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Are global bans the last step?

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By Lemonaka

This article attempts to explore what can happen after global bans, what new situations arise, what dilemma does the community face, and how to deal with off-wiki harassment.

A case

PlanespotterA320, a former trusted sysop from Uzbek Wikipedia, through persistent sock-puppetry introduced unreliable contents into articles, harassed other Wikipedians off-wiki, trolled and so on. She was first banned by global community on 24 February 2023, then by the Wikimedia Foundation on 17 March. After being banned, she continued to recruit meatpuppets on Reddit to defame and harass others on and off wiki.

Coincidentally Projects, also known as the "George Reeves Person", has been banned since 18 October 2018. Using a variety of IPs, he still continues to intimidate other Wikipedians on English Wikiquote, Wikipedia, and various off-wiki sites.

When such problems arise, are global bans truly the last step?

A dilemma

Wikipedia's policy recommends that legal threats should not be resorted to when faced with legally relevant issues, and the highest resolution the Wikimedia Foundation can achieve is a global ban. After global bans, some communities smoothed over the disaster caused by those disruptors (see a related case about the Croatian Wikipedia). But other disruptors continued to mess around in and out of communities after being banned, causing more and more troubles.

Filters, blocks, article deletions, rev deletions, check users and page protections. These are the ways that some of us, Wikipedians, can deal with these unruly, global banned bad guys. Outing, defamation, intimidation, threats, and even physical attacks, those are what those bad guys can use against us. There is a huge gap between the impact of these two. While the disruptors may be blocked or banned locally (or even globally), it might not be enough to stop them. Regular editors can have very unpleasant experiences, especially if their public identity is known.

Maybe a solution?

After some research, I found that someone had tried to contact the authorities to deal with issues concerning long-term abuser Nipponese Dog Calvero, also known as KAGE. After being repeatedly harassed by KAGE, someone tried to contact the police and the courts for help. The outcome is unknown, but at least for now KAGE is no longer trying to threaten or intimidate other Wikipedians. After being repeatedly harassed by Project, there were also some sysops who contacted the police. This, at least, allowed these disruptors to stop their activities for a period of time and made them realize that their actions may have some adverse effects on themselves.

Of course, this is not to encourage Wikipedians to resort to legal threats when faced with all kinds of matters. When faced with most content disputes, there is no problem with the cycle shown in BOLD, revert, discuss. There are many of noticeboards being set up, such as Dispute Resolution, Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents or Administrators' noticeboard/Edit warring and even Arbitration Committee to help solve your disputes. Even if all of these processes fail, like in the Croatian Wikipedia when it was dominated by "ideologically driven users who are misaligned with Wikipedia's five pillars", you can still go to Metawiki and make a request for comments.

In addition, seeking legal help should not be an act of intimidation to others, but a kind of protection of one's own reputation and safety. It's not about telling other editors, or even disruptors that "Agree with me or face the police and government." Doing so will only lead to common editors offended, trolls fed, and situation downgraded. Instead, when you face intimidation, outing, threats of harm and so on, first contact the Wikimedia Foundation, then, when necessary, call the police with the an accurate description of the problem.


Under normal circumstances, these vandals will use various methods to protect their identities from legal claims, including using varieties of open proxies, fake user agents or fraudulent identities. Second, transnational lawsuits are often quite complex. In some countries, disputes and even threats on the Internet are far from enough for the authorities to take action.

So, does that means we shouldn't ask for offline help? Obviously not. The first sentence in WP:EMERGENCY is If you are in immediate danger, call your local emergency services. Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikipedia community can try a block, or even a global ban, which might stop the disruptors immediately. But online issues are ultimately online, anyone can shut down their laptop or leave Wikipedia without any side effects. But offline personal safety may affect you, the editor in reality, a lot.

I also hope that there will be fewer and fewer situations that require public power to intervene in the future, which marks that the Wikimedia project is developing in an increasingly calm and civil way. But unfortunately, Wikimedia projects must be open as they can be edited by the public. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can edit them. So, there is still a long and hard way to go for a calm and brighter future.

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As the policy states "That a legal dispute exists between users, whether as a result of incidents on Wikipedia or elsewhere, is not a valid reason to block, so long as no legal threats are made on Wikipedia. The only concern of this policy is the posting of legal threats on Wikipedia." So to put it as simply as possible: if you need to call the police or take legal action, you can (and even should in extreme situations), but just don't make a legal threat on-Wiki. Even simpler - don't talk about it, just do it when needed. Smallbones(smalltalk) 13:08, 1 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
To summarise it even further, this piece is a pointless exercise. Not only does it smack of stating the obvious, but what's the profit in speculating on the WMF's motives for doing anything; men have have gone mad attempting to unravel these secrets... SN54129 17:19, 1 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Good days and thanks for your comment. Nope, I've never tried to speculate on the WMF's motives, and this is a little bit Misrepresentation. WMF have varieties of practices for banning him or her, these and those. In the piece I still respect what WMF has done and what they are going to do, but honestly, sometimes global bans, even enacted by WMF, are not really the last resort. Anyway, thanks for pointing out the piece is based on the obvious, will try to work on some complex points in further if possible. ---Lemonaka‎ 10:43, 3 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]


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