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Wikipedia:Rage quit

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A Wikipedian at the breaking point, about to "rage quit" after his brilliant addition to an article was reverted. Twice.

A rage quit is when the player in sports or video gaming is too angry to continue playing a game and usually leaves before the end of the game or match. The player may then throw or smash their controller/keyboard in response to their "rage" to the point where it is broken and unusable. Rage quitting may also occur on Wikipedia when an editor experiences "inexcusable" deletions of their wonderful work.


A typical rage quit occurs as follows:

  1. Inciting event – Sally does something "inexcusable" to Joe, but typically only controversial to others.
  2. Rabble phase – Joe gets angry and can't understand why others aren't as angry as Joe is. He proceeds to rabble about it in a high-visibility venue in order to evoke a certain action (The Only Solution™) to be taken against Sally. Either insufficient or no action is taken against Sally, thus prompting Joe to give even more of a fuck.
  3. Threat of rage quit or The Ultimatum – Joe demands that either The Only Solution™ be taken, or Joe will cease editing forever.
  4. Ellipses phase or (...) – The ellipses phase happens when Joe still doesn't get his way and people are standing around waiting for Joe to either accept a compromise, back down, or make good on his promise.
  5. Rage quit – At this phase, one of several things typically happen:
    1. Joe throws up a {{retired}} template on his user page and stops editing forever;
    2. Joe throws up a {{retired}} template on his user page, keeps complaining, but eventually gets over it; or,
    3. Joe just won't give it a rest, and ends up having The Only Solution™ ironically taken against him for his disruption

This is by no means the only progression or situation, but one of several. For instance, the topic might not be over Sally's behavior but over a particular policy or guideline.


Much like a legal threat, an editor may simply make a rage-quit threat (RQT) in hopes of using it as trump card to win an argument. However, this is frequently unsuccessful due to its highly coercive nature and typically results in embarrassment when people refuse to completely acquiesce to the quit threatener's demands. This leaves the threatener in an awkward position of trying to save face and leaves everyone else involved in the dispute with the task of trying to ameliorate the heightened anxiety and fundamental anger experienced by the threatener. This can even result in a backfire effect, whereby the perceived hostility of the threatener, alone, puts them at-odds with achieving their intended outcome.


Several preferable alternatives exist that avoid rage quits.

  • Not giving a fuck – In all reality, whatever's pissing you off will probably piss others off and the problem will solve itself without your future intervention—just give it time.
  • Taking a break – Taking a break allows others to deal with the problem, and if you're right, allows sufficient time for a greater sample size to develop for your argument.
  • Finding another area to help out in – There are soooo many other things to do here. The Backlog, for example, has tons of areas you can help out in. You don't even have to be a wiki-expert, for example, to use Special:Random to find some random article that might need your assistance. Even if you're just helping provide input, things like articles for deletion and in-the-news are always in need of some neutral commentary.
  • Randomly choosing one of the 5,997,358 other articles – There are lots of other pages to work on! While some articles are hotly contested, with every edit resulting in a huge Talk page debate, on the vast majority of articles, you can edit freely, without any other editor reverting your additions or posting snippy messages on your User page.

Five stages[edit]

According to leading psychologists who have studied the phenomenon on the Planet Vulcan, there are five stages to a Wikipedia "rage quit" episode:[1]

The Wikipedian feels the need to believe that ArbCom will enact the desired sanction (The Only Solution™), or will change their mind about their decision. Example: "ArbCom will surely see things the right way—my way."
The Wikipedian feels the need to blame someone for their sadness and loss. Example: "I hate ArbCom for not backing me up. I will now engage in disruptive behavior to act out my anger. I am so angry I will threaten to quit Wikipedia!"
In this stage, the Wikipedian feels as if they have some say in the situation if they bring a bargain to the table. This helps them keep focused on the positive that the situation might change, and less focused on the negative, the sadness they'll experience after the desired sanctions are not enacted on the opposing editor. Example: "If I threaten to really leave Wikipedia, maybe ArbCom will decide in my favor."
This involves the Wikipedian experiencing sadness when they know there is nothing else to be done, and they realize they cannot stop the Administrators' decision not to invoke The Only Solution™. Other editors need to let the Wikipedian experience this process of grieving because if they do not, it only shows their inability to cope with the Wikipedian's threat to "rage quit". Example: "I'm sorry that we cannot fix this situation for you. You are now blocked for a while."
This does not necessarily mean that the Wikipedian will be completely happy again. The acceptance is just moving past the depression and starting to accept the situation. The sooner the other editors start to move on from the situation, the sooner the Wikipedian can begin to accept the reality of it, and move on from his or her "rage quit".


  1. ^ Adapted from "The Grieving Process Of Divorce". Positive Parenting. Retrieved 10 April 2012.

See also[edit]