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Taking the Shortcut

Many of our shortcuts to policy, guideline or essays consist of an uppercase word or two or a short phrase. Although these words may appear to succinctly sum up the linked advice, it is best to think of them as a mnemonic. There is a temptation to cite shortcuts as though these words in-themselves support one's argument, and this can be unhelpful to constructive discussion when they do not. Editors are then misled, or become distracted from the topic at hand into pointing out the mistake. Repeatedly misciting shortcuts to policy can be disruptive and a sign of activism: an attempt to block or silence those one disagrees with a false claim to have policy on one's side.

This essay documents some cases of WP:UPPERCASE, where a shortcut is often miscited.

The WP:IDONTLIKEIT shortcut leads to a section in the essay Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions. It is therefore not applicable to discussions outside of those concerning article deletion. It is cited correctly to complain when a voter does not like the article subject and their prejudice against the subject is the entire basis of their vote to delete. This shortcut is indiscriminately used to dismiss another editors personal negative opinion about anything, anywhere, including the quality of or bias in sources, style and word choices, article layout, etc. This misuse is ironic: editors are dismissing someone's argument solely because it is negative rather than on the substance of the arguments made, which is the kind of false-argumentation that Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions discourages.

The WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS shortcut leads to another section in the essay Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions. As with WP:IDONTLIKEIT, it is inappropriate to cite this outside of article deletion discussions. The concern there is that the existence of a similar article should not set a precedent. As the essay Wikipedia:Some stuff exists for a reason explains, precedent can in fact be useful in other areas, as widespread current practice may well be informative. Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines says that our policies and guidelines often describe agreed-upon best practices. Sometimes a misguided argument about how things are supposedly done on Wikipedia or how policy or guideline apparently requires something, is best demolished by giving examples demonstrating this can't possibly be so. Whether examples of "other stuff" helps your case or are irrelevant will vary, but the practice of pointing them out should not be dismissed out-of-hand as though it is forbidden. If your problem with another's argument is Whataboutism, then link to that article.

The WP:STICKTOSOURCES shortcut leads to the "Using sources" section of Wikipedia:No original research. It documents how our articles are built by summarising reliable sources in our own words while remaining true to their intention and the facts within them. Sometimes editors cite this shortcut to demand that our articles must also use the same words as the source. This fallacy is described in detail in the Wikipedia:Use our own words essay.

The style advice at MOS:CONSISTENT is about maintaining one regional variety of English within an article. It is not, as some have miscited it, a requirement that an article must consistently use the same words for something throughout its length. We frequently do not. Most commonly to avoid tedious repetition, but we may choose to use a technical term or jargon in one place and a lay alternative in another (or side-by-side).

The WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS shortcut leads to a section in Wikipedia:Tendentious editing, which is an explanatory essay for the Wikipedia:Disruptive editing guideline. It is about ensuring article content is verifiable by reliable sources and gives appropriate weight to the balance of informed opinion. It is correctly cited when removing unverifiable claims or dubious "facts", or when trimming the excess weight given to fringe or discredited viewpoints, and then dealing with editors who keep putting it back. For example, the belief in invermectin to treat COVID-19 or that MMR vaccine causes autism or any number of conspiracy theories.

Some editors think WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS is their policy weapon in a war against woke editors. As with all wars, both sides are advocating something and editors both progressive and conservative can sometimes engage in activist behaviour that is harmful to the project. Wikipedia does not have a policy on who in this war is right and who is wrong. Disagreements, as always, should be resolved through discussion leading to consensus.

Don't assume that a shortcut beginning with WP:NOT will take you to the WP:NOT policy. Less than half of them do.

The WP:NOTADVOCACY shortcut links to a section in Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not that is about achieving neutrality and objectivity in our article content. It links to Wikipedia:Advocacy which says "Advocacy is the use of Wikipedia to promote personal beliefs or agendas at the expense of Wikipedia's goals and core content policies, including verifiability and neutral point of view. Despite the popularity of Wikipedia, it is not a soapbox to use for editors' activism, recruitment, promotion, advertising, announcements, or other forms of advocacy."

Sometimes editors cite WP:NOTADVOCACY to dismiss editors they disagree with, who are arguing, in good faith, and in alignment with our goals and policies. This may typically be because that argument aligns with viewpoints of some groups outside of Wikipedia (politics, religion, social attitudes, race, sexuality, etc) and the dismissing editor disagrees with those groups too. Editors may in good faith disagree about how we should, for example, make articles accessible to a general audience or how to write them neutrally and objectively and in an encyclopaedic tone. All editors have beliefs, biases and prejudices that influence what they think should or should not be written and how to write it. The problem is not having opinions and, to a degree, expressing them on talk pages, but whether you are seeking to cooperate, collaborate and compromise with other editors to achieve our goal.

Defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

XKCD [1]

Someone once wrote that "Anyone who defends their edits by citing WP:NOTCENSORED doesn't have the first clue." Its misuse can be akin to Godwin's Law, as a signal that you have run out of argument.

The first thing to realise, if you are citing WP:NOTCENSORED in order to justify including something, is that it is part of the What Wikipedia is not policy, which is mostly about what we don't want to include on Wikipedia. Our other core policies such as WP:WEIGHT, WP:NOR and WP:V are also mainly used to exclude and reduce content. Wikipedia goes to a lot of effort to keep content out. WP:NOTCENSORED is in fact clear that our policies (and the law) have priority over your opinion about what should be included.

Sometimes editors cite WP:NOTCENSORED to try to dismiss the concerns of those who view that certain language or word choices are offensive, can perpetuate stigma, are prejudiced or biased, and who are asking editors to consider alternatives. The opening paragraph of the policy section might at first glance appear useful to dismiss these concerns of causing offense but it is essentially saying that we can't please everyone and are not required to agree with you if you complain. But no more than that. The linked Offensive material guideline says that we should only knowingly include material or text that causes readers offense "if its omission would cause the article to be less informative, relevant, or accurate, and no equally suitable alternative is available". Wikipedians routinely remove sexist, racist and antisemitic content, enforce an encyclopaedic tone, and we don't misgender trans people, insult politicians or mock celebrities even if our sources do. In practice, where there is consensus that a word choice is problematic and has good alternatives while remaining informative, relevant and accurate, we change it.

The main purpose of this section is to say that Wikipedia's encyclopedia articles are not news stories. Editors who want to write original news articles should look into Wikinews, which is one of the Wikipedia:Wikimedia sister projects and is dedicated to creating original news.

However, the section also says that most newsworthy events do not qualify for inclusion in any encyclopedia article, and gets cited when WP:DUE or WP:BALASP would be more relevant. Additionally, it gets (mis)cited to claim that subjects are non-notable.

This is one of those shortcuts where you can't win. Cited correctly, you are complaining about, or fixing, a situation where two wikilinks are adjacent. The reader will see just one link and not the two separate links. When you do that, someone may then complain that the black sentence text with just a few blue words was hardly a "SEAOFBLUE". Cited incorrectly, you are falsely claiming guideline support for your opinion about the maximum number of blue wikilinks one should see in a paragraph, and asserting that the current text or proposed changes exceeds this threshold. This personal threshold is typically set at "what it is now" or "what it used to be before you came along".

The MOS:RETAIN link is about national varieties of English only, and is sometimes confused with MOS:STYLERET, which is less catchy and more generally about style. Both discourage change without a substantial reason for the change or existing MOS guidance. Both permit discussion to achieve consensus for change (either at an article talk age or a MOS discussion) and thus citing them within such a discussion is a foolish contradiction. Neither guideline prevents copyediting.

The policy on article titles does not apply to the words in the article body. There are many ways in which our choice of article title is constrained that do not apply to body text. Do not simply cite the shortcuts on that page when discussing the best word style for body text. For example, WP:COMMONNAME, WP:PRECISION, WP:NATURAL, WP:CONCISE, WP:CONSISTENT, and WP:TRANSLITERATE.

This helpful essay discourages violations of the Wikipedia:Edit warring policy by encouraging editors not to revert during dispute discussions. It is routinely invoked as a justification for reverting before, during, and after discussions. Editors who invoke it usually haven't read the page since at least the previous decade, if ever.

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