Wikipedia:Revert only when necessary
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines.|
|This page in a nutshell: Discussion is often more preferable than reverting. Avoid edit warring.|
A revert is to undo a certain change made by one or more editors in the past. There are several tactics used by some editors in their attempts to facilitate better talk page discussion and to avoid edit warring.
Revert wars are considered harmful (the Three-Revert Rule)
High-frequency reversion wars make the page history less useful, waste space in the database, make it hard for other people to contribute, and flood recent changes and watchlists. Wikipedia policy forbids anyone from reverting any single article more than three times in the same day, with certain exceptions. This is a strict limit, not a given right; you should not revert any one article more than three times daily. Violation of this rule may lead to protection of the page on the version preferred by the non-violating party; blocking; or investigation by the Arbitration Committee. Usage of sock puppets attempting to circumvent this rule does not prevent a violation. See Wikipedia:Three revert rule for details on this.
Reverting drives away editors
Reverting tends to be hostile, making editing Wikipedia unpleasant. Sometimes this provokes a reciprocal hostility of re-reversion. Sometimes it also leads to editors departing Wikipedia, temporarily or otherwise, especially the less bellicose. This outcome is clearly detrimental to the development of Wikipedia. Thus, fair and considered thought should be applied to all reversions given all the above.
Being reverted can feel a bit like a slap in the face — "I worked hard on those edits, and someone just rolled it all back". However, sometimes a revert is the best response to a bad edit, so we can't just stop reverting. What's important is to let people know why you reverted. This helps the reverted person because they can remake their edit while fixing whatever problem it is that you've identified. Obviously it is best to fix the problem and not revert at all.
Explaining reverts also helps other people. For example, it lets people know whether they need to even view the reverted version (in the case of, e.g., "rv page blanking"). Because of the lack of paralanguage online, if you don't explain things clearly people will probably assume all kinds of nasty things, and that's how edit wars get started.
If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in the edit summary, drop a note on the Talk page. A nice thing to do is to drop the note on the Talk page first, and then revert (referencing the talk page in your edit summary), rather than the other way round. Sometimes the other person will agree with you and revert for you before you have a chance. Conversely, if someone reverts your change without apparent explanation, you may wish to wait a few minutes to see if they explain their actions on the article's talk page or your user talk page, or contact the editor and ask for the reason for their revert. Do not engage in discussions in edit summaries. Doing so is a hallmark of edit warring; instead, stop editing and use the talk page.
Avoiding or limiting your reverts
Having realized that article development has ground to a halt because of incessant reversions, two or more people agree to give higher-than-usual respect to each other's edits. Unlike the three-revert rule, these rules are usually voluntary and self-enforced. For cases where they are imposed as restrictions, see Other revert rules in the edit warring policy.
Some editors may choose to voluntarily follow a one-revert rule: If you revert a change and someone re-reverts it, discuss it with the re-reverter rather than reverting it a second time.
Sometimes, users may be limited to one revert by the Arbitration Committee or by the community per the editing restrictions guidance. In other cases, articles or entire topics may be placed under a standing 1RR restriction.
Editors may also choose to adhere to a zero-revert rule, for example:
"Only revert obvious vandalism. Instead of removing or reverting changes or additions you may not like, add to and enhance them while following the principle of preserving information and viewpoints. If you can't figure out how any part of an edit benefits an article ask for clarification on the article's or the editor's discussion page."
Using a zero-revert rule gives fellow editors the benefit of the doubt in all cases. Even in instances where you know the other editor's viewpoint is dead wrong, the fact that some people have this viewpoint can be relevant in itself, and their contributions might be expandable into a useful addition to the article. This rule can be very difficult for some to follow in practice and may sometimes require some creative editing.
Editors with this pledge choose to voluntarily follow the rule that if someone reverts any change or theirs, they don't re-revert it, but discuss it with them. (See Proposal.)
- Wikipedia:Harmonious editing club
- Wikipedia:Pruning article revisions – essay about reducing revisions
- Wikipedia:Restoring part of a reverted edit
- Wikipedia:Don't revert due to "no consensus"