Wikipedia talk:Ownership of articles

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  • Virginia Heffernan (5 November 2010). "Prize Descriptions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2011. "With authorship disputes, Wikipedia advises, “stay calm, assume good faith and remain civil.” The revolutionary policy outlined on “Wikipedia: Ownership of Articles” — search Wikipedia or Google for it — is stunningly thorough." 

At odds with WMF policy[edit]

Ik think I understand the purpose of this page pretty well, and as far as I understand it, I don't disagree with it. However, the tone seems based mostly on anti-elitist sentiments. It is not surprising to see this page used so often by groups wanting to establish ownership over pages that were built by single editors.

A phrase like "All Wikipedia content[1] is edited collaboratively." is weird; there is lots of content for which this not true at all. The sentences "Some contributors feel possessive about material they have contributed to Wikipedia. A few editors will even defend such material against others." are at odds with WMF policy. The Terms of Use make it clear that there is not only nothing strange about an editor caring about the material he has contributed, and not only is it normal, but it is legally required (everybody is legally responsible for his own contributions). And this is in fact nothing new, after all who wants to read an encyclopedia that has just been thrown together by uncaring passers-by. Such value as Wikipedia has lies in material contributed by editors who cared strongly about what they were doing and who put in the effort to get it right. Caring about one's contributions can have different causes and can have different effects on Wikipedia (just like other phenomena, like, say, collaboration which can be beneficial as well as quite lethal). There is a huge difference between somebody who pushes a PoV and fights off anybody who wants to turn a page in a more policy-compliant direction and an editor who painstakingly puts together a high-quality page and is unhappy about users wanting to see their PoV represented and inserted. There are all kinds of situations where it is highly desirable that a user keeps up the quality of a page over time, updating it and weeding out inserted junk, as long as he keeps an open mind. As it is, this page does not address this variety at all. Nor does it puts things in perspective; the overall WMF vision aims to achieve the best content possible and this page should reflect that; the behaviour of a user cannot be evaluated apart from how it fits in other policies (especially the core content policies). As it is, this page breathes the philosophy "hey, here is a user who knows something about what he writes about, take him out back and shoot him", which is so common in Wikipedia (again not compliant with WMF policies; the WMF quite likes editors who can put together high-quality content, and are willing to do so). I see I am not the first who made this point, nor am I likely to be the last. A copyright owner (talk) 13:51, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Like most any perfect law, WP:OWN can be gamed both ways. It can and is used in cases such as you mention: a group of subpar bullies wants to get rid of a strong editor, which may be the original contributor, or someone who took responsibility later and greatly improves and maintains the article, and who keeps the article clean from the POV and/or other unacceptable things which the bully group wants to insert. That deliberate abuse of the WP:OWN policy happens all the time.
Then there's also the other case: A strongly biased editor digs in at an article or array of articles, makes friends with well-established likeminded editors and admins, then uses WP:OWN to thwart any attempt at getting him and that POV (and/or other silly things he likes) out of the article in question. That also happens all the time.
Without binding content arbitration, problems like this cannot and will never be resolved. Therefore, any attempts to establish any form of content committee is immediately shouted down by those who favor the status quo. Welcome to Wikipedia. Don't contribute, don't donate, read only with great care. -- (talk) 14:26, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Using multiple IP's is another way to game the system. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:57, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Clarification of policy re revision of content which has inline citations from reliable sources[edit]

I revised this paragraph today so that it read as follows:

Even though editors can never "own" an article, it is important to respect the work and ideas of your fellow contributors. One should therefore be cautious about deleting or rewriting large amounts of content, particularly if the content was written by one editor and is referenced with inline citations from reliable sources. In such cases it is more effective to leave a comment on the article's Talk page outlining your concerns about the content, and leave time for other editors' responses before deleting or rewriting it. (See also Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Etiquette and Wikipedia:Assume good faith.)

My revision was reverted, and I'd appreciate knowing why it wouldn't be a useful addition to Wikipedia policy to require that editors should be cautious about deleting or rewriting large amounts of content which is referenced with inline citations to reliable sources. It seems to me that Wikipedia users benefit from content which is referenced with inline citations from reliable sources, and that other editors should use caution in deleting such content. NinaGreen (talk) 02:46, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Caution, sure. But the proper way of dealing with the information depends very much on what it is - it's quite possible for information to be reliably sourced and still inappropriate or contrary to policy. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:49, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I've restored the change, with an added caveat. Please try to make improvements rather then reverting. And please use specific, meaningful edit summaries if you do revert; "per editnotice" is not adequate. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 09:28, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
That's why we have the editnotice: to remind editors to discuss changes to policy pages before making them. Both of you seem to have overlooked it, though, which is why I directed your attention to it. Now, unfortunately, your caveat does not completely address my concern - it addresses the "contrary to policy" issue, but not other areas of inappropriateness. Nikkimaria (talk) 14:09, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
You appear to have overlooked both what the edit notice actually says, and my comment above, "Please try to make improvements rather then reverting". Perhaps you might suggest an acceptable compromise now? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:54, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Good joke[edit]

This article is funny! Ha ha... Imagine if Wikipedia took steps to prevent so-called "ownership". Why, it would be near unrecognisable! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:17, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Primary editor[edit]

There is some talk that so called "primary editors" have certain veto powers in their articles. This need to either be codified or refuted here. Agathoclea (talk) 19:54, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

That is not correct. It is true that some people viewing the WP:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Infoboxes case have thought such an argument had been proposed, but no one has made that suggestion. In fact, the editors who are maintaining the articles in question are among the best and brightest at Wikipedia, and they are fully aware of, and endorse, WP:OWN. Everyone knows that no one owns an article, but it is also true that no one owns the top-right hand corner of article pages. Johnuniq (talk) 01:55, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
So you would agree with adding "the primary editor does not want x" as an example of ownership? Agathoclea (talk) 09:00, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
No, that's an over-simplification. If someone who happens to be the primary editor says "I do not want X", that is their opinion, and obviously WP:OWN is not saying that the primary editor cannot state their view. I don't think it needs any clarification, but WP:OWN could possibly say that the fact that someone is the primary editor does not give their opinion any special status. In the same way, the opinion of an editor who is new to an article does not have any special status either.
The real meaning of WP:OWN is that disagreements are resolved by following the principles of established policies, guidelines, and best practice—the fact that one side might have written the article is not relevant to those procedures. On the other hand, there are many cases where a proposed change is not clearly justified by applying the principles mentioned. It may happen that general consensus cannot resolve a disagreement based on standard procedures—that is, the issue boils down to some like this, and some like that. In that case, I find it obvious that there would need to be a good reason to make a change against the views of a group of editors who have built the article (I'm assuming a good article, not something like a POV or FRINGE nightmare). Nearly all experienced editors know that WP:LOCALCONSENSUS means a group cannot make special rules for "their" article. But the infobox wars show that some cases are not clear—good arguments can be presented from both sides, and in the absence of a policy or guideline or consensus from a widely discussed RfC, it is a fallacy for one side to accuse the other of ownership—just because someone happens to have written an article does not mean their opinion must be wrong. Johnuniq (talk) 12:12, 29 August 2013 (UTC)