User:Azaz129/Defining administrators 2010/Role of consensus determination

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This sub-page will be used for discussion of the role of consensus determination in relation to administrators.


Consensus is the way that most, if not all, of the wiki's major changes are achieved. Administrators have an important role in choosing which path to take, by determining who has the better arguments and what would be best for the greater community.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

All opinions are to be heard[edit | edit source]

Every editor, viewer or user has the right to voice their opinion on the RuneScape Wiki. Although you or someone else may think it is absolute garbage or should just be stricken through, that is only your personal opinion. When administrators are determining consensus, they should keep a neutral mindset and look at all comments. Although, if someone's arguments are fairly poor, and/or many users disagree (and have provided reasoning to why they disagree), then a comment should usually be given less weight in a discussion.

Counting votes or counting arguments?[edit | edit source]

A common mistake inexperienced editors make is that we are a democracy, and do count votes. It is in no way a stupid mistake; even experienced editors and administrators such as myself make such errors. But it is integral we do not just count the votes of the majority, and decide fairly which side had the better arguments and which side had more arguments (not votes). Although the number of supporters/opposers should have a slight effect on the final decision, such as a situation where there is 95% opposition and little support. But it should not be the sole decider of which path to take. It is also important to note that an argument isn't necessarily a long support or oppose vote. There could be an extremely good point in a one-sentence comment.

So, what will it be?[edit | edit source]

After all the calculations and consideration, there needs to be a final decision. Usually the best decision to make is the one that makes the least amount of people unhappy. This doesn't mean the number of opposers, but the arguments which state why it will make people unhappy. If there is major differing arguments and division among the users who have commented on the discussion, and they haven't really responded to each others' comments and come to an agreement, then it may end with no consensus. With this decision, everything is kept/changed to the status quo before the discussion. The community should always try to avoid such a decision, and try to come to a mutual agreement, so both sides are moderately happy. Putting everything that has been discussed above together, the neutral closing administrator should be able to make a fair and appropriate decision that is both the best for the community and wiki. Sometimes it is best to seek a second opinion, to see if they agree, although being bold and using common sense usually means the administrator can individually make a decision for the good of the wiki!

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Comment - Soooo, what does everyone think? Don't answer that until Azaz opens this. Smile Cheers, Chicken7 >talk 12:18, July 21, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - I dislike the statement "All opinions are equal" we already went over that on Forum:AEAE I believe and it was pretty nasty. The section itself isn't bad, but I hate all the equal stuff going around. Other than that...closing sysops are not always neutral, but I'll leave that up to you. Other than that it looks pretty nice. HaloTalk 12:59, July 23, 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. I changed the first section's header from All Opinions Are Equal to All opinions are to be heard. I guess it was bad wording. Closing administrators are not always neutral; it is true. Hopefully our admin team can use some common sense, and know when they're not neutral. If an admin believes they may not be neutral, they should seek the opinion of someone else, or leave it to them. Do you think we need a policy or criteria to be neutral, such as the number of times the admin has posted in the thread, or if s/he has supported/opposed? Or do you think trusting our admins and hoping they will use common sense will work? Cheers, Chicken7 >talk 01:16, July 24, 2010 (UTC)

Avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest - I trust most of our admins to fairly judge the arguments in a discussion even when they have been involved. But it is a fact that even the appearance of non-impartiality can have negative affects on an otherwise legitimate discussion and conclusion. While some of our discussions are fairly light and simple, we know all too well of the other ones that are the center of much debate and heated discussion. It would be smart of our admins to not close those discussions that are the center of much controversy if they played a major role in the discussion. We should recognize that if we weigh the arguments properly, any admin will draw the same conclusion as any other.--Degenret01 16:28, July 24, 2010 (UTC)

Counting votes is far more important them this makes it seem - Most arguments are good, and most debates can be seen from both sides. Having arguments be the primary deciding factor isn't good IMO. Arguments that make since to me may not make since to other users, and vice versa meaning that consistency would be nonexistent. Very few discussions are black and white, and theres always at least one good argument on each side.

Third age robe top.png 3rd age farcaster Third age ranger body.png

17:36, July 27, 2010 (UTC)

The onus is on the supporters, not the opposition - Here is a portion of my post on the Resolving Disputes discussion by Psycho:

In that section, you claimed that administrators should try to work out compromises so that no one gets what he or she wants, but no one is at a total loss. I disagree. The way that the consensus system (as well as any non-authoritarian form of government) is set up is that the supporters of change must have a bigger challenge than the supporters of the status quo. In this case, if the proponents of a wiki policy or change must muster up a consensus large enough to pass a certain threshold, probably around 70%. On the other hand, the opponents of the proposal must prevent the proponents from getting that rough consensus, in effect only about 30% of the opinion. Does that seem fair? No, it's not fair, and it's not meant to be. That is the way that government is set up, and when its about 50-50 even, the opponents have met their goal, and when the debate is raging on pointlessly, when closing it, the opposition has won.

If you don't believe me, take a look at an example in the real world--the US government. Supporters of a bill must push it, with majority votes, through a House subcommittee, a House committee, and the full House on one side, as well as through a Senate subcommittee, a Senate committee, and the full Senate on the other side. If the two houses pass different versions, then it has to be pushed through a compromise committee also. Then, the bill must also be signed by the president. Each of the legislative steps requires a majority vote, and can be held up by the Senate or House leadership if it refuses to advance the bill further. In practice, the job is even more complicated in the Senate, where the bill may be filibustered and a working 60% majority is needed to get anything done. On the other hand, the opposition to the bill needs only to stop it at one of the points along this path. Any will do. 41 votes in the Senate (41% minority) is sufficient to stop a bill. If the president refuses to sign, then a 34% minority in either house is sufficient to stop the bill (on account of a failure to override a presidential veto). The proponents have to get it through each and every one of those points. It's not fair, but it's the way the system is set up. This is just like the consensus system here in the wiki.

That is the system that is put in place as a safeguard to ensure that change is not forced upon an unwilling community. It makes sure that any policy or proposal has the support of a large portion of the interested community. This way, we are not forcing half of the wiki to bear the brunt of a change that they hate.

— Me

Like I said before, the consensus system places a much greater burden on the supporters than on the opposition. Thus, we are not looking for the solution that makes the least number of people happy, we are looking for the solution that has the greatest amount of support. Generally, few discussions border on the rough consensus threshold, but that is the threshold that the supporters must pass. --LiquidTalk 01:47, July 29, 2010 (UTC)

Counting votes, counting consensus. Votes are easy, but consensus is subjective. And the status quo is always hard to defeat, I guess it's written into human nature. 222 talk 10:39, July 29, 2010 (UTC)

IDk if this is the place to bring this up, but i don't like the concesus system much. I see no problems with a polling system, it would be more consistant, as with concensus some admins will close it and say passed when others wont, at times leaving a big gray area where it could pass or it could not. A polling system would fix this. 15:03, July 29, 2010 (UTC)
I agree that consensus doesn't work well. In the end, it does come down to an administrator's discretion. But polling would only be worse. It could be worked around by having multiple accounts, or asking your friends who truly don't care to vote your way. At least with arguments, we can see the goods and bads, and then the admin can hopefully make the right choice. Chicken7 >talk 07:36, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
Yeh, what he said. 222 talk 07:37, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
The problem with being a simple counting of votes is that the majority is not always right, and is often ignorant of the implications of what they're doing. Take, for example, RuneScape:WikiGuild/Proposals/Project Myface. It got a lot of support from people who, quite frankly, had no idea what a WikiGuild was for, or that the project being proposed was a duplicate of the image maintenance project. The posts prove it, people said that the image maintenance's projects goal was putting templates on the images, which was not true. In this case, the majority was wrong, and simply counting the votes was not a viable option. kitty.pngPsycho Robot talkSilver bar.png 07:48, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
But do we not decide by majority "vote"? Look at f-images, look at delisting, look at yew grove, all those go by majority rule. Yes, its not simply 51% wins instantly, but i have never seen proposal gets 80%+ support and not pass. I would prefer a combination of arguements and votes- we argue it out and then when we feel both sides points are clear and then we vote, and if a side can get 60-80+% support it goes threw. If not we aether close with no agreement or go back to arguing. . I would hope this would avoid the multiple accounts/friends problem, as well as make it more clear what exactly is needed to pass. 09:56, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
But polling wouldn't have worked somewhere like here, there were more opposer's than supporters but with consensus this passed, because of all the reasons that the user provident. Hunter cape (t).png Sentra246Blue hallowe'en mask.png 10:21, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
Here we have of examples of that stupid grey area, it's all subjective. But yes, superior reasoning should always defeat votes (even there there's a grey spot Concerned). Just my short rant on grey areas and how the world would be so much simpler if things were all black and white. *rages* 222 talk 10:36, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
But can you define superior reasoning? Things make since to me that don't make since to you, and vice versa. Again, we are leaving it up to the admin that closes the discussion. 11:48, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
That's exactly what I was raging on about. Everything is subjective! Usually the admin only closes when it's distinctly pointing in one direction, but hey, we've had a lot of arguments over whether it really was consensus. *more raging* 222 talk 00:22, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
You must also consider exactly a support/oppose vote means. When someone opposes an idea, its usually not out of complete disapproval of the idea, but a particular aspect of it, like the implementation. There's often a way to address the concern of the opposition without completely scrapping the idea. Thus an idea which gets low support in terms of votes, say 30%, can still pass if the 70% of the opposition was concerned about one particular part of the proposal, which can be removed. kitty.pngPsycho Robot talkSilver bar.png 22:41, July 30, 2010 (UTC)
Hear, hear. 222 talk 00:23, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
I agree, Psycho. It'd be good if the people actually had a Conditional Support/Neutral and suggested changes to the proposal. Instead of bluntly opposing everything. We'd never get anywhere if everyone did that. Chicken7 >talk 03:47, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
Continuing on my "hear, hear": Very often people just place a blanket oppose and often, when an admin tries to find a consensus, they can't give it approval because the opposers did not specify what they oppose. A blanket support is usually not as bad, however. 222 talk 04:47, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
Well with a support vote, the conditions of the support are implied, they support all aspects of the proposal. But an unspecified oppose vote cannot be in such a way inferred. For example if someone proposed a way to reduce the amount of maintenance edits, and someone opposed, its certain that they are not opposing reducing maintenance edits, but a part of the idea. However if they don't specify, it hurts the validity of their opinion, simply because they have only offered a fragment of one. kitty.pngPsycho Robot talkSilver bar.png 21:28, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
Some people may give blanket opposes, and if an oppose is given without specifying which part of the proposal is opposed, it should be treated as if the user is opposing the entire proposal. --LiquidTalk 21:33, July 31, 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure about that. On one hand, its true that we shouldn't ignore an opposition by guessing about their intention, but the reason for opposition is the most important part of it, and if they do provide a reason, then that reason can be addressed and their oppose could theoretically at least, be treated as a conditional support. kitty.pngPsycho Robot talkSilver bar.png 23:18, August 1, 2010 (UTC)