Wikidemocratism (also Wikollectivism) is a Wikimedian philosophy, the opposite of Wikindividualism. Although Wikidemocrats recognise that politics and process do not take precedence over building an encyclopedia, they argue that this is outweighed by the need to ensure that the good-faith opinions of all established editors are taken into account, and that administrators and bureaucrats do not exercise excessive personal power. Because there is no inherently "correct" way to build a free encyclopedia, only different opinions, everyone should have a say in decision-making and the will of contributors should always be followed, provided that it accords with the core wiki principles. Fundamentally, a Wikidemocrat believes that it is important that all Wikipedians, whether administrators or not, have a voice in decision-making, and that those chosen to be Wikipedia functionaries do not exercise arbitrary power, especially as adminship is no big deal.
Wikidemocratism vs. Wikindividualism
A Wikidemocrat and a Wikindividualist will take differing general positions on a number of issues.
- Wikindividualist: Polls are evil. Where decisions are made after a discussion (e.g. in a deletion discussion or a request for adminship) they should be made by the closing administrator or bureaucrat, who should weigh up the "strength of the arguments" and take other users' views only as recommendations.
- Wikidemocrat: Voting is a tool. Numbers do count for something in a discussion, and the closing administrator or bureaucrat should not ignore the views of a majority of editors. Vote counts can be useful in determining the will of the community.
- Wikindividualist: Wikilawyering is bad, and rules should be ignored. Processes can and should be circumvented, or disregarded altogether, if they prevent an editor from doing what they think is best to "improve Wikipedia". This includes administrators and bureaucrats in the exercise of their tools.
- Wikidemocrat: Process is important. Because administrators and bureaucrats have technical abilities denied to regular users, they must follow processes, policies and guidelines to the letter in exercising their privileges, and respect the will of the community.
The role of administrators
- Wikindividualist: Administrators and bureaucrats are chosen by the community, and have demonstrated that they can be trusted. As such, they are decision-makers who should be allowed discretion in using their tools.
- Wikidemocrat: Adminship is no big deal. Administrators are janitors, not politicians; their role is to carry out certain functions that must be restricted to trusted users, but they should only do so within the letter of the policies and with the agreement of the community.
- Wikindividualist: The main problems of Wikipedia are inaccuracy and lack of NPOV. If Wikipedia is used to spread misinformation, then the public themselves are likely to make bad edits, even in good faith, if they join Wikipedia. Ideologically based "mobs" are particularly problematic on certain contentious issues.
- Wikidemocrat: The main problem of Wikipedia is community discord. People are always going to disagree, because there is no inherently "correct" way to build an encyclopedia. Editors can disagree in good faith about a variety of issues, such as how NPOV should be interpreted or which topics are suitable for encyclopedic coverage; there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to such questions. If nobody compromises, then Wikipedia will not be an environment where people can cooperate to make constructive edits, and good editors will be driven away.
Administrator X is closing a controversial Articles for deletion discussion. S/he notes that there are 20 users arguing for Delete, and 24 arguing for Keep. There is no evidence that any of them are sockpuppets, meatpuppets, or acting in bad faith. However, s/he strongly disagrees with the Keep !voters and regards their argument as essentially a case of "It's useful". How should s/he close the discussion?
- Wikindividualist: Delete. As an administrator, s/he is trusted by the community to exercise judgment. Opinions are only valid if they are solidly grounded in Wikipedia policies and guidelines; the closing admin should read the arguments and ignore any opinions which s/he regards as invalid.
- Wikidemocrat: Keep. Every user in the discussion gave a good-faith opinion and provided a rationale. It is not acceptable to ignore the views of a majority of contributors in favour of a minority viewpoint. Administrators are not decision-makers; they are janitors whose responsibility is to use their tools to carry out the will of the community.