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Don't be dense

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.

Don't be dense. If people abided by this, other policies would flow naturally and be intuitive.

"Don't be dense" is the basic underlying message of every editorial and meta-policy in a social space. All rules are an attempt to define the boundaries of density.

"Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain." (Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens)
Friedrich Schiller (1801), cited by Isaac Asimov in The Gods Themselves (1972)

Although there is a vast amount of space on the Wikimedia servers, it is still insufficient to provide a detailed accounting of density and its various flavours (stupidity, obstinacy, jerkitude, utter lunacy).

The nature of density is such that the dense are rarely aware of their density, and so it is probably more helpful, albeit more frustrating, to explain the specific problem to a dense user rather than simply citing this policy and assuming they'll figure it out. Unfortunately there is an imperfect but strongly positive correlation between certitude and density. Thus even when density is pointed out to the dense, their natural assumption is that they are right and you just don't get it.

Remember: "Assume good faith" is a nicer restatement of "Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice." Try not to be stupid either.