Never feed the trolls.

True vandals and trolls (as distinguished from users who dabble in minor vandalism) usually suffer from chronic alienation and real or perceived powerlessness. They seek recognition and infamy by interrupting and frustrating the Wikipedia project and community. Such users experience exceptional attention as empowerment, reward and encouragement. This is particularly true for those prolific vandals who have been immortalised on Wikipedia pages, meticulously catalogued by category pages, targeted by dedicated templates, and thereby have become a noted part of wiki culture.[a]


This glorification of vandalism through infamy encourages Internet memes through reinforcement, where users imitate notorious or unique vandalism methods for amusement, to share in the infamy, or for the thrill of defying authority and/or interfering in other users' work. Denying recognition and infamy neutralizes common primary motivators for vandalism and disruption.

Media exposure of vandalism on Wikipedia seems to invite increased vandalism. When a person writes in a newspaper or says on television that it is easy to insert nonsense in Wikipedia, invariably a number of imitators want to see it for themselves and believe they are "hackers". Making this issue seem more important than it is reinforces this behavior (see positive feedback).

Continuing to deal with vandalism

Some material is still going to be valuable in dealing with vandalism, so this is not about pretending vandalism does not exist. Instead, information on vandalism should be critically appraised: first, whether it has genuine value; then, whether that value outweighs any detriment from the publicity of that vandal or their vandalism. Stating that a certain individual is involved in very obvious vandalism probably does not enable any better recognition or response to that vandalism—it merely adds to the legend of a specific vandal. On the other hand, documenting a new form of vandalism in a neutral manner like Wikipedia:Vandalism § Types of vandalism ensures a suitable awareness of that vandalism's existence.

How to mitigate vandalism

If you see information pages about vandals or vandalism that you think have no practical purpose,

  • If this page is pure vandalism, tag it with {{Db-g3}};
  • If this page is created by banned or blocked users after the ban or block, tag it with {{Db-g5}};
  • If this page is an obvious personal attack, remove all content and then tag it with {{Db-g10}};
  • Otherwise, quietly revert or blank. Reserve listing the page as miscellany for deletion for serious matters, noting that a high-profile forum discussion of vandalism is the opposite of "deny recognition".

User pages of indefinitely blocked users (except sockpuppets and banned users) that have no practical purpose can be nominated for deletion as such after a short while.[b] Remember that this is not a criterion for speedy deletion, unless the page is pure vandalism, or a personal attack. In general, "socktags" on blocked sockpuppets' user pages should only be added, removed, or modified by administrators or sockpuppet investigations clerks.

See also

Similar pages:

Contrasting pages:


  1. ^ One notable example is here, where a vandal requested their own long term abuse page be created for them – that same user had previously taken screenshots of their own sockpuppets' vandalism and added them to other long term abuse pages.
  2. ^ IP addresses stored for registered users are only kept in the system for so long; categorising a user after this period of time serves no useful purpose.

Further reading

  • Sutton, Robert (February 2007). The No Asshole Rule. Business Plus. ISBN 978-0-446-52656-2.
  • Doctorow, Cory (May 14, 2007). "How to Keep Hostile Jerks from Taking Over Your Online Community". InformationWeek. TechWeb Business Technology Network. Retrieved September 22, 2015.