|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This page in a nutshell: Articles on Taboo subjects must be well-sourced, must define their subject carefully, and editorial disputes about them should be handled sensitively.|
Certain subjects (most noticeably pederasty, bestiality, necrophilia and other paraphilias) are distasteful to most people, and there is little incentive for the average Wikipedia editor to invest time and effort into articles about them, to bring them into line with WP policies that require a balanced tone and a neutral point of view. By contrast, minority groups who seek to normalise or justify such practice have a strong incentive to invest time and effort into making the article reflect their point of view, given that a Wikipedia article on that subject is likely to be the first result returned by a search engine like Google. Their objective is to make the practice seem more normal or acceptable than it actually is, while avoiding any gross or obvious breach of neutrality policies such as WP:OR that are prescribed by Wikipedia. This can be done by romanticising the subject, by selectively citing scientific research that appears to normalise the practice, by fallacy of definition or equivocation, the use of various historical and naturalistic fallacies (the Greeks thought it was morally acceptable, ergo it is morally acceptable &c).
There is a clear need for guidelines concerning such subjects in Wikipedia, in order to minimise the possibility that minority groups will attempt to abuse the encyclopedia in this way.
The subject must be clearly defined
1. There should be a clear definition of the subject in the introduction. The definition should reflect the modern meaning of the word, as reflected in standard reference works such as a dictionaries, other encyclopedias &c. This is in order to avoid 'fallacy of equivocation': defining the word to mean a practice or condition that is legal, and acceptable to all people (e.g. paedophilia is defined as non-sexual attraction to children), then making statements or claims that are untrue in the normal meaning of the word, and which for that reason would be confusing to uneducated or naive readers who were reading this in an encyclopedia they trusted. (e.g. religion/ethicists/spiritual leaders do not condemn paedophilia, which is true of paedophilia as defined, but not true in the ordinary sense of the word, which connotes the gratification of the corresponding sexual desire).
The article must reflect the definition
2. The rest of the article should reflect this definition. In particular, the article should avoid defining paedophilia (say) as non-sexual attraction to children, when the rest of the article is clearly about the practice of sex with children. (For example, having a section entitled 'legal aspects' when there are clearly no legal aspects if the article is supposed to be about non-sexual attraction, or pictures of ancient Greeks copulating with goats when the article is purportedly about non-sexual attraction to animals).
Avoid POV forks
3. Separate versions of an article created to represent different views on a subject violate the Wikipedia core policy requiring a neutral point of view. Such articles are often called POV forks, described at WP:NPOV#POV forks. Wikipedia must have one, neutral point of view on a subject - and each core subject should have a single article. Articles on peripheral subjects should not deviate from the point of view established in the core article.
4. Ordinary WP rules about abusive behaviour should apply, but administrators should be sensitive to the fact that majority opinion finds the subject and the practice distasteful, and that discussion can get emotive as a result. Make a clear distinction between personal criticism of an editor (which is not generally acceptable) and criticism of what an editor has written (which is integral to the balanced development of an article). For example, it is definitely not OK to call someone a paedophile. But to say of an edit that it amounts to pro-paedophile editing, or editing which could be construed as promoting a positive view of this practice, is perfectly acceptable.
Apply policy strictly
5. Ordinary WP rules about citation and sourcing should be rigorously applied. Links to discussion or usenet websites, or practitioner usergroups is absolutely forbidden, and should be a blockable offence.
6. WP:WEIGHT should be strictly enforced, to ensure there is no 'selection bias' or undue weight applied to obviously biased sources (e.g. that normalise the practice) should be put into context. Preferably material only used in standard reference work or orthodox encyclopedia.
7. The overall balance and coverage of the subject in other articles should reflect the balance found in other standard reference works (e.g. Athenian pederasty, Greek pederasty, Albanian pederasty, ancient pederasty, modern pederasty &c).
Do not romanticise or glamorise
8. Romanticising the subject should be avoided. This would include, e.g., pictures that aestheticise the subject (Greek paintings &c). Avoid claims that paedophilia is a sexual orientation, or a lifestyle and so on, or that paedophiles are more intelligent or attractive than other groups. Even if these claims are true, they amount to original research. If there is research that supports these claims, it should be put into context per WP:WEIGHT and WP:UNDUE.
9. Editors should avoid any form of argument or reasoning known to be used by minority groups that attempt to rationalise sexually deviant practice. See WP:OR. However, beware of excluding an argument that is used by certain groups or organisations, simply because the view they are arguing for is distasteful. This is not the point of WP:NPOV. If the view or argument can be reliably sourced, then it should be included. Jimbo Wales says:
- If your viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;
- If your viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
- If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, then — whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not — it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, except perhaps in some ancillary article. Wikipedia is not the place for original research.
10. Even if the subject is distasteful, this is an encyclopedia, and factual and neutral information should not be excluded, if it can be well-sourced.
- Wales, Jimmy. "WikiEN-l email@example.com: --A Request RE a WIKIArticle--", September 29, 2003.
- MeatBall:LandMine, on community's taboos.