Wikipedia:Gaming the system

Gaming the system means deliberately using Wikipedia policies in bad faith to thwart the aims of Wikipedia. Gaming the system may represent an abuse of process, disruptive editing, or otherwise evading the spirit of community consensus. Editors typically game the system to make a point, to further an edit war, or to enforce a specific non-neutral point of view.

If an editor finds a loophole or trick that allows them to evade community standards or misuse administrator tools, it should not be treated the same as a good-faith mistake. However, . A warning from an administrator is usually the best way to prevent gaming, because a clear warning should help correct both good-faith mistakes and bad-faith games. If an editor ignores a warning and repeats their behavior, or if they find new creative ways to achieve the same disruption, it is more likely that they are gaming the system in bad faith.

An editor gaming the system is seeking to use policy in bad faith, by finding within its wording some apparent justification for disruptive actions and stances that policy is clearly not at all intended to support. In doing this, the gamester separates policies and guidelines from their rightful place as a means of documenting community consensus, and attempts to use them selectively for a personal agenda. An editor is disruptive if they are using a few words of policy to claim support for a viewpoint which clearly contradicts those policies, to attack a genuinely policy-based stance by willfully misapplying Wikipedia policies, or to derail Wikipedia processes.

In each case, willfulness or knowing is important. Misuse of policy, guidelines or practice is not gaming if it is based upon a genuine mistake. But it may well be, if it is deliberate, where the editor continues to game policy even when it is clear there is no way they can reasonably claim to be unaware.

Disruption of any kind merits being warned (or blocked) by an administrator. Violating the principles of Wikipedia's behavior guidelines may prejudice the decision of administrators or the Arbitration Committee.

There are several types of gaming the system. The essence of gaming is the willful and knowing misuse of policies or processes. The following is an (incomplete) list of examples. Actions that are similar to the below, where there is no evidence of intent to act improperly, are usually not considered gaming.

Since Wikipedia is not a court of law, many legal procedures or terms have no bearing on Wikipedia. Typically, wikilawyering raises procedural or evidentiary points in a manner analogous to that used in formal legal proceedings, often using ill-founded legal reasoning. Occasionally wikilawyering may raise legitimate questions, including fairness, but often it serves to evade an issue or obstruct the crafting of a workable solution. For example, it is often impossible to definitely establish the actual user behind a set of sockpuppets, and it is not a defense that none of the sockpuppets which emerge were named in the request for arbitration.

Use of the term "gaming the system" should be done with caution, as it can be interpreted as an accusation of bad-faith editing. Although users might engage in the practices described above, that activity should not be considered proof of malicious intent. The actual level of intent should also be considered separately, as to whether the action was premeditated, or spur-of-the-moment, or merely copying an older tactic that seemed effective for other editors in the past. The term gaming the system is not meant to vilify those involved, with the word "gaming" also referring to playful activity in the manner of a game of sport. The goal is to focus on Wikipedia activities as a serious effort to improve articles, not an arena for playing games and sparring with opponents as a form of amusement. Judging intent might include discussions with others, rather than escalate the situation as an issue for direct confrontation. The situation might warrant special mediation (see WP:Mediation) or perhaps even, in extreme cases, formal arbitration (see WP:Arbitration). The risks of continued involvement should be carefully considered, especially if the intent seems overly severe or obsessive–compulsive behavior. However clear such an intent might subjectively seem, one should not cast aspersions about the mentalities or motivations of other editors. Wikipedia has a variety of noticeboards for dealing with problematic editing behavior, patterns of which tend to speak for themselves when properly diffed with evidence.

Abuse of process is related to gaming. It involves knowingly trying to use the communally agreed and sanctioned processes described by some policies, to advance a purpose for which they are clearly not intended. Abuse of process is disruptive, and depending on circumstances may be also described as gaming the system, personal attack, or disruption to make a point. Communally agreed processes are intended to be used in good faith.

What is "intent", consciously or otherwise, and what actually is "good"-enough-"faith" must also be clearly defined. Only then, the definers's power and status position must also be openly noted when making such any determinations. The common assumptions that what is claimed as "communally agreed" must include more than a select group, and thus is also a questionable number, perhaps unverifiable, and even if is said to be any legitimate majority of contributors – like those who were recently allowed to write on Wikipedia. Vague words of idealistic concepts are dangerous and may be misleading from what is then experienced in actuality when reading or writing on Wikipedia.