Wikipedia:Don't revert due solely to "no consensus"
This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. 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 preserving "consensus" 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 boldnessEdit
“No consensus” reverting discourages bold contributions, which are essential to building Wikipedia. Be aware that the Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle is subject to Wikipedia:BRD misuse. “Discuss first” reverting of a bold editor, without starting such a discussion by stating basis for not including the reverted change, is no better: a discussion needs at least two parties. A reverted-editor deserves to know why the reverter believes the change should be reverted. A "first discuss" revert without any contribution on the talk page is neither helpful, constructive nor informative. See also: Wikipedia:Don't be a jerk and Wikipedia:Deny recognition.
Actually start and contribute to discussionsEdit
A “no consensus” revert without any further explanation is avoiding discussion. It's one of the strategies of Wikipedia:Status quo stonewalling. After all, reverting the edit already shows that there is no consensus. But when editors neglect to explain why they personally disagree with the edit or where the consensus in question was reached, they haven't given people a handle on how to build any new consensus that is desired to enhance WP's articles and the quality of their contributions.
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 about 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. Edits to 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, it's the responsibility of the reverter to show and prove 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 nor pointers for talk pages.
Be friendly towards new content and perspectivesEdit
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 itEdit
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 editsEdit
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.