User:Sonia/Ignoring "Ignore All Rules"

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Ignore all rules is a policy on Wikipedia. It is a policy that many people forget or do not agree with, but it is a very important policy.

In a way, the fact that IAR exists makes the other rules less important. It is a Catch-22 to a place that we have set up to be very orderly and organized.

Wikipedia is of course an encyclopedia. When we are focusing on writing articles, rules work very well to tell us how to write, what style to use, what things are needed for a good article. But behind that encyclopedia is a community. People are living, not like articles, we are difficult to understand and judge. Because of this, rules do not work so well when we are dealing with people. If there is a problem with an article (for example, if it does not have reliable sources), the rules tell us that is not a good article. It is true in all cases that an article with no reliable sources is not a good article. But we cannot say that a person who does not always follow rules like assuming good faith is not a good person. Sometimes there are good reasons for a person to ignore those rules.

What happens if we ignore IAR?[change | edit source]

Rules are necessary or Wikipedia would not survive. The problem is when users, especially newer users, get the idea that the rules are the most important thing. If we always follow the policy exactly, it is unfair to new users who do not know any of the policies. They should be taught the way things work starting with the most important things. If the first thing they see is a message that "you have broken this rule by doing this", they may not come back. If they stay, they may also get the wrong idea that everyone who does a certain thing is bad because they have broken a certain rule, when the rule may not even apply in that case.

Holding too closely to the rules is also a problem for experienced users. They have been around for long enough to understand what the rules were meant for. If what they are doing helps the encyclopedia, they should be allowed to ignore a rule.

It is the spirit of the rules that counts. In the end, all the rules are there to help the encyclopedia. So if a particular action helps the encyclopedia, leave it be. Warning a user for doing something helpful will only confuse them and everyone else, and it will also encourage us to make even more rules. This will make things harder for everyone.

The rules we have cannot ever cover everything that could possibly happen. If something happens that we do not have a rule for, what are we supposed to do? If IAR is not applied and respected, anything that happens then will be pointless.

Alphabet soup[change | edit source]

Alphabet soup is another way to describe what happens when users use the short form of the rules instead of explaining what is actually wrong. Alphabet soup is confusing to new users.

Another problem with alphabet soup is that often the rule that is linked does not actually say what is meant. For example, if someone says something nasty to me and I say that it is breaking NLT and OUTING, I am wrong. It is not nice of them to say it, but it is not a legal threat, nor is it something that will damage my life off Wikipedia. By linking to these rules, I am making the problem bigger than it sounds. It is also more easy for the other user to get angry at me, because I have accused them of something they did not do. This also makes it hard for anyone else to help solve the problem.

When we overuse alphabet soup, sometimes the meaning of the rule changes from what is actually written. This is also a problem because new users who read the rule will not understand why we say it means something else altogether. New users do not have enough experience or "clue" to understand what we mean, and they have to go by what is written down. We must remember only to cite rules where they actually apply, so that they do not lose their importance and meaning. Throwing them around will only make them less valid. For example, WP:COI is a guideline. If we remember that it stands for "conflict of interest", but not what the page actually says, we may get the wrong idea. All of us have some kind of conflict of interest with many articles. If a user edits the article on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the fact that they live in Paraguay does not mean they are breaking a rule. If I play the piano, that actually helps me to write the article Piano, and does not hurt. Reading the actual page tells us that the rule on COI only applies when a user thinks that that thing is more important than following Wikipedia's rules.

Another thing that is important to remember is that there is a difference between policies and guidelines. Also, we must pay careful attention to where rules apply. WP:NPOV only applies to articles. If another user says that they believe something, as long as that idea is not put into articles it is not breaking the rule.

To avoid alphabet soup, we should always read the actual page and decide if that is what we are trying to say.

Listening to the community[change | edit source]

More important than following each rule to the letter is listening to the community. If many editors tell you to stop doing something, it is best to stop doing it even if the rules do not say so. If something you are doing does not quite follow the exact words of the rule, but you are absolutely sure that it is something the other users would agree to, then go ahead and do it. Wikipedia is made of all of us, not of rules which are not alive. Respecting the community's wishes is more important than respecting the rules at all times- after all, this is a wiki and the rules can change if we want them to change.

It always comes down to this: Before you hit "save page", think about the change you made. Does it help the encyclopedia? If so, then go ahead. If not, leave it be. If everyone remembered this one rule it would save us a lot of trouble.

That is all the other rules are trying to say.