CivWiki needs an alternative policy to 'Reliable Sources'
I know most people read this newsletter for server-wide news. But, given that it’s the “CivWiki Newsletter”, it does seem appropriate to have an op-ed about CivWiki.
CivWiki does its best, but the culture of Civ is, unfortunately, not conducive to the existence of a wiki. Nations are reluctant to share information on important events due to security concerns. In-game feuds carry over to the wiki and can be hard to untangle. And there is a dearth of news reporting or reliable sources, in the Wikipedia sense, about almost anything. I’m not sure there are solutions to all of these, but I think there is something CivWiki can do about the last issue.
As background, Wikipedia is written using information from what they call reliable sources. These are third-party, unbiased, and generally reputable authors or organizations which have something to say about the subject at hand. In other words, Wikipedia does not create information or viewpoints. It simply aggregates existing viewpoints from reliable sources.
I’m sure you can see the problem with extending this to CivWiki. Civ is too small of a community to have many reliable individuals, let alone organizations. Further, Civ’s tight-knit culture means that even if an opinion is prevalently held, there is nothing for CivWiki to cite; the opinion exists only in the cultural miasma of the current moment in time, with no concrete posts or writings to point to as a citation.
Let’s take Estalia as a concrete example. If this were a Wikipedia-quality article, it would likely have the following statement in the lede: “Estalia was widely considered one of the most powerful nations on CivMC”. I think this is a relatively uncontroversial opinion (though if this has changed in the past 6 months, you’ll have to forgive me, as I’ve been out touching grass). The problem is that a CivWiki editor wanting to add this has nothing to cite to back it up. And this is certainly a claim that requires a citation.
I’d like to propose a solution. CivWiki should form a source committee as a blanket stand-in for Wikipedia-style reliable sources. Whenever an editor would like to make a claim that would normally require a reliable source as a citation, they can put it before the committee, which votes with a simple (or super) majority. If approved, the editor gets to make that claim on the article, and cite the committee’s decision. This citation might even be emphasized on CivWiki in some way (such as slightly bolder styling) relative to other citations to denote it as maximally reliable.
A few recommendations…
- The source committee should be as low-friction as possible. Their job is to be a level-headed and representative sample of the opinions of the server, not to get into drawn out debates. A simple yes/no discord reaction with no (or very limited) discussion should be enough.
- The commitee should consist of:
- CivWiki admins
- Select CivWiki editors
- Level-headed community members, who will minimize their bias. You know who you are and most of you are already involved in CivWiki in one way or another, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
- The commitee should be heavily advertised and used liberally, assuming bullet 1 has been followed and the committee is low friction. Editors should be encouraged to submit claims even for relatively small items (though don’t go too small).
- It may make sense for the committee to proactively make and publish judgments on statements even before someone intends to use them in an article. The source committee has the potential to be an invaluable record for future CivWiki editors - maybe many years in the future - of the average civ player’s opinion on various topics.
- To this end, I would recommend publishing these results somewhere publically indexable (i.e., not discord) every so often, though the votes themselves would likely take place on discord. Publishing on r/civwiki every few months would make sense here.
Frankly, I’m not expecting anything to come out of this. I do genuinely think this would be a huge improvement to CivWiki’s reliability, or I wouldn’t have spent the effort of writing it up. But it does require both editors willing to make use of the committee’s judgments and players to sit on the committee itself, neither of which I’m confident will happen.
But hey, a civva can dream, right?
Tybug is a coder who is a regular contributor to CivWiki, and develops SnitchVis, a mod that allows snitch visualizations.
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