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GuildWiki talk:Quietly deal with vandals

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+666 :O Cress Arvein 01:02, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Love it.Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 17:25, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Agree, stop by quickly banning. RT | Talk - RFA 06:35, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Sheesh, if this were a policy already, Marco wouldn't have had that whole problem. I have to agree this is a good idea. Entrea Sumatae.pngEntrea Sumatae [Talk] 23:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Move[edit source]

Wow. I've inspired policy discussions. It needs to be cleaned up and clarified a bit, I think, but obviously I approve of it as a policy. Move it, even if only for discussion. —JediRogue 19:22, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

LOL Turning this article into a policy will contradict itself.Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 04:04, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Why would it? I fail to comprehend. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 05:53, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Having a vandal policy is by itself giving vandals attention.Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 05:57, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Having a static vandal policy gives the subject of vandalism attention, but does not give individual vandals attention. Additionally, the goal of this policy isn't "to give zero attention to vandals at all", but rather "to minimize the attention given to the vandals". Individual vandals in the very recent past has received way more attention than if all the users here follow this proposed policy. Therefore the existence of this policy would reduce the level of attention vandals get, fulfilling its designed role. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 06:05, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
You're right. But still, users with common sense follow this already, and users without common sense won't follow it even with a policy telling them to.Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 06:13, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
At least half the users without common sense will still follow a policy in the future when it is pointed out to them after their first offense. That will be a huge improvement already. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 06:31, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I was once a vandal and I still admit it WAS fun, but i grew up. So just give them second chances you never know who'll come around. Yes i agree with this completely they come to get attention, by doing it quietly they lose all motivation to do it. --Holylorgor 06:33, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I get the strange suspicion that I might be on some people's minds Blue.rellik 06:35, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Controling them?Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 06:36, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
No, I meant one of the people this page is referring to. I do have the habit of getting into fights with vandals Blue.rellik 06:37, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I think this policy is a good idea, but the trol template might not be so good (people might think it's a joke) RT | Talk 06:38, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

(ri) The troll template is a remnant from when this was just something I was brainstorming on in my userspace. It is related but I don't think it belongs right on top. Anyway, I've been referring to this as GW:QDV assuming it becomes official. I still wanna touch up the wording on it... —JediRogue 07:39, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

What about GW:DEAL? RT | Talk 07:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I think GW:QDwV would be awesome :D. --Hellbringer loves emo slut druggies (T/C) 23:26, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
GW:DEAL is an easier name to remember for the average user in my opinion. I also support this policy, it makes a lot of sense --Shadowcrest 02:14, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

modifying and rewording[edit source]

The purpose of point 6 was to say that its none of your business if someone was banned. The ban should be between the admin and the person who was banned. If they were unjustly banned and want something done about it, they should be the one to contact an admin. I would assume that other admins would keep an eye on block logs to see if their fellows are abusing their power but the assumption is also that admins are chosen because they can be trusted. Point 8 contradicts this. I think that point 6 should be clarified so that it doesn't prevent people from pointing out an erroneous ban but also states where the discussion should occur and how. Basically, I think 8 and 6 need to be reworded for clarity. Thoughts?

I also feel like here it should be pointed out that policies need to be obeyed in spirit not to the letter. The purpose of this would be to remind that arguing over technicalities shouldn't be tolerated. —JediRogue 19:49, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, I trust my fellow admins, so I'm not gonna babysit their actions to see if they are abusing their power. On the other hand, admins are humans, and humans make mistakes. While I don't recall exactly, I most likely have erroneously banned someone in the history of GuildWiki. Point 6 says don't go into a big lengthy discussion, but it doesn't completely forbid ppl from talking about it. Point 8 says clearly and concisely explain at the admin notice board, and don't go into the nitty gritties. I think those are the focuses of points 6 and 8 (and the focuses themselves do not contradict each other even if the apparent wording might feel like it). Hope that helps you figure out how to reword things. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 20:58, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that it has to be noted that this policy is designed to deal with vandalism. If the account/IP who is banned is truly undeserving of the ban, then it shouldn't become an issue. I think I'll have to have a closer look at where GWW is having issues with their confusing admins and consider what (btw, someone in my ethics class as talking something about TOR and getting IPs easier? idk, warrents research. wanted to spit it out before i forget). ok, I'm gonna look at some dialogs here and on GWW and see if I can come up with a few use cases that should help refine this policy. —JediRogue 23:23, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Although I trust my fellow admins, I do make it a point to check on their actions via the Master Log anyways - but it is only because I need to know what is going on and what has happened recently in case any related incident should occur.
As to this policy - I support it, although I have some slight reservations about "Malicious vandals...are not stopped by warnings" (paraphrase). Now, obviously it's up to individual interpretation of just how bad "malicious" is, but I believe that should some user choose to give a (non-inflammatory) warning, they should not be penalized for it, or pointed to this policy as an example of why such actions are bad. A benign, non-trollish warning can only do good, even if it is "no good". If nothing else, it serves as a historical reference. Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 17:22, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Well I wasn't planning on banning anybody for breaking this policy, unless they start having a party on the vandal's talk page... Go ahead and reword stuff. My personal inclination is a 3-day ban won't do less good than a verbal warning when it comes to real vandals, and the ban's effect is more immediate. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 17:36, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The purpose of the policy is primarily to have a way to describe how we respond to vandalism. If it is iffy if it is unintentional or if its an IP/account that doesn't contribute only vandalism, then perhaps we can work out a warning. I don't like the idea of simply saying don't vandalize because it says to the vandal "we see what you're doing. its vandalism. you have our attention." So to say stop vandalizing would acknowledge that both the vandal and the person posting the warning already know its vandalism. It only gives too much attention to the vandal and the vandalism. This is really only to apply to what is obvious vandalism (ie, what happened to Jennalee's page). For cases of blanking or other things where it is possible that the perpetrator may not know any better or may not realize what they are doing, a warning worded carefully can still inform them without challenging. "Hi, you appear to have blanked such and such a page. Please be more careful with your edits because it can be construed as vandalism which is a bannable offense." In this way, innocent people get their warning, but a true vandal's crime is reduced to an accident or similar. It does not credit them as vandals but suggests that they don't know any better. Should this become a challenge, it will only serve to identify them as a true vandal which is easy to see how to deal with them, or stop them.
We can't truly stop them if they keep changing their ips and stuff. We can only make it so that there is no reward for them if they do it. If a person truly wants to make positive contributions to the wiki, then they can't hang around as vandals.
That being said, the reason for all bans should be clearly cited. Perhaps a simple policy which points out some obvious things which count as vandalism could be written. Like NPA, it could list simple issues which are considered vandalism so they can be sited. It doesn't have to go over the top.
Also, consider that a ban template could also be used as a warning. It doesn't speak to the vandal but is to speak to an admin. If we put it on their talk page, it comes to their attention and still serves as a notice. This does not dignify them with actual response but may well work. —JediRogue 18:37, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

...Alright, I rewrote this somewhat and I think it now reflects on what people have said. I believe it is ready to be moved to a full policy. Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 18:04, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Example of why this needs to become a policy[edit source]

[1] --Marcopolo47 signature new.jpg (Talk) (Contr.) 03:08, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

No, that's an example of why we should deal quietly with vandals.Ereanorsign.jpgreanor 09:51, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Awe MP, but then where will we get our kicks for the day if we aren't allowed to toy along with our vandals? Game of cat and mouse anyone? All kidding aside, I think this is a great implementation, and hopefully it will help out everyone on this wiki. Isk8.pngIsk8 09:59, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
<joke>If you really want to, and if GWW does not have a similar policy, then you can play with the vandals there. Until they decide to institute a similar policy that is. </joke> Get on an IRC channel with ops around, start swearing, and you'll get kicked. Don't tell them I send you there. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 10:19, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree that this should be an offical policy, and it would stop people breaking the GW:NPA towards vandals. --Warwick sig.JPG Warwick (Talk)/(Contr.) 12:15, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Abbreviation[edit source]

Since this is going to be a policy, I nominate "GW:QDV" Thoughtful Thoughtful Sig.png 14:10, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

or GW:QUIET. --- VipermagiSig.JPG-- (s)talkpage 14:37, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Or both.=p Thoughtful Thoughtful Sig.png 14:39, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

See also[edit source]

I think that we need an official definition of a troll on GWiki, even if it is just copy paste, but theres the we are not wikipedia policy (I do not know the acronym).--Gigathrash sig G.jpgìğá†ħŕášħTalk^Cont 05:45, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

GW:NOT--Marcopolo47 signature new.jpg (Talk) (Contr.) 05:48, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

needs clarifications on warning[edit source]

says jedirogue not logged in. also, when and where to point out violations of this policy. 06:47, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I personally don't think that we need clarification on this. Sysops have the tools required to enforce this when needed, and a simple reminder of this policy on a users talk page is always a good idea if someone seems to be encouraging a vandal with his actions. For example if one user would start a debate with a vandal I would throw a reminder on that persons talk page. If multiple users would start debating and trolling the talk page of the vandal user I would protect the talk page of that vandal user with a notice that includes a link to this policy.
This policy is not something that needs to be enforced, it's something that acts as a good guideline on dealing with vandals on the wiki, but being a policy allows sysops to enforce it in the rare case where it might be beneficial to the wiki to do so. -- Gem (gem / talk) 11:25, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, this is about on par with GW:SIGN in terms of "violations of this policy". It is mostly to serve as a warning and guideline; I doubt that we would ever have to ban someone for this. I think that whenever someone is acting in a manner which is not helping to deal with a vandal/troll, a message with a link to this page should be added to the user's talkpage. Don't put it on the vandal's talkpage since that isn't in keeping with this policy - ideally we should never have talkpages for vandals or trolls at all, less attention and all that.
"needs clarifications on warning." Could you clarify what you mean by this :) Do you mean warnings through the use of this policy, or warnings given to borderline vandals/trolls, or...something else? Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 05:47, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I think this page is the last conflicting rules example I saw. --Shadowcrest 05:49, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Lol. People think that the policy is there just to be a policy, not for a cause. Noting another user of this policy on the vandals talk page is just making the situation worse, not better. -- Gem (gem / talk) 19:40, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
If that is in any way a crack at me, I already apologized, as I didn't realize that this had become policy. Isk8.pngIsk8 19:46, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
It wasn't. --Shadowcrest 19:47, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Nope, not against you, it's actually more of a pun against gww people since the whole policy farce there. -- Gem (gem / talk) 23:38, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Warning[edit source]

For anything but the most massive attacks, I like to post a warning to the vandal's talk page to use the Sandbox for test edits or risk a ban, and believe that is in keeping with this policy. After this has been posted, there may be one more vandal edit, because the vandal may not be aware of the warning until that is saved, but if the vandalism continues, down comes the banstick - no further discussion, no fuss. I think that is the most lenient any admin is going to get, and many don't even bother with the warning. --◄mendel► 11:31, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm fine with warnings as long as they are not taunting or sound like "threats" which might end up being provoking and become counter productive. That said, there are situations where I wouldn't bother with warnings before banning for certain vandalism activities, though I would never punish any nicely worded warnings by others. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 00:45, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Whether I give a warning or not really depends on if I am in a good or bad mood. :\ Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 03:04, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
If I see one weird/stupid/wtf?/vandal-ish edit, I assume they just made a mistake and revert it, if they haven't self-reverted already. If I see a second one, I'll post a warning. —Dr Ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 03:24, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

define a vandal[edit source]

It occurs to me that from time to time we had disagreements over what constitutes a vandal. They mostly centered around what the putative vandal intended to do, i.e. what we knew about what was on his or her mind. This is a messy and rarely satisfying procedure. It would be better to define a vandal by his actions, rather than his mindset - that way, we'd have clear criteria that can be more fruitfully discussed.

The definition I offer is this:

A vandal is someone whose majority of edits does not improve the wiki, but creates work for others.

This definition covers the "obvious" vandal who posts spam or obscenties; but it also covers those who make meaningless changes to a number of pages. The criteria are clear: there must be a certain period of edits considered (if there is only one, then that one); if many (if not all) of them have been reverted or will be, that is a strong indication that we are dealing with a vandal. The amount of improvement or damage to the wiki, viewed over all of the putative vandal's edits over the time period in question, and the amount of work caused for others play a part in determining the sanction, which might range from a warning to a permablock. Intentions would only come into this as a secondary factor when weighing the severity of the deed.

What do you think? --◄mendel► 15:53, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Define majority. And obvious vandal is obvious, just slap a ban on it. One edit for that kind of vandal is enough. I'd say 3 edits for the less obvious kind of vandal. Arnout aka The Emperors Angel 18:20, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Majority means more than half. If half of somebody's edits are useful and improve the wiki, they aren't a vandal. Of course there may be differences if someone looks at the past day while someone else looks at the past month. --◄mendel► 18:53, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
A vandal is better determined by the mindset than actions as so many actions can be misinterpreted. Ariyen 20:24, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
The problem with that approach is that in order to determine the "mindset," you have to apply an interpretation to the actions, which (as you say) can be easily misinterpreted. (Unless you know how to establish a telepathic link to the vandal's mind and determine their mindset directly?) —Dr Ishmael Diablo the chicken.gif 20:50, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Intentional vandals are actually not that hard to spot. you have your pages created like the one that was just deleted. People wiping pages or parts of pages (Main pages and Main talk pages), people adding in gibberish or messages that's like Hi! I like this site! Now, if we want to go into more detail and start labeling more people who do some things differently than others - vandals - is not really giving them the benefit of the doubt or assuming good faith on them. I think sticking to the basic more obvious is better than trying to make things more strict and less fun. You can have too much that people will wiki-lawyer out of it or use it to hide behind. Or you can have not enough that people try to see what they can get by with. I think we have excellent admins here that have undone and do undo vandals and actually label it, in my opinion, correctly. Ariyen 21:16, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that most vandals are simple to spot, but I do remember having discussions with people like Maui and others about whether a certain edit was vandalism or, applying AGF, simple cluelessness. This sort of argument would not have happened with my suggested definition; and the upside is that not everyone tagged with this would necessarily be a "bad guy". Perhaps we need to call it something else than "vandalism", though.
My point (or rather, the point of my definition) is that well-intentioned "vandals" can be as much of a problem as intentional ones. Definining the behaviour itself as problematic could give those editors of good intentions a means to recognize that they're doing something wrong, and a way for others to tell them that they're doing it. --◄mendel► 21:54, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Your suggestion would be an attack on many users and not assuming good faith, which I feel it would clash with. Also, the point would well be missed and you would have people lashing out, wiki-lawyering, etc. Thing is, leave things alone. They're fine as they are. My concern with you is that you're intending on causing drama here. People, especially Tef, Jink, Gilgathrash, Felix, Ish, and others handle these "well-intentioned vandals" (no such thing really, either it's an intentional vandal or not) as contributors that are not vandals, but users who help. At least we should be thankful that any user helps, even a little bit, but as I have said there are other ways of handling things, but you either take it too far to one extreme or go this way and that seems like contradiction. Please, respect. That's what we need to do to users who have good intentions as it shows us using good faith on them and knowing they do use good faith, but helping. This suggestion to me goes against that and I feel against the spirit of what a friendly wiki should be. I know personally that part of this feels like an attack on me for some things I do and an attack on some other users as well as Ips. I don't know if you don't mean this or if you do, but I wish that you would reconsider your suggestion and proposal. I think the Rask deal was handled well, as he was a problem that only caused issues with his edits, like using an ip to mess up one of ish's personal pages. We do have check user and I think that works well for those that have it and use it against any intentional vandal. Ariyen 22:07, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Your suggestion would be [..] not assuming good faith -- the nice thing is that faith doesn't come into it. Also, users who help the wiki are, by definition, not affected. --◄mendel► 22:19, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Taking things out of context? It would be assuming that users who may be "unintentional vandals" as "vandals" that's not assuming good faith on the users. Faith should come into it when we consider people's edits. this would go against that. I can say that if it doesn't "come into it", then you would have many users wiki-lawyering and more problems and strains than what I feel this wiki would need. It needs participants, this might possibly scare that away, but I have done said all of this in that WoT. Did you miss it while taking some things out of context? Ariyen 22:25, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I think, mendel, you should be more subtle when labeling Ariyen as a vandal. I'm going to count this one as a 'clever violation of NPA' in my mind, anyone else who alike or otherwise is entitled to their opinion. That being said, users who just kick up indirect drama about other users do not improve the wiki, and should be banned. It is also ironic that one of the least quiet ways to talk about this is being done on a page titled "quietly." ∵Scythe∵ 20:35, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Are you saying Ariyen acts like this? I'd say you're the one being personal, then. --◄mendel► 21:54, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

voice of opposition[edit source]

(Reset indent)

I strongly disagree. (a) Our admins already act to remove this type of disruption. (b) This definition of vandal is misleading and more subject to interpretation than would be helpful. (c) Lots of contributors cause more work for others, but that doesn't make them vandals.

A vandal is someone who deliberately sets out to sabotage the wiki. Often their motivations are financial (spam), amusement (trolling), or disruption (child-like personalities, folks with poor-impulse control, and those who just finished their first beer). It's about causing meaningless work, not about causing work.

We don't design policies to handle the interesting exceptions; we write them to cover most circumstances and then we (through our admins) refuse to let people use the loopholes. How well we do this depends largely on the capabilities of our admins, which is why it's important to select them for having good judgment, not just good skills. — Tennessee Ernie Ford (TEF) 01:45, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree that this policy change may presently be useless here, and that violators should not be called vandals.
This change isn't designed to "handle interesting exceptions"; it is designed to put certain administrative acts, including some of those addressed right now as "disruption", on a firm, non-arbitrary basis. If we can find a better name for them, that would be an added bonus: there is no stigma or negative connotation attached to violation of 1RV or NPA, because the policy title simply states the rule that one has violated; QDV calls you a "vandal", thus insulting you, instead of limiting itself to telling you what you did wrong. If we do not have to ask ourselves "is it ok to insult this guy" when applying policy, but rather can ask "did he do what the policy says we should not", things get more reasonable, less arbitrary, and more simple to discuss.
The idea also provides extra reasoning for the "quietly" part: because we don't want to create even more work in dealing with the problem.
If someone made 10 edits, all of which needed to be reverted or rewritten because by themselves, they made the article worse, wouldn't that be a problem we need to adress? Why would we rather have it adressed on admin discretion than on a policy basis? Admins expose themselves: when dealing with problem users, they expect attacks for their actions (which is why some admins shy back from doing this kind of work), and having a solid policy backup can be a big help.
The policy would still require some good judgement to apply. --◄mendel► 08:07, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
My question is this, would you want this done to you, if you do or have insulted people by personally attacking them? Just put in questions like that in your head might help... In my opinion, It's basically wrong, because even though someone may have personally attacked another, shouldn't give the wiki it's self to attack that user by calling them a vandal, which in so many words in my opinion is what this would do. It would create wiki-lawyering, it would conflict with npa policy. If someone clearly attacked another and violated NPA, then they should be reprehended. If someone 1rred, discuss that, if they do it again on that page, block them. Maybe we ourselves should question when one does a revert that we disagree with - to just take it to the talk. Sometimes, things like that can solve problems better and easier than other ways... Also, maybe have courtesy to give a notice on their talk and the reason for this is, many may not always have their talks on their watch list, etc. No one can really know on that and so it's better to be respectful and notify, than to assume and just discuss without really knowing if you have that person's knowledge of said discussion (em, rather the discussion on talk page of user's edits) or not. A good bit of what some problems, in my opinion, tend to be is assumptions. If we can solve our assumptions, then that might help. It reminds me of a quote, "He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever." - Chinese Proverbs. Would we rather thirst our knowledge, or not? Ariyen 09:05, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
In fact, this policy would be designed solely to address interesting exceptions because the number of situations to which it could possibly apply are so few (especially here). How often does someone make 10 edits all of which need to be reverted? When it does happen, how often is the situation similar to an earlier instance? How likely is it that we would invest those hours in crafting a usable/fair policy (or guideline) that wouldn't, in the end, require the sysop making a judgment call anyhow?
When I think of recent situations (on this wiki and others) involving ppls who have had upwards of 10 edits reverted within a short period...they are all exceptional. For example: misunderstandings (of policy/lore|culture|trivia|per-wiki-issue/code) that led to multiple edits across several articles, each of which attempted to fix what wasn't broken. Or gung ho-ism that resulted in enthusiastic changes to make things better, but most ppls thought they were worse. I can't think of any single policy appropriate to all of the instances. On some wikis, there's no patience: 10 strikes and your out. On others, ppls attempt(ed) to work with the individuals, to various degrees of success.
In the end, it's a matter for sysop discretion...even if (and perhaps especially if) we had a relevant policy. And, if we don't trust our sysops to handle stuff like this, we should find other sysops... or at least, publicly discuss why it is we don't trust them.
In short, I'm still vehemently opposed: it doesn't happen often enough...and when it does, it's going to require a judgment call.  — Tennessee Ernie Ford (TEF) 10:04, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd have to say I'm slightly opposed to this. This policy does sorta lump trolls and "disruptive" users into the same category, but the simplest interpretation of the policy (just the name) is unambiguous: if it's a vandal, deal quietly. --JonTheMon 14:22, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I've kind of realized that if the idea is going to float, the policy needs more rewriting than just that definition, and it also needs a neutral name. --◄mendel► 20:10, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
You don't share my view that policies aren't made because we don't trust sysops, they're made to back them up with community confidence. You also don't share my view that it's better to give people policy guidance instead of admin discretion. And you also didn't acknowledge my concession that this wiki may not need this now.
You could argue that every "policy violation" and every block is an "interesting exception" compared to the volume of edits on the wiki - we could just stay with "Don't be a dick" as our only policy and trust the sysops. Having a policy that is more specific than that and yet flexible enough to allow admins discretion is a boon, not a liability.
Your focus on "let's trust sysops" is either a straw man (because I take this trust in the admin's judgement as a given as well), or I don't get what you're after. --◄mendel► 20:10, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Hmmn. I disagree with your extension of my argument to mean every interaction with sysops is an interesting exception. I mean that we should craft policies and guidelines to handle things that happen frequently. For the one-offs (which I fully believe this to be), there's no earthly way to cover all bases.
Yeah, it helps sysops to have a tangible support mechanism, but not every situation requires written backup. Moreover, I believe it's bad to even attempt to cover everything.
In other words, if your ultimate intent is to re-evaluate the wiki's policy on when and how should sysops intervene, I can imagine that might be useful. The situation you describe at the outset, however, is too specific and too rare.
Another take on this would be to say:
  • We expect our sysops to be proactive and reactive in dealing with disruption.
  • We define disruption to include the obvious (vandalism, adverts, personal attacks, ...), the subtle (trolling, baiting, wikilawyering), and the accidental (those who mean to be helpful, but aren't).
  • We choose our admins to recognize disruption in all its forms and to react appropriately:
    • Reverts and bans for the obvious.
    • Warnings & education for the subtle.
    • Education and training for the accidental.
    • To adapt as they recognize when accidental has devolved into intentional/subtle, when subtle has devolved into the obvious.
I would probably fiddle a lot with the phrasing above (and separately include examples), but it conveys my overall take of how I'd like to see sysops behave and give them enough written backing that they don't have to check with the community before acting assertively.
I would expect some decisions/actions/reactions to be questioned and that we would discuss them and that the sysops would learn from such experience. This is a small and mostly tight enough community that I don't think we need anything more. — Tennessee Ernie Ford (TEF) 21:26, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
We have different problems in mind that this might be used to solve. I'm not sure how to convey this, though. --◄mendel► 21:33, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
How about calling this idea the Work Mitigation Directive, shortcut GW:WMD? --◄mendel► 20:49, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

What defines a vandal[edit source]

"It occurs to me that from time to time we had disagreements over what constitutes a vandal. They mostly centered around what the putative vandal intended to do, i.e. what we knew about what was on his or her mind. This is a messy and rarely satisfying procedure. " (Original (partial) quote from Mendel.)

The operative phrase for me here is, from time to time. I don't see rare events as evidence that something is broken; I am, therefore, not sure what Mendel sees that needs fixing. I presume from Mendel's last comment before this that he does see a substantive issue.

My best guess at what this might have been was that we don't have a standard definition about what constitutes disruptive behavior and what constitutes the appropriate measured/graduated response to different types. Accordingly, that was the problem I tried to solve in my last comment above.

@Mendel: could you restate the issue that you see? (If possible, without using the word vandal.) Thanks.  — Tennessee Ernie Ford (TEF) 01:02, 4 June 2011 (UTC)