Wikipedia:Guide to appealing blocks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a guide to making unblock requests.

Users may be blocked from editing by Wikipedia administrators to prevent damage or disruption to Wikipedia. Blocks are lifted if they are not (or no longer) necessary to prevent such damage or disruption.

You, as a blocked editor, are responsible for convincing administrators:

  • that the block is in fact not necessary to prevent damage or disruption (i.e., that the block violates our blocking policy); or:
  • that the block is no longer necessary because you understand what you are blocked for, you will not do it again, and you will make productive contributions instead; or:
  • that your conduct (under any account or IP address) is not connected in any way with the block (this can happen if a block is aimed at resolving a separate situation and you are unintentionally blocked as a result because you use the same IP range).

It also helps to clearly state your reasons for requesting an unblock because:

  • If the background or reason isn't clear, your request may be declined out of hand.
  • In complicated situations, the reviewing administrator may not want to spend a long time reading your whole talk page and all of your contributions. Information and evidence not in your unblock request may not be read.
  • If you make repeated invalid or offensive unblock requests, your talk page access may be revoked which makes it even more difficult to request unblocking.

To make an unblock request, copy the following text to the bottom of your user talk page: {{unblock|1=Insert your reason to be unblocked here}}. Don't forget to insert your own reason to replace "Insert your reason to be unblocked here". We will discuss its composition below. If you find that you cannot edit your talk page, fill out the form at the Unblock Ticket Request System.

More technical and procedural guidance can be found at Wikipedia:Appealing a block.

Before you request unblock

It's important that you understand the reasons why the administrator blocked you before starting an unblock request. A block is not intended as punishment; it's meant to prevent you from making disruptive edits, either in good faith or as vandalism.

Don't ask questions within your unblock request; that's reserved to explain why you will not be a problem to the project, not to request clarifications about policy. Before requesting to be unblocked, you can ask the administrators that blocked you any clarification about their actions, and they're expected to answer them, though first you have to read the policies they have linked as the reason for the block. If you need to attract the attention of an administrator, you can write {{ping|UserName}} in your comment and they will get a notice.

What happens when you request unblock

It may help with your unblock request if you understand how they are reviewed, and by whom.

  • After you save the unblock request to your talk page, it is automatically placed in a category for administrator attention. Many administrators routinely check this category. Any of them may read your request, and decide to take action on it, or leave it for another administrator to look at. There are over a thousand administrators, so if any one doesn't want to look at your request another administrator will. Any review will be carried out by another administrator (not the one who blocked you).
  • An administrator reviewing your request will most likely look over several logs - for example, your contributions, comments by others, and past issues, warnings or blocks if any - to get an idea what happened and whether they think the block was merited. These logs, with the exception of deleted contributions, are viewable by any user. They will look carefully at the reasons given for the block and the unblock request, and the policies that back them. The aim in each case is to reduce disruption, damage, and similar issues from affecting Wikipedia.
  • They may, if they choose, leave a note for the blocking admin if they feel they need more information and put your request on hold. If they are considering unblock, administrative etiquette requires they inform the blocking admin and allow an opportunity to comment.
  • Often you will find more than one user commenting on your block, or a mini-discussion happening. The administrator who blocked you may contribute, but any decision will be made by the reviewing administrator who takes all points made into account.
  • If your request is accepted, they will leave a templated response on your talk page and unblock. If it is declined, they will give their reasons in an edit to the request template.

Composing your request to be unblocked

Shortcut:

Try to make it as easy as possible for the reviewing administrator to see why your block is not or no longer needed. Be clear, using easily readable English. Administrators are volunteers, and may have limited time or patience for trying to find out what you mean to say.

Understand what you did and why you have been blocked

To effectively contest your block, you must understand the reason for it. Also, if the reviewing administrator concludes that the block was justified, you will not be unblocked unless the reviewing administrator is convinced that you understand what you are blocked for, and that you will not do it again.

You are informed about the block reason in two ways. First, the blocking administrator provides a brief reason that you will see when you try to make an edit. Second, the administrator may leave a message explaining your block on your user talk page. These messages should include the names or abbreviations of those of our site rules (the "policies and guidelines") that the blocking administrator believes you have violated.

Before you make an unblock request, you should attentively read the policies and guidelines named in your block reason. They are usually one or more from among the following: vandalism, sockpuppetry, edit warring, violating the three-revert rule, spamming, editing with a conflict of interest or having a prohibited username. You should also review the blocking policy. If you have read these pages and don't understand, then a first step might be to request a clearer explanation. Attempts to work with others and understand their concerns will be seen positively.

Give a good reason for your unblock

As a user requesting to be unblocked, it is your responsibility to explain why you believe your block violates Wikipedia's blocking policy or should otherwise be reversed. Specifically:

  1. State your reason for believing your block was incorrect or for requesting reconsideration. It is not enough if you just say that the block was "wrong" or "unfair", or another user violated a policy first. You must explain why it was wrong to block you, or why it should be reversed.
  2. Address the blocking administrator's concerns about your conduct (the reason given for your block). As explained above, you have been informed about the reason for your block. You must address this reason in your request. This means that you must either explain why the block reason is incorrect or not applicable to your conduct, or you must convince the reviewing administrator that you won't do it again.
  3. Give evidence. If you state that you did or did not do something, or that the blocking administrator is missing something important, please provide brief details and a link in the form of a differential edit ("diff") if possible, or other evidence showing that you don't (or didn't) do what the block reasons states.

Stick to the point

  1. Be brief.
  2. Stay calm. The use of profanities, ramblings, ALL CAPS SCREAMING and personal attacks will lead to the decline of your unblock request without further review of your edit history. The block duration may also be extended.
  3. Provide key information briefly. If a mistake has happened, show actual evidence or explain it (briefly). Don't make vague claims that cannot be checked, or allege conspiracies or bad faith unless there is clear good-quality evidence in the form of diffs.
  4. Focus on the concerns of the blocking admin and the situation going forward. Show that you understand the blocking administrator's concern and what he/she wants you to do better. Blocks happen because the community has to prevent certain behaviors, and we want you to understand some things matter to us. If you show willingness to appreciate our concerns, discuss the incident in good faith, genuinely learn from mistakes, and show you can keep to the spirit of community policies, often that is all that's needed. If the community still doesn't agree and the block isn't lifted, you will be seen positively when it's over for showing maturity, accepting the outcome, and showing that you are willing to abide by consensus.

Do not make legal threats and do not resort to coercion

You are blocked because of concerns about actions that are a problem. Responding by threats or attempts that show gross lack of understanding makes it worse; it suggests you will not learn in the future.

  1. Don't treat your unblock request like a legal proceeding. As explained here, a ban or block is a revocation or suspension of your privilege to edit this privately owned website. Any legal right you may have to freedom of speech does not prevent us from enacting and enforcing our own policies and guidelines. In order to prevent abuse, we may also check your IP address and other accounts using it.
  2. Don't threaten or imply legal action. Making a legal threat to get your way will almost always result in an immediate indefinite block since it conflicts with the principle of respecting consensus decisions, and also to prevent escalation happening here. Just don't go there: If your concern is valid, other channels are sufficient to address it; if not, then no channel will be sufficient.
  3. Do not offer to make a donation to Wikipedia to get unblocked (or, for that matter, to stop donating to Wikipedia unless you're unblocked). While the Wikimedia Foundation will certainly appreciate any donations, making one will not in any way impact your chances of being unblocked. The administrators reviewing your block are pure volunteers and do not work for the Foundation. They decide appeals based on concerns about behavior that may disrupt editorial activities; they are completely unaffected by whether or not you will donate. In any event, such an attempt amounts to an attempt at bribery and tends to confirm that you still do not understand why your behavior is a problem – a much more serious concern.
  4. Do not threaten or imply retaliation. It will not help you in the slightest but rather will lead only to a more comprehensive block or an escalation to a ban.

Talk about yourself, not others

Shortcut:

You are blocked because of what you did, not because of what others did. For this reason:

  1. Do not complain about other people, such as editors you may have been in a conflict with, or the blocking administrator. Disagreements with others should be addressed through dispute resolution after you are unblocked, but your unblock request is not the place for this. The only thing that your unblock request needs to address is why you did not in fact disrupt Wikipedia or why you will no longer do so. Unblock requests that contain personal attacks or incivility against others will be declined and may lead to being blocked from your talk page.
  2. Do not excuse what you did with what others did. Two wrongs do not make a right. An unblock request that just asks administrators to block another editor will be declined.
  3. Assume good faith towards others, and assume others have assumed (and will assume) good faith towards you. The other editors who may have reported you, and the administrator who blocked you, and everybody involved, are not part of a diabolical conspiracy against someone half a world away they've never met in person, and an unblock request that presumes they are will probably not be accepted. The blocking administrator will have tried to assume good faith on your part, as did any administrator who had reviewed previous requests, and the administrator who will review your current request. There is not much need to remind administrators to assume good faith, or to accuse administrators of failure to do so.

Agree to follow Wikipedia community customs

If you are blocked for something you did wrong, and especially if you are blocked for a long time, you are more likely to be unblocked if you:

  1. Admit to it. All your contributions to Wikipedia are logged. There is no point in denying something that you did do (or that other editors examining the record agree it is very likely that you did), because your edits can and will be checked.
  2. Make people trust you again. Promise, credibly, that you will stop doing whatever got you blocked. Earn back our trust by proposing improvements to articles or proposing firm steps you will take so the issue cannot happen again.
  3. Don't do it again. If you were blocked for an offensive statement or legal threat, do not repeat it in your unblock request. Even if you feel that your conduct did not deserve a block, evidently at least one administrator disagrees with you on that point. Assume that the reviewing administrator will agree with the block, and write your request in a way that cannot give further offense.
  4. Tell us why you are here. Say how you intend to help contribute to the encyclopedia after you are unblocked. See here for some ideas about what you could do.

If unsatisfied despite everything

In most cases, if others disagree with your request then it's best to accept it. Rarely, a situation may have become so heated or words exchanged, or there may be a genuine reason to worry that the blocking admin has misunderstood or is being extremely unfair. Do not "rant", "flame" or attack others even if you feel attacked yourself. It is the worst thing you can do.

If you have good cause for worrying, it is far better to check you have briefly and calmly made clear your concern and any evidence, and just ask for other independent opinions. Administrators asked to independently review a matter will come to it fresh - often more than one will respond - and may be able to explain or help. They will also consider whether or not the blocking admin appears to have acted reasonably, and what they think has to happen. If they disagree with you, then this can be useful reassurance that the initial view was not unreasonable.

Examples of bad unblock requests

Shortcut:

Requests such as these are likely to be denied. If made repeatedly, they may lead to your block being extended or removal of talk page access by either a change of block settings or your talk page being protected from editing.

Special situations

Blocks directed at you, as an editor

Arbitration enforcement blocks

Shortcut:

Special rules apply to users who have been blocked because they violated an Arbitration Committee decision, or restrictions imposed on them (such as discretionary sanctions) by administrators in accordance with an Arbitration Committee decision.

Appeals by sanctioned editors

Appeals may be made only by the editor under sanction and only for a currently active sanction. The process has three possible stages (see "Important notes" below). The editor may:

  1. ask the enforcing administrator to reconsider their original decision;
  2. request review at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard ("AE") or at the administrators’ noticeboard ("AN"); and
  3. submit a request for amendment at "ARCA". If the editor is blocked, the appeal may be made by email through Special:EmailUser/Arbitration Committee (or, if email access is revoked, to arbcom-l@lists.wikimedia.org).
Modifications by administrators

No administrator may modify a sanction placed by another administrator without:

  1. the explicit prior affirmative consent of the enforcing administrator; or
  2. prior affirmative agreement for the modification at (a) AE or (b) AN or (c) ARCA (see "Important notes" below).

Administrators modifying sanctions out of process may, at the discretion of the committee, be desysopped.

Nothing in this section prevents an administrator from replacing an existing sanction issued by another administrator with a new sanction if fresh misconduct has taken place after the existing sanction was applied.

Important notes:

  1. For a request to succeed, either
(i) the clear and substantial consensus of (a) uninvolved administrators at AE or (b) uninvolved editors at AN or
(ii) a passing motion of arbitrators at ARCA
is required. If consensus at AE or AN is unclear, the status quo prevails.
  1. While asking the enforcing administrator and seeking reviews at AN or AE are not mandatory prior to seeking a decision from the committee, once the committee has reviewed a request, further substantive review at any forum is barred. The sole exception is editors under an active sanction who may still request an easing or removal of the sanction on the grounds that said sanction is no longer needed, but such requests may only be made once every six months, or whatever longer period the committee may specify.
  2. These provisions apply only to discretionary sanctions placed by administrators and to blocks placed by administrators to enforce arbitration case decisions. They do not apply to sanctions directly authorised by the committee, and enacted either by arbitrators or by arbitration clerks, or to special functionary blocks of whatever nature.

— Arbitration Committee, Standard provision for appeals and modifications

A reviewing administrator acting alone, therefore, is not allowed to undo another administrator's arbitration enforcement block. (This does not preclude the blocking administrator from accepting an unblock request from the blocked editor.)

To request that such a block be lifted, you may:

  • Address your appeal to the blocking administrator either on your talk page or by email (using the "Email this user" function on their talk page).
  • Address your appeal to either the arbitration enforcement noticeboard or the administrators' noticeboard by using the {{unblock}} template, asking the reviewing administrator to initiate a community discussion. You should prepare the appeal in the form provided by the template {{Arbitration enforcement appeal}} on your talk page, below the unblock request, so that the reviewing administrator may simply copy it to the appropriate community forum.
  • Address your appeal to the Arbitration Committee by sending an email to Special:EmailUser/Arbitration Committee (or, if email access is revoked, to arbcom-l@lists.wikimedia.org).

Banned users

Banned users, too, have special rules for their appeals. Those banned by Jimbo Wales must appeal either to him or the Arbitration Committee. Users banned by the Arbitration Committee must appeal to the Committee (normally by sending email to arbcom-appeals-en@lists.wikimedia.org.) Users banned by the community are normally unbanned only after a community discussion at the administrators' noticeboard determines whether there is consensus to lift the ban.

Please note that while most Arbitration Committee decisions ban users for a year at most, the community may decide on its own to extend the ban to indefinite after it expires.

Compromised accounts

Shortcuts:

If you state in your request that the edits which led to your block were made by someone else (for example, your little brother) who accessed your account without your knowledge or permission, we will have to leave it blocked. You may have changed the password, but unless they've met you at a meetup or otherwise know you personally, administrators have no way of knowing that you are indeed back in control of your account. (And even if you meet someone in person, without seeing some strong evidence like a passport, how can you prove they are who they claim to be?)

For this reason, if your account is blocked as compromised, do not make unblock requests unless you can demonstrate that you have regained control of your account. Instead:

  • Create a new account and make sure to choose a strong password. If an autoblock prevents you from doing that, use a computer in a different location (that is, with a different IP address).
  • With your first edits, clearly identify the new account as a successor account of the blocked account, for example by adding the code {{User Previous Acct|1=Old Username}} to the user page of the new account (replace "Old Username" with the username of the blocked account). If you do not do this, your new account may be blocked as an abuse of multiple accounts.
  • Follow the advice in Wikipedia:Personal security practices to prevent your new account from becoming compromised again.

If you create a new account while you are blocked not only because your old account is compromised, but also for other reasons, your new account will likely also be blocked to prevent you from evading the block of your old account. In this case, you will need to request to be unblocked with your new account and address the other reasons for which your old account was blocked.

Sockpuppetry blocks

Accusations of sockpuppetry result in many blocks and almost as many unblock requests, as Wikipedia policy calls for the sockpuppet account to be blocked indefinitely and the sockpuppeteer to be blocked for some length of time (possibly also indefinitely). Users confirmed or believed to have engaged in the practice must request unblock at their main account. Meatpuppets will be blocked indefinitely, too ... don't edit on behalf of someone else, no matter how well you may know them.

Reviewing admins will usually defer to the blocking admin in a sockpuppetry-based block, especially if the sock account has minimal edits. Even without the use of the Checkuser tool, or with a result of "unrelated", an account that makes the same edits as a different blocked account, has the same linguistic peculiarities and the same general interests may remain blocked under the "quacks like a duck" test.

Wikipedia admins can never be absolutely sure about sockpuppetry, and the most abusive users can be very devious in attempting to evade detection. If you are improperly blocked for sockpuppetry, you should realize that it may not always be easy or even possible to correct the situation.

If you actually are guilty of sockpuppetry, and want to get a second chance at editing, please do as follows:

  1. Refrain from making any edits, using any account or anonymously, for a significant period of time (e.g. six months).
  2. Make the unblock request from your original account. Sockpuppeteers aren't often unblocked—since they've acted dishonestly, it's hard to believe them—and the administrators certainly aren't going to unblock the sockpuppet account.

Checkuser and Oversight blocks

A small number of administrators also known as functionaries have access to additional technical tools. The CheckUser tool may be used in special circumstances to determine whether multiple accounts or IP addresses are used by the same person. The Arbitration Committee has explained the procedure to be followed with respect to the review of blocks based on CheckUser data as follows:

Do not make an unblock request that includes a request for checkuser to "prove your innocence" ... as indicated at Sockpuppet investigations those are so rarely done that you're better off not asking (besides, it is difficult to use it to prove that two editors are different people). Most administrators consider such an unblock request a sure sign of a sock account (particularly one with very few edits otherwise) and will decline on that basis.

A similar situation applies to blocks relating to Oversight. If your block relates to Oversight issues, then it concerns edits or log actions you have made which had to be suppressed. This is an extreme form of deletion used for removing potentially defamatory material, serious copyright violations, and non-public personal information including but not limited to addresses, phone numbers, or identities of pseudonymous or anonymous individuals who have not made their identity public. Suppressed edits and log entries can only be viewed by Oversighters, and like CheckUser-based blocks, Oversight blocks can also neither be reviewed on-wiki or on unblock-l for similar privacy related reasons, nor be reviewed by most administrators.

Edit warring blocks, including "Three-revert rule" blocks and others

Many established users who request unblock do so because they have been blocked for edit warring. They often post lengthy explanations, with many linked diffs, of why they did not actually violate the three-revert rule. If this is what you intend to do, be advised that such unblock requests often take longer to review than others. Given that many edit warring blocks are for a short duration (36 hours or less), long and detailed unblock requests will often go unanswered or will take so long to investigate that the block will expire on its own. Also, be aware that 3RR is seen as an "electric fence" and that with VERY few exceptions (such as reverts of patent nonsense/vandalism or of egregious libel violations) most admins see any violation of the three-revert rule as justifiably blockable. Being "right" is not an exception to the three-revert rule, and claiming that your version is the "better" version is not a reason that will get you unblocked.

Also, be aware that there are many situations in which it is possible to be blocked for edit warring even if you did not break the "three revert rule". For example, if you have made the same revert a large number of times over a long period, you may be blocked even if there was never a period of 24 hours in which you made four reverts. Also, any sequence of edits that violates the "spirit", if not the "letter", of the three-revert rule are just as worthy of a block. Intentionally gaming the system by waiting 24 hours before your fourth revert, or subtly changing your version each time so it is not a perfect revert, or otherwise edit warring over the article is seen to be editing in bad faith, and your block is unlikely to be lifted in these cases, even if you did not revert more than three times in 24 hours.

"Bad username" blocks

Accounts with usernames that do not conform to the username policy are often blocked indefinitely, regardless of their editing behavior. Most commonly this is because of a name that wholly or closely matches the subject of an article or a link added as spam or otherwise in violation of the external links policy.

Most such accounts are soft-blocked, meaning a new account may be created while the old one is blocked. This is done because it is the account name, not the behavior of the person behind it, which is the problem. While it is possible to request a change in username, this takes a little longer and requires that a user with bureaucrat access do so. Whichever method you choose, it is a good idea to have some review of the proposed new username first, to avoid ending up in the same quandary.

An account with a username that uses hateful or obscene language or otherwise indicates disruptive or provocative intent will be hard blocked, meaning that an unblock request will be required.

Advertising-only accounts

Shortcut:

Accounts that seem to exist only to promote somebody or something ("spamming") are normally indefinitely blocked, because Wikipedia may not be used for promotional purposes. Such promotion may include posting articles that read like advertisements or inserting inappropriate links to other websites.

As an advertising-only account, you will not be unblocked unless you indicate that you will stop your promotional activities. In addition, you must convince administrators that you intend to make constructive contributions to Wikipedia that are unrelated to the subject of your promotion if unblocked. To do so, your unblock request should include specific examples of productive edits that you would like to make.

Blocks directed at a problem generally ("collateral damage")

A number of blocks exist because they are preventing abuse from a given source, such as a proxy server or a particular ISP used by many people. In such cases some users will be responsible for the problem; others may be unavoidably blocked by the solution.

An administrator or checkuser will investigate and consider whether it is likely this has happened.

Open proxy blocks

Wikipedia policy on open proxies is clear: editing through them is blocked without exception once identified. While some users can use them to circumvent censorship or filters, they have been used far too many times by far too many blocked vandals for Wikipedians to assume good faith on their part. This includes Tor nodes. If your server has been blocked as an open proxy, you will probably need to edit via another connection: in most cases, proxies are "hard blocked", which prevents even logged-in users from using the connection to edit.

The only way such a block can be lifted is if it can be determined that it is no longer an open proxy, or was erroneously identified as one. If you believe this to be the case, say so in your unblock request and the administrator will refer it to the open proxies project, where verified users can determine if it is indeed an open proxy.

Shared IP blocks/Range blocks

Occasionally readers who have never or rarely edited before, or not from that location, with no intention of registering an account, click on edit only to find that editing from their IP address is blocked, for something they didn't do. If you are here because this happened to you, there are two possibilities.

  • Range block. Wikipedia administrators can choose to block a range of IP addresses rather than just a single one. This is done if a vandal, sockpuppeteer or otherwise disruptive user has taken advantage of dynamic IP or other situation (such as some LANs) where it is possible to evade blocks by hopping from IP to IP or physically moving from one terminal to another. Yes, this inconveniences many users (the longterm rangeblocks imposed on some large ranges mean that, in certain geographic areas, some users cannot edit without using a registered account). But the Wikipedia community does not take these actions lightly, and while some rangeblocks may be reduced in scope if they were imposed on too many users, it is only done if other methods of protecting the project and its users have failed.

    If you are affected by collateral damage from a long term range block, consider creating an account either from another computer or via an email request.

  • Shared IP block. This affects large institutions, most commonly schools, that route all their Internet traffic through one or two servers. Since many users can edit through them and we have no way of knowing if a vandal or disruptive user on a shared IP has been prevented from doing so again, or what security arrangements are in place on the other end, administrators are wary of unblocking shared IPs. Those that are blocked (again, primarily schools), are commonly blocked repeatedly and for long periods (up to a year at a time) for blatant vandalism. If the reviewing administrator sees that reflected in the talk page, block log and edit history, the unblock request will likely be declined.

    If you are the systems administrator at a site with a shared IP, and you can identify and take action against users whose conduct on Wikipedia led to the block, we may consider an unblock if you can prove this. Most commonly, though, the best solution for Wikipedia and users alike is to simply create a registered account and edit with it. This can be done by connecting to Wikipedia through another internet connection that is not blocked, or by making a request via the process at Wikipedia:Request an account.

See also