Andrew Famiglietti on the the Neutral Point of View's Effect on the Moral Economy of Wikipedia

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"The Neutral Point of View (NPoV) is one of Wikipedia's most fundamental policies. However, simple understandings of the NPoC bely the almost baroque complexities of the current Wikipedia policy page that documents it, which runs some dozen pages. More importantly, it overlooks the myriad negotiations that Wikipedia editors undergo as they attempt to interpret the policy and apply it to their daily practices of production. This presentation will focus on the interpretations of the NPoV that accompanied the production of the politically contentious Wikipedia article documenting Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip in the winter of 2008/2009. I will show how these negotiations reveal what I have dubbed, following E.P. Thompson, the “Moral Economy” of Wikipedia. Like the English peasants described by Thompson, Wikipedia editors are guided by a moral sense of what is and is not a legitimate intervention in their productive process. This Moral Economy shapes the contours of political possibility on Wikipedia, both enabling and restricting resistance to currently dominant economic, social, and political formations."