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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: Location and context do matter. If it's on a user talk page with a friend, and no offense is taken, there was nothing wrong with it. But if it was on an article talk page with a new user, saying something like that is WP:BITE-y.


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

  • Reply: No. There are legitimate uses of profanity, and not all profanity is uncivil.

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: USING ALL CAPS IS JUST OBNOXIOUS AND ANNOYING. IT'S PROBABLY NOT UNCIVIL THOUGH. SAME WITH <big> TAGS. Using italics and bolding can be useful when trying to give emphasis, though bolding an entire statement is also obnoxious. IMO {{xt}} and friends should only be used to quote others, or provide example text, not format what you were saying to make it stand out more.
  • I think putting any type of limit on what can be used and what can't is a bit CREEP-y and a waste of time.

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: Ideally each user is responsible for their own civility. In reality, if there's a major problem with a certain user's incivility it should be taken to WP:AN/I and dealt with. Except when something gets taken to AN/I it normally just drums up old disputes and what not. I'm not really sure I have an answer to this.

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: I like the idea of topic banning better than blocking. If they can work in other areas without causing disruption, that's a net benefit to the project.


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

  • Reply: Always. A blanket rule in this case does not work properly.


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

  • Reply: Context is important. There is a difference in saying "go the fuck away" and "get the fuck of my talk page you motherfucking asshole". Though I'm not sure how severe something should be before sanctions should kick in.

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: I don't think it really matters if someone is being repeatedly incivil in a discussion, realistically only once should matter. That being said, to handle sanctions (w/e you call them), it would probably be easier to lump them into one issue. At the second question, it depends on how severe it is. I mean if you give someone a [serious] death threat, thats an immediate block, no matter how significant their contributions are.

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: In the end we are here to build an encyclopedia, so all we should value is content contributions, except realistically, we need to work with one another, and if someone can't get along, it doesn't work. So I suppose it really depends. There will eventually come a point when the community loses it's patience, and deals with it.


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: Personally I'm not too fond of civility blocks, but I would say yes, a more specific should be given. Whether it should be a hard-fast requirement is a bit WP:CREEP-y to me.

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: Again, CREEP-y. I would recommend something like that, but no requirement. A minimum time frame should be long enough for involved parties (and probably some un-involved ones) to comment.

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: Suggested and encouraged yes. Requirement, no. That being said, there should be a pretty good reason to block someone without one.

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: No, it shouldn't be relaxed. It's not wrong to question a person's judgement or say you don't trust them. I think there are certain times when users have a tendency to go overboard in trying to either oppose or support a candidate. Ideally if an uninvolved user/admin/etc. tells you to tone it down, it probably means you are. I think common sense can be applied here.

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" <-- Unnecessarily flaming
"That is idiotic" <-- Unnecessarily flaming
"That is yet another one of <username of proposer>'s stupid ideas and should be ignored" <-- PA
"You don't understand/misunderstand" <-- Totally fine, provided there was more to that comment
"You aren't listening" <-- Ok if someone is being like WP:IDONTHEARTHAT
"You don't care about the idea" <-- Ehhhh. Context would depend
  • Reply: See above

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: 3 <-- I would only say this is acceptable at the end of a long discussion
  • Typical of the foolishness I have come to expect from this user
rating: 5 <-- This comment doesn't add anything to the conversation
  • After looking over your recent edits it is clear that you are incompetent.
rating: 3 if it were accompanied with a longer comment. Otherwise 5.
  • Anyone with a username like that is obviously here for the wrong reasons
rating: 5 <-- Take it to UAA/ANI or don't say it.
  • You seem to have a conflict of interest in that you appear to be interested in a nationalist point of view.
rating: 2 <-- Not how I would have phrased it, but provided with diffs, evidence seems fine.
  • It is obvious that your purpose here is to promote your nationalist point of view.
rating: 3 <-- Ehh...should only really be said at/after an ANI discussion
  • You are clearly here to support your nationalist point of view, Wikipedia would be better off without you.
rating: 4 <-- Moving into the PA zone.
  • This is the stupidest proposal I have seen in a very long time.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • Whoever proposed this should have their head examined
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • I don't know how anyone could support such an idiotic proposal.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • This proposal is retarded.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • The person who initiated this discussion is a moron.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • This proposal is crap.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • This proposal is a waste of everyone's time.
rating: 4 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • What a fucking waste this whole discussion has been
rating: I'm a bit torn on this. I don't think this attacks any single editor, just a statement on the discussion. That being said, it could be phrased better.
  • A shitty proposal from a shitty editor.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • The OP is a clueless idiot.
rating: 5 <-- Doesn't add anything to the discussion, just flaming.
  • Please just stop talking, nobody is listening anyway.
rating: 3 <-- This can be useful in situations where WP:IDONTHEARTHAT
  • Just shut up already.
rating: 4 <-- A bit excessive, the wording above is better
  • File your sockpuppet investigation or STFU.
rating: 3 <-- Sockpuppetry is a serious accusation. Telling someone to file a SPI forces them to provide evidence that's reasonable.
  • Shut your fucking mouth before you say something else stupid.
rating: 4 <-- Can be used to tell someone to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Aside form that, no.

admin actions[edit]

  • The blocking admin has a long history of questionable judgements.
rating: 3 <-- with diffs is probably ok
  • The blocking admin needs to be desysopped of this is representative of their decision making abilities.
rating: 3 <-- obviously depends on the severity of the action.
  • The blocking admin is well known as an abusive rule nazi.
rating: 5 <-- just no.
  • 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: 4 <-- unnecessarily inflammatory
  • How could anyone with a brain in their head think it was ok to issue a block like this?
rating: 5 <-- unnecessarily inflammatory

possible trolling[edit]

  • Your comments look more like trolling to me.
rating: 3 <-- depends on the situation
  • Stop trolling or I will find an admin to block you.
rating: 3 <-- also depends on the situation
  • All I can say about this user is "obvious troll is obvious".
rating: 4 <-- Saying someone is a troll by using a meme is just pointless.
  • Go troll somewhere else.
rating: 3 <-- depends
  • Somebody block this troll so those of us that are here in good faith can continue without them.
rating: 4 <-- asking for action against someone is a little more severe

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: 3 <-- not a fan, but depends
  • Comment removed from a conversation and replaced with <redacted> or {{RPA}}
rating 2 <-- I mean it depends on whether it was actually a PA, but
  • Entire discussion closed and/or collapsed using {{hat}} or other such formatting
rating: 3 <-- depends. I would prefer just to collapse the problematic section
  • Comment removed from a conversation and replaced with "redacted twattery, don't post here again" with posting users signature still attached
rating: 5 <-- better ways to do that.
rating: 4 <-- better ways to do that.

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: Warn both users, tell them to get DR, and if it can't be resolved they will probably get topic banned

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: I think that's something minor enough that it should just be ignored. It certainly shouldn't be encouraged, but WP:DFTT comes to mind here.

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: I don't think the block was a bad idea, but I'm not sure if it was the best idea. I would think a RfC/U would be a good choice.

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: While you can't ban someone from your talk page without a formal IBAN, I think such requests should be respected. I don't think this needs further escalation past ANI though.

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: Using a public off-wiki site to attack other editors should receive the same response as if the attacks were made on-wiki. Using Wikipedia email to do the same seals the deal, and makes the situation on-wiki.

Scenario 6[edit]

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: Oh god we're doomed. Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with WP:CIVIL, it's merely how we interpret it and enforce it.


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

  • My general view with civility is that no blanket policy will work, and that each situation needs to be taken as that situation.
  • I think in general I leaned towards less WP:CREEP-y policies, as opposed to strict requirements.