Wikipedia:Spam event horizon

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The Spam Event Horizon is a stage in the development of the external links section of an article. The development goes something like this:

  1. Sources, which are reliable sources of information used in the creation of the article
  2. Authorities on the subject, such as major organizations with an interest
  3. Points of view starting to creep in, minority dissent from the authorities and other monographs
  4. Spam for commercial providers in related industries
  5. Vanispamcruft links to www.myspace.com/randomuser/randomthoughts.htm added by their authors because "I think that too"
  6. the Spam Event Horizon where the number of links is so long that no realistic attempt is made to assess individual links on a continuing basis for relevance or indeed existence.
  7. Revamping to rid the article of extraneous cruft, consisting of one of:
    1. a radical return to Sources, Authorities, or Points of view,
    2. replacement of content and re-entry into Spam and the following primary stages of evolution
    3. escalation to the Powers That Be, which begets either of:
      1. educated Dismissal
      2. the rare Change in Wikipedia policy

Once an article has passed the Spam Event Horizon, the number of links to commercial providers (sometimes several links to different pages on the same site), geocities/myspace/whatever sites, blogs, POV rants, 404 Myspace pages and other cruft begins to spiral out of control. When the external links section is broken down into subsections, you know something is seriously wrong. Many of these links are clumsy attempts at search engine optimization, others are simply added because, after all, if everybody else has linked their site, why shouldn't I?

As an example, here is the external links section from Fathers' rights as of 31 December, 2005. You won't persuade me that this is anything other than mad linkspamming.

Once an external links section moves past the Spam Event Horizon, any further additions to it are overwhelmingly likely to be spam.

Remedies[edit]

The best remedy is to evaluate each link one at a time. However, the reward... a perfect external link section... is sometimes not worth the hours of in depth investigation that it might take. If you do notice some useful external links in the grouping, an even better approach is to convert into references those that actually back up the factual content of the article, and to delete the rest. In other words, keep the links that are actually referenced in in-line citations within the article and delete the rest.

Another good option, (and one requiring less effort) is to remove all the obviously commercial or promotional links to the article's talkpage: any link to a page offering to sell something or attempting to persuade you toward a point of view. These may be useful and could assist editors in improving the article.

The solution that takes the least effort and the one with most risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater is to simply delete the whole thing and start anew keeping a strict eye on each new addition and applying WP:EL and WP:SPAM liberally. It's not always the best option, but it can often be the only viable solution. Be careful however about possibly starting an edit war. A more tactful method is called for in those situations.

See also[edit]