Wikipedia:Courtesy vanishing

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The usual way to leave Wikipedia is simply to stop editing and abandon your account. A courtesy vanishing may be implemented when a user in good standing decides not to return, and for whatever reason wishes to make their contributions harder to find or to remove their association with their edits. When there is no administrative need to retain the information, a permanently departing user may request that a wide range of user pages, and other pages that affect him or her alone, be deleted on departure. The user account is renamed; user pages are blanked or deleted; and pages related to the user's conduct may be deleted, blanked, or moved. Contributions, logs, signatures, and user-page templates (for example, templates related to blocks or bans) are usually not removed. User talk pages are usually not deleted.

Courtesy vanishing is discretionary and may be refused. It is not intended to be temporary. It is not a way to avoid scrutiny or sanctions. It is not a fresh start and does not guarantee anonymity. Any of the deleted pages may be undeleted after a community discussion. If the user returns, the "vanishing" will likely be fully reversed, the old and new accounts will be linked, and any outstanding sanctions or restrictions will be resumed.

Vanishing from Wikipedia[edit]

Vanishing typically involves the following:

  • A bureaucrat changes the username of the account to, for example, "Vanished User 1". As of August 2012, the account should ideally have made fewer than several tens of thousands of edits, including deleted contributions, in order to avoid a bug leading to some edits not being attributed in the database; however this is not required. Bureaucrats are now able to rename any user.
  • References in the history of pages to the former username are replaced with references to the replacement username. Note that your signature (on user talk pages, article talk pages and project discussion pages) will not be changed, and will, by default, be redirected to your new user name. You can ask for this redirect to be removed.
  • The account's user page and subpages are deleted. User talk pages are rarely deleted, and may be undeleted by community consensus. Oversight should be used to remove personal information, subject to the oversight policy.

How to request a courtesy vanishing [edit]

First, consider whether you really want to vanish, or whether a simple retirement or clean start might be more appropriate. Vanishing is a last resort and should only be used when you wish to stop editing forever and also to hide as much of your past associations as possible.

If you decide to vanish, you may wish to blank or delete your user page and any subpages in your userspace. To request deletion, add the {{db-user}} tag to the top of each page, and an admin will delete the page for you. Or you can replace your userpage with the {{Retired}} template. Note that your user talk pages will normally not be deleted except in rare cases (see below).

Finally, contact the bureaucrats via e-mail and ask that your account be renamed, giving "request for courtesy vanishing" as the reason. Use the link below to send a secure e-mail from your Wikipedia account, so that the bureaucrats can verify that it is a legitimate request.


Special:EmailUser/Bureaucrats


You can also send direct email to wikien-bureaucrats@lists.wikimedia.org. There is a public request page for name change requests, but this is not recommended because it will leave a public record of your request to vanish that cannot itself be hidden.

If you have questions about vanishing, or have concerns that might be addressable by a less permanent method, you may want to contact a Bureaucrat (above) or a Functionary for advice.

What vanishing is not[edit]

  • Vanishing is not a way to start over with a fresh account. When you request a courtesy vanishing, it is understood that you will not be returning. If you want to start over, please read the page on Clean start instead. If you make a request to vanish, and then start over with a new account, and are then discovered, the vanishing procedure may be reversed, and your old and new accounts may be linked.
  • Vanishing is not a way to avoid criticism, sanctions, or other negative attention, unless you really mean to leave permanently. As such, it might not be extended to users who have been disruptive, who leave when they lose the trust of the community, or when they are blocked or banned.
  • It is not a way for accounts affiliated with organizations or interests opposed to the Wikipedia community to erase documentation that they edited Wikipedia. This could happen when an account associated with a business, for example, is criticized on their userpage for the way they edited Wikipedia.
  • Vanishing is not the best way to remove personal information that you may have accidentally revealed about yourself, especially if you want to continue editing. See the page on Oversight instead.
  • If you want to change your user name, users in good standing are free to request a change of username at any time. All contributions made under the old username will be re-attributed to the new username, including deleted contributions, preserving the edit history. (Old signatures embedded in past posts cannot be changed due to technical limitations of the MediaWiki software, although in some cases collapsing or blanking is possible.)
  • The Wikimedia Foundation does not guarantee that an account name will be changed on request. Decisions to rename an account, if contested, are determined by community consensus.

Deletion of user talk pages[edit]

Shortcut:

While user pages and subpages may be deleted, the deletion of user talk pages is invariably controversial, and is the rare exception, not the rule. This is because user talk pages, unlike other user pages, have largely been written by other editors. User talk pages should not be speedy deleted by admins. Whenever there is a request to delete a user talk page, a bureaucrat should be consulted. Community consensus is that bureaucrats should delete user talk pages only where there is a compelling reason to do so—related to serious privacy concerns and the potential for real-world harm. Otherwise, user talk pages should be deleted only at MfD. Any deletion, including deletion by bureaucrats, can be challenged and overturned at deletion review. User talk pages should never be moved to become user subpages to facilitate deletion.

See also[edit]