Wikipedia:Gaming the system

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

non-neutral point of view

If an editor finds a

misuse administrator tools, it should not be treated the same as a good-faith mistake. However, Wikipedia sanctions are meant to be preventative, not punitive
. 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 likely that they are gaming the system in bad faith.

The meaning of "gaming the system"

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 to document 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.

Gaming the system may include:

  • Wikilawyering, pettifogging, and otherwise using the letter of policy to violate the broader principles of the policy.
  • Filibustering the consensus-building process by reverting another editor for minor errors, or sticking to a viewpoint that the community has clearly rejected.
  • Attempting to twist Wikipedia sanctions or processes to harass other editors.

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.

Actions that game the system may also overlap with other policies:

  • Misusing Wikipedia processes in order to be intentionally invidious towards another editor, prove a point, or muddy the water in a dispute, can also be a form of gaming. However it is more often categorized as using Wikipedia to prove a point or abuse of process.
  • Using policies and guidelines to build (or push) a patently false case that some editor is editing in bad faith, with the "evidence" for this itself being an obviously unreasonable bad-faith interpretation of that person's action. This is more often categorized as a breach of the guideline to
  • If gaming is also knowingly used as a basis to impugn another editor or to mischaracterize them as bad-faith editors, then this may also violate the policy of
    no personal attacks

Disruption of any kind merits being warned (or

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.

Gaming the use of policies and guidelines

  1. Bad-faith
    – arguing the word of policy to defeat the principles of policy.
    Example: Posting a neutral notice that does not violate the policy on canvassing, while using a different set of notifications to lure a partisan audience to view that neutral notice.
  2. Playing policies against each other.
    Example: Saying you refuse to remove content that violates
    Wikipedia is not censored
    Example: Telling another user that by reverting your
    Vandalism is a listed exception to the 3-revert rule.
  3. Selectively "cherry-picking" wording from a policy (or cherry-picking one policy to apply, but willfully ignoring others) to support a view which does not in fact match or comply with policy.
    Example: Adding content that is restricted under the policy on what Wikipedia is not, while cherry-picking the words that "Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia" to evade those restrictions.
  4. Spuriously and knowingly claiming protection, justification, or support under the words of a policy, for a viewpoint or stance which actually contradicts policy.
    Example: Saying that content meets
    reliable, or the content twists the source's point of view. (See WP:Neutral point of view § Due and undue weight
  5. Attempting to force an untoward interpretation of policy, or impose one's own novel view of "standards to apply" rather than those of the community.
    Example: Presenting a Wikipedia essay that was written by a single editor as though it were a consensus policy.

Gaming the consensus-building process

  1. Stonewalling or filibusteringrepeatedly pushing a viewpoint with which the consensus of the community clearly does not agree, effectively preventing a policy-based resolution.
    Example: An editor refuses to accept a change unless some condition is complied with, but it is not a condition that has any basis in
    Wikipedia policies or guidelines
    Example: Editors reach a consensus, except one (or a
    ) insisting that the change sought violates some policy or other principle, in a way they cannot clearly demonstrate.
    See also the policy
  • Bad-faith negotiating – Luring other editors into a compromise by making a concession, only to withhold that concession after the other side has compromised.
    Example: An editor negotiates a consensus to remove
    well-verified material
    from one article, because it is already covered in a second article. Afterward, the editor deletes the material from the second article.
    Example: Editors reach a consensus. The author of the final agreed text is supposed to post it, but never does. Weeks later, a second editor tires of waiting and posts a modified version, which the first editor immediately reverts.
    Example: An editor withholds agreement to a change unless additional, more satisfactory sources are provided, but declares all the new sourcing to be unsatisfactory despite the citation work clearly fulfilling the