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Preventative measures used to deal with violations of Wikipedia policies and guidelines should follow the SMART principles. Let us add that in the long run, your success on Wikipedia is based on building a positive reputation or "rep". As such, they should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Appropriate
  • Relevant
  • Timely and Timed.

Ideally, they should also include the following qualities of being:

  • Re-evaluable
  • Educational
  • Preventative

By ensuring that all sanctions have these SMART properties, many problem editors - and even new editors - may become better aware of how to edit in the community, and become better overall editors.



There is nothing more confusing and possibly harmful than "grey areas". This includes the reason for the sanction as well as the sanction itself. Not only do grey areas give the sanctioned editor the ability to "wikilawyer their way out", it prevents others from being able to enforce the sanction as intended.


Wikipedia tracks things: edits, name it. A preventative measure must include something that can be tracked and measured during the period that it is in place. This also allows the subject to understand their progress and determine, objectively, if the actions they are taking are appropriate.


Do not go overboard.


Although administrative actions are not punishment, the old adage "let the punishment fit the crime" applies: any sanctions must be related to the infraction. The possible sanctions on Wikipedia are few but they can be misapplied, be careful.


In most cases there is no sense in issuing a sanction long after the event(s). A little warning saying "hey, I saw that" might be good, but other than watching the editor a little more closely, it would be akin to swatting your dog with a newspaper a full week after he peed on your kitchen floor.


Bad editors can become good editors. Disruptive editors may see the error of their ways. An 8 year old with a Webkins fetish may eventually become an expert on Black Holes. As such, sanctions should be only of sufficient length to assist the editor in "coming around" to the Wikipedia Way.


Not only should the sanction be able to be explained to and upheld by others, it should also be revisited if the sanctioned editor has honestly and realistically expressed a complete understanding of their actions, and have turned around their editing.


The goal of any sanction is to prevent disruption, and educate the editor in question. Therefore, any sanction should be coupled with a simple and lucid description of why, and how to do better next time.


The goal of user sanctions is to prevent current and future damage to the project, and not to punish an editor