Changes proposed by the Wikimedia Foundation to diversify its community of editors raise existential questions for the online encyclopedia.
(4 Jan 2021) In 2021 the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the more than 300 different versions of Wikipedia, plans to finalize a uniform code of conduct that details unacceptable behavior among the project’s editors—including insults, sexual harassment, and doxing—and assigns corresponding punishments. The new system, which is being fashioned in consultation with the editors and administrators across the encyclopedias, would differ significantly from the current, decentralized disciplinary apparatus. Not only would there be uniform standards of conduct, but there likely would be easier access to the protection of privacy for those who make complaints of harassment.
These changes are vital to having a diverse community of editors, its advocates say, because the current system places a heavy burden on the marginalized groups most frequently targeted—women, people of color, and queer people—by having them speak out publicly against their abusers and risk retaliation. A foundation report on gender equity recounted a number of examples of harassment that followed from calling out misbehavior, like the editor who described having porn posted on their user page after complaining of porn posted on another editor’s user page. Once a harassment complaint is public, there can be added pressure on the person being harassed to accept minimal punishments against abusive editors who are popular in the community. Prevented from getting justice, editors who have been targeted by harassers frequently choose to leave.
Read the full article from WIRED here.