Wikipedia talk:Username policy

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Suggestion for the blacklist?[edit]

I've just seen "[username of another editor] is sus" being used by a recently-blocked vandalism-only account - if this is already on the blacklist, then please accept my apologies! From what I gather, this is slang used on the mobile game Among Us, but is also a homophobic slur (short for "suspicious"). Patient Zerotalk 01:43, 24 June 2021 (UTC)[]

Notifying AmandaNP of this thread. Patient Zerotalk 01:46, 24 June 2021 (UTC)[]
It doesn't seem clear to me how or why the word "suspicious" would be homophobic, but I will second that a username containing "is sus" seems quite likely to be a shitpost, and at the very least should be flagged for some sort of review. jp×g 22:37, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]

Discussion on how to advise new users choosing their username on the signup page[edit]

 You are invited to join the discussion at MediaWiki talk:Signupstart § Protected edit request on 4 September 2021. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 08:10, 5 September 2021 (UTC)[]

RfC: Language at new user signup page[edit]

In this recent discussion, we considered various tweaks to the message that appears at the top of Special:CreateAccount. Most of those have now been implemented, but one point of disagreement is what we should communicate regarding real name usernames, discussed at this policy at WP:REALNAME. Which of the following should be used at MediaWiki:Signupstart?

  • Option A: Consider using a username other than your real name...
  • Option B: We suggest you use a username other than your real name...
  • Option C: We strongly suggest you use a username other than your real name...

{{u|Sdkb}}talk 05:51, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]

Courtesy pinging participants at the other discussion: @Joe Roe, Izno, Xaosflux, TonyBallioni, L235, WhatamIdoing, and MSGJ: {{u|Sdkb}}talk 05:51, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]

  • Option A. "Consider" is the precise wording used in this policy. We have no policy or guideline that "suggests" or "strongly encourages" pseudonyms—many editors, myself included, edit under our real names—and the wording of interface messages should follow policy, not the other way around. – Joe (talk) 05:58, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose all three I am 100% in support of allowing editors to contribute in total anonymity if they want. Similarly, I am 100% in favor of allowing editors to disclose their real world identities if they want, as long as they are well informed about the matter. I have long disclosed my real world identity, consider myself a semi-public figure, and am an actual mature adult fully prepared to deal with the consequences. I would not want to be harangued this way if I was signing up in 2021 instead of 2009. My public identification as a Wikipedia editor has been overwhelmingly positive to me. Why try to discourage other editors from choosing the path that I selected? Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:09, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Cullen328, you said it yourself - [I] am an actual mature adult fully prepared to deal with the consequences. Not everyone signing up is mature, adult, or prepared to deal with the consequences. GeneralNotability (talk) 12:40, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Further, most people wouldn't have a clue what the consequences might be. I have seen a couple of good editors using real names who were always civil and welcoming, yet they ended up getting harassed at work (phone calls to their manager saying the person was a disgrace and should be fired). That was the result of defending the encyclopedia against a crackpot. Johnuniq (talk) 23:38, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose B and C, neutral on A versus none of the above, as we do not and should not actually discourage people from using their real names. Although most editors may well prefer to use a pseudonym (and I support them in that choice), in some cases there may be actual advantages to using a real name. As a case in point, I have long used my real name, and have occasionally encountered real-life harassment for doing so, but there are also advantages that I think outweigh that: it has made it easier for subjects of articles I've edited to contact me with constructive change requests as not everyone is comfortable using the on-wiki contact mechanisms, and I get a small amount of credit in my real-life job for public outreach. —David Eppstein (talk) 06:58, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • I appreciate that Cullen has had a positive experience in allowing their real identity to be known. However, I think it would be highly irresponsible of us as a project to not be forthcoming with knowledge that the use of a real name on this project has led to real world harassment. I don't know if any of the wordings above are the right way to go about this. But, we must have something that educates unknowing new users to the real threats that using your real name could entail. There's also the reality that everything on the net is permanent. We can't be babysitters to that, but we do have a responsibility to uphold if for no other reason than the self-serving reality that a real-name editor might be forced to leave. --Hammersoft (talk) 12:29, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Like Renamed user 7z42t3k8qj. Izno (talk) 13:19, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Unfortunately, editors using pseudonyms also experience harassment related to their Wikipedia editing, including outing. Although I realise people have been shocked by the recent resignation, I don't believe that there's any actual evidence that editing under you real name makes harassment more likely or more damaging. There is even an argument that harassment would be discouraged if more people had names that suggested they were "real people". In any case, the topic of this RfC is how we should word an interface message for new users, not whether we should change the substance of this policy (which, again, does not forbid real names as usernames). – Joe (talk) 14:05, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Joe Roe, what recent resignation are you referring to? Ganesha811 (talk) 14:10, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    The one Izno linked to just above my comment. – Joe (talk) 06:50, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Joe Roe, ah, I missed that, thank you - that is sad. Ganesha811 (talk) 11:38, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option A, but never B or C. --Orange Mike | Talk 12:40, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Not A and probably not B as well per my comments at the start up page. People should have the luxury of being more forthcoming later rather than make a potentially dangerous decision their first day on the wikijob. As for "the interface should match the policy", this RFC is on the policy page so I see no reason it can't change the text in question on the policy. --Izno (talk) 13:17, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B or C, but not A. Stifle (talk) 13:26, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • None of the above, but definitely not B or C. No evidence that using your real name as your username in any way encourages harassment. The most blatant cases of harassment - GorillaWarfare, Phaedriel, SlimVirgin - are of editors not using their real name as their username, but being doxxed anyway. --GRuban (talk) 14:26, 10 September 2021 (UTC) Striking opinion, per GorillaWarfare, below. --GRuban (talk) 04:10, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Comment Until I see female editors !voting A using the "I edit under my real name and it's been fine" argument, I'm very much inclined to doubt it. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 14:42, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B > A > C I'm incredibly unconvinced by the arguments from ignorance made by my male colleagues above. In this article for the Electronic Frontier Foundation Jillian York lays out not only the importance of pseudonymity, but specific case studies in the harm real-name policies create for marginalized groups. She points to an essay compiled by our peers at Geek Feminism Wiki which compiles research that some of my male peers above are seemingly ignorant of. A 2006 report found that users with feminine names receive 25 times more malicious messages than masculine-named users. A 2010 study found that at least half of teenagers who are LGBT (of which our community has many) experience cyberbullying and harassment for their identity, and using or encouraging real names places them at increased risk of being found by their harassers. Children do not have the capacity to understand long-term consequences, and we have minimal protections for our younger editors; failure to adequately convey the potential harms of using a real name risks disproportionately affecting children who may not understand the risks, and would place an increased maintenance burden on us due to revision and log suppression. The benefits of using a real name are minimal for most editors—this isn't 1998 and we aren't hanging out with Ward Cunningham to discuss software patterns—so it make sense to generally caution new users against using a real name given what we know about the nature of online harassment. Will it stop all harassment? Obviously not, but just because pseudonymous editors get harassed too doesn't negate the fact that people who use their real names face distinct risks. Encouraging editors to use a pseudonym is an extremely simple way to reduce the risk of harassment, and while I'm glad that my male colleagues above have had such success using their real names, I'd ask them to consider what attributes they all share that might lead to survivorship bias. Wug·a·po·des 19:13, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    You are badly cherry-picking, Wugapodes. There is a mountain of literature suggesting the opposite: that anonymity accentuates the online disinhibition effect, making toxicity and harassment feel more socially acceptable.[1][2][3][4] Pseudonyms can also imbue a false sense of security, leading people to self-disclose more than they would otherwise and potentially putting themselves at risk because of it.[5][6][7] This is why many major platforms require or encourage real name usernames, notably Facebook and the late Google+, but also smaller sites like Quora, and publications like Popular Science. Before you jump on me, I know this is a topic of debate, and many of those systems are controversial – but it's not nearly as clear-cut as you make out above. In any case, I'll reiterate, the question posed by this RfC was not what our real name policy should be, but how best to summarise our existing policy to new users. Consider the possibility that the "male colleagues" you're castigating did not respond with a research essay because we were answering the question we were asked, not because we're ignorant androcentrists. – Joe (talk) 06:44, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Consider who would be emboldened by anonymity to harass and who would be the victims of that harassment, and I think you will find that my argument is consistent with your evidence. I sincerely doubt women and LGBT teens are using anonymity on wikipedia to launch coordinated harassment campaigns against our straight male editors. It's ironic you claim I'm "badly cherry-picking" when you ignore a number of other factors mentioned in your references which contribute to an online disinhibition effect, namely asynchronicity and minimization of authority, both of which I would argue contribute far more to any such effect on our platform than the choice of user name. Even if anonymity alone emboldened harassers, the added difficulty in identifying targets limits the potential damage to victims as GW points out below. I'm under no illusion that this will be the magic solution to all problems, but the issue of imprudent disclosure you raised is already handled by our policies at WP:OVERSIGHT, WP:CLEANSTART, and WP:VANISH which functionaries can (and do) point to when needed. As you mention, a number of websites have real name policies, and as you also mention these are contentious. But again, consider what you are sweeping under the rug by just calling them "a topic of debate". Among whom are these policies controversial? You'll find at Facebook real-name policy controversy (linked from the real-name system article you referenced) that those most notably affected tended to be marginalized groups. In fact, as you'll find in the first article I linked, York specifically references these platforms and the impact they have on particular groups. She even lays out some of the upsides you articulate (again, ironic that you claim I'm "badly cherry-picking"), but I agree with her that "It is not incumbent upon strict real-name policy advocates to show that policies insisting on the use of real names have an upside. It is incumbent upon them to demonstrate that these benefits outweigh some very serious drawbacks." To your bolded point, while that may be how you interpret the question, I clearly read it differently. My apologies for assuming that you put more thought into your response than just quoting policy, but I do appreciate that you took more time to contribute a reason that goes beyond uncritically upholding the status quo. Wug·a·po·des 07:38, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Where was this nuance in your original post? I would be very happy to see a revision to our username policy that is based on this body of research, which gives new users accurate and succinct advice with which to make an informed decision. But, as GW points out below, this is a harder problem than the phrasing of one sentence. It is not something we're going to get to by trading gut instincts in a hastily put together RfC. The benefit of the status quo, in this instance, is that it does not make a commitment either way. Nobody is suggesting that we should have a real name policy like Facebook (obviously), just that we don't tell people not to use their real name. Your original one-sided argument, portraying your position as the only one with empirical support and those who disagree with you as ignorant mansplainers, says we should rush into a strong, positive recommendation that, according to the research, might improve our culture, but equally might not. You're a smart guy, Wugapodes, but that doesn't mean everybody else is an idiot. – Joe (talk) 08:39, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Well, speaking for myself, I'm definitely an idiot. jp×g 23:25, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    @Wugapodes: I find your blithe and gender-based dismissal of my opinion as an "argument from ignorance" to be, frankly, offensive, especially when my comment stated that I have experienced real-life harassment rather than being ignorant of it. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:24, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    "Ignorance" not in the context of experiencing harassment but rather who the risk of harassment is not acceptable or who are not secure enough in their positions to be able to weather harassment effectively. I thought this was clear in the context of my whole comment, and I'm sorry if it was not. To clarify, you said "I have long used my real name, and have occasionally encountered real-life harassment for doing so, but there are also advantages that I think outweigh that: it has made it easier for subjects of articles I've edited to contact me with constructive change requests as not everyone is comfortable using the on-wiki contact mechanisms, and I get a small amount of credit in my real-life job for public outreach." You seem to have not only endured the harassment but by your own admission have benefited in your job despite it, and from your own statement seem to see the benefits to outweigh the increased risk of harassment and actual harassment. Given that I think it is entirely reasonable to observe and ask: "while I'm glad that my male colleagues above have had such success using their real names, I'd ask them to consider what attributes they all share that might lead to survivorship bias." Like planes returning from a mission, I think we should think more critically about who is willing or able to endure long enough to make it to these discussions. I'm more interested in the people who have lost jobs or left wikipedia due to harassment than I am in those who succeeded in their jobs and continued to stick around despite occasional harassment. Quite literally, what do you all have in common that distinguishes you from those whose harassment is so severe that they leave? I think the answer is patently obvious. Wug·a·po·des 21:07, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    I think you are being sexist and gender-essentialist. My ability to endure harassment has much more to do with my line of work than my genitalia. Look, I am not denying that pseudonymity can be useful. I think many people benefit from it. You are denying that identity can be useful, and trying to push even those people who might benefit from it to forgo those benefits. —David Eppstein (talk) 21:37, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B - When someone signs up, they might not realize what they're going to get up to on Wikipedia. They may not realize in what ways people see their username. They may not realize that everything they ever do on Wikipedia is documented in detail... and attached to your username... and visible to everyone... including: stalkers, agencies of oppressive governments, potential employers, etc. And then if you want to change it later? Either you abandon your account, or change the username... and it'll still be easily connected to your real name. So yes, we should be actively discouraging real names. I'd go so far as to suggest something like "We suggest using a name other than your real name. Wikipedia usernames are public, cannot be made unpublic later, and will be stored in a historical record of all changes you make to Wikipedia forever." — Rhododendrites talk \\ 22:56, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B or C. Jake Wartenberg (talk) 23:51, 10 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Heretical question Does it matter? That is, do the stronger phrasings in options B and C actually convey the concerns that motivate them? If we spell it out, as the second sentence in Rhododendrites' suggestion does (Wikipedia usernames are public, cannot be made unpublic later, and will be stored in a historical record of all changes you make to Wikipedia forever), then it seems to me that we could start with the less forceful Consider... like in option A and make the same point. On the other hand, if we don't provide an explanation like that, what message actually comes through? XOR'easter (talk) 01:15, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Some variants not proposed are in the history of the related page: first stable version, my minutes-living temporary direct version, and then this message until recently. These were all cut down by recent activity which made the current version.
    There is evidence that my changes in April were noticed by the WMF in fact, though they didn't connect the dots themselves. See phab:T289799. Izno (talk) 04:25, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Comment: It seems to me that the three options presented above are roughly equivalent, and I'd be surprised if one or the other significantly impacted users' decisions when signing up. It would be difficult to succinctly explain precisely why new Wikipedians ought to strongly consider keeping their identities private, and to do so in a way that would not scare away potential editors, but I think that would be more productive than minor but ultimately inconsequential language tweaks.
    As to the general question of whether editors whose identities are known are face more or worse harassment, I have no doubt that they do. I suspect that even if I had managed to remain completely pseudonymous on Wikipedia, but everything else was the same (specifically my topic area interests and activities as an admin and arbitrator), I would still be harassed. But it is the knowledge of my real-life identity that has enabled the most severe harassers, who have published my address and threatened to come to my apartment, harassed my family, contacted my employers, etc.—all things that require knowing who I am. GorillaWarfare (she/her • talk) 02:35, 11 September 2021 (UTC) (Noting I was invited to this discussion by GRuban)[]
  • For anyone who was curious, this was originally implemented when a bunch of oversighters on a monthly call we had started doing early in the pandemic when someone noted that we get a ton of requests for suppression of real names that we don't suppress as a de facto matter of policy (see Wikipedia:Oversight#Privacy_of_account_renames, it is not part of the policy itself, but it is the standing interpretation of the Oversight team that we added to provide clarity to the community.)
    I don't really have a strong opinion on the wording, but it should be made clear to people that if they're at all concerned about their privacy, they shouldn't use a real name on Wikipedia, since the Oversight team will not suppress it, which means they really have no recourse once it's out there. TonyBallioni (talk) 04:40, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Strongly oppose all three per Cullen's rationale and the following additional reasons: (a) personal security guidance should not be crowdsourced; the same consensus-building approach we use to determine how to present the history of jean jackets is not transferable to providing safety advice with real life implications, (b) at this point in time, most people who have the wherewithal to come to WP and create an account will also have an awareness of the ramifications of using real names, (c) those who lack the awareness described in 'B' may assume a false sense of security using a pseudonym which could amplify, rather than mitigate, their risk (e.g. all of these suggestions are worded in such a way that a person who otherwise lacked privacy comprehension might choose as a username some existing social media handle that, while not their real name, was easily fixable to their actual identity). That said, I would not object to a neutral statement that merely described the basic facts of username permanence rather than providing advice or recommending a course of action, such as the statement one described by Rhododendrites ("Wikipedia usernames are public, cannot be made unpublic later, and will be stored in a historical record of all changes you make to Wikipedia forever."). Chetsford (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2021 (UTC); edited 08:19, 11 September 2021 (UTC); edited 08:23, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Support B first, then A. Oppose C - As a renamer, we get a lot of individuals who don't realise it's not needed. Stronger language may help here. It may also cut down on uwwellknown blocks. If we could confirm reader attention for longer, I'd support a more nuanced setting out of the issue in a couple of lines. But we don't have that, so I think this is best. We can always re-name people to having their real name if that's what they want. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:22, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Strongly Oppose All Three per Cullen; but also this: The first piece of user research I ever went through about WP was about "why do people create accounts" and weirdly the most common was "in order to show support for Wikipedia" (very, very popular in Spain for some reason). These people do not truly understand what they are getting into by doing this (they do not not often grasp what "doxxing" is or why it would be undesirable), and I very strongly believe that we should err on the side of "most protection" for our users rather than "least protection", and encouraging an anonymous user name or a handle is the best thing we can do. The language should be very particular about why creating an account with an anonymous name protects anonymity over not creating an account.--Jorm (talk) 18:17, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    That's a good reminder—many users who create accounts aren't thinking at all about editing (if I'm remembering correctly, I originally created mine just since I like to be logged in on websites so they remember my settings, etc.). We still want these users to create accounts so that if they do ever start editing it'll be tied to them, but the way we may want to speak to them may not be what we'd expect. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 18:23, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    • I'm not certain I understand your comment; if you believe that pseudonymity is erring on the side of protection, then option C that clearly encourages a pseudonym would be best?
      I mean, the best possible thing would be to make certain that the user understands that using one's real name has serious consequences and have them make the best possible choice according to their situation, but no verbiage can do this. At best, it can encourage in the least harmful direction. — Coren (talk) 20:11, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • The statement should be that if you use a real name, or make any statement on Wikipedia that can be traced to your real world identity, you may suffer real world harassment and other consequences. We should not pretend that everybody who comes here is sane or rational, because we know perfectly well that they are not. If you venture an opinion that some extremist does not like then they will move heaven and earth to track you down if they can. We've seen it happen hundreds of times. The late SarahSV knew this from personal experience. One (now banned) editor placed poisonous and mendacious stories with a tech newspaper to try to win arguments here. Other user have written for extremist websites, inciting retaliation against individual Wikipedians who they believe they have identified. I have been targeted by aggrieved spammers, True Believers and charlatans. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.20.240.157 (talk) 18:38, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option C I know from bitter experience the dangers of using one's own name. No warning is strong enough to convey the horrible consequences that can ensue. If people want to spread their names all over, that's fine, but they should be warned of the dangers first. --Deepfriedokra (talk) 18:43, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • How about keeping the warning, but framing it as matter of account security? Most people just signing up aren't thinking about potential harassment later, but everyone knows about data breaches. Something like "Your username is public. Consider not using your real name. For security, we recommend choosing a username and password you do not use on other websites." That would also give a nudge toward unique usernames, when we know that using a name you've used elsewhere that's linked to your real name is also a harassment vector. Opabinia regalis (talk) 20:28, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    • That sounds sensible. It would be good advice even if we weren't thinking about harassment. XOR'easter (talk) 20:49, 14 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • C+. I would vote for C only if it went further and explained what kind of horrible things can happen to you if you use your real name. Nothing like that has happened to me: I was editing anonymously until I reached 100,000 edits. I felt that I should straighten out a false accusation from a loudmouth in my industry, so in July 2013 I changed my userpage to show my real biography. But I'm privileged as a mature white male who does not fear any ramifications against his person or career. I'm free to sound off and take the consequences. But I know plenty of others who would be vulnerable to personal or career threats. These threats should be listed so that the new user is adequately warned. Binksternet (talk) 21:49, 11 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose B and C In my experience of being an event coordinator helping users create accounts, the main issue is that many account names have already been taken – there are over 42 million accounts and so it can take many attempts to find a free combination. This has long been a common issue on the Internet and that's why, when I started, I created accounts for both a pseudonym and for my real name. I had tried several shorter names first, such as Andrew, but found that they had already been taken. So, when I found a couple of account names that worked for me, I reserved them both. I then started by using the pseudonym and later switched to using my real name. I am comfortable with this and it seems to be the most respectable way to work on Wikipedia. We should not discourage users from doing this. Andrew🐉(talk) 10:37, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
You and I are privileged white dudes. Many others are not, and we need the protection for them. Binksternet (talk) 15:09, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
We're not offering protection, we're offering advice. I can't speak for the corpus of "non white dudes" but I get the sense it is not as enthusiastic at getting advice from "white dudes" as the "white dudes" are at giving it. Chetsford (talk) 16:57, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • A, B or C, or what TBF or Chetsford said. Arguments about which editors in this conversation are white, and which of the dudes are dudes (male) aside, it should be specified in no uncertain terms that you can never change the original username. This is an important distinction between Wikipedia and, basically, every other website. You cannot decide you want to be pseudonymous later, and have it changed in a way that provides anything more than a minor inconvenience to someone trying to pwn you. We need to be clear about this. Arguing over whether it's better to be a faceposter are irrelevant -- you can always, if you want, request to have your username changed to something more identifying! The asymmetry is the problem. The fact that many websites online require you to provide your social security number and social credit registrant ID is sad, but not quite germane, in my opinion, as these websites have a number of stupid features it would unwise for us to replicate — Facebook, for example, has a policy where going to the website means you have to read a bunch of your high school acquaintances' stupid opinions about some goddamn politician, and Twitter has an even worse problem where you have to read posts from the politician themselves. jp×g 23:22, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
To add to this a little, I initially registered this account using my real name, and have since changed it to one which frankly isn't trying very hard (these are still my actual initials). I am basically fucked -- there is no way to get rid of the couple thousand edits I made under my real name, or to eliminate them from the visible edit history of my account. Personally, I have decided to just deal with it, although I suppose I could make a long-shot request to revdel literally all of them. But I don't think this is something a rando should be told they have to just suck it up and accept. It's not intuitive -- no other website works this way! I'm not saying we should do something because every other website does it, but we should at least acknowledge that (for reasons which don't really make a lot of sense, especially to a newcomer) we do this one thing in an extremely different way than them, which can screw you over badly if you don't know from the very beginning. jp×g 23:43, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
You can not only change an account name, as JPxG has done, you can also start again completely per WP:FRESHSTART. So we should not be using scary language to give the impression that the initial choice is dangerous and irrevocable. Making such suggestions seems contrary to WP:BEANS and WP:BITE. Andrew🐉(talk) 10:54, 15 September 2021 (UTC)[]
But the initial choice is in fact irrevocable, isn't it? If you make controversial edits under your real name and later start a new account, these controversial edits are still attached to your real name forever. The risk of a potential harasser finding the edit and, from there, you, will decrease over time as the edit gets buried under newer ones, but it'll never go away. – Rummskartoffel 20:05, 23 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • C...but' without using "we". I'd prefer "It is strongly suggested." If this helps even one user from being harrassed by trolls until they quit the project out of fear it's a change worth making, there's no harm in it. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:30, 12 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Hm, I see what you're going for but I'm really not a fan of deliberate passive voice. KevinL (aka L235 · t · c) 20:36, 2 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B or C, oppose A. If editors wish to begin using their real name to edit after they understand the potential repercussions, then they can do so at a later time; we should advise against it until they gain some understanding of the nature of editing here. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 00:06, 13 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Would something like "Please note that using your real name as your username may lead to a higher risk of harassment." scare potential editors away? Unlike the three options provided, my suggestion is not a "suggestion" with no reason provided, but rather an observation that allows the new user to decide on their username. feminist (+) 02:51, 13 September 2021 (UTC)[]
I agree completely with this rationale on top of other reasons for opposing all three variations. You are correct, we should merely recite the facts of username permanence to ensure new users are informed of the risks. We should not be peddling advice ("consider", "we suggest", etc.). Chetsford (talk) 03:26, 13 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • "Do not use [>C>B>A] your real name as a username, as usernames are public and cannot be made private later." People can still choose to ignore the advice. The text is for those who need it. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 19:10, 13 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Any of these options, or ToBeFree's proposal, but I oppose no message. Best, KevinL (aka L235 · t · c) 19:40, 13 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Proposal To be honest, for a newcomer all 3 options are same as they have no idea about consequences. I propose that we give a short list of random usernames in at signup page like in reddit, So it will encourage people to use those usernames and not real name. -- Parnaval (talk) 11:52, 14 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Any of these options is better than the status-quo (or in other words "what L235 said"). firefly ( t · c ) 10:59, 15 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • A - It can't hurt to include such a cautionary statement, but it's not much more than a feel-good measure if we truly wish to ensure that a decision to use one's real name is only undertaken upon adequate forethought. At the same time, a username that resembles a "real name" (like mine) is no more or less real than Obo Boneson or Sancheese, unless we actually required "real named users" to identify (which, FWIW, I have). Therefore, in summary: use A and be glad that we've done a good thing, or don't even pretend to allow the use of a real name unless the procedures for identifying to the WMF are followed, and know that the decision was not taken lightly.--John Cline (talk) 05:26, 18 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • As a Chinese Wikipedia user, I think Option C is better. in Maggie Dennis' explanation of the recent Offical Actions, one of the reasons is the privacy reason. I think a real name is a major detail if someone wants to harm you. The tone of options A and B aren't strong enough, so I prefer C, or even disallow real names as usernames.(BTW I am a newcomer of English Wikipedia, so please correct any mistakes due to the lack of understanding of English Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.)--Wiki Emoji | Emojiwiki Talk~~ 11:08, 19 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    There's nothing to correct in your posting Emojiwiki. It is well written and clearly appropriate. I, for one, appreciate you for posting it, and welcome you to English Wikipedia. Best regards.--John Cline (talk) 12:04, 19 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • A ( > B > C). I was fully prepared, at first glance, to !vote B, but in reading Joe's and Cullen's comments above, I've come around. We should certainly be aiming to inform users of the potential pitfalls of sacrificing their anonymity—especially as we are dealing with a much less web-literate internet than when many of us signed up in the long-ago-time—but we don't know what is best for any given user, and I would hate to chase someone out of the (potential) benefits of using their real name with stronger language than is necessary. Whether users are mature, responsible adults or not, they should be informed as though they are. — HTGS (talk) 22:18, 19 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Unapologetically conflating aspects of two issues currently highlighted as current topics for discussion:
I don’t think any of these options communicate in real-life terms the specific harrowing life consequences that can happen if, e.g., some sophomore at Esmeralda County Normal University is fixated on, e.g., the one-season mid-1980s American ABC situation comedy ’’Best of the West’’, and isn’t mature enough to understand that it’s ‘’really not okay in the adult world’’ to go on an espionage spree and track down, e.g., this obvious c-word b-word Juliet fembot who reverted their unsourced non-WP:NPOV edits re: the potential homosocial attributes of the relationship between Parker Tillman and his henchman ”Frog”, because in an adolescent mind unseen miscellaneous villains are perceived as cartoon characters upon whom one can drop an anvil and the worst thing that’ll happen is that the anvil-ee will get a big weird hairy knot growing out of her head.
Analyzing who might be this Juliet-whatever is something my 50-year-old current self KNOWS that my 17-year-old Reagan-administration James Bond-fixated mildly Aspergery self could have ended up viewing as a magnificent chess game with zero comprehension of what horrors I could have wrought if the Internet had been a thing then.
I cannot fathom becoming an admin, because those kids are always going to be with us, and I can’t be worrying with every edit that I’m going to lose my real-world 50-year-old-professional-lady mortgage-paying job because a bunch of Valhermoso Springs State University ‘’Best of the West’’ stans decide one day over lunch that they’ve had enough of my schoolmarmish meddling and it would be fun and righteous to mess with me, and they track me down and call my employer and turn me into an insurance risk.
Alas, I’m not really sure how to solve this, given Wikipedia’s admirable goal of NOT excluding younger people by virtue of being “younger.” (I was 16 when I started college and 19 when I started law school; this is a BIG DEAL for me decades later.) It kills me that it seems like the apparent majority of “younger” editors are abject trolls.
And that brings up the WP:BEANS problem: If we put together a magnificent, universally agreed-upon set of recommendations about usernames, will it truly benefit the contributors/future admins we want to encourage? or just give the hobbyist-trolls something else to weaponize?
Thanks for letting me share, y’all. As always, if there are purely nonsubstantive markup issues that result from my use of the iOS app, any admin has my permission to fix them. Julietdeltalima (talk) 04:35, 20 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • D: "Do not use your real name". Simple. (Of course, some will anyway). Absent that, then C then B then A. (Oh, after I wrote this, I saw that it used to say "You should make your username an anonymous username, not your real name" and apparently that's out now? Why? Was it broken? Has the public been complaining? Since people registering who do want to use their real name are free to ignore this and surely know that, what's the problem? If the sign says "Speed Limit 70KPH", we know that people are going to ignore that, sometimes for good reason (limit is too low, on way to hospital} and sometimes for bad, because people do. So, we don't need to worry about whether to write "Consider Not Driving Faster Than 70 KPH" and ""We Strongly Suggest That You Not Drive Faster Than 70 KPH". Just keep it simple and direct. Herostratus (talk) 05:50, 20 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • I oppose having this sentence on Special:CreateAccount at all, when we still have nothing on that page explaining any part of the actual username policy. First, let's finally put "don't use the name of your business or organization" there, shall we? – filelakeshoe (t / c) 🐱 12:40, 20 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option A. People should be free to choose whether they wanted to use their real names or not. It is common Internet sense that using your real name, no matter how benign the forum/game/app is, can lead to real world problems. Option B and C is too strong and too patronizing. SunDawntalk 16:41, 20 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option B, after having followed the discussion here. The decisive factor for me is that A !voters are discussing the benefits of real name usage (in some cases in ways highly reflective of their positionality) whereas B/C !voters are talking about the benefits of anonymity, but these are not two sides of the same coin. The costs of initially choosing a pseudonym when you would've benefited from using your real name pale in comparison to the costs of using your real name when you would've benefited from a pseudonym. That's both because of how much easier it is to drop pseudonymity than to acquire it and because of how ugly harassment can get. Let's push people toward making the safe choice. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 20:44, 22 September 2021 (UTC)[]
    Regarding C, I'm not sure how much more persuasive it would be to add "strongly". It also might come off as scary and it just adds a bit of wordiness. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 20:46, 22 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option A, I feel it accurately reflects both community consensus about whether real names should be used (looking at this discussion, some editors seem to think they're a good thing and should not be discouraged at all), and the implicit dangers of doing so (that if a real name is used, it cannot be hidden). Elli (talk | contribs) 03:18, 25 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option B is probably the clearest option, although Option A is fine with me, but I agree with other editors who have said that the wording will not make that much difference. I do think, however, that awareness of the issue is important before one signs up, regardless of the choice that one makes. Therefore, I strongly suggest blue-linking to one or both of Wikipedia:On privacy, confidentiality and discretion and Wikipedia:How to not get outed on Wikipedia. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:18, 27 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option C The potential harms of using your real name are simply much greater than the potential benefits. Further, the argument that every potential editor (including children and people with mental disabilities) can adequately grasp these potential harms is simply not credible. If editors want to use their real name, then that is their right. However, they should be given the information needed to make an informed decision, specifically that using a real name is widely seen as a bad idea and that doing so can cause real world harm including harassment and doxing.Spirit of Eagle (talk) 03:51, 28 September 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option C but with Beeblebrox's modification "It is strongly suggested ..." instead of "We strongly suggest ..." My decision was heavily influenced by JPxG's acknowledgement of the asymmetry of personal anonymity on Wikipedia and the unique policy of Wikipedia to not allow privacy-conserving username changes that are found on almost every forum and social media site. RFZYNSPY talk 20:20, 1 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • None of the above. Some Wikipedians are vulnerable people or going to edit in controversial topic areas, and they should feel free to edit pseudonymously, but others of us prefer to edit under our real names, and I think that's a choice that should not be discouraged.—S Marshall T/C 21:54, 3 October 2021 (UTC)[]
    And if they do, it's easy to list their name on their userpage or get a username change. But it's impossible to unmake that choice. KevinL (aka L235 · t · c) 03:07, 4 October 2021 (UTC)[]
    There's nothing to stop us saying "Choose your username with care. Your username will be attached to all your edits and can't be hidden later." My answer relates to the question asked, so it's about options A, B and C above. I do not object to the principle of telling people that their username is permanent and unconcealable.—S Marshall T/C 12:49, 4 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Oppose the wording of the question: I don't have a preference but I find the title of the section should include the word 'wording' rather than 'language' as it would be more precise. It is confusing because I had thought it was referring to the faculty of human communication, or to varieties thereof, and not which specific words to use. Munci (talk) 10:14, 10 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B, or even better Rhododendrites We suggest using a name other than your real name. Wikipedia usernames are public, cannot be made unpublic later, and will be stored in a historical record of all changes you make to Wikipedia forever.". I've often registered people at events; I always suggest to them not to use their real name, if they want to use it anyway, I explain why, and then they understand. For particularly young people, I have sometimes added "this is the internet, and there some strange people there" because I want to teach it as a general lesson. Myself, like some of the people commenting above, I'm not in a situation where it matters, but that's not the case with most beginners. DGG ( talk ) 02:29, 11 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • B>C>A, also provide context Let me preface this by saying that any suggestion should also have a link to WP:REALNAME as a way to further explain why using a real name is usually a bad idea. As for A, simply saying "consider" does not imply that there are reasons to not use your own name. That phrasing makes it sound more like the implication of "you don't have to use your name as your username, you can be creative if you desire". It sounds more like an invitation to use any name rather than a suggestion. You could tell people to consider anything when making a username, but without giving reasoning or a clear indication of what is usually appropriate, the suggestion has no weight behind them to the user. C seems a little too heavy handed. Using one's own name is appropriate when demonstrating that they are knowledgeable in a certain field, fear they may be impersonated or want to make it clear any conflicts of interest that they may have. We do not want people to feel like they could get in trouble just for using their own name, which C implies. (Before you ask, yes I know usernames can get you in trouble via WP:UAA or WP:COIN, but those are usually not for actual names unless it is a clear impersonation or self-advertising violation.) Please call me Blue (talk) 21:03, 12 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option C - From the discussions above, it seems like the more we can discourage users from using their real names, the better. Nosferattus (talk) 23:34, 14 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • I support wording similar to what Rhododendrites suggested: We suggest using a name other than your real name. Wikipedia usernames are public, cannot be made unpublic later, and will be stored in a historical record of all changes you make to Wikipedia forever." Huggums537 (talk) 05:07, 16 October 2021 (UTC)[]
  • Option E: Rhododendrites I have developed a preference: I now suppport the option supported by several others: we state the facts of the matter, and leave the option to the users, with the knowledge of the consequences. We certainly could not simply say Option D 'do not use real names' as there are many undisruptive users who use their real names, such as Jimbo Wales. Munci (talk) 05:56, 20 October 2021 (UTC)[]

Need to add what the definition of "commercial web page" is[edit]

After re-reading this page during a recent block due to what was deemed a promotional name for a "commercial" website, I discovered there is actually no definition as to what a "commercial web page" actually is. Either the Wikipedia:Username policy#Promotional names or the article Website (or even both) need to be expanded to define this term. -- ThylacineHunter (talk) 09:49, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]

It would help to know the specific situation where the policy was ambiguous. Generally a commerical web page is that which generates money for someone(including at least some YouTube channels). 331dot (talk) 10:02, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]
Although my old username was an exact match for my website domain name, I believed it was acceptable as was non-commercial:
  • "Usernames that unambiguously represent the name of a company, group, institution or product" - My site is neither a company, group, institution or product
  • "Email addresses and URLs that promote a commercial web page and don't simply identify a person" - Not a commercial site, it is run by just me. It is also a descriptive name, I like trains that are in the state of Victoria, Australia
I pay out money to have my hobby site hosted, it does not make money or sell product. It is probably most accurately defined as an "information site" (according to the list on Website), yet it was deemed as a "commercial web page". I just feel there should be more clarification as to what a commercial site was. I was using my interpretation that a commercial site would make money (as opposed to non-commercial).
I am NOT trying to restart a debate as to my old name, just putting a suggestion that this is a grey area that may cause issues in the future. -- ThylacineHunter (talk) 13:03, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]
If you are not generating income with the website in any way- be it through being paid for clicks or selling something or anything- it's not a commerical web page even if you expend money to operate it. I would note that citing your own website is both a conflict of interest and posting original research and these things may have made it seem to others that the website was commercial. We're reluctant to spell out too many things in the rules when we don't have to- I think unclear cases can be handled on a case by case basis. 331dot (talk) 13:15, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]
I do agree with the COI issue. I was drawing attention to the fact the block wasn't justified under the current wording of the username policy regarding promotional names due to the lack of definition as to a commercial site. I was offering a suggestion to improve the ambiguous areas of this policy. -- ThylacineHunter (talk) 13:48, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]
As for WP:CREEP, that is why I said either this page or the article Website needs to be updated. There is no definition as to commercial on either. -- ThylacineHunter (talk) 13:58, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]
To quote WP:POLICY - "Wikipedia's policies and guidelines are developed by the community to describe best practices, clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia" - This would be a case of clarifying principles. -- ThylacineHunter (talk) 14:06, 13 October 2021 (UTC)[]

Semi-protected edit request on 14 October 2021[edit]

Christopher Blake Richards — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pelumi33 (talkcontribs) 22:02, 14 October 2021 (UTC)[]

 Not done: it's not clear what changes you're requesting. If you want to change your own account's username, please see the instructions at WP:RENAME. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 22:05, 14 October 2021 (UTC)[]