[Foundation-l] Do we need a Code of Participation?

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Mon Nov 5 08:47:06 UTC 2007

I've been thinking a bit about the whole issue of civility, and other
expectations that we may have from our editors.

While Wikimedia has a stronger tradition of civility than most online
communities, we still often fall short -- and perhaps part of the
reason is that we never ask our users to explicitly "opt into" the
core cultural principles of Wikimedia. Rather, we expect that they
will "soak them up" simply by being exposed to them in practice.

There are a few reasons why I think an explicit opt-in to a small
number of core principles would be a good idea:

* It means the user has to make an explicit choice. This may make them
more likely to think about those principles, to internalize them, or
to recall them later.

* It makes it clear that, "Ignore all rules" or not, there are
non-negotiable principles upon which the project is founded.

* It establishes more firmly the idea of "being a Wikimedian" -- it
contributes to a shared identity, across all projects.

I favor an opt-in statement that is _not_ a bunch of legalese "Terms
of Use", but short and to the point (possibly even illustrated :-).
Implementation-wise, it would be something that's part of the sign up
procedure. Rather than adding yet another checkbox, we could simply
use the existing account creation captcha image as a confirmation

If we do this, it would, in my view, be wise to ask any existing user
to also confirm their agreement with these principles upon their next

Here's a (very rough) example text:

- - -
I agree that, as a member of this community, I shall
* treat others with respect and kindness, and assume good faith in
their actions;
* participate in service to the mission of this project:
[one-line summary of project's mission, e.g. "to create a freely
licensed encyclopedia"]
* disclose any conflicts of interest, and recuse myself from editing
where they could impair my judgment.
- - -

Obviously this would still need a lot of editing. Whichever bullet
points would be considered most important, I believe the total number
should be limited to 3 to 5.

Toward Peace, Love & Progress:

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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