|As is sometimes the case with highly insular organizations, Wikipedia has developed an elaborate jargon, incomprehensible to outsiders. It has been made even more bewildering to the uninitiated by being expressed almost exclusively in the form of acronyms. Increasingly, this serves to defend the project against newcomers who actually believe that “anyone can edit”; in content disputes, it gives the advantage to entrenched persons who can selectively cite policy with great facility (and greater selectivity.) Here is a survey of some of Wikipedia’s most popular acronyms, with some jaundiced commentary on the definitions:|
In theory: come on, people now, smile on your brother. We’re all in this together to provide accurate information to a benighted world. If someone seems to be applying policy in an oddly incorrect and seemingly self-serving manner, it is surely an honest mistake.
In practice: when you are busily gaming the system in order to tilt a particular article toward your preferred bias, and someone calls you on it, you may indignantly cite this policy. “Moi?”
In theory: a place where Wikipedia administrators and other interested parties can freely discuss problem users and resolve complex issues.
In practice: here you may swiftly assemble a lynch mob for any occasion, and with a little luck, get the precipitous action that you desire. Or not.
In theory: the buck stops here for dispute resolution.
In practice: here you may put on your powdered wig and expound your arguments at great length, with faux-legalistic gravitas. This will have little effect on the Committee, which is anxiously trying to avoid disturbing the status quo.
In theory: the policy that says Thou Shalt Not Defame.
In practice: to the extent that it is enforced, this is the policy that says Thou Shalt Not Defame. There is really no down side to this policy, and it is deeply resented by the Wikipedia Old Guard.
In theory: we presume that Wikipedia discourages biased editing, and therefore, if someone has a real-life position that might tend to bias their editing of a particular topic, he or she probably shouldn’t be editing there.
In practice: this is a handy policy to cite if you find yourself in a dispute with a credentialed expert. Of course, if you had a genuine conflict of interest, would you disclose it?
In theory: Wikipedia discourages editors who are involved in contact disputes from trying to make life miserable for their opponents in hopes of driving them away.
In practice: context is everything. Remember, when you are following your opponent from article to article in order to cause him maximum vexation, or trawling the net for info on his girlfriend’s employer, you are Defending the Project Against a Disruptive User. When he does it to you, it is WP:Harassment.
In theory: Wikipedia seeks to discourage bias in articles, so all points of view must be included, in proportion to the degree of emphasis they receive in Reliable Sources.™ This is the “no viewpoint left behind” policy.
In practice: this means your bias should receive greater emphasis in an article relative to the emphasis given to your opponent’s bias.
In theory: information added to articles is supposed to be cited to reputable published sources that engage in some sort of fact-checking, or else to some newspaper.
In practice: This is often the essential arena of your typical WikiBattle. It goes without saying that your sources are reliable, and your opponent’s are not.
In theory: since the Wikipedia editing process operates by consensus, one wouldn’t want to distort the apparent consensus by having one user participate using multiple accounts. Also, once an editor has run afoul of an admin and gotten himself banned, one would not wish him to return under a new assumed identity. Why, that would be disruptive.
In practice: The quickest and most effective way to prevail in a dispute over article content is to get your opponent denounced and banned as a sockpuppet. See also WP:9STEPS.
In theory: Wikipedia could not possibly be held responsible for the accuracy and truthfulness of its content. Therefore, everything must be verifiably cited to published sources that can take the rap if the heat comes down.
In practice: ”All the news that’s in print, we fit.”