Wikipedia:Don't bludgeon the process

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Bludgeon: To beat powerfully with force with an object of great mass.

Bludgeoning the process is where someone attempts to force their point of view by the sheer volume of comments, such as contradicting every viewpoint that is different from their own. This can happen on a talk page, deletion discussion or in any discussion at Wikipedia. It is undesirable. If pushed too far, it may be considered a form of disruptive editing.

The act[edit]

These men are hammering in a pipe using a lump hammer. Great for civil engineering; bad for processes on Wikipedia. See the difference?

Bludgeoning is when a user dominates the conversation in order to persuade others to their point of view. It is typically seen at Articles for Deletion, Request for Comment, WP:ANI, an article talk page or even another user's talk page. Typically, the person replies to every single "!vote" or comment, arguing against that particular person's point of view. The person attempts to pick apart each argument with the goal of getting each person to change their "!vote". They always have to have the last word, and normally will ignore any evidence that is counter to their point of view. It is most common with someone who feels they have a stake in the outcome, or feels they own the particular article or subject matter. While they may have some very valid points, they get lost due to the dominant behavior and others are less likely to consider their viewpoints because of their behavior.

Everyone gets to participate in discussions[edit]

Discussion is an important part of how consensus is reached at Wikipedia, and everyone should have the opportunity to express their views, within reasonable limits. Sometimes a long comment, or replying multiple times to answer questions or concerns within a conversation is perfectly acceptable. When someone takes persistence to a level that overwhelms or intimidates others, or limits others' ability to interject their opinions without worrying about being verbally attacked, then this activity has risen to a level of abuse. This can be considered an act of bad faith as the purpose is to win at any cost.

Appropriately marking !votes with {{spa}} should not be considered an abuse of the AfD process, even if such !votes are numerous, assuming they are accurate. Replying to many questions that are directed to you is perfectly normal. Repeating a single point for a second time is usually fine when appropriate or if you feel you didn't communicate it well the first time. These are not bludgeoning.

Dealing with being accused of bludgeoning the process[edit]

If you have been accused of bludgeoning the process, then take a look at the discussion and try to be objective before you reply. If many editors have replied but your comments take up 50% of the text, you are likely bludgeoning the process and should step back and let others express their opinions, as you have already made your points clear. If the idea of "losing" your particular AfD makes you angry, likely you are too involved and need to step back. Anyone can get too verbose and intense in a discussion. It happens. Back away, get a Third opinion or ask an uninvolved administrator for their opinion. Otherwise you may be subjecting yourself to disciplinary action.

Remember that the "winner" in a discussion isn't the person that talks the most, it is the person(s) who clearly and concisely express their reasoning and show why it is based on policy and guidelines. Here are some things you may want to consider:

  1. Each time you use an argument, it becomes weaker. Continuing to argue the same point doesn't reinforce it and can be annoying to others who have already considered your opinion.
  2. When you dominate a conversation by having multiple talk entries and address every other person's opinion, others may see you as attempting to "own" an article or the subject at hand. This is a type of fanboyism and reduces your credibility within the conversation. It is also very annoying and inconsiderate to others.
  3. It is not your responsibility to point out every flaw in everyone's comments. If their opinion is so obviously flawed, give other readers the benefit of the doubt in figuring that fact out on their own.
  4. You have the right to give your opinion and reasoning in any open discussion. You don't have the right to dominate the conversation in a way that prevents others from participating equally.

Improving your arguments in the future[edit]

Before you start any AfD or initiate any poll or other process, do your homework.

  1. Read up on the policy that governs the actions you are taking. Quote the policy in your reasoning.
  2. Expect others to disagree. Do not reply to every single opinion/!vote in the process. Wait a few days and perhaps add one comment at the bottom of the discussion that may address any or all of the concerns expressed by others.
  3. It is okay to answer one or two comments that are either quoting the wrong policy, or asking a question. It isn't okay to pick apart every single comment that is contrary to your position.
  4. Never reply to a comment right after you see it. Wait a bit, clear your thoughts, and make sure they are saying what you think they are saying. Often, someone else will reply back and correct an error or offer some insight that is new to you. Give other editors enough time to agree with you.
  5. You don't always win in a discussion, and the point of the discussion isn't to find a winner or loser. It is to find consensus. Everyone finds themselves on the other side of consensus every now and then. Accept it and move on.

If you can't step back...[edit]

Some people may not be able to pull back and have only an equal say in a discussion. This is particularly true with topics that have a history of heated debate, such as religion, politics or nationality. If you find it is difficult to participate in heated debates without dominating the conversation or by adding a dozen comments, then perhaps you should avoid them altogether and find other ways to contribute to Wikipedia.

See also[edit]