[Foundation-l] Compulsory policies for all Wikipedias

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Fri Apr 10 18:33:22 UTC 2009

Fred Bauder wrote:
> I think the assumption is that any Wikipedia will adopt the general
> policies found on the English Wikipedia, but tailor them for local
> conditions. A project which wishes to significantly deviate from the
> general principles of everyone can edit, neutral point of view, and using
> reliable sources should probably be independent.
> Perhaps it is time a definite policy is drafted and published.
I have consistently supported the five pillar approach.  Four of these 
should apply to *all* Wikimedia projects, and the fifth, Wikipedia is an 
encyclopedia can only apply to the wikipedias. Indeed, the sister 
projects are all based on some departure from that pillar.

Important as it may be, reliable sources was not one of the original 
principles.  It grew out of subsequent necessity, and has become an 
important second-level principle. It should not be accorded a higher 
status because of the inherent instability and unreliability of defining 

That everyone can edit and neutral point of view are important, as are 
free content and assuming good faith.  Compared to the bureaucratic 
brick that Europe's functionaries would call a constitution the US 
Constitution is a model of brevity.  Brevity is essential if a document 
is to receive the respect of the general population.  Remove from the US 
Constitution all those plumbing bits, like limiting a president to two 
terms, that are unlikely to have an effect on the daily lives of the 
citizens, and the document is simpler still. Few, if any, countries 
receive such unquestioning support for their constitutions; in part, the 
ability of citizens to cite its main points is no doubt a factor in that 
support.  Who can possibly cite, or even find, the principles that 
underlie the European constitutional document.

Suggesting that the general policies of the English Wikipedia should be 
adopted on other projects is counterproductive.  There may have been a 
time to do this at a very early stages of the new projects, but that 
time is long past.  However popular the current US president may be 
around the world doesn't change the fact that the citizens in the 
countries of the "free world" did not democratically elect him as their 
leader.  Each existing project must have the opportunity to accept those 
principles, and the best way to insure that they do is to keep them 
simple and without interpretive embellishments. I already tend to 
believe that what we now have at [[WP:5]] is already too verbose.

Drafting and publishing a policy is one thing, but unless everyone has 
the opportunity to feel that it is consistent with their beliefs, it 
will not be viewed with respect.  Addressing such issues was certainly a 
part of my vision for supporting the Volunteer Council last year.


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