Wikipedia:Snowball clause

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Sometimes, the fate of the snowball may not be immediately obvious and predictable until it has actually been placed in the infernal conditions. This calls for an experiment to be conducted in full.
Hell. Note the lack of snowballs.
Hell (ninth circle): ironic snowball reservoir

The "snowball clause" is yet another way that editors are encouraged to exercise common sense and avoid pointy, bureaucratic behavior. The snowball clause states:

If an issue does not have a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted by a certain process, there's no need to run it through the entire process.

The snowball clause is designed to prevent editors from getting tangled up in long, mind-numbing, bureaucratic discussions over things that are foregone conclusions from the start. For example, if an article is speedily deleted for the wrong reason (not one of those listed in the criteria for speedy deletion), but doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving deletion through the normal article deletion process, there's no sense in resurrecting it and forcing everyone to go through the motions of deleting it yet again.

The snowball clause is not policy, and there are sometimes good reasons for pushing ahead against the flames anyway; well-aimed snowballs have, on rare occasions, made it through the inferno to reach their marks.[1] The clause should be seen as a polite request not to waste everyone's time.

What the snowball clause is not[edit]

An uphill battle is extremely difficult but potentially winnable. In cases of genuine contention in the Wikipedia community, it is best to settle the dispute through discussion and debate. This should not be done merely to assuage complaints that process wasn't followed, but to produce a correct outcome, which often requires that the full process be followed. Allowing a process to continue to its conclusion may allow for a more reasoned discourse, ensures that all arguments are fully examined, and maintains a sense of fairness. However, process for its own sake is not part of Wikipedia policy.

The snowball test[edit]

This test can be applied to an action only after it is performed, as the lack of snowballs in hell is not an absolute,[2][3][4] and is thus useful for learning from experience.

  • If an issue is run through some process and the resulting decision is unanimous, then it might have been a candidate for the snowball clause.
  • If an issue is "snowballed", and somebody later raises a reasonable objection, then it probably was not a good candidate for the snowball clause. Nevertheless, if the objection raised is unreasonable or contrary to policy, then the debate needs to be refocused, and editors may be advised to avoid disrupting Wikipedia to make a point.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Lucky Snowman (Dilbert comic strip 2003-07-05)
  2. ^ Snowballs in Hell, Physics News Graphics, reported by Schwegler et al., in Physical Review Letters, 13 March 2000 (American Institute of Physics)
  3. ^ David A. Paige, "Chance for snowballs in hell", Nature 369, 182 (19 May 1994); doi:10.1038/369182a0
  4. ^ Toynbee, Paget Jackson (1898). A dictionary of proper names and .... The Clarendon Press.