|This page in a nutshell: No one "owns" content (including articles or any page at Wikipedia). If you create or edit an article, others can make changes, and you cannot prevent them from doing so. In addition, you should not undo their edits without good reason. Disagreements should be calmly resolved, starting with a discussion on the article talk page.|
All Wikipedia pages and articles are edited collaboratively by a community of volunteer contributors. Individual contributors, also called editors, are known as Wikipedians. No one, no matter what, has the right to act as though they are the owner of a particular article (or any part of it). Even a subject of an article, be that a person or organization, does not own the article, nor has any right to dictate what the article may or may not say.
Some contributors feel possessive about material they have contributed to Wikipedia. A few editors will even defend such material against others. It is quite reasonable to take an interest in an article on a topic you care about—perhaps you are an expert, or perhaps it is just your hobby; however, if this watchfulness starts to become possessiveness, then you are overdoing it. Believing that an article has an owner of this sort is a common mistake people make on Wikipedia.
Once you have posted it to Wikipedia, you cannot stop anyone from editing text you have written. As each edit page clearly states:
Work submitted to Wikipedia can be edited, used, and redistributed—by anyone
Similarly, by submitting your ideas (for article organization, categorization, style, standards, etc.) to Wikipedia, you allow others to challenge and develop them.
If you find yourself in an edit war with other contributors, why not take some time off from the editing process? Taking yourself out of the equation can cool things off considerably. Take a fresh look a week or two later. Or, if someone else is claiming "ownership" of a page, you can bring it up on the associated talk page, appeal to other contributors, or consider the dispute resolution process.
Even though editors can never "own" an article, it is important to respect the work and ideas of your fellow contributors. Therefore, be cautious when removing or rewriting large amounts of content, particularly if this content was written by one editor; it is more effective to try to work with the editor than against them—even if you think they are acting as if they "own" the article. (See also Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Etiquette, and Wikipedia:Assume good faith.)
Provided that contributions and input from fellow editors are not ignored or immediately disregarded, being the primary or sole editor of an article does not constitute ownership. Editors familiar with the topic and in possession of relevant reliable sources may have watchlisted such articles and may discuss or amend others' edits. Provided this does not marginalise the valid opinions of others, and is adequately justified, it too does not equal ownership. Often these editors can be approached and may offer assistance to those unfamiliar with the article.
There are two common types of ownership conflicts between users: those involving one editor and those involving multiple editors.
While ownership behavior is often understood to involve the original creator of the article, it can also involve other editors who have conflicting interests in promoting or opposing the subject, hijacking the original article's direction and emphasis, changing the title to reflect such changes, or, if unsuccessful, blanking or deleting the article as a form of revenge.
In many cases (but not all), single editors engaged in ownership conflicts are also primary contributors to the article, so keep in mind that such editors may be experts in their field or have a genuine interest in maintaining the quality of the article and preserving accuracy. An editor who appears to assume ownership of an article should be approached on the article's talk page with a descriptive header informing readers about the topic. Always avoid accusations, attacks, and speculations concerning the motivation of any editor. If the behaviour continues, the issue may require dispute resolution, but it is important to make a good attempt to communicate with the editor on the article talk page before proceeding to mediation, etc. Editors of this type often welcome discussion, so a simple exchange of ideas will usually solve the problem of ownership.
If you find that the editor continues to be hostile, makes personal attacks, or wages edit wars, try to ignore disruptive editing by discussing the topic on the talk page. You may need to ignore attacks made in response to a query. If ownership persists after a discussion, dispute resolution may be necessary, but at least you will be on record as having attempted to solve the problem directly with the editor. It is important to make a good attempt to communicate with the editor on the article talk page before proceeding to mediation, etc. It may also be wise to allow them to withdraw from the conversation and return when they are ready.
The involvement of multiple editors, each defending the ownership of the other, can be highly complex. The simplest scenario usually consists of a dominant editor who is defended by other editors, reinforcing the former's ownership. This can be frustrating to both new and seasoned editors. As before, address the topic and not the actions of the editors. If this fails, proceed to dispute resolution, but it is important to communicate on the talk page and attempt to resolve the dispute yourself before escalating the conflict resolution process.
"WP:STEWARDSHIP" redirects here. For the group of users, see meta:Stewards.
Unless an editor exhibits behaviour associated with ownership, it's best to assume good faith on their part and regard their behavior as stewardship. Stewardship or shepherding of an article or group of related articles may be the result of a sincere personal interest in the subject matter or in a cause or organization related to it. The editor might also be an expert or otherwise very knowledgeable in the subject matter and able to provide credible insights for locating reliable sources. The editors in question are no less responsible for adhering to core policies like neutrality of viewpoint, verifiability with reliable sources, and civility.
Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that "anyone can edit", but not all edits bring improvement. In many cases, a core group of editors will have worked to build the article up to its present state and will revert edits that they find detrimental in order, they believe, to preserve the quality of the encyclopedia. Such reversion does not indicate an "ownership" problem, if it is supported by an edit summary referring to Wikipedia policies and guidelines, previous reviews and discussions, or specific grammar or prose problems introduced by the edit.
Where disagreement persists after such a reversion, the editor proposing the change should first take the matter to the talk page, without personal comments or accusations of ownership. In this way, the specifics of any change can be discussed with the editors who are familiar with the article, who are likewise expected to discuss the content civilly. This is in keeping with the BRD cycle, which stands for bold, revert, discuss. Though not an official policy or guideline, it is a dependable method for dispute resolution.
While Featured articles (identified by a bronze star in the upper-right corner
Wikipedia offers wide latitude to users to manage their user space as they see fit. Nevertheless, they are not personal homepages, and are not owned by the user. They are still part of Wikipedia and must serve its primary purposes; in particular, user talk pages make communication and collaboration among editors easier. These functions must not be hampered by ownership behavior.
While other users and bots will more commonly edit your user talk page, they have rights to edit other pages in your user space as well. Usually others will not edit your primary user page, other than to address significant concerns (rarely) or to do routine housekeeping, such as handling project-related tags, disambiguating links to pages that have been moved, removing the page from categories meant for articles, replace non-free content by link to it, or removing obvious vandalism or BLP violations.
While it may be easy to identify ownership issues, it is far more difficult to resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of the editors involved. It is always helpful to remember to stay calm, assume good faith, and remain civil. Accusing other editors of owning the article may appear aggressive, and could be perceived as a personal attack. Address the editor in a civil manner, with the same amount of respect you would expect. Often, editors accused of ownership may not even realize it, so it is important to assume good faith. Some editors may think they are protecting the article from vandalism, and may respond to any changes with hostility. Others may try to promote their own point of view, failing to recognize the importance of the neutrality policy.
If an editor consistently demonstrates behavior similar to that shown in the following examples in a certain article talk page, then they probably have issues with page ownership.
Further information: Wikipedia:No personal attacks
Although the following statements, seen in isolation from any context or other statements, do not indicate ownership behavior or motivation, they may be part of a pattern that indicates ownership behavior. When they occur along with some form of dogged insistence and relentless pushing, without good policy back up, and often including edit warring, they may be an expression of ownership behavior.