Wikipedia talk:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors

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Archive index[edit]

archive 1[edit]

  1. misuse of editing summaries
  2. Sock puppet discussion

archive 2[edit]

  1. Expiry of warnings
  2. Kudos! from Mav (thanks mav)
  3. Definition
  4. will long term users get adequate stern treatment when needed?
  5. misrepresenting the truth
  6. Appeals
  7. Voting formula
  8. Reincarnations
  9. an extra week... nah
  10. is any belief explicitly banned by Wikipedia policy
  11. Frivolous or vexatious complaints
  12. Precedent
  13. Definition of disruptive behaviour "includes but is not limited to:"


Some feel the policy is too complicated, but others feel it is as simple as it can be. Regardless, this policy does need a bit of your time to consider it.

Have a read through the list of objections. If you have a concern which isn't addressed to your satisfaction please add it or your concern with the given response.

Please add discussion below the FRO's or help to clarify the FRO text for the benefit of others.

Frequently raised objections[edit]

This section is for collective editing. Try to use a NPOV style. No need to sign: just chip in and add and clarify. (This is a bit of an experiment). Try to express your objection clearly: responses such as "huh?" are not terribly helpful.

This gives sysops too much power[edit]

This gives sysops more power than they have every traditionally had and more than was granted to them when the community elected them to administer policy.

Sysops should only be agents who enforce the decisions made by the community (or top down from Jimbo, the arb committee, or the board). It is not clear that most sysops even necessarily are good at making these types of judgement calls themselves. Although these considerations have perhaps been considered to some extent lately, historically adminiship has been "no big deal". Even today, adminship is not considered a political position. "Current Wikipedia policy is to grant administrator status to anyone who has been an active Wikipedia contributor for a while and is generally a known and trusted member of the community." That's fine for choosing administrators who aren't making these kinds of decisions, but it's not appropriate for administrators who are judge, jury, executioner, and by the vagueness of definition even legislator, even when acting in groups of three or more.

Response: This policy makes sysops justify their actions and requires them to get peer review. In the event of controversy, at least 2/3s of the sysops must agree before action is taken. It seems most Wikipedian think sysops should be using more power, and are prepared to have 'trolls' (whatever that actually means) banned on sight! (see the voting at Wikipedia:Dealing with trolls)

open community polling is better[edit]

Response: The concern about open community polling is making justice into a form of entertainment. This should NOT be a form of entertainment and 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 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.

This policy will discourage consensus and encourage factionalisation among sysops[edit]

The necessity of having three sysops agree, and the voting aspect, encourages "block voting". This will encourage factionalism among sysops.

Response: This provides a forum for sharing evidence.

This policy will encourage further scaremongering[edit]

Sysops hungry for more power have been drumming up panic about a rising tide of trolling that doesn't exist. Supporting this policy will encourage them to keep doing it. There is no rising tide of trolling.

The problem is troll-baiting and troll hysteria, not trolls[edit]

Response: maybe... But the response to unproductive behaviour may be just as much of a problem as the behaviour. Some politeness and assumption of good faith will help, and we hope a process and clear rules will actually lower the temperature. Some of us with kids know when the rules are clear there is a lot less conflict. Ambiguity in the rules leads people to 'experiment', out of boredom, or frustration.

This makes it too hard for sysops to do anything[edit]

Some other policy should be passed that makes it even easier for sysops to act.

Response: This adds to sysops powers and doesn't actually take any away (please point us at the policy giving sysop powers that isn't already mentioned in the introduction, if we've missed one)

This is unnecessarilly complicated[edit]

Many online communities survive trolling without resorting to anything this complicated. A simpler solution would be better.

Response: Unfortunately justice is not simple. It sounds simple, but isn't. Although quite frankly, cutting and pasting a template onto a couple of pages, and adding a list of URLs to the offending behaviour is hardly a big ask. The procedure really is simple. Notice a problem user, warn them, tell others you're watching them, gather URLs to offending difs, warn them again if the problem persists, gather more URLs, everyone agrees, slap a block on. This is quick, fair and transparent. If tree-hugging, whale kissing, bleeding heart sysops bleet "no! they're not bad, they are just misunderstood", well the three gun toting no-nonsense type syspops just need to try and reach a consensus with those that disagree with them. As a worse case scenario, it is going to come down to a vote.

We don't need this, sysops are already accountable[edit]

"We already have checks and balences in place. A sysop who bans too frequently should and will be taken to task for it, and if they persist will have their syop privileges removed. That's the right way to do it. "

Response: There is lot of conflict, directed at sysops and between sysops, about the extent to which banning powers are being used. Some sysops take it upon themselves to ban problem users; others disagree with their choices. The community needs a set of procedures for deciding when bans are viable in cases that aren't simple vandalism, yet aren't acceptable behavior.

This makes it too hard to fight vandalism[edit]

By "vandalism" this complaint means folks acting in bad faith - real vandals - not the rather legalistic term of art used at wikipedia:Dealing with vandalism and elsewhere in our policies

The definition of disruptive and antisocial behaviour is too vague[edit]

Response:Yes the definitions are vague and subjective. Characterisations of human behaviour are, but feel free to clarify them further. Ultimately the subjectivity is resolved by putting the behaviour forward for consideration by a small group of sysops. If it's simple then... well its simple. If it is complicated, (and the people we are talking about will try to make it complicated) then more discussion and more votes are needed. The proposal provides a framework for the sysops to work through these issues in a logical and transparent way. By forcing the collection of the URLs to back up the decision it ultimately builds up a more robust and fairer set of boundaries

Disruptive editors will try to evade the guidelines and find new ways to disrupt[edit]

And if you change the guidelines, then you'll be changing the rules to retrospectively target troublemakers.

Response: Definitions can be changed, and new definitions added as needed. An adaptive definition is indeed a can of worms. A major benefit of this policy, is that it moves away an adaptive definition. This response is somewhat inconsistent.

Better to just fix the arbitration committee[edit]

This is not addressing a real problem. It seems like the only problem we are trying to solve is that the arbitration committee is sometimes slow to act. Maybe we should add more members to it, or maybe we could add committees below them to take cases which require immediate attention. The committees could even be geared toward different types of problem behavior, if it becomes that big of a problem.

Dealing with trolls is the job of the AC.

Response: The AC are currently unwilling or unable to deal with trolls. Remember this policy only deals with short blocks that are rapidly applied the AC can overrule them.

Have a long slow read through some recent Arbitration Committee requests to find lots n lots of examples of behaviour that it would have been nice to have curtailed earlier, or [1] (add your own favourite here) (I will be willing to name and show histories of several, just off the top of my head.) Could we have a few examples? Phil Gingrey. Nick Berg conspiracy theories. Plenty of others, I'm sure...

Many of us sympathise with these views, but have a look at the flurry of "troll polls". Many wikipedians are ready to let admins "shoot on sight". So if it is not a real problem it is definitely a perceived problem. The motivation is to give an alternative to summary justice and lynch mobs.

Voting is bad[edit]

"I don't like the "three sysops" provision. MeatBall:VotingIsEvil"

Response: "yes voting is bad and hopefully there will be consensus. The problem is at the momment there is no mechanism to deal with situations when the sysops vehemently disagree. Voting is surely better than mob rule, even if that is mob rule by the sysops... don't you think?"

False dilemma

Anarchy is better[edit]

Response: huh?

We should just give teeth to Wikipedia:No personal attacks[edit]

This policy does 50 things, but all we really need to do is give teeth to our existing policy on "no personal attacks". Since users are already blocked, without complaint, for making extreme and repeated personal attacks, this really just formalises and endorses existing actions.

Sysop groups[edit]

"Sysop groups kind of bother me. It seems like the effect of this is to reinstitute quickpolls as a method of banning and blocking users, only to restrict voting to sysops. I'd prefer to either let sysops ban or to use quickpolls to ban."

Response: Requiring three admins to vote before taking action is a safety mechanism. And three votes will accumulate much faster than it takes the AC to even consider taking on a case.

The idea of this policy is to enable rapid action on difficult behaviour. It is not a magic box that will make all controversy away. All it can do in controversy is gather the evidence. What happens from that point is, at least transparent. All admins that vote put their name on the record.

counting disruptive edits is too rigid[edit]

"None of the other Wikipedia policies have sentencing requirements or anything along those lines. None of the others involve counting edits."

Response: maybe. We've worked pretty hard to make these rigid rules as reasonable as possible. If we have rules we can put our hands on hearts and say "justice was done". Without them we will always have trouble justifying our action. We can either simplify, clarify or expand the rules down the track depending on experience. This is just a starting point.

Add more objections here[edit]

Mock Direction page[edit]

see (and please work on) a Mock Directions Page.

I thougth we could use it to explore examples and illustrate the mechanics of the policy Erich 23:00, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

non logged in users[edit]

I DO hope this is referring to logged-in users? This is totally unacceptable for anons, who hop from ID to ID and post and run. RickK 06:04, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)

good point. can't say I have much sympathy for anons myself. a question: when you block an IP address does this also stop users at that address from creating an account? or logging on to an existing one? Erich 06:09, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
remembering that dealing with vandalism is dealt with separately... we could treat anons under the same rules as reincarnations? how does that sound? Erich 06:54, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I strongly object to you and ricks POV's regarding anons. That said, I am perfectly willing to see them excluded from this policy. Even tho they are a disrespected and mistreated group, they are a separate class, and should have separate policy standards. In conclusion I think you both could be alot more understanding (speaking mainly to rick here) of our hardworking underclass. Sam [Spade] 07:05, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

geez Sam, these aren't a discriminated against "class"... Anybody can create an account and log in. It's not hard. Erich 09:02, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

This policy remains silent on non-logged in users. Personally I thing anons should be treated as reincarnations. What do others think? Erich 03:17, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

acting against consensus (reversion rule)[edit]

In my mind the best wording is still unresolved...

which is better, this:

"violation of neutral point of view, and engaging in multiple (more than three per 24 hour period) reversions or essentially the same text"


"violation of neutral point of view, and making edits known to be against a clear consensus"


The former is better. Sometimes a so-called "clear consensus" is wrong, because it ignores a good compromise that would be more neutral and satisfy everyone. Sometimes the only way to hammer this home is to be persistent about it. The latter is also prone to groupthink. Martin 23:38, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Explanation of my hasty opposition[edit]

This gives sysops additional authority. I don't think that can be avoided. But "Sysops are not imbued with any special authority, and are equal to everybody else in terms of editorial responsibility." Judgement calls should be made by people deemed to be good at judging, which is not part of the selection for administrators. "Current Wikipedia policy is to grant [admin] access liberally to anyone who has been an active Wikipedia contributor for a while and is generally a known and trusted member of the community." anthony (see warning) 14:20, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Thanks Anthony for this explanation, as your above post may apparently change at any time, let me respond to this statement:

"This gives sysops additional authority. I don't think that can be avoided. But "Sysops are not imbued with any special authority, and are equal to everybody else in terms of editorial responsibility." Judgement calls should be made by people deemed to be good at judging, which is not part of the selection for administrators. "Current Wikipedia policy is to grant [admin] access liberally to anyone who has been an active Wikipedia contributor for a while and is generally a known and trusted member of the community."

I accept your point about the admins not being chosen for theor judgement. However, it would be hard to argue that their judgement is worse than any quick poll participant. At the end of the day "somebody" has got to make these calls. In my mind this proposal is miles better than the summary justice of the troll polls. If this poll fails to get up then maybe the community will just go for lone ranger blocks without all the rules... I hope you can change your mind, but no hard feelings. best wishes Erich 19:46, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don't agree with troll polls either. Judgement calls should be made by those who were chosen for their skill at judging - the arbitrators. Lone ranger blocks, reviewable by the arbitration committee, would be better in my opinion. People generally are not held responsible for votes they make, so at least in a lone ranger block you'd have someone to blame. Not that I'm suggesting lone ranger blocks, except in emergency situations. Speaking of which, many of the given examples don't qualify as emergency situations. They can wait a week or even a month to be resolved through consensus, mediation, or arbitration.

In addition to the problem of this giving special authority to administrators, which violates longstanding written policy, I don't think blocks of longer than 24 hours are necessary. The purpose of these blocks I would think is for emergency situations where arbitration is not available, not for resolving the actual issues behind the behavior. 24 hours is plenty of time to diffuse the situation, and there is no reason the block cannot be repeated over and over again until the issue has been mediated or arbitrated, if the user refuses to cooperate. The overcomplication of this proposal will likely only increase trolling behavior.

If there are not enough arbitrators, we can add more. Alternatively, we could add subcommittees chosen to make judgement calls on certain behaviors, which can be appealed to the arbitrators in certain circumstances.

anthony (see warning) 20:07, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The voting formula makes it too hard to act at low numbers[edit]

I don't's a difficult one, because the policy makes sense when more votes are included, but is just far too harsh when less people were involved. I'm somewhat pessimistic about the number of people likely to vote in these, and I don't like the idea of one person practically being able to shoot action down unless a bunch more users are rustled up. Ambivalenthysteria 14:05, 24 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I dont share your pessimism AH. Every poll I've ever seen from quickpolls to RFA's to non straightforward VfD's has plenty of admins voting on it. I suspect we'll have little trouble getting votes for the easy cases (which is what this policy will be good at catching), the hard cases will probably IMO have loads of votes but if they don't get conmsensus then we can pass them over to the AC. Anyway we'll never be able to decide how many admins will vote by debating. This is a suck it and see situation, and there is nothing to stop us changing the numbers at a later date once we get the necessary experience of the policy in actiontheresa knott 23:35, 24 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I like the current formula, but maybe still an issue for a secondary question? Erich 03:17, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Blocked users should have a place to complain on wikipedia + 2 other issues[edit]

I tend to think that the whole trolling problem is a bit blown out of proportion, but since some users really are disruptive, I'm willing to support this for a trial period.

One issue I have with it is that blocked users can only complain to the admins, thus excluding the procedure from public view. IMO, there should be a page which even blocked users can edit and lodge their complaints. Abuses of this should be dealt with under "vandalism".

One minor issue I have i have is blocking on site by a single admin for repeated offenders, but this would be alleviated by the aforementioned idea. Another is continued block if a case is not accepted by ArbCom in a week. That means "guilty until judged innocent." I realize that answering to every complaint in certain time is sometimes hard, but that comes with the job. ArbCom should actively turn down cases, not let them expire. Zocky 13:20, 28 Jul 2004 (UTC)


votings over and I've made an archive. Can somebody please unlock the page now? ta! Erich 07:06, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)