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General questions[edit]

These questions are intended to try to determine what you may consider the "baseline" between what should be considered "valid collegiate discourse" and what should be considered "violation of the civility policy" (incivility). Please be as specific as you can in your responses.

Written versus spoken communication[edit]

When one is physically present when speaking with another person, body language, intonation, setting, and other physical factors, can suggest the intent of words in a way that words written on a page cannot.


Example: if a person is having a casual conversation with friends over a table covered with beer glasses and one of them wishes to contest a point another has made they might prefect their remarks with "listen up asshole and I'll explain it to you." If they are smiling and raising a glass towards the person this remark is pointed, it can help the words to be taken in the lighthearted manner in which it was intended.

Should such interaction as noted in the example above be considered incivility in the collegiate, collaborative environment of Wikipedia? Should the talk page location matter (such as whether the discussion is on a user talk page, an article talk page, or Wikipedia project-space talk page)?

  • Reply: The remark is not uncivil if it is clear it is intended to be taken in the lighthearted manner.


Should all profanity (such as the use of "bad words", "four letter words", "the Seven dirty words", etc.), be considered incivility?

  • Reply: No

All caps/wiki markup[edit]

There is an established convention when using technology to communicate through a typed format that WRITING IN ALL CAPS is considered "yelling" and is generally not acceptable. Individuals also sometimes use italics bolding green or other colored text or even enlarged text or other formatting code to attempt to indicate intonation, or to otherwise emphasize their comments.

Should there be limits as to when this type of formatting should be used in a discussion? Is there any type of formatting which should never be acceptable in a discussion?

  • Reply: Formatting that indicates "yelling" is unacceptable if aimed at other users.

Enforcement and sanctions[edit]

Responsibility for enforcement[edit]

Who is responsible for maintaining a civil environment for collegiate discussion? Should it be it the responsibility of administrators, the arbitration committee, the broader Wikipedia community, or some combination of these?

  • Reply: It's the responsibility of the whole Wikipedia community.

Appropriate sanctions[edit]

What sanctions, if any, do you think are appropriate for incivility? Should blocking be considered an appropriate response to incivility? Should topic banning or interaction banning be considered an appropriate response?

  • Reply: Topic bans and blocks are an appropriate response to severe incivility. Interaction bans should be avoided as users should be encouraged to talk through their differences.


Should the context of the situation be taken into account when considering whether to apply sanctions to the individual due to incivility?

  • Reply: Yes


How severe should a single incident of incivility need to be to merit some sort of sanction?

  • Reply: To merit a block, a single incident would need to be very severe, eg. if it involved racism or a threat to cause harm "in real life".

Instances of incivility[edit]

Should multiple instances of incivility in the same discussion be considered one offense or several? If a user is civil most of the time, but occasionally has instances of incivility, should these incidents be excused? If so, how often should such incivility be excused?

  • Reply: Multiple instances of incivility in the same discussion should be considered one offence, unless confronted about the incivility during the discussion. Occasional instances of incivility, such as once a year, is acceptable.

Weighing incivility and contributions[edit]

Should the quality and/or number of contributions an individual makes outside of discussions have any bearing on whether an individual should be sanctioned due to incivility? Should the incidents of incivility be taken on their own as a separate concern?

  • Reply: Contributions made outside of discussions should not have any bearing. The community should not manipulate individual editors by requiring them to perform certain tasks in return for not issuing sanctions.


In the past, when an individual has been blocked from editing due to "violating the civility policy" (incivility), there has, at times, been an outcry from others concerning the block, and sometimes the block has been overturned subsequent to that outcry.

In an effort to reduce incidences of such an outcry ("drama"), should incivility be deprecated as an appropriate reason for blocking an individual? Should admins instead be required to have a more specific reason (such as personal attacks, harassment of another user, etc.), when blocking a user for incivility?

  • Reply: Admins should give very clear and specific reasons when blocking a user for incivility. However, any outcry over a block needs to be taken in context, eg. was the outcry mostly from the blocked user's friends, and would the block have been overturned if more non-bias users had been given time to enter the discussion?

AN/I prerequisite[edit]

Should a demonstrable consensus formed through discussion at WP:AN/I (or other appropriate forum) be required as a prerequisite to blocking an individual due to incivility? If so, should there be a minimum time frame for such discussions to remain open before the individual may be blocked?

  • Reply: A discussion at WP:AN/I should not be a prerequisite when blocking an individual for a clear-cut case of severe or repeated incivility.

RFC prerequisite[edit]

A request for comment (RFC) gives the community the opportunity to discuss a behavioural concern (such as incivility) directly with the individual, with the intended goal of attempting to find a voluntary solution.

Should an RFC be required as a prerequisite for blocking a user of incivility? Should it be suggested and/or encouraged?

  • Reply: An RFC should not be required before blocking, however, it should it be encouraged for users who are repeatedly uncivil.

Personal Attacks[edit]

Requests for adminship[edit]

Wikipedia:Requests for adminship (RFA) is a place where an editor requests the additional tools and responsibilities of adminship. In the discussion concerning the specific request, each commenting editor is to convey whether (and why) they would (or would not) trust the requester with those tools and responsibilities. Due to this, typically the requester's actions, behaviour, and contributions are noted, evaluated, and sometimes discussed.

Due to the nature of RFA (a question of trusting an individual), should it be considered necessary for the standards concerning personal attacks be somewhat relaxed at RFA? What, if any, should be the limits to this? How personal is "too personal" at an RFA? What types of criticisms cross the line between being considered merely an evaluation of a candidate and being considered an unwarranted attack? Should comments considered to cross that line be left alone, stricken, moved to the talk page, or simply removed altogether?

  • Reply: It is not necessary for the personal attacks standards to be relaxed at RFA. Participants just need to "comment on content, not on the contributor".

Attacking an idea[edit]

The Wikipedia community has a long tradition of not tolerating personal attacks. However, it may be difficult to differentiate whether an individual is commenting on a user's ideas or is commenting on the user themselves. The same is true concerning whether an individual may understand a particular idea.

How should this be determined? Should any of the following be considered a personal attack? Should any of these comments be considered the kind of incivility that we should not tolerate on Wikipedia?

"That idea is stupid"
"That is idiotic"
"That is yet another one of <username of proposer>'s stupid ideas and should be ignored"
"You don't understand/misunderstand"
"You aren't listening"
"You don't care about the idea"
  • Reply: Comments 1, 2 and 3 are personal attacks, despite technically only commenting on content, as they imply another user is an idiot. However, comment 3 is the only one of these blatant enough to be intolerable. Comments 4 and 5 are acceptable if clearly true. Comments 6 is a personal attack, but not intolerable.

Rate examples[edit]

In this section example comments will be presented. You are asked to evaluate each comment on the following scale:

  • 1 = Always acceptable
  • 2 = Usually acceptable
  • 3 = Acceptability entirely dependent on the context of specific situation
  • 4 = Usually not acceptable
  • 5 = Never acceptable

Proposals or content discussions[edit]

  • I assume you realize how foolish this idea sounds to the rest of us
rating: 4
  • Typical of the foolishness I have come to expect from this user
rating: 5
  • After looking over your recent edits it is clear that you are incompetent.
rating: 5
  • Anyone with a username like that is obviously here for the wrong reasons
rating: 3
  • You seem to have a conflict of interest in that you appear to be interested in a nationalist point of view.
rating: 3
  • It is obvious that your purpose here is to promote your nationalist point of view.
rating: 3
  • You are clearly here to support your nationalist point of view, Wikipedia would be better off without you.
rating: 3
  • This is the stupidest proposal I have seen in a very long time.
rating: 4
  • Whoever proposed this should have their head examined
rating: 4
  • I don't know how anyone could support such an idiotic proposal.
rating: 4
  • This proposal is retarded.
rating: 4
  • The person who initiated this discussion is a moron.
rating: 5
  • This proposal is crap.
rating: 4
  • This proposal is a waste of everyone's time.
rating: 3
  • What a fucking waste this whole discussion has been
rating: 3
  • A shitty proposal from a shitty editor.
rating: 5
  • The OP is a clueless idiot.
rating: 5
  • Please just stop talking, nobody is listening anyway.
rating: 5
  • Just shut up already.
rating: 4
  • File your sockpuppet investigation or STFU.
rating: 4
  • Shut your fucking mouth before you say something else stupid.
rating: 5

admin actions[edit]

  • The blocking admin has a long history of questionable judgements.
rating: 1
  • The blocking admin needs to be desysopped if this is representative of their decision making abilities.
rating: 3
  • The blocking admin is well known as an abusive rule nazi.
rating: 5
  • I'm sure their admin cronies will just censor me like they do to anyone who points out the hypocrisy of all WP admins, but this was a terrible block.
rating: 5
  • How could anyone with a brain in their head think it was ok to issue a block like this?
rating: 4

Possible trolling[edit]

  • Your comments look more like trolling to me.
rating: 3
  • Stop trolling or I will find an admin to block you.
rating: 3
  • All I can say about this user is "obvious troll is obvious".
rating: 3
  • Go troll somewhere else.
rating: 3
  • Somebody block this troll so those of us that are here in good faith can continue without them.
rating: 3

removal of comments[edit]

(Assume all removals were done by a single user and are not part of a suppression action for privacy, libel, etc)

  • Comment removed from conversation with edit summary "removed off topic trolling"
rating: 4
  • Comment removed from a conversation and replaced with <redacted> or {{RPA}}
rating: 3
  • Entire discussion closed and/or collapsed using {{hat}} or other such formatting
rating: 3
  • Comment removed from a conversation and replaced with "redacted twattery, don't post here again" with posting users signature still attached
rating: 5
rating: 4

Enforcement scenarios[edit]

The general idea that Wikipedians should try to treat each other with a minimum of dignity and respect is widely accepted. Where we seem to have a serious problem is the enforcement or lack thereof of this ideal. This section will submit various scenarios and ask to you to suggest what an appropriate response would be. Possible options include:

Please bear in mind that what is being asked for is not what you believe would happen but what you believe should happen.

Scenario 1[edit]

Two users are in a dispute regarding the name of a particular article on a geographic region. The debate is long and convoluted, and the motivations of the two users unclear to those unfamiliar with the topic. They have not used any form of dispute resolution to resolve the content dispute. They have not edit warred in the article but the discussion on the talk page has gotten extremely long and seems to be devolving into the users accusing one another of having ethnic/nationalist motivations. One users has said "You only believe that because you were educated in the Fubarian school system which filled your head with their lies." To which the other user replies "That is exactly what I would expect from someone who live in Kerzbleckistan. Everyone knows that Fubaritol has always been part of our great empire. Only Kerzblecki fat heads believe it isn't. "

  • Response: A warning to the users involved and an RFC to resolve the content dispute.

Scenario 2[edit]

A long term user is blocked for edit warring. The proof that they did edit war is clear and obvious. On their talk page they are hosting a discussion regarding the block but are not formally appealing it using the unblock template. The blocking admin, seeing this discussion of their actions, attempts to explain that they are not making a value judgement on the appropriateness of the edits, just doing their job by enforcing the edit warring policy. The blocked user removes the admins actual comments but leaves their signature attached to the phrase "asshattery removed". Several of the blocked users friends comment on what a dumb block it is, how the blocking admin is a disgrace, that they should be desysopped, and sp on. The blocking admin comments again, asking that they either be allowed to participate in the discussion or that their comments and all discussion of them be removed entirely, not replaced with an insult with his signature attached to it. The blocked user again removes the admin's comments and adds the same insulting phrase in their place.

  • Response: Ignore it until the blocked user and their friends have time to cool down. Take to WP:ANI if situation escalates.

Scenario 3[edit]

A user is apparently an expert in the field of eighteenth-century horse drawn carriages. Practically every word Wikipedia has on this subject was written by them. Their content contributions are generally above reproach. Unfortunately they are also extremely abrasive in interpersonal conversations. They routinely tell any user who disagrees with them to fuck off, that they were obviously educated in a barn, that their ignorance is matched only by what a douchebag they are, and so forth. They also exhibit a tendency to actually be on the correct side of an argument when they are at their most abrasive. They apparently believe that this excuses their condescension and insults. One such incident is brought up at WP:ANI. It is approximately the fifteenth time such an incident has occurred. Again, the user is making excellent content contributions and is probably right as to the facts of the actual dispute, but they have verbally abused the user who disagrees with them, insulting their intelligence and using profanity. An admin decides to block them for chronic incivility about three hours into the conversation at the noticeboard.

  • Response: An RfC over the user's behaviour, and blocks of increasing length for any further incidents of clear incivility. It is however very unlikely that an editor who is usually on the correct side of an argument would be so uncivil. It's nearly always those who are losing an argument who resort to name-calling.

Scenario 4[edit]

Users A and B are in a dispute. They have already stated their positions many times each. As previously uninvolved users begin commenting on the situation user A stops commenting on the relevant talk page. User B opens a thread on user A's user talk page relating to the dispute and challenging user A's position. User A posts a reply indicating they feel they have stated their position enough times and they do not see any purpose in continuing. User B replies, asking for more details about some aspect of the dispute. User A closes the discussion on their talk page and in both a closing comment and their edit summary they say "User B please stop posting here." User B posts again anyway. User A removes their comments and in their edit summary they write "Stay the fuck off my fucking talk page, LIKE I SAID ALREADY."

  • Response: Advise User B to stay of User A's talk page, and encourage User A to return to the discussion on the relevant page.

Scenario 5[edit]

A user is unfailingly civil in their on-wiki interactions with other users. They have never been blocked. Yet it is discovered that on an off-wiki forum dedicated to discussing Wikipedia they constantly make grossly insulting profane remarks about other WP users. Another user emails them asking about this discrepancy, and they receive an email reply through the Wikipedia email system that is equally insulting and profane. When the issue is brought up at WP:ANI the user is again perfectly polite. They openly acknowledge that they are in fact the user making the comments on the off-wiki forum, and that they sent an insulting email. They feel none of that is relevant as their on-wiki communication has been above reproach.

  • Response: This type of off-wiki incivility is unacceptable, so warnings or blocks are appropriate.

Scenario 6[edit]

(Please bear in mind that this is a hypothetical scenario, not a description of the current situation)

The Wikipedia community is in a time of crisis. Arguments about civility are leading to more and more disruption and the project seems in danger of losing many long time contributors as a result. In desperation, the community decides to appoint one user to modify WP:CIVIL in any way they see fit in order to resolve these issues and restore order. In their wisdom they select you as that person.

  • Response: WP:CIVIL is currently fine. However, the politics that sometimes prevents it being applied, or causes it to be abused, needs to be stamped out.


Please use this section for any additional comments, observations, recommendations, etc.