Blocking -- the how and the why by Jimmy Wales

Like Wikipedia, WikiTribune will have a policy of blocking users who are not doing the right things.  In the early days, this policy will be quite proactive, because it is important to set the right tone in the community from day one, writes Jimmy Wales.

Take a look at Wikipedia’s blocking policy.

Even though WikiTribune is an entirely new project and an entirely new organization, as a starting point we can use this policy which has evolved over many years of deep experience and has stood the test of time.  But as we are a small and young community, we can also be a bit less prescriptive – not least because we don’t yet know if the pattern of disruptive behavior of trolls will be different and will require different standards.

In the Wikipedia policy, there are three identified fundamental rationales for a block, and I quote:

  1. prevent imminent or continuing damage and disruption to Wikipedia
  2. deter the continuation of present, disruptive behavior
  3. encourage a more productive, congenial editing style within community norms.

I envision the first two to be enforced here more or less exactly the same as at Wikipedia.

But on the third, I intend that we should be significantly more proactive than Wikipedia, especially at the beginning.


At Wikipedia, there is a longstanding problem of contributors who are very productive but also very rude to others.  In a very large community like Wikipedia, this need not drag the entire community down, as there are enough people who have a great attitude to overcome it.  (Although many of them find the permissiveness exhausting.)  In a small community, it is important to set the tone early on to be nice.  One great expression I love is the expression in the Quora community of their policy of “BNBR” – Be Nice, Be Respectful.

This will be our policy too. Please also read our Conduct on WikiTribune FAQ.

A few additional points, some timeless, and some for today:

If you are feeling angry with someone, I recommend that you turn off your computer for awhile.  You aren’t likely to change their minds or fix their behavior by yelling at them.

Leave a good paper trail – when users have a dispute, it is often hard for others to understand who is really to blame if both sides are being nasty to each other.  Bend over backwards to leave a good paper trail showing that you were being kind and thoughtful.

Our current software doesn’t give us the ability to block for a specified period of time like 24 hours or 3 days or a month.  You’re either blocked, or you are not blocked.  Bear with us, as this is a significant omission that we will fix as soon as we can.

If you get blocked and feel that the block is wrong or unfair, please stay calm and send an email.  We’ll have a lot of new admins and it will take some time to get it right. Email: [email protected]

In these early days, I’m going to do this in the same way that I did in the early days of Wikipedia: I’ll be the final decision maker, personally, on any block appeals.

This is a handy check and balance on blocks that were too hasty, but it doesn’t scale.  We will need to develop community mechanisms to have a healthy culture of justice – i.e., blocking those who aren’t here to constructive help with the project, while also not having blocks for helpful dissent and debate.  It is important to be wise to allow space for genuine collaboration and healthy discourse, while at the same time closing off avenues for pointless trolling and abuse of all kinds. – Jimmy Wales

  • TODO tags

      Is there a problem with this article? [Join] today to let people know and help build the news.
      • Share

      Subscribe to our newsletter

      Be the first to collaborate on our developing articles

      WikiTribune Open menu Close Search Like Back Next Open menu Close menu Play video RSS Feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Youtube Connect with us on Linkedin Connect with us on Discord Email us