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|This guidance essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors. It is not a Wikipedia policy or guideline, though it may be consulted for assistance. A potential measure of how the community views this essay may be gained by consulting the history and talk pages, and checking What links here.|
This page represents some personal reflections. Over time, I may make it more coherent. It goes without saying that this is not an official anything of Wikipedia. Please feel free to discuss anything I say on the talk page.
Minor edits and reverts
Fixing a typo, or making some other small-scale edit that doesn't change the content of the article? Go ahead, be bold. But, your bold edit may get reverted. What then? I recommend the strategy of Be bold, revert, discuss. That means that after having been bold, and made your small edit, someone reverted you. Instead of redoing your edit, go to the talk page and discuss the matter. Usually copyedit-type changes are not controversial, but if someone reverted you, it's likely that there's something going on-- perhaps you've stumbled into an old fight, or it's not really a typo, or some other editor has a different style. So go to the talk page, and make your case, let others make their case, and once consensus emerges, go with that.
Generally, I like to try out bigger edits on the talk page first. This practice is especially important if what you are adding is someone controversial, changes some important part of the article, or is not obvious. In this case the strategy is discuss, edit according to consensus, no need to revert.
Consensus: It can go against you!
But what if consensus goes against you, either on a minor edit or a major one? Indeed, what if the consensus is simply wrong? Don't edit war. You can try to argue a bit more, especially if you can find new support for your position, but don't beat a dead horse. Perhaps the best bet is to continue to hang around the article, making other contributions, and if someone else brings up the old question, add your opinion there. If the question keeps coming up, with no change in the consensus, then be aware that the question may annoy your other editors.
No consensus despite a majority
Merely because a question has a majority for a given outcome is not an indication of consensus. Consensus is not a vote. I really cannot give a good description of what admins will look for in consensus, since I am not an admin myself, but I can say that if there is a good deal of dispute and argument on both sides, the result really is "no consensus", rather than "yes" or "no". If you were advocating a change, then "no consensus" will probably mean that your change won't happen, even if there was no consensus against it.