How Wikipedia Works/Appendix C

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Every time a person edits a Wikipedia article, he or she can add a line of text that summarizes the edit in the Edit summary box that is provided underneath the edit window. Wikipedia has no formal etiquette governing the content of edit summaries, but a vast body of jargon has developed over the years. This jargon is useful because it makes describing common types of edits easy, but the jargon can also be daunting to readers who are unfamiliar with it. This cheat sheet lists common edit summary terms and explains their meanings.

See Wikipedia:Edit summary legend for more terms used in edit summaries. See "Edit Summaries and Minor Edits" on Section 1.3.3, “Edit Summaries and Minor Edits” for a full explanation of edit summaries and "Major vs. Minor Edits" on Section 1.3, “Handling Major Editing Tasks” for an explanation of minor edits.

Common Edit Summaries[edit]

  • cat, +cat, fix cats Categories have been added or altered.
  • cp or copyedit A minor rewrite occurred that doesn't affect the article's basic meaning.
  • copyvio Response to a copyright violation occurred. The editor may have removed the part of the article that violated copyright or just tagged the article as being a copyright violation. In extreme cases, the entire page might have been wiped blank.
  • lnk, lk, wfy, wikify, wik, wk The text was wikified by adding links to other articles and sometimes by formatting according to Wikipedia style.
  • merge The article was melded with another (see "Merge, Split, and Move" on Section 2.1, “Merging Articles”). This summary usually appears alongside other supporting information, such as the names of the articles merged.
  • mv or move The page is being renamed by moving the entire contents and edit history to another (previously unused) page title. See Chapter 8, Make and Mend Wikipedia's Web.
  • NPOV or POV The article did not have a Neutral Point of View and the edit corrects this (or adds a tag pointing out this flaw).
  • rdr, redirect The page was turned into a redirect, taking readers to another wiki page automatically. See Chapter 8, Make and Mend Wikipedia's Web.
  • rv, rvv, rvt, or revert The page was reverted, which means restoring it to a previous version. Reverts are often used to reverse acts of vandalism. They can be carried out using automatic software or "by hand."
  • Spam or linkspam Spam or an unnecessary commercial link that had been placed in an article was removed.
  • Sp or spp, typo A spelling mistake or typographical error was corrected.
  • Tighten Inessential material was cut out or verbose wording was tightened.
  • +ro, +fr, +de:, and so on These language codes signify that interwiki links have been created to versions of this article written in other languages—in this case, versions on the Romanian-, French-, and German-language Wikipedias, respectively. See Chapter 15, 200 Languages and Counting for more.

Deletion and Maintenance Summaries[edit]

Db (as in "db-nonsense" or "db-nn") This means "delete because" or "delete because non-notable." It is more often seen in deletion discussions than in edit summaries and is sometimes used with speedy delete tags.

PROD, prod, or prodding; AfD This refers to the proposed deletion and deletion processes. The editor has probably just inserted a {{prod}} tag on the article, which, if not removed within five days, will lead to the article being deleted; see "Deleting Articles" on Section 4.1, “What Processes Cover”.

{{cleanup}}, {{wikify}}, {{npov}}, or a variety of others Any term that is quoted in double curly brackets likely refers to the associated template (such as [[Template:Cleanup]]), which the editor has probably just placed on the article in question.

{{A7}}, {{G3}} or A7, G3, and so on These and similar codes refer to speedy delete tags; the cryptic codes refer to various reasons why a page may be speedily deleted. More on speedy deletion in Chapter 7, Cleanup, Projects, and Processes. The template that is placed on the article should also contain further information.

Automatically Added Edit Summaries[edit]

Wikipedia has various editing mechanisms that don't involve clicking the Edit This Page tab directly. These edits are treated just the same as any other edit and show up normally in the article's revision history. When edits are made using nonstandard means, however, the edit summary is often filled in automatically by the MediaWiki software.

Editing a section

When you follow an Edit This Section link next to an article's subheading, the software automatically fills in the summary field with the name of the section you are editing. In the Edit summary field, the name appears between asterisks and slashes, like this: /*Further Reading*/. In the article history, the edited section title appears in grayed-out type next to a right-pointing arrow (↔), which is a clickable link to that section of the article.

Using rollback or undo

The Undo button displays on the history page and lets you reverse a particular edit. The Rollback button is similar but can only be used by administrators. When these buttons are used, the summary of the resulting edit contains the term rollback (as in "rollback version to X") or undo (as in "version X undid by phoebe to version Y") with links.

Bots and editing tools

An edit summary that contains the text AWB refers to an edit that was completed with the help of the AutoWiki Browser, an automated tool (see Chapter 7, Cleanup, Projects, and Processes). This and other tools help editors make repetitive edits (such as correcting spelling) or quickly revert vandalism. An edit summary that refers to a bot was made by an automatic program that performs even more highly repetitive tasks.

Other circumstances

Any edit summary with a left-pointing arrow (←) was added automatically by the software when no edit summary is provided by the editor. This only occurs when a page is blanked, when the page content is completely replaced (often vandalism), or when a new page or redirect is created. See Wikipedia:Automatic edit summaries (shortcut WP:AES).

Further Reading[edit]