Help:Interacting with humans

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This page aims to help people avoid getting into difficulties when communicating with other users, by both showing how to understand typical behaviour, and how to act reasonably in return. It contains a set of general principles that may be useful to bear in mind, particularly on the English Wiktionary, but is not intended as a policy.

Never assume malevolence
People are not out to get you, and they are not out to get Wiktionary. Actions that appear destructive are usually either a result of someone not caring, not understanding, or not thinking. Those who don't care should be blocked lest they cause damage, those who don't understand should have things explained to them, and accidental damage should be undone.

Newcomers[edit]

Accept advice
Wiktionary has many unique conventions that are, if not unwritten, not easily visible; most of them are there for very good reasons and ignoring them wastes the time of those who choose to clean up after you. Pre-emptively skimming through Wiktionary:Entry layout explained and Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion is highly recommended to help avoid the most common mistakes. Also, many of the users here do actually know what they're doing, so if anything they do doesn't make sense, it's perfectly OK to ask.
Don't explode
Most of the editors here concentrate solely on building the dictionary: they tend to converse tersely, undo anything that looks even slightly suspect, and expect you to know everything about Wiktionary that they do. Just relax and ask them, or someone else, for more detail when you are unsure of what they mean or why they have acted strangely; shouting at them or undoing their fixes to your work is just as impolite as you feel they have been.

Experienced users[edit]

Be helpful
Wiktionary is not the easiest place in the world, and most people will not be able to pick it up perfectly from the start; it takes little time to leave people a note explaining why you fixed something as you did, even if it is just in a slightly extended edit summary. If a user doesn't understand, don't shout at them; explain the problem.
Don't explode
Don't let other users waste your time, if they are not accepting or understanding your comments, point them to the information desk or a similar public forum. It's generally not a good idea to block users only for irritating you, because they will then come back and complain more. If another editor angers you, please don't just come and yell at them; stay away from the discussion for a while and think it over, then come back and try to resolve the issue.

Editing[edit]

Always improve Wiktionary
Every edit should constitute an improvement to an unbiased multilingual dictionary. Making edits solely to publish your thoughts or prove your points is a waste of Wiktionary's resources and other editors' time.
Be considerate
Remember that every scrap of Wiktionary that exists is there because of someone's effort; don't waste this effort, where possible, build upon it. If you find yourself needing to justify an edit with an edit summary, you are doing it wrong – the summary is there to describe the changes you made.

Debating[edit]

Concentrate on the issue
Neither use nor respond to any logical fallacy. In particular, don't fall into the trap of attacking other people instead of the ideas that they put forth. Doing so is both impolite and destructive to the community. Try not to make any offensive comments; like the old saying, if you can't say anything nice, please don't say anything at all.
Notice rhetoric
The power of words should not be underestimated. Be wary of following a better-written argument over a better argument, but don't shy away from spending a few minutes wording your points if you believe they are correct.
Use links not quotes
Those with whom you are debating are capable of reading, and should be interested in doing so; if you would like to reiterate a point that has previously been made, paraphrase it and link to it. Quoting sentences from old discussions or from policy pages fails to capture enough of the context that is necessary for understanding.