to a vote

An RfC filed jointly by Paul Siebert and Smallbones seeks to end a dispute over the content of the lead section of Mass killings under Communist regimes, by crafting two potential lead sections and asking the community to choose which one should be placed in the article. The discussion has slowed to a halt, and at present neither of the two originally proposed leads, nor a third lead suggested during the discussion, has managed to achieve more support than opposition.

Restructuring proposed for the Verifiability policy's handling of "verifiability, not truth"

A modification to the verifiability policy was proposed earlier this month that would make two changes to the handling of "verifiability, not truth". The change would remove mention of the concept "verifiability, not truth" from the lead, in favor of mention that Wikipedia policies other than verifiability also affect the inclusion of content. "Verifiability, not truth" would instead be addressed in a new section, "Assertions of truth and untruth", placed right after the lead. Support for the change was just above a 2:1 margin, with almost 100 opinions already in, before a sudden spike in participation after a thread was opened on October 28 at the administrators' noticeboard alleging that the RfC was closed too early and was not closed by an uninvolved admin. The margin of support has decreased to around 3:2, with just under 250 comments in. SarekOfVulcan, the administrator whose close of the discussion led to the AN/I thread, voluntarily resigned his administrator tools on October 29.

Proposal that e-sports be explicitly excluded from the Notability (sports) guideline

An RfC was started earlier this week by Ridernyc that sought to gain consensus for inserting the line, "At this time there is no consensus that Esports [sic] participants are covered by the criteria of this guideline" into the page Notability (sports). A dozen editors have commented, and the discussion is ongoing. Another e-sports-related discussion is under way at the Reliable sources noticeboard, regarding whether or not several websites can be considered independent sources.

Other discussions

Consensus sought for a conditional unblock of TreasuryTag

TreasuryTag, an editor since 2006, was blocked at the beginning of the month for "generally combative behaviour not conducive to collaborative environment". Having been blocked in August and September for unacceptable behavior, and each time being unblocked after promising to reform, TreasuryTag's October block was indefinite. A proposal by Worm That Turned was put forth at the Administrators' noticeboard that would have allowed the editor to be unblocked and given a final chance, on the condition that they be mentored and monitored by Worm That Turned and Fastily, both admins. Almost 50 people left comments on the matter. Sjakkalle closed the discussion and stated, in part, that consensus was against unblocking TreasuryTag, but that there was "general agreement in the discussion that both Worm That Turned and Fastily should be commended for their generous offer and attempts to find a satisfactory outcome".

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Missed: Discussion at talk page of WP:DISRUPT. And a very big one, the discussion over the Halloween TFA. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:47, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I don't see anything about Human Centipede at WT:DISRUPT. Powers T 18:11, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It's inevitable that I'm going to miss some. That this is the first week that I'm doing the report, and therefore have little experience to fall back on, dosen't help matters. There were a few topics that I wanted to cover but couldn't, including the Pregnancy and Suicide image RfCs. There were other things that were just starting when I was selecting discussions for inclusion, and they could have ballooned over the weekend without me knowing. I made a big appeal for tips because I know that I just cannot track everything, and I really don't want things to fall through the cracks. Please let me know of any developing stories you come across by leaving a message at the suggestions board. Sven Manguard Wha? 18:40, 1 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I don't recognise any "improvement survey" that forced people to provide confidential information to participate. Such a survey is limited to a subset of people that don't care about privacy and therfore makes the result suspect. Regards, SunCreator (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:25, 1 November 2011 (UTC).[reply]

  • I will let the 1,150 people who have so far responded to it that their submissions are useless :P. The only "confidential information" we required was year of birth. SunCreator, your IP address can theoretically be used to work out where you live - and you store it whenever you edit. Next to that, year of birth is relatively non-confidential, and will be held under precisely the same data storage and privacy standards. Okeyes (WMF) (talk) 12:30, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
    • I care about privacy - my day job is helping organisations protect large volumes of data about members of the public - but the questionnaire did not "force" me to provide any information that I was uncomfortable disclosing. Far from it.
    • Of course, many surveys suffer from limited responses regardless of whether or not they ask for a year of birth, and the limited responses can impair the results, but this (and the selection bias in particular) is a widely understood issue; surveys can be designed to mitigate it, and survey results should always be read with that in mind. bobrayner (talk) 15:08, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
      • Well said :). The Foundation has some excellent and dedicated researchers who'll be looking through things, and compensating for biases. Okeyes (WMF) (talk) 17:10, 2 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I really like this new section. As a person who just wants to know what is going on the largest encyclopedia anyone can edit, this is really good. General Rommel (talk) 03:14, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • Good luck with keeping this section going. I know it is harder than it looks. -- llywrch (talk) 05:42, 3 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I've just re-read my quote and headdesked; I forgot to highlight the work of User:Kudpung, who originally came up with the survey and has been with us every step of the way writing it, developing it, fixing our mistaken tweaks and helping with the delivery. His hard work is much appreciated, and highy commendable :). Okeyes (WMF) (talk) 14:04, 6 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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