RationalWiki:Community Standards

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RationalMedia Foundation (RMF)

These are the community standards of RationalWiki.

These are not site rules but rather a list of standards we as a community try to live up to.

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.


See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Mission

The mission outlines what RationalWikians like to write about. As per most community standards, it's not a hard rule, but more of a suggestion. Articles that are wholly or mostly on-mission are likely to stay; those that aren't will probably go. The RW mission is:

  1. Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement;
  2. Documenting the full range of crank ideas;
  3. Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism;
  4. Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media.

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.


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 start 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.

Penalty votes in the Chicken coop or at All things in moderation started within 24 hours of filing a complaint will be considered invalid.

Penalty votes dealing with a user's removal from the site will be applied based on the longest successfully imposed duration.

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 their known sockpuppet attempt to vote, the sockpuppet vote may be stricken by anyone. Importantly, if a user votes only with their 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, threatening, 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.


tl;dr: don't google people's names and post stuff you find

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.

To request the simple removal of personal information, please post on the moderators' noticeboard. If you wish to make a formal GDPR request, or other privacy related formal legal request, you must contact the RationalMedia Foundation directly. Posting on RationalWiki is not sufficient notification for any legal process. For more information, see RationalWiki:Legal FAQ.

User rights

User pages

An editor's user page, and other pages in their userspace – pages with names beginning with the user page name – 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).

The following are considered acceptable reasons to edit someone else's userspace:

  • Removing spam and vandalism
  • Removing violations of interaction bans
  • Removing/commenting out categories meant for mainspace pages (for draft pages see {{draft categories}})
  • Fixing a page's formatting so it doesn't show up in any of the maintenance categories
  • Adding {{banned}} or {{deceased}} when necessary

The following, meanwhile, are not acceptable reasons to edit someone else's userspace unless you have permission:

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

Clarification: In keeping with RationalWiki tradition, an increase in the number of privileges is referred to as "demotion" and a decrease in privileges is referred to as "promotion"

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.

You must be a member of the moderator or tech user-groups to rename users. If you are unable to rename a user that needs renaming (including your own account), then please ask.


See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Techs

Techs are users with special powers designed to allow them to help manage technical aspects of the wiki. Because this position requires a great deal of trust, no abuse shall be tolerated - not even for fun. Techs should not be seen as authority figures in the site's social structure, nor should they act as such. Techs should not lock pages beyond the sysop level, nor implement Indefinite blocks (bans), with an exception for clear spam accounts. They may however implement blocks equivalent to those given out by sysops and as prescribed by the blocking policy. Techs should never set sysoprevoke, period. Techs aren't superusers, they're just regular sysops entrusted with certain escalated privileges.

For a user to become a tech, one of the elected moderators, existing techs, the Operations Manager or a server administrator must be able to vouch for them. Only one user can vouch for another user. In doing so, the vouching user takes full responsibility of the potential new tech, in the event that this becomes a neccessity. This ensures that the user who wants to become a tech has at least a baseline competence that a moderator is able to recognize. After that, the user that wants to become tech will be appointed if they achieve a simple majority of support through a community vote lasting two weeks.

If required, techs can be directly appointed and removed by the Operations Manager of the wiki, who are themselves appointed by the Board of Trustees. The server administrator(s) 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.

On June 11th, 2020 when the appointment process above was enacted, techs which already had the role at that time were grandfathered in, and did not require a community vote for their appointments. Once appointed, Techs remain for life unless removed by the mob, the operations manager, or server administrator(s). Techs who are completely inactive on the wiki for more than 2 years will have their tech rights temporarily removed to prevent abuse, but these can be granted back without requiring a community vote if desired. For those interested in becoming a tech, rights can be requested here.

Blocking and vandalbinning

See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Blocking policy

In general, RationalWiki discourages blocking, especially for extended periods of time.

Blocking should never occur if somebody is attempting to discuss an issue in a reasonable manner including civil, good-faith, constructive, detailed dialogue. Blocking is not to censor alternate opinions, but to prevent disorder. That being said, preventing disorder is prioritized over following guidelines to the punctuation.

Blocking should be used if somebody is maliciously editing a page or pages. This includes not only obvious vandalism to mainspace pages but also trolling talk pages. For talk pages, ignoring or using the troll tag, collapse, vandal binning and temp blocking are also viable solutions at sysop discretion, however. When in doubt, ignore or assume good faith and leave a response.

RationalWiki has a special "vandal bin" feature, which restricts its members' edits to 1 edit per 30 minutes, making spamming, trolling, and vandalism significantly less rewarding. If somebody is persistent, but not clearly a vandal, it may be useful to restrict their edit rate, but not block them. If someone has already vandal-binned someone, do not impose an indef ban unless the vandal bin has failed to stop disorder; that defeats the point of the vandal bin function. Please do not vandal bin BoN (IP) editors.

Page maintenance


Copying more than a few words of text verbatim without attribution is plagiarism. It is a sign of laziness, sloppiness, and bad form. It is totally unacceptable in academic and formal settings, and is not acceptable on RW.

RationalWiki's tone is very different to most other wikis, and RW articles need to be more than bland regurgitation of facts available elsewhere. Copying text from other sources, regardless of whether doing so is compliant with those sources' licenses, won't make a good RW article. A short, SPoV article written from the ground up is better than any amount of copy-pasted text.

Artificial intelligence

Don't publish content created or edited by large language models (LLMs), even if heavily hand-edited (except in special circumstances such as a quote from an LLM, or as part of describing it). It's strictly forbidden to present LLM text as your own on talk pages and in edit summaries. RationalWiki is not a place for experimenting with LLM impersonation or use in general.

Artificial intelligence-generated files (including, but not limited to, images, audio, and videos) are likewise banned from RationalWiki except as a demonstration of AI fakery.


For the most part, RationalWiki is more concerned about whether a subject is missional rather than notable per se. However, we have a couple of notability rules specifically for certain social media sites to avoid giving smaller cranks undue attention:

  • For Quora spaces, they need at least 100,000 views to be notable.
  • For YouTube channels, they need at least 100,000 subscribers to be notable.

If the subject can be demonstrated to be missional for reasons beyond their presence on YouTube or Quora, then they can still have an article here.

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 their own talk-page, as described above.
  • 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.
  • Spam and copypasta posts.
  • Content that makes the talk page awkward to read or navigate, such as unsigned comments (use the {{unsigned}} template), use of signatures that impersonate other users (such as the {{USERNAME}} template), messy formatting and footnotes (which should not be used on discussion pages).

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 should bring it up on RationalWiki:Articles for deletion (formerly, the standard way was to discuss deletion on the article's talk page). It is considered polite to leave a message on the article creator's talk page, if they're still using the wiki.

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.
  • Pages that are entirely copied from other sources (see Plagiarism).

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, except for short periods to stop an edit war. 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.

To prevent unfunny vandalism, the main page and mission are protected. On rare occasions, the titles of deleted pages that have been repeatedly recreated by vandals are protected to avoid them being created again.

The edit filter

RationalWiki uses a number of automated active spam protection filters. These are defined at Special:AbuseFilter, however to prevent spammers from gaming the system, the details of some filters are hidden from public view. The edit filter covers all pages on RationalWiki, regardless of namespace.

A complete log of all actions taking by the edit filter is kept at Special:AbuseLog. If the edit blocks a user, this will be viable on the block log as a block by User:Edit filter, these can be seen at Special:Log/Edit filter.

The edit filter is more likely to affect new users and those who are not logged in. Sysops are unlikely to have any action filtered.

Edit filter rules are written by Techs and Mods, sysops do not have the ability to change the edit filter. For help with the edit filter, please post on RationalWiki:Technical support.

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.
    • Draft namespace – missional topics that don't yet have a full, mainspace-worthy article
    • 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.
  • 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 and the now defunct Forum namespace – issues are posted for the RationalWiki community to debate. The talk page is used to discuss the debate itself on a meta level.
    • Recipe namespace – recipes submitted by users.
  • 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.
    • MediaWiki namespace – influences the appearance of the wiki and other technical aspects. It is only editable by Techs.

Advice when writing articles

See the main article on this topic: Manual of style

See also

For more expansive coverage of the topics described here please see the following pages: