[Foundation-l] #wikipedia changes

Sean Whitton sean at silentflame.com
Sat Jun 16 21:46:56 UTC 2007

I'm glad you've brought this up so clearly because, from my position,
it isn't as obvious. I can see exactly what you mean about the issue
with continuity between us. On one hand, I would simply say that this
kind of thing will iron itself out with time, and that wounds will
heal etc. However, on the other hand, users like yourself have no idea
which rules to follow, and so things start to go downhill again.

So, I'll try to give the position that we were aiming at in e-mail
discussions here. I think Mark and I were trying to present it fairly,
and I think that the reason it was confusing was because we were going
for something /comparatively/ stricter as compared with what we had
before, but guidelines in the sense of we are not going to stick to
the letter and that a lot of it falls down to common sense.

The position is that we are requesting that the channel remains
reasonably on-topic, has a clean/presentable public face, and that if
this is not being achieved users will be willing to listen to the
operators to perhaps change things.

The guidelines/rules/whatever are not the key thing: being a catalyst it.

If this is horribly unclear, please let me know!


On 16/06/07, Gurch <matthew.britton at btinternet.com> wrote:
> 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
> on-topicness".
> 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.
> Thanks,
> -Gurch
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—Sean Whitton (seanw)
<sean at silentflame.com>

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