Wikipedia:No editor is Moses

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Wikipedia Policies (and guidelines) are not written on Tablets of Stone recording the words of some Divine Being, not even the Divine Jimbo.[1]

Moses[edit]

Policies can be so inspiring, however, that editors often receive them—like Moses—as dictation from the Heavenly Encyclopedist Himself. Armed with such enlightenment they proceed with confidence and self-satisfaction to put right the mistakes that other editors have been making in their misinterpretations of The Divine Vision.

The only trouble is: there is more than one Moses, and for some ineffable reason no two of them seem able to agree entirely on what "The Divine Vision" actually is.

Hosea[edit]

Fortunately there is a solution. One Moses disagrees with another because they are focusing on the Letter of Policy and not the Spirit of Policy. The latter is the deeply understood and religiously observed process of Improving The Encyclopedia. Many prophets on Wikipedia have sought—like Hosea—to explain the meaning of this profound doctrine. Armed with their enlightenment they proceed with confidence and self-satisfaction to put right the mistakes that other editors have been making in their failure to prioritize the spirit of Improving The Encyclopedia.

The only trouble is: there is more than one Hosea, and for some ineffable reason no two of them seem able to agree entirely on what "Improving The Encyclopedia" actually means.

Jeremiah[edit]

Fortunately there is a solution. One Hosea disagrees with another because they are not taking into account the principles implied by Policies (and guidelines). What is needed is reform; a new covenant—like Jeremiah's—that will clarify Policy so that no one makes such a mistake again. Armed with such enlightened policies the editors defining them proceed with confidence and self-satisfaction to put right the mistakes that other editors have been making in their failure to understand the prescriptions of Policy.

The only trouble is: there is more than one Jeremiah...

...and by this stage numerous skeptical Hoseas and Moseses.

Conclusion[edit]

There is nothing wrong with believing that you are right, that your application of policy X to issue Y in article Z is decisive in demonstrating that you are right, and that your position improves the encyclopedia. However, in such a happy circumstance you ought to be able to explain and convince other reasonable editors that you are right. If you cannot, then perhaps the issue is not as clear-cut as you first thought and you need to read, discuss, understand and compromise. In a particular situation, rarely does one editor have all the answers.

What this essay is not[edit]

This essay is not a mace with which to browbeat, criticize or abuse other editors. There is nothing wrong with an editor believing that they are right. What matters is how competing and incompatible definitions of "right" are resolved.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ It is rumored that some Policies were written by Larry, the Lamb of Jimbo to forgive us our prejudices, but the earliest drafts are not extant, and have been confused by transmission through multiple scribes.