Wikipedia:Ignore all credentials
|This page in a nutshell: Be modest about your credentials. Be honest about your credentials. Don't use your credentials in edit disputes. And when people mention credentials in edit disputes, ignore those credentials.|
Credentials, in and of themselves, have very limited utility on Wikipedia other than as a possible indicator of expertise. While experts and content specialists are welcome and encouraged to contribute, every editor should rely upon attribution and a neutral point of view to determine whether controversial edits are valid. As such, when other people try to use credentials in edit disputes, ignore those credentials.
What are credentials?
- Academic degrees, and other formal qualifications based on higher education;
- Licenses to practice a certain profession or trade;
- Awards or prizes for achievement in a particular field;
- Relevant positions of employment, for example as a professor in a particular field, or as a consultant or employee in a particular industry;
- Professional references from recognized experts.
Value of expertise
Expertise is valuable to Wikipedia to the extent that someone with expert knowledge has ready access to reference materials from reliable sources, and should be able to attribute them. Consequently, Wikipedians should ignore the credentials of self-proclaimed experts who cannot produce their sources, trying to assert their own authority instead, which is equivalent to original research.
The use of credentials to try to get an advantage in an edit dispute is extremely poor form. In lieu of ignoring all credentials, one can remind editors who use their credentials in an edit dispute that those credentials are irrelevant to whether or not a specific edit is a good one. We edit together in a spirit of mutual respect and equality. "I am a PhD, so stop arguing", for example, would not be a good approach. Reasoned discourse does not require credentials.
Fraud and puffery
As demonstrated by the Essjay controversy, when an editor claims fraudulent or puffed up credentials as an indicator of his or her expertise, this can have an adverse effect on the reputation of Wikipedia and on our traditions of assuming good faith. If, however, one consistently ignores all credentials, or reminds other editors and readers that credentials are irrelevant to whether a specific edit is a good one, concerns about fraud and puffery can be greatly lessened.
Credentials on user pages
For a variety of reasons, editors sometimes choose to provide information about their credentials on their Wikipedia user pages. While the Wikipedia community frowns upon editors using their credentials to gain an advantage in a content dispute or claiming credentials that they do not actually have, editors have traditionally been given a great deal of freedom regarding the information that they may display on their Wikipedia user pages. Userpages may be interesting, useful, or amusing. No one, however, should rely upon any information that userpages convey about credentials as actually being factual, as processes for verifying credentials are at this time only under discussion.