Policy:No personal attacks
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Do not make personal attacks anywhere in BattleTechWiki. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks will not help you make a point; they hurt the BattleTechWiki community and deter users from helping create a good encyclopedia. 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?
Debate is an essential part of the culture of BattleTechWiki. 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, more NPOV article for everyone. Every person who edits an article is part of the same larger community - we are all Editors.
Editors should be civil and adhere to good wiki etiquette 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" is not a personal attack. 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 perfect guidance about what constitutes a personal attack as opposed to constructive discussion, but some types of comments are never acceptable:
- Racial, sexual, homophobic, 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 violence, particularly death threats.
- Threats of vandalism to userpages or talk pages.
- Threats or actions which expose other BattleTechWiki Editors to political, religious or other persecution by government, their employer or any others. Violations of this sort may result in a block for an extended period of time, which may be applied immediately by any administrator upon discovery. Admins applying such sanctions should confidentially notify the members of the Arbitration Committee of what they have done and why.
- 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 BattleTechWiki 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.
The prohibition against personal attacks applies equally to all BattleTechWiki Editors. It is as unacceptable to attack a user with a history of foolish or boorish behavior, or even one who has been subject to disciplinary action by the Arbitration Committee, as it is to attack any other user. BattleTechWiki 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 work of building an encyclopedia.
Responding to personal attacks
Frequently, the best way to respond to an isolated personal attack is not to respond at all. BattleTechWiki and its debates can become stressful for some editors, who may occasionally overreact. Additionally, BattleTechWiki 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 the encyclopedia.
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. Although templates have been used at times for this purpose, a customized message relating to the specific situation is often better received. When possible, try to find compromise or common ground regarding the underlying issues of content, rather than argue about behavior.
Personal attacks do not include civil language used to describe an editor's actions, and when made without involving their personal character, should not be construed as personal attacks, for instance, stating "Your statement is a personal attack..." is not itself a personal attack.
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 on the administrators' noticeboard.
Recurring, non-disruptive personal attacks that do not stop after reasoned requests to cease should be resolved through the dispute resolution process. Especially when personal attacks arise as the result of heated debate over article content, informal mediation and third-party opinions 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
The community has not reached a consensus about whether personal attacks should be removed, although it is still a matter of debate. Removing unquestionable personal attacks from your own user talk page is much less of a concern than removing comments from other pages in BattleTechWiki. For text elsewhere, where such text is directed against you, removal should be limited, except in unusual circumstances, to comments that are listed above as clear violations of this policy.
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 are likely to be handled through the dispute resolution process, possibly including the serious consequences of arbitration, and may become subject to a community ban.
In extreme cases, even isolated personal attacks may lead to a block for disruption. Legal threats, death threats, and issues of similar severity, in particular, may result in a block without warning. However, administrators are cautioned that other resolutions are preferable to blocking for less severe situations when it is unclear if the "conduct severely disrupts the project". Recurring attacks are proportionally more likely to be considered "disruption".
Off-wiki personal attacks
BattleTechWiki acknowledges that it cannot regulate behavior in media not under the control of the wiki, but personal attacks elsewhere may create doubt as to whether an editor's on-wiki actions are being conducted in good faith. Posting personal attacks or defamation off-BattleTechWiki is harmful to the entire community, and to an Editor's relationship with it. While an Editor may not be directly penalized for off-wiki attacks, such attacks may be taken as aggravating factors when any on-wiki policy violations are being considered. For example, they can be used as evidence in the dispute-resolution process, including in Arbitration cases.