Wiktionary:Assume good faith

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This page is a soft rule on Wiktionary. Many editors agree with acting this way. It is a good idea to follow it, but it is not a hard rule. Feel free to change the page as needed, but please use the talk page to suggest any big changes.

To assume good faith is a fundamental principle on any wiki, including Simple English Wiktionary. As we allow anyone to edit, it follows that we assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it. If this were not true, a project like Wiktionary would be doomed from the beginning.

So, when you can reasonably assume that something is a well-intentioned error, correct it without just reverting it or labeling it as vandalism. When you disagree with someone, remember that they probably believe that they are helping the project. Consider using talk pages to explain yourself, and give others the opportunity to do the same. This can avoid misunderstandings and prevent problems from escalating. Especially, remember to be patient with newcomers, who will be unfamiliar with Wiktionary's customs and guidelines.

A newcomer's behavior probably seems appropriate to him or her and a problem usually indicates that they lack awareness of or have misunderstood the Wiktionarian culture. It is not uncommon for a newcomer to believe that an unfamiliar policy should be changed to match their experience elsewhere. Similarly, many newcomers bring with them experience or expertise for which they expect immediate respect. Behaviors arising from these perspectives are not necessarily malicious.

Assuming good faith is about intentions, not actions. Well-meaning people make mistakes, and editors should correct mistakes when they become aware of them. What veteran editors should not do is assume that a newcomer's mistake was deliberate. A responsible editor should correct but not scold a newcomer. There will be disagreements among individuals on Wiktionary. Even if an editor is wrong, this should not imply malicious intent. It is NEVER necessary that individuals attribute an editor's actions to bad faith, even if bad faith seems obvious, as Wiktionary countermeasures (i.e. reverting, blocking) can be performed on the basis of behavior rather than intent.

Of course, there is a difference between assuming good faith and ignoring bad actions. If you expect people to assume good faith from you, make sure you demonstrate it. Do not put the burden on others. Yelling "Assume Good Faith" at fellow editors does not excuse you from explaining your actions, and making a habit of it will convince people that you are acting in bad faith.

When edit wars get hot, it's easy to forget to assume good faith.

If you assume bad faith, several things may happen:

  • Personal attacks: Once you've made a personal attack, the target will probably assume bad faith. The edit war will get even uglier. People, like elephants, rarely forget.
  • Losing sight of the NPOV (neutral point of view) policy. The ideal is to make articles acceptable to everyone. Every revert (rather than change) of a biased edit is a NPOV defeat, no matter how outrageous the edit was. Consider figuring out why the other person felt the article was biased. Then, if possible, try to integrate their point, but in terms you consider neutral. If each side practices this they will eventually meet at NPOV — or a rough semblance of it.

Correcting an error (even if you think it was deliberate) is better than accusing the editor of lying because the person is likely to take it in a good-natured fashion. Correcting a newly added sentence, term, phrase, or definition that you know to be wrong is also much better than simply deleting it.

This guideline does not require that editors continue to assume good faith in the presence of evidence to the contrary. Things which can cause the loss of good faith include vandalism, personal attacks, and edit warring.

See also[change]

Simple English Wikipedia's assume good faith page