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Wikitravel talk:User ban nominations

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"Nominations" for blocked scripts?[edit]

Andrew pointed out that when I blocked the IP addresses of two bots that were corrupting non-ASCII characters in articles that Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits also requires that the two IP addresses also be placed on this "nomination" list. Is that really necessary? We already discourage blocks, Special:Ipblocklist shows a list of current blocks, Special:Log/block shows a log of blocks, and an already-applied block of a misbehaving bot isn't a "nomination". It seems like someone who has been approved as an admin can be trusted not to abuse the block functionality, so forcing a listing on this "nomination" page when no discussion is necessary and the block is already logged (twice) in other places seems like unnecessary busy-work. -- Ryan 16:55, 28 August 2006 (EDT)

Agreed. As proposed below, I don't think we need to record temporary IP blocks. The rationale behind user bans, however, should be recorded. Jpatokal 02:16, 21 August 2007 (EDT)

Proposed guidelines[edit]

I just realized we don't actually have any guidelines in place for doing user/IP bans. Draft:

IP addresses may be banned temporarily if they are used by spambots making edits at high speed. Temporary IP blocks can be placed by any admin at their own discretion with no discussion required. As most spammers try to add URLs, please first check if the local spam blacklist can be used to trap their edits instead; this makes a block unnecessary and prevents future attacks from different IPs as well.

Users should, generally speaking, not be banned even for making objectionable edits; just revert and try to reason with them. The following, however, warrant an immediate ban:

  • spambot/sustained high-speed vandalism attacks by registered users → temporary ban
  • attempts to impersonate other known users (usernames using I for l, 0 for O, etc) → indefinite ban

Such bans should be recorded below. Proposed user bans for any other reason require nomination and consensus among admins.

Temporary bans should first be for one week. If the attack occurs again, a one month ban can be imposed, and then one year if they really aren't letting up.

Thoughts? Jpatokal 02:14, 21 August 2007 (EDT)

I don't know about the "no more than one week" rule for spambots - I've been going with a one-month block on obvious spambots that have made repeated edits, provided that there is no block on registrations from the IP address. I would agree that the spam blacklist is a preferable way of dealing with spambots, but at the same time I don't see any harm in blocking a hopelessly compromised machine that visits every few days with new patterns - look at the history of Budapest, Seattle or similar articles for the mess such bots can make. Otherwise the remaining items look good to me. -- Ryan • (talk) • 02:42, 21 August 2007 (EDT)
Should we stipulate a rough number of bad edits that constitute a ban? I think it should be for really high-volume more than repeated vandalism. Mandarmani's are annoying, but not really that hard to keep up with. And what about doing 1 week for the first block, 1 month if it continues after that? – cacahuate talk 03:24, 21 August 2007 (EDT)
Agree with the escalating ban lengths. Most spambots aren't on fixed IPs, and we don't want to cause too much collateral damage by blocking dynamic IPs at random ISPs. Jpatokal 03:48, 21 August 2007 (EDT)
I think the proposed guidelines are proper measures. Just a info, there is another timescale for blocking (→ shared:Manual for administrators#Block) and there is another discussion (→ shared:Talk:Manual for administrators). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by tatata (talkcontribs)

It's probably a good idea to continue this discussion over on shared... I think we should get the Admin Manual over there into some sort of shape that most admins across the language versions can live with, and hopefully have a solid policy that is enforced the same on all language versions... – cacahuate talk 02:13, 22 August 2007 (EDT)

"Blocks" and "Bans"[edit]

It seems to me, following up on something that Peter wrote in the Pub, that a distinction should be drawn between a "block" and a "ban." A "ban" involves putting someone (or somebot) under a long-term proscription, and our criteria for bans and ban nominations seem entirely appropriate; that is an action that should be taken very rarely, and then, only after careful deliberation. A minutes-long "block" to suspend access to an edit war, that lasts no longer than an edit-war time-out lasts, might be a different matter. (Why, you ask, is it not sufficient simply to protect the page where the edit war is occurring? Because, as recent events have shown, sometimes the edit war then moves to a related page. In these cases the "edit war" can better be described as vandalism, IMO -- but that's a different topic.) The difference is analogous to that between sending an unruly child who's disrupting the classroom to the principal's office for an hour's detention, and expelling the child from school entirely.

Not sure exactly how to proceed here, but as the number of vandals (some of them, for example the current gay-travel troll, incredibly persistent) increases, we may need to look at countermeasures. The "administrator's manual" on Shared recognizes this distinction; do we need specific language here to buy into it? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 12:51, 1 December 2007 (EST)

And the previous discussion:

User bans against policy[edit]

There have been several instances of user bans enacted in the past month or so without so much as a peep on Wikitravel:User ban nominations. I humbly submit that administrators re-read Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits, especially the part relating to user bans, which clearly states that use of this button without going through the process is abuse of administrative privileges (and explains why it's not a very useful tool in any rate). Practice has evolved a bit to allow speedy bans of high-traffic ips clearly operating scripts, but even that really should be hashed out in the policy. The most useful bit of advice in the "How to handle" article is IMHO to "not take yourself or the site too seriously," but I would rank the importance of admins following policy above petty vandalism in the hierarchy of not-too-serious Wikitravel issues. --Peter Talk 15:34, 27 November 2007 (EST)

I believe that that policy is intended to address permanent bans, which arise only rarely (e.g. in the case of fraudulently deceptive usernames, which unfortunately have come up a few times already). Howewver, if there is a policy pertaining to short-term "cooling-down" blocks equivalent to transient page protections, I'm not aware of it. Should there be? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 16:02, 27 November 2007 (EST)
I'd ask you to re-read that section more carefully—it does not mention anything about the length of user bans, just bans in general. Our policy specific to permanent bans has only arisen in the last couple months, while the unwanted edits piece has been in place for longer than I've been around. The ban nominations page itself has relevant commentary on this matter, which is only one of the reasons why I think we shouldn't be ignoring it. The only discussion I'm aware of that discusses short term bans specifically refer to situations where admins cannot keep up—i.e., when a vandal is moving loads of pages using a script or extensively prepared tabbed browsing. --Peter Talk 16:22, 27 November 2007 (EST)
"Where admins cannot keep up" is exactly where we are at the moment. Go back and look through the traffic earlier today. This guy is remarkably destructive, the more so since he's learned to vandalize templates as well -- which has destructive power extending well beyond the vandalism itself. In any event, if you (and others?) are uncomfortable with temporary blocks in this situation, we can forego them, and perhaps that would be best -- although it's going to create extra work. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 17:12, 27 November 2007 (EST)
See, that's why I would prefer we go through the ban nominations page instead. I don't view this fine young fellow as destructive at all. Whatever changes he makes are easily revertable, and he's hardly all over the site. Juvenile vandalism does no damage to an article, since it's twice as easy to undo such changes even for a non-admin. And I don't think blocks save any work, since he can just switch up his ip address. So in my view the blocks really only make a demonstration of frustration on our part, which is precisely the reaction I assume he's aiming for. I don't see any need for "last resorts," why can't we just employ a few slow reverts. If people are concerned that the page history will get messed up, we can just wait until he gets bored and moves on and then delete the article and restore it to a cleaner version.
Sorry to raise such a fuss over this—it's just that the detached and professional way WT editors use soft security with would-be-instigators is one of my favorite things about this site. --Peter Talk 17:50, 27 November 2007 (EST)
Have to concur with Bill here - I've only done one myself, but some of these short-term bans are common sense situations and we can trust the relatively small admin base to apply them properly. (Unlike the decentralized Wikipedia, where cowboy admins are an annoyance.) People like the Myer Center guy and the current homophobe loon are persistent beyond simple juvenile antics and it's a waste of time and focus to keep refreshing 'Recent Changes' and repeatedly reverting them. Even if you think it's desire for attention that drives them, not psychosis, then the knowledge that they're wasting our time by reverting over and over again must certainly be more enjoyable and encouraging to them than whatever frustration they imagine we're feeling over the single click of a button to do a short-term ban. Gorilla Jones 18:56, 27 November 2007 (EST)

(Deindenting) Probably no surprise where OldPine comes down on this. I'm probably the worst offender of IP blocks (albeit short-term) as I was using them to at least cost the offender another click or two. I respect Peter's bringing attention to this and I think I understand the soft security philosophy. I also think some confusion may be caused by the use of the word "ban" in the informational pages he references, when the word "block" is the one we see when we decide to take action. To me, ban implies the permanent blocking of a user. I believe Mr. Jones is correct that we can trust the admins here to use common sense and I'll take Peter's comments as a cue to be sure I'm using mine.

I've done my share of reverting of this latest guy, and I feel I've done it in a detached manner and in a common sense way. But if it's longer periods of time with homophobic messages on the page and fewer quick reverts that's needed, I can live with that. I just have to learn to care less about WT (take it less seriously). That's still hard for me to do. --OldPine 19:41, 27 November 2007 (EST)

The bureaucracy in temp-banning a user is the number one reason why I don't use it, plus there is little to no support for bans of this sort. I'm also perfectly happy to revert a user to their hearts content, but people don't like it when I do that either. I think temp protection during an vandalwar (with as little protection as possible) is the best way to deal with this. -- Colin 21:51, 27 November 2007 (EST)

I'm not an admin and probably shouldn't be weighing in on this but getting upset over vandalism that can be reverted is fruitless. Ignore, revert, and move on is the best policy. It's not that hard to silently revert stuff (even the two step process for a non-admin is fairly trivial) and any reaction is a step backward. Ban em and they'll be back when the ban expires. Ignore them and, sooner or later, they'll go away. It seems to me that a bigger problem (and I'm seeing more of this sort these days) are the vandals who change one word here or there. It could be a couple of days before they get noticed and, by then, its too late to ban them. --Wandering 16:18, 28 November 2007 (EST)

You should be weighing in wherever you'd like. I'm following the discussion and would like to comment a bit later, but can this please be moved to the How to handle unwanted edits discussion page? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 17:21, 28 November 2007 (EST)


Typically spambots are blocked for a specific length of time in case a real user is ever assigned the same IP address... however, lately a spambot has actually managed to register accounts. In cases where an account is clearly a spambot, does it make sense to permanently block that account? There is no possibility of a real user actually using the account, so I don't see the harm in using a permanent (instead of 3 month) ban. Any disagreement? -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:35, 19 December 2008 (EST)

Bump. Did we ever come to a consensus on this (I can't remember). We have a rash of new spambot-created accounts, and I'm tempted to ban them once they give themselves away. --Peter Talk 12:17, 2 July 2010 (EDT)
I'm still in support of this idea, but I don't think it ever got further comment. We also need to update Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits#User ban to note that permanent blocks for dopplegangers is OK, as outlined on Wikitravel:Administrator's handbook#Blocks.2Fbans. I'll take care of making that change. -- Ryan • (talk) • 12:54, 2 July 2010 (EDT)
Fine with me on all counts. LtPowers 15:54, 2 July 2010 (EDT)
Acount creation is still ongoing but so far none of them started new article. The shear mass will over time become a major issue. I think something is coming up and we wait here until it starts to bite. Can we maybe see who generates these accounts? jan 09:09, 5 July 2010 (EDT)
Today in average 30-40 accounts were created every hour. Beside the fact that names will be short from sometime on, when all of them leave the autoconfirm and the bot starts, then we are in deep trouble... jan 09:12, 5 July 2010 (EDT)
I may be missing something, but I can't imagine what the trouble would be—it shouldn't be any harder to handle than any standard spambot attack, as it would be really obvious, autoconfirmed or not. It's a practical matter to ban an account once it's really clear that it is spambot created, since we can't expect anything productive from it, and the ban will halt unproductive activity. But I don't think there's anything to be afraid of here—our wiki is really set up in such a way where admins can clean things up way faster than spambots can cause problems. --Peter Talk 20:19, 5 July 2010 (EDT)
I've made this change on Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits#User ban. -- Ryan • (talk) • 19:27, 17 July 2010 (EDT)


Ok, so I think the ban against EE is not covered within policy. Above, Peter notes that people should be going through the process spelled out by policy and yet we didn't with EE. Why?

It's simple: "Blocks exempt from the nominations process include spambot blocks (which should not be permanent), and temp blocks to halt extremely high-volume vandalism (i.e., move vandalism), in order to create space to clean it up."

EE did not violate any of these and I am borderline on whether the cases of admins blocking him violate admin responsibilities. There must be a discussion on this before! I don't care about the contradictions. Admins and bureaucrats are "not above the law," we too must adhere to the policy and I think we stepped out of line by using a block against EE. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 09:59, 10 January 2009 (EST)

I have a hard time disagreeing with Sapphire. It seems pretty clear-cut. --Jonboy 11:28, 10 January 2009 (EST)
I may not have imposed the temp blocks myself, but definitely don't think they violated our policy and definitely believe that they were carried out in good faith. The particular user under discussion most definitely falls within the bounds of extremely high-volume vandalism, albeit with a slightly different and more veiled face than we've seen in the past. Many many attempts were made to avoid these temp blocks, and I personally would also like to steer back away from them. But let's discuss that calmly without placing blame, and without inflaming a situation unnecessarily.
I think we need to perhaps expand the wording a bit now at the policy page, and make it a bit more specific, since at the moment it clearly allows for interpretation... but I'm gonna take some time to think about some suggestions – cacahuate talk 11:53, 10 January 2009 (EST)
Let me be clear that I bothered the most by the fact that it did not appear on Wikitravel:User_ban_nominations. Although I do not have the time to devote to Wikitravel that I have in the past, I monitor that page's RSS feed. I had no idea that this particular ban had gone into place until Sapphire brought it up. And I think that most bans deserve a forum for discussion. --Jonboy 12:38, 10 January 2009 (EST)
Some of the discussion about this case happened here... and probably wasn't noted at the UB page since it states "short-term temporary bans (one day or less) are exempt from the user ban nominations process"... but again, maybe we need to improve/overhaul the wording of our policy soon – cacahuate talk 12:48, 10 January 2009 (EST)
True, but there's also the Admins handbook that states the above, which I quoted. Interpretation is a problem here because I see there are at least two that disagree with my interpretation that it should not have gone into effect in the manner that it did. Any proposals that we can go from here?
Personally, I believe the waiting period should be reduced before (24 hours) a block goes into effect. But, I also believe there must be at least two admins and none dissenting before a block goes into effect. So, I also think that a block of any user that isn't clearly moving many dozens of pages to new namespaces or running scripts or causing so much destruction should be blocked automatically as is perfectly fine with a user that moves 200 pages in 15 minutes. Thus, IMHO, EE still would not be blocked, because he only reverted Gorilla's deletion of his comments two or three times that day, obviously something that did not constitute vandalism that we couldn't handle.
Before anyone brings up the pattern of history, if there's a pattern of history with a user being disruptive and he only caused minor damage over the past couple days (as I see EE's edit history he made fewer fewer edits in the days prior -- I couldn't find another block, but maybe I over looked it?) then propose the block and a length of time and put it to vote.
Finally, I want a policy to allow an admin (but, not the one to propose the block) to block the user earlier than the 24 hour waiting period if there are at least three in favor and none dissenting and circumstances change that require the block to be instated earlier. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 13:06, 10 January 2009 (EST)

The volume had decreased to what you are now referring to with the last block directly because of the hard line that was taken earlier, you can't only look at the short leash and not what led to it. High volume page move vandalism is on people's radar as a reason to block, and I've argued that we've seen a new type of high volume disruptive editing that IMO is more disruptive and damaging, in that it can produce results that extend far beyond the moment of the last revert, and consumes faaar more energy on the part of those on damage control. However, regarding policy changes....

Rather than moving towards a more bureaucratic system involving so many steps, I think it would be much more worth our time to devise, and much easier to follow, a well defined and specific list of which type of actions will result in which type of block. There are basically two broad categories: Temp user blocks, and permanent bans. I think the last couple months events have now given us a good insight into how to improve our policy.

Permanent bans: I think we're all in agreement, need to be discussed first, with minimal exception such as deceptive username/impersonating an admin. Agree in this case that admin other than nominator and preferably not connected with the incident to impose the ban.

Temp blocks: I believe should be imposed very sparingly, but at an admins' discretion... starting with short bans that last hour(s), and escalating to a day or 3 based on still tbd guidelines. I agree it's probably ideal that an admin other than the one that is currently embroiled in debate/reverts with a user be the one to block, but I'm not decided yet on if I think that should be mandatory for temp blocks, since if our guidelines are well laid out, it would be irrelevant.... any admin would simply refer to said guidelines. Naturally it may take a litle time to perfect these.... I won't start spending energy on devising it though until there's consensus to move forward in that way – cacahuate talk 13:47, 10 January 2009 (EST)

If people do decide to move forward with that, I'd like to suggest a third category, that of "Repeated temp blocks". While I'm not an admin and hence have no experience applying the blocking policy, I would agree that, treated individually, virtually all of the blocks of EE were within policy as it could reasonably be interpreted. However, temp blocking a user again and again can cause other problems similar to what's come up of late, and can also essentially be equivalent to a semi-permanent ban but without any discussion here. JYolkowski 15:44, 10 January 2009 (EST)
I agree that we need more clarity on this issue and reverts (I know, being discussed at another page). I have a slight preference for Cacauate's approach since it's less bureaucratic and I like the idea of having a defined list of actions and consequences. As long as the guidelines are well constructed I think it will make it faster and clearer for admins (we won't have to take the time to discuss each case) and the reasons for blocking more transparent. Although, after a certain number of repeated blocks, I think the next course of action should be put up for discussion. Shaund 23:14, 10 January 2009 (EST)
I still don't have an opinion on temp blocks, but I think JYolkowski is on to something there too. If we allow, no red tape temp blocks, what happens after multiple blocks?
Also, what is the litmus test for justifying a temp block? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 06:47, 11 January 2009 (EST)

I hope I am allowed to contribute here. Bottom line, I think I agreee with sapphire on ever term pretty much. Sapphire, you brought up excellent points and I believe them. "Difficult users" such as myself I suppose should probably be discussed. I mean, look at how many people are confused/left out of what is going on - if there was discussion prior to a ban, everyone could easily find where everything happened. I also think the bans to myself have gone overboard completely and I think it is just a way for people to get rid of me on this site. That I find rude. There also needs to be discussion I think to the user before the ban, even if that user has been talked to of that 700 times before, just copy and paste or reword or whatever. That way they still have a chance to not disrupt further, or discuss it if they think what they did wasn't wrong and it could maturely be discussed. But for sure, this has gone on too long and too far. I don't mean to be rude in any way, but Cacahuate, you basically encouraged Peter in all of this. I hope my points are valid cause I am getting sick of this. That is all. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 14:57, 11 January 2009 (EST).

There seems to be a lot of confusion here, all of which could have been avoided painlessly and easily by asking an admin who had performed such a temp block why he did so. The quoted "policy" above (Blocks exempt from the nominations process include spambot blocks (which should not be permanent), and temp blocks to halt extremely high-volume vandalism (i.e., move vandalism), in order to create space to clean it up), which I wrote, is a draft, and has no weight as policy, as is stated at the top of the page. Discretionary temp blocks without going through the nominations process are routine, and sanctioned by policy. I'm quite sure of this, since I updated that policy myself, and no one objected. Using temp blocks for anything other than high volume vandalism or spam is very unorthodox, and not something we have done outside of the one case that generated this discussion. Because of that, we charted a very specific set of practices to be used in this one case, documented here, and elaborated upon here. Again, no objections to date. So to claim that the blocks placed on this user, following this process, "violate admin responsibilities," or place oneself "above the law" is incorrect, offensive, and weakens our community. --Peter Talk 18:36, 11 January 2009 (EST)
@ Sapphire, Shaund & JYowoski: all of those are good points, and things that can and should be incorporated into the guidelines for temp blocks... I'll try to start a draft a bit later and see if we can build a consensus on the issue – cacahuate talk 21:34, 11 January 2009 (EST)
I'm not in agreement that temp blocks without going through nominations are routine and sanctioned by policy. I am in agreement if we say that blocks against spambots and users creating so much havoc are not required to go through nominations. I'd also agree that users with misleading usernames can be blocked too. The only routine that seems to have popped up are 2 hour bans for EE. Which, if we think about it, if it becomes a routine to block a user for 2 hours then we should block said user for far longer, no?

All that aside, I propose the following:

1. That we now require 5 admins in support of a ban (we have 40 admins on the site -- although, maybe some of those should be ) and none opposing. Should an admin oppose the ban, then a general consensus must arise that would justify the ban. (This one can use some work)

2. That before temp bans (if we decide whether, when, and how they can be used) against non-professional vandals and spambots/scripts be instated, a warning is given on the user's talk page.

3. A new page be created to allow for discussion on rescinding a block already put into place. And that the same number of admins would be needed before a block is rescinded.

4. That (and only if we allow temp bans) temp bans proceed in this fashion: 1st ban - 2 hours. 2nd ban - 6 hours. 3rd ban - 12 hours. 4th ban would go to the community, because clearly the user is not willing to discuss anything and needs much further time away. This would all occur over, say, a two week period?

Anyhow, these are just ideas to get us rolling and are meant solely for actual users, not scripts/vandals causing utter havoc. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 11:38, 12 January 2009 (EST)

support. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 16:52, 12 January 2009 (EST).

User ban reversion[edit]

Just a quick comment - I don't have strong feelings on the current matter but I think it would be great if policy could be clarified further on the use of temporary user bans. I am a bit concerned about unilaterally reverting something that another admin has done, however, as it implies that admin was abusing admin privileges, which is a pretty serious accusation and one that doesn't apply here. No one on this site makes it through the admin nomination process without the support of the community, and that implies that we feel that the user understands policies and has been an asset to the site. We may occasionally interpret policies differently, but when there is room for interpretation we need to assume good faith. Here's the current policy:

"Only the most short-term temporary bans (one day or less) are exempt from the user ban nominations process. They are a discretionary tool for administrators in slowing exceptionally high-volume unwanted edits (i.e., move vandalism), to halt the vandalism (however temporarily) to create space to clean it up."

While I dislike user bans, given that policy I think it's inappropriate to unilaterally revert another admin's actions, although it IS appropriate to start a discussion about the matter. No one on Wikitravel becomes an admin unless they've been a huge asset to the site, and while we may not always agree I do think it's important that we respect one another's judgment and assume good faith. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:08, 10 January 2009 (EST)

Agree wholeheartedly. where is the best place to raise such discussions? would a admin noticeboard/lounge be useful? Which could also be used for contributors to quickly get the attn of an online admin? – cacahuate talk 14:20, 10 January 2009 (EST)
My thinking is that talk pages such as this one, Wikitravel talk:How to handle unwanted edits, and the admin's user talk page are probably sufficient - most people have these pages on their watchlists so conversations probably won't be missed, and that way conversations will be available on the talk page for the relevant policies. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:39, 10 January 2009 (EST)
My handling of that was less than stellar too. But, there appear to be several slight variations of the policy and they all seem to imply to me that the temp bans are for for slowing exceptionally high-volume destruction. So, until we work out temp blocks I still believe that nominations are required and that two admins in support and none opposing are required. Failing that, IMHO, the ban is not kosher. I've used it in the past, but what's kosher to one sect isn't always kosher to the next. Afterwards, I would say challenges should go to Wikitravel:User ban revocation nominations with a similar policy for undoing the block. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 06:57, 11 January 2009 (EST)
P.S. I did mention I was not comfortable with the block and was likely going to rescind it in the emails. Should I have waited more than 4 minutes? Maybe. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 07:24, 11 January 2009 (EST)
My concern is that by reverting a ban you are in essence saying that an admin violated policy, which is an abuse of power. That's a big deal. What happened here is that two admins interpreted policy differently, which means we need to clarify the policy and come to some consensus before undoing an action - had you asked Peter to remove the block I'm sure he would have done it, but instead we now have a situation where it appears that an admin abused his rights. Both you and Peter were acting in good faith - Peter by using his discretion to temporarily halt harmful edits, and you to remove what you felt was an unjustified ban. That said, I think when one admin is overruling another admin without first discussing and gaining consensus then it should be done only for cases where it would be justified to begin discussing revoking admin rights. In this case we simply have different interpretation of policy, and as such we should be clarifying the policy that caused the confusion (which we are), but in the mean time assuming that all parties were acting in good faith and not overruling those actions. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:34, 11 January 2009 (EST)
We have an old saying in Danish about "Shooting sparrows with canons" and I think this is what's happening here. The whole deal is product of discussion which took place off site, about how best deal with the situation leading up to this, the result of which, was an agreement between certain admins to revert mistakes/abuses on sight, so that people wouldn't respond to comments that would stray discussions off target, which was the main problem at the time (EE's disruptiveness). This unfortunately ended up with EE resorting to reverts and abuses when his comments where removed, mainly because of a quite startling ability not to read situations properly - and may I point that this was after countless attempts to explain the disruptiveness and consequences, and explaining how EE could contribute without being disruptive (stay away from nominations, policy discussions etc.). The reversions, and subsequent rereversions, lead to edit wars - which in turn lead to temp bans since there was nothing else left to try, in the hope that hard action would make EE stop, and think twice, if such actions lead to a temp block. It didn't, escalating the time of the block didn't help either. But eventually things died down, until they recently exploded again.
My point with this little fairy tale is that the history behind the current situation is so utterly unique, that I can't see this ever happening again, and in reality the problem is lack of communication, more than anything else, so I think, what we should really make policy on is communication, especially between regulars/admins, in situations like this, which is the real cause of the current quagmire. And I'm sad that Peter is taking the fall for a cause of action I personally agreed to. --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 22:47, 11 January 2009 (EST)
Reverting on sight may have seemed to have made sense at the time -- not that I was involved in the discussion leading to that decision -- but quite obviously it backfired, at least in this particular situation. Instead of causing EE to consider his actions and think about why a comment was reverted, the reverts were interpreted as attacks, causing him to engage in edit warring and overall incivil behavior. The situation was escalated instead of defused.
As such, in my opinion, it is well past time to abandon the "revert on sight" methodology for this particular situation, since it seems to have failed so spectacularly. Other avenues must be explored, as I see Colin has done with a formal ban nomination. (I'm not sure that's the right course of action either, for similar reasons, but I could be persuaded.)
-- LtPowers 08:37, 12 January 2009 (EST)

To clarify and make it as public as possible, I don't think Marc or Peter abused their powers and I do not want either to give up their sysop status -- they've been around for a good while and are amazing contributors. Policy is too damned vague -- that's it. Good faith assumed.

But, if we may get back on track, what will be the way for preventing a conflict in the future? I did send an email before I rescinded the block, should I have waited more than four minutes? I don't know, because I'm confident that said blocks should have been discussed under current policy, but if there's a flaw with policy should it be taken out on the user in question -- I thought no. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 10:46, 12 January 2009 (EST)

I'm sorry, is that serious? You're wondering if you should have waited more than four minutes? Gorilla Jones 01:06, 13 January 2009 (EST)
@ LT: If a troll is looking to stir up a community, it doesn't really matter how the community approaches him... his goal will be to find a way to let the nonsense shine through in any way possible. I think very much that reversions of the nonsense edits were a logical next step in avoiding an outright user ban (and may well be an idea to consider before a user ban), but am also happy to not participate in them for now to possibly let more people see what it looks like unleashed, if that's what helps us in building a stronger idea on how to improve policy and deal with future trolls. Though I'll note that we've now come full circle in how to deal with said user, and this original approach also failed spectacularly :)
@ Sapphire: I would say if an admin disagrees with another's actions, ideally wait until you've spoken with that admin before taking further action. If that's not possible, get a third opinion. I don't think there's many cases though were you would actually need to revert an admins edit/block... as someone said earlier, that would be more of a course of action you would be taking if the initial action was egregious enough for you to be considering nominating to desysop an admin for abuse of powers, or suspected his account of being compromised – cacahuate talk 11:09, 12 January 2009 (EST)
In the case of a troll, I agree. I don't object to the intent, but now that it's clear that constant reverting only causes more problems in this case, I think we need to abandon that effort instead of trying to make things worse. LtPowers 13:38, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Sertmann, if you admins actually did talk off site, you should have: Put it on the website here formally. Why?

  • 1) So I know. This would releve the stress and anger and "at each others' throats" this has caused. I have asked certain questions that were never answered and I assume that it was discussed off site.
  • 2) So that everyone else gets it. This would make sure people understand the whole thing of information and there would be less disagreeing arguing.

Does that make sense? edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 16:55, 12 January 2009 (EST).

Offline conversations pertaining to this situation are irrelevant. Anyhow, talking offline isn't a crime -- sometimes it's the easiest and best way to get people involved in discussions. The majority of the discussion will take place online, but if you need to seek advice from someone who can't use the site as regularly as you, then you may need to send an email and ask what he or she thinks, no? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 17:16, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Well I have asked them and all that jamble. These users are regulars to the site (Peter, caca, stefan) and stuff. I assume these are the ones that talked about it. Anyways, I asked questions, the most common, "Why did you revert my edits?" which are never clearly explained to me so I don't get it and continually ask. I rarely get a response. All I get is it reverted. That is why this should all be communicated here, not on e-mail, instant messaging, chats, texting, or in person. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 17:54, 12 January 2009 (EST).
Claiming to not understand why reversions were done and why nobody will answer you when you ask questions that have already been answered repeatedly shows that you still aren't making any progress in trying to understand what has been wrong with your approach to this site. If I were you I would consider restoring your user talk page, if only so that you yourself can re-read it a few more times – cacahuate talk 19:03, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Cacahuate, I've read it - multiple times, and some I still don't get. Maybe some stuff was hinted at and I totally didn't get it. Why not just be obvious so I do get it. I am not kidding around. Sometimes Peter or someone would say it's abusive and I ask him to show me policies and I still come up empty handed. I ask him to explain how I am being abusive, I never get a response. Finally, someone else told me that he didn't mean abusive, he meant disruptive and rude. Well, if he said that in the first place, it would have made sense. Abusive? Come on. My comments to his or others talk pages were not abusive. Cacahuate, you can believe what you want. At the end of this whole issue, even if you still don't believe me, I can't help you, I will be the one who knows the truth though - and it's right on that screen. edmontonenthusiast [ee] .T.A.L.K. 11:15, 13 January 2009 (EST).

Fresh start[edit]

Okay. There is obviously ambiguity in the policy, because several people (who I believe are all trying to act in the best interest of the community) have different ideas as to what the correct method is.

Going forward, lets make it perfectly clear.

When can an less than 24 hour ban be imposed, where is the policy basis specified, and what documentation needs to be updated.

When can a longer term ban be imposed, where is the policy basis set, and what documentation needs to be updated.

--Inas 19:04, 11 January 2009 (EST)

I'm a bit sad, there is not enough trust between the guys with the buttons that we can't use "at admin's discretion", but it seems we do need some guidelines for the admin handbook:
  • Edit wars - and only when the user in question has a history of resorting to such
  • Personal attacks - and only when a user has been given a fair warning, and reverts/repost postings such after removal.
also please read my post above - --Stefan (sertmann) Talk 22:48, 11 January 2009 (EST)

Consensus on banning[edit]

What do we do if there's a general consensus that a user be banned, but another admin or two dissents? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 10:36, 12 January 2009 (EST)

I don't see why the ban policy shouldn't just rely upon good ole consensus... if 20 editors build a consensus to block there's no reason why 1 dissenting admin should stop that consensus from being implemented, imo – cacahuate talk 11:45, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Not to be a hard-ass about it, but Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits#User ban is pretty clear: "If the ban gets seconded by two administrators, and no objections from administrators, within 3 days, the ban goes into effect." Perhaps obviously, I support the intent of this rule; I would strongly prefer unanimity when considering a ban of a user, especially one who has produced actual useful content. LtPowers 13:35, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I think we should revisit that now, along with the rest of the policy that we're revisiting. It was written long ago before we were ever near having to put the policy in action, I think we should work out a consensus based on how people feel now. I think unanimity would be nice, of course. But I don't think useful content has much to do with it, especially when heavily outweighed by the negative... sitewide mayhem and burnt out admins aren't a worthy price for a fluffy guide to Edmonton – cacahuate talk 15:55, 12 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. Unanimity would be nice but waiting for unanimity is never going to give us the kind of timely and decisive action that is called for, and all it takes to prevent action is one admin to insist on never banning anyone. Texugo 19:04, 12 January 2009 (EST)
It would be awesome to get some more feedback here, is there anyone else that seriously objects to removing the dissenting admin requirement and relying more on a policy of consensus? – cacahuate talk 16:36, 13 January 2009 (EST)
From a pure logic point of view, if it only takes consensus to change the policy, then consensus should be sufficient within the policy. --Inas 17:12, 13 January 2009 (EST)
I don't think we need to remove anything, just clarify it. "If everybody is unanimous for three days, the ban goes into place" is fine as it is. All we need to specify is that if the discussion is not unanimous, then discussion should continue until a broad consensus is achieved, and that consensus doesn't necessarily mean that everybody supports it. Jpatokal 22:25, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Agree with Jpatokal on this, unless an overwhelming consensus has already formed on the third day. -- Sapphire 07:02, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Agree with Jptokal. But here in rural Ohio, the Amish practice shunning. It works well for them and may be another consideration, since the practice of crucifixion has been somewhat unpopular. 2old 10:31, 14 January 2009 (EST)
That isn't really changing or clarifying anything though, it's still essentially saying that we won't block if there is a dissenting admin, and that we will drag out the discussion further in order to convince them. Agree with what Texugo says above – cacahuate talk 11:30, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Broad consensus doesn't mean total unanimity. I'm fine with, and I meant that to say, that a single not-too-vociferously objecting admin can be overruled if everybody else agrees -- I'm just hesitant to start pulling random percentages or numbers out of a hat. Jpatokal 13:15, 14 January 2009 (EST)

Ok, so discussion would only need to continue if there were a few strong dissenters, and there wasn't a generally broad consensus reached. Still somewhat vague, but I could live with that. T minus 14 hours – cacahuate talk 14:15, 14 January 2009 (EST)

I've altered the policy text to reflect the words suggested by Jani. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 15:37, 14 January 2009 (EST)


I have blocked User: from editing and account creation for 2 hours because I suspect this IP address is creating spam on user talk pages using user accounts. This happened when I welcomed User:Beaverbr and was immediately overwritten by the user's page edit. I am reasonably confident the user either saw my edit or saw the revised page and did not read the guidelines before reposting. If I am wrong to do this, I will remove the blocks. I have also protected the User Talk page for an hour. - Huttite 03:17, 10 February 2009 (EST)

Spambots can be blocked for periods of up to several months without the need for a nomination - I think Wikitravel talk:How to handle unwanted edits has a discussion about this and links to the appropriate policy see Wikitravel:Administrator's handbook#Blocks/bans: "Blocks exempt from the nominations process include spambot blocks (which should not be permanent)". -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:20, 10 February 2009 (EST)

Blocked vandals[edit]

I just noticed on the Special:Ipblocklist that we have a bunch of permanently blocked users that were not put through the process. Granted, I think it's safe to assume that we're not going to see productive edits ever from these accounts, but it is policy to simply handle their edits with reverts, rather than blocks. Since our policy is that non-spambot user bans that have a duration of more than one day must be nominated here, I'll plan to remove these blocks tomorrow. We can certainly have a discussion of whether to broaden our application of permanent blocks to include offensive usernames (especially those connected to cyber-bullying) and page-move vandals, but lets do that before actually applying them. --Peter Talk 03:37, 14 April 2009 (EDT)

I apologize; I think I was confused because Wikipedia makes a distinction between blocks and bans. The policy you linked refers to bans, I had thought a block for usernames that are completely inappropriate would be allowed. I'll start a discussion on Wikitravel talk:How to handle unwanted edits. LtPowers 13:46, 14 April 2009 (EDT)
No worries, that was not at all directed at anyone in particular, several people have been doing this, and I consider it just a "practice creep" that is at odds with how our policies are written currently. --Peter Talk 15:53, 14 April 2009 (EDT)

Blocking spambots[edit]

Can anyone point me to the policy that allows blocking spambots for 3 months? LtPowers 13:09, 15 July 2009 (EDT)

Our policies allow discretionary permanent blocks for spambots per Wikitravel:Script_policy#Non-compliant_scripts. Our practice has evolved, though, and did so as unapproved scripts became something that the site actually had to contend with. The discussion above on this page recommended temp blocks for spambots, of escalating length. I wouldn't say we had a consensus there as to how long. Three months followed by six months was a practice that evolved. Admins seem to have liked it, since it is now a universal practice. Based on that practice, I wrote it into the administrator manual, which is not a policy, but does sum up common practice (it also contains more than a few personal recommendations, which haven't been universally adopted, e.g., spambot blocks should not prevent account creation).
Our policy on scripts, though, is the real hard policy. Discussions and practice that have followed have shaped how we do things. --Peter Talk 17:13, 15 July 2009 (EDT)
Ah, then my question becomes, how does one know that an edit like this is a script? LtPowers 19:03, 15 July 2009 (EDT)
We can identify them much the same way we identify vandalism or spamming on recentchanges—patterns of behavior, which patrollers get pretty good at recognizing. (An aside, but intelligence agencies do much the same to spot foreign intelligence agency/terrorist/criminal/etc. behavior.) Bots follow set patterns. We've seen this particular pattern for years, coming in high volume, across nearly all language versions, from endless numbers of ips. We've blocked countless of them, and no one has ever created an account or otherwise contacted the site to complain. We can't know with complete certainty what is going on, but I think we have actionable intelligence on this one. --Peter Talk 23:30, 15 July 2009 (EDT)

I don't think we need to have a policy on this. Rather, we should use administrators' experience and discretion. In the present case, I would argue against long blocks, because it is possible that the IPs themselves are innocent. The attacks seem to be coming from many different IPs, which points to a script being spread via HTML email or something. — Ravikiran 03:03, 17 July 2009 (EDT)

Unnominated user bans..[edit]

Discussion swept from Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits

This issue seems to come up a few times, as to what user bans are legitimate and at what times. Currently, the article dances around this issue, but I think we should be more explicit.

My understanding of the current policy is..

  1. If a user/anon is vandalising or exhibiting rampant anti-social behaviour at such a rate that is unreasonable to keep up with the reversions, then a ban up to 24-hours can be applied with no discussion. This is not a punitive action, but one to protect the integrity of the articles when reverting/monitoring changes is taking an excessive amount of time.
  2. If a user/anon is vandalising articles or exhibiting anti social behaviour, they can be nominated for a user ban, which they can be supported or not as the policy describes. Generally speaking they should not be banned during this nomination period, unless they continue to disrupt the running of the site, in which case a ban for up to 3-days can be applied.
  3. The response to an edit-war should normally be short term protection of the page concerned, and the initiation of a discussion on the talk page. If a particular user refuses to join the discussion, and continues to edit-war then this can be considered anti-social behaviour, in line with the policies above.

Is that what other people read from the current policy? If so, any reason why we can't just state it more explicitly? --inas 19:51, 10 May 2010 (EDT)

I think Wikitravel talk:User ban nominations has several discussions on this matter, most notably the "Blocks" and "Bans" discussion. My understanding of current consensus is that when someone is being repeatedly abusive an admin can apply a discretionary block - people (myself included) objected to the "rate that is unreasonable to keep up with" clause for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that with the amount of work required just to patrol edits there didn't seem to be enough good reasons not to allow use of a tool (temp user block) that makes that job easier when someone is being abusive. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:17, 10 May 2010 (EDT)
Thanks for the pointer, which led me to my own comment above, asking much the same question as I am asking now.
* How long can a discretionary block for anti-social behaviour run, before a user ban nomination is required?
* Can they be blocked without a warning being given?
* Can they be blocked for longer than 24-hours (rolling periods) without a user ban nomination?
* Can they be blocked for longer than 3 days without the required user ban process?
--inas 23:54, 10 May 2010 (EDT)
If I understand correctly then Wikitravel:How to handle unwanted edits#User ban answers your first, third and fourth questions: "Only the most short-term temporary bans (one day or less) are exempt from the user ban nominations process." I think current practice is that a first-time block is usually no more than two hours, and it may be escalated for repeat offenses. As to the second question, I don't think we have any guidelines about warnings, but since discretionary blocks should only be used for obvious cases I don't think a warning is needed - "stop replacing articles with profanity or you will be blocked from editing" isn't likely to have any effect. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:05, 11 May 2010 (EDT)
Except user blocks are used for touting, edit-warring and a few other things as well. A quick browse through the logs seems to indicate a significant rise in the number of user blocks over time. --inas 23:04, 11 May 2010 (EDT)