Requests for Comment/Endorsement of Meta conventions

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Initiator comment: The purpose of this Request for Comment aimed at Meta is for the community to endorse certain principles and conventions that have been applied here. The reason why this express endorsement is necessary is because of the disputes that have taken place at different times and in different places about whether these rules are indeed 'convention' or not. To some (including myself) these rules seem logical and as some would say a no-brainer but clearly the necessity for this Request for Comment arises because some others do not think that these rules are obvious or logical and contest their very existence. I would like to thank everyone that participated in the drafting and pre-discussion statge (Dmehus, Naleksuh, Raidarr, Reception123, Agent Isai). --DeeM28 (talk) 16:31, 15 May 2022 (UTC)

Proposal 1: Notices and warnings on talk pages

A user who is warned or otherwise told that they did something wrong by an administrator or Steward may not remove the thread from their own talk page. The thread may be archived (but not removed); however, archiving (using one of the prescribed methods) should generally not be done sooner than approximately 2-4 weeks following the conclusion of the sanction/restriction (in the case of time-limited restrictions, sanctions, or blocks of 6-12 months or less) or 2-4 weeks following the imposition of a sanction/restriction (in the case of long duration restrictions, sanctions, or blocks of 6-12 months or more, or indefinite blocks). After a significant period of time (i.e., at least 12 months since the conclusion of a warning, restriction, sanction, or block with zero recidivism), a user may, in their discretion, either (a) remove a thread, without archiving it (if it's not been archived), or (b) request an administrator remove it (if it's been archived), typically by reaching out to any administrator on the adminisrator's user talk page, opening a thread at Meta:Administrators' noticeboard, or adding {{admin help}} to a new thread on their own user talk page

Endorse (1)

  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Obviously, this should have been enforced a long time ago. --DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 16:40, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support Rather than rephrase my arguments already been made in the course of a discussion at Meta:Administrators' noticeboard it will be more simple if I reproduce them here. "First it can mean that there is clear contempt on the part of the user who perceives the warning as unjust or undeserved and belives that that means it is fine for them to just remove it. Second it can mean that they are embarassed by the warning and wish to hide it from the public view. Most importantly as it was pointed out above it means that the warning will almost have the effect of disappearing and if another administrator wishes to send the user a warning for another matter they will not have the benefit of being able to consult it. While an extreme comparison it can be compared to a criminal record; how would things work if criminals would be able to remove parts of their criminal record because they felt they were unfair? It makes no sense to allow someone to remove warnings from their talk page because they do not like them and I completely disagree with that and would be more than willing to support any proposals making it a written policy if that is what is neceessary". The recent arguments made about it being harassment do not convince me at all to change my view on this matter. All Meta users must follow Meta's policies and conventions and a warning for not following said is not "harassment". If a user believes that an administrators has targeted and/or warned them in an unfair manner that is a separate question and can be dealt with by contacting another administrator or bureaucrat but there is no reason for that to prejudice the general rule. --DeeM28 (talk) 16:43, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
    This is not true at all.
    First it can mean that there is clear contempt on the part of the user who perceives the warning as unjust or undeserved and belives that that means it is fine for them to just remove it. And what's wrong with that?
    Second it can mean that they are embarassed by the warning and wish to hide it from the public view. And what's the problem with that?
    Most importantly as it was pointed out above it means that the warning will almost have the effect of disappearing and if another administrator wishes to send the user a warning for another matter they will not have the benefit of being able to consult it. This is actually the closest thing to a valid reason you have produced. However, it is still important to note that the page history exists and that it needs to be consulted anyway. User pages explains it better: If a user removes material from their talk page, it is normally taken to mean that the user has read and is aware of its contents. There is no need to keep them on display, and usually users should not be forced to do so. It is often best to simply let the matter rest if the issues stop. If they do not, or they recur, then any record of past warnings and discussions can be found in the page history if ever needed, and these diffs are just as good evidence of previous matters.
    The recent arguments made about it being harassment It's not an "argument", it's a policy (though Wikipedia policies are not necessarily policies here). A common problem is harassment in userspace. Examples include placing numerous false or questionable "warnings" on a user's talk page, restoring such comments after a user has removed them
    It sounds like you have either not read or severely misunderstood the proposal and the facts surrounding it. So I'd encourage you to withdraw your support until you have more time to research the issues. Naleksuh (talk) 17:40, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support per above and as I have explained before several times, I think it makes no sense to allow users to remove warnings whenever they want simply because they don't want to see them anymore. Reception123 (talk) (C) 16:59, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support MacFan4000 (Talk Contribs) 17:08, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support per nominator's proposal and own !vote rationale comments as obvious. It's most unfortunate that what had been generally accepted, implicitly and explicitly, by dozens if not hundreds of Meta Wiki regular community members as a common sense convention needs to be codified into this community-endorsed Meta administrator conventions guideline page. Dmehus (talk) 05:04, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    I fail to see how a proposal that is directly contradicted by enwiki policies and essays should be considered "common sense." The presence of these policies and essays (which were established over a decade ago in a much larger community) should be indicative that this is instead a complex issue worth thorough discussion. See also w:WP:NOCOMMON. -- Void Whispers 19:22, 16 May 2022 (UTC)

Withhold endorsement/not endorse (1)

  1. This is completely wrong for a number of reasons. First of all, there is a blurry line between "warnings" and any other messages. Secondly, the idea that this would only apply to sysops or stewards is an attempt at creating a heirarchy, messages by these users cannot and will not be treated as any more important than messages by others. Additionally, there is the concern of messages which claim that a user did something wrong when this is not the case (i.e. "false warnings"), or warnings that were not based on policy but that user's personal beliefs, being required to remain in place is wrong and contains confusion. Lastly, it's clear that the entire premise of this proposal is flawed, because it is an attempt at misusing talk pages. Talk pages are not meant to be used a "wall of shame" about a user. WP:BLANKING says it best: If a user removes material from their talk page, it is normally taken to mean that the user has read and is aware of its contents. There is no need to keep them on display, and usually users should not be forced to do so. It is often best to simply let the matter rest if the issues stop. If they do not, or they recur, then any record of past warnings and discussions can be found in the page history if ever needed, and these diffs are just as good evidence of previous matters. - I don't think I could have put it much better myself. And this proposal does not advance any good reason as to why Miraheze should be any different, or why Miraheze should do something differently. Oh, and also the number creep, earlier than two weeks. In short, this proposal seeks to make messages by sysops and stewards "more important", in violation of everything Miraheze, and wikis in general, stand for, with sysops being accountable to the community, not having their messages unable to be removed but others left in place. It also does not account for "warnings" which claim that a user did something wrong when this is not actually the case, or warnings based on that sysop's personal beliefs rather than policy, with the added problem of this completely misusing talk pages to be a wall of shame. Why should users be able to remove some messages, but not others? Deciding both by blurry unmeasurable things and by user groups? And all of these problems are against no valid reason being advanced for this proposal. See w:WP:BLANKING. You have not advanced any reason as to why Miraheze should be any different, it sounds like everything there applies here too. Addendum : I wrote all of this before it was updated to have even more number creep. Yet more super complicated paths for this case and that all with number creep? This is absolutely terrible and not what policies are designed for. Policies should be general standards not firm rules, not incredibly narrow path cases defined with number creep. Naleksuh (talk) 17:40, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose The reason of this proposal doesn't make any sense at all. The purpose of giving a warning is to let users know that they have done wrong/they are blocked. Given that the user choose to blank the warnings in the user talk page, it means that the user have read the notice and have no intention to reply. What is the reason for prohibiting them then? This proposal have nothing to do in terms of helping admins, but a tool to make the user to be shamed. Second of all, from the proposal, removing admins/stewards' warning is prohibited, but removing a normal user's warning is allowed, why should we determine messages from user groups? Does that mean that admins/stewards' comment have more power that even the talk page's owner can't delete that, while other users' comments can be normally deleted? All users' messages should be at the same level. Based on the 2 reasons stated above, I strongly oppose this proposal. --Matttest (talk) 07:33, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    It is not at all for the purpose of 'shaming' but for the purpose of reminding them that they have been warned/given a notice and that they should be careful to not repeat the same mistakes. Usually, when a user removes a thread it isn't because they understand and acknowledge it, it's because they don't care about it or feel like it shouldn't apply to them. If Administrators are not trusted to give out proper warnings, that should be taken up with the administrator not with the rules. Reception123 (talk) (C) 06:49, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
    @Reception123: I understand that purpose of this proposal is not shaming users, but enforcing this proposal actually will make the user to become shamed of their talk pages being flooded with these warnings. If a user removed the warnings, and doesn’t vandalise/disruptive anymore, it would mean that he/she acknowledged it, then what is the reason of prohibiting them to remove the thread? If a user removes the warning and keep vandalizing, meaning that he/she don’t acknowledge it, what will happen is that even you prohibit them from removing the warnings, you still will not be able to stop his/her disruptive edits. We can see that from this proposal, no matter dealing with users who acknowledged the opinion or users who vandalise, does not fit the propose of reminding the user. If a user acknowledged steward’s suggestions, they will do so, if they don’t, even you prohibit them from removing the warnings, they still won’t follow the suggestions. Enforcing this proposal actually doesn’t make it useful for the admins or the users, but it will make the user who acknowledged the suggestions to be shamed. For the vandals/disruptive editing users here, a temporarily/infinite block will be the best. -Matttest (talk) 09:43, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
    Since the only purpose of this proposal doesn’t stand, I think I need to vote a strong oppose here. --Matttest (talk) 09:54, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
  3. I fail to see a convincing argument that we should revoke the autonomy of users to control their own talk pages. Obviously, some restrictions should apply (no editing of other's messages, nor removing a comment without removing its replies, etc.), however a mere warning should not carry such administrative weight as to become (semi-)permanently entrenched onto a user's talk page. If a user removes a warning, it should be considered acknowledgement of that warning. If the user disregards the warning (regardless as to if it is removed), they will be sanctioned. I also feel, given the size of the community here on Meta, that it is unlikely that the removal of a warning from a talk page will effectively hide that warning from other administrators. If a user does manage to dodge sanctions by removing warnings from their talk page, then that should be considered a failing of Meta's administration to communicate with other administrators. Finally, I believe that the only thing that will come from forcibly requiring users to keep warnings on their talk pages is what we have already seen. The conflict is drawn out ad nauseam, wasting the community's time, patience, and other resources. -- Void Whispers 19:22, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    I understand the arguments about user autonomy when it comes to talk pages, but in my opinion this proposal is mainly meant to target users that are commonly referred to as 'CIR'. While the argument about the size of the community would in theory make sense, in practice what tends to happen is that administrators sometimes don't access Meta that often and will not realise what users are causing trouble and whether they have been warned before. Before the recent incident, there were few issues with users refusing to archive warnings/other threads because that would be the right thing to do rather than completely remove threads that people took time to write out of contempt. Reception123 (talk) (C) 06:49, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
  4. Considering the views I have expressed in previous discussions, Void has expressed my take on the issue with the same precision that I could have provided for myself. It seems that many of the discussions as of late have been attempts to "pass the buck" from administrators to be accountable and community oriented to requiring Meta users to maintain administrator actions for them. dross (tcg) 19:45, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
  5. --IAC (talk) 03:38, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

Neutral (1)

Comments/Discussion (1)

Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment: If warnings are going to be ratified as binding in the sense that users must provide some form of prominence to them, then this raises two elements that should be considered (which I intend to make proposals for, given a little more thought). One, central logging - I'm uncomfortable strictly mandating a particular archiving structure for user talk, but if warnings are considered binding in this way then there should be a central reference all admins can quickly find and search without having to go talk page digging anyway. In other words warnings ought to have a central logging option which will compromise with the wish to respect user talk page autonomy. Talk page is the notice for the user, logs are the record for everyone's convenience - if we don't have a built in log for warnings then let's make one. Two, if warnings are to be considered valid and binding, they must be able to be appealed in a way that is clean and consistent. This can be through the same way unblocks are reviewed, or including multiple admins, or/escalating to a Meta AN inquiry where the resulting consensus will decide if the warning merits the central log or not. If something is official then it must be officially accountable. This proposal makes things official (crudely, I feel) but is sorely lacking in accountability. I find myself leaning towards both Void and John's perspective as this proposal continues. --Raidarr (talk) 13:06, 17 May 2022 (UTC)

Proposal 2.1: Editing other users' messages

Threads and replies created by other users should generally not be edited without their prior consent, notwithstanding to make technical corrections (i.e., to fix or update transclusions, retarget wikilinks, fix lint errors, or to make other corrections of a technical nature in the discretion of, principally, Meta administrators), to add {{unsigned}} signatures, or to make minor formatting, stylistic, or grammatical corrections. If in doubt as to whether one should edit another user's message or thread (in other words, in so-called "edge case" situations), one should, ideally, ask the subject user or ask a Meta administrator, usually by opening a new thread at Meta:Administrators' noticeboard or adding {{admin help}} to a new thread on their own user talk page. This only affects the alteration of messages and does not affect the right to remove, revert or undo posts as currently exists; however, users should be mindful when reverting threads from other users, particularly when using semi-automated tools such as Twinkle to ensure they were not merely reverting a good-faith question when a response is more appropriate.

Endorse (2)

  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support It is quite clear to me that the general rule should be that user's messages should remain unedited except for very minor edits. If a post is in violation of a policy or is not proper for Meta it should be removed and not altered. --DeeM28 (talk) 16:43, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support The exceptions allow for various minor changes to be made for grammar/updating links but make clear that generally user posts shouldn't be edited. Reception123 (talk) (C) 17:00, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support MacFan4000 (Talk Contribs) 17:08, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support --IAC (talk) 03:35, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

Withhold endorsement/not endorse (2)

Neutral (2)

Comments/Discussion (2)

Proposal 3: Editing other users' user pages

Other users' userpages should not generally be edited without their prior consent, notwithstanding the usual exceptions that include, correcting misleading statements (i.e. an assertion that one has rights that they do not in fact possess), to remove content that violates the Code of Conduct or other global policies or Meta Wiki local policies, is otherwise generally considered to be offensive or inappropriate for a user page, is either blatant vandalism or patent nonsense/gibberish, is narrowly construed as blatant spam (note that promotional user pages which act as a user's curriculum vitae are not "spam" for this purpose; spam is unambiguous self-promotion of a commercial product or service, often involving SEO techniques), to make minor technical corrections (i.e., to fix or update a page or template transclusion following a page move or deletion, to retarget wikilinks (usually related to the format), to fix lint errors, or to otherwise correct a broken redirect or double redirect), or to otherwise make minor, non-substantive corrections. As with above, if in doubt as to whether one should edit another user's user page (in other words, in so-called "edge case" situations), one should, ideally, ask the subject user or ask a Meta administrator, usually by opening a new thread at Meta:Administrators' noticeboard or adding {{admin help}} to a new thread on their own user talk page.

Endorse (3)

  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Similar argument to the one made in 2.1. --DeeM28 (talk) 16:43, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support User pages shouldn't be edited by others unless it's really necessary, which is made possible by the exceptions provided. Reception123 (talk) (C) 17:02, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support MacFan4000 (Talk Contribs) 17:08, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support --IAC (talk) 03:36, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

Withhold endorsement/not endorse (3)

Neutral (3)

Comments/Discussion (3)

Proposal 4: Edit warring

Edit warring is not permitted on Meta (including on one's own talkpage). The level of sanction for edit warring is to be determined by a Meta administrators depending on the circumstances, and the Wikipedia 3RR rule is not directly applicable.

Endorse (4)

  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support There is not much to say about this proposal. I have included it in order to make it clear that the 3RR rule as written is not fully applicable to Meta and rather administrators should have discretion. --DeeM28 (talk) 16:43, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  2. Symbol full support vote.svg Strongest support It should be very obvious by now. --DarkMatterMan4500 (talk) (contribs) 16:47, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support I think this proposal is a bit redundant and unnecessary as it is the status quo (since as far as I know, we don't usually have recourse to 3RR exactly) but since we are endorsing unwritten conventions it might as well be included. Reception123 (talk) (C) 17:03, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support MacFan4000 (Talk Contribs) 17:08, 15 May 2022 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support per nominator's rationale. I would just add that I like the way DeeM28 said he wanted it "in order to make it clear that the 3RR rule as written is not fully applicable to Meta and rather administrators should have discretion," as this is functionally equivalent to my comments in the drafting phase where I said that, though the Wikipedia 3RR rule is not directly applicable on Meta Wiki, it may be used by some administrators as part of their discretionary determination methodology as to whether edit warring occurred and what level of warning, sanction, or other restriction is warranted. As well, while I disagree with Naleksuh in their interpretation of WP:OWNTALK, if we were to assume for a moment their interpretation were correct, that would be quite ludicrous, as that would mean vandalism only accounts, users blocked for repeated competency is required reasons, or even, potentially, LTAs could edit war with impunity own user talk page. Dmehus (talk) 05:00, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    No, this is completely false, and would only apply to edit warring, I never said vandalism and block evasion would be allowed. Please stop w:strawman Naleksuh (talk) 05:22, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    Thank you for sharing your view and interpretation. It obviously differs from me. While blatant vandalism only accounts and LTAs would be unlikely to be affected by allowing WP:OWNTALK, based on your interpretation of that English Wikipedia policy criterion (is it even a policy, or a guideline?), that still doesn't refute my comment about users, with no current blocks and with competency issues being allowed to edit war on their own user talk page. Dmehus (talk) 05:26, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
    being allowed to edit war on their own user talk page No, being allowed to not edit war on their own talk page, as it does not constitute edit warring. Also, what would the problem be with that? If they are reinstating problematic content, that is a seperate issue. If they are simply managing their user space, there's no problem with that. This proposal seeks to allow sysops to just write whatever they want on people's talk page no matter how invalid it is and not allow anyone to remove it for any reason, to conclude not only that the user whose talk page it was was edit warring, but that the sysop who repeatedly reinstated it without reason was somehow not. Naleksuh (talk) 05:44, 16 May 2022 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support --IAC (talk) 03:37, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

Withhold endorsement/not endorse (4)

Neutral (4)

Comments/Discussion (4)

Comments made in the pre-proposal drafting stage

Proposal 2.1

[@Dmehus: I'm not quite sure why we need a non-admin/admin distinction here? I feel like the exceptions you list are enough and I can't really see a situation where an administrator would have to edit a message (rather than just remove it) for reasons other than the exceptions listed. (By distinction I mean the first 'by non-administrators' phrase, not the one that says principally by admins which is fine. Reception123 (talk) (C) 06:21, 10 May 2022 (UTC)

Yeah, this wasn't originally there but is just making it even worse now. A lot of the proposals were changed to add number creep and power to specific user groups. I was neutral on the original proposal, but would oppose this version. Naleksuh (talk) 06:24, 10 May 2022 (UTC)]
I have boldly removed the distinction as there seems to be general consensus that it is unnecessary given the broad exceptions allowed. If this is something to be desired I would think an amendment could work, but either way this now seems to be heading towards being a guideline rather than policy. Reception123 (talk) (C) 11:10, 12 May 2022 (UTC)

Proposal 4

[I don't think it's necessary to directly reference 3RR since it isn't a hard rule and just states that it 'often attract blocks of at least 24 hours', so it's not a hard rule or anything --Reception123]

[I'm okay with the reference to the 3 revert rule, but would suggest rephrasing this. I wouldn't say it's not specifically "not applicable on Meta," but rather may be used by some administrators for the purpose of assessing whether edit warring has occurred or the severity. --Dmehus]

[Are you also proposing an exemption to WP:INVOLVED, given that the incident this proposal is referencing suggested that the user who was edit warring should place a block? --Naleksuh

In the example to which you're likely referring, ideally, an administrator should ask another administrator to issue a sanction, including a block; however, this is not always possible. I do agree Reception123 should not have continued the reverting for as long he did and should have followed up his warning with a short block, or, if possible, asked another administrator to follow up on his warning with a short block. Failing that, it could've always raised a thread at Meta:Administrators' noticeboard seeking the other Meta administrators' and/or the Meta Wiki community's input on next steps -Dmehus
No, the entire point is that Reception123 was one of the users reverting, so them placing a block would be a violation of the policy on involved sysops. You are now suggesting that they should have placed a block, which sounds like you are simply completely ignoring the policy. If you wish to rescind it, that is a seperate proposal. --Naleksuh
Well, no as WP:INVOLVED is not a Meta Wiki policy. As a best practice, many administrators have usually, but not always, followed that English Wikipedia guideline. In this case, given that Reception123 had given the user a warning, the user paid no heed to said convention, I do not feel that following up with a short block for the user continuing to disregard the established Meta Wiki convention in this case. It was a standard "clearly warn, cite way, revert, and sanction" case. The only error he made, in this case, was in continuing to revert seemingly indefinitely. If it had been a standard, sanction after the user reverted following his initial warning, I'm quite confident that was acceptable practice for a Meta administrator and do feel rather strongly the community would see it this way also --Dmehus
Now you aren't even accurately what happened. The content was never restored again after the "warning" was delivered, instead, the "warning" was removed from the page. So no, the "warning" was not ignored, and actions did not repeat, instead, the "warning" was removed from the page, which is an indicator that the message has been read and acknowledged. If you cannot even accurately describe the situation that you are trying to retroactively change the rules for, does this not invalidate the entire proposal? --Naleksuh]
I think the debate about Proposal 4 seems to rather be approaching a debate about Proposal 1 and the discussion here seems to generally be more appropriate for when this RfC goes out of the draft stage. Regarding WP:INVOLVED, I generally do think it's a good idea to follow it (and I would do things differently next time) but I don't think it should be strictly applied, especially given the fact that there's not many active Meta admins so it might not always be possible for another Meta admin to get involved in time. What you seem to suggest is that if I would, for example, warn a vandal to stop what they're doing and then they'd revert my warning, I'd revert it back, etc. then I wouldn't be able to block them because I'm involved. The danger in following Wikipedia policies is that they have many more resources and another admin can be found in seconds if needed, while here that's not the case. --Reception123
No, that doesn't apply or make the situation any different. INVOLVED does not apply to vandalism and a few other things as well. The purpose of INVOLVED is to avoid a judgement call in a situation in which you are involved. As the quote on the side says, "No man is a fit arbitrator in his own cause" -- Naleksuh]