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Our vandalism policy defines what this wiki considers to be vandalism and offers a suggestion of the administrative response to it. Since blocking an offending editor from editing is the usual punishment for vandalism, users are also strongly encouraged to read our blocking policy.

Vandalism on regular pages

Vandalism is an obvious and intentional act to deprive an article in the main article space of the quality of its content. Vandalism can include, though not be limited to, the following types of acts:

  1. Adding offensive language, either to the text or title of an article. This one's a no-brainer. Randomly swear on a page, and you can expect an immediate ban, no questions asked, no warnings given.[1]
  2. Introducing spam onto a page. Again, no-brainer. If you put an advertisement or a load of nonsensical text on a page, expect for your editing powers to be swiftly curtailed.
  3. Removing all content from pages. If you delete all content from a page and then press "publish", you've "blanked" the page — and you'll probably be blocked from editing, in most cases. It can be done accidentally, though, so if you notice you've blanked a page unintentionally, please quickly "undo" your actions or ask for an admin to help you. If administrators can't see evidence that you've tried to reverse the blanking, then they will have no choice but to assume it was intentional. People who blank pages may well be blocked without warning, especially if it appears that they are blanking multiple pages in a short amount of time.
  4. Deliberately editing text within an article so as to include obvious falsehoods. We don't mean here honest mistakes born of faulty research or mis-remembered facts, like "The Fifth Doctor was played by Peter Davidson." We mean obvious and flagrant falsehoods that can't possibly be defended, like "The Fifth Doctor was played by Ken Dodd, whose well-noticed Hamlet wowed audiences in 1923."
  5. Interjecting of authorial opinion into an article. This is an encyclopaedia. It's completely inappropriate for our main articles to bear your opinion. Statements like, "The Fifth Doctor was played by Peter Davison — who was totally dull and far too human" are vandalistic, as they destroy the objectivity we're seeking to create here. In general, we try to adhere to the Wikipedia standard of a neutral point of view.
  6. Drastically altering the layout of a page.[2] This type of vandalism is far more subjective than the ones above, however. There are cases where radical changes of layout are honest attempts to improve the way the wiki, as a whole, looks. Changing the size of a picture in an infobox, for example, is not in itself an act of vandalism. Removing an infobox is not in itself an act of vandalism. However, if you repeatedly change the size of an infobox pic, after an admin has advised you of the size standards required to give the site a consistent look, your actions could well be seen as vandalism. Likewise, removing an infobox from a story page is almost always an unambiguous act of vandalism, while the removal of an infobox from a page with one line of text on it might not be considered vandalism. This sort of "graphic design vandalism" is much harder to define, but it comes down to deliberately changing a page's layout against the site's design ethos. In general, it's always better to ask an administrator before changing any of the graphical elements on a page.

What you can do about it

If you encounter what you think is an act of vandalism, please add {{vandalism}} to the offending editor's talk page. If the offending editor keeps editing in a similarly destructive manner, please inform an admin.

You can help the site recover from vandalism by undoing the editor's action. Just look at the history of the damaged page — found under the edit drop-down at the top of the page — and click on "undo".

Administrative response

If a user makes an edit that is viewed as a deliberate form of vandalism, one of the following actions will be enacted by an admin.

  • If they are an unregistered user, their IP will be blocked for upwards of 3 months.
  • If the user is registered, they will be blocked for upwards of 6 months.

If a user creates a page of obvious vandalism, one of the following actions will occur:

  • If the user is an unregistered user, their IP will be blocked for upwards of 2 weeks.
  • If the user is registered, they will be blocked for upwards of 1 month.

To reiterate, however, these are the punishments for intentional vandalism. Administrators do have the responsibility to ensure that the offending editor meant to cause harm to the site. For this reason, it is usually best — though not necessary — that an administrator give an editor fair warning before enacting a ban.[3]

Vandalism on user and discussion pages

In the forum, user and talk page namespaces, vandalism can be anything described above for normal articles. More typically, it is the obvious and intentional act of changing what either you or another user has written.

User pages

User pages (also called profile pages) may not be substantively altered except by the user associated with that page. Only TimeTraveler can substantively alter User:TimeTraveler. Vandalism would usually be said to occur if, for example, 10blue10 were to edit User:TimeTraveler.

On occasion, however, admin and bots may alter a user page to enact minor changes during the editing of the larger wiki. These include changing the names of links present on the user page (so that those links will still operate properly) and removing categories that do not belong on user pages. These alterations should not substantially alter a user's user page.

If unsure, state your intentions on the user's talk page and allow them to make the decisions.

Discussion pages

In namespaces which include the words "forum" or "talk"[4], vandalism is when users change — or simply remove — comments left by other users. It is highly disruptive to the flow of a discussion if comments from other users are simply removed.

Remember, the point of most discussions is to change something on the wiki — either a policy, or the way that a particular page is edited. If you remove a part of the discussion, it will be harder for people a year from now to follow the flow of the conversation.

Please do not take it upon yourself to remove an objectionable comment from a discussion page. If you believe something is incorrect, inflammatory or otherwise offensive, leave a message on a admin's talk page making them aware of the problem. If you encounter absolutely foul language on a talk page, it is better to make it non-printing, but preserve it as hidden text[5], than to simply delete it. That way, the administrative staff can easily examine the inappropriate message and more swiftly deal with the offending editor.

Your own talk page

Please remember that your talk page (for example, User talk:TimeTraveler) is not "yours". It is not in any way a private messaging space. It is a public discussion that happens to be directed at you. It's vital that it be kept unaltered so that people can follow conversations you might be having. You may certainly archive your talk page according to our archiving policy, but you don't have the right to just blank it or edit other people's comments on it.

Just to underline the point, it is absolutely an act of vandalism to edit or delete someone else's comments on "your" talk page, as this would be an easy way to put that person's comments into an entirely different context than the one they originally intended. Remove a couple of lines here and there from someone else's text, and you could easily turn someone from "well-reasoned" into "attack dog". Also, if you remove offensive comments, you make it harder for an admin to help you deal with the offending editor.

It is best, therefore, to think of yourself as the steward of "your" talk page, rather than the owner of it.

Your own comments

Likewise, you do not have the right to remove comments you placed on someone else's user talk page. Think of it like e-mail or snail mail. Once you hit "send" or drop the letter into the box, you can't get it back. The best you can do is publish a follow-up note, retracting statements made in the original comment.[6]

Administrative response

Because the range of vandalism of this type is so great, it's difficult to set out a schedule of punishments. A person who blanks their own comments because they realise they've said something silly hardly deserves the same kind of treatment as a person who intentionally overwrites someone else's user page with pornography. For this reason, it's best to say that the administrator handling the case has broad authority to set whatever punishment they deem appropriate.

Nevertheless, user and discussion page vandalism is generally to be considered as "less significant" than vandalism of pages in the main article space. Minimum punishments, for instance, can be as low as just two hours — a breather in which to prevent tempers from running high on a talk page. On the other hand, it is possible to get a permanent ban for this kind of vandalism, as would surely be given to the hypothetical person, above, who put pornography on a user page.

Unintentional vandalism

Unintentional vandalism is just what it sounds like: an edit that's vandalism (as defined above), but which can't be said to be deliberate. People may well blank an article or a user talk page without understanding that it's against the rules of this wiki to do so.

Administrators are specifically enjoined to try to consider most acts of vandalism as unintentional, and to therefore give warnings, instead of actual bans, upon the first offence.[3]

If any users find edits they view as unintentional vandalism they may add {{vandalism}} to the user's talk page altering them to edits viewed as vandalism. If they continue to apparently vandalise, an Admin should be informed.

In order to assist the offending user, {{welcome}} (for registered users) or {{welcome IP}} (for non-registered users) should be present on their talk page.

If a user's actions continue following warnings, their actions will no longer be considered "unintentional". Thus, such users will be dealt with according to the provisions outlined elsewhere in this policy.

Footnotes

  1. Note that there are times when swear words are allowed on in an article, as when an article is quoting from a published work, or investigating the use of expletives in an academic context. Indeed, there are many instances of expletive use within the DWU, and this wiki does not claim to be "safe for work". We will not censor that which has actually occurred within official DWU narratives.
  2. Note that administrators are generally exempt from accusations of "layout vandalism", as they are the chief architects and implementers of the site's layout.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Admin can never be required to give warnings, as some acts of vandalism are insidious, wide-ranging and fast-moving. Such attacks must be countered decisively.
  4. For the purposes of precision, this means all odd-numbered namespaces, as well as namespaces 110 and 112.
  5. This is done by enclosing it in special characters, like this: <!--Now my text will still be on the page, but it will be hidden-->
  6. You may, however, edit your comments for grammatical and spelling errors, and to ensure that any links work appropriately.
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