See Also: Writing and Editing for the JFA Wiki
This newly created wiki website already has lots of useful information, especially in providing talking points for replying to objections to animal rights and veganism. But a wiki takes an encyclopedic approach, which calls for articles on a wide range of related topics. For the JFA Wiki, this means topics that are germane to animal rights and vegan advocacy, as well as those useful for living vegan.
To be clear, we do not advocate for animal welfare measures but instead for an end to the exploitation of non-human animals.
In addition to presenting information directly pertinent to animal rights, we also present the environmental, nutritional, and human social justice aspects of veganism in hopes of providing additional incentive for people to become vegan. But we acknowledge that the case for animal rights and veganism does not depend on these considerations beyond showing that a vegan diet is adequate for good health.
How We Differ
For an example of how we differ from Wikipedia and other wikis, consider our article on chickens compared to Wikipedia's. Wikipedia provides general information that is well worth the read. But instead of trying to duplicate the information on Wikipedia, our article provides information on the aspects of chickens that is useful for advocacy. This includes summarized information on chicken sentience and cognition, the way we harm chickens, humane labels and certifications, nutritional information on chicken meat and eggs, and environmental harms associated with chicken production. As the site grows, it's likely that future articles will provide more-detailed information in each of these areas.
Think of the articles here as having appended to the title "(in the context of animal rights and veganism, especially for advocacy)." So the article Chickens could be thought of as "Chickens (in the context of animal rights and veganism, especially for advocacy)."
What We Are Not
The JFA Wiki is not:
- A home for opinion pieces, although this may be allowed later in a special section of the site
- A news website
- A recipe website
Use an informal academic tone in your writing. This is a bit vague, but you can review existing content on this site to get an idea of what this means.
- Scare quotes, because scare quotes convey cynicism, which (unlike skepticism) is a liability
- Overly emotional language
- Ultimatums (“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” — Ben Franklin)
- Criticism of those in the movement who advocate strategies and tactics with which we disagree (such criticism is sometimes justified, but it seems that plenty of energy is already being spent on such efforts)
- Questioning a person’s or organization’s motives, especially those in the movement, for questioning motives requires a higher standard of evidence than questioning their position on a topic
The following are prohibited:
- Ad hominem attacks
- Racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, ageist, ableist, or demeaning language
- Hate speech
- Anything with an assumption, implicit or explicit, that animals are here for human exploitation.
Point of View
We have adopted an objective point of view, similar to Wikipedia's neutral point of view, as explained below. An exception is that we are not neutral in our belief that it is morally wrong to unnecessarily harm animals.
Achieving the objective point of view means considering a variety of reliable sources and then presenting the information as fairly as possible without bias. Observe the following principles (adapted from Wikipedia) to achieve objectivity:
- Avoid stating opinions as facts. Opinions should be attributed in the text to particular sources—or where justified, described as widespread views, etc.
- Avoid stating validly contested assertions as facts. If different reliable sources make conflicting assertions about a matter, treat these assertions as opinions rather than facts and do not present them as direct statements.
- Avoid stating facts as opinions. Passages should not be worded in any way that makes facts appear to be contested.
- Present opinions and conflicting findings in a disinterested tone. Do not editorialize.
- Indicate the relative prominence of opposing views. Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views and that it does not give a false impression of parity or give undue weight to a particular view.
- Articles are generally written mostly in the third-person point of view.
- Second person can be acceptable when speaking directly to the reader, but should never be used in a tone of admonishment.
- The first-person plural we is acceptable:
- when referencing society as a whole, i.e. "we slaughter over 100 billion animals every year."
- when speaking for justiceforanimals.org, which is something only a moderator or editor should do, and only then in limited circumstances
- First-person singular should only be used:
The Chicago Manual of Style (17th Edition) is JFA's main style guide. The style decisions unique to JFA are addressed in our own Style Guide, which takes first priority.
Research and Sources
Seek to use the highest quality sources available. Primary sources are strongly preferred for factual data. For interpretations of highly technical research or other data, secondary sources from objective experts who are qualified to evaluate primary sources can be employed. One research study rarely provides positive proof of anything, so in some cases expert testimony can be more meaningful, not to mention more convincing.
Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias are considered tertiary sources and should not be used. They are still useful when researching because they can lead you to primary sources. If they lead you to a primary source, you should always ensure that you are truthfully representing the primary source by verifying the facts with the primary source directly. You should not rely on how a secondary or tertiary source presents the primary source.
Sources that have the best reputations for reliability, accuracy, and honesty are preferred.
Also, sources should seem credible to the target audience. For credibility with non-vegans, sources, to whatever extent possible and where appropriate, should not originate within the animal rights and vegan communities. Relying on experts in the animal rights and vegan movement is discouraged for establishing the veracity of positions widely doubted or not understood by those not in the movement.
For example, citing an organization named Animal Rights League, particularly for factual information, is not convincing to those who do not believe in animal rights, no matter how factual the information presented. Ideally, avoid citing any organization that is primarily (or whose name indicates it's primarily) an animal rights organization, an animal welfare organization, or a vegan organization.
Opposing View Sources
Sources friendly to opposing views can often be used to lend credence to a point. For example: “Even the National Dairy Association acknowledges…” The USDA, with its abundance of information (and as a friend of animal agriculture), is often a good source.
For any statement that supports animal rights and veganism, if a quality source for that statement cannot be found, or the statement cannot be supported with valid logic, the statement should not be used.
Supporting a Point
When making a point, it is important to find those sources that will result in the most convincing arguments, and to summarize finding in the most convincing manner, all without misrepresenting or exaggerating those sources. If there are sources or weak logic that try to contradict our argument, and such sources or weak logic are often cited, it is good to point out the weakness in those sources or logic.
If an argument commonly used by the animal rights and vegan movement is weak, as is sometimes the case (particularly in topics which involve health, the environment, or human social justice) we should not use that argument.
Do Not Plagiarize
Plagiarism is not acceptable. Using someone’s words without quotation marks is plagiarism even if you cite the source. An exception to the strict rule regarding quotations is when text is adapted from public-domain content. In that case, you should attribute the original source by including such wording as "Adapted from xxx."
Understand that you agree to irrevocably release anything you write for this site to the public domain. Every time you edit and save changes, you are provided with a notice to this effect.
You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource. Do not submit copyrighted work without permission.