- This is not a direct proposal for a policy to be implemented, rather an essay about wiki policies in general.
- Admins = all users with additional user rights, e.g. sysops and bureaucrats
- With "policies" here I mean any regulation of the wiki. That is, I mean both "policies" and "guidelines" in the sense they are commonly used.
Discretion equals checks on power
- Pro: Saves time by allowing faster sysop decisions.
- Contra: Allows for sysop decisions that could run contrary to what the community wants.
Checks on power
- Pro: Ensure that sysops do not act contrary to the community.
- Contra: Take up time by being tendious to follow through.
There are many ways to administer a wiki, but one could order them all along the lines of how much discretion is given to the admins (that is: all users with additional user rights) and how many checks are placed on the admins. In my mind, in the ideal wiki, the amount of discretion given to admins must equal the amount of checks on power placed on admins. For example, a wiki could decide to run with a very low amount of admin discretion. That wiki would not need a big low of checks on power, simple because the the admins do not have much power. Similar, a wiki could decide to give a lot of discretion to admins and use a lot of checks to keep the admins in check.
- Discretion without checks (Guildwiki)
- Admins are detached from the community. In the end, they form the wiki how they want it to be instead of forming the wiki like the community wants it to be. The community does not have any tool to enforce its view.
- Checks without discretion (GWW)
- GWW did design a great system of checks on admin power, but that was partly a waste of time, because individual policies (e.g. SIGN) did not allow admins the discretion that would make a system of checks needed.
On this wiki I would wish for a system that takes advantage of the pro's of allowing more admin discretion, while keeping GWW's system (or a GWW-like system) of checks on their power.
First, discretion equals "the spirit of the policy". Speaking about the spirit of the policy is just a roundabout way of speaking about admin discretion. Since the spirit of the policy is never written down, it is left to the individual enforcing the policy to interpret it. That is discretion. I will use the word discretion, since, in my mind, it is the more neutral description.
Discretion can also be seen as equal to the amount of "fuzzyness" in policy wording. The more clear the policies and the less interpretation needed to enforce them, the less discretion.
Compared to GWW, I would argue for policies that are much shorter at the expense of being more fuzzy. However if something can not be written down without being completely fuzzy, it should not be a policy.
Fuzzyness vs precision in policy wording
Fuzzyness Pro: Allows for short, easily understood policies. Contra: Makes it harder to identify and agree on breaches of policy.
Precision Pro: Users can clearly read what is allowed and what is not in the policy. There will be no discussions about whether or not a policy was breached. Contra: Precise policies tend to become long policies as well. It is hard to precisely forsee any eventuallity.
Note that it might be possible to write policies that are short, easily understood, forsee any eventuality and precise at the same time. That would be an ideal policy. However in most cases this will not be possible and one has to opt for one or the other.
Checks on power
Checks on power are ways in which the community as a whole can reign in those with additional users rights. These can come in many varieties:
- Regular election - are an obvious check, since admins that go against the community will not be re-elected
- Recalls - a somewhat less powerful check, proves a saveguard against very bad admins
- "Outside powers" - e.g. Appeals to Anet or an arbitration committee (which in turn would have to be choosen however)
Regular elections vs recalls
Regular elections and recalls serve a similar purpose, yet they are not identical. Elections ensure that, at a precise time, the candidate the community likes best will be elected over those candidates the community dislikes or likes somewhat. Recalls will only remove those admins that the community dislikes, not those it likes somewhat, even if there is a better candidate availeble. As a drawback, elections may happen even is everyone is totally happy with the current admins, creating a waste of time. Recalls only happen if someone is unhappy.
With regard to checks, I very much like the GWW system: Bureaucrats (who wield the most power) have the biggest check - elections. Sysops, who wield a medium amount of power, have a less powerful check - recalls.