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When we were in kindergarten, one of the great places to build things, along with other children, was in the sandbox. We quickly learned that there were rules that those in the sandbox needed to follow so that everyone could have fun. If the rules weren't followed, then people were unhappy and little got done in the sandbox.
It is the same at MormonWiki.com. There are rules (policies) that this site expects to be followed. The policies are not perfect, but they are designed to allow the site to fulfill its mission, to support the mission of the More Good Foundation (the sponsor of this site), and to allow the members of the Foundation to utilize this site in the best way possible.
By nature, the policies are fluid. They won't be changed arbitrarily, but they may change over time. The policies are established by the staff of the Foundation, but are open to discussion by all Foundation members.
You don't need to read all these policies before you start editing at MormonWiki.com, but you'll probably have a better long-term experience if you become familiar with them.
- MormonWiki.com is a tool. It is not a publication, but designed as an incubator of content that can be used by Foundation members to create their own Web sites.
- Adopt a point of view. There is a point of view that should be used in all content created at MormonWiki.com. In general, content needs to be supportive of the Church and the faith claims of Mormonism.
- Respect copyrights. You can share your own content on MormonWiki.com, but don't share someone else's. More information is on our copyrights page.
- Use the content. The content on MormonWiki.com is designed to be used by others. You should feel free to do so, provided you use the content in accordance with our licensing policy.
How are policies decided?
MormonWiki.com policies are decided upon by the staff of the More Good Foundation. If you have input for the policies, make sure you communicate them to the Foundation. We encourage discussion on policy issues.
How are policies enforced?
Most policies are enforced by members of the More Good Foundation. Hopefully you are a member, and you can help with this enforcement. (If you are not a member, visit the Foundation's website and click on "Member Login" at the upper-right.)
Some policies are enforced by blocks placed on individual users. This level of enforcement is typically used only if an account is guilty of vandalism (repeatedly making pages worse instead of better) or not adhering to the site's point of view when writing or editing.
Collaborative environments, such as the one at MormonWiki.com, are designed so that people can easily add content and edit existing content. We want you to feel free to make changes to what you see at this site. We've made this as easy as possible; anyone can register at the site and start making changes.
You don't need to be a trained editor in order to make changes, nor do you need to devote massive amounts of time to making edits. MormonWiki.com is designed so that regardless of your skill level you can make as many or as few changes as you deem necessary. The idea is that as enough people make small improvements, an entire article or series of articles can be substantially improved over time.
So, the official editing policy of MormonWiki.com is this: make edits. Just do it, and in the process make the content better than it was when you arrived.
To assist you in making edits that really do make the content here better, we've created a style guide that you will want to take a look at. (It really is good.)
Breadth of Information
Unlike some other religious traditions, the Church has no systematic theology, believing instead in a non-static, dynamic faith that grows and changes as God reveals more information. This can present a challenge for writers and editors, because it means that some Church teachings have changed over time and will continue to change. It also means that there are many areas in which there is no official Church doctrine and where a variety of opinions—all equally compelling and equally non-binding—can be held by deeply religious Mormons.
Definition of Doctrine
The term doctrine can be rather ambiguous. In its broadest sense, a doctrine is synonymous with a teaching; in its strictest sense, not all teachings are doctrines. The question “what is doctrine” is actually open to debate among many LDS scholars and theologians.
Recognizing that there is no universal agreement on the definition of doctrine, a working definition of the term has been adopted by MormonWiki.com: official doctrine is contained within the four standard works of the Church (the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price). Official doctrine includes official statements of the First Presidency, such as the Proclamation to the World: The Family. Official doctrine does not include study aids added to the standard works, such as chapter headings, the topical guide, or the Bible dictionary.
Care should be taken that the term doctrine, when used in content at MormonWiki.com, does not convey the idea that some teaching has “official” status when it, in fact, does not. An example may help clarify this concept. Many Church members and leaders have taught over the years that Darwinian evolution is incorrect and not of God. This has led some to conclude that the Church’s official doctrine dismisses evolution. This is not true, as the Church has no official doctrine on evolution. There have been many Church leaders—including apostles—who have accepted and publicly stated that they accept evolution as a reality and as a part of God’s plan.
All that this means is that (1) the Church has no position and no doctrine on evolution and (2) faithful members can hold differing views related to the topic. These same two conclusions could be said about many issues besides evolution. Content at MormonWiki.com should be sensitive to the distinction between doctrines (which are “official”) and beliefs or teachings on which there may be disagreement.
Because Mormons do not have a systematic theology, there are many areas that are open to discussion and disagreement. This also means that there is literally no end to the number of topics that could be written about at MormonWiki.com. In selecting which topics to address, writers should always remember the intended audience for the content on this site. If the content would be of peripheral or passing interest to our audience, then it is probably not appropriate for MormonWiki.com.
It is not intended that the content at MormonWiki.com be apologetic in nature or polemic in tone. There is a proper place for such content, but it is not appropriate for our intended audience.
If content added to MormonWiki.com is not suitable for our intended audience, don't be surprised if it gets deleted. This site is not a venue for discussing every little nitpicky detail of Church history or doctrine. If you want to discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the ambient temperature of a celestialized body, or the precise day of the week when the First Vision occurred, this is not the place to do it.
If, however, you want to share with others why you think the gospel and the Church are important, why you think the doctrines of the Church are compelling, or why the Restoration is important, then you will find MormonWiki.com a great place to contribute.
If there is content within an article that you feel should be deleted, feel free to do so; that is part of collaboration. If you feel that an entire article should be deleted, then let a Foundation staff member know so that a decision can be made.
Relationship to the Church
The question invariably comes up as to how MormonWiki.com (and the More Good Foundation) is related to the Church. Here's the official statement:
- MormonWiki.com is not affiliated with or sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is no official connection between this site and the Church, but MormonWiki.com is supportive of the faith claims, mission, and efforts of the Church.
That being said, Church personnel are aware of the Foundation and the Foundation's mission. The official stance of the Church is that individuals should be engaged in a good cause, and that they should choose to become engaged in such causes without compulsion. We feel that the More Good Foundation is one such good cause, and we have never heard anything to the contrary from anyone in the Church. (Information on joining the More Good Foundation can be found at the Foundation's Web site.)
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the content available at MormonWiki.com should not be considered official statements or doctrine of the Church. See the section Breadth of Information for more information pertinent to this concept.