Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment

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I've been seeing a lot more RFCs with separate sections for ===Support===, ===Oppose===, and ===Discussion===. I'm guessing that this is partly due to this page providing an example of a separate discussion area, without making people go off to the longer examples page (where voting-style RFCs are offered as one choice among several but explicitly discouraged except when the vote-counting is actually relevant).

I'd like to see fewer of these inappropriate uses. How do you think we could address this? WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:08, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

I don't think I agree that this phenomenon is partly due to that, because the format you describe is exactly the format at the very end of the longer examples page. So either people are using it after reading everything we have to say, or are just copying some other RfC without coming here at all. Without a better theory on how people are making the wrong choice of format, I wouldn't know how to fix the problem. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 21:19, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand the issue caused by using the two formats. Is it a technical issue for tallying votes accurately, or one of MOS/best practice adherence? Jasphetamine (talk) 10:59, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean by "the two formats". The issue WhatamIdoing raises is that of using one particular format: the one with support and oppose sections. Some people believe that is usually a poor choice because it stresses taking sides and majority rule, whereas it's better if people discuss openly and thoroughly, consider compromise, remain open to changing their opinion, and such. The issue is purely about generating the best discussion.Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Example formatting does recommend avoiding this format. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 18:07, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
It's a "best practice" thing. Theoretically, WP:Consensus believes that WP:Voting is evil. (I believe that there's a time and place for voting.)
Bryan's guess that it might be caused by seeing someone else use the voting format is at least as good as my guess that some editors might be starting with the second option on this page and expanding it even further. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:24, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification, I definitely see how an RfC set up for a binary support-oppose type discussion isn't going to encourage collaboration towards consensus.
As to the cause, it might be spillover from people accustomed to the walls of votes on pages like RfA's. That's a high-profile place and copying the format for another RfX isn't a huge leap in logic.
How strong is the argument against simply striking the support-oppose-vote format as permissable entirely from RfC guides? Jasphetamine (talk) 12:13, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
If you're dealing with a really huge discussion, on a yes/no question where (super-)majority rules, then the support-oppose-vote format is probably helpful overall. Some of the votes at WP:200 (for example) were probably more efficient because editors just registered their votes without engaging in long conversations (you can't have an effective 200-to-200-person conversation), and the closer could just count the numbers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 08:24, 27 December 2017 (UTC)
One current RfC explicitly states that it "is not a !voting for support/oppose". It's received nine response posts from seven different users (one being the OP), none of whom have used a support/oppose/etc. !vote. It can work. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:43, 28 January 2018 (UTC)

Signature vs date stamp

WP:RFC#Statement should be neutral and brief currently speaks of a "date stamp" at the end of the RfC statement, as opposed to a full signature. Presumably this is for the technical reason that the date stamp is what Legobot looks for when copying the statement to the listing(s). I and others have interpreted it to mean that the RfC statement can optionally be terminated with an anonymous date stamp (~~~~~) with the rationale that the identity of the RfC starter is irrelevant to the RfC question. If TonyBallioni is correct here, that interpretation is incorrect, and I think the above section should be changed to read "signature" instead of "date stamp". On balance, accurate description of how Legobot works is less important than being clear about how to do this correctly. ―Mandruss  19:06, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

Most RfC's typically are proposed by someone and are signed with them. It helps us see who is suggesting it, ask them questions, and if the need arises, ask them to withdraw it before it is snow closed. A date is only needed for LegoBot, but for communication with other users, the signature is helpful. TonyBallioni (talk) 19:09, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
@TonyBallioni: Do you have an opinion on changing the guidance as proposed? ―Mandruss  19:11, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I think changing it to signature would be useful (or even signature and date stamp). TonyBallioni (talk) 19:15, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
I had a run-in with somebody a year or so back when I added their signature to an ongoing RfC that wasn't even datestamped. Their argument was that if their signature was visible on the RfC listing pages, it might pre-prejudice certain people who had taken sides with or against them in the past. They removed the signature and left the timestamp and I didn't argue further.
To the technical requirements. Legobot looks for the first timestamp after the {{rfc}} template, and doesn't care whether there is a full signature or not. The timestamp must be properly formatted, such as would be given by four or five tildes. Misformatting that is known to definitely cause problems includes: use of date only, omitting the time; using non-breaking spaces or double spaces; omission of the time zone; using a time zone that is not UTC or which has an offset - such as writing 16:38, 17 January 2018 (UTC-5) instead of 21:38, 17 January 2018 (UTC). Sometimes, if {{subst:unsigned}} or a similar template is used, this can confuse Legobot unless the timestamp is entirely outside the <small>...</small> tags emitted by these templates. If {{unsigned}} is used with an enclosed timestamp and without substitution, this will break the RfC listing entry.
Legobot uses the timestamp for at least three purposes: (i) identifying where the RfC opening statement ends and thus how much text to copy; (ii) arranging the RfC listings in reverse chronological order; (iii) determining whether the RfC is more than thirty days old, thus whether to remove the {{rfc}} template and delist the RfC. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:38, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
I remember this being discussed here in the past year or so. Some people believe there is value in an unsigned RfC comment, and other parts of this page welcome people to use just a date stamp. In addition to the prejudice Redrose64 mentions, attaching a name to a statement is somewhat antithetical to it being a neutral statement. I think it's also true that a signed RfC statement presents an atmosphere of a personal battle -- someone begging for validation of an opinion that has met objection, whereas an unsigned one just looks like someone detected a diversity of opinion and thinks a consensus should be developed.
As for the section WP:RFC#Statement should be neutral and brief, it's pretty clear to me it's about practicality. It's the date stamp and not the signature that controls the listing of the RfC, so saying you have to have a signature would be confusing here. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 21:55, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
There's what Legobot requires, and then there's what Wikipedia requires. If Wikipedia requires more than Legobot does, the status quo is what's confusing and the guidance needs to be clarified. I hear that you and TonyBallioni differ on that question, and it's beginning to look like we may need an RfC to answer it. Leaving it unresolved seems like the worst of the available options. ―Mandruss  22:19, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
I think the common practice is that people sign and the aberration from the norm is just a date stamp. At least this is the norm for all the project space RfCs I've been involved with until today. Kudpung has run several major RfCs in the past, and might be able to give his views as to what our common practice is. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:25, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
I think it's pretty easy to determine how common it is not to sign an RfC statement. We have lists readily available of hundreds of RfCs. Just look at a bunch. My experience has been that the vast majority of requesters sign the request.
But it's not all that relevant. Just because most people choose to sign doesn't mean they want to force everyone else to do so as well. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 00:41, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Policies and guidelines are what we do, not what is written down. The fact that this is the overwhelming norm means that it has the potential to cause unintended disruption and confusion if people don't do it. It's just a basic courtesy to other editors to let them know who is the person advancing the proposal, and it aids in communication. TonyBallioni (talk) 01:18, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
  • I wish that all RfCs, and proposals, would be signed. And when the opening statement is long, such as composed of multiple sections, I think the author should be declared just under the section title. I have no idea why it would be a good idea to attempt to hide authorship of an opening statement. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:43, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
  • From what I've seen people prefer, the very first thing under an RFC header should be one sentence (two at most) summary of the RFC. Then there should be an introductory statement from the RFC proposer which can go into more detail, and then the space for all the !votes. As long as this format is done, and the introductory statement is signed, then the 1-2 sentence summary can just be date-stamped since it is obvious the signer of the intro statement is the proposer. Any other format should use a signature somewhere where it is obvious whom the proposer is. --Masem (t) 01:47, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
    There is not always a need for the "more detail" part, and the proposer does not always !vote first. It's often not even a proposal but a question, and the RfC starter has no position going in. Case in point. Sure, you could say that the starter should be identified in the 1-2 sentence summary or the "introductory statement", if any exists, but what advantage is there to complicating things like that? It's actually easier to give a full signature since that's what editors do dozens of times every day. Many editors aren't even aware of the five tildes. ―Mandruss  01:50, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
  • I believe I generally sign all my RfCs. I always thought it was required. However some RfC proposals are a joint statement. I am well aware that some of those voting 'oppose' on my RfCs do so because they just don't like me. I believe there is a clearly identifiable pattern of this. This is a double edged sword for my RfCs because there are a lot of people who do place a lot of trust in my work. At the end of the day, anyone wanting to know who the proposer is just needs to look in the history. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 04:59, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Mandruss is correct that you are not required to include your name. That's why the numbered list in the instructions says "Sign the statement with either ~~~~ (name and date) or ~~~~~ (just the date)" (emphasis in the original) rather than "Sign the statement so everyone knows who posted it". TonyBallioni is correct that almost everyone does include their names – now. Back in the day, including your name was actually prohibited (not just discouraged), and then it became optional, and now it is common. Kudpung is correct that it doesn't make sense to have one person sign a joint statement, and there are some other circumstances where I'd recommend against it. Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Example formatting has a pro-and-con table that is rarely used (but sometimes to quite good effect), and it wouldn't make sense for one person to sign the question when at least two are writing. But mostly, I think it's just not that important. The person who starts the RFC can make a free choice in the matter. As Kudpung also points out, it's in the page history anyway, and almost everyone who responds to an RFC already knows how to use a history page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:13, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
    • I think that all posts should be signed. Relying on a page history to allow clever people to discover the author is a form of newcomer barrier. Exceptions on talk pages, such as instructions, if not signed they can be assumed to be a community statement and subject to "improvement". Generally, we have a Wikipedia cultural way to distinguish this by use of a banner, coloured, transcluding text from a subpage that his its own edit history. If the RfC proposal and instructions were subjected to improvement during the course of addition of signed responses, all in the same page history, that would be too complicated. In cases where the driver of the proposer doesn't want to personally sign the preamble, possibly in a pretence that they are acting less biased that way, I think they should ask for a facilitors assistance (as discussed above at Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_comment#Seconders_for_RfCs). Some of the worst subtle biases come from people who think they are successfully acting bias-free. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:41, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Off topic, but at the end of the day, a lot of RfC peter out or get side tracked because the proposer doesn't have sufficient debating experience and doesn't know how to compose a convincing, but neutral statement, and more often or not, doesn't start the RfC in the most appropriate venue. The VP is never an ideal venue for a full RfC. It's fine for testing the water though. A full RfC should be on a dedicated sub page related to the topic. As Joe Roe once correctly pointed out, it is : ...effective to work out the details in focused discussions with a small group before opening it for wider community comment. That's one of the reasons why we have project spaces. A good RfC has a proposal statement and supporting details carefully worked out by people who have good communication skills and are practiced creative writers, and most importantly, have done their thorough research first rather than just throwing spontaneous ideas at the community. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 06:04, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
RFC statements are subject to "improvement", at least in small ways. There are some limits (e.g., no fair changing the question from 'Should we include this?' to 'Should we omit this?' after people have started replying, or otherwise highjacking someone else's question to ask something significantly different), but I've personally done it multiple times, as have others. While most of mine could be considered "technical" changes (e.g., splitting off a single sentence from a screen-long question for the RFC pages, or moving tables out of the initial question), it has generally been welcomed. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:02, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
What you are saying, WhatamIdoing, is correct, and thank you for you input. What it demonstrates is that Wikipedia is organic and its needs and consensus change with it as it grows - even if we end up with totally opposite practices to the ones we started off with. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 08:10, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

As there is wide disagreement among experienced editors and I don't see a consensus forming, is an RfC in order? If so, I would be happy to start it but I could use input on framing. It seems to me that there is some degree of overthink (unwarranted complication) here, and, like all overthink, that would reduce the likelihood of any consensus. I usually favor a less-than-ideal consensus over no consensus, per "perfect is the enemy of good". ―Mandruss  13:20, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

I wonder if signing the statement one way or the other in the RfC would be non-neutral..I don't think there is any great reason for one fixed way of doing it. Galobtter (pingó mió) 13:28, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
I think that we've got wide agreement on the initial question: Editors who start RFCs are not currently required to include their names. AFAICT that fully addresses the question that brought you here. Unless someone really wants to change the current advice to say something else, then I don't see any need for an RFC. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:07, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes, that answers the current question, and we have that the current practice is that virtually everyone does sign. I see no reason to have an RfC on something like this, but I also think that if someone deviates from the standard practice, it is reasonable to ask them to put their name to it. Best of both worlds without needing an RfC on RfCs. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:47, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
The preceding two comments seem contradictory to me. Editors who start RFCs are not currently required to include their names, but if someone deviates from the standard practice, it is reasonable to ask them to put their name to it. It's these unnecessary contradictions that result in unnecessary conflict. If I reasonably ask someone to put their name to it per TonyBallioni, they will often take offense and refuse per WhatamIdoing, thereby wasting my time and theirs. In certain other scenarios, the disagreement could set off an avoidable edit war.
This is human nature, folks, and we are not going to repeal human nature. You can ask people all day to play nice until you're blue in the face, but 17 years of experience tells us that many, many editors will ignore your pleas, and that will forever be the case. All this could be avoided by choosing one way or the other and recommending it in the guidance, and my choice would be the way that people are used to signing things.
But this is far from the first instance where my mind is a bit too linear for Wikipedia editing, so never mind. ―Mandruss  22:39, 20 January 2018 (UTC)
I think that the difference might lie in the definition of "ask". If your "ask" looks like actually asking, in a way that makes it clear that it's a request rather than an order, then it's okay. (Think, "Hey, did you know that most people add their names when they post an RFC? I know it's not required, but I think it's a good idea, and occasionally someone accidentally types an extra tilde, so I thought I'd mention it.") OTOH, if your "ask" looks more like telling, then it's not okay. (Think, "It is standard practice for editors to sign RFCs with their names, so you should do so", or, more extremely, edit-warring to add the name.)
There's also a third option, which is that the OP can be identified after the question. This could be a line that says something like "Support as proposer", or a casual comment from someone else (e.g., "Thanks for starting this RFC, Mandruss"). WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:32, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
The fatal flaw in that approach: It presumes and requires that most editors are natural diplomats. While people can change in that way, it takes decades of growth to do so. If we hope to minimize conflict (I shouldn't need to explain how conflict severely harms the project), we need solutions for the world that exists, not the world as we would like it to be. In my experience, around 80% of editors will respect guidelines and their implicit community consensuses, whether they agree with them or not. ―Mandruss  18:03, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
I think that most experienced editors would like to be perceived as natural diplomats, but the real-world solution is probably just to point the people who disagree (either way) to this page, which says that either is acceptable. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:33, 22 January 2018 (UTC)

Sample WikiText may be unclear?

The existing wikitext at WP:RFC#Example is confusing for novice RFC proposers. The existing bullets for under the in the Survey section includes bulleted items for both support and oppose. Both bulleted items both end with ~~~~. Some RFC writers copy this template, flush out the arguments for both sides, and then make their own !vote below. (example1, example 2)

I think the sample wikitext shoushould be updated, but I'm not sure how. Billhpike (talk) 17:28, 23 January 2018 (UTC) Updated diffs to correct revisions Billhpike (talk) 00:06, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

I think that people are being led into the impression that these "Survey" and "Threaded discussion" subsections are mandatory. The process is "Requests for comment" not "Requests for votes", and subsectioning is not required. Consider this recent comment by Deacon Vorbis (talk · contribs). --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 16:12, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
That's a rather separate issue from what Billhpike is bringing up, though. I didn't even understand the issue until I looked at the examples and saw that a couple of people understood this format way differently from what was intended. The RfC creator supplied the first two !votes, one on each side!
I can see that this is because it looks like we're giving an example of something the creator should write to start the RfC, when really it's an example of the goal after a couple of people have responded.
I can see one way to clarify this: supply the wikitext only of the part the RfC creator would supply (the survey and threaded discussion sections would be empty) then below that show the formatted result after a few comments have been made, to demonstrate the point of this format. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 23:52, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
I agree. The best solution is to only include the wikitext of the part the RfC creator would use to create the RFC. Billhpike (talk) 18:29, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
User:Redrose64's solution of removing the confusing example entirely would also solve that problem. We talked about that at Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_comment/Archive_15#How_many_examples_of_formatting_should_be_given_here? (and at least one other time more recently, currently at the top of this page in the #Voting section), but never did anything about it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 08:24, 28 January 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I overlooked that. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:45, 28 January 2018 (UTC)
I have made the change to remove the stuff the creator doesn't post. To separate the issues, I didn't remove the example altogether. We can talk about eliminating the example of this format altogether now, but I think we already did that recently and concluded that there is some value to this poll format. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 04:54, 4 February 2018 (UTC)


Could an uninvolved editor please close the discussion at Talk:Elizabeth II#RfC about the photos of Queen Elizabeth II as it's been 10 days since anybody commented. Cheers. nagualdesign 13:38, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

You can post that closure request at WP:Administrators' noticeboard/Requests for closure. This page is for discussing the page WP:Requests for comment. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 17:25, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
Okay, thank you. nagualdesign 01:41, 26 January 2018 (UTC)

Why am I being penalized for this?

Hello fellow Wikipedia members!

Yesterday I (politely) alerted an editor that there were a handful of mistakes in the article he had edited. I mentioned what was wrong and he promptly fixed the mistakes. Then I was issued this warning which is copied and pasted below. I do not know why I received this because I never made any edits to the page- I only notified the editor of some errors I saw. Thank you all for your help. -SANTOS

Take a look[edit source] I think you have Chad Smith the Musician and Will Ferrell the Actor confused. Smith is an official member of RHCP, not Ferrell. Santos the handyman (talk) 07:13, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

January 2018[edit source] Information icon Hello, I'm NinjaRobotPirate. I wanted to let you know that one or more of your recent contributions to Chad Smith have been undone because they did not appear constructive. If you would like to experiment, please use the sandbox. If you think a mistake was made, or if you have any questions, you can leave me a message on my talk page. Thanks. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 08:13, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

Stop icon You may be blocked from editing without further warning the next time you vandalize Wikipedia, as you did at Chad Smith. Sjö (talk) 17:49, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

Santos the handyman (talk) 20:08, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

@Santos the handyman:, that warning wasn't addressed to you. It was made on User talk:Thatninjasmurf, and was intended for them. This isn't really the page to discuss this, so if you're still confused, ask me on your talk page, where I will post in a moment. --Floquenbeam (talk) 20:13, 25 January 2018 (UTC)
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