Wikipedia:Credential ban

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This proposal seeks to be a foolproof solution to the problems associated with credentials on Wikipedia and with verifying those credentials. Disallow the use of credentials on Wikipedia.

Problems with credentials on Wikipedia[edit]

There are a multitude of problems associated with the use of credentials on Wikipedia. The following is a short list, compiled from observations from other discussions:

  1. First and foremost: If every editor is truly equal, credentials serve no purpose on Wikipedia.
  2. Allowing the continued use of credentials leaves the door open for editors to use the "I have a PhD so stop arguing" argument.
  3. No credential is a substitute for content policies such as WP:ATT and WP:NPOV.
  4. Verifing credentials threatens to split the community into two groups of users:
    • Trusted users with verified credentials
    • Users with unverified credentials or no credentials at all
  5. No simple credential verification system can be foolproof.


This would be the simpest proposal to implement of all the credential proposals.

  • Using credentials to attempt to win a dispute would result in a warning, similar to those given for legal threats, repeated use may result in a temporary block.
  • Credentials that could create a sense of elitism are not to be allowed on Wikipedia, even userpages.
    • Listing advanced degrees and high level positions within one's field can create a sense of elitism
      • "I have a PhD in Biology" - Bad
      • "I know biology well and am interested in it" - Good
      • "I'm a movie studio executive" - Bad
      • "I have experience with movies" - Good
      • "I'm chair of the Harvard law department." - Bad
      • "I'm a lawyer in the Boston area." - Good
    • Basic biographical facts do not create a sense of elitism
      • "I live in Houston, Texas" - Good
      • "I'm president of the Houston Historical Society" - Bad

Other types of personal credentials are not as obviously (un)acceptable as the above examples. A general rule of thumb is:

  • Anything that can be seen as a status symbol or gives a sense of status within any community should probably not be included in the Wikipedia community.

User names[edit]

Many users wish to edit under their real names or a pseudonym that may reflect their actual name, profession, or status. This section exists as a minor "loophole" to this proposal. As usernames do not reflect a sense of elitism as much as a list of credentials or simply saying "I have a PhD" does, usernames that could possibly reflect credentials are allowed. These users would still be held to the remaining policies though. User:PhDBio would still have to cite sources and would not be allowed to use credentials as a method to win a dispute. User:RichardDawkins would still be held to the same standard of accountability as User:AnyUser and would still have to follow all other policies, such as WP:COI.

See also[edit]

Other related proposed changes to Wikipedia