Wikipedia:Community discretionary sanctions

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This is a proposal to introduce a new policy on the Arbitration Committee's request. For a fuller explanation, see the talk page.
For existing Arbitration Committee decisions providing for discretionary sanctions, see WP:SANCTIONS.


It has already been longstanding practice that any uninvolved administrator may enforce discretionary sanctions on articles and in topic areas that are authorized by the arbitration committee. Examples of such topic areas may be seen at Wikipedia:General sanctions, and specific examples of discretionary sanctions that have been placed, may be seen in the logs of such pages as WP:ARBPIA (Palestine-Israel topic area) and WP:DIGWUREN (Eastern Europe topic area) . Typical sanctions are usually things such as temporary revert restrictions, temporarily banning an editor from a particular article or set of articles, or in extreme cases, banning an editor from an entire topic area for a period of up to one year.

Discretionary sanctions have worked well, in some of the more contentious areas on Wikipedia. However, there are many other problematic editing areas on Wikipedia which might benefit from such discretionary sanctions, but administrators' hands are often tied, since the affected articles do not fall specifically within the scope of an existing ArbCom case. Thus, even in cases where an uninvolved administrator may see an obvious way to address a situation, they are prevented from taking direct action unless they can show a "community consensus". However, community attention in some problematic areas is often lacking, making consensus difficult to determine, since the primary participants in a discussion will often be those editors who are already involved in the dispute, making it difficult to determine which opinions are coming from those who are genuinely uninvolved.


The purpose of this new proposal is to explore the creation of a policy whereby uninvolved administrators may impose discretionary sanctions, even if dealing with an editor or article that is not within the scope of an Arbitration Committee ruling providing for such sanctions.

Proposed policy[edit]

Any uninvolved administrator may, on his or her own discretion, impose sanctions on any editor if that editor repeatedly or seriously fails to adhere to the purpose of Wikipedia, any expected standards of behavior, or any normal editorial process, despite being warned against this specific behavior.

The sanctions imposed may include:

  • Temporary bans from editing any page or set of pages within a topic area
  • Temporary bans from editing related to a topic or its closely related topics
  • Temporary restrictions on reverts or other specified behaviors
  • Any other measures which the imposing administrator believes are reasonably necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the project.

This policy applies only to sanctions that are not blocks. Blocks are imposed and lifted according to the blocking policy.


Prior to any discretionary sanctions being imposed, the editor in question must be given at least one clear warning on their talkpage. The warning must:

  • Be given by an uninvolved administrator
  • Include a link to this policy
  • Specifically explain, with diffs, why the editor's conduct is deemed problematic
  • Give advice on specific steps that the editor can take to improve his or her editing in accordance with relevant policies and guidelines
  • Clearly spell out potential consequences, if the editor does not modify their behavior

Though only one minimum warning is absolutely necessary, administrators are still encouraged to adopt a gradually escalating series of warnings. This ensures that an editor is given every opportunity to voluntarily moderate their own behavior, such that sanctions will not be necessary.

Editors wishing to edit in highly disputed areas are advised to edit carefully, to adopt Wikipedia's communal approaches (including appropriate conduct, dispute resolution, neutral point of view, no original research and verifiability) in their editing, and to amend behaviors that are deemed to be of concern by administrators. An editor unable or unwilling to do so may wish to restrict their editing to other topics, in order to avoid sanctions.


If the warning remains unheeded, an uninvolved administrator may issue discretionary sanctions as described above. Where possible, it may be best for an administrator other than the one who issued the warning to actually issue the discretionary sanctions, though if no other administrator is immediately available, the sanction may be issued by the warning administrator. If there is any disagreement among administrators as to which types of sanctions should be placed, or whether sanctions should be placed at all, it is best to err on the side of minimal or no sanctions. Where disagreements occur, administrators are expected to engage in polite and collegial discussion to determine consensus on how to proceed.

Sanctions should always be the minimum necessary, only as broad as is needed to prevent the disruptive conduct that the editor was warned against, but wide enough to allow all sanctions to be easily understood and enforced without ambiguity.

In determining whether to impose sanctions on a given user and which sanctions to impose, administrators should use their judgment to balance the need to assume good faith, accomodate genuinely inexperienced editors, and allow responsible contributors maximum freedom to edit against the need to reduce edit-warring and misuse of Wikipedia as a battleground, so as to create an acceptable collaborative editing environment even on our most contentious articles.


Option #1:

  • Warnings and any corresponding discretionary sanctions are logged by the imposing administrator on a fully protected page in the sanctioned user's userspace, User:Username/Sanctions log. The template {{Sanctions log header}} may be used to set the page up.

Option #2:


In the event of violation of a sanction, for example if an editor is temporarily banned from editing an article, but ignores the sanction and edits the article anyway, discretionary sanctions may be enforced with blocks, normally escalating in duration for repeated violations. Such blocks may be imposed by the sanctioning or any other uninvolved administrator. Violations may also be grounds for sanctions to be extended in duration or scope.


Administrators are cautioned not to reverse sanctions without familiarizing themselves with the full facts of the matter and engaging in extensive discussion and consensus-building at the administrators' noticeboard or another suitable on-wiki venue.

Discretionary sanctions may be appealed to the imposing administrator or to the appropriate administrators' noticeboard, Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. After an appropriate time for discussion, normally no less than 36 hours, another uninvolved administrator will close the discussion and either uphold, modify, or reverse the sanction according to community consensus.

Any objections to the closure of an appeal are treated as a new appeal.

Uninvolved administrators[edit]

For the purpose of imposing sanctions under this policy, an administrator will be considered "uninvolved" if he or she is not engaged in a current, direct, conflict on the topic or in a personal conflict with the user receiving sanctions. Any doubt regarding whether an administrator qualifies under this definition is treated as any other appeal of sanctions.

See also[edit]