[WikiEN-l] Should we be declaring war on vandals?

Mark Gallagher m.g.gallagher at student.canberra.edu.au
Mon Feb 6 12:40:46 UTC 2006

G'day Chris,

> The Cunctator wrote:
>> [[User:Cool Cat]].
> One person? It seems a more productive path would be to discuss it on 
> his talk page rather than discussing it behind his back on the mailing 
> list - as far as I know, he's not subscribed.

That is an excellent point --- but it's not just Cool_Cat.  In fact 
Cool_Cat himself is quite good when it comes to vandals; he's written 
the vandalism-sensing bot which I gather is quite useful, raised 
awareness of the problem of vandalism, and done other neat stuff that 
I'm sure I'd remember if I hadn't just returned from a hard night of 
softball.  I haven't noticed any harmful interactions between him 
personally and vandals.

The problem is that his "war on vandals!" attitude is shared by the 
"Counter-Vandalism Unit".  Now, CVU boasts quite a few great people, who 
are calm and efficient and cluey and would really be doing the same job 
whether CVU existed or not.  But it *also* includes many newbies who've 
arrived, seen an interesting-looking clique, and signed on, jumping into 
the vandal-fighting thing without really knowing anything else about 
Wikipedia.  These people, as well as being bloody annoying when they get 
underfoot (such as demanding admins speedy articles or block users on 
their say-so, regardless of policy or, more importantly, Common Sense), 
are also the ones most likely to bite newbies.

One memorable time --- I have no diff, alas --- I saw a CVU member 
berating an anon user for causing "us in CVU" to worry and waste time 
dealing with vandalism.  Funnily enough, the reason I remember it is 
because I got a little irritated that the user in question really 
believed CVU was the be-all and end-all of vandalism-fighting 
activities, and didn't give a second thought to the whole newbie-biting 
stuff of complaining at a user that his vandalism was causing stress. 
There's a little newbie-muncher in all of us.

Mark Gallagher
"What?  I can't hear you, I've got a banana on my head!"
- Danger Mouse

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