Posts Tagged ‘bias’

Wiki adminning: Different strategies to deal with conflicts

August 27th, 2009

We’ve been busy watching our recent changes on Fan History. An incident recently came up and we had a fair amount of behind the scenes discussion on how to handle it. After exploring our possible actions, we analyzed where our desires to take these actions came from. They can best be summarized as follows:

  1. Desire to thoroughly document a topic, be completely truthful, provide multiple perspectives and be as unbiased as possible.
  2. Desire to behave ethically, enforce our policies in an ethical and consistent way, and to adhere to the norms of the community of which we are a member.
  3. Desire to avoid drama, possible negative publicity for the wiki, and personal attacks aimed at our admin staff.

This situation is one that many other wikis are likely to deal with. The problem with these motivations is that plan of action for each requires a different response. The plan of actions will have different outcomes when implemented. The desire for the first will almost certainly run afoul of the third one. The desire for the second one could likely piss off both sides who will see you as negating the first one and resulting in the third one not being met. It is a messy situation to be in. When you’re faced with a similar situation, our advice is to write down the pros and cons of implementing a strategy based on each desire. Examine those pros and cons and then implement the solution that will allow you to sleep at night. There is no right answer.

Question and answer:

June 23rd, 2009

I recieved an e-mail.  It basically asked the following question: I want to contribute to an article but I’m hesitant because I might be biased.  How can I still edit?

My answer:
1.  Comment on the talk page before editing to say that you’re trying to be as neutral as possible and ask others to help check your edits to make sure they are neutral.  (It demonstrates good faith on your part and is  signal to admins that you’re trying.)
2.  Where you know you can’t be unbiased, create a section that says “MY NAME’s perspective’, at the top of that section, put {{MP}} and follow the directions outlined at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Help:Multiple_perspectives .
3.  When you’re editing in, comment using <!– to explain what you’re doing in the article’s source code to explain your opinion in the text.
4.  Screen cap and cite everywhere to make your point.  If quoting, try to avoid taking things out of context.  Try to quote primary sources when you can.
5.  If an administrator comments on the edit, respond back and try to work with them.  If some one later has an issue with the edits, we’ll have a record of what happened.  It makes resolving potential conflict easier.
6.  Don’t fret too much if you’re concerned about bias.  People who are self aware of bias and work towards trying to make sure they are not being biased tend to be less biased.

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