[Foundation-l] #wikipedia changes

Gurch matthew.britton at btinternet.com
Sat Jun 16 21:25:14 UTC 2007

Sean Whitton wrote:
> Definately. That's why we have setup #wikipedia-social (and there is
> also #wikimedia-social, which is run by some other Wikimedians and
> they said they didn't want us pointing people there, so we setup
> #wikipedia-social).
> I totally agree that it's very important. My point is that the
> majority of talk in #wikipedia should be on Wikipedia, not the other
> way round. Otherwise, why call it #wikipedia? :-)
> Sean

I couldn't agree more. Could you then explain the decision not to permit 
discussion of individual projects in #wikipedia?

 > Firstly, thanks for speaking about this in a civilised and
 > constructive way. Obviously, nothing like this is ever set in stone. I
 > would like to point out that the guidelines were open for comment in
 > the topic of #wikipedia for a number of days and as I know that you
 > are a regular in the channel, you did have chance to make your views
 > heard there. We assumed there were no immeadiately pressing issues
 > from those who use the channel every day as there were no real
 > comments on the guidelines's talkpage, and so went ahead. It's good
 > that we can continue to adapt things here.

I would have no complaints if these new rules were enforced as written, 
and as guidelines.

Today I took the issue up in-channel, and was told to go elsewhere, then 
with you and Mark individually, and recieved inconsistent responses 
neither of which matched what I experienced on trying to enter the 
channel again a few hours later.

I am still concerned that not everybody is on the same wavelength here.

Virtually all of the discussion in #wikipedia is off-topic or related to 
the English Wikipedia, so prohibiting either type of discussion will 
leave #wikipedia mostly empty.

Is this really the intention? I ask because I discussed the new 
"guidelines" (I'm still waiting for an explanation of how these rules 
became inviolable rather than advisory) with Mark eariler and he assured 
me that the intent was only to bring #wikipedia more on-topic and 
improve the quality of discussion there.

I realise that posting of channel logs is not allowable, but I am going 
to quote Mark on a couple of things, which I think is justified as he 
was essentially making an announcement that affects everyone.

   "We want to make this channel the sort of place we don't hesitate to 
send newcomers to."

   "I think people are under the mistaken impression that this channel 
is going to be a question-and-answer channel, with no "hellos" allowed 
even. We are not banning socialisation. We are just shifting the 
channel's focus back towards Wikipedia itself."

When I raised objection to the new rules, Mark insisted in a private 
message that I calm down somewhat, reassuring me "they're *guidelines*", 
and that he had no problem with socialization in #wikipedia, adding "the 
guidelines are there to steer conversation towards Wikipedia and 

This sort of measured approach is fine, probably a good thing, and I 
don't have an issue with it. Mark later outlined the purpose of the 
various channels clearly:

"This [#wikipedia] is the general discussion channel for the Wikipedia 
project as a whole. #wikipedia-en is the general discussion channel for 
the English Wikipedia. #wikipedia-social is the general discussion 
channel for things not remotely Wikipedia-related"

Now apart from the separating of off-topic discussion from Wikipedia 
discussion, which is new, this is largely the way that things have 
always been. I don't support this change, but I am prepared to tolerate it.

Things seem to have gone some way beyond what Mark wanted, however. Some 
time later, users whom I shall not name insisted to me that the new 
rules were rigid and inflexible - that not only were even a few lines of 
off-topic discussion not permitted, but, crucially, nor was any 
discussion that might be considered relevant to only one project. 
English Wikipedia discussion, I was told, HAD to go in #wikipedia-en. 
Not just "that's probably the most appropriate place for it", as we have 
had in the past.

As I say, I am prepared to tolerate the percieved need to reduce 
"off-topic" discussion. However, I cannot reconcile on the one hand, a 
reassurance that nothing much has changed and these are only guidelines, 
and on the other hand, the imposition of inflexible rules that not only 
change things but render the channel completely unusable.

Yes, we can move to #wikipedia-social or #wikipedia-en as appropriate, 
but Mark is adamant that newcomers should be sent to #wikipedia for 
help. Until now such help has reliably been delievered within seconds by 
experienced and knowledgable users. But they're not there to help 
people; they're there to discuss the project (usually the 
English-language edition) and socialize. No help will be forthcoming if 
the channel is empty. (Why wouldn't I just idle there? The same reason I 
don't idle in #wikimedia-admin or read the English Wikipedia mailing 
list: nothing useful ever happens).

Sean, I suggest you and Mark come to a definite agreement on how rigid 
these "guidelines" are going to be, and what you really want #wikipedia 
to do, before imposing unrealistic restrictions on the rest of the 
channel's users.

If you want everyone to use #wikipedia-social instead, just get on and 
say it, then /clear the channel. These new rules definitely do not 
permit socializing while aiming to reduce the amount of off-topic chat, 
which is what Mark seems to want.

Remember that in declaring and enforcing these changes, you and Mark are 
unilaterally exercising your new powers as the sole channel operators. 
Please understand that you have this power because you are trusted with 
it, not because the rest of us want to be shunted around and told what 
we can and cannot talk about.

Personally, I doubt I'll be using it or any of the other Wikipedia 
channels again if the current state of affairs persists.



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