Wikipedia talk:Responding to threats of harm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Essays
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion.
 Top  This page has been rated as Top-impact on the project's impact scale.


There is significant overlap with Wikipedia:Potentially suicidal users. I suggest merging and upgrading the result to guideline or policy. - Jehochman Talk 17:21, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Agreed that the high overlap probably calls for a merger, although I think a title along the lines of "threats of violence" encompasses more scenarios than "threats of suicide," if we go that route (which seems to suggest merging to here, rather than from here). – Luna Santin (talk) 19:34, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe that would be the case. We need to explain to the editors of the article that we like their work so much we want to generalize it. That page may need to be trimmed. The goal should be to make it sleek enough that it can be promoted to policy. - Jehochman Talk 19:58, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
In order to reduce the WP:BEANS component when I wrote a related essay I referred to an even broader subject: real world emergencies. DurovaCharge! 22:52, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
Endorse merge (which way, doesn't matter to me), and possibly suggest renaming to something such as Durova suggested. Perhaps "Responding to threats of harm", or some such, which would cover both self-harm, and threats to harm others. While I generally agree that the majority of such posts are likely nothing more than vandalism, I also think that we are not in a position to assess the validity of them, nor should we be expected to, or held accountable for such actions. Any threat should be treated seriously, passed on to local authorities if possible, and let them deal with the validity of the threat. ArielGold 13:41, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I also endorse the merge and feel that responding to threats of harm as the merged name is fine. SorryGuy  Talk  06:25, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Closing the merge[edit]

There's been a long-standing merge proposal between Wikipedia:Potentially suicidal users and Wikipedia:Responding to threats of harm. I've drafted a merged page at User:Luna Santin/sandbox (permalink). Feel free to modify the page or to suggest any desired changes. If there's no feedback within a reasonable timeframe, I'll complete the merge. I'll be posting this identical notice to both talk pages, and will try to check both for comments; realistically, though, it may help if we direct comments to Wikipedia talk:Responding to threats of harm, where old discussion on the merge proposal took place. – Luna Santin (talk) 03:49, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Waited long enough, perhaps? I've gone ahead with the merge. – Luna Santin (talk) 08:17, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I have done a history merge on the two pages. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 05:21, 13 March 2008 (UTC)


There's a new proposal at the above link, intended to become policy if at all possible - some work is required to sift through the intentions of this, and that page to separate what fits best as policy, and what as essay - there's also WP:FIRE to consider, as well as the pages linked above.

I think there's some important material here, but we do seem to have some unnecessary redundancy, and I think one essay, and one policy will probably best cover all aspects of this sensitive area.... all help is most welcome! - Privatemusings (talk) 05:56, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Well done[edit]

As the user who started the failed policy attempt, I’m very happy to see that we finally have a great essay about this subject! I have now dealt with several suicide threat incidents on Wikipedia. Please, if you see such a comment and don’t want to or can’t handle it yourself for some reason please send me a email and I will respond as quickly as I can. For general reference I general use this post as a temple and modify it according to the situation. --S.dedalus (talk) 02:18, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

New policy threats and suicide - please comment[edit]

I've proposed a new policy at the village pump. See WP:VPP#Policy proposal on dealing with threats of violence and suicide.--Scott MacDonald (talk) 16:38, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Username vs. IP threats[edit]

If the person making the threat is logged in, then there's nothing we can really do, can we? Evil saltine (talk) 22:13, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

My understanding is that in that case, a CheckUser provides the IP address directly to the authorities (either after contacting them, or after someone else has initially contacted them.) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 04:30, 26 October 2010 (UTC)


I've updated the WMF emergency contact section. The previous version could have been interpreted to discourage contacting us outside business hours. The new version makes it clear that the WMF will respond to reports at the emergency contact address at all hours, not just business hours. Also, I'm about to clarify it further that by "contacting the WMF" the best route is through that emergency email; other methods will simply be delay the report from reaching the proper people.SWATJester Son of the Defender 22:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Block user, lock pages[edit]

"Potentially suicidal or violent users may be further aggravated by further interaction, whether by discussions or by misguided attempts to help."

I'm not sure whether this is the best advice we can give. I would speculate that suicides happen mainly because people are desperate and isolated. People who communicate, in whatever form, are probably less likely to terminate their own life. Even users who threaten to harm others are less likely to actually do so as long as they are busy typing comments on Wikipedia. As this is a real life issue, I'd suggest that the Foundation asks for professional advice on what general guidelines we should follow in such situations.  Cs32en Talk to me  16:01, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree that we (WMF) should get professional advice on this. Also I would like some disclosure on how the foundation handles these things. Is it 24x7? One is reminded of recent incidents in the news where passing the problem to the supposed responsible authority within an organisation proved "sub-optimal" for all concerned. Rich Farmbrough, 20:28, 17 May 2012 (UTC).
Feedback from WMF is very positive about the temporal and geographical coverage. Rich Farmbrough, 16:08, 29 May 2012 (UTC).

More concise[edit]

I think this page should be more concise, since in the event of a real suicide threat, every second counts. I think it should read just like that and remove the rest of the content on the page, just a concise template. If there is no opposition, I will go about doing that edit. Regards, Whenaxis talk · contribs | DR goes to Wikimania! 01:42, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

I do oppose that. Because of the need for conciseness, that template is there. However, the rest of the page is needed to elaborate on the rationale behind and the details beyond what the template says. For just one example, as an administrator, that last sentence ("Consider blocking...") is not really helpful for me. I want the extra stuff below to tell me what to consider when making that decision. I will note that the "Contact authorities" subsections are all somewhat redundant and can be taken out, if the Wikimedia foundation will really take care of that for us once we e-mail them.--Aervanath (talk) 03:52, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
That's what I noticed too. I also found that the sections with "Note: The Wikimedia Foundation will handle this when you notify them of a threat of harm." are not necessary because the "Contact the Wikimedia Foundation" section already covers that, if the Wikimedia Foundation already has got everything in those sections covered why do we need to have it written there? Whenaxis talk · contribs | DR goes to Wikimania! 14:16, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Just putting this up here, but I also don't like this idea, and have the intent to comment, just trying to find the time. Hopefully this weekend at the latest. -- DQ (ʞlɐʇ) 04:25, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

can we improve the response[edit]

I'd like to comment on this section and the one above it, by saying that yes, every moment counts, and yes threats need to be taken seriously. Blocking the user is as much a response which can have an adverse effect as talking to the user. The more appropriate thing to do is to direct those threats to trained people who are online. There are plenty of people trained in suicide counselling, and tools can be made, to alert them audibly, so they can leave their computers on just in case, and tools so that what the editor is typing is not made public, but just the same, the user is not deliberately given the impression that nobody cares and they are indeed unwanted and worthless to the wikipedia community. An instant response by suicide counsellors is a lot better than the delay, inaction, or inability to find the person by authorities.
The present suicide template sounds like a customer service helpline "Hello, we are sorry to hear about how you are feeling at this time. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not able to provide counselling services or professional referrals." People in a normal state of mind get frustrated and despair when they encounter such scripted hollow sentiments over the phone or net, so I do not feel this is the best that the community or the foundation can come up with. Penyulap 22:24, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Oh yeah, and one more thing, we can bet their lives that this template will not get improved for months if not years, if ever. That's wikipedia for you. Penyulap 20:54, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Again the WMF response is that generally blocking the suicidal/self harming is not a good idea. I have changed the page accordingly. Moreover it seems clear that anyone threatening physical harm to others should be immediately blocked. Since we have such a mix of people I would not say "indefinitely blocked and banned" since one person's deaththreat is another's gentle chiding. Rich Farmbrough, 12:57, 30 May 2012 (UTC).
Looks a lot better now, a good move in the right direction which heads off the most serious problems, hopefully improvements to handling suicide matters on wiki can go further at some point. Penyulap 19:45, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposed addition of a link[edit]

Wikipedia:Requests for oversight is an official policy that says, in part that a "true emergency" can be reported to the Stewards over IRC and Meta says that Stewards should get involved in emergencies. I suggest adding the following link to the article where it suggests that users contact an admin over IRC: #wikimedia-stewards connect Andrew327 00:18, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Block email or not?[edit]

"Threats of violence to others should be met with blocking, generally including user talk pages. "

Should administrators block the email function as well? If not, an explicit statement saying so would be helpful. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 20:11, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Please be mindful WP:SUICIDE also redirected to this essay, should en.wp Admins block people who need help?--AldNonUcallin?☎ 13:10, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
It still does redirect here. I'm not sure what the best solution is. Perhaps a hat-note directed at such individuals which links to a list of international suicide telephone numbers? Hopefully this is a very rare occurrence. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 20:15, 19 April 2014 (UTC)