Wikipedia:Dispute resolution

Disagreements on Wikipedia are normal; ors will frequently disagree with each other, particularly on content decisions. Editors are expected to engage in good faith to resolve their disputes, and must not personalise disputes. Many disputes can be resolved without external input, through gradual ing, discussion, and attempts to understand the legitimate objections of others.

If discussion stalemates, ors may seek outside input to help resolve the dispute. Disputes over content have multiple venues for outside help, and related discussions can also be advertised on the talk pages of relevant WikiProjects to receive participation from interested uninvolved ors. Processes for resolving content disputes with outside help include asking for a third opinion, seeking help from a mediator, making a request at an appropriate noticeboard, or opening a request for comment. Issues of conduct may be addressed at the incidents noticeboard, and may be taken to the arbitration committee for more complex disputes.

For issues that demand immediate attention, please see urgent situations.

Resolving content disputes[]

There are many methods on Wikipedia for resolving disputes. Most methods are not formal processes and do not involve third-party intervention. Respond to all disputes or grievances, in the first instance, by approaching the or or ors concerned and explaining which of their s you object to and why you object. Use the article talk page or their user talk page to do so; be civil, polite, and always assume good faith.

Follow the normal protocol[]

When you find a passage in an article that is biased, inaccurate, or unsourced the best practice is to improve it if you can rather than deleting salvageable text. For example, if an article appears biased, add balancing material or make the wording more neutral. Include citations for any material you add. If you do not know how to fix a problem, ask for help on the talk page.

To help other ors understand the reasoning behind your s, always explain your changes in the summary. If an is too complex to explain in an summary, or the change is contentious, add a section to the talk page that explains your rationale. Be prepared to justify your changes to other ors on the talk page. If you are reverted, continue to explain yourself; do not start an war.

Discuss with the other party[]

Graham's hierarchy of disagreement: Aim at the top during disputes.

Talking to other parties is not a mere formality, but an integral part of writing the encyclopedia. Discussing heatedly or poorly – or not at all – will make other ors less sympathetic to your position, and prevent you from effectively using later stages in dispute resolution. Sustained discussion between the parties, even if not immediately successful, demonstrates your good faith and shows you are trying to reach a consensus. Try negotiating a truce or proposing a compromise through negotiation.

Do not continue warring; once sustained discussion begins, productively participating in it is a priority. Uninvolved ors who are invited to join a dispute will likely be confused and alarmed if there are large numbers of reverts or s made while discussion is ongoing.

Talk page discussion is a prerequisite to almost all of Wikipedia's venues of higher dispute resolution. If you wish at any time to request a third opinion (3O) or request for comment, use the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard (DRN), or open a request for arbitration, you will be expected to show there has been talk page discussion of the dispute. Actual discussion is needed; discussion conducted entirely through summaries is inadequate.

Focus on content[]

Focus on article content during discussions, not on or conduct; comment on content, not the contributor. Wikipedia is written through collaboration, and assuming that the efforts of others are in good faith is therefore vital. Bringing up conduct during discussions about content creates a distraction to the discussion and may inflame the situation.

Focusing on content, and not bringing up conduct, can be difficult if it seems other ors are being uncivil or stubborn. Stay cool! It is never to your benefit to respond in kind. When it becomes too difficult or exhausting to maintain a civil discussion based on content, you should seriously consider going to an appropriate dispute resolution venue detailed below; but at no juncture should you lose your temper. Wikipedia is not like a lot of the Internet: we expect ors to be polite and reasonable at all times.


Most situations are not actually urgent; there are no deadlines on Wikipedia, and perfection is not required. At all stages during discussion, consider whether you should take a break from the dispute. Taking a deep breath and sleeping on it often helps. You can always return to the discussion later, but at least you will return without an inflamed temper.

Take a long-term view of the situation. You will probably be able to return and carry on ing an article when the previous problems no longer exist and the or you were in dispute with might themselves move on. The disputed article will continue to evolve, other ors may become interested, and they might have different perspectives if the issue comes up again. Even if your position on the article is not accepted, it might be in the future.

Disengaging is particularly helpful when in dispute with new users, as it gives them a chance to familiarise themselves with Wikipedia's policies and culture. There are currently 6,580,929 articles on Wikipedia. Focus your contributions on another article, where you can more easily make constructive s.

Resolving content disputes with outside help[]

If you cannot resolve the dispute through discussion with the other or, you may request participation from uninvolved, interested ors to build consensus for your changes. Several venues are available, listed below, to find ors who may be able to assist.

Participation in dispute resolution is voluntary and no one is required to participate. However, discussion can still proceed and consensus may be reached without the non-participating or's input. Administrators and the community may take into consideration the degree and nature of an or's participation in dispute resolution when deciding if an or's activities are productive.

If your dispute is related to a certain content area, you can ask your question, or publicize a related discussion, on the talk page of relevant WikiProjects. WikiProjects are usually listed at the top of the article's talk page.

Third opinion[]

Third opinion is an excellent venue for small disputes involving only two ors.


During mediation, a content dispute between two or more ors is subjected to the involvement of an uninvolved third party (who is the mediator). The role of the mediator is to guide discussion towards the formation of agreement over the disputed elements of content.


If your dispute is related to the application of a specific policy or guideline, you may wish to post in one of these noticeboards (below) to get input from uninvolved ors familiar with that topic.

Requested move[]

Requested moves (RM) is a process to request community-wide input on the retitling of the article. RMs should be used when there is a dispute about what the title of an article should be, or when the user anticipates that a move would be contentious; while the RM is ongoing, the article should remain at its stable title. To solicit responses from a large number of ors, RMs can further be publicized via noticeboards or relevant WikiProject talk pages. RM discussions take place on a relevant article's talk page.

Requests for comment[]

Request for comment (RfC) is a process to request community-wide input on article content. RfCs can be used when there is a content-related dispute, or simply to get input from other ors before making a change. To solicit responses from a large number of ors, RfCs can be publicized via noticeboards or relevant WikiProject talk pages. An RfC bot will also automatically notify the feedback request service pool of ors. RfC discussions related to article content take place on article talk pages.

Dispute resolution noticeboard[]

The Dispute resolution noticeboard (DRN) is the place where ors involved in a content dispute can have a discussion facilitated by uninvolved volunteers, in an attempt to find compromise and resolution to disputes. The volunteers are experienced Wikipedia ors with knowledge in dispute resolution. Disputes are sometimes referred to a more appropriate venue (such as Requests for Comment).

Resolving user conduct disputes[]

The difference between a conduct and a content dispute is that, in a conduct dispute, the actions of a user (such as how an or s or the comments the or makes about other users) is the overriding issue. If there would be no substantive dispute if the or was not behaving in a disruptive or unprofessional way, then it is a conduct dispute; if the primary issue is that two ors cannot agree on what the content of an article should be, then it is a content dispute.

If the issue is a conduct dispute (i.e., or behavior) the first step is to talk with the other or at their user talk page in a polite, simple, and direct way. Try to avoid discussing conduct issues on article talk pages. There are several templates you may use to warn ors of conduct issues,[1] or you may choose to use your own words to open a discussion on the or's talk page. In all cases, and even in the face of serious misconduct, please try to act in a professional and polite manner. Turn the other cheek.


If discussion with the or fails to resolve the issue, you may ask an administrator to evaluate the conduct of the user. You can ask for an administrator's attention at a noticeboard such as the administrators' noticeboard for incidents (ANI). Conduct complaints that fall into certain sub-categories of misconduct have their own administrators' noticeboard; for example, complaints about warring should be made at the warring noticeboard (AN3), and requests for enforcing an Arbitration Committee decision at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard (AE). Administrators and the community will look to see if you have tried to resolve the conflict before escalating, and they will look at your behavior as well as the behavior of the other or or ors. Administrators have wide latitude to use their permissions to stop misconduct and damage to the encyclopedia; for example, an or who is making personal attacks, and does not stop when you ask them, may be warned by an administrator and subsequently blocked.

Sockpuppet investigations is for evaluating concerns that two users may be sockpuppets (ors who are operating two accounts pretending to be different people, or blocked ors returning under a different account). Requests for comment on usernames and usernames for administrator attention (UAA) are the main methods of bringing attention to usernames which may be inappropriate.

Sensitive issues and functionary actions[]

A small number of user conduct grievances involve sensitive or non-public information. These include issues where an arbitrator, checkuser, or oversighter has stated a privacy issue exists in the case, and disputes where there is a concern of a sensitive or private nature. For example:

Disputes or issues of this kind should usually be referred to the functionaries mailing list or Arbitration Committee. In some cases it may be possible to seek advice from an uninvolved trusted administrator by IRC, email or other private means. Where an action is marked as CheckUser, Oversight, VRT (formerly OTRS), or Arbitration Committee, that action should not be reverted without checking beforehand. The presumption is that they have a good reason, and those aware of the reason may need time to recheck, consult, and respond. Sometimes the relevant talk page or other wiki pages will have more details and these are always a good first place to check.

Such actions, if disputed, should initially be raised (by email if necessary) with the agent or functionary concerned. Where a dispute about CheckUser and Oversighter actions cannot be resolved in this manner, it should be referred to the functionaries mailing list or the Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Audit where appropriate. Disputes about ArbCom actions should be referred to the Arbitration Committee.

Last resort: arbitration[]

If you have taken all other reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, and the dispute is not over the content of an article, you can request arbitration. Be prepared to show that you tried to resolve the dispute by other means. Arbitration differs from other forms of dispute resolution in that the Arbitration Committee will consider the case and issue a decision, instead of merely assisting the parties in reaching an agreement. If the issue is decided by arbitration, you will be expected to abide by the result. If the case involves serious user misconduct, arbitration may result in a number of serious consequences up to totally banning someone from ing, as laid out in the arbitration policy.

For urgent situations[]

Some situations can be sufficiently urgent or serious that dispute resolution steps are not equipped to resolve the issue. Such situations can be forwarded to the appropriate venue.

Venues for urgent assistance
To request or report: Go to:
Deletion of personal information from logs and page histories Wikipedia:Requests for oversight
Unblocking (if you are blocked) See the Guide to appealing a block
Vandalism of an article Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism
Blatantly inappropriate usernames, such as usernames that are obscene or inflammatory Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention
Suspected sockpuppetry Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations
Urgent violations of Wikipedia's policies on Personal Attacks Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents
Edit warring Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring
Other urgent problems with a user's s Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard

The administrators' noticeboards (e.g. AN and ANI) are not the appropriate place to raise disputes relating to content. Reports that do not belong at these noticeboards will be closed, and discussions will need to be re-posted by you at an appropriate forum – such as the dispute resolution noticeboard (DRN).

Words of caution[]

Dispute resolution is sometimes used by ors to try to game the system. This generally backfires badly. Remember that dispute resolution mechanisms are ultimately there to enable ors to collaboratively write an encyclopedia – not to win personal or political battles.

Under Wikipedia:Decisions not subject to consensus of ors, some disputes are resolved in different forums using those forums' methods.


From 2002 to 2007, disputes were discussed at Wikipedia:Conflicts between users. The process subsequently moved to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User conduct until it was shut down in 2014 and replaced by this policy.

The Mediation Committee (MEDCOM) and the Association of Members' Advocates (AMA) assisted in disputes in the early days of Wikipedia. The MEDCOM was created by Jimbo at the same time that he kicked off ArbCom. The Mediation Cabal (MEDCAB) also existed for a number of years to assist in guerilla dispute resolution, and at one point eclipsed the original MEDCOM in popularity and efficacy.


  1. ^ Please note that some ors have objections to receiving a template message – see the essays Don't template the regulars and Template the regulars for various sides of that issue.