New policy about performing research on English Wikipedia
Hi there wiki-research folks,
This is just a heads-up that English Wikipedia has adopted a new policy
about research on that project. The policy codifies some new requirements
for community notification and disclosure that potentially apply to all
research projects (regardless of the affiliation of the researcher).
You can read more about the policy on WP:NOT, but I've included the
major points below for your convenience:
- any research project that involves directly changing article content,
surveying a large number of editors, or asking editors sensitive questions
about their real-life identities needs to be discussed on Wikipedia's
Village Pump before it is begun
- researchers should disclose who they are on their user pages,
including their institutional affiliation, sources of research funding (if
applicable), and the intentions behind their research
Many aspects of this policy boil down to either common sense, existing
ethical standards for human subjects research, or both. However, this
policy also leaves certain definitions and thresholds undefined. What is a
"large number" of surveyed users? What is a "sensitive question"?
There are no concrete answer to these questions yet, and that's probably a
good thing. The best way to keep this policy from becoming overly
restrictive is for researchers to follow its guidance in good faith, and
ask questions when they're uncertain.
Projects that are deemed to be in violation of these guidelines may lose
editing privileges. If the violations are deemed particularly frequent or
severe, the EnWiki community may decide to make even more rules, which
could have a chilling effect on wikiresearch in general. Nobody wants
If you have general questions about this policy or its application, the
best place to ask is the WP:NOT talkpage.
If you have questions related to a specific planned research project, the
best thing to do is to err on the side of caution and open up a discussion
on the Village Pump before you begin.
You are also welcome to post your project plan to this list, where we, your
friendly peers, will hopefully offer constructive feedback and links to
Wikimedia Foundation research staff are not in charge of these guidelines,
but are happy to offer advice "from the trenches" so to speak if asked. We
are on this list too.
As always, if you are currently researching Wikipedia, or plan to do so,
please create a Research Project page on MetaWiki (example, tips),
keep it up to date, and link to it from your userpage. That way
interested parties can follow your research and ask questions, and you
won't need to constantly re-explain what you're doing every time someone