Wikipedia:AOL

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 There were historically many problems with AOL's proxy management system. Users rapidly cycled through thousands of IP addresses, making them virtually immune to MediaWiki's IP-based block methods. To make things worse, there were so many legitimate users operating from AOL that blocking all AOL IP addresses was impractical.

The solution came in late 2006, when AOL agreed to send X-Forwarded-For headers, which identified AOL users' home IP addresses and made it possible to block users directly, bypassing AOL's proxy system. This page is no longer relevant due to this agreement.


IMPORTANT: To have an autoblock on you lifted please follow these instructions.
AOL proxy server IP Ranges
64.12.96.0/19 64.12.96.0 – 64.12.127.255
149.174.160.0/20 149.174.160.0 – 149.174.175.255
152.163.0.0/16 152.163.0.0 – 152.163.255.255
195.93.0.0/17 195.93.0.0 – 195.93.127.255
198.81.0.0/19 198.81.0.0 – 198.81.31.255
202.67.64.128/25 202.67.64.128 – 202.67.64.255
205.188.0.0/16 205.188.0.0 – 205.188.255.255
207.200.112.0/21 207.200.112.0 – 207.200.119.255
See AOL Webmaster Info page for source data

Abusive users from America Online (AOL) can be difficult to deal with. This page explains solutions to AOL users, and provides information on dealing with malicious users operating from AOL's anonymising proxy servers.

Why are AOL users often blocked?[edit]

MediaWiki, the software that Wikipedia runs on, identifies users either by a Wikipedia account username, or by your computer's allocated IP address. Unregistered users, who have no real username are identified by their IP address alone.

When you access Wikipedia from AOL, a proxy server (with its own IP address) retrieves and sends data to Wikipedia's servers on your behalf rather than your computer doing so directly. However, an AOL user editing Wikipedia without an account cannot be uniquely identified as their IP address is shared with hundreds or thousands of other AOL users in their local area since any edits made by them to Wikipedia all appear to originate from the same proxy server. AOL has also configured their proxy servers in such a way that a single user may have their edits to Wikipedia rotated through a pool of proxy servers each time they try to edit a different page. AOL users on dial-up are also allocated a different IP address each time they connect. These factors all make it nearly impossible for us to block a single vandal without causing some "collateral damage" by inadvertently affecting innocent users.

In order to stop an ongoing vandalism spree from AOL, it is often necessary to block not just one proxy, but an entire range of them. Since neither our software nor our administrators can easily distinguish an innocent user from an anonymous vandal, we strongly encourage you to create an account. This gives you your own contribution history, which administrators can use to determine if you are a trustworthy user.

MediaWiki also has a feature known as the autoblocker. If a registered user tries to edit Wikipedia while their username is blocked, the IP address they tried to edit from is automatically blocked for up to 24 hours. This is intended to stop a blocked user from logging out and continuing to edit anonymously or using a different account. Because edits made by an AOL user come from multiple proxies, a single AOL user persistently trying to edit while blocked can cause many AOL proxies to be autoblocked.

Solutions[edit]

Bypass AOL's proxy system[edit]

The easiest solution to avoid being blocked from editing Wikipedia while using AOL is to bypass their proxy system altogether. By connecting to the Wikipedia servers directly, the IP address that Wikipedia's server will see is your own, rather than that of a proxy server which has been temporarily blocked to prevent further vandalism.

Create an account[edit]

Blocks on AOL proxy servers are set to "anonymous only" (sometimes abbreviated as "AO" or "AB") meaning only registered users who have logged in can edit from this IP address. If you are currently blocked from creating an account, we suggest the following:

  • Try again after the block on your IP address expires. Go to my contributions and follow the Block log link at the top of the page to find the length of the block. AOL proxy blocks are usually set in increments of 15 minutes depending on the persistence of any vandalism.
  • Create an account at school or your workplace and then log in at home or vice versa.
  • Ask a trusted friend on a different network to create an account for you.
  • Use the account sign-up page on Wikimedia's secure server here to bypass AOL's proxy servers.

See Why create an account? for a full list of benefits that come with registration.

Autoblocked[edit]

If you have already logged into an account and your block message reads "Autoblocked because your IP address has been recently used by" followed by a username, or your block log (check via the Block log link at the top of your "my contributions" page) does not list any current blocks, then you have been autoblocked. Please go back to your blocked page and follow the instructions under the Autoblocked? section or alternatively here.


Dealing with malicious AOL users[edit]

The following section is intended for administrators and those cleaning up vandalism.

Determining if a vandal is from AOL[edit]

AOL users come from a limited number of IP ranges, either through a dynamically assigned IP address, or (more usually) via AOL's proxy server farm. These address ranges are documented by AOL, and shown in the table to the right, which is periodically updated from the authoritative information maintained by AOL.

Note that not all AOL addresses are proxy server addresses: AOL dynamically assigned IP addresses can be treated like any other dynamically allocated IP address. See the table for the different ranges used by the two different classes of IP address.

Contacting AOL's abuse department[edit]

According to Wikipedia:ISP contact information, the main abuse contact address for AOL is via email to TOSgeneral@aol.com. The Network Abuse Clearinghouse is a good resource for finding abuse contact details for AOL and ISPs in general. AOL has a "TOS policy" whereby it states will take action against users violating its terms of service, up to and including removing their AOL accounts, if necessary. In the past AOL has not acted on complaints regarding vandalism of Wikipedia by AOL users.

Blocking AOL users[edit]

For information on blocking IP addresses in the dynamic ranges (not shown in the table above), see Wikipedia:Blocking IP addresses.

A user from an AOL proxy address will change address too rapidly to make individual blocks useful, and a large number of AOL users can share a single AOL proxy server. Blocking such an IP can affect a very large number of innocent users without having any effect on the intended user. The most effective tactic is to block the entire range, since users will only change to addresses within the same range. Please be sure to check "Block anonymous users only".

Generally, try to keep the block as short as possible to prevent collateral damage. If you block an account coming from AOL, the autoblocker will block the associating IP address for 24 hours or the remainder of the block (whichever is shorter) when it attempts to make an edit.

Recent developments[edit]

July 2006[edit]

On 2006-07-12, America Online told the Wikimedia Foundation that it will send X-Forwarded-For headers for traffic to Wikimedia sites (see "[WikiEN-l] Should we block unregistered AOL users?"). The XFF headers contain the originating IP of the individual user, which does not change, so they will no longer be identified by the proxy server they operate through and we can block individual AOL user accounts. This page will be largely deprecated once the AOL proxies are added to the XFF list and the system is known to be working properly.

November 2006[edit]

AOL has recently made its OpenRide browser software available for use by the general public including non-AOL customers. Unfortunately, OpenRide is currently configured to use AOL's proxy system and has effectively turned sections of the AOL proxy system into easily accessible open proxies. Due to the potential for abuse posed by this and in line with the "No open proxies" policy, the IP ranges

have been indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia as of 2006-11-18. Blocked AOL users in the above ranges will see the template {{AOLblock}} as their block reason.

December 2006[edit]

As XFF headers are now provided, the following ranges:

No longer exist, all AOL users are given a regular dynamic/traceable IPs within the 172.128.0.0 - 172.191.255.255 range, and can be blocked as needed, as these IPs are no longer shared by multiple users.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

AOL[edit]