Vandalism is the conspicuous defacement or destruction of a structure, a symbol or information against the will of the owner/governing body. In the context of an online community project, it is a usually deliberate attempt to damage the usefulness of content for other viewers.
Assuming good faith
- Main article: Help:Assuming good faith
Useful community content is that which most concisely and accurately reflects the widest range of relevant information on a topic. In the context of a wikia project, intent to reduce relevant information to that of a single viewpoint could be considered vandalism. In keeping with assume good faith, however, it may be possible to look at a one-viewpoint edit as additional information that the user feels should be incorporated or is under-represented. In such a case, it benefits the project to explain more effective methods of bringing this information to light while retaining the existing knowledge in the article. While calling someone a vandal almost always makes the accusation true, extra patience instead can enable one to become a beneficial editor.
Avoiding critical mass
Vandalism usually starts as a form of heavy-handedness which is never effective at getting a point across in a wikia community. We can nip it in the bud by explaining more effective ways of making proposals and working with others. If we alienate the editor, however, vandalism can turn into a form of vengeance. The wikia engine is written to minimize the effect of pranksters, and can even handle a few full blown vengeful vandals, but it cannot handle a vandalism movement that has reached critical mass, a situation where we react to vandalism by assuming bad faith and thereby create more vengeful editors. As a project approaches crisis levels, it becomes harder and more time intensive to assume good faith, but every act of kindness and patience moves the project away from critical mass.
Dealing with vandalism
In general, the best way to deal with vandalism is to revert the vandalism, block the vandal, and ignore any attempt from the vandal to communicate or bother you further. For more information on this, we recommend reading these three pages, which go into each of these steps in more detail:
There are measures administrators can put in place to help prevent vandalism before it begins:
Two anti-vandalism extensions are used often on Wikia. ProtectSite locks down the ability of specific user groups from being able to do basic actions, such as editing or creating of pages or uploading images, for up to 12 hours. If a wikia is facing a surge of vandalism, the VSTF or Wikia Staff can enable ProtectSite to prevent new, unregistered, or even non-sysop users from being able to do those particular things. The other extension is AbuseFilter, which allows skilled coders to block the submission of edits if certain conditions are met, most usually if a particular crass or unacceptable word is included in the new text.
Blacklists are lists of pages to be excluded from certain features in the Wikia skin. For example, the photos blacklist can be found at MediaWiki:Photosblacklist. There, administrators can list photos not to be shown in the Recent Photos widget. The other blacklist is the Categories Blacklist, which is found at Mediawiki:Categoryblacklist. There, administrators can list categories to be excluded from the Categories toolbar at the bottom of the page.
Wikia staff may also turn off anonymous editing upon request if anonymous accounts (identified by their IP number) continually cause problems on a wikia.