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I've been talking with the DM's about warnings and how they can often be repeated or cast globally to try and stop certain things being done by users (e.g. mini-modding in chat/discussions or halting a user on the wiki we need to get the attention of). We would rather avoid using the block function as some of these behaviours are well intentioned, or just the case of someone having a bad day.

Instead we would like to have the option to "soft block" a user as a warning. This will let us see who has been warned clearly and how often they have been warned to decide if a full (hard) block is justified in a scenario.

Discussions/Chat Pros
  • These do not count towards the 3 month expiry for blocks when running for rights.
  • They are for a short period of time (e.g. 20 minutes, an hour) and can serve to cool off someone who has gotten a bit wound up, a little breathing space to think things through and deal with issues in a constructive manner.
  • All mods and admins can see who has been warned re what in discussions, something we have a hard time doing at present. It will mean everyone can be treated equally and arguments such as "x gets warning for y more than me, but they never get blocked" will be less likely to happen.
Wiki pro's
  • If a new user doesn't notice their talkpage or revision messages, we can suspend their editing to get their attention and redirect it productively via their talk page.
Cons
  • Some users "may" take advantage of soft blocks. Right's holders discretion to move to hard block is given.
  • We could see an increase in ban evasion.
  • The block list could become cluttered.
  • It could be used in scenarios where a hard block is more appropriate.

Points to considerEdit

  1. Will soft block add value to our tool kit and enable staff
  2. What do we use soft block for?
  3. What should the timescale be? (in hours)
    • Do we incriment each warning?
  4. Do we issue warnings as whole or 3 warnings per rule?

CommentsEdit

I think it's a great idea. Many a people have complained about getting banned for extended periods of time for a minor infraction. I also think that, if anything, it would reduce the number of people evading bans. More people can wait for 3 hours instead of three days. -TheBEASTisnear

I remember suggesting something similar, a "cool off" chatban a long time ago. I'm all for it. Agent c (talk) 21:09, August 7, 2017 (UTC)

Based on my experience as a chat moderator so far, I do not recall any incidents when a soft block would have been better than a warning or kick, but I do see how it may be useful in certain situations. It certainly won't hurt to have the option. I think it has an even greater potential in discussions, however, and think it could be a helpful extra tool for the DMs. Sure, I'm for it. DisgustingWastelander (talk) 21:18, August 7, 2017 (UTC)

This is a perfect idea, I've seen many instances where this could be very useful, hopefully this is approved. CayDtrey5 EzxA (talk) 12:48, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

I think this is a great idea to communicate warnings especially to /d users because writing a warning doesn't guarantee the person sees it. Also I think this could help all lot with mini modding someone might not understand what they are doing is wrong when they minimodd and they might get upset about being blocked for 3 days when they don't think they did anything wrong. I really hope this gets approved :) Quarterman812 (talk) 13:26, August 12, 2017 (UTC)


(repeating comments from /d topic) Just so that everyone completely understands how we do things now, typically for serious infractions like tou violations, eg racial slurs, serious harassment and wiki policy violations like abusing multiple accounts, it's gonna go straight to a block. In most other cases we try to warn somehow first. If the warning is not heeded, it will end in a block also. The guidelines say that blocks should be:

3 days for the 1st offense 1 week for the 2nd offense 1 month for the 3rd offense and permanent on the 4th.

All sock puppet accounts always get blocked perma when they are used to evade bans/blocks. Admins and mods do have discretion in applying those guidelines. They can lower them or make them longer as they see fit for the situation. We rarely ever have an issue where the length of a ban needs to be looked at by another admin. Keep in mind that these guidelines are for the entire wiki, all parts, including chat bans and wiki blocks.

On the wiki, we have the ability to directly communicate with a user who is doing something wrong. We leave them a talk page message and even have a fancy warning template to use when needed. Most of the time this works to communicate to the user that they are at least violating a policy and should stop. Sometimes they ignore them or perhaps don't care to click the popup that tells them they have a message, but it's a fairly good system. In chat, we're talking in real time and generally issue warnings directly to the person in chat. We also have the kick function, where a moderator can kick the person from the chat room to drive home a warning. Again, this works fairly well. Users in chat are usually kicked before they are banned, except on serious violations.

In /d, we have a harder time with warnings. We can place a warning in a topic reply, but there's no guarantee the user we want to warn will see it. They would have to refresh the topic or come back to it and find the warning. There is no direct method to communicate with a user in /d, even if we create a topic to get their attention. Still no guarantee they will see it. I looked at the possibility of creating a warning system for /d just for this reason. To place a warning to a user and stop the rule violation before it gets to the point of a 3 day block. We talked about warnings via the user talk page, but you do not see talk page notifications while on the app. So that went nowhere.

Using a short block as described would certainly get the user's attention. It takes a few minutes for a block to take effect, but the user would eventually notice they can't create topics or replies and a block message will appear when they try to access their account explaining the reason for the block.

There are many questions I have about the functionality and use of something like this: 1. If they are already violating a policy, shouldn't they just receive the block? As described above, in minor cases where a user just needs to be warned probably not. 2. Is there any other effective method to warn? Not that I've been able to see. Warning in a topic might work as a general warning to all within a topic, but in my experience, it lacks when trying to direct a specific message to a specific user. 3. Is a system like this going to add an undue burden on moderators? It will add some extra work. When blocking, a moderator or admin will have to check the user's block log to see if there are any other warnings. They will then have to specifically select the warning option from the block menu. Not a huge amount of extra work, but all moderators must do this each time or the system will not function as designed. 4. Will this result in the use of more blocks, even if short term warnings? Most probably. Instead of attempting to moderate in the topic, a specific user will get the warning block. What happens when multiple users need the same warning in a topic? The mod will have to block everyone who needs a warning. If we're going to a 3 strikes and you're out warning system, we have to be consistent in warning everyone who needs one. If we don't it's not fair to the others who did get them. 5. And here's the real question: Will it be effective? Worth the extra effort? If we go to a warning system I will make sure it is in effect in every part of the wiki. Our blocking length guidelines are not specific to any single part of the wiki. So the system has to work in chat, on blogs, with editors and in /d. Getting all the block rights holders to use this system consistently will not be easy. And will the warnings effectively stop people from further violations, or just create cases where they get upset because of the short block and cause them to break the rules even more upon return in a few hours?

I like to find real solutions to problems. A real solution would be direct messaging to /d users and use that to warn them. This is a solution that is tries to address the real problem: no direct messaging by finding a way to message through the blocked user interface. I'm not certain I like it. It might work, but I'd prefer something better when Wikia gets around to a direct message system. The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 01:34, August 8, 2017 (UTC)

We can place a warning in a topic reply, but there's no guarantee the user we want to warn will see it.
This also applies to revision summaries and talkpage messages. Editors who are in the middle of something don't always check wiki activity and if they have a message, there is nothing to say they need to really stop what they are doing at that moment and go read it. In scenarios like this its an "assume good faith" block, get their attention, sort out the issue and release the block within the hour, short term solution for a short term problem.

To address your questions Gunny:

  1. If they are violating rules, yes they should be blocked. You need to take other factors into account though:
    • Are they having a bad day or getting carried away in the moment? Or is this someone who has little/no intention of following the rules?
    • Is this minor thing that just needs a strong message sending to knock it off sending, or is it pretty major?
    • If more than one person is involved, is the behaviour instigated? Does someone need blocking for 3 days or so they just need a couple of hours to cool off?
  2. I've tried a few options to effectively warn, making threads to explain X behaviour is not on or going physically into threads and warning, which can lead to further derailment, because they want to talk to the mod. Enforcing use the AMA may help, but right now that isn't always accessible unless we create one a day when the need arises.
  3. I'd like to hear from the DM's on this one a bit more as they will see the most burden of this, working primarily from mobile. I know intend up opening multiple tabs on browser when I'm working from mobile to check the logs, otherwise I'm hitting back and forth constantly and waiting for the contribs page to load each time.
  4. It may well increase the number of blocks, in the short term on discussions. I also see it cutting back on block times for silly stuff like report button misuse, I begrudge doing that block as it seems too harsh a penalty and as Hauganz proved a while ago when he reported the thread that said don't report needlessly it's not always clear cut. He reported it, claimed it was an accident, but reasonable suspicion did exist. A soft block would have been perfect for that situation.
    • Moderate, warn, soft block, hard block. That should always be the order of priority unless it's absolutely clear someone needs a time out, then it's a case of weighing up what kind of time out is needed. May I suggest we trial it, that was we can see what impact it had on rule enforcement and demonstrates to users how it will play out. They have concerns in this area too.
  5. They might get upset, but they are more likely to wait an hour out and think about things then go to the effort of socks and cries of mod abuse that we have seen before. The only time we are likely to see real upset is if we start doing them out like candy on halloween. Again, I propose we trail it. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 07:45, August 8, 2017 (UTC)

I like it. JASPER//"Do you like hurting other people?"UserRichard 21:30, August 9, 2017 (UTC)

On a wiki side of things I'm not really that much for the warnings, and when it comes ot chat, we already have a middleway, whick is the "kick" function. On the other hand, I can see this coming in handy on discussions. Since the discussions is often full of spam and people who sometimes adress their opinion in bad ways, and as already mentioned in the opening section, that may not be their intent of doing so. The "soft block" may actually become overused, and might be used in situation where a standard "block" would've been much better.
So to summarize my opinion in short:
  1. I do not think that the "soft block" is needed on the main wiki side of things.
  2. The "soft block" could be useful on the discussions.
  3. Using soft blocks as a middleway in chat isn't needed (because of the Kick option).
  4. I think that we should be careful with banning people, but we should not become "too" careful about using bans either.
NOTE: This is my opinion, and it should stay that way. But I'm still open to feedback. Best regards Jackiboy Logo (talk) 10:56, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't disagree with your standpoint, but to bring you up to speed on a few things to give a little persective:

  1. This did start out as an idea purely for discussions. It was requested that the system be made global for consistency
  2. Wiki and chat uses are very minimal. When asked to look at global implimentation, I did see a smaller number of uses for chat and the wiki, so I don't see the harm in it being present.
  3. The kick option is a good middleway in chat. If someones got pissed off and seeing red, a soft block is likely to be more effective as it forces a user to go and clam down. A kick just means they need to refresh and are back, likely more angry than before, just because they got kicked. I'd argue that kick/soft block should be an option to weigh in the same manner as a soft/hard block should be weighed.
  4. We are careful with bans. I don't think I have yet to see one (beyond /d) that was unduly harsh. If a block is appropriate then block, don't follow every step. If a more gradual approach is needed, for example we need to halt someone on the wiki who hasn't noticed talk page messages/revert summaries, or someone has a habit of mini-moderating (both of which are often good faith acts) penalising them for 3+ days is unduly harsh.

This will allow use to be more flexible in a block/do not block situation. The number of times we will consider it won't go up, (by the time you've hit the level of kicking in chat, I imagine that will have been weighted against a blocking). It just lets us be a little harsher/softer where appropriate. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 11:14, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

I don't like the idea of soft blocks. Something deserves a block or something doesn't. If it doesn't, warn the person until you believe that the continued behaviour does warrant a block. And if you still feel bad about putting the standard 3 day term on it, you have the admin discretion to make it lighter or harder. I don't see soft blocks ending well, and I think it will lead to too much banning and over moderation. - Greets Peace'n Hugs (talk) (blog) 21:40, August 15, 2017 (UTC)

First draftEdit

Now I've had time to factor in feedback from the community, (most of which can be found here) I now have the first proposed draft for the application and considerations for soft blocks, this would be a change to our current administration policy, in order to bring it in line:

When considering if a soft block is appropriate, consider the following:
  • Have all alternative means to communicate, been unsuccessful?
  • Is the behavior well intended, but misaligned?
  • Are there any mitigating circumstances (e.g. provocation, heated subject matter)
  • Is a short restriction on activity likely to be as effective? A stop gap to breathe and discuss on talk pages may resolve the issue.

A hard block would be more appropriate in some of these scenarios where:

  • Repeated attempts to resolve an issue with the individual, resulting in several soft blocks has occurred within a short time frame.
  • The individual has received a variety of warnings/soft blocks, or has previously been hard blocked over past behaviour and has continued to disregard rules and/or direction.
  • Where actions demonstrate a lack of good faith

In essense the process towards using a soft/hard block should in most cases be as follows:

  1. Revert with summary (article only)
  2. Lock/Delete/Revert and discuss
  3. Lock/Delete/Revert and warn
  4. Kick (chat only)
  5. Soft block (if appropriate)
  6. Block per the current guidelines.

As with anything, there are always going to reasons to fast track the process and this guideline should not become a hinderance in those cases. If moving straight to warning or kicking, or blocking is appropriate, then take the most appropriate course. Time people out with soft blocks if things get heated, block them if they are breaking the rules with their actions, well intended or not. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 10:28, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

Theres nothing keeping us from using shorter blocks to get peoples attention right now. We already do. We dont need to discuss the need for them, we can simply use them. What we need to discuss is if we are using shorter blocks as direct warnings and how many warnings will result in a normal block. Also, if these warning blocks will count towards voting for rights. What we are talking about is putting in place a warning system. We dont need to add a ton of language to the policies that already allow for block length discetion. What we do need to add is if its a warning system and how many warnings it takes to get a real block. The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 14:06, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

Based on Gunny's comment we could probably do it in one line "Blocks of less than 1 hour duration can be used at the moderators discretion; such blocks of this nature do not count towards the usual ban track". We could optionally add after that "or when running for special user rights". Agent c (talk) 14:40, August 12, 2017 (UTC)

I agree with that short and sweet line, much less convoluted. As for how many we give, how many warnings do we give now? With a few exceptions (talkpage blanking for example) we don't have a stipulation on this. To keep in line with everything we already I feel the number of warnings is a different rule change. I'd rather go for a rule of "Blocks between 1 and 2 hours in duration can be used at the moderators discretion; such blocks of this nature do not count towards the usual ban track". Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 15:25, August 12, 2017 (UTC)
Since we already have discretion on block length, I think the only two things that need a community consenesus on is warning blocks (I'd prefer to call them that, as thats exactly what they are) not counting towards user rights requests and a fixed number of warning blocks that will automatically result in a real block. I propose a three strikes and you're out rule. The 3rd consecutive warning block will automatically convert to a regular block of appropriate length considering the user's block history. We will have to make sure all mods and sysops understand how these will work e.g, warning blocks should be 1 hour in length or whatever, but that can come in the form of guideance like an admin blog or part of the vote forum if there is one. Is there any disagreement to this? Am I forgetting or missing something? The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 21:36, August 12, 2017 (UTC)
That covers the points that we need to gain consensus on. From what I can see, we have a strong majority on introduction and mixed feeling on how many strikes. 3 has come up, but I still question if a fixed number is the right thing to do, considering the spirit. The chatter has died down now on discussions too, but I think a vote on 3 or discretionary would be best. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 22:05, August 12, 2017 (UTC)
I'd prefer a set number spelled out in the policy. Discipline must be fair and consistent. Users should be able to expect us to clearly communicate to them our expectations of their behavior, ie they shouldnt have to guess what is against policy or whats gonna happen to them when they break one. We still have discretion to deviate so i think it best to be clear to users and tell them exactly how many warnings they can epect to get before a block, then in rare cases with extinuating circumstances deviat. The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 15:54, August 14, 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree it must be fair and consistent across the board. We have had users on the wiki, who have far too many warnings before they received any form of sanction. Would you be comfortable with 3 of the warnings on {{Notice}} to amount to the same as 3 warning blocks for consistency? If so I'm fine with 3 strokes and you're out. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 18:10, August 14, 2017 (UTC)

No, because those can be placed by anyone. If a user on the wiki needs a warning, then lets use the warning block. Here's what I would propose to add to the policies:
Warning blocks
Warnings for minor policy violations in the form of short-duration blocks, i.e. 1-2 hours duration, should be used when appropriate. Upon the third consecutive warning block, a block of regular duration based on the user's block history and blocking guidelines will be issued (three strikes and you're out). Warning blocks should not be counted as regular duration blocks when considering user rights request minimum requirements.
How's something like that sound? Three sentences. Place that right after the normal block duration guidelines. The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 23:29, August 14, 2017 (UTC)
I know they can be placed by anyone, but specifically I don't incidents like this where it took 8-10 warnings for a block to be considered and used to happen on the wiki, but have 3 strikes and block occur on discussions. I don't have an issue with the rule as you have written as above and I'm more than happy with it as long as we have means of applying it consistently in all areas. I'm not comfortable that we have that yet. Sakaratte - Talk to the catmin 06:48, August 15, 2017 (UTC)

Can we clairify what consequitvely means? If a person had a soft block in January, then July, would a soft block in December be a third strike? Agent c (talk) 14:40, August 15, 2017 (UTC)

Final thoughtsEdit

I've been letting this idea work in my head for a while now, watching for times when I might have used it. I've decided a few things: The idea of warning blocks would really only have use in /d. We already have kicks in chat and the discretion to use short blocks to get a user's attention on the wiki for edit warring warnings etc and use them. Since this boils down to do we use warning blocks as a system to warn users in /d, how well would it work? It is a weak workaround to the fact we have no way to directly communicate with /d users. Direct and persistent communication of warnings would be far better. As I thought about the answer to Agent c's question, I could quickly come up with a multitude of factors that make a warning block system unwieldy. How many warnings? How frequently? How long do they apply? If they're warned for one thing, does it count for another? What about use of secondary accounts, how do we add them up? Will all the mods use them? Use them with a reasonable consistency? How much extra work does it add? At the end of the day, I've decided that trying to force a system not designed for communication to be a communication tool is a bad idea. Blocks are blocks and there's too much room for misapplication and confusion. That doesn't mean an occasional short duration block to get a user's attention shouldn't be used, with the caveat in the block log to not count it against future blocks, but I just don't see a systematic use of this working as intended. If folks break the rules and we can't get them to stop with the means we have, block them. I'm firmly against this idea for now. -  The Gunny  UserGunny chevrons 03:04, August 23, 2017 (UTC)
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