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RationalWiki:Blocking policy

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If you feel that you have been unjustly blocked or vandalbinned you can either protest it at the Chicken coop or on the talkpage of the person who banned you.

In general, RationalWiki discourages blocking, especially for extended periods of time.

Blocking should never occur if somebody is attempting to discuss an issue in a reasonable manner. Blocking is not to censor alternate opinions, but to prevent disorder. For instance, if someone makes an edit that is not that bad but you personally disagree with it, then you should not block them, as you will most certainly be promoted for doing so...

Blocking should only be used if somebody is maliciously editing a page or pages, as explained below.

RationalWiki has a special "vandal bin" feature, which restricts its members' edits to 1 edit per 30 minutes, making spamming and vandalism significantly less rewarding. If somebody is persistent, but not clearly a vandal, it may be useful to restrict their edit rate, but not block them.

Malicious editing[edit]

Malicious editing occurs when somebody wants to harm RationalWiki. Because it does not contribute to constructive dialogue, and merely causes disorder, malicious editing is a blockable offense.

Blockable malicious editing is the performance of any of the below, applied at sysops' discretion:

Short-term blocks[edit]

  • Blanking a page: Removing all or a significant portion of a page. Signified by "Blanked the page" messages in the edit summary. Remember that accidental blanking is a possibility, so usually a simple revert is fine.
  • Edit warring: Reverting the non-obviously-malicious edits of others without explanation or discussion on the talk page. Also includes reverting other users' reverts more than twice.
  • Mindless generic vandalism and trolling: Spamming stupid, boring, irrelevant nonsense to a page or simply removing huge chunks of a page. Inserting personal commentary in an article about the poor quality of the article or the wiki is frowned upon, though usually not blockable.
  • Whitewashing pages: changing a negative POV of a page to make the tone more neutral or even endorsing of the subject. The extent and intent varies from bad-faith trolling to well-intentioned criticism that is communicated inadequately, but it is generally best to revert and leave a comment when in doubt.
  • Repeatedly leaving stupid, pointless, annoying messages on talk pages. Repeat offenses can lead to a long-term block. Assume good faith, however, so when in doubt, leave them or respond.
  • What seems like gibberish or irrelevant information is not necessarily malicious; assume good faith. If it seems crazy, just copy it over to the talk page or use the ping feature and ask the person to justify their addition.

A fairly short block (hours to days, and always measured in terms of π, e.g. 3.1415 seconds, 31.415 seconds, 314.15 seconds, etc.), or a visit to the vandal bin, is preferred. Repeat offenses, however, are grounds for long-term blocks.

Long-term blocks[edit]

  • Creating an account with a name that impersonates another user's, is offensive, or is ridiculously complicated/long. This is an indefinite ban on sight. Users that have confusing or potentially disruptive usernames (e.g. 3029489032489208409284, GOOOAAAAAATTTTTT!!!) should be told to change to a more appropriate username.
  • Ban evasion: Avoiding bans imposed for other reasons. Since this wiki has no CheckUser, this requires solid evidence and not merely disruptive behavior. When in doubt, treat a suspicious user as with any other disruptive user. Usually leads to an indefinite ban for the sockpuppet account or a ban for the IP (minimum 3 days), and an extended ban for the original account.
  • Doxing: Adding personal information about others into a page. This also includes soliciting for such information off RationalWiki. Sensitive information should also be hidden in the logs.
  • Legal threats: Raising legal threats against RationalWiki, the RationalMedia Foundation, or any RationalWiki editors. If you have a concern with some content about you, argue why it should be changed. Going around slapping people with lawsuit threats is not conductive to constructive debate. Is an indefinite ban.
  • Long-term trolling: Constantly being disruptive despite being told to stop or having comments collapsed, especially after being short-term banned, can be ground for longer bans, typically week-months long.
  • Harassment and offensive comments: Adding purely offensive material for the express purpose of causing emotional harm to others into a page. This includes discrimination against religious views, sex, age, nationality, mental health, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, not necessarily someone making personal attacks. Constantly heckling users despite requests to stop can also be harassment, though context for these situations can vary.
  • Spam: Adding advertising, especially media of or links to illegal and/or obscene items, into a page. Can also be adding huge chunks of unnecessary text into a page. Or maybe even adding something to many pages for no reason at all. Advertising accounts are indefinite bans, but the latter is usually vandal-binned.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of what actions can lead to a ban nor be a strict guideline on how blocks can and should be applied. If enough users and especially moderators tell you to stop and is not outlined in a rule, then it is best to either comply or dispute it (avoid arguing "it's not against the rules"). Some long-term blocks are better served as a vandal bin (however try not to impose indefinite blocks on those that are recently vandal binned and haven't edited since and vice versa; it negates the point of vandal bin), or short-term blocks are used over long-term blocks simply to discourage them, though a long-term block achieves a similar end. Some edits do not even require a block as opposed to revert and ignore (or in talk pages, ignore, use {{DFTT}}, or {{collapse}}). If you believe a short-term block should be extended, then do list reasons.

The rules, however, are guidelines, and you should contest or shorten bans if you believe they are excessive or unfair. Avoid simply citing the rules. Instead, think more of the upkeep of the community and motivations behind the bans.

Blocking tools[edit]

In order to block a user, one must do one of the following:

  • Go directly to Special:Block and enter the target user's username
  • If in an edit history, every edit includes the target user's username, followed by "(Talk | contribs | block)". Click "block" and it takes you to the block page.
  • If in a user's contributions, at the top of the page is a big ol' list of that user's pages. Click the "block" one and it takes you to the block page.

When sysops block users, they see five checkboxes:

  • Prevent account creation: If checked, this prevents users or IPs from creating new accounts, which might allow them to avoid the block. This checkbox should almost always be checked.
  • Prevent this user from editing their own talk page while blocked: Usually, blocked users will be able to edit their own userpage and talkpage. This checkbox should almost never be checked, because blocked users should always be allowed to protest their block. The only exception to this rule is if the blocked user, for some odd reason, decides to spam their userpage (in which case this box may be checked and the block extended).
  • Automatically block the last IP address used by this user, and any subsequent IP addresses they try to edit from: If checked, this will prevent the target user from editing from their previous IP address, and any other address, if they log in before doing so. This checkbox has almost no impact, and so it doesn't really matter if it's checked or not.
  • Watch this user's user and talk pages: This checkbox adds the user's userpage and talkpage to your Watchlist, which makes it easier to patrol them, should they ever decide to spam more or apologize.
  • Prevent logged-in users from editing from this IP address: Usually, if an IP is blocked, a person can log in and avoid the IP block. This checkbox should almost never be checked, as the block itself should do enough damage and an IP block may hurt innocent users.

Duration[edit]

Sysops should almost always try to avoid blocking for long periods of time, such as year-long or infinite blocks. It is very unlikely that a block of more than a few days will ever be necessary, because most vandals just get bored after waiting for a few days and forget about RationalWiki.

When a sysop is in the blocking window, a sysop can see the block history of the person being blocked. If somebody is a repeat offender, then the duration of the block can acceptably be increased.

Non-obscene human vandals can be blocked for up to 1 day, depending on how annoying their edits are.

Obscene human vandals can be blocked for up to 1 month, depending on how hateful/illegal/disgusting their edits are.

Spambots can be blocked for up to 3 months, but sysops should only block if there is repeated spamming from an IP address.

Repetitive malicious editors can have their blocks extended for up to 3 months.

For any longer block, please get consensus from the mob at the Chicken coop.

Vandalbinning[edit]

RationalWiki has a special feature called the vandal bin. Sysops can put vandals into a special list which limits them to 1 edit per 30 minutes, thus discouraging them from doing further damage. Users in the vandal bin will also lose the ability to relocate pages. This allows RationalWiki to restrict the abilities of vandals, while still allowing them the opportunity to edit the wiki (and maybe even contribute) should they have a change of heart. The vandal bin is very effective at making malicious editors get bored and go away.

Vandalbinning IP addresses and using the autoblock feature is discouraged because those IPs will remain in the bin forever (that is, until somebody notices and takes them out), and this could potentially affect innocent users in the future. Using short blocks for IPs is preferred.

Hiding revisions[edit]

We have the ability to "hide" individual revisions from being publicly viewed by the mob without having to delete the entire page's history. It should be used only if someone posts personal and sensitive information (e.g. street address, phone number, real name, place of work, etc.) without the subject's permission. These changes to revisions are logged in the deletion log.

When looking at a page's revision history (or "fossil record", as we like to call it), next to each revision you will see a checkbox, and in the header and footer you will see a button labeled "Show/hide selected revisions". You will also see a (show/hide) button in various places, for example when viewing diffs. Clicking these buttons will bring you to a screen that contains a list of options for hiding the revision(s) from public view:

  • Hide revision text — Checking this hides whatever changes were made.
  • Hide edit comment — Obviously, checking this hides whatever the edit summary was. Only use this if the edit summary also contains inappropriate information.
  • Hide editor's username/IP — Checking this hides the username or IP address of the person who made the edit. This is usually not necessary, and will hide the edit from the user's contributions page.

Also be sure to explain why you are hiding the revision in the "Log comment" box, such as "Removing post containing personal information (i.e. phone number, address, real name, etc.)".

If for some reason the revision needs to be hidden from other sysops, e.g. because it contains personal information, please always be sure to contact a moderator.

If you must practice using this ability, practice only on your own userpage, or a sandbox in your userspace.

Cleaning up afterwards[edit]

After sysops block a user, it's standard practice to go to the user's contributions page and review each of their recent edits, in order to revert other malicious edits that the user may have performed. This ultimately matters more than blocking or vandalbinning, since it preserves the missions of RationalWiki, while blocking or vandalbinning merely prevents or slows future disorder.

If a page is repeatedly vandalized, it may be necessary to protect it.

How NOT to block[edit]

Sysops should exercise caution when issuing blocks or vandalbinning. It is important that sysops avoid mistakenly blocking innocent non-malicious editors, particularly if they're newcomers. Sysops should assume good faith, and if and when that faith is betrayed, not panic. A few edits by vandals does not a crisis make. Sysops should wait until a new editor makes an edit or two. If the edits are clearly vandalism, then punish them. If the edits are questionably vandalism, sysops should ask them about it on their talk page before assuming vandalism.

If possible, sysops should attempt to engage the malicious editor, not block them. Obviously someone editing random pages to insert gibberish or blank them is not going to respond to kindness, but if an editor seems to be trying to say something, it is good to try get them to go to the talk pages.

RationalWiki does not block merely for associating with sites we disagree with. RationalWiki also does not block for off-wiki actions, such as a block on Wikipedia. So long as they don't vandalize the pages, you shouldn't stop them; rather, encourage them to have constructive discourse.

Joke blocks[edit]

Some naughty sysops issue "joke blocks" on their fellow sysops, lasting a few seconds to a couple minutes in length (although overuse of minute-plus blocks, or blocks against sysops in the middle of editing, are never appreciated by the blockee, and are rather frowned upon). Furthermore, when giving out a friendly block, sysops should uncheck Automatically block the last IP address used by this user, and any subsequent IPs they try to edit from.

Also, users may request that their IP address be blocked to force them to log in, or simply block it themselves.

See also[edit]