A check to the minor edit box signifies that only superficial differences exist between the current and previous version: typo corrections, formatting and presentational changes, rearranging of text without modifying content, et cetera. A minor edit is a version that the editor believes requires no review and could never be the subject of a dispute.
By contrast, a major edit is a version that should be reviewed to confirm that it is consensual to all concerned editors. Therefore, any change that affects the meaning of an article is not minor, even if the edit is a single word.
The distinction between major and minor edits is significant because editors may choose to ignore minor edits when reviewing recent changes; logged-in users might even set their preferences to not display them. If you think there is any chance that another editor might dispute your change, please do not mark it as minor.
When to mark an edit as minor
- Spelling corrections
- Simple formatting (capitalisation, et cetera)
- Formatting that does not change the meaning of the page (e.g. adding horizontal lines, splitting one paragraph into two—where this is not contentious)
- Obvious factual errors (changing 1873 to 1973, where the event in question clearly took place in 1973)
- Fixing layout errors
- Adding links
- Removing vandalism
Things to remember
- Any change to the source text (Wikitext), even if it does not affect the presentation of the page in HTML (if it involves adding a space or a line break, for example) will still be treated as a change according to the database.
- Marking a major change as a minor one is considered poor etiquette, especially if the change involves the deletion of some text.
- Reverting a page is not likely to be considered minor under most circumstances. When the status of a page is disputed, and particularly if an edit war is brewing, then it is better not to mark any edit as minor. Reverting blatant vandalism is an exception to this rule.
- A user's watchlist will only list the most recent change made to a page, even if that edit was minor. Therefore, a minor change will supersede a major one in the watchlist. This is because a user who keeps a watchlist is generally interested in all changes made to a page. If you are uncertain about the changes made to a page, check the page history to double-check.
- If you accidentally mark an edit as minor when it was in fact a major edit, you should make a second edit, a dummy edit, noting that "the previous edit was major" in the edit summary. As a trivial edit to be made for this purpose, just opening the edit box and saving (changing nothing) will not work, neither will adding a blank space at the end of a line or a blank line at the end of the page—in these cases the edit is cancelled and the edit summary discarded. However, one can, for example, add an extra space between two words, or a line break. These changes are preserved in the wikitext and recorded as a change, although they do not change the rendered page.
- It may be worth communicating any disagreement about what is minor via Talk or a message to the contributor, being careful to avoid a flame war ("I thought your change was a bit more than minor—maybe I am being over-sensitive?"). There is a grey area, and many contributors will appreciate feedback on whether they've got it right.
An administrator can semi-automatically revert the edits of the last editor of a page; all such "rollback" reversions are marked as minor by the wiki software. This is because the cumulative effect of the edits and the rollback is nothing. The intended use of the rollback feature is for cases of vandalism, where the act of reverting any vandalism should be considered minor (and can be ignored in the recent changes list). This has the undesirable effect that if preferences have been set to hide minor edits, and an undesirable edit has not been marked minor, one sees that, but not a possible semi-automatic reversion, in Recent Changes and Enhanced Recent Changes.