Open main menu

This is the talk page for discussing improvements to Commons:Blocking policy.

Proposal to change wording for "unauthorized bot accounts"Edit

Proposal

Current wording:

Unauthorized or non-responsive bot accounts. Bot accounts not authorized by the Commons community are not allowed to operate on Wikimedia Commons, and questionable bot-like editing that cannot be explained by the user should be blocked until discussion takes place. Bot proposals can be discussed at Commons:Bots or Commons:Village pump. Bots may not be operated on Commons without advance permission (which can be sought at Commons:Bots/Requests).

Proposed wording:

Unauthorized bot-like accounts and large scale automation. Disruptive large scale use of automation without a consensus or supporting discussion, including bot-like accounts without bot flags, or large scale changes using tools from main accounts or legitimate sock accounts, may be blocked until discussion takes place. Test runs, bot proposals and proposals for major automation projects can be discussed at Commons:Bots or Commons:Village pump.

This removes the implication that Bureaucrats or any other group needs to "authorize" all non-trivial automation, this is not the current Wikimedia Commons community norm for automation, and it is not a realistic expectation. In particular there is no need to seek pre-authorization for the use of standard tools, or custom automation that does the same job, like cat-a-lot, VFC, AWB, or F2C, so long as the changes being made are not disruptive, but part of the normal housekeeping or other helpful maintenance tasks that may or may not be completed using bot accounts (i.e. accounts with a Bureaucrat approved bot flag). The current wording routinely leads to confusion and delays for high value content projects, with users requesting bot flags for noncontroversial tasks as simple as an upload project or limited and monitored housekeeping tasks, such as recategorizing files for a project with only a few thousand files as its scope.

The new wording introduces the consideration of "disruption", which in practice is the only thing that matters when questions are raised about large scale automation. A good faith user running their own automation projects will always avoid having their account(s) blocked so long as they are prepared to stop the automation while discussion about potential disruption takes place.

Note that malfunctioning bot accounts are under a separate paragraph of BP, so this paragraph only needs to address accounts without bot flags.

Preliminary discussion of this proposal from last month is available at Commons:Bots/Work_requests/Archive_15#Bot_account_misuse,_revisiting_COM:BP. I am quite happy to reword the specific change proposed based on further feedback.

Notifications have been posted at COM:BN and COM:VP. -- (talk) 11:55, 15 May 2019 (UTC)

  Support I also agree it makes sense not to distinguish between bots and tool use. A bot that does good is no worse than someone with cat-a-lot who does good and someone who does bad with VFC is no better than a bot that does bad. - Alexis Jazz ping plz 12:06, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
  Oppose There is a difference between blocking a bot-account and a main account that uses automatization tools. The threshold to block a bot-account can be very low (as suggested by the old wording). The same threshold cannot be applied to main accounts that use automatization tools (as sugessted by the new wording, even if they seem disruptive on first glance). A block history on a main account is a different thing than on a separate bot-account. I would be personally offended if my main account ever got blocked (for whatever resason). My bot account got blocked several times already, which I consider a natural part of the bot improvement process. --Schlurcher (talk) 07:29, 16 May 2019 (UTC)
@Schlurcher: Fair enough comment. As there will probably be very few votes on this, so it's more a collegiate consensus rather than a vote, could you recommend a smallish change in the wording that you would prefer? Thanks -- (talk) 16:15, 17 May 2019 (UTC)
Hi, Fæ. I understand these as two different concepts. I rather would like to have two separate statements, i.e. both:
  • Unauthorized or non-responsive bot accounts. Bot accounts not authorized by the Commons community are not allowed to operate on Wikimedia Commons, and questionable bot-like editing that cannot be explained by the user should be blocked until discussion takes place. Bot proposals can be discussed at Commons:Bots or Commons:Village pump. Bots may not be operated on Commons without advance permission (which can be sought at Commons:Bots/Requests).
  • Unauthorized bot-like accounts edits and large scale automation. Disruptive large scale use of automation without a consensus or supporting discussion, including bot-like accounts without bot flags, or large scale changes using tools from main accounts or legitimate sock accounts, may be blocked until discussion takes place. Test runs, bot proposals and proposals for Major automation projects can be discussed at Commons:Bots or Commons:Village pump.
I'm however not convinced that we need the second bullet at all. Disruptive edits (independent if large scale or not) should fall in the category of vandalism and that is already covered. It could be a sub-bullet of that "Disruptive large scale use of automation" --Schlurcher (talk) 07:45, 22 May 2019 (UTC)
Needs improvement. With all due respect to , “disruptive” edits should meet block before growing to become “large-scale”. Yes, I’d like to see administration acting like police. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 17:19, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
What is intended is to fill the gap. We do not block accounts from making annoying but not breaking changes, but if those annoying changes are apparently automated and done at scale, that is systemic disruption and needs to be explicitly blockable without the admin asking for a consensus to get on with it. If you can think of a short and better way of expressing that, please propose some words. Thanks -- (talk) 18:22, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
“Disruptive use of automation at high rate without a consensus, or automated edits persisting after complaints…” Incnis Mrsi (talk) 19:06, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll look at integrating it when I'm back from travelling in a couple of days. -- (talk) 19:38, 18 May 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I could get on board with this. If you are doing a large amount of semi-automated edits, when you see a message on your talk page, you should immediately stop and make sure it isn't someone raising issue with your edits, not carry on for another half our and then see what the message was after 5,000 additional unhelpful edits. In this situation I can see that it would be reasonable to issue a block if the user is non-responsive. But I do still think we should have a general expectation of at least attempted communication prior to blocking, which isn't necessarily the same expectation when it comes to bots. GMGtalk 17:16, 27 May 2019 (UTC)

Legal threats (again)Edit

In Commons talk:Blocking policy/Archive 1#Legal threats, my proposal to make legal threats grounds for blocking was rejected. Nevertheless, I see legal threats being used as a rationale for blocking users, e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here. Is it time to reconsider the previous community decision? LX (talk, contribs) 14:30, 28 July 2019 (UTC)

Legal threats are already a grounds for blocking. Blocks are for "behaviour that has the potential to damage Commons or disrupt its collegial atmosphere"--the threat of litigation, especially as it is commonly used (as intimidation/bullying), is inherently a disruption to a collegial atmosphere. The explicitly bulleted reasons in the "Use" section are merely "The more common [reasons]"; it is not, and not meant to be, an exhaustive list. Эlcobbola talk 14:41, 28 July 2019 (UTC)
It would also behoove us to document the situations where opinions differ, so as to avoid confusion, arbitrary decisions, and criticism on the basis that admin decisions do appear arbitrary. As it stands, I see comments from experienced users saying that blocks for legal threats have no basis in policy on Commons just about as frequently as I see other experienced users proclaiming with equal conviction that legal threats are grounds for blocking. Likewise, I'm having a hard time reconciling your definitive assertion with the diverging opinions in Commons talk:Blocking policy/Archive 1#Legal threats, Commons:Village pump/Proposals/Archive/2011/09#Legal threats and Commons:Village pump/Proposals/Archive/2015/08#Legal threats and blocking. But since it does appear to be de facto practice, I think it should be documented in the policy. LX (talk, contribs) 18:49, 28 July 2019 (UTC)
Other discussions are OTHERSTUFF. My assertion need not reconcile to the comments of others, it needs to reconcile to policy and, indeed, I've cited current policy as the basis; I don't see that you've actually offered a response to my points, and threads from 2011, 2012 and 2015 certainly don't either. If there is a policy-based argument that blocks for legal threats have no basis, then present it. Further, explicit addition is an unnecessary acquiescence to wiki-lawyering (i.e., it gives credence to the notion that an issue must be explicitly listed); admins should use judgment when blocking based on thoughtful consideration of prevention of disruption, whatever its form, not blind adherence to a list. Эlcobbola talk 21:33, 28 July 2019 (UTC)
Return to the project page "Blocking policy".