Wikipedia:Politics

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Not to be confused with Wikipedia:WikiProject Politics.

As Wikipedia becomes better known and more widely read, and as people begin to see it as a service that is influential in the formation of people's beliefs, it will more and more be the case that politics and religion motivate edit war participants and cause troll war situations. This likely can't be avoided altogether. This is what people care about, and as they start to care more what is said here, they will grow more adamant about it, and use every propaganda technique in the book to promote their view, suppress others.

What this means, in practice, is that on any controversial issue, there will be not just differences of view and perspective, on sources and such, but differences on who is to be trusted and allowed to participate.

Such measures as temporary page protection can sometimes serve to prevent a neutral article from being utterly vandalized or denatured. However, it is unlikely that anyone will abandon their political views, and hold off from some future attack that wears down their opponents. A consequence of this is what is sometimes called an "edit war of attrition" where the side that has more time and typing speed eventually "conquers" an article.

This is particularly significant with regard to the Wikipedia:list of central issues. A political shift in those articles tends to create a shift in many other articles, which over time can alter what we here see as neutrality itself.

What it also means, in practice, is that there will be more and more calls to define such concepts as libel, hate, harassment, mental illness, revisionism and such in ways that probably serve some specific agenda. Such terms are sadly already in use now by some Wikipedians, and perhaps they are in some cases appropriate. However, some think that the existence of such terms itself reveals some such agenda: see psychiatry and anti-psychiatry, free speech and hate speech. The debates are not just about "what is right" but "who is allowed to speak", and indeed "what dictionary are we using".

We have a special responsibility at Wikipedia. That is, to represent points of view that are not our own, in a neutral manner. These may be views of people who are long dead. The objects or The Other may be the mentally challenged or uneducated or digitally divided. The views may be those of Asians, or blacks, or women, who are under-represented here. It is simply not enough to ask for neutrality between those views that are presently expressed, we must seek out views that are not fully expressed, but widely held, and reflect them. Otherwise our credibility is lost.

It is particularly important not to lose this perspective with respect to religion, ethics, or politics itself. We have done an admirable job so far of sorting out the various theories of civics and preventing differences on these issues from irreconcilably tearing us apart. But tension and differences and stakes are all increasing, and extra attention is required.

One starting point to a solution is the political virtues of Bernard Crick. Read these, and think about applying them to your work at Wikipedia. It can't hurt. And it just might save the whole project.