User:Ariyen/Assume Good Faith

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Revision as of 00:31, 2 September 2012 by Ariyen (talk | contribs) (Guideline Proposal #2)
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Always assume, if no evidence exists to the contrary, that the intentions behind an edit are always in good faith.

  • Correct errors, but remember that almost all errors are unintentional or not believed to be errors.
  • Please explain your reasoning if you disagree with an edit, and please explain applicable policies if it appears a user may be unaware of them.
  • Make sure to examine your own views and consider whether or not another person's opinion regarding an edit for the wiki might be the better option.

Assuming good faith

To assume good faith is a fundamental principle on any wiki. As we allow anyone to edit, it follows that we assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it.

So, when you can reasonably assume that something is a well-intentioned error, correct it without just reverting it or labeling it as vandalism. When you disagree with someone, remember that they probably believe that they are helping the project. Consider using talk pages to explain yourself, and give others the opportunity to do the same. This can avoid misunderstandings and prevent problems from escalating. Especially, remember to be patient with new users, who might be unfamiliar with the wiki's culture and policies.

Corollary: Always explain your revert.

A new user's behavior probably seems appropriate to him or her and a problem usually indicates unawareness or misunderstanding of the wiki's culture and/or policies. It is not uncommon for a new user to believe that an unfamiliar policy or guidline should be changed to match their experiences elsewhere. Similarly, many new users bring with them experiences or expertise for which they expect immediate respect. Behaviors arising from these perspectives are not necessarily malicious.

Intentions, not actions

Assuming good faith is about intentions, not actions. Well-meaning people make mistakes sometimes, and you should correct them when they do. What you should not do is act like their mistake was deliberate. Correct, but don't scold. There will be people on the wiki that you disagree with. Even if they're wrong, that doesn't mean they're trying to wreck the project. There will be some people you find hard to work with. That doesn't mean they're trying to wreck the project either; it means they annoy you. It is never necessary that we attribute an editor's actions to bad faith, even if bad faith seems obvious, as all our countermeasures (i.e. reverting, blocking) can be performed on the basis of behavior rather than intent.

Of course, there's a difference between assuming good faith and ignoring bad actions. If you expect people to assume good faith from you, make sure you demonstrate it. Don't put the burden on others. Yelling "Assume Good Faith" at people does not excuse you from explaining your actions. Making a habit of yelling "Assume Good Faith", will convince people that you're acting in bad faith.

Why not to assume bad faith

When edit wars get hot, it's easy to forget to assume good faith.

If you assume bad faith, several things may happen:

  • Personal attacks: Once you've made a personal attack, the target will probably assume bad faith. The edit war will get even uglier. People rarely forget.
  • Losing sight of the ideal: making articles acceptable to everyone. Every revert (rather than change) of an edit, no matter how outrageous you feel the edit was, is a loss of potentially good information. Consider figuring out why the other person felt the article was wrong. Then, if possible, try to integrate their point, but in terms you consider neutral. If each side practices this they will eventually arrive at a mutually agreeable article.

Dealing with troublesome edits

Correcting someone's error (even if you do think it was deliberate) is better than accusing him or her of lying because the person will most likely take it in a good natured fashion. Correcting a newly added sentence that you know to be wrong is also much better than simply deleting it.

This guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of evidence to the contrary. Things which can cause the loss of good faith include vandalism, personal attacks, and edit wars.

Also note that this guideline does not imply that all editors are equally knowledgeable. If an editor adds information that is simply incorrect—this is usually easily verifiable on the wiki — you are allowed to immediately revert the article to its correct state, provided you state why in your edit summary and you do not do so as part of a revert war.