Wikipedia:Editors should be logged-in users (failed proposal)

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This is a perennial proposal - variants of it pop up every couple of months. The answer, each and every time, is a firm and resounding NO. The whole point of Wikipedia is its accessibility, and it will not be restricted in this way. Radiant_>|< 23:13, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Prohibit anonymous users from editing: According to Jimbo Wales, "what is commonly called 'anonymous' editing is not particularly anonymous ... and there are good reasons to want vandals on ip numbers instead of accounts." While about 97% of vandalism comes from anonymous users, about 76% or 82% of anonymous edits are intended to improve the encyclopedia. (Prohibiting IP edits would not eliminate 97% of all vandalism, because if they have to, those inclined to vandalism could easily take the 10 seconds to register.) The ability of anyone to edit articles without registering is a Foundation issue.

Especially note Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement, where common objections to the proposal are laid out. --Chriswaterguy talk 15:02, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia must tighten up controls of who can edit and who cannot!

hello, i am User:Rbj and i love Wikipedia and have made quite a few edit contributions that have stuck, so i think i am a positive asset to Wikipedia. but i am spending too much time reverting vandalism.

why is it that Wikipedia allows anonymous (from mere IP addresses) editing of the articles? this is just dumb and we're literally begging for vandals to come and mess it up?

you should require every editor to Login and when they first create an identity or username, they should have to verify by responding to an email from Wikipedia (so we know their email address is real). they should have to identify themselves fully (name, valid email), viewable at least by the administrators. and whenever they login, there should be a record of IP addresses so that if vandalism is done from the same IP (but a different login name), we might have an idea of who else to contact.


you guys have to fix this!

r b-j 18:49, 20 September 2005 (UTC)



  • Can't but agree. I don't think it will stop 'em barbarians, but could reduce the attacks somewhat, perhaps. Registration is free and takes just a couple of minutes, so why not register? (I'd have to do the same with some other-than-English versions of the Wiki, where I've contributed anonimously, but this is not a problem.)

WANNA CONTRIBUTE—LOG IN! --Barbatus 14:37, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Agree. It would slightly iscourage new editors to join, but I do not think that is a main problem, we have quite a few of editors already. On the other hand if it will reduce the number of vandals it is worth it!

abakharev 22:38, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I agree to this!! Hope this gets adopted quickly --Vyzasatya 06:16, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

This comes up quite frequently. Have a look at Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement. --Goobergunch|? 07:38, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Well, so how to deal with those attacks? Is there any solution in sight? --Barbatus 14:44, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
There is always a trade-off between attracting new editors and keeping vandalism in control. I think when we have 3/4 millions of articles on English Wikipedia the balance changed. abakharev 23:13, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Um ... In what direction? (the balance changed, that is) --Barbatus 23:23, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I would think that then we had 20K articles and Britannica 250K articles, our priorities were to increase the number of editors rather than to protect the articles, now we have 750K articles, triple the number Britannica has, and our priorities might shift to protection and improvement of the existent articles, rather than attracting more inexperienced editors. abakharev 23:21, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
That what used to be called "переход количества в качество" :) Barbatus 23:27, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
Sure, we have 750'000 articles, but our coverage of subjects is unbalanced. There are some subjects that we have good coverage on (in terms of number of articles), but many others that we cover quite badly (in terms of number of articles. Many important subjects do not have articles. Many others are stubs). We're simply not there yet: The current "staff" of "editors" is skewed towards technical subjects - there's inssuficient variety in the flock, insufficient breadth of interest. Maybe when we hit 5 million articles, we'll finally have the breadth of "staff" that an encyclopedia needs... --Peter Knutsen 02:48, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
Completle agree, whe should not lock Wikipedia for the new user, just discourage a little bit the usage of wikipedia by trolls and spammers. It is require only a few seconds to register abakharev 04:17, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Related idea. I wonder if we might first try this: You can edit an article as an IP, but you can't create a new one without logging in. If you go to Special:Newpages, at any given time, you'll see that upwards of seventy percent of new articles come from IPs. Many of these are valuable contributions, but a large fraction need to go to AfD (unfortunately, many of them don't qualify for speedy). The ones that slip through may sit around as "cold dark matter" for a long time. This is possibly worse than vandalism of important articles; those tend to be on many people's watchlists and will be reverted quickly. --Trovatore 21:50, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
    • It might make sense, though I would think that protecting of the articles (especially the high-profile ones) is important too. abakharev 23:21, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm new here, but my impression is that most vandalism consists of sabotage against existing articles (e.g. the inserted phrase "you suck a lot of", which I removed from Maslow recently), and that people creating new articles (e.g. very minor porn actresses starting pages about themselves, to attract attention & traffic) is quite minor. But I could be wrong. As I said: I'm new here.--Peter Knutsen 02:48, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, the articles I'm talking about aren't usually vandalism. They're non-encyclopedic, or badly written, or some combination. In theory the response to a badly-written article on a reasonable topic is supposed to be to clean up the writing--but who really wants to do that, on an article of minor interest to him? So either they have to go through the laborious AfD process, or they may simply remain badly written. Personally I consider the latter outcome a disaster, much worse than occasional obvious vandalism.
Now, whether any proposal like this would actually do much to curb the influx of poorly-written articles, I don't really know. --Trovatore 23:35, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Allowing anyone to edit is an absolute cornerstone of Wikipedia, and contributes enormously to its attraction to the general public. I would be very much opposed to any attempt to restrict edits to logged-in users. I see plenty of good edits from IP addresses (and no shortage of vandalism from IPs).

Preventing article creation by IPs is something I would have more time for, but would still be wary of. Many an anonymous editor has probably found a redlink, thought 'I know about that' and started an article. However, if there were a way to prevent IP addresses from creating new articles which nothing links to, I would think that might be a good idea. Worldtraveller 13:08, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Disagree completely. If it weren't for unregistered users, I probably wouldn't be here, since I wouldn't have gotten interested in Wikipedia. The fact that I could immediately change stuff on the spot was incredible. As to unregistered users being anonymous, that is simply a red herring. We're all anonymous. The only difference is that registered users aren't referred to by their IP addresses. A vandal can create an account just as well as non-vandals can. Email verification is also meaningless (ever heard of Hotmail and throwaway accounts?). Real names are meaningless when you discover that 93% of vandals are called Snow White. This is a feel-good idea, not something that would actually accomplish anything (useful).Tommstein 22:21, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Comment - It's 2007 now, and, interestingly, Tommstein has been banned. I point this out because Tommstein presented himself/herself as an example of someone who would not have been editing on Wikipedia if registration had been required up front, as if that was a reason not to require registration. Subsequent events appear to have made this user a data point in favor of requiring registration. Of course I am sure plenty of users who favor registration probably end up getting banned as well (perhaps I will eventually get banned; who knows?). The argument should not hinge on personal anecdotes anyway, but on aggregate data representing statistically valid samples of users. --Teratornis 20:50, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Disagree completely.Exactly right I was very timid initially it was only after I realised that useful contributions stick (and that some topics i was interested in were poorly served) that i really got into it. Then i wanted the recognition - regisration would deter people with good intentions but it wouldn't bother vandals much.).Cp6ap 24 Oct 2005
    • Question - Did you already know people in real life who were editing on Wikipedia when you started? I suspect this "timidity" problem will become less of an issue as experienced editors become more common. For example, I have already personally motivated at least one new user to begin editing on Wikipedia who probably would have been too timid to start without any personal encouragement. In any case, I think Wikipedia can better serve the timid new users by setting up a sandbox/quarantine/playpen site for them to hack on safely. Then they won't have to get sucked into edit wars right away when they violate one of Wikipedia's numerous policies. Also, I should point out that if you want more recognition, you might make a user page. --Teratornis 20:50, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Rejected. Perennial issue, and not a good idea. Radiant_>|< 23:13, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Comment - for all time? The underlying conditions are far from static. Wikipedia keeps growing larger and more famous. Almost everyone I know has heard of Wikipedia by now. Each year, the site has less need to beg timid new users to try it. As Wikipedia becomes more successful, it must inevitably become more selective. The current model of expending vast amounts of volunteer human labor to perform the selection appears unsustainable. When fifty million adolescents are routinely vandalizing Wikipedia, will there be enough dedicated volunteers to manually revert all those edits? Why would I want to spend my free time reverting vandalism anyway? I would rather generate new product. If Wikipedia had to pay its editors to revert all that vandalism, I suspect a registration requirement would go in instantly. --Teratornis 20:50, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Agree completely - this would still let anyone edit, just require a few more steps. The amount of time it would save for legitimate editors and probably server traffic from people vandalizing and then being reverted would be huge, I'm sure. I'm sure it would cut down vandalism. Plus it would make for an overall better encyclopedia, as a lot of the sneaky vandalism that is missed would never happen in the first place. --AW 23:12, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
And anyway, just because it's a perennial issue means it's bad? Why do you think it's perennial, it must have some value or people wouldn't constantly bring it up --AW 23:19, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Comment - it's a "perennial issue" because anonymous vandals are a perennial problem. If the people who voted in favor of maintaining the current policy will take it upon themselves to manually edit out all the vandalism, then I will accept the policy. But I have seen lots of anonymous vandalism that had been sitting around for a while, waiting for someone like me to fix it. Evidently the proponents of the no-registration policy are unable or unwilling to handle all the unnecessary work their policy generates. The "perennial issue" keeps coming up because editor after editor wonders why they have to keep wasting their time editing out the anonymous vandalism. Basically these editors are asking, "Why do you have this policy that forces me to do unnecessary unpleasant work?" Of course an issue will keep coming up as long as one group of people is generating external costs for another group. --Teratornis 20:50, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
Comment - also see Appeal to tradition, a logical fallacy. If the longstanding nature of a thing was evidence of its goodness or utility, England's Royal family would be among the most objectively valuable institutions. Instead, the longstanding nature of a policy might be an argument against it, because the longer something has been around, the more it tends to persist based on inertia rather than continuing merit. --Teratornis 21:05, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Looking at it from scratch, and deliberately not reading the earlier discussions:
When I started editing here half a year ago, I was startled--and horrified--to see that people with ip addresses were editing--even people with shared school ip addresses. But I soon saw that many of these edits were good, and the use on ip addresses represented as much a non-committment as desire to remain anonymous (& the ones who do want to be anonymous seem to not recognize that they would be more anonymous with a user name).
I remained startled that people with ip addresses could start pages, and this was reinforced greatly when I started looking at proposed speedies, because going to a semi-protection policy would have removed at least 100 a day. However, I have also seen how many people are useful long term editors with ip addresses, & that some do finally adopt a name.
I'm more concerned with getting new editors than stopping vandals--it is after all possible to remove the vandalism but not possible to recover editors who are too shy at first. But from seeing current speedies, many new editors are being chased away by aggressive deletionists.
So I still think there's a problem, and am thinking about technical solutions,
having a 24 hour delay before new pages from an ip appear--if I still understand JHS students, this will deal with quite a lot. (etc)DGG 23:15, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Why not test the hypothesis? As of 2007, how many other public wikis still allow anonymous edits? Is the trend among public wikis to become more open, or less? Those other wikis that started off without a registration requirement and later added it, what are their results? Have they improved their ratio of good to bad edits? Did they abandon the registration requirement after seeing that it was a bad idea? Can we really know what we are discussing until we test the idea by requiring registration for a while? I'd like to see some evidence to support the seemingly self-contradictory argument that requiring registration will deter the good guys while somehow not deterring the bad guys. If registration won't stop vandals, how will it stop the the positive contributors? There seems to be an implicit assumption that vandals are much more motivated to vandalize than positive contributors are motivated to contribute. That assumption seems to contradict WP:AGF, by which we would instead assume good faith, i.e., that most prospective editors would be motivated enough to do good that they would understand the need to meet some reasonable minimum requirements.

After all, most Internet users are accustomed to registering for almost any sort of free account on the Internet; by not requiring the same sort of registration that almost every other site requires, Wikipedia might turn off some people, just as it might attract some others by that policy. It's far from clear that a registration requirement would lead to a net reduction in positive editors. How many experienced editors give up on Wikipedia in disgust after wasting hours of their time reverting vandalism over and over? Reverting vandalism is not always simple. If no one notices vandalism when it first appears, other editors may subsequently edit an article, and by the time someone finally notices the vandalism, editing the garbage out may be laborious. Who in their right mind wants to waste time doing that, year after year?

Today Wikipedia is one of the largest and most popular sites on the Web, making it much more attractive both to editors and to vandals. The point of self-perpetuating critical mass was passed long ago. Maybe a few years ago, few people knew about Wikipedia, and they needed every possible inducement to try editing here, but today the site shows up in every other Google search, and the odds are higher that we will know some people in real life who are editing here. People who learn about Wikipedia from registered users they happen to know personally are probably more willing to register up-front, since they will already be "sold" on the idea by their friends; they won't have to be convinced on their own by the wonders of anonymous editing. Registration won't stop vandalism, but it should reduce vandalism. Most criminals are lazy. Like predators, they instinctively seek out the weakest prey. Making it just a little harder to vandalize should reduce the percentage who vandalize to the fraction who are willing to make that extra effort. This works the same way as locking the doors to your house. It's easy for a sufficiently motivated criminal to smash through most locked doors, but making it just a bit harder than walking through an unlocked door is enough to deter some criminals, and send others looking for easier targets. In any case, the only way to be sure whether requiring registration is a good idea is to try it, while comparing the statistics on new user registrations, good and bad edits, etc., before and after the requirement takes effect. After a few months, enough data should be available to indicate which policy is really better. If requiring registration is really not a good idea, then we can rescind it. I don't understand this non-objective approach of deciding a priori that requiring registration is a bad idea.

Requiring registration is inevitable anyway. Consider: as more articles improve toward featured or good status, those pages will tend to become protected to varying degrees. The proportion of protected articles should steadily grow, and new articles will become harder to start, because there are only finitely many articles that can meet Wikipedia's requirements. Most of the sufficiently notable and attributable topics will already have articles, at some point in the fairly near future. Once upon a time, there was no Jupiter article, for example. Anyone could have started that article, confident that the subject was notable and attributable. Today the remaining topics for new articles are growing increasingly marginal, and the process of getting one started is growing less pleasant. New users will find Wikipedia progressively less inviting, because it will keep getting harder to further improve the already good articles, and harder to create new articles that will be initially good enough to escape speedy deletion. After a few years of manually policing the increasingly futile efforts of new users, Wikipedians will find it more efficient to automate more of the barriers to entry, perhaps by making new article creation more difficult (requiring proof of compliance with requirements up front, or formally quarantining them for review). The recruitment and training of new editors will probably be separated from the production of the encylopedia, perhaps by setting up a sandbox mirror of Wikipedia where new users can experiment freely, quarantining their edits for evaluation by experienced users before incorporating into Wikipedia proper. There will be some form of user ranking, whereby edits by unranked users get flagged for increased attention. The egalitarian ideal of allowing "anyone" to edit Wikipedia will become increasingly fictional in practice as the difficulty of getting low-quality edits through the initial policy gauntlet increases. The more successful Wikipedia becomes, the more selective it must deliberately be, by one mechanism or another. The mechanisms currently employed make lavish use of volunteer human labor, and this seems unsustainably inefficient. How many skilled professionals will want to donate their free time reverting the mindless vandalism of schoolchildren? Sooner or later, Wikipedia must raise the drawbridge. --Teratornis 19:49, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, yes, yes, this is a well-reasoned post that sums up many of my views. The problem of expert retention is critical to taking Wikipedia to the next level. There are many specialized topics that can only be covered well by having people who actually know the subject participate in the writing of the article. I have been on Wikipedia for less than a month and already am deeply frustrated by what I see happens with material that requires some verification that goes deeper than what someone found on a web site somewhere. Buddhipriya 20:13, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
In my comments here, I suggested that Wikipedia's current attempt to maintain the appearance of openness while in fact continuously adding more security amounts to a kind of Potemkin Village strategy. Here are some thought questions for everyone with an interest in this debate:
  • If you were starting your own wiki, would you allow unregistered users to edit it?
  • How many of the proponents of the existing Wikipedia policy would preserve that policy on their own wikis?
  • If an editor would not allow unregistered users to edit his or her own wiki, how long will that editor stick around on Wikipedia to clean up anonymous IP edits from school kids? Or more correctly, what proportion of such editors will stick around?
--Teratornis 18:34, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
I've been involved in Appropedia from nearly the beginning, and I pushed for an open editing policy, to lower the barriers for entry... (the usual reasons). It's been fine - we get a bit of spam, but manage it fine through watching recentchanges, and are looking at running spam and vandal bots on the server.
One of the things that influenced me was looking through history pages at Wikipedia and seeing that anonymous editors added a lot of value, relative to a small amount of poor content; and most of the really bad content was removed very quickly. If there seems to be a significant amount of vandalism that stays on the site (mainly on less closely watched pages) remember that the amount of good anon editing is much, much greater than that, but less visible. Another influence was seeing that it's possible to automate the spam and vandal fighting to a significant degree - some bots such as AntiVandalBot recognize and remove a lot of the bad edits, with amazing speed and accuracy. Perfect? No, but on balance the benefits given to Wikipedia by anon editors is much greater than the negatives. --Chriswaterguy talk 14:02, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Quote from Angela Beesley:
Vandals will sometimes log in if they have to. And genuine users sometimes won’t. I’m assuming vandals have more time to waste than the average Wikipedia reader, so there’s the danger that more vandals than normal people will have time to register, changing the balance of good users to bad.[1]
Also note the claim that 84% of anon edits are useful - couldn't figure out the precise source for that claim though.--Chriswaterguy talk 14:58, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

NO WAY! The banning of IP editors would not widely reduce vandalism, yet it would make it more difficult to fight severe vandalism since checkuser would be required to trace some of these vandals that would otherwise be easily traced and reported. GO-PCHS-NJROTC (Messages) 21:05, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Agree... - but under one condition: it should be possible to BLOCK discussions on my personal user page. Not too rarely has it happened that two people that just can't stand each other (visibly) tend to get into argument on MY page, mostly OT really soon. And who's to waste his precious time in removing their bullshit again? Yours truly. I do not want this. But since it is a sort of WP "policy" that anyone can even edit around in my discussion area, this is a no-no for me to register. (Because of that crap, I haven't been registering since my first edit, which was back in 2004!) Make it possible for me that I can block discussions on my personal page - and I mean COMPLETELY - and I will register. 100% sure. -andy 85.179.125.6 (talk) 06:53, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
    • You are allowed to remove comments on your talk page that you don't want there, because the act of removing them implies that you've seen them. Lanthanum-138 (talk) 12:45, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Using IP in public voting[edit]

This is not recommended, because it could be multiply abused. (If it isn't noted in public who is behind the IP, person could vote several times with its account (if it has one) plus dynamic IP addresses often changes.) It is very questionable. Alex discussion 23:06, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

On the other hand, that kind of sock puppetry is easily spotted, and can be dealt with (e.g., with the {{spa}} template) … and since there is no voting on Wikipedia, specious arguments one way or the other will be ignored regardless of how many times they are repeated. Happy Editing! — 70.21.5.28 (talk · contribs) 03:35, 30 September 2011 (UTC)