Requests for comment/Broad IP ban on the German Wiktionary

This is a subpage; for more information, see the Requests for comments page.

I have, for many months, been unsuccessful in trying to make any edits to the German-language Wiktionary. This applies equally to anonymous and non-anonymous edits, and affects even pages that should reasonably be editable by anyone and everyone, such as Wiktionary:Spielwiese (the local sandbox).

When attempting to edit any page, more specifically when save an edit, I get a banner with the following message (emphasis etc. in original):

Achtung: Diese Bearbeitung entspricht einem typischen Muster für fehlerhafte oder unsinnige Bearbeitungen und kann nicht abgespeichert werden.
Falls es sich bei dir um einen begeisterten Unitymedia- bzw. KabelBW-Kunden handeln sollte: Es freut uns wirklich sehr für dich, dass du eine so reichhaltige Programmvielfalt genießen kannst. Aber dies hier ist ein Wiki-Wörterbuch und Hinweise jeglicher Art zur Programmvielfalt oder zu Senderverschiebungen sind bei uns nun wirklich fehl am Platz.
Wir hoffen, dass du dafür Verständnis aufbringen kannst, und bitten dich für die Zukunft, von weiteren Bearbeitungen bezüglich Programmvielfalt oder Senderverschiebungen abzusehen. Vielen Dank für deine Aufmerksamkeit und dein Verständnis.
Kurzbeschreibung der verletzten Regel: Filter gegen einen Dauertroll

I am not a customer of Unitymedia or KabelBW, certainly not the person this appears to be addressed to. Edits I am trying to make are constructive. I tried raising this issue locally on the German Wiktionary, but the filter also prevents me from editing talk pages (and in fact any page at all whatsoever).

The filter is triggered regardless of the content of an edit (I verified this on the local sandbox). The issue also persists across browsers, and has been plaguing me for at least six months. I have made no attempt to edit the German-language Wiktionary before, but presumably, the problem itself is much older than six months: according to the German-language Wikipedia, the brands KabelBW and Unitymedia were discontinued in 2015 and 2020 respectively, which would suggest that the filter must be at least three to four years old.

Since my ISP assigns new IPv4 addresses daily, my suspicion is that this is an AbuseFilter rule that affects a broad IP range, perhaps one previously assigned to Unitymedia or KabelBTW: that is, that a local admin decided to permanently block an entire ISP at the AbuseFilter level in order to deal with a persistent vandal.

The AbuseFilter rules on the German Wiktionary do not appear to be publicly visible. As such, I cannot even determine whether my hypothesis is correct.

It is my opinion

  1. that permanent IP blocks should be used with great care, and reviewed regularly;
  2. that IP blocks affecting a broad range of IP addresses should only ever be used as a short-term stopgap measure;
  3. that when blocks of any kind are instituted, it must be ensured users affected unfairly can raise this issue locally;
  4. that AbuseFilter is not the right tool to institute IP blocks;
  5. that any Wikimedia project must uphold certain standards of openness and editability; and
  6. that the German-language Wiktionary, with this frankly kafkaesque situation, falls short in this regard and violates the spirit upon which Wikipedia and hence all Wikimedia projects were originally founded.

Since (as I said) there is no way for me to raise this issue locally, I would appreciate it if any Stewards could look into this matter, either by direct intervention or by way of a discussion with the local admins. In the latter case I would suggest that there should be a follow-up by the Steward later on to ensure that the issue has in fact been addressed.

In the name of all users affected by this problem, thank you. KeinKabelKunde (talk) 12:05, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

@KeinKabelKunde, please see de:wikt:Benutzer Diskussion:KeinKabelKunde.
There have been attempts to persuade the WMF (via Wikimedia DE) to take legal action against this vandal, who is also up to mischief in other Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia. But the WMF has so far shown no interest whatsoever. And as long as the WMF is not prepared to do anything about it, the blocks and the corresponding filters will remain active.“ (Translated with
With kind regards --Udo T. (talk) 12:45, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the reply. This is exactly why I think Steward attention is required here. KeinKabelKunde (talk) 12:47, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
The stewards can also only set blocks or set up filters.
In my opinion, the WMF should take legal action against this extreme vandal. Best regards --Udo T. (talk) 12:51, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
You misunderstand. I do not think that Stewards are needed to deal with the vandal you mention, but rather to ensure that the German-language Wiktionary complies with the guiding principle of openness that is shared by all Wikimedia projects; fighting vandals is fair enough, but not at the cost of essentially closing the project off to a large number of users. I've outlined my thoughts on the matter above, specifically in the six numbered list items, and will not repeat them here. Thank you for your understanding. KeinKabelKunde (talk) 12:59, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I think you misunderstand something here: Stewards do not interfere administratively in the internal affairs of a wiki project. That is not their job.
With kind regards --Udo T. (talk) 13:04, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Info-Ping to @Johannnes89 and @Schniggendiller: Es geht um den Kabelsender-Troll. --Udo T. (talk) 13:04, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@KeinKabelKunde only abuse filters can help against the severe vandalism, which the cable troll has unfortunately been practicing for years. I have reviewed the deWiktionary abuse filters, which are similar to the abuse filter we use at deWikipedia against the Kabeltroll. I can't see any major problem with the rate of false positives, that's just how other projects use abuse filters as well. And no there are no IP-ranges being blocked entirely via filter, its always a combination of different factors to make the filter as precise and as effective as possible.
The fact that false positives occur on certain pages, using certain keywords, IPs, usernames etc. is annoying, but much better than the alternatives (numerous rank blocks + page protections), which would affect significantly more innocent users.
If you register a new account with a normal sounding name, there should be no problems doing regular edits such as the one you intended at wikt:de:Wiktionary Diskussion:Wunschliste. Johannnes89 (talk) 13:30, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Johannes89, thanks for your reply and the explanation. I understand that those involved are acting in good faith, but sometimes good faith is not enough, and I would like to ask you to put yourself into my shoes and understand why my whole experience with the German-language Wiktionary has been suboptimal. A few further points:
  1. I do not wish to register an account; I prefer editing anonymously. This is a personal preference (and positive anonymous contributions to Wikimedia projects are encouraged just as much as positive non-anonymous contributions).
  2. I cannot verify how any of the filters work, as I do not have the ability to view them. I have no reason to distrust you when you say that "no IP-ranges [are] being blocked entirely via filter", but neither do I have a reason to take this assertion at face value, and I would be happy if an uninvolved Steward could verify that this is indeed the case. (For the record: fhe filters mentioned on your user subpage apply to the German-language Wikipedia, not the German-language Wiktionary.)
  3. I take issue not with the filters as such, their technical implementation, or their intent (fighting vandalism). I take issue with the fact that I - and hence presumably many other users - have been unable to do any edits whatsoever to the German-language Wiktionary for at least half a year, and presumably much longer. Collateral damage of this sort is unacceptable.
  4. I further take issue with the fact that the filters not only prevent any kind of editing, but also make it impossible to engage in a local discussion about said filters. (If this had been possible, I would not have taken the discussion to Meta.)
  5. I also would like to reiterate my belief that while filters, blocks etc. are tools that can be used to assist admins when fighting vandalism in the short term, long-term filters must at the very least be
    1. narrowly-tailored to a specific purpose, and
    2. subject to regular review.
  6. This is especially true for filters that outright disallow edits, as opposed to e.g. flagging edits for admin review, and that disallow edits to any page whatsoever and without any regard for content at that, as this filter appears to do. (Mind that I cannot see how any of the filters involved work, and therefore have to guess what they do and how they work based on my own experiences.)
  7. I understand the need to fight vandalism, but you should remember that fighting vandalism is itself just a means toward an end: the creation of an open, freely-accessible dictionary that anyone can edit, and that this is the yardstick against filters etc. must be measured.
  8. Finally, since I foresee that someone will raise the issue of volunteer admins' workload/limited time, I appreciate that the admins are indeed volunteering their time, but this too does not absolve them of the responsibility to run the project in such a way that the fundamental principles upon which Wikimedia projects are built are respected.
KeinKabelKunde (talk) 13:58, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
  1. You can edit without an account, but not on all pages due to the abuse filters (by the way: using an account is equally if not more anonymous than a publicly visible IP address). Without abuse filters we would have to use more page protections which is much more severe as this impact all IP editors and not just some.
  2. You can view the deWiktionary filter hitrate here [1]. If you compare the hitrate of the deWikipedia Kabeltroll abuse filter [2] with those at deWiktionary [3]) you'll notice there are similar peaks and a similar number of hits per week (except for this summer when the LTA for some reason primarily focussed their vandalism effort on deWiktionary). You can of course ask an uninvolved Steward to review this, but deWiktionarys usage of abuse filters is just like other projects use it (larger communities like enwiki [4] are even relying to a much larger degree on abuse filters).
  3. Your presumption is wrong, see the linked abuse filter hits above, the overall hitrate is not very high and just a few of those are false positives.
  4. As far as I can tell (looking at wikt:de:Spezial:Missbrauchsfilter-Logbuch for the past couple of days) you didn't even try to report today's false positive somewhere at deWiktionary.
  5. The deWiktionary abuse filters are narrowly-tailored and they are subject to regular review (most of the filters we are talking about have been updated within the last couple of weeks according to wikt:de:Spezial:Missbrauchsfilter/history).
  6. Yes, but why not ask someone with actual knowledge about those filters about your issue instead of filing a request for comment based on your wrong assumptions?
  7. The fundamental principles are being respected. Just because some pages are protected, some IPs are being blocked or some combination of IP/keywords/pages etc. are being blocked via abuse filter to prevent further vandalism, this doesn't change the general principle. Bear in mind that some projects have banned IP editing entirely [5] while were are just talking about a small amount of abuse filter false positives which cannot always be prevented (unless you change a filter to become far less effective).
Johannnes89 (talk) 15:06, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
IDK, perhaps you could now successfully apply for ip-block exemption on dewikitionary given that you're almost certainly not a troll? Firestar464 (talk) 21:12, 25 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Info: Long story short: This has been going on for many years now, but nothing is being done by WMF. In my opinion, the only sensible solution would be for the WMF to finally take action and prosecute this permanent vandal under civil law (in Germany a so-called „Unterlassungsklage“). --Udo T. (talk) 14:37, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Well..., if you talk about the devil, uhhh troll, he already appears, see history of this Page. --Udo T. (talk) 16:35, 13 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]