Wikipedia:Trolling poll

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This was a poll to determine our policy with regard to trolls. A more recent proposal is being discussed at Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors.


As they currently exist, the rules do not explicitly prohibit trolling by people who do not admit to being trolls. Trolls and the problems they cause have had tangible negative consequences for Wikipedia - one look at Wikipedia:Missing Wikipedians can confirm thus. Until now, attempts to prohibit it have failed primarily because there was no consistent defintion of what constitutes trolling.

The previous poll on this subject, Wikipedia:Dealing with trolls, failed because there was no clear definition of trolling. This issue has now been fixed.

This poll will last for two weeks, ending at 08:00 July 24 (UTC). →Raul654 07:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)

Question 1 "Definition of troll" (Yes 41, No 32 (27+14-9) )[edit]

I agree with the definition of troll as set forth in Wikipedia:What is a troll


  1. →Raul654 07:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Snowspinner 07:49, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  3. blankfaze | (беседа!) 07:51, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. Viajero 08:09, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. JoJan 08:12, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Sean Curtin 08:24, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. Thue | talk 10:17, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. Morwen - Talk 12:08, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. Danny 12:12, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  10. Secretlondon 12:18, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. Alex.tan 17:19, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  12. Schnee 18:27, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. sannse (talk) 18:37, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  14. Jallan 19:37, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  15. denny vrandečić 20:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC) (although I would prefer Pestering be not part of the definition, I do agree with it)
  16. Cyrius| 21:58, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  17. Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 22:33, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  18. Pjacobi 23:10, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  19. Fred Bauder 23:39, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  20. gadfium 00:27, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  21. Could be refined a little more, but basically on the mark. Jmabel 01:00, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  22. -- Grunt (talk) 02:23, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
  23. TonyW 02:50, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  24. Bryan 04:37, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) A solid basis, though I'm sure there will be refinements over time (this is Wikipedia after all)
  25. RickK 05:48, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  26. Everyking 09:56, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  27. theresa knott 10:35, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  28. Cribcage 18:10, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  29. I support the page, however, this vote is premature. I applaud the effort at Wikipedia:What is a troll but there should be more time for discussion before a vote takes place. The page is but two days old. UninvitedCompany 02:30, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  30. What Bryan said. We really need a policy on this. Ambivalenthysteria 03:28, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  31. Tεxτurε 04:43, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  32. Dori | Talk 13:24, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
  33. BCorr|Брайен 21:21, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  34. — Matt 00:32, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  35. Neutrality 05:01, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  36. David Cannon 10:48, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  37. olderwiser 13:17, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC) Sure there is subjectivity in the definition, and there may yet be gray areas at the edges, but I strongly agree with the general outline.
  38. Theon 18:18, Jul 14, 2004 (UTC)
  39. This isn't the only possible definition of troll, but it is one we can work with. Warofdreams 17:06, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  40. Eequor 02:33, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  41. bodnotbod 02:26, Jul 20, 2004 (UTC)
  42. gracefool 03:33, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  43. Quadell (talk) 15:17, Jul 29, 2004 (UTC)


  1. Too broad. Too subjective. --GD 10:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Terrible definition, completely subjective Sam [Spade] 20:46, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  3. Lumps too many issues together. --Eclecticology 21:04, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. It seems far to easy to hang the label "troll" on someone. Dieter Simon 23:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. Acegikmo1 02:13, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. This is a recursive definition. It basically says that a troll is someone who does ... or anything else to deliberately be a troll. Steven jones 12:35, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. This definition allows for meta-trolling. I.e. now, if you want to be disruptive, accuse someone of being a troll. I know that I have certainly done a thing or two that could be considered a troll (ditto for vandalism). I am sure that most people on Wikipedia have done the same as well. I know that there is no wikipedia cabal, but I firmly believe that it can appear that way to a newcommer. In short, I do not think that this definition is helpful. Jrincayc 14:14, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. Definition by outward behavior alone would be very difficult, but the current definition complicates the matter by bringing intent or mens rea (e.g. "deliberate") into the equation which amounts to mind reading. No one can read another person's mind with indisputable best it is an informed guess. The focus of the definition should be on (non-)compliance with WP policies like NPOV...think, "actus reus". A troll should simply be defined in the context of (non-)compliance with policy, and the current definitions may be better employed as examples of trolling...or being "disruptive" whatever you want to call it although there are better alternatives than "troll". B|Talk 16:36, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. Accusation of cabalism doesn't have to be the red flag to our bull. --Zigger 17:54, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
  10. The word troll is unhelpful. Consider disruptive behavior and the standards set forth below for the term. That would be much more useful. - Taxman 18:08, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  11. "Troll" is the wrong word. Because it is a pejorative reference to the person, not the behavior, it escalates the situation. It is also unfit for the described behaviors: trolls only catch folks who bite. Netnews and wikis are very different, and borrowing this term for use in wikis, at least for this set of behaviors, contributes to confusion. Dictionary definitions for troll. NealMcB 04:34, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
  12. No, no, no. The policy is arbitrary; it makes repeated reference to what is "obvious" when those things (such as what is a candidate for VfD) are not always obvious, as a causal perusal of the controversy of some VfDs shows. Further, the bit about "If they accept the policy, or seek to change the policy at the appropriate location, they are probably not a troll. If they declare the policy "wrong" (but make no effort to amend it) or simply ignore it, it's possible that they are a troll" sounds suspiciously like being forced to accept "re-education" in Maoist China, or even "if it floats it's a witch!" Finally, by making even asking ("pestering" -- who defines what is pestering) questions, it creates a chilling effect on speech on Wikipedia. Wiki is attractive precisely because the hierarchy is relatively flat, and all are welcome to criticize or be criticized, with a consensus slowly (sometime painfully slowly) emerging. Bureaucratic rules, and worse, vague rules, will take the fun out of wikipedia. -- orthogonal 04:44, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. I agree with the above objections. It is impossible to deduce intent, and too many issues are combined. --Crag 18:02, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
  14. Guanaco 21:53, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  15. Oppose - too vague - a troll is anyone 'we' call a troll ('we' is anyone who agrees with me). Mark Richards 22:37, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  16. Oppose - Total crap. And factually wrong. Eric B. and Rakim 03:44, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  17. Oppose - unnecessary, and seems prone to abuse. Jeeves 03:56, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  18. The word troll is subject to vagaries of interpretation. Oppose. Vehemently. Sjc 05:21, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  19. Trolls exist, but this isn't the right definition for it. Suggest people edit and think about the definition some more before re-polling at some point. Kim Bruning 17:38, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  20. There are as many definitions of troll as there are people using the word. anthony (see warning)
  21. Absolutely not. After discussion with Raul654, it seems clear that this policy is merely a weapon to use against people who, to the 'common sense' of admins, should be banned, and this definition is so broad in trying to accomplish that that it could be applied to nearly anyone. Whether or not such people should be banned—which is a separate issue, so I will not comment on it here—such a policy does not put Wikipedia in a good light, and does nothing but lend support to the “cabal” point-of-view. Lady Lysiŋe Ikiŋsile | Talk 21:02, 2004 Jul 14 (UTC)
  22. Agree with Orthogonal. This is foolish. Intrigue 14:09, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  23. dave 22:22, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  24. --Plato 07:06, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  25. Too vague FrankH 07:10, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  26. Far too vague. James F. (talk) 11:59, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  27. The two types "edit warring" and "misuse of process" would have been enough; the others are overly broad or outright dangerous, such as the one aimed at discouraging criticism of Wikipedia. AxelBoldt 00:41, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  28. Too many things are being subsumed into "troll". Let's not psychoanalyze others by leaning on our conceptions of "good faith" or "reasonableness" too much, either. --FOo 15:17, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The word troll is unhelpful

  1. Erich 23:19, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Fritzlein 05:44, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) The problem with using the word "troll" is that it already has a meaning which is more specific than, and different from, the meaning we are voting on here. A troll is someone who is deliberately provocative, but we are trying to try stretch that to mean persistently hindering the progress of Wikipedia in a mish-mash of otherwise unrelated ways, plus a catch-all for means of hindrance we haven't thought of yet. Erich is absolutely right that we should ban persistent disruptive behavior. Collecting stuff we don't like and calling it "trolling" doesn't help us towards that laudable goal.
  3. Taxman 18:08, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC) Same as abouve. Calling it disruptive behavior is much more helpful in that it lets everyone know what is meant. Just substitute the word disruptive behavior for the word troll is definition 2 and you have a great standard under which to stop disruptive behavior.
  4. moink 21:31, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) Specifying the particular unproductive behaviour and trying to address it is much more helpful.
  5. I strongly agree Sam [Spade] 21:36, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. The word troll may be a poor choice. I'd rather use "troublemaker." UninvitedCompany 02:30, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. NealMcB 04:34, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
  8. Jrincayc 12:44, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC) See below comment
  9. Guanaco 21:53, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  10. Indeed - the word is used in many different ways, here, it is a term of abuse. Not helpful. Mark Richards 22:37, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. It's the name of the guy i want to ban. Eric B. and Rakim 03:44, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  12. We're not trying to prevent certain people from participating; we're trying to eliminate disruptive behavior itself. DanKeshet 00:09, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. There are as many definitions of troll as there are people using the word. anthony (see warning)
  14. Nope (Also sounds VERY childish!)--Plato 07:03, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)


  • The word troll is unhelpful - Well, that's what Question 2 is supposed to solve, and make the word helpful. If you don't think that the definition described there is accurate, that's another thing- perhaps you don't think that users of this sort should be discouraged? Or is there something inherent in the word troll that makes it unhelpful? Suppose we invented a new word for the matter, would that help? I reccomend freem as the new term for people who seek not to help Wikipedia, but to disrupt it. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:54, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • to respond... I've commented on the definition at it's page. I found the definition educational. I definitely think we need to discourage this behaviour. See my earlier rant. We do not need new words!! my goodness. There are plenty of words already that deal with specific problem or disruptive behaviours. Why do we need new words purely intended to condemn each other? We need to be describing the actual behaviour: clearly, calmly, and (to the greatest extent possible) in a non-condemning manner. Call someone a troll and they'll be upset. Tell them their edits are:
  1. a personal attack,
  2. upsetting valued contributors,
  3. wasting everybodies time
  4. or not WP:NPOV
then we're calling a spade a spade and they have something to something to think about.
Disruptive is my current favourite alternative to Trolling Erich 00:23, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. --Zigger 17:54, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
    • Strongly agree. Those four standards and collective them under the term "disruptive behaviors" is much more helpful. Then the criticism is contructive. - Taxman 18:08, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree, I think it is much better to say, this person is a persistent personal attacker, than a persistent troll. The more specific the reason, the better.Jrincayc 22:03, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • Thanks. Maybe you'd like to register a vote! Erich 09:08, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

"Trolls and the problems they cause have had tangible negative consequences for Wikipedia - one look at Wikipedia:Missing Wikipedians can confirm thus" - As far as I can see this is simply not true. None of these users list trolls as the reason for their departure, whereas several list overzealous admins as a contributing factor. Mark Richards 15:16, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The problem with defining what a troll unfortunately cannot be separated from the fact that it too often must needs be a case of "I know it when I see it": successful trolls know exactly what the detailed, legal definitions are, & expend much care keeping to the letter while violating the spirit of the rules. And in trying to refine the rules to catch trols, too often we run the risk of ensnaring someone who annoyed one or more people due to lack of inexperience or because of a moment's injudicious anger.
I guess if in the definition of a troll there was the requirement that the individual so labelled had been shown where she/he made mistakes, given some advice, then given some warnings, & only after a clear history that said person is not here to contribute to creating an encyclopedia but only to cause troble, then we should consider her/him a troll & treat the person accordingly. Otherwise, the word "troll" becomes nothing more than another way of describing someone who is both annoying & is asserting a POV different from the speaker. -- llywrch 03:15, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Question 2 "Admins may ban persistent trolls at their discretion " (Yes 28, No 39, Neutral 1)[edit]

Our troll-banning policy should be: "Trolling is not allowed. Persistent trolling is a bannable offense, and admins may enforce this policy at their discretion."


  1. →Raul654 07:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Snowspinner 07:49, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  3. blankfaze | (беседа!) 07:55, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. Viajero 08:09, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. JoJan 08:12, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Sean Curtin 08:24, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. Thue | talk 10:17, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. Morwen - Talk 12:08, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. Danny 12:12, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  10. Alex.tan 17:19, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. Schnee 18:27, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  12. Jallan 20:04, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. denny vrandečić 20:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  14. Fred Bauder 23:40, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  15. gadfium 00:27, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  16. TonyW 02:51, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  17. Bryan 04:37, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC), with similar caveats to Mav's vote against below - the use of this power should be accompanied by responsibility, and the banning admin should not being the final arbiter.
  18. RickK 05:49, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  19. Everyking 09:56, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  20. Cribcage 18:11, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  21. Yes, we need a strict no-trolling policy. —No-One Jones 00:12, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  22. Yes, with some reservations; see comments. UninvitedCompany 02:30, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  23. Tεxτurε 04:44, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  24. Dori | Talk 13:25, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
  25. YES, YES, YES. Neutrality 05:03, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  26. David Cannon 10:50, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  27. dave 22:23, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  28. bodnotbod 02:29, Jul 20, 2004 (UTC)
  29. gracefool 03:38, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)


  1. GD 10:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Secretlondon 12:20, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  3. sannse (talk) 18:49, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. Sam [Spade] 20:48, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC) bad definition, bad word, etc...
  5. Eclecticology 21:22, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Cyrius| 21:58, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. Strongly oppose. This will cause more problems than it solves. That said, the AC is not a police force and I do support giving admins more authority to temporarily block persistently bad users. IMO this needs to be done by triads of admins and/or through quickpolls. Any action like that would then have to be reviewed by the AC, who could, at their discretion, uphold or extend the ban. --mav 22:29, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. Pjacobi 23:15, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC) I consider some of the counter-measures detailed below mandatory, especially the restriction to not yet involved admins and the possibility to ask for a vote to reverse the ban
  9. Erich 23:17, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC). come on, we're Wikipedia! we can do much better than at their discretion. Please see Wikipedia talk:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors
  10. Absolutely not. See a better proposal at Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors. [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 23:44, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. Too strong. Sorry, but I don't trust the simple discretion of individual admins this far. This seems to me to give blanket permission for an admin in any disagreement to ban his or her opponent, even another admin, and claim it was within his/her "discretion." -- Jmabel 01:03, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  12. Acegikmo1 02:13, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  13. I believe the policy should be more flexible and depend strictly on the nature of the trolling in the specific case. A blanket rule is not going to be able to cover every single incident of trolling properly. -- Grunt (talk) 02:23, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
  14. Fritzlein 06:12, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) I like the idea of more and faster banning than at present, but not if everything is lumped in as trolling. (see below)
  15. Enchanter 09:19, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC) Banning is ineffective, and often even counterproductive, against trolls. The policy should focus on ignoring them and reverting their edits, rather than banning.
  16. Jrincayc 14:39, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) The troll label is too vague. I think that any reason give for banning a user should be actionable. For example, some reason like, "Please discuss any change of yours that is reverted in talk before unreverting it", is much better than "Don't troll". The message "Trolling is not allowed. Persistant trolling is a bannable offense, and admins may enforce this policy at their discretion." sounds to me like there is a Wikipedia cabal. Notice that you have sysops who have the power to lock a user out at their discretion. Think about how it would feel to be told this. I am guessing unless you are an unuasally calm person, your reaction would be something along the lines of "Those Explative liers. The say that anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, but now they want to ban me. The will wish that they had never tried to ban me." Much better would be a comment to them like, "This Link contribution is useful, but your behavior Specific problem is harmful to wikipedia. We would like your useful contributions, but if you persist in doing Specific problem, then we may ban you. Feel free to discuss this Here if you have any questions." The goal of any trolling policy should be to gain as many new useful contributers as possible. As such, it sometimes might be necessary to ban a user if they are taking too much time from useful contributers, but this should be considered a failure of the system, and not a sucess. I think that trolling policy might just be sacrificing the future of wikipedia for the present.
  17. I agree along the lines of Mav's comments above. B|Talk 16:36, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  18. Banning trolls and similar attempts will not work. Trolling is not so much a problem of bannable people but their behaviour. IMHO the only way to solve this problem is to improve Wikipedia culture so that all disagreeing contributors genuinely work towards consensus and value opposing views. At the moment, the Wikipedians who are most unco-operative tend to get closer to their goal than those who seek consensus. For this reason many Wikipedians who have made valuable contriutions have also engaged in some form of trolling. Trolling must become counterproductive. How to achieve this? Simply by making it highly likely that a troll's edits will be reverted. Introduce a "trolling index" for each user, averaged from assessments of that user's adherence to Wikipedia ideals by fellow Wikipedians. Then make a list of the people with the worst "trolling index", and their recent edits. Fellow Wikipedians can then easily check and revert them. This would enable systematic scrutiny of trolls and discourage their behaviour. pir 17:37, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  19. Replace "troll" above with "disruptive behavior" standard set forth above and then I am all for this banning policy. Anarchic freedoms sound great but there are just too many people that want to cause trouble just because they can. - Taxman 18:08, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  20. moink 21:34, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC) Concentrates too much subjective power in the hands of admins. There are much better ways to address disruptive behaviour than banning.
  21. I vote against, and support Wikipedia:Dealing_with_disruptive_or_antisocial_editors. Active disrupters are not trolls. Trolls are relatively passive. And they have passion, which vandals more often lack, so banning will have less effect, and possibly counterproductive effect. Blocks seem more effective to me. The strong reaction to the 'cabal' label is surprising to me. I think it is just an unfortunate fact of life that people who feel beset are apt to invoke conspiracy theories. Trying to inhibit such talk by banning on this basis seems very counterproductive and wrong. NealMcB 04:34, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
  22. No. Since the definition of trolling is assumed by this question, and as I don't think it has been defined, this would result in banning based on the completely subjective opinions of whomever had the power to ban. Arbitrary governance is unstable and breeds resentments. I'd prefer, frankly, to have to deal with "trolls". -- orthogonal 04:49, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  23. No. Even if I agreed with question 1, banning should require more than an individual admin's judgement. -- Crag 18:06, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
  24. Guanaco 21:53, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  25. Absolutely not. Mark Richards 22:38, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  26. Eric B. and Rakim 03:44, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  27. Oppose. I feel these problems should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Jeeves 03:59, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  28. Way too broad a definition of what constitutes a troll. This is the kind of bureaucracy by stealth which is creeping insidiously into Wikipedia. Q.V. the self-appointed arbitration committee which seem to have arrogated policy making in their pronouncements. (I am going to expand on this in an article soon, but am still marshalling my resources). Sjc 05:19, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  29. While I agree with #1, I think the phrase "at their discretion" is unacceptable. olderwiser 13:27, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  30. Well trolls are annoying, sure, but you needn't ban them . Scratch that, some folks disrupt the wikipedia for others and definately should be bannable. I still oppose here, because the proposed policy is too arbitrary yet, but I might vote yes to less arbitrary policy.Kim Bruning 17:41, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  31. Theon 18:25, Jul 14, 2004 (UTC) Trolls should be ignored, not banned. Banning them merely gives them the attention that they are looking for. See Bird/Brain Controversy
  32. This can't be enforced without a good definition of troll, which we don't have. Lady Lysiŋe Ikiŋsile | Talk 21:02, 2004 Jul 14 (UTC)
  33. Admins don't have discretion, the arbitration committee does. Admins are only to act upon the consensus of the community. Sysops are not imbued with any special authority. anthony (see warning)
  34. No, this is misguided. Intrigue 14:09, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  35. NO abuse of power by sysops is possible!--Plato 07:10, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  36. Not enough safeguards in the process, and banning should be the last resort, if temporary blocks etc have failed. Warofdreams 17:09, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  37. Eequor 02:29, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  38. No, Troll definition is to vague FrankH 07:10, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  39. Far too vague and subjective. James F. (talk) 12:07, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  40. No: admin is an administrative job, not judge, jury and executioner in one. AxelBoldt 00:41, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  41. I wouldn't trust certain 'eager' admins with this much power Dmn / Դմն 00:59, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)


  1. BCorr|Брайен 21:28, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC) I'm strongly inclined to support, but there needs to be a more detailed and clearer policy that what is outlined above. Alternately, I would support a ban under the definition above if three sysops agreed (it wouldn't have to be software-based or reversible to get my suppory, FYI.)


  1. I oppose this concentration of authority and power which, I think, would inevitably lead to abuse. Whether someone is trolling or not should be decided upon in a case by case basis with an appropriate punishment being determined by the community. --GD 10:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I think what this comes down to is whether you prefer trial by judge or trial by jury. --GD 20:57, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • While I respect your opinion, deciding things on a "case to case basis" has been basically the policy for two years or so and it's gotten us nowhere. Trolling is a huge problem and if we want to cut down on it, we have to put together a system to cut down on it; otherwise, we're too unorganised to get anything done. blankfaze | (беседа!) 11:59, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • Ermm - you've only been here since April 2004. I don't see trolling as a huge problem, rather a high profile one. This looks like IRC group think - sorry. Secretlondon 12:22, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • I think the problem is actually a hair worse than you describe, blank. Not only are sysops not empowered currently to do anything about trolls, but, barring a policy that trolling is a bannable offense, the arbitration committee can't do anything. This, to me, is the much bigger problem - right now, trolling isn't actually against the rules at all. Which means even if you're wary about individual judgment on the part of sysops (Though I don't think you should be, since the vandalism policy already calls for such judgment), some policy along these lines is important to have. In general, I think Wikipedia needs as a bare minimum policies that will enable it to remove users who actively seek to harm Wikipedia. At the moment, we don't have said policies on any level - not just on the level of "sysops don't have the power to block X.' No one has the authority to block "trolls" as it stands. (Except Jimbo himself, obviously, but my impression is that he'd like to make fewer blocking decisions.) Snowspinner 14:25, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
        • The arbitration committee has jurisdiction over:
          • Established Wikipedia customs and common practices.
          • Wikipedia's "laws": terms of use, submission standards, bylaws, general disclaimer, and copyright license.
          • Sensible "real world" laws.
        • This covers trolling. Historically, the arbitration committee tends to warn people before banning, but they clearly have the authority to ban persistent trolls, despite violation of previously written rules. anthony (see warning)
      • Several things:
        • How does "IRC groupthink" compare to accusations of cabalism? :) - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:33, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
          • Is that bannable? Well it's on the list... Secretlondon 03:19, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
        • Whether or not Blankfaze has been here two years, the portion qualified by that duration says merely that things have been decided "on a case by case basis". Is that false? - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:33, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
          • The also claims that trolling is a huge problem are perhaps influenced by pages such as Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration and Wikipedia:Requests for comment, particularly the late User:Mr. Treason, as well as traffic on the mailing list. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:33, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
          • If trolling is a high profile problem then it is a major problem, for it occupies the time of good contributors and starts to drive them away. Just because it doesn't directly or permanently mangle an article every time does not preclude it from being significant. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:35, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
            • Trolls require food and people seem to be desperate to feed them. Desist - ignore and revert if necessary. They are not worth this amount of time. Secretlondon 03:22, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Far too broad and liaible for abuse. What would happen in practice is that people would be banned for doing some of the things listed. We are asking administrators to guess intent, rather than judging actions. Secretlondon 12:20, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I think that, if you look at Wikipedia:Dealing with vandalism this is already the case - note that the definition of vandalism there specifies that it is a bad faith addition, not a merely inept good faith addition. Sysops already have to judge whether something is in good or bad faith. Snowspinner 14:13, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  3. I'm voting for this, but I think it needs to be made sure that a person accused of trolling has a means to appeal. Everything else *will* lead to abuses of sysop power. -- Schnee 18:27, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. I'm voting no on the banning policy. I feel that, even with the excellent summary of the problem provided, deciding when someone is trolling is too subjective to be left to individual administrators. In my view this would inevitably lead to abuse. I would, however, support this as a policy for enforcement by the Arbitration Committee (although I would like to see their views on that too). I also wonder what validity this poll actually has. I think this may be a question only Jimbo can answer, he has basically set banning policy in the past and I would suspect that he would need to endorse any policy voted on here. -- sannse (talk) 18:49, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Jimbo has replied to this concern on the mailing list [1] -- sannse (talk) 19:51, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. Provide a page where anyone blocked or banned for any reason can protest the ban, or someone else can do it for them if they don't want to. Let the message remain for 5 days. Let people vote and comment on it like they do now in Votes for Deletion. Yes, mistakes will be made ... and can reasonably quickly be undone when they are obvious mistakes. Sysops who make too many mistakes, that is blocking or banning against consensus, can be removed from blocking and banning, if the community so decides. Let's have fast decisions on such behavior quickly and case by case on the individual incidents rather than letting it continue. That also means bad behavior by sysops if they overstep. Let's have fast full re-instatement and apology if consensus decides a block or ban is not justified, with no particular blame on a sysop who has honestly errs occasionally. Let the message be something like: "You have been blocked for << aadfadefmabbaourabaerouaraeararar >> for XX hours. It is possible that this is unjust. If you feel so, please protest at Blocking Complaints as mistakes are sometimes made and Wikipedia wishes to give blocked editors a chance to respond." Jallan 20:04, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Strong agreement. Such a face would be much needed if the policy is applied. The page may be on Meta, being linked to from the trolls User-Page, so that it is easily avaible for him (and he is still technically able to write on it after a banning) --denny vrandečić 20:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  6. I vote for this, although I am not totally happy with it. I would prefer that the banning policy would be, like, "a sysop needs agreement from X other sysops in order to ban a user on trolling" or "the banning sysop must not have dealt with the so-called troll user previously" (in order to preven sysops from banning someone in anger). Still, as said, I agree to the policy though I think it's not perfect - because I think, it is more important not to loose any worthy contributors than my unease with some details of the policy. --denny vrandečić 20:47, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
    • These suggestions would greatly ease my concerns about abuse and allegations of abuse. Needing to find X-1 sysops would help prevent sysop abuse, and having X sysops agreeing on a ban would reduce the credibility of false abuse claims. -- Cyrius| 22:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. We already have too many hair-trigger sysops. Let's not encourage them. The policy is based on being guilty until proven innocent, rather than the other way around. Perhaps a sysop who peremptorily bans someone who is later found to be innocent should be banned for the same amount of time that the banned person was banned. Eclecticology 21:22, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    I disagree with your assertion that the policy is about an assumption of guilt. Quite the opposite, the policy, at least as I was intending it, is about assuming innocence, and about giving alleged trolls as many chances as possible. Snowspinner 21:44, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
  8. I agree with this policy up until the last part, "sysops may enforce this policy at their discretion." Allowing a single sysop to act as judge, jury, and executioner is not acceptable and will lead to problems. Whether abuses exist or not, trolls will still be able to easily allege that their ban was an unjustified action by a rogue sysop. This will lead us into wasting our time dealing with complaints and having to investigate the actions of other sysops. -- Cyrius| 22:26, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Suppose we made that pural mandatory, and made it sysops-plural? Then we come up with a place where we organize the pluralization of a definition of trolling? - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 22:36, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • As I said above, that would make me a lot happier. Needing threeish sysops to act would prevent most potential "heat of the moment" sysop abuse and help quiet complaints about wrongful troll labelling. -- Cyrius| 01:27, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Would people prefer if we also had an option along the lines of "Trolling is not permitted on Wikipedia. Sysops may use temporary blocks to enforce this policy." And leave it to the arbcom to make the bans? Snowspinner 22:51, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
    • I interpreted the meaning as more like "if an admin sees an obvious trolling attempt, a ban can be among the tools available to him to stop it" - such a ban wouldn't be a "sentence", it'd be an "arrest" and would still be the subject of full debate. Presumably an admin who frequently bans people that shouldn't be banned wouldn't stay an admin for long. Bryan 04:49, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. We need a section on what people oughta do if they're blocked for trolling and don't consider themselves trolls: where to go, where not to go, not to evade blocks, etc. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:12, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    I imagine they would do what they do when they get blocked for vandalism and don't consider themselves vandals... Snowspinner 23:25, Jul 10, 2004 (UTC)
    Well, that way we can officially tell them they're wrong to evade blocks, etc. :) - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:56, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    "Troll" and "trolling" are woolly terms that will forever invite arguments because of the shortcomings of their meanings. If a person behaves like a vandal – ultimately that is what it comes down to – but is called a troll he/she can quite likely return with an argument that hinges on technicalities allowed by the unclearness of the concept, and at the same time continue with their trolling/vandalism. The trouble also is that the words troll and trolling are about attitudes, those of the troll and those of the people treating him like a troll or what they believe to one, whereas a definition nearer to vandal and vandalism would be probably much more precise and much more likely to be acted upon by admins. I appeal to you to think about this before you consider the use of flawed words such as troll and trolling, the full meaning of which we will probably never know. They almost certainly will be re-interpreted every time they are being used. Dieter Simon 23:51, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    See my proposal above in the other comments section: we should replace all instances of the word "troll" with the word freem, if the word itself is inherently flawed. :) - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 23:56, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    Fennec, I think you've missed out point. Maybe we didn't make our selves clear. Hopefully the above helps. Erich 00:27, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    I suspect this problem will be heavily alleviated by defining trolling, as above. Snowspinner 00:32, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  10. The sorts of trolling that are already described and the actions that should be taken in those caes are, I feel, already covered by the nature of policies that have already been put in place, if not by the letter of the policies. As I've said above, it will depend entirely on the nature of the trolling as to what should be done about it. -- Grunt (talk) 02:26, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
  11. --Fritzlein 06:12, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)Wikipedia most definitely needs a new way to deal with disruptive users. The current system is barely functional. Our solution, however, must not lump vastly different sorts of offenses under a single, inaccurate title. Most especially we must not label behaviors we haven't even thought of yet as bannable offenses. Let's split out the issues and vote on each:
    1. Persistently engaging in edit wars with multiple opponents -- I vote for banning
    2. Refusing to accept decisions of a large majority -- I vote for banning
    3. Raising accusations of cronyism -- I vote to tolerate this behaviour, yet it is listed as one of the surest indicators of trolling! Thus, if I consider myself to be a persecuted minority, I could be banned for stating that opinion, even if my behavior is in no other wise disruptive.
    4. Engaging in behavior that a particular admin considers destructive -- This surely must be decided, by the community, based on the type of behavior, but under the current definition of trolling, admins may call it "creative trolling" and ban a user without more clearly defining the offense.
  12. I think that the proposal just misses the point, because it focusses on banning trolls. Banning is not particularly effective, as it can be easily circumvented by anyone who really wants to. It can make dealing with trolls more difficult, rather than less, because it leads them to come back with different usernames, making it hard to track who they are. What is needed is a strong community consensus that if someone is trolling, they should just be ignored and their bad edits reverted. Enchanter 09:20, Jul 11, 2004 (UTC)
  13. A quick and efficient means of discouraging problem users needs to be employed if we care about encouraging positive contributions and keeping wikipedia from being seriously bogged down by a few or alot of troublemakers. Wikipedia isn't a government created for welfare of the's just an open community encyclopedia...decisions on problem users don't necessarily need to be decided democratically to serve the purposes of wikipedia; it can be done by smaller groups of active users and still be fair...not perfect. Other checks and balances can be put in place to keep wikipolice from abusing their discretion. We just need to be creative. Wikipedia has matured such that at this point it makes sense to require users to register...otherwise enforcing policies will always be a joke given proxy servers, etc. B|Talk 16:36, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  14. This seems like four questions. Using disruption instead of trolling, then:
    1. "Disruption is not allowed": Yes. It's a bad thing.
    2. "Persistent disruption is a bannable offense": Yes. Banning is the last resort against persistence. I see one month as persistence.
    3. "admins may enforce this policy": Yes. Vanilla users can't do blocks anyway.
    4. "at their discretion": No. If it's clearly disruptive and persistent, it won't be hard to get a consensus, or cabal :-). --Zigger 18:05, 2004 Jul 11 (UTC)
  15. Again, these votes may be premature since the policy page being voted on is only two days old. Like some others, I don't like the word troll and would prefer troublemaker or disruptive edits or edits in bad faith or some other clearer langauge. "Users who persistently edit in bad faith can be blocked." UninvitedCompany 02:30, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  16. Trolling is a straw man. No one has been able to provide any evidence of a large scale problem that can't be dealt with by the existing policy. This is a power grab by a few people who would like the ability to ban people who annoy them. Mark Richards 22:42, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  17. "Don't feed the trolls" ? Well this poll has got to be the biggest, most delicious troll feast - all sponsored by Wikipedianity ! Trolls love bureaucracy because they will always find ways to disrupt bureaucratic measures like this. That's why this kind of approach is doomed to fail. Instead we need to find ways that put off trolls and limit their ability to disrupt productive Wikipedia process.pir 22:49, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As a note to everyone, I encourage people in the camp of "This is basically a good definition but could use X" to vote in favor of the definition. It's already pretty clear that there's going to have to be another round of voting because the blocking policy as proposed isn't going to pass. And, in said second round of voting, I intend to offer the proposal to change all mentions of "troll" to "disruptive user" in the policy. If people have other objections/additions along these lines but basically support the policy, I encourage people to note them, and we can deal with them in the second round of this. Or, I suppose, third round, since this is already the second round. Snowspinner 04:59, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)

The concept of "disruptive user" is even worse than "troll" because it is less specific. If I have a POV that is opposed by many others but I insist on it being in an article, thereby making the writing process more difficult - does that make me a "disruptive user"? In fact, by opposing this concept even before it's even introduced, thereby "disrupting" future polls, does that make me a "disruptive user"? pir 23:13, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
And that would be why we're looking at passing a nice big definition of the term, whatever the term may be. So that the arguments about how specific the word is stop being an issue, because we all have a nice big definition to look at. Snowspinner 23:39, Jul 12, 2004 (UTC)
Rather than defining a certain type of user, we should define a certain type of behavior. For me this is a minor problem, but I think there are several people for who it is significant. If you want my vote next time around, don't say either "A troll is someone who..." or "A disruptive user is someone who...", but rather say "Disruptive behaviors for which one may eventually be banned include..." Peace, --Fritzlein 00:37, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

And if you haven't noticed, editing of Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors is continuing until about midday UTC 23 July 2004. Please come and have a look! If it doesn't look like something you will be able to support when voting starts, on 23 July 2004, please help us shape it into somthing you could support. Erich 07:15, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Yes, everyone, please look. The proposal at Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors does many things right, including focusing on the behavior rather than the person, and condemning persisent bad behavior rather than condemning bad intent. It is counter-productive to ever tell someone that they have evil designs and/or are flawed human beings. What is important is that there are some behaviors that the Wikipedia community should not tolerate regardless of who is doing it and what their motives are. See the dispute surrounding User:168... for an example of the prime importance of focusing on behavior, not intent. --Fritzlein 00:52, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I find the Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors much more useful and much better than this poll and the definition of trolls. Jrincayc 13:08, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This poll would have to qualify as the best troll I have seen in wikipedia this month. Congratulations User:Raul654 ;) Jrincayc 02:01, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Yes, perhaps we need an article on Polling troll, as well as a Trolling Poll. ;) Mark Richards 17:51, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Trolling policies help trolls[edit]

Creating complex policies and attempting to enforce them will be more disruptive than the behaviors that are being called "trolling". The more complicated the site policies, the more people will attempt to use them litigiously as a weapon against others -- see how edit-warriors currently use "NPOV" claims as a weapon.

Wikipedia should be about the text, not about editors' egos or editors' behaviors ... and any "policy" should be evaluated on how well it lets people get back to contributing productively to the text, and how much it keeps ego out of it. Creating a system of "criminal justice" here, to evaluate people's intentions and behaviors, is a terrible idea! It will tie up valuable contributor time in arguing about egos rather than working together on text.

What should be done about trolls? Revert 'em. Everyone can do that. It is the nature of a true troll to go away when he realizes he isn't going to get a rise out of people. Giving the troll a hierarchy of policies and courts to appeal to is playing into his hands -- it lets him tie up more and more other people in his ego problem. That's what he wants. A person who wants to disrupt Wikipedia fatally could do no better than to pull all other contributors into arguments over his own status. --FOo 15:51, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Question 3 "Significant Problem" (Yes 6; No 8; No, but... 12)[edit]

I see trolling as a significant problem on Wikipedia.


  1. BCorr|Брайен 03:32, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC) I already spend too much of my time dealing with those engaged in trolling.
  2. Fritzlein 04:35, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC) I think a small number of users waste the time of many, and show no inclination to stop doing so, despite the patient attempts of other people to deal with them constructively. That's a significant problem. (That said, I think "trolling" is a poor word for describing the problem.)
  3. I agree with Fritzlein. While the problem is manageable at the moment it is a great frustration to many people. However I fear that this problem will become incraesingly unmanageable as Wikipedia grows and establishes itself as an Internet institution. If this prediction is correct, the bureaucratic banning approach will cost the most dedicated users more and more time, and they will leave. A different approach is needed. pir 16:11, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  4. Of course. These people have NO interest in building a serious encyclopedia and should be permanently exiled. Neutrality 05:06, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. Not due to any sheer number of trolls, but due to our inability to deal with the ones we have. How long has (your choice of annoying user) been pestering us? It's absurd. - Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 20:20, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Currently I think there is a lot of time spent on issues which are best described as trolling. I think the solution in most cases is to ignore the behavior, though. Don't feed the trolls (by creating polls like this), and the problem wouldn't be significant. anthony (see warning)
  7. I see it as one of several community-related problems that we presently face. Trolls and other problem editing affect certain articles and activities more than others, and so every Wikipedian is likely to have a different personal experience of trolls. I believe this is why some do not see trolls as a problem. Few Wikipedians have chosen to be involved much in policy discussions here and at the meta, and those are among the areas where trolls make it so unpleasant. By the "don't feed the trolls" aphorism is patently false, at least in communities of any size (over about 20 active contributors) (c.f. Shirky et al). I also share the sentiments of those who point out that we have only a handful of troublemakers that are creating the poor climate. UninvitedCompany


  1. I personally have not seen any significant problem with trolling on wikipedia. I see vandalism, and biting newcommers and other problems, but not trolling. I looked at the Wikipedia:Missing Wikipedians page and I most of the reasons did not seem to specifically address trolls. Maybe I am a troll, and so I do not see it; but I will gladly look at lists of specific edits and pages if told about them. Jrincayc 02:17, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Eric B. and Rakim 03:45, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  3. No, but I am willing to be convinced by an objective summary. Indeed, I think such a summary should be provided to outline the extent of the problem before a solution is offered. Mere statement that "trolling is a problem" is not informative. -- orthogonal
  4. Not really. GD 05:37, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. No, and none of the people on 'missing wikipedians' listed it as one of their reasons for leaving either. Some did list overzealous sysops. Mark Richards 15:59, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. I strongly agree w Mark Richards above. Sam [Spade] 18:36, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  7. It's been blown up out of all proportion. Secretlondon 19:24, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  8. No. Agree with above sentiments. Wikipedia is really a very different entity than Usenet or Slashdot. Jeeves 19:35, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  9. Nope, haven't seen many true trolls around at all recently. If there's a couple perhaps the standard wikipedia conflict resolution can deal with them. Kim Bruning

No, but Wikipedia would still benefit from a better way of encouraging civility and dealing with the handful of users who do more harm than good by their edits

  1. Erich 03:30, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  2. Schnee 04:33, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  3. Jmabel 06:26, Jul 13, 2004 (UTC): That better way is mostly a matter of being clear about what patterns of behavior are considered unacceptable and unproductive, not by radically enhancing the power of admins to unilaterally ban someone.
  4. David Cannon 10:48, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  5. [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 17:05, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  6. Theon 18:27, Jul 14, 2004 (UTC)
  7. Cyrius| -- There are trolls. There are trolls that cause problems. There is a need to deal with the trolls that cause problems. But it's not like we're suffering under some onslaught of trolls. It's usually the same handfull of usual suspects we can't seem to reform or get rid of.
  8. Intrigue 14:09, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC) I've never had any problems.
  9. dave 22:24, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  10. Natually someone should be more civil to another no matter what, it's called the Wikipedia:Wiki-love policy.--Plato 07:13, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  11. Eequor 02:31, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  12. NealMcB 00:30, 2004 Jul 20 (UTC)
  13. gracefool 03:37, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)


A better way than what? My suggestion is that we enforce existing policy. Sam [Spade] 03:34, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

gedday Sam, would you mind expanding on how you think we should enforce existing policy? Erich 03:52, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Gladly! I suggest we enforce Wikipedia:No personal attacks, Wikipedia:Civility and Wikipedia:Don't bite the newcomers with everyone (not just crazies and social outcasts). How? I'm pretty open. Have a look at the talk or elsewhere for some more thoughts on the matter. Just off the top of my head, a warning followed by a 24hr block for anyone being excessively cranky & mean, a ranking system similar to Wikipedia:Trust network, a continuous vote for admins (where votes can be added or taken away by users who interact w them, and their admin status being removed if it drops below a certain level), having responsible moderation of #wikipedia, creating a strict Wikipedia:No personal attacks policy (unlike what we have now) (seems pretty good actually, lets enforce it?), etc... Ideas aren’t the problem, it's the will to action that appears lacking. I see an "us old hands" against "those trollish newbies" mentality that encourages abusive behavior by admins (I needn't name names, most of you have at least one in mind ;), their bad example spilling over onto the lay people. In conclusion, set a good example, enforce clear rules fairly (that means against yourselves as well!) and stop jumping all over wacky newbies, most will turn into quality contributors one day, if their nurtured. Sam [Spade] 05:11, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
except for the bit about wacky newbies miraculously becoming valuable editors, I agree Sam. This has got me thinking about moving forward (see below) Erich 07:47, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
"if nurtured" is key ;) Sam [Spade] 18:35, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Suggestions for a way forward from here[edit]

This debate is raging, with much misunderstanding and "I agree, except"s,

I think the way to make progress is to separate the issues:

  1. Crime and Punishment and
  2. enforcement

We can then work on reaching consensus on what constitutes a blockable offence in the context of:

If the community also adopts an acceptable enforcement mechanism, then I think (nose picking) should be a blockable offence:

At the same time we can work on enforcement rules:

For implementing blocks up to a maximum of xxx days, numnut's justice system proposal is an acceptable enforcement system:

And before anybody just throws up yet another poll, can we please have some debate on what the questions ought to be. I’d suggest we need at week (absolute minimum) to get consensus on the questions. Then we can vote. But to clarify what I’m suggesting here are the sorts of topics that fall out of the debate on this page:Erich 07:47, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I disagree with the (will-intentioned but IMO misguided) way you are trying to frame the debate. "Crime", "punishment", "enforcement" that's all completely un-Wiki-like. Wikipedia works because it is so easy for any visitor to contribute, no registration or official approval or special equipment required, all contributors are equal (more or less). This War on Trolling risks ruining all that - it is the wet dream of all trolls. Trolling isn't a "law-and-order" issue, it is a psychological and social issue. What do trolls want? They want to frustrate others, waste their time and ruin their work. How do you combat trolls? By frustrating them and ruining their troll activities, not by feeding them with long bureacratic banning procedures ! That's a language they will understand, as opposed to bans which will only encourage them. We can frustrate the trolls by listing the worst and most persisent offenders and then putting them under constant and systematic scrutiny by the whole community. This means checking all their actions, instantly reverting recurring POV edits and personal attacks, repeated invitations to productive involvement.pir 16:43, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Gedday Pir, i guess I don't know what wiki-like is, to be honest. What I see is a complex debate trying to address too many issues all lumped together. Half the community is happy to 'ban on sight' and the other half is very concerned about it. I think I'm just trying to bring in practices that I know work in the real world, so we can have a fair, open system that can deal with complex issues in a just way. Right now we cannot explain to the outside world how we deal with people... 'oh if they really piss us off, Jimbo or the AC ban them.' We need to be able to explain how we enforce justice. and, personally I don't think that 'oh the sysops just shoot the trolls on sight' is an overly confidence building explanation... I know you don't advocate that either, but lots of wikipedians seeem to. So if we need an enforcement system then let us (a) admit that and (b) do it properly... rant over Erich 12:47, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
You're right Pir - blocks and bans are not an effective remedy for trolling, they are food for it. Not only does denying people a voice cause them to look to more radical and unhelpful methods of being heard, but the act of blocking sets up a challenge, creating a vicious cycle. Much better to remove the fuel than try to fight fires by drenching them in gas. Mark Richards 17:19, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Just found this and this. That's the way to go I believe, with negative marks for trolls and disruptive users.Plus everyone can do with this kind of feedback. pir 18:34, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Pir, ah, since I'm a newcomer this is the first example I've seen of why everybody think's it cool to have Jimbo as a deity. Well I agree with him and have suggested the idea as well. I'd strongly support putting Jimbo's idea to a poll. I think its an idea whose time has come!! Erich 12:47, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Crime and Punishment[edit]

  1. What is a blockable offence?
    1. Personal attack?
    2. POV editing?
    3. Refusing to accept decisions of a large majority?
    4. Raising accusations of cronyism?
    5. Engaging in behaviour that a particular admin considers destructive?
    6. Disobeying a formal warning which has received consensus?
  2. How long should people be blocked for?


  1. Who decides on guilt? and penalty?
    1. Single sysops, at their discretion
    2. At least two sysops?
    3. At least three sysops, in the absence of sysop dissent?
  2. How is disagreement handled?
    1. we pillory the sysop afterwards
    2. no action unless there is consent?
    3. aim for consensus, but go fairly rapidly to voting if there is dissent?
      1. what are the voting rules?

Reviving quickpolls[edit]

OK, quickpolls were bad, but I think there were a lot of good ideas, and I think there is need for quick action in some instances of trolling. The problems with quickpolls were that they were enforced selectively, they enforced rules ex post facto, and they rarely worked in changing behavior. I think this can be fixed. My proposal would look like a mini-arbitration, something like the following:

Quickpoll on Jimbo's RfC nominations[edit]


Users should not disrupt RfC by making spurious nominations.


Jimbo has repeatedly made spurious nominations on RfC.


Jimbo is referred to the arbitration committee. In addition, the user is warned not to make any nominations on RfC until the arbitration committee has accepted or denied the referral. Doing so will result in a 24 hour temp ban after a successful quickpoll.


15:04, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC) by 9-1 vote.

Violation at 15:04, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)[edit]

Jimbo made a nomination on RfC at 15:04, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC) [2] and is banned for 24 hours.



I dunno, maybe it's too complicated. But then again, maybe that will cut down on the spurious quickpolls. anthony (see warning)

 :-) There you have it: Wikipedia:Votes for banning - just like Wikipedia:Votes for deletion with the same rules. And we could have Wikipedia:Votes for unbanning and Wikipedia:Archived ban debates.

comunity involvement in justice and enforcement[edit]

Erich's views on policy versus individual cases[edit]

my concern about open community polling is making justice into a form of entertainment. This should NOT be a form of entertainment and, IMHO, the less people dragged into these sordid matters the better. Bans and blocks are serious matters that need considered action, but we don't need Wikipedia's equivilant of Jerry Springer. We already have AC forming as an ultimate arbitor of issues and the community should healthily conduct hearty debate on policy. But healthy debate on policy is different from community lynching. This is why the proposal at Wikipedia talk:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors limits voting to admins.

When bad decisions are made, as will happen, then, of course, everybody should get involved to satisfy themselves that remedial steps are taken... especially to try to avoid repeats... but that is different from having expectation that there will be wide involvement in decisions about who we hang today.... Just some thoughts for comments Erich 02:20, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

  • I dunno, like throwing Christians to the lions? It might well be entertaining. And Jerry Springer is a groundbreaking work. But since admins weren't elected to dispense justice or even to arbitrate, what makes you think they'd do a better job that the common, salt of the earth, non-admin class editor? -- orthogonal 04:34, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • "what makes you think (admins)'d do a better job (than) ... non-admin class editor?". Great question. Absolutely nothing. IMHO, admins, will do a just fine job, most of the time. As would any editor. For the exceptions, the proposed WP:DWDAE has checks and balances and requires transparency... for that few percent of cases where an admin is having a bad day. Erich 07:25, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • I like this latest twist above, but agree w Orthogonal's thoughts about admins. How about increasing accountability? Like the continuous voting idea. Sam [Spade] 04:54, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • sure if you think you need to. To be honest I think laying out a process that allows peer-review and public scrutiny (not to be confused with public lynching) will be adequate and less divisive. Erich 07:25, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Redirect to Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors[edit]

There has been much support here for reframing this question in less loaded and more specific and constructive language as described at Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors. So I'm lifting it up here as a top-level header, and encourage people to go discuss these issues there. Some of us think of talk of "trolls" and "banning" as disruptive :-) --NealMcB 00:26, 2004 Jul 20 (UTC)