WikiFur:Dispute resolution

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This page is a proposed WikiFur policy, guideline, or process. The proposal may still be in development, under discussion, or in the process of gathering consensus for adoption. References or links to this page should not describe it as "policy".

Squirrel (PSF).png This page in a nutshell:
Resolve disputes calmly, through civil discussion and consensus-building on relevant discussion pages. There are several available options to request opinions from editors outside the dispute. Other dispute resolution mechanisms include mediation or, after all other methods have been tried, arbitration.

This policy describes what to do when you have a dispute with another editor. See Wikipedia:Wikiquette and the essay Staying cool when the editing gets hot for more tips. Also please remember that Wikifur is not about winning.

Avoiding disputes[edit]

A variety of methods exist for helping to positively resolve disputes, before using formal processes or third-party intervention. Disputes or grievances should always be reacted to in the first instance by approaching, in good faith, the editor or editors concerned and explaining what you find objectionable and why you think so. This can be done on the talk page of the article or on the user page.

Focus on content[edit]

The most important first step is to focus on content, and not on editors. Wikipedia is built upon the principle of collaboration and assuming that the efforts of others are in good faith is important to any community. When you find a passage in an article that you find is biased or inaccurate, improve it if you can. If that is not easily possible, and you disagree with a point of view expressed in an article, don't just delete it. Rather, balance it with what you think is neutral. Note that unreferenced text may be tagged or removed because of our policy on verifiability.

To help other editors understand the reasoning behind them, always explain your changes in the edit summary. If an edit is potentially contentious, explain why you made the change and how it improves the article. If your reasoning is complex, add a section to the talk page of the article to explain it and refer to that section in the edit summary. If your edit gets reverted, you can discuss the reversion with other editors on the talk page.

In summary: Don't take others' actions personally. Explain to them what you're doing, and always be prepared to change your mind.

Stay cool[edit]

Most situations are not urgent. Please give both yourself and the other party some time. Often it helps to just take a deep breath and sleep on it. Don't worry! You can always fix the problem later. (You can go back to the page history of an article at any time, to find the version of the article that you last worked on, and compare that to the current version to see whether there are still things that you'd like put in or taken out.)

Take a long term view. In due course you will probably be able to return and carry on editing it, when the previous problems no longer exist and the editor you were in dispute with might themselves move on. In the meantime the disputed article will evolve, other editors may become interested and they will have different perspectives if the issue comes up again.

This is particularly helpful when disputing with new users as it gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with Wikipedia's policy and culture. Focus your contributions on another article where you can make constructive progress.

Discuss with the other party[edit]

When discussing an issue, remember to stay cool. If you encounter rude or inappropriate behavior, don't respond likewise. Take the other editor's perspective into account. Assume that an editor is acting in good faith until it's absolutely clear that they're not. It's at that point where you should consider dispute resolution processes that involve third parties.

Talking to other parties is not a formality; it's an imperative to the smooth running of any community. Not discussing will make people less sympathetic to your position and may prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. In contrast, sustained discussion and serious negotiation between the parties, even if not immediately (or even remotely) successful, shows that you are trying to find a solution.

Also consider negotiating a truce or compromise. This is also important if you intend to solicit outside opinions because it allows others to consider the issue fairly without the confusion of constant ongoing edits.

Resolving content disputes[edit]

If the previous steps fail to resolve the dispute, but the dispute has been identified as a content dispute, one of the following methods can be tried. Such disputes often involve questions over whether particular content in an article (or proposed content for an article) is in compliance with site policies.

Ask for a third opinion[edit]

If you need neutral outside opinions in a dispute involving only two editors, turn to a third person. You could also consider asking in the forums or IRC.

Informal mediation[edit]

If things are getting a bit tricky, it might be useful to ask some cool heads to look in and help out. Sometimes editors who provide third opinions or respond to requests for comments may be willing to help mediate a dispute, if it is requested. The Help desk exists specifically for users to ask for help from other members of the community, and the Watercooler exists for more general community discussion.

Formal mediation[edit]

Another process that would have to be set up

Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral person works with the parties to a dispute. The mediator helps guide the parties into reaching an agreement that can be acceptable to everyone. When requesting formal mediation, be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute using the steps listed above, and that all parties to the dispute are in agreement to mediate. Mediation cannot take place if all parties are not willing to take part. Mediation is only for disputes about Article Content, not for complaints about user conduct.

RfC through article talk pages[edit]

Is this already in place on Wikifur?

Requests for comment through article talk pages is the remaining avenue for requesting outside input on article content or proposed article content. Unlike mediation, RfC through article talk pages can still proceed even if a party is unwilling to participate.

Resolving user conduct disputes[edit]

If the dispute has been identified as a dispute which involves user conduct, one of the following methods can be tried. Such disputes often involve complaints concerning the actions of an user (such as how an editor edits or the comments that editor makes during talk page discussions).


Is this already in place on Wikifur?

Requests for comment on user conduct is the main avenue for disputes about user conduct. Requests for comment on user conduct have minimum requirements that need to be satisfied: at least two users must have tried (and failed) to resolve the problem with the user on the user's talk page.

Last resort: Arbitration[edit]

An arbitration process/committee would also be needed
See also: Wikipedia:Arbitration guide

If you have taken all other reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, and the dispute is not over the content of an article, you can request arbitration. Be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute by other means. Arbitration differs from mediation in that the Arbitration Committee will consider the case and issue a decision, instead of merely assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If the issue is decided by arbitration, you will be expected to abide by the result. If the case involves serious user misconduct, arbitration may result in a number of serious consequences up to totally banning someone from editing, as laid out in the arbitration policy. Note that arbitration is normally for disputes about user conduct, while mediation is normally for disputes about article content.

Words of caution[edit]

Dispute resolution is sometimes used by editors to try to game the system. This generally backfires badly. Remember that dispute resolution mechanisms are ultimately there to enable editors to collaboratively write an encyclopedia – not to win personal or political battles.

See also[edit]