Wikilitigation

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Wikilitigation is a phenomenon that presumably first developed on Wikipedia, but has since spread to other wiki-based communities both within the WMF organization and on similar projects that have developed policy systems.

The term "wikilawyering" is generally used on Wikipedia to describe using policy to make a point that runs contrary to the spirit of the policy, so for the purposes of this project we will use the term "wikilitigation" to describe any incident where one or more policies are cited in order to provide legitimacy for two opposing positions.

Types[edit]

  • Acronym call and response
    • Many disputes will contain citations of policy to prove both sides of an issue. It's likely that some of these policies regularly co-occur in such debates.
  • Arguing the negative (when there isn't a policy...)
    • WP:NOT is an example of a negative policy. Tracing how this policy developed may be a good way to see how "negative derivations" have moved the policies over time to become more restrictive. I.e., when WP:NOT does not exclude something, wikilitigation might be used to say "since it's not in NOT, it must be permitted".
  • Policy vs guideline vs IAR

Questions[edit]

  • When was the term first coined?
  • Does wikilitigation produce positive changes?
  • Does wikilitigation spur changes to policy?
  • When does wikilitigation become wikilawyering?

Studies[edit]

  • WP:ARBCOM
  • WP noticeboards
  • Noticeboards on other WMF projects
  • Citizendium
  • The English language Wikipedia policy "Ignore all rules" : its purpose and history
  • History of the development of WP:NOT

Methods[edit]

  • Word clouds
  • Map of policies that seem to have contradictory indications
    • Tracing discussions on the noticeboards and VP over time should show pairings or groups that are often used in opposition to one another. Random samplings of archives with links to the policies as they stood at the time can show how wikilitigation leads to changes or refinements of policies.

Outreach[edit]

  • Academics studying this and related issues (see talk page).
  • Wikipedians who have engaged in wikilitigation, as defined above.
  • Village pump on WP
  • Wikipedia Review (done)