Blocking is the method by which administrators technically prevent users from editing Wikipedia. Blocks may be applied to user accounts, to IP addresses, and to ranges of IP addresses, for either a definite or an indefinite time, to all or a subset of pages. Blocked users can continue to access Wikipedia, but cannot edit any page they are blocked from (including, if appropriate, their own user pages). In most cases, a site-wide blocked user will only be able to edit their own user talk page.
Blocks are used to prevent damage or disruption to Wikipedia, not to punish users (see § Purpose and goals). Any user may report disruption and ask administrators to consider blocking a disruptive account or IP address (see § Requesting blocks).
If editors believe a block has been improperly issued, they can request a review of that block at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. Administrators can "unblock" a user when they feel the block is unwarranted or no longer appropriate.
Blocking is different from banning, which is a formal retraction of editing privileges on all or part of Wikipedia. Blocks disable a user's ability to edit pages; bans do not. However, bans may be enforced by blocks; users who are subject to a total ban, or who breach the terms of a partial ban, will most likely be site-wide blocked to enforce the ban.
Blocks serve to protect the project from harm, and reduce likely future problems. Blocks may escalate in duration if problems recur. They are meted out not as retribution but to protect the project and other users from disruption and inappropriate conduct, and to deter any future possible repetitions of inappropriate conduct. Blocking is one of the most powerful tools that are entrusted to administrators, who should be familiar with the circumstances prior to intervening and are required to be able to justify any block that they issue.
In general, once a matter has become "cold" and the risk of present disruption has clearly ended, reopening it by blocking retrospectively is usually not appropriate. In this situation, if an ongoing or serious concern persists, several dispute resolution processes exist to allow discussion and possible sanction of a user.
Blocks can be appealed (see § Unblocking). Requests to be unblocked are also decided in light of prevention and deterrence. A user may be unblocked earlier if the user agrees to desist and appears to have learned from the matter, or if the situation was temporary and has now ended. Likewise, a user who has previously returned to inappropriate conduct after other unblocks may find their unblock request declined for deterrence reasons, to emphasize the importance of change and unacceptability of the conduct.
Deterrence is based upon the likelihood of repetition. For example, though it might have been justifiable to block an editor a short time ago, such a block may no longer be justifiable right now, particularly if the actions have since ceased or the conduct issues have been resolved.
As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, do not block; instead, consult other administrators for advice. After placing a potentially controversial block, it is a good idea to make a note of the block at the administrators' incidents noticeboard for peer review.
Administrators should take special care when dealing with new users. Beginning editors are often unfamiliar with Wikipedia policy and convention, and so their behavior may initially appear to be disruptive. Responding to these new users with excessive force can discourage them from editing in the future. See Wikipedia:Do not bite the newcomers.
A user may be blocked when necessary to protect the rights, property, or safety of the Wikimedia Foundation, its users, or the public. A block for protection may be necessary in response to:
When blocking in response to personal information disclosures or actions that place users in danger, consider notifying the Arbitration Committee by e-mail (arbcom-enwikimedia.org) about the disclosure or danger and contacting someone with oversight permissions to request permanent deletion of the material in question.
A user may be blocked when his or her conduct severely disrupts the project; that is, when his or her conduct is inconsistent with a civil, collegial atmosphere and interferes with the process of editors working together harmoniously to create an encyclopedia. A block for disruption may be necessary in response to:
Some types of user accounts are considered disruptive and may be blocked without warning, usually indefinitely:
Non-static IP addresses or hosts that are otherwise not permanent proxies typically warrant blocking for a shorter period of time, as the IP address is likely to be reassigned, or the open proxy is likely to be closed. Many Tor proxies, in particular, are "exit nodes" for only a short time; in general, these proxies should not be blocked indefinitely without consideration. See Wikipedia:Blocking IP addresses for further details.
There is also a Wikipedia project, the WikiProject on open proxies, which seeks to identify and block open proxy servers.
A Wikipedia ban is a formal revocation of editing privileges on all or part of Wikipedia. A ban may be temporary and of fixed duration, or indefinite and potentially permanent.
Blocks may be imposed as a technical measure to enforce a ban. Such blocks are based on the particulars of the ban. Bans that apply to all of Wikipedia—that is, they are not partial—may be backed up by a sitewide block, which is usually set to apply for the period of the ban. Other bans may be enforced with a partial block.
An administrator may reset the block of a user who intentionally evades a block, and may extend the duration of the block if the user engages in further blockable behavior while evading the block. User accounts or IP addresses used to evade a block should also be blocked.
Anyone is free to revert any edits made in violation of a block, without giving any further reason and without regard to the three-revert rule. This does not mean that edits must be reverted just because they were made by a blocked editor (obviously helpful changes, such as fixing typos or undoing vandalism, can be allowed to stand), but the presumption in ambiguous cases should be to revert. However, in closed discussions, comments by blocked editors should not generally be reverted or struck through.
Wikipedians in turn are not permitted to post or edit material at the direction of a blocked editor (sometimes called proxy editing or "proxying") unless they can show that the changes are either verifiable or productive and they have independent reasons for making such edits. New accounts that engage in the same behavior as a banned editor or blocked account in the same context, and that appear to be editing Wikipedia solely for that purpose, are subject to the remedies applied to the editor whose behavior they are imitating. See Wikipedia:Sock puppetry § Meatpuppetry.
While reverting edits, take care not to reinstate material that may be in violation of such core policies as Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia:Verifiability, and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons. Editors who subsequently reinstate edits originally made by a blocked editor take complete responsibility for the content.
Administrators must not block users with whom they are engaged in a content dispute; instead, they should report the problem to other administrators. Administrators should also be aware of potential conflicts involving pages or subject areas with which they are involved. It is acceptable for an administrator to block someone who has been engaging in clear-cut vandalism in that administrator's userspace.
Blocks intended solely to "cool down" an angry user should not be used, as they often have the opposite effect. However, an angry user who is also being disruptive can be blocked to prevent further disruption.
Blocks should not be used solely for the purpose of recording warnings or other negative events in a user's block log. The practice, typically involving very short blocks, is often seen as punitive and humiliating.
Very short blocks may be used to record, for example, an apology or acknowledgement of mistake in the block log in the event of a wrongful or accidental block, if the original block has expired. (If it has not, the message may be recorded in the unblocking reason.)
A blocked administrator can block the blocking administrator, but should only do so in exceptional circumstances where there is a clear and immediate need, such as in the case of a compromised account. Use of the block tool to further a dispute or retaliate against the original blocking administrator is not allowed. If in doubt, report the issue on the Administrators' noticeboard for incidents.
Disruptive behavior can be reported, and blocks requested at a specialized venue such as or, if appropriate, Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. Users requesting blocks should supply credible evidence of the circumstances warranting a block. Administrators are never obliged to place a block, and are free to investigate the situation for themselves. Prior to imposing a block, administrators are expected to be fully familiar with the circumstances of the situation. See also § Explanation of blocks.
Administrators who use Wikipedia-related IRC channels are reminded that, while these channels have legitimate purposes, discussing an issue on IRC necessarily excludes those editors who do not use IRC from the discussion (and excludes all non-administrators from the discussion if it takes place in #wikipedia-en-admins), and therefore, such IRC discussion is never the equivalent of on-wiki discussion or dispute resolution. Consensus about blocks or other subjects should not be formed off-wiki.
As the practice of off-wiki "block-shopping" is strongly discouraged, and that except where there is an urgent situation and no reasonable administrator could disagree with an immediate block (e.g. ongoing vandalism or serious violations of the policy on biographies of living persons), the appropriate response for an administrator asked on IRC to block an editor is to refer the requester to the appropriate on-wiki noticeboard.
Sometimes, people request that their account be blocked, for example to enforce a wikibreak. Such requests are typically declined, but there is a .
As an alternative to requesting a self-block, users may use the Wikibreak Enforcer, a user script that can prevent a user from logging in.
Before a block is imposed, efforts should be made to educate users about Wikipedia policies and guidelines, and to warn them when their behavior conflicts with these. Welcome newcomers, do not bite them, and assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it. Newcomers should make an effort to learn about our policies and guidelines so that they can learn how to avoid making mistakes. A variety of template messages exist for convenience, although purpose-written messages are often preferable. Template warnings that state that a user may be blocked for disruption or other blockable behavior may also be issued by regular editors rather than by administrators only.
However, warnings are not a prerequisite for blocking. In general, administrators should ensure that users who are acting in good faith are aware of policies and are given reasonable opportunity to adjust their behavior before blocking, and it may be particularly desirable to communicate first with such users before blocking. On the other hand, users acting in bad faith, whose main or only use is forbidden activity (sockpuppetry, vandalism, and so on), do not require any warning and may be blocked immediately.
Blocking is a serious matter. The community expects that blocks will be made for good reasons only, based upon reviewable evidence and reasonable judgment, and that all factors that support a block are subject to independent peer review if requested.
Administrators must supply a clear and specific block reason that indicates why a user was blocked. Block reasons should avoid the use of jargon as much as possible so that blocked users may better understand them. Administrators should notify users when blocking them by leaving a message on their user talk page. It is often easier to explain the reason for a block at the time than it is to explain a block well after the event.
When implementing a block, a number of pro forma block reasons are available in a drop-down menu; other or additional reasons can also be added. Users can be notified of blocks and block reasons using a number of convenient template messages—see Category:User block templates and .
If there are any specific recommendations or circumstances that a reviewing administrator would need to know, or that may help to avoid administrator disputes upon review of a block, the blocking administrator should consider including this information in the block notice. For example:
If a user needs to be blocked based on information that will not be made available to all administrators, that information should be sent to the Arbitration Committee or a checkuser or oversighter for action. These editors are qualified to handle non-public evidence, and they operate under strict controls. The community has rejected the idea of individual administrators acting on evidence that cannot be peer-reviewed.
An exception is made for administrators holding Checkuser or Oversight privileges; such administrators may block users based on non-public information revealed through the checkuser tool, or on edits that have been suppressed ("oversighted") and are inaccessible to administrators. As such, an administrative action is generally viewed to be made in the user's capacity as an oversighter or checkuser, although the action itself is an administrative one. All such blocks are subject to direct review by the Arbitration Committee.
Technical instructions on how to block and unblock, and information on the blocking interface, are available at mw:Help:Blocking users. The following is advice specifically related to blocking and unblocking on Wikipedia.
In addition to the further advice, there are special considerations to take into account when blocking IP addresses. IP address blocks can affect many users, and IP addresses can change. Users intending to block an IP address should at a minimum check for usage of that address, and consider duration carefully. IP addresses should rarely, if ever, be blocked indefinitely. You should notify the Wikimedia Foundation if the IP is related to a sensitive organization or a government agency.
A block of a range of IP addresses may unintentionally affect other users in that range. Before blocking an IP range, especially for a significant time, you should check for other users who may be unintentionally affected by the range block:
If any are found, an IP block exemption ensures they will not be affected.
The purpose of blocking is prevention, not punishment. The duration of blocks should thus be related to the likelihood of a user repeating inappropriate behavior. Longer blocks for repeated and high levels of disruption is to reduce administrative burden; it is under presumption that such users are likely to cause frequent disruption or harm in future. Administrators should consider:
Blocks on shared or dynamic IP addresses are typically shorter than blocks on registered accounts or static IP addresses made in otherwise similar circumstances, to limit side-effects on other users sharing that IP address.
While the duration of a block should vary with the circumstances, there are some broad standards:
An indefinite block is a block that does not have a definite (or fixed) duration. Indefinite blocks are usually applied when there is significant disruption or threats of disruption, or major breaches of policy. In such cases an open-ended block may be appropriate to prevent further problems until the matter can be resolved by discussion. As with all blocks, it is not a punishment. It is designed to prevent further disruption, and the desired outcome is a commitment to observe Wikipedia's policies and guidelines, and to stop problematic conduct in future.
Indefinite does not mean infinite: an indefinitely blocked user may later be unblocked in appropriate circumstances. In particularly serious cases in which no administrator would be willing to lift the block, the user is effectively banned by the community.
If the block arose from a discussion per , please include a link to the discussion in the block log. If the block is enforcing a community sanction, please note this. If consensus was to allow for regular administrative review rather than requiring community review, per , that should be noted in the log as well.
Several options are available to modify the effect of blocks, which should be used in certain circumstances:
There are two common blocks that may be imposed on registered accounts:
Automated or semi-automated bots may occasionally not operate as intended for a variety of reasons. Bots (or their associated IP address should the actual bot not be readily identifiable) may be blocked until the issue is resolved. Administrators should take care not to apply an autoblock to a bot as this will result in the autoblock propagating to all the other bots that share IPs on Wikimedia Cloud Services.
Bots that are unapproved, or usernames that violate the username policy due to a resemblance to a bot, are immediately and indefinitely blocked if they violate the bot policy, most commonly by editing outside the operator's or their own userspace.
The edits of a bot are considered to be, by extension, the edits of the editor responsible for the bot. As a result, should a bot operator be blocked, any bot attributed to them may also be blocked for the same duration as that of the blocked editor.
Editors may cite "clean start" and rename themselves, asking that their previous username not be disclosed. If such editors have been blocked previously, the administrator who has been requested to make the deletion should contact a Checkuser so that the connection between the accounts can be verified. The Checkuser should then consider adding short blocks to the new account to denote each entry in the user's old account log. Such short blocks should provide protection in case the "clean start" was based on a genuine risk of off-wiki harassment, by not disclosing the previous username, while at the same time eliminating the possibility of avoiding the scrutiny of the community.
The short blocks should be described in the block summary as "previous account block" and the final duration of the block should be noted. Blocks placed in error and lifted early should not be noted at all.
Unblocking or shortening of a block is most common when a blocked user appeals a block. An uninvolved administrator acting independently reviews the circumstances of the block, the editor's prior conduct, and other relevant evidence, along with any additional information provided by the user and others, to determine if the unblock request should be accepted. Common reasons include: the circumstances have changed, a commitment to change is given, the administrator was not fully familiar with the circumstances prior to blocking, or there was a clear mistake.
Each of these may lead to sanctions for misuse of administrative tools—possibly including removing administrator rights—even for first-time incidents.
There is no predefined limit to the number of unblock requests that a user may issue. However, disruptive use of the unblock template may prompt an administrator to remove the blocked user's ability to edit his or her talk page. In this case, a block may still be appealed by submitting a request to the Unblock Ticket Request System.
As part of an unblock request, uninvolved editors may discuss the block, and the blocking administrator is often asked to review or discuss the block, or provide further information. Since the purpose of an unblock request is to obtain review from a third party, the blocking administrators should not decline unblock requests from users they have blocked. Also, by convention, administrators don't usually review more than one unblock request regarding the same block.
Except in cases of unambiguous error or significant change in circumstances dealing with the reason for blocking, administrators should avoid unblocking users without first attempting to contact the blocking administrator to discuss the matter. If the blocking administrator is not available, or if the administrators cannot come to an agreement, then a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard is recommended.
Administrators reviewing a block should consider that some historical context may not be immediately obvious. Cases involving sockpuppets, harassment, or privacy concerns are particularly difficult to judge. At times such issues have led to contentious unblocks. Where an uninformed unblock may be problematic, the blocking administrator may also wish to note as part of the block notice that there are specific circumstances, and that a reviewing administrator should not unblock without discussing the case with the blocking admin (or possibly ArbCom) to fully understand the matter.
Any user may comment on an unblock request; however, only administrators may resolve the request (either declining or unblocking).
Some types of blocks are used in response to particular temporary circumstances, and should be undone once the circumstance no longer applies:
Users may be temporarily and conditionally unblocked to respond to a discussion regarding the circumstances of their block. Such temporary and conditional unblocks are made on the understanding that the users may not edit any pages (besides their user talk page) except the relevant discussion page(s) explicitly specified by the unblocking admin. The users are effectively banned from editing any other pages, and breaching this ban will be sanctioned appropriately. When the discussion concludes, the block should be reinstated unless there is a consensus to overturn the block.
Administrators may, with the agreement of the blocked user, impose conditions when unblocking. Unblock conditions are designed to prevent recurrence of the behaviour that led to the block (such as a page ban to prevent further edit warring).
Partial blocks may be used at the discretion of any administrator in accord with the rest of the blocking policy, or community consensus. They may also be used to enforce editing restrictions or as a requirement for conditional unblocks.
GlobalBlocking is a MediaWiki extension available to stewards to prevent cross-wiki disruption from an IP address or a range of IP addresses. When an IP address or range of IP addresses is globally blocked, they are prevented from editing any public Wikimedia wiki, except for Meta-Wiki, where globally blocked users may appeal the decision. (A global block is not the same as a global ban.) When a user's editing is prevented by a global block, the contents of MediaWiki:Globalblocking-ipblocked (formerly MediaWiki:Globalblocking-blocked) are shown as an error message (analogous to MediaWiki:Blockedtext for locally blocked users). Registered users cannot be globally blocked. The analogous action is global locking, which prevents anyone from logging into the account.
A current list of globally blocked IP addresses is available at Special:GlobalBlockList.
Local whitelisting — An IP address which is globally blocked can be unblocked locally (to edit the specific wiki concerned only), by any local administrator, at Special:GlobalBlockWhitelist. It is not possible to override global locks locally.
Appeal against a global block — Globally blocked IP addresses and globally locked users may appeal through the email queue to stewardswikimedia.org. Globally blocked IP addresses may also appeal through their meta talk page, if their access to meta talk page have not been revoked.