wikiHow:Forum Dialogue Expectations


The wikiHow forums are the place for discussion of ideas, for sharing information and for supporting one another. Unfortunately, the forums can easily descend into being a less supportive place when confrontation, disrespect and misunderstandings take hold, causing contributors to feel upset or angered when they feel personally embroiled in a thread affected by these aspects.

Whilst we respect the need for people to speak their minds on important matters, and we fully understand that at times the occasion gets the better of us, the real test of a strong community and a resilient wikiHow is in promoting respectful forum interactions and in setting high expectations for forum usage. The following section outlines these expectations, in the hope that both the individual contributor and the community as a whole will find their experiences in the forums a pleasant, confidence-building and useful place to be.

EditSome Basic Protocols

Choose descriptive forum titles. The forums have more information than most people can read. To maximize the odds that the right people read your forum posts please label them appropriately. Good titles help everyone understand exactly what will be discussed.

Good Example Titles

  • Project: Improving inaccurate articles
  • Contest: Write the best new auto repair article
  • Policy Change Suggestion: Deletion Policy

Bad Example Titles

  • Do you like this idea?
  • Important Project! Read this!!!!
  • Enter this contest

Don't insert new topics into an existing thread If the forum title is "Project:Improving inaccurate articles" and in that thread you start talking about an idea for a new policy or other slightly different topic, start a new thread with a more accurate title. Then interlink the threads together so people can follow along.

EditForum Dialogue Expectations

On respect: Forum dialogue must be respectful of personal opinions and beliefs. It should be undertaken in the spirit of good faith and without any element of undermining, self-aggrandizement or blame setting.

On freedom of expression and speech: We are free to think what we want. We are free to express ourselves also. But we have a responsibility to balance this freedom with responsibility towards one another and to use speech carefully, wisely and in the spirit of friendship and furthering knowledge, not our own agendas.

On debate: Debate is healthy but only to a point. Debate is meant to be the civil exchange of ideas and opinions. Whether or not the ideas and opinions converge, diverge or merge and then demerge is neither here nor there; it is how the discussion proceeds that matters. A successful debate permits all to speak and be heard and, in turn, has all participants listening respectfully. Rejoinders should be civil, comprehensible and free of personal attacks or innuendos. Passion is to be expected in debate but it is not an excuse for having an online tantrum, whining, shouting or belittling others; that is not passion, that is losing self-control.

On persuading: Want to make others see your point of view? Write it clearly and succinctly. Respond promptly and civilly to inquiries and replies to your point of view. And set an example to others by how you handle it. You are seeking to persuade, not lambast, offer bombast, belittle or yell at others. Persuasion means educating, elucidating, clarifying and also being flexible. The latter means, be ready to change a part, a half or even all of your stance when another persuades you as well as you have sought to persuade. Accept such change of position with grace; it becomes you well and sets a standard by which others know that you are truly willing to listen and learn.

On provoking: Being condescending, inflammatory, overly clever, persistent and bombastic might flow in writing with ease but does not score points in connecting with others and generates adversity. If everyone runs for cover when you arrive with your jibes, it's time for reconsideration and time to inject a little love, humor and sensitivity into the way that you approach persuasion. If you provoke, you will indeed get responses but this will not be the type of constructive interchange we wish to see here in our friendly and caring community.

EditThings to Consider Before Responding

Before you answer, consider these things:

  • Are you being respectful? - respect the right of others to express their wants, needs and interests; respect the differences and respect each other.
  • Are you being civil? - use language that supports, clarifies and acknowledges; do not resort to innuendos, name-picking or shouting.
  • Take your time; the answer may be quite different in the morning
  • Be thoughtful - think about how you make your point of view
  • Be mindful - think about the impact of what you say on others' feelings
  • Be timely - do not leave an issue hanging in the air; if you need more time, simply say so
  • Be open - the internet makes anonymity awfully easy. Question why it also makes you want to turn tiger and unleash frustrations and address those reasons in the right forum, not the public forums.
  • Be responsible - react to situations with your sensible mind and good heart and not your ego. It is okay to tell others something has hurt your feelings but it is also responsible to accept when your own actions have caused others pain. Resorting to ultimatums is rarely a solution either; choose to be conciliatory before being dramatic.
  • Be humble - every person is as great as the other; reflect this in all that you do and say. Praise others frequently; praise always rebounds magnified.
  • Look to yourself - ultimately, what you say says more about you than the persons to whom it is directed. Keep this in mind when you speak.
  • Seek understanding - put yourselves in the shoes of others and you will begin to understand both their point of view, the essence of the topic at hand and ultimately yourself far better than you ever thought possible.

EditStick This to Your Computer

  • Freedom of expression also requires responsible speech
  • Offer your persuasion, not your derision or condescension
  • Respect the views, feelings, and thoughts of others and respect yourself
  • Understand the motivations and needs of both your own reactions and those of others
  • Meet others halfway and be flexible when needed
  • Sleep on it if you feel really tense; it's okay to tell others you need more time

Article Info

Categories: WikiHow Essays | Using the Forums