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Is adding a signature to text considered unethical editing?

  • I honestly have been thinking about that the past hour or so. Would I do it? No. In the end, it makes a page unwieldy and difficult to read, which is always against the purpose of the Wiki - to provide information. It also (and this is an important point) makes the quoted text seem less "authoritative" than the base text of the entry - which itself was entered by an equal editor. Do I think it is "Bad", "Wrong" or "Unethical". Possibly, but only due to that second reason - you are lowering the weight of the words of other contributors. — jw
  • Another *strong* point is that every letter is attributed automatically in the "info" tab. Is that not enough? — jw
    • The only issue I have is that the info tab, the edit page, the recent changes page, all of it seems to be geared for Wikiholics or active users. I'm concerned mostly just about the people using the wiki as an information source. Not leaving a signature on an obvious opinion kinda says to me "We here at the Wiki think the system is fucked ..." as an example. It's a minor detail, in my opinion. —SS
  • The problem I see here is that there seems to be some ambiguity. The Wikiholics Anonymous page, for example, seems to have had comments with signatures that weren't put by the original author. I personally see no problem in adding a signature. Something like the 40 ounce Meal Plan page really doesn't need to be edited for non-bias, I just felt the need to step in because of "... the system is fucked." That seems kinda harsh to be representative of the entire Wiki community. —SS
  • I think signatures are appropriate (in fact, appreciated) when enganged in discussion on a page, but when setting the facts straight via a correction they're clearly unnecessary, just a good edit comment is all that's needed. OnceLivedInDavis 2005-09-30 00:36:05

One of the main issues here has to do with the interplay of fact and opinion. Wikipedia doesn't have this problem as often, as it deals mostly in fact, whereas c2 deals almost exclusively with opinion. The idea that attributing an edit violates "Wiki Ethics" (which is growing to be a TERRIBLY overused phrase) seems to come mostly from c2, and I think a lot of stuff on c2 is rubbish. There have been tons of specific cases where I've found myself attributing edits here on the DavisWiki: I point you to the case of Kenneth Bloom versus ECS188, in which Kabloom dropped a derogatory statement regarding ECS188. It was totally uncool unattributed, but if he thought what he said was true it's probably deserved to stay as a warning to future students of the class.

I think Fact and Opinion can live together as friends, and attributing things that deviate considerably from the baseline is a good way for them to get along. This shouldn't, however, be a rationale for attributing any adjective that looks remotely threatening, or we won't get anywhere at all.

On the issue of Wiki Ethics, I wish everyone would lay off that specific phrase at least. During the election about a million years ago, Mr. Philip himself said to me that he wished there was some simple code for determining what should and shouldn't go on the wiki - but that's just it, there isn't one. There's no wiki bible and we basically have to make this shit up as we go along. Shouting 'ETHICS! ETHICS!' doesn't help as much as you think it does. — TravisGrathwell

I have, in the past, attributed things I thought were too opinionated. However, if pages have more than one viewpoint expressed then there's little need for attribution of these viewpoints: the dual presence makes it clear that it is not an official opinion. You have to consider that rampant attribution might actually cause the opposite of the intended affect: All non-attributed text is given the guise of authority or agreement, which is not the case (and cannot be the case because we've all agreed to disagree). It would be nice if the bulk of the text represented somewhat of a consensus, and this can be achived by including differing points of view (where you can find your view included). I say use your best judgement. —PhilipNeustrom

The Wiki Style Guide says how to handle certain comments - remove the ones that contribute little, and take the information contained within and incorporate them into the body of the page, if possible. It also says avoid "I" and "my" phrases. In the end, however, I am doing one thing - making pages more readable so that people can use the Wiki better. I don't give a damn who wrote it or even if I disagree with it - if I disagree, I'll present a counterpoint - unattributed - but I will also do my best to make the point I disagree with as legible and persuasive as possible. In short, I take the information and opinions on each page and present them in the most clear manner possible. — JabberWokky

  • I can see that the similarities between attribution/objectivity are going to be difficult to deal with. —SS
  • Man. . . SS and I just finished arguing about this sort of thing. I side with JabberWokky on this one. I started doing this a couple of times, but he's much better at it. — ct

  • Put a flier on the wall. Just don't put a flier over someone elses.
    • Flyers tend to cover flyers. This happens because people often have disregard for what others post. They can have such disregard because it is commonly known that SPAC does not enforce its rules regarding posting fliers. The Davis Wiki is similar to posting fliers in this sense.
      • Sometimes the billboard is too small for all the voices. Because billboards are designed to be posted over, and over, and over. Not out of disregard, but because everyone wants to be heard. On the wiki, you can alter others' 'flyers', move them around, and reorganize the same thing. Space might be limited, but there is organizational potential. (I rephrased to not use the word students, and I think the part "They can have such disregard because it is commonly known that SPAC does not enforce its rules regarding posting fliers. " could be cut because it's common knowledge, as you state, that they don't enforce their rules).
        • Everyone does not want to be heard. Everyone wants to spam. Spam spam spam. (I like it the way it is. There is a lot of common knowledge on the Wiki. If you rephrase it I will have to assume you will not want common knowledge and go around deleting everything that is common knowledge.)
  • Uh, guys... I wrote that, and when I did, I just thought it was a clever phrase - I hardly intended anybody to try to debate the logic of it. It's a pretty turn of words, not a legal document. — JabberWokky
    • Well gee I'm glad you cleared that up. Next time *I* write some pretty words I'm sure when it's edited I can make the same argument (I'm in a huff if you haven't noticed). —SS

  • I don't agree but maybe that's because I'm an arrogant person. The wiki is meant to be edited and changed. Deleting people's personal comments and incorporating them, rewriting unclear or disconnected entries and all of the like is a good thing and needs to be done more, not less. It's wrong to change the substance of a person's post but in my opinion that isn't usually the problem. I think that we need to have far fewer personal comments and pages that are filled with discussions. It makes the wiki cluttered, hard to read and all around less useful and available to the masses. But I'm not quite sure what your original point was anyhow. Is it that you are opposed to people modifying signed opinion posts? If so that is already covered in the wiki. I guess I was arrogant simply be deleting your page and moving it here. Whatever, it's just the internet. What's your opinion? -JH

Usage of multiple user accounts (also known as clones) should be discouraged. I don't believe there is a legitimate reason for a single entity to have multiple user accounts and especially not for the clone accounts to have their own user pages. However this does not mean that your username has to be your real name. Clone detection is very easy from just the information provided on Recent Changes, and if your a username shows up with a clone, that only has a handful of edits all of which have been disruptive (i.e. deleting user pages, instigating revert wars) the only effect this will have is to have people take you less seriously. Attribution of edits and comments to a username is taking responsibility for those things, and if you can't take responsibility for a comment, and instead attribute it to your clone, then you should think twice about making that comment in the first place. —DavidReid

Integrating Comments

I realize this has been discussed earlier (I read a little bit about it above), but I have an issue. I can understand the integration of comments over time. Sometimes I'll come back and read something and think to myself "that was kind of mean, bad, stupid, etc." But, I think there should be a way of making showing a preference of not integrating a comment into the page? Like, if it has a person's name attributed to it ... and there's some kind of bold lettering or something? I think it's really presumptuous and condescending to think someone wants their comment altered. If it's clearly an opinion with someone's name on it, I don't think it should necessarily be "integrated".

  • I agree - which is why I don't integrate reviews or personal recounts. I wish there was a stronger delineation between chatter, informative comments and reviews. The latter should be the only thing remaining — the first is deletable, and the second should really have just been a edit directly to the entry. Reviews are not comments, and are a useful part of the article. — JabberWokky

Dude, so JabbberWokky, your solution to using your own freaked out method of integrating comments is to put a stupid sign on every freaking page so that others will claim responsibility for doing it? Seriously man, I find this annoying.

  • I've probably integrated 500 entries so far. I recently started also commenting on people's pages to get people to edit entries directly. Recently there have been a spate of new users who have been adding very good content in the form of a comment rather than editing the actual entry. If nobody else does those integrations, I will. This is merely my attempt to get people to think along the lines of "Wiki, not blog" when editing. The reason I made the icon was to gently encourage Wiki editing rather than using the Wiki as a messageboard. — JabberWokky
    • Not that I don't understand what you're doing ... but some comments are opinion, and (I think thanks in part to me) page information these days is more non-biased. I like the comment system because it allows people to clearly express their opinions without having it necessarily disrupt the flow of page information. I just want to know where you get the authority to "integrate" or basically "make anonymous" people's opinions? I know that at least me personally, I would appreciate your asking me before you integrated my comments. I might want my name attached to something I said. —SS
      • Personally, I get my authority from Fozzie T. Bear. You might get yours from God or Locke or the Lord of the Dance. I am allowed to by Creative Commons, and I do it to try to improve the Wiki, the exact same reason you are concerned about it. Most people here have the same goal: to make the Wiki better. — JabberWokky
    • I agree with Saul. If I'm looking at a restaurant's page (ie Sonic's) and different people have different opinions, you cannot integrate them into entry without skewing the information. And by leaving comments as is, people can contact others to find out more about good or bad experiences.
      • In that case, you also agree with me. Note my distinction between reviews, comments and chatter. The stuff that I remove tends to be "Is there going to be a meeting on Saturday?" from eight months ago. When it actually contains info, I move it up to the entry. Reviews are left alone. By me, at any rate. Somebody else might have a different edit philosophy. — JabberWokky
      • Ah, JoAnna, you're actually the specific person who prompted my notices that so upset Saul. You do great, absolutely fantastic writeups about restaurants. Why don't you just edit the actual entry and put all the things you have to say directly into the article? It would make that Wiki entry better — and after all it's your entry to edit as much as it is anyone else's. More to the point, if you don't, who will? You're perfectly able to edit the entry itself... so go'fer it! You are an excellent author. — JabberWokky
        • Because my experiences will differ from others. If it's actual information like time, location then that should be in the entry. If it's a personal opinion on food or service, then I think it should be left as a comment. Writing in the actual entry "The service is wonderful" is not a universal fact that can apply to everyone, some people have bad experiences. And by seeing someone's comment, you can also see the date from which they left it. Maybe establishment food or services change a few months later.
          • If someone else thinks the service isn't good, they can add that to the entry. Besides — your opinion is valid, don't worry if it's universal. There's no rule that says your opinion has to be universal to be in the article. Think of restaurant reviews in newspapers or in travel or restaurant guides. Can you imagine if they were afraid to voice an opinion because it might not be universal? If your good service was atypical, five other people will pop in afterwards and change it. Eventually the opinions presented will approximate the opinion of the general public (at least those who use the Wiki). If you're still scared that your opinion isn't good enough for the article, think of it as you being on a panel of reviewers — the rest of the panel being the rest of the Wiki editors. You have a good and valid voice... don't be afraid to use it. — JabberWokky
            • Jabber, I really want to know why you write like you are the biggest authority of this issue. I am a wiki editor, she is a Wiki editor. In fact, Domenic is a Wiki editor, who disagrees with my opinion when I put it directly on the page. So much so that a separate page has to be created because he thinks my opinion is not valid. As I said, I can see some things getting integrated. But, she's absolutely right, her opinion is not a universal. That was the first thing that upset me the first day I was on the Wiki, when I found the Cost Plus page said something like "Cost Plus More Third World Market" it looked like it represented the opinion of the entire wiki community, and I found that really presumptuous. I really would appreciate if you left my comments on pages alone. I am a Wiki Editor just as much as you are.
              • I'm not an authority, I'm just stating my opinion on the matter. Just like you are. We're both right — even when we disagree. We're on a level playing field, and we both want a better Wiki. I'm confidant that that will happen, and it won't be precisely what either of us envision. — JabberWokky


Bits of material found on other pages, particularly pages during heated discussion, that may be worthwhile.

On banning

Banning someone seems to me to be a serious matter, and not something which we should just decide by a simple poll. Poll-taking leads to a dynamic where people start thinking about "Do I want him banned?" rather than something like "Would it be right to ban him?", and also a dynamic where people feel compelled to defend their prior opinions rather than taking in facts and arguments. Some thought and discussion, hopefully leading to something close to consensus, would be good. Also, it seems there are more possibilities here than a simple binary decision. I'm even leery of the discussion happening without face-to-face contact among all interested, though it is possible to do it online well if everyone puts some care into it. A second concern is that some people may have thoughts they want to share without identifying themselves to everyone. —AlexanderWoo (at 1PMish, Sunday Oct. 30)

I think that the wiki community has far too high of a tolerance for malicious/annoying people who just don't get it. I know that we should try to explain to people how this works, but if that fails, people should be banned. Basically: ban more people. —ArlenAbraham

Satirical and Parody Pages

I think it is important that satirical or parody pages have a readlily apparent notice that they are, in fact a work of satire or parody and are not factual. The Jewish Slate page is a case in point. Whereas the majority of wiki readers would recognise the parody/satire (I'm still not quite sure which one it is), many of our readers may not be well versed in other cultures and subtle humor. Imagine a freshman student at UCD fresh from the midwest. The student might very well know nothing of Jewish values and humor. The page could be terribly misinterpreted. If we allow unrestrained satire and parody, what's to stop wiki pages like http://landoverbaptist.org?

I think that the Daviswiki should firstly be a source of accurate information. I love parody and satire as much as or more than most, but when we present information that can be construed as fact but in reality is something completely different, we have strayed from the mission. —GrumpyoldGeek

  • When it comes to pages that are sticking around for a while - ones that aren't just visible to viewers of Recent Changes - I'm inclined to agree. Someone could make a Parody macro, perhaps? —JosephBleckman
  • Might I add a introduce a bit of historical context from my alma mater, and suggest the smiley face emoticon? — CraigBrozinsky
  • This has the effect of completely sapping all humor from said pages. I prefer these pages be left to their natural course of being debated about for some time prior to their inevitable deletion. — TravisGrathwell
    • Why should we debate and eliminate satirical pages rather than add to them? Initial shock value aside, they're creative are worthy of keeping if the thing they're spoofing is allowed to persist on the wiki. What's the difference between a well written comment and a satirical piece if they both get the same message across. As for labelling, I don't think it saps all humor from said pages. I've never heard someone say, "The Colbert Report was funny until I realized it was on Comedy Central." CraigBrozinsky
      • The Jewish Slate page certainly caused a chuckle - humor in a jon-stewart-ish way. I was one of those who was snowed by the April Fools Day 2006 joke for several hours, so I am pleased that I'm getting better at spotting this kind of thing. But maybe there should be some sort of "just kidding" message at the end for those whose keen awareness of leg pulling is not as developed. - SharlaDaly

Attack Photos

For what it's worth, I just permanently deleted a photo: it was a drunk college aged guy with his face covered in marker and had been posted on an entry by somebody else, likely to humiliate him (the name is trivial to figure out, I'm leaving it out, but it was a very recent entry). I assume nobody has any issues with a permanent deletion in those cases? (Normally deleted photo are still viewable). Incidentally, it is been nearly a year since the last time hard core porn/shock images were posted, so it seems that we're getting them at a rate of one spate a year. Or maybe the holidays cause some people to get a bit extra gleeful. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards

Outing Identity

Somebody posted potentially identifying information about a person who has chosen to remain unknown. I admin reverted it. I checked very briefly with two editors who happened to be online, and decided it was the ethical equivalent of home address: a few people post them, but most people don't. Occasionally somebody posts somebody's home address without asking and it is usually removed by request of the person who lives there. It falls under choice of privacy. I have no idea if the information was even accurate, and given the nature of the situation, I'm being intentionally vague. If there's a community demand for the information, I stored it. I do note, also, that it may have been a veiled threat in terms of "I know who you are". —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards

I agree 100% with this decision. Where someone is using anonymity abusively, revealing their identity may be necessary to protect other users. Absent such a need, revealing the identity of someone who chooses to be anonymous is inappropriate, especially when it's apparently done maliciously. —TomGarberson