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In any wiki, including ours, blocking is an action carried out by administrators which is used to prevent disruptive contributions from being made to MicroWiki and its Forum. A blocked editor, IP address or an entire range of IP addresses is unable to edit the wiki or post on the forum for either a definite or indefinite amount of time, but still has full access to read the entire site and may still be able to edit their talk page. In some rare cases, the IP address or the range of addresses aren't even allowed to view the site.
Blocking is an action that can only be implemented by the MicroWiki Staff, but can be proposed by any user. If a MicroWiki user believes that a block is needed, a request can be made on the community portal or on the forums which will then be discussed by the admins and sometimes by the community at large. In cases where immediate action is needed, users are allowed and encouraged to contact the admins on their respective talk pages, e-mail or Skype accounts, or another available direct means of communication.
Blocking is only considered to be an appropriate measure when a user or IP address has repeatedly made contributions that are clearly disruptive to the site or to other contributors to the site. Examples of blockable offences include, but are not limited to: vandalism, spam, sockpuppeting, personal attacks or threats, edit warring, repeatedly posting copyrighted or plagiarised material, or otherwise violating site policies. Blocking is not an appropriate measure in cases such as disagreements over a page's contents or format unless the user resorts to edit warring.
If you feel that you have been improperly blocked, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed through an appeal.
Blocking an account
The steps that are usually taken in response to blockable offences are:
- Warn: If a user commits a blockable offence, even unknowingly, a warning is generally placed on the user's talk page before implementing any block. This warning should include a clear statement that continuing the offensive actions will lead to a block but should also serve as advice to prevent a block in future.
- Temporary block: If the user continues to commit blockable offences after a warning has been posted, a block of the account should be implemented by an administrator. This block can last from a couple of hours to several days, depending on the gravity of the user's actions. A new message should be posted on the user's talk page providing the reason for the block after it has been implemented. Repeated offences following the expiration of a temporary block can result in either another temporary block or a permanent block depending on the severity of the disruption.
- Permanent block, also known as a ban: If severely disruptive edits resume after the temporary block has expired, the account may be permanently blocked. A message to that effect should be added to the editor's talk page, providing an explanation for why the block was necessary. The admins may also prevent the blocked user from viewing the wiki or the Forum if deemed necessary.
Although this is the general process which admins go through, the staff also has the right to bypass one or more steps at their discretion. This is generally done when, for instance:
- Some users are in the process of vandalising multiple pages on the site. If an administrator believes that there is a strong possibility that more vandalism is imminent, a block is warranted to prevent any more damage to the site. The block should be a temporary block, typically 12-48 hours and the expiration of the block should be set for a time when the administrator knows that they will be able to monitor the site in case activity resumes, or when other admins will be there. An explanation should be posted on the user talk page, along with a warning that the account will be permanently blocked if the disruptive activity resumes.
- An anonymous IP address is being used solely for the purpose of posting spam, and has posted spam on more than one occasion. Spam results in a quick and permanent block without any warning or temporary ban. This action is reserved for cases of unambiguous spam, such as when posting multiple links for the purpose of advertising something completely unrelated to micronationalism.
- An anonymous IP address is identified as an open proxy or zombie computer. These are immediately and permanently blocked without warning. This is done because such proxies can be used to circumvent restrictions placed on existing blocked users, also known as ban evasion. Open proxies can be easily found by searching on Google for posted lists of identified open proxies.
- An account is created with an unacceptable username, including ones that contain obscenities or ones that attempt to impersonate other users. In the case of the former, the account itself may be deleted. When blocking, the administrator should be sure to uncheck the box "Prevent account creation". The editor should be informed on their talk page that the account was blocked because the name was inappropriate but that if they wish to contribute to the wiki or the forum they may create a new account with a more acceptable name.
Given the creativity demonstrated by past vandals, it is very likely that in the future other unanticipated situations may arise in which the three-step process needs to be bypassed. Although a decision to block an account should not be made lightly, the administrators have full authority to block an account if they feel that it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the site. When blocking an account, the admin should attempt to provide a concise explanation for the block in the "reason" section.
Other reasons for blocking
Apart from the general cases covered above, other reasons for blocking include:
- persistent copyright violation, including the unauthorised plagiarism of Wikipedia or other websites;
- harassment, both privately and publicly;
- gross incivility;
- persistent personal attacks
- personal, professional or legal threats;
- actions that place users in danger;
- edit warring;
- ban evasion;
- accounts that appear to have been compromised (as an emergency measure);
- accounts used exclusively for disruptive purposes, such as vandalism;
- public accounts; and
- other behaviour deemed disruptive at the discretion of an admin.
Blocked accounts are generally still able to view all pages on the site. These accounts are also usually able to edit their user talk page, which is made available for edits so that the user can ask for clarification about why the block was implemented or can appeal the block. Administrators or other users will respond to any reasonable questions that are posted on a blocked user's talk page. However, it is advised to simply ignore any comments posted by a blocked user that are likely intended to bait a heated discussion.
All warnings and blocking notices are posted on the user talk page to ensure that the editor is aware of the message, as any message will cause a bright orange message to appear the next time they access any wiki page, so even users who are not familiar with the wiki system are provided clear notification.
If a blocked user continues to disrupt their talk page (e.g. posts abusive comments or other clearly inappropriate material, attempts to tamper with official messages etc.), it may be necessary to protect the talk page to completely prevent the user's continued unacceptable behaviour.
Appealing a block
Any blocked user can appeal the block, by adding a request for an appeal to their user talk page or by registering an account on the forums and posting in the Helpdesk. You should refrain from creating a new account on the wiki itself to appeal as this is considered ban evasion. An administrator or other user can then initiate a discussion of the case and registered users who satisfy the requirements are free to contribute to the discussion. After at least a week of discussion, the administrators will attempt to gauge consensus.
When appealing a block, the blocked user should include some reasons justifying the appeal. The initial appeal is the blocked user's main opportunity to address the Community that will make the decision. Appeals that address the following questions are more likely to succeed:
- Why do you need the ability to edit (not just read) wiki pages?
- What pages are you considering editing in the near future?
- Can you provide concrete examples of some revisions you would like to make? Provide the actual paragraphs you would like to add, or a rewritten version of any paragraphs that you believe need to be revised.
The first appeal made by any blocked account will always be put to a community discussion, using the above procedure. However, repeated appeals made by the same account will usually be ignored unless the new appeal provides substantial new information, such as concrete examples of proposed contributions to the wiki.
If an appeal is successful and the community feels that the contributor should be allowed to edit the wiki or post on the Forum, the contributor will be unbanned.