"You wouldn't recognise a fact if it bit you in the ass"; "eat your 'fucking' crow"; "[you are] an ignorant idiot"; "If you get testicle cancer or become a transsexual, then estrogen ... could enlarge and improve the mammary function of your breasts."; "are you a pedophile?"
"I'm sorry if that's considered a personal attack, but it's just true."
In the impersonal, detached Colosseum that is Wikipedia, people find it much easier to put their thumbs down. As such, many people active in the Wikimedia movement have witnessed a precipitous decline in civil discourse. This is far from a new trend, yet many people would agree that it all seemed somehow worse in 2012.
On the English Wikipedia, this is most often witnessed on the administrators' noticeboards, but the decline was perhaps most visible in the featured article process, where the various talk pages were disrupted with personal disputes, sockpuppetry, and gladiatorial nastiness. These attitudes have been increasingly evident in many corners of our encyclopedia.
Some people have talked of a new-year détente between the warring parties. While this could result in greatly reduced tension—assuming everyone involved agreed, which they have not—new disputes arise every day; détente alone will not solve the problem. Yet there is still resistance from editors: for example, there is a certain attitude that the quality of Wikipedia is low, and editors need to be kicked into improving it with harsh language.
Those attitudes should be rejected. Have we not tried that for the last several years? Do any editors believe it has worked? We have to come together and improve the health of our community. Even Rome eventually found that gladiatorial fights were detrimental to their society.
Wikipedia is what we, the community, make of it.
Take it upon yourself in this new year to make it a better place.
The Signpost's volunteers wish all of our readers a Happy New Year. We hope 2013 brings everything you wish of it.