Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers

Wikipedia articles are improved through the hard work of both regular editors and newcomers. Remember: all of us were new editors at Wikipedia once, and in some ways (such as when editing an article on a topic outside our usual scope) even the most experienced among us are still newcomers.

New members are prospective contributors and are therefore Wikipedia's most valuable resource. We must treat newcomers with kindness and patience—nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility. It is very unlikely for a newcomer to be completely familiar with Wikipedia's markup language and its myriad of policies, guidelines, and community standards when they start editing. Even the most experienced editors may need a gentle reminder from time to time.

The first edits of many users who are now experienced editors were test edits, or unsourced and unencyclopedic additions to articles. Communicating with newcomers patiently and thoroughly is integral to ensure they stay on Wikipedia and ultimately contribute in a constructive manner.

Newcomers' ideas of how things should be handled within Wikipedia will largely be out of context. It's a jungle in Wikipedia, and it may take some time before a newcomer becomes accustomed to how things work here. Keeping that in mind may help you avoid becoming a "biter". To avoid being accused of biting, try to:

Standard welcome or warning messages are both cordial and correcting. Consider using these templates for welcoming, or the first two here for warning.

Strive to be a responsible Wikipedian. By fostering goodwill, you will neither provoke nor be provoked, and will allow new Wikipedians to devote their time and resources towards building a truly collaborative encyclopedia.

The principle ignorantia juris non excusat (Latin for: "ignorance of the law does not excuse") is incompatible with the guidelines of "do not bite" and "assume good faith". In this case, ignorance of Wikipedia's guidelines can or may excuse the mistakes of a newcomer. Furthermore, you yourself violate Wikipedia's guidelines and policies when you attack a new user for ignorance of them.

Try instead to follow the points set forth in this article to relieve new editors of their ignorance. Keep in mind that this is not the way many other things work, and even seasoned editors fail to follow—or are simply unaware of—our guidelines from time to time.

To a newcomer, the large number of Wikipedia policies and guidelines can be overwhelming. Ignorance of the rules can often be expected, but willfully disregarding them and disrupting the editorial process of constructing our online encyclopedia is quite another. If you exclude editors without barnstars and the like from your circle you probably diminish the final product.

In all cases though, we ought to interact with our fellow editors with gentleness and respect. This is the most important thing to stress.

If you have bitten someone, or feel that you have been bitten, considering the following points could help ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Another common newbie error is to violate the three revert rule. There is no reason to expect that a newcomer would know about this rule, so it is a good idea to inform them of the rule on their talkpage after their second revert.