Wikipedia:Don't feed the divas

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Jânio Quadros threatened to step back as President of Brazil, hoping the masses would rally for him to stay. They didn't.

A Wikipedia diva is a long-time user who believes he or she is more important than other editors, and who requires regular validation of that belief. Validation is obtained by storming off the project in a huff—a "retirement" or "Wikibreak"—accompanied by a long diatribe against whatever petty issue drove them away this time.

Invariably, this diatribe attracts a flood of "please don't go" messages, along with plenty of support for the diva's side of the dispute that triggered the latest "retirement". The end result is that the diva gets exactly what he or she craves—validation and support—and returns to the project triumphant, at least until the next petty conflict.

Spotting divas[edit]

The following are telltale signs that you are dealing with a Wikipedia diva:

The diva is (or claims to be) the most important and knowledgeable user in Wikipedia, or at least in their pet topic of preference. Divas have no shame in saying so at every chance they get. They want flowers, parades, and a monument built in the skies with their name plastered...and, in extreme cases, divas will consider themselves the last hope of Wikipedia against the ruin brought by lesser editors. And, speaking of lesser editor...
Rudeness to the helpers
Divas can't be bothered by the "little people" and are known to be extremely uncivil to those who are beneath them. If you can't fully conform to the diva's view, you may find yourself cast as a less valuable member of the community. Divas will likely engage in WikiBigotry against users that met a certain condition that make them less valuable to their eyes. However, the line between "good" and "bad" editors may be drawn anywhere, and it may even consist of an arbitrary condition invented by themselves.
Frequent threats to leave
The diva's primary weapon, and they use it often. Blocking a diva for any reason (it will always be wrong) invariably provokes their early retirement. They retire in a huff, but rarely stay away for more than a few days. Divas are compelled to remind others of how much the wiki would suck even more if they weren't around to fix it.
Argumentative in petty disputes
There is no issue too small for a diva; disputes are more about getting their way than getting it right. They are known to bully their way over "inferior" editors with a panache that befits their status as a diva. Some may argue with "walls of text" while others opt for curt dismissals. Either way: the diva wins.
Frequent citation of personal perceived "rewards" in disputes
Divas want others to think they are indispensable to the project and frequently promote their own value via their edit count, Did you knows, Good articles, Featured articles, etc. Divas often have elaborate user pages which tout their contributions. By excessively reiterating their own perceived value, they are implicitly denigrating their opponent's value, which is a form of validation.
"Consensus is flawed"
Divas tend to feel that community consensus is far less important than their own consensus: that of themselves and their wikibuddies. IAR is often used as the justification for not listening to the community, but other policies tend to fall far by the wayside with the diva. Another trick is to propose that the "truth" should prevail over anything else.
An entourage
A truly successful diva has a loyal (and usually large) following. Editors who question a diva's behavior often find themselves attacked by a group of fervent supporters. Administrator pals are most valued, and threats to block those that step on a diva's toes are effective tools in the enabling process. A diva may often be regarded as literally "the best" editor on the project for certain tasks; and they know it.
Long memory
Divas never forget their enemies, and they rarely forgive them. Repeatedly bringing up ancient grudges that have irreversibly and forever destroyed your credibility in their mind is a diva hallmark. If you want to make amends and move on, the path to apologizing with a diva is down a narrow one-way street. A real diva doesn't apologize for much of anything; and your apology is only accepted on the condition that you agree with the diva's view. Once you cross them (they are highly sensitive to criticism of their behavior even in jest), you're no longer of use.
Persecution complex
Divas are constantly challenged by annoying editors who have nothing better to do than play "wiki cop". If the diva were allowed to operate freely, these abusers would move on from their bedeviled target and create reams of improvements, like the diva does. But the pitchfork-bearing mob is never too far from their heels.
A diva rarely, if ever, admits to engaging in: edit-warring, assuming bad faith, disruptive editing, battling, harassment, making personal attacks, or owning things. Only their opponents do this, and they do it constantly. A diva's extraordinary "specialness" demands the presumption that no fault could possibly lie with them in a dispute. If the diva eventually gets blocked for any of this, he will not accept that he made something wrong and try to change it: he will instead complain about the outrage, and ask to place the administrator's head on a pike. If anything, the diva will just be more subtle when violating policies.

Dealing with divas[edit]

These fellows are trying to stop this angry bull from running off. However, in the case of Wikipedia divas, just let them storm off in a huff.

Like trolls, divas crave attention, but whereas a troll is primarily destructive, divas appear to be productive contributors to the project—at least during times when they aren't storming off in a huff.

But unlike other productive contributors, divas use their productive contribution history as a weapon against other editors and are prone to gaming the system for their own glory. For divas, positive contribution is not an end unto itself, but rather a means of gaining clout and power. This clout becomes like a currency in content disputes: they can trade in some of their stored clout to get their way in disputes with lesser editors. This clout also gains them much needed validation during their frequent "retirements". Divas usually adopt an "us vs. them" approach to pick up supporters; but this inadvertently alienates a large portion of the community.

The best way to deal with divas is to ignore their tantrums. When divas storm off, let them go. If you beg them to stay, you perpetuate the cycle, guaranteeing that they will storm off again in a few months.

If you simply wish divas well and let them leave, they will almost certainly come back, but with a better attitude. The diva who doesn't get validation will quickly realize that he or she is not more important than any other editor; that one single editor cannot break a project of such magnitude.

In some cases, the diva will stay retired, but the loss will be quickly filled by other editors who are not so high maintenance—editors for whom the goal is not self promotion and validation, but rather improvement of the project. Most final goodbyes from Wikipedia happen without much ado.

See also[edit]

Qualis artifex pereo: "What an artist dies in me!"

External links[edit]