Wikipedia talk:Responding to threats of harm

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A related question

Should we be careful of including content that is seen as suicidal?

This relates to the article Etika, a YouTuber that committed suicide last week. He posted a video to his channel the night he disappeared, which clearly is filled with suicidal thoughts. It clearly does not show any attempt at suicide, just the prelude/motives to it. The video is well noted by the coverage, including some of the things he said, so not including the description of the video would be improper. But as the video was uploaded under the CC-BY license at YouTube, it is possible (and some user has already) included this video on the page. (We were prior only using a still image).

Is this video a problem under our concerns for issues related to suicide on WP? I'm just making sure - I know, for example, YouTube actually bars such videos being posted because of their concern others that are similarly suicidal will react from it. Does WP have a comparable consideration? --Masem (t) 22:17, 30 June 2019 (UTC)

Good question, tough question, Masem, but I don't think this is where to find an answer. Maybe start at VP? Of course if such a discussion yields new guidance, some of that we'd want to reflect here. EEng 23:13, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Suicide content in articles

At private WP:OTRS ticket:2019090110001034 a reader asks for an amendment to celebrity suicide Michael Hutchence. They make the argument that certain ways of talking about celebrity suicide encourage suicidal ideation.

This argument comes up a lot; I do not think we store these claims anywhere in particular. I do not know where to post this so I am posting here. Eventually we should develop a policy. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:53, 1 September 2019 (UTC)

I'm sure this has been discussed at length. NOTCENSORED and all, that, but I've always felt this is a special case. I can't think where to point you, however. Perhaps someone watching here will recall. EEng 05:01, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
Repinging this in the hope someone will have ideas as to where this can be raised. I think it's a discussion that needs to be had. EEng 00:32, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

What's a "true emergency"?

I added a hidden note here but I'll raise it here as well. We tell the reader not to try to make an evaluation as to whether a threat is real or not, but then later we say that the email address is for "true emergencies only". Those seem to pull in somewhat opposite directions. What exactly do we mean? Obviously we want the reader to err on the side of contacting, but what exactly is this saying? EEng 23:09, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

  • Agree. Self-contradicting. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:49, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
    Maybe the key is the gravity of what's being threatened (physical harm of some kind) without trying to evaluate the probability of it actually being carried out? So maybe instead of the current:
This address is only for true emergencies ...
we mean
This address is only for threats of real-world harm ...
But ruining someone's rep by posting their naughty photos could be real-world harm, so maybe we mean
This address is only for threats of physical harm ...
This address is only for threats of violence ...
This address is only for threats of physical violence ... (since I was once told that using the wrong pronoun was an act of violence)
but now I notice that actually nothing on the page says anything like those, just threat of harm (including self-harm), though over at ANI the header says threat of violence, suicide, etc (and it's possible I wrote that myself, or condensed it from something longer). So now I'm completely flummoxed. (Note: not a threat of self-harm.)
Maybe we need WMF guidance? Only thing is, the way things have been going, if we ask for help we might end up blocked for some crazy reason. EEng 00:08, 23 August 2019 (UTC)
  • @EEng: I think your first interpretation is correct. As I understand it, the bullet point is there because people kept sending non-emergency complaints to the emergency email address, e.g. issues with article content (see , the paragraph beginning with "Sometimes people misunderstand or misuse the system."). The idea is to be liberal about reporting threats of harm, but also be serious about directing less-serious complaints elsewhere. With that in mind, I don't see why we couldn't just repeat the line at the top: This address is only for threats of harm (including self-harm). As far as what constitutes "harm", I am also unsure—is it just physical harm, or does it also include things like blackmail or extortion? That would indeed be a question for the WMF. Mz7 (talk) 02:14, 2 September 2019 (UTC)
    I have implemented your brilliantly simple suggestion . That still leaves the question of what constitutes "harm" exactly, but as currently written it allows a broad interpretation, which is what we want in the absence of further guidance. If they're getting too many spurious emails, they can let us know here, I guess. EEng 05:00, 2 September 2019 (UTC)

Requested clarification: physical harm

Hi folks. The Trust & Safety team would like to ask for a tweak to this guideline to clarify the types of situations we handle via the [email protected] workflow. Specifically, we'd like the guideline to say that it is about threats of physical harm (including self-harm) - we're trying to avoid confusion that leads to things like "an article containing incorrect information harms my livelihood, I shall therefore email this emergency address!" (yes, really, we get those) or, less absurdly, "This on-wiki event is causing me psychological harm" (which is 100% a problem, but is not something we can handle via escalating to the police, as this workflow does, unless it involves threatened self-harm). I'd make the edit myself as staff, but since this is a guideline, we wanted to get consensus for the change. The exact changes we'd like to see made are:

  • If you see a threat of harm (including self-harm) --> "If you see a threat of physical harm (including self-harm)"
  • This address is for threats of harm (including self-harm) only. For other concerns, see Wikipedia:Contact us. --> "This address is for threats of physical harm (including self-harm) only. For other concerns, see Wikipedia:Contact us."

Kbrown (WMF) (talk) 21:31, 24 August 2020 (UTC)

Sounds like a no-brainer to me - obviously this page should not mislead readers about the kinds of situations in which they might or might not be able to obtain support by contacting this address. Regards, HaeB (talk) 00:45, 27 August 2020 (UTC)

Quality of advice

I find this page of variable quality. I followed its advice - remember, I am not qualified to judge what is serious/real/whatever so I am going to go for an urgent option if I am appalled by what I read. I found myself arguing with stewards whose main desire seemed to be to point out, in language unfathomable to nonexperts, that I was invoking the wrong procedure. Maybe the next time I see disgusting death threats, I just shouldn't bother? It's hassle for me and I am at work. Someone else might do it for me, I guess? Great. Thanks guys. I feel a lot like my username right now. DBaK (talk) 08:57, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

@DisillusionedBitterAndKnackered: I'm sorry you had to go through this. I can't really respond without knowing the specifics of your case, which of course you can't provide. The most important part of the advice on this page is to send the diffs to the WMF emergency email address, treating all claims as serious. Contacting administrators and stewards is generally secondary to that, but it exists because most threats of harm like this need to be hidden from public view per the revision deletion policy (WMF staff will defer the hiding to local administrators in most cases). The stewards generally won't take actions on the English Wikipedia unless there is a true emergency (e.g. an administrator account is compromised and is leaving death threats on the Main Page), so I suspect that is why you received some pushback—they will also want to defer to local administrators in most cases. Perhaps we should change the advice about contacting #wikimedia-stewards on IRC with that in mind. Mz7 (talk) 09:06, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for this. I know I thanked you at the time but I didn't want to / couldn't comment further on any of it. I have carefully stayed away from this for some time. I am delighted to see that the problematic parts of the page have now been sorted out and it makes much more sense; my very unfortunate experience simply could not now be replicated by someone following the instructions. Well done and thanks. Best wishes DBaK (talk) 09:49, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

Integrating this page with the "contact us" menu

 You are invited to join the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Contact us#Responding to threats of harm?. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 01:14, 12 June 2020 (UTC)

Section 3 is unclear, what's the recommended contact path?

First of all, there's no emergency. I'm not asking this as part of responding to any ongoing threat, it's just a concerned question.

Section 3 leaves the issue about how to contact admins a bit vague. It says not to use ANI and other big pages - understandibly so, but then how? How am I supposed to contact "administrators (plural) privately"? Do I... just pick a handful few from the list at random and post to their talk pages? The IRC is mentioned, but does that means it is the optimal and preferred way of notifying about emergencies?

In short, the text makes it really unclear about how to go about step 3, and unclarity is really not what an unfamiliar editor needs when human lives are on the line. So I'm asking if someone familiar with situations like this could perhaps explain it to me, and then reflect it in the article? Gaioa (T C L) 14:51, 9 March 2021 (UTC)

Gaioa, I would recommend joining the IRC channel #wikipedia-en-revdel connect as the primary method. The main reason we ask you to contact administrators is because oftentimes whenever a user is threatening physical violence, the threats need to be revision-deleted (i.e. redacted from the page history), and the user may need to be blocked, and administrators are best positioned to do these things, rather than the Wikimedia Foundation. The #wikipedia-en-revdel IRC channel is optimal for this because it is a private location specifically tailored for requesting revision deletion.
I would recommend IRC over your suggested alternative of posting on administrators' talk pages at random. Many editors put administrators' talk pages on their watchlists, so those talk pages are still a relatively visible location. If there is a particular administrator that you trust and is active, you could alternatively try emailing them using Special:EmailUser. If all else fails, you can also send an email to, which is the email address of the oversight team. Mz7 (talk) 18:53, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Mz7, Okay, thanks for the info. I updated the page in accordance with your advice. Gaioa (T C L) 08:36, 20 March 2021 (UTC)