Wikipedia:Don't spite your face

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Don't do it!

Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

— proverb


Applied to Wikipedia: When faced with enforcing a solution that will predictably escalate the evident problem beyond present levels, back off and seek other, less inflammatory actions to go about solving it.

Extrapolated: Even when acting in good faith, consider the gravity of the response that will result from your actions.

Wikipedians are frequently faced with high-stress situations, often between individuals or parties that have strong convictions and a sense of responsibility towards Wikipedia's content and community. Often many Wikipedians also feel a need to control these situations, or correct what they believe are other people's mistakes. While these may be core Wikipedian values, attempting to control or fix a problem may cause the Wikipedian much more trouble than it will the problem instigator if the situation isn't carefully considered first. In effect, the Wikipedian would appear to be—from the point of view of an outside observer—inadvertently cutting (or biting) off their nose, in order to fulfill the wishes of the face.

Don't look for trouble[edit]

No matter how noble a Wikipedian's intentions, boldly searching for new manifestations of trouble will attract additional troubles to the Wikipedian themselves, thus causing additional stress and possibly instigating new problems. It appears that the users benefiting Wikipedia outnumber the present wrong-doers, and thus a process where each Wikipedian user handles each problem only as it comes to them would logically help clean up Wikipedia rather effectively.

Keep a low profile[edit]

It is a simple fact that being high-profile attracts attention, and generally not a good sort of attention. When being high-profile cannot be avoided, a low-profile demeanor can be adopted to minimize negative attention as much as possible.

Give up[edit]

Giving up is beneficial for at least two reasons.

  • The amount of effort used in fighting can often be used much more effectively in projects that benefit Wikipedia directly. Consider prioritizing responsibilities.
  • Wikipedia is not perfect. Wikipedia can only be as peaceful and orderly as the world it is based in, so it is unrealistic to believe that all of its problems can be solved neatly, when this is not at all the way of the real world.


This suggested method is generally most applicable to an average Wiki user, and each user can apply it as they wish to various degrees. It is intended to encourage users to think about their actions and assist them in applying them in the effective way. In some circumstances, with proper experience and a good background on how to handle trouble situations, a certain number of Wikipedians may wish to intentionally face problems with the full intention of shouldering the associated responsibilities. This essay is not intended to undermine the efforts of such users.

See also[edit]