Wikipedia talk:Consensus

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Revert re presumed consensus[edit]

@Nikkimaria:, you reverted my edit with the explanation that it "overstates the case not only in the specific wording but also the prominent placement." Before we talk about placement, I'd like to learn how the text overstated the case. Please let me know where I went wrong. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 03:38, 28 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The proposed text stated that edits "have consensus" until reverted etc. The text of the body states that they have presumed consensus - a subtle but important distinction. If I make a (new, bold, undiscussed) edit and you revert it a few minutes later, my edit didn't have consensus; as SILENT states, you "find out whether your edit has consensus when it sticks". Nikkimaria (talk) 03:47, 28 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So the wording "All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted" doesn't overstate the case (depending upon where it is placed), do I have that right? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 05:22, 28 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The specific wording in the policy is "An edit has presumed consensus until it is disputed or reverted" - "changed" is addressed in the following sentence. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:15, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is there anything in the "following sentence" ("Should another editor revise that edit then the new edit will have presumed consensus until it meets with disagreement") that conflicts with "All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted"? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 00:39, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, depending what the change is. If something like this is to be included in the lead, it makes sense to use phrasing consistent with the existing policy. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:31, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Regarding placement, let's work one on thing at a time.
Please help me see why you view "All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted" as inconsistent with the two sentences in the policy. Please give me an example of a change for which the outcome would be different under the "following sentence" and the latest version of my sentence. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 02:41, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Your version assumes any change to an edit means the edit doesn't have consensus. A change can fundamentally alter the original edit, but it can also be entirely congruent with the original - eg if you add a sentence and I add a wikilink to it, I've changed your edit but am not disputing it. And this process is what is reflected in the extant IMPLICITCONSENSUS section. What's wrong with the existing policy wording? Nikkimaria (talk) 02:53, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In your example the presumed consensus for the text without a wikilink is replaced by the presumed consensus for the text with a wikilink. This is what the two sentences in IMPLICIT say and what my proposed single sentence says. I'm still not seeing any inconsistency.
It looks to me like the two sentences in IMPLICIT describe a process and my single sentence states a "rule." The single sentence can be useful to, for example, drop into wp:SILENCE with a link back to wp:IMPLICIT for more information. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 17:43, 30 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Nikkimaria: I'm hoping we can continue this conversation. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 09:51, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't agree that we want to have a "process" and a "rule" that differ in wording in such a way that they can be interpreted differently - even if you personally would interpret them the same. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:46, 17 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Would you please give me an example of how the two texts may be interpreted differently? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 07:26, 17 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have, and you've disagreed. Which is your right, but I'm not sure how repeating that would be helpful. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:28, 18 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Nikkimaria: Apologies for not making my question clearer. Please give me an example of a change for which the outcome would be different under the two different interpretations that you see. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 18:38, 29 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm afraid that doesn't make the question clearer. Outcome of what? Presumed consensus only carries weight if nothing happens. Nikkimaria (talk) 01:37, 30 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@user:Nikkimaria: Okay, your example is an edit that builds on - is congruent with - a prior edit. And you seem to say that my phrasing means the original edit loses "presumed consensus" at that point. Let's say you are correct. So what? The original edit is now history, it has been replaced by the edited text.
The new text - including the original edit (as changed) - now has presumed consensus. I don't see any practical difference in the outcome under my phrasing: under both formulations the old text as edited now has presumed consensus. Are you seeing something different? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 06:06, 10 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The original edit hasn't been replaced, it's still there. No one has removed or fundamentally altered it. So we presume it has consensus until someone does.
Maybe this will help. Suppose I run a bot to automatically link all instances of a particular term, and that bot adds a link to your edit. Obviously a bot can't assess the merit of your edit, so we can't say the bot agrees. A person who comes along could disagree with your edit or the bot's edit separately.
(And I realize you wanted to address the specific wording first, but I think this conversation is meaningless because we haven't agreed to place something in the lead at all, regardless of its specific wording.) Nikkimaria (talk) 02:57, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you, that does help.
In your example the original text ("some words here") has been replaced by the new text ("some words here"). The new text (which includes the old text) has presumed consensus until a later edit changes it. Again I ask, once the new edit takes place (and has presumed consensus) what practical difference does it make whether the retained original text had presumed consensus before the new edit?
(This particular conversation is an attempt to achieve consensus regarding whether it is important for this policy to say that retained retained original text retains the presumed consensus it had before a new edit.) - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 19:30, 11 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As above, the "new text" is a link only. One could agree or disagree with the addition of the link, separately from whether one agrees or disagrees with the addition of the original text; the addition of the link shouldn't impact how the previous text is assessed. But really this particular conversation is a discussion of how to word something that we haven't agreed should be included in the first place. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:48, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We agree that "the addition of the link shouldn't impact how the previous text is assessed." But that still doesn't answer my question. Do you believe my proposed text would impact how the unchanged/unlinked part of the previous text is assessed? If so, please explain how. If not, what practical difference would my text make? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 15:50, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you agree, then why continue? Under your proposal, any change, including the addition of a link in the scenario described, would impact how the previous text is assessed, as it is now the link only that is under the presumed-consensus proviso. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:58, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Butwhatdoiknow, I think the problem with your version is the word "until". It implies that if Alice adds a sentence, and Bob changes the sentence, then Alice's contribution no longer has any (presumed) consensus. That's not really true when editors are working in harmony. If Alice writes "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are made with chocolate and peanut butter", and Bob adds the word filling to the end of her sentence, then it would be more accurate to say that both of their contributions (not to mention all of the contributions by all the editors who wrote the rest of the page) have presumed consensus. (talk) 00:14, 13 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing, thank you for joining the conversation. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 17:30, 13 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The practical effect of presumed consensus[edit]

@Nikkimaria: and @WhatamIdoing: If you'll permit, let's take a look back at what it means to have presumed consensus under the current CON text:

An edit has presumed consensus until it is disputed or reverted. Should another editor revise that edit then the new edit will have presumed consensus until it meets with disagreement.

My understanding, using the example Nikkimaria and I are working with above, "some words here" has presumed consensus until it is changed to "some words here." At that point, the presumed consensus for not linking "words" evaporates but (a) each word in the text has presumed consensus dating back to the edit that created it and (b) the link has presumed consensus dating from when it was added. In both cases, the presumed consensus for a word or the link evaporates if it is disputed, reverted, or changed in the future.
Do I have that right? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 17:32, 13 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:30, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For clarity, the presumption of consensus for a word or the link evaporates if/when it is disputed, reverted, or changed in the future, but it might still have real consensus. Also, we put common-sense limits around this, so that blatant vandalism doesn't count as a (relevant) "change". WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:34, 14 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Right, "real" consensus trumps presumed consensus every time and, one would expect, the new edit would be quickly returned to the original text (which would then have presumed and real consensus). It doesn't matter whether the new edit was in good faith or vandalism, it's presumed consensus disappears when it is reverted. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 17:03, 15 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Okay, let's look at my proposed text:

All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted.

Applying this text to the example Nikkimaria and I are working with above, "some words here" has presumed consensus until it is changed to "some words here." At that point, the presumed consensus for not linking "words" evaporates and (a) each word in the text has presumed consensus and (b) the link has presumed consensus. In both cases, the presumed consensus for a word or the link evaporates if it is disputed, reverted, or changed in the future.
Would you agree that is how the proposed text would work out? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:28, 16 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Nikkimaria: and @WhatamIdoing: I would appreciate your answers to this question. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 18:30, 20 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The edit (of adding text) has been changed. There's no basis in your proposal to split out the choice of not-linking and the choice of what words were added to say that the former lacks presumed consensus but the latter still has it. The edit has been changed, period; under your proposal the substance of that change is immaterial. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:29, 21 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, let's say that my proposal means the unchanged text loses presumed consensus because a link was added. So what? What difference does that make? In other words, does "presumed consensus" give text any greater protection than any other text that has not been through the discussion process? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 03:33, 21 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Nikkimaria: I look forward to your reply, - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:20, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At this point I'm going to defer to the question raised below rather than continuing this thread. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:17, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think it's true that "All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until...". Some are known in advance to not have consensus (consider an edit summary that says "Just a demonstration for the talk page – will revert"). Others are known in advance to have "real" consensus (e.g., edits made pursuant to agreement on the talk page). WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:58, 21 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well then, the current text ("An edit has presumed consensus until it is disputed or reverted.") is wrong. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 03:50, 22 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you agree or disagree regarding how the proposed text would work out? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 03:54, 22 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@WhatamIdoing: I look forward to your reply, - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:21, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think your example about linking "some words here" is fair, but the choice to add the link might reasonably be construed as an expression of support for including the words (and therefore a form of demonstrated consensus). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:00, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Preservation of presumed consensus distinction[edit]

IMO there's another problem with your proposed change. "Presumed consensus" can be interpreted as a different weaker type of consensus (which I think is a good idea) rather than a mechanism for it to achieve regular consensus. Your proposed change eliminates that. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 18:48, 20 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wholeheartedly agree that presumed consensus is weak and should be distinguished from "real" consensus. But I'm having trouble seeing how All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted - which says that presumed consensus for text evaporates when the text changes - eliminates that distinction. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 19:38, 20 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@North8000: Please help me see the problem. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:16, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Presumed consensus is different than consensus and much content has only presumed consensus. So your edit was a substantial change and one that conflicts with that. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 00:20, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What if the sentence read "All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted"? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:00, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Placement of text[edit]

Nikkimaria, above you express concern regarding where the text we're discussing ("All Wikipedia edits have presumed consensus until they are questioned, changed, or reverted") would be placed in the event we can agree that the text is accurate. The answer includes (1) the into is one option (we can talk about whether that is a good idea after we have text that is not objectionable on its own), (2) other pages (as a summary of IMPLICIT), and (3) perhaps as a replacement for the two sentences in IMPLICIT (which, I believe, are redundant). - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 15:50, 12 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is the point of presumed consensus?[edit]

If we are saying that a “presumed consensus” only lasts until there is a subsequent edit (and then evaporates) what is the point of mentioning the concept in the first place? WHY do we even need to address it? Blueboar (talk) 01:13, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • A choice of wording by someone with limited experience in the process clearly. Moxy- 01:32, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • It’s pointless. It’s meaningless waffle likely to confuse people. SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:52, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If it is pointless, shouldn’t we simply cut it? Do away with the concept of “presumed consensus” entirely? Blueboar (talk) 13:02, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I guess someone thought it was nice to be able to say that everything was in articles by consensus and then invented this fictional concept to make it true. I have never seen a useful purpose for it and thoroughly support it disappearing. Zerotalk 13:36, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    That's a good way of putting it. DFlhb (talk) 02:59, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Presumed consensus" is a synonym for "implied consensus." Here's what WP:EDITCON says about that:

Wikipedia consensus usually occurs implicitly. An edit has presumed consensus until it is disputed or reverted. Should another editor revise that edit then the new edit will have presumed consensus until it meets with disagreement. In this way, the encyclopedia gradually improves over time.

Are you proposing to delete this text? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:14, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • I am certainly considering proposing we do so. I think we should at least examine the possibility. What are the up sides? What are the down sides? Etc. Blueboar (talk) 18:54, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think it is a useful concept. This has to be looked at from two different directions:
  • "How dare he edit my article without getting written permission in advance to prove that there is consensus!" – Um, all edits have presumed consensus. It's okay for editors to make bold (=significant but undiscussed) edits. We know that people check RecentChanges and their watchlists to revert anything they disagree with, but there's no way for them to mark their agreement with an edit. So unless and until someone visibly disputes it, we assume that non-removal is some sort of acquiescence to the edit.
  • "My edit must stay on the page forever, until you can get near-unanimous consent to remove it, because it has consensus!" – Um, your edit only had presumed consensus, and that presumption of consensus disappeared when the other editor challenged it. Now your edit doesn't appear to have consensus at all. Please try to work out an agreement that satisfies (almost) everyone.
I think it is a mistake to say (without qualification) that presumed consensus only lasts until there is a subsequent edit. It is probably more accurate to say that presumed consensus only lasts until that material is disputed. (A "subsequent" edit could be to a different part of the page, an AWB typo-fixing run, a bot edit, or some other edit that doesn't really confer any sort of expression of support or opposition.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:57, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Something important I would add (which I detailed below) is that the nature of implicit consensus means that it is generally not acceptable to object to an edit solely on the basis that you don't feel it has consensus, at least not unless there's an existing dispute to point to or the edit is so manifestly controversial or drastic that the objection is obvious. A lack of consensus is supposed to be based in some specific objection. "I think it makes the article worse" is fine (if a bit weak and vague); but it's not acceptable to revert someone purely with a demand that they get consensus, unless some other objection is backing that up. This doesn't mean that an editor should immediately restore the disputed text, of course; WP:AGF means you should assume they have a valid objection and try to tease it out of them. But if someone just repeatedly brushes them off with "no, you need to get consensus, WP:ONUS is on you, I'm not going to say anymore" without ever articulating why they object to an edit beyond that, then that's inappropriate of them. This gets to part of my underlying objection to the "WP:ONUS maximalist" proposals in that I believe discussions work best when everyone is encouraged to come to the table, put all their cards on it at the start, and try to find a way to address the underlying content dispute; I'm concerned that some of the more radical interpretations of WP:ONUS amount to saying that people who want to remove material or to keep it out of an article have less of an obligation to engage at all and can simply point to ONUS without articulating a position that can be meaningfully engaged short of an WP:RFC. In the rare cases where I've encountered people who have actually tried to apply this belief during discussions, it has been completely unsatisfactory and lead to useless, circular discussions focused on the minutiae of policy rather than actually productive discussions of article content or meaningful efforts to resolve disputes. --Aquillion (talk) 21:03, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I particularly dislike it when someone reverts an edit with the explanation that they support it, but they believe somebody else (usually an unnamed/hypothetical person) will object. Reverting needs to be done by the person who objects, so that the bold editor knows who to talk to. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:48, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • No, it's important that edits be presumed to have consensus until someone voices a specific objection, otherwise we run into the "rv, get consensus" issue where people who dislike an edit but who don't want to articulate why they dislike it can WP:STONEWALL it by demanding consensus without giving an objection that can be answered. This is a serious problem in controversial topic areas (where people will sometimes dislike an edit because they don't like what it says, even though they can't come up with a reason to oppose it; and where there are sometimes WP:OWN issues where people will try and demand consensus for edits by default), and would generally discourage useful discussion by allowing people to remove content from articles without providing any hint of how their objections to it could be addressed. An objection doesn't have to be detailed (at least not at first); even something as simple as "rv., undue" or "rv, tone issues" is fine, since that at least points to a place for discussions to start. But you're supposed to voice an objection, and the point of implicit consensus is "you need to get consensus before editing this article" is not a valid one. --Aquillion (talk) 21:03, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • What it does in the Wikipedia system is give some weight to the status quo in discussions which consider many factors. And, in turn, the amount of weight is determined by other factors such as longevity and amount of review it is likely to have had. This is how most of our policies and guidelines work, even though they are not worded that way. North8000 (talk) 20:19, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If we removed “presumed consensus” do you think that the “some weight to status quo” would disappear? Blueboar (talk) 21:03, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Taking your question literally, I think that the extreme "disappear" would not happen. I haven't done the analysis to opine on whether it would be significantly guess is that full removal of the term would weaken the concept. North8000 (talk) 22:05, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Weight to the status quo is provided by WP:PRESERVE. The fact that PRESERVE does not even mention presumed consensus is evidence that the concept of presumed consensus is not necessary. Zerotalk 01:08, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @North8000, I think you might be right (What it does in the Wikipedia system is give some weight to the status quo), and that feels very weird to me right now. So there's presumed consensus for Edit #1, that presumed consensus disappears when someone disputes it, and yet... and yet... and yet many editors treat that no-longer-presumed no-longer-consensus as still being evidence of real-and-right-now-consensus. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:53, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @WhatamIdoing: This and a lot of policy quandaries all make sense in the grand unification theory. Wikipedia:How editing decisions are made  :-) Seldom explicitly acknowledged, IMO it's how a big part of Wikipedia works. North8000 (talk) 15:26, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does it help if we relabel "implicit," "presumed" consensus as "silent" consensus, making it clear that it only lasts until it is disputed or reverted (or perhaps "changed," but that is a conversation for another day)? - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:16, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is inelegant draft wording, but how about something to the effect of: Material that has been in article for some time is presumed to have an implicit consensus, the strength of which is based on the length of time it has been in and the amount of review it has presumably received. While this implicit consensus does not carry the same weight as an actively-arrived at consensus, it should be taken into consideration and given some weight in discussions about the material. North8000 (talk) 17:00, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think only the the amount of review it has presumably received is important. In other words, how much consensus did it have when it was added. Because often, additions (especially silent additions) may go unnoticed for some considerable time. Selfstudier (talk) 18:54, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@North8000: What purpose would your concept serve that is not already served by WP:PRESERVE? Zerotalk 00:51, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wasn't trying to put forth a new concept, rather I was trying to acknowledge how Wikipedia operates. Infusing reality into our wordings of course has benefits. But the purpose in the specific debate here is just to try to bring a resolution to it. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 01:44, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok, but Blueboar started this section with the proposal that presumed consensus be ditched. It seems to me that so far the only argument put forward for keeping it is the weight it gives to existing content. But that's not a good argument as PRESERVE already does that more thoroughly without the need for imaginary constructs such as "consensus" for text never discussed. Furthermore, the confusion over what presumed consensus actually means is further support for removal. Can you (do you want to?) offer a better rationale for keeping it? Zerotalk 02:56, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Another rationale: Saying a bold edit has consensus has the effect of discouraging reverts with no explanation beyond "no consensus."
A better solution to this problem might be to remove the presumed consensus text and replace it with the text from wp:PGBOLD: "you should not remove any change solely on the grounds that there was no formal discussion indicating consensus for the change before it was made." - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:02, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sounds good, but I think a reference to WP:PRESERVE would be better, since it's more comprehensive and gives specific, practical advice on what to do before reverting (rather than giving a commandment). DFlhb (talk) 16:32, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't see that the PGBOLD text (dealing with "no consensus" reverts) and saying something in addition about PRESERVE (one of four alternatives to a revert) are mutually exclusive choices. - Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:01, 5 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Belatedly, I think there are really two kinds of implicit consensus; both are important but it's also important not to confuse the two. The "implicit consensus" this is discussion focuses on (more commonly called "presumed consensus") is the first type.
  • First, any edit that hasn't been challenged (no matter how new) has presumed consensus behind it until someone challenges it. This usually doesn't mean much because if there's a dispute then it has been challenged and this goes away; the main point is that editors shouldn't just revert something based purely on "get consensus" unless the edit is clearly controversial and the objection is obvious enough to not have to be stated. The idea here is that you need to voice at least some objection that can reasonably be engaged with for discussions to occur - editors aren't required to get explicit consensus before making uncontroversial edits, which means it's not generally appropriate to use "you didn't get consensus for this" as the sole reason for reverting them. Again, the rationale doesn't need to be detailed - at least at first - sometimes even just one or two words is sufficient, like "tone issues" or "BLP concerns" or "undue." But you have to articulate something. Another caveat is that this doesn't mean you should just restore something if someone does do this; what I think that it means is that if an editor constantly removes things that were not previously controversial with no rationale beyond demanding consensus, it's often an indicator of WP:OWN or WP:STONEWALL problems or other potential conduct issues.
  • The other kind of implicit consensus is stronger (comparatively, although still weaker than explicit consensus) and comes from the idea that a particular part of an article has been viewed and reviewed by a large number of editors; if none of them have objected to it, then it eventually accumulates some degree of weak consensus, such that (in particular) disputes over it will usually end up defaulting to the stable version, with a few exceptions for situations like WP:BLP issues where there's an overriding concern otherwise. While quick handwaves like how old an edit is are often used for this, the real point is how many editors have implicitly signed off on the text, so eg. an obscure article or something easily-missed doesn't benefit from it even if a long time has passed. Also, this sort of implicit consensus depends on the text remaining in the article with many people seeing it and nobody objecting - if it was revert-warred in, or if there was an objection that wasn't resolved, the text remains disputed and doesn't have implicit consensus even if it ended up sitting there for a long time while people argued. Otherwise we end up with situations that reward dragging out discussions or encourage revert-warring to "keep" something from being considered stable.
These are both necessary because we are not supposed to have explicit discussions confirming the consensus for every line of text; to a certain extent those discussions are a failure state - they consume considerable amounts of time and energy for editors. Additionally, having the entire article nailed down by detailed explicit consensuses can discourage new editors. On highly-controversial high-profile articles it may be necessary, but we don't want policy to encourage people to reach for dispute resolution as a first resort; it should be possible for uncontroversial parts of articles to develop and remain stable over time through casual editing without the whole thing being forever a house of cards that collapses the moment someone objects. --Aquillion (talk) 00:06, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Also, while I don't mean to call out a specific editor, the fact that this occurred right after I made the comment above and is such a clear-cut example of why we need the concepts of presumed consensus is here - an editor objected to basically every single edit recently made to an article (all of them plainly minor), based solely on demanding that they get consensus and without articulating any other objection. That's not something that ought to be encouraged for reasons that the way that discussion collapsed ought to make clear. --Aquillion (talk) 16:46, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The way I see it: Decisions involve evaluating and weighing multiple factors. Attempts to define that as a flowchart with binary decisions don't work. A longstanding edit has built up a stronger implied consensus. From (only) your description, that situation / challenge is a double weakened one.....first by being one of a bunch, and second with little or no rationale/concern description to go with the individual item. And so editors at the talk page would decide that such is not enough to force the status quo to require a consensus. North8000 (talk) 19:37, 15 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Aquillion, the account in your example now has a Checkuser block. As it is proven not to be a good-faith, above-board edit(or), perhaps we should make that our standard example of this problem, to avoid potentially impugning people who were actually trying to follow Wikipedia's standards. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:55, 5 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Followers of this page may be interested in WT:BLP#RfC on whether BDP should apply automatically or only after editorial consensus

 – This is merely a notice. All discussion should take place at the linked discussion on WT:BLP


Sincerely, Novo Tape (She/Her)My Talk Page 18:40, 9 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Interpretation of "widespread consensus"[edit]

I need some help with closing a discussion that IMHO hinges on the interpretation of the words "widespread consensus" in WP:PGCHANGE. This is a WP:PAG issue but could also matter for this page as well. Please reply at this Discussions for discussion thread. Thank you. Szmenderowiecki (talk) 16:57, 19 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Local con on user talk[edit]

@Jasper Deng: I would have thought it largely indisputable that a consensus on a user talk page is a local consensus? Indeed, prior to recent events I would have thought it so indisputable that it would be unnecessary to say. BilledMammal (talk) 09:50, 7 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does anybody have an actual objection to the change? Bon courage (talk) 09:59, 7 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hello. I'm contesting this change not in disagreement with the point, but because I think it is unneeded. Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time already implies that, for example, a user talk page falls under this provision; I do not think we have to list every such venue that is inappropriate. The WikiProject example was likely specifically included due to problematic WikiProjects at the time. I do not think adding in a discussion at adds a missing value to the example, and it could change the meaning (broad-stroke "WikiProject", versus narrow-stroke "discussion at WikiProject"). Curbon7 (talk) 10:15, 7 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with the removal. The specific situation that inspired this change is the longstanding usual process for unblock requests: a discussion among administrators on the user's talk page, immediately below the appeal. The discussion now playing out is what's expected: a user appealed their block; various users discussed the block (on their talk page as advised by WP:UNBLOCK) and an administrator found consensus to unblock; a number of users then objected to the unblock and now both the administrator's action and the user's fate are being discussed in a wider forum, all of which naturally flows from WP:ADMINACCT and this policy. Nothing needs to be clarified, and policies should not be changed without good reason. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 12:51, 7 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have seen editors trying to impose a consensus at a talk page against policy, but I'd agree that "Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time" covers when this happens. An admin blocking a user as a normal admin action is not subject to a higher consensus, so unblocking after consensus at the users talk page would seem appropriate. If the user had been blocked by community consensus the situation would be different. -- LCU ActivelyDisinterested «@» °∆t° 14:43, 7 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that discussions on a user talk page cannot lead to a broad consensus and don't mind noting that if people are somehow in doubt. However, the actual edit doesn't make sense: participants in a discussion at a WikiProject or user talk page cannot decide that some generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope. What does articles within its scope mean in reference to a user talk page? – Joe (talk) 08:14, 10 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this shows the need for LOCALCON to get some more attention. Last week, we saw an RFC close with a couple of editors claiming that a site-wide RFC was just another local consensus. There's the old joke that any discussion that "I" don't participate in personally, and that comes to The Wrong™ conclusion is obviously invalid, but there really must be limits. An RFC is a community-wide discussion, no matter what the result is. CENT-listed discussions are site-wide. Any well-advertised and well-attended discussion should be assumed to be effectively site-wide, even if they don't use the exact method of RFC or CENT for the advertising, but if you have a CENT-listed RFC on someone's talk page, then that's not a "local" discussion any longer. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:53, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@Peter Gulutzan, I see your edit summary saying "An RfC can be a consensus among a limited group of editors". Wikipedia:Requests for comment, on the other hand, says "A request for comment (RfC) is a way to ask the Wikipedia community for input on an issue." What makes you think that "a way to ask the Wikipedia community for input" would result in "a consensus among a limited group of editors", instead of "a consensus formed by the Wikipedia community"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:25, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, what does 'limited group' mean? Everything ever decided on Wikipedia ever was by a 'limited group' technically. Is the intent to imply 'unrepresentative group' or 'illegitimate group'? Bon courage (talk) 16:31, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just because you ask the community, doesn't mean any significant proportion of the community responds. If an RfC has three !votes, that is a limited group of editors. Most people would reserve the term "community consensus" for a more representative sample (although per BC there isn't really a numeric cutoff). Nikkimaria (talk) 16:35, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WhatamIdoing, I showed you in thread CONLEVEL as any level that agrees with me, that RfCs can be closed with a tiny number of editors. Your policy change was "Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. For instance, unless they can convince the broader community that such action is right (e.g., as evidenced by a request for comment) ..." where that "e.g." is your addition. I interpret that as a suggestion that any RfC's existence indicates a broader-community exception, and since I believe that a tiny number is a limited number I reverted your policy change with -- quoting my edit summary more fully -- "An RfC can be a consensus among a limited group of editors, so it shouldn't be mentioned here as an exception about a consensus among a limited group of editors." Peter Gulutzan (talk) 17:23, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think one of things being missed here is that sometimes not many editors care about something, and for the purposes of establishing consensus those who don't, are immaterial. For niche topics consensus is often quite properly decided by a tiny number of editors. Bon courage (talk) 17:26, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Even if qui tacet consentire videtur were applicable somewhere sometime, it wouldn't be here. The objection isn't solely about whether such RfCs should result in "no consensus due to lack of participation" (though I'd probably like that). It's about a policy change saying that such groups are the "broader community", "community consensus", etc. It's about whether it makes sense to say a limited group doesn't matter but matters if a limited group says so. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 22:02, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Peter Gulutzan, I wonder if you could give an example/description of a group of editors who are able to make a decision about an article's contents, that you might disagree with the decision, but that you would not describe as a local consensus. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:25, 18 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No because the term "local consensus" isn't part of the disputed wording. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 17:46, 19 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The problem I want to address is people claiming that any and every discussion that ends with the Wrong™ Result is "just a local consensus".
The understanding I had of the term when I wrote that originally had characteristics like these:
  • an unadvertised discussion (e.g., a normal discussion on a talk page),
  • participated in only by self-selected people (e.g., members of a WikiProject),
  • on a lower-profile page (e.g., on a WikiProject page, not on a Village pump or a central noticeboard),
  • resulting in a decision to reject the normal guidelines (e.g., the community's guidelines say that infoboxes should be decided case-by-case, but we reject that and decide to ban all infoboxes in one fell swoop), and
  • affecting a large number of pages (e.g., all the articles within the scope of a WikiProject).
That's what I meant when I wrote this originally. An RFC, as it is the canonical opposite of "an unadvertised discussion", would obviously not be a "local consensus". An RFC that attracted participants from outside the original group would also not be a "local consensus".
From your comments here, I don't think that we have the same understanding of what the term means, and I don't think we have the same understanding of how that relates to forming a consensus. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:39, 19 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, my understanding is that this thread is about my objection to your addition of a phrase in the policy text, because you started the thread by addressing me and quoting a snippet of my edit summary explaining the reversion. But you want to talk about the definition of the term "local consensus", which is not in that phrase or in my edit summary or indeed anywhere in the policy text. So yes we have a misunderstanding. Perhaps you can clear it up by changing the heading to e.g. "Definition of local consensus which has nothing to do with the recent edits", or starting a new thread? Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:47, 20 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The phrasing in question here was attempting to provide an example of how a limited group of editors can "convince the broader community that such action is right". Peter, you are essentially saying that an RfC is not a good example, because occasionally an RfC does not have wide participation. Wouldn't the easy fix be to adjust the statement to read, "(e.g. as evidenced by a request for comment with wide participation)", or something craftier along those lines? If you don't want to see an example in running text, we could easily place it into an {{efn}} with the added benefit of being able to elaborate further. --GoneIn60 (talk) 17:12, 20 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Peter Gulutzan, I don't think I'm understanding your view. What process do you believe editors can engage in, to find out what the "broader community" or "community consensus" is? If it's not an unadvertised discussion among partisans on a talk page (what LOCALCON has rejected from its first moment) and it's not an RFC (what you objected to here), what's left? Votes during keynote sessions at Wikimania? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:37, 20 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WhatamIdoing, once again I can't make you understand, okay. But that doesn't mean the onus is on me to propose an alternative phrase when I believe no phrase is appropriate there. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 17:05, 21 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
GoneIn60: Thank you for understanding, although I didn't emphatically say "occasionally". Yes, adding "with wide participation" would handle the objection that the phrase conflicts with the sentence start. But why there? If the idea is to praise RfCs, that could be a sentence at the end of the Levels of consensus section e.g. "RfCs with wide participation might be considered to have a higher level of consensus." Instead putting them in the sentence about WikiProjects implies that making such an RfC will make it okay for a WikiProject to override a policy, which I think is rare (anybody know any example?) and which I think is inferior to the alternative (why not change the policy?). Anyway, if you still think the phrase can be saved, then I know a way to proceed with the dispute: an RfC. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 17:05, 21 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
RFCs often happen on WikiProject pages. If groups of editors ("WikiProjects") start a community-wide discussion ("an RFC"), then why wouldn't that be treated the same as anyone else creating a community-wide discussion?
The problem that is described in LOCALCON is that a group of editors can have such a discussion without the broader community being notified. Then you add an infobox to an article, and someone from WP:COMPOSERS reverts you and says basically that their group had a quiet little conversation several years ago and decided to ban infoboxes in "their" articles without telling the rest of the community. It is the exclusion of the rest of the community that is the problem. RFCs, because they are deliberately advertised to the whole community, do not exclude the rest of the community. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:38, 21 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It’s rare, but I think an RFC can be an example of a local consensus - although the closer would have to have very good reason for rejecting it on that ground.
For example, see talk:First_statute_of_the_IMRO#RfC:_Note_about_Internal_Macedonian_Revolutionary's_Organization's_first_name - this is one I closed as no consensus on the grounds of local consensus, for reasons that I felt were very good. BilledMammal (talk) 21:50, 17 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That discussion does not appear to have attracted any comments from editors outside the original dispute. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:29, 18 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]