Main page protection

Main page locked down after major vandalism

A new outbreak of vandalism on the Main Page led to all of its components being protected from editing by non-administrators, as attempts to maintain security through obscurity were set aside indefinitely.

One instance of vandalism happened Wednesday on the In the news template, whose content was briefly replaced with a penis image. This template, which easily has the quickest turnover of the main page templates in terms of editing its content, has frequently been targeted by vandals in the past as a high-profile target.

Perfect storm of vandalism

However, the most dramatic vandalism happened on Thursday, when the template listing Wikipedia's sister projects was vandalized with the infamous image. The vandal used HTML to spread the image across the entire main page. The Recentchanges header was also vandalized in similar fashion.

Compounding the problem was the fact that the servers were responding extremely slowly at this time. According to developer Jamesday, this was because a script was being used to create the downloadable database and image dumps. As a result, it took 29 minutes to revert the vandalism of Recentchanges and 35 minutes before someone was able to restore the sister projects template.

History of main page protection

Protection of the entire main page is not an entirely new practice, as it had been regularly in place as early as 2002 in response to similar problems. The introduction of the current design last February, with much of the content being moved to templates, was accompanied by making the content open to general editing.

Before last week's events, the most recent instance of vandalism of this nature last November prompted the protection of images being used in the templates on the main page. Protecting an image prevents the file from being overwritten by another file, a technique that had been used to get offensive images substituted for the correct picture while it was being featured.

With that tactic prevented, vandals have simply resorted to uploading and editing in new pictures, as in the current situation. This led people to again revisit the question of whether any unprotected editing of the main page should be allowed. Ultimately, all images and templates used on the main page were protected, even the in the news and did you know templates, which in the past have relied considerably on participation from non-administrators. "In the news" has now adapted a subpage where non-admins can make suggestions for items to be included on the template—a system which has been in use at "Did you know" a lot longer.

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

No comments yet. Yours could be the first!


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0