Forum:Another look at the Trivia policy

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This thread was archived on 30 June 2011 by Thebrains222.


It’s happened again. I’ve made an addition to a trivia section, which was to my interpretation perfectly within RS:TRIVIA. Then it was deleted a few minutes later by someone else, which was an action they also interpreted as being perfectly within RS:TRIVIA.

This shouldn’t be happening, but even after its most recent trip to the Yew Grove, the trivia policy we currently have is still fundamentally conflicted.

The OED definition of trivia is “Details, considerations, or pieces of information of little importance or value”. How then can we require that for inclusion in a trivia section, a piece of information has to be notable? “Notable” and “Inconsequential” are antonyms, so effectively the trivia policy currently suggests that to be included in a trivia section, information must not be trivial.

The requirement for notability seems to be derived from Wikipedia's trivia policy. The only reason that Wikipedia require notability for inclusion of trivia as far as I can see is that their eventual aim is to absorb all information into the main article text and erase all trivia sections altogether. By requiring that trivia be notable, by its very nature it is not trivia and gets moved somewhere useful. That’s perfect for an encyclopaedia. But is that something that the RS Wiki should emulate? I see this as a fan-site first, which uses a wiki-like format to present its information.

The net effect of this is that our policy spends three and a half pages defining what counts as trivia, then implies that any content should be either moved immediately out of the trivia section into the article’s main discussion, or deleted completely much like Wikipedia requires.

On top of this, “Notable” is a worthless word to use. Just because it is not notable to a particular editor, this does not mean it should be casually discarded. Even Wikipedia, active purgers of trivia, admit:

It is not reasonable to disallow all information that some editors feel is unimportant, because that information could be important to some readers.
— Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Handling_trivia

For example, our current trivia policy suggests that saying “Col. Jake O'Naill is a reference to Colonel Jack O'Neill from the Stargate TV series.” is okay. However, if an editor had never seen Stargate, or didn’t consider it to be notable, he would be following the trivia policy correctly by erasing it. Hell, even the game’s most long standing and famous Easter-egg (Using a herring on a tree) must be a mystery to at least one or two RuneScape players. Does that mean it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the Herring article just because a couple of people are unfamiliar with Monty Python?

And of course, no matter how much anyone prunes these “Out-of-game” references from trivia sections, long after the original contributor has given up, the references will eventually return by someone else’s hand. Have people noticed the Task pages, previously stripped of every pop-culture reference in one coordinated strike, slowly becoming repopulated by them?

It doesn’t help that the trivia policy is overburdened with headings, examples, italics, and lots of words, words, words. When I had a bash at redoing the trivia policy (not a particularly good attempt either, I admit) I tried adapting the existing format. It was still cumbersome, and difficult to get through.

So I decided to look outside the RS Wiki for inspiration. And I found it here:

http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/BioShock_Wiki:Trivia_Policy

Look at that! Look how simple it is! You don’t even need to scroll down to read it to the end!

No mention of notability. Everything is a clear-cut yes or no, apart from “coincidental similarity” which is then guidelined to limit problems. It needs adapting to better fit it being an MMORPG and not an FPS game. Fundamentally though, you have a simple structure:

  • Define trivia section
  • List what is trivia
  • List what is not trivia
  • Guidelines

No examples for each case, because the list concisely says everything you need to know.

I've tried adapting the above trivia policy to better represent our specific MMORPG, and placed it at User:Magma2050/Sandbox.

So here is what I propose: Entirely replace the trivia policy with this adaptation, or something like it, thus removing the vast majority of grey areas and making it easier to read. Additionally, placing a small superscripted "Guidelines" link in each article's Trivia header that links to RS:TRIVIA so contributors are more likely to see what not to include before they include it.

Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 14:33, June 15, 2011 (UTC)

Discussion

Comment - The sharkey reference has been removed several times. Since it's a random examine of a random uninteractible NPC that does nothing, it's not really notable (in some of our opinions, we've had a discussion about this recently). Comparing the trivia policy to the proposed policy, the only difference I see is that the proposed policy is not as specific as the current one. It does not provide examples, and can therefore leave users confused. Since you're creating this over the sharkey reference (right?), I think that all we need to do is further define this. If we were to list every single obvious reference in the game, our trivia sections would be extremely long and unattractive. We have to cut it down a little, and if you're unsure on how to do that, this is the question you should be asking. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 15:24, June 15, 2011 (UTC)

I absolutely understand the need to keep trivia lists tidy. The main problem I have with the current rules is that application of them is so arbitrary. You are right that the "Sharkey" reference is what spurred this on, but to be perfectly honest I've been uneasy with the current rendition of the trivia policy from when it was updated a few months back. As far as I can see, it relies on each individual poster having an innate knowledge of what is "notable" and what isn't, and if it doesn't match the same understanding of "notability" of a few active administrators, it gets the chop regardless of whether it was undeniably true or not. I admit, personally I am a big fan of trivia. QI is one of my favourite TV shows. But I am trying to be objective about this and take a step back. My take on this is: By changing the requirement for inclusion from what is notable to what can be proved, I think the amount of trivia would stay about the same. When a new piece of content comes out, I see most of the trivia being added is speculation. However, a few trivia pieces are beyond any doubt, though not every player would know this. For example, when someone pointed out the examine text for the Grimterns from A Clockwork Syringe was a reference to Bioshock, I hed to look that up because I'd never played the game. When I had, I realised it was quite a clever pun, and carried on. I think that's the mark of good trivia - It's something that begins with "Did you know..." followed by a fact you probably don't know. The article for the quest however still references this fact despite the fact that once the quest is over you can never meet them again. Does this mean it's notable enough for inclusion because it's an NPC you can fight? Or just because the Bioshock reference is more mainstream? If the main criteria for trivia are that they are easily found and widely understood, they become pointless to inform people about because they know it anyway.
In summary, I'm of the belief that all trivia is trivial and therefore not notable. Notable information, i.e. information that is of substantial importance belongs in the main text. When I follow a newly created article, most of the trivia added is all "maybe"s and "might"s which is personal speculation. By culling the trivia list down to what is beyond any shadow of a doubt to be true, I believe it would have the same effect as just letting anyone cull trivia they feel is too trivial.
P.S. I would accept that for task pages, the blanket trivia of "All task names are derived from pop culture references, which are too numerous to list" would be more than adequate. I think they are the only pages capable of having a trivia list that is longer than the main article itself.
Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 17:44, June 16, 2011 (UTC)
I'm not an administrator and I have no problem figuring out what is notable and what is not. The sharkey reference added nothing to the article, I didn't even see a shark when doing the quest. If our trivia all started with "Did you know..", I'd ragekill every single instance of it. That sounds incredibly stupid on an informative encyclopedia - we're not quizzing people, we're just providing straight facts that are somewhat useful. Like I've already said, if you're unsure what is notable and what is not, that is what you should be asking, rather than trying to rip off another wiki's trivia page and completely replace ours. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 18:29, June 16, 2011 (UTC)
Ripping off is a bit strong considering I asked for permission, sat on this for a week and eventually received wholehearted consent [1]. I know the wiki will never be rid of vandals, thoughtless editors and credit-takers, and that keeping them at bay is a continuous and laborious task. All I'm trying to do is patch a hole in the current policy that I and many other good-faith editors keep falling into, getting their contributions dismissed as worthless. If people can look at the policy and not have to apply "common sense" to decide what they should post and should not, then wouldn't that make the lives of contributors and reverters a little bit simpler? Common sense is, after all, not one single constant entity, but a wide spectrum of individuals' personal views that can often be in conflict from one person to another.
For example (And please don't see this as me being obsessed over my rejected edit, I'm just drawing on my own personal experience of the issue), I can't see how the sharkey reference is any more or less a "somewhat useful and straight fact" than Catherby's 10:04 reference, yet all mentions of Sharkey vanish while Back to the Future has been in that article for nearly 2 years and not one edit since has removed it despite the fact it's already featured in the mainspace not more than one page down. All quests' trivia sections now have by default the Adventurers' Log entry about what happened in the quest, but this is of no use to anyone as by the time you get to that part of the page, you've read in its entirety what happens in the quest anyway! It's this kind of double standard that I'm having difficulty getting my head around, where one bit of useless trivia is removed for being irrelevant while another equally useless entry is tolerated. Because notability is such a relative term, you could argue that by the strictest application of the word all trivia deserves to be removed for its lack of notability. Sometimes it is wiser to avoid an obstacle than climb over it, and I think by changing the policy so the cut-off for the criteria doesn't have to be guessed would be beneficial. Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 20:25, June 16, 2011 (UTC)

Strong oppose - Defining what belongs and what doesn't is very important when you get as much crap as we do, and trust me, we get a lot of crap. The thing that immediately strikes me about your policy is that is missing this crucial detail. Our current policy has detailed explanations and comprehensive examples for everything, and your policy does not.

And why do we need examples? Because as much as you read and reread that paragraph, people, me included, can still be unsure, and having someone tell you "Here's an example of what's right and what's not" can be of great help.

"It doesn’t help that the trivia policy is overburdened with headings, examples, italics, and lots of words, words, words." <<<< I lol'd irl at the statement. Our trivia policy is 10 sections with 5 or less lines followed by a couple comprehensive examples, and it uses bold an italics a couple of times in each section to catch your eye and to stress points. Dude, that's not a lot of words, and italics and bold is not excessively or unnecessarily used.

I'd also call that view immature. I know you didn't do this so don't go all "rawr im offended" on me, but it sounds like you just scrolled through the page swiftly and said "Tl;dr".

The reader knowing what is right and what isn't quickly and in detail is imperative, and our current policy achieves this where your's does not. Matt (t) 21:16, June 15, 2011 (UTC)

Almost forgot! We need to have the notability requirement otherwise we would get swamped with utter crap. Using common sense is what's most important when it comes to notability. If you don't believe me when I say that we have so much crap, just ask Suppa. Matt (t) 21:23, June 15, 2011 (UTC)
To point 1, Yes. No examples until the guidelines section, and even then they are brief. I was under the impression that pretty much anything a poster may come up with as trivia would fall clearly into one of the "Do" or "Do not" sections without argument. If you can give me any examples of ones that are not, then please do - Whether you believe it or not my only intention here is to try and make the policy as comprehensive, concise, and devoid of misinterpretation as possible.
To point 2, no I'm not taking offence. I take care to read things through, but on a quick scan through the whole thing still seems a bit cumbersome and I know there are people out there who will say TL:DR when faced with that amount of text to read and digest in the current layout. The thing that impressed me most about the Bioshock wiki trivia policy was its no nonsense approach that says all the main points within the first half-page, in three clearly defined headers: Do this. Don't do that. Guidelines. Ours on the other hand seems to alternate bold and normal on almost every line, and that doesn't help the readability at all.
To point 3, this is where my major bone of contention is with the current policy. Trivia is not notable. Facts can be considered trivial or notable, and that's why I think Wikipedia uses it. They hate trivia. They want it gone. An encyclopaedia is a collection of notable facts, and anything that is not notable does not belong in an encyclopaedia. That's why their official policy on trivia lists is to tolerate them temporarily, so the notable facts can filter into the main space and the trivial ones can wither and die. Also, while notability is subjective, verifiability is objective. I believe that by only allowing verifiable trivia in, regardless of how trivial it is, we could achieve much the same level of "cruft" removal as by only allowing non-trivial trivia, which is occasionally of dubious veracity.
As an extra example, just take a look at the trivia for Deadliest Catch at the moment. Sure, most of the things on it at the moment qualify by all criteria apart from notability. But what happens if you apply that last requirement: (a) affects or potentially affects a majority players, and (b) is considered important to the history and progression of the game?
  • The rewards spoiler text on day of release - Fails to meet requirement (b)
  • Adventurer's log text - Says nothing you don't learn during the quest, fails (b)
  • Moby Dick reference - Fails (b)
  • Game guide typos - Will be fixed, only affected a few players whose skills were on the borderline so fails (a)
  • Linza - "First" of something - needs to be in the main article space
  • Tentacle's Island - fails (b)
  • Juna - Fails (b), additionally it's verbatim recording of copyrighted works
  • Hunting bug - Fails (a)
By applying the notability clause, the entire trivia section of Deadliest catch is therefore emptied and the heading can be deleted. You can do much the same to every trivia section on the whole site. That's why I feel requirement for notability does not belong on any site that actively promotes the use of trivia sections as anything more than temporary.
Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 17:44, June 16, 2011 (UTC)
That;s my problem. Being concise isn't always best. Getting across to the reader what's right and what isn't in largest possible detail but at the same time conversing the points adequately quickly is what's most important here.
If you still need another reason to keep examples, let's put it this way. Let's just say, someone got confused. Doesn't matter who. They could read the examples and go "ah, okay". They could then compare pieces of trivia to those examples. Very useful.
Yes, I'm going to use the RS:NOT#WIKIPEDIA argument. Go on, bite my head off. Lol But seriously, we don't really care what Wikipedia does. Trivia is something that thousands of people like most about this wiki. Little side facts make people go "Wow, didn't know that" and "That's interesting".
And again, so what? We're a video game fansite...
I'm also going to use the Use common sense argument again. Rules and guidelines aren't everything, and UCS is most important in everything of this wiki. I don't think I have anything more to say about UCS.
We need some requirement of notability to distinguish the remaining crap from the not-crap. Without it, we could freely accept so much irrelevance, even enough to make Jeff cringe. It would be utter chaos. It's practically the most important part of the entire policy.
UCS, just UCS... Matt (t) 21:24, June 16, 2011 (UTC)
As part of my RL job, I have to create operating procedures, very similar to these policies in many respects. It is critical that all operating procedures are easy to find, easy to understand and leave the absolute bare minimum open to interpretation. This ensures that whoever is performing the task described at the very least conforms to the required standards of quality. That is what I'm trying to bring here. With a header link, anyone could instantly see there are guidelines for contributing material in the trivia section before they click on "edit". From there they would see a simple bullet-pointed list of "do"s and "don't"s, with further guidelines underneath if that didn't clear things up for them. Lastly, the requirement for notability is replaced entirely with the requirement for absolute veracity, which is much easier to judge.
I notice that you maintain that examples of what qualifies as trivia or not must be present in the trivia policy so contributors can rank whether or not their contribution truly is trivia. As Leftiness has shown below and on the Sandbox page, addition of examples is simple enough afterwards and can be presented in a clear and concise manner. What I wonder is, why is it that determination of trivia status cannot be left up to UCS, while notability can be? For example, (and apologies again to refer to the initial example but historical examples slip my mind at the moment) the "Sharkey" reference is on a non-interactable object examine in a one-time-only location, referencing a cartoon probably only known to 25-35 year olds who used to watch Channel 4 in the UK while getting ready for school. What quality is it that bars it from being notable? Is it because you can never see it again? Then get rid of the half the trivia from quests. Is it because it's unlikely a player would notice it by themselves? Then the trivia regarding using herrings on trees isn't deserving to be here either. Is it because it relies on knowledge of an obscure reference? Then the Eyes of Glouphrie quest doesn't deserve to make mention of "The Adventure Game" either.
At the very least, to make the policy more robust, it needs examples of what is notable, what isn't notable, and crucially why. Telling people "UCS" is no better than saying "Go with your gut" because both are horribly subjective and policies need to be objective.
If you can't say what specific qualities of a piece of trivia bar it from being notable, and have to rely on it falling through the policy and landing on UCS, then the policy is flawed and needs at the very least a change to give objective guidance on the matter. Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 19:02, June 17, 2011 (UTC)
You wanna replace notability with veracity? Hate to burst your bubble but that's kind of the number one rule of the wiki. If information isn't true in the first place, then why the hell is it in an article?
Also, if we were to rely on veracity, then we would have sooooooooo much absolute rubbish in trivia sections.
We already have rough guidelines for notability. "Generally, information is notable if it meets all of the above guidelines, affects or potentially affects a majority players, and is considered important to the history and progression of the game." Yes, that is open to interpretation? But I ask, so what? We can't have absolutely everything concise. And we can't have guidelines we just follow. We need to think about what we are adding and if it should be on the article.
Meeting the previous guidelines is the most important part in that.
Also, your interpretation of how big the policy is completely wrong. In your mind, you're trying to turn an unusually-large couch into a stool. When in fact, you're not. Your actually trying to turn a small armchair into a stool. Matt (t) 22:51, June 17, 2011 (UTC)
I really don't understand what the armchair-couch-stool thing is supposed to mean. And yes you are right the notability guidelines are open to interpretation. The trouble is that they are too open. Key is the phrase "important to the history and progression of the game". Right at the top of the page it says "Information that can be placed in the main body of an article must be included there. Important or notable information can oftentimes be included in the main body of articles". Oftentimes? I'd say without exception. If a fact is important to the history and progression of the game, i.e. worthy of a player interested in the subject taking note of the fact because it may affect his or her gameplay, then it by default belongs in the article's main space and not the trivia section. I'll repeat my earlier statement: Wikipedia requires this because they don't want trivia articles long-term, and anyone that emulates this has a policy that discourages long-term trivia section use. Over the last few days I've been trawling through trivia sections to find examples for my points here, and I'd estimate that 10% of the trivia there do not meet the definition of trivia by the first sections in our policy. Another 85% do, but knowing them does not help any player understand the historical background of the game nor are they capable of affecting how they play the game and thus fail the notability check (Meets other guidelines AND affects most players AND important to game history and progression). The last 5% meet all requirements for notability, but with referral to the first clause of the policy they belong in the main text of the article. So I'm left in the situation where if I were to apply the policy as it is printed, I would end up by one method or another deleting all trivia sections across the site, which I'm sure to most people (myself included) would be considered to be in the spirit of vandalism! If anything, given the current policy, current trivia tidiers are being lenient. I'm happy for you that you and a few others seem to intuitively feel which trivia should be exempt from that logic, but I (and many others, as is evidenced by the number of reverts you guys do on notability grounds) can't feel it. Personally, I'm left in the situation where I can either follow the rules by deleting or moving all trivia on sight because of notability grounds (and get blocked as a result), post trivia knowing that it's most likely going to be deleted (and end up feeling any future contributions will be just as worthless without really understanding why), or just not bother contributing trivia at all. To me, this feels like I'm trying to meet some arbitrary requirement that is only well-defined in other people's heads where I can't look, and I can't see me wanting to contribute any more to it. If a policy discourages people from making potentially valid contributions for fear of being told that they aren't valid at all without being shown specifically why they are wrong in a way that helps them learn to post better content, then it's a bad policy.
"Think of a number, any number." "Er, five," said the mattress. "Wrong," said Marvin. "You see?"
— The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 07:02, June 18, 2011 (UTC)
I really don't give a crap anymore. I'm done arguing. Matt (t) 07:13, June 18, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - With the repetition of RS:UCS being all that truly matters, I frown on extensive use of policies as a crutch in an argument, and I especially dislike the interpretation of RS:NOT#WIKIPEDIA as "If Wikipedia does it, we think it's automatically bad." Since rules and guidelines aren't everything, I would prefer arguments based on logic.

With that said, misplaced trivia, repeated information, ordinality, references, speculation, article relevance, and neutrality are covered by the Bioshock policy, RS:NOT#CRYSTAL, RS:G, and RS:NPOV. As I dislike redundancy, I personally see no need to include some of those points at all, but that's probably a controversial opinion on which I can concede.

Price history and bugs are guidelines that are uniquely applicable to the fact that our subject is a consistently updated MMORPG. These are acceptable and included, but notability is a contradictory requirement, and I wholeheartedly support Magma's arguments against it. If we want trivia, we cannot apply the stipulation of notability as it is only a crutch with which one might remove those trivial facts personally found useless or uninteresting. If we believe that thousands of people appreciate trivia most, we cannot pretend to know what trivial facts they find useful and interesting.

Considering that, I note that Magma's draft adequately covers all points of our policy in a graciously more concise and legible manner. I understand the possible benefit of providing examples to explain our guidelines, but, if we truly care to educate potential editors in the policies of our community, we would do well to understand that maintaining brevity while ensuring clarity is a powerful and necessary tool. I believe it best to assume that people are competent and capable of understanding simple guidelines, first writing a clear list of rules for them while providing further examples for those in need. As such, I would provide examples with references to the points exemplified at the end of the policy.

I provided one such example on Magma's draft page. One might agree that my limited usage of italicized and bold text maintains clarity and legibility, and Magma's draft covers the subject of article relevance in the Verifiability section of the Guidelines heading. In my opinion, the formatting used is again far more clear, and I've heard that asserting the same point first in prose and later in example also provides for better retention. Leftiness 02:28, June 17, 2011 (UTC)

Oppose - Per what I've stated above. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 02:32, June 17, 2011 (UTC)

Oppose - I honestly don't want to become involved in another trivia thread, but I don't feel that the BioShock trivia policy really does a good job of covering everything. It's still open to interpretation; nothing can really change that. In my opinion, the BioShock version does a poorer job of covering all aspects of trivia compared to the current policy. Suppa chuppa Talk 02:49, June 17, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - I support removing the "notability" requirement of trivia, or removing it all together. This is because trivia, by definition, cannot be notable at the same time,[2][3] or it is not trivia. Regarding the proposal, I think the current version does a better job covering all aspects of what belongs in trivia sections. Smithing (talk | contribs) 20:25, June 18, 2011 (UTC)

Comment -

Look at that! Look how simple it is! You don’t even need to scroll down to read it to the end!
— OP

I had to scroll down. svco4bY.png3Gf5N2F.png 21:03, June 21, 2011 (UTC)

Just had a look, it seems that if you are running on 1024 x 768 you do have to scroll down a tiny bit but after that it still all fits on one screen when using the two most popular browsers if they don't have lots of toolbars. Obsidian charm.png Magma2050 T C E Obsidian charm.png 21:15, June 21, 2011 (UTC)
lol zam Matt (t) 22:12, June 21, 2011 (UTC)

Closed - The Trivia policy will not be replaced at this time. 222 talk 08:27, June 30, 2011 (UTC)