Avoid edit wars

An edit war is when two or more contributors to an article on Wikivoyage continuously edit and re-edit the article to get across their point of view. For example, contributor A writes:

The best goth club in Toronto is the Nyghte Shayde Tavyrne.

Contributor B changes the article to:

The best goth club in Toronto is the Dimme Lyghte Tempyle.

Contributor A changes this back to NST. Contributor B changes it to DLT again. And so on, and so on, and so on. It's the wiki equivalent of two children shouting in each other's face: "Am not!" "Are too! "Am not!" "Are too!"

Edit wars are normally pretty bad things. They usually cause needless conflict and detract the attention of a lot of people from the task we have at hand. However, sometimes these conflicts are needed; sometimes we need to figure out an important issue of policy, of style, of whatever, and the edit war triggers that discussion.

What to do

If you get caught up in an edit war, here's what you need to do:

  • Step back for a second. No one is going to die because people don't really know the best goth club in Toronto for 12 or 24 hours. Bookmark the page, and come back to it later.
  • Use the talk page for the article to come to a consensus. This is what talk pages are for. Explain your position, and explain why you made the change. Say that you're trying to find a way out of the edit war.
  • Check your baggage. Are you remembering that the traveller comes first? How much of your editorial fervor really has to do with being fair, and how much has to do with some outside, non-travel issue?
  • Consider a neutral compromise. For the above problem, do we really need to say which goth club is really the "best"? Can't we just add listings for both goth clubs?
  • If you think there's a bigger question at hand, bring it up on the travellers' pub. Try to start a discussion about the bigger issue with all the community involved, rather than just those interested in goth clubs in Toronto.
  • Let the baby have their way. It is not your job in life to teach the other person in an edit war that they can't get away with their horrible actions. Just let them. If you don't think that there's a very serious problem with their version, just leave it. Trust that someone else will agree with you, and fix it themselves.

Severe edit wars

Note that we believe that Wiki works, and that an open page is the best policy. Any time two or more people can't work out their differences on talk pages, in public forums like the Travellers' pub, or between themselves, we've failed. An important part of what makes Wikivoyage powerful is that we believe in working things out directly, and not a lot of hierarchical nonsense.

However, that said, if an edit war has become severe, and discussion on talk pages isn't working, and the importance of the issue is worth undermining our principles of openness, then one of the administrators can declare a cooling-off period, protect the page in question so no other edits can take place, and demand that the interested parties come to consensus on a talk page.

We have very few protected pages on Wikivoyage, and this is a point of pride. When a protection happens it will make the next time more likely, and the third time after that. We'll get in a situation where people expect administrators to be the Big Boss and come in and tell everyone what to do. We don't want that. Let's avoid it.

You can contact an administrator to ask them to protect a page, but that doesn't mean they're going to do it. Make sure that all other means of solving the problem have been exhausted, and that a sufficient amount of time has passed that shows it won't be resolved without intervention. Remember that nobody likes a tattletale; you should be pretty darn sure that your problem is worth a cooling-off period.


During the cooling-off period, the combatants should work out a new consensus version of the article on the article's talk page, such as Talk:Toronto. Once they've come to consensus, an admin will unprotect the page.

See also