Help:Edit summary | how to write an edit summary

How to write an edit summary

  • Summarize. Summarize the change, even if only briefly; even a short summary is better than no summary.
  • Explain. Give reasons for the change, if you think other editors may be unclear as to why you made it. Citing the Wikipedia policies or guidelines that you feel justified the change may be incorporated into your explanation.
  • Abbreviations. Abbreviations should be used with care. They can be confusing for new contributors. For an explanation of some commonly used abbreviations, see this edit summary legend.
  • Expand on important information. Readers who see only the summary might not get the entire picture. Prevent misunderstanding: If an edit requires more explanation than will fit in the summary box, post a comment to the article's talk page to give more information, and include "see talk" or "see discussion page" in the edit summary.
  • Talk pages. When editing talk pages, consider reflecting the gist of your comment in the edit summary; this allows users to check Recent changes, Page history and User contributions (see below) very efficiently.

What to avoid in edit summaries

  • Avoid misleading summaries. Mentioning one change but not another one can be misleading to someone who finds the other one more important. You could add something like "and misc." to cover the other changes.
  • Avoid vagueness. While edit summaries can be terse, they should still be specific. Providing an edit summary similar to "I made some changes" is functionally equivalent to not providing a summary at all.
  • Avoid long summaries. Edit summaries are not for writing essays about 'the truth' or long-winded arguments with fellow editors. For discussions, you should use the talk page.
  • Avoid inappropriate summaries. You should explain your edits, but without being overly critical or harsh when editing or reverting others' work. This may be perceived as uncivil, and cause resentment or conflict. Explain what you changed, citing the relevant policies, guidelines or principles of good writing, but do not target others in a way that may come across as a personal attack.
  • Avoid incivility. Snide comments, personal remarks about editors, and other aggressive edit summaries are explicit edit-summary "don't's" of the Wikipedia Civility policy.

Use of edit summaries in disputes

Proper use of edit summaries is critical to resolving content disputes. Edit summaries should accurately and succinctly summarize the nature of the edit, especially if it could be controversial. If the edit involves reverting previous changes, it should be marked as a revert ("rv") in the edit summary.

Avoid using edit summaries to carry on debates or negotiation over the content or to express opinions of the other users involved. This creates an atmosphere where the only way to carry on discussion is to revert other editors! If you notice this happening, start a section on the talk page and place your comments there. This keeps discussions and debates away from the article page itself. For example:

reverted edits by User:Example, see talk for rationale

Fixing

After you publish the page, you cannot change the edit summary, so be careful with it, particularly if you are in a heated content dispute – do not write things you will regret.

If you make an important omission or error in an edit summary, you can correct this by making a dummy edit (a change in the page with no visible effects), and adding further information in the dummy edit's summary.

In the extreme case of an edit summary containing certain kinds of harmful content, the summary can be deleted on request. They may be removed from public view by administrators using Revision Deletion; such edit summaries remain visible to administrators. In even more limited circumstances the entire edit may be oversighted, leaving it and its edit summary visible only to the handful of users with the Oversight permission.