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Blocks are used to deal with vandalism, bots, and inappropriate usernames.
There are three types of blocks:
- User accounts
- Anonymous IPs
- IP ranges.
Sysops have the technical ability to block any of these for any period of time, but such blocks should follow our blocking policy.
When blocks may be used
Blocks are most frequently used to deal with vandalism. There are several other less common situations where blocks are appropriate, which are listed below.
Sysops may, at their judgment, block IP addresses that vandalize the Wiki. For dynamic IPs, such blocks should last at least 24 hours. For static IPs, such blocks should initially last 24 hours, but repeat violators may be blocked for longer periods; there are various rules of thumb that sysops follow in how much to extend the blocks of habitual vandals, none of which are formal policy. In general, casual vandals should be warned before being blocked, though warnings are not usually given for deliberate vandalism intended to discredit the wiki or serve an activist agenda.
Logged-in users that do essentially nothing but vandalism may also be blocked for the same time periods. However, user accounts that perform a mixture of valid edits and vandalism should not be blocked in this manner, but be warned with the Warning template.
Sysops may, at their judgment, block any user that disrupt the normal functioning of the wiki constantly. Such disruption is to be objectively defined by specific policies, and may include changing other users' signed comments, making deliberately misleading edits, plain vandalism, profanity, etc. Users should be warned that they are violating policy before they are blocked. For dynamic IPs, such blocks should last 24 hours. For static IPs and user names, such blocks should initially last 24 hours, but repeat violators may be blocked for longer as conditions merit.
Sysops may also block new user accounts that immediately make many disruptive edits, for any length of time or permanently, at their discretion. "Sockpuppets", or multiple accounts of the same person, should be blocked permanently. However, blocks should not be used against isolated incidents of disruption from IP addresses nor against user accounts that make a mixture of disruptive and useful edits.
Reincarnations of blocked disruptive users will be reblocked if they continue being disruptive, or if they edit in a way which suggests they are likely to continue being disruptive – such as "YOU CANT BLOCK ME!!11!!" or "JOIN ME IN MY FIGHT TO DESTROY THE WIKI!1!!1!!"
Inflammatory, deliberately confusing, and other inappropriate usernames are not allowed, and in certain circumstances, sysops may block accounts permanently with such usernames.
Sysops can force a namechange by blocking the username (with an expiry time of infinite). The blocking sysop should include a note regarding the username violation in the "reason" field, along with a link to the user talk page where the matter was discussed. If a user page has already been created, any user may add an explanation of why the user was blocked and a link to the talk page on the blocked user's userpage. It is not advisable to create user pages or talk pages for users with offensive usernames – bureaucrats are likely to rename the users to something generic, like "Null001", "Null002", etc.
Care should be taken to unblock the user's IP address. To unblock the IP but not the username, wait until the user next tries to edit a page, and something like #1234 was blocked because they share an IP with OldUserName will appear at Special:Ipblocklist. Click "unblock" next to that number. Then the user can log in under their new name.
If an account has been blocked both for vandalism and for having an inappropriate username, the IP should be left auto-blocked.
Usernames that are designed to impersonate legitimate users may be blocked immediately and indefinitely. The IP address of these users should be left autoblocked. Accounts and IP addresses that illegitimately use another account's name in the signature should be warned first, and then can be blocked.
Please be sure that the account is a malicious impersonator before blocking it; someone might choose a name similar to that of another user without any ill intent. Use common sense. If the suspected impersonators are vandalizing, flaming other users, or otherwise acting with malice, then they should be blocked immediately. If they are making legitimate edits, they should be told of the possible confusion and encouraged to change usernames.
Wiki convention is that accounts with a specific name, but created for general public use by multiple people, are not to be used. These are seen as pretending to a reputation as an individual within the project, while masking anonymity. Public accounts are not considered necessary because anyone can quickly create a username without even an email address being required.
Examples include any account where the owner posts the password for public use. These may be blocked on sight indefinitely, with the block message pointing out that public accounts are not needed.
As an alternative, when confirming that the password is public, it is quite simple and often creates less fuss to just go into Special:Preferences and change the password. This makes the password no longer public, and can also be done by anyone, not just a sysop.
Bots are currently not allowed (except by developers, of course) and should be blocked indefinitely upon discovery. This includes accounts created by a bot, with the intention of flooding the wiki with advertising or mindless spam.
When blocking may not be used
The list above is widely considered to be an exhaustive list of the situations that warrant blocking. Blocking should not be used in any other circumstances, unless there is exceptional widespread community support.
Use of blocks to gain advantage in a content dispute, and self-blocking in an effort to enforce a "Wikiholiday" or departure are specifically prohibited. Likewise, users should not block those with whom they are currently engaged in conflict.
Sysops should not block themselves (to enforce a "vacation" on themselves, for instance) because the resultant "autoblock" may affect other users (see Effects of being blocked, below).
Effects of being blocked
Blocked users can still see all Wiki pages, but the "edit" link brings up a "User is blocked" page which explains the reason behind the block and gives information on how to request unblocking. This page includes the "reason" message supplied by the administrator who placed the block. Links and template includes all work as normal in the "reason" section.
The duration of the block depends on the expiry time that was entered at the time of the block, which may be "indefinite" or "infinite" (ie, until explicitly unblocked).
When a blocked user attempts to edit, the IP from which they are editing is "autoblocked," so that they may not make the same edit anonymously or under a different user name. There is an internal autoblock expiry time variable, which is set to 24 hours, meaning that when a username is blocked indefinitely, their IP will be automatically unblocked 24 hours after they last accessed a page.
Note that blocking does not in any way restrict any feature other than normal article editing: normal users can still read articles, as well as adjust their watchlists and user preferences. Administrators and bureaucrats can continue to use all of their respective features: add and remove blocks, roll back vandalism, make someone a sysop, etc.
Occasionally, users with floating IPs will find that they have been blocked accidentally, because their present IP was previously used by a vandal or hard-banned user. These blocks will disappear if IP change can be forced. If that is not possible, the block should be reported to the nearest friendly sysop via email - see the list of sysops for some likely candidates.
Users who act so as to impersonate a previously banned user, to impersonate a known vandal, or to pretend to be engaging in vandalism, are also likely to be accidentally blocked. To avoid this problem, do not act in this way. "Don't do that then". It is good practice to edit so as to demonstrate your trustworthiness, not to put up a facade of untrustworthiness.
How to block
Sysops may go to Special pages and select the "Block user" link. This takes them to Special:Block, which has further instructions. Special:Block is also accessible via the [block] link that appears next to each non-logged in user on recent changes.
Expiry times are entered in the GNU standard format, which is described in the tar manual. Alternatively, a block may be "indefinite" or "infinite", meaning the block is permanent, until a sysop explicitly unblocks the account.
If a sysop does not enter an expiry time, he or she will see an error message.
Range blocks are sometimes used when a vandal or disruptive user has been IP blocked on several occasions but responds by using a different IP address. In most cases, range blocks will affect at least some legitimate users. Therefore, range blocks should only be used when the disruptive behavior is frequent and severe enough to make other methods ineffective. This is a matter of judgement, and the likely number of legitimate users that might be affected should be considered.
When used, range blocks should be as brief as possible.
The range block feature is difficult to use correctly because it requires an understanding of binary arithmetic. It has certain limitations inherent in its implementation, requiring the starting and ending addresses to be an exact multiple of the distance between them, which must be a power of two. For details, see range blocks.
Special:Ipblocklist contains a list of all currently blocked users and IPs. Sysops will see a link to [unblock] next to each user. After clicking this, you should type in the reason that you are unblocking the user and then click the Unblock this address button. Sysops are able to unblock themselves by following this procedure.
Sysops may unblock users if:
- They were blocked in violation of this policy.
- The reason for blocking no longer applies.
- The block has lasted too long.
- In other appropriate cases
There are no hard and fast guidelines on unblocking, hence the "in other appropriate cases" guidance. Sysops must use their common sense and good judgement.