Wikisource:Blocking policy

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Blocking policy

This page describes the process and policy for blocking users from editing. (If you followed WS:BP, you may be looking for the Wikisource:Bot policy (WS:BOT).

For an overview of the templates used in warning users about behaviour that may lead to or has already resulted in a block, see Wikisource:User warning templates

Blocking is a technical means by which an account, IP address/range, or person is prevented from editing Wikisource. For admins and bureaucrats, some of their additional privileges are also affected by blocking - see the effects of being blocked. In all cases, blocks are preventative rather than punitive, and serve only to avoid damage to Wikisource.

The amount of time over which these blocks should extend depends on the administrator's judgement. However, a general rule of thumb is that if a large number of administrators disagree over a block, it is excessive. The block may be lifted if the editor agrees to stop the damaging behavior.

All users can post block requests at the Administrator's noticeboard or the other venues listed below. This can result in quick action where credible evidence of policy violations is provided; however, admins are never obligated to place a block.

Justifications for blocking

Alternatives to Blocking

Wikisource strives to create a culture that makes our fellow contributors feel welcome, appreciated and safe. The preferred path for any conflict is resolving disputes through open communication. In any situation other than the most blatant shock vandalism and spam bot activity, polite communication with the user should be the first action, and blocking a last resort.

Wikisource does not have a formal policy like Wikipedia:Assume good faith but we consider it a basic premise of all wiki activity. Should you encounter inappropriate edits the expectation is to create a friendly message on the user's talk page questioning or discouraging their editing. In case of clear vandalism some of the warning templates may be used, too. Alternatively post a message at Wikisource:Administrators' noticeboard for someone else to interact with the user.


Vandalism is defined as edit made in a deliberate attempt to reduce the quality of the library. The most common types of vandalism are the replacement of existing text with obscenities, page blanking, and intentional distortion of original texts.

Excessive reverts

Excessive reverts are considered harmful in a wiki environment, where all editors are considered equal. Disputes should be resolved through discussion. Editors engaging in a reversion war may be blocked to enforce a cooling off period. First-time offenders should generally be blocked for twenty-four hours, but this may be extended if a user was particularly aggressive (for example, through using provocative edit summaries). Where multiple parties violate the rule, sysops will treat all sides equally.

Personal attacks

Personal attacks are defined as any edit or action intended to endanger, intimidate, threaten, insult, or denigrate another user. This also applies to actions outside Wikisource, such as emails. There is no excuse to do so. Editors may be blocked for any length of time, including indefinitely under this clause, and the block should be noted on the Administrator's noticeboard.

It goes without saying that administrators themselves should remain civil and respectful (and keep a cool head) during conflicts with other users.

Posting personal details

Users who post personal details about other users without their consent may be blocked for any length of time, including indefinitely, depending on the severity of the incident and whether the blocking admin feels it was isolated or is likely to be repeated. Nothing in this provision should be taken to apply to admins with CheckUser access, who may make certain information available within the terms of the CheckUser policy.


Administrators may block IP addresses or usernames that disrupt the normal functioning of Wikisource. Such disruption may include changing other users' signed comments, making deliberately misleading edits, harassment, and impersonation. Users will normally be warned before they are blocked.

Administrators may also block new user accounts that make lots of disruptive 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.

Blocks under this provision should be noted on the administrator's noticeboard.

Copyright infringement and plagiarism

Texts under an incompatible license pose legal problems for the entire Wikimedia Foundation, and as such are given a high priority. If there is doubt, editors should err on the side of caution and remove the text. Editors who persistently insert disputed material, after having been warned, may be blocked to protect the project. In cases where an editor is acting in good faith, exercising caution with regard to the copyright issues, and there is no imminent legal threat, the editor should not be blocked.

Fair-use images on user pages are not allowed and may be removed where they are found, which can most often be achieved with a polite talk-page request. Repeated insertion of fair-use images on user pages may be grounds for blocking, subject to the provision above. Another option is to remove the image and protect the user page.

Official comments:

We need to deal with such activities with absolute harshness, no mercy, because this kind of plagiarism is 100% at odds with all of our core principles. All admins are invited to block any and all similar users on sight. Be bold. If someone takes you to ArbCom over it, have no fear. We must not tolerate plagiarism in the least. Jimbo Wales 04:28, 28 December 2005 UTC)[1]

There is no need nor intention to be vindictive, but at the same time, we can not tolerate plagiarism. Let me say quite firmly that for me, the legal issues are important, but far far far more important are the moral issues. We want to be able, all of us, to point at Wikipedia and say: we made it ourselves, fair and square. Jimbo Wales 15:54, 28 December 2005 (UTC)[2]


Administrators may block usernames which are deliberately obscene, may be very easily confused with an established editor, or imply affiliation of any kind with the project or another editor, or otherwise inappropriate. Usernames that are designed to impersonate or attack legitimate users will be blocked immediately and indefinitely.

"Public" accounts

Wikimedia convention is that accounts with a specific name, but created for 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. So-called "public" accounts are not considered necessary because anonymous users can edit freely, and 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.

Multiple accounts

Editors who register should edit using one account only. The purpose of this practice is to discourage deceptive or misleading use of multiple accounts and to explain where editors may legitimately use a second (alternate) account. A second account used deceptively is known as a sockpuppet. Wikisource:Alternate accounts has guidance on the appropriate/acceptable use of multiple accounts.

The misuse of a second account is considered a serious breach of community trust, and is likely to lead to a block or a ban, the public linking of any other accounts or IPs you have used on Wikimedia and its projects, and (potentially) "public record" discussion by other editors of your "real-world" activities and other personal information relevant to your editing. Abuse of multiple accounts can seriously affect what employers, friends, peers, and journalists may see when they look up your name or nickname online in the future. Do not sock.


Bots must have obtained community approval at the Wikisource:Scriptorium, and must be very carefully tested to ensure that they do not behave unexpectedly. Administrators may block on sight any bot that appears to be out of control.

Semi-automatic bots — bots that operate under the direct supervision of a human—are permitted only so long as they are clearly identified as such (in the edit summary or account name) and are carefully supervised. Semi-automatic bots may be blocked if they behave erratically or outside normal editing guidelines.

Anonymous and open proxies

Open or anonymising proxies should be blocked immediately and without appeal.

See: [WikiEN-l] "Anonymous proxies (was Re: Desysop Morwen)" (Jimmy Wales Mon Feb 16 21:52:11 UTC 2004). Note that "Wikipedia" is meant to encompass all Wikimedia projects.

Policy violations

Users may be blocked for repeatedly violating policy after then have been warned that they are doing so. Such blocks should be noted on the administrator's noticeboard.

Effects of being blocked

Blocked users and IP addresses can still see all Wikisource pages, but the "Edit this page" 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" (i.e., until explicitly unblocked).

When a blocked user attempts to edit, the IP from which he or she is editing is "autoblocked", so that the user 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 he or she last accessed a page.

For admins and bureaucrats, being blocked also restricts their ability to use rollback, to delete and undelete pages, and to protect and unprotect pages. They can still add and remove blocks, and bureaucrats can still make someone a sysop.

Accidental blocks

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 administrators for some likely candidates.

When blocking may not be used

Use of blocks to gain advantage in a content dispute is specifically prohibited. Likewise, administrators should not block those with whom they are currently engaged in an article-editing conflict. Extreme caution should be exercised before blocking users who may be acting in good faith.

Self-blocking to enforce a Wikiholiday or departure is specifically prohibited. Sysops also should not block themselves for testing unless they have a static IP because the resultant "autoblock" may affect other users.

Instructions to admins

How to block

Sysops may go to Special pages and select the "Block a user/IP address" link. This takes them to Special:Blockip, which has further instructions. Special:Blockip is also accessible via the [block] link that appears next to each non-logged in user on recent changes.

The "reason" that the administrator fills in will be displayed to the blocked user when he or she attempts to edit, as well as appearing in the block log and the block list. If it is not for an obvious reason, or if more than one line is needed to explain the block, the administrator may record the block at the administrator's noticeboard.

Users should be notified of blocks on their talk pages. That way, other editors will be aware that the user is blocked, and will not expect responses to talk page comments. In some cases, an IP may be shared by administrators who request they be notified before blocks are placed on them (so that they may finish any administrative work they are doing). For this reason, it is advisable to check the user talk page of the IP where any such request will be listed.

Expiry times and application

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 no expiry time is entered, an error message will be displayed.

A user may be blocked by more than one administrator at a time. In this case, the user will be blocked until his/her shortest block has expired. For instance, if an administrator blocks a user for one day, and another administrator blocks the same user for two days, then the user will remain blocked for one day, assuming that the blocks were given at the same time.

Range blocks

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:BlockList contains a list of all currently blocked users and IPs. Sysops will see a link to ([unblock]) next to each user. After clicking this, they should type in the reason for the unblock and then click the Unblock this address button.

Sysops are technically able to unblock themselves by following this procedure but should absolutely not do so, except if they were autoblocked as a result of a block on some other user (or bot) that they share an IP with. Otherwise, if an admin feels they were not blocked for a valid reason, they should contact the blocking admin, another admin, or the mailing list and ask to be unblocked.

If you disagree with a block

If you disagree with a block placed by another admin, please contact that admin to discuss the matter. Some reasons you might want to unblock would be:

  • The user was blocked in violation of this policy
  • The reason for the block no longer applies

Bear in mind that blocked users commonly e-mail several admins claiming to be the victims of persecution by a biased admin. Because it is not always obvious from the blocked user's edit history what the problem was, it is a matter of courtesy and common sense to consult the blocking admin, rather than performing the unblock yourself.

Exceptions to this would be where an unambiguous error has been made (not a judgment call) and the blocking admin is not online: for example, if a user was blocked for 3RR, but there were clearly only three reverts. If you feel that such an error has been made, and the blocking admin is not available, you must notify the blocking admin on his or her talk page and the rest of the administrator community at Administrators' noticeboard that you are unblocking a blocked user, before doing so.

Admins should be careful not to unblock themselves in order to circumvent a block (unless it is an IP block to prevent vandalism), as a temporary revocation of administrator access ("desysopping") is the only way to ensure that this does not continue.

Controversial blocks

While blocking IP addresses responsible for anonymous, clear-cut vandalism is routine, many other uses of IP and username blocks are contentious. Where consensus proves elusive, such blocks are damaging to the community.

The most controversial blocks are:

  • blocks of suspected "sockpuppets" or "reincarnations" of banned users;
  • blocks of logged-in users with a substantial history of valid contributions, regardless of the reasoning for the block;
  • blocks made under the disruption provision of the blocking policy;
  • pre-emptive blocks of usernames that have never edited here; and
  • blocks that, while possibly wise, lack policy basis.

Once you are convinced that a block is warranted, the recommended procedure for controversial blocks is:

  1. Check the facts with care.
  2. Reread the appropriate parts of this blocking policy.
  3. If possible, contact other administrators informally to be sure there are others who agree with your reasoning. The administrators' noticeboard, the IRC channel (#wikisource) and email are effective tools for this.
  4. Place the block, exercising due care in the wording of the "reason" message, and include a link to the user page of the user being blocked.
  5. Place a notice of the block on the talk page of the affected user, with additional rationale, outlining the facts and the part of the blocking policy you feel applies.
  6. Be willing to discuss the block with other Wikisourcers.

Block wars, in which a user is repeatedly blocked and unblocked, are extremely harmful. They are a source of frustration and disappointment to many seasoned Wikisourcers and tend to encourage further bad behavior on the part of the blocked user. Avoid them. If you disagree with a block, discuss the matter with the blocking admin and others, and try to reach a consensus, rather than unblocking. Bear in mind that the blocking admin is likely to know more about the background to the situation than you do.

See also