IntegrationAndIdentity explains how a wiki (especially a CommunalWiki) integrates new ideas. Some ideas everyone agrees on - they just hadn't been put into words yet. Sometimes not everybody agrees - there is some discussion, some resolution, and in that process the identity of the wiki is changed.

But in some cases, a resolution can't be reached. disagreements run too deep - people may not agree on anything ! In that case, you have a deep disagreement.

The literature talks about "Wicked Problems" - the idea may be similar.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have ShallowDisagreement?s, which will only lead to conflict if they aren't handled with decent process (which can happen ! because that is what we are exploring!). Misinterpreting a comment as offensive, different meanings given to a word, different tastes in music or art … stuff that can be left aside or talked over. A good CommunityProcess? (AssumeGoodFaith, etc.) can help prevent those from being problems. (


Addressing deep disagreements

Finding a good way to overcome deep differences would be great!

Measuring depth: Try to find common grounds. If you can find common grounds for an issue, then it is at least possible to assess how far apart your positions are. In some cases, it may even help to resolve the issue. Sometimes it can help to isolate controversial issues so that progress can be made elsewhere.

MappingArguments can be a way to make disagreements explicit without generating (too much) conflict. It may be a good alternative to just directly debating.

But it isn't always necessary to address deep disagreements. While one can welcome critics, it can be tiresome to keep debating first principles. It becomes more productive for each party to move their own visions forward independently. It's OK to be only SelectivelyOpenMinded.

However, it's still always important to recognize that deep disagreements do exist, and aren't only due to other people being evil or stupid (See also AssumeStupidityNotMalice) .


At this point it may be interesting to look at some reasons for disagreement.

Models. People disagree about how they explain the world (world-view, religions). Models are simplifications, they offer advantages and disadvantages. They still offer the chance to agree on goals, e. g. help in an catastrophe or build a street. So concentrate on common goals. Accept different models. Look at what they can accomplish in special situations, don't look for the "best theory".

Interests. People disagree about who should have the larger piece of the pie. The problem is that no-one wants to discuss this openly. Typically people want to get in a position where they can decide without being controlled. So concentrate on transparency and fairness. State goals the can be checked afterwards and measures that can be corrected if the goals are not reached. Concentrate on controls and responsibilities.

Investments. People disagree about the importance of concepts or systems, because they have invested into them (for example an operating system, a programming language, or fusion reactor technology). The general acceptance of such concepts highly influences the value of the knowledge and abilities that have been grown. There seems no easy way out of this disagreement, because the investments and potential losses are real. Maybe this is one of the reasons why people are often so "religious" about technical issues.

See Also


Why do you think respect and openness can only work on the individual level? I think a community can decide to defend these values as well.

As a person I'm most interested in deep differences (maybe "large distances") and the problems to bridge them. If you build a bridge from A to B, one must believe that people have every right to be at A or be at B. A bridge is a two-way road. An argument that A is silly and B is to be preferred can never bridge A and B.

I've removed the bit about the individual level - I guess what I meant was that while a community may be as close-minded and intolerant as the worse individual in it - therefore that preaching tolerance at the individual level is easier, or else you need a different community process.

But this didn't seem very true, interesting or important :)

Problems this causes on Wiki

People who deeply disagree about something will not change each other's mind (See PassagesOfPerspective, and SelectivelyOpenMinded). Often, they are wise enough to recognize this fact, and will just AgreeToDisagree and stop bickering. This works fine as long as the communication stays superficial. But try to get them to work together on something - write a book together, design a building, or, yes, work on the DocumentMode of a wiki page, and you'll have problems again.

This can lead to a perception of WikiSectarianism - because strongly different ideas can cohabit in an informal conversation, but not nearly as easily in a single text.

I just wanted to try and tie this up with the recent discussions … the hidden curse of the DocumentMode.

CommunityWikiFaq idea ties into this, Q. What are the DeepDisagreements (are this, did this, is feared to encounter) this community has in it's history/future.

Just found this page BOLD, revert, discuss cycle and like it! I find that in many place, not just wiki and not just online, we're so conflict averse that we're not willing to struggle together to find the creative (higher) unity. Thoughts?

Hmm, I HaveThatPattern?, I remember doing something like that back in the days before WP was banned. Be bold, get reverted, talk about it, yup. I'm not sure I agree with that page completely, though - it works on wikipedia, but not on all wiki based on consensus; only those who want RadicalInclusiveness.

I think it's a good path. I'm not sure I agree with the part of the VisitorRole policy which taboo's changing any DocumentMode text. I believe strongly in BeginnersReworking, after all. (That said: a visitor or a guest should be not be surprised if DocumentMode is reverted.)

But I do believe that it is taboo for visitors to participate in rule decisions, or to try and influence decision processes.

I'm addressing the part that said: Don't accept "it's policy, live with it.", but DO listen VERY CAREFULLY when folks say "well, flurbeling was a bad idea, that's why we decided to always floop before we fleep instead."

If a clique has a policy and doesn't want to take the time to explain it or argue about it, as a visitor, you have to live with it. Guests might ask to have it change, but again, shouldn't force the issue, or get very proactive about changing it. This isn't just CommunityWiki, this is just about everywhere.


Define external redirect: HaveThatPattern CollectiveAction ShallowDisagreement CommunityProcess

EditNearLinks: DocumentMode VisitorRole GroupThink AgreeToDisagree