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What happened here, anyway? This started out as a collaborative writing project, an effort to build a knowledge base. It's turned into a madhouse of gamesters. Some of us still spend time editing articles or uploading images but increasing amounts of energy are going into rulemaking – worse, into untold layers of meta-rulemaking. There are debates about the legitimacy of efforts to delete proposals to control the creation of pages that govern the structure of pages that....

This is a wiki! Most editors don't seem to have any idea what kind of social structure this implies. We look to models from Real Life and apply them inappropriately here. Humans are humans and in many cases, existing political models do indeed transplant well to Wikipedia or any other large enterprise. In some cases, it's just a case of whacking a wood screw with a hammer.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Don't be a dick. Go read that page. Most problems are caused by dicks. If a lot of people are telling you that you're a dick, you are one – even if you're right.
  • You're not smarter than everyone else. You probably aren't the smartest person in the room but even if you are, you're not smarter than everyone else put together. You may well be more creative than everyone else; groups are notoriously uncreative. You might have better ideas – but you will also have stupid ideas, just like everyone else. And although you may be better than any other single person at telling the difference between a good idea and a bad one, the group as a whole is better still, on the average.
  • Just do it. The flip side of excessive boldness is excessive timidity. Don't feel the need to create a policy page for every situation. If you see something needing work, fix it. Or ignore it, if you'd rather. It's an annoyance to everyone else and a waste of your time to spit on pages you don't like and insist that Somebody else fix things to suit you. Don't churn about, searching for consensus. Consensus doesn't come into play until there's a disagreement. If you're the only one with an opinion on a subject, you have unanimous consent to do exactly as you think best.
  • Learn to lose. Consensus is very important. Once expressed, you're a fool to go against it. In a better world, everyone might listen to you – but consider yourself lucky that they showed any interest at all, even opposed to your view. Don't expect that anyone will pay any attention to your impassioned plea for reconsideration. You already got your feedback. Deal with it.
  • Don't ask Dad. You know how this works. If Mom says, "No cookie, too close to dinner," you ask Dad. Dad is clueless and says "Yes" to anything. Or maybe Dad said, "You can't borrow the car." So you ask Mom, who will do anything for her darling baby. Cut it out. Don't shop for the best forum for your argument. If a matter is under discussion at Talk:Foo, well, that is the place for the discussion. This is a wiki; all pages are equally viewable by all users. It really doesn't matter where the discussion takes place but it is evil to walk away from one page and start the same discussion again in another place.
  • XfD is not where we make policy. Ed Poor upset a lot of editors by deleting the old VfD page but I say he earned all the barnstars he got for his trouble. Unfortunately, he failed to eradicate the foolishness – now there are more XfD pages than ever before.
XfD processes are for carrying out policy – for implementing decisions, not for searching for consensus. There are simply far too many pages of all kinds that must pass through XfD for any one discussion to have scope beyond the single item to which it refers. Asserting global scope or introducing novel agendas is stupid. If the issue is controversial, it doesn't belong on XfD in the first place.
If you close an XfD discussion and delete the subject without an extremely large majority or clear policy in support, you're being a dick. This goes double for speedy; the least suspicion that any rational editor might oppose a deletion absolutely forbids speedy. If there's controversy over a page, there's probably controversy over some underlying issue. Wait for consensus to emerge on that before playing cowboy on XfD.
  • Get to work. Few of us are immune from the criticism that we spend too much time discussing and too little editing articles. This user notes that at the time of writing, 17 issues stand on his talk page. Of these, 4 relate to an incident of multilateral dickness; 11 discuss metaissues, policy, procedure, etc.; and there are exactly 2 content issues: working, roll-up-the-sleeves comments.
Forget trying to eliminate or discredit all the dicks on the project; kill one and two arise in his place. Do some editing. Or take a wikibreak; go fly a kite or watch some nude mudwrestling.

This is an excellent point at which to heed this last comment, put on shoes, and get out.