There are many methods on Wikipedia for resolving disputes. Most methods are not formal processes and do not involve third-party intervention. Respond to all disputes or grievances, in the first instance, by approaching the editor or editors concerned and explaining which of their edits you object to and why you object. Use the article talk page or their user talk page to do so; be civil, polite, and always assume good faith
Follow the normal protocol
When you find a passage in an article that is biased, inaccurate, or unsourced the best practice is to improve it if you can
rather than deleting salvageable text. For example, if an article appears biased, add balancing material or make the wording more neutral. Include citations
for any material you add. If you do not know how to fix a problem, ask for help on the talk page.
To help other editors understand the reasoning behind your edits, always explain your changes in the edit summary
. If an edit is too complex to explain in an edit summary, or the change is contentious, add a section to the talk page that explains your rationale. Be prepared to justify your changes to other editors on the talk page. If you are reverted, continue to explain yourself; do not start an edit war.
Discuss with the other party
Talking to other parties is not a mere formality, but an integral part of writing the encyclopedia. Discussing heatedly or poorly – or not at all – will make other editors less sympathetic to your position, and prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. Sustained discussion between the parties, even if not immediately successful, demonstrates your good faith and shows you are trying to reach a consensus
. Try negotiating a truce
or proposing a compromise
Do not continue edit warring; once sustained discussion begins, productively participating in it is a priority. Uninvolved editors who are invited to join a dispute will likely be confused and alarmed if there are large numbers of reverts or edits made while discussion is ongoing.
Focus on content
Focus on article content during discussions, not on editor conduct; comment on content, not the contributor. Wikipedia is written through collaboration, and assuming that the efforts of others are in good faith
is therefore vital. Bringing up conduct during discussions about content creates a distraction to the discussion and may inflame the situation.
Focusing on content, and not bringing up conduct, can be difficult if it seems other editors are being uncivil or stubborn. Stay cool
! It is never to your benefit to respond in kind. When it becomes too difficult or exhausting to maintain a civil discussion based on content, you should seriously consider going to an appropriate dispute resolution venue detailed below
; but at no juncture should you lose your temper. Wikipedia is not like a lot of the Internet: we expect editors to be polite and reasonable at all times.
Most situations are not actually urgent; there are no deadlines
on Wikipedia, and perfection is not required
. At all stages during discussion, consider whether you should take a break from the dispute. Taking a deep breath and sleeping on it often helps. You can always return to the discussion later, but at least you will return without an inflamed temper.
Take a long-term view of the situation. You will probably be able to return and carry on editing an article when the previous problems no longer exist and the editor you were in dispute with might themselves move on. The disputed article will continue to evolve, other editors may become interested, and they might have different perspectives if the issue comes up again. Even if your position on the article is not accepted, it might be in the future.
Disengaging is particularly helpful when in dispute with new users
, as it gives them a chance to familiarise themselves with Wikipedia's policies and culture. As of 20 June 2021, there are 6,321,093 articles
on Wikipedia. Focus your contributions on another article, where you can more easily make constructive edits.