Universal Code of Conduct/Initial 2020 Consultations/Chinese
Introduction/ Basic Information/Facilitation process
In general, the Chinese community is largely falling into three main groups, including the Taiwanese community, the Hong Kong and Macau community, and the Mainland China community. These three groups use different social media for their conversations, have different political and identity backgrounds, and conflict between members of these groups is unfortunately quite common.
22 user interviews were conducted throughout the whole consultation period, in order to find out how the current conduct policies are working in the Chinese community, and how people are expecting to improve the current policies. Most of the people interviewed claim that they follow and support the policy, and at the same time, that it would be nice to improve the policy a bit more, to provide a safer place for everyone, which includes LGBTQ, female Wikipedians, or Wikipedians who share different political opinions. The current UCoC is proposed to be created by the Wikimedia Foundation, which they believe will be based on ‘western’ values, and it is possible that the policy will not be suitable for the Chinese community. Volunteers interviewed expressed hope that the Foundation will create a new UCoC for the Chinese community.
At the beginning of the consultation period, I shared the news about the consultation on different social media platforms used by the three groups, which include Facebook, QQ, and Telegram. People were not that active in the discussion, and only a few people showed that they support the UCoC and the consultation in these group settings, but some people approached me separately after seeing the posts on the social media platforms. Later on, I tried to arrange individual conversations with them. 22 people shared their opinions on UCoC with me, but there were also 5 other people, which showed their support and interest on the topic when I posted it on social media, but they have never replied to my invitation for individual conversations afterwards.
For the 22 interviewees, seven are from Hong Kong, three from Mainland China, eleven from Taiwan, and there is one interviewee who is now living overseas but as a Wikipedian is still active in the Chinese Community. The five people who showed their support and interest on the topic did not participate in individual conversations. They are from Mainland China. The individual conversations were on Google Hangout, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger. Fifteen of the participating users identify as male, one of them is female, and eleven of them did not share their gender identity. The purpose of the interviews was to investigate the major challenges that the community is facing with respect to conduct issues in the projects, how they usually resolve the issues, things they would like to see in a UCoC, and things they would not like to see in a UCoC. Four out of the 27 user total sharing opinions either on social media or in the interviews expressed their support, two of them expressed their concerns, and two of them stayed neutral. The remaining nineteen expressed their support, but also shared concerns at the same time.
Interview/ Community’s Feedback
The Chinese language Wikimedia community is facing a very unique situation. It is mostly separated into three main groups, including the Taiwanese community, the Hong Kong and Macau community, and the Mainland China community. The three different groups share the same language (the written forms would be a little bit different from each other, but still they can understand each other), but the cultures are very different, and this brings a lot of arguments to the community. To conclude the 22 interviews that I had with the community, there are three main challenges that the community is facing with respect to behavioural issues in the projects, as below,
- People abusing the ‘Wikipedia/Wikimedia’ branding
- Gender/Disability discrimination
- People violating conduct policies because of their different political ideas
The mentioned challenges are growing in the community, and the community is not quite happy with some parts of the current conduct policies, as they think that the Wikimedia Foundation does not react to these violations. At the moment, they do not have a proper system to resolve the mentioned challenges locally. It is difficult for them to resolve the arguments by themselves, and usually, the situation would escalate after their attempts to resolve the problems. People tend to leave the conversation when the situation escalates but the issues then remain not solved. Previously, they tried to report the violations to the Foundation, but the Foundation did not really react to them. The community members are still very frustrated about the lack of intervention and reactions of the Foundation. These issues are still in the community and they keep growing, and it is necessary to resolve the problems as soon as possible.
The community also shared the ideas on things they would like to see in a UCoC, and things they would not like to see in a UCoC. Here is the list of the things that they would like to see in a UCoC.
- There should be a clear guideline (UCoC) for the community members.
- We have to emphasize the consequences if the people violate the UCoC.
- The Foundation should work harder to enforce the UCoC.
- The Foundation should create a special UCoC for the Chinese community, especially for the fact that people share distinctly different political ideas.
- We have to think about how we, as the community members, can enforce the UCoC in the community.
As mentioned before, most of the people are okay with the current conduct policies, but still, they share their concerns. They believe that there are some loopholes in the current policies, and sometimes people violate them without any consequences. For example, the people from the Chinese community communicate on different social media platforms, including QQ, Telegram, Whatsapp, and Facebook. The violations usually happen on these platforms, but not on wiki. It will be difficult for the Foundation to enforce the UCoC on these platforms. Therefore, the community hopes that there should be a clear guideline about off-wiki harassment in the UCoC. At the same time, the community feels the Foundation has never emphasized the consequences if the people violate conduct policies. The community believes that the Foundation should emphasize the consequences if the people violate the UCoC so that the violations would decrease, as people might be afraid of the consequences.
The Chinese community understands that they are different from the other communities in the movement, and it would be nice that the Foundation will create the UCoC, especially for the Chinese community. They believe that the current policies are created by the Foundation based on the ‘western’ values, which is very different from the ‘eastern’ one, and it is possible that the current policies are not that suitable for the Chinese community. Meanwhile, the Chinese community members believe that they should also try their best to enforce the UCoC in the community, in order to provide a safe and friendly environment to everyone who would like to share free knowledge.
On the other hand, they shared their concerns on the topic, as shown,
- It is not a strict guideline for the community, and many people violate the rules every day.
- The UCoC cannot really work in the Chinese Community, as the political differences mainly impacting off-wiki conduct related to the movement play a huge part here.
- Right now the Foundation is not really enforcing conduct policies in the community. It is useless.
- The cultural differences in the community make it difficult to have just one UCoC. It depends on the people.
- People can ignore the UCoC and do whatever they want. As volunteers, people do not 'have to' listen to the Foundation.
- The Mainland Chinese government/CCP influences the community with their soft power, but there is nothing we can do.
It is necessary to improve the UCoC for the Chinese community as soon as possible, and at the same time, the political differences make it very difficult for the Foundation to work on the UCoC so that everyone from the Chinese community would be satisfied.
Case 1: Gender/Disability discrimination
Originally, some of the community members were discussing an article on Wikipedia, for the choice of vocabulary, in an off-wiki conversation. One of the members, who is a female, revealed her gender identity, and the discussion became weird. The female Wikipedian received comments about her gender, appearance, and also her tone of speaking. She was told that she should be talking in a gentle way as she is female and respect what the men have said in the discussion, which is totally irrelevant to the discussion of the Wikipedia article’s content itself. Given that the comments were on non-wiki platforms, it was/is difficult for this female member to report the case to the Foundation. She started to be less active after this discussion.
Case 2.1: People violating the UCoC because of their different political ideas
As mentioned before, the Chinese community is actually separated into 3 main groups, including the Taiwanese community, the Hong Kong and Macau community, and the Mainland China community. These 3 groups share different political backgrounds, and usually, the Mainland China community brings the opinion about politics to the community. It is a fairly wide shared perception that most of them support the China government and CCP. This would be considered very inappropriate as they do not see Wikipedia as the platform to share free knowledge, but a place for them to share political opinions. They do not allow others to share any opinion which is against the mainland Chinese government or they would be very aggressive. If the articles on Chinese Wikipedia are against the mainland Chinese government or CCP, interviewees expressed concerns that they would violate the UCoC as revenge.
When the Foundation launched this consultation to collect the opinions from the community, it happened that it was the time of COVID-19 pandemic (which is still ongoing.) The Chinese community has been only discussing articles related to this topic. When it came to the discussion about the name and the origin of the virus (which is originally from Wuhan Province, China), users from Mainland China refused the others to edit the articles to show this basic information. They even edited these articles to indicate that the virus was originally from the US, that the US government hoped to control the Chinese government with the virus. When the others disagreed with them, the members from Mainland China started to harass the others, by blocking the others on Wiki to stop them from editing and sending private messages on social media platforms, to threaten the others that they would be kicked out from the Wikimedia Movement if they would not like to cooperate.
Case 2.2: People violating the UCoC because of their different political ideas
Due to the different political ideas, user A (from the Taiwanese community) was harassed by user B (from the Mainland China community, who claimed that they are related to/ supported by the Chinese government). User A received some threatening messages off-wiki which included their personal information (His home address, the universities they had attended), and they tried to report to the Foundation (Trust and Safety Team) about the situation. However, the team did not really resolve the concern for them, as the harassments took place on different non-Wikimedia social media platforms, and user A was very frustrated about the experience.
Case 2.3: People violating the UCoC because of their different political ideas
The members from Mainland China would like to claim that Taiwan is an island which belongs to China, but this claim is highly controversial. Taiwan has its own culture, language, currency, and legal system, etc. However, the members from Mainland China insist that Taiwan belongs to China, and they tried to sabotage the articles about this topic, by editing them in a vicious way. When the members from the Taiwanese community complained about the situation, the members from Mainland China would pretend to be the victims here in this discussion.
Case 3: People abusing the ‘Wikipedia/Wikimedia’ branding
Some Wikipedians approached local organizations, to ask for cooperation, by showing the name of Wikipedia/Wikimedia Movement, without asking the local chapter. The cooperation was not successful, due to the lack of resources (as it was without the support from the local chapter), and later on, these organizations contacted the local chapter. The situation is not exactly what the UCoC is for, but it creates a tricky situation - when the local chapters found out about the situation and asked the Wikipedians not to approach the local organizations without asking for the permission from the chapter, the Wikipedians accused the chapter of violating policy. Policy, in this case, became a ‘weapon’ when people argued in the community.
It is very important for the Foundation to help create a better conduct environment for the Chinese community. Even though most of the people are okay with the current policies, there are so many parts to be improved. The differences of the political ideas have been a serious issue in the community, and the violations of UCoC would often be caused by this problem. The Wikimedia Foundation has to find the solution for this particular situation before creating the new UCoC for the community. It is well-known that the Wikimedia Movement is a platform for people to share free knowledge, but some members in the Chinese community bring their opinions about politics to the community all the time, and it is not healthy for the community development.
這22位受訪者中，有7位來自香港和澳門地區，11位來自台灣，3位來自中國大陸。目前有1位受訪者居住在海外，但作為維基百科的一員仍活躍於中文社群。另外， 有5個來自中國大陸的維基人對主題表示支持和興趣，但是沒有參加個人對話。個別對話分別在 Google Hangout，Telegram，和 Facebook Messenger上進行。參與的用戶之中，有15個為男性，有1個是女性，另外有11個未有共享性別身份。訪談的目的是調查中文社群在計劃實施方面面臨的主要挑戰，他們解決問題的方案，他們希望行為準則中看到的發展，以及他們在行為準則中不想看到的情況。在這27個用戶的總體共享意見這中，有4個表達了他們的支持，有4個表達了他們的關注，有2個保持中立。其餘19人表示支持，但同時也表示關注。
- 濫用「維基百科/維基媒體」（Wikipedia / Wikimedia）品牌的情況
案例3：濫用「維基百科/維基媒體」（Wikipedia / Wikimedia）品牌的情況
一些中文維基媒體社群的成員通過使用「維基百科/維基媒體」（Wikipedia / Wikimedia）的名稱來聯繫當地組織要求合作，但是沒有通知當地的分支機構。由於他們缺乏資源（因沒有當地分支機構的支持），合作未能成功，而後來這些組織聯繫了當地分會。這些情況不完全是行為準則指南可以解決，但它為中文維基媒體社群的發展造成了一個棘手的情況。當當地分支機構發現該情況時，並要求這些成員在未徵得分支機構許可的情況下不要與當地組織接觸。在這種情況下，當成員在社群中爭論時，行為準則指南就成了爭論中的「武器」，因為他們指控分支機構違反行為準則指南。