Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers

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Please DO NOT bite the newcomers[change | change source]

  • Newcomers are needed. They are very important to the community. They can add what they know to this Wikipedia. Doing this, they will make this Wikipedia better. This Wikipedia will also include information on more topics, because more people contributed to it. We give confidence to newcomers. With this, we improve the variety of knowledge, opinions and ideals on Wikipedia. A study has found that newcomers make many changes. With their changes, they add most of the content to this Wikipedia. Regular editors (not newcomers) and administrators make many changes as well. But these changes are often done to correct small mistakes, rearrange, and change content so the article reads better.[1]
  • Remember, our motto — and our invitation to the newcomer — is be bold. We have a set of rules, standards and traditions. Some of the newcomers accept the invitation and change things. The rules are there to help us. They must not be used to scare the newcomers. Many newcomers have a lot of experience from somewhere else. They also have ideas and creative energy that may improve our project. These newcomers may not know the rules, though. Some things the newcomer does may seem "wrong", but it may improve Wikipedia. Perhaps some of the rules need to be looked at again. They may no longer be right for this Wikipedia. So, it is important to watch the newcomer for a while. You might need to ask what the newcomer is trying to do, before telling him or her that they are doing something "the wrong way".
  • If you do find out, or feel sure, that a newcomer has made a mistake, try to correct the mistake yourself. Examples for such mistakes are forgetting to put book titles or the names of ships in italics, or failing to make useful links. Do not attack the newcomer. Remember, this is a place where anyone can change. For this reason, it is each person's job to change, and not to criticize or supervise others.
Do not bite the newcomers!
  • Remember that newcomers often do not know that edit histories are saved. So when their changes disappear, they will often panic, start an edit war or leave Wikipedia because they think (wrongly) that hours of work are gone and cannot be brought back again. Please tell the newcomer gently that their work is never lost. It can always be brought back from the history. Teach them that they can discuss things they are not sure of on talk pages, and that, if all else fails, they can always look at the article a few months later, to talk about the article with a new set of editors.
  • If you really feel that you must say anything at all to a newcomer about a mistake, please do so in a way that is helpful. To start with, it's good to say "hello" on their talk page, so that they know they are welcome here. Then, you can calmly explain what you think needs to be changed, and as the user's friend and equal, perhaps also point out things they have done that you like. If you cannot do that, then it may well be better to say nothing.
  • Other newcomers may be hesitant to make changes, especially major ones, such as NPOV-ing and moving, because of the fear of damaging Wikipedia (or of upsetting other Wikipedians or being shouted at.) Teach them to be bold, and do not be annoyed that they are fearful.
  • While it is fine to point a new user, who has made a mistake, towards the relevant policy pages, it is both unfair and unfriendly to suggest that he or she stop taking part in votes, RfD discussions etc. until he or she "gains more experience." This discourages new editors from joining in and may stop Wikipedia from using their skills and knowledge.
  • When giving advice to newcomers, do not make yourself look like a very important person. Make the newcomer feel truly welcome. Do not make the newcomer feel as though he or she must win your approval in order to be allowed to join a special club. Any new place where humans work together on something has its own special rules and ways of doing things, which take time to learn, and which benefit from being checked regularly to see if they still work well or should be changed.
Newcomers' ears can be particularly sensitive.
  • Do not call newcomers unkind names such as "sockpuppet" or "meatpuppet". If a lot of newcomers show up on one side of a vote, you should make them feel welcome while explaining that their votes may be ignored. No name-calling is necessary.
  • Sometimes users forget to use four tildes (~~~~) after talk page posts, which put in their username and the date and time for them automatically. You can make the reminder process a little easier and less annoying by using the following template. You can also use {{unsigned}} to fix those comments without names in the meantime.
  • Assume good faith on the part of the newcomer. He or she most likely wants to help out. Give him or her a chance!
  • Remember Hanlon's Razor. Behaviour that appears nasty and on-purpose to experienced Wikipedians is more likely to be because someone doesn't know what we expect editors to do things. Even if you're 100% sure that someone is a worthless, no-good, internet troll, vandal, or worse, you should behave as if he or she is not. By being calm, interested, and respectful, you come across as a sensible person, and you help our project to continue properly. This follows from not feeding the trolls.
  • Remember that you were once a newcomer too. Like the golden rule says, Treat others kindly and politely, just like you would want to be treated if you had just arrived here.

How to avoid being a "biter"[change | change source]

Newcomers' ideas of how things should work inside Wikipedia will mainly be based on what they are used to doing outside Wikipedia. This site can be very confusing to start with and it may take some time before a newcomer becomes used to "how things work" here. Remembering that may help you avoid becoming a biter.

Also, you are less likely to be accused of being a "biter" by:

  1. Avoiding making comments using words that make arguments worse. (These words could be terrible, dumb, stupid, bad, jerk, idiot and so on.)
  2. Acting in a calm and polite way.
  3. Not being sarcastic in change summaries and on talk pages, especially when changing things back again.
  4. Accepting what another person does or doesn't do in a particular situation, without getting upset with them.
  5. Doing your best to solve arguments, in a way everyone feels is fair.
  6. Listening carefully to what the other person is saying - trying to understand what they want and why.
  7. Avoiding jargon. When pointing someone to a policy or set of guidelines, use its whole name, to help them find it easily.
  8. Avoiding using bans the first time someone gets something wrong. Try talking to a user before you ban him or her.


Try to be a fair member of the Wikipedia community. By being friendly and polite, you will not annoy other people or become annoyed easily. This will allow newcomers to use their time, skills and knowledge to help to make an encyclopedia that everyone wants to improve.

What to do if you feel you have "bitten" or have been bitten[change | change source]

If you have bitten someone, or feel that you have been bitten, think about the following points. They could help make sure that it does not happen again.

  1. Choose to learn from what happened.
  2. Consider what you could have done instead of biting to get a better reaction. If you experience a situation like that in the future, do not bite again. Choose a better way.
  3. Find something of value in the experience.
  4. Be reasonable. Explain why you were hurt or angry. However, you must learn to recognize when the message cannot be received. The person who receives it may be unable or unwilling to admit that he or she is wrong. It may be better to simply stop thinking and remembering about the bite.

References[change | change source]