FamilySearch Wiki:How Community Governs Wikipedia
This page is an attempt to link to, categorize, and briefly describe the pages on Wikipedia that enable the community to govern themselves.
- 1 Links to Wikipedia articles
- 2 Details
- 2.1 Editorial administration, oversight and management
- 2.2 Handling disputes and abuse
- 2.3 Editorial quality review
- 2.4 Giving feedback
- 2.5 Editorial structure
- 2.6 Wikipedia's editorial control process
- 2.7 There is no inner circle of contributors
- 2.8 Miscellaneous items
- 3 Ahas
Links to Wikipedia articles
- Editorial administration, oversight and management
- Handling disputes and abuse
- Editorial quality review
The article is nicely laid out. It contains sections that summarize each bulleted ussue above, but at the beginning of each section is a link to a page that covers the topic in full. Very nice architecture.
Wikipedia:Editorial oversight and control discusses:
- User oversight, a well-written summary of why many contributors produce content that increasingly approaches truth. Includes great quotes from Linus Torvalds, IBM, and John Stuart Mill.
Wikipedia:3O (third opinion)
Wikipedia:Avoid instruction creep
Wikipedia:BB (be bold)
Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
Wikipedia:Don't disrupt Wikipedia to prove a point
Wikipedia:NPOV (neutral point of view)
Wikipedia:Polling is not a substitute for discussion
Wikipedia:Requests for comment
Wikipedia:Requests for comment and consultation
Wikipedia:RfM (request for mediation)
Wisdom of the crowd
Editorial administration, oversight and management
The Wikipedia community is largely self-organising, so that anyone may build a reputation as a competent contributor and become involved in any role he/she may choose, subject to peer approval. Individuals often will choose to become involved in specialised tasks, such as reviewing articles at others' request, watching current edits for vandalism, watching newly created articles for quality control purposes, or similar roles. Contributors who find that editorial administrator responsibility would benefit their ability to help the community may ask their peers in the community for agreement to undertake such roles; a structure which enforces meritocracy and communal standards of editorship and conduct. At present, around a 75–80% approval rating after enquiry is considered the requirement for such a role, a standard which tends to ensure a high level of experience, trust, and familiarity across a broad front of projects within Wikipedia.
A variety of software-assisted systems and automated programs help several hundred contributors to watch for problematic edits and contributors. An arbitration committee sits at the top of all editorial and contributor conduct disputes, and its members are elected in three regularly-rotated tranches by an established enquiry and decision-making process in which all regular contributors can equally participate.
Handling disputes and abuse
Main articles: Wikipedia:Vandalism, Wikipedia:Dispute resolution, Wikipedia:Consensus, Wikipedia:Sock puppetry, Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
Wikipedia has a rich set of methods to handle most abuses that commonly arise. These methods are well-tested and should be relied upon.
- Intentional vandalism can be reported and corrected by anyone.
- Unresolved disputes between contributors, whether based upon behavior, editorial approach, or validity of content, can be addressed through the talk page of an article, through requesting comments from other contributors or through Wikipedia's comprehensive dispute resolution process.
- Abuse of user accounts, such as the creation of "Internet sock puppets" or solicitation of friends and other parties to enforce a non-neutral viewpoint or inappropriate consensus within a discussion, or to disrupt other Wikipedia processes in an annoying manner, are addressed through the sock puppet policy.
In addition, brand new users (until they have established themselves a bit) may at the start find that their votes are given less weight by contributors in some informal polls, in order to prevent abuse of single-purpose accounts.
Editorial quality review
As well as systems to catch and control substandard and vandalistic edits, Wikipedia also has a full style and content manual and a variety of positive systems for continual article review and improvement. Examples of the processes include peer review, good article assessment, and the featured article process, a rigorous review of articles that are intended to meet the highest standards and showcase Wikipedia's capability to produce high-quality work.
In addition, specific types of article or fields often have their own specialized and comprehensive projects, assessment processes (such as biographical article assessment), and expert reviewers within specific subjects. Nominated articles are also frequently the subject of specific focus under projects such as the Neutrality Project or are covered under editorial drives by groups such as the Cleanup Taskforce.
There is an established escalation-and-dispute process within Wikipedia, as well as pages designed for questions, feedback, suggestions, and comments:
- Talk pages — the associated discussion page for discussion of an article or policy's contents (usually the first place to go);
- Wikipedia:Vandalism — a facility for reporting vandalism (you are encouraged to fix vandalism yourself as well as report it);
- Dispute resolution — the procedure for handling disputes that remain unresolved within an article's talk space; and
- Village pump — the Wikipedia discussion area, part of the community portal.
- Bug tracker — a facility for reporting problems with the Wikipedia Web site or the MediaWiki software that runs it;
- Village pump: proposals page — a place for making non-policy suggestions; and
- Wikipedia:Help desk — Wikipedia's general help desk, if other pages have not answered your query.
The Wikipedia community is largely self-organizing, so that anyone may build a reputation as a competent contributor and become involved in any role they may choose, subject to peer approval. Individuals often will choose to become involved in specialized tasks, such as reviewing articles at others request, watching current edits for vandalism, or watching newly created articles for quality control purposes, or similar roles. Contributors who find that editorial administrator responsibility would benefit their ability to help the community may ask their peers in the community for agreement to undertake such roles; a structure which enforces meritocracy and communal standards of editorship and conduct. At present around a 75-80% approval rating after a communal "no holds barred" inquiry, is considered the requirement for such a role, a standard which tends to ensure a high level of experience, trust and familiarity across a broad front of projects within Wikipedia.
(Such rights are stringently restricted, ensuring that editorial and administrative matters are separated powers and only rarely lead to editorial conflict of interest.)
Wikipedia's editorial control process
Wikipedia has somewhat more formal editorial systems of control than are apparent to a newcomer, with ten main areas of overlapping control in three main areas primarily responsible:
Core community level controls
- The degree of oversight possible with tens of thousands of bona fide contributors.
- The wiki system itself, which as operated, appears to strongly select for robust and best collaborative knowledge of many people (even on contentious topics), rather than the unrepresentative viewpoint or negative impact of a few.
Editorial panels and processes
- Widely respected and enforced policies which provide all contributors with a solid basis to take matters into their own hands in addressing both deliberate and innocent bad edits.
- A consensus based ethos, which impacts beneficially the decision-making process.
- Escalation processes whereby poor conduct or articles being problematically edited will tend to come to the attention of a wider range of contributors with authority or willingness to act on them, making vandalism very short term and ultimately somewhat futile.
- Wide range of fine grained editorial processes such as dispute resolution, mediation, third party opinion, and requests for comment and consultation within the wider Wikipedia community.
Software facilitated controls
- Systems built into its editing software that make it easy for a large number of contributors to watch for vandalism, monitor recent changes, and check for activity on selected Watchlist articles, in real time.
- Design decisions in the software that make identifying and reverting any number of bad edits possible at the immediate click of a button, whereas vandalism itself takes longer to do.
- Ability to set fine-grained software blocks on problematic contributors, and partially or fully protect targeted articles.
- Standardized alerts, known as tags, which can be added to any fact or article, and which allow individual facts (or entire sections and articles) to be highlighted as questionable or brought immediately to others' attention.
Controls under development
- The control known as flagged revisions is being rolled out as of 2007[update]. It aims to differentiate the version shown to most readers, from the draft "cutting edge" version being edited, and in the first instance to only show the latter when it has been checked for reasonableness. Flagged revisions are expected to provide a powerful way to prevent most vandalism or poor quality edits from being seen by readers, once it is fully operational.
There is no inner circle of contributors
....Another aspect is that because of the wide-open nature of the editorial process, there is no bottleneck of control through which the content can readily be controlled or massaged by any given individual or interest group. As well, all edits and actions, including past historical versions, are visible to all contributors. The Wiki model itself mitigates extremely strongly against control of articles being manipulated by any one interest group, as there are no obvious applicable points of weakness or "approved circle", through which editorial decisions must pass. As a result, maintaining vandalism or a specific viewpoint is all but impossible in the long term, and Wikipedia is extremely resilient long-term against bias, censorship, or manipulation of its articles.
- Contributors who disagree are unable to write alternative articles or versions to express their differing viewpoints. Ultimately there is only one page upon which all must edit.
- Wikipedia's policies are vetted and community-approved before becoming policies. So it seems there should be some way of requesting that an idea become policy, so that the community can be flagged and can vet the idea.
- from Wikipedia:About
- from Wikipedia:Editorial Oversight and Control, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Editorial_oversight_and_control
- from Wikipedia:Editorial oversight and control, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Editorial_oversight_and_control
- from "The wiki structure" in Wikipedia:Editorial oversight and control at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Editorial_oversight_and_control