This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Collaboration between editors who hold opposing POV is essential to a healthy editing environment and the development of good NPOV content.|
Collaboration is as important as content contributions in a wiki community. While counterintuitive, this is because editors who are consistently disruptive and uncivil, temperamentally incompetent, or who bully or filibuster others into submitting to their will, will continuously alienate other contributors. These in turn become a wellspring of resentment and negativity, which worsens the goodwill of the project. New contributors or unregistered users are often pushed into corners through hostility by disruptive editors who border on bad-faith actions. These groups are protected by users who act as meatpuppets to each other for hazing and unofficial initiation using loopholes in the policy and guidelines rather than providing the support to which their victims are entitled, or working towards creating a harmonious environment for everyone.
A disruptive user or an otherwise productive contributor who cannot collaborate is not a productive contributor.
Conflicts happen when the contributors take a personal stance rather than valuing the content or respecting the process. In such conflicts, bear-baiting often happens and those who had escalated the conflict with support might artificially win when the other side gives up, are alienated from the community, or are blocked. Offenders involved in such power plays and marginalization may receive a topic ban from editing or other sanctions to halt further cyberbullying. Be conscientious about considering how all sides contributed to the problem though, or such sanctions may seem like a show trial.
Productive contributors in a dispute resolution should always be open towards the consensus and compromise process, act per policies whether in patrolling or countervandalism, and be honest in templating. They shouldn't deliberately sustain the conflict to get their way (e.g. by continuously moving the goalposts). They shouldn't try to rope in others editors or a newcomer to escalate the problem. Wikipedia should not be used to blow off steam.
How to mitigate alienation
In a collaborative environment like a wiki, contributors who are unable or unwilling to collaborate with others should be politely but firmly exclude from the portions where conflict occurs. If disruption continues after educating the user on how Wikipedia works, such users are handled through aversion practices. There are two types of aversion methods used to deal with non-collaborative editors.
Negative reinforcement occurs when the editor in question repeatedly proves to be a disruptive influence by not heeding advice or recommendations; their behavior is then met with negative sanctions like warnings and block. The blocking administrator can extend the interval for the next block appeal from review of the nature of the problem. If the administrator feels the editor requires some time before they can be a productive editor in Wikipedia, they should post information on the specific policies and guidelines that the user should be familiar with before becoming a contributor. The block appeal can be extended to a maximum of 6 months with the promise of support in case of complexities in understanding them. Note that serving early warnings to newcomers without proper guidance or educative polices & guidelines to help them can lead to unnecessary blocks and alienation.
The second type of aversion method for unhealthy practices is a gentle approach that assumes good faith in the editor that certain members label as conflicting. Here the administrator gives the user a collaborative and friendly statement on the problem (if there is one), and invites the user to other activities of the project or (if the user has been a significant contributor) may give primary user rights to the editor if needed so they can respond in the future as a good contributor. These positive sanctions can often lead to healthy contributions. However, in a small number of cases overconfident usage of new user rights leads to similar problems the editor previously exhibited and their rights may be expunged for bad faith practices. However this method isn't reserved for active editors with experience who fails to honor basic Wikipedia policies that would disturb harmonious environment in Wikipedia.
When aversion methods for non-collaborative practices don't seem to be effective, the user may be banned and in severe cases excluded from the community.
These processes address the alienation of other contributors or trauma caused to them, which in turn reduces resentment. Contributors who are listened to and part of the process will generally not feel alienated if the discussion doesn't favour their position on policy grounds, because they know that they are part of the project. The increased contributions in this more collaborative community will far outweigh those made by disruptive editors. Therefore, productive contributions in any forms are not a valid excuse for disruptive or anti-collaborative behaviour.
Editors need to learn how collaborative editing works, and it might require non-disruptive practice to achieve this skill (especially for first-timers). Collaboration is about moving forward and this is only possible if there is an agreeability. Therefore, involved editors in conflict should depend on one another. When editing on an article, this may involve negotiation and compromise on the talk page with editors who hold opposing points of view. In the actual editing environment, when one of your edits is rejected (reverted) by an another with summary or their reasoning in talk page notification, don't simply repeat it, but stay within the BOLD, revert, discuss cycle initiated by the person who rejected it and collaborate with the discussion on the talk page per talk page guidelines. Don't attack other editors, but focus on content and institutional context, and in some cases on the sociopolitical context. It's essential everyone involved in the discussion should communicate in an unambiguous (on policy and evidence, don't assume others know), interested (on problem solving), and non-hostile manner.
Never try to force your edit. You should assume good faith and seek to create a consensus version of your proposed edit before using it. Wikipedia is based on the idea that no one knows everything, but everyone knows something. It's important to understand editors who hold opposing points of view have made their edit from substantial evidences and homework. Productive contributors should evaluate sources and make themselves familiar (with or without help) with the sources unknown to the other, so that they all have a significant idea about the problem and aspects of POVs. This attempt should let you re-express the other's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your opposing editor says, "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way". Always be open to new information, and assume that your initial understanding of a concept or an event is probably partial, simplistic, or biased. Seek to merge your views with those of others if the evidences they bring are satisfactory. Working toward inclusionism, for you and the article, will benefit from the outcome.
- Don't mix personal or professional life with wiki-life. Being a wikipediholic might make you a fanatic which can alienate you from other contributors and may generate unhelpful stereotypical attitudes.
- If you revert an edit with content, show respect to the content provider with a comment or your reasoning for the action at their user talk page, or article talk page if necessary. Every action is saved in the history, and all your mistakes can be recalled as evidence against you if you're not gentle.
- Force yourself to always assume good faith, because your online behavior is your best, and often only, currency here.
- It's important to learn from experienced editors, be humble and take their guidance's as helpful advice.
- Disagreement is okay, as long as it doesn't get personal and you don't see other editors as enemies.
- Don't imitate the actions of disruptive users. Overconfidence might lead to a short career here.
- Acquiescence or sycophancy with editors of reputation isn't collaboration. It only promotes solicitation, which affects the wiki system badly.
- Be polite and civil in your engagements. A statement and its intention can mean different things to different people, and we all make mistakes. Disagreements don't mean devaluing the other editor.
- Always assume what seems evidently wrong, nonsensical or confusing at first is an indicator of difference in POVs. Acknowledge and explore the other person's perspective.
- Ask questions when you don't understand, but if you feel the topic is a burden at the time, leave the conflict respectfully. Accepting "you can't know everything" isn't incompetence but a show of credibility.
- Consensus on content doesn't always have to be dichotomous judgments.
- Abeyance is a positive thing when planning to do something (like researching the topic before reverting) but never in the middle of a conflict. Though neutral watchers are good to use suspension of judgment.
- Exaggeration and harsh criticism always invites counterargument and defensiveness. It will not make the other person open to your arguments and they will also treat you in the same way that you treat them.
- Every social interactions evoke emotions and it is wrong to believe that discussions of problems are merely analytical, rational activities. Don't hurt or disregard the other person. Apologise if you have crossed a line, and express thanks if you feel right to do so. Acknowledging feelings doesn't mean agreeing with the person, but good solutions depend on good interaction practices.
- Always remember collaboration is for maintaining a positive image for the project (the common objective), not for the online identity of the editors. Keep in mind that we are all volunteers.
- Dispute resolution
- Accepting everyone
- Forgive and forget
- Wikipedia is not about winning
- Don't be obnoxious
- The No Asshole Rule
- Tragedy of the commons
- On MeatballWiki: