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> Forum Organization and Usage, A handy guide for all (but especially new) members
Somey
post Sun 22nd February 2009, 7:37pm
Post #1


Can't actually moderate (or even post)
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Group: Moderators
Posts: 11,815
Joined: Sat 17th Jun 2006, 7:47pm
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Forum Organization and Usage

What follows is a description of The Wikipedia Review's forum/subforum structure, and what each forum is supposed to used for, i.e., what sort of new topics should be posted to each one. It was originally written by Kato as part of an internal review/critique of the board's organization, and later re-written somewhat by Somey for public consumption.

Forum Information

General, technical, policy, and usage information, along with various announcements about the site itself. Out-of-date threads should be moved to the Forum Information Archive and not taken all that seriously.

Main Forums

General Discussion
This is a kind of catch-all, Front Page News section, containing the latest horrific and scurrilous Wikipedia-related events as reported by our members. "News," the kind that appears in the media, is usually posted automatically in one of the Media forums by an RSS feed (see below). Generally speaking, this forum gets the most readers, and is usually the most competitive (in terms of which threads are the most active and therefore appear on the home page).

Meta Discussion
This forum was created early in 2008 to better separate "breaking news" threads from more philosophical topics that might be deemed more interesting to academics and other "serious researchers." Before, when such topics were competing for the same space, a few hard-worked posts full of interesting analysis (and some halfway-decent jokes) would disappear off the radar under a flurry of "Jimbo buys gold-plated washing machine" threads. Jon Awbrey, a highly-qualified academic in his own right, does most of the moderating for this forum.

Editors forum
Since Wikipedia is a community-built website, it's probably impossible to have a discussion board about Wikipedia that doesn't occasionally focus on the actions of individual users, or "editors." This forum is meant to keep all such threads in one handy place, and to insulate other forums from the inevitable wiki-celebrity-spotting, interpersonal drama, and political machinations. (To be fair, not all of this is carried on by self-identified "Wikipedians.")

Note: There has been some confusion over the fact that this forum was, at one time, hidden from search engines. This was originally done (by original member/admin Blu Aardvark) to help limit the spread of WP-style j'accuse culture to the board, and also to help prevent spurious allegations from tarring people for the rest of their online lives. However, WP's refusal to do the same for BLP ("Biographies of Living Persons") victims, despite literally years of evidence-gathering and other forms of wrangling, led to a decision in February 2008 to rescind this policy, until further notice.

Subforums: "Notable Editors"
These were created (also in early 2008) in an attempt to better organize the Editors forum and help prevent thread-duplications, due to the difficulty of finding an existing thread within the much-larger Editors main forum. It had become clear that a select few Wikipedia personalities were being discussed far more than others, to an extent that couldn't be explained by such things as, say, the obsessive enmity of one or two WR members. It has been suggested that these subforums unnecessarily stigmatize the individuals in question, while conversely it could be argued that they siphon off criticism into a more marginal area of the site and therefore actually help to protect them. Regardless, WR has always maintained that these, and many other, WP editors are "limited public figures" within the context of Wikipedia and related projects.

Sub-subforums: "Nutty Conspiracies"
In extreme cases, the admins have created special sub-subforums to sequester threads about notable editors that seemed so far-fetched or ludicrous that they shouldn't be visible to the public, or at least to search engines, if only to reduce the embarrassment of other members.

Articles
Threads about specific Wikipedia articles should be posted here, unless the articles are about people who are currently alive, in which case they belong in...

Subforum: Biographies of Living Persons
This sub-forum is hidden from Search Engines - again to reduce the "Google footprint" impact on people who are subjects of Wikipedia articles against their will (also referred to here as "BLP victims"). Please note, though, that threads about the BLP issue itself should be posted to the General Discussion forum.

Bureaucracy
Ostensibly, this forum covers Wikipedia's bureaucratic mechanisms like the Arbitraton committee, and all the requests for... adminship, arbitration, comment, and so on. Usage of this forum is probably the least well-understood, not least by the admins and moderators themselves in some cases. As a general rule, threads about Wikipedia policy, and policy discussions, should be posted here if the policies themselves are meant to regulate user behavior, control interpersonal conflict, or manage Wikipedia's overall system of governance. Threads about policy that's related to Wikipedia content usually belongs in General Discussion, or in some cases, the Meta Discussion forum.

Note: Threads related to the deletion of Wikipedia articles, and other pages, can go almost anywhere on the site. Use your best judgement, but if you're concerned about a specific article that's being proposed for deletion, that usually belongs in the Articles forum. Threads about deletion policy in general usually belong in Bureacracy, but threads about "Deletionism" usually don't, and threads about the "deletionist" or "inclusionist" tendencies of specific editors obviously belong in the Editors forum.

The German-speaking Wikipedia
It's generally agreed that the German Wikipedia is considerably better-managed and administered than the English one, so criticism tends to be more muted. Nevertheless, critics do exist, and they're welcome to join us and post threads specific to "de-wiki" here.

Media Forums

News Worth Discussing
Threads in the "Wikipedia in the Media" forum that acquire a couple of member responses, as well as mentions of WP-related media stories that were missed by the site's automated RSS feed, can be added here. The media forums usually have additional moderators (currently Kato and Cobalt) who help out with this, as it is a bit of a chore. (Sorry...) There's also a subforum where "Notable Wiki-scandals" are archived, to make them a bit easier to find. However, this isn't used all that much, since there are so many scandals they all seem to get blurred together in a huge, indistinguishable mass.

Wikipedia in the Media
The site's RSS aggregator automatically posts threads into this forum. The RSS feed has improved over time, though there are still some duplications, and a fair amount of off-topic material. Mods also manually merge threads that duplicate each other. At the moment, there's also a "Highlighted for Posterity" subforum, which seems to have had the opposite of its intended effect (i.e., to highlight things). We may do something about that one of these days.

Wikipedia in Blogland
Members are encouraged to add links to blogs (including their own) and blog entries about Wikipedia to this forum. The creation of these topics is almost entirely manual, since so many blogs refer to Wikipedia articles simply to provide background material on an unrelated subject (i.e., "according to Wikipedia, the 1953 Yankees were the first team to wear furry costumes during pre-game warmups," etc.), and it's nearly impossible to filter these automatically.

Off-Topic

The Lounge

This forum has all manner of stuff that isn't related to Wikipedia at all, as well as threads about pertinent issues on the internet, Web 2.0, etc., that are deemed relevant to Wikipedia critics. It also has a few threads about Wikia, Wikback, other Wiki projects, Citizendium, and so on. (At the moment there are no threads specifically on the subject of Star Wars, but now that I've pointed this out, it's only a matter of time.)

Non-Public Forums

Politics, Religion and Such

Originally created to deal with the ever-present problem of threads being derailed by postings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its use has since been expanded to include other "hot-button" issue-derailments involving things like political campaigns, political corruption, the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, the global economic meltdown, abortion, LGBT rights, and so on. Prior to the creation of this forum, such exchanges were usually moved into the tar-pit (see below), which annoyed the participants by "stigmatizing" the threads in question. It now serves as a "letting off steam" area for debates that probably shouldn't be visible to the public, given that they have little or nothing to do with Wikipedia - at least not directly.

Note: As an anti-"trolling" measure, the remaining forums listed below have been made visible only to members who have posted at least five times.

Support Group
This forum was, and still is, an experiment in how best to deal with situations in which a member (usually one who has registered here just recently) develops some form of psychological or emotional stress as a result of disputes, conflicts, and abuse suffered at the hands of Wikipedia's user community. WR members are encouraged to offer positive suggestions and moral support to anyone who starts a thread of this nature in this forum, while the moderators try (sometimes successfully!) to use "shaming" and in some cases outright censorship to prevent less-sympathetic members from making such situations worse.

Wikipedia Review Review
For discussions about internal matters, including the board's rules, software features, forum organization, incessant administrative screw-ups, bugs, glitches, and things of that nature.

The Tar Pit and Feather Barrel
Our most notorious forum, this part of the site is for flamewars, potential privacy violations, and other material that is either extracted from the board for everyone's sanity, or simply too pointless and nasty to be aired in public. In effect, this forum is a compromise between overly-harmful transparency and overly-protective censorship. As it happens, few threads and posts are deleted outright on WR, though that might change someday, particularly if Wikipedia itself adopts a more humanistic approach to the BLP problem, and defamatory content in general.
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