[WikiEN-l] Factions vs. Division (was Re: Divisive and Inflammatory Behavior, was CSD T1)

Erik Moeller eloquence at gmail.com
Tue May 16 16:14:16 UTC 2006

On 5/16/06, Steve Bennett <stevage at gmail.com> wrote:
> Rather, unnecessarily or unbeneficially disruptive behaviour should be
> discouraged, and not all heated debates fall into those categories. A
> passionate debate about a near-featured-article could be quite
> beneficial, for example.
> However, divisive and inflammatory behaviour is generally disruptive
> without having any benefits to the Wikipedia project.

I would prefer a term like "ideological factions" to "division".
Division is natural and happens all the time when people disagree.
Even permanent groups devoted to particular topics are something we
want to promote and develop further. It's the formation of permanent
_ideological_ factions which tends to hurt Wikipedia, and these are
again distinct from user groups devoted to particular topics.

It's within factions that phenomena like vote stacking and POV pushing
occur. And it's the convenience of adding an ideological userbox with
categories to your page which may contribute to forming a faction.

The last thing I want to see is people on [[Talk:Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints]] arguing that a new guy who tries to fix
up the currently awful "Criticism" section is trying to "divide the
community" by focusing on "contentious and inflammatory content" with
"clear intent to disrupt and provoke." In reality, it might well be
that an ideological faction of Mormons is dominating the article -- in
which case they would be the ones acting against the spirit of
Wikipedia by trying to drown out criticism. (No offense intended to
Mormons with this arbitrary example.)

There's the additional risk that even a well-defined policy on
"division" will lead to heavy-handed enforcement, which itself would
lead to division and hurt. For instance, many users currently have
strong political and religious messages on their userpages. With a new
guideline against "divisive behavior", I can easily see some people
with good intentions who might start warning these people that their
user pages are "divisive because of their ideological content", etc.
They would cite Jimbo's words like gospel, link to the new guideline,
and eventually try to enforce it by editing out problematic content,

But those people (the ones with the userpages) aren't forming
factions, and their userpages only declare their biases. Certainly we
can use common sense when something is clearly designed to attack and

I support a statement or guideline against forming ideological
factions. I think a statement against division would be interpreted
too broadly. As for those userboxes about ideological associations,
these could either be converted into boxes about topical associations
("This user is a Christian  => This user is interested in
Christianity"), "defactonized" by removing categories, or deleted.

By the way, I think the ideological distinction of "inclusionist" vs.
"deletionist" is probably more harmful to Wikipedia than most
userboxes have ever been, because it tends to overshadow reasoned
discourse without prejudice.


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