Wikipedia:Mark of Cain

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And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

Wikipedia has a well-honed system of warnings to users who make poor judgments, do bad things or just generally get up people's noses.

Liberally, we spread these around talk pages and feel better for having slapped the user in question down a peg or two.

Then the user blanks the warning from their talk page. A slap back!

The natural, human, reaction is to restore the warning. Put it back and make sure it sticks. Everyone must know about the user's crime!

We did once work this way. But a number of problems became apparent.

  1. There's actually no policy saying warnings have to remain.
  2. Any editor can make a mistake and want to cover it over (you can't cover it up, it's a wiki, where all edits are recorded for ever and ever anyway) before going on to be a good editor, admin, bureaucrat, spokesman for the Foundation, Jimbo 2.0, etc.
  3. Everybody makes mistakes. We're all human here. Some of these mistakes are howlers that will reverberate through Wikipedia for generations. But they're just mistakes – there is no Wikipedia rule, guideline or even a slight hint anywhere that requires perfection from our editors.
  4. We don't punish people here; we just attempt to correct errors in the easiest way available and eventually, sometimes, take action to protect Wikipedia that others see as punishment but actually isn't.
  5. By keeping warnings in place, editors want admins to see them, because admins, having been here ages and having been put through the seven days of microscopic examination that is WP:RfA to get the job are all obviously too stupid to use the "history" button on a strangely blank talk page.

So when you next tag someone with a nice shiny template, or offer them advice, or welcome them, or anything else, and they respond by blanking your offering, smile because they've obviously read it... and move on.

We don't require them to be marked for life as the evildoer they clearly are, nor do we require the ground to be barren beneath them and for them to be a restless wanderer on the 'pedia forever.

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