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Research:Wikimedia Research Best Practices Around Privacy Whitepaper

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Tracked in Phabricator:
Task T337883
16:35, 17 January 2024 (UTC)
Michael Zimmer
Duration:  2023-October – 2024-March

This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.
Please contact the project lead before formally citing or reusing results from this page.

The goal and anticipated output of this project is a whitepaper that creates shared understanding about how researchers should conduct their research on or about the Wikimedia projects in light of how Wikimedia communities value Privacy.



Requested by English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, this white paper is intended to convey "[...] to researchers the principles of our movement and give specific recommendation for researchers on how to study and write about Wikipedians and their personal information in a way that respects our principles."

Timeline and updates


Please see the phabricator task for the most up-to-date details, but the current tentative goal is to have a draft of this white paper by March 2024.

How to provide feedback and comments


We're gathering feedback on the Research Ethics Privacy White Paper until 30 April 2024. We encourage you to provide your feedback in the corresponding talk page. If you prefer to share it privately, you can do so by sending an email to research-feedback@wikimedia.org with "privacy white paper" in the subject line.

  • We encourage you to use the talk page/discussion feature to provide your input. (Please don't directly edit the draft.)
  • As we are still drafting and revising (hence some notes you see throughout the draft), the most helpful feedback would be content-oriented in nature (since things are still in progress, copy-editing and feedback of that nature is less helpful for the moment).
  • Please add new topics or comment on existing topics to help us keep feedback organized.
  • The talk page also includes a few prompts for specific groups that we're hoping to receive feedback on.
  • We will be monitoring the talk page until 30 April 2024, but won't be able to respond directly to comments. However, all comments will be reviewed and considered in the ongoing drafting and revising process.
  • If you are more comfortable leaving comments in a language other than English, please feel welcome to do so. Please note that we may utilize machine translation in reviewing non-English content.
  • Join us for a Conversation Hour on 23 April 2024 at 15:00 UTC. This conversation will be guided by some questions to encourage actionable feedback. Join via Google Meet.

Working outline


Having gone through a feedback process for the outline with the original requesters, English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, we have been drafting the white paper based on the following outline, considered stable as of February 2024.

  • Introduction: What is the problem, why is it important, what has been tried before, and what is the goal of the white paper?
  • Related work: A review of related work, including privacy risks and adaptation on Wikipedia, ethical judgments for researchers, naming/referencing research participants, and existing related Wikipedia policies and guidelines.
  • Exploring key questions: Understanding key values of Wikipedians, policies around doxxing, understanding parameters of variation for different language versions of Wikipedia, understanding researchers, among other topics.
  • Recommendations: Recommendations for researchers and Wikipedians.



TBD (please refer to https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Wikimedia_Research_Best_Practices_Around_Privacy_Whitepaper/Draft#References_and_notes in the meantime).