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Policies and consensus[edit]

Conduct policies
Civility Consensus Edit warring Editing policy No personal attacks Ownership of articles

What is consensus?[edit]

Consensus is the way that decisions are made in Wikipedia. You may see the odd !vote (a coding joke, ! means not - confirming that this is WP:NOTAVOTE and then promptly voting), but these decisions are not made based upon weight of numbers, but rather through the weight of the arguments. Consensus should be created through discussion and any member of the community is welcome to enter in discussions. Yes, that means you. You have every right to put forward an opinion, but if your opinion can be based in policy it will hold a lot more weight.

Consensus applies to everything on Wikipedia, from simple article edits (see WP:BRD and the dispute resolution lesson) to large policy decisions. Consensus can also change, it does not necessarily remain the same so if you see something wrong, don't be afraid to raise it. When involved in a consensus discussion, be careful not to fall foul of canvassing, something that is frowned upon. In other words, don't bring in more people to back you up.

There are a couple of exceptions to consensus. Anything decreed from the Wikimedia foundation or through WP:Office actions must be adhered too. Although these are rare, it's worth keeping in mind. Some of the things passed down in the past is that care must be taken over biographies of living people and copyright violations.


The community is anyone who writes and edits Wikipedia. This includes you, me and any user who clicks that little edit button. They need not be registered, which is why you see IP editors. Although some registered editors treat IPs like second-class citizens, there is no reason they should be. I've seen a few reports that show that the vast majority of Wikipedia was written by IP editors. It does mean that the vast majority of vandalism is also caused by IP editors, hence the disillusionment. I'll get onto vandalism in a separate lesson, so don't worry too much about that now.

Policy and guidelines[edit]

Everything we do in wikipedia is governed by policy and guidelines, but policies and guidelines were written down once and discussed at length. Oh yes, almost every policy and guideline is based on consensus, leading us right back to the start of this lesson. Policies don't change much; they describe how the community works, and in general that remains fairly constant at the policy level.

Ignore all rules[edit]

What? Is this really right? Well, what the ignore all rules policy says is "If a rule prevents you from improving the encyclopedia, ignore it." My personal interpretation is that this a catchall to remind us that we're not in a bureaucracy, that the important thing is the encyclopedia. I've never had to implement it personally, but I do keep it in mind.


Well, that's that. Do you have any questions on consensus or policy, or would you like to take the test?