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Civility is a must if you are editing talk pages, responding on the Senate Hall, or making edit summaries. Even if you don't respect any of your fellow Wookieepedians, you can be civil to them.
Examples of incivility
- Judgmental tone in edit summaries ("fixed sloppy spelling," "snipped rambling crap")
- Belittling contributors because of their language skills or word choice
- Ill-considered accusations of impropriety of one kind or another
- Starting a comment with: "Not to make this personal, but..."
- Calling someone a liar, or accusing him/her of slander or libel. Even if true, such remarks tend to aggravate rather than resolve a dispute.
Some more serious examples include:
- Personal attacks
- Racial, ethnic, and religious slurs
- Profanity directed at another contributor
- Defacing user pages
- Giving users derogatory names via Pagemove Trolling
- Calling for bans or blocks
Incivility happens, for example, when you are quietly creating a new page, and another user tells you, If you're going to write a pointless page, could you spell-check it?
Escalation occurs when you reply, Mind your own business.
This style of interaction between Wookieepedians drives away contributors, distracts others from more important matters, and weakens the entire community.
When and why does it happen?
- During an edit war, when people have different opinions, or when there is a conflict over sharing power.
- When the community grows larger. Each editor does not know all the others and may not perceive the importance of each individual to the project — so they don't worry about maintaining relationships that don't exist. Reputation does not count as much as in a smaller community.
- Sometimes, a particularly impolite user joins the project. This can also aggravate other editors into being impolite themselves.
Most of the time, insults are used in the heat of the moment during a longer conflict. They are essentially a way to end the discussion. Often the person who made the insult regrets having used such words afterward.
In other cases, the offender is doing it on purpose: either to distract the "opponent(s)" from the issue, or simply to drive them away from working on the article or even from the project, or to push them to commit an even greater breach in civility, which might result in ostracism or banning. In those cases, it is far less likely that the offender will have any regrets and apologize.
It should be noted that some editors deliberately push others to the point of breaching civility, without committing such a breach themselves.
Preventing incivility within Wookieepedia
- Prevent edit wars and conflict between individuals
- Force delays between answers to give time to editors to calm down and recover and to avoid further escalation of a conflict (protecting pages, or temporary blocks of editors in case of conflict)
- Use positive feedback (praising those who do not respond to incivility with incivility)
- Apply peer pressure (voicing displeasure each time rudeness or incivility happens)
- Solve the root of the conflict between the offender and the other editor(s) or the community — or find a compromise.
- Use negative feedback (suggesting that an editor involved in conflict should leave a conflict or even temporarily avoid all controversial areas in Wookieepedia). It may be worthwhile making such suggestions to both sides of the conflict.
- Block certain users from editing specific pages that often trigger incivility
- Create and enforce a new rule — based on use of certain words — that will allow temporary blocking or banning an editor using them more than a certain number of times.
- Accepting that incivility and rudeness can't be entirely avoided in such a project, and not responding in kind.
- Giving awards for good edits.
Reducing the impact
- Balance each uncivil comment by providing a soothing or constructive comment
- Do not answer offensive comments. Forget about them. Forgive the editor. Do not escalate the conflict. (an individual approach)
- Ignore incivility. Operate as if the offender does not exist. Set up a "wall" between the offender and the community.
- Revert edits with a veil of invisibility (&bot=1) to reduce the impact of the offensive words used in edit summaries (the comment box)
- Walk away. Just go edit somewhere else for a while and return when tempers have cooled.
Management of incivility during the mediation process
Parties sometimes attempt to negotiate an agreement while one party is not ready to negotiate. For example, if the source of the conflict is a specific point in an article, dispute resolution may be impaired if discussion is still clouded by an uncivil exchange between both parties. It is best to clear up that issue as soon as possible, so disputants can regain their balance and clarity when editing.
Some editors are badly shaken by uncivil words directed towards them, and can't focus on the source of the conflict itself. It may help to point out to them why unpleasant words were used, and acknowledge that while incivility is wrong, the ideas behind the comment may be valid.
The offended person may realize that the words were not always meant literally, and could decide to forgive and forget them.
It can be helpful to point out breaches of civility even when done on purpose to hurt, as it might help the disputant to refocus on the issue.
Rephrasing disputants' comments
During the mediation process, a third neutral party is in contact with both disputants, ensuring communication between them. The role of the mediator is to promote reasonable discussion between the two disputants. Therefore it is helpful to remove incivility voiced by User A, in rephrasing comments to User B.
- For example, if User A and User B are flaming each other by e-mail through a mediator, it might be best if the intermediary turns "I refuse to allow Neo-Nazi apologetics to infest the Wookieepedia" to "User A is concerned that you may be giving too much prominence to a certain view."
Rephrasing flames publicly exchanged before or during the mediation process
At the end of the mediation process, the mediator may suggest that the disputants agree to remove uncivil comments that have remained on user and article talk pages. The editors might agree to delete pages created specifically to abuse or flame one another, and/or to remove all flaming content not relevant to the article discussion, and/or to refactor a discussion. This may allow disputants to forgive and forget offenses more quickly.
Similarly, the disputants might agree to apologize to each other.
The apology is an act that is neither about problem-solving and negotiation, nor is it about arbitration. Rather, it is a form of ritual exchange between both parties, where words are said that allow reconciliation.
For some people, it may be crucial to receive an apology from those who have offended them. For this reason, a sincere apology is often the key to the resolution of a conflict: an apology is a symbol of forgiveness. An apology is very much recommended when one person's perceived incivility has offended another.