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Vandalism is indisputable bad-faith addition, deletion, or change to content, made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia. The largest quantity of vandalism consists of replacement of prominent articles with obscenities, namecalling, or other wholly irrelevant content. Any good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia, even if misguided or ill-considered, is not vandalism. Apparent bad faith edits that do not make their bad faith nature explicit and inarguable, are not considered vandalism at Wikipedia. Committing vandalism is a violation of NSwiki policy; it needs to be spotted, and then dealt with – if you cannot deal with it yourself, you can seek help from others.

What vandalism is not

These things are not vandalism, though they are sometimes called vandalism. They are therefore treated differently:

  • Newbie test: New users who discover the "Edit this page" button want to know if they can really edit any page, so they write something inside just to test it. This is not vandalism! On the contrary, these users should be warmly greeted, and given a reference to the Sandbox (eg. using the {{test}} template message) where they can keep making their tests (sometimes they will even revert their own changes).
  • Extended newbie test: Some users (especially the young ones) want to check out if they can make an article look really stupid, or radically change it to become unreadable. They simply want to test the limits of the wiki; they will stop when you revert their changes, and will feel embarrassed when you write them a message. Continuing such "testing" after this point is vandalism.
  • Getting to grips with markup and manual of style: Some users take a while to get to grips with wiki-based markup, and spend a little while experimenting with different ways to make external links, for example. Rather than condemning them as vandals, just explain to them what our standard style is on the issue in hand – perhaps pointing them towards our deeply inadequate documentation at NSwiki:Page editing and the like.
  • NPOV violations: The neutral point of view is a difficult policy for many of us to understand, and even Wikipedia veterans occasionally accidentally introduce material which is non-ideal from an NPOV perspective. Indeed, we are all blinded by our beliefs to a greater or lesser extent. While regrettable, this is not vandalism. See also: NPOV dispute.
  • Bold edits: Wikipedians often make sweeping changes to articles in order to improve them – most of us aim to be bold when updating articles. While having large chunks of text you wrote removed, moved to talk, or substantially rewritten can sometimes feel like vandalism, it should not be confused with vandalism. That said, the wise Wikipedian tempers boldness with WikiLove.
  • Bullying, or stubbornness: Some users cannot come to agreement with others who are willing to talk to them on an article's talk page, and repeatedly make changes opposed by everyone else. This is a matter of regret – you may wish to see our dispute resolution pages to get help. However, it is not vandalism.
  • Harassing, or making personal attacks: We have a clear policy on Wikipedia of no personal attacks, and harassing other contributors is not allowed. Some forms of harassment are also clear cases vandalism, such as home page vandalism. However, harassment is not in general vandalism.
  • The unexpected: Just because someone is editing in an unusual way, doesn't make them a vandal. If someone is making solid edits but writing "hi mom!" in their edit summaries, this doesn't make them an oddball vandal, it makes them a newcomer. By all means have a friendly chat about the proper use of edit summaries. Don't blanket revert them. Don't block them.

Types of vandalism

These are the most common forms of vandalism on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia:How to spot vandalism for details on each of these and tips on how to find such edits.

Adding inappropriate external links for self-promotion.
A script or "robot" that attempts to vandalize or spam massive amounts of articles, blanking, or adding commercial links.
Childish vandalism 
Adding graffiti or blanking pages.
Silly vandalism 
Users will sometimes create joke articles or replace existing articles with plausible-sounding nonsense.
Sneaky vandalism 
Vandalism which is harder to spot. Adding misinformation and typos
Attention-seeking vandalism 
Adding insults, using offensive usernames, replacing articles with jokes etc. (see also Wikipedia:No personal attacks)
User page vandalism 
Replacing User pages with insults, profanity, etc. (see also Wikipedia:No personal attacks)

See also