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Forums: Index > Wiki discussion > Proposal: Policy creation and Forum archive standards

Howdy, y'all. I would like to bring up for discussion two topics: to amend the provisions for policy and guideline creation and amendment and to create standards for archiving and protection of forum topics. The proposed policy changes and sections for discussion are below.

Policy and guideline creation and amendment provisions

I have recently spent a great deal of time painstakingly going over every single policy and guideline vote we have on record to ensure that every change to our policies and guidelines were made in the proscribed manner. I removed a number of revisions that were not ratified by vote and added a number that were, but for some reason never added. As it stands today, the policy and guideline pages are as close to their ratified versions as I could make them. During the course of this, I realized that there were a number of norms that we had in policy creation that were not codified in policy and felt there were some changes to the existing policies that should be made to ensure the policy pages stay as close to their ratified form as they are now. The addition of a number of new pages and templates to help organize and record policy changes also will require codification. To this end, I have identified the following policy revision goals.

Policy revision goals

  • Make clear that changes to policies and guideines must go through the approved policy and guideline creation and amendment process.
  • More clearly state what is and is not an allowed edit that does not require the above.
  • More clearly standardize the process for policy and guideline creation and amendment.
  • Add clear instructions on how to add and format changes to policy and guideline pages.
  • Add clear instructions for any other pages that need to be updated with new policies or guidelines.
  • Add clear instructions on copying of policies or guidelines to other places.

Proposed policy changes

Policy proposal
Current policy
Quorum
  • Ten (10) votes are required to meet quorum on all forum votes.
  • A simple majority is sufficient to pass.
Procedure
Policies/guidelines
Any editor is free to edit policies and guidelines to improve clarity and readability. However, changes to the actual content or meaning should only be done with community consensus.

To this end, the normal procedure for proposing new policies and guidelines or changing existing ones is to create a topic in the "wiki discussion" forum. Once the discussion has led to a final draft, call a vote. The vote needs to run for a week at minimum.

Revised policy proposal
Quorum and majorities
  • Ten (10) votes are required to meet quorum on all forum votes.
  • A plurality, or simple majority, shall be defined as the highest number of valid yes or no votes cast which exceeds the second-highest number, while not constituting an absolute majority. A plurality shall be required for any proposal offering more than 2 voting options.
  • An absolute majority shall be defined as greater than 50% of all valid yes or no votes. An absolute majority shall be required for any proposal or request offering 2 voting options.
Procedure
Policy and guideline creation and amendment
Any editor is free to edit policies and guidelines to correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, formatting and to update links, as long as these changes do not: materially affect the content, context or meaning; or adversely affect the readability, presentation, page structure or categorization. Changes to the actual context, meaning, page structure or categorization should only be done with community consensus through the following method:
  • The primary procedure for proposing new or amending existing policies and guidelines is to create a topic in the "wiki discussion" forum.
    • This discussion forum name should be in the standard form of Proposal:<name of proposed policy, guideline or admendment>.
    • This discussion shall be advertised via notifications on the wiki, in discord and on the discussions forums. These notifications shall be made as soon as possible and shall require the appropriate rights holders to facilitate as needed.
    • This discussion shall run for a duration of at least one week from the time of the notifications being made.
    • This discussion shall finalize the exact wording of any proposed policy, guideline or amendment, including which policies or guidelines, in whole or part, that it may replace.
    • The wording of any proposal must be concise: being comprehensive and thorough while being straight to the point or brief.
  • After discussion is complete and a draft proposal is prepared contingent on the above, a topic should be created in the "wiki proposal votes" forum.
    • This proposal vote forum name should be in the standard form of Vote:<name of proposed policy, guideline or amendment>.
    • This vote shall be advertised via notifications on the wiki, in discord and on the discussions forums. These notifications shall be made as soon as possible and shall require the appropriate rights holders to facilitate as needed.
    • This vote shall run for a duration of at least one week from the time of the notifications being made.
    • This vote shall include the exact wording of any proposed policy, guideline or amendment, including which policies or guidelines, in whole or part, that it may replace.
    • Once polling on a proposal vote has begun, there shall be no further changes to the proposed wording. If changes to a proposal are required, the current vote forum topic shall be closed without resolution and a new forum topic created to incorporate said changes.
    • Current voting regulations shall apply.
  • After a proposal vote has ended, the results will be ratified on the forum page.
    • A new policy or guideline page should be created, if required, using the exact wording of the final ratified vote.
    • Any changes to existing policy or guideline pages should be made, using the exact wording of the final ratified vote.
Policy and guideline structure and organization
  • All policies, guidelines or amendments, when newly edited into a policy or guideline page should reference the appropriate forums through use of links, inline references or special template that details the discussion forum, the proposal vote forum, the dates of such and any other pertinent details.
  • All policy or guideline pages must display the {{Policyintro}} and {{Navbox wiki policies and guidelines}} templates, as well as {{Shortcut}} templates for each appropriate section.
  • All policy and guideline pages must be linked directly from the main policy and guidelines page and all upper-level policy and guideline pages must be linked in {{Navbox wiki policies and guidelines}}.
  • All policy and guideline pages must be added to the appropriate section of the policy and guidelines sitemap and each distinct policy topic should be listed in the "by topic" section of the page.
  • All ratified policy and guideline changes must have their pertinent information entered on the policies and guidelines forum archive in the table in descending chronological order and in the {{Forumoverview}} template for their respective main policy or guideline, which should be transposed onto the bottom of the appropriate policy or guideline page and forum topics.
  • Any policy or guideline, in whole or in part, that is displayed anywhere on the wiki other than its parent policy and guideline page should have its content transcluded to preserve its original form.
  • Any policy or guideline that is displayed elsewhere than the wiki should have it's content updated at any time the parent policy or guideline is updated, e.g. the discord guidelines or the discussions forum guidelines.

Comments on the policy and guideline creation and amendment proposal

I would not support any policy that includes the admin decree portion above. The very same problems we've been wasting months fixing would have been enabled by and perfectly acceptable under that wording. If the community doesn't support a policy, an insulated, power-concentrated cabal of admins shouldn't be enabled to declare policy.

intrepid359FO76NW Overseer.png6/12/22 12:15pm CT

What Intrepid said. This community and this wiki have been exposed to rampant administrative abuse for as long as anyone can remember (though it’s most clearly seen within the past year). We should be working to reduce administrative power and increase community power, not the other way around. The admin decree clause would open the wiki up to allowing the exact kind of administrative behavior that has caused the damage we’re spending all this time trying to repair. The Greatest Savior (talk) 17:44, 12 June 2022 (UTC)

If I can speak in defence of it. The decree I believe is inteded for emergencies where an action is needed right now, cannot wait for the normal discussion and voting timeframe, or community inaction and inflighting presents a problem in getting to a solution but doing nothing now isn't an option. Would you both be satisfied if it was spelled out that was for emergency cases AND that it would be immediately refered to the community on a forum to create a permanent policy (with the policy becoming void after a certain time if action is not agreed)? Agent c (talk) 18:04, 12 June 2022 (UTC)
As Saint Pain used to say: "That was broke before I got here." That clause has always been there, and since my basic proposal was less centered on that and more on other things, I left that clause in. I can certainly see exactly what you're talking about, both Intrepid and DJ. but the point C brings up is valid and the reason the clause is here. It's literally for emergencies. So is there any way we can reword that clause so that admins or crats can react in an emergency but still be held accountable? What if all decreed policy must be voted on within X time period? Something to that effect? What if the emergency is that we don't even have the quorum of 10 to change the quorum of 10? Just spitballing here. TheGunny2.0 (talk) 19:29, 12 June 2022 (UTC)
Also, for what it's worth, all of the unilateral policy changes that occurred recently would still not have been permitted by this policy, since they were not done with consensus with the other administrators, nor was it a case of "where community consensus cannot be reached but a policy or guideline is needed". The few times this clause was actually used, it was used in much more emergency situations like it was intended. I still think there is a need to have a back door for emergencies, but am certainly open to wording that makes it as restrictive as it needs to be so it can't be abused. But, as I said, all the changes I just reverted were not done under this policy, as it was one of the first policies that was removed, and none of the changes met the required threshold. Even the removal of this policy would not have stopped that.TheGunny2.0 (talk) 13:39, 13 June 2022 (UTC)
Based on feedback I have removed from consideration the admin veto clause and the admin decree clause and will solely focus this amendment on the discussion/vote process and additional instructions for adding policies to relevant pages as an additional sub-section. With this I plan to bring it to a vote after a reasonable time.TheGunny2.0 (talk) 21:22, 19 June 2022 (UTC)

The first bullet point needs to have 'The primary procedure...' removed as this would be the only proceedure as I understand it, as it should be. Also, I move that we make community notification mandatory. The vote has to be up for one week from the date of implementation of the discord/wiki-side notifications. No waiting until the last minute to post the notification when there's only a few hours left to vote or something similarly ridiculous. If the notifications don't go up on day one, then the vote is extended by however many days necessary to get a full week in. Also, is the wording here strong enough to enforce the fact that the final policy vote must be the wording decided upon in the forum? I've seen several votes put up with surprise clauses or wording in them that weren't hashed out in the forum, causing much confusion and arguing that should've taken place on the forum instead. I'd like this to no longer be a thing and would have it immediately invalidate the vote if it does. Gilpo1 (talk) 14:22, 21 June 2022 (UTC)

I changed the word "normal" in the existing policy to "primary" as the admin decree is still in the policy. I wanted to use a more directed word, I felt "normal" left too much to interpretation. The only secondary means is the admin decree. At some point in the future, we may well add other secondary means, so I felt primary was a good choice for now and the future. If for some reason the admin decree clause is struck down, it can then be changed to remove primary. You make a good point on the notifications and I shall amend the part on notifications appropriately. I will also double check the clauses about draft wording in the final proposal, as that was one of my main considerations, as you said, the draft wording to be the exact wording voted on, without change. Perhaps a "if the proposed policy wording changes after the start of the vote, a new vote must be started" or some such wording.TheGunny2.0 (talk) 18:01, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
With the notifications part i would have concerns with that, depending on its wording. I can see a way that with the wrong wording it could be used to gatekeep by sinply blocking access to bringing a policy hy refusing to do the notification. A Possible solution woild be to make this an obligation of someone with the authority to do it. Agent c (talk) 18:08, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
I was leaning towards that. Making it mandatory that anyone with access to the page (or whatever it is these days) puts up the notification. Anyone can do /d. But someone with rights needs to do the site-wide and discord. If we're going to hold up votes on the notification, then that notification better be made in a timely fashion. I'd say within a day would be reasonable. TheGunny2.0 (talk) 18:22, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
I have made changes to the notification requirements in both the discussion and vote sections of the proposed policy above, as well as clarifying that any changes to proposed policies after a vote starts requires a new forum. TheGunny2.0 (talk) 22:38, 21 June 2022 (UTC)

Removed section on vetoes and decrees

I removed from consideration the section on vetoes and decrees. To spark further discussion, I will re-add it here to see if a consensus can be reached on tightening this up:

Existing policy: The administrators may veto a policy; this should only be done sparingly and for valid reasons. Aside from the normal procedure, the administrators may "decree" policies or guidelines. This should only be done only with consensus among administrators and in cases where community consensus cannot be reached but a policy or guideline is needed. Of course, changes to decreed policies and guidelines can be suggested by anyone through the procedure detailed above.

Proposed policy:

    • The administrators may veto a policy, guideline or amendment; this should only be done sparingly and for valid reasons which must be clearly stated on the affected proposal vote.
  • Aside from the primary procedure detailed above, the administrators may "decree" policies or guidelines.
    • Policy decrees must be made public in the "wiki proposal votes" forum and added to policy or guidelines pages as per normal policy ratification process.
    • This should only be done only with consensus among administrators and in extreme cases where community consensus cannot be reached but there is a clear and present need for a policy, guideline or amendment.
    • Changes to decreed policies and guidelines can be proposed through the primary procedure detailed above.

I suggest adding a clause that any decreed policy must be voted on with a certain time period to remain in place, and merging the restrictive wording on both so that it is clear they need to be done with admin consensus and only in emergency situations. We should probably define what exactly consensus means in the case of votes anyways. We should define plurality, majority and super majority. I think we should set a standard for decrees and vetoes to a supermajority of admins. Ideas? TheGunny2.0 (talk) 13:59, 21 June 2022 (UTC)

My points are as follows:

  • Whats a consensus with administrators? The ones you can find when you need an action? Half of them? 90%? a vote?
  • We need to lock down decreed policies push them to a vote when decreed to confirm/deny. the question is what to do if quorum fails.
  • Veto makes me uncomfortable and I feel a safeguard is needed but dont know what that should be. Agent c (talk) 14:05, 21 June 2022 (UTC)

Ok, at first blush, here's what I have on vetoes and decrees. I'm open to suggestions.

Policy proposal
Current policy
Policies/guidelines
The administrators may veto a policy; this should only be done sparingly and for valid reasons. Aside from the normal procedure, the administrators may "decree" policies or guidelines. This should only be done only with consensus among administrators and in cases where community consensus cannot be reached but a policy or guideline is needed. Of course, changes to decreed policies and guidelines can be suggested by anyone through the procedure detailed above.
Revised policy proposal
Quorum and majorities
  • A super majority shall be defined as greater than 66% of all valid yes or no votes. A super majority may be required in special circumstances, such as administrators vetoing policy or guideline proposals or decreeing policies or guidelines, or overriding administrator vetoes.
Policies/guidelines
    • a super majority of active administrators may veto a policy, guideline or amendment; this should only be done sparingly and for valid reasons which must be clearly stated on the affected proposal vote.
    • Policy or guideline vetoes may be overridden by a super majority in a new poll placed on the vetoed policy or guideline proposal forum topic after a veto is declared.
  • Aside from the primary procedure detailed above, the administrators may "decree" policies or guidelines.
    • A super majority of presently active administrators is required to decree a policy or guideline.
    • Policy decrees must be made public in the "wiki proposal votes" forum and added to policy or guidelines pages as per normal policy ratification process.
    • This should only be done only with consensus among presently active administrators, constituting a super majority of said administrators, and in extreme cases where community consensus cannot be reached but there is a clear and present need for a policy, guideline or amendment.
    • After a policy or guideline is decreed, a proposal vote shall be immediately opened (through the forum topic process described above) to ratify said decree.
    • Changes to decreed policies and guidelines can be proposed through the primary procedure detailed above.

After reading the feedback mainly from Intrepid about not wanting an admin override I went back to my principles which try to place as much power and ownership on the users rather than the rights holders; as much as can be placed with individuals should be is my view:

There should be acknowledgement that someone needs to make a final decision somewhere and generally this lies with the bureaucrat(s) and administrators as their rights grant them tools to block, unblock and grant rights to users, however where tools are not required to make a final decision, anyone is free to do so as long as it respects the wishes of the community. For social/user interaction issues this will be by the moderators and administrators as appropriate. The intent of this is to ensure everyone has a voice to collaborate and to also break down barriers between those with rights and/or experience and those without. No-one owns a wiki nor has more right to it than anyone else.

The final decision part is the key and I'd like to make note of the generally, this is the most common method of a decision being made based on community input, but not the only one and as I recall unless it was a rights vote a bureaucrat did not need to be involved historically on policy, just happened to be that way mostly especially when it was dicey on the input. As a whole if there is a clear vote on policy I see no reason why the individual raising the vote cannot call it as long as due process has been followed.

The above was provided for context for the next piece which is what I've been thinking the most on:

This is not to say that some decisions should or should not be sustained regardless of the general consensus. For example if a change fixes a problem that rendered a page unreadable in mobile, but isn't liked it should not be reverted because it isn't policy.

There was another example about user blocks that followed it to prevent a two tiered structure, but not relevant to the discussion. I chose the word sustained rather than veto because if something isn't right a veto is very rarely the answer, but a full or partial pass back to the community to work out the kink and try to find a solution. Nothing to say the 5% or 95% which works regardless can't become policy with an amendment later to fill the gap. If the kink can't be fixed at least you have the rest.

To flip back to first section, who is or should be responsible for saying "hang on, this is a problem and it can't go through"? If you don't have that process and the wiki votes for say "admins cannot delete anything without 3 weeks prior notice regardless of what it is", which would be massively unweildy and prevent basic maintenance. I don't think it always has to be an admin or bureaucrat if the person calling the vote catches it and pulls it that is fine too. There may be alternatives and I'd be interested to hear about them before moving this forward as a whole. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 23:28, 21 June 2022 (UTC)

Forum archiving and protection standards

I have also re-constituted the ability to archive forum topics. The ability to do this makes it far easier to understand which forum topics are actually currently in the discussion or voting phase. Without this, any time an old forum topic required a maintenance edit, e.g. fixing a bad link, it would cause that topic to rise back up to the top of the forum list. In the process of doing this, I also found a very large number of protected forums that should not be protected per our page protection policy. To this end, I have identified the following policy revision goals.

Policy revision goals

  • Make clear when to archive old forum topics
  • Make clear when to protect forum topics
  • Ensure that maintenance edits of old forum topics are easily accomplished and do not clog recent forum topics.
Policy proposal
Current policy
None
Revised policy proposal
Administration policy
Forum archiving and protection standards
  • All forum topics should be moved to the appropriate archived category 90 days after the most recent (non-maintenance) comment or edit by adding |archived as the unnamed second parameter of the {{Forumheader}} template inserted at the page top of all forum topics, e.g. a topic in Wiki discussion should be have the template changed from {{Forumheader|Wiki discussion}} to {{Forumheader|Wiki discussion|archived}}.
    • Once archived, forum topics should remain in the archived category and should not be commented on. If the subject of an archived forum requires revisiting, a new forum topic should be made.
  • All forum topics should remain unprotected per Fallout Wiki:Administration policy#Page protection to allow for ease of maintenance edits with the following exceptions:
    • When the forum topic is the target of vandalism or edit warring, per the above policy.
    • Immediately after a policy or user rights request vote has concluded to preserve the vote integrity. Votes protected in such manner should then be unprotected when moved to the archived category to allow for ease of maintenance edits.

Questions on forum archiving and protection standards


The first question is gonna be exactly which policy page this should go on. All the other forum policy topics are on the user conduct guideline. This doesn't really fit there. It could go in content organization, but that's really for the article space. I finally decided on admin policy, as the protection section is already there and this is more of a site administration guideline than anything user or content wise. Any better ideas? TheGunny2.0 (talk) 13:26, 10 June 2022 (UTC)

i agree with these proposals in principle, even if it is shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. However, I do think in the medium term we need to discuss what is meant by consensus and try to move the wiki closer to a true consensus model rather than the tyrany of the majority. Agent c (talk) 14:59, 10 June 2022 (UTC)

I don't disagree. But without knowing if and when that will happen, I figured it was important enough to clean these up under the current structure so, as you say, no more horses disappear before we can build a new barn. TheGunny2.0 (talk) 17:16, 10 June 2022 (UTC)
Since there's been no comment on this section, I'll assume that the wording is sufficient to put forward to vote on?TheGunny2.0 (talk) 18:02, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
Mind waiting until the end of the weekend? I only just noticed all the discussion and want to mull it over. I have some thoughts in the back of the mind particularly around the admin veto part I need to phrase right. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 18:52, 21 June 2022 (UTC)
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