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|This resolution stating the Foundation's position regarding Biographies of Living Persons was passed in April 2009. It was amended in November 2013.|
The Wikimedia Foundation takes this opportunity to reiterate some core principles related to our shared vision, mission, and values. One of these values which is common to all our projects is a commitment to maintaining a neutral point of view.
In our efforts to offer a source of knowledge that is valuable and useful to all, we have a responsibility to uphold these values by also providing accurate information. Participants in Wikimedia projects have created resources of vast size and scope. As we have emphasized for several years, in addition to the quantity of knowledge that is available, its quality is also an essential matter. The generally high quality of information in Wikimedia projects has been confirmed by a number of studies, but it is important that we always strive to improve. As with any endeavor that provides educational and informational material, errors need to be avoided, especially when they have the potential to cause harm. One area where this applies is when writing about living people.
Increasingly, Wikimedia articles are among the top search engine results for just about any query. That means that when a potential employer, a colleague, friend, neighbor or acquaintance looks for information about a person, they may find it at the Wikimedia sites. As the popularity of the Wikimedia projects grows, so does the editing community's responsibility to ensure articles about living people are neutrally-written, accurate and well-sourced.
As our popularity has grown, some issues have become more prominent:
- Many people create articles that are overly promotional in tone: about themselves, people they admire, or those they are paid to represent. These are not neutral, and have no place in our projects. Generally, the Wikimedia community protects the projects well against this common problem by deleting or improving hagiographies.
- People sometimes vandalize articles about living people. The Wikimedia community has developed tools and techniques for counteracting vandalism: in general they seem to work reasonably well.
- Some articles about living people contain small errors, are poorly-written or poorly-sourced. Articles about people who are only marginally well-known are often neglected, and tend to improve much more slowly over time, if at all.
- People sometimes make edits designed to smear others. This is difficult to identify and counteract, particularly if the malicious editor is persistent.
The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees urges the global Wikimedia community to uphold and strengthen our commitment to high-quality, accurate information, by:
- Ensuring that projects in all languages that describe living people have policies in place calling for special attention to the principles of neutrality and verifiability in those articles;
- Taking human dignity and respect for personal privacy into account when adding or removing information, especially in articles of ephemeral or marginal interest;
- Investigating new technical mechanisms to assess edits, particularly when they affect living people, and to better enable readers to report problems;
- Treating any person who has a complaint about how they are described in our projects with patience, kindness, and respect, and encouraging others to do the same.