Wikipedia:Don't take the bait
|This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.||
|This page in a nutshell: Goading others into making uncivil comments is a common tactic. Don't take the bait.|
Disruptive, agenda-driven or disturbed editors may egg you on in the subtlest of ways, may come at you as a victim, as someone who cares or someone who's hurt. They may mix in inaccurate information or misquote you to compel you to respond. They may manipulate the civility policy as a weapon. They may even cite this essay.
In content disputes, a common baiting strategy involves badgering the opposition—while carefully remaining superficially civil—until someone lashes out. They then complain to an administrator. Time-pressed administrators may look only at specific edits without delving into the background that led up to the incident, resulting in a warning or block for the targeted editor. Most discouraging of all, this tactic is nearly risk-free. There rarely are negative consequences for those who use it, in part because a pattern of ongoing provocation can't easily be explained following the usual "diffs please" request. Sometimes these are after one particular individual and sometimes they're just after anyone who will take the bait.
Don't take the bait. You are under no obligation to react to goading. Avoid the temptation to get in the last word. It is polite to reply to the first inquiry or two, but you are free to end the discussion at any point in which you feel further exchanges serve no useful purpose. Don't tell the provocateur that they aren't welcome, as this can be used against you. Let them have the last word. Let them jump and shout. They may get louder and louder, but the silent treatment always works in the end. Don't take the bait. Just swim away.