|This page documents a Wikidata guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should follow, though it should be treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Changes made to it should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss your idea on the project chat.|
Vandalism is a deliberate attempt to damage or compromise the integrity of Wikidata. Fortunately, vandalism is fairly easy to detect and revert. Vandalism is strictly forbidden and may result in a block, if repeated.
What is vandalism?
There are several types of vandalism:
- The removal of most or all of a legitimate piece of information. Care should be taken when responding to blanking because it can also be done in good-faith if used to remove illegitimate pieces of information. Blanking is a more serious problem in non-item namespaces, as it is difficult to blank items.
- The insertion onto a page of statements such as "Hi", nonsense statements, obscenities, insults, or similar.
- Knowingly inserting incorrect data into items or falsifying existing data with intent to disrupt.
- Pagemove vandalism
- The renaming of a page to a nonsensical or offensive name. Only autoconfirmed users can do this. This is less of a concern on Wikidata than on other projects, because it is not possible to move pages in the article namespace (i.e. items).
- Sneaky vandalism
- Any vandalism that is not immediately obvious, such as subtly changing links or statements.
- Template vandalism
- Vandalism of a template in any of the ways described above. Templates may appear on thousands of pages, so this vandalism is severe. However, many templates are protected for this reason.
- And more...
- There are myriad other ways that vandals can compromise the project.
What isn't vandalism?
Generally speaking, any good-faith attempt to improve Wikidata is not vandalism. Test edits, for example, demonstrate a editor attempting to learn how to contribute to the project, and should be dealt with by directing the user to a more appropriate place to perform the tests, such as the sandbox item. While more experienced editors are going about attempting to contribute positively to the project, they might insert erroneous data under the mistaken belief that it is correct, or perhaps they simply performed a transcription error along the way. These users should either be engaged in conversation to try to resolve the issue, or you can simply fix the data, when possible. This isn't vandalism, but human error. Some people simply may lack the competence to contribute to a project such as this; this is a trickier situation to resolve, but it's not vandalism.
It usually all comes down to intent—was the intent to harm or help the project? Editors and administrators should use common sense to determine what is and isn't vandalism.
Dealing with vandalism
This is the basic process by which vandalism is dealt with:
- The first step to dealing with vandalism is to find it first. Patrolling recent changes, the new page log, and monitoring your watchlist for suspicious edits are three basic steps any editor can take to identify vandalism.
- Once vandalism has been found, editors can use the "undo" or "restore" buttons to change the page to the last non-vandalized version. The change should then be marked as Patrolled (
[Mark this page as patrolled]).
- After the vandalism has been removed, warnings can be left on the vandal's talk page to communicate to them that their behavior is not desirable and to appeal to them to contribute in a more positive manner.
- If the vandal continues to compromise the project, an administrator can block the vandal. Non-administrators can report persistent vandalism to WD:AN. Blocking is done to protect the project from further disruption. Known long-term vandals and vandals causing disruption at high editing rates can be blocked without warning.
- If a page is targeted by several persistent vandals, it may be semi-protected (which prevents editing by all editors who are not autoconfirmed) or full-protected (which prevents editing by all editors who are not admins). Page protection is done by an administrator in accordance with the page protection policy.
What not to do
Generally, an item should not be subject to a deletion request simply because it is being vandalized. Vandalism can easily be removed, restoring the item to its previous, undamaged state. (Of course, if the item was created from scratch by a vandal, deletion is usually the appropriate remedy. Check the item's history.)
Don't feed trolls. Most vandals engage in vandalism because they think it's fun. They'll have even more fun if angry Wikidata contributors storm their talk page lecturing them about the error of their ways. Keep a cool head, and if a vandal doesn't seem interested in contributing constructively, notify an administrator so they can be blocked.