Assume Good Faith Limitations

Discussion about the possible limitations of the AssumeGoodFaith WikiConcept.
You're mostly right; however, I think one conclusion is flawed. There are some people who are sufficiently pathological that it probably is an us-or-them choice. There are many others, however, who exhibit LordOfTheFliesSyndrome - freed of all restraint, they engage in all sorts of destructive behavior; but put consequences in place and they become model citizens. Some people don't rob banks because it's a bad thing to do, irrespective of any legal penalty. Others do rob banks, despite the threat of jail if caught. But there are quite a few people out there, unfortunately, who would rob a bank (or cheat on their taxes, etc.) were they to think that they could do so without reprisal; but are sufficiently fearful of the response of the law that their behavior is checked.

I suspect that many of the pests plaguing this site would, if threatened with a ban that couldn't be gotten around by using anonymizer.com or some other proxy, play nice (or else leave voluntarily). Not all of them however.

-- ScottJohnson

The question still remains - how can content remain valuable when it is subject to the whims of contributors of dubious intent?

Focus on fixing content, not people. Focus on what is wrong about their content and things are less likely to get personal. If they say 2 + 2 = 5, politely prove them wrong with reasoning, and move on. If they keep claiming 2+2=5 in other topics, create a new topic containing your debunking of it and put references to that topic. My observation is that taking issues to a personal level is what starts nasty wars. When was the last time calling somebody a stupid or dummy made them stop annoying you?

In answer to the question above, the only way to make content valuable, in any context, is to understand the rationale behind a statement. People can discuss the reasoning and logic behind an assertion even if they happen to disagree. Far too much content is blind assertion followed by "Yes, it is!" "No, it is not" arguing. Instead of trying to prove someone wrong, ask why he has come to a certain conclusion. This way you will learn something; you may not agree with the person, but you can at least understand his reasoning.

Hmmm! Every human interaction occurs according to some underlying rules. If the rules work for people, they stay engaged. If the rules don't work, they opt out or, if they can't opt out, they act out. If I add spam or add information in a foreign language, someone edits it out. Those rules are either listed or understood. A personal rule for me is no name-calling or deception, and, in the organization in which I work, I will enforce those rules. I choose to not work in organizations that do not accept those rules and in which no-one is willing to enforce those rules. People need to know what the rules really are and then they are free to engage or not. The crazy-making situation is when folks say "anything goes (but not that!)".

I could work with Garry's rules, if I know them up front. I just hate being blind-sided by rules in a 'free' environment. It feels deceptive. On the other hand, pretending that there are no rules or that mean or deceptive behavior won't happen or will be 'naturally' corrected is a little too trusting for me. I prefer to know what will and will not be tolerated and then I get to make the decisions whether to participate. -- SteveGerard?
Has anyone considered the practical approach to this issue? If someone is adding unwanted or inappropriate content, it is EDITABLE, so one can delete any content which is abusive or offensive (I hope we all recognize the difference between offensive TO YOU and just plain offensive). Wiki is an incredible tool and the abuses are far and few between. Like a child, you love the good and the bad. You weed out the bad and feed the good. Harsh rules are no way to foster the creativity that is manifested in Wiki.

-- JessBosari?

Yes, you can remove the bad. Just as someone can remove the good. Who keeps restoring the good? Who keeps a copy so they can? 'The tragedy of the commons' applies. MikeM

How may I recognize the difference between something offensive to me and something just plain offensive (or offensive to all)? For either one, there must be a standard against which things are measured, the first being my own preference, and the second being the collective preference of the community (the world?), or perhaps some absolute, immutable standard. Determination of any individual's preference is clear enough, but how is the collective determination made or the absolute standard recognized? What percentage of the whole is considered consequential for this determination? How may the bad be weeded out without rules to do it? When does a rule cross the line from lenient to harsh?

Forgive me for not presenting possible solutions for these questions, but I truly want to know what the explanations might be.

-- NathanMiller?

In a nutshell, where are the lines drawn, and who gets to draw them??? jimhann


Required user login coupled with Karma rating by other users might help the issue - negative karma unable to edit/post - would need to combine this with "Wiki Marshalls" just my $.02

On this point see EditsRequireKarma and WikiNeedsTrustMetrics.
I think that the key difference between a wiki like c2 and "Real Life (tm)" is that on c2, until relatively recently, there were no significant consequences for unacceptable behavior. In real life, even the worst individual bully can be trounced, and gangs can be beaten by concerted brave effort. But here there are few such controls, and the sociopaths get few penalties. Add to that the use of bots to enforce someone's idea of grammar, or revert edits, or delete content, which have to real-world equivalent, and we have a witches' brew of bad behavior that cannot be mitigated by post-hoc efforts. So to keep the average reader from losing interest, a wiki probably will have to evolve some form of access control. -- PeteHardie


All constructs have rules. All activities will be deemed offensive by someone. All societies struggle with this, and so will any substantially open site. One current manifestation of this is the battle between agenda and science in government - making established scientific processes and protocol subservient to political goals within that aspect of the government. People are offended on each side of this. The outcome of any dialoge within a nominally open environment, at any particular point in time will be slanted toward the loudest/powerful/most numerous/ most recent voice. If you agree that the conversation will more responsive to the most recent, most numerous, most scientifically provable, most poetic or......how will this construct be biased, and to the benefit of whom?

The belief that the collective will eventually be right is noble, and I personally believe this, but the filters are slow to function.


This discussion ultimately boils down to a single point: judgement. The idea of ‘freedom’ is uniquely human and ultimately personal. One man’s freedom is another woman’s nightmare. Or vice versa (to be succinct).

There exists no thing, act or idea that is innately offensive. People decide to take offense. Humans judge. Murder in the animal kingdom is not only considered ‘natural’ (by humans), but is encouraged by human efforts to preserve ‘endangered’ predators. We are taught that the “murder’ of humans is abhorrent, yet nations engage in military murder every day. We even celebrate the ‘hero’ who killed mercilessly within the context of ‘war’. The construct that allows our ‘consciences’ to resolve this obvious hypocrisy is the judgement of ‘innocence’ and ‘guilt’.

True ‘freedom’ resides not in the mind of the collective, but only in the mind of the individual. To label any event as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can only take place within the context of an individual’s ‘judgement’, ergo the only true freedom is freedom from judgement.

“All constructs have rules.” to quote the preceeding comment. To effectively use a construct, one must adhere to those rules. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1) to quote the bible. These two ideas are inherently diametrically opposed, unless you accept that justice applies to all, ergo the rights of everyone are limited by limiting the rights of anyone.

So the question is not really “how do the users of this wiki ensure the promise of freedom within it”, but more accurately “who will be empowered to judge the relative freedom of those who decide to participate”. Stop being hypocritical and admit that in order to be governed, you must accept the government. End this discussion and begin the worthwhile discussion of WhatSortOfGovernmentWillRuleThisWiki. -- TomGriffin?
Surely an objective set of conventions is required in order for a WikiGovernment to work. Without boundaries that are both enforceable and actively enforced, any collective will stew in its individualist juices and become, at best, unpalatable or, at worst, unhealthy for anyone to consume. -- SimonTaylor.

As a frequenter of political forums, one thing I notice is that peer review often results in favoring those who say what the listener wants to hear, not related to the quality of content. It's a form of "mob rule": emotions, bandwagon syndrome, celebrity-ness, tribalism ("my team can beat up your team"), personal bias, and favoritism overpower fairer judgements. I don't think the average WikiZen is significantly different. It would need something more like a legal system than popularity ranking. It's not that legal systems are perfect, but probably better than popular-ism on average. Rules would need to be written (and agreed upon), judges elected, and any major decisions would require a public trial. -t
See also RudenessFails.
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