|This page documents a Wikipedia policy with legal considerations.
|This page in a nutshell: If you post a legal threat on Wikipedia, you are likely to be blocked indefinitely. A polite report of a legal problem, such as defamation or copyright infringement, is not a threat and will be acted on quickly.
Do not post legal threats on Wikipedia. A legal threat, in this context, is a threat to engage in an off-wiki ("real life") legal or other governmental process that would target other editors or Wikipedia itself. It does not refer to any dispute-resolution process within Wikipedia. Legal threats should be reported to Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents or elsewhere to an administrator. Users who post legal threats are typically blocked while the threats are outstanding.
That a legal dispute exists between users, whether as a result of incidents on Wikipedia or elsewhere, is not a valid reason to block, as long as no legal threats are made on Wikipedia. Editors involved in a legal dispute should not edit articles about parties to the dispute, given the potential conflict of interest.
What is not a legal threat
Complaints of copyright infringement is not a legal threat. If you are the owner of copyrighted material that has been added to Wikipedia, a statement about whether it is licensed for such use is welcome. You may contact the information team or the Wikimedia Foundation's designated agent, or use the procedures at Wikipedia:Copyright problems.
A discussion as to whether material is libelous is not a legal threat. Wikipedia's policy on defamation is to delete libelous material as soon as it is identified. If you believe that you are the subject of a libelous statement, email the information team at info-en-qwikipedia.org.
Conflict of interest
Perceived legal threats
Refrain from making comments that others may understand as a threat. For example, if you repeatedly assert that another editor's comments are "defamatory" or "libelous", that editor might interpret it as a threat. Instead, use less charged wording, such as "that statement about me is false and damaging, and I ask that it be corrected."
Posting legal threats on Wikipedia is uncivil and can cause problems:
- It inhibits free editing, risking one side of a dispute intimidating the other and causing a systemic bias.
- It creates bad feelings and lack of trust, making it difficult to assume good faith.
Using dispute resolution processes will often lead to a solution without resorting to the law.
Conclusion of legal threat
The Wikipedia community has a long-standing principle that people can change: statements made in anger or misjudgment should not be held against once withdrawn.
The aim is to prevent legal threats, not to keep bad content from being fixed. Editors should encourage the aggrieved user to identify errors in the article; a link to Wikipedia:Contact us/Article problem/Factual error (from subject) may be appropriate.
A user threatening a legal action on their talk page have limited scope for disruption. They should not be prevented from using their talk page until attempts have been made to open a civil discussion. Persistent or vexatious complaints may still lead to a ban.