Adding external links to an article or user page for the purpose of promoting a website or a product is not allowed, and is considered to be spam. Although the specific links may be allowed under some circumstances, repeatedly adding links will in most cases result in all of them being removed.
Citation spamming is the illegitimate or improper use of citations
. Citation spamming is a form of search engine optimization
that typically involves the repeated insertion of a particular citation or reference in multiple articles by a single contributor. Often these are added not to verify article content but rather to populate numerous articles with a particular citation. Variations of citation spamming include academics and scientists using their editing privileges primarily to add citations to their own work, and people replacing good or dead URLs with links to commercial sites or their own blogs. Citation spamming is a subtle form of spam and should not be confused with legitimate good-faith additions intended to verify article content and help build the encyclopedia.
Source solicitations are messages on article talk pages which explicitly solicit editors to use a specific external source to expand an article. The current consensus on Wikipedia is that templates, categories and other forms of anonymous solicitation are inappropriate. Every article on Wikipedia can be expanded as a matter of course, but the question is in the details on a per-article basis. It is not possible to simply say "all articles of X type can be expanded using Y source".
There is no hard rule on when this crosses over from being a legitimate attempt to improve the article into being internal spam, but some guidelines and questions to consider:
- Is the source commercial?
- Does the source meet the requirements of Wikipedia:Reliable sources?
- Is the suggestion being made anonymously through the use of a template or Category?
- Was the suggestion duplicated across a number of articles at the same time, particularly articles relating to different topics?
- Has there been no discussion (of a specific and substantive nature) on why the source should be used in each article?
External link spamming with bots
A few parties now appear to have a spambot capable of spamming wikis from several different wiki engines, analogous to the submitter scripts for guestbooks and blogs. They have a database of a few hundred wikis. Typically they insert external links. Like blog spam
, their aim is to improve the search engine rankings
of the external sites, not to directly advertise their product.
If you see a bot inserting external links, please consider checking the other language wikis to see if the attack is widespread. If it is, please contact a sysop
on the Meta-Wiki
; they can put in a Wikimedia-wide text filter. Any Meta sysop can edit the Wikimedia-wide spam blacklist
to add or remove the patterns that are recognized by the filter, with the changes taking effect immediately. New links can also be added to the list if a new spammer should start making the rounds.
Sysops are authorised to block
on sight. Spam bots should be treated as vandal bots. Edits by spambots constitute unauthorised defacement of websites, which is against the law in many countries, and may result in complaints to ISPs and (ultimately) prosecution.
The link spam problem extends far beyond Wikimedia projects, and is generally worse on smaller wikis where the community struggles to keep it clean. meta:Wiki Spam
page (now obsolete) has some more general information and advice for users of wikis elsewhere on the Internet, while the MediaWiki Anti-Spam Features
page describes features available in MediaWiki (for administrators running this software).
Inclusion of one spam link is not a reason to include another
Many times users can be confused by the removal of spam links because other links that could be construed as spam have been added to the article and not yet removed. The inclusion of a spam link should not be construed as an endorsement of the spam link, nor should it be taken as a reason or excuse to include another
Even if they are related to the subject or are an official page for the subject, external links containing affiliate
codes are considered spam. If the linked webpage is otherwise appropriate, please remove all referral codes from the URL.
Adding links to gratis
online videos that promote a site or product is not allowed [see exception below]. Often these videos have been uploaded in violation of their copyright, which adds an additional reason for not linking to them. A video might be a spamming video if:
- It has a banner plastered across the video giving you a website address to go to.
- It has text at this video page that would lead readers to a specific commercial site. For example, "book available at xyzBooks dot net" — [see exception below]
Exception: Generally, a video is not a spamming video if it refers to the official site associated with the Wikipedia article. For example, if the Wikipedia article is on a movie named "xyzMovie" and the official site for the movie is "xyzMovie.com" then links or references to "xyzMovie.com" are legitimate for a video at a video sharing page. Although all other links at that video page should also be legitimate, some judgement is needed. If the posted video just advertises a bunch of products associated with the movie, then it is a spamming video even though it refers to the official site.
Sometimes Wikipedia sees bookspam
, which is the insertion of text mentioning books to call attention to the books, rather than to contribute to the article. This often takes the form of inserting book listings into reference sections although the book is not used as the source of any information in the article. Bookspam is also seen as the addition of books to "external links", "further reading
" or similar sections, although the books added do not add any useful and relevant information.