This page is an essay on Wikipedia:Consensus.
|This page in a nutshell: Local consensus that does not violate broad consensus and has been in place unchallenged for some time may be assumed to have achieved consensus. Consensus can change, however, and if pocket consensus is challenged, the broader or majority view will carry greater weight than mere passage of time.|
Pocket consensus is local consensus that does not violate broader consensus, and has been in existence for some time. A process or edit that does not violate broader consensus, and that remains unchallenged, is assumed to have consensus by silence. However, as described in Warnock's dilemma, silence is vague, and may imply ignorance of the "pocket consensus" as much as assumed consent. Some editors feel that silence does not imply consent when drafting new policies, or that silence means nothing.
A discussion regarding a process or an edit may occur only at a WikiProject level, and therefore may not gain the wider exposure needed to gain broad consensus. In such a case, a "pocket consensus" occurs: the specialist group comes to an agreement, even though the process or edit has not achieved widespread consensus. Unless there is an obvious reason to overturn the consensus reached by the specialist group (such as violation of a Wikipedia policy), other editors encountering the consensus may not question it. Such lack of challenge grants the pocket agreement a degree of consensus, which strengthens over time.
However consensus can change. If pocket consensus is challenged, the broader or majority view will usually carry greater weight than mere passage of time. Arguing purely for the status quo is generally seen as unhelpful. That a procedure has been around for several years may not in itself be a convincing argument to keep the procedure, though changing a procedure that works purely because it hasn't had wide exposure, is also seen as unhelpful.