Wikipedia:Credential ban

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This proposal seeks to be a foolproof solution to the problems associated with credentials on Wikipedia and with verifying those credentials. Disallow the use of credentials on Wikipedia.

Problems with credentials on Wikipedia[edit]

There are a multitude of problems associated with the use of credentials on Wikipedia. The following is a short list, compiled from observations from other discussions:

  1. First and foremost: If every editor is truly equal, credentials serve no purpose on Wikipedia.
  2. Allowing the continued use of credentials leaves the door open for editors to use the "I have a PhD so stop arguing" argument.
  3. No credential is a substitute for content policies such as WP:ATT and WP:NPOV.
  4. Verifing credentials threatens to split the community into two groups of users:
    • Trusted users with verified credentials
    • Users with unverified credentials or no credentials at all
  5. No simple credential verification system can be foolproof.

Implementation[edit]

This would be the simpest proposal to implement of all the credential proposals.

  • Using credentials to attempt to win a dispute would result in a warning, similar to those given for legal threats, repeated use may result in a temporary block.
  • Credentials that could create a sense of elitism are not to be allowed on Wikipedia, even userpages.
    • Listing advanced degrees and high level positions within one's field can create a sense of elitism
      • "I have a PhD in Biology" - Bad
      • "I know biology well and am interested in it" - Good
      • "I'm a movie studio executive" - Bad
      • "I have experience with movies" - Good
      • "I'm chair of the Harvard law department." - Bad
      • "I'm a lawyer in the Boston area." - Good
    • Basic biographical facts do not create a sense of elitism
      • "I live in Houston, Texas" - Good
      • "I'm president of the Houston Historical Society" - Bad

Other types of personal credentials are not as obviously (un)acceptable as the above examples. A general rule of thumb is:

  • Anything that can be seen as a status symbol or gives a sense of status within any community should probably not be included in the Wikipedia community.

User names[edit]

Many users wish to edit under their real names or a pseudonym that may reflect their actual name, profession, or status. This section exists as a minor "loophole" to this proposal. As usernames do not reflect a sense of elitism as much as a list of credentials or simply saying "I have a PhD" does, usernames that could possibly reflect credentials are allowed. These users would still be held to the remaining policies though. User:PhDBio would still have to cite sources and would not be allowed to use credentials as a method to win a dispute. User:RichardDawkins would still be held to the same standard of accountability as User:AnyUser and would still have to follow all other policies, such as WP:COI.

See also[edit]

Other related proposed changes to Wikipedia