Headless Chicken Mode

From Rationalwikiwki

Headless Chicken Mode is RationalWiki’s response to stress.


Other Wikis

While some Wikis have wimpish “Conflict Resolution Systems” or fascist “Hierarchies of Command” to resolve internal problems, the valiant RationalWikians will have none of it.

The experience of Wikipedia itself, which sometimes seems to be in an almost constant state of Headless Chicken Mode despite having an elaborate conflict resolution system, might suggest that it doesn't really matter much anyway.


In their place they have “Headless Chicken Mode” (HCM). This mode can be invoked in one of two ways. The traditional method involved almost any sarcastic comment by TK. This was guaranteed to get stalwarts such as AmesG and Human up in arms, and equally certain to get those whom The Great Manipulator had been grooming to spring to his defense.

After the (temporary?) departure of TK, HCM was more usually engaged following any debate which involved religion in some way.

Reasons for headless chicken mode

Reasons are many and varied.

The main reason is an administrative crisis of some sort - trying to figure out how to apply RW's rather nebulous guidelines, usually after someone has taken action others consider to be too severe. This usually followed by much debate, some of it even on-topic. Goats and the Ghost of TK are invoked, and after the dust settles, nothing has changed.

Another factor is Lulz. Lulz is the use of humor of various kinds, and sometimes involves rationalwikians making fun of each other. It’s always a bit tricky as perpetrators cannot see the reactions of victims. Then things go wrong and resentment which others didn’t know about gets out of hand.


Interesting examples of Headless Chicken Mode can be found in the The Great TK banning Incident and The "Kip the Dip" Incident.


Headless Chicken Mode (HCM), like DEFCON, has a number of levels.

  • HCM1 – example: any discussion in community standards. People remain friends, but debate is endless and ultimately fruitless.
  • HCM2 – example: any discussion in which TK claims there is a conspiracy against him. People take sides but nobody leaves. (Possibly an obsolete level.)
  • HCM3 – example: any discussion in which people make comments about religion. Feelings are hurt; questions about the meaning of the word “rational” are raised by all parties. The moral high ground is demanded by all and all have an equal sense of being badly used.
  • HCM4 – example: a malicious block. Feelings are even more hurt. The word “disappointed” gets used a lot. Departures are threatened or take place. People disappear from the Wiki for a time or go very quiet. The phrase,“ You have private ####” begins to sound like a death threat. Something similar to, “I know where you live” said in the menacing accent of your choice.
  • HCM5 – This mode has not yet been reached. Violent differences of opinion come to the surface. Many users leave and do not return. Sysops resign. Some articles catch fire.
  • HCM6 – This mode has not yet been reached. Irreconcilable differences appear. YEC’s take over all the articles. Tmtoulouse gives up power and the Wiki is forked with one part being taken over by TK and the other by Andrew Schlafly.HeartOfGold returns in triumph.
  • HCM7 – This mode has not yet been reached. The intertubes themselves become involved in the debate. Violent confrontations erupt in Wikipedia. Servers crash worldwide and data flows are totally disrupted as frantic rationalists fight to set up new homes. Rumors about Satan taking over the internet begin to circulate.
  • HCM8. - This mode has not yet been reached. Satan gains power over the internet. Goats become extinct. The stock market crashes. George Bush becomes a Muslim. Paris Hilton becomes a nun.
  • HCM9 – this mode has not yet been reached. World War three begins. Nuclear weapons are launched indiscriminately. The banking system is severely damaged. Mike Huckabee is elected.
  • HCM10 – this mode has not yet been reached. Reality itself ceases to exist in any recognizable form, and Conservapedia is accepted as the only source of wisdom.
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