Wikipedia:Don't shoot yourself in the foot
|This page in a nutshell: Consider your own actions before bringing attention to the actions of others.|
Wikipedia is free for anyone to edit. Of course, if you've spent any time on the Internet, you'll know this means that people will disagree and argue about stuff. We like everyone to get along and reach a consensus, but sometimes life just doesn't run that smoothly, and people start edit warring, tearing each other's heads off, threatening to call their lawyer, or any number of escalating problems. If people can't work it out amongst themselves, sooner or later, somebody's going to complain.
There are often reports on various noticeboards, especially the incident noticeboard, posted by editors who are truly at fault themselves for the problem they're reporting. In other cases, a person might complain about another editor's actions in an incident, yet during the events of that incident they've committed far worse infractions themselves. In both cases, such editors will usually find sanctions brought against themselves rather than the people they've sought to report.
This is called "shooting yourself in the foot". The behavior of a returning boomerang is similar: if thrown incautiously, it can come back to injure the thrower.
There is no "immunity" for reporters
A common statement on noticeboards is "this isn't about me; this is about them". There is sometimes a belief that, if someone's perceived misbehavior is reported at a noticeboard, the discussion can only focus on the original complaint, and turning the discussion around to discuss the misbehavior of the original reporter is "changing the subject" and therefore not allowed. However, that just isn't the case. Anyone who participated in the dispute or discussions might find their actions under scrutiny.
How to avoid shooting yourself in the foot
If you are involved in a dispute with someone, try to discuss matters with the other person via their talk page. If they won't cooperate, seek dispute resolution. Try to avoid reporting someone for administrator intervention when you are angry; wait until you are calm and then think about whether the report is appropriate. If you do report someone, be sure you are at the correct noticeboard and read the rules of the board before making your report. Be up front concerning any of your actions that might have contributed to the problem. Finally, consider whether your own actions in the matter have been entirely blameless.
Responders: Investigate fully
When you encounter a reporter who wasn't blameless in the incident, or who posts a report in the heat of the moment, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the reporter is the sole problem without looking at the context. Don't ignore Bob's bad behavior while rushing to be the first to tell to Alice that her angry response to Bob's provocation is going to boomerang on her.
|Look up shoot oneself in the foot in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up what goes around comes around in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up hoist by one's own petard in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Hoist with his own petard
- The Mote and the Beam
- Unclean hands
- Wikipedia:Advice for hotheads
- Wikipedia:ANI advice
- Wikipedia:Don't call the kettle black
- Wikipedia:Don't spite your face
- Wikipedia:Don't throw your toys out of the pram
- Wikipedia:Give 'em enough rope
- Wikipedia:Shoot yourself in the foot, a counterpoint to this essay