On Wed, 18 Apr 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
Let me get
this straight. You are arguing "It is okay to for Jimbo to tell
the company something which contradicts policy because it's more likely
the company will understand the non-policy than the actual policy".
guideline is not an official policy. That is the kind of
distinction lost on many people, it seems.
It's true that in some technical sense the COI isn't a policy either, but
that's hairsplitting. If you're going to point to something and say "these
are the rules", it would be the COI guideline, not Jimbo's pronouncements.
People get blocked or banned because of violating COI, and disputes are
settled by pointing to COI. The one that behaves like a policy and which
Wikipedians are required to treat as a policy is the COI guideline, not
Jimbo's pronouncements. Having Jimbo tell people something that
contradicts COI and then claiming "sure, Jimbo doesn't make policy, but
COI isn't policy either" is disingenuous.
counter-argument runs like this: we showed your guideline to our legal
department, and we are told it doesn't say that. To which the answer is:
show legal documents to your legal department, and you'll get good sense.
Show documents drafted by our community, who aren't lawyers, to your legal
department, and you'll get crud. We know what to make of wikilawyers. If we
make it quite clear to ordinary folk what we really mean, and you go after
weaknesses in the drafting by calling in your hired legal guns who are paid
infinitely more an hour than our volunteers, just to prove we don't know
what we are saying, then you are not respecting us, are you?
We're not talking about some genuinely arcane thing like the definition of
some term using a zillion clauses. We're talking about a case where
(regardless of any internal Wikipedia hierarchy which says that guidelines
aren't true policies) the policy says "you can do it" and Jimbo says
can't". It doesn't take a legal department or even Wikilawyering to see the
contradiction in that.
To any normal
person, this is simply a case of Wikipedia contradicting
itself. The fact that it's not because Jimbo doesn't make policy is a
piece of Wiki-arcana that the outsider really can't be expected to
understand. The fact that we're deliberately trying to get the people to
listen to Jimbo and ignore the actual policy just makes it worse.
See above. Jimbo
can leverage his celebrity status to communicate to
people who only read business magazines and books. The fact is that there
is a published literature on Wikipedia, and people who really have an
interest in the site can read that, not the five-second version.
So we have someone who does read it and says "wait a minute, that's a
And I've been somewhat familiar with Wikipedia policies for a long time and
I *still* can't figure this out, so it's not true that anyone with an
interest can figure it out. The best I can come up with is "ignore Jimbo",
but that is clearly not what you think the answer is.