Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Single

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The Signpost
Single-page Edition
WP:POST/1
31 July 2018
From the editorIf only if
Technology report
New bots, new prefs
 

Black-and-white photograph of sailors scrubbing a ship's deck
Will there be another crew willing to sweep the deck (note supervisor at right)?



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Photograph of a large boat whose starboard side is listing and riding up against the harbor
The Admin Ship returns to port.
Image macro meme depicting the Wikipedia globe logo with a mop layered over it; top text: "WP:RFA"; bottom text: "BECAUSE THIS PLACE IS NOT GOING TO MOP ITSELF" with "BECAUSE" misspelled



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Photograph of a wrestler in mid-air with arms out, preparing to land on the wrestler below
Sport or entertainment?



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Group photograph at Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town
Wikimania 2018
Chart showing the amount of unreviewed new articles since the start of 2018, which has seen rapid decline overall, but has begun rising since July
Waiting list for new users gets longer again
Simple drawing of an "Admin T-Shirt" that says "I'm an admin and all I get is this crappy T-shirt :)"
Sro23 has a new T-shirt.



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Cartoon caricature of Wikipedia cabalists discussing and denying that there is a cabal
Cabal of anti-UK editors deciding the fate of venture capital articles?
Photograph of luggage being unloaded from an airplane at the airport
Maher living out of a suitcase – taking her office with her?



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Screenshot of the top-half of the English Wikipedia main page with the banner "To all our readers in Germany" at the top
The banner as it appeared to readers in Germany



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Photograph of a helicopter hovering above ocean with the Apollo 10 capsule and astronauts floating nearby
Helicopter 66 during the Apollo 10 recovery in 1969

Photograph of a mountainous skyline depicting the Taapaca volcanic complex with the town of Purte in the bottom-left corner
Taapaca complex in Chile

Photograph of snowy mountain peaks with a hiker in the bottom-left atop grassy terrain
Cascade Pass in the U.S. state of Washington's North Cascades National Park

Black-and-white portrait photograph of Willy Brandt in a suit and tie
Willy Brandt, one of the Chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

Illustration of two maps displaying a summary of the 2006 Pacific hurricane season as provided by NOAA, which depicts activity off the western coast of Mexico
2006 Pacific hurricane season



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Infographic map illustrating the state of World War II in Europe in 1942
Arbcom is about to decide how we talk about this.
Screenshot of the Evidence subpage's history between 11 July and 12 July depicting most of the revisions as deleted
Much of this discussion has been redacted.



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Player scoring a goal after a failed block
Goooooalllll!



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Photograph of all pyramids of Giza on a clear day
The Pyramids of Giza, constructed between the Early Dynastic and Late periods of ancient Egypt, have remained emblematic of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination.



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Wikipedia Teahouse logo
Photograph of the inside of an abandoned building with prolific graffiti covering the walls
Vandalism



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ANI and Wrestling

Portrait Photograph of masked wrestler without a shirt, wearing black armbands that blend into background
Would you let this guy with no arms date your daughter (or son, for that matter)?
Photograph of Hulk Hogan tearing off his flamboyant costume and exposing his chest
He tried Hollywood but it didn't work out.
Photograph of two female wrestlers grappling each other
Getting ready for the Olympics in 2022.
Photograph of two women wrestling and covered in mud
"I'm sick and tired of your split infinitives!"

I'm not the only one who has seen a synergistic connection between WikiProject Professional wrestling and ANI. Discussion has already progressed from a very simple idea all the way to the merging of these two very active areas of the English Wikipedia. This new PW–ANI WikiProject has been recently created to streamline the creation of content and consensus that is common between these topic areas. Basically, the topic that binds these active areas of editing together is exciting and filled with orchestrated productions created for entertainment. One does not have to spend much time finding the sublime similarities between the two. Both involve the "suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief [which] has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment."


From a recent discussion of pro-wrestling:

Your inability to comprehend the meaning of my "half-serious" proposal is, ironically, emblematic of the very reasons that editing in topic areas such as pro "wrestling" and snooker and beauty pageants needs special restrictions. EEng 1:59 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
Let's face the real facts here: Galatz is a member of WikiProject Professional wrestling and doesn't like EEng expressing his opinions about the value of the encyclopedia covering that sport spectacle, given the number of disputatious editors involved in writing about it and the noticeboard complaints it generates. Beyond My Ken (talk) 2:19 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
Next you'll be telling us pro wrestling isn't real. EEng 3:35 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)
As someone who works in the performing arts, one has to appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into conceiving, staging, choreographing, and rehearsing these shows -- about 15 minutes of appreciation should be sufficient. I still like the line from one of The Thin Man films, where someone tells Nick that he's going to see a great wrestling bout, and Nick replies "Why? Were you at the rehearsal?" Beyond My Ken (talk) 5:25 a.m., 18 June 2018 (UTC), Monday (1 month, 13 days ago)[1]

Let us compare these two segments of the English Wikipedia along with the 'real' sport of amateur wrestling and a previous version of Mud wrestling:


Topic descriptionsWikiProject Professional wrestlingAdministrators' noticeboard/IncidentsAmateur wrestlingMudwrestling
Use of mysterious and sometimes ridiculous namesYesYesNoNo
Incorporates the use of flimsy tables and chairsYesNoNono, but water is necessary
A high school competitive sportNolikelyYesnot yet
A competitive sportNoYesYesYes
Women participantsYes and it boosts ticket sales9.8% of the timeYesactually dominate the sport
Pageviews/day2,2093,31010427
Prone to hyperboleYesmajor rhetorical deviceNonot yet
Weight requirementsNoUsing bold font lends weight to the discussionYesChubby women are not as popular as non-chubby women
Olympic sportNoWorking on itYesnot yet
Get paidYesNoNoprobably
Page watchers2527,42348<30

See also



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Sketch caricature of person walking away
"I better get out of here!"
(image by Frode Inge Helland)



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We reprint this op-ed by Beeblebrox as it appeared in our August 2011 issue to illustrate the eccentricities of our system for obtaining consensus, rather than pending changes itself. His experience motivated him to later pen his excellent essay "The perfect policy proposal" – anecdotal, but a perfect tutorial for anyone wanting to start a Request for Comment (RfC) and not wishing to be 'the guy trying to be the ringmaster of an out-of-control circus'.

The pending changes fiasco: how an attempt to answer one question turned into a quagmire

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I had good intentions, and they led me straight into Wikipedia Hell. As most of you know, pending changes (PC) was a modified version of the "flagged revision" system used on other Wikipedia projects. It was deployed here as a trial: the trial period expired and ... nothing happened. That's where I come in.

I had applied PC to a few dozen articles during and after the trial period. I got a message on my talk page from a user who noted that I was still using it even though the trial period was over. I didn't think I was doing anything drastic, but it was still bothering some folks because there was no clear mandate to continue using the tool. I'd participated in a number of policy discussions in the past, so I took it upon myself to seek an answer to the question of whether we wanted to retain this tool or not. Six months later, the question remains unanswered.

The RFC

It started with a simple request for comment ([1]). I really didn't know what to expect. I knew the original discussions had been heated, and that many people had believed this tool would create more class divisions on Wikipedia; but after the trial began, the furor seemed to have died down. My goal was to come up with a yes or no answer as to whether we should use the tool, but in retrospect it was naive of me to think it would be that simple. I opened the discussion on February 16. By the 19th it had grown into a long, disjointed conversation on a myriad of topics. There were many misunderstandings, and a lot of confusion regarding who was supposed to do what when the trial ended. That appears to be where this whole thing went wrong. Everyone was angry that nothing was being done, but nobody seemed to know definitively who was supposed to be doing what in the first place.

Things were getting a bit out of control as discussions were duplicated and new participants added new sections without apparently having read previous posts. On March 8 the second phase of the RFC began. The rate of participation was high, and disruption and factionalism were low. However, a small (it seemed to me) but very vocal group of users felt that we shouldn't have a conversation about whether to keep it until it was turned off. Gradually, this became the primary topic of discussion on the talk page. Contributors began to split into two camps: editors who wanted the tool turned off and those of us who felt this was irrelevant. I was dismayed by what I saw as the emergence of an adversarial relationship. The waters were becoming muddied and an unpleasantly confrontational atmosphere was developing on the talk page: a storm was brewing.

To try once again to organize discussion into a format that would yield usable results, I proposed yet another phase. The idea would be a survey for editors to complete. I'd participated in the Wikipedia:RfA Review/Recommend survey and liked the format. I believed this issue was not as contentious as RfA, and that we could use the combined results of the three phases to determine what the community wanted and move forward. I still believe that.

Phase three

I tried to roll out the third phase. I asked for feedback on it, but got very little. Eventually it was clear the increasingly vocal users who wanted to switch off PC didn't like the existence of the third phase. For my part, while I didn't "own" the RFC I did feel it should focus on the particular purpose for which I'd created it: to determine whether or not we should continue to use PC. How could we craft a policy on the use of a tool if we couldn't even decide if we would use it, and how could we expect the Foundation to expend its resources to develop it if we were unable to tell them if it would end up being used? I decided to push ahead as only a few users out of the 100+ who had participated in earlier phases had objected to the final phase. The breakdown of what happened in phase two suggested that we had some fairly usable results, and I didn't want to lose the momentum we had. I wanted to get this over the finish line and answer what I was now calling "The Big Question".

I turned on the questionnaire phase after ten days of discussion that had resulted in changes to both the wording and ordering of the questions. Nobody had proposed an alternative procedure other than reverting back to open discussion, which had already proved to be too messy to yield any usable results in my view. Was I being pushy? Maybe, but I felt it was important to resolve this issue, which had by then been discussed for more than a month.

Two questionnaires had been submitted when a user decided to revert phase three and place it on hold pending further discussion. For the first time, I was actually feeling stress and getting angry about something on Wikipedia. I am usually able to keep my cool fairly well, but accusations were being leveled at me and I felt that irrelevant objections were sidelining a major policy discussion that would have far-reaching consequences. I repeatedly stated that if turning PC off was what it would take to get the conversation back on track that we should just do it. That wasn't good enough for some users, and a new third phase was created whose sole purpose was to discuss the temporary use of the tool. I admit that I began to make some intemperate remarks and some foul language crept into my conversation. I was frustrated with Wikipedia for the first time in years. My third phase was put on hold while the other issue was being resolved. By now the RFC had been open for 45 days.

There's a lot more I could say about what happened next, but it is all there in the archives for those who want the details. Eventually I decided I'd had enough: too much time was being spent debating my alleged motivations as opposed to the actual issues, and I quit the process—a process I'd initiated with the simple intention of answering one question. I un-watchlisted the related pages and haven't looked at them again until now. A couple of users expressed concern that I might quit Wikipedia altogether, and I re-assured them that I was just sick of the tactics used in the debate, and didn't want to be part of it anymore. The RFC was finally closed on May 27, 101 days after I opened it. In the end, all that happened was that PC was "temporarily" taken out of use, the same way it was temporarily turned on. It's still there, we just aren't allowed to use it until we finally answer that "big question" I set out to answer back in February. Nothing more substantive than that was decided. There's still no policy on PC. For all that effort, we failed to achieve the primary goal of deciding whether or not to use the tool, although, after a poll, it was eventually removed from all pages on which it was still being used.

Aftermath

When I got the discussion about PC going, I saw it as my opus, my great contribution to Wikipedia's policy structure. Whether PC was kept or not, we would finally have a policy on it one way or the other after many years of debate. Although I admit I had a preferred outcome, what I wanted most, what Wikipedia needed most, was a yes or no answer. I dedicated many hours to organizing the debate and engaging in discussion. In the end it was a bitter disappointment that accomplished nothing. There seems inevitably to come a point in any such attempt where there are simply too many voices, too many nonsensical objections, too much petty bickering to get anything done. This is a growing, systemic problem at Wikipedia, and eventually we are going to have to deal with it.

When people talk to me about Wikipedia I always tell them that the best thing about it and the worst thing about are the same thing. The consensus-based decision-making model works in a lot of cases, but sometimes it fails us because there are no controls. Nobody was able to keep this process moving in a forward direction once those who wanted to discuss a different issue had derailed it. Perhaps, when the tool has been switched off for long enough, we can look at this again and try to answer that one question without the psychological barrier of its simultaneous non-consensual operation. When that day comes, I'll be happy to be on the other side of the fence as a participant, not the guy trying to be the ringmaster of an out-of-control circus.



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