User:BullRangifer/Conspiracy theory accusations

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This has now been launched at Wikipedia:Conspiracy theory accusations.




Conspiracy theory accusations against other editors are very serious violations of our "assume good faith" (AGF) behavioral guideline. When they involve expressions of the belief that another editor is involved in a conspiracy, they poison the well against the editor so accused so seriously as to disqualify the accusing editor from editing some articles and editing in the proximity of the editor so accused. No one who edits Wikipedia with a conspiracy theory mentality can ever be taken seriously because that mindset violates AGF on so many levels. When directed at other editors, such violations of AGF should be taken very seriously and lead to sanctions.

Basic assumptions[edit]

Nothing at Wikipedia, including the sacred and supreme NPOV policy, can function properly in an uncollaborative atmosphere. That's because collaboration and dispute resolution are more important than content contributions in a wiki community. It is impossible for an editor who does not assume good faith about another editor to enter into a collaborative relationship with that editor, and any editing done by such an editor will be characterized by their assumptions of bad faith, often leading to personal attacks, violations of BLP principles, accusations of conflicts of interest, outing of other editors, thus seriously compromising their ability to edit in an NPOV and collegial manner. They may often exhibit a megalomaniacal point of view that puts them beyond the realm of reasonable discourse or dispute resolution. They may also use their own original research based on sources that may be unverifiable and/or unreliable.

Poisoning the well[edit]

An assumption or accusation that another editor (or the subject of an article) is involved in a real or imagined conspiracy poisons the well so thoroughly — and involves so serious and complex assumptions of bad faith and beliefs in a conflict of interest — as to disqualify the editor holding such beliefs from editing articles related to the subject and/or editing in the proximity of the editor so accused.

It is not enough for the accusing editor to believe in or even prove the existence of "dots" (incontrovertible facts), and then connect those dots into a pattern that is assumed to prove the existence of the conspiracy and the involvement of the editor or subject in that conspiracy. The connection of the dots (reasoning processes involved) must not include any original research. Such connections must be proven so convincingly (using well-proven facts from verifiable and reliable sources, and no assumptions at all) that the reasonable minds of a jury of other editors will believe the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt. Any reasonable doubt should result in sanctions against the accuser, since such serious accusations cannot be ignored and disruption must be prevented. The accused editor must be able to edit freely without feeling they have a shadow cast over their reputation.

Often no hope of correction[edit]

If the editor holding such conspiracy theory beliefs is so motivated by them as to make any personal attacks, commit violations of BLP principles, or indulge in outing or other forms of harassment, it can lead to a serious disruption of Wikipedia's collegial atmosphere, disturbing the collaborative editing process so seriously that the editor in question should then be blocked or site banned. This is based on the belief that a serious belief in conspiracy theories is often immune to correction, since it involves many cognitive processes, psychological mechanisms, and political beliefs that are often intertwined with the very identity of the person holding them. It often puts them beyond the reach of reason and makes them impervious to normal dispute resolution processes. In the end they may use the ultimate defense:

"Of course I have no absolute proof. They are so powerful that they can cover their tracks and even remove all proof of their conspiracy, but what's happening is so clear that only a total idiot can't see it!"

Such persons are often immune to cognitive dissonance and cannot be reasoned with. Fortunately this condition isn't necessarily lifelong, since people sometimes experience life altering experiences, traumas, and other things that cause them to undergo deep changes in their ways of thinking and adherence to certain misleading paradigms. They may be redeemable, but that is not Wikipedia's responsibility. Until they change their way of thinking, they must take it elsewhere.

Proposed consequences[edit]

If it is proven that the accused editor has a truly serious conflict of interest, it should lead to sanctions affecting that editor's editing privileges. This may be in the form of warnings, topic bans, short blocks, or indef blocks. Regardless of what the case may be, it should result in disciplinary consequences that will affect the editing privileges of one or the other editor. It should not affect both of the editors, since mere allegations should never affect the falsely accused editor's ability to edit at Wikipedia, and the making of false charges is so serious a matter that it must be sanctioned. It's a total win or total lose situation for the accuser, as the burden of proof is on them. Due to the serious and complex nature of conspiracy charges, the possibility of editing sanctions should be discussed with the offender. They should receive a very clear first warning. If the discussion doesn't lead to immediate changes in behavior, enforcement should follow. There should be no repetition of warnings for further violations that do not also lead to stronger penalties. It is suggested that warning templates be created pointing to this guideline.


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