Forum:Explicitating who may participate in RfAs, AotMs, VfDs and the like

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Forums: Yew Grove > Explicitating who may participate in RfAs, AotMs, VfDs and the like
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This thread was archived on 29 June 2008 by C Teng.

This RfB has brought forward a disputatious issue in regards to whether the applicability of one rule found in UotM is or can be blanketed to those other areas where opinions of support and oppose are found. There are some that argued that it did however, after having researched past RfAs which took place after the policy change found in UotM, I did not find a single example of someone being denied a vote due to lack of mainspace edits and to the contrary, found examples such as this one (that took place six months after the UotM rule was initiated) where someone with less than 50 mainspace edits was challenged but ultimately allowed to participate in the disucssion. So as of right now the reality is that de jure and de facto, the only place where one must have a minimum of 50 edits is UotM. Despite this, we have some users and at least one administrator who believe that this policy should or is extended to other areas. And so I have created this discussion so that we may finally clarify and crystallize the rules.0 Let me clarify now that this discussion does not include UotM since the rules was already publically discussed and had been developped exclusively for that area and additionally, the 50 edit requirement in a situation where only support votes are allowed and no negative vote can be expressed makes sense. So now as to who may participate.

So who should be allowed to participate in these discussions? I'd like to start off by reminding everyone that these requests for admin, for an article of the month even the vote for deletion is not simply a question of getting a democratic majority but of a general consensus formed between those people participating so though while 60% of the people may think an article should be deleted and 40% think it should be kept, they can come to a concensus of a merger. As a corollary, in a situation where 70% of the people voice a support opinion without cause and 30% of the people state that they oppose but provide then first and foremost, there is an evident lack of consensus and second, it is not the vote that matters but the argument behind it and so a strong, reasoned and persuasive minority vote will determine the end result over a weak and generic majority vote. We don't bring votes here, we bring arguments and no argument should be nfor reasons that go beyond the breadth of the argument itself. So if a new user or an anonymous IP or an administrator or a bureaucrat gives a unique position or a good idea either in support of a position or person, in opposition or to form a consensus, their voice should not be nullifed and striken out simply due to the mistrust of others. This is probably why there is no rules banning them and why we should explicitly state that yes they can participate. To buttress this, I'd like to quote other official policies.

First of all, we find these truths to be self-evident, that all editors are created equal: "Editors come in all shapes, sizes and powers; from the bureaucrat, to the admin, to the standard editor, to the unlogged IP address. It's also possible that although you do not know it, the editor you're talking to is a player moderator, forum moderator or even a Jagex staff member. In addition, a member may have very high levels in some skills, and specializes in them a lot. An editor's status, popularity, attitude, demeanor, or in-game experience may influence the way we think about them. However, there is no person on this wiki that has more authority than another, no matter what, because all editors are equal."

A good contribution is a good contribution, a good idea is a good idea and so if someone gives a good reason why an article should be deleted or a person shouldn't be an administrator, their "title" should be irrelevant. I also know that a concern of some people would be sockpuppets. Well first, I would say that all editors must assume good faith in others: "Assume that when an editor makes an edit, it was to help the wiki, not to vandalize it. Since anyone can edit, we must assume that most people who work on the wiki are trying to help it, not hurt it. If you are positive someone made an unconstructive edit, then feel free to correct it." Remember, we aren't really "voting" since the majority will not automatically mean that something passes or fails. If there is reason to believe that an editor may be a sockpuppet such as being the single edit of an IP or having come back after two months of nothing to vote, then you can note that in subscript without striking out their comment and if the proof is incontrovertible, then it may be removed. Regardless, ideas are what reign in these fora and if you provide a good idea to support your position and indicate that a particular person or persons parrot someone else or don't even provide any reason, then in the forming of a final concensal agreement, they would not have any particular influence.

Finally, let's remember what the Runescape community is not:

"a democracy: Community decisions are based upon consensus, not polling. When contributing to a discussion, an argument should be given for your point of view, instead of simply voting. Others will then respond to your argument, and eventually a consensus should be reached one way or another. Once all arguments have been made and responded to, the discussion may be closed by an administrator or bureaucrat, regardless of the time elapsed since the nomination. Closing administrators are given limited discretion in determining whether a consensus has been reached in a discussion. If you feel that the decision made was poor or did not reflect consensus, you can appeal the decision on the closer's talk page, or at another community process. Decisions should never be made simply on the basis of majority vote."

"a bureaucracy: Wikis are not intended to be run by a cabal of administrators, or for that matter, experienced editors. Policies and guidelines should achieve a consensus before they come into effect, and should be written down in project space for all to see. They should be designed to improve the wiki, but can be ignored in cases when they are not accomplishing this task. All users should be able to participate in the development of policies, and in other discussions. There is no power structure of any sort. Administrators are not "higher" than regular users in any way, other than having access to administrator tools. Likewise, bureaucrats are not higher than administrators, except again that they have access to bureaucrat tools. All editors are equal. "

Our policies say so, the spirit of Wikia asks so and so far this place has shown so: all editors are equal, there is no hierarchy and everyone should be able to participate in discussions. Let's make this clear to all.--Diberville 23:38, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Support the idea of allowing newer users to vote - Ok, first off, that was one of the longests posts I've ever seen on the Wiki or on the Wiki forums. Second, isn't the same thing happening in the U.S. with voter ID cards? Third, it's "we hold these truths..." not "we find...". Anyways, to get back on topic I'd like to back up what you said earlier in your post. Indeed, since many people say that we are not a democracy and that we aren't actually "voting", I find it very interesting that some of the same people are trying to limit who can vote. Like you said earlier, if we really aren't voting then what difference would a sock puppet make? If someone just comes in and says "support - so and so is my friend irl" and that person joined yesterday and has 2 edits, it doesn't really matter since it's a consensus. If their "vote" doesn't contribute to the discussion or doesn't counter a previous arguement then it means nothing. If a new person who has been here one day and has 2 edits comes in and makes a wonderful point and supports it with links, their opinion SHOULD be considered, as it contributes to the discussion. I really don't think these "rules" are helping the Wiki at all...Yellow partyhat.png Ilyas Talk Contribs 00:06, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Ilyas, none of the supporters have listed ANY links to validate their argument. Because a large number are new and know nothing about why Chia would be be good, because they don't know the community at all. Christine 01:10, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Support unrestricted voting. In any discussion where we get a load of spammy 'me-too' votes the closing admin can simply note that these were treated as such when writing up the summary. It would only be a problem if we counted votes and used majority rule, but since we look to consensus instead I don't really see it as an issue. Putting a restriction on voting would, however, prevent 'unqualified' editors from making positive contributions to the discussion and that is A Bad Thing. Pointy 00:34, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I suggest an OBJECTION keyword to respond to comments which really should be taken with a grain of salt:
Support Endasil is my best friend, he would make a great sysop! Signed, SomeNoob
OBJECTION This user has only made 10 or so edits in the last year and clearly is voting in the interest of Endasil and not of the wiki. Signed, SomeDenizen
This would allow us to clearly mark points to which we take exception while not removing their intrinsic right to have said it. Endasil (Talk) @  14:44, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
@Ilyas: I think the reason Christine (whatever, I'll name names) is so adamant on clearly marking those votes is because the process is so dependent on one person: the presiding bureaucrat. We know that Dtm will always look at the arguments, we trust him to do so, but what if an inactive 'crat stumbles upon the decision, sees all the supports and less opposes, and without really reading the whole discussion decides the result? I think a few of us are kind of nervous that all of that would rely on one person's discretion (all the more reason to be very picky with choosing a new bureaucrat) and so we want to make certain things clear to any presiding 'crat. That said, I agree with diberville, and to clarify my stance, I don't think we should be striking-through new users' comments. It's not a vote, and so clearly inlining an objection or a comment to a Support/Oppose vote that doesn't have a shred of reasoning behind it is sufficient. Endasil (Talk) @  14:55, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
To Christine - But what does "assume good faith" mean? It means not to assume everything is bad and to at least give people a chance. We wouldn't be doing that if we put a ban on ALL new users would, in fact, NOT be assuming good faith.Yellow partyhat.png Ilyas Talk Contribs 15:36, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
To Endasil - All the more reason we need crats who are neutral and not on one side or the other.Yellow partyhat.png Ilyas Talk Contribs 15:41, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Comment - I've been involved with two other fairly largish wiki communities (Wikibooks and Wikiversity), and the long-time precedent that has been invoked in those communities was in regards to not vote counts, but the quality of the argument being presented. This keeps out sock puppetry... which is from all appearances the reason you are trying to exclude new contributors. Or am I mistaken about this?This shouldn't be an issue that "majority rules", but to look at intelligent discussions about the various issues that are raised. In other words, a VfD discussion that has 25 votes in support that are mostly "Yeah, ugly page...needs to go", and one very well thought out and reasoned reply that demonstrates policies where it fits within the scope of the project and why such a page is desperately needed within the project.... I think the reasoned reply should outweigh all of the other essentially meaningless votes against. In other words, improve the discussion, don't just count votes. Or simply put, don't rely simply upon the vote totals.

    Along this line of thought, it is much more likely that a brand-new user could come up with a substantially coherent argument for one side of an argument... or perhaps even come up with a truly novel solution that might even resolve the issue in some way that all parties can agree upon. I know this takes maturity and it is much easier to simply count votes. But this attitude can help resolve issues without having to worry about such petty problems like how many edits one of the participants in the discussion has made or not made to represent how valuable their ideas are in the discussion. --Robert Horning 17:02, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

That's what he's trying to say.Yellow partyhat.png Ilyas Talk Contribs 17:07, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
As a note, this no-voting precedent was made quite a while before RS:NOT, where RFA's were mostly decided by vote count, and the issue was raised when real-life friends of the nominee would vote. Since RS:NOT was made, and has been trying to move RFA's and the like into a consensus with disscussion instead of a voting booth, I think the precedent is redundant now (I feel I can safely say no one here wants to prevent IPs and new users from partaking in disscussion). Of course, we still have the issue of people going "Support - name", but that's a different issue entirely. =) Sysop crown.svgTes FanSysop crown.svg 17:14, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
True, but now that it is a consensus, it would make no sense to deny new users the right to "vote", or really just add to the discussion.Yellow partyhat.png Ilyas Talk Contribs 17:46, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Right, that's the point I was getting at.
And as I said in my somewhat sesquipedalian speech, so far the rules and actions of most people do follow this ideal but a small minority spuriously claim that only some may participate (as seen in the above linked discussion) and so that's why I created this— to explcitate, that is make abundantly clear, that everyone may participate and that an opinion, good or bad, can't be thrown out due to arbitrary non-existant rules that throw good faith and the Socratic nature of Wikia out the window.--Diberville 17:53, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't think anyone is saying that only some may participate...I think we all agree that a valid point is valid no matter who said it. But the problem is that most of the new people "voting" don't even have a point! If I could think of the ideal (not saying it would be possible or practical) we would have a discussion where nobody really supported or opposed, but only said some valid premise with a link or two to prove its validity. If we could get to that point, signing comments wouldn't even mean anything...either the premise would be true or it wouldn't, end of story. Endasil (Talk) @  00:18, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I can tell you from discussions in IRC that at least two users are under the imprsession that IPs or new users are not allowed to participate in these discussions, valid point or not and that these are the rules despite all the contradictory evidence I showed them which is why I think it absolutely necessary to state that anyone can participate. As you can see in the discussion, one even restored the strikethrough "per policy" which doesn't exist anywhere but in the user's mind. And as an addendum in suport of your paragraph below this one, it is a sysop and crat's responsibility to look over a discussion to find a concensus or maintain the status quo in the case that one is not present; strikethroughs are unnecessary. If one believes they are required for the closing admin, then it means one of two things: either the sysoping of the admin was a mistake or more probably, the strikethrougher does not assume good faith in the ability of the crat or sysop. In either case, the person contributing to the discussion should not be punished because of the shortcomings showcased in others.--Diberville 00:50, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Anyway, at this point, I think we all agree that this wiki is NOT a democracy, and therefore newbie votes don't really have a theoretical affect. The only argument I've seen to strikethrough such votes is that it provides a visible note to any presiding 'crat or sysop. But, I think I've demonstrated we can achieve the same thing by objecting or adding comments to an invalid point, a sheep vote, etc. So is there any other reason that justifies removing a new user's intrinsic right to participate in these vital wiki discussions? Endasil (Talk) @  00:18, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. I'm not sure about using the word "objection" though - it's a bit over-formal and it's kind of confrontational as well. I think "comment" is more appropriate, and it avoids adding new 'special words' to the process. Pointy 00:34, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I think you've contradicted yourself here Endasil. Yeah, this isn't a democracy in the sense that we don't have to strictly count votes. But what is being suggested here is that new users do in fact have a voice... based on the quality of their argument. I know this is a bit much to ask from a bunch of fans of a game that is admittedly strongly biased toward the teen-age demographics (and asserted to be largely a pre-teen game by some harsh critics.... I don't want to flame this point any more), but maturity and an air of compromise is something that needs to be made in order to let the whole wiki concept work. Writing a massive document (you can call this wiki to be a player's handbook for Runescape) collaboratively is a very difficult task and can push differences to the front if you let them.
For myself, I find strikethroughs to be offensive and a deliberate attempt to squelch a conversation. If a decision has to be made and action taken (presumably by an administrator), the person taking the action can be expected to be intelligent enough to be able to discount votes on their own. Let the words written stand on their own. There are exceptions to this concept, but that should be an exception rather than the rule. --Robert Horning 12:37, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, where did I contradict myself? I've said that we're not a democracy, and that everyone should have the right to speak their piece. I've said that strikethroughs tend to remove a user's right to speech and that instead we should be simply responding to comments with no weight (Support Endasil he's my cousin) with deliberate rebuttals. If you're confused about the way I used "newbie vote", I meant that specifically to refer to the type of voting that's been happening on Chia's RFB--that is, a vote by a functionally inactive user with no useful argument--NOT to mean any comment left by a newbie. So, if that's not what you think is contradictory, please tell me what was. Endasil (Talk) @  21:42, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Though I expect this conversation to continue, based on the pre-existing rules, everything said here and on parts six, seven and eight of RuneScape:Gaming_the_system, I am immediately removing the strikes from the RfB since they are effectively currently breaking the rules and gaming the system right now even if we all immediately change out position on this issue. If you see anyone restoring the strikes, please revert and inform them of their mistake.--Diberville 21:27, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Asking for clarification The heading of this topic is clear in stating that AOTMs are part of what we are talking about, the discussion appears to have been predominately about RFAs and RFBs. I agree wholeheartedy that all should be allowed to participate in those discussions. But I also think that for AOTM the 50 minimum edits needed should remain for a vote to be cast.-- 18:35, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

To somewhat reiterate what I said above and what I noted in the AotM, the insertion of the "50 edits" in AotM was done by one person unilaterally by copying and pasting the rules from UotM without any discussion a long while ago and since we can support or oppose in AotM and not UotM, like RfAs, RfBs and VfDs, raw votes of support will not be the ultimate deciding factor when selecting the article. Moreover, you are an Anon IP; why should I deny you your right to voice your opinion in support or opposition of an aritcle simply because you did not create an account? Does that somehow undercut the quality of your argument or make your opinion worth less than mine? Does that seem right to you, especially considering the cornerstones of Wikia being the assumption of good faith and the equality of all editors?--Diberville 01:36, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
To stop sock puppets is the only reason I think we need the edit count. If someone with less than 50 wants to comment or discuss I do not say they can't have a valid arguement. I would just hate to see someone making a bunch of accounts just to get "their" article as AOTM.-- 01:45, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Well as has been noted several times above, it is the responsibility of the closing admin or crat to look not at the number of supports or opposes but at the quality or even the existence of the argument made. Also, if one AnonIP's single edit is a vote of support for someone's article or request for adminship, this would raise dubious questions as to the true nature of that particular AnonIP and others may raise the point that the voice of support or opposition is the first and only thing ever stated. If one dozen virgin AnonIPs happen to vote one way or another with no new substantive reason of why they voiced their opinion in such a way, these votes would be subsequentally ignored in the admin or crats search of a concensus.--Diberville 02:10, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

There have been some recent things that took my eye with Skill's RFB that I want to address. This has to do with some people assuming that the fruit of this discussion was that vandals or sockpuppets could vote. In my opinion, this discussion has agreed that because we are not voting per se, any member of the community should be allowed to voice their opinion. I do not see, however, where this should have any effect on the rights of a banned member. There are numerous problems with allowing input from banned users, these being two:

  • We are saying that it is perfectly acceptable for a user to create sockpuppets when they're banned to continue to try and be part of the community. I don't see any way that we should be allowing this.
  • Our decisions are made out of consensus, but consensus is about a general agreement between the members. Just like a shareholder from HSBC shouldn't be able to vote in consensus decisions in shareholder meetings at Citibank, neither should vandals (who are no longer part of the community) be able to voice their opinion on decisions which affect the community which they are no longer part of.

I think the bigger problem is coming from a misconception that some of you have with consensus. I believe some people think along these lines: "well, because we need consensus, everything is objective, and so only the argument matters, not who said it."" This is completely wrong!!! Consensus is in NO WAY objective, it is still, and should be, completely subjective! The role of argumentation in consensus decisions is to sway the opinion of dissenters when dissension occurs, however, it is perfectly possible for everyone to be at a valid consensus with no arguments given. When you're on a board of directors, and you have a consensus vote, you don't think they go around the table and make everyone justify their opinion, do you? No! it's only when they're at an impasse that arguments or debates are needed. Before replying to me, please read this: Wikipedia:Consensus. Endasil (Talk) @  13:33, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

In regards to your first point, I agree and part of that is my fault. I was in a bit of a rush and trying to do my daily patrols as quickly as possible so while going through the dozens tabs I had open, I saw a strike and removed it. The next day when I went back, I saw the person was another sockpuppet of a banned vandal, fortunately, someone had already restriked the vote but others may have seen my edit reason and believed then that even users who attempt to be detrimental to our community can also participate in it. As to your second point, I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that you think that the argument doesn't matter as much as who said it? Because though I agree with your larger point about not needing an argument or having to make sure everyone is in agreement for the right reasons if there's already a natural consensus but it is of paramount importance that when there is an impasse, the final consensus gets reached because of the more well-reasoned and persuasive arguments, not because "the important people" made them.--Diberville 16:13, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
No, take what I said for what you called the "larger point." My point is that consensus is not the same as a courtroom, and we are treating it like it is. We don't just form an argument, provide evidence, etc, and then let the judge/jury (a bureaucrat/sysop) make the decision based on the argument. Consensus is still subjective, in that you can have consensus if everyone agrees the same way.
If you put 12 Republicans in a room and tried to reach a consensus on the future of public health care, you could probably reach consensus without an enormous debate, whereas if you put 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats into the same room, some argument would be bound to take place before a consensus were reached. This is because Republicans are typically inclined to think in the same direction. They are subjectively similar.
So consensus is still dependent on who the people in the community are, and what their opinions are. Consensus can be reached without an argument, but argumentation will often be needed to reach consensus. What this means for us is this:
A vote from a banned user cannot keep us from reaching consensus. The community's consensus does not require the consent of someone who is not part of the community. Endasil (Talk) @  17:15, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Right, so... do you have a worry that people will argue to convince the closing admin rather than the community at large or is it something else? If so, I'm missing the sticking point you have.--Diberville 17:37, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
My original post was meant to get across two points:
  1. It's a misconception that consensus requires argumentation.
  2. Only members of the community may participate in discussions requiring community consensus. Thus, block evaders may not participate in community consensus discussions, because a "no" vote would imply the consensus hasn't yet been reached, when in fact within the community proper, it has.

Endasil (Talk) @  17:41, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

I see and I agree. We have achieved consensus!--Diberville 17:56, 1 June 2008 (UTC)