Wikipedia:Don't object to proposals

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Proposals are new rules that one or more people want to be made into policies or guidelines. They happen all the time; indeed there are several going on right now. And this is a good thing – after all, if the rules didn't change every other week, it would take all the fun out of hassling people who don't follow them. So if you've got a new idea for a policy or guideline that would benefit the project, by all means go ahead and propose it. In fact, even if it doesn't benefit the project, propose it anyway; you never know. (Unless it's a perennial proposal, in which case everyone will just laugh at you and say what a fool you are for not having read that page first).


Don't object to any of these.

It's when you decide to comment on an existing proposal that there's a catch. Obviously commenting on proposals is a necessity, as it's the only way that the proposal will gain consensus (or at least the illusion thereof). However, it is also essential to bear in mind that proposals are made by people – and the successful ones are, by definition, supported by more (or at least more influential) people. If you happen to agree unreservedly with a proposal, stating this fact is a good idea, as it increases the chance that the proposal will eventually be accepted. This will reflect favourably on you among others who agree with it – which, if it's a good proposal, should be a fair few people. Similarly, suggestions for improvement or extension of the proposal are likely to be largely welcomed, provided that they strengthen the proposal rather than weakening it. Who wouldn't want to see their idea reinforced even more strongly than they thought they could get away with? Unbelievably bad proposals are also easily dealt with; your claim that the proposal is rubbish is unlikely to be an issue if everyone else is saying the same thing.

The problem comes when you agree with the general intention of a proposal – often because it is an extension of an existing policy – but have issues with its implementation. It might not necessarily be a particularly significant issue; it may be a matter of rewording or clarification. Alternatively, it may require some thought and possibly a rewrite of several sections. Most problematic of all, it may be too strongly worded – innocently, of course – and open to abuse should it be accepted. Necessary corrective action might alter the proposal to the extent that it wouldn't really be needed at all – perhaps a minor tweak to an existing policy would suffice, perhaps even that would be unnecessary. So, should you raise the issue? While doing so may – at least from your viewpoint – ensure that things run "properly" and avoid drama later on, these can be coincidental concerns (after all, practise and policy frequently fail to align). More problematic can be the reaction to your interruption. Even if there are others who agree with you, your reluctance to accept the proposal as presented is unlikely to go down well with its supporters, whose desires are quashed by any reduction in the flexibility that it might grant. You may feel more than capable of getting over the odd grudge, of course, but by objecting to a proposal you can raise a much wider problem.

Those in favour of the proposal can present your dislike for it as contempt for the underlying policies. If they're good enough, they can turn your feelings full circle and give the impression that you actively oppose the existing policy. The very best can present your comments as actively advocating violation of that policy – and they can do it in such a way that those not familiar with or neutral to the debate will come to view that as your position, often regardless of what you say in return. Thus you have earned the distrust of not only the proposal's supporters but a much wider group of people, and this can prevent (or at least seriously impede) any attempts on your part to attain a position of trust – even though your conduct and adherence to policy (both declared and in practise) may be firm.

So, if a proposal has a significant level of support, don't object to it. Not even if you actually agree with the spirit, but have spotted issues with the wording. Especially if fixing those issues would make the proposal weaker than its supporters had hoped. Go about your business, keep any complaints to yourself, and follow any new rules you have to follow. That way, you won't lose face, make enemies, and possibly set yourself up for problems later on. Remember, good faith or not, if you don't say anything, no assumptions need to be made. Unless you don't mind a lack of trust, and are willing to ignore – or at least accept the consequences of – the resentment that will accumulate over time. In which case, go ahead; someone has to do it.

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