Blocking is a method by which administrators can prevent users from editing, viewing, or connecting to Lockwiki. Blocks are used to prevent damage or disruption to the site, not to punish users.
Users may request a block or unblock on the administrators talk page. Users requesting blocks should supply credible evidence of the circumstances warranting a block. Administrators are never obliged to place a block and are free to investigate the situation themselves. Because blocks may be reviewed and appealed, it is often important that the blocking and reviewing administrators each communicate with and take care to inform the other. Except in the case of errors, administrators should not undo blocks by other administrators without first discussing it.
Purpose and goal
All blocks ultimately exist to protect the project from harm, and reduce likely future problems. When lesser measures are inadequate, or problematic conduct persists, appropriate use of a block can help achieve this in four important ways:
- Preventing imminent or continuing damage and disruption to Lockwiki.
- Deterring the continuation of disruptive behavior by making it more difficult to edit.
- Encouraging a rapid understanding that the present behavior cannot continue and will not be tolerated.
- Encouraging a more productive, congenial editing style within community norms.
For the purposes of protection and encouragement, blocks may escalate in duration to protect Lockwiki while allowing for the cessation of disruptive editing and the return to respected editing.
Commons reasons for blocking
The following are some of the most common rationales for blocks.
As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, do not block; instead, consult other administrators for advice. After placing a block that may be controversial, it is a good idea to make a note of the block at the administrators' noticeboard for peer review.
Administrators should take special care when dealing with new users. Beginning editors are often unfamiliar with Lockwiki policy and convention, and so their behavior may initially appear to be disruptive. Responding to these new users with excessive force can discourage them from editing in the future.
A user may be blocked when necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Lockwiki, its users or the public. A block for protection may be necessary in response to:
- persistently making personal attacks;
- making personal, professional or legal threats (including outside the Lockwiki site);
- performing actions that place users in danger;
- disclosing personal information (whether or not the information is accurate);
- persistently violating copyrights;
- persistently posting unreferenced or potentially defamatory information about living persons;
- accounts that appear to have been compromised, as an emergency measure.
When blocking in response to disclosing personal information or actions that place users in danger, consider notifying Datagram (email) about the block and contacting someone with oversight permissions to request permanent deletion of the material in question.
A user may be blocked when his or her conduct severely disrupts the project; that is, when his or her conduct is inconsistent with a civil, collegial atmosphere and interferes with the process of editors working together harmoniously to create an encyclopedia. A block for disruption may be necessary in response to:
- persistent vandalism;
- persistent gross incivility;
- persistent harassment;
- persistent spamming;
- edit warring or revert warring;
- breaching the sock puppetry policy;
- persistently violating other policies or guidelines.
Furthermore, some types of user accounts are considered disruptive and may be blocked without warning, usually indefinitely:
- accounts used exclusively for disruptive purposes, such as vandalism.
- public accounts (where the password is publicly available or shared with a large group);
- accounts with inappropriate usernames;
- bots operating without approval or outside their approval;
- accounts that appear, based on their edit history, to exist for the sole or primary purpose of promoting a person, company, product, service, or organization.
Open or anonymous proxies
Open or anonymous proxies may be blocked on sight.
Non-static IPs or hosts that are otherwise not permanent proxies typically warrant blocking for a shorter period of time, as the IP is likely to be reassigned, or the open proxy is likely to be closed. Many Tor proxies, in particular, are "exit nodes" for only a short time; these proxies should generally not be blocked indefinitely without consideration.
A Lockwiki ban is a formal revocation of editing privileges on all or part of Lockwiki. A ban may be temporary and of fixed duration, or indefinite and potentially permanent.
Blocks may be implemented as a technical measure to enforce a ban. Such blocks are based around the particulars of the ban in question. Bans which revoke editing privileges to all of Lockwiki—that is, they are not "partial"—may be backed up by a block, which is usually set to apply for the period which the ban itself applies.
Evasion of blocks
An administrator may reset the block of a user who intentionally evades a block, and may extend the duration of the block if the user engages in further blockable behavior while evading the block. User accounts or IP addresses used to evade a block may also be blocked.
Recording in the block log after username change
Editors may cite the right to vanish and rename themselves, asking that their previous username not be disclosed and asking that their user and talk pages be deleted by an administrator. If such editors have been blocked previously then the administrator who has been requested to make the deletion should contact a Checkuser so that the connection between the accounts can be verified. The Checkuser should then add short blocks to the new account to denote each entry in the user's old account log. The short blocks should be described as "previous account block log" in the block summary. Such short blocks should provide protection in case the "right to vanish" was based on a genuine risk of off-wiki harassment, by not disclosing the previous username, while at the same time eliminating the possibility of avoiding the scrutiny of the community.
The short blocks should be described in the block summary as "previous account block" and the final duration of the block should be noted. Blocks placed in error and lifted early should not be noted at all.
When blocking may not be used
Conflicts of interest
Administrators must not block users with whom they are engaged in a content dispute; instead, they should report the problem to other administrators. Administrators should also be aware of potential conflicts of interest involving pages or subject areas with which they are involved.
Blocks intended solely to "cool down" an angry user should not be used, as they often have the opposite effect. However, an angry user who is also being disruptive can be blocked to prevent further disruption.
Recording in the block log
Blocks should not be used solely for the purpose of recording warnings or other negative events in a user's block log. The practice, typically involving very short blocks, is often seen as punitive and humiliating. Bureaucrats occasionally make an exception to provide a link to the prior block log of a user who has undergone a username change.
Very brief blocks may be used in order to record, for example, an apology or acknowledgment of mistake in the block log in the event of a wrongful or accidental block, unless the original block has not yet expired (in which case the message may be recorded in the unblocking reason).
Unblocking or shortening of a block is most common when an administrator decides that the block should be reversed, when the circumstances change, or when there has been a mistake. Also, blocks are often removed on appeal.
When a user requests to have a block lifted, an uninvolved administrator acting independently may review the block log, their edits and other relevant evidence, and additional information provided by the user and others, to determine if the unblock request should be accepted.
Unblocking will almost never be acceptable when it would constitute wheel warring, to unblock one's own account, or to facilitate editing via a previously blocked open proxy, or other kinds of account abuse. Each of these has led to sanctions for misuse of administrative tools - possibly including desysopping - even for first time incidents.
As part of an unblock request, uninvolved administrators may discuss a block, and the blocking administrator is often asked to review or discuss the block, or provide further information. (see Information provided by blocking administrator.)
Except in cases of unambiguous error, administrators should avoid unblocking users without first attempting to contact the blocking administrator and discuss the matter with them. If the blocking administrator is not available, or if the administrators cannot come to an agreement, then a discussion at the administrators' noticeboard is recommended.
Administrators reviewing a block should consider that some historical context may not be immediately obvious. Cases involving sockpuppets, harassment, or privacy concerns are particularly difficult to judge. At times such issues have led to contentious unblocks. Where an uninformed unblock may be problematic, the blocking administrator may also wish to note as part of the block notice that there are specific circumstances, and that a reviewing administrator should not unblock without discussing the case with the blocking admin in order to fully understand the matter.
Altering block options
Administrators may unblock a user in order to re-block them with different blocking options selected, where that is necessary (for example, if a block on a registered account is causing significant collateral effects to a shared IP address or a blocked user is abusing the Special:Emailuser function). "Unblock to reblock" can also be useful if the block reason needs modifying for any reason, although the original reason will still be visible in the logs.
Temporary circumstances blocks
Some types of blocks are used in response to particular temporary circumstances, and should be undone once the circumstance no longer applies:
- blocks on open or anonymous proxies should be undone once it is confirmed that they have been closed (but be aware some open proxies may be open only at certain times, so careful checking may be needed that it really is apparently no longer in use that way);
- blocks of unapproved or malfunctioning bots should be undone once the bots gain approval or are repaired;
- blocks for making legal threats should be undone once the threats are confirmed as permanently withdrawn and no longer outstanding.
Administrators should not undo or alter any block that is specifically called a "Checkuser" block without first consulting a Checkuser.
Explanation on blocking
Blocking is a serious matter. The community expects that blocks will be made with good reasons only, based upon reviewable evidence and reasonable judgement, and that all factors that support a block are subject to independent peer review if requested.
Notification of block
Administrators must supply a clear and specific block reason which indicates why a user was blocked. Block reasons should avoid the use of jargon as much as possible so that blocked users may better understand them. Administrators should also notify users when blocking them by leaving a message on their user talk page unless they have a good reason not to. It is often easier to explain the reason for a block at the time than it is to explain a block well after the fact.
When implementing a block, a number of pro forma block reasons are available in a drop-down menu; other or additional reasons can also be added.
Information provided by blocking administrator
If there are any specific recommendations or circumstances that a reviewing administrator would need to know, or which may help to avoid administrator disputes upon review of a block, the blocking administrator should consider including this information in the block notice. For example:
- When there is information or evidence that may not be obvious, may not be fully appreciated, or may otherwise be relevant.
- Prior endorsement that if any administrator wishes to unblock, or there is consensus for it, they may without consulting the blocking administrator.
- Suggested conditions for an unblock.
If a user needs to be blocked based on information that cannot be made available to all administrators, that information is sent to Datagram for action. Those entities are qualified to handle non-public evidence, and they operate under strict controls. The community has rejected the idea of individual administrators acting on evidence which cannot be peer-reviewed.
An exception is made for administrators who hold Checkuser or Oversight privileges; such administrators may block users based on non-public information revealed through the checkuser tool, or edits of the blocked user deleted via oversight, as such an administrative action is generally viewed to be made in the user's capacity as an oversight or checkuser, although the action itself is an administrative one. All such blocks are subject to direct review by Datagram.
Education and warnings
Everyone was new once, and most of us made mistakes. That's why when we welcome newcomers, we are patient with them, and assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it. We also ask that newcomers make an effort to learn about our policies and guidelines so that they can learn how to avoid making mistakes.
Before a block is imposed, efforts should be made to educate the user about our policies and guidelines, and to warn them when their behaviour conflicts with our policies and guidelines. A variety of template messages exist for convenience, although purpose-written messages are often preferable.
Warning is not a prerequisite for blocking (particularly with respect to blocks for protection) but administrators should generally ensure that users are aware of policies, and give them reasonable opportunity to adjust their behaviour accordingly, before blocking. Users who have been made aware of a policy and have had such an opportunity, and accounts whose main or only use is forbidden activity (sock-puppetry, obvious vandalism, personal attack, and so on) may not require further warning.
Technical instructions on how to block and unblock, and information on the blocking interface, is available at Help:Block and unblock. The following is advice specifically related to blocking and unblocking on Lockwiki.
IP address blocks
In addition to the advice below, there are special considerations to take into account when blocking IP addresses. IP address blocks can affect many users, and IPs can change. Users intending to block an IP address should at a minimum check for usage of that address, and consider duration carefully. IP addresses should rarely, if ever, be blocked indefinitely.
When an IP range is blocked, other users who also use that range may be unintentionally affected. If you propose to block a significant IP range, especially for a significant time, consider asking a user with checkuser access to check for collateral damage on that range — that is, for the presence of other users who may be unintentionally affected by the range block. They may be able to be given IP block exemption so they will not be affected.
Duration of blocks
The purpose of blocking is prevention, not punishment. The duration of blocks should thus be related to the likelihood of a user repeating inappropriate behavior. Longer blocks for repeated and high levels of disruption is to reduce administrative burden; it is under presumption that such users are likely to cause frequent disruption or harm in future. Administrators should consider:
- the severity of the behavior;
- whether the user has engaged in that behavior before.
Blocks on shared or dynamic IP addresses are typically shorter than blocks on registered accounts or static IP addresses made in otherwise similar circumstances, to limit side-effects on other users sharing that IP address.
While the duration of a block should vary with the circumstances, there are some broad standards:
- incidents of disruptive behaviour typically result in 24 hours blocks, longer for successive violations;
- accounts used primarily for disruption may be blocked indefinitely without warning;
- protective blocks typically last as long as protection is necessary, often indefinitely.
An indefinite block is a block that does not have a fixed duration. Indefinite blocks are usually applied when there is significant disruption or threats of disruption, or major breaches of policy. In such cases an open-ended block may be appropriate to prevent further problems until the matter can be resolved by discussion.
If not one administrator will lift the block, the blocked user is effectively considered to have been banned by the community. In less extreme cases, however, the more usual desired outcome is a commitment to observe Lockwiki policies and—if unblocked—to refrain from the problematic conduct in future.
Setting block options
There are several options available to modify the effect of blocks, which should be used in certain circumstances.
- autoblock should typically be disabled when blocking unapproved or malfunctioning bots (so as not to block the bot's operator), though it should be enabled when blocking malicious bots.
- prevent account creation should typically be disabled when blocking accounts with inappropriate names (to allow the user to create an account with an appropriate name), though it should be enabled when blocking bad-faith names (for example, clear attacks on other users) or vandalism-only accounts.
- block e-mail will disable the user from accessing Special:Emailuser for the duration of the block. This option should not be used by default when blocking an account, but rather it should only be used in cases of abuse of the "email this user" feature (still, in instances when an admin feels email abuse is extremely likely, they may use their discretion). When enabled, efforts should be taken to ensure that the user's talk page remains unprotected and that the user is aware of other avenues through which he can discuss the block.
- Allow this user to edit own talk page while blocked if unchecked will prevent the blocked user from editing their own talk page, including requesting unblock. This option should not' be unchecked by default; editing of the user's talk page should only be disabled in the case of continued abuse of the talk page.
The most common types of blocks when blocking an IP are commonly known as a soft block (autoblock disabled, account creation not disabled, blocking only anonymous users enabled) which block anonymous users but allow editing by registered users when logged in (commonly used when blocking shared IP addresses); soft block with account creation disabled (same but account creation disabled) used in most cases where vandalism or disruption is occurring via registered accounts; and hard block, which disables all editing whether logged in or not, other than administrators and other IP-block exempt users - used when the level of vandalism or disruption via creation of "throwaway" accounts is such that editing from the IP is to be prevented other than after individual checking of requests. Open proxies are hard blocked upon detection.