- First of all, consider whether you and the other editor may simply have misunderstood each other. Clarify, and ask for clarification.
- Consider the possibility that something you said or did wrongly provoked a defensive, irritated or fed-up response. Be prepared to apologise for anything which you could / should have done better. (If an awful lot of people seem to be getting frustrated with you, the problem may be with you.)
- Even if you're offended, be as calm and reasonable as possible in your response. Until there is clear evidence to the contrary, assume that the offense was unintended.
- Explain, clearly but kindly, exactly what you felt was uncivil. Sometimes it helps to let the other editor know how their edit made you feel. Editors are not mind-readers. ("That made me feel..." is much less likely to incite more anger or resentment than "Your post was...")
- Ask them to strike through an uncivil comment, or re-word it calmly and neutrally.
- No matter how much you're being provoked, resist the temptation to snap back. It never works; it just makes things worse. Strive to become the editor who can't be baited.
- If none of this is working, and the other person is not damaging the project or being uncivil or unkind to other editors, either walk away or request dispute resolution from uninvolved editors.
- In "emergency" situations, where the other editor needs to be stopped in their tracks to avoid causing serious disruption or needs a fast and strong wake-up call, file a report at the administrator "Incidents" noticeboard. Bear in mind the risk of being hoist by your own petard if you yourself are guilty of policy violations. Please also read the ANI Advice first.
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 behaviour, and, if you find you have been uncivil, apologize
to them 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. You may also wish to include a diff of the specific uncivil statement. If you are in active dispute with the user, consider offering an olive branch to them instead.
- Third opinion. This forum can be used to request outside input from an uninvolved user regarding the problem. Like many Wikipedia:Dispute resolution processes, it is limited to encyclopedia content disputes.
- Administrators' noticeboard (AN/I). The Administrators' noticeboard is intended to report and discuss severe incidents of misconduct that require intervention by administrators and experienced editors.
- The last step – only when other avenues have been tried and failed – is the Arbitration Committee, who will scrutinise all sides involved in the dispute and create binding resolutions.
Removing uncivil comments
Where the uncivil comment is yours, any of these options will help to reduce the impact:
- Where someone is unintentionally offended at your comment, 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 objected to it. If someone has already reacted, 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.
In the event of rudeness or incivility on the part of another editor, it may be 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 if the comment is on your own user talk page. Derogatory comments about another contributor may be removed by any editor.
A special case is outing
, that is, revealing personally identifiable information
about another editor that they have not revealed themselves and probably do not want known, such as their name, phone number or address. These should be immediately reverted, then an oversighter
should be contacted to remove the information from the edit history, so that it cannot be found by anyone else later. This applies whether or not the information is correct
, as to confirm the information is incorrect by treating it any differently gives the outer useful information. Wikipedia:Outing
has full information.
Different places, different atmospheres
Article talk pages should be, on the whole, considered to be professional workspaces. They're places to talk about how to improve the article, and to discuss the article (though it's OK for conversations to wander into related areas, or go more into depth than the article does, as that helps with research and gives ideas on improvement). But an editor's talk page is more like their kitchen; it's more informal, and (within reason) it's up to them what happens in there. Clearly, just like in a real kitchen, it's no more acceptable to stick a knife in someone than it is in the office. Personal attacks are not acceptable anywhere, but expect users' own talk pages to have a much more informal atmosphere than article talk pages.
Apologising: It's OK to say sorry
Disputes, and even misunderstandings, can lead to situations in which one party feels injured by the other. There's no loss of face in apologising. We all make mistakes, we all say the odd hurtful thing, we all have bad days and bad moments. If you have a sneaky feeling you owe someone an apology
, offer the apology. Apologising does not hurt you.
Remember, though, that you cannot demand an apology from anyone else. It will only get their back up and make it either less likely to happen, or to be totally insincere if you do get an apology. Never be too proud to make the first move when it comes to saying sorry. That kind of "pride" is destructive. 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
Blocking for incivility is possible when incivility causes serious disruption
. However, the civility policy is not
intended to be used as a weapon and blocking should not be the first option in most cases.
- Be sure to take into account all the relevant history. Avoid snap judgments without acquainting yourself with the background to any situation.
- Think very hard of the possible merits of all other avenues of approach before you take action. Sanctions for civility violations should only happen when nothing else would do. Poorly considered civility blocks have at times worsened disputes and increased disruption. Remember that sanctions may be more applicable under another heading (disruption, personal attack, tendentious editing, or harassment)
- Civility blocks should be for obvious and uncontentious reasons, because an editor has stepped over the line in a manner nearly all editors can see. In cases where you believe that taking admin action against someone who was uncivil might be contentious, it is expected that discussion will be opened on the matter, via WP:ANI, before any admin action is taken. Benefits derived from long or controversial civility blocks should be weighed against the potential for disruption caused by block reviews, and unblock requests.
- Users should be clearly warned, in most circumstances, before being blocked for incivility, and should be allowed sufficient time to retract, reword or explain uncivil comments. Even experienced contributors should not be blocked without warning. Exceptions to this may include users who make egregious violations or threats, or who have received multiple warnings.
Immediate blocking is generally reserved for cases of major
incivility, where incivility rises to the level of clear disruption, personal attacks, harassment or outing
. As with other blocks, civility blocks should be preventive and not punitive