Wikipedia:Don't throw your toys out of the pram

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A pram. Notice the lack of toys scattered around it, indicating that the Wikipedian here understood why their article was speedy deleted and is now away from the pram reading up on notability and verifiability.

Babies and small children in prams have a tendency to throw a temper tantrum when they don't get their own way, throwing all their toys that were in the pram out onto the floor in the process. By extension, the British phrase "to throw one's toys out of the pram" is used when we see similar behaviour in adults. It's not acceptable, although understandable, for toddlers to do this, but on Wikipedia we see exactly the same thing happening in grown-ups from time to time.

Wikipedia is free for anyone to edit. But because it's an encyclopedia, it's not acceptable for anyone to edit everything about anything. There are a number of really, really bad ideas for things to do, that can result in that nice article about your pet rabbit getting speedy deleted,[1] or facing a block for edit warring, even though "they" were totally wrong and "you" were totally right.

The Riot Police are out in full force, but it's safe to say that whatever they do, blocking someone for violating the three revert rule on Wikipedia isn't on their agenda.

If this sort of thing happens to you, you might be confused, upset or angry. It's a perfectly natural human emotion to have when somebody's trashed your efforts. But it's really important that you act calmly and with civility and don't throw your toys out of the pram. Exactly how you respond to conflict is just as important as what the conflict is to determine what happens next, and a quiet and polite response to something works so much better than an angry, ranting one.

Yet it's surprising how many times on the Administrators' Noticeboard, we see complaints about someone's civility that somehow completely miss the point that it's how they're handling a complaint that's the problem, but still bang on like a broken record about the content, seemingly under the impression that strong words and tempers have nothing to do with it.[2] Or, we see Wikipedians with the impression that administrators are somehow "the man" that it needs to be stuck to, in order that they get knocked down a peg or two. While we do see the odd bona fide complaint about admins, most of the time they're just volunteers with experience in Wikipedia policy and process, doing a thankless task and trying to keep the Wikiwheels turning. Shouting at them angrily probably isn't the best way to get them on your side.

Examples[edit]

An axe grinder, yesterday. Wikipedians should generally strive not to emulate this.

Most cases of throwing your toys out of the pram involve some sort of appeal to emotion - words like "censorship", "bullying", "vendetta" and "busybodies" all relate to somebody's opinion of who they are, rather than what they have done. Some typical ways we see this happening are as follows:

What the issue is What the toy-thrower says
Blocked for edit warring This is evil censorship and bullying. I am right and they are wrong. You cannot allow lies and slander to appear on Wikipedia articles!
Article is nominated for deletion This is censorship. This article is about a very important person, clearly 'x' (where x nominated the article for deletion) has never heard of them, doesn't like me and is pursuing a vendetta!
Article has {{citation needed}} tags placed on it This is pure vandalism – nobody can read the article without these sad and pathetic busybodies graffitiing their self-importance all over the place!
This little Wikipedia user is upset, because somebody reverted her edit and told her that her diary was an unreliable source. Hopefully she won't throw a temper tantrum over it.

... and especially, especially, comparisons to Hitler[3] or legal threats. And for goodness sake, whatever you do, do not under any circumstances climb the Reichstag building dressed as Spiderman to draw attention to yourself. You will just annoy people and probably get thrown off the Reichstag.


A special case of toy-throwing results from when you encounter somebody overreacting in an uncivil manner. Just because they threw their toys out of the pram, that doesn't mean you have to throw yours. If somebody reverts your edit to Iran-Iraq relations and calls you a racist in the process, don't call them a racist back. Two wrongs don't make a right, especially when they both result in the distribution of toys on the floor. And, especially, don't go to the Administrator's Noticeboard complaining about toy-throwing when you've done a bit of it yourself, because you will get called up for it and told off as well.[4]

You may even be so aggravated and upset, than you're tempted to go for the ultimate toy-throwing exercise of retiring from Wikipedia. But be absolutely sure you want to do this – retiring is supposed to be forever, and if you change your mind later on, you'll be accused of being a professional toy thrower. Especially if "later" is within 3 days.

Throwing your toys out of the pram in response to something is never successful. It does not work. To successfully appeal against a decision, you need to focus on what has been done and where it does or doesn't fit into Wikipedia policies. Don't let your emotions get the better of you.

See also[edit]

References[edit]