Not Therapy

Wikipedia is not Therapy. How the online encyclopedia manages mental illness and suicide threats in its volunteer community. medium

As with any significant population of individuals, a fraction will be experiencing a mental illness or disorder, which may help — or hinder — their ability to contribute to the encyclopedia. Since the website is built on written communication, distressed users can be difficult to identify. Unless they decide to self-report.

Buried deep in the site is an essay named ‘Wikipedia Is Not Therapy.’ It is not an official policy document or guideline; a banner at the top of the page notes that it may represent either a widespread norm or a minority viewpoint. page

The Wikimedia Foundation has a system in place to examine and respond to this type of on-Wiki behavior. Patrick Earley is a longtime editor who now works as a member of the seven-person support and safety team, which deals with “heavy duty” aspects of the editorial community’s overall health, including attempts to reduce the amount of harassment that occurs.

This emergency response system was established in 2010 by Philippe Beaudette, the former director of community advocacy who recently left the Foundation to work at Reddit. On his LinkedIn profile, Beaudette notes that during his seven years overseeing the various Wikimedia communities, he and his team responded to almost 500 threats of suicide and other imminent harm to people and property.