Help:Dummy edit

A dummy edit is a slight change in a page's wikitext that has no effect on the rendered page but allows an editor to save a useful edit summary. By contrast, a null edit—clicking "Publish changes" without changing anything—does not modify the wikitext, does not create an edit summary, and does not appear in the page's edit history.


Through a dummy edit, an edit summary can be provided, aimed at:

  • Sending messages regarding editing issues (however, dummy edits should not be used to hold extensive content discussions; that should be done through talk pages). Sending a message via the edit summary ("SMS") is one way of communicating with other editors where it appears there is no need to create a new talk page thread for the message. Such "text messages" in a page's history may also be seen by users who otherwise would not be informed. For example, users who do not have accounts may edit from a dynamic IP address, and thus communication through the IP's talk page may not be well suited to reach that person. Such messages may also be useful to reach an editor who might not see a talk page thread, if a discussion was opened there. When raising some issue in the edit summary, it may be useful to provide a link in that message to the talk page and state that further discussion is taking or should take place there. Each edit summary can hold 500 characters.
  • Correcting a previous edit summary, such as an accidental marking of a previous edit as minor.
  • Addressing an accidental or improper-and-rethought use of rollback for a good faith edit, or at least, for an edit that was not clearly vandalism.
  • While logged in to your Wikipedia user account, noting that a previous edit posted by an IP address was you, but editing while you were accidentally logged out.
  • Providing proof of activity from time to time by a user who does not wish to contribute but does not want to be seen as entirely inactive (such an edit is normally made to a user's own user or user talk page).
  • Repairing insufficient or absent copyright attribution under Wikipedia's free copyright licenses (CC BY-SA 3.0 and in some cases the GFDL as well) – that is, for content copied and pasted from a compatibly-licensed source, but without an edit summary that both: i) stated the copying taking place; and ii) provided a hyperlink to the source of that copying. The use of dummy edits for such repair is explained at Wikipedia:Copying within Wikipedia (shortcut: WP:COPYWITHIN); see specifically its sections on proper attribution (shortcut: WP:PATT) and on repairing insufficient attribution (shortcut: WP:RIA). Such essential repair using dummy edits presents in a number of contexts, non-exclusively described below, with suggested dummy edit, edit summaries for each context listed:

1) Content copied and pasted from one English Wikipedia page to any another (this may just be generic copying, but also may be from a more formal but improperly done merge or split)—
The previous edit as of 03:43, September 30, 2022, copied content from the Wikipedia page at [[Exact name of page copied from]]; see its history for attribution. This may be supplemented by adding {{copied}} to the talk page.

2) Content copied from another Wikimedia project. Using Wiktionary as the example—
Content in the edit as of 03:43, September 30, 2022 is copied from the existing Wiktionary definition at [[wikt:Exact name of Wiktionary page]]; see its history for attribution.

3) Content copied or translated from another language Wikipedia. Using the French Wikipedia as the example—
Content in the edit as of 03:43, September 30, 2022 is translated from the existing French Wikipedia article at [[:fr:Exact name of French article]]; see its history for attribution. This may be supplemented by adding {{Translated page}} to the talk page.

4) Content copied from a compatibly licensed (non-Wikimedia) source. Using a Wikia site source as the example—
Content in the edit as of 03:43, September 30, 2022 is copied from, licensed under CC-BY-SA; see its page history for attribution For this example, attribution should be coupled with adding a filled-out {{wikia content}} template to the article's references. For equivalent templates for other types of sites, see Category:Attribution templates. (Be aware also that though most Wikia sites are compatibly licensed, not all are.)


  • Adding an HTML comment. For example, adding <!-- dummy edit; can be deleted. --> to a page will not affect its presentation.
  • Adding or removing a double space or editing a reference by adding one space before </ref> in the string "}}</ref>" so that it appears as "}} </ref>" allows for an edit summary without affecting the appearance of the page.
  • Changing the number of newlines in the edit text. Changing a space to a line break in running text or vice versa; or adding or removing a single blank line after a header.
    • Adding an extra blank line where there was none is not a dummy edit in general, as it may add a paragraph break.
    • Adding newlines to the end of the page will not serve as a dummy edit; that change won't be saved, so it will result in a null edit.
  • 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 spaces are in a preformatted environment (e.g. line begins with a leading space, <code>, <pre>, <syntaxhighlight>). [1]

Note that an attempted dummy edit may result in a substantive change if done incautiously; e.g., excess blank lines can result in inadvertent paragraph breaks. It may also make the page more difficult to edit if the method of making the dummy edits causes poor text spacing (for example, extra spaces between two words in a sentence).

See also


  1. ^ See CSS white-space property.