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How to Handle Local Issues Before Reporting Them to Staff

Ducksoup September 21, 2016 User blog:Ducksoup

Hola, Wikians!

Confession time: before I was ever a community manager, even I took part in flamewars. The internet is a strange place like that. I actually remember the first flamewar I ever got into. It was on Arcadium.com, all the way back in the mid-1990s, and it was an argument with someone about the game Mortal Kombat II. For the record, I was right and they were wrong!

The internet was a lot different then. Know anything about the wild west? Yeah, it was a lot like that. Not as much structure. Nowadays, on sites like Wikia, you have staff members like me to help make your time online be safe, fun, and productive. That means that when problems arise, you can report them to us. Depending on the issue you bring to us, we may choose to help, point you towards a self-help resource, or tell you that it isn't a situation in which we'll intervene.

We get questions about what we do and don't get involved in sometimes, so here are some general guidelines.

What not to report to staff

Here are times we are much not very likely to get involved in a local issue:

  • When someone hurts your feelings. There will be disagreements on Wikia. Points of contention in canon, perhaps, or a dispute about the direction a wiki should take. As long as no one is using slurs or hate speech, social issues are best handled locally by the admins and users of each individual wiki. Sometimes you’ll get your way, sometimes you won’t, but your community is empowered to manage itself.
  • Admin issues. We like decisionmaking to be as close to the grassroots as possible, and that’s why we rarely intervene in admin/bureaucrat disputes. Decisions about content are made by individual users, decisions about the community are made by admins, decisions about local staff are made by bureaucrats, and decisions about the entire platform are made by Wikia Staff. If you think an admin or bureaucrat is making improper decisions, the first thing you should do is talk it over with the user in question. If that’s not fruitful, you can petition to remove them - start a discussion in a public forum and leave it open for a week so other users can comment and vote. Of course, if it escalates to a situation covered in the "What to report to staff" section, please let us know.
  • Edit warring. Message Walls (and talk pages) are great resources for discussing edits, reversions, and rollbacks. Use them early and often. You might even make some new friends!

What to report to staff

Here are some issues that we definitely think you should report to us:

  • Threats. First let's clear up some concern: if someone on the internet threatens real-life consequences, they are probably trolling you. Unless you have overshared your personal information on Wikia (and here are some tips on how to stay safe online), the user is almost certainly just trying to get a rise out of you. That said? We’d rather be safe than sorry. Threats are something we block people over.
  • Self-harm. We take threats of suicide and self-harm very seriously. Even an offhand comment can be someone’s cry for help. Contact us immediately if you see this on Wikia.
  • Content that violates Wikia’s Terms of Use. Quoting the terms directly: you can’t post anything to Wikia that is “obscene, pornographic, abusive, offensive, profane, or otherwise violates any law or right of any third party, or content that contains homophobia, ethnic slurs, religious intolerance, or encourages criminal conduct”. That’s a lot of words to generally say: keep it clothed and keep it clean.
  • Spam. Like any large website, Wikia is sometimes a target for spammers. “Dating” websites are the most common, but I’ve seen spam for plastics manufacturers before. We have a team of volunteers dedicated to nuking spammers, so you can leave them a message or simply contact us.
  • Disruptive sockpuppets. We won’t always take action on users who are only sockpuppeting locally, but you can always feel free to let us know. We’ll look at the situation and make a judgment call.

How to report to staff

By far the best way to get in touch with a staff is to use Special:Contact. When you send us a message, be as detailed as possible and include relevant links so we have context for your request. We answer every email we get, almost always within 24 hours on business days.

You can also leave us a message on our message walls here in Community Central, though we’d prefer Special:Contact. We like to (privately) track and analyze the volume of requests we receive, and that’s easier when you use Special:Contact.

And in a real emergency - I’m talking blood and/or nuclear weapons - you can pop into Community Central Chat and ask one of the chat admins to get in touch with us. They have a direct line to staff. Again, though: don’t do this unless it’s something that you’d wake your grandmother up at 2am to tell her.

How do you handle issues on your wiki? What do you think should also be reported or not reported to staff? Tell us in the comments!

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