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Help:Reverting

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A revert is to undo all changes made to an article page after a specific time in the past. The result will be that the page becomes identical in content to the page saved at that time.

A partial revert is accomplished either by an ordinary edit of the current version, or by editing an old version. The former is convenient, for example, for a partial reversion of a recent addition, while the latter is convenient for a partial reversion of a deletion.

When to revert

Do

  • Reverting is a decision which should be taken seriously.
  • Reverting is used primarily for fighting vandalism.
  • If you are not sure whether a revert is appropriate, discuss it first rather than immediately reverting or deleting it.
  • If you feel the edit is unsatisfactory, improve it rather than simply reverting or deleting it.

Do not

  • Do not simply revert changes that are made as part of a dispute. Be respectful to other editors, their contributions and their points of view.
  • Do not revert good faith edits. In other words, try to consider the editor "on the other end." If what one is attempting is a positive contribution to Ballotpedia, a revert of those contributions is inappropriate unless, and only unless, you as an editor possess firm, substantive, and objective proof to the contrary. Mere disagreement is not such proof.
  • Generally there are misconceptions that problematic sections of an article or recent changes are the reasons for reverting or deletion. If they contain valid information, these texts should simply be edited and improved accordingly. Reverting is not a decision which should be taken lightly.
  • There's sometimes trouble determining whether some claim is true or useful, particularly when there are few people "on board" who are knowledgeable about the topic. In such a case, it's a good idea to raise objections on the article's talk page; if one has some reason to believe that the author of what appears to be biased material will not be induced to change it, editors have sometimes taken the step of transferring 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.
  • Do not revert changes simply because someone makes an edit you consider problematic, biased, or inaccurate. Improve the edit, rather than reverting it.

How to revert

  • Go to the page, click on "history" at the top, and click on the time and date of the earlier version to which you wish to revert.
  • Then when that page comes up, you'll see something like "(Revision as of 22:19 Aug 15, 2002)" below the title.
  • Verify that you've selected the correct version, and click to edit the page, as you would normally. 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.
  • You'll get a warning, above the edit box, about editing an out-of-date revision.
  • After heeding the warning, save the page. Be sure to add the word "revert" and a brief explanation for the revert to the edit summary. Some Wikipedians abbreviate "revert" as "rv" and "rvv" when reverting vandalism. A useful addition is to Wikilink the usernames associated with the versions you are reverting from and to. For example, a good edit summary would be

    rv edits by 219.148.86.36 to last version by January <p>or <p><center> rvv edits by 219.148.86.36 to last version by January <p>
The clickable links are created by entering [[User:Username|Username]] (replacing Username with the real IP address or Username for logged-in users, and replacing Username with their real username). Thus for an edit summary that reverts vandalism you would typed exactly:<p>
rvv edits by [[User:219.148.86.36|219.148.86.36]] to last version by [[User:David_Shear|David Shear]]

  • Click on "history" 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. You are responsible for re-doing all the subsequent edits constructive which you undid.
  • 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.

Undo

Instead of removing all changes after a certain version, the latest versions of MediaWiki allow a single edit to be undone. To do this, view the diff for the edit, and 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 undone edit doesn't exist but all later edits are retained.

This feature removes the need to manually redo useful changes since the "undone" edit. 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

Revert wars considered harmful

Reasons

Revert wars are usually considered harmful for the following reasons:

  1. They disrespect the work of the contributor. Being reverted can feel a bit like a slap in the face: "I worked hard on those edits, and someone just rolled it all back"
  2. They cause ill-will between users and negatively destabilize articles
  3. They make the page history less useful, waste space in the database
  4. They make it hard for other people to contribute, and flood recent changes and watchlists

Editors are discouraged to revert because there is disagreement, or the edit is bad or problematic. Users are encouraged to explore alternate methods like raising the objections on a talk page, or following the processes in dispute resolution.

Explain reverts

When a revert is necessary, it is very important to let people know why you reverted. This helps the reverted person because they can remake their edit, but fixing whatever problem it is that you've identified.

Explaining reverts also helps other people. For example, it lets people know whether they need to even view the reverted version (in the case of, eg, "rv page blanking"). Because of the lack of non-verbal communication online, if you don't explain things clearly people will probably assume all kinds of nasty things, and that's one of the possible causes for edit wars.

If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in the edit summary, drop a note on the Talk page. A nice thing to do is to drop the note on the Talk page first, and then revert, rather than the other way round. Sometimes the other person will agree with you and revert for you before you have a chance. Conversely, if someone reverts your change without apparent explanation, you may wish to wait a few minutes to see if they explain their actions on the article's talk page or your user talk page.