Wikipedia:Don't revert due solely to "no consensus"
|This page is an essay, containing the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.||
|This page in a nutshell: If the only thing you have to say about a contribution to the encyclopedia is that it lacks consensus, it's best not to revert it.|
Sometimes editors will undo a change, justifying their revert merely by saying that there is "no consensus" for the change. Ask yourself: will two wrongs making a right be best for the editors and the readers? If you believe so, slow down, reread talk, verify sources and pause before acting. Genuine consent is freely given, while no consensus can be a take.
Don't be a jerk against boldness
The behaviour discourages bold contributions, which are essential to building Wikipedia. Be aware that the Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle sometimes leads to nothing. It's called Wikipedia:BRD misuse. Some people may revert by simply asking in their edit summary the bold editor to "first discuss". A discussion needs at least two parties. Imagine a bold edit is being prepared for the necessary discussion by providing sources, rationale and reasoning of the edit on the talk page first, by tagging the article's weak spots and trying to start the discussion. Then a "first discuss" revert without any contribution on the talk page is against Wikipedia:Don't be a jerk, more politely said, neither helpful, constructive nor informative. Avoid. Wikipedia:Deny recognition still applies. Try to get the difference ;)
Actually start and contribute to discussions
Reverting on a "no consensus base" without any further info tries to avoid any discussion, not to start it. It's one of the strategies of Wikipedia:Status quo stonewalling. After all, if one reverted the edit already shows that there is no consensus. But when authors neglect to explain why they personally disagree with the edit or where the consensus in question was concluded, they haven't given people a handle on how to build any new consensus that is desired to enhance WPs articles and their individual quality.
Handles to build consensus are needed by both sides of the debate. If you can't point out an underlying problem with an edit, there is no reason to immediately revert it. Revert only when necessary. If you just have a bad gut feeling with the edit, try to put appropriate quality tags and put some questions at the talk page. Involve portals and experienced authors. Finally, there may in fact exist silent consensus to keep the change. Consensus is not unanimity, and is thus not canceled by one editor's objection. Furthermore, if an edit really breaks certain established consensus, you should be able to refer to the discussion section, FAQ set, portal policy where this consensus was established. One can assume that sudden changes of long-standing Wikipedia policies and guidelines may be reverted without much such notions - as in those cases the establishment of consensus needs no further proof. But note that Wikipedia:CCC - consensus can change - applies there as well. That said, its the responsibility of the reverter to show and proof the consensus in question. One might as well ask editors which had an intense discussion on a certain aspect to mark and summarize the reached consensus formally. Wikipedia lacks tools to identify milestones of an articles development and neither has sufficient templates and pointers for talk pages.
Be friendly towards new content and perspectives
Wikipedia should encourage contributors and atttract new contributors to be bold in editing articles. Experienced authors may however tend to defends articles as their personal turf and may be under a Semmelweis reflex against innovation and new perspectives. Don't protect Wikipedia against new content and don't be anxious if other authors seem to have found evidence you not had heard of before. That might happen. Scientific knowledge and knowledge in general is exploding. Wikipedia should follow and welcome it, not exclude it. Reverting a bold contribution solely on the basis of "no consensus" is a sign that the reverter simply did not like the edit. Moreover, if one editor favors a new addition (i.e. its contributor), and another opposes it (i.e. the potential reverter), consensus is no closer to being against it than for it until more editors comment or edit, or until the two editors in question can move toward a compromise, preferably through editing.
Think about what you want and state it
It is best to first consider whether there is a substantive problem with the edit in question. Mention that. Tag it. If it added unsourced or poorly-sourced information, try to find said information yourself, or failing that, note that in the revert summary. If it made the presentation of material awkward, tag it. Edit to make the presentation less awkward. Question awkwardness on the talk page. If the bold edit added a biased statement among others less controversial, try to find a way to recast the bias into a neutral mode or just revert that aspect only. Avoid Overzealous deletions. If it added instructions on how to do something, explain that Wikipedia is not a manual. If it removed content with no explanation or an unconvincing one, note that you are restoring valid content, and why the explanation is unconvincing (if the edit summary box is too small for this, continue on the talk page).
In general, what to do about controversial or just large edits
If you feel that an edit should not stand, but you can't point to any specific reason, stop and think before you act. Just never make any edit without a reason.
- Stop. Think. Look at the talk page or the edit summary, check whether the edit has a reasonable rationale and quality sources.
- Note your concerns and think about which tags or questions describe them best.
- Edit the page to tag questionable edits or change them appropriately.
- Provide your rationale and your doubts and questions in edit summaries on the talk page.
- If you really cannot find a way to incorporate the edit, revert it. Boldly.
- Explain why. At least in the summary. Even if the reason seems obvious to you, it will not always be obvious to someone else.
Stay friendly. Wikipedia should stay a comedy of the commons. Life is hard enough.
Never revert a change that you personally believe is a net improvement to the page. If you believe that the change is an improvement, then you should not revert it, even if you are convinced that someone else will object to it. Let those the editors who object to it do their own reverting. Then the original contributor will know who disagrees with it and who needs to be involved in the discussion.