Wikipedia:How to not get outed on Wikipedia

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For some editors of Wikipedia, having their "real life" identity discovered can be a major problem, threatening their well-being, careers, or even personal safety. There are a variety of steps you can take to help protect yourself from this happening.

The 14 ways not to get outed[edit]

  1. Access Wikipedia for reading only.
  2. Don't use your real name.
  3. Don't use a name that alludes to your real name or anything about you in any way.
  4. Don't use a username you've ever used anywhere before, or anything resembling a username you've used before. If all your usernames previously used are variants on something like "SeismicGuy", name yourself "Fluffy Nose" here,[1] if you've never gone by Fluffy Nose before – it should be totally unrelated to you, and new.
  5. Use a unique Gmail for your WP activities like Fluffynose@gmail.com. Never mail anyone from this Gmail except via the web-based interface, to conceal your IP address (Gmail does not forward a sender's IP address in the email headers). Never open any attachments mailed to you to avoid possibly exposing your IP address. Disable all inline image loading on whatever means you use to check email.
  6. Don't even enable mail if you're extra nervous--you can live without it.
  7. Don't e-mail anyone on Wikipedia, even someone you completely trust – information you send to them may be hacked and leaked without their knowledge. This applies even to such official addresses as the Arbitration Committee mailing list.
  8. Don't edit any articles related to your job, home, known activities, or known relationships, or anything directly related to you; but if you must, don't do it with any tone of an "insider". Act like it's unrelated to you. Hide your possible interest in the topic.
  9. Give out nothing about yourself on a personal level; keep the job "on-wiki". If you are [[User:Fluffy Nose]] here, that is the extent of the existence you present to the world. You live only within these pages of Wikipedia.
  10. Never meet anyone from Wikipedia in real life, over Skype/voice chat/telephone, over any form of instant messaging or IRC communications, or anything else that gives them more than what they see "on-wiki".
  11. Exclusively edit using proxy-based Internet access, or only edit from public locations/connections, to conceal your IP presence. (See WP:IPBE.)
  12. If you use IRC identifiable to your on-wiki username and use freenode consider requesting a cloak[2] to hide your IP address.
  13. Don't out other people, yourself.
  14. Do not edit Wikipedia from the same computer you tend to use to send e-mails. All internet traffic is being logged, and if edits are made to Wikipedia at the same time that e-mails are being sent, it's easy to correlate the two by their IP address.

The more of these fourteen ideas you apply, the less likely it is to happen.

Does using your real name mean you can stop worrying about outing?[edit]

You might think that using your real name means you're already "out" (and thus can't "get outed"). However, "outing" can involve much more than simply revealing your true name. Someone who doesn't like your on-wiki activities might still try to look you up online (using your real name, which you've conveniently supplied them) and post your address or other information they might find about you — or, inadvertently, about some unrelated person who happens to have the same name as you. Consider this before you decide to use your real name on Wikipedia – afterwards it may be too late.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Unless you actually have a fluffy nose.
  2. ^ Cloaks are explained at m:IRC/Cloaks