[Foundation-l] #wikipedia changes

Gurch matthew.britton at btinternet.com
Sat Jun 16 19:43:33 UTC 2007

Needed? Yeah... like hell they are.

By "pretty quickly" they literally meant in the space of a few minutes, 
with precisely zero consultation with anyone who actually uses the 
channel. Yes, there was a page of guidelines on Meta, but those 
guidelines have magically morphed into an unbreakable policy that 
doesn't actually match what's written on that page at all.

Sean has casually neglected to mention that "off-topic" discussion is no 
longer permitted in the channel. And by that I literally mean that 
entering the channel and sending one-line greetings to a couple of users 
will get you told, in-channel and via a bombardment of PMs, to stop 
talking off-topic.

Off-topic chat prohibited I could perhaps understand. But it doesn't 
stop there. Discussion of the individual projects is no longer permitted 
either; all discussion of the English Wikipedia has to go to 
#wikipedia-en. You can't even discuss the channel itself - no, that has 
to go to #wikimedia-irc. So that everyone's complaints can be 
conveniently ignored.

Mark seemed to want to turn it into a help channel for new users. 
Ignoring the fact that we already have (or had) two of those, what good 
is a help channel with nobody in it? In the past, users seeking help 
have usually recieved a reply - or several - within seconds. I have 
responded to hundreds of such queries - but it's not the reason I used 
the channel.

I never did get round to asking what I *could* discuss; I gave up when I 
realized the instructions barked at me in-channel and through PMs were 
in complete contradiction with everything Mark said when I spoke to him 
earlier, which in turn contradicted what Sean said when I spoke to him 
earlier, which in turn contradicted what I was told in-channel earlier.

A new set of guidlines is fine, but this situation is not. Guidelines 
should be just that - for guidance purposes - and more importantly, 
there should not be any pretence that contributors' wishes are being 
accommodated when they are not.

The English Wikipedia project mailing list long ago became unbearable as 
a method of communication and discussion. If the new-found rulers of the 
IRC channels want to kill them off as well, in the name of keeping all 
conversation on the wiki where it can be watched, then that's fine. But 
don't try to claim that it is an improvement.


FloNight wrote:
> Thank you Sean, Mark, and Dmcdevit for shepherding these changes. I
> definitely think they are needed.
> Sydney aka FloNight
> On 6/16/07, Sean Whitton <sean at silentflame.com> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> I am writing to introduce a number of changes to #wikipedia. The aim
>> of this is to improve the channel's image and to make it more useful
>> for everyone. The changes are being initiated this afternoon (GMT) and
>> I hope to have them done pretty quickly.
>> 1: New contacts
>> The channel will now be managed by Mark_Ryan and Dmcdevit (their IRC
>> nicks, as most of us probably know them). At the moment it's pretty ad
>> hoc and so we (the [[m:IRC Group Contacts]]) that it might be a good
>> idea to put someone and a deputy very clearly with the responsibility
>> so that we don't get "who do I go to for this...?" with the response
>> "not me" from everyone, a common online scenario, or so I've observed.
>> 2: New guidelines/rules
>> Together with some community input (although of course more is
>> welcomed - it's a wiki, so let's take advantage of that) we have
>> written some new guidelines for user and operator conduct at
>> <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IRC_guidelines/wikipedia>. These are a
>> lot more enforcable than the old ones. The key thing is that operators
>> will try and resolve issues with words rather than powers whenever
>> possible.
>> 3: New operators
>> We realised that the op list was becoming a bit messy. Additionally,
>> we're not sure that all operators are in agreement on the above
>> guidelines. We decided that it would be a bit pointless to ask them to
>> enforce guidelines they didn't support and do so using methods they
>> preferred not to use and so we have opted to clear out the access list
>> and start afresh. We welcome new applications from our experienced
>> operators to rejoin the team. On this note we are going to be a little
>> more formal on application for this, as only the contacts named above
>> will have the authority to manage the ops team. The key thing with all
>> these changes is to make #wikimedia-ops more useful, and to ensure
>> that operators use words rather than technological 'force' wherever
>> possible (as a rule of thumb, in the majority of cases where their
>> intervention is required). We aim to keep a list on meta of these ops
>> too to make it easier for people to get in touch with them.
>> You may be wondering if this applies to places other than #wikipedia:
>> not now, but we are considering rolling it out elsewhere if it proves
>> a success. Stay tuned!
>> Thank you for your support.
>> Yours,
>> Sean Whitton
>> Wikimedia IRC Group Contact
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sean_Whitton
>> --
>> —Sean Whitton (seanw)
>> <sean at silentflame.com>
>> http://seanwhitton.com/
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