Wikipedia:Linking to external harassment

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Wikipedia:No Personal Attacks and Wikipedia:Harassment apply to any kind of attack or harassment in any context, so linking to external attacks, privacy violations and other content that harasses any individual should be avoided. Wikipedia is a project to build an encyclopedia; and therefore we often provide references (links and otherwise) in talk space to discuss article changes, as supplemental material in the article itself for readers wishing to further educate themselves on a subject, and most importantly as sources for the claims in the article to provide the credibility needed to distinguish this as an encyclopedia from something else. Where this goal appears to conflict with our No Personal Attacks policy, sound editorial judgement should be applied to determine whether links are encyclopedic, and whether they're being included for encyclopedic reasons. Links that are included for unencyclopedic purposes should be removed.

In articles[edit]

On occasion, sites which are not normally given to attacks and harassment may, through lapse of judgement or an isolated dispute, publish problematic material. It is rarely necessary to remove such links, although deep links direct to the problematic material may well be refactored. Privacy violations are especially harmful.

Where an especially problematic link is encyclopedic content (e.g. in an article on someone whose notability includes harassing others), putting the link in plain text, e.g. <nowiki>http://www.unpleasant.example/</nowiki>, (rather than as a live link), or even just the domain name, e.g. unpleasant.example, is sometimes used as a workable compromise.

Discuss on the talk page; avoid edit-warring. Note removal of links on the talk page. Others will likely be working with the site to resolve issues. Always check discussion pages before adding or removing a potentially problematic link.

This can arguably be seen as problematic for Neutral point of view, so must be approached with care as a temporary measure. However, temporary absence of a link is rarely of paramount importance and edit warring is considered harmful. If a link is removed in good faith, the first step should be a calm and reasoned discussion on the relevant discussion page. The presence or absence of links in articles should be a matter of considered editorial judgement. It is important to assume good faith on all sides.

In debate[edit]

Wikipedia is a social space and works only because people from diverse backgrounds make a conscious effort to shelve their differences and work together. The assumption of good faith, no personal attacks and no harassment are an essential component of the functioning of the project. The fundamental rule in any social space is: don't be a dick, and fundamental to that guideline is that it applies to you more than to supposed behaviours by others.

Linking to external harassment, attacks, or to sites which routinely engage in such attacks is usually inappropriate, and should be done only after careful thought has been given to the likely effect on the victim.

Wikipedia allows for concerns to be raised in good faith. If you have a concern, see if it can be stated without the need to link to external harassment. Evidence in the form of diffs is likely to be much more compelling. Be careful not to give the impression of furthering or enabling an external campaign of harassment. If you are unsure, ask first about the likely reception of the link you have in mind.

In serious cases, e.g. of suspected administrator abuse, email the Arbitration Committee directly (arbcom-l@wikipedia.org) rather than risk unproductive drama on the admin noticeboards.

Advocacy by banned users in offsite forums is almost always unwelcome. If you consider a banned user has reformed, or is making sound points and should be allowed to resume contributing to Wikipedia debate, please contact the Arbitration Committee for details on how to appeal the ban.

Links added by ban or block evading sockpuppets or through anonymous open proxies such as Tor are liable to be removed and should not be reinstated. If you consider them of genuine encyclopedic value to article space, you are welcome to present the argument yourself, with support from reliable independent sources. It is wise to achieve consensus on the discussion page beforehand.

Harassment on external websites[edit]

The best thing to do with harassment found on external websites is to ignore it. These kinds of behaviour are aimed at gathering attention, and when controversy, edit warring and interpersonal conflict erupts on Wikipedia as a result, the harassers often feel triumphant and motivated to continue. This can be understandably difficult if they try to troll people on the site with it.

Key guideline points[edit]

  • No encyclopedic value – Do not add external links of no value to the encyclopedia.
  • Sites that routinely harass – Wikipedia strongly discourages any links to web sites that routinely harass, due to potential of the material on the site, taken as a whole, to cause distress.
  • Sites not routinely harassing – Web sites that do not routinely harass have in the past become engaged in an isolated or specific dispute with a Wikipedia editor. It is not normally necessary to remove such links. Removing links to the official website of an article subject due to side-effects of a single dispute is rarely necessary and may be unwise. Consider whether removal may draw more attention than calm discussion.
  • Sourcing policy – Sourcing is important. If you feel the need to unlink a web page cited as a source, try first of all to find a better source for the content, or to cite it directly from an original print publication. Note that self-published websites and blogs are generally not considered reliable sources other than for uncontentious facts directly about the subject, or for their own existence. Since sites which routinely engage in harassment typically fall under that category, we would rarely consider them to be reliable anyway.
  • Wikipedia is not a battleground – Do not engage in edit wars. If someone is repeatedly removing or adding a link, follow the steps provided in Dispute Resolution. Further options are detailed below.
  • Good faith – Try not to fight over links added or removed in good faith, especially if such links do not directly contain malicious harassment or privacy violations. Raising good faith concerns based on information found within an external link is not harassment. Pressing the point in the face of repeated requests to stop may be interpreted as disruption.
  • Err on the side of caution – If a link could violate this guideline, consider not adding it, or seek the advice of your peers on the talk page of the relevant article. Reflect on the value to an encyclopedia of any link.

Management of problem links[edit]

The usual model for addition of content is bold, revert, discuss. The last is particularly important. While discussion about a link or its contents is still active, continuing to add or remove the link may be considered disruptive. Allow sufficient time for consensus to become evident, remembering differences in time zones.

Link assessment table[edit]

The following table may help in determining the suitability of any external link:

Criteria Reliability Notability Violation of privacy Frequency Intention
Links to include Highly reliable Highly notable Completely respectful of privacy Isolated event Good-faith critique
Links to exclude Unreliable Non-notable Extreme privacy violation Systematic campaign Deliberate harassment
Relevant authorities WP:RS and WP:SPS WP:NOTABILITY and WP:EL WP:BLP and WP:NPA WP:HARASS and WP:CIVIL WP:HARASS and WP:NPA

This table is not intended as a "point system", its aim is to act as a guide to your decision making in posting, or removing a link. In general, reliable sources should always be linked when needed for use as a source in an article. Websites maintained by notable people or groups should be linked in their article, per WP:EL, though linking to them from other articles may not be appropriate. If a website is in itself notable enough to have its own article, it should be linked from that article.

If you feel you are being harassed[edit]

Wikipedia cannot regulate behavior in media not under its control, however if an external link which contains information violating your privacy or which calls for your malicious harassment is added to Wikipedia, you should bring this to the attention of Wikipedia administrators as soon as possible.

  • The quickest way to do so is by explaining your situation at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents; however, this is a highly public forum and you could inadvertently bring unwanted attention to the link by reporting your concern publicly on Wikipedia.
  • A better option may be to directly email an administrator you trust, via the link on their user page. This ensures greater discretion. A list of administrators can be found here.
  • A further option is to directly email the oversight members at requests for oversight who can remove the links so they will not still appear in a page history.

A spam blacklist exists both for Wikipedia and for all projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. Blacklisting is normally only considered for sites which are being spammed, but in some cases the blacklist has been used to prevent serial abuse.

See also[edit]