It's important to preface this close by reminding all participants that Wikipedia is not a democracy
and that we follow a policy of consensus
. This means that the closers should take into account more than just the amount of yeas and nays, but also the strength of the argument put forward by each editor. The same argument will often be repeated by multiple editors, as to show they agree with each other, and in cases like that !votes
may be counted to help assert which side raised the most compelling points.
While most experienced editors are already familiar with what makes for a strong argument, this RfC saw a large influx of new editors, most of whom are readers who wanted to make their voices heard. Many of these readers are not familiar with Wikipedia's policy of consensus. The strongest arguments are those based on our policies and guidelines, while the weakest are those based on subjective opinion, and here is where we should start our discussion. This request for comment came soon after the change of the default skin, and many !votes were based on personal opinions about how Vector 2022 was better or worse than Vector 2010. While these are usually considered weaker arguments, they were not entirely discarded but were not given as much weight as other points.
There was an extensive discussion of the surveys and research presented by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) to support the proposed changes. While some participants believe the surveys organized by the WMF were skewed positively toward the new skin (such as by removing answers containing foul language), others saw the surveys as a reason to support the deployment of the skin. Those in favor of maintaining Vector 2022 also commented on the fact that the skin has been active on a number of smaller Wikipedias with varying degrees of acceptance.
As some participants noted, it's likely that very few of those commenting in this RfC have any experience with UI design and, as such, the opinions presented here are only that, opinions. The only concrete facts we have are the studies presented by some, which, for the most part, agreed with the changes brought by the new Vector.
Another point of contention was the fact that, while it is trivial for registered users to change back to the old skin if they dislike the changes, unregistered users do not enjoy that option. Many of those supporting the rollback were sympathetic editors who saw this as problematic. The only refutation offered to this was that the new skin was shown to be, according to the aforementioned studies and surveys, an improvement for readers, especially due to the reduced text width.
One of the most common points raised by those supporting the rollback to Vector 2010 was related to all the problems, bugs, and other issues that showed up when the new skin was deployed. Some of these problems were known since the previous RfC, which happened late last year, with the closing statement making it clear that the deployment of Vector 2022 depended on some of these problems being fixed beforehand. Many participants saw this as a failure by the WMF to follow our procedures.
Throughout the discussion, users posted links to Phabricator tickets showing that many of the problems being complained about were being worked on. During the time the RfC remained open, WMF employees also posted several replies, which included a list of concerns they had addressed and would be addressing in the future. Not only did these fixes mean the WMF eventually managed to comply with the conditions of the previous RfC's close, but it also raised the question of how strong each of the !votes focused exclusively on these issues were.
That is not to say that those opposing the rollback presented solely strong arguments. Besides the "I like it" style !votes, there were also fait accompli (or sunk cost fallacy) arguments, meaning that, since the change has already happened, there is no point in going back. Some also argued that choices like this are outside the community’s hands, per WP:CONEXCEPT.
At first glance, we have a clear numerical advantage for those supporting the rollback to the old skin, but many of these !votes were based exclusively on specific issues with Vector 2022, such as fixed text width, the large amount of whitespace, and the overuse of icons, as well as some accessibility issues. Others commented on bugs they encountered while using the skin. The WMF has fixed several of these issues–for example, the fixed width toggle not persisting–and more changes are likely to come.
Taking into account all that has been discussed above, we see no consensus to rollback the default skin on the English Wikipedia to Vector 2010. While those in support of rolling back had a numerical majority, their arguments were relatively weak and the WMF's changes to Vector 2022 since its deployment has addressed the concerns of many. Since we see the changes made by the WMF as compliance with the previous RfC, this means the previous close stands.
With regards to the second question presented in this RfC, arguments presented by both sides were very similar to the first question, in that some like the new limited width and others do not. Some of those supporting an unlimited width noted that many articles contain galleries, tables, etc., and were negatively affected by the new width. There was a lot of discussion on whether scientific papers reached any form of consensus on the best width, with both sides presenting studies with opposing views on the issue. The large amount of whitespace was one of the main concerns of those who supported the rollback of Vector 2022. Since the arguments are equal in strength, there is rough consensus to make unlimited width the default.
As we well know, consensus can change, and one of the suggestions made during this discussion was to open a new RfC in six months' time, after readers and editors have had time to adjust to the new skin. Editors interested should try and work alongside the WMF to acquire statistics, such as additional surveys, that could be used as the basis for the new RfC. This would also allow for more focused questions to be asked to participants, such as how to present the table of contents, one of the more contentious changes to the design, or if the default width should remain as is or be changed back to fixed-width.
Isabelle Belato 🏳🌈 01:46, 16 March 2023 (UTC)
— Ingenuity (talk • contribs) 01:47, 16 March 2023 (UTC)