Wikipedia:Guide to appealing blocks

This is a guide to making believable unblock requests.

Users may be blocked from changing Wikipedia by administrators to stop damage or disruption to Wikipedia. Blocks are cancelled if they are not (or no longer) needed to stop such damage or disruption.

You, as a blocked user, are responsible for convincing administrators:

  • that the block is in fact not needed to stop damage or disruption (i.e., that the block violates our blocking policy); or:
  • that the block is no longer needed because you understand what you are blocked for, you will not do it again and you will make good changes instead.

Making convincing unblock requests is also important for other reasons:

  • If your request doesn't help us find out whether your block was justified or not, the reviewing administrator may decline your request out of hand.
  • In complicated situations, the reviewing administrator may not want to spend a long time reading your whole talk page and all of your changes. They may instead choose to review only the issues that you raise in your unblock request. Arguments made elsewhere may not be read.
  • If you make repeated invalid or abusive unblock requests, you may lose access to your talk page or your talk page may be protected from changing, which means that you may never be unblocked.

To make an unblock request, copy the following text to the bottom of your user talk page: {{unblock|1=Insert your reason to be unblocked here}}. Don't forget to insert your own reason. We will talk about what your reason should and shouldn't have below.

What happens when you request unblock

It may help with your unblock request if you understand how they are reviewed, and by who.

  • After you save the unblock request to your talk page, it is placed in Category:Requests for unblock. Many administrators check this category often. Any of them may read your request, and decide to take action on it. By custom, the blocking administrator does not make a decision on your unblock request (unless they are lifting the block), although they may post a note for other admins doing the review.
  • A reviewing administrator may decide to investigate, or let other administrators consider the request. If they choose the latter course of action, they do not have to indicate in any way that they viewed your request.
  • An administrator reviewing your request will likely look over several logs to decide whether the block was good. These logs, with except for the deleted changes, can be seen by any user. Almost always, administrators will review your changing history leading up to the block. They will view your block log to see whether you have been blocked (and unblocked) before, and for what reasons. They will also look over your talk page to see if you were properly warned, and the history of your talk page to see whether such warnings or previous unsuccessful unblock requests have been removed prior to the current unblock request.
  • They may, if they choose, leave a note for the blocking admin if they feel they need more information. If they are considering unblock, administrative etiquette requires they let the blocking admin know and have a chance to respond. If the blocking admin is willing to let another administrator unblock and leaves a note on your talk page indicating this, any administrator can unblock you.
  • If your request is accepted, they will leave a templated response on your talk page and unblock. If it is declined, they will give their reasons in a change to the request template.

Composing your request to be unblocked

In practice, almost all unblock requests are declined. This is because almost all blocks are found to be justified. But if yours is the rare exception, you should try to make it as easy as possible for the reviewing administrator to see why. Administrators are volunteers; most do not want to make much more of an effort in reviewing your request than you did in writing it.

Understand your block

To contest your block well, you must understand the reason for it. Also, if the reviewing administrator decides that the block was justified, they will not unblock you unless they is convinced that you understand what you are blocked for, and that you will not do it again.

You are told about the block reason in two ways. First, the blocking administrator provides a brief reason that you will see when you try to make a change. Second, they may leave a message explaining your block on your user talk page. These messages should include the names or abbreviations of those of our site rules (the "policies and guidelines") that the blocking administrator believes you have violated.

Before you make an unblock request, you should read the policies and guidelines named in your block reason. They are usually one or more from among the following: Vandalism, sockpuppetry, spamming or having a bad username. You should also review the blocking policy.

Give a good reason for your unblock

As a user requesting to be unblocked, it is your responsibility to tell clearly and briefly, in easily readable English, why your block violated Wikipedia's blocking policy. Specifically:

  1. Keep it short. Administrators will often say no to read requests that are too long.
  2. Be kind. The use of profanities, ramblings, ALL CAPS SCREAMING and personal attacks will lead to the decline of your unblock request without further review of your changing history. The block duration may also be extended.
  3. Say what is wrong with your block. It is not enough if you just say that the block was "wrong" or "unfair". You must explain why it was wrong, and why this means that the block has broken our blocking policy.
  4. Address the block reason. As explained above, you have been informed about the reason for your block. You must address this reason in your request. This means that you must either explain why the block reason does not apply to your case, or you must convince the reviewing administrator that you won't do it again.
  5. Give evidence. If you state that you did or did not do something, please provide a link in the form of a diff if possible.
  6. Don't behave like you think lawyers do. Unblock requests are unacceptable proceedings. A ban or block is a removal of your privilege to change Wikipedia. Any legal right you may have to freedom of speech does not stop us from enacting and enforcing our own policies and guidelines. We may also check which IP address you change from, and which other accounts use it, where this is necessary to prevent abuse.
  7. Do not threaten legal action, either. Such threats may, by themselves, result in an indefinite block or even, a ban.

Talk about yourself, not others

If you are blocked, it is because of your actions and not of that of others. Accordingly:

  1. Do not attack or accuse other users, such as those you may have been in a problem with, or the blocking administrator. If they have done something wrong prior to your block, they may be blocked in turn, but that does not matter in your unblock request. The only thing that needs to be addressed is why you no longer will try to violate policy.
  2. Do not excuse your actions with that of others. Two wrongs do not make a right. It is not a good unblock request to ask that another user should also be blocked.
  3. Assume good faith. It is possible that the other users who may have reported you, and the administrator who blocked you, are part of a conspiracy against someone half a world away they've never met in person. But they probably aren't, and an unblock request that presumes they are will probably not be accepted by anyone.

Agree to behave

If you are blocked for something you did wrong, and especially if you are blocked for a long time, you are more likely to be unblocked if you:

  1. Admit to it. All your changes to Wikipedia are logged. There is no point in saying that you didn't do something that you did do, because it can and will be checked up.
  2. Make people trust you again. Promise, credibly, that you will stop doing whatever got you blocked.
  3. Tell us why you are here. Say how you intend to help the encyclopedia after you are unblocked.

Examples of bad unblock requests

Requests such as these are likely to be denied. If made repeatedly, they may also lead to your block being made longer or to your talk page access being removed.

Here are some bad unblock requests:

  • You must not stop me from removing falsehoods from Wikipedia and from inserting correct information! (A very long explanation why you are right and why everyone else is wrong follows.)
  • This is an unfair block! I am new here! I did nothing wrong! The blocking admin hates me! UNBLOCK ME IMMEDIATELY, THIS IS CENSORSHIP, I HAVE A RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH!!!
  • If you block me, you must block User:OtherPerson too! He has been vandalizing even more!
  • Please unblock me. My sister / brother / friend / roommate used my computer and pretended to be me. I won't let this happen again.

Special situations

Hacked accounts

If you state in your request that the changes which led to your block were made by someone else who logged on to your account without your knowledge or permission, we will have to leave it blocked and request that you start over with a new account. You may have changed the password, but administrators have no way of knowing if it was even you who did this. It is better with respect to security for you to open a new account with a strong password, in any event.

Open proxy blocks

Wikipedia policy on open proxies is clear: they are blocked for a long time without exception once identified. While some users can use them to circumvent censorship or filters, they have been used far too many times by far too many blocked vandals for Wikipedians to assume good faith on their part. This includes Tor nodes. If your server has been blocked as an open proxy, you will probably need to change using another connection: in most cases, proxies are "hard blocked", which stops even logged-in users from using the connection to change.

Shared IP blocks/Range blocks

Sometimes readers who have never or rarely changed before, or not from that location, with no goal of making an account, click on "change this page" only to find that changing from their IP address is blocked, for something they didn't do. If you are here because this happened to you, there are two possibilities.

  • Range block. Wikipedia administrators can choose to block a range of IP addresses rather than just a single one. This is done if a vandal, sockpuppeteer or otherwise disruptive user has taken advantage of en:dynamic IP or other situation (such as some LANs) where it is possible to evade blocks by hopping from IP to IP or physically moving from one terminal to another. Yes, this angers many users (the longterm rangeblocks imposed on some large ranges mean that, in certain geographic areas, some users cannot change without using an account). But the Wikipedia community does not take these actions lightly, and while some rangeblocks may be reduced in scope if they were imposed on too many users, it is only done if other methods of protecting the project and its users have failed.

    If you are blocked due to collateral damage from a long term range block, consider creating an account from another computer.

  • Shared IP block. This affects big institutions, most commonly schools, that route all their Internet traffic through one or two servers. Since many users can change through them and we have no way of knowing if a vandal or disruptive user on a shared IP has been stopped from doing so again, or what security arrangements are in place on the other end, administrators are wary of unblocking shared IPs. Those that are blocked (again, mostly schools), are commonly blocked repeatedly and for long periods (up to a year at a time) for vandalism. If the reviewing administrator sees that reflected in the talk page, block log and change history, the unblock request will likely be declined.

    If you are the systems administrator at a site with a shared IP, and you are able to identify and take action against users whose conduct on Wikipedia led to the block, we may consider an unblock if you can prove this. Most commonly, though, the best solution for Wikipedia and users alike is to simply create a registered account and change with it. This can be done by connecting to Wikipedia through another internet connection that is not blocked.

Sockpuppetry and Checkuser-based blocks

Accusations of sockpuppetry result in many blocks and almost as many unblock requests, as Wikipedia policy calls for the sockpuppet account to be blocked indefinitely and the sockpuppeteer to be blocked for some length of time. Users confirmed or believed to have engaged in the practice must request unblock at their main account. Meatpuppets will be blocked indefinitely also, don't change on behalf of someone else, no matter how well you may know them.

Reviewing admins will usually defer to the blocking admin in a sockpuppetry-based block, especially if the sock account has few changes. If the meta:Checkuser tool was used to determine that sockpuppetry had occurred, only another administrator with access to Checkuser can overturn the block as only they have access to the evidence on which it was based. Do not make an unblock request that includes a request for checkuser to "prove your innocence". Those are rarely done that you're better off not asking. Most administrators consider such an unblock request a sure sign of a sock account (particularly one with very few changes otherwise) and will decline on that basis.

Even without the use of Checkuser, or with a result of "unrelated", an account that makes the same changes as a different blocked account, has the same linguistic peculiarities and the same general interests may remain blocked.

Wikipedia admins can never be absolutely sure about sockpuppetry, and the most abusive users can be very sneaky in trying to stop detection. If you are improperly blocked for sockpuppetry, you should realize that it may not always be easy or even possible to correct the situation.

Username blocks

Accounts with usernames that violate the username policy are often blocked indefinitely, regardless of their changing behavior.

Most such accounts are soft-blocked, meaning a new account may be created while the old one is blocked. This is done because it is the account name, not the behavior of the person behind it, which is the problem. While it is possible to request a change in username, this takes a little longer and requires that a user with bureaucrat access do so. Whichever method you choose, it is a good idea to have some review of the proposed new username first, to avoid ending up in the same quandary.

An account with a username that indicates that they are trying to be disruptive, uses hateful or obscene language or otherwise shows that the user has disruptive or provocative intent will be hard blocked, meaning that an unblock request will be required.