Please read through the policy below to familiarize yourself with our common practices and rules.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please post them on the talk page.
Although the vast majority of contributors to Memory Alpha are good citizens and follow the appropriate rules, in some cases it may be necessary to block a user from making further contributions to Memory Alpha.
Under specific circumstances, the administrators may choose to implement a block to ban a user from further contributing to the community. This measure should only be taken as a last resort after all other attempts to contact the user and discuss the matter have failed.
Users may be banned from contributing to Memory Alpha under the following circumstances:
- Vandalism. If a user has made multiple or repeated edits that are considered harmful to Memory Alpha, that user should first receive a warning according to the dealing with vandalism policy. If, after the warning, the user continues to vandalize pages, a 48-hour ban may be implemented.
- Inappropriate usernames. There are two types of inappropriate usernames that are governed by this policy:
- If a user signs on the Memory Alpha with a username that is deemed offensive under the username policy, that username should be blocked. (Note that the IP which the user is registered to should be unblocked in order to permit them to contribute under a more appropriate username.)
- Users who register names that are designed to impersonate other members may be banned immediately, and the IP block may be left in place.
- Personal attacks. If a user makes repeated personal attacks against other Archivists in violation of the no personal attacks policy, that user may be banned for 48 hours to enforce a "cooling off" period.
- Archivists who call for violence or make death threats will be banned indefinitely. These users can request to have the ban removed, but lifting such bans will be at the administrators' discretion.
- Disruptive users. If a user makes disruptive edits to multiple pages (for example, quick-fire or minor incremental edits), and if all attempts to contact the user have failed, that user may be banned at the administrators' discretion, either temporarily or indefinitely (until contact with the user is made).
- Circumventing policy. If a user attempts to circumvent policy (for instance by registering a sock puppet) for any reason, that user may be banned at the administrators' discretion, either temporarily or permanently.
In general, bans should only be considered a last resort action, not as a punishment, but simply as a means of protecting the community from harmful edits. By the same token, indefinite bans should only be considered a last resort after temporary bans fail to resolve the problem.
How blocks work
Blocks are implemented as part of the MediaWiki software system. Administrators have the power to both block and unblock both user accounts and anonymous IP addresses.
Blocked users will still be able to read pages on Memory Alpha, but they will not be able to submit changes to articles – the Edit this page link brings up a message stating that "User is blocked," which explains the reason behind the block and provides information about how to request an unblocking.
The scope and effects of the block depend on whether the block is for an account or an IP address:
- IP address blocks
- the block expires automatically after 24 hours, and
- accounts that share the IP address are automatically blocked, preventing someone from simply creating a new account to avoid the block.
- User account blocks
- the block is permanent, until an administrator explicitly unblocks the account, and
- the IP address is automatically blocked, to prevent someone from simply creating a new account to avoid the block.
One flaw in the system (that is frankly unavoidable) is the practice of "floating IP addresses" – users with dial-up ISP accounts such as AOL will have different IP addresses assigned to them for each session they are online. Therefore, in some cases a block on Memory Alpha may unintentionally prevent a legitimate user from contributing, because the IP was previously used by a vandal or hard-banned user. If this happens, contact an administrator.
The block list provides a list of all currently blocked users and IP addresses. Administrators will also see a link to [unblock] next to each blocked user. To unblock a user, click this link, then provide a reason why the user is being unblocked (for the block log), then click the "unblock this address" button.
A user can be unblocked if:
- they were originally blocked in violation of this policy,
- the reason why the user was blocked no longer applies,
- contact has been established with the user (for disruptive users),
- the block has lasted too long, or
- other appropriate cases (at the discretion of the administrator).
Otherwise, there are no specific rules for when a user should be unblocked. However, remember that any block is considered harmful to the community (because it prevents members from contributing), and that blocks are only instituted because they cause less harm than the disruptions caused by the offending user.
In controversial cases, it is always better to err on the side of caution and leave a user unblocked pending discussion with other administrators.
Range blocks are a way to block more than one IP address at once. This feature can be important when dealing with a vandal changing their IP often to circumvent single blocks.
- Note: This section only deals with the basics of range blocks. For more detailed information, please see the Meta-Wiki article about range blocks. Use range blocks only if you are sure what you are doing!
IP addresses are typically written as a set of four numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255. A first step to determine a good range to block is to compare all used IP addresses and find out which parts stay the same.
Suppose a vandal is using the addresses "126.96.36.199", "188.8.131.52", and "184.108.40.206". While the last number changes, the first three stay the same. In this case, you might want to block all addresses of the form "1.2.3.x", with "x" being any number between 0 and 255, basically ignoring the last number.
- To do so, use "220.127.116.11/24" as the address to be blocked in the utility. Be aware that this will block 256 addresses at once!
Similarly, you might find out that the first two numbers stay the same while the last two change.
- To ignore the latter two numbers while blocking, enter "18.104.22.168/16" in the block utility. Attention: This will block more than 60,000 addresses at once and should only be used in extreme cases of repeated vandalism.
There are ways to restrict the block to a smaller set of addresses, if you are willing to deal with binary math – see the article linked to above for more information. Because many innocent contributors could be blocked by a range block, these should normally not last longer than 24 hours. If you are not sure if the range block you implemented was correct, place a message on Ten Forward, listing the IP addresses that should have been blocked.