PhysicsWiki:Banning policy

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A Physicswiki ban is a formal revocation of editing privileges on one or more Physicswiki pages. Though a Physicswiki ban may extend to the entire project, it is usually limited to an article ban or a topic ban. A ban may be temporary or permanent. The standard Physicswiki invitation to "edit this page" does not apply to banned editors.

Typically, editors are banned as an outcome of the dispute resolution process.

Banning should not be confused with blocking, which is a technical mechanism used to prevent an account or IP address from editing Physicswiki. While blocks are one mechanism used to enforce bans, they are most often used to deal with vandalism and violations of the three-revert rule. A ban does not, in itself, disable an editor's ability to edit any page. However, editors who violate a ban may have their account access blocked entirely, as a way of enforcing the ban.

Types of ban

Site ban

Unless otherwise specified, a ban is a site ban. A site banned editor is forbidden from making any edit, anywhere on Physicswiki, via any account or as an unregistered user, under any and all circumstances. The only exception is that editors with talk page access may appeal in accordance with the provisions below.

Article and page ban

An article ban forbids an editor from editing a specific article or a set of articles. The text of the ban should state whether the ban includes or excludes the article's talk page. Editors subject to an article ban are free to edit other related pages or discuss the topic elsewhere on Physicswiki.

When the word "page" is used in a ban it means any page on Physicswiki whatsoever. "Article" usually refers only to mainspace pages. If any other related pages (such as the page's talk page) are to be covered it will usually be stated explicitly.

Topic ban

The purpose of a topic ban is to forbid an editor from making edits related to a certain topic area where their contributions have been disruptive, but to allow them to edit the rest of Physicswiki. Unless clearly and unambiguously specified otherwise, a topic ban covers all pages (not only articles) broadly related to the topic, as well as the parts of other pages that are related to the topic. For example, if an editor is banned from the topic "weather", they are not only forbidden to edit the article Weather, but also everything else that has to do with weather, such as:

  • weather-related articles such as Wind and Rain, including their talk pages;
  • weather-related project pages, such as WikiProject Meteorology;
  • weather-related parts of other pages, even if the pages as a whole have little or nothing to do with weather: the section entitled "Climate" in the article New York, for example, is covered by the topic ban, but the rest of the article is not;
  • discussions or suggestions about weather-related topics anywhere on Physicswiki (including edit summaries), for instance a deletion discussion concerning an article about a meteorologist.

Interaction ban

The purpose of an interaction ban is to stop a conflict between two or more editors that cannot be otherwise resolved from getting out of hand and disrupting the work of others. Although the editors are generally allowed to edit the same pages or discussions as long as they avoid each other, they are banned from interacting with each other in any way. For example, if editor X is banned from interacting with editor Y, editor X is not permitted to:

  • edit editor Y's user and user talk space;
  • reply to editor Y in discussions;
  • make reference to or comment on editor Y anywhere on Physicswiki, whether directly or indirectly; or
  • undo editor Y's edits to any page (whether by use of the revert function or by other means).

Exceptions to limited bans

  • Unless stated otherwise, restricted editors may revert obvious vandalism (such as replacing a page with obscenities) or obvious violations of the policy about biographies of living persons. The key word is "obvious", that is, cases in which no reasonable person could possibly disagree.
  • Legitimate and necessary dispute resolution, that is, addressing a legitimate concern about the ban itself in an appropriate forum. Examples include asking an administrator to take action against a violation of an interaction ban by the other party (but normally not more than once), asking for necessary clarifications about the scope of the ban, or appealing the ban for a good reason.

Decision to ban

See also: Physicswiki:List of banned users. Note the absence of a name from this list does not mean that a ban does not exist.

The decision to ban an editor can arise from various sources:

  1. The Physicswiki community can decide, by consensus, to impose a ban. Community banning discussions generally take place at the administrators' noticeboard or a subpage thereof.
  2. The Arbitration Committee can use a ban as a remedy, usually following a request for arbitration.
  3. The Arbitration Committee may delegate the authority to ban an editor, such as by authorizing discretionary sanctions in certain topic areas, which can be imposed by any uninvolved administrator. See also Mentorship, arbitration enforcement.
  4. Jimbo Wales retains the authority to ban editors.
  5. The Physicswiki Foundation has the authority to ban editors, though it has rarely exercised this authority on the English Physicswiki.

Except as noted above, individual editors, including administrators, may not directly impose bans.

Community bans and restrictions

The community, through consensus, may impose various types of sanctions upon editors who have exhausted the community's patience:

  • If an editor has proven to be repeatedly disruptive in one or more areas of Physicswiki, the community may engage in a discussion to site ban, topic ban, or place an interaction ban or editing restriction via a consensus of editors who are not involved in the underlying dispute.[1] When determining consensus, the closing administrator will assess the strength and quality of the arguments.
  • In some cases the community may have discussed an indefinite block and reached a consensus of uninvolved editors not to unblock the editor. Editors who remain indefinitely blocked after due consideration by the community are considered "banned by the Physicswiki community".

Community sanctions may be discussed on the Physicswiki:Administrators' noticeboard. Discussions may be organized via a template to distinguish comments by involved and uninvolved editors, and to allow the subject editor to post a response. Sanction discussions are normally kept open for at least 24 hours to allow time for comments from a broad selection of community members. If the discussion appears to have reached a consensus for a particular sanction, an uninvolved administrator notifies the subject accordingly. The discussion is then closed, and the sanction should be logged at the appropriate venue, usually Physicswiki:Editing restrictions or Physicswiki:List of banned users.

Bans by administrators under Arbcom delegation

Administrators are authorised with regards to a small number of topic areas to apply sanctions to an editor whose conduct is problematic. This provision is called discretionary sanctions, and is described in detail at Physicswiki:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions.

Recidivism may lead to a ban

In a 2012 case, the Arbitration Committee has ruled that "Users who have been sanctioned for improper conduct are expected to avoid repeating it should they continue to participate in the project. Failure to do so may lead to the imposition of increasingly severe sanctions."[2]

Duration of bans

Bans are not intended as a short-term measure. Sometimes a ban may be for a fixed period of some months. More often no period is specified, because the ban is a decision that the editor may not edit or participate in the specified matters on this site.

Review and reversal of bans

Appeals and discussions

Bans imposed by the community may be appealed to the community or to the Arbitration Committee ( Editors who have been banned indefinitely by the Arbitration Committee may appeal to the Committee after one year, unless a shorter minimum period is specified in the Arbitration Committee motion or remedy.

  • Editors who are banned from a topic area or certain pages but can otherwise edit, may appeal (and comment in a discussion) on-wiki, either at the administrators' noticeboard or at requests for arbitration.
  • Editors who cannot edit any page except their talk page may:
  • Post an appeal or comment there and ask (by email or other off-site means) for it to be reposted to the appropriate discussion. This is a voluntary act, and should not be abused or used to excess.
  • Or may appeal by email directly to the Arbitration Committee.
  • Editors unable to edit any page (even their talk page) should appeal or make any statement by email or other off-wiki means, to an administrator, an arbitration clerk, or a member of the committee and ask for that to be filed on their behalf.

In some cases, a banned editor may be unblocked for the purpose of filing an appeal. In such cases, editing of any unrelated page or other matter is grounds for immediate re-blocking.

Any editor (such as a prior victim of harassment) who may be affected by a possible ban appeal should be informed, so that he or she can participate in the ban review.

While any arbitration decision may be nominally appealed to Jimbo Wales, it is exceedingly unusual for him to intervene.

Reversal of bans

Administrators are prohibited[3] from reversing or overturning (explicitly or in substance) any action taken by another administrator pursuant to the terms of an active arbitration remedy, and explicitly noted as being taken to enforce said remedy, except:

(a) with the written authorization of the Committee; or
(b) following a clear, substantial, and active community consensus to do so.

Administrator-imposed bans arising from an arbitration case should be appealed at the arbitration enforcement noticeboard. If there is a dispute or question related to the interpretation of a ruling, its scope, or any other point of understanding, then a request for clarification or appeal may be filed with the Arbitration Committee.

Evasion and enforcement

Physicswiki's approach to enforcing bans balances a number of competing concerns:

  • Maximizing the quality of the encyclopedia
  • Avoiding inconvenience or aggravation to any victims of mistaken identity
  • Maximizing the number of editors who can edit Physicswiki
  • Avoiding conflict within the community over banned editors
  • Dissuading or preventing banned editors from editing Physicswiki or the relevant area of the ban

As a result, enforcement has a number of aspects. While all editors are expected to respect the enforcement of policies by not undermining or sabotaging them, no editor is personally obligated to help enforce any ban.

Bans apply to all editing, good or bad

Editors are only site-banned as a last resort, usually for extreme or very persistent problems that have not been resolved by lesser sanctions and that often resulted in considerable disruption or stress to other editors. A ban is not merely a request to avoid editing "unless they behave". The measure of a site ban is that even if the editor were to make good edits, permitting them to re-join the community poses enough risk of disruption, issues, or harm, that they may not edit at all, even if the edits seem good.[4]

A number of banned editors have used "good editing" (such as anti-vandalism edits) tactically, to try and game the banning system, "prove" they cannot be banned, or force editors into the paradox of either allowing banned editing or removing good content. Even if the editor only makes good edits they will be rebanned for evasion.[5]

On very rare occasions a limited exception may be requested, for example to participate in a particular discussion.[6]

If there is any doubt whether a limited ban prohibits any specific edit, the banned editor should assume that it does, unless whoever imposed the ban expressly clarifies that it does not. If clarification is not sought before making the edit, the banned editor assumes the risk that an administrator takes a broader view of the scope of the ban and enforces it with a block or other sanction.


In the case of project-wide bans, the primary account of any banned editor may be entirely blocked for the duration of the ban.

If the banned editor creates sock puppet accounts to evade the ban, these usually will be blocked as well. When evasion is a problem, the IP address of a banned editor who edits from a static IP address may also be blocked for the duration of the ban. If a banned editor evades the ban from a range of addresses, short-term IP blocks may be used. Typically, these last 24 hours.

Reset of ban following evasion

It is customary for the "ban timer" to be reset or extended if a banned editor attempts to edit in spite of the ban. No formal consideration is typically necessary. For example, if someone is banned for ten days, but on the sixth day attempts to evade the ban, then the ban timer may be reset from "four days remaining" to "ten days remaining", so if the editor does not subsequently evade the ban again, his or her eventual total duration would be 16 days. Repeated evasion may lead to a longer or more serious sanction.

An editor who has been banned or has had their account blocked, and tries to evade this by creating a new account, is known as a reincarnation of the old account. Obvious reincarnations are easily dealt with — the account is blocked and contributions are reverted or deleted, as discussed above. See sock puppet for policy on dealing with unclear cases.

Edits by and on behalf of banned editors

Anyone is free to revert any edits made in defiance of a ban. By banning an editor, the community has determined that the broader problems, due to their participation, outweigh the benefits of their editing, and their edits may be reverted without any further reason. This does not mean that obviously helpful edits (such as fixing typos or undoing vandalism) must be reverted just because they were made by a banned editor, but the presumption in ambiguous cases should be to revert.

Physicswikins in turn are not permitted to post or edit material at the direction of a banned editor (sometimes called proxy editing or proxying) unless they are able to confirm that the changes are verifiable and they have independent reasons for making them.

Sock puppetry policy defines "meatpuppetry" as the recruitment of new editors to Physicswiki for the purpose of influencing or editing on a Physicswiki matter. This is forbidden, and new accounts which engage in the same behavior as a banned editor or blocked account in the same context, and who appear to be editing Physicswiki solely for that purpose, are subject to the remedies applied to the editor whose behavior they are imitating.[7][8]

Enforcement by reverting

When reverting edits, care should be taken not to reinstate material that may be in violation of such core policies as neutrality, verifiability, and biographies of living persons. Editors who reinstate edits made by a banned editor take complete responsibility for the content.

It is not possible to revert newly created pages, as there is nothing to revert to. Accordingly, pages created by banned editors are eligible for speedy deletion. Any editor can use the template {{db-g5}}, or its alternative name {{db-banned}}, to mark such a page. If editors other than the banned editor have made good-faith contributions to the page or its talk page, it is courteous to inform them that the page was created by a banned editor, and then decide on a case-by-case basis what to do.

User pages

Banned editors' user and user talk pages should be updated with a notice of the ban, linking to any applicable discussion or decision-making pages. The purpose of this notice is to announce the ban to editors encountering the banned editor's edits. Indefinitely site-banned editors may be restricted from editing their user talk page or using e-mail.

Further enforcement measures

Serious, ongoing ban evasion is sometimes dealt with by technical means or by making an abuse complaint with the operator of the network from which the edits originate.

Other considerations

Conduct towards banned editors

Physicswiki's hope for banned editors is that they will leave Physicswiki or the affected area with their pride and dignity intact, whether permanently or for the duration of their ban. It is unacceptable to take advantage of banned editors, whether by mocking, baiting, or otherwise abusing them.

Scope and reciprocity

The English-language Physicswiki does not have authority over the Meta-Wiki, Physicswiki sister projects, or Physicswikis in languages other than English. As such, bans issued by the Physicswiki community or by the Arbitration Committee are not binding on other projects.

Reciprocal recognition of bans is an unsettled area of policy, in part because of the relative rarity of cases in which a banned editor attempts to join another project.

Difference between bans and blocks

Policy shortcuts:

The standard distinction is that a ban is a social decision about the right to edit; a block is a technically-imposed enforcement setting.

The MediaWiki software does not have the ability to selectively prevent editing.[9] Editors who are banned from specific pages or topics must immediately cease editing these. If they do not, then a block will be used to enforce the ban. Such a block will necessarily prevent their editing of the entire site, but they are not banned from the site and remain members of the community.

An editor who is "site banned" (which may sometimes be described as a "full ban") has been completely ejected from the project. For the duration of their ban they are no longer considered a member of the editing community, which affects how their actions are treated.

(including "indefinite blocks")
Page/topic banned Site banned
Still a member of the community? Yes, although currently unable to edit Yes No
Access to own talk page? Usually allowed unless abused Yes Usually not allowed
Imposing of block/ban May be imposed by any uninvolved admin May only be imposed by the Arbitration Committee, Jimbo Wales, the Physicswiki Foundation (or uninvolved users specifically authorized by one of these), or by community consensus. In the event an indefinitely blocked editor has continued to be disruptive and no administrator is willing to unblock, they are considered de facto banned.
Content created during block or ban
(by the user or by someone acting on their behalf)
Edits by the editor or on his behalf may be reverted without question (exceptions), and any pages that have been created by the editor where he is the only substantial contributor may be speedily deleted under CSD#G5. Edits by the editor or on his behalf that are clearly within the topic area may be reverted without question (exceptions), and any pages clearly within the topic area that have been created by the editor where he is the only substantial contributor may be speedily deleted under CSD#G5. If there is any reasonable doubt as to whether the page falls within the topic ban, discussion prior to deletion is generally warranted. Edits by the editor or on his behalf may be reverted without question (exceptions), and any pages that have been created by the editor where he is the only substantial contributor may be speedily deleted under CSD#G5.

See also


  1. The community sanction noticeboard which was created for such a purpose is now inactive
  3. See this case
  4. Examples of use at Requests for Arbitration: - by Hersfold, by Newyorkbrad, by Vassyana (line 478+) (A ban is a ban. It's not uncommon for people to make "good" edits to create a soapbox for disputing their ban and/or thumbing their nose at the project. Let's not enable them).
  5. For example this case.
  6. For example this motion where a topic-banned editor was allowed to participate in Featured Content discussions of his (non-contentious) diagrams.
  7. Physicswiki:Requests for arbitration/Agapetos angel#Meatpuppets
  8. See also: Physicswiki:Tag team
  9. Although simple page bans could be implemented in software, there is no easy way for software to determine whether an editor is editing in violation of other kinds of ban - on a given topic or issue, interacting with a given editor, or many other kinds of nuanced behavior. Bans often require human judgment.

External links