Wikipedia:Username policy

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"WP:U" and "WP:UN" redirect here. For the guidelines on user pages, see WP:UP. For the United Nations WikiProject, see WP:WPUN.
"WP:Nickname" redirects here. For the guideline on aliases in main namespace, see WP:NICKNAME.

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 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. 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 details on signatures and how to customize them, see Wikipedia:Signatures.

Bear in mind that, once chosen, a username cannot be easily changed. If you choose "Dr. Franz Schröder", then your doctorate will be evident on history pages and, unless you change your signature, on all posts to talk pages. If you prefer to be less formal, leave off the title. However, you should read the section on using your real name as your username.

You specify your username when creating an account, and subsequently use it (together with your secret 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 software will not allow you to register with a username that is already in use, or one that appears too similar to one that is already in use. In the latter case, however, you may still request permission to use that name (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

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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 (for example, a word that may seem offensive in one context may have another, more benign meaning in another context). For guidance on how to deal with inappropriate names if encountered, see Dealing with inappropriate usernames below.

Misleading usernames

The following types of username 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 which it does not have, for example by containing the terms "administrator", "bureaucrat", "steward", "checkuser", "oversight", or similar terms like "admin", "sysop" or "moderator".
  • Usernames which 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 including phrases such as "wikipedia", "wikimedia", "wiktionary", "(WMF)", or similar if they give the incorrect impression that the account may be officially affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its projects.
  • Usernames which 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 WP:VANISH).

Disruptive or offensive usernames

The following types of usernames are not permitted because they are disruptive or offensive:

  • Usernames that are likely to offend other contributors, making harmonious editing difficult or impossible, for example by containing profanities.
  • Usernames that contain or imply personal attacks.
  • Usernames that seem intended to provoke emotional reaction ("trolling").
  • Usernames that otherwise show a clear intent to disrupt Wikipedia.

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 violating the BLP policy

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Certain disruptive and offensive usernames (for example those containing contentious material about living persons, or those that are clearly abusive towards any race, religion or social groups) should be immediately blocked by administrators and suppressed from logs by Oversighters to protect Wikipedia and the subjects involved from harm. Requests for removing attack usernames from logs should be reported to the Oversight team for evaluation and private removal.

Promotional names

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

  • Usernames that unambiguously represent the name of a company, group, institution or product (e.g. TownvilleWidgets, MyWidgetsUSA.com, TrammelMuseumofArt). However usernames that contain such names are sometimes permissible; see under Usernames implying shared use below.
  • Email addresses and URLs (such as "Alice@example.com" and "Example.com") that promote a commercial web page and don't simply identify a person. While plain domain names (without .com, .co.kr, etc.) are sometimes acceptable, such as when the purpose is simply to identify the user as a person, they are inappropriate if they promote a commercial Web page.

A user who both adopts a promotional username and also engages in inappropriately promotional behaviors in articles about the company, group, or product, can be blocked. 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" features. Otherwise, the user should be offered the opportunity to create a new account. (Before blocking, disagreements as to whether a particular username is acceptable should be discussed at WP:Requests for comment/Usernames.) Users who adopt such usernames, but who are not editing problematically in related articles, should not be blocked. Instead, they should be gently encouraged to change their username.

Usernames implying shared use

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Because Wikipedia's policy is that usernames should not be shared between more than one individual, usernames that imply the likelihood of shared use are not permitted. This means that:

  • Usernames that are simply names of companies or groups are not permitted (these also fall under Promotional names above).
  • Usernames that are names of posts within organizations, such as "Secretary of the XY Foundation", are not permitted, as such a post may be 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 WidgetsUSA", "Jack Smith at the XY Foundation", "WidgetFan87", etc.

Remember that promotional editing is not permitted regardless of 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.

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.

Confusing usernames

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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.

Dealing with inappropriate usernames

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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.

Consider leaving well alone

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}} 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 think a username needs to be immediately blocked and is an obvious case, report it to Usernames for administrator attention. Note that this should only be used for violations which you think clearly merit immediate blocks, without warning.

Do not both warn a user or discuss the matter with a user and at nearly the same time report at Usernames for administrator attention, as a warning or discussion is an invitation to the user to change names or otherwise fix the issue, while the report invites a block which would prevent this.

Report other problems

If the user with a bad username is breaching other policies, such as those against spam or vandalism, follow up using those policies rather than reporting the username. If the user is editing in a biased or promotional way on a subject they appear to have a connection with, report them at the Conflict of Interest noticeboard.

Usernames for Administrator Attention guidelines

Usernames for administrator attention 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. However, 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

"WP:IMPERSONATE" redirects here. For impersonation of Wikipedia usernames, see WP:Signature forgery.
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Consider carefully before creating an account in your real name, or a nickname which might be traced to you, as these increase the potential for harassment, especially if you edit in controversial subject areas. 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 name is used that implies that the user is (or is related to) a specific, identifiable person, the account may sometimes be blocked as a precaution against damaging impersonation, until proof of identity is provided.

If you have been blocked for using your real name, please don't take offense; we're trying to prevent somebody from impersonating you (or impersonating someone you share a name with). You are welcome to use your real name, but in some cases, you will need to prove 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, and an immediate reply is not always possible.

Usernames with non-Latin characters

There is no requirement that usernames be in English. Furthermore, contributors are welcome to use usernames that are not spelled using the Latin alphabet, but should bear in mind that scripts of non-Latin languages (such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Greek or Japanese) are illegible to most contributors to the English Wikipedia, and sometimes the characters may not appear correctly. To avoid confusion and aid navigation, users with such usernames are encouraged to use Latin characters in their signature.

Similar usernames

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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:Listusers 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, for example 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. (However, the software will prevent registration of certain names that are found to be too similar to existing ones.)

Shared accounts

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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 account being blocked. For accounts being used to represent a group or organization, see Promotional names 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

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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 bot account. It is recommended that multiple accounts be identified as such on their user pages; templates such as {{User alternative account}} or one of a selection of user boxes may be used for this purpose.

The use of multiple accounts outside of established policy for doing so is known as sock puppetry, 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. 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

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Usernames can be changed by bureaucrats; 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 page histories, diffs, logs, and user contributions. Signatures on discussion pages will continue to use the old name; while these can be changed manually, it is not recommended unless a contributor wishes to remove as much information as possible about their former name for privacy reasons. In such situations the old name will still be available in old versions of discussion pages. Username changes are listed in the user rename log or 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.[1] Editors seeking privacy per their right to vanish can have their accounts renamed and their user pages and (in some cases) user talk pages deleted.

It is not possible to merge user accounts on the English Wikipedia.

Unified login

Main article: m:Help:Unified login

A unified login is a mechanism which allows users to use a single login across the majority of the Wikimedia Foundation's sister projects. This allows users to maintain a consistent identity throughout Wikimedia, following a single sign-up. Other advantages of this mechanism include the removal of the threat that impersonation poses and the ability to visit many projects without having to go through the labours of logging in everywhere. Users can create a unified login by visiting Special:MergeAccount on a project where they already have an account, and following the prompts.

Notes

  1. ^ See bug 32815

See also