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WMF Board announces Community Culture Statement

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By Wikimedia Foundation
ELNÒS Shopping mall pattern, photo by Luca Bravo
This announcement originally appeared at the Wikimedia Foundation News

On May 22 the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees voted to ratify new trust and safety standards for Wikipedia and all other Wikimedia projects. The standards, as outlined in a new Community Culture Statement, provide direction and priority to address harassment and incivility within the Wikimedia movement and create welcoming, inclusive, harassment-free spaces in which people can contribute productively and debate constructively.

Specifically, the Board has tasked the Foundation with:

The Board’s statement formalizes years’ of longstanding efforts by individual volunteers, Wikimedia affiliates, Foundation staff, and others to stop harassment and promote inclusivity on Wikimedia projects.

Please see the Board’s Community Culture Statement below and on Meta-Wiki.

Statement on Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces

Harassment, toxic behavior, and incivility in the Wikimedia movement are contrary to our shared values and detrimental to our vision and mission. They negatively impact our ability to collect, share, and disseminate free knowledge, harm the immediate well-being of individual Wikimedians, and threaten the long-term health and success of the Wikimedia projects. The Board does not believe we have made enough progress toward creating welcoming, inclusive, harassment-free spaces in which people can contribute productively and debate constructively.

In recognition of the urgency of these issues, the Board is directing the Wikimedia Foundation to directly improve the situation in collaboration with our communities. This should include developing sustainable practices and tools that eliminate harassment, toxicity, and incivility, promote inclusivity, cultivate respectful discourse, reduce harms to participants, protect the projects from disinformation and bad actors, and promote trust in our projects.

Specifically, the Foundation shall:

Until such directives are implemented, the Board instructs the Foundation to adopt and implement policies for reducing harassment and toxicity on our projects and minimizing legal risks for the movement, in collaboration with communities whenever practicable. Until these two phases of the UCoC are complete and operational an interim review process involving community functionaries will be in effect. In this interim period, the Product Committee of the Board of Trustees will also advise the Trust & Safety team.

To that end, the Board further directs the Foundation, in collaboration with the communities, to make additional investments in Trust & Safety capacity, including but not limited to: development of tools needed to assist our volunteers and staff, research to support data-informed decisions, development of clear metrics to measure success, development of training tools and materials (including building communities’ capacities around harassment awareness and conflict resolution), and consultations with international experts on harassment, community health and children’s rights, as well as additional hiring.

The above efforts will be undertaken in coordination and collaboration with appropriate partners from across the movement, seek to increase effective community governance of conduct and behavioral standards, and reduce the long-term need of the Foundation to act. It is the shared goal of the Board and Foundation that these efforts advance a sustainable Wikimedia movement and support, rather than substitute, effective models of community governance.

We urge every member of the Wikimedia communities to collaborate in a way that models the Wikimedia values of openness and inclusivity, step forward to do their part to create a safe and welcoming culture for all, stop hostile and toxic behavior, support people who have been targeted by such behavior, assist good-faith people learning to contribute, and help set clear expectations for all contributors.

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So if I understand this correctly, there will be only one code of conduct everywhere on the WMF? That’s a good idea, though I personally thought it was already implied that we have to avoid any harassment or bad behaviour. RedBulbBlueBlood9911|Talk 02:52, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

You are correct. But "already implied" seems to be inadequate, as might be expected considering that we have people editing from all over the world with different understandings and customs. Smallbones(smalltalk) 12:34, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
No, what it would do is place a minimum standardised set of criteria (with the issue that different groups of individuals need different minimums, and a global minimum may overshoot some of these), but local communities can place more strenuous restrictions on top of that. Nosebagbear (talk) 12:41, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
As a query, is there a definition for "community functionaries". I'd always thought that both en-wiki and meta use "functionary" (all of which are community functionaries) to mean several limited groups (CUs, OS, 'crats etc), but that doesn't work here. I could well be wrong about meta use, if someone is able to confirm that? Or have they just picked words without ensuring lack of clash with current meta definitions? Nosebagbear (talk) 12:41, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Is there any place where we can see or take part in discussions for this proposed code? I was considering proposing a rule against people accusing other of bias, especially political, or alleging racism/communalism without any proof (for example, in many articles relating to Indian politics (especially involving Hindu-Muslim relations) like Talk:2020 Delhi riots, a few users (possibly right-wingers?) were acting like pro-Modi Twitterati and accusing Wikipedia of bias, when the problem lay in the fact that mainstream media covered whatever they disliked, and blatantly biased media sites (some of which were banned from being used as sources due to doxing) were covering what they liked) RedBulbBlueBlood9911|Talk 12:58, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

@RedBulbBlueBlood9911:, The place where discussions are taking place is meta:Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/May 2020 - Board of Trustees on Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces. At least that's where volunteers are leaving comments, & talking to each other; it's an open question just how much effect anything written there will have on the final draft. But if we don't participate, we will certainly have no effect on it. -- llywrch (talk) 20:29, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The narrow focus on civility is now frequently serving to privilege the Randy in Boise-style editors who fail to recognise the limits of their own competence, but who are frequently adept at leveraging conduct policies to denounce those who critique their incompetent contributions. Instead, they denounce as "uncivil" or as "bullying"/"bludgeoning" etc any critiques of their unevidenced, poorly reasoned contributions to consensus-forming discussions, and adopt a definition of "civility" which amounts to "how dare you challenge my lack of policy, evidence or sound logic".
This tendency to characterise normal scholarly discourse and critique as "bullying" or "harassment" has the potential to hollow out Wikipedia by structurally disadvantaging Wikipedians with expertise and/or those who employ critical thinking. Its end-product will be a project dominated by under-skilled editors who don't recognise their own limitations. The remedy is fairly simple: to include in the baseline code of conduct a requirement for all editors to adopt scholarly rigour, to recognise the limits of their own competence in that regard, and to act within those limits. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 02:39, 7 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]


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