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Kindness is better than biting!
Etiquette Guide for Recent Change Patrol

Choosing to devote time to fighting vandalism, or doing Recent Changes patrol, is more than just hitting the "revert" button. To be effective, and accurate, one must have a firm background in the policies and guidelines of Wikipedia. This essay will attempt to guide, and teach those who may not be experienced, and explain the processes and steps involved in reverting inappropriate changes to Wikipedia's pages.

Standard template messages can be both a blessing, and a curse. There are a wide variety of pre-formatted, standardized template messages available to anyone who wishes to assist with vandalism or warnings of editors on Wikipedia, as well as useful notifications. Many of these are extremely helpful, especially when dealing with obvious, malicious vandals. Administrators base their decisions for blocks on the extent of damage, the intent, how many warnings someone has been given, and the user's history. However, their use should be used with a dash of caution, a heaping teaspoon of reason, and a big cup of good faith.

Core values[edit]

When using template messages for vandal fighting, it is a good idea to have a firm foundation of the basic policies, guidelines, and goals of Wikipedia. The following articles are extremely helpful if you're thinking of devoting much time to fighting vandalism:

For the purposes of this essay, the emphasis is placed towards the "vandalism/recent change" patroller, but it does touch upon other templates, and their uses as well.

Usage of templates[edit]

In the case of patrolling, the use of warning templates help administrators with valuable information:

  • How many warnings a user has been given, and what order
  • Which level of warning was posted
  • What day/time they were given

Administrators take these things into account when determining actions against a vandal. Especially for destructive, or repeat violators, standardized templates can be helpful to the administrators on duty.

Put away the riot gear

Templates also offer an ease of use, especially for users who combat vandalism with other tools, such as Twinkle, Lupin's tool, or VandalProof. Some of those tools use the standardized templates, but you can easily opt to use your own words or template. For example, with Twinkle, rather than clicking the "warn" tab, you can simply place your own notice when it pops up the user's talk page.

Templates aren't simply for vandalism or other "warning" actions, there are standardized templates for a number of helpful things, from letting someone know that one of the articles they created has been selected to have a "Did you know" fact, or that an article they've contributed to is up for peer review, to letting someone know that an article they created has been nominated for deletion, and give them the chance to go discuss the issue.

For the main purpose of this essay, the use of the word "template notice" will be intended for recent changes patrol members, and vandal patrol members. However, a summary of other helpful template messages will be provided as well.

To see list of available warning messages, as well as their examples, see the list of warning messages.

Template alternatives[edit]


‎While the standard template warnings have their place, there are certainly a number of actions that should be handled with kindness, not impersonal templates. First of all, examine the intent, and ask yourself if this justifies an impersonal warning. Was the problem simply a new user's lack of knowledge about Wikipedia?

A good rule when on Recent changes patrol (or vandal patrol) is "never make assumptions".

A common mistake new editors make is the use of "indentation" when writing. New users often don't realize that Wikipedia uses its own special "language"[1], and indentation, which may have been drilled into a writer's head from elementary school, doesn't work here. Thus, their well intentioned additions come out looking like this:

This is what happens when you indent. This box won't wrap, causing formatting errors.

If you see that happen, go over a quick checklist to see if it is a new user:

  • Is their talk page empty?
  • Does it have a history?
  • If it is a registered user, has anyone welcomed them?
  • Check their contributions, are there very few?

A very quick hand-typed note with a smile at the end will go a long way towards making someone feel welcome, as compared to making someone feel "chastised". Going one step further, and placing helpful links and a welcome message on their page will further make them feel part of the community.

It may be a good idea to avoid "templating" someone who is a brand new user, if at all possible. Again, this goes hand in hand with assuming good faith, and welcoming new users, without biting them. Except in the extreme cases listed below, it is a good idea to avoid standard warning templates for first notices.


A smile goes a long way towards conveying intent

Some people who contribute a large amount of time to patrolling changes have created their own special "warning" templates. These can be helpful for a variety of reasons. They show the person that the editor is real, and not a bot or an auto-generated message from the system. They also can contain additional information, especially in the form of helpful links, that the standard template warnings do not. (While that information can be placed in a standard warning template, via the |additional information function, the majority of people using the standard warnings don't take advantage of that. The usage for that would be {{uw-vand1|articletitle|your personal message}}.)

Think about the word: Personalization. Personal. This is you, not Wikipedia, talking to the other user. You can be yourself! Some users love using happy faces, and pictures, and enjoy conveying their feelings and intentions through the use of pictures. Because of the nature of online communities, you will never hear the "tone" of someone's post. Words are just words. They can be taken wrong, and escalate into heated battles over something initially innocent.[2] Some people choose to avoid any chance of that happening, by using pictures, even if they are little teeny tiny ones. Nuvola apps gaim.png

Let's examine the standard initial (first use, level one) vandalism warning template for a vandal, against a customized personal warning:

  • {{uw-vand1|article|message}}.
Welcome to Wikipedia. Although everyone is welcome to contribute to Wikipedia, at least one of your recent edits did not appear to be constructive and has been reverted or removed. Please use the sandbox for any test edits you would like to make, and read the welcome page to learn more about contributing constructively to this encyclopedia. Thank you.

(Box included here simply for formatting reasons. Normal message is not enclosed in a box.)

Any comments about standard templates are not criticisms of them, but merely observations and comparisons. Standard templates are not a bad thing. Also, not all templates are impersonal. Many users have created their own templates to give them that personal touch. And as shown above, with the function to add additional information, you can personalize the standard warnings as well.

However, for the purpose of the following analysis, the assumption is that the warning message was given as simply {{uw-vand1}} without any other information filled in, since that happens fairly often.

The image is an "i" which is meant to convey "information". The opening sentence is standard, without a link to the welcome page, although that is provided at the end, this is the opening statement, and thus what the impression will be based upon. The next sentence begins with "Although". Some people associate the beginning of a sentence with "although" with being followed by a negative. Moving on, it says the edit was "not constructive", but it doesn't say what edit, maybe the person has made more than one (again, most of the time the article field is filled in, but this is what it looks like when it is not).

The average child may not keep reading, many children don't take kindly to being told what to do, especially from an online user. For adults, they'll read it, yes, but most adults also will hear the undertone of authority and impersonality, and may think it was placed by a bot.

An alternative to the standard template is either a custom template, or a simple hand-written note, that explains what mistake the editor made, and kindly requests they review any relevant policies or guidelines, along with encouraging them to use the sandbox for test edits.

For the malicious, obvious vandals, as covered below, the use of standard templates for warnings is completely acceptable, to lets the administrators know what level warning the user received. However, in some cases, instead of using the mean level 4 warning, some users may choose use their own "final warning" template.

In a similar way, some administrators have created their own "block" message templates, and these can be quite entertaining and original. The use of personalized humor, interspersed with the appropriate message, can go a long way towards determining future activity.

Examples of personalized notices[edit]

Initial notice of blanking or removing contents:

Dear ArielGold, hello, and welcome to Wikipedia! Perhaps you didn't realize it, but your recent contribution removed content from Article. Please be careful when editing pages, and do not remove content without a good reason, (which should be specified in the edit summary.) Please see the welcome page to learn more about contributing to Wikipedia, and for experimenting, please use the sandbox. Thank you. ArielGold 19:59, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Alternate "Multiple/final warning":

Nuvola apps important blue.svg
Seriously, ArielGold, please stop vandalizing articles. You have been warned several times now. Any more unconstructive edits from your account, like you did to Article, will probably get you blocked from editing. ArielGold 19:59, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Initial notice of blanking or removing contents (CHILD):

Dear ArielGold, hello, and welcome to Wikipedia! Perhaps you didn't realize it, but your recent contribution removed content from Article. Please be more careful when editing pages and do not remove content without a good reason, (which should be specified in the edit summary.) Take a look at the welcome page to learn more about contributing to this encyclopedia! If you would like to experiment again, please use the sandbox. Thank you.- ArielGold 19:59, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

What is vandalism?[edit]


Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines vandalism as:

"Willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property."[3]

Here on Wikipedia, Vandalism is: "Any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia."[4] (Emphasis mine.)

The obvious key word there is "deliberate". This usually means someone who has done the action more than once after receiving a notice regarding their actions.

Where this can get into a gray area is with "bad faith" editing: Someone who edits an article to intentionally slant it in their viewpoint, remove sourced information that is negative (but valid), or someone who engages in edit warring over something as simple as British vs. American spelling. However, these actions, are probably not something that should be considered vandalism. There are other rules that cover these, such as the three revert rule.

Obvious vandalism[edit]

When opening the differences page, there are cases when you know immediately, with one glance, that the change is vandalism. These include those malicious examples listed below, and any page that's been replaced with gibberish, or "boblovesasheley" over and over and over again. Those cases take little or no checking prior to hitting the "revert" button. However, in the beginning it is always a good chance to double check before you revert, just to be sure of your actions.

It is tempting to assume vandalism when you see an anonymous user adding a huge amount of information to an article, but it is a good idea to to stop before hitting that button, scroll down and read the article in its current format, and compare it to the previous version. It could very well be that the user improved the article, as directed by an "expand" tag. Be very cautious issuing warnings when you see a large addition of text, unless it is immediately obvious that it is patent nonsense, an obvious advertisement, or a malicious addition. For copyright, or advertising, or silly gibberish, on first time offenses some editors may prefer to use something personal, with a fun welcome message, and links to rules, rather than a standard template.

Remember, not all obvious vandalism is malicious, and not all malicious vandalism is obvious.[5] Keep that in mind when patrolling. In some cases, it isn't necessary to use a template message on someone who is obviously a kid who is experimenting. A simple link to the sandbox with a welcome message is all it takes to help them understand their actions are fine, in the sandbox. And they may end up enjoying it so much they decide to come contribute constructively on a regular basis.


Look out below!

Intentional Destruction[edit]

Sadly, it is common to see users edit pages with the obvious intention of doing harm. With a project such as this, it is inevitable, and those users who do so should be dealt with in a different manner than other first-time offenses. It is not impossible to "reform" someone who has done malicious vandalism, but it is a good idea to keep the warnings standardized, in the event that the user continues, and a block is needed. Standard templates are helpful with violators who are quickly vandalizing various pages, faster than the reverts can be put through, as they let the administrators know how many times an event has occurred.

Profuse profanity[edit]

"Profuse" doesn't refer to the single use of one curse word. It is referring to users that blank articles, and replace them with 100+ rows of the F word, or other profanities. Users who do this have obviously taken the time, forethought, and premeditation to commit the vandalism. In these instances, customized templates may not be productive, or may be received with disdain, so the use of standard templates is common.

Hate speech and racial slurs[edit]

For some editors and patrollers, this is a bigger violation than profanity. When someone places within an article any type of racial, sexual, or other hate speech term(s), one should immediately drop a standard template warning. Hate speech should not be tolerated in any form.

Reformatting text size[edit]

Another common type of obvious intentional vandalism is someone who knows enough about Wikipedia to alter the text size so much that it completely disrupts the page. There have been times that regular editors been unable to revert a version, due to this issue. That is malicious, harmful, and took time to learn how to do. For those users, the premeditation justifies using standard template warnings.

Placement of inappropriate images[edit]

Most editors and readers have seen it. The user who thinks it is funny to place one of the "anatomical" pictures found here, into articles in oversize format. Again, it takes someone who took the time to learn how to place images, learned where the images were, and learned how to re-size them to be enormous. Premeditation plays a part in this offense as well. While the underlying motivation may be less harmful than profanity or hate speech, the user would still know full well that their actions were inappropriate and offensive.

Questionable intent[edit]

Wheeee! This Wikipedia thing is fun!

As stated above, not all vandalism is intentional. Caution should be used before making assumptions, and a thorough review of both the user's contributions, and the page history should give you a good idea of the nature of the following issues.

The issues below are not considered to be vandalism, and have separate notices associated with them. Notices will be listed below the issue for reference.

Blanking pages or content[edit]

Blanking portions of articles, especially when they are small portions is a common thing to see, but not all blankings are destructive.

Things to consider
  • Is the user new?
  • Are there previous notices on their talk page?
  • Does the user not understand the edit summary box?
  • Are they trimming for clarity and excessive wordiness?
  • Did they remove WP:NPOV / WP:BLP issues?

For these actions, a comparison between the two revisions is warranted, as well as a glance at the talk page, is the wise course of action to take. And even if you do end up deciding there was no reason for removal, try a welcome message instead of a warning template, that mentions accidentally removing information.

Try to assume good faith. Assume the person did not realize it, and since no warnings were previously issued, you may choose to drop your own notice, or use the template {{subst:uw-delete1}}

Blanking of user talk pages

Another common misconception is that editors may not blank their own talk pages. In general, this is untrue. The user page guideline explains: "Policy does not prohibit users from removing comments from their own talk pages, although archiving is preferred. The removal of a warning is taken as evidence that the warning has been read by the user. Deleted warnings can still be found in the page history."[6] Obviously, if a nonconstructive editor removes the notices from their page, and replaces it with offensive content, then reverting that edit is acceptable.

In the case of shared IPs, the notices and warnings serve as a long-term record of the activity of multiple editors, and those should remain, as blanking the page also removes the shared IP template and the shared IP category, both of which serve a vital function to administrators reviewing incidents. But, for most other cases, if an editor has blanked their talk page, they are well within their rights, and it is an assumption that all warnings were read, and understood. Further notices should be given in succession, for example, if you've left 2 warnings to an editor, and they blank the page, the next warning should be a level 3, with a helpful edit summary explaining the action, such as "third level notice left - user blanked talk page of previous notices".

Introducing factual errors[edit]

Users may find it funny to change birthdays from the 20th century to the 18th, or change words in the article to mean something else, or change names of subjects. These things should not be considered vandalism, but rather, factual errors. The proper template for these issues would be {{uw-error1}}

Editing User pages[edit]

Editing other members' main user page (or removing sections/comments from another user's talk page) is another area that I'd avoid standard templates. It is a general unwritten rule that you shouldn't remove/alter another someone else's comments from a user's talk page page, but there are some people like Jimbo Wales in which the user has specifically said it is alright for anyone to edit the main user space. Chances are, if severe disruption occurs, (i.e. personal attacks) it will be spotted and fixed. Caution is suggested with standardized warnings related to user page changes, when not made by the user. Unless it is outright, malicious, obvious vandalism, it may be better to simply ask the user who made the changes if that was their intention, or to just leave it to the main user to restore.

If you'd prefer to use a standard template message, the following can be very helpful:

{{subst:uw-tpv1|Article|Additional text}}
See also: Behavior that is unacceptable

Copyright issues[edit]


These offenses can end up being quite muddy, and involved. There are times, especially when you notice a huge chunk of text added to an article, that it is pretty obvious there is a copyright violation. If you highlight the first line, Google it exactly as it is written, and one or more pages pop up with the exact wording, then definitely let the user know that's not alright.

The standard template for this issue is:

{{subst:uw-copyright|Article|Additional text}}.

You may also want to add more information, include the link(s) to the pages they copied from, and give them links to help with editing articles:

Please review Wikipedia's copyright policy prior to adding material. Copying and pasting from another site (offsite copied links here) is not allowed. If you wish to include the material you read there, you'll need to summarize, paraphrase, condense, and then feel free to submit it to the article. (See the following: Cite your sources, Manual of style, Layout guide, First article, Article development and How to edit for reference.)

Sometimes, you'll find a person repeatedly pasting the same information, even after you've removed it and notified them on their talk page. In these cases, you may choose to put the above notice on the article's talk page, as well as use a warning box on the user's page, letting him know if he continues, he risks being blocked from editing for a while. When removing the information from the article, It is a good idea to place the reason (copyvio) in the edit summary, as well as the URL the information was copied from, in case the person reverts the page, it will still be there in the edit summary for review. Another good idea may be to move the information to the article's talk page, requesting someone re-write it and properly cite it.

Personal attacks[edit]

While some attacks are obvious, others may occur because some articles (or talk page discussions) can bring up personal feelings, and emotions. Not everyone has the ability to restrain themselves, or their temper. But even if someone is calling another user names, or insulting another editor in some way, unless it is something covered in the "hate speech" section above, it is a good idea for editors stop to consider their feelings.

Them's fighting words, buddy!

Rather than drop an impersonal warning template, it may be worth it to take the time to let them know that you understand how personal things can get, and how hard it is to see upsetting things posted to the article. Remind them of the neutrality policy, and the civility guideline, and any other appropriate policies. Often what this can do is not only diffuse a situation, but it can also help to engage the person doing the attack in a meaningful dialog with you, that can help them sort out their frustrations and understand why what they did wasn't productive or constructive.

If you find the user continuing to attack others, then after your initial note (or two) it is perfectly acceptable to use template warnings, because this person has not heeded your advice, and may need a temporary "time out". The proper template is {{uw-npa1}}

Adding/removing controversial information[edit]

This is an area that new patrollers may want to use caution with, as it can get pretty messy, and heated.

Some users will remove information because it is unreferenced; other users will remove it because they don't like it, even if it is properly referenced. Be aware that you will need to do research of your own, and remain neutral, if you're going to choose to step into the issue. You'll need to have a firm grasp of the policies yourself, especially if you're going to tell someone they can't remove/add material, and you'll want to be able to explain the reasons for removal/addition you made.

One general rule of thumb is, if something is properly sourced, and cited, from a respectable off-site reference, as long as it is written neutrally, it should remain in the article, as it is a matter of record. See verifiability for reference. The place where this may or may not apply, is when dealing with biographies of living people. There are a lot of issues to consider in those areas, so proceed with caution.

For information added that is negative or defamatory, relating to a living person biography, as mentioned above, biography of living persons policy should be reviewed, and if appropriate, the proper notice to use for these issues would be {{uw-biog1}}. If the information is not related to a living person, but rather a company, etc., then {{uw-defamatory1}} could be used instead.

When information is added that is not properly cited or referenced, you may have to make a determination of whether the person simply did not know how to add references, or whether the information is of such a nature that it would cause more problems being in, than if it were to be taken out until it can be referenced. You may choose to add the {{Unreferenced|Date=October 2018}} tag, or you may choose to cut the information out and paste it into the talk page, explaining that the information needs proper citation prior to inclusion, and perhaps needs to be rewritten for neutrality. Again, it is important to use caution with these issues. Sometimes it is better to take no action at all if you're unfamiliar with the topic or the history, and let experts on the subject material take care of it. If you decide to use a notice on the user's talk page, the proper template is {{uw-unsor1}}

For issues dealing with factual accuracy, NPOV, a case where one article contradicts another, and other issues of dispute, there are many different template tags that can be used. That list of templates can be found on the dispute templates page.

Editor profile[edit]

Jumping in with both feet!

In a basic sense, nonconstructive editors can be classified in two ways: Obvious/malicious, and new/inexperienced/non-malicious/other. For the malicious ones, see the above section.

First time editors[edit]

Not all new editors are children, by any means, it should be noted that all ages are welcome here, and there are some people under 18 who are amazing editors. Even for adults, the urge to jump in without learning the basics can be strong, and for that reason, consider if perhaps the user just didn't know any better. It is best if they don't feel like they were jumping into a shark tank. Welcome them, encourage them, use custom notices if you want, and let them know their input is valued, regardless of the mistakes they made. Everyone can learn, and if given the encouragement, some of them can end up being outstanding editors!


If it is obvious that the editor in question is a child, great care should be taken, and sensitivity used, when using any warnings or notices. Consider placing a hand-written note, rather than using standard templates. Children can be very sensitive, and should be treated with respect, and instruction, rather than admonishment. While knowing for sure if an editor is a child is difficult, it is better to err on the side of caution, rather than assuming there was destructive intent. This is especially true with the edits that are basically innocuous, such as "i like pie!", or "he is so cool!". Those should be considered test edits, and not warned with a vandal warning.

Repeated incidents[edit]

When you've tried welcoming someone, and you've tried reminding them about some things, and you're noticing they're still having problems, or making errors, keep a few things in mind. First, when you're editing a section in a long article, after you post it, the page returns you to that section with some browsers. The user may not see the "new message" box because they are in the middle of the page. Second, they may not understand what it is, or even know Wikipedia has messages, or they simply may not notice it.

Taking all of those things into consideration, and reviewing their contribution history, make a decision on your action based on whether their actions are doing real harm to the article/page, or whether they seem to be working it out themselves. (It is rumored that some people don't read instructions...)

There have been many times that the same new user edits an article over and over, sometimes messing up, but always fixing it within a few edits. You may want to let those slide, because they are trying, and learning. If something goes horribly wrong, chances are a bot will fix it, or one of the regular editors will catch it.

However, you're inevitably going to find situations where the person was new, they made some mistakes, some notices were given, and they continued to do actions which ultimately were harmful. It would then be appropriate to put template warnings on their page, reminding them that further disruption could lead to removal of editing privileges for a time.

Placing warnings[edit]

When using standardized template warnings, it is fairly important to place them in the proper order, to allow administrators to know what level of warning has been given, and when. Some users have their own custom templates, and use them at the appropriate times.


Using the proper level[edit]

For new users, with a first offense, it is not appropriate to use a level 3 warning, that not only is very abrupt, but also threatens to block the user. In the first warning, blocking a user should not be mentioned. This should also apply to users that may have had warnings in the past, but not recently. Care should be taken when using add-ons such as Twinkle or Popups that you use the correct version of the warning template.[7] The following list tells you in what order warnings should be issued, as per Wikipedia policy:

  • Level 1 - Assumes good faith. Generally includes "Welcome to Wikipedia" or some variant.
  • Level 2 - No faith assumption
  • Level 3 - Assumes bad faith; stern cease and desist
  • Level 4 - Assumes bad faith; strong cease and desist, last warning

Using the proper template[edit]

See the breakdown of common issues below, or the list of templates found on the template messages page.

Double warnings[edit]

There will be times that you've reverted an instance of vandalism, and at the same time, another user has clicked the same button, and moved on to the talk page and placed a warning message. One of the two of you will receive an "edit conflict" message, but it is a good idea to be sure you don't place double warnings for one single action, so checking the article's history can tell you how many warnings should be given to the user.

Four strike rule[edit]

Once you've issued the final warning template, it is appropriate to report the offender. Some editors wait to see if they continue, because some times when a user receives a "final warning" template message, they don't continue.


Checklist for reporting:[8]

  • User has received 3+ warnings
  • User is currently active
  • Check user's history - 4+ incidents

Reporting is done via Wikipedia:Administrator intervention against vandalism, or WP:AIV for short. There is a specific format used, which gives the auditing administrators the tools they need to make a proper determination.

Anonymous Users (IP addresses):
* {{IPvandal|IP address}} brief reason for listing (keep it short) ~~~~
Registered Users:
* {{Vandal|username}} optional brief reason for listing (keep it short) ~~~~

Where the "IPVandal/Vandal" portion of the command should remain as it is, and you should substitute the user's IP address or name, for the "IP address/username" portion. Try to use brief words, using the following example as reference.


If you're using Twinkle, it will send the report for you, so you don't have to worry about how to write it. But, you may want to write in the summary/additional details box, to help the administrators know why you're reporting. Be sure to fill in the right check boxes! Take your time with reporting, and know that even if you're slow, chances are someone else has reported them, and if not, then you're still doing it the right way.

Anonymous IPs[edit]

A good portion of the contributions come from people who choose (for whatever reason) to not create a user name. Many IP editors are extremely knowledgeable, experienced, and have greatly advanced the quality of articles. Some IP users have even created their own user pages.

Some regular users may use an IP to edit when they are not at a regular computer, such as those editing from an internet cafe, work, or school. Unfortunately, a large majority of the vandalism on Wikipedia also comes from anonymous users. When dealing with anonymous users, the one thing you should know is that some users are on a "shared IP" and some aren't.


Shared IPs[edit]

Many organizations, institutions, and companies use what is called a shared IP address. Whenever you see that notice on someone's talk page, realize that even if there are many warnings there (and some school IPs have literally pages and pages), the person who made the edit you're concerned about may not be the person who made edits from that address a month ago, a week ago, a day ago, or even an hour ago. It is a good idea to go with WP:AGF on these users, initially. If the same IP is vandalizing the same page, with the same type of material, then it can be assumed at that specific time, it is the same user, and it would be appropriate to use the {{uw-warn}} templates in succession.

Wikipedia keeps a list of known shared IP addresses from schools, and it can be found here, and the template to place on those pages can be found here. (Normally that template is placed by administrators.)


One of the downsides of deciding to work with Recent Changes, is that occasionally, you may find yourself on the receiving end of vandalism. Whether it is a user blanking your userpage, or talk page, or if it is offensive comments left for you, remember that it means you're doing your job, and it is not personal. The most important thing is for you to not respond. Remove offensive comments, warn if appropriate, and continue as you would for any other article or page. Do not engage, and if the user continues, report as needed. Do not take it personally, instead, consider it just a side effect of your devotion to keeping Wikipedia free of destruction. Face-wink.svg


Generally, the term "Regulars" refers to users who are registered, and have been contributing to the encyclopedia. While this can loosely apply to anyone with a "name", it is most often used for those with at least some mainspace editing that is helpful.

It is often frowned on to place "warning" templates on a regular user's page. (i.e. those warnings you'd use with vandals.) There are a lot of things you should consider before you do it. First, does that user know more than you do? Look at their edit history, especially in regards to the article or page that they are editing. Are they an administrator? If so, they may be involved in a situation you're unfamiliar with. Go to their user page, and their talk page, see what sort of things have transpired. Sometimes, yes, you may find it is a registered user with a very long history of disruption, many warnings, several blocks, and you may decide it is perfectly acceptable to use a template message. But as with the other issues, a careful review of the situation should be done prior to any notice, and you may choose to simply do nothing.

For users that aren't obvious, repeat nonconstructive editors, if you feel you simply can not let the issue slide, it may be best to write a personal message of your own, rather than using a standardized template. Explain your reasons, and give an advanced apology for any toes you may have stepped on, at least initially. Remember, these users are part of the community, and not everyone gets along with everyone else 100% of the time, so having a past with warnings on it doesn't automatically mean someone has a history of "abuse".

Of course, not all templates are bad, there are many templates that are extremely useful when communicating with fellow editors, such as {{subst:AFDNote}}, {{subst:nn-warn}}, {{subst:DRVNote}}, or {{subst:Speedy-Warn}}. These templates provide the proper links and information, and are not considered "warnings", but rather informative notices, that are provided in template form for convenience, as they contain extended information that would be difficult to type out and link.

Other template notices[edit]

Test edits[edit]

Test edits are not considered vandalism, and should not be warned as such. If a user edits an article and includes "hi my name is bob!", that should be considered a test edit, and the appropriate notice would be:

{{subst:uw-test1|Article|Additional text}}


Advertisement is another type of issue you may run into. There are some external links that should be avoided on Wikipedia. The following template message is helpful if you find some of these issues:

{{subst:uw-advert1|Article|Additional text}}


Per Ownership of articles, you may come across editors who have created an article, and feel highly possessive about anyone else editing it. It may be they go so far as to revert any and all changes made by other editors. In this instance, it is appropriate to use a gentle template that lets them know about the policy regarding articles:

{{subst:uw-own1|Article|Additional text}}


Another issue that may crop up is users who are personally offended by some material, and may seek to remove it, even though its inclusion is valid. A helpful template to use on user talk pages in this case gives them an understanding that Wikipedia is not censored, and reminds them not to remove information they may personally find offending:

{{subst:uw-notcensored1|Article|Additional text}}

Page moves[edit]

If you find a user has moved a page with no explanation, and a look at the talk page gives no further clarity, there is a template that can be helpful to use:

{{subst:uw-move1|Article|Additional text}}

Caution should be taken with this area, as there are times that page moves may be perfectly valid, but the editor simply forgot to provide an edit summary.

Three revert rule[edit]

The Three revert rule prevents edit warring, and is an official Wikipedia policy. If you notice two or more users engaging in what seems to be an issue of edit wars, the following template notice is helpful:

{{subst:uw-3rr1|Article|Additional text}}

Article tags[edit]

There are a variety of templates for placement of tags on pages, from the Speedy delete template, to "cleanup" tags that request copy-editing, references, or an expert. There are also tags that question the neutrality of an article, validity of references, tense of the writing, and many other areas of concern. You can find the full, extensive list here.

You may come across some pages that are obviously inappropriate. It may be as simple as a kid creating a page with their name and school they attend, or someone putting up their resume (CV) or a blatant advertisement for a product/company. Generally, those pages will get tagged nearly immediately; there are people who review all new pages, and they have a good idea of what is acceptable and what isn't.

A good understanding of the Speedy delete policy, and a knowledge of articles for deletion policy is advised, but at the same time, editors are encouraged to be bold, so for the purposes of this essay, the CSD issue will be touched upon, but not analyzed in depth.

A complete list of the tags and templates for CSD issues can be found here and here.

If you're unsure if a CSD tag belongs on a new page, it probably doesn't. CSD is for unquestionable deletions. Consider using alternate options, such as {{notability}}, {{references}} or {{subst:prod}} (be sure to add a "reason" when using a prod template).[9]

If you find a the original creator of an article repeatedly removing CSD tags from obvious pages that don't belong, there is a template to notify them of that as well:

{{subst:uw-speedy1|Article|Additional text}}
which produces:

Information.svg Welcome to Wikipedia. Please do not remove speedy deletion tags from articles that you have created yourself, as you did with Test article. If you do not believe the article should be deleted, then please place {{hangon}} on the page (please do not remove any existing speedy deletion tag) and make your case on the article's talk page. Administrators will look at your reasoning before deciding what to do with the article. Additional text

Final thoughts[edit]

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When in doubt, please assume good faith. If in serious doubt, refer to someone more experienced than you. When in conflict, take deep breaths, remember this isn't personal, and do your best to remain neutral and unbiased.

Keep a page on your userspace for frequently needed reference pages. An excellent resource is located here. There are many times you'll find that you just can't remember what would be appropriate, or you're unsure of what course of action to take. That list covers most of the policies, guidelines, and procedures to assist editors with day to day tasks.

And finally, remember, you are only one person. You cannot do everything. And that's okay! What you do makes a difference, and you're helping the community grow, and keeping the site run smoothly. Be proud of yourself for that!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Indenting requires a colon (:)
  2. ^ Lamest edit wars
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2007). "Main entry: vandalism". Merriam-Webster, Inc. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  4. ^ Wikipedia:Vandalism
  5. ^ Vandalism types
  6. ^ Talk page guidelines
  7. ^ Threatening a block - Cecropia - Wikipedia bureaucrat
  8. ^ When to report a user to AIV
  9. ^ Prod templates must be substituted. Replace {{prod|reason}} with {{subst:prod|reason}}