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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton

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Avoiding Content Disputes

You can avoid a lot of content disputes by doing just a bit of checking before you make major changes to articles, by doing as few reverts as possible (and not getting into edit wars), and, above all, by focusing on content rather than commenting on editors. Wikipedia:Dispute resolution (shortcut: WP:DR) includes the following tip: “The best way to resolve a dispute is to avoid it in the first place.”

Don’t Charge in Blindly

If you’re adding just a little well-sourced information to a page, or if you’re doing minor copyediting of a section of a page, then go ahead and do the edit; only rarely will someone object. But if you’re planning to add a lot of information, change a lot of wording, or reorganize an article, you can minimize content disputes if you do just a little bit of checking first: Read the article’s talk (discussion) page. If you see a gnarled mass of recent arguments, you stand a significant chance of getting caught up in an edit war. Even if you aren’t interested in joining whatever argument’s going on, other editors may interpret what you did as supporting one side or the other.

Note

Chapter 18 (Reorganize and Edit Existing Content) discusses making major changes to an article when you can reasonably expect some opposition.

Secondly, you should routinely do a quick check in the article history tab. If you see a lot of recent edits, make sure you’re not updating a vandalized version.

Explain Your Edits

Provide a good edit summary when making significant ...

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