SmashWiki:No personal attacks

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Policy.png This page documents an official SmashWiki policy, a widely accepted standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. If in doubt, consider discussing changes on the talk page.

Do not make personal attacks anywhere in SmashWiki. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks will not help you make a point; they hurt the community and deter users from helping create good articles. Equally, accusing someone of making a personal attack is not something that should be done lightly, especially if you are involved in a dispute. It is best for an uninvolved observer to politely point out that someone has made a personal attack, and for the discussion to return to considering the content, not the person.

What is considered a personal attack?

Different contributors often do not agree on some of the content within an article. Contributors often are members of opposing communities who wish to have their viewpoints included in articles. Synthesizing these views into a single article creates a better article for everyone. Every person who edits an article is part of the same community.

Editors should be civil when stating disagreements. Comments should not be personalized and should be directed at content and actions rather than people. However, when there are disagreements about content, referring to other editors is not always a personal attack. A posting that says "Your statement about X is wrong because of information at Y", or "The paragraph you inserted into the article looks like opinion", is not a personal attack. Even some comments that might appear to be a personal attack, such as labeling an edit that removes a substantial amount of text as "vandalism", may be well-intentioned. The appropriate response to such statements is to address the issues of content rather than to accuse the other person of violating this policy.

There is no clearly defined rule or standard about what constitutes a personal attack as opposed to constructive discussion, but some types of comments that are never acceptable include but are not limited to:

  • Racial, sexual, homophobic, heterophobic, ageist, religious, political, or ethnic epithets directed against another contributor. Disagreement over what constitutes a religion, race, sexual preference, or ethnicity is not a legitimate excuse.
  • Using someone's affiliations as a means of dismissing or discrediting their views — regardless of whether said affiliations are mainstream or extreme.
  • Threats of legal action.
  • Threats of physical violence, particularly death threats, or encouraging self harm, such as telling a user to kill themselves.
  • Threats of vandalism to user pages or talk pages.
  • Threats to interfere with the usual operation of a user's device.
  • Threats or actions which expose other contributors to political, religious or other persecution by government, their employer or any others.
  • Posting a link to an external source that fits the commonly accepted threshold for a personal attack, in a manner that incorporates the substance of that attack into discussion, including the suggestion that such a link applies to another editor, or that another editor needs to visit the external source containing the substance of the attack.

These examples are not inclusive. Insulting or disparaging an editor is a personal attack regardless of the manner in which it is done. When in doubt, comment on the article's content without referring to its contributor at all. Users should note that the use of profanity does not automatically constitute a personal attack.

The prohibition against personal attacks applies equally to all contributors, including admins. It is as unacceptable for anyone to attack a user with a history of foolish or boorish behavior, or even one who has been subject to disciplinary action as it is to attack any other user. SmashWiki encourages a positive online community: people make mistakes, but they are encouraged to learn from them and change their ways. Personal attacks are contrary to this spirit and damaging to the continued growth of the wiki.

Responding to personal attacks

Initial options

Frequently, the best way to respond to an isolated personal attack is not to respond at all. Debates can become stressful for some editors, who may occasionally overreact. Additionally, talk page discussions are in a text-only medium that conveys nuances and emotions poorly; this can easily lead to misunderstanding. While personal attacks are not excused because of these factors, editors are encouraged to disregard angry and ill-mannered postings of others when it is reasonable to do so, and to continue to focus their efforts on improving and developing SmashWiki.

If you feel that a response is necessary and desirable, you should leave a polite message on the other user's talk page. Do not respond on a talk page of an article; this tends to escalate matters. Likewise, it is important to avoid becoming hostile and confrontational yourself, even in the face of abuse. When possible, try to find compromise or common ground regarding the underlying issues of content, rather than argue about behavior. If you are too angry to respond without violating this policy, consider taking a short break from the wiki, or contact an admin.

Attacks that are particularly offensive or disruptive (such as physical or legal threats) should not be ignored. Extraordinary situations that require immediate intervention are rare, but may be reported to any active site admin on their talk page.

Recurring attacks

Recurring personal attacks that do not stop after reasoned requests to cease should be reported to any active site admin on their talk page. Especially when personal attacks arise as the result of heated debate over article content, informal mediation and discussions with third parties are often the best ways to resolve the conflict. In most circumstances, problems with personal attacks can be resolved if editors work together and focus on content, and immediate administrator action is not required.

Removal of text

Removal requests should be directed to an admin to determine if the comments should remain, be archived, or be deleted. However, deletion should be rare, limited to situations where the comments pose an ongoing threat to a user such as revealing personal information in the attack.

Consequences of personal attacks

Although editors are encouraged to ignore or respond politely to isolated personal attacks, that should not imply that they are acceptable or without consequences. A pattern of hostility reduces the likelihood of the community assuming good faith, and can be considered disruptive editing.

Users who insist on a confrontational style marked by personal attacks can receive administrative disciplinary action, including short-term or extended bans. If an administrator believes that a personal attack is severe or disruptive enough to warrant it, a user may also receive disciplinary action on a first offense. Subsequent violations can result in disciplinary action, such as bans, being applied for longer durations.