Proposal:Give users demerits/merits not threats

From Strategic Planning
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This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership.
  2. Focus on quality content.
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation.

Nutshell: Focus actions by scoring points.
Analogy: A wiki-game of ranked rules & actions.
Misconception: Will increase gaming-the-system (no): ranks many positive/negative actions in clear ways.
Example: See below #Examples.

If not English, in what language is this proposal submitted?:


Many user actions would be ranked, with associated demerits for policy violations or merits earned working on positive activities. Users would incur edit-blocks due to total demerits, rather than the whim of threats by some admins. If facing a potential edit-block, users could show good-faith efforts by working to earn merit points.

Perhaps call the activity: "earning demerits/merits" as a common method to encourage better user behavior, without fostering an attitude of threats issued by individual admins. Rules would seem more fair, clear in rank, with fewer threats from admins.


Define some quick procedure to initiate ranking of user actions, using a point system of demerits and merits. Each user action would be assigned the associated demerits for policy violations or merits earned working through positive activities. Users would incur warnings and edit-blocks due to total demerits, rather than the whim of threats by some admins.

The important priorities are:

  • Busy user actions could be focused in positive ways, ranked by the associated merit points.
  • Negative activities would be ranked, rather than consider all violations as potentially fatal rebellion.
  • Endless re-debates could be avoided, by indicating merits could be earned by positive actions rather than argue to remove demerits.
  • Work on positive activities would show "good-faith efforts" rather than a user promising to do better.
  • Prior activity ranks of demerits/merits could be listed to help ranking of future actions.

However, beware the adage, "Everyone makes mistakes". So the use of demerits, plus merits, should always be subject to further analysis, and problems should be expected, rather than consider a future disappointment to be a total condemnation of the concept of using demerits/merits. Focus on directing improved behavior, where action priorities would be indicated by point ranks. Also, by basing judgments on level of total demerits, then admins would no longer be seen as the obvious enemy casting judgments on users. Those issues would, most likely, reduce the overall user conflicts and hostility.


User actions need to be focused by both positive and negative reinforcement. Instead of dwelling only on the negative aspect, such as policy violations, users should be given a positive view through earning merit-points. Setting the basic rules, often decided by complex debates via talk-pages, requires a lot of time. However, the ranking of demerits is often obvious for many of those rules.

Also, many people do not consider the "what-could-go-wrong" aspect of rules they write. By quantifying the impact of various rules and activities, the overall effect could be judged by adding the total points. After months (or years) of working and analyzing policies or guidelines, it becomes apparent which violations are more serious, to earn more demerits.

Potential costs

Some extra effort would be needed to identify and rank the demerits for rules, plus merits for positive activities. There are several concerns:

  • Some people will be reluctant to no longer issue common threats.
  • Some other users might resent limitations in their prior ruthlessness.
  • Some complex rules might be difficult to rank, by over-analyzing the impacts ("Paralysis of analysis").
  • Perhaps attempts to rank rules might reveal some rules which are too arbitrary, or too capricious, and should be removed as inherently unfair to users.
  • It is important to consult rules experts, with current knowledge, who are also adept at seeing general problems about ranking the rules.


The following are some examples:

  • Formerly, it was a common threat to set an edit-block for a user who wrote a severe insult (or personal attack, per enwiki en:WP:No_personal_attacks) against other usernames. Instead, writing an insult would earn perhaps 150 demerits.
  • The demerits could be noted in the edit-summary line for a user talk-page. Total demerits would be the sum of all demerits shown by the History-tab for each user's talk-page history log.
  • A template which issued a demerit-notice could also issue a warning depending on the severity of rank of the demerits given.
  • Perhaps allow users to earn "-10" merits for each draft article they "wikify" to have correct grammar, spelling, wikilinks, and neutral tone of the general wording.
  • To simplify adding total demerits, the merit points could be coded as negative numbers (thus: -10 merits).
  • The range of demerits, such as for an insult, could be judged by each admin, but limited to a maximum of negative demerit points, so that an admin could not overly-penalize a disliked user.
  • Beware awarding merits for trivial work, such as fixing 3 minor problems in articles. Don't allow merits to foster trivial edits or actions.
  • A periodic review of ranking, for both violations and activities, could help balance the fairness of the overall ranking.

Other major detailed examples could be listed here.

See also

(a related idea to remove rules which typically cause arguments)
(allow 2 articles for differing views, no longer a POV-fork vio)

Community Discussion

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