Grants:IdeaLab/Impacts on lives of the banned

Impacts on lives of the banned
The Wikimedia projects are blocking and banning thousands of accounts every day, but nobody has ever evaluated the social and psychological impacts on the targets of these processes of shunning.
targetEnglish Wikipedia, Meta, Commons, Wikiversity, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikiquote
start dateJuly 25
end dateNovember 30
budget (USD)1000 USD
grant typeIndividual
contact(s)• ResearchBiz(_AT_)• ResearchBiz(_AT_)
created on14:21, Friday, June 3, 2016 (UTC)

Project idea


What is the problem you're trying to solve?


Over the years, Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects have indoctrinated admins who sometimes have attitudes that don't foster harmony[1] on the projects. Wikipedia community members are scientifically shown to score lower on the personality traits of agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. If an editor is seen to have a disruptive disposition, sometimes the admin response is "block now, ask questions later" or, even worse, "the blocked individual is not entitled to ask questions". This can lead to some blocked (or banned) individuals to only escalate their response, in a manner that is only further antagonistic toward the Wiki community. Harassment may be one step in the escalation, followed by counter-harassment of the banned individual. No reputable study has ever examined the blocked, shunned, and banned individual on Wikimedia projects -- studies rather seem to focus on the "remaining" community members who are seen as "in good standing". This project would fill that gap in our knowledge of community harmony dynamics, by giving a temporary voice to the banned individuals, to learn about how their blocks and bans have impacted their own lives.

What is your solution?


This impact study will endeavor to qualitatively survey at least 20 different people who have been blocked or banned from participating on Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects. The research will conform loosely to a scripted discussion guide, and respondents will be compensated appropriately for their time (e.g., $40 for a one-hour, in-depth interview). Presumably, the study coordinators will volunteer their time and resources.

Project goals


The project will help to characterize how being blocked or banned from Wikimedia projects impacts the individual, including personal emotional ramifications (shame, anger, etc.), social effects (e.g., how former promoters become detractors), career disruption (tension in the workplace, or even termination from employment), and more.

The deliverables on this project will include:

  • Topline summary report of common findings among the (minimum) n=20 sample
  • Background and methodology information
  • Transcripts (either verbatim or detailed summary) of each interview
  • Word clouds to help visualize common themes that emerge from the discussions
  • Recommendations for process/community improvement in the blocking and banning process, from the perspective of the blocked

Get involved



  • Designer I will bring to bear on this project my decades of professional experience in qualitative market research design and execution. Thekohser (talk) 17:49, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Researcher I hope that with the help of two other researchers, I will be able to establish a properly acceptable sampling methodology, discussion guide, interviewer training, and analytical framework for this project. Please join! Thekohser (talk) 17:52, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Researcher I am a sociologist interested in this line of research. I'd like to help! --Piotrus (talk) 03:54, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Be happy to help out in any way I can. Kingsindian (talk) 10:47, 6 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Participant I would be willing to participate if anonymity could be assured. However, I understand the concerns about self-selection bias and small sample size. Not offended if my offer is declined. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:48, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Researcher I would like to participate by giving suggestions about the some of the ideas on online social isolation. Felixyog (talk) 11:16, 17 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Developer Iu 19:34, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Community organizer I am blocked. I would like to tell people about the real physical damage of blocks and bans. SandSsandwich (talk) 08:39, 23 July 2018 (UTC)


  • There has never really been a good study which I can find of the effects of blocking/banning people from Wikipedia. This is surprising, since it is such a commonly used procedure. They are also not considered (by definition) in surveys which are conducted via banners on Wikipedia. Kingsindian (talk) 14:36, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
@Bgwhite and Yngvadottir: On the subject of remuneration, perhaps I can point out earlier research carried out by the Yochai Benkler among others, carried out in cooperation with the WMF, where they offered payments to participants and they allowed them to donate the money to the WMF or a charity of their choice if they wish to. Kingsindian (talk) 02:57, 5 June 2016 (UTC) Kingsindian (talk) 03:18, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
I am also wondering how participants in this project can stand by idly when the Wikimedia Foundation pays its former Executive Director $300,000 just to stick around for a year and "dig up files" and "advise the new director", but then balk at paying regular folks $40 to give an hour of their time. It's just striking me as an extremely petty concern. - Thekohser (talk) 03:40, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree with the idea, but not in the execution. Many blocks/bans are deserved. However, in too many cases, the time sentenced is too harsh or the block/ban is not warranted. I have seen the ill effects on other's mental state and the enthusiasm to continue editing. Thekosher has a good idea in getting more information. I do think 20 is too small of a sample size and I'm not comfortable in paying people. There will be bias as you are talking to people about a negative event. But these types of surveys are asked to people who got fired from their job, for example. Most of these issues can be mitigated by asking professional surveyor's help in setting up the study. Bgwhite (talk) 02:15, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
There is a professional surveyor setting up the study, one with 25 years of experience in the field, having executed approximately 1,000 different research surveys in his career. Also, you may wish to read up on how "quantitative researchers often fail to understand the usefulness of studying small samples". Let's not fall into that trap. Marshall conducted viable qualitative research with samples of 10 or 24 respondents (in the latter case, he found that new themes ceased to emerge after the first 15 completed interviews). - Thekohser (talk) 04:02, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
Thekohser First, let me say I think this is a great idea and one that should must be done. I'm not trying to disparage. I don't see anywhere on the page who will be doing the survey except "organizers". First time making a comment on one of these, so I don't know if something is to be assumed or I'm being my usual idiot self.
I stand by 20 being too small. Not only will it minimize bias, but hopefully will get better results. Generally, one does not do a random sample in quantitative research. So, one "chooses" how many to sample based on method of sampling, time allotted, questions asked, when data saturation happens, etc. With so many variants on the how, why and types of blocks, I think 20 is not near data saturation, but 100 is too many. This also alleviates the main concerns expressed by Yngvadottir and TParis. Bgwhite (talk) 07:34, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
Bgwhite Thank you for your support. I have gone back to emphasize (and re-emphasize) that the sample plan always called for at least 20 participating subjects. So, we would seem to be in agreement on that. For the grant money to work appropriately, I believe that you have to establish what the minimum funding request would be. Also, I didn't realize that the list of volunteers wasn't more clear, so I have formally added myself to the two roles I saw myself filling -- designer (a sole position), and researcher (one of three anticipated positions). I hope you will consider clicking the "join" button, too. - Thekohser (talk) 18:04, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I endorse this idea (studying banned editors is a great way to reach out to marginalized population here), and I offer my professional expertise (as a sociologist) if Thekosher is interested. I do have, for now, a concern about the funds - no objection to paying interviewees (even if I don't think it is necessary), but as I outlined in detail below I'd rather think we would need at least $1000 if not 2-3 times as much for transcription services. --Piotrus (talk) 04:21, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse. Too often the WMF looks for technical solutions; this seems to me an area where answers and solutions will be more non-technical, so is an under-studied area. To avoid selection bias, I suggest looking at all editors who passed a certain edit-count threshold, and either were indefinitely blocked, banned, or retired "under a cloud". Just set the edit-count threshold low enough to have a meaningfully-large selection set, but not so low as to make the selection set too large to be adequately surveyed with the given resources for the study. One question to ask is what the "castoffs" learned from the experience, and whether they would edit in a different manner if they had it to do over again or were given the opportunity for a fresh start. Wbm1058 (talk) 16:00, 8 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm a site administrator for a site that deals first-hand with people who feel they were banned from Wikipedia without a chance to understand or explain their viewpoint. Some take it personally and I believe the site's practices are a cause of some harassment. Stanistani (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Tentative endorse. I like the idea of this and while the opposition arguments have merit, I agree with Thekohser's comment on the talk page that this could help lead to better, more comprehensive research in the future. My biggest concern is whether or not we would actually be able to trust anything that the banned editors say - some of them have not only been quite malicious, but they've also been caught in some pretty blatant lies. This would need to be very, very carefully done so that the final report would take that into consideration while also ensuring that readers wouldn't offhand dismiss everything the banned editors claimed. There's a lot of planning that would need to be done before this could get underway, but I think that the idea as a whole has merit. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 04:42, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I think that it'd be a good idea to anonymize the respondents and only give a basic description of why they were blocked (ie, nothing that could easily identify them), since that would help protect them (since I'd imagine that they'd also have worries about being identified) and also ensure that they don't see this as a way to get back at the editors responsible for their indef. The anonymity might also help them if they were to say something that would result in stronger actions, like if they admitted that they created a sockpuppet since their indef block and have been editing under that account.
This likely goes without saying, but one of the things you'd have to say up front to them is that participation in the survey will not result in an unblock. You'd have to be nicer about it, but I imagine that this would potentially be something that a few blocked editors would ask. Still, even with all of the concerns there's still more potential good with this survey than anything else. Even if you guys do the survey and it's nothing but them spewing vitrol, that would just reinforce the idea that an indefinite block was the right action. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 04:50, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Current rational behind bans is very vague for the most part. Disputing bans is an almost always futile affair, giving rise to rank closing and gang-like mentality by those with appropriate authority. More importantly, global, non-English WikiPedia/WikiMedia projects are even more vulnerable to this form of behaviour, given that a minority of users will almost always dominate the editorial and admin communities, usually with shared agendas. أحمد الآلوسي (talk) 12:33, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse I still see some possible reservations about the self-selection of participants, but it also occurs to me that under the circumstances those problems are to an extent unavoidable in a situation like this. If all reasonable efforts are taken to ensure that the participants are perhaps not likely to try to use the research to overly dramatize their own situations, or to use it as a sort of soapbox, I can't see any real objections. John Carter (talk) 18:36, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Wow. "the blocked individual is not entitled to ask questions" I had no idea this problem was widespread enough for it to get a mention like this. Yes, a study like this is merited. Wikipedia is the sixth-most-visited site on the Internet and—here's the kicker—it's impossible to avoid. If people get burned on Wikipedia, they can't take a break from it unless they quit the Internet. Every single search on every single search engine will just shove it under their noses again. This study, if done well, would have an impact beyond Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:46, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse I have personal experiences with people owning a ban-button who abuse this power to prevent "normal" editors from doing theur work temporarily, for longer time or even for the rest of their life. They continuously disagree or worse just because it's her or him. At least they could elaborate via (wiki)mail and/or on the talk_page of the "victim". There are cases that they first (or in the same minute) block and then "explain" why. I thought All Wikimedians are equal. Apparently Most Wikimedians are less equal than others. So be it.  Klaas `Z4␟` V:  05:26, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse Yup sounds a good idea. Support the oppressed and all that, get their perspectives and experience. Why not? Peter Damian (talk) 18:42, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, because it would give banned members a second chance. I would also add to that fact that not everyone is good and that thorough other kinds of minimal time bound banning a change would be experienced. Denver20 (talk) 14:41, 20 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse let's get this party started. I LOVE YOU JACOB SARTORIUS XOXOXO (talk) 00:18, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Sounds good. Music1201 talk 07:14, 17 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse - When a pseudonymous admin clicks a button to dispense wiki-justice, rarely is a thought given to the potential ramifications or impact on the person behind the banned username. Much like a bad cop who escalates a minor infraction into a deadly encounter, it would be interesting to see how much, if any, the blocking admin's behavior itself contributed post-ban issues. A study of such uncharted territory is certainly a good idea. Tarc (talk) 03:39, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse per KlaasZ4usV, though I would like to note the irony that the user directly above me is known for keeping a banned user from having a fair trial (even calling a user who has now solely been banned on being a suspected sanctioned user for 7 years now “a troll” for simply wanting to know on what grounds that suspicion was based), see here, here, and here (the only thing “WP:DENIED” here is a fair appeal). And often bans happen for literally no reasons such as this one where simply being banned on another Wikimedia project is seen 100% justification for banning a user there (even if no such local policies or guidelines exist). Also note that bans are never enacted in the interest of building an encyclopedia but purely as a punitive measure, often because of admins personal dislikes of people and not because they actually care about content, just look at what happened to the likes of Torero. --Donald Trung (Talk 🤳🏻) 09:14, 24 November 2017 (UTC)


Note to reader: Other Grant idea pages do not typically feature an "Opposition" section. This one is being left in place, in the spirit of giving the opposition a voice -- which, ironically, is exactly what this Grant idea is all about.
  • 20 participants isn't enough to gain real insight into this. It's more inclined to be an avenue of getting grudges openly aired and settling scores. Especially if selection bias plays into the picture in the selection process. But more importantly, I don't see how this will at all be helpful. Administrators and editors are volunteers and even if we find a gentler kinder way to block disruptive users, no volunteer should be obligated to follow it. We shouldn't be adding more tasks and responsibilities to productive editors at the behest of disruptive editors.--TParis (talk) 18:08, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
"Real insight" can be gained from just one interview. Since the goals of this research do not include unblocking or unbanning users, I'm not sure how any scores will be settled. I'm disappointed that you are unable to see how giving the shunned a brief voice could be helpful at all. Nothing in the research plan suggests that more tasks and responsibilities will be added for productive editors. Indeed, I could see numerous ways by which the recommendations might lead to fewer tasks and responsibilities for productive editors -- for example, what if an outcome is to suggest that all blocking and banning responsibilities be transferred to a small team of paid staff members of the Wikimedia Foundation? - Thekohser (talk) 20:03, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
TParis Yes, one must expect grudges to be aired. But that is "sort of" irrelevant. Companies do exit interviews for some of the same reasons as this study. Yes volunteers don't have to follow any of the recommendations, but what's new. If admins are given info gleaned from this study that can head off a block or bring a blocked user back, it's worth it. There is just too little info about this subject beyond the stereotypical response of grudges and settling scores (my first response too). I do know people who were blocked and their emotional feelings overwhelmed them. Grudge and settling a score wasn't their thoughts, but their self-worth. Bgwhite (talk) 08:01, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
w:qualitative research can produce real insights with smaller samples. And Thekosher indeed makes a good point that the banned editors are very understudied, there is value in learning from that group too. --Piotrus (talk) 04:17, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm also concerned about selection bias, and that this will be magnified by the financial reward. I'd like to draw attention to one such problem that may not occur to the proposer or to others who edit under or otherwise reveal their names: many contributors to the movement require anonymity, which is the primary advantage of registering an account; protecting their identity is presumably all the more a concern for many banned contributors; but the interview modes that are foreseen will destroy anonymity, all the more so if the organisers are expecting to send someone a cheque or otherwise remunerate them. I also wonder about the hard limit on number of interviews, which as TParis says, will limit the usefulness of the research. Combined with a monetary reward, it's going to magnify the effects of self-selection. First past the post to claim $40 doesn't seem promising to me, although I'm impressed by the proposer's qualifications in the field. Scrap the idea of the (rather big) reward, replace by a multi-pronged effort to identify and reach banned contributors (including LTA IP editors), and consider a token reward to go either to the person or to a charity of their choice. The grant would then go much further, including covering a range of interview modalities (I'd urge the use of open-ended questions including an attempt to discover what the bannee in question defines as harassment) and remuneration for the data-crunching that would be required. Yngvadottir (talk) 20:44, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
Do you have any evidence that the proposed sampling will introduce undue selection bias? Can you point to any academic literature that demonstrates that a direct incentive of $40 for an hour of the subject's commitment will magnify that bias? (An equally valid case could be made for saying that if no incentive were provided, that would bias the sample away from people who don't want to commit an hour of their valuable time for free.) As for anonymity, that may be a concern for some. However, there are plenty of indefinitely blocked or banned editors who have no concerns about identifying themselves publicly. Those who wish to remain anonymous can ask for their remuneration to be directed to a charity of their choosing. "Data crunching" is not a part of this study design, as it is a qualitative approach. - Thekohser (talk) 22:29, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
I like the idea, but I also think that the possibility of selection bias and possibly w:self-selection bias in a case like this is very possibly a very real one. I think @Piotrus: has performed a possibly similar survey in the past, and although I do not at this point remember the outcomes of his survey, or any issues which may have arisen which might be related to selection bias, any information he might have may well be useful here. John Carter (talk) 20:14, 6 June 2016 (UTC)
@John Carter: Thank you for pinging me. I have indeed done a similar study (now in review, not publicly shared - but anyone interested is welcome to send me an @ and I'll send you the file). Regarding the selection bias, the response ratio from retired editors (some of which where banned, but I did not limit myself to those) was low at <20% IIRC. Some, many in fact are pretty much unreachable - no email, not checking their talk pages for years. (In fact in one of my proposed future research in my paper I explicitly suggest following up with that group aiming at a bigger number of responses). I am sure we can get 20+ responses from banned editors, through it may take few weeks to get to that number. Methodology of how to select them is worth considering: mine was to go for the most active editors by the number of edits. A random sample could be done, but those would be different population: I was concerned with what I consider to be most valuable editors - the 1% who create 99% of Wikipedia content (more or less). An average banned user will be, well, an average editor, somewhere deep in the long tail, and I think those groups could differ significantly. In fact, it may be worth aiming at two different groups of 20 - one from most active end, and one random, to see if I am right about such differences. Now, as for offering $$$, I am sure there's literature on how this affects the sample. I am not convinced paying interviewees is necessary to get them to cooperate - it may increase the response ratio, probably, but as I said I am reasonably sure we can get 20+ respondents anyway. Again, I'd consult the literature, but 40$ per hour is very generous, most freelancers online consider 6$ to be decent hourly wage. My research is done usually with no budget, through for this type of research I'd certainly try to get some spending money for interviews transcription (either this, or have a grad student do it - it's a thankless waste of time). And here, in fact, is where the asked budget of $1000 may not be sufficient (the going rates, based on the quick search, seem to be 110$/h, 90-150$/h, ~90$+, 60$/h - this one is the best I found after few minutes on Google. Oh, btw, Thekosher - I read your description above as you are looking for volunteers to join you, and I am interested in this in a professional capacity, as in - I'd be happy to get involved with it with the aim of producing a proper academic (sociology) peer reviewed paper. If anyone replies to my post, please do ping me. Cheers, --Piotrus (talk) 04:17, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose to the highest degree - (Comment from User:Smallbones moved to Talk page, as it contained personal attacks, which are not tolerated on this page.)
@I JethroBT (WMF):, thekohser has removed my comment here, improperly IMHO. Harassers often claim that they are being bullied, and I believe that is that is what his claim amounts to here. Another common tactic of harassers is to repeatedly question basic statements of fact, as if raising a question will make the facts any less true. The facts in this case are that thekohser:
  • has been banned from en-Wikipedia for almost 10 years and has repeatedly sockpuppeted during that time
  • has personally harassed me and other users
  • has been banned from 3 Wikiconferences based on safe space policy.
These facts are highly relevant to this discussion about what to do about harassment. If the committee that decides on grants has any questions on these facts, I will send them documentation. I suggest that JethroBT decide on the matter of safe space policy on this page, i.e. whether any comments should be reverted, and that thekohser keep his hands off of my comments. That is all I will have to say on this grant application. Smallbones (talk) 15:41, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
Note: These comments were struck by Thekohser, see talk page for further discussion. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 04:54, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - While I think it's an IDEA worth consideration, the proposer, or any member of Wikipediocracy, would be the wrong person to be granted the task. (Also, ironically, Wikipediocracy is every bit as hostile as Wikipedia, but isn't concerned about how banning its own members effects their lives.)
Add: Anyone following this proposal should be following the related discussion on Wikipediocracy: Board Index > Public Area > Wikipedia and Wikimedia Projects - General Discussion IdeaLab: Impacts on lives of the banned. Lightbreather (talk) 04:56, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose. I like the idea of this. I like it an awful lot and things are laid out fairly well. However what bothers me is that nowhere on this proposal was there a mention that Thekohser was blocked, that they are related to Wikipediocracy, or that they have posted on the site's forums asking for endorsements. It's mentioned now, but it bothers me that this wasn't posted from the beginning. I know that those three things have the potential to create a bias, however I also believe that there would still be benefit in a study of this type even under this situation. At the very least even if Thekohser did create a slam report on Wikipedia that would still provide some valuable insight. It's just this lack of transparency bothers me, given the situation and it'd be no different if our situations were reversed and if I was a blocked student looking to create a study on the impact of blocks on student editors. I won't lose any sleep if this gets approved, but I'm just very uncomfortable with the fact that Thekohser wasn't the one posting about this in the first place. Disclosure of any COI or potential bias from the start is kind of a standard for studies or papers of this type. It's this oversight that just makes me hesitant to really endorse this project. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 05:51, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
  • To clarify, I don't have a huge-huge problem with the blocking or the affiliation with Wikipediocracy. That there was a request on Wikipediocracy forum for people to come and endorse the project bothers me a bit more, since that's kind of canvassing. What keeps it from fully bothering me is that the thread has some pretty well thought out questions and comments and it's not full of people posting "YAR! LET'S MAKE WIKIPEDIA LOOK BAD!" (There are some pointed opinions against Wikipedia, but not really anyone specifically stating that they want Wikipedia to look bad - there's a huge world of difference between the two.) The proposal is otherwise well laid out and I'd actually be interested in seeing this from that perspective, it's just that this really, really should've been mentioned from the start and this sort of oversight makes me leery of other potential oversights. Would this have gotten as much attention or be taken as seriously if this had been disclosed from the start? Maybe, maybe not, but now we have no real way of knowing. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 05:57, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Basically what I would like to have in order for me to feel more confident in this is for you to do this study with an unblocked editor currently active on Wikipedia and held in relatively good esteem among their peers, someone who would not have a hard bias against blocked editors. (IE, they would have no problem working with you and wouldn't go into the project going "YAR! LET'S MAKE BLOCKED EDITORS LOOK BAD!" Ideally they would also be a sociologist or someone with the ability to work on a project of this type. If anything, this would actually be a pretty interesting way to get both sides input on the responses while also ensuring that each person doesn't subconsciously try to sway things in a particular direction. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 06:02, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Last comment until someone replies, I promise. Is it possible to have a "neutral" section? I say that because I'm more of a neutral than an oppose to this. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 06:04, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
@Tokyogirl79: I think your comments are clear enough. The stuff you put in bold or the header it is under is not really that important so much as the substance of your feedback. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 09:04, 16 June 2016 (UTC)
@Tokyogirl179: So you think this project needs a good-standing enWiki liason, ideally a sociologist. Preferably no blocks in the past five years and ten million barnstars wouldn't hurt. @Piotrus:, you up for it? Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:46, 26 June 2016 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: I wrote early on - and at least twice - I'd be happy to help with this project, but I can't say I am impressed with the proposal originator lack of reply to my offer. I am still not satisfied with the idea of spending money on compensation, instead of transcripts. --Piotrus (talk) 01:26, 27 June 2016 (UTC)
@Piotrus:Strange that you would complain about my lack of reply, when I specifically reached out to you on June 8th to expressly thank you for your offer to help. Was there some expectation for a more enthusiastic response? - Thekohser (talk) 13:11, 27 June 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, about transcripts. A sociological study of this kind could be conducted using a well-designed questionnaire. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:10, 27 June 2016 (UTC)



The proposer is the owner-of-record of a website that has been known to both "ban" and "mute" guests without giving any reason. One of the forum's regulars once pointed out that the banned users are disproportionately female. Query: has the proposer thought to do such a survey on his own website first? As a means of demonstrating competence in carrying out such an undertaking? —Neotarf (talk) 21:23, 9 June 2016 (UTC)

I own the domain name "", but I do not have moderator privileges on the site, I cannot "ban" or "mute" users, and I have no access to the site's server admin dashboard. As far as I know, the consortium of individuals who run the site have always had clear reasons for why some guests are banned or muted -- that these reasons are not always shared in explicit detail with the public (oftentimes at the request of the banned or muted individual) is not something for which Wikipediocracy management should receive your finger-wagging. If you can point to a single banned or muted user of Wikipediocracy who literally does not know why they were disengaged in that way, then I will look into it. Otherwise, all you are complaining about is why *you* are not entitled to pry into the private interactions between other people. Most of the banned and muted individuals from Wikipediocracy have never proven their identity to any of the moderators of the site, so how would we know their gender? Have you ever considered that some trolls may deliberately and falsely present themselves as female, so that when they are inevitably asked to leave the community, they can shout about gender discrimination? To answer your query, yes, I have thought to do such a survey on my own website, but I elected not to, due to the obvious conflict of interest. My fulfillment of a survey of the banned on Wikipediocracy would have little impact on demonstrating my competence in the field of survey research. You can look at my LinkedIn recommendations from numerous professionals to assess my competence in the field. Do you have a LinkedIn profile, that we might review to ascertain your competence in making pointy comments about IdeaLab grants? - Thekohser (talk) 13:32, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
You don't have to look very far in the internet to find screen shots of Wikipediocracy's banning messages "Reason for ban:banned" and "Reason for ban: ask your husband". If that's the kind of thing you want to lend your name to, Thekohser, it's entirely up to you. Other than that, I do see some potential issues with your proposal.
  • Sample size. It's not large enough to be statistically significant. If you don't know what this is, ask the statistician you brought along with you to the WMF survey discussion.
  • Expertise. The last time I checked, you cannot become a statistician by getting your friends to endorse you on your LinkedIn profile. If you do not understand the concept of "statistical significance", you will need to amend your budget to pay for someone with expertise in statistics.
  • Conflict of interest. You state in your proposal you may need to pay a communications provider but you do not say who. Comcast? People's Operator?
  • Privacy concerns. Your website has a long reputation for doxing. Do you plan any safeguard for anonymity, or will your survey be restricted to those who are willing to identify publicly with their real names? This creates further concerns about random selection--I think we've already established there will be no women in the survey.
  • Rationale for the survey. So you want to find out about feelings, if someone is experiencing shame, anger, shame but not anger, anger but not shame, all of the above, none of the above. Why? Do you plan to establish mental health vouchers for Wikipedia participants? Have you considered that this might also feed the trolls, that there are sadistic individuals in the world who would delight in knowing who had become suicidal, who had become homeless, who had lost their job as a result of editing Wikipedia? This proposal has a bit of Milgramishness in it. You are asking people to relive something that you are implying must have been a horrific experience in their lives, and for what? —Neotarf (talk) 20:21, 22 June 2016 (UTC)
Neotarf, as snarky and insulting as you may be, as an aid to other readers, I think I'll point out that because qualitative research focuses on specific instances (or cases) rather than samples, tests of statistical significance and the effect size are not applicable to these types of data. You're the first person to bring up "statistical significance" here, and by doing so, it shows an utter lack of understanding how qualitative research works. Most of your other comments are even more bizarre, and therefore probably not worth addressing. - Thekohser (talk) 03:17, 26 June 2016 (UTC)
Okay, I know WP:CIVIL isn't exactly in force here, but maybe you both need to take it down a notch. N, that was a little dismissive, and Tk, that was a more personal than it needed to be.
To answer N's question, yes there are plenty of people who'd be willing to provide survey data, even the ones who had horrific experiences. Wikipedia is the sixth-most visited website in the world. It's on every search engine. It's mentioned in half our entertainment programs. No one can avoid it without disengaging from modern life. "Hey, here's a survey; do you want to participate?" isn't the first reminder of their experience that they'll have seen. It's one of many. Kosher, maybe Neotarf does understand qualitative research but is really saying that he'd feel more confident about quantitative results. Insulting him isn't going to help anything. If you act like something is concrit even if you suspect it isn't intended that way, you still get concrit.
And if you could give each other the benefit of the doubt, I'd appreciate it. Think of it as a favor to me personally. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:33, 26 June 2016 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: For what it's worth, you may not be aware of Neotarf's previous history of publishing defamatory comments about me. When I saw the same user pop up here (again) to disparage my efforts, it rubbed against the grain. - Thekohser (talk) 13:16, 27 June 2016 (UTC)
I was not aware. Wow. He's got you cold on hyphen usage (though it actually is okay to say out-of-line when it's used as an adjective, as in "out-of-line comments"). More seriously, though, why not just recycle his comments and make this the most solid, most successful study ever. "This study was so carefully performed and above-board that not even Neotarf could object to it!" That'd do more than show him. It would refute the things he said about you. And if he was sincere rather than just trying to get your goat, it would provide him with a serious answer. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:54, 27 June 2016 (UTC)
This is a rather misleading statement:

I own the domain name "", but I do not have moderator privileges on the site, I cannot "ban" or "mute" users, and I have no access to the site's server admin dashboard. As far as I know, the consortium of individuals who run the site have always had clear reasons for why some guests are banned or muted

I presume admins are given some discretion to deal with socks and trolls, but when it comes to established members it is my understanding that the trustees, including you, take a vote on whether to approve a ban before it can be carried out. This is what I was explicitly told occurred in my case. As much was stated both publicly and privately as the requirement to impose a ban on my account. Suggesting you have nothing to do with banning decisions on WO is deceitful and a classic Jimbo move, Greg.-The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:53, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Expand your idea


Would a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation help make your idea happen? You can expand this idea into a grant proposal.

Expand into a Rapid Grant
Expand into a Project Grant
(launching July 1st)



The organizers will seek out at least 20 different individuals who have been indefinitely blocked or community banned from a Wikimedia project. They will participate in a one-hour in-depth interview to assemble qualitative insights into the emotional, social, and occupational impacts on the blocked or banned individual. We will communicate the project to various noticeboards that are appropriate on Wikipedia and other sites, including sites where blocked or banned individuals gather (such as At the end of the project, there will be deliverables of a topline summary report of common findings among the n=20 sample, background and methodology information, transcripts (either verbatim or detailed summary) of each interview, word clouds to help visualize common themes that emerge from the discussions, and recommendations for process/community improvement in the blocking and banning process, from the perspective of the blocked.



Minimum number of participant subjects would be 20 respondents, plus 5 to 7 volunteer organizers. Success would be measured in how many of the report recommendations are actually trialed or implemented by various Wikimedia project communities.



The project designer is a market research professional (Fortune 50 company experience) with private certification in qualitative information gathering techniques. Additional resources would be helpful in the area of set-up of telecommunication (perhaps video-conferencing), to facilitate one-on-one and perhaps group-on-one interviewing environments.

Funding would underwrite:

  • Respondent incentives ($40 per each of twenty interviews -- subtotal $800)
  • Telecommunications fees (ranging from free to perhaps $200)

Project plan


Eventually, a complete project plan will emerge here. However, in the meantime...

Preliminary discussion ideas

  1. What have the "castoffs" learned from the experience, and would they edit in a different manner if they had it to do over again or were given the opportunity for a fresh start? (from User:Wbm1058)
  2. Have there been any real world repercussions from being banned? If so what were they? 17:24, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
  3. Request disclosure of any preexisting mental health issues.
  4. Were you blocked as a community action, AE action, etc.?
  5. How would you rate your prospects for being unblocked?
  6. Did/do you work in a directly related field to the topic of an article involved in your ban discussion, and was WP:COI perhaps a basis for the block? If it was, can you think of any ways to amend that policy to perhaps keep informed editors on such topics around in some capacity? John Carter (talk) 17:17, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  7. Did/do POV or WEIGHT concerns figure in your ban discussion? If so, can you think of any ways to change the policies and keep them effective but perhaps also keep the editors involved? John Carter (talk) 17:17, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  8. In addition to the mental health issues referenced above, did you find your personal behavioral characteristics were discussed in your ban discussion, and, if so, do you see perhaps some need to make allowances to allow for different personality or temperament types, like the w:Keirsey Temperament Sorter or the w:Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, to edit productively, with perhaps some suggestions on how to specifically do so? John Carter (talk) 17:41, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  9. How big a part of your life was Wikipedia/how often/how much time did you spend on Wikipedia?
  10. To what degree have you disengaged from Wikipedia?* (This question will have to be worded very carefully so that it is clear but not leading. What I'm getting at is that these days it is not possible to get away from Wikipedia. It shows up in every web search in every engine. That wasn't the case ten years ago. "Just ignore Wikipedia"/"take a break" is not a viable suggestion.)
  11. Have you contemplated suicide/had suicidal thoughts? (This one's been in the news lately.)
  12. Does being blocked affect you financially?
  13. Does being blocked affect your off-Wikipedia social life?
  14. Has being blocked affected your health?
  15. Is there any scenario you can think of in which, despite still being blocked, your well-being is otherwise less affected or unaffected? If part of the block process had taken place differently, even though the result was the same, would these problems be less severe?


  1. Personality characteristics of Wikipedia members, Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008 Dec;11(6):679-81. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0225., Y. Amichai-Hamburger, et al.