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Disruptive editing is a pattern of editing that may extend over a long time on many articles and disrupts progress toward improving an article or building the encyclopedia. Disruptive editing is not always vandalism, though vandalism is always disruptive. Each case should be treated independently, taking into consideration whether the actions violate Wikipedia policies and guidelines. If an editor treats situations that are not clearly vandalism as such, that editor may harm the encyclopedia by alienating or driving away potential editors.

Disruptive editing is not always intentional. Editors may be accidentally disruptive because they don't understand how to correctly edit, or because they lack the social skills or competence necessary to work collaboratively. The fact that the disruption occurs in good faith does not change the fact that it is harmful to Wikipedia.

Summary

Wikipedia owes much of its success to its openness. That very openness, however, sometimes attracts people who seek to exploit the site as a platform for pushing a single point of view, original research, advocacy, or self-promotion. While notable minority opinions are welcomed when verifiable through reliable sources, and constructive editors occasionally make mistakes, sometimes a Wikipedia editor creates long-term problems by persistently editing a page or set of pages with information which is not verifiable through reliable sources or insisting on giving undue weight to a minority view.

Collectively, disruptive editors harm Wikipedia by degrading its reliability as a reference source and by exhausting the patience of productive editors, who may quit the project in frustration when a disruptive editor continues with impunity.

An edit which, in isolation, is not disruptive may still be part of a pattern of editing that is. A group of disruptive edits may be close together in time, or spread out; they may all occur on a single page, or on many pages; they may be all very similar, or superficially quite different.

Disruptive editors may seek to disguise their behavior as productive editing, yet distinctive traits separate them from productive editors. When discussion fails to resolve the problem and when an impartial consensus of editors from outside a disputed page agree (through requests for comment or similar means), further disruption is grounds for blocking, and may lead to more serious disciplinary action through the dispute resolution process. In extreme cases, this could include a site ban, either through the Arbitration Committee or by a consensus.

The three-revert rule, if observed by disruptive editors, is not to be construed as a defense against action taken to enforce this policy against disruptive editors. As stated in that policy, "The rule is not an entitlement to revert a page a specific number of times." Likewise, editors should note that the three-revert rule should not be broken, even by editors attempting to revert disruptive edits. While vandalism is always disruptive, disruptive editing is not necessarily vandalism; it is better for productive editors to follow the process suggested below than to break the three-revert rule.

Examples of disruptive editing

See also: Wikipedia:Editing policy

This guideline concerns gross, obvious and repeated violations of fundamental policies, not subtle questions about which reasonable people may disagree.

A disruptive editor is an editor who exhibits tendencies such as the following:

  1. Is tendentious: continues editing an article or group of articles in pursuit of a certain point for an extended time despite opposition from other editors. Tendentious editors not only add material; some engage in disruptive deletions as well, e.g. repeatedly removing reliable sources posted by other editors.
  2. Cannot satisfy Wikipedia:Verifiability; fails to cite sources, cites unencyclopedic sources, misrepresents reliable sources, or manufactures original research.
  3. Engages in "disruptive cite-tagging"; adds unjustified ((citation needed)) tags to an article when the content tagged is already sourced, uses such tags to suggest that properly sourced article content is questionable.
  4. Does not engage in consensus building:
    a. repeatedly disregards other editors' questions or requests for explanations concerning edits or objections to edits;
    b. repeatedly disregards other editors' explanations for their edits.
  5. Rejects or ignores community input: resists moderation and/or requests for comment, continuing to edit in pursuit of a certain point despite an opposing consensus from impartial editors.

In addition, such editors might:

  1. Campaign to drive away productive contributors: act counter to policies and guidelines such as Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:No personal attacks, or Wikipedia:Ownership of articles—or sockpuppetry/meatpuppetry that might not exhaust the general community's patience but still operates toward an end of exhausting the patience of productive, rule-abiding editors on certain articles.

Point-illustrating

Main page: Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point

When one becomes frustrated with the way a policy or guideline is being applied, it may be tempting to try to discredit the rule or interpretation thereof by, in one's view, applying it consistently. Sometimes, this is done simply to prove a point in a local dispute. In other cases, one might try to enforce a rule in a generally unpopular way, with the aim of getting it changed.

Such tactics are highly disruptive to the project. If you feel that a policy is problematic, the policy's talk page is the proper place to raise your concerns. If you simply disagree with someone's actions in an article, discuss it on the article talk page or related pages.

Note that someone can legitimately make a point, without disrupting Wikipedia to illustrate it.

Failure or refusal to "get the point"

"WP:ICANTHEARYOU" redirects here. For inability of mobile editors to receive messages, see Wikipedia:Mobile communication bugs.

"WP:Listen" redirects here. For the template to embed audio, see Template:Listen.

"There's nothing wrong with my editing!"
"There's nothing wrong with my editing!"

Sometimes, editors perpetuate disputes by sticking to an allegation or viewpoint long after the consensus of the community has decided that moving on to other topics would be more productive. Such behavior is disruptive to Wikipedia.

Believing that you have a valid point does not confer upon you the right to act as though your point must be accepted by the community when you have been told that it is not accepted. The community's rejection of your idea is not proof that they have failed to hear you. Stop writing, listen, and consider what the other editors are telling you. Make a strong effort to see their side of the debate, and work on finding points of agreement. Do not confuse "hearing" with "agreeing with".

Sometimes, even when editors act in good faith, their contributions may continue to be disruptive and time-wasting, for example, by continuing to say they don't understand what the problem is. Although editors should be encouraged to be bold and just do things if they think they're right, sometimes a lack of competence can get in the way. If the community spends more time cleaning up editors' mistakes and educating them about policies and guidelines than it considers necessary, sanctions may have to be imposed.

Distinguished from productive editing

Editors often post minority views to articles. This fits within Wikipedia's mission so long as the contributions are verifiable, do not give undue weight, and where appropriate, comply with WP:FRINGE. The burden of evidence rests with the editor who initially provides the information or wishes the information to remain.

From Wikipedia:Neutral point of view:

Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint. Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views as much of or as detailed a description as more widely held views.

Verifiable and noteworthy viewpoints include protoscience when published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. Editors may reasonably present active public disputes or controversies documented by reliable sources; citing a viewpoint stated in a mainstream scholarly journal, textbook, or monograph is not per se disruptive editing. This exemption does not apply to settled disputes, e.g. that the Sun revolves around the Earth. (The dispute itself is notable.)

Sometimes well-meaning editors 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.

Attempts to evade detection

Bad-faith disruptive editors attempt to evade disciplinary action in several ways:

Nonetheless, such disruptive editing violates Wikipedia policy and norms.

Dealing with disruptive editors

The 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 Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents 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 hope that each step may finally resolve the problem:

Blocking and sanctions

April Fools' Day

Main page: Wikipedia:Rules for Fools

All edits on April Fools' Day must continue to adhere to all applicable Wikipedia policies and guidelines, including (but not limited to) edit warring, no personal attacks and the biographies of living persons policy. With the exception of the Main Page, all edits that are intended to be humorous should be kept out of the article and help namespaces, as well as their respective talk pages; and be tagged with ((Humor)) (or equivalent template, such as the inline ((April fools)) or ((4-1))) to avoid misleading users.

See also