Semi Protection

UESPWiki:Archive/CP Curing Stupidity

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This is an archive of past UESPWiki:Community Portal discussions. Do not edit the contents of this page, except for maintenance such as updating links.
There have been related discussions on individual article talk pages, e.g.:

October 2006: General Issues

Now that I have your attention, I need to be frank with you all and address a serious problem that is jeopardizing the foundation of the wiki. What I'm about to say may sound a bit trollish, (and perhaps it is) but it's in good faith and it's very serious that we fix this problem as soon as possible.

To put the problem simply, a good majority of the edits on this site lately have been stupid. The contributions have been in bad faith because they are only posted to selfishly illustrate a situation that the editor has been in while playing one of the games. These are frequently written in first person, cannot be converted understandably in second or third person, have poor grammar and spelling, use slang terms and even l33t sp33k, and have no regard to the policies and guidelines that we set. These types of edits have been made all over the site, but are most prominent on the "Notes" and "Bugs" sections of the site and on the Oblivion:Glitches page. (The term "when I" was found 12 times on the Oblivion:Glitches page!)

Of course, it's hard to define the difference between a stupid edit and a good edit, and a stupid edit may not be on par with the description above. However, any sensible editor should be able to tell the difference between the two. This is why I propose that we launch a counter attack to drive the daedra out of Kvatch clean the stupidity off of our wiki by either reverting any stupid edits or by removing the stupidity on sight. I base my proposal on a quote by Albert Einstein that states: "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." Trying to replace everything stupid on the site with something helpful has been exhausting all of us. The stupid edits seem to come in without stopping, turning high quality pages into pages needing cleanup in a very short amount of time. Therefore, we need to be relentless as well and not let stupidity overtake the good that is UESP.

My only request is for you all to use common sense when participating in this project. This challenge will test us as a team and as a community, but if we succeed we will be stronger because of it. I would be overjoyed to hear some new proposals that will help this campaign work for the best. As always, feedback is crucial, especially when attempting to cure an incurable disease. ;) --Aristeo | Talk 23:08, 18 October 2006 (EDT)

I agree that there has been a massive influx of unhelpful editing. IMHO, this has a direct correlation to edits being able to be made without logging in. While there were good arguments for allowing anonymous editing, I think that considering the pros and cons, it is clearly a lot more unhelpful than helpful. If anyone has anything worthwhile to add, they will take the time to register and login.
My suggestion to assist against the unhelpful editing is to require logins once more. Then there should be fewer stupid edits and the red usernames in Recent Changes gives some hint as to that edit having a higher likelihood of being stupid. --Actreal 17:13, 19 October 2006 (EDT)
Is there some way to implement a ranking system like TESForums has? Give stars out at 50, 100, 250, 500, & 1000 posts or something, and have those stars appear next to the username in the Recent Changes? (Or maybe color-coding of some sort - anything.) That would be a way to quickly weed out the casual newbies from the experienced editors. Generally anyone with greater than 100 posts or so is generally pretty helpful, while most of the "stupid" posts are from people with much lower post-counts. Using red-links for people with no usernames isn't fool-proof, since it's pretty easy to just make something simple for a userpage, which instantly gives you a blue-link. (And vandals who know what they're doing, like that NepheIe-impersonator, will create a user-page early on specifically for this reason.) But you can't fake post-count. That would be a dead-giveaway in a case like that. --TheRealLurlock 17:26, 19 October 2006 (EDT)
Actreal: I've been patrolling the recent changes, and since anonymous editing has been enabled, there have been fewer stupid edits. I agree that a good number of anonymous edits have needed to be removed, but I'm taking what you viewed as a negative and turning it into a positive: Stupid edits are now quasi-exclusive to IP edits, so they are 10 times easier to find and revert. Before anonymous editing, I think people just created an account they they did not intend on reusing just to have registered user status, so disabling anonymous editing will harm us.
Lurlock: We already have a ranking system. :) Every user on the wiki is ranked by the recent changes as follows:
  • Anonymous editors usually want to fix minor things on the wiki. Although these users have the highest percentage of useless edits, they are vital in helping us fix typos and grammatical errors. Anonymous editors cannot move pages, edit semi-protected pages, or upload files. These users show up as IP addresses on the recent changes list.
  • Editors without user pages are new users who have signed up for an account, but may still not know the rules of our wiki. They generally want to help, but may not know how. These users can do the things that anonymous users can't, but they still cannot edit semi-protected pages for 96 hours. These users show up with a red name on the recent changes list.
  • Editors with user pages tend to be slightly more experienced. They can edit semi-protected pages and they know more about wiki markup. This is the highest rank that a stupid edit will occur at, even though it's considerably rarer compared to the previous two. These users who up with a red name on the recent changes list.
  • Trusted editors are editors that you are familiar with and that you know will not make a stupid edit. They might make an occasional mistake every once in a while, but they are trusted members of the community that have proven to know the rules of the wiki well enough to not do anything "stupid".
  • Exempt editors are editors who use their ability to automatically patrol their own edits. Daveh, Nephele, and myself are the only people that I know that use this ability.
Of course, there are exceptions to this list. The best known example is when DrPhoton did not make a user page for about a year and appeared to be in the "editors without user pages" rank, when he clearly was in the "trusted editor" rank.
In conclusion, I want to stress how much I like anonymous editing. I feel it's a win-win situation. Casual editors don't have to sign up to edit, and we get to closely look at editors who go this route. We can always place something under semi-protection if it becomes too much of a newbie magnet (like Oblivion:Glitches). I'm sure that anonymous editing will work and things will be better with it. --Aristeo | Talk 19:26, 19 October 2006 (EDT)
The problem is that between "Anonymous" and "Editors with user pages", the rank of "Editor without user page" is virtually meaningless. Anyone can create a simple user page in 5 minutes, and in fact, when you created an account, the first thing it asks you to do is create a user page, though of course not all people do. Many experienced editors (e.g.: DrPhoton) have no user pages for a while, and many new editors (e.g.:NepheIe impersonator) do. (I've also seen some people just go to YOUR user page, copy the formatting and change the text, and some of these people - I won't name names, but you know who I'm talking about - are the most guilty of some of the largest quantity of stupid edits.) I think a ranking system that actually is based on post-count would be much more reliable, as you're much more likely to watch out for edits made by people with only a few edits than those made by experienced editors. (And I'm not talking thousands like you or me, I think anyone with about 150+ edits has pretty much got the basic site policies down by now.) --TheRealLurlock 20:21, 19 October 2006 (EDT)
Ranking editors by their edits is very unwiki like. Why is the active users page not enough, and why do we need to group editors by their number of edits in order to separate newcomers from the experienced? The system I introduced, although it is far from perfect, works reasonably well when monitoring the recent changes page and a page history. I can't speak for everyone else, but I'm pretty familiar with the people who are doing good on the wiki versus the people who are doing bad. --Aristeo | Talk 20:53, 19 October 2006 (EDT)
I'm flattered that you think of me as a trusted editor. Thanks! And since you have talked about me, I'll give also my point of view:
I think both approaches have their problems. I agree with Lurlock in that many experienced editors don't have user pages for a while (I accept my part of responsibility), while many new editors have them straight away. On the other hand, an edit count can be very easy to increase by taking a page with tables and editing the color of each of the cells in a separate edit, for example. So I think the best solution would be a system like that seen in forums, where administrators could give stars (or shileds, or swords, or helmets, for example) to those experienced users, which will appear everywhere next to the username. --DrPhoton 03:46, 20 October 2006 (EDT)

In my opinion, the focus on trying to classify editors only serves to stigmatize editors by in effect labelling them as "likely to create stupid edits". While I may personally have a mental list of such people, I have no desire to have to publicly categorize them and tell them that I think their past edits have been stupid. And I don't think that knowing whose edits need to be patrolled is our problem. In whatever way, everyone who spends time patrolling recent edits has their ideas of which edits need to be double checked. I also don't think that anonymous editing is the fundamental problem.

Instead, the problem that I've been having lately with "stupid" edits is knowing what to do with them. In several recent events I have been told overwhelming by other editors that content is the top priority: if there is any snippet of new information in a new edit, the material should stay. And also in turn that preserving new information is much more important than maintaining any type of standards for the format of new content.

And, no, I'm not trying to imply that I don't like what has happened with Console Command Tutorial; substantial work has been done there to integrate the page with the rest of the wiki. Instead, what I don't understand is why no one else has any complaints about pages like Swordplay and the "Great Guide" added to Marksman. Why have I had to spend so much time defending the fact that I think there should be some style standards applied to those pages?

If everyone else believes that preserving information is the single top priority when reviewing new edits, then I am at a complete loss to know what to do with the various stupid edits that are made. Many first-person stories do in fact have a bit of useful information embedded within them; by the same standards being applied to the above-mentioned pages, these snippets should not be deleted. But as just one editor, I definitely can't spend the time single-handedly cleaning them all up. So the only option I feel left with is just ignoring them and letting them all proliferate.

And I personally think that ignoring stupid edits is the single worst thing to do. Leaving bad examples scattered across the wiki pages just encourages other editors to copy those bad examples. My classic example of this is the Sanguine page which at one point was attracting a never-ending stream of first-person stories on how to escape the castle and on how to leave the countess permanently naked. Since I cleaned up the page in July, there have been no more such additions. Therefore I conclude that it's not that our editors have an overwhelming need to add these stories, it's just that if they see that someone else has been allowed to include a story, then they want to share theirs, too.

Therefore, I believe that the most important thing to do is to clean up entries that do not meet the wiki standards. However, that is not logistically feasible at this point if everyone else thinks that the most important thing to do is to preserve every bit of new information. Given that this quandary has just left me increasing frustrated over the last while, I've given up on dealing with it and stopped even trying to patrol recent edits. I'd welcome a resolution to this problem, but I don't see one at the moment. --Nephele 14:53, 24 October 2006 (EDT)

I would characterize the distinction that Nephele is drawing as that between an article and an info dump. Info dumps (e.g., "I went here and such and such happened") can indeed be useful, but they are not articles. And what we should have here are articles, not info dumps. The problem with info dumps is that they tend to expand indefinitely in a stream collective consciousness, and before too long you have a garbage dump. Therefore, we should not allow info dumps. I.e., any info dumps can/should be summarily discarded. If that's a correct reading of Nephele's position, that sounds reasonable to me.
To qualify that very slightly... When Dave, I and a couple others were hashing out the TES4 mod file format, we each ended up writing our own set of temporary pages for info dumps of our experiments/progress. However, these were done as explicitly temporary areas, and were later cleaned up and integrated into regular articles. Such temporary info dumps by active authors seem fine to me, but they should be clearly marked, and are expected to be deleted before too long. (Mechanical note: We set the pages up as subpages and clearly marked them as temporary working areas.)
Back to main point... Barring good counter argument, I support summary deletion of info dump material. --Wrye 22:19, 24 October 2006 (EDT)
Granted, I may be new here, but I think I have a good compromise. It's something I'm doing already, in fact. As you said, info dumps can sometimes contain useful information, but go outside the modern standards. Surely it couldn't be too hard to modify that information into something that meets the standards, can it? If the information is verifiably true, relevant, and significant enough to warrant a place in the article, just rewrite the info dump into something acceptable. Organous 09:31, 4 November 2006 (EST)
Rewriting is generally the best long term answer. The problem is that it isn't always feasible to immediately rewrite the content. Right now, for example, I'm going through and patrolling the 50+ edits that were made just while I was sleeping. If someone had just added a large chunk of poorly written content, I don't have the time right now to stop and rewrite it. Also as one of the people who goes through and patrols all the new edits made (in particular to immediately clean up any vandalism), if I stop to clean up every bit of new content I see, I'll spend many hours every day doing just that. Frankly, there are other things I'd rather be doing than constantly cleaning up after people who didn't care enough to try to write the material properly in the first place. So, besides trying to prevent these poor contributions in the first place, the issue is really how to have a system that allows some of these problems to be quickly identified (so that other editors can later come along and do any necessary rewriting), but in the meantime prevents the wiki pages from getting cluttered up with substandard content. --Nephele 12:05, 4 November 2006 (EST)
Unfortunatly, there is so much to rewrite, that it is practicly impossible. Patroling the recent changes helps, but the main problem is that 80% or so of our users are 14-year-old kids playing Oblivion who have no respect for wiki ettiquite or the laws of grammer. (And I am among the 14-year-old Oblivion player stereotype). Most of them write in leet or first person, and none of them read the help and guidelines before editing. That can be a problem with a wiki. However, this is a spectacular wiki, and some enforcement is nessicary. I say we actually award people with Aristeo's "Trusted Editor" status. Of course, I am not sure what one could do with said status: perhaps a semi-semi-protected page that only Trusted Editors can edit, or maybe a daily edit cap on non-trusted users? Yet, both of these seem extremist. Maybe just some icon that shows it in Recent Changes, and a sort feature, so that it is eaiser to patrol Recent Changes (sort out the Trusted Users + Admins, since they are less likely to make mistakes). --Dylnuge(talk · edits) 23:51, 20 November 2006 (EST)
Regarding the article vs info dump, I've always been under the impression that the Discussion pages on Wiki sites was for things like info dumping (kind of discussing the topic), and that the articles were strictly well formatted. Since rewriting takes too long, shouldn't the answer to this be to cut the info dumping out of the article and pasting it into the discussion page, and then maybe putting a tag on the article to say that there might be useful stuff in the discussion page and please somebody who has time go sort it out for us? Then any article tagged thus would be an article requiring attention, and serious editors will know about it. When enough of these tags are around then the editors who used to info dump will learn to put it in the discussion page instead and keep the articles clean.
(First time editing anything on this site. Hope the suggestion helps. Great site, keep it up.) --Sckchui 03:35, 26 November 2006 (EST)

I think that the ranking editor system would work, but, if we use this standard alone, we could become biased against certain users because of the quality of past edits, even if new ones are becoming better. The problem with the system of ranking editors is, as I'm sure someone has said before, that soem users who may have valuable input on something will be discounted because they've never been to the site before. We should also judge the eidt itself. Bad edits are usually a) rife with bad grammer and spelling, b) unintelligible, c) insolently incorrect, or d) any combination of the above. But good edits contain valuable information that can be understood easily. This is basically restating the obvious, that we should judge people by the quality of their edits as more than their history, but I just wanted to stay away from discluding users due to history.

If an edit may seem bad due to horrible grammer or spelling, but can be understood at least partially, I would suggest that we clean up its grammer and spelling while keeping its meaning intact. The same would go for insolent edits. --Twentyfists 10:26, 24 February 2008 (EST) Moved from Community Portal --Wrye 22:42, 19 December 2006 (EST)

February 2007: Morrowind:Hints

This page is really starting to bug me, due to:

  • First person writing
  • Repeated explanations/directions (eg. Creeper, Drunken Mudcrab, artifacts)
  • XBox GOTY "specifics" which may or may not be applicable to Vanilla/Patched/Tribunal/Bloodmoon PC versions
    • Additionally, bug exploits fixed in patches
  • Stupid console commands ("you can use X console command to give yourself Y" - if you use the console, why not go the whole hog and beat the game with the relevant Journal entry that way?)
  • General poor grammar

So. Short of "nuke from orbit", any suggestions? I see that there's been some recent cleanup, but I'm not sure what should be done about the mess in general... Alphax 21:56, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Morrowind:Hints has a lot of useful info, so there's absolutely no reason to delete it. If you see other problem areas, feel free to clean up grammar, etc. Keep in mind that for a hint page like this, second person is probably quite natural. Also, keep in mind, Different strokes for different folks! -- material that you find useless may be quite useful to someone else. For some guidance on XBox/PC specific handling, see Oblivion:Gripes. However, further discussion of the page should be on the talk page for the page. If there's an irresolvable conflict there, then come back here for help. --Wrye 22:59, 21 February 2007 (EST)
Yeah, this is one of those pages that just attracts stupidity like a magnet. I stumbled across one innaccuracy on it and fixed it, but then I took a look at the rest of the page and just got depressed. If you feel like doing some major cleanup there, it would definitely be appreciated. I'm not against the "nuke from orbit" plan myself, to be honest, but what can you do? Maybe start with some clearly defined criteria for what qualifies. For example:
  • Console command stuff can probably be gotten rid of completely.
  • Any hints that are quest specific should be moved to the relevant quest page if they're not there already.
  • Anything duplicated should be removed. (References to Creeper and Mudcrab are mixed in with many other entries, but neither of them has their own entry - they probably should, so that you can then remove all other references to them.)
  • Glitches, even beneficial ones, should be removed - they belong on Morrowind:Glitches. (Another page that has been a stupidity magnet in the past.)
That should give you a start on just getting rid of stuff. After that, you can start cleaning up spelling/grammar and 1st person stuff on what's left. I might pop in and help a little bit, but I've got about a thousand other things I'm doing at once already, so I can't be spending too much time on this. By the way, it might make sense to move this discussion to Morrowind talk:Hints, or at least reference it from there. --TheRealLurlock Talk 23:09, 21 February 2007 (EST)

I used a variant of the "nuke from orbit" concept on Oblivion:Glitches, which improved the page a lot. Unfortunately, I was unable to give the page the attention it deserved, so there may still be some traces of stupidity left or sections that read as if a 6th grader wrote them.
Since people seem to have an overwhelming desire to post something on the Glitches page, I put semi-protection on the page so that only established regular users can edit it, and then I basically blanked the page. Then, I added the Oblivion:Glitches/Proposed page so that people could satisfy their glitch-adding urges without making a mess of the main article. A establish user can go to that proposal page, tidy up or remove sections, and move the final products over to the main article.
And there you go – problem solved, or. Unfortunately, at the present time there are rules against doing what I did without first seeking total support, and you will need to be avaliable and possibly persuade someone to help monitor the proposal page.
If your feeling bold enough, I would support anything you can think of to help improve Morrowind:Hints and pages like it. --Aristeo | Talk 03:45, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Well, I'm around doing what I can on the first person issue...Someone want to define "nuke from orbit" for me? If you mean deleting most of it and starting over, I agree entirely. Somercy 12:36, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Actually, I don't feel that deleting everything and restarting with an empty page (a.k.a., "nuke from orbit" approach) has been at all successful, at least not without a lot more followthrough than was done with Oblivion:Glitches. I would prefer to not see that approach taken with other wiki pages, especially if they are ones that contain any content that some readers are likely to find useful.
Yes, the blanking of Glitches left a nice-looking, well-formatted page, but it also left an empty page. One of the guiding principles of this wiki is Content Over Style, in other words the primary goal of the site is to provide readers with information; information should not be removed just to make a page look pretty. While there may have been some silly contributions on the Glitches page, there were also many contributions that provided useful information. Many of those contributions were cross-linked from other pages. There have been several complaints from readers who were redirected to the glitches page looking for more information about an interesting or important glitch, just to find absolutely nothing about it on the page. The indiscriminate blanking of the page removed also many contributions that were already properly formatted, well-written, and otherwise conformed to the style guidelines.
Furthermore, the Oblivion:Glitches/Proposed page is, in my opinion, less successful than suggested by Aristeo; I do not think it should be copied elsewhere without more discussion of how such a page is supposed to work. No clear guidelines were given on how to deal with entries added to the proposed page. Should entries that don't meet the guidelines just be deleted on sight? I generally don't feel comfortable with that type of approach, because that means that the only way to justify the deletion is in the edit summary. Often a more detailed explanation is warranted, or else a discussion is needed before determining that the glitch is redundant or otherwise inappropriate. What should be done with an entry that has merit but needs to be cleaned up or moved elsewhere? As it stands experienced editors don't know what to do with that page, so entries have just been building up. The problem hasn't been solved, it's just been moved from one page (Oblivion:Glitches) to another (Oblivion:Glitches/Proposed). In some ways, the problem has been made worse: there are now three different places (including Oblivion_Talk:Glitches) to post new entries, all of which are being used without any real organizational system.
In other words, I would only support cleaning up other pages if is done in a more thought-out manner than simply blanking the page and starting over again. Existing entries should be individually evaluated to determine whether they provide meaningful information. Entries that provide useful content but are poorly written can be flagged in some way, or even moved to a "cleanup" subpage, but should not just be deleted entirely because they are poorly formatted. Yes, this is harder and takes more effort and long-term commitment than just wiping everything out. But it's also the only way to ultimately have a page that provides the content that readers are looking for.
I also believe that having a comprehensive, well-organized, and properly formatted page is one of the best long-term ways to fix the underlying problem. Editors add to pages when it's clear that information is missing; create an empty Hints page and people will just fill it up with new hints. Many new editors add to Hints-like pages based on example: they see what others have already added to the page, so they provide more entries with the same type of content, format, and style. Once it's clear that a page isn't maintained, it's impossible for patrollers to clean up new entries that get added, because they can't even tell whether information is new or repeated, and don't want to single out a new entry for criticism when it's no worse than the rest of the page.
Although to some extent this discussion may be more appropriate at Morrowind talk:Hints, on the other hand the more general question of what to do with pages that contain a lot of "stupidity" and/or poorly formatted entries is something that probably does need to be discussed by the community as a whole. I definitely don't like how pages such as Morrowind:Hints lower the overall quality of the wiki, especially given that some of those pages are often among the first pages read by new readers. I'm sure many readers are left with a poor overall impression of the site because of such pages. But in our zealousness to sanitize the site we should not overlook key principles of the site such as Perfection Isn't Required and Content Over Style. --Nephele 13:07, 22 February 2007 (EST)

You know, if we spent less time jawing, and more time cleaning, we'd get that page spotless in no time, and get to go to the movies...Somercy 13:10, 22 February 2007 (EST)

I'll do it. --Ratwar 14:33, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Our newest janitor comes to the rescue! Thanks, Ratwar! Good to know at least one of the admins hasn't caught the talk-everything-to-death bug :) --Nephele 16:29, 22 February 2007 (EST)
haha :P --Aristeo | Talk 16:34, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Several points:

  • While Somercy give me credit for being well spoken, I invariable have to take my hat off to Nephele. Believe me, I'm not the sort of guy who likes saying simply, "Yes, you're absolutely right." However, Nephele's posts often leave me with no other recourse. (Annoying, really.) So, Nephele, Yes. You're absolutely right!
  • We should always keep in mind that UESP is first and foremost a practical guide for folks. And being a practical guide, having right and useful information is more important than looking pretty. These guidelines (Perfection Isn't Required and Content Over Style) and both important statements of basic UESP policy.
  • Nephele's criticism of Aristeo's blanking of the Glitches Page is also 100% on the money. If a non-administrator had done that, I would have considered it to be simple vandalism. (It was this sort of action that led to the recent, prolonged, and painful Principles Controversy, and to Aristeo's subsequent (semi) departure to start the Wikiscrolls Project, where presumably "nuking from orbit" will be a standard, approved of, practice.)

Back on topic a little more...

  • Cleanup of pages, if well done, seem to be fairly well respected. If there's a good example, even new editors will usually follow it. Yes, cleanup will invariably be necessary (and the semi-protection was a good idea, I think), my experience with recent reformatting of Oblivion:Gripes bears this out -- newer editors are sticking with the new format.
  • Another general rule to consider is "If it's not your eye that's offending you, don't pluck it out!" The owner of that eye may not appreciate the action. E.g., I generally watch the Tes3Mod and Tes4Mod spaces, but one of the most active pages Tes4Mod:Mod Ideas is a bit of a zoo. But I don't use the page -- which makes me a poor person to do a cleanup on it. Part of the idea of a wiki is that usually the best people to edit a given page are the people who are most interested in it. So if you don't use it and others do -- consider that they probably are happy enough with the result.

See? I probably could have just stuck with, Nephele, Yes. You're absolutely right! That would have been so much simpler. --Wrye 23:57, 23 February 2007 (EST)

The big problem I discovered with the process of "Cleaning" pages, is that often other pages link to information that is there. I found around six pages that had incomplete information about the Serpents wake, all linking to the Oblivion Glitch's page for the full explanation. However when I went to the glitches page, no information about the Serpents Wake at all. I then had to trawl back through the pages history to find that it had been deleted in a pretty much untitled edit for no apparent reason. Resulting in several pages being reduced to making no sense at all. This is clearly undesirable. Jadrax 13:03, 24 February 2007 (EST)

Moved from Community Portal --Nephele 02:42, 25 February 2007 (EST)

Hey, if you think Tips is bad, come try and help me with this! First person, badly formatted...It almost makes Tips look good! Somercy 10:31, 27 February 2007 (EST)

It is done. --Ratwar 01:18, 2 March 2007 (EST)

July 2007: Improving our Worst Pages

Most of the pages on this site are fairly well-written, well-spelled and well-researched. This is the natural result of helpful editors writing articles backed up by the patrollers (both official and unofficial) correcting the more obvious mistakes. There are a few pages, though, that are... well... rubbish. They have grown in an unplanned, organic fashion and are now almost impossible to maintain. The most obvious examples are:

  • Custom Classes
    This is largely a list of "My Cool Character" ideas, many of which simply list combinations of skills. Some of these represent useful characters of value to a new player, but most do not.
  • Roleplaying
    Most of the ideas on here are staggeringly obvious. Many of them don't give any detail and many are full of the most obvious ideas imaginable (Buy A House, for instance).
  • Glitches
    Despite Nephele's best efforts this remains a mish-mash. Some people add glitches without checking if they're already present, others post things without reading the instructions so console-related problems get added to the list.
  • Oblivion:Things to Do When You're Bored|Things to Do When You're Bored
    Frankly, the only option on here should be "Turn of your computer and read a book", but there's an awful lot of rubbish on here even so.
  • Useful Potions
  • Useful Enchantments
  • Useful Spells
    All three of these pages feature obvious information of no value to other players.

As one well-placed editor recently put it, there's a policy of "benign neglect" on these pages because most of the time the response of a patroller would have to be either a revert or a total rewrite. The solution suggested in one case was to summarily delete the page, which would be my personal favorite solution if it wasn't for the thousands of hits received by the page in question. Of course, this means the problem is only going to get worse. Occasionally there's an attempt to clear up one of the pages (this is my most recent effort) but the general trend in quality is downwards.

In other words, these pages are ones where the usual Consensus-building mechanisms don't work. So my suggestion involves a major shift in the way these pages (and possibly others) are edited and administered. The first step would be to install a voting add-on to the wiki software. Full protection would be applied to the pages in question so only administrators could edit them. The existing items on the page would be split up into sub pages and a vote started on each - Yes or No to the question "Should this go on the page?". After two weeks, pages with a score of 50% or more go on the page, pages with less than 50% get deleted. Now there are some obvious problems here. First, we'd need to find a voting add-on! I've taken a brief look and couldn't spot anything obvious but I'm sure there's something out there. Second, it's going to take a lot of effort to set up. Third, it's a huge departure from standard wiki-editing. None of those strike me an insurmountable obstacles, however.

The purpose of my posting this here is to begin a debate on possible solutions to the problems of bad pages. The mechanism I've described would be one way but I'm sure there are others. Please feel free to add your own ideas or even just flame me to a crisp for suggesting any kind of change.

--RpehTalk 06:05, 19 July 2007 (EDT)

I agree that something needs to be done. There are also many Morrowind pages falling in this category, e.g. Morrowind:Cheats, Morrowind:Hints, etc. The question is what to do with these pages; I'm not sure. I think what you are proposing is going to take too much trouble, and is not standard wiki-editing, as you say. Maybe we can set up a strict policy on what should go and shouldn't on each of these pages, and designate a dedicated patroller for each one to enforce it (I'm NOT volunteering). Anyway, just an idea. --DrPhoton 08:45, 19 July 2007 (EDT)
Yes, my original post was rather Oblivion-centric. This would apply to any and all bad pages. You're probably right about the voting. I had the idea on the train coming home from work yesterday evening and discussed it briefly on IRC before sleeping on it. Waking up, it didn't seem quite so brilliant but I still wanted to post it because - as you say - Something needs to be done. The problem is that too many discussions end there and nothing happens. Your idea of a dedicated patroller has some merit, although we'd need a lot more active patrollers so there can be backups in case one goes away, drops out or whatever. Anybody else got anything? --RpehTalk 13:53, 19 July 2007 (EDT)
I agree the roleplaying and custom class pages are pretty bad and need sorting, but i would disagree with you on the useful spells and useful enchantments page being bad. I have looked at both of the pages and both seem to be in order although not perfect. When i was new to Oblivion i found the useful spells page extremely fun and useful to follow and i found that the spells on that page are mostly genius, the bad ones are being delt with so the useful spells page doesn't need as much attention as the others you listed. Im pretty certain that the useful enchantments page is OK too but i didn't read right through it--Willyhead 14:08, 19 July 2007 (EDT)
This is a perennial issue. The truth is that not all pages on wikis are of equally high quality -- that's true not just for us, but Wikipedia and other wiki sites as well. It's what you get when you have pages with some useful information, a fair amount of subjective judgement and/or opinion, and no editor dedicated to keeping it fixed up. I know a lot of us are pretty obsessive and are bugged by having something that looks messy at the site, but the general rule at the wiki is: messy but useful, is better than nothing. If none of the long term editors is willing to take on the major cleaning job (where cleaning does NOT equal throwing the whole thing away), then just weed-whack around the edges once in a while as we've been doing.
However, one possibility... Add an info box at the top indicating that this is one of the "wilder" pages on the site: that it has useful info, but is not as carefully edited as other pages, and tends to be admixed with more subjective opinion, and less than thoroughly tested comments. With a notice like that, naive readers would at least have a warning of what they're getting into, and that the quality of the page is not indicative of the general quality of the site.
PS: If this discussion goes on a bit, links should be made to previous discussions (archives for this page, talk pages for the pages in question).
PPS: Yes, many of those pages do contain some useful info. Keep in mind that not everything on the site is going to be interesting to you. E.g., yes I found useful spells useful. Ditto with Roleplaying, there's plenty of useful ideas here. A general rule of editing is that if you don't find a page interesting, but other people do, then don't edit it -- leave the editing to people who do find it interesting.
--Wrye 14:41, 19 July 2007 (EDT)
I think that something really does need to be done, but I'm having trouble coming up with ideas that would work. As I've said before, part of me would be very happy to just delete problem pages, but I know that a lot of people (including myself) get a lot of use out of them. I like the spirit of your voting suggestion, but I think it would be too complicated and I'm not sure enough people would dedicate themselves to making the process work. I still think the template is a decent move, at least for the Custom Classes...but again, I'm horribly biased and I would completely understand if there was a consensus against it.
I wonder what would happen if we introduced a "proposal for deletion" sort of system? On the discussions for the pages in question, for example the Roleplaying page, people could propose deletion of certain entries they feel are redundant or virtually useless. We could even get fancy and propose the merging of entries as well. It's probably not realistic, but that's the only thing I've come up with so far. Whatever is decided, I do have lots of free time for a while yet (except for the first couple of weeks in August), so I would probably be willing to volunteer myself for a massive cleaning project. --Eshe 15:55, 19 July 2007 (EDT)
I would like to find a better system than what we have right now, and I think some amount of experimentation may be necessary to find something that works both short term and long term. I won't pretend to have any concrete answers as to what should be done, but I do have a few general thoughts.
I agree with many of Wrye's points, in particular that the wiki should strive to accommodate readers with a wide range of interests. Therefore the criteria for selecting content need to consider whether some readers will find the information useful, not whether all readers will find it useful. This makes it difficult for editors who don't make use of an article to decide what does or does not belong in the article.
On the other hand, I think that having an anything-can-be-added policy for these "suggestion"-format pages is ultimately not what any readers want. Imposing some selectivity or limitations should only help the articles. The fact that there have been criteria added to Oblivion:Useful Spells and Oblivion:Useful Enchantments probably has helped those articles be more useful than some of the other articles listed here. I think any reader would rather have an article containing only 50 good suggestions, as opposed to having to read through 250 suggestions of varying quality just to find the 50 good ones (or having to piece the information together themselves because each of those suggestions is actually split among 2 or 3 points that need to be merged).
Also, requiring that editors put a bit more thought and effort before adding new contributions seems a reasonable expectation in my mind. Wiki contributions never need to be perfect, but on all other articles on the site there is a minimum standard that gets subjectively imposed on contributions (e.g., tips that are just too difficult to understand end up getting deleted or moved to the article talk pages). I think if it is clear to editors that poor-quality contributions will not be kept, then at least some editors will do a better job with their contributions, and other editors will think twice before just adding any idea that comes to mind. Of course, there will always be a few editors who ignore any suggestions, but we can at least try to minimize the number of edits that fall in that group.
Based on the experience of Oblivion:Glitches/Proposed, I think one critical part of any plan is to make it clear what should be done with new contributions. If the contributions are going to be integrated into the main article, who is going to do that? What criteria (content, writing quality, etc) need to be met for contributions to be considered acceptable? What happens to entries that are not good enough? In particular, at what point do those entries get deleted? There basically has to be some way of eliminating the bad entries (or forcing them to be improved), otherwise you just end up with an ever-longer list of entries and nobody knows what to do with them. All of these steps have to be straightforward enough that even relatively new wiki editors can figure out what to do and help out with the process, because in my opinion any solution that counts on only experienced editors to do the work won't work long term (there is always turnover in editors; forcing experienced editors to do certain tasks on a longterm basis is likely to just lead to burnout).
I know I haven't provided feedback on any of the specific ideas that have been brought up here. Right now, I don't really have any specific preferences, and I think the opinions of the editors who are proposing to implement some of these ideas matter more. --NepheleTalk 17:22, 19 July 2007 (EDT)

I agree with almost everything that's been posted in this debate so far, which probably makes me certifiable. Willyhead, yes the Oblivion:Useful Spells page has some... err... useful spells, but it also has some that are just silly, redundant or obvious. Wrye, you're right but it's not that I don't find the pages interesting just that I question their utility. Eshe's proposed deletion for sections idea might have some mileage but is possibly quite high maintenance. Nephele actually makes the point I wish I'd made at first: "I think any reader would rather have an article containing only 50 good suggestions, as opposed to having to read through 250 suggestions of varying quality", although she misses a crucial aspect, which is that a lot of people won't bother. The idea that people might be unable to find the information they need is a pretty unpleasant one given the purpose of the site.

Of the ideas so far, I think we can agree the voting is a non-starter. DrPhoton's dedicated editor idea is nice but Nephele's probably right about burnout. Wrye's info-box is an excellent idea and I'd say it should be implemented. Strongly-worded guidelines such as those on Useful Spells might help, and as a last resort we have the Oblivion:Glitches/Proposed / Oblivion:Glitches solution. So that's where we are... where next? Which pages do people think would benefit from which solutions? I'd go for the boxes and instructions everywhere and think about the double page solution for Custom Classes and Roleplaying. --RpehTalk 14:20, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

Okay, as the first step I present for your viewing pleasure, this template and this test page - shamelessly pinched from the cleanup template. Please feel free to play with the wording as you see fit, but is this the sort of thing you could all imagine seeing at the top of (some of) the pages on that list? --RpehTalk 07:57, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

A few quick comments:

  • As Wyre mentioned there is a large space between the classes of "obviously good" and "obviously bad". I've always felt that unless something is obviously wrong/bad/stupid it should be kept (somewhere)...I may not find it useful but someone else might. For example, recently I noticed someone snipping sections out of Oblivion:Roleplaying. Some of these weren't "great" but I thought good enough to be worthy of being kept (not sure if those edits were reverted or not).
  • When an article starts to become too large or unwieldy you can start to think about splitting it up. The articles mentioned above are good candidates for some form of splitting as there are a number of ways to do it. Put all the "good" sections on the main page and everything else on a sub-page. Or split the main article sections in sub-pages or individual articles.
  • Whatever is done these kind of articles will always have more edits and require more editor attention than other articles.

-- Daveh 09:03, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

Rpeh, the template looks good. If nothing else, it'll make us all feel a little bit better about not being able to control the festering mess ;). I don't think it should be considered a solution in itself, but it certainly helps. Maybe a different color would help it stand out more?
I think Daveh's subpage suggestion could work nicely. There's always the matter of deciding which entries deserve to go on the main page, but splitting it up based on our opinions would do for now, I think, and then we could employ a more democratic process later. Once the whole thing gets going, it'll be a lot easier to make it work. --Eshe 11:55, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
First of all, welcome back Daveh! I hope you had a good trip (assuming you're back now). I ought to say here that I not in favor of deletion - it's just a gleeful thought that flashes through my mind when I see another hundred spelling mistakes on one of those pages. Those pages are a problem precisely because they are some of the most popular on the site and to delete them would represent a massive failure on our part. I realize they're going to need more attention but at the moment it's not happening because fixing a page means editing a 150+K page that kills the server.
I'd kind of got the idea that sub-pages were frowned upon. If not then I agree they could be used to better organize things. That would open up a whole new range of ideas. --RpehTalk 12:44, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

November 2007: Stop-Gap Solution

To reopen the never-ending discussion....

The question of what content is or is not appropriate for these pages is something that I don't see being solved in the near future. I think there is too much disparity in people's opinions about the page and furthermore any type of significant change in the content is going to take a lot of work. But in the meantime I think it is possible to address some of the technical problems with these pages, in particular the fact that they are all so large. The size of the pages is a major obstacle. They are at the top of the list of Long pages, a problem that is dramatically compounded by the number of edits made to these pages. It drives me crazy to have my browser freeze up for 5 minutes every time I try to patrol an edit to one of these pages. Its a huge waste of server resources to force every reader to download the entire page. And there's the potential for serious server problems when these pages are edited (frozen server connections can occur when large edits are made to large pages).

So to fix all of these size-related problems, I'd like to follow up on the idea from the last round of subpages. I propose moving basically every section on these pages to a separate subpage, and change the main page into a list of the available subpages. A bit of formatting would need to be added to the subpages (categories, trails, the heavily-edited template, an introductory sentence, etc.), but otherwise this reorganization wouldn't require any torturous questions of modifying the page content.

For example, Tes4Mod:Mod Ideas would end up with subpages for each of the level-3 headers, i.e., subpages named:

  • Tes4Mod:Mod_Ideas/Sound_and_Music
  • Tes4Mod:Mod_Ideas/Population
  • Tes4Mod:Mod_Ideas/Creatures
  • etc.

On Oblivion:Roleplaying perhaps the "Simple Roleplaying Ideas" would stay, but each level-3 section under "Character Roleplaying" would end up with a separate page:

  • Oblivion:Roleplaying/Acrobat
  • Oblivion:Roleplaying/Agoraphobe
  • etc.

One side-effect of this change is that it would no longer be possible for anonymous editors to add new sections, because it would require creation of a new page. Personally, I think that's actually an advantage of the idea, although some might disagree.

I'm somewhat eager to dive in and do this as soon as possible. I think it's desperately needed to make these pages manageable, and hopefully shouldn't be too controversial. But I'll try to wait a few days and see whether anyone has any reasons to nix the whole idea ;) --NepheleTalk 17:09, 9 November 2007 (EST)

Sounds good to me. --Wrye 18:37, 9 November 2007 (EST)
Thanks to Vesna and Western3589, Oblivion:Roleplaying has now been split into countless subpages. I've started on Oblivion:Gripes and Tes4Mod:Mod Ideas, as well: the header templates are set up and the first few sections have been done as examples.
If anyone would like to help, I've made things a bit more complicated for the Gripes and Mod Idea pages. Each level-3 header (section with a ===...=== type title) is being made into a subpage. On the subpage I've been putting:
  1. A header such as {{Gripes Header|section=Game Balance}} or {{Mod Ideas Header|section=Content}}. The section= part is filled in using the name of the level-2 section.
  2. The text cut-and-paste from the original page
  3. A footer such as:
{{Nav Footer
|Prev=Oblivion:Gripes/Thieving|'''Game Balance''' - Thieving
|Next=Oblivion:Gripes/Persuasion and Speechcraft|'''Game Balance''' - Persuasion and Speechcraft
|Up= Oblivion:Gripes#Game Balance|'''Game Balance'''
The footer creates links to the previous section and next section so that readers can browse through the entire article more easily. (This type of footer could be useful on the Roleplaying pages, too... I just didn't think of it at the time!)
The details of the headers being used on these pages can probably use a fair bit of tweaking to make them look better. I just wanted to start by getting something in place. It's pretty trivial to make modifications to the templates, which will then automatically show up on all the subpages. If anyone has ideas on how to improve the templates, feel free to mess around with them.
--NepheleTalk 13:35, 14 November 2007 (EST)