[WikiEN-l] Userboxes: A rational proposal

Philip Welch wikipedia at philwelch.net
Sun Feb 19 11:23:53 UTC 2006

> The more I think about it, the more I agree with the first. I find it
> harder to assume good faith when someone blatantly states their strong
> POV.

This depends--context is everything. For instance, I'm libertarian,  
but I've edited [[Libertarianism]] because I like to pretend I know  
something about the subject. In the interest of full disclosure I  
might mention that I am libertarian, which might unknowingly color my  
contributions. If I edited a lot about politics (I don't), I might  
want to outright state, "Here are my biases, if they get in my way  
let me know and help me improve."

If someone's pushing a POV, you can tell from editing patterns alone.  
On the other hand, if someone is making valuable, good-faith, albeit  
biased contributions, it's a lot easier to assume good faith when  
they say straight out "here's my bias, if it shows in my  
contributions too much feel free to correct."

> Someone says "I am anti-abortion", then proceeds to edit pages
> pertaining to abortion - what are you going to assume? That he's there
> to fix typos?

This might surprise you, Steve, but people with a strong interest in  
something generally have an opinion about it too, and vice versa.  
People usually edit articles about their own interests, after all.

Abortion in particular is the biggest issue where people's opinions  
tend to create blind spots. Pro-lifers tend to fail to understand and  
appreciate abortion-choice arguments while abortion-choicers tend to  
fail to understand and appreciate pro-life arguments, and no one  
seems willing to acknowledge that the other side holds their opinions  
in good faith. It's these blind spots which make it utterly crucial  
for us as editors to be open with one another about our biases so we  
can correct one another's mistakes.

> For the same reason that we don't allow strong POV usernames
> (AntiAbortionCrusader etc), shouldn't we discourage stating of POVs on
> userpages?

Not if we want to get an encyclopedia written according to the  
neutral point of view.

Philip L. Welch

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