Wikipedia:How to be civil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The owner of this backyard is politely asking neighbours to use an alternate footpath around their garden.

The editing atmosphere can be improved if we treat our fellow editors as respected colleagues who are working, in collaboration with us, on an important project. Pursue disputes in a respectful, civil manner, attempting to find an acceptable resolution quickly, with minimal disruption.

Advice regarding civility[edit]

Personally reducing the impact[edit]

These suggestions may help you maintain civility in the face of difficulties. Use common sense and personal preferences to choose an appropriate option, or create a solution that better suits the specific situation you find yourself in.

  • Balance criticisms by providing constructive comments.
  • If possible forget about offensive comments without replying, and forgive the editor. Do not escalate the conflict.
  • Alternatively, respond to perceived incivility with greater civility and respect. Many editors will then moderate their tone to match yours.
A medieval festival re-enactor gives a formal, and very civil apology
  • Please. Thank you. I'm sorry. You're welcome. You're a good person and I know we'll work this out. Treat your fellow editor as a respected and admired colleague, who is working in collaboration with you on an important project.
  • Walk away. Wikipedia is a very big place. Just go edit somewhere else for a while and return when tempers have cooled.
  • You do not have to like an editor as a person to appreciate that they are also working for the good of the project. If you do not like a fellow editor, try not to hold that fact against them.

Why incivility is inappropriate[edit]

Incivility creates a hot, unfriendly space, and a sense of threat. With civility, respect and a sense of safety and collegiality between all concerned is created, producing ample room for negotiation. Incivility may put editors on the defensive, may create closed-mindedness to multiple, alternative ideas, and can help to prevent a consensus from forming.

A more serious consequence of incivility may be that an editor becomes so unhappy that they leave Wikipedia. Wikipedia is at heart an online community. To maintain the effectiveness of the community, all members must be civil to one another and remember why they have joined the community in the first place. Editors should strive to create an environment that supports other editors and that does not encourage or support breaches of incivility. All contributors are expected to assume good faith towards each other (within reason), in order to try to uphold a reasonably civil atmosphere.

Editors can apply peer pressure by voicing displeasure each time rudeness or incivility occurs; however, some care is required: If the comment is read as an insult, or seems to belittle another editor; the situation could be inflamed further. Peer pressure works best when it comes from friends or people the editor already trusts or respects.

  • Incivility can occur, for example, when you are creating a new page, and another user tells you, "If you're going to write a pointless page, could you spell-check it?" And escalation occurs when you reply, "Get lost!" This style of interaction between Wikipedians drives away contributors, distracts others from more important matters, and weakens the entire community.
  • Incivility can occur during an edit war, when editors have differing opinions, or when there is a conflict based on power.
  • As the community grows larger, editors may not know all other editors, and may not perceive the importance of each individual to the project.
  • In a larger community editors may be more able to hide less than positive reputations than is possible in a smaller community.
  • Sometimes, a particularly impolite user joins the project. This can also antagonise other editors, and impair the collaborative environment. Editors may find themselves becoming upset in such an environment, and may themselves engage in less than civil behaviour.
  • Editors may use insults in the heat of the moment during a longer conflict. The person who made the insult may regret having used such words afterwards.
  • In other cases, insults may be deliberate and could be used to either distract other editors from the issue, or to simply drive them away from working on the article or even from the Wikipedia project itself.
  • Editors may be under pressure from external variables, and for example a lack of sleep may contribute to a loss of good judgment that can lead to speaking in socially unacceptable ways. Take a break from the issue if you sense your judgment may be lowered by any external variables.

Preventing incivility within Wikipedia[edit]

  • Use positive feedback (praising those who do not respond to incivility with incivility)
  • Apply peer pressure (voicing displeasure each time rudeness or incivility happens)
  • Use negative feedback (suggesting that an editor involved in conflict should leave a conflict or even temporarily avoid all controversial areas in Wikipedia). It may be worthwhile making such suggestions to both sides of the conflict.
  • Have certain users refrain from editing specific pages that often trigger incivility.

See also[edit]