Unlike most other WMF wikis, Commons does not adhere to Ignore all rules ("IAR"). However, it is still understood that rules are not entirely rigid. IAR normally means "if a rule (policy or guideline) prevents you from improving or maintaining the wiki, ignore it." It stems from this edit 17:21, 17 April 2002 (UTC).
While IAR is not a policy or guideline on Commons, and thus policies generally have to be followed, the community here has a relatively weaker "be flexible" approach, analogous to our general rejection of the widespread wiki aphorism "be bold". It's more like "don't get hung up on the technicalities of internal Commons rules when following them slavishly would clearly be detrimental to the project," but that's a lot more of a mouthful.
What is and is not appropriate
- Ignoring a particular rule must be justified by an application of common sense and/or broader principles of our policies and guidelines.
- If you disagree with a rule, propose to have it removed or refined instead of unilaterally invoking IAR.
- Commons users may not ignore copyright laws or any other external constraints placed on the project. If there is significant doubt that a file is freely licensed, it must be deleted.
- Commons is not Wikipedia. While most of the rules on Wikipedia are internal in origin, designed with a better encyclopedia in mind, most of the rules on Commons are external in origin, designed to comply with the law. You will generally see IAR invoked far less often on Commons than on Wikipedia as a result.
When you ignore rules, you do so at your own risk
IAR/be flexible is not a general protection from being sanctioned. When you ignore a rule on this basis, your conduct is subject to review and even sanctions up to and including removal of privileges (e.g. filemoving, adminship), or even having your account blocked. If your conduct is discussed, and there is a general consensus that you did the right thing, fine. But if you go out on this limb, don't be surprised if it breaks off behind you. You should ignore rules only when you are confident that by doing so you are acting in accord with community consensus, that you are simplifying what would otherwise be a complex process to arrive at the same result. Do not ignore rules just because you don't like the rule, don't like a longstanding consensus, or just generally prefer to take matters into your own hands instead of engaging in discussions.