Conservapedia:Blocking policy refinement panel proceedings

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Below is the proceedings of the proceedings of the Conservapedia blocking policy refinement panel proceedings. The proceedings will start on 8/17/11. The panel members will contribute as their schedule permits. Unless the panel believes more time is needed, on October 15, 2011, the process of writing a summary of the panel's recommendations will be started and Andy Schlafly will be requested to review it upon its completion.

Conservapedians invited to participate in the panel

These Conservapedians have been asked to participate:

Sysops/Admins who want to serve on a blocking policy refinement panel:

1. I have some interest on doing some work for the panel, but my time will be limited due to other priorities. Conservative 13:36, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

2. I'm fairly busy as well, but I'd be happy to help. DouglasA 14:35, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

3. User: Ed Poor

4. User: Karajou

Conservapedians with blocking rights seeking to be Sysops that want to serve on the blocking policy refinement panel:

1. User:Iduan (told me via email he wants to serve on the panel after his summer vacation)

2. User:SharonW - SharonW wrote: "Yes, I am interested in helping. I too have hopes of a workable policy and board for reviews. There is an blocked editor who has emailed me about appealing his block - I've been waiting until things get a bit established before bringing it to the blocking sysop's attention."

3. User:JamesWilson

4. User:DMorris

5. MaxFletcher 16:50, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

Preface to proceedings

Please read these pages:

1. Iduan's initial thoughts

2. Admin Conservative's feedback to Iduan's initial thoughts

3. Admin Conservative's suggested blocking review panel framework

4. Karajou's statement

5. DMorris's proposal

6. Input requested from JDWPianist by Admin Conservative

Proceedings

User:JamesWilson's initial ideas - 8/17/11

  1. A way to appeal: If an unfair block is issued, we need to have a way for the blocked user to appeal their block. I see email is currently disabled on this wiki. I'm not certain why, but I would assume a frequent abuse of the feature. We could reallow email. Alternatively, we could set up an appeals page. If a user were to abuse this, they could be banned from this page.
  2. Undoing others' blocks: While users with blocking privileges (like myself) should never undo a Sysop block, there may be an occasional case where an unfair block was issued by an editor and another Sysop should be able to undo it. But this would only ring true if it were an obviously unfair block.
  3. Offenses for blocks: Here are my ideal lengths of time for certain frequent offenses:
  • Obvious vandalism, obvious parody, etc: 1-5 year block, depending on severity. I believe the 1 year blocks should almost always be used for this.
  • More subtle parody: same as above, based on a Sysop's discretion
  • Spamming-infinite block
  • Sockpuppetery-infinite block

*General silliness: Warning, then a block for a week

  • Badmouthing another user, trolling, etc: If it is a new account doing the badmouthing, 1 year should suffice. If an established user does so, 3 days to a week for the first offense
  • Edit warring-Same as the one above, though a warning may suffice the first time
  • Inappropriate username: I may believe diffferently from Conservapedia Administration on this one. I personally believe that editors should be allowed to sign up under inoffensive pseudonyms, especially if they don't want to give out their real name. However, Conservapedia wishes users sign up under a permutation of their real name. I think if a user signs up under a pseudonym deemed unsuitable (but not malicious), the user should be invited to ask for a username change or the soft-block may work. If the username is malicious (i.e. mocking another editor, pure gibberish, swear words, etc.) the account should be indefinitely blocked.
4. Consistency: The offenses and lengths and whatnot should ideally be consistent.
5. Sysop vs. Blocking privileges: this also seems to be a bit of an issue. Most obviously, a Sysop's authority is final, as said editors are apprentices. People who are not Sysops should not block for 90/10 violations, incivility (unless it is a just-joined person trying to stir up the pot or obvious vandalism) or stuff like that.
I think "general silliness" is to vague for it to be set as policy. I suggest this particular recommendation not be implemented. Conservative 14:16, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
As for appealing blocks, Wikipedia allows blocked users to edit their own talk page so long as they don't abuse it. They also have a template for unblock requests. Perhaps this could work for us too. I personally think email should be reactivated as well. DMorris 20:43, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
That talk page option could be viable as well, assuming a person who abuses it would no longer be able to do so.--JamesWilson 20:49, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Admin Conservative's initial ideas - 8/17/11

1. Conservapedia already has rules that it does not enforce to the degree I would like to see them enforced. As a result, I think the blocking rules policy that is further developed be concise, simple, practical, clear, and with a blocking policy review provision.

2. By a blocking policy review provision, I mean that the blocking rules policy that is developed should be examined by the blocking policy refinement panel after 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months to see if it is working or if it needs to be altered or scrapped. Obviously, what is developed as far as blocking policy has to work in the real world and if it isn't working it needs to be altered or scrapped. If the blocking policy is further refined or scrapped, the panel would do the altering or start from scratch again.

3. I also suggest that Andy Schlafly approve of any blocking policy alterations that are made by the panel as a result of the review process.

4. If you have not yet read my comments listed in the preface to the proceedings, if you could kindly do so, it would be appreciated.

Specifically, I am referring to:

Admin Conservative's feedback to Iduan's initial thoughts

Admin Conservative's suggested blocking review panel framework

Thank you for reviewing my initial input. Conservative 11:55, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Addendum: Admin Conservative's initial ideas - 8/17/11

Author Stephen Covey has written a some notable material on being effective.

Here are two of his principles:

  • Begin with the End in Mind
  • Put First Things First

With the above in mind, I think the blocking review policy refinements should be aimed at increasing the amount of quality content that is at Conservapedia. A successful wiki needs good editors. Of course, as far as blocking policy, I do understand that the intentional producing of poor quality content needs to be addressed as well. Personally, I would like to see some changes at Conservapedia in order to increase its editor base and I believe refining its blocking policy is a part of the overall changes that should be made to improve things. Conservative 12:08, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Admin Karajou's initial ideas - 8/17/11

  • Mistaken block
Immediately corrected by the original blocking user, with apology.
  • Ideological block
Not permitted; user must be restored immediately, with apology.
  • Simple vandalism
Blocker's discretion, but no more than three days.
  • Major vandalism
Blocker's discretion, but no less than one month.
  • Harassment
Blocked no less than 6 months.
  • Sockpuppetry (evading blocks)
Indefinite for each sock; does not affect block of original primary account.
  • Trolling
Same as vandalism
  • Causing a fight
Six months to indefinite, appeals granted depending on circumstances.
  • Intentional disrespect of the website
Six months to indefinite, no appeals. Karajou 13:36, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
I think 6 months for causing a fight is too long. For example, for previous editors, I think initially a shorter block to give the person a chance to cool down is better with escalating blocks in terms of duration if necessary. Conservative 14:21, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
I think "intentional disrespect of the website" is too vague for it to be useful. Obviously, legitimate and/or cordial criticism of Conservapedia is different than crude remarks for example. Conservative 14:21, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
The basic point of this page is to make blocking issues better, and my ideas here may or may not be accepted, which is fine. Karajou 15:15, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
There are going to be differences of opinion and I am sure these can be hammered out. I do think the ultimate goal of increasing the amount of quality content being produced should be an acid test (As far as blocking policy, I do understand that the intentional producing of poor quality content needs to be addressed as well) Conservative 15:22, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Iduan's suggestions

The structure of MediaWiki:Ipbreason-dropdown allows for two level lists - categories - I think these should be used. I suggest that that page read:

  • Vandalism
    • Vandalism
    • Inserting false information
    • Removing content from pages
    • Spamming links to external sites
    • Inserting parody
  • User conduct
    • Intimidating behaviour/harassment
    • Abusing multiple accounts
    • Edit warring
    • Personal remarks
  • Username
    • Inappropriate name
  • Other (describe in box below)
    • Violation of Commandments and/or CP Guidelines

I trust users to determine an appropriate blocking time at their discretion - and I don't think that that's the problem with current blocks, but if it needs stating then let it be clear, blocks should be handed out with careful consideration given to every aspect - including time. The problem arises with the fact that those with blocking powers have to make difficult decisions. As I said on my blocking ideas page: No user intentionally issues a bad block, therefore it is extremely difficult for a user to recognize that his or her issued block may have been a mistake. So how do we remedy bad blocks?

I believe that we all need to be non-sensitive to the blocks we make. Blocks are not edits - they are not our primary contributions to the site; thus, if one user reverts another - it should not be embarrassing or considered a first-shot - all it should be seen as is a user with block rights wanting to give a blocked user a second chance. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's no reason to start a wheel-war. At the same time, we should still be respectful to each other's blocks. Blocks should not be frequently reverted - they should generally be left in tact. I believe that we can self-police each other in a respectful way.

Still, if we accept that bad blocks have been handed out, and I think we all do - I'd even go as far as to say that I've handed them out and thankfully been reverted - then we must also accept that some bad blocks go under the radar. We do not thoroughly check block logs for mistakes - and it'd be unreasonable for us to. I suggest that there needs to be a form of recourse for the accused/blocked. If the email feature is not to be brought back, users who do have block rights and who are willing to hear appeals should publicly list their email. I do.--IDuan 16:16, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

I disagree with no user intentionally issues bad blocks. For example, I would find it hard to believe that Bugler and RodWeathers did not sometimes give bad blocks in order to restrict CP's editor base or just because they thought it was fun. Conservative 16:36, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
That's fair - but the point remains that user isn't naturally inclined to revert his or her own block, and objective eyes are sometimes needed.--IDuan 16:41, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Also, I was never a fan of TK and it would not surprise me if he issued some bad blocks capriciously due to power games. If memory serves, and it may not, he issued a bad block to someone I invited to Conservapedia. On the other hand, to be fair, TK certainly did a lot of legitimate blocks to vandals.Conservative 16:36, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

SharonW's suggestions

I might add a bit more later.

Blocking policy: Vandalism/Spamming: This is a simple one for people to recognize.

  • Blanking pages, inserting gibberish/nonsensical phrases, advertising, etc. – 5 years. It is doubtful this type of editor has CP's best interests at heart.

Parody: This can either be blatant or so subtle that a blocking editor might be doubtful. It's also a reason for blocking that can easily be abused.

  1. If parody is suspected, the editor should be given a short block and if possible, a consensus should be reached with other sysops/editors with blocking rights before further action is taken. This discussion should be open and transparent, and thus should take place on-site, with a special page set up for use.
  2. If it is decided the editor is a parodist – 5 years. Once again, it is doubtful this type of editor has CP's best interests at heart.

Edit warring: I would prefer to see a disinterested editor step in, and rather than take sides, warn both (or however many) editors who are participating.

  1. First time, a friendly reminder is given.
  2. Second time, a warning is issued.
  3. Third time, a 1-day block.
  4. If an editor receives a second block for edit warring, then a 1-week block should be placed.
  5. If an editor receives a third block for edit warring, then a 1-year block should be placed.

Trolling: This is a difficult one for me. Obvious trolls are obvious. Then I have seen editors blocked with "trolling" used as a reason where it appeared to me as though the blocking editor was either angry they were being questioned, was having a really bad day and misinterpreted what the original poster had written, or in one or two cases, appeared to just enjoy using (abusing) the power. Anyway.

  • Obvious trolling – 6 months.

Arguing/fighting: This depends on where the argument/fight takes place.

  1. On your own talk page – one warning, then block for six months if warning is ignored (provided you are not a participant.)
  2. On other editors' talk pages: The editor to whom the talk page belongs needs to 1) issue a warning to the arguing editors and if they don't cease, then 2) the "owning" editor needs to request a block for the arguing parties. Personally, if someone wants to fight on my talk page, I'm all for it and don't want any outside interference. Blocks should be for six months.
  3. On talk pages of articles/essays – once again, I would like to see a disinterested editor step in and issue warnings first, then block for six months if warning is ignored.
    1. If an editor who has blocking rights is a participant in the argument/fight, then they should not be the one to issue blocks.

90/10 – bah. If an editor wants to waste his time talking/arguing, then so be it. More than likely, they will violate another valid reason sooner or later anyway.

Evading blocks: indefinite for the new sock puppets; double the original block for the first account.

Block review panel:

All sysops/editors with blocking rights need to have a means where blocked editors can communicate with them without getting into further trouble by creating sock puppets.

A blocking editor should be considered a "witness" and not participate on the panel.

--SharonW 16:29, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Max's initial thoughts

My initial thoughts are laid out here which Ed and Karajou have kindly commented on. MaxFletcher 16:48, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Rogue blockers or blockers who are too heavy handed - How do we handle this?

Editors are the life blood of a wiki. Retaining them is important. So how should Conservapedia handle rogue or heavy handed blockers? For example, I suspect Bugler and RodWeathers did this.

Please put your suggestions below:

  • Once we have a consistent blocking policy then those who are heavy handed can be shown which rules they are breaking and unless they change their behaviour they can be stripped of the rights. MaxFletcher 21:35, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
I suggest if CP has a blocking review panel and so many blocks per period are overturned then a warning unless it is an outrageous amount of blocks then more immediate action. If they do not heed the warning then stripped of blocking rights. Of course, Andy would have to agree with the stripping of the blocking rights since operationally he is the only when who would probably do that at this point. Conservative 21:45, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
A review panel would be good but it might be a lot of work. MaxFletcher 21:51, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Blocking review panel

As an experiment, do we want to have a blocking review panel that reviews 5 blocks per month? People can submit blocks to be reviewed with attendant explanations.

I think monthly or bi-monthly reviews are best as it gives predictability as far as when panel meets.

Here are my thoughts on this matter: User:Conservative/blocking-board-framework

Questions:

1. Should we have a blocking review panel?

2. If so, how often should it meet?

3. How many blocks reviewed?

4. What will be the submission process for blocks to be reviewed? I suggest having a wiki page for this and people can submit blocks to be reviewed with attendant explanations. If someone abuses this process by having a habit of sending frivolous cases, I suggest that they not be able to submit further cases. Conservative 21:38, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

We should have a blocking review panel. I think it should meet bimonthly. 5-10 blocks should be reviewed per session. The wiki page seems fine.--JamesWilson 21:41, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
I suggest 5 blocks bi-monthly at first. Conservative 21:47, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

A couple general considerations

Very few of us have checkuser rights. This means we are mostly unable to determine socks. Socks constitute the vast majority of vandals, so if we go about giving short blocks to vandals not knowing they're socks, we'll be wasting our time.

Users can always appeal my blocks via email, as I only email block the very worst offenders. It may be good to make this a general policy, or something like it. DouglasA 22:02, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Signing up and type of username

I suggest that only silly or vulgar usernames be blocked. If Conservapedia had to turn away editors because there were just too many editors at CP, I would say we could get picky and ask that the username be based on their name. This obviously is not the case. I think blocking people simply due to their username not being based on their real name is a case of Conservapedia shooting itself in the foot. Conservative 21:57, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Please provide feedback:

I personally believe any editor should be able to sign up under an inoffensive pseudonym. I understand that a permutation of the user's name is policy, but I see no problem with inoffensive pseudonyms, especially considering many editors would be uncomfortable signing up under their real name. Vulgar usernames should be the only blocked usernames.--JamesWilson 22:01, 17 August 2011 (EDT)