Conflicting Wikipedia philosophies

Conflict-driven view
False community
The Wiki process
The wiki way
Power structure
Overall content structure
Encyclopedia standards
Article length
Measuring accuracy

Here are some observations of different underlying philosophies of Wikipedia which may underlie conflicts. People with different views on these spectra may be stuck in a conflict which is actually a meta-conflict.

Please feel free to add comments or content to this page.

How strict should the notability requirements be?

The words deletionism and inclusionism are sometimes also used about whether content should be deleted because of poor quality; see section about eventualism vs. immediatism.

Should the focus be on having usefulness and reliability now, or more freedom of editing in order to have better articles later?

  • The key is to make Wikipedia a useful and reliable Internet resource as of now.
  • Any edit which is problematic should be reverted on sight; there is no time to fix it while live.
  • New ideas for changes should be developed in a sandbox.

Moderate immediatism

  • Articles should be in as good condition as possible when they are live.
  • Dispute notices should be avoided unless there's no clear "right" version to post in interim.
  • Removing poor writing and unbalanced coverage is appropriate. Cleaning it up would be too tricky and take too long.
  • Sandboxes are most geared towards proposed major edits.

Moderate eventualism

  • It is worth maintaining articles in good condition, but not to the extent it would stymie their organic growth through the Wiki process.
  • Content should only be removed if it is unsalvageable or at least hard to salvage.
  • Poor and biased writing should be addressed, but unless there is no content should not simply be erased, but rather marked as such for readers' consideration.
  • The process of free, continuous editing will in the long run make articles better and better.
  • Only vandalism should be reverted. Anyone who makes an edit has something to say which should be respected.
  • Poor and biased writing and misinformation will be corrected in due time. Relax.

Article raters

  • Articles with higher ratings (e.g., Featured Article status) should be treated with more immediatism than those with lower ratings.



Extreme statusquoism

  • An article should not be altered in any potentially controversial way without prior justification.
  • The removal of controversial content, say pending fact-checking or discussion, should be reverted until justified in Talk and agreed upon.
  • The burden of proof is on anyone who wants to make a change. Unless they're reverting.

Moderate statusquoism

  • The state an article has been in for some length of time is the benchmark.
  • Edits which add controversial material should be reverted until justified in Talk.

Moderate anti-statusquoism

  • Edits should not be reverted unless they are truly just troublesome.
  • Poor writing is not a problem; later editors will fix it.
  • If an edit is so controversial that it should be reverted, an explanation should be given on Talk so the author can respond.

Extreme anti-statusquoism

  • Edits should not be reverted unless they are basically vandalism.
  • Poor writing, biased coverage, and questionable information is no problem; in time, later editors will fix this up.
  • Similar to eventualism.

Communityism and Encyclopedism



  • Wikipedia should be made a welcoming place for newcomers who wish to participate.
  • Actions which might be seen as rude and disrespectful to others should be avoided, even if avoiding them temporarily negatively affects the content.
  • Personal attacks should not be tolerated.
  • A community is about finding ways to live together, not about homogeneity.


  • The sole purpose of Wikipedia is to build an encyclopedia; social interaction is a byproduct which should not compromise this goal.
  • Treating people respectfully and being nice to newbies is desirable inasmuch as it encourages contributions and diversity of opinions, and avoids groupthink.
  • Personal attacks are not always a big deal. Just ignore petty ones and do your job.
  • Remember; if someone reverts one of your edits, assume good faith and be respectful.

Authorism vs. Communalism



  • Articles, or sections of article, often have a distinguished "main author" who is primarily the writer of the article.
  • The original author should be regarded as having more clout than others in how it should be organized and flow.
  • While major changes by non-authors should require justification, the original author should feel entitled to reorganize his/her own prose.
  • An article may require inquiry as to "original intent" from the author before changes are made.


  • There is no author for articles. Although one person may seed an article, each one is a community effort.
  • Once an article text has been submitted, the submitter has no special privileges vis-a-vis future edits to that text.
  • There is no "original intent" other than what is in the text and perhaps notes on the discussion page.

Sysopism vs. Rehabilism vs. Politicism



  • Trolls and other problem users should be banned and done with.
  • A former troll has a lot to prove if they want to ever be allowed to contribute again.
  • Don't feed the trolls.


  • Every editor, even a vandal, is a potential contributor.
  • Every opportunity should be extended for a former troll to rehabilitate themselves.
  • Meatball:AssumeGoodFaith. Give the benefit of the doubt.
  • The cost of fighting a troll is higher than fixing whatever trouble they cause.


  • "Troll" and "problem user" are factionally defined terms at best. One person's valuable editor is another one's POV-pusher.
  • As Wikipedia becomes more and more influential, we can expect constantly renewing political disputes: this simply can't be avoided without undermining Wikipedia's claim to neutrality.
  • Engage users in conflict by using the political virtues, and assess behavior by these standards. Try to find "troll bridges" where opposing factions can work together. Be troll-friendly.


  • Edit wars are considered harmful. They are also childish and pointless.
  • Edit wars poison the page history, flood recent changes, and disrupt other editors.
  • A user who finds their edits reverted by the same user persistently should walk away and let others handle the situation — they will decide what edits were more suitable for the page.


  • Wikipedia is a battlefield of ideas; edit wars are part of the editorial process.
  • The damage from a war now and then is minimal and greatly overstated.
  • Repeatedly reverting a damaging edit is wholly appropriate.



Adminship is "no important thing"

  • All users in good standing who demonstrate a minimal familiarity with the Wikipedia culture should become Administrators.

Adminship is an important duty

  • Admins are the visible face of Wikipedia. Only the most qualified Wikipedians should be Administrators, and they must obey the highest of standards.

Admins are janitors: adminship is just another job

  • The majority of work an Admin needs to do has no reflection on experience or ethical standards. Expecting them to follow any special standards — except for misuse of their privileges — demonstrates a misunderstanding of their role.



Basic skill

  • Cultivating the habit of always writing from a NPOV in all Wikipedia editing is a skill that is not difficult to acquire.
  • NPOV editing does not ever substantially conflict with other editing goals, and should never be compromised.
  • Provided all the relevant facts are available, it is not difficult to tell if writing is POV.

Elusive virtue

  • Composing NPOV text on contentious texts can be deeply difficult, requiring introspection and testing one's honesty with oneself.
  • Writing from a NPOV stance can conflict fundamentally with comprehensiveness, conciseness and freshness of writing, and, though of great value, sometimes it is best sacrificed to promote other editing good.
  • Facts can only be grasped from a POV; everyone has blindspots with respect to their own prejudices.

Unattainable absolute

  • A neutral point of view requires omniscience and omnipresence. No one has that.
  • The comprehensive whole of all Wikipedia can be said to approach a neutral point of view as it becomes more comprehensive and includes more factual information. A single entry can only be said to have a neutral point of view assuming the limitations of the subject (which is not a neutral act).
  • "NPOV" as used on Wikipedia does not mean "neutral point of view". It's shorthand for a particular style of writing which avoids authoritative statements and is highly contextual, particularly temporally. "NPOV" writing often ages poorly.

Factions, advocacy and suppression


The conflict-driven view of wiki, e.g. battlefield of ideas, emphasizes that most of explicit knowledge arises from a need to deal with multiple points of view and compromise.

The epistemology of this view is quite similar to the Buddhist view of language: words are just indicators of conflicts, since if no conflict existed, there would be no need to speak.

People living in developed nations with representative democracy also expect power structures to be transparent, regularly audited, and (most relevant) composed of people visibly associated in political parties who take collective responsibility for actions, even when no individual responsibility would be possible or meaningful.

All that aside, many people would like to believe that politics has no place in encyclopedia work, and that an editorial process can be so perfect a bureaucracy as not to need factions. This view may be more prevalent in countries that have a Supreme Court and written constitutions, which are also increasingly common in democracies.

  • Like-minded people naturally form groups; attempting to prevent this from happening is silly; multiple points of view are inevitable even if everyone considers themselves part of a single "community".
  • Conflicts between groups can produce productive change and new ideas; having rules for this prevents suppressionism.
  • The expertise to evaluate specific claims about the views of specific groups, e.g. Marxist economists or Islamist politicians who run in elections, will reside usually in those groups and so some form of collective credential system is needed to let factions review views that are associated with that faction.
  • The ruling clique or power structure is just one of many explicit factions, and if its actions or positions can be compared to those taken or advocated by other factions, this aids transparency and trust in the system as a whole. Representative democracy is the best example: the ruling clique is a party like any other with explicit opposition and critics.


  • Wikipedia is a collection of all human knowlege, therefore, everyone's opinion matters. Factions are merely social groups, they do not have any standing in how much authority any one person has.
  • Joining a faction is something to do just... for fun. If you like Macintosh, join this faction. If you like Windows, join this one. If you like Linux, join this one. Something productive may even come of every Wikipedian joining a faction. For example, as long as an edit war doesn't occur, a Macintosh faction could make some new Mac pages with a non-NPOV, And a Windows faction could come along and fix it to have a NPOV. The Mac faction respects the fact that everyone has an opinion, and leaves the changes that the other faction made to the Macintosh articles. If indeed a disagreement does occur, a healthy debate may help, as long as it's not a conflict. Conflict is not good for the overall health of Wikipedia, and therefore should be avoided. Every Wikipedian has their own opinion and this should be respected. This eventually leads to Wikipedia being a true collection of all human knowledge without any information being biased towards a side and everyone is included in editing and revising of articles.
  • It is better to view ideas as a spectrum or conceptual space than a rigidly defined set; ideas are 'near' or 'far' rather than 'in' or 'out'.
  • Factions are prone to groupthink and lead to suppressionism of the 'losing' factions.
  • Conflicts between factions are often unnecessary and counterproductive.
  • A ruling clique's activities can be confined to neutral administration of a process and can deal internally with any systemic bias they might have, by recruiting new rulers.

Vigilantism vs. Proceduralism



  • Vandalism calls attention to a lack of editorial quality and will therefore eventually improve the overall quality of Wikipedia.


  • Vandalism disrupts process, which is key to maintaining order.
  • Complaints should be sent through proper channels, even if they get buried.



A transclusion is the direct insertion of content from one page to another via a template, so that the page with the transclusion updates if the original page changes.

  • Largely duplicate content should be transcluded to help with consolidation.
  • Transclusions allow content to be updated more readily with less editor effort needed.
  • Transclusions with bad coding or incomplete documentation can marginally increase wikitext complexity.
  • Transclusions of templates without needed parameters can prevent minor tweaks from being made where the ideal state of pages differs only slightly.

See also