User:Ash/Passive aggressive

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Passive aggressive editing on Wikipedia is an argumentative tactic used on talk pages, where a contributor repeatedly makes uncivil or impolite accusations against other editors and yet claims to be a victim of attack when there are replies.

Understanding their behaviour[edit]

There are a range of reasons for an editor to behave in this way, common suggestions are:

  1. Looking for attention through argument
  2. Redirected rage
  3. Social incompetence (see Wikipedia:Competence is required)

On talk-pages, never respond, with a statement about the apparently passive-aggressive editor's motivation. Guessing the motivation of other editors may be interpreted as uncivil behaviour on your part; however, summarizing the situation, the nature of their edits to date and the disruptive impact they are having is factual and may be a suitable response.


The most-frequently recommended way of dealing with passive aggressive behaviour is to follow m:Troll and ignore the accusations, unless the accuser is prepared to follow a dispute resolution process.

As a rule of thumb, the following approach may be helpful:

  • At no point, make any accusations back, and avoid giving advice (this tends to result in accusations of wikifinagling).
  • Avoid being trapped into defending yourself; asking for clarifications should be enough. For example "Why are you bullying me???" can be responded to neutrally by asking "Could you please clarify which of my edits you feel are bullying? Giving links to diffs would help me understand your complaint." Otherwise, defending yourself might seem to be implying others have lied, as an attack on them.
  • If the accuser just repeats the accusations, do not repeat any of your responses, point out (once) that they are stuck in a loop.
  • Either ignore them completely or take a wikibreak from that discussion for a day or a week between replies. Frequently someone else will step in and comment if you give enough time.
  • If you believe the accusations are too serious to ignore, then follow a standard WP:DR process and do not get drawn into argument.

Dispute resolution[edit]

In any dispute resolution process, you are advised to state your case clearly, using diffs as appropriate as evidence. Avoid quickly responding to any criticism, you may be better off leaving your statement for 24 hours. In that time, another editor may have added a completely different opinion, such as implicitly defending your views, or perhaps shifting the focus toward a more critical issue. There is usually time, later, to insert any concise defence-remarks, which typically get no objections because the focus has shifted to other issues by the time final remarks are inserted as needed.

Of the options available, WP:WQA may be of limited use. No action can be taken; however, the accuser may give up, after being told by enough people that they are doing something wrong. If your history of responses has not been exemplary, WQA will tend to give advice to you as well. Apart from cases of blatant attack, WP:ANI will probably go nowhere if you have not tried at least one of the other dispute-resolution processes first.

See also[edit]