Submissions/The Effect of Blocking IP Editing: Evidence from Wikia

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission

The Effect of Blocking IP Editing: Evidence from Wikia

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission

Benjamin Mako Hill; Aaron Shaw

E-mail address;


User:Benjamin Mako Hill; User:Aaronshaw

Country of origin

United States

Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)

University of Washington; Northwestern University

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Famously, Wikipedia allows participants to participate and contribute "anonymously" as IP editors without registering an account. Even in the face of persistent vandalism and during crises around defamation, our community has steadfastly refused to require contributors to adopt accounts. On one hand, this insistence on supporting IP editing has repeatedly been cited as a reason for Wikipedia's growth and success. On the other, our wiks continue to be dogged by vandalism and malicious editing with the large majority coming from unregistered editors. Numerous online communities have blocked unregistered contributions (or even required the use of real names) and claimed that vandalism decreased as their communities continued to develop unaffected. Even thriving wikis like WowWiki have required accounts since their earliest days.

Although Wikipedia has never blocked IP-editors wholesale, many other wikis have. By looking at a large number of these examples, we will map the tradeoffs associated with allowing contributions from unregistered users. We will present a quantitative analysis of more than 150 wikis hosted by Wikia that blocked IP-based editing. In each community, participation by non-registered contributors had been allowed before a change to the site settings was made that required contributors to register accounts.

We show the effect of the blanket IP-bans by comparing contribution patterns in all of the wikis immediately before and after the change. We look at the impact of requiring account creation on several aspects of the quantity and quality of subsequent contributions. In particular, we show the effect in terms of changes in the:

  • Degree to which both good faith editors and vandals create accounts to work around the ban on IP editing.
  • Rate of editing by registered and un-registered contributors.
  • Quality of content being contributed as measured by content persistence (i.e., how much text that is being added stays on the sites?).
  • Amount of damage being done as measured by the number of reverts and the amount of content being removed in edits as measured by content persistence.

Do account creation requirements drive away vandals and support high quality contributions? Do small barriers to entry chase away good-faith contributors who would otherwise add valuable content? This research sheds new light on these questions as there have been almost no systematic attempts to compare the benefits and costs of account creation across many communities.

  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
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  1. Legoktm (talk) 06:24, 28 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. Well, what are the answers? Are you going to make us show up to learn the results? Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 07:09, 28 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yep. ;) We're trying to finish analysis this week! —mako 06:06, 1 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 12:19, 28 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. CT Cooper · talk 13:03, 28 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. --Harmonia Amanda (talk) 18:52, 1 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  6. Sounds interesting, --L235 (talk) enwiki 19:04, 1 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  7. KrystleChung (talk) 22:08, 1 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  8. guillom (talk) 23:57, 7 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  9. Risker (talk) 02:18, 8 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  10. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 04:33, 26 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  11. Mattflaschen-WMF (talk) 01:19, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  12. WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:59, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  13. Neil P. Quinn-WMF (talk) 19:07, 15 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  14. --アンタナナ 04:53, 17 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  15. MRG90 (talk) 17:46, 17 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  16. Add your username here.