RuneScape:Procedure isn't everything

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This page is an essay.
It contains the advice and/or opinions of RuneScape Wiki editors. It is not a policy, and editors are not obliged to follow it.
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This page in a nutshell:
Don't focus so much on procedure and bureaucracy that nothing actually gets done.

On a wiki governed by the community that edits it, there is a certain need for clearly defined rules and policies in order to keep things running smoothly. If nobody followed the rules that the community set down and upheld, the wiki could not function efficiently. However, on the other end of the scale is a situation wherein every comment, decision, or change, no matter how insignificant, is subjected to endless scrutiny and examination by other users. Everyone becomes so wrapped up in minor procedural details that little actually gets done on the wiki. Tasks that ought to be simple are complicated by seemingly unnecessary and arbitrarily chosen steps. This is called being unnecessarily bureaucratic, and it is something that should be avoided in discussions.

Minor details are minor for a reason[edit source]

When interpreting a rule or policy, the intended spirit of that rule or policy should take precedence over its phrasing. Because not every rule and policy was written by contributors with law degrees, they are not perfect, and their phrasings could certainly leave room for interpretation. Arguing over a minor technicality of a rule or policy is counterproductive, as it disrupts what is otherwise legitimate discussion; it is also an example of gaming the system.

Trust your peers[edit source]

Another example of unnecessary bureaucracy is excessive oversight over the decisions and actions of others. For example, consider a hypothetical proposal requiring that ranked users in the clan chat collectively keep a public log of who they kicked, when, and for what reasons, with added screenshots, with all entries to be added within fifteen minutes of the kicking. The proposal was swiftly made following a heated argument over a certain ranked user, and certain controversial ways in which they used their powers. The heavy requirements are in place to provide "transparency and accountability" to ranked clan chat users, and to ensure that no ranked users are abusing their powers. However, instead of keeping the ranked users honest, it would only impair their ability to enforce the rules. It would be a large waste of time, the limited benefits of which would be far outweighed by the work required to maintain it. It is a good example of what could possibly be a decent idea (a log of clan chat kicks similar to the wiki's block log) completely ruined by the perceived need to keep tabs on every authoritative action taken by a ranked user.

In the case of users who have been given positions of responsibility (including wiki administrators, ranked clan chat users, and IRC operators), remember that part of the process for acquiring those positions is for others to publicly assess the trustworthiness of candidates. They were determined to be worthy of their position at that time, and unless presented with evidence to the contrary, they should still be trusted to perform their duties responsibly. All in all, assume good faith in your fellow editors.

Avoid strict or arbitrary definitions[edit source]

When proposing or amending a policy, avoid the use of terms or definitions that must be strictly adhered to, when it doesn't make sense to do so. For example, a hypothetical proposal could attempt to limit the number of messages a bot may send to the wiki's IRC channel in order to avoid spam; the original proposer could suggest 30 messages per hour. The limit sounds alright on its own, but strict enforcement could lead to abuse. A user may claim that their bot is not spamming the channel because it only sent 29 messages in the past hour. Use common sense when dealing with situations like this, and again, remember the spirit of the limit rather than its implementation.