Wikipedia:In Wikipedia, X is an Article, not Evil
|This page is an essay, containing 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: On Wikipedia, (subject)ilia/ism/ology is an Article, not Evil.|
|This page in a nutshell: "The major thing wrong with the people editing this article is..." You?|
With reference to;
Wikipedia:No personal attacks "nutshell" states "Comment on content, not the contributor". This applies even, or perhaps especially, to subject matter which you dislike.
Wikipedia:Assume good faith "nutshell" (second point) states "If criticism is needed, discuss editors' actions, but it is not ever necessary nor productive to accuse others of harmful motives." This is because their motives are not harmful, simpy different to yours.
Wikipedia:Civility "nutshell" (in part) states "Participate in a respectful and civil way. Do not ignore the positions and conclusions of others." As they have as much right to their opinions as you have to yours.
Wikipedia is, as quoted on the Main Page, "The Free Encyclopedia Anyone Can Edit". It is more than just the motto, it is the underlying principle that has driven the project since its launch. Anyone can edit it. No ifs, buts, or maybe's. Anyone. This includes people that you do not like; not necessarily for personal reasons, but because they support, or are members of, or are otherwise affiliated or associated with, or who choose to edit the article(s) relating to the subject in a manner that does not coincide with your beliefs and interests, a subject matter whose political or religious beliefs, personality, actions, national identity, sexual persuasion, personal identification, etc. that you find abhorrent.
This resolves to the major cause of any perceived problem, the attitude of the editor who dislikes the article subject matter and those connected with it. You.
- 1 "What do you mean, "Me"?"
- 2 "So, if I have a problem, what can you or I do about it?"
- 3 "Why Are There "Controversial Subjects" on Wikipedia?"
- 4 "I am being attacked by other editors for my perceived beliefs relating to subjects I edit"
- 5 "What do I do now?"
"What do you mean, "Me"?"
If an editor has a problem in the existence of an article which otherwise meets the criteria for inclusion in Wikipedia, or the people who are associated with the subject matter, or those who choose to edit the article, then there is the one common denominator; the editor with the problem. Wikipedia does not have a problem with either the article, nor those associated with the subject matter, or those who edit it. Neither do other editors have a problem with the article, associated people or the volunteers editing – even those editors who do not like the subject matter. Thus, the problem is you.
"So, if I have a problem, what can you or I do about it?"
Statistically, it is far easier to deal with one editor's point of view than it is to change the team of editors who are attempting to improve, sometimes despite the efforts of their colleagues, the article in question. Not only statistically, but practically too. Remove the criticism, ignore their complaints, get on with the agreed consensus... except... that doesn't work either, because this is the encyclopedia that "...anyone can edit." – which includes the editor with the problem.
In practical terms the only thing the community can do is encourage the editor to work around the problem, to remind and warn the editor over violations of WP policy with regard to the problem, and finally to block the editor in an effort to prevent disruption of WP. It is recognised that, and particularly in relation to WP:Consensus, that encouraging the problem editor to (again) become a useful contributor is the most reasonable and effective way of resolving the problem.
The answer thus primarily lies with the problem editor. Firstly the editor has to realise that there is a problem. This can be difficult, since holding an opinion is not of itself "wrong" and neither is wishing to contribute to the encyclopedia in a manner which is supportive of those personal beliefs. What must be recognised is that other people may hold differing opinions and may wish to edit certain articles in a manner pursuant with their beliefs, or may wish to include other viewpoints for academic rather than personal reasons, and that Wikipedia welcomes such contributions. Further, Wikipedia does not (in fact, cannot) hold an opinion on any subject and is only concerned with accuracy, verifiability and clarity. Once the problem editor grasps the fact that "anyone can edit" Wikipedia, and that, on Wikipedia, (subject) is an article and not Evil then there is no longer a problem; the contributor can edit much as before, only now with all other editors.
"Why Are There "Controversial Subjects" on Wikipedia?"
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which, per the article of the same name, is defined as "...a comprehensive written compendium that contains information on all branches of knowledge..." Thus any subject can be included providing it satisfies the relevant criteria. This will include material that is considered controversial by the majority of readers and editorship, material considered controversial by a minority, and material considered controversial by perhaps an individual or two, and material considered non-controversial by all. In fact, controversial is not a criteria by which a subject is included on (or removed from) Wikipedia.
Also, controversial can be a subjective concept. While a subject such as "Racism" brings with it a readily accepted controversial tag (relating to political and cultural viewpoints,etc.) something like articles on minor Pokémon characters seems to many to be non-controversial. However, there has been some contributors who believe that the coverage afforded such articles (sometimes even their existence!) devalues Wikipedia as a resource as they feel it trivialises or demeans "proper" encyclopedic subject matter such as sciences, art and literature. Such a viewpoint may be considered controversial by editors who believe as this "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" then it will of necessity contain subjects reflecting the interests of its range of contributors. Even within a supposedly non-controversial article there may be aspects which provoke controversy; Homo neanderthalensis is unlikely to be considered a legitimate article by those who believe in Creationism, whereas some of the scientific community are not convinced that the case is proven that the neanderthals contributed to modern humans DNA.
Ultimately, if there were no articles on Wikipedia with some degree of controversy there would not be much of an encyclopedia left. Wikipedia has a useful guideline for anyone considering editing a controversial subject.
"Why would anyone want to edit a controversial subject, anyway?"
The glib answer is, "To improve the encyclopedia!"
The truth is that there may be many reasons. Some people may hold strong opinions on a particular matter, and would wish the article to fully articulate that viewpoint. Some people may not think that the article or their opinion on it is controversial, and some people simply want Wikipedia to be the best resource possible and will edit wherever they feel they can contribute. Lastly, someone may be knowledgeable with regard to the subject matter and feel that they are able to contribute.
Further, subjects generally regarded as "controversial" are the flipside of popular subjects, in that most people have an opinion in regards to the subject matter before visiting the article in Wikipedia. With a controversial subject this opinion is potentially more extreme and entrenched. This may manifest in a desire to edit the subject article. Providing that the edits are verifiable, are not original research, are not violations of copyright, and do not remove (or alter in such a way as to change the meaning) of other existing material, and otherwise comply with Wikipedia's Manual of Style, then they are welcome. If an edit fulfills the above criteria then it also complies with Wikipedia: Neutral Point of View, since there is nothing to stop a subsequent editor contributing in exactly the same manner – but perhaps with differing or even opposing context.
"I am being attacked by other editors for my perceived beliefs relating to subjects I edit"
Every editor has the right to edit any subject they wish to, and to expect to be treated with respect and courtesy by their fellow contributors. Comment on editors, outside of administrative related matters, is discouraged. One of the most rigorously upheld policies is Wikipedia:No personal attacks, which major point is, "comment on content, not on the contributor". It should be noted that there are no sub-clauses for controversial subjects, or those who edit upon them. The policy is intended to be applied universally.
Wikipedia:Assume good faith requires all editors to assume that people edit articles for no other reason than to improve the encyclopedia. Those who choose to edit articles considered controversial are also subject to AGF considerations, therefore any comment on why they do so and for what motives is not permissible. Depending on the subject matter, speculation on possible motives is can be considered a personal attack; these articles may include those relating to politics, sexual activities, religions and nationalist issues. While some editors may have no concern in being associated with the subjects they edit this is not true of all, and NPA exists to protect all contributors (including those editors who edit controversial subject matter) from adverse comment. In short, attacks on editors is not allowed – and particularly in respect of their perceived beliefs and moreover in regard to the articles they choose to edit.
Some articles are controversial simply by the subject matter, and some articles are controversial in sometimes the manner, and also by whom, they are edited. A few articles are controversial for both reasons. Those who choose to edit such subjects need to be aware of how Wikipedia considers and deals with editors who choose to contribute to the encyclopedia in such fields: it does not distinguish between the editor of any subject, nor any subject. Therefore, every rule, policy or guideline applies equally to all editors. No exceptions.
If an editor has followed, or attempted to follow to the best of their ability and the information available, the criteria then there is nothing that can be criticised in their contribution. The content can, and should. This is more than allowable; it actively encouraged, because reviewing content and removing that which fails the standards of the rest of the article both improves the quality of content and allows room for more of the same good standard. A contributor should be prepared to allow the removal of their contributions, and are encouraged to remove it themselves, on the basis of quality.
These are the only criteria by which material can be added and removed. Sometimes there will be disagreement over whether the criteria for inclusion or removal of content has been met. This is understood and there are various procedures and methods by which agreement can be reached. The primary means is by discussion and reaching consensus. Consensus is the agreement that one side has "proven" that their interpretation of the rules, policies and guidelines most best reflects the argument on whether content should be included or removed, and the majority of parties will abide by that interpretation. Where consensus cannot be reached by discussion between the parties involved there are other methods of dispute resolution, but all are to the same end. It is in regard to content.
Anything else – everything else! – regarding content is not permitted. Who wrote it? Doesn't matter. Why they wrote it? Doesn't matter. Why else was it removed? Doesn't matter. How old is the editor? Er... excuse me? If the comment does not relate specifically to the content, and in relation to Wikipedia's editing policies, then it should either be ignored or have it brought to the questioners attention that it is irrelevant.
Once an editor has checked (and double checked) their contributions and are satisfied that they meet the guidelines, and still find someone is questioning their validity but are unable to qualify how Wikipedia's editing rules are being violated, the complainant is then, i). not assuming good faith, ii). not being civil and therefore, iii) are attacking the editor personally. The contributor has the right for the assistance of all editors of, and all the remedies available by, Wikipedia.
"What do I do now?"
Continue contributing to Wikipedia, "the free encyclopedia anyone can edit".
List of Controversial Subjects