Tutorial: Basic dispute resolution

What is a dispute?

A dispute is a situation where two or more editors disagree on a matter. What this matter is can range from some controversial information in an article to another editor's way of editing. Serious and continued disputes are highly disapproved of, since they disrupt the work of writing an encyclopedia.

Due to the open style of Wikipedia, everyone can edit; occasionally, Person A is going to add information or express an opinion that Person B disagrees with. One goal of editors should be to minimize disputes, both by preventing them and by resolving them quickly.

Avoiding a dispute

The important thing to do in disputes is stay cool. It isn't the end of the world if someone disagrees with you. Rather, this is an opportunity to learn more about how others view a matter.

Stay cool when the editing gets hot:
  1. Approach the matter civilly and calmly. Talk pages are great places to discuss, compromise and develop some consensus on matters.
  2. Avoid letting the matter get personal. A conflict of interest may cloud your judgment and make you more easily provoked.
  3. If you feel you cannot stop yourself from engaging in a dispute, consider taking a wikibreak.

If a person reverts your edit because they do not think you're right, with little or no explanation, one good option is to place a note on the talk page of the article (and on their user talk page as well, if you wish) inquiring as to why they think you are wrong. Do this calmly and civilly; courtesy goes a long way in keeping things cool.

Also, remember to maintain your cool along with establishing it; if the other editor starts being aggressive and unreasonable, calmly warn them that they are required to be civil. Try to keep the matter from escalating out of hand. Often, if you are able to stay calm while the other user gets heated, they may realize their mistake and calm down. If you get riled up, that will only serve to worsen the matter. Again, talk pages are great places to compromise, discuss and develop consensus on disputed matters. They should be where you turn first; only after further discussion seems pointless should you go elsewhere.

Solving a dispute

If you do find yourself in a dispute and you can't figure out how to deal with it by yourself, there are a few things you can do to seek help.

Requests for Comment

Matters concerning user conduct that is affecting articles should be brought to the requests for comment process; this allows other users to provide their insight in the matter, and functions as a forum about discussion of conflicts. Real efforts should be made at solving the dispute with the user involved before a user conduct request for comment is formed.

Third opinions and mediation

Sometimes, it just isn't possible to reach agreement with another editor; if so, outside intervention should be requested. One place to do so is at the third opinion page. If that fails to solve the problem, you may seek mediation assistance from mediation cabal, which is a relatively informal process, or go to the formal Mediation Committee. If a matter is beyond the scope of these faculties, it will go to the arbitration committee (commonly known as ARBCOM). Do not bring cases to ARBCOM unless the matter has been looked at by the other areas; ARBCOM is the final step in the process. Also keep in mind that ARBCOM generally does not hear content disputes, but normally limits cases to those involving behavioral matters (personal attacks, disruptive editing, etc.)

Edit wars

For edit warring matters, the quickest way is the three-revert rule noticeboard, which you may use if another editor has violated the three-revert rule. Never engage in an edit war; even if you avoid a 3RR violation yourself, disagreements at Wikipedia shouldn't be resolved by seeing which editor gives up first. Instead, get other editors involved, to see if you can reach at least rough consensus.

Deletion disputes

For deletion disputes, see Wikipedia:Deletion debates, which contains multiple processes that can be used to develop community consensus on deletion-related matters; use this if a speedy deletion is contested (assuming it is appropriate; often it is not), and the next step, a proposed deletion, is also contested.

Personal attacks and incivility

For personal attack matters, see Wikiquette alerts if another user is demonstrating unfriendly or antagonistic behaviour towards you. For extreme matters, see the administrator's incident noticeboard.

In closing

Remember; though it is always best if you settle a dispute yourself, sometimes it just won't work, so don't hesitate to ask for help. Good luck!

Helpful Links

Wikipedia:Staying cool when the editing gets hot
Wikipedia:Dispute resolution
Wikipedia:Third opinion
Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/3RR
Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion
Wikipedia:Edit war
Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard and Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents
Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts
Wikipedia:Deletion debates
Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal
Wikipedia:Mediation committee
Wikipedia:Arbitration committee

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