The Code of Conduct is a standard of conduct that sets out how editors should interact: editors should always endeavor to treat each other with consideration and respect. Even during heated debates, editors should behave politely, calmly and reasonably, in order to keep the focus on improving the encyclopedia and to help maintain a pleasant editing environment.
Incivility consists of personal attacks, rudeness, and aggressive behaviors that disrupt the project and lead to unproductive stress and conflict. Editors are human, capable of mistakes, so a few, minor incidents of incivility are not in themselves a major concern. A behavioral pattern of incivility is disruptive and unacceptable, and may result in blocks if it rises to the level of harassment or egregious personal attacks. A single act of incivility can also cross the line if it is severe enough: for instance, extreme verbal abuse or profanity directed at another contributor, or a threat against another person can all result in blocks without consideration of a pattern.
In general, be understanding and non-retaliatory in dealing with incivility. If others are uncivil, be understanding (people do say things when they get upset) rather than judgmental, and do not respond in kind. If necessary, point out gently that you think the comment might be considered uncivil, and make it clear that you want to move on and focus on the content issue. Bear in mind that the editor may not have considered it uncivil and that to insist that an editor be sanctioned for an isolated, minor offense, or to treat constructive criticism as an attack, is itself potentially disruptive, and may result in warnings or even blocks if repeated.
Differences of opinion are inevitable in a collaborative project. When discussing these differences some editors, in trying to be forthright, can seem unnecessarily harsh. Other editors can seem oversensitive when their views are challenged. Silent and faceless words on talk pages and in edit summaries do not transmit fully the nuances of verbal conversation, sometimes leading to misinterpretation of an editor's comments. An uncivil remark can escalate spirited discussion into a personal argument that no longer focuses objectively on the problem at hand. Such exchanges waste our efforts and undermine a positive, productive working environment. Resolve differences of opinion through civil discussion; disagree without being disagreeable. Discussion of other editors should be limited to polite discourse about their actions.
Try to treat your fellow editors as respected colleagues with whom you are working on an important project. Be especially welcoming and patient towards new users. Welcome other people to edit the articles but do discourage non constructive edits.
Incivility - or the appearance of incivility - typically arises from heated content disputes.
- Be careful with edit summaries. Edit summaries are relatively short comments (so potentially subject to misinterpretation, or to oversimplification), cannot be changed after pressing Save, and often written in haste, particularly if there is an edit war brewing or in progress. Especially when things are getting heated, remember to explain your edit, avoid personal comments about any editors you have disputes with, and consider using the talk page to further explain your view of the situation.
- Explain yourself. Not sufficiently explaining edits can be perceived as uncivil, whether that's the editor's intention or not. Use good edit summaries, and use the talk page if the edit summary doesn't provide enough space or if a more substantive debate is likely to be needed.
No personal attacks or harassment
Editors are expected to avoid personal attacks. It is as unacceptable to attack a user with a history of foolish or boorish behavior, as it is to attack any other user. The MechQuest Wiki encourages a positive online community: people make mistakes, but they are encouraged to learn from them and change their ways. Personal attacks and harassment are contrary to this spirit, damaging to the work of building an encyclopedia, and may result in blocks.
It is sometimes difficult to make a hard-and-fast judgement of what is uncivil and what is not. Such a judgement may need to take into account such matters as (i) the intensity of the language/behavior; (ii) whether the behavior has occurred on a single occasion, or is occasional or regular; (iii) whether a request has already been made to stop the behavior, and whether that request is recent; (iv) whether the behavior has been provoked; and (v) the extent to which the behavior of others need to be treated at the same time.
The following behaviors all contribute to an uncivil environment:
1. Direct rudeness
- (a) Rudeness, insults, name-calling, gross profanity or indecent suggestions
- (b) Personal attacks, including racial, ethnic, sexual and religious slurs, and derogatory references to groups such as social classes or nationalities
- (c) Ill-considered accusations of impropriety;
- (d) Belittling a fellow editor, including the use of judgmental edit summaries or talk-page posts (e.g. "snipped rambling crap", "that is the stupidest thing I have ever seen")
2. Other uncivil behaviors
- (a) Taunting or baiting: deliberately pushing others to the point of breaching civility even if not seeming to commit such a breach themselves
- (b) Harassment, including, personal or legal threats, posting of personal information, repeated email or user space postings
- (c) Lying to mislead, including deliberately asserting false information
- (d) Quoting another editor out of context to give the impression they hold views they do not hold, or to malign them.
Assume good faith
Unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, assume that people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it. Everyone makes mistakes, and a reminder is sufficient most of the time, but even when difficult disagreements occur, it may well be that no one involved has any ill intent.
Assume good faith as much as possible. The Assume Good Faith guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of obvious contrary evidence; however, do not assume any more intentional wrongdoing than the evidence clearly supports, and given equally plausible interpretations of the evidence, choose the most positive one. Attempting to believe the best of your fellow editors, and they of you, helps to eliminate some of the problems that arise when we communicate only in text, and cannot use all the verbal and visual cues used in talking face-to-face.
Dealing with incivility
In a case of ongoing incivility, first decide if anything needs to be done. Confronting someone over a minor incident – particularly if it turns out that you misinterpreted what they meant – may produce more stress and drama than the incident itself. Consider your own behavior, and, if you find you have been uncivil, apologize to him or her instead.
In escalating order of seriousness, here are the venues you may use for dispute resolution if the relevant page's talk page is insufficient:
- User talk page. If some action is necessary, first consider discussing it on that user's talk page. Be careful not to escalate the situation, and politely explain your objection.
- Contact an admin
Removing uncivil comments
Where the uncivil comment is yours, any of these options will help to reduce the impact:
- Where someone is taking offense at your comment where none was intended, calmly explain what you meant.
- Strike it out (using
<s>HTML strikeout tags</s>), to show, publicly, that you withdraw the comment.
- Quietly remove it, or rewrite the comment to be more civil – Usually only a good idea if you think better of it before anyone took offense to it. If someone has taken offense already, you should acknowledge the change in a quick comment after the changed text, for instance, Comment removed by author.
- Simply apologize. This option never hurts, and can be combined well with any of the others. Even if you feel the thrust of your words is true, or that they are misunderstanding what you meant, you can still apologize for the offense caused.
In the event of rudeness or incivility on the part of another editor, it is usually appropriate to discuss the offending words with that editor, and to request that editor to change that specific wording. Some care is necessary, however, so as not to further inflame the situation. It is not normally appropriate to edit or remove another editor's comment. Exceptions include to remove obvious trolling or vandalism, or if the comment is on your own user talk page.
For some people, it may be crucial to receive an apology from those who have offended them. Demanding an apology is almost never helpful and often inflames the situation further, though a polite, good faith request for an apology may be acceptable. Offering an apology is even better, and can be a key to resolving conflict. An apology provides the opportunity for a fresh start, and can clear the air when one person's perceived incivility has offended another.
Blocking for incivility
Editors are generally not blocked for minor incivility. Civility is a goal rather than an objective standard. Editors from around the world may have different cultural standards of civility, so a certain amount of tolerance is required. However, when incivility rises to the level of disruption, personal attacks, or harassment editors will likely be blocked.