Policy talk:Universal Code of Conduct

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Open letter

I think it's over, so I can write. The adoption of UCOC is the worst process I have seen in the Movement and the Foundation. Complete disregard for communities, terrible English-centric text containing untranslatable terms, disregard for members on discussion pages, closed decision-making mechanisms.

I am glad that it was finally accepted, but I hope that the Foundation has drawn the right conclusions and those who organized this process will no longer make any decisions and will be expelled from all processes. Iniquity (talk) 10:11, 12 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@GVarnum-WMF and PEarley (WMF): shouldn't the Policy:Universal Code of Conduct/Enforcement guidelines be linked anywhere in this doc? Maybe a "see also" part in the footer? David Wadie Fisher-Freberg (talk) 07:22, 11 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. It should've been done already, especially since non-WMF editors aren't allowed to do it themselves. Tagging User:GVarnum-WMF and User:PEarley (WMF). Adrianmn1110 (talk) 08:04, 25 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@David Wadie Fisher-Freberg and Adrianmn1110:, thanks for the note, I've added a template at top linking to the guidelines. PEarley (WMF) (talk) 14:03, 26 April 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Typo edit request

in <!--T:87-->

Affecting or occuring on more than one project. See also: Global.


Thank you, --M7 (talk) 07:16, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@M7: Fixed it! Thank you for the alert! --Gregory Varnum (Wikimedia Foundation) [he/him] (talk) 11:30, 25 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@GVarnum-WMF - are we able to provide a list of typos in the UCOC for correction? There's quite a few and fixing them to let us focus on the substantive issues when we get to amendment time, that would be great. Nosebagbear (talk) 18:23, 30 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You are certainly welcome to submit them, although I would need to run them past our Legal department before adopting any changes (sometimes what someone sees as a typo is actually an intentional term usage by a lawyer). --Gregory Varnum (Wikimedia Foundation) [he/him] (talk) 06:57, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why are we over in Foundation Wiki?

Why have we moved both the dictated policy, the community-backed policy, and the discussions on the two over to Foundation-wiki?

Foundation-wiki is both harder to find, harder to edit (especially if you don't have an account), and splits from meta where these aspects should logically belong. Nosebagbear (talk) 18:25, 30 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As part of that, dozens of links in both the live and archived talk pages have become broken links - does Foundation-wiki have the bots that would correct such issues on major wikis? If not, they'll need to be corrected manually by whoever moved them. Nosebagbear (talk) 18:30, 30 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We will work to update those links once non-archive content is dealt with. --Gregory Varnum (Wikimedia Foundation) [he/him] (talk) 06:52, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am also curious why moving to Foundation Wiki. It would be difficult to maintain translation page and facilitate discussion, since there is only few volunteer admins (exclude Global Sysop as what they can only do is anti-vandalism). Thanks. SCP-2000 (talk) 19:03, 30 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@SCP-2000: Can you elaborate on how it will be difficult to maintain? Note that there will be a growing number of staff-based admins as this wiki gets used more, but I am curious about ideas related to more volunteer admins. Regarding the reduction of duplication, the pages have always been "officially housed" on this wiki - the duplicates on Meta-Wiki existed because this wiki could not previously facilitate translations or discussions. As those barriers have been removed, the primary reasons for duplication no longer existed. Given the legal reasons behind hosting the "primary versions" on this wiki have not changed, the problems with maintaining duplications appear and potential benefits with addressing them seem to outweigh risks (some of which are inherit with this wiki existing at all). However, I am at this point more interested in trying to address potential problems with this less duplicate oriented setup than debating a return to a setup we already know was not working. --Gregory Varnum (Wikimedia Foundation) [he/him] (talk) 06:56, 1 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It just says loud and clear, that the UCoC is no project from the community any more, but something against the community by some usurpers in the ivory tower.
The WMF is just the janitor of the real bosses, the communities, it must never ever have the last word over the real bosses, that would be a putsch. Sänger (talk) 14:36, 19 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sänger:: I believe that there is a saying "He who pays the piper calls the tune". Editors contribute by waiving their copyright, but the WMF puts up the cash and also absorbs the knocks if there are legal issues. Martinvl (talk) 15:24, 19 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"Assume good faith...All Wikimedians should assume unless evidence otherwise exists that others are here to collaboratively improve the projects, but this should not be used to justify statements with a harmful impact."

So AGF will now be enforced on projects without AGF as a guideline? Presumably, there are projects where AGF is just an essay, where guidelines don't provide any guidance on this, or, like my home project, where there is an explicit prohibition on assumptions of faith, good or bad. Heavy Water (talk) 18:19, 20 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Heavy Water I have always had concern about AGF and its many, equally off-putting analogs whereby any expression of disapproval, suspicion, critique or normal human emotions like frustration put the editor into a gray area right off the bat. I'm not sure of the correct venue to raise such concerns, but in my experience this approach typically goes nowhere precisely because anyone can ignore reason, then cite AGF and a slew of other rules you're arguably in violation of when you call them a jackass. If you happen to have an incredible amount of restraint, patience and persistence and can't be cited for anything else, open-ended catchalls like WP:NOTHERE (a blatant contradiction of AGF by any reasonable interpretation) usually get the job done. AGF is enforced exactly when it is convenient for them to do so. Otherwise there are plenty of other expedient rules and essays that provide grounds upon which any given user may be summarily ejected from the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Perhaps I'll write an essay of my own on the subject. What do you think? AP295 (talk)
@Heavy Water And since "assume good faith" only enforceable to the extent that we say what we assume, the rule could be equivalently stated as "do not question the motives of others." Without euphemistic phrasing that uses adjectives like "good" and "faith", the rule sounds exactly as Orwellian as it is. How should one make critical statements? If users are obliged to understate criticism and act as though others have no possible ulterior motive then critical discourse is severely debased. The expression of critique, discontent and frustration all go hand-in-hand and they are no less important than the expression of joy or any other "positive" message. When policy demands that users "avoid negativity" they should consider what that really means. What would we have besides a twilight zone of fawning, obsequious consumers and grinning, unchecked psychopathy? AP295 (talk)
The rest after part two is fairly straightforward and more or less amounts to "don't harass people or wreck the site". Part two strikes me as unusual because it's presented as advice. One can't interpret it as a set of positive obligations because policy statements like "Be ready to challenge and adapt your own understanding, expectations and behaviour as a Wikimedian" are nonspecific and obviously outside any given project's authority to enforce. It seems worthwhile to make the distinction between enforceable policy and statements like "Practice empathy." The needle in the haystack here is AGF, which at first appears to fit in with the rest of the ostensibly well-intended (if banal) advice but when re-worded to properly match the scope of a project's authority to enforce, turns out to be "do not question the motives of others." In compliance with AGF, I assume of course that this is all coincidental. AP295 (talk)
Indeed. Really, at least at en.wp, AGF is the rule from on high — when it's convenient. The framework of en.wn's never assume initially seems like it would turn users into a hostile bunch always suspicious of each other, but I've observed it actually lowers the temperature of community politics, even where strong interpersonal conflict is present. In fact, the honesty allowed by freedom from AGF and actual enforcement of the de jure etiquette guideline seems to make arguments clearer and allow us to summarily deal with disruptive elements, without politeness and often with what the UCoC defines as "insults". "We expect all Wikimedians to show respect for others" without "exceptions based on standing, skills...in the Wikimedia projects or movement": Even on en.wp, individuals judged not to meet WP:CIR ("skills") or vandals/spammers ("standing") don't get shown "respect". In the eyes of the community, they've lost it. And what would} "respect" entail? Apologizing when blocking them?
UCoC enforcement at projects with policies or guidelines conflicting it like en.wn's will be interesting to watch unfold; I expect, per "1 – Introduction" the WMF plans to take OFFICE action when a project isn't enforcing the UCoC in favor of its own policies or guidelines.
I find it unsurprising in the three months since I raised this question no WMF staffer has responded, even when, last month, I left a message on the talk page of a staffer involved in discussions above. But I have to AGF here, don't I? Oh well. I hope someday en.wn will be successful enough for the entire community to fork off (hey, I wonder if I'll get OFFICE-glocked for saying that). Heavy Water (talk) 14:54, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps the best remedy is exposure, e.g. essays, articles, etc. that concisely and accurately describe how rules like AGF are abused to avoid accountability and worded euphemistically to serve as a debauched stand-in for principle. We have no bearing on this policy except by public critique. Most of us are hardly born critics, least of all myself. We want to cooperate and one's calling, if they feel they have one, is almost always constructive. So many people would rather not exist at all than abandon their purpose. One faces a serious dilemma because messing around with the umpteenth variation of the multi-armed bandit problem or some obscure conjecture about conformal mappings while this demented twilight zone is progressively imposed upon the entirety of western culture starts to seem like grotesque misassignment of priorities. Knowing you're right but being at a lost for words while some two-faced shyster lectures you about social justice, gender prounouns, etc. is well likely to be the most annoying moment of one's life. We are in this position partly for lack of good examples to learn from. Perhaps I should attempt to curate some, or make up a course on the subject for Wikiversity. In any case, I'm not just going to let things go their way, nor should anyone else. Orwell wrote an excellent essay, "On Politics and the English Language". The essay is accurate in that Orwell recognizes the problem and identifies many of it salient components, but it is also an imprecise and somewhat awkward essay. Even Orwell was taxed in attempting to describe and generalize the issue. Anyway, I will probably use some of what I've written here in an essay of my own. AP295 (talk)
I wondered if you were going to go there. The rejection of AGF, for en.wn, is simply a variation in its rules as a Wikimedia project, not an endorsement of right-wing politics, or any other political ideologies, for that matter. I say this to defend Wikinews' reputation. Heavy Water (talk) 23:53, 13 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Go where? I do not subscribe to "right wing ideology", nor is anything I've written intended as a dog-whistle to imply that I do. Take my post at face value. Just because I am irritated at the media's rhetorical abuse of the phrase "social justice" does not mean that I resent or do not value social justice. Naturally I don't demand that you AGF, but if you'd like me to clarify my opinion on any given issue, then please just ask rather than make presumptions.
More importantly, nothing at all was said about wikinews or AGF that could possibly be construed as an endorsement of "right-wing ideology". There's no need to imitate the media's dramatic ritual of "disavowal", though it appears I've unconsciously done so too. It is not obvious that this pavlovian, knee-jerk reaction makes no sense whatsoever in this context here? Suppose I am "right wing", whatever that means to you. Suppose Hitler escaped to Brazil and I am his bastard grandson if you like. We were having a productive discourse. AP295 (talk)
Another instance of euphemism is the third bullet point of part 2.1: "Respect the way that contributors name and describe themselves." One assumes it means that we must use someone's preferred name and gender pronouns and the correct name of their race or tribe. That's entirely fine, but then, why doesn't it say exactly that? Since the UCoC already has a strong anti-harassment policy, would that not suffice? Otherwise it is very open to interpretation and therefore easy to abuse. If one uses preferred pronouns and names, but states they disagree that sex reassignment is indicated for gender dysphoria, are they in violation of the policy as it's worded now? If so, then fine, but then the policy should say as much. I would still comply with that rule and use the site, because it's then understood by everyone that the content is not an unbiased reflection of public opinion or consensus. How is vague, sugar-coated policy with carte blanche potential for censorship "left-wing"? How is one "right-wing" for speaking against it? AP295 (talk)
There = taking the way en.wn regards AGF and the WMF's nature as part of a broader notion about how society should operate. With "right-wing politics, or any other political ideologies, for that matter" my intent was to clarify Wikinewsies didn't intend, in adopting Never assume, to promote any broader ideas for society (partly for your information and partly for anyone else who might then take a negative view toward Wikinews; the project has enough opponents already). I apologize for the lot of extrapolation from your comment in interpreting parts of it as repeating right-wing talking points, possibly implying you were just POV-pushing. I guess when one sees a lot of people who are just POV-pushing and happen to be saying similar things, one thinks the conclusions are obvious. I didn't intend to halt this discussion, though. I would agree the vagueness was likely written into 2.1.3 to allow for selectivity in enforcement. Somewhat related: m:User:Tom Morris/WMFers Say The Darndest Things. Heavy Water (talk) 05:19, 14 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for saying so, I was worried that you might have decided to terminate the conversation right there. It would have been a bad example, so I'm glad that's not the case. Not that there are many young, impressionable children reading policy discussions on wikimedia's talk pages, but I've had conversations that ended in a similar manner on sites like reddit. AP295 (talk)
Not that you asked, but you may or may not be interested in an essay I'm writing on the subject of political media in the United States: https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Socialism/America%27s_political_idiom It's a work in progress and presently quite a mess but the point is pretty clear. I inserted a couple of comments that I made here too. The left/right dichotomy as it exists in the media (and therefore also to some extent in the public's mind) is essentially just hokum. One long-running TV drama. Pomp and pantomime. I'd go on but I'd just be repeating what I've already written in the essay, and I don't want to get off topic.
Suffice to say, that (for example) there's significant possibility Clinton was/is a serial rapist (see Hitchens 1999) and Kissinger a mass murderer (Hitchens 2001) and both go about unmolested while we are here blathering ritual "disavowals" of ideological motive for fear of reprisal is a perfect example of the demented, pavlovian behavior that we seem to feel is expected of us and that we have come to expect from others. It seems trite to complain about "political correctness", but it really is a cancer. Suppose one didn't want to humor gender pronouns or the concept of gender being different from sex. Suppose they club baby seals on the weekends. In moral terms they'd still be well ahead of the people we're expected to endorse for the sake of "political correctness". Anyone who has any genuine ideological perspective at all probably is, because they are willing to stand on principle, however misguided it may or may not be. I won't let it be implied that ideology (that is, to have an ideal) is unacceptable or anti-social. UCoC part 2 and so much other policy in that vein are, in spirit, just fine. It's the way they're worded and enforced that promotes an awful culture, but of course to isolate this problem one must insinuate bad faith, one must be negative, one must be critical. I'll be surprised if our conversation has any immediate bearing on UCoC or other policy, but it's still a worthwhile conversation to have, if for no reason other than to hash it out for readers and for our own skills in critical discourse. AP295 (talk)
Not touching that one, eh? I can understand, with your project being up in the air. But then, I'm a bit confused myself. What's the point of news if you have to walk on eggshells and avoid uncomfortable or inconvenient topics? Hitchens was no crackpot. He was the archetypal far-left pundit. Anyway, my suggestion is to do away with part two of the UCoC entirely, which I feel is strongly supported by this discussion. AP295 (talk)

After considering the problem a bit more, I'm convinced even AGF would be relatively benign if not for the following sentence: Criticism should be delivered in a sensitive and constructive manner. This encourages people to take criticism personally. Honest and straightforward criticism of an author's work must not be taken as criticism of its author or treated as incivility, regardless of the extent to which the work is contradicted. Obviously a critique should not be barbaric, but nor should its value and acceptability as a contribution be subject to additional and ill-defined qualifiers such as "constructive" or worse yet "sensitive". Nor should it be debased by euphemism and other attempts at sparing the ego of the author, who would almost certainly prefer a plain-language critique to being patronized if they themselves are participating in good faith. I can humor gender pronouns and other such things, but it seems to undermine the stated mission of many projects if criticism and critics themselves are dispensed with simply by feigning indignation and treating their contribution as a personal attack rather than another form of collaboration, no less valuable than the next. One need not make any statement about the author so AGF is easy enough to comply with so long as a distinction is made between an author and their work. The editor is entitled to humanity, decency and other such niceties. However in publishing their work, are they not obliged to accept criticism of that work? One can hardly even call that a vestige of accountability, but merely acknowledgement that no contribution should be immune to criticism and that criticism shouldn't be subject to the possibility of arbitrary sanction by needlessly vague policy. I hope but do not expect that someone will offer a counterargument if not seriously consider removing this part of the policy, which is far-reaching in its effect. Wikipedia alone is frequently a first-page result on most search engines for any given query. If one asks the amazon echo a question, it often quotes Wikipedia. It seems there ought to be some degree of accountability at least for policy. AP295 (talk) 01:40, 9 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can't help feeling a bit dense for not isolating this sentence earlier. I probably would have if it were not set within the other, equally wishy-washy prose of part two, all of which makes a vaguely irritating impression and strikes me as unnecessary. But it's this sentence that singles out and places constraints upon criticism while subtly conflating an author with their work that I feel is the most harmful and which I should probably have picked up on sooner. In any case, I feel the above paragraph is a strong prima facie argument for the removal of at least that sentence from UCoC, and perhaps also for a guideline to the effect of what I've written above. While I'm not sure it will be acknowledged by those whom it may concern, I'm pretty damned sure it won't be refuted. As always, comments, concerns, suggestions, hate mail and so forth are all welcome. Personally I'm delighted by any sort of feedback. While I don't presume that I myself am worthy of anyone's attention, I find the apparent disinterest in conversation on wikipedia and its sister projects wholly bizarre and unnatural, and much of the conversation that does occur is administrative, so to speak, rather than actual discourse. I don't know how anyone could stand to be so cagey and standoffish all the time, but that's my impression of the typical editor, and this is also true of other social media sites and often in real life as well. Sometimes I feel that most people hardly even act like humans. Strange times. AP295 (talk) 03:09, 9 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]