Wikipedia:Three strikes you're out policy


This page is intended to propose a new policy for dealing with the recent spate of trolls and vandalism at Wikipedia. It is intended to deal with the vandals in an efficient manner without allowing sysops to abuse their blocking privilege. This applies to logged in users, not anonymous IP users.

The proposed policy is this:

  1. Sysops have the ability to block users considered to be trolling or vandalizing the project.
  2. No single sysop can block any logged-in user. Instead, it requires three sysops to block the user for that block to come into effect. The first two blocks will then serve as a warning to the user that her or his actions are unacceptable and provide an opportunity for that user to reform.
  3. Once a block is in effect, it will require three sysops to unblock the user.
  • Optional: One of the sysops involved in an unblock operation must have been involved in the original block.
Note: Point 3 was removed [1] at 22:22, Apr 9, 2004 and restored by BCorr at 15:02, Apr 10, 2004 -- those who voted during that interval may wish to review their votes.

In this way, no single sysop has too much power, and unblocking is a relatively easy process if the original block was unjustified. In obvious cases of vandalism, three sysops can be mustered easily, while in more controversial cases, it will be impossible to act unilaterally.

So, let's vote!


  1. Danny 02:36, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. Angela. 02:39, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
  3. BCorr|Брайен 02:43, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
  4. Hephaestos|§ 02:52, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  5. Fennec 02:53, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  6. RickK 02:56, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  7. Ambivalenthysteria 03:52, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  8. Jiang 11:05, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  9. Tannin 13:16, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  10. Seth Ilys 14:09, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  11. Sounds like software will implement this automatically, so if I click on a "Strike out" button (or something), that will increment the user's strike count. When it gets to 3, the "umpire" will jerk a thumb over his shoulder and cry "Yer out!". Support, of course. --Uncle Ed 14:43, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  12. Definitely. Kingturtle 18:36, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  13. Tεxτurε 21:59, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) - there is sufficient process to discipline an admin who steps out of line if this is abused.
    • Agree more now that the original wording has been restored
  14. A good start. -- Decumanus | Talk 22:00, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  15. Adam Conover 21:55, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
  16. User:WhisperToMe - Its a good idea in many cases, esp. with repeat edit warriors.
  17. fabiform | talk 14:59, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  18. Youssef
  19. Dan Carlson 18:03, Apr 10, 2004 (UTC)
  20. Tuf-Kat 07:55, Apr 11, 2004 (UTC)
  21. Plop 12:37, Apr 14, 2004 (UTC)
  22. Quadell 01:02, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  23. Zhen Lin 16:52, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC) (Consider supplanting quickpolls with this, or complementing with)
  24. Mos def. blankfaze | •­• 16:07, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  25. Hell yeah. This will only allow three vandalisms from log-ins rather than the five allowed under the current policy. Scott Gall June 28, 2005 05:09 (UTC)
  26. I think it will be good to start this, it alows less vandalisms and it stops one admin from abusing the privilege. Nazism isn't cool 28 June 2005 05:14 (UTC)
  27. Barely There 28 June 2005 05:16 (UTC)
  28. Jesus Lover 28 June 2005 05:23 (UTC) Vandalism is becoming a bit of a problem on Wikipedia, from IPs and log-ins alike. The log-ins will do anything, even page-move vandalism. Jesus Lover 28 June 2005 05:23 (UTC)
  29. As a Muslim, I have been getting very concerned with terrorist POV-pushers. This will have both sides keep their cool longer. (and if you want to know, I am an Islamic convert, but not a terrorist.) I've been concerned with how much POV is on ar:. HellRaiser 28 June 2005 05:29 (UTC)


  1. RADICALBENDER 03:07, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) (see my comments)
  2. — Jor (Talk) 10:59, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) (see comments)
  3. Martin 13:46, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) - Partly because the longstanding "one strike and you're out" policy for vandalism is working fine for dealing with vandalism, so why change it? Also, I believe that "trolling" is too vague and is liable to be abused for political purposes. However, clearly we do need to deal more effectively with genuinely troublesome users, and quickpolls and arbcom may not be sufficient.
    1. But that "strike" ususlly only comes in after five vandalisms, so the current policy is more of a "five strikes and you're out" than a "one strike and you're out." Scott Gall June 28, 2005 05:07 (UTC) PS: Why doesn't this work for anonymous IPs? Oh, that's right: the policy of not biting the newcomers.
  4. Jeeves 16:49, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) (see comments)
  5. andy - this would hinder fighting vandalism of logged in users. But we need a policy to handle with trolls quickly and effectively, they currently blossom like the weed in spring.
  6. 80.255 19:05, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) Not necessary; this would simply give more, unwarranted power to a small 'elite'. Someone will be proposing a Wikipedia:Kill the Pig! policy next!
    Do you have a different idea to propose on how to dealing with the recent spate of trolls and vandalism at Wikipedia?Kingturtle 20:26, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    There are proven strategies for faciliting personal change. Vandalism might be defined here as a bannable offense for practical reasons, but banning a vandal is no more productive for stopping repeated offenses than is banning known smokers in an open building such as a shopping mall or a school where managers wish to prohibit smoking. Mall security services that aggressively attempt to bannish smokers alienate valuable customers, rather than gain customer loyalty by encouraging shoppers to recognize merchants' interests. An effective strategy for stopping chronic illicit indoor smoking focuses on why the smoker wants to be in the building rather than on why the smoker smokes. A more sophisticated and empathetic strategy continues to explore why the smoker smokes by exploring the smoker's interests and helping a smoker develop strategies for realizing more rewarding interests. It seems flawed to claim Wikipedia is a community when putative community leaders refuse to commune with members of the community who have difficulty realizing their own interests and how those interests can coincide with community interests. JRT7 20:31, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    I Echo the above sentiments. People often start throwing the word "troll" around simply because they dislike a particular user. Any regulations against "trolls" or "disruptive" users (to whom?) without complete and unambiguous definition of these descriptors make witch-hunts very easy to start, and give far too much prerogative to a small group of users (with as few as 3, it not difficult to imagine all manner of grudges and discrimination's being practised). Provide unambiguous, objective criteria for 'trolling', and I would be far more inclined to support it. I will not, however, support any form of 'divine prerogative' for sysop cliques to indulge whatever petty prejudices they may have with impunity under the guise of 'striking out trolls'. You may catch a few witches, but you'll end up burning a lot more innocent old women. 80.255 22:08, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  7. anthony (see warning) 00:11, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  8. GrahamN 16:54, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC) Don't ban or block. Revert.
  9. Eloquence* 17:14, Apr 10, 2004 (UTC) (see talk)
  10. JRT7 20:31, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)Any policy developed around slang semantics suggests opportunities for subjective interpretation and advancement of personal agendas rather than the stated purpose of compiling an accurate and neutrally inclusive corpus.
  11. Jamesday 13:31, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC) It's unclear just what it is suggesting, so I oppose for lack of knowledge about what it is suggesting. Clarification and re-vote seems required. Comment is below.
  12. Solomaxwell 10:25, 12 Apr 2004 (EST) Well, what happens if a person makes an honest to goodness mistake? Sure, it might not happen three times... but I feel that if a something bad happens, and it wasn't the guys fault, why should they get in trouble?
  13. Andrewa 21:22, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC) I'd like more details on what I'm approving before approving it, and a bit more time to consider. In particular, IMO the system is working as is. What I would support would be a new soft block system to work like this proposal, to have alongside the existing one and to progressively replace it if it proves to work as well.
  14. Dittaeva 16:31, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC) See JRT7s comment. Also it is not clear whether the warning blocking is for real or actually warnings (which would not qualify as blocking...)
  15. Tuomas 13:42, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC) This makes wikipedia more of a cast-society, which I distrust, and it leads to focusing on the persons behind the texts instead of the quality of text by itself. A person might be a valuable contributors on some fields, but disruptive on other. And with 200 sysops, such a methodology as the proposed can easily be abused.
  16. Roozbeh 00:49, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC) This clearly adds to the unnecessary bureacracy.
    The wording implies that there will be some way for the to be blocked party to know that something is going to happen. At least one voter, Ed, appears to believe that there will be some sort of non-blocking counter, which probably won't provide any guarantee that the to be blocked party has seen it change, nor any time between consecutive changes, so it could go from 0 to 10 in seconds. Is this supposed to be "You've been blocked three times, now you are getting an indefinite block" or what Ed suggested? In US practice, three strikes laws are infamous for giving long prison sentences for trivial offences. Jamesday 13:36, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  17. [[User:Poccil|Peter O. (Talk)]] 19:25, Oct 10, 2004 (UTC)
  18. Really, how hard can it be? Revert vandals, ignore trolls, be civil. Instead we have attack vandals, play with trolls, be unpleasant, run a police system, spend all our time in politicking instead of editing. Dr Zen 04:31, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  19. Admins already have the discretion to block editors who are disrupting wikipedia. Such a block is reversible by any other admin. I see no reason to make it more complicated than that. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 13:11, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  20. Needs an exception for page move vandals, because they can cause so much damage so quickly. Rad Racer | Talk 19:19, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)


  1. MrMambo 20:50, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)~ Come on! "Three strikes and your out"??? It sounds like something the Bush regime could come up with to name a policy. I do think that vandalism and such could be blocked. And it sounds fairly reasonable that it would require three sysops to do it. Although I see the danger of a gang of sysops with "common" views goes around in Wikipedia and cleans away everything they find "entartete" (If you know about the supression of Entartete Kunst during the Hitler era). Well.. I get a lot of bad wibes from a policy with such a terrible naming, although I might have ben pro the policy hadn't I been so emotinally affected.

Take twoEdit

Vandals (as descibed at wikipedia:dealing with vandalism) may be blocked as now (see wikipedia:blocking policy#Vandalism).

Disruptive users (The Types Of Users Formerly Known As Trolls) may be blocked if three sysops agree that a block is warranted, and no sysops consider a block unwarranted.See Wikipedia:Blocking policy#Disruption for details.

Additional note: Blocking policy says of the "disruptive quality" in question: Such disruption includes changing other user's signed comments, or making deliberately misleading edits. I suggest that this be defined as such rather than simply including it: i.e. "A disruptive user is one who changes other user's signed comments, or makes edits that meet the definitions of vandalism" [which covers the deliberately misleading]. this would provide better objective yardstick against which to measure 'disruption'. 80.255 22:30, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)


  1. Adam Conover 21:55, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Tεxτurε 21:58, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  3. RADICALBENDER 22:09, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) Also reluctantly, and only if someone can figure out an effective way to implement this.
  4. Sam [Spade] 22:27, 29 May 2004 (UTC) Seems reasonable, but "disruptive does need a better defin.


  1. 80.255 22:08, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) "Disruptive" will mean all things to all people. You may as well simply tell sysops they can ban whomever they please, whenever they wish - it boils down to the same thing if such subjective criteria are used as a base.
    Accountability is built into the system. If not, it can be improved. - Tεxτurε 22:12, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    Why not simply specific objective criteria? How is accountability 'built in' otherwise? This is a vote on whether to enforce a certain policy on users who meet the criteria of 'trolling' - yet since these criteria are not defined, how on earth it be a just vote? 80.255 22:17, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    When did vandalism become "not" against the rules? - Tεxτurε 22:19, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. anthony (see warning) 00:11, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  3. GrahamN 16:54, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  4. JRT7 20:31, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)Reasons stated previous and following sections.
  5. Jamesday 13:47, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC) Perhaps we could eventually vote on something where what we're being asked to support is clear in advance?
  6. Dittaeva 16:31, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC) Reasons stated before and I cannot see how one would know what all the other sysops would think.
  7. Tuomas 13:51, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC) With regard to bad behavior other wikipedians are supposed to step in as teachers. Since many disruptive wikipedians have been accepted due to the value of their contributions, I'm sure this scheme would be perceived as arbitrarily working by them affected. What wikipedia needs is primarily a method to request community acceptance of edits before they are effectuated.
  8. JediMaster16 15:38, 26 Jun 2004 (UTC) A level of redundancy that is unnecessary.
  9. Yet more pointless instruction creep. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 13:13, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Definition of "disruptive"Edit

I propose the following definition to apply should either of the above policies be passed, in order to clarify exactly the behaviour this applies to:

A troll or disruptive user shall mean solely a user who

  • changes other user's signed comments
  • behaves in any way that, by current wikipedia rules, meets the criteria for vandalism
  • makes deliberately misleading edits to discussion pages - that is to say, makes changes to non-article pages that, by current wikipedia rules, would unambiguously meet the criteria for vandalism if they had instead been made to article pages.

(definition taken from "disruption" section of blocking policy)


  1. 80.255 22:42, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. Martin 22:44, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC) (the general idea is good. Obviously we'd want to add to the list as we discover more ways that people can be unreasonably disruptive)
    I'm pretty sure that deliberately misleading edits is already covered by vandalism. Have a look at Wikipedia:Dealing_with_vandalism#Types of vandalism under Sneaky vandalism. 80.255 23:00, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  3. Remove "troll": should be avoided in actual policy JRR Trollkien 22:47, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    The first policy on this page uses the word. I don't think it really matters what descriptive term is used, as long as it is objectively defined. 80.255
    This proposal seeks to objectively define it, and as such it matters not what the word is. If, case by case, new, objective criteria are found, and I think they should be added to the policy with the due process; then, in the event of problems of this kind, the policy will eventually be far stronger and better able to deal with disruptiveness than it would be simply to rely on the judgment of a few sysops (of whom the exact users will vary, in any case, and thus the quality and realiability of their judgements will vary too.) With this we can set down exactly what is not permitted, so that innocent users cannot be picked on and witch-hunted by one or two grudge-bearing sysops, but also that genuine reasons for action can be recorded in an objective fashion, building a far better system based on sound references, unambiguously clarifying the best course of action dependent on the case in question. 80.225 01:10, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)


  1. Solely is a bad thing. Policies need flexibility. Fennec 23:27, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • In order that any policy is fair, people need to know exactly what is and isn't allowed. By all means suggest additional specific, objective criteria, but "solely" is necessary, in order to prevent the label being applied unfairly. We need a yardstick against which to measure 'disruptiveness' objectively. If you forsee the definition as it stands being inadequent, then what specifically do you suggest be added? 80.225 01:10, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. anthony (see warning) 00:11, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC) One criterion, "changes other user's signed comments" happens a lot, and it's not always a bad thing. The other two are already covered under the term vandal, which isn't a problem in itself, but since the third criterion is a poor one it makes for a poor definition.
    • Martin added the second criteria, which presonally I think is covered by the criteria for vandalism anyway (see my comment to him above and link to the definition of "sneaky vandalism"). 80.225 01:10, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • If you want to revert me on that bit, I'm fine with that. Martin 12:03, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  3. GrahamN 16:54, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC) When did this site become Vote-a-pedia instead of Wikipedia? GrahamN 16:54, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  4. JRT7 20:31, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)Slang offers a poor semantical basis for policy and encourages dispargement of the misunderstood interests of others. Pedantry such as "solely" and the establishement of a pseudo-legislative format based on open polls rather than on representative democracy suggests an absence of substantive understanding of the elements of conflict. It demonstrates weakness among administrators who find themselves unable or unwilling to engage in mutual efforts to seek agreeable conclusions toward the purpose of creating an accurate, inclusively neutral encyclopedia.
  5. Dittaeva 16:31, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC) Agree with JRT7 also editing signed comments needn't only be bad. If it was, the software could implement this policy.
  6. Tuomas 13:55, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC) the chief definition of disruptive behavior should be "un-cooperative" and making other (valuable) wikipedians to shun wikipedia. This is not covered above.


I don't like the idea that three sysops are required to block a logged in user. What if the user is obviously vandalising a wiki where there aren't enough sysops to block the user? Perl 20:35, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)

We were just talking in IRC, so I know you know this now, but this policy is just for en. If other languages or wikimedia projects wanted to copy it, they could, but what suits a large community isn't necessarily right for a small one. fabiform | talk 20:40, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Then they get reverted instead, until there are enough around to do it. Soft security is the idea here, if it can do the job. A request in the IRC channel will almost always find at least three admins around if there's a real emergency and those admins can be expected to notice things elsewhere and seek assistance if necessary. In general, accounts which do vandalism are new accounts and blockable anyway, by just one admin, under existing policy. Jamesday 14:40, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Powerup, powerdown?Edit

This about reducing the power to ban people. Right now, any single admin can block you (or me) without notice. He/she has to be prepared to justify the action and take any heat that arises, but is free to act as he/she judhes best. This three strikes proposal is about reducing that admin power, about requiring three admins to consult and agree before acting. Tannin 13:43, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The policy proposed here is about increasing admin power, not reducing it, using this process to avoid using arbitration and quickpolls. Jamesday 14:21, 12 Apr 2004 (UTC)