Task force/Living People/Drafting pages/Recommendations to the Board of Trustees/Findings outline

From Strategic Planning



What can the Board of Trustees recommend to hosted projects to work towards solutions on topics related to living people?


Provide a list of a maximum of ten points that can be addressed by local project governance and its decisions

Interpersonal interactions

Projects can work towards creating a positive perception in handling living people

While the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation and its corporation cannot control content outside of its scope as host, it can submit recommendations to projects in order to assist in handling situations and content surrounding living people in on-wiki interaction and any contact with the Foundation.

Articles can be harmful

Articles dealing with living people can harm the Wikimedia Foundation's reputation in the quality of the product. In addition, article subjects and contacts can be hurt by content that is inaccurate, falsely construed, or inappropriate.


Ethical responsibility

Not only do the Wikimedia projects have a legal responsibility to avoid creating and maintaining libelous content, they also have an ethical responsibility to the subjects of their articles. Editors must take great care to ensure accuracy when writing about living people due to the real-world impact that these works may have. Projects are also encouraged to put into place local standards paying special attention to the principles of neutrality and verifiability of facts when writing about living people.


Intraproject Groups

Intraproject groups, such as WikiProjects and other collaborative groups, are useful mechanisms for projects to organize ways of cleaning up articles. Projects are advised to create and distribute additional tools to help out such groups.


Dealing with the subjects of articles


Undue weight

An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance. Therefore, an article on a living person should aim to not focus overwhelmingly on one or more topics, but should give appropriate weight to the totality of a person's life, work, and career.

Verifiability is a core principle

The Wikimedia projects have established that one of the core principles of the projects is the citing of sources to allow readers to verify that what is being said on the pages.

Current situation

The Wikimedia Foundation currently hosts a large number of articles, including biographies of living persons, that are either entirely or largely unsourced.



This is wrong. It covers Wikiquote and Wikipedia just fine, but fails to take into account Wikinews or Commons, among other projects. NW (Talk) 01:51, 22 February 2010 (UTC)


Assertion: The free projects that anyone can edit

Wikimedia projects are meant to be free for anyone to edit at any time. There are instances where registration may be required when dealing with aspects of living people, and the Wikimedia Foundation encourages projects to have due diligence in care of the subjects.

Automated tools

The use of automated tools to maintain the integrity of Wikimedia hosted projects is an accepted practice on individual projects. The Wikimedia Foundation highly encourages that the use of automated warning and notice templates be focused in a positive light, with care given to ensure that the recipient is greeted in the appropriate collaborative and friendly manner.



Long-term semi-protection should be used liberally if there is a history of issues with a specific article. In addition, if the reason or request is respectful of its subject, the Wikimedia Foundation encourages protection policies that lean toward the respect of the subject regarding material relating to a living person, up to indefinite protection from editing by new or unregistered accounts.


Patrolled revisions

Patrolled revisions is a specific use of the flagged revisions extension. Patrolling a page does not affect the version viewed by readers. It instead indicates to other reviewers that the revision has been checked to be free of libel, vandalism, or other unproductive edits. The Board of Trustees requires that this extension (or equivalent) be enabled across all WMF projects.


Flagged revisions



Administrators of the various projects should be given broad leeway in dealing with new or unregistered accounts who appear to be editing only to add negative, unsourced information to biographies of living persons. This may include revocation of editing privileges without warning for even the first offense.


Administrative discretion


Limited time for unsourced content

The Wikimedia Foundation believes that unsourced content should not be allowed to remain on Wikipedia indefinitely, and urges that projects adopt a system in which unsourced content relating to living people is removed after a fixed period of time.


Identifying living persons

Projects should endeavor to categorize all articles affected by or likely to be affected by a living persons policy. This category should lead to a page with text that will advise readers and editors how to fix issues on articles, talk pages, or other on-wiki interactions that involve living persons as article subjects.


Cooperation with readers

On each page that might contain information on living people, there must be an easily visible link to a page which gives instructions on how to make request for removal of information that might be violating the BLP policy. Projects should consider using parts of the MediaWiki software to automatically filter for bad articles.


Volunteer response teams

Currently, OTRS software is used by Volunteer response teams to handle queries, complaints, and comments from the public. Volunteers who are trusted to give courteous and helpful responses are given access to the system which operates under the auspices of the communications committee of the Board of Trustees

Local response teams should be supported by:

  • giving them access to country-specific legal counseling in difficult cases
  • requiring them to attend local and/or online workshops covering communication, problem solving and conflict management as well as legal and ethical aspects on articles about living persons.
  • recruiting experienced editors to increase the volunteer base.

OTRS has done well


New Living Persons response team



Sounds too specific to me. A common response team should be fine. --Superbass 21:51, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Probably true. Cary Bass was talking about the idea, so I tossed it out there, but a new team probably is unnecessary. NW (Talk) 00:15, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

OTRS metrics should be created and tracked


Increasing access

The email addresses for OTRS and the contact information for administrators and other persons able to help living persons should be made more accessible. Projects that do not have the volunteer group necessary to maintain an OTRS queue should work with a larger project of the same language or, if that is not possible, a queue of stewards and global sysops.


Recommendations from the task force to the Board of Trustees

  • The Wikimedia Foundation, through staffing and volunteer resources, must find an adequate solution to dealing with living people.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation is encouraged to allocate more resources, including developer time and dedicated staff,[1] to dealing with the living persons issue.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees is recommended to pass a resolution on a global policy for living people.


  1. We probably ought to specify what we mean by that