Snowball clause

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Crystal wordprocessing.png This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some wikimedians or Meta-Wiki users, but may not have wide support. This is not policy on the Meta-Wiki, 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.
Note
This essay is about a custom in English wikipedia. See also Meta:Snowball for views from Meta users.
Shortcut:
SNOW
SNOWBALL
Snowballs

The "snowball clause" is an interpretation of the Ignore all rules policy that stems from the fact that wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, and the desire that editors exercise common sense. The snowball clause states:

If an issue doesn't even have a snowball's chance in hell of getting an unexpected outcome from a certain process, then there is no need to run it through that process.

The snowball clause is not policy, but it is designed to prevent editors from using policies and guidelines as a filibuster.

For example, if an article is speedily deleted for a reason not explicitly listed in the criteria for speedy deletion but it would almost certainly be deleted via the requests for deletion process anyway, there's little sense in undeleting it.

What the snowball clause is not[edit]

Hell. Note the complete absence of snowballs.

An uphill battle is extremely difficult but potentially winnable. In cases of genuine contention in the Meta-Wiki community, it is best to settle the dispute through discussion and debate. This should not be done merely to assuage complaints that process wasn't followed, but to produce a correct outcome, which often requires that the full process be followed. Allowing a process to continue to its conclusion may allow for a more reasoned discourse, ensures that all arguments are fully examined, and maintains a sense of fairness. However, process for its own sake is not part of Wikipedia policy.

Snowball test[edit]

This test can be applied to an action only after it is performed, and is thus useful for learning from experience.

  • If an issue is run through some process and the resulting decision is unanimous, then it might have been a candidate for the snowball clause.
  • If an issue is "snowballed", and somebody later raises a reasonable objection, then it probably was not a good candidate for the snowball clause. Nevertheless, if the objection raised is unreasonable or contrary to policy, then the debate needs to be re-focused, and editors may be advised to avoid disrupting wikipedia to make a point.

Examples[edit]

If a request for adminship receives unanimous support, closing it early is no big deal, as the result is absolutely clear and there is not a snowball's chance in hell that the outcome would be different.

See also[edit]