Open letter on Community Health

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(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

for Wikimedia Forum

An open letter on community health[edit]

The problem of community health continues to impact the credibility and reputation of Wikipedia. Unhealthy communities pose a reputational risk to the movement, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Recent history[edit]

We have seen gender bias demonstrated, when a Nobel prize winner had an article rejected at Articles for Creation, while her two colleagues had articles since 2005. - Donna Strickland; Gérard Mourou; Arthur Ashkin

We saw a similar bias with the redirection of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as opposed to Dave Brat

We see press reports of communities dominated by not neutral points of view, unbalanced, out of the scholarly consensus.


Just as there is technical debt, there is also community health debt. Failure to maintain community health will result in broken communities, where the mission cannot be done. The broken communities will be dominated by sub-cultures that do not value open scholarship over their own ideology, and control.


With an unhealthy community, Wikipedia's reliability and scholarship can be degraded. The reputation and authority of Wikimedia is adversely impacted.

As Jennifer Riggs said in 2009: "decline will continue based on organizational culture, until an investment is made to shift the culture."[1] Culture change is required to maintain community health; We need to train community members in how to build and maintain community, and resolve conflict in a civil way.

The Wikimedia Foundation must provide resources to support community building, and programs to improve community health. If no investment is made, we should expect repeated press reports, and questions about apparent bias in unhealthy communities. The reputational harm of appearing to do nothing will continue.

Action plan[edit]

The foundation cannot impose community, rather it must invest resources in community building, volunteer training, and developing consensus building tools and values.

For example, programs would include:

  • admin training at an Admin-camp, in a standard of practice, including how to engage new editors;
  • chapter officer training in how to run a chapter;
  • leader training in non-violent communication, collaboration, and consensus;
  • new editor training in what is contextual balanced scholarship, or "neutral point of view";
  • process design training on how to design a user-friendly process to avoid and reduce backlogs.


  1. Slowking4 (talk) 13:45, 8 November 2018 (UTC) as proposer[reply]
  2. When you try to log in there is a message saying that wikipedia was made from people just like you. I disagree. Wikipedia tends to be a project by the few and needs to start being a wiki again soon. I think this proposal could make a change. You have my Strong support Strong support Ανώνυμος Βικιπαιδιστής (talk) 15:51, 8 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Gamaliel (talk) 17:42, 8 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Montanabw (talk) 19:06, 8 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Chaddy (talk) 20:40, 8 November 2018 (UTC) But important for community health also is how Wikimedia deals with the community. And this case again shows that the Foundation itself needs further training![reply]
  6. Ircpresident (talk) 00:27, 9 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Comment: I wanted to mention that regarding the Action Plan, a Community Health Working Group has been established as part of the 2018-20 Wikimedia Movement Strategy and I'm a member of that WG. --Rosiestep (talk) 22:23, 9 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  8. I care about the issues. I especially want a solution which includes Wikimedia community groups being empowered with funding to develop parts of the solution independently of Wikimedia Foundation orders. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:38, 10 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Alexis Jazz (talk) 09:28, 24 November 2018 (UTC) Support Support and if you think Wikipedia is a "project by the few", try Commons. Accountability of administrators is basically nonexistent. And if you try to rein them in, you get attacked yourself. We desperately need help. We are not at risk of becoming a broken community - that ship has sailed.[reply]
  10. Hiàn (talk) 23:11, 25 November 2018 (UTC) It's not going to fix the issue, but it's a good step forward to eventually fix it. It's becoming clear - we need to change the way we deal with content and our community. Full support.[reply]
  11. I totally support this, hoping that it will help to foster the idea that we're not alone (in all senses). Sannita - not just another sysop 14:33, 8 December 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  12. econterms (talk) 18:18, 17 December 2018 (UTC) - I'd like to help make "admin boot camps" happen.[reply]
  13. Oliveleaf4 (talk) 21:57, 2 November 2019 (UTC) Very much in favor! This letter describes the first steps towards becoming a real-life organization of actual people who collaborate to make an encyclopedia. Why is the training that corresponds to a real life organization necessary? Because the omnipresence of Wikipedia now means there's no escaping it. Nobody would ever accept it if the phone company or your electrical utility started "flaming" you. (Umm, well, maybe they have to put up with flames in California, but even in California, the public is insisting the utility make necessary repairs.)[reply]