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Nov 5th, 2013
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  1. I've noticed that there have been quite a few infinite IP bans on this site lately with no warning or discussion. As a wiki administrator for a few years during college and a witness of sites such as TV Tropes and Conservapedia suffering from controversy and coordinated attacks due to perceived administrative slights, I feel it would be helpful if I gave some tips.
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  3. First, since this site contains political material, I strongly recommend you disable editing without an account altogether. It's a win-win situation: most vandals are too lazy to register accounts and most valuable contributors will want to create an account anyway. Moderating people based solely on IP addresses is problematic for reasons I'll explain below.
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  5. The purpose of an administrator is to facilitate a conversation, not to prevent it. If the other person that has done something problematic is willing to talk, talk with them about their behavior. Wikipedia has a policy called "assume good faith", which is how an administrator should treat nearly every situation. If somebody edits a misconception into an article, explain what that misconception is and direct them to the relevant educational resources. If it isn't quite clear-cut, explain what they did wrong and make it public for any future editors of the page in question. Most people will learn from the experience and incorporate it into their editing.
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  7. That said, you will come across people that aren't willing to hold a conversation. The following are generally safe to ban right away:
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  9. 1) Spammers.
  10. 2) People that delete sizable sections of pages without explanation.
  11. 3) People requesting others to harass an individual or group, regardless of reason. Somebody calling for attacks against a misogynist are just as harmful as those calling for attacks against minorities.
  12. 4) The posting of personal information.
  13. 5) People carrying another user's off-site drama to this site.
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  15. It's vital to have very specific, objective actions when you ban somebody. "Trolling" is a vague action that can fit just about any behavior. "Reverting moderator edits" is a clear action.
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  17. If the user merely disagrees without being hostile about it and do nothing else related to their disagreement, leave them alone; they're deferring to your judgment. That is somebody you don't want to remove because it shows they're willing to listen, learn, and change their viewpoints over time. Those are the people you want to encourage to contribute. Most people react to perceived silencing with a reinforcement of their beliefs via attaching a purely emotional response rather than a rational one. If the purpose of the wiki is to educate people, that is counter-intuitive.
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  19. If they spread their misconception to other articles or start an edit war (which, incidentally, requires at least two reverts without discussion), give them a temporary ban no longer than a week. That's long enough for the strong-headed ones to cool down, realize what they're doing is wrong, and become better editors. If they resume their practices once the week-long ban expires, ban them for a month. If they resume after that month or try to evade their ban at any point, ban their account (and not their IP) permanently.
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  21. Whenever you're dealing with a problem user like this, I strongly recommend getting opinions from other administrators about their behavior just to make sure you're not bringing in biases or emotional responses to your actions. Nobody is a perfect judge at all times and diversity of opinions on how to handle a situation is crucial to maintaining a healthy climate.
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  23. IP bans are the nuclear option. Most ISPs either have a pool of IP addresses they rotate across or use NAT to allow hundreds of people to share one address. Universities and other academic facilities (i.e. the places with some of the brightest editors) usually share a single IP across hundreds of people. When you ban an IP address, you are banning everybody else that might use it. To this end, only ban an IP address when it's very clearly being used for ban evasion and never for longer than a month. It is absolutely vital you consult other administrators when you deliver an IP ban.
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  25. Most deliberate attackers will cycle IP addresses and won't attempt to reuse an address that was blocked, so all you're doing when you permanently ban an IP address is stopping any future editors unlucky to share it from ever contributing.
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  27. I'd recommend going down the entire list of IP bans from more than a week ago and removing them altogether. The same should be done for all the regular accounts that were banned, especially those that had valuable contributions before their ban.
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  29. I hope this helps you with creating and maintaining a healthy climate of discussion on this wiki. I apologize if any of this comes across as hostile or condescending, which is not my intent. Administration is very hard work and it's hard to maintain composure when dealing with people in general, but the reward of a healthy community open to discussion is its own reward.
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  31. Because of privacy concerns, I'm using Tor and won't be posting here again.
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