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Wikiethics include principles of ethical standards related to editing articles on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has a body of policies that presuppose the existence of ethical standards in both the editors contributing, and the encyclopedia itself. Although these ethical standards are largely undefinable this document aims to outline their parameters and scope.
- 1 Editorial Guidelines
- 2 Editorial standards
- 3 Policies relevant to ethics on Wikipedia
- 4 See also
The following sections provide important guidelines for editing an article. It is also helpful on how to have a productive editorial discussion concerning Wikipedia articles when disputes arise.
Due to diversity of editor backgrounds, the interpretation of terms like 'offensive', 'censorship', 'pornography', 'minority', 'acceptability' should always be decided on an article by article basis, and by following consensus.
Collective consciousness can be expressed as a common sense and common understanding of the contributing editors which does not strictly exclude ideas from minorities in a particular discussion.
The culture of compromise
It is generally possible to resolve a conflict by taking all possible options available into the consideration.
If a picture is causing concerns in an article, choosing visual or verbal description based on the judgement of the contributing editors might be helpful. Changing the image with a more encyclopedic one, lowering the picture in the article, providing a link instead, or posting a warning template are other options can be considered.
A 'straw poll' on a particular argument or on part of an article can be started at any time to see where community stands on that particular issue. It is reasonable to think that an 'approval poll', however, need to be started upon the completion of the proposals and based on consensus.
The appearance of anonymity does not exempt any editor from a responsibility to their personal ethics.
High editorial standards would add to reputation of Wikipedia. Important editorial standards in are discussed below.
A Wikipedia article should reflect judgment based on observable phenomena, physical reality and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices. Absence of bias, lack of emotional involvement are necessary. Separation between news, opinion, and advertisements is also equally important. Competing points of view need to be balanced and fairly characterized in the articles.
As Wikipedia becomes more popular and readership increases, the potential impact of published material, whether positive or negative, also magnifies. Editors should consider notable individuals rights to privacy and strive to limit unnecessary harms or discomfort to them. These factors should be balanced against the public interest in reporting information about them. This might occasionally lead to an ethical dilemma, and requires greater effort on the part of editors to discuss and deliberate when making editorial decisions.
When making editorial decisions, each editor should make some personal consideration of sensitivity towards private individuals, children and juveniles, victims of crimes, and people who are currently suffering grief and tragedy.
Wikipedia has an obligation towards its readers. It is not in WIkipedia editors' interest to act irresponsibly or improperly, in a manner that is contrary to public interest and violates the trust of our donors and the public. Keeping the public's trust is easier than regaining it.
Censorship in any form is not acceptable. 'No censorship' means information/descriptions/expressions should be included into or excluded from an article for only editorial reasons or ethical concerns based on the editorial consensus. Based on their judgement about verifiability, informative and encyclopedic nature of the materials editors can include or exclude some information, expressions and visual or verbal descriptions into or from an article. A description can be considered inappropriate for one article but it might be appropriate for another. The article-based classification gives that flexibility in decision-making to the editors.
It is not in our interest to offend Wikipedians or people who are using Wiki as a source of information. It is generally possible to find a different way of the same description which might be found less offensive or not offensive at all, while expressing the core idea clearly. A careful use of language can help in that direction. In doing so, keeping the informative materials stated objectively in the article is also necessary. It is always good to be considerate for the concerns raised by the 'minorities' of particular discussions or articles.
Pornography which can be described as visual or verbal descriptions or expressions that are intended to cause sexual excitement should generally be avoided in Wiki articles. The decision of what is appropriate is discussed on an article by article basis to form consensus.
Editors should be sensitive in portraying violence in the articles. Editors should also be sensitive about the rights of victims who are subject to violence and also the possibility, if any, that these portrayals may incite someone to harm others.
Racism can be defined as the notion that people of one race or creed are superior to another. In Wikipedia articles, expressions that unecessarily portray prejudice, discrimination or intolerance of people of race or creed are to be avoided.
Wiki articles must not be written from the perspective of supporting any political, social, or religious movements. Editors should be careful about the information put out by an organization or a government to promote a policy, idea, or cause. It is also good to be more conscious regarding the deceptive or distorted information that is systematically spread.
The possibility of causing unnecessary animosity between spiritual beliefs, lifestyles or ideologies should be carefully examined and avoided in making editorial decisions.
Sexism can be defined as discriminatory or abusive behavior towards someone based on their gender identification. Expressions that unnecessarily promote sexism in articles are not encyclopedic.
Policies relevant to ethics on Wikipedia
- Wikipedia:No binding decisions
- Wikipedia:Civility: Being rude, insensitive or petty makes people upset and stops Wikipedia working well. Try to discourage others from being uncivil, and be careful to avoid offending people unintentionally. Mediation is available if needed.
- WP:IUP: Be very careful when uploading copyrighted images, fully describe images' sources and copyright details on their description pages, and try to make images as useful and reusable as possible.
- Wikipedia:Libel: It is Wikipedia policy to delete libellous revisions from the page history. If you believe you have been defamed, please contact the help desk.
- Wikipedia:Neutral point of view: All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias. This includes reader-facing templates, categories and portals.
- Wikipedia:No original research: Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new analysis or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas.
- Wikipedia:No personal attacks: There is no excuse for personal attacks on other contributors. Do not make them. It is your responsibility to foster and maintain a positive online community in Wikipedia.
- WP:NOT: Wikipedia is first and foremost an online encyclopedia, and as a means to that end, an online community. Please avoid the temptation to use Wikipedia for other purposes, or to treat it as something it is not.
- WP:OWN: You agreed to allow others to modify your work here. So let them.
- Wikipedia:Three-revert rule: Do not revert any single page in whole or in part more than three times in 24 hours. (Or else an Administrator may suspend your account.)
- Wikipedia:Verifiability: Information on Wikipedia must be reliable. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
- Wikipedia:Assume good faith
- Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
- Wikipedia:Don't be a fanatic
- Wikipedia:Don't panic
- Wikipedia:NPOV dispute
- Wikipedia:Reliable sources
- Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages
- Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines
- Wikipedia:Writers' rules of engagement