User:DESiegel/Template the regulars

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This is a response to Don't template the regulars.

Wikipedia gets vandalised a lot. We all know it, we all admit it. That's why there are user warning templates available. Take a look at the pages that contain those warning templates. Take a really close look. Does it say anywhere who those templates are designed for? More specifically, does it say anywhere who they shouldn't be used on? No, it doesn't, so why should we discriminate who we use them against? Why shouldn't we template the regulars?

Arguments for not templating the regulars[edit]

Uncivil reactions?[edit]

Apparently, templating the regulars might make them a bit angry. It might make them bite the template delivery boy or message-woman. But who do you think is more likely to be civil in such a dispute; a regular, or a vandal? If we don't template users because we're scared of an angry reaction, then why do we template vandals? Sure, some "regulars" react angrily, but why? Do they think they're better than any other user? They obviously aren't, since they received that same template which can be used for any user. Rather than not templating them out of fear of their reaction, you should be bold and remind them not to bite the template delivery boy, and to not do whatever they are receiving the template for.

Assuming bad faith?[edit]

Apparently, if you template a regular, they might think you're acting in bad faith. Again, who's more likely to assume good faith, a regular or a vandal? Someone who had some knowledge of how Wikipedia, and specifically, how vandal fighting, works – "a regular" – would be much more likely to know that most vandal fighters act in good faith, and send out templates to help make the encyclopaedia better. Not all vandals would have realised that yet, so should we not template them until they learn?

Too influential to get templated?[edit]

If you enter any admin coaching session, you're sure to find a question along the lines of "If influential user x is accused of sockpuppeting, what do you do?" You almost always find an answer along the lines of "It doesn't matter how influential they are, I request a checkuser." These answers aren't frowned upon, they're considered correct. According to the admin coach, and whoever else happens to encounter this sort of thing, it doesn't matter how influential or popular someone is around here; they still receive the same punishments. Why should this exclude templating? Why should they be above a template, if they aren't above anything else?

Explaining the obvious[edit]

Some templates messages include phrases like "Welcome to Wikipedia". Some include explanations of a policy that pretty clearly assume that the person the message is addressed to doesn't know it. When such messages are addressed to an editor who is obviously not new to Wikipedia, or clearly knows the policy in question, even though s/he may have just violated it, it may be taken as sarcasm, or it may be taken that the person sending the message didn't really care what the message actually said. This can cause the recipient to be unhappy. How one can avoid this:

  1. Know what the templates you use say. If you use a template, you are signing your name (well, your username) to a message. If you didn't mean that message, you shouldn't use that template in that way. If you do mean the message, all is well (provided that you remember WP:CIVIL). Using "Show Preview" when editing is always good advice. For substituted templates, it will display a current version of exactly what the template will say.
  2. Choose an appropriate template. If the template you have picked sends a message that is inappropriate, find a better one. For example, {{uw-vand1}} is obviously aimed at a newcomer. So if an obviously experienced editor commits vandalism, don't use uw-vand1. Instead, consider {{uw-vand2}} or {{uw-vand3}} which make no such assumptions. Often there is a more appropriate template to use if a moment of thought is given.
  3. Make the message appropriate. If the template you want to use doesn't say quite what you mean, but there is no better one to hand, use subst to put its content onto the page, and then re-edit at once to convert the not-quite-right message into the exactly right message, or add an additional message that makes your meaning clear. Many warning templates have a reason parameter or an unnamed final parameter which allows the user to add additional text as part of the message to explain the exact reason why the template is being used in a particular case. When this isn't available, you can always simply type a short additional explanatory message. This will make your meaning clearer and may help reduce friction.
  4. Be prepared to stand behind your template. If the message went out over your signature, be sure it said something you wanted to say, and that you can honestly say, later "I was justified in sending that message in these circumstances". Make sure that you would have been willing to say the same things without a template to call on. If you can honestly say that you sent the message you intended to send, and sent it in good faith, you should have nothing to worry about.

What damage will templating a regular do?[edit]

Will a template reminding an admin not to remove anonymous votes from an RfA result in massive amounts of admin recall requests? Will a template – reminding a user that a user must have vandalised past his final warning before being AIV-reported – cause this user to fail any, and all, subsequent RfAs? Will a template reminding "a regular" to not use personal attacks, or to assume good faith, result in them doing the opposite, or do we trust them to react to templates maturely, like a true "regular" would?

A caution message on a user's talk page isn't the end of the world. If it was, we wouldn't have reformed vandals. We wouldn't have massive amounts of GFDL photography that users went and captured to overcome fair use issues. We wouldn't have many of the great things we have on Wikipedia because someone steered a user in the right direction back when it counted: when they were new, and when they made mistakes. They weren't "a regular" then, but because of the good advice they received, they became "a regular". If they ever forget it, do the best you can to remind them of their old, good habits: if you can't write persuasively, template them!

See also[edit]