Every now and then, the wiki comes upon a certain kind of user. It is difficult to describe what exactly defines this kind of user, but it is often some combination of the following:
- They have a history of many good edits, but also a significant number of times where they have been part of (or directly caused) a fair bit of trouble.
- They appear to be good faith, but for whatever reason do not learn from their mistakes.
- They repeatedly come close to a line of unacceptable behaviour, but never quite cross it.
The general theme here is that the user is a bother, but never enough so that it feels like a block is justified for any particular incident. While this isn't good, it's often not too bad in the grand scheme of things - the wiki is large and populated enough that any one user is unlikely to cause a lot of trouble across it without doing something directly blockworthy.
However, once in a great while, it does happen: a user has never done anything that by itself warrants punishment, and may be a productive editor on the whole, but it becomes clear that the sum of their edits and actions together is dragging much of the wiki down. In short, the issues and drama they cause outweigh the benefits of the edits they make.
Thus, we have the "Toomai Clause":
- We do not need a specific offense to occur in order to block someone - we just need to decide that such person is doing more harm than good by being allowed to edit the wiki.
What does this mean? It's kind of like how all that legal junk for public places/sports tickets/online games/etc includes a line such as "we have the right to kick you out for any reason, including no reason". They're not really going to kick you out for literally "no reason", but they need to be able to remove people that are causing problems without the troublemakers pointing at the rules and saying "but I haven't done anything wrong". Perhaps it is true that they haven't done anything wrong, but they've done enough that is not right that action must be taken for the benefit of others. The principle here is similar: perhaps a user hasn't done anything that warrants a block, but allowing them to keep doing what they're doing will keep damaging the wiki or frustrating its userbase.
Does this mean you might suddenly get blocked without any obvious cause? Not exactly. It's true that a Toomai Clause-based block could come out of nowhere - for example, maybe one member of the staff realizes that a user is worthy of such a block while reading a page's history for an unrelated reason, the staff discusses it, and the decision is made, all without the troublesome user having done anything to prompt it. However, if any of the staff have done their job properly before this, a TC block should not be a surprise; the user should have multiple concerns/suggestions/warnings about the issues in question on their talk page, and the TC block is the culmination of such messages not being acted upon. If you get blocked on the Toomai Clause, you had enough time to correct your actions, and yet another warning probably wouldn't have changed a thing.
Related essays on Wikipedia:
- Wikipedia:Please be a giant dick, so we can ban you (an observation on how editors who toe the line can be more damaging then those who cross it)
- Wikipedia:Don't be high-maintenance (behaviours to avoid if you wish to avoid a negative reputation)