VEWS: A wikipedia vandal early warning system

Srijan Kumar, Francesca Spezzano, V. S. Subrahmanian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

62 Scopus citations


We study the problem of detecting vandals on Wikipedia before any human or known vandalism detection system reports flagging potential vandals so that such users can be presented early to Wikipedia administrators. We leverage multiple classical ML approaches, but develop 3 novel sets of features. Our Wikipedia Vandal Behavior (WVB) approach uses a novel set of user editing patterns as features to classify some users as vandals. Our Wikipedia Transition Probability Matrix (WTPM) approach uses a set of features derived from a transition probability matrix and then reduces it via a neural net auto-encoder to classify some users as vandals. The VEWS approach merges the previous two approaches. Without using any information (e.g. reverts) provided by other users, these algorithms each have over 85% classification accuracy. Moreover, when temporal recency is considered, accuracy goes to almost 90%. We carry out detailed experiments on a new data set we have created consisting of about 33K Wikipedia users (including both a black list and a white list of editors) and containing 770K edits. We describe specific behaviors that distinguish between vandals and non-vandals. We show that VEWS beats ClueBot NG and STiki, the best known algorithms today for vandalism detection. Moreover, VEWS detects far more vandals than ClueBot NG and on average, detects them 2.39 edits before ClueBot NG when both detect the vandal. However, we show that the combination of VEWS and ClueBot NG can give a fully automated vandal early warning system with even higher accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationKDD 2015 - Proceedings of the 21st ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450336642
StatePublished - Aug 10 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event21st ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, KDD 2015 - Sydney, Australia
Duration: Aug 10 2015Aug 13 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining


Other21st ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, KDD 2015


  • Behavior modeling
  • Early detection
  • Vandal detection
  • Wikipedia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems


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