Wiktionary talk:Votes/pl-2007-08/Babel userboxes

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Phrasing[edit]

The currently proposed phrasing makes it sound like Babel templates are controversial, but allowed anyway. How about something like:

==Userboxes==
Controversial userboxes are prohibited on the English Wiktionary. (This is due primarily to the considerable time and effort wasted debating them on our sister project Wikipedia.) This applies whether or not the userbox is added via a template.
That said, userboxes indicating proficiency in a language, writing system, or script transcription scheme are encouraged; the {{Babel}} template is useful for adding such userboxes to your user page.

? Also, we definitely need to edit Template:Babel; right now it says "Your Babel box is for saying what languages you know, as well as what operating system, keyboard layout, web browser, desktop environment, and text editor you are most comfortable with", which I don't think is true now, and certainly won't be true if this vote passes.

RuakhTALK 20:18, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I do like the idea of encouraging Babel since it really helps in checking that foreign-language contributors are knowledgeable enough in their edits.
"Script" to me is ambiguous. DAVilla 20:55, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I've now changed "script" to "writing system or transcription scheme"; is that better? —RuakhTALK 21:28, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I see little problem with "writing system" but "transcription scheme" is too wordy. It is supposed to be brief, because it is a non-issue. --Connel MacKenzie 22:18, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I strongly dislike the reordering, above. The tone is wrong. The general purpose for having the policy is to remind Wikipedians never to use userboxes. Over-complicating it is very good for wikilawyering, but doesn't help us. Babels are the userbox exception to the rule. It doesn't need any salesmanship; it is quite popular on its own. It should nore take the tact of suddenly, by policy, encouraging the format-destroying boxes. Why couldn't you suggest that about a month ago, when people were still moderately interested in the discussion? The changes that were proposed on WT:BP were rescinded because they just didn't help.
  • I apologize for adding the IPA thing. I thought that had consensus; apparently I was wrong.
  • --Connel MacKenzie 22:18, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, I'm not sure there's consensus to ban all userboxes besides the Babel ones. If you'd like to propose that, then we should probably split this into a "stronger language" version and a "weaker language" version, where if the former doesn't get consensus but the latter does, we go with the latter. Something like this:

Voting on: The addition of a section titled "User pages" to Wiktionary:Neutral point of view, immediately preceding the "Further reading" section. If added, the section will read either as follows (the strong version):

While it is less essential that user pages demonstrate NPOV, it is still important that user pages encourage cooperation and avoid generating controversy. Inflammatory or divisive content is not permitted on user pages.
To this end, userboxes (which have been found to generate a great deal of controversy on the English Wikipedia) are forbidden, with the sole exception of the userboxes indicating proficiency levels in various languages and writing systems. (Indeed, these userboxes are actually encouraged, and the {{Babel}} template exists to facilitate their inclusion.)

or, if that text does not achieve consensus, as follows (the weak version):

While it is less essential that user pages demonstrate NPOV, it is still important that user pages encourage cooperation and avoid generating controversy. Inflammatory or divisive content is not permitted on user pages.
To this end, userboxes (which have been found to generate a great deal of controversy on the English Wikipedia) are forbidden, except those that serve a clear purpose and are clearly relevant to the aims of the project. Currently, the only userboxes that have widespread acceptance are the userboxes indicating proficiency levels in various languages and writing systems. (Indeed, these userboxes are actually encouraged, and the {{Babel}} template exists to facilitate their inclusion.) Further, it is advisable not to place any other userboxes whatsoever on your user page, and if you do, to be prepared to justify doing so.

(Differences between the two versions are underlined.)

People could then vote "support both", "support strong version only (there's a strange problem with the weak version that wasn't noticed till after the vote was opened)", "support weak version only", "support neither", and "abstain".

Re: "The general purpose for having the policy is to remind Wikipedians never to use userboxes. Over-complicating it is very good for wikilawyering, but doesn't help us.": If there are Wikipedians who will come here, see that their favorite userboxes don't exist here, and copy them over without thinking for a second that maybe they're missing something, then, well, I rather doubt those Wikipedians will have bothered reading our version of the NPOV policy. Personally, I prefer well-articulated rules that justify themselves and explain their boundaries fairly clearly (even if the boundaries are "… except when that would be silly. Use your best judgment. If you're too much of a moron to know when that would be silly, ask someone with a positive IQ", though in that case I might prefer a different way to phrase it). I imagine that many or most wiki editors feel roughly the same, or else wikilawyering wouldn't be so prevalent. (I mean, there will always be people who try to use the letter of the law to justify blatant violations of its spirit, but anyone who's spent time here or at Wikipedia knows that most wikilawyering results from people genuinely and well-meaning-ly trying to apply a policy to a real situation, and not doing a very good job of it — usually because the policy is poorly written.)

Re: "Why couldn't you suggest that about a month ago, when people were still moderately interested in the discussion?": Heh, sorry.

RuakhTALK 00:52, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

  • I'm sorry, but don't you recall the circumstances of this becoming an issue last month? This is not an avenue for you to propose such a wild weakening of the existing practice; this is meant as a confirmation "formality" vote of how Wiktionary works (and has worked for several years.) Which is to say, no userboxes. It is a simple rule, to prevent the endless trolling on WT:BP that would otherwise result (what about this kind, what about that kind.) Seeing how far out of whack this conversation, alone, is, I rue the fact that Eclecticology didn't stick to his guns, deleting all the Babel templates as they were created. --Connel MacKenzie 03:56, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Please also note that this proposal has nothing to do with categories or wording that appear on user's pages; it is about the rectangular "userbox" things. --Connel MacKenzie 04:01, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I suggest you start a separate vote for the "weak" version, if you are so confident it reflects community consensus and will pass. --Connel MacKenzie 04:03, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Eh? I actually intended both versions to reflect existing practice: we only allow actively-helpful userboxes, and currently only Babel templates are widely accepted as helpful (though some users want even those done away with). Judging from the BP discussion, the community currently seems to be divided fairly evenly over whether any other kind of template is helpful (though given any specific other kind of template, the majority seems to oppose). So, the difference between the two versions is that the latter acknowledges the possibility of other userboxes being actively helpful, while the former does not. —RuakhTALK 04:32, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Also, if the strong version doesn't pass, then the weak version is still a strengthening of current policy: currently there's no policy against non-Babel userboxes, only a perceived norm. If the strong version fails, then obviously that norm isn't real, in that there's not actually consensus to support it. —RuakhTALK 04:40, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Wrong. Please don't be so surreal. Why would you think that all of a sudden, all Wiktionary policies are formalized? We're getting there, with baby steps like this, but not when the simplest little thing gets buried under a bunch of cruft. --Connel MacKenzie 06:44, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

That's a good call about the categories thing (I'll remove that text now), but if you don't want this section to discuss the content of user pages, then it's not really about having NPOV, but about how much you hate userboxes, and should go in its own Wiktionary:Userboxes page instead of being mixed in with something different. —RuakhTALK 04:40, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

The proposal is for a heading and two sentences. A separate page? It just needs to fit in somewhere. And it doesn't need much verbosity, no matter how much you like being verbose. It is a simple concept that should be conveyed simply. Did you read the page where that would be added? There is no need for your redundant wording. Despite your personal bias against me, please try to keep your snide comments to yourself; this vote is for the formalizing of existing practices into policy, not "how much [Connel] hate[s] userboxes." --Connel MacKenzie 06:44, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

You've not denied hating userboxes; that wasn't a snide remark showing personal bias, but a genuine comment: this isn't about NPOV. You can call it existing practice or not, but either way, it's not an existing NPOV practice, it's an entirely-its-own-thing practice. Putting it on the NPOV page encourages misinterpretation and overinterpretation, especially if it's just a two-sentence thing that gives no sort of explanation. (Incidentally, remember the discussion about "assume good faith" goes both ways — we assume newbies' good faith, they assume ours? — and the discussion about how ultimately, one has to evince good faith in order to ensure that others continue to assume it? Well, this is where they come together: If we want newbies to take our policies seriously, it's not enough to just bite newbies who don't. Our policies have to be convincing. This means giving their reasoning and acknowledging multiple viewpoints. And yes, it means being verbose. I know how much you like being curt, and maybe that's fine for a personal conversation where you can later apologize, but it doesn't work so well for a policy page.) —RuakhTALK 15:48, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. Policies should never be verbose. If it is too long to read, people will not read it. TLDR applies here, too, not just elsewhere on teh internets. This is especially true for policies where people clamor for any excuse to not follow conventions. While Wiktionary's definitions need to be brief, our policies themselves absolutely must be.
Take, for example, WT:BP. In the early days, great pains were taken to keep stuff brief. This had several benefits; archiving was not a big problem and people could keep up with the new topics as they cropped up. My (very natural) verbosity was curbed on en.wiktionary.org a long time ago. Being "curt" (bah!) is not something I do specifically to annoy you personally - it has salient relevance here to how en.wikt functions.
If we want newbies to take our policies seriously, they need to be able to grasp them all in short order. Requiring newbies to read a detailed thirty-page treatise before their first edit is not reasonable. Having them jump across several dozen pages is not reasonable either. But a mere warning about userpage content does not merit a long (nor any) explanation...just state the rule and move on. I see no reason to give this "footnote" thing its own page.
Now, worst of all, there is no reason for your rewording. What is ambiguous about "userboxes are simply prohibited"?
--Connel MacKenzie 17:58, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
It's unambiguous, but also untrue. Regarding brevity vs. verbosity: Jakob Nielsen (a widely respected, albeit also widely reviled, expert in usability, especially Web usability) recommends that in informational text, key/main statements be put in bold; we could use that to good effect here. Alternatively, we can put a brief nutshell summary at the start of the section, to the effect of "Do not put controversial content on your user page. Userboxes are prohibited except for those indicating language proficiency." —RuakhTALK 21:53, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
Could you elaborate on that a little, please? What was untrue? Am I reading your comment above correctly, when I conclude that you no longer wish for a separate page? You are suggesting a "nutshell summary" for two sentences? (Itself, consisting of two sentences?) --Connel MacKenzie 17:17, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Terminology userboxes[edit]

Can we also specify a Babel-like exception for Wiktionarians who are proficient in knowledge of a particular type of terminology? I have in mind areas such as law, math, engineering, medicine, the military, and so forth. bd2412 T 03:46, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I thought that was pretty soundly refuted on WT:BP. --Connel MacKenzie 03:50, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Actually, you were the only person to specifically object to that proposal, and I made a fair refuation of your refutation (i.e. that a speaker of any language could still be lousy at writing definitions). I am not proposing "User X is a lawyer"; I am proposing "User X is proficient in legal terminology". bd2412 T 05:24, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Would that not be something that a user could simply write on the page? DAVilla 05:06, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Sure, but what if you come across a term in a technical field, and want to find a user who has knowledge of terminology of that field? Babel boxes link to categories, which enable us to seek specialists. bd2412 T 05:24, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I'd be O.K. with such userboxes, provided they came below the language boxes and were kept separate from them (and provided that users had them in addition to language boxes and not instead of them). Actually, the same goes for writing-system userboxes. However, even if we don't allow such userboxes, there's nothing to stop users from creating this sort of category. We can even have a special category tree for this sort of thing, with Category:User en legal jargon being in Category:User en professional jargons being in Category:User en specialized terminologies being in Category:User specialized terminologies. (Or something to that effect; those might not be the best names, and the tree might not need to be so deep.) —RuakhTALK 06:01, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
One jargon category per language... that might be a bit much. And at different levels, forget it! But let's not decide the details here. The point is to say that boxes are allowed only if they are highly pertinent to Wiktionary. Legal and medical jargon, sure. But how far are you going to take this? Cricket jargon? Please... DAVilla 08:41, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
See Wikipedia's List of cricket terms. I'd say it should depend on how extensive such terminology is. I can propose a very quick and clear rule - a category and userbox should exist for specialized terminology in a particular language where multiple dictionaries dedicated to that jargon have been published in that language by different sources, or where a translation dictionary exists that is dedicated to translating that jargon from one (non-fictional) language to another. Cheers! bd2412 T 14:52, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
The point BD2412, (that I thought was quite clear on WT:BP,) is that "userboxes" are inherently self-promoting...one good contributor like BD2412 uses "Legal" and suddenly we have 10 others also using it, who aren't good contributors. And the next day, there are a dozen copycat templates. The next day, we are in the Wikipedia trap of debating each and every one. The language proficiency thing has some relevance, but topical groupings just don't. Note that this proposal does not say you can't have a sentence on your userpage that mentions you are able to help clarifying legal terminology. It also doesn't prohibit your user page from being in Category:User legalese (although Ruakh has a good suggestion, that it probably should.) There is no reason to make such a thing into a "controversial userbox" but there are reasons not to. If you (as an admin that many look up to) were to have a "topical userbox" then many newbies would follow suit. Then, we would again, have the Wikipedia mess replete with 'category:user pedophile'.
A userbox is a sort-of grass-roots advertising; using a topical userbox (instead of a language userbox) is irresponsible. Doing so encourages copycats and inflated ratings. If we had a "legal" babel, I'd probably have it on my page. Would that be helpful? Would that mistakenly imply that I am a lawyer? I am not a lawyer. Is there any way that other contributors could gauge the accuracy of such claims? We can estimate accuracy with language proficiency, by their contributions. We can (and do) use the language categories in a dictionary-writing appropriate manner. But topics? That leads to further subdivision of topics, with no discernible limit in sight. That might be useful for writing an encyclopedia (doubtful) but it doesn't help writing definitions.
The topical userboxes are themselves controversial because allowing them is a can of worms. There is no sane reason to open that can...it was welded shut long ago for good reason. It is now time to seal that can in a block of concrete and drop it in the ocean. --Connel MacKenzie 15:16, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I would support BD's proposal, as I think they would be very useful. I'm afraid that I don't understand Connel's objection. Suppose that I find a definition of a legal term (or whatever) that I find unclear. Right now, I can attempt to locate the author or go to the Tea Room (or elsewhere) and ask. When I receive an answer, I'm confronted with the question: "Is there any way that [I] could gauge the accuracy of such claims? " With a Userbox, I am given a wider group of people I can consult. Of course, I have no idea about their actual expertise, but I have this problem regardless. However, the Userbox would empower me to find a wider group of people, thus giving me a chance to verify someone's claim by getting several independent opinions. I take the proliferation of legal term "experts" to be a feature not a bug. The fact that I now have a wider net to cast gives me a wider sample, and helps to verify people's claims more easily.
Regarding the problems at Wikipedia. I was there for the Userbox wars, and while they were silly and pointless, it was not the result of userboxes per se. It was the result of an overly lenient userpage policy which allowed people to add all sorts of useless nonsense. So long as the community here keeps a clear eye on the expansion of userboxes, I don't think the war will be repeated here. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 20:32, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I wish I could share your optimism. But it really was rooted in the userboxes themselves; the proliferation of nonsense is inherently encouraged by the natural re-usability of the userboxes. It took far too long on Wikipedia to reach a breaking point. Sadly, Wikipedia took the wrong course, not addressing the root of the problem (the userboxes themselves.) Because they haven't, the problem will resurface in different forms on Wikipedia, again and again. Does a day go by on Wikipedia where there isn't a minor dispute about a particular userbox? Wouldn't that time be better spent productively? Are they useful to building an encyclopedia, or pointless vanity that consumes countless forms of WMF resources?
As far as reaching a wider audience than the tea room: I think you are mistaken. Discussions are generally centralized on en.wiktionary.org. Hunting down individual talk pages guarantees a smaller audience for the discussion. But, as I've said elsewhere, this policy isn't about preventing those categories; it is about preventing the userboxes for them. --Connel MacKenzie 18:14, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I see the distinction. A proliferation of silly categories would be just as bad in my view as a proliferation of useless userboxes (e.g. "This user likes UB40"; "This user watches That 70's Show"; "This user refuses to eat broccoli"), but if user knowledge is useful enough for us to allow a category on it, then what difference if there is a userbox as well? I spent three grueling years in law school, and have spent another two in practice, for what? So that, at the end of the day, I can properly put a name to whatever legal issue is brought before me. bd2412 T 18:38, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
The main point is that the "silly categories discussion" is a separate discussion. The broccoli category obviously doesn't have community support and wouldn't last long, no matter how you look at it. The "Legal terminology" category pretty obviously does have community support. But making it a userbox would be a horrible precedent. If we allow "legal" then we'd have to allow "broccoli" (eventually.) (Remember that we are talking about user pages here, not dictionary content.) --Connel MacKenzie 17:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
My legal training leads me to reject slippery slope arguments off hand (unless I know the judge is keen on those). Allowing "legal" (or more precisely "legal terminology") simply does not rationally suggest that we will eventually have to allow "broccoli", anymore than allowing "English" means that we will eventually have to allow "Klingon". However, I'm not married to the idea at all, I was thinking of the userbox entirely in terms of the fact that it would come with a category attached. If I can be categorized according to me knowledge of a specialized terminology, I really don't care if there's a corresponding userbox. Cheers! bd2412 T 07:16, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Did you have to mention Klingon? Will this start the fifth round of all that?  :-(   --Connel MacKenzie 04:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
The reason slippery slope arguments are falacious is because one can stop the "slippery slope" further down the slope. I think that is exactly the issue here. The argument against userboxes is that if we allow one we have to allow them all. The fact that we are now discussing a policy which would allow babel userboxes shows this claim to be (obviously) false. Alternatively one might be object that there is no way to stop the move from "legal words" userboxes to "eats broccoli" userboxes. This is also not true, since BD has suggested a policy which would exclude exactly that. Namely, that there be a topic specific dictionary relating to that word. This policy is objective (check amazon), appropriate (we are a dictionary), and prevents the slide to inappropriate userboxes. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 19:54, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining your view on the slippery slope; that is quite opposite my understanding of it. The analogy is that you try to shore something up, partway up the slope, but over time, the shoring erodes and it eventually slides all the way down, anyhow. In this case, I think it is better to use an excavator to level off the hills filling in the dip between the hills with the dirt form the top of the hills. My apologies for stretching that analogy beyond its limits. I disagree that his policy is objective: new books are constantly coming out in wider and wider variety. Why there's a published dictionary of "Urban slang" - in published form - so that would be a reasonable category? I disagree with your view that it is appropriate to replace the (very functional) Tea Room with impossible to find categories and limited discussions. And obviously I disagree with your arguments against the existing "slippery slope" condition. --Connel MacKenzie 04:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Specifying generalities[edit]

I'm not sure I can get the phrasing right since this isn't a topic I've had much experience with, but we should say something to the effect that boxes are intended for facilitating communication with other users. As worded now, Babel is the primary example. I don't know if there are any other solid examples (blindness perhaps?) but I'm hesitant to say that language is the only case where simple statements on the talk page are insufficient.

We could also make a stronger statement about the types of boxes that are not allowed, particularly those that identify qualities of a user outside of the scope of Wiktionary activities. Saying "controversial" boxes are not allowed does not help in identification. DAVilla 20:55, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

The word "controversial" is not being used as a descriptor of any individual userbox; it is a descriptor of the entire collection of usersboxes. As a whole, they are all components of a controversial entity known as "userboxes."
That said, perhaps it would be better to simply remove the word "controversial" (to um, remove some of the controversy.) The BP discussion hinted at that, but mixed too many other issues in. --Connel MacKenzie 22:26, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Done. --Connel MacKenzie 04:04, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, you've opened it up now to all boxes. Most userboxes are simply prohibited or userboxes are generally prohibited would be the reading I had understood earlier. Or maybe I see you think that all userboxes (Babel aside) are controversial. For our small community I don't see that they're necessary, but I'm not convinced that boxes of the sort BD mentions above could not be useful if users did not know each other so well. DAVilla 05:02, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Useful in what way? Promoting competition within topical categories? How does that help with writing actual definitions? Topical userboxes of any topic only lead to many more similar variants. Category:User train jargon? Didn't we delete that along with ex*c0r%t? IIRC, all discussion of that, was deleted as well. Allowing those would allow for Category:User Christianity terminology and then, to be NPOV, all other religions. That would be extremely divisive. --Connel MacKenzie 15:23, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I think I've proposed a reasonable NPOV limitation on terminology userboxes (that there be dictionaries or translation dictionaries dedicated to that terminology). If there are no dictionaries of, say, Bahai terminology, then the category would be disallowed, on completely neutral grounds. bd2412 T 16:56, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
So we'd allow Christianity but not others? Seems even more non-NPOV than I thought. Nevertheless, your suggestion is to allow userboxes for the sake of userboxes, not to help build a dictionary. Is there something I'm just not seeing here? --Connel MacKenzie 17:12, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
No, my proposal is to allow userboxes to help build a dictionary, so if you have a question about a legal term or a medical term or an engineering term, you can quickly find a user versed in the area from which the term originates (just as you would want to quickly find a Bulgarian-speaking user to verify or improve the definition of a Bulgarian term). bd2412 T 17:17, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
There is nothing to preclude people using such categories (though Ruakh suggests we also add that.) So, I'm sorry, I don't see how "userboxes for userboxes' sake" helps build a dictionary. And how do you propose to limit criteria anyhow? There aren't Christianity-terminology specific dictionaries? Wouldn't people studying homeopathic medicine be offended by a "medicine" userbox that specifically excludes their area? How would that criterion "a dictionary exists" not be divisive and counter-productive? --Connel MacKenzie 18:54, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Of course, language userboxes bear the same risk, since our choice of languages to include, of arguable language families to treat like single languages, and of names for languages is potentially quite controversial. (Our fall-back arguments are objectiveness, since we rely almost completely on an external body to select and name our languages for us, and necessity, since we have to make some decision on these anyway. I'm not sure whether or either or both of those arguments apply to terminological specialties.) —RuakhTALK 19:44, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Actually, our fall-back is ISO-639. --Connel MacKenzie 19:45, 26 August 2007 (UTC) Which is to say, if you have a problem with their terminology, press them to change it, so we can follow suit. --Connel MacKenzie 19:47, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but they don't have any policy of NPOV. —RuakhTALK 20:49, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I could see using the dictionary criteria, which shows that there is a sufficient volume of terminology. It is not POV if you consider that, while there is a lot of Christian terminology in English, in other languages different religions are treated with as much respect. The box does not say that you are a Christian, it says that you are highly familiar with that field of study. Personally I would prefer to keep crosses, the star of David, etc. out of the boxes because it may imply the first more than the latter.
On the other hand, I could just as easily go along with Connel's suggestion that these are entirely unnecessary, and that this kind of personal information could simply be spelled out on the user's page. That way it doesn't become a game. I just don't want to see User categories used if they can't be standardized. Luckily I think we're still small enough to where we can experiment with that. DAVilla 04:49, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Levels are a problem[edit]

As I have observed, and read some new user's comments (I forget where), the levels in the pedia Babel templates are not that useful anyway. They may be fine if the project is not about language, but don't work that well here. For example, I know more about the structure, scripts, etc of Japanese than a lot of native speakers, but my ability to read and write it falls short of ja-1. There are some language experts who are not only near-native speakers, but know a great deal more. Contrariwise, there are native speakers who know next to nothing about the linguistics.

I'd suggest simply doing away with Babel, as a pedia borrowing that turned out to not work so well. Users can list their abilities as they please without boxes. If we want some list of active users with ability in a given language, there are probably better ways Robert Ullmann 19:00, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, I disagree with your conclusion about how well it has worked. The "Translations To Be Checked" ({{ttbc}}) owes its moderate success to the Babel templates. But any discussion about the verifiability or accuracy of level-ratings would be a separate discussion and a separate vote. (I don't recall any events where that has been problematic, anyhow.) This particular vote is about informing newcomers not to use/import userboxes - it isn't about the Babel templates themselves. --Connel MacKenzie 17:06, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Old discussion[edit]

Per the exceptions that have been brought up, could someone pull up archived discussion on this? On Wiktionary, that is. DAVilla 04:05, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, I'm not finding much helpful stuff, only traces and cleared off comment pages, and other (almost) humorous related stuff...
Note also that {{Babel}} itself was created about a year later. I think there was a lot more conversation on the respective talk pages of the templates themselves (that were presumably deleted with the original templates?)
Note also that we don't have usable RFD archives, despite much policy talk happening there (much to Richard's chagrin.)
--Connel MacKenzie 07:32, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Ready to start[edit]

Any last minute objections? It seems like Ruakh will vote against this as it isn't his precise wording (or he will, but follow it up with separate votes of his chosen wording, or something.) BD2412 seems content with the latest version. DAVilla even, seems happy. One other user seems to still be insistent on the slippery-slope thing - I don't know how that can be addressed here. The "levels of Babels" issue clearly is a separate thing. I'm ready to remove the {{premature}} tag at this point. --Connel MacKenzie 04:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm fine with pretty much any proposal, as I'm not concerned even about experimenting with yours, but I'm surprised you haven't compromised at all on the goal. Although I haven't checked the edit history, the only change that's apparent to me is a clarification (which by my earlier interpretation of "controversial" was the exact opposite of a compromise). We keep suggesting ways to generalize, but the terms are absolute: they're "simply prohibited". Like I said, I'm fine with it, but I'm not the only one voting. You're going to need to make more exceptions or convince a few admins to remove the follwing boxes from their pages:
User:Psy guy also has a few other things on his page. Plus, you're going to have to restrict your definition of a user box to exclude those for linking to a user's page on other WikiMedia projects. Maybe a third of all admins have them. Anyways, what is your definition? What about users who put their general information in boxes, from medium size like User:EncycloPetey to the whole page for a few admins? I don't think you'd count that, but you haven't said exactly what you mean. Unlike {{userpage}} which could be placed on any page, these have information specific to a user, and in a box, so is it a user box? I can't think of a good way to write a definition that includes these, but doesn't have any loopholes at the same time. Even the box frames can be avoided while having essentially the same issue to deal with.
What is the root of your objection? That the information comes in nuggets? That it's viral socially? That it promotes individuality? My suggestion: it's okay as long as it's relevant to communication with other Wiktionarians, or if it's relevant to progress on Wiktionary, or something else where the wording isn't so absolute. But if the community agrees to stamp out even the gray area, then hey, I'll go along with it. After all, my user page is mostly blank. DAVilla 07:59, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Regarding "...but I'm surprised you haven't compromised at all on the goal" well, the point of the confirmation vote (as I see it,) is to refute Ruakh's argument that there is a gray area. In practice, these have been simply prohibited. If Ruakh is right and I am wrong, then the vote will show that...but I really don't think so. No, none of the examples you gave are examples of "userboxes" (i.e. the well-known highly-controversial Wikipedia things,) so rewording it to be more specific certainly would only cause confusion. The roots of my objections to them are: they have no redeeming qualities but have several very bad qualities. They don't promote individuality, they are viral, they have enormous potential to be disruptive and they are useless here. --Connel MacKenzie 14:30, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I can understand that view, and I (at least) am willing to make it formal. But I do want to be sure it's understood more specifically what you mean by a user box. I mean, User:Psy guy doesn't have anything you don't find objectionable? If project association etc. is allowed, then maybe we should simply say that the boxes are prohibited unless their purpose is first sanctioned by the Wiktionary community, and give Babel, project association, and universally applicable boxes like time zone etc. as three specific examples. DAVilla 15:55, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm. Looking closer at your examples, not sure how I missed them earlier, yes, Psy guy's page is problematic. Torhu's and Enginear's are borderline; converted to plaintext would be much more suitable. SemperBlotto's is not problematic; he simply has "name=userbox" errantly in his DIV. For {{currently}}, yes, that template should be "textified" or at least converted to something less "userboxy." --Connel MacKenzie 16:20, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Waaaaait a second, I thought this proposal was about banning "userboxes" meaning static templates transcluded to a user's page. If a user creates the appearance of a userbox entirely on their own page (no template, no transclusion) is that permitted? bd2412 T 16:59, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes. No. Um, dammit! DAVilla was asking for my opinion about the "root cause." The wording of this proposal, as Ruakh points out, is pointedly ambiguous. No, I'm not about to go editing Psy guy's userpage! --Connel MacKenzie 17:06, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I think DAVilla's point shows exactly why this guideline misses the boat and a different one would be more suited. We adopt a policy to prevent the fractionalization of the community and to prevent conflict over the appropriateness of content on userpages, and we end up debating what counts as a "box". Instead, why don't we adopt a policy that prohibits any content on a userpage which doesn't contribute to the goal of writing a dictionary (with perhaps a few exceptions)? This prevents all the userboxes Connel wants to prohibit and also prohibits people from adding, in plain text, "this user hates GW Bush" to their userpage as well (something not prohibited by this policy, but equally likely to cause conflict). But anyway... these are more serious issues that should probably not prevent us from going ahead with the vote. The policy I'm suggesting is not a rewording of this one, and so my suggestion should prevent this vote from going ahead. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 17:42, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
My understanding was that they could not even be substituted. I think I remember having read that somewhere. Regardless, it's a good clarification to put in. DAVilla 18:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I do, however, like the idea of being able to have a "time zone" box and an "admin" box because the first indicates what time you'd be likely to find me and the second indicates that I can answer questions on policy. I do not think that either "IP Address" or "Working on..." requires anything of the sort. bd2412 T 20:12, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
<another two cents> I think that represents perfectly, why a blanket prohibition works better! You think {{user-legal}} is OK, but not others. Others think {{currently}} is OK, but not 'legalese.' If everyone is told up-front to do that @#$% as bulleted text item listing, or other plain text with or without a category, the problem is averted. --Connel MacKenzie 20:37, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I probably will vote against this, but not because "it isn't [my] precise wording" — I'm very flexible on the wording — but because I think it has serious problems; not least, the fact that the way I interpret it is completely different from the way you appear to mean it, which probably means you'll be blocking newcomers who have the misfortune to interpret it the way I do. (To me, "The only general exception (allowed without question) are {{Babel}} templates […]" means that there's only one general exception, but that there may be other specific exceptions. The "allowed without question" further implies that other userboxes might be iffy-but-allowed.) Also, because of the proposed placement on the NPOV page, when by all appearances it has nothing to do with NPOV. —RuakhTALK 16:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
But that wording is what allows future clarification votes for things like the exceptions DAVilla pointed out! --Connel MacKenzie 16:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
But if we're to disallow (for the moment) any other userboxes, then we don't need that wording: any vote that makes a further exception would specify the corresponding adjustment to the text. If we're to be ambiguous on allowing other userboxes, then I've seriously misunderstood your stance here. In particular, it seems that your stance exactly matches the "weak version" above, which you so lambasted. —RuakhTALK 17:08, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I think we should just admit that there are exceptions and start collecting them. It's okay with me to be heavy-handed about this and say that exceptions must be approved first, either tenuously—on a trial basis, when permission is sought and there are no objections from any admin—or formally through vote. We're not going to avoid discussion of the issue completely, but we can limit it to what's most pertinent to the needs of the project. DAVilla 18:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
And what existing policy page would it be better suited on? We don't have Wiktionary:Disruption. Furthermore, no, it is not an excuse to block; it is a provides a method to start a discussion: "The userbox you had on your page had been removed, as per WT:NPOV#Userboxes. Please do not re-add it." That is pretty much the opposite of a preemptive block (like the one that started all of this.) --Connel MacKenzie 16:57, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, we have Wiktionary:Using templates. Alternatively, we could start Wiktionary:Usernames and user pages — we need it anyway, because our current username policy is self-contradictory (imposing various rules and saying to see the Wikipedia page for details, when in fact Wikipedia does not impose all those rules). —RuakhTALK 17:08, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Vote postponed for a couple days. IMHO, this sets a very bad precedent, that since only those opposed to the vote commented, it essentially endorses an unhelpful delay.

Ruakh's latest suggestion again would enormously widen the scope of this vote. Now, instead of just "userboxes", we should roll-in all (potentially much more) controversial issues like username punctuation. And add another policy page. (I think I've expressed earlier how evil I view that.) Ruakh still seems to maintain that overly-verbose wording (legalese) should be preferred, and that exceptions must be addressed on the first pass. BD2412 and DAVilla are in direct opposition in their interpretation of what a "userbox" is...BD2412 taking my interpretation, DAVilla helpfully trying to close a loophole. I'm not sure why Kzollman says above that his objection should halt the vote; the issues he listed were indirect or not affecting the vote. (Perhaps he typo'd, missing "not"?)

You all are driving me nuts here. Congratulations. It is a simple, two sentence addition that clarifies policy beyond any doubt to newcomers, while allowing some elbow room for minor changes in the future, without the distracting itemizing of trivial exceptions.

I suppose the lesson to be learned, if any, is that gang mentality can be used in this context, to prevent reasonable, sane policy clarifications (which shouldn't be needed anyhow...someone wants to add a userbox here? Fine. Indef block, delete userpage and userboxes.)

--Connel MacKenzie 19:04, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

OOPS! That was a very unfortunate typo. I meant to say my objections should NOT halt the vote. My apologies. --best, kevin [kzollman][talk] 19:45, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Apology accepted; I'm glad I presumed it was a typo! --Connel MacKenzie 20:32, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Heh, sorry. Firstly, I didn't mean to suggest that this vote needs to propose full text for Wiktionary:Usernames and user pages; just that this section should go on such a page (with additional text being added later by other votes). Secondly, I'm really not insisting on verbosity/legalese; I prefer it, but can live without. If you prefer brevity, I'd be fine with something that's as short as your version, but clearer — say, this:
==Userboxes==
Language-proficiency userboxes are encouraged, and may be added easily using {{Babel}}.
All other userboxes are currently forbidden (though specific exceptions may be made, after discussion).
(Or with some variant of that parenthetical note; I'm not sure what exactly it is that you want, which makes it hard for me to write a clearer version of it.)
RuakhTALK 19:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Fine. Please make that change. I need to cool off from this for a day myself, now. Creating that first draft of Wiktionary:Usernames and user pages, I'm left wondering how to represent the "in a nutshell" comments. Perhaps with something that looks like a userbox?  :-)   --Connel MacKenzie 20:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Waivers requested[edit]

This user edits pages written in unfamiliar languages[edit]

  1. Deals with language. Should qualify under plain wording of the statute.
  2. Useful for searching for people with this skill. Useful to swap tips. (A little slow understanding why? Read the first 2-paragraph subsection on the documentation page here.)

This user will consider formatting and adding English grammar and category info for foreign language entries by users who have trouble entering it themselves[edit]

Come on folks. Do I really need to explain why that's useful? I'm sick and tired looking up the profiles of some users entering some of the best entries on this project, only to find they got no thanks, and were literally nagged and hounded off this project within days of joining, because of minor deficiencies in their entries. In some cases the user had already posted that s/he was incompetent to enter the missing information. (Does it really never occur to people here that non-native speakers might not know the difference between an adverb and a conjunction in English? Some English speakers don't even know. Sjeez.)

Love, Snake Stubborn 2008-04-13 T 06:34 UTC

Seem fine to me, although then again a category would probably be sufficient. -- Visviva 06:46, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Hi, Visviva. A category was actually going to be my next step, at least for the second one. But I thought that would be a harder sell. Snakesteuben 06:51, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
I would be against this, personally. While I can see the merits of such userboxes, I'm just really opposed to userboxes in general. They stink of all the things wrong with the 'pedia. At least at this point, I still consider us a small enough community that most of these things can be found out simply by watching discussion pages and asking around. Also, this convo would probably be better placed at the BP. I think few are going to see it here (I certainly would not have, had I not seen the link on Conrad's talk page). -Atelaes λάλει ἐμοί 07:31, 13 April 2008 (UTC)