Wikipedia:Dispute resolution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"WP:DR" redirects here. Many other pages have the initialism DR; if this policy is not what you are looking for, they are listed below.
"WP:Abuse Reporting" redirects here. It is not to be confused with WP:Abuse Reports.

This policy describes what to do when you have a dispute with another editor. See Wikipedia:Wikiquette and the essay Staying cool when the editing gets hot for more tips. Also please remember that Wikipedia is not about winning. In our unique Wikipedia context, a dispute raises a couple of questions: "What is to be done next? What is to be learned from this?"

The "dispute resolution" sidebar (right) has direct links to filing requests for many of the dispute resolution levels, but requesting dispute resolution involves different guidelines and application processes for each level. Dispute resolution requests can help familiarize you with each of them.

Resolving content disputes

"Wikipedia:Discussion" redirects here. For other uses, see Wikipedia:Talk and Category:Wikipedia discussion.

There are many methods on Wikipedia for resolving disputes. Most methods are not formal processes and do not involve third-party intervention. Respond to all disputes or grievances, in the first instance, by approaching the editor or editors concerned and explaining which of their edits you object to and why you object. Use the article talk page or their user talk page to do so; be civil, polite, and always assume good faith.

Follow the normal protocol

When you find a passage in an article that is biased or inaccurate, improve it if you can; don't delete salvageable text. For example, if an article appears biased, add balancing material or make the wording more neutral. Include citations for any material you add. If you do not know how to fix a problem, ask for help on the talk page.

To help other editors understand the reasoning behind your edits, always explain your changes in the edit summary. If an edit is too complex to explain in an edit summary, or the change is contentious, add a section to the talk page that explains your rationale. Be prepared to justify your changes to other editors on the talk page. If you are reverted, continue to explain yourself; do not start an edit war.

Discuss with the other party

Graham's hierarchy of disagreement: You must stay in the top three sections of this pyramid during disputes.
Further information: Wikipedia:Negotiation

Talking to other parties is not a mere formality, but an integral part of writing the encyclopedia. Discussing heatedly or poorly – or not at all – will make other editors less sympathetic to your position, and prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. Sustained discussion between the parties, even if not immediately successful, demonstrates your good faith and shows you are trying to reach a consensus. Try negotiating a truce or proposing a compromise through negotiation.

Do not continue edit warring; once sustained discussion begins, productively participating in it is a priority. Uninvolved editors who are subsequently invited into the dispute will be confused and alarmed if there are large numbers of reverts or edits made while discussion is ongoing.

Talk page discussion is a prerequisite to almost all of Wikipedia's venues of higher dispute resolution. If you wish at any time to request a Third Opinion (3O), use the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard (DRN), or open a request for mediation (RFM), you will be expected to show there has been talk page discussion of the dispute. Actual discussion is needed; discussion conducted entirely through edit summaries is inadequate. Requests for Comment generally require that at least an effort be made to discuss the matter in question before making the request.

Focus on content

Further information: Wikipedia:Editing policy
Shortcut:

Focus on article content during discussions, not on editor conduct; comment on content, not the contributor. Wikipedia is written through collaboration, and assuming that the efforts of others are in good faith is therefore vital. Bringing up conduct during discussions about content creates a distraction to the discussion and may inflame the situation.

Focussing on content, and not bringing up conduct, can be difficult if it seems other editors are being uncivil or stubborn. Stay cool! It is never to your benefit to respond in kind. When it becomes too difficult or exhausting to maintain a civil discussion based on content, you should seriously consider going to an appropriate dispute resolution venue detailed below; but at no juncture should you lose your temper. Wikipedia is not like the rest of the internet: we expect editors to be polite and reasonable at all times.

Disengage

Policy shortcut:

Most situations are not actually urgent; there are no deadlines on Wikipedia. At all stages during discussion, consider whether you should take a break from the dispute. Taking a deep breath and sleeping on it often helps. You can always return to the discussion later, but at least you will return without an inflamed temper.

Take a long-term view of the situation. You will probably be able to return and carry on editing an article when the previous problems no longer exist and the editor you were in dispute with might themselves move on. The disputed article will continue to evolve, other editors may become interested, and they will have different perspectives if the issue comes up again. Even if your position on the article is not accepted, it might be in the future.

Disengaging is particularly helpful when in dispute with new users, as it gives them a chance to familiarise themselves with Wikipedia's policies and culture. There are 4,608,584 articles on Wikipedia. Focus your contributions on another article, where you can more easily make constructive edits.

Resolving content disputes with outside help

Policy shortcut:

Moderated discussion

The Dispute resolution noticeboard (DRN) is place where editors involved in a content dispute can have a moderated discussion in an attempt to find compromise and resolution. DRN moderators are experienced Wikipedia volunteers who sometimes refer dispute participants to more appropriate dispute resolution venue(s).

Third opinion

Third opinions is an excellent venue for small disputes involving only two editors.

Request community input on article content

Request for comment (RfC) is a process to request community-wide input on article content. RfCs can be used when there is a content-related dispute, or simply to get input from other editors before making a change. To solicit responses from a large number of editors, RfCs can be publicized via noticeboards or relevant WikiProject talk pages. An RfC bot will also automatically notify the feedback request service pool of editors. RfC discussions related to article content take place on article Talk pages.

Noticeboards

Policy shortcut:

If your dispute is related to the application of a specific policy or guideline, you may wish to post in one of these noticeboards (below) to get input from uninvolved editors familiar with that topic.

For general content disputes:

Subject-specific help

Ask at a subject-specific Wikipedia:WikiProject talk page. Usually, such projects are listed on top of the article talk page.

Editor assistance

Editor assistance helps editors find someone experienced to provide one-on-one advice and feedback. While not a required part of dispute resolution, it is designed to help you understand how to clearly and civilly express your views and work toward consensus. You may request an assistant's help at any time, whether you're involved in dispute resolution or not. Assistants can also help you find the best way to resolve your dispute or issue.

Formal mediation

For more difficult disputes, you can request formal mediation from the Mediation Committee. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral person works with the parties and helps them reach a settlement. The mediator helps guide the parties into reaching an agreement that can be acceptable to everyone, and will be an experienced, impartial member of the committee. When requesting formal mediation, be prepared to show that you have tried to discuss the issues but not reached a consensus. Mediation is only for disputes about article content; do not try to use formal mediation to settle grievances about what another user said or did to you.

See Wikipedia:Requests for mediation#File if you wish to request formal mediation.

Resolving user conduct disputes

Policy shortcut:

The difference between a conduct and a content dispute is that, in a conduct dispute, the actions of a user (such as how an editor edits or the comments the editor makes about other users) is the overriding issue. If there would be no substantive dispute if the editor was not behaving in a disruptive or unprofessional way, then it is a conduct dispute; if the primary issue is that two editors cannot agree on what the content of an article should be, then it is a content dispute.

If the problem is with the editor's conduct, not their position on some matter of article content, then one of the following methods are the solution:

  • Requests for comment on user conduct (RFCU) is the main venue for resolving disputes about user conduct. Requests for comment on user conduct have minimum requirements that need to be satisfied: at least two users must have tried (and failed) to resolve the problem with the user on the user's talk page. Only use RFCU for long-running problems, not isolated instances of misconduct or suboptimal behaviour by another editor.
  • Ask an administrator to evaluate the conduct of the user. You can ask for an administrator's attention at a noticeboard such as the administrators' noticeboard for incidents (ANI). Conduct complaints that fall into certain sub-categories of misconduct have their own administrators' noticeboard; for example, complaints about edit warring must be made at the edit warring noticeboard and not to ANI. Administrators have wide latitude to use their permissions to stop misconduct and damage to the encyclopedia; for example, an editor who is making personal attacks, and does not stop when you ask them, may be warned by an administrator and subsequently blocked.

Sockpuppet investigations is for evaluating concerns that two users may be sockpuppets (editors who are operating two accounts pretending to be different people, or blocked editors returning under a different account). Requests for comment on usernames and usernames for administrator attention (UAA) are the main methods of bringing attention to usernames which may be inappropriate.

In all cases, and even in the face of serious misconduct, please try to act in a professional and polite manner. Turn the other cheek.

Sensitive issues and functionary actions

A small number of user conduct grievances involve sensitive or non-public information. These include issues where an arbitrator, checkuser, or oversighter has stated a privacy issue exists in the case, and disputes where there is a concern of a sensitive or private nature. For example:

  • Non-public details: Grievances where the relevant information and evidence are not accessible to all participants or to the community as a whole. This can also happen due to copyright or privacy reasons, BLP, or when the material is on an unsuitable external link.
  • "Outing" concerns: When discussion may in effect mean "outing", for example if there is a concern that a user is editing with a secret conflict of interest and the evidence would tend to identify them.
  • Serious matters: The issue involves legal concerns, harassment, or allegations that are very serious or perhaps defamatory.
  • Advice on divisive and sensitive issues: The issue may potentially be very divisive and advice is needed on how best to handle it (socking by an administrator is one example).

Disputes or issues of this kind should usually be referred to the functionaries mailing list or Arbitration Committee. In some cases it may be possible to seek advice from an uninvolved trusted administrator by IRC, email or other private means. Where an action is marked as CheckUser, Oversight, OTRS or Arbitration Committee, that action should not be reverted without checking beforehand. The presumption is that they have a good reason, and those aware of the reason may need time to recheck, consult, and respond. Sometimes the relevant talk page or other wiki pages will have more details and these are always a good first place to check.

Such actions, if disputed, should initially be raised (by email if necessary) with the agent or functionary concerned. Where a dispute about OTRS actions cannot be resolved in this manner, it should be referred to the OTRS administrators. Where a dispute about CheckUser and Oversighter actions cannot be resolved in this manner, it should be referred to the functionaries mailing list or the Audit Subcommittee where appropriate. Disputes about ArbCom actions should be referred to the Arbitration Committee.

Last resort: Arbitration

If you have taken all other reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, and the dispute is not over the content of an article, you can request arbitration. Be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute by other means. Arbitration differs from mediation in that the Arbitration Committee will consider the case and issue a decision, instead of merely assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If the issue is decided by arbitration, you will be expected to abide by the result. If the case involves serious user misconduct, arbitration may result in a number of serious consequences up to totally banning someone from editing, as laid out in the arbitration policy. Note that arbitration is normally for disputes about user conduct, while mediation is normally for disputes about article content.

For urgent situations

Some situations can be sufficiently urgent or serious that dispute resolution steps are not equipped to resolve the issue. Such situations can be forwarded to the appropriate venue.

To request or report: Go to:
Permanent deletion of personal information Wikipedia:Requests for oversight
Unblocking (if you are blocked) See the Guide to appealing a block
Vandalism of an article Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism
Blatantly inappropriate usernames, such as usernames that are obscene or inflammatory Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention
Suspected sockpuppetry Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations
Urgent violations of Wikipedia's policies on Personal Attacks Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents
Edit warring Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/3RR
Other urgent problems with a user's edits Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard

The administrators' noticeboards (e.g. AN and ANI) are not the place to raise disputes over content or conduct. Reports that do not belong at these noticeboards will be closed, and discussions will need to be re-posted by you at an appropriate forum – such as the dispute resolution noticeboard (DRN).

Words of caution

Dispute resolution is sometimes used by editors to try to game the system. This generally backfires badly. Remember that dispute resolution mechanisms are ultimately there to enable editors to collaboratively write an encyclopedia – not to win personal or political battles.

Under Wikipedia:Decisions not subject to consensus of editors, some disputes are resolved in different forums using those forums methods.

See also

Other pages with the initialism "DR"

WP:DR redirects here. You may also be looking for:

For dispute resolution requests, see Wikipedia:Dispute resolution requests.

For the dispute resolution noticeboard, see Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard.

For dispute resolution involving the Open-source Ticket Request System ("OTRS"), see our volunteer response team.

Related policies
Related guidelines
Related essays
Other pages related to this policy