It's been a while since I've written a help blog. It's good to be back! I've decided to celebrate Halloween and the Holiday Season with a new series of blogs: A User's Guide To Wikia!
These blogs will detail various important topics as suggested by users in the comments section. The idea here is to aid users, new and old, who are unsure about an issue or want a second opinion on what action they should take. Hopefully, we will also be helping users caught up in these issues to learn what the correct response to them is, and what they should do to settle them.
Today's topic is a somewhat obscure one, found very often on informational Wikias: edit wars. We'll be going over what it is, who they involve, and how to settle them.
What's an edit war?
An edit war is when two or more users edit or undo the edits of one another, with a goal to make their own edit the prevalent one. Edit warring is oftentimes actually in good faith, and the majority of warring users will believe that their contribution will actually be the more useful one. On both sides, users are, basically, competing for the best edit.
Who're the Culprits?
The people in an edit war often consist of two or more users; typically, an experienced, trusted user will be involved somehow; usually, the main warring editor, however, will be a relatively new, inexperienced editor. They often do not know the importance of the editing guidelines of the wiki.
That being said, both warring parties are partially at fault. Edit wars can only occur when one party reverses or "edits over" the edit of another repeatedly. There are easy solutions to this sometimes difficult issue, however. We will cover those next!
The best way to solve an edit war is to prevent one! You can do this in several ways. One good way to do this is by placing a "Wikia's Note" on the editing window, as users see on Community Central's editing window; it gives a few pointers and is very simple, and since it attracts attention by itself, it is commonly paid-attention to. Another way is to make sure that the most commonly visited pages -- the Wikia Activity, Home Page, and Special:Chat -- have a clear link to the Wiki's guidelines page.
If you must break apart an edit war, do it by not participating. Before reversing an edit, *always* warn the user that the information they placed was inaccurate and link them to the editing policy's page. Then, after a few minutes, reverse the edit, leaving an edit summary that tells the wiki what the user did and why the information was wrong. References are always best!
If you are an admin, avoid blocking for edit wars. If you must, block for two hours apiece after warning them both. This will ensure that they know the correct response and actions during an edit war. If you can, research the information in question and place the truest, most accurate information in the page. If needed, lock the page for a day or two so that edit wars will not occur. Again, references, references, references!
The importance of Talk Pages in edit disputes
Most edit disputes are, at their root, caused by a misunderstanding between the warring users or the warring users and the Wikia's ruleset. Any time an edit war should occur, one of the first things you should do is look for the users and contact them on their respective talk pages. Make sure they're aware of the wikia's policy on what they're warring over, and ask them respectfully to stop mass-changing the page.
It's also generally a good idea to leave a message on the talk page of the page itself. Perhaps ask the rest of the wiki, "Which statement is correct?", or maybe alert the wiki about the edit war going on at the moment and use that page to discuss which change should really deserve the most merit.
Remember, always refrain from making it personal. Wikias are communities, true, but the actions performed on them are very, very seldom the product of a personal vendetta against another user! When editing, remember that other human beings with thoughts and emotions are reading the page. Remain unbiased and in the face of an edit war, remain calm and explain your position on the talk page.
In conclusion, edit wars are a detrimental state in which users compete for the best edit... and this is never good. Wikia and wikis are not about competing -- they're about sharing what you love, and your knowledge of it, with the rest of the world! They're communities, intelligent communities full of unique, interesting, and useful information, as well as many equally unique users. The pages in Wikia deserve respect, as do the wishes of your fellow editor. Remember, the best offense is good defense -- prevent edit wars before they ever happen, and diffuse them quickly when they do. This has been a User's Guide, by Master Ceadeus 27.