Submissions/Vandalism, Spam, Death Threats, and More: A Day in the Life of a Wikipedia Admin

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2015 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this July.

Submission no.
Title of the submission

Vandalism, Spam, Death Threats, and More: A Day in the Life of a Wikipedia Admin

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)

Presentation, with scope for discussion

Author of the submission

Harry Mitchell (User:HJ Mitchell)

E-mail address

hjmitchell at ymail dot com


HJ Mitchell

Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)


Personal homepage or blog


Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

My name is Harry Mitchell. I edit under the username HJ Mitchell (yes, I know, very imaginative!). I've been an admin on the English Wikipedia for five years, and an admin on Commons for two. I deal mainly with vandalism and long-term abuse—everything from bored schoolkids who think it's funny to replace an article with profanities or add a joke about their teacher, all the way up to genuine malice from people who have created hundreds of sockpuppets over a period of years to damage encyclopaedia articles and harass and abuse editors, often across multiple Wikimedia projects. I often find myself dealing with the worst of the worst, from grotesque defacement of articles to long-term spamming campaigns, and I step into areas where other admins fear to tread. Despite not having a technical background, I have learnt enough about MediaWiki, regular expressions, and IP addressing that I can efficiently deal with this sort of abuse, for example through blacklisting and range-blocking. Readers, and even regular editors, see very little of my work—they might see the greyed out lines created by revision deletion, they might glance at the log and notice that I've made a large number of admin actions, they might get caught in a rangeblock I made, but the vandalism or the abuse itself is usually long gone.

I'd like to use this talk to explain some of the things our front-line admins deal with (including becoming the target for the people we deal with, and the resultant death threats and obscene vandalism to our own user and talk pages), why we should be nicer to them, why we need more of them, and how their lives can be made easier (for example through technical enhancements to the admins' toolset, through better recognition of admins' efforts, by getting more administrators to recognise and deal with these issues, or through other or a combination of approaches). It would start as a formal presentation, including an introduction to the concepts of administrators, vandalism, and long-term abuse, and include some anecdotes from my own experience as an admin and possibly from other admins who have shared their experiences with me, and end as more of a discussion with the audience (which I hope would include a few admins from various wikis and representatives from the WMF) about the role of administrators and what can be done—from both a technical and a social standpoint—to make the role easier.

  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?


Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

Interested attendees

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  1. CT Cooper · talk 18:41, 17 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Will there be security present at this talk? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:18, 19 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
    I'm relying on you, Lane! We'll get you a grey suit and some dark sunglasses and you can stand at the door looking intimidating! ;) HJ Mitchell (talk) 18:25, 19 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. GeorgeLouis (talk) 22:11, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Mike Peel (talk) 22:29, 17 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Thryduulf (talk) 22:38, 17 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Rsrikanth05 (talk) (Also willing to turn up in a black suit with dark glasses and a earpiece)
  7. Omshivaprakash-16:22, 18 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. I JethroBT (talk) 19:23, 18 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Pundit (talk) 07:09, 19 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Spiritia (talk) 07:16, 19 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  11. --Netha Hussain (talk) 07:17, 19 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  12. --Saileshpat (talk) 07:23, 19 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  13. --Satdeep Gill (talk) 10:34, 21 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Man77 (talk) 10:36, 22 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 05:14, 26 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]