User:Samuel Blanning/Blanking

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Blanking refers to the deletion of large parts of text from an article. The action may involve the entire article, large sections of text, or apparently random selections.

Blanking is one of the most common forms of vandalism - however, it is also one of the actions most commonly misdiagnosed as vandalism, and editors should be careful that they do not accuse editors of it unjustly.

When blanking is not vandalism[edit]

Vandalism is "...a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia". If a user believes he or she is making a good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia when removing large amounts of material, then the user is not committing vandalism. It is important for users to understand that even if the removed text is neutral, relevant and verified, and every other user opposes its removal, it is still not vandalism as long as the user is not attempting to damage Wikipedia. He is still subject to the three-revert rule and other defenses against edit warring, and should be warned and reported if he aggressively edit wars against consensus; however, editors reverting him are not exempt from the three-revert rule, should not use admin rollback, popups or other anti-vandalism tools to revert him, and should not give him vandalism warnings. {{3RR}} can be used to warn editors of the three-revert rule - inexperienced editors may also need to be asked to use edit summaries, and to discuss large-scale changes on the article's talk page.

In the worst case, a user may blank an article or section because he feels it contains false, poorly-cited, irrelevant or otherwise inappropriate material. He will already be seeing Wikipedia in a negative light for hosting it in the first place; if his removal is met with a warning or even a block from editing for "vandalism", the situation may immediately become much nastier.

Blanking of entire articles[edit]

Generally, editors should not replace articles with blank text. Even if the entire page is inappropriate, the deletion policy must be followed. New users, however, are unlikely to know this. The {{blank}} template points editors to the correct course of action; unless the blanking is clearly malicious (see below) it should be used in favour of templates such as {{blatantvandal}}.

When blanking is almost certainly vandalism or testing[edit]

  • When the content is replaced with obscenities or other blatantly inappropriate content.
  • When all or large amounts of obviously appropriate articles (including featured articles) are blanked.
  • When a user blanks numerous unrelated articles.
  • When an apparently random selection of text has been deleted - sometimes ending in the middle of a sentence or word.
  • When the username of the editor or edit summaries indicate malicious intention.

When blanking is almost certainly not vandalism/testing[edit]

  • When the edit is done by an editor who has a history of good contributions.
  • When an edit summary is left with a legitimate reason (e. g. "removing bias", "deleting false information").
  • When the edit is explained on the article's talk page.

When to be especially careful[edit]

  • Any 'blanking' done of sections which have headings along the lines of 'Controversy', 'Criticism', etc, or of entire articles which generally portray the subject in a bad light. Such sections should not be restored unless they are verified by reliable sources. This is especially true of biographies of living persons, where removal of poorly-sourced negative material is not subject to the three revert-rule. Editors who automatically and continuously revert blanking of such material without considering whether it belongs may find themselves blocked despite their good intentions.