Wikipedia:Don't edit war over the colour of templates

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Who cares?

Some things in this world are more important than others. For example, Hong Kong is more important than you, which is why Hong Kong has an article and you (probably) don't. A lot of time is expended explaining this to new users, so it should not be forgotten that a similar rule applies on a smaller scale.

In the context of the English Wikipedia, it is important whether or not the Main Page exists, which is why anyone who deletes it should and will be swiftly reverted and asked to explain themselves. It is also important to deal with articles that randomly accuse people of murder, and generally to avoid getting the Wikimedia Foundation sued out of existence.

Other issues, such as whether it is acceptable for users to remove warning messages from their user discussion pages, or whether we should have an article about every individual type of Pokémon, are significantly less important. While experimenting with and discussing new possibilities is always to be encouraged, becoming entrenched in a dispute over a such an issue is generally not constructive, and is to be avoided at all costs.

Somewhere near the bottom of the importance scale is the colour of template messages. Templates come in many colours, and the presence of one is generally recognized as desirable, so that the template is not invisible. However, anything written anywhere about the particular choice of colour is at best a recommendation; literal and pedantic interpretation of such guidelines, especially dated ones, is generally a bad idea. Nevertheless, people frequently change the colour of templates, and those who decided on the colour in the first place frequently have an irresistible urge to change it back. This is a widely recognized issue that exists everywhere, not only in Wikipedia, though it is possible that the wiki system makes things worse.

The colours used on the Main Page are recognized as standard, though even that only takes the form of a guideline, and the Main Page templates aren't templates in the usual sense anyway. While it's generally felt that for consistency, messages on talk pages should look like someone spilled coffee on them, this is by admission "not a firm policy" and merely "advised" for "new talk page templates". It was also decided on a long time ago, pre-dating many changes in template use as well as software changes such as ParserFunctions. Furthermore, it was decided by a vote, which is widely considered a bad idea and even evil by some.

Notwithstanding all of this, issues of template colour, such as whether {{talkarchive}} or {{shortcut}} should be brown or white when placed on a discussion page, have led to edit wars. Not only that, but edit wars by administrators—who should know better—on protected templates, as well as increasingly pedantic arguments about template colour spread across several pages. This doesn't achieve anything, except an eventual change (or lack of change) in favour of whoever decides to be the least civil and continue reverting the longest.

Therefore, don't edit war over the colour of templates.

In fact, don't revert such changes at all (provided they are not intentionally unconstructive). This does not, of course, mean that all discussion on the colour of templates is worthless. Standardization is generally a good thing. However, if an edit which changes the colour of a template (regardless of who made it) is reverted (regardless of who by), it should end there. Don't let the next edit be a revert of the revert, changing the colour again; not even if the other involved parties wander off. Extensive discussion of such changes, too, is to be discouraged—ideally, to be avoided completely—though a little explanation and statement of opinion never hurt anyone, and may be a good idea.

Indeed, it's better if you don't make the next move at all. Instead, wait for a genuine, constructive improvement to be made first, then you can think about changing the colour again. When the time comes around, chances are you'll be accustomed to the new colour and no longer care, or you'll have forgotten about the issue entirely. If you need something to do in the meantime, try improving the encyclopedia.

There's one caveat: colour contrast is of particular importance to people with poor vision, including those who are colourblind. Please preserve the accessibility of Wikipedia.

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