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Non-anonymous users (narrow focus)

Non-anonymous users (narrow focus)

Themes and ideas from Archive 1:
  1. While anyone can edit anonymously, users who would prefer to edit non-anonymously (in some verifiable manner, eg academic email) are possibly an asset. They may tend to be less likely to sock/edit warring/disrupt (though some do), and may be more serious or have expert skills. They can in some cases add credibility as users with checkable credentials. And yet they are vulnerable to smearing/unfounded claims/attacks. Do we want to protect them better from attacks, smears, etc, or foster these kinds of editors?
FT2 (Talk | email)10:19, 13 December 2009

As an academic, I can tell you that no academic would actually edit the articles in his/her own field (especially if the field is popular) if he/she would have to constantly fight with amateurs who have read in a popular journal about a marginal theory and want to introduce this theory to the article on par with the original theory. Or there are some cracks who have their own theories. I had one in my field on ru.wp who had his own theory of quantum capacitance, did not manage to publish a single article on this theory and still wanted to have this theory mentioned in relevant articles. The guy was harmless and did not even argue with me, he just created new articles which I had to delete.

I see two options here. One option is indeed to encourage academics to identify themselves with real people at academic institutions (may be the verification procedure can be run by OTRS) and give them a special status. My experience is that such a soultion will not be accepted by the majority of editors who feel that they are deprived of their rights and in some way discriminated. Another option whioch is more acceptable is to have a body of referees. They can be use to plan the articles, to evaluate the existing articles (for instance, to suggest adding/removing sections) and to advise on discussion points. I believe this is a Meta issue since it is unlikely that many referees will be found in one field, and it is best to concentrate their efforts on English articles and subsequently translate.

Yaroslav Blanter10:48, 17 December 2009

I don't think arbcoms and referees are useful for solving scientific discussions, because the arbitrators are usually amateurs themselves and can't make judgements about content.

A special status for scientists who operate under their own name is a very interesting proposal though.

Woodwalker13:16, 19 December 2009

Maybe (again) a multi-track approach. "Many users will wish to do X. Some will wish to do Y, We can accommodate the latter this way..."

Some expert users may prefer to give opinions on matters, offer insights, confirm current knowledge or accuracy, and answer specific questions. Just like some users want to write FA's, some "Wikignome", and some write code, we can accommodate experts who do not wish to write articles or endlessly argue content, but do wish to help in a refereeing or advisory capacity.

In this case maybe:

  1. Users with specific topic expertize encouraged to join the relevant project-wide ("global", "meta-") WikiProject/s.
  2. Part of global Wikiproject structure is to identify any mainstream and recognizable expert members (for all or some topics in the Wikiproject).
  3. While these members are not given preferred editorial standing, they do have a referee's inquiry and review page on the WikiProject (and all Global WikiProjects should aim to have such a page), where specialist questions, sourcing, current knowledge, and assessment of edits to high quality articles, can be asked by anyone, if a previous general inquiry has not helped.
  4. These do not function like an Arbcom (they aren't mandatory and don't exclude other opinions from being informative). But they do give a chance for users with highly recognized skills to formally consider and state what they think is highest quality, with anyone else commenting or participating in a separate section below (for clarity).
  5. The conclusions reached on that page are advisory only, but represent the thoughts of recognized "very knowledgable editors" on the topic.

Example how such a page might look:

=== Description of question/issue ===

; Statement of issue (brief neutral summary) and previous resolution attempts if applicable

; Statements by any other involved users

; Views and discussion by WikiProject's referee panelists

; Views and discussion by other editors

; Parties feedback and any other user final comments

FT2 (Talk | email)13:27, 19 December 2009

Right. Plus an option of peer-reviewing articles.

Yaroslav Blanter15:31, 19 December 2009

And if this catches on, a specific kind of peer review too:

  1. Maintaining a table of "latest edits checked to..." and "referee panelist's comments..." for all GA/FA in the WikiProject, and
  2. Watching these articles, and regularly checking their edits since the last "benchmark point" (the last point they were formally agreed to be of that high quality) -- ie, aiming to check the latest edits on each article regularly, so that it is noticed sooner if an article that's reached a high standard of quality is eroding since last review.


Language Article Rating Awarded Last formal
peer review
Last quick
review date
Last quick
review user
Last quick
review diff
(if any)
en Topic1 GA 2008-07 2009-08 2009-11-03 Example [1] Comments
fr Topic2 FA 2009-04 2009-09 2009-11-03 Example [2] More comments
en Topic3 GA 2006-12 2008-12 2009-04-17 Other [3] other comments
FT2 (Talk | email)16:34, 19 December 2009

It would be great of course if they can REGULARLY do smth but we can also cover the situations of a SINGLE action (like answering a question on request or a peer-reviewing an article).

Yaroslav Blanter17:22, 19 December 2009

Both - one doesn't preclude the other. We will have expert and knowledgeable users who don't want to argue with warriors but are glad to peer review, check for issues, help other WikiProject members, field questions needing a high level of knowledge, etc.

FT2 (Talk | email)18:01, 19 December 2009

May be we better wait for the others but as far as I am concerned this is one of the three issues (along with wiki-projects and baseline quality) where we are about coming to the stage of starting to compile recommendations.

Yaroslav Blanter19:00, 19 December 2009

Agree about not assuming, and waiting for others. I keep my current thoughts about proposals on my user page (regularly updated as we discuss things), if you want to take a look.

FT2 (Talk | email)19:09, 19 December 2009

I will have a look, but first I need to reply or mark as read the remaining 10 threads on the quality task force and do smth about the weekly report. I just want to get a better overview of the discussions first.

Yaroslav Blanter19:40, 19 December 2009

Are we turning into Nupedia? Seriously, I think we need to look at other projects Larry Sanger and Danny Wool - two smart pople whatever else one might think of them - and ask what succeeded and what failed. Look, these guys were concerned about JUST THESE problems with Wikipedia, and set out in their own way to overcome JUST THESE problems. What can we learn from their successes .... and failures?

Slrubenstein14:58, 20 December 2009

The defining question here is, which do you feel Wikipedia should be in the longer term:

  1. The "fairly okay I guess encyclopedia anyone can edit" (including many more who will inadvertently reduce quality on high quality items than will improve or maintain it).
    This sets a quality ceiling in practice, and makes it a constant struggle to keep the quality head above water. Eventually we will lose that, because capable users burn out faster than they are added.
  2. The "high quality world reference work anyone can edit" (but to maintain good quality users need to show certain competences before editing certain specific pages)
    This accepts that just like not everyone in the world is equally willing to write neutral encyclopedic content, many in the world who can edit, lack the skills or topic knowledge to work to a high standard. Singling out those who can, and letting them work on specific pages which are delicate, specialist, or are at a level of quality where going down is far easier than going up, will encourage a quality environment. It also strongly incentivizes and operationalizes creating a quality-oriented community for those who initially don't have that skill.

There are further choices and ways to bridge the gap, but ultimately you have to choose which of those you want to be.

The first is a dead end anyway, in the long run.
The second respects the principles of Wikipedia, by allowing "anyone" to edit the delicate or high quality pages, in the same way "anyone" can be an admin -- pure competence, attitude, meritocracy, open to all, and for all to seek at any time. Open to all, and valuing the goal of being an encyclopedia a bit more than it is at present.

I've made my choice. I will respect if you feel it's a harsh one, or a middle way is possible, or the issues can be mitigated. But ultimately I fear you bang up against that question in some way, and ultimately you have to choose the second -- or history will choose for you.

FT2 (Talk | email)22:14, 20 December 2009

FT2 you may be right about these two choices but I really wish we coul com up with three or four ... I am not thrilled with either choice you present even if you may turn out to be right. Perhaps by discussing Nupedia and Everything2 and Danny Wool's project, we can come up with clearer ideas of what we want and do not want as mechanisms to promote quality.

This is what I really take issue with: "but to maintain good quality users need to show certain competences before editing certain specific pages." I do not think that there should be a barrier to entry to ediing an article. This to me is the essence of AGF. Someone with no recognizable credentials may nevertheless make a great edit.

I look at it from the other side. I'd rather give everyone the chance to edit any article but make it easier to block someone from working on an article once they have demonstrated sufficient ignorance of the topic to justify the block, than to change our policy of letting anyone edit.

The fact is right now many articles have a few people watching so that when an idiot makes a stupid edit it is corrected quickly.

Realistically, there are two big problems: there are some articles few people watch and seldom regularly so a stupid edit can be made without being reverted quickly. I' still do not want to deprive anyone of the right to edit - but maybe we can come up witah a way that any time an article of interest to a particular wikiproject is edited, a flag comes up at that project, so some member of the project can check it out?

The other problem is when the ignorant editor is persistent. This is a form of "disruptive editing" and perhaps we can come up with quicker mechanisms to block such people from editing such articles.

So, these are mechanisms I would prefer over your option #2

Slrubenstein14:34, 21 December 2009

That philosophy has already broken down badly on various pages.

It's delicate or specialist pages we're discussing. That's important context to the above post:

"The second respects the principles of Wikipedia, by allowing "anyone" to edit the delicate or high quality pages [emphasis added], in the same way "anyone" can be an admin -- pure competence, attitude, meritocracy, open to all, and for all to seek at any time..."
FT2 (Talk | email)16:51, 21 December 2009

In the beginning, making people sysops was pretty casual because all they were expected to do was enforce community bans by blocking people when there was consensus, by blocking vandals or protecting pages that were targets of vandals. These are pretty basic powers and anyone who has been active for a few months or lets say a year understands how to use them. And it is easy to spot abuses of such powers and take them away.

When it comes to recognizing expertise, I think it is more difficult. We are talking about a wide range of knowledges and skills the value of which is much more context-dependent. There are Wikipedians who know I have real expertise in certain areas, either because of formal education or independent research (I think my committment to Wikipedia policy is equally important here). Even so I get into edit conflicts with people who genuinely believe my knowledge is no longer relevant or they know more. This can go to mediation or arbcom. My point is that even thought I believe them wrong, I acknowledge that there is no objective i.e. non-partisan way to handle this. My larger point is that we will often reach the limits of the community's ability to reach a consensus on the expertise of someone.

Look, I know that we do this informally all the time. I do notobject to that. I am just very anxious about trying to formalize it. I really feel safer letting community support work its way in most cases.

Maybe it would help if you explained in as much detail as possible - no need to name names - some of the cases you are thinking of. Obvously you are concerned by some real cases. I think you need to lay those cases out for us, if we are to figure out mechanisms that would have avoided or efficiently resolved the problems that are concerning you.

Slrubenstein17:23, 21 December 2009

... even thought I believe them wrong, I acknowledge that there is no objective i.e. non-partisan way to handle this. -> of course there is: look into the relevant sources. Most Wikipedians seem amazingly lazy when it comes to visiting a library. Worrying, since we try to create an encyclopaedic source that reflects the content of these libraries.

I think it is very interesting to look into the 'results' and mechanics of other projects like Citizendium. Since we only have until mid January, I don't think it can be part of this task force to do the analysis.

Woodwalker16:23, 22 December 2009

"Most Wikipedians seem amazingly lazy when it comes to visiting a library." I agree with you. nd frankly, I think this is one of the major causes of a lcak of quality in articles so we need to confront it squarely. If we HAVE to create any hierarchies in Wikipedia, I would say the percentage of edits based on reliable sources or library research would be a good one! Slrubenstein 18:03, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Slrubenstein18:03, 22 December 2009

I think this leads us back to the "Featured Article" standard for measuring our best editors. A featured article will be:

well-researched: it is a thorough and representative survey of the relevant literature on the topic. Claims are verifiable against high-quality reliable sources and are supported with citations; this requires a "References" section that lists these sources, complemented by inline citations where appropriate;

"Must visit a library" is practically built into the requirement, if not the best possible web search.

It also helps that the featured article status is discussed by multiple Wikipedians. That means it really represents, by consensus, the best that Wikipedia has to offer. We might disagree about whether it's more valuable to clean up an article, create a new stub, or merge together a bunch of smaller articles. But a featured article is the closest thing we have to "objective" quality.

A trusted editor would start with at least 2 or 3 FAs... and maybe throw in some other requirements like "never been blocked", just so we can exclude jerks.

The idea behind a trusted editor is not to create some kind of untouchable class... it's to know that certain people "get" Wikipedia *and* have valuable expertise. It means that we can actually entrust more editors with tool that we'd only given to admins until now. And it makes it easier to spot someone who, by the widest community standards, has offered huge benefits to the project. Marking their status would be to the benefit of newbies AND veterans who are passing by a stranger.

Randomran21:09, 22 December 2009

I wouldn't meet that standard. :)

~Philippe (WMF)21:29, 22 December 2009

That's okay, Philippe, you'd still make a great admin ;) Some people are given the tools because the community has entrusted them. Other people should be given some of those tools if they've proven that they understand the hard work that goes into our highest quality of content.

Randomran21:37, 22 December 2009

I couldn't meet that standard either. Maybe that is one reason why I prefe as a standard for our editors, not that one has acheived a certain level of quality, but that one understands and appreciate a level of quality. Thi is the rationale for my proposal for a tutorial for anyone wishing to register, above. If all registered users went through thaqt workshop, it would make it all the more likely that they could recognize editors who are exceptionally skilled at recearch and attuned to our policies.

Let's create better members of the community. then they will naturally promote and respond to better leadership.

Slrubenstein22:15, 22 December 2009

I'm sorry to say that while i'm not indifferent to this discussion, i "really" feel unconcerned.

Whatever proposal you make out of this discussion won't make my editing life better or worse.

We can't rely too much "editing saviors".

P.S.: I'm not trying to be provocative but that what "gust" say and it took me +45 mins to formulate just 3 sentences.

KrebMarkt22:22, 22 December 2009

In your opinion, does this thread represent a significant, substantial, energetic, and engaged discussion of the contributions of anonymous users?, 31 December 2009

No. It's a discussion of a type of user who chooses to edit non-anonymously (under their own names), often with expertise or otherwise some clear knowledge in their field, and 1/ how we can best help such users to edit without harassment, or fear of defamation and personal attacks, 2/ how we can best make use of such people in the project.

(Explanation for others - see my talk page)
FT2 (Talk | email)15:19, 31 December 2009

It strikes me that there would be immediate disadvantages to editors not being anonymous. An article would become the property of Professor X the world renowned expert on whatever it is. Professor Xs work on wikipedia would naturally become known to Professor Y, his professional rival who has always coveted his post as dean and thinks Xs published work is rubbish. Don't tell me this is just the world of soap operas. Ive been to university. Wikipedia can not create impartial articles by relying on a few experts. Surely part of the reason for creating wikipedia the way it was, was because hordes of top men were not queing up to work for free writing about their subject, so us ordinary mortals would have to do it if we wanted it done. The sort of expert I would be interested in seeing recognised, if anyone is, is the sort who is not a trained expert on a particular topic, but someone who has a good track record of contributing content to articles which is generally accepted and sticks. Sandpiper 01:34, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Sandpiper01:34, 20 January 2010

Such situation can happen of course but I do not see how this can be avoided in principle. Nobody can prohibit me to use my real name, and anyone can put my name into Google and get an idea what my research field is, what my status and institution are, and whether he/she can rely on my opinion in my research area.

Yaroslav Blanter10:36, 22 January 2010

Not wishing to be insulting or anything, but I have no idea who you might be professionally. It might become obvious if I was working on an article and someone was using a name I recognised in that field, but I have seldom met anyone using their own name and arguing they are an established expert on whatever it is. My advice to anyone would be that they are likely to be better received if they do not claim to be a recognised expert but just a knowledgeable ordinary editor with a view on the subject. The point in question here is not whether editors might wish to identify themselves for whatever reason, but whether we should build up a stable of such editors, encouraging experts to identify themselves and put them in charge of something or other. I don't think we should. Experts on wiki ought to be more in the line of 'expert witnesses', not judges. Generally it is clear when one or another editor is knowledgeable about a subject and others will defer to their views if they regularly make good sense, but as a matter of academic rigour I automatically distrust anyone claiming pre-eminence.

Sandpiper20:29, 24 January 2010

I am a university professor at one of the top research universities in my field, fairly well cited. But I agree that we predominantly should use the experts as experts, and typically not let them make any administrative decisions, especially in the field they may have a conflict of interests.

Yaroslav Blanter13:01, 26 January 2010