Most of our differences don't cause issues on wikis unless someone is involved who objects to our group. For example, age and religion don't generally have a strong influence on how someone edits on a wiki, but we have seen problems with people prejudiced against those groups. Be careful not to blame the target of attacks in such cases, and remember that a varied and interesting wiki comes from a varied and interesting community. You don't have to like everyone, or even approve of them. But that doesn't stop you from being polite to them. And you can definitely be careful not to discriminate against them. This includes not excluding groups by making the wiki unwelcoming to them. Remember that diversity will bring in new points of view and make your wiki richer
Other differences may cause some issues, especially in the area of communication. This doesn't just mean the languages we speak, but also the way we interpret the language we read.
At the most simple level, you might have someone with poor skills in the language of the wiki they are trying to contribute in. This can cause frustration, even anger and many misunderstandings. Patience, and the help of a native speaker can help here.
Although it's important not to stereotype, an example of cultural diversity that may cause misunderstanding is the difference between cultures that tend towards very direct language and those that prefer to be more delicate. One person may confuse the other because they are not saying what they mean directly, while the other may find the first person's directness rude.
Tone is hard to read even in groups of the same culture. Sarcasm, anger, politeness, can all be easily misread. When you add cultural differences in there, it's very easy to misread.
The solution here is to remember that not everyone will read the same text the same way, choose your words carefully and add a big dollop of "assume good faith"
People with disabilities are also part of the FANDOM Community. Again, this is rarely an issue, as with an able bodied new user, they more likely to become a valuable editor and a big help to the wiki than to cause problems.
It's true that many disabilities can affect how people relate to others and how they are able to contribute to a wiki. For example, someone with vision problems may find it harder to edit complex pages, and so might be more likely to make more mistakes. But they might also be a resource for your wiki, helping plan the wiki in ways that will help others with visual problems.
Another type of disability is psychiatric or behavioral disorders, for example depression, and anxiety, and those with differences such as being on the autistic spectrum. These might have an effect on someone's interactions, which might impact the wiki - but often in a good way. Again it's important not to stereotype, but a person on the autistic spectrum may be particularly good at arranging articles in categories. While someone who is depressed may find fixing typos an satisfying pastime that doesn't take too much of their limited energy reserves.
Understanding that people may have different skills and different challenges to deal with, goes a long way to accepting and working with people of all types. For example, in communicating with people on the autistic spectrum, writing clearly and directly, without complications such as similes and sarcasm will help. You may find that straightforward bullet points may help reduce misunderstandings.
That said, I've seen all sorts of things used as an excuse for bad behavior. The important parts to me are that while a disorder may force certain behavior, that doesn't mean that all behavior can be attributed to it. Or to put it another way, depression is not an excuse for blanking pages.
And while there may be no moral "fault" for displaying a behavior forced on you by your disorder, that doesn't mean that others are obliged to have an infinite ability to tolerate that behavior. Sometimes people have to say "no more", despite their sympathy.
So to summarize:
- Be aware of the variety of people on your wiki,
- Create a place where everyone is welcome,
- Remember that difficulties in communicating may be cultural or other difficulties,
- If you are having trouble communicating, try changing your communication style,
- Remember that diversity can be of great benefit to a wiki,
And most importantly, celebrate your differences, and those of your fellow FANDOM users!
Click here to follow the Fandom staff blog.
Interested in learning more about community management on Fandom?
Click here to view our community management blog.
Read through our Best Practices guides for keeping your community growing and healthy.
Join our Official Discord server for registered editors!