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Rules of order in the actual WP

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Polentarion (talkcontribs)

Hi there. I am an WP author from Berlin, working in both the English and German Wikipedia. I am member of the German Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation, which works on a sort of facilitator's toolbox and would like to introduce and easen facilitating in WP discussions. I am interested to touch base here and connect and present our work to the group and receive you constructive feedback and suggestions.

I am an active Toastmaster and I am more about practical Rules of Order than about Software. But Software should enable and regard actual practices in the actual Wikipedia.

We already got a visual editor in article space. Most of the discussions are being led in Usenet mode based on a comparably simple editor.

Some points

  • WP talk pages in articles on recent topics tend to develope facilitation, e.g. section proposals are being proposed and integrated into lists
  • Various communities have already developed and uses different templates and structures, e.g. in opinion polls, ArbCom and featured articles.
  • Any main page section has structured discussion templates, e.g. DYK in the enWP, or SG? in the deWP
  • In ArbCom style conversations e.g. statement fields, not threads are being used. The reslut is about result, less about chat

However, e.g. in the discussion of a lede or disputed section, basic visualization techniques - like a table with the existing version, state of the discussion and a proposal - are not being used on a regular base. Third opinions often get lost. Tools to compare and keep an overview - e.g. the TOC of an article and proposed general changes to it are not being used. Usenet style discussions are so 1980ies - and hinder the introduction of new members outside of the Anorak camp.

It already could be done in a much more constructive and structured way. Practical example - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Al-Maghtas#Lede

Point is - the current usenet style tries to keep all and everything visible. Facilitating is as well about hiding, removing and sorting stuff and showing the resulting compromises. If you need the thread, have a look on the version history.

That said, any project intentending to improve facilitating WP discussions should less try to implement Facebook or LiquidFeedback but helping to easen actual needs of the community. And of cause, the actual existing practices have to be involved.

How can Flow be of help in that respect? Have you ever done a survey of existing templates and discussion patterns here? And of cause, if useful, how to implement flow e.g. for the deWP facilitation project or a user page?

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hello Polentarion, and thank you for your message!

Collaboration team had plans to work on Workflows. The original idea was to create a toolbox with a lot of elements, and the combination of these elements can help people to create powerful tools to facilitate all workflows and processes. It has been presented during last Wikimania. For example, with this Workflows system, you can have a poll system which counts automatically every vote and give you real time results, a deletion-proposal system where people just have to give the motive and press a button to start the process and warn everyone, and so.

Flow is a brick on that project. Indeed, we need a structured discussion system to make it possible: the way wiki-talk pages are created make impossible any relevant search, or don't give you the possibility to watch only conversations that interest you. We also need a modern interface, because in 2016 a lot of people are not used to count colons or add signature after their messages! :-D

Flow has been delayed to focus on Notifications (we will release cross-wiki notifications soon) but we will make some improvements to Flow soon after a community consultation (Flow is used on some wikis, in a very active and important way for some of them).

Concerning your project, Flow can help you in many aspects. you can use the Summary field (see the glossary) to have the two sections that you want to compare. The discussion can be done below. The indentation system can be very helpful to create digressions.

If there is a consensus from a wiki-project to try Flow for a specific purpose, please report it to that page. Someone will create a Flow board where you need it. To have Flow on a user talk page, a more global consensus is needed due to the impact of Flow on Notifications (a poll opened to the whole community for example). I can help you to set it up.

And, of course, do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or if you need clarifications!

Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Polentarion Hi. Just to add to Trizek's reply, I would suggest that you wait before starting a discussion, until after Phab:T125632 is completed. This will get a clearer basis of information for everyone, and enable a smoother discussion. The timeline for that task is not firm, but it will be a few weeks, yet. We can ping you, when it is complete. Hope that helps. :-)

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

My point is about schemes and structures that actually work with the existing software and community. In so far I still ask Flow developers to check what is ongoing in real life WP. ~~~~

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

We always consider and pay a lot of attention to what is happening on "real life communities", on all Wikimedia projects. I'm personally a strong advocate of going further to have tools that can fit advanced users and all their needs and newcomers, and this on all wikis. :)

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

Honestly, something like "we always consider and pay a lot of attention" is a claim, where is the beef and proof? At project Moderation, we have collected actual case studies.

  • Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation/TB Discussion of setup and TOC
  • Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation/TB Discussion of sections
  • Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation/Texbaustein Consensus buiilding for a complex task, e.g. a failed opinion poll or major controversy
  • Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation/Texbaustein 3M (third opinion formalities)
  • Wikipedia:Projekt Moderation/Textbaustein Consensus buiilding for the generic narrative of an article

Show me YOUr case studies, and I will believe you respectively be less doubtful about the sucess of Flow.

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

These resources were in my reading list, so I will raise the reading to the top. I'm pretty sure that may help future developments.

What case studies are you looking for? Cases where people are satisfied of Flow as a talk system? Cases where Collaboration team has worked to address communities requests? I'll be happy ti answer the best way I can.

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

No, we seem to talk about different topics. You seem to look for cases where Flow could have been of help. Its the other way round. Look for problems that need a solution ;) That would have avoided the failure of Flow in the community. As long as Flow stays a sort of White Elephant, a solution desperately looking for problems it probably will stay as such. Your answer, sorry to say, confirms that. I would have preferred a system developement that looks on actual and repeated discussion cases in the "real Wikipedia". You probably still need to build up case studies.

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Well, I don't think I'm that out of topic: Flow has been changed sometimes to fit to address some particular community needs (for example ). On other wikis, like Chinese Wikipedia, people use Flow Flow as an "actual and repeated discussion cases". :)

As I write earlier, Flow is a brick. Flow can be used alone, but don't see it as a final product. That was the purpose of the Workflow project. Flow can be a brick to create more easier to use workflows, or may not be used.

We are not working on Workflows right now (focusing on Notifications first) but we keep it in mind that there is multiple and complex workflows. When we will work on these complex workflows, your experience with the Projekt Moderation will be really helpful for us to identify the needs and build tools that will address as possible cases as possible. Would you help?

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

Lets say, I am happy to be of help and I am glad you see the need to involve workflows. The discussion at the lede of enWP Al Maghtas is one of the practical examples in the enWP.

If you show me a place to translate my cases and case studies, I will do so, Attached find the titles ;)

  • Consensus buiilding in discussion of setup and TOC
  • Consensus buiilding in discussion of sections
  • Consensus building for a complex task, e.g. a failed opinion poll or major controversy
  • 3M (third opinion formalities)
  • Consensus buiilding for the generic narrative of an article
  • Consensus buiilding and Workflow for a newsticker article (large involvement, large amount of incoming sources like in Fukushima accident or Cologne NYE)
  • Decicion making and workflow for elections
  • Decicion making and workflow for AfD
  • Decicion making and workflow for disrupting behavior
Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

If you can provide translations, that would be very helpful. There is no dedicated place at the moment for Workflows. Do not hesitate to start your translations on any wikipage, we can move those afterwards.

Thank you again!

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

Its not so simple ;). I formally ask to open a dedicated place, e.g. a project website within FLOW where actual showcases can be linked to with a short explanation of the case. Like my list, max 100 words for the explanation and a max of a dozen links. That would be a showcase in itself - its a wiki, and a collaborative effort.

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Let me ask the Collaboration team about that. :)

Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Polentarion There has been some past research into workflows, at various levels of abstraction and detail. I'll link to, and very briefly describe, the most prominent pages and link-hubs.

Before coding started on Flow, the page Flow/Use cases was created (early 2013). It examines and describes the generalizable workflows that editors use, in 4 namespaces (talk, user-talk, project, and project-talk). It aimed to analyze workflows at a level that could be applied to all languages/projects, without getting into the specifics.

A more abstracted version of this, in a visual "flowchart" form, is in pages 27-31 of these slides (from Wikimania 2013).

Some additional ideas about how this community-creatable workflow system might work, are in pages 20-25 of these slides (from Wikimania 2015). There are some brief notes about this, at Collaboration/Workflows. Some of the other early Flow research, also used this idea (e.g. Flow/Block Module).

The most comprehensive page is m:Workflows, which I started putting together in late 2013, as a link-hub for everything that I could find. It lists workflow research by various people over the years, including links to more of the early Flow research/brainstorming pages. It also includes some examples of existing workflow-collection systems that the communities have created, such as the dashboards and template-compilations and other API/script/bot-updated pages.

Regarding how you can help (thank you!)... Hopefully the above links are useful and interesting for you. I've been re-reading your initial comment, and nodding vigorously, especially at "Tools to compare and keep an overview - e.g. the TOC of an article and proposed general changes to it - are not being used" (I'm so happy that we can update the "description" in phabricator, whereas we couldn't in bugzilla).

I'm also reading (a confusingly google-translated version of) w:de:Wikipedia:Projekt_Moderation, and am very interested. For example, the /TB_Abschnitt page seems to be describing the same ideas as in phab:T89575 ("Associate non-body content such as annotations and talk to a location in the article") - basically, having {{clarify}} be more than just a simple inline template, and instead have it be a link that pops open the relevant discussion, directly within the article itself. (I threw some very rough ideas together 2 years ago, related to gdocs comment system, plus touching on text-density and other elements, at http://imgur.com/a/Kn3HZ#0 ) I'd be very happy to read more about all of these ideas, and add what notes I can. Perhaps you could create 1 or 2 examples, either in Collaboration/Workflows/Examples or subpages like that, and we can slowly build up a structure around it as we go. A few editors in other languages have also offered similar help.

I hope that helps, and is neither too little nor too much information!

Polentarion (talkcontribs)

Yep, sounds like real work! I appreciate as well the links to project pages. Lets see what I can do.

Point is the current deWP:Discussion page rules are a sort of nuisance - they ask for a 80ies usenet thread. Its basically much more about the the thread of the discussion, not about the results.

What I would like to see on an abstract level, is 1) a sort of template-and-result oriented approach. That said, you do not try to display the course of the discussion, you try to display the results, hopefully the consensus (which hopefully is being built in the course of the enterprise). That approach (successfully done "over the Jordan" for the lede of the enWP Al Maghtas talk page) can be used on various topics, As said, TOCs, article lede, sections and the generic narrative, the images used for an article and so on.

2) would be structures for "newsticker articles" like Cologne NYE 2015/16 or the Fukushima accident. Point is, those articles talk pages get structured, since you have to cope with a large amount of suggestions, get them in the current structure (or change that) and discuss them in a sort of Triage approach.

  • Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
  • Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
  • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

Compare File:Triagemexico.jpg ;)

3) would be instruments at (talk) pages that already have a sort of structure, take disruptive behavior, AFD, third opinions, DYK, Arbcom, sondages and elections and other main page sections. You do not have to reinvent the wheel there, but FLOW lacked - imho - a sort of coverage of the real existing WP . Compare the Radio Yerevan joke: "Is it possible to build real socialism in Armenia?" Armenian Radio answers: "Yes, but better in Georgia".

4) We got an quite interesting opinion poll at the deWP currently, where a group of authors wants to introduce a sort of token system for AfDs. Its seems to be overkill and got a lot of flak, but the basic need for a sort of "like button" respectively bet and wager system is there. I think FLOW should envisage workflows, that allow to setup up WP Tools addressing and measuring and counting credibility and success of authors and their activities in different WP processes. Thats goes beyound AfDs. The DYK entry at the enWP e.g. asks authors to provide quid pro quo reviews, if they come up with candidates for the mainpage. That goes via a AGF rule, but it could be provided automatically.

My last point is about basic instruments. WP still lacks basic tools, lets say a flipchart, a display and a template and a box with basic instruments as you see from File:Moderatorenkoffer.jpg image wise. And a gavel and the power to use it. In the past, w:de:Wikipedia:Projekt_Moderation tried to introduce the role / office of an moderator (German word for Facilitator). That failed e.g. since the community was not willing to accept a further role besides sysops. From my point of view, they failed as well, since any facilitating needs a) Rules of order, will say a set of rules which is about formalities, not about content and b) facilitatating needs basic instruments and c) they did not dare to address the power game. How to get into real nasty discussions involving bunches of idiots talking bullshit and trying to hinder any progress? A facilitator needs some power or a secured place where his or her instruments are being protected formally. I tried to do that via local sections and set of rules being introduced at the start, but any software has to cope with the powers that be as well. ;)

These are my five cents so far. If suitable, copy it to one of the pages mentioned, if you need some enlargement, tell me where to work on. Regards P

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