Wikipedia:Do not use edit history to escalate the conflict

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While most of Wikipedia content can be overwritten, edits normally remain in the edit history and can be viewed there. If such comment has been uncivil, this leaves the opportunity to pull it out of the history "for open discussion", regardless if it is visible or not in the current version of the talk page.

This essay argues that pulling reverted uncivil edits out of history for discussion may not be reasonable in case if these edits have been removed by the author and not by vandal patrol. If the editor has removed the posting, this probably shows that he understands the mistake after cooling down for a couple of hours.[1].

Which goals are aimed toward exactly by forcing further discussion on the removed message? If it is later used as an ad hominem argument in a discussion about the article content, this may show that the posting has actually been provoked by the previous also not too civil message from the "insulted editor". In other words, we see a subtle provocation as a way to get unfair arguments for discussion. Surely this works much better if the overwritten comments also count and can be used as ad hominem arguments. While ad hominem is not appropriate on its own, the essay aims to describe and disclose this particular trick.

But, again, even if not - how reasonable is it to give attention for the lame comment that is no longer supported even by its author? It may be better just to forget.

We think that except of obvious attempts to game the system, the uncivil edit that has been removed by the original author should be ignored. This is especially true in cases when:

  • The edit has been reverted in a short time, minutes to hours (so probably the complainer has explicitly looked into the edit history for the bad intermediate versions).
  • It has been reverted without receiving any warnings or criticism (hence the authors own decision).
  • There is a suspect that this may be a provoked response (it is a reply to the message of the quite questionable civility).

This essay only applies to discussion comments as even transient edits in the article space may be problematic.


  1. ^ Never edit Wikipedia in bad mood, for sure.

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