Wikivoyage:No real world threats

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Real world threats—essentially threats of physical or legal harm—are strictly prohibited on Wikivoyage. They are never necessary, and can have a chilling effect on public participation.

While Wikivoyage cannot stop anyone from deciding to pursue a lawsuit, you may not do it on the wiki. Instead contact the person or people involved directly, by email or through any other contact methods the user provides. If your issue involves Wikivoyage itself, you should contact Wikivoyage's parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. Do not issue legal threats on Wikivoyage pages.

If you do post a threat of a lawsuit or physical harm, even an ambiguous or vague one, you will likely be banned from further editing here with prejudice.

If you initiate a lawsuit against Wikivoyage or one of its contributors, regardless of whether it is done on wiki, you are required to refrain from editing here until the lawsuit is resolved. Failure to refrain from editing under those circumstances will likely result in a speedy ban to last until all relevant outstanding lawsuits are resolved. Note that the resolution of such lawsuits will not necessarily result in the lifting of a ban—that must be petitioned.

Naturally, those editing on behalf of a corporation that has initiated lawsuits or threats of any real world harm will also be banned from editing.

Legal threats should be reported immediately to an administrator.

What is not a legal threat

A polite, coherent complaint in cases of copyright infringement or attacks is not a legal threat.

If you are the owner of copyrighted material which has been inappropriately added to Wikivoyage, a clear statement about whether it is licensed for such use is welcome and appropriate. By all means, make it known! Everyone here wants information to be free, and when someone uploads or posts copyrighted material that is not compatible with our licensing, it undermines our goals.

Perceived legal threats

It is important to refrain from making comments that others may reasonably understand as legal threats, even if the comments are not intended in that fashion. For example, if you repeatedly assert that another editor's comments are "defamatory" or "libelous", that editor might interpret this as a threat to sue for defamation, even if this is not intended. To avoid this frequent misunderstanding, use less charged wording (such as “That statement about me is not true and I hope it will be corrected for the following reasons...”) to avoid the perception that you are threatening legal action for defamation.

Rather than blocking immediately, administrators should seek to clarify the user's meaning and make sure that a mere misunderstanding is not involved. For example, a user might assert another editor's comments are "defamatory" because they are unaware of certain policies, and require assistance in dealing with such comments. While such comments may not be per se legal threats, they may fall under the scope of the aforementioned policies and repeated or disruptive usage can result in the user being blocked.

Rationale for the policy

While you may sue in a court of law, Wikivoyage is not the place for legal disputes. Making legal threats is uncivil and causes a number of serious problems:

  • It severely inhibits free editing of pages, undermining our volunteer base.
  • It creates bad feelings and a lack of trust amongst the community, damaging our ability to proceed quickly and efficiently with an assumption of mutual good faith.
  • By making legal threats, you damage your reputation on Wikivoyage, and undermine your own ability to contribute effectively here or elsewhere in the world of wikis.

Attempt to resolve disputes without resorting to the law. If you need help resolving a dispute, solicit the opinions of other Wikivoyagers. If we as a community cannot resolve your problem, and you then choose to take legal action, you do so in the knowledge that you took all reasonable steps to resolve the situation amicably.

Conclusion of legal threat

Statements made in anger or misjudgment should not always be held against people for the rest of their lives once genuinely and credibly withdrawn.

This policy removes an editor who makes legal threats to prevent damage or deterioration to the project. The editor is not blocked just because "it's a legal threat", but rather because:

  1. It reduces scope for escalation of a bad situation,
  2. It reduces stress and administrative burden on the wiki,
  3. It reduces disruption to articles and the editorial environment,
  4. It prevents the difficult situation where a person is both seeking to be collaborative partner and also setting themselves up as litigious adversary (in general those two roles are mutually exclusive).

If these conflicts are in fact resolved (or a consensus is reached to test if they are resolved), then involved editors should be unblocked if there are no other issues that warrant a block.

Remember that a legal complainant may be someone who is genuinely hurt or upset. If someone is blocked for legal threats it is important to ensure that any possible factual basis for such a threat is not ignored or obscured. They should be instructed how to communicate with Wikivoyage to correct errors. Blocking admins should watch (or get others to watch) the user's talk page and encourage the user to identify any verifiable problems with any article or file at issue; assisting with such errors is part of our core goals and does not equate to proxying for banned editors. Repeats of legal threats on the user's own talk page have limited scope for disruption or chilling effect and the user should not be prevented from using their talk page for communication until reasonable attempts have been made to open a civil discussion. Remember that the aim of this policy is to contain the effects of legal threats, not to prevent people from having bad content fixed. As usual we assume good faith while containing disruption. As usual, the assumption of good faith is not a suicide pact and persistent or vexatious complaints may indeed lead to the user being banned and prevented from editing their talk page, but this is a last resort.

See also