Wikipedia:We shouldn't be able to figure out your opinions

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We shouldn't be able to figure out your opinions based solely on your edits. If we disregard talk page comments, user page bios, userboxes, or anything else outside of a mainspace edit, every user should be inscrutable.

Acceptable edits aren't always acceptable[edit]

Wikipedia articles should always be written from a neutral point-of-view. Some edits, particularly to contentious subjects (such as politics), are easily identifiable as being partisan and so get removed swiftly. Sometimes, however, there might be individual edits made which are perfectly acceptable, but are part of a larger trend by a specific editor to promote a certain view.

These editors tend not break any rules (and indeed do their best to work within Wikipedia's rules and guidelines), but it can be clear from studying their long-term editing patterns that articles under their care eventually skew towards a certain viewpoint. It might not even be deliberate or malicious by the user - in some cases a user's inherent bias might creep through into their edits more than average.


Let's say a user makes an edit to the fictional ideology of anarcho-statism, saying that it has been criticised for being contradictory. They even provide a source, which is great. Then they make another edit saying that under anarcho-statism, human rights tend to be diminished. Again a source, and it's fine. Then they copyedit a sentence that praises the ideology, drastically shortening it in size. Then they remove another compliment to the ideology for being undue weight. Individually, none of these edits are rule-breaking and might be all perfectly acceptable in isolation. However, in just four edits we've already established that this user probably opposes anarcho-statism and is here to paint it in a bad light.

Be inscrutable[edit]

It's arguable if the above example can be considered malicious or bad-faith editing. It's certainly not vandalism or can easily be called disruptive. The user will likely justify their edits as being reasonable and in line with the project's guidelines − and they might even be right.

What can be more concerning is if a low-traffic article (and so, one that isn't on many people's watchlists) is edited long-term by such a user. What you might see then is a top-to-bottom rewrite of an article which paints the subject in an entirely different light which hasn't been challenged along the way by other editors.

A single snapshot of such users' edits don't reveal much, but put together we begin to understand their biases, which are filtering through to their edits. And so, as a tip to all editors:

Neutrality cannot just apply to your individual edits, but should be an overarching trend across your time here.

Be inscrutable.

See also[edit]