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Discussion report

COI and NOTCENSORED: policies under discussion

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By Whenaxis

In brief
Discussions of note
  • Poll to determine why there is a lack of non-date-specific submissions for "Today's featured article"
  • An RfC on the Arbitration Committee and how to deal with good-editing sockpuppets.
  • RfC on adding a more prominent link to Special:MyContributions for IP editors
  • RfC about allowing watchlisting of user contributions
  • Binding community discussion on the Abortion article titles, as requested by the Arbitration Committee
  • RfC on the proposed cessation of selective delete (other than history merge fixes) and resulting changes to deletion policies, including the removal of a Revision Deletion criterion
Discussions covered in the main body of the discussion report are not listed here.

This week saw a major change in focus from conduct (last edition) to policies. Discussions have been started through various avenues on Wikipedia about a number of policies such as WP:NOTCENSORED and WP:COI.

When should Wikipedia be considered "not censored"?

In a nutshell
"Wikipedia is not censored" (often condensed to "NOTCENSORED") is a section within the "What Wikipedia is not" policy that is a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow. NOTCENSORED is an extension of the content disclaimer about how images and text that are relevant to the subject may seem inappropriate or objectionable to some readers. NOTCENSORED only applies in situations where text or images are factually relevant to the subject in the article; a nude picture in an article about bananas is not, of course, covered.
The problem
A discussion started on February 26 by Adjwilley at the village pump centered around alleged abuse of NOTCENSORED. The initiator proposed that the policy be made more specific on when it is applicable by expanding upon the context as currently written and citing examples of when the policy can be used. The context of when the policy is applicable appears to be the main focus of discussion. Participating editors also noted the relevance of the debate to another policy that is aligned with NOTCENSORED, called WP:GRATUITOUS.

Interest in conflict re:"Conflict of interest"

Debate prep
Policies, guidelines and essays

Editors are sometimes confused about what exactly distinguishes a policy from a guideline and an essay:

  • Policies have wide acceptance among editors and describe standards that all users should normally follow.
  • Guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus. Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply.
  • Essays are the opinion or advice of an editor or group of editors (such as a WikiProject) for which widespread consensus has not been established. They do not speak for the entire community and may be created and written without approval.
In a nutshell
"Conflict of interest" (often abbreviated to "COI") is a generally accepted behavioral guideline, intended to maintain Wikipedia as a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopaedia. Conflicts of interest are described as comprising the following: inclusion of autobiographical material, editing for financial gain, significant involvement with the subject of a Wikipedia article, promoting oneself or advocating on behalf of one's client.

A discussion was opened by ASCIIn2Bme at the urging of the Arbitration Committee for the following reason:

Many issues concerning paid editing, anonymous editing, outing and harassment, are unresolved. Our policies and guidelines are complicated and sometimes contradictory. Investigating, sanctioning and/or exonerating editors on the basis of who they are or what they do in real life is not only controversial but often impossible. Furthermore, extreme cases apart, there is no consensus about the extent that editors may edit articles on topics with which they are personally involved. Hence, of necessity, review must focus primarily on the editing patterns of those editors about whom problems are claimed.

This discussion has commenced in light of the recently closed TimidGuy ban appeal arbitration case. Some suggestions under debate include deleting the guideline outright, tagging it as {{historical}}, upgrading it to a policy, and requiring editors to openly declare conflicts of interest on their user pages.

Are you a close follower of important discussions within the project? Do you consider an informed community essential for Wikipedia's health and future? The Signpost is seeking regular contributors to the Discussion report feature; step forward if interested in the comments, at the WP:NEWSROOM, or by email at

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I like this section a lot - major ongoing discussions are of great interest to me and often easy to overlook. Dcoetzee 00:38, 13 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you for your comment. Any suggestions to improve the discussion report? Whenaxis talk · contribs | DR goes to Wikimania! 23:39, 17 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Honestly I think the current format is excellent - good summaries of major ongoing issues combined with other issues in brief. One thing I might add is "discussions resolved this week" along with their conclusions. Dcoetzee 00:00, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]


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