WikiIndex talk:Blocking and banning policy

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draft blocking policy proposal[edit]

In summary:

  • People may be blocked from editing by an administrator to protect WikiIndex and its editors from harm.
    • This will be done with a very light hand.
  • Sysops block anything that resembles a spambot.
    • Simple spammers will be deleted and no further effort put in to them.
  • Don't irk our gentle editors.
    • Editors who are sufficiently annoyed will will say as much on your talk page, with a link to a WikiIndex edit that irked them. If the behavior continues, an account may get progressively longer blocks, typically starting with 3 days, to act as a wiki vacation from WikiIndex.
    • Doppelganger accounts that try to impersonate someone else will be blocked.
  • Any person may request a block from active administrators. That's also the place to discuss your view on sysops overstepping their authority regarding blocking.

I'm trying to make this (1) extremely short and (2) objective and unambiguous. Feel free to *completely* change this. However, I will be grumpy if you make it more than twice as long. --DavidCary 16:17, 20 August 2009 (EDT)

I made it much shorter, hopefully clearer and it is much different than English Wikipedia - SoftSecurity is my intent. ~~ MarkDilley

Discussion[edit]

I think that all edits should be initially looked at as test edits - never as spam - this is from my strong belief in assume good faith. ~~ MarkDilley
I think that when we phrase our work as warning people - we have started off on the not assume good faith foot and so I suggest that instead we try to encourage people to be constructive. ~~ MarkDilley

After staring at the red link to this page for a while, I grew suspicious that we aren't being real consistent in when and for how long we put down blocks on spammers. A cursory scan of Wikipedia's blocking policy suggests the notion that lengthy blocks on IP addresses is a little extreme. For reference I pulled up the blocking policies on a few other wikis: Uncyclopedia, HRWiki — User:Sean Fennel@ 14:19, 18 January 2007 (PST)

The Wikipedia:Blocking policy is to block for 24 hours on the first incident, "longer for successive violations". Looking at Special:Ipblocklist and the WikiIndex block log, I see some people at WikiIndex think "infinite" blocks are appropriate. Some people at WikiIndex at WikiProject:Junking bots suggest 3 days for the first incident.

I think we need to balance 2 things:

  • We need to make it long enough that we don't have to waste all our time cleaning up after spammers who continue to spam -- over an over again -- as soon as the block period is over. Because we don't want to become grumpy, overworked sysops.
  • We need to make it short enough that people who would otherwise be fine, productive, upstanding members of our community, but accidentally make a questionable edit and are (accidentally?) banned by grumpy, overworked sysops, aren't driven away and lost forever. Would you stick around some place that, after you made some tiny little mistake, publicly posted signs accusing you of being a (gasp!) {{spammer}} and refused to take those signs down or even let you say anything in your defense -- not even "I'm sorry and I'll never do that again"?

Is there any way to objectively decide whether the "first block time" is too long or too short? --DavidCary 03:11, 21 June 2009 (EDT)

For minor offenses warnings should be given out the first time. Users who have been warned will certainly see the warning when they get a notice that they have new messages. A short block may be overlooked if the user did not try to edit during the block period. If an offense is repeated after a warning administrators can assume the user knew his/her behavour was unacceptable. Proxima Centauri 13:17, 11 July 2009 (EDT)

Agree with proxima though spambots that are logged in should be blocked indefinitely but anon spambots have to be checked to see if they are open proxies or zombie computers and if they are, they should be blocked for a maximum of 1 year but if that IP has similar problems on all the other major wikis out there, block should be extended to 3 years as a safe precaution...--Comets 01:12, 12 July 2009 (EDT)
The key is to not be a target of vandals. Then there are the spambots, which are obvious, I would hope. Block them forever, or for years. PC is right, a short block might go unnoticed by a real person editor, a warning makes more sense. Do you guys get a lot of vandalism here, or just random botting/trolling? At RationalWiki we really don't much vandalism, a few trolls, I guess, but mostly no one harasses a wiki that has lots of active editors/sysops (we sysop everyone, pretty much). OK, maybe it's because we're a fairly cool site, trolls prefer to attack loser sites. But it might really be because we are active enough that trolls/spammers see they'd be wasting their time. Hope I helped in some way. Huw Powell 06:23, 12 July 2009 (EDT)

Different wikis have different policies and block lengths are inevitably arbitrary. English Wiktionary hands out short blocks when English Wikipedia would warn a user and in my opinion the Wikipedia policy is better for several reasons,

  1. Wiktionary users may not realize that they have been blocked if they don’t happen to try and edit again till the block has expired. Then they get repeated entries in their block logs without even knowing that they have done anything unacceptable.
  2. When they realized they have been blocked or try to edit during a block this is unnecessarily punishing.
  3. When users who have done something unacceptable get a warning on their talk page they will certainly see it next time they log in and the warning is less punishing.

Wikia prefers warnings before blocks for minor offenses. Here’s the Liberapedia Category Policy, though in practise these rules are not consistently observed. At Liberapedia liberals are treated gently while administrators assume that conservatives aren’t likely to want to contribute constructively and they tend to get treated as vandals. Here are the Atheism Wiki Blocking policies Note that, "Sysops are encouraged to try to reason with vandals if possible."
Trying to reason with vandals can feed trolls and one should be careful before doing that.

Note further that, "Sysops should try not block people with whom they are in personal debate."
I've been here struggling with trolls from RationalWiki and I could not easily block them because of the above rule, when finally I did block one of them predictably I was accused of administrative abuse. I feel other administrators should be more ready to support an administrator who can't easily use blocking power in a personal debate.

From the blockee’s point of view being blocked is more unpleasant and more punishing that, for example finding that a wiki is no longer online or is temporarily out of edit mode for everyone. Ban windows are designed by expert advertisers to be unpleasant.

Spambots don't have feelings so it doesn't matter whether you are consistent not. I sometimes take character into consideration as well as the offense, that’s why I was harsher to inactive than to User:ChrisChanSonichu Proxima Centauri 10:31, 10 July 2009 (EDT)

Trolls and vandals sometimes mix constructive edits with vandalism for varied reasons though the main reason is to hide unconstructive edits. Then sysops stop giving suspicious edits that might be good faith edits the benifit of any doubt, this hapens especially often if the sysop has just spent a long time cleaning up after vandalism. Next stage:- complaints of sysop abuse etc that may or may not be justified. Proxima Centauri 15:31, 10 July 2009 (EDT)

On English Wikipedia, if you block someone, they can still edit their own talk page. I don't know if that's in effect here, but I assume it is a configurable parameter. The advantage of this is that the blocked party has a venue to ask to be unblocked if they think that they have been blocked unfairly. This would particularly be useful for situations where we've blocked IP addresses which are used or reused by multiple people, for example, a school.
As far as deciding on whether a block is too long or too short, I think that's always going to be subjective. So, we can either be arbitrary and define what's appropriate. Or we can let admins do as they deem appropriate. I think it's even fair game to shorten the length of a ban set by another admin. I see it happen frequently on Wikipedia - with justification, of course.
I don't think that I've blocked many people here at WikiIndex and then only in cases of obvious vandalism or spamming. I tend to fall on the draconian side - I'm pretty sure that my blocks have always been non-expiring. However, I'm perfectly happy to use a system of escalating blocks according to repeated incidents. On Wikipedia, it's non uncommon for a first-time offender of its various rules to be blocked for 24 hours. It then usually escalates to 48 hours, 72 hours, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or infinity. For us, we could set the block interval at any arbitrary point in between. I don't think we should be too lenient, though. If someone continues to vandalize or spam after being blocked twice, it seems to me that we should just ban them forever. I'm open to suggestion, however. --MarvelZuvembie 16:55, 10 July 2009 (EDT)

I once needed to edit my talk page at Wikipedia, I edited from a different IP address, not my usual one and an administrator thought someone else was impersonating me. It was quite annoying but I'd have minded more if someone had really impersonated me and the admins had done nothing. Anyway I edited my talk age and tried to explain and later wrote more from my usual IP adress. I agree that blocked users should be able to edit their talk pages but if they write rubbish on their talk age then we protect the talk page or reset the block to prevent that. Proxima Centauri 04:52, 11 July 2009 (EDT)

I think there are at least 3 different categories of "problem users". I have a particular hatred for one particular category, so I am almost relieved when I see other kinds of problems.
If someone inserted dozens of irrelevant links as commercial advertising (spamming) -- or worse, deleting good content and replacing with such spam on several pages? Then I feel justified in a immediate first-time block of a month (you could probably talk me into 6 months) with no previous warning. I would like to block spammers forever. But I don't think their IP numbers should be blocked forever on the first block, because many such spammers use a ISP that rotates their IP numbers periodically, and I don't want to punish innocent people for merely using the same ISP that was once used by a spammer 5 years ago. (If we get spam again from the same IP 6 months later, then you could probably convince me that spammer is not on such a rotating ISP, and so blocking that IP for years on the second block probably won't harm innocent users).
If you really want your edits to irk me the most, spamming is the way to go.
Every other kind of edit is, in my opinion, not as bad, and so should get a shorter block, or perhaps merely a warning, or perhaps ignored ("don't feed the trolls").
Even edits such as these are still not as bad as replacing good content with spam, even though they may make a lot of work for us to clean up:
  • repeatedly blanking a user talk page even after being warned;
  • blanking many user and user talk pages;
  • edit warring by repeatedly insisting on preserving his own version of some page;
  • inserting a bogus category on many pages;
  • trolling by posting inflammatory statements on many discussion pages;
  • falsely accusing a bunch of editors of being spammers;
  • blocking a bunch of good or mediocre editors forever;
etc.
I don't think reverting a single edit counts as "a lot of work", so I'm inclined to ignore such things the first time they happen, hoping that it was a one-time lapse of good judgment, or possibly revert them without comment. Perhaps around the 3rd incident, I'll post a warning and simultaneously slap on a 3-day block. Or if I see someone else has posted a warning, and they've continue to make such bad edits, warn them again and simultaneously block for a month or so.
Some edits are all too easy to do accidentally, and easy for others to notice and undo:
  • accidentally blanking everything on some other user's talk page. Then I think it would be better to point out what happened on that user's talk page, tell them how to undo such accidents, and warn them not to do it again.
  • making a page or two to talk about something would be acceptable on other wiki, but is considered off-topic here at WikiIndex, such as "vanity pages". Then I think it would be better to point out such things are off-topic on that user's talk page, tell them a wiki that would be more appropriate for such things, and warn them that such off-topic pages will "soon" be deleted. If someone puts a lot of work into such a well-intentioned page, and then they are blocked without warning and all their work deleted without warning -- that seems like overkill, and counterproductive -- too often such a user becomes angry and (as soon as the block expires) starts vandalizing.
But alas, even if you took my above rambling preferences (and I haven't even started my rant on how "reasonably named users" vs "IP users" vs "user names that make statements!!one!" affect my blocking decisions) and made it policy, I wouldn't like it -- policy pages should be short and crisp and objective and unambiguous.
I've attempted to create such a short, etc. policy above.
What it still lacks is:
  • it would be nice if it was clear exactly what kinds of edits are so unacceptable as to draw a block. Is "insufficiently flattering our beloved leader" sufficiently irksome? Perhaps a link to the WikiIndex:Guidelines?
  • It looks like one sysop is on a vendetta when a user's block log shows only one sysop name. Is there some way we can reduce the appearance of a vendetta, and show that more than one sysop actually does approve of the block? Perhaps tweak this policy to disallow one sysop making two consecutive blocks? Or only allow blocks by one sysop only after someone else (perhaps not a sysop) puts a warning message on the blockee's user talk page?
But alas, it's not obvious to me how to include any of that stuff without making it unbearably long.
--DavidCary 16:17, 20 August 2009 (EDT)

vanity pages[edit]

I think vanity pages are acceptable if the user makes useful contributions as well, it's a way of paying the user for doing work. Doing nothing except edit a vanity page is unacceptable to me. Proxima Centauri 20:39, 20 August 2009 (EDT)

I agree that there is no reason to keep a person here who will never in the future help us.
I am surprised that you find an action that is encouraged on other wiki to be grounds for blocking on WikiIndex. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean by "vanity page"? or "unacceptable"?
I hope you agree with me that a person who only edits a single page does less harm to us (his work can be more easily reverted and the page can be protected) than a troll who trolls across several pages (who in turn does less harm to us than a spambot), and so should be treated less harshly than a troll.
I hope you can see that some person might think it is hypocritical of me to both (a) put information about myself on my user page, but (b) block a user and immediately delete all of that user's edits when that person has made no edits, good or bad, other than putting information about himself on his own user page.
I don't know of any wiki where sysops immediately delete user pages without warning. People who follow the Wiki: AreYouThere protocol first post a warning, then wait at least a year(!), then delete that user page. Wikipedia never deletes such pages: "A user's contributions that consist solely of a lone edit to their user page, ..., should not normally be deleted" -- Wikipedia: user page
Most wiki generally *encourage* newcomers to make a user page as one of their first edits.
  • "As a first step, you can create a WikiHomePage using your WikiName." -- Wiki: AddYourName
  • "Joining Meatball is as simple as saying hello. ... Practice in the SandBox! Once you are comfortable, sign our guestbook, RecentVisitors, with your real name and then create your very own homepage here." -- starting page of MeatballWiki
  • "It would be great for you to create your personal page, as it helps in creating and expanding a vibrant community composed of Real People. You may add links to your social networks ..." -- AboutUs: TheWikiWay:PersonalPage
WikiIndex is *different* from other wiki, so it is certainly reasonable for us to do things completely differently from any other wiki.
If we choose to delete some kinds of user pages immediately, I think it would be polite to mention that fact somewhere on this WikiIndex, and perhaps even give the reasons why we do things our way. Perhaps a sufficiently persuasive page will help other people from other wiki realize that they are Doing It Wrong and start doing things The Right Way.
--DavidCary 14:21, 21 August 2009 (EDT)

Several companies hid spam in what looked superficially like a userpage. Therefore I treated these pages as spam and blocked the spammers. Others seemed to be using their uerpages for commercial promotion of their own work so I also treated these as spam. For some reason Wikiindex is attrative to spammers, perhaps we haven't got good spam filters, perhaps an index attracts readers that spammers hope will buy their products. There is certainly a risk that inocent work can be mistaken for spam. Proxima Centauri 14:37, 21 August 2009 (EDT)

zombie computer[edit]

How do we check if a spammer is a zombie computer? is there any way we can alert the owner? Proxima Centauri 01:44, 12 July 2009 (EDT)

Link to that website in the block notification template, I suppose. Lumenos 03:02, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
You could suggest they use Symantec Security Check if they think they are infected (if that link doesn't work try this link). Lumenos 03:22, 29 August 2009 (EDT)

People may also be having their WiFi used without knowing it. Many wireless routers do not alert the owners that it can be used by anyone if it has no password. Secondly, even if it has a strong password (especially WEP) I've read that these are often trivial to crack. Lumenos 03:07, 29 August 2009 (EDT)

You can secure your router well with WEP. Anyway, how many zombie computers are there going to be attacking Wikiindex? Think sensibly. Phantom Hoover 04:51, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
Perhaps you are aware of how to prevent this, "In 2005, a group from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation gave a demonstration where they cracked a WEP-protected network in 3 minutes using publicly available tools."[1]? (It doesn't mention[I didn't notice anything about] the password strength but appears as if it doesn't matter.) Lumenos 05:24, 29 August 2009 (EDT) (Updated Lumenos 07:05, 6 September 2009 (EDT))
I've not a clue as to the intentions of the, oh what shall we call them, the "black crackers". I heard the zombies were popular for spam. How does one become informed as to all of the precise motivations of some mischievous kid who knows how to search the Internet underground criminals who presumably operate using obfuscation techniques? Lumenos 05:24, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
Sorry, typo; I meant WPA. You really don't have a vandal problem here. You have only a few edits from non-logged in users a day, so it is very unlikely that there is a hacker conspiracy hell bent on destroying your site. Phantom Hoover 07:38, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
I prefer the term "wandalism", but how would one define this without establishing any inclusion policy? Lumenos 09:59, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
I know what wandalism means, but you aren't on RW so I can forgive you for not knowing who I am. Look, you do not have a wandal problem. Phantom Hoover 15:44, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
Link is for others who may read this. You are probably unaware of my expansive fan base. ;-) Lumenos 14:45, 30 August 2009 (EDT)

Biographical info[edit]

About this proposal: "* Users may be blocked from editing by an administrator to protect WikiIndex and its editors from harm." I assume this is referring to "private" information. I'm writing a more in-depth analysis, and trying to establish consensus here. Lumenos 03:04, 29 August 2009 (EDT)

As for the time being, I would suggest you go with Wikipedia's guidelines on biographical information and also include their standard of notability as explained in that link. For example, most wiki administrators would not meet English Wikipedia's notability guideline therefore you would delete information about them. When editors complain or violate it, someone might direct them WikiIndex:Policies and Guidelines#Biographical info and maybe they will present their case and we could establish some general guidelines that would work better for WikiIndex being that it generally has a more specialized notability criteria. Lumenos 03:04, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
Secondly, perhaps some standard could be established regarding wikis being excluded if they do not meet basic legal requirements for privacy, or whatever standards may be agreed upon by a significant majority of editors. If there gets to be edit warring over the policy pages so this "consensus" is not possible, the owners would have to decide, I suppose. Lumenos 03:04, 29 August 2009 (EDT)
While it should not surprise me that people misunderstand me when I say nothing, I find I am occasionally surprised at how people misunderstand what I have written.
Yes, "private" information is one of the seven things to which that sentence refers.
No, I was not specifically thinking about "private" information, when I wrote that. It was intended to be a quick summary of the line between "the seven actions which are blockable offenses" vs. "actions which, while rude and annoying, are not quite bad enough to be blockable".
As I have said before, in my opinion, every publicly-available wiki should be listed on this WikiIndex, no matter how evil. The only exception is when that wiki's owner or that wiki's community chooses to WikiIndex:OptOut. (Although I don't understand why one would put a wiki on the public web, but not want anyone to know about it, I will respect such wishes).
Others seem to agree with my "completist" preferences.
You may be able to convince me that we shouldn't display offensive wiki logos, and perhaps you may convince me that we shouldn't make an easily-clickable active link to an illegal site. But to completely censor every mention of a wiki? How does "pretend that evil wiki don't exist" help our users?
--DavidCary 23:35, 2 September 2009 (EDT)
I apologize for assuming that you would be focused on the privacy issue. In my haste, I completely ignored the clear opening statement, "Wikipedia has an excellent Wikipedia:Blocking policy. The WikiIndex blocking policy is pretty much the same, except that -- since WikiIndex runs at a slower pace than Wikipedia -- we start with a longer 'first block time'. In summary:..." So I suppose the only difference you are suggesting, between Wikipedia's policy and WikiIndex, is the time of the first block? (It now seems obvious that you are.) Lumenos 03:28, 3 September 2009 (EDT)

A related discussion[edit]

If you go here and see DavidCary's post dated 12:27, 5 September 2009, I think this may be considered a sort of "policy proposal" as well. Lumenos 07:01, 6 September 2009 (EDT)

Comparing the block policy proposals[edit]

(Should Lumenos comment on this page?)

DavidCary's original proposal begins by saying it "is pretty much the same" as Wikipedia's block policy. There was one important difference I noticed between WikiIndex' block policy, and English Wikipedia's, but I don't want to mention it. (If any administrator here, wants to know what I'm talking about e-mail me.) If that is still the case the block policy shouldn't say it "is pretty much the same" as Wikipedia. But I do think Wikipedia's block policy would be good for suggestions, for sysops who are considering a possibly controversial block.

"Don't irk our gentle editors" opens the door to blocking people simply because someone is "irked", not because any rule was broken. One "sysop" posted warnings, then blocked. I don't think this block was upheld by Dilley (or maybe the "owner").

"People may be blocked [...] to protect WikiIndex and its editors from harm." That sysop may have believed that they were protecting WikiIndex (or themselves) from "harm". There is no definition of "harm" here. Using terms like "harm" and "nonviolence", seems odd/vague, when most of this stuff is like content disagreements. Maybe there were some issues with "harassment". IMHO one of the primary reasons for policy is to clarify these sorts of things so that when there is a situation or emergency, you are prepared and united. --Lumenos 18:15, 24 June 2010 (EDT)

I received a question with regards to why I am blocking spammers infinitely. I do not see a reason why if someone posts a spam link 100 times on a page that they should be allowed to return to do so again. I'll note that Mateo was banned for a year, and then came back and immediately did the exact thing. Therefore he gets a ban for that. As well, I have noticed on my own Wiki that if I short banned a spammer, they came back again and again to spam. If I perma-banned them, they would return over and over again to see the long term ban. That tells me that they are automated scripts, not people and so it shouldn't matter to them. I do not see why, personally, why we should have to deal with the same user/spammer/robot over and over again before removing them. Obvious spammers or posters of gibberish on a page do not deserve a second chance to do it again. We all have better things to do than clean up their mess and if it takes up all of our time then we do not have the energy to put into Wikiindex to make it better. Long comment, sorry, but I wanted to be clear on my reasoning. TeraS 10:17, 25 September 2011 (PDT)
Spambots shall be blocked, forever and ever. Amen. --MarvelZuvembie 14:34, 26 September 2011 (PDT)