Wiki Community/Acceptable Use Policy/Talk

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This page is for discussing the contents of Acceptable Use Policy.

This is a lengthy page and at times the conversation will drift off-topic. Please review ALL of the page before contributing. Reviewing the entirety of the violation of acceptable use policy and MrPhil threads on the Google group is strongly advised as well, as they provide valuable context needed to make an informed contribution.

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2007-12-09 12:17:27   I think there's some good stuff on this page, but a lot of it duplicates the Wiki Etiquette page. I suggest that we go through a process where we pare this down to the non-duplicative content, and then merge what's left with the Wiki Etiquette page. —RottenChester


2007-12-09 16:31:49   I don't want to be too pessimistic but I don't see how this policy alone, which admittedly contains some good principles, could help preventing disputable and disruptive user behaviors (if that's one of its intended purposes).

I just wouldn't want to witness flamewars, edit fights and endless debates on what constitutes acceptable use of the wiki. —AndreaCogliati


2007-12-09 17:56:57   What happens under this policy when somebody posts a comment that is in violation of the preceding policies? These rules don't allow anyone to remove blatant violations.

Furthermore, what is the difference between content and comments. On the Park Point at RIT page, for example, we had blatant vandalism. It is only appropriate that we collectively be empowered to clean up the wiki without arguing over every little thing! —DaveMahon


2007-12-09 17:59:49   This policy also doesn't clarify the procedure for determining whether speech is offensive or threatening, which is an issue that has come up in the past. One person thought the speech constituted harassment and another thought it was humorous. —DaveMahon


2007-12-09 18:00:55   Also, what happens if we don't have a valid e-mail address? —DaveMahon


2007-12-09 18:26:39   By making this a moderated board would address each one of these issues. —MrPhil


2007-12-09 20:33:10   The software does not and cannot support that functionality. New software is in the works, but it is subject to similar issues. Furthermore, if the wiki is moderated, wouldn't that defeat the whole atmosphere that makes RocWiki thrive? —DaveMahon


2007-12-09 20:42:44   Probably, but choices have to be made. This isn't utopia. At some point, someone, somewhere, somehow will have to exercise editorial control; otherwise all you have is a bulletin board. —MrPhil


2007-12-09 22:16:39   Absolutely. But as you saw, when somebody, somewhere does exercise editorial control, all hell can break loose. :) —DaveMahon


2007-12-09 22:53:06   That should come as a surprise? This wiki portrays itself as "open," and "where anyone with an ID can edit to their hearts content. (Source: [WWW]https://rocwiki.org/Wiki_Community?action=show&redirect=RocWiki)

That sentiment cannot co-exist peacefully with a group of self-annointed individuals who take it upon themselves to edit other people's posts.

It's one or the other, This Wiki is either a bulletin board, in which everyone's opinion has value; or it is a collectivist enterprise, where individual expression must be subsumed to the will of the group. If the latter, then you (referred to in the collective sense), need to develop policies for the group to follow. —MrPhil


2007-12-09 23:00:02   One of the problems is anonymous editing (despite what is said at the start of this document.) I don't consider having a valid e-mail address as particularly identifying. A significant number of heated discussions can be traced to those who hide behind anonymous nicknames. Most of us use our real names, is it appropriate to keep allowing fake names? Bravado through anonymity is a common thing on the internet and RocWiki is no exception.

I don't see this being easily solved without making it a stifling
environment. Any thoughts? —RichardSarkis


2007-12-09 23:06:59   Richard, I concur with your sentiments. I have seen some discussion boards (usually moderated), that will not accept posts, unless that person provides true identity.

But having a anonymous "handle" is like a costume, something you can hide behind. My handle, if clicked, links to my true identity. I view it as a nickname only.

I do not perceive how providing ones true identity, stifles an ability to express oneself, unless one treats the electronic world as one big costume ball. —MrPhil


2007-12-09 23:16:22   Having spent my entire past summer researching online communities, I think I'm in a good position to provide some solid information. One thing that was consistently found by many different researchers in many different communities is that using real names is always more likely to keep the tone of conversation civil than using pseudonyms. Now, obviously this doesn't apply to everyone, as some people will be brash regardless (as we have seen here), but the general trend is that using real names will prevent flaming from occurring in any online community. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-09 23:19:41   Further, it pains me to see discussion of making this a moderated board. That is not at all what a wiki is intended to be. A wiki is an open, collaborative process, where individuals set aside their egos to form a single meaningful definition of whatever it is they are defining (in this case, Rochester).

On this wiki, that has not been the case (recently). A big contributer to the problem is the fact that this is not a pure wiki; a pure wiki would never have a commenting system on the actual article pages. By having comments, you break away from the wiki format and make it a wiki/discussion board hybrid, because the article has now become both a section with collaborative work and a section with individual efforts, and that presents the entire problem we are having now.

The simplest solution is to get rid of all commenting across the wiki. However, I must hesitate about that approach because I know most of our community contributes via comments. Then again, perhaps those are not the type of contributions we want to have. If we get rid of comments, we get rid of a big reason why people come to this website (restaurant reviews). But I know many of us want this site to be more than just yellow pages and restaurant reviews. I think you have to make a big decision about how much participation you want to give up to allow the wiki to continue.

I would highly suggest looking to [WWW]Davis Wiki for some guidance on solving this hybrid dilemma, as they seem to have handled it quite nicely. I will also be doing some research into the topic for my senior project @ RIT. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-09 23:27:25   Steve,

I don't quite follow your concern. In looking at the DavisWiki site, which apparently rOcwiki is patterned after, I see that comments appear on wiki pages. Take a look at: [WWW]http://daviswiki.org/Kabul_Afghan_Cuisine

As an aside, I renamed my user page to reflect my full name. I agree with yours and Richard's sentiments regarding user names. Isn't what was contained on the MrPhil page supposed to transfer over automatically? Or did I miss a step? —MrPhil


2007-12-09 23:32:49   Correct, DavisWiki does have comments on wiki pages. What I meant was that since they have been rather successful (from what I hear), I imagine they dealt with this problem at some point in the past and solved it so they could continue having comments. Anyone with connections to DavisWiki should ask if they ran into this problem or if they have an acceptable use policy.

On the topic of your user page, I'm going to guess the software wasn't designed to handle user page renaming. My guess would be that you need to create a new user account to have a full name as your user name, but I do not know that for sure; RottenChester or someone else with technical experience on this platform would know better than I. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 00:44:25   Steven, even wikis need editors. When someone replaces the picture of the RIT tiger with that of a tiger with a hand drawn outline of a penis, people need to be empowered to fix it without actually having to have a dialogue.

Along that vein, I can't help but notice that you didn't provide a way to delete comments in violation of the AUP. If I were to viciously slander you in a comment, in addition to being banned, the comment ought to be removed.

And in response to your either/or model, Phil, there is a middle ground. Under the current model, people can post anything they want. They can "contribute" copyright infringing material or spam or lies or, heck, porn. Nothing can be done to stop that and still maintain this site as a wiki. However, if a group of people are appointed to handle quick decision edits, this problems can be removed quickly and efficiently and everyone uninterested in maintaining a perfect democracy - with all the work that it entails - can continue commenting on restaurants and stores and what not.

If we must discuss every revision then content would never be updated and some slanderous posts from months ago would still be on this wiki.

Currently, the people both able to ban members and active in the day to day affairs of the wiki are: Rottenchester, PeteB, DaveMahon and RachelBlumenthal.

If people attended the Contributor's Meetings, you would actually know that this particular topic was discussed a few months back! <gentle grrr> —DaveMahon


2007-12-10 00:56:03   I never said wikis don't need editors. Wikipedia, which is arguably the most successful wiki, has editors. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 00:57:30   And let's not give people crap for not coming to contributers meetings. I, for one, am in my final year of undergrad and have had a rather hectic schedule. We have a google group for a reason. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 01:11:31   And I agree with Dave that deleting of comments has to be allowed. Since it's a touchy subject, I propose that comment deleting be left to only those who are significantly involved in the wiki (defined as those who have banning privileges, maybe?)

Someone could just as easily slander or vandalize through comments as they could through article editing, and there has to be a mechanism in place that facilitates cleaning those comments up.

On a related topic, I recall some pages on the wiki having separate comment pages. I know this got discussed a while back, and I apologize for not being able to recall what was decided about it, but I think it's a good idea. I would be thankful if someone could point me to that discussion, if it was either on the wiki or on the google group. I would also be interested in revisiting the topic of having separate comments pages if there are enough interested parties, but I also don't want to rehash the past if a firm conclusion was reached. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 01:23:30   Fair enough <reaches out for an old fashioned hand slapping> - we did include those notes in the minutes though. I know all too well that there are lots of valid reasons for limiting one's involvement in a project and I will never question your's or anybody else's.

I think you're right, but I don't remember where or when it happened.... Unfortunately, short of lots of editing, we can't enforce this either. Progress is being made on that front though, although there is no go-live date. —DaveMahon


2007-12-10 01:26:30   It probably was included in the minutes, and I probably did not read them carefully or read them at all <also reaches out for an old fashioned hand slapping>. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 06:58:07   BenMargolis made a proposal to the Google Groups list about adopting DavisWiki policies, or at least using them as a basis for ours. Here's a link:

[WWW]http://groups.google.com/group/rochesterwiki/browse_thread/thread/46339fdc3beb63de

Also, there's an old strategy for disruption, "create chaos and demand order". We need to be careful that a little chaos doesn't lead us to adopt policies that become, as Richard said, "stifling". Rather than trying to modify a generic, boilerplate AUP, why not learn from DavisWiki, which just won an award, even though they aren't moderated and allow handles. —RottenChester


2007-12-10 09:40:47   What about giving people with real confirmed identities more power. In other words, any anonymous person can edit a page or add comments, but give the power to lock pages or remove comments only to people who (a) use their real names and (or?) (b) have been personally contacted in real life by one of the already-confirmed people so there is a way to contact them. It seems the perception of anonymity causes some people to believe they can destroy whatever they want. If we could call them on the phone and ask "what the fuck?" then they might be less likely (can you confirm this from your research, StevenDibelius?) —JasonOlshefsky


2007-12-10 09:55:02   DavisWiki has a pretty well-balanced policy on use of Real Name. It's strongly preferred by not required:

[WWW]http://daviswiki.org/Importance_of_using_your_RealName

Note that RocWiki has the makings of a reputation system, since every edit by a user can be viewed by everyone else. When you're trying to determine what weight to give someone's edit or comment, you can go back and review their history to see what they've done in the past. That's an important counterbalance to anonymity. —RottenChester


2007-12-10 10:24:18   Jason - That's generally correct, although anonymity is a curious topic. In online interactions, being anonymous is one thing that can make users feel less responsible for their actions, and therefore can make them more likely to take irresponsible actions, as they don't perceive any significant repercussions.

There's actually a lot more to it than that, and in some cases anonymity can have the reverse effect. That's a much lengthier discussion, which I'll be glad to go into if anyone's interested. Regardless, getting rid of anonymity tends to garner more honest and responsible contributions in online communities. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 10:37:21   This is probably beyond the realms of the current software, but it'd be cool if there were a way to put a little "real name" sort of icon next to people's names whose identities have been verified (I think Amazon.com does something like this)—anyone who has ever attended a meeting, or anyone who is already a "real world" acquaintance of someone else who has already been verified could get the icon next to his or her name. The anonymous/real name debate seems a little off-topic from the current problems, though.

On one hand, I'm all for leaving things as they are—an informal "community decides" sort of moderation. Problems rarely arise, and when they do, those who contribute most regularly tend to deal with them quickly and on a case-by-case basis. This usually works, but if it *always* worked, we wouldn’t be having this debate right now. So, on the other hand, I know that as rocwiki grows, these problems will multiply, so maybe it is best to fully address them now.

I think that the only thing that really needs to be expanded upon in the wiki etiquette section is the part about editing and deleting comments. Maybe we could add a warning, something along the lines of “Comments you post may in rare circumstances be deleted by other community members if they are deemed to be excessively rude or irrelevant to the page. If you disagree with a deletion, please move to the “Talk” page of the page in question to carry on a CIVIL discussion about why you think your comment should not be deleted.” Additionally, maybe we could summarize the mission of rocwiki—is it a community-driven open forum? A half-moderated bulletin board? We should clarify that, not only for new users, but also for all of us.—RachelBlumenthal


2007-12-10 10:53:04   Having a group of editors, is a sensible solution, provided the method for picking those editors, is transparent, and democratic, rather than self-annointed.

A solution. A meeting is called. notes are taken, and a slate of editors are elected. The notes of the meeting and the vote are published.

Of course, the devil is in the details, but what I propose is a beginning, and not an end. —MrPhil


2007-12-10 11:19:27   Phil, the term "self-annointed", and the use of the term "Democratic" to describe the process you propose, implies that the current process wasn't. Unfortunately, when only three people consistently attend meetings, then those three people become admins, using exactly the process you describe. The minutes of each wiki meeting have been posted. If not transparent enough, certainly an attempt was made.

I added Rachel Blumenthal as an admin the other day simply because she's a long-time contributor who helped out with the recent troll attack. That was definitely non-Democratic, but I don't see another alternative given the consistent lack of interest in attending meetings. We need more people who are empowered to lock pages and ban users when there's trolling.

I think it's good that we have a discussion about changes to RocWiki software, but they won't happen unless more people get involved with the backend operation.

My general point: There's been no effort to exclude anyone, and every effort made to include more people. I don't want that fact to get lost in the back-and-forth here —RottenChester


2007-12-10 11:34:08   I think we should also take into account that, probably, someone is paying for the wiki (domain name, storage, bandwidth, ...): I haven't done any research and I don't know who they are. Being here is not a right but a privilege that those individuals graciously granted to everybody, free of charge. —AndreaCogliati


2007-12-10 11:56:39   Andrea, thanks for appreciating that. RobertPolyn pays for the domain name. I pay for the hosting. I've also done most of the system administration since we migrated to our own server, and am also working on a port of RocWiki to a new platform that might help address some of the longstanding software issues we've had. AdamDewitz, who no longer lives in Rochester, has graciously helped out with both of those chores.

This debate is healthy, and I don't mean to stifle it. However, the insinuation that there's some kind of a ruling cabal that wants to control this place is really laughable. I am quite uncomfortable with the role that I've been placed in, which is the result of three other core contributors leaving this Spring. DaveMahon and PeteB have stepped in to help, and have worked very hard, but we're really just limping along as an organization.

I hope this discussion will lead others to show up at meetings or contribute in other ways. —RottenChester


2007-12-10 11:21:33   Regarding Rachel's insight: I think a lot of this debate has a lot to do with the fact that people forgot all about the introduction of the Etiquette page. It's not an exclusive list of problems and problem handling.

Sometimes it's more important to honor the spirit of the rules than the letter. And whether they're in the AdminGroup or not, well-established contributors usually have a good sense of the spirit. —DaveMahon


2007-12-10 13:17:14   "I added Rachel Blumenthal as an admin the other day simply because she's a long-time contributor who helped out with the recent troll attack. That was definitely non-Democratic, but I don't see another alternative given the consistent lack of interest in attending meetings. We need more people who are empowered to lock pages and ban users when there's trolling."

To comment on this, I don't think there's an expectation for this to be Democratic. The bottom line is that an individual or group of individuals took the time and money to set up RocWiki and it's theirs to run as they see fit. If the decision was made to include others in the decision making process, so be it. If people are given rights to administer the site, so be it. It's not my site and it's not my decision.

I also agree that those who are making an attempt to manage this site go out of their way to involve any community memebers who would like to participate. There's also quite a bit of deliberation on the mailing list when different issues come up. I'm not sure exactly what could be done to make this any more open. —RichChiavaroli


2007-12-10 13:20:28   "Sometimes it's more important to honor the spirit of the rules than the letter. And whether they're in the AdminGroup or not, well-established contributors usually have a good sense of the spirit. —DaveMahon "

I think there's a misunderstanding about what a Wiki is. It is not a message board and they tend to be moderated by a community, not "moderators". Maybe if that point was made clear someplace it would help. Then again, maybe not. —RichChiavaroli


2007-12-10 15:44:59   I second Rich comments. Wiki contents, including comments, should be community moderated. Anybody should be able to modify content and comments according to the Wiki policy.
Wiki policy should be lightweight and express more a spirit, to use Dave words, than strict rules.
Whenever a debate arises, if the users involved cannot settle it by themselves, admins' help can be seeked and their word is final (sort of Benevolent Tyrants for Life).
The administrators of this site have done a wonderful job so far, I can't see why they wont keep doing the same in the future. —AndreaCogliati


2007-12-10 17:19:52   It has been stated in this post that:

"Anybody should be able to modify content and comments according to the Wiki policy."

Without a consistent written policy, the determination that "Anybody should be able to modify. . ." becomes an ad hoc determination, subject to the collective "feelings" of whichever group deems itself to reflect the true "spirit" of the wiki (maybe a song in that).

What the collective "we" have right now in terms of policies/guidlines, are scattered about.

On the subject of administrators. It appears that due to the lack of interest, some members have become "wikimasters," by default. That is commendable, but long term will become a serious problem. A succession policy is needed,if this wiki is to continue. In other words, the success of this wiki should not be made to depend on the efforts of those who take the time to make it work.


2007-12-10 17:25:33   Again, read the minutes of the meetings and you'll find that a fairly reasonable succession policy was already developed.

Better yet, attend. The days and times are announced weeks in advance on the wiki, the Google group and the Facebook group. —DaveMahon


2007-12-10 17:28:48   What if we consider a paradigm shift from being concerned with who can edit what. Let's say that editing discussions/disagreements should always be hashed out on the Talk Page for an article. Talk pages allow for all individuals to express their opinions, and through that collection of opinions a community decision will likely present itself. That way, you remove the question of who speaks for the community, as consensus building is the primary means of making decisions.

If people try to hash out disagreements on article pages, it lends itself to becoming an edit war. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-10 20:07:34   Steve - Are you proposing moving all comments to Talk and having only content on the page? Or just meta-comments? —RottenChester


2007-12-10 20:19:50   Can you define "meta-comments" for me? Thanks. —BadFish


2007-12-10 20:40:24   For example, on a restaurant page, a comment would be a review, and a meta-comment would be one saying that there's trolling going on, or that the entry doesn't follow NPOV. Another way of stating my question is whether Steve's proposal eliminates (or greatly reduces) comments... —RottenChester


2007-12-10 21:00:47   There's also a question of how long a consensus should be allowed to build. A great example of how this can be problematic can be found in the thread "Jasmine's Asian Fusion comments" on the Google group, which has received 0 replies since being posted on November 6. It's kind of an important corner case, because it happens more often than you'd think. —DaveMahon


2007-12-10 22:33:33   How do you propose enforcing a no comments policy on talk pages? Will there be someone or some group that will be making that unilateral decision? —MrPhil


2007-12-10 23:58:14   I sincerely hope that the discourse on this page becomes less confrontational. Or perhaps I am reading too much in between the lines? —DaveMahon


2007-12-11 00:01:13   "2007-12-10 22:33:33 How do you propose enforcing a no comments policy on talk pages? Will there be someone or some group that will be making that unilateral decision? —MrPhil"

I don't think the proposal was to have no comments on talk pages. The proposal was to only have comments relevant to the content of a page on the page itself, such as reviews for a business, etc. All other types of conversations and side conversations (like this one) would be on talk pages.

As far as enforcement, I would think that the community would enforce it. —RichChiavaroli


2007-12-11 01:40:07   To clarify what I said above: I agree with many of the comments above (e.g. Dave, Rich, Andrea) that wiki policy has to be lightweight. I think some here are looking at wiki policy from way too much of a strict, legal point of view. The whole purpose of a wiki is freedom and cooperation. Freedom that anyone can do as they please, but cooperation in that if we don't cooperate, we just have edit wars of individuals bickering instead of a common goal being reached.

I think we can very easily be successful with a few lightweight policies. For one, disagreements should always be discussed on a Talk page, and wait for the consensus of the community to form. Some might ask how you know when consensus has been met. Well, the fact is you don't, but that doesn't matter. Let's say within the first day of an issue being Talked over, one decision is pretty clearly favored by the group. Someone goes ahead and makes that change. However, the discussion is left on the Talk page as a thread. This allows discussion to continue, even though consensus has already been met, so others can see what was decided and can still throw in their own two cents. That way, if what is consensus changes, we can see how that change progressed and make the appropriate change to the article.

I may not have worded the above very well, but for those who I've confused it's essentially what is done on wikipedia. All disagreements hashed out on the talk page, where a collection of individual opinions will show itself to be a consensus.

Now, let's say a consensus can't be reached. Well, wikipedia does have higher level users that have authority to make certain decisions. In our case, we have users who are clearly dedicated to the wiki much more than others (our Admin group). Let's leave it to that group to make decisions which the whole community cannot decide normally.

I'm pretty sure what I just said there is a restatement of something from a recent Meeting Minutes, or at least something very close to it. Fact is, there are some people who contribute a lot of time and effort to this wiki, and they should have some authority over the wiki because they care the most about its success. Anyone who doesn't like that: put in the time and effort, and you can be part of that group.

So far, all I have proposed is discussing disagreements on Talk pages and having Admin group make tough decisions. What about vandalism, insults, and irrelevant comments? Let anyone edit anything. People just need to follow the etiquette policy that we already have (props to Rotten and Rachel for bringing that up in this discussion). If someone spots a violation of etiquette, clean it up yourself and then make note of it on an article's talk page. That way, we don't have to wait for someone from the Admin group to clean up something that's clearly vandalism (although they are usually quite quick about it), but a line of discussion is also opened up in case someone disagrees with the change.

I don't think I've come up with any brilliant insights here. Most of it is just restatement of current wiki policy. And I've written it in a much wordier-than-necessary way. I'm just emphasizing use of the Talk pages more, so that we can understand why people feel certain ways.

On a separate topic, I do feel that comments should be on a separate page from the article, but this would not be the same as the Talk page. I would envision an Article page for just the article (collaborative content), a Comments page for individual opinion (mainly restaurant reviews), and a Talk page for "meta-discussion", or whatever you want to call it. In this case, meta-discussion is talking about disagreements about article content, discussing possible violations of etiquette in either the article or the comments, etc. The main reason I want to see a separate Comments page is that it provides a firm separation between what is collaborative and what is individual.

I know that implementing this would probably be a lot of work, but I'm just giving what I feel would be a best-case scenario, and if a lot of people agree than it's something we should consider working towards. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 01:47:55   My long comment in a nutshell:

1) Use talk pages instead of edit wars

2) Follow etiquette that we already have in place

3) Admin group will handle the tough stuff, no if's and's or but's

4) Related note: I'd like to see comments on separate page from Article and Talk —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 07:40:03   I agree with everything you said above, Steven, and your comment pretty clearly explains how many of us (I hope) think the wiki should be working. As for a separate comments page in addition to a separate talk page, I think we discussed it at a meeting a long time ago, and if I remember the result correctly, we sort of liked the idea, but at the same time we thought that a lot of new users and unregistered people would get confused if they didn't see the comments right at the bottom of the page, and they'd be less likely to contribute their own. We thought of maybe having a "digest" of the latest comments, and then a message saying to check the comments page for the entire comment history, but if a macro were made to automatically display the most recent comments, we'd have situations where a few bad reviews in a row would be the only ones displayed on an actual content page and other similar problems. —RachelBlumenthal


2007-12-11 08:39:25   I wanted to note that I find this notion of "free for everyone" or "the people's guide" about RocWiki to be a misnomer. I get irritated by this kind of thing because it's its own special form of doublespeak hypocrisy: it's really a "benevolent dictatorship with user-created content." I'd be much happier if it were explained that way. Especially if the benevolent dictators were clearly identified — and that they are not police but act as users most of the time.

Now, in line with the discussion, encouraging individual discretion and a light-handed editing approach is probably the best path here. I was involved with attempting a coup of a petty dictator at the [WWW]Colorado Burning Man discussion list and worked to [WWW]create a set of guidelines to explicitly limit moderator power. Although we didn't succeed1, we did come up with a [WWW]set of guidelines that looked good on paper and encouraged a self-policing approach.

Now, some of what we came up with may be applicable here, but I came up with a challenge that went untested: "given any rule for behavior, I can show a way (1) how it can be circumvented, and (2) how it can be used to grab power". I think that any wording — even as benign as "inappropriate" — gives people a fulcrum to leverage both kinds of action.

Users should simply refer to the body of work on the Wiki as a guideline for how to create new pages, make changes to pages, and write comments. In other words, the standard should be the Wiki itself, in its entirety (rather than an abbreviated approximation thereof). I think we can encourage people to go ahead and try as they please, but to explain how a Talk page can be created to debate what happened. The debate can center on how and why a particular [page/change/comment] significantly and inappropriately deviates from the established body of work. For instance, one could cite dozens of existing pages to justify removing advertising hyperbole to an opinion section.

The bonus of such a concise description ("refer to the wiki") is that it could be included right at the top of the page editor (and maybe even the comment block header) rather than on a separate rules/etiquette page. —JasonOlshefsky


2007-12-11 08:54:06   So the procedure for deciding who gets to administrate this wiki is based on who post the greatest number of entries?

The comment about the governance of this wiki being a benevolent dictatorship, is apt. Maybe the banner at the top of the page should be renamed—RocWiki—The People's Republic of Rochester. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 09:44:51   Rachel - That's correct about the comment pages, I do remember that discussion now.

MrPhil - Deciding who administrates this wiki is not based on who posts the most. It is based on who has been here long enough to:

A) Prove that they care about the well-being of the wiki, and
B) Show that they understand how the wiki works

Those two criteria do tend to fit people who post a lot, but simply posting is not the requirement. Like DaveMahon said above, "well-established contributors usually have a good sense of the spirit". —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 09:52:38   Jason - I agree that members of the AdminGroup should be more clearly identified (I cannot find the list of them on the wiki). However, if you're going to call it a benevolent dictatorship, it is only fair to also state that any user willing to demonstrate the aforementioned criteria for becoming part of the AdminGroup can also be a "benevolent dictator". —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 10:16:24   Re: StevenDibelius on "benevolent dictatorship"

Given the nature of the technology, the owner of the domain and hosting computers holds absolute power over the Wiki whereas the members of the AdminGroup are granted license to act as guardians.

I tend to disagree with hierarchies like this because — by granting some people power over the actions of others — you end up in a situation where malevolent people can take control. However, since not everyone can deal with the power to control themselves (especially online) then I'll concede that it is a functional short-term alternative. —JasonOlshefsky


2007-12-11 11:47:03   The Admin group is listed here: AdminGroupRottenChester


2007-12-11 11:53:55   Rotten - It says "You are not allowed to view this page." when I go to that page. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 11:55:37   Jason - The fact is nobody yet has had the time to put together a formal organization to take care of the domain and hosting computers, so we have to make the best of the situation we have. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 12:02:08   Steve: You posted A) Prove that they care about the well-being of the wiki, and B) Show that they understand how the wiki works

We thought regular attendance of meetings was the way for A because the various issues f B are discussed at meetibgs —PeteB


2007-12-11 13:04:58   Steve, you should be able to see it now. —RottenChester


2007-12-11 13:38:27   Rotten - Yes, I can see the page when I am logged in, but I cannot see it when I am not logged in (not sure if that is your intent). —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 15:20:27   Yes - no real reason for anyone not logged in to see it. I assume it was hidden for some reason. —RottenChester


2007-12-11 15:28:01   I think we are really losing the spirit of the Wiki here. From the "good old etiquette" and the vast majority of pages and contributions on the site, I’d say that RocWiki was created and nurtured to be easygoing, informative and fun (both for lurkers and contributors).

Personally, I don't consider the discussion on this page being either easygoing or fun, and I have doubts on it being informative either (good information is scattered over too many posts). I concede it might be necessary to stop and think once in a while, especially when you reach some success or some exceptional events occur. But even in emergencies (and I don’t think we are), you should try not to rush and establish emergency laws, which have been witnessed, in different contests, to be the mothers of all evils.

The sole idea that someone would want to leverage and exploit a policy to get “the power” on RocWiki is pathetic. But that's what I think of trolling as well, for that matters, and we all know that trolls would like to disrupt even the most innocuous site. It is also well known that trolls don’t behave anyway, so the most perfect policy in the world won’t stop them. In Italy we say something like “Jerks’ mother is always pregnant.”

Common wisdom says “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” I’m under the impression that the majority of the users discussing here doesn’t feel that the old way was broken, maybe somewhat flawed. Wiki, at the beginning, meant quick, and this whole process is painstakingly slow. Why don’t we step over it, clarify the policy and the etiquette a little bit just to explain how things are done (take the good hints from the discussion), and go back to what’s really exciting, that is exploring Rochester and talking about it?

Like it or not, Wikis are community moderated, that’s an integral part of them. Transforming RocWiki in something different is betraying the intentions of who created and maintained it. —AndreaCogliati


2007-12-11 16:12:34   Andrea - I agree with you 100%. I feel that there are a few individuals who, having had the opportunity to express their opinion, need to look at what the majority of people here are saying and begin behaving like community members. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 16:15:36   When you are running the playground, then obviously everything looks ok. The majority of users posting here, have chosen to take it upon themselves, to essentially set policy. And that's for a reason, you make the time to administrate this board. If that is to be the case, then we need accountability. To develop accountability requires disclosure of who is in charge of running this board. To say it is all of "us" presumes anarchy. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 16:19:28   A wiki is to some extent anarchy. However, the general policy has always been that the AdminGroup will set policy in situations where the community as a whole cannot come to a conclusion, and they are disclosed on that page. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 16:22:28   Speaking for myself, I'm comfortable with how things are. I think there are some things that need to be worked through but I don't have any issue with how things have gone.

To me this really seems like a case where people either don't like or are not comfortable with what a "wiki" really is. It's not for everyone, but it is what this site is. —RichChiavaroli


2007-12-11 16:26:56   Steve. Your comment posted at 2007-12-11 16:12:34 is quite revealing. Are you saying that if anyone takes a position at odds with ". . .what the majority people here are saying. . .", then they are misbehaving? No disrespect intended, but history is rife with examples of communities who took that viewpoint. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 16:32:52   MrPhil - I think you know full well that I do not mean that. However, those with dissenting opinions have had ample opportunity to explain their position, and have not changed many (any?) people's mind. There's a point at which debating the issue is no longer productive because people have already decided which side of the issue they believe in, and further discussion doesn't change that. I think that we've reached that point. —StevenDibelius


2007-12-11 16:35:07   Time will tell. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 16:59:25   I agree with SteveDibelius on this issue. —PeteB


2007-12-11 17:26:57   I concur with Steve's 2007-12-11 16:32:52 post and Rotten's 2007-12-09 12:17:27 post. There are elements from MrPhil's proposed AUP that we should incorporate into the Etiquette policies, particularly the relevancy and civility clauses. I would love to say more, but I fear that it would only spur more talking past each other, rather than meaningful dialogue. —DaveMahon


2007-12-11 17:42:34   It looks like we've arrived at a pretty clear consensus on the AUP. Since it isn't going to be "official policy", it shouldn't be linked from the Edit RocWiki page. —RottenChester


2007-12-11 18:08:38   Dave, the final disclaimer from MrPhil's AUP makes also sense to me. —AndreaCogliati


2007-12-11 19:04:10   Rottenchester. Who is we? Based on the number who have chimed in, it obviously isn't even a representative sample of the RocWiki community.

A community minded approach would have been been to have left the AUP link on the edit page, so that other members could have contributed to the discussion. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 19:18:53   I have been lurking and agree with DaveM, Rotten, PeterB, Rochard Sarkis (esp the last line of his post), and RichC.

I think a few folks here might not realize what makes a wiki [WWW]a wiki. —BadFish


2007-12-11 19:21:40   By your very own logic, no federal election in the past twenty would be valid due to the fact that a substantial portion of the populace did not go out and vote.

The people who feel strongly enough to espouse an opinion have spoken repeatedly over the past several days on this page and the Google group. Repeatedly, issues have been noted with the AUP, while strong support has been expressed for a more flexible etiquette guideline that actually helps new users learn appropriate wiki behavior.

Substantial portions of your proposal are useful and will almost certainly be integrated into the etiquette guidelines, but different scenarios require different responses. If Rotten receives a DMCA take-down notice, your AUP does not empower him to act, which would shut down the site. Likewise, allowing trollish posts to remain on the site for weeks at a time while we go through the dance of trying to contact people who will never actually read others' posts is irresponsible and a waste of time and energy. For that matter, poor taste in a post should not result in a contributor being tarred and feathered.

I think what a number of are trying to say is that no legal document, no matter how hard you try, can possibly predict every potentiality and as such, wiki contributors need the flexibility to react gently - or strongly - as the need arises. Whenever possible and appropriate, a gentle touch is emphatically encouraged, but that is inadequate at times.

I think Wikipedia puts it best: While we strive to build consensus, Wikipedia is not a democracy, and its governance can be inconsistent. There is disagreement between those who believe rules should be stated explicitly, and those who believe that written rules are inadequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior. In either case, a user who acts against the spirit of our written policies may be reprimanded, even if technically no rule has been violated. Those who edit in good faith, are civil, seek consensus, and work towards the goal of creating a great encyclopedia should find a welcoming environment.DaveMahon


2007-12-11 19:41:20   Dave,

You are back to square one. That AUP I proposed never was intended to be the final one. As I recommended, it was a start, and should have been left up for others to comment upon and make suggestions.

As for flexibility to respond. That was never an issue (that I raised at least). This wiki needs to be administered—my issue all along was the lack of consistency in deciding what gets edited and who gets to do the editing. And as far as that is concerned, I'm neutral, so long as I know who gets to make that decision, and how it is they get to make it. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 20:06:23   Again, read the references cited previously on this site. Specifically: Wiki Community/Not Offenses, Wiki Community/Etiquette, Wiki Community/Offenses, and of course the meeting minutes at the bottom of Wiki Community.

Take inspiration from Wikipedia, knowing that in a wiki environment, EVERYONE can edit ANYTHING, but some people's edits are more esteemed than others and can make broader, more significant changes. Doing so, however, burns social capital, which may make it difficult to make changes in the future. Social capital is earned by making "good" edits, comments and meta-comments. Further capital is derived by helping new contributors. Obviously, there is no specific quantum of social capital on RocWiki, and you or I are equally capable of becoming pariahs in the community.

Understand further that the site operates under guidelines. These are great principles, but at times, just as with Wikipedia, exceptions may be made. Unlike Wikipedia, which has a much more formalized structure and much greater public interest, a specific process for handling exceptions has not been developed. The general consensus when things like this crop up is that we do not yet have the size or public interest to develop the formal structures you are seeking (largely due to the simultaneous significant funding requirements and the relatively small level of interest). —DaveMahon


2007-12-11 21:28:21   Dave,

OK. I have a better understanding, and will govern myself accordingly. Be well. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 21:44:12   Rottenchester,

If the AUP page is as you edited that "This is a policy proposal and has not been adopted by the RocWiki community.

Then by that logic, that edit belongs on every policy page linked on the wiki community page.


2007-12-11 22:00:41   Phil, clearly the AUP hasn't been accepted. Don't give the false impression that it is. —RottenChester


2007-12-11 22:07:01   Rottenchester,

You are mistaken. This is AUP is a policy guide, like any other guide that appears in the wiki community.

That you may have not accepted it, runs counter to the collaborative nature of the wiki. I'm willing to find some compromise, but your comments about my intentions are misleading.

In the spirit of collaboration, I'll wait to see how you revise your edit, before I exercise my prerogative as a member of the wiki. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 22:13:14   Mrphil—the people who choose to speak up are not agreeing with you. That is the majority consensus we are have to go by. If more people choose to speak up then their opinions will be considered-if not then we go by what we have. —PeteB


2007-12-11 22:15:59   I have integrated all of this feedback into something a little more substantial than the old Etiquette page without have the full legal force of an AUP: Wiki Community/Etiquette/ProposalDaveMahon


2007-12-11 22:21:01   My response is now posted. The Wiki Community page and AUP page are locked. I suggest you take the rest of the night off, because the next step is a ban. —RottenChester


2007-12-11 22:25:34   Peter,

No one from the admin group has expressed any principled objection to the AUP. So what is the problem with the AUP? It could not be because I suggested it? —MrPhil


2007-12-11 22:26:26   Rotten,

Ban me?—it's your legacy—not mine. —MrPhil


2007-12-11 22:43:43   Phil-I see concerns from myself, Rotten, Dave, Andrea and Steve...I'm not arguing anymore. Community consensus is clear. You've been asked to back off and give it a break or face a ban. I concur with this decision at this point as you continue to post with the sole intention of antagonizing members of the Admin group. —PeteB