Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/SPI/Administrators instructions

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To get involved in SPI patrolling, and how patrollers can help at SPI, see Helping at SPI.
See also: - Clerk and CheckUser SPI procedures here, opening or re-opening an SPI case here.

This page explains the most common procedures for administrators patrolling the sockpuppet investigations (SPI) pages. SPI is where users can bring concerns that an individual may be misusing accounts or IP editing in violation of sock puppetry policy, for example to breach sanctions, blocks, or agreements, to bias content and discussions, to attack other users, or to disrupt, deliberately mislead, or vandalize.

SPI is a delicate area, patrollers should keep in mind that there are legitimate uses of multiple accounts, and that improbable things can happen by chance. Unfairly blocking someone as a sockpuppet is a harm not easily undone.

Getting involved in patrolling, and how patrollers can help[edit]

For details on what patrollers can do to help at SPI, and how to get involved, and background on how SPI works, see the clerks page (WP:SPI/C), and more specifically the section of that page about patrolling and getting involved.

Decisions and case control at SPI are routinely managed by "any admin". While Checkusers add evidence, and Checkusers and Clerks may take action, any admin can make decisions on cases and their management (as with any dispute) within the norms of SPI. The more administrators patrolling, the more eyeballs SPI cases will have, the faster they are updated, and the greater the certainty that they are reviewed independently. Admin patrollers are warmly welcomed!

Useful SPI scripts and tools[edit]

  • The markblocked script, which indicates if an account has been blocked already, either for a set period of time or indefinitely.
  • Editor Interaction Analyzer, which shows the common pages that two or more editors have both edited, sorted by minimum time between edits by the users.

Opening or re-opening a case[edit]

To open an SPI case, please follow the instructions by opening the section "How to open an investigation" at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations, making sure you have read and understood the SPI case guidelines at the top of that page. For a quick CheckUser request, please follow the instructions at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations#Quick CheckUser requests, making sure you have read and understood when and when not to request CheckUser.

Taking administrative action on open cases[edit]

Any uninvolved administrator at any time may block any account that has violated the sock puppetry policy based on behavioral and/or technical evidence. Behavioral evidence consists of editing behaviors and patterns from suspected sock puppets as well as having similar usernames or IP addresses. Technical evidence consists of evidence provided by CheckUsers, in which the details are not shown to the public per the Wikimedia Foundation's privacy policy. Administrators are the primary people who hand out blocks in most SPI cases.

Non-CheckUser cases[edit]

If the patrolling administrator (or any user) feels CheckUser is appropriate and necessary they may request it; see below.
Admins often apply what is colloquially called the duck test to determine if sockpuppetry is occurring.

In usual SPI cases, where CheckUser is not requested, admins should look carefully and neutrally at the evidence and determine whether the behavioral and other evidence shown makes it very likely that sock puppetry is occurring. In many cases, sock puppetry can be determined just by behavioral evidence and without the need for technical evidence. Many admins normally apply what is colloquially called the duck testif it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

Patrolling administrators should be sure to:

  1. Check that any CheckUser-confirmed accounts have been blocked and tagged – Those accounts that have been Artículo bueno.svg confirmed by CheckUser are normally blocked, but they should be double-checked to make sure that they are. If they have not been blocked, then follow the blocking procedures found in the Blocking and tagging section.
  2. Check evidence and block/tag any sock puppet accounts – For accounts that have not been confirmed by CheckUser nor already blocked, check the behavioral evidence along with the results of the technical evidence provided by CheckUser. Make a determination as to whether sock puppetry has occurred. If so, block those violating accounts, following the procedures under the Blocking and tagging section, and make a note of the blocks under the "Clerk, patrolling admin and checkuser comments" section of the SPI case page. If evidence has not shown that sock puppetry has occurred, then likewise make a note of that in the same section. Preface all such notes using the {{Admin-note}} template. For example:
    {{Admin-note}} Foo has been indefinitely blocked, 192.168.0.1 blocked for three weeks. ~~~~

CheckUser cases[edit]

Cases endorsed for CheckUser attention are identical in every way to non-CheckUser cases, except that a CheckUser will first add the results of their technical investigation to the case, and may have already taken some actions on the spot when abuse is found, before patrolling admins review the case.

CheckUsers will have posted their results under the "Clerk, patrolling admin and checkuser comments" section. The possible templates they could use include but are not limited to in order of most likely the same editor to unlikely the same editor:

  •  Confirmed
  •  Likely
  •  Possible
  •  Unlikely
  •  Unrelated
  •  Inconclusive - in other words can't depend on the results
  • The IP addresses used by sock-puppets may also be  IP blocked.

Once Checkuser results have been added, any admin may re-assess and decide the issue.

Requesting CheckUser[edit]

If CheckUser has not been requested, you can request CheckUser assistance by changing {{SPI case status}} on the top of the page to {{SPI case status|curequest}}.

This does not guarantee that a CheckUser will run a check, but it will alert the SPI clerks and CheckUsers that a request may be needed. Normally, an SPI clerk or CheckUser will either Symbol support2 vote.svg endorse the case for CheckUser attention or Symbol unsupport2 vote.svg decline the case. Ultimately the decision is down to the responding CheckUser.

Any user can add this request to a case at any time, if appropriate. The most common reasons are:

  • The behavioral evidence is not clear, and you cannot figure out all the socks
  • There may be other hidden socks, or an unknown previous history of socking, and help is needed to find the sock-master or "sleepers"
  • The underlying IP needs blocking, or more thorough investigation is required (eg in the case of an ongoing problem, confirming suspected block or ban evasion, suspected hidden problems, or serious repeated vandalism)
(Full list)

If the case is declined, then the patrolling administrator must make that determination as to whether sock puppetry is going on and subsequently block all violating accounts. If the case is endorsed, then a CheckUser will add technical evidence and notes to the case first; this may take a while.

Closing[edit]

If the case is complete, all accounts have been looked at and any issues dealt with, and the case has run its course with no further action needing to be taken, then the clerks can be asked to review and close the matter. To request that the case be closed, change the parameter of the {{SPI case status}} template on the top of the page to close along with adding a note in the "Clerk, CheckUser, and/or patrolling admins" section, confirming the final resolution and that all accounts have been addressed. For example,


======<span style="font-size:150%"> Clerk, patrolling admin and checkuser comments </span>======
{{Admin-note}} All accounts blocked and tagged. ~~~~

----

The tagging will alert the SPI clerks and CheckUsers, who will do a final review before archiving the case.

Blocking and tagging[edit]

Follow these instructions to block sockmasters and sockpuppets.

Sockmaster (if not already blocked)[edit]

If the sockmaster has not already been blocked and tagged, then do the following:

I. Make a determination as to the length of the block – an administrator may determine the length of the block of the sockmaster, after considering the following circumstances:
  • If not blocked – make a determination as to the length of the block. The length of the block may be temporary, or it may be indefinite, depending on how much socking and/or disruption has been done.
  • If already on a temporary block when the sock puppetry has occurred – the sockmaster's block may be reset and/or be extended.
  • If already indefinitely blocked – no action is needed.
II. Block the sockmaster – Click on the "block user" link under the sockmaster's account on the SPI page. The length of the block should have been determined per Part I.
  • If the information does not fill in, select "Abusing multiple accounts" or "Block evasion" and under additional reasons link the case page.
III. Tag the sockmaster's user page – Unless otherwise directed, the sockmaster needs to be tagged, if it has not already been done.
  • Tag the sockmaster's user page:
    • If confirmed by CheckUser, on the sockmaster's user page, replace all content with {{sockpuppeteer|blocked|checked=yes|spipage=CASENAME}}
    • If not confirmed by CheckUser, on the sockmaster's user page, replace all content with {{sockpuppeteer|blocked|spipage=CASENAME}} if the user has been indefinitely blocked. Do not make any change if the user has only been blocked for a limited amount of time.

Sock puppets (registered accounts)[edit]

If a registered account has been shown in engaging in sock puppetry and is not the sockmaster, then perform the following tasks:

I. Indefinitely block the account – click "block user" by the corresponding sock puppet's account on the SPI page and then block the user.
II. Appropriately tag the sock puppet's user page – Unless otherwise directed to, the sock puppet needs to be tagged, if it has not already been done.
  • If confirmed by CheckUser – Replace all content on the sock puppet's user page with {{sock|SOCKMASTER|confirmed}}.
  • If it's a WP:DUCK or case where CU was not involved or was not confirmed - Replace all content on the sock puppet's user page with {{sock|SockMaster|blocked}}.

Sock puppets (IP addresses)[edit]

If an IP address has been shown in engaging in sock puppetry, then perform the following tasks:

I. Determine whether a block is needed – sometimes, a block won't be necessary on an IP. In the following situations, a block should not be necessary:
  • The sockmaster is known to be IP-hopping across dynamic IP addresses. We refer to the blocking of such IPs as playing "Whack-A-Mole".
  • The IP address is part of an entire range of IP addresses that have already been blocked; we usually refer to this as a rangeblock.
II. Block the IP if needed – Click "block user" by the corresponding IP account on the SPI case page. Account creation blocked should be set. The length of the block should be an arbitrary length determined by the admin, but it should not be indefinite nor too long as to not allow other persons to use the IP in the future.
III. Tag only the sock puppet's user talk page – Unlike with registered accounts, we usually don't tag the user page since another person in the future may edit under that IP. On the bottom of the IP address's talk page, add {{subst:SockBlock|period=duration|sig=yes}}, replacing "duration" with the length of the block. The talk page of an unblocked IP may be tagged with the {{IPSock}} template.