Help:Page history

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MediaWiki Handbook: Contents, Readers, Editors, Moderators, System admins +/-

This page deals with revision control.

All editable pages on Wikipedia have an associated page history, which consists of the old versions of the wikitext, as well as a record of the date and time (in UTC) of every edit, the username or IP address of the user who wrote it, and their edit summary. Access the page history by clicking the "history" tab at the top of the page. This may also be referred to as the revision history or edit history.

Summary[edit]

  • All changes made to the page are listed in reverse-chronological order.
  • To view a specific version, click a date.
  • To compare an old version with the current version, click cur.
  • To compare a version with its predecessor, click prev.
  • To compare two specific versions, click the left-column radio button of the older version and the right-column radio button of the newer version, and then click the "Compare selected versions" button.
  • Minor edits are denoted as m.

Search[edit]

Revision history search is now available.

Using history page[edit]

Below is an example of a page history using the default skin. The size of the wikitext in bytes is only shown for edits from 19 April 2007.

Screenshot page history.png

Edits are shown from newest to oldest. Each edit takes up one line which shows; time & date, the contributor's name or IP and the edit summary, as well as other diagnostic information. Let's look at some of the functions of this page:

  1. The page name stays the same, but the "history" tab is highlighted.
  2. These links take you to the most recent edits (Latest), oldest edits (Earliest) or the next or previous page of edits (Next n / Previous n). Note that the black text in brackets will become links, when applicable.
  3. The blue numbers list the number of edits displayed on a page - 20, 50, 100, 250 or 500. A higher number increases the length of a page and reduces the number of pages. The number you select replaces n in the links to the previous or next pages e.g. (Next 100 / Previous 100).
  4. (cur) takes you to a diff page, showing the difference between that edit and the current version. The current revision appears below the changes, so you can see how the page is now rendered.
  5. (last) takes you to a diff page showing the changes between that edit and the previous version. The most recent version (the one on the same line as the "last" you clicked on) appears below the changes, so you can see how the page was rendered.
  6. The two columns of radio buttons can be used to select any two versions on the page. Lets say you want to compare the versions corresponding to numbers 10 & 11 on the image. First, click the left radio button next to number 11. The right column of buttons will then fill as far as number 11. Then click the right button next to number 10. Finally click Compare selected versions. This takes you to a diff page showing the changes between the two versions. The most recent version (in this case number 10) appears below the changes, so you can see how the page was rendered.
  7. This gives the time and date of the edit, expressed in local time according to the preference setting. The date and time link to the version of that day and time. Thus the first line links to the version that was current at the time of loading this revision history, and therefore the result may differ from that of following the link on the page margin to the current version. Even if the page has not changed in the meantime, the message with id 'Revision-info' (talk) appears.
  8. The username or IP of the contributor appears here.
  9. This is the edit summary. It is the text the user wrote in the edit summary box (below the edit box).
  10. This edit summary begins with an arrow link and grey text. This means the user has only edited a section of the page (named in the grey text). This text is automatically added when you edit a section. A standard edit summary can be added by the user. This appears in black text.
  11. m stands for minor edit (small corrections to a page). These help you understand the type of changes that have been made.

If the "move page" feature has been used in the past to change a page's name, the entire edit history of the article, before and after the move, is shown. The old title becomes a redirect and loses its edit history. After merging two pages, typically one becomes a redirect. In this case the revision history of the redirect is kept.

URL[edit]

To only show edits before a given date and time, and/or show not more than a specified number of edits, use a URL like //meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Main_Page&offset=20070617172343&limit=20&action=history, where the offset, in timestamp format, is the "deadline" and limit is the number of edits displayed.

Watched pages[edit]

If one views the history of a watched page directly, without first viewing the page, the edit at the top (the most recent one) may be marked with update marker "updated (since my last visit)" (or the content of MediaWiki:Updatedmarker); this applies if the edit was made by someone else and you have not viewed the page (while logged in) since it was made. The positioning of the message, suggesting that it is a property of an edit rather than a property of the page, is somewhat misleading, because not all edits which have not been viewed yet are marked.

Web feed[edit]

Web feeds (RSS and Atom) for the history of a page are obtained by assigning to "feed" (one of the parameters to index.php available for a history pagehttp://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Parameters_to_index.php#History) the value "rss" or "atom", i.e., by adding "&feed=rss" or "&feed=atom" to the URL of the history page. This gives the diffs of the last 10 edits, each with a link to the ordinary, full diff page. Depending on the browser there may be possibilities such as sorting by author. See also w:Wikipedia:Syndicationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Syndication.

Number of revisions[edit]

Go to the earliest page in the history and click "cur" on the last edit to see the difference between the last edit and the most recent one. Above the diff table, there is the number of intermediate revisions given - add 2 to that number and you have the number of revisions in the history.

Page deletion[edit]

Page deletion (as well as revision deletion) is much more radical than page blanking, or changing the page into a redirect, because in the case of page deletion the page history can no longer be retrieved by regular users. Therefore, if any content has been moved or copied in the past to another page, with a reference in the edit summary to the source page to provide attribution, this attribution is lost when the source page is deleted.

Also, edits made to deleted pages are not shown in the regular contributor's User Contributions pages. However, the revision history is kept and can be retrieved by an administrator, who can also undelete the page (see w:Wikipedia:Viewing and restoring deleted pages).

Depending on the reason for a page deletion the deletion of the page history may be desirable or not. If not, ways to preserve the page history include:

  • change the page into a redirect; if the name is not desired even for a redirect, and there is a more suitable name for the redirect, it can be renamed without leaving behind a redirect from the original name
  • if there is no suitable name for a redirect, the page can be renamed to an archive page; if the content is not suitable for being a "current version", not even of an archive page, the content can be replaced by a remark explaining the purpose of the archive page.

See also w:wp:Merge and delete.

Composite pages (transclusion)[edit]

A section of a page may be an included separate page (via a method known as transclusion), see composite pages. A separate edit history is provided for the section, and this transcluded page must be watched separately. See m:Help:A simple composite example.

Image history[edit]

An "image" (in the broad sense of an uploaded file) can be edited, or, more generally, be replaced by a different image, by uploading a new image file with the same name. Again all versions are kept. The image history listing forms part of the image description page, which appears when clicking on the image. The image history consists of this and the old versions themselves.

Not kept are images which have been deleted (not to be confused with images that are no longer used in articles), the only record available is the upload log, deletion log and possibly the "votes for deletion" archive. Neither the latest nor older versions are kept by the system, hence it is not possible to undelete an image.

Linking to a specific version of a page[edit]

It is occasionally useful to link to a specific version of an article (a snapshot of it). For example, one might have done a review of a Wikipedia article and want to indicate which particular version was reviewed.

If the version is not the current version, one can use the page history to view the old version of the page. The URL of this old version is suitable for use to permanently reference this version, and can usually be obtained from the browser's location bar.

See also URLs of old versions of pages.

The history of the wikitext should not be confused with the history of the rendered page:

  • If a page contains a time-based variable, its rendered content varies with time; for example, {{CURRENTTIME}} gives the time of viewing the page; if at some stage the tag {{subst:CURRENTTIME}} has been placed, it has been replaced in the wikitext by the time of saving that revision; there is no variable for the time of saving the particular revision.
    • In particular, templates and images will vary if they are referred to with an expression containing a variable depending on time
  • The current versions of templates and images are used - it is not possible to specify a particular revision, unless old versions are given different names. Note that also templates used within these templates may have been revised.
  • The current interwiki links stored in Wikidata are used.

For a true permalink, upload the rendered page as HTML file (if enabled by the system) and link to the URL. The HTML contains the contents of the templates, so the page is not affected by a change or deletion of a template. It further contains URL-references to images; it is not affected by an image revision, but it is by a deletion.

To produce a wikitext version not depending on templates use "subst:", if necessary recursively.

See also Help:Downloading pages.

Special:Export[edit]

Special:Export produces an XML-file, without the MediaWiki user interface, with the wikitext of the current and optionally all old versions of one or more specified pages, with date, time, user name, and edit summary. How it is displayed, e.g. with or without XML tags, and with or without applying new lines, depends on the browser. Some browsers show "+" and "-" links to view or hide selected parts. Alternatively the XML-source can be viewed using the "view source" feature of the browser, or after saving the XML file locally, with a program of choice.

The feature also allows searching for a text in all versions of one or more specified pages. See also XML export.

Reverting a page[edit]

If your new pages edits aren't to your liking, don't panic; you can 'revert' the page to any previous version.

Archiving[edit]

Archiving texts in separate pages is superior to using the page history as archive:

  • "What links here" works for archive pages, but not for old revisions.
  • Texts in archive pages can be found by search engines. For content which is only in a revision history the possibilities are limited. (However, for a popular site like the English Wikipedia there are a few tens of mirror sites; how recent the copies are varies, so searching for some specific old content search engines may find it on some of them.)
  • Archive pages can be organized and titled afterwards in a suitable way, while e.g. edit summaries can not be supplied afterwards. However, an index of old versions of a page, with links to them, could be prepared.

See also[edit]


Links to other help pages[edit]

Help contents
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Reading
Go · Search · Stop words · Namespace · Page name · Section · Backlinks · Redirect · Category · Image page · Special pages · Printable version
Tracking changes
Recent changes (enhanced) | Related changes · Watching pages · Diff · Page history · Edit summary · User contributions · Minor edit · Patrolled edit
Logging in and preferences
Logging in · Preferences · User style
Editing
Starting a new page · Advanced editing · Editing FAQ · Edit toolbar · Export · Import · Shortcuts · Edit conflict · Page size
Referencing
Links · URL · Piped links · Interwiki linking · Footnotes
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Fixing mistakes
Show preview · Testing · Reverting edits
Advanced functioning
Expansion · Template · Advanced templates · Parser function · Parameter default · Variable · System message · Substitution · Array · Calculation · Embed page
Others
Special characters · Renaming (moving) a page · Preparing a page for translation · Talk page · Signatures · Sandbox · Legal issues for editors
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