MediaWiki Administrator's Handbook/Recent Changes Patrol
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The Recent Changes Patrol consists of examining recent edits to the wiki for test edits, blanking of pages, vandalism, and other negative changes. Each wiki has a Special:Recentchanges page; most wikis have a link to "Recent changes" at the left. Any user can use this page and help revert vandalism. However, only sysops can block users and delete bad pages. Thus it is important for sysops to sometimes inspect recent changes and stop persistent spammers and vandals.
Every recent edit appears in Recent Changes. Thus, if a page is edited twice, both the top edit and previous edit appear. Thus, it is not possible to hide an edit by making another edit.
Some wikis let users mark edits in recent changes as patrolled edit. The idea is to mark every edit that does not harm the wiki. Some wikis let any user mark patrolled edits, but at Wikimedia, the wikis restrict it to sysops. On some Wikimedia sites, like Wikipedia, this feature is disabled.
Type of bad edits
- Creation of new speedy deletion candidates. Many wikis have a deletion policy, such as Wikibooks deletion policy. Sysops are in position to delete obvious junk pages that some users create.
- Creation of pages with bad names. Many Wikimedia wikis have naming conventions, such as Wikibooks naming policy. A sysop can move the page to a better name (if the page is not useless), then delete the redirect. For example, a page titled with ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS is probably bad.
- Spam. Some users like to add WikiSpam to wikis, adding lots of links to their own web sites so that their search-engine rankings increase. This tactic is more effective on more popular wikis, and Wikimedia hosts most of the largest and most popular wikis. Thus Wikimedia wikis are favorite targets of Spam. A common tactic of Spammers is to use CSS to hide spam so that readers do not see it, but search engines do. However, such spam becomes obvious when editing a page or viewing a diff.
- Blanking. Bots or vandals that delete chunks of pages, apparently at random.
Type of users
There are generally five kinds of users that make edits.
- Frequent contributors make the most edits. Often, these users are most recognisable by users who patrol the recent changes. Thus, it is least likely that any user will check these edits. A user that does try to check edits is likely to only pick a few edits at random, and not examine the others.
- Blue-shirt contributors have names that appear in blue, meaning that they have user pages. A user is more likely to check red-shirt contributors than these.
- Red-shirt contributors have names that appear in red, because they have no user page. Many of these contributors are new users with good intentions. However, vandals and sockpuppets who want to hide their IP address or use the page-move feature often become "anonymous redshirts". 
- IP addresses edit the wiki without creating an account. These users like to fix errors in pages. However, spammers tend not to create accounts. Thus users tend to check these edits most carefully and often. IP addresses cause so much trouble that sysops block them more often than other users. 
- Brand new contributors are people who have their account creation very close to often a large number of contributions. These deserve some special attention because even when they are not doing vandalism, they are not likely to be familiar with policies on the project or do quite a bit of experimentation. Be extra careful with these people as they are more likely to become the regular contributors of the future and are the source of new help for the project. Still, watch carefully for vandalism from these editors or for sockpuppeting, especially if they create a user page as one of their first edits.
Some users are so bad that sysops block the user, then revert all edits made by that user without checking them.