Revision deletion (also RevisionDelete or RevDel) is a part of the Commons software (MediaWiki) which allows selective hiding from public view of posts, file versions and log entries by administrators, as well as review by any administrator of the correct use of the tool. Entries still appear on the public wiki (as inaccessible items, with the original content removed), and any user may request that an administrator review a RevisionDelete action, to determine whether its removal was reasonable. Note that RevisionDelete does not delete data from the Commons servers, it merely hides it from public view. Administrators can see RevisionDeleted content, and, if necessary, reverse the deletion.
To hide or unhide a revision or a log entry, admins can click a small "(del/undel)" button next to a relevant revision, diff, or log entry. There are normally three options to choose from:
- Delete revision text
- Delete edit comment
- Delete editor's username/IP
In addition, users with the suppressrevision right (namely oversighters) have an additional option, to
Suppress data from administrators as well as others.
When Revision Deletion may be used
Currently there are no specific guidelines for use of the Revision Deletion tool. It is considered an additional tool for enforcing other Commons policies, and so for example may be used in all cases where regular deletions are permitted but where just a revision needs to be removed. Because of the effects on transparency, it should be used with appropriate caution.
The standard reasons presented to administrators when using the tool (from MediaWiki:Revdelete-reason-dropdown) are:
- Copyright violation
- Inappropriate personal information
- Potentially libelous content
- PD-Art image with non-free frame
- Non-public identifying or personal information
Note that this list is in no way exhaustive; the standard reasons are merely provided for convenience, and administrators may provide any reason they wish (though it should be reasonably clear what policy or policies are being enforced). Other common uses include:
- As the result of a deletion request where only one version of a file requires deletion
- To delete a version of a file which includes an identifiable person in a private location who has not given consent to the upload (see Commons:Photographs of identifiable people)
Revision deletion is used sparingly
Please note that revision deletion is used sparingly and is not (for example) used to hide the fact that there were several unsuccessful attempts at uploading variants of an image, or that there has been some back-and-forth over which of two versions of an image to use. Discussions about revision deletion consume participant time, deleting revisions consumes administrator time, and deleting revisions does not save any disk storage space.
How to request Revision Deletion
In order to avoid the Streisand effect, there is no dedicated on-wiki forum for requesting RevDel. You can send a message to any administrator either at their talk page or by email if privacy is a concern. You can also request revision deletion on IRC using #wikimedia-commons. Keep in mind that if the revision you're reporting could be subject to oversight, follow the procedures at Commons:Oversight.
For some cases, there is a specific template to request revision deletion:
Appeal, discussion and reversal of actions
Actions performed using this tool remain visible in the public logs. They are subject to review by other administrators (who can see the revision-deleted material), either at their own discretion or on request. As with other administrative tools, good judgment and appropriate use are expected; improper use can lead to sanctions or desysopping.
Revision deletion is expected to be used sparingly, and disputed cases should not normally be reversed without either prior agreement with the deleting admin or a consensus emerging from community discussion about the case.