This contains material intended to be humorous. It should not be taken seriously or literally.
One of the biggest problems on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects is vandalism. By this, we mean the introduction of non-sequiturs into articles and pages promoting their product, (lack of) typing skills, opinion, genitalia size, sports team or, indeed, the sexual orientation of their friends. Vandalism constitutes a serious weakening of a wiki's moral fibre.
Vandalism is an important issue; it drains literally minutes of valuable time each day from more dedicated contributors, who could be spending that time in more productive pursuits, such as Minesweeper or watching educational videos. Several suggestions have been made to identify types of editors that are more likely to commit vandalism than others; see Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles for one such idea.
The problem with most of the suggested blocking strategies is that they don't accurately identify vandals. It is apparent that we need to analyze content of vandalism edits to understand who vandals are. This is the only way we can get a fine-grained blocking mechanism that allows legitimate editors to work with pages, while preventing those most likely to vandalize from having access to our system.
Types of vandals
A systematic analysis of vandalized pages on Wikipedia has turned up the following six categories of potential vandals:
- Friends of gays. The most active group of vandals is, unfortunately, overly proud friends and acquaintances of gays and lesbians. While being proud of one's gay acquaintances isn't necessarily a negative characteristic, Wikipedia is not the place to publicly announce a friend's sexual orientation or proclivities. Some examples:
- "BRANDON IS GAY"
- "Judy Anderson is a lesbian!"
- Typing students. Many instances of vandalism show the telltale sign of typing students abusing Wikipedia to practice their home-row keyboard technique. Although editing wiki pages is an educational pursuit, we are not here to provide a blank white page for prospective stenographers. Typical examples:
- "sad fag had gas"
- This type of vandalism should be undone immediately, or Wikipedia will run out of these letters. However, some of these users may in fact be pets or babies with access to keyboards, and it may be important to grok their attempted contributions.
- The curious. Another community of vandals are curious people. These individuals ignore the sandbox and misuse the main namespace of Wikipedia to investigate their questions about wiki in general and web browsers in particular. This is the wrong forum for such experimentation because, as we all know, Wikipedia is for people who are already certain about everything. Some examples of vandalism by the curious:
- "Does this really work?"
- "TEST TEST TEST TEST"
- "Just seeing if this actually works."
- "Why am I allowed to write here?"
- Critics. People who hate things shouldn't be allowed within ten kilometers of the edit button. Thanks to the NPOV policy, Wikipedians can't have opinions, even outside Wikipedia; otherwise, they might develop a habit of having a point of view, which is evil. Examples of critical vandalism include:
- "THIS FILM SUCKS DICK."
- "CLOUD IS DUMB!"
- "JAR JAR BINKS IS THE WORST CHARACTER SINCE QUI-GON JINN...OH WAIT..."
- "this book is stupid and i hate reading it cuz i have a test on it tomorrow"
- A subcategory of the above category are devoted to providing similar helpful criticism about Wikipedia and other projects. Examples include:
- "Wikipedia is fake!"
- "Wikipedia sucks 'cause anyone can edit it"
- Men with big penises. There seems to be a proliferation of editors who have enormous equipment. Some edit in the third person, so it's hard to tell if the editor is, himself, bragging, or if it might be his girlfriend, or just somebody who has been impressed while changing in the shower room. While having the largest penis in the world may be something to see a doctor about, there is nothing that anyone at Wikipedia can do to assist you. That is, until such time that someone writes an article on penis reduction techniques, which, if the number of people with alleged gigantic penises is any indication, will be very popular and widely read and acted upon.
- Cheerleaders. Pom-pom wielding young ladies tend to proudly announce how awesome they are, as well as their team, their school, and their friends, as if they're mistaking Wikipedia for their mega phone. They also like to add things like smiley faces and hearts to make articles look prettier. Some examples:
- Englewood is awesome because Bailey and Jen live there!
- Go Pirates!!!!!! ♥ <3 :) =]
- Katryna Fedoryk - Best cheerleader in the world (added to a list of notable alumni)
- The Miami Dolphins are going to pwn the Super Bowl this year!!!!!!
Some Wikimedians have postulated that these statements are made by immature childish editors who use "gay" and similar as a derogatory term. Any Wikimedian who thinks about this a little longer will realise that this is extremely unlikely, as being gay is not a negative qualification. A more reasonable conclusion is thus that the writers of these phrases are merely friends of the subject, who are so proud of the sexual orientation of the subjects they feel the need to shout it from the rooftops.
Note that almost no vandals write "I AM VERY GAY" or "I, Anita Flugelhorn, appreciate a good roll in the hay every once in a while with another woman." The rare exception to this rule is those who self-identify on other people's user pages. However, it can usually be inferred that gays and lesbians are exceptionally good Wikipedia contributors, and only some of their very proud but misguided acquaintances feel the need to abuse articles to broadcast their friends' sexual orientation.
It should be apparent that we need to, at all costs, prevent people in these six groups from having edit access to Wikipedia. For this reason, the following process for preventing access is proposed.
- Prospective editors must submit an application on an online form to get access privileges. The form fields will include their name and home mailing address.
- Each prospective editor will receive a copy of a form letter (see below) through regular post.
- The prospective editor will fill out the form letter, sign it, get it notarized, and return it by mail to the Wikimedia Foundation.
- After careful review, the editor's user account will be activated and they can then edit pages.
A draft of the form letter follows:
- I, the undersigned, do hereby declare that, to the best of my knowledge:
- 1. I already know how to type, or if not, I am not currently learning to type, nor do I plan to learn in the near future.
- 2. I am not curious about the way things work. I do not tinker with or take apart machines or other apparatus to see how they function. I never pull up curtains, check out strange noises, experiment, tinker, hack, or otherwise show curiosity or a quest for knowledge.
- 3. I can assure the reader that I have no opinions whatsoever, even on things outside of Wikipedia.
- 4. I have attached a nude photo of myself demonstrating that I do not have a penis, or that I have a penis length of no more than two standard deviations above the mean.
- 5. I have never been a cheerleader, and I do not associate with any cheerleaders in any way.
- 6. I myself may or may not be homosexual, but I do not know anyone else who is gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or otherwise queer. Additionally, I have no friends who fall under the following categories: savants, female dogs, people who tend to lose a lot, the mentally handicapped.
- Signature: _______________
- Name (please print): ________________
- As witnessed this day, ___________ , by _________________ .
Preventing these six groups from using Wikipedia should cut down vandalism to zero. However, the main problem with the above proposal is that editors' non-membership in the groups is self-reported. There is no way to tell if the people are lying or not. Particularly dangerous would be curious people, who would have a strong desire to fill out and send in the letter, just to see what happens.
For this reason, a phase II stage of the project would be to hire private investigators to do background checks on prospective editors. These private eyes could look for clues that would indicate membership in one of the above groups, including but not limited to:
- Mavis Beacon typing software
- Disassembled computers on editors' garage workbench
- Copies of The Art of Being Right or other tools of the opinionated debaters
- Measurement tools in the bathroom
- Pom-poms, cheerleading uniforms, copies of American Cheerleader or Debbie Does Dallas
- Any item of clothing that might be used during a pride parade or copies of Grey's Anatomy
Although the cost may be high, this phase II effort is the only way to truly eliminate vandalism once and for all.