FamilySearch Wiki:Assume Good Faith
|This page documents a guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that contributors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense and the occasional exception.|
Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.
It is assumed that contributors' edits and comments are made in good faith. Most people try to help the project, not hurt it. If this were false, a project like FamilySeach Wiki would be doomed from the beginning.
When disagreement occurs, try the best of your ability to explain and resolve the problem and not cause more conflict, and give others the opportunity to do the same. Consider whether a dispute stems from different perspectives and look for ways to reach consensus.
When others cast doubt on their own good faith, continue to assume good faith yourself where you can. Be civil and follow dispute resolution processes, rather than attacking contributors or edit warring with them. If you wish to express doubts about the conduct of fellow Wikipedians, then please substantiate those doubts with specific diffs and other relevant evidence so that people can understand the basis for the concerns. Although bad conduct may be apparently due to bad faith, it is usually best to address the conduct without mentioning motives (which mention would tend to exacerbate resentments all around).
Be careful about citing this principle too aggressively. Just as one can incorrectly judge that another is acting in bad faith, so too can one mistakenly conclude that bad faith is being assumed, and exhortations to "Assume Good Faith" can themselves reflect negative assumptions about others if a perceived assumption of bad faith was not clear-cut.
About good faith
Everyone makes mistakes, both behavioral (like personal attacks) and content-based (like adding biographies), and we can correct them with reminders most of the time. However, there will be disagreements on Wikipedia for which no policy or guideline has an easy answer. When disagreements happen, it may not be that someone has ill intent. Keep a cool head, and consider dispute resolution if disagreements seem intractable; many of them are not.
This guideline does not require that contributors continue to assume good faith in the presence of contrary evidence. Assuming good faith does not prohibit discussion and criticism, but instead contributors should not attribute the actions being criticized to malice unless there is specific evidence of malice.
Violation of some policies, such as engaging in sock-puppetry, violating consensus, and so on, may be perpetrated in either good or bad faith. There are processes for dealing with all of these, and sanctions for repeated violation of policy apply regardless of whether bad faith was involved.
Good faith and newcomers
- Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Be kind to newcomers
It is important to be patient with newcomers, who will be unfamiliar with Wikipedia's culture and rules, but may nonetheless turn out to be valuable contributors.
A newcomer's behavior probably seems appropriate to him/her, and a problem in that regard usually indicates unawareness or misunderstanding of Wikipedian culture. It is not uncommon for a newcomer to believe that an unfamiliar policy should be changed to match their notion of how things should function, especially if they notice that there is already some level of disagreement over the policy in question. Similarly, many newcomers want to have their contributions to articles accepted without question, especially which pertain to subjects on which they have extensive knowledge. Behaviors arising from these perspectives are usually not malicious, and many new users who lack an intuitive grasp of Wikipedia customs are gradually brought around once the logic behind them becomes more clear.
Good faith and copyright
- Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Copyrights
When dealing with possible copyright violations, good faith means assuming that contributors intend to comply with site policy and the law. That is different from assuming they have actually complied with either. Contributors have a proactive obligation to document image uploads, etc. and material may be deleted if the documentation is incorrect or inadequate. Good faith corrective action includes informing contributors of problems and helping them improve their practices.
Demonstrate good faith
In addition to assuming good faith, encourage others to assume good faith by demonstrating your own good faith. You can do this by articulating your honest motives and by making edits that show your willingness to compromise, interest in improving Wikipedia, adherence to policies and guidelines, belief in the veracity of your edits, avoidance of gaming the system, and other good-faith behavior. Showing good faith is not required, but it aids smooth and successful interactions with contributors.
Dealing with bad faith
Even if bad faith is evident, do not act uncivilly yourself in return, attack others, or lose your cool over it. It is ultimately much easier for others to resolve a dispute and see who is breaching policies, if one side is clearly acting appropriately throughout.
FamilySearch Wiki administrators and other experienced contributors involved in dispute resolution will usually be glad to help, and are very capable of identifying policy-breaching conduct if their attention is drawn to clear and specific evidence.
Accusing others of bad faith
Making accusations of bad faith can be inflammatory and hence these accusations may not be helpful in a dispute. It can be seen as a personal attack if bad faith motives are alleged without clear evidence that the others' action is actually in bad faith and harassment if done repeatedly. The result is often accusations of bad faith on your part, which tends to create a nasty cycle.
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