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This talk page is quite long, and there are sections of it that are protected from editing but are quite long back and forth discussions that seem like they could be refined into a polished form for any newcomers to the page to understand what topics have been discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Lia_Thomas

I find this a bit complicated to know where to begin, because the page seems to be at least semi-protected, so I do not know if trying to edit anything would be worthwhile or may be immediately reverted. There is also a pretty long yellow text box at the top with a lot of general information about the article itself, adding to the overall complexity of understanding it.

Is there a canonical way to approach trying to contribute edits, especially refinements, to this talk page?

Some ideas that come to mind could be:

  1. Can I see who are the most active editors or who have the ability to make protected edits, and maybe create a chat room with them, for ease of communication?

  2. Is there some kind of external mechanism in Wikipedia by which you could receive permission to contribute a particular edit supported by some kind of larger consensus outside of the people active on that particular article?

Simply put, what is an effective way to try to clean this up without a lot of edit reversions?

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There is a Wikipedia guideline about refactoring talk pages, but in practice I think it is not really done, with the exception of archiving old content when the talk page gets large (there are bots to do that automatically, but they are not set up for all pages).

In general, (some) talk pages have a template section at the top, which tries to convey the most important information about the article (who might be interested in it, quality assessments, warnings etc), and below it is a forum-style discussion which can be quite verbose and is mostly for discussing current concerns or conflicts; trying to read through old dicussion to get a general understanding of the article is time-consuming and rarely useful.

(See also the more general guideline about talk page behavior.)

You are probably better off trying to contribute to the article itself and only using the talk page when you need to discuss something with other editors. As Wikipedia says, be bold.

As to your specific questions:

  • Can I see who are the most active editors or who have the ability to make protected edits, and maybe create a chat room with them, for ease of communication? - for statistics, go to the article -> page history -> page statistics (at the top of the history), but I wouldn't expect it to be very useful. There is no chatroom functionality. (There are Wikipedia-related IRC, Discord etc. channels, but not for specific articles.) The "protected" sections aren't protected in a technical sense, they are just not supposed to be changed (regardless of user rights) because the discussion has finished.
  • Is there some kind of external mechanism in Wikipedia by which you could receive permission to contribute a particular edit supported by some kind of larger consensus outside of the people active on that particular article? - if you want to challenge the consensus formed on the talk page based on some kind of wider discussion, there are a couple ways to do that. They are listed on the dispute resolution page.
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I don't think there is a protocol on Wikipedia for how to work with editor talk pages. Rather, it is about the habits and wishes of the given editors. So in this case, if there are any "as you write" locked sections on the link, the editor considers them to be closed and there is no need to write anything further there. However, they are not actually locked and can be edited. What you see is just text that is highlighted via CSS. So if you need to write something about the part of the text marked in this way, you can either write it directly under the marked part and see what the owner of the page has to say about it or open a new topic.

I'll just point out that the part of the discussion you refer to has been archived since you asked, i.e. moved to another page. Even if it could be edited on that page of the archive, it is inappropriate, it creates confusion therefore I would recommend you open a new topic on the user's discussion page and perhaps refer to it via a hyperlink.

How to create a new topic or link to an older discussion will depend on which editor or tool you use on that page.

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