ValueWiki Changes Infinite Ban Policy

Yesterday we unblocked 20 banned IP Addresses on ValueWiki. In all cases, these were link-spammer Bots programmed to upload wonderful links to everything from Viagra ads to mortgage loans to much, much worse!

Why Unblock Banned IP’s?

ValueWiki has a zero tolerancy policy for any form of wiki abuse. We believe in the Broken Windows Theory that dramatically reduced crime in New York; even minor infractions must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Nevertheless, we are experimenting with changing our infinite ban policy on abusive IP addresses, and testing 1-3 month bans instead.

The reasoning is that banning IP addresses is an inprecise method that can unfairly target thousands of potential users. The most famous example is when Wikipedia banned the entire country of Qatar, because the nation shares one IP address. There are a surprising number of countries in the world that have only one IP protocol.

IP addresses also get reassigned periodically, so infinitely banning an IP can block many innocent people in the future. Also consider that an entire school, college dorm, library, or office will usually share a single IP. Finally, IP identity becomes further scrambled when you consider internet cafes, airport WiFis, or neighbors piggybacking on your wireless.

So ValueWiki will gradually begin experimenting with more temporary IP bans.

Anonymous IP Policy

There is a perennial debate on Wikipedia on whether to infinitely ban known wiki abusers and whether to prohibit anonymous users from editing. As I interpret Wikipedia’s statistics, as much as 2/3rds of anonymous IP contributions are harmful edits. On the other hand, you want to encourage the “Noobs” to help grow your community. Either way, it is possible the day may come when we block anonymous editing and require all users to login and register.

In the meantime, we may try to encourage more users to join the Recent Changes Patrol or become Administrators. A well protected wiki is a productive wiki.

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5 Responses to ValueWiki Changes Infinite Ban Policy

  1. Wikister says:

    Jon, I almost never find a Starbucks with an IP which is not blocked in Wikipedia. Temporary blocks seem to be more efficient.
    P.S. The ‘Recent Changes Patrol’ link in the posting is a dead link.

  2. […] Wikipedia Vandalism Studies like a hawk to determine best practices for ValueWiki. Currently, our ban policy is nearly identical to Wikipedia’s. But if we can determine better statistics for what […]

  3. FarMcKon says:

    Hey,
    First off, I’d like to point out that the ‘Broken Windows’ theory is widely considered out of date, and simplistic. Wikipedia has a passable list of the criticisms. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Windows_Theory). In fact, there is some good evidence (I don’t have a citation on hand) that a *small* amount of norm-violation can be good for norm-creation and and trust-building for communities.

    Secondarily, as community Organizer for RocWiki, we’ve had several great contributors come on, push their boundaries, and after getting called on that, then settle down and become good wiki-denizens.

    So, I think zero-tolerance in many situations is a solution looking for a problem. Anyway, it’s your community and your call, but I figured I’d share my $0.02. I look forward to seeing how your site grows.

  4. Samantha says:

    I’m not quite understanding what all
    this is supposed to be about?

    Must be me or something…

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