edit Talk Page Manners
When writing on a talk page, certain approaches are counter-productive, while others facilitate good editing. The prime values of the talk page are communication, courtesy and consideration.
edit Central points
- Assume good faith: Treat the other person in the discussion as a fellow contributor, who is a thinking, feeling person, trying to contribute positively, just like you - unless, of course, you have objective proof to the contrary. By objective proof, it means something which can be validated by a third party. The simple fact that someone disagrees with you, is not proof of bad faith!
- Communicate: If in doubt, make the extra effort so that other people understand you, and you get a proper understanding of others. Being friendly is a great help. It is always a good idea to explain your views; it is less helpful for you to voice an opinion on something and not explain why. Giving an opinion helps in convincing others and reaching consensus.
- Be positive: Talk pages should be used to discuss ways to improve things; not to criticize, pick apart, or vent about the current status of something. If you feel something is wrong, but aren't sure how to fix it, then by all means feel free to draw attention to this and ask for suggestions from others but make your comments constructive and positive.
- Be considerate: Keep in mind that people are different. Be thoughtful when it comes to politics, religion and other beliefs.
edit Good practice
- Sign your posts: To sign a post, type three tildes (~~~), and they will be replaced with your name.
- Avoid excessive markup: It undermines a reasoned argument with the appearance of force through Italic text, Bolded text, and especially CAPITAL LETTERS, which are considered SHOUTING, and RANTING!!!!! Italics, however, can be usefully employed for a key word, to distinguish quoted text from new text and, of course, book titles etc.
- Be concise: If your post is longer than 100 words consider shortening it. Long, rambling messages are difficult to understand, and are frequently either ignored or misunderstood. If you need to make a detailed, point by point discussion.
- Keep the layout clear: Keep the talk page attractively and clearly laid out. Avoid repetition, muddled writing, and unnecessary digressions. Talk pages with a good signal-to-noise ratio are more likely to attract continued participation.
- Read the archives: Many staff talk pages contain links to archives, which contain earlier discussions. If you are a new contributor, be sure to read them, as they often deal with common disputes and resolutions to them. You may well find your questions and/or objections have already been answered.
- Use English: No matter to whom you address a comment, it is preferred that you use English. This is so that comments may be comprehensible to the community at large. If the use of another language is unavoidable, try to also provide a translation of the comments.
- Be welcoming to newcomers: New people may be unfamiliar with policy and conventions. Please do not bite the newcomers. If someone does something against custom, assume it was an unwitting mistake. Politely and gently point out their mistake and suggest a better approach.
edit Behavior that is unacceptable
- No personal attacks A personal attack is saying something negative about another person. This mainly means:
- No insults: Don't make ad hominem attacks, such as calling someone an idiot or a fascist. Instead, explain what is wrong with an edit and how to fix it.
- Don't threaten people: For example, threatening people with "admins you know" or having them banned for disagreeing with you.
- Don't make legal threats: Threatening a lawsuit is highly disruptive to AboutUs.
- Never post personal details: Users who post what they believe are the personal details of other users without their consent may be blocked for any length of time, including indefinitely.
- Don't misrepresent other people: The record should accurately show significant exchanges that took place, and in the right context. This usually means:
- Be precise in quoting others.
- When describing other people's contributions or edits, use diffs. The advantage of diffs in referring to a comment is that it will always remain the same, even when a talk page gets archived or a comment gets changed.
- As a rule, don't edit others' comments, including signatures. Exceptions are described in the next section.
edit Others' comments
It is not necessary to bring talk pages to publishing standards, so there is no need to correct typing errors, grammar, etc and you can if you would like, it is a wiki! It can irritate some people whose comments you are correcting, so do tread lightly.
Never edit someone's words to change their meaning. These are acceptable edits to comments:
- Removing prohibited material such as libel and personal details
- Removing personal attacks and incivility.
- When a long comment has formatting errors, rendering it difficult to read. In this case, restrict the edits to formatting changes only and preserve the content as much as possible.
- On your own talk page, you may remove comments from others, although archiving is generally preferred and removing comments without any reason is generally regarded uncivil. The text of another's comment, however, may never be directly edited to misrepresent the person or change the meaning of the comment.
edit Own comments
It is best to avoid having to change one's comments. Other people may already have quoted you with a diff (see above) or have otherwise reacted to your statement. Therefore, use "Show preview" and think about how your statement may look to others before you save it.
Changing or deleting comments after someone replied is likely to cause problems, because it will put the reply in a different context. In that case you have several options:
- Ask the person who replied (on their talk page) if it's OK to delete or change your text
- use strike-through or a place holder to show it is a retrospective alteration.
- Strike-through is typed <s>like this</s> and ends up
- A placeholder is a text such as "[Thoughtless and stupid comment removed by the author.]". This will ensure that your fellow editors' irritated responses still make sense. In turn, they may then wish to replace their reply with something like, "[Irritated response to deleted comment removed. Apology accepted.]"
- Strike-through is typed <s>like this</s> and ends up
- Start new topics at the bottom of the page: If you put a post at the top of the page, it is confusing and can also get easily overlooked. The latest topic should be the one at the bottom of the page. Then the next post will go underneath yours and so on. This makes it easy to see the chronological order of posts.
- Separate multiple points with whitespace: If a single post has several points, it makes it clearer to separate them with a paragraph break (i.e. a blank line).
- Thread your post: Use indentation to clearly indicate who you are replying to, as with usual threaded discussions. Normally colons are used, not bullet points.
- Make a new heading for a new topic: It will then be clearly separated into its own section and will also appear in the TOC (table of contents) at the top of the page. A heading is easy to create with == either side of the words, as in == Heading ==. The "Post a comment" feature can be used to do this automatically.
- Keep headings neutral: A heading should indicate what the topic is, but not communicate a specific view about it.
- Don't praise in headings: You may wish to commend a particular edit, but this could be seen in a different light by someone who disagrees with the edit!
- Don't be critical in headings: This includes being critical about details of the content.
- Never address other users in a heading: A heading should invite everyone to respond to the subject addressed.
- Make links freely: Links to articles are as useful on talk pages as anywhere else, and links to non-existent articles can help get them onto the most wanted pages list.
- Archive; don't delete: When a talk page has become too large or a particular subject is no longer being discussed, don't delete the content; archive it.
- Summarize ("refactor"): Reworking talk pages to summarize or consolidate discussions may be appropriate when length or other factors make it difficult to follow.