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Bans and blocks

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Substantial discussion during May/June 2003 is moved to Bans_and_blocks/old

The problem


As of May, 2004, the policy pages regarding blocks and bans are no longer followed. Salient policy pages are:

see also the discussion on the related talk page and also at:

Summary of policy


Briefly, existing policy states that blocks can be used:

  • For bots that create problems
  • For permanent blocking of open proxies
  • For user names that are inappropriate
  • For anonymous users who engage in repeated vandalism
  • For logged-in users whose only edits are vandalism
  • To enforce rulings of the Arbitration Committee or Jimbo Wales.

The hole in the policy


The ongoing discussion revolves around the handling of users who are disruptive but make at least some good edits. These users fall into two categories:

  • Deliberate troublemakers trying to game the system
  • Regular contributors who, for whatever reason, are driven to edit without regard to Wikiquette.

Members in each of these categories have been blocked in the last few months. Some blocks have remained in place; others have been removed promptly. In almost all cases, discussion has ensued and has sometimes been divisive.

Deliberate troublemakers


One or more users -- it's impossible to tell how many due to use of multiple user names -- know the Wikipedia culture well enough to realize that if they make occasional, valid edits they can also engage in some vandalism without fear of a block. Patterns vary, but these users generally target a few pages of interest and insist upon inclusion of some sort of inappropriate edit. A good deal of time is spent dealing with such users. Part of the difficulty is that not all Wikipedians may be familiar with the editing pattern and may conclude that Wikipedians who have dealt with the problem user regularly are being harsh as a result.

Difficulty arises in reconciling the general desire to assume good faith with the need to efficiently and effectively deal with editors who are not acting in good faith.

Several such users have been blocked, and in almost all cases lengthy and unproductive discussion has ensued at the "review of admin actions" page.

Regular contributors


Some regular contributors occasionally ignore community expectations to such a point that blocks have been used as a punitive measure, to provide a cooling off period, and to give the community a respite from the problematic activity.

Cases have chiefly involved:

  • Violation of the no personal attacks policy
  • Excessive reverts