Community Central
Community Central

Wikis are community-based projects where people worldwide can come together to share their passion for a subject. It goes without saying that you may not agree with everything someone does. The important thing to remember is to assume someone's intentions are good. Most people are part of a community to help it, not to hurt it!

What is assuming good faith?[]

To assume good faith means to assume that someone is making a well-intentioned effort to help the community. Even if they did something you think is wrong, odds are, it might be an accident. Assuming good faith means to assume that there is no intention of malice and that editors are trying hard to do their work for the greater good of the community.

Even if someone made an edit that needs to be reverted, it does not mean that their intention in making that edit was anything less than honorable. You should approach disagreements with a sense that the other person wants to help so you can be a friendly, honest, and caring voice in the community rather than someone who assumes that anyone who does something differently than you is out to ruin the project.

Assuming good faith from new users[]

Making the leap from reader to editor can be daunting, and the Publish button can be very intimidating when you know the entire world can see your first edit. For that reason, you should always remember to be patient with newcomers because they will most likely be unfamiliar with the community's culture and rules. They are there because they are excited to join in, but they may not understand the tools or codes that you are used to, and if it is a wiki made by you, they probably have not read your community's rules and guidelines – no matter how much you may have wanted them to. It is easy to get frustrated and impatient about this, but everyone needs a chance to learn – and at a pace that's as comfortable for them as possible.

When you can reasonably assume that something is a well-meaning error, correct it with a kind, explanatory edit summary, and even leave a message on their user talk page or wall. Don't just revert it without any explanation, and certainly don't label it as vandalism unless it has malicious intent behind it. Letting the users know what they did wrong not only helps them become a better editor, but the new messages notification showing them that someone has, in fact, read their edits can be ideal for positive encouragement. Knowing that someone has read what you wrote is a great feeling that can get people deeply involved in communities they care about.

Remember not to act as if their mistake was deliberate. Correct them, but don’t scold them. Inform, but don’t intimidate. You want to keep these people on your wiki, so why scare them off?

Handling disagreements[]

Different people can have different opinions about what's best for a community. When you disagree with someone, you might start to feel that they are a bad editor, but that is almost never true if they care about the topic. Assuming good faith is all about intentions, not actions. Even if the person is wrong, that does not mean they are trying to ruin anything.

Whenever an edit or a message irritates you, take a step back and assume the person is just trying to help. This can help you look past your frustration, recognize what they are trying to achieve, and act more kindly based on that understanding. Consider using talk pages, comments, or walls to explain your point of view and invite others to do the same. This can avoid misunderstandings and prevent problems from escalating.

Well-meaning people can take actions the rest of the community feels are unwise, and you should discuss the actions calmly and seek compromises wherever possible. What you should not do is accuse the person of vandalism or sabotage. Foster a culture of consensus, not condemnation.

Not assuming bad faith[]

Assuming good faith means obviously not assuming bad faith. When you assume bad faith, you could provoke personal attacks and a loss of neutrality.

Once you've made a personal attack, the target will probably assume bad faith, and the edit war will get even uglier: people, like elephants, rarely forget.

The ideal is to make articles acceptable to everyone: every revert (rather than change) of a biased edit is a defeat for neutrality, no matter how outrageous the edit was. Consider figuring out why the other person felt the article was biased and then, if possible, try to integrate their point but in terms you consider neutral: if each side practices this, they will eventually meet at a neutral point of view (or at least a rough semblance of it).

Correcting someone's error (even if you think it was deliberate) is better than accusing him or her of lying because the person is likely to take it in a good-natured fashion. Correcting a newly added sentence that you know to be wrong is also much better than simply deleting it.

A note for admins[]

When you discuss with editors, you should always be friendly and patient. Show them that you are assuming good faith about their intentions, whether they are new or regular editors. This prevents or calms most conflicts, and it helps the community trust you. It also sets an important example for other editors and admins, which can lead to a more welcoming and positive atmosphere in the community.

When a well-meaning person takes an action you disagree with, you should always start with a message on their user talk page or wall. Never go straight to blocking them or protecting a page – and never use admin tools or stature to get your way in a disagreement. Remember that every action on a wiki can be undone, and letting an unwanted edit or page sit for a short time while you talk with the user and wait for their reply is not terrible.

Of course, some users act in bad faith, and we trust admins to use their judgment and their tools to deal with them appropriately. However, assuming good faith is a powerful tool. Even in cases of obvious vandalism, you might be surprised how often a kind and personal warning can get people to stop and even apologize. Many vandals and disruptive editors are just bored readers who do not think anyone is paying attention or don't believe that their obnoxiousness is affecting real people.

Very malicious cases of spam, vandalism, and trolling are blatantly obvious, and those can be dealt with quick administrative actions like blocking. The vast majority of people are there to help the community, but occasionally, you get someone who just wants to vandalize to ruin other people's good time.

Final advice[]

Just remember that everyone you deal with has feelings. Everyone can help you build the community that you love if they are shown that their work is noticed and valued and that they can improve wherever needed. Always do your best to assume good faith; your reward will be a thriving wiki community!

See also[]

Further help and feedback[]