Wikimedia Ethics/Case Studies
Much early work on this project has been devoted to the creation of various 'Case Studies', with early feedback indicating that this may be a useful and valuable method for exploration of the issues. We have had conflict however in deciding whether to choose a tangible, detailed approach in examining specific cases, with the associated danger of 'personalization', or an anomalous approach which distills the issues at hand, but remains abstracted.
It is also important to disclose that the information relating to specific cases has been written in part (and in places, in whole) by the protagonists in the cases explored. Project participants should feel free to create new 'Case Study' pages as they see fit, though multiple derivative works may be confusing to potential learners at a certain point.
- To discuss this further, please go to the specific page and its companion talk page
This example is fictional, and may represent common ground
User:Foo posted a message to User:Bar's talk page stating "Hello Bar, I know that your name is George Bigginsworth, and that you live at 12 Acacia Lane, stop editing Wikipedia or I'll take this further".
User:Foo is immediately indefinitely blocked, and the edit he made is removed permanently from the database, so as to be invisible to all editors and administrators except the very few with the 'oversight' privilege.
- Is that it? Is there anything else we should do?
- From: Illustrative Examples
Let's compare the ethical management of something the reader may not be familiar with, with something they are sure to have some knowledge of : slavery in the United States. While the two, in scale and importance, are as different as bumping a toe and dying in a car crash; such a comparison can illuminate the role of an illustrative example. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. That tells you a lot about the institution's acceptance and pervasiveness. But it does not tell you who or what is to blame nor what process is useful in fixing the problem. The same is true with ethical practices at Wikipedia. Although there are certain individuals who have been accused of being especially unethical, it does not follow that they are the problem, nor that dealing with them as individuals will fix the problem. So, because of that, this project will not dwell on individuals so much as on systematic and systemic issues. No example is to be understood as fixing of blame for problems of the system as a whole on any specific people.
- Wikipedia Review (A messageboard dedicated to purported ethical problems at the English language Wikipedia; unfortunately mixed in with ethical violations of its own and many banned editors)
- w:Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents (Wikipedia's management problem notification board)
- w:Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Arbitration Committee (illustrative example of problem with current management structure)
- w:Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration (Wikipedia management's major problem tracking and control system)
Managing personal information
Issues of pseudo anonymity, 'outing', respect for fellow editors, and the need to maintain a collegial atmosphere free from bullying and harassment are relevant to the ethical management of Wikipedia. This section is for case studies related to these issues.
Rules (Policies, Guidelines etc.)
There is a known conflict between the values of privacy and neutral point of view when there is a concealed conflict of interest or sock-puppetry.