|This page documents a Wikivoyage guideline.
Like most wikis, Wikivoyage experiences vandalism: edits deliberately intended to damage page content. Wikivoyage's practice is to give vandals as little attention as possible so they do not receive the attention they often desire. The basic principle for dealing with vandals is block (if you're an administrator), revert, and ignore. However, there are plenty of other things to do to make sure vandals don't get the attention they try to get.
This advice is intended to lay out some guidelines, but the implementation is flexible — it shouldn't be a rigid set of formulas. If you have experience in combating vandalism, and you know how to deal with a vandal in a particular situation in a way that is approved by the community, just do it. Apply this advice wisely and if you think something different is appropriate, do it wisely and carefully, and make sure the community approves of the action you have taken.
New users should probably not engage in complex action against long-term abusers. Reverting obvious graffiti or mistakes is OK, but judging what measures are best against trolls – and distinguishing them from well-intended but ignorant contributors – is not always easy.
In the past, wikis have tried to help vandals and encourage them to contribute in a better way. However, these attempts proved to be unsuccessful, since many vandals had no intention to improve Wikivoyage, Wikipedia, or other wikis — they were only interested in harming them. Therefore, many wikis now block vandals and ignore them instead. While it would be hard to prove that this methodology successfully decreases the overall amount of vandalism on wikis, and no formal studies have been done, empirical experience has shown that quick action against vandals definitely makes life easier for administrators.
What to do
If you check the recent changes log and an edit looks like vandalism, revert it. Do not change the edit summary; the edit summary should automatically include something similar to the following: "Undo revision 3662534 by User (talk)". Once you publish the edit, the vandalism will have been removed.
Generally, don't report vandalism unless it is very serious. Doing so only gives vandals more attention. However, if you've reverted a vandal's edit and the vandal continues to vandalize or makes threatening comments because you reverted their edit, you may go to Wikivoyage:Vandalism in progress and report the edit. If they try to remove this report, let them do so. Starting an edit war will only encourage the vandal, whereas refusing to engage in their game will reduce their fun. What's more, it will be clear to other users who see the reversion in their watchlist that the one reporting is in the right and the vandal is in the wrong.
If you have any concerns about vandals which you'd prefer to express in private, a number of admins can be contacted via email - just go to their userpage, navigate to the sidebar under the heading Tools, then click 'Email this user' to begin composing your message.
For administrators, it's particularly important that you don't give the vandal attention. If you discover an active vandal who's making an overwhelming number of problem edits, block them first, and then go through and revert their edits. Any statements about the vandal (for example, in the block summary) should be as impersonal as possible so the vandal is denied recognition.
Keep public discussions or declarations about the patterns of individual vandals as brief and general as possible. If it's essential to point out details about a specific vandal's tactics, you can do so in the "notes" section of one of the abuse filters, where they can only be viewed by administrators. But don't use the abuse filters as a replacement for talk pages — they exclude most users from participating, so they should only be used to discuss the tactics of individual vandals or other issues related to the abuse filters.
If you know that the vandal who has just been blocked is a long-term abuser, a new experimental strategy is to use the "change visibility" tool to hide any revisions by that vandal so their edits cannot be found in article histories. Once the revision(s) of unwanted edits has/have been hidden, hide the edit summaries of the revision(s) that reverted the vandalism, as well as anything else in the page's edit history where the vandal's username is visible. This experimental strategy is for long-term vandals; it should generally not be used for ordinary vandalism, and should never be used for any kind of earnest attempt to contribute to the travel guide.
What not to do
There are many "don'ts" as well as "dos"; here are some of the most important ones:
- When you revert a vandal's edit, don't add to the edit summary: edit summaries appear in article history and the recent changes log, so if you write something like "I hate you vandal" in the edit summary, you're not helping anyone. You'll just make the vandal more enraged, and he's more likely to come back and vandalize Wikivoyage later.
- Avoid going to the pub or a talk page and examining "could this vandal be the same vandal as..." or "I notice that this vandal typically does..." The reason is that explaining what a repeat vandal (that is, one who vandalizes multiple times under different usernames) does will help the vandal more easily avoid detection as a sockpuppet (a new account made to evade a block or hide one's history on-wiki) next time they vandalize.
- Not all vandals are obvious. Some problem users will pretend to be good-faith contributors when they're really not — i.e., a "wolf in sheep's clothing". Be cautious about communication with possible sneaky vandals, because they may try to use you in a negative way.
- If you're not sure about what to do, you don't have to do anything; there will be experienced users who know what to do, and generally at least one of them is on Wikivoyage every hour.
Since Wikipedia is a sister website of Wikivoyage, it has a lot of helpful information that applies to Wikivoyage: