Wikipedia:Simple userbox solution

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The Simple userbox solution to the userbox controversy is to declare that userboxes named Template:User userbox are just fine and have the same protection as userboxes created in user space.
No really new policy is needed to do this, and this is not a policy proposal. Just go ahead and do it.

Quick summary[edit]

The Simple solution involves leaving userbox templates (such as "Template:User Christian") right where they are. That's it!

The basis[edit]

See also Occam's razor and Wikipedia:Jimbo on Userboxes

The middle ground is to let people do as they will in the user space, and merely use reason and argument to teach people over time why one ought not use Wikipedia userpages for political or other campaigns.... while at the same time saying, no, really, the template namespace is not for that, that we do not endorse this behavior. This is the solution that the Germans have put into effect with great results. Jimbo Wales, May 27, 2006

A logical extension of Jimbo's thoughts is that the specific "place" where userboxes are collected for such an on-going eduction is irrelevant. We can still say that there is just this one little corner of the template namespace that we want all userboxes to be in. It would actually make it a whole lot easier to accomplish the objective of teaching people over time, because they will actually be in one place.

It seems that the separate namespace issue won't fly. And I think that's right because I think it fails to address the heart of the matter, which is whether or not official wikipedia pages and/or namespaces ought to encourage factionalism.

But it seems that the namespace proposal goes a bit further than what you need to achieve what you want to achieve. Let me quote you on something: "The text of Wikipedia:Userbox policy poll is filled with what one can and cannot say, specifically, "All userbox templates that show a POV or are not directly related to wikipedia will be deleted after a period of time. Note that a user subpage that is transcluded without substitution by multiple users is considered a 'template'". This is like saying, "You may have pamphlets, but you may not mechanically print and distribute them. This is not an infringement of free speech". To put it kindly, this is counter-intuitive.

Suppose we omit the bit about user subpages transcluded without substitution? If we do that, then a certain amount of userboxing can go on no problem, but outside the officially sanctioned spaces. This respects our long tradition of allowing wide latitude on userspace stuff, while at the same time keeping these userboxes out of officially sanctioned areas which would suggest to new users that this is an official thing that one ought to be doing. There would still be restrictions on the range of possible userboxes, of course, but this is not different from the restriction on all manner of things people might put on their userpages already. Jimbo Wales, March 17, 2006

Again, there is no reason why this logic cannot extend to the Template:User designation.

Guiding principles[edit]

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Userboxes can be of a clear value to the encyclopedia-building project. Examples include those related to claiming professional or academic expertise, WikiProject affiliations, and claiming access to specialized resources and a willingness to conduct research using them upon request. Templates for these userboxes could stay in template space. Same goes for unencyclopedic userbox templates. Controversial userbox templates could be moved to user space to avoid being constantly 'warred upon' by well-meaning admins.
  • Compromise is the source of community. Without compromise and consensus, a "community" would merely be a group of individuals who sometimes happen to share the same goals. Both sides on the userbox issue act in best faith and firm belief that their viewpoint is the "right" one. Meeting in the middle, the will to compromise, is what is required from both to solve the problem. Before embarking on an action that could be thought of as controversial, consider how the issue might be addressed in a true community.
  • Ambiguity allows misinterpretation. Making vague rules and relying on common sense to resolve conflicts is only viable when the issues covered are perceived similary by a large majority of the participants. The userbox issue has proven to contain many entirely different viewpoints. Thus any attempt to resolve it should be simple and precise.

An alternative[edit]

If it really is so important that the userboxes be in userspace, we can simply use the naming convention: User:UBX/<userboxname>.

Migration of the Userboxes[edit]

  • A key feature of this solution is that long-standing practice has placed most userboxes there already, so little or no migration is needed.
  • A suggested naming convention for userboxes is "Template:User <Userbox name>".
  • Userboxes currently listed at Category:User templates (and its subcategories) should continue to be listed there.

After the Migration[edit]

  • A directory of userboxes similar to Wikipedia:Userboxes should be created in a central place to allow interested users to find them easily and to have some ability for standardization of how a particular interest is expressed.[?]
  • Userboxes and their "templates" in Template:User are allowed to be POV and to reflect personal beliefs or interests. However, that may not establish an open license.
  • They still must conform with the basic Wikipedia policies and guidelines, especially WP:NPA, WP:COPY and WP:USER. WP:SENSE is encouraged.
  • When userboxes are part of Template:User, deletions should by carried out by WP:MfD if the need arises. These userboxes may be subject to the broad interpretation of the T1 criterion for speedy deletion that has been applied in the past if they are in template space. (See this deletion review.) However, rulings by the Arbitration Committee suggest that userboxes falling under the T1 criteria that are in userspace may still be speedy deleted by administrators (see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Tony Sidaway#Recreated content regarding userboxes that have already been speedy deleted under T1; see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Tony Sidaway#Polemical or inflammatory userboxes may be speedily deleted for the ruling on T1 application). This precedent would certainly require a policy proposal to be made and agreed to (via consensus) for the Simple solution to permit T1-criteria userboxes in Template:User.
  • Users are permitted to use the userboxes on any user pages, by transclusion, substitutiton, or copying the raw code, whichever they prefer. Making this an agreed upon solution would remove the perceived "endorsement" of userboxes by Wikipedia, which seems to be an issue for some editors.


  • All userboxes, whether in user or template space, should be added to Category:User templates or one of its subcategories.

Other discussions[edit]