wikiHow:Patrolling Best Practices

Per a discussion in the forums, it was determined that a listing of best patrolling practices could be helpful to all patrollers. Please feel free to add tips as time goes along. Thanks to KP for originating this comprehensive list of suggestions!

EditBest Practices


  • Always keep in mind that what matters in patrolling is the quality of edits reviewed, not the quantity of edits reviewed. It is not a race.
  • Be nicer than you have to be. Patrollers are very rarely chastised for reverting an all caps unformatted rant about what's wrong with an article, but just because reverting is acceptable doesn't mean it's optimal. If his claim has merit, consider cleaning it up and integrating it into the article.
    • It can't be left like this, but he is right.
  • Read the Writer's Guide and learn a little wikimarkup. If you only know a little wikimarkup, practicing patrolling is a good way to learn more while helping maintain quality at wikiHow.
  • Trust but verify. Don't be fearful of reverting someone you think is wrong just because they've been around longer, made more edits, have admin status, or even own the site. Nobody here is perfect and even the most trusted editors sometimes edit while tired. Maybe their cat walked across their keyboard, or they were affected by a software bug. Ask about it and you might get a thanks and an apology, or you might get a good explanation and learn something. Either case is good for wikiHow; the problem gets resolved and somebody learns something.
    • Here is an example of an Admin goofing up.
  • When reverting blatant vandalism, check the user's contributions to see if he's vandalized other pages as well. If someone is vandalizing multiple pages, or continues to do so after having been warned, a report to the admin notice board might be warranted.
  • Discourage edit warring. When good faith editors revert each other, encourage them to discuss the matter with each other. If they won't do that, ask both to discuss it with you or another neutral third party. If possible, propose an appropriate compromise.
  • Communicate with editors you revert. {{test}} and {{warning}} are good general purpose templates, but often a personalized message works better -- especially with newish users who are acting in good faith but are unfamiliar with the quirks and customs of wikiHow.
  • Use "undo" rather than "rollback" if you want to leave an edit summary explaining the reason for the revert. Leaving an edit summary can also be friendlier than just using the "Reverted edits by x; changed back to last version by y" message.
  • Check edit summaries. They help explain major edits, but don't trust them blindly. Vandals have been known to disguise malicious edits under edit summaries like "fix spelling." Fortunately, you should usually be able to tell a vandal edit with a misleading edit summary unless you are patrolling carelessly or rushing your patrolling.
    • Nice try.
    • Another example.
  • Visit wikiHow's IRC channel if you want a quick second opinion from some of the site's most experienced patrollers.
  • Skip any edit that you aren't sure of, or that has problems you don't want to fix.


  • Repair rather than revert whenever possible. Many good faith edits on wikiHow are both improvements and improvable.
    • Improving recently added tips.
  • Revert additions of profanity or other incivility.
  • Revert obviously untrue statements.
  • Revert the random wiping of large amounts of content from a page unless obvious vandalism, accompanied by an edit summary justifying the removal, or if the reason for the deletion is otherwise obvious.
  • Copy edit large additions.
  • Restore the removal of an nfd tag except:
    • by an admin who reviewed the article and its discussion page and decided to keep.
    • by the editor who originally placed the tag.
    • duplicate tags.
    • tags placed in bad faith or obvious error.
    • the removal of a NFD tag from the NFD Guardian tool, by a New Article Booster or Admin.
  • Other maintenance tags like stub or format can be removed by any editor who believes they no longer apply (or restored by any editor who believes they still do). Remove them yourself as you patrol (and leave a kind note for the editor) if you see stub expanded or a successful cleanup.
  • Remove or repair advertising. Any edit containing an external link should be reviewed carefully. [1]
    • Exlinks with deceptive anchor text should always be removed. Thanks to no follow tags, this isn't even useful for search engine gaming; it just makes links look "spammier".
    • Links that are not sources, but are intended purely for promotional purposes should be removed.
    • If a user's only contributions are adding exlinks to multiple articles, they should all be removed without even needing to check the link first.
    • Changing one exlink to another without a very good reason in the edit summary is usually bad faith, but should be checked. Perhaps the URL changed, or maybe the original link was in violation of the external links policy.
      • Link to product in title replaced with a competitor's product.
    • Often one spammer will change another spammer's link or add additional spam to someone else's spam. In this case, don't revert. Check all the links and remove any that do not improve the article's credibility. Some pages by their nature are spam magnets and need regular monitoring.
      • Likely both links can go.
    • References attached to an inline citation have a lower bar for inclusion than external links added without a direct citation, but do need to support the specific statement they're attached to.
    • Check the top level domain. .gov and .edu sites are usually not problematic. But watch out for the "low-rent" parts of the internet like .info and .tk -- these are rarely high-quality sources.
    • Remove or sanitize any link containing a tracking code, affiliate id, session id, or fake anchor tag.
    • Revert any link that is mangled in an attempt to evade the spam blacklist.
  • When reverting vandalism, ensure that the previous version is good. If not, use the page history to find a good version. Timestamps can help, the newer the date on the old version, the more important it is to check the page history before reverting. Compare the current version with the last stable version.
    • Find out what the last guy did before reverting to it.
  • Diffs are not as useful for major edits. Just read through the new version to see if it's better and copy edit if necessary.
  • Pay special attention to automatic edits made without viewing the article. This includes edits made from the , the Video Adder, Categorization Tool, Proposed Redirects, and, previously, Image Adder (as seen in the example). The editor may have added an image or category without noticing that the introduction got blanked by a vandal, or created a redirect without noticing that they were overwriting an existing article.
    • He can't see that the introduction is vandalized.
  • Edits in article space should not be signed. Remove signatures, bylines, first person pronouns, and anything else that refers to the editor. [2]
  • Be suspicious of major content changes such as adding "not" to a step, or changing teaspoons to cups in a recipe. Check for consistency with the rest of the article.
    • Reverted because the new ingredients aren't accounted for in the recipe.
  • All varieties of English are acceptable, but be consistent within each article. Revert an edit that changes colour to color, when the rest of the article is in correct British English. Mark patrolled if the original variety can't be identified, either due to many spelling errors that are correct nowhere, or to being written in half American, half British, provided the editor consistently converts it to any correct variety of English.[3]
  • Ensure that internal links in the related wikiHows section link correctly to articles that actually exist. Ensure that links woven into the steps are not misleading.[4]
  • Ensure that the article is correctly categorized.
  • Try to ensure that added material isn't duplicated, and that it is in the appropriate section. Move tips to "Tips", introductory comments to the introduction, etc.
  • Things you need is intended for physical requirements for the task. Don't let it fill up with things like "patience" or "your brain."
  • If an anonymous user or inexperienced patroller removes vandalism, check the page history before marking it patrolled. Find out where the vandalism came from and make sure they got all of it.
    • Got half of it.


  • If you see a page using ##, check to see if it is sub-steps. If not, use quick edit to change it to #*. If you patrol an edit where someone else is doing this, approve it.[5]

User Pages

  • Users are given fairly broad discretion over the contents of their own user pages. Most edits by an editor to their own page should be marked as patrolled.
  • Good faith edits to someone else's user page should usually be allowed. If the user is active, they can later choose to either accept the change or revert it themselves.
  • Blanking, adding profanity, or placing personal attacks on someone else's user page is considered vandalism and should be reverted.
  • Unreasonably offensive content may be removed from any user page, even if created by that user. Patrollers are granted discretion on what is unreasonably offensive and what is merely reasonably offensive. Content that might be removed includes: attack pages, spambot pages, illegal activity, excessive profanity, and hate speech.
  • User pages containing personal information about users under 13, should be blanked and reported to the admin notice board. An admin will delete the user page and block the underage user until they can edit without violating the COPPA law.[6]

Talk and Discussion Pages

  • Crude but relevant comments like "This page sucks" can usually be kept. Revert personal attacks like "You suck."[7]
  • Revert blatantly off topic spam, but discussing the merits of brands, products, or sources is allowed, provided it is done with the aim of improving the article rather than drumming up business.
  • Editing someone else's comment is unacceptable except:
    • To remove it entirely if it is inappropriate.
    • To break a link to a blacklisted site that is preventing others. from using the talk page.
    • To move it to an archive.
    • To fix page formatting such as an unclosed tag.
  • Talk page archives should not be edited. Move the comment to the main talk page if it's relevant; if it's just a spambot, revert it.

Article Info