Help:Edit summary

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An icon used in notice templates. This page is a SmashWiki help page, intended to be a guide to helping users understand SmashWiki and its functionalities. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. If in doubt, consider discussing changes on the talk page.

Edit summaries are small blocks of text that an editor may choose to attach to any edit they make. This page goes over the expected and proper usage of them.

When to use them

Edit summaries are for editors to explain their edits. While in many cases the purpose of an edit is self-explanatory, clearly stating one's intentions with an edit summary helps others understand why certain edits were made. For example:

  • Adding information relating to an unreleased game (or that may otherwise be difficult for other users to verify) should probably have an edit summary explaining where the info came from, if it's not included in the edit itself.
  • Rewriting an entire section or page, or moving sections around on a page, should probably have an edit summary such as "rewriting section" or "moving SectionA to before SectionB to match similar pages", because they are radical changes that may have minimal impact on page size (an otherwise simple way to determine how much has been changed).
  • Removing information should usually have an edit summary explaining why it was removed, even if it's as simple as "as discussed on talk page". Simply typing "Unnecessary" in these cases is not helpful and is discouraged; Instead, fully explain why the information should be removed.
  • Reverting someone's edit will usually require an edit summary explaining exactly what was wrong with the edit. If the edit was only slightly undone, consider changing the text to "Partially undid edit by SoAndSo: ...". If anything else was changed in the reverting edit, the summary should also include that.
  • Removing talk page content is typically against our policy, but in some cases, it's allowed (see the policy for details). When doing this though, an edit summary should be left behind explaining why the information was removed.
  • Removing a maintenance tag may sometimes warrant an edit summary. Generally, tags like {{Image}}, {{Cleanup}}, or {{Stub}} can be removed once the required edit is completed, while templates like {{Delete}}, {{Merge}}, or {{Move}} should only be removed if the discussion ends in failure. Whenever a template like this is removed, the user should state why they think the requirements have been fulfilled (such as listing the amount of supports vs. the amount of opposes) in an edit summary.
  • Changing the wiki-status value mandates an edit summary as it's intended to show users what state the wiki is in, and should only be changed when there is a good reason for it to be lower or higher. If there is no proper reason provided as to why the change was made, it will likely be undone.
  • Creating a new page or section may necessitate an edit summary explaining the reason why it's needed. This will provide all users with a reason as to why they should support its creation, and may help prevent unnecessary future discussion around whether or not to remove it. In the case of smasher pages especially, an edit summary may prevent the smasher's notability from being called into question.
  • Removing a piece of trivia may need a summary as trivia sections are intended for otherwise pointless information that would not be mentioned anywhere else in the mainspace, and therefore their removal may cause arguments. There is a very thin line between notable and not notable so edit summaries explaining why it is believed to be unnecessary are always a good idea. See SW:TRIVIA for more information.
  • Making the first of a mass edit could be useful in explaining what the edits are about to anyone watching the recent changes. Mass edits are several edits of the same or a similar quality often performed when a new template is created, a section that is on several pages has been decided to be removed or added to, when a new category is created, or several other similar situations. Often when a user is completing such edits, they wish to get it done as quickly as possible and edit summaries become tedious to write as a result. In order to save time, it is suggested that a single edit summary is made with the first edit that explains what the edit is and adds that the next few edits are of a similar type. This allows other users to know what is going on, while allowing the editor to quickly finish the job.

When not to use them

As mentioned above, there are certain times when an edit summary is not needed. This may be the case when:

  • Adding information, or making spelling/grammar corrections usually will not require an edit summary.
  • Posting on the forum or talk page will typically not require an edit summary.
  • When communicating with new users or IPs, it is preferable to address all issues or concerns on their talk page instead of through an edit summary. Many newer users are unfamiliar with the features of the wiki, and may simply never read edit summaries if they don't know what they are. As such, do not expect a new user to have read your edit summary.


The length of an edit summary is restricted to 255 characters (or slightly less, for technical reasons if strange characters are used). It is unlikely for an edit to need more letters than this to be explained - if so, perhaps it's so radical of an edit that it should be brought up on the talk page first.

Automatic edit summaries

Some types of edits provide their own edit summaries if the editor doesn't give one:

  • If a new page is created, it reads: New Page: [content of page]
  • If a page is blanked, it reads: Blanked the page
  • If a page is replaced wholesale with new content, it reads: Replaced content with "[new content]"
  • If a page is edited to become a redirect, it reads: Redirected page to [link]
  • If the rollback function is used, it reads: Reverted edits by [user] ([talk]) to last revision by [other user].

Auto-summaries are useful for picking out potentially malicious edits, as less-knowledgable vandals may be unaware of their presence. That said, it is always preferable to write your own edit summary for these kinds of actions to explain yourself. Note that the rollback summary cannot be changed; see SmashWiki:Rollback for more details.

Do's and dont's

  • Do explain your reasoning behind potentially-controversial edits. If there's not enough space in the edit summary, you can say "see talk page" and post your reasoning there.
  • Do read other users' edit summaries before making edits (or reverts) of your own. Maybe something was removed for a legitimate reason and the edit summary explains so - don't just blindly re-add it without checking first.
  • Don't use edit summaries to discuss things. That's what talk pages are for.
  • Don't be off-topic with edit summaries. It may make sense on Recent Changes to make a note about something occurring on an unrelated page, but it'll be confusing and unhelpful in the page's history.
  • Don't say anything that would be disallowed on a talk page (such as personal attacks) or would otherwise break a policy (such as SW:QDV).

Other notes

  • If editing a single section, /* section title */ will automatically appear in the edit summary, which will make it obvious which section has been edited. You can add to this or remove it depending how you want the summary to look, but don't falsify the section's name for articles.
  • Bots should always write edit summaries that are related to the task they're doing, such as "replacing with".