UDWiki:Moderation/Policy Discussion/Archive

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Insults and Language

I propose that we adopt some of the etiquette guidelines from Wikipedia, specifically the civility and no personal attacks policies. If nothing else is implemented from those guidelines, we should at the very least adopt the "no personal attacks" policy. A wiki such as ours relies on the efforts of the community, and the constant flames and personal attacks that currently plague the discussion areas seriously detract from the usefulness and smooth operation of the wiki. To quote from the referenced Wikipedia page: "Personal attacks damage the community and deter users." --Chester Katz 01:06, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

Seconded. (or Keep or whatever evolves for this discussion.) --LouisB3 01:24, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

I propose that people be allowed to express themselves in a manner befitting mature adults, insofar that some people happen to swear due to circumstances beyond their control. Then some douche called Chester can get offended by it and has to go crying to the moderators not only because he's a gigantic bigot, but also because he can't deal with being mildly insulted by one person. As an addition to this proposal, it might be best if people complaining that meany ol' Katthew is calling them names stop and consider if it's happening because they're being irritating and/or vexing morons who continue to hassle said Katthew despite being told repeatedly to shut up and stop bothering her. --Katthew 03:45, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

Proposals noted. Now, who's willing to discuss pros and cons of each? Some possibilities:

Clean Language

  • Pros: Provides a more professional environment. Reduces possibility of temper flares (most common reason for temper flares is when a user is insulted). Reduces hurt feelings all round. Assists in creating a welcoming environment for new users.
  • Cons: Difficult implementation (How do we deal with "crime scene"? How do we punish trangressors? Not non-trivial).

Clean Interaction

  • Pros: Keeps environment civil, encourages users to arbitrate rather than fight.
  • Cons: Reduces Freedom of expression.

Locational Language/Interaction

Description: Prohibit argumentative behaviours or flame-wars on pages other than User and User Talk pages. What this consists of should, by all rights, be blatantly obvious - but, because people will contest what a "flame war" is, let me go ahead and define it:

  • Personal attacks
  • Belittlement of a person's opinions as being reflective of some negative personality trait
  • Baiting attacks from others
When someone violates these restrictions on a public part of the wiki, whether in the talk section or on an actual page, their offending addition to that section will be removed. If they wish to contest it, they can contact a moderator to conduct the arbitration - but reverting a removal will result in a warning. Having something pulled due to flaming, however, will not; this is the Internet, people do lose their tempers, and arguments can break out. The warning will only come if someone is persistantly trying to cause problems by reverting materials deemed to be inflammatory. If the moderators feel that something which was removed as inflammatory was done so in error, it will be restored; if they feel that something was removed as inflammatory out of malicious intent, the remover will be warned and the material restored. This intentionally makes it more likely for someone to get a warning for removing something than they would get for leaving it inplace - otherwise it would be too easy to quash opposing opinions just by calling them all flames.
User and Usertalk pages will remain "private" spaces, and can be conducted by their owners as they wish, but I would hope that a system like this would result in the more publically-oriented spaces remaining neutral in POV and free from any attempts to intentionally provoke or insult people.
  • Pros: Cuts down on inflammatory nature of talk spaces in "public" wiki areas, while retaining ability for all users to have an area in which to speak their minds. Permits private disagreement and chastising, if it is deemed necessary, while areas of use to common population of the wiki are given some protection to prevent potential flame wars.
  • Cons: Potentially creates a steep "learning curve" for new wiki users through deletion of offending posts, may overload moderator-base.

Free Language/Interaction

  • Pros: Maintains freedom of expression. Abrasive individuals who nonetheless make good edits can continue to make good edits. No action required.
  • Cons: Temper flares likely to remain a common state on the wiki. Detracts from professional attitude. Likely loss of good users who are offended by Free Language. Likely result in much of wiki being blocked by blocking software, reducing audience and possible contributor base.

Now, feel free to add to the list, and/or discuss below. -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 04:08, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

Free Language I don't believe the cons. Mainly because naughty language doesn't trigger anything but the most extreme child protection software and frankly, people are going to use the same type of language only without the cursing. Really, the state of affairs would not change at all. There would simply be the same type of insults thrown and "feelings" hurt minus of course the "harsh" language. The wiki would also have alot of trouble with things like "Queer Jews." Which would set off the same type of filters. Really, this game isn't geared toward children. Children may play it, however, the language in game is much worse than any on the wiki. Looking at screenshots for Pk reports you see many times were cursing and harsh language is used to RP. So basically, we are hold the wiki to a higher standard than the game itself. We basically are saying that because a few people may find it offensive, others have to suffer for it. Clean language would also be a moderation nightmare. What is the base? I've seen others insult people more without any cursing and causing the same drama... so how would you implement it?

One would assume that a Clean language system would include more than just the swearing, and would also include removing as much as possible insults as well. Again, I note that how this is done is a non-trivial problem - it's one that has many solutions, but none are a clear winner in this regard. Still, other websites maintain Clean Language systems, so it's not impossible to implement - hell, the fact it's a wiki may make it easier to implement. -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 04:38, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
I am for Free Language, as I think the "Clean Language" movement isn't motivated by any real wish to improve things around here, and is just a poorly-veiled attempt to get Katthew banned from the wiki. Really now... cursing is extremely common in-game, and there's no need to make a wiki with different standards than those implemented in-game. I would support something that would help prevent no-content insult posts, though. --LibrarianBrent 04:57, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
I think the motives of the Clean Language proposers are quite irrelevant, as a note. Even if the motives for the idea are suspect, the idea itself might still have merit, after all. I can understand the argument that the game has swearing, stopping it on the wiki is something of a double-standard, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - nothing says that a wiki, which is supposed to be a guide and community point, shouldn't be a little cleaner than speech in-game
I personally think that at the very least attempting to reduce the level of insults around here would be a good thing. Think of it as Clean Interaction, instead of Clean Language, if you wish. I can't think of a single situation where an insult is the best first action (and very few where it's a useful action at all). So, put me in the Clean Interaction movement. -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 05:20, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Exactly, Odd Starter. The issue I'm contending was never "clean language" versus "offensive language" at all, and perhaps I should have made that more clear above. I'm only specifically addressing the issue of personal attacks. Katthew's contention that I'm bigoted against the use of swearing is nothing but a straw man, since I've continually stated that I have no problem with the swearing, and he's now managed to successfully use that straw man to divert the conversation away from my actual topic. I'm actually fine with continuing to allow "offensive language", but I don't feel that the wiki is the right place for attacks on other users. There are numerous places where Urban Dead players can go to flame each other -- the wiki shouldn't be one of them.
I think the Wikipedia model mentioned above sums up the issue quite nicely: "Comment on content, not on the contributor." It's the content of the wiki that we're supposed to be concerned with here, and that's what the discussions should be centering on. If users just resort to attacking each other rather than addressing the actual content being discussed, the wiki quickly loses much of its usefulness.
If you'd like to continue discussing the language issue, feel free to do so. Just be aware that this has never been the issue which I was addressing. Of course, if that's the case then we should split this conversation into two subsections so that the personal attacks issue can be dealt with separately from the language issue. --Chester Katz 05:38, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Maybe you should stop calling me "he" for a start. That's insulting behaviour and you could get banned for it. Hurr. --Katthew 07:41, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
I apologize then. As far as the topic at hand, are you ever going to address it, or should we assume that you're in agreement? --Chester Katz 08:09, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
And you wonder why I insult you? Jesus Christ, man, get a clue. I honestly don't think that forcing me and everyone else with a fine temper to carefully watch every last word they say simply to avoid getting banned is a good idea. There are great deal many people on this wiki who, quite frankly, need to be insulted as it is the only thing that will get them to pay attention. Goodwill and good manners can only take you so far. Hell, even then some faggots won't understand something simple like "PUTRID POSSUM IS A SHITTY SKILL NAME AND YOU'RE A FUCKING IDIOT FOR REPEATEDLY EDITING IT IN". I should know. Unfortunately.
Give me one benefit that your suggestion would bring. An actual benefit, that is, and not some namby-pamby excuse like "people will be NICE to one another!!!" --Katthew 08:50, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
I'm not suggesting that you "watch every last word", I'm just saying that it's not necessary to insult other users in what should be a constructive discussion. As far as why this sort of behavior is bad for the wiki, I'll again quote directly from the Wikipedia civility guidelines:
  • "Because it makes people unhappy, resulting in discouragement and departure"
  • "Because it makes people angry, resulting in non-constructive or even uncivil behavior themselves, further escalating the level of incivility"
  • "Because people lose good faith, resulting in even less ability to resolve the current conflict -- or the next one"
Yes, the goodwill and good manners of one user only go so far, which is why we have an entire community of wiki editors in place to make sure things go right. Items such as "Putrid Possum" should indeed get canned, and under the current implementation of the suggestions queue it would meet a quick death without the need for attacking the user personally. A community of editors working together and sorting out differences through actual discourse can make a much greater contribution to the wiki as a whole than a handful of users who insist on attacking every person who holds an opinion even remotely opposed to their own. --Chester Katz 09:16, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
To quote from the precious Wikipedia, I give you: What starts with one uncivil remark becomes an exchange of them, until people are no longer interested in improving articles and instead focus on "triumphing" over the "enemy". This is not what Wikipedia is about.
Now I couldn't care less about "triumping" over "anyone" so why the Hell shouldn't I be able to call someone a stupid faggot if they, say, repeatedly post retarded shit I couldn't care less about on my Talk page? Subtle hint, there. I am more than capable of speaking to people in a polite and well-behaved manner, when they are well-behaved and not a drooling mongoloid. It's the latter which makes me bust out the big book o' insults. Since they're obviously more intent in proving Katthew wrong and winning the never-ending struggle against Something Awful than actually listening to reason, I fail to see why I have to keep a civil tongue in my head on the matter. They've already abandoned all premise of whatever mired professionalism a wiki can dredge up, so hey let's have a pajama party. --Katthew 11:20, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Katthew (and anyone else), just quickly, I don't care who started it, stop it right now. This is a policy discussion, not a place for sledging. I'm fully aware you can talk without insulting others, so please show some fucking restraint, and stop the fucking ad hominem attacks since they don't actually contribute to the discussion. I don't care whether he deserves it or not, just fucking stop it. This is not actually getting us anywhere. Preferably, could you please continue the discussion without a single reference to any user, no matter how oblique. -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 11:42, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Hey, I'm not the one who brought up this subject as a thinly-veiled excuse to get someone banned. Also note how your use of strong language helps get the point across. I believe that I've said all I need to say on this matter anyway, barring (hopefully) the unnecessary and frequent repetition of everything I've already said, as what happens with almost every debate I get into on this wiki. Huh, I guess I've just jinxed myself. Oh snap. --Katthew 12:25, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Noted (don't care), and noted (aware of it). -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 12:55, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Straw man again. The issue is not, and never has been, strong language. Please note that while Odd Starter did use strong language, he also didn't direct any insults and attacks at you. --Chester Katz 14:58, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Thanks, Odd Starter. Katthew (and your reaction to Katthew) just so happens to be proving my point exactly. The ad hominem attacks don't belong here, but under the current policy (or lack thereof) not only is this perfectly acceptable behavior but it also seems to be de rigueur for many discussion threads. I'm not on any vendetta to get Katthew banned, and I've already stated that I consider her to be a valuable contributor and editor on the article side of the wiki. It's also obvious from reading her statements in conversations that she's capable of making good contributions to the discussions on the wiki as well, but she just needs to try to do so in a manner that doesn't involve attacking the other users in the discussion. Actually, if you follow this whole chain of events back, you'll see that the discussion started in reference to a different user entirely, and Katthew just happened to jump into the middle of the conversation. If I were trying to get anyone banned (and I'm not) it would be that user, not Katthew. --Chester Katz 14:58, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Did I not just say to stop the ad hominem attacks? Let's cease the user referencing and discuss the issues not the people, okay? -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 22:22, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
As far as the "triumphing" bit goes, it's not necessarily about whether you personally aren't interested in such -- it's the escalation of exchanges. We also have to take into consideration that keeping things the way they are leaves the floodgates open for a lot of users who don't have any contributions to make other than just insulting each other. --Chester Katz 14:58, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

Masked anger in Civility makes me more angry and unhappy than anything else. Really I simply lose all faith in what they are saying. Are they saying what they mean or are they being nice because they have to? It irks me to no end. I would rather people be up front instead of masking their insults and anger in backhanded comments/actions.--Axe-man 09:24, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

Middle ground exists, though, and seems better than either extreme. Explaining how angry something makes you, and for what reasons, without actually personally insulting anyone or switching capslock on. --Spiro 13:09, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Then that only masks how angry they are. It is a serious pet peev with me because many a fight has started because of it. I find feelings get hurt more if allowed to fester then released.--Axe-man 13:48, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
Not necessarily. Personally, even if something annoys me, I much prefer to be level-headed about the issue, rather than flame the other person. Anger doesn't need to come into it if both parties are willing to communicate. I don't believe that anger needs to be expressed, and can be "cut off at the pass" if people are paying attention by facilitating effective communication between two parties. Arbitrate, don't Argue, and there's no need to get angry. -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 22:22, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

The ironic flame war aside, am I the only one who doesn't quite grasp what's meant by "Clean Interaction"? And I don't at all understand the following: Difficult implementation (How do we deal with "crime scene"? How do we punish trangressors? Not non-trivial). for the listed cons of clean interaction. I genuinely feel that putting in some, or any, kind of rules, guidelines, or policy about language/interaction will aid the wiki. We don't need trolling here, because unlike in a forum where it's easily ignored and eventually forgotten, the wiki is a place where conversation is generally preserved, and which exists so information can be gathered. --LouisB3 22:00, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)

The implementation hits a few social contract issues. Typically, we want to state that we don't interfere with talk pages more than we absolutely have to, but if an argument flares up and things get out of control, how do we deal with this? If it's against the rules, do we send friendly reminders to people? Do we give stern warnings to play nice? Do we allow the argument to just stay there? Do we instead remove the argument? What if the argument has useful information?
These are questions that need to be answered if we are going to take action. It's all well and good to say "play nice", but the issue becomes what happens when people don't? -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 22:22, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
  • I think It would best to use an actual example to clear up any misconceptions. What would the moderation policy be in reference to the current arguement on the Talk:The_Gingerbread_Men page? We have Katthew which as always is very direct and rather harsh at times and then we have people like Flaunted, who are baiting her. How would moderation differ under the different systems?--Axe-man 22:32, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)
  • An inherent problem with limiting language and interaction to "civil" standards is that there will then be an associated problem of people trying to goad others into violating those standards just to see them banned. Furthermore, what is at issue has never been how someone says something - but, instead, the intent and associated context in which they say it. Despite the obvious conflict going on between Chester Katz and Katthew, they make the inherent issue in this clear; Chester Katz may be sticking to "civil" speech, but he's still effectively attacking Katthew's person. And Katthew, for her part, is responding with rather blatant provocations - no matter whether it's meant to make a point or not, it escalates situations and motivates attacks and thus results in a less-useful wiki altogether. Hence I'd like to make an addition to the suggestions above, by adding an entry for Locational Language/Interaction. This would help keep the "public" areas of the wiki, where groups are documented and suggestions are made, to a specified standard of civility - the "private" areas where individual users talk and discuss among themselves, however, would be moderated by the users themselves to their own personal satisfaction. I think this would allow for a certain level of free expression where necessary, but would also prevent the areas which most users access often (and which the non-users would potentially browse for reference purposes) from becoming a potential breeding ground for arguments. Plus, as pretty much everyone (including myself) has had moments where they have insulted someone personally on this wiki - it institutes no punishment for simply being argumentative, so long as one accepts when an argument is called for flaming and removed. Of course, there will be those who disagree; I simply present this as a "middle-range" option for consideration. Thoughts? --Drakkenmaw 23:36, 14 Dec 2005 (GMT)


There's been a bit of discussion, and it's getting a little long. Does anyone have any objections to myself attempting to refactor the previous discussion? -- Odd Starter talk | Mod 08:40, 15 Dec 2005 (GMT)

No complaints here, though I didn't much contribute to the length. --Drakkenmaw 08:55, 15 Dec 2005 (GMT)
I'd say go for it, but archive the discussion in its current form. --Chester Katz 14:41, 15 Dec 2005 (GMT)
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