[WikiEN-l] The cart before the horse: policy changes

Jonathan dzonatas at dzonux.net
Fri Feb 10 14:18:15 UTC 2006

February 10, 2006

Dear Wikipedians:

Would you be bold and update policy? Does it seem bolder to take 
administrative action without proper justification? This is what needs 
to be addressed.

The foundations of wikipedia are based on (a) discussion, (b) 
discussion, and (c) discussion. Somewhere along the way was inserted 
others option: (d) block and (c) end of discussion.

There are many reasons to start discussion, and there are some reasons 
to block, and there are even better reasons to continue discussion. 
Would you rather block and end discussion or attempt to follow the 
foundations and allow for discussion?

Let's get to the point and work with that (to avoid a lengthy business 
like letter). Sometimes when the block is done, it puts the cart before 
the horse. The block is given but no discussion to justify the block is 
done until (maybe) some later time. Given that wikipedia is open 
content, the only justification that seems applicable for such swift 
action is if continual vandalism is in progress, and the block is the 
only way to stop it. However, blocks are given out much easier than that.

We have examples of where blocks are given out that are not based on 
technicalities of policy, and I'll provide evidence below:

It took about 10 minutes for a user to make a 3RR report and for the 
block to be instated. Reason: "Blocked for 24h for 3RR on the Template. 
Not technically 3RR on the Talk because the first edit wasn't a revert, 
just a total waste of everyones time. Dzontas: please learn to get along 
with people. D's complaints about personal attack I judge totally 
unfounded. William M. Connolley 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:William_M._Connolley> 22:21, 9 
February 2006 (UTC)."  [ 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:AN/3RR#User:Dzonatas ]

Further discussion with wikipedians on #wikipedia led to the belief 
where the block was almost entirely undone. The block for the template 
was found as not valid since the first edit was not a revert, so both 
technically were not 3RR.

Discussion continued on the #wikipedia to justify a block. It took about 
a half hour to find any decent justification. It took about an hour to 
pinpoint justification, which isn't explicitly stated in the Three 
Revert Rule policy.

I agreed to a block on the basis that once one person contests an edit 
then discussion must follow on the talk page about the edit, like to 
find consensus before another edit. This is the policy change to make 
that would make this much clearer. The 3RR has implied such but it 
doesn't explicitly state it; although, a 3RR block has been used 
regularly on this basis. "The point is," it wasn't obvious.

The policy change would make it obvious.

Also realize in the case above, the user that made the 3RR report never 
did discuss the reason for his revert. Discussion did happen on the talk 
page, but none of the discussion specifically addressed the edit summary 
of the revert. The question about the reason for the revert was avoided 
and a block handed out instead. This needs also to be covered in policy 
to make sure that relevant discussion on the talk page justifies any 
revert; otherwise, they are subject to count towards a 3RR rule block on 
the person that doesn't answer the questions to justify that person's 

I know by this process I have actually exploited a common tactical 
revert-war technique. That is to revert, not discuss the revert, and let 
the other user edit again until there is enough edits to make a 3RR 
report. An admin might block upon it, as in the above case proves it 
happens. Also, in the above case, the edit summary stated "gr" and later 
"grammar" but the user never stated the point of exactly where he 
thought the grammar was wrong enough to justify a revert - it is a 
personal attack to just comment without reason on someone's grammar, 

Thanks for you time to read this. I plan to post diffs on this activity, 
but not on this mail-list.

The block is the cart while the horse is the discussion. The horse needs 
to pull the cart -- it doesn't seem right other way around.

I also expect mutual application of such policy. To continually apply it 
to some wikipedians while it is not equally applied to others implies 
seditious activity against wikipedia and wikipedians.


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