Critical Role Wiki
Critical Role Wiki

This is a statement released by the team of administrators of the Critical Role Wiki.

19th of August 2021, 23:03 UTC+0

To all editors of the Critical Role Wiki,

On Tuesday the 10th of August 2021 we promised to release a statement regarding the events of the last weeks, especially Monday, the 9th of August. Drafting this statement took a little longer than was anticipated or desired, and we appreciate your patience and understanding.

First, a quick explanation about this statement. This is a long statement, and given the logistics of writing statements in a group is hard, the following should be taken into account: it was drafted by one admin (Dexcuracy) and therefore this statement may alter between using ‘we’ and sometimes ‘I’ to make reading and writing this statement easier. However, this statement was vetted, discussed, and approved by all admins, and therefore it can be regarded as the official position of the entire admin team. All times and dates in this statement are in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC+0).

Secondly, the goal of this statement is to explain our side of what happened, how we interpreted it and our opinions on the questions raised. We don’t expect this statement to answer all the questions you may have, but we do expect this statement to answer all the questions that were put forth publicly.

§ 1: What happened?

This section is written with the goal to be as objective as possible and to set up a timeline of events. It will not go into subjective reasoning behind administrator actions, which will be the topic of the next section.

In the months June and July 2021, multiple posts were made in the Discussion section of the Critical Role Wiki. Some of these posts did not receive a comment from a wiki admin. On the 29th of July 2021, an inquiry was made into why the wiki doesn’t have anonymous editing enabled. This post received some support from other users, but no admin response. This resulted in the same user writing the discussion post “Request to increase the number of administrators” on the 6th of August 2021, which cited the previous facts as the main issue and made its titular request.

This post prompted a discussion between me (Dexcuracy) and LynnE216 later that day in the admin-only Discord channel. As mentioned in the “Administrator recruitment” post, we had discussed this subject in the past, and discussed it again that day. We both agreed we are still open to the idea. In addition, we talked about how we view the role of admins: whether it is to be expected that an admin comments on all discussion posts, and our policy going forward in that department, which will be a topic later in this statement. We talked about the initial reason to disable anonymous editing in April 2021, which we agreed was the right decision. We agreed that Lynn would post a brief explanation in the hopes that it would settle the matter.

In the following days, one user would go on to put forth an argument against the decision over three posts totalling nearly 2 000 words. It contained the arguments that anonymous editing was disabled because an admin didn’t agree with the content of anonymous edits. They argued that this disagreement was unreasonably biased. The last of these posts, made on the 10th of August, ended up being removed for breaking the wiki’s rules. This removal resulted in another post being made by a different user, arguing that admins removing a critical post “isn’t a good look Lynn” and indicated “an administrator abusing their power.” The comment was not made to the team of administrators, but to a single, named administrator and assumed that the previous post was removed because the admin disagreed, not because the previous post broke the wiki’s rules. This post was also removed for breaking the wiki’s rules. Afterwards, Lynn made a post on the Discussion forum reminding people of certain wiki rules. It should be noted that at the time all these events took place, Lynn was the only administrator online and her attempts to contact other admins to handle this situation together failed because they were either asleep or otherwise unavailable.

Some users would put forth concerns about the removal of these posts later that day to the Fandom Wiki Representative assigned to our wiki. Discussions between users and the representative fall outside the scope of responsibilities of the admin team and therefore will not be a part of the summary of events from our side. If you, the reader of this statement, want to read these discussions for your own context, they are linked below.

All the above events of the 10th of August are the main reason for this statement.

Below are linked articles referenced in this summary, both directly and indirectly, as well as articles not referenced in this summary but which will be answered in the next sections:

[1]: “Working toward some new boilerplate templates”, (2021-07-29)
[2]: “Anonymous Editing”, (2021-07-29)
[3]: “Developing a style and editing advice guide”, (2021-08-04)
[4]: “Request to increase the number of administrators”, (2021-08-06)
[5]: Message Wall post to Dexcuracy, containing notice of complaint to be made in thread 6 (2021-08-10 05:17)
[6]: Message Wall post to the Fandom Wiki Representative containing complaints from two users (2021-08-10 05:27)
[7]: Message Wall post to LynnE216, referenced in thread 5, (2021-08-10 15:09)
[8]: “On the state of the wiki”, by Dexcuracy (2021-08-10 21:50)

§ 2: Why certain actions were taken

So: now we have a timeline of events from the perspective of the admins, including where internal admin discussions took place. In this section, we will go into the reasoning behind the administrative actions that were taken. In sections after this, we will go into our opinions on issues raised in the various discussion posts by users.

§ 2.1: Post removal 1

The first post was removed because the tone of the post, taken together with the previous two posts, crossed the line. It was set up as if it were a prosecution of an admin, and not phrased as a collaborative effort to resolve a grievance that the user had. The post went into accusations of power abuse and unreasonable editorial biases, which are both sensitive topics which should have been handled with better care, and not in the brazenly confrontational fashion as was done in the removed post, in the context of the previous, unremoved, posts.

§ 2.2: Post removal 2

The second post was removed because it targeted an admin and called them out for power abuse and stifling discussion. It was not phrased as a good-faith attempt to resolve the situation, but resorted to calling out a single admin.

§ 2.3: Intermediary statement

After both removals, Lynn made a general statement on the Discussion forum reminding people about certain rules on the wiki. Later on the same day, the 10th of August, in a discussion in the admin-only Discord channel, she stated that the reasoning behind this post was to provide an explanation for the removal of these posts. After discussing, we agreed that it was a mistake to do so in a general post, rather than a reply to the post where the other posts were removed. We realize that this general post could be taken as a callout to the users whose posts were removed. We apologize to those users, and we agreed to remove the post later on the 10th, simultaneously with the announcement that this statement was being prepared.

§ 2.4: On criticism

It should be clearly stated that we are not opposed to criticism. It is not something we’re disallowing, and the content of the first removed post was not inherently against the rules. However, the way you choose to deliver criticism matters. It is perfectly possible to do so in a way that seeks to collaborate, and to avoid doing so in a way that is confrontational or prosecutory. Our opinions on how we’re aiming to foster a more collaborative environment to avoid future clashes like this, especially on wording disputes in articles, are in the next section.

No further action against these users was considered, and no further action will be taken. Nor will the previous actions be undone. If users still feel their criticism is necessary to express, they are welcome to do so, taking into account the wiki’s rules and further context provided above, as well as the suggestions for future discussions below.

§ 2.5: Closing statement

We hope that the above summary from our perspective, combined with the reasons outlined here, serve as a sufficient explanation why these posts were removed. The next sections will go into our opinions on the issues raised in various Discussion posts.

§ 3: Admin participation in discussions

Some users lamented the fact that there had not been admin participation in certain discussions on the Discussion forum. While we understand the desire for input from the administrator team in these discussions, we do not think admin participation in every discussion is required. If consensus is establishing between various users, and the admin agrees with the consensus, then the modus operandi in the past was not to post in that discussion.

However, we do think that this could be done better in the future. We still hold the opinion that admin approval is not required in every discussion, but if an admin comes across a discussion where an acceptable consensus is already establishing, the admins will aim to make a quick post expressing approval in the future. This way users know that an admin has read the post. Admins did read all discussions in the past, but it was not as readily apparent as we hope it will be in the future with this change.

Further, if admin participation or approval concerning a certain topic is explicitly requested, we are working on a way to make contacting an admin easier. In the future, you will be able to mention the account @CRAdmin anywhere on the wiki. This will forward an email to all admins, notifying them that the attention of an admin is requested somewhere. As in the past, if immediate admin attention is required, the quickest way to alert the admins of something is via the wiki’s Discord.

Recruiting new administrators is something we’re open to. It is something we have been considering privately in the past, and will continue to privately consider this in the future. Recruiting new admins will always be a decision we will make on our own. Community input can be considered, but the final decision is that of the admin team.

§ 4: The future of discussions and article disputes

It has been mentioned in the past that discussions through Discord sometimes work better, and we think this has been proven again in this case. It should be noted that we are not convinced that Discord is some sort of ultimate solution; both Discord and the wiki’s Discussions have things they’re good at and things they’re not good at. Therefore, we propose a compromise:

When you want to discuss something, or collaborate on something, please consider if it is better suited for the Discord or not. As an example, the Discord is often used to workshop the design of the wiki. Why? Because it’s far easier to have a quick, informal discussion and collaborate on it there. It allows for ideas to be shared quickly, iterated upon quickly, and satisfying conclusions can be reached incredibly rapidly. These types of collaborative efforts would be slowed down massively by the formalism of the wiki’s Discussion forum.

It should be considered that not everything needs a formal debate, when an informal discussion could suffice. Reading through walls of arguments can be exhausting and will put people off from chiming in. The chat-like nature of Discord, together with a new ‘Threads’ feature they have recently implemented, is an environment that enables a collaborative chat more than the wiki’s Discussion forum. We encourage editors that are not in the Discord yet to give it a try. Next time you want to discuss something, create a Thread in the Discord. If a more formal debate is necessary, the thread can be archived and linked to from the Discussion forum to continue there.

We suggest this same approach with wording disputes on pages. Minor disputes can more easily be handled with a conversation in the Discord. Given the conversational style of the environment, it’s easier to come to a mutually satisfactory conclusion there. These discussions can always be archived and moved to an article’s Talk page if deemed necessary.

The main takeaway from all the above is that Discord is generally a friendlier, conversational environment, where it is more difficult for a dispute to spiral into a confrontational debate. We encourage everybody to give it a try, and give feedback if multiple channels in the Discord on different topics are desired, so we can build it into a place that accommodates as many people as possible.

§ 5: Admin disputes

Disputes with administrators/moderators of a community is always a difficult topic to approach. The user that has a dispute can feel powerless because of the inherent power imbalance. The admin that is being disputed can feel uneasy because, if they are not very careful, they will get called out for admin power abuse. Here is how we propose disputes like this to be handled in the future:

If you have an issue with the actions of a certain admin, and you have tried to enter into a reasonable discussion with them, and still feel you’re not being heard: contact a different admin in private to air your concerns. Do not openly call out or confront the other admin. Besides the fact that it breaks wiki rules and is not a courteous way of handling disputes with other people, there is little chance this will resolve the problem. The other admin you contact can then evaluate the situation and start an internal discussion if necessary.

§ 6: Style guide

There has been a discussion focussed on creating a style guide for the wiki. In fact, in a post on Lynn’s Message Wall, a user who was not the author of the style guide demanded the current version be implemented in one week, mentioning that they believed it was a generous timeline.

First, it is necessary to respond to this second item. It is absolutely not okay to demand something, which is an administrator decision, to be implemented within a certain time frame like this. This comment was, quite frankly, very distasteful, and not a comment one would expect from a thread that is titled “Resolving administrator disputes”.

Moving on to the style guide: We are very open to the idea and the positive effect a style guide could have. There are, however, also a few concerns that we have and a few requirements before a style guide could be made official.

The major concern from which other concerns and requirements stem is that a style guide, once in place, can feel very set-in-stone. It is often a monolithic document, and the document existing could be used to justify the guidance it gives. In other words, the contents can be self-justifying. In addition, it can be used to knock down new ideas. Further, while the stated intent is for the document to aid new editors, it could result in the opposite: being an intimidating wall of text which people may think they need to read entirely before being allowed to contribute. We will propose solutions to these concerns.

Because it is a very important document, it is absolutely vital that it is well-considered over a long period of time by a variety of authors, before being put in place officially. Currently, the document has only been edited by one user, which may be a side effect of it being in that user’s sandbox.

We propose to move this style guide to a page “WIP:Style Reference”. The move is so that it’s clear that it’s no longer one user’s project, but a project people are welcome to collaborate on. This goal should also be stated at the top of the reference, and a dedicated Discord channel to work on the style reference will be made. The reference will also be linked in the “Looking for something to work on?” sidebar on the main page. Further, the name “Reference” seeks to combat the idea that an editor needs to read the entire thing. This name attempts to evoke a similar feel to references like the rules references in a board game: designed to look up specifics, not read from front to back. That this is the goal of the document, and it isn’t expected to be read front-to-back, also needs to be stated in the introductory section at the top of the style reference. In addition, the introduction of the style reference should include a statement addressing the concerns above: that the document isn't intended to be self-justifying, or discouraging to new ideas. But most important of all, it needs to be a collaboration between a variety of editors. If there isn't interest from multiple editors to collaborate on this, then it should stay as a draft until such a collaborative project is able to get off the ground.

§ 7: Development of templates

There have also been a few questions concerning the development of new templates, and their inclusion in boilerplate new page suggestions.

Users are always free to develop new templates they think are useful in their namespaces (User:YourUserName/ArticleNameHere). If they are finished, and other editors are enthusiastic about the templates in the Discord or in the Discussion forum, they can be put into an official template. No admin approval is required for this. If the author wants to request this template be included in new page boilerplate suggestions, it is advisable to ping an admin using @CRAdmin on the wiki or @Administrator on the Discord. Inclusion in these boilerplates remains an administrator decision.

Closing thoughts

I feel that it is necessary to close with the most important thing to remember: We’re all Critters, whether we’ve been here for 6 years or 6 weeks. We all enjoy the show, the cast, the characters in the campaigns, the pets, the world. And we all have our own specific interests to develop on the wiki. Let’s all be mindful of this, and together foster a collaborative environment to work on this wiki, without it getting in the way of enjoying the show.

Don’t forget to love each other, and is it Thursday yet?