Forum:So really, what is consensus?
This issue has come up many times in the history of this wiki ever since we have had the system of consensus, and since I have been here there has never been a real definition of what it really is without dispute. When I first came to this wiki I was under the impression that consensus was a vote of everyone involved and you tallied the votes and whichever side had superior numbers leaning one way was awarded with the change/judgement. Since that time I have had the fact that consensus is not a straight vote thrown in my face so many times in different discussions that my participation in talks is starting to become less frequent. The reason because of this is that nobody on this wiki seems to have the same definition of what consensus really is and how in the end to reach a decision.
I have been browsing many websites the past few days and have noticed that they all define consensus one way:
Consensus is a process for group decision-making. It is a method by which an entire group of people can come to an agreement. The input and ideas of all participants are gathered and synthesized to arrive at a final decision acceptable to all. Through consensus, we are not only working to achieve better solutions, but also to promote the growth of community and trust.
Consensus evolved from the meeting process of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It is a non-violent way for people to relate to each other as and in a group. Successful use of a consensus process depends on people understanding the idea and wanting to use it.
The collegial process of arriving at a decision selecting one option from among many through a process of gathering relevant information, open discussion and resolution of major concerns connected with the preferred option. Consensus reaches a decision that all members are able to accept willingly and uphold sincerely.
In my opinion, our current decision making process seems to be more like a skewed democracy masquerading under the name consensus and needs to be changed.
I just want to make a couple of observations about our current procedure:
- 1. The "general agreement among the community" line which I have heard many many times seems to be taken directly from the wikipedia article about consensus. Not only is it a gross underestimation of how consensus really should be functioning, but that article does not cite any sources. And problematically enough it seems to be where 95% of our population is getting their information on consensus. .
- 2. It is very slow and drawn out.
- 3. It commonly yields no results after a heated debate or lack of activity.
- 4. The minority group which should have the power to be involved in the discussion and ultimately influence the outcome is ignored if there seems to be overwhelming support one direction.
- 5. We put too much emphasis on Support, Oppose, Support if..., and Oppose if... in discussions. If we are voting in any way, we should just vote on the issue and settle it, not mix consensus and votes.
Here is an example: Abolish the paper .
There was clearly a large number of people opposed to abolishing the paper and only four supporting it. Seems cut and dry right? Oh wait, what happened to consensus? Not only are we not supposed to count votes, but the fact that we are even recognizing that there is overwhelming support one way shows that we do not truly honor consensus in the first place. What is the limit for overturning a decision made with our decision making process? How many people needed to have supported the abolishment of the paper for the rest of the participants in the discussion to recognize it as a course of action? Whats even worse was that I was one of the people furiously supporting the abolishment of the paper and my consistent participation in the discussion was awarded with nothing. An admin forced the discussion closed by a certain date (which is ridiculous to me) and archived the page one that date regardless of activity.
Other examples of our process not reaching a decision, being fair, or not truly conforming to consensus: (these are just since the change to the forum format of the yew grove)
Call it a democracy because thats what it is.
Proposal - Formally change our decision making process to a democracy or reform our current consensus process to resemble an actual consensus based decision making body.
TEbuddy 18:14, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
comment I think a vote should be a last resort, only if consensus can not be reached, if we just have a straight democracy then things often don't get talked out.--Serenity1137 18:40, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
In the case of the newspaper, there were only two options: keep it or abolish it. We couldn't do both, so the only thing we could really do was "tally the votes" to come to a conclusion. As such, I have to agree that a democracy would be better suited for some, if not a majority, of decision-making processes. The purpose of a consensus, judging by the above definitions, is to satisfy everyone, which is difficult to do, especially on something with only two options to choose from. As of now, I support the proposal to change into a democracy, but I might change my mind based on what others contribute to the discussion.18:54, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Calling our decision process "consensus" is very misleading, I will admit (In the dictionary, Consenus = Everyone agrees, no matter what). It's not nessecarily a democracy, either (it's whatever has the most votes- if we adopted that, a 51-49 split out of 100 users would mean that the proposal would be accepted, but we don't do that here- it's more that we look at a certain percentage of people being in favour of one thing, somewhere around 75%-80%).
Neither are ideal. If we follow the meaning of consensus, we'll be fighting until the cows come home, since alot of people aren't prone to changing their opinions, and democracy has it's flaws, as well... especially when it's close, way too many people get "burned".
I think we need to come up with something more... definite. Unfortuently, at this time, I can't really think of anything. --19:01, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - Here is some essays/guidelines/policies I wish we had in this wiki. All are from Wikipedia, but they are well-written and is useful for informing users about consensus and the consensus-building process in a wiki.
- Consensus decision-making - best describes the entire process
- What is consensus?
- No consensus
- Silence and consensus
- Silence does not imply consent when drafting new policies
- Voting is not evil
- Polling is not a substitute for discussion
Please read through all of these pages before commenting further as changing our decision-making process is a serious matter.20:30, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Support - This has always been something that has bothered me. If far more people support something, why not go ahead with it? What we currently use to decide barely resembles consensus at all. ~ Sentry Telos Talk 21:27, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose democracy - Turning into a democracy isn't going to solve anything. We'll really be tallying votes if that happens. If 10 people wanted something to happen and 4 didn't but we were a democracy, how do you expect this "minority" group that you are mentioning to have any voice? What we need to do is come up with a clear definition of consensus. I agree that we have had problems with this in the past, so all we have to do is define it so there aren't any more problems like the ones we've faced. Oh, and since we're all linking to past discussions and essays, have a look at the outcome of this. Andrew talk 22:23, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
- I didn't list it because I wanted the minority to have a voice. If a system advertises a key advantage like that and then fails to provide it then something is wrong. I would prefer being outvoted then being led on and then silenced for no reason. TEbuddy 23:12, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose democracy one of the major issues is that the reasoning behind it. For example (this is just an example) Let's say a vandal from a year ago who has been banned wants to return. Some of the older wikians (who know the actions of what this vandal is capable of) would vote no, where many new wikians (who have no idea) may vote yes...not knowing, nor caring about the consequences. This vandal could also create socks easily to allow him/her to come back, hoping to outvote the no votes. Reason is what matters most, not the most votes. Because the wiki is open to everyone, everyone has a right for an opinion. If I wanted to ban TEbuddy because I don't like him, I could get my friends, or socks to vote to have him banned. If my votes outnumbered his..I win. Atlandy 23:31, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
- Assuming that we don't knowingly hunt sockpuppets down and allow voting on bans without proper cause, what your saying makes sense. Besides, what your saying is possible with any system. With the example I provided on the abolishing the paper discussion, there were still 4 active supporters, but because there was more opposition the discussion was locked and the decision was made. Your entire argument is based on one very specific circumstance. TEbuddy 23:54, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
- What is your consensus than for the newspaper article? And considering the direction the conversation was going, I placed the noticed of intent to close the discussion as fast as possible. As a consensus is: It is a non-violent way for people to relate to each other as and in a group. It wasn't really the most civil was it. You are right though, some things do need to be changed.
- Democracy will not work in many situations here on the wiki, not just my example. RFA's would be another. One person voting to approve an RFA so that they would receive an approval vote later down the line. With democracy, reasoning isn't needed also. A support or oppose vote would suffice. While i understand the frustration with some items not be closed as soon as you would like, many issues are not very cut and dry. For example, the paper. Some wanted to abolish the paper, but others didn't. Most wikians probably don't care either way (hence the no talking about it). I would hope that every major issue comes to a conclusion, but to change the whole way things work for closures sake is not the way to go. Atlandy 14:00, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
- So how exactly is what your describing different from the way things are now? You seem to be misunderstanding why I brought this issue forward in the first place. Its just for closure, or because I want my way, or whatever other reason anyone else wants to see. We dont accomplish anything, I would go as far as to say that 60% of our discussions in the yew grove lead to nothing. One of democracy's biggest advantages is that there is always a next step. In the case of few active participants in a discussion of a very specific issue, a change could actually be made after weeks of slow discussion instead of just going idle because no one knows how to proceed. Also, one thing that everyone who is not in favor of a democracy seems to think is that what is voted on is never going to be changed. We CAN change our votes, we CAN bring issues up again and again. Because our botched system is right now, switching to a democracy will get more accomplished and change virtually nothing else.
One thing I would also like to bring up is that few and far between are people willing to set aside their stubbornness and vote for something they don't agree with. Take for example this discussion now between you and I. I think you seem to be repeating the same thing everyone has been repeating for the past few months, its the same talk that has led to the crappy system we have now, and the same reason why if we don't get more supporters absolutely NOTHING will get done. No matter what I say your doing to disagree with me because what you think is the correct way to proceed. Where I am going with this is that because you and I are very zealous in our opinions, the fair way to settle the discussion is not draw it out for weeks and months until we change minute details and we both agree, its to take a vote and resolve the matter as efficiently as possible. TEbuddy 19:55, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
- However you and I both know that a vote with allowing just a yes or no answer to will not solve anything. While I understand that you want issues to "be resolved", many issues are fine the way it is. I have noticed that quite a few of your ideas have been outside the box, and I may not agree with all of them, however, using a straight up vote system may just put some bad policies into place. For example, let's say that you put forth that there should be no more admins or 'crats. Since the non-admins outweigh the admins, this may easily pass. Earlier you wanted to ban inactive admins, just for the reason so we don't have as many. Many wikians expressed their opinions and a consensus was not reached, therefore the policy stayed the same. Some discussions will never have a "clear" winner. Atlandy 22:43, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
- No, your assuming all the votes would be based around black or white reasoning. All of the circumstances you put forth against democracy are based on the fact that everyone is a mindless robot that votes the opposite of the proposition. For example, if a vote was put forth to banish administrators, a persons vote would rest on what they think of administrators and god knows what other factors. They would not vote to abolish administrators just because they are not one. TEbuddy 23:17, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose - Per RS:NOT. Our own policies say that we are not a democracy. We don't discriminate against people just becuase they do not support the majority. We reach a consensus, where everyone agrees with the proposal at some level. We should never have democracy. We are a community, and we decide as a community. Allowing something to pass just because a lot of people mindlessly typed in "support" is the worst possible solution. It is as simple as Quality over Quantaty. Doucher4000******r4000 02:53, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
- This is exactly the problem. First of all we got the way we are now by mindlessly repeating what you said above and thinking there is no problem. We do not commonly reach consensus on many matters. Besides, I and the other supporters in the paper thread didn't agree on any level seeing as how the choices were abolish or not. Thats just one example, take a look at some of the others I linked too, heck go to the archives and look yourself. It isn't exactly hard to find cases where we did not reach any decision fairly or equally as you so valiantly state. Also, a democracy is not just a big polling booth where the almighty tallies overrule everyone. Like the current process, votes can be changed, discussions had, compromises made. TEbuddy 04:33, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
- To be honest, the way we decide things now is fine. However, the way we currently decide things is NOT consensus. We should simply remove the democracy section from RS:NOT, and continue the way we do things. ~ Sentry Telos Talk 07:09, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose - To take the example of the abolishment of the newspaper, you are right, there was no consensus. The motion was put forward to abolish the newspaper and there was no consensus for that change. For a change to happen, people have to broadly agree with what is being said. If the vast majority of people do not agree with the proposal by vote, then the proposal must be modified until it is either agreed upon barring minor objections, or abandoned entirly. What we don't see much of around here is the modification of the proposal, so it seems like democracy in the end. For example, it could have been said that the editors of the newspaper could have 2 issues to improve the quality, and if they did not, then the newspaper would be abolished. Another suggestion could have been to change the format of the paper to remove problem areas. The original proposers should see that they are not getting consensus and draw a line under the previous votes, putting forward a new proposal addressing the comments made by those opposing. Hurston (T # C) 14:13, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose democracy - We really cannot go down the democracy route, per Atlandy's examples. Following from Hurston's example, I think the problem may lie with TEbuddy's point 2 -
Successful use of a consensus process depends on people understanding the idea and wanting to use it. The concept and implementation of consensus is poorly explained, if at all, in any policies/guidelines/whatever on the wiki. A significant proportion of users do not fully understand how consensus works, or how to determine it (including myself until this thread, those links are/were very useful). 18:51, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Alternative proposal to voting
Quoting from Wikipedia, there are several types of non-unanimous consensus which I would like to highlight:
In RuneScape Wiki, we have been practising a combination of different types of non-unanimous consensus systems. Examples include the RfA (70% support), RfB (80% support), and recently for not abolishing the newspaper (rough consensus).
There is clearly a confusion among users regarding consensus decision-making, as it has not been defined anywhere in this wiki what type of benchmark we use. The majority of decisions made here, in my opinion, are based on "rough consensus". Please correct me if I'm wrong.
The means to establish rough consensus was described by the IETF (1998) as follows:
Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process. IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although this is, of course, preferred. In general, the dominant view of the working group shall prevail. (However, it must be noted that "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement). Consensus can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course). Note that 51% of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is better than rough. It is up to the Chair to determine if rough consensus has been reached.
|— IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures Rough consensus|
However, the question of "how much is enough" is usually decided by the "Chair". Since in our case we don't have a Chair, an impartial admin or bureaucrat takes this role of deciding how much consensus is enough. Because "rough consensus" is decided by an individual, some may debate whether rough consensus can be determined by a single individual (i.e. the impartial admin/crat). This is the dilemma we face in our wiki.
Thus, we need to choose a single type of benchmark among those "non-unanimous consensus" benchmarks listed above. Unanimous consensus if out of the question, since unanimity is difficult to achieve, especially in large communities. So, please consider the options I have provided above, as I can't decide which is the best benchmark.
Then, we need to define clearly:
- "How much is enough" (70%? 80%? Minus one? Minus two? Minus three?)
- How long before a decision is made (1 week? 2 weeks? 1 month?)
- If the consensus was too close to call (i.e 51-49), what happens next?
- If there is no consensus, does the status quo prevail?
- Should an alternative proposal made by minority, in the event of no consensus?
- Who has the authority to decide whether the debate should be extended, or closed (the community, admin, or crat?)
If the answers to the questions is defined clearly in the consensus policy (RuneScape:Consensus), then we would not have problems in the future. 05:36, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I like the idea of consensus minus three. If more than three still disagree then we should look for ways to modify whatever until 3 or less are still in opposition. The modifications/amendments to proposals should begin immediately upon it becoming clear that there is no consensus as it stands, regardless of time passed. I also like a two week time frame at a minimum for major changes, to give ample time for all to consider the matter. If there is no more discussion after that time any crat or admin should close it, maybe with first a notice of intent with 3 days warning. --Degenret01 06:08, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
In answer to your questions, here are my preferences :
- 80%. There are far too many people here compared to a normal committee for minus one to three to be viable.
- Variable, depending on when activity quietens down.
- As consensus is needed for change, the boundary is per number 1. The person given in number 6 decides based on the arguments.
- Yes, as consensus is for change.
- If they wish yes. They should be able to modify their proposal at any time to address issues raised.
- Any admin/'crat who has not voted and is not seen as partisan on the issue in any way.
- That's pretty much what I think too. 11:18, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - Can someone put this discussion in sitenotice? I think a week and a half is plenty of time for people to have visited the newspaper. TEbuddy 18:22, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Support Hurston - I agree with the proposal by Az under the circumstances offered by Hurston. I have also put this in the sitenotice.
20:38, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Supporting Hurstons preferences22:04, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I Support Hurston With the added note that for number 1, we are not only too large a community for minus one to three to make sense, but too small. Some discussions have only 5 active participants. --Serenity1137 10:51, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - Seeing as most agree that discussions should have have a majority consensus declared at about 80%. I'd like to request that this is lowered to about 70% (which we use now) for RfAs. I personally feel that this number has served us particularly well and should remain a guideline to consensus in RfAs. I would also like the ability to decide an RfA not to be nailed down to an exact number as this may bind down a process that is more art than science.--
21:11, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
- Azaz, I will always support bcrats deciding RFAs on content vs numbers. Waaaaaaay too many "voters" pick the silliest effin reason to support or oppose, which as you well know does not serve the wiki in the slightest. If they would all take the time to read what admin is about it would be a lot smoother.--Degenret01 21:24, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
- That just gave me an idea... I'll make a separate Yew Grove forum on that... --— Enigma 13:22, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - If we are going to have a consensus based system and not a democracy, then the ability for the minority to block a vote or otherwise draw a discussion on until everyone reaches a compromise needs to be absolute. As said above some discussion only have about 5 participants. TEbuddy 21:28, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment I'd like to add to my above support that everyone mostly agreeing on a compromise should be made clear to be far more ideal than an 80% consensus. However in cases such as the newspaper where it was pretty much yes or no and niether side was shifting at all a full consensus is nigh on impossible and so shouldn't be asked for. --Serenity1137 23:01, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Support Azaz's ideas and Hurston's preferences - This would make community discussions that require voting much more swifter. Look at out consensus now, what are we going to do when this discussion ends? Count up all the votes and if theres more supports than opposes put it into action? When will it end? And I regard the title. The big question. This, this is our answer.If this method of consensus is chosen, and made into a policy, I believe there will never be a person to question our consensus. --— Enigma 13:22, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
comment - I still regard consensus by the number of supports vs. number of opposes as discriminatory to those who disagree. If everyone support something, but one person brings a valid point of why something cannot be passed, I don't think it should be passed. Doucher4000******r4000 14:45, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Suggestion - Elect an odd number of representatives (no more than five)each with notable skill in different fields. This will be the 'council' that will undertake all major decisions and the community as a whole trusts the council will act in the best interest of the community. No community votes would be called for any decision but the council may ask questions to obtain a feel for general opinion. The council may choose to vote amongst themselves where the majority vote wins. Any decision considered 'bad' by the community can be called to a vote by the community if the call-to-vote is proposed and then supported by at least five other users (ensures no senseless votes). The council must then accept the challenge and publicise the vote to all of the community and explain the exact details of why they made the 'bad' decision. The final majority, community, vote wins. - notable skills can be something along the lines of exemplary performance in moderating the wiki, well-known community figure for good leadership, excellent communication skills etc... - The council would rule absolutely but any council member could be voted out by the community (not the other councillors) - Councillors cannot directly call public votes against 'bad' decisions but they may support them - Also, maybe installing some actual forum software would be good? It's hard to understand this page. Pid18 17:12, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
- Strong Oppose - This be against the entire principle of RS:AEAE and the ethos of Wikia, everyone is equal, the community makes decision, nobody is better than anyone else. The wikia would then be democratic, as we would need to elect (vote for) the repesentitives. Karis Talk to me 18:14, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
- Fact - The discussion seems to have come about because the "principles and ethos of the Wikia" aren't holding up well under the community as decisions aren't being made properly. A consensus is just another form of democracy the only difference is people don't show their support by voting and you want everyone to agree on one course of action. It is a very rare occasion for an entire group of people to firmly agree on something so it would be better to not have this as a requirement to the decision making process. Those who disagree would then be able to petition but ultimately, no matter what process is chosen, it will always come down to "majority rule" with the minority being ignored. It's just how life works.( Pid18 20:06, 17 May 2009 (UTC) )
- But the way we are leaning everyone still has a say, they don't need for a "council" member to "poll" them. I respect your right to put forth ideas, but this idea would be horrible for the wiki. Everything must always stay in the open, and everyone gets a say on every matter. --22.214.171.124 23:16, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Support Azaz's Idea/Hurston's Suggestions Sorry, but I've seen discussions in the forums dragged out either beyond what is necessary or to the point where nerves were frayed. With a general idea of what consensus is, I feel that it will both save time in the long run, and prevent some 'future' problems. --Eternalseed 16:39, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Support - I support Hurston's modifications to Azaz's idea. Not all discussions can compromise and one person contrary to the others can potentially drag a decision out forever if it is a true consensus.02:01, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Support 70% Consensus - 80% would leave us with few proper decisions, so 70% is good, and minus 1 etc is just stupid. Nothing would ever pass.Contrary to what I said earlier.Joe Click Here for Awesomeness17:14, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - I think that a consensus is just like a group vote. So really, the idea kinda is dumb (No Offense). Democracy in a wiki would be an okay idea for a last resort, but maybe it won't. So, I suggest 40% democracy, and 60%consensus.19:32, 22 May 2009 (UTC)
- Could you please read the links above on what consensus is; a big group vote is democray, not consensus at all. 20:17, 22 May 2009 (UTC)
This idea is a bit more complex, and relies a lot on bureaucrats. It goes like this: We continue as we have done now, often having discussion, with our supports, opposes, comments and such. Bureaucrats monitor the situation until they feel discussion has generally slowed down and settled on one opinion, at which one bcrat will say on the page, "I believe that a consensus has settled on ______. Awaiting other bureaucrats' opinions", at which point other bureaucrats will either agree or disagree with the declaration. If more than 3/4ths of bcrats agree, the issue is said to have consensus for that opinion. If not, discussion keeps going.
If, after maybe one month, discussion is becoming unproductive, with people just repeating themselves (note this does not mean that discussion is still going, all it means is that discussion is becoming redundant) (Such as on this page) by a decision on 3/4ths of the bureaucrats, they may bring the issue to a vote, with only the editors actively involved in the discussion allowed to vote (to prevent the democracy issues); to do this, they will make a list of the active people involved, and post it on the top of the discussion page. The voting period should last for 1? week (shorter amount of time than discussion; these are just votes). Then, if 3/4ths of bureaucrats believe that there is at least a 70% (discuss this number) consensus to support, the issue is declared as "consensus" for support. If not, there is no consensus and nothing the policy pertains to will change.
There are some issues with very complex discussions, such as first choice, second choice, vote yes for this or no for that or that. If it comes to that, I would suggest that bureaucrats follow Wikipedia's arbitration model to sort out the issues and form a template for the users in the discussion to follow when inserting their opinions for a vote, if a vote needs to occur.
Of course, for this to work, we'll probably need more bureaucrats, and I understand this isn't the most desirable and straightforward solution, but, hey, it's an idea. Butterman62 (talk) 14:54, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
- Well, the problem is (per my reply to Tebuddy) that bureaucrats are generally entrusted with consensus-deciding, such as on RfAs, RfFs, RfBs, other discussion issues, etc. Butterman62 (talk) 22:33, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Oppose - Not to be one of the people I hate, but doesnt that blatantly vilate AEAE? Besides, that gives all decision making power to the crats or administrators. TEbuddy 19:30, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
- Well, if that is so, then giving admins the power to close VfDs and RfRs and bureaucrats the power to close RfAs is also a violation of AEAE (believe me, I don't like violating AEAE). The reason I chose bureaucrats is that we generally entrust them to know when a consensus is reached and how to reach it, as well as to be impartial and neutral (hence, they are chosen to decide RfAs, RfFs, RfBs, etc). I know this places a lot of trust into bureaucrats, but since nobody can really agree on how to decide consensus, this might be a good option. Butterman62 (talk) 22:34, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
- Considering the lack of 'crat we have, I think that option is too bias. It would restrict 'crats from offering an opinion if they had one because of their position they would be forced in neutrality. There are alternative methods.
Support, if sysops can be substituted for 'crats - This would mean that majority wins, but random people who have made accounts simply to vote cannot join in. This would do well, if we can use sysops too. ~ Sentry Telos Talk 21:26, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
- Per above, the problem I see is that we would have to redefine the role of a sysop. We do not elect sysops to be good judges of consensus; we choose them to be trusted with tools to keep the wiki clean. I will not mention names, but I feel that some admins, while they are excellent users of admin tools and are excellent editors, would not be the best judges of consensus. However, we do trust bureaucrats to determine whether consensus has been formed. Butterman62 (talk) 21:46, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Final steps: Drafting the policy
I have drafted the Consensus policy, based on Hurston's suggestions and Azaz's ideas. I've ignored some of the other suggestions as they were not well accepted by the community. This policy is quite long and comprehensive, so I urge all of you to read the policy carefully. Some of the items within the policy may not be agreeable to some, but hopefully we can come to general agreement for the good of the wiki.
To move forward with this discussion and expedite the decision-making process, I've set the deadline for the policy to be finalised within 2 weeks (by 11 June 2009). I had to resort to a deadline as this is an important policy, and do not wish it to remain as a draft.
I appeal to all users to read through the policy and discuss it. Any suggestions, additions, omissions, and amendments are welcome, as long as it is for the good of the wiki.15:20, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Support with Comments - It looks good. I'm happy with the 70% stated there tbh, and it is all well explained. There is one section that I'm not sure about though, which, appropriately enough, is titled 'Dissent'. The Stand Aside part is slightly confusing, and probably not necessary. In a room with other people where you expected to vote, that may mean something, but on a wiki, that is probably best served by silence. I'm also not too sure about the 'crat override, but I'll see what everyone else says before I make up my mind. Well done for sorting all that out Az. Hurston (T # C) 16:13, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Comments and suggestions - Here is my rough list of things I think need changing after a read through:
- Big words are nice, but when you are trying to convey a message this large to our large of a community, simple is better. I noticed a couple of sentences that lost their meaning or were downright confusing by the time I got to the end of the sentence. I also had to google "onus".
- Add a "this page in a nutshell" template or whatever we use to sum up a page in a sentence or two.
- Introduction paragraph is confusing. If I were new (or 12 years old) I would not know what Consensus is after reading it.
- Under objectives, inclusive and participatory are listed. They are essentially the same thing. Both require as many editors be welcomed and active in any given decision.
- The dissent section sounds a overly official and sort of confusing. I think you would get better results if you keep the language as simple as possible and refer to your new stances as the ol' support/oppose/comment/nuetral/whatever. For example, keep them with the names and descriptions you have listed but equate them with use of support/oppose etc.
- That crat thing needs to go, last I checked they were not supreme rulers and should not have the ability to do anything like blocking a major decision already being reached through consensus. We are provided with the means to change anything about this wiki and ignore all rules, who are the crats (one in particular) to say otherwise?
- The 70% thing also is not something I like. You say earlier that 51% in a voting environment would not be satisfactory, so 20% more makes it satisfactory? We are preaching about making the minority happy and giving everyone a fair chance to have their say and influence policy. I think we have about 300'ish active editors, and if 30% oppose a motion and 70% support it, especially on a major issue, your going to have 90 irritated people when there didnt have to be any.
I will read through later and think some more and see if I can come up with more/make changes. TEbuddy 17:23, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
- Tebuddy, remember that you are the only one reading the policy. If you do not agree with certain issues, you shouldn't just delete entire paragraphs and say that the community should be happy with it. I've re-added the statement about 70% support because we have come to the conclusion earlier (see above) that a 70% support level would work, and people supported it. As for the voting section, I think people should know why voting is bad in communities. We have already agreed that we are not a democracy, so these statements on why voting is bad should stay.
- If you wish to omit paragraphs/statements/sections, try using the strikethrough feature (strikethrough), as this is what we commonly do in discussions. Once the policy is finalised, then we can remove them. 05:14, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
- I did not just comb through and delete anything that did not please me. I deleted the part about voting because its a policy and is used to state policy. We dont drone on in other policies about why we chose the method mentioned in the policy. We dont use votes, that is the policy, that is it. I also did not delete random tidbits because I did not like them, everything was removed/changed based on my interpretation of the current discussion, which is what the entire process is about. I have never before seen a project page undergoing changes go through strikeout until the proposed change is approved, doing so is very slow and confusing. Lastly, douchers statement was made way earlier before I made my changes this afternoon and he was referring to something else. I recognize you probably spent several hours writing this draft and are very proud of it, but I dont want to have to jump through hoops to get something done when I can just make changes and move on to the next step. If you disagree with something I did, revert it, and let that be the end of it. TEbuddy 07:37, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
- Since this policy is about how we make decisions, everything has been as transparent and comprehensive as possible. People need to know why they can't simply vote, and why they have to go through the process of discussions and consensus decision-making. I felt this was important, and I still do. 08:12, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment - I assume that it has to be at least 70% Support to come to a consensus? I never saw it anywhere... And what about time span requirements after a consensus has been reached to re-open the discussion? Last but opposite of least, it doesn't convey the "quality over quantity" idea strongly enough. What if everyone supports a suggestion, but one person finds a policy that the suggestion would be violating? I also agree with TEbuddy that the discussion has to go on until everyone agrees to the proposal on at least some basic level, AKA a compromise. Doucher4000******r4000 20:34, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
- Reply: You never saw the "At least 70% support" statement anywhere, because it was removed prematurely. The "at least 70% Support" statement is located at the "Rough consensus" section.
- The problem with everyone agreeing on something, especially in wikis, is that nothing gets done and the discussions would go on forever. If one person finds a policy that violates the proposal, the person should bring it up at the beginning of the discussion, not when everyone has already reached consensus. In addition, the dissenter should come up with an alternative proposal. Without an alternative, the original proposal would still remain the best solution to move forward.
- However, the dissenter may extend/prolong the discussions as long as there are others who agree on the issue brought up by the person. If the discussions end, and there is consensus to proceed with the proposal, the views of the minority should be ignored.
- This is what rough consensus is about. "IETF consensus (rough consensus) does not require that all participants agree." A pure consensus decision-making process, where everyone agrees on something, will definitely not work in wikis. Some editors will always disagree on the issue, especially if the issue is controversial. But, for the good of the wiki and the community, these dissenting minority should "stand aside" and allow the proposal to go through. At least, this is my opinion. 05:14, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Implement New Policy - I like it. It's very well written, but I do agree with Doucher, it does need to be re-worded in laymen terms as
the English is rather post-secondary. Most users wishing to participate in discussion would want to know how, and reading this as is I think will just confuse them to the point that they don't know what to write with regards to following the proposal most likely not writing anything at all. I'd like to remove the part too about the 'crats, and I'm glad you included the Canvassing part. I totally agree with that.
04:08, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Support - Simplify the language for younger users and remove the 'crat discussion blocking part and this policy is ready to go.--
04:52, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Excellent work Az. As others have already stated the part about crats being able to over ride should go, but I recognize you did an awful lot of work on that. You are to be commended.--Degenret01 06:22, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Very nice. Looks good, just the changes the others above have said. Good job.10:15, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
I essentially agree with the above comments, the 70% thing under rough consensus should be more specifically not ideal, a simpler version for new or young editors would be nice, and the thing with the having overriding powers should go or be more explicit about the circumstances in which it is allowed (maybe if there is a completely inappropriate discussion crats should be allowed to stop it from carrying on) --Serenity1137 13:04, 29 May 2009 (UTC) p.s. nice job overall
Wow, amazing. Thanks Az. :) Although, one thing that should be cleared up is the "Not the king" section, as it is rather ambiguous. It first talks about how something may not be "acceptable", and then talks about dangers of not implementing it. I'm not sure what the thing is even trying to say, so perhaps it should be clarified. Butterman62 (talk) 00:55, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
- "Not the king" section has been renamed to "Not a walled section". I've revised the section a little. 05:14, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
"and, worse still, the best way to really be rid of a vote is to have another vote against it." - be rid of a vote? If that isn't a spelling error can someone explain what that means? 01:25, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
- Its funny how this situation presented itself, one of my main arguments for switching to a democracy was that decisions get made quickly and efficiently. Here we are three weeks later with no responses and a proposal still awaiting approval. But to answer your question, no I don't think we have reached consensus. We have only had about half of page of replies, and half of those were just responses to other people. Silence does not equal consensus. TEbuddy 19
- 44, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
- action speaks louder than words. Do something about it.
- Follow your own advice? My grievances and comments have already been voiced and taken care of. TEbuddy 04:38, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Finally, do we have consensus for this new consensus?
Support - I like.
Support - This should make our community processes more efficient.--
02:12, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Support - While I support the proposal, it seems we are no better off and have stooped down to voting on whether a decision has been made once again. TEbuddy 04:40, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
- This is not a vote. See above. 12:19, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Support - I support the new proposal and sometimes we just have to do what works.07:17, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Comment - Are we obeying consensus as per new policy, democracy or 'old consensus' for this consensus? ;) King Runite1 11:20, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Request for closure - There is an issue that has not addressed. "Keep the language as simple as possible." If anyone is interested in doing this, I'm suggesting that a "Summary" section in added at the end of the policy, summarising the key points within the policy into several sentences in bullet form.
On than that, there is general agreement that the policy is acceptable. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) We need an impartial admin or bureaucrat to decide on this. I cannot do this myself, since I was the one who proposed and drafted the policy.
The dateline set earlier (11 June) has passed, and in my opinion, there is general consensus. Thus, I request closure. Once this discussion is closed, the consensus policy will officially come into effect.12:19, 14 June 2009 (UTC)