From Confederacy of Independent Systems
Infobase contributors come from all over the world, and many of them will have greatly differing views on certain subjects. Although we are all governed by the CIS rules, there's still enough room for controversy that discussions are likely to become heated from time to time. This policy is written with the aim of keeping the community civil and functioning. It also includes suggestions on how to approach differences of opinion.
- No personal attacks. Criticizing other people's work is fine, but personal attacks are not. Treat everyone with respect, and they will treat you with respect. However, you should not respond in kind if you're attacked.
Most of these guidelines can be summarized very simply: be polite. However, some of the more specific points may be useful in certain discussions to help avoid an argument, or to bring an argument back on track.
- Remember our primary goal. All of the archivists here at InfoBase are here for a specific project: to write an encyclopedia. We're not here to debate "what if" scenarios or argue the finer points of the Star Trek canon – that is, unless it specifically has to with an article.
- Arguments are not constructive. Consider how much time might be spent writing responses for an argument with another contributor – and then consider how much of that time might have been spent writing new articles or refining old ones instead. Protracted arguments don't serve anyone.
- Always say something positive. Even if you're writing a strong criticism of an article, even if the article needs a lot of work, always try to say something constructive about the author's contributions. Positive criticism will always help encourage people to participate more in the future.
- Post positive comments, too. You shouldn't assume that if there are no comments, that the article is just fine. If you read an article that you like, post a note on the talk page. Tell the authors that you enjoyed their article and that you found it useful. Positive reinforcement is always vital to encourage further contributions.
- Be specific in your criticism. Don't just make blanket statements about an article's problems – give specific examples of what you think is wrong with the work. When you have specific points to criticize, it makes everyone more constructive, but also helps avoid resentment that might arise if the author thinks you're trashing his entire article.
- Try posting comments as questions. Instead of adding declarative statements, try asking the author questions about their article instead. (i.e. "Is this what you meant?" or "Where did you get this information?") It shows that you're interested in the subject and interested in their article – it builds rapport and helps communication.
- Acknowledge that you understand the other point of view. Many arguments arise out of the mistaken belief that the opposing side simply doesn't understand your argument, or vice versa. Always be sure to summarize the other person's point of view to make sure that you understand it properly.
- Help mediate other disagreements. If you happen across another debate in progress, try to help mediate the disagreement rather than jump in on one side or the other.
Guidelines for talk pages
The following guidelines are specifically oriented towards talk pages:
- Talk pages are not a message board! Do not use the talk pages for chats or other off-topic discussions. If you feel a need to chat, please visit the CIS Forums instead.
- Respect the integrity of other people's posts. On a message board, every individual's posts are treated as inviolate and uneditable. On a wiki, anyone can edit anyone else's text, even on a talk page. However, that does not give you the right to change people's arguments at will!
- Disagreements do not equal dislike. Realize that if someone disagrees with your point of view, that does not mean that they think you're an idiot or dislike you. Don't take criticism personally!
- Before you post a comment to a talk page, ask yourself, "Is this comment necessary? Why don't I just edit the article myself?" Often, even a stub article would be useful.
- Sometimes, silence is golden. Although it's generally human nature to defend one's own point of view, sometimes it's best to just walk away. Let the matter drop and go back later on.
Please add to this article if you have further suggestions for avoiding conflicts.