Thursday, September 11, 2008

When good people disagree

A few words for people who wonder what makes me tick. This comes from an old quote in the Wikipedia Signpost:
With respect for the editors who’ve contributed these pages, it’s always been my belief that ethical decisions where good people disagree should be placed in the hands of the people who live with the consequences. No one could have more at stake in this request than these articles’ subjects.
That was my explanation for why I nominated Daniel Brandt's biography for deletion in June 2007, and it's a reasoning that drives a lot of my actions. I'm not big on paternalism.

Within the realm of reasonable choices, I look to the individuals who are most affected by the outcome. And as long as I saw a reasonable aspects to Mr. Brandt's position, I honored it. (Regular readers of this blog know why and when I changed my mind in his instance). I've also nominated several other living people's biographies for deletion on the same basis: can we make do without it, and does the subject want it gone?

That reasoning guides my actions in a lot of situations. And when editors come to me with a personal security concern I take that seriously. Most of all, when the concern is credible, I take that person's choices seriously. That individual knows their own life situation far better than I ever will and if there's a mistake to be made it ought to be their own as long as it doesn't hurt anyone but themselves. I won't cross the line of law or ethics in order to honor their wishes, but if the thing they choose to do falls within the realm of reason I won't presume to take the decision out of their hands. I may offer advice if they're willing to listen.

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