Wikipedia talk:Civility warnings

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A good start[edit]

Lets see what we can do with it. Chillum 23:23, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Lots of problems[edit]

Most sentences need a copy-edit, and there are many problems in logic and tenor. For example, let's look at the top. The opening is a grammatical howler:

Wikipedia:Civility (aka WP:CIVIL) documents an official Wikipedia policy that requires that all people participating in the Wikipedia project "should always treat each other with consideration and respect."

Then there's a logical conundrum, resting on "making".

Recently (early 2009) there has been a renewed interest and committment in the community to try and reduce rude and abusive behavior on the project, making enforcement of these two policies more consistently followed.

The reference to 2009 as recent may soon go out of date; see MOS on time statements.

This sentence appears to be addressed to admins alone. Who is the audience? Best to announce it at the opening and to specify the agents in statements that apply only to admins or mediators.

While it is necessary to discuss violations with editors when they occur, and to leave warnings or take administrative action in more significant cases, little guidance has been provided for administrators and editors on how to make good notifications and warnings.

The tone needs fixing here, and there's a sense that the author knows what "best practice" is, rather than seeking to establish it here. If best practice were a known concept, the essay would not be necessary, surely.

This essay attempts to document current best practice in leaving those notifications and warnings.

"Attempts to" is weak, and we wonder why we're bothering to read the statement. I'd fix the rest so it's credible, and remove the "hedge wording". "Document" looks as though we'll be encountering a list of all examples of best practice; that is not the case. A more suitable word should be used.

What is the reader to conclude from this? It seems to have a bet each way. What is the practical implication?

Civility or personal attack warnings are not a tool to fight or win arguments or drive a consensus in one or another direction. The validity of an argument on a factual or stylistic or logical basis is completely unrelated to whether the argument was made in a very polite and respectful way, or if it was made in a vile and horribly abusive way. People can be abusive and yet have a valid point, and be perfectly polite and making a mistake in facts or judgement.

"volunteer administrators"? Whom are you kidding? The epithet is may well be spin. "Administrators" is just fine, thanks.

This is far too long and winding. If it were cleaned up, perhaps then I could see the point. Tony (talk) 02:39, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

This essay has only just begun. Of course it needs some work. Perhaps you could work on the essay or at least be less scathing with your criticisms. I for one like that the essay reminds people that administrators are volunteer. We are not kidding anyone, it is not spin it is a fact. I sure have not gotten my paychecks! Chillum 03:40, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
Also the essay does "attempt to document current best practice in leaving those notifications and warnings." It does not say it is the end all on the subject, but that it is "attempting" to do that. That is generally the point of such essays. Not to be perfect from day one, but to evolve with constructive discussion and editing. Do you have any ideas for better wording? Chillum 03:46, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
I could copy-edit it, sure. But I'd remove "volunteer" as redundant ... like "volunteer voters" (in most countries voting is not compulsory). I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that it's neutral. I will try to be more measured in my comments. But "straight talking" is not incivility, is it. I do dish out a bit of straight talking from time to time, and have been accused of incivility for doing so. This is part of the danger in leaving it mostly up to "judgement". I would be much happier to include examples ion the policy guidelines (I think that may already be the case?); here too. Examples are good for showing people where the boundaries lie, even if only approximately. More later. Tony (talk) 07:10, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Copy-edit and queries[edit]

Chillum, I've had a go at the top, without trying (intentionally) to change the intended meaning. However, here are a few issues.

As of early 2009, there has been renewed interest and commitment in the community to reducing the incidence of rude and abusive behavior, making enforcement of these two policies more consistent.

This is edited now, but the problems remain:

(1) can you reference or link to evidence of this "renewed interest" over the past 10 weeks? It's just a claim at the moment. Maybe even tell us where, like at ArbCom? The secret admins' IRC channel? ANI? Just a stylistic point: there's a tendency to "A + B" your epithets; "interest and commitment" ... if possible, one is often stronger, and you might save the other for later in the text.

(2) Grammatically, it's unclear how "making enforcement" relates to the "renewed interest and commitment" (whether the interest has been to reduce the incidence of blah BY making enforcement more consistent?). Needs to be recast. If that was your intended meaning, I'm unsure how consistency would be the key to reducing rude and abusive behaviour.


This essay attempts to document current best practice in leaving those notifications and warnings.

We talked earlier about this, without resolution. "Current best practice" isn't really agreed on, is it? Otherwise, why are you writing this essay? Readers may well say "it's what Chillum thinks is best practice". It would be stronger, I think, to frame this as not "documenting blah" (horse before the cart), but proposing it, for discussion and possibly general adoption. If it's framed as a fait accomplis, I think neither non-admins nor admins will engage with your message as well. Your main concern is persuasion, here, yes?

Again, see what you think about my tweaking of the direct addressing of non-admins and admins. It is necessary to explicitly mention "admins" when you talk of taking action; otherwise, you risk slightly irritating non-admin readers. The message will gain greater traction if it succeeds in bringing both groups together in its purpose. You may not like my parentheses and "where indicated"; if not, can you think of a better way, while still being explicitly inclusive of both groups. Tony (talk) 16:08, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

Warned, apologise, strike-though (WAS) approach?[edit]

I may as well come clean now about an agenda of mine, without properly having given you the politeness of reading through your whole essay in detail. I am a firm believer that blocking for incivility is usually counterproductive. Here's why:

  1. Incivility almost always arises because one or more editors are angry.
  2. Anger, like fear, has an unfortunate tendency to spiral (unlike positive emotions). This is particularly the case for experienced editors, who weigh what they will see as their hard work and commitment to WP heavily in terms of self-jusitifcaiton.
  3. There is ample evidence that blocking does not reduce levels of anger in the blocked editor; it is more likely, I think, to fuel repeat offending and repeat blocking, adding to admins' workload. It seems to be an ineffective way of dealing with the anger in the first place. The common notion that we give blocked editors a degree of latitude in "letting off steam" on their own talk page is another sign of this causality. I don't think blocking generally works to protect the project (a policy requirement) or as a tool for behavioural improvement or mediation (a common-sense and highly desirable role for admins).
  4. There is usually no apology by the blocked editor to the target of their rude or abusive behaviour; thus, the bad feelings remain on an article talk page or wherever else the incident has occurred.

For this reason, I believe admins should be explicitly encouraged—as a matter of normal (although perhaps not mandatory) practice—to follow a simple protocol: if the breach is serious enough, and unless the editor has previously demonstrated non-cooperation, the warning should contain a strong suggestion that they should promptly strike their offending comment and apologise to the target of their anger, probably both at the talk page of the article concerned and the talk page of the targeted editor; and that a failure to do so may result in a block (within X hours).

Of course, the abusive anon/vandal deserves the prompt block, and admins' time is limited, I accept. But I think it's self-evident that in other cases, requiring such a withdrawal and an apology stands a much better chance of restoring calm to a venue, and minimising the risk of a cycle of repeated incivility and blocking. A Warned, Apologise, Strike-though procedure (WAS, if you like) would save a lot of angst in the community about blocking. It would be good for relationships between editors, and between non-admins and admins. It is likely to be therapeutic; people usually feel better about themselves and their colleagues after an apology. Rude and abusive editors who do not apologise are probably worth blocking for longer than one might otherwise do, and a note in their block-log would send a clear message to both them and subsequent admins who find themselves having to deal with their behaviour.

I am interested in your opinions on this. I may post a link from the WP:CIVILITY page ... unsure as yet. Tony (talk) 08:59, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I have transferred this post for discussion to my talk page. Tony (talk) 04:07, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

it's unfortunately long[edit]

Any way of trimming? My theory is that it's very hard to get people to read anything, especially if it looks long and elaborate. The ToC draws breath. Tony (talk) 08:44, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

The length should be irrelevant to the content, trimming for the sake of trimming can cause future disputes.
Sincerely, -- (talk) 22:49, 24 October 2015 (UTC)