Wikipedia:Asshole John rule
This page is an essay on conduct policy.
|This page in a nutshell: Wikipedia has too many fine-tuned rules, because every system of rule-guided activity is subject to exploitation of technicalities, by people more interested in winning than being part of something. Don't exacerbate this problem.|
|This page contains material that is kept because it is considered humorous. |
It is not meant to be taken seriously.
- Related joke:
A pool player has a heart attack during a tournament and flops onto the table.
The referee rushes over and checks for a pulse. "Oh no, he's dead!"
The other player says, "Dead ... Hmm, isn't that a foul?!"Wikipedia moral: If all you care about is winning on a technicality, you're being an AJ.
A local pool league had a nit-picky rule in its manual that seemed pointless to state, like you'd have to have brain damage to need it spelled out for you. It was informally called "the Asshole John rule".
The original wording of the rules could, if willfully misinterpreted, result in an exploitable loophole under rare conditions. (Sound familiar?) A player with a history of unsportsmanlike rulebook-thumping (especially to get a declared "victory" on a technicality), predictably exploited this. He was technically right, as a semantic matter, but was clearly violating the spirit of the rules.
Rather than ever have this come up again, the league board added a codicil that virtually no one would think necessary, and nicknamed it the "Asshole John Rule". While the rulebook didn't call it that, players sure did. It likely irritated this John, but did have the effect of forestalling most later attempts (by anyone) at similar warping of the rules to try to mean what they were clearly not meant to. "Do you want another Asshole John rule?"
Unfortunately, that only works in something like a pool league.
AJ rules don't work here; they're pointless red tape
Wikipedia has lots and lots of AJ rules – too many. Due to WP:Civility policy, we're not allowed to name them after our own AJs, so we just keep getting more of them. The corrective and prophylactic effects of public shaming are absent.
This is obviously an instruction creep problem, increasing the unnecessary bureaucracy level of Wikipedia. We all have a duty to not make it worse. In particular, do not propose new rules in policies and guidelines to address a particular narrow dispute that is obviously lame (see below for alternatives).
Every new Asshole John rule is a turd plopped on our lawn.
Don't be an AJ
An admonition against trying to twist a Wikipedia rule to mean something different than its intent can be found in WP:Policies and guidelines, WP:Consensus, WP:Gaming the system, WP:Wikilawyering, WP:Wikipedia is not about winning, and many other pages here.
If you're doing it, you are making a mistake. While process is important in a project of this scope, if you live for expanding and exploiting process here then you are really not here to write an encyclopedia but are trying to play some kind of political simulation game. The community will eventually tire of you and kick you out of our "league". That's what eventually happened to the original Asshole John.
Don't help create more pointless AJ rules
If you encounter wikilawyering, system-gaming, pettifoggery, and other Asshole John behavior, call it what it is: disruptive editing. Don't demand a new micro-nitpicky rule that no one really needs, just to address an AJ. The community won't actually put up with jackassery from someone indefinitely. We already have behavioral policies, and they are enough to deal with the matter.
Try to "keep the lawn clean": If something is being misinterpreted, in good faith or otherwise, try a slight wording change to prevent that, instead of adding a new rule or an explanation of an existing one. (See this one-word tweak and the edit summary about why it was needed, for example.)