Wikipedia:Vandalism types

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On Wikipedia, vandalism in simple terms is defined as deliberate malicious editing. There are many different ways in which Wikipedia is vandalized. These include additions, removals, and modifications that cause intentional harm to the content of the encyclopedia.

This page lists many forms of vandalism that occur, sometimes frequently, sometimes seldom. It is not a complete list. Occasionally, new types of behavior that can be considered vandalism will occur.

The "what is" column lists those behaviors that surely are vandalism. The "what is not" column lists related behaviors that may be viewed as vandalism by some, but that are not considered to be vandalism. In some cases, those behaviors are normal and acceptable; in other cases, they are not, and they violate one or more other Wikipedia policies.

Some acts of vandalism may fit into multiple categories. For example, one who adds a spamlink to a template is guilty of both spam and template vandalism.

When reverting or otherwise fighting vandalism, it is recommended but not required that the type of vandalism be cited. This will help make the term vandalism less ambiguous, track problems the article and all of Wikipedia are facing, and help reduce future vandalism. It can be useful in determining what actions should be taken, such as blocking, page protection, or system changes. A shortcut is provided for each category that is useful for labeling.

Type Shortcut What is What is not
Addition of text
WP:V/ADD Intentional addition of text that does not belong
Good-faith addition of information, even if it is reverted by others, or if one otherwise does not know it is out of place
Removal of text
  • Removing all or significant parts of a page's content without any legitimate reason
  • Replacing all or parts of pages with text that does not belong
  • Legitimate removal of content. There are many legitimate reasons for removal, including information that is inaccurate, unreferenced, is being transferred to another page, or is vandalism itself. At the very minimum, all removals should be explained in the edit summary.
  • Archiving lengthy discussions on talk pages
Page creation
  • Adding text to any page that promotes an interest that benefits the user, except in user space in a manner allowable under Wikipedia's guidelines
  • Adding external links to site(s) that promote an interest from which the user benefits
  • Adding external links to site(s) that have ads from which the user benefits, even if the site has information relevant to the article
  • Creating an article on a notable corporation
  • Providing an external link to the official site of a company or organization that has an article
  • Providing a picture of yourself in your userspace or in a legitimate article about yourself written by others. This is encouraged under Wikipedia guidelines.
  • Creating articles about oneself, family members, or acquaintances
  • Creating articles on companies or organizations with which one is directly involved
  • Writing about oneself or a company or organization with which one has ties in existing articles
  • Modifying or removing inaccurate or libelous information about oneself, family members, or acquaintances, or companies or organizations with which one has ties
Silly vandalism
  • Adding intentional nonsense
  • Intentionally inserting random characters
  • Adding humor to article space, other than writing sourced information in articles about the humor. There are other places on Wikipedia where humor may be used.
  • Adding good-faith information that is poorly written
  • Making typographical errors
  • Accidentally, mistakenly, or otherwise unintentionally saving sloppy or incomplete Wiki text
  • Vandalism that is harder to spot, or that otherwise circumvents detection
    • Minor bad-faith alteration of information that gets overlooked
    • Making a bad edit followed by a good one. Since only the most recent edit to an article will show up on some watchlists, the bad edit may then go unnoticed.
      • Making an edit following vandalism that says "remove vandalism" in the edit summary, so others will believe the vandalism has been reverted
    • Use of multiple accounts to hide vandalism
      • Making a good edit with one account following vandalism with another
  • Making good-faith edits that happen to go unnoticed, even if they fit a minority viewpoint
  • Making a second good-faith edit to an article, even if an earlier controversial one becomes less noticeable.
Creating hoaxes
  • Adding plausible misinformation to articles
  • Use of fictitious references
    • Claiming a source displayed contains information that it does not
    • Creating external web pages containing fictitious information, then using them as references
  • Adding information that one falsely believes is true
  • Adding incorrect information based on one's misinterpretation of a source
  • Use of dead links to verify the information they once contained
Hidden vandalism
  • Vandalism that cannot be seen in the final rendering of the article but is visible during editing
Template vandalism
  • Modifying 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.
Image vandalism
  • Uploading shock images that do not belong at all on Wikipedia
  • Inappropriately placing explicit images legitimately used on Wikipedia on pages where they do not belong
  • Uploading an explicit image for legitimate use in articles where they belong
Page-move vandalism
WP:V/MOVE Renaming 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 and with at least 10 edits (i.e. autoconfirmed users) to move pages.
Redirect vandalism
  • Creating offensive, inappropriate, or otherwise irrelevant redirects to existing articles
  • Changing a legitimate page to redirect to another irrelevant page. This is often done for the purpose of offending.
  • Modifying internal or external links within a page so that they appear the same in the finished version but link to a page/site that they are not intended to (e.g. spam, self-promotion, an explicit image, a shock site, or some other irrelevant page)
  • Adding external links to non-notable or irrelevant sites
  • Adding spam links
  • Adding external links that may belong on another Wikipedia page, but have no relevance to the subject matter of the page to which they are added
Mass vandalism
  • Operating a bot in good faith without consensus
Userspace vandalism
WP:V/SPACE Adding insults, profanity, etc. to user pages or user talk pages Making helpful edits to another's user space
  • Making blatant attacks against other users
    • Threatening other users with action that is unlikely or cannot possibly be taken against them
    • Using hateful or disparaging remarks against other users
    • Making threats within the Wikipedia system to harm or take action against another editor outside the auspices of Wikipedia
    • Making threats against the entire Wikipedia community
  • Making blatant attacks against subjects in articles
  • Warning other users about violations of Wikipedia policy stated directly on policy pages when the user has committed or come close to committing that violation
  • Writing sourced information about a subject in an article at a neutral point of view
Avoidant vandalism
  • Removal of tags such as {{afd}} and {{copyvio}} in order to conceal deletion candidates or avert deletion of such content. (This does NOT avert deletion. This actually increases the chance that the article will be deleted.)
  • Removal of a {{speedy deletion}} tag from an article one created him/herself. Only the {{hangon}} tag can be placed there by the creator to avert deletion.
  • Removal of recent warnings from one's own user talk page of vandalism or other serious violations
  • Mistakenly removing a deletion tag. This is often done by new users who are unfamiliar with the deletion process.
  • Removal of a {{prod}} tag from a page. This can be done by anyone, thereby averting the proposed deletion.
  • Removal of warnings more than 30 days old from one's user talk page, provided that the user has had no further violations in that period of time
Modifying users' comments
  • Editing other users' comments to substantially change their meaning
  • Removal of other users' comments from a discussion in orer to distort consensus in the discussion
  • Turning someone's vote around
  • Removal of recent warnings from your talk page to appear clean
  • Removal of vandalism from talk pages
  • Removal of a personal attack
  • Signifying that a comment is unsigned
  • Making minor corrections to others' comments without changing their meaning, such as fixing typos, spelling, or grammar, or links
  • Moving posts to their proper place
Repeated uploading of copyrighted material
WP:V/COPY Knowingly uploading or using material on Wikipedia in ways which violate Wikipedia's copyright policies after having been warned
  • Using copyrighted works without knowing the policy
  • Use of copyrighted works without knowing the copyright status
Malicious account creation WP:V/ACCT 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 puppet.
Edit summary vandalism WP:V/SUM 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. Only a small number of editors with special powers above administrators have the ability to modify edit summaries). Often combined with malicious account creation.
Making personal attacks WP:V/ATTACK
  • Creating pages that do nothing but disparage the subject
  • Additing information to existing pages that does nothing but disparage the subject
  • Bullying, harassing, making threats, or attacking other users
  • Writing sourced negative information about a subject in an article
  • Neutrality violations in articles