Reverting involves returning a page to a previous version of its history, as documented in the corresponding tab. In the context of the English Wikipedia's three-revert rule, a revert is defined more broadly as any action, including administrative actions, that reverses the actions of other editors, in whole or in part.
When to revert
- See also: Revert only when necessary
- Reverting should be taken very seriously.
- Reverting is often used for fighting vandalism and similar abuse.
- If you are not sure whether a revert is appropriate, discuss it first on the article's talk page.
- If you feel the edit is unsatisfactory, then try to improve it first, if possible. This may entail correcting factual information, grammar or writing style, such as trimming verbosity.
- You can revert your own edit, if you realize that it is incorrect. Before reverting, be sure to check if another editor has made changes in the interim.
- If only part of an edit is problematic, consider modifying only that part, instead of reverting the whole edit.
- Don't let superfluous or badly written material stand, in order to avoid slighting its original author. Though your intentions may be good, doing so shirks your duty to the reader.
- If your material is reverted, don't take it personally. Not every fact, detail or nuance belongs in an encyclopedia.
- If an edit can be improved by avoiding weasel words or re-phrasing in a more neutral point of view manner, then try to reword, rather than revert.
- Do not revert solely because "there is no consensus in favour of the change". Only revert if you actually think the previous version is better.
- Generally, there are misconceptions that problematic sections of an article or recent changes are the reasons for reverting or deletion. If they contain valid and encyclopedic information, these texts should simply be edited and improved accordingly.
- It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a claim is true or useful, particularly when there are few people "on board", who are knowledgeable about the topic. In such a case, it is a good idea to raise objections on a talk page; if there is reason to believe that the author of what appears to be biased material will not be induced to change it, editors sometimes choose to transfer the text in question to the talk page itself, thus not deleting it entirely. This action should be taken more or less as a last resort, never as a way of punishing people, who have written something biased. See also: Neutral point of view/FAQ
How to revert
- Go to the top of the page in question, click on the "history" or "page history" (in some skins) tab; then, click on the "time and date" of the earlier version, to which you wish to revert.
- When that page displays, you will see a phrase similar to: "This is an old revision of this page, as edited by ***.*.***.*** (Talk) at 15:47, January 24, 2009. It may differ significantly from the current revision."
- Verify that you have selected the correct "old revision" version and click on the "edit this page" tab, as you would normally do.
- Important: in the case of vandalism, take the time to make sure that you are reverting to the last version without the vandalism; there may be multiple consecutive vandal edits or they may be interspersed between the constructive edits.
- Above the edit box, you will see a warning similar to: "You are editing an old revision of this page. If you save it, any changes made since then will be removed."
- Ignore this warning and save the page. Be sure to add the word "revert" or the abbreviation "rv" and a brief explanation for the revert to the "edit summary". It is possible to wikilink the usernames, associated with the versions that you are reverting from and to.
- For example, when reverting vandalism by a user identified only by their IP address, an edit summary would be:
Reverted edits by [[Special:Contributions/<IP address>|<IP address>]] to last version by [[Special:Contributions/Example|Example]]
- When the username is known, an edit summary would be:
Reverted edits by [[User:<username>|<username>]] to last version by [[User:Example|Example]]
- For example, when reverting vandalism by a user identified only by their IP address, an edit summary would be:
- Note: when reverting blatant vandalism, "rvv" normally suffices, as speed is more important than a full edit summary with usernames or IP addresses.
- Click on the "history" tab again. A new line will have been added and you will be able to verify (by clicking on "last"), that you undid the vandalism, plus all subsequent bona fide edits, if any. It is courteous to redo all the constructive edits that were undone along with the edit(s) which you intended to revert. This should always be done, where it is reasonably possible.
- In a vandalism case, where sections of text were simply deleted and then, subsequent edits were made by others, it may be easier for you to cut and paste those missing sections of text back in, than to revert and then, re-do the edits.
- Check the contribution history of the user, who vandalized the article. (Click on the IP address for anonymous users or the "contribs" for registered users.) If this user is vandalizing many articles, please report them to administrator intervention against vandalism at Wikipedia or to the relevant administrators' noticeboard on other projects.
You can revert a single edit from the history of a page, without simultaneously undoing all constructive changes that have been made since. To do this, view the diff for the edit, then click on 'undo' above the newer version. The software will attempt to create an edit page with a version of the article in which the undesirable edit has been removed, but all later edits are retained. There is a default edit summary, but it can be changed. It is also possible to make further modifications before saving.
This feature removes the need to manually redo useful changes that were made after the edit which is being reverted. However, it will fail, if undoing the edit would conflict with later edits. For example, if edit 1000 adds a paragraph and edit 1005 modifies that paragraph, it will be impossible to automatically undo edit 1000. In this case, you must determine how to resolve the problem manually.
Vandals may click "undo" next to reversions of vandalism to easily load the vandalism back onto the page. These actions are reverted and treated as vandalism.
Administrators and users who have been granted access to the tool have additional "rollback" links, which:
- appear only next to the top edit
- revert all top consequent edits made by last editor
- work immediately, without the intermediate confirmation diff page
- add automatic edit summary "Reverted edits by Example (talk) to last version by Example2 ", marking edit as minor (m)
Rollback links appear on the user contributions pages, history pages and diff pages. Note that in the last case, rollback links can be misleading, since reversion is not necessarily to the old version shown (the diff page may show the combined result of edits, including some by other editors or only part of the edits the rollback button would revert). To see the changes the rollback button will revert, view the specific diff, which compares the last version from the last editor with the last version from the previous editor.
Rollback works much quicker than undo, since it:
- allows reverting without even looking at the list of revisions or diff
- does not require loading an edit page and sending the wikitext back to the server
- does not require a click of the save button
On the other hand, it is not as versatile as undo, since it does not allow specification of which edits have to be undone. One may want to revert more or less edits than the rollback does or edits which do not include the last edit. It also does not allow adding an explanation to the automatic edit summary. Rollback is supposed to be used to revert obvious vandalism.
Rolling back a good-faith edit, without explanation, may be misinterpreted as "I think your edit was no better than vandalism and reverting it doesn't need an explanation". Some editors are sensitive to such perceived slights; if you use the rollback feature other than for vandalism (for example, because undo is impractical due to the large page size), it is courteous to leave an explanation on the article's talk page or on the talk page of the user, whose edit(s) you have reverted.
If someone else edited or rolled back the page, before you clicked "rollback" link or if there was no previous editor, you will get an error message.
In cases of flood vandalism, administrators may choose to hide vandalism from recent changes. To do this, add &bot=1 to the end of the URL, used to access a user's contributions. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Special:Contributions&target=SomePersistentVandal&bot=1.
When the rollback links on the contributions list are clicked, the revert and the original edit, that you are reverting will both be hidden from recent changes, unless you click the "bots" link to set hidebots=0. The edits are not hidden from contributions lists, page histories or watchlists. The edits remain in the database and are not removed, but they no longer flood "Recent changes". The aim of this feature is to reduce the annoyance factor of a flood vandal, with relatively little effort. This should not be used for reverting a change you just don't like, but is meant only for massive floods of simple vandalism.
Revert wars are considered harmful
Revert wars are usually considered harmful, for the following reasons:
- They cause ill-will between users, negatively destabilize articles and make other editors wary of contributing.
- They waste space in the database, make the page history less useful and flood the recent changes and watchlists.
- Some editors may be sensitive and to them, a revert is "a bit like a slap in the face"; for example: "I worked hard on those edits and someone just rolled it all back".
- They often produce inconsistencies in an article's content, because the editors involved focus only on one part of the article without considering other sections or articles that depend on it.
Editors should not revert simply because of disagreement. Instead, explore alternative methods, such raising objections on a talk page or following the processes in dispute resolution.
- Main article: 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 day. 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.
When a revert is necessary, please let people know why the edit was reverted. The editor whose material was reverted may then be able to revise their edit, thus correcting the problem that was identified.
Explaining reverts will also help other editors. For example, an explanation may let other editors know, whether or not, they need to even view the reverted version, such as in the case of blanking a page. Due to the nature of online, non-verbal communication, if actions are not explained clearly enough, wrong assumptions may be made by the other editors. This is one of the most common causes of an edit war. Explaining reverts also helps users, who are reading the encyclopedia article and checking the edit history, to see to what extent the information in the article is reliable or current.
If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in the edit summary, leave a note on the Talk page. It is sometimes best to leave a note on the Talk page first and then revert, rather than the other way around; thus giving 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.
Edits that do not contribute to edit warring, are generally considered to be exceptions to the three-revert rule, such as reverts of obvious vandalism, reverts of banned users or removal of potentially libelous text. For further information, see: Exceptions to the three-revert rule.
Please request protection rather than reverting. Violation of this rule may lead to protection of the page on the version preferred by the non-violating party, blocking or investigation by the Arbitration Committee.
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