This is an essay on the conduct policy.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: If you don't have time to do an action properly, don't. If it must be done and there's nobody else to do it, that's a failure of the system to provide sufficient resources. So, fail safe -- do the least destructive action.|
This page is mainly (not only) directed to admins. Everybody understands that the admin corps is understaffed and busy. For many actions there just isn't the time to do it right. When that happens, the system has failed, in that particular instance -- failed to provide resources (time, usually) to do the thing properly.
In engineering, a fail-safe is a practice that, in the event of a specific type of failure, inherently responds in a way that will cause least harm to the system or to people. Fail-safe doesn't make a failure less likely, it makes it such that if (or when) the system does fail, destructive consequences are prevented or or mitigated.
So, if an action is called for, and you don't have to time to analyze the situation to a proper degrees, then fail safe:
- Don't do the action. Let someone with more time or patience handle it.
- If an action must be done, then fail safe:
- Don't delete the article. Close as or "no action, insufficient resources to properly adjudicate the request". Or stick to "no consensus" if you'd rather (meaning "No consensus that can be properly dermined"). Don't close the WP:RFC, the WP:RM, the WP:ANI thread. Those you can leave to someone else. There's no hurry.
- Don't block the editor. Don't make the snarky remark. Don't cut short the WP:ANI plaintiff's day in court. Again: this is when you don't have time to analyze the situation properly.
- Occasionally a positive action is the safe failure: Do remove the possible WP:BLP violation (it's hard to undamage a person's reputation or feelings; it can be discussed at leisure later). Do delete an egregiously unacceptable image (it's hard for readers to unsee something) pending deeper discussion. And so forth. But this is not common.
These actions can be undone fairly easily. Articles are easy to delete, hard to make; they can always be deleted later. Editors easy to alienate, hard to recruit and train; they can always be blocked later.
Again, we get that admins are super busy, and of course we appreciate their difficult and vexing (and unpaid) service, but the last thing we want is the hasty, ill-considered actions that this unfortunate understaffing situation might (seem to) require to become a habit and then to become seen as a positive good. It's human nature to make a virtue of a necessity. Let's fight that. Let's not let fail-deadly become a paradigm.