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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton

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Helping Resolve Disputes

Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 discussed a number of different places you can go for help resolving a disagreement over content or behavior. This chapter shows you how to get involved helping out with disputes at Wikipedia.

Effective Dispute Assistance

This book can’t give you a full course in negotiation and mediation skills. There are entire college degrees in that topic. Instead, here are a few Wikipedia-specific principles to keep in mind when you’re helping in a situation where two or more editors disagree:

  • You use your time better when you focus on one particular dispute instead of spending a little time each on a lot of disputes. Spending more time on one situation helps you learn the system, come up with good suggestions, and write a clear and non-inflammatory response.

  • Wording counts. People normally get a lot of context from body language and tone of voice—context that isn’t available on a computer screen. Be extremely careful to avoid commenting about a person, rather than about her edits. There’s a big difference between “You don’t seem to understand the policy about original research”, and “Your last few changes to the article are against the rules in the ‘No original research’ policy [[WP:NOR]].”

  • If an editor argues over the validity of a policy or guideline, don’t defend it—that’s not your job. Tell the editor that he has a choice: Try to change the policy or guideline, or leave Wikipedia. Not following the rules because he disagrees with them isn’t ...

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