Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2009/July

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Discussion on new policy which would add reverse chronolgical order the the Style Guide

I believe it's time, after some discussion here that a specific section should be added regarding the previously unofficial practice of ordering sources in a reverse chronological order. Discuss. Calebrw (talk) 16:17, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

  • I made a comment there. At the time I put this in the archive conventions it was an oversight not synching the style guide to this standard. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:41, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Reverse chronological order is followed nearly universally, it should become part of the policy in WN:SG. --SVTCobra 21:45, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  • The style guide is, as it says, a style guideline, not a policy. Moreover, things should not become policy just because they happen to be done one way by some people. That way leads to ossification. Instruction creep for no good reason is a bad thing. A policy needs a rationale. So, too, does an addition to the style guideline. Indeed, we really need a reason for this even being in the archive conventions in the first place.

    I suspect that no-one has any actual figures to back up that claim of "universally", moreover. As such, an argument that "It's always done this way." founders. I could equally well assert that in many articles sources are presented in forward chronological order by date, or in no order at all. Many articles only have sources from one day, and so it's impossible to tell what chronological order, if any at all, they were in.

    Does anyone have an actual rationale for this as a style guideline, or even as an archive convention? Uncle G (talk) 00:42, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

    • So are you saying it should be random? Since Wikinews articles are collaborative, it seems to me to be useful if contributors add new sources to one end or the other and not in the middle. It makes it easier to review. I support the reverse chronological, as opposed to a chronological order, only because that has been tradition. But I think we need one or the other. --SVTCobra 00:52, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
      • I'm saying what I actually wrote, not some straw man. Here it is again: Does anyone have an actual rationale for this as a style guideline, or even as an archive convention? Notice that your argument here is actually an argument against chronological order, in either direction, and contradicts your position. I've written several articles recently where I've added new sources to the end as I've expanded the article, resulting in the source order being the order of use. The discussion that that has stirred up is partly why we're having this discussion in the first place. Order of use is not necessarily chronological order. I agree, because that's what I do, that appending new sources to the end of the list is a practice that is, at least, consistent. But that's a rationale for order of use. My question was whether there's a rationale for chronological order (i.e. order of dateline) as style guideline or archive convention. Maintaining chronological order can, and will, involve inserting new sources in the middle of the list. Uncle G (talk) 06:20, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
        • One rationale is that when reviewing an article, you can often deduct from the context of a certain part when it was written (e.g. if it was written a month ago or a day ago, relative to the article date that is). Thus sorting them (reverse) chronologically helps the reviewer in finding out of all parts of the article are covered by the sources. It also helps the reviewer (or archiver) to ensure that no source was added from a later date than the publication date, as the date of the sources shouldn't be newer than the date on which the article was published. I noticed in some older articles that sometimes a source was added e.g. a month after the article was published, because it contained new information on the subject. As we do not change the content (and sources) of articles, this prevents some abuse in that matter.
        • Another option could be to sort them on "interestingness", so readers that want to read more on the subject, can just pick the first source. One could argue that a more recent source is more interesting, but that is of course not always true. However, sorting them on interestingness is not easy to accomplish, I think. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 12:54, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Election notice: please distribute widely

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may be aware, there is concern that the sitenotices regarding submission of candidacy for the Board of Trustees election were not seen anywhere but Meta after the 11th of this month. Because of the potentially massive consequence of this, and to encourage a full and active election, the election committee has determined that:

- Candidacies will be accepted through July 27th at 23:59 (UTC)

- The period for questioning candidates begins immediately. Candidates that are "late to the party" will, no doubt, be scrutinized by the community. The Committee hopes that the community will work to actively ensure that all candidates receive equivalent questioning.

- The dates of election will not change. The election will begin on 28 July and end on 10 August.


Please know that we recognize the radical nature of altering the schedule in the midst of the election and would not do it if we did not absolutely believe that there was a possibility that others may be interested and qualified and may not have known about the key dates.

For the committee, Philippe (talk) 09:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Abolish ArbCom

Arbitration Committee elections are due soon and I propose that the committee should be abolished.

The committee is unneeded, adds to bureaucracy and editors must waste time to organise the elections.

It hasn't been used since 2006 and whilst there was a proposal to suspend Arbitration Committee in 2008, I think it is time to re-open this for discussion.

This community is so small that I believe any dispute could be solved without the need for a overly bureaucratic committee.

Should the community expand, a committee could be reformed. Should a major dispute arise, I trust that this small, closeknit community could sort it out without the ArbCom. Computerjoe's talk 23:02, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Support Relatively new so don't know much about any previous conflicts-but I've not seen any and can see no real need for it. Any problems can be dealt with by the community-which is pretty much the ArbCom anyway!   Tris   23:11, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Three years have went by with absolutely no cases or even hints at cases. We have other policies, and a tight-knit community to enforce them, to make sure nothing ever has to come to "an ArbCom level." It's simply pointless for a community of such small size to have this body. Mike Halterman (talk) 00:44, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Communities this small rarely see disputes significant enough to warrant ArbCom. –Juliancolton | Talk 00:47, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Support It served its purpose — dealing with perpetual MrMiscellanious/Neutralizer drama (we desperately needed a binding authority to put an end to it). We can always bring it back later if we have to. Let the current terms expire without any replacement. harej (talk) 00:49, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
    • If you want more of the backstory, here it is. A few years back there was this editor named MrMiscellanious, who was fairly conservative and frequently clashed with Neutralizer, who was into conspiracy theories. It did not help that neither of them were exactly civil in the face of editorial dispute, and Neutralizer was not the only once concerned about MrM's behavior. These conflicts ran nigh on forever, and ultimately, it was decided that there needed to be a binding authority to get this done. The Arbitration Committee was established. The case of MrMiscellanious was finally addressed by ArbCom, and they decided to hold a confirmation vote on his adminship. Pretty much the entire site turned up to vote against his adminship, including myself. He then retired. As for Neutralizer, after he received a 4 hour block, I decided he broke the camel's back and made that block last for six months. People disagreed, so I agreed to a parole system. Of course, he violated the parole and the site agreed to ban him forever. Then he was unbanned after six months for a stupid reason but never returned substantially. harej (talk) 01:04, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
harej, in your opinion then, as you have gone through what most of us have not, would Wikinews be better served by having a WN:ARBCOM in place before the next "MrMiscellanious/Neutralizer" incident erupts? Given that ArbCom was created during a dispute, there must have been some concerns that candidates had already formed opinions. Cheers, --SVTCobra 01:48, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Recognizing that it's very possible that Wikinews will once again have to deal with a drama queen, the Arbitration Committee should be kept in a memberless dormant state until people agree that it's time to bring it back. harej (talk) 01:57, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Memberless ArbCom is, imho, retarded. Indefinite terms, subject to challenges, would be better than that. --SVTCobra 02:10, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree. How about each of the present members stay as arbitrators for now, and arbitrators who resign do not get replaced until the ArbCom reaches some critically low number. harej (talk) 02:14, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
What's wrong with having to vote once a year to confirm their status? Otherwise you'll probably get the discussion if they still have the community's support, etc., when they are actually needed. I think we can reconfirm the status of the current members (if they still want to) + vote for a new member. It will take very little time and shows continued support from the community, so there can't be any discussion about the validity of their ArbCom membership. Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 11:09, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Votes take time and indefinite terms result in inactive members being arbitrators. Computerjoe's talk 12:06, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Ahh, so many memories. As you have pointed out, practically the entire site voted against MrM maintaining admin status. If there was such strong consensus that he was behaving inappropriately, why was Arbcon needed in the first place? - Borofkin (talk) 00:51, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose abolition of ArbCom. There were very good reasons for setting it up, and it was difficult to form in the midst of recurring POV-warring. I'd say it is extremely unlikely we'll need it again but it would be too much of a headache to set up again if needed. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:47, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
    Perhaps in such an occasion, the project's bureaucrats could form an ad hoc committee? Computerjoe's talk 16:36, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose Might come in useful in future, better to have procedures in place that people know, then to suddenly have to create such a commitee from scratch, with the rightful accusation that rules are being changed and created on the hoof. As to membership how about a dormant but standing membership of all active stewards, a member would have to be trusted, active and supported by the community in order to become a steward and to maintain their stewardship. The committee could remain dormant until a quorum of members (say half) decided that its powers and authority was needed in a particular case.KTo288 (talk) 15:25, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose per reasoning above (including my previous reply). Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 18:18, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per rationale as given by Brian McNeil (talk · contribs). Cirt (talk) 06:32, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

It appears consensus won't be reached. Perhaps a compromise could be made? Perhaps the ArbCom could be simply made up of all of one class of user, for example crats? Computerjoe's talk 16:24, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Because...? Van der Hoorn (talk) 20:44, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure how that would resolve the issues at hand. –Juliancolton | Talk 22:30, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
It won't. ArbCom in 2006 had a point. Now, in 2009, there is no purpose for it and clearly keeping it or ending it proves divisive. I know I won't involve myself in elections as I had last year, because quite frankly people think such a small community electing half its members to an ArbCom that does nothing is a total laughingstock. And now I agree. Mike Halterman (talk) 08:18, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose if an ArbCom is assembled on an ad-hoc basis it will always be questioned if it was tainted. I say we keep the July 31 date annually to elect members for the open seats and any where the member has had no edits in 90 days (or some other amount of time) --SVTCobra 22:44, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
    • So that would mean if all ArbCom members would be active for 90 days, we could never vote for other people? What's so bad about re-electing the old ones, too? Cheers, Van der Hoorn (talk) 11:40, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
      • No, SVTCobra is saying keep the elections on a specific date, exclude any inactive members from automatic nomination, and proceed with elections. Personally, I think this whole discussion has collectively taken up more time than holding the election. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:00, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I think we lack consensus and we should use SVTCobra's suggestion. I will proceed with organising an election tomorrow or on Friday, if we have no objections? Computerjoe's talk 16:05, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Style guide issues

I've just come across The BBC News Styleguide. I've read the introduction, and I added it in one of the bottom sections of our style guide as something for further reading. I note the first section is on abbreviations and acronyms - perhaps that could act as input to the "U.K." vs "UK" debate we've had, and possibly other points.

Point to note in that introduction is the BBC aren't often the ones to introduce terms, but their use signals or results in a widespread acceptance. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:02, 29 July 2009 (UTC)