Quote on heavy duty edit warriors

Quote on heavy duty edit warriors

Quoted from a paper: "The loudest voices and most obsessive contributors become the arbiters of truth".

This is common experience of how it can be. I've been exploring some thoughts on this since 2007, but it's a significant enough problem that it's probably worth a thread of its own.

Are there any other major issues also worth threads of their own to examine? Let's open them...?

FT2 (Talk | email)00:16, 28 November 2009

Good point. I am certain you have seen this in classrooms as well, as have I. Luckily in classrooms we have professors who tend to know more than us to set us straight.

Sometimes the loudest voices actually are correct, many times they are not. So the question continues to be "how do we vet?" Also, how do we encourage the softer voices?

Bhneihouse19:09, 28 November 2009

My gut view is we're doing it the wrong way. We have a default that's "unless egregiously horrible, permit them to continue".

As a result it's hard to deal with problem users - we assume they're ignorant... they aren't too bad... whatever. Finally when everyone's upset enough, someone says "look, they're actually a warrior or problem damn it!" I can confirm the wiki has many cases where admins can't, or don't dare to act, because someone will overturn it, or see them as not giving enough chances, or the target has established friends who will attack the admin if they try, etc.

Maybe it should be much more, "good conduct expected" -- the admins job is to decide not if a user is horribly bad, but if the user is collaborating well enough. Our current rule selects for "not bad enough yet to be blocked". Set low standards and you tend not even to get those. Maybe our norm should actually be selecting with a bit more discrimination, as "good enough to be a positive addition".

This would change the basic rule to: "Any admin can require any participant in a discussion to show better quality of editing/interaction -- failing which can remove them from that discussion thread unilaterally for a while".

Ie admins wouldn't block for horribly bad conduct. Rather, any admin can unilaterally demand a user improves their contribution in a thread, without having to show there is horribly bad conduct.

I can see one of our recommendations being a brief list of some communal attitudes that need to be rewritten as they are counterproductive...

FT2 (Talk | email)19:15, 28 November 2009

Yes and yes. I used to OP in #mirc lounge. Besides running a script to kick/block, to deal with literally thousands of users over the span of a day, we had a pretty generous policy of if it smells like a fish it is probably a fish, and ops could demand better conduct. It kept the channel roar down to a low hum and empowered the OPs to be fair and just. Yes, sometimes it was abused but in general, if the job of picking the OPs was done properly, the channel ran pretty smoothly.

Aim for the high benchmark and expect everyone to live up to it.

Here is where policy works. The admins can always fall back on "these are the guidelines." Good = continuing to contribute. Not being good/going a tad rogue = warning, Bad/Rogue = ban/block.

Look at a group of kids, if a supervising adult allows any bad behavior, the dynamic exponentially changes. (I am not likening Wikipedians to children, rather looking at group dynamic.)If expectations are communicated up front, the kids are more likely to behave and when non behaving kids are taken aside, the remaining kids tend to support the adult's decision. The key is knowing the rules up front.

Bhneihouse20:03, 28 November 2009

The problem is the culture has become very slanted towards "bad behavior is okay provided not toooo bad", for anyone who writes genuine content. Being a good content writer is taken by many to excuse anything, however damaging, whoever's impacted. Being an apparent content contributor who actually engages in disruption, tendentiousness, smearing, or low grade POV warring on the side, but knows how to get away with it or make other users walk away because it's messy, is almost as good an excuse.

This gets pushed hard, and admins are reluctant to be slammed for it.. the setup's ideal for gaming. We have admins -- popular, entrenched admins and experienced users -- who will actively do horrible stuff then argue to hell if told not to, that they didn't, and they can and will get away with it. Don't ask how, just accept they will. So a sea change to "above average conduct, no excuses, and any admin can enforce it" would be huge. It would really be a community sea change. But it may well be what's needed. Problem is how do you get to there.

And asking "what change would make consensus seeking easier and automatically select against clever edit warring" would also be valuable. Pondering this one....

FT2 (Talk | email)21:47, 28 November 2009

As long as I don't personally attack you, and as long as I have a few other people to back my side up, there's no way you can get your changes through. And if I refuse to cooperate with you, and say that your point of view is destroying Wikipedia, and I will oppose you until my last breath, there are no consequences. And if you block my changes on one article, it's not to say I couldn't find enough people to get my changes through on another article and slip it passed you. You can just imagine how well this works out for controversial content areas, and what it does for quality.

Randomran02:08, 29 November 2009

Its worse than that. You can attack. And accuse, malign, claim we've discussed the dud cite that you evaded discussing... and keep doing it weeks if not months before stuff happens. And then the poor buggers have to deal with his socks, or whatever else happens.

That's the reality of serious edit warriors.

Tendentious users with mild bias, misconception, etc, can be almost as bad, without meaning to.

FT2 (Talk | email)03:30, 29 November 2009

Ok so if people go on their own way despite the community standards then perhaps they shouldnt be engaging in a collaborative community. Maybe the people we want collaborating are those who are actually WANT to collaborate -- the ones who truly GET it.

Back to the brand. What IS Wikipedia?

How does a person who is ego driven fit into what Wikipedia IS?

Maybe they dont, and maybe that is OKAY.

Everyone who works on this matters, it matters what they do, how they do it, how they treat other people.

If they dont buy into the brand, maybe they shouldnt be playing in the "game".

why do you think I keep talking about brand? because it drives everything else. It even drives getting rid of people who gum up the works whose actions are totally inconsistent with the brand/mission/vision/goal.

Bhneihouse04:16, 29 November 2009

there just seems to be this idea that Wikipedia will take everyone and their ideas regardless of how they act or what they think. And that idea drives a lot of behavior on Wikipedia.

But I do not think that idea is consistent with what Wikipedia is. You cant have a world class encyclopedia that is free that allows people to abuse the privilege of sharing information with the world.

do you see the shift? we go from accepting everything that everyone wants to give us to only that (conduct, information, content) which is consistent with what Wikipedia is and where Wikipedia is going. That isnt copping out or leaving anyone out, that is making the choice that needs to be made in order for Wikipedia to do what it set out to do.

Now, if part of the brand is to include absolutely everyone without any any reservations or guidelines or censure, then why worry about what anyone does?

Can you see why identifying the brand and understanding it is so key?

Bhneihouse04:45, 29 November 2009

We're coming to the same places, just via different routes. That's ok. I think what's important is that the space is explored from different perspectives and viewpoints, and we end up being able to work together on matters however they arise - not that we necessarily all use the same methodology to explore.

I couldn't approach this using branding as you would, it just isn't how I think through it. Likely you'll find some things I wouldn't. For you, it gives a structure that works, like mine would for me. But you can understand mine, I can understand yours, and we collaborate :)

We will both come to the same point, "should we accept just anyone". We both understand the philosophical matters driving it, the expectations, the perceptions and editorial and content issues. How we got there... we may each have got there different ways.

I tend to be more - desired experience, current situation, what's going on, and what might bridge the gap. I don't think I could do it purely top down starting at "what's the brand". Too distant. Useful to reflect on, but a bit too distant to work with myself. That others can, is good. Multiple approaches.

Bit of self-disclosure for you :) Peace :)

FT2 (Talk | email)04:58, 29 November 2009


I think I just got where you are missing brand. Brand isnt top down, it's organic. Certain things about brand, like values and principles, remain static, but the brand evolves -- dependent on a number of variables such as who gets involved and where it moves to, I can think of Apple Computer as a perfect example of this evolution.

Brand is both evocative of the sum of the elements of the company and personalized by the sum of the elements of the company (those are the elements that lead to its evolution.)

A solid brand empowers both customers/users and employees/users (Wikipedia has more blur between traditional customer/employee roles) and those who supply to the brand (also a blur here at Wikipedia.)

Brand is extremely responsive, yet keeps a consistency to it that is, as prior stated, evocative of its values and core principles and all of the parts of the brand.

Thus, brand is NOT top down. Brand is, and I hate to use this analogy, a bit like a soul that permeates everything. Thus, everything that comes from the brand needs to be "in touch" with it, that is consistent with it.

If you can instead think of brand as living and breathing, like the blood and soul of a company, then you may get past thinking of it as top down. If you instead use a brand as a compass, it will help guide "what might bridge the gap" because North is always North. If I set my eyes to the North Star, I always get home.

Bhneihouse18:00, 29 November 2009

"What Wikipedia is (or should be) about" - valid paraphrase?

My concern I guess is that "what is the is-ness of Wikipedia" will be great guidance in some areas, and help to reach good decisions in others. But we're not yet at the refined point needed for sophistry. We're at a more basic point, where it's as basic as "what big inroads might matter most and be most achievable". Further along the road we may need to refine this, but for now we just need to be in the right ballpark.

80/20 rule, we're still facing gross (= very crude and unsubtle) quality matters and whatever the brand may be, whatever methodology one uses to decide where we're at, those are still going to be most of the "big deal" on quality for now, and the solutions will probably be similar, because the problems are gross not subtle.

I'll have a go at working in your way of thinking, and/or leave that aspect to those who can think that way better.

It seems you're after an overall framework of "what are we all about here" to help identify and guide quality, and the prioritizing of quality issues and nature of any recommended actions. I'm fine with that, as long as I don't have to think too hard about the is-ness of the which, and hurt my neurones :)

I do take one point where this can help. Namely, whether we need to suggest any very significant changes up front, to the structure/ethos/traditional stances/communal beliefs related to Wikipedia, as a prerequisite to getting quality on a better track for future. Asking "what do we want in 5 years time" or "what has to be, to be the best we can in 5 years", is an important perspective. I'm in favor of grasping nettles early if needed, and as we grew up randomly it's quite likely we've promulgated some stuff that's outdated and even harmful long term, and we should look critically for such matters.

Any better? :)

FT2 (Talk | email)18:21, 29 November 2009

not really. I believe you are still seeing brand as top down, rather than as the driver in the process. Thus if you do not see it as the driver, you cannot understand how brand dictates decisions and that all decisions must be in concert with brand, including anything having to do with quality.

I do not know what analogy to use that would communicate this, however, this website, www.ries.com, may help. Try looking at the video about their new book, War in the Boardroom. Al Ries wrote The Ten Immutable laws of Branding, a key work in this field.

Bhneihouse19:14, 29 November 2009

upon reread of your post a few thoughts did not sink in well enough before I posted. I think I see where you are getting some of the points. Is "grasping nettles" (perhaps doing that which is painful or uncomfortable) the concept of working on defining what the brand for Wikipedia is, or figuring out what the compass is?

Perhaps you don't have to think about the IS-ness, perhaps someone else can do it for you? Then you can just follow guidelines that another puts in place? That doesn't seem to be your speed, but it could work if you wished it to.

I handle brands with incredible care. I have been fortunate to handle a number of them. Wikipedia is no different to me -- to be handled with care.

Bhneihouse19:28, 29 November 2009