Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up your nose
This is a humorous essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors and is made to be humorous. This page is not 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 essay isn't meant to be taken seriously.
|This page in a nutshell: If you tell people not to do something, your advice may backfire and instead tempt them to do it. In fact, they might have not even thought of doing it until you told them not to do it. See also WP:NEEDTOKNOW for a more in-depth presentation of this maxim.|
As an old story goes:
The little boy's mother was going off to the market. She worried about her son, who was always up to some mischief. She sternly admonished him, "Be good. Don't get into trouble. Don't eat all the chocolate. Don't spill all the milk. Don't throw stones at the cow. Don't fall down the well." The boy had done all of these things on previous market days. Hoping to head off new trouble, she added, "And don't stuff beans up your nose!" This was a new idea for the boy, who promptly tried it out.
In our zeal to head off others' unwise actions, we may put forth ideas they have not entertained before. It may be wise not to caution against such possibilities. Prophylactic admonition may trigger novel mischief. As the popular saying goes, "don't give 'em any ideas". In other words, don't give examples of how to cause disruption (e.g., don't go to this link or you will crash Wikipedia) because this
may actually tempt people to do it.[Note 1] So, the boy's mother could have considered saying the following instead:
Keep your nose clean![Note 2]
Modern essay usage
Throughout the sixteen years this essay has existed, it's adopted a different meaning than the above text suggests. There are many areas of the encyclopedia that rely, or benefit, on some level of security through obscurity, such as WP:SPI. For this reason—citing this essay—details of cases and abuse mitigation are often left undiscussed on-wiki. An essay explaining this more in-depth is Wikipedia:There's a reason you don't know.
- Negative suggestion
- Reactance (psychology)
- Reverse psychology
- Security through obscurity
- Streisand effect
- Wikipedia:Avoid instruction creep
- Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point
- Wikipedia:Don't delete the main page
- Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up the developers' noses
- Wikipedia:No climbing the Reichstag dressed as Spider-Man
- A counterpoint to this essay
- Pandora's box
- Every time someone clicks this link, an innocent kitten, a person, a cow, a bat, a frog, a whale, a dolphin, and a liger die. (not necessarily in that order)
- The truth of this proposition is evidenced by the controversy of Monty Python's Life of Brian and the impact of this at the box-office. To quote Michael Palin: "There is not a great deal of religious satire in Brian, although there is some comment on organised religion. The religious critics in America told people not to go and see it, which was wonderful for the box office."
- And don't mention the war.