The role of an assistant
The main role of an assistant is to help users who find themselves in a debate or controversy to understand the policies and norms of conduct when such a situation occurs. While assistants should provide information on how effectively to communicate one's position, assistants should not be seeking to have the person whom they are helping "win", but rather to advise the person of what is expected of debate participants; how to argue for, recognize, and accept consensus; what type of conduct is expected and what type is unacceptable; and how to request involvement of the community.
If you would like to assist with this process, just find a case where your knowledge and experience can help the editor requesting assistance, and take it! There is a list of those who are willing to provide help in specific areas, but those who don't want to sign up there are still welcome to take a case and help someone out.
- Provide advice and guidance to the person requesting assistance in line with the policies, practices, and consensus of the community at large.
- Help the person requesting assistance to understand how to express his or her position clearly, rationally, and civilly, and to listen to and take into account the position of others who may not agree.
- Encourage the person to act in line with community norms and consensus, to discuss the possibility of a new way or consensus if he or she disagrees, and to accept that consensus may not change or form.
- Guide the user to appropriate policies and processes (but see #2, below).
- Hold discussion on the talk page of the user receiving assistance to keep things uncluttered, and so that the user being helped can easily refer to the conversation.
- Have a minimum of three months' experience with active editing, and a good knowledge of the expectations of the community, including but not limited to its policies and guidelines.
Assistants should not
- Generally argue on behalf of the person being assisted. The goal of assistance is to teach the person receiving it how effectively and civilly to express himself or herself. The assistant should normally provide advice and feedback rather than act as a mouthpiece.
- Wikilawyer by utilizing policies and processes frivolously, disruptively, or against their obvious intent, or encouraging the person receiving assistance to do so.
- Give advice when they are unsure. "I don't know, but let me find out" is a thousand times better than providing bad advice.
- Hesitate to drop a case if it becomes apparent that the person receiving assistance has no intention of contributing constructively or wishes to cause disruption.
- Take on cases involving matters they have little or no experience with.
While newer assistants should not hesitate to seek advice from more experienced ones, and experienced assistants should give help and advice, there will be no official positions as such. If anyone skilled at coordinating projects would like to do so, help in this area would be very welcome.
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