Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Peacedove.svg The project page associated with this talk page is an official policy on Wikipedia. Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard for all users to follow. Please review policy editing recommendations before making any substantive change to this page. Always remember to keep cool when editing. Changes to this page do not immediately change policy anyway, so don't panic.

reference to WP:OUTING?[edit]

In the handling Socks section, there is no warning about not running afoul of WP:OUTING. That surprised me. I searched the archive and found no real discussion, so I am feeling like I must be misunderstanding something. If I am, I would appreciate being corrected. But it seems to me that the "Sockpuppet investigations" subsection, could be usefully edited as follows:

  • Wikipedia:Signs of sock puppetry lists some of the signs that an account may be a sock puppet. If you believe someone is using sock puppets or meat puppets, you should create a report at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations. Editors should not conduct report research conducted outside of Wikipedia in the course of considering whether to file at filing an SPI or otherwise discussing suspected socks; this is a violation of WP:OUTING. There are bureaucrats at SPI who are authorized to conduct research outside Wikipedia (see below). Only blocked accounts should be tagged as and only upon sufficient evidence that would stand up to scrutiny.

And possibly add OUTING to the list in "See also". Thoughts? Jytdog (talk) 01:40, 24 August 2014 (UTC) (edit draft per remark below Jytdog (talk) 03:35, 24 August 2014 (UTC))

Change "should not conduct research outside of Wikipedia" to "should not report research conducted outside of Wikipedia". What we do in our spare time is not Wikipedia's business until we write about it here. Otherwise this idea is worthy of discussion. Zerotalk 02:49, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
that's very helpful. change made. Jytdog (talk) 03:35, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Although I agree there is a need for something, I'm not sure this wording is the best approach. I'll give two reasons. (1) "Research outside Wikipedia" could involve an observation not related to OUTing. For example, an anonymous forum posting by someone boasting of operating particular socks can be mentioned, I think. (2) Some people have an account in their real name as well as an anonymous account. This can be completely legitimate if the accounts are not abused (say a professional person who edits in their area of expertise as well as in a totally different hobby interest). Using SPI to expose the connection between the accounts would be a violation of OUTING that is not mentioned anywhere.
For these reasons I'd like to see a more generic statement. I propose this be added to the "Handling suspected sock puppets" section: In reporting suspected sock puppetry, you must obey the rules of WP:OUTING with regard to disclosure of personal or identifying information. (Or words to that effect; improvements welcome.) Zerotalk 11:08, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I am totally fine with that. thanks. Jytdog (talk) 18:29, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Jytdog (talk) 01:47, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Jytdog, the only thing I worry about regarding the new addition is the discussion of IP addresses with regard to WP:OUTING; it's often the case that it is needed to mention an IP address with regard to WP:Sockpuppeting. Often, an IP address is suspected of being a WP:Sockpuppet and/or is called one based on WP:Duck. Flyer22 (talk) 02:53, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I am not nearly as confident of that as you are; I am more with WAID on that. The language added is silent on the issue, so there is ambiguity that allows for your approach as well as others, right? If you want to resolve that ambiguity by explicitly saying that it is OK to search IP addresses, it would be interesting to see what happens.Jytdog (talk) 03:18, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm confident on it, because, as noted in that discussion, it is allowed all the time, including at WP:ANI. In some cases, noting a person's IP address can be a form of WP:OUTING, I suppose, but I'm simply stating that there is significant wiggle room regarding WP:Sockpuppet matters and IP addresses. It's not much of a "search IP addresses" matter (except for WP:CheckUsers who obviously commonly search IP addresses in WP:Sockpuppet investigations), and I'm not looking for any explicit comment on the matter on the policy page. I was simply noting something that might be a concern in the future. Flyer22 (talk) 04:10, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
gotcha! i hope, for your sake, that you are correct.  :) Jytdog (talk) 04:46, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Proposal: Add a new section specific to WMF staff to acknowledge that they may have separate volunteer and work-related accounts[edit]

WP:BOLDly implimented by User:NE Ent. --Mdann52talk to me! 07:44, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

In light of a recent statements by Lila Tretikov[1] and Philippe Beaudette[2], respectively the Executive Director and the Director, Community Advocacy for the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), all WMF staff posting on Wikimedia projects in their work roles will have their work-related accounts identified in a specific manner that clearly differentiates from a volunteer account and clearly identifies the editor as a WMF employee. This policy will have full force as of September 15, 2014.

I propose that, effective immediately, all WMF staff may have both an account specific to their work for the WMF, identifiable in accord with WMF policy; and a separate volunteer account that does not include any WMF staff identifiers in the username. Risker (talk) 23:53, 26 August 2014 (UTC)


  • In practice, this is already done and already extended to situations like Wikimedian-in-Residence posts. If there is a desire to make this explicit in the policy, I would suggest making it broader than simply WMF, to reflect this practice. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:16, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
    • I realise that it's reflecting current practice; however, now that the WMF is making it official policy for their staff, many of whom have been volunteer editors for years (including several admins on this project), I think it important that whatever change is made clearly includes this as policy. I have no objection to expanding this practice to other known wikimedians who have a separate work-related account. Care to draft up some wording, Nikkimaria? Risker (talk) 00:28, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
      • We may want to include it as an exception to WP:ROLE, which is really the only part of the policy that can be read as being contrary to the current practice. Actually, I'd be in favor of revising it to focus entirely on shared "role" accounts, and explicitly permit role accounts that are individuals self identifying their role with an organization. Monty845 00:40, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
        • I hadn't read any suggestion of exception to WP:ROLE. I understood that every WMF employee would have their own WMF branded work account, one per person. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:09, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
              • As a point of clarification, what you say there (one employee per account) is broadly true. There are, however, two role accounts used by the WMF as well - User:WMFOffice, which is controlled by me and my team, and User:WMF Legal, which is controlled by the legal team. Those accounts are seldom used, but are an important tool for circumstances where they are necessary. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 06:25, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
          • Also don't see this as part of ROLE - if we were seeing accounts like User:Engineering (WMF), sure, but the standard User:Name (WMF) would not appear to be covered by that provision even as it is now. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:11, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Proposed bullet, to be added to the list of Legitimate uses:

  • Position: Editors who hold positions that involve editing Wikipedia, such as a job with the Wikimedia Foundation or a post as a Wikimedian-in-Residence, may have a separate account dedicated to that role. The connection between the two accounts should be clearly indicated. Such accounts must also adhere to the username policy.

I'm not particularly happy with the bolded name - any suggestions? Other comments? The bit about the username policy is in place to prevent this from becoming a ROLE issue, though I'm personally not sure it's needed. I also considered adding a link to WP:COI, which I would consider very relevant to the WiR role, but I know this has been a point of contention in some quarters in relation to WMF-affiliated editors. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:11, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

    • What about "Wikimedia-related employment"? It's a bit long, but it doesn't specify WMF, so it should cover the WiR role as well. Risker (talk) 03:18, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
      • True, but I'm pretty sure there are still unpaid WiRs. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:47, 27 August 2014 (UTC)


  1. One of the few times I'll make my opinion known from my staff username. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 23:56, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
  2. I don't think we even need a formal !vote on this, updating a policy to reflect a widely accepted practice shouldn't require much discussion, other than on what the specific language change should be. Monty845 00:44, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  3. Support, and support stronger language. "WMF staff must not edit Wikipedia in a personal capacity using a WMF branded account". Should there be an easy link to WMF policy on WMF staff edits to the project? I have long been concerned about the mixing of personal "(WMF)" accounts and personal accounts, with the apparent proliferation of WMF staff. It has always been the case that anyone may set up and use prominently disclosed alternative accounts, including for example User:Example (WMF) and User:Example. I suppose there should be a username restriction, that no user may include "WMF" in their username unless they are on a particular WMF list, and that old such accounts must be blocked. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:06, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
    Hi SmokeyJoe, I don't know for certain but suspect that this would be an internal WMF staff policy and may not necessarily be published on any accessible project. I think having it posted in some place that users (readers and editors) can access might be a good idea, though. The Foundation wiki usually only has stuff that requires approval from the Board (this staff policy wouldn't and it also wouldn't apply to board members because they are not employees), but perhaps there is somewhere that it can be publicly viewable. Risker (talk) 02:06, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
    The Foundation globally locked some past staff accounts, but I don't believe this happens every time. This is just from memory based on some controversy I remember on Meta when the wrong account was locked, maybe Philippe can let us know if there is a policy? There have also been a few times that Phillippe (including at least one from me) has been asked if an account is really an employee and it's been blocked as it wasn't. Also, thanks for proposing the two RfCs Risker. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 02:46, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
    We have an offboarding procedure that is followed on employee termination. As one step in that procedure, someone from our Office IT group will globally lock the staff account belonging to the employee, and - if there are advanced privileges assigned to that account - forward it to my team to have those privileges removed. Occasionally we manage to remember to put {{FormerStaff}} on the user page, but realistically, that becomes a game of "whack a mole" in trying to find every user page and update it, so we don't always do that. Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 06:21, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
    I suspect that all of this has been practice for quite a while; as far as I know nobody's ever threatened to block either part of a staff/volunteer account pair simply because the other account existed. But definitely non-staff accounts using "WMF" in their name have been routinely globally locked for several years. I'm glad to see this now being formalized into a policy that applies to everyone. I do hope people extend some kindness and understanding to people who've been longtime volunteers as well as (current) staff because I'm sure there will be occasions when people unintentionally forget to change accounts. Risker (talk) 03:01, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  4. Support, with the caveat that the link between the two is disclosed on both userpages (as it is now). Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 02:02, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  5. I have no reason to oppose. This seems to be a common sense update to address changing rules and standards. Spirit of Eagle (talk) 02:29, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  6. Support, this use is already accepted but this specifies it as legitimate rather than there just being no policy against it. Peter James (talk) 09:48, 30 August 2014 (UTC)


The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Snow closed and edited[edit]

This doesn't require an RFC. I've made an edit -- anyone is free to reuse, edit or redistribute it, of course. (which of course includes reverting) NE Ent 13:14, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

I agree with NE Ent. An RfC is overkill here (I had initially thought it might be helpful, but have changed my mind). This has been standard practice for a long time. The edit NE Ent made is fine, possibly with some additions. It currently says:

Designated roles: Editors with specific roles, such as Wikipedian in residence or Wikimedia Foundation employees, may have specific accounts for those roles.

The term 'specific role' is a catch-all. There is no real need to have an exhaustive list of examples, but other ones that I'm aware of are accounts relating to the Wiki Education Foundation (an example is User:Sage (Wiki Ed)) and possibly accounts relating to work with Wikimedia chapters (though I don't know of any examples of this offhand). Carcharoth (talk) 15:41, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure this was really necessary since it probably falls under the existing "Maintenance" provision (specifically "to segregate functions"). But it doesn't hurt either, and it might come in helpful (for non-WMF people too) with respect to WP:PAY and the TOU requirement to identify paid contributions.
The only change I would make would be to reiterate that the account being described is a personal account for a specific person acting in one of their roles, not an account for the role itself, just to avoid any possible ambiguity. Anomie 00:56, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

So, I have see a user edit history that looks suspicious. What do I do?[edit]

So, I have see a user edit history that looks suspicious. What do I do? -DePiep (talk)

Presumably, your asking hypothetically or on behalf of someone else? Options:

  • Explain on your user page
  • Offer to explain privately on your userpage
  • Confess to a checkuser or arb
  • Take a six month break and come back with a fresh account, never to revisit past problem areas.
  • Commit to ongoing impeccable behaviour
--SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:56, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Changed: 'see' not 'have'. Clarifies my original post - I hope. -DePiep (talk) 23:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
@DePiep: You should file an WP:SPI (see instructions on that page). Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 04:45, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
  • DePiep, I remember one experienced editor saying that in the first instance, he would ask the editor privately, by email. I presume that this would allow the person to privately give a reason, whether it is private or just silly, and that it could lead to a productive conversation without any public revelation or shaming. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:24, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Soapamalkanmaime sockfarm[edit]

This user has operated numerous socks, and they are popping up at the rate of three of four a month at the moment. However, the editor makes a habitual set of changes which are fairly easy to spot once the account is identified (changing "References" to "Notes and references" and {{reflist}} to {{reflist|2}}) and has an obsession with portals. I wondered whether there was any way for these types of edits to trigger some kind of alert that they have returned under yet another username? Number 57 21:55, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

See here, User:Sireachn Dreadniss, for the latest Soapamalkanmaime account. I brought Number 57's attention to the matter by commenting on User:Sireachn Dreadniss's talk page. Flyer22 (talk) 22:26, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Another one popped up today (which I only spotted as they reverted my revert of a previous sock). Is this possible? Number 57 16:32, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
@Number 57, Flyer22: You can try an edit filter request at Wikipedia:Edit filter/Requested. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 05:58, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! Number 57 21:38, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

How many advertised shortcuts to the policy page?[edit]

User:Bbb23, that[3] is multiply nonsense.

There are 29 redirects to this page (generally, not counting redirects targeted to sections). These are listed below. It is nonsense to insist that these must be either listed at the top of the policy or deleted. Redirects are cheap, and these redirects don't appear to do any harm. Their existence is not the problem. The problem is (1) the crowding of the above-the-fold space on the policy, and (2) the message that policy-readers who will go one to refer elsewhere to this policy are encouraged to pick and choose any of the listed shortcuts on their own whim. On (2), when these editors write to others using chosen shortcut, is it going to be helpful to their readers, as opposed to the use of the very well used, dominant shortcut?

You replaced four shortcuts in the highly prominent box at the top. These are WP:SOC, WP:SOCKS, WP:PUPPET and WP:SOCKING. The number of pages these link from, respectively, are: 186, 144, 73 and 9.

In contrast, WP:SOCK, I stopped counting the number of pages linking at 35000.

Of these five, one is clearly dominant. For new readers of this policy, for a shortcut, they should be encouraged to use the standard WP:SOCK, and not any other. If they use another, presumably they have a reason, and one should wonder what that reason is.

Only having one seems extreme? This opinion is a malady pervading project space, but it seems especially obtuse here. WP:SOCK is about having one account per person. One person using multiple accounts generates all sorts of problems, genreally through misinformation and confusion. It is much the same with shortcuts. If people are to refer to the one policy by a multiple names, it creates the impression that there are multiple policy pages. For the audience not familiar with all of the shortcuts, this is misinformation and confusion.

KISS. How many shortcuts do editors need to be encouraged to use for the one page?

— Preceding unsigned comment added by SmokeyJoe (talkcontribs) 13:15, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

For reference, the 29 untargeted incoming redirects found are:

--SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:00, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

It appears the people are trying to insist that these things be created in pairs: a redirect, and a listing here advertising the redirect. That can make sense when there are different semantics to the redirects. When it's simply a case of some people liking to use hyphens, I can't see any justification. There may be a value to selecting one verb, one noun, and one adjective to advertise, but there's no need to have a laundry list of every redirect that's been created over the years.—Kww(talk) 14:36, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
My own practice, FWIW, is that when I want to link to a particular WP page, say in a post on someone's talk page, I'll go to the page and then use one of the anchors, which are usually shorter than the direct link. I almost always see more than one anchor. Thus, I found your reduction to one anchor atypical. So, I reverted to the status quo. That doesn't mean that I'm wed to as many anchors as there are on this page or even the anchors that were picked, but I just figured it needed some discussion before doing something that I thought was out of the ordinary.--Bbb23 (talk) 22:23, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
  • WP:2SHORTCUTS is enough. –xenotalk 22:30, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
    Xeno, does that mean you think there should be one or two?--Bbb23 (talk) 02:05, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
    It clearly says "one or two". One or two is not four of five. Should there be one, or two? Well, a factor is how often the shortcut is used. The first towers above all others. Is that one shortcut enough? By counting actual uses, it looks to be. And this is without considering the 20 additional shortcuts advertised for specific sections. Do these blue bold shortcuts all over the policy help the intended audience? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:13, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Showing multiple shortcuts creates confusion for inexperienced editors: Is there a difference between WP:SOCK and WP:PUPPET? Which one should I use? In this case I see no reason to display more than WP:SOCK. Johnuniq (talk) 01:51, 25 September 2014 (UTC)