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Wikipedia introduces new Universal Code of Conduct to fight harassment

Wikipedia introduces new Universal Code of Conduct to fight harassment


The company is still working on how it’ll enforce these new policies, though

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Wikipedia has introduced a Universal Code of Conduct that looks to create a global standard for the site and ensure a “diverse, inclusive, and accessible” community of contributors, continuing its efforts to fight harassment.

The formal code of conduct — like many Wikimedia projects — was a crowdsourced project, with over 1,500 volunteers from around the world contributing. It’s intentionally designed to be relatively short and easily comprehensible to users, measuring in at a brisk 1,600 words.

Broadly speaking, the new code of conduct is broken down into two categories: positive behavior that’s expected from users, editors, and Wikimedia employees, and unacceptable behavior that the company looks to discourage.

Expected behavior includes having mutual respect for others, engaging in constructive editing, and respecting things like personal pronouns for other contributors. The code of conduct also encourages users to help support each other on projects and to mentor new editors.

On the flip side of things, the code of conduct explicitly calls out harassment — be it insults, sexual harassment, threatening language, doxxing, or bad faith arguments — along with “any behavior intended primarily to intimidate, outrage, or upset a person.” Abuse of power is similarly banned, as is content vandalism, hate speech, and “deliberately introducing biased, false, inaccurate, or inappropriate content” to Wikipedia.

The code of conduct follows the company’s announcement of plans to enact more formal policies against harassment and inappropriate behavior on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites last year.

The new Universal Code of Conduct is just the first part of the company’s efforts to define encouraged and unacceptable behavior on Wikipedia. Defining bad conduct is a good place to start, but right now, Wikimedia has yet to codify any universal policies for what happens when bad actors do harass other users or spread misinformation.

Wikimedia is already working on that second phase of the Universal Code of Conduct, which will establish how both local and regional Wikipedia projects will enforce the new requirements and any consequences for those who break those rules. But the company is still in the early stages here — that part of the project likely won’t be complete until late 2021.