Edit wars

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Edit wars or Edit warring occurs when individual editors or groups of editors repeatedly revert content edits to a page or subject area. Such hostile behavior is prohibited and considered a breach of Wikiquette. Since it is an attempt to win a content dispute through brute force, edit warring undermines the consensus-building process that underlies the ideal wiki collaborative spirit.

Wikipedia works best when people with opposing opinions work together to find common ground. Our neutral point of view requires that all significant views can and should be documented proportionally. An edit war is the opposite of this, with two sides each fighting to make their version the only one.

What is wrong with edit warring?

Edit warring is an unproductive behavior characterized by repeated, combative reversion of others' edits. Wikipedia is founded on the principle that an open system can produce quality, neutral encyclopedic content. This requires reasoned negotiation, patience, and a strong community spirit, each of which is undercut by antisocial behavior like incivility and edit warring. A content revert is an intentional reversal of the changes made in good faith by another editor, rather than improving the article or working with the editor to resolve the dispute; it is not to be taken lightly. Editors who continue to edit war after proper education, warnings, and blocks on the matter degrade the community and the encyclopedia and may lose their editing privileges indefinitely.

What is edit warring?

Edit warring is not necessarily characterized by any single action; instead, it is characterized by any mindset that tolerates confrontational tactics to affect content disputes. Edit warring is the confrontational use of edits to win a content dispute. Identifying edit warring is often a judgment call administrators must make when cooling disputes. There are several measures that administrators currently use to determine when a user is engaged in edit warring.

The most common measure of edit warring is the three-revert rule, often abbreviated 3RR. A three-revert rule is a useful tool for measuring edit warring, as it posits that surpassing the absolute limit of three reverts on any one page in under 24 hours constitutes edit warring. While the three-revert rule is not to be interpreted blindly, reaching this threshold is generally a strong sign that there is serious misconduct afoot. The 3RR metric is not intended as an exemption for all conduct that stays under the threshold. For instance, edit warring could take the form of 4+ reverts on a page in a day, or three, or one per day for a protracted period of time, or one per page across many pages, or simply a pattern of isolated blind reverts as a first resort in response to disagreeable edits.

Edit warring is a distinct behavior characterized by a confrontational attitude. It is different in spirit than bold, revert, discuss cycle. Reverting vandalism and banned users is never edit-warring; at the same time, content disputes, even egregious POV edits, and other good-faith changes do not constitute vandalism.

Edit warring is the underlying behavior, not a simple measure of the number of reverts on a single page in a specific period of time.

Enforcement

The first resort in an edit war is always to attempt to inform users, especially new users, of Wikipedia's policies and practices, and the problems with their approach to editing. If other users observe such an ongoing exchange and cannot "talk down" the involved parties, or encourage them to enter the dispute resolution process, the involved offenders may be blocked for a period of time or the affected page(s) may be subject to protection at the discretion of an uninvolved administrator. Protection is useful when there is reason to believe that the involved parties will take the opportunity to resolve the conflict. Blocks are preferred when there is evidence that a user cannot or will not moderate their behavior, often demonstrated by an inflexible demeanor, incivility, or past instances of edit warring and unchanged behavior. It is common for repeat offenders to face escalating blocks and decreasing latitude for uncooperative behavior. In severe cases of abuse, warring parties who persist in punitive editing may be subject to Arbitration. Long-term incorrigible edit warriors are usually eventually banned, prevented from editing or reverting in their areas of conflict, or else lose interest in fighting their battles on Wikipedia and leave on their own.

Alternatives

Editors with combative mindsets should seek to replace an edit warring approach with that of Wikipedia reversion only when necessary. Before making multiple reverts going, consider discussing the disputed changes on the other editor's user talk page or yours, and remember that it is easy to misunderstand intentions and overestimate others' aggression on the Internet. Believing that an adversary is simply "wrong," "POV pushing," or "uncooperative" is never an excuse for edit warring.

Bringing wider attention to a dispute can help lead to compromise. Consider getting a third opinion or starting a request for comments. Neutral editors who are made aware of the dispute will help curb any truly egregious edits while also building consensus about the dispute.

When these methods fail, both informal and formal dispute resolution is available.

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