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Forums: Yew Grove > Consensus
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This thread was archived on 11 February 2011 by Liquidhelium.
This discussion is dedicated to Azaz129 for his introverted spirit.

Now that I'm rapidly nearing retirement age (Social security benefits, anyone?), I've elicited a replacement and set my affairs in order. However, there has been one thing nagging me about the consensus system that we use on the wiki. I'm going to present an overview of the consensus system from the viewpoint of an objective scholar. This will be one of those "discussion" threads, where nothing is being proposed.


De jure Discussion and Consensus

Ideally, the discussion process involves each member actively participating in a discussion, with each person contributing something to the discussion. The process is clearly laid out in the consensus policy. In theory, it is a nice way to make decisions, though in practice it rarely works out that way.

As for how the consensus is found, theoretically, consensus is determined by strength of arguments. This means that once a discussion has run its course, an administrator comes along, reads the discussion, weighs the arguments presented by each side, determines the strongest arguments, and goes with the side with the strongest arguments. If both sides are roughly equally strong, then a no consensus may be called that preserves the status quo.

De facto Discussion and Consensus

Of course, a Utopian consensus system cannot exist. In practice, the discussion goes more along the lines of supporters and opposers laying out positions early, and later comments invariably reference the previous ones, many times as the only justification for their position.

Despite the strong language that things are not done by majority vote, on many instances users can be found citing a particular support count or support percentage as justification for passing or failing the proposal. In fact, threads with a large number of supporters are likely to pass, while those without a large majority are usually failed.

The specific points of contention that will be examined here are the "per" positions, as well as the issue of argument strength.

"Per" Comments

This was previously discussed at Forum:'Per' votes do not help, which was ironically closed as unsuccessful by the same person that this thread is dedicated to.

The theory of the strength of arguments principle means that as long as an argument is presented, it does not matter how many people support it. The final determination will be based upon the arguments themselves. So, if the strength of arguments principle is followed here on the wiki, then why do people still commonly comment on discussions with nothing but a "Per Wojwoj" or "Per 3i+1" or "Per Ajrnub"?

And what purpose does a per comment actually have?

To answer that question, the strength of arguments principle must be examined further.

Strength of Arguments

This principle holds that the strength of an argument is what should be considered when determining consensus. But, if that is the case, then who determines how strong an argument is? Is it the closing sysop?

If the closing sysop impartially determines the relative strength of arguments, then he or she may make an objective determination at the end of the discussion and everything is fine and dandy. But, after all, sysops are human, and therefore inherently flawed. Can any sysop truly look at a thread, no matter how contentions, and come up with an impartial judgment based solely on the strength of arguments? The answer is no.

One's perception of strength of arguments is based on one's own beliefs. Obviously, if Dtm followed the principle, he would have passed this, despite mostly opposes at the time of closure, since Dtm believed that the opposers had no case compared to the few supporters. Of course, someone else may come and say that the supporters have no case compared to the opposers based on a differing set of morals and values.

Another option is to have the community determine the strength of arguments, thereby giving the "per" comments or comments mostly restating a position already presented a purpose. Their role is to indicate the varying degrees of support for each of the arguments presented, thereby giving an impartial method to gauge the relative strength of arguments. Furthermore, this places more control in the hands of the community and less in the hands of the closing sysop.

But, if the relative size of the various factions is used to determine which one is stronger, then wouldn't that violate RS:NOT#DEMOCRACY? After all, the size can't be solely used to gauge the strength of an argument. That's majority rule.

Another option is a combination of the two aforementioned is also an option, but that will merely combine the issues.

Thus, it can be said that the consensus system is flawed. But, like Winston Churchill once said, democracy is a horrible form of government, but the others are so much worse. So, a similar case can be made here that the consensus system is the least of all evils.


Another option is simply to let the sysops do their job and harass them on their talk pages if they close threads unfavorably. Preferably, the harassments will include multiple extortion, block, disembowelment, purgatory, etc threats to be effective.

Second Alternative

Or, just let things degenerate into anarchy.

I'm running out of ideas

Yeah, so discuss away. --LiquidTalk 00:15, January 22, 2011 (UTC)


Comment - Please post your thoughts on the consensus system and what some improvements might be. --LiquidTalk 00:15, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

elic·it verb \i-ˈli-sət\ transitive verb 1. to draw forth or bring out (something latent or potential) <hypnotism elicited his hidden fears> 2. to call forth or draw out (as information or a response) <her remarks elicited cheers>

You elicited a replacement? --Iiii I I I 00:31, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

No. >.< In case you haven't noticed, some parts are jokes. --LiquidTalk 00:34, January 22, 2011 (UTC)
I'm also pretty sure he meant "introspective" instead of "introverted", and I think it's pretty funny he calls himself "an objective scholar". But hey, you can't have everything. (wszx) 02:23, January 29, 2011 (UTC)

Strong support disembowelment - 222 talk 00:45, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

Really, you've said it all, after I read the whole thing, I was a bit sapped for ideas after I had a dozen presented before me. Maybe I'll read it again later... 222 talk 00:45, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - Anarchy is the beginning of a revolution. I tend to think of per votes more of a "He makes a good point" type thing rather then a "I was gonna say the same thing" type thing. svco4bY.png3Gf5N2F.png 01:37, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

Comment - According to Chia at the time of creation of the Per thread, it was an early April Fools joke. It was then quickly thrown into the Clan Chat on that day for discussion, I remember this well. However, what I am obtaining from this is that "per" votes shouldn't count or be weighted the same per RuneScape:Status and opinion-weight or due to lack of reasoning behind the cooperation between two like ideologies. Otherwise, it's due to lack of formating a unique juxtaposed or similar ideal in their own words. While this might be true, this shouldn't devalue the person quoting another user, even if it is just a three word citation. Others may interpret the above differently to what I have conjured. The same argument can be put forth for Forum:Link to when it's all in the eye of the beholder. I know the system is flawed, polling and majority rule even worse when not even a tenth of the editors on this Wikia Wiki edit in the forum namespace, and it needs to be changed. Albeit, in this regard, the sysop has the last say at the end of the thread for determining the consensus of a thread, but why do we allow a monopoly of sorts? Because we hand out tools to users who have gained our trust, lest one pulls cloak over themselves, to do such. I have never been one for liking how consensus is determined, and less when it isn't carried out such as Forum:Change Konami code waited until this edit on RuneScape:Administrator requests to complete. Another point is that when citing a policy or essay, the user may not be fully aware of what is in the project page, using only as one has seen others use it. Sadly, I do not have evidence of such and it is only conjecture to say otherwise. Ryan PM 04:33, January 22, 2011 (UTC)

I have neglected to mention that while threads may or may not pass, the use of humour isn't needed nor should it be used in determining the final outcome. As I have stated in IRC, I take things very literally and thus didn't see why one would state they are retiring, useless sections below the proposal, or anything unrelated to the subject matter. This, as seen above, takes the thread of the beaten path just as how 222 had archived much of the discussion in the Forum:2010 Wiki Year in Review. I may be nitpicking, but this is similar to when a professor says, "If you don't give a damn about this class, I won't give a second thought to flunk your ass out of this course," for not staying in-line with the curriculum. Ryan PM 04:47, January 22, 2011 (UTC)
That's a mean professor. OMG! --LiquidTalk 14:25, January 27, 2011 (UTC)

Bump - Anyone else have anything to say? --LiquidTalk 15:20, February 5, 2011 (UTC)

You've provided what is in my opinion an accurate depiction of our system's mechanics, but I'm of the belief that there is nothing to be done, especially with new users added daily, but for those who know and hold dear the values of our community to protect its legacy and secure its posterity, though I personally wouldn't mind seeing the end of per votes. Leftiness 23:59, February 6, 2011 (UTC)

Closed - The consensus seems to be that I wrote too verbose and too byzantine an opener to last most people's shortened attention spans. --LiquidTalk 23:10, February 11, 2011 (UTC)