Wikipedia:Rough guide to semi-protection

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Semi-protection is a measure commonly used on Wikipedia to protect pages from vandalism or editing disputes. A semi-protected article can only be edited by accounts which are at least 4 days old and have made at least 10 edits (autoconfirmed users). The official policy related to applying and removing semi-protection is located at Wikipedia:Protection policy § Semi-protection. This rough guide describes how the semi-protection policy is currently being applied by administrators.

Note: Every case is different. Even if a page matches each of the § General considerations and § Criteria for semi-protection, it doesn't mean that page must be protected. Administrators may use their discretion on a case-by-case basis.

General considerations[edit]

Both an editor considering requesting semi-protection for a page at Wikipedia:Requests for page protection (WP:RFPP) and an administrator considering applying semi-protection must assess each situation individually before deciding on a course of action.

  • Is the problem vandalism or an editing dispute?
  • How much vandalism is taking place?
  • Is the vandalism from a wide range of user accounts/IP users?
  • Are any constructive edits being made to the page, especially from unregistered users?
  • Is the problem on a high-profile, widely watchlisted page?
  • Does the problem have a detrimental effect on how Wikipedia looks to the public?
  • Is the subject of the page a living person?
  • What is the quality of this article? Higher-quality articles are more damaged by vandalism than similar low-quality articles, and there's also less likelihood that a given edit will improve the article. In addition, since higher-quality articles are bigger, there is less likelihood that the article will be edited.

The template {{pp-protected}} is usually placed on protected pages to display the padlock.

Criteria for semi-protection[edit]

Articles subject to heavy and continued vandalism can be semi-protected. There are no explicit rules that determine the level of vandalism that is necessary to trigger semi-protection. Administrators should use their best judgment to determine if semi-protection is warranted. Here are some criteria that may be helpful to determine if semi-protection is appropriate:

  • All or almost all the vandalism is coming from IP addresses.
  • Unregistered editors should be making very few quality contributions to the article compared to the amount of vandalism coming from unregistered editors. The negative effects of semi-protection on discouraging positive contributions should be more of a concern than the positive effect of decreasing vandalism.
  • There are regularly many new vandals, therefore it would be a huge, unending task to notify and warn all the vandals individually.
  • According to Wikipedia:WikiProject Vandalism studies/Study1 § Conclusions, on average 5% of edits to a page are vandalism. So, 5% is the level of vandalism to be expected, and semi-protection should not be applied in this case. More than usual levels of vandalism occur when anything over 5% of edits constitute vandalism. If each vandal edit was followed by a revert, without any further edits to the page, then 50% of edits would be vandalism. More than 50% is rare, but may occur when multiple vandalism edits are reverted by a single edit, or when multiple vandals are engaged in an edit war. The higher the percentage of vandal edits, the greater the need for protection.
  • Consider a lower threshold for protection for articles on living people as vandalism is potentially more damaging in these cases.

Determining the duration for semi-protection[edit]

If semi-protection is to be tried, its first application should be for a short duration, a few hours, a few days or a week depending on the type of page being protected and the level of disruption. If vandalism continues after the protection expires, it can be re-added and for a longer duration. At some point, an administrator might determine that the semi-protection should be made indefinite. This is reserved for only the most vandalized articles, and any administrator is free to lift 'indefinite' protections or reduce them to a duration that will eventually expire.

  • Pages that are indefinitely semi-protected must have been semi-protected previously. This shows that the problem is ongoing, and that temporary semi-protection does not have a lasting effect.
  • Vandalism that resumes very shortly after semi-protection is removed demonstrates that the page is a popular target for random vandalism. Such pages are likely candidates for indefinite semi-protection.
  • If vandalism is related to a current event, the semi-protection should be lifted after the event is out of the public eye.

Shortening or removing protection[edit]

Since effective page protection stops disruption, the only way to know if protection is still needed is to see if disruption returns without the protection. For this reason, all pages that are indefinitely semi-protected can have their protection removed from time to time. The administrator should monitor the page after removing the protection.