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The problem[edit]

You have a content dispute where there is consensus to change the existing text, but no proposed alternative text has enough consensus to replace it. Thousands of words have been written on the talk page by many editors, and there is no end in sight. People keep suggesting different versions of the text, but it is impossible for all the involved editors to comment on each one without drowning the talk page.

The realisation[edit]

The solution is not going to consist of one editor convincing all the other editors to adopt their version of the text. The solution is simply to find a formulation of the text that no-one hates. In wikijargon, once that enjoys WP:SILENCE. This is done by rapidly cycling through different versions until one is found that no-one actively objects to.

The history[edit]

See: Talk:Chiropractic/Mediation/Archive_1#Limited_Edit_War_on_Chiropractic.23Low_back_pain

The above situation occurred at Chiropractic. Several editors were in a heated debate over two particular sentences, and discussions were going around and around. I suggested a process I called "Limited Edit War" and a short(ish) 16 days later we had a new version that we had consensus to insert into the main article. I've renamed the technique to "Infinite Monkey Process" because "edit war" has too negative a connotation here at Wikipedia. It refers to the Infinite Monkey Theorem: "a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare".

The solution[edit]

The basic idea is copy the contested text to a talk subpage, and all involved editors keep changing the text there until a consensus version is found. If any editor dislikes any proposed text, they change it to a different version. No editor can propose the same text more than once. Here's a mock up:

InfiniteMonkeyProcess on "Banana" section[edit]

Ook! We're monkeying around with some of the article text. You may change the text in the 'proposed text' section without discussion, subject to the following rules:

  • no reversions
  • each edit you make on the section must be at least slightly different to any previous version
  • You may add chat in the 'discussion' section, but using the edit summary to explain your change is acceptable
  • the goal is to develop stable text that improves the article and is tolerable to all concerned. Try not to change the "proposed" text unless you feel it is worse than the current article text.

Once the proposed text is stable, it will be assumed to have consensus for inclusion in the main article. --Adam

Current text (change this to match the current article text as necessary)[edit]

Lots of people[who?] like Bloggs think that bananas are great[citation needed]. Dr Jones used science to prove bananas are the funnest herb.[1]

Proposed text (may be changed freely subject to rules above)[edit]

Bananas are a popular herbaceous fruit in the U.S. and prominent actors including Bloggs, Filch and Zaff have publicly stated their enjoyment of them.[1][2][3] Jones et al in a 2008 study concluded that the entertainment value of bananas far exceeded that of other fruit.[4]


  • Added Bloggs ref and changed wording to match ref --Adam
  • It's not a herb it's a fruit. Changed herb to fruit. --Brad
  • Reworded "funnest" sentence to use "entertainment value instead". Also changed fruit back to herb. --Carl
  • Filch and Zaff like nanas too. -Dave
  • Bananas are still not herbs. -Brad
  • Brad, your version repeated [diff]. Changed it to "herbaceous fruit". Sounds dumb, but at least it's different --Dave
  • Actually, if the first mention is "herbaceous fruit" I don't mind later references calling it a fruit, since that is the common parlance of the unwashed masses. --Carl
  • Fine, I've changed them to fruit. Herbaceous fruit sounds dumb though. I wonder if Carl is a herbaceous fruit. --Brad
  • Anyone? --Dave
  • You're joking. Hasn't changed in three days! --Dave
  • Looks like we've got consensus. Copying it to the real article. --Brad.