Wikipedia:The Last Word

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Getting in the last word is advantageous.

In Wikipedia, even more than in real life, getting The Last Word in a debate is crucial, as it is the only proof of your argumentative success over competing editors. The following is a useful collection of suggestions on why and how to obtain your right to have the Last Word, however tenaciously your opponent may be trying to rob you of your privilege.

Reasons for getting the last word[edit]

Nelson's last word: 'It's an mdash, Hardy.' Wikiquote has a selection of famous last words you can use. (The strategy is to expire after the utterance.)

Getting the last word means that you win the debate. It also shows your moral superiority. This should convince your opponent that you are correct, and will certainly impress your fellow Wikipedians.

It is particularly important to get the last word where you are in some doubts as to the merits of your case. The last word will serve as a clinching argument that will make up for any deficiencies in your logic. Achieving the last word now also brings the advantage that you may subsequently point to your success in this debate as the clinching argument in future debates. However, if you did not win the last discussion, we still recommend claiming incessantly that you did.

How to get the last word[edit]

The sucker wasted all reserves in the first rounds. Time for the final blow Last Word.

We recommend the following tried and tested tactics to aid you in taking what is rightfully yours.

Often, your opponent will not understand the importance of the last word (abr. TLW™) and will readily concede the ground to you (in which case it's nevertheless mandatory to rub it in their face on all relevant talk pages). However, sometimes your opponent is well aware of this Wikipedian convention and will attempt to wrongfully deprive you of your right. Do not give ground to such intimidation. Pursue your case with fortitude and vigour. If your actual arguments have already been stated on the page, do not fear to repeat them in a slightly different form. CAPITALISING YOUR ARGUMENT, or bolding sections, can be used to give variety if you fear you are being repetitive.

Debates are like boxing matches. Try to make your opponent do the footwork so they get exhausted while you preserve your energy for the final blow Last Word. If they bring any arguments you cannot immediately refute, play dumb and ask for clarification, it helps wear off the adversary's patience. Ask for more sources and better sources (ideally in that order). If they insolently keep providing answers, arbitrarily stop replying for a while. Better yet, point out that their answer dodges the real question, which is something tangentially (if at all) related to your original point. Be sure to post on their user talk page, so they have additional opportunities for frustration thoughtful response. You can conserve your own energy by posting one question on the article talk page, posting a second question on their user talk page, then posting that second question on the article talk page and the first question on the user talk page.

Harold foolishly conceded the last word to William.

Elegance is relative. Cheat, if you think you can get away with it. Call in your friends uninvolved users to keep the other party busy and distract from the original debate. Exploit the headstart you have over impudent newbies. Most of them walk into debates like knifers into a gunfight: Easy prey.

Muriel got TLW™, by outliving all the members of her Wikiproject.

In the last resort, it is very advisable to use warning templates as early as possible (go there now and pick one or three) and to cite any convenient policies that you think will be useful to your cause. (Vandalism templates are usually the best). After all, one template says more than a thousand words, and it's an elegant way to get the last word in case the other bastard user just won't concede the ground.

NB: If your opponent attempts to seize the last word for themselves, be careful to point out the folly of this strategy, perhaps citing this project page. Alternatively, state that since your opponent loves to get the last word, you will graciously cede it to them. These clever techniques allow you to simultaneously regain the last word for yourself while making any sort of reply from your opponent seem in bad faith.

Other complementary tactics[edit]

A senior Wikipedian loses TLW™ to a promising upstart.

The following are practical enhancements to all TLW™ strategies:

  • Remind the little shits your opponents that they should abide by Wikipedia:Assume good faith and Wikipedia:No personal attacks. If you are, why shouldn't they?
  • Liberally employ vandalism accusations. It is at least theoretically possible that their edits are vandalism, so there is no reason not to raise this concern.
  • If the "arguments" of the other side are being agreed to by one or more people, chances are you're dealing with sockpuppets, so make sure to appropriately demand proof of innocence.
  • Noticeboard reports are strongly recommended but carry the great risk of being overlooked or not yielding a useful response (beware of the bad admins™). You may want to distribute the risk by posting to several noticeboards at once, including but by no means limited to Wikipedia:Wikiquette assistance, Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard, and of course the chronically underused ANI, as well as all specific pages applicable in the given situation.
  • Block the jerk or get them blocked by one of the good admins™, and protect their talk page – then post your comment.
  • Don't forget to bring up Jimbo. After all, he's the principal authority and mentioning him will give you an edge. Maybe excluding debates with Jimbo himself, but even then, it's still worth a try.
  • Indicate that you are "Unwatching" the page after your final last word (well, technically this tactic makes the word Unwatching the de facto last word). That way the other editor will know that it's futile to add additional comments after your last word. The best thing about this tactic is you don't have to actually Unwatch the page. You can still monitor the page to see if there are any more attempts to usurp your position as the one with the last word, in which case you can continue to do battle and say you "just happened to be walking by".
  • It's worth noting there is a useful countertactic to someone claiming they are Unwatching a page in order to get the last word. What you do is put the {{dubious}} tag right after their "Unwatching" comment. They won't be able to object to you doing that, because they are purportedly not watching the page any more. Even if they use the "I just happened to be walking by[dubious ]" excuse, they will have to admit you got under their skin, which is a victory in itself, and you will then be free to add your own last word.
  • Delete any other editors' comments which follow your last word. Technically this is a violation of the Editing Others' Comments Policy, but you can get away with it if you claim the other editor was not merely being uncivil but was actually engaged in Trolling or even Vandalism, which are exceptions to the Editing Other's Comments Policy under a different policy, i.e., the Removing Uncivil Comments Policy.

NB: any attempt by them to deprive you of TLW™ is quite obviously uncivil, possibly JUST TROLLING and certainly a UNILATERAL VIOLATION of Wikipedia:Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. RESIST it at ALL costs.

See also[edit]