Wikipedia talk:Blocking policy

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To be fair, Benjamin's discussion is in good faith. However, the discussion changed right at the start from a broad policy feedback to specific discussions about Amanda's actions. As commented by other editors, this page cannot be the one used to discuss one editor's actions, even as a part of a broader policy discussion. Benjamin, if you want to discuss Amanda, take it to AN; if you want to change policy, start another thread/RfC on policy updation. If you want this discussion to continue as it is, drop me a note and I'll unarchive it; however, I suggest to the contrary. Thanks, Lourdes 06:23, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I think a higher level of evidence should be required for blocking suspected socks that aren't otherwise disruptive. Innocent users sometimes being wrongly blocked is an unacceptable sacrifice to make. Benjamin (talk) 10:18, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

What proof would you recommend be required? A signed confession is unlikely. Socks are corrosive and, if unchecked, could undermine the community. Johnuniq (talk) 10:29, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
CU, behavioral patterns, etc... Benjamin (talk) 10:34, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
That's pretty much the sort of thing we already use anyway... Yunshui  10:42, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
@Yunshui and Johnuniq: He’s referencing DeltaQuad’s “we don’t have to play your guessing game” block at User talk:DecisiveDomination. Another example from me would be User talk:Cernelmustard, though I have theories on that one. In my view here the standard is pretty clear: if disruption is likely we don’t play the games of trolls. TonyBallioni (talk) 10:48, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Of course, it's a matter of degree. I think it should be held to a higher standard, and we should assume good faith in uncertain cases. Benjamin (talk) 10:49, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
And AGF is not a suicide pact. Never has been. We are only here because this wouldn't pass a request to be overturned at ANI. -- Amanda (aka DQ) 11:25, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting you assume good faith in all cases, just the particularly borderline cases. Benjamin (talk) 11:53, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── If this is really a borderline case, take it to ANI. Because clearly, from the CU data I ran, and the crap on the talkpage, this user is here to deceive. If that's not enough WP:NOTHERE, I don't know what is. -- Amanda (aka DQ) 12:11, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

How can you be so sure? I thought the story seemed plausible. Benjamin (talk) 21:13, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Because Amanda has had dealing with this as one of her primary focuses on Wikipedia for almost a decade, and it has been one of my primary means of contributing to the project for the better part of 3 years. When you have experience with these things, it becomes abundantly clear who is playing the "Can you guess who I am?" game. Their story is not believable in the slightest. TonyBallioni (talk) 21:33, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Will you not even acknowledge the possibility that you might be wrong? Benjamin (talk) 21:49, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Benjaminikuta, I will speak as a non-CU admin: there is always a possibility that they might be wrong. Even if the evidence points 100% to one person using one device to operate two accounts, there exists a miniscule probability that WP:BROTHER actually is true and there are two people using an account. CU data isn't infallible, the CUs themselves aren't infallible, but if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck and you've been duck hunting for ten years then you know what a duck looks and sounds like. If you want to change the system, make a proposal somewhere, but otherwise let them do their jobs. Primefac (talk) 21:53, 12 August 2019 (UTC) (please do not ping on reply)
Yes, there is always the possibility of being wrong, but Wikipedia is a private website, not a court of law, but even in criminal trials the standard is not beyond all doubt but beyond a reasonable doubt. While I think the sock block standard should be lower than that, I also think this block has no room for reasonable doubt: their explanation is not a believable one and we are not required to take them at their word when everything points in one direction. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:00, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for your reply. The problem that I see is that in cases such as this, where an editor is wrongly blocked, the admin might very well assume they did the right thing, and never be proven wrong. And then they use that as evidence to say that they are usually correct. How can we evaluate the accuracy of something if the metric we use to evaluate it is the very metric in question? Anyway, I'm not suggesting a radical or fundamental policy change, but merely that we be a bit more careful. I don't expect to effect a change in policy all by myself, but let it not be said that there was no disagreement. Benjamin (talk) 22:07, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
"in cases such as this, where an editor is wrongly blocked" - you still seem to be stating that Amanda made the wrong call with this block. If you want to challenge her actions, then this is not venue in which to do so. Incidentally, having now reviewed the evidence, you can add me to the growing list of admins/checkusers who agree that she was correct. Yunshui  22:14, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
As I said, I don't expect to overturn this, but I at least want my opposition to count, so if nothing else, it isn't assumed to be unanimous. But for what it's worth, I find the story particularly relatable, as someone who also edited from IPs and read policy discussions before registering an account. Benjamin (talk) 22:23, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
If you want your opposition to be counted, then make a case at AN or ANI, rather than dragging it out here. If you are not able to muster enough evidence to make a case at one of those venues, then stop using this page as a soapbox to criticise one specific block. Piss or get off the pot, as my dear old grandmother would say. Yunshui  22:29, 12 August 2019 (UTC)
I am opposed to the application of the policy more generally, rather than just this one specific block. Besides, is that really what ANI is for? Benjamin (talk) 23:00, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── If you are opposed to the application more generally, then write a policy proposal to change it. Just be ready to be to back it up with examples where the implementation is wrong, because otherwise it'll just be status quo ante bellum. -- Amanda (aka DQ) 02:53, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

I'm not even sure how the wording of the policy would be changed to reflect that. I don't have a problem with the wording, per se. I just think the threshold should be a little higher, even if the methods are the same. But that's kinda moot, isn't it? Since consensus is clearly against me, anyway. Benjamin (talk) 03:32, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


There are some things I consider issues that should be addressed. The scope of blocking (according to the lead) is to "prevent damage or disruption to Wikipedia, not to punish users".

Purpose and goals[edit]

"Blocks serve to protect the project from harm, and reduce likely future problems. Blocks may escalate in duration if problems recur. They are meted out not as retribution but to protect the project and other users from disruption and inappropriate conduct, and to deter any future possible repetitions of inappropriate conduct. The wording "to protect the project" is important but and other users is not found in the lead, is relegated to a third sentence (buried), so seems an after-thought.


The first listed reason to block is:
There is more than one reason using persistent is out of place and improper. Everyone should be able to be a part of this community without fear of being personally "attacked". The policy seems very clear: "Do not make personal attacks anywhere on Wikipedia. Comment on content, not on the contributor.", and also includes; Insulting or disparaging an editor is a personal attack.
  • "Harassment is a pattern of repeated offensive behavior."
The opening paragraph of the policy on civility offers: "Stated simply, editors should always treat each other with consideration and respect.", yet there is a leniency factor of the added word "persistent" (continued) that gives clear implications that some amount of "attacks" are tolerated. Some attacks do not deserve a chance to be repeated before becoming a concern. An interpretation of "persistent" could be several times, while "repeated" would be on the second occurrence, and both allow leeway to "Do not make personal attacks anywhere on Wikipedia".
I think fostering a safe and friendly environment to those participating in this community, as well as apparent WMF concerns, dictates that the community not take too soft an approach with attempts to water-down wording that at best can foster gaming the system. I think being overly-tolerant when there are civility issues, particularly personal attacks, creates an atmosphere that "this is not allowed" --BUT-- tolerated to a point. Editors should not be subjected to personal attacks to have to be advised to just ignore it.
That safe-guards be in place to "protect the project from harm" are important it should be important to include wording of a goal to ensure that Wikipedia is a place where participants not be intimidated by insensitive words or personal attacks. Wording that at the least, makes it seem tolerated, should be left out. Within that context it would seem wording that includes "and other users" not be buried. Considering these things I feel that "persistent" does not belong in the above sentence and mention of the protection of others be made more prominent. Otr500 (talk) 12:21, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
In practice some attacks already result in immediate blocks, others merit a warning or a request for clarification. We are a diverse global text based community, and not everything that is perceived as an attack by some is considered an attack by all. I think that replacing "persistent personal attacks" with "egregious or persistent personal attacks" would bring the policy closer to longstanding practice, and be a step in the direction that you want. As for the WMF, I'm conscious of their shift from having lower standards on this than the community, to wanting the community be stricter but having difficulty in being specific as to what change they want. I've been here long enough to remember when the WMF made it clear that one of their staffers was unblockable, despite issuing death threats on IRC. I think overall their shift has been positive, even though some of their recent behaviour has been toxic. For example in issuing a 12 month ban without disclosing to the banned person what behaviour they are accused of and by implication should discontinue at the end of the ban. ϢereSpielChequers 12:49, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

Improvements will not come easy[edit]

WereSpielChequers: If "an attack" can already result in a block or ban then I still don't see the need for the added word. In "practice" a block is usually considered after other options have been tried anyway. As far as secret proceedings, I am 100% against those. The entire idea of transparency becomes moot when there are closed-door sessions with the community in the dark, or the community being asked to be involved knowing only part of the story because of gag orders. There are too many ways where we can be kept more in the loop while sensitive or private information can be redacted. I certainly saw a "positive shift" or I would have joined others throwing in the towel. You mentioned that "some attacks already result in immediate blocks, others merit a warning or a request for clarification.", and that is and should be, discretionary sanctions.
The "Incivility" section of the Civility policy: Incivility consists of personal attacks, rudeness and disrespectful comments. Especially when done in an aggressive manner, these often alienate editors and disrupt the project through unproductive stressors and conflict. While a few minor incidents of incivility that no one complains about are not necessarily a concern, a continuing pattern of incivility is unacceptable. In cases of repeated harassment or egregious personal attacks, then the offender may be blocked. Even a single act of severe incivility could result in a block, such as a single episode of extreme verbal abuse or profanity directed at another contributor, or a threat against another person.
A protection block must be discretionary but "if" it is decided such a block was unnecessary or even wrong then figure out how to expunge it. The way it is written now, by the time "persistent" has been determined an editor (or more than one) may have been alienated, run off, or there is other damage requiring mitigation. Four warnings may work most of the time but we don't need to unnecessarily hamstring any process concerning uncivil behavior.
In legal terms there can be a personal attack (that can result in no serious effects) or a more serious aggravated (severe, aggressive or egregious) personal attack. There can be simple annoying harassment or aggravated harassment. In the on-wiki world we mandate "make no personal attack anywhere on Wikipedia" yet in wording we nullify this by repeatedly using "persistent".
The Wikimedia Foundation has determined there are specific harassment concerns on Wikipedia that has created an "impetus" to find solutions. I will offer that we can be proactive, in reviews, discussions, and solutions, or lackadaisical and be forced to accept some ultimate determined conclusion or solution.
  • Reduce the amount of harassing behavior that occurs on Wikimedia projects.
  • Fairly resolve a higher percentage of incidents of harassment that do occur on Wikimedia projects.
  • Potential measures of success (according to the link):
There are challenges to measuring harassment but we still want to be sure our work has an impact on the community. Current ideas include:
    1. Decrease the percentage of identifiable personal attack comments on English-language Wikipedia.
    2. Decrease the percentage of non-administrator users who report seeing harassment on Wikipedia, measured via survey.
    3. Increase the confidence of admins with their ability to make accurate decisions in conduct disputes, measured via survey.
    4. Increase new user retention
I do not think the above ideas to be unreasonable. If an admin sees an incident or reviews a complaint they can make an initial determination if a block is required or not. As I understand this is current practice and should be left to the Admin community as a first line of defense for the protection of Wikipedia and individual editors. The WP:NPA policy lists "What is considered to be a personal attack?", which would already be an elevation as opposed to any other "lessor" act of incivility, and may be determined to be an "extreme" case, even if a single isolated personal attack. That was mentioned as being what is practiced.
Admins do not need the extra burden of worrying about exactly where a line has been crossed or exactly how much damage may have been inflicted on another editor or Wikipedia (it may be serious and possibly extreme but maybe short of egregious or catastrophic) before a block is clearly uncontroversial. Blocks, as a last absolute option, are important but it should remain discretionary to the Admin. and we already have a list of those willing to make difficult blocks.
The Administrators' guide on blocking uses the word "persistent" or references multiple incidents (3RR, edit warring, etc...) as to "When to block", and this clearly shows a protectionist stance stacked against a potential victim. In seeking improvements, such as making Wikipedia a "safer place", increase new user retention, increase the confidence of admins, or other nice words, we should not just use token words. If the way we have been doing things is shown not to be working, possibly out of date, then instead of fighting to maintain the status-quo, maybe looking at all areas would be a better idea.
In this case, adding the word persistent, in effect makes it appear a reviewing admin has to look at the editing history of a potential offender before first determining any potential severity or harm that could be inflicted. That sort of makes sense, in a twisted way, since two other examples given under the "Reason to block" section of WP:Administrators' guide/Blocking (concerning behavior), is persistent gross (egregious) incivility and persistent Wikipedia:Harassment.
At one point the policy stated "In cases of gross or extreme vandalism a warning is not needed at all, such as in the case of promotion of hate or racism. Other users will deserve only one warning, others more warnings. Decide on the severity of the behavior and the likelihood of salvaging a good user. No hard and fast rule will do; use your good judgment.". This looks to have been replaced in 2008 with the edit summary of "tweek" where seven instances of the word "persistent" was added, uncontested, and still surviving. I guess a plus would be that the WMF is looking for "better reporting systems for volunteers, smarter ways to detect and address problems early, and improved tools and workflows related to the blocking process.". I submit that one way would be to stop advancing that an editor already be clearly exhibiting they are not here to build an encyclopedia before considering protective blocks and bans.
If there just has to be an adjective added then possibly "extreme" would be a better candidate like:
  • "personal attacks considered extreme". I do not think anything needs adding because the reason for a possible block or ban would simply be a violation of that policy as evidenced by the link. However, extreme would be considered acute or severe (even extraordinary), without rising to egregious.
"We are a diverse global text based community, and not everything that is perceived as an attack by some is considered an attack by all." is very true but it does not mean we have to be accommodating to an editor with a behavior problem at the expense of those that do not. I am in no way advocating increasing blocks. Removing stumbling blocks that can fertilize inappropriate behavior cannot be a bad thing though.
I still submit that the word "persistent" needs to be omitted as unnecessary. Otr500 (talk) 04:07, 2 September 2019 (UTC)

Fairness of blocking[edit]

The perceived fairness of a block seems to have a small effect on whether an editor will respond to a block. If you're interested in some preliminary research on the subject of what happens when you block a user, then you might want to see the most recent mw:Wikimedia Research/Showcase at WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:49, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

Reply Copyedit (minor)[edit]

firstly hello, I think it was a misunderstanding that I did not copy, says you have been blocked in a message that came to me, could you please unblock me Ahmadkurdi44 (talk) 11:10, 29 September 2019 (UTC)

WP:NOTHERE discussion[edit]

I've started a related discussion at Wikipedia talk:Here to build an encyclopedia#NOTHERE by proxy, i.e. paid SPAs. -- RoySmith (talk) 16:15, 16 October 2019 (UTC)