Wikipedia's Brand Statement

Wikipedia's Brand Statement

I was going back through some user pages of people contributing to this task force to better understand who they are and how they approach the work on Wikipedia. On FT2's page I found something really interesting. (Keep in mind that brand is formed from who and what something is, including what it believes (which shapes who and what it is) and how it does what it does.) I think the following statement from FT2 is a good snapshot of who and what Wikipedia is and how it does what it does, in other words: Wikipedia’s brand.

"Writing for an encyclopedia is not the same as writing for a newspaper, or even an academic paper. In a way, it's more like writing the bibliography for an academic paper. In a way, we aren't even trying to decide (as experts would) what is "true" and what isn't, because that's not what this is. We are summarizing a field, creating a balanced collation of multiple perspectives and views. Theres few decisions to make, few opinions to form, other than to observe which views seem to be more or less relevant views of note, and to understand each (and its sources) well enough to document.

We care that we document each view carefully and with understanding. That is the "truth" we work to here. That, and that alone. Our truth is the truth of the bibliography, and the measure is, have we represented collectively in summary the multiple verifiable sources of note. Drawing editorial conclusions from all of them is the end-use of an encyclopedia, not the work of encyclopedists (emphasis mine, ed.)."

It seems to me that there is a lot of brand in those paragraphs:

  1. What we are
    1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
    2. Wikipedia is a bibliography or reference material
    3. Wikipedia is not a newspaper or an academic paper
  2. What we do
    1. We offer facts
    2. We do not form opinions
    3. We do not offer opinions
    4. We do not say who is right or who is wrong
    5. We summarize a field
    6. We collate multiple perspectives and views
    7. We pay attention to which views seem to be more or less relevant based on available research, and the quantity of this research that supports each point of view (POV)
    8. We verify sources and vet information as much as is possible/practicable
  3. What we believe
    1. We believe in educating, hence being an encyclopedia
    2. We believe that it is the user’s role to draw editorial conclusions
    3. We believe it is not Wikipedia’s job to draw editorial conclusions
    4. We believe in collectively representing in summary multiple verifiable sources of information
    5. We believe we cannot tell others what the truth is, that they have to figure that out themselves from the facts Wikipedia presents and any other available sources
  4. Who we are
    1. We are a loosely organized group of people around the world who use computers to help each other learn
    2. We are an encyclopedia that cares about fairness and equity
    3. We care that each view is carefully documented with a focus on ensuring each view is understandable
    4. We are not arbiters of truth
    5. We are providers of information

I think that’s a really good place to start for a brand statement.

Bhneihouse06:23, 6 December 2009

The other analogy I use, in case it's useful, is the map-territory relationship. The acid test of an article's balance, focus and coverage is whether a reasonably capable user would gain a balanced, informed, understanding of the topic. The article should map to its topic like a map to its territory.

FT2 (Talk | email)10:13, 6 December 2009

I think it is a great statement. It is a pity that most of Wikipedia's content (at least that I am familiar with) has been writen from an entirely different perspective. - Brya 06:38, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Brya06:38, 10 December 2009