Edit conflict

A computer problem that can occur when multiple editors make changes to the same file during a short time period.

An edit conflict is a computer problem that may occur when multiple editors edit the same file during a short period. The problem is encountered on digital media, wikis, distributed data systems, and revision control. To save the file while minimizing edits, the conflict must be resolved.

An edit conflict is a computer problem that may occur when multiple editors edit the same file during a short period. The conflict occurs when an editor gets a copy of a shared document file, changes the copy, and attempts to save the changes to the original file, which has been altered by another editor after the copy was obtained. To save the original file, the edit conflict must be resolved.


The simplest way to resolve an edit conflict is to ignore intervening edits and overwrite the current file. This may lead to a substantial loss of information, and alternative methods are often employed to resolve or prevent conflicts.

The manual resolution, where the editor determines which version to retain and may manually incorporate edits into the current version of the file.
Store backups or file comparisons of each edit, so there are backups changes of the file once the original is overwritten
File locking, which limits the file to one editor at a time to prevent edit conflicts. Computer writer Gary B. Shelly notes that many wiki systems "will block the contributor who is attempting to edit the page from being able to do so until the contributor currently editing the page saves changes or remains idle on the page for an extended period."
Merge, by determining if the edits are in unrelated parts of the file and combining without user intervention.


The problem is encountered on wikis, distributed data systems (e.g., Google Sites), and revision control systems not using file locking. The problem is more likely to occur when working on heavily edited articles on Wikipedia, such as those about a current event or a person suddenly in the news, as well as other high-traffic pages. If a significant amount of new text is involved, the editor who receives an "edit conflict" error message can cut and paste the new text into a word processor or similar program for further editing, or can paste that text directly into a newer version of the target document. Simple copyediting can be done directly on the newer version, and then saved.

Edit conflict
Adapted from content published on wikipedia.org
  • Image By Johanna Strodt (WMDE) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 — from wikimedia.org
Last modified on December 13, 2020, 6:07 pm
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