Wikipedia:What does "per" mean?

Frequently, on several of our process pages, people make comments containing the word per, such as:

"Merge per WP:CUTS"
"Delete per nom"
"Oppose per User:Example"

Among new users, there is the occasional confusion about what the word per means and implies. It is a Latin term meaning literally 'through' or 'by means of'. In the example expressions, it conveys 'because of the rationale presented at/by'.

Note that comments that are only per something are generally considered arguments to avoid. (See WP:PERNOM and WP:JUSTAPOLICY.)

Per an acronym or linkEdit

Wikipedia editors often abbreviate the name of frequently referenced policies, guidelines and essays. These abbreviations often take the form of either a series of capital letters (e.g. "NPOV"), which may be prefixed by "WP:". (When using the prefix "WP:", the page can be linked, like so: WP:NPOV.)

Editors sometimes refer to these pages by writing per and then the page.

For example, "Merge per WP:CUTS" means either:

"In my opinion we should merge this, for the reasons explained in WP:CUTS."


"I interpret WP:CUTS as recommending this course of action be taken, and furthermore I think that the current version of WP:CUTS provides a good principle on which to base choices in matters like this one."

It is sometimes misunderstood as, but specifically does not mean, the following:

"WP:CUTS is official policy and therefore it is mandatory to merge this."

Now, "WP:CUTS isn't policy!" is not the proper way to go about such a challenge. It would be only a straw man argument. WP:CUTS might not be a policy, but it is still a reason. You are free to disagree, to debate, to provide your own reason – with or without reference to any other page – or to challenge the referenced WP:CUTS contents. Moreover, Wikipedia has a rule about ignoring all the rules, so you can do the same even if WP:CUTS in fact is a policy.

This kind of straw-manning is particularly common when someone says per a page that is a Wikipedia essay rather than a policy or guideline: "But that's just an essay!" This is a wrong-headed, "noob" argument. When an experienced editor mentions an essay, it means "The reasoning I'm relying on has been written down already at this page, and I'm saving everyone the tedium of me typing it all out again here." This is explicitly what Wikipedia community essays exist for. "That's just an essay" is a non-argument, a handwave, that doesn't address the substance of the reasoning provided at the essay and how it may (or possibly may not) apply to the case at hand. That said, if there is a valid policy or guideline reason to so something and an essay argument against it, the former position is almost always stronger.

Per another editorEdit

During discussions, editors sometimes endorse other opinions. Editors do this by writing per Someone. "Someone" could be the username of another editor or "nom", which refers to the nominator. (In a deletion discussion, the user initially starting the deletion discussion.)

"Oppose per User:Example" means the following:

"User:Example makes a good argument, and I'm going to recommend the course of action because I substantially agree with the bulk of what they said."

See alsoEdit