User:Ritchie333/Hit and run editors

This article has been attacked by hit and run editors and has more cleanup templates than prose.

The Hit and run editor is a stereotypical Wikipedian, who makes a large number of similar changes to pages, despite having had no evidence of being previously interested in any of them.


"Editors ... come to an article with a particular agenda, make the changes they want to the page according to their preconceived notions of what should be, and then flit off to their next victim, without ever considering whether the page really needed the change they made, or whether the change improved the article at all... Wikipedians should worry more about those who hit-and-run, and less about those who feel stewardship towards the articles they work so hard on."

Beyond My Ken, June 2008[1]

"The second is that Wikiquote often has what I call "hit and run" editors, who come, create a page that may or may not contain quotes, and then never return, leaving a messy or effectively empty page."

LrdChaos, January 2007[2]

These editors can be easily identified by large edit counts, their tendency to use automated tools such as Twinkle, Huggle and AutoWikiBrowser, and their bizarre overly-verbose edit summaries. A cursory glance through their history reveals hundreds, if not thousands, of edits on a wide range of articles with nearly identical edit summaries. There are very few contributions that add prose or references to articles.


One area the hit and run editor gets involved in is the formatting. The layout and formatting of a page is important, to some extent. Information needs to be presented well so it can be easily parsed by humans. However, hit and run editors take it too far. Nobody (at least outside of the domain of FAC reviewers) really cares about whether the date on a {{cite news}} citation should appear after the publisher name, where the dashes of an ISBN book source go, that an article has not had sufficient inline citations since 2007 or (especially) whether or not a page has an infobox on it. These tasks should be left to bots if they are genuinely repetitive and uncontroversial - or left to discretion. One of the reasons hit and run editors have gained prominence in this area is that writing the encyclopaedia has become more difficult. The quality of work has increased in some areas, which makes it harder to contribute without good knowledge in the subject matter and sources. Fiddling with the formatting seems to be a suitable alternative passtime.


Who on earth is going to read through all that?

The real damage caused by the hit and run editor is with templates on talk pages. Templates are easy to generate at the press of the button, and they give the apparent sense of saving time communicating. However, because the text cannot possibly predict the required usage in advance, there is no guarantee that the message in the template will give the correct advice, or even good advice at all. My feelings on how newbies see templates are well documented, but frequently a hit and run editor will slap a big template on a user talk page without any consideration of whether it was a new user who wouldn't understand it, an experienced user who would be patronised by it or a retired editor who would never read it. For goodness sake, think about the consequences of templated messages and remember that real humans have to read them.


The simplest response to a hit and run editor is to ignore them. Be careful about linking to this essay in an edit summary or a talk page. Directly accusing another editor of "hitting and running" can be considered to be incivil, particularly if you don't explain why they hit and run. Somebody who is sharp at spotting spelling and grammar problems and fixing many in a short space of time is not necessarily causing wanton changes everywhere.

If the edit really makes no difference, just let it go. If you have to revert an edit, follow the usual channels of dispute resolution - a genuine "hit and run editor" probably won't even notice you've changed it back.

See alsoEdit