Launched by the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that administers Wikipedia, the code’s standards include clearly defining acceptable behaviour; delinating harassment on and off the projects for all Wikipedia participants; preventing the abuse of power and influence to intimidate others; and combating deliberate introduction of false or inaccurate content.
“Our work is built around a radical premise that everyone should be able to participate in knowledge,” said Katherine Maher, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation.
“Our new universal code of conduct creates binding standards to elevate conduct on the Wikimedia projects, and empower our communities to address harassment and negative behaviour across the Wikimedia movement,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
More than 50 per cent of the global population has access to the internet, an increase that has been linked to polarisation, and rising violence from online speech against marginalised groups and ethnic communities according to a report from the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Given these trends, it is more important than ever for the Foundation and the volunteer community to strengthen accountability for content on Wikimedia projects including Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia, as well as the policies that govern user behaviour”.
More than 1,500 Wikipedia volunteers from 19 different Wikipedia projects representing five continents and 30 languages participated in the creation of the universal code of conduct.
Unlike other longer and more opaque community standards in the tech industry, the new code is 1,600 words, where the Foundation and the community clearly define harassment and unacceptable behaviour.
As a next step, the Foundation and the volunteers leading the process will hold further conversations to better understand how local and regional Wikipedia projects will enforce the new standards.