Two main usages of the term edit war have emerged. Some people consider that an edit war is when two or more contributors repeatedly revert one another's edits to an article. Others subscribe to a much broader definition, encompassing any situation in which two or more authors repeatedly edit an article extensively. Subscribers to the second definition consider the first definition to be a revert duel, a special case of an edit war. This second usage is harder to identify clearly, and individuals sometimes disagree on whether a particular editing episode constitutes edit warfare.
Regardless whether or not the activity should properly be called an "edit war", most users consider sustained episodes of animated cut-and-thrust editing to be undesirable, and if they observe it happening and can't talk the parties out of it or encourage them to enter the dispute resolution process, they may request protection of the article to enforce a cool down period. Users who persist in this behaviour may be subject to arbitration.