(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

This guide was written by an administrator and bureaucrat of a school's MediaWiki installation. It discusses durations of the user blocks. Anyone is welcome to share their insights and experiences here too.

Prevention of drama


Short-term initial blocks tend to reduce drama and provide users with the incentive to change their behaviour to the better. Especially for early mistakes, a better alternative is a warning or a mild block starting at a few hours.

It should be considered whether the user was deliberately trying to disrupt, or just made a beginner's mistake. In the former case, a block escalating from at least a day should be applied, to see if they change their mind.

Incentive to improve


An indefinite block might feel like a dead end to the blockee. If a user gets a finite block, they might have a greater incentive to wait for the block to expire rather than requesting an unblock immediately. Therefore, it is usually not recommended to make a first-time block indefinite.

Indefinite first-time blocks, especially if done ambiguously under the wiki's equivalent of en:WP:NOTHERE, disregard that people have the ability to learn and change. Someone with the intention to vandalize would not respect blocks anyway, and therefore need to be dealt with technically, i.e. through IP blocking and edit filters.

Reserving lengthy or permanent blocks for larger issues such as repeat infractions without signs of improvement preserves blocks' credibility.

Sparing administrators' time


Knowing it may be the only allowable way out, an indefinitely blocked user might request an unblock immediately, which drains administrators' time, and unblock discussions are generally mentally draining, whereas a block of an unambiguous duration incentivizes the user to calmly wait instead and perhaps familiarize themselves with policy. Alternatively, blocked users returning on a new account may be given a pass if their behaviour has clearly improved.

They could be left working productively, as they would be blocked anyway should they behave poorly in future.

Learning rules during block


Finitely blocked users might spend their blocked time studying the rules, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel when the block expires, which could turn them into productive editors, rather than a dead end.

Prevent making critics


A mild initial block also reduces the risk of editors feeling unfairly treated and becoming frustrated, leaving their anger out in other places online, which could undesirably publicize drama.

Criticism can also be a chance to prove yourself right through logic and reason while maintaining sincerity.

Law of holes


Some users might instinctively, whether or not knowing it is disallowed, circumvent the block just like they'd bypass a country-blocked music video on YouTube using proxy servers, or on other sites such as Reddit that appear to aggressively suspend accounts falsely identified as "spam" and with administrators unable to respond to appeals due to their quantity. However, on-wiki, it metaphorically digs them a deeper hole, meaning a block even more difficult to get out of as administrators become increasingly reluctant to lift it, whereas finite blocks reduce the likelihood of block evasion, as editors who are permanently blocked might feel that they have not much to lose, while users with finite blocks feel otherwise, which could incentivize them to behave well. Therefore, finite initial blocks may be likelier to keep a disruptive user away at all.

Users with malicious intent


Rules do not matter much anyway to those with malicious intent, therefore they wouldn't mind bypassing blocks, regardless of length. Continuous technical measures such as IP blocks and edit filters serve the purpose of keeping vandals out. However, if they are blocked for a lengthy duration rather than indefinitely, they might change their mind and contribute positively after their block expired, but with their initial vandalism remaining part of their track record for accountability.

Assuming that a user runs afoul of an administrator and gets blocked, if they genuinely had bad intentions, they would evade that block, as that would make no difference to them. But if they change their mind and decide to contribute constructicely, they could return without going through a mentally draining and time-wasting unblock request, but their initial bad behaviour would remain part of their edit history.



It is possible that one gets an indefinite block as a result of immaturity and puberty. Such blocks do not have to be indefinite, but perhaps half a year or a full year instead, as editors' maturation can change their behaviour to the good.

For example, if one was blocked indefinitely as an adolescent for using a wiki as a social network or chat server due to poor understanding, making the appearance of not being here to contribute constructively, and/or due to poor language skills, shouldn't one simply be able to return after growing up, without having to request an unblock first? It's almost like one is a different person after growing up. One's earlier self could be much different than one's current self.

Should they come back in future, they are more likely to just create a new account rather than trying to get their previous one unblocked, whereas if their block expires, they might log back in on their original account and retain the track record of misbehaviour, as logging into an existing account is faster and more convenient than completing a registration and configuration again. Unregistered editors (IP editors) have apparently gotten short-term blocks for similar offsenses that immediately got registered editors indefinite blocks, suggesting that the same could work for registered editors.

Case studies

Katherine Maher   Twitter

Many of our best editors started with a poopbutt.

August 25, 2020[1]

German Wikipedia


An example of this is the German Wikipedia (dewiki) administrator Johannnes89, whose first edit in 2012 was moderate vandalism, replacing a page with "Lorem ipsum" text. Had he been indefinitely blocked, he might have been discouraged from ever editing again, but instead, he became a productive editor in 2015, even more active since 2019, and finally an administrator in 2021.