William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Stated simply, editors should always treat each other with consideration and respect.

English Wikipedia civility policy

Civility on the English Wikipedia is a surprisingly derisive topic – you wouldn’t think that “don’t be a dick” would cause a reaction other than “yeah, good idea”.

On the other hand – Wikipedians.

I’m oversimplifying it though, as I often do. The nuance as I understand it is more around the issue of Wikipedia being a large, multi-cultural project where disputes will happen and tempers will get frayed.

It really should go without saying that an editor will at some point get annoyed that their article about some interesting train or whatever has been tagged as slightly too promotional and instead of being able to step away and cool off, will say something uncivil.

And I get that. I might be seen as a bit of a “civility admin”, but I do honestly get it. Heck, I’ve lost my temper more times than I care to admit at the ruddy website and I’m not even that into trains. It’s how we react afterwards that I’m more interested in, and how I tend to judge if an editor needs to be blocked.

There’s only a few things that I can think of which an editor could say in ‘anger’, where an apology and keeping out of the way for a bit wouldn’t solve the resultant offence. And the sorts of people who say those sorts of things aren’t really welcome on the project regardless.

The majority of editors who have been mighty uncivil and get called out on it will apologise. No one likes to be made to look like a dick.

This argument only really works for those one-off incidents though – how on earth do we apply this to editors who have been around for years, who contribute greatly to the project but who barely toe the line on civility? These editors slowly drive away contributors but do it subtly, in ways which don’t end up with them hauled to AN/I.

And that dear reader is where I’m still at a loss. Part of me wants to hold them to the same standards as everyone else, but knows that a civility block on a “vested contributor” will be undone before the page has reloaded. At the very least, I don’t believe they should get any special treatment – the wiki, after all, doesn’t need you.

That reminds me, need to do a post on ArbCom 😬

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