Wikipedia:ConsensusThis page documents an official English Wikipedia policy, a widely accepted standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. If in doubt, consider discussing changes on the talk page. Shortcuts:
WP:CONS This page in a nutshell:
- Consensus is Wikipedia's fundamental model for editorial decision-making.
- Policies and guidelines document communal consensus rather than creating it.
No original research
Biographies of living personsWorking with others Civility
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No legal threatsGlobal principles What Wikipedia is not
Ignore all rules
Consensus is typically reached as a natural and inherent product of the wiki-editing process; generally someone makes a change or addition to a page, and then everyone who reads the page has an opportunity to either leave the page as it is or change it. In essence, silence implies consent, if there is adequate exposure to the community. Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, should never over-ride community consensus on a wider scale, unless convincing arguments cause the new process to become widely accepted. In the case of policy and process pages a higher standard of participation and consensus is expected than on other pages.
- 1 Reasonable consensus-building
- 2 How consensus emerges during the editing process
- 3 Use of the talk page
- 4 Consensus can change
- 5 Participating in community discussions
- 6 Forum shopping
- 7 Exceptions
- 8 See also
Consensus develops from agreement of the parties involved. This can be reached through discussion, action (editing), or more often, a combination of the two. Consensus can only work among reasonable editors who make a good faith effort to work together in a civil manner. Developing consensus requires special attention to neutrality - remaining neutral in our actions in an effort to reach a compromise that everyone can agree on.
How consensus emerges during the editing processWhen an edit is made, other editors have these options: accept the edit, change the edit, or revert the edit. These options may be discussed if necessary.
- See also: Wikipedia:Editing policy
Generally someone edits a page, and then subsequent viewers of the page have three options: accept the edit, change the edit, or revert the edit. Included in each of the courses is the option to discuss the action before or after the action. Typically, each article goes through many iterations of the consensus process to achieve a neutral and readable product. If your ideas are not immediately accepted, think of a reasonable change that might integrate your ideas with others and make an edit, or discuss those ideas. This can be done at the talk page, as an edit summary, or as a note to others at a user talk page or other widely read page such as the Village pump.
Edit summaries are useful, and may contain a summary of the change made to the article by the edit, or an explanation of why the change was made. Even a short summary is better than no summary. If the reason for an edit is not clear, it is more likely to be reverted, especially in the case that some text is deleted. To give a longer explanation, use the Talk page and put in the edit summary "see Talk".
Use of the talk page
- See also: Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines
Be bold in editing; you can also use the talk page to discuss improvements to the article, and to form consensus concerning the editing of the page. In the case of policy pages a higher standard of participation and consensus is expected. In cases where consensus is particularly hard to find, the involvement of independent editors or more experienced help in the discussion may be necessary. If editing of the page is impeded by edit wars, or is disrupted, or consensus cannot be found on the talk page through ordinary discussion, there are more formal dispute resolution processes.
Consensus can changePolicyshortcut:
Consensus is not immutable. Past decisions are open to challenge and are not binding, and changes are sometimes reasonable.
Wikipedia's processes remain flexible for several reasons, including that new people may bring fresh ideas, growing may evolve new needs, people may change their minds over time when new things come up, and sometimes we find a better way to do things.
Sometimes a representative group makes a decision on behalf of the community as a whole, at a point in time. More often, people document changes to existing procedures at some arbitrary point in time after the fact.
Participating in community discussionsPolicyshortcut:
Community discussion takes place on various pages: noticeboards such as at Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents; or pages such as Requests for comment and Requests for arbitration. These processes require collaborative effort and considered input from their participants in order to form a consensus and act appropriately upon the consensus that can be discerned.
In determining consensus carefully consider the strength and quality of the arguments themselves, including the evolution of the final positions, the objection of those who disagree, and in complex situations, existing documentation in the project namespace. Minority opinions typically reflect genuine concerns, and the logic may outweigh the logic of the majority. New users who are not yet familiar with consensus should realize that a poll (if one is even held) is often more likely to be the start of a discussion than it is to be the end of one. The outcome may be decided during discussion.
In the few cases where polls are used, note that they are actually structured discussions, your opinion is much more effective when you provide a rationale during a poll, not just a simple vote.
- See also: Wikipedia:Forum shopping
It is very easy to create the appearance of a changing consensus simply by asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of people will discuss the issue. This, however, is a poor example of changing consensus, and is antithetical to the way that Wikipedia works. Wikipedia's decisions are not based on the number of people who showed up and voted a particular way on a particular day; they are based on a system of good reasons.
There are a few exceptions that supersede consensus decisions on a page.
- Declarations from Jimmy Wales, the Board, or the Developers, particularly for server load or legal issues (copyright, privacy rights, and libel) may have policy status (see Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#Sources of Wikipedia policy).
- Office Actions on a specific article (such as stubbing or protecting it) are outside the policies of the English Wikipedia.
- Consensus decisions in specific cases are not expected to automatically override consensus on a wider scale - for instance, a local debate on a WikiProject does not override the larger consensus behind a policy or guideline. The WikiProject cannot decide that for the articles within its scope, some policy does not apply, unless they can convince the broader community that doing so is the right course of action.
- Foundation Issues lay out the basic principles for all Wikimedia projects. These represent the largest consensus decisions achievable among all Wikimedia projects, and affect all projects.
- Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle
- Wikipedia:How to contribute to Wikipedia guidance
- Wikipedia:Staying cool when the editing gets hot
- WikiEN-l mailing list July 2005