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Sarcastic/personal comments in the edit summary

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This is mainly directed at Sulfur but applies to one or two others aswell.

Please stop placing sarcastic comments or personal messages in the edit summary of an article's history!

I can cite three examples of this occuring off the top of my head - here, here and here - all of them could easily be avoided by simply noting the changes made and nothing more. For example, something like:

  1. Reworded description and added category
  2. Removed speculation, see talk page
  3. Minor change - "Jim" to "James"

The last two in particular really annoyed me.

TO SULFUR: I may have be incorrect in adding the note to TCARS but that is no way to talk to anyone, edit summary or not! As for the third, I have spent hours and hours on the "Melora" article only for you to come along and make one minor change, noting "let's change this shall we?" in your usual sarcastic manner. If you have something to say, use my talk page for it - that's what it's there for!

TO EVERYONE ELSE: This by no means applies to everybody, just some who I have noticed do this on a regular basis. I think it is important enough to bring up and should be addressed before it gets any worse, least of all because it is bordering on - if not breaching - Memory Alpha's "no personal attacks" policy. This sort of thing, whether in the edit summary or not, is enough to put off any users from contributing. The edit summary is there to record changes - nothing more. If there is more to be said, it should be done on the relevant talk page.

Sorry, I have gone on so long, but I hope this illustrates just how frustrated I am by it all. --| TrekFan Open a channel 23:59, March 18, 2011 (UTC)

I notice that you're directing all of these at me completely. Nothing else. It's not "some", it's me.
Also, I would like to know how "Let's use Jim Crocker's proper credit name, James" is sarcastic or a personal comment. It was an edit that was simply that. Let's use his proper credit name instead of his colloquial name that he actually may go by on a regular basis.
Yes, some of my edit comments are sarcastic now and then, especially when an edit has to be made to correct an error from someone who should know better. -- sulfur 00:28, March 19, 2011 (UTC)

Nobody's perfect, Sulfur. Not even you, believe it or not. We're not in a dictatorship here - "do x or y will happen". People come here as something to do in their spare time. In the grand scheme of things, MA is just another insignificant website. Don't get me wrong I like contributing to it, but I do so as it's just something interesting to do and I don't expect to be spoken to in a sarcastic "know it all" attitude. I've seen how you talk to other users, especially new ones, and it's disgraceful. Whether they have been here a day or a year, it's no excuse to speak to them like that. If we all went round doing it because they "should know better" what kind of place would this be? Not a very nice one. I, for one, am not going to put up with it any longer. That goes for you or anyone else on the site. This should be a kind and welcoming place where people want to get involved without fear of reprisal. --| TrekFan Open a channel 11:01, March 19, 2011 (UTC)

I will not address the specific issues you have with Sulfur, (which really should have been discussed on his page if they have to do with him) but I will say sarcasm is not a "personal attack". Unless you are Betazoid you cannot know in every instance what someone's tone and attitude is, unless they admit to having such an attitude(which I have seen).
We should be kind and welcoming, but we should also inform new (and especially not new) users about how things operate, otherwise they will not change, or even merely discuss the issue. Many users do not look at their talk pages(some don't even know they have one) so it is sometimes necessary to use the edit summary to communicate with them.--31dot 19:47, March 19, 2011 (UTC)

31dot, I completely agree with you in that we should be pointing things out to new users - there is no issue of that. What I am saying is that is should be done in a polite and constructive way. Everytime I make a post to another user, I read it back to make sure it "sounds" civil, polite and welcoming. If not, I change it. As Sulfur has even admitted here, he uses sarcasm (to the point of ridicule, in my opinion) when doing that. Edit summaries should be just that, though - a summary of the edit. When a user gets a message on their talk page, whether they know it's there or not, a big "YOU HAVE 1 NEW MESSAGE" sign comes up on their screen, which is hard to miss. As for posting this here, I did think long and hard about it, but I decided to proceed because I wanted a record of the discussion kept in a public place for all to see. If it was on Sulfur's talk page, that wouldn't be the case. I apologise to anyone who takes issue with that, but that's what I decided to do. --| TrekFan Open a channel 20:05, March 19, 2011 (UTC)

Posts on usertalk pages may be hard to miss, but people do nevertheless, either inadvertently or intentionally. That's been my experience here and on another wiki where I am an admin. Usertalk pages are not any more private than any other page, and are designed to talk to and about another user. If you wish to have a more general discussion here, that's fine, no problem, but if your issue is with a certain user you should use their page. Just my opinion.--31dot 18:30, March 23, 2011 (UTC)
Without attempting to re-open any past personal disputes, I think TrekFan's central idea to avoid personal remarks in edit summaries where possible is a good one. Something similar happened happened to me a few years back, when I made a comment in an edit summary which I thought at the time was amusing and it led to great offence for the other party (and understandably so, in hindsight).
While sarcasm is not necessarily a personal attack, as Sulfur noted, it is easily misunderstood in text, even with smilies (like in my case). I don't think there is any need for personal comments generally in edit summaries.
These edit summaries last pretty much forever in the edit history, meaning that these comments linger in irrelevant places (what the heck did my remark have to do with Phlox?). Furthermore, such comments might attract responses back in subsequent edits, leading to discussions in the comments rather than the talk page. Third, if a user is doing something incorrectly and they continually do so, it is better for later admins that this is visible on that user's talk page.
Regarding 31dot's contention, I think it's okay as a last resort if the person has consistently failed to respond to their talk page. But even then it doesn't have to be done sarcastically. (e.g. "Please read your talk page")–Cleanse ( talk | contribs ) 12:28, April 16, 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, Cleanse. That is basically what I was trying to say. --| TrekFan Open a channel 13:20, April 16, 2011 (UTC)

A suggested rule of thumbEdit

I think that a clarification of "personal attacks" should include a provision that discussing proper form of wiki editing in a general way or a matter-of-fact directive should be allowed if it does not deride a user personally but rather speaks to a more correct form of editing the user could have performed. There are situations where editing needs to be refined to benefit the wiki and certain types of edits disrupt that and calling attention to it briefly and generally shouldn't be taken as a personal attack, but as a call to move forward that can be seen and acknowledged by many without taking up the time and data resources of a long conversation.

For example, "this should have been sourced years ago" isn't necessarily a personal attack on a person who failed to source it, but generally a call to other interested users that, yes, there are problems with the database. A beneficial outcome would be one or more other users investigating the links, history, and other factors of the article that might have led it to be 'under the radar', evading attempts to process its data and identify it as being sourced. Those users might find and eliminate many similar problem articles by examining those links.

One thing I've been called out for on other wikis was saying "user X has been leaving off category sorts" as being denigrating to the user. I disagreed since it allows other users awareness to go back through that users' history and sort the categories. However, I stopped doing it since a more beneficial outcome would be to generate a discussion page and allow the user to be aware of the problem first. However, if the user specifically refuses to abide by the policy to sort categories, whether in hostility, or just in ignorance, this makes the only solution for other users to be aware that they will need to sort the categories - and a convenient way is to put forward info that the user's edit history will contain unsorted articles, based on that user's stated preference to not perform that task. So this is more of a last resort, but is still not an attack, it's a tool for communicating a history of a needed change. -- Captain MKB 17:20, April 16, 2011 (UTC)

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