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Wikipedia:Sanctions (essay)

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Wikipedia sanctions act to limit or remove user privileges.

Involuntary sanctions[edit]

Process of imposing involuntary sanctions[edit]

Community process[edit]

The community usually imposes involuntary sanctions following a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard or Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. Such a discussion must remain open for input for no less than 24 hours, and should usually be closed seven days from when it started (if it isn’t earlier). If there is a community consensus to impose the ones specified, those sanctions are enacted. The community consensus is assessed by a user who is uninvolved in the dispute and is fairly experienced with such matters. The community usually modifies or revokes such sanctions at the same venue at which it was imposed, following the same process.

Arbitration Committee process[edit]

The Arbitration Committee usually imposes involuntary sanctions following a request for arbitration. The Arbitration Committee votes on a proposal, and if it passes (due to a majority of support votes), the sanction is enacted. The Committee usually modifies or revokes such sanctions by passing a “motion in a closed case”, but may also do so following a request to amend a prior case.


There are two exceptions to these processes. The first exception is the removal of access tools of administrators and other functionaries – currently, the process for enacting such sanctions is limited to the Arbitration Committee process outlined above. The second exception is with respect to blocks – these may be imposed by individual administrators in accordance with blocking policy.

Types of involuntary sanctions[edit]


Blocks are imposed by individual administrators in accordance with blocking policy. Prior to imposing blocks, or as a condition to lifting a block, final warnings may be imposed by uninvolved administrators on individual editors who have repeatedly violated policy to the point that any further violation will result in a block. Final warnings worthy of documenting may also be listed here. It is important to note, however, that conditional unblocks and final warnings remain distinct in character from editing restrictions.

Editing restrictions[edit]

Editing restrictions, which are logged at Wikipedia:Editing restrictions, are imposed by the community or the Arbitration Committee, on individual editors who have engaged in inappropriate conduct. The most common types of restrictions include account restrictions, civility restrictions, probation, revert limitations, and bans. When these restrictions are violated, individual administrators enforce the restriction by blocking the restricted user for an appropriate duration, unless otherwise specified in the enforcement details of the restriction.

Unless there is a discretionary sanctions scheme operating, or there is some other community consensus to do so, individual administrators are not permitted to impose editing restrictions. Administrators who nevertheless attempt to impose editing restrictions without such approval will put their tools and positions at risk, particularly if the sanction is disputed, modified or overturned, in any way, by the community or the Arbitration Committee. For this reason, it is always advisable to follow the involuntary sanction process to request the imposition of sanctions, unless there is already specific approval to do so under a discretionary sanctions scheme.

Discretionary sanction schemes[edit]

Discretionary sanction schemes, depending on the terms specified, provide individual administrators with the ability to impose or enforce certain editing restrictions on certain users. Discretionary sanction schemes are also often referred to as article probation or general sanctions. A log of all current discretionary sanction schemes is available at Wikipedia:SANCTIONSLOG.

Discretionary sanction schemes often specify the area where a discretionary sanction scheme may apply. In such cases, the decision of which editing restriction(s) to impose, if any, is left to the discretion of the administrator. Similarly, the users upon whom the sanction may be imposed is also left to the discretion of the administrator. However, sometimes the choice of editing restrictions, or users, is specified in the sanction scheme to specifically limit this discretion.

This is a rough summary of the procedure: for precise details please refer to discretionary sanctions.

  1. Discretionary sanctions for a topic area must be authorized by ArbCom, either by an arbitration case, or by an ArbCom motion. They are listed in this section.
  2. No editors are liable for discretionary sanctions unless they have received an alert; this is usually a {{Ds/alert}} template on the editor's talk page in the last year.
  3. If an editor severely or persistently disrupts discussion, or fails to adhere to certain editing standards, within areas where discretionary sanctions are active, they are liable for sanctioning.
  4. Any uninvolved administrator can impose discretionary sanctions, within certain conditions being met. This is usually as a result of a request at Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement; a consensus of uninvolved administrators may decide this, but it is not required.
  5. The main difference to normal proceedings is that uninvolved administrators can impose bans, normally in the form of topic bans; but site-bans are not normally allowed. This is different to normal banning policy, as bans are normally only allowed by community consensus or ArbCom, or by a few other mechanisms.
  6. Blocks of up to a years duration may also be imposed.
  7. Review and reversal of bans is only allowed with specified conditions being met.
  8. Editors may be blocked for the duration of the ban, if this is warranted. Ban evasion may result in the ban duration being reset. Content created during the ban or block may be reverted.
  9. Discretionary sanctions against any editor must be logged at a central log.

See also[edit]

Official policies
Other related pages