Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment (draft user conduct amendments)

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Thoughts when reading the draft[edit]

1) I think that generally accepted Wiki-terms need to be defined. For example, the article should state what "diffs" are. While expirienced users may know what these terms are, the inexpirienced may not. This helps bring all players to the same level.

I've explained "diffs". Does anything else need explaining? jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

2) Who makes judgement calls on suspected sock puppet entries? If someone is stacking the deck either for/against a user, who gets to make the call?

I don't think the process encourages sock puppet entries. Usually if people are concerned about sockpuppets they check edits in the "user contributions" section. Most sockpuppets contributions give them away as sock puppets (but not necessarily whose) instantly, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

3) If the role of the RfC is to get constructive comments that can help to lead the discussion to an action (agreement, mediation, suspension, name blocking, etc.) who makes that call and what is their authority to do so?

No authority other than being fellow Wikipedians, who are presumably interested in helping to resolve the dispute, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

4) If suspended, can the person appeal? To whom and by when?

The RfC process cannot result in a suspension. Only the ArbCom and Jimbo can authorise a suspension, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

5) How does Wikipedia deal with RfC's that have merit, and RfC's that are clearly vendetta actions?

Vendetta actions are unlikely to gain the support of Wikipedians not directly involved in the dispute. Often they do not even gain the support of Wikipedians in the dispute either. If an RfC has merit, the user(s) involved are expected to change their behaviour. If they do not, then the dispute will proceed to mediation and/or arbitration. At the arbitration stage, suspensions/bans/edit paroles may be imposed, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

6) While it is understood what happens if all parties come to an agreement to work towards a solution, what happens if the user that the RfC wants to seek a solution, but the accusers either ignore, or refuse to work towards a dialog? Under the current rules, those making the claims have the job of showing that they were open to a solution and that the one having the RfC against them have been unwilling to work towards a constructive end. But if the roles are reversed - the RfC'd user wants to work towards a resolution, but those making the charges do not, isn't that setting the RfC'd up to failure?

If a dispute continues despite the RfC, it will escalate to mediation/arbitration. The ArbCom considers the behaviours of all disputants, and an aggressive approach by someone who has not looked to resolved the dispute properly at earlier stages in the dispute resolution process will be frowned upon, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

7) How does the RfC process take into consideration the overall contribution of the user under the RfC, if the complaints are centered to a small, or even single topic? Does a Wikipedian at the center of an RfC who has contributed peacefully and productivly to 100 articles deserve the same treatment for a transgression as does a user who disrupts and vandalizes material without making any contributions?

In answer to your first question - it doesn't. A user who is difficult over just one topic, but is perfectly ok on everything else, should look to modify their behaviour when dealing with that one topic (or perhaps just not edit anything connected to that topic). If a case does go to ArbCom, they do consider behaviour overall, but generally good behaviour does not excuse bad behaviour on a selected article. See, for instance, the recent "Everyking" case on WP:RfAr, jguk 15:27, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think that the presentation of all Wikpedia actions designed resolve disagreements need to be reformated into a standardized formation which provideds a Summary section, followed by a defination of applicable terms. I just think that this would help clarify what the process is, what the hoped for outcomes can be, etc.

Again, these are just thoughts. user: stude62 user talk:stude62 14:15, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Needs streamlining[edit]

I think this is too legalistic and cumbersome. I expect that by the time most people get to RFC, usually all parties are already frustrated.

I think we need something simpler to head things off before they get to that point. Maurreen 02:22, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, could the problem be in the format? It seems to build on a previous "legacy" format, that through numerous changes may have become too cumbersome. user: stude62 user talk:stude62 15:51, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I made some changes, see what you think. Maurreen 20:12, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Looks good to me, your changes were clear and concise. I also liked how you made the process a postive one. And I like that you added in that those requesting the comment should make their desired outcome known upfront. I still feel pretty strongly though about the rights of the person who is the subject of the comment, and the issue of any involved party harrassing/needling one and other during the RfC. user: stude62 user talk:stude62 20:36, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thank you. Do you think more needs to be said about rights of the RFCee and harrasment between the RFCer and RFCee? (I just made up those terms.) Would it be helpful to have a shorter open period for the RFC? Also, the current draft has lost the requirement for at least two certifications by people who have already tried to solve the problem. Does anyone care about that? Maurreen 20:56, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think that the open time is fine, after all, interested parties do need time to particpate. As for the two people who need to certify within the 48 hours, I say yes, that the ones certifying the RfC should have to demonstrate their indivdual attempts to solve the problem. Doing so keeps people from starting the RfC as a vendetta. My feeling is if you're going to start something like this, you need to demonstrate that you have made serious attempt to solve the problem, not just threaten someone with an RfC and then lurk about waiting for something to happen. As for the harrassment issue, I think its important enough to stick with. user: stude62 user talk:stude62 19:57, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

My tweaks[edit]

I have made the following tweaks. Note that the project page actually shows three things - what the RfC project page would look like; what a RfC for user conduct would look like; and what a RfC for admin conduct would look like. Maybe this format wasn't clear enough - in retrospect, maybe I should have made three separate pages:

1. I have removed the phrase "You should also state what your goal is with the RFC (for example, what you would like the other person or persons to do or stop doing)." from the main RfC project page, as it's more appropriate for the detailed RfC on specific users/admins pages.

2. I have removed the following paragraph from the main RfC project page for the same reason: "=== Examples of conduct ===</mowiki>== Users who place the Request for Comment are encouraged to place their examples into the appropriate section in a clear and concise manner. Each example of conduct must be directly referenced through the use of a link. Examples of behaviors must be documented on Wikiepdia (i.e. links to talk pages showing the conduct, links to articles demonstrating examples, etc.). Other outside claims, such as harassing telephone calls and/or emails, which can not be documented as authentic may not be introduced. Material from people involved in a conflict and outside views are to be kept in separate sections and each must edit only in their own sections. People involved in a conflict are not allowed to edited sections of those they are in conflict against." 3. I have not replaced it as it suggests a user goes and looks up as many Wikipedia policies, semi-policies and guidnace pages you can find and hurl them into the dispute. If behaviour is uncivil or unwelcome, it should be modified - it doesn't really matter whether there's a Wikipedia page on that behaviour. Also, this takes away the legalese of breaking a "policy" (law) and puts the focus on informal resolution. 4. I have removed the following section from the main RfC project page for the same reason: "<nowiki>== Conduct between parties during the Request for Comment period ==

Because the Request for Comment process is designed to seek a constructive outcome, users who are involved in the action should use the period in a productive way to work towards a mutual resolution.

  • During the "Request for Comment" (RFC) Wikipedians on both sides of the issue are free to discuss matters outside of the RfC, but should do so, as always, in a respectful tone.
  • During an RfC, all parties must disclose all Wikipedia identities under their direct control, this involves sock puppets.
  • During the RfC, involved parties agree not to engage in the creation of new identites or sock-puppets.
  • During the RfC period, comments about the conflict should occur on the RfC talk page. This is designed to provide a centralized point at which interpersonal discussions can occur."

5. I have explained how to create a "diff" for those who are unfamiliar with the term.

6. I have reinstated the "Confirmation that the request procedures have been followed" section and removed the "Example of previous attempt(s) to resolve the conflict" section. First, to reinstate somewhere to explicitly state that the other party has been informed. Second, because of the change in structure to get away from certification. I outline my reasoning behind the second of these below.

7. I have added other suggestions to how a disputed might be resolved.

8. I have replaced the text removed at 4 with the following on each of the user conduct and admin conduct pages: "The Request for Comment process is designed to seek a constructive outcome, users who are involved in the action should use the period this page is in existance for in a productive way to work towards a mutual resolution. It is particularly important, if a successful resolution is to be achieved, that all users look towards moderating their behaviour both on and off this page."

jguk 15:12, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Rationale behind change in certification/time limits[edit]

The reason why I am suggesting we get rid of certification is that it means that the RfCee (to use Maurreen's terminology) does not start off 2-1 down. Also "certification" is a harsh word if we are going to encourage a friendly approach. Hopefully this will encourage the RfCee not to take an aggressive approach to the whole process. Also, hopefully it will discourage the RfCer from trying to play a numbers game.

Doing away with the requirement for there to be 2 certifiers also allows disputes to be listed before they are wide enough to have sucked in more participants. If User A's behaviour towards User B is objectionable, but User A is always good towards everyone else, shouldn't User B be able to raised it somewhere?

This is all coupled with the proposed change in the time limits. At present, RfCs are meant to be removed after 48 hours if fewer than 2 people certify them. Once certified, there is no actual process allowing for their removal (though in practice the really old ones have dropped off the list). I see no value in keeping RfCs on old disputes - if they are resolved, they should be forgotten about and people should move on. If they are not, they escalate to mediation and/or arbitration anyway. By making sure that a RfC is not a permanent "black mark" on your Wikipedia-life is useful in terms of encouraging amicable resolution - and, I hope, discourages the RfCee from taking an aggressive approach.

So to my mind, there should be a time limit for RfCs to be removed, hence my proposing one - being 14 days after creation, or 3 days after the last new user has made a contribution, if later, jguk 15:12, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Miscellaneous disagreements[edit]

  1. I don't understand the removal of the statement that RFCers should say what they would like the RFC to accomplish (such as what they would like the other party to do or stop doing).
  2. At best, the requirement for proof of confirmation of notifying the other party of the RFC does not demonstrate good faith.
  3. Removal of all RFCs is a needless loss in those cases that are not resolved. Maurreen 17:15, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
In reply:
1. I hadn't realised I had removed it. My mistake.
2. It doesn't. I'm not sure quite what you want to change things too - the approach a user takes to RfC will probably in itself demonstrate whether that user is acting in good faith.
3. The fact that a RfC has been made will remain - and if the case needs to go to arbitration it will need to be reported to ArbCom differently anyway. I doubt the absence of the text of a RfC would be in issue. If it really is, an admin can undelete it. If you have an alternative proposal, please note what it is below. Kind regards, jguk 19:37, 27 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Hello, there. Me again, and I do have to say that all of this is interesting, but as someone who is the middle of the process of having one of these things hanging over my head, I still don't see what remedy that people in my position have. Seriously. As the process stands today, those of us who are placed under the microscope get hoisted up and beat about, but aside from those people who either side with us, or those who speak on our behalf, we have no remedy to end the process. My RfC has been out there for about a month. In my case, I have offered to work towards a solution at least twice, but I haven't any takers, nor has a third party volunteered to step in and try and work this out. There needs to be a good faith clause that allows the subject a graceful way out if in fact they have tried to solve the problem but either don't get support or cooperation. This draft has to include something for people who want to solve the problem, not just let them rot on the vine. And in those cases, who gets to end it. user: stude62 user talk:stude62 02:19, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  1. I think you have overly condensed the additions from user talk:stude62.
  2. I see no need to require proof of notification. I see that as cumbersome, legalistic and instruction creep.
  3. I don't mind if the RFC is deleted if you don't mind users keeping their own copies on Wikipedia.
  4. I also think your draft is written in a way that puts the burden on the RFCer, instead of at least sharing it evenly. Maurreen 07:57, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
1. You'll have to expand on what you mean here.
2. I have seen times where the RfCee has not been informed. This section is there to make sure the RfCer does not forget to do so. I don't see it as particularly cumbersome - it only involves providing one diff.
3. If someone really wants to keep a copy, there's nothing we can do to stop them maintaining one off-line. I see no need allow copies of deleted pages to be kept on WP>
4. Again, you'll have to expand on what you mean here, jguk 13:02, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I won't worry about No. 1 as long as user:stude62 doesn't. So at least for now, I guess you and I can just agree to disagree about deleting all RFCs under this proposal. Maurreen 09:58, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Does this mean we are agreed that the current version of the draft can go live, or are you wanting to propose an alternative deletion rule before it goes live? jguk 10:44, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I proposed that there be no trouble about keeping copies of the RFCs. That was my alternative version. Maybe you can suggest another option. I don't see any consensus yet. Maurreen 12:07, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
OK. (By which I mean that whilst I don't agree with it, I will live with your proposed amendment.) jguk 12:35, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Are you OK with an addition to the draft incorporating that? Maurreen 12:41, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Yes, jguk 13:00, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I added: "After that, it will be deleted. But users are free to keep a copy on their user page." If that's OK with you, the draft is fine with me. Maurreen 13:12, 5 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Parallel suggestions[edit]

For the RFCer, you have:

"These suggestions may include offers by the user initiating this request as to how they might modify their approach, how you might modify your behaviour, or an offer to take a break from editing particular pages."

For the RFCee, you have:

"... suggestions as to how they and the person initiating this RfC might modify their approach, or an offer to take a break from editing particular pages."

They are not parallel. I'm not sure whether you're suggesting that each consider ways both might change their approach, or what. Maurreen 07:49, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I was trying to say that the RfCer should consider what he alone, or what the RfCee alone, or what both may do to help resolve the dispute. And that the RfCee does the same. Though I had trouble phrasing it, as you've seen:) jguk 08:00, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I tweaked the wording. See what you think. I'll try to expand on No. 1 above later. Maurreen 08:24, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)