Wikipedia is not a convalescent center
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|This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.
Wikipedia's goal is to accumulate the entire knowledge of human civilization. To achieve this goal, Wikipedia tries to attract as many editors as possible in the hope that each of them will make useful contributions. This is why it is a free encyclopedia open for everyone. Because of the involvement of so many editors, Wikipedia is also a complicated social community that attracts people seeking communication among other things.
Wikipedia is also very addictive. In this respect, two questions often arise: Why do people work on Wikipedia? What do they get in return? Although the answers to these questions are not straightforward and are highly dependent on the individual, some extreme cases are described in unfavorable terms: trolling and vandalism — the types of behaviors that are disruptive both for the encyclopedic work and the project's social community.
Why do people become trolls and vandals? In certain cases this happens because the major goal of an author is to gain attention from other people. Such an editor may not get enough attention in real life, so he/she turns to Wikipedia to socialize. Perhaps, participating in an online RPG would be more appropriate, but sometimes people find Wikipedia more attractive. Well, this once again shows that Wikipedia is popular among a very broad audience.
- Is it possible that such editor has good faith?
- Do we have to always assume good faith of such editor?
When someone is just trying to attract attention no matter whether he produces a good or a bad impression on people, he or she will quickly realize that in virtually any social environment the most effective and easy way to accomplish this goal is to perform destructive actions rather than positive and useful ones. In the Wikipedia environment, the editor may notice that nominating popular articles for deletion, participating in discussions in an uncivilized way to turn them into quarrels, and other actions of that kind, including even vandalism, will easily attract as much attention, if not more, as good-faith work on articles and support of other people working on them. Some of those editors are smart enough to realize, however, that they also need to do some work on articles, so that they will not be considered pure disruptors by the community and thus will not be simply blocked. They usually switch between those two kinds of activity very often and quickly, and the community continues to assume good faith with them, "because they do make useful contributions".
However, such editors hinder the development of the project, driving away other editors and wasting their time that would otherwise be spent on useful work on articles. Therefore, their contribution is as disruptive as the contribution of ordinary vandals, and may even be more harmful, because it continues for long time, whereas obvious vandals are blocked quickly.
Wikipedia is not a convalescent center for people with poor communication skills. If an editor spoils the project more than improves it, it might be considered wise and useful to restrict his/her work on the project to those areas where they can do positive work, and isolate them from other areas. That may include, for example, prohibiting a particular editor from editing pages in the Wikipedia namespace, or using some kind of mentoring procedure to lessen the number of people driven away by the editor's actions.
It should also be noted that lack of communication skills and subnormal socialization are medical problems that require assistance from qualified health professionals. Trying to resolve these problems just by participating in an online project may not help, and may even make the situation worse, because other members of the project are usually not health professionals. Remember that Wikipedia does not give medical advice.
If, at the rare moments when you are able to look at yourself from outside, you notice that currently the primary goal of your activity in Wikipedia is communication and attracting attention, and all other reasons are far less important or even don't turn you on anymore, you probably should:
- Try to compensate your lack of communication somewhere else, for example, in IRC.
- Seek help from qualified health professionals.