Policies and guidelines

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Gonzalo A. Romero, M.D.[2]

WikiDoc consensus has been reached through revision of multiple sources in order to keep consistency of good quality product. There is disagreement between those who believe rules should be stated explicitly, and those who believe that written rules are inadequate to cover every variation of problematic editing or behavior. In either case, a user who acts against the spirit of our written policies may be reprimanded, even if technically no rule has been violated. Those who edit in good faith, are civil, seek consensus, and work towards the goal of creating a great living textbook should find a welcoming environment.



Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard that all users should follow. Editors should be careful that any change they make to a policy page reflects consensus.

Neutral point of view is a fundamental Wiki principle and a non-negotiable policy. Other content policies are Veriafiability and No original research. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in WikiDoc articles. Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three. The principles upon which these policies are based are non-negotiable, and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus. Their policy pages may be edited only to improve the application and explanation of the principles.


Guidelines are more advisory in nature than policies, and should be treated with common sense and the occasional exception. Amendments to a guideline should be discussed on its talk page, although it is generally acceptable to edit a guideline to improve it. Disputes over the wording of a guideline are resolved by considering and discussing objections and counter-proposals and coming to agreement, often using compromise language; such a dispute does not "suspend" the guideline or "turn it into" something other than a guideline. People are sometimes tempted to call a vote on a guideline, but this is a bad idea because it polarizes the issue.



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Manual of Style

A naming convention or manual of style is a specific kind of guideline, related to proper naming, or the way articles should be written. Note that guidelines are subcategorized merely for convenience, and that there is no practical difference between several "kinds" of guidelines.

  1. The codification of general practice that already has wide consensus. These are statements of practice that document the way Wikipedia works. A single user cannot dictate what best practice is, but writing down the results of a well-used process is a good way of making policy. The easiest way to change policy is to change common practice first.
  2. A policy adopted after having been proposed on a wiki page, without first being applied in practice.


Essays are pages reflecting the views of an editor or a group of editors. The term essay is used for many opinion pages that do not fall into the above categories. Essays are neither policies nor guidelines regardless of whether these represent a consensus. Essays need not be proposed or advertised; you can simply write them, as long as you understand that you do not necessarily speak for the entire community. If you do not want other people to reword your essay, put it in your user-space. Remember that consensus has primacy. Even if an essay does not reflect general consensus it may still convey the opinions or thoughts of a (large) group of editors. In such a case failure to follow its advice, or making unilateral changes to the essay, will place you in conflict with that group of editors. This might be a bad idea.

Due to the process by which wikipedia policies, guidelines and essays are written, some pages become mislabeled as essay at some points in time. The best way to avoid running into traps is to think for yourself and consider what the optimal outcome is for the encyclopedia

Process and Proposals

A process is a central and organized way of doing things, generally following certain policies or guidelines (e.g. the "deletion policy" tells us how the "deletion process" works).

A proposal is any suggested guideline, policy or process for which the status of consensus is not yet clear, as long as discussion is ongoing. Amendments to a proposal should be discussed on its talk page (not on a new page) but it generally is acceptable to edit a proposal to improve it. Proposals should be advertised to solicit feedback and to reach aconsensus. A proposal's status is not determined by counting votes. Polling is not a substitute for discussion, nor is a poll's numerical outcome tantamount to consensus.

  • A historical page includes any process which is no longer in use, or any non-recent log of any process. Historical pages can be revived by advertising them.
  • A rejected page is any proposal for which consensus for acceptance is not present after a reasonable time period, for which consensus is unclear after a reasonable time period for discussion regardless of whether there is active discussion or not, or where discussion has substantially died out without reaching consensus.
  • Consensus need not be fully opposed; if consensus is neutral on the issue and unlikely to improve, the proposal is likewise rejected. It is considered bad form to hide this fact, e.g. by removing the tag. Making small changes will not change this fact, nor will repetitive arguments. Generally it is wiser to rewrite a rejected proposal from scratch and start in a different direction.

Feature Requests

A feature request is anything that requires a change to the Wikipedia software. These should be filed on [3]. One should never assume the developers will implement something without asking them first. Thus, if you propose something that requires a feature request to work, discuss with the developers first before asking community opinion on an issue that may turn out to be moot.

WikiDoc Policies

How Are Policies Enforced? You are a WikiDoc editor. Individual users thus enforce most policies and guidelines by editing pages, and discussing matters with each other. Some policies, such asvandalism, are enforced by administrators by blocking users. In extreme cases the Arbitration Committee has the power to deal with highly disruptive situations, as part of the generaldispute resolution procedure.

Some features of the software which could potentially be misused, such as deleting pages and locking pages from editing, are restricted to administrators, who are experienced and trusted members of the community. See the administrators' reading list for further information.

Sources of WikiDoc Policies

WikiDoc Policies come from several sources:

  1. [Foundation Governance edtorial board]
  2. Wikipedia has developed a body of policies and guidelines that have helped to further our goal of creating a free living textbook of medicine. Declarations from [Wales], particularly for copyright, legal issues, or server load.
  3. [Commons Legal Code]

WikiDoc Commitment to Excellence Policy

As an Editor for WikiDoc, I acknowledge the following and agree to uphold the standards outlined below:

1. Acknowledgement of How Many People will be Judging the Quality of my Contributions

  • This site is viewed by many millions of people each year.
  • I understand that the quality of the content on the site is a direct reflection of my personal commitment to excellence.
  • I understand that my contributions reflect Dr. Gibson's commitment to quality.
  • If I fail to uphold the commitment to excellence, I may be asked to cease making further contribution.

2. Agreement to Not Violate Copyright Laws and to not Commit Plagiarism

  • I will not copy content from copyrighted materials.
  • I will not commit plagiarism.
  • I understand that I may be asked to resign should I violate copyright laws and / or commit plagiarism.

3. Commitment to Excellence

  • I understand that I am being evaluated based upon the quality of the content I am contributing.
  • I will spell check my content.
  • I will capitalize at the beginning of sentences and will place a period at the end of complete sentences.
  • I will perform a grammar check to assure that the content is well written.
  • I will commit to learning proper written English if English is my second language.
  • I understand that there is a template to organize the contents. I will follow the organizational format that has been developed.
  • I understand that it may be more work to correct my sloppy mistakes than it would be for an experienced editor to create the content de novo, and that I may be asked to cease making future contributions should my contributions be creating more work rather than is necessary.
  • I understand it is my responsibility to do the research necessary to write a chapter. I will commit to learning how to conduct a thorough literature review and learning proper citation of sources.

4. The WikiDoc Team Code of Conduct

  • I understand that WikiDoc is a team effort and that if I am disrespectful to other members of the team,
  • I may be asked to resign from the team.
  • I understand that my letter of recommendation will reflect my commitment to being respectful to other members of the team, and to being a "Team Player".
  • I understand that WikiDoc may at its sole discretion choose not to renew my appointment.
  • I understand that WikiDoc may also choose to rotate the responsibility for Associate Editor-In-Chief of a page.

WikiDoc Guidelines

WikiDoc Projects

WikiDoc General Guidelines on Creating Chapters and Microchapters

WikiProjects often have subpages that explain how that project works, or give best practices or recommendations for the articles within that project's scope. These documents may only represent a consensus of a small number of editors, and it is clear from their names that they are parts of projects. They fall outside the classification of policies or guidelines, though some eventually move out of projectspace and are designated guidelines after sufficient consensus has been reached.

"How to" or Help Pages

A how-to or help page is any instructive page that tells people how to do things. These will of course be edited by people who have suggestions on how to do things differently. A how-to differs from a guideline in that the former explains how to perform a certain action, and the latter explains when or why certain actions are recommended.

Other Essays and Discussions About WikiDoc

Internal Resources

External Resources