A dummy edit is a change in wikitext that has little or no effect on the rendered page, but saves a useful edit summary in the page history. This can be used to correct a previous faulty edit summary, such as an accidental marking of a previous edit as "minor", or for "text messaging" to other editors. Such text messaging can be used to communicate with unregistered or logged-out users who are only identified by their IP addresses. (Since IP addresses can be shared, a message left on an "IP talk page" may not be noticed by the intended recipient.)
This feature should be used sparingly, and never for extended discussions. Text messaging through an edit summary can also be useful to point a problematic editor to relevant discussion on the talk page. Each edit summary can hold 250 bytes, but the input box for an edit summary is limited to 200 characters (unless a preference option has been provided to allow expanded edit summaries). A dummy edit should be marked as "minor" by logged-in editors (unless the purpose of the dummy edit is to correct a previous edit accidentally marked "minor").
Examples of dummy edits
- Changing the number of newlines in the edit text
- Changing a space to a line break in running text (or vice versa), for example, or adding or removing a single blank line after a header. Note that adding an extra blank line where there was none may add a paragraph break, which is not a dummy edit. Adding newlines to the end of the article will not save as a dummy edit (see below).
- Changing the number of spaces
- Changing one space character to two or more (or vice versa) also has no effect on the rendered page. Multiple space characters always render as a single space, unless the line begins with a leading space (see Help:Wikitext examples).
A null edit occurs when a page is saved without making any changes at all to the wikitext. This is useful for refreshing the cache. A null edit will not register as an edit and will not create an entry in the page history (or in Recent Changes, etc.), so any edit summary provided by the user will be discarded.
The most useful side-effect of a null edit is that it updates category pages, taking into account categories transcluded via templates. If a category has been added to or removed from a template since it was last transcluded on a page, then purging the cache will not update the category contents, but a null edit to the page (not the category) will – see how to add a category by using a template.
Examples of null edits
- Opening the edit window and immediately saving
- Doing this to a section instead of the entire page is sufficient to constitute a null edit, but can sometimes accidentally result in a dummy edit with an empty edit summary.
- Providing an edit summary without changing the page text at all
- This is also a null edit. It's a good idea to always provide an edit summary such as "null edit" and mark the edit as minor, just in case it shows up in the page history.
- Adding newlines only to the end of the page
- This is also a null edit, because such newlines are ignored (stripped away) when the page is saved. Note that this true even when editing a section of a page.
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