Hello USERNAME, and welcome to your Counter-Vandalism Unit Academy page! Every person I instruct will have their own page on which I will give them support and tasks for them to complete. Please make sure you have this page added to your watchlist so that you can monitor this page more easily.
Treat this page like your "workbook"; you will be asked questions or given assignments on this page, and it is up to you to answer and complete them. You will not receive all the questions and tasks from the get-go — like a quest-based RPG game, you'll receive new questions and tasks when you complete existing ones.
Remember that, while this page contains a lot of material you need to know, no textbook contains everything there is to know about a subject. The goal of the Counter-Vandalism Unit Academy is to train new vandal fighters in the general principles of recent changes patrolling, but there's a lot of things that school can't teach you, and you'll have to learn through your own experience in the field!
Oh, and here's the most important part: You won't be left in the dark during your time as a trainee. If you have any questions, you are more than welcome to contact me on my talk page, and you are definitely welcome to ask around at the Teahouse at any time! You are still welcome to ask questions even after your graduation from this program! Even the most experienced of us need to ask for advice from time to time!
- How do I use this page?
This page will be built up over your time in the Academy, with new sections being added as you complete old ones. When you have completed a section, and I have felt that you are ready to move on, I'll create a new section with new material for you to study. Each section will contain a number of questions and/or tasks for you to complete. You must complete these correctly in order to move on.
To answer a question, just type in your answer after the A:, located underneath each question. You may modify your answer at any time before I evaluate and mark it, but keep in mind that any modifications to your answer after I mark it will not be evaluated! If you wish to change an answer after I have marked it, please contact me and I may decide to give you another similar question for you to answer.
To complete a task, you'll have to go out and do what the task instructs you to do! Once you have completed the task, please collect the links to the diffs of your edits and paste them where it asks for it. You may add more or remove diffs if you wish, but please note that I won't evaluate your answer until you have listed the minimum number of diffs on the page. Keep in mind that any modifications to your answer after I mark it will not be evaluated! If you wish to change an answer after I have marked it, please contact me and I may decide to give you another similar question for you to answer.
- Where does this page go once I complete the training?
Once you have completed your training at the Academy, you'll be congratulated with a special award and a userbox for your userpage. A copy of this page will then be pasted at User:USERNAME/CVUA so you will have a record of your training and a reference for the future; you are free to do whatever you want to said page at this time. The original copy of your training page will continue to remain in my userspace for record-keeping purposes.
- Can I pause or cancel the training?
Yes, you are free to opt-out of this training at any time simply by asking me, and I can remove your name from the list of trainees so I can take on another student. You can resume your training once I have a slot open again. Please note that, if there's a period of time where you will be away for long periods of time, or if a real-life event affects your ability to edit, feel free to use one of the templates at Wikipedia:Wikibreak on your user talk page, and we can talk about putting your training on hold; I won't remove you from the list during that time. Please note that your training goes at your own pace, so don't worry about any "deadlines" or tight schedules. However, I don't like keeping out other students for too long, so I may decide to remove you 30 days after your training has been paused (I'll notify you before that!) in order to make room for another student.
I hope you enjoy your time here at the Academy! Regards,
Unit 1. The Basics
Once again, welcome to the Counter-Vandalism Unit Academy, and thank you for your interest in serving and protecting Wikipedia, the sum of all human knowledge!
First off, the act of reverting vandalism on Wikipedia has been questioned by many. Some wonder why people "waste their lives having a 'Counter-Vandalism Unit' on this website." So why do we fight vandalism in the first place?
Wikipedia is a wiki, and by definition, a wiki is a website that anyone can edit. Many of the edits Wikipedia gets are positive and are intended to help build the encyclopedia. However, there are a sizable amount of edits that are not constructive, intended to deface the encyclopedia. If this is left unchecked and ignored, Wikipedia will be ruined, the same way a public park would be ruined if nobody bothered to maintain it.
Wikis of all ages and sizes are bound to suffer from vandalism at one point in their life or another. Wikipedia, however, is the largest and most well known of all wikis, and it receives more vandalism than other wikis. Thus, the Counter-Vandalism Unit was created to help coordinate and unite vandal fighters to help with the anti-vandalism effort.
So, now you know why we're here. And now you also know why this job is so important.
1.1 Removing vandalism
In most cases, the removal of vandalism is done through reverting. All users have the ability to "Undo" an edit, or edit an older revision of the page and save it to revert multiple edits.
Undoing an edit is very easy, and it can be done even if the targeted revision is not the current revision (this may not work if intermediate revisions interfere with the undo function). You can either:
- Undo an edit while viewing it in the diff page; or,
- Undo an edit by clicking the "undo" button beside the targeted revision's entry in the page history.
This method will revert one edit, and one edit only; it will not, by default, revert multiple edits.
This works if the vandal has made only one unconstructive edit to the article. However, vandals, especially dedicated, intelligent, or persistent ones, will usually vandalize an article multiple times, resulting in multiple edits that need to be undone. Undo can be used, but it is far too tedious, and it's easy to make a mistake. These edits can be reverted by simply restoring a past version of the page. To do this:
- Open the page history of the page in question
- Click on the timestamp (time and date) of the last, non-vandalized version of the page. You will see a phrase similar to: "This is an old revision of this page, as edited by ***.***.***.*** (Talk) at 15:47, January 24, 2015. It may differ significantly from the current revision."
- Click on the "Edit" tab, like you normally would. You will see a phrase similar to "You are editing an old revision of this page. If you save it, any changes made since then will be removed."
- Explain what you're doing in the edit summary field. "Reverting vandalism" will suffice if the vandalism is absolutely obvious.
- Click on the "Save page" button.
This will revert to the revision of the page that you selected in step 2. Any changes made since then will be lost; those revisions in question are still available in the page history, and your revert will appear as a normal edit. This is best used for undoing multiple edits in situations where the undo function would otherwise be ineffective.
1.2 Warning the vandal
So, now that you have learned how to remove the vandalism, you should know how to tell the vandal about it. This may seem counter-intuitive (and in some cases it is), but warning a vandal lets that vandal know that what they've done to the encyclopedia has been noticed, and is not welcome. Most vandals stop after they see the first or second warning, as they realize that what they thought was a fun pastime isn't so amusing to others.
Warning vandals can also help alleviate some confusion. By default, if you use the "undo" button, only a generic edit summary is used that simply states the edit has been undone; it doesn't state why the edit was undone, though. A warning message clarifies this, and it contains much more information than the edit summary field could hold.
Warnings are generally "tiered", and range from a simple, polite and gentle Level 1, up to a stern, "we mean business" Level 4. Warnings are issued in increments, so if the last warning a user got was Level 2, the next warning should be a Level 3 one.
Warnings can get complicated sometimes, so allow me to demonstrate using examples.
- Example 1: The little IP editor who could
An IP editor (A user who edits Wikipedia without logging in, also known as "unregistered" or "anonymous" users. They are identified by their IP address, not a pseudonym) with the IP address 0.0.0.1 heard that they could edit Wikipedia freely, and they could add whatever they wanted to the website. Excited, they get on their computer and load the Sodium laureth sulfate article, and add "HELLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" to the article. They click "Save page" and are elated to see that their nonsense has indeed been added to the article for all to see. He opens up Facebook and quickly pokes all his friends to come to the article to see his lovely artpiece.
A vandal fighter comes along and sees the nonsense. They click "undo" and then leave a Level 1 Vandalism warning on the talk page of the IP editor. They move on and continue patrolling recent changes.
The IP editor loads the article again, only to be disappointed that their addition has seemingly been erased. They see a "You have new messages" heading at the top and click on it; it takes them directly to the talk page for their IP address. They see the warning, which politely informs them that their edit had been undone because it wasn't deemed constructive. The warning offers the IP editor to contact the issuer if they had any questions. The IP editor, seeing the truth that people really can't just add whatever they like to Wikipedia, close the tab and goes on to play League of Legends instead.
- Example 1 explanation
This is the "happy", best case scenario for any vandal fighter. The IP editor, like many other people in the world who know about Wikipedia, doesn't know that Wikipedia is defended by its technical abilities to never forget, and its army of volunteer patrollers. They wrongly assumed that any nonsense added to an article would not be immediately noticed, if at all. The warning helped clarify things, and informed the IP editor that there are (friendly) people out there that don't exactly tolerate vandalism, and that adding "HELLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" is far from welcome on this website. In the best case scenario, the vandal understands and goes off to spend their time doing things more worthwhile than defacing an encyclopedia.