Do not make personal attacks anywhere on MicroWiki. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks do not make a point; they only hurt the MicroWiki community (MicroWikians) and deter users from helping to create a good encyclopedia. Derogatory comments about other editors may be removed by anyone. Repeated or egregious personal attacks may lead to blocks.
Why personal attacks are harmful
In the past, we have had users who have been emotionally damaged by personal attacks, and we've also had some users who've threatened to commit suicide because of them.
The prohibition against personal attacks applies equally to all MicroWikians. It is as unacceptable to attack a user with a history of foolish or boorish behaviour, or one who has been blocked, banned, or otherwise sanctioned, as it is to attack any other user. MicroWiki encourages a civil 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.
Avoiding personal attacks
As a matter of polite and effective discourse, comments should not be personalized. That is, they should be directed at content and actions rather than people.
In disputes, the word "you" should be avoided when possible. 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", or "You really need to improve your page about X" is not a personal attack.
Editors should be civil and adhere to good wiki etiquette when describing disagreements. The appropriate response to an inflammatory statement is to address the issues of content rather than to accuse the other person of violating this policy. Accusing someone of making personal attacks without providing a justification for your accusation is also considered a form of personal attack.
What exactly is considered a personal attack?
There is no rule that is objective and not open to interpretation on what constitutes a personal attack as opposed to constructive discussion, but some types of comments are never acceptable:
- Racial, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ageist, religious, political, ethnic, national, sexual, or other epithets (such as against people with disabilities) directed against another contributor, or against a group of contributors. Disagreement over what constitutes a religion, race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity is not a legitimate excuse.
- Using someone's affiliations as an ad hominem means of dismissing or discrediting their views—regardless of whether said affiliations are mainstream. An example could be "you're not a micronationalist so what would you know about micronationalism?" Note that it is not a personal attack to question an editor at their talk page about their possible conflict of interest on a specific article or topic. However, speculating on the real-life identity of another editor may constitute outing, which is a serious offense.
- Linking to external attacks, harassment, or other material, for the purpose of attacking another editor.
- Comparing contributors to Nazis, dictators, or other infamous persons.
- Accusations about personal behavior that lack evidence. Serious accusations require serious evidence. Evidence often takes the form of diffs and links presented on wiki.
- Threats, including, but not limited to:
- Threats of legal action
- Threats of violence (including declarations of war), and off-wiki threats (particularly death threats)
- This includes personal attacks off-site.
- However, you cannot be blocked for declaring war off-site.
- Threats of vandalism to userpages or talk pages.
- Threats or actions which deliberately expose other MicroWiki 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.
- Threats to out (give out personal details about) an editor.
- Negative personal comments and "I'm better than you" attacks, such as "You have no life."
These examples are not exhaustive. 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.
What are not personal attacks
Users engaging in debate is an essential part of the culture of the MicroWiki. Assume good faith, be civil and adhere to good wiki etiquette when stating disagreements to avoid personalising them and try to minimise unnecessarily antagonistic comments. Disagreements with other editors can be discussed without resorting to personal attacks. It is important not to personalise comments that are directed at content and actions, but it is equally important not to interpret such comments as personal attacks. Specific examples of comments that are not personal attacks include, but are not limited to:
- Disagreements about content such as "Your statement about X is wrong" or "Your statement is a point of view, not fact" are not personal attacks.
- 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. Stating "Your statement is a personal attack..." is not itself a personal attack — it is a statement regarding the actions of the user, not a statement about the user.
- A comment in an edit history such as "reverting vandalism" is not a personal attack. However, it is important to assume good faith when making such a comment — if the edit that is being reverted could be interpreted as a good-faith edit, then don't label it as vandalism.
Responding to personal attacks
Often the best way to respond to an isolated personal attack is to simply ignore it and report it to an administrator. Sometimes personal attacks are not meant as attacks at all, and during heated and stressful debates editors tend to overreact. Additionally, because MicroWiki discussions are in a text-only medium, nuances and emotions are conveyed poorly which 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.