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Wikipedia:Don't revert due solely to "no consensus"

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There seems to be no consensus amongst these referees...

Avoid reverting with an edit summary saying only "no consensus", "discuss first", "take to talk", or something similar. This procedural objection gives the reverted editor no information regarding the substantive reason for your reversion and is not supported by either general or Wikipedia space policy,

Consider these alternatives to a no consensus edit summary:

  • If, in fact, the original text was the result of a consensus reached in a prior discussion (or is the subject of a current dispute) then include a link to that discussion in your edit summary.
  • If, on the other hand, there is no consensus because you disagree with the change then keep in mind that consensus can change. Explain why you disagree in the edit summary or on the talk page.
  • Or better still, don't revert. Instead, make your own edit to fix and improve upon the original edit.

If one of your edits draws a "no consensus" edit summary, start a conversation on the talk page and ask the reverting editor to provide a substantive rationale for the reversion.

The problem with a "no consensus" edit summary[edit]

Lacks substance. Saying "no consensus" tells the reverted editor that you disagree with the change, but it doesn't say why.

Incorrect. "No consensus" occurs only after a good faith discussion fails to result in a consensus. See WP:NOCONSENSUS. If one editor favors a change and another opposes it then consensus is no closer to being against the change than for it until more editors comment or edit, or until the two editors in question achieve a consensus. Thus, a single editor's objection does not establish "no consensus" for a change. See also WP:NOTUNANIMITY.

Implicit consensus exists only in the absence of a dispute. WP:EDITCON. Hence, the fact that pre-existing text is pre-existing carries no weight during discussion. There is no exception to this principle for policies and guidelines.

That said, the existing text ordinarily remains in place during a discussion and commonly prevails if the discussion fails to reach consensus. But see WP:ONUS. Editors should not implement either of these procedural practices without an accompanying substantive objection to a change. See WP:STONEWALLING.

Impedes consensus-building. Wikipedia editors resolve a lack of consensus through an exchange of information leading to persuasion and compromise. Reverting an edit shows there is no consensus. Saying "no consensus" in the edit summary adds no new information. Worse, it forces the reverted editor to begin a talk page discussion just to find out the real reason for the revert. This hampers consensus-building by adding an unnecessary step to the process. See also WP:DISCUSSCONSENSUS.

Don't be a stonewaller.

Discourteous to good faith editors. A substance-free revert implies the reverting editor owns the article and does not respect the reverted editor's right to edit it. This conduct drives editors away from Wikipedia in frustration. If you don't have the time to edit courteously then you should not edit at all. See also: WP:Civility and WP:Don't be a jerk.

Violates the spirit of Wikipedia editing policy. Reverting with "no consensus" edit summaries discourages bold contributions, which are essential to building Wikipedia. Status quo stonewallers employ this strategy to create the appearance of a substantive dispute regarding a change when little or none actually exists.

Reflects poorly on the reverting editor. An editor with a valid objection who reverts with a "no consensus" edit summary is just plain lazy.

Alternatives to a "no consensus" edit summary[edit]

Provide a link to the prior consensus[edit]

A reverting editor asserting a lack of consensus has the responsibility to show a prior consensus or current discussion. If an edit really does break a specific, established consensus then you should provide a link to the talk page section, FAQ set, policy, or other written page establishing that consensus. Even then, keep in mind that Wikipedia:Consensus can change, and it may have done so.

If you can't link to a talk page section, FAQ set, policy, or other written page establishing a consensus then consider the following alternatives to asserting "no consensus" as the reason for your revert.

Don't revert[edit]

See generally Revert only when necessary.

If you can't name a specific problem with an edit, you have no valid reason to immediately revert it. Reverting solely on the basis of "no consensus" suggests you simply did not like the edit. Or, worse, you have a Semmelweis reflex against innovation and new perspectives. If you just have a bad gut feeling about the edit, consider seeking input from other experienced editors at appropriate noticeboards and WikiProjects.

Don't assert "no consensus" because you believe others might object to an edit. Let those editors do their own reverting, then the original contributor will know who disagrees with the edit and why. Or perhaps no one will object because, in fact, a silent consensus exists to keep the change.

Fix the edit[edit]

It's easy to revert, but it's more civil to take a moment and rescue a deficient good faith edit. If an edit adds good information but has poor grammar, is poorly sourced, or poorly worded, try to fix the grammar, find a good source, or improve the wording. Avoid Overzealous deletions.

Insert a tag and start a discussion[edit]

If the edit can be corrected but you can't think of or don't have the time to implement a fix -
(1) Put an appropriate Wikipedia:Template index/Disputes (such as [disputeddiscuss]) or quality tag (such as [clarification needed]) on the article page.
(2) If the tag is not self-explanatory (such as [citation needed]), state your concerns on the talk page.

Revert with a meaningful explanation[edit]

If you have considered alternatives and concluded that a reversion is appropriate, be sure to provide a substantive explanation in the edit summary or on the talk page. Even if the reason seems obvious to you, it will not always be obvious to someone else.

How to respond to a "no consensus" edit summary[edit]

Step one: start a discussion on talk. No, you shouldn't have to do it. And yes, it's a pain. But it's the best path to a civil resolution of the dispute. Use a Subject/headline such as "Revert of January 5, 2021", start the text with a {{ping}} to the reverting editor, and then add text along the lines of "Please provide the substantive rationale for your reversion." Don't forget to sign your post (~~~~).

If the reverting editor does not reply within three days then, on the fourth day, check user contributions to assure that editor is active and has had a fair chance to respond. If so, post a follow up message with a ping and text such as "it appears from your silence that you no longer object to the edit you reverted. If that is not the case then please reply to my [date of your original post] post within the next three days." If you get no reply within three more days then revert the reversion "per talk". If you get a substantive reply, work with the user to reach a consensus.

If the reverting editor simply repeats "no consensus" (or some variant) on talk, respond with something like "I am here now hoping to work with you toward a consensus. Would you please tell me what, if anything, you find objectionable about the change you reverted?"

If the reverting editor claims other editors must express agreement with your change, reply with text such as "I do not read either WP:EDITCONSENSUS or WP:EPTALK as requiring an affirmative consensus for Wikipedia edits. Can I find that requirement somewhere else? Also, would you please tell me whether you have any other reason for your revert?" If the editor claims special procedures apply to Wikipedia policy, guideline, or essay page edits, substitute "WP:PGBOLD" for "WP:EDITCONSENSUS".

If none of these strategies work, you have reached an impasse. It’s time to consider the options listed at WP:Dispute resolution requests, including WP:THIRD.

See also[edit]