On Wikipedia , vandalism is the act of editing the project in a malicious manner that is intentionally disruptive . Vandalism includes the addition, removal, or other modification of the text or other material that is either humorous, nonsensical, hoax , or that is an offensive, humiliating, or otherwise degrading nature.

Throughout its history, Wikipedia has struggled to maintain a balance between allowing the freedom of open editing and protecting the truth and accuracy of its information when false information can be potentially damaging to its subjects. [1] Vandalism is easy to commit on Wikipedia because anyone can edit the site, [2] [3] with the exception of articles that are currently semi-protected , which means that new and unregistered users can not edit them.

Vandalism can be committed by either guest editors or those with registered accounts; Wikipedia editors, or administrators, respectively. Wikipedia editors, or administrators, respectively. [3] Frequent targets of vandalism include articles on hot and controversial topics, famous celebrities, and current events. [4] [5] In some cases, people have been falsely reported as having died. Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd (both of whom are now deceased), and American rapper Kanye West (who is alive). [6]

The challenge of vandalism in Wikipedia was once featured by the Former Encyclopædia Britannica editor-in-chief Robert McHenry : [7] [8] “The user who visits Wikipedia … is rather in the position of a visitor to a public restroom. It may be obviously dirty so that he knows to exercise great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be lulled into a false sense of security.

Fighting vandalism

Padlocks of different colors are placed on top right of pages to indicate levels of protection. From left to right: semi-protection , move protection , and full protection .

There are several steps taken by Wikipedia to prevent or reduce the amount of vandalism. These include:

  • Using Wikipedia’s history functionality, which retains all prior versions of an article, to restore the article to the last version before the vandalism occurred; This is called reverting vandalism. [4] The majority of vandalism on Wikipedia is reverted quickly. [9] There are various ways in which the vandalism gets detected so it can be reverted:
    • Bots : In many cases, the vandalism is automatically detected and reverted by a bot . The vandal is always warned with no human intervention.
    • Recent changes patrol : Wikipedia has a special page that lists all the most recent changes. Some editors will monitor these changes for possible vandalism. [10]
    • Watchlists : Any registered user who has created or edited a. This functionality also allows users to monitor a page for vandalism. [10]
    • Incidental discovery : Any reader who comes across vandalism by chance can revert it. In 2008 it was reported that the rarity of such incidental discovery indicated the efficacy of the other methods of vandalism removal. [10]
  • Locking articles so only established users, or in some cases, only administrators can edit them. [4] Semi-protected articles are those that can only be edited by those with an account that is considered to be autoconfirmed – an account that is at least 4 days old with at least 10 edits, for most accounts. Fully protected articles are those that can only be edited by administrators. This report is based on the findings of the authors and the authors of this report.
  • Blocking and banning those who have repeatedly committed vandalism from editing for a period of time or in some cases, indefinitely. [4] Vandals are not blocked as an act of punishment – the purpose of the block is simply to prevent further damage. [11]
  • The “abuse filter” extension, which uses regular expressions to detect common vandalism terms. [12]

Editors are generally warned prior to being blocked. Wikipedia employs a 4-stage warning process up to a block. This includes: [13]

  1. The first warning assumes good faith and takes a relaxed approach to the user. (In some cases, this level can be skipped if the editor assumes the user is acting in bad faith [14] ).
  2. The second warning does not assume any faith and is an actual warning (in some cases, this level may also be skipped).
  3. The third warning assumes bad faith and is the first to warn the user that continued vandalism may result in a block .
  4. The fourth warning is a final warning, stating that any future act of vandalism will result in a block.
  5. After this, other users may place additional warnings, but only administrators can actually carry out the block.

In 2005, Wikipedia began to require those who did not know what to do with vandalism. Kennedy’s assassination. Kennedy’s assassination. Kennedy’s assassination. [2]

Wikipedia has a number of articles in the literature, including articles, articles, and articles. This is an endeavor to prevent inaccurate and potentially damaging information about living people from appearing on the site. [15] [16]

ClueBot NG

The most famous “bot” that fights vandalism is ClueBot NG. The bot was created by Wikipedia users [18] [19] Christopher Breneman and Cobi Carter in 2010, (succeding the original Cluebot, NG stands for Next Generation) [17] and uses machine learning and Bayesian statistics to determine if an edit is vandalism . While the bot HAS-been effective in helping keep clean Wikipedia, some claim the bot ” cocks ” new users by not being white to reliably apply a human brain’s knowledge to the edit, and leaving impersonal templates . Some users have called to bot “rubbish”, and tried to have it shut down. [20] [21] [22]

Notable acts of vandalism

Seigenthaler incident

In May 2005, a user edited the biographical article about John Seigenthaler, Sr. so that it contains several false and defamatory statements. [23] The inaccurate claims went unnoticed between May and September 2005, when they were discovered by Victor S. Johnson, Jr. , a friend of Seigenthaler. Wikipedia content is often mirrored at sites such as Answers.com , which means that incorrect information can be replicated alongside correct information through a number of websites. Such information can be misleading because of its presence at such sites: [24]

Then [Seigenthaler’s] his discovered that his father’s hoax biography also appeared on two other sites, Reference.com and Answers.com, which had direct feeds from Wikipedia. It was out there for four months before Seigenthaler realized and got the Wikipedia entry with a more reliable account. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown.

Stephen Colbert

Comedian Stephen Colbert made repeated references to Wikipedia His TV show on The Colbert Report , frequently Suggesting That His on-air viewers vandalize selected pages. These instances include the following:

  • We had a 2006 episode of his show, Colbert’s viewers vandalize the article ” Elephant “. This resulted in an account named “Stephencolbert” being blocked from editing, as well as many elephant-related articles being protected. [25]
  • On August 7, 2012, Colbert suggested that his viewers go to pages for possible 2012 US Republican vice presidential candidates, such as the Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman articles, and edit them many times. Reviews This was in response to a Fox News hypothesis That mass editing of the Sarah Palin page the day before She Was annoncé as John McCain ‘s running mate Could help predict Who Would Be Chosen as Mitt Romney ‘s running mate in the 2012 election . After Colbert’s request and his viewers’ subsequent actions, all these articles were put under semi-protection by Wikipedia administrators, with editing restricted to established users. [26]

When Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales appeared as a guest on May 24, 2007 episode of The Colbert Report , they discussed Colbert-related vandalism. Said Wales later on the show That he May-have to lock down the Entire Spanish-language Wikipedia For a Few days after Colbert commented That Perhaps it shoulds learn English. [27]

Hillsborough disaster vandalism

In April 2014, the Liverpool Echo reported that computers on an intranet used by the United Kingdom government had been used to post offensive remarks about the Hillsborough disaster on Wikipedia pages relating to the subject. The government announced that it would launch an inquiry into the reports.[28] Following the allegations, The Daily Telegraph subsequently reported that government computers appeared to have been used to make rogue edits to a number of other articles, often adding insulting remarks to biographical articles, and in one case reporting the false death of an individual.[29]

Other notable acts of vandalism

A local Metro newspaper reporting of users blocked for vandalism on the Dutch Wikipedia.
  • In 2006, Rolling Stone printed a story about Halle Berry based on false information from Wikipedia, which had arisen from an act of Wikipedia vandalism.[30]
  • In August 2007, local media from the Netherlands reported that several IP addresses from Nederlandse Publieke Omroep had been blocked from Wikipedia for adding “false and defamatory” information to pages.[31] A similar incident occurred with the Minister of the Interior in France in January 2016.[32]
  • Professional golfer Fuzzy Zoeller sued a Miami company whose IP-based edits to the Wikipedia site included negative information about him.[33]
  • In May 2012, media critic Anita Sarkeesian created a Kickstarter project, intending to raise money to make a series of videos exploring sexism in digital gaming culture.[34]The idea evoked a hostile response,[35] which included repeated vandalism of Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia article with pornographic imagery, defamatory statements, and threats of sexual violence.[36] More than 12 anonymous editors contributed to the ongoing vandalism campaign before editing privileges were revoked for the page.[35]
  • In November 2012, the Leveson report—published in the UK by Lord Justice Leveson—incorrectly listed a “Brett Straub” as one of the founders of The Independentnewspaper. The name originated from one of the several erroneous edits by one of Straub’s friends as a prank to Wikipedia by falsely including his name in several articles across the site. The name’s inclusion in the report suggested that that part of the report relating to that newspaper had been cut and pasted from Wikipedia without a proper check of the sources.[37][38] The Straub issue was also humorously referenced in broadcasts of BBC entertainment current affairs TV program Have I Got News for You(and extended edition Have I Got a Bit More News for You),[39][40] with The Economist also making passing comment on the issue: “The Leveson report…Parts of it are a scissors-and-paste job culled from Wikipedia”.[41]
  • In April 2015, The Washington Post reported on an experiment by “Gregory Kohs, a former editor, and prominent Wikipedia critic”: “Kohs wrapped up an experiment in which he inserted outlandish errors into 31 articles and tracked whether editors ever found them. After more than two months, half of his hoaxes still had not been found—and those included errors on high-profile pages, like “Mediterranean climate” and “inflammation.” (By his estimate, more than 100,000 people have now seen the claim that volcanic rock produced by the human body causes inflammation pain.)”[42]
The article for Donald Trump was blanked twice on July 22, 2015.
  • In July 2015, Donald Trump’s entire Wikipedia page was replaced with one sentence: “Let’s be fair, nobody cares about him.”[43][44][45]
  • In August 2016, a sentence was added to Chad le Clos’s Wikipedia page says that he “Died at the hands of Michael Phelps, being literally blow out of the water by the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln” after Phelps won the gold medal for 200-meter butterfly at the 2016 Summer Olympics.[46] This instance of Wikipedia vandalism attracted moderate media attention.[47]
  • In October 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s Wikipedia pages were vandalized and pornographic images added to their articles.[48]
  • In October 2016 New York Assembly candidate Jim Tedisco’s Wikipedia page was modified to say that he had “never been part of the majority”, and “is considered by many to be a total failure”. Tedisco expressed dismay at the changes to his page.[49]
  • The week of 29 January 2017 saw various acts of vandalism committed on Wikipedia. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s Wikipedia page was vandalized and his picture replaced with that of Baghdad Bob, Dana J. Botne’s page description was edited to read that he was “the newest sock puppet for the Trump Administration”, and Paul Ryan’s picture was added to a list of invertebrates, with the edit summary stating that he was added due to his lack of a spine. These cases of vandalism attracted media attention.[50][51][52]


  1. Jump up^ “Wikipedia testing new method to curb false info” . CSMonitor.com . Retrieved 2012-06-07 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b “Wikipedia tightens editorial rules after complaint – 06 December 2005” . New Scientist . Retrieved 2012-06-07 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:b “Wikipedia tightens online rules” . BBC News . 6 December 2005.
  4. ^ Jump up to:d Kleeman, Jenny (2 April 2007). “Wikipedia fights vandalism” . New Zealand Herald .
  5. Jump up^ Martin, Lorna (18 June 2006). “Wikipedia fights off cyber vandals” . The Guardian . London.
  6. Jump up^ “Vandals prompt Wikipedia to ponder editing changes” . ABC News . 28 January 2009 . Retrieved 26 November 2011 .
  7. Jump up^ “Caslon Analytics: wiki and wikipedia” . Caslon Analytics. Archived from the original on 23 April 2013 . Retrieved 13 July2010 .
  8. Jump up^ Robert McHenry (15 November 2004). “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia” . TCS Daily . Retrieved 10 September 2009 .
  9. Jump up^ Hicks, Jesse. “This machine kills trolls” . The Verge . Retrieved 18 February 2014 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:c Broughton, John (2008). Wikipedia: the missing manual . p. 122. ISBN  0-596-51516-2 .
  11. Jump up^ Broughton, John (2008). Wikipedia: the missing manual . p. 134. ISBN  0-596-51516-2 .
  12. Jump up^ [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Edit_filter]
  13. Jump up^ Broughton, John (2008). Wikipedia: the missing manual . pp. 130-31. ISBN  0-596-51516-2 .
  14. Jump up^[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_User_warnings/Usage_and_layout#Levels]
  15. Jump up^ “Wikipedia Tests Approval System to Reduce Page Vandalism” . Maximum PC. 19 July 2008 . Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  16. Jump up^ “Wikipedia plans to enforce new editing policy to thwart vandals – eBrandz Search Marketing & Technology News” . News.ebrandz.com. 27 August 2009 . Retrieved 2012-06-07 .
  17. Jump up^ “This machine kills trolls” . The Verge . 2014-02-18 . Retrieved 2017-04-11 .
  18. Jump up^ Nasaw, Daniel (2012-07-25). “Meet the ‘bots’ that Wikipedia edit” . BBC News .
  19. Jump up^ <Raja, Sumit. “Little about the bot that Wikipedia runs, ClueBot NG” . Digitfreak.com . Retrieved 2017-04-11 .
  20. Jump up^ “Security Check Required” . Www.facebook.com . Retrieved 2017-04-11 .
  21. Jump up^ “How does Wikipedia ‘s content review bot ClueBot NG review Wikipedia pages and validate their facts? – Quora” . Www.quora.com . Retrieved 2017-04-11 .
  22. Jump up^ “The Bots Who Edit Wikipedia (And The Humans Who Made Them)” . MakeUseOf . Retrieved 2017-04-11 .
  23. Jump up^ John Seigenthaler (2005-11-29). “A false Wikipedia” biography “” . USA Today .
  24. Jump up^ “Mistakes and hoaxes on-line” . Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-04-15 . Retrieved 2007-04-28 .
  25. Jump up^ “Did Colbert hack Wikipedia? – VIDEO” . Tvsquad.com. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011 . Retrieved 2012-06-07 .
  26. Jump up^ “Stephen Colbert’s Wikipedia Vice Presidential Scheme Short Circuited” . The Hollywood Reporter . 8 August 2012 . Retrieved 2012-08-08 .
  27. Jump up^ “Jimmy Wales” . Comedy Central . 24 May 2007. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008 . Retrieved 2008-09-02 .
  28. Jump up^ “Hillsborough Wikipedia posts were ‘sickening’, Cabinet Office says” . BBC News . BBC. 25 April 2014 . Retrieved 25 April2014 .
  29. Jump up^ Duggan, Oliver (April 27, 2014). “Des Lynam ‘by a giant snowball and other embarrassing Wikipedia edits from Whitehall computers” . The Daily Telegraph . Telegraph Media Group . Retrieved 4 May 2014 .
  30. Jump up^ “Rolling Stone prints story based on Wikipedia vandalism – Wikinews, the free news source” . En.wikinews.org . Retrieved 2012-06-07 .
  31. Jump up^ “Wikipedia blokkeert medewerkers publieke omroep” . From Volkskrant (in Dutch). 30 August 2007 . Retrieved 3 April 2017 .
  32. Jump up^ Tual, Morgane (January 13, 2016). “An IP address of the Ministry of Interior blocked on Wikipedia for” vandalism ” . LeMonde.fr (in French) . Retrieved 3 April 2017 .
  33. Jump up^ Cheung, Humphrey (26 February 2007). “Pro golfer sues over Wikipedia vandalism” . Tom’s Hardware.
  34. Jump up^ Carlen Lavigne (24 January 2013). Cyberpunk Women, Feminism and Science Fiction: A Critical Study . McFarland. p. 184. ISBN  978-0-7864-6653-5 . Retrieved 20 April 2013 .
  35. ^ Jump up to:b Helen Lewis (12 June 2012). “Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can not Have Anything Nice” . New Statesman . Retrieved 20 April 2013 .
  36. Jump up^ Andrea Weckerle (13 February 2013). Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies and Other Jerks . That Publishing. p. 33. ISBN  978-0-13-313498-8 . Retrieved 20 April 2013 .
  37. Jump up^ Allen, Nick (5 December 2012). “Wikipedia, the 25-year-old student and the prank that fooled Leveson” . The Daily Telegraph . Telegraph Media Group . Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  38. Jump up^ Andy McSmith (30 November 2012). “Leveson’s Wikipedia moment: how the internet ‘research’ on The Independent’s history left him red-faced” . The Independent .
  39. Jump up^ “Have I Got News for You (series 44, episode 8) TV program” . BBC. 7 December 2012 . Retrieved 12 December 2012 .
  40. Jump up^ “Have I Got News for You: Series 44, Episode 8 (Leveson clip)” . BBC. 7 December 2012 . Retrieved 12 December 2012 .
  41. Jump up^ “Hacked to pieces” . The Economist . 8 December 2012 . Retrieved 8 December 2012 .
  42. Jump up^ Caitlin Dewey (April 15, 2015). “The story behind Jar’Edo Wens, the longest-running hoax in Wikipedia history” . The Washington Post . Retrieved October 19, 2016 .
  43. Jump up^ Ben Popper (22 July 2015). “Someone just deleted Donald Trump’s entire Wikipedia page”. The Verge(Vox Media).
  44. Jump up^ “All The Content On Donald Trump’s Wikipedia Page Was Just Deleted”. TPM.
  45. Jump up^ Andrea Peterson (22 July 2015). “Donald Trump’s Wikipedia page was deleted today.” . Washington Post.
  46. Jump up^ “Somebody trolled Chad Clos with the greatest Wikipedia page ever” . 2016-08-10 . Retrieved 2016-08-12 .
  47. Jump up^ “Chad the Closed” Wikipedia Page Edited to Say Phelps Killed Him ” . Retrieved 2016-08-12 .
  48. Jump up^ O’Connor, Brendan (October 13, 2016). “Clinton Wiki pages vandalized” . Jezebel .
  49. Jump up^ “Assemblyman Tedisco’s Wikipedia vandalized” .
  50. Jump up^ Kircher, Madison Malone. “Wikipedia Edits Are the Only Joy in These Fraught Political Times” . Select All . Retrieved 2017-02-02 .
  51. Jump up^ “Wikipedia briefly listed politicians and other invertebrates” . Houston Chronicle . Retrieved 2017-02-02 .
  52. Jump up^ “From the strange specimen of Paul Ryan to Uber’s big dropoff – The Boston Globe” . BostonGlobe.com . Retrieved 2017-02-02 .

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