Any wiki with a form of web-editing enabled will have to deal with spam. (See the blogspam plugin for one defensive tool you can deploy).


  • you are using ikiwiki to manage the website for a softwaresite
  • you allow web-based commits, to let people correct documentation, or report bugs, etc.
  • the documentation is stored in the same revision control repository as your software

It is undesirable to have your software's VCS history tainted by spam and spam clean-up commits. Here is one approach you can use to prevent this. This example is for the git version control system, but the principles should apply to others.

Isolate web commits to a specific branch

Create a separate branch to contain web-originated edits (named doc in this example):

$ git checkout -b doc

Adjust your setup file accordingly:

gitmaster_branch => 'doc',

merging good web commits into the master branch

You will want to periodically merge legitimate web-based commits back into your master branch. Ensure that there is no spam in the documentation branch. If there is, see 'erase spam from the commit history', below, first.

Once you are confident it's clean:

# ensure you are on the master branch
$ git branch
* master
$ git merge --ff doc

removing spam

short term

In the short term, just revert the spammy commit.

If the spammy commit was the top-most:

$ git revert HEAD

This will clean the spam out of the files, but it will leave both the spam commit and the revert commit in the history.

erase spam from the commit history

Git allows you to rewrite your commit history. We will take advantage of this to eradicate spam from the history of the doc branch.

This is a useful tool, but it is considered bad practise to rewrite the history of public repositories. If your software's repository is public, you should make it clear that the history of the doc branch in your repository is unstable.

Once you have been spammed, use git rebase to remove the spam commits from the history. Assuming that your doc branch was split off from a branch called master:

# ensure you are on the doc branch
$ git branch
* doc
$ git rebase --interactive master

In your editor session, you will see a series of lines for each commit made to the doc branch since it was branched from master (or since the last merge back into master). Delete the lines corresponding to spammy commits, then save and exit your editor.

Caveat: if there are no commits you want to keep (i.e. all the commits since the last merge into master are either spam or spam reverts) then git rebase will abort. Therefore, this approach only works if you have at least one non-spam commit to the documentation since the last merge into master. For this reason, it's best to wait until you have at least one commit you want merged back into the main history before doing a rebase, and until then, tackle spam with reverts.