Essay:Definition of vandalism

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Essay.svg This essay is an original work by CowHouse.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, this is original content, released under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or any later version. See RationalWiki:Copyrights.
Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

During the moderator election, I made the following comment:

One problem I noticed a while ago is that we need a clear definition of "vandalism", and as FuzzyCatPotato's essay points out, [o]ften, RatWiks ban people whose "vandalism" is that of altering the ideological tone of an article.

This is the current description of "unfunny vandalism" according to RationalWiki's blocking policy: "[a]dding stupid, boring, angry shite to a page". I think this is quite vague. Suggestions in the talk page are encouraged.

Unfunny vandalism[edit]

Users should receive a short block or vandal binning for repeated instances of unfunny vandalism. A single case of vandalism should simply be reverted.[note 1]

Unfunny vandalism is an edit that cannot be reasonably considered to be done in good faith. Edits are vandalism if they are in no way helpful. This includes:

  • Edits to an article that are inane/stupid, especially if they are unrelated to the article's subject (examples: [1] [2], [3], [4], links to irrelevant websites, song lyrics).
  • Adding nonsense or incoherent rants (Nonsense: [5], [6], [7]. Rants: [8]).
  • Edits spamming the same word, phrase, link, image or letter repeatedly (examples: [9], [10], [11]).
  • Replacing an entire page with an unrelated article (example).

Humorous vandalism[edit]

Blocks should not apply to edits designed to be humorous, usually with the anticipation that they will be reverted.

Not vandalism[edit]

These are edits that may be considered vandalism by others, but I do not think should be considered vandalism:

  • Frustrated editors removing criticism or whitewashing an article (examples: [12], [13]). Such edits are usually made in good faith.[note 2]
  • Altering the ideological tone of an article. This is almost always done in good faith, even if the editor can't resist insulting RationalWiki in the process (examples: [14], [15]).

Up to your discretion[edit]

  • Maliciously editing talk page comments of others users (example). Unless the edit is especially egregious, users should generally be warned before being blocked for this.
  • Blanking a page and writing a talk page comment to replace it (example).[note 3]


  1. Blocks should also be avoided for one-off instances of vandalism since users can accidentally vandalise pages.
  2. Besides, the editor is usually only concerned about one page in particular so page protection would deal with the issue.
  3. Ideally, we should tell them to take it to the talk page but warn them not to blank pages. Repeat offenders who have been warned can be deemed vandals.