Hey there, and welcome to a guide about a very destructive and harmful form of editing - vandalism. Now, if you are an administrator on any community, you have most likely came across vandalism on your wiki. You and some users have been working on an article for hours, and a vandal comes across and removes the all of the content! But, that’s not the only example. Vandalism can be anything from removing content, adding or replacing irrelevant and inappropriate content, or renaming the page to something irrelevant or inappropriate. It doesn’t matter which way, though, to come across this fact - vandalism is always annoying. However, there are several ways to control and prevent vandalism. That’s why I’m making this guide - to help assist users with problems with vandals, and what to do about it.
The first step to preventing vandalism is to try to go through the recent edits made on articles. To find this, go to Special:RecentChanges on your community. Then, in the dropdown box, click (Main). This will show all of the recently edited articles. If you come across something that looks like vandalism and you are a rollback, content moderator, or administrator, you can easily click the [rollback] button, and it will revert the edit. If you are an administrator, it is suggested to NOT go ahead and block the user. Instead, kindly leave a message on the user’s message wall, telling them about their recent edit and why it was rollbacked. The reason why it’s better to do this first is that you can never tell whether the user intended to make this edit or not. It’s best to assume good faith, as the user could be new and doesn’t know the community’s guideline that well. A user who seems like a vandal might not actually be one. However, if the user clearly intends to vandalise the article, give the user a warning politely and ask them not to do it again. If the user ignores it and continues, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and block the user.
If you are a content moderator, you have the rollback tool. You also have a few extra tools - protecting articles, deleting them, edit protected articles, etc. When dealing with vandalism, the protection tool is very useful. Fully protected articles can only be edited by administrators or content moderators, so only trusted users in these groups can edit them, and to prevent vandalism. Remember that if an article only has only fallen victim to vandalism once, it might not be a good idea to go ahead and protect the article. However, after counterproductive vandalism, it’s good to temporarily protect the article for few days. This will prevent vandalism for the time, and it gives the time to deal with the users. There is also a renaming protection that can be added. This will prevent users from renaming the article. A good amount of vandalism is done through the rename tool, so this can be an action taken if needed - similar to the edit protection. There is also the deletion tool - if there is an article that serves no purpose, is spam, or is just a severe target of vandalism that falls into one of the other categories, it’s probably best to delete the article.
Is the vandal destructing articles in ways that break your community’s policy in more ways than just vandalism? Is the user vandalising while administrators are not online? Then, there is a process called AbuseFilter. This is very powerful, and this isn’t something that’s basic to set up. AbuseFilter is a tool that can be requested by administrators of a community through Special:Contact/general. Be sure to inform FANDOM about what you plan to do with it, what community you want it enabled on, and if you have experience with the tool. These are important to have in there, or else the request may not be accepted.
After FANDOM enables it, administrators can access it through Special:AbuseFilter. To set this tool up, coding is required to block unacceptable content in articles. If a user is seen in violation of what was put, then the user will be blocked indefinitely by the abuse filter.
Note that this tool is recommended to be used as a last resort. It is not recommended to be used first, and if you or none of the administrators on your community know the complex coding required for it to function, it’s best not to go to this level.
So, you’re towards the end of this blog, and you know the basics of having to deal with vandalism. Let’s break it down once more:
- If you spot a harmful or incorrect edit on an article, undo or rollback it. This will revert the page to what it was before.
- If you are not an administrator, tell one about the edits said user is making.
- If you are an administrator, politely and calmly message the user and tell them what was incorrect about their edits.
- If the user continues and ignores the warning, block the user for whichever amount of time you feel is necessary.
And, a little more in depth:
- If there are multiple consecutive vandalism edits on an article and you’re a content moderator or administrator, you can protect the article so only autoconfirmed (users that have been on a community for 4 days or have 10 edits) or so only content moderators and administrators can edit it.
- If your community is extremely prone to vandalism and your local sysops can not deal with it all at once, and you are very skilled in coding, discuss with your community about adding AbuseFilter to your community. If most agree, request adding it to your community to FANDOM staff using Special:AbuseFilter.
I hope this helps!