Wikipedia:Don't fight fire with fire
This is an essay.
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: Stay civil, even under the most intense flames.|
If everyone fought fire with fire, the entire world would go up in smoke.
As in real life, you may find yourself face-to-face with boorish editors who don't know (or don't believe) they're boors. These editors can be most maddening, especially with their tendency to fly into personal attacks. When this happens, you may find yourself angered and tempted to respond, to throw fire back at the fire-starter. Unfortunately, this is the worst tactic to use: anger breeds more anger, fire more fire. No matter how much you try to show the said boor the error of his ways, he still refuses to see it and regards you as the attacker. In aggressively confronting him, you have allowed the boor to infect you.
So based on these instances, we can conclude that "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind". Instead of trying to burn the offending user's face, try pouring a nice cold bucket of water over the flames and show them the proper way to behave. After much gentle nudging, they gradually learn how to be civilized Wikipedians. You don't have to fight fire with fire. After all, water works much better.
I'm being nice to them, but they still attack me
Sometimes, no matter how civil you are to another editor, they will regard you as an attacker. Even the kindest of criticisms are met with hostility. If the editor in question would rather cut off the hand of their rescuer than believe he needs rescuing, leave him be. There is no point in giving help to someone who doesn't want it.
The Three Users: A Parable
- The following story is based on an actual event.
Once upon a time on Wikipedia, there were three friends. One day, while discussing the actions of a certain editor, two of the friends encountered a terrifying WikiOrc. Now, WikiOrcs are not the same thing as WikiTrolls in that they are generally helpful editors. However, they have a tendency to maul even the most well-meaning users when they either do or say something the orc doesn't like. This WikiOrc immediately started assaulting the editor in discussion. When the friends tried to defend the hapless man, the orc turned its attention onto them. First it attacked them on the spot, bludgeoning them with its spiked club of personal attacks, then it personally slammed aggressive messages in their homes.
The two users finally had enough and confronted the orc in its lair. Unfortunately, they had brought torches and pitchforks with them and things got messy (i.e. the conversation became really ugly). So the users took it to the village court. They tried to convince the leaders to slay, or at least cripple, the WikiOrc so that it could not harm another editor. Alas, the savage orc showed up and ravaged the discussion with its deadly club.
The two friends returned to the orc's domain and confronted it angrily once more. The orc continued to be boorish and aggressive and refused to believe that it is at fault. Even when the editors told it that if it did not stop, the village leaders will send a mob to destroy it, the orc still saw the editors as the ones at fault. The fight soon escalated to the point that both sides were throwing flames about the cavern.
Meanwhile, the third friend was going for a stroll in the forest of articles when she decided to visit one of her friends. She arrived at his house and was horrified to find the hideous message left by the orc. So she decided to head to the orc's lair at once. She arrived in time to see the chaos happening. She also saw an angry mob in the distance. Knowing that such violence would solve nothing, she stepped in, and tried to reason with the orc. The fire died down, but the orc remained unmoved. The mob had arrived at the orc's doorstep. The orc, undaunted, scoffed and called the village leaders "pathetic". The third friend, still hopeful for the orc, gently chided it and showed it how to speak properly.
But instead of thanking her and changing its ways, the orc angrily slapped her in the face and ordered her out of its cave. This caused the editor to lose whatever sympathy for the orc she had left. She got up and just before she left the cave, quietly warned it again of the danger of its behavior. The orc, more softly this time, simply told her to leave again. Silently, the three friends walked down the path, leaving the mob to go ever closer to the orc. All agreed that nothing they do or say will make the orc mend its ways.
As the sun set, and the mob neared the orc's lair, the orc reached for its torch and spiked club as it came out to meet the crowd.