Wikipedia:Edit warring

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For edit wars between Wikipedia administrators, see WP:Wheel warring.
"WP:EW" redirects here. To report editors who are edit warring, please see the Edit warring noticeboard.
Wikipedia page history showing a severe edit war[1]

An edit war occurs when editors who disagree about the content of a page repeatedly override each other's contributions, rather than trying to resolve the disagreement through discussion. Edit warring is unconstructive and creates animosity between editors, making it harder to reach a consensus. Users who engage in edit wars risk being blocked or even banned. Note that an editor who repeatedly restores his or her preferred version is edit warring, whether or not the edits were justifiable: it is no defense to say "but my edits were right, so it wasn't edit warring".

There is a bright line known as the three-revert rule (3RR). A revert means undoing the actions of another editor. The 3RR says an editor must not perform more than three reverts, in whole or in part, whether involving the same or different material, on a single page within a 24-hour period. Any appearance of gaming the system by reverting a fourth time just outside the 24-hour slot is likely to be treated as a 3RR violation. There are certain exemptions to 3RR, such as reverting vandalism or clear violations of the Biographies of living persons policy; see below for details. The three-revert rule is a convenient limit for occasions when an edit war is happening fairly quickly, but it is not a definition of what "edit warring" means, and it is perfectly possible to edit war without breaking the three-revert rule, or even coming close to doing so.

What edit warring is

Wikipedia encourages editors to be bold, but while a potentially controversial change may be made to find out whether it is opposed, another editor may revert it. This is known as the bold, revert, discuss (BRD) cycle. An edit war only arises if the situation develops into a series of back-and-forth reverts. Nevertheless, not every revert or controversial edit is regarded as edit warring:

When reverting, be sure to indicate your reasons. This can be done in the edit summary and/or talk page. Anti-vandalism tools such as Twinkle, Huggle and rollback should not be used to undo good-faith changes in content disputes without an appropriate edit summary.

The three-revert rule

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Editors who engage in edit warring are liable to be blocked from editing to prevent further disruption. While any edit warring may lead to sanctions, there is a bright-line rule called the three-revert rule (3RR), the violation of which often leads to a block.

The three-revert rule states:

A "page" means any page on Wikipedia, including talk and project space. A "revert" means any edit (or administrative action) that reverses the actions of other editors, in whole or in part, whether involving the same or different material. A series of consecutive saved revert edits by one user with no intervening edits by another user counts as one revert.

The three-revert rule applies per person, not per account; reverts made by multiple accounts operated by one editor count together. Editors violating 3RR will usually be blocked for 24 hours for a first incident. Even without a 3RR violation, an administrator may still act if they believe a user's behavior constitutes edit warring, and any user may report edit warring with or without 3RR being breached. The rule is not an entitlement to revert a page a specific number of times.

If an editor violates 3RR by mistake, they should reverse their own most recent reversion. Administrators may take this into account and decide not to block in such cases—for example if the user is not a habitual edit warrior and is genuinely trying to rectify their own mistake.

3RR exemptions

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The following actions are not counted as reverts for the purposes of 3RR:

  1. Reverting your own actions ("self-reverting").
  2. Reverting edits to pages in your own user space, so long as you are respecting the user page guidelines.
  3. Reverting actions performed by banned users, and sockpuppets of banned and blocked users.
  4. Reverting obvious vandalism—edits that any well-intentioned user would agree constitute vandalism, such as page blanking and adding offensive language.
  5. Removal of clear copyright violations or content that unquestionably violates the non-free content policy (NFCC). What counts as exempt under NFCC can be controversial, and should be established as a violation first. Consider reporting to the Wikipedia:Non-free content review noticeboard instead of relying on this exemption.
  6. Removal of other content that is clearly illegal under US law, such as child pornography and links to pirated software.
  7. Removal of libelous, biased, unsourced, or poorly sourced contentious material that violates the policy on biographies of living persons (BLP). What counts as exempt under BLP can be controversial. Consider reporting to the BLP noticeboard instead of relying on this exemption.

Considerable leeway is also given to editors reverting to maintain the quality of a featured article while it appears on the main page.

If you are claiming an exemption, make sure there is a clearly visible edit summary or separate section of the talk page that explains the exemption. When in doubt, do not revert. Instead, engage in dispute resolution, and in particular ask for help at relevant noticeboards such as the Edit war/3RR noticeboard.

Other revert rules

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Additional restrictions on reverting are sometimes imposed on particular editors and/or particular pages, by ArbCom or under administrator enforcement, or by the community (see Editing restrictions and General sanctions). These may be phrased using such terms as 1RR ("one-revert rule") or 0RR ("zero-revert rule"). A "one-revert rule" is often analogous to the three-revert rule as described above, with the words "more than three reverts" replaced by "more than one revert". Often there is also a requirement to discuss each of the reversions on the talk page, and sometimes the words "24-hour period" are also replaced by "1 week". A zero-revert rule means a complete prohibition on reverts (as defined for the purposes of the three-revert rule). Editors can also voluntarily agree to abide by a stricter standard on reverting such as 1RR or 0RR, either in response to problems in a particular area, or as a general editing philosophy. For more details, see Wikipedia:Revert only when necessary.

Handling of edit-warring behaviors

What to do if you see edit-warring behavior

If an edit war develops, participants should try to discuss the issue on the talk page and work things out.

It is better to seek help in addressing the issue than to engage in edit warring. When disagreement becomes apparent, one, both, or all participants should cease warring and discuss the issue on the talk page, or seek help at appropriate venues. Other alternative approaches recommended within the community are suggested below.

If, despite trying, one or more users fail to cease edit warring, refuse to work collaboratively or heed the information given to them, or do not move on to appropriate dispute resolution, then a request for administrative involvement via a report at the Edit war/3RR noticeboard is the norm. A warning is not required, but if the user appears unaware that edit warring is prohibited, they can be told about this policy by posting a {{uw-3rr}} template message on their user talk page. Avoid posting a generic warning template if actively involved in the edit war; it can be seen as aggressive. Consider writing your own note to the user specifically appropriate for the situation, with a view to explicitly cooling things down.

How experienced editors avoid becoming involved in edit wars

Once it is clear there is a dispute, avoid relying solely on edit summaries and discuss the matter on the article's talk page, which is where a reviewing admin will look for evidence of trying to settle the dispute. It may help to remember that there is no deadline and that editors can add appropriate cleanup tags to problematic sections under current discussion. When discussion does not produce a conclusion, bringing wider attention to a dispute can lead to compromise. Consider getting a third opinion or starting a request for comments. Neutral editors aware of the dispute will help curb egregious edits while also building consensus about the dispute. If these methods fail, seek informal and formal dispute resolution.

Some experienced editors deliberately adopt a policy of only reverting edits covered by the exceptions listed above, or limiting themselves to a single revert; if there is further dispute, they seek dialog or outside help rather than make the problem worse, i.e., they revert only when necessary. This policy may be particularly appropriate for controversial topics where views are polarized and emotions run high, resulting in more frequent edit warring.

The bottom line: use common sense, and do not participate in edit wars. Rather than reverting repeatedly, discuss the matter with others; if a revert is necessary, another editor may conclude the same and do it (without you prompting them), which would then demonstrate consensus for the action. Request page protection rather than becoming part of the dispute by reverting.

Administrator guidance

Administrators decide whether to issue a warning or block; these are intended to prevent, deter and encourage change in disruptive behavior, not to punish it. Where a block is appropriate, 24 hours is common for a first offense; administrators tend to issue longer blocks for repeated or aggravated violations, and will consider other factors, such as civility and previous blocks. Where multiple editors edit war or breach 3RR, administrators should consider all sides, since perceived unfairness can fuel issues. According to WP:Administrators, "Administrators should not use their tools to advantage, or in a content dispute (or article) where they are a party (or significant editor), or where a significant conflict of interest is likely to exist."

Further reading

See also

References

  1. ^ Edit history of Portal:Pope/Intro from February-April 2009