Wikipedia is instituting new rules to battle “toxic behavior” by volunteers

In a bid to ensure safety against abuse on harassment on its platform, Wikipedia is putting a new code of conduct in place. Several members, particularly women and members of the LGBTQ community, have complained of the portrayal of “toxic behavior” by fellow editors on the platform. The website relies on these volunteers to keep it updated.

Editors on Wikipedia are able to interact with each other and make changes to the updates sent in by their peers. Cases of harassment usually involve one volunteer reverting or altering changes made by another volunteer, which forces the first volunteer to do their work over again.

Wikimedia, the organization that hosts the site, voted on new measures that are expected to be finalized by the end of 2020. The company’s board of trustees stated that maintaining respect and civility was an integral value. Wikipedia’s CEO Katherine Maher said:

“We must work together to create a safe, inclusive culture, where everyone feels welcome, that their contributions are valued, and that their perspective matters.

Wikipedia, which is deemed at a trustworthy source of information worldwide, has faced complaints of gender imbalance and harassment for some time now. A study conducted by University of Washington shed light on the gender gap in editors on the site, and many women editors told the researchers that their work had been contested by male editors on the site. Similarly, transgender workers have also voiced their concerns about volunteering for the platform (via The New York Times), with one editor claiming they received death threats.

Once these rules are ratified, those defying the code of conduct could be banned or given limited access to the website. Moreover, a retroactive review process will be set up to investigate cases of harassment that occurred before the firm instituted these rules.

Source: BBC