WMF Global Ban Policy

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Policies and guidelines WMF Global Ban Policy
This page is also a Wikimedia official policy, established and endorsed by the Foundation. This page is technically open for editing, but edits do not constitute a change to policy; be advised to view the recent changes history when viewing it, in case someone has vandalized it and it has not yet been corrected or in case well-intentioned modifications do not align with actual policy.


Nutshell.png
This page in a nutshell: Sometimes the Wikimedia Foundation may have to enforce a global ban against an individual without going through the typical site/community process(es). This is an extraordinary permanent measure to help assure the safety of users of the Wikimedia projects and/or assist in preventing prohibited behavior that hinders dialogue, project development and expansion. This page details the policy and practices regarding the permanent revocation of access or editing privileges of users on any Wikimedia site, as implemented by the Wikimedia Foundation.

A Foundation global ban is an action the Foundation may take, pursuant to our Terms of Use, in order to address multi-project misconduct, to help ensure the safety of the editing and reading communities of all Wikimedia sites, the public, or to assist in preventing prohibited disruptive behavior that interferes with contributions and dialogue. A global ban is applied to individuals representing themselves or others and is an extraordinary action that only supplements, without replacing, the community global ban process.

The procedures followed by the Support & Safety team when considering and implementing a Foundation global ban can be found under the relevant process page.

For the safety and privacy of users, the projects, and itself, the Wikimedia Foundation refers potential criminal violations to the relevant authorities, when appropriate.

Purpose and scope[edit]

The purpose of this policy is to help improve the safety of Wikimedia community members, the movement itself, and the public in circumstances where actions on local community governance level are either insufficient or not possible.

Global and project-specific bans are also implemented by local Wikimedia community governance mechanisms. Foundation global bans are not a replacement for on-wiki processes, and are not be used to correct perceived “mistakes” that resulted from legitimate on-wiki process; local policies remain primary on all Wikimedia projects, as explained in the Terms of Use, and Foundation global bans are complementary to those local policies. However, there may be some rare cases where the Wikimedia Foundation must override local policy to protect the safety of the Wikimedia communities or the public or preserve the sites, especially when the Foundation has access to information that cannot be shared with local policy enforcers.

Bans under this policy refer to global bans implemented by the Foundation; any equivalent bans performed by the communities are explicitly called out. Accordingly, the terms “global ban” or “ban” under this policy refer to global bans implemented by the Foundation, even though similar bans may be placed by the Wikimedia Community. This policy has been published to aid in transparency and understanding, but the document here records rather than establishes policy. Any updates to policy will be recorded as soon as possible, but may go into effect before the public document is changed. Changes to this document, unless made by designated Foundation staff, may not reflect official policy and practice. Questions about changes or current practice may be addressed at the talk page or emailed to ca(at)wikimedia.org.

Implications of a global ban[edit]

A global ban prohibits individuals, either in their own capacity or as agents of others, from all editing or other access privileges in Wikimedia Foundation websites, platforms and activities. This includes, but is not limited to, any site listed at www.wikimedia.org, mailing lists hosted by the Foundation, Wikimedia Cloud Services and Wikimedia technical infrastructure such as Phabricator as well as any in-person events hosted, sponsored or funded by the Foundation. Accordingly, an individual globally banned by the Foundation may not edit, contribute, or otherwise modify any content on those sites, platforms, or lists, without the explicit permission of the Wikimedia Foundation. Additionally, a globally banned individual may not coordinate activity that results in the aforementioned situations on Foundation sites, platforms and activities, via others. Whether the banned individual or others believe the outcome of such activities would be positive or not, such activities are prohibited by the ban. Further involvement to the Wikimedia projects by the globally banned user, after their ban, does not diminish the ban’s scope or validity. Any contributions made by a banned individual, directly or indirectly, may be reverted or removed as part of ban implementation.

Criteria for consideration of a global ban[edit]

Foundation global bans are considered a last resort and are generally implemented upon receipt of complaint, investigation, extensive review and explicit approval by several Foundation staff members.

They are considered an appropriate course of action when any of the following situations apply:

  • there is a lack of ability by the communities to self-police the above scenarios or take action to resolve or mitigate them;
  • all possible community-led efforts to address the situation have been attempted and seem to have failed;
  • the Foundation has knowledge of a situation that we can not make public; such instances may include, but are not limited to, situations that involve personally sensitive information, are linked to an ongoing police investigation or court proceedings, or may present a security risk.

In combination to any of the aforementioned situations, activity that may lead to a Foundation global ban includes, but is not limited to:

  • engaging in significant or repeated harassment of users on multiple projects;
  • engaging in significant or repeated harassment off of the Wikimedia sites so as to threaten (emotionally or physically) users;
  • endangering, significantly compromising or otherwise threatening the trust or safety of our users or employees;
  • repeatedly or egregiously violating our Terms of Use, such as through hosting illegal content on Wikimedia servers; or
  • threatening or compromising the security of Wikimedia infrastructure.

Parties affected by a global ban[edit]

A Foundation global ban is placed against an individual instead of against a specific username. It therefore applies to any alternate accounts an individual may control and any accounts they might create after the ban has been enacted. It can also apply to anonymous / “IP accounts” the banned individual may be using or may use in the future. As noted above, it applies to any action initiated by such individuals, including if conducted on their behalf by other parties.

Notice of global bans[edit]

When a Foundation global ban is implemented, a brief, public note of a global ban appears on the affected individual’s user account, or on their primary user account, when they have been using multiple accounts. The same note appears on their account’s talk page. The banned individual’s account is also linked from the Foundation’s Globally banned users list.

On the day the ban goes into effect, globally banned users are notified of their status and appeals options privately, when possible, unless such notification increases a credible threat to the victim or other users, or such notification hinders an ongoing investigation. Private notification of a global ban is issued via email, when the user has registered it or submitted it through a Wikimedia site or platform. If no email address is available, no private notice is issued.

Notice of a global ban may also be issued to the reporting individual(s), as a matter of courtesy.

Appeals[edit]

Foundation global bans are final; they are not appealable, not negotiable and not reversible.

Requesting a global ban[edit]

Requests for a global ban consideration can be placed to the Foundation’s Support & Safety team (SuSa). To expedite consideration of the request, it should include the following:

  • a succinct summary of the reasons for the request;
  • evidence (URLs) that there have already been attempts to have the issue resolved through local community governance structures, where such efforts are appropriate;
  • any crucial information and evidence in support or the request, including pertinent documentation. This can include, but is not limited to, URLs to the abusive conduct being reported, community-led investigations concerning the reported individual, screenshots of off-wiki information (when directly relevant to the request), etc;
  • if the request regards a situation taking place in a language other than English, it is helpful to also provide English translations of any key texts, as this speeds up the review process.

Requests for global bans made through any other venue, including Wikimedia project talk pages, personal messaging forums, or in person, may not be considered.

If a global ban is deemed appropriate according to policy, this may be implemented by any member of the Support & Safety team, as prescribed by the Office actions policy. It should be noted that not all requests for a global ban result in implementation of such; in some situations the Foundation may proceed with alternative office actions instead, or no actions, depending on the outcome of the evaluation process. The lack of action (or the lack of public action) does not necessarily mean that a report has been perceived as invalid or illegitimate. The majority of on-wiki or user conduct issues are appropriately dealt with by the community, and the Wikimedia Foundation will default towards deferring issues to community wherever possible.

Timeline of global bans[edit]

Requests for consideration of a global ban are typically handled within a 4-week timeframe. This may be extended depending on the material that needs to be reviewed. For instance, requests for a global ban against users of non-English speaking communities may extend the review, as translation may be time-consuming.

General information[edit]

A Foundation global ban is one of several office actions the Foundation may enforce. It is important to help clarify a few points regarding Foundation global bans, in addition to office actions in general:

Positive contributions to the projects and a global ban are not mutually exclusive.
Extensive positive contribution to the Wikimedia projects does not grant immunity against a global ban; neither does holding of a respected position within a local Wikimedia community, membership in an affiliate group or position with the Foundation. Consideration for a global ban is based on the merits of the reported activity, which may not be offset by an individual’s positive prior contribution to the Wikimedia movement, if that activity falls within one of the aforementioned scenarios.

Breaches to a global ban are not acceptable.
Breaches to a Foundation global ban may result in immediate actions against the banned individual; those may include, but are not limited to, global locks, IP address blocks, IP range blocks or content removal.

Helping a globally banned user evade their ban may result in sanctions.
Knowingly facilitating the contributions of a globally banned individual, acting as a proxy for such a person, or attempting to interfere with Foundation staff or volunteer administrators, bureaucrats or functionaries enforcing a global ban in line with relevant policies may result in sanctions, including loss of advanced user rights or suspension of contributing access to Wikimedia sites. Instances of enabling a globally banned user to evade a ban can be brought to the Foundation’s attention by notifying SuSa at ca(at)wikimedia.org.

Details of global bans are confidential.
In order to protect the privacy of all parties involved, the Wikimedia Foundation generally will not publicly or privately comment on the reason for any specific banning action. The immediately affected individual may reach out to SuSa, via ca(at)wikimedia.org, should they need clarifications to any of the notices they have received regarding their global ban and further information may be provided as a courtesy. However, we will not share any information that may identify the reporting parties, compromise their right to report their experiences and/or concerns privately, or place the reporting party in danger. We will also not negotiate the merits of the ban.

Global bans are not automatic.
Foundation global bans - which are used only in extraordinary circumstances - are never automatic. Instead, they are based on extensive individual evaluation, triggered by specific circumstances. A recommendation for a global ban goes through several layers of review by Foundation staff members, including by the Trust & Safety manager, the Support & Safety Director, the Community Engagement Chief Director, the General Counsel (or appropriate delegate) and, in many cases, the Executive Director. It is possible for a global ban recommendation to be dismissed at any point in the process. Only when all necessary reviewing parties have granted their unanimous approval, is a global ban implemented.

There may be many reasons a global ban is not implemented. In some situations, a global ban may compromise the privacy and safety of the reporting and immediately affected individual(s), even if we don’t share information about them with the reported person. In other situations, enforcing a global ban may hinder ongoing police work. It’s also possible that reported conduct may rise to the level of community or Foundation sanctions, but not necessarily to that warranting a Foundation global ban.

Non-users may also be subject to a global ban.
While global bans are rare, they are usually implemented against individuals who have been active contributors to the Wikimedia projects at some point. However, it is also possible for individuals who have never made contributions to the projects to be prohibited from accessing or participating in any websites or activities supported, sponsored or funded by the Wikimedia Foundation. This is because global bans are not restricted to people who have some kind of affiliation with the projects; rather they are implemented when an individual’s activity constitutes a serious threat to the trust and safety of the editing and reading communities of any Wikimedia project and/or they disrupt contributions and dialogue.

Questions about this policy.
For further information about Wikimedia Foundation global bans, questions may be left on the discussion page of this policy, or sent by email to the Support & Safety team at ca(at)wikimedia.org. Please note that questions about specific global bans enforced by the Foundation will not be addressed, to protect the privacy of all involved. Further information on community banned users may be found here.

List of global bans placed by the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

For the full log (including, for example, alternate accounts also locked under this policy), visit the WMFOffice log.