This page describes the fundamental importance of consensus for making decisions on the wiki, and provides recommendations on when and how to start a discussion about a proposed change.
One of the most important principles of the UESPWiki is that all decisions are made based on the consensus of the community. Discussions (either on the talk page of the page in question, or on the Community Portal for more general issues) are encouraged as a means for editors to exchange ideas about possible changes to the content or format of the wiki. All members of the community are welcome to contribute to these discussions.
On the other hand, the intent is not to make it prohibitively difficult to implement changes to the wiki. Most edits are not controversial and do not need to be discussed ahead of time. Even if a change does turn out to be controversial, the wiki software makes it very easy to revert a page to a previous version. In other words, editors should not feel paralyzed by an expectation that they need approval of the community before making any edits.
When Consensus is Needed
In some cases, a discussion should be started and consensus established before any changes are made. Unambiguous, definitive guidelines for what is likely to be controversial, or what is difficult to undo, are difficult to provide. Therefore, this is a decision that needs to be made on a case-by-case basis by each editor based on their best judgement. Some cases where consensus is generally needed beforehand are:
- A change that is likely to be controversial.
- In particular, if you are aware of a previous relevant discussion, and you wish to revise the established consensus, a new discussion should be initiated before making any changes.
- A change that requires edits to multiple pages or otherwise will be difficult to undo.
- Deletion of more than half of a page.
- A change to site policies, guidelines, or features.
When initiating a discussion some recommendations are:
- If the proposed change only affects a single page, that page's talk page is the appropriate place for the discussion. More widespread changes should generally be discussed on the Community Portal.
- If there is no feedback after a week, you can assume that nobody has any objections to the proposed change.
- Continue to monitor the discussion even after you make the edit. Some readers will only notice the change after it is implemented, so you may only receive feedback after you have made the change.
If you think that a change does not meet the above criteria (or if in doubt), go ahead and make the change. However, all edits are still subject to consensus approval; consensus can be established after a change is first made.
- Monitor the talk page afterwards (perhaps add it to your watchlist) to see whether anyone else has objections, feedback, or suggestions.
- If a discussion is started after the fact and you do not contribute to the discussion, a consensus can be reached without you, including the possible conclusion that your edit should be undone. The best way to prevent this from happening is to pay attention to the talk page.
- Do not assume that by completing a change you have a "fait accompli", or that your suggestion is otherwise more likely to be accepted just because it has been put in place. Responsible wiki editors will be prepared to undo or modify a change based on the community consensus, even after the fact.
If you notice another editor make a change that you feel is controversial, you can start a discussion about the change. It is best to assume that the original editor did not think that it would be a controversial edit. In most cases, deleting or reverting is not appropriate until after the issue has been discussed.
The only cases where content should be deleted without a discussion is in cases where content is clearly inappropriate (for example, it violates UESP policy or guidelines, or is contrary to already established consensus). The reasons for the deletion should be clearly stated in the edit summary.
A change that is left unedited or is not otherwise commented upon is assumed to implicitly have the community's consent. On the other hand, any issue can be reopened for discussion, even if a consensus was previously reached, if an editor feels that there is a need (for example, new circumstances).
In these discussions, all editors' opinions should be given equal weight. In particular, administrators do not have inherently greater authority than other editors. Because of their greater experience with the UESPWiki, administrators may have more knowledge of how content is currently organized on the site, or be able to refer to similar examples on other wiki pages. Therefore, administrators (and experienced editors) may be able to provide more support for their position. Their reasoning, rather than their status, may therefore cause their opinion to influence a discussion.
When participating in a discussion about a proposed change it is recommended that any editor:
- Always respect the wiki guidelines about civility.
- Focus on the issue being discussed; if other, related issues arise, it is generally better to start a separate discussion.
- Make an effort to provide the reasons for your position. By giving reasons, it becomes easier to reach a compromise, if necessary. Just stating that you prefer A over B does not help to convince others to share your opinion.
- If there is a disagreement, try to focus on finding a compromise, preferably one that allows everybody's top priorities to be satisfied.
- If a compromise cannot be reached, try asking other editors to contribute to the discussion. If you would like an administrator to provide input, a request can be made on the Administrator Noticeboard. Or you can try contacting other editors who have contributed to the page in question, for example, by leaving a message on their user talk page.
- Avoid turning a discussion into a vote: it is far better to find a solution that everyone likes than to simply impose a majority opinion. However, some decisions based purely on stylistic preference may not be amenable to a compromise solution.
If everyone involved in a discussion is agreeable, the Discord server can be used to discuss in real time, and often can allow a compromise to be reached more quickly. However, in many cases Discord is not appropriate (in particular if one member of the discussion would be excluded), and therefore should not be counted on. Also, any compromise that is reached should be summarized on the talk page for the benefit of other UESP editors.