Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not therapy
|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.|
Wikipedia is not therapy. If a user has behavior problems that disrupt the collective work of creating a useful, encyclopedic reference, then the editor's participation in Wikipedia may be restricted or banned. These problems may be caused by personal immaturity, an inability to properly apply Wikipedia's policies, poor social skills, or other reasons.
The phrase "Wikipedia is not therapy" should not be taken to imply that editors with mental disorders are incapable of making constructive contributions to Wikipedia, or of collaborating with other Wikipedians. Editors with disabilities should not be banned from Wikipedia simply because of their disabilities.
Nevertheless, editors who engage in disruptive or antisocial behavior may be blocked or banned. Except in extreme cases, editors are not blocked before problems have been patiently discussed, but, if disruptive behavior is not controlled, ultimately the community will protect the encyclopedia by restricting the user's participation in the project.
As a collaborative project creating reference works, Wikipedia and its associated projects offer opportunities for users to practice collaborative constructive work. While not intended as therapy, this work may have therapeutic and rehabilitative effects. Anyone who can benefit from this is welcome on the same terms as any other editor.
Overly focused editing on a single subject can be very detrimental to the collaborative editing process, and not infrequently leads to resentments and alienation that eventually spills over into overt incivility: the very undesirable antithesis of therapeutic benefits!
Editors who focus edits extensively in a single area tend to invest their egos in the articles, which has resulted in problems with "ownership" of articles. After working hard on one article for a long time, you may be less open to others' input. This is a dangerous pitfall that most good experienced editors have learned to avoid along the way. Working on a larger group of articles may reduce this problem.
Pace your work
Bold editing is encouraged, but when many editors are making contributions to the page, the pace of editing may need to be slowed and spread out in time, to allow for real-life time demands on useful and, not infrequently, expert contributors.
For many articles, expert involvement is desired and needed. Keeping expert contributors requires that non-expert editors be sensitive to how their editing affects other editors. Fast-paced editing in a collaborative process can be a discourtesy to editors that can't contribute as much time.
Wikipedia is a constant work in progress, and subject to endless and merciless editing, but in a well-developed article, even a small edit may be controversial or disruptive. Consider checking the article's talk page before beginning to edit so that you know whether any major discussions are underway. With a "work in progress", remember that there is no deadline, so annoyances and imperfections can be set aside for a while. When you encounter articles in dispute, either join the conversation and help develop consensus, or edit elsewhere. Make haste more slowly!
Wikipedia's policies and guidelines can be complicated and difficult to apply in practice. But Wikipedia:Assume good faith is a very helpful guide in that regard. If you have made a mistake, even a relatively serious one, rely on "assume good faith", apologize, and try not to repeat the mistake. If you openly acknowledge what you did wrong, people will usually assume that you understand the problem and did not intend to cause a problem. If you do not openly acknowledge your role in the problem, people will usually assume that you are highly likely to make the same mistake again. Everyone on Wikipedia has made mistakes before; do not be afraid to admit yours.
Likewise, Wikipedia has a number of Administrators, some quite skilled, some not. Working it out with them may prove challenging, but in this environment little is at risk.
Considering other viewpoints
Wikipedia:Neutral point of view requires a fair representation of all significant viewpoints regarding a subject—so long as those viewpoints are published in high-quality reliable sources, not merely your own thoughts or experiences. As a result, editing on Wikipedia offers an opportunity to practice considering opposing viewpoints regarding a subject.
Discuss such matters in depth, allowing other editors time to consider various suggestions. Don't attempt to force a viewpoint into the article, or to make a minority viewpoint seem more important than it is. Causing numerous reverts and counter reverts is disruptive and can bring down disciplinary action.
Playing well with others
As most of the content and policies of Wikipedia are worked out among users, Wikipedia offers the opportunity to practice the skills of courtesy, negotiation, and compromise that make graceful social life possible. If you are getting strong reactions from others, or worse, strong language, take a step back and reassess the matter.
Consensus is one of the five pillars of Wikipedia. Although you do not have to conform to what other Wikipedians consider constructive and civil, insisting on your behavior may cause a complaint on WP:AN/I which can lead to administrative action. If you find yourself against strong oposition but still believe you are doing nothing wrong, consider contributing to other articles or topics, or avoiding contributions and discussions that cause controversies.
Getting back on the horse
If you have had trouble at Wikipedia in the past, for most users Wikipedia offers the chance to start over and try again; the only exception being users who have caused serious disruption which has been judged likely to continue if nothing is done.
If you have been blocked for a short time, wait until the block expires, and resolve to do better. If you have been blocked for a long time, do not try to create another account. Instead, you can appeal the block on your user talk page, or you can send e-mail to an administrator to request a review of the block. Even permanent bans can be appealed by filing a request with the appropriate party.
Taking on greater responsibilities
Wikipedia readily promotes users who have taken responsibility. This offers an opportunity to practice administrative skills in a collaborative environment.
As others will make mistakes from time to time or need help, your participation in Wikipedia offers opportunities to practice friendliness and forgiveness.
If an editor is having trouble, offer advice, gentle correction, and, if necessary, use Wikipedia's dispute resolution processes to resolve problems. Remember to assume in good faith that an editor whose work is disruptive is likely not trying to cause problems.
In some cases, those actions will ultimately be ineffective, and action must be taken to stop the disruption of the encyclopedia. This requires that Wikipedia editors accept our limitations at changing behavior or policing it, admit that we are not equipped to engage in extended efforts to change or improve someone's behavior, and follow the usual procedures to request a block or ban. Ultimately, it is not the responsibility of the community to develop or enforce a plan that enables the editor to be successful.
In short, Wikipedia offers users the chance to practice being sensible, sane, and productive, but one's psychological state is not an acceptable excuse for disrupting the encyclopedia.