Wikipedia:Don't cry wolf
This is an essay on conduct policy.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Do not make accusations of harassment or personal attacks lightly.|
An editor subject to criticism may feel harassed or attacked, but this does not mean that there has been actual harassment. Instead of crying wolf in such situations, try assuming good faith. If there is a nugget of truth in the criticism, counterclaims of harassment will look like evasion and a lack of a collaborative spirit, and may thus escalate the dispute. Furthermore, unsubstantiated claims of harassment make it harder for people who suffer real harassment to get assistance.
Legitimate criticism can be distinguished from harassment because it:
- Contains contextual diffs or related evidence.
- Aims to improve the encyclopedia.
- Provides advice that the subject can use for improvement.
- Engages civilly with editors that doesn't reply with discourtesy.
- Requires support from uninvolved editors for productive contribution.
Harassment often includes some of the following elements:
- Contains out of the context diffs and thus creating a falsified evidence by exploiting proof by assertion.
- Vague accusations, unsupported by evidence.
- Character attacks, ad hominem arguments, or logical fallacies.
- Lacks support from uninvolved editors.
- Includes shrill rhetoric instead of logical or policy oriented arguments.
If you are the subject of criticism that seems unfair, ask for specific evidence. If arguments are heated, ask the other editors to refactor for virtuous manners. Recourse to established dispute resolution mechanisms may also help.
When criticizing another editor, be sure to focus on behavior and provide specific evidence. If the subject of criticism complains of harassment, consider backing off or using formal dispute resolution processes.