How to Recognize a Spambot on wikiHow

Three Methods:New ArticlesUser PagesForum Spambots

Advertising is very large these days, and continues to grow as more people promote their products. Unfortunately, some of those people attempt to do it here, with spambots. Some spambots also clog up our system with seemingly useless messages. Here's how to recognize those spambots when they attack!


  1. 1
    Look if the message contains an advertisement with an external link, or merely an external link alone.
  2. 2
    Look if the message contains generic comments.
  3. 3
    Search the message on a search engine like Google. Does the message appear on many other sites?
  4. 4
    See if it's edited a page that shouldn't be edited. New comments should never be posted to archive pages. Since the main page no longer has a discussion tab, any spambots who posted new comments on Discussion:Main Page probably found it by guessing URLs, not by following a link from the Main Page.[2]
    • An example of this is certain category pages. Categories with the word "board" in their title, whether or not they have to do with message boards (internet forums), are subject to spambots[3] who apparently mistaken the edit page for such pages as a posting form for blogs or forums.[4]

Method 1
New Articles

  1. 1
    Look at the edit summary. Most new articles get the default edit summary "creating new article." Spambots may change this to a list of keywords (perhaps mistaking it for the tags field in a blog) or random gibberish.
  2. 2
    Read the title. Most humans, knowing that this is a howto wiki, will choose a title sort of resembles a howto, like how to walking dogs. On the other hand, titles like Beijing Widget, Inc. opens new office in Vancouver will surely need to be deleted.
  3. 3
    Check if the article has the same text pasted into intro, steps, tips, and warnings. Most humans will at least try to get this right.
  4. 4
    Check the writing. Some spambots will post in a foreign language. Others will post in very badly translated English. Some spambots deliberately butcher their English so they can post variations of the same article in thousands of places without having search engines identify them as such.

Method 2
User Pages

Another popular type of spambot creates user profiles. For example, these were probably all created by a SEO company who promises to create user profiles for each of their clients on hundreds of the web's most popular social networking sites. [5][6][7][8][9]

  1. 1
    Look for a new user with a corporate name who creates a user page for themselves within minutes of registering. Often the user will make no other edits.
  2. 2
    See if the user page includes non-functional html, nonexistent categories, broken off-site images, or broken templates with no effort to either correct the errors or ask anyone for help. Some spambots will delete the welcome template and post the same broken spam to their talk page rather than using the information in their welcome to get help.
  3. 3
    See if the format of the page is very similar to that of other known spambots.

Method 3
Forum Spambots

  1. 1
    Do they make generic threads saying something like, "Nice topic, I love this blog!"
  2. 2
    See if they make a thread with a guest name or thread title advertising something free or cheap, such as "cheap mbt shoes."
  3. 3
    Do they make many of the same threads in the same forum section or across several forum sections?
  4. 4
    Does a user sign up for an account only to make a forum post with a link saying something like "Acai Berry Cleanse" after it? Sometimes, the message they supply can be surprisingly relevant, one example being a now-deleted post in a thread about animals being affected by the BP oil spill.


  • Be sure to assume good faith. Don't be quick to report somebody that only shows little evidence of being a spambot.
  • Sometimes it's hard to differentiate spambots from human spammers. While fully manmade spam isn't welcome on wikiHow either, people can sometimes be reasoned with. There are editors on wikiHow who might have initially been mistaken for spambots, but who, with coaching, have agreed to stop spamming and publicize themselves the right way. Coaching doesn't always work, but when it does, it's better than a block.

Miscellaneous Examples

  • - Poor grammar; string of gibberish on end is different every time; posted on multiple pages before.
  • - Posted on multiple pages before; (incorrectly embedded) external link; generic and poorly written comments; posted on multiple pages before.
  • - Barely related thank-you message; been posted on multiple pages before; doing a Google search reveals that the same message has been posted on many other sites. That, or somebody really likes our site.

Sources and Citations

  2. - (The spambot just copied an older message and added its url to the end of it; original post was ~3 above the bots post)
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Article Info

Categories: Patrolling