|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This page in a nutshell: Recognition is a motivation for vandalism. Trolls require food. Don't feed the trolls.|
True vandals (as distinguished from users who engage in harassment and edit warring or dabble in minor vandalism) usually suffer from chronic alienation and real or perceived powerlessness and 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 immortalized on Wikipedia pages, meticulously catalogued by category pages, targeted by dedicated templates, and thereby become a notable part of wiki culture.
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 a big thing out of this issue 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. Information on vandalism should be critically appraised for its genuine value, and if that value outweighs any detriment from the publicity of that vandal/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, list them as miscellany for deletion (if you see a group of similar pages, make a group nomination). User pages of indefinitely blocked users (except sockpuppets and banned users) that have no practical purpose can be nominated as such after a short while. Remember that this is not a criterion for speedy deletion, though.
- Do not insult the vandals
- Don't stuff beans up your nose
- Revert, block, ignore
- The Motivation of a Vandal
- The Cunctator/HomePage Vandalism
- Yaris678/Deny automated recognition
- DissuadeReputation on MeatballWiki
- No shrines for vandals
- What is a troll?
References and footnotes
- As an example of desire for recognition and infamy as a motivation for vandalism, see "Pelican shit" on Wikipedia talk:Long term abuse.
- A request for own long term abuse page - user had previously taken screenshots of their own sockpuppets' vandalism and added them to other long term abuse pages
- 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.