Alright, just thought I'd post a quick how-to on dealing with the oh-so-annoying bane of wikis, vandals. Over my time here as an ordinary user who patrolled recent edits, then a rollbacker, now an admin, I've developed a method of what to do in the face of vandalism that works quite well in my experience, so here it is for all of you, so you know the proper way of dealing with things when they come up and a staff member isn't available.

Step One: Find and Identify vandalism

Obviously, the first thing that happens is the vandalism itself. There are two main ways to discover vandalism as it happens; patrolling recent changes, or by email notifications of your watched pages being edited. Personally, I use both to track changes and look for bad edits, but some people might prefer one or the other. Either way, when you're on a diff page and you see a bad edit, whether it be false information, removing content, or inserting inappropriate content, the first thing to do is undo the edit.
However, if the vandal has made several consecutive edits on the page, removing content, replacing it with bad things, etc., the normal undo function might not be enough to revert the vandalism, in that situation the best case scenario is to have a rollback or admin revert all the edits at once, but if a staff member is not available, there is another way to revert edits that anyone can do, and is actually more powerful than the rollback tool, though it takes longer. Go to the page's history, find the last edit that wasn't vandalism, and click the "prev" link next to it. This will show you a diff page of what that revision was. Then, click the edit link, and it will warn you that you are editing an old version of the page, but ignore it, and save. This restores the page to the state it was in at the time of the given revision, so all newer edits, the vandalism, will be reverted.
Hopefully, the edit will be undone and that will be that. But some vandals are persistent...

Step Two: Warn Vandal

Most people know how to undo edits, but here is where confusion sometimes happens. The most important things about warning vandals are when to warn them and what to say in the warning. For the timing, I usually warn vandals after two or three bad edits. Not after one, since it might have been a mistake, unless it is a hugely inappropriate thing. After multiple bad edits it shows that they are only here to do harm. For the actual warning, go to their talk page, and use this basic, stern warning:
{{Vandal}} [what they were doing wrong, ie, 'putting up false information']. This type of behavior will not be tolerated on this site, and action will be taken if it continues. ~~~~
The {{Vandal}} template fills in the words "Please refrain from" along with a stop sign image, so that's why all you type after it is the reason then the part that shows that this is srs bizness. However, if they're a user who isn't so much vandalising, but merely doing something like messing up format or putting up unapproved pictures repeatedly, then you don't need to be so harsh sounding, since it's more likely to just be a misunderstanding. In those cases, just tell them to stop, without the 'action will be taken' part unless it continues.

Step Three: Alert Staff

If you're lucky, after the warning, the vandal will stop. But as with everything, some of them will continue vandalizing because they're out to make people mad and now they know that you're mad. Some vandals even go so far as to insult the people that undo their edits and/or warn them in the edit summaries. If this happens, just ignore it; remember that they are only trying to anger you. The one thing you must never do is go back to their talk page and start yelling at them. This will only create drama. Other than one (maybe two in some cases) warning, don't edit their talk page. If they continue to make bad edits after the warning, that pretty much sinks it that they know that they're vandalizing and don't care at all that they're breaking rules- so the next thing is to tell an admin so that they can be blocked. Just drop Bramble or me a message on our talk page, saying that there's a vandal, and linking to their contributions page so we can see proof of their vandalism. We'll block them as soon as we get online, but it's possible that it might not be for a little while, so until then, keep undoing the vandalism as much as you can (assuming it continues). If you have to leave for some reason, don't feel bad, when we get on we can always rollback their edits, but if you're online anyway, it's nice to keep a watch on the recent changes for more vandalism to stop it right away.

So there you have it. Dealing with vandals, made simple. Here's a quick recap:

See vandalism, undo it
If a few bad edits are made by the same person, warn them on their talk page; the more severe the vandalism is, the more severe your warning should be (But always sound calm and professional, never yell at the vandal themselves, just tell them that vandalism will not be tolerated)
If it continues after that, tell an admin and they'll be blocked ASAP.

Hope this helped some people wanting to help fight vandalism :) Leave any questions as blog comments. insaneular Talk 03:33, March 4, 2010 (UTC)

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