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An edit summary is a brief explanation of an "edit to a Wikipedia page. When you edit a page, there is a small text entry field labeled Edit summary located under the main edit box and above the Save page button:

Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes)

 

This is a "minor edit "Watch this page

By saving changes, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the "CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the "GFDL. You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license.

Save page "Show preview "Show changes "Cancel

The edit summary field appears above the "Save page" button

It is good practice to fill in the edit summary field, or add to it in the case of section editing, as this helps others to understand the intention of your edit. Edit summaries are displayed in lists of changes (such as "page histories and "watchlists), and at the top of "diff pages.

Contents

Always provide an edit summary[edit]

"Shortcuts:

It is considered good practice to provide a summary for every edit, especially when "reverting (undoing) the actions of other editors or deleting existing text; otherwise, people may question your motives for the edit. Edits that do not have an edit summary are more likely to be reverted, because it may not be obvious what the purpose of the edit was.

Accurate summaries help other contributors decide whether it is worthwhile for them to review an edit, and to understand the change should they choose to review it. When a major edit (e.g. deletion of a substantial amount of text, a significant addition, or a substantial rewrite) doesn't have an edit summary, there are fewer reasons to "assume good faith and busy editors may be more inclined to revert the change without checking it in detail. Summaries are less important for "minor changes (which means generally unchallengeable changes such as spelling or grammar corrections), but a brief note like "fixed spelling" is helpful even then.

To avoid accidentally leaving edit summaries blank, you can select "Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary" on the Editing tab of your "user preferences, if you have "created an account.

If you are a "registered user and want to show your commitment to always leaving edit summaries, which will remind other users of the importance of doing so, you can use any of the following userboxes: {{"User edit summary}}, {{"User:Marek69/edit summary template}}, or {{"Use Edit Summaries}}.

""WikEd logo39x40 animated.gif
This user uses edit summaries.
WTF? This user ALWAYS leaves
an edit summary.
What did you do? This user includes edit summaries in their contributions and thinks that everybody should use these as well

How to write an edit summary[edit]

"Shortcut:

What to avoid in edit summaries[edit]

"Shortcut:

Use of edit summaries in disputes[edit]

"Shortcut:

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[edit]

After you save 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 its own edit 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.

Edit summary properties and features[edit]

Places where the edit summary appears[edit]

The edit summary appears in black italics in the following places:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Use the enhanced watchlist to see all recent changes in the watched pages, not just the last change in each page.

Section editing[edit]

When adding a new section to a discussion page with the "new section" button, the section title is used as the edit summary. When "editing an existing section, the section title is inserted at the beginning of the edit summary, enclosed with /* and */ marks, for example /* External links */. Details of the edit should be added after this text. In the case that you provide a long summary yourself, you can delete the section title in order to stay within the limit of 250 characters.

When viewing such an edit summary, the section name will appear in grey, with a small arrow next to it: External links. Click the arrow to view the section (if the section no longer exists, the link will simply take you to the top of the page).

If you create a new section before or after an existing section by clicking a section "edit" link, delete the text between /* and */ marks (or change it to the new section title) to avoid confusion.[1]

  1. ^ It used to be possible to manually include links to multiple sections using the /* */ syntax – this may be useful when editing several sections at once. The edit summary:
    /* Foo */ test /* Bar */ test
    should be rendered as:
    Foo test Bar test.
    See this edit.

Automatic summaries[edit]

In certain circumstances, an automatic summary is generated when an edit is saved without one. This is slightly different from the summary added when editing a section, as that can be modified by the user before saving.

With the exception of the automatic summary when creating a redirect, which usually says all that needs to be said, these are not a substitute for a proper edit summary – you should always leave a meaningful summary, even in the above cases. They are, however, useful in providing some context for edits made by inexperienced users who are not aware of the importance of edit summaries, and for spotting vandalism.

When starting a new thread on a "talk page by using the "New section" tab, the text you type into the "subject/headline" field becomes both the heading of your discussion topic, and the edit summary for that edit.

Tags[edit]

Tags (i.e., edit tags) are brief messages that the software automatically places next to certain edits in "histories, recent changes and other special pages. They are implemented by the "edit filter to help assist vandalism patrollers and other page watchers. They cannot be added or removed manually.

Notes for experienced users[edit]

The 250-character limit[edit]

The limit of 250 characters is an approximation. The actual limit is 255 "bytes, but it is not always possible to have an edit summary which is 255 characters long. Whilst most everyday English characters occupy one byte each, the use of "UTF-8 encoding means that some characters take up more space: the "en-dash, for example, is a single character which occupies three bytes. The limit of 255 bytes includes the section title marker (and the associated /*  */) and also any Wiki markup that may be present. Consider the following typical edit summary:

(→History: change - (hyphen) to – (en-dash) in date ranges per "manual of style; added ref)

Here, the user-entered portion (from "change" to "ref") is displayed as 78 characters, but this may have been entered as:

/* History */ change - (hyphen) to – (en-dash) in date ranges per [[MOS:DATERANGE|manual of style]]; added ref
143

This is 112 bytes long: the /* History */ is 13 bytes; the – character occupies three bytes; and the [[MOS:DATERANGE|manual of style]] occupies 33 bytes. The grey figure 143 at the right is not user-entered: it indicates the number of bytes still available (255 − 112 = 143), and it changes as you type.

For editors who have JavaScript enabled, there is a script included with the page that monitors the byte-length of the summary and prevents entering summaries longer than 255 bytes (both in "Edit source" and in Visual editor). Since 18 July 2017, a count is displayed at the right-hand end of the text entry field, showing the number of unused bytes. When JavaScript is disabled, this safeguard can't function, and the only protection is the browser's limit of 255 characters, which may overflow the 255-byte limit as a result of any characters that are represented by more than one byte. When the edit is done by a bot, through an external tool (such as "WP:AWB) or through some user script or gadget, it's the responsibility of the tool or script to safeguard against overflowing this limit. In any situation where more than 255 bytes are entered for the edit summary, the summary is truncated to 255 bytes["clarify] when the page is saved.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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