Protection disables for a broad range of users the ability to edit a specific article. Only administrators can execute this function. Generally, articles become unprotected within three months of their original protection. Protection is applied to articles which have legal meaning on the project, are under the scrutiny of the Wikimedia Foundation office, or have been heavily vandalized. Protection is often seen as an alternative to mass-blocking a range of users, and different types of protection can be applied.
- Semi-protection disables editing for users without accounts, or who are newly registered users. This protection is generally only used for vandalism.
- Full protection disables editing for all users unless they have sysop rights. This is used for protection of articles within the Office Action policy, or legal protection, as well as to stop edit wars.
The Portuguese Wikipedia has an intermediate protection level between the above two. When a page is protected with this level, only admins and autoreviewers may edit, move, upload, and/or create that page. The English Wikipedia also has two intermediate protection levels between the other two. One is limited on template namespace only, which allows admins and template editors to edit. There is also "extended confirmed" protection which is used where semi-protection proved ineffective. The protection level allows editing by all admins and any editor with 30 days tenure and 500 total edits.