Wikipedia talk:No angry mastodons

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Opposing view section[edit]

[I will do my best to cite the following, even if I have to go to a real library with real books, should citations become appropriate--TJ]

Books on popular psychology, and classes in intervention and anger management, stress the technique of restating the other party's point of view in neutral terms. Properly done, this reassures the other party that the doer is really listening and thinking about the issues, and is trying to have a useful confrontation (or even a rational discussion) rather than a destructive argument.

OTOH, arguing intimates have two large advantages:

  • A large investment (they are literally in bed with one another), and
  • The presence of body language and other non-verbal cues to help with their interpretation of each other.

The foregoing suggests these points:

  1. The neutral-restatement technique is worth learning. The good news is that it's not that hard.
  2. Given only written text, we must apply the technique with extreme delicacy and politeness, or what would be extreme in face-to-face conversation. This is an extension of e-mail etiquette: e-mailers who know each other can often read between the lines and avoid misunderstandings; strangers must be more formally polite and circumspect.

One good restatement technique is illustrated below. To use it, just

  1. Start with a polite introduction;
  2. Give the restatement;
  3. End with a request for feedback.

"Let me see if I understand your meaning. You think it saves money to wash dishes in the dishwasher because that uses less hot water to clean a batch of dishes than a person at a sink would use. Is that your point?"

The skill of neutral restatement is very close to the (absolutely necessary) skill of NPOV article-writing. Avoid loaded terms. Translate jargon into common language. Don't be afraid to ask. [Did I get this right?]

Mastering this technique helps to avoid some common mistakes. For instance, there is a very human tendency to construct straw man arguments for opinions one disagrees with. A notable example is feminism, which often gets characterized in negative terms by people who are not themselves feminists. Editors who hold opposing views can collaborate toward a balanced and neutral article by each contributing a good presentation for their own side, so long as neither constitutes original research.

A related mistake is to speculate about the intellectual capacity or the mental health of other editors. People do not rise to their best selves when they are reminded of their worst selves or accused of faults they do not possess. Editors who make these accusations exhibit poor self control. Leave the angry mastodons in the ice age and focus on the article.

Finally, no technique works every time. It can be hard for people to do justice to opinions they disagree with. Edit wars can start when one party thinks they understand both sides, but actually mischaracterizes key aspects of the opposition. The opposing side's assumption of good faith soon expires if the problem persists. It is time to step back if other editors respond with, "That's not what I said," or "Please stop putting words in my mouth."


Discussion[edit]

[This is a start. If you like it, I might try to fold in your remarks on things to avoid (like straw men), under the "learning" point. Let me know (here is fine). Best wishes, --TJ 14:02, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

It would be good to include a few specific tips on the right way to do this. For instance, by offering a brief introduction and an invitation to feedback. "Let me see if I understand your meaning. You think it saves money to wash dishes in the dishwasher because they use less hot water to clean a batch of dishes than a person at a sink would use. Is that your point?" Durova 02:47, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
We are so on the same wavelength. I have refactored slightly, and "taken the text home" (downloaded it) to work without server stress. Probably back tomorrow AM (EST).--TJ 20:45, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

I tried to leave your last paragraph last, but this is how the logic worked out. You wrote such a lovely concluding sentence for that paragraph. Do you have time to do it again? This needs more grace. Your writing has a lot of grace; mine, but a little.

After that (and anything else you'd care to discuss), I propose that we substitute the above text for the existing "Be considerate of the opposing view" section.--TJ 12:42, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Still needs stuff. Will research & return.--TJ 00:36, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Angry Mastodons[edit]

You know, the first time someone does get trampled because they were busy editing and didn't see the angry mastodon coming down the street and barreling into their house, the author of this entry is going to feel very silly.

On the other hand, if it never happens, I'll look silly instead. As long as it saves people from such a gruesome death as being trampled by angry mastodons, however, I'm willing to live with that.

~Kylu (u|t) 05:54, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

  • As you predicted, people can get trampled, when conflicts arise with other users. Hence, I wrote the follow-up essay, "WP:No angry mastodons just madmen". Many user conflicts can be avoided: remember, there are over 11 million potential articles (including redlinks), so there is no need to fight over any particular set of articles. It is very easy to just drop the conflicts, early, before escalating a confrontation into a situation where someone is WP:Wikihounding to change every article after it is edited. In reality, fight or flight was the serious answer, not the joke as first believed. -Wikid77 (talk) 18:22, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

- hmm.. mastodonts are very easy to avoid. How about.. Angry Sable tooth Tigers? 81.70.252.138 05:10, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm not so certain that mastodons would have been that easy to avoid. When I was in Thailand an elephant sneaked up behind me and almost stole a bunch of bananas I had left on the ground. I saved the bananas only because I happened to turn around: three ton animals can move quietly. :) Durova 17:21, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Luckily, mastodons are extinct, as far as I know. -- ~PinkDeoxys~ 01:52, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Hah, you say that now, but maybe it's because you've always just happened to look the wrong way when they run past! (Kylu@Work) 207.145.133.34 16:17, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Hasn't anyone noticed that this angry mastodons essay has more and better images than the the article about the actual mastodon? that IS silly I tell you :P Citneman

Shortcuts[edit]

That shortcut, NAM, invokes too much of the warlike past.

Sincerely, GeorgeLouis 11:31, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

No offense, but I think deleting the shortcut based on acronym similarity in this case is ridiculous. -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 11:39, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I find it hard not to take offense at the word ridiculous. Maybe that's because I am typing this at 5 in the morning; big grin. At any rate, NAM does not mean anything to the average person, and to one who lived through the difficult times of the Vietnam era, the word doesn't many anything except Vietnam, much as frag means tossing a hand grenade in the general direction of your lieutenant or captain. In my small and pitiful opinion it is not a useful abbreviation and, in my further sleep-deprived opinion, it is considerably offensive in its own right. I am deleting it on those grounds, and I sincerely hope it will stay deleted lest I feel inclined to toss a grenade or two. (Hey, another big grin, OK?)

Sincerely, and in great good faith, GeorgeLouis 12:00, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I apologize if I used improper verbiage. Here's the problem: this is a good abbreviation for the article name, and shortcuts are just handy quick links. If you object to the shortcut, at least discuss it with the community first, since it's already in heavy use. If you can find a WikiProject Vietnam or something that this would be a better link for, then I'd say that would be a good argument for your perspective. Otherwise, you can't just ban the usage of it because it reminds you of something. Not everyone likes WP:BALLS and WP:DICK either, for example, but they're valid and heavily-used shortcuts. On the slippery slope, one could also extend this disapproval to a lot of different shortcut abbreviations (particularly the one-letter ones), although I see your point and it's not invalid. The main thing is, this needs to be discussed a little bit, and if you want to create the new WP:KEEPCOOL shortcut, then the page for it needs to be made. The link on the article page here is just a link; it doesn't itself create the shortcut.
Thank you for being so humble and civil. The community needs more of that (and maybe I need to work on it as well). -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 12:05, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Heh, okay, maybe I'm a liar about it being in heavy use. I'm not sure the fact that not a lot of articles link to it is disproval of my statement, though. -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 12:06, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
How about we compromise and put it up at redirects for deletion? -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 12:10, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

If I may add a comment, it seems the NAM/'Nam association mostly resonates with U.S. citizens from a certain era. Since fewer than 10 pages do link this way perhaps it would be good to cut and paste new links from them? My main concern about the acronym shortcut was that it could give this essay the superficial appearance of a policy. A shortcut that uses the word mastodons would be more in keeping with the spirit of the piece. Durova 13:36, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I see your point, but there are a lot of pages using short redirects like that that aren't policy – many of which will be in the future.
Sorry, what exactly did you mean about cutting and pasting new links? -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 13:45, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
When I was checking last week I saw a contentious talk page where someone mentioned the NAM shortcut in the middle of a list of policies and guidelines. To keep the NAM links from turning into redlinks, just go to the "what links here" at the toolbox on the far left of this screen, look for the NAM shortcut links, and paste some other link onto that text - so they'll still go to this essay. There were only 7 pages today, so it ought to be quick and easy for whoever deletes the shortcut. Durova 16:41, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Well, as for WP:BALLS and WP:DICK, they certainly lend an air of juvenalia to Wikipedia (of which this place does not need more), as does, if you will pardon me, WP:CHILL. I am exercising my second reversion on NAM, both on the basis of the reasoning stated before (reference to the Vietnam War) and for the reason that the word is simply a collection of letters that will not be easily remembered by the average user.

However, I will grant you WP:CHILL (for those users who are under 30 or just want to show they are up to date on American slang) if you will grant me WP:KEEPCOOL, which is an expression commonly used by the fossils among us, and I don't mean mastodon bones. I'm sorry, but I don't have a clue how to create a page by that name, with the redirects and all, but if nobody else wants to do it, I will parse it out somehow, some time.

Yours sincerely, GeorgeLouis 16:55, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

WP:CHILL led to another page until the other day. I really haven't had anything to do with the shortcuts (and feel rather flattered to see people make them). Durova 17:59, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
WP:CHILL previously redirected to Wikipedia:The World Will Not End Tomorrow. In my opinion, it is a far better fit for the content here at "No angry mastodons." Also, the shortcut is not in heavy use, mainly in old AfD discussions, so moving it really didn't affect much. So I moved it. Since it isn't a new redirect, moving it here doesn't much impact the existing level of "juvenalia," if that's what you call the language of a middle aged man such as myself (most definitely not under 30). WP:KEEPCOOL sounds fine to me, if no one else does it first, I can create it later tonight when I have bit more time. dryguy 20:33, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. WP:CHILL is still leading to Wikipedia:The World Will Not End Tomorrow. But somebody put a link at the bottom of that page to this hairy Mastodon article, which is just fine by me. GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:53, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Dryguy, thanks for creating the redirect. GeorgeLouis, if you want, we can bring the issue of whether to delete WP:NAM to a consensus through an RFD. I really feel like that it should be left on since it is a functional redirect. If the community votes to delete it, then that's the appropriate time to remove it from the shortcuts list, I think. I can go ahead and list it if desired. In the meantime, I won't put the redirect back on the article page. -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 11:01, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I went ahead and opened up the RFD. Please let me know if you have any objections.
(GeorgeLouis, thanks for being so jovial and polite about this, by the way.) -- Omicronpersei8 (talk) 11:14, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

This shorcut survived RfD, so there is no reason to not list it here. If you disagree, I'm not the one to take your fight up with—see Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2006 September 8#WP:NAM → Wikipedia:No angry mastodons. BigNate37(T) 15:23, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

New essay[edit]

In response to the expert rebellion/expert retention issue I've written my second Wikipedia essay, Wikipedia:Light one candle.

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. - Chinese proverb

Welcoming responses and improvements. Durova 16:45, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Dammit.[edit]

The population of angry mastodons just tripled. oTHErONE (Contribs) 23:30, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I give up -- I don't get it. Please explain.... David Spalding (  ) 05:58, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Sure, Pauline Hanson. Take a look at this. oTHErONE (Contribs) 12:55, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

A year later . . .[edit]

I am returning to this discussion more than a year later, and I must say that this article has improved tremendously and is fun to read. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:43, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't get it.[edit]

What do elephants have to do with disputes and edit wars. User:Agent008

Yes, the point of the article was a bit hard to find, so I moved it up to the opening of the first paragraph. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 20:41, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks George.User:Agent008

The ewwww factor[edit]

'"If something's wrong and it's not getting fixed, please be patient and keep working on fixing it the right way. If you let your own standards drop because you get frustrated, people will go ewwww and walk away." I don't understand this. Please define "people." Readers? Editors? Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 20:31, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Editors, administrators, anyone who could help to solve the problem. People don't like to wade through muddy waters. DurovaCharge! 20:59, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Only one mastodon picture!![edit]

File:La Brea Tar Pits Mastadons.jpg
these are really mastodons!

The others are elephants! The mastodonts had much longer heads than elephants (to which mammooths are counted), and were very bad wikipedia editors in relation to elephants, which may explain why the former went extinct, and the latter didn't. Said: Rursus 05:14, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Actually the Texas shot was identified as a mastodon recreation (yes we also have a couple of elephants; mastodons have gotten scarce). DurovaCharge! 05:44, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Smoking[edit]

In reference too:

===If you smoke, have a cigarette===

If you are a smoker and something really irritates you on Wikipedia, don't react to it -- just grab your pack and have a smoke to calm down. If you're trying to quit, skip this advice and seek pacification some other way. However if not, then when provoked just head outside, relax and get some fresh air. Five minutes to calm yourself can do wonders and give new perspective and produce rational thought as to what your next action will be. Scientifically, while adding to your risk of lung cancer, nicotine likewise has a positive brain stimulus effect that allows for you to think and place attentive thought instead of reaction to a matter at hand. In other words, if you already smoke, then the nicotine will let you think things through to be a better Wikipedian.[1]

Last found here. Ikip 09:26, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Okay, let's talk about the tobacco advice. I have ethical qualms about the passage (as stated in the edit summary). I also doubt that anyone really needs that advice: active smokers usually feel and act upon the nicotine urge without any help, and those who are quitting are better off not getting advice that leads back to such a dangerous addiction. One-third of people who smoke eventually die from it. The odds of getting killed by a mastodon are much lower. DurovaCharge! 06:30, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Exactly, I also felt very strongly about the issue. Keeping one's cool while editing Wikipedia is much less important than good health and longevity. I was straightaway going to remove that section, which is really against my nature, but somehow resisted the urge to do that, and made my point here. Please, please, please remove that advice or at least modify it. But, still removing it would be the best thing to do.
I believe most of the smokers wish to quit smoking, but can't do it. And, one of the most important things in any kind of addiction is to not abuse the substance concerned when doing so makes you feel better—especially, when one is stressed or depressed as the relief brought about by using the substance would stimulate one's reward center, and further reinforce the addiction.
I hope when two users have pointed this out, the point is taken more seriously.
—KetanPanchaltaLK 08:14, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
I did remove it, but the author immediately put it back in. So: bold-revert-discuss. DurovaCharge! 08:31, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
I appreciate Ketan Panchal's alert to bring me to discuss this. I was unaware a discussion was ongoing on the Talk Page. I do take this seriously, as the advice is intended (as noted in bold) for people who smoke.
I suspect many of the commenters here are not smokers or know about the way tobacco works to pacify those who use. Tobacco is a lifestyle choice, and I will repeat that the advice is geared to the smoking audience, rated at 23% of all Americans and at varying levels worldwide. The goal is that if one uses cigarettes to pacify themselves, that they should be reminded to go have a cigarette instead of act out of blind anger or harm the community by violating WP:CIVIL. I can speak to experience of having to tell people who are known smokers to go outside and have a smoke before continuing and creating a situation (angry mastodon behavior).
It also appears that the discussion here revolves around people concerned about dissuading a lifestyle choice, stating how and why people who smoke should not smoke, instead of how one's habit may affect behavior on Wikipedia.
One-third of people who smoke may die from it, but one must not lose sight of the mortal fact that 100% of all people die of something, cigarettes or not. I understood the goal of the topic to be words of encouragement to help people keep cool and defuse their stress levels, not give health advice. For those who opt to smoke, having a cigarette and getting that nicotine rush to cool off seems like an appropriate reminder. It may very well let you walk away and rethink the situation to make an even better and cohesive editing choice.
I can see trimming the size of the advice or integrating it into the "walk away from the computer" section, though. -- Guroadrunner (talk) 11:50, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, thanks for responding (here as well as through your edit on the project page). Yes, I do not smoke, but if you see my earlier comment what I have precisely stated is that only— smoking does work to defuse the stress, and that's why it is an inappropriate advice, and each time it works, it just reinforces the dependence. If 23% of Americans smoke, many of them must be wanting to quit, so for them such an advice would be detrimental. Those who do not wish to quit smoking wouldn't be affected much. If you really keep to wish the keep the passage as it is, I urge you to follow it up with another advice for those who want to quit to the effect that "each time under stress (that includes that experienced while editing Wikipedia) one (dependent on nicotine) smokes it'd make quitting more difficult for him/her. So, it might be a better idea to stop editing then and there". Instead you could suggest doing something else. I don't mind inserting such an advice, but wanted to discuss with you first, and of course if you insert it still better.
With regard to the choice part, I'd like to point out, that not all who smoke have total control over their smoking pattern. At least some really want to quit, but cannot—that's the nature of dependence...
May I also suggest browsing through some web sites like Uncyclopedia.org that would lighten the mood.
Regards. —KetanPanchaltaLK 14:18, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree: nicotine is an addictive substance, not merely a lifestyle choice. DurovaCharge! 17:39, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Durova, Nicotine can and is addictive; nobody's debating that. Tobacco use, however, is a lifestyle choice for some, just like veganism, meat-eating and cannabis culture. What we put in our bodies is up to us, with positive or negative effect.
However, we're straying off the path into discussing tobacco use here instead of the aim of the article.
KC Panchal, I will get to your comments soon. Please take a look at how I've revised it to see if it suits your needs. -- Guroadrunner (talk) 01:31, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
I think we'd all agree that real life issues are more important than being composed while editing on Wikipedia. So, that makes this discussion pertinent. I'd seen Guroadrunner's edit yesterday night (GMT+5.5) itself. The change is welcome, but it'd be nicer if you could include the reason for not smoking especially when one feels stressed (the reinforcement part). Because, a reason always convinces a reader better, and moreover, considering the amount of text devoted to how nicotine can help in editing, it'd be justified to explain how nicotine in this very situation antagonizes the attempts at quitting. Actually, I was trying to find a citation for the reinforcement principle, but I couldn't, but may be citation is not so much necessary in a non-mainspace essay. I'll still try to get you a reference if you'd want one.
"May I also suggest browsing through some web sites like Uncyclopedia.org that would lighten the mood."—I didn't complete this sentence above; am afraid if it was read in the wrong context. I was suggesting including uncyclopedia as one of the tips for defusing stress in the main essay, not for you!
Regards. —KetanPanchaltaLK 06:37, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
I suppose I would take in response to the concerns about reinforcing a habit that I am reading your view that having one single more cigarette will prevent someone from quitting if they want to quit. I believe that if someone is looking to quit, that the article now speaks to them with the very second sentence that gives the rebuttal of "if you're trying to quit, skip this section". I also believe the number of people trying to actively quit is lower than expected. Most smokers say they want to quit (whether to garner sympathy for their choice or simply by making themselves appear better by blowing smoke [pun intended]), but that doesn't mean they are taking active steps to do so. I could see a considered reason to add in something in line with "if stress from editing Wikipedia is a trigger for you to smoke, consider taking a lengthy wikibreak". -- Guroadrunner (talk) 20:10, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
I also like your idea to add a section to go to Uncyclopedia. Me, I prefer the sarcasm and bawdiness of Encyclopedia Dramatica. -- Guroadrunner (talk) 20:15, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
I leave it to you, but including the reinforcement part as a reason for taking a break wouldn't have done much harm to the section. Well, I didn't know about encyclopedia dramatica, you could include both the (or even others that you know of) web sites. By the way, congratulations for such a nice essay on the whole! Just because I had issues with one point, no way meant I didn't like the essay. It's really well written. Regards. —KetanPanchaltaLK 08:43, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Not constructive[edit]

I think this article violates Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point becuase it relies upon disturbing imagery to make its point. SharkD (talk) 01:58, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

On the contrary, this article seems to use humor to illustrate a point. I don't see how it disrupts Wikipedia at all. Please elaborate. Zian (talk) 08:27, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Diving (football)[edit]

I added the Diving (football) link to compliment the mock outrage paragraph which Wikidemon ingeniously added on 10 August 2009. Thanks. Ikip 09:23, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

weary vs wary[edit]

I think weary is a better word there than wary. Weary means tired, like "Dang it, I'm tired of all this, I'm going to bed, good night and good bye." Wary has more connotations of cautious, prudent, careful, although it does also mean timorous (which basically means scared), but we do want users to be cautious, prudent, careful. We want editors to be wary of mistakes. We want people to be editing when they're happy and alert and fully awake, or when they're definitely not weary, so that we don't all become weary of mistakes. Banaticus (talk) 22:18, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Indeed we should be wary of our mistakes (and those of others) but not weary of noticing and correcting them. Nice rant! Not sure of the point of it though... --Jubileeclipman 20:17, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

!Policy[edit]

Shouldn't this page be marked {{Humorantipolicy}} or some such? --Jubileeclipman 16:59, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Humorantipolicy is more for modest proposal sort of pages that vent frustration or illuminate absurdity by satirically advocating negative behavior. This page, while it certainly uses humor, directly points to steps editors can take to improve everyone's Wikipedia experience and, by extension, Wikipedia itself, through cooperation rather than confrontation. It is tagged as an essay, which is appropriate. - Tanetris (talk) 20:55, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
    • ^ How Stuff Works .com , http://health.howstuffworks.com/nicotine4.htm -- "nicotine improves your reaction time and your ability to pay attention, making you feel like you can work better." and "When you use nicotine, glutamate may create a memory loop of the good feelings you get and further drive the desire to use nicotine."