Wikipedia:Don't poke the bear

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Does he look like he wants to be poked?
Even the more harmless-looking variety might not appreciate being poked.

Bears are lovely creatures that often hibernate and are, for the most part, non-violent. However, when poked, bears can become quite angry. As such, it's always best not to poke the bear.

Examples of poking[edit]

  • Following editors to articles they are editing during an unrelated dispute
  • Adding wikibreak/retired tags to userpages of other users without their consent
  • Adding block templates to a blocked user's page or talk page if the blocking admin has not
  • Having been asked not to (or otherwise knowing it is unwelcome), continuing to post on a user's talk page
  • Fussing with another user's userspace
  • Nominating all articles created by a user you have a dispute with for deletion
  • Repeatedly informing others about past block(s) of a user you have a dispute with
  • Telling an editor "I don't know how many times I have to say this" after having said it only once and receiving a reasonable response
  • Suggesting an interaction ban over dispute with a new user, effectively topic-banning the established editor from their article niche
  • Addressing an editor you're not on particularly good terms with as "dude"
  • Implying an editor may have mental health problems with the patronizing assurance "There is no conspiracy here."
  • Telling an editor holding a minority position with conviction "Perhaps you're not suited to working on a collaborative editing project."
  • Supposing an editor who has irritated an Administrator is seeking "death by cop" or "suicide by Admin"
  • Suggesting to others that two editors in consensus over a point of contention with you are meatpuppets or sockpuppets
  • Commenting to others about a proven editor whom you don't like "Wikipedia is better off without [that user]." (or its equivalent: "[That user] is not here to help build the encyclopedia.")
  • Addressing an editor as "Friend", or offering them "friendly advice", when the opposite is meant
  • Dismissing a user's considered thoughts out-of-hand by calling them "a wall of text" (or equivalently: "too long; didn't read")

This metaphor could mean more than you intended[edit]

Be careful not to imply that a specific individual is a bear. In Russia "bear" may be a compliment, but elsewhere(OED) it can mean a rough or bad-mannered person and "like a bear with a sore head" means very irritable. Using "don't poke the bear" to hint that an editor is over-sensitive on a subject might not be true, and could be construed as a personal attack. You might also offend fellow editors if they think you are accusing them of "bear-baiting" – a bloodsport which involved setting dogs to attack a captive bear.(OED)

Analogous phrases[edit]

  • The Latin phrase Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus (the motto of Hogwarts) translates as "never tickle a sleeping dragon".

See also[edit]