In certain circumstances it may be necessary for an admin to block a user or IP address in the best interests of the site. It is up to admins to use their discretion to decide when to block, and how long for, however for guidance:
When to block?
Admins can block users or IP addresses who:
- Vandalize articles
- Break the three revert rule
- Excessively and consistently break site policy. Admins should only do this as a last resort - efforts to educate must be made first, followed by warnings.
- Are trouble-makers who are not contributing to our goals.
- Are spammers or spambots.
For how long?
For vandalism and breaches of the three revert rule, admins should block for up to 24 hours. In other cases, admins should, in the first instances, consider the use of shorter blocks for first offenses, and only 24 hours or longer if truly necessary.
Spam accounts should be blocked indefinitely but talk page access allowed.
How to block
Admins can go to Special pages and select the "Block a user/IP address" link. This takes them to Special:Blockip, which has further instructions. Special:Blockip is also accessible via the [block] link that appears next to each user on recent changes.
Expiry times are entered in the GNU standard format (e.g. 12 hours, 2 days, 1 month). Alternatively, a block may be "indefinite" or "infinite", meaning the block is permanent, until an admin explicitly unblocks the account.
If you don't enter an expiry time, you will see an error message.
Other possible blocking situations
Admins may, at their judgement, block IP addresses or usernames that disrupt the normal functioning of Wikinews. Such disruption may include changing other users' signed comments, being incivil to newcomers or making deliberately misleading edits. Users should be warned that they are violating policy before they are blocked. For dynamic IPs, such blocks should last 24 hours. For static IPs and user names, such blocks should initially last 24 hours, but repeat violators may be blocked progressively longer, up to 30 days.
Admins may also block new user accounts that make lots of disruptive edits, for any length of time or permanently, at their discretion. Sockpuppets that were created to violate Wikinews policy should be blocked permanently. However, blocks should not be used against isolated incidents of disruption from IP addresses nor against user accounts that make a mixture of disruptive and useful edits.
Reincarnations of blocked disruptive users will be reblocked if they continue being disruptive, or if they edit in a way which suggests they are likely to continue being disruptive—such as "YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!11!!" or "JOIN ME IN MY FIGHT TO DESTRY WIKINEWS!1!!1!!"
According to our username policy, inflammatory, deliberately confusing, and other inappropriate usernames are not allowed, and in certain circumstances, admins may block accounts with such usernames.
Admins can force a name change by blocking the username (with an expiry time of infinite).
Care should be taken to unblock the user's IP address if they attempt to edit again. To unblock the IP but not the username, wait until the user next tries to edit a page, and something like Autoblocked because your IP address has been recently used by OldUserName will appear at Special:Ipblocklist. Click "unblock" next to the #number. Then the user can log in under their new name.
If an account has been blocked both for vandalism and for having an inappropriate username, the IP should be left auto-blocked.
Usernames that are designed to impersonate legitimate users may be blocked immediately and indefinitely. The IP address of these users should be left autoblocked. Accounts and IP addresses that illegitimately use another account's name in their signature should be warned first, and then can be blocked.
Please be sure that the account is a malicious impersonator before blocking it; someone might choose a name similar to that of another user without any ill intent. Use common sense. If the suspected impersonators are vandalizing, flaming other users, or otherwise acting with malice, then they should be blocked immediately. If they are making legitimate edits, they should be told of the possible confusion and encouraged to change usernames.
Wikinews policy is that accounts with a specific name, but created for general public use by multiple people (password freely available), are not to be used. These are seen as pretending to a reputation as an individual within the Wikinews project, while masking anonymity. Public accounts are not considered necessary because anonymous users can edit freely, and anyone can quickly create a username without even an email address being required.
Examples include any account where the owner posts the password for public use. These may be blocked on sight indefinitely, with the block message pointing out that public accounts are not needed.
As an alternative, when confirming that the password is public, it is quite simple and often creates less fuss to just go into Special:Preferences and change the password. This makes the password no longer public, and can also be done by anyone, not just an administrator.
Admins may block on sight any bot that appears to be out of control. Initial blocks should last 24 hours, which should be sufficient time to allow the operator of the bot to respond.
Anonymous and open proxies
Administrators are permitted and encouraged to block the IP addresses of anonymous proxies indefinitely . See the entire thread for discussions about the legitimacy of using an anonymous proxy to edit Wikinews. Such blocks are routine and uncontroversial.
Personal attacks which place users in danger
Blocks may be imposed in instances where threats have been made or actions performed (including actions outside the Wikinews site) which expose other Wikinews editors to political, religious or other persecution by government, their employer or any others. In such a case a ban for a period of time may be applied immediately by any admin upon discovery. Admin applying such sanctions should confidentially notify other Administrators and Jimbo Wales of what they have done and why. See No personal attacks.
When blocking may not be used
Use of blocks to gain advantage in a content dispute is prohibited. Likewise, users should not block those with whom they are currently engaged in conflict.
Admins should not block themselves (to enforce a "vacation" on themselves, for instance) because the resultant "autoblock" may affect other users (see Effects of being blocked, below), unless they know what they're doing (i.e., they have a static IP).
Effects of being blocked
Blocked users can still see all Wikinews pages, but the "Edit this page" link brings up a "User is blocked" page which explains the reason behind the block and gives information on how to request unblocking. This page includes the "reason" message supplied by the administrator who placed the block. Links and template includes all work as normal in the "reason" section.
The duration of the block depends on the expiry time that was entered at the time of the block, which may be "indefinite" or "infinite" (i.e., until explicitly unblocked).
When a blocked user attempts to edit, the IP address from which they are editing is "autoblocked," so that they may not make the same edit anonymously or under a different user name. There is an internal autoblock expiry time variable, which is set to 24 hours, meaning that when a username is blocked indefinitely, their IP address will be automatically unblocked 24 hours after they last accessed a page.
Note that blocking does not in any way restrict any feature other than normal article editing: normal users can still read articles, as well as adjust their watchlists and user preferences. Administrators and bureaucrats can continue to use all of their respective features: add and remove blocks, roll back vandalism, make someone an admin, etc. If an admin or bureaucrat is blocked for a content dispute (such as the three revert rule), he should be careful not to use these abilities in relation to the article or articles in question, as a temporary revocation of administrator access ("de-admining") is the only way to ensure that this does not continue.
Occasionally, users with dynamic IPs will find that they have been blocked accidentally, because their present IP address was previously used by a vandal or hard-banned user. These blocks will disappear if they can force a change their IP address. If that is not possible, the block should be reported to the nearest friendly admin via the IRC chat room (link at top of all pages) or by email - see the list of administrators for some likely candidates.
Range blocks are sometimes used when a vandal or disruptive user has been IP blocked on several occasions but responds by using a different IP address. In most cases, range blocks will affect at least some legitimate users. Therefore, range blocks should only be used when the disruptive behavior is frequent and severe enough to make other methods ineffective. This is a matter of judgement, and the likely number of legitimate users that might be affected should be considered.
When used, range blocks should be as brief as possible.
The range block feature is difficult to use correctly because it requires an understanding of binary arithmetic. It has certain limitations inherent in its implementation, requiring the starting and ending addresses to be an exact multiple of the distance between them, which must be a power of two. For details, see Range blocks.
In many instances guidance should be sought from a user with the CheckUser privilege prior to applying a range block. They will be able to establish if the proposed block will impact any legitimate users.
Special:Ipblocklist contains a list of all currently blocked users and IPs. Admins will see a link to (unblock) next to each user. After clicking this, you should type in the reason that you are unblocking the user and then click the Unblock this address button. If an admin feels they were not blocked for a valid reason, the safest course is to contact the blocking admin, another admin, or the mailing list and ask to be unblocked.
Admins may unblock users if:
- They were blocked in violation of this policy.
- The reason for blocking no longer applies.
- The block has lasted too long.
- In other appropriate cases
There are no hard and fast guidelines on unblocking, hence the "in other appropriate cases" guidance. Admins must use their common sense and good judgement. However, similar to the three revert rule, an admin must not unblock a user more than three times within a 24 hour period. An unblocking war is more harmful than an edit war or a revert war.
A user may add Template:Unblock to his/her talk page once they have been blocked to appeal a controversial block. The appeal should concisely explain why the block should be lifted and how similar situations leading to the block will be avoided in the future. Under no circumstances should a user send private, personal information to an administrator as part of their unblock appeal.