At midnight on February 13th, 2014, a Wikipedia user named Lightningawesome added to the list of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters a lengthy biography of Lightning Dash, a capricious, lovable filly existing only in fan fiction. Around that time, an unnamed user defaced the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission page, writing, “The LHTBM is nothing but a sect that ruins peoples lives!!!” Four minutes later, someone changed the title of Battlefield 4 to “Kentucky Friend [sic] Chicken and a Pizza Hut.” Three minutes after that, the Horrible Histories page had scrawled across it a dire warning: “You need to get off wikipedia or you will DIEEEE.”

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia “anyone can edit,” and as of this writing it’s had nearly 700 million edits — not all of them well-meaning. Sometimes the mischief is directed, as when The Oatmeal encouraged readers to include Thomas Edison under possible references for “douchebag,” or when Stephen Colbert sends his viewers out to alter “Wikiality” by, say, “proving,” that Warren G. Harding’s middle initial stands for “gangsta.” Mostly, though, it’s predictably uninteresting — shout-outs, profane opinions, keyboard-mashed gibberish — happening thousands of times a day over more than 4 million articles.

But you’ll likely never see any of it. Within minutes if not seconds, bad edits are “reverted,” banished to a seldom-seen revision history. As Wikipedia has grown in size and complexity, so has the task of quality control; today that responsibility falls to a cadre of cleverly programmed robots and “cyborgs” — software-assisted volunteers who spend hours patrolling recent edits. Beneath its calm exterior, Wikipedia is a battlezone, and these are its front lines.