Battlestar Wiki:Please do not bite the newcomers

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BSG WIKI Policy.png This page is an official policy of Battlestar Wiki.
This policy is considered by the community and its leadership to be the status quo of Battlestar Wiki and is not to be countermanded or ignored, though changes to it can be discussed on the appropriate talk page. This policy was implemented on 30 September 2006.
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This is a derivative work from Wikipedia's Please do not bite the newcomers, which is permissible under the GNU FDL license. All related edits will be released under this same license.

New contributors are prospective "members" and are therefore our most valuable resource. We must treat newcomers with kindness and patience—nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility or elitism. While many newcomers hit the ground running, some lack knowledge about the way we do things. That's O.K., because we were all new once and we're here to help each other!

Please do NOT bite the newcomers

  • Understand that newcomers are both needed by and are of value to the community. By empowering newcomers, we improve the diversity of knowledge, opinions and ideals on Battlestar Wiki, enhance its value and preserve its neutrality and integrity as a resource.
  • Remember, our motto - and our invitation to the newcomer - is bold. We have a set of rules and standards and traditions, but they must not be applied in such a way as to thwart those newcomers who take that invitation at face value. It is entirely possible for a newcomer to this site to bring a wealth of experience from other venues, together with ideas and creative energy which, current rules and standards notwithstanding, may further improve our community and end product. It may be that the rules and standards need revising or expanding; some of what the newcomer seems to be doing "wrong" at first may prove to actually improve Battlestar Wiki. Observe for a while and, if necessary, ask what the newcomer is about before defining what he/she is doing as "wrong" or "substandard".
  • If you do determine, or sincerely believe, a newcomer has made a mistake, such as forgetting to put book titles or the names of ships in italics, or failing to make useful links, try to correct the mistake yourself. Don't slam the newcomer; remember, this is a place where anyone can edit and, in a very real sense, it is therefore each person's responsibility to edit, not to criticize or supervise others.
  • If you really feel that you must say anything at all to a newcomer about a mistake, do it in a spirit of being helpful. Begin by introducing yourself on their talk page to let them know that they are welcome here, and present your corrections calmly and as the contributor's peer, perhaps also pointing out things they've done that you *like*. If you can't do that, then it is better to say nothing.
  • Other newcomers may be hesitant to make changes, especially major ones, such as NPOV-ing and moving, due to fear of damaging Battlestar Wiki (or of offending other users, or being flamed). Teach them to be bold, and do not be annoyed by their "timidity".
  • Whilst it is fine to point a new user, who has made a mistake, towards relevant guidance it is out of order to suggest that they stop taking part in votes, RFA and RFC discussions, etc. until they "gain more experience". This both discourages the new editor and may deprive Battlestar Wiki of much needed insights.
  • When giving advice to newcomers, tone down the rhetoric even a few notches from the usual mellow discourse that dominates Battlestar Wiki. Make the newcomer feel genuinely welcome, not as though they must win your approval in order to be granted membership into an exclusive club. Any new domain of concentrated, special-purpose human activity has its own specialized strictures and structures, which take time to learn, and which benefit from periodic re-examination and revision. This is especially true on Battlestar Wiki, where we use present tense in most articles (where many wikis do not) and are a bit "anal" in consistent usage of phrases, proper names and places (as well as their proper usage in their respective continuities).
  • Do not call newcomers disparaging names, such as "meatpuppet". If a lot of newcomers show up on one side of a vote, you should make them feel welcome while explaining that their votes may be disregarded. No name-calling is necessary.
  • Sometimes users forget to use four tildes after talk page posts. One can use {{Unsigned}} to fix those anonymous comments in the meantime, with a nice reminder to sign the next time.
  • Assume good faith on the part of the newcomer. They most likely want to help out. Give them a chance!
  • Remember Hanlon's Razor. Behavior that appears malicious to experienced Wikipedians is more likely due to ignorance of our expectations and rules. Even if you're 100% sure that someone is a worthless, no-good, Internet troll, a vandal, or worse, conduct yourself as if they're not. By being calm, interested, and respectful, your dignity is uplifted, and you further our project.
  • Remember that you were once a newcomer also. Treat others as (if possible, better than) you would want to be treated if you had just arrived at Battlestar Wiki.

Please do not bite the new Admins

Newbie administrators who make mistakes sometimes feel "bitten" when this is pointed out to them in quick succession by many people. Excessively stern messages to new admins are much the same as excessively stern messages to newcomers. So please remember to not bite the newbie administrators. Remember, every administrator starts as a newbie admin and every admin has made at least one admin-related mistake! Help them out with their new powers as you would help a newcomer with the rest of Battlestar Wiki.

Admins should remember, however, that "I'm a newbie" is not a catch-all excuse; they are still expected to do their best in good-faith to adhere to the Wiki-way.

How to avoid being a biter

In more general terms, one can also avoid being accused of being a "biter" by:

  1. Avoiding intensifiers in commentary (such words as terrible, dumb, stupid, bad, good, and so forth, and exclamation marks).
  2. Modulating one's approach and wording.
  3. Striving to respond in a measured manner.
  4. Accepting graciously another person's actions or inactions in a given situation or context.
  5. Acknowledging differing principles and a willingness to reach consensus.
  6. Opening oneself towards taking responsibility for resolution of conflicts.
  7. Reciprocating where necessary.
  8. Listening actively.

Consciously choose the steadfast ground. Strive to be a responsible Wikipedian. By fostering goodwill, one will not provoke or be provoked easily, and will allow new Wikipedians to devote their time and resources towards building an encyclopedia - part of what Battlestar Wiki and this whole online project and community are all about.

What to do if you feel you have been 'bitten'

If you have "bitten" someone, or feel that you have been "bitten", there are a number of things to keep in mind, and alternatives to choose from:

  1. Actively choose to learn from the incident.
    Consider alternatives that could have been used by the "biter" to achieve a more desirable response for yourself, and if you encounter a similar situation in the future, consider acting in the latter manner if the situation warrants.
  2. Graciously point out that one is encouraged that someone took the time to acknowledge your actions.
  3. Consider that negative "biting" incidents are transitory - one should not feel the need to pacify one's actions as a result of non-constructive commentary. Extract the wisdom that may have been unintentionally veiled, and choose to take that away as valuable experience.
  4. Choose to point out in a reasoned manner any offense taken, and learn to recognize when the message cannot be received. The recipient may be unable or unwilling to accept fault or otherwise, and it may be better to move on to other things than to dwell on the "bite".