Wikipedia:Butterfly effect

This page contains material which is considered humorous. It may also contain advice.
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A beautiful butterfly peacefully editing, blissfully unaware that it's about to cause a shitstorm

In the chaotic world of Wikipedia, the butterfly effect is often set into motion when one or more editors are sensitive to small changes in the environment, leading to large differences of opinion that may ultimately result in a fiery shitstorm. Though individual editors are largely deterministic they are in some respects stochastic, and the large number of possible interactions between different editors comprise a nonlinear system that is wholly unpredictable. For this reason, great care must be taken when dealing with even the most seemingly innocuous situations in order to avoid unintended consequences.

If you sense a sudden rise or drop in temperature, or the wind begins to blow the other way, it is likely that the shit is about to hit the fan, so unless you brought an umbrella it's important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong.

If another editor has led you here it's probably for the best if you step away from editing for the time being, enjoy one of your favourite beverages and think about how you might resolve any dispute you may be involved in, or think twice before getting involved, because things can take a turn for the worse surprisingly quickly.


Mahātmā Gandhi, one of the few people never to have experienced WP:ANI

Wikipedia talk pages are not at all like YouTube comments sections, where even the most inoffensive posts are often met with aggressive, derogatory and foul-mouthed responses, because civility is part of Wikipedia's code of conduct and one of its five pillars. Moreover, most Wikipedians tend to observe the Golden Rule (also knows as the law of reciprocity) — the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. However, it's human nature to sometimes reciprocate in kind, and when we take offense at something it's all too easy to fight fire with fire.

In the words of Mahātmā Gandhi, "an eye for an eye will leave everyone blind", so when you are faced with incivility it's probably for the best if you just ignore it. Having said that, you'll probably still want to admonish them in some way, perhaps even take things as far as one of the so-called drama boards. After all, you're one of the good guys, right? But be warned; it's all-too-easy for this approach to backfire despite your best intentions. It's also worth noting that there are contentious editors who will deliberately try to goad you into reacting so that you're the one who ends up being punished, so don't take the bait.

If you feel that you absolutely have to do something then try to aim for the middle ground; leave an appropriate warning on their talk page and if their behaviour continues to affect other editors rest assured that they will get their comeuppance and, most importantly, you won't get dragged through the mud along with them.


An administrator explaining WP:CIVIL

Many Wikipedia editors believe that, as an encyclopedia, the content should be very dry, and some of those editors fail to differentiate between article space and talk pages. The result of this is that good humour is often mistaken for incivility. Editors with a poor sense of humour, though rarely amused, are usually still aware when something funny is going on and interpret this as ridicule, which along with righteous indignation causes them to forget to assume good faith.

You should also bear in mind that some editors are on the autism spectrum, and may require careful handling. One should be forgiving if they miss the joke. Conversely, if you are one of those editors and you're easily confused by witty repartee it's important for you to try extra-hard to assume good faith.


Hierarchy of editor subservience

One of the most difficult areas of dispute resolution is dealing with The Administration. While uninvolved third-party admins are invaluable, if you're having conflicts with a particular admin even the smallest perturbation can have enormous knock-on effects. For this reason it is highly recommended that editors try to remain mindful of the "hierarchy of editor subservience" and aim at the top during disputes. Resist the urge to point out that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious and that, in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue. Do not attempt to refute their arguments or contradict them using logic, reasoning and/or supporting evidence. It is when backed into a corner that admins are at their most dangerous.

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