Help:Contents/Vandalism

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Read also: Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines

Types of vandalism

Wikipedia vandalism may fall into one or more of the following categorizations:

Type Description
Blanking Removing all or significant parts of pages' content without any reason, or replacing entire pages with nonsense. Sometimes important verifiable references are deleted with no valid reason(s) given in the summary. However, significant content removals are usually not considered to be vandalism where the reason for the removal of the content is readily apparent by examination of the content itself, or where a non-frivolous explanation for the removal of apparently legitimate content is provided, linked to, or referenced in an edit summary.
Page lengthening Adding very large (measured by the number of bytes) amounts of bad-faith content to a page so as to make the page's load time abnormally long or even make the page impossible to load on some computers. Adding large amounts of good-faith content is not vandalism.
Spam Adding or continuing to add external links to non-notable or irrelevant sites (e.g. to advertise one's website) to pages after having been warned is vandalism, or sites that have some relationship to the subject matter, but advertise or promote in the user's interest.
Vandalbots A script or "robot" that attempts to vandalize or spam massive numbers of articles (hundreds or thousands).
Silly vandalism Adding profanity, graffiti, random characters, or other nonsense to pages; creating nonsensical and obviously non-encyclopedic pages, etc. Please note that the addition of random characters to pages is a common way that new users test edit and may not be intentionally malicious.
Sneaky vandalism Vandalism that is harder to spot, or that otherwise circumvents detection. This can include adding plausible misinformation to articles, (e.g. minor alteration of facts or additions of plausible-sounding hoaxes), hiding vandalism (e.g. by making two bad edits and only reverting one), using two or more different accounts and/or IP addresses at a time to vandalize, or reverting legitimate edits with the intent of hindering the improvement of pages. Some vandals even follow their vandalism with an edit that states "revert vandalism" in the edit summary in order to give the appearance the vandalism was reverted.
Userspace vandalism Adding insults, profanity, etc. to user pages or user talk pages.
Image vandalism Uploading shock images, inappropriately placing explicit images on pages, or simply using any image in a way that is disruptive. Please note though that Wikipedia is not censored for the protection of minors and that explicit images may be uploaded and/or placed on pages for legitimate reasons.
Template vandalism Modifying the wiki language or text of a template in a harmful or disruptive manner. This is especially serious, because it'll negatively impact the appearance of multiple pages. Some templates appear on hundreds of pages.
Abuse of tags Bad-faith placing of templates (notices), or other tags on pages that do not meet such criteria. This includes removal of long-standing policy and related tags without forming consensus on such a change first.
Page-move vandalism Changing the names of pages (referred to as "page-moving") to disruptive, irrelevant, or otherwise inappropriate terms. Wikipedia now only allows registered users active for at least four days to move pages.
Link vandalism Modifying internal or external links within a page so that they appear the same but link to a page/site that they are not intended to (e.g spam, self-promotion, an explicit image; a shock site).
Avoidant vandalism Removing tags in order to conceal deletion candidates or avert deletion of such content. Note that this is often mistakenly done by new users who are unfamiliar with Deletion procedures and such users should be given the benefit of the doubt and pointed to the proper page to discuss the issue.
Modifying users' comments Editing other users' comments to substantially change their meaning (e.g. turning someone's vote around), except when removing a personal attack(which is somewhat controversial in and of itself). Signifying that a comment is unsigned is an exception. Please also note that correcting other users' typos is discouraged.
Discussion page vandalism Blanking the posts of other users from talk pages other than your own, Wikipedia space, and other discussions, aside from removing internal spam, vandalism, etc., is generally considered vandalism. An obvious exception is moving posts to a proper place. Removing personal attacks is often considered legitimate, and it is considered acceptable to archive an overly long talk page by creating an archive page and moving the text from the main talk page there. Note: The above rules do not apply to a user's own talk page. Editors are granted considerable latitude over editing their own userspace pages (including talk pages), and blanking one's own user talk page is specifically not prohibited.
Repeated uploading of copyrighted material Uploading or using material on Wikipedia in ways which violate Wikipedia's copyright policies after having been warned is vandalism. Because users may be unaware that the information is copyrighted, or of Wikipedia policies on how such material may and may not be used, such action only becomes vandalism if it continues after the copyrighted nature of the material and relevant policy restricting its use have been communicated to the user.
Malicious account creation Creating accounts with usernames that contain deliberately offensive or disruptive terms is considered vandalism, whether the account is used or not.
Edit summary vandalism Making offensive edit summaries in an attempt to leave a mark that cannot be easily expunged from the record (edit summaries cannot simply be "reverted" and remain visible when viewing a page's history. Often combined with malicious account creation.
Hidden vandalism Any form of vandalism that makes use of embedded text, which is not visible to the final rendering of the article but visible during editing. This includes link vandalism (described above), or placing malicious, offensive, or otherwise disruptive or irrelevant messages or spam in hidden comments for editors to see.