Wikipedia:Counter-Vandalism Unit/Vandalism studies

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The Vandalism Studies project is a portion of the Counter-Vandalism Unit designated to conduct research related to unconstructive edits on Wikipedia. The project covers all vandalism on Wikipedia. If you'd like to get involved, please add your name to the Members list, below!


(in reverse chronological order)

Study Status
Study 3 (suggest ideas) ☒N Not done and not likely to be done
Obama article study (talk page) ☒N Stale
Study 2 (talk page) ☒N Not done and not likely to be done
Study 1 (talk page)  Done


Please add your name to the bottom of the list if you would like to be involved in the Vandalism Studies!

(This will also add you to our talk page mailing list – if you don't want to receive messages, please say so!)
List of members
  1. JohnLaurensAnthonyRamos333 (talk · contribs) – happy to help!
  2. Theopolisme (talk · contribs) – CVUA Co-coordinator
  3. Chip123456 (talk · contribs) – CVUA instructor
  4. Riley Huntley (talk · contribs) – CVUA instructor and SWMT member
  5. newroderick895 (talk · contribs) – I would like to help. (vandalism fighter.)
  6. Jake The Great 908 (talk · contribs) – I'll do my best!
  7. West.andrew.g (talk · contribs) STiki developer; academic research on anti-vandalism
  8. Matthewrbowker (talk · contribs) Willing to help
  9. C.S.Abishek (talk · contribs) Anti-Vandal-Martinet in the making
  10. Aetheling (talk · contribs) Planning to replicate and extend my earlier research.
  11. Remember (talk · contribs) Glad to see that someone is resurrecting this project. Not sure if I have a lot of time to help, but I will do what I can.
  12. Djjazzyb (talk · contribs) Willing to do anything I can to help out.
  13. MJ94 (talk · contribs) I'll help in any way possible.
  14. Achowat (talk · contribs)
  15. Zhaofeng Li (talk · contribs) I'll try my best to help.
  16. Activism1234 (talk · contribs) – recently joined the unit
  17. Coolg863 (talk · contribs) I would like to help out however I can.
  18. This lousy T-shirt (talk · contribs) You might need the help and insight that I can provide.  :)
  19. Adamstraw99 (talk · contribs) want to join
  20. Zaldax (talk · contribs) I wouldn't mind helping out.
  21. Uploadvirus (talk · contribs) Research ... YUMMY!
  22. Ace of Spades (talk · contribs)
  23. Ásvaldr Petia Viator Dara (talk · contribs)
  24. Anti-Quasar (talk · contribs) I would like to help out that I can...
  25. Arun sharma 101 (talk · contribs) I will be happy if I can do something
  26. Harsh_2580 (talk · contribs) want to join :)
  27. Electriccatfish2 (talk · contribs)
  28. Thomas85753 (talk · contribs) I'll help in any way I can! I would not like to receive messages.
  29. Torreslfchero (talk · contribs)
  30. Egeymi (talk · contribs) I would to join
  31. Mdann52 (talk · contribs) CVUA instructor
  32. Joeyjimenez (talk · contribs) I would like to join
  33. Juristicweb (talk · contribs) I'd like to join
  34. Cyrax Cyborg (talk · contribs) I love to combat vandalism
  35. Ioscat (talk · contribs) Used to create pointless pages, wish I never had. Wan't to help out now and stop vandals and trolls :)
  36. Mojoworker (talk · contribs)
  37. Altaïr (talk · contribs) Of course, it's gonna benefit Wikipedia in the end. Happy to sign up.
  38. Stausifr (talk · contribs)
  39. AdventurousSquirrel (talk · contribs) I've been working to combat vandalism where I can for a while now so it makes sense to join on here.
  40. Cskcsk (talk · contribs) Count me in!
  41. AlexJFox (talk · contribs) I'm in!
  42. Vertium (talk · contribs) Sounds like fun!
  43. xtraelv (talk · contribs)
  44. Jr_johnstone (talk · contribs)
  45. NitRav (talk · contribs) Reporting Sir!
  46. Sutton Shin (talk · contribs) I HATE trolls.
  47. Sahirshah (talk · contribs)
  48. kirananils (talk · contribs) I would like to join
  49. CHCSPrefect (talk · contribs) I made this account to stop Vandalism coming out of my school's IP Address, this is what this account was made for, something like this is where I belong!
  50. Hairrr (talk · contribs) Of course!
  51. Shaun9876 (talk · contribs) Lets Go!
  52. AJackl (talk · contribs) This is important...
  53. Rushbugled13 (talk · contribs) I wish to help maintain the reliability of Wikipedia as a resource, and vandalism is a large problem with respect to reliability.
  54. Pratyya Ghosh (talk · contribs)
  55. Stainedclasssinner (talk · contribs)
  56. SergeantHippyZombie (talk · contribs) I like seeing funny wandalism and then erasing it.
  57. Spindocter123 (talk · contribs) I will be willing to help out in any way that I can!
  58. Epicgenius (talk · contribs) Of course, I don't really like vandalism in the first place...
  59. Param Mudgal (talk · contribs) Willing to help.
  60. MusikAnimal (talk · contribs) Primarily using edit filters to study patterns/trends
  61. Asdklf; (talk · contribs)
  62. Horse Dancing (talk · contribs) Specially interested in vandalism to Native American and history topics
  63. William2001 (talk · contribs) I will be happy to join and help out!
  64. JustBerry (talk · contribs)
  65. ZLEA (talk · contribs)
  66. Dan Koehl (talk · contribs) Fighting vandalism with STiki and Huggle.
  67. Abelmoschus Esculentus (talk · contribs) Why not?#
  68. Hairrr (talk · contribs) Of course!
  69. Coryphantha (talk · contribs) It's my pleasure to be a part of this.
  70. CommanderOzEvolved (talk · contribs) I'll alert the researchers on interesting events. Also using WP:Twinkle.
  71. The Living love (talk · contribs) I would like to help.
  72. Meshvogel (talk · contribs) doing academic research on edit filters and vandalism.
  73. Path slopu (talk · contribs) like to counter vandalism
  74. AnUnnamedUser (talk · contribs)
  75. Andrew Base (talk · contribs) — CVUA instructor.
  76. Josephine W. (talk · contribs)
  77. The4lines (talk · contribs) I would like to help
  78. SuperGhostPrimus (talk · contribs) I would like to help.
  79. JaneciaTaylor (talk) I would like to help.
  80. Asension (talk · contribs) Glad to help.
  81. ItzJustLucky (talk · contribs) Planning to use twinkle on the way.
  82. MrAgentSochi (talk · contribs) We love Anti Vandals
  83. Suriname0 (talk · contribs) academic researcher and interested in subtle vandalism.
  84. Pink Saffron (talk · contribs) Interested in Vandalism studies

Open tasks[edit]

  • Begin formulating ideas and topics to research for "Study 3" (discuss now!)
  • Discuss what research needs to be conducted and what would be good metrics to gather.
  • Add thoughts/contribute to any of the completed studies. (Study 1, Study 2, Obama article study)

Research questions[edit]

These are some preliminary questions may stimulate future studies. Not all questions may be answerable, so think of it more as a brainstorming section.

Analysis of vandalism
  • Who is responsible for vandalism? What do vandals want? What are the demographics of the vandal population?
  • What proportion of vandals are on dynamic IP addresses, and hence very hard to block?
  • Are IP edits ever responsible for improving a featured article while on the Main Page? (See also essay IPs are human too.)
  • What motivates people to vandalize articles? How can we minimize the satisfaction they get from doing it? (See: The motivation of a vandal)
  • Do vandals just choose another article to edit instead if an article is semi-protected? How can we test this?
  • Why do certain articles attract more vandalism than others?
  • What types of vandalism are there? What message are they trying to get across? Why do vandals not fully realise that their actions are futile?
  • What sort of financial gains can be made from using Wikipedia to advertise – are spammers just wasting their time, or can it actually be profitable? Are our anti-spam measures adequate?
  • What is the overall contribution from schools and universities? Are they worth having? Do universities contribute less vandalism than schools or are all ages equally immature?
  • How does the rate of vandalism vary throughout the day?
  • Would there still be problems with vandalism if unregistered editing was blocked? How can we test this hypothesis? Certain categories could be experimentally altered to block unregistered editors, but then vandals could just choose an article that wasn't protected. We would have to block all IP editing, which would certainly be controversial, even just to gather a small sample of data. The blocks would also have to allow newly registered users to edit, otherwise, there wouldn't be time to create an account and then wait 4 days. Perhaps we could use a comparative method by doing the experiments on another wiki instead?
  • Quantitatively, how are levels of vandalism affected (both in terms of percentage of edits and number of edits) when there is external attention draw to an article (e.g. Slashdot or The Colbert Report). Do levels of vandalism return to normal (e.g. in elephant) in all cases? How quickly?
  • How much of vandalism is self-reverted?
  • How do the levels of reverted edits compare between articles of different quality (e.g. GA vs. start class)
  • How often are good faith edits labeled as vandalism, either a) mistakenly and through misinterpretation of policy or b) maliciously?
  • How long does vandalism typically remain visible?
  • What level of vandalism is considered acceptable before semi-protection or some other measure is needed? How should the 'level of vandalism' be measured? (See:A more explicit semi-protection policy for articles subject to vandalism)
  • What impact does vandalism have on the reputation of Wikipedia?
  • How often are good faith editors driven away after getting mislabeled as vandals?
  • How often are good faith editors driven away because an article is vandalized?
  • How much time do editors waste cleaning up vandalism?
Counter measures
  • How effective are bots in curtailing vandalism?
  • Warnings:
    • Are editors any more likely to continue or desist vandalizing if warned by a bot instead of a person?
    • How often are vandals warned on their talk page after committing an offense?
    • What are the costs and benefits, and hence overall utility, of warning users? How do users respond to warnings?
  • Who is responsible for reverting vandalism?
  • What effects does semi-protection have on the level of vandalism of protected articles?
  • What strategies can we employ to catch vandalism quickly?
    • How can we catch most of it at recent changes?
    • How can we establish a situation where almost every article has someone responsible for maintaining it? Is this even a good idea? (See: Ownership of articles)
  • How good are editors at reverting vandalism? That is, is it reverted properly, or is it often dealt with poorly, e.g. removing a whole paragraph that the vandal has simply altered in meaning.
  • What happens to vandalism levels when edits won't show up in the current version of the article – a trial of something like stable versions, where the vandal cannot vandalize the actual article people see, or something functionally similar, is needed. Perhaps a small section (e.g. all articles in a certain category) could be tested out.
  • How well do flagged revisions work in practice?

Wikipedia vandalism studies outside of this project[edit]