This page offers some principles of etiquette on how to work with others on Powerbase.
Powerbase's contributors come from many different countries and cultures. We have many different views, perspectives, opinions, and backgrounds. Treating others with respect is key to collaborating effectively in building an international online encyclopedia of propaganda and spin.
Powerbase invites contributors to improve its text. But often there are differences of opinion on whether a change in text is an "improvement". These guidelines are intended to assist in ensuring that Powerbase remains a healthy online community by clarifying what is appropriate/acceptable conduct for Powerbase contributors, helping contributors avoid disputes where possible, and advising on how to deal with any disputes that do arise.
Basic principles of Powerbase etiquette
- Treat others as you would have them treat you – even if they are new. We were all new once...
- Assume good faith.
- Be polite, please!
- Be civil.
- Avoid reverts and deletions whenever possible. Explain reverts in the edit summary box.
- Work toward agreement.
- Argue facts, not personalities.
- Recognize your own biases and keep them in check.
- Be prepared to apologize. In animated discussions, we often say things we later wish we hadn't. Say so.
- Forgive and forget.
- Give praise when due. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, especially in an environment that often requires compromise. Drop a friendly note on users' talk pages.
- Remove or summarize resolved disputes that you initiated.
- Help mediate disagreements between others.
- If you're arguing, take a break. If you're mediating, recommend a break.
- Remind yourself that these are people you're dealing with. They are individuals with feelings and probably have other people in the world who love them. Try to treat others with dignity. The world is a big place, with different cultures and conventions. Do not use jargon that others might not understand. Use acronyms carefully and clarify if there is the possibility any doubt.
Powerbase works fundamentally by building consensus.
Consensus is an inherent part of the process when contributing to Powerbase, which is normally reached as a natural product of the editing process. When someone makes a change or addition to a page, everyone who reads the page has an opportunity to either leave the page as it is or contribute by changing/adding to it.
Any disagreements that arise should be resolved through polite reasoning, cooperation and negotiation on talk pages.
When consensus is referred to in Powerbase discussion, it always means 'within the framework of established policy and practice'. There are exceptions that supersede consensus decisions on a page. This includes declarations from the personnel/editors in charge of Powerbase, in particular regarding server load or legal issues (copyright, privacy rights, and libel) that have policy status.
Avoid edit wars
An edit war is when two or more Powerbase contributors have differing opinions as to how a page should be and engage in repeated reverts/changes to each others work.
This could be due to people having different opinions on the content of a page (or how it is structured), or it could also be a conflict over the sharing of power.
Most people take pride in their work and in their point of view and egos can easily get hurt in editing. But edit wars are not the answer and are never productive. The improvement process employed by Powerbase is iterative and the critical analysis of prior work is a necessary part of that process. If you are not prepared to have your work thoroughly scrutinized, analyzed and criticized, or if your ego is easily damaged, then Powerbase is probably not the place for you.
If two or more people are unable to agree and there is danger of an edit war, use the talk pages to calmly and rationally discuss your point of view in order to come to an agreement as to how to proceed. If necessary, remind users of Powerbase policy by politely referring them to the appropriate Powerbase policies or guidelines page such as this one.
Try to avoid deleting things as a matter of principle. When you amend and edit (rather than delete), it is remarkable how you might see something useful in what was said. Most people have something useful to say, and that includes you. Deletion upsets people and can make them feel that they have wasted their time. If you feel that something from a page truly necessitates deletion, then move it into the talk page along with a explanation of your thinking behind it. If your reason is to do with legal matters (such as libel), contact sysops AT powerbase.info straight away.
Using talk pages
Talk pages are not a place for striking back or getting personal. They can be used to comfort or undo damage to egos, but most of all they're for forging agreements that are best for the articles they're attached to.
If someone disagrees with you, try to understand why, and in your discussion on the talk pages take the time to provide good reasons why you think your way is better.
Before initiating a discussion, ask yourself: is discussion really needed? Editing pages in Powerbase is an integral part of the process and if we were to discuss every change we make then progress would be very slow. If the changes are slight and do not radically alter the nature of the page then it may be more appropriate to edit it and provide an explanation in the edit summary. Radical changes that fundamentally change the nature of a page should first be discussed so that the previous editors have the opportunity to express their point of view.
If a discussion or question is posted in regards to your contribution, please do not ignore it. State your point of view even if it's just to say that you don't have one. This way the page can continue to be developed without delay. If you object to a change based on personal style or taste, then be honest about this and work together through discussion to resolve your differences and develop the article.
- You can always take a discussion to e-mail or to your user page if it's not essential to the article.
- If you know you don't get along with someone, don't interact with them more than you need to. Unnecessary conflict distracts everyone from the task of making a good encyclopedia, and is just unpleasant. Actually following someone you dislike around Powerbase could be considered stalking, and is frowned on because it can be disruptive. If you don't get along with someone, try to become more friendly. If that doesn't help the situation then it is probably best to avoid them.
- Though editing articles is acceptable (and, in fact, encouraged), editing the signed words of another editor on a talk page or other discussion page is not acceptable, as it can alter the intent or message of the original comment and misrepresent the original editor's thoughts.
Qualify your interpretation with a remark such as "as you seem to be saying" or "as I understand you" to acknowledge that you are making an interpretation. Before proceeding to say that someone is wrong, concede you might have misinterpreted him or her.
Always remember that anything that is written on Powerbase is kept permanently, even if it is not visible.
Assume good faith
To assume good faith is a fundamental principle on Powerbase. In allowing anyone to edit, we work from an assumption that most people are trying to help the project, not hurt it. When you can reasonably assume that a mistake someone made was a well-intentioned attempt to further the goals of the project, correct it without criticizing. When you disagree with people, remember that they probably believe that they are helping the project.
This guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of evidence to the contrary. Actions inconsistent with good faith include repeated vandalism, malicious actions and lying. Assuming good faith also does not mean that no action by editors should be criticized, but instead that criticism should not be attributed to malice unless there is specific evidence that it is deliberate.
If you are uncertain as to whether an action may be deliberately malicious, contact management AT powerbase.info for advice.
For instances of vandalism, refer to Powerbase Guidelines on Vandalism
Don't make it personal
When editors weigh the pros and cons of whether a change is an improvement, it may be difficult to criticize text while remaining objective. In trying to be clear, an editor can sometimes be unnecessarily harsh on the giving end. Conversely, on the receiving end, editors can be oversensitive when they see what they wrote replaced by something that claims to be better (whether this is implied intentionally or not).
If you feel upset as a result of your work being edited, it might help to bear in mind that the work of the editors themselves is edited! This also applies to the Powerbase personnel and official editors. No writer is above being edited, and much editing simply fills the important role of a second pair of eyes looking at the article and asking if it is clear, fair, and gives the full picture. So an editor can act as the forerunner of the wider readership that Powerbase aims to attract.
Silent and faceless words on talk pages and edit summaries also do not transmit the nuances of verbal conversation: leading to small, facetious comments being misinterpreted. One uncivil remark can easily escalate into a heated discussion which may not focus objectively on the problem at hand. It is during these exchanges that community members may become uninterested in improving articles and instead focus on "triumphing" over the "enemy".
If someone disagrees with you, this does not necessarily mean that the person hates you or thinks you're stupid. It also does not necessarily mean that the person is stupid or mean..
Powerbase encourages a positive online 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 this encyclopedia. So do not make personal attacks anywhere in Powerbase. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks will not help you make a point; they hurt the Powerbase community and can deter users from contributing.
If criticism is needed, endeavour to discuss an editor's actions rather than criticising the person. It is also neither appropriate nor productive to accuse others of harmful motives. If you suspect that someone is displaying harmful motives, contact management AT powerbase.info for assistance.
If an editor uses an insult, it is normally in the heat of the moment during a longer conflict and they often regret having used such words afterwards. Insults can essentially end the discussion, making it more difficult to calmly and rationally agree to how editing of a page should proceed. Insults not only go against Powerbase policy, but also are never a productive way to deal with things.
Also avoid labelling people or their edits. Terms like "racist", "sexist" or even "poorly written" make people defensive. This makes it hard to discuss articles productively.
While personal attacks are never excusable, 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 Powerbase articles.
If you feel that a response is necessary and desirable, you should leave a polite message on the other user's talk page. Do not respond on a talk page of an article as this tends to escalate matters. Likewise, it is important to avoid becoming hostile and confrontational yourself, even in the face of abuse. When possible, try to find compromise or common ground regarding the underlying issues of content, rather than argue about behaviour.
Use talk pages to clearly explain yourself, and give others the opportunity to do the same. Consider whether a dispute stems from different perspectives and look for ways to reach consensus if possible. This can avoid misunderstandings and prevent problems from escalating. If necessary, remind users of Powerbase policy by politely referring them to the appropriate Powerbase policies or guidelines page such as this one.
In some cases, someone may be provoking 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. It may also be to push others to commit an even greater breach in civility which might result in the removal of their Powerbase editing rights. There may also be instances were an editor may deliberately push others to the point of breaching civility, without seeming to commit such a breach themselves. In these cases, it is far less likely that the offender will have any regrets and it would become necessary for the managing editor to be informed by emailing management AT powerbase.info
Attacks that are particularly offensive or disruptive (such as physical or legal threats) should never be ignored.
The most serious types of personal attacks, such as efforts to reveal nonpublic personal information about Powerbase editors, go beyond the level of mere invective, and should be reported immediately to management AT powerbase.info.
Recurring, non-disruptive personal attacks that do not stop after reasoned requests to cease should also be reported.
Whilst resolution will always be the aim, it may be necessary to remove a person's editing rights in extreme cases. This may be for repeated deliberate breaches to Powerbase policy, or even for isolated instances if it involves extreme behaviour such as legal threats or death threats (which may result in a block without warning).
Off-Powerbase personal attacks
Powerbase cannot regulate behaviour in media not under the control of Powerbase, but personal attacks made elsewhere create doubt as to whether an editor's on-Powerbase actions are conducted in good faith. Posting personal attacks or defamation off-Powerbase is harmful to the community and to an editor's relationship with it, especially when such attacks take the form of violating an editor's privacy. Such attacks can be regarded as aggravating factors by administrators.
Do not post external links to pages which call for the malicious harassment of a Powerbase editor, or contain privacy violations of a Powerbase editor. Doing so deliberately and repeatedly may result in a block. As with personal attacks, extreme and deliberate harassment by way of external links are grounds for a ban.
Tips for when things get heated
- If someone acts uncivilly towards you, do not do the same in return. Remain calm and polite and try not to lose your cool. Even though it demands a lot of self-control and patience, it is ultimately a lot easier for others to resolve a dispute and see who is breaching policies, if one side is clearly editing appropriately throughout.
- Take a break and step away from the source of the disagreement. Powerbase is a big place. Move on to edit somewhere else for a while and return when tempers have cooled.
- 'Please'. 'Thank you'. 'I'm sorry'. 'You're welcome'. 'You're a good person and I know we'll work this out'. Treat your fellow editor as a respected and admired colleague who is working in collaboration with you on an important project. 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.
- You do not have to like an editor as a person to appreciate that they are also working for the good of the project. Though in the case of personality clashes it is probably best to steer clear of one another as far as is possible.
The involvement of multiple editors contributing to a page can be complex and people may be (quite rightly) proud of the work they have put into it. It may be the case that some people will become possessive about the work they have contributed and may go as far as to defend their contributions against any 'intruders'. It is one thing to take an interest in an article that you maintain on your watchlist. Maybe you really are an expert or you just care about the topic a lot. But if this watchfulness crosses a certain line, then you are overdoing it.
Powerbase is a collaborative project which means that we must work together to build this encyclopedia. Working together is our strength and whilst no one person owns an article, we can all be active contributors to the success of the project.
When contributing to an article be sensitive to the work that previous contributors have already put into it. Try to avoid making any sweeping changes when it is not necessary. If large changes do seem necessary, then using the 'talk' page to explain/discuss the reasons can help to avoid hurting people's feelings and leaving them feeling that they have wasted their time.
Also, when contributing to an article, remember that other contributors are likely to follow. This is the nature of the Powerbase process as we build the encyclopedia together. We all have different preferences and styles, but in the end it is what is best for a Powerbase article that counts. Quality and accuracy should be our top priority. If changes have been made to your contributions that you genuinely feel are not the best for the article, then use the talk pages to discuss it. It may also be useful to use the talk page in the exchange of ideas, as a simple exchange of ideas will usually solve any ownership issues.
While it may be easy to identify ownership issues, it is sometimes far more difficult to resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of the editors involved. It is always helpful to remember to stay calm, assume good faith, and remain civil. Accusing other editors of owning the article may appear aggressive and could be perceived as a personal attack. Address the editor in a civil manner, with the same amount of respect you would expect. Often editors accused of ownership may not even realize it, so it is important to assume good faith. Some editors may think they are protecting the article from vandalism and may respond to any changes with hostility. If necessary, remind editors of Powerbase proceedures by referring them the appropriate policy or guidelines page.
If a conflict does arise that cannot be resolved through discussion in the talk pages. See Powerbase dispute resolution guidelines for further advice.
Action that is never acceptable
Some types of comments are never acceptable:
- Racist, sexual, sexist, homophobic, ageist, religious, political, ethnic, or other epithets (such as against disabled people) directed against another contributor. Disagreement over what constitutes a religion, race, sexual preference, or ethnicity is not a legitimate excuse.
- Threats of legal action. (See Powerbase policy on legal threats)
- Threats of violence, particularly death threats.
- Threats of vandalism to userpages or talk pages. (See Vandalism guidelines for further info).
- Threats or actions which expose other Powerbase 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 upon discovery.
What to do if a problem cannot be resolved or is of a serious nature
See Powerbase Dispute Resolution
Powerbase editors will be glad to help and are capable of identifying policy-breaching conduct (if their attention is drawn to clear and specific evidence of it).
Reporting a fellow editor is not a step to be taken lightly or in haste. However if an issue cannot be resolved contact the managing editor by emailing management AT powerbase.info. If the matter is of a legal nature, such as in the case of libelous entries posted onto an article, immediately contact sysop AT powerbase.info
Repeated or deliberate disruption
If someone repeatedly acts in a disruptive manner or if the disruption appears to be deliberate, then contact management AT powerbase.info for assistance.