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Wikipedia launches new code of conduct that bans “false” info and “trolling,” encourages preferred pronoun use

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The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind the world’s biggest online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has announced a new code of content for Wikipedia that prohibits “hate speech” and “false” information on the site and also heavily promotes identity politics.

Under the new code of conduct, Wikipedia contributors are expected to “respect the way that contributors name and describe themselves” and this includes “the use of people’s preferred gender identity using distinct names or pronouns.”

When announcing the new code of conduct, Wikimedia’s CEO Katherine Mayer focused heavily on the identity politics aspect of this policy by describing on how it will create an “inclusive environment” and reduce “negative behavior”:

“Our new universal code of conduct creates binding standards to elevate conduct on the Wikimedia projects, and empower our communities to address harassment and negative behavior across the Wikimedia movement. Through this effort, we can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for contributors and readers, and a more representative source of knowledge for the world.”

In addition to encouraging contributors to use people’s preferred pronouns, gender identities, and more, the new policy also bans a range of “unacceptable” behaviors which include:

  • “Hounding” which is defined as “following a person across the project(s) and repeatedly critiquing their otherwise satisfactory work mainly with the intent to upset or discourage them.”
  • “Trolling” which is defined as “deliberately disrupting conversations or posting in bad-faith to intentionally provoke.”
  • “Hate speech in any form, or discriminatory language” which is defined as speech or language that is “aimed at vilifying, humiliating, inciting hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of who they are or their personal beliefs.”

Of course, all of these so-called unacceptable behaviors are based on the subjective interpretations of those enforcing the rules. Only the contributor can know the intent of their post. But if the enforcers decide that a contributor intended to act in bad-faith, disrupt, discourage, or humiliate via their posts, then they’ll face sanctions.

The code of conduct also has several new prohibitions on what the enforcers deem to be “biased, false, inaccurate or inappropriate content.” These prohibitions include a ban on “systematically manipulating content to favour specific interpretations of facts or points of view.”

Ironically, this ban on so-called false information points to one of the biggest areas for which Wikipedia is often criticized. The platform prevents certain sources from being cited which often means that the remaining sources that can be cited will favor specific interpretations or points of views.

A cursory glance of the introductory paragraph on many Wikipedia pages will also show a clear favor towards interpreting the facts to support a specific point of view. For example, the introductory paragraph for Big Tech platforms often focuses on neutral factors such as the platform’s history, functionality, and founders while the introductory paragraph for alt-tech platforms usually focuses on criticism and negative media coverage.

While these new rules claim that they’ll stamp out biased, false, and inaccurate content, they’re based on the subjective interpretation of those enforcing the rules. And to date, those who have enforced the rules have allowed certain points of view to be selectively amplified for years via the introductory paragraphs on Wikipedia pages.

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