Linguifex:Vandalism policy

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Deletion Policy
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See also: Linguifex:Policy

The Linguifex Wiki vandalism policy describes the definitions and consequences of vandalism on the wiki.

Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Linguifex. Examples of typical vandalism are adding irrelevant obscenities and crude humor to a page, illegitimately blanking pages, and inserting obvious nonsense into a page.

Vandalism is prohibited. While editors are encouraged to warn and educate vandals, warnings are by no means necessary for an administrator to block.

Even if misguided, willfully against consensus, or disruptive, any good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia is not vandalism. Edit warring over content is not vandalism. Careful consideration may be required to differentiate between edits that are beneficial, detrimental but well-intentioned, and vandalising. Mislabelling good-faith edits as vandalism can be considered harmful.

Upon their discovery, revert clearly vandalising edits. Then warn the vandalising editor. Notify administrators of vandalising users who persist despite warnings, and administrators should intervene to protect content and prevent further disruption by blocking such users from editing. When warranted, accounts whose main or only use is obvious vandalism or other forbidden activity may be blocked even without warning.


Below is the Linguifex definitions of different categories of vandalism.

Abuse of tags/templates

Bad-faith placing of non-content tags such as {{afd}}, {{delete}}, {{sprotected}}, or other tags on pages that do not meet such criteria. This includes baseless removal of {{policy}} and related tags.

Account creation, malicious

Creating accounts with usernames that contain deliberately offensive or disruptive terms is considered vandalism, whether the account is used or not. For Wikipedia's policy on what is considered inappropriate for a username, see Wikipedia:Username policy. See also Wikipedia:Sock puppetry.

Avoidant vandalism

Removing {{afd}}, {{copyvio}} and other related tags in order to conceal deletion candidates or avert deletion of such content. However, this is often mistakenly done by new users who are unfamiliar with AfD procedures and such users should be given the benefit of the doubt and pointed to the proper page to discuss the issue.

Blanking, illegitimate


Removing all or significant parts of a page's content without any reason, or replacing entire pages with nonsense. Sometimes referenced information or 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.
Blanking that could be legitimate includes blanking all or part of a biography of a living person. Wikipedia is especially concerned about providing accurate and unbiased information on the living; blanking may be an effort to remove inaccurate or biased material. Due to the possibility of unexplained good-faith content removal, {{uw-test1}} or {{uw-delete1}}, as appropriate, should be used as initial warnings for content removals without more descriptive edit summaries.

Copyrighted material, repeated uploading of

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.

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 require administrative action if they have to be removed from a page's history). Often combined with malicious account creation.

Gaming the system

Deliberate attempts to circumvent enforcement of Wikipedia policies, guidelines, and procedures by causing bad faith edits to go unnoticed. Includes marking bad faith edits as minor to get less scrutiny, making a minor edit following a bad faith edit so it won't appear on all watchlists, recreating previously deleted bad faith creations under a new title, use of the {{construction}} tag to prevent deletion of a page that would otherwise be a clear candidate for deletion, or use of sock puppets.

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, or placing malicious, offensive, or otherwise disruptive or irrelevant messages or spam in hidden comments for editors to see.

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 (that is, if they have encyclopedic value).

Link vandalism

Adding or changing internal or external links on a page to disruptive, irrelevant, or inappropriate targets while disguising them with mislabeling.

Page creation, illegitimate

Creating new pages with the sole intent of malicious behavior. It also includes scatalogical inanities, personal attack pages (articles written to disparage the subject), hoaxes and other intentionally inaccurate pages. There are many other types of pages that merit deletion, even speedy deletion, but which are not vandalism. New users sometimes create test pages containing nonsense or even autobiographies, and doing so is not vandalism, such pages can also be moved to become their sandbox or userpage. Pages on non notable topics are not vandalism. Blatant advertising pages, and blatant POV pushes, are not vandalism, but frequently happen and often lead to editors being blocked. It is important that people creating inappropriate pages are communicated with appropriately as even if they aren't willing to edit within our rules they are more likely to go away quietly if the reason they are given for their page being deleted makes sense.

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 without the browser or machine crashing. Adding large amounts of good-faith content is not vandalism, though prior to doing so, one should consider if splitting a long page may be appropriate (see Wikipedia:Article size).

Page-move vandalism

Changing the names of pages to disruptive, irrelevant, or inappropriate names. Only autoconfirmed or confirmed users can move pages.

Silly vandalism

Adding profanity, graffiti, or patent nonsense to pages; creating nonsensical and obviously unencyclopedic pages, etc. However, the addition of random characters to pages is often characteristic of an editing test and, though impermissible, may not be malicious.

Sneaky vandalism

Template:Policy shortcut

Vandalism that is harder to spot, or that otherwise circumvents detection, including adding plausible misinformation to articles (such as minor alteration of facts or additions of plausible-sounding hoaxes), hiding vandalism (such as by making two bad edits and only reverting one), simultaneously using multiple accounts or IP addresses to vandalize, abuse of maintenance and deletion templates, or reverting legitimate edits with the intent of hindering the improvement of pages. Impersonating other users by signing an edit with a different username or IP address also constitutes sneaky vandalism, but take care not to confuse this with appropriately correcting an unsigned edit made by another user. Some vandals even follow their vandalism with an edit that states "rv vandalism" in the edit summary in order to give the appearance the vandalism was reverted.

Spam external linking

Adding or continuing to add spam external links is usually spam not vandalism, but like vandalism it is dealt with by a series of warnings that if ignored will lead to a block. A spam external link is one added to a page mainly for the purpose of promoting a website, product or a user's interests rather than to improve the page editorially. If it looks like the link is designed to offend people clicking it rather than sell things to them then it may be vandalism rather than spam.

Talk page vandalism

Illegitimately deleting or editing other users' comments. However, it is acceptable to blank comments constituting vandalism, internal spam, or harassment or a personal attack. It is also acceptable to identify an unsigned comment. Users are also permitted to remove comments from their own user talk pages. A policy of prohibiting users from removing warnings from their own talk pages was considered and rejected on the grounds that it would create more issues than it would solve.

Template vandalism

Modifying the wiki language or text of a template in a harmful or disruptive manner. This is especially serious, because it will negatively impact the appearance of multiple pages. Some templates appear on hundreds or thousands of pages, so they are permanently protected from editing to prevent vandalism.

User and user talk page vandalism

Unwelcome, illegitimate edits to another person's user page may be considered vandalism. User pages are regarded as within the control of their respective users and, with certain exceptions, should not be edited without permission of the user to whom they belong. See WP:UP#OWN. Related is Wikipedia:No personal attacks.


A script or "robot" that attempts to vandalize or add spam to a mass of pages.

What is not vandalism

Template:Policy shortcut Although at times the following situations may be referred to as vandalism, they are not usually considered vandalism as such. However, each case should be treated independently, taking into consideration whether or not the actions violate Wikipedia policies and guidelines. In addition, if an editor treats situations which are not clearly vandalism as such, then that editor may harm the encyclopedia by alienating or driving away potential editors.

Boldly editing

Bold edits, though they may precede consensus or be inconsistent with prior consensus, are not vandalism unless other aspects of the edits identify them as vandalism. The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold, and acknowledges the role of bold edits in reaching consensus.

Copyright policy violations

Uploading or using material on Wikipedia in violation of Wikipedia's copyright policies is prohibited, but is not vandalism unless the user does so maliciously or fails to heed warnings. It is at least as serious an issue as vandalism and persistent offenders will ultimately get blocked, but it is well worth spending time communicating clearly with those who add copyvio as they are far more likely to reform than vandals or spammers.

Disruptive editing or stubbornness

Some users cannot come to agreement with others who are willing to talk to them about an editing issue, and repeatedly make changes against consensus. Edit warring is not vandalism and should not be dealt with as such. Dispute resolution may help. See also: Tendentious editing

Edit summary

The edit summary is important in that it helps other editors understand the purpose of your edit. Though its use is not required, it is strongly recommended, even for minor edits, and is considered proper Wikipedia etiquette. Even a brief edit summary is better than none. However, not leaving edit summaries is not considered vandalism.

Editing tests by experimenting users

Users sometimes edit pages as an experiment. Such edits, while prohibited, are treated differently from vandalism. These users should be warned using the uw-test series of user warning templates, or by a talk page message including, if appropriate, a welcome and referral to the Wikipedia sandbox, where they can continue to make test edits without being unintentionally disruptive. Registered users can also create their own sandboxes as a user subpage. If a user has made a test edit and then reverted it, consider placing the message {{uw-selfrevert}}, on their talk page.

Harassment or personal attacks

Personal attacks and harassment are not allowed. While some harassment is also vandalism, such as user page vandalism, or inserting a personal attack into an article, harassment in itself is not vandalism and should be handled differently.

Incorrect wiki markup and style

Inexperienced users are often unfamiliar with Wikipedia's formatting and grammatical standards, such as how to create internal and/or external links or which words should be bolded or italicized, etc. Rather than label such users as vandals, just explain to them what the standard style would be for the issue at hand, perhaps pointing them towards the documentation at How to edit a page, and the like.

Lack of understanding of the purpose of Wikipedia

Some users are not familiar with Wikipedia's purpose or policies and may start editing it as if it were a different medium—such as a forum or blog—in a way that it appears as unproductive editing or borderline vandalism to experienced users. Although such edits can usually be reverted, it should not be treated as vandalism.

Misinformation, accidental

A user who, in good faith, adds content to an article that is factually inaccurate but in the belief that it is accurate is trying to contribute to and improve Wikipedia, not vandalize it. If you believe inaccurate information has been added to an article in good faith, remove it once you are certain it is inaccurate, or discuss its factuality with the user who has added it.

NPOV contraventions

The neutral point of view policy is difficult for many of us to understand. Even Wikipedia veterans occasionally introduce material which is not ideal from an NPOV perspective. Indeed, we are all affected by our beliefs to a greater extent than we estimate. Though the material added may be inappropriate, it is not vandalism in itself.

Nonsense, accidental

While intentionally adding nonsense to a page is a form of vandalism, sometimes honest editors may not have expressed themselves correctly (e.g., there may be an error in the syntax, particularly for Wikipedians who use English as a second language). Also, connection errors or edit conflicts can unintentionally produce the appearance of nonsense or malicious edits. In either case, assume good faith.

Policy and guideline pages, good-faith changes to

Editors are encouraged to be bold. However, making edits to Wikipedia policies and guidelines pages, such as this one, does require some knowledge of the consensus on the issues. If people misjudge consensus, it would not be considered vandalism; rather, it would be an opportunity to discuss the matter with them, and help them understand the consensus.

Reversion or removal of unencyclopedic material, or of edits covered under the biographies of living persons policy.

Some material—sometimes even factually correct material—does not belong on Wikipedia, and removing it is not vandalism. Check to make sure that the removal was in line with Wikipedia standards, before restoring it or reporting its removal as vandalism.


Tracing IP addresses

The owners of IP addresses can be found using:

If an address is not in one registry, it will probably be in another.