User:Vanished user adhmfdfmykrdyr/Blocks on English Wikinews

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Ironholds wrote a summary of problems on English Wikipedia viewed through block logs in late April. This is nominally based on that research to the extent that it is inspired by it in terms of understanding blocking on English Wikinews.

As referenced on the WMF research list, the issue of blocking is potentially a very big deal for smaller projects. Problems can easily overwhelm a small community if there is not an active community patrolling recent changes in addition to the content work they are engaging in. For English Wikinews, there were 22 active reporters in January 2013. (This is tiny when SUL is a larger contributor to English Wikinews having 720,753 total registered users of which 0.00069% were active in January.) At the same time, there were 64 blocks made that month. 39 of these blocks were for spam. English Wikinews is one of the fortunate smaller projects: We have two local Check Users who respond quickly to problems. We generally have at least one admin awake and monitoring recent changes at any given time. We have global CUs who can and sometimes come in and block the big problems. Thus, we can deal with the automated problem quite easily.

Since English Wikinews has opened and 27 April 2013, there have been 15,105 un/blocks. The following is based on the complete block log. On the project, 4 types of block actions exist on English Wikinews: block, unblock, log action removed and changed block settings for. They all appear in the same block log, thus the 15,105 number is not total blocks but total block related action. (If you harass a user, get blocked for a week for it, get unblocked after promising to behave, get reblocked and then have your block extended, there are three distinct actions. If you do that with an offensive user name, the log action may be hidden, which is a fourth type of action.)

Since 2005, 99 different people have taken an administrative blocking action on English Wikinews. While there are currently only 36 admins on English Wikinews, the number used to be higher and local policy is if you do not use your admin privileges, you lose them. This is to prevent potential abuse and to make sure all admins are aware of current policy in order to prevent wheel-warring and other potentially damaging things to the community. Amgine has blocked the most users on the project with 7162 block related actions. Brian McNeil is second with 1522 related block actions. He has been less active in the past 18 months or so. Cirt is third with 723. Cirt is our most active local Check User. Pi zero is fourth with 503 block related administrative actions. Tempodivalse, who is no longer involved with the project, rounds out the top five with 487 block related administrative actions. Amongst the next five administrators with blocks, only one is actively involved on the administrator side, Cspurrier, who is also a Check User who is ranked seventh for total administrator block related actions with 343.

Who is getting blocked? There are 14,815 total entries identified to specific accounts where an administrative blocking account was acted upon the account, of which there were 12,643 unique accounts where administrative blocking related action was taken connected to the account. This means that there are 1,100 accounts with 2 or more administrative blocked related actions taken regarding them. There were a number of people with large numbers of block related administrator actions taken in relation to the account, including Neutralizer with 71, Simeon with 39, Mrmiscellanious with 35, PVJ59 with 23, DragonFire1024 with 17, Edbrown05 with 17, Amgine with 16, Brian McNeil, NGerda and International with 13 each, StrangerInParadise with 12, and,,,,, Harej, Ironiridis and MyName with 10 each. The total blocks by individual is a bit of a confirmation bias towards throw away spam/vandalism related accounts. It also suggests possibly a low tolerance for shenanigans on the project, with little tolerance for giving people who do not demonstrate they are there for the project to have multiple opportunities to learn until you realize that over half the total blocks are for open proxies.

How long are accounts getting blocked for? There are 150 different block lengths, though 47 of these are changes in block ending. This leaves only 103 total different block lengths. Most blocks are indefinite, accounting for 10,618 of all blocks. If you take the 7,926 open proxy related blocks in 2006 by Amgine out of the equation, this number looks much smaller at 2,692. Still, the next most common block length is 24 hours with 1,176. After this, there are 462 blocks for one week. There were 340 blocks for one day and 241 blocks for one year. Experienced Wikinews administrators are generally able to identify the obvious spammers, copyright violators and trolls. For the past two years after WN:Never assume became more enshrined as guided thinking in terms of administrating the project, there is less of need on the project to assume good faith on a number of these obvious spam accounts and obnoxious user names to see what they are doing. Pro-active blocking based on CU reports becomes a much more feasible options and reduces long term administrator burden by needing to monitor this behavior.

Total block actions by year on English Wikinews as of 27 April 2013.

When did the vast majority of blocks take place? 2006 when Amgine did a mass indefinite block on open proxies. That year, there were 7926 blocks. The second and third largest block years book ended that year, and includes the year the project was founded. Since then, the total blocks by year, with the exception of 2011 when there was a failed project fork, the block totals have remained relatively consistent and 2013 seems like it will hold to the same pattern of between 800 and 1000 blocks by the end of the year.

The thought that indefinite and longer blocks are on the rise when by year block lengths are looked at. The table below gives an idea of some of this for the block periods with at least 5 or more blocks in a year and with at least 5 years with at least one block of that length.

Block lengths by year
Block length/New block end date 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 day 391 259 147 128 50 69 47 63 22
1 day and 7 hours 0 3 7 8 7 5 0 0 0
1 hour 6 29 47 19 7 10 4 2 6
1 minute 1 4 0 8 0 1 0 0 0
1 week 50 62 24 37 51 75 38 87 38
10 minutes 6 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
12 hours 3 6 2 6 1 21 15 9 2
14 days 18 6 3 3 5 6 1 0 0
15 minutes 3 12 8 9 7 4 3 0 0
Indefinite 222 7102 760 397 656 434 408 470 169
181 days 9 3 4 2 0 12 3 2 1
2 hours 21 52 1 1 0 1 1 0 0
3 days 98 39 14 26 14 20 20 33 8
3 hours 3 22 61 20 4 16 6 4 1
3 years, 6 hours, 32 minutes and 24 seconds 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 7 0
90 days 4 4 2 12 9 22 23 34 15
365 days 7 6 1 9 3 10 22 168 15
2 days 2 31 24 40 25 26 13 11 6
31 days 61 31 5 10 12 10 5 2 1
30 minutes 2 6 3 0 1 0 1 0 0
4 hours 1 13 6 0 0 1 0 0 0

Out of a total of 15,104 blocks, reasons were identified for 14,473 of these blocks using the drop down categories as a guide. These categories include Open proxy, Vandalism, spam, Abusing multiple accounts, Unblock, Unacceptable username, Harassment, Not listed, Inserting nonsense/gibberish into pages, Bot, 3RR, Unknown and Copyright violation. Three groups should be taken out to better understand reasons why people are blocked including Unblock, Not listed (which includes reasons like "Stop being an arse!"), and Unknown (where it was also hard to identify the block rationale). These groups had 806, 181 and 629 total blocks respectively. Of the remaining block reasons, open proxy is the most common block rationale with 7,867 total blocks. The next four largest categories are largely related in that they are obvious problems by people not invested in working towards the goal of publish news: 2,213 vandalism related blocks, 1,331 spam related blocks, 991 abuse of multiple accounts/sockpuppeting blocks and 440 blocks for unacceptable user names. After this, we begin to get to more community centric internal related blocks with 248 blocks for harassment. The back to non-community related blocks with 175 for Inserting nonsense/gibberish into pages, and 130 for running unauthorized bots. A community centric problem with 77 blocks for 3RR, with 14 copyright violation related blocks rounding out block reasons.

Ironholds post strongly suggests that spam is a rising problem on English Wikipedia. While our totals suggest vandalism is a bigger problem, when block reasons are broken down by year, spam appears to be one of the biggest problems on English Wikinews. Year to April 27, there were 5 times more blocks for spam than any other blocking category on English Wikinews with 182. Inserting nonsense/gibberish into pages was second with 34. This is often connected to spam as it is bot generated garbage that lacks links. Vandalism and sock puppetry are much smaller comparative problems. Vandalism in the past used to be much, much easier but flagged revisions and an inability to edit past news (facts do not cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news. old news stories are archived and edit protected) makes it very difficult for random vandalism to occur. Instead, what does tend to get vandalized are user pages and user talk pages.

English Wikinews block by year

Changes in archiving policies may explain why 3RR, never a huge problem on Wikinews, ceased to be a problem by 2009 as the project has not had a 3RR block since 2008. Beyond that, the project maturing and a review process beginning to get formulated which assisted the community in working towards a shared goal may have also stopped the edit warring. Open proxy related blocks have also dropped down, with only 1 so far in 2013. Copyright violation related blocks have always been small, and are not a major problem. There has been a slight increase over time but they do not represent a significant problem in terms of scale. Harassment of users has declined as a blocking reason, with the drop off appearing to correlate some with the creation of the failed fork. This suggests that conflict decreased and left a core group of users less likely to engage in on English Wikinews conflict. Harassment block numbers dropping also correlate to unblock (0.59) with unblocks having dropped off after the review process began to be formulated.

Overall, the blocks on Wikinews reflect a community initially formulating itself, creating policies, shifts in participation and with most blocks now being longer and for activities that do not relate to community activities around the shared goal of publishing news stories.