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.
Something ticks you off! As many good men and women do, you have your ideology, the motor of your existence. You have an opinion; nay, you have knowledge, and you wish to spread the Word on wikipedia.
Often when attempting to "spread the faith" as it were, you encounter one serious problem: other editors. There is you, and a bunch of Nazi-esque [blank]-ists. You are the prophet, they are the persecutors.
You insert your content, but they remove it. You remove [blank]-ist dogma, they put it back. You have no choice but to perform on them what is called a revert. When other editors continue to remove your content, and you stand tall against them, you are in a revert war.
There will certainly be many users of the opposite ideology. Worse still are the "neutrals" (crypto-[blank]-ists in fact, even if they don't know it!). These users have an ideology even more extreme and yet more sinister than your ideological opposites: adherence to that nonsense, WP:NPOV. Those spoil-sports can be a real nuisance, as they can be harder to bait and harder to discredit. On the plus side, they are unlikely to care as much, so doggedness may be all you need here.
But don't worry, if you follow a few simple rules, you can prevail in most revert wars and in most editorial conflict, and thus spread the faith to your heart's content.
- Know the editorial background and don't pick a fight you can never win. An editor more experienced and more active than you simply means a lost cause. Sometimes you won't know which other users will have these pages on their watchlist. If too many users will object strongly, you can never win. In this case it's probably better not to fight in the first place. All you will gain is some unwanted fame and maybe a block or two.
- Do not violate WP:3RR, otherwise your opponent can have you blocked, and will thus be free to have his or her version of the particular page or pages for at least the length of your block. Being blocked also increases the chances of future admin intervention coming down against you.
- Be dogged. Persist as far as you can and never give up. If you persist longer than your opponent, you will win. Revert-war stamina will bring victory.
- IPs are unpredictable. Remember an IP does not have a reputation or hard work to lose so think twice before making your moves.
Intermediate tactics and gambits
- Know that the initiator has the advantage! Insertion of new content is not a revert. If your opponent inserts something first, this doesn't count as a revert. It goes like this: OPPONENTEDIT -> YOURREVERT1 -> OPPPONENTREVERT1 -> YOURREVERT2 -> OPPONENTREVERT2 -> YOURREVERT3
-> OPPONENTREVERT3-> YOUR3RRVIOLATION. OPPONENT thus wins because OPPONENT moved first. SO then, if revert and counter-revert follow, your opponent will emerge with an advantage. Your opponent will always win within any 24-hour cycle. If the reverting happens quickly, your daily allowance of reverts could be over in minutes. You must therefore pick your revert timing carefully. And know that the above rule can actually be used to your advantage. As WP:3RR concerns the reversion of any content, you can bleed your opponent's allowance away by insertion of different content. You can never violate WP:3RR by adding new content. Make an edit you know your opponent won't like. If he reverts it, you can add different content your opponent also won't like. If you do this three times and are reverted three times, your opponent is out of reverts for the day, and you can safely restore your preferred version.
- Buffer your reverts and make boring edits also count! After you've performed a major revert to your opponent, make a number of small basic edits improving the language or formatting of the article. Do as many of these as you can, preferably in separate edits. Then if your opponent reverts you, they will either have the added work of adding your small edits back or mass reverting you. I.e. you can either waste their time (more than you'll waste performing them) or make them look bad to any admin or commentator.
- Know your opponent's schedule. Most human beings sleep for around 8 hours each day. If you know when that will occur for your opponent, revert them just after their sleep probably begins, and you will have the whole sleep with the right version. Additionally, the opponent may have other regular hours he or she spends away from Wikipedia. If you know those too, you'll be in an even better position.
Protecting yourself against forces of nature
Beware of RanSAI, random sanctimonious administrative intervention. This force of nature is unpredictable, and could come along at any time. As a result, you have to ensure you are as prepared as possible.
- Make an appearance of using the talk page now and then. This will ameliorate the bad appearance of "edit warring" in any random admin's eyes.
- Try to appear to follow Wikipedia guidelines on editorial interaction, such as WP:CIVIL and WP:AGF. Serious violations of these are considered by many trigger-happy admins to be blockable offenses in their own right, and they also increase the chances of being blocked for edit warring by reducing the admin's sympathy for you.
- Be as subtly discourteous towards your opponent as possible. This may require detailed knowledge of the opponent's character, but if pulled off can be very rewarding. Causing your opponent offense and frustration without obviously doing so can make them violate WP:CIVIL with no loss to yourself. Your opponent will be discredited, and if blocked, you will be allowed to edit unopposed and retain your own preferred versions of pages for at least the length of the block.
- If a RanSAI does occur, try to get in the admin's good-books as quickly as you can. Appeal to the admin's self-righteousness. This may mean apologizing immediately for any offence you "may have caused". Try at least to seize the initiative, and if you see it coming, get to the admin before your opponent does. You can even, if your opponent has violated WP:CIVIL (or even if he hasn't), collect some diffs and bring it to the admin's attention. If new to the situation, the admin will probably take the view that things have just got heated, so you should say this before the admin does and suggest that you "probably need to cool down".
- Once RanSAI has occurred, it is likely that the intensity of your opponent's opposition will die down for a while. You should be very careful about how you take advantage of this, as the admin may still be watching. One approach in many cases is to bombard the admin with more info than he or she will be interested in reading or be able to process. This will at least discourage some other admins from fresh interference, and it may even cause the de facto end to the entire RanSAI, leaving you once again one-on-one.
Wikiculture and dealing with neutral "experts"
The good news is that on Wikipedia, despite being an encyclopedia, knowledge is egalitarian, discipline is not. This is one of your biggest advantages. The enforcers of Wikipedia policy, its administrative class, are unlikely to be a big deal to you, as long as you aren't too clumsy. Admins enforce disciplinary policies, not encyclopedic policies. Yes WP:NPOV is in theory a policy, but they're unlikely to have any knowledge of your pet-topics or much interest in them, being primarily a collection of seasoned vandal-fighters and talk-loving, action-shy mandarins. And even if they do, they won't be able to express an opinion, however expert, without becoming "involved" and thus unable to act. The only policies taken seriously in practice are policies concerning behaviour and discipline. With encyclopedic information, all you need to prevail are numbers! Thus, even if some "neutral" has more knowledge than you, you can still make him your bitch!
- When engaged in a revert-war with this "expert", bombard him with endless posts on the talk page. If he makes any arguments which are hard to refute, well, just skip over them in your response and they are as good as nullified (who else is reading, after all!). He then may do one of the following. 1) Get tired and go away ... good! 2) Ignore you and continue reverting ... in which case you can try to have him blocked for revert-warring without discussion. 3) Get frustrated and become "uncivil" ... again, have some champagne, you can get him blocked.
- Bog him down. The "expert" doesn't have a lot of time, and probably wants to do something else. With all the time you have, with any luck you can drive him into the ground and away from your issues and perhaps from Wikipedia.
- Tag sentences elsewhere. Staying with the theme of time-wasting, check out some of this "expert"'s other articles and see if they have many sentences in "need" of citations. Stick some tags on them, especially if the article in question was written long ago. Either your "expert" will need to find and write out a bunch of citations, killing loads of his time, or your "expert" will, knowing he can never prove you've only done this in bad faith, get frustrated, lose his restraint and perhaps get himself closer to that block or warning you're after.
- Find brothers-of-the-faith. With proper use of email, instant messenger, talk pages and "project pages", you can overwhelm with numbers. After all, it's all a numbers game, and three brothers alone can nullify one "expert" in a revert war without performing more than one revert. With the recent advent of blind anti-"edit-warring" ideology in the admin community, he has no chance. If he continues to try to enforce WP:NPOV (even if he is an admin!), you can bust his sorry ass into blockville. You can revert, he must edit-war. He can spend all his wiki-time pouring his little heart and brain into the talk pages, and, as long as you or one of your friends "responds" occasionally, you can watch and laugh knowing your article is safe!
- If the above doesn't work, you can always create brothers-of-the-faith. This means creating sockpuppets, new usernames which you control. You can create, in theory, as many as you like. If you think this is wrong, then just remember it's merely a small wrong which you are using to overcome a greater wrong! Whenever you need a friend to add extra weight to a discussion, or just that one more revert, your new friend or friends will definitely be there for you. You can even close votes and create your own WP:Consensus from time to time, when the issue is important enough. The downside is that if you do this too often, you'll create suspicion which may lead to a checkuser discovering your holy misdemeanors. The upside on that is that if you are careful and use your new friends conservatively, it will take months, maybe even years, and a lot of work, to find you out. If you are careful enough, perhaps even never. And even if they do, you can start again from scratch!