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A Wikibreak, or Wikivacation, is a state of a Wikimedian. It refers to a break from Wikipedia for reasons associated with the project itself. A Wikipedian taking a Wikibreak is in principle favourably disposed towards Wikipedia, but takes some issues very seriously.

A Wikibreak can take as little as a few days, but there is no upper limit. The break takes as long as it takes the Wikipedian to make up her or his mind whether to leave Wikipedia for good, or return. A contributor on an extended Wikibreak may become a missing Wikipedian.

A Wikibreak is a good method for cooling down after being involved with POV edits (including edit wars), controversial material, trolls or the like. It often helps to remove some or all pages from one's "watchlist" to better enjoy the break. See also Wikistress.

Wikipediholics find it very hard to take Wikibreaks and often intend to take them but find themselves editing again very soon afterwards.

The social phenomenon of Wikivacation[edit]

The social phenomenon of Wikivacation refers to the voluntary decision of a member of an on-line Wiki community to refrain from participating in it for a certain amount of time.

The temporary self-imposed exile may last for one, two or more weeks, and is usually associated with high levels of Wikistress.

The cause of the "vacation" may vary. Disputes, disagreements, different culture, opinions, positions and ideas may encourage a user to have a Wikivacation. Unmanifested real-life stress may also have some impact on the online behaviour of a user, which may result in disputes which will eventually force one or all of the confronted parties to abstain from the community.

Another possible cause is the psychological need of attention that one may have. This need may eventually lead the user in disputes with others and strange behaviour, which will result in more stress and, in the end, the announcement of a Wikivacation. This announcement serves the hidden psychological purpose of the "Wiki-vacationer" to draw more attention on them.

The announcement of a Wikivacation may be done in many ways, including but not limited to

  • blanking one's userpage and/or talkpage. Instead of blanking, a user may choose to write a short message, such as "Goodbye".
  • posting the announcement on the community's Mailing list[s], web forum, BBS, USENET newsgroup, and so on. The user may explain one's reasons for their temporary self-imposed exile.
  • announcing one's decision in the environment of the WikiWiki-based on-line community, either by the means of a talkpage or one's own userpage.
  • talking about it in the community's IRC channels, if it has any.
  • sending an e-mail to one or more members of the community, which may include the community's founder[s] if they are easily accessible.

Some users may prefer to have an Unannounced Wikivacation by refraining from participating in the community without citing any reason and without giving any prior warning or notice. They may do so if they are uncertain on whether they want to have only a temporary Wikivacation or a permanent cancellation of their membership in the community. However, the psychological need of attention may still be present in an Unannounced Wikivacation, if the user is unconsciously trying to determine whether the other community's participants will notice their absence.

Low psychological self-esteem may also play a role, since it may make a user think of themselves as unable or unworthy to participate in the community in a helpful and constructive manner. Especially when a dispute arises, users with low self-esteem may choose to refrain from the dispute even if they have clearly identified opinions, likes and dislikes. If the dispute results in a decision unfavourable or against to the user's opinions, they may have an Unannounced Wikivacation or even a permanent exit in serious situations.

In an Announced Wikivacation many users may communicate with the vacationing user, either in public or in private, to convince them to come back to the community, which may include messages such as "Please come back!|." and "We love you!|.". In situations where the need of attention or the low self-esteem is a primary unconscious cause or psychological catalyst of the Wikivacation, this communication may help them to satisfy or understand their hidden psychological motives and put an end to their attention-seeking.