Hey everyone, Zmario here. I wanted to bring your attention to an important aspect when managing a wiki: the creation of policies for your wiki. It is no doubt a challenging experiencing when starting a wiki from scratch, trying to get users to join, but at the same time, setting up everything and making things look in tip-top shape. I'll go over all those things in another blog. But right now, I'd like to go further in-depth into the world of policy creation.
Creating a policy
Starting a new wiki is always exciting and tiresome. So many things need to be changed and information needs to be added. But a very important step that can sometimes be overlooked is the creation and maintaining of policies.
- A new user joins your wiki. It's his first time editing, he begins by adding categories. You think nothing of this. However, you notice that he's adding categories such as "Characters with the letter P in their name" and "Episodes that aired during a solar eclipse". You blocked him for three days. After the three days are over he writes on your message wall/talk page "Why was I blocked?" You respond: "You added a few irrelevant categories so I blocked you to stop. "But there were no rules on what categories to add". You stop typing, staring at the monitor. You have forgotten something. Something important. Something every wiki should have. You have forgotten to create a category policy for your wiki. After further investigation you come to the conclusion that you've forgotten about policies altogether, a serious no-no.
Ok, so the above example may seem a little farfetched, but trust me: this has happened before.
Naming your policy
Typically when creating a policy, the editor will add the name of the wiki beforehand (for example Community Central:Policies). Depending on how many policies the editor has, you can neatly place them all in one convenient page, or separate them by category (such as Community Central:Editing Policy, Community Central:Image policy, etc.)
What to put in a policy
When adding a policy, the best thing to do is informative as possible by providing clear and specific information so there's no confusion later on. ("Please do not add more than 10 categories to a page as most of the time categories become a cluttered mess" vs. "Don't add lots of categories".) In addition, you should also add a consequences system for those who continually disregard policies.
Policies can be general, but they can also have policies for all other aspects of the wiki including: images, categories, editing, chat, page creation, templates, etc.
The following image is an example of some "basic" rules written for the "Editing" policy.
If you're struggling to create individual policies or don't know where to begin here are some examples of "general rules" you can incorporate.
- Please do not spam pages with links to irrelevant content or advertising your business.
- Please do not vandalism pages by removing content, adding false information.
- Please do not insult, defame, threat or otherwise make another user feel uncomfortable by talking about the following subjects: religion, politics, gender equality, race, etc.
- Please do not upload images that are: irrelevant, pornographic or violent in nature, duplicates, or poor quality.
- There should be a limit of 10 categories added to a page at any given time.
Enforcing a policy
One of the hardest things about creating policies are enforcing it.
"But he's my friend, I can't block him."
Be tough, but be fair.
"You broke the rule three times, according to the policy page, that's equal to a 3-day block."
You don't want your generosity to be taken advantage of, even if the editor in question is your best friend. If a user ignores the policy, no matter what their personal standing with the administrator is, they should face the consequences depending on the severity and accumulation of infractions specifically listed on the policies page.
- Chickenugget1 was blocked for 1 week because he broke the same rule four times, yet your buddy CrimsonAvenger808 broke the rule seven times and was only blocked for a day.
Again, the above example seems a little hard to believe but in reality, it's an all-too real situation.
Having a link on the main page as well as on the main header are two good choices. Making sure editors read the policies before they start editing is extremely recommended.
Policies are a great way to incorporate guidelines for editing when used properly. Remember to be as clear and specific as possible and make sure you enforce the rules fairly and hopefully you'll create a great atmosphere for all users involved.
If you have any tips or other information, images, examples, stories you'd like to add, feel free to post something in the comments, but please remember to be civil.