Wikipedia:Reverting

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Reverting means reversing a prior edit or undoing the effects of one or more edits, which typically results in the article being restored to a version that existed sometime previously. A partial reversion involves reversing only part of a prior edit, while retaining other parts of it.

What is a reversion?

A reversion is an edit, or part of an edit, that completely reverses a prior edit, restoring at least part of an article to what it was before the prior edit. The typical way to effect a reversion is to use the "undo" button in the article's history page, but it isn't any less of a reversion if one simply types in the previous text.

A single edit may reverse multiple prior edits, in which case the edit constitutes multiple reversions.

Technically, any edit can be said to reverse some of a previous edit; however, this is not the way the community interprets reversion, because it is not consistent with either the principle of collaborative editing or with the editing policy. Wholesale reversions (complete reversal of one or more previous edits) are singled out for special treatment because a reversion cannot help an article converge on a consensus version.

Examples
Editor action Classification
You re-phrase the wording in the first paragraph of an existing article. A normal change, not a reversion.
You reverse all of Alice's changes in wording, restoring the article to the previous version. A complete reversion.
You add a new paragraph at the end of the article. A normal change, not a reversion.
You remove most of the new paragraph, but leave one or two sentences. A partial reversion.

When to revert

Reverting is appropriate mostly for vandalism or other disruptive edits. The Wikipedia edit warring policy forbids repetitive reverting.

If you see a good-faith edit which you feel does not improve the article, make a good-faith effort to reword instead of reverting it. Similarly, if you make an edit which is good-faith reverted, do not simply reinstate your edit – leave the status quo up, or try an alternative way to make the change that includes feedback from the other editor.

If there is a dispute, editors should work towards consensus. Instead of engaging in an edit war, which is harmful, propose your reverted change on the article's talk page or pursue other dispute resolution alternatives. During a dispute discussion, until a consensus is established, you should not revert away from the status quo (except in cases where contentious material should be immediately removed, such as biographies of living people, or material about living people in other articles). Note that this process is meant for managing resolution of disputes while discussion is taking place. It is not appropriate to use reversion to control the content of an article through status quo stonewalling.

Different ways to revert

When you have decided to revert, please consider whether you will use the undo link in the page history, or revert manually. If you use the undo link, the editors whose edits you revert will receive a notification (if they have requested notification of reversions). If you revert by manually changing the text to the old version, they will not receive a notification. While some editors appreciate it when they are informed about their edits being reverted, others take issue with their reversion counter thereby being increased in the user statistics when a revert could have been avoided - so be careful not to revert lightly. Further, if the edits you revert are clearly disruptive or vandalism, it may be better not to notify the disruptor or vandal of your correction, so it may be better to revert manually.

Note that when intermediate edits have been made, it is sometimes not possible to use the undo link.

Explain reverts

Edit summaries, always a good practice, are particularly important when reverting. Provide a valid and informative explanation including, if possible, a link to the Wikipedia principle you believe justifies the reversion. Try to remain available for dialogue, especially in the half-day or so after reverting.

A reversion is a complete rejection of the work of another editor and if the reversion is not adequately supported then the reverted editor may find it difficult to assume good faith. This is one of the most common causes of an edit war. A substantive explanation also promotes consensus by alerting the reverted editor to the problem with the original edit. The reverted editor may then be able to revise the edit to correct the perceived problem. The result will be an improved article, a more knowledgeable editor and greater harmony.

In addition to helping the reverted editor, providing information regarding the reversion will help other editors by letting them know whether – or not – they need to even view the reverted version, such as in the case of blanking a page. Explaining reverts also helps users who check edit histories to determine the extent to which the information in the article is reliable or current.

If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in an edit summary, leave a note on the article's Talk page. It is sometimes best to leave a note on the Talk page first and then revert, rather than the other way around; this gives the other editor a chance to agree with you and revise their edit appropriately. Conversely, if another editor reverts your change without any apparent explanation, you may wish to wait a few minutes to see if they explain their actions on the article's or your user's talk page.

Edit wars are harmful

Reasons

Edit wars are usually considered harmful, for the following reasons:

  1. Edit wars destabilize the article in question, and may be off-putting to the observant and wary editors who would otherwise contribute stabilizing improvements to it.
  2. Edit wars tend to cause ill-will and probably delay editor development and reduce editor retention. An editor can feel a revert is "a slap in the face"—"I worked hard and someone reverted it!"
  3. Edit wars do waste space in the database, make the page history less useful, and flood recent-change lists and watchlists.
  4. Edit wars are often myopic, occurring while neither participant is familiar with the big picture. The editors involved tend to focus only on one part of an article without considering other sections of the article or other articles linked dependently to the area in question, resulting in inconsistencies with the big picture concerning the content in question. The noticeboard is part of the big picture too.

Resolutions

Editors should not revert simply because of disagreement. Instead, explore alternative methods, such as raising objections on a talk page or following the processes in dispute resolution.

Three-revert rule

As a means to limit edit wars, Wikipedia's policies and guidelines state that one may not revert any article more than three times in the same 24-hour period. This is a hard limit, not a given right. Attempts to circumvent the three-revert rule, such as making a fourth revert just after 24 hours, are strongly discouraged and may trigger the need for remedies, such as an editing block on one's account.

Exceptions

Edits that do not contribute to edit warring are generally considered to be exceptions to the three-revert rule. These include reverts of obvious vandalism, reverts of banned users, and removal of potentially libelous text.

Please request protection rather than reverting. Violation of the three-revert rule may lead to protection of the page on the version preferred by the non-violating party, blocking or investigation by the Arbitration Committee.

See also

Policies
How-to
Essays
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