Jump to content

Avoid accusing others of copyright paranoia

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
(English) 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.
You don't know what's going on inside the heads of your fellow contributors until you've taken a look.

The term "copyright paranoia" and the essay Avoid copyright paranoia have a long history on Wikimedia projects. However, the term is problematic for several reasons shown below, and it is therefore best to avoid accusing others of copyright paranoia.

Avoid pathologizing fellow contributors[edit]

Paranoia, as Wiktionary notes, is derived from a Greek word meaning "madness" and primarily denotes a psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution. Wikipedia explains that in psychiatry, the term is used to describe delusions associated with various mental disorders.

Thus, to say that another participant's actions are motivated by copyright paranoia is effectively to pathologize their behavior and to call them "mad" and "delusional."

Avoid personal attacks[edit]

Be nice to your fellow contributors.

No personal attacks is a Wikipedia policy, and all Wikimedia projects have similar policies or apply principles influenced by that policy. According to the policy, epithets (such as against people with disabilities) directed at another contributor are never acceptable. In any reasonable interpretation of the policy, unfounded statements about a fellow contributor's mental state are also unacceptable.

Avoid misusing medical terms as invectives[edit]

As with the use of other types of epithets, calling another contributor paranoid is not only inappropriate in relation to that participant, but unfounded use of the names of medical conditions in a negative manner is also disrespectful of those to whom the term might be applied in a medically correct way. For this reason, the term is in poor taste even if used in a supposedly non-literal sense.

Instead, use factual and relevant arguments[edit]

In addition to establishing a disrespectful and even hostile tone in discussions, the term is also utterly unhelpful in bringing them forward. Policies like No personal attacks and Civility exist not primarily to make the Wikimedia projects nice and friendly online communities, but because factual and relevant arguments are more constructive than subjective assessments about other users.

For example, stating that the initiation of an image deletion discussion is motivated by "copyright paranoia" only tells us that the person raising the accusation believes the image should not be deleted with reference to copyright concerns and that they question the judgment of the person starting the discussion. A constructive argument would explain why the concerns are supposedly unreasonable, rather than focusing on the mental state of fellow participants or other things that have no bearing on the actual copyright status of the image in question. Instead of using vague, unfalsifiable statements, it is far better to describe in detail what level of scrutiny and precaution should be applied and why.

Making civil rebuttals to poorly founded copyright concerns[edit]

The US Civil War was, in spite of its name, not a particularly civil argument.

This is not to say that all discussions about copyright issues are inherently well-founded. Participants have varying knowledge of legal issues and often interpret legal principles differently. The discussions are, however, typically well-intended and raised with the safety and integrity of the Wikimedia projects and its participants in mind. Furthermore, the validity of copyright discussions is not determined by their frequency. As such, unwarranted concerns are best opposed through respectful and factual reasoning addressing relevant specifics, rather than name-calling and observations of real or imagined Wikimedia trends.

See also[edit]