How to resolve the problem of IP and user blocks in African editathons

These are really good suggestions you have all made, @Joris_Darlington_Quarshie I am curious, what does the African Technical community members think of this IP block issue and the suggestions for mitigation raised here? Are members of the technical community working on something to help solve this problem?

I have read all the suggestions made here and I must say I am impressed by the suggestions everyone has made on this platform. The African Technical Community is aware of this global issue, mainly how it affects the African continent.

But let me share some insights and updates here!

The admins working to keep the projects safe from bad-faith people, and the good-faith people who are being blocked because of someone else’s range block, or because they’re using default network proxy features that they’re not aware of which has gotten the attention of the WMF, especially because there are systemic issues that are specifically making things harder for new users in Africa.
Currently, the director of product management, Contributor tools does have the opportunity to assign people to make software changes to help solve this problem, which is great. But in our last conversation about Open proxies and IP block issues, we were trying to figure out what those software changes could be, and since there was not a clear idea of what these software changes should be.

Although there’s a cluster of many different problems, based on the last conversation we had, we were trying to figure out which problems we could actually make progress on.

Below are some of the possibilities:

  • Mitigate the harm coming from open proxies, so we don’t need to automatically block them

  • Understand the difference between a “dangerous” open proxy (which bad-faith people are actually using) and a more “innocent” proxy (which is just blocked because we know it’s a proxy), and then treat them differently. (If it’s possible to make that distinction.)

  • Make the messages to good-faith people more helpful and less frustrating

  • Make the unblock request process easier/faster/more friendly for the people making requests

  • Make the unblock request process easier for the people responding, so they can process them faster (or involve more people who can help)

  • Make it easier for good-faith people to get some kind of automatic exemption

  • Make it easier for campaign and editathon organizers to whitelist their participants

  • Adapt the system better to the reality of African ISPs — figure out what the problem is, and treat those ISPs differently

In addition, the Wikimedia Foundation Product department has then followed up by undertaking stakeholder discussions in all the areas I have above mentioned to understand the problem from all different perspectives. As we go through this process the product department is also looking at potential technical solutions that would reduce some of the pain points that have been brought up both on the mailing list and on the talk page. There are some existing recommendations on the mailing list and the meta page that are good starting points for the discussions of Open proxies and IP block issues.
The product department will be summarizing their findings and sharing them on the mailing list and the talk page once they have completed this process. So I will be sharing the suggestions raised here with the product department in other for them to add them to their list of findings before summarizing their findings and sharing it on the mailing list and the meta page.
If anyone has direct feedback, kindly do feel free to reply to this message.

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Also, with regards to the African Wikimedia Technical Community. This is an underrepresented technical community within the Wikimedia movement so in terms of influential contributions with respect to resolving global issues. This community has not fully matured to that stage.
But below are some of the few minor initiatives the community is currently embarking on to support the global Open proxies and IP block issues;

  1. Since event organizers, volunteers and user groups do find it difficult to resolve their IP block issues through multiple modes of contact such as the stewards’ mail, contact form and also following the instructions in the notification they do receive, we sometimes do support them with a list of the usernames some active administrators and stewards that are frequently online to support them with their issues.
  2. Also based on our last discussion about this issue, we did come up with a suggestion for some software changes which then ended up in the conversation of building a throttle in the wikimedia-l. (A throttle plus flagging proxy edits to admins are really good ideas. Creating visibility for functionaries and ways to dial down the volume without blocking everyone entirely is the right way to allow more openness balanced with control). the downside of this is that this is still annoying as hell for good-faith users, but at least they will be able to request exceptions on the wiki.
  3. The last initiative the African Wikimedia Technical Community is currently looking forward to pushing is an initiative of “Know your administrators and stewards”. This initiative seeks to raise a suggestion of splitting up administrative and steward rights to the country or regional level. Whereby each country or region can have a range of 2 to 4 administrators and stewards combined if they do meet the requirement. I am glad this initiative shares the same view as one of the suggestions made on this platform.
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Murakoze cyane ibi byari bikenewe nokumenya icyo Wikipedia Foundation Product department icyo irikubikoraha ndanyuzwe kubwubusobanuro uduhahaye :clap:

Yes if more editors are granted user rights to grant IP unblocks or exemptions it is going to help. But largely like its been said here new user contributions would dwindle in this parts due to IP blocks and even persistent blocks on certain usernames and accounts.

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This is currently in the planning stage, but we are looking forward in putting in more efforts when the Product Department shares its summarized findings on the meta page and the mailing list as stated above. So that we will know how best to promote this initiative to the Wikimedia Foundation.

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Helping a user be unblocked on Wikidata

Any update Regarding problem facing Africans volunteers and mitigating the situation while waiting for a long term solution from WMF, If more volunteers in Africa are granted the administrative right could this be useful in mitigating this problem!?
do we have decision makers to react practically on issues and ideas identified here on this platform!?

Hi, I have merged posts from different topics all discussing the problem of IP blocks. Also, the first post is now wiki editable so that everyone can contribute improvements to the problem description and potential solutions (some are mentioned in this discussion, and it is easy to miss them). Hopefully, this will help this discussion move forward productively!

I read this thread for the first time, thanks @Qgil-WMF for sewing together all those cases/incidents. Thank you so much those organizers driving African editathons, you are so important.

My input will be looking at the future first. Do you find Event Dashboards usable, those earnest editors running editathons in the continent?

AND those, including me, located far from the continent, how can we be more intuitive and encourage using the Event Dashboards at editathons? If I were to stand in for my friend and do an editathon tomorrow, I will be lost at:

  • If I sense the ratio of organizer/facilitators at editing parties could be off balanced/too small,
  • yes, this editathon is so popular and has attracted too many participants; is it a successful metrics?
  • but I don’t have a check sheet to be prepared for unexpected situation, like people too excited and starts writing overwhelmingly. What is the best dialogue to have their attention tuned to safety zone?
  • Am I advised that Wikidata is not very accepting to group editing? (Maybe that is the cultural side we tend to overlook.)
  • Am I given enough hint of such a worst case, that I look like a ring leader of vandals, if my editathon participants starts and inputs on a single page, causing bots to warn ‘‘edit wars’’ “vandalisms”. Am I a very bad actor?

Now deeper into the air-pocket this thread presents us.

Disheartening to see that time-factor blocks us apart as from the Earth to the Neptune: I know CUs are over-occupied to safeguard our Wikimedia, for safe spaces, tho, I don’t want them earmarked as not helping friendlier environment on-wiki, NO.
What we lack is tutorial/education. Each culture has its unique threshold of acceptance/foregiveness, and where do we stand as Wikimedians?
I still hope that Event dashboard is handy as teaching materials at editathons. I will keep translating the how-to pages, so that maybe such a shameful incident will be prevented in my language region. Well, my region is, so shy to test the water to start with… A tool engineered for the first-time wiki-editors needs a good salesperson around here…

Shall we use it, contribute pages/data items, and dance with joy to see the knowledge is shared with other humans. Aren’t we Wikimedians?

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How do you address the problem if the administrators don’t understand the problem? Our IP blocking is a result of a failed system. They share IP amongst millions. When you log in to edit, they see it from their end as someone wants to vandalize Wiki. Why have they not brought on board many Africans as administrators so that they can look into the issues critically when it arises? Are the administrators who are not Africans trying to marginalize Africans, because what I see here is that they do not want Africans to be involved. When you send them messages, you don’t get a response from them. I have begged many times before that my account is not a sock-puppet, but what did I get from them? a non-listening ear.
The question I ask again is it that the foundation doesn’t know the challenges we Africans are facing with Administrators or they choose not to interfere? The situation has gone from bad to worse.This is so sad and demoralizing, when you as a leader cant help the people you have encouraged to join a community and when they get there all they meet is a block. Africans are now incapable leaders who cant help their followers because they are also helpless themselves.

More Administrators from Africa are needed ASAP.

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@Semmy1960 there are several issues that are related but mixing them doesn’t help finding solutions. Also, I don’t think anyone is trying to marginalize anyone else, but if this would be happening it should be reported and investigated.

I’m not an expert in any of these topics, but in case it helps moving the discussion further, there are some problems one can find in this discussion:

Editathon organizers facing problems with IP blocks. It seems that you don’t need administrators to prevent this problem. Wikipedia:How to run an edit-a-thon - Wikipedia explains how to prevent problems with IP blocks and (I believe) the use of th Programs & Events Dashboard - Meta also helps.

What channels are you using? Are these public reports i.e. in an admins noticeboard? Can you share the links?

Yes! How do we achieve this together? These future administrators need to come from Africa, and for that volunteers in Africa need to step in. How can the rest of us in or outside Africa help find and support these future administrators?

I think through more Awareness campaigns

I have moved the posts specific to @Semmy1960 to a new topic specific to this personal case, to keep the discussion here focused on finding general solutions to the problem of IP and user blocks in African editathons.

Training for new administrators is always welcome and perhaps there are precedents that could be reused for a training in Africa? There is nothing specifically regional about administrators work, if materials for administrators’ training exist somewhere else, they should be recyclable. Then again, having African administrators on Wikidata (or any project) shouldn’t be required to solve the problem of blocks in editathons.

Good preparation by editathon organizers is easier to achieve. You already have editathon organizers). Wikipedia:How to run an edit-a-thon - Wikipedia explains how to prevent problems with IP blocks.

Sharing a notice about an incoming editathon in the administrators noticeboard and requesting help to prevent accidental blocks is also easy to do, at least to ask. This should help prevent surprises, and if anything happens this notice should help show that you did all correctly on your end, so the accidental blocks should be easily lifted.

Finding allies among the admins of the project you are supporting should be possible too. Most admins want to help, this is why they become admins. Finding an admin in your time zone willing to help you prepare a block-free editathon shouldn’t be very difficult, or at least less difficult than bringing a new generation of African administrators.

Please don’t get me wrong, the idea of having admins from Africa (and any region) needs to be pursued, it’s the most sustainable solution. I’m just pointing out that there are other solutions that editathon organizers can apply here and now.

Question: does anyone know when and where is the next editathon organized in Africa? What if we take it as a pilot to try all the ideas discussed here?

Yes, indeed we are experiencing difficulties in editing these days.

Welcome @Uncle_Bash007. I hope you enjoy your stay here. It is a very engaging platform with a lot to learn. sit back and enjoy the ride!

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Thank you Semmy1960, and I love adventure😇

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Some of these problems were reported on wiki earlier this year: Talk:No open proxies/Unfair blocking - Meta

I would be very interested in having links to other discussions/reports of similar problems.

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Hello. I think you should check out this link ⚓ T309328 Range IP blocks should not block trusted logged-in users (autopatrol, bot, sysop) for more information on IP Blocks

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