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Wikipedia sets new rule to combat “toxic behaviour”

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Wikipedia sets new rule to combat “toxic behaviour”

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Reuters

Wikipedia is instituting a new code of conduct to combat what the company called "toxic behavior" by some volunteers.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs the site, voted for new measures that will be finalized by the end of the year.

Wikipedia is written and updated by volunteers.

Many, mainly women and members of the LGBTQ community, complained of abuse and harassment from other publishers.

Wikimedia's board of directors said maintaining civility is an essential value.

"We must work together to create a safe and inclusive culture, where everyone feels welcome, that their contributions are valued and that their perspectives are important," said Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

"Our goal is all the knowledge in the world, and this is an essential step on our journey".

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What do the new rules involve?

The foundation's binding code of conduct for members will include banning or limiting access if volunteers violate the terms.

It will also create a retroactive review process for the harassment that occurred before these rules were defined.

Wikipedia has become one of the most trusted sources of information on the Internet, but complaints about imbalances and gender harassment have plagued the platform for almost a decade.

A study from the University of Washington on the gender gap in Wikipedia editors found that many LGBTQ women and publishers feared for their safety. Several publishers told researchers that their work had been contested by male editors or had received negative feedback from a male editor.

AN New York Times article from 2019 onwards also highlighted the concerns that some transgender editors have about volunteering on the website. An editor told the newspaper that they received death threats.

How does harassment work?

Wikipedia is not a formal social media platform like Facebook or Twitter. But your editors can interact with each other and change the content of a page after it has been written.

This led to a form of harassment where, after a volunteer adds a page, another volunteer removes or changes that work moments later, forcing the first editor to redo his work and leading to editing battles.

The development of a new code of conduct will take place in two phases.

The first will include the definition of policies for face-to-face and virtual events, as well as policies for technical spaces, including chat rooms and other Wikimedia projects. It is expected to be ratified by the council by 30 August.

A second phase describing the execution when the rules are violated will be approved by the end of the year, according to the council's plan.

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