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Some editors are blocked or banned, sometimes indefinitely, due to their own disruptive behaviour or other reasons. Others may retire from the project, either explicitly by declaring themselves retired, or implicitly by simply discontinuing their editing. These editors may have edited Wikipedia only for a short time and simply engaged in vandalism, or they may have made a significant, valuable contribution to the project.
In certain circumstances there may be bad feeling amongst other editors against the blocked, banned or retired editor, possibly caused by perceived disruptive editing behaviour on their part. At its most extreme, this antipathy manifests itself as vandalism of the blocked/banned/retired editor's user and talk page in the user space, and personal attacks against them in discussions about the blocked/banned/retired user. This phenomenon is commonly referred to on Wikipedia as "gravedancing", and can be a form of disruptive editing.
In other circumstances, the perceived disruptive and untrustworthy behaviour of the blocked/banned/retired editor may bring suspicion on their previous contributions to the project. This suspicion may be justifiable, particularly where the editor in question has been involved in copyright violations or other undesirable editing behaviour related to content. However, particularly where the editor may have been blocked or banned following disruptive behaviour unrelated to article-space content (e.g., sock-puppeting on RFCs), suspicion about the quality of their work may be no more justified than towards that of any other editor.
The basis of this is the idea that the blocked/banned/retired editor owns the content they created, and that this content was invalidated at the same time they were blocked, banned or decided to retire. This is incorrect, since the editor may originally have meant very well, and done good work, before they eventually flamed out.
Examples of gravedancing
Examples of gravedancing may include:
- Insults/accusations/other behavior directed at editors who are now blocked or banned. This is motivated by the idea that the editor in question won't be able to respond to the comment. This is wrong even if the editor in question never sees it because it contributes to a negative environment that is less likely to encourage editors to work together.
- Behaving as though a consensus is no longer valid simply because a blocked or banned editor contributed to it. Whilst consensus can change, the simple act of blocking does not change it - if you wish to overturn the previous consensus then further input should be sought.
- Nominating articles for deletion based solely on a blocked/banned/retired editor being the one who started them or contributed to them.
- Going through the editor's edits and undoing them without justification in Wikipedia's policies.
- Adding templates or categories to user pages of editors temporarily blocked (Special:BlockList already provides a way to list all blocked users).
What isn't gravedancing
The following are examples of what may not be gravedancing:
- Removing policy-violating content from a blocked or banned editor's userpage.
- Checking the edits of a user who was blocked or banned for, or who was later discovered to have been engaged in, disruptive editing related to content in article space, and undoing/deleting those that fail to meet Wikipedia policy.
- Going through the pages created by an editor who was blocked or banned for, or who was later discovered to have been engaged in, disruptive editing related to content in article space and improving their articles to meet Wikipedia standards and policies. Where this is not possible they may still of course be nominated for deletion.
- Going through and undoing the edits of a user who was determined to have been a ban-evading sockpuppet at the time when the edits were made, per WP:BLOCKEVADE.
- Describing factually, solely for the information of other editors, disruptive activities that resulted in a ban/block or preceded retirement under a cloud.