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Welcoming back the banned

CzechOut December 24, 2013 User blog:CzechOut
Is Christmas a good time to start over with the people on your naughty list?
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As another year draws to a close, consider this: you might have people on your wiki's ban list that have been blocked long enough to get an undergraduate degree. If you're a newer wiki, you might have people banned in their freshman year of high school who now can drive. Or, if you're a really new wiki, you might have blocked someone six months ago for making unhelpful test edits who now has mastered source mode. In other words, the people on your ban list are likely not the same people they were when you blocked them. So maybe you should consider wiping your ban list clean — and having some faith in the transformative power of time itself.

We're welcoming back almost everyone to our Tardis

That's why our community has recently decided to allow back just about everyone we've ever banned over the last nine years. So if your name (or IP address) appears on this naughty list, you can come back at 2030 GMT on 25 December 2013. (Which only makes sense, since by then we'll have a new Doctor, a new era of the programme, and a fresh start for Doctor Who.)

Are you guys crazy?

Oh, very possibly. We know that some users might continue to exhibit counter-productive behaviour, and we'll have to block 'em again. But – essentially, and not to put too fine a point on it — who cares? Most people, on most occasions, probably are good. Or, at least, so we should assume. Especially at Christmas. And especially in the jubilee year of Doctor Who.

Is it right for your wiki?

We don't have any hard data to back it up, but, yeah, we think so. Our senior bureaucrat put to rest many of the doubts about the wisdom of this move when he said:

Unblocking everyone is something that's generally not done, anywhere. More editors on the wiki is a good thing; that's how the wiki improves — by having multiple editors.

Many of the editors who were blocked would have come afoul of enthusiasm and ignoring policies designed to protect the wiki against spoilers. I don't begrudge editors the enthusiasm, and it's something we need.

On the subject of trolls and vandals, wikis are always going to have them, it's just part of the internet. That is not a reason to not do this. We have admins and policies in place to take action if they turn up. But not everyone who's been blocked in the past is a troll or an (intentional) vandal.

~ Tangerineduel


His was a sentiment echoed by others:

At the end of the day, if someone makes constructive edits, then unblocking them is worth it.
~ Digifiend
I think this is a very nice idea which could have beneficial pay-off effects...
~ IrasCignavojo


That's not to say there was universal agreement. A few members were definitely opposed. But the general consensus of the two-week discussion was that it was an experiment worth trying. And it's just crazy enough to work on the whole Wikia network, too.

After all, it's Christmas — a holiday that, though steeped in tradition, usually rewards risk.

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