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 "three revert rule", a revert is defined more broadly as the undoing of another editor's work by returning any part of a page to an older version.
When to revert
- See also Wikipedia: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.
- If you feel the edit is unsatisfactory, try to improve it, if possible. This may entail factual or grammatical corrections, or style changes such as trimming verbosity.
- You can revert your own edit if you realize that it is wrong. Be careful if some other 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.
- If the edit you are considering reverting can instead be improved then try to reword, rather than reverting.
How to revert
- Go to the page, click on "history" at the top ("Page history" in some skins), and click on the time and date of the earlier version to which you wish to revert.
- When that page comes up, you'll see something like "Revision as of 22:19 Aug 15, 2002" below the title, with the username of the editor who saved that version.
- Verify that you have 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, sometimes interspersed with constructive edits.
- You will get a warning, above the edit box, about editing an out-of-date revision.
- Ignore the warning and save the page. Be sure to add the word "revert" and a brief explanation for the revert to the edit summary. Some editors abbreviate "revert" as "rv". It is possible to wikilink the usernames associated with the versions you are reverting from and to. For example, an edit summary when reverting vandalism could be
rv edits by 127.0.0.1 to last version by ExampleThe clickable links are created by entering [[User:Username|Username]] (replacing Username with the real IP address or Username, for logged-in users). So for the edit summary above, you would type exactly: rv edits by [[User:127.0.0.1|127.0.0.1]] to last version by [[User:Example|Example]]When reverting blatant vandalism, "rvv" normally suffices, as speed is more important than a full edit summary with usernames or IP addresses.
- 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. It is courteous to redo all the constructive edits that were undone along with the edit(s) which you intended to revert, and 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 the ISFDB Moderator noticeboard.
Latest versions of MediaWiki allow editors to 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, 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 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.
Moderators 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 intermediate confirmation diff page
- add automatic edit summary "Reverted edits by Example (talk) to last version by Example2", marking edit as minor
Rollback links appear on the User contributions pages, History pages and Diff pages. Note that in the last case rollback link 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 a 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 to specify which edits have to be undone (one may want to revert more or fewer edits than rollback does, or edits which do not include the last edit) and does not allow adding an explanation to the automatic edit summary.
Rollback is supposed to be used only 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's polite to leave an explanation on the article talk page or on the talk page of the user whose edit(s) you 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, admins 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 watchlist. The edits remain in the database and are not removed, but they no longer flood Recentchanges. 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 and negatively destabilize articles.
- They waste space in the database, and make the page history less useful.
- Some editors are sensitive, and to them a revert is a bit like a slap in the face: "I worked hard on those edits, and someone just rolled it all back."
- They make it harder for other people to contribute.
- They flood recent changes and watchlists.
Editors should not revert simply because of disagreement. Instead explore alternative methods such raising objections on a talk page.
When a revert is necessary, let people know why you reverted. The person whose material you reverted may then be able remake their edit, while correcting the problem that you have 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, e.g., "rv page blanking"). Because of the lack of non-verbal communication online, if you don't explain things clearly people may assume the wrong thing, and that's one of the possible causes for edit wars. Explaining reverts also helps people who are using the encyclopedia article and checking the edit history to see to what extent they can rely on the information in the article.
If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in the edit summary, leave a note on the Talk page. A nice thing to do is to leave a 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.
This page is derived from the MediaWiki help page on Reverting