As Wikipedia grows in popularity, the temptation to misuse its editability to bring attention to other websites becomes nearly unbearable

As Wikipedia grows in popularity, the temptation to misuse its editability to bring attention to other websites becomes nearly unbearable. At one end of the spectrum are professional spammers seeking to drive traffic to commercial sites. At the other end are webmasters of simple community sites who want to get more attention for their sites. This potential for self-promotion on Wikipedia must be managed—Wikipedia is not a "repository for links" or a "vehicle for advertising". Wikipedia exists for the purpose of creating a collaboratively edited encyclopedia, not for any individual to promote a site in which they have an interest.Those promoting sites by linking to them from Wikipedia formerly saw major search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, due to Wikipedia's popularity. The ability to promote a site's appearance in search engine results was considered too great an incentive for people to add extraneous links to articles. So in February 2007, the English Wikipedia instituted a policy that tags external links "NOFOLLOW."[1] This means that major search engines like Google no longer index these links. Many web site operators still seek to use Wikipedia to increase the number of inbound links to their sites, some either out of ignorance of SEO functionality or of this policy change, others because they simply hope to draw individual readers to their site through direct Wikipedia traffic.Currently link spammers enjoy many advantages from the lack of cohesion to the spam-fighting process. It is possible to sneak links into relatively unwatched articles successfully. Such links may lie unexamined for months, gaining the appearance of legitimacy from having remained in an article so long. When spam links are reverted, there is not much communication. Spammers can return and add links when different editors are watching who do not know their history of editing-with-an-agenda. Frequently spam contributors take advantage of Wikipedia's Assume good faith policy. They may engage in straw-man or special pleading arguments for inclusion of their links under the guise that they have only the welfare of Wikipedia at heart, usually in the presence of evidence to the contrary.WikiProject Spam is a voluntary Spam-fighting brigade. Our purpose is: to develop standards and processes for recognizing, hunting down, and eliminating link spam; to streamline communication between those who want to watch over articles to prevent it; and, to send a message by our actions and effectiveness that link spammers are fighting a war they cannot win.If you would like to participate, we encourage you to add your name to the sign-up list. We encourage you to join in editing this page so we can grow toward consensus about the best way to fight link spam. You are welcome to relate any of your own current ongoing efforts to fight link spam on the talk page so that in the immediate future we can be aware of users that are acting with an agenda to promote an external site.There are a variety of facets for dealing with inappropriate links. This guide breaks the process into a number of steps. Most editors will want to complete the first step. Editors interested in doing a more thorough job should follow through with additional measures.See also the to-do list.The number one rule for Project members is this code of honor: "I will never insert links to my own sites into Wikipedia's article space." Not only is Conflict of interest a guideline that is generally accepted among editors, but many of us who run websites are too committed to their success (however we define it) to judge impartially whether or not they belong in an article. Moreover, we are actively reverting self-promotion linking by other editors, some of whom view the addition of their links as sincere attempts to service various communities. It is easier to gain the respect of these people if we hold ourselves to the highest possible standard and avoid any appearance of double-standards or hypocrisy.Spam edits automatically deserve a {{subst:uw-spam1}} tag on the user's talk page. This is important! First, to drive the message that spam is not welcome here, and second, to warn us of repeat offenders. Successive violations of the spam policy can be met with talk page additions of;The easiest way to tag a spammer's talk page is to enable Twinkle in the Gadgets section of your Preferences page and to use Twinkle's "Warn" tool.Note: When tagging spammers, it will help if you leave a "linksummary" template or URL with the warning, or formulate your own, like;Leaving a link or template can help find IPs and accounts, months later. If a violation occurs after the fourth warning, you should report the offending user at the Administrator intervention against vandalism page. If there is ongoing abuse, over a period of time and you think a site should be blacklisted, report it. Placing the warning tag does not take much more effort than removing the spam itself, and can really help the effort to prevent the spam from returning.The nature of Wikipedia means that one can not make a convincing argument based on whether other links in articles do or do not exist; that is because anyone can add any link to any article. Plenty of links exist that probably should not, and many links do not exist that probably should. So pointing out that some other link exists is not relevant to whether the link in question should also exist.Spammers will often offer arguments in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original spam issue. These are some characteristic strawman arguments;Further note, notice how many times "my site" (or "my link") appears in the above examples.Assuming good faith is an important policy of Wikipedia, but does not require that you assume good intentions when there is evidence to the contrary. Link spamming behavior fits a definite profile. When editors meet this profile, they are engaging in activity which is detrimental to Wikipedia, no matter how sincere they may have been in their edits. We should develop responses to those who engage in this behavior which encourage them to reform into productive Wikipedians, but we should waste no time in protecting Wikipedia from the damaging behavior through reverts and blocks where necessary.What several editors in some articles do is go in every few days and remove any undiscussed external links. Call it quick and easy "house cleaning." To encourage sincere links, they leave this edit summary:One could easily start this strategy in any article by adding {{subst:Discuss links here}}~~~~ to its talk page. The plan is to discourage people whose sole intention is self-promotion.Also, add commented-out warnings to the External links section of the articles, themselves:For this purpose the Template:NoMoreLinks has been created.This strategy is used in the following articles:This strategy is also helpful to deal with POV and conspiracy links:"… consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."A successful strategy for preventing linkfarms is to fix the problems when they are small;"Promotion" does not always mean commercial promotion: anything can be promoted, including a person, a non-commercial organization, a point of view, etc. User sub-pages and user sandboxes are increasingly being used by promotional accounts as a dumping ground / web-host for spam articles, vanity pieces and other promotional content not suitable for encyclopedic inclusion. Many of these SPA promotional accounts are also using articles for creation and Article Incubator for the same purpose.We would want a concerted viral marketing strategy involvingand a dash of mentions in help pages, FAQs and fixup templates.These templates should be substituted ({{subst:Uw-spam}}, etc) as per WP:SUBST.{{Advert}} for articles or sections with excessive spam. See Wikipedia:Spam for more details.{{subst:spam blanked}} is undertaken on pages where the content is for one reason or another, inappropriate advertising, promotional material or other spam not always located in the article-space.Saw someone revert or remove linkspam? Invite the comrade here with {{subst:WPSPAM-invite}} placed on their User talk page.A souped-up alternative: {{subst:WPSPAM-invite-n}}.HorsePunchKid suggests a standardised edit summary to raise awareness both of the problem and this particular effort:Perfecto uses the following:–Aude suggests:TheJabberwʘck suggests (for users of popups):These edit summaries help drive a concerted viral marketing strategy.The coveted Spamstar of Glory is awarded to those who show strong contributions to tracking down and stopping spammers as well as cleaning up their links. Introduced on November 8, 2006 by A. B., it originally consisted of a nicely Photoshopped can of Hormel spam superimposed on a barnstar. Later, due to concerns about infringing on Hormel's trademark, the award was changed to the current design, adapted from the The RickK Anti-Vandalism BarnstarSee the list of participants. You can sign up and help us fight spam on Wikipedia!
As of May 2012 we have over 380 participants.Participants may add this to their userpage instead of signing up.If you prefer not to use userboxes, you may add yourself directly to Category:WikiProject Spam members by placing the following code on your Userpage: [[Category:WikiProject Spam members|{{PAGENAME}}]]