The Wiki Fire talk:Code of Ethics

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[edit] Mood

  • I guess the most imporant question for me at this point is, should The WikiFire aim to be encyclopedic like Wikipedia is? On Wikipedia subjective statements are fair game to be removed, but at least one editor on WikiFire has indicated that opinions are fine, and that the subjectivity of information is not ground for it to be disincluded. I'll add something to the "Mood" section, but just as a starting point. I hope other people will help work out an answer to this question.


  • I feel like subjectivity is one of the elements of this site that will have to somehow be judged on a case-by-case basis. This site does not have the same goal that Wikipedia has, I don't think. The truth is as the heart of the site, but "truth" here means "true" student opinion. I feel like the site should be an accurate portrayal of how students define their school and community. So we are not creating an encyclopedia the way Wikipedia is, we are creating an encyclopedia of student emotion and sentiment. But that is just how I see it. If others would like to see it go a different way, it can and should be up for debate. Please, let's get more voices on this. — Tfooq 04:19, 9 May 2007 (CDT)


  • Even wikipedia allows opinion in a form, it's possible to express opinion and stay objective. If the page details popular positions held by the student body / staff, and the author makes an attempt to record all those positions we go from a biased article to a thorough article. I think it's when an article only expresses one opinion that the truth gets skewed. — Mattbaker 10:13, 9 May 2007 (CDT)
  • I agree with Tom on the case-by-case thing. As far as I've seen, though, articles have been monitoring themselves pretty well--someone will say a one-sided thing, and someone else will add the other side. Having biased opinions is okay as long as we have a variety of biased opinions, I figure. -deana

[edit] Policy on people

I just have this nagging feeling that TWF needs to pre-emptively have more of a policy with respect to pages and statements about specific people. I sandboxed a draft of such a policy at User:Blahedo/Policy on people; please edit and comment. (Note also that this policy really ought to apply even to people not specifically "members of our community"....) /blahedo (t) 21:27, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

[edit] "Thoughts"

The following text is basically discussion, so I moved it off the main page. /blahedo (t) 02:47, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

  • We should make available the Creative Commons license that prevents the use of the materials for commercial purposes. This will encourage people (I'm thinking photographers) to contribute without fear that anyway can just take anything and make money off of it.-afitz
  • The reason I made it completely free is so publications, which are commercial, will be able to use the information. I feel like free information should mean free information. A photographer's incentive, therefore, could be recognition. There is no rule against putting a credit to the photographer in the caption, or, let's say, a link to his/her photo Web site.-tfooq
  • Well of course free information is free information, as it is free information by definition no doubt. It just seems that we run the risk of limiting content when we don't allow people to say "Hey, I'm sharing this with all of you, you just can't sell it or make money off it." While the probability that someone looking for stock art or something runs across a Wiki image and takes it and uses it is fairly low, it would make me feel better (if nothing else) if I had the option to say "Hey, you can use this for personal use, but you can't use it commercially." I would certainly contribute more if this were the case. People are still going to use the images whether or not it's legal, I guess the point is if someone really uses an image, then legally I would be protected and I could make them stop using it. I'd rather put up my own stuff and make it high quality rather than someone swiping it from somewhere, putting up a low quality image, and then attributing it to someone else (which has already happened on here.) Just my thoughts. Oh, and most photographers consider name recognition on things like this to be pretty worthless.-afitz
  • This is a good conceptual and theoretical debate. It cuts to the core of the free information movement. We should get more thoughts on this.Tfooq 02:51, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

[edit] Deleting pages

So, I've been poking around on WikiMedia, learning more about Wikis in general. It seemed like the whole Fag/Faggot page issue would be a good test case to sort out TheWikiFire's conventions for deletion--ie What kind of pages can be deleted without discussion, how long discussion should be allowed to procede before action is taken, etc. GreatHeights 15:12, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from Tfooq's user talk page

I agree. There are some pages that could hardly have a place. I would say that they might some day be able to have a place if it so,e how came up in campus conversations and debate (see "Jesus Fucking Christ"), but as it is now, it is just mean. Does that sound reasonable? We should add a section to the code of ethics.Tfooq 15:16, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from GreatHeights's user talk

Sounds good to me. Do we want to use Wikipedia's guidelines for how long to allow discussion on a page proposed for deletion as a starting point? Or do we just want to start from scratch? BTW, I'm working on getting up some templates for things like proposing deletion, merger, etc. GreatHeights 15:20, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from Tfooq's user talk page

Also, are you thinking that, regarding the specific pages in question that we should go ahead and delete them without discussion? I'm personally not opposed to that. I just wanted to make sure that some sort of discussion regarding deletion got started. GreatHeights 15:21, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from Tfooq's user talk page

I don't know who I was responding to either, since they didn't sign their comment. I have a tendency to want to "clean up" and organize, and that's why I was deleting some of the superflous pages and redirects. After someone questioned it though, I stopped to think about it, and realized that, like you said, there was really no harm being caused by those pages and no need to delete them. It also prompted my interest in establishing some guildines for deleting pages on TheWikiFire. GreatHeights 15:58, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from Blahedo's user talk

That's cool, man. I just don't see any reason those deserve articles, but I see no problem with setting proper precedent.--Ocarina 20:56, 17 May 2007 (CDT) - moved here from GreatHeights's user talk

[edit] "Obscene" images

The issue of typically-considered "obscene" images was bound to come up, so we should have a conversation about it now so we can come up with a guideline of some kind. It somewhat started with the lemonparty image, but has been brought into the realm of potential legitimacy on the Jesus Fucking Christ article. A user has uploaded an obscene cartoon, and I deleted it because A: It was probably copyrighted and B: it did not bring much to the Knox discussion table. However, that user then brought a counter-argument that I thought was valid enough to bring to the table. The idea that being offensive, or maybe not, is at the heart of this campus-wide debate. And I should not be the decision-maker. I will copy User:Mantique's couter-argument below. Please lend any thoughts to the matter.Tfooq 21:23, 24 May 2007 (CDT)

It's o.k. ...really. This is in no way libelous. It is a useful graphic illustration of the contraversy. Wiki fire should not be in the buisness of deciding what is and is not 'suitable' . More precisely, *you* should not be in that buisness. This is a democratic space -- at the very least, give some time and discussion before making hegemonic decisions. Or, better, we can just let the fucking FCC make the decisions for us. User:Mantique

I think in general, this is another area that's going to have to be a case by case judgement call. I agree that in most cases, we should make use of the Talk pages and to leave it open for discussion before something is removed. But in the end, someone has to make a decision. And in some cases, though maybe not this one, it may be so obvious that discussion isn't warranted. GreatHeights 08:58, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

Ok, well, now I've seen the cartoon, and...come on. I don't see how this is in any way a "useful" graphic representation of the controversy. A useful graphic representation would be a picture of the cover of the Flunk Day TKS. This is just a dirty cartoon that has nothing to do with the actual issue. And I'm sorry, but I have to question the sincerety of anyone claiming that said cartoon is useful or needed. It serves no purpose other than to fan the flames of controversy. I also think at some point we can use our common sense to know that a pornographic cartoon of a religious figure is patently offensive (I would venture to say that was the intent of the cartoonist, unless you can explain to me some subtext that I'm missing). I still stand by my above comments about generally letting a discussion ensure before removing questionable things. But I disagree with the idea that the editors should 'never' use their judgement to decide if something is "suitable". Tom, I think you made the right call in this case. Sorry this is so verbose. GreatHeights 09:20, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

Well, I think it brings up an interesting decision that we need to work out. Sure, I agree that this image does not bring anything to the table (and it's probably copyrighted), but who should govern what is and is not appropriate? I think we definitely need to define this. I will do some research on what other sites are doing and bring some idea. Everyone else should, too, because this issue is not going to go away.Tfooq 19:15, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

Well, I think it is appropriate to ban pornographic images. I realize that the definition of pornography is a bit subjective, but I think at the very least images of people engaged in sex acts is a good line to draw, including cartoons. I mean, I'm not prude here, I'm not even a Christian, but that image offended me if only because its only possible purpose is to offend. GreatHeights 14:41, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Let us not take ourselves too serously here. Why draw an arbitrary line at people engaged in sex acts? I mean, why not go a bit further and ban the discussion of sex acts or using dirty words? "Offensiveness" or "obscenity" is far too subjective a realm to really have much use in a democratic space. Lible is one thing( as is copyright). It is a legal convention which can be clearly defined without getting into too much grey territory. And further, it (libel) can genuinely damage the reputation...or whatever...of a person. Something deemed simply 'offensive' is entirely abstract. To be honest, I don't give two fucks one way or another--I just don't want to write a paper right now-- It is a silly cartoon which I found to be amusing and used inorder to illustrate the contraversy. That is, by adopting a Hullet-esq reactionary stance, you, mr. great heights, are participating in said illustration. "Fanning flames of contraversy" is a useful action. Wikipedia is perhaps the best thing that the interent has going for it. It is a free and egallitarian manner of distributing information.This site, however, is not Wikipedia and should not try to be. If we opporated by the rules governing Wikipedia, this site would in no way give an accurate representation of Knox College. If we got all bent out of shape every time some lumpen did something we didn't argee with and told said lumpen that he or she couldn't do whatever they were doing, then this would not be a very fun or creative place. A case in point: when the army recruiters came last fall, we didn't tell them to leave. Myself and a few friends simply set up a "Start up the Draft" table next to them and kept as straight a face as possible. Some students understood our satyrical action; some didn't (those who didn't were generally squares who took themselves too seriously). The recruiters seemed uncomfortable and have yet to return. Wikipedia is in some respects a useful model (see the entery on the Armenian Genocide), but attempting to make this page a dry, objective encyclopedia (as great hieghts seems to advocate) with pseudo-victorian standards of decency and modesty will undermine its potential. ...ok...I'll shut up now. I should really get to that paper. Talk is cheap.


Ok, first of all, I don't think my response was reactionary, nor am I advocating any "psuedo-victorian" standards of decency. I was simply obliging Tfooq and offering my opinion on the issue at hand. While fanning flames of controversy may be a useful action, I don't think it was in this case. My impression from everything I've read and heard about the situation is that the controversy had been quite adequately fanned, and I simply didn't think that the cartoon added anything whatsoever to the discussion of the TKS article. It only served to potentially reignite tensions that were being dealt with on campus. For the most part, as I noted above, I think potentially offensive material should be left for discussion until some sort of consensus can be reached. However, we don't leave every text edit up for discussion when it doesn't seem to add anything useful, so why do we have to do that for a graphic? So far, you are the only person who seems to think that this edit was inappropriate. GreatHeights 15:50, 28 May 2007 (CDT)


I think this discussion is perfect. What does the site want to be? It should be fun. It should push people. It should challenge conventions. I get very sick of "obscene" things getting edited. I want the full story, even if it bothers me. I don't see why the Wiki Fire can't do that. When copyright and libel issues are involved (or anything that would hurt an individual or group), there is no discussion. Whatever it is should come down. However, when we are dealing with issues of taste, there should be a discussion. If the TKS headline issue had been a discussion, this whole thing would not have been blown out of proportion. There is a valuable conversation and debate hidden there, but people on both sides of the debate (myself included) went the blow off steam route instead of talking about it. Had that cartoon not been copyrighted, there is a very interesting discussion to have. What "brings something to the table" and what does not is as subjective as anything. However, this site would go straight down the holes if there was just porno everywhere. So, I don't have the answer, but I feel like this is getting somewhere.Tfooq 16:07, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

[edit] Blocking users

So we have had a couple spam messages on the main page talk already. I just blocked the IP of the last user. Should this be standard behavior for sysops, or does that set a dangerous precedent? Tfooq 18:46, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

I think that if any reasonable person would determine that a person is spamming or doing massive vandalism (the penis/deleter guy) they should be blocked, no questions asked. --Afitz 21:16, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Not so fast amigos y amigas. Each computer on Knox's network does not have a unique "outside" IP address. By blocking any non-registered user you are potentially blocking many people, and not even necessarily blocking the person doing the vandalism in the first place. Anonymous users with ip's originating from Knox cannot and should not be blocked. If this means requiring registration so be it. Existing blocks should be removed from the ip's originating from Knox since there's a good chance you banning perfectly legitimate users.

Blocking non-Knox IP's is much safer, and important in the case of spammers who don't even know what Knox is (it's probably a bot anyway). If we need control over such things within the realm of the student body then registration will have to be required. You could take it one step further, tying registration to Knox email addresses would force accountability on the part of the author but would wreck anonymity, so I'm not convinced taking it that far is a good idea. -Matt

i'm not saying permanently block an ip. but what happened a couple of fridays ago could have been prevented if we had just blocked the ip, even if for a half hour until the user got bored. then we unblock it later. or we could just let them reek havoc. --Afitz 21:57, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

I agree, blocking an ip for a half hour could save time in the instance of mass vandalism. One needs to be sure to remember to unblock the ip afterward, though. --Ocarina 22:01, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

The issue we were discussing was blocking the IP of an off-campus Internet Spammer. Matt brings up a good point about blocking Knox IPs, and I think we are all in agreement with how to act in that situation (e.g. if intense vandalism, block until they get bored, then unblock). However, in the case of a non-Knox IP writing obvious spam (e.g. a bot), then just straight up blocking it shoudl not cause problems. All blocking does is prevent them from editing, anyway. If a mistake is made, they can always e-mail the editor and get it fixed. Tfooq 13:50, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

[edit] users involved in controversey

If you look at the Talk:Jesus Fucking Christ page, you will see some comments made by me in my role as editor of TKS. I think there are key points missing to that page that could go a long way towards healing the situation instead of driving people further apart. However, I also realize that I am in no way the right person to be making those changes as I am at the very center of this controversy. I feel comfortable with revealing my involvement on the talk page and adding my thoughts that way, but I think we, the Wiki Fire users, should come up with a good plan of action for future situations similar to this one. We can probably use this situation as a good case study and decide exactly how someone involved in a controversy can get their thoughts out there without changing content directly. Or maybe those people's thoughts do not belong anywhere on this site. What do you all think? Tfooq 12:24, 9 June 2007 (CDT)


It's a tough line to walk when you're involved in a controversy, especially one like the JFC headline. You're right in that you're not the right person to be making those changes to the content of the Jesus Fucking Christ page and the TKS Hearing page. But the reality, perhaps unfortunately, is that your thoughts are central to the story. This is a lot like the discussions we had in the TKS office when we were deciding how to cover the Flunk Day controversy. I think the best thing to do is be as transparent as possible.

That's why I like the idea of using the talk pages. Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't the purpose of having talk pages and UserTalk pages so this sort of discussion can happen? Yes, if you were to change the content of the JFC page directly, that would be bad, but using your own UserTalk page or the JFC talk page to get your thoughts out there is not a problem, in my humble opinion. Then, users can see the talk pages and decide whether they think it's appropriate to put it on the main page.

Just my $.02

Bill M. 13:13, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

[edit] Pages about courses

It is a good thing to have pages about courses at the school. However, we should come up with some guidelines because some problems could/will arise. For example, we must be careful about students frustrated with a course using these pages to review the course or to let off steam. However, reviews of courses could be very useful to the school to bring an end to those classes at Knox that are just terrible (they do exist). So where should the lines be? We need to nail this down before classes start. Tfooq 14:45, 23 June 2007 (CDT)

Well, the three course pages that I wrote (I think they're the only ones up - ART 119, PS 362, and PS 363) all use a basically identical format. I think it's best to maintain the sections like I wrote them, with more or less objective information about the class, the format, and so on, including a description of where the actual format differs from that suggested in the catalogue or on the syllabus. I think a separate section at the end, titled "Reviews" or something, and organized more or less like a talk page, might be the best way to allow people to give their opinions without having it interfere with the class description. Camozzi 18:06, 23 June 2007 (CDT)

I like the idea of the "Review" section. It would adequately provide a place for subjective impressions of the class, which are both useful and totally inline with the overall spirit of TWF, while at the same time keeping it distinct from the objective information about the class, which I think is necessary for transparencies sake. It might be worth it to set up a template for Course pages to establish this format. I was also thinking something similar would be useful for the pages for Theatre shows. Just something to keep the site consistent. I just haven't got the hang of template making yet, or I'd set them up myself. GreatHeights 11:25, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

  • I think Jake's on the money here. The WikiFire, unlike Wikipedia, is not so much a source of information but rather a way for an institution to reflect on itself. This is how Knox sees Knox. And that includes courses. Course reviews would be incredibly useful, both to current and prospective students.
  • I'm not sure what to do about the problem of people venting, though. It's a tough thing. For example, a bad teacher can ruin a potentially great course. But how far do we let it go? I'm inclined to say we don't allow personal attacks against teachers, but that's a gray area, as well. How do we keep the reviews constructively critical (of both professor and course)?
  • And I guess that brings up another point. As I said, a bad professor can ruin a potentially good course. How do we deal with the potentiality of students using the course review pages as a place to attack teachers?

Bill M. 15:24, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

I think that it might be useful to encourage students to make specific criticisms of courses; instead of writing "Professor X was boring," write something like "Professor X gave lectures based off of powerpoint slides for every class, which was boring." Specific comments will probably be the most useful for students and also for faculty who want to improve their courses. Students should also remember that faculty will be able to see reviews and that this isn't a completely anonymous medium. --Stockholm syndrome 16:27, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

And if nothing else Brian's current creations allow a place for students to fill in the texts used for the course so that we can get them ahead of time. --Afitz 00:52, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

I agree that we should create a template. These course pages are a lot faster to create with a set structure already in place (PS 101 is up now, too, by the way). As for dealing with poor quality criticism, I think the best we can do is add a little italicized admonishment to the beginning of the reviews section, saying something along the lines of "This section is designed to allow previous students to post opinions about the quality of the class, for the benefit of others who might be considering taking the course. When adding a comment, please specify the term you took the course and the name of the instructor. Try to be as specific as possible about what you did and did not like. Constructive criticism, both of the material and the professor, is encouraged, but personal attacks will be removed. Do not overwrite others' comments. You may automatically sign your comment using four tildes (~~~~) if you like." Something like that - it might not hurt to shorten it a little, if we can. Camozzi 01:12, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

Okay, I took a stab at writing a template for courses. You can look at it at User_talk:Camozzi#Sample_Courses_Template. I tried to be pretty restrictive with it, so that the class pages would be, in objective information, as uniform in format as possible. The italicized parentheses thing might be a little difficult to parse out for somebody trying to use the template, but that can be fixed later. What do y'all think? Camozzi 02:33, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

Not to hog the talk page, but you can see the Reviews section in action at a new course page, ANSO 300. Camozzi 05:37, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

Looks good. My only concern is with potential copyright issues by suggesting that people copy and paste the course description from the Knox site. Any suggestions? GreatHeights 10:04, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

  • I just wanted to add that I've taken a look at some of the course pages, and the template looks GREAT. I think that the course pages might be one of the best examples of the potential of TWF, and I also think that the way the concept was developed through this discourse was pretty sweet too. Good work. GreatHeights 10:14, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm glad you like the template and pages. As for the copyright thing, I don't pretend to know a whole lot about copyright law, but we cite and link to the source and our use is noncommercial and all that. The use seems to me to be pretty fair. Camozzi 16:17, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

PHIL 202 and ANSO 102 are up. These are my stab at dealing with classes that have different formats depending on who teaches them. Also, somebody else should start making some of these, because I'm going to run out of classes I've taken pretty soon, and at the very least it would be a good field test of the template. Camozzi 18:04, 26 June 2007 (CDT)

Okay, folks. All the courses I've taken that I still have current information on are posted. Go look at them. Then go make your own for courses you've taken. They're not too hard: once you get a little ways along the learning curve you can pound one out in 15-20 minutes. Camozzi 06:05, 29 June 2007 (CDT)

I am not a fan of the course descriptions being copied not so much for copyright reasons (though the school does own them) but more because it would be a lot more useful if the courses were defined by students anyway. Sometimes the Knox descriptions are terrible. If you have to use the course description, you should make sure it's very obvious that it's a quote from the site. As far as reviews go, let's remember that our faculty are professionals and that it will be more tempting for students who are angry to write things than for others to. I know that consensus should take care of this, but these areas should be watched with special care keeping this in mind. Tfooq 23:11, 29 June 2007 (CDT)

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