Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" really means

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See anything missing from the image on WP:CONSENSUS? Yeah. Ignore all rules.

Ignore all rules is not intended to hijack the rules and make them meaningless or imply they are useless, but despite this, neither can it be in any way construed as support for strict adherence to Wikipedia policies and guidelines even if that hurts Wikipedia. In other words, Wikipedia is not Anarchy and Wikipedia is not a battleground, but ignore all rules may not itself be ignored or diminished because Wikipedia is not a democracy and Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Ignore all rules is designed to give individual editors the freedom to make appropriate edits when the existence of rules themselves hijack the wiki process.

Flowcharts, such as the one on Wikipedia:Consensus are insufficient at capturing when and how ignore all rules should apply (for a suggested model, however, see image right), since it may be invoked at any point in the wiki process, and for a diverse variety of reasons, some possibly yet unknown. In general, flowcharts are limited in describing the wiki process and they should not be relied upon heavily, because they make the false assumption that users are static components of a predictable, pre-planned system, much like cells of an organism. However, this social darwinism and social engineering is pseudoscience, because planners of such a system (those involved in the creation of policies) are themselves a part of the system, and human beings are far too complex and dynamic to have their behavior fully captured by such an algorithm. It is precisely because of this uncertainty that ignore all rules exists: to fill the gap when the algorithm potentially fails, similar to civil disobedience and the right of revolt when there is tyranny or chaos, due to the lack of the rule of law.

Rules do not derive their authority from the past or present community, because that is in direct contradiction to WP:DEMOCRACY and WP:BUREAUCRACY. Consensus is spatially global (across all articles on Wikipedia, including all editors), but it is also temporally global (across all time), since consensus can always change. With these assumptions in mind, the "community" is not just the group of editors on Wikipedia right now, but also the people out there in the world who haven't yet heard of Wikipedia or haven't signed up yet, but will, in the future.

Rather than deriving their authority from appeals to tradition or bureaucratic collectivism, rules derive their authority from the extent at which they help Wikipedia further the goal of creating a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. When rules themselves stand in the way of that goal, they should be ignored.

There are essentially two ways in which you can ignore the rules:

  1. Meek ignoring – Meek ignoring involves an editor (generally a new user) ignoring rules in a very small way, which is pretty easy to do, easy to justify, and not likely to cause conflict.
  2. Bold ignoring – Bold ignoring involves an editor (generally an experienced user) ignoring rules possibly in a very large way which may be very risky, dangerous, difficult to justify, and may end up getting you blocked or banned.

Some Examples of Meekly Ignoring the Rules[edit]

  • New editors accidentally breaking rules they don't understand and not worrying too much about it.
  • Ignoring guidelines (or creating possible exceptions to policies), such as disregarding Wikipedia's Manual of Style

Some Examples of Boldly Ignoring the Rules[edit]

If I see [a contributor] is publishing shit, maybe by swearing or not making sense, I warn him ...the second time he turns on, I block him.

— Jimmy Wales in the Sydney Morning Herald

  • Experienced editors ignoring what large mobs (including administrators) falsely claim is "policy" or "consensus" and making rational, constructive edits that need to be made anyway.
  • Administrators who proactively block or ban vandals, spammers, trolls, and single-purpose accounts who may get away with their behavior through wikilawyering. (See rouge admin)
  • The formation of cabals and secret mailing lists, contrary to policy, in order to deal with systemic problems in the way that Wikipedia is run.

Despite the ability for you to boldly ignore the rules, it is a practical reality that boldly invoking ignore all rules may not necessarily be successful, even if you are in the right, and so it is a decision that should be thought through very carefully. In other words, not only should you consider whether your actions are just or appropriate, but you must consider what consequence your actions will actually have on Wikipedia. If it is likely your actions will get yourself blocked or banned, and not work towards any meaningful future consensus, it is not justifiable to boldly ignore the rules. Boldly ignoring the rules should be done very cautiously, thoughtfully, and with firm acceptance of full responsibility for one's actions, and the ability to fully account for those actions.