Requests for comment/Jerks vs dicks

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The following request for comments is closed. The request was eventually archived as inactive.

Do all essays need to use softening language now?[edit]

Despite not being active on Meta, I have edited the English Wikipedia for a number of years and one of the first guidelines I came across was Don't be a dick. It was great to see that an encyclopedia striving for neutral articles still allows humour in the greater community. I did not find it insulting because I knew that anyone who could link me to it would be engaging in dickery himself. It says so right in the article!

Over time, I discovered more funny essays on Wikipedia. If inclusion of the word "dick" is grounds for a complete rewrite, then all of these other great parts of Wikimedia are in jeopardy. Unless you can explain how this case is very different, I want Don't be a jerk moved back to Don't be a dick to avoid setting a precedent of walking on eggshells with our choice of words.

Even though things have changed since 2006, I am not convinced that there is wide support for bowdlerizing to "jerk". Not only that, but the link to What Makes a Fuckhead (on the blog of an active editor) was removed with the non-reason "we'll pass". Since I restored that link, edit warring has ensued and so far neither party has mentioned it on the talk page. If thousands of users were under a misconception that an opinion piece like this represented WMF policy, it would be okay to remove words like "fuck" from the article text. But removing a link to a page that elaborates on the same sentiments (using stronger language) makes the article less useful.

Wikipedia is not censored. We follow the principle of least astonishment but when WP:DICK is thrown around, the discussion is heated enough that "dick" is not at all astonishing. Shouldn't we discourage the practice of assigning arbitrary stigma to words instead of considering what they mean? Connor Behan (talk) 08:17, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

I oppose political correctness, don't care if the essay is entitled "dick" or "jerk" as long as it conveys its point effectively, and support restoring the link to Kendrick's essay. Also, if the essay to remain entitled "Don't be a jerk", then it should take some time to explain what a jerk is. The Kendrick essay tells readers that "'fuckhead' = anti-social behaviors" right away, while the current version of the "Don't be a jerk" essay is a a struggle to understand. Prior to the changes, the "Don't be a dick" possessed a footnote that explained what a "jerk" is, but the current version of the "Don't be a jerk" essay doesn't offer that benefit. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 15:11, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Please note the extensive discussions and strong consensus on the essay talk page - the use of puerility as a substitute for wisdom is wrong. This new page is not the best venue for such a discussion aimed at changing consensus. Cheers. Collect (talk) 20:31, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

This isn't just about the page title. It's also about political correctness and the bigger picture; hence the "Do all essays need to use softening language now?" sub-heading. In addition, the conflict over the inclusion of the link to the Kendrick essay is a recent and ongoing issue that needs to be discussed. Even you said that there should be a RfC discussion concerning the inclusion of that link. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 21:58, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
As no one has proposed such, then this falls into "straw man" argument territory. The discussionof any EL belongs on the talk page of the essay, not here. Collect (talk) 00:08, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • "Wikipedia is not censored" is a tired, misused, and abused trope in this project. When the project is attacked by fanatical religious fundamentalists who scream and yell that images of their prophet Muhammad must be removed because they are offended, then "NOT CENSORED" is the correct response. Being asked to act like an adult when communicating with other adults is not "censoring" you, it is not crimping your life and liberties, nor is it an undue expectation. It is no different from the decorum and expectations of professionalism expected of you in any workplace or place of business. The Wikipedia, for good or bad (and sometimes it's a lot of bad) is bigger than the 18-35 yr old white male "Bro" culture that spawned it in ~2002. It is time to grow up. Tarc (talk) 01:14, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Well said. Keegan (talk) 02:40, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • If all essays and external links in prominent places need to be "grown up", that is an argument for removing the problematic one. Not replacing one word with a synonym that is less offensive only by historical accident. I'm sure a great many businesses prefer "jerk" to "dick" on the grounds of professionalism. But in a society that is making progress, this should be a decreasing number. I look forward to the day when these arguments are about the ideas expressed, not the words. Connor Behan (talk) 02:48, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Arbitrary censorship of "naughty words" simply because they're "naughty" and "immature," regardless of the context in which they're used, is the sign true immaturity. It's a tacit "fuck you" to the writer and the reader, because the implication is that neither are capable of understanding the context and gravity with which a word is being used. Moreover, it forces the assumption that the reader desires sterility above honesty. Sometimes the word "fuck" or "dick" needs to be said because of the gravity behind the word—for the very reason that it evokes a different emotion, a different feeling, and therefore a different connotation with respect to the situation in which it's used. Forcing people to change their language—to change the representation of their thoughts—in a medium where there isn't even any spoken language at all, simply writing, is fundamentally wrong, and it's a sign of a problematic (and fundamentally boring) culture developing beneath the surface. --slakr 03:26, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Have you ever kept a job in a civilised workplace for more than a week or two? --Anthonyhcole 04:54, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
In the spirit of meatball:DefendEachOther, I'll just flatly state that this is an idiotic question. Anthonyhcole, I think you're better than this. --MZMcBride (talk) 06:03, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your confidence MZ. :o) With a little more thought I could have done a lot better. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 13:06, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Thank you; that's exactly the point I'm making: presumptions of a lack of context-sensitivity. You imply that because I'm in opposition to censorship here (a less formal context), that I'm somehow incapable of regulating myself there (the more formal context)—that it's a character flaw and that I'm incapable of understanding different contexts and differing levels of formality. Ostensibly, that might even be psychological projection in this instance, for my argument is that those that set about to censor the words of others make the exact same assumptions you're making. That said, if I ever find myself jobless and homeless for having used one of the Seven Deadly Words in the wrong context, I'll happily drop a note on your talk page letting you know you were right. :P Deal? :P --slakr 01:44, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
+1. I like what Slakr is saying. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 13:52, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • What Tarc said (except for the Muhammad nonsense - with regard to which he combines the nuanced understanding of a white evangelical Christian pastor with that of an Ozarks neckbeard). --Anthonyhcole 04:54, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • I think "Don't be a dick" is/was a fine title. Other essays can be discussed and addressed as necessary and appropriate. --MZMcBride (talk) 05:59, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • In this context, replacing "dick" by "jerk" seems to me to weaken the essay's effectiveness. A strong term is appropriate, slightly outside social norms (but not too far outside, choosing the threshold for which is presumably a main source of disagreement here). Perhaps there's an alternative to "dick" out there that would be more ideal... but all the alternatives I've thought of so far are either too tame (such as "jerk") or too specific in usage (recalling Tom Lehrer; "I'd better leave this line out, just to be on the safe side"). It may be that at this moment in the evolution of English, "dick" is the most suitable choice available. --Pi zero (talk) 12:51, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
    • What about "ass"? I believe that "ass" is just as good as "dick". --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 13:45, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
      • Hmm. In this instance, my own impressions (as someone with a Yankee dialect) are consistent with Wiktionary: on both sides of the pond a dick is a contemptible person, but ass is US-only and not as accurately what is wanted here (a stupid person, rather than a contemptible one), while the UK analog arse has the contemptibility sense but is not US. --Pi zero (talk) 23:33, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
        • You're mistaken, Mr. "Yankee dialect". Please read the top of wiktionary:Talk:ass and this. Wiktionary is hardly adequate. "Ass" is used in the UK in the "donkey" sense. Plus, "ass" isn't just "stupid"; it also refers to other donkey-like qualities such as "stubbornness" (a pain to work with) and "foolishness". An "ass" is more or less what's being described in the Kendrick essay mentioned above. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 00:23, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
          • I'm not trying to verbally spar over these things; I'm interested in suitable word choice, and took your suggestion as a constructive one. (I'd not intended "Yankee dialect" in some sort of confrontational way, merely as a shorthand acknowledging the general nature of the angle from which I experience English usage. I don't consider any dictionary as authoritative, certainly not a crowdsourced one, but do find dictionaries often useful for articulating a perspective, which is how I'd hoped to use our esteemed sister project Wiktionary in this instance.)

            The alternative word choice "ass" carries a different nuance in my experience, and I was looking for a way to express the perception. Here's a different way to put it. As I've observed (and practiced) the language, although ass and dick both indicate bad behavior, ass tends to suggest obliviousness, whereas dick does not suggest obliviousness and often applies to cases where the perpetrator is aware of, even gloats in, their unconstructiveness. The inclusion of the self-aware case seems appropriate for this essay, hence my perception of dick as more suited than ass. --Pi zero (talk) 13:33, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

            • Alright. I understand where you're coming from now. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 14:06, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Oppose I am all for not censoring Wikipedia, but I also support getting on with my colleagues, and that includes not needlessly throwing around inflammatory or offensive speech. We have a diverse editor base and that includes older editors, users from multiple cultures, and female editors. I fail to see how us falling upon the sword of free speech helps us engage with new editors. I would prefer 'Jerk' to the alternate title and I do not think the sky will fall down over this issue. --LT910001 (talk) 21:42, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Mnn, keep Neutral. It's rather like, as iirc, u won't say a black people as "black widow" just because it's harmful for at least that black people. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 12:13, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Strongly Oppose Under the guise of so-called humor, the Kendrick essay is, among other things, a celebration of various forms of bullying (and worse) of unpopular (allegedly 'anti-social') minorities throughout history, explicitly including cyber-bullying ('flaming') in the Internet age. Including it in 'Don't be a jerk' effectively includes an incitement to bullying into the English Wikipedia Civility guidelines (of which 'Don't be a jerk' is effectively a part, and likely to remain a part). The fact that 'Don't be a jerk' allegedly began life many years ago as a toned-down version of the Kendrick essay is now somewhat irrelevant, given that it has been massively altered since then. But if it is eventually deemed 'censorship' to fail to mention this unfortunate origin, then I would hope (probably far too optimistically) that there would then also be no attempt to censor mentioning beside such a 'historical note' that the Kendrick essay appears to be, among other things, dangerous incitement to bullying and the exact opposite of what any decent Civility policy should include, and so on... Of course I fully expect that any attempt to say anything of the kind would immediately be censored as allegedly being POV, a wicked Personal Attack against Kendrick, lacking a sense of humor, and so on ad infinitum, so that in practice we would find ourselves back with an uncriticized incitement to bullying and cyberbullying in our Civility guidelines, guidelines which incidentally are supposed to be compulsory reading for all Wikipedians, including those too young or dim or amoral to fail to be corrupted in various ways by such incitement. (As for the Dick v Jerk business, that has already been discussed ad nauseam on the relevant Talk Page, and a consensus has been reached there, and it would seems to be forum shopping to try to re-open that particular issue here. Indeed I'm not clear why the Kendrick link was brought up here rather than there, but I guess in practice we're now stuck with this being the place to discuss it). Tlhslobus (talk) 04:33, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Do you oppose reintroducing the Kendrick essay only, or also oppose the word choice recersion? I dislike the Kendrick essay myself, as it commits a number of gross oversimplifications, perhaps the most egregious of which is a polarized view effectively equating asocial with antisocial, which cannot end well for what are essentially geek projects. Notwithstanding I'm ambivalent toward "dick"-versus-"jerk", with some preference toward "dick" partly because I'm concerned that the word change is itself a sort of mobbing. (Admittedly my feelings on the word choice are also somewhat complicated by a sense that the social strategy of at least one of our sister projets, Wikipedia, has been in the long run a miserable failure.) --Pi zero (talk) 12:25, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
As already stated above, I am primarily and strongly opposed to linking to the Kendrick essay, as a de facto incitement to bullying of small minorities (thinly disguised as a supposedly humorous exhortation to avoid being 'anti-social'), especially when it would then effectively be part of our Civility guidelines. However I am also, but much more weakly, against the 'dick' version, especially when it would effectively be part of our Civility guidelines, for several reasons which would be too long to convincingly defend in adequate detail. But put briefly:
  • 1) It is a kind of signpost that conveys the message 'feminists, women, and other gentle souls not welcome'.
  • 2) It runs counter to our policy of trying to reduce the gender gap among editors, where women were less than 15%, and according to some estimates are now less than 10% (incidentally, it would help if we had more women and/or feminists taking part in this discussion - are there any here at present?).
  • 3) Encouraging people to think of other people as non-humans (dicks, assholes, fuckheads, or for that matter pigs, vermin, etc) has been a traditional method of 'dehumanising' them and thus facilitating bullying and other kinds of persecution (although the effect is probably very much weaker with the 'Dick' essay than with Kendrick's 'Fuckhead' essay).
  • 4) And so on.
There are at least 5 other aspects of the 'jerk' essay about which I'm none too keen, but I don't know whether I want to get involved in the hassle of trying to change them - you mentioned mobbing, and I myself felt badly mobbed when I brought up the bullying issue over a year ago (see here, which was a follow-on to my earlier arguments, first here, and then here), and I was sufficiently traumatised by the experience to stay away from the debate from then until now, and I'm still somewhat nervous about re-involving myself, though I also feel it might be rather cowardly of me not to do so (at least in relation to bringing Kendrick back into our Civility guidelines). Unfortunately mobbing seems to be an inevitable and predictable consequence of having 'consensus rule' instead of 'majority rule' (though it's difficult to see how that can be changed, especially as there'd be no consensus on such a change, let alone on questions like 'a majority of who?', etc). Presumably reverting back to 'Dick' would now require some different new set of alleged mobbers.
On the other hand there may well be relatively little difficulty in creating a new 'Dick' essay (as a straightforward copy of the old one), either now or in a few months' time, just so long as only the 'jerk' version (without the Kendrick link) is part of our Civility guidelines (but I can't be sure of this, as others, especially women and/or feminists and/or 'gentle souls', may object to the 'Dick' essay a lot more strongly than I do). I don't think there's any real justification for the potential harm such an essay might cause, but as long as it's not part of our Civility guidelines I tend to think that the potential harm is sufficiently small that it's probably not worth my time and effort to fight it (and it's also possible that the offence caused to 'libertarian' Wikipedians by getting rid of it entirely, as has currently been done, may well outweigh the benefits of doing so). Indeed the essay (and the slightly modified copy of it on English Wikipedia until recently) might well have been left largely unchanged (as they had been for years) if a link to it hadn't been introduced into our Civility guidelines about 18 months ago (that link was unnoticed at first, or it presumably would never have got in due lack of consensus).Tlhslobus (talk) 05:36, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
The gender-imbalance concern, and the dehumanization concern, I am not actually in disagreement with. It's a matter of weighing various pros and cons, a decision based on idiosyncratic judgements which I'm finding difficult to gauge against each other. I'd really prefer an alternative that had the pros without the cons.
Mobbing is characteristic of majoritarianism as well. Which is why the US constitution (for instance) sets up a system that isn't majoritarian. Certain rights of minorities, and of individuals, are not left up to mere majority vote but are protected by special organizational measures. In setting up Wikipedia there was, I think, a strong feeling of "we are the children of the internet, our world is different and better than what came before so we have nothing to learn from our predecessors about how to run a community", which has resulted in a system where protection from mob rule is the responsibility of, well, the mob. It's a less than ideal arrangement. --Pi zero (talk) 02:43, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Pi zero. I guess we'd all prefer solutions with pros and without cons, but these are hard to find, especially if they need consensus support. As for mobbing, I probably oversimplified for the sake of brevity, as mobbing can happen anywhere. As far as I know the term was (allegedly) first coined in the context of bullying in the workplace: The Bully at Work (2nd Edition), by Gary Namie, PhD, and Ruth Namie, PhD(copyright 2000, 2003, 2009) briefly mentions on page 255-6 that 'The European Pioneer' of the world anti-bullying movement, Sweden's Heinz Leymann, called bullying in the workplace 'mobbing', not 'bullying'. The workplace is neither a majoritarian nor a consensus environment, and the same is true of the many parts of the (non-human) animal kingdom where mobbing is also found. But consensus-rule seems more conducive to creating mobbing because under majority rule a majority doesn't need to bully minorities when it can just outvote them, whereas under consensus the majority can often only get its way by bullying and otherwise intimidating minorities enough to ensure their numbers stay (or become) sufficiently 'insignificant' for their views to be deemed 'contrary to the consensus'. I take it for granted that 'majoritarianism' would include institutional safeguards for minorities (albeit inevitably imperfect safeguards since we are not perfect beings), because that's what we have everywhere else outside Wikipedia, and because many such (inevitably imperfect) safeguards have already been introduced into Wikipedia (eg ArbCom, admins,ANs, ANIs, RfCs, Civility policies and guidelines, etc...). However 'majoritarianism' would still leave us with such difficult questions as 'who gets to vote?', etc, as already mentioned, and the status quo presumably also suits a great many people (such as anybody who has learned by long experience how to make effective use of it), so I don't expect any kind of majoritarianism to be adopted anytime soon. Tlhslobus (talk) 19:50, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
Pure majoritarianism as I understand the term does not have safeguards for minorities. (Wiktionary currently defines it as "Supporting the dominance of the majority over the minority", which is about right for my understanding.) Consensus is currently also without such safeguards. I agree that the status quo is supported by those who have learned to use it effectively (true of any status quo, of course). As usual, what one needs is something that improves the situation and is palatable to those invested in the existing system. --Pi zero (talk) 02:09, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Actually it seems the word 'majoritarianism' doesn't even exist in the first 5 British English Dictionaries (Oxford Learners, Oxford Compact, Macmillan, Reverso, Reverso Learners) at (which, incidentally, I recommend for both British and American English, as far more professional and thus reliable than Wiktionary, just as I'd probably recommend professional Encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica over Wikipedia if they were free, as these professional dictionaries are). The 6th (Collins) gives 'a form of democracy which upholds the rule of the majority', and I currently have no idea what, if anything, the other 3 British English and 8 American English Dicitionaries have to say about it. However, given the context in which you introduced the term (while commenting on my reference to 'majority rule'), I probably simply assumed (possibly even correctly) that it was basically a single word meaning 'majority rule' (as distinct from other systems such as dictatorship, oligarchy, monarchy, hierarchy, seniority, etc, and in particular rule by consensus, which is the system we were discussing, being Wikipedia's current system, which I was contrasting with 'majority rule'). And in practice in the real world in which we actually live and which I was inevitably talking about, our 'majority rule' systems are always accompanied by minority safeguards (albeit necessarily somewhat imperfect ones). But, as already mentioned, I don't expect any satisfactory solution to be forthcoming in practice, and in any case we've moved a long way from what is supposed to be the topic of discussion here, so, provided you don't say anything too provocative in reply, I propose to quit this discussion now, after leaving you with the opportunity of having the last word on the matter if you wish to avail of it. Regards, and all the best. Tlhslobus (talk) 14:44, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Postscript re dictionaries: actually quickest seems to be to try one of the 6 Multidictionaries at the above-mentioned - perhaps starting with Memidex (which also gives the Wikipedia and Wiktionary definitions) Tlhslobus (talk) 15:24, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Postscript2: Just in case you're interested, Pi zero, I've added some links, definitions, and comments here to try to help others improve Wikipedia's Majoritarianism article, which currently seems pretty unsatisfactory. Some of those comments may be somewhat relevant to our discussion about majoritarianism here.Tlhslobus (talk) 17:38, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
"Civility" and an obsession with "bullying" are two of the biggest problems on Wikipedia. Those two things result in Wikipedians compromising freedom for the sake of people's feelings. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 14:13, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Despite the claim that 'Wikipedia is not censored', unfortunately Wikipedia cannot really be about 'freedom' or 'freedom from censorship' - perhaps hence also our collective insistence (in 'What Wikipedia is not') that 'Wikipedia is not a democracy'. Everytime anybody reverts or modifies anybody else they are censoring them and restricting their freedom of expression, but without such restrictions on freedom Wikipedia would collapse. In practice 'Wikipedia is not censored' can only really mean something like 'Wikipedia cannot accept the kinds of censorship that harm it'. There at least appears to be plenty of evidence that in practice incivility and bullying harms Wikipedia in many ways. If people want to avoid such restrictions there are plenty of other places on the Internet where they can try to do so (although they may still find themselves restricted by various aspects of civil and criminal law over which we Wikipedians have no control). That said, as mentioned above, in practice I personally am not particularly bothered about the essays provided our Civility guidelines don't link to them (though I also expect others would be bothered).Tlhslobus (talk) 05:36, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Incidentally, I also agree that many aspects of our demands for "Civility" are insanities, the kind of insanities that one tends to get stuck with under 'consensus rule'. What I found especially insane (until it partly changed about 10 weeks ago, though this rfc is seemingly intended to restore the full insanity in all its glory) is that our English Wikipedia Civility guidelines actively encouraged us to think of other people as dicks, assholes, and fuckheads, while simultaneously telling us to avoid 'you' and 'your' as liable to cause offence in disputes. Both rules got in unnoticed and then survived thanks to 'consensus rule' (the guy who gave us 'avoidyou' has since been banned for other reasons, but his masterpiece endures, causing endless time-wasting disputes, and pointless stress and distress, etc...).Tlhslobus (talk) 06:45, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Two things: First using "jerk" instead of "dick" is "casting out devils by Beelzebub", both refer to parts or activities reserved for males. The political correct (femalized) version would be douchebage bzw, would you prefer it? One has not to be in line with all of Judith Butler to agree that a gender specific swear word can be used used on any human being. The word may conveys a stock character image, similar as you might call an adult a schoolyard bully. Second: The softening of language shows a sort of gentrification of Wikipedia. We might like the cleaner present, but we miss the old times, especiallly when places of symbolic importance are being demolished. I would prefer to have a place for such elder Schwabinger 7's or even better, allow for new ones. deWP had a similar disccussion about a page called "WP is not a finishing school" (WP ist kein Mädchenpensionat) - I think it worth while to translate and enhance it. Serten II (talk) 17:40, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Tlhslobus for giving me another euphemism issue to follow. Avoiding the word "you" is ridiculous. However, I do not agree with how you framed the debate over Kendrick's essay as "protecting women and children". We haven't heard from very many women so far, but this is not grounds for assuming that they can't handle vulgar websites. It is chivalrous to say "I can stomach the site but I don't think women will be able to". Including gender-specific words like "dick" sounds pretty harmless compared to propagating outdated views about how our female colleagues think. And I'm pretty sure that legal or contractual obligations to remove swearing from websites ended after the age of AOL CDs. If there is a new child protection law, somewhere in the world, actually calling for such measures, I would call it the responsibility of all Wikipedians to oppose this to the same extent as SOPA. Connor Behan (talk) 20:03, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
  • First, Connor Behan, thanks for your efforts on the subject of avoiding the word "you", and commiserations that those efforts were predictably unsuccessful.
  • Second, please feel free to ignore the wall of text that follows - it's something I wanted to write in reply to what you wrote, but I couldn't care less whether you read it or not (in fact having written it, I'm hoping to be able to wirhdraw from this discussion as a largely pointless and rather annoying waste of time, though unfortunately I'm not particular confident that I'll actually be able to do so in practice).
  • Third, specifically in relation to how you describe my attitude to the Kendrick essay, it seems to me that I expressed my opposition to it both here and elsewhere mainly in terms of what I see as its incitement of bullying and cyberbullying of people in general, and unpopular allegedly anti-social minorities in particular, rather than 'women and children'. Elsewhere a year ago I did also eventually at one point feel morally obliged to bring it up in the context of bullying and cyberbullying of children in particular (which I saw as a particularly serious problem because the essay was in effect part of out Civility guidelines, which we are all obliged to read), because both in society in general and also explicitly in Wikipedia we are told to take particular care to protect children - and it seemed and still seems to me that anything that tends to encourage people to bully in general will in practice also tend to cause some children to be bullied and others to become bullies. I still think that to be the case. But (except for having felt it might be somewhat cowardly to entirely fail to mention bullying in general, which I think I initially did only once, in one paragraph above, until I had to bring it up again in reply to later questions or criticisms directed at me), I had and have no wish to discuss that further, having being traumatized by the mobbing I experienced when I raised the subject a year ago. Indeed you can easily check that the words 'child' and 'children' have not been used by me here at all except in my current reply to you (as well as in some of the linked year-old discussions on this topic which I gave earlier to User:Pi zero).
  • I think I mentioned 'women' here mainly in the context of replying to a specific question by Pi zero concerning my attitude to the 'Dick' issue (an issue which I had not originally intended to discuss, giving as my reason that it had already been discussed ad nauseam by others elsewhere), rather than in relation to the Kendrick issue. Of course the Kendrick ('Fuckhead') and 'Dick' issues are also unavoidably somewhat interlinked in many ways, so when I said something about 'Dick' in that reply I may also have occasionally mentioned Kendrick and/or 'Fuckhead' as well.
  • As for your statement that 'we have not heard from very many women so far', well 1) we have now, even here, 2) we had already heard plenty of women objecting to these matters elsewhere, and 3) as a result of such expressions (and also of similar expressions on similar topics throughout the Western world for many decades) I, like most people, was already well aware of their attitude, though they can and have expressed it a great deal better than I can. So if I had in fact 'framed the debate over Kendrick's essay as "protecting women and children"' (which in fact I hadn't), then I would NOT have been 'propagating outdated views about how our female colleagues think'. (And much the same also applies to what I did say about women in the context of the 'Dick' article). Instead, it seems to me that in the above paragraph you have been propagating an incorrect view of how I think.
  • Incidentally, in the context of your remarks about alleged chivalry, I have neither stated nor intended to imply that "I can stomach the site but I don't think women will be able to", nor did I state or intend to imply that this is 'how our female colleagues think'. I had and have every reason to think that our female colleagues are on average a great deal mentally tougher than I am, as they probably have to be in order to be able to cope with an environment as hostile to them as this one frequently seems to be. But of course they shouldn't have to be, and the fact that in practice they all too often do have to be seems to be a significant contributory factor to why there are so few of them, as our female colleagues frequently point out (so I usually have no need to 'chivalrously' presume to say anything on their behalf, though sometimes I can't avoid mentioning women's publicly stated attitudes here and elsewhere when writing primarily on my own behalf to explain my own positions).
  • Thinking back, it might conceivably have reduced this particular confusion if I had written 'feminists, women, and gentle souls' instead of 'feminists, women, and other gentle souls', but then I'd probably have been accused of sexism for implying that 'gentle souls' are all male.
  • Incidentally, although it's probably of at most rather limited relevance here, I might also add that my experience tends to hint to me that on average women in general (not just self-selected Wikipedia women) are actually somewhat mentally tougher than men (though there are of course plenty of exceptions), and probably have to be, for reasons such as, among others, women's need to compensate for usually greater male physical strength, and society's historic need for not particularly bright male 'cannon fodder', and so on. But of course I have no way of proving such not especially relevant speculations.Tlhslobus (talk) 08:52, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. It was the "gentle souls" characterization that set off a red flag on my first reading. I hope to not give you many reasons to stay in this discussion since it's appearing quite pointless to me as well. The for-to-against ratio here is about the same as what was on the talk page. Connor Behan (talk) 19:07, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
(Note: In the comment below Djembayz is talking to Connor Behan, not to me - We are both replying to Connor's comment).Tlhslobus (talk) 08:52, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Comments Since you brought up the question of laws (which some of us need to observe! :), let me state that although I am not a lawyer myself, and speak purely in my personal capacity, I greatly prefer the protections offered by the WMF Terms of Use and US anti-discrimination laws to the local backroom bar "Don't be a *****(your whatever here!)*****!!!!" standard of conduct, which we have been discussing on this page.
The following links are offered as general background to help explain the pre-existing expectations of workers in US cultural institutions and government agencies, as to what constitutes civilized speech and behaviors for interacting with strangers, co-workers, and the general public.
Since our encyclopedia relies on the cooperation of cultural institutions and professionals, we need to be familiar with how these people expect to be treated if we intend to rely on their ongoing cooperation, especially for the taxpayer-funded institutions obligated to uphold these sorts of laws.
The general standards described below also seem to work pretty well for the "US-ians" who need to interact with people in an international setting; though there is always some variation as to how you'd interpret or implement their general principles in other cultures. -- Djembayz (talk) 22:51, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
... Some of these terms constitute not just incivility, but legal harassment; e.g., from Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.: "A raft of case law ... establishes that the use of sexually degrading, gender-specific epithets, such as 'slut,' 'cunt,' 'whore' and 'bitch,' .... have been consistently held to constitute harassment based upon sex ... If C.H. Robinson tolerated this environment, it may be found to have adopted the offending conduct and its results, just as if the employer affirmatively authorized it." Rationalobserver (talk) 20:19, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
<snip> ... I'm merely pointing out that unchecked use of the c-word may put Wikipedia in jeopardy regarding discrimination against a protected group, namely women. In E.E.O.C. v. National Education Association, "the 9th Circuit [court] ... [held] that Harvey's employees did not need to show that he was treating them so poorly because of their sex. Even though Harvey was arguably an 'equal opportunity harasser,' his conduct was still potentially illegal because it hurt women more than men, the court said." Rationalobserver (talk) 20:27, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
<snip> ... We can't enforce sexual harassment here like you would a job. For starters, it isn't a job. Second, there is no way to prove gender. I might be a woman for all you know, pretending to be a man. What we CAN do and should do (and sometimes fail to do) is enforce WP:NPA. If you call anyone a "bitch", you get warned, then blocked, etc. Gender isn't an issue. And frankly, it is rude to call anyone that name, male or female. That is the ultimate in equality: we treat everyone equal. And to be clear, WER's mission isn't political. We DO treat everyone equal here, and singling out special rules just for men or women, or supporting them as a group, that is completely counter to our charter. 100% equality for all races, religions, genders, with no special treatment for or against anyone. Dennis - 22:45, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
"Wikipedia is not a job and there is no legal recourse here." That's not true: "The Court has rejected the defense that compensation is required to bring a worker within the employment discrimination protections of the [Civil Rights] Act. (Volling v. Antioch Rescue Squad, N.D. IL, No. 11 C 04920, 12/4/12.)" Rationalobserver (talk) 22:50, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
"We can't enforce sexual harassment here like you would a job." Says who?"employers should be aware that Title VII may extend to cover volunteers in the workforce and provide volunteers the opportunity to bring suit alleging harassment and discrimination." Rationalobserver (talk) 22:53, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
"Gender isn't an issue." Again, says who? "a plaintiff can prove a hostile work environment by showing severe or pervasive discrimination directed against her protected group, even if she herself is not individually singled out." In terms of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the protected group is women, so gender is certainly a factor. Rationalobserver (talk) 23:19, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
"Gender isn't an issue." "At issue was whether the use of offensive 'gender specific' words such as 'bitch', 'cunt' and 'whore' in the workplace could support a sexual harassment lawsuit. The court ruled that while not all profane or sexual language would be actionable, certain gender-specific words could be, even if they weren't used explicitly in reference to the plaintiff." Obviously, the courts resoundingly disagree with what you've stated above. Rationalobserver (talk) 23:25, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

We should keep the legal beagle stuff out of this. It makes folks nervous. GoodDay (talk) 23:31, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Legal synthesis about the courts coming down on us for politically incorrect humor? If Americans actually live in this kind of fear now, I would say there is no better time for using words like "dick" and removing doubt that WMF is an agent of change. Connor Behan (talk) 23:54, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
It's the other way around-- you don't have to be scared here now like you used to, because there are anti-discrimination laws to protect you. It was a real eye-opener to cover some of the civil rights events for Commons last year, and discover that Americans don't live in fear of each other they way they did before anti-discrimination laws! We enforce on the "n-word", with some difficulty, but we don't enforce on respect for women. Very interesting. I've had some rather surprising discussions with African American folks about the situation on Wikipedia, and it's opened up a new world for me of people who have all sorts of experiences to share about how to deal with discrimination and promoting social change. What sort of "change agent" role do you see yourself playing if you're frightening reasonable people off the site who are concerned about picking up a hostile cyberstalker, possibly one with sexual intentions? Exactly what sort of change do you think WMF will be promoting by running the civilized people from the cultural sector off? Are you happy to be associated with a Wiki brand that is being described as "notoriously gangsterish"? And leaves you open to attack at sites like Wikipediocracy and Encyclopedia Dramatica? For better or worse, this website is ubiquitous now, and you can't break up with Wikipedia-- it follows you all over the Internet. “They’re afraid,” he said ... one client said to me that dealing with the Wikipedians is like walking into a mental hospital: the floors are carpeted, the walls are nicely padded, but you know there’s a pretty good chance at any given moment one of the inmates will pick up a knife." Will being associated with an organization like this help our members get ahead in their jobs, or encourage the public to keep donating? How long do you think this can go on before an anti-Wikipedia movement starts picking up steam? --Djembayz (talk) 01:33, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
If the essay actually contained a sexist comment (either with its jerk or dick title) you would get no argument from me. Instead, the issue has arisen in what I find to be a shameful form: men assuming that women are offended more easily. Believe me, I am not under delusions that the technical fields are havens for gender equality. The disparity so far has little to do with the wiring of male / female brains and a lot to do with stereotypes that are reinforced from birth. So much so, that the tribute to Wadewitz contrasts women with hackers as if they were mutually exclusive. Anti-discrimination laws are indeed reducing the amount of fear in the world, not trading fear of discrimination for fear of censorship. Because of this, I would not be afraid of a forthcoming anti-Wikipedia movement. If and when that happens, the men and women of this community can laugh it off and keeping improving human knowledge. Connor Behan (talk) 03:04, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I hope by now Connor has notice that three women have replied (the two "oppose changes" below and Djembayz) and all think Jerk is fine. Carolmooredc (talk) 14:39, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose moving Don't be a jerk back to Don't be a dick. We know Wikipedia/Wikimedia/et al are censored. What if someone created an essay called "Don't be a limp dick" about all the timid or alpha-male-compliant guys who won't oppose the most obnoxious male editors who bully and intimidate others. How long would that last? (Or maybe I should just write it and see, I've got plenty of material with diffs.)
If you want a professional encyclopedia you need some minimal standards and boundaries. If was changed back I'd push for DON'T BE A PRICK myself. Or something even more explicit.
Also, I've never heard a female called a "douchebag". "Bitch" is the usual phrase and lots of us are proud to be called that if it means honest and assertive - as opposed to being a "limp dick." Carolmooredc (talk) 17:47, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
  • I find extremely worrying that some participants of this discussion are using feminist arguments (see, for example, this comment) instead of linguistic issues. This essay was not about a dick as a male penis (why can one imagine someone would write an essay don't be a male penis?), and from my perspective of non-native English speaker I can't get the point what the name Don't be a dick has to do with such issues as alpha-male-compliant guys. I don't think either name has anything to do with gender issues, and offending any gender is definitely not the point of this essay.
  • What I would prefer to see instead is good links to dictionaries or any similar sources stating the difference what either jerk or dick is. The original version stated clearly what is a dick, and it was clear for non-native English speakers what this essay was about. By the way this clarity was also reflected by numerous translations (see Template:Don't be a dick/lang), most of which used wise local translations of the word dick (i.e. slightly outside the norm, but not tabou, like jouer au con in French or мудак in Russian). However, the word jerk lacks this clarity and is less understandable for non-native English speakers. Personally I interacted mostly with British English speakers, and I have never heard this word in a meaning that would fit here. Thus I have looked into Urban Dictionary, and what I found was the definition Jerks are selfish, manipulative bastards who see women as little more then sexual conquests to brag about to their buddies, which is definitely not the point of this essay. This makes unclear what actually jerk means here, and lack of such clarity makes this essay of little value for non-native English (or even American English) speakers — NickK (talk) 13:09, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
    +1. I, too, suggested clarity. I even told Collect (the principle author of the current version of the essay) of my advice, yet the proponents of "jerk" haven't done anything with the advice, and Collect doesn't seem to want to cooperate with this RfC. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 20:05, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I made my position clear, and the concept of attacking anyone as not cooperating with an RfC on which they already opined is neatly ludicrous and worthy of a jerkitude award per se. Collect (talk) 22:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

How about don't be a twat? 04:10, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

I like how a lot of the fellows insisting upon swearwords are saying "+1", a reference to Google, the KING of censorship. Just pointing out the blatant, ironic hypocrisy there. Nevertheless, I'm happy that this essay is now at "don't be a jerk", because it's a tad more professional and uncrude now. Good job, fellows! Tharthan (talk) 22:40, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Two things:
--Michaeldsuarez (talk) 02:16, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
I am well aware that "+1" was used to denote agreement before Google+. However, I scarcely saw it used on the Wikmedia projects that I am on before Google+ became popular. Tharthan (talk) 21:28, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Restore per nomination and User:Slakr. This essay has been located at "Don't be a dick", as long as I have been on Wikipedia, it's sort of a guiding phrase as far as I'm concerned. To change it just because somebody somewhere might be offended (and by the way, it's only really insulting to people who are acting like dicks, and the point of the essay is that people should not act like one), just drives me to despair. Go do some encyclopedia building instead of getting your knickers in a twist over this. Finally, "jerk" is a blatant Americanism, it is not widely used anywhere else in the world, unlike "dick" which is a much more common term worldwide. Amakuru (talk) 09:28, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
That is... not a legitimate argument at all. In fact, that is probably the most illegitimate argument that I have ever heard on a Wikimedia project. Your "argument" is not rationale, it is (rather) emotion-based. Furthermore, making ad hominem attacks against the people that are offended by vulgarities is quite childish. Tharthan (talk) 16:11, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
"Jerk" is in Chambers Dictionary - hardly an American dictionary. Also in OED as "a contemptibly obnoxious person." I trust these two sources relieve you of the idea that the word is a "blatant Americanism." Collect (talk) 21:52, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
  • WTF. Can someone explain how a slang term for stroking the male member is less offensive than a slang term for the male member? BTW, alternative definitions of the word "jerk" don't get us away from the fact that this is the main definition that is meant. Yaris678 (talk) 17:41, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
    • Alas - it is neither the main meaning nor the normal usage of the word. Cambridge: slang a foolish, annoying person M-W: : a stupid person or a person who is not well-liked or who treats other people badly, Online Etymology: tedious and ineffectual person, Oxford: informal A contemptibly obnoxious person., MacMillan offensive someone who does stupid, annoying, or unkind things, Collins: 8.(slang, mainly US & Canadian) a person regarded with contempt, esp a stupid or ignorant person, Chambers: a useless or stupid person (has also "a twitch" and "a birdsong" but pretty clear in the case at hand) Longman a sudden quick movement and informal someone, especially a man, who is stupid or who does things that annoy or hurt other people, Englishleap (n.) a stupid or highly obnoxious person, and Psychology Today [1] Has someone said you're acting like a jerk (or worse) in social situations? Here are 6 reasons why you may have earned this title. Looks like the dictionaries agree on it. Collect (talk) 22:41, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Wow, you must have your mind in the gutter if you think that "jerk"'s primary meaning is "to masturbate". When I think of "jerk", what comes to mind are the meanings "a rude person" and "a rigid shift in motion". So the very fact that you had your mind stuck in gutter is evidence that shows the precise problem with using vulgarities like the former name of this page in a civil, fairly polite setting. They aren't compatible. Hence the reasonable result that led this page to a far better name than it originally had. Tharthan (talk) 03:54, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
        • I don't see how a user having their mind in the gutter has any bearing one way or another on which word the essay should use. Even if there were some useful lesson that might be learned from it in some situations, (which seems doubtful) presumably there still wouldn't be when they've clearly the same problem with both words.
        To me, the word "dick" means "a person whose behavior is contemptible in a way commonly associated with so-called 'testosterone poisoning'." Which, I note, doesn't require the subject described to be of any particular gender. --Pi zero (talk) 13:56, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
        To me, that word means "a detective", although I don't personally use it. Furthermore, there isn't the same problem with both words. The word "hit" can mean "to have sex with", but that isn't anywhere near its primary meaning. To "knock (up)" can mean "to impregnate", to "tap" can mean "to have sex with" and to "sleep with" can also mean "to have sex with".
        So, if you are going to complain about "jerk" being used, then you might as well complain about any use of the words knock, tap, sleep or hit (amongst others), because they, too, can have vulgar meanings. Tharthan (talk) 19:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
        That almost sounds like an argument in favor of "dick", but as I recall you were mildly in favor of "jerk" as an alternative to "dick". --Pi zero (talk) 20:15, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
        The difference is, "jerk" isn't being used in a vulgar sense. That other word would be being used in such a way. Hence my being in favour of "jerk". Tharthan (talk) 19:30, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support Support, moving pages around after eight years might be examples for both don't be a dick and don't be a jerk, but after that's clear now it should be restored as it was for eight years, matching Wikipe-tan trifecta sign.png as it was, for seven years. –Be..anyone (talk) 20:54, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Is there consensus here?[edit]

Is there consensus here? If not, the page should go back to the name it held for a long time. Yaris678 (talk) 12:30, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

  • I admit this is a complicated discussion, so I'm not completely sure, but it appears to me that there is consensus for the current title ("Don't be a jerk"). There certainly isn't consensus for the title "Don't be a dick". Mr. Granger (talk) 16:51, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
    • In the international context, dick is a well known synonym for idiot, but not for the part of the body, whereas jerk ... you know. Or this entry. --Sargoth (talk) 00:39, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
      • Hi Sargoth. I agree with your analysis, but this subthread was intended to discuss whether there is consensus and, if not, what to do, given that there is no consensus. I believe in this context the right thing to do is revert to the name that has been common for years. My position is simimilar to that expressed by Be..anyone above. Yaris678 (talk) 07:59, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
        • I would not define myself as a member of the meta community so i may not have the right to take part in the consensus-making but as neighbour, i'd prefer to not be a dick rather than not to jerk. --Sargoth (talk) 14:48, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
          • There is no consensus, as should be clearly obvious by the above discussion. Give it up. Also, it's not proper etiquette to restart a discussion of consensus when one that happened not too long previously failed to create one. There was, however, a previous consensus to retitle the page to its current title, and as this discussion has resulted in no consensus, the answer remains the same as the last successful consensus; to have the page at its current, nonoffensive (objections to that I have already addressed, despite the same refuted "points" resurfacing again in this subheader disregarding their debunked status).
          • With that said, I have little hope in the Wikimedia projects actually retaining any usability in the world due to the current shift in the opinion of the general populace towards supporting radical liberalism (a claimed "solution" to the previous method of blindly following radical conservatism, which is just as foolish). Since the Wikimedia projects are not radical liberal concoctions, they will either: A. devolve into mindless husks of their former selves or B. die altogether due to not being partisan.
          • As such, it would not surprise me if the mindless roaring of those that don't get their way win out in the end. So be it. My vote still stands as Oppose towards any attempt to rename the page to its original title that it had before the current one. Tharthan (talk) 13:22, 2 April 2015 (UTC)