|This page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline.|
It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.
|This page in a nutshell: Spam is the inappropriate addition of content to Wikipedia with the intention of promoting or publicizing an outside organization, individual or idea, and is considered harmful to the encyclopedia. Do not disrupt Wikipedia with spam. If you find spam, please remove or rewrite the content.|
There are three main types of spam on Wikipedia: advertisements masquerading as articles and contributions to articles; external link spamming; and adding references with the aim of promoting the author or the work being referenced.
See also: Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not § Wikipedia is not a soapbox or means of promotion
Articles considered advertisements include those that are solicitations for a business, product or service, or are public relations pieces designed to promote a company or individual. Wikispam articles are usually noted for sales-oriented language and external links to a commercial website. However, a differentiation should be made between spam articles and legitimate articles about commercial entities.
Blatant examples of advertising masquerading as articles can be tagged for speedy deletion with the template ((db-spam)). The same applies to pages in userspace, the draft namespace, or any other namespace. Other advertisements posted on Wikipedia can be dealt with by either proposed deletion or listing them on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion. On some occasions, the content can be removed temporarily on the basis of a suspected copyright violation, since the text is often copied from another website and posted anonymously. Before trying to get an advertisement masquerading as an article deleted, please check the article's history to see if an acceptable revision exists there. If so, please revert to the latest acceptable version of the article.
When an article on an otherwise encyclopedic topic has the tone of an advertisement, the article can often be salvaged by rewriting it in a neutral point of view. Elements of articles about products or services with brand names can also be combined under a common topic or category to facilitate unbiased and collaborative information by including information about the competition and about different alternatives.
Spam may also occur by hijacking articles. In this case, information is changed to the subject being promoted, and the article is "hijacked", or changed, to promote an entirely different subject.
Some articles, especially those pertaining to Internet topics, are prone to aggressive spamming from multiple websites.
If articles have spam, and you haven't the time or ability to remove it, you can tag them with
((Advert)). This template expands to the following:
Another possible tag to use is
((External links)), which expands to the following:
The third useful template is a substituted template ((subst:No more links)), visible only while the page is being edited. After spam links have been removed from a Wikipedia article, this template can be substituted into the top of the external links section of the frequently spammed article as a pre-emptive measure.
<!-- ((No more links)) Please be cautious adding more external links. Wikipedia is not a collection of links and should not be used for advertising. Excessive or inappropriate links will be removed. See [[Wikipedia:External links]] and [[Wikipedia:Spam]] for details. If there are already suitable links, propose additions or replacements on the article's talk page. -->
A fourth template, used for citation spam, is ((refimprove-spam)), which looks like this:
Finally to advise the Wikipedia community to watch an article for abuse you can add to the talk page (under the project banners and other page headers, but before any discussions) ((Prone to spam)) which looks like this:
|This article is prone to spam. Please monitor the References and External links sections.|
Main pages: Links normally to be avoided and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
Adding external links to an article or user page for the purpose of promoting a website or a product is not allowed, and is considered to be spam. Although the specific links may be allowed under some circumstances, repeatedly adding links will in most cases result in all of them being removed.
Citation spamming is the illegitimate or improper use of citations, footnotes, or references. Citation spamming is a form of search engine optimization or promotion that typically involves the repeated insertion of a particular citation or reference in multiple articles by a single contributor. Often these are added not to verify article content, but rather to populate numerous articles with a particular citation. Variations of citation spamming include academics and scientists using their editing privileges primarily to add citations to their own work, and people replacing live or dead URLs with links to commercial sites or their own blogs. Citation spamming is a subtle form of spam and should not be confused with legitimate good-faith additions intended to verify article content and help build the encyclopedia.
Source solicitations are messages on article talk pages that explicitly solicit editors to use a specific external source to expand an article. Editors with a conflict of interest should follow Wikipedia policies and best practices scrupulously when soliciting editors to use a specific external source to expand an article. Every article on Wikipedia can be expanded as a matter of course, but the question is in the details on a per-article basis. It is not possible to simply say "all articles of X type can be expanded using Y source".
There is no hard rule on when this crosses over from being a legitimate attempt to improve the article into being internal spam, but some guidelines and questions to consider:
A few parties now appear to have a spambot capable of spamming wikis from several wiki engines, analogous to the submitter scripts for guestbooks and blogs. They have a database of a few hundred wikis. Typically they insert external links. Like blog spam, their aim is to improve the search engine rankings of the external sites, not to directly advertise their product.
If you see a bot inserting external links, please consider checking the other language wikis to see if the attack is widespread. If it is, please contact a sysop on the Meta-Wiki; they can put in a Wikimedia-wide text filter. Any Meta sysop can edit the Wikimedia-wide spam blacklist to add or remove the patterns that are recognized by the filter, with the changes taking effect immediately. New links can also be added to the list if a new spammer should start making the rounds.
Sysops are authorised to block unauthorised bots on sight. Spambots should be treated as vandal bots. Edits by spambots constitute unauthorised defacement of websites, which is against the law in many countries, and may result in complaints to ISPs and (ultimately) prosecution.
The link spam problem extends far beyond Wikimedia projects, and is generally worse on smaller wikis where the community struggles to keep it clean. m:Wiki Spam page (now obsolete) has some more general information and advice for users of wikis elsewhere on the Internet, while the MediaWiki Anti-Spam Features page describes features available in MediaWiki (for administrators running this software).
Many times, users can be confused by the removal of spam links because other links that could be construed as spam have been added to the article and not yet removed. The inclusion of a spam link should not be construed as an endorsement of the spam link, nor should it be taken as a reason or excuse to include another.
Even if they are related to the subject or are an official page for the subject, external links containing affiliate or referral codes are considered spam. If the linked webpage is otherwise appropriate, please remove all referral codes from the URL.
Adding links to gratis online videos that promote a site or product is not allowed [see exception below]. Often these videos have been uploaded in violation of their copyright, which adds an additional reason for not linking to them. A video might be a spamming video if:
Exception: Generally, a video is not a spamming video if it refers to the official site associated with the Wikipedia article. For example, if the Wikipedia article is on a movie named "xyzMovie" and the official site for the movie is "xyzMovie.com" then links or references to "xyzMovie.com" are legitimate for a video at a video sharing page. Although all other links at that video page should also be legitimate, some judgement is needed. If the posted video just advertises a bunch of products associated with the movie, then it is a spamming video even though it refers to the official site.
Sometimes Wikipedia sees bookspam, which is the insertion of text mentioning books to call attention to the books, rather than to contribute to the article. This often takes the form of inserting book listings into reference sections although the book is not used as the source of any information in the article. Bookspam is also seen as the addition of books to "external links", "further reading" or similar sections, although the books added do not add any useful and relevant information.
Examples in articles tend to attract spam, as in these sentences:
Such sentences tend to attract editors to add more examples because it is far easier to add a link to the end of this kind of sentence than to add encyclopedic content. Examples should only be given if they are highly relevant to the article topic, and should always be sourced with independent, reliable sources.
See also: Wikipedia:Raising awareness
Sometimes, people come to Wikipedia with the intention of spamming—creating articles which are mere advertisements or self-promotion, or adding external links to a web site over many articles.
Some people spam Wikipedia without meaning to. That is, they do things which Wikipedians consider to be spamming, without realizing that their actions are not in line with building an encyclopedia. A new editor who owns a business may see that there are articles about other businesses on Wikipedia, and conclude that it would be appropriate to create their own such article. A web site operator may see many places in Wikipedia where their site would be relevant, and quickly add several dozen links to it.
The following guidelines are intended to suggest how not to be a spammer—that is, how to mention a web site, product, business, or other resource without appearing to the Wikipedia community that you are trying to abuse Wikipedia for self-promotion.
((subst:uw-spam1)) is a useful "first warning" to put on the Talk page of a spammer. For new users, an alternative, ((subst:welcomespam)), may be used for users who may have added spam or inappropriate external links in good faith.
Subsequent offenses can be tagged with ((subst:uw-spam2)), or more strongly, ((subst:uw-spam3)) (warning of possible block) and ((subst:uw-spam4)) (final warning). If an editor spams numerous articles in a systematic fashion, they may be warned with ((subst:uw-spam4im)) as the only warning that they will receive before they are blocked. The template ((subst:uw-sblock)) indicates that the spammer has been blocked.
If you have tagged an article for speedy deletion with ((db-spam)) because it is blatant spam, you may add ((subst:spam-warn)) to the originating editor's talk page to warn them of the impending deletion, and to allow them to possibly edit the article so it is no longer spam.
Please remember to substitute these templates using for example ((subst:uw-spam1)) instead of
Editors who have enabled the Twinkle feature can use the warn tab to insert these templates.
Sometimes an article attracts so many improper external links that it "crosses the spam event horizon". Links should be removed and editors should be advised of our policy against promotion. Editors who continually add inappropriate links should receive escalating warnings, and if it continues, should be reported to AIV or 3RR, which may result in them being blocked from editing.
See also: Spambot, meta:Vandalbot § Spambots, and meta:NTSAMR
A spambot is an automated process that will vandalize a wiki by adding spam links to user pages and articles, or by creating a mass of spam pages.