Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)

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Proposal to remove "rearrangement of text" from definition of minor edit.[edit]

It is currently suggested on Help:Minor_edit to mark rearrangement of text without modification of the content as a minor edit. I am suggesting removing this, because content prominence management is more controversial than ever before with only the lede showing up by default on mobile browsing and the desire of interested editors to control prominence of contents. The location of text within article can often be a highly contentious dispute even if the meaning doesn't change and I am suggesting no longer recommending rearrangement of text as minor. Graywalls (talk) 22:48, 11 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Support - per Graywalls' statement, the location of text can be significant. Also not that the "rearrangement of text" is only mentioned in the "rule of thumb" last paragraph, but not mentioned in the preceding descriptive text. Mitch Ames (talk) 00:55, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Assuming you're referring to the last paragraph of the lead, the issue is that the rule of thumb mentioned there isn't restricted – as it should be – to non-contentious edits. Suggest adding "non-contentious" to the opening words, so that the sentence reads A good rule of thumb is that non-contentious edits consisting solely of spelling corrections, formatting changes, or rearrangement of text without modification of the content should be flagged as minor edits. MichaelMaggs (talk) 08:51, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The original phrase "rearrangement of text without modification of the content" seems self-contradictory, as one cannot "rearrange" something without modifying it. The original wording is nonsensical. I presume what was intended, was "rearrangement of text without modification of the meaning". Mathglot (talk) 20:15, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think it is intended to mean "without changing any non-space characters". But, regardless, the whole page is so unclear it's not surprising that editors disagree about how to use the feature. I Oppose the proposal as written and also any broadening the scope of minor edits to "without modification of the meaning". But I Support a collaborative effort to re-write the page entirely. MichaelMaggs (talk) 07:52, 20 August 2023 (UTC) Based on subsequent arguments, I've changed my view to "throw it all away", and I've voted for that separately below. MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:06, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support — There are quite a few edit wars over the placement of text. A particularly prevalent example is when text is moved in and out of the lead section. Zerotalk 09:08, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Indeed. In addition to my proposal above, it would help a lot if it were to be stated clearly somewhere on the page that moving text between the lead and the body of an article, in either direction, never counts as a minor edit. MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:02, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It doesn't have to involve movement between body and lede to be major. There are multiple ways within the body to move things around so flattering items are placed prominently while unflattering things are buried in the haystack. An example of reputation management edit by a suspected public relations editor is changing the arbitration break, such as changing from 2010-2020, 2020 to current: to 2010-2015, 2015-current in order to make unflattering things go away from the latest history section. Graywalls (talk) 21:55, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose as per MichaelMaggs's concerns. While there are certainly contentious movings of text, an awful lot of what I see is things like fixing the order of a alphabetized or date-based list, where small errors are common and the minor status is appropriate. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 20:54, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Apparently having information in the second section of the lead instead of the first sentence can be equivalent to covering for rapists[1] and protecting convicted child molesters/rapists[2], so it is clearly not minor. There can be an exception for rearranging alphabetically, by date, or similar neutral criteria. -- Random person no 362478479 (talk) 21:11, 12 August 2023 (UTC) Edit: I would not be opposed to getting rid of the entire minor edit system as proposed by others. -- Random person no 362478479 (talk) 19:57, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose The purpose of minor edits is to mark changes that have negligible chance of creating controversy. While rearranging text might be controversial in some cases, in many cases, it's indeed a minor edit. Moving content into or out of the lead probably shouldn't be minor, but moving a clearly misplaced paragraph between sections is a textbook minor edit. The Quirky Kitty (talk) 01:53, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment - I have seen huge edit wars over “minor” edits. Thus, there are times when I think we should scrap the entire system of classifying edits as major or minor. It isn’t serving it’s intended purpose.
Then I remember how many times I have seen bad faith editors attempt to “hide” major changes by marking them as minor, and I realize that the marking is useful in a way NOT intended - it tells me that I need to pay EXTRA attention to any edit so marked. Blueboar (talk) 21:41, 12 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Took the words right out of my mouth. The only time in practice that "minor" edits can be ignored is when they are performed by the small fraction of long-standing editors one has learned to never play this type of game. Zerotalk 05:43, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Unfortunately, editors who are working professional in the capacity of client marketing communications and prominence management are excellent gamers of system. Graywalls (talk) 07:16, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support If editors are "fixing the order of a alphabetized or date-based list, where small errors are common", then sure, mark those edits as minor; but the 'good rule of thumb' sentence shouldn't state so plainly that "rearrangement of text without modification of the content should be flagged as minor edits" (emphasis mine), since possible WP:NPOV/WP:WEIGHT violations will be marked as "minor". Per WP:NPOV: Undue weight can be given in several ways, including ... prominence of placement, the juxtaposition of statements.... Some1 (talk) 02:26, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose (but support potential rewrite) First of all, if the major/minor distinction is important, then the mobile platform should support it. Second, when I rehab bad machine translation, word order is a big part of what I am fixing. Usually this is within the same sentence mind you, but I think there aren't enough use cases in the proposal, and it *is* "rearranging text". Third, I too have seen SEO-like efforts to get certain things in the lede, and support specifically excluding moves into and out of the lede from being called minor. Those are not minor edits. If it comes to rearranging sentence order or paragraph order, at best this is a rewrite for organization and probably not minor either, but that's discussable, I guess. Really though, if the mobile platform doesn't need it why does anyone else? Especially as it's so often abused. Elinruby (talk) 06:21, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If in doubt, it should always be a non-minor edit. Not being able to flag as minor is not an issue like those who edit for PR purposes that intentionally utilize minor edits to evade scrutiny and reduce the attention their edits get. We're increasing seeing things like name drops, office locations, as well as awards/accolades/honors in lede, because these are often things article subject wants to highlight and be part of the first impression. Graywalls (talk) 07:13, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I understand the problem and when I saw it, it was a determined attempt to insert into the lede a claim being actively touted by Russian propaganda outlets, so yes, I understand that SEO is often at work with these. My suggestion however is still to rewrite the wording, but in a different way rather than making a blanket prohibition.
As far as the mobile platform goes, I also get it that the stereotype of mobile users is not good and may in some cases be justified. I just...see so much drama over this on the dramah boards that I can't help but ask why the 'minor edit" distinction is needed. Of course you and I know that it avoids wasting editor time, but that's not a priority on en-wikipedia, is it? But don't let my cynicism hijack your thread. I think the wording should change, just not the way you are proposing. Are you specifically interested in the lede moves, or can you enunciate another situation where this is a problem? Elinruby (talk) 11:22, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose but I think Mathglot got it right to suggest, "rearrangement of text without modification of the meaning". When I read the text in question, I see it as rearranging within the same sentence, like moving, "spelling corrections, formatting changes, or rearrangement of text" to "formatting changes, rearrangement of text, or spelling corrections". I would mark that as minor. Cuñado ☼ - Talk 18:50, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So you'd support it with re-write? Graywalls (talk) 19:00, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If I'm reading the room right, you correctly identified a problem and it seems like changing "content" to "meaning" in the sentence is a no-brainer that addresses most of the issue. Removing "rearrangement" is split. Cuñado ☼ - Talk 19:10, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support I had always taken "without modification of the content" to mean changes to white space. Would oppose an expansion to "meaning". Hawkeye7 (discuss) 19:14, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, but alter the text to "rearrangement of text without modification of the meaning" to repair the nonsense. Even though I would probably only mark it "minor" when done within the same sentence and had considered recommending inserting " the same sentence", on reflection I think that's too restrictive, and it would be better to leave it out and let such things be decided by consensus on a case by case basis, as long as it's clear that the slightest change to meaning means it is not minor. Mathglot (talk) 19:21, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw the whole system away It's my experience that this topic always causes more heat than light. There are some examples above about how minor edits may draw even more scrutiny, and I remember this entertaining ANI thread where someone got yelled at for marking page moves as minor, when it turns out that MediaWiki always marks page moves as minor. And Twinkle automatically marks revision restorations rollbacks are marked as minor, which is probably one of the least minor edits one can make. Ironically, I just did a bunch of copyediting on an article yesterday and the only edit that I did mark minor was rearrangement of text, so idk. If people still really think this is valuable, then in my imaginary techno-utopia, a bot would perform semantic analysis on each edit and do the marking for us. Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 20:00, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I've long since stopped marking anything I do as minor. I know it's just one click on the checkbox, but even that minimal amount of effort doesn't seem justified by the pointlessness of bothering. RoySmith (talk) 20:20, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There was a discussion about getting rid of "minor" last March/April, but reactions were mixed. Schazjmd (talk) 20:45, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Twinkle doesn't mark my restore edits as minor, and my configuration shouldn't be anything special. See here. Dhtwiki (talk) 01:42, 19 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You're right; I meant the default rollback functionality that rollbackers have, which I erroneously conflated with Twinkle's simulation of such. It's documented on the rollback page that these actions are all marked as minor; example here. Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 00:00, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. I've brought this idea up before at Idea lab. There is a sizeable fraction of editors when asked who are ready to scrap the whole idea of a minor edits and that's very promising because as I explained in the thread, it is a software design mistake. Unfortunately, removal of features in a community project faces an uphill battle because there's something like "feature inertia" where once a feature exists it's hard to remove it without upsetting some people. But overall I think the editors in favor of keeping the minor edit feature made pretty weak arguments why. Since the idea that the minor edit box should be removed is still novel idea and not often brought up, I think the concept needs to be seeded around more before any action is likely to occur; otherwise, it's too shocking a change and there'd be many people opposing by knee-jerk opposes or very hollow "I use it" arguments. Jason Quinn (talk) 21:07, 18 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Jason Quinn, on the assumption that getting rid of it isn't possible, would you be interested in a system that restricts is availability to more experienced editors? Alternatively, we could request a config change so that minor edits aren't hidden by default. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:39, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Even if it's limited to experienced editors, it needs to be a revokable privilege for them as well. But just doing away with it may be better. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 04:41, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, edits marked as hide from scrutinyminor should not be hidden by default. —Kusma (talk) 08:31, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @WhatamIdoing: No. I don't think it should be restricted to experienced users. The problem with the minor edit checkbox is fundamental: It's just an ill-defined semantically-relative concept. Even when well-used "correctly" by an experienced editor, the edits they mark as minor my not be viewed as such by others. The minor edit checkbox is mostly the illusion of a feature and does very little useful. This idea of limiting its availability would make it less prevalent on the project and perhaps slightly increase its value when used but not solve any of the core issues it has. If anything I fear such a change would just prevent its eventual removal. Jason Quinn (talk) 04:32, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The main use seems to be hiding simple reversions from watchlists. (I have that setting disabled, so I still see them.) There seem to be some people who appreciate this, but it might be possible to hide the button for manual reversions and still allow it for bots or Twinkle. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:38, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support – Even moves within paragraphs establish context that wasn't there before, and such edits can stand to be scrutinized by other editors, even though I'm usually making such moves in articles that have real coherency problems and don't provoke POV disputes with such edits. My edits are limited to being marked as minor when they are bot-assisted, such as with JWB, which seems to be a convenient use for the tag. Dhtwiki (talk) 03:38, 19 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, the definition of "minor edit" should be made to conform to reality: A "minor edit" is one where the "minor edit" checkbox has been ticked. I don't think this is a useful feature, but we should not waste any time on it. —Kusma (talk) 08:15, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. The cognitive load costs of the system outweighs the minor benefits (pun not intended). It's really only marginally useful when filtering the contributions of a non-bot editor you already trust who also happens to make a lot of minor edits, which does happen but is very rare. I agree with some of the discussion above making the ability to mark edits as minor a grantable and revocable privelege. —siroχo 09:51, 20 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw the whole system away The minor edit thing has always been pointless, and a pointless source of drama, for all of Wikipedia's history. It's only purpose is to give people a reason to attack people who don't follow arcane and pointless rules about its use. If it didn't exist, nothing bad would happen except that people would stop having a reason to complain about its misuse. --Jayron32 11:13, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away Per above. I also don't agree with the idea that the minor edit system isn't harmless—its use is often the source of pointless debate, it's used as a way for disruptive editors to escape scrutiny, and is a constant source of confusion for new editors. ~ F4U (talkthey/it) 19:24, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away Minor edits are too often used to try to conceal changes that prove controversial. Agree with Jayron32 and Freedom4U.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:17, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. Minor edits as a concept have passed their usefulness. Stifle (talk) 12:37, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. I commented above, but I might as well do the bolded-bulleted thing to make it official. I've also started a thread at WP:VPT#Deprecating minor edits?. RoySmith (talk) 14:11, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. I initially suggested a revision to the text, but based on later arguments (now supported by five admins), I agree it's best to get rid of the whole thing. MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:06, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •  Comment: The title of this section is Proposal to remove "rearrangement of text" from definition of minor edit. If full deprecation is to be proposed, that probably needs to be set up as a proper RFC with a better title, and with pings to the editors who contributed to the March/April discussion. MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:16, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw whole system away. It is so common for those not editing in good faith to mark an edit as minor when it is not, that most edits need to be looked at if they are from an unfamiliar editor. Also, many honest mistakes are made in classifying edits as regular or minor. The few times it can be useful do not justify the overhead of the system. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:19, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw the whole system away. If I've ever used this feature myself, it hasn't been for a very long time. It doesn't impact the likelihood of me taking a closer look one whit, either.~TPW 14:45, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab)/Archive 48#Completely remove the idea of a "minor edit" Edits marked m are frequently not. Selfstudier (talk) 15:05, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment: Minor edits are used by bots to suppress pings in talk page edits, and of course that functionality shouldn't be removed. (This was brought up at the VPT thread, but bears mentioning here.) — Qwerfjkltalk 21:16, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There's a bot flag that should be used for that purpose. RoySmith (talk) 01:42, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You're right, I was mistaken. As a bot op I should really remember this stuff. — Qwerfjkltalk 21:22, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @RoySmith: There's no check in the code allowing the bot flag to suppress the page edit notifications, there's only the check for minor edits and the nominornewtalk user right. Anomie 23:25, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I support attaching weights to the feature and throwing it in the ocean, but really this should be being addressed with a full, dedicated RfC. ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 21:21, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strong oppose But listen, guys, you can't propose a major change that affects hundreds of thousands of users in a non-RfC that has not been advertised anywhere. InfiniteNexus (talk) 22:31, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    People can propose anything they want anywhere. It will need to go through a proper RfC to be enacted, but that doesn't mean people can't talk about it here. RoySmith (talk) 01:43, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Is there more that needs to be done before such an RFC? If not, then why not have one? Wehwalt (talk) 01:53, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Once the RfC is opened, please advertise this in as many places as possible. The vast majority of editors don't have the Village pumps on their watchlists, or even Centralized discussion and whatnot. Doing away with minor edits — a terrible idea, but I'll save it for the RfC — is a huge change (akin to the Vector 2022 catastrophe) that literally affects almost everyone who edits Wikipedia. InfiniteNexus (talk) 03:40, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Given that it would necessitate (small) software (setting?) changes it might be a good idea to check in with the people at MediaWiki (or whoever is responsible for which features to use on a particular wiki). -- Random person no 362478479 (talk) 17:49, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Random person no 362478479, see WP:VPT#Deprecating minor edits? RoySmith (talk) 17:52, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • While I get that some people don't find it useful, others do. An RFC to enable editors to opt out of the minor edit button process would likely succeed. If we had that then those who see no benefit in it could opt out, and those of us who make lots of minor edits could continue to do so without some people knowing whether they were flagged as minor or not. ϢereSpielChequers 19:06, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment It is true that "throw it away" discussion is more general than the title of this topic so it isn't appropriate for any action being taken on minor edits outside the scope of the "rearrangement of text" issue. "Throw it all away" is also a change that requires deep thought and consideration by the devs. The reason the discussion widened is because this topic itself is the kind of discussion created by the confusing nature of what a "minor" edit is. In that sense, the OP's discussion could be viewed as evidence that minor edits have a deeper issue going on. But several things should be pointed out: the arguments against minor edit aren't a purely English wiki problem, it applies to all languages. So ideally no English language only patch-up is made. This deserves a very wide discussion. Applying CSS tweaks and stuff on a single wiki isn't not solving the problem but sweeping it under the rug. Clearly, a much bigger discussion should be had. I'm also reading some of the technical comments being made at VPT and those comments are also very valuable. I think what this thread is on course to establish is that A) there is very strong sentiment against "minor" edits, B) the arguments in favor of keeping minor edits are fairly weak, and C) a serious RFC on removing "minor edits" is justifiable and should be viewed seriously by more than just the English wiki community (eg by other languages, devs and WMF). Jason Quinn (talk) 21:02, 31 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    As an ex-dev, removing a check box is not something that "requires deep thought and consideration by the devs"; in fact, it's the kind of easy learning task one might give to a new dev to learn the wmf environment. Maybe you meant, "requires deep thought by the business unit", but I would disagree with that, too. As far as, "the arguments against minor edit aren't a purely English wiki problem", yes, they are. Or at least, any decision to remove/restrict/alter them at en-wiki is purely an en-wiki issue; we have our rules, other Wikipedias have their rules (other than a common ToU). When one foreign Wikipedia decided to ban all edits from IP users, that was a decision made by consensus there, and implemented by the devs; it didn't affect en-wiki, or anybody else. What we do here at en-wiki about minor edits need not, should not, and I daresay will not affect any other wiki. Mathglot (talk) 02:56, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    See Wikipedia:Village_pump_(technical)#Deprecating_minor_edits? for the technical aspects. -- Random person no 362478479 (talk) 12:51, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The minor edit flag is a courtesy feature. If someone is misusing it, call them out. If you're not interested in it, ignore it. We've had it for 22 years and if it wasn't useful, it would have been removed long before. The energy on display in this discussion (and several nearly identical ones before it) from the detractors would be better spent on lobbying the developers to add a preference for not seeing the minor edit marker.  — Scott talk 00:31, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    ↑↑ This. InfiniteNexus (talk) 02:41, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Calling people out on it -- the policing of minor edits -- consumes some reasonable amount of effort, whether it is teaching newbies about what a minor edit is or trying to turn someone over for the abuse of the system. I have yet to see any assertion of an actual usefulness here that is larger than the effort this drains. The idea that we would have gotten rid of something in place is a bit utopian at heart, and doesn't reflect that it takes building up a certain energy to get rid of it. If gotten rid of, people would still be able to type MINOR EDIT in their edit comment if they thought that was important to announce. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 04:08, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    "A bit utopian at heart" is the original spirit of this entire project! Minor edits were invented for the WikiWikiWeb, which I used to edit before Wikipedia existed. At the time (really sounding like Grandpa Simpson here) edit summaries and diffs didn't exist, so it was a useful way of telling your colleagues that the edit you'd just made wasn't something which would require much effort to assess. It was a small community that operated on a lot of trust. That flag got picked up when the UseModWiki engine was developed, which also implemented edit summaries, and then both of those were carried over into MediaWiki. At that point, the flag became very much like you describe, a way of saying "MINOR EDIT" but without having to type it every time. The effort of "policing" it, though, shouldn't be any more than the effort of reviewing any other edit in the course of your activity. Every edit gets reviewed, either immediately by a bot or filter, or eventually by a person. It's a person's job to decide whether an editor was truthful in their summary. We've all seen people write "fix typo" but actually add bad content, or similar. That's a problem which requires intervention. If anything, the minor edit flag gives people who are going to do that a way to make their bad behavior even more obvious. When you consider the flag as just a shortcut for typing some extra words in the summary, the apparent extra effort of reviewing it evaporates. I spend a lot of time looking through article histories for things - being able to scroll past a lot of minor edits and find significant changes is useful. When you look at it that way, the minor edit flag is a little helper for the people who come after you, much like an edit summary is in general.  — Scott talk 10:01, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I also edited WikiWikiWeb back in the day, and they thought that camel case was a great idea. And ironically, that project became a hub for a software management philosophy where suggestions like "well it's been around for decades so let's just keep it" would fall short. This discussion is about how the flag is used now. Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 01:24, 11 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If you think the ability to mark an edit as minor is harmful or even just useless, then you think it means more than it does. It doesn't, of course, mean that the edit itself was indeed minor. You can choose to trust that an edit marked minor was actually minor or not, the same as you may or may not trust an edit summary that says "Fixed typo". What you can be sure of, though, is that its author asserted that it was minor. And that piece of information is still useful regardless of whether you know whether the content of the edit was indeed minor; for example, when compiling a list of authors for attribution. (In particular, whether the minor flag was asserted is one of the few pieces of information the WMF makes publicly, if inconveniently, available for deleted edits.) I'll certainly grant, though, that there's excellent reason to disable the option to hide minor edits from watchlists and recent changes as being fundamentally misleading. —Cryptic 03:42, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If many of us recognize that many people think it means something other than what it means, and it's this up-front feature presented to every editor on every desktop edit, I feel that's indicative of a problem. —siroχo 10:31, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It is useful to know if an editor cannot or will not appropriately use minor. Misunderstanding such a simple thing is an indication that further investigation is needed. Johnuniq (talk) 02:46, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Right, if you guys want to get rid of edit "indicators", you should start with the canned edit summaries in the mobile app that newbies abuse all the time. InfiniteNexus (talk) 23:06, 6 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Right; if you provide convenience features, there's always going to be someone who uses them wrongly. That's unfortunately just a fact of life for some reason. Sometimes you just have to go knock on your neighbor's door and ask them to stop putting regular trash into the recycling bin. That's better than taking away the recycling bin entirely because it's being misused.  — Scott talk 10:47, 10 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Drop the whole "minor edit" system It's purpose is to say "no need to review this edit" but nobody can trust that an editor making a problematic or controversial edit would not also misidentify it as a minor edit. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 19:52, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I have no strong opinion on the particulars here but the text that started off this RFC was originally added in this edit in 2003. I'm only mentioning this because I noted it in a tangent relating to this ANI discussion. Graham87 (talk) 08:09, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • TNT "minor edits" and salt the earth. Once upon a time, it was useful. Now that Wikipedia is older and the clay has hardened, the system is of marginal benefit at best, and subject to abuse at worst. More often than not, it's the worst. Duly signed, WaltClipper -(talk) 17:05, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support, this is one of those things which should be common sense but as they say common sense isn't common and this now often provides cover to rogues. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:08, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Drop tyranny of the "minor[ity] edit" system..if I wanted to be WP:POINTY I would refactor the comments here and mark them as minor, but I am not a jerk. Routine edits are welcome/fine, but the risk of major changes being cloaked is too high. ~ 🦝 Shushugah (he/him • talk) 19:07, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Neutral about text rearrangement, but do not remove the minor edit facility completely. Editors like me noticed this RfC about text rearrangement start, skimmed it and decided that it could safely be ignored. You can't now repurpose this RfC behind our backs to approve (or reject) the much more devastating change of removing the minor edit facility entirely. Certes (talk) 19:20, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Note Formal close request at WP:CR. InfiniteNexus (talk) 19:26, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Seconding what Certes wrote. I'd ignored this as I don't care either way about the original question. I use mark as minor a great deal, as a lot of my edits are very minor copy edits that don't require oversight. I assume it saves other editors time not having to bother reviewing my changes. Espresso Addict (talk) 22:51, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree with this completely, and with Scott's analogy to misused recycling bins above. What benefit does the project get from edits like changes to hatnote italicisation, typo correction or disambiguation being marked as equally significant to major content changes? Thryduulf (talk) 08:51, 28 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Thryduulf: none, but the issue is you can't trust a user's own designation of how significant their edit is or not. People will disagree, and then start user talk or AN discussions over it. Or worse, people will actually trust that "minor" means minor, and hide these changes from a watchlist, etc. More sophisticated editors will realise minor means little, so they'll keep them on their watchlist, at which point it's not too helpful. Ultimately, see evil bit.
    The best way to assert the significance of an edit is via the edit summary. In your examples, the edit summary clearly conveys the significance of the edit. (aside, I would argue in some cases a "typo correction" can be controversial.) ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 13:47, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The "minor" flag is a claim about the nature of the edit. If it appears on a contribution from an editor I trust, I ignore the edit because I can be confident that there will be no problem there for me to deal with. It's almost part of the edit summary (ES); I treat it just as if they'd used an ES such as "typo". I admit that the "minor" flag has less value when used by unknown editors or known vandals, but that's also true of the ES (one can fill a BLP with libel and call it a typo) and I hope no one is planning to abolish the ES. Certes (talk) 16:43, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Within the context of minor edits I could go both ways on the original question, but looking at the broader issue being raised, if some of the best uses of the minor edit system are to evaluate newer users and honeypot vandals, then perhaps it's not a useful system to keep around. Would support a config change to deemphasise the tag or anything similar. CMD (talk) 04:36, 28 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Throw the whole system away per Siroxo. In addition, too often I see new editors being confused over the "minor edit" system and the system is only helpful with regards to skipping edits by the small fraction of long-standing editors. ThatIPEditor Talk · Contribs 13:19, 30 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

RfC: Automatically semi-protect Today's Featured Article[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should WP:SEMI be amended to add something to the effect of "Today's Featured Article (TFA) is always semi-protected from the day before it is featured on the Main Page through the day after."? – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 01:40, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rationale: This is a change that's already been brought into effect on most days thanks to the valiant efforts of Courcelles, and one that is long overdue. While in the early days of Wikipedia people might not have known that it was something any old schmuck could edit, these days it's such a cultural mainstay that the benefits of letting our "parlor" be accessible and tweakable by all is far outweighed by the costs of letting vandals replace our most visible page with "poop shid fard xD". I understand that the FAC crowd can run into issues of stodgy Toryism and that can possibly motivate opposers, but the months-long "trial run" of Courcelles already semi-protecting TFAs a day in advance has caused no complaints and no major issues, and saved many headaches from vandal-reverters; those good-faith editors who are needed to mildly tweak articles that have already undergone rigorous review can wait until they become confirmed.

All in all, this is something that should have been done years ago and has already has local consensus at TFA. Hopefully the fire has gone out of this decades-long debate, but in any case I feel like it is high time to implement this change. (Also, any specific details like how long it should be protected outside of its Featured Day is fine; I don't want the best to be the enemy of the good here.) – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 21:36, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Some relevant links. Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/TFA Protector Bot 3, prior RFC for a trial, and some analysis of that trial. Courcelles (talk) 21:41, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support as proposer. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 21:36, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per User:TFA Protector Bot/Semi-protection trial, as I discussed at WT:TFA. Some prominent examples there:
    • Yusuf I of Granada received four oversighted edits in four minutes before being semiprotected
    • Streets (song) received six revdelled edits in one minute before being semiprotected
    • Rachel Dyer (semiprotected for the second half of its TFA period) received three oversighted edits and 14 generic vandalism edits in its unprotected period
    • Between every not-automatically-semiprotected article in the experiment, there were thirty not-reverted-that-day edits by IPs and non-autoconfirmed editors, of which six were removing vandalism (this is a quick hand count, and the page isn't easily structured for one, so this might be off) -- meaning the net of "not directly caused by vandalism" IP edits productive enough not to be reverted the same day was below the number of pre-semi vandal edits in just these three articles
  • I think the results of that experiment alone make a clear case for the benefit to the project and the relative lack of collateral damage. This is just treating edits by their raw 'outcomes' -- other specific complaints, such as the number of complaints in the WT:TFA thread about graphic sexual vandalism in particular, strengthen the case. Vaticidalprophet 21:50, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    In fact this recent me doing it manually started because hardcore porn stayed in a TFA for too long. Courcelles (talk) 21:53, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm supporting anyway, but two of your three examples fail to prove your point - if the vandal was willing to game autoconfirmed to post more oversightable/revdelable edits after manual semi-protection was applied and force the TFA to be ECP-ed then the outcome would not have been very different had the bot applied semi-protection, as you can see from the cases where the bot did semi-protect around the same time. * Pppery * it has begun... 02:16, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support the rare useful edit we might get is not worth the cost of showing readers grossly vandalized articles. Courcelles (talk) 21:55, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. TFA's have always been suspect to vandalism and other nonsensical edits for as long as I have been editing, and semi-protecting for a few days will go a long way to clear up this issue. The Night Watch (talk) 21:59, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support as a sensible measure to protect the readers' experience. Schazjmd (talk) 22:04, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. This has been long in the works, tracing back to the pending-changes trial two-and-a-half years ago at this point. The anti-vandalism benefits of semi-protection are clear, and I'll leave it to others to analyze those. But I want to focus in on the potential downside, which is that, as the "encyclopedia anyone can edit," we want to keep editing rights as open as possible to invite newcomers. As someone who focuses on newcomer aid, this is something I care about a lot. And I submit for consideration that a TFA is a terrible place for a newcomer to start editing. TFAs are high-quality, recently updated featured articles. By definition, they are considered essentially complete, and to the extent that they have flaws, they are generally things that only experienced editors can spot. So what is the newcomer experience editing them? It's the experience of changing something, and then getting rapidly reverted, because the thing didn't actually need changing, since it's a featured article. That's a bitey experience, no matter how polite the revert. So semi-protection is not just a boon for readers, who will encounter less vandalism, and for experienced editors, who will have less to patrol, but also for newcomers, who will be redirected toward friendlier waters to dip their toes into editing. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 22:11, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Clearly sensible proposal. SportingFlyer T·C 22:12, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • (edit conflict) Support. Abso-bad wording-lutely. Prevents LTAs and just random teenagers from vandalizing a very highly visible part of Wikipedia. CLYDE TALK TO ME/STUFF DONE 22:18, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm in favor of this, but let's not anybody fool ourselves - it won't decrease the total amount of vandalism, and maybe not even the number of times our readers see vandalism; it's going to make it harder for us to find and revert. Some of it'll spill over to pages linked from TFA; some to other pages linked from the main page; some of it to random pages where - if Cluebot or some pagewatcher doesn't happen to revert it - it might stick around for days or weeks. —Cryptic 22:32, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Most vandalism is opportunistic, not complex LTA subterfuge plots. (I remember in sixth-grade-equivalent, my class was reading an article and I kept seeing vandalism coming up on it, and reverting it manually/longhand from "aha! I read a page about this, I know how to fix this"; a patroller who could act faster was very confused to come across what looked like an IP self-reverting, because all the vandals in this case were my classmates.) I'm very familiar with two of the other big-four processes (DYK and OTD), and vandalism rates for them are consistently much, much lower than TFA vandalism stats. I don't think we'll see massive overspill in the same way that most bored kids looking at an article in class are vandalising it, and not going out of their way to vandalise the third article linked instead. Vaticidalprophet 22:43, 21 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    In addition to this, the whole draw of people vandalizing the featured article, for people who are doing that, is the fact that it is extremely prominent and people are "forced" to see it. Gnomingstuff (talk) 19:27, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per above, as it seems that many TFAs already require semi-protection because of edits that need oversight, revdel, or rollback. There might be a possibility that the vandalism would just spread onto articles that are linked from the TFA blurb, but it is clear that semi-protecting the TFA would halt the worst of the damage. For example, on 23 Wall Street, it only took 14 minutes for someone to vandalize the infobox with a sexually explicit image (warning: NSFW). And somehow that edit is still fully visible in that article's revision history. Imagine how much worse it is for articles where the vandalism is so bad that it has to be RD'd or OS'd.
    I also agree with Sdkb that "a TFA is a terrible place for a newcomer to start editing". By definition, a TFA should showcase the very best work of Wikipedia, but we also encourage people to be bold, which sometimes creates a conflict. In my experience at least, newcomers' edits to TFAs often create errors even if they're editing in good faith, like this edit which created a run-on sentence that stayed for an hour. – Epicgenius (talk) 00:27, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. (EC) I help administer the main page and patrol WP:ERRORS. The issue of TFA vandalism has been brought up often enough at Errors as well as at WT:TFA that I'm all too aware for the need to be proactive in this area. Our most visible articles should simply not be available to vandals during the short period of being on the main page. Schwede66 00:29, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Quick comment: Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the RFC statement don't seem particularly neutral and brief to me, and it may be better to move those to a support !vote. WP:RFCNEUTRAL. –Novem Linguae (talk) 01:06, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support, largely per my thoughts here. "The Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit" does not mean that all articles can and should be free for anyone to edit at all times. Recent FA promotions should ideally be in good enough shape that editing by brand new editors isn't need while its on the main page; most of the prose work I've seen done to TFAs on the main page is really just a net neutral at best and a net negative much of the time. If we're really going to say as an encyclopedia that the content writers matter, than we shouldn't be taking what is theoretically some of the best and hardest-worked content we have and blinding subject it to an open season for vandalism. Hog Farm Talk 02:07, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, good point.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:10, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support since admins have been doing this unofficially for some time, in response to lame vandalism, without the protection being a problem.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:10, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    How would you know if a semi-protection was a problem? * Pppery * it has begun... 02:16, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If there were useful suggested edits showing up on the talk page, that would be an indication that semi-protection has a cost. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 02:26, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Has anyone actually done that analysis though? I didn't think to when I wrote the trial report, although I guess that there weren't that many edits obviously per talk page edit requests. * Pppery * it has begun... 02:27, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support I was skeptical of this early on, even as I was writing the trial report (which I apologize for dropping the ball on and never finishing). What finally convinced me was Sdkb's comment above, that editing the TFA would fail to provide a desirable or representative experience for new good-faith users, so all of the necessary effort separating wheat from chaff is wasted even from an idealistic perspective. * Pppery * it has begun... 02:27, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Weak Support, prefer Pending Changes Protection Instead. I second the concerns that many of the above editors have raised, though I do think that it is worth considering the possibility of semi-protecting TFA could raise the possibility of contradicting how anyone can edit Wikipedia, even if technically creating an account and staying for 10 days makes it anybody. There is the potential that this could discourage new editors from joining. It's a potential false pretense which could discourage. I would suggest we look at pending changes protection instead to mitigate this concern, as still reasonable good faith edits could be made with reviewer approval, while still allowing new users to contribute constructively as per our mission. InvadingInvader (userpage, talk) 02:36, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Pending changes protection has been shown to not work well with heavily edited pages due to the amounts of edits that can accrue if the page is not constantly watched. I don't think pending changes would work well in a potentially high-volume situation like TFA and would probably end up causing several new problems while doing little to alleviate the current ones. Hog Farm Talk 02:50, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • PC was tried for this in 2021 after initial support in an RFC. But when it came time to evaluate, a bunch of people ignored the trial entirely and just opposed on principle (along the lines of Hog Farm's comment just above) with no supporting data. That RFC concluded that people would rather try semi-protection, which eventually happened, and now we're (finally) evaluating that trial here. Anomie 11:40, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support, I'll be quick and brief for now since I need a bit of time to formally gather my thoughts. This is clearly needed and already technically done unofficially by admins. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 02:38, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support TFA has often suffered high amount disruption sometimes even through semi-protection, hopefully the disruption will be reduced thanks to semi-protection. Lightoil (talk) 03:26, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support It's a balancing act. Preemptively protecting pages is not something that should be taken lightly, but we should also not entertain routine vandalism of what is supposed to be "Wikipedia's best work". I would also agree with Sdkb that, save for a few cases, it is probably in the best interest of everyone involved that protection be applied. —⁠PlanetJuice (talkcontribs) 04:12, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support—appears slam-and-shut per User:TFA Protector Bot/Semi-protection trial. Festucalextalk 04:51, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support - seems like a self-evidently good idea, which has already been implemented with good results. Community consensus for this course of action seems overwhelming and essentially unanimous. Pecopteris (talk) 04:55, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support As explained above, inviting new editors to tweak a polished TFA will not help those new editors. Also, it is not productive to feature a highly visible vandal magnet. Johnuniq (talk) 05:11, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Can't really see a downside, as long as the unprotecting stays automatic as well. Lulfas (talk) 07:17, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Snow close as support. There's no realistic chance that this will fail, and rightly so.—S Marshall T/C 07:57, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Actually I believe this did fail in the past. Or maybe I'm thinking about something else. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 10:45, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It seems it did often enough to get added to WP:PEREN. Good example of WP:CCC I guess, but IMO this should still run for longer than a few hours. Anomie 11:43, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If no one objects or beats me to it, I'll probably snow close this after two days. CLYDE TALK TO ME/STUFF DONE 18:00, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    While there's overwhelming support right now, given how controversial this has been in the past, I think a snow NAC from an involved editor isn't ideal. It's a very high-profile RfC -- there are plenty of uninvolved editors aware of it who could close. Vaticidalprophet 15:10, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. Should have happened a long time ago. Stifle (talk) 08:12, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support as proposer :) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Serial Number 54129 (talkcontribs) 09:51, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support, leaving TFA open to general editing looks like a net negatove. Semi is much better than Pending Changes (which is just frustrating to everyone involved). —Kusma (talk) 10:36, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per the local consensus on WT:TFA, and per the trial report. – SD0001 (talk) 14:56, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strong Support -- Very overdue. Off topic but along the same line, but it would also be nice to see the subjects of Google Doodles, semiprotected as a matter of course as well especially for those articles with BLP issues. -- Dolotta (talk) 15:00, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I would oppose protection based on Google Doodles. If the article is of mediocre quality, it could benefit from editing by new editors. —Kusma (talk) 15:33, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree. While TFA is invariably supposed to showcase the highest-quality articles (and thus most likely doesn't need to be edited much by new/unregistered users), articles about the subjects of Google Doodles vary significantly in quality. I have seen many start- and C-class Google Doodle subjects, which can benefit from additional edits. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that Google Doodles also attract vandalism, like on this start-class article. – Epicgenius (talk) 22:36, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support WP:SNOW TfAs have always recieved lots of vandalism and other nonsense and this will prevent said nonsense from occurring. — Prodraxis {talkcontribs} (she/her) 15:32, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Prodraxis: A discussion about a major change like this, particularly when it's been discussed many times before with no consensus, should be allowed to run for at least one full week. WP:SNOW is for less consequential cases in which consensus is both clear and has no realistic prospect of changing. Kurtis (talk) 22:32, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I am actually shocked to see myself type this, as an old hardliner, but begrudgingly Support doing this. At my core as a Wikipedian, it crushes me to take down a pillar of Wikipedia, and I don't do it lightly, but the data cited above is clear. I may be old and set in my ways, but I am also easily convinced to change if you do the leg work and put together a convincing argument backed by data. It's hard to argue with the data provided by @Vaticidalprophet:. It is a sad day for Wikipedia; but it has come nonetheless. --Jayron32 15:41, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per the given data; I had an article on my watch list go to DYK and saw an uptick in edits; I can't imagine how much worse TFA gets. Doing this automatically will just remove the burden from admins of doing it manually every day. SilverTiger12 (talk) 16:49, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support very long overdue, it's unfortunate that it has to come to this, but the downsides of having to deal with vandalism seriously outweigh any potential upsides. Hemiauchenia (talk) 16:54, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Confirming that this refers to the article, not its talk page. North8000 (talk) 17:01, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support – Typically I would say that protection shouldn't be preemptive, but there is enough history of vandalism to TFA to justify this. — Jkudlick ⚓ (talk) 20:34, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support - basically every IP edits on TFAs are vandalism. And as stated above, recent FAs have been so thoroughly scrutinised that there isn't much of value that random drive-by editors with little editing experience can add. FunkMonk (talk) 20:44, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. SWinxy (talk) 21:01, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per above. Therapyisgood (talk) 21:13, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. Helps anyone acting in good faith, including new editors whom might get bitten, per above arguments. —siroχo 21:30, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose. Okay, fine, I'll go ahead and be that guy (although don't let my one oppose stop an early close if it's merited). The rule about not protecting TFA was put in place for good and proper reasons, even as it has become more and more frequent for it to be ignored and TFA semi-protected anyway. If vandalism happens, just revert it. But let people's first experience with Wikipedia potentially include really changing it. The main compelling worry is Sdkb's above, that "letting people make a change just to troll them by probably reverting it, even if it was good faith," is an even worse on-boarding experience than a semi-protected article. But... what about the times where there's a genuine improvement? My understanding was that at least back in the day, articles usually exited a TFA stint better than they started it. Much of this will be from edits from logged-in users, of course, but some can be from anonymous IPs. If this means main-page watchers need to do some more reverts in order to let the good edits through - oh well, just do some extra reverts. A small price to pay for ensuring people get the (correct) idea that yes, you really can change Wikipedia. SnowFire (talk) 22:07, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think the idea is really important, though in the sort of way Sdkb does ("I tried to do X and was immediately reverted, you personally need to tell me why" is the overwhelming-constant flood you get from discussing Wikipedia absolutely anywhere, ever, and none of those people become happy editors). But it's not really what the stats bear out -- there are markedly more vandalism edits to the unprotected articles in the trial than there are not-reverted-the-same-day IP and unconfirmed edits. Even "reverted the same day" non-vandalism edits doesn't add that many more. There are other sections of the main page that don't attract nearly that much vandalism while still attracting views and edits. TFA is low-hanging fruit for impulse vandalism because it's the very first, so it gets more proportionately than its pageview share -- it's not rare for DYK or OTD to get views-per-hour overlapping with TFA range, but I see far less vandalism on high-viewed DYK/OTDs. Vaticidalprophet 22:45, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support—I find the case for semi-protecting articles on the main page to be persuasive. I wonder if we could also add a notice at the top of the edit window for semi'd main page articles explaining why editing is currently unavailable. Kurtis (talk) 23:24, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. (Unrelatedly: That perennial proposals page seems overly negative) casualdejekyll 23:43, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. I understand the concern that's been raised in the past about this being a preventative action when we generally avoid using protection in that way, but I would argue that this is a unique case where though the specific article being vandalized changes from day to day, there is consistent vandalism of the TFA. The trial run has shown good results, edit requests continue to work, and realistically I find it unlikely that semiprotection on the TFA will harm the project or discourage potential new contributors. Dylnuge (TalkEdits) 01:05, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Neutral Oppose: Okay, I originally supported this with reservations, then I tacitly opposed it per SnowFire's argument, and now I'm sort of neutral. Read the page at WP:PERENNIAL, now I'm opposed again. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 01:15, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support if changes are needed they can be proposed on the talk page, as a featured item I would expect those who created it are watching it closely and can deal with genuine problems quickly. Scott Thomson (Faendalimas) talk 01:19, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Every time an article I have brought to FAC comes to TFA, there is a wave of vandalism unless someone protects it. Usually it is up for a few hours before the vandals prompt an admin to do so. Many editors oppose articles they have nominated being TFA for this reason. If it were just one article it subjected to this it would have been indefinitely protected years ago. The amount of time and effort that it will save for all concerned more than justifies protection, not to mention that the purpoe is to showcase our very best work, not how easily it is trashed by vandals. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 06:06, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Personally I never understood why this wasn't already a the standard, especially considering we do protect images through Commons. While I understand the argument about new editors, I think this is a pipe-dream with regards to TFA; the vast majority of non-semi editing on TFA articles is trolling, vandalism, etc. Good-faith new editors can still find articles to edit through ITN, DYK, and OTD (and in fact, these are more likely to be in need of improvement and are generally easier to edit than TFA). The trial demonstrably worked. Curbon7 (talk) 06:08, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Curbon7: AFAIK we only (fully) protect images that are on the main page directly. We don't protect images that are in other articles linked to from the main page, not even TFA. E.g. Commons:File:1998 - Tricolore (France) (4170715889).jpg still seems to be editable despite it being the second image in TFA 1998 FIFA World Cup final. We also fully protect the main page and all the templates that it uses, and this includes the TFA blurb, for the same reason we protect images on the main page. The temptation, even for confirmed editors to mess around with something appearing on a page seen by millions is considered too great. TFA is also fairly high visibility but not anywhere near as high as the main page, hence why this proposal is only for semi protection. And I'm fairly sure we still won't be automatically protecting images on TFA which aren't on the main page even if this passes for several reasons but especially that it's not going to cross well to commons (unlike with full protection where it's good enough). This has beans implications I guess. Edit: Just noticed the proposal below which further demonstrates my point although I didn't think of NFCC lead images when I wrote that which I agree per below do have even greater beans implications. Nil Einne (talk) 10:16, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per proposal; overdue. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 10:33, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. TFAs always has vandals and disruptive editors unless it was already protected. Just like Curbon above, I don't understand why this hasn't been done a long time ago. TheCorvetteZR1(The Garage) 14:18, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support for obvious reasons. I don't buy the argument that this will divert vandalism elsewhere. Gnomingstuff (talk) 02:07, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support This would benefit the readers of Wikipedia while reducing the hassle that our volunteer community has to deal with. XOR'easter (talk) 19:07, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support maybe the case for trading off security for openness was stronger when Wikipedia was more of an emerging website, but it doesn't make sense in 2023. – Teratix 04:04, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support: clear need for protection. This will take an unnecessary strain off of patrollers. Any disadvantages are clearly outweighed. Schminnte (talk contribs) 20:08, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Strong support Of the nearly 70 TFAs I have helped get to FA and nominated for TFA, I cannot remember a single occasion where the article was improved to any appreciable extent by an unconfirmed editor on the day and the day after it was TFA. It is almost always vandalised multiple times by IPs and unconfirmed editors, and many times it has been semi'ed rapidly after the new front page has been loaded due to relentless vandalism. The "potentially high quality contributors" can start a thread on the talk page. The trial has worked, let's lock it in. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 10:21, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support and WP:SNOW close for reasons mentioned above, the risks of keeping the pages unprotected are much higher than the benefits. Chaotic Enby (talk) 12:57, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose (though I know its snowing). "The encyclopedia anyone can edit" is sorta a key manta and protecting TFA works against that. I fully understand the persistent vandalism issue but I think that a needed solution is a way for yet-registered editors to be able to obviously contribute should be in place. If this means we should have a message to direct them to the talk page to provide feedback on the top of the TFA's article, so be it. --Masem (t) 13:13, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We already have something like this in place with {{pp}}. IT's just that it's never seen because we always add the small parameter so it's not intrusive. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 14:16, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It would be preferable to have a specialized template for TFA, not making it small and with language to both explain why one cannot edit the page directly (to avoid vandalism) and to use the talk page for suggestions. Masem (t) 14:33, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Ah that is fair. Maybe a variation of the pp template could be made for such a purpose since it already fits quite well for the purpose. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 14:38, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We already have an edit notice for people editing TFA; it would be much better to tweak that notice than to bother casual readers with the internal workings of Wikipedia. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 15:01, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support basically per Peacemaker67. The most any of my TFA's ever "benefited" from IP or unconfirmed editing were the addition of benign punctuation. The tradeoff was vandalism and good faith shuffling and rewriting of text in ways to make it drift away from the sources (and specific editorial decisions which had consensus at FAn). What good is the principle if it is doing us no good? -Indy beetle (talk) 19:02, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support I'm sympathetic to the notion that this is an opportunity for readers to learn that editing is possible, but I think the potential harms far outweigh the benefit here. Sam Walton (talk) 19:20, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. The edit histories of several of my FAs are now littered with a page or two of TFA-related garbage edits and reverts, including some very appalling image vandalism. It's simply a waste of editor time not to have the TFA semi-protected. ♠PMC(talk) 02:09, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support – This always feels like a game: the TFA goes online and is okay for the first few hours, a ton of vandalism occurs and then the article is put on semi. No need to waste the valuable time of editors cleaning up TFAs time and time again, just start it on semi! Aza24 (talk) 23:49, 26 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support - and in the long term, I think Wikipedia needs to disallow anonymous editing entirely. --RockstoneSend me a message! 22:16, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support this is an encyclopedia for readers, who would only see benefits from this (rather minor) proposal's enaction. Readers can be editors, hence the existence of maintenance templates, but most are not, so it isn't worth the possible vandalism to allow editors to "cut their teeth" on an already good article. Mach61 (talk) 13:43, 28 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Request for close it has been a week, and there is overwhelming consensus that is unlikely to change. I'll ping @TFA Protector Bot and its handlers @Legoktm, The Earwig, and Enterprisey. I'll leave it up to the closer whether to also close the sub-RfC on the images. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 21:40, 28 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support - Lock out trolls and vandals. This should have been policy long ago. Carrite (talk) 22:07, 28 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sub RfC: Upload protection of fair use infobox/lead images for TFA's[edit]

We've had issues where vandals will modify the infobox/lead image of an article. These images are usually fully protected, but when they're fair use, because they aren't usually shown on the main page, they're usually left unprotected. We've had issues where these images are changed by vandals, such as recently with The Playboy, where the infobox image was changed to an image of Goatse (see Talk:The_Playboy#goatse_as_cover_image) As such, I propose the automatic full protection full upload protection of lead/infobox images for featured article when they are on the front pages, regardless of whether they are shown on the main page or not. Hemiauchenia (talk) 19:59, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Support Per nom. Hemiauchenia (talk) 19:59, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • ? Wouldn't upload protection be more important there? — xaosflux Talk 20:05, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I am fine with either full or upload protection, but I assume full protection includes upload protection? Hemiauchenia (talk) 20:08, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Hemiauchenia, these are apples and oranges. The following actions can be protected: "edit", "move", "upload". The following protection levels exist for each one: "semi", "extended-confirmed", "template editor" and "full". ~ ToBeFree (talk) 10:36, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, not common enough attack, don't protect pre-emptively. Just WP:RBI. —Kusma (talk) 20:18, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Weak support upload protection again, requires more tech savvy than simply editing the text, but possibly goes into "might as well" territory. All bets are off with full protection, though– John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 20:25, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support. SWinxy (talk) 21:01, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Chris Troutman (talk) 21:50, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • support - still unsure about the above proposal but this seems obvious. Nobody's being introduced to editing by replacing the tfa image. It's rare but it makes sense as a precaution given how damaging such a swap can be. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 23:44, 22 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support for similar reasons to my support !vote above (and the above proposal). In addition, while there are quite clearly constructive reasons that new and unregistered editors might edit a page, constructive cases for uploading a new version of the TFA's lead image strike me as exceedingly rare (honestly, probably nonexistent). Dylnuge (TalkEdits) 01:11, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Leaning support per above for three reasons 1) this has proven to be a method of attack in the past and due to mediawiki caching lag has proven to be a trickier one to clean up after 2) our non-free content guidelines are by nature opaque enough that this isn't really something newer users should be messing with anyway and 3) TFA are generally vetted enough that between either a recent FAC or the TFA rerun selection process the stuff we're running up there should theoretically be in good enough shape that major changes to the lead image would need discussion, not unilateral change, anyways. Yes, there's some poorer older FAs but between greater awareness in the TFA scheduling process and the work of WP:URFA/2020, the issues with unmaintained or low-quality FAs from '06 or '07 appearing at TFA is much less likely than it was even two years ago. Hog Farm Talk 04:26, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Sick of the pornographic images. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 06:06, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Common sense. Curbon7 (talk) 06:11, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support for pretty much the same reasons as everyone else. Also support move and/or upload protection as necessary. TFAs should not be so much of a chore that they require editors to watch them 24/7 while on the Main Page. SilverTiger12 (talk) 13:33, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment. I think there's a lot more downside here than in the main proposal. The main proposal would affect only nonconfirmed users, but nonconfirmed users already cannot upload local files (per WP:AUTOCONFIRM). Instead, it would affect confirmed non-admin editors, since per WP:UPLOAD-P upload-protected pages can only have new versions uploaded by admins. I can easily envision a scenario in which an experienced editor like myself might want to upload a new version of an image of TFA (for instance, to crop out a border included in the file, or to improve the contrast) and be prevented from doing so by this. I'll leave it to others to weigh the costs vs. benefits in light of this, but the !votes above that treat it as an obvious corollary to the main proposal do not seem to reflect an understanding that it is actually quite different. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 18:43, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support per my comment above; would also be possible to consider carrying over to Wikidata since some templates autopopulate from it. Gnomingstuff (talk) 02:08, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose per Kusma. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 16:23, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Even if it is uncommon, any single instance of it is bad enough that we should mitigate the possibility at the outset. XOR'easter (talk) 19:07, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We generally don't pre-emptively protect pages. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 23:51, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Consensus can change. I think Wikipedia has a lot of things that are set in stone because "a few editors 15+ years ago said it should be this way, so it is". casualdejekyll 22:22, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Not enough evidence that this is a persistent problem that requires pre-emptive protection from all non-admin editors. Largely in agreement with Sdkb that file protection would prevent more beneficial edits than disruptive edits. ~ F4U (talkthey/it) 19:15, 24 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment I'm indifferent on this one. I feel that it would help, but at the same time I don't think its that much of a problem to require protection since its harder to change the image than it is to vandalize the article. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 01:33, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Not really convinced by Sdkb's point here, opportunities for legitimate improvements in this scenario are vastly outnumbered and outweighed by opportunities for mischief. – Teratix 04:04, 25 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    One important consideration is whether this would actually make things harder for LTAs (who, per the point about autoconfirmation above, seem to be the main target). If so, that's persuasive. If e.g. uploading a new file is just as easy/disruptive as overwriting an existing one, then we're blocking good-faith improvements while not actually solving the vandalism problem. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 12:51, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Another thought: How about extended-confirmed protection? That would provide a major deterrent against vandalism without restricting only to admins, which seems excessive. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 21:51, 28 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support the risk is not worth it, the prevention is easy, and the chance that a real edit will be negated is unlikely. Fair enough to me – Aza24 (talk) 18:24, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Category views[edit]

Categorization is critically important for reasons of searchability, analysis, management, visualization, redundancy, and user experience - among others.

Currently, the utility of categories is largely diminished by the superset approach which overcategorizes to the point that categories can't be used in a productive manner for domain specific tasks.

While it's very important to maintain the free speech and democracy of Wikipedia, there is a way to add a layer of quality control without undermining that: Category views, though only as second class citizens.

A category view would be another set of wiki pages / tables that can be managed alongside categories. They would provide a hierarchy that allows for semi-protected subcat/page inclusion. This would allow experts in a field to leverage the content of wikipedia.

Category views would not allow for the creation of new categories, only their connections. Folks creating category views would need to work with the community to ensure that the categories they care about are well named and being productively used. Creating new categories for the purpose of category views would be frowned upon and would be subject to immediate reversal.

In order to not disrupt the democracy of wikipedia, category views would be separate pages unto themselves and wouldn't be shown on article pages. category view pages would be largely separate. categorylinks would not be altered/impacted by this effort in any way. It would be an entirely separate table.

A very useful feature, perhaps offline, would be merging capability. This would allow for individuals to work together, perhaps as editorial boards, to merge their efforts.

An alternative to this would be user pages and currently existing pagelinks with specific nomenclature. Third class citizens, for sure, but it'd be nice to get approval / permission to start doing this. The downside of this approach is that it would likely involve the creation of new categories (the user pages themselves), which is an effort which would be lost to the community.

This might be an outside of wikipedia/wikimedia effort, but I think it'd suffer greatly if not aligned and controlled by wikipedia. Wikiqrdl (talk) 09:44, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure I understand the proposal, nor what the issue is exactly. What does Currently, the utility of categories is largely diminished by the superset approach which overcategorizes to the point that categories can't be used in a productive manner for domain specific tasks mean exactly? Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 09:59, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 13:32, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Lee Vilenski Just walk the tree/graph of category views from any starting point to any reasonable depth, and you end up traversing almost all of wikipedia. If I were, say, a biologist and I wanted to export and create a zim of all the biology pages on Wikipedia - how would I do that? Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:23, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Wikiqrdl: What is a zim? Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 20:25, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Probably ZIM (file format). And the obvious answer to the question is "Ask for help at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:38, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing It was a rhetorical question. The answer is you can't, as there is no useful categorization that would give you all the pages / subcats a biologist would be interested in. Wikiqrdl (talk) 14:29, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd assume that the answer to "What pages would a biologist be interested in?" would have significant overlap with the answer to "What pages is WP:WikiProject Biology interested in?", so I'd probably start with Category:WikiProject Biology articles.
If you wanted to do this more seriously (i.e., get all the articles for a subject, rather than complaining about the category structure), then I'd suggest looking at the systems used by WP:1.0, because "all the pages a biologist would be interested in" includes pages that aren't about biology, but which are linked in a significant number of biology-related articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:33, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes you can. Go to Export pages and write Biology, under "Add pages from category". Then export the file. You may be also interest in Wikipedia:Database download. Regards, Thinker78 (talk) 05:10, 1 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Could you dumb-down your proposal a little bit? What does "merging capability" mean? What is a "category view"? And so on. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 13:33, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Edward-Woodrow Take scholarpedia, for example. An admirable effort, if poorly executed along many different dimensions, it's lack of democracy probably being the worst. However, there is a way to integrate efforts like scholarpedia into wikipedia by creating category views. Credible experts can maintain these as well as provide expert guidance on the categories linked to from their views. Experts will recognize each others efforts and see them as equally credible and will want to merge their category views, becoming a board of two or more to control that view. Certain pages will get accepted in their views, some will not. Again - these views will be entirely outside the normal flow of things so as not to disrupt the democracy of wikipedia. Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:28, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am so confused. You still haven't explained what a category view is. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 20:30, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A category view is the same as the categorylinks table, except under semi-protected control and outside the normal flow of wikipedia. As mentioned, it wouldn't allow for the creation of new categories, only the links between the categories to subcats, pages, files, and others as appropriate. Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:40, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Wikiqrdl: I have a sinking feeling we're operating in different universes. Or you're using ChatGPT. Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 20:46, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, not using chatgpt. Start here, click on links:
eg-> --> --> -->> Wikiqrdl (talk) 21:11, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I expect most or all of the people responding here are aware that categories have subcategories within them. What is not clear is what you are asking to do about that. Your request is in some sort of technojargon that is not the common language around here. If you were to say "hey, wouldn't it be nice if we were to have one page that could show you a list of all the articles that were in the Botany category, even if they are buried in a sub-subcategory" (which I'm not assuming is what you're asking for, but is here as an example of clearer communication) then we could address it. But your suggestion is full of nomenclature that may (or may not) mean something to you, but no one reading it has been able to figure out what you're suggesting. Perhaps it would be best if you mocked up a dummy page of what a "category view" would look like, and linked to that. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 21:52, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@NatGertler I mean, proper categorization is 'technojargon'? Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:09, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you really think 'coats of arms with plants' subcat belongs under biology -> botany? I am failing to see how this is confusing. Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:12, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As for terminology, I'm just referencing the wikipedia tables. Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:16, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So your complaint is that "coats of arms with plants" is under "biology -> botany"? Because there has been no bloody way of telling that from the blather you've put forth, much less what you believe we should do about that. Do not expect people in a "policy" discussion area to be deep into the database programming aspect of this site; yes, that material would qualify as technojargon in this context. Look around you at the responses your post has generated; does anyone appear to know what it is you want?? You are not communicating clearly in this context. I cannot picture what end result you want.
And since you asked, while I am not in love with the category system here, I am fine with "coats of arms with plants" being a subcategory of "Coats of arms by charge", "Plants and humans" and "Plants in art", all of which seem fitting. And I expect top-level categories to be very loose in their definition and broad in their inclusion.
Again, I suggest if you want people here to understand what you're talking about (not that I'm convinced you've found the right place -- perhaps Wikipedia:Village pump (technical) or Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab) would be more fitting), mock up a version of what you want to see. I do not seem to be alone in your posts not generating a mental picture of what you want. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 22:33, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you looking for a tool like meta:PetScan? Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 15:21, 4 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You might be able to automate this, but I think it would be better for Human Beings to do the job. For Categorization to be useful, you really want an expert in the domain to break things down in a way that's useful for practioners. It's like a taxonomy in biology. Wikiqrdl (talk) 14:27, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Worse, it's like a taxonomy where termites are a type of tree, because Termites is in Wood decomposition is in Wood is in Trees. Some of our subcategories are is-a relationships, but many are not. Certes (talk) 14:37, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Certes Yeah, though tbf, there are so many people with different needs / requirements / understanding that it's not surprising that categories have become overloaded. Wikiqrdl (talk) 00:20, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @Wikiqrdl: your only edits on Wikipedia are proposing this topic; would you like to give any more context as to what you mean by it? – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 14:35, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @John M Wolfson My general recommendation for anyone interested in this topic is to download the categorylinks table and traverse it from root nodes. You'll quickly see what I mean. It's almost like categorization on wikipeia is largely non-existent. There are some pages which do a very admirable effort of fixing this, like the portals, but they don't provide the hierarchical control that you'd want to productively span a specific domain. Perhaps portals can be enhanced for this purpose, however. Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:37, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Wikiqrdl: I still don't fully understand what you're talking about, but the historical trend on Wikipedia has been to move away from over-hierarchization and directories; subpages were turned off in the mainspace in 2002, and portals have been on their way out for a while, even being removed (or at least demoted, I don't recall) from the Main Page. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 20:46, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Not sure what you mean by 'subpages' were turned off. They are directly accessible by the UI. Eg - -> -> subpages. Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:59, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Wikiqrdl:I said in the mainspace; i.e., the fact that A/B testing is its own page and not a subpage of A, and the fact that all pages with "/" in them and not any colons (so no "Wikipedia:" or "Wikipedia talk:") are their own pages and not subpages. I'll AGF and assume that you had simply skipped over those words when you read my comment (I've done the same a few times), but if you had not – or, worse still, still don't know what I mean – you should edit more to Wikipedia (your only edits are still to this topic) before you make such radical proposals as these. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 22:24, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It's not radical at all, it's just commonsense. Fortunately, it's already happening in terms of portals. Here's a fantastic example - Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:47, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Not everyone feels that portals are on their way out. The RfC linked above concluded that There exists a strong consensus against deleting or even deprecating portals at this time. The list of portals is still linked from the Main Page, though less prominently than before. Certes (talk) 21:35, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @CertesPortals are great! They should be enhanced to do more though, not just top level but the entire categorization of their topics. Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:18, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hey, if I'm the first person to guess that this proposal was written by artificial intelligence, and it turns out I'm right, do I win anything? -- Nat Gertler (talk) 14:48, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hm, I thought that too. Did you think it before 13.33 UTC? Edward-Woodrow :) [talk] 15:12, 27 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OP hasn't edited since ten minutes after proposing this, yet made a couple of minor tweak edits in those ten minutes. 🤔 – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 01:15, 28 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One particularly useful feature a category view would provide would allow for editors to be alerted whenever a page underneath their view gets edited. This would not be a primary purpose of a view, but more of a natural result of its existence. I recognize similar things like this already exist, but the point is to surface that view that the editor is trying to maintain as it would be useful to others. Escalation paths could be integrated into a category view assuming a board exists to manage it, to allow for division of labor aligned with expertise and responsibilities. Wikiqrdl (talk) 20:56, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Wikiqrdl: As far as I can tell, you still haven't explained what a "category view" is, nor what a "Category links table" is. Here's a (possibly crazy) idea, since everyone here seems to have some degree of difficulty understanding you: explain what you are proposing using only the following words:
  • category
  • subcategory
  • user
  • reader
  • wikidata
  • connect
  • read
  • article
  • page
  • sort
  • propose
  • to, and, with, a, etc.
Worth a try, at least. Edward-Woodrowtalk 22:19, 27 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jc37: Thinker78 (talk) 05:13, 1 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Alright, I'll bite. Wikiqrdl - How does your proposal differ from WikiData? And also how does this differ from the internet phenomenon of "tagging"? - jc37 22:07, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually, the more I look into this, I realize that this is what portals is trying to be. Just needs to more support. Wikiqrdl (talk) 22:44, 3 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that portals are trying to be what most of the World Wide Web was before search engines became popular. They are certainly not trying to be a database. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:36, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe, though we already have that with the categorylinks table. I think portals are attempting to overlay a specific purpose built view over a subsection of wikipedia, which is what I'm getting at here. My example: Imagine you are a STEM educator at a university and want to curate a high quality and relevant list of all STEM related wikipedia pages and their organization on wikipedia. @WhatamIdoing Wikiqrdl (talk) 00:56, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That might be an imaginative story, but it's not what actually happened. There is not a single page in the entire Portal: namespace that exists because an educator at a university wanted to curate any list of all Wikipedia articles in their subject area. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:03, 29 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think the intention of wikidata is to allow editors to come up with domain specific categorization of an area of knowledge on Wikipedia. Rather it's about providing a system for managing data across sites and linking them.
It's possible you might be able to repurpose WikiData for the problem of overcategorization on Wikipedia, but I don't immediately see how.
As for tags, yes, it's sort of like that but I don't think you'd include the tags on the pages themselves and the tags would need to be properly nested.
I think the best example on wikipedia right now are the 'portals', though they need to be enhanced to fully categorize their fields of interest. Wikiqrdl (talk) 14:35, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikidata is structured data. This includes saying things like: This is a living organism – subtype plant – subtype vascular plant – subtype flowering plant – subtype dicot – and so forth.
Wikidata is all about having everything properly nested down a predictable tree. If your idea of fun is talking about whether something is an instance of X vs a subtype of X, then it's definitely a place you should check out. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:41, 5 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing I asked them, they said no, "Wikidata itself is not organized into categories or tags. ChristianKl ❪✉❫ 23:09, 11 September 2023 (UTC)"Reply[reply]
They don't technically use Help:Categories or Tag (metadata), but they do organize information in fine detail according to pre-planned, organized schemas. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:14, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They did point me to wiki projects, which is parent to the portals. This looks like what I'm looking for, but the problem is they don't seem that organization in terms of databases. Wikiqrdl (talk) 19:10, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A WikiProject is a group of people who want to work together. A WikiProject is not a "parent to the portals". If you find that portals exist for the same subjects that groups want to work on, it is largely coincidental, and the existence of the group is not causative. Portals were largely created in 2005–2006 by individuals who wanted to run for WP:RFA and needed a "content contribution" that went beyond vandal fighting, not by groups working to improve content for a subject area. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:18, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing Fair point, however people necessarily organize themselves hierarchically by specialization when grappling with a grandly scoped problem with a knowledge base covering the full range of human knowledge, and that organization would be a useful category view. Wikiqrdl (talk) 00:25, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing Someone on the technical pump page pointed me to this - the wikiprojects tag the talk pages. So, I can get all the wikiproject science pages that way. Will try this and see how well it goes. Wikiqrdl (talk) 05:33, 25 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you're technically skilled, then the mw:ORES topics might be handy. However, it's unclear how much longer that will be supported. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:03, 1 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
#Til that this is accessible through search. See Help:Searching#articletopic:. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:33, 1 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

RfC: TFA fair use lead image protection[edit]

Which level of Upload-protection should be applied to Wikipedia-hosted images that appear in the lead section of an article appearing as Today's Featured Article from the day before it appears on the Main Page through the day after?

{{u|Sdkb}}talk 00:40, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Clarified per below 14:47, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Background (TFA images)[edit]

Commons-hosted TFA lead images normally appear on the Main Page and are thereby subject to cascading full protection, but Wikipedia-hosted images are not, and have previously generally remained unprotected. In a sidebar at the recent RfC on article semi-protection, editors raised the issue that these have been subject to vandalism and may warrant heightened protection. There was some possible confusion about the current situation and available options, however, so after discussion with the closer, this RfC seeks to clarify consensus about how we should deal with these images. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 00:40, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Survey (TFA images)[edit]

Option 2 as per Sdkb, it seems like a happy medium between preventing vandalism while not locking out most well-meaning editors. I suspect most editors experienced enough to do image alterations are going to be extended-confirmed already. Happy editing, SilverTiger12 (talk) 01:00, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 per Sdkb and SilverTiger2. – John M Wolfson (talk • contribs) 01:05, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2. I cannot conceive of really any instances where a very new editor would need to upload a replacement image in a currently featured article, and if on some exceptionally rare occasion that would be needed, they can still suggest it on the talk page (which for a TFA will generally be quite heavily watched). Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:33, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 3. I'm having a hard time coming up with any situation where one would need to change a photo that that is so urgent it can't wait until after the article is on the main page, yet not urgent enough to have been fixed before that. Gnomingstuff (talk) 01:33, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Gnomingstuff, I don't think the situation would ever be "urgent". But I'm also pretty sure my example of cropping out an unneeded border is something I've done for a TFA sometime in the past, not just a hypothetical. Yes, it's always possible to wait or to make an edit request, but those are barriers that might make someone decide not to bother or cause them to forget. That's not a huge effect, sure, but when ECP would eliminate 99% of the vandalism risk, it's being weighed against a very small downside. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 14:30, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sdkb I was thinking more things like "wait, this image is a copyvio, and somehow no one realized this until the photo hit the front page." (I guess in this unlikely hypothetical situation someone reached out.) But even then, I don't see how option 3 would prevent something that needs to be changed from getting changed. Something like a border isn't a need-to-change. Gnomingstuff (talk) 16:59, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 3 I am surprised to learn that Commons images are protected, as there have been incidents in the past when they have been deleted or replaced with pornographic images. It is hard to think of a reason why an image must be replaced while the article is at TFA unless it has been vandalised. Otherwise it always wait another day. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 01:34, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
c:User:KrinkleBot protects images that are displayed on the Main Page and Wikipedia:Main Page/Tomorrow (and two other pages to support POTD and ITN). Those make the image displayed on the Main Page itself protected, and usually that's also the lead image in the article. Sometimes, though, a crop is uploaded or an alternate image is chosen that fits better in the Template:TFA box, and I expect instances like that are when you saw the image displayed in the article vandalized. —Cryptic 01:56, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 as first choice, but Option 3 is acceptable. I think it's reasonably possible that someone might want to provide a replacement image (maybe slightly better centering or something) and that doing so would be an actual improvement, at the article's highest-ever profile, so I lean toward option 2. I think at least option 2 is necessary, because of the high "attractive nuisance" quality of front-page-featured content.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:40, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 3 as the featured article and its images have already undergone close scrutiny. Discussion prior to changes would be a good idea. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 08:53, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 3 Fears about items locked-down are overblown. This sort of temporary protection is needed. Chris Troutman (talk) 18:21, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2. There is always a tradeoff between deterring vandalism and trying to open the door to good-faith contributions. Even restricting to admins will never get us to 100% protection, and LTAs will always seek the most attractive nuisance opportunity available. The question then becomes, how many edits/tenure do we need to require to make it an unattractive option for LTAs? Is it 10 edits/4 days? Clearly not, which is why we're having this discussion. Is it 10,000 edits/2 years (the rough floor for admin consideration)? I'd argue that that's clearly overkill — I would trust that a user with 8,000 edits/a year's tenure who is trying to edit an image on an FTA article is far more likely to be contributing in good faith than to be an LTA throwing away the dozens of hours of work it took to reach that point in order to commit a momentary act of vandalism that'll be quickly reverted. So where is the happy medium? 500/30 seems about right. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 19:08, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 ECP protection is a good level. ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 22:52, 30 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 seems sufficient, it's significant enough of a hurdle that drive by vandals (and even determined trolls) are unlikely to surpass it, and it still allows experienced editors to edit when needed. --Jayron32 12:40, 1 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 by SMcCandlish's reasoning. HenryMP02 (talk) 17:46, 1 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 per Sdkb and SMcCandlish. Hog Farm Talk 01:58, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2. Note that option 3 places extra burden on our often overtaxed administrators. Even if it rarely happens, there's the administrative/cognitive burden of it being a possible thing that may be needed. —siroχo 03:34, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 Seems like the most reasonable way forward. Pecopteris (talk) 03:46, 2 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Option 2 Protection is definitely needed, but full protection seems like overkill. QuicoleJR (talk) 22:06, 6 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Discussion (TFA images)[edit]

Pings to participants in the sidebar and the closer: @Hemiauchenia, Xaosflux, ToBeFree, Kusma, John M Wolfson, SWinxy, Chris troutman, Rhododendrites, Dylnuge, Hog Farm, Hawkeye7, Curbon7, SilverTiger12, Gnomingstuff, Edward-Woodrow, XOR'easter, Casualdejekyll, Freedom4U, Blaze Wolf, Teratix, and CaptainEek: {{u|Sdkb}}talk 00:40, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I'm personally still unsure about how to !vote here, although I'm leaning toward option 2. I would find it helpful to hear from vandalism experts who can comment more on whether we've seen a pattern of abuse here beyond just the Playboy incident and if it seems to be just LTAs or also others. I'd also find it helpful to hear more about the relative ease and disruptiveness of uploading new versions of a file vs. just uploading and inserting a new file (e.g. the caching problem). From my current understanding, extended-confirmed protection seems like a happy medium. It's what we use to protect lots of other sensitive/highish-profile things by imposing enough of a barrier that almost all LTAs find it easier to go disrupt something else (a marginal win for us to the extent that their next-best option is lower-visibility). At the same time, it would allow experienced non-admin editors to directly make simple changes to photos, such as cropping out borders or fixing contrast issues. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 00:40, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not an expert on this particular type of vandalism but my understanding is it has been going on in some form since the early 2000s (when shock images like goatse were more common on the Internet in general). Gnomingstuff (talk) 11:10, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think there is some confusion about protection, again. For example, todays FA img includes File:Lost in Translation poster.jpg. A file may have 3 different types of protection: EDIT, MOVE, UPLOAD. Each of these may have the same or different levels of protection. EDIT only deals with the file's description, which would be minimally visible to readers. MOVE could be a problem as it it could break the file, UPLOAD would allow replacing the image with another one (without having to edit the article). — xaosflux Talk 01:45, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So the real matter for discussion is what is the type of disruption that you want to deal with, and are willing to trade off protection vs the ability for someone to improve a file. — xaosflux Talk 01:47, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Upload protection is the main one and implied by the options as that's the one which has actually been an issue. Hemiauchenia (talk) 02:31, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Agreed, I think what we're !voting on above is upload-protection, although I'd be fine seeing move-protection raised to match it (moving also requires autoconfirmation for any file currently). {{u|Sdkb}}talk 02:34, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Right, I don't understand "Option 3" in this survey. Upload protection is not a binary of "administrators only" or no protection, it can be applied to different levels, so you could have, for example, ECP-only-upload protection if you wanted. Legoktm (talk) 11:31, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Sdkb: I came here to say the same things as Xaosflux and Legoktm, only to find that they had already said them. To clarify, there are three types of protection - edit, move and upload (a fourth type, create protection, is available on non-existent pages in place of the other three); and English Wikipedia provides five levels of protection - Allow all users, Require autoconfirmed or confirmed access, Require extended confirmed access, Require template editor access and Require administrator access; and for any given page, each of the four prot types may be set independently to any of the five prot levels. The RfC also comes in "blind", it lacks context - although this is covered in the Background subsection, remember that it won't appear in the RfC listings unless mentioned before the first timestamp. So I think that it would be best if you clarified the RfC statement; I suggest four amendments:
    1. Add an introductory phrase like Following the recent discussion at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#RfC: Automatically semi-protect Today's Featured Article, which level of protection ...
    2. Amend Which level of protection should be applied ... to read Which level of Upload-protection should be applied ...
    3. Amend option 1 to remove the text to upload images, this now being redundant to the preceding question
    4. Amend option 3 to read Full protection (administrators only)
    Option 2 can be left alone. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 14:10, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The purpose of the background section is to provide context, so I think that's where context should go, but if you feel the background section is sufficiently neutral, feel free to remove the initial signature so that it gets transcluded as well (hopefully we can trust people to read more than just the transcluded bit before !voting, though). Happy to make the other changes. The confusion there is partially stemming from Wikipedia:Protection policy, where "upload protection" is listed alongside things like "extended-confirmed protection," and also begins Upload-protected files, or more technically, fully upload-protected files, cannot be replaced with new versions except by an administrator, thus blurring the difference between types and levels. I'd urge some reorganization of that page so that the current "Types of protection" level-2 heading is split into "Types of protection" and "Levels of protection" to make the distinction clear. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 14:41, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm still indifferent. I have no real opinion on this. I see both the positives and negatives of this. ― Blaze WolfTalkblaze__wolf 02:42, 29 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Admins and being paid to advise on editing[edit]

I have recently learned about an admin who is offering their services on Upwork. This admin (who I'm not naming because of WP:OUTING but who I will inform of this discussion) is quite clear that they will not edit or use their admin toolset. This admin further makes clear that they will follow all Wikipedia rules about paid editing and expect their clients to do the same. The service that they do offer is helping their clients "every step of the way" with editing on Wikipedia.

I feel pretty confident, for a number of reasons, that there is no paid editing violation happening based on the conduct of this admin and the way the Terms of Use and enwiki policies and guidelines are written. However, I am pretty troubled by this all the same in the way I wouldn't be with a non-admin. Again I do not suspect this current admin of doing anything wrong so it's not about them; it's about this as a principle. Do others see this as an issue as well? If so what should we do in response? Ideas that we could do:

  • Change the requirement for RfA candidates to something like required to disclose whether they have ever edited Wikipedia, or advised others on editing Wikipedia, for pay (though this doesn't impact people after they become admins or current admins)
  • Add some kind of transparency requirement for paid advising not just paid editing (but wording this in a workable way strikes me as hard)

Barkeep49 (talk) 22:50, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can you expound on what your concerns are, and why it is different for an admin as opposed to a non-admin? Wehwalt (talk) 22:55, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for the question. My concern is that we have to take people at their word that all they're doing is advising - I would much prefer a trust but verify (through transparency) system. And it's because of the tools that admins have that others don't to help clients, ranging from the not really a problem (viewing deleted content) to full on sanctioning someone who edits against their clients interests, that it strikes me as more of a problem for admin than other users. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 22:59, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If an admin blocks someone on behalf of a client, then they are making a paid contribution and would have to conform to the paid-contribution disclosure requirements. Perhaps any use of administrative privileges should be considered to be a contribution for purposes of the terms of use? There is a financial conflict of interest with being paid for advice; I agree that figuring out how to compel disclosure in this case is difficult.
I'm having difficulty, though, trying to work out if there a distinction, other than type of client, with the role you are describing versus a Wikipedian-in-residence. In theory this is mutually beneficial, as the client will know from the start how to engage productively with the Wikipedia community, but this depends on the diligence of the advisor. isaacl (talk) 23:23, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Add some kind of transparency requirement for paid advising not just paid editing (but wording this in a workable way strikes me as hard) Does anyone see issues with something like Editors are required to disclose any payment for or related to activity on the English Wikipedia? It's broader than just paid advising, but in general I think transparency is a good thing so I don't see an issue with that. BilledMammal (talk) 23:02, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not convinced of the need, but if some policy were put in place, we'd need to cement what counts as "advising". Sure, being a consultant for EvilCorp would, but would teaching Wikipedia Editing 201 at EvilU (and in that case, who needs to be reported, EvilU who paid directly, or the students who were advised and funded it with their tuition?) Would writing a How Edit Wikipedia book for EvilPub count? If in the course of her regular workday in the EvilCorp communications dept, Brenda Admin is asked "how do we change our Wikipedia page to say we make solutions?" and Brenda tells them "you don't", does Brenda now have to make such an announcement? There is much fuzziness here. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 23:11, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've had to be Brenda. It sucked. It wasn't even me who let management know I was an editor; I'm not sure whether they knew I was an admin. I just wish I'd been brave enough to push the A7 button myself. —Cryptic 23:50, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've been aware of this admin for some time. My main concern has been that this creates a problem for them - having been paid in regard to Wikipedia advice, they have an ongoing undisclosed COI with those topics. This is workable, but it gets tricky when their clients have hired paid editors in the past and may do so in the future after seeking their advice when they are aware of this, but now they are in a difficult position. I know of other cases where editors have advised clients on Upwork and as a result of that advise the clients have hired banned editors to edit on their behalf, and I am aware that at least one of the clients who have hired this admin has also hired multiple paid editors in the past. - Bilby (talk) 23:14, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Like all COIs, it only needs announcement if they are editing (or administering) in their COI areas, which are already covered by existing policy. We all have COIs for some area, so the idea that these people will now have COIs for other ones doesn't strike me as a change of general status. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 00:21, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. I don't see a need to disclose a COI unless you are editing articles related to that COI, but effectively creating COIs with articles where there has been violations of policy in the past is creating a difficult position for yourself as an admin. Especially when through consulting you will be made aware of paid editing that has happened on articles where you now have a COI, and you will likely become aware of paid editing that happens on those articles after you consult. - Bilby (talk) 00:52, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. I feel like you put yourself in a position where you are 100% fine or you are deyssopped and possibly banned. Those are pretty extreme outcomes and it's why I'm wondering if some additional transparency helps create middle ground. Barkeep49 (talk) 01:23, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps there should be some guidance that editors providing advice remain ethically bound to raise attention to any improper contributions they encounter on wiki, and are thus unable to agree to any terms that would restrict this duty. The editors must inform their clients of this responsibility. isaacl (talk) 17:40, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bilby is touching on the most likely and troubling scenario if said Admin is advising MegaCompany, AspiringCeleb or whoever. The likely next step will involve paid article editing by a paid editor account; this will happen in the Admin's line of sight, but without their hands on the keyboard. Clearly, if another editor challenged/reverted the paid editor's changes, defensive action by the Admin may be sought by their sponsor, and must be resisted (or they must be de-sysopped). But if the paid edits remain unnoticed by others, what then? No COI action has touched their keyboard, but doesn't the Admin bear some responsibility for their inaction to defend the overall integrity? This is a swamp, best avoided. AllyD (talk) 06:59, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In this case it isn't theoretical. One of the clients that the admin worked for had previously hired paid editors to create an article. After the admin provided advice, an editor has subsequently recreated the article. That editor might be a paid editor in which case we have UPE. I do not hold this against the admin - this is an admin whom I have considerable respect for and whom I trust, and I do not belive that they would ever willingly do the wrong thing by Wikipedia - plus they have been transparent about what they do even if they haven't been transparent about this article in particular. So that is not what I'm suggesting. But it is a difficult line to walk, knowing that a client you recently worked for is now breaking the ToU, and had hired people to break the ToU before you agreed to work for them. I'd recommend admins not put themselves in this position just because of the problems this could potentially lead to. - Bilby (talk) 11:36, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My suggestion for advisors to make their clients aware of their community responsibility is intended to ensure the line is made clear to clients from the onset. isaacl (talk) 16:33, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What is "advising"? If someone buys a copy of my hypothetical new book How to Edit Wikipedia, is that a declarable COI? Admins certainly shouldn't be revealing deleted articles for cash (even if obtainable for free from your favourite archive site) but that seems like mop abuse rather than "advising". Certes (talk) 23:15, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do others see this as an issue as well? - Yes, this strikes me as a self-evidently bad thing.
If so what should we do in response? - I do not think admins have any business making money off of their adminship. Period. Paid editing, or marketing oneself as a Wikipedia expert for financial gain, should be strictly prohibited for administrators. That is my two cents. Pecopteris (talk) 23:17, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. If an admin wishes to make money from paid editing, they should divest themselves of their mop before doing so. ~~ AirshipJungleman29 (talk) 23:27, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pecopteris is on the right track but I would go further. Admins should be role-modelling the highest standards of conduct. It's not good enough merely to not break rules - they should be morally beyond reproach. Adminship is a privileged position, and using that position for financial gain has the potential to bring the project into disrepute, even if done in good faith, and even if no edits are made. This is not a million miles away from cash for access, which is widely regarded as scandalous. Barnards.tar.gz (talk) 19:10, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1 -- GreenC 04:21, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you see this as including getting an honorarium for speaking? ScottishFinnishRadish (talk) 23:26, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This has been discussed a bit with the functionaries, so I know a little more than barkeep49 has said, although I'm not privy to all of the details. Promotional editing is a big business, and those who run those sorts of businesses are always looking for an edge. Having an admin on your team is certainly a coveted asset for these people. I've been solicited off-wiki for my admin services, and I would imagine most admins could tell similar stories.
For sure, experts in all fields hire themselves out as consultants. Pharmaceutical companies hire retired FDA people to help them with regulatory issues. Likewise aircraft manufacturers hire FAA people to help with regulatory issues, and so on. This is all completely legit. These people come with knowledge and experience (not to mention contacts) which can only be gained by having been on the inside. But the common aspect here is that these people only go into private industry after they leave their government jobs. What's happening here is a sitting admin is offering their services for hire. Even if they're not providing direct tools-for-hire services, part of what they're selling is that they do have the tools (i.e. the ad on upwork directly states that they are an admin, even if it also states that they won't use those tools for hire).
I'd be much more comfortable if an admin decided they wanted to go into private consulting and resigned their bit to do so. They could still advertise that they're selling their experience and knowledge, but there would be a bright line in the sand that they're not selling their admin services. At the very least, they should publicly disclose that they're doing so. WMF:Policy:Terms of Use (under "Paid Contributions Without Disclosure") says You must disclose each and any employer, client, intended beneficiary and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation. We could wiki-lawyer about whether providing consulting services that don't include on-wiki editing is covered by this, but I think it is certainly within the spirit of what was intended. RoySmith (talk) 23:48, 12 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ideally, there would be no paid editing. Returning to the real world, we should not allow editors to accept payment for using any significant privilege. What is "significant"? Certainly, anything that requires the sysop bit. Probably not autoconfirmed, which anyone can obtain easily. Probably most other hats such as new page reviewer or template editor. Extended-confirmed and autopatrolled may be borderline. Certes (talk) 00:14, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just as a general principle, I don't think autopatrolled should be used for paid editing; such articles need the extra scrutiny provided by NPP. BilledMammal (talk) 00:18, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I thought for a while after seeing this that APAT only had effect if the AFC reviewer moving the article had the perm but reading the page again it does seem it's both (either one of original page creator or AFC reviewer with APAT will cause the article to be marked as reviewed). In which case, yes, I'd agree in general PAID articles should be unpatrolled when moved to mainspace so that the are reviewed by both sets of eyes. Alpha3031 (tc) 12:39, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just a note on the last few replies, this is not about paid editing. This is about advising people on how to edit. We are not discussing admins who might take money for edits. Primefac (talk) 07:24, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, this is about parlaying the community's former confidence (an RfA with as high a percentage of supports as Eostrix's) into a quality guarantee in order to charge US$75/hour for paid advising. I had a look at the admin-in-question's user page. They do not indicate their "for hire" status or their hourly rate anywhere. Perhaps it could be suggested that they do so? -- SashiRolls 🌿 · 🍥 18:57, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • S Marshall's thoughts:
    • Advising people about how to make appropriate, policy-compliant edits to Wikipedia is a good thing.
    • It's also appropriate behaviour for a sysop. We expect sysops to do this on people's talk pages.
    • It's not for us to police someone's earnings. Our only proper concern is inappropriate on-wiki behaviour.
    • There are good reasons why we need people to disclose on-wiki when they're getting paid for Wikipedia-related work.
    • Therefore this sysop should disclose (1) the fact that they're consulting and (2) which articles and topic areas are involved.
  • And that should be sufficient.—S Marshall T/C 08:34, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We did stray onto activities which require privileges but are not edits, such as viewing deleted pages. That's an example of "using any significant privilege" for which we may wish to prohibit payment. Certes (talk) 09:55, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    In general I agree with S Marshall, but I feel we need to be clear about how this impacts things like Wikimedians in residence, editathons, etc. There are also many other questions, such as what about $corp paying an someone to teach someone how to edit in accordance with all the relevant policies? Does it make a difference if it's just expenses? Is doing something like viewing a deleted article to advise what sources it used "inappropriate on-wiki behaviour"? If this admin is advising someone about editing in a given subject area is it inappropriate if they use their admin tools to revert obvious vandalism in that topic area? What about if they are giving advice about editing generally rather than in a specific topic area? What if an article in their client's field is (semi-)protected due to vandalism and the admin edits through that protection to fix a typo on behalf of their client? Or to add a requested citation? How long after the relationship with the client ends does the COI last? Thryduulf (talk) 11:39, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree with all of these points Thryduulf, though I will note that some of them also apply to traditional paid editing and even just COI - for instance how long does it last for. In other words if someone works for a company for a year at age 23, when they're 25 they still have a COI. Do they still at 30? 50? 70? Barkeep49 (talk) 14:35, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree with S Marshall. Additionally, I don't think we should treat admins and non-admins all that differently -- there are experienced non-admin NPP/AfC experts that could be much more of an asset to company PR than many admins. —Kusma (talk) 10:45, 16 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Admins and being paid to advise on editing (break)[edit]

There are at least four questions here:

  1. What counts as paid advising, and how do our policies on transparency/disclosure regarding paid editing apply to it?
    This is complicated, but if pressed for a simple answer I'd say our policies on paid editing simply don't apply. If you're not editing, you can't be paid editing.
  2. Does a COI need to be disclosed even if someone never edits a related topic?
    No. You only need to disclose a COI as it relates to your on-wiki editing. The policy is the "conflict of interest editing" policy, after all. Do we all need to disclose our employers because we might someday write about them? Do you need a list of my family and friends in case I write about them? No. Disclosure needs to happen as soon as you start making edits that change or otherwise influence the subject.
  3. Is it ever ok to use admin tools in the service of paid editing or paid advising?
    No. I'd carve out an exception for "obviously uncontroversial" things like maybe responding to a revdel request of doxing, but doing this would be dancing on the edge of a razor given the amount of discomfort such an act would cause in principle. Get a different admin to do it, and disclose your COI when you do.
  4. Should the trust inherent in adminship and the specter of a conflict of interest bar an admin from paid advising?
    No. This all feels yucky because everything at the intersection of money and Wikipedia feels yucky. At the end of the day, companies and individuals are going to try to influence Wikipedia, so let them do it in the best possible way: advised by an experienced user telling them how to go about it properly and stopping short of paid editing. We should want that to be the pipeline so that they don't go and hire some blackhat operation or otherwise make a mess and waste people's time. Whether it's an admin or not doesn't really change anything except in the community's perception. We put a lot of trust in admins, so hold them to a higher standard. But we need admins and we need experienced users and we need people who can tell a company how to properly engage with Wikipedia. As long as someone is doing all that without actually paid editing and discloses any COI if they do edit those topics, I say go for it. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:31, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree our policies don't currently apply to paid advising. I am suggesting that we need some new policies or guidelines, at least for admins, when it comes to paid advising. And right now, because our policies don't apply, there is no mandate towards transparency/disclosure which is also what I think should be desire. Barkeep49 (talk) 14:36, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd disagree. We cannot and should not try to control what people do outside of Wikipedia. If someone's providing advice, for pay or for free, and never ever edits with a COI, they should not have to disclose that just like they shouldn't have to disclose all of the many other hypothetical COIs they have on topics they don't edit. This is a principled but impractical intervention for the sake of feeling safe. It will discourage interactions that get companies to do things properly for fear of being tainted by the scarlet PE or COI, even when no PE or COI is taking place. We do not need more impediments to adminship, and we do not need more motivation for companies to do the wrong thing. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:45, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with all of this comment. I can see why the concern came up but I see no need for new guidelines or disclosure requirements. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:33, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think I agree, at least without evidence that something is being done in a problematic matter. Making money from being able to advise on Wikipedia is not wrong without some abuse of tools or other misconduct, as far as I can see. Wehwalt (talk) 16:43, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Regarding points 1 and 2, note that the terms of use specify the need to disclose paid contributions, which can encompass actions altering the Wikipedia database beyond editing. With that caveat, I agree the paid-contribution disclosure policy doesn't cover advice, and the conflict of interest guideline doesn't require disclosure unless the editor is involved in trying to change the content of a related article. isaacl (talk) 15:47, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • We've seen a fair amount of text on talk pages, noticeboards, and the like, about paid editing and COI. I'll let others try to figure that out. But where I think we likely all agree is that no one should be using any granted tool/user-right ability as a result of being paid for the action. At best, it's WP:MEAT. I don't want to try to think about "at worst". - jc37 14:50, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    True, but this is more or less covered by WP:TOOLMISUSE already. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:54, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Sure, but I think it was worth (re-)saying, in the context of this discussion. That regardless of where things fall concerning paid-editing/COI, that there's still a bright line to not be crossed. - jc37 19:17, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure I agree that it's money x WP that makes it yucky for me. It's soliciting as an admin that's the yucky part for me. It implies to the client that an admin can help them get what they want better than an equally-experienced and expert editor, which is a deliberate misrepresentation (that admins have some special authority over content, which takes advantage of general public confusion) plus the fact that misrepresentation takes advantage of the ignorant. Multiple ignorants, actually. Valereee (talk) 16:56, 22 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Throwing an idea out there: a list of people that the English Wikipedia endorses as capable of advising in this capacity, and a set of requirements to be included in such a list. Some of those requirements could deal with transparency. So, you can go off and advise for pay, and you're not required to disclose unless your on-wiki editing intersects with your clients, but you won't be included in the list of preferred consultants if you don't disclose. I feel like this has been floated with regard to paid editing in the past, though I can't recall what came of it... — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:45, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is a list of paid editors at Wikipedia:WikiProject Integrity/Editor Registry, but it is updated very infrequently. isaacl (talk) 15:54, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would suspect that if we were to go down that road, either there would be no consensus on the qualifications, or those who are greatly concerned about this issue would make the requirements so arduous and fraught with possible penalties that no one would care to use it. None of which would stop whatever is going on from going on, of course, whether harmful or innocuous. Wehwalt (talk) 15:55, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This was a thought that I had, too. Probably the sort of thing that would be best written collaboratively among a few and then voted on rather than put together piecemeal. I don't think it's impossible that something useful could come of it, though, since it's inevitably less fraught than paid editing. It's an unfortunate reality that the hardliners who naively think money and Wikipedia should never intersect (and thus must never intersect) ruin so many attempts to create pathways to do it responsibly, and thus push people into the darkness. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 16:16, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Is this functionally different from the behaviour discussed in Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Conduct of Mister Wiki editors? Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 16:50, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes. There is zero evidence that the admin has pressed any buttons which was not true of the admin in that case.. Barkeep49 (talk) 17:17, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If there's a middle ground here its for *retired* admins, there is no good way to make a system in which an active admin is giving paid advice (in the same way that a retired senior civil service bureaucrat can consult/advise those with business before the government, but an active one can't). Unpaid advice is fine given the provision that free advice is worth the price you paid and banning it would seem to be unduly onerous to the social lives of Wikipedians. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:59, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Admins must not advise for pay while they are administrators. Resign first.
    Very simple bright line.
    I’m surprised we’re discussing any alternatives.
    A. B. (talkcontribsglobal count) 03:09, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Any editor being paid to advise others on Wikipedia editing must disclose their conflict of interest and the name of their clients.
    This is another simple bright line.
    A. B. (talkcontribsglobal count) 03:12, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Barkeep49, you’re on the Arbitration Committee. You all need to confront this admin. Give them these 3 choices from which to pick:
    1. Stop this work and disclose who they’ve worked for to date. They can stay an admin.
    2. Resign their adminship and they can continue advising clients for pay. They must publicly disclose current and former clients
    3. ArbCom takes matters into its hands and desysops this person. ArbCom publicizes the COI.
    If this feels awkward and embarrassing for this admin, so be it. I see the choices above as generous; other community members might argue for desysopping no matter whether they stop. Still others might say ban them outright.
    The community must be able to trust all its administrations … as well as ArbCom.
    A. B. (talkcontribsglobal count) 03:35, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Another Believer there is no policy or guideline this admin has broken. Mandatory disclosure under our current rules is required only if there has been paid editing. This admin says (and there is zero evidence to suggest otherwise) that they have not edited, used the tools, etc. They have instead offered advise and suggestions off-wiki. It's precisely because there is this gap between what we allow and what I think we should allow that I started this conversation. Best Barkeep49 (talk) 15:44, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Barkeep49 Did you mean to ping me? I have not participated in this discussion thus far. ---Another Believer (Talk) 16:02, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Nope meant to ping @A. B.. Sorry about that. Barkeep49 (talk) 16:41, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree. I don't think the editor has broken our rules but I do think it's time for them to make a choice.
    Others such as Mike Christie have provided good examples below that my take on our rules going forward may be too simplistic.
    --A. B. (talkcontribsglobal count) 16:46, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If want to force them to make a choice we need to change the rules to say the current choice is not OK. Barkeep49 (talk) 17:11, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I agree with the 3 choices @A. B. laid out, and with the sentiment "very simple bright line - I'm surprised we're discussing any alternatives." I am also surprised, and discouraged that so many editors seem to be adopting a permissive stance on administrators advertising their credentials to unknown entities for financial gain.
    This is inappropriate conduct for an admin. If this is permitted, I guarantee that other admins will start making money by advertising their admin-ship, and new prospective admins will definitely plan on cashing in ASAP upon being given the mop. Who wouldn't? If I were an admin, and I saw this mealy-mouthed conversation taking place, I'd immediately start looking for ways to financially profit of my adminship. This practice will grow exponentially if it is not prohibited.
    I don't want Wikipedia to be a place where admins can use their credentials to cash in off-Wiki. There are too many nefarious actors who would like to manipulate Wikipedia. I find it highly doubtful that a random good-faith person is out there looking to hire a Wikipedia adviser to help them understand NPOV, or anything of the sort. The defense I've seen, which is basically "just trust the admins bro", is inadequate. Pecopteris (talk) 22:25, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The problem with that is that in the real world there are no bright lines and that it is entirely possible to receive payment and be acting in good faith. Thryduulf (talk) 23:10, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I see your point, but disagree. For example, it's also possible to be a disruptive and tendentious editor who is acting in good faith. Nevertheless, disruptive and tendentious editing is still a potentially sanctionable offense. "I was acting in good faith" is not a defense against inappropriate behavior. I submit that touting your admin credentials to receive unknown sums of money from unknown entities is vastly more inappropriate than good-faith tendentious editing. At the end of the day, there are only two ways forward here: either we prohibit this behavior, or we do not. If we do not prohibit it, we are permitting it. What you permit, you promote. Are we sure that we want to promote this sort of conduct among sysops? Pecopteris (talk) 00:04, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    (ec) This sounds good, but I think the principles you're invoking -- payment vs. transparency -- don't actually break down in the way you're implying. I work for a company whose founder has an article on Wikipedia, and there's a controversy about the founder that has made it into national papers multiple times. I'm paid by that company. If the CEO asks me how to edit the article to reflect his view of the founder, and I tell him about the COI rules, I've advised him (that is, I've told him he should do no such thing). Are you saying I should then post a COI note on my user page? (I've not posted any such note to date because I have no intention of ever editing that or any article with which I might have a COI.). If I told him how to subvert the rules, sure, I'm a bad person. But the problem with that is not that it's advice, it's that it's advice that goes against the Wikipedia ethos. I suppose you could argue that one should disclose a COI if one plans to advise one's clients how to get around Wikipedia rules but that's unlikely to be useful. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:41, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • If you’re asked to give advice, do what you’re told and send ArbCom a note. Disclose on your user page that you are an employee of the XYZ Corp.
    • Disclosing your employment before you’re asked to make any actual edits may head off your boss later asking you to edit. You can just say, “everybody already knows I work for XYZ - they’ll immediately revert my edits.”
    • If your boss still coerces you into making actual edits, resign as an administrator.
    A. B. (talkcontribsglobal count) 04:03, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not an administrator, by the way; I was responding to the part of your post where you argued that your points applied to non-admins too, though I would make the same case for admins. Your suggested actions go beyond what is in the COI guideline. I'd have no problem following your advice if it were in that guideline, and I might even do so without that being so, but as it stands I see no basis for arguing that editors must do as you outline. I think you'd have to propose and pass changes to the COI guideline to address this situation before you could fairly make the categorical statements you make above. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:22, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Disclosing that youre an employee of a specific company, in many cases is equivalent to outing yourself. We don't require that nor should we. (t · c) buidhe 05:52, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    ????? emphasis mine: Conflict of interest (COI) editing involves contributing to Wikipedia about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, or your financial and other relationships. ltbdl (talk) 06:47, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Ltbdl emphasis mine: Conflict of interest (COI) editing involves contributing to Wikipedia about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, or your financial and other relationships.. Giving advice is not editing and it is not contributing. I strongly agree with buidhe that we do not and should not require an editor to out themselves. Especially just because someone else asked them to do something that did not involve being paid. Thryduulf (talk) 08:29, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    As another example, I was asked whether I could write an article about a person we both knew who had recently died. I explained the notability policy and my belief that subject would be unlikely to pass it. The person understood that and nothing more was said. Under your rules, if the person asking and/or the subject was my employer I would be required to out myself, declare I'd been giving paid advice and possibly resign my adminship. That is grossly disproportionate. Thryduulf (talk) 08:38, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I do not think there is a single Wikipedia policy which would require a user to disclose who their employer is. What policies require is to disclose a COI without specifying the nature of the COI. (And I would certainly not advise of listing an employer at the user page; for a while I was saying on my user page that I am a full professor at one of the top universities in the Netherlands; this was enough for some persistent users to find my professional e-mail and send some mails using it, to which I never respond as a matter of principle, and resulted in at least one case of serious harassment). Ymblanter (talk) 14:10, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This seems to be a red herring... You guys are conflating giving normal life experience advice in the course of your day jobs with your day job being to provide information about how to promote yourself on wikipedia. Those are not the same thing. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:19, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    My point is that the rules proposed by A.B. would remove any such distinction - giving any advice about Wikipedia that relates to your paid employment in any way would be treated the same as paid editing. I think this would be grossly disproportionate. Thryduulf (talk) 17:57, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I read A.B. as being a bit more nuanced than that, IMO in the description provided you would not be "Any editor being paid to advise others on Wikipedia editing must disclose their conflict of interest and the name of their clients." because you aren't actually being paid to advise on wikipedia you're being paid for something else and the question is unrelated to your core duties... Its a question about a hobby and as long as you don't step over the line into WP:PROMOTION you're good. Where it would be questionable would be if you were employed in a public relations or similar position. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 21:46, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • So. I'm an admin, and have been for years. I'm also a functionary, a member of the WMF Communications Committee, and a bunch of other things. Over the course of many years, I've been asked to speak at various conferences, including ones that aren't directly related to the Wikimedia movement, although my topic was specific to some aspect of the movement. In some of those cases, I have received an honorarium; not always, and it's never been that significant. If it is an online matter, or I didn't have expenses, I've usually had the honorarium donated to the WMF. But when I do have expenses, I am more inclined to keep it (or at least as much of it as covers my personal costs). At every single place where I have spoken, I have been asked plenty of questions about how to do things on Wikipedia: create an article, what kinds of things are needed, how we deal with COI, how we deal with disinformation, who does the editing, what is our structure...the list could be infinite. In most of these cases, I don't think there's much of a different answer to these questions if I'm answering them at an official Wikimedia event than if it's in another forum. So...would this constitute paid advising? Should I stop answering questions that could potentially bring us new editors with new expertise? There are many other people who are or have been in that position; not answering questions about Wikipedia seems to defeat the purpose of this outreach. This is a real question.

    I think that we need to be a little more cautious in how we think about these things, and accept that there are grey areas. There are those who believe that scholarships paid with movement money turn people into paid editors. There are those who think anything less than the level of abuse exhibited by Orangemoody-type editors (i.e., claiming to be specific admins and/or editors, demanding money to keep articles, etc.) is probably okay. I think it's probably somewhere in the middle, but the middle can get awfully muddy. Risker (talk) 05:07, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Most of the problems here are in the area Thryduulf has pointed out. But really the core issue is with the admin policy and it being out of date with how COI's effectively work. If we want to eliminate COI impacts on admin tool use, then the requirements for having advanced tools (in the admin policy) need to be tightened up to explicitly say "You cant accept money or other considerations in return for wikipedia-related work in any form. If you wish to do so, you cannot have advanced tools". It would eliminate any and all COI issues with admin's who may *potentially* have issues, because they wont be admins. It would also eliminate our issue with employees of the WMF and their unresolvable COI. The alternative is dicking around with the COI guideline playing whack-a-mole while people find new ways to grift. Only in death does duty end (talk) 08:36, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You cant accept money or other considerations in return for wikipedia-related work in any form would prohibit any admins from working for the WMF, Wikimedia chapters or thematic organisations. It would also prohibit them from receiving scholarships grants, scholarships, expenses or even prizes (from the WMF, chapters, etc). Taken literally it would also prohibit them from eating food at any Wikimedia-related event they didn't pay for directly. That is not the goal of the rules regarding conflicts of interest and is much broader than the last consensus I am aware of believed should be prohibited. Thryduulf (talk) 08:45, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    And it would also disincentivize or even bar good strong editors who may already be giving Wikipedia classes, giving sound and proper advice at work, and so forth, from becoming admins, a process that is already too fraught. The assumption that someone who has become an admin is going to do evil if they accept money for giving advice (and let us be clear, giving advice is a good thing and should be encouraged) is strange and bleak; the assumption that an admin who intends to do evil for money is going to announce it is, in contrast, oddly utopian. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 12:43, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    "You cant accept money or other considerations in return for wikipedia-related work in any form would prohibit any admins from working for the WMF, Wikimedia chapters or thematic organisations." Yes thats exactly right. They can volunteer for them, but they cant work for them. The point of a COI is that a conflict of interest arises when you can be forced to put one interest over another. As soon as money (or other renumeration) enters the equation, the threat of withdrawing it also does. If you wanted to narrow it down, you could limit it to employees, contractors or those offering paid services in relation to wikipedia. But it would eventually just devolve into arguments over what is pay or not, or disguising obvious fees. We should have already banned employees of the WMF from holding advanced tools on a non-staff account as soon as the UCoC reared its head because that COI is just not resolveable. Almost zero of the activities offered to third party organisations require the admin suite of tools, and of our current admin corps, (outside of those directly employed by the WMF) how many regularly do any sort of renumerated wikipedia related work? I bet its dwarfed by the amount of people who do actually perform wikipedia-related paid work who would never pass RFA (or have even had their tools removed previously). RE Nat: The assumption isnt that someone who accepts money is intending to do evil, the point of a COI is that people with otherwise good intentions can be forced to perform actions under threat - because of the money changing hands. "Do this or I dont pay you" works perfectly well on otherwise good people with good intentions when they have bills to pay. Its a risk assessment, when someone is given advanced tools it is based on the risk of them abusing them. Their past editing history, their actions, personality etc. As soon as there is a COI, that risk jumps exponentially because that assessment is now completely invalid, it doesnt matter if they are a good and decent person with only the best interests of the encypedia at heart, if they work for an organisastion that only has contempt and sees it as a trough to snuffle their snouts in. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:23, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    My employment contract doesn't say I can be fired for explaining to a competitor how to hack our systems and get our confidential data; it doesn't need to. If I did that and was found out, I'd be fired. Until then, my company assumes I will behave appropriately, but retains the right to fire for cause if it decides to do so. In the same way if we find out that someone is doing something inappropriate we discuss banning or blocking them. Creating policies that legislate what our editors and admins can do off-wiki is unnecessary, and for those who don't want their real identities known is another disincentive as it means part of one's offline life would be relevant to discussions about one's behaviour online. We don't give the admin bit to editors we think will behave in the ways we're discussing here, and for regular editors the rule is AGF anyway. Adding offwiki elements to the COI guideline would be intrusive and wouldn't actually give us any more power or provide any more behaviour guidance than we have now. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:14, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Agree with this. Several in this thread are basically assuming our admins are just waiting for an opportunity to be corrupt and betray everyone's trust. That's a bad basis for writing policy. If there's evidence of violating policy, do something; if not, don't. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:01, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    But that conflict of interest doesn't exist when what is being offered is actually advice, because the client wants the advice and we want everyone to be well advised about Wikipedia, to whatever extent they'll accept. If someone is paying for something other than advice, then yes, conflict of interest arises. If the admin is administering over things with a visible relationship to who he is getting paid by, then yes, that's a conflict of interest, but it is no more true than if they were getting paid by those folks for something unrelated to Wikipedia. Presumably most of our admins have an income of some sort from some source. Are we to make every admin declare their sources of income? -- Nat Gertler (talk) 17:50, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @NatGertler: But why does the client want the advice? If the answer is so that they can better promote themselves on wikipedia thats a problem and its hard to come up with other reasons why someone would pay for advice about wikipedia. Its settled community consensus that you can't engage in promotion or assist others in engaging in promotion. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 21:49, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    its hard to come up with other reasons [than promotion] why someone would pay for advice about wikipedia. It really, really isn't. Many people want advice about how to contribute in accordance with the rules, they want advice about what the rules are, they want advice about how to learn editing, they want advice about how the whole thing works, they want advice about how a specific thing works, they want advice about whether Wikipedia as a whole/a given article is reliable, they want advice about how to spot scams they've heard about, etc. I've been asked all these things and more over the years. For many people offering to pay someone for their time and/or expertise isn't because they are a bad actor it's because they simply wouldn't think not to do otherwise, because they pay other people for their time and expertise and they get paid for theirs. Thryduulf (talk) 22:00, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    For what purpose? Their own pursuit of wikipedia as a hobby? Would you agree with the statement if people was replaced by companies? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 22:23, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I have given requested advice to many people about Wikipedia (none for money, yet), and while yes, there have been those who wanted to use Wikipedia for promotion (in which case my advice is "ya don't"), there have been at least as many who wanted to figure out how to get factual misinformation off of their page, or are concerned that their page has been turned into an attack page, or here's someone who has been replacing the name of their CFO with "Duckface McGee". I.e., they want factual correct information, they don't want some POV material, and they want vandalism addressed. All of these things are in accord with what Wikipedia wants. And most or all of the advice I give is advice that could be found somewhere on Wikipedia, if they just knew how to navigate the eleventeen policies, guidelines and essays. "Here's how you state your conflict of interest, here is how you request an edit, you'll want to state your request in terms of policies and guidelines and here are the three of those that seem relevant to your situation." Very not evil. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 22:20, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If you've never accepted payment what is the point of the long unrelated anecdote? We're talking about paid consulting here. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 22:25, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You stated "its hard to come up with other reasons why someone would pay for advice about wikipedia", and I was merely showing that it wasn't, that there are other reasons why folks might want advice, and all of it is reasons that some might be willing to pay for (speaking both as someone who has been asked for Wikipedia advice and paid for non-Wikipedia advice repeatedly, so I have the sense that people are willing to pay for advice.) I'm not sure why you feel your inability to come up with reasons why shouldn't be responded to. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 22:39, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    "Harmless wealthy eccentric" was on my list along with academics and non-profits. Those seems to be tiny niches compared to what the vast majority of the people willing to pay for wikipedia consulting want which is promotion... For profit enterprises don't spent money on things which don't have a profit potential. I think disclosure is also merited in the second and third cases, all three in fact if the eccentric is notable. It would be fine for a sitting admin to do consulting work for the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation but they would need to disclose it. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 22:52, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Do you have any evidence for your assertions that people acting in good faith are "tiny niches" and that "for profit enterprises don't spend money on things which don't have a profit potential"? You also seem to completely disregard the possibly that something a for-profit entity wants might be exactly the same thing Wikipedia wants - something Nat Gertler's experience, and my experience, proves does happen. Your entire approach to this issue seems to be assuming that everybody is acting in bad faith and/or with a motive of somehow undermining Wikipedia. Thryduulf (talk) 23:07, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So I do consulting (that doesn't touch on wiki in any way)... That is primarily why people hire consultants just as a class of occupation. Neither of you have any experience in paid consulting with regards to wikipedia unless I'm missing something. Do you have any relevant examples or experiences to share? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 23:12, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I have experience of advising regarding Wikipedia and teaching Wikipedia editing, all unpaid but in some cases I did receive expenses. I also have experience of working for Wikimedia UK and of dealing with the general public as a high profile Wikipedia person at Wikimania 2014 and as one of many ordinary attendees at the 2005 and 2016 Wikimanias. I also frequently wear Wikipedia t-shirts which sometimes leads to being asked questions about Wikipedia when I'm out and about. I also have some experience of paid and unpaid consulting regarding matters unrelated to Wikipedia. This means I have very extensive experience of the types of questions people ask and the types of things they want advice about, spanning over a decade of interactions. So, I do know what I'm talking about. Now would you like to answer my question? Thryduulf (talk) 23:56, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't have any evidence that that people acting in good faith are "tiny niches" but I did not make that claim so thats not surprising... As for "for profit enterprises don't spend money on things which don't have a profit potential..." I wasn't aware that there was an exception to WP:COI and WP:PROMOTION based on interest alignment. I'd be interested to hear more about that. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 00:04, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So you're saying that you don't have any particularly more relevant experience than us, but you're putting down our views for lack of relevant experience and promoting your own? And you apparently think that a company will not see such things as having the Wikipedia page about them not be an attack page as being advantageous to their efforts without directly being promotion? Got it. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 23:57, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not sure how that doesn't fall under WP:PROMOTION can you explain where you're coming from? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 00:05, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Addressing an attack page is very much in line with what WP:PROMOTION says a Wikipedia page should be: "Information about companies and products must be written in an objective and unbiased style". If the page about CorpityCorp says primarily "they make really crappy products and everyone hates them, they stink and the Feds have outlawed half of them and should outlaw the other half", the CorpityCorp CEO wanting to know how to get that non-objective, biased material off of their page is not seeking to add puffery, advertising, promotion but merely removing inaccurate and biased POV statements, in line with our goals. Paying someone for some time discussing how one gets such a page deleted or have the attack material removed is not asking them to edit in promotion. It's not seeking to edit out negative but potentially appropriate material. It would be asking how to achieve edits that should be non-controversial. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 00:21, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    And in that scenario we would absolutely require the COI to be disclosed... There is no "fixing an attack page" exemption to disclosing a COI. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 00:25, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So if someone advised the person from corpitycorp that they need to disclose their COI, make an edit request, and make neutral posts at coin/npovn explaining their COI and the article issues, the person giving advice would have to disclose a COI on-wiki? ScottishFinnishRadish (talk) 00:44, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    In context both the CorpityCorp CEO and the person they paid have a COI, if either intends to edit the page CorpityCorp of course they're going to have to disclose that COI. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 00:47, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, the person who makes the edits should absolutely disclose their COI. But if the hired admin is telling them "here's how you declare a COI, here's where the template it request an edit is, here's a list of deletion processes", none of that is the admin actually doing anything on Wikipedia. There's nothing there that requires the admin to declare a COI. If the admin were to be the one who, say, closes the deletion discussion, then yes, there's a COI problem there. But not at the advise level. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 00:51, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You're conflating two discussions, in the current hypothetical the editor is no an admin. If editor X is paid one million dollars by CorpityCorp they most definitely need to declare that COI if they intend to edit CorpityCorp... If not then the COI exists but doesn't need to be disclosed. What we appear to have community consensus for is that admins are to be held to higher standards than regular editors, hence the suggestion that admins should be required to disclose the COI regardless of whether they intend to edit a related page. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 00:54, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This is just common sense from my POV. Again: we either permit this sort of behavior, or we do not. What you permit, you promote. The question is, do we want to promote this type of conduct among sysops? I think the answer is obviously "no". So it should not be permitted. If it is permitted, we are setting a horrible precedent. We cannot tolerate admins collecting undisclosed sums of money from unknown entities for "Wikipedia advising". That's extremely sus, and I hope we can all agree on that, regardless of our differing opinions as to what, exactly, should be done about it.
    I also think it's naïve to suggest, as some have, that the entities paying for "Wikipedia advising" are probably just nice, friendly, innocent folks who want to learn how to be a good Wikipedian. Come on. Pecopteris (talk) 01:06, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not sure you're actually reading what other people are writing. We are not talking about "paying for Wikipedia advertising", and despite your assumption of bad faith there are people willing to pay to learn how to do things in accordance with Wikipedia's rules. Thryduulf (talk) 08:25, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Pecopteris: NatGertler has pointed out on my talk page that I misread your comment (you wrote "advising" I read "advertising") so I redact my previous statement, however my principle point stands - there very much are people who will (offer to) pay to learn how to do things properly. Several of the people I've interacted with in Wikipedia training sessions would have paid if we weren't offering it for free. These are people who either share Wikipedia's goal or have a goal that is entirely compatible with Wikipedia's, i.e. we want a well-written article (i.e. comprehensive and neutral) about every notable subject, they want a well-written Wikipedia article (i.e. one that is comprehensive and which meets all our polices, whatever those policies are) about a notable topic with which they are associated. If we prohibit these people getting the advice they seek from white-hat editors then they will have no choice but to get the advice from black-hat editors, which does not benefit anybody. Thryduulf (talk) 16:13, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Nothing anyone has proposed would preclude people from paying to learn wikipedia from white hat editors, they just wouldn't be able to pay a current admin to teach them. What of value does a current admin bring to the table that another experienced editor or a retired admin doesn't? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 18:06, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Nothing anyone has proposed would preclude people from paying to learn wikipedia from white hat editors that might not be your proposal, but at least two proposals in this thread seek to prohibit everybody from receiving any payment for any Wikipedia activity. The effect of at least one of them would also prohibit things like receiving grants of books to improve articles.
    Why does it matter whether a good faith actor giving correct advice is an admin or not? Thryduulf (talk) 18:34, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't actually see anyone making that argument, I see other people characterizing their argument as that which isn't really the same thing. Is receiving grants of books to improve an article a common thing? I've never come across that and I can't find it in the discussion here. It matters because admins have special privileges both official and unofficial within our system, we rely on them to be trustworthy and there's no possible way that the trust would remain if they were making a living on consulting for notable people and organizations without the community being able to know what notable people and organizations were paying them (and even then it would likely be the source of endless friction). Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:55, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I do not see this supposed second discussion here, nor do I see any relevance to the general topic at hand if it did, which is admins offering to be advisors. I have not seen anyone suggesting we should do away with our paid editing policies. And I am not seeing that supposed community consensus in this discussion, I am seeing an array of views. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 01:10, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I thought the topic was about admins being paid to be advisors, not offering advice (something nobody seems to have a problem with). That community consensus is not in this discussion, it is longstanding... Admins are held to a higher standard than regular admins, thats how it works. Do you agree that under our current rules an admin who was paid one million dollars to advise CorpityCorp would have to disclose a COI if they wanted to edit CorpityCorp or a related article? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 01:16, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not going to jump through hoops answering obvious questions that are not at hand. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 04:43, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If it was obvious I wouldn't have asked, you appear to be arguing that providing paid advice has no COI impact on the person giving the advice. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 18:04, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Wow. You are just acting cartoonishly desperate in your efforts to have what I say not count... and in this case, claiming that I "appear to be arguing" the exact opposite of something i have specifically repeatedly said ("If the admin is administering over things with a visible relationship to who he is getting paid by, then yes, that's a conflict of interest", "If the admin were to be the one who, say, closes the deletion discussion, then yes, there's a COI problem there." "Like all COIs, it only needs announcement if they are editing (or administering) in their COI areas, which are already covered by existing policy.") If you're just here to troll me, feel free to use my talk page instead. -- Nat Gertler (talk) Nat Gertler (talk) 18:46, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Then I guess it wasn't obvious was it... Of course what you say counts, WP:CIVIL please. Would you care to reframe your disagreement with my position if you feel that I am ignoring what you say? Do you actually disagree with it? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 19:59, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Kindly find someone else to ask to jump through your hoops... or better yet no one. I am not in the mood for sea lion games. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 21:12, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You were just warned about being CIVIL, do I now have to link WP:NPA before you interact with your fellow editors with respect and camaraderie? Horse Eye's Back (talk) 16:15, 16 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Only in death I completely disagree with this and agree with Christie, Rhododendrites and Nat Gertler. Nobody should be editing or admining in a way that is non-neutral, but simply being employed by someone does not generate a conflict of interest with everything even tangentially related to everything that organisation does. I used to work for Wikimedia UK, this did not affect my ability to edit and admin in a neutral manner regarding things unrelated to the Wikimedia movement. My receiving expenses to teach people how to edit Wikipedia did not result in my doing anything to undermine the neutrality of the encyclopaedia - indeed by teaching subject matter experts how to edit in accordance with policy it strengthened it. Advising people, whether they are your employers or not, how to follow policy is something everybody should do when the circumstances arise. Thryduulf (talk) 18:11, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I was once asked by an employer for advice on something they wanted to add to Wikipedia about the company. My advice was along the lines of "Don't do that like that, because..." and I explained the relevant policy. What a surprise it is now to discover what an evil and corrupt admin I was at the time - I guess it's just as well I resigned the bit before I was caught. People ask me how to do things on Wikipedia all the time, and it helps both those people and the project if I advise them - but if I'm an admin, I mustn't do that for an employer, or for someone who makes me a cup of tea that they don't charge me for? Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 18:51, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There is a big difference between an editor being asked for advice by their employer (who was going to pay them anyway), and an editor proactively soliciting payment for advice, and trading specifically on their admin status. Barnards.tar.gz (talk) 20:10, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If you think one is acceptable and the other is not, what is it about the unacceptable one that makes it unacceptable? Where is the line between them? Thryduulf (talk) 20:16, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The latter is intentionally and proactively marketing themself as an admin-for-hire. Their admin status is an intrinsic part of the deal. They are accessing a revenue stream that would be unavailable to them if they were not an admin. Whereas the former is employed primarily for other purposes, and the giving of advice doesn’t influence their remuneration. Barnards.tar.gz (talk) 20:43, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If the paid activity is limited to advice then there is no difference between admins and non-admins. There's no way to "trade on their admin status". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:47, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Sure there is. As I mentioned above, the specific ad we're talking about states that they're an admin. What purpose is there in making that statement if not to make you more attractive to hire than all the other people advertising their wiki services for hire? RoySmith (talk) 20:51, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    A fair point, so I'll rephrase: if they're limited to giving advice, the admin bit makes no difference to the advice they can give. I suppose in this case mentioning it in the ad is intended to signal that they are a competent and experienced editor, which is probably the case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:58, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I would be more comfortable if they demonstrated their skill by listing the number of WP:FA or WP:GA nominations they've had approved. Or how many of those reviews they've done. Or their work at WP:GOCE, WP:AFC, WP:NPP, or some other area of the pedia that involves writing and/or evaluating content. If you were looking to hire a pen, would you be happy to see a candidate walk into the interview carrying a mop?
    My admin work has mostly taught me how to identify sockpuppets. Surely that's not something that would be valuable to a potential client looking for advice on how to write articles. What would be valuable to a potential client is that I could show them how to make their sockpuppets undetectable. But I assume that's not what most people here would be happy with me doing. RoySmith (talk) 21:12, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    What is valuable to a potential client depends on what they are looking to hire someone to do/advise on. If you were looking for someone to advise you about writing Good or featured articles, then yes you want someone experienced in those areas (who may or may not be an admin), but many (maybe most) people looking for advice about Wikipedia will not understand what those terms mean if they've even heard of them - they'll be looking for someone who is generally clueful and someone like that will likely think "administrator" means just that. If you are looking for someone to advise you about how to comply with policies regarding COI or image licenses or notability or something else then you want someone who knows the relevant policies. Not everybody who is looking for help regarding things other than content is doing so for nefarious reasons, not everybody who is offering to advise regarding Wikipedia is doing so for nefarious reasons. Thryduulf (talk) 21:23, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If a potential client is conversant enough with Wikipedia that they know what WP:NPP means, they probably don't need advice. "Administrator" is a word that conveys "I have a reasonable degree of knowledge about the matter"... and in the case of an administrator, that's at least mostly true. -- Nat Gertler (talk) 22:48, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It conveys power but it only implies knowledge. As you say not all admins are equally knowledgable, but they are more or less equally powerful. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 20:01, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Actually "admin" implies to the average person "in charge of deciding what does and doesn't go into an article" and "has special skills and abilities that non-admins don't have". If the reason you can sell your services is because you're taking advantage of that generalized misunderstanding by even many registered users, you are taking advantage of people's ignorance, misrepresenting yourself, and just generally being...well, again, I know that people who are aware of this editor's identity believe they are someone who would never do anything to harm the project. But, yeah. Valereee (talk) 17:17, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'd just like to take a moment to remind everyone about Levivich Advisor Group's price-matching guarantee: if you find cheaper advice anywhere, just let us know and we will match or beat that price -- guaranteed. Levivich Advisor Group: the Cheapest Advice, Guaranteed! Levivich (talk) 17:39, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I could put my two cents in here ... but never mind. Wehwalt (talk) 17:55, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think for two cents I can write a script that emails people "no" (and possibly on occasions "maybe"). Then I can upsell on more specific advice, like why not. Alpha3031 (tc) 13:03, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • IMO it it shouldn't and isn't going to happen that we'd implement tougher rules for off-wiki advising for admins than for editors. COI is already defined too broadly and vaguely and this would be a massive expansion into more broadness and vagueness. And the COI disclosure rules amount to near-self-outing and so are really only workable for SPA's and other similar narrower role accounts and a typical admin is likely to be the opposite of that. North8000 (talk) 18:22, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • From what I can tell it is just not against the rules, and I am kind of fine with that. They are not editing or using tools, just talking. Now the moment they do edit or use admin tools then we have WP:PAID & WP:UPE to cover it. I do not see the purposed changes to be particularly helpful. PackMecEng (talk) 00:10, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I know opinions are a dime a dozen and I'm sure someone's already echoed my thoughts, but my gut reaction is
  • if they're being paid to do anything that an unregistered user couldn't do themselves--create pages, delete pages, directly edit protected/semi-protected articles, give opinions in discussions solely because the company hopes their admin status will confer more weight to their thoughts, etc.--or if they don't disclose what they were paid for, that's not okay.
  • Otherwise is an admin's being paid to just give advice, or to do ordinary uncontroversial edits ("this company asked me to convert their draft into proper Wiki-markup"), etc., and they disclose exactly which edits they were paid for, that doesn't seem so bad to me. 2603:8001:4542:28FB:D4B6:F2D4:E313:524B (talk) 00:12, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • first reaction, upon learning that an admin is waving around their mop to make money, is certainly "Yuck". But "yuck" is not a basis for rational thought. As some others have stated above, I've been approached by people with offers to do various things for pay, and my response is a somewhat more polite but no less firm "HELL no". And don't think simple "advising" couldn't cause problems—right off the top of my head, I can think of some truly nasty black-hat practices I could teach someone to do, because I've seen them done, and seen how the black hats ultimately screwed up and got caught. (I will not, for obvious reasons, be sharing specifics here.) But of course, a lot of experienced non-admins could do that too. I just see a big difference between an admin advertising their services as such, and an admin happening to be asked for advice by someone, even if it's an employer or the like, and realistically, admins are probably some of the best people in that type of instance to tell someone how to get it right and not cause disruption. (In a lot of cases, of course, the answer to that "How do I...?" question will be "You don't", but well, admins will generally be used to telling people news they don't want to hear, too.) I also see a major difference between an admin receiving something like an honorarium for speaking to a general audience about their experiences on Wikipedia, or some complimentary food at an event, and an admin seeking to be hired by a specific client to act as their advisor. So, I don't know whether we would have a consensus that admins should be forbidden from doing that, but if I found out one was doing it my regard for them would drop by quite a lot, and I think from this discussion, I'm not by any means the only one. I'm definitely in the "should not" camp here—I'm just not sure if I'd take that final step into "may not". Seraphimblade Talk to me 09:25, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Seraphim I think you bring up a crucial point. I think there is a difference between marketing ones services and some of the other scenarios discussed - e.g. an employer asking for advice. The element of solicitation does seem like part of what has caused me unease. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 16:05, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Agree with Barkeep49; there is a palpable difference between being asked for advice and actively soliciting a service to provide advice. It seems to me, from reading this thread, that it's the solicitation that causes most concern, not the actual provision of advice/support/assistance to others. Risker (talk) 17:46, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This is where I am, too. I see that there are multiple people here who know and trust this admin and believe them to be unlikely to do anything to harm the project, but I can't help but think parlaying your mop into a paid gig, no matter how you do it, is a bit...well, icky. Resign the mop and hire out to give advice as an experienced editor, but if the mop is what gets you the bigger bucks or makes you more attractive as a consultant, that's really problematic. I feel like there's a clear choice to be made, and it shouldn't be difficult. Keep the mop, OR get paid. Not both. Valereee (talk) 16:39, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This is very simple… if you are paid to edit WP, disclose it. If you are paid to advise someone else about editing WP, disclose it. If you are paid to do anything related to WP, disclose it.
What happens next depends on the nature of the edit. Blueboar (talk) 16:31, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is lost in a lot of the comments above is that there is no clear goal for what we want to achieve or why:

  • If an editor is acting in bad faith everything we say here is irrelevant - they have no incentive to follow the rules (indeed they have an incentive not to). When discovered, editors acting in bad faith should be sanctioned (up to and including bans) regardless of the way they are acting in bad faith. We thus do not need to consider them further here.
  • If an editor is acting in good faith then there are a few possible outcomes:
    1. The advice is good and results in an improvement to the encyclopaedia. We should be encouraging this, not making it more difficult let alone prohibiting it.
    2. The advice is good, but there is no change to the encyclopaedia. This could be neutral (in which case why should we care about it?) or it could be a benefit to the encyclopaedia (e.g. someone chooses not to do something that is against policy) - again this is something we should be encouraging.
    3. The advice is good, but there is a negative change to the encyclopaedia. This is by definition not the fault of the person giving the advice, most likely the advice has been ignored - in which case it's likely that the action would have been done anyway so the net effect on the project is neutral.
    4. The advice was bad. This is something we should care about, but what we should do about it will depend on the nature of the advice. For example there may be a CIR issue, it may be that there is a misunderstanding about policy (in which case we should consider whether the policy is at fault), etc
  • In none of these scenarios am I seeing anything that suggests banning the giving of advice, whether for pay or otherwise, will be a positive to the encyclopaedia. Thryduulf (talk) 18:52, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Exploiting (because that's really what it is) a privilege granted by the community for personal gain is, if nothing else, unethical. A significant portion of projectspace guidance is dedicated to putting personal desires and opinions aside to put the wiki first, e.g. WP:INVOLVED, WP:COI, WP:3RR, and leveraging community trust for money is violates the spirit of that. WP:TOOLMISUSE says Administrator tools may not be used as part of any paid editing activity. It does not specify that the activity must be editing itself, but regardless I have a pretty hard time believing that any admin would seriously think advertising their adminship to solicit payment for advice is 100% in line with what is written. There's also a notable difference between soliciting payment and being approached; I don't at all think there's a problem with sysops giving advice if asked – I think there is an issue if they seek personal reward from it. Giraffer (talk·contribs) 10:02, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If someone writes on a job board website, "I am User:[whatever] on Wikipedia," then User:whatever should either confirm or deny that link on-wiki, so everyone (both on-wiki and off-wiki) knows whether the person on the job board website really is the same as the Wikipedia editor. Just a few months ago, we saw an example where someone off-wiki was pretending to be a wiki admin in order to get a job. At the very least, policy should require Wikipedia editors to disclose on their userpage any off-wiki accounts on job boards (or similar) if those off-wiki accounts claim to be a specific Wikipedia editor. This is to prevent fraud and impersonation.

Let's talk about the real issue, though, which is monetizing Wikipedia editing. I'm rather amused to see all the people who are outraged that an admin would advertise Wikipedia consulting services and trade on their adminship ("Hire me, I have been a Wikipedia admin for X years...") or editing experience ("I have been a Wikipedia editor for X years," "I have made X new articles"). This is amusing because it's so very common that people monetize their Wikipedia editing (that is, use their volunteer editing to get money in one way or another), and the community's reaction varies from a shrug to outrage based on... I'm not sure what. Here's a list of just some of the many Wikipedia editors who have monetized their editing experience:

  • Jimbo, who sold an NFT of his first edit for $750,000, among many other monetizations
  • Every editor who ever worked for the WMF
  • Every Wikipedian-in-Residence
  • Every editor who gets paid by a Wikimedia affiliate
  • Every WikiEd instructor who gets paid to edit or supervise/coordinate others' editing
  • Every editor who's ever gotten paid by a Wikimedia grant to edit or supervise/coordinate others' editing
  • Every editor who has sold a book about Wikipedia editing (or tried to)
  • That one editor who famously got tenure at his university based on his Wikipedia editing, and anyone else who's put their Wikipedia editing experience on a resume or otherwise used it to get paying work (or a promotion)

There are a ton of admins and non-admins who fall into one of those above categories. (I think mostly admins, in fact, though I'm not sure.) What is the difference between an admin being paid as a Wikipedian-in-Residence and an admin posting an ad on a job board website? I don't see a meaningful difference there.

The other day we had GTAV as the TFA on the front page because it was the 10th anniversary of the game's release. That work well for the game's 10th-anniversary internet advertising campaign. Is there anything a paid editor could have done to have Wikipedia advertise GTAV that volunteer editors didn't already do for free? And when it's not GTAV, it's Taylor Swift or some other product we're often advertising on the main page. Wikipedia editors promote businesses and products for free all the time. Whether they get paid for it or not, I don't think even makes a difference. Levivich (talk) 17:52, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Note that many are of the opinion that Admins should not hold WMF or wikipedian-in-residence positions, there seems to be a pretty diverse collection of views from the community on this and you're right that consensus ranges from "a shrug to outrage" depending on the context. I would caution both the contingent that wants to treat admins as Roman Senators and ban them from any commercial activity even marginally related to their roles and the contingent that wants to see no restrictions put on the commercial activities of Admins at all that neither of those extremes is sustainable. Horse Eye's Back (talk) 17:58, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Levivich regarding If someone writes on a job board website, "I am User:[whatever] on Wikipedia," then User:whatever should either confirm or deny that link on-wiki... we've got that already. See foundation:Policy:Terms of Use under Paid Contributions Without Disclosure. I'd be surprised if you could find anybody who has ever complied with that, but it's there. RoySmith (talk) 17:58, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I feel like there are levels, here. Too lazy to look into the Jimbo thing, but working at WMF, being a WiR, getting paid by an affiliate, being a WikiEd instructior, and getting a grant all to me seem fairly innocuous, although IMO they all should be disclosed. Selling a book about WP editing...meh. I don't actually object to someone doing that if they aren't giving themselves false authority by using their adminship. The tenure, well that's on the Uni, IMO. Who does that? Valereee (talk) 18:03, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd also add the reward board, where some have offered cash awards, as a place where the community looks the other way on paid editing. Though I think it is challenging to put into practice, I think it may be more in line with community expectations to set a standard for ethical conduct for all editors, rather than just a subset.
Note that disclosing external accounts on Wikipedia is already a mandatory policy that was passed on Meta-wiki. isaacl (talk) 18:32, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suspect "Every editor who ever worked for the WMF" is too broad. Community liaisons and such, sure. But I doubt editing experience carries much weight for things like software engineering jobs for over a decade now beyond indicating that someone might be more intrinsically motivated. I've even known WMF managers who might well have seen editing experience as a negative, since it could lead to employees pushing for things "the community" wants rather than what the manager wants or publicly disagreeing with WMF actions. Anomie 12:11, 20 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is not addressed by existing policies and guidelines[edit]

The discussions above are about whether the behaviour in question is ethical or unethical; or harmful or harmless. What most people seem to agree on is that it's not banned by the existing policies and guidelines, since WP:COI's language is very clear about its application to edits. Can I suggest that those who think a change to COI (or elsewhere) is desirable work on wording? Nothing new is getting said above. I think getting a consensus just among those who want a change would force resolution of some of the issues raised above, which might shortcut some debate when the wording is proposed. The conversation above is becoming a sinkhole and seems unlikely to go anywhere. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:16, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion: change WP:ADMINACCT from:
Conduct elsewhere incompatible with adminship (off-site attacking, etc.)
Conduct elsewhere incompatible with adminship (off-site attacking, seeking financial gain from adminship, etc.).
The context of this passage is a list of things that may lead to sanctions or desysopping. It isn’t an outright prohibition, but is strongly suggestive that this conduct is unbecoming of an administrator.
Barnards.tar.gz (talk) 20:43, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I hadn't been ready to propose a change which is why I didn't start this conversation with any. But Seraphimblade's point did crystalize something for me and is making me think of possible wording. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 20:47, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pretty well established this isn't against the rules, but in the interest of finding the smallest policy change which would satisfy the greatest number of people, I wonder how many people in this discussion who have expressed objections would have those at least somewhat assuaged by saying "admins can advise just like anyone else, subject to the limitations at WP:TOOLMISUSE and WP:COI, but they should not use their adminship to advertise their services (i.e. when you post an ad for services, omit 'I'm an admin')"? — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:51, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That, as a practical matter, very likely will make it much more difficult to get hired, especially if you are not allowed to mention it at any stage of the engagement process. I don't see this as a small change. Wehwalt (talk) 14:59, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think "you are not allowed to mention [you are an admin] at any stage of the engagement process" would be at all practical, let alone enforceable. Some people considering when considering whether to hire a given user will look at their userpage, if they see that says the user is an admin they may ask about it. It's also a key part of an editor's experience and is going to be difficult to avoid mentioning. Personally I would rather not restrict what neutral and factual information about themselves and their experience, the project will not benefit from that in any way. It may also make it harder for good faith editors to get hired than bad faith ones, which something that would harm the project. Thryduulf (talk) 15:22, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you
  1. wouldn't get hired if you weren't an admin, you're taking advantage of your "special" status
  2. are allowing your client to continue to misunderstand that admins don't actually have any special control over content and that the fact you're an admin makes you absolutely no more valuable to them than if you were an equally experienced non-admin advisor
...well, honestly this is looking more and more slimy to me. Valereee (talk) 17:06, 19 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I don't think that someone should be using their status as an admin to increase the profitability of their advising or paid editing gig in the first place. Adminship involves responsibilities and trusts that go beyond just what you do with the tools; while obviously it's not possible to demand that every single mention or reference to their status as an admin serve the goals of Wikipedia, I think it's fair to say that using it as an advertising point for a business is completely inappropriate. If it would be harder for them to get hired without advertising that they're an admin, then they shouldn't be getting hired. And if, as a practical matter, not mentioning that they're an admin would make it harder for them to be hired, this does imply that as a practical matter, at least some of the people hiring them probably expect to get some sort of special inside influence or information in a way that creates, for Wikipedia as a whole, the appearance of impropriety. And there is precedent for binding admins against even the appearance of impropriety -- it is part of the rationale for WP:INVOLVED, for instance. --Aquillion (talk) 09:39, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    My point was manly that forbidding someone from mentioning they were and admin at any time (rather than just in an advert) would be impractical and unenforceable. However, if good faith advisors are not allowed to say they are an admin but bad faith advisers are because they by definition aren't following our rules (and as we see with paid editing scams, there are many claims of adminship by people who are not) then the unsuspecting client is more likely to hire a bad faith adviser than a good faith one - this will make things worse for enwp. Thryduulf (talk) 09:51, 23 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think there should be guidance that consultants/advisors inform their clients that they remain ethically bound to follow Wikipedia's policy, guidance, and best practices, and that they cannot agree to any terms that would limit their ability to do so. Thus consultants would be free to take the same steps as they would ordinarily if they suspected their clients of any non-policy conforming behaviour. isaacl (talk) 15:19, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with this. Perhaps also we could set up an information page that those engaging in paid editing and paid advising are required to inform their clients of. That page would explain in plain English (i.e. without Wikipedia jargon) what paid editors and advisers and their clients must do and what they may not do, along with a link to send an email to (probably) the paid queue, if they wish to let us know about people not doing as they should. Thryduulf (talk) 15:27, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That could also be handed out by advanced rights holders who list such on their resumes and gain employment. Wehwalt (talk) 15:36, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Wikipedia:WikiProject Cooperation page covers some of this, though it's not maintained. Full disclosure: I hate typing the names of WikiProject Integrity and WikiProject Cooperation. The concepts are so much broader than how they apply to paid editing. isaacl (talk) 00:05, 22 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe amend WP:TOOLMISUSE to Administrator tools may not be used as part of any paid editing activity Administrators may not solicit payment for any Wikipedia-related activities, except as a Wikipedian-in-Residence, or when the payment is made by the Wikimedia Foundation or an affiliate of the WMF. Emphasis on soilicit -- this wouldn't completely ban COI/PAID editing for sysops, but it would prohibit them from proactively seeking payment for their activities as appears to be the case here. Giraffer (talk·contribs) 16:24, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
An admin who receives payment from any company (regarding the Foundation, let it make the rules in this context) has a COI for that company and should never use the admin bit in it's favor. This is even merely peeking at deleted content. This applies even to a janitor who the company doesn't even know he ever touched a computer. Animal lover |666| 18:51, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's a shout. Extending the sentence rather than replacing part of it might be better, so: Administrators may not solicit payment for any Wikipedia-related activities, nor may they use their tools as part of any conflict-of-interest activity, except as a Wikipedian-in-Residence, or when the payment is made by the Wikimedia Foundation or an affiliate of the WMF. Giraffer (talk·contribs) 19:31, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm still not understanding what is trying to be achieved here? How will these changes benefit the encyclopaedia? Thryduulf (talk) 19:37, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure I'd forbid it. (I'm not sure I wouldn't, either, I'm still considering that.) I am sure, though, that if it's allowed, anyone who is "advising" clients on Wikipedia-related matters should be required to disclose that, even if not directly making edits. Basically—if you make money from Wikipedia-related activities, you disclose. Period, end of story. Seraphimblade Talk to me 20:41, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If you make money from Wikipedia-related activities, you disclose.
  • "advising" clients on Wikipedia-related matters should be required to disclose that, even if not directly making edits.
These two issues to me are distinct. Disclosure is a tick box exercise. It probably allows the inviting of scrutiny for sure, and yes being paid is a compounding issue. Ultimately our paid editing policies are merely extensions of a lot of existing COI policy. But indirect impacts to the projects only being mitigated through WP:PAID would leave some glaring holes because there is little precedent or policy in this space.
The root issue is we don't want someone repeatedly giving bad advice off-wiki either deliberately, accidently through bias, or accidentally through incompetence; that results in damage to the projects or an erosion of its values. Paid or otherwise.
Outside of the extremely broad ranging and all encompassing aspects of WP:ADMINACCT and WP:ADMINCOND do we actually have any solid explicit policy basis that could be acted upon for any account? If you put the admin tools aside do we have any onsite policy that forbids any contributor from advising a client from taking actions on site that run in opposition to furthering the interests of the encyclopedia? WP:EXTERNALREL falls short; the terms of use doesn't explicitly require a disclosure for the the provision of advice, nor does it exclude non-editing activities which might result in on wiki disruption. WP:MEAT you'd think would cover it, but the policy as written doesn't. many instances can get plugged with WP:CANVASSING but if there isn't collusion to disrupt consensus processes it doesn't apply.
The easiest way to plug this gap for non-admins and admins alike would be think of it in a similar way to disallowing proxying edits for banned editors. In my mind it would be something fairly broad. Something along the lines of advice or guidance that leads to edits which are in contravention of policy, could make you accountable for those actions. Particularly if the advice itself is egregiously and/or consistently incorrect or out of alignment in policy, or that the outcomes of advice are in more than one instance resulting in egregious and/or consistent breaches of policy. You could apply that in a lot of settings. Seddon talk 23:32, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
advice or guidance that leads to edits which are in contravention of policy, could make you accountable for those actions. If we tell user:Example at the teahouse or on their talk page not to do X because it's against policy, but then they go and do it anyway, we don't hold the person giving advice as responsible for Example's actions. What makes it any different if the advice is given somewhere off Wikipedia?
If you give advice that is egregiously and/or consistently incorrect or out of alignment in policy then you should be dealt with identically regardless of where you give that advice. Unless there is some fundamental difference between venues I'm not aware of? Thryduulf (talk) 14:38, 21 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What about advice on how to avoid scrutiny of COI edits? I can think of several ways to do that. Valereee (talk) 10:46, 22 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]