Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle

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The BOLD, revert, discuss cycle (BRD) is a method of reaching consensus. It can sometimes be useful for identifying objections, keeping discussion moving forward and helping to break deadlocks. Care and diplomacy should be exercised. Some editors will see any reversion as a challenge, so be considerate and patient.

Bold editing is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia. No editor is more welcome to make a positive contribution than you are. When in doubt, edit! Similarly, if you advance a potential edit on the article's talk page, and no response is received after a few days, go ahead and make your edit. Sometimes other editors are busy, or nobody is watching the article. An edit will either get the attention of interested editors, or you will simply improve the article—either is a good outcome.

Revert an edit if it is not an improvement, and it cannot be immediately fixed by refinement. Consider reverting only when necessary. BRD does not encourage reverting, but recognises that reverts will happen. When reverting, be specific about your reasons in the edit summary and use links if needed. Look at the article's edit history and its talk page to see if a discussion has begun. If not, you may begin one (see this list for a glossary of common abbreviations you might see).

Discuss the edit, and the reasons for the edit, on the article's talk page. Don't engage in back-and-forth reverts because that will probably be viewed as edit-warring. When the discussion has improved understanding, attempt a new edit that may be acceptable to all participants in the discussion.

General overview[edit]

It is often hard to find out who to talk with to gain consensus. By making a bold edit you attract the attention of people who are genuinely interested in a page, and have it on their watchlist. You can then discuss your issues with them. Compare Wikipedia:Consensus.
  • When to use:
While editing a particular page that many editors are discussing with little to no progress being made, or when an editor's concerns are not addressed on the talk page after a reasonable amount of effort.
  • How to proceed:
Discover the Very Interested Persons (VIP), and reach a compromise/consensus with each, one by one.
  1. BE BOLD, and make what you currently believe to be the optimal changes based on your best effort. Your change might involve re-writing, rearranging, adding or removing information.
  2. Wait until someone reverts your edit. You have now discovered a VIP.
  3. Discuss the changes you would like to make with this VIP, perhaps using other forms of Wikipedia dispute resolution as needed, and reach a consensus. Apply the consensus. When reverts have stopped and parties all agree, you are done.

What BRD is, and is not[edit]

Shortcut:
  • BRD (bold, revert, discuss) is most useful for pages where seeking consensus in advance of being bold would be difficult, perhaps because it is not clear which other editors are watching or sufficiently interested in the page, though there are other suitable methods. Bold editing is not, however, a justification for imposing one's own view or for tendentious editing without consensus.
  • BRD is a way for editors who have a good grasp of a subject to more rapidly engage discussion and is well suited to articles where a "discuss first" method of consensus is unlikely to lead to quick progress.
  • BRD is best used by experienced Wikipedia editors. It may require more diplomacy and skill to use successfully than other methods, and have more potential for failure. You can also try using it in less volatile situations, but take care when doing so. Some editors may invoke this process by name in the edit summary. This may help keep people from taking offense to a bold change; however, BRD is never a reason for reverting. Posting an edit that others may (strongly) disagree with, especially in a controversial area, has the potential to be seen as an act of provocation, so you're going to need to use all your tact to explain what you're aiming to achieve.
  • BRD is not a policy, though it is an oft-cited essay. This means it is not a process that you can require other editors to follow.
    • Note: "BRD" is commonly used to refer to the principle that a revert should not be reverted again until the changes have been discussed, as that could constitute edit warring. Avoiding edit warring is a policy that all editors must follow.
  • BRD is not a valid excuse for reverting good-faith efforts to improve a page simply because you don't like the changes. Don't invoke BRD as your reason for reverting someone else's work or for edit warring: instead, provide a reason that is based on policies, guidelines, or common sense.
  • BRD is not an excuse to revert any change more than once. If your reversion is met with another bold effort, then you should consider not reverting, but discussing. The talk page is open to all editors, not just bold ones.
    • Note: The first person to start a discussion is the person who is best following BRD.
  • BRD is not for reverting changes by different editors repeatedly over an extended period to protect your preferred version or ideas. No edit, regardless of how large it is, requires any prior discussion; however, large edits and any edits that are potentially controversial are often the targets of reverts, so—in the spirit of collaborative editing—prior discussion is often wise.
  • Note that BRD does not always work for moving articles (changing their titles) because sometimes these changes can only be reverted by administrators (the move leaves the old title as a redirect and only administrators can move a title to an existing redirect if the redirect page has been edited). Instead the requested moves process has to be used. So extra caution should be observed if a "bold" change of name is contemplated.

Cases for use[edit]

Consensus has gotten stuck. BRD to the rescue!

When other methods have failed, when cooperation has broken down, when it is not clear that a talk page request for discussion will generate any significant response, or when no editor is willing to make changes that might be perceived as controversial, BRD should be considered as an approach to achieving consensus. Examples cases for use include where:

Two factions are engaged in an edit war and a bold edit is made as a compromise or middle ground.
Warning: engaging in similar behavior by reverting a contribution during an edit war could be seen as disruptive and may garner sanctions. Never continue an edit war as an uninvolved party. A bold change during an edit war should be an adaptive edit to discourage further warring and not to escalate it; it should never be another revert.
Discussion has died out with no agreement being reached.
Discussion is a major part of BRD and must never be skipped. Doing so may be seen as disruptive. If you make a bold edit in regards to any material under discussion and you do not engage on the talk page, you are not applying BRD properly. Discussion is best applied as soon as a bold edit is made to encourage further talk, but is not required until your edit is questioned, either in an edit summary accompanying a revert, or at the discussion itself.
Active discussion is not producing results.
Editing is encouraged where a discussion may have gone nowhere. Add your contribution and see what happens. Be willing to collaborate and discuss further if your addition is removed.
Your view differs significantly from a rough consensus on an emotionally loaded subject.
Warning: new editors come to controversial articles often and make good faith contributions. Many times a rough consensus of editors has held for some time. A new edit may encourage more or fewer editors to support a particular direction. This can be a controversial move and can create disputes. Discussion and change in a civil manner are encouraged.
Local consensus is currently opposed to making any changes whatsoever (when pages are frozen, "policy", or high-profile)
When an article is deemed frozen by a group of editors, it creates an impression that the article is complete and no further edits are needed. This is not how Wikipedia works. A local consensus to freeze editing cannot override Wikipedia:Editing policy.

In general, BRD will fail if:

  • There is a (large) preexisting consensus in the general community against the specific change you'd like to make.
  • There is a preexisting dispute on the page, by editors with entrenched positions, and you are reigniting a debate that has achieved stalemate without consensus.
  • The page is protected. (You may request unprotection.)
  • The page is subject to some other access control. (Get the control lifted.)
  • You lose tempo.
  • A single editor is reverting changes because they believe they own the article.
  • Individuals who are disinterested revert bold changes.

BRD will be especially successful where...:

  • ... local consensus differs from global consensus, and your goal is to apply global consensus.
  • ... people haven't really thought things through yet.
  • ... people are only discussing policy, and are not applying reasoning or trying to negotiate consensus (see above under "haven't thought things through")
  • In short: boldly negotiate where no one has negotiated before.

Process[edit]

Making bold edits may sometimes draw a response from an interested editor – someone who may have the article on their watchlist. If no one responds, you have silent consensus to continue editing. If your edit is reverted, the BRD cycle has been initiated by the reverting editor.

After someone reverts your change, thus taking a stand for the existing version and/or against the change, you can proceed toward a consensus with the challenging editor through discussion on a talk page. While discussing the disputed content, neither editor should revert or change the content being discussed until a compromise or consensus is reached. Each pass through the cycle may find a new, interested editor to work with or, new issue being disputed. If you follow the process as it is intended each time, you should eventually achieve consensus with all parties. As such, BRD is in general not an end unto itself – it moves the process past a blockage, and helps get people get back to cooperative editing.

If the BRD process works ideally (sometimes it does not), people will after a time begin to refrain from outright reversion, and edits will start to flow more naturally.

Details[edit]

For each step in the cycle, here are some points to remember.

Bold[edit]

  • Stay focused: Make only changes you absolutely need to. A bold edit doesn't have to be a huge edit, and keeping your edit focused is more likely to yield results than making an over-reaching change.
  • Explain your changes before posting them: People often make an edit first, and then explain it on the talk page. This may result in some fast-off-the-hip reverter reversing you right while you are in the middle of composing a talk page explanation. To protect against this, reverse the order: first edit the talk page, and post your edit immediately afterward. This way, your explanation will be already present at the moment of the expected revert. Don't hesitate too long between the two actions though, as people tend to be accused of bad faith if they do that. Best of all, if the page is not highly active, you can prepare edits to the article and its talk page at the same time and save them near simultaneously without fear of an edit conflict.
  • Expect resistance—even hostility: Making changes to a high profile page or one in a contentious subject area where you think a revert or negative response is not unlikely may feel a bit like an act of deliberate disruption even when it's an obvious change for the better! However, if you follow the BRD cycle perfectly, most people will accept you, even if grudgingly. Do it carelessly and in a manner recommended against here, may get people upset or angry at you.

Revert[edit]

  • Before reverting, first consider whether the original text could have been better improved in a different way and then make that bold edit instead. The other disputant may respond with yet another bold edit. When you become involved in back-and-forth editing, it is wise to stop editing and promptly move to the next stage, "Discuss".
  • In the edit summary of your revert, include a link to WP:BRD to inform an editor of the method and your intent, and ask the other editor to discuss the issue on the article talk page. It might also be best to start a discussion yourself about the issue. People feel more cooperative if you let them know that you're willing to listen to their case for the change. Otherwise, a revert can seem brusque.
  • A revert of your revert may mean your edit broke an established consensus: Move to the next stage, "Discuss".
  • If your bold edit has been reverted, avoid re-reverting to reinstate your edit - leave that for someone else to do. Go to the talk page to learn why you were reverted, to try to get the reverting party to unrevert themselves, or to get them to make a similar edit to your bold edit.
  • Revert-wars do not help build consensus.
  • If people start making non-revert changes again, you are done: The normal editing cycle has been restored.

Discuss[edit]

  • Adhere to Wikiquette and civility guidelines: The easiest way to intensify this cycle and make it unbreakable is to be uncivil. Try to lead by example and keep your partner in the same mindset.
  • Talk with one or at most two partners at once. As long as the discussion is moving forward, do not feel the need to respond to everyone, as this increases the chance of discussion losing focus and going far afield. Stay on point and pick your responses. If discussion dies off, you can always go back and get yourself reverted again to find (or refind) other interested parties.
  • There is no such thing as a consensus version: Your own major edit, by definition, differs significantly from the existing version, meaning the existing version is no longer a consensus version. There is, consequently, no requirement that "the consensus version" or "the long-standing version" or any other version of the page be visible during discussion. If you successfully complete this cycle, then you will have a new consensus version. If you fail, you will have a different kind of consensus version.
  • Carefully consider whether "policy", "consensus", or "procedure" are valid reasons for the revert: These sometimes get overused on consensus-based wikis even though consensus can change. On the other hand, repeatedly rehashing old arguments without new reasoning might strike some editors as being disruptive (see also rehashing). It is OK to disagree with a past consensus, but use reasonable discretion when you want to revisit such issues. If you choose not to back off immediately, it will help if you:
    • Listen very carefully: You are trying to get the full and considered views of those who care enough to disagree with your edit. If you do not listen and do not try to find consensus, you are wasting everyone's time. You should not accept, "It's policy, live with it."
    • Be ready to compromise: If you browbeat someone into accepting your changes, you are not building consensus, you are making enemies. This cycle is designed to highlight strongly opposing positions, so if you want to get changes to stick both sides will have to bend, possibly even bow. You should be clear about when you are compromising and should expect others to compromise in return, but do not expect it to be exactly even.
  • Discuss on a talk page: Don't assume that an edit summary can constitute "discussion": There is no way for others to respond. You can use the article's talk page (preferred) or the editor's user talk page, but one or the other is the proper forum for the discussion component of the BRD cycle.

Bold (again)[edit]

  • Let the other editor apply agreed-upon changes. If they don't want to, that's okay, but be sure to offer. The offer alone shows deference and respect. If that editor accepts, (1) the history will show who made the change and the other editor will have control over the precise wording (keeping you from applying a change different from the one agreed upon). And, (2) such a policy prevents you from falling afoul of the three-revert rule.
  • Assume this revision will not be the final version. You do not have to get it all done in one edit. If you can find consensus on some parts, make those changes, and let them settle. This will give everyone a new point to build from. Having completed one successful cycle, you may also find it easier to get traction for further changes, or you may find you have reached a reasonable compromise and can stop.

Edit warring[edit]

  • Do not edit war. The BRD cycle does not contain another "R" after the "D". Discussion and a move toward consensus must occur before starting the cycle again. If one skips the Discussion part, then restoring one's edit is a hostile act of edit warring and is not only uncollaborative, but could incur sanctions, such as a temporary block. The objective is to seek consensus, not force one's own will upon other editors. That never works. If you encounter BRRD (bold, revert, revert...), do not escalate the situation to BRRRD.
  • However, don't get stuck on the discussion. Try to move the discussion towards making a new, and different Bold edit as quickly as possible. One should seek to have an iterative cycle going on the page itself where people "try this" or "try that" and just try to see what sticks best. Warning: Repetitively doing this can easily violate the (recently strengthened) 3RR policy and get good-faith editors blocked even during a productive editing exchange. Any such edits must be clear attempts to try another solution, not ones that have been tried and rejected. If you have reached three reverts within a 24 hour period (3RR bright-line rule), do not edit that content in any manner that reverts any content, in whole or in part, even as little as a single word, for over 24 hours. Doing so just past the 24-hour period could be seen as gaming the system and sanctions may still be applied.

Notes[edit]

  • If an issue is already under discussion or was recently discussed, people may take offense if you boldly ignore the discussion, especially if you make a change away from a version arrived at through consensus, to an earlier or suggested non-consensual version. Ignoring earlier consensus is in general not a wise approach!
  • Note that, due to the nature of Wikipedia being an open source platform where everyone can edit, a bold, revert, discuss cycle may sometimes begin naturally, without either editor even realizing it. Once begun, its purpose requires that no revert be reverted. If this happens, something akin to stalling an aircraft happens. If you're not feeling up to it, it might be best to walk away for a while. Unlike the immediate danger of an aircraft plummeting to the ground, Wikipedia will be here a long while, so don't panic; you can always come back later. Otherwise, if you have the energy and the time, use the suggestions on this page to "pull out". Then continue working as per consensus.
  • If you attempt to apply bold, revert, discuss two or more times in quick succession, you are in danger of violating the principle of seeking consensus, and you might just end up in a revert-war with the first responder. Take it one at a time.

See also[edit]