Wikipedia:The grey zone
This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it 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.
Sometimes we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, not sure to AGF! or call a spade a spade or just ignore all trolls! Traditionally the phrase between Scylla and Charybdis has come to mean being in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will cause you to be in danger from the other.
EditorA makes an edit to an article, a “bad edit”, which does not adhere to a neutral point of view. This is by no means the first time that EditorA has made such an edit. EditorB reverts that edit, and on the discussion page (or in the edit summary) says. “I reverted your edit, EdA, because you are a POV-pusher, pushing a POV".
What has gone wrong here? Well EditorB did not act perfectly, neither did EditorA (perfection being unavailable to human beings). But what did EditorC do wrong? Well, EditorD comes along, and, as well as checking that EditorB apologised for the INCIVILITY, EditorD also checks the ORIGINAL edit by EditorA, and, if that edit was defective, tries to repair it. (Note that, although EditorB reverted the change made by EditorA, EdA or other editors may have re-instated it in the meantime.) EditorD also notices that this is the eighth time that EditorA has tried to insert poorly-sourced material favoring a certain point of view, and points out Wikipedia's policies regarding neutrality and verifiability.
Just checking on INCIVILITY is only part of the work. The accuracy of edits must be checked, even if the editor who brought the problem to the community’s attention was to some degree incivil in doing so. This is not, though, an excuse for incivility. The background to the incident at hand should also be taken into account, and pointers made to appropriate Wikipedia policy.
And if there is no EditorD? Then, in that case, we just hope that most editors, in the role of EditorC, are experienced enough to know that they might have to do BOTH of these things (deprecate any incivility, AND check the original edit). In practice, the likelihood of EditorC doing this is similar to the likelihood of stumbling over the Hope Diamond as one is walking across the street.
- Avoid personal remarks – It is very important to discuss edits, and refrain from commenting on Editors
- When you wonder what to do
- Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
- WP:NPOVFAQ Neutral Point of View – Frequently asked questions
- Don't take the bait – Avoid responding to provocation
- Writing for the opponent The intent is to show that that you understand another person's perspective
- Applying the duck test
- Do not feed the trolls
- Gray Area
- Gray lines
- Note that Edit summaries are difficult to fix.