Wikipedia:CanvassingThis page documents an English Wikipedia behavioral guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should follow, though it should be treated with common senseand the occasional exception. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page. Shortcuts:
WP:CANVASS This page in a nutshell: To avoid disrupting the consensus building process on Wikipedia, editors should keep the number of notifications small, keep the message text neutral, not preselect recipients according to their established opinions. For external advertising in article space, see Wikipedia:Spam.
- 1 Friendly notices
- 2 Inappropriate canvassing
- 3 If you intend to canvass
- 4 Responding to disruptive canvassing
- 5 Notes and references
- 6 See also
Canvassing is sending messages to multiple Wikipedians with the intent to inform them about a community discussion. Under certain conditions it is acceptable to notify other editors of ongoing discussions, but messages that are written to influence the outcome rather than to improve the quality of a discussion compromise the consensus building process and are generally considered disruptive. This guideline explains how to notify editors without engaging in disruptive canvassing.
The following table illustrates under which circumstances notifications are considered acceptable and appropriate ("friendly notices") or unacceptable ("inappropriate canvassing").Scale Message Audience Transparency Friendly noticeLimited posting AND Neutral AND Nonpartisan AND Open ↕ ↕ ↕ ↕ Disruptive canvassing Mass posting OR Biased OR Partisan OR Secret Term Excessive cross-posting Campaigning Votestacking Stealth canvassing
Neutrally worded notifications sent to a small number of editors are considered "friendly notices" if they are intended to improve rather than to influence a discussion (while keeping in mind excessive cross-posting below). For example, to editors who have substantively edited or discussed an article related to the discussion; or perhaps to a Wikipedian known for being an expert in a related field and has shown interest in participating in related discussions.
Remember to always keep the message neutral, and leave a note at the discussion itself that you sent out such friendly notices. This is more acceptable if they have made an unsolicited request to be kept informed, but unacceptable if they have asked you to stop. Editors who like to be informed about Wikipedia discussions may add a notice of some kind to their userpage (such as the "Friendly notice" userbox).
Editors who may wish to draw a wider range of informed, but uninvolved, editors to a discussion, might also place such neutrally-worded notices on the talk pages of a WikiProject, the Village pump, or perhaps some other related talk page, while still only, or in lieu of, posting a limited number of friendly notices to individual editors.
Important discussions sometimes happen at remote locations in Wikipedia, so editors might be tempted to publicize this discussion by mass-mailing other Wikipedians. Even if the goal is not to influence the outcome of the debate, indiscriminately sending announcements to uninvolved editors is considered "talk-page spamming" (or e-mail spamming) and therefore disruptive.
Campaigning is an attempt to sway the person reading the message, through the use of non-neutral tone, wording, or intent. While this may be appropriate as part of an individual discussion, it is inappropriate to canvass with such messages.
Votestacking is an attempt to sway consensus by selectively notifying editors who have or are thought to have a predetermined point of view or opinion (which may be determined, among other ways, from a userpage notice, such as a userbox, or from user categorization), and thus encouraging them to participate in the discussion.
In the case of a re-consideration of a previous debate (such as a "no consensus" result on an AFD or CFD), it is similarly frowned-upon by many editors to send mass talk messages to those who expressed only a particular viewpoint on the previous debate, such as only "Keep" voters or only "Delete" voters.
Some Wikipedians have suggested that informing editors on all "sides" of a debate (e.g., everyone who participated in a previous deletion debate on a given subject) may be acceptable.
Because it is less transparent than on-wiki notifications, the use of email or other off-wiki communication to notify editors is discouraged unless there is a significant reason for not using talk page notifications. Depending on the specific circumstances, sending a notification to a group of editors by email may be looked at more negatively than sending the same message to the same group of people on their talk pages.
The term "forum shopping", or "asking the other parent", refers to repeatedly asking for additional outside opinions until you get an opinion you like. For instance, if you're blocked you can ask for an outside review of said block; if this review concludes that the block was proper, it is generally inappropriate to repeatedly continue to ask for yet another outside review.
This also includes bringing up the same issue on a number of forums in succession (e.g. the village pump, RFC, admin board, deletion discussions, etc.) because the debate on the first forum did not yield the result you wanted.
If you intend to canvass
The following guidelines for cross-posting "friendly notices" have wide acceptance among Wikipedians:
- Be open. Do not make cross-posts that initially appear to be individual messages.
- Be polite. Wikiquette issues are extra-important when a message is likely to be read by many people.
- Avoid redundancy. Rather than copying the same five-page essay to twenty talk pages, write it once, in the place where it is most relevant, and then link to it.
- Do not use a bot. If you're not willing to spend the time personally sending the messages, don't force us to spend the time reading it (or throwing it away). Also note that running bots without authorization is almost guaranteed to get both your account and the bot account blocked.
There are often better alternatives to canvassing. For example, suppose you've written a new article, and you want people to see it. Simply add links to it from other encyclopedia articles, where it is relevant, and also add it to appropriate categories. This increases the exposure of your article, while simultaneously benefiting the encyclopedia, without the need to directly inform your fellow contributors.
Responding to disruptive canvassing
The most effective response to quite recent, clearly disruptive canvassing is to politely request that the user(s) responsible for the canvassing stop posting notices, and to block the user(s) only if they continue, to prevent them from posting further notices. The greater the number of editors contacted, the more often this behavior is engaged in, and the greater the resulting disruption, the more likely it is that this behavior will result in warnings and/or sanctions.
Users with a prior history of disruptive canvassing, which they have previously been asked to discontinue, may be blocked immediately without further warning, if such an action is deemed to be necessary.
The use of rollback to remove notices from user talk pages is not recommended, as the recipients will read the notices anyway, and will post a large number of complaints on your talk page.
Notes and references
- ^ Any kind of solicitation may meet this definition, including, for example, a custom signature to automatically append some promotional message to every signed post.
- ^ On at least one occasion, a provocative attempt to stack an ongoing poll by cross-posting has contributed towards an Arbitration Committee ruling of disruptive behavior that resulted in probation and eventual banning by the community. An arbitrator clarified the position: "Briefly, I think a reasonable amount of communication about issues is fine. Aggressive propaganda campaigns are not. The difference lies in the disruption involved. If what is happening is getting everyone upset then it is a problem. Often the dividing line is crossed when you are contacting a number of people who do not ordinarily edit the disputed article." See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Guanaco, MarkSweep, et al#StrangerInParadise is disruptive.
- ^ The Arbitration Committee has ruled that "[t]he occasional light use of cross-posting to talk pages is part of Wikipedia's common practice. However, excessive cross-posting goes against current Wikipedia community norms. In a broader context, it is unwiki." See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/IZAK#Principles.
- Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines
- Wikipedia:Sockpuppets section on meatpuppets
- Wikipedia:Survey notification (inactive)
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