Help:Finding the Question in a Conflict

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Start at Problems with Members.

The Mentor Intervention Request form (and the Mediation Request Form for escalated conflicts) require the URL of a WikiTree help page, style page, or G2G question that directly addresses the issue.

If you can't easily find an existing page you'll need to ask a new G2G question. Here's more information on the policy and help on what to ask.


Why a Public Page is Required

The entire Conflict Escalation Procedure, right up until account termination, is about resolving a mistake or misunderstanding. It's not about assigning blame.

During the process we assume that all mistakes are unintentional and that all conflicts are based on misunderstandings. We believe that if we can isolate a question about a WikiTree issue or policy, or about how it should be applied, we can find the source of the misunderstanding and, usually, resolve it.

If there is no misunderstanding — if the relevant WikiTree rules and their proper application are clear to all parties — the process is designed to help the member recognize this. If they can admit, at least to themselves, that they are intentionally violating the community's rules because they don't like them, they may decide that they don't want to participate in our community. Having someone leave voluntarily is much better than us asking them to leave.

Moreover, we view conflicts as opportunities to improve WikiTree. Many conflicts start because a WikiTree policy, rule, or system is genuinely unclear or confusing. We all know WikiTree is complex. Finding the source of the confusion and publicly discussing it may be the only way to prevent similar conflicts in the future. We may need to write a new help page or develop a new style rule.

If mentoring or mediation brings up questions that haven't been asked before, we want them discussed in a public forum, not private conversations. All community members should have a voice in the development of WikiTree policies. And once a policy is set, we want a public record of how it was developed. This way in future conflicts we can show that WikiTree rules are not arbitrary. They are developed through open community discussions in order to solve real problems.

Ask About WikiTree Policy and Procedure

The question should not be about the conflict itself. Don't mention the individuals involved or, if possible, even that there is a disagreement. Just focus on the issue that needs clarification.

Aim to find a question about WikiTree policy, or how to apply it.

In some cases, especially when the disagreement is about particular sources or content, you do need to include a link to a profile and mention some details. You can still avoid mentioning that there is any tension related to the question.

In many cases the issue will have come up on G2G in the past and you won't need to create a new question.

Finding a Question Buried in a Conflict

Finding the question can be a challenge. Tensions may have risen so much that the root of the disagreement is completely buried.

If you're mentoring or mediating, you might try to ask both parties, separately, something like this: "What do you think is the root of the disagreement? Where do you think the first mistake was made, or where did the misunderstanding start?"

One or both parties may point to something that the other did wrong.

If you agree that a mistake was made, politely point to the section of the Honor Code, the help page, style page, or G2G question that clearly explains why it was a mistake. If you can't find the page with the clear explanation, you've found your question.

For example, if you can't find a clearly-written rule, you might ask in G2G:

  • Do we need a style rule on X?
  • Is there a WikiTree help page that explains Y?
  • How does a member know whether Z is appropriate on WikiTree?

This also works if you don't agree that a mistake was made. If you can't point to a help page, style page, or G2G question that clearly explains why what the person did was appropriate, the question should be asked.

If You Still Can't Find the Question

Sometimes when you dig in, all you find is a communication problem. One party said something that wasn't carefully worded. The other party interpreted it very harshly and said harsh words in return, etc.

If you go back and forth politely, innocently trying to find the root of the disagreement, the parties will usually agree that it was just a misunderstanding.

You can only go back and forth so much. Nobody expects you to be a therapist. If one or both parties won't admit that they were being discourteous the conflict may need to escalate to the final stages and ultimately may involve account termination.

For the forms, you could ask a question about practical courtesy. We have points in the Honor Code about assuming good intentions (III) and being courteous (IV) but these rules are hard to apply in practice. For example:

  • How far does a member have to go in assuming good intentions?
  • Are WikiTree members allowed to be rude to each other?
  • Is it necessary for one party to apologize if there was a misunderstanding?

Again, there is no need to ask a question that's already been asked. You can use any G2G question that fits the case.

How to Post the Question in G2G

After isolating the question, ask it in G2G.

If the question has already been asked, G2G will show it as a suggested match. If an existing question addresses the exact issue, you don't need to ask it again. However, if the existing question seems at all different, ask the new question. We want to make sure that no parties can claim that a question or its answer doesn't apply to their situation.

You may feel embarrassed to be asking the question. It may seem silly or obvious, and you wouldn't think it would have to be explicitly asked and answered. If so, just make clear that it's not coming from you.

For example, you might ask "Should Martians have WikiTree profiles?" and then in the description explain that the question has come up among some members whether extraterrestrials belong on WikiTree, and if not, what rule or policy applies. (Believe it or not, this is why it now says on Help:Person Profile that profiles are only for human beings who were born on Earth.)

Tag the question with mentors and project_leaders if you're worried that it may not be seen by the right people.

You will be doing the entire community a service by helping to get this question asked and answered. Once it is, it will be clear to everyone in the future that the community has come to a conclusion on the issue, and others won't need to fight about it.

This page was last modified 17:41, 30 September 2021. This page has been accessed 1,985 times.