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There are five stages of grief which every Wikipedia spammer will go through when his/her content is removed. These steps are a natural and timeless part of life, but it may be helpful to know what to expect and how to cope. It can be difficult to come to terms with the realization that one's business, interests, or existence in general are not relevant to the rest of the world in the form of a Wikipedia entry.
The five stages of grieving are:
Tips for spammers
If some of the statements in the list above look familiar, you may be grieving. Don't worry: there is help available.
- If promoting your site is your highest priority, you can buy banner ads through many commercial vendors.
- Since everyone knows who you are (because of your persistent attempts to link to your own company), you may wish to preserve a modicum of dignity by moving straight to the acceptance stage on your own. You can save a great deal of face—not to mention good will towards the company you represent—by simply accepting that your link will never be appropriate here, acknowledging your initial confusion, and moving on with your life. Posting requests on policy pages or noticeboards will only embarrass you, whether you realize it or not.
- If you are stuck on step one or two, and find that you simply can't resist re-inserting your link or vandalizing pages to get even, fear not: help will be with you shortly.
Tips for Wikipedians
It is the job of every Wikipedian to help grieving spammers move through the process and arrive at the fifth step as quickly as possible. Without your help, they may find themselves unable to move past a particular step, which will only prolong the pain. Being stuck on step one can lead to protracted discussions and edit warring. Step two can cause retaliatory vandalism and sockpuppetry. Too much of step three invariably causes excessive whining on noticeboards and the village pump, which really just heaps embarrassment on the already-grieving spammer. And allowing step four to go on for too long leads to ineffectual, maudlin rants on the spammer's userpage or, sometimes, on the actual website in question.
Directing spammers to our guidelines for external links and spam is often ineffective. It will usually only help them begin the process, by moving them to denial. Still, this is a good first step. Now you may want to talk about conflicts of interest; if the information was really so important, wouldn't someone else have added it? This is a difficult concept for some people, so this tactic will often only move them to anger or bargaining. For instance, some spammers like to point out that although they do have a conflict of interest, they do not make money from their site. If that's the case, you can try explaining that Wikipedia is not a soapbox, and that we don't make advertising exceptions for subjects claimed to be worthy causes such as charities, wikis and non-profit organizations.
Eventually, though, every spammer will move on to stage four. They will express their disappointment at the heavy-handedness of Wikipedia, the bias of its editors, the short-sightedness of the policies, and your own worth as a Wikipedian. It is quite likely that references will be made to fascism, communism, or George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Take heart, and remember that this is only a natural part of the healing process. You are a good person. Be strong. If you are exceptionally lucky, Nazism will be mentioned early, thus removing from you the need to further humor the spammer. Victory is yours; hold your head high.
Eventually, they will make the move to acceptance. This is most often announced by a sudden silence on their talk page. Much like the biblical story of the ten lepers, most spammers will not return to thank you for helping them through their difficult experience. This is natural. Others will post farewell messages—some apologetic, some bitter—which you are free to peruse at your leisure. You may want to save them in a scrapbook to use in a future request for adminship as an example of your marvelous patience, benevolence, and efficacy. Sometimes these soliloquies are cut short by indefinite blocks or talk page protection; if so, console yourself with the knowledge that somewhere in cyberspace, a spammer wishes you well.
- WikiProject Spam
- Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
- How spamming can hurt your company image, an article from the Wikipedia Signpost
- For an example of the five stages on a single user talk thread, see User talk:Nabaker § Your recent edits.
- The dark side — your fame will live on!