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One day, you read an article on something. You take it as fact. Several months, weeks, or days later, you come back to the same article. Now it says something totally different. In fact, in some cases, it may not be there at all
There are many reasons for an article to change. Some articles have dated information that constantly requires updates. Part of the beauty of the Wiki system is that information can be updated moments after it changes. Sometimes, an editor will discover a better way to write something. Or sometimes, the article will just be expanded as more information that previously was not included was added; this often results in more articles being created.
Policies and guidelines can change
The way Wikipedia is run is dictated by quite a large number of policy and guideline pages
, found in project namespace
. They cover everything from the behavior expected from all editors, to whether or not something is worthy of inclusion, to the styles in which various content should be written. Policies and guidelines have been determined through the power of consensus
, and are constantly cited as editors try to reach consensus on other issues.
But if you look at any policy or guideline page, you may notice the edit tab is there too. It is just as open to editing as any article. Few of these pages have full protection
, and many are free from semi-protection
, allowing literally anyone
to edit them.
Now that you are aware of this, you may be tempted to go ahead and make all the changes you wish to all the policy and guideline pages to suit your own beliefs. But it is important to be aware that as their contents were decided through consensus, it usually takes consensus to make any changes to them.
Yes, it is easy to click the edit tab, write in whatever you would like, and then save your changes to a policy or guideline page. But the likelihood that these changes will be reverted is extremely high even for veteran editors who make such changes to these pages without a discussion. If you have a great idea on how a policy or guideline should change, it is best to start a discussion on that page's talk page
. Or, if no policy/guideline pages cover the topic you wish, you could create a new project page called a proposal
You also have the option of writing an essay
. Essays contain the advice, opinions, ideas, and policy/guideline interpretations of one or more editors. There are hundreds of essays on Wikipedia. In fact, this page itself is an essay. Unlike policy and guideline pages, they do not require consensus to be written. As for being modified, you guessed it
You may or may not be interested in making any changes to the policies and guidelines. Even so, that does not mean it isn't happening. One day, you may read what some of them are. You may follow them as if they were that, only to check back some time later and find they have changed. If so, they have probably changed for a good reason too.
Discussion is not standing policy
An agreement has been made. But this is still not a new law.
A discussion is held. An agreement was made between all the participants. A conclusion was reached, and changes were made to the related page as a result. Now, the results can be permanently applied everywhere throughout Wikipedia.
Fact is, consensus can change
. Many factors both inside of Wikipedia and in the outside world can cause members of the Wikipedia to change their minds on an issue. Subjects that at one time were not notable can become notable, and those once thought to be notable can later be found not to be. A certain behavior among editors can be allowed one day, then disallowed the next. There is always room for change.
Each page in every namespace
has an attached talk page
where discussions are held on how to best write and maintain that page
. These discussions are particularly necessary when two or more editors cannot agree on how the page should be displayed. Each situation from a discussion is determined on a case-by-case basis. That is their purpose. Their outcomes do not dictate what goes on elsewhere.
The same is true whenever a discussion is held for a deletion
. Each such discussion is determined individually, and its outcome does not automatically mean others will be handled identically.