Wikipedia:Resolving disputes

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Wikipedia is a community, which means that we have to work together in writing the encyclopedia. Articles often have more than one user working on them, and sometimes users will disagree about how the article should be written. If you have a disagreement over an article, try to reach a truce and stop editing until you can resolve the issue. Please do not engage in edit wars with other users; this is not a helpful way of resolving disputes and does nothing to improve Wikipedia. Instead, follow the process outlined here to resolve disagreements and prevent them from turning into serious disputes.

This page is an official policy on Wikipedia. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. Feel free to update the page as needed, but make sure that changes you make to this policy really do reflect consensus, before you make them.

Note: These steps are designed for resolving disagreements between two or more parties. Vandalism and flagrant violations of Wikipedia policies and behavior guidelines by repeat offenders may be handled using expedited procedures, potentially resulting in the offender being banned from Wikipedia. In most situations, however, alleged misconduct by an individual user should be handled using the principles outlined here. This does not mean that users who point out the misconduct are part of the dispute; they simply represent the Wikipedia community generally.

Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution processes

Negotiation: Current surveys
Requests for comment | Third opinion
Mediation: Mediation Committee
Requests for mediation
Arbitration: Arbitration Committee
Requests for arbitration

Member associations

Association of Members' Advocates
The Mediation Cabal



The best way to resolve a dispute is to avoid it in the first place.

Be respectful to others and their points of view. This means primarily: Do not simply revert changes in a dispute. When someone makes an edit you consider biased or inaccurate, improve the edit, rather than reverting it. Provide a good edit summary when making significant changes that other users might object to. The Three Revert Rule forbids the use of reverts in repetitive succession. If you encounter rude or inappropriate behavior, resist the temptation to respond in kind, and do not make personal attacks.

Writing according to the "perfect article guidelines" and following the NPOV policy can help you write "defensively", and limit your own bias in your writing. For some guidelines, see Wikipedia:Wikiquette.

First step: talk to the other parties involved

The first resort in resolving almost any conflict is to discuss the issue on a talk page. Either contact the other party on that user's talk page, or use the talk page associated with the article in question. Never carry on a dispute on the article page itself. When discussing an issue, stay cool and don't mount personal attacks. Take the other person's perspective into account and try to reach a compromise. Assume that the other person is acting in good faith unless you have clear evidence to the contrary.

Both at this stage and throughout the dispute resolution process, talking to other parties is not simply a formality to be satisfied before moving on to the next forum. Failure to pursue discussion in good faith shows that you are trying to escalate the dispute instead of resolving it. This will make people less sympathetic to your position and may prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. In contrast, sustained discussion and serious negotiation between the parties, even if not immediately successful, shows that you are interested in finding a solution that fits within Wikipedia policies. For additional ideas, see Wikipedia:Negotiation.

Further dispute resolution

If talking to the other parties involved fails, you should try one of these four methods to resolve the dispute. Which ones you choose and in what order will depend on the nature of the dispute, and the preferences of people involved.

Informal Mediation

If things are getting a bit tricky, it might be useful to ask some cool heads to look in and help out, this might turn out to be sufficient to do the trick. See the Mediation Cabal for one example of informal mediators who you can just pass by and ask for help, just add your problem to the end of the page.

If you are a member (or even if you're not); Esperanza is an editing association that might lend you a helping hand as well.

Discuss with third parties

For disputes over the content of an article, if you have not agreed to a truce before this point, you should do so now. This allows others to fairly consider the issue without the confusion of ongoing edits, which are likely to aggravate the dispute. If an edit war persists and a truce is not feasible, request that the page be protected to allow the process to move forward.

See Wikipedia:Requests for comment, Wikipedia:Protection policy

Conduct a survey

  • If consensus is difficult to gauge from discussion alone, or if some users seem to be ignoring the consensus, consider conducting a publicized opinion survey. Use the criteria at Wikipedia:Survey guidelines to develop the survey. (Some parties may dispute the validity of the survey if this is not done properly.) The survey should be carefully designed to present all sides of the dispute fairly. When the survey questions have been drafted, announce the survey by listing it at Wikipedia:Current surveys. Note that informal straw polls can be held at any time if there are enough participants in the discussion, but publicizing the survey can get more of the community involved and increase the weight given to the results.

See Wikipedia:Current surveys


  • Request mediation of the dispute. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral person works with the parties to a dispute. The mediator helps guide the parties into reaching an agreement that can be acceptable to everyone. When requesting formal mediation, be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute using the steps listed above.

See Wikipedia:Mediation Committee, Wikipedia:Requests for mediation

Requesting an advocate

If you would like assistance with the process, the Association of Members' Advocates (AMA) is a group of users who have offered to help you to resolve your dispute or to understand the process of resolving disputes. You may request assistance from an advocate at any stage of the process of resolving disputes or even when the dispute has just begun. You may seek help directly from any of the members that are listed on the AMA pages or through the AMA Coordinator directly or through the Requests for Assistance page.

While you can request the assistance of an advocate at any stage please seriously consider use of a member advocate in the later states of dispute resolution. Typically, advocates advise and/or represent one party to a dispute. If you want the services of an advocate, you may contact any advocate directly, or post a request for assistance. You can request an advocate at any stage of the process.

Last resort: Arbitration

If you have taken all other reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, request Arbitration. Be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute by other means. Arbitration differs from Mediation in that the Arbitration Committee will consider the case and issue a decision, instead of merely assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If the issue is decided by Arbitration, you will be expected to abide by the result. If the case involves serious user misconduct, Arbitration may result in a number of serious consequences, as laid out in the Arbitration policy.

See Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, Arbitration policy, Requests for arbitration

See also

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