Here's how to help restore pages that have been vandalized.


To begin, you first must understand what vandalism is. Take this quote from Wikipedia:

Vandalism is any addition, deletion, or change to content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia (such as swearing, deleting letters to make inappropriate words, etc.) (see also Newbie experiment). The most common type of vandalism is the replacement of existing text with obscenities, name calling, or other wholly irrelevant content.

Any good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia, even if misguided or ill-considered, is not vandalism. Apparent bad-faith edits that do not make their bad-faith nature inarguably explicit are not considered vandalism at Wikipedia.

Vandalism is not synonymous with trolling, although some trolling is vandalism:

Trolling is deliberate and intentional attempts to disrupt the usability of a wiki for its editors, administrators, developers, and other people who work to create content for and help run that wiki. Trolling is deliberate violation of the implicit rules of Internet social spaces. It is necessarily a value judgment made by one user about the value of another's contribution.

Recent Changes

So a vandal puts bad things on pages, basically. How do you help prevent this sort of thing?

One way you can help is by going to the recent changes page and look through the difs.

If there are so many recent changes that you can't possibly check them all, then look for these things:

  • A new page, symbolized by a N, is important to check out.
  • An edit made by an IP address, a red username, or a user name spoofing another user's name, needs to be inspected.
  • An edit without a description is often made by a vandal in a hurry. Check these out.

If the page you find is vandalism, like if the page is blank, or if profanity has been added, you can revert the edit:

  • While in the differences page, click previous diff and/or next diff until you find the most current non-vandalized version.
  • Click on the (edit) link next to the Revision as of 00:00 link above that version. Alternatively, you can find the last good version and click on the date (not the diff) in the page history.
  • Type "reverted vandalism" or "reverted spamming" in the edit summary. The shorthand for this is "rv/v" or "rv/s", respectively.
  • Save the page (without making any changes).
  • Now the page is the version that you selected, in effect removing the vandalism.

Page-move vandalism

Moving a page changes its title. Page-move vandalism is moving a page to deface it by giving it a title that is nonsensical or inappropriate.

Any time a page is moved, an entry in the move log appears on Recent Changes telling what page was moved to what title. If you see a page moved to a title that is nonsensical or contains inappropriate language or that simply adds random words, you should revert this move in this way:

  • The move log entry will begin with a link to the move log. Click this link.
  • You will see a list of the most recent page moves. Find the entry for the article that was vandalized and click the "revert" link at the end of the entry. (Note that often the vandal will have moved both the article and its corresponding talk page; you should click the revert link for the article, not the talk page).
  • The old name of the page and the reason "revert" will be filled in automatically. If applicable, click the box that says "Move associated talk page", then click "Move page".
  • The page has now been returned to its proper title.

Note that there will still be redirects at the old title; a sysop will need to delete these. If there's no sysop around at the time, you can add {{delete|Vandal page}} to the redirects to tag them for deletion.

Vandalism is the conspicuous defacement or destruction of a structure, a symbol, or information against the will of the owner/governing entity. In the context of an online community project, it is a usually deliberate attempt to damage the usefulness of content for other viewers.

Assuming good faith

Useful community content presents the widest range of relevant and accurate information on a topic. In the case of a wiki, if someone edits a page so it reflects only a single viewpoint, that can be considered vandalism. For example, if a page about a TV show character contains information both from the show itself and from spin-off shows, books, etc., and a user removes all information that isn't strictly from the main show, the other community members will likely see that as vandalism. However, to keep good faith, you might assume that this editor was only trying to show that any source of information on that character besides the main show isn't true canon and shouldn't be in the article.

In general, an edit that seems like deliberate vandalism is often just a clumsy attempt at editing by someone who is new to wikis, simply didn't know the community's rules, or someone who didn't know how else to propose a change in how things are done on the wiki. In those cases, you can explain to that bad editor what they could do better, where they could go to discuss their ideas, and why certain things are just not allowed on your community, even if they're okay elsewhere. That way, a user who first seems like a vandal can turn into a useful editor and member of the community. Unless you can clearly see that someone had bad intentions, always assume they just didn't know better and offer your help!

Avoiding critical mass

Vandalism is often an aggressive attempt at getting a point across to the community, by an angry or spiteful user. You can try to defuse the situation by talking to the vandal, suggesting to work things out peacefully, or by explaining better ways to achieve what the vandal wants to achieve. If you alienate the editor, however - for example by insulting them right back - vandalism can turn into a form of vengeance. Fandom has tools and mechanisms in place to minimize the effect of pranksters and can even handle a few determined vengeful vandals, but dealing with a full-blown vandalism movement is much harder and costs a lot of time and effort.

Because of this, you should assume good faith and react with kindness wherever possible to avoid making the vandal(s) even more hateful and to prevent a vandal attack from reaching critical mass.

Dealing with vandalism

In general, the best way to deal with vandalism is to revert the vandalism, block the vandal, and ignore any attempt from the vandal to bother you further. For more information on this, we recommend reading these three pages, which go into each of these steps in more detail:

There are measures administrators can put in place to help prevent vandalism before it begins:

Two anti-vandalism extensions are used often on Fandom. ProtectSite locks down the ability of specific user groups from being able to do basic actions, such as editing or creating pages or uploading images, for up to 12 hours. If a community is facing a surge of vandalism, the VSTF or Fandom Staff can enable ProtectSite to prevent new, unregistered, or even non-sysop users from being able to do those particular things. The other extension is AbuseFilter, which allows skilled coders to block the submission of edits if certain conditions are met, for example if a particular rude or inappropriate word is included in the new text. The VSTF can help a community set up filters against regular vandalism.

Admins and Fandom staff can also turn off anonymous editing in Special:WikiFeatures if anonymous accounts (identified by their IP address) continually cause problems on a community.

See also

Further help and feedback

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