Memory Alpha  AboutPolicies and guidelines → Use common sense
Memory Alpha
This page describes one of Memory Alpha's policies and guidelines.

Please read through the policy below to familiarize yourself with our common practices and rules.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please post them on the talk page.

Memory Alpha has many rules. Instead of following every rule, it is acceptable to use common sense as you go about editing. Being too wrapped up in rules can cause you to lose perspective, so there are times when it is better to ignore a rule.

Even if a contribution "violates" the precise wording of a rule, it might still be a good contribution. Similarly, just because something is not forbidden in a written rule, or is even explicitly permitted, doesn't mean it's a good idea in every situation (for example, do not disrupt Memory Alpha to prove a point). The spirit of the rules is more important than the letter. Our goal is to improve Memory Alpha so that it better informs readers. Being able to articulate "common sense" reasons why a change helps the archive is good, and Archivists should not ignore those reasons because they don't cite other policies. The principle of the rules – to make Memory Alpha thrive – is more important than the letter. Archivists must use their best judgment.

Invoking the principle of ignore all rules on its own will not convince anyone that you were right, so you will need to persuade the rest of the community that your actions improved the archive.

There is no common sense

When advancing a position or justifying an action, base your argument on existing agreements, community foundation issues, and the interests of the archive, not your own common sense. Exhorting another Archivist to "just use common sense" is likely to be taken as insulting, for good reasons. If in a particular case you feel that literally following a rule harms the archive, or that doing something which the rules technically allow degrades it, then instead of telling someone who disagrees to use common sense, just focus on explaining why ignoring the rules in that instance will improve Memory Alpha.

Be careful about citing this principle too aggressively. While it's quite acceptable to explain your own actions by saying, "it seemed like common sense to me," you should be careful not to imply that other Archivists are lacking in common sense, which may be seen as uncivil. Memory Alpha Archivists come from diverse ethnic, political, cultural, and ideological backgrounds and have vastly different perceptions. Other Archivists are likely to ascribe very different meanings and values to words and concepts than you, so try to state your arguments as fully as possible. Citing concrete policies and guidelines is likely to be more effective than simply citing "common sense" and leaving it at that.

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