Ban Policy

Reprimanding, Blocking, and Banning Users

Background

Members of the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) Data Working Group (DWG) have a set of tools that they can apply in cases of vandalism, edit wars, or other conflicts between users. These include:

  • publicly commenting on changeset discussions;
  • Sending a normal user-to-user message to someone;
  • sending a publicly visible "blocking" message to someone, which must be read before the user can make further edits;
  • removing offensive notes or comments on changeset discussions
  • blocking an user account temporarily for up to 96 hours;
  • recommending to OSMF that a user be blocked permanently.

Normal Messages and Blocking Messages

Members of DWG will usually make first contact through a changeset discussion comment or normal user-to-user message that makes it clear that the sender is writing in their capacity as a DWG member. A publicly visible "blocking" message will be used if there is reason to believe that a normal message will not reach the user before he makes further edits - either because the user is in the process of making edits, or because earlier attempts at communicating through normal messages have failed.

It is important to note that such "blocking messages" do not constitute an assignment of guilt.

Blocking Accounts

Each member of DWG can block a user from editing for up to 96 hours; such blocks are issued at the discretion of the acting DWG member and do not require prior discussion in DWG. Such blocks may be used as a warning against users who cannot be reasoned with, or simply to instate a cool-down period in an edit war that threatens to escalate, or a means to give DWG members time to investigate a conflict.

Each user block is accompanied by a public blocking message. All blocks are publically listed.

A DWG member can lift any existing block at any time, although usually only the person who created the block will consider lifting it, and lifting blocks is unusual since they expire rather quickly anyway.

Permanent blocks

A permanent block will only be considered in extreme cases, after several attempts at changing the offender's behaviour have failed and the offending behaviour continues over a period of at least three months, but usually more.

Before a user is blocked permanently, they will have received at least one warning, in their own language, telling them explicitly that an indefinite block will be considered if they continue with their offending behaviour.

An permanent block can only be placed if least half of the DWG have expressed an opinion and three quarters of those who have expressed an opinion are in favour of the block.

Permanent blocks can be lifted by a DWG decision, or upon successful appeal to the board of directors of the OSMF, or a person or body to whom the board delegated this duty.

If, while you are blocked, other accounts are found to be controlled by you, the ban would apply to those accounts as well.

Exceptions

DWG will usually treat mappers with respect, give them time to respond, and issue blocks sparingly. No such respect is afforded to accounts though which clearly have been created with the sole purpose of vandalizing OSM (e.g. writing expletives all over the map); such accounts may be blocked or banned without further ado.

This policy does also not apply to mappers who do not respond to repeated attempts to communicate with the DWG. They may be blocked until they reply.

Additionally it does not apply to mappers who violate copyright, database rights, or other similar rights.

Administrative

Policy approved on November 19, 2013 by the Management Team. See precise version approved.

Changes since then:

  • Addition of approval information
  • Removal of DRAFT notice.
  • Policy amended by board circular