The Wiki is a powerful tool and there are few strict rules, but over time the community has developed a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. Check the Wiki Ethics/Archive as well.

If you are completely new to the Wiki, a light primer of common mistakes is located at Welcome to the Wiki.

Some loose guidelines

  • Respect the opinions of others. On the other hand, make it clear whether you are expressing a fact or an opinion.
  • Try not to destroy content. When updating out-of-date content, it may be valuable to keep some of the history. For instance, mark business pages with [[Include(Departed Business)]] rather than deleting them.
  • If you don't agree with something, promote dialogue by including all sides of the argument. The use of /Talk pages is a good way to accomplish this. If you've seen two editors making and unmaking the same edit, step in and create a /Talk page using the Talk button.
  • Use the wiki for good and not evil.
  • Avoid Wiki Edit Wars by respecting others content in your edits. When your edits cause disagreement, it is best to discuss them either on the original page, the Wiki Community/General Discussion page, or by creating a new discussion page.
  • This is not a good place to have a casual conversation. Don't be afraid to summarize or re-organize past entries for the sake of readability.
    • 'Conversation' on a page can usually be turned into something when meaningfully structured.
    • Little streams of comments on the bottom of a page can usually be reworked into different areas of the page. Use comments left to improve the writeup by putting them in the proper spot.
  • Do not fear disagreement and debate. It is the most important part of the process.
  • Always be civil to all, and be especially nice to those who are new to our community.
  • There's a consensus that ["Users/FirstnameLastname"] pages are the property of that user. Edit them if you'd like, but respect the owner's wishes.
  • Use a single user-account, and refrain from creating sock-puppets, i.e. a user that mimics thoughts expressed by your primary account, but in no way reveals the two speakers to be one and the same.
  • The wiki is about the Davis community. If you find yourself in a tangential debate or edit war, balance things by matchings every contribution you make on that page, with a positive contribution about Davis on another page, even if it's just some minor gnoming.

It likely remains true that Wikis sort themselves out. Certainly in the case of Davis Wiki, we are blessed with intelligent and respectful people. That is why any talk of ethics wouldn't be rules but mere guidelines that people might like to follow.

We would all hate to see the wiki turn into a great place to post porn and flame your professors, but this isn't likely to happen as long as we are all respectful and cooperative. Confrontational statements and material is typically ignored or removed.

Should anything be taboo? If so, what?

Possible ideas (add what you want, even if it's just a bud of an idea):

  • Threats of any kind. Threatening other users is totally inappropriate.
  • Libel (spreading lies via print)
  • Creating pages that intentionally mislead users. This is not to say that dramatic or humorous wording is disallowed; just that it should be clear to an average reader when something is true versus when something is a joke or tongue in cheek.
  • Anything that might legally be construed as "Hate".
  • Confrontational speech is usually edited or removed. Controversial statements should be attributed to those who say them.
  • Derisive commentary motivated by gender, race, orientation or political beliefs (I've removed a number of really derisive comments about the campus conservatives lately - really I find it as offensive as any of the more "commonly recognized" forms of discrimination - there's no place for it here -KrisFricke)
  • Personal information regarding an individual without their permission. Some leeway might be acceptable for public figures. When in doubt, get permission.
  • Pornography
    • Does this include links to pornography websites? (they are easy to find) Please have someone explain specifics. -GabeKoulikov
      • Depends on the context. For instance, there was a nude photo shoot done on a local bridge. A link to the gallery (with an appropriate warning) would make sense. A link on somebody's personal page may well make sense (if the person is a photographer, model, etc). A link in the middle of the entry on free-trade coffee probably wouldn't make sense. There are exceptions to taboos (which is why they are taboos, not hard rules), but only ones where it makes sense and adds to the wiki. Do you have any examples?jw

See also: Unethical Editing, Wiki Social Norms, and Welcome to the Wiki. Also, when it comes to flames, see Insults. For a specific discussion of this see Wiki Community/Inappropriate Content


There are some topics that have never (and likely will never) have a satisfactory conclusion. That's because the people who make up the Wiki feel differently about them. You can discuss them in Wiki Community/Ethics Discussion, but it is unlikely that you can present an argument that will have everybody agreeing with your personal feelings on the issue.

Here's a list:

  • Profanity
  • Opinions stated as fact
  • Geographic comments ("This is far away from where I live")
  • Any of the classic flame wars


Trying to sum up the Wiki philosophy in an artful phrase is difficult, but here are some attempts:

  • Back in 1994, the Web was a pretty wonderful place, with lots of people putting up stuff just because they thought someone else would find it interesting or useful. Wiki preserves that feeling in a place that has become too much of a shopping mall. It reminds people that sometimes to work together you have to trust each other more than you have any reason to. —Ward Cunningham
  • It's better to convince someone of something through argument than to delete.
  • Put a flier on the wall. Just don't put a flier over someone elses.
  • The Wiki is made to be altered.
  • Your house will be the next builder's brick.
  • "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours." — John of Salisbury (11th century monk)
  • In the real world, it's possible to randomly punch strangers in the stomach. What stops us from doing this? The fact that we're not assholes, that's what. (Jick's Law)

Note that these aren't really rules or subjects to discuss, just attempts at witty turns of phrase that convey a personal philosophy about the Wiki. Think beautiful words, not legal clauses. If you want to discuss Wiki Ethics, try the discussion area.

Helpful Websites For Wiki Ethics

  • — Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc.'s Wiki is an early Wiki, but certainly not the last word on Ethics - each Wiki builds its own set of beliefs and choices.


Do you have a question about ethics?

You must be logged in to comment on this page. Please log in.

2005-09-29 23:52:23   What's the Wiki admins stands on worthless pages? Like say I want to create a page called CoffeeShrine which is a shrine to all things coffee and I decide to put up all sorts of random coffee images and paraphernalia. It's generic, spammy, and not related to Davis, however it isn't harmful, in poor taste, or inappropriate. Would that be poor Wiki Ethics as far as the Davis Wiki is concerned? —OnceLivedInDavis

  • First off, you are an admin. You are an editor with equal rights to define what content is relevant. That also means that every other user is equal to you. Somebody may well decide to delete it (or you might decide to delete KittiesAreCute, citing the same non-relevance). Somebody else might come along and undelete it and add a couple Davis related images. Then you return and add some more stuff, another person adds a poem about Coffee by a Davis poet, another person deletes some of the images and adds better lit pictures, two people make spelling changes, somebody mentions the Berkeley Free Trade Coffee law and links to Berkeley, somebody else grammar checks it... i.e., if you create a page, all those equal editors (including you) often have a tug of war that winds up positioning the "center" of the page above a point where it is useful, relevant, fun and well written — as defined by the entire Wiki full of active editors.

    In short, there is no authoritative person to ask. You could ask somebody who has been active on the Wiki what will likely happen — in which case I can tell you that it's likely to either get deleted or altered to have relevance to Davis within short order. — JabberWokky

2006-10-08 17:24:48   If a user attempts to comment on a business' page from multiple accounts, tries to delete comments, and tries to alter the comments of others (from positive to negative), should any of his comments be allowed to remain? —KaiTing

  • If a single person is using multiple accounts, all but one account will be closed. Choosing which one is legitimate could be tricky in some circumstances, but in the past it has been fairly obvious. As for the edited comments of other people, any editing of reviews is pretty much universally not accepted by the community; they should be reverted back to the original version. As for the multiple comments from one person under multiple accounts, leaving them there clearly marked (or questioned) as a astroturfing effort is one option, simply deleting them with a comment that gives proof that they were one user with duplicate accounts is another option. The first allows commentary and dispute, while the second is generally only good when it is undisputably clear that there was duplicitous commenting. Who specifically are you talking about? What edits? — JabberWokky
    • I don't see much point in asking whether the other account is his. He has already lied by saying that he didn't alter other comments (when the history tells otherwise), so it's not exactly like he's an honest bloke. However, that's not the point. We've all made unwikiful edits, especially as new users. I just don't think that any of his comments belong on the page after he's gone through such an effort to vandalize the page. He deleted entries, added pseudonymous entries, and negated the entries of others. Until he proves himself by editing other pages in a reasonable manner, his bias shouldn't be allowed on the Raja page, since the origin of the bias is suspect. Most likely, he's the owner of a competing business, or was a patron that got caught trying to run out on the bill, or whatnot. If that's the case, then his only interest on the daviswiki is denegrating Rajas. However, if he's just a misguided new user, then he'll figure things out eventually on other pages, thereby establishing that his sole purpose on the wiki isn't just to deflate Rajas. —Kai

2006-10-08 21:07:25   What about creating multiple (as in two) accounts solely to protect your privacy. I use a ficticious account because some of my comments are critical of Davis government and police. I'd *like* to also have a non-anonymous account for non-contriversial postings. There is *no* sockpuppetry intended. Would that be an acceptable use? —GrumpyoldGeek

  • Such a thing would be in good faith, so I believe it is a fair reason. To protect one's anonymity, though, the matter of IP addresses must be considered, though. Depending on how far one wished to take it. —JosephBleckman
  • It's all a matter of ethics and the opinion of the community, not a hard rule. I highly doubt anybody would have a problem with that, but I could be wrong. At least Joseph and I agree. I've logged out to forums occasionally to post anonymous stories about workplaces to prevent identification of the people involved. The problem would be when some sleuth connects the two accounts. I'd also say that accountability suffers when two accounts are used for any reason, and it would have to be a good reason. Creating a secondary account to say that a band stinks, for instance, would be unlikely to be acceptable. Creating one to post about where to get confidential HIV treatments would likely be considered acceptable by most people, I believe. Like most actions in a social community, it often depends on the situation, intent and execution rather than the factual description of the act. — JabberWokky

2006-10-13 15:18:49   Suppose some company had some information published on their page that they'd rather not be public. It is factual information that is neither positive nor negative, but they may deem it to be sensitive. Are they within their rights to unilaterally delete such information without discussion? Is it ethical to restore the deleted information? —WilliamLewis

  • First of all, it depends on who owns the information. If it was created by the company, they own the copyright. If the information is proprietary or is a trade secret, they own the material. In those cases, the company would be justified in removing it and insisting that it stay removed. If the company doesn't own the information, usual wiki ethics should prevail. —Grumpyoldgeek
    • I should have been a bit more specific. The information is neither a creative work nor any type of trade secret. It's a direct phone number. —WilliamLewis

2008-03-05 19:09:01   I'm pretty sure that one of the comments on an apartment page is written by the property manager pretending to be a renter. It is pretty obvious, would it be ok to delete this comment? —HG

  • Suspicious comments occasionally pop up and are generally flagged with supporting info rather than deleted. Every once in awhile the person even comes back and it turns out to just be a big fan of the business who created an account just to heap praise. Which entry? (Oh, and if in doubt, the talk pages are good for this kind of thing if you want to "call in a second opinion"... I've had some things that looked funky to me be pointed out as non-suspicious activity that way, especially when there's a handful of questionable reviews) —JabberWokky
    • I comment by KS on the Cambridge House Apartments page. There are a few things that make me question it. For instance saying that the windows are going to be fixed soon, because I haven't seen or heard about any window fixings and it seems like something only a property manager would say. As well as the comment about the high speed internet, because it is actually extremely slow and everyone who lives here complains about it. Also there is no maintence on the landscaping and the maintence guys never come the same day, or the next or next. It just seems really weird to me, and I'm new to Wiki so I didn't know how to approach it. Is there a way to flag it similar to craigslist?
      • You just edit it. In this case, I added a note to the end of the entry. You can also check an editor's info by visiting their profile (in this case there was none), and clicking "Info" and then "User Info". It shows all the edits that they have ever made. If they reviewed an ice cream place, a laundromat and an apartment complex, they are probably a legit editor. In this case, they only ever made the single edit from that account, which is... well, at least semi-suspicious. I appended a note to the review noting that fact for people who are reading the reviews. —JabberWokky

2009-05-08 13:03:06   Is it or is it not ok to delete comments off your personal page? Also, if you are rude to someone, and they are rude to you back by leaving rude comments on the page of a company you work for instead of on your personal page, is that ok? I obviously believe it is ok to delete your comments from your personal page and I believe its everyones duty to avoid arguments about these things being displayed on business pages. They are not relevent to the business nor are they relevent to they way the business operates because business and wiki comments are so entierly different. —RealComputers

It is permissible to do just about everything you want on your userpage as long as it isn't illegal. If you are an active wiki editor, we say you pretty much own your userpage. We have deleted content a user posted on their userpage in a few instances in the past, but this is rare. However, just because you can delete comments from your page doesn't mean you always should. I periodically delete my comments when my page just gets too long. It allows easier communication. However, just deleting comments related to an ongoing issue just makes it more difficult to understand what's going on and is discouraged.

As for the other issue about people "leaving rude comments," you are completely out of touch with what's going on here. The way you are framing your question prevents me from giving you a meaningful answer. All I can say is that your behavior on your business' page has been highly inappropriate and inconsistent with our community norms. You are doing it wrong and you should stop editing your business' page for at least a month. —WilliamLewis

  • One benefit to retaining those comments is to prevent having to go over the same issue with the next person to come along. some editors even have comment archives that have all of the comments that they have received and many of their replies. —JasonAller

2009-06-27 20:59:21   What do I do AFTER I accidentally deleted an entire page? I only wanted to delete one of my accidentlly redundant entries, but dumped the whole thing instead. My bad. I had no idea I could even do that. The post was about an apartment complex I hate living in and certainly didn't want my, or those of the mostly concurring renters to lose voice. —Marshall

No worries. Every edit that is made here is logged. Mistakes like you deleting an entire page are easily undone. The page you deleted is back already.... don't sweat it. —WilliamLewis

2010-09-06 12:45:52   I have an issue with the page for SPCA Thrift Store. It is obvious that ktcooper works for them—and while she's done great work on the page, posing as a customer or shilling for them is really unethical. I recommend any future "customer comments" from her be removed. Over on RocWiki we define it as Shilling. —PeterBoulay

  • They are a non-profit, and the comment is probably intended as an honest statement. A note that there's an affiliation (which is there now) makes sense. I'm not sure why a member of the community wouldn't be allowed input just because they are affiliated (assuming they are honest about their affiliation, don't sockpuppet, etc). Would you propose removing the comments of an employee of a fast food place who related unsanitary conditions? If not, why not allow affiliated people to tout their positive experiences as well? Incidentally, she may have felt her affiliation was obvious given her heavy activity on the wiki for quite a long time; it's not a safe assumption there was deception intended. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards
  • Somebody just pointed out that they think KTCooper might be on vacation and there's somebody just using the store computer, which is logged into her account. Somebody could probably walk over and ask. -jw
    • I agree that the comment is fine as long as the affiliation is noted, and I don't think anything further needs to be said. The most recent edit from KTCooper is the usual update about store specials, not one of the "shilling" comments. If the "shilling" comments were made by someone else, they happened on another day. —CovertProfessor
    • CP-that's because someone deleted one of her comments. —PeterBoulay
      • PB — sorry, not following. What is because someone deleted one of her comments? —cp

2010-09-10 14:05:45   I have a business in Davis which received a review in WIKI that was in part highly negative. There's nothing wrong with a review that has a highly negative aspect. The reviewer wrote sincerely and has a right to his opinion, but this review and it's highly negative lead line follows all my internet business activities. When my business comes up in any GOOGLE search you immediately see this highly negative comment posted in Davis Wiki. I teach and most of my students are very happy and have been with me a long time. This person's opinion while thoroughly valid is definitely a minority opinion but it colors all my internet business activities. I am not able to take any legal action against this individual because any entry in the Davis Wiki seems shielded by anonymity. I don't know how to contact this person. Wiki makes this very difficult because there seems to be no one you may contact at Wiki to deal with legal and moral issues of this sort. I am not going to give my name because I've learned to fear anything remotely public posted on Davis Wiki but here is my phone number: 530 756-1941. I'd appreciate a human being getting back to me about my dilemma. I cannot initiate libel action against a person I don't know. —dlb

If you believe their opinion is legitimate, why would you sue them for libel? Anyway, feel free to rewrite the page how you want, while following the Wiki Community/For Profit Restrictions. You can also ask some of your customers to write something nice on the wiki if they want. -NickSchmalenberger

I would also recommend reading Welcome to the Wiki/Business Owner if you have not done so already. How old is the comment? If it is older than a year, perhaps it is time for the comments to be archived. See, e.g., Raja's for what archiving looks like. You might also want to respond to the comment. Deleting the comment, however, will probably not go over well with other editors. It's hard to say, though, without knowing what the comment is. —CovertProfessor

  • The comments were already archived. It's actually a business where you either click with the teacher or you don't, and the style of teaching can be a massive mismatch. My wife does something similar and loved the teaching style from somebody who caused a friend of ours to react so negatively she considered a lawsuit. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards, (814) 889-8845

The comments have been archived (it isn't hard to figure out which business this is). However, they never disappear from Google unless they are removed entirely from the Wiki. —DonShor

  • Actually, they do. Change histories are tagged and Google does not index them. Archived comments are just that — archived for posterity, so they exist intentionally as a record of the community's various perceptions. -jw
  • When you enter this individual's business in Google, the fourth listing is his business name with "Comment Archive - Davis Wiki" attached. —DS
    • Correct. -jw
    • Well, the right thing to do is the same thing we encourage every owner to do: fix the issue, provide a response and encourage your happy customers to write good reviews. When I go look through reviews and most people seem very happy with the service I'm certainly less likely to take an old, bitter review as seriously. Public relations for a business is certainly a difficult thing to master, but doing it by trying to avoid issues isn't a good way either and will end up having an even more negative impact. Instead, show the world you care and address the issues brought forward, respond in a professional manner and potentially offer solutions to outstanding issues.

2011-09-13 11:35:14   A recently created wiki for users/evewestbessier was summarily deleted by williamlewis who claimed it was "an ad." This wiki is an overview of a local musician, community teacher, performing artist and 25+ year resident of the Davis community. We endeavored to provide complete information on Eve's commitment to the arts, community and teaching leadership. A a member oft he local music scene for three decades and a member of the music teaching profession, Eve's wiki is intended to provide the community with her personality and capabilities. it even had a Comment box at the bottom for feedback and such. We don't believe fairness or good judgement was exercised by deleting her profile without first notifying of "violations" of what is deemed a personal wiki and an ad. How can this wiki be restored and what guidance have you so this "conforms" with wiki standards. Thanks in advance for your rational contemplation of this request. Let's keep it civi. —fknochenhauer

2012-09-27 12:57:17   I found that the dentist for this business has been deleting negative comments: Check the edit info and you will see the deletions. I feel like this page needs to be flagged! —waveform

Pretty sure the deletions have all been reverted. Feel free to double check. —TomGarberson