Wikipedia:Rollback

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Rollback is a feature of the MediaWiki software that runs Wikipedia. It allows the last user's consecutive edits on a given page to be undone with a single mouse click. On Wikipedia, rollback is used to undo problematic edits such as vandalism.

An editor with rollback rights sees a rollback button next to relevant revisions on their watchlist, in page histories and in certain other places. A single click on this button reverses the edit in question, as well as any other consecutive preceding edits made by the same user.

Rollback is available to all administrators and can be given to other users upon request, subject to the approval of an administrator. A user who has been assigned this right explicitly is called a rollbacker. There are currently 1,386 administrators and 5,127 rollbackers (6,513 total), not including global rollbackers who have been assigned the right across all Wikimedia projects.

Standard rollback may only be used in certain situations – editors who misuse standard rollback (for example, by using it to reverse good-faith edits in situations where an explanatory edit summary would normally be expected) may have their rollback rights removed. Since rollback is part of the core administrator tools, an admin could be stripped of their administrative privileges entirely to remove those tools.

How it works

Users with rollback have extra "rollback" links next to revisions on the recent changes page, page histories, diffs, user contribution pages, and their watchlist:

Clicking one of these links restores the page to the most recent revision that is not made by the revision's author. This appears in the page history with a generic summary that looks like this:

m Reverted edits by User A (talk) to last version by User B

A link to the reverted user's contribution history is provided, so that it may be easily checked for further problematic edits. It does not appear if you are reverting contributions done by a user whose username has been removed, the result being:

m Reverted edits by (username removed) to last version by User B

Note the following:

  • The rollback button appears only next to the most recent revision of a page.
  • If the page is edited again before you click the rollback link, you will get an error message instead.
  • You cannot choose which revision will be restored. It is always the last revision not made by the author of the most recent revision. This revision may be problematic too, so be careful.
  • If there are multiple consecutive edits to the page by the same author, they will all be reverted. To remove only some of them, you must revert the changes manually.
  • You cannot use rollback on a page which has only been edited by one person, as there would be nothing to revert to.
  • You cannot use rollback to restore a revision that has been deleted. Attempting to do so will display an error message.
  • Rollback happens immediately; there is no confirmation or preview (although a page is displayed allowing you to see the changes you have made).
  • Rollbacks are automatically marked as a "minor edit".

Note that methods exist for performing rollback with non-generic edit summaries – see the Additional tools section below.

When to use rollback

Standard rollback is a fast way of undoing problematic edits, but it has the disadvantage that only a generic edit summary is generated, with no explanation of the reason for the change. For this reason, it is considered inappropriate to use it in situations where an explanatory edit summary would normally be expected. Rollback may be used:

  • To revert obvious vandalism and other edits where the reason for reverting is absolutely clear
  • To revert edits in your own user space
  • To revert edits that you have made (for example, edits that you accidentally made)
  • To revert edits by banned users who are not allowed to edit (but be prepared to explain this use of rollback when asked to)
  • To revert widespread edits (by a misguided editor or malfunctioning bot) which are judged to be unhelpful to the encyclopedia, provided that an explanation is supplied in an appropriate location, such as at the relevant talk page[1]

Use of standard rollback for any other purposes – such as reverting good-faith changes which you happen to disagree with – is likely to be considered misuse of the tool. When in doubt, use another method of reversion and supply an edit summary to explain your reasoning.

The above restrictions apply to standard rollback, using the generic edit summary. If a tool or manual method is used to add an appropriate explanatory edit summary (as described in the Additional tools section below), then rollback may be freely used as with any other method of reverting.

As with other methods of reverting, when using rollback to restore text to a page, ensure that the text restored does not violate Wikipedia policies.

Administrators may revoke the rollback feature or issue a block in response to a persistent failure to explain reverts, regardless of the means used. However, they should allow the editor an opportunity to explain their use of rollback before taking any action – there may be justification of which the administrator is not aware (such as reversion of a banned user). Similarly, editors who edit war may lose the privilege regardless of the means used to edit war. Administrators who persistently misuse rollback may have their administrator access revoked, although in practice such would require the intervention of the Arbitration Committee.

Requesting rollback

To request rollback rights, ask at Wikipedia:Requests for permissions/Rollback or ask one of the administrators listed here. Any administrator may grant or revoke rollback rights, using the user rights page.

While there is no fixed requirement, a request is unlikely to be successful without a contribution history that demonstrates an ability to distinguish well-intentioned edits with minor issues from unconstructive vandalism. Also, it is unlikely that editors with under 400 mainspace edits will have their request granted.

If you have been granted rollback rights and are not sure how it works, you may wish to test it out here.

Accidental use of rollback

Because rollback only takes a single click, without asking for confirmation, even experienced users may sometimes accidentally click rollback when (for example) merely attempting to click on the page to scroll up or down. If this occurs, simply revert your edit manually, with an edit summary like "Self-revert accidental use of rollback".

If rollback is used accidentally instead of undo to revert a good faith edit, simply follow it with a dummy edit, with an edit summary like "Accidental use of rollback - reason for reversion". The reason for reversion, i.e., the reason for undoing the good faith edit, will then appear in the edit summary for the dummy edit instead of the edit summary for the rollback.

Note: it is possible to hide the [rollback] links at Special:Watchlist, which is the source of most accidental uses, while leaving [rollback] links available in other locations (e.g., diffs). See here for instructions.

Additional tools

It is also possible to use rollback with an explanatory edit summary (instead of the default or standard generic edit summary). Various editing tools let you do this; for example, see this list of tools. To do it manually, copy the URL of the rollback link, paste it into your browser's address bar, and append &summary= followed by your desired summary to the end of the URL.

Example diff showing both Twinkle (top line) and rollback (third line)

The patrolling tool Twinkle adds links in similar places to the "rollback" links, and also calls them "rollback". Anyone using both will see both types of "rollback" link, which can be a little confusing. Unlike rollback, Twinkle may be used by any autoconfirmed user. Other than this, the links are functionally the same, but differ in their choice of edit summaries. Twinkle also offers additional options.

See also

Notes