RationalWiki:Community Standards/Revamp, January 2009

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Updated community standards.

General Statement

As stated in our mission statement, RationalWiki's official purpose is to (1) analyze and refute the anti-science movement, (2) analyze and refute crank ideas, and (3) explore the nature of authoritarianism and fundamentalism. We also have a fourth, 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 (within limits, of course).

RationalWiki is not a general encyclopedia, and articles not somehow related to the above mission statements are generally moved out of the mainspace (see below).

The Mobocracy

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 which approximates our actual policies. You won't find many votes or formal declarations of rules, and you'll need a fairly thick skin to participate (being that practically requires a heated debate for any consensus to emerge), but it's gotten us this far without too many problems.

Therefore, keep in mind that the policies below are only an approximation of what the mob has decided, and are themselves probably being debated on a talk page right now.

Policy on Religion

Our official policy on religion is that we do not have a policy on religion.

Social Conduct

  • Assume good faith on the part of other editors.
  • Don't panic. This is a wiki, and any damage can be undone with the click of a button.
  • If it is clear that you joined RationalWiki without any intent to participate as a member of the community, and are here just to push whatever your already unpopular cause is, don't expect to be welcomed with open arms. And if you insist on being a dick about it, don't whine when people treat you like a dick.
  • RationalWiki respects the right of people to be heatedly debating something on one page and joking around on another—at the same time. If, during an argument, you try to turn every possible page you (or someone you disagree with) appear on into another front of the battle, that's being a dick.
  • If an edit you make is repeatedly reverted, (e.g. an edit war has started), or someone has otherwise objected to it, then talk it out on the article's talk page. It is the best possible way for editors to reach any sort of understanding or compromise.
  • An editor's userspace is inviolable and they are free to do with it what they want (excepting patently offensive material). Most users don't mind minor spelling corrections by other editors in to their userspace, but don't assume that of everyone. Many editors allow joke edits made in good humor to slide, but again, not everyone is so accepting. The user talkpage-space is public and does not belong to the user. No deletion of talk page material is permitted, but archiving may be done periodically.

Personal Attacks

Discussions here sometimes get heated, and inevitably at least one person in the room will start getting frustrated and whip out the personal attacks. (You're probably expecting to find a "no personal attacks" line here.) Unfortunately, what constitutes a personal attack depends on so many contexts, personalities involved, and the site's zeitgeist that any attempt to define what constitutes one would run for pages, and then be ignored anyways. (Besides, following such a rule would make us a shining beacon of civility on the internet, which doesn't exactly describe us.) Which brings us to what kinds of personal attacks will not be tolerated:

  • Juvenile attacks are not tolerated. If the attack uses words like fascist, Nazi, or any derogatory word describing a particular demographic (e.g. cunt, fag, faggot, "that's so gay") in an unironic manner. If the comment is bad enough, it may even be removed.

Appropriate Use of Powers

The Vandal Bin & Blocking

RationalWiki has a special feature called the vandal bin, which allows sysops and bureaucrats to put vandals into a special user-group that limits the number of edits they can make to once every half hour. It allows RationalWiki to restrict the abilities of vandals while still allowing them the opportunity to protest their punishment (something blocks, by their very nature, do not allow). Because blocks are a violation of the very reason behind the vandal bin, the use of blocks is heavily discouraged.

And to reiterate above, 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. Additionaly, if an edit by a new user is questionable but not blatant vandalism, ask to them about it on their userpage before assuming they are a vandal and vandal-binning them.

Demotion and Promotion

Clarification: In keeping with RationalWiki tradition, promotion is referred to as "demotion" and actual demotion is referred to as "promotion".


Any user who is not a vandal or troll is generally demoted to sysop. It is left up to bureaucrats to judge for themselves whether or not a user is a vandal. (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 to not be demoted, and bureaucrats are to respect these requests.


A user can be promoted out of the sysop group for only a few reasons:

  • The user asks to be de-sysopped.
  • The user is revealed to be a vandal or troll.
  • An otherwise non-vandal sysop repeatedly abuses their ability to block non-sysop, non-vandal users and/or their ability to lock pages.


RationalWiki prefers that a page's history 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. In these cases, the "rule of three" should be used: Wait until at least three people have chimed in on the talk page, then act on that consensus.

The userspace is exempted from this; because it is their personal area, a user may delete any of the non-talk pages in their userspace without discussion. Obsolete redirects are also exempted.

Talk pages should never be deleted. (This includes talk pages in one's personal userspace.) This preserves a publicly viewable record of the decision to delete the article.

Moving Pages

A page can be moved without discussion only if it is a simple title correction (such as correcting a misspelling, changing an improperly captilized 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. Similar to the rule for deletion, the "rule of three" should be applied; at least three people need to give their opinion on the talk page, and the user should act according to that consensus.

As a courtesy, the one who proposed the move is generally the one who gets to move the page.

Renaming Users

Users can be renamed only if they request to have their name changed, the user has a patently offensive name, or the user is a known vandal.

Protecting Pages

A page can be protected without discussion only if it's in the protecting sysop's userspace (unless it's a talk page).

Anti-page resurrection is sometimes used to "protect" deleted pages (that is, prevent them from being recreated) that have been repeatedly recreated by vandals.

If a particular page is a magnet for vandalism, then protection should first be proposed on the talk page and discussed before anyone protects the page.



RationalWiki does not use Wikipedia's NPOV (Neutral Point of View) or Conservapedia's BCPOV (Batshit Crazy Point of View). We have our own version: SPOV. SPOV can mean one of 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 snark and witty comments to keep things interesting.
  • Scientific Point of View. Less talked about but more important, the Scientific Point of View means that our articles take the side of the scientific consensus on an issue. Unlike Wikipeda, which effectively treats all viewpoints and theories as legitimate, we will call bullshit on an unscientific or just plain stupid idea and treat it like the crap it is.


RationalWiki uses several namespaces, each housing different kinds of content.

  • Main namespace — Contains articles that are pertain to our mission (see above). (There are some exceptions, however. Articles that have nothing to do with our mission goals but are sufficiently popular sometimes manage to remain in the main namespace. Examples of this include goat and cat.) Articles in this namespace are intended to be collaberated on by any and all editors.
  • Essay namespace — Contains original works by a particular editor. The article is usually marked as an original piece with a template giving the name of the author. Articles here are intended to be edited only by the original author(s). 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" boards than as essays. These essays are clearly marked as such.
  • Debate namespace — Similar to a forum, where topic questions can be posted and users debate. The talk page is used to discuss the debate itself on a meta level.
  • Conservapedia namespace— Contains articles about Conservapedia, its management, and its participants. The rules for editing these articles are the same as mainspace articles.
  • Recipe namespace — Contains recipes submitted by users. This namespace is was only barely used from the start and is effectively dead.
  • Fun namespace — Contains articles that are silly, pointless or just for fun. Entries that do not fit RationalWiki's mission are also placed here.

Manual of Style

  • Please do your best to watch for and correct spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Please list categories at very bottom of the article, not spread among various paragraphs and sections.
  • Articles should be put in the most specific categories possible; avoid placing an article in numerous broad categories. For example, Richard Dawkins should be in category:atheists and category:biologists, not the in category:people, category:atheism, category:biology, and category:scientists. Doing so actually aids the use of categories as a navigating tool and prevents the broader "parent" categories from becoming too inclusive and unwieldy to be useful.
  • Internal links should lead directly to the article, not a redirect.
  • Redirects are used to direct someone using the search function to the proper article. For example, someone searching for "Scientology" would immediately be redirected to the proper name of the article, Church of Scientology.
  • When referencing another another wiki (or any other website), please use static or diff links. Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.