Wikipedia talk:No personal attacks

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Page protected[edit]

There seems to have been an edit war going on on the page, over whether the lead section should be a single paragraph, or a bulleted list, or a series of short sentences or phrases, each in a separate paragraph. The actual text hasn't been changed much if at all, from my quick check of the recent history. Indeed it seems that every edit to the project page since 3 April has been to revert or reapply this formatting change. This kind of edit war is never good, but on a policy page it is simply not acceptable. Please discuss here on the talk page and find consensus if possible. I have protected the page for three days, and I hope that is long enough to settle the issue. I personally have no opinion on which format is better. @JohnCD, Ish Lalan, MER-C, Goolbax, GeneralizationsAreBad, Velella, Favonian, Fadican, Gogo Dodo, Balihafi, and Oshwah: DES (talk) 21:53, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

This appears to have been socking by Becambuisness. There's plenty of it in the page history, it seems. GABHello! 21:56, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
I have no opinion on the matter. My role was simply to restore to last good versions of the articles that had been edited by someone clearly not here to create an encyclopaedia and who looked very much like a sock (subsequently shown to be so). Whether the page needs protection I am happy to leave to your discretion, but I suspect that removing the root cause of the problem, as has been done, is a more effective remedy.  Velella  Velella Talk   22:10, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes, what looks like an edit war is actually repeated reversion of a persistent sockpuppetteer, see Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Becambuisness. JohnCD (talk) 22:31, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Additional Types of Personal Attacks ?[edit]

Should the list of types of personal attacks be expanded or clarified in a few ways?

In particular, there is an item: "Accusations about personal behavior that lack evidence." Should it be stated that the claim that another editor is a sock-puppet if it is made without substantiation, or if it made without filing a sock-puppet investigation? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:51, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

It is agreed that the use of the term "vandalism" in a content dispute, when there is no actual reason to call the edit vandalism, is a personal attack. Should this policy include that statement? (It is in what is not vandalism.) Unfortunately, it is quite popular among some contentious editors to yell "vandalism" to "win" a content dispute. (There are other common "winning yells" that really just lose, including "sock-puppet.) Should we state in this policy that that is a personal attack? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:51, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm not sure there's much value in specifying all the things you could potentially accuse people of. Nikkimaria (talk) 18:29, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
We do have the essay Wikipedia:Casting aspersions which is based on several passed arbcom principals. It is widely enforced and seems to stand up to review when it is the basis of a block. It seems to be an accurate description of our best practices. We could expand on what you have already but I don't think we should be any more specific than needed. HighInBC 01:25, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Claiming that an other person is a sockpuppet would clearly be an accusation about personal behavior, so unless the accuser has evidence, the phrase "Accusations about personal behavior that lack evidence" would clearly apply. Filing an SPI report is the best way to present the evidence, but doing it in an other reasonable way should be sufficient. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 03:09, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

Personal attacks against groups of people[edit]

Over the years I have often heard the excuse "If I attack a group of editors rather than a specific editor it is not a personal attack". I have always responded "Groups of editors are made out of people". Typically the comment will take the form of "Those jackasses in arbcom" or "We have a bunch of asshole admins running around" or "Members of wikiproject <insert project here> are brainless". I have always considered this form of argument Wikipedia:Wikilawyering, specifically the part of the essay that says "Misinterpreting policy or relying on technicalities to justify inappropriate actions".

We currently have a section that says "Racial, sexist, homophobic, transphobic... directed against another contributor, or against a group of contributors..." which seems to show me that the spirit of the policy never meant to exclude groups of contributors from protection. Since groups are only mentioned once some would(and have) interpreted this to mean it is okay to say "Content creators are pretentious pricks" but not "<insert religion> are a bunch of heathens".

I have enforced NPA on such comments in the past and have had those blocks upheld in review. It is my opinion that the spirit of the policy has always been against such comments. The lead "Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia" makes the spirit of the article clear. The spirit of the policy is to provide an environment where people can be protected from abuse, and member of a group being attacked are going to feel abused.

I propose a simple change. Alter the lead from "Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia" to "Do not make personal attacks against any editor or group of editors anywhere in Wikipedia". I would also embrace any alternate wording that has the same effect. I think this reflects both the spirit of the policy and our existing best practices.

My apologies to any group I used in the examples. What do other people think? HighInBC 02:56, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Are you familiar with unparliamentary language? If an MP is hauled up for calling someone a stupid donkey. The classic defence is to say "I was wrong to call the right honourable member a donkey". If someone writes "Those jackasses in arbcom" or "We have a bunch of asshole admins running around" they can then argue that they are not attacking the group arbcom but just the jackasses in arbcom (and by extension that it is an accurate description of a subgroup of arbcom members). Also if someone writes "I think there are asshole admins running around", are you proposing to enforce a rule more strictly than libel laws are enforced? -- PBS (talk) 06:13, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Our existing standards are already far more strict than libel laws. For example we don't allow name calling just because something may be true. Libel laws allow you to say all kinds of nasty things about a person if it is true. Even if someone is an asshole, we still don't allow people to call them an asshole here. Instead we expect people criticize the actions and not attack the person. The defence that it is true does not hold for attacks against individuals, so why would it make a difference with a group? HighInBC 16:35, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
You cannot personally attack a group of anonymous people. If that were the case, we would all be hauled up in court every time we had a view on our politicians. It is similar to libel laws as again, you cannot libel a group of people. Never before has a talk thread been more ironic. CassiantoTalk 09:57, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Except this is not a court. Nobody is suggested you cannot insult people outside of the project. The standards of the law allow for all kinds of behaviour that would be detrimental to this project. The free speech zone is right outside this website. Of course you can attack a group of people(none of the groups I mentioned are anonymous, I think you meant non-specific), the question being raised here is it it harmful to the project. HighInBC 16:42, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
No shit Sherlock. I thought this was a court, well thank god you're around! The useless idiots I mentioned very much exist and will remain anonymous; I know who they were, it's just I omitted names. The idiots of whom I speak are the ones harming this project, nobody else. CassiantoTalk 23:06, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
A good example is currently on an evidence talkpage at arbcom, where one editor has described 'most' of the others as 'Gamergate malcontents'. While obviously a personal attack, as they do not single out any one editor, or even say all editors, it's clearly unactionable under the current wording (or as one of the editors there, I would have just nuked it). It's clear there is a gap in the policy here but unsure how to fix it. 'Attacks against groups absent evidence can also be removed'? Only in death does duty end (talk) 17:40, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
There is a precedent (sort of), we already apply BLP to small groups of people as they are identifiable. For PAs, If I say 'ARBCOM are lying twats', it's clearly a personal attack against the group of editors that make up ARBCOM, if I say 'Wikipedia editors are lying twats' then the group is so large as to be meaningless - clearly I don't think they are all bad since I demonstrateably get on with some of them. Only in death does duty end (talk) 18:39, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
HighInBC, can you give an example of conduct that ought to bring a response that would be caught under this policy that is not caught under the status quo?--Wehwalt (talk) 01:32, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
I gave several examples in my original post. HighInBC 15:41, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

I would claim that the following applies:

  1. The NPA policy has always been about personal attacks on other editors, not for example claiming that "well most politicians are corrupt" etc, so libel law doesn't apply.
  2. The purpose of the NPA policy is to promote civil and constructive discussion. Personal attacks are not only rude, they also make people angry, inflaming the discussion and making it less rational.
  3. This is true even if the person attacked is not named. If an unnamed person is attacked, this in fact can make several people angry, as they all might think they are the one being attacked.

Therefore it is in my opinion clear that being vague, attacking unnamed editors or attacking groups of editors, even if unnamed, should not be allowed. You can't give people a free pass to insult editors and raise the temperature of a discussion by not naming the editors being insulted. --OpenFuture (talk) 12:32, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

Our reason for WP:NPA given in the lead is "Personal attacks harm the Wikipedia community, and the collegial atmosphere needed to create a good encyclopedia". Attacking groups of editors seems to me just as likely to do this as attacking single editors, and so I can't see any objection to adding the language HighInBC suggests... Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 08:16, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
Can you tell me if you would consider: "Fucking admins, some behave like complete wankers" to be a PA? In the same way that someone might say: "Fucking team, some of them played like complete wankers tonight" upon seeing their favourite football team loose a game? CassiantoTalk 11:04, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
See my comment and example above re small and large groups. Admins as a group is sufficiently large enough that saying 'some of them behave badly' could not really be considered a personal attack. (Arguably it can be proven with evidence that some of them DO behave badly - there are arbcom cases to prove it). Where the group is small enough, its clearly a directed personal attack at that group of people. Only in death does duty end (talk) 11:34, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
None of your example sentences are useful or constructive. You are free to scream them at the computer monitor and TV respectively, but they have no place on Wikipedia. --OpenFuture (talk) 12:07, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I would. And if the consensus were that calling a group of people "complete wankers" is not a personal attack because it's not against a single specific person, I would still consider it uncivil, unhelpful, and an ill-advised thing to say. If you wanted to complain about specific admin actions, that wouldn't be a personal attack, but casting random aspersions that some of them are "wankers" absolutely is in my opinion. Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 15:38, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
Then I feel sorry for you. CassiantoTalk 16:59, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

I don't believe there is any need to fight, all issues can be resolved with proper communication, but you must learn to understand each other. Millzie95 (talk) 12:47, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

To whom do I go[edit]

Hey y'all, I was just insulted on the page Ani-Stohini/Unami (talk page), the user did not sign his/her name, and there is nothing there to find out who it is (was?). In reacting, I think I did let my temper get the best of me, but how did I report this behaviour? Especially since there is no user name or IP address to be found. Thanks! Adam (talk) 15:06, 31 May 2016 (UTC)

Don't worry about it. The user was an anonymous IP and has already been blocked, and the comment was removed by an administrator. You can see who made any comment by looking at the page history, available from the "View History" tab across the top of the page. In future if you would like to report such an incident, the place to do it is at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. But in most cases, especially with throwaway IPs, the best response is to simply ignore it. Ivanvector 🍁 (talk) 15:11, 31 May 2016 (UTC)

Great article[edit]

I am impressed with how this was explained, I know it's a controversial topic, communication is key. Millzie95 (talk) 12:45, 19 May 2016 (UTC)