Wikipedia:Don't cry wolf
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors on Wikipedia:Behavioral policy. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This page in a nutshell: Do not make accusations of harassment or personal attacks lightly.|
An editor subject to criticism may feel harassed or attacked, but this does not mean that there has been actual harassment. Instead of crying wolf in such situations, try assuming good faith. If there is a nugget of truth in the criticism, counterclaims of harassment will look like evasion and a lack of a collaborative spirit, and may thus escalate the dispute. Furthermore, unsubstantiated claims of harassment make it harder for people who suffer real harassment to get assistance.
Legitimate criticism can be distinguished from harassment because it:
- Contains diffs or other evidence.
- Enjoys at least some support from uninvolved editors.
- Aims to improve the encyclopedia.
- Provides advice that the subject can use for improvement.
Harassment often includes some of the following elements:
- Character attacks, ad hominem arguments, or logical fallacies.
- Vague accusations, unsupported by evidence.
- Lacks support from uninvolved editors.
- Includes shrill rhetoric instead of logical arguments.
If you are the subject of criticism that seems unfair, ask for specific evidence. If arguments are heated, ask the other editors to refactor for improved civility. Recourse to established dispute resolution mechanisms may also help.
When criticizing another editor, be sure to focus on behavior and provide specific evidence. If the subject of criticism complains of harassment, consider backing off or using formal dispute resolution processes.