Forum:Counter-vandalism misconceptions; a request for clarification.

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Forums: Yew Grove > Counter-vandalism misconceptions; a request for clarification.
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This thread was archived on 10 June 2010 by Aburnett.

It has come to my attention recently that the counter-vandalism aspect of the RuneScape Wiki could use some serious work. Yes, the community does some of the right things, but there are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings. Something else that is rather rediculous is that most people follow the rules because they are there, and don't know why they are there. I would like to request that I be allowed to clarify some of these things for the community, and expand on policies to make these things clearer. I do have considerable experience in this area, and while I'm not perfect, I should be able to clarify some things.

I would like to start of by saying how great most of the policies are on the RuneScape Wiki. Despite the fact that the majority of them are copied/modified from Wikipedia, they serve very well and help to keep this wiki doing smoothly. Unfortunately, because the policies were transfered without too much modification for the slightly different environment of the RuneScape Wiki, there has been some misuse of what the policies were originally meant for. I'll do this in sections, to make things easier.

Assume Good Faith

This basic policy is something that is really essencial for the smooth flowing of the wiki. When you assume good faith, you assume that if an editor has done something wrong, that they didn't mean to do that. There are some misconceptions in regards to this, which I will attempt to address.

First of all, any edit could have been done in good faith. As such, all vandals should be warned. If the person repeats whatever it was that they were doing after a warning, then we know that they weren't editing in good faith, and can take action against them. When we revert vandalism, but don't leave a warning, then we assume that the editor in question did whatever it was intentionally, and hence break this policy.

When to undo, and when to rollback

When you revert an edit, there is some confusion about what edits you can rollback, and which you should undo. As a general rule of thumb, one should not rollback obviously good faith edits, or any edits that do not show obvious damaging of an article's content. This is misued a lot, as I found out on my talk page. Because of such, I will clarify below.

I would like to take the time to again state that any edit can be in good faith, even the blanking of a page. I know some editors, more than one in fact, that have accidentally blanked multiple pages while trying to edit them. The rule of not rollbacking good faith edits is great as a general rule, but it is really not specific enough. What is used on Wikipedia and other large wikis, and what should be expanded to here is that any edit which does not obviously damage the content of the wiki should not be rolled back.

I have heard more than one person say that we should undo these edits, and leave a custom summary, to explain to the user that made them what they did wrong, and even keep new editors editing. This view is not correct; first of all, new editors don't know how to use an article's history (for the most part). Second of all, that is what warnings are for. Rather, a custom undo summary is and should be used to explain to other experienced editors what was wrong with the revision, and explain why you reverted it. That is why it is not required to undo an obviously unproductive edit; if the IP removed a paragraph or even a sentance, then anyone looking would be able to see why the edit was reverted.

I'm sorry, I'm writing this from school and have run out of time. I will expand on this when I get back. For now, please discuss. Thanks, Ajraddatz Talk 18:29, May 18, 2010 (UTC)


Comment I don't really understand what you are asking here. I will not warn vandals who insert profanities and assume that it is good faith. any edit could have been done in good faith. As such, all vandals should be warned. I also understand the difference between rollback and undo....I am just wondering what point you are trying to get across. 16px‎AtlandyBeer.png 18:35, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

Oppose? So you're saying that even a vandal that inserts something like DICK into an article, or 50 pornographic pictures, that it 'could' have been an AGF edit? And yes, I have seen edits that have inserted ~50 porn pictures from ImageShack. ⁓ Hello71 21:08, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

Obviously not, RS:UCS. --Aburnett(Talk) 21:23, May 18, 2010 (UTC)
Like he said, and why are you opposing this? I haven't made a proposal yet. Ajraddatz Talk 21:48, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - While I still wait for more clarification on what you intend to do with this forum, I noticed last night about the simple (yet erroneous comment) edit to your talk page regarding [an] unspecified revert(s). This trend of biting the messenger instead of using "undo" seemed like beating a dead horse. I agree with when to undo and revert, although I tend to revert as I patrol RC from time to time where I should undo, but when I do another editor reverts. Now we should ask what's wrong with not leaving an edit summary for a revert (seriously?). If we must stress this point, this should be rolled to all edits made on this Wiki, not just reverts. Maybe I'm off by a bit, but this change of hands by the few who want to see a real summary are in the clouds. To me, the requirement of an edit summary for every revert (in some editor's eyes) is too restrictive, how would anybody enforce this fictitious rule, and the throwing around of policies bugs me to no end. If I am rambling, I'm sorry but I would like to see less policy debacles and naming and what should be common sense. Ryan PM 21:22, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - When you edit a page, you should to preview it before saving... if not, then at least check over the article after you save before moving on. To be honest, I rarely preview my edits, but I nearly always glance over the article after saving to make sure I didn't do anything unintentional. Unless you're a careless editor, I don't understand how you can accidentally blank a page, especially when the page is clearly shown to you after you save. If you do happen to notice that you blanked the page, then it's easy enough to see and fix it.  Tien  21:29, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

No, especially with the new RTE, in some cases you just can't. Also, speaking of the new RTE, that actually accounts for a lot of weird formatting edits :S Ajraddatz Talk 21:51, May 18, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - I disagree with your interpretation of RS:AGF. Assuming good faith does not explicitly say nor even imply that all vandals should or must be warned. The policy was constructed to control tempers on the Wiki. The internet is a prime example of communication without the proper ability to convey tone or to read one's body language. As a result, just like your actions in a car (even if made non-maliciously) may fuel road rage, so a user's edit or comment could be completely innocent and yet people would read it as inflammatory, vandalism, or worse. AGF tries to counter that affect. It is not there to establish a policy of a one-warning system, even if it may provide support for such a system. I understand you think exceptions exist under RS:UCS, but if that's the case, why come here and specifically say all vandals should be warned. If you look at the AGF, the last sentence is: If you have spotted obvious vandalism by any user, this rule does not apply. Endasil (Talk) @  02:56, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Just to expand, I think it's important for people to stop getting it in their head that assuming good faith and blocking are incompatible. While it is virtuous to be scrupulous with handing out blocks, most blocks that we give out (to IPs anyway) are the Wiki equivalent of a slap on the wrist. They're usually a few days at the most for a first offense; less if we think there's a chance they acted in good faith. That's corrective punishment, not retributive or even protective punishment. When you spank your kid for wandering out on a busy street, it's not because you think that they had malicious, evil intent. It's because you need to teach them to correct their ways, or else they'll get themselves killed. It's corrective in nature. Myself, I agree that most editors here are of sound enough mind that a warning should correct their behaviour as well as a short block. I don't block people for this reason in general. But I can see its merit at times. Endasil (Talk) @  03:04, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - As for rollback vs undo, I'm not sure how I feel about what you've said there. You discredit the view that an undo summary helps to explain to the user who made the original edit what they did wrong. I don't think you should be so hasty there. True, new editors don't typically know how to use the article history. But it's usually the very next thing they learn to use after they see that one of their edits is no longer in the article. They want to know why, and so they go looking to see how, and they come across the revision history. So I think you dismiss that viewpoint without merit and would like a little more justification on your part. Endasil (Talk) @  03:11, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Question - Could someone please explain to me or link me to some where with an explanation of the differences between a rollback and an undo? I know pretty much what an undo is, I do a couple of them a day, but I am quite in the dark about a rollback. Thanks. xScoobsx Talk Contribs 04:03, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Rollback is a fast undo which does not usually allow for a custom summary. Ajraddatz Talk 04:07, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
Thank you. That clears up some confusion. xScoobsx Talk Contribs 04:17, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
I say not usually; one can use a js script that allows it to when required. Ajraddatz Talk 04:19, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - Concerning Assuming Good Faith, I think it's important that we give ALL vandals a chance, no matter of their edit. We have different warnings that can be used dependent on the severity of their offense. They might come here thinking it's a playground where you can create heaps of articles and edit everything to make it suit their needs (kind of like 4chan), not understanding the hard work that goes into this. If someone added ~50 inappropriate images to an article, I'd Warn4 (final) straight away. Again would be 1 week. From personal experience, most vandals stop after their first warning. And about Endasil's comparison of a short block to a slap on the wrist, I think it's a little different. A block actually lasts an extended period of time, whereas a slap is over in 0.5 seconds (pain in 5 seconds). If a Good Faith editor is blocked, they may lose interest and never come back again, even if it was a 10 minute block or something. If I came to a new site, made a mistake and got blocked for 3 days, I personally wouldn't add it to my bookmarks and pop back later on.

Secondly, about the Rollback/Undo comment, I think it's very important to undo rather than rollback. I ALWAYS supply an edit summary (usually a personal one rather than from the list), as I hate it when I'm searching through an edit history looking for a change and can't find it. When you see "Reverted to last revision..blabla....", it should be a signal that the edit was obvious vandalism being reverted. My 2c. Chicken7 >talk 06:43, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Either you believe there are exceptions to a warning under UCS, or you don't. If you don't, then you're saying that inserting porn into the page could be in good faith. That's plain naive. If you do believe there are exceptions, then it's a matter of drawing a line of where to assume good faith. And I believe we're better off without a line, since in my experience the sysops have done a damned fine job knowing where that line is. But cite some examples and maybe I can comment on specific actions taken. Endasil (Talk) @  06:56, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
By the way, I think a lot of people have a blatantly wrong perception of what "good faith" means. It's defined as "having honest intentions." Nobody that inserts porn has honest intentions. What Chicken, and other people are taking "good faith" to mean is "will they, given a second chance, be reformed?" That has nothing to do with good faith, and does not fall under AGF. Endasil (Talk) @  07:00, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
On that porn example, I stated that it could've been a misconception on what the aim of this site is. There are sites (and wikis) out there that allow you to do and post absolutely anything, so they may have mistook this for another one detailing about RuneScape. I'm not passionate about the subject, so am not going to stand up for this rigorously. Chicken7 >talk 07:45, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - I'm going to finish this soon, but first to clarify; this forum was made as a request for clarification. Each member of the community has a different perception on these issues, and I think that we all need to find a middle ground. I'm not saying that all of my views are correct, but rather calling on my experience in this area to try and clarify some things. What I want to come out of this forum is a clear set of guidelines defining good and bad faith edits, a policy on warning vandals, etc. All of these things have been brought up (multiple) times before, but I think that we can all agree on requiring some sort of set "thing" in this area. Ajraddatz Talk 20:50, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

I don't think we do need a clear set of guidelines. Or rather, I might be OK with a clear set of guidelines but don't think it's feasible to create them. If you could teach a computer to act as sysop we would have a bot dealing with vandals. The fact of the matter is that it's all too often a judgement call applying experience and common sense. Those aren't something that can be codified, at least in my experience. Trying to do so often leaves sysops powerless to help the Wiki or unfairly removes the human aspect of what we do. Endasil (Talk) @  03:07, May 20, 2010 (UTC)

Question - What is obvious vandalism? How much content needs to be removed, or categories, or whatever for the edit to be considered undisputable vandalism? That is one thing that really needs sorting :S Ajraddatz Talk 20:50, May 19, 2010 (UTC)

It goes back to RS:UCS, changing the price from 19100000 to 189370000 should not warrant a block, as something like that could very clearly be a typo. However, changing the price from 19100000 to 1910000000000000000 is clearly vandalism. Also dropping prices to 1 or a single digit number is a pretty blatant case of vandalism. As for removing sections of an article, removing one could be that they though it didn't belong, or it couldn't be proven, whatever. However, if you see 5 edits to the page by one user, and they all remove a section at a time, they are clearly blanking the page, just using the "Edit" button by each section rather than at the top of the page. As for adding profanity to the article or pornography, there is no second guessing that; they are not here to help the wiki or provide any beneficial information. While I do believe that many people visit the site and edit one page putting "PENIS LAWL" in the article, solely because they can, I don't believe this should be overlooked and a block not handed out. I can't tell you how many vandals I have blocked that have had a 1+ year vandalism history, 1 edit at a time over months of editing, yet never been blocked. By blocking people who clearly disrupt our "way of life" here, we send a message that we as a community are not here to play around and let immature editors have a hay day, we are here to provide factual, beneficial information to all who seek it. There is no way to set a "If user A removes 3 or more numbers from an exchange article, or 2 or more paragraphs from a normal article, they should receive an X day block after Y amount of warnings." Administrators need to act based on the severity of the vandalism, and use common sense. If somebody is blocked for 1 month for putting "PENIS" in an article, the admin should probably be talked to and the vandal's block re-evaluated. If a user blanks somebody's userpage and posts "F*CK YOU YOU F*CK*NG NIG**R, I'LL BURN YOUR F**KIN* HOUSE DOWN" or some other blatant, racist, or incredibly offensive edit, they should not receive a "warning." Many admins are pretty good at judging block times based on the offense. While general guidelines can be set, and are, each situation needs to be taken case-by-case. If there are any issues, it can be brought to the admin's attention. Just my two cents. =) Karlis (talk) (contribs) 21:41, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
Comment - I disagree with those Exchange edit examples you made. It would not surprise me if someone made such edits for any number of reasons, such as these:
  1. Prices don't have thousands separators and the user miscounts the required number of zeros. If the user's editing window is not wide, this could be even more likely to happen if the price wraps onto a second line.
  2. User mistakes one field for another field or for a different purpose, e.g. putting alch/min/max values for the price or using "street" prices instead of GE prices.
  3. User believes he is editing a different item than the one he originally intended to edit. Could easily happen if the user is over-multitasking or some such.
Maybe there are other examples where it is more obvious that the user is vandalizing an Exchange page but I don't think these are very good ones. --Quarenon  Talk 22:03, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
Also with regards to this: I can't tell you how many vandals I have blocked that have had a 1+ year vandalism history, 1 edit at a time over months of editing, yet never been blocked. If this is an anon user, which most are, then we should not consider the entire contribs list of that IP as the editing history for a single vandal. IPs change and are re-assigned all the time, and I think we should be cautious about using IP contrib history when making decisions about blocking them. Maybe edits made within the span of minutes or seconds can be seen as the same user but certainly not ones which span months or weeks. --Quarenon  Talk 22:10, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
Actually, Exchange prices do have commas now. ⁓ Hello71 23:13, May 19, 2010 (UTC)
Since all the GE bots now use them, the commas are there most of the time, but not always; it will depend on how the previous editor of the page decided to format his numbers. In Karlis' example, it didn't. --Quarenon  Talk 00:37, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
I would say it doesn't necessarily go back to "it takes common sense" as much as "it takes sysop sense and experience." We approve sysops partly on their ability to make judgment calls, and we recognize that individuals may vary slightly. We do however have a common perception of the spirit of the Wiki, and for the most part I've found that to be lots enough to make good decisions for the most part. I'd have to see a bunch of examples showing otherwise to think that there's some kind of systemic bias or unfairness in how we deal with (alleged) vandals to warrant chaining the leg irons of another bureaucratic process to fighting vandalism. Endasil (Talk) @  03:07, May 20, 2010 (UTC)

Do you mean to say that changing 19100000 to 1910000000000000000 would constitute as an honest mistake? I was merely pointing out that an additional digit or two can clearly be a mistake, but when you add or remove 10 digits, it wasn't made in good faith. As always, there are exceptions, as I've seen users blank exchange pages then replace it with "Sorry, I erased it and couldn't figure out how to get it back." Karlis (talk) (contribs) 05:47, May 20, 2010 (UTC)

It's possible. When there are borderline instances like this, always try to use undo instead of rollback. I remember a charm log edit that looked legitimate until I realized that the number of gold charms decreased. I still undid it, instead of rollback. --LiquidTalk 12:59, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
The point is that mistakes happen. Yesterday, I reverted a page back to the first revision because I wasn't knowledgeable on the subject and made a poor judgement call on it. It was far from vandalism, even though it was definitely unproductive. For those interested in what it was, it was one of the charm logs that has been incorrectly updated since it's creation. Ajraddatz Talk 13:33, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
Comment I still do not see what this is trying to accomplish? Is it to see a set of rules when to warn, block, rollback, or undo? 16px‎AtlandyBeer.png 13:43, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
Yes, although the most important part is to find some sort of definition in this area. As you can see above, everyone has their own pocket view of how to deal with vandalism, and unfortunately that doesn't work too well. Ajraddatz Talk 13:45, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. As an admin, I am trusted to make decisions based on each situation. Each edit reviewed by me is different, and it is my judgment on whether it is a good edit. I understand what good faith is and I understand that new wikians make mistakes by blanking pages, inserting wrong numbers..and that is why I was given these extra tools. Because the community trusted me to use my judgment in determining what is right and wrong. Each edit is unique in a way that no list of rules will ever cover all the edits that go on on the wiki. We have over 14,000 pages and new edits every minute, so to come up with a list of what to block for and how long would be fruitless. Admins were chosen for their understanding of what should be on the wiki and what should not. People placing porn, profanities, and spam do not get a warning from me...because it is obvious vandalism plain and simple. When blocking, I check to see if that ip has been blocked before and make my block accordingly. Am I perfect? I doubt it...but the community has put their trust in me and all the admins to make such decisions and if a specific block/undo/rollback is an issue..then let one of us know. To try and make policy for the admins regarding how to handle each vandal and poor edit is foolish and wasting all of our time 16px‎AtlandyBeer.png 14:07, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
I said nothing about this being solely for admins. Also, in an area like this, it is better if everyone is on the same page; that is what I want from this. Ajraddatz Talk 14:12, May 20, 2010 (UTC)
How do you want everyone to be on the same page? The reason I brought up admins is that editors do not have the same tools in dealing with vandals. If you want to come up with a policy of when to rollback and when to undo that is fine 16px‎AtlandyBeer.png 14:18, May 20, 2010 (UTC)

Comment - I could not agree more with Karlis's points. There should not be a policy laying out what is and is not vandalism, or how it should be dealt with. If you take a look at RS:BLOCK, its pretty vague on block times, offenses, etc. That's because it should be up to the user to use common sense and experience in figuring it out. Users who actively participate in anti-vandalism work should have a good idea of what is and is not vandalism, and in turn how to react to it. It's better to have a user leave you a note suggesting a different course of action in your anti-vandal work than having them demand that you change your ways because you violated a policy. In other words, I think no further clarification is necessary. --Aburnett(Talk) 00:56, May 21, 2010 (UTC)

Comment A set of some guidelines wouldn't be a horrible idea, but spending any amount of time trying to make sure vandals are treated fairly is a waste of time. They are vandals, **** them.--Degenret01 01:06, May 21, 2010 (UTC)

Haha, can't argue with that. Oh well, at least this forum is a break from debating legal issues regarding RSMV :S Ajraddatz Talk 03:24, May 21, 2010 (UTC)

Request for closure - This forum has kinda failed, even though it wasn't a proposal. All it has proved is that everyone has their own ideas on how vandals should be treated, and that nobody is really willing to compromise their beliefs on this. That isn't a bad thing, it's the truth and there isn't much else that this forum can do about it. ajr 21:10, June 9, 2010 (UTC)

Closed - Discussion has died down, topic starter has requested closure. --Aburnett(Talk) 01:01, June 10, 2010 (UTC)