Today I took the opportunity of an interview on IRC, organised by The
Signpost, to ask Jimbo about userboxes:
:Feb 15 16:53:49 Ral315 Tony_Sidaway asks: "In the past six weeks
the number of userboxes on English Wikipedia has risen from 3500 to
6000 and, despite your appeals for restraint, the number pertaining to
political beliefs has risen from 45 to 150. Can the problem of
unsuitable userboxes still be resolved by debate?"
:Feb 15 17:11:57 jwales eh
:Feb 15 17:11:59 jwales userboxes
:Feb 15 17:12:00 jwales eh
:Feb 15 17:12:40 jwales I'm looking at the political beliefs one now.
:Feb 15 17:13:50 jwales My only comment on the userbox situation is
that the current situation is not acceptable.
By which I take it that something must change, one way or the other.
Those figures are from the database, by the way. I took measurements
of numbers on January 4 and on February 14. During January,, about
2000 new userboxes were created, but the rate has slowed and now in
the first two weeks of February we have only seen about 600.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the concept of "grandfathering",
asking people who didn't want to get rid of their userboxes to use the
"subst" command on the templates in their user page. This is good for
the user because, if he really wants to keep the userbox, it protects
him from the effects of deletion and editing. It's also more
wikilike because it gives him the opportunity to alter the text a bit
to say a bit more about his own precise views instead of just some
Well the good news is that someone is going around doing just that.
He follows after template deletions and inserts the code of the
deleted template into user pages. This reduces the backlash effect
and enables really unsuitable templates to become, perhaps acceptable,
items on a userpage, while the template source is delete.