Submissions:2024/Challenges to policy change on Wikipedia

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2024.


Challenges to policy change on Wikipedia

Type of session:

Lecture (15-30 min)

Session theme(s):

Governance & Strategy


This talk will examine some causes of and possible solutions to dysfunction in processes for creating and changing policies and guidelines on an open wiki.

The talk will focus on the specific example of notability guidelines on the English Wikipedia. The speaker will present multiple lines of evidence on the impacts of these guidelines over time, including viewpoints from external scholarship, statements by former Wikipedians, and changes in editing activity over time shown by the Wikipedia database dumps. A voice-exit-loyalty framework will then be used to review how certain structural features of Wikipedia decisionmaking can make certain types of policy change extremely difficult to reverse, even when those changes have had demonstrable negative effects.

The talk will conclude with a brief review of some possible solutions and the challenges that each solution would face.

Author name(s):

Samuel Henderson

Wikimedia username(s):

E-mail address:

Affiliated organization(s):

Able to attend without scholarship?


Estimated length of session


Will you be presenting remotely?

Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

Previously presented?


Special requests: