These are the guidelines defined by the RationalWiki community. These are not site rules but rather a list of standards we as a community try to live up to. Please do your best to live up to them.
If you feel you have been the victim of administrative abuse or believe that a user has egregiously violated these standards, you should take your case to the chicken coop. When presenting your case, be sure to include who you are accusing, what exactly you are accusing them of, some hard evidence, and a brief explanation. Since the sole purpose of the Coop is to resolve these disputes, don't post unrelated or more generalized complaints there - if you do, your posts will be moved off the page.
Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:
- Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement.
- Documenting the full range of crank ideas.
- Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.
- Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media.
We welcome contributors, and encourage those who disagree with us to register and engage in constructive dialogue.
We also have a fifth, unofficial purpose, which is to provide people who agree with the previously-stated goals a place to just hang out and have fun with like-minded people.
RationalWiki is not a general encyclopedia; it does not require articles on every known subject. However, the wiki's mainspace welcomes many articles that do not relate to the primary missions of RationalWiki providing that they are factually accurate and of interest to the community at large. These include articles on general science, historical events and important individuals throughout the world.
 Point of view
RationalWiki does not use Wikipedia's well-known "Neutral Point of View". We have our own version: SPOV. SPOV means two things:
- Snarky point of view — This is the meaning most people refer to. It means that, to keep our articles from being dry and boring, we spice it up with humor, sarcasm, skepticism, satire, and wit.
- Scientific point of view — Less talked about but arguably more important, the scientific point of view means that our articles take the side of the scientific consensus on an issue. RationalWiki should be and will be highly critical of any unscientific, irrational, or just plain stupid idea, movement, or ideology.
Our official policy on religion is that we do not have an official policy on religion. Our community of editors includes followers of various religions, as well as many atheists. Please bear this in mind when editing.
However, our scientific point of view respects the scientific method as the most reliable framework for researching and understanding what happens in our universe. For this reason, we are critical of both religious and secular movements which oppose or ignore scientific thought and knowledge.
 How RationalWiki is run
RationalWiki is a mobocracy. Some would use a tautology to describe it ("The way things are done around here is the way things are done around here"). But the most helpful description is that, in the course of numerous talk page discussions and edits to articles, a rough consensus emerges. Hence the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies. Please keep in mind that the standards below are only an approximation of the site's working practices.
However, it is a common practice on RationalWiki to codify the consensus with a vote, especially when the issues at stake are of great importance or interest.
In order to vote in policy votes, which seek to change the Community Standards or similar official policy documents, or penalty votes, which seek to penalize (or change existing penalties for) a user, you must have at least 75 total edits and a registration date at least three months prior to the conclusion of the vote.
 Common guidelines
In policy votes and penalty votes dealing with a user's removal from the site (temporarily or permanently), a positive option (an option that is not "nay" or "none of the above") must accrue a two-thirds majority of votes to pass. In all other types of penalty votes, a positive option must accrue a simple majority of votes to pass.
Both policy votes and penalty votes must last between seven and fourteen days.
"Goat" or similarly labeled votes are not counted toward vote totals when calculating thresholds, and cannot prevent an option from reaching a two-thirds or simple majority.
In all votes, if both a user and his or her known sockpuppet attempt to vote, the sockpuppet vote may be stricken by anyone. Importantly, if a user votes only with his or her known sockpuppet, their vote is still valid.
Any eligible voter (an account with 75 edits, etc.) can open policy and penalty votes.
We prefer and encourage that users and editors become a part of the community. We encourage everyone to join in, be bold, and engage in sensible debate, but expect them to do so without resorting to vandalizing articles or harassing other users. Please assume good faith on the part of other editors, and don't panic. This is a wiki, and almost any damage can be undone with the click of a button.
Avoid edit wars. If an edit you make is repeatedly reverted, or someone has otherwise objected to it, then discuss it on the article's talk page. It is the best possible way for editors to reach any sort of understanding or compromise.
Discussions here sometimes get heated, but resorting to personal attacks is strongly frowned upon, however justified they may seem. In particular, attacks incorporating racist, sexist and homophobic language and insults are not tolerated. Accusations of fascism or comparisons to Hitler are also best avoided (see Godwin's Law).
If you are engaged in an ongoing argument with another user about something, please keep the dispute within the relevant talk pages. Don't turn every possible page you or they appear on into another front of the battle. You will find that it's common here to see editors passionately debating something on one page, while also joking around with each other on another.
Personal information about other RationalWiki users that is not volunteered by that user should not be posted on this site. This includes IP addresses, and even where an IP address is volunteered, discussion of the user's geographical location, place of employment, or other private information based on their IP address (even if publicly available) is frowned upon.
In pursuing RationalWiki's missions, we often comment on the activities of individuals at other websites, but similar caution should be taken in respecting their privacy. Personal information regarding a living person should be limited to information which they themselves have released into the public domain, either through their personal website or a website they are associated with, or other formal publications. No information gained through personal research should be presented. No information divulging the names of family members (who are not themselves figures of interest) or "real world" contact details should be posted. If you are unsure, don't post such information.
 User rights
 User pages
An editor's user page, and other pages in their user space, is their personal space and they are free to do with it what they want (with common-sense-exceptions, such as patently offensive material, copyright violations or spam).
Most users don't mind minor spelling corrections by other editors on their userpage, but don't assume that of everyone: it may be better to ask first. Many editors allow joke edits to their page, made in good humor, to slide, but again, not everyone is so accepting.
A user's talk page, like any other talk page on the site, is public and does not belong to the user. However, users are permitted to delete posts from their own talk pages at their discretion, being responsible for any abuse of this permission. Users who believe their comments have been removed unjustifiably can take their case to the Chicken Coop or All Things in Moderation, rather than edit-warring over the removal.
 Demoting and promoting users
Any user who is not a vandal or troll is generally "demoted" first to "autopatrolled", and then to sysop by current sysops. (Remember that this is a wiki, so any damage done by a vandal who manages to be "demoted" can easily be undone.) A user can always request not to be "demoted", and sysops are to respect these requests.
A sysop can only be "promoted" back down to regular editor status if they request it, or if they are causing trouble through serious vandalism, troll behaviour, or abuse of sysop abilities such as blocking. Complaints of this kind should be raised at the chicken coop page, and the decision to "promote" the sysop should only be reached after a full discussion.
In some extreme cases, where a sysop is being particularly disruptive, another sysop may need to "promote" them as soon as possible to prevent further vandalism or abuse, but they must then discuss their decision with others at the Chicken Coop page or All Things in Moderation, to determine whether the user should remain de-sysoped.
Sysops may demote users to sysop at their individual discretion.
 Renaming users
Users can be renamed only if they request to have their name changed or if they have a patently offensive or intentionally disruptive name.
"Spoof" usernames (impersonating another user, usually) can be renamed unilaterally unless the spoofee expresses approval of the spoofer.
Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. They are appointed and removed by the Operations Manager of the wiki, who is himself appointed by the Board of Trustees. The server administrator may also make such appointments and removals, when necessary. Except in emergencies, such appointments and removals shall be done in public, with concordant justification to the community. Rights can be requested here.
Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun.
 Dealing with vandalism
 The vandal bin
RationalWiki has a special feature called the vandal bin. Sysops and bureaucrats can put vandals into a special list which limits the frequency of edits they can make to once every half hour. Users in the vandal bin also lose the ability to relocate pages. This allows RationalWiki to restrict the abilities of vandals, while still allowing them the opportunity to edit the wiki, and contribute if they have a change of heart.
Vandal binning IP addresses and using the autoblock feature is discouraged, because those IPs will remain in the bin forever, and this may affect innocent users in the future. Using short blocks for IPs and vandals who create multiple accounts is prefered.
And to reiterate, assume good faith, and if and when that faith is betrayed, don't panic. A few edits by vandals does not a crisis make, so don't flip out and rampage over anyone who strikes you as maybe being a vandal. Wait until they make an edit or two, and if they are clearly vandalism, then put them in the vandal bin. Additionally, if an edit by a new user is questionable but not blatant vandalism, ask them about it on their talk page before assuming they are a vandal and vandal binning them.
Blocking should only be used on spambots and vandals. Sysops should limit most blocks to an hour or two in case of vandalism. Blocks longer than this should be discussed first before implementing.
Spambots can be blocked for up to three months, but please exercise caution with anonymous spammers, and only block if there is repeated spamming from an IP address.
The option "<ipballowusertalk>" should always be left on, to allow the blockee to protest the block.
Sysops should exercise caution when issuing blocks, and it is especially important to avoid mistakenly blocking innocent non-vandal editors, particularly if they're newcomers.
Some sysops issue "joke blocks" on their fellow sysops, lasting a few seconds to a couple minutes in length (although overuse of two-minute-plus blocks, or blocks against sysops in the middle of editing, are not always appreciated by the blockee).
 Page maintenance
 Talk pages
Talk pages (including user talk as well as article talk pages) and other discussion pages, such as debates or the Saloon bar, are community property. They must not be deleted, nor protected, although they can be archived periodically. Similarly, users should not delete or change another user's comments on a talk or discussion page, with the following exceptions:
- Obviously vile comments made for the purposes of trolling, and of a user on his/her own talk-page, as described above. The obviously vile trolling comments may either be deleted or enclosed in a collapsible box using the "trolltop" and "trollbottom" templates.
- Posts from users who have been blocked from the site, but are circumventing the block by using an alternate IP address or sockpuppet account. Deletion of such posts is mandatory, as this is considered necessary for the proper enforcement of blocks.
Please sign all talk page comments, by typing four tildes at the end (~~~~). This will leave your signature and a timestamp. Please also indent your comment using colons (:) at the beginning (one more than the comment above) as this makes discussions much easier to read.
Occasionally discussions may be moved from one talk page to a more appropriate location, by copying and deleting it from the original page and pasting it at the new page. It is important to provide a link to the new location, which can be done using the "movedfrom" and "movedto" templates.
RationalWiki prefers that a page's history ("fossil record") be preserved and publicly available. Therefore, if a user wants a page deleted, they must bring it up on the talk page first. If the page is a smaller, long-neglected one, this may mean waiting a while (remember that you can always drop a line on someone's talkpage pointing them to it, or use the intercom).
What can be deleted without discussion:
- Users may delete non-talk pages or any part thereof in their own userspace (because it is their personal area).
- Obsolete categories. In these cases the talk page of the old category should be moved to where the replacement category is. If there is no replacement category, then it can be left alone.
- Unnecessary redirects.
- Articles and redirects made by vandals whose sole purpose is obscenity and/or personal attack.
- Edits adding personal information about someone (e.g. phone number, address, place of work, real name(s), etc.) not volunteered by that person. In these cases the first sysop to come across the information should immediately "hide" the relevant edit; see the sysop guide.
Talk pages should never be deleted. This includes talk pages in editor userspaces. This preserves a publicly viewable record of the decision to delete a page or a file. After deleting a page, please place the corresponding talk page, if it exists, in the appropriate subcategory of Category:Talk pages with no subject page.
A page can be moved without discussion only if it is a simple title correction (such as correcting a misspelling, changing an improperly capitalized letter to lowercase, or moving it from the common name of the subject to the formal one). If a user is moving a page out of their userspace (such as an article they were working on that is now ready for the mainspace), they similarly do not need to discuss it first.
If a user wants a page moved to what they feel is a more appropriate namespace, then they should raise the issue on the talk page.
RationalWiki generally does not protect pages. The community feels that, given the ease with which vandalism can be reverted, protection is unnecessary. (An exception is that some sysops do protect their own userpage and signatures for peace of mind.)
On rare occasions, the titles of deleted pages that have been repeatedly recreated by vandals are protected to avoid them being created again.
 About namespaces
RationalWiki uses several "Namespaces," each for different kinds of content.
- Article namespaces:
- Main namespace — (no prefix before title) used for articles that pertain to our mission (see above). Articles in this namespace are intended to be collaborated on by any and all editors. For the purpose of promoting understanding of science, the mainspace also has articles on basic science and mathematics.
- Conservapedia namespace — articles about Conservapedia, its management, and its participants.
- Fun namespace — articles that are off-mission or just for fun. Entries that do not fit RationalWiki's mission are often moved here, if they are deemed worthy of saving at all.
- Recipe namespace — recipes submitted by users.
- Namespaces for personal expression:
- User namespace — contains user pages but also pages created by users for their own use, such as sandboxes (for creating new articles and other works in progress) and essays relating to users. These are to be edited by that user only, although the corresponding talk pages are still community property.
- Essay namespace — used for original works by a particular editor, which are usually marked as an original piece with a template giving the name of the author. The talk page is used to discuss the essay and remains public property open to any editor. Some essays are open for anyone to edit and serve more as "share your opinion" spaces than as essays. These essays are clearly marked as such.
- Debate namespace — issues are posted for the RationalWiki community to debate. The talk page is used to discuss the debate itself on a meta level.
- Namespaces for content about RationalWiki:
- RationalWiki namespace — contains articles relating to the wiki itself, such as policies and "meta-discussion".
- Help namespace — contains our very helpful "help" articles.
- Namespaces for technical purposes:
- Category namespace — for organising RationalWiki content. Every mainspace article should be in at least one category. See the list here.
- Template namespace — content such as "info boxes" or userboxes are created on a template page so that they can easily be displayed on multiple other pages.
- File namespace — files (generally images, but can include any other type of file permitted by the MediaWiki software) uploaded by users.
- Thread namespace and summary namespace — used in the LiquidThreads extension.
 Advice when writing articles
 See also
For more expansive coverage of the topics described here please see the following pages:
- Details on our blocking policy.
- Etiquette when editing articles.
- How to handle vandalism.
- For details on linking offsite see Help:linking style.
- More details on our namespaces can be found at Help:Namespace.
- Tips on how to write good RationalWiki articles can be found at What is a RationalWiki article?
- Complaints against sysops and other administrators can be made at the administrative abuse page.