Wiki Vandals Discussion

The WikiVandals list should be purely informative, not opinionated. There should be no exclamations ("So-and-so did such-and-such! What a jerk!"), no 'reading into' the vandals' motivations. Only enough information for fellow WikiZens and WikiGnomes to find and fix recurrent vandalism.]

Okay, but we'll need some place to offer observations other than purely factual. For instance, I made the observation/posed the question "Is this the same git who keeps doing this?" at one point in the vandalism history and the vandalism stopped after that. Maybe it's important, maybe not.

I'd say that counts as trying to identify the vandal, so it's fine, though 'git' doesn't add much to it.


Please note that replacing the text of a page with "testing" (or the equivalent) is likely not vandalism, but newbie error. It's unlikely to be repeated, so don't bother reporting it.

I have one major gripe about the WikiVandals and WikiVandalsHistory? pages: They are too long. One of the great things about FixBrokenWindows is that it discourages vandalism. A vandal breaks a window, you fix it the next day, and they no longer see a purpose in breaking windows (there's nothing they can point to and say "I did that"). This seems to go in favour of not keeping any history of WikiVandals. However, there are times when it is important for the group to become aware of the identity of vandals for the purposes of tracking down any other windows they may have broken and fixing them. This seems to go in favour of keeping a long WikiVandalsHistory?.

However, if you keep the history too long, it becomes a broken window in itself. Now there is a reason for vandals to vandalize; to say "Look at me! I made it into WikiVandalsHistory?!" So, in the spirit of FixBrokenWindows, I propose we put a time limit on WikiVandalsHistory?, of say 3 months or so. Long enough to identify vandals, short enough that they are not encouraged to immortalize themselves.

-- the guy who proposed WikiVandalsHistory? in the first place


I recommend keeping WikiVandals on the list for a much shorter time; perhaps less than a month. How long does it need to be? -- BrentNewhall

On the other hand, because WikiVandals and WikiVandalsHistory? are both as freely editable as any other Wiki page, a vandal wanting to "immortalize" himself could just edit WikiVandals and add a (bogus) mention. If he's really enterprising he can even do the vandalism, fix it, and note his own behavior. Perhaps the ability to hypothesize a scenario like that makes this author as narcissistic as the WikiVandals, who knows?

Sure they can do that, but if we keep the history short, they'll lose motivation. Part of the reason I brought this up is that I started to feel like if I trimmed the WikiVandals page, it would be viewed by others as 'vandalism' and would be reverted. The social norm seems to be toward keeping the page long, and I think that's a bit of a mistake.

Hmmm... with a short page, it's easier to stand out, and perhaps a vandal who was listed and got trimmed off, may be compelled to vandalize again just to get back on the short list.

Really, it's 0x0F of one, 15 of the other. Some vandals will be compelled to vandalize again just to get on the short list, but if we leave the list on for longer, there will be vandals immortalizing themselves. Vandals are nothing more than noise or parasites, and should be treated as such. You don't call mosquitoes names and get in a huff over them, you just spray their eggs with insecticide, and bat them off your arm, and go about your life. Same with vandals.

The length of WikiVandals seems to not be a problem any more since the creation of WikiSpammers?.


The behaviors called vandalism and the the uncivil posts on this (and other wikis) cause externalities. That's economist speak. An externality is (usually) a cost imposed on innocent bystanders, like air and water pollution. Government was invented to control externalities of many kinds that individual bystanders are unwilling (they have other things to do) or unable (the externality maker cannot be controlled effectively by an individual) to do anything about. Both problems exist here. Third parties generally see no reason to invest their own time in policing abusive behavior - look how few people contribute or refactor entries.

The things people complain about here are at best uncivil; the perpetrators would not try them person because they'd get slapped down. Their behavior is akin to muggings in that they ambush their victims, imposing costs on the entry's author and those who would like to participate reasonably.

If you have practical suggestions for improvement, check out WikiNoisePollution.

Government already exists on-line. Mailing lists and bulletin boards that work have owners or moderators who perform that function. The net was built on an idealism that assumes good behavior. There seems to be enough evidence that such idealism is not justified to generate lots of traffic like this on WardsWiki alone. My forecast is that a WardsWiki without government will fall apart. That's not pessimistic; its empirical realism. See http://shirky.com/writings/group_politics.html and http://shirky.com/writings/community_scale.html.


There is no harm in orphaned pages. Deleting them only obligates their recreation. They did no one any harm, and are 11% of the page database. It's not orphaned pages that are serious. Move the content to WikiPedia, and then write something wonderful. You can't possibly do that here, but you could just be angry at me. Ok, I tried very carefully not to intend to refactor them. Hence, we can junk contributors on these pages. I know of at least two anonymous contributors who are upset at Wiki; I cannot act alone. I make no mass changes or deletions, though perhaps it depends on how you define "mass changes or deletions". To speak from my experience: At the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002 I started doing refactoring tricks, of course, which was a much more controversial move.


Be on the lookout:

74.13.111.28 seems to be posting unrelated sci-fi movie scenes into pages.

That's SchizoidGibberishWikiAuthor.

Somebody seems to be posing as me of late. Example:

  I like books and have encapsulated them in ExBase -- TopMind 

--top

Yeah, somebody's being a dick. I deleted it.

Thanks for being an un-dick :-)
See also: BalancingReadersWritersAndEditors, WikiVandalismSolutions
CategoryWikiMaintenance

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