CZ:Proposals/CZ Community pages should be revised for simplicity

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This proposal has been discarded because it is not well formed.
The proposal record may be found on the discarded page.


Part of what is keeping our "elitism shield" up is that many (if not all) of the community pages are overly complex. A campaign to heavily review and edit the pages will give us leaner, easy-to-comprehend documentation and improve our external appearance.


  • A well-rounded discussion
  • Aggregated Review of the community pages
  • The review should include opinions and analyses from everyone who wishes to voice their concerns
  • A focused effort on slimming up the documentation ensuring that their meaning is not lost


I have two reactions to this. (1) The summary and process above don't constitute a complete proposal. Everyone recognizes the need to improve our community pages. I plug away regularly at them, and I am constantly begging people to help with them. The problem, quite obviously, is not that we needed a "proposal" to tell us we need to improve our community pages. The problem is how to motivate people to actually work on them. If you had a proposal to address that effectively, well, that would be interesting. (2) The fact that there is no driver for your proposal I take as further evidence that this is a problem. --Larry Sanger 20:49, 12 February 2008 (CST)

Let's go straight to very specific proposals. e.g.

1) To replace CZ: Article Mechanics with CZ:Article_Mechanics/Draft_rewrite.

2. To replace CZ:Neutrality Policy with CZ:Neutrality process new draft

How do we decide to do this or not? What exactly is the mechanism. Gareth Leng 04:00, 13 February 2008 (CST)

Exactly my question. That is, if no one wants to answer that question, or any other such specific questions about how to revise community pages for simplicity, then this proposal won't (can't!) be implemented. Right now, the only mechanisms are: someone makes the change and sees if it sticks; or I do it.

However, I don't think we should entirely replace the former with the latter. I think we should put the latter (or versions of the latter) first, and then direct readers to the former (or versions of the former) for fuller versions of our policy. That is particularly important for Article Mechanics. --Larry Sanger 07:22, 13 February 2008 (CST)

Let me restate my concern. I think part of the reason why there isn't much effort is because there is a worry that "the changes won't be right" or "they're incorrect". There is an implied, non-verbal restriction on editing these pages. I certainly respect that this is your project, but despite the encouragement no one wants to "rock the boat"--I may be mistaken, but I think I am not. Only a response from the community will verify this hypothesis. --Robert W King 10:11, 13 February 2008 (CST)

Its been aired on the forums, and I really doubt if there's anyone who doesn't think that these should be revised, or that comment shouldn't be encouraged. It's not clear how a form of words should become "Approved". Maybe the answer is to take a draft revision, work on that collectively, and submit it to an approval process. But approved by whom and how? And are we in danger of talking ourselves to death? Anyway, I've proposed simplified alternatives, and maybe people should feel less intimidated from improving these.Gareth Leng 12:02, 13 February 2008 (CST)

Gareth, excellent questions. I think the problem isn't so much approval as actually doing the work, however. Why do I say that? Because it would take me weeks worth of full-time work to do all that I personally want to do on the pages, and I know already that almost everything I write will be accepted.  :-) As long as policies aren't substantively changed, but merely rewritten, there's nothing that needs approval from the Editorial Council. Then it's just like any other page on the wiki: you do a lot of work, and in case of disagreement, you negotiate to a mutually agreeable solution.

Robert, again--please read this carefully if you want to keep debating this, as I don't have time to keep repeating myself--we all agree that the community pages need a huge overhaul in various respects. That's what the community gets for leaving all the work to me. It appears to be a frustratingly bad misperception that the community pages are somehow "off limits." They aren't. There are some pages that should only be edited carefully, perhaps with advance discussion, but the vast majority of the pages aren't of that sort.

I think what you are reacting to is that I respond to and sometimes criticize changes that others make community pages, such as Steve's recent move to change CZ:About to a Q&A format; I responded (on CZ talk:About) that I thought it should not be in Q&A form, because we've got a FAQ for that. People shouldn't be put off by perfectly innocent, non-hostile remarks like that; I don't know why they are, but it appears they are. Sorry, but I can't give you only praise when I see actual problems.

On the other hand, I can see how someone might not want to do any work at all simply because they think I'll undo their work (as in fact I've threatened to do with Steve's Q&A version of our about page). That is no doubt a problem for some people (but I think most people are just lazy and would rather leave this difficult work to others :-) ).

Now, I can think of three solutions. (There must be others.) One is select a committed person(s) who will really take the lead in rewriting the pages; but it couldn't be just anybody, it would have to be a really good writer. If I were satisfied that a person really is a good writer for these sorts of pages, I'd be happy to just step back and let that/those person(s) go to work, resting content to comment just now and then (if you don't mind).

A second partial solution is Gareth's, but Gareth's solution doesn't really solve the big problem. The big problem (as I can tell you from spending probably over 100 hours trying to solve it) is beautifully coordinating all the pages, and just rewriting a few of them piecemeal is nice, but just one small part of a much bigger puzzle.

A third solution is for the community to tell me: Larry, give us all a few months to completely rewrite the pages; for whatever reason, we can't work with you making comments and giving advice. So, you are disallowed from making comments and giving advice, because frankly you scare us. Have a little faith, and we'll all get it right. Then, after we're done, you can edit our work. That sounds pretty appealing to me, but there is a very big problem with it. It is that, as I said, I think most people don't want to work on the community pages because that's actually really hard work (I ought to know), and most people just don't want to do it. So only a few people would end up doing any work. And, as a result, the only difference between solutions one and three is: the people who would be doing the work without my input would be self-selected. I don't like that idea, frankly, because there are some people who just aren't as good at writing as they think they are, and they don't understand CZ policy as well as they think they do...

Now, don't get me wrong. Even those people are, even now, perfectly free to edit (e.g.) the FAQ, the Editor's Role page, etc. I'm comfortable with that because at present I can correct mistakes on the fly. But if I'm disallowed from correcting mistakes, well, that makes me uncomfortable. It seems to me that if any person should be disallowed to correct mistakes, it shouldn't be the Editor-in-Chief.  ;-) At least, not if there is no other way to find and correct mistakes.

Anyway, I am still not seeing any actual proposal, and we're using this proposal page for discussion, however useful and interesting. So, as Proposals Manager pro tempore, and in view of the fact that the proposal has no driver and no next step, I am going to move the proposal record to CZ:Proposals/Discarded. Robert, or Gareth, if you can think of an actual proposal about how to improve our community pages (it wouldn't have to be a solution to Big Problem identified above), please lay it on us! I'll bet there's a great idea lurking about here. --Larry Sanger 14:53, 13 February 2008 (CST)