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Policies, Policies and more Policies

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Hellio. I am Superdadsuper, an Administrator and Bureaucrat on the wiki Biblicalapedia. Today I thought I would write up a detailed blog and guide for both admins as well as just regular contributors to wikis about policies.

What are policies?

According to Google search, policy is "a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual." This is very true but for a wiki can mean so much more. Policies lie at the core of every wiki, big or small and are the ultimate guide to be turned to by Admins and Editors alike. Policies are very important, because they create a go-to place to have uniformity of articles and to get articles to the best quality they can be.

How do I make a policy?

Policies often define the point of a wiki and what the wiki's goals are. Policies on a brand new wiki should be decided upon by the Founder and once the community starts to attract editors the editors themselves should have a say in the policies and should be able to propose changes when necessary. On a wiki with a more established admin team it should work the same way and let the admins come up with the foundational policies and let the community decide on those and add on new ones where they think are necessary. If an Admin thinks a policy should be added or changed it is important to always ask the community for consenusus first.

How do I follow the policies?

When following the policies there is also some common sense involved. Content that is inappropiate by any means-racist, vulgar, pornagraphic or religiously offensive  is a no-no on any wiki and is also against Wikia terms. When editing it should be common sense not to add such content and usually has low tolerance on many wikis, often times leading into an immediate block. Other content such as spam, vandalism and irrelevant content is not allowed on any wiki regardless of the policies and will often result in immediate bans.

The tricky thing when editing on a wiki is "How do I follow the policies?". Following the policies usually involves looking through the wiki's policy pages and reading through them. You can also ask an Admin or an experienced community member for help in understanding them. If you still can't understand the policies or just really itchiting to add some content then just ignore all rules. If you have interesting and relevant content than sometimes you are better off just to add it and an admin or another community member will usually be happy to help clean it up, and explain the policies better to you. Policies can be a bit of a learning curve and if being to worried about guidelines or rules makes it to where you can't edit by all means just add your valuable knowledge!

How do I enforce policies?

Policies being the foundation for a wiki's content need to be enforced by the Admins correctly. There are some do's and don'ts for enforcing rules.

Firstly, Know when to give an immediate block and when to be patient and give it some timeIf the content violates the terms of use by spam, racism, porn or other offensive content most of the time this is called trolling and is usually not tolerated. If the content though contains good information but just isn't written very good or fits into the writing style of the wiki give it some time. I have seen way to many wikis that block somebody just because they couldn't follow the rules right on their first edit. Being an Admin you should be willing to clean up and content and most of all communicate with your users. Make sure to leave a message to the contributor, explain to them what was done wrong how they can fix it and link to the policies. Don't be too strict or too harsh in getting editors to follow policies just give it some time as it's a bit of a learning curve. If a user purposely if ignoring rules simply because they want to be disruptive give them a kind warning and from there slowly block them. If they aren't following the rules simply because they aren't used to it then edit their edits and fix it! Thats what a wiki is all about.

What kind of policies do I need?

That depends on the size and the type of wiki. For smaller wikis you a generally better off to have a small amount to no written policies. At a small stage you could loose potential editors by having to many policies. You should try your best to be in the know of what the average page looks like or what the "unwritten" policies are but to many policies drives off users. I used to have that issue myself on my wiki several months ago and when I loosened it a bit I noticed the editing went up a lot more than what it was before.

Larger wikis often need more policies because they have many more vandals, a larger potential for more diverse content and don't have as much to loose when loosing an editor or two. I asked DisneyWikis admin Dlgirl75 her thoughts on this and she said "Well a lot more guidelines are helpful to keep order with pages especially when people can get really carried away. Unfortunately it'd take some time for users to understand those rules, and it is a drawback". Big wikis often don't have as much to loose from one editors and need lots of policies. Smaller wikis on the other hand need every helping hand they can get! Also consider the sorts of policies on what you are making. Every wiki has general behavioral or conduct guidelines and writing guidelines. Depending on your wiki's topic there will be a specific way to write specific topics and articles and how to approach certain things. Be mindful that too many policies will make it to hard to edit on a wiki (no pun intended). Thanks for reading my blog if you have any comments please let me know

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