Help talk:Edit conflict/Archives/2006

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How to maximize risk of edit conflict; how to minimize risk of edit conflict

One fine day, someone accidentally undid my trivial edit. I accused them of unexplained revert and complex revert. (Bonus, I knew an edit conflict, even though seemed unlikely (it had been almost 3 hours, and their only edit was adding a one-liner and deleting my one-liner), was possible, and i really intended to mention it, but i forgot.)

They apologized and of course said it was an accident. In apologizing back, i realized some additional problems:

There are additional ways to accomplish an accidental undo, not mentioned on the edit conflict page. (none tested by me.)

  1. Leave a browser window open with a Wikipedia article for hours or days, and then up-and edit that page without hitting Refresh first. OR,
  2. On a dial-up connection, load the page, start editing, disconnect, and then do stuff offline, including edit the page (no previews). Then dial in again, log in to Wikipedia in another window, and then Save the edited page. OR,
  3. Enjoy bad caching settings in your browser, local or dedicated proxy, or ISP caching. (You won't even know that your view of the page is out of date.)
  4. Final insurance, when done editing under such lagging conditions, don't check for diffs.

Wikipedia Bummer: The edit system seems designed to create edit conflicts. It takes work to avoid them. When i've been previewing edits for two hours, towards the end i'll open the page's history IN A NEW WINDOW. If a new edit has appeared, then i have to review the diffs. If there are changes in the section that i have open (or in ANY section if i have the whole page open), then i have to start a new edit session from the new current version, and then roll in my changes (usually a simple Paste). When conflicts occur, Wikipedia lets the mess happen and then people have to "do the best they can".

Multi-user editing is a very old problem. I considered a long time ago the kinds of problems created, and the difficulty of resolution. "Last save wins" is the default "resolution" method provided by most computer operating systems, and the one used by Wikipedia. Add revision history, and no version is lost. Repair becomes possible too, but Repair only happens if people manually check and then manually resolve. Smarter resolution seems possible -- if a page is "checked back in" edited from an older version, then Wiki should try to resolve the conflict. It could reduce the new edit to a set of differences, and then try to play the differences into the file. Most times, that will be possible, and the resolution would be seamless. Multiple users could open the same file, make changes in different parts of it, and then blindly save changes, while retaining a good probability that all changes will be automatically preserved. Smarter automatic resolution would solve most edit conflicts. If the automatic resolution succeeds, Wikipedia should warn me that an edit conflict occured and was resolved automatically. If the automatic resolution fails, Wikipedia could fall back to the default model, and warn me that i just stepped on other edits, AND note the fact in the file history so that people don't think a complex revert has happened.

Wikipedia already allows edits of Sections of pages, which greatly reduces the chance of conflict, but does not eliminate it. One small deficiency still forces edits of entire pages. (It should probably remain necessary to edit the entire page in order to move words between sections.) There is no Edit link for the Intro! Editing the Intro forces me to open the whole page even if i don't want to.

(I'm not trying to improve Wikipedia for the sake of my trivial edits on trivial subjects, but to preserve the well-done work of good editors on more important subjects.)

-Whiner01 02:59, 19 April 2006 (UTC)[]