Proposal:Create directives to decide debates

From Strategic Planning
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Status (see valid statuses)

The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

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Due to differences of opinion, in re-interpreting policies, there needs to be a system of directives (documented decisions) which clearly decide debates about policies or topic disputes. Once a directive has been issued, it can be noted, as a precedent, to simplify resolving similar debates or disputes. Directives could be so specific that people could no longer claim "it's a matter of interpretation" as they often did, in the past, by twisting the general policies to mean whatever they wish. Many future debates would be averted because prior directives, similar to court rulings, would have settled the basic disputes, long ago.

Perhaps call the activity: "setting directives" as a common technique to decide a debate or dispute, and define a clear document which could be used, and cited, as future precedent.


Define some quick procedure where people can set a directive, as a binding decision, which curtails similar, rehashed debates, about the same issue in the future. Although many directives would be the result of long debates and consensus-building activities, some directives would be the decision of upper-level members who need to quickly resolve an issue, while also defining the outcome, very clearly, and avoid future endless debates about the same tired issues. In a sense, directives would be "mini-guidelines" that only apply to specific articles, templates, or topics, unless cited as precedents to apply in other, similar areas.

The important priorities are:

  • Endless re-debates could be settled, with specifics in writing.
  • Prior directives could be cited as precedent to future decisions.
  • Weaseling by "creative re-interpretation" of policies could be reduced.
  • People could no longer pretend they "didn't know" when deleting or rewriting articles despite prior consensus points.
  • Upper-level members would have a documented means to quickly resolve an issue for long-term application.
  • Crucial discussions could be talk-archived, while leaving a stable directive as the long-term outcome.


Deciding complex debates, via talk-pages, requires a lot of time, and often the same debate re-surfaces, again and again. Typically, a debate becomes so long-winded that it gets moved to a talk-archive, and 6 months later, new people, unaware, begin re-debating the same issue. Decisions need to be stated in a "/directives" talk-subpage, so that new users will understand why an article has been structured in a certain manner, as avoiding some particular details or controversial issues. A system of documented directives, if used to set precedents, could be used to clearly resolve disputes and shorten future debates about similar topics, in other articles. Troublemakers often revel in "creative re-interpretations" of policies to explain why they are authorized to do anything they want, regardless of "your view of policies" by twisting the wording. Instead, a set of extremely precise directives, per article, or per topic, would halt weaseling of interpretations, and as a result, would pinpoint specific, no-nonsense decisions which would limit a troublemaker's antics.

In a more stable environment, a future decision could be made by "looking at prior article xx" however, because articles can be rewritten in a few hours, Wikipedia has been unable to use other articles as dependable, solid precedents to resolve future debates. Instead, now, the "/directives" decided for any article would remain, even when the article is rewritten, and such directives could provide many solid precedents needed for future decisions.

Potential costs

Some extra effort would be needed to write and formalize directives, but by using page categories, the various directives could be grouped, as related to each category, to simplify future comparisons of decisions. Once enough core directives had been decided, then less time, and fewer revisions, would be needed to settle a similar issue in the future. Older directives could be cited, as precedents, to curtail the enormous rehashing and endless re-debating of how to interpret policy wording. People who thrive on gaming-the-system, by waffling the meanings of policies, would be more easily stopped, by obvious violation of an existing directive.


To reduce repetition, or apply a directive to multiple articles, separate pages of directives could be created. Perhaps a page named by "Dir 100705XJ" would contain directives about a topic coded as "XJ" and each directive in that page would be coded by sub-letters (such as "Dir 100705XJa" inside that page). A "final" decision would become a "closed/boxed discussion" within that page, whereas a temporary directive could remain open, for later adjustment of details.

Any crucial directives, for a particular topic, such as interpreting 2 policies together, could be placing inside a fully-protected page (such as "Dir 100705BLP-OR"), where all those directives (in that page) were carefully controlled, rather than casually open to "consensus by changing it and see if anyone objects in the next 3 days". As an example, a fully-protected file could contain 12 specific directives about how to apply the Wikipedia enwiki bio-policy WP:BLP along with WP:SYN to explain decisions about when, and when NOT, to allow synthesis of facts in biographies of living persons.

Another example might be a directive deciding a major change to a policy, such as changing WP:BLP (about living persons) to mention named police dogs, which are considered to be "police officers" in some regions. Such a change might be needed because police dogs were judged to be open to libelous remarks, or some similar unusual development requiring a major change (and perhaps unbelievable change) to a policy. In essence, the particular directive would stipulate either the general intent of the change, or even, proscribe the basic wording being amended into the policy text. The directive might also list, perhaps 17, major articles that need to be adjusted by a certain due date about the amended policy.

Another advantage of using directives is to implement changes during incredible circumstances, such as users thinking it is a practical joke to risk being edit-blocked for issuing insults about a police dog. In general, directives provide a controlled way to manage changes, while indicating the seriousness, and scope, of the changes that are intended.

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