Wikipedia:Avoid instruction creep
This is an explanatory supplement to the procedural policy regarding policies and guidelines.
|This page in a nutshell: When editing guidance, keep in mind the risk of increasingly detailed instructions resulting in bloated pages that new editors find intimidating and experienced editors ignore.|
Avoid instruction creep to keep Wikipedia policy and guideline pages easy to understand. These pages explain community norms for all readers, especially those unfamiliar with how Wikipedia operates. Excessive instruction has the opposite effect, creating pages that nobody reads and intimidate new editors.
Citing to this page without further explanation does not adequately support a deletion or reversion. Additional instruction can be helpful when it succinctly states community consensus regarding a significant point.
Over time, individual good faith edits grow to become very long and complicated directions separated over many pages. This makes the guidance less coherent and less inviting. And, as fewer and fewer editors read and understand overgrown pages, Wikipedia space content will increasingly drift from actual community consensus. To avoid this outcome, project pages are meant to be broad in scope, not covering every minute aspect of their subject matter.
Keeping policies and guidelines to the point is the most effective way of preserving transparency. Substantive additions to policy should generally be rejected unless:
- There is a real problem that needs solving, not just a hypothetical or perceived problem.
- The proposal, if implemented, is likely to make a real, positive difference.
- All implied requirements have a clear consensus.
All instruction should be as clear as possible. Ensure that additions are placed in a logical context, and do not obscure the meaning of the surrounding text.
It is usually better for a policy or guideline to be too lax than too strict. Content not clearly prohibited by any policy is still subject to editor discretion. Consensus-building on article talk pages can be undermined by an over-strict policy, as an editor who wants to follow it literally can claim that the issue is already decided.
If you just think that you have good advice for Wikipedians, consider adding it to an essay.
Since things often "creep in" without scrutiny, even longstanding instructions should be subject to review. The amount of time an instruction has been present does not strengthen consensus behind it, though one should be wary whenever removing a longstanding part of policy.
If an instruction does not make sense or does not seem to describe accepted practice, check the page history to see when it was added and how it may have changed over time. Then check the talk page and talk archive, to see whether there was any related discussion. If you think the instruction lacks community consensus, either make your case on the talk page or boldly remove it, giving your rationale in the edit summary. If you meet with disagreement, discuss the matter further. Those who oppose an outright deletion may still be open to changes.
Policies, essays, and guidelines
- Wikipedia:Asshole John rule
- Wikipedia:Avoid writing redundant essays
- Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up your nose
- Wikipedia:Notability (mailboxes) (humor)
- Wikipedia:Overlink crisis
- Wikipedia:Practical process
- Wikipedia:Requests for process
- Wikipedia:The rules are principles
- Wikipedia:Silence does not imply consent when drafting new policies
- Wikipedia:Too much detail
Essays encouraging redundancy
- Criticism of Wikipedia#Excessive rule-making
- Feature creep
- Instruction creep
- Iron law of oligarchy
- Parkinson's law
- Red tape
- Scope creep
- Template:Simple help page (edit notice)