Wikipedia:Disruptive changing

Civility, Maturity, Responsibility

Show the door to trolls, vandals, and wiki-anarchists, who, if permitted, would waste your time and create a poisonous atmosphere here.

Disruptive changing is when many of a user's changes put together stop other users from improving pages or cause other effects that stop people from achieving our purpose of building an encyclopedia.



Wikipedia works because it is a very open place that anyone can change. However, that openness sometimes means that people who come here to promote themselves, a point of view or original research find it easy to do so. While different viewpoints are welcome when backed up by reliable sources, and constructive users occasionally make mistakes, sometimes a Wikipedia user creates long-term problems by persistently changing a page or set of pages with information which can not be backed up by reliable sources or insisting on giving too much attention to a view that is not held by most people.

Put together, disruptive changes harm Wikipedia by making it less reliable as a reference source. They also harm Wikipedia because productive users might want to stop changing Wikipedia when they spend energy trying to improve Wikipedia and see disruptive people go unpunished.

It is very important to recognize patterns of disruptive changing. Our policy on multiple reverts already acknowledges that one act, by itself, may not violate policy, but when it is part of a series of acts that form a pattern it can still violate policy. Disruptive changes may not occur all in the course of one 24-hour period, and may not be the same thing done over and over. This does not have to mean that the user's changes are any less disruptive to the project.

Disruptive users may seek to make their behavior look like productive changing. Certain marks separate them from productive users. When discussion does not help the problem and when a group of fair users from outside the argument agree (through requests for comment or similar means), any more behaviour of the kind that was being disruptive can lead to blocks through the administrators' noticeboard or to more serious disciplinary action through the dispute resolution process. In extreme cases, this could include a site ban by the agreement of the community.

The three revert rule, if observed, must not be used as a defense against action taken to enforce this guideline. As stated in that policy:

This does not imply that reverting three times or fewer is acceptable. In excessive cases, people can be blocked for change warring or disruption even if they do not revert more than three times per day.

How disruptive users avoid getting spotted


Disruptive changing is against our policies, yet certain users have managed to be disruptive for many reasons:

  • Their changes are spread over a long period of time; in this case, no single change may be clearly disruptive, but the overall pattern is disruptive.
  • Their changes are mainly found on talk-pages, such disruption may not directly harm an article, but it often prevents other users from agreeing on how to improve an article
  • Their changes often avoid gross breaches of civility, especially by avoiding personal attacks, even though they interfere with changes that are meant to improve the article
  • Their changes remain limited to a small number of pages that very few people watch or spread over a wide number of pages.

Signs of disruptive changing


This guideline concerns gross, obvious, and repeated violations of basic policies, not subtle questions about which reasonable people may disagree. A disruptive user is a user who:

  • Is tendentious: continues changing an article or group of articles in pursuit of a certain point for an extended time despite opposition from one or more other users. Tendentious changing does not consist only of adding material; some tendentious users engage in disruptive deletions as well.
  • Cannot satisfy Wikipedia:Verifiability; fails to cite sources, cites unencyclopedic sources, misrepresents reliable sources, or manufactures original research.
  • Engages in "hostile cite-tagging"; uses a "scattershot" method of adding [source?] tags to an article and announces an intention to delete large portions of the article if other users do not immediately find citations to support the material thus tagged. In egregious examples, proper citations already appear at the end of a paragraph and the cite-tagger inserts the tag at the end of each sentence within the paragraph.
  • Does not engage in consensus building:
  • repeatedly disregards other users' questions or requests for explanations concerning changes or objections to changes;
  • repeatedly disregards other users' explanations for their changes.
  • Rejects community input: resists moderation and/or requests for comment, continuing to change pages in pursuit of a certain point despite an opposing consensus from impartial users and/or administrators.

In addition, such users may:

  • Campaign to drive away productive contributors: act in spite of policies and guidelines such as Wikipedia:Civility,Wikipedia:No personal attacks, Wikipedia:Ownership of articles, engage in sockpuppetry/meatpuppetry, etc. on a low level that might not exhaust the general community's patience, but that operates toward an end of exhausting the patience of productive rules-abiding users on certain articles.

Distinguished from productive changing


Users often post minority views to articles. This fits within Wikipedia's mission so long as the contributions are verifiable and do not give undue weight. The burden of evidence rests with the user who initially provides the information or wishes the information to remain.

From Wikipedia:Neutral point of view:

NPOV says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should represent each viewpoint based on how much is it supported. Now an important qualification: Articles that compare views need not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views, and may not include tiny-minority views at all.

Verifiable and noteworthy viewpoints include protoscience as published through reputable peer-reviewed journals. Users may reasonably present active public disputes or controversies which are documented by reliable sources. This exemption does not apply to settled disputes; for example, the insertion of claims that the Sun revolves around the Earth would not be appropriate today; even though this issue was active controversy in the time of Galileo.

Sometimes well-meaning users may be misled by fringe publications or make honest mistakes when representing a citation. Such people may reasonably defend their positions for a short time, then concede the issue when they encounter better evidence or impartial feedback. Articles are acceptable that document widely discredited hypotheses (and/or their advocates) that have an organized following, such as the Flat Earth Society. However, claims that the Earth is flat would be inappropriate in articles such as Earth or geography, even if presented as a minority opinion.

In order to protect against frivolous accusations and other potential exploitation, no user shall be eligible for a disruptive user block until after a consensus of neutral parties has agreed that a user has behaved in a disruptive manner. This consensus can be achieved through requests for comment, third opinion, wikiquette alert, or similar means. This does not include users whose changes constitute violations of probation or other change restrictions, who may be blocked for such changes independent of this guideline.

Dealing with disruptive users


Following is a model for remedies, though these steps do not necessarily have to be done in this sequence. In some extreme circumstances a rapid report to WP:AN may be the best first step, in others, a fast track to a community ban may be in order. But in general, most situations can benefit from a gradual escalation, with the hope that each step may help resolve the problem, such that further steps are not needed:

  • First unencyclopedic entry by what appears to be a disruptive user.
  • Assume good faith. Do not attack the author who you suspect is disruptive. However, revert uncited or unencyclopedic material. Use a change summary that describes the problem in non-inflammatory terms. Stay very civil. Post to the talk page asking for discussion and/or sources. Consult Do not bite the newcomers, and be aware that you may be dealing with someone who is new and confused, rather than a problem user.
  • If the user reverts back:
  • Revert again if they haven't responded at the talk page. Ensure that a clear explanation for the difference in opinion is posted by you at the article talk page. Refer to this thread in your change summary. If possible, suggest compromises at the talkpage.
  • If the reverting continues, and they are inserting unsourced information:
  • Revert, and request an administrator via Wikipedia:Administrator's noticeboard (AN). Provide diffs of the multiple reverts by the tendentious user. Keep your post short (no more than 250-500 words), well-diffed (multiple diffs showing evidence), and focus on user conduct issues (the tendentious user is not engaging in discussion/is inserting unsourced information/is ignoring talk page consensus). Try to avoid going into detailed article content issues at AN, as it may reduce the likelihood that an admin will understand the complaint. Note: To be most successful at AN, your own history must be clean. At all times, stay civil, and avoid engaging in multiple reverts yourself.
  • If the tendentious user is using sources, but if the sources are bad or misinterpreted:
  • Suggest Mediation.
  • If mediation is rejected, unsuccessful, and/or the problems continue:
  • Notify the user you find disruptive, on their user talkpage.
    Include diffs of the problematic behavior. Use a section name and/or change summary to clearly indicate that you view their behavior as disruptive, but avoid being unnecessarily provocative. Remember, you're still trying to de-escalate the situation. If other users are involved, they should post their own comments too, to make it clear that the community disapproves of the tendentious behavior.
  • Tendentious user continues reverting.
  • Assuming that it's one user against many at this point, continue reverting the tendentious user. If they exceed three reverts in a 24-hour period, file a report at WP:AN (but be careful you don't do excessive reverts yourself!). However, one tendentious user cannot maintain problematic content in the face of multiple other users reverting their changes.
  • If the tendentious user is not violating 3RR, or there aren't enough users involved to enforce Wikipedia policies:
  • File another AN report.
  • If for some reason administrators do not respond:
  • File a Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User conduct, but only if you have multiple diffs to show that you have tried to address the problem via other means, and you have at least one other user who has attempted to resolve the problem, and will help certify the RfC.
  • User continues to ignore consensus of the RfC.

It is important to be as patient and kind as possible. Techniques such as reverting need to be combined with sincere efforts to turn the user toward productive work. Only when users show themselves unwilling or unable to set issues aside and work harmoniously with others, for the benefit of the project, should they be regarded as irredeemable, and politely but firmly removed.

Wiki philosophies


See also - meta:Conflicting Wikipedia philosophies (try to look at your actions and actions of others from a philosophical point of view)