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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton

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Chapter 5. Who Did What: Page Histories and Reverting

Anyone can edit Wikipedia. Most of the time that’s a good thing—millions of people have made positive contributions to the largest group-writing effort in human history. Then there are the problem children: those who can’t resist the urge to deface an article, or delete all its content (a practice known as blanking a page), and those who add incorrect information, deliberately or by mistake. Fortunately, Wikipedia has robust change-tracking built into it: Whatever one editor does, another can reverse, returning an article to precisely what it was before.

Apart from vandalism, as an editor you’re likely to want to see what other editors do to articles you’ve edited, whether they’re on your watchlist (Wikipedia’s Standard Watchlist) or not. While Wikipedia’s change-tracking system isn’t hard to understand, you’ll probably find it isn’t totally intuitive. In this chapter you’ll learn how to quickly read through even a convoluted page history, how to see what’s happened since you last edited an article, how to restore an earlier version of an article with just a few clicks, and how to deal with a problem edit followed by other edits you don’t want to delete.

Understanding Page Histories

When you’re working on, say, an Excel spreadsheet, you can’t turn back time and look at what the document was like last Tuesday at 10:05 a.m. Wikipedia is different—its database has a copy of every version of every page ever created or edited. If you ...

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