User:BarkingFish/Essay:You may not be an asshat, but your behaviour makes you look like one

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Very few people think of themselves in a poor light; and in fact very few people are actually asshats. The difficulty is that on Wikipedia, your fellow editors will draw a conclusion from your behaviour, and if you act like an asshat people will think you are actually one.

Given that you're not, it's best to not let people form that impression in the first place.

The person who linked to this essay has shown themselves in a bad light, but it could be worse. This essay is about behaviour, and not about personality.

In the 5,271,356 articles on Wikipedia, any one editor's interactions with you are going to be based on a very small number of edits - perhaps even one. To avoid people taking offence with that one edit, you really must keep civility at the foremost for each and every edit and its edit summary. There's good reasons civility is one of the five pillars: An uncivil environment is a poor environment, and incivility makes good faith users act like trolls, and makes trolls look like good faith users. Use the Grandma Test: if your Grandma were to see this edit, what would she think?

When responding to other's edits, a good starting point - until presented with other evidence - is the application of Hanlon's razor. Don't fly off the handle, instead clarify the intent of the other editor. Assume Good Faith on the part of the other editor; alternatively stated: assume the other editor is stupid, not vindictive. This is not a license to assume everyone who disagrees with you is stupid.

Remember that having The Wrong Version of a page isn't disastrous. If it takes a few days of talking back and forth on the talk page to nut things out, and the article is wrong the whole time, there really isn't that great a loss. At the end of the discussion there will be a version arrived at that everyone can live with.

Emotional investment in an article or subject will cause you heartache. Try to avoid this, and you'll remain cool and calm - and won't descend into incivility easily. Worst case, make a note and come back to the article in six months - at which time you won't a) care; and b) be able to find the problematic piece - problem solved.

Endeavour to acquire a sense of perspective over contentious matters; are you arguing with other editors over something, which when looking at the scope of the article, is trivial? Arguments often become heated over matters that are best resolved by referring to reliable sources rather than opinions. When working on Wikipedia, a certain amount of maturity is required if you are going to succeed at what you are doing. Unfortunately, some users have a habit of making themselves look ridiculous by arguing over completely trivial issues, something which makes them look exceptionally immature.

Be aware that it is very difficult to adequately communicate humor in written text; your pithy writings could easily be mis-interpreted. By all means use humour when communicating with your fellow editors, keeping in mind all possible offence and misunderstandings: making ambiguous statements that may be interpreted poorly may lead others to form the opinion that you are an asshat. Be clear.

Wikipedia is, and always has been, a place for people to get together and work towards a common goal, but users who behave in an immature manner, such as vandalising pages, adding information which is not much use to anyone or those who just come here for a laugh with no real intention of being sensible or trying to help, ruin this atmosphere.

In general, there are a few pointers to work with:

1: Always follow the Five Pillars - Remember, as the Fifth Pillar states, Wikipedia has no firm rules, besides those basic principals, which will help you remember the path to being a great editor, instead of an asshat. And nobody likes an asshat!

2: more blurb here

Name calling can escalate[edit]

See also[edit]