This is an essay on user compatability within Wikipedia.
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: People can come to Wikipedia in good faith and also not be a fit for the project. When this happens they are usually blocked or banned despite their best intentions.|
Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia. By default, it can be edited by anyone in the world with or without creating an account. Wikipedia is also a wiki, which means it is a collaborative project where all of the individuals editing it are working towards a common goal. On this wiki, that goal is building an encyclopedia. The overwhelming majority of people who edit Wikipedia as part of its community are here to help build it. Sometimes there are those who aren't, but they are typically dealt with quickly. A more difficult situation arises when someone is here to build the encyclopedia in good faith, but for one or many reasons, they or their personalities aren't compatible with working on a collaborative project.
Dealing with these cases can be time-consuming, but it doesn't need to be. The outcome of not being able to work with others on Wikipedia as well as in real life is the same: the person will be asked to change their behaviour. If they don't change their behaviour either because they are unable or unwilling to do so, they will be told to leave.
In these cases, good faith usually doesn't matter much. If someone is here in good faith, but they simply are not compatible with the project, they may still be blocked or banned.
Combination of factors
There are many factors that can lead to an individual being incompatible with this project. Some of them are listed below:
- Unwillingness to listen to feedback
- Disrespect of fellow Wikipedians
- Uncontrolled and aggressive attacks on others
- Conviction that they alone can make the world right
- Belief in their own brilliance over that of sourcing
- Acting as if their voice is more important than all others
- Threats or implications of bringing in outside authorities
- Harassment of other editors
- Constantly challenging everyone else's interactions with them
Each of these can be dealt with by measures short of an indefinite block individually. Some of them on their own may eventually result in an indefinite block or ban. When multiple factors are combined together, however, it can mean that the person is temperamentally unsuited to work on a collaborative project such as the English Wikipedia and is unlikely to help build it up in the long term, even if they are here in good faith to build that encyclopedia. Ultimately a person displaying many or even all of the factors above is very unlikely to have a positive experience on this project. Unless action is taken to limit their impact, they are likely to make others leave before they leave themselves.
How to deal with someone who is not compatible with Wikipedia
One of the principles of Wikipedia is that we assume good faith. Accordingly we reach out to people and try to explain to them how we do things here and how others might perceive their actions. Wikipedia believes in giving people chances.
At the same time, when someone has made it clear through their actions after being given multiple opportunities to improve that they are not compatible with a collaborative project, there is usually only one answer: asking them to leave. On Wikipedia, this usually takes the form of an indefinite block or site ban. In these circumstances, it is usually best to explain all the factors that led to the block or ban: sometimes each individual action is a minor problem on its own, but as a whole they paint a clear picture of someone who is just not going to be successful here.
Like all editors, administrators are volunteers who have limited time available to deal with the many issues and problems that arise when anyone can edit almost anything on Wikipedia. They will be reluctant to invest huge amounts of time to hand-hold someone if they assess that the user's approach is unlikely ever to be a net benefit to the project. It is not unreasonable for administrators to seek to resolve issues quickly and with minimum fuss – and eventually that may impact on whether an individual is permitted to continue editing, or is restricted in some manner. An appreciation of an administrator's responsibilities to minimise disruption to Wikipedia may help a user conclude whether or not they are compatible with this particular collaborative project.
How to be unblocked if this essay describes you
Being blocked for this reason is possibly the hardest type of block to have lifted on Wikipedia. You've likely annoyed a lot of people and the community, and an administrator has decided that it's unlikely things are going to work out so you need to leave without any set return date. This does not mean that you are a bad person, it simply means that you likely need to find another hobby.
Like all blocks, the standard for being unblocked is the same: convince the administrator it is no longer necessary. This ultimately means convincing them you have changed and grown from when you were blocked or banned. Factors that can help with this include things such as:
- Growing up: many teenagers grow up quickly in a short period of time.
- Working on other projects similar to the English Wikipedia in culture and values, such as Simple English Wikipedia.
- Explaining where you see yourself fitting in if you get unblocked.
- Being able to explain why you are being sincere and not just saying the right words.
- Agreeing not to do the things you were blocked for doing.
If you can convince others that something has changed and that you won't cause the same issues in the future, then you can be unblocked, but this is not automatic. It requires work on your part.
Simply being a good-faith user, and wanting to return because you want to help build the encyclopedia, is usually not enough in these cases. You really need to show the community that you have changed.