Wikipedia talk:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle

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Wikipedia Revert Essay (was Policy)[edit]

The WP:CYCLE page says: "Revert an edit if it is not an improvement, and it cannot be immediately fixed by refinement."

The WP:ONLYREVERT page says: "Don't revert an edit because it is unnecessary — because it does not improve the article. For a reversion to be appropriate, the reverted edit must actually make the article worse."

Reverting policy is fundamental to Wikipedia's operation. I propose that the written policy, at least, should be consistent. How say you? 50.48.205.73 (talk) 19:43, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

What "reverting policy" are you referring to? Both the pages above are essays. BRD, while an essay, is a widely accepted method to break a deadlock and to stop edit warring. It forces contributors to use the talk page, where discussion and collaboration takes place. It's also the way to determine who started an edit war. (Any deviation from BRD, such as BRB, is the first step in an edit war.) In such a case, a further revert back to the status quo is often necessary to force the edit warrior to stop warring and stick to discussion until a consensus has been reached about the disputed content. -- Brangifer (talk) 20:57, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
Fine, read the word "policy" as "essay". (BTW, have you noticed that the shortcuts begin with WP: and not WE:?) Once again, I am pointing to the inconsistency between these 2 essays: one says to "revert if it is not an improvement" and one says to "revert only if it makes the article worse". This is a big difference and I submit that this inconsistency is the basis for many edit wars. 50.48.205.73 (talk) 23:09, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
What is the significance of "shortcuts begin with WP: and not WE:"? I don't recall seeing any which begin with WE:. The WP: means that the content is not part of the encyclopedia proper, but is behind-the-scenes content for editors. It can be policies, guidelines, essays, humor, news, etc.. -- Brangifer (talk) 03:52, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
The "P" in "WP:" stands for "pedia", not "policy." The purpose of an essay is to voice an opinion. By their nature, not all opinions will be in lockstep and artificially making them so is not an improvement. Not edit warring is indeed a policy. You can our see our actual policy on editing (including reverts) here. VQuakr (talk) 08:00, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

The onus to initiate the discussion[edit]

Is there an established consensus on which party has the onus to initiate the discussion within the BRD cycle? Is it the bold editor or the reverting editor? Cheers, Hwy43 (talk) 08:33, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

  • The latter, I imagine – not least as it's one step to assume good faith but another to assume editors are psychic/clairvoyant! Regards, Sardanaphalus (talk) 21:16, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Actually, yes, there is an established consensus (bolding for emphasis):
    • "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." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mark Miller (talkcontribs)
  • Well, yes: The "onus to initiate the discussion" is on nobody, because following BRD is optional. Perhaps we need to make that clearer (again). However, assuming that all parties are voluntarily following this model, then the relevant line from the essay is, "Note: The first person to start a discussion is the person who is best following BRD." WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:58, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Sardanaphalus, Mark Miller, WhatamIdoing thank you for your replies. I know that BRD is optional, but have observed way too many people hang their hat on it (whether they know the same or not, or whether they choose to ignore it). In most cases where I've observed this becoming a hat rack, an editor boldly makes a change to longstanding stable content in which the change is incorrect or against past consensus. I revert with an explanation in the edit summary and even suggest that it be taken to the talk page. The bold editor reverts the revert and pushes BRD on you. In my opinion I should not be bullied into BRD when this occurs, and they should be the ones initiating the discussion. Hwy43 (talk) 06:10, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Once there has been a second reversion, then nobody is following BRD any longer. You could quote the relevant line from WP:BRD#Discuss to them: "If you re-revert, then you are no longer following BRD" (emphasis added; it's sometimes present and sometimes not in the page). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:40, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Agreed. They have broken BRD. BRD might be "optional" among many other options, but edit warring is not optional, and BRD is the best way to stop it. The one making the bold change (addition or deletion) to the status quo is the primary one who should start a discussion to explain why they want a change, but nothing prevents another editor from starting the discussion. The first deviation from BRD (BRB...) is the start of an edit war. I often then restore the status quo version, add a {{Uw-3rr}} warning on their talk page, and remind them to follow BRD, as edit warring is not acceptable. They must use the talk page. Not only does this wake them up to the fact that others consider their actions to be edit warring and uncollaborative, it's also establishing a "paper trail" of evidence that they have been warned. They cannot claim innocence or ignorance after that. -- Brangifer (talk) 18:51, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, responding to a reversion with a completely different bold edit isn't the beginning of an edit war (e.g., I reverted your education-related change, and you boldly added a sports-related change). But if the goal of the second bold edit is to achieve the same end as the first, then it might be the start of an edit war. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Totally agree. That's a good example of an exception. BRD doesn't always apply. -- Brangifer (talk) 23:21, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that reverting to the status quo version a *second time* is completely against BRD - you're only extending the edit war by doing it, and warning the other user against edit warring is a bit hypocritical when you're engaging in it too. If another editor re-reverts your first revert, the preferred action to follow according to WP:Edit war is to let the change stay, and discuss it to see what the first editor intended to achieve. That's the logical outcome when two editors adhere strictly to the 3RR anyway. Diego (talk) 11:44, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
Since BRD has already been broken, such a reversion to the status quo is obviously not an attempt to follow BRD, but is an attempt to follow the spirit of BRD, which is to force discussion of any disputed change of the status quo version. The situation is now governed by the 3RR rule, and reversions up to the limit, but not over, may follow. If the editor who started the edit war refuses to get the message, then a complaint to ANI follows. Fortunately most editors accept such strong warnings and stop editing the article and just stick to discussion. In nearly every instance where they refuse, they get blocked for edit warring.
We can't allow edit warriors to hold the article hostage in the wrong version while discussion occurs. Discussion is supposed to determine whether a change will be accepted by a consensus of editors. If a consensus determines the change is an improvement, then editing of the article can resume. Otherwise it won't. Editors must learn that they cannot force their version against objections by other editors, even if they are 100% right. They must discuss before making disputed changes, and the R in BRD is evidence that their bold change is disputed. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:28, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
The spirit of BRD is not to keep an article unchanged, it's to improve edits through better understanding of why they're done. Someone repeatedly edit warring to keep the previous version is as bad as someone repeatedly pushing the same change - the status quo is as WRONGVERSION as the changed one, and those willing to keep it above all are not given exemption by WP:EDITWAR; they're as guilty of not trying to achieve consensus as the editor making the bold change - or even worse, as WP:OWN (which is policy) explicitly warns against doing just that.
You say "Editors must learn that they cannot force their version against objections by other editors, even if they are 100% right", and that applies to those wishing to keep the previous version as well. Sorry, but BRD is not an excuse for WP:STATUSQUO, and has never been; those edit warriors pushing back to keep the article unchanged should be facing an ANI themselves; WP:CONSENSUS is pretty clear that it applies to all editors, and that the dispute isn't solved without addressing those valid concerns that motivated a change. Diego (talk) 17:58, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
Diego, I'm not sure that we actually disagree. I have never indicated that the status quo version is necessarily the best version, or that BRD is supposed to keep an article unchanged. We want improvement, and that can only happen through change, but there can be lots of change without improvement. One of the primary functions of BRD is to ensure that changes are made through collaboration, especially when there is any dispute or disagreement. When there is no disagreement, lots of changes and improvements can be made without ever invoking BRD. This is about collaboration, rather than attempts to force change over the objections of others.
BTW, my scenario above is nearly always when one editor violates BRD, and their edits are reverted by multiple other editors who all disagree with their attempt to force a change against their objections. They often get to make 5-10 improper edits before they get blocked, which is well beyond 3RR.
Discussion is the proper way to improve an article, not by some edit warrior commandeering the article and treating it as if it was their own website. I think we can agree that such ownership behavior is not proper. Discussion will determine whether the change is an improvement, and local consensus and collaboration is the way Wikipedia works. Those who will not discuss do not get their way, even if they are right. They must be willing to convince other editors that they are right. If they can do that, the article will see improvement. If they are wrong, the article will have been protected.
You wrote: "WP:CONSENSUS is pretty clear that it applies to all editors, and that the dispute isn't solved without addressing those valid concerns that motivated a change." Bingo! That's exactly what I'm talking about. The "D" is where it happens. Those who try to bypass "Discussion" aren't editing according to consensus. They need to stop editing the article and stick to discussion until a consensus determines what to do with their disputed change. I don't know of any other way to reach a consensus when there is a dispute. (Obviously DR would be next if a local consensus cannot be reached, but that's another subject.) -- Brangifer (talk) 03:29, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
BullRangifer, Diego Moya, to clarify on my most recent case of a bold editor pushing BRD on me after I reverted the bold edit, this user changed factually accurate content that was verified by a reliable source to inaccurate content. The editor removed the pre-existing supporting reference that verified the content's accuracy and replaced with another indicating that it verified the bold change. Turned out it not only did not verify the change, it actually reinforced the accuracy of the original reference and content. In this case, I'm confident this was simply an instance of a bold editor suffering from WP:DONTLIKE. I find WhatamIdoing's recommendation to quote "If you re-revert, then you are no longer following BRD" very helpful in this regard. Hwy43 (talk) 04:28, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
I share WAID's opinion. If I understand the scenario correctly, your "Revert" should have been met with a "Discussion", and the status quo version remain in place until a consensus was reached to change it. It almost sounds like you were fixing vandalism, so you did nothing wrong. You disputed their edit and reverted it. They should then start a Discussion. -- Brangifer (talk) 04:48, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Pretty much, except for I would have characterized the bold editor's first edit as a good faith error, with the re-revert being the vandalism (as the error was explained in the edit summary of my revert). All of the discussion above, including both this and other scenarios, has been very helpful. I'm better equipped to handle hostile pushes into BRD when the pusher truly isn't even engaging in it properly. Thanks to all! Hwy43 (talk) 06:25, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Sure, I also agree with WhatamIdoing and Brangifer - for that particular scenario, where an editor is repeatedly pushing the same change. My point is that there are other scenarios where the user doing the revert multiple times is the disruptive one. If we're looking at anecdotes, my last one involved an editor rejecting a change with "I don't like it" reasons while making self-contradicting claims for opposing all the proposed alternatives.
In such cases, "discuss things first" is being used to filibuster against a reasonable change. People reading this essay should have it clear that "this needs to be discussed first" is by itself not a reason to perform the R step in BRD - that's WP:OWN behavior, and thus not allowed. The user doing the revert should provide a valid reason why the bold edit can't be improved instead of reverted; and "the article has always been this way" and "we should keep the status quo version until we reach a consensus through discussion" are not valid reasons per policy, and BRD has been designed to avoid such stale mates, not to justify them. Diego (talk) 10:53, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, such abuse can happen. I haven't seen it very often, even though I edit some of the most controversial subjects we have, but when it does happen the editor usually ends up at ANI and gets blocked, then topic banned, or even gets a full community indef ban for disruption and pushing a fringe agenda. Sometimes the article has to be locked down to force discussion. The one in the wrong is usually pretty obvious and their actions are opposed by several other editors. They usually stand alone.
When I say "in the wrong", I'm speaking of their actions in abusing BRD to stonewall. Other editors can usually discuss with them so their silly agenda becomes obvious and the stalemate gets broken. The one making the Bold edit must not allow themselves to think that being right justifies edit warring. They must discuss. The more reasonable one will usually win the day.
So, when such abuse occurs, and their stonewalling is disruptive, other dispute resolution measures come into play. With BRD we must remember to use edit summaries for every single edit, just as we are supposed to do with every other edit. Our edit summary statistics should be 100%. That usually helps to avoid problems, but there will always be that occasional editor who doesn't communicate well.
In those cases, when BRD is abused, we must not lay down and let them walk over the community and hold it hostage. Editors need to be united on ONE thing, regardless of their POV on the actual subject matter or state of the article. That ONE thing is that edit warring is not productive, and discussion is the way forward. Being right with one's Bold edit does not give one the right to use force and bypass discussion. Follow BRD, even when it's abused. I have many times seen the Bold editor (who is right) get blocked, and rightly so. Uncollaborative Bold editors don't survive here, even when their edit is right, and we don't need them, and editors who misuse the "Revert" part, although rare, also get exposed and blocked. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:01, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── "The spirit of BRD is not to keep an article unchanged, it's to improve edits through better understanding of why they're done." – I like this. Shall we add something like this to the lead, or maybe to the {{nutshell}}?

"People reading this essay should have it clear that "this needs to be discussed first" is by itself not a reason to perform the R step in BRD - that's WP:OWN behavior, and thus not allowed. The user doing the revert should provide a valid reason why the bold edit can't be improved instead of reverted; and "the article has always been this way" and "we should keep the status quo version until we reach a consensus through discussion" are not valid reasons" – maybe we need to put this information under the ===Revert=== section so that it stands out. We have a lot of editors who believe that BRD is a Get Out of Jail Free card (for the first reversion), when it's supposed to be a "how to react when someone reverts you" page instead. (Brangifer, I see this fairly often on policy and guideline pages, even for minor grammatical changes. It's especially infuriating when the person reverting leaves an edit summary indicating that he personally supports the change, but is reverting it solely because it wasn't Officially Discussed first). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:18, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

"The spirit of BRD is not to keep an article unchanged, it's to ensure that controversial changes are discussed so that the resulting changes are truly improvements reached by a collaborative decision." Such changes are very stable, because they enjoy the support of many editors, who will all defend the improvement from attempts to vandalize and degrade the article. It ensures that content creation remains a collaborative process. -- Brangifer (talk) 05:39, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The problem with starting to edit this page is that you notice that the next line is off-topic, and the one after that only makes any sense if you know what it's supposed to mean (rather than what it actually says), and so forth. I'm going to give up now. Sometimes I wonder if we ought to revert everything back to a version from about 2006 or so, when BRD hadn't acquired the nature of a children's taunt ("Nyah, nyah, I reverted your change, and I say you're not allowed to edit again until you start a discussion, so there!") WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:26, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

The number of repetitions[edit]

@BullRangifer: ...to ensure that controversial changes are discussed so that the resulting changes are truly improvements reached by a collaborative decision. But that's true of all consensus building, not anything particular of BRD. What's specific for BRD is that it's a fast cycle where bold edits are encouraged as soon as concerns are explained at the talk page, therefore long and unproductive discussions are discouraged in favor of reaching consensus through good edits. It's a shame that so many editors talk about BRD instead as if it meant "you can't change the article until consensus is reached through discussion at the talk page", when it was intended as the opposite. Diego (talk) 09:44, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
P.S. I've added emphasis in the lede to the idea of a "cycle" in which returning quickly to edits is what makes BRD work well. Maybe we could also expand the first sentece this way to highlight the purpose of BRD as a tool for WP:EDITCONSENSUS?:
The BOLD, revert, discuss cycle (BRD) is an optional method of reaching consensus that encourages frequent editing and focused discussion. Thoughts? Diego (talk) 09:56, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
...and Nikkimaria has just reverted my changes to the lead. Nikkimaria, where is "elsewhere on the page" the idea of fast iterations covered? The reason you give for your revert doesn't support removing that idea from the lede - the introduction can contain important information even if it appears in the body as well. Diego (talk) 14:41, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
The idea of "fast iterations" can be misunderstood to mean what it says. "Iterations" means "repetition", and we don't want to see the same bold edit again, unless it's a consensus decision. The cycle isn't BRD...mentioned on talk page and then make the bold edit again. Only if the next bold edit is a different edit designed to meet the objections raised by the reverter in their edit summary can we not wait for discussion. It's BRD...discussion reaches a consensus...BRD. Without that time to reach consensus, "fast iterations" is just edit warring. If we want to make it clear, it would be BRDC, where C is Consensus.
BRBRD refers to the same Bold edit, and that's edit warring. If it's a different bold edit, then we're not following BRD, but using normal editing where the new bold edit is designed to meet the concerns of objectors and avoid previously contested territory. If fast iterations is happening, then it better be B1RB2RB3R, where each bold edit is different, and only made after edit summaries or discussion are considered.
My point is that BRD happens once. It's a complete cycle. It's not meant to be repeated, at least not immediately. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:24, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Indeed Diego, the lead is meant to be a summary of the body, and "When the discussion has improved understanding, attempt a new edit that may be acceptable to all participants in the discussion" is the most appropriate summary of what the page actually says about cycling. It would be a mistake to oversimplify the purpose of BRD as "fast cycling"; Brangifer explains the issue very well. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:28, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We need to make it clear that BRD is not the normal editing process. Most editing is small bold edits which are not contested. Only when an edit is contested does BRD begin to apply, and on controversial articles that is often a frequent occurrence. I like to look at my contribution history (over five thousand articles, plus their talk pages, on my watchlist), and see that nearly all my edits have been untouched for the last three days. That means they were improvements and uncontested....unless no one was noticing...Face-wink.svg. -- Brangifer (talk) 17:09, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

@BullRangifer: You're right that "fast" may be misunderstood. Yet a more common misunderstanding of BRD, often quoted by those using it to oppose changes, is that it requires reaching consensus before restarting the cycle. Not so; as described in WP:EDITCONSENSUS, it only requires that the editor tries to address the concerns raised so far through discussion (either at Talk or the Revert edit summary). The C in BRDC would be for "compromise", not "consensus"; any edit is allowed if it tries in good faith to accommodate the other user, even if it doesn't concede their point in full, without a requirement that the other editor(s) agree to the change before it's made.
Consensus is the byproduct of the many iterations of BRD, not a precondition for any of them (and that's why it's a difficult technique); if you waited to reach agreement before implementing a new edit, that edit wouldn't be bold!
The whole point of this technique is that specific edits convey more information about each editor's intent than lengthy discussion; so it's easier to reach consensus by providing examples of the desired changes, instead of describing them.
  • My point is that BRD happens once. It's a complete cycle. It's not meant to be repeated, at least not immediately. Where did you get that idea? When I read the BRD essay, I see the exact opposite - it's an expert way to use repeated edits to move consensus forward without pointless debate. It even says so: 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. If it was meant to be used once, it wouldn't be a cycle; cycle means "repetition" (not the same edit, but the same steps) - it would be a sequence. If you require lengthy debate before allowing any edit, you're not doing BRD, you're doing something else (most likely, WP:OWNING the article).
BRD's power stems from it being able to make changes without needing a full agreement between all parties involved, while avoiding the WP:WIN mentality of "my version (either the bold one or the status quo) is the only one that matters" that would turn it into edit warring. Your interpretation of BRD, while common, is too often used to entrench an WP:OWN behavior of "the article can only be changed if I agree to it", which is not what this essay is about, although it's often quoted to imply just that.
We need to make it clear that BRD is not the normal editing process. That's true; I think the current text already makes it clear, mentioning that it's "an optional method" and that "BRD is best used by experienced Wikipedia editors". That logically implies that it shouldn't be mentioned to new users, because 1) it's optional, not policy and 2) it's likely to WP:BITE them, as they won't be able to use it properly. Diego (talk) 11:01, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
There are indeed various ways to interpret BRD, and as long as an editor isn't trying to repeatedly force the same edit against the objections of others, experienced editors are pretty forgiving of attempts to try out altered versions and tweaks ("not the same edit") which reveal that the editor is listening to the objections. I doubt they would be taken to ANI for edit warring.
OTOH, if they are a pusher of fringe POV who insists on trying to squeeze in poor sources and fringe POV, their repeated attempts, even if slightly different, may be examples of IDHT behavior, and they may still get warned and eventually blocked. -- Brangifer (talk) 17:31, 3 January 2015 (UTC)