Wikipedia:Username policy

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This policy describes what kinds of usernames are acceptable on the English Wikipedia and how unacceptable or doubtful usernames can be dealt with. It also specifies that a user account should be used only by one person, and that in most cases one person should use only one account.

You choose your username when creating a user account. All contributions made using that account will then be attributed to the chosen username (contributions made while not logged in to any account are attributed to the user's IP address). It is also possible to request a change of username, and have your past contributions re-attributed to the new name.

This policy applies to usernames on English Wikipedia. However, in most cases you will be able to use the same username and password to log in to other language Wikipedias and other Wikimedia Foundation supported projects. See Wikipedia:Unified login.

Introductory clip on usernames

Guidance for new users

Your username must represent you as an individual person

Usernames are not allowed on Wikipedia if they:

  • only contain the names of companies, organizations, websites, musical groups or bands, teams, clubs, creative groups, or organized events
  • only describe a particular role, title, position, department, or a group or team of people within a parent organization or group that can be represented or held by multiple people or by different people
  • are promotional in nature, or appear intended to advertise, promote, sell, gain support, or increase the attention or user-base audience of any person, company, market, product, channel, website, or other good or service
  • imply that your user account will be shared between more than one person
Your username must be truthful, appropriate, and support a positive editing environment

Usernames are not allowed on Wikipedia and will be immediately blocked upon discovery if they:

  • are offensive, profane, violent, threatening, sexually explicit, or disruptive, or that advocate or encourage any such behavior (including criminal or illegal acts)
  • contain statements that are libelous, contentious, or disparaging, or that disclose any private or non-public information about somebody else (either another editor, or a
    notable
    living person)
  • are deliberately deceptive, confusing, misleading, unnecessarily long, similar to the username of other accounts, or attempt to impersonate or falsely represent somebody else (another editor, a
    bad faith
  • imply that the account has explicit ownership of any articles, content, or topic areas, or any kind of "power" or "authority" over other editors, a different application of Wikipedia's
    policies and guidelines
    (such as implying that certain policies do not apply to them), or that the account has any administrative or "moderator" access levels or user rights
  • imply the intent to troll,
    spam
    Wikipedia
  • imply the intent to
    threaten
    other Wikipedia users
  • imply that you are
    that it was not created for

Your username is a nickname that will identify your account and thereby all of your contributions to Wikipedia. It can be your real name if you so choose, but you should be aware of the risks involved in editing under your real name before choosing to use or disclose your real name on Wikipedia. Wikipedia usernames are case sensitive, but the first letter is always automatically capitalized. By default, your username appears in your signature on posts to discussion pages. For further details on signatures and how to customize them, see Wikipedia:Signatures.

You must keep in mind that, once chosen, a username cannot be easily changed, and changing your username doesn't hide your previous username from all of the edits that you've made while using it (such as the signature of your previous username that you left on any talk pages, messages, discussions, and replies). For example, if "Dr. Franz Schröder" is your real name, and you choose this to be your username, your real name and doctorate will be evident on your edits, on history pages, and (unless you change your signature) on all posts, messages, and replies that you make to talk pages and discussions. It is highly recommended that you read and understand the section on using your real name as your username before you decide to do so.

You will be required to specify the username that you'd like to use when you are creating a new account, and you will subsequently use it (together with your password) to log in to that account. Once you have an account, you may create a user page, titled "User:XXXX" (where "XXXX" is your username), to provide relevant information about yourself to other Wikipedians. You or any other editor may also create a user talk page, titled "User talk:XXXX", that people can use to contact you.

The MediaWiki software will not allow you to register a new account with a username that is already taken by another account, nor will it allow you to register a username that is too similar to another account. You can check whether or not a username is already taken; if the username is not listed when you enter it into the username search, it means that the provided username is not taken. Please note that the page does not return usernames that are too similar; it only returns a match if the exact username you enter is already taken. You may still be able to obtain a username that is too similar to another account under certain circumstances; see § Similar usernames below.

Your username can be virtually any string of characters (subject to a few technical limitations). However, it should be a name which other users will be comfortable with and which does not interfere with the project. A controversial name may give a bad impression to other users, and avoiding this is in your own interest. This page describes certain types of usernames that are specifically disallowed, primarily because they can be considered offensive, misleading, or promotional, or imply that the account does not belong to an individual.

Inappropriate usernames

This section lists the types of usernames that are considered inappropriate. The same criteria also apply to signatures.

These lists are not necessarily exhaustive. Use common sense in applying these rules; a username containing a word that may seem offensive in one context may have a very different, more benign meaning in another. For guidance on how to deal with inappropriate usernames if encountered, see § Dealing with inappropriate usernames below.

Disruptive or offensive usernames

The following types of usernames are not permitted, and will be immediately blocked upon discovery, because they are disruptive or offensive:

  • Usernames that are likely to offend other contributors or cause disruption to productive Wikipedia processes or discussions, or make harmonious editing difficult or impossible to achieve; e.g. by containing profanities, or referencing highly contentious events or controversies.[1]
  • Usernames that are blatantly profane, violent, threatening, or sexually explicit, or that advocate or encourage any such behavior (including acts that are deemed by most societies as either extremely immoral, criminal, or illegal).
  • Usernames that deliberately offend, dehumanize, attack, demean, disparage, discriminate, or support or advocate any such behavior toward any race, religion, gender, sexual identity, sexual preference, political affiliation, or social group or status, or imply the intent to do so. Examples include:
    • Usernames that contain discriminatory attacks, racial slurs, or pejorative terms
    • Usernames that praise highly contentious people, groups (also known as "hate groups"), or events—future, past, or present—that currently allocate, have allocated, or plan to allocate efforts or resources toward afflicting direct discriminatory, social, physical, or emotional harm toward those who identify as part of any of these groups.
  • Usernames that contain or imply
    threaten
    other Wikipedia editors.
  • Usernames that appear intended to disrupt legitimate Wikipedia discussions and processes by provoking negative emotional reactions from other editors (also known as "
    trolling
    ").
  • Usernames that show or imply the intent to
    disrupt, or engage in bad-faith edits or behaviors that are clearly not intended to help build, expand, or grow the encyclopedia
    in a positive or collaborative manner.

These accounts, upon their discovery, should be immediately blocked by administrators, and consideration should be given, with appropriate judgment, if the username should be redacted from any logs or edit revisions - especially if they're grossly offensive or destructive in nature, and likely to offend many editors. Note that usernames that are inappropriate in another language, or that represent an inappropriate name with misspellings and substitutions, or do so indirectly or by implication, are still considered inappropriate.

Usernames with libelous, contentious, or non-public information

The following types of usernames are not permitted, and will be immediately blocked upon discovery, because they violate highly important and serious Wikipedia policies:

  • Usernames that contain contentious or disparaging statements about another person (whether they be another editor, a notable
    living or recently deceased person
    , etc).
  • Usernames that are clearly libelous, contain blatantly false or disparaging statements or accusations about another person, or constitute blatant violations of Wikipedia's policy on the
    biographies of living people
    .
  • Usernames that contain any non-public, private, or personally identifiable information about another person,
    Oversighter
    ; e.g. usernames that state what the password to the account (apparently) is.

These accounts, upon their discovery, should be immediately blocked by administrators. If such usernames are libelous or contain information that is usually suppressed (such as disclosure of non-public personal identifiable information about another editor, or blatantly libelous statements made about a

notable living person), the username should be suppressed from all logs by an Oversighter to protect Wikipedia and the subjects involved from any kind of negative fallout or harm as a result of the account or username creation. Requests for removing attack usernames from logs should be reported to the global Stewards team for evaluation and private removal from all WMF projects. This can be done either via IRC in the #wikimedia-stewards connect
channel or via email to the stewards VRT queue at stewards@wikimedia.org.

Misleading usernames

The following types of usernames are not permitted because they may be misleading in a way that disrupts the project:

  • Usernames that impersonate other people (see § Real names and § Similar usernames below).
  • Usernames that give the impression that the account has permissions that it does not have; e.g. by containing the terms "administrator", "bureaucrat", "steward", "checkuser", "oversight", or similar terms, such as "admin", "sysop", or "moderator".
  • Usernames that imply that the account has explicit ownership of certain articles, content, or topic areas, or that they have any kind of "power", "command", "control", or "authority" over other editors, or that a different level of accountability and application of Wikipedia's
    policies and guidelines
    should be enforced (such as implying that certain policies do not apply to them).
  • Usernames that could be easily misunderstood to refer to a "bot" (which is used to identify bot accounts) or a "script" (which alludes to automated editing processes), unless the account is of that type.
  • Usernames that give the incorrect impression that the account is officially affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation; e.g. by containing "WMF".
  • Usernames that resemble IP addresses (as these are expected to designate non-logged-in users), timestamps, or other names which would be confusing within the Wikipedia signature format.
  • Usernames that appear similar to naming conventions used by community administrative processes, such as those starting with Vanished user (see Wikipedia:Courtesy vanishing).

For accounts with usernames that are in this category, you should

common sense and fair and level-headed judgment when determining the appropriate action to take. These clear violations should be reported by following the instructions on Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention
.

Promotional usernames

The following types of usernames are not permitted because they are considered promotional:

A user who both adopts a promotional username and who engages in inappropriate advertising or promotional edits or behaviors – especially when made to their own user space or to articles about the company, group, or product – can be blocked from editing Wikipedia, and are often blocked much sooner than users who engage in only one of the two behaviors. In such cases, administrators should examine the user's edits to decide whether or not to allow them to create a new username. If there is evidence that the user would continue to edit inappropriately under a new username, the blocking administrator should enable the "autoblock" and "prevent account creation" block settings. Otherwise, the user should be offered the opportunity to create a new account or have their current username changed. Before taking action, any disagreements as to whether a particular username is acceptable or not should be discussed at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User names first.

Usernames implying shared use

Because Wikipedia's policy states that user accounts cannot be shared between more than one individual, the following types of usernames are not permitted because they imply shared use:

  • Usernames that are simply names of companies or groups are not permitted (these also fall under § Promotional usernames above).
  • Personal usernames that imply shared access, such as "Jack and Jill", are not permitted.
  • Usernames that are solely the names of posts, positions, roles, or job titles within organizations, such as "Secretary of the XYZ Foundation", are not permitted, as such posts or positions may be transferred or held by different persons at different times.
  • However, usernames are acceptable if they contain a company or group name but are clearly intended to denote an individual person, such as "Mark at WidgetFactory", "Jack Smith at the XYZ Foundation", "FacebookFanatic87", etc.

Remember that promotional editing is not permitted, regardless of any account's chosen username. The conflict of interest guideline advises all users to exercise caution if editing articles about businesses, organizations, products, or other subjects that they are closely connected to. If you choose to edit articles that are in any way related to your company or group, you will need to carefully follow Wikipedia's advice on editing with a conflict of interest.

Non-script usernames

The following types of usernames are not permitted due to the difficulty with some web browsers in viewing non-language Unicode characters:[3]

  • Usernames that contain emoji.
  • Usernames that are considered to be emoticons or otherwise "decorative".
  • Usernames that use any non-language symbols. This includes:
    • Symbols and characters unrelated to the list of writing systems.
    • Symbols and characters that are on the block lists at
      Unicode symbols
      .

Note that this restriction does not apply to signatures, which are governed by Wikipedia's policies on the use of signatures.

Confusing usernames

Some usernames appear problematic without fitting clearly into any of the above categories. This is often the case with confusing or extremely lengthy usernames, which are highly discouraged but which are not so inappropriate on their own as to require action.

Confusing usernames can often be a red flag for other problems. An editor with a confusing username or signature may be blocked sooner than usual for other inappropriate behavior, such as disruption or vandalism, if their confusing username contributes to the disruption.

Exceptions

Some usernames that appear to be in breach of this policy have been allowed to stand by consensus because they were created before a change in the policy that would now prohibit such names (see grandfather clause). If you find an apparently problematic username being used by a long-standing editor, it is likely that the matter has been discussed before. Please search that user's talk page (and archives if applicable), and the archives of the administrators' noticeboards and requests for comment on usernames, before deciding to take action as described below.

Dealing with inappropriate usernames

If you encounter an inappropriate username as described above, there are various actions you might take. Use common sense in making your choice, and avoid "biting" newcomers.

No action necessary

If the name is not unambiguously problematic, it may be sensible to ignore it. Assume good faith, and also note the exceptions in the section on inappropriate usernames. Also, except in extreme cases, it is probably not worth taking action unless the user has made at least one recent edit.

Talk to the user

If you see a username that is problematic but was not obviously created in bad faith, politely draw the user's attention to this policy, and try to encourage them to create a new account with a different username. If you want, you can use the {{subst:uw-username}}, {{subst:uw-uall}} or {{subst:uw-coi-username}} template for this.

Request for comment

If, following an attempt to discuss a problematic username with the user, there is still doubt or disagreement as to whether the name is appropriate, you may open a

Request for comment on the username
, inviting other users to discuss the issue.

Report blatant violations

If you believe that a username needs to be immediately blocked and is an obvious violation of policy, you can report it to Usernames for administrator attention. This page should only be used for clear and egregious username violations that merit an immediate block and without any discussion or warning beforehand.

Do not both warn a user account or discuss the username and your concerns with a user account, and file a report against the user account at

the assumption of good faith
likely should have been the preferred initial response.

Report other problems

If the user with a bad username is breaching other policies, such as those against

Conflict of Interest noticeboard
.

Usernames for administrator attention guidelines

Usernames for administrator attention (UAA) is a noticeboard for drawing attention to abusive usernames quickly. See Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention/Instructions for information on how to place or resolve UAA reports, including the options that are available to administrators.

Remember that blocking a new user is not actually something we want to do, it is something we do when it is needed to protect Wikipedia from harm. Generally, editors whose usernames are a technical or borderline violation of the Username policy should be given an opportunity to discuss the username and how they may register a new username. However, users who are reluctant to register a new username and are otherwise showing a positive history of contributions to Wikipedia should be allowed to continue editing in a positive fashion and the matter should be dropped. But this exemption does not apply to editors who have a clearly offensive username, disruptive or vandalizing edits, or edits that show a history of problematic bias or conflict of interest.

Other particular types of username

Real names

Minors and children are strongly discouraged from creating accounts with usernames that are their real names, or any nicknames which might be traced to them, and all editors should carefully consider the consequences before doing so. Usernames with this information significantly increase the potential for harassment, especially if these accounts edit in controversial subject areas. In some countries, editing Wikipedia can be illegal, and using your real name can put you at risk of legal consequences. While it is possible to rename your account later (see Changing your username below), a record of your previous username remains permanently.

Do not edit under a name that is likely to imply that you are (or are related to) a specific, identifiable person, unless it is your real name. If you have the same name as a well-known person to whom you are unrelated, and are using your real name, you should state clearly on your

userpage
that you are unrelated to the well-known person.

If a username implies that the user is, or is related to, a

notable, identifiable or well-known person, the account may be blocked
as a precaution against impersonation until the user's proof of identity is provided.

If you have been blocked for using your real name, please do not take offense; we are trying to prevent somebody from impersonating or harassing you, or someone you may share the same real name with. You are welcome to use your real name, but in some cases, you will need to prove that you are who you say you are. You can do this by sending an email to info-en@wikimedia.org. Be aware that emails are handled by a volunteer response team; it can take some time before you'll receive a reply. Do not send unsolicited scans of your passport or driver's license to the volunteer response team. Instead, you should contact them to find out the best way to prove your identity. The best way will vary, but could be by using a mail address on a domain name that belongs to you.

Stage names

Users may use their stage name, pen name, or other nickname as their username, provided that it uniquely identifies a single person. This is not considered promotional, even if commercial performances or publications are made under such a name, unless the user makes promotional edits within Wikipedia about themselves, their projects, etc. However, a user may not use someone else's stage name as a username, as per the § Real names section of this page.

Usernames with non-Latin characters

Users with usernames in non-Latin script writing systems are welcome to edit Wikipedia. There is no requirement that usernames must be in English or that Latin script characters must be used. However, such usernames may appear illegible to other contributors to the English Wikipedia, and not every user's keyboard or input device may have immediate access to non-Latin characters. In addition, sometimes certain characters may not display correctly. As a courtesy to other contributors, and to avoid possible confusion or mis-identification, users with such usernames are encouraged to consider providing a Latin-character transliteration of their username on their userpage, and/or as their signature.

For technical reasons, usernames containing the forbidden characters # < > [ ] | { }, as well as / @ : =, are not possible.[4]

Similar usernames

Usernames that are very similar to existing ones cannot be registered normally – but if you do want to use one, you may request its creation at Wikipedia:Request an account. Usernames that are similar only to unused or inactive accounts should not be a problem. Special:CentralAuth can be used to check for such usernames. The program that checks for similarity is a bit over-sensitive—if the username is different enough as to prevent other people from confusing the two users, the request should be approved. One should not choose a username that implies a relationship with an existing editor (unless the account is actually owned or the relationship is acknowledged by the editor themselves).

If your username is similar to that of another contributor or an article, you may wish to provide some form of disambiguation, such as by adding {{distinguish}} to the top of your user page.

Commonly misspelled usernames

If your username is commonly misspelled, consider helping people by adding redirects to your actual user page and talk page from the misspelled titles. You may wish to consider registering the misspelled username as a doppelgänger account to prevent it from being registered by someone else. The software prevents registration of certain names that are found to be too similar to existing ones; if you cannot register your doppelgänger username for this reason, you should visit Wikipedia:Request an account.

UseModWiki-era anonymous users

UseModWiki, the software used on Wikipedia throughout 2001 and in early 2002, treated users who edited without logging in or providing a screen name differently from modern-day MediaWiki. Anonymous users in that time were treated in one of two ways:

  • Domain names: Up until about March 2001, an editor with an IP address "192.0.2.34" that was associated with domain name "host.2.34.example.net" would have their edit logged as being by "host.2.34.example.net". Examples of this are
    indefinitely blocked
    on sight, as a) they don't make good usernames in light of the above criteria, b) they were never true usernames in the first place and would thus have been abandoned with changing software, and c) modern software is such that an innocent contributor editing from the "host.2.34.example.net" server would not be affected by a block of "User:host.2.34.example.net".
  • Redacted IP addresses: An editor with that same IP address that was not associated with any domain name (or all UseModWiki edits after about March 2001) would have their edit logged as being by "192.0.2.xxx". The Phase II software also exhibited this trait. Examples of this are 209.69.30.xxx and 62.110.183.xxx.

Shared accounts

Any user account should represent an individual and not a group (and an individual should normally only have one user account; see next section). Sharing an account – or the password to an account – with others is not permitted, and evidence of doing so will result in the user being required to stop the practice and change their password, or in sanctions (up to and including the account being blocked), depending on circumstances. For accounts being used to represent a group or organization, see § Promotional usernames and § Usernames implying shared use above.

Exceptions to this rule can be made for non-editing accounts approved to provide email access, accounts approved by the Wikimedia Foundation (see list), and bot accounts that are maintained by more than one contributor, provided the existence of such an arrangement is made clear and has consensus.

Using multiple accounts

It is recommended that contributors not use multiple accounts without good reason. For example, a user may wish to create an alternate account for use on public computers as a precaution to keep their primary account more secure. Contributors operating any sort of automated editing process should do so under an alternative

may be used for this purpose.

The use of multiple accounts outside of established policy for doing so is known as sockpuppetry, and is not permitted. For example, multiple accounts may not be used to comment on proposals or requests, cast votes, or engage in edit warring. Because policies apply to individuals, not accounts, blocked or banned users must not use sock puppets to circumvent a block; doing so will result in an extension of the block or ban.

Changing your username

Usernames can be changed by global renamers; requests should be made at Wikipedia:Changing username. User accounts with few or no edits might not be renamed, as it is quicker and easier to simply create a new account.

Once a username has been changed, existing contributions will be listed under the new name in

revision deletion is used and log entries are hidden from public view. Username changes are listed in the user rename log and the global rename log
.

Deleting and merging accounts

It is not possible to delete user accounts, as all contributions must be assigned to some identifier, either a username or an IP address.[5] Editors seeking privacy per courtesy vanishing / right to vanish can usually have their accounts renamed and their user pages (and, in exceptional cases, user talk pages) deleted.

It is not currently possible to merge more than one user account together and combine them into one user account on the English Wikipedia.

See also

Notes