This is an explanatory supplement to the Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Be bold pages.
|This page in a nutshell: Making bold edits is encouraged, as it will result in either improving an article, or stimulating discussion. If your edit gets reverted, do not revert again. Instead, begin a discussion with the person who reverted your change to establish consensus.|
The BOLD, revert, discuss cycle (BRD) is an optional method of reaching consensus. This process is not mandated by Wikipedia policy, but it can be useful for identifying objections, keeping discussion moving forward and helping to break deadlocks. In other situations, you may have better success with alternatives to this approach. Care and diplomacy should be exercised. Some editors will see any reversion as a challenge, so be considerate and patient.
Bold editing is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia. All editors are welcome to make positive contributions. It's how new information is added to Wikipedia. When in doubt, edit! Similarly, if you advance a potential contribution on the article's talk page, and no response is received after a reasonable amount of time, go ahead and make your contribution. Sometimes other editors are busy, or nobody is watching the article. Either the edit will get the attention of interested editors, or you will simply improve the article. Either is a good outcome. If a bold edit might be controversial, consider adding "(revert if inappropriate)" or similar to the edit summary to alert others.
Revert an edit if it is not an improvement, and it cannot be immediately fixed by refinement. Consider reverting only when necessary. BRD does not encourage reverting, but recognizes that reversions happen. When reverting, be specific about your reasons in the edit summary and use links if needed. Look at the article's history and its talk page to see if a discussion has begun. If not, you may begin one. (See Wikipedia:Wikipedia abbreviations for a glossary of common abbreviations you might see.)
Discuss the contribution, and the reasons for the contribution, on the article's talk page with the person who reverted your contribution. Don't restore your changes or engage in back-and-forth reverting.
Cycle. To avoid bogging down in discussion, when you have a better understanding of the reverter's concerns, you may attempt a new edit that reasonably addresses some aspect of those concerns. You can try this even if the discussion has not reached an explicit conclusion, but be sure you don't engage in any kind of edit warring.
- When to use
- While editing a particular page that many editors are discussing with little to no progress being made, or when an editor's concerns are not addressed on the talk page after a reasonable amount of effort.
- How to proceed
- Discover the Very Interested Persons (VIP), and reach a compromise or consensus with each, one by one.
- Be bold, and make what you currently believe to be the optimal changes based on your best effort. Your change might involve re-writing, rearranging, adding or removing information.
- Wait until someone reverts your edit. You have now discovered a VIP.
- Discuss the changes you would like to make with this VIP, perhaps using other forms of Wikipedia dispute resolution as needed, and reach a consensus. Apply the consensus. When reverts have stopped and parties all agree, you are done.
BRD is most useful for pages where seeking and achieving consensus in advance of the bold edit could be difficult, perhaps because it is not clear which other editors are watching or sufficiently interested in the page, though there are other suitable methods. BRD helps editors who have a good grasp of a subject to rapidly engage discussion.
Examples cases for use include where:
- Two factions are engaged in an edit war and a bold edit is made as a compromise or middle ground.
- A bold change during an edit war should be an adaptive edit to discourage further warring and not to escalate it; it should never be another revert. Engaging in similar behavior by reverting a contribution during an edit war could be seen as disruptive and may garner sanctions. Never continue an edit war as an uninvolved party.
- Discussion has died out with no agreement being reached.
- Discussion is a major part of BRD and must never be skipped. If you make a bold edit in regards to any material under discussion and you do not engage on the talk page, you are not applying BRD properly. Discussion is best applied as soon as a bold edit is made to encourage further talk, but is not required until your edit is questioned, either in an edit summary accompanying a revert, or at the discussion itself.
- Active discussion is not producing results.
- Editing is encouraged where a discussion may have gone nowhere. Add your contribution and see what happens. Be willing to collaborate and discuss further if your addition is removed.
- Your view differs significantly from a rough consensus on an emotionally loaded subject.
- New editors come to controversial articles often and make good faith contributions. Many times a rough consensus of editors has held for some time. A new edit may encourage more or fewer editors to support a particular direction. This can be a controversial move and can create disputes. Discussion and change in a civil manner are encouraged.
- Local consensus is currently opposed to making any changes whatsoever (when pages are frozen, "policy", or high-profile)
- When an article is deemed frozen by a group of editors, it creates an impression that the article is complete and no further edits are needed. This is not how Wikipedia works. Local consensus to freeze editing cannot override Wikipedia:Editing policy.
BRD is best used by experienced Wikipedia editors. It may require more diplomacy and skill to use successfully than other methods, and has more potential for failure. Using BRD in volatile situations is discouraged.
In general, BRD fails if:
- ...there is consensus in the community against the specific change you'd like to make.
- ...there is a dispute on the page, by editors with entrenched positions, and you are reigniting a debate that has achieved stalemate without consensus.
- ...the page is protected. (You may request unprotection.)
- ...the page is subject to some other access control. (Get the control lifted.)
- ...you lose tempo.
- ...a single editor is reverting changes and exhibiting other forms of ownership attitudes.
- ...individuals who are disinterested revert bold changes.
BRD is especially successful where:
- ... people haven't really thought things through yet.
- ... people are only discussing policy or theory, and are not applying reasoning or trying to negotiate consensus.
- ... people are talking past each other instead of getting down to brass tacks with concrete proposals.
In short: boldly negotiate where no one has negotiated before.
What BRD is not
- BRD is not a justification for imposing one's own view or for tendentious editing.
- BRD is not a valid excuse for reverting good-faith efforts to improve a page simply because you don't like the changes.
- BRD is never a reason for reverting. Unless the reversion is supported by policies, guidelines or common sense, the reversion is not part of BRD cycle.
- BRD is not an excuse to revert any change more than once. If your reversion is met with another bold effort, then you should consider not reverting, but discussing. The talk page is open to all editors, not just bold ones. The first person to start a discussion is the person who is best following BRD.
- BRD is not mandatory. Neither are editors obliged to start it nor are they obliged to stick to it just because you started it. They may try one of the alternatives given below, or even an alternative not mentioned here.
- BRD is not a valid course of action when using advanced permissions. Editors with permissions such as administrator or template editor can take actions which few editors are able to revert if they disagree preventing the R step of BRD.
Making bold edits may sometimes draw a response from an interested editor, who may have the article on their watchlist. If no one responds, you have the silent consensus to continue editing. If your edit is reverted, the BRD cycle has been initiated by the reverting editor.
After someone reverts your change, thus taking a stand for the existing version or against the change, you can proceed toward a consensus with the challenging editor through discussion on a talk page. While discussing the disputed content, neither editors should revert or change the content being discussed until a compromise or consensus is reached. Each pass through the cycle may find a new, interested editor to work with, or new issue being disputed. If you follow the process as it is intended each time, you should eventually achieve consensus with all parties. As such, BRD is in general not an end unto itself; it moves the process past a blockage, and helps people get back to cooperative editing.
If the BRD process works ideally (sometimes it does not), people will after a time begin to refrain from outright reversion, and edits will start to flow more naturally.
For each step in the cycle, here are some points to remember.
- Stay focused: Make only changes you absolutely need to. A bold edit doesn't have to be a huge edit, and keeping your edit focused is more likely to yield results than making an over-reaching change.
- See what happens next: Stop editing the page long enough to see if anyone objects. Depending on the nature of your change and the traffic on the page, this may take anywhere from mere minutes to more than a week.
- Expect resistance—even hostility: Be ready to start a discussion as soon as you notice that anyone has objected. If you want, you can even write your response while you are waiting to see what happens.
- Be respectful: Regardless of what others say, keep your composure.
- Before reverting, first consider whether the original text could have been better improved in a different way or if part of the edit can be fixed to WP:PRESERVE some of the edit, and whether you would like to make that bold edit instead. Partial reversion, WP:PARTR, is better than complete reversion. The other disputant may respond with another bold edit, or with a refinement on your improvement. The "Bold–refine" process is the ideal collaborative editing cycle. Improving pages through collaborative editing is ideal. However, if you find yourself making reversions or near-reversions, then stop editing and move to the next stage, "Discuss".
- Before reverting a change to an article in the absence of explicit consensus, be sure you actually have a disagreement with the content of the bold edit (and can express that disagreement), not merely a concern that someone else might disagree with the edit. A revert needs to present a path forward, either by expressing a concern with the content of the edit itself, or pointing to a previous discussion that did.
- In the edit summary of your revert, briefly explain why you reverted and (possibly with a link to WP:BRD) encourage the bold editor to start a discussion on the article talk page if they want to learn more about why you reverted. Alternatively, start a discussion yourself on the article talk page about the issue. People feel more cooperative if you let them know that you're willing to listen to their case for the change. Otherwise, a revert can seem brusque.
- If you revert twice, then you are no longer following the BRD cycle: If your reversion is reverted, then there may be a good reason for it. Go to the talk page to learn why you were reverted.
- If people start making non-revert changes again, you are done: The normal editing cycle has been restored.
- If your bold edit was reverted, then do not re-revert to your version. If your reversion was reverted, then do not re-revert to your version. If you re-revert, then you are no longer following BRD.
- Adhere to Wikiquette and civility guidelines: The easiest way to intensify this cycle and make it unbreakable is to be uncivil. Try to lead by example and keep your partner in the same mindset.
- Talk with one or at most two partners at once. As long as the discussion is moving forward, do not feel the need to respond to everyone, as this increases the chance of discussion losing focus and going far afield. Stay on point and pick your responses. If discussion dies off, you can always go back and get yourself reverted again to find (or refind) other interested parties.
- Carefully consider whether "policy", "consensus", or "procedure" are valid reasons for the revert: These sometimes get overused on consensus-based wikis even though consensus can change. On the other hand, repeatedly rehashing old arguments without new reasoning might strike some editors as being disruptive (see also rehashing). It is OK to disagree with a past consensus, but use reasonable discretion when you want to revisit such issues. If you choose not to back off immediately, it will help if you:
- Listen very carefully: You are trying to get the full and considered views of those who care enough to disagree with your edit. If you do not listen and do not try to find consensus, you are wasting everyone's time. You should not accept "It's policy, live with it."
- Be ready to compromise: If you browbeat someone into accepting your changes, you are not building consensus, you are making enemies. This cycle is designed to highlight strongly opposing positions, so if you want to get changes to stick both sides will have to bend, possibly even bow. You should be clear about when you are compromising and should expect others to compromise in return, but do not expect it to be exactly even.
- Discuss on a talk page: Don't assume that an edit summary can constitute "discussion": There is no way for others to respond. You can use the article's talk page (preferred) or the editor's user talk page, but one or the other is the proper forum for the discussion component of the BRD cycle.
- Let the other editor apply agreed-upon changes. If they don't want to, that's okay, but be sure to offer. The offer alone shows deference and respect. If that editor accepts, (1) the history will show who made the change and the other editor will have control over the precise wording (keeping you from applying a change different from the one agreed upon). And, (2) such a practice prevents you from falling afoul of the three-revert rule.
- Assume this revision will not be the final version. You do not have to get it all done in one edit. If you can find consensus on some parts, make those changes, and let them settle. This will give everyone a new point to build from. Having completed one successful cycle, you may also find it easier to get traction for further changes, or you may find you have reached a reasonable compromise and can stop.
- Do not edit war. Once discussion has begun, restoring one's original edit without taking other users' concerns into account may be seen as disruptive. These so-called "re-reverts" are uncollaborative and could incur sanctions such as a block. The objective is to seek consensus, not force one's own will upon other editors. If you encounter several reverts, it is best not to escalate the situation by reverting again. Instead, try to build consensus through seeking additional input. Several methods for this are listed at Wikipedia:Dispute resolution.
- However, don't get stuck on the discussion. Whichever side you happen to be on, try to move the discussion towards consensus by getting pro/con points identified so that a new edit may be attempted as quickly as possible. Feel free to try a new bold edit during the discussion if the new edit reasonably reflects some aspect of the opposing editors' concerns. This approach quickly determines whether the important issues have been resolved; if not, it brings the core sticking points into focus. Warning: Repeatedly doing this can easily violate the 3RR policy and get good-faith editors blocked even during a productive editing exchange. Any such edits must be clear attempts to try a modified solution that reflects some aspect of the other editor's remarks. If you have reached three reverts within a 24 hour period (3RR bright-line rule), do not edit that content in any manner that reverts any content, in whole or in part, even as little as a single word, for over 24 hours. Doing so just past the 24-hour period could be seen as gaming the system and sanctions may still be applied.
- Because of the nature of Wikipedia, a BRD cycle may begin naturally, without either editor even realizing it. Once begun, its purpose requires that no reversion be counter-reverted. If this happens, something akin to stalling an aircraft happens. If you're not feeling up to it, it might be best to walk away for a while. Unlike the immediate danger of an aircraft plummeting to the ground, Wikipedia will be here a long while, so you can always come back later. Otherwise, if you have the energy and the time, use the suggestions on this page to "pull out". Then continue working as per consensus.
- If you attempt to apply BRD two or more times in quick succession, you are in danger of violating the principle of seeking consensus, and you might just end up in a revert-war with the first responder. Take it one at a time.
BRD doesn't work well in all situations. It is ideally suited to disputes that involve only a small number of people, all of whom are interested in making progress. There are many other options, and some may be more suitable for other situations.
- Bold, revert, bold again: Don't stop editing, and don't discuss. Make a guess about why the reverter disagreed with you, and try a different edit to see whether that will be accepted. It's often helpful if your next effort is smaller, because that may help you figure out why the other editor objected to your change.
- Bold, revert, revert: If you genuinely believe the reversion was a mistake you might try speeding things up by reverting the revert, but you should explain why you think the other editor made a mistake in a note or edit summary to reduce the risk of edit warring. An example of such a mistake is when someone reverts your removal of duplicate material because they didn't realize that the same sentence was on the page twice. Not an example of such a mistake: A revert with a rationale that you disagree with, or that does not make sense to you.
- You edit, they edit, you edit again: Also called bold, refine, if the other editors are improving your edit rather than improving a different part of the page. This is successful, collaborative editing. Keep at it.
- Discuss first: Don't be bold with potentially controversial changes; instead, start a discussion on the talk page first. Make no edits to the page until you have agreement.
- Bold, discuss: You do not need to revert an edit before the discussion can start. If you see (or make) a bold edit and you want to talk about it, then you can click on the talk page and start discussing it. You might discover ways to refine it, or you might discover that you're satisfied with the edit as it is.
- Let it go: Move on to another article. You might be able to improve a hundred articles in the time that it takes you to discuss this one. Why not move on?
Several dispute resolution processes may also be useful to break a deadlock.
- Wikipedia:A note regarding BRD
- Wikipedia:BRD misuse
- Wikipedia:Controversial articles
- Wikipedia:Don't revert due solely to "no consensus"
- Wikipedia:Shortcut directory or what those WTF? OMG! TMD TLA. ARG! actually mean
- Wikipedia:Method for consensus building
- Wikipedia:The role of policies in collaborative anarchy
- Wikipedia:Editing policy § Try to fix problems
- 12 Angry Men (1957 film): a movie in which one of the characters (the architect) applies a variant on BRD in a "real life" jury. The architect finds the position of each of the other jury members in turn, enters discussion with that jury member, and thus over time manages to convince the jury to acquit the accused.