First off, I don’t want to sound condescending or arrogant. I know that some of our newest batch of administrators (if not all of them) have previous administratorship experience on other wikis (including The Sims Medieval Wiki). But, just the same, it doesn’t hurt to go a little bit into TSW Admin advice.

This isn’t meant to explain how to use the tools of the trade. Things like deleting, locking, blocking and doing other stuff like this will come as you grow into your position. This blog posting is specifically about when and in what way those tools should be used. Some of this is good practice in general, some of it is obvious and some of it is unique to TSW.

What is (in)appropriate?

This may seem like a pretty easy question to answer, but is it? Consider that what is appropriate for a 3-year-old, and 13-year-old and a 23-year-old vary vastly. As you all know if you read Policy, this wiki is written for a minor audience; specifically readers 13 years and older. That said, some things are very obviously inappropriate. Links to pornography or sexually-explicit material, sexually-explicit content included directly, blatant profanity, threats against others or threats to cause vandalism, vicious insults against others – all these are easy to spot and easy to remedy. However, determining whether something written on a talk page or a blog posting or forum thread is appropriate or not is much more delicate, and should be done carefully. Also note that bluntness or even apparent harshness in words is not inappropriate. It is a very fine line between appropriate criticism – harsh as it may be – and flat-out attacking, but it’s important that administrators determine what is happening and can see the situation clearly before issuing warnings or blocks.

Deleting stuff

This part is simple; just because you can delete something doesn’t mean that you should. For example, deleting the Main page would be an example of a very bad idea. Although you have the power to delete every page on the wiki (minus some MediaWiki pages), you obviously should not delete a page without good reason.

Determining good reason itself is sometimes difficult, but here’s a good rule of thumb: When it doubt, don't delete. Obviously, when spam or vandalism pages are created, those go right away. When a page is created that is completely empty, that goes too. But if you go to a page and are either unsure if the topic discussed is relevant or you feel the page may not warrant its own article, do the decent thing and nominate it for deletion, then start a discussion about why it should/should not go.

Speaking of Candidates for Deletion, try not to feel the need to keep that list short. Bear in mind that if a page is nominated for deletion (rather than Speedy Deletion), that the page may not be worthy of deletion at all; the purpose of nomination is to allow extensive discussion before a decision is made. It doesn’t hurt to keep pages nominated (unless they are inappropriate, as before stated) while the wiki community decides what to do with it. Also, 100% of the time and without fail, you absolutely positively should check the page, category, or Template's 'What Links Here' to make sure that the page/template/category isn't cited or used on any pages. If it is used on a lot of pages, wait to delete it until those links can be cleaned up.

Guide to Administrator-only templates

The Sims Wiki has a few templates which are hands-off for non-administrators; {{warning}}, {{tempblock}}, {{blocked}} and {{sock}} are a few of the most common ones. In the case of these common administrator-only templates, their purpose is to identify and attempt to correct negative or harmful behavior. I'm sure you've seen most (if not all) of them used around the wiki at some point, but since you've never yourselves been in the position to use them, here's a quick lesson in their syntax and their purpose.


The template {{warning}} is likely your most heavily-used administrator template. It's used on user talk pages to alert the user to undesirable behavior. The warning is not reserved for strictly bad faith editing (vandalism), but also for an accidental edit or something which may appear to be accidental. When in doubt, assume good faith and give the person the benefit of the doubt as to whether an edit was deliberate or accidental. However, a warning is still good practice when reverting edits due to bad edits, especially if the user (accidentally or intentionally) repeats the action.

The syntax for the warning is:

|reason=<reason why you're issuing the warning (try to be descriptive)>

As with other templates like this, be sure to always substitute the template (add the 'subst' prior to the template name). This causes the template to copy over directly onto the page, preventing the warning message from changing if an edit is made to the template. Also note that the Warning template is automatically given a level two header (i.e. == Warning ==) when it's placed on a page, so giving it a header is unnecessary.

Defining Vandalism

In speaking about warnings, I stumbled on an important principle: understanding what vandalism is (and isn't). As I said before, it's always good to give a user the benefit of the doubt as to whether their actions are vandalism or simple accidents. There are of course obvious circumstances (such as attacking a user on their talk page, replacing whole pages with profanity, etc) that are unquestionably vandalism, but so many more are hard to determine. Often, the best course of action is to revert whatever has been done, warn the user against the action (while being clear not to simply label it as vandalism), and wait to see whether the user does it again. If the action is repeated after warning, that leads to the conclusion that it's being done intentionally, and additional actions may be warranted.

Another thing which irks me slightly is the labeling of vandalism that isn't clearly vandalism. When an administrator cannot with confidence say that a person has acted in bad faith to cause damage to a page, that administrator should not accuse the person of vandalizing, or refer to that user as a vandal. The use of this title and term almost automatically indicate an assumption of bad faith, and should be avoided. As I said before, be sure to give people the benefit of the doubt at first.

Temporary Block

The {{Tempblock}} template is a bit more complicated than the warning template, but its purpose is obvious. This template is placed on the talk page of users who have received anything other than a permanent (infinite) block from the Wiki. Like {{Warning}}, it must be substituted onto a page.

The syntax is:

|reason=<reasons for temporary block>
|duration=<how long the block is set to last>
|expiration=<the time and date that the block will expire (look at the delete log to figure it out)>

Don't forget to include the duration and expiration time and date for the block on the template. The expiration time is easy enough to locate on the Block List. As before, make sure the block reason is clear.

Note as well that blocks aren't necessarily meant to be disciplinary matters, and shouldn't be regarded as such. Further, once a user has "served their time," that should be the end of the issue unless their behavior continues. If a user receives a block and repeats the action, escalating blocks (blocks with longer durations) may become necessary.

Permanent Block / Ban

For permanent blocks, we use two templates: {{Blocked}} and {{Blocked-talk}}. {{Blocked}}, when used, should replace the entire text of a user's userpage, and should state the reasons for their block. Likewise, {{Blocked-talk}} should replace the entire content of a blocked user's talk page, but this template has no required parameters.

I could spend the next several paragraphs stressing how important it is to not overuse the infinite block, but I think I would largely be repeating myself, so I'll keep it short and simple: use only when absolutely necessary and consider asking for other administrator opinion before making the block a permanent one.

When a user is permanently blocked, all the pages in their user namespace are deleted, as well as any fanon pages they have created (when the Fanon namespace is created).

More to come!

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