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No obscure corner of Wikipedia is safe from this user's rabid agenda-driven crusade to censor spelling errors.

It is not necessary to use the singular they when referring to this user. The masculine personal pronouns will do nicely.

How much disruption must we tolerate in the name of peace and editor retention? Something's wrong here.

WP:BRD works well when you use it in good faith, no matter how many times in 24 hours you do so. Like anything else, it can be used as a weapon in bad faith. That problem is not with BRD but with those users. Promote BRD to guideline and deal with the bad faith users who abuse it. Eliminate the context-blind 3RR rule, which is as ineffective as mandatory sentencing and for exactly the same reason.

Perfect is the enemy of good. And better yet is the enemy of better. Don't oppose small improvements because they fail to solve the problem 100%; the result is usually no improvement at all. Small improvements can be followed by other small improvements.

"And so it was that later, as the miller told his tale, that her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale."
Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher



Barnstars (high-speed connection recommended)
^^^^ just kidding ^^^^
Original Barnstar Hires.png The Original Barnstar
For your much appreciated and diligent work on the 2014 Isla Vista killings article...Thanks! Keep up the good work! Isaidnoway (talk) 22:18, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Brilliant Idea Barnstar Hires.png The Brilliant Idea Barnstar
Thank you for your addition to Wikipedia:Smurrayinchester's signature tutorial. It will save us all a lot of writing the next time someone asks about this at the Teahouse. w.carter-Talk 13:56, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Barnstar of Diligence Hires.png The Barnstar of Diligence
For you diligent work in fixing all the cite templates in Shooting of Michael Brown - Cwobeel (talk) 22:07, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
Citation Barnstar Hires.png The Citation Barnstar
Thank you for your time and effort converting a massive number of citations to list-defined references at Shooting of Michael Brown. Your work improving the encyclopedia is much appreciated! - MrX 16:38, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Brilliant Idea Barnstar Hires.png The Brilliant Idea Barnstar
Great idea to revisit the ref tags again after more contributions. Tikihouse (talk) 17:20, 30 August 2014 (UTC)
CleanupBarnstar.PNG The Cleanup Barnstar
For your walking behind other editors cleaning up refs that get messy. Thank-you. – JBarta (talk) 19:58, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Working Man's Barnstar.png The Hard Worker's Barnstar
For all your hard work on citations. Every time I check the revision history at Shooting of Michael Brown, I see that you have been busy keeping the citations and references up to date. Your hard work in this area is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!-- Isaidnoway (talk) 14:36, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Civility Barnstar Hires.png The Civility Barnstar
For your hard work helping other contributors at the help desk.
Tom Morris (talk) 00:51, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Editor of the week barnstar.svg Editor of the Week
Your ongoing efforts to improve the encyclopedia have not gone unnoticed: You have been selected as Editor of the Week for your work on Wikipedia articles. Thank you for the great contributions! (courtesy of the Wikipedia Editor Retention Project)
Original Barnstar Hires.png The Original Barnstar
Your contributions to the Shooting of Walter Scott, your repeated assistance and advice, your willingness to mediate complicated discussions, and your amazing ability to tolerate this user has earned you multiple barnstars, but let's just say this one counts for all of them. ―Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 17:41, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Team Barnstar Hires.png The Teamwork Barnstar
For your indefatigable patience with me and others. - Cwobeel (talk) 17:55, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
CopyeditorStar7.PNG The Copyeditor's Barnstar
It's those little edits for clarity and technical fixes that keep WP running. Keep it up! NickCT (talk) 18:47, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Barnstar of Diligence Hires.png The Barnstar of Diligence
Great job on coordinating a sensible and well organised discussion and voting regarding notification colours! Sam Walton (talk) 10:46, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
Special Barnstar Hires.png The Special Barnstar
I was extremely impressed by the way you had set up the notification discussions & voting,

It was well organised and you were also very patient and helpful throughout so well done & thank you :)
Keep up the great work!, –Davey2010Talk 14:32, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Team Barnstar Hires.png The Teamwork Barnstar
I know you have one already, but between Hillary Clinton and 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting‎, you've been nothing but cooperative and good-humored with edits and talk page discussions. As promised, and by the powers foolishly vested in my by Wikipedia Common Code §1 ¶17, I present you with a fine barnstar six inches long containing smaller barnstars: one is blue, the other red, a third green, another purple, and some other hues. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 06:42, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
WikiDefender Barnstar Hires.png The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
Thank you for the ways in which you are a diligent defender of wiki policies and guidelines - and particularly the point: How often do you edit against your own bias? that you posted on your user page. I have seen you do that a number of times and it's a particularly telling example of the way you're a great editor. Thanks so much for all that you do. CaroleHenson (talk) 19:53, 24 October 2016 (UTC)
Gluehbirne 2 db.jpg The Brilliant Idea Barnstar
For coming up with the idea of a List of Consensuses, and maintaining it as a very helpful addition to Talk:Donald Trump. MelanieN (talk) 16:22, 27 January 2017 (UTC)
Patience barnstar.png The Patience Barnstar
For keeping a level head and striving to be a better editor!—D'Ranged 1 | VTalk :  03:33, 4 October 2017 (UTC)

Who is Mandruss, anyway??[edit]

There are billions of people who are not me. This is one example.

I am a middle-aged male who has nothing better to do than sit around editing Wikipedia articles.

I was born in a log cabin that I built with my own two hands.[citation needed]

I believe I am a lesbian trapped in a man's body.

I once completed all the requirements for a private pilot certificate. I failed the FAA final check ride, and decided to give it up. Great experience, though.

I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least I'm not a spoon.

I once skydived, twice. (skydove?)

Currently in the Jehovah's Witness Protection Program.

My idols range from Albert Einstein to Steven Wright. This is not to imply that Steven Wright is not very smart, or that Albert Einstein was not very funny.

My interests include history, various sciences, aviation, humor, furry mammals, designing unreadable CAPTCHAs, and musing about the future of civilization.

More seriously, for anyone who cares ...[edit]

I'm just a somewhat competent mid-level editor, and I don't currently aspire to be more than that.

Recommended dosage

I strongly believe in the fundamental Wikipedia concept of collaboration, and I tend to show little tolerance for editors who do not collaborate, especially if they have some experience. Collaboration does not mean editing an article at the same time as other editors. It means discussion, give-and-take, and respect for consensus. I fully support the essay, Wikipedia:Process is important. Wikipedia behavior policies and guidelines are effectively optional, and I opt in.

I believe that a certain level of humility is important at Wikipedia as well as in life; at the same time, I am often quite assertive in a discussion.

I work hard to know what I don't know—to know the limits of my Wikipedia knowledge—to avoid venturing too far into areas where I lack competence. I often fail at that.

My greatest editing strengths lie in matters of form, not substance (I do not create articles, for example). I believe that matters of form are important in an encyclopedia, and I feel that Wikipedia gives them short shrift.

While editing has come to occupy quite a lot of my free time, I try not to become so invested in Wikipedia that I would find it difficult to quit. I created a personal userbox, mostly as a reminder to myself:

Milky Way Galaxy.jpg
This user is aware that, in the end, it's only Wikipedia.


Assorted musings about Wikipedia. You're welcome to respond on my talk page, especially if you can articulately disagree with me or enlighten me. These are some of my opinions as of today, 19 October 2017 (UTC).

Culture of disrespect[edit]

Following is a community consensus, as I understand it, such as it can be determined from the relatively few vocal editors:

It would be too restrictive, repressive, unnecessary, and/or impossible (depending on who you ask) to require people to treat others with common respect if they want to edit Wikipedia. To be fair, this would require us to define very precisely what constitutes a violation, covering every conceivable situation in detail, resulting in a policy that would resemble the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and would be about as usable. It would be wrong to ever require someone to leave unless we could point to policy fragments that clearly and specifically prohibited precisely what they said in precisely those situations. How could they know they were crossing the line if the line was unclear? We may be routinely disrespectful, but we must never be unjust.

Besides, the definition of common respect is not universal. There are cultural differences; even within a culture, disrespect to one might not be disrespect to another. How would we resolve these differences in a way that does not discriminate? Thus, we have no choice but to apply the most liberal, least restrictive standard anywhere in the English-speaking world.

Finally, Wikipedia does not censor speech, except when we do. An editor should be forgiven for telling another to "go fuck yourself", if the other deserved it. It's just harmless words anyway. It is impossible to know whether the community feels that anyone ever deserves to be told to go fuck themselves, so we must accept the viewpoint of a majority of a miniscule slice of the editing population, those few who care to stand up in a very contentious situation and voice an opinion.

All those problems aside, imposing such a standard would cost the project a large number of experienced editors who have no control over their behavior—hey, we are what we are, no use fighting it—and the project would suffer terribly without them. The project might actually fail before it had time to replace that lost experience. Add to that the large number of new editors who would be forced to leave before they even got started. Large numbers of potentially good editors being kept away or driven off by the rancorous atmosphere? Prove it.

The culture of disrespect must be accepted because that's just how most people are. If any of us find it offensive, we just need to grow thicker skins; it's not such a big deal. Or, if we can't do that, no one is forcing us to edit Wikipedia.

Do you buy it? —May 2016.

Development and evolution of this thinking[edit]

Copied from User talk:Jimbo Wales.

{ping|SageRad} (RageSad?), I lack the reading speed to read all of this, but I do share your general sentiments with regard to toxic environment. You're not going to change people's core personalities by reasoning with them, and remember that we are self-governed and "we" includes a large number of editors that oppose our positions. We have no idea whether they are actually representative of a majority of the whole community, since one's opinions count for nothing unless they are prepared to stand up in behavior-related meta discussions and take some heat. To my mind, that ensures that the most aggressive among the wider community will determine the rules (written and otherwise), and they will be rules that tend to tolerate aggression (or routinely forgive it and make excuses for it, which is essentially the same thing). Thus the toxic environment is the natural result of the system we use to set behavior standards. I strongly suspect a sociologist would support this view.
I believe that the situation will change (1) when WMF takes a stand and intervenes, simply out of the principle that this kind of behavior is fundamentally counter to the project's goals, or (2) through gradual attrition and evolution. I think the latter is more likely, and it would certainly be less traumatic for the community. Perhaps my little personal essay will have some beneficial effect in that regard, without being disruptive. ―Mandruss  15:50, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

I do not believe that this is inevitable. There are certainly such feedback loops as you outline, like those who are willing to spend endless time gaming a system to control it, often do end up controlling it. Those who have less scruples often succeed in a Machiavellian sense. I do not see any way that attrition will change it, though. In fact it's more the opposite -- the attrition of good editors with good and civil manners is what i see, thus hardening the current situation. Thanks for your comment. SageRad (talk) 21:34, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Re attrition, my sense of hope is based in the premise that the anger-laden, hypercynical old-timers are the product of an era where things were a lot rougher than they are today, if you can imagine such a thing. I wasn't here then, but I've heard mention of it. Either that, or they were simply tough enough to survive it. ―Mandruss  21:46, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for hearing me. I appreciate the essay you wrote and linked to above. I still think that we can expect people to treat each other with a basic respect, and somehow change the culture to enforce that reasonably. I think the existing policies are adequate for that, but we need an unbiased forum for judging behavior that will really stand up to the task. The rule of the most aggressive is not the best way to determine the way we write knowledge down within our culture. We need to actually apply and enforce the policies that we have. SageRad (talk) 00:53, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
unbiased forum for judging behavior - Yeah, there's the rub. Who decides what's unbiased? ―Mandruss  01:03, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
The Wikimedia Foundation. --Bob K31416 (talk) 02:39, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Can you elaborate? Are you saying WMF already decides what is unbiased, or that you feel they should intervene? ―Mandruss  02:49, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Intervene. --Bob K31416 (talk) 02:51, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Come to think of it, what we think about it doesn't matter a whit. If it did, it would be subject to community consensus, and guess which way that would go. If they did it, it would be no matter what we thought. Anyway ... I just took a shot at kind of playing that intervention out in my mind, including its off-wiki effects, and writing a comment about what I saw. It was so ugly I've decided not to post it. But think Armageddon. On that basis, I'm withdrawing any support for that that I once harbored. Attrition and evolution. In the meantime, Zen. ―Mandruss  03:32, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Mandruss, that is a good question but it's not a conundrum with no answer. It really is possible to have judgment of editors based on their behavior with little bias compared to the very blatant bias that we have now. It's not impossible. Please don't make it seem like it's a fool's errand. Sure, i understand that there is relativity in how everyone judges everyone else, due to different points of view. That's a given in human social life. But it is most certainly possible to have a forum for judging that is generally accepted as fair and unbiased. You do have to pay attention to those who see the bias and are vocal about it, and truly wish to reform. It's perhaps similar to issues with the justice system and policing in the U.S. People are speaking up about bias in the system, and some people hear them while other people are more like "Shut up! Everything's fine!" -- Well we need to be like the people who hear the critique, and not the ones who want to shut up the critique. Human social interaction is a multi-node complex network of various points of view, but it's possible to find nodes that are meaningful, and to find general consensus about fairness if you're open to the critiques as well as the yes men. SageRad (talk) 12:43, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
The aggressive vocal majority will defeat anything that would require them to modify their behavior. Using very legitimate self-governance process. Full stop. ―Mandruss  13:05, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Maybe, unless others organize and apply enough pressure to cause change. Is this an age-old question about governance in general? Also the word "legitimate" here -- defeating integrity by established rules may be legitimate in one sense but not in another sense. In a "by the book" sense but not in a moral or good sense. Anyway, do you think we are trapped in a local maximum, trapped in the current state, and therefore unable to attain improvement because we're "locked in" by the existing power structure having become entrenched? That is where i think we're at. SageRad (talk) 13:12, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
unless others organize - That means mobilizing some part of the non-aggressive silent majority. How would you do that? For the most part they aren't even watching pages like this one and the Village Pumps, so you would have to find some way to contact them and solicit their support. I believe that would violate WP:CANVASS, seeking out a particular group specifically because you believe they will support your position.
In a "by the book" sense but not in a moral or good sense. - Again, morality and goodness are subject to community consensus. There is no absolute morality at Wikipedia or anywhere else. Just thousands of years of wars between factions who each believed their morality was absolute.
do you think we are trapped in a local maximum, trapped in the current state, and therefore unable to attain improvement because we're "locked in" by the existing power structure having become entrenched? - Yes. Although I'm not sure of the precise definition of "power structure". They are simply a self-reinforcing majority in a self-government. ―Mandruss  13:22, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I can suggest one simple change that might help. WP:CPUSH should be renamed polite POV-pushing, and it should be made absolutely clear that polite POV-pushing, embodying as it does the refusal to heed consensus, is inherently uncivil. A lot of the "incivility" identified in discussions on this page stems from exactly that problem: people getting burned out defending policy-based content against the relentless pressure of polite POV-pushers. Some of the complainants here are actually topic banned due to exactly that, and their complaints of "incivility" read like attempts to get another kick at the can by instituting a policy of WP:MAKETHENASTYMANGOAWAY. Guy (Help!) 11:22, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

people getting burned out defending policy-based content - Maybe my experience is too limited, but my feeling is that the solution to that is WP:CONSENSUS, WP:DE, and WP:ANI, not hostile harassment outside process. The former may take longer, I don't know. ANI may be "broken", but not completely so in my experience, and I see people trying to do it right. I do believe that ongoing, repeated DE (as determined at ANI) should be dealt with more harshly, and that would eliminate much of the perceived need for the other approach. It shouldn't take two years and hundreds of editor-hours (article talk + ANI + AN3) to indeff one chronic disrupter.
In other words, I think the focus should be on WP:CONSENSUS, not content policy. The point is not that they persistently violate content policy, but that they persistently fail to respect consensus, which should arise out of content policy. This makes the ANI complaint fairly straightforward. Here's the clear consensus. Here's the clear violation of it. Done. No content debates at ANI. If WP:CONSENSUS is not sufficient to protect content, Wikipedia fails and we all go home.
To emphasize this relationship, WP:CONSENSUS could be promoted to Wikipedia's only super-policy. All other policy application, including IAR, is, or should be, subject to consensus. This is not say that explicit consensus must be established before we can do anything, only that I can't say that my unilateral IAR application trumps your guideline x because IAR has policy status. If you dispute my IAR, I have to get consensus for it. ―Mandruss  11:59, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
And when they have already been through that? And on to ARbCom? And they didn't get what they want so they keep on and on and on about it and eventually get topic banned? And they decide that this is all bullying so they come here and complain about how the evil admins are oppressing them? Guy (Help!) 13:41, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
It shouldn't take two years and hundreds of editor-hours (article talk + ANI + AN3) to indeff one chronic disrupter. So fix that. You'll have my wholehearted support, and likely a lot more. You can't say that the approach I described in my second paragraph is being used much, and that's the key element, in addition to faster escalation of block duration, and elimination of all this ideological aversion to indeff.
Oh, and we also need to eliminate "preventative not punitive". If they disruptively failed to respect consensus, the fact they have stopped while the ANI complaint is in progress shouldn't earn them a pass. Punitive is preventative by virtue of its deterrent value. ―Mandruss  13:42, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
(I note that my arguments just above would seem inconsistent with my discussion with SageRad, in which I referred to the aggressive vocal majority. This is me looking at the problem from both perspectives. And until Guy's comments above, I had never seen a calm, unhostile, unsnarky, reasoned argument from that camp, so I had assumed they were not capable of giving one.) ―Mandruss  14:39, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

The p&g paradox[edit]

We really have no community consensus as to the role of policy and guideline, a consensus that should form the bedrock for everything else. Some will say that p&g guide behavior, so we can speak of violations of it. Others say that p&g reflect behavior, and a p or g should be updated if there are enough editors ignoring it or unaware of it (in that case it follows that speaking of violations impedes the community's ability to change consensus). Ample support for both concepts can be found in policy and common practice. I have never understood how both can be true, but that's what we appear to have. If the paradox has been explained anywhere, I've yet to run across it. —October 2017.

Changing your mind, changing your !vote[edit]

Are you prepared to change your mind in a discussion? Or, are you surrendering to confirmation bias, failing to consider opposing arguments fairly, being unwilling to show fallibility, and/or putting your need to WIN first? I suspect it's the latter in almost all cases.

(I also believe, with no scientific basis that I've seen, that our brain structure and function make it difficult to change our minds. If that's so, both psychology and neuroscience are involved. Going even deeper into an area where I don't belong, our psychology is probably just a manifestation of our brain structure and function anyway.)

If your opposition presents stronger arguments, and you recognize that, do you change your !vote? Or, do you simply go silent, hoping the closer reads your silence as "I'm right, but I'm not going to argue with you anymore", or that you got distracted elsewhere and never returned? Which better serves the project?

I almost never see someone else change their !vote, and that seems wrong to me. I probably change mine about 5 percent of the time, and I'm working on increasing that number. I am not perfect, and I am not immune to these tendencies. —May 2016.

Selective burden of proof[edit]

Avoid placing the burden of proof on your debate opponents, unless you are prepared to self-impose that burden in similar situations. Or even in that situation—they have not "proven" their assertion true, but have you "proven" it false?

We all make judgments based on instinct, experience, and reasoning, and in many cases it is not reasonable to demand that your opponent produce "proof" of their assertions. If they spent the hours of work required to assemble such proof, even where it's possible to do so, many would then spend a few minutes finding holes in the proof, and this could go on forever. To one who uses this tactic, no amount of proof would be adequate.

This is another example of unfair play, conscious or unconscious, that serves our need to WIN more than it serves the project. —May 2016.

TL;DR tactics[edit]

This intersects the essay, Wikipedia:Too long; didn't read, but adds some personal opinion and necessary directness.

If one summarizes for conciseness, their argument is criticized as flawed and uncompelling, the necessary gaps in it located and exploited to advantage. If they take the time to craft the more complete argument, the same people will often dismiss it as tl;dr.

Such practice is bad-faith and unethical—either way it goes, you score a debate point in the minds of many readers. As such, it is counter to the project's goals and interests.

I believe that some are doing this out of unconscious habit. But they fail to self-reflect, recognize the problem, and fix it, which is no more excusable than using the tactics consciously.

And some are surely doing it consciously, believing that the end justifies the means, this rooted in their Machiavellian (un)ethical systems. There is no Wikipedia policy against these tactics, therefore they are fair play. Incorrect.

I never invoke tl;dr in a serious discussion. I'm a slow reader; if it was too long for me to read, I simply leave it for others to respond to. —May 2016.

Picking the low-hanging fruit[edit]

Scenario: Jack's debate opponent, Jill, makes three points in one comment/post: A, B, and C. A and B are pretty strong, and Jack can't think of good counters for them. C is easier to counter, so Jack counters it in good faith.

If a reader feels that Jack's counter seems stronger than C, Jack scores a debate point in that reader's eyes. If the reader does not have a lot of time (or has other things on their mind), they may miss the fact that A and B were not countered, and that Jill has therefore scored two debate points. This may affect the reader's !vote. If there is a closer, it may affect the close as well.

Don't pick the low-hanging fruit. If you have no good counter for some of the points, acknowledge that in your reply. Or, don't reply at all.

Finally, Jack should consider what it means that he can't counter A or B. Maybe he should change his position? We should work to keep an open mind in debates. It's not about winning, or proving how infallibly astute and intelligent we are, but reaching a resolution that is in the best interest of the project. —May 2016.


If you see it as your mission to protect article content from the POV overzealousness of conservatives who don't care about Wikipedia policy, you are as POV as they are. If you see it as your mission to protect article content from the POV overzealousness of liberals who don't care about Wikipedia policy, you are as POV as they are. If you see it as your mission to protect article content from anyone who doesn't care about Wikipedia policy, you are a good Wikipedia editor. How often do you edit against your own bias? —June 2016.

A principle selectively applied, only when it serves your purpose, is not a principle but a weapon. —October 2016.

High intelligence is counterproductive in the absence of wisdom. —November 2016.

Neutrality looks like bias to those who don't recognize their own bias. —December 2016.

Speaking very emphatically, always with 100% unwavering certainty, does not make one more convincing. If anything, less so. No human can be that certain of anything in this infinitely complex world. The words "in my view" are golden. —January 2017.

Committed identity[edit]

Committed identity: ff4f253988dfce3626f0eac291047630a8947082156d977125f875697fb18a37911035cdad58725dfa7c1888dca5ebb6e1198ee35daad0cffb244ec939cd598c is a SHA-512 commitment to this user's real-life identity.