Monday, 7 April 2008

Optional RfA questions

Inspired by a comment by JayHenry, I created the RfA cheatsheet. Basically, I HATE optional RfA questions. I can just about tolerate questions that actually require some thought to answer, and are about the candidate. What I hate are what I call "stock" questions - copy and pasted to every RfA. Examples are "What do you think of WP:IAR?" and "When should cool down blocks be used?" There are problems with lots of pointless RfA questions. Firstly, it puts unneeded pressure on the candidate. The questions are described as optional, but they aren't really. People will oppose. Secondly, good answers don't show anything. All they prove is that someone is an RfA regular, or read the recent archives of successful requests. People don't actually have to have read the policy to answer the question - just look at the RfA below for a perfect answer! Reword it a bit, and there you go! With this cheatsheet, I intend to spoil the users' who are obsessed with pointless RfA questions fun. By giving "perfect" answer guides in one easy place, there will be no need for useless questions anymore! Now don't get me wrong, I don't want ignorant admins, which is why I haven't actually written an answer (I'm an RfA regular, barely familiar with any policies when I wrote the guide, by the way). I've linked to the policies involved, and given hints and ideas on what and what not to say. For those who say it's a bad idea, it's no worse than reading a few recent successful RfAs. It's just in one neater page. Goodbye, optional questions!


Lar said...

I think most optional RfA questions are non useful, for the same reasons you do. And your cheatsheet maybe will puncture some of them. But (from your sheet)

What is your opinion on WP:IAR?

The first thing to realise is, that WP:IAR does not mean "Do whatever you like." Actually read the policy. It means, that if a rule is preventing you from doing something to improve the encyclopedia, break it. It is not a "get out of jail" card for breaking rules though. You must have some justification to break them, and be prepared to explain yourself. A very useful essay on ignoring rules is here. You can only really give your opinion on IAR when you fully understand what it is - when you do understand, you will be able to give an opinion that won't get you opposed.

That's an excellent answer you give, but it's not one that can be parroted back, it is advocating that the candidate actually think about what IAR means. I'd argue that the IAR question is a good one, at least until someone gives an easily parroted answer, right now it requires thought to answer and gives insight into the candidate's thinking. That probably won't last. :)

Personally, I like the silly questions better than the serious ones. My favourite one that I received (see my RfA was the one about Lir.

Anonymous said...

hehe good idea!

I'll try to browse some past RfA to see if I can find some other silly questions to debunk :)

(I definitely went through a few RfA before doing mine, in order to get prepared. And I'm sure almost everyone did)

Majorly said...

Lar: well as I said, they aren't really supposed to be answers as such, but more of a markscheme, especially on ones where the user has to give an opinion of some sort. The one that really gets to me is the cool down block one; if you don't know it, you're RfA is pretty doomed, but it is right in the middle of the blocking policy. And I'm sure I've said it before, but I never read a single policy before my RfA. Of course I did once I passed, but even so, the version from October 2006 is probably different to today.