Wikipedia:You must feed the trolls
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
Any user who deliberately attempts to damage Wikipedia is a vandal. A vandal who intentionally makes non-constructive edits with the goal of provoking an angry reaction from other users is a troll. It is generally best to deny recognition to all such ill-intentioned individuals. It can be difficult to determine, though, whether a particular non-constructive edit is deliberate, or whether a deliberately non-constructive edit is intended to provoke anger. Many edits that appear to be inappropriate are actually well intended. Some apparent trolls are actually inappropriate attempts to prove a point or to challenge Wikipedia policy.
Unless there is clear evidence that a particular user or a particular edit is ill-intended, however, Wikipedia users are expected to assume good faith. Given the difficulty in determining intention, it is necessary to engage with other editors over points of dispute and to reach a consensus. Unfortunately, this sometimes means giving ill-intentioned editors the attention that they seek.
In short, sometimes you must feed the trolls until you can ascertain their intentions.
- This does not mean that inappropriate edits must be accepted. Changes may be reverted and discussed if there is question about their appropriateness. In difficult cases dispute resolution mechanisms exist to help editors reach a consensus on controversial issues. In the worst cases, persistent vandals may be blocked from editing for a time to protect pages from damage.