FANDOM


This Forum has been archived

Visit the new Forums
Forums: War Room Comment policy reform
Note: This thread has been unedited for 2135 days. It is considered archived – the discussion is over. Do not edit this thread unless it really needs a response.
This discussion is closed. The result of this discussion was:

Rollback users now have the ability to edit comments. Policies for rollback users have been clarified.

Please do not edit this discussion.

I think some reform of our policies on comments has been needed for some time. Despite the endless opinions, conversations and complaints we've had on the topic, we haven't actually had the collective guts to say that enough is enough. I mean, this is a discussion we really should have had months ago, but everyone (myself included) has just kind of put on a "it'll be right" brave face. The occasional blog post scolding us for our collective problems won't change attitudes. What we need to do is draw the line somewhere and actually talk about what kind of policy adjustments we need, specifically in relation to our attitude to users (especially anonymous contributors) and our comment deletion practices. So just be honest as you can and criticise away. :) The 888th Avatar (talk) 10:30, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

One relatively significant ambiguity regarding the comment policy when it comes to the level of eloquence of a comment. One of the examples of a comment that should be deleted, according to the discussion policy, would be "i luv katara she is so nice!" on an article titled "Aang". This warrants deletion under the grounds of being irrelevant. However, the judgement to delete this comment would be cloudy if it said "I love Katara; she is so nice!", as, while not speaking about Aang, it is an opinion closely relating to Aang, and may warrant reasonable discussion. Again, in the deletion policy, the comment, "Aang rockssss!", is given as an example of spam or irrelevant content. There lies an ambiguity in the fact that "Aang rockssss!" means practically the same thing as "Aang is one of my favorite characters!", while the latter is a succinct opinion, and does not warrant deletion. While I do agree that "Aang rockssss!" should probably be deleted, there is no line drawn between the two. This is a minor gripe with the way the policy is written, but this seems to be the place to bring such things up. Uiop60 has a message wall and has done some stuff 11:01, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
To remedy that, how about adding the feature of editing comments to rollback rights? Currently, we only have the ability to delete them, and only admins have the ability to edit them. But, there are only seven admins, and not all of them happen to find comments with inappropriate words, which they can edit and remove. I have twice seen comments which have inappropriate words, but other than them, a pretty good reasoning or theory. – Natsu11 · (wallNanatsu no Taizai) 11:06, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
Well, as I was the person responsible for writing those bits of policies, you can blame me for less-than-stellar examples. :P In the end, though, there are fundamental ambiguities in those lines of policy that would make a "great" example difficult to give. I think Natsu's suggestion would help resolve those ambiguities. It'd also help in that we don't have to delete comments containing leaks wholesale – we can just edit out the stuff that's against policy. We could also more actively fix coding errors (a common one is people placing a space before their comment) and correct English mistakes (obviously paying attention to not changing the meaning of the comment). The 888th Avatar (talk) 11:13, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
Sad to say that attitudes of users towards anons hasn't changed much since the creation of the Tolerance blog. I'm not naming anyone here, but occasionally I still see mocks, disparagement, and arrogant behavior in the comments (without sounding like a hypocrite, I'm asking anyone here to correct my behavior too if it's out of line). That being said, I think comments that contributes nothing should be deleted, but not immediately. As for the definition of "Constructiveness", I digress. In my mind, it goes along the lines of: if it doesn't provoke prominent discussions (example being "Aang rawksss!!"), then it's gone. Imo, "Katara is nice!" on Aang's page should undoubtedly be deleted, as the subject is clearly Katara, not Aang. If we were to relate comments to articles just like said example, then "Amon Rocks!!" on Ty Lee's page should stay too, since they both practice Chi-Blocking (makes sense?). Axiovatar Talk 11:19, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

Maybe we should clarify that rule a bit so that every comment that only leaves option to reactions like "I agree", "yeah", and "right on!" should be deleted. That is now somewhat covered by the "not conductive to constructive discussion" deletion option, but it couldn't hurt to expand a bit on that, truly saying what is to be seen under that. That goes further than only the commenting. Maybe it's time that we really write down what is generally seen under "current standard" as new and anonymous users often don't know that standard, and are then called back because of something they couldn't have known about.

And yes, as when 888 suggested that on IRC, I do agree with giving rollbacks the option to edit a comment as well. Now only admins can do that, and if we're honest, only Vulmen is usually seen being concerned with comments. Hopefully, when given the option to edit some spoiler stuff and/or inappropriate language and/or grammar/spelling mistakes out, less comments will get deleted. When more comments will get a spelling/grammar make-over, we might also put a halt to those useless and inflammatory "learn to spell"-comments.
However, if we do this, people also need to realize that not every word is seen as offensive. For example, it's not because somewhere the word ass is used, that it needs to be immediately edited out. The context is in which something is said very important when it comes to judging a comment.

I don't know how to write it in or make it clear, but people really need to learn that edits of an admin aren't holy. They can be reverted just as easily as that of a new user.

A personal pet-peeve of myself: warning users. We are still way to quick to slap an official warning on people's pages, especially on the pages of new and anonymous users. It's not because it's easy to hand out a warning that we immediately should. Even when a user has blanked out an entire page, why immediately jump to a warning? Especially if that is the only thing that the person has done wrong. Either just let it be or drop them a friendly message asking them to stop. And with friendly I mean, don't be condescending, harsh, or protective. Whatever that user has done, be the bigger person and stay friendly. Even with a personal attack, is it really worth being angry and aggressive about? Think whatever you want about the person, call them names irl, but when you message them, be friendly. (personal note, that will usually aggravate a vandal more than being mad at them, as that is exactly what they want. If you show them that they can't anger you, they have failed and will get bored and leave.) Sure, if they continue, a warning can be given, but seriously, not every bad habit calls for a warning. For example: Dc (sorry to use you as on example here ^^) has blanked out a page as well not too long ago and what did he get? His edit was obviously reverted, and then he got a funny comment on his talk page. When an anonymous or a new user does that, s/he immediately has an official warning slapped on his/her wall. Why them and not Dc? Because we know Dc and he's even an admin. Should that however protect him? His mistake was exactly the same as that of the anonymous/new user, and yet, only the latter gets a warning. We work with such double standards based on popularity and status... Just treat and warn new and anonymous users like you would any other well known user on here. So seriously people, lay off the warnings unless they are really warranted and it is obvious that no other approach has effect. They are more offensive to people than we realize. This is already written in quite well in policy, but I felt that it was needed to mention this again, as I see it happen ever day when I backlog the RC.

Now back to commenting and then I'll stop my ramble: write in two golden rules when talking on the internet "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." (there is nothing wrong with walking away from a discussion before it even began.) and "make it clear when you are joking, and when you're not." In a conversation, 90% of the conversation is formed by body language. Now guess what's missing when talking on the internet when people can't see you? That's exactly the reason why I use so many smiley and whatever. Not because I love them so much, but because they show people that I am only teasing or whatever. Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 11:47, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

Granting rollback users the right to edit comments when necessary would definitely come in handy and allow comments that maybe use a curse word, leak information, have grammatical errors, etc. but are otherwise relevant and well thought-out to stay. Lady Lostris brings up an excellent point concerning the body language and yes, we do need to be careful because one person may make a joke, but not everyone else knows that and that's where things can get fuzzy and out of hand.
Unfortunately, anonymous users are still looked down upon in some cases and the example with DC accidentally erasing the article and the supposed scenario if an anon ever did that stresses that. That person may not have a username or avatar image or what-have-you, but there's still a person out there who's writing that comment or making that edit and that's something to keep in mind. The Ultimate Waterbender 12:19, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

Clarification should definitely be needed on what's "Not conducive to constructive discussion" -- there has been a surge of comment deletions of late under that banner and I don't believe all of them were needed, as some of them were just, as much as people shoot them down, plausible theories. So, to put forth some examples on just what falls under that banner would not be of any harm.

Giving rollbacks the ability to edit comments would not be a bad idea -- however, where do we draw the line between a comment just needing editing or being entirely deleted? I mean, someone could try to make a constructive point, but it's buried under several uses of poor language and the comment likely should just be deleted on sight. So, keep that in mind if we draft that in.

In terms of nonies -- hmmm, the only case I can recall of nonies blanking out pages as of late is the user who replaced them with stuff like "I AM THE KETCHUP MAN" which of course warrants a warning, since it's outright vandalism. I can't really recall the last time a just blanking out occurred. I do know in the past, nonies were warned for it, however, and I do see your point. So, unless the page is outright blanked out, without a hint of vandalism (Like my above), perhaps it would be best to wait on issuing an official warning, and if it happens multiple times, then it should be applied. KataraFanboy Send me a messenger hawk Katara Sprite Season 3http://i695.photobucket.com/albums/vv319/flutflutflyer/KataangSig.png 12:44, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

Blanking out a page is just an example, I'm talking wider than that. Any case of vandalism, if it is just a single case then let it be. Another example of a user that immediately got an official warning was someone who changed Katara's quote so something like "I'm gay" or whatever. But that was the only thing the person did, but got immediately a warning for that. Those warnings handed out on first sight of vandalism. No, just revert it and wait to see what else that person is going to do. There is no set rulebook we can make when it comes to warning, but common sense should fill in what policy cannot draft up: don't warn a user for the slightest thing out of line they did - and that is sadly enough the current situation. Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 12:52, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
Some form of warning, however, really should be given for vandalism like that. If not official, then at the very least -- a "Hey, don't do that again," unofficial type. We really shouldn't just let it go following a revert, we should let them know that what they are doing is not the way to go about helping this wiki out, and can get them in further trouble if they keep that up. KataraFanboy Send me a messenger hawk Katara Sprite Season 3http://i695.photobucket.com/albums/vv319/flutflutflyer/KataangSig.png 12:57, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
Editing comments to fix language mistakes may be one step too far. As much as I hate poorly written... everything, it is not our job to go fixing typos and grammar on posts. We don't do it on talk pages; why should we on comments? I'm not sure those should be deleted either... It's a thin line to cross and I for one did not sign for this. Spam should absolutely be deleted, but not poorly written comments. We could ask the poster to be more careful with their writing, but going as far as banning bad English posts may deter and discourage newcomers. ― Thailog 12:55, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
@PSU:Sure, a friendly warning may always be given, as long as it isn't intimidating, condescending, and/or harsh. My point is just that people hand out warnings way too fast. Which in turn creates a hostile environment, and no one wants to become part of such a community.
Oh, and about where the line for alterations lies: only correcting spelling/grammar mistakes and edit out spoilers/bad language. The content and the message of the comment is to be left alone.
@Thailog: True, it is not our job, but otherwise many of those comments get deleted. This may be a nice way to counter that. Or at least an option worthy of a shot. If it doesn't work, the right can always be taken away again. Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 13:02, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
To touch upon the case of an anon blanking out a page and replacing it with some nonsense content, even then I don't think one should jump to an official warning. Yes, some users do vandalize and mean to hurt the wiki (and not just by blanking out pages), but some maybe are just trying to be funny or get attention or are unaware of our policies. Handing out official warnings at first sight of a wrong-doing shouldn't exactly be a go-to option. There are some things that I don't even like about the official warning template, one thing being that it states that someone did something wrong, but doesn't say what they did wrong or how it was wrong which can lead to confusion and that person asking, "Well, how was my edit/comment not constructive?". To quote from "Bitter Work", sometimes "a gentle nudge in the right direction" can go a long way. ;) The Ultimate Waterbender 13:05, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree with Thailog. Editing a comment is changing what the other person has said and I am loathe to do that. Deleting an inappropriate comment, oddly enough, I'm okay with. Perhaps all comments should be considered ephemeral and deleted after say, six months. Even if a comment stimulates an interesting conversation, it's soon pushed down to the point where hardly anybody is going to go through page after page of of the not so interesting ones to reach it. When I first came to the Wiki I wrote a long comment about the similarities between the Air Nomad's Avatar determination ceremony and that of Tibetan Buddhists' Lama determinations. It's long lost -- I don't even remember which page it was on -- and was one of the main reasons I became an editor instead. "Korra rawks!!1!!" at least shows enthusiasm and should stick around for a while, but does anybody really care after a few months? DesertDog (wall) 13:22, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
I understand the concern about editing comments for English mistakes, but I think both the current policy and the proposal have been more widely defined than intended. "Readable" does not correspond to "English so perfect that no amount of poring over it will produce better wording". It simply means "readable" – good enough so that others understand the intention of the comment.
The idea behind the original policy was to coerce people who could use proper English (which is most people here) into actually using it. Unfortunately, it's been demonstrated that the existing English language policy has been shown to be ineffective and discouraging, which has been pointed out. So in response to that, comments should be edited to make them "readable" under the definition above instead. This would avoid the problems of the original policy and be much more inclusive. Anyway – and this is a key point – it should be remembered that unlike posts in the War Room, our official discussion pages, or even our own walls, minimal modifications to comments are more unlikely to have large ramifications in terms of intended meaning. These aren't exactly conversations where changing someone's comment in the slightest may impact the operation of the site.
Further definitions – when I say "minimal modifications", "minimal" is a very narrow definition which only extends to things like fixing obvious typos, removing the last million exclamation marks or periods, replacing l33t speak with their spoken English equivalents etc. etc. No rewording, no punctuation fixes; not even replacing "brang" with "brought" or any other common errors of expression. Minimal change to make something understandable to the reasonable person is the idea.
Yes, there are both benefits and problems to the proposed approach. But I'd argue there's a net benefit. Unlike talk pages or Message Wall, comments are very, very visible to anyone who visits the site. Comments in poor English far outnumbering those with reasonable standards discourage the core demographic for this wiki (young adults). It's more discouraging to see so many comments in poor English than to see "hyrbid" changed to "hybrid". I know I instantly leave a site when I have too much difficulty reading their English. It's something we have to address; it isn't something we can just leave there.
We're not deleting old comments, by the way – I'll say that much. It's not technically feasible. The 888th Avatar (talk) 14:14, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

I agree with wjxhuang about the comment editing. – Natsu11 · (wallNanatsu no Taizai) 14:20, April 4, 2012 (UTC)

I agree with giving rollbacks the ability to edit comments. It is necessary indeed to make changes to the current comments policy, examples and explanations given there are not enough to make clear when a comment deserves deletion. I also think this needs to be changed: "The following types of comments on articles should be deleted on sight and the user warned by using {{Uw-comments}}", I agree too about leaving a message first, even in cases like the one Lady mentioned about me blanking a page, this can always happen to any user, it's an accident, there's of course a difference with replacing the entire content of a page with an irrelavant comment or doing the same with many articles repeatedly; for this and the rest of the examples in policy is about what the warning template use should specify more.
Correcting grammar/spelling is necessary only to the extent that comments make sense and have coherence (besides the correct use of English), but there should still be a limit: of course, never changing the viewpoint of the commenter or what s/he means, which is also determined sometimes by certain ways of writing, for example, "Mako is an AMAZING character. I looove his style of firebending "cool underfire" style and in a lot of ways, Mako remidsns me of Zuko. :)" What would be corrected here should just be "remidsns". "looove" is a way to write something differently, it's incorrect grammatically, but a way to express it.
Another point I believe should be discussed now is when to delete shipping comments. Current policy states: "Comments on shipping on articles other than Shipping and Fanon:Shipping (e.g. "katara should have ended up with zuko!!")." With Korra's first episodes, shipping comments have obviously started to increase in pages other than shipping ones, but deletion has not been being carried out. The prohibiton of shipping comments on pages would delete almost all comments in some articles, for this reason this should state the same than the sentence about irrelevant comments: shipping comments are allowed unless they are clearly irrelevant, just supporting a ship, like "MAKORRA <3", but serious and well-written theories or points of view would be permitted, which is what have been being done lately. Dcasawang1wall 15:23, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
I agree – Rollbacks should be given the ability to edit comments, so long as we're not changing the initial message that the user was trying to convey, just for code-fixes, spelling/grammar, or unnecessary swearing. About the warnings, I also think that we should offer a friendly warning to start, which I usually try to do before giving the official warning. Annawantimes (Talk) 16:51, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
You guys can start of by making the wikia's comment policies better by stopping users from calling us nonies and Anons. --74.177.201.38 20:15, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
That's quite a good suggestion, as many anonymous users indeed take offense by that abbreviation. Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 20:22, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
I agree with giving rollbacks the feature for editing comments, as long as its only used to correct common spelling and grammar mistakes and eliminate leaked info and swear words. The ideal should be to have the comment stay if possible and make it look the best it can, as comments reflect on the site as a whole. It should be spelled out when is right to edit in our policies and comments that are otherwise in violation should just be deleted. Also, we need to clarify what "not conducive to constructive discussion" means - since the limits of when that applies aren't defined. I'm actually inclined to think we should eliminate the "not conducive to constructive discussion" option altogether and replace it with another, less vague phrase. --AvatarRokus Ghost (Message meRead my fanon) Aang Cosmic Toph-DoBS-2 23:20, April 4, 2012 (UTC)
I started this forum back in November last year concerning the creation of "Not conducive to constructive discussion" reason. Like I said before, we need a strict line, or rather reference as to which comments are permitted to stay. I've stated in said forum that comments such as "KOrra is awsume!!~" is bound to be a target for trolls. Do we really permit pointless one-liners, which I doubt the original poster would even care after 2 days, just to invite mockeries and inflammatory comments to succeed it? In which case, it'll all end with deletion. Therefore, I suggest that if any comment does not provoke thoughtful replies, then it doesn't warrant it's stay. As per Lostris, if anons have nothing better to say, then don't say anything at all.

Anonymous Users are known as anons is just a simple case of abbreviation. Or else, what would they be addressed as? Axiovatar Talk 03:21, April 5, 2012 (UTC)

I'm against giving rollbacks the power to edit comments, because it seems to me as an invasion of "online personal space". If a comment someone wrote was massively changed, then whose comment is it really? The original user who posted it (technically it would still be registered under that username or anon IP), or the rollback user who heavily modified the comment? I'd be inclined to think it's the latter because unless the edit is trivial (rarely are on comments, since they are not commonly written as formal responses), then we as the more powerful users are effectively subjugating our own ideas and supplanting their original ones. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem 11:26, April 5, 2012 (UTC)

I don't think giving rollbacks to right to edit comments will be subjugating the original user in any way. The parameters of when it would be okay to edit a comment and for what reason would be defined. It would not be meant for changing the meaning of a comment or saying something the original poster did not intend to say. If a rollback user oversteps their bounds and uses comment-editing for this reason, that rollback user can be approached and/or warned, just like in other cases of violating policy. --AvatarRokus Ghost (Message meRead my fanon) Aang Cosmic Toph-DoBS-2 14:01, April 5, 2012 (UTC)

I think rollbacks should have the power to move comments to somewhere on-topic, especially when it is well-thought of. Editing is good to, to correct for formatting errors and stuff. We need some guidelines what rollbacks can edit or not. — Hasdi Bravo • 14:09, April 5, 2012 (UTC)

I agree. Rollback users should get the right to edit comments for the sake of: not removing all caps comments, but just rewriting them grammatically correctly; edit for the sake of spelling and/or grammar; remove pictures from comments and format pictures in comments. There should also be a quick "report comment button" that goes directly to all admins to decide what to do. In addition to that there should be a range of inappropriate comments resulting in a ban. For example 10-20 comments in 2 months (depending on admin decision; only the admins should decide because by the time anything happens there will five more users to discuss) inappropriate/offensive comments are equal to a week's ban. The second time that happens, it should be a month's ban. Then three months, so and on, and so on. In addition to that there should be an official comment warning, comment ban nomination warning and a ban notice. Rollbacks and admins should give written warnings, not templates, at least once before taking further action. Exceptions to this should be made, and longer bans should be in order if user continuously abuses other users through comments in short periods of time.
To summarize my passage: I believe that everyone should be given a chance - everyone should be respected, but when they do not want it, you should keep that in mind. I do not support disrespecting other users, but not everyone ought to be forced to respect those who do not deserve it. I believe in bans to be a later resort, but I do not believe that bans should not be in consideration. If users wish to misbehave, then let them be shown that we do not support that. Anonymous users should indeed have a ban limit since they should never be banned for an unending time period, but I believe up to 6 months is as low as we should go. Comments are abuse. You cannot go to a person's face and tell them that you are happy that they left so many of their friend behind. That is what happened on one of the blog posts about remembering TAD. She wrote a giant blog post, in which she poured her heart saying goodbye, and this is what she gets?! I'll stop here since my "summary" is almost as long as my main part.Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 00:10, April 6, 2012 (UTC)

This has been written by TAD, Theavatardemotivator, a former rollback user. Whoever happens to post this—of whose identity I am not sure as of this writing—does not necessarily agree or disagree with the following. Yes, I’m gone, but my voice is still around. I might no longer grace the hallowed halls of the Avatar Wiki and its various subsidiaries, but there are many things about which I might express a humble opinion. For all I know, the discussion has already strayed beyond whatever I may write here, but it must still be expressed. Yes, you can ignore it. Yes, you can glance at it and think of teal deer. Yes, I’m going to write it anyway.

There are two issues at play here. The first which I will address is the topic, Comment Policy Reform, with the second issue potentially being addressed at a later point. Now, I have not seen the thread itself, due to being sadly unable to access the Wiki at this time; however, from what my friends have told me, I’ve gleaned that some are advocating allowing rollbacks to edit comments and otherwise promote a stricter comment policy that will ensure safety and tolerance for all. Perhaps you will immediately label me as a crazed and inane American, but I disagree, wholly and utterly. Free speech is vital, even on something as seemingly simple as an encyclopedia on a children’s show that ran for three years. I do not question the validity and wisdom of our rollback users, many of whom I count among my close and personal allies, but I do question the very principle. Certainly the comment will have a history, and consequently anyone wishing to access it would see the original comment and the edit, but, on its face, who would spend his time searching through histories? It is bad enough that admins can edit comments if necessary, and delegating the power to an army of rollbacks—whom are not checked as often as other users—will result in warped speech. For instance, what if a new rollback sees a comment stating that the user does not like, say, Katara? Could the rollback edit it on basis of promoting tolerance, et cetera? Or what about a comment that the rollback simply doesn’t like? Opinions bias viewpoints. Free speech for all, no matter the topic and manner, as long as it carries a message, is vital for the basis of any culture, especially once devoted to gathering knowledge. Why do I adore free speech so much? Those users and nonies usually pushed to the side and ignored could have the best ideas, or the wittiest argument, or something of worth, and we, the high and mighty EDITORS OF AVATAR WIKI™ are so much better than they are, and we need not waste our time on their puny and clearly idiotic minds! Oh, no, we are far better. We should limit their speech so that only our opinion can prevail. I’m not saying that those who suggest limiting free speech are thinking along these lines, but that is what will result. Not necessarily intentionally. No. There are other reasons to limit it, of course, such as safety, an attempt to nurture a positive atmosphere, or the fact that Avatar: The Last Airbender is a kids’ show, and therefore the site should also be child-appropriate. Nonetheless, I stress the importance of free speech for any and all, provided the speech has a purpose other than trolling, even if it looks like trolling.

I will now make several suggestions, many of which, I know, will be shot down due to this or that. I’m only making them. Firstly, I would open the comment policy to allow all comments that:
a] carry a message, no matter how diluted, illogical, or contradictory to that of the average reader,
b] do not contain leaks, pornography, and other illegal or inappropriate material [I use the word “illegal” loosely here and do not mean legality based on American, international, or other law],
c] and are not personal attacks composed of fighting words.

For [c], common curse words such as “hell” or “damn” should be allowed sparingly; even more potent ones do not immediately warrant an edit or deletion. However, depending on the context of the writing and not the message, streams of fighting words/curse words should be deleted under “inappropriate laanguage”. On the other hand, as shown in the Katara example, what one might perceive as inflammatory might be only inflammatory to others of a differing opinion. [Along a side note, as much as I, self-professed Grammar Ozai, hate to say it, incorrect grammar does not warrant editing the comment.]

So let’s see some examples. Say Nony #1 posts, “hell yah catara kicks ass in the sothrn raiders”; that, no matter how poorly written, carries a message. Some might argue that this is an example of spam that doesn’t really add any benefit. I never said it couldn’t be counted as spam. But what I am saying is that, using the loosest terms of free speech, it should be allowed. Or check out this: Nony #2 states, “azula is awful. she deserves to die for what she did to zuko and katara in the final. she almost killed zuko n i think thats y zutara didnt happen”. Should it be allowed? Yes. I’m aware of the policies against shipping comments, and I agree that those should be moved to the shipping page, but they should still not be outright deleted. In the meantime, Nony #3 boldly announces, “zhows a stupid fag hahahaha fuck him no1 even lieks zhow cept retard shitheads and every1 ho btchs n lieks him shud b hung”. Does it have a message? I suppose it technically does, namely that the writer shows his distaste for both Zhao and his faangirls. Conversely, the writer also uses an excess of inflammatory and inappropriate laanguage, and subsequently this example should be deleted, or at least restricted. But—and this is the important part—if the same opinion is expressed without the overt use of laanguage—then it should, in my humble two copper pieces, be allowed. -TAD

TAD has changed my mind. I have crossed off my last sophisticated text, and I am now restating my new wishes. I agree that everyone should have the right to speak their mind, and this is the greatest part of American culture, thus rollbacks should not be allowed to edit comments. Still, I am against curse words being posted on the wiki. If we are trying to create an encyclopedia, we ought to have a cleaner comment section. The only curse word that I believe an exception is some cases is the word "hell". It can be used inappropriately, and appropriately. Here is an appropriate example: "I think that the Fire Lord's fire is a metaphor of hell." I know that the sentence is exotic, but it carries my point across. If used inappropriately it should be changed "heck" or a different appropriate replacement. Who changes curse words? Admins and possibly some specially assigned users who are the "next step of rollback". They will use words like "darn", "freak" and other possible replacements. Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 02:06, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
Thanks to KFB for posting TAD's contribution to this important discussion. :) There's a lot of valid concerns in there that I'd like to address. I think the fundamental misunderstanding that has arisen is that allowing rollback users to edit comments amounts to a tightening of policy and a restriction of free speech. It isn't. It's really a relaxation of current practices and an encouragement of free speech by further limiting the power of rollback users to delete comments. If the correct guidelines are advocated for and if those guidelines are adequately policed (between all of us, all edits are accounted for), I strongly believe that this change would have the intended effect. The example that was brought up was if, say, a user didn't like Katara and said that. Of course rollback users would have no power to edit that comment beyond the limited guidelines.
But say if they did. In that event, and if it's a serious case or has been going on for some time, our policy allows for summary removal of rollback rights if such behaviour is noticed or reported. Rights are a privilege, not an entitlement, and thus those with additional rights should consider themselves on a shorter leash than those new to the site. One of the most important principles that has to be more widely followed on this site is that lack of true accountability breeds arrogance. Strict accountability breeds humility. If we continually pretend not to notice or meekly rebuke unacceptable admin and rollback behaviour, the whole system of accountability breaks down. If all of us know that at short notice our rights can be removed summarily or at least by community consensus in the case of admins, then we'd be much more likely to watch our own actions. For example, I'm fully aware that someone could create a thread advocating for the revocation of my own rights. That keeps me honest. The knowledge that we have to be honest should, if it's more widely propagated and strictly enforced, provide the best protection of free speech.
So from my rambling, you could sum up my idea of how to deal with this problem as a solution in two prongs. The first prong is to, in principle, provide for a relaxation of comment policy by further limiting the scope of rollback users to delete comments. The second prong is to strengthen the threat of removal so that as a group we're kept more accountable for missteps.
Allow me to explain the first tenet in this approach more fully. What needs to be stressed is that it's a very minimalist approach. A proposed policy for this would only allow for editing a comment under these situations:
  • To fix obvious spelling (and other) typos. This does not include informal and deliberate variations in spelling, unless the variation is highly inaccessible (l33tspeak)
  • To clear obvious coding mistakes
  • To remove leaked material so that the rest of the comment can stand (currently it generally all goes)
  • To censor comments with gross profanity etc.
All comment edits would have to be noted with an additional comment in reply to the original explaining that it has been edited. Furthermore, editing a comment would be disallowed under these situations:
  • Comment is grammatically incorrect, or has errors in capitalisation and/or punctuation
  • Comment is difficult to understand structurally
  • Comment is "too mean" and needs to be "nicer"
  • Anything else not covered by the limited scenarios where editing is expressly permitted
Deleting a comment would no longer be allowed under these situations:
  • Comment is only partially comprised of leaked material – leaked material would be edited out of it and an additional comment below posted noting the removal of the material
  • Comment contains profanity – profanity would simply be edited out/replaced with markers
  • Comment is "unreadable" according to the current policy
  • Any other situation that could be rectified through the editing actions that would be expressly permitted
And with TAD's arguments, I think the following might be a good idea too for a situation where deletion is no longer permissible:
  • Comment "may" be trolling or "may" be not making any constructive point
To illustrate these clauses, I'll use one of TAD's examples. If someone said, "hell yah catara kicks ass in the sothrn raiders", this policy would not only allow for it to be kept 100% of the time, but it would also allow for the comment to be edited to "hell yah katara kicks ass in the southern raiders". This would make it readable to everyone while minimising change. Note how the comment is not corrected beyond obvious areas where spelling may cause confusion. The meaning, the tone, and the personal style of the comment is not altered.
The second part of my proposed approach, accountability, has its foundations in liberal democratic philosophy that Americans so often allude to. (The only difference is that rollback users and admins are, of course, not the government.) No one person on this wiki can get too comfortable because they are checked and balanced out by the other components of the community. At the moment, what we have established is that, in theory, rollback users could be removed summarily. Admins can be removed after discussion. But bureaucrats who are doing the removing can in turn be removed themselves.
It's a theory that we need to put into practice more explicitly. As our admin project page shows, we've got clear policy that constrains the behaviour of admins. I think it would be helpful if we were similarly clear for rollback users and additionally explain the specific situations and circumstances under which removal can be considered. I mean, there's nothing like having institutional distrust of those who have extra privileges for preserving integrity. We already do it for admins, and as rollback users on this wiki have more privileges than those on others, we should extend the doctrine in that direction.
So there you have it – an over-long rambling which explains my ideas for solving this problem. If you were lazy sensible and didn't read of all of it, all you have to really remember is this: relax policies for anonymous and new users; meanwhile, tighten policies for rollback users and admins. The 888th Avatar (talk) 03:25, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
Even after reading TAD's rather convincing approach to the matter; I still agree with wjxhuang on the comment-editing front. All comments carry some sort of message, but tend to be marred with bad language, leaks, poor spelling, or even coding issues. Wjxhuang's example that admins and rollbacks are on a "shorter leash" than newer and unregistered contributors illustrates it perfectly – these groups should know what's at stake if they abuse their rights. Especially with the trustworthy users I've come to know here, editing comments so they'll carry an entirely different connotation isn't a likely occurrence. If they do, then they will be suspended from their rights for a while, and to me, changing someone's opinion isn't worth losing my rights for. Editing comments would allow us to preserve opinions that are blemished by the bad qualities I listed above ^^. It would make for a safer, and perhaps even more pleasant environment here. Annawantimes (Talk) 06:08, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
I'm still on board for allowing rollbacks to edit comments. However, Matey points out something I was afraid of in the beginning: the alterations and removal of "curse words". I am wholeheartedly against ever changing the word "hell" to "heck". There is absolutely no need for that as it isn't a bad word at all. If we do allow rollbacks to edit comments, it might not be such a bad idea -although I don't really known how to do it cleanly- to create a list of some sort distinguishing words that should be left alone and which can be altered. It has become clear more than once that there is a wide variety of opinions when it comes to these words, so a "common sense note" doesn't cut it. Sure, I am for keeping this wiki all-ages friendly, but seriously, we don't need to change into some hyper-sensitive place where you can't say anything anymore without having your language altered. Personally, I would be very annoyed if I see my usage of the word "hell" be changed in "heck" or "freak" or whatever. I now use "hell" as example as it was pointed out above and I have seen needless fuss about it before.
Btw, wouldn't it be better to make it policy to message the user on his/her wall directly instead of leaving a comment underneath the altered comment? That kind of strikes me as defeating the purpose of the alteration in the first place. Cause let's say we altered a comment because it had bad language and/or leaks in it, and then leave a comment saying "I've editing out the language/leaks", everyone will run toward the history of that comment and read the orinal message anyway. That's just how humans work. It would be like saying "Don't look." Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 10:23, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
I'd say that the best policy would be to message the user on their wall as well as leave a comment in reply. That way, the user is notified, and it also means others involved in the conversation/other users checking for mistakes can see the reason why action was taken. A transparency measure. The 888th Avatar (talk) 10:43, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
I'm also in favor of giving rollbacks comment-editing abilities. More often than not, comments are deleted solely because of one or two swears, or relatively incomprehensible sentence. As much as users prefer the simple approach, which is deletion, this allows comments that would otherwise be forgotten the chance to spark meaningful conversations. However, I'm still against keeping one-liners (Aang rocks!!, I can't wait!!), and explicitly irrelevant comments. Personal attacks should also be removed, no matter how subtle it is phrased. Axiovatar Talk 13:53, April 6, 2012 (UTC)

Reading the current ideas, I have, once again, decided to rewrite my idea:

I am absolutely against any curse words to be put on the pages. For one, the word "hell" is not necessarily a curse word, thus you could leave it, no matter the context. But anything and everything else should be replaced. Here is how this will work. Admins and specially chosen users who had been given the rights to edit comments will take that job (this ought to be the next level of rollback). We ought to have a quick report button for comments that will send a message directly to all admins and such users. There will be a section where you'll choose why the comment is inappropriate that will vary between the number and amount of offense of curses user (example: low, medium, high). This will not be for grammar or spelling, so I am suggesting we call it something like: "Report language." Another thing is that rollbacks can still delete very inappropriate comments, thus only non-rollbacks should be reporting a level high and possibly medium.

The job of the admins and specially chosen rollbacks is to replace the word w/ an officially chosen replacement. This means that we will need a policy key of what replaces what. The words will be censored on the key, or replaced w/ a commonly known term. Example: the "F" word = remove comment.

If one user is reported multiple times, he/she ought to be the subject of an official warning or ban. I suggest that they be verbally warned the first time they get reported, and that no more than two-three verbal warnings are offered.

Summary: Not all rollbacks should edit comments, but a few specially chosen people and the admins (possibly). There should be a fast language report button, rollbacks should still delete comments that are truly inappropriate, and people should be banned because if inappropriate language in comments. Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 14:57, April 6, 2012 (UTC)

Once again, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of telling you that you're over-complicating the solution. I'm truly sorry, but I don't believe I'll get anywhere by not being totally honest at this point. Sure, on Avatar Wiki we're supposed to keep our language reasonable, but we're not in the business of killing a fly with a sledgehammer. There's no need to add another user rights group to a hierarchy we've worked to simplify with the removal of fanon admins. There's no need to add features that would have to be inserted with substantial javascript. Remember that those of us who do have knowledge in programming are unpaid, and that we have better things to do with our life than code a sledgehammer. Let's stop dreaming up novel ways to condemn comment behaviour (we're already excessive when it comes to enforcement), and stick to solutions that will restore balance between rollback users/admins and everyone else. The 888th Avatar (talk) 16:13, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
Okay. I am just putting the "over-complicated" idea on the table for discussion. I know that there is no payment to source the wiki, and that you have better things to do, but I still think that a wiki should not allow to have vulgar comments. There are people who wish to enjoy the information on the wiki, and when they get into a conversation, they might not want to hear other people "expressing" their opinion their way. It is either editing or removing of most comments for me. The editing will have to be done by the most trusted users and admins, but, as you said, that makes it too complicated. So I am suggesting that pointless comments should not be removed, but pointless comments w/ curse words should. Example: "Aang is AWESUM and kicks a**!!" I hope that simplifies the problem on all of us here, and all those who source the wiki without any amount of payment. Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 17:26, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
You've given an example that -in the hypothesis that is should remain on the wiki- should not be altered. There is nothing wrong with saying that someone "kicks ass" or is "badass". That are common expressions. We really shouldn't be hyper-sensitive about every word.
Question to mainly 888 (since it likely involves some coding): is it possible to only allow some rollbacks to edit comments? Then maybe we could have a new page on which rollback users who feel like they want to have to responsibility to change comments, can request the rights. Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 17:50, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
Second time typing this because of a Wiki error. (ugh)
That was my old suggestion, Lady Lostris, but I think 888 made it clear enough, that he did not want to spend time coding a new user category.
Why I believe all the cursing/common expressing unacceptable? Because we ought to be the sophisticated side; not the one who teaches most children how to cuss. If we leave comments with rough language in them in the comments section, it is very similar as to having them in the article, because comments are a part of the article. They go with it, they are it.
I am always ready to got with whatever the wiki community decides. Please do not think me an irresponsible user. I am more of a fired-up and outspoken user. I will make myself clear and head, but I am always ready to go with the mass vote. Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 18:52, April 6, 2012 (UTC)

@Lostris: I'm certainly no 888, but, I don't believe it is possible to give users that are part of one user rights level more rights than others. You can create a higher user rights level, and give it the ability to edit comments, but like wjxhuang said, that does complicate things a bit. :)

@Matey: Comments certainly aren't part of an article, when an article is moved, often the comments do not go along with it, while the content of an article always does. Annawantimes (Talk) 19:07, April 6, 2012 (UTC)

Then why has 888's bot been used to move so many comments after renaming an article? Because they are a part of it. They might not be mechanically moved, but then you ought to be able to write anything you want in the comments section, if the comments are not a part of the article, since then they would have no direct connection with it. Matey Y. (wallA:TLoM) 19:10, April 6, 2012 (UTC)
Lostris: Yep, Annawan's explanation works. :)
Usually, these days if you move a page carefully with your main account (the settings on the move page are crucial to getting this right), all comments should move with it via one of Wikia's bot processes. This is easy to get wrong and is also sometimes buggy, which is why comments have been known to go missing. The 888th Avatar (talk) 01:29, April 7, 2012 (UTC)

Following my suggestion of further regulating the conduct of rollback users, here's a rough draft of that policy:


Rollback user conduct

In addition to following all relevant behavioral policies, rollback users must not:

  • Consider contributions and comments from different users to have different status. The contributions of administrators should be checked as vigorously as those of anonymous users.
  • Use their abilities to censor or otherwise unfairly inhibit reasonable discussion.
  • Misapply or selectively apply behavioral policies in their moderating role.

These guidelines are assumed to apply equally to administrators.

If it is believed privileges are being abused by a rollback user, the following process should be applied.

  1. Communication with the rollback user must be attempted. Leave a polite message for the contributor instructing them that their conduct may be harming community cohesion. If multiple attempts fail to have an impact, the user should be advised that removal of their rights may be an option.
  2. If further attempts at communication and rectification of conduct continue to fail, removal of rollback rights will be considered by an active bureaucrat. If a decision to remove rollback rights is taken, detailed reasoning must be provided on the wall of the affected user in order to satisfy a standard of accountability. One or more of the following must be shown:
    1. Sustained, deliberate misuse of the privileges given to rollback users
    2. Sustained failure to follow behavioral policies in their entirety
    3. Sustained failure to follow the conduct guidelines outlined further above

A summary removal of rollback rights does not preclude a user from reapplying for those rights later.


The 888th Avatar (talk) 07:20, April 8, 2012 (UTC)

The draft version looks good. I would bold the "not" in the first sentence, however, to clearly state that it's a list of what they are "not" supposed to do, as I easily read over it and was therefor a bit thrown off by the list :-) Since it's a regulating draft for rollback anyway, I would also include something of how they are supposed to handle spam pages and images, so basically write in that they're not meant to delete those (unless the image is clearly inappropriate. A page can always just be blanked out and replaced by the {{Delete}} template.) Lady Lostris vstf (talkHotN) 15:59, April 8, 2012 (UTC)

Bolded. :) Here's an additional section for the deletion bits:


Deletion rights

As a side effect of being able to delete comments, rollback users also have the technical ability to delete other pages as well. In addition to the expected task of deleting comments, rollback users may delete:

  • Unneeded pages from their own user space
  • Pages that are unambiguously vandalism, including images that are clearly inappropriate

Rollback must not delete pages in any other situation, even if the page should clearly be deleted under the deletion policy. Instead, the {{delete}} template should be added and action left to an administrator.


The 888th Avatar (talk) 01:19, April 9, 2012 (UTC)

Both sections look good. Something about when to use the rollback tool could be added too. Dcasawang1wall 01:32, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
Both areas look good to me ^^. Perhaps we should specify a bit on the "unambiguous vandalism" note in the article deletion rule, something like: "if the article title itself is vandalism or is inappropriate". Content can always be removed from articles, but the title cannot unless it is renamed or deleted, so allowing rollbacks to delete it in that instance may be a good idea. Annawantimes (Talk) 01:46, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
I think rollbacks should be allowed to delete non-user pages created out of error, especially for images. Rollbacks can't move/rename anything in the File namespace, so if I uploaded a file with the wrong name, it is quicker to re-upload with the right name and delete the misnamed file. My 2 cents. — Hasdi Bravo • 02:27, April 9, 2012 (UTC)

Hasdi makes a good point. But it does add to complication by trying to capture all that detail in a policy article, and should really only be considered if the image was just uploaded (by the same rollback) in my opinion. There's a quick solution to this; get it right the first time. xD

I support these policy updates at the bottom/proposed. Best I can tell; it's only clarifying the way I've been trying to handle things and updating it to the policy article, since apparently it's not up to speed. I don't see what's changing per se. Vulmen (talkEoK) 02:50, April 9, 2012 (UTC)

Oh, the policy drafts are mainly clarifications intended to provide better pinpoints for what constitutes "inappropriate" conduct for rollback users. The main change is further above: the ability for rollback users to edit comments in very limited circumstances, so that fewer are deleted. ;) The 888th Avatar (talk) 02:54, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
Ah..hm..yeah, saw that, but didn't know it was moving forward in proposal since I saw these changes here. If that's the case the policy suggestion should include this update as well. In any case, we definitely need a strict policy for editing comments...because that can open up too many doors. It doesn't even solve some of the problems of deletion, such as a comment "Katara rocks!" that would be deleted for nonconstructive discussion. The only thing editing a comment can help fix is fixing some coding goofs made by the user, or removing cuss words. And honestly; removing cuss words can end up much too ... domineering. I've seen many times people complained of curse words when the comment was just fine...but give them the power and many peoples' comments can then be changed. Vulmen (talkEoK) 02:59, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
The idea has been to compile a standard for what constitutes inappropriate language so that we have a strict standard for that. To back up these "limited" circumstances under which comments may be edited, we have the above policy drafts with clauses banning things like "Use their abilities to censor or otherwise unfairly inhibit reasonable discussion". To be honest, I don't see how giving the rollback users the ability to edit comments is any more dangerous in terms of domineering behaviour than giving anyone the ability to edit a forum discussion like this. We're very watchful and we do check each other. The 888th Avatar (talk) 03:04, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
Aye. I just hate getting into a mess when I see someone alter another users' message to mean something different by slight alterations. I'm not trying to say anyone here would do that, but that's just the irk of when someone just might and it has to be addressed. In any case, where is this definition of what "curses" are allowed to be altered? I didn't see it in this draft. IMO, the only curses to be disallowed that rollbacks should handle is if it is a direct attack against someone else; flaring anger. Otherwise if it is left ambiguous people will change whatever the (hell) they feel offends them. Vulmen (talkEoK) 03:09, April 9, 2012 (UTC)
Oh, yes it hasn't been brought up here yet – I was talking about it with Lostris on IRC. It seems that we do need a standard for what constitutes inappropriate language; our problem was where to put it. XD I think your idea is also suitable. The 888th Avatar (talk) 03:14, April 9, 2012 (UTC)

Wow, this discussion is long. I would just like to add that an "Edit" feature would be very helpful for the situations described previously. ~Mysteria Femina~ (wallGirl Genius talk) 01:13, April 10, 2012 (UTC)