Wikipedia:Common sense on courtesy

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Wikipedia has many rules. Instead of following every rule, it is acceptable to use common sense as you go about editing. Being too wrapped up in rules can cause you to lose perspective, so there are times when it is better to ignore a rule (WP:IAR). However, ignoring a rule or editing in such a manner as will cost another their time is generally, incivil and unprofessional. This essay is a discussion of a few little things which can save a lot of others their precious time. In short, it's about exercising a bit of forethought in aid of common courtesy, such as you might like to receive yourself.

Common sense on courtesy[edit]

Or Give fellow editors a break!

Courtesy to others is important in any enterprise, no less one with hundreds of thousands of contributors. Because we each have no idea of how many people will have to evaluate what was done and why, it is important to formulate any edit summary where article prose changes aren't the major change with especial care.

Such edits are as a class anything involving applying any maintenance tag, for those tags may adversely impact the time of many others if hung without regard to the needs of editors who come along later. You can't give people back lost Leisure time so formulating such edit summaries clearly has a very large multiple, in their cumulative effect on the time spent by the many—in short, the many editors coming along later need to understand why you judged something needed done—and whether it's reasonable now for them to judge such can be cleared if you haven't. They need two things, When and Why, or your action wastes their time—a Very Bad Thing.

Fortunately, the edit summary is easy, so "one" Right Thing is to just include the template name inside a single pair of Curly-braces ("{...}") with a clear summary following:

  • "++{refimprove}, some brief rationale following"
    • Including the tag name and at least the leading brace "{" allows easy searching in the edit history—the trailing brace ("}") is actually an impediment to wide text searching but aesthetically nice, so 'tis added or not by "your option" and tastes.
      • Having the leading "{" allows an editor to find any tagging edit summary in the history.
      • The tag name allows an editor to easily find the specific tag type hung, and so when and hopefully why!
    • including a "gripe rationale" gives others a clue as to the state of the article as you judged it.
    • Both help others understand your concerns and judge whether things are better enough to remove such taggings... for it's almost a certainty, you won't patrol and check back to clear such yourself... though we all should. The historical record is most of us forget and don't. (So we're human, this is news?)

A talk link, if things found in the article are such that a longer explanation, will help others can be very important. With many tags, not initiating a talk page section with "your gripes" is a Very Bad Thing—why bother if you can't be bothered? Who can read your mind later? So making your mind known is really the important thing, for you are not fixing the problems but crying "The Emperor has no clothes" and expecting and asking others to spend their leisure time by hanging a tag.

This new section on the talk should be a list of specific problems, preferably numbered or bulleted a single kind of problem or your prose rationale describing why something is in need of such controversial tagging.

  • Keep in mind many editors think any Wikipedia maintenance templates used detract strongly from the professionalism of the encyclopedia, and so their use is always controversial and to an extent, confrontational. So writing up your note clearly with deficiencies people can "check off" is highly recommended as "a good idea too".

While there is no doubt resorting to a talk page post is usually best for large changes, it is important for courtesy's sake to also connect the dots by linking the talkpage section title you initiated. For those seeing summaries in watchpages, these new sections should also be documented in the article edit summary as an active link in the edit summary.

Properly adding the same section link and inside the tag is also very courteous, and far more effective than just wallpapering with default plain vanilla tags parameters—making both links gets to be easy with a little practice.

  • Most maintenance tags expressly allow you to specify such:
    • e.g. in an Edit Summary: "++{refimprove}}, see reasons on /nowiki> [[talk:This article#Refimprove tagging on</nowiki> date={{subst:CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{subst:CURRENTYEAR}} ]] "
    • e.g. in a template:
{{mergeto|List of foo|Talk:List of Foo#Merge in GaGa Glops proposal 2008-{{MONTH}}
|Think this term too unpromising to ever be made a standalone article. 
 This page should be made into a redirect to section of [[List of Foo]] article
| Otherwise, this page needs a project to adopt it and really work at researching the topic
  • Use the date= parameter aggressively when hanging tags for if you don't someone else has to come behind and make an edit using AWB and using up their leisure time because you didn't for the auto-categorizing built in to even the {{fact}} type templates:
    • This is really easy using the extra text: "| {{subst: DATE}} " inside the template. It formats things correctly for you. So remembering those fifteen extra characters... saves others their time.

See also[edit]