Task force/Recommendations/Community health 3

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Outline: Heading to a strategy of conflict management

The factor that endangers Wikipedia most is in-fighting and uncontrollable conflict. Therefore, a top priority to tackle in the next five years is conflict management. Mind, the next is only a draft, you are invited to improve.

Strategy: Diplomacy as the means to manage conflicts

The way to contain conflict is diplomacy; therefore we have to teach our users diplomatic means; the Wikimedia Board is to facilitate any initiative to teach our users the ways of diplomacy in order to manage conflict.

Assertion: Conflict management is the most important factor to keep the Wikipedia effort intact worldwide, and getting users to understand each other

Sub assertion: Containing conflict in key fields

One important field of conflict is religion and ethno-nationalism. The best thing we can do here, is to keep utmost sight on arguments, references, and always give different views the same room. People screening those fields, should act as diplomats intervening whenever a conflict threatens, and work pro-active.

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The English article on en:Arab–Israeli conflict appears to be a succes in this category. There are no neutrality conflicts nor citations questions at the time of reading. We have to think of this as a model: it is possible to bring so may users together and make them write an article with no conflicting views. A key article is en:Deir Yassin massacre. There has been no questioning of neutrality since 2005. Let's rejoice the success first. If it is possible to maintain such an inflammable subject for such a long time, it shows the success of Wikipedian consensus.

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However, if one cannot contain such an article and keep it within boundaries, is also shows Wikipedia's weakness. That's where this recommendation needs has to come in. Many times, there's a very fine line between consensus and conflict. If it turns to conflict, it may be huge and fierce. We need to contain those overflowing conflicts, because they can be (and often will be) very destroying.

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Sub assertion: Patrolling in unexpected conflicts

In many fields that are underestimated, fierce conflicts may start up unexpectedly. Some examples are spelling, taxonomy, genealogy or whatever. Those conflicts have to be patrolled and not reach the point-of-no-return if possible, because any conflict becomes uncontrollable if they get beyond the redlight-point.

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Sub assertion: Diplomacy within the moderating class

Conflict may arise if some people take on roles of their own - moderating or policy - which give them too much influence, the end of it being that they place their own stamp on everything. The result may be that too many users have left before those (sometimes very valuable) people alter their behaviour. Even there, diplomacy is a key factor. Co-moderators will have to step in discretely if possible. If the bomb bursts, it may be too late.

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Sub assertion: Wikipedia has become too large to do without diplomacy and conflict management

The next step in Wikim/pedia development will have to be, to develop a kind of diplomatic handbook to contain conflicts and to regulate discussions. To be sure, most of the work has to be done within the wikipedias themselves, and the particular conflicts are no deal of the Foundation. However, Wikimedia could be of help in some ways. The Foundation could contribute to studies on conflict containment, promote diplomacy between different wikipedias and within themselves, and help make discussion the best way to improve this world wide tower of knowledge.

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Read more within the Strategy site