Wikipedia talk:Assume good faith

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The AGF Challenge[edit]

I contend above, with explanation, that the following is true:

There is no situation on WP in which WP is improved by anyone dropping the assumption of good faith about anyone else, no matter how strong the evidence is.

So, here is the challenge: Identify a situation in which dropping the assumption of good faith about someone improves WP. Explain how and why retaining AGF regarding that person somehow harms WP relative to dropping AGF.


--B2C 22:28, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

That is actually two different questions:

  1. The question that you asked. Answer: It would be a minus in some situations where one couldn't use other information, history, judgement to assess the current situation. But you are probably right most of the time.
  2. The question implicit in the one that you asked. Identify harm that would come by making what you just said a rule An immense amount of harm. Don't forget, the main harm that is done to Wikipedia is NOT from violating the spirit of rules, it is from (mis-)using Wikipedia rules as weapons of warfare. As I recall, you have been the victim of such, so you should recognize this.

Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 22:40, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

  1. In what situation could "other information, history, judgement" not be used and failing to AGF would improve WP?
  2. You mean immense harm caused by accusing others of violating AGF? That depends on the appropriate reaction to a suspected violation of AGF. Almost always that is simply a reminder, and that's all it takes. With a no-exceptions version of AGF, anything beyond a reminder should never be required. So how is this harm immense? I don't get it. Can you walk me through a scenario?

    Here's one:

    • User V edits a BLP, adding an unsourced unflattering claim about the subject person which is so absurd it's obviously made up.
    • User X reverts V, saying in the commentary, "Reverting vandal V - please stop intentionally harming WP"
    • User North8000 then adds a section on User X's talk page, saying:
      Please remember to AGF. There was no reason to include "intentionally" in your edit summary.
Can you come up with a similar scenario where anything other than a reminder might be needed? --B2C 22:55, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Further thinking: Let's say A accuses B of violating AGF. "You failed to AGF when you said blah blah blah about me (or about C)". What can happen? Well, is there substance to the claim?

If there is substance to the claim then either B will be more careful next time or he will continue. If he continues, then A can seek help via normal dispute resolution processes.

If there is no substance to the claim, then B is likely to deny failing to AGF. All A can do is pursue normal dispute resolution processes, which is likely to go no where.

Where is all the "immense harm"? I don't see it. --B2C 23:32, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Example: a persistent vandal. Assuming good faith about someone who clearly intends harm to the encyclopedia is itself harmful. Omnedon (talk) 00:20, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, but that's just nonsense. Stating it's harmful to AGF about someone who clearly intends harm does not explain how or why it is harmful.

There is nothing you can't do with a persistent vandal problem because you continue to assume good faith. Assuming bad faith does not free you to do anything that you otherwise could not do, except maybe to make you feel justified in treating the person disrespectfully.

Examples of typical WP:Vandalism include vandalism "adding irrelevant obscenities and crude humor to a page, illegitimately blanking pages, and inserting obvious nonsense into a page". Anyone who is doing that is subject to sanction for doing that. It doesn't matter whether they are doing it in good faith or bad faith. For all you know it's someone doing a study as part of a college internet sociology course on how WP responds to persistent vandalism. Or maybe it's a secret Arbcom study. Regardless of motivations, the sanctions apply because of the vandalism actions taken, irrespective of why. --B2C 00:36, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

You simply cannot assume good faith on the part of a vandal. By definition. That's the nonsense here. Omnedon (talk) 00:38, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
You know the earth is sphere(ish), but you can assume it's flat and still negotiate reasonably effectively with much simpler calculations than those required assuming the earth is a sphere. Knowledge does not prevent you from acting in ways that are based on making assumptions to the contrary.

You might know your kid took the cookie from the cookie jar, but in talking to him you can presume he didn't.

You might find out your friend is having an affair, but in dealing with him and his wife you act as if you don't know - you assume he's not having an affair.

Similarly, I can assume good faith on the part of a vandal when I deal with vandalism. There is no reason to assume bad faith. I AGF of vandals all the time. Why can't you? --B2C 01:36, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

I seriously doubt that. If you assume good faith of vandals then you're simply not thinking logically. Omnedon (talk) 03:48, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
We always have the choice to assume good faith, even in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary. You can do it in real life as well as on WP, by the way. It's a fundamental lesson in most religions and many philosophies. The logic of doing so on WP, even in the most extreme cases, is laid out above.

I note that you have not met the challenge. You have claimed that assuming good faith regarding a vandal harms WP, but you have not explained how. How exactly is WP harmed when you assume good faith in a vandal? --B2C 16:58, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

More time is spent dealing with the vandal. Productive editors get frustrated with the Orwellian doublespeak you're forcing them to use. --NeilN talk to me 17:08, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
If we are dealing with a vandal, then we are dealing with someone who wishes to hurt the encyclopedia. By definition. Assuming good faith harms the encyclopedia because it will get in the way of dealing with the problem. And, as Neil says, it will waste time. In any case, assuming good faith from someone who clearly displays the opposite is not logical. "I can see this is red, but I insist on assuming it is green." That's every bit as logical as what you are saying. Omnedon (talk) 17:19, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
The principle of human nature that underlies AGF is that humans tend to rise up to, or fall down to, expectations. If you AGF you can convert a vandal into a productive editor. If you fail to AGF, you can turn a productive editor into a frustrated one who leaves. WP is replete with examples of the latter. Countless editors have been lost due to people refusing to abide by AGF (and in every case I'm sure those who dropped AGF felt justified in doing so, and often probably were at least arguably justified based on the current wording). --B2C 02:25, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── B2C, the community failing to deal with tendentious editors, who are constantly embroiled in content and conduct disputes is a byproduct of assuming good faith excessively. Far too often we do ignore the mountains of evidence that a certain editor is disruptive to the project, and they remain here for years, sowing their seeds of disruption. Gigs (talk) 19:34, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't get the tendentious editing thing at all. When a discussion ceases to be productive, I walk away. It takes two to tango... --B2C 02:21, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

"Countless editors" is pure hyperbole. By the same token, I could say countless currently productive editors would be driven away if vandals weren't quickly and efficiently taken care of. --NeilN talk to me 02:31, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

AGF does not prevent or even hinder quick and efficient taking care of vandals. Their actions contrary to our content rules, not their motivations, is what justifies taking care of them. --B2C 04:56, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
No, motivation is a key part. Per WP:VAN: "Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia." Anyways, there's no chance the community will accept your blinders so all this, while creating the opportunity to expound on all kinds of hypotheticals, won't really accomplish anything. --NeilN talk to me 05:29, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
NeilN: Agreed. While it's right to give others the benefit of the doubt, benefit of the doubt requires doubt. If an individual removes that doubt by acting in a way that can't reasonably be considered good faith, then it would be unreasonable to continue to assume good faith. To assume something even when it's shown not to be so would be entirely illogical... and basing a policy on an illogical avoidance of reality seems unlikely to be in the best interests of the project. ╠╣uw [talk] 10:17, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree, and what you just said is important. Further, remember that, as with other policies and guidelines, about half of the uses of wp:agf are mis-uses; using the policy/guideline to try to "get" somebody by alleging that they violated it. So that doubles the importance of what you just said and of avoiding changes that exacerbate that problem. .North8000 (talk) 13:00, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
B2C, you say, "When a discussion ceases to be productive, I walk away." Really?!? You are typically the one that goes on and on at length, even when others ask you to stop. Omnedon (talk) 13:51, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed that happens, but only when the discussion in my opinion is still productive. When I'm in discussions that I find to be unproductive, I do walk away. I presume we don't all agree on what discussion is or is not productive, and when.

What I don't understand is why when others find themselves in unproductive discussion, that they ask those involved to stop, rather than walking away themselves. --B2C 16:35, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, NeilN (talk · contribs), you're right that causing harm deliberately is key to vandalism. However, that's besides the point I'm trying to make. Allow me to reword.

AGF does not prevent or even hinder quick and efficient taking care of vandals. Their actions contrary to our content rules are more than sufficient to taking care of them. There is no need to speculate about motivation to take care of them. There is no need to drop AGF. There is even no need to identify the action as "vandalism" (which is dropping AGF in and of itself). If the content is uncited or nonsense, it can be reverted. A pattern of making problematic edits is grounds for blocking. --B2C 19:44, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

B2C, you are missing my point; we are talking about two completely different things. You are talking about the intended consequences of an (implicitly) proposed policy change, I am talking about the unintended consequences. North8000 (talk) 20:03, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I am not missing your point, North8000 (talk · contribs), I just don't agree there will be the unintended consequences you predict. I believe there is no such thing as enforcing AGF too much, not in practice. There is a theoretical potential of over-penalizing someone for violating AGF. However, I'm not concerned about that, because I believe in practice most of the time it will be just a reminder, sometimes a warning, and a serious penalty would only apply if multiple warnings are not heeded. If that's ever necessary, that wouldn't be enforcing AGF too much, because it would emphasize the seriousness with which we expect everyone to adhere to a strict AGF policy. And that would be a good thing. That would be an intended consequence. --B2C 01:55, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

So here's my realistic hypothetical scenario:

  1. B2C is successful in getting the guideline change to unconditionally require AGF, a change in the opposite direction of that needed
  2. For each of 10 days, Editor XYZ changes the lead of 10 different articles to "fu*k you". They are probably vandalizing, but there is a 1 in a quadrillion chance that they just made an unnoticed mistake 10 tiems.
  3. Editor B3C, an excellent editor, reverts them all 10 times. For the last 9 times, they say "Please stop vandalizing". So they decided that it is deliberate vandalism, despite that one could claim that there is a (one in a quadrillion) chance that it isn't
  4. Editor B3C, through their quality work elsewhere, is preventing a gang of POV warrior editors from POV'ing an article. So they view B3C as primarily and opponent, and seek to deprecate or ban him. So the go thought B3C's edits looking for something to trump up. They come up with a whole list of "offenses" by B3C. Including 9 links to their "nine WP:AGF violations" which show what a run-amok AGF violator they are.

North8000 (talk) 20:18, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Meh. First of all, B3C can revert XYZ's edits, warn, and request a block if warning is not heeded, without referring to the behavior as "vandalizing" (which is arguably a violation of NPA as well as AGF). Secondly, if XYZ takes B3C to dispute resolution, B3C can be warned about AGF/NPA, and the whole thing is likely to boomerang on XYZ, who will be warned and possibly blocked. In fact, XYZ should know the boomerang is a likely result, and this should inhibit him from reporting B3C in the first place. --B2C 01:13, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
That's not how it happens. Plus are you really advocating for a rule that would get B3C smacked to calling vandalism vandalism? Plus you missed on major point. XYZ sees Wikipedia as an ideological POV battleground and B3C as an inherent impairment to their objectives. , and has no interest in resolving any dispute with B3C. They want to get them deprecated or banned. And so they would not take them to DR, they will try a pile-on or witch hunt at wp:an, wp:ani or arbcon. And NOBODY gets boomeranged for mis-using these venues to try to "get" people.North8000 (talk) 13:23, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Plus are you really advocating for a rule that would get B3C smacked to calling vandalism vandalism? YES. Are you not reading what I'm writing? Referring to the behavior of a specific editor as "vandalism" is a violation of NPA as well as AGF. There is no need for it (no one has met the challenge yet).

I disagree with your cynical view about WP DR (which to me includes AN, ANI and Arbcom). It's far from perfect and errors are made, but I think the change I'm proposing here would actually reduce such errors. --B2C 16:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

OK, I'll bite once more even though it's pretty clear this isn't getting anywhere. If we are forced to always assume good faith, then we are also forced to assume extreme ineptitude and stupidity. In your synthetic world, we are supposed to believe that someone, intending to improve the encyclopedia, accidentally changed a paragraph to to curse words 10 times in a row over the course of 3 hours. In such a case we should refer them to WP:Competance, and suggest that they are too stupid to continue editing? Gigs (talk) 17:58, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Why is this so hard to understand? You don't have to assume bad faith. You don't have to assume stupidity or ineptitude. There is no need to assume any of that.

Don't assume anything about WHY someone did what they did. Only look at WHAT they did, and deal with that. If it's an inappropriate edit, fix it. If there appears to be a pattern of inappropriate edits, bring it to their attention. If the behavior continues, seek appropriate consequences. But all along steer clear of the whole area of motivation. You don't know for sure. Heck, the person himself might not even know. It's totally unnecessary to go there at all, much less to judge the person. NPA says to comment on content not on the person. That's all I'm saying. --B2C 19:56, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I, for one, am not suggesting assuming bad faith or stupidity or ineptitude. The word "assume" is here because of the principle of "assume good faith". An assumption is based potentially incomplete or inaccurate information. When and if it becomes obvious that good faith is not present, the assumption disappears. And it's not a personal attack to describe vandalism as vandalism. Omnedon (talk) 20:00, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Nothing is for sure when it comes to human motivations. Ascribing a particular motivation to any human being always requires some level of assumption, even to apparent vandals.

More importantly, it's not at all necessary to address motivation (accusing someone of acting in bad faith or being a vandal are examples of addressing motivation) no matter how solid the evidence seems to be. No good to WP comes from addressing motivation, and harm is possible if not likely.

Yes, it is a personal attack to describe (apparent) vandalism as vandalism in the context of evaluating someone's behavior - the person to whom the vandalism is being ascribed is being personally attacked as being a vandal.

Just because it's true doesn't mean it's not an attack. When we say Charles Manson is a murderer, we are attacking Manson personally. "Murderer" is not a complement. Neither is "vandal". When we say some IP is vandalizing, we are labeling that IP as being a "vandal" - that's a personal attack. Just because it's true doesn't mean it needs to be stated; nor does it mean that WP benefits from it being stated. --B2C 21:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

And think about the effect of disparaging a vandal by calling him a vandal. The person probably already suffers from self-esteem issues (no one with a healthy sense of self is going to engage in pure destructive behavior). Using negative wording just reinforces their poor self-image. They probably get plenty of crap at home and are just lashing out. Now we treat them disparagingly too? To what end? These are cries for help, cries for attention. Don't pour salt in the wound. Treat them with the respect all humans deserve, even when they're acting improperly. Don't attack. Continue to AGF. Have faith that somewhere, somehow, they do mean well. This is the whole point of AGF, is it not? --B2C 22:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

No, it's not. See above. Omnedon (talk) 23:05, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
You didn't address anything I said. --B2C 01:53, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
B2C: Upon what basis do you claim to know that vandalism is a desperate cry for attention from someone who has poor self-image, self-esteem issues, and gets crap at home? You say above, "don't assume anything about WHY someone did what they did", but you're going a remarkably long ways down that very road yourself.

In a nutshell, it's not our place as editors to cater to what you personally believe are the psychological or emotional needs of those who may choose to deliberately deface Wikipedia. Our responsibility is simply to improve and maintain the project, and one part of that is dealing with vandalism. Properly identifying vandalism as vandalism is not an attack; it's simply a determination made on evidence.

You claim that doing so is a violation of "the respect all humans deserve", but I simply don't see how it is, nor seemingly do others. A change that would punish editors for correctly identifying clear, overt vandalism as vandalism is quite simply a non-starter. ╠╣uw [talk] 09:17, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I also believe your skipping over the multiple uses of "probably" in my statement, thus wrongly characterizing it as a "claim to know", is probably due to an honest mistake, not a deliberate act to misconstrue what I'm saying.

Of course identifying vandalism as vandalism is a determination made on evidence. But that doesn't mean it's not an attack in certain contexts. It's inherently derisive.

All I'm saying is this: if necessary actions need to be taken to remedy harm done to WP can be done just as effectively without derision as with derision, why choose the derisive path? Choosing the derisive path - labeling vandals as vandals - might be harming WP, and when it's unnecessary (no one has met the challenge), it's unnecessarily harming WP. That is not in WP's interest.

And in practice I would expect very little if any "punishment" doled out to WPians who violate a strict AGF policy. Most likely it would be just reminders and warnings, and only repeated offenses would lead to anything that could be construed as "punishment".

Finally, I think it would be interesting to have a trial month of "strict NPA and strict AGF". Then we could see for sure what the effects of such a change in policy would be. --B2C 16:42, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

B2C: Your position is still oddly contradictory: it's appropriate to engage in elaborate speculation about the motives of contributors, such as yours above, so long as we use the word probably? You'd said that "no good to WP comes from addressing motivation", so your choice to do so here is highly confusing. (As for derisiveness: to deride is to ridicule or mock. Merely identifying obvious vandalism as vandalism is not derision.) ╠╣uw [talk] 21:03, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Speculating about motivation likelihoods of alleged "vandals" in general, especially in a way that advocates for adhering to AGF in all such cases, which I did, is totally different from speculating about the motivations of any one specific WP editor, especially in a way that drops AGF with respect to that editor, which is what I'm saying is contrary to WP's interests. Surely you can see and appreciate the difference?

Vandals and others accused of harming WP are often treated with derision, but, you're right, not always. However, identifying someone as a "vandal" is disparaging to that person. It's certainly not encouraging. No one has met #The AGF Challenge. I continue to maintain that it's totally unnecessary to drop AGF to deal effectively with any situation on WP, including alleged vandalism, while it is potentially harmful to WP to disparage anyone who edits WP's pages by labeling such a person as a vandal, or by referring to their activity as vandalizing, or by being disparaging to them in any other way. --B2C 16:48, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

B2C: The term vandalism may not be "encouraging" to those who do it (should it be?) but neither is it a slur: it's simply the term we use to accurately describe a phenomenon. Identifying clear instances of vandalism as vandalism is proper and useful; calling clear vandalism a "good faith contribution" is not, and would be disruptive in the same way that calling apples oranges would be. Your proposal would complicate and slow our operations by wrongly muddling legitimate good-faith edits with those we'd be forced against all reason to say are good-faith edits (like overt defacements).

Pitfalls of the proposed change have already been noted, your claims to the contrary notwithstanding. If you wish to believe that everything everywhere is good faith no matter what, then you are of course free to do so, but amending policy to force everyone to do the same (under threat of sanction) is, again, a non-starter. ╠╣uw [talk] 11:18, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

If you think I'm suggesting I "wish to believe that everything everywhere is good faith no matter what", much less that I want to "force everyone to do the same", you're paying so little attention to what I'm saying that discussing this any further with you is a waste of time.

But to clarify to others - AGF is not about what we believe, but what we convey in how we treat others. For example, in a hypothetical discussion with someone who repeatedly demonstrates a lack of attention to what others are saying, I might come to believe they are trolling. But AGF does not require me to believe they are not trolling. It requires me to avoid accusing of them of such, and treat them as if they are not trolling. So I might say something like "you're paying so little attention to what I'm saying that discussing this any further with you is a waste of time", and focus on what people paying attention have to say. --B2C 16:48, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

You speak of not paying attention to what others say? Interesting. But assuming good faith is indeed about what we believe. If the evidence clearly shows that bad faith is present, it's illogical to continue assuming that it is not. Omnedon (talk) 17:06, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
What is or is not logical depends entirely on the premises being made. Arguments for and against assuming good faith in the face of strong evidence to the argument being logical can and have been made, each relying on different premises. Saying one or the other is illogical is simply looking at one and not the other. --B2C 04:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
B2C: Actually, I suggest that if you want to do that, as seems to be the case, then you're free to. Others do not. Changing policy to prevent any editor (under threat of sanction, as you earlier admitted) from identifying as vandalism that which is clearly vandalism would be illogical... and IMHO, illogical policies are not good for the project.
It's also good to note that a range of other Wikipedia policies (e.g., WP:VANDALISM), noticeboards (e.g., WP:RVAN), projects (e.g., CVN), major essays (e.g. WP:RBI), etc. would be directly and profoundly impacted by the proposed change, and would need to be either entirely removed or extensively overhauled (and renamed) in order to accommodate the idea that we must never identify vandalism as vandalism. Wikipedia obviously does not currently subscribe to that notion (understandably), or to the idea that deliberate attempts to deface the project are well-intentioned and made in good-faith, so the instability introduced by such broad change would be considerable. ╠╣uw [talk] 18:08, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
People can believe whatever they want, and what they believe cannot be regulated by WP, at all. Beliefs have nothing to do with AGF or any other policy or guideline.

What WP can regulate is how people treat each other. And whether there is the assumption of good faith in the treatment of others is certainly something that can be controlled each of us, and regulated by WP.

Simply saying there would be instability introduced by the introduction of strict enforcement of AGF does not make it so. Again, I say let's try it for a month. If it's a complete disaster in a week, day or hour, the trial can always be rescinded. --B2C 04:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, but no: an even higher than usual level of consensus is required to alter policy, per WP:CONLEVEL. To make a significant and possibly "completely disastrous" change to a central, Wikipedia-wide policy (for any length of time) that's seemingly supported by approximately one user would violate that and be extremely inadvisable. ╠╣uw [talk] 11:26, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
This is an illogical proposal on its face and doesn't need a trial period. Omnedon (talk) 13:09, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

One more example to add to North 8000's list:

AGF in spite of evidence means continually feeding one, as far as I can tell.

Once bad faith is clear, should you stop feeding? (Wikipedia:Deny recognition, Wikipedia:Revert, block, ignore)

--Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 21:44, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Exactly. AGF requires you to AGF in what you say to and about suspected trolls. So stop feeding is compliant with AGF (including strict AGF), and highly effective. --B2C 16:48, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
If I AGF then I answer the troll's questions, patiently engaging with them and rewarding them with a target for their game. If I ignore them that is the end of 'strict AGF' - it is rude and unhelpful to ignore a genuine good faith editor. --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 17:37, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Good point. However, we can't speculate or prove why people stop engaging in any given discussion. --B2C 04:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

To respond in more detail, I think AGF is a bit misleading. It's important to distinguish acting (clicking on Save Page) from non-acting. In practice AGF doesn't literally mean Assume Good Faith because it can't. What it really means is "if you are to act, then act in a manner consistent with assuming good faith". The flip-side is that a violation of AGF is an action ("Save page") that is not consistent with assuming good faith.

You're right that reacting to a suspected troll by ignoring the editor is not acting in a manner consistent with assuming faith, but only actual actions ("Save Page") are subject to regulation by WP policies and guidelines - not non-actions. Within the scope of WP relevant to behavior that is regulated, not acting (for any reason) is generally not included. With few exceptions, no one ever has any obligation to continue discussing with anyone else about anything. Although not responding is not assuming good faith, it's not a violation of AGF nor even strict AGF, because it's not an example of acting in a manner that is not consistent with assuming good faith. It's not an example of acting at all. So it's not a violation - it can't be. --B2C 07:44, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

  • We require administrators to be accountable for their administrative actions. If they ignore a good faith request to explain their actions they may be formally admonished or de-sysopped. If they ignore questions from a troll, that will benefit the encyclopedia. This doesn't apply to non-admins. We need to make a judgment about the motivation behind a post.
Ordinary editors quietly ignore a troll's questions, and then when the troll is bored or blocked, unceremoniously revert the trollish edits. That is action, and it does not assume good faith.
--Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 10:52, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
The requirement of admins to be accountable is exactly one of the few exceptions to which I was referring. That's a special case.

I know someone outside of WP who routinely engages in forums on a certain topic of mutual interest. This particular person sometimes has good points, but often is very repetitive, does not listen to what others say, etc. On the various forums sometimes there are discussions about this person, in particular about whether he's trolling, acting in good faith, etc. The bottom line is we don't know. More importantly, it doesn't matter. You say unceremoniously reverting the trollish edits is evidence of not assuming good faith, but it isn't. Not necessarily. Those edits can be reverted just the same without dropping the assumption of good faith. Dropping AGF is not necessary to ignore non-productive questions, or to delete them. There is no reason to drop AGF to effectively manage trolling or any other problematic behavioral situation.

  • I think Gigs and North8000 have met the challenge, unless I misunderstood the challenge. --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 17:37, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Gigs asserted that assuming good faith with tendentious editors harms WP. I countered questioning how tendentious editing harms WP at all. No one responded.

      North referred vaguely to "some situations where one couldn't use other information, history, judgement to assess the current situation". Neither comes close to meeting the challenge: Identify a situation in which dropping the assumption of good faith about someone improves WP. Explain how and why retaining AGF regarding that person somehow harms WP relative to dropping AGF. --B2C 04:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Tendentious editors consume the time of otherwise productive editors. Disrupting productive editing is disruptive to the project. Tendentious editors are like trolls, or worse, just like how subtle vandals are worse than puerile vandals. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
    Sure, but what does that have to do with "a situation in which dropping the assumption of good faith about someone improves WP"? A tendentious editor in particular may be acting in good faith but is never-the-less tendentious. Tendentiousness is not even evidence of acting in bad faith, let alone an excuse to drop AGF. Again, there is no reason to drop AGF to effectively manage tendentiousness or any other problematic behavioral situation. --B2C 16:55, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Incidentally, WP:TEND makes an interesting point: "Wikipedia defines vandalism very carefully to exclude good-faith contributions." If we redefine vandalism as a good-faith contribution, then that's highly disruptive since it overturns a fundamental definition upon which various Wikipedia processes and policies are built. If we say that vandalism exists but no editor's contributions ever are vandalism, then that's also highly disruptive since it leaves us with an extensive body of orphaned vandalism-related policies, guidelines, projects, boards, etc. that exist to address something we can never admit happens. ╠╣uw [talk] 18:56, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
False dichotomy alert. You seem to be assuming that if we don't treat vandalism as bad faith then we must treat it as good faith. What I'm saying is to pay no attention to motivation at all. Don't even define vandalism as vandalism. What we currently call vandalism is blatant violation of existing content guidelines and policies (lack of citation in reliable sources, etc.). That's more than sufficient to warrant a revert. No need to call it vandalism or assume bad faith to do that. Further, repeated edits that warrant a revert are sufficient to warrant a warning and blocking if they don't stop, irrespective of what the editor's motivation may be. Again, there is no reason to drop AGF to effectively manage "vandalism" or any other problematic behavioral situation on WP.

Why is it so important to label a person directly (you vandal!) or indirectly (that's vandalism!) in such derogatory terms? Does it make you feel better about yourself? Fine, but how does WP benefit from such derogatory (albeit justified) characterizations of others? --B2C 21:54, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Tone it down, B2C. You are becoming personal and not following your own advice. "Does it make you feel better about yourself?" Give me a break. A vandal is a vandal. Drop this, please. It's clearly going nowhere. Omnedon (talk) 12:46, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough, and I apologize. My inappropriate speculative answer notwithstanding, the question stands: Why is it so important to label a person directly (you vandal!) or indirectly (that's vandalism!) in such derogatory terms? Noting that a vandal is a vandal, an undisputed point, of course, does not answer this question. --B2C 17:03, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
It's not derogatory. It's descriptive. Why is it so important to you to ignore reality? Surely you see that this change is not going to happen. It's been discussed enough. You are following your pattern of going on and on -- and on. Omnedon (talk) 17:11, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
What reality do you think I'm ignoring? Whether the change is going to happen or not is irrelevant to whether the change can be discussed and evaluated, including answering questions about it. Let's not put the cart in front of the horse. Let's evaluate what the proposal means and why it's being supported and opposed before deciding what the outcome will be. Right now I'm simply trying to understand why you're opposing.

Being descriptive and derogatory are not mutually exclusive. It can be both.

Referring to someone as a vandal, or their actions as vandalism, is not an expression of respect, no matter how accurate the description. It's showing a critical or disrespectful attitude towards that person. It's dismissive. It might be justified, descriptive, accurate and logical, but it's never-the-less critical and disrespectful. It's derogatory. Let's not ignore that aspect of reality. And, it's unnecessary (no one has met the challenge, including with respect to vandals). So, why do it? --B2C 17:39, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, say it all again. And again. Dismiss the answers and reasons you've been given. Just forge blindly ahead. Omnedon (talk) 17:41, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
What do you think I'm dismissing? Please be specific. Why would I dismiss the answers to the questions I'm asking? That makes no sense. I really want to understand why you think it is so important to label a person directly (you vandal!) or indirectly (that's vandalism!) in such derogatory terms

I've addressed every answer you've given ("It logical". "It's not derogatory". "It's descriptive", etc.). That's not dismissing. I've explained why your "answers" are not answering the question. You acknowledge, much less address, very little of what I'm saying, even when I say it repeatedly, and just repeat your undisputed assertions, only adding the claim that answers and reasons have been given, which do not answer the question. That's what makes this go on and on and on without getting anywhere.

Now, maybe you don't know why it's so important to you? Well, then, if so, why not just say that? ---B2C 19:06, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

B2C: Others have indeed answered you clearly and at length; that you disagree or choose not to accept what they say doesn't alter that, and further repetition would be unproductive. No one but you seems to support the proposed change and no one but you seems to think your repeated demands to refute you have gone unanswered. You've made your views clear, as have others. I strongly suggest allowing the dead horse a bit of peace. ╠╣uw [talk] 21:16, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Understanding others' motivations is a necessary step in building collegial relationships. Recognizing others' insincere motivation is the flip side. When editors know who to trust, it makes for a much more efficient, and enjoyable environment. AGF applies to new relationships. With time, with learning, the need to "assume" diminishes. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Sure, but understanding motivations is not the same as explicitly reflecting one's belief of another's bad faith motivation in words and actions. There is simply no reason whatsoever to demonstrably drop AGF in one's words and actions with respect to anyone else to effectively manage any problematic behavioral situation. --B2C 00:08, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • What you want is WP:Civil. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:08, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Indeed. I want the WP:Civil tenet to be incorporated better into the AGF wording.

      For example, referring to someone as a vandal, or to their actions as vandalism, no matter how true it is, is needlessly attacking that person. Effective measures can be taken regarding a vandal's behavior without referring to that particular person as a vandal, and without referring to that particular person's activities, as vandalism. Thus the attacking is unnecessary. That's not civil. --B2C 17:03, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Nonsense. Calling a vandal a vandal, or a tendentious editor a tendentious editor, or a kook a kook, is clear, concise, efficient communication, for the recipient and the audience. Vandals, tendentious editors and kooks are chronic problems, and their identification is for the good of the project. Your barrow here seeks to ask all editors to treat problem editors as new editors being met for the first time, to ask editors to not make use of accumulated knowledge on other editors. I propose that we all agree that your ideas here are roundly rejected. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:09, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Nonsense indeed. Every time I think we can at least agree to disagree, someone says something that demonstrates much misunderstanding about what I'm saying. Are you seriously trying to understand what I'm proposing here? It is a major paradigm shift, but it's not really asking for anything but more civility in our interactions.

      Can we at least agree on what we disagree about?

      For the record, I think we all agree on the following:

      • Calling a vandal a vandal is logical.
      • Referring to vandalism as vandalism is logical.
      • Calling a vandal a vandal, or a tendentious editor a tendentious editor, or a kook a kook, is clear, concise, efficient communication, for the recipient and the audience.
      • Vandals, tendentious editors and kooks are chronic problems
Making any of the above statements as if they are counter-points to what I'm saying is not contributing productively to this discussion.

Points I disagree with:

  • Something being logical, clear, concise and efficient, for everyone involved, is justification in and of itself for saying it, no matter what other effects it may have.
  • Identification of vandals or other problematic editors as vandals or by any other derogatory terms is for the good of the project.
  • Such derogatory identification is necessary for dealing effectively with such problematic editors.
  • Stating over and over that it is for the good of the project, without explaining why, should be accepted as an explanation for why it is good for the project.
  • Avoiding referring to others in derogatory terms means treating "problem editors as new editors being met for the first time, to ask editors to not make use of accumulated knowledge on other editors".
--B2C 23:59, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
You are asking for a shift that I think is unwise. I think you are wasting others time in pushing it. However, I’m very happy to clarify specifics of disagreements.
  • Something being logical, clear, concise and efficient, for everyone involved, is justification in and of itself for saying it, no matter what other effects it may have.

    No. Other effects *are* important. Negative effects should be balanced against benefit. A difficult (not uncommon) case might be an editor who edits mostly constructively but sporadically acts destructively. I think this editor should be labelled “unstable” and watched for this.

  • Identification of vandals or other problematic editors as vandals or by any other derogatory terms is for the good of the project.

    Yes. I believe this, but disagree that it is derogatory to label a vandal a vandal.

  • Such derogatory identification is necessary for dealing effectively with such problematic editors.

    No. Virtually nothing is “necessary”. Please review your overuse of this word. Also see “derogatory” below, you may be proceeding from a flawed premise.

  • Stating over and over that it is for the good of the project, without explaining why, should be accepted as an explanation for why it is good for the project.

    No. I thought you could understand that continually having editors discover a problem editor needs careful retrospective review because previous editors hesitate to label the problem for what it is, is an inefficient use of volunteer resources, and this inefficiency is bad for the project. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not therapy.

  • Avoiding referring to others in derogatory terms means treating "problem editors as new editors being met for the first time, to ask editors to not make use of accumulated knowledge on other editors".

    No. But labelling an editor as a vandal is not derogatory if it is accurate.

NB To the extent you are right, we already do this. Wikipedia:Vanity for example, is discouraged in favour of WP:COI and WP:NOTPROMOTION. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:23, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────So, to what we agree on we can add:

  • Something being logical, clear, concise and efficient, for everyone involved, is not necessarily justification in and of itself for saying it; other effects must be considered as well.
  • Continually having editors discover a problem editor needs careful retrospective review because previous editors hesitate to label the problem for what it is, is an inefficient use of volunteer resources, and this inefficiency is bad for the project.

Now, whether calling a vandal a vandal is "derogatory" is a pointless semantic question. Surely we can agree it's more critical and disrespectful than complementary and respectful, yes? That's all I mean by "derogatory" - it's an uncomplimentary thing to say about someone. Can we agree on that? Maybe I'll just use uncomplimentary from now on. Is that okay?

Point taken on overusing "necessary". Allow me to reword the issues upon which we still disagree. I believe you agree with these statements (but I don't):

  1. Identification of vandals or other problematic editors as vandals or by any other uncomplimentary terms is for the good of the project.
  2. Problematic editors can be dealt with more effectively by referring to them with uncomplimentary labels like "vandal".
  3. By identifying an editor as a vandal (or whatever uncomplimentary label is appropriate to the problematic behavior), we can deal with this problematic editor more efficiently than we could if we avoided referring to him with such a label.

Assuming that's right... No. Let's verify you agree with these statements before I go off on some tangent based on a misunderstanding. Thanks. --B2C 02:54, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

B2C I do not see what you thee points has to do with your initial question at the start of this section. I personally do not use the term vandal for any established editor. But I will use it for obvious vandalism by IPs or newly created accounts in edit histories such as "rv vandalism". Otherwise I do not use labels instead I describe what it is that I think they have done to harm the project -- an editorial cometary following the principles of WP:MORALIZE (let the facts speak for themselves). -- PBS (talk) 00:42, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
B2C to answer your initial question. It is not only blatant vandalism, there are other areas where most editors stop assuming good faith. For example:
  • persistent sock-puppetry, particularly when socks have been used to create a false consensus.
  • Editors for nefarious reasons who persistently create false citations to support text or deliberately misinterpret sources to support Wikipedia content, (see objective historian and substitute in "objective Wikipedian", -- I've been meaning to write an essay on it).
-- PBS (talk) 00:29, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Ridiculous term and article[edit]

Due to many scums admitted as administrators in wiki projects, this term is really and extremely ridiculous. They can do whatever they like without any consequences and control, one can't even complain on their behaviour. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. It's a proven fact that Wikipedia is a media for political propaganda and that many editors are paid: Conflict-of-interest_editing_on_Wikipedia. In such context, assuming good faith is absurd. (talk) 15:09, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Still, the vast majority of wikipedians are decent people. WP:AGF is basically equivalent to Presumption of innocence+Hanlon's razor. Staszek Lem (talk) 17:00, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Guideline versus policy[edit]

Has there been a discussion on elevating this guideline to a policy? Otr500 (talk) 01:58, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

@Otr500: Good idea: you might need to bring this up at the village pump for consensus to be determined. --Rubbish computer 22:24, 1 October 2015 (UTC)
@Otr500: A Request for comment would also be necessary. Thanks, --Rubbish computer 14:32, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. Apparently something that is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia, a cornerstone, an idea upon which most policies and guidelines revolve around, is not really that important. Either that or so many people have stopped editing that there are only a few left. I don't know but it seems strange that only one person replied in almost two months, so long in fact that I forgot I posted this.
This tells me that my idea was not really a good one or so off-base that it was found too stupid to garner replies. I didn't look at the history because I just do not have the free time, as some do, to go through years of past discussions to search out an answer, so I asked.
I will simply "assume good faith" that a behavioral "guideline" is all that is needed. My initial inquiry was because of what looked to me to be a "straw man" attempt (but done in good faith) to make changes in policy concerning women and sexual harassment on Wikipedia. Making "new" specific policies will not affect change without some contributing factors which would be enforcement. In law if a "charge" includes a serious or egregious factor then "lessor included offenses" will fall under that. I thought that strengthening existing policies and guidelines, elevating those that needed it, and tying up loose ends by creating an article like a "Core Conduct Policies" information page there would be less redundancy and help with the issue of a gender attacks and lack of women editors (that was specifically mentioned) but more importantly include all editors that are attacked, harassed (multiple attacks) or bullied on Wikipedia. When the intent went off-base I decided if a new sexual harassment policy is all that is wanted then who am I to try to fight city hall. Some are so intent on one focus that it does not seem apparent (but I have stated it) that the inherent definition of harassment is "multiple" attacks. If one single attack is egregious, possibly causing hurt or anguish, then why in the world would we want to protect the attacker by positioning that "if you do that again it will be serious". Thank you for your time but my predictions have thus far played out probably like some wanted. Otr500 (talk) 15:16, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
@Otr500: Sorry, I didn't realize you'd replied. Relatively few users edit Wikipedia talk pages, as far as I can tell, anyway, but it is a shame that nobody replied in just under 2 months. I only just realized the time difference between your point and my reply: I automatically assumed you had added the proposal in the past few days. It certainly isn't a stupid proposal: I see AGF as a core aspect of WP:Civility, which is one of the five pillars of Wikipedia. I'm afraid I can't comment much on harassment on Wikipedia, or rather, how it is dealt with, due to a lack of experience with the process: I don't have any new ideas to bring to the table, unfortunately. Thanks anyway, --Rubbish computer 16:58, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
That is alright-- I have done the same thing more than once. We can't watch every page on Wikipedia--LOL. I hope someone comments every so often so it stays "out there" until enough editors get serious. This has been ongoing for a while. It is just amazing to me that we are suppose to have some problems and instead of working to fix them some run around tossing multiple drafts and proposals all over the place. I assume the utmost good faith that the intentions are honorable but the end result is still the same; Nothing gets done because of confusion. Intended or not it becomes a smoke screen and my predictions become reality. I do appreciate your comments but I gave my opinions and suggestions why just creating yet another policy would not solve the problems as identified without some fundamental changes. I thought a core conduct policies page would be a fantastic thing but what do I know. I will let others argue about it. You have a great day. Otr500 (talk) 00:42, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
@Otr500: You too (sorry for the late reply- again.) --Rubbish computer (HALP!: I dropped the bass?) 19:39, 13 October 2015 (UTC)

Please explain what advantage will be gained by this. Also, a real or hypothetical example would be handy. Staszek Lem (talk) 23:33, 13 October 2015 (UTC)

P.S. I am asking not because I am dense. First, any real problems in wikipedian's interaction are handled by other policies. Second, in 90% cases simply "please assume GF" works like charm. Persons have emotions and may be carried away, and reasonable ones do not need more to get back on the tracks. Unreasonable ones as a rule run into more serious troubles with WP:Civility. WP:AGF is but a reminder that wikipedia actually emerged as an oasis of civility in the ocean of rage and venom at various discussion boards in the internets. WP:ARF is an advice on your state of mind when you work in wikipedia. But nobody can police your mind, right? It is your behavior which can be policed. And WP:AGF is a friendly advice which will help you to cope with our interactions. Staszek Lem (talk) 23:59, 13 October 2015 (UTC)

I certainly don't see any good that will come from elevating this guideline to a policy, considering that so many editors are under the impression that "assuming good faith" means forgoing common sense or otherwise good sense. I've recently commented on such at my talk page. The introduction of WP:Assume good faith currently states, "This guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of obvious evidence to the contrary (e.g. vandalism). Assuming good faith does not prohibit discussion and criticism. Rather, editors should not attribute the actions being criticized to malice unless there is specific evidence of such." People too often forget that. Flyer22 (talk) 00:33, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

Faith and verification[edit]

I have seen, on more than one occasion, an editor citing "assume good faith" when another reader asks for help verifying a citation. This is to say that AGF—the behavioral guideline for assuming that others mean well and are not acting maliciously—is confused with simple "trust but verify" verification requests. So while we assume that editors add citations to the best of their ability (and mean well), AGF doesn't mean that we abdicate verifiability, especially when the editor has the source material... I think it would be worth clarifying this in the guideline, if only in a sentence. czar 23:19, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

@Czar: I agree: I would say that AGF should not extend to assuming any form of content is accurate without evidence. I'm not sure where this could be added, though. --Rubbish computer (HALP!: I dropped the bass?) 18:20, 26 April 2016 (UTC)