User:NTox/Guide to username assessment

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This guide is written to help editors assess username violations on the English Wikipedia. It aims to do so by filling in the blanks of current policies/norms to provide a more comprehensive summary of username consensus. As such, this page intends to enhance UAA, ACC, RFCN, and normal username patrols. Please evaluate this information in context of the latest community standards.


Most people believe the username policy is just a list of rules about usernames, but that is only half of it. In fact, the username policy has two parts: (1) account names, and (2) account operation. A better name for the policy would be something like Wikipedia:User accounts, which in this case is actually a redirect. The operation side covers rules relating to account sharing and sockpuppetry, but because there are other project pages that deal with such issues, they are often less important to WP:U. Thus comes the rules about user names direcly; the following is a summary:

  1. Offensive usernames, which actually offend people. If you are not disgusted, insulted, upset, attacked, or revolted, and you know that no one else would be, the name is not offensive. This means a name like "Jerk2584" is not offensive because no reasonable person would be offended by the word "jerk". Rightfully-offensive names include those that attack people, contain profanities, etc.
  2. Disruptive usernames, which pollute a harmonious editing environment, but do not reach the higher standard of offensiveness. While they are often created in a vandalistic spirit, this is not always the case. Disruptive usernames may include those that provoke emotional reactions in other editors, show a clear intent to disrupt Wikipedia, etc.
  3. Misleading usernames, which actually mislead people. In other words, they must have a likelihood of deceiving people into believing things that are not true. Please think before you declare a name misleading. Misleading usernames include those that impersonate people, give the impression that they belong to people they do not, imply that they have user permissions they do not ("bot", "admin", etc.), resemble IP addresses, appear to be officially connected to Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation, etc. Take special note that the word "wiki" or "Wikipedia" in a username does not always make a username misleading.
  4. Promotional usernames, which intend to represent the name of a company, organization, group, institution, product, website, or e-mail address. Such usernames are prohibited to discourage promotional editing and account sharing. These are the most common username violations. It is worth noting that a username representing the operator's real name is not promotional.
  5. Usernames that imply sharing, which convey the impression that more than one person uses the account. These are prohibited to discourage actual account sharing. Such may include a name like "Tom & Chris", or one like "Secretary of the XY Foundation", which suggests a work post that is held by different people over time. Usernames that imply sharing should not be blocked for implying sharing alone. Instead, they should only be blocked for actual sharing or some other violation.
  6. Confusing usernames, which are difficult to read, write, or are problematic for some miscellaneous reason. They may be very lengthy, involve strange characters, consist of unintelligible gibberish, etc. Only in the strictest circumstances should confusing usernames be blocked outright.


The UAA noticeboard is made to deal with serious and unambiguous username violations quickly. It works by collecting reports of such violations in one space so administrators can efficiently block the accounts. A key here is unambiguity, meaning there should be little if any doubt as to whether the name is a problem. It cannot be emphasized enough that UAA should not be used as a 'test board' in which you post a name for an administrator to decide if it is a violation of not. Instead, you are responsible for making that determination yourself, with the username policy as the authority. Improper reports are bitey and waste administrators' time.

Another key is seriousness, in that a reported name must be a big enough problem to justify administrative attention. This means there will be circumstances in which a name is an unambiguous violation, but it should not be reported. An example might be "User:Johnnybot", who has made constructive contributions and was simply unaware that names should not end with "bot". It is insensitive to report and block this user without asking them if they are willing to change their name first. So before reporting a name to UAA, ask these questions first:

1. Is it a blatant or borderline violation?
If borderline, talk to the user about it.
If blatant, ask the next question.
2. Was it created in good or bad faith?
If bad, report it to UAA.
If good, ask the next question.
3. Are they making constructive or disruptive edits?
If disruptive, report them to UAA.
If constructive, talk to them about it.
4. Have they declined to rename even after talking?
If it's a blatant violation, report it to UAA.
If it's a borderline violation, discuss it at RFCN.