Wikipedia:Wrongful consensus

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Consensus is vital to the development of Wikipedia. Creating a wrongful consensus or wrongfully preventing consensus, therefore, harms Wikipedia.


Wrongful editing or wrongful behavior by an editor sometimes results in consensus being nonexistent, wrongfully slanted, or wrongfully negated (e.g., discussion wrongfully made to appear as producing no consensus) by the wrongful prevention or termination of participation by another editor (such as through wrongful incivility) or by wrongfully stacking or overloading consensus toward one view or against another view (such as through wrongful puppetry). Wrongfulness is due to a policy or guideline being violated. Timing is irrelevant in that a consensus may have been wrongfully prevented, wrongful at inception, or, after a consensus compliant with all policies and guidelines was already present or being developed, be wrongfully slanted or wrongfully negated. Slanting is pro or con to any degree and regardless of by whom determined or if still being or to be determined. Consensus at any level might be wrongful (this applies to consensus at article level, consensus at policy level, and so on).


Hypothetical examples are legion and one must hesitate to detail a method of wrongfulness that someone of ill faith may not earlier have thought to apply. With each of these, consider it as applied to the prevention of consensus or the development of consensus.

  • Deciding that an article should be composed only of original research, thus violating a policy
  • Personal attacks by partisans of one view, which may drive people of an opposing view away, so they won't be counted in a consensus
  • Falsely charging misrepresentation of a source so as to send an editor to check it again, when the editor making the charge knows the charge is false or only speculative and which may cost weeks for source retrieval
  • Refusing to allow edits unless approved by one or a few editors acting as owners, several editors agreeing on the refusal, regardless of the quality of the offered edits
  • Declaring an article complete and refusing to allow new information, against the editing policy
  • Claiming a policy is unenforceable and refusing to enforce it
  • Assuming bad faith by interpreting almost every action by an editor as if evilly intended, forcing long detailed replies or driving them away
  • Sockpuppets agreeing with one view and superficially agreeing on their reasons so that rebutting the reasons is futile despite sourcing and logic
  • Building an off-wiki consensus and then returning to Wikipedia with a completed so-called "consensus"

Labeling the problem[edit]

To redress this problem, we may need to communicate about it. To do so with efficiency, we need a label for it that distinguishes the problematic case from those where the consensus is against our view but not wrongfully so, where there is no consensus because no one offers to start or contribute to one, or where consensus is correctly ignored, overruled, or irrelevant (for example, article consensus may be irrelevant when posed against guideline consensus). The problematic case may be due to misbehavior or editing, such as editing or refactoring another editor's talk post. The problematic case may result from one wrongful action or from a series of acts that taken together constitute a violation, just as each of four identical edits in a day may be allowed by policy though each is reverted but the four taken as a whole may violate the 3RR limit. This arrival at a label is not to change the policy generally favoring consensus but rather to ease communication by labeling the problematic case.

Wrongful consensus defined[edit]

A wrongful consensus is a consensus or potential consensus which has been wrongfully disrupted by an editor or editors, either directly and explicitly or by behaving or editing so as to result in consensus being wrongful.

Disrupting of consensus or potential consensus is wrongful when it is nontrivially in violation of a policy or guideline. Wrongful disruption may be by a single act or omission that is wrongful or by a set of actions and omissions that is collectively wrongful, so that it is possible that every single act may have been not wrongful but the set of actions and omissions taken together may be wrongful. The acts of many editors may be permitted for each editor while the acts of just two of the editors, because they are considered together, may be in violation. That all policies and guidelines were partly complied with generally does not mitigate or excuse wrongfulness otherwise occurring.

On the other hand, the mere fact that one view is favored over another, there is no consensus, no one makes an effort to start or contribute to a consensus if no one has been even slightly discouraged from doing so, someone draws a conclusion regarding a consensus or lack thereof and acts on that conclusion, or the consensus is ignored, overruled, or irrelevant because of a policy or guideline does not, by itself, mean that a consensus is wrongful.

A false consensus is distinguished from a wrongful consensus in that a false consensus is contrary to ArbCom decisions whereas a wrongful consensus is due to violation of any policy or guideline, even when no ArbCom decision applies.

See also[edit]