Wikipedia:Don't bludgeon the process

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bludgeon: To beat powerfully with an object of great mass.

In Wikipedia terms, bludgeoning is where someone attempts to force their point of view by the sheer volume of comments, such as contradicting every viewpoint that is different from their own. Typically, this means making the same argument over and over, to different people. This can happen on a talk page, deletion discussion, or in any discussion at Wikipedia. It is undesirable and considered a form of disruptive editing.

To falsely accuse someone of bludgeoning is considered incivil, and should be avoided.


Discussions are for building consensus, not for confronting everyone who disagrees with you.

Bludgeoning is when a user dominates the conversation in order to persuade others to their point of view. It is typically seen at articles for deletion, request for comment, the administrator incidents noticeboard, an article talk page, or even another user's talk page. A person replies to many "!votes" or comments, arguing against that particular person's point of view. The person attempts to pick apart many comments from others with the goal of getting each person to change their "!vote". They always have to have the last word and may ignore any evidence that is counter to their point of view. It is most common with someone who feels they have a stake in the outcome, that they own the subject matter, or are here to right great wrongs. While they may have some valid points, these get lost due to the dominating behavior.

Everyone gets to participate in discussions[edit]

Everyone should have the chance to express their views within reasonable limits. Sometimes, a long comment or replying multiple times is perfectly acceptable or needed. When someone takes persistence to a level that overwhelms or intimidates others, or limits others' ability to interject their opinions without worrying about being verbally attacked, then this activity has risen to a level of abuse. This can be considered an act of bad faith as the purpose is to win at any cost.

Tagging !votes with {{spa}} is not bludgeoning. Replying to many questions that are directed to you is perfectly fine. Briefly restating a point once is fine if you feel you didn't communicate it well the first time. Participating fully isn't a bad thing: dominating and nit-picking others' comments is.

No one is obligated to satisfy you[edit]

No badgering!

Wikipedia discussions are about forming a consensus, not convincing everyone to agree. Consensus does not require unanimity, and attempting to argue the community into submission tends to backfire. The fact that you have a question, concern, or objection does not necessarily mean that others are obligated to answer, much less satisfy you with their answers. Asking for a clarification is fine, as long as you aren't demanding. Offering a rebuttal to a comment is also fine, although arguing repetitively is not. Do not badger editors to restate something just because you would have worded it differently. No one should try to police others' viewpoints. It may be taken as especially disruptive to attempt stalling out the consensus-building process with repeated unreasonable demands for re-explanation of that which has already been clearly explained, as if incapable of "getting it". This "sealioning" behavior pattern has sometimes resulted in topic-bans and even indefinite blocks.

Dealing with being accused of bludgeoning the process[edit]

If you have been accused of bludgeoning the process, then take a look at the discussion and try to be objective before you reply. If your comments take up one-third of the total text or you have replied to half the people who disagree with you, you are likely bludgeoning the process and should step back and let others express their opinions, as you have already made your points clear. If the idea of "losing" in the discussion makes you angry, likely you are too involved and need to step back. Anyone can get too verbose and intense in a discussion; it happens. For RfCs, RfAs, AfDs, and other poll-type discussions, just walk away and wait until it is over. You have already made your points clear and hammering them is disruptive. Otherwise, you may be subjecting yourself to disciplinary action. The "winner" in a discussion isn't the person that talks the most. Consensus is developed by multiple, clear and concisely expressed views that are based in policy, not walls of text written by one person.

Here are some things you may want to consider:

  1. Each time you use an argument, it becomes weaker. Continuing to argue the same point doesn't reinforce it and can be annoying to others, appearing combative rather than consensus seeking.
  2. When you dominate a conversation by replying many times, others may see you as attempting to "own" an article or the subject at hand. This is a type of tendentious editing.
  3. It is not your responsibility to point out every flaw in everyone's comments. If their opinion is so obviously flawed, give other readers the benefit of the doubt in figuring that out on their own.
  4. You have the right to give your opinion in any open discussion, so long as you aren't doing it in a way that limits others from doing the same.

Improving your arguments in the future[edit]

Before you start any AfD or initiate any poll or other process, do your homework.

  1. Read up on the policy that governs the actions you are taking. Quote the policy in your reasoning (briefly, redacting extraneous material as needed).
  2. Expect others to disagree. Do not reply to every single opinion and !vote in the process. Wait a few days and perhaps add one comment at the bottom of the discussion that may address any or all of the concerns expressed by others.
  3. It is okay to answer one or two comments that are either quoting the wrong policy or asking a question. It isn't okay to pick apart every single comment that is contrary to your position.
  4. Never reply to a comment right after you see it. Wait a bit, clear your thoughts, and make sure they are saying what you think they are saying. Often, someone else will reply back and correct an error or offer some insight that is new to you. Give other editors enough time to agree with you.
  5. You don't always win in a discussion, and the point of the discussion isn't to find a winner or loser - It is to find consensus. Everyone finds themselves on the other side of consensus every now and then. Accept it and move on.

If you can't step back...[edit]

Some people may not be able to pull back and have only an equal say in a discussion. This is particularly true with topics that have a history of heated debate, such as religion, politics, or nationality. If you find it is difficult to participate in heated debates without dominating the conversation or by adding a dozen comments, then perhaps you should avoid them altogether and find other ways to contribute to Wikipedia.

When one actually is the topic of discussion[edit]

As a collaboratively edited project, nearly all discussions are improved when there are comments from many participants and no individual dominates. But some discussions are explicitly about one individual. This typically occurs if one finds oneself dragged to the administrator incidents noticeboard for sanction, or one's request to sanction another boomerangs. In this circumstance, some of the advice on this page is very helpful, but not all of it is appropriate. When an editor is defending themselves from attacks by many others, they are entitled to mount a defence. Accusing such an editor of bludgeoning can be regarded as unfairly limiting their ability to do so. A high frequency, volume and repetition of defensive comments is often unhelpful for entirely different reasons. The first law of holes is that when you are in a hole, stop digging. When the community is giving you enough rope to hang yourself, don't keep pulling out more.

See also[edit]