Wikipedia:Username policy/RFC

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See individual sections for summing up. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:22, 3 February 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.

Recently there have been several discussions at various forums regarding issues with the username policy and the enforcement of that policy. This is intended as a review of any issues relating to both the policy and the way it is enforced. Any user is free to add new sections detailing any issue that concerns them, but are asked to please carefully review all the previous sections first in case there is already a discussion that is germane to the same issue or issues. Please be sure to add a timestamp to any new sections by signing it with five tildes.

Issues are presented in no particular order. Each issue should have its own dedicated discussion section. For discussion of the process itself, please use the talk page.

Promotional usernames[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Consensus here is pretty much that the policy should continue to be enforced as-is, especially as regards "Mark at Alcoa" cases. However, several editors raise important concerns "biting" newcomers with over-zealous or aggressive enforcement. Admins and others involved in this area should take this into consideration. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:33, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

  • See also: WP:ORGNAME, the policy as currently written.
  • Traditionally, policy has held that any name that can reasonably be interpreted as representing a specific organization is a violation. However, if a user identifies themselves as an individual acting at the behest of that organization that has generally been seen as permissible. (This is colloquially referred to as the "Mark at Alcoa" exemption.) So, for example "A1 Carpet Company" would be considered a violation while "Bill from A1 Carpet" would not. Should this continue to be the way the policy is understood and enforced?
  • Some administrators have argued that having the name of a real organization in your username should only be considered a violation if the user is also acting in a way that attempts to promote that same organization. Is this what the community expects or are all names of real organizations to be treated as violations whether they are acting promotionally or not?
  • We often see users promoting organizations that, for all intents and purposes, are not real. For example, using the name of their YouTube account or Online gaming "crews" and posting articles as though these were real organizations in the real world, i.e. "Stickleback studios" or "Badass Corporation". Should these be considered username violations or should the users simply be warned for self-promotion and advised that their "organization" is almost certainly not notable enough for inclusion?
  • In cases where there is no doubt that the name is a violation, what should the administrative reaction entail? Options include hard blocking, (which requires the user to file a successful unblock request in order to return to editing) soft blocking, (which stops the user from using the offending name but allows for them simply creating a new account and trying again) or just informing the user of the issue and asking them to file a request to change their name? Is their behavior a factor in which option to choose, or should all obvious violations be treated the same?

19:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of promotional names[edit]

  • I agree and abide by the "Mark at Alcoa". For everything else promotional means promotional. YouTube accounts or an established company, it does not matter. They are - even if inadvertently - promoting their product or services. An account name should identify an individual and not be a group or a shared account. Everything that is blatant about it gets blocked (type of block depends on each case). Everything borderline gets warned and automatically included in CAT:UAA. I patrol that page regularly and everyone in violation who has not responded (or requested CHU) after 7 days gets blocked. In some cases, when very bordeline, I remove them from this page with "not a username vio". -- Alexf(talk) 19:30, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • What if the username is Company_So&So_Webmaster? Meaning a role account within a company or group. Surely it is an individual (is it?), but being a role account it can (and probably is) shared by several individuals instead. To me this is still a group account and blockable but I am unclear on the consensus on this one. -- Alexf(talk) 20:12, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Thoughts from user:Fluffernutter (note that I am not particularly active in username patrolling; these opinions are all how I would like things to be more than they are how I do things): Should this continue to be the way the policy is understood and enforced? Yes, agree with the "Mark at Alcoa" guideline. A username that represents a particular individual at a company is generally going to be acceptable. A username that represents a whole company, or a position at a company (so for instance Alexf's "Company_So&So_Webmaster"), is going to be unacceptable, because the implication is that the account is being shared among people at the company (if the current webmaster is fired, will "user:Company_So&So_Webmaster" get passed to the new webmaster?).

    Are all names of real organizations to be treated as violations whether they are acting promotionally or not? Yes, though because of role account concerns more than promotional concerns. If you have user:Company_So&So running around, whether they're adding "Company So&So is the best!" or not to articles, they still appear to be operating a shared account.

    Should [non-"real" organization usernames] be considered username violations? Yes, I see no difference, policy-wise, between user:Company_So&So and user:So& or user:So&SoYoutubeChannel.

    In cases where there is no doubt that the name is a violation, what should the administrative reaction entail? This is where the actual edits the account is making come in. If they have been editing promotionally, they should be given a spamublock (hardblock), because even under a different name, they would need to behave differently. If they have not been editing promotionally, or have not edited at all, they should be given a softblock, because their behavior has not been problematic, just their choice of username has. Ideally users in this situation who are given a softerblock would also be given a COI notification, so they understand best practices, but it would be acceptable to just let them create a new account and try again. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:36, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

  • Every time a user with a promotional user name uses ~~~~ it can potentially be construed as a backdoor method of advertising. That being said, it is nice to have a permanent log of their COI (i.e. their username, which cannot be hidden like a talk page comment or other record). John Reaves 22:52, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Usernames that unambiguously represent the name of companies are not allowed because they are generally considered promotional and imply shared use of the account, why is Mark at Alcoa any less promotional? Wikipedia does not allow advertising but does allow account names that may contain (in part) a brand name. The two ideas seem at variance with each other to me. 'User:Mark at Alcoa' should be as unacceptable at' User:Alcoa', IMO. Bellerophon talk to me 23:22, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
    Fortunately for Wikipedia you seem to be in a distinct minority. I wholly support the idea because it makes clear the user is speaking for themselves as well as disclosing the conflict up front. As long as users with names like that agree not to edit the articles on their concerns they would not otherwise be violating policy. Daniel Case (talk) 01:01, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
    1. Me at Work: I strongly support "Mark at Alcoa" names. It's COI disclosure with every edit. It's not "promotional" to give your real name and real employer's name. If the user behaves badly, then it's even anti-promotional.
    2. Mere mention: I don't believe that the mere existence of a plain name is promotional. "Vote for Senator Smedley" is promotional; just plain "Smedley" is not. You should only get in trouble if the name is directly promotional, not if it merely mentions a business, product, place, or organization.
      Furthermore, given the millions of business and product names in the world, there's a serious problem with figuring out which names are really meant to be the business if you don't wait to see what the person is doing. If we're going to block all the names of businesses and products, then we're going to lose a lot of people. So, goodbye, Fluffernutter: did you even know that your name is a registered trademark? Goodbye, Bellerophon: there's a tech business in Montreal and at least two publishing houses with that name, not to mention your obvious intent to promote two navies and several works of art. Goodbye, John Reaves: did you know about "John Reaves, Inc", the Florida real estate company bearing your name? Goodbye, Beeblebrox: have you ever put "Beeblebrox Inc" into your favorite search engine? And goodbye me, because some tour guide uses my name as a blog title. And Alex, you're not really exempt, either: Try "Alex F Inc", although I think that most admins would let that pass, if you swore that you weren't the same guy that turns up in that search. Don't edit anything that might make people wonder if you were "the Alex F. Company of Saint Louis" mentioned in a 1941 newspaper article, though.
    3. Team names: These kinds of fake businesses are actually real, albeit informal, organizations. I'd treat them like any other small business. Which brings me to another point: Amalgamated Industries, Inc., is a potentially serious WP:NOSHARE problem. WhatamIdoing's Bait Shop, operated by the sole proprietor and no employees, is not. If there's realistically nobody there to share the account, then it's okay. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:57, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
    4. Our response:
      • Well-intentioned editors with promotional names should be gently encouraged to change names, and sent to RFC/N if necessary to obtain a name change if the community (not one or two editors) decides that it is necessary after a discussion.
      • Typical self-promoting editors with promotional names, anyone with a NOSHARE-violating name like "Microsoft's Marketing Department", and anyone with an excessively promotional name like "Vote for Joe" or "Buy Microsoft stock", should be soft blocked and encouraged to reform. In most cases, marketing folks who write promotional stuff honestly don't understand what they're doing wrong, just like many lawyers and academic researchers don't understand how to write in plain English any longer.
      • Unusually promotional editors and spammers—causes in which there is no doubt at all—should be hard blocked regardless of their names.
      • And, finally, usernames that are a violation here but okay at the editor's home wiki should be left alone. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:57, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
        I think this is where the word "blatant" comes in, in my interpretation of policy. Something like "John Reaves", alone, does not say "Hey, John Reaves, Inc, editing right here!". A trademarked word like "Fluffernutter" doesn't either (though I did not realize it was a trademark, thanks for the factoid!). In both those cases, even if I knew there was an organization by that name, I'd probably leave the user a note asking what was up, or just keep an eye on them. But something like "John Fluffernutter Widget Corporation PR" is a blatantly organizational-representing username in a way that "John Reaves" or "Fluffernutter" isn't. I'll stress again that for me the issue with most company name accounts isn't promotion so much as role accounts - I agree that "Smedley, Inc." isn't promotional, while "Vote for Smedley!" is, but "Smedley, Inc." is an account that probably represents a PR team rather than an individual user. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 04:51, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
        I was actually thinking about plain old "Smedley", as in a notable person's last name, rather than "Smedley, Inc." I agree with you that if "Smedley, Inc." is more than a tiny business, then it's a NOSHARE concern. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:44, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
        I don't see anything wrong with what amounts to COI disclosure. --Sue Rangell 22:43, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
        I agree very much with WhatamIdoing's four-point outline. Also, if you have to worry whether our policy forbids an actively-used username that another Wikipedia's policy allows, it might mean that our policy is splitting hairs in order to block people and should be changed. rspεεr (talk) 03:09, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Comments from User:NTox: I am in favor of prohibiting usernames that represent specific organizations on the grounds that it deters shared use of accounts and promotional behavior. While promotional usernames may not be inherently bad in the sense that a name like "User:Jews Must Die" certainly is, time and time again we see that users that create promotional usernames later edit with a point of view and/or admit to sharing. We are best served with a mechanism that deters some of this from the get-go, as much as we are best served not sending the mixed message that "User:ABC Company" is okay but delegating the name to the company communications department is not.
Now it has long been my opinion that the right thing for us is to be fair with people that choose these kinds of names simply because not all of them come with bad intentions. Let us inform them that their name is a problem but give them the opportunity to turn things around. I do not support those hard-line administrators that choose to hard block any account that looks promotional. If we beyond a reasonable doubt know that a username represents an organization, I say in most cases, block the account, yes, but do it according to the user's behavior. If they have predominantly edited constructively, or they have submitted just a smidgen of promotional content, soft block. If their behavior is such that you know they will be incapable of following the rules on another account, hard block. But let's be fair. NTox · talk 13:18, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with the notion that "username soft blocking" instead of hard blocking makes one significantly less hard-line. The effect on well-intentioned users is the same. The non-hard line thing to do, when in doubt, is to leave a message, and not block until they do something that would usually be blockable. rspεεr (talk) 03:09, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Comments from JohnCD: the "Mark at Alcoa" type of username should be allowed, in fact encouraged, as a way to declare interest openly while making clear that the account holder is an individual. One advantage of this is that it is not unreasonable to hope that, having been welcomed and guided as a new Wikipedian, he may feel some responsibility and loyalty to the encyclopedia as well as to his employer.
  • "Webmaster at Alcoa" should not be allowed, because it is liable to be a different person from time to time, and the loyalty factor I mentioned above is less likely.
  • All group names should be prohibited, including those of garage bands and MMPORG "crews", because of the important principle that an account represents one individual, who is personally responsible for it, and who we can have a dialogue with and educate. Whether they should be blocked or invited to change username depends on their edits.
I block a lot of promotional usernames, but I generally find them from CAT:CSD rather than UAA, so they have already made a dubious edit. My approach is much the same as Fluffernutter's - if the edits are very promotional, {{spamublock}} because we do not want them just to create a new account and carry on. If less directly promotional, e.g. if it is more like a history of the company than a PR puff piece, then use {{uw-softerblock}}, generally with something like "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a business listing directory, and is not for advertising or promotion of any kind" added after "promotional editing is not acceptable regardless of the username you choose" to drive the message home. There is a grey area between these two: the test I use is: do I think that, having read uw-softerblock and created a new account, this one will edit acceptably? If not, then spamublock. JohnCD (talk) 23:13, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Comments from User:Trevj: Company names without a qualifying individual name may understandably be used by more than one editor, which is not permitted. A company's PR dept (or indeed a specialist PR company acting for numerous clients) may in good faith sign up for a company account. A single representative may commence editing, declaring their conflict of interest, etc. If/when that person moves on to other employment, what happens to the account? Is it operated by the next postholder? Is it taken with the user to their new employer? Is it retained for personal editing? Is a rename request placed?
If well-meaning and articulate editors who commence by undertaking promotional editing can be persuaded to fully understand the issues surrounding such editing, they may subsequently be trusted with a variety of more general editing too. Editing in a neutral manner is likely to be more problematic for such editors, but that doesn't necessarily make it impossible.
A hostile approach can drive COI editors to seek to contribute under the radar instead. A clear an succinct explanation (maybe within a specific welcome template, if there's not already one) of what's OK and what's not may help to generate positive editing from such persons. Those who demonstrably violate WP:NPOV can be dealt with accordingly, being blocked as necessary.
-- Trevj (talk · contribs) 11:29, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

"Only edits are to AFC submission"[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

There is no consensus that "Only edits are to AFC submission" is a valid exemption from the username policy. Several people raise concerns that our policy on promotional usernames is not made clear during the account creation process. If there is anythign that cna be done about this (probably requiring liaison with the WMF), that is to be encouraged. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:38, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

One of the reasons that WP:UAA is often backlogged is that only a few administrators regularly patrol it. Some of those admins feel that names that might otherwise be blockable should be given more leniency if their only edits are to articles for creation. The argument is that they are trying to work within our processes even if they are using a name that is a violation. The counter argument is that spamming is spamming no matter where it is posted. Despite not being in the policy, this has become one of the standard responses to requests at UAA. Should this become an accepted practice and written into the policy, or should the policy be enforced evenly regardless of where the edits are submitted?

19:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of "only edits are to AFC submission"[edit]

  • Promotional means promotional. No ifs or buts. It does not matter if you create an article for your organization, sharing the username with that organization, in mainspace or AfC. It gets blocked as a username violation. -- Alexf(talk) 19:32, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
A user who is creating an account through AfC is actively signaling a lack of intent to become part of the community, but nevertheless wanting us to consider an article about something. They should not be held to the same standards as those who might want to join the community unless they decide to recreate the article in mainspace after the AfC is rejected.

While most of these articles are not created or accepted, some are accepted. To apply the username policy this stringently to such users, especially when there is neither a link to the username policy nor a warning about creating this kind of username on the account creation screen (not that the former would get much clickage, anyway, so we'd be in the same spot), is counter to the ethics of the project as a whole. Daniel Case (talk) 19:51, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the fact that users aren't warned against this type of username during the account creation process is a big mistake on our part. We should be making it clear that account names like this shouldn't be created, rather than waiting until they are created and then locking them. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:43, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Promotional means promotional and if the AfC submission is promotional, then I would expect the AfC reviewer to provide an explanation and issue a user warning for COI/Username. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 19:59, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Then we ought not to have AfC, which practically encourages users to create throwaway accounts like that, at all. By definition, AfC submissions cannot be promotional, they are submitted because someone thinks they might be notable enough for us (and sometimes they are), and it's better for us to offer them an avenue for that kind of article creation than have to deal with it through newpage patrol. Daniel Case (talk) 20:07, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
AfC submissions can be as promotional as any other page on Wikipedia, surely? Hence why the general criteria for speedy deletion (G11) applies to any page, not just mainspace. Bellerophon talk to me 23:40, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Nobody other than the creators and reviewers read them and they don't turn up high in searches. Thus, they aren't as effective promotion as an actual main space article would be. Which is why we delete those and only archive AfC submissions. Daniel Case (talk) 00:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • A problematic username is a problematic username, no matter whether it's editing in AfC space or article space. Users who are trying to work within our processes and just made an oops are perfectly capable of being told that they made an oops, creating a new account, and returning to working within our processes - but no matter how awesome they are, we are not obligated to let them continue to work on Wikipedia with a policy-violating username (if we let user:So&SoCompany write an article about So&So, Inc at AfC, which person at So&So is the copyright of that article attributable to? Or perhaps it's many people there, not a person. We have no way of knowing, because they're operating an apparent role account username). Again, the editing behavior will determine whether the block is soft or hard, but role account usernames should be blocked, one way or another. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:43, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Again, if you only edit an AfC submission, you're not editing something that's high-visibility. What real damage is done to the project by that?

Let's not forget that the username policy is not an end in itself but a means to an end ... making Wikipedia a safe and welcoming environment for potential new contributors and assuring that Wikipedia's article space is not used for promotional purposes. Perhaps we should agree on some goals, some sort of mission statement for the username policy even, because we need something to guide us better than anything else most of us seem to be relying on. Daniel Case (talk) 01:06, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

  • Problematic usernames should not be overlooked because they have only edited in the AfC namespace -- including usernames that are only problematic because they are promotional or imply shared use. 'Waiting' for such accounts to edit in other namespace only increases the chance the account will be forgotten about by patrollers and admins; it does not better serve the encyclopedia. Situations like this are why we have {{softerblock}}. Although we don't currently warn users about promotional usernames at account creation, there are many other issues we don't warn against at account creation, where do we stop? Bellerophon talk to me 23:15, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
See above. In my considerable experience, most accounts that don't edit within a couple of days of being created never edit at all, which is in keeping with our own research which shows that an ungodly overwhelming vast majority of created accounts never ever edit (And I can't believe they're all socks). Fears about sleepers are generally misplaced.

As for warnings ... I am all for warning people about -bot usernames, that would solve a lot more problems than it would create. Daniel Case (talk) 01:09, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

And apparently almost 70% of the accounts that do make one edit never make another. So there's a practical case for refusing to block anyone until they've made at least two edits. Two-thirds of our first-edit blocks are very likely pointless, and simply ignoring them could save us some time and energy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:01, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I was talking about accounts that only edit AfC submissions rather than account that do not edit at all... Bellerophon talk to me 19:38, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
When people come to WP in good faith, but unaware of our rules, we can go in one of two directions: we can scare them off, or we can try to persuade them to be useful contributors. Since not everyone who comes does come in good faith, we have been in the terrible habit of treating all naïve newcomers as if they had destructive intentions. Almost all PR people who come, intend to do what they think is appropriate,ev en though in fact they generally do not understand what we mean by an encyclopedia, with respect to either NPOV or notability. We need to do more than treat them politely--we need to try to convince them how to contribute constructively. When the representative of a company comes using a corporate name, banning them because of their name does not help do this--it rather convinces them we are peculiar and arbitrary. We should do in this respect as the deWP--if they come to represent a company, let them use the company name, and say so frankly. DGG ( talk ) 04:48, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
If they are using a company name, I would consider it to be disclosure. I have never understood the problem with this. --Sue Rangell 22:26, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
One problem is the possibility of imposture. In cases of controversial companies or consumer products companies, those opposed to the companies or disappointed customers may try to use the corporate name,either directly or in various permutations. This is not conjecture--most domain name disputes are basically because of this. The German WP therefore requires certification, I think through OTRS or a similar procedure, that the person using the name is in fact authorized to do so. DGG ( talk ) 00:28, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, but don't we already have a system for dealing with that in place, that we use for celebrity names, etc? --Sue Rangell 19:51, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
  • My opinion on this one is simple: by default, soft block AfC promo-name accounts. Leave a little bit of discretion for people who repeatedly show no ability to be neutral by hard blocking, and some discretion for more constructive people by warning, but by default soft block. That leaves some sensitivity for people who choose to work outside mainspace while still respecting our anti-promotion ethic. NTox · talk 17:10, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Discussion of why administrators do not patrol UAA[edit]

I don't patrol WP:UAA. I patrol a few admin backlogs including helping out at WP:AFD, WP:RFPP, CAT:CSD, WP:RFPERM and occasionally WP:AIV. But I can't ever be bothered with WP:UAA. I agree with DGG in the previous section. I've got better things to do than enforce the username policy. I can't frankly see the point in enforcing it. I leave the enforcement of the username policy up to administrators who give a damn about violations of the username policy. I'll block offensive usernames ("Jews must die", "Kill all homos" - that sort of thing), but if someone signs up with the name of their company—eh, I've got better things to do. —Tom Morris (talk) 19:59, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

If I was an admin, I'd patrol it. :) --Sue Rangell 19:53, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

I'd be interested to learn why most admins don't patrol UAA—my guess has usually been that they don't see how it really helps anything... It's certainly not the most important of policies, but I've always taken notice at how often a username can "flag" behavior before it even begins. That is, creating a username is the first thing a person does on an account. If they create one called "User:Jews Must Die" as mentioned above, you can block that account and prevent a slew of libel and/or vandalism before it even begins. If they create one called "User:ABC Company", you can inform them of our neutrality rules and bookmark their contributions, often preventing promotional behavior before or shortly after it begins. Keeping an eye on the bigger picture. That's where I see the value and why I try to keep active with username issues, especially as the area's understaffed. NTox · talk 22:59, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't generally patrol UAA because patrolling CSD finds me more than enough promotional usernames to keep me busy, and those are ones that have already made a problematic edit. JohnCD (talk) 23:30, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, when the time comes, I plan to patrol UAA. :) --Sue Rangell 04:12, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

I stopped patrolling UAA because I felt admins were being far too heavy handed there with promotional accounts. People see a name of a company in a username, panic, and block it with prejudice, which is not always the right or necessary action. I realise that editing on behalf of a whole company is not allowed and I realise why, but newbies don't, so they might feel choosing the username User:BlahBlahCompany is transparent if they intend to fix an error in the article on BlahBlahCompany. When you create a new account at Wikipedia, there's nothing explicitly telling you "don't choose the following usernames", and there probably should be. Instead, people who unknowingly violate these rules are insta-hardblocked at UAA and most likely scared away from the project, and yes, their contributions may have been useful. I can't agree with that process. UAA was designed to deal with blatant violations of the username policy which need to be immediately blocked, which I still block when I see them (per NTox), but I think the UAA process is a net negative to Wikipedia. - filelakeshoe (t / c) 12:40, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

There used to be text on the create account page that advised users of the policy and gave a brief overview of what was not allowed - the "powers that be" decided in their infinite wisdom to blank that data - but it can still be seen in the old version -  Ronhjones  (Talk) 20:07, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

I think that many administrators recognize the ongoing shrinking of the Wikipedia community, and therefore avoid participating in "goaltending" activities like UAA. At best UAA is a waste of time compared to other things an admin could be doing; at worst it actively contributes to turning away new users. You can try to participate in UAA for the purpose of making it less bad for Wikipedia, but really, it's hard to change a bad policy by enforcing it. rspεεr (talk) 05:49, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Names with no edits[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

This one's a bit more muddled. I'd say that Daniel's model sums it up best, and individual admins differ on exact practice and intepretation, which is more-or-less what happens anyway. Further discussion might not hurt. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 20:44, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

A curious fact on Wikipedia is that every day numerous accounts are created that are never actually used. Some of the names of these accounts would certainly be blocked if they were used. Is there ever a situation wherein it is appropriate to block a username that has not made a single edit? Does it matter what the nature of the violation is? What if they were warned by an edit filter and did not proceed with making the offending edit?

19:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of names with no edits[edit]

I was recently involved in a disagreement with a username patroller over the merits of blocking accounts with no edits tied to their names. My position is that in most cases, it makes little sense to block an account with a promotional or marginally offensive username until and unless it has been used. In most cases, allowing the names to fall through the cracks and slide into obscurity is better than posting it all over noticeboards, logs, and watchlists, which is what happens when an account is blocked. I used to be quite active at UAA, and I'm trying to reacquaint myself with the process, and in my experience, quite a bit of the daily backlog stems from usernames being reported with no contributions. If anything is to be changed, I'd love to see more emphasis within the relevant policies on ensuring UAA reports are truly necessary; either the accounts have edited and shown disregard for the problem, or the name is truly so obnoxious that it would be reasonable to block on-sight. My initial thoughts. – Juliancolton | Talk 19:28, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Just FYI, current procedural at UAA in almost all cases is to reply with Wait until the user edits. and then transfer the report to holding for a week. If they have not edited in that week the report is removed without action. Exceptions are names with BLP issues, obvious racial slurs, or other types of attack names. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:32, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • To me, if the username is a vio, I block. Edits or not, group names or implied shared accounts are a vio. If they are not that blatant, a discussion with the user should be started and wait for 7 days at CAT:UAA for final resolution. Goes without saying there is an immediate block for hate or profanity names. -- Alexf(talk) 19:35, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • If a name is blatantly offensive and inappropriate, I would preemptively hard block. If it were simply a promo name, I would do nothing until the user edits. They might begin to edit neutrally occasioning only a softerblock. If they go on to pepper the place with linkspam, they get hardblocked. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 19:55, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • My position mirrors that of Alexf on this. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:45, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • It depends:
    • Names I don't block on sight:
      • Corporate-sounding names with no edits since I assume good faith and do not consider that name itself to be sufficiently promotional to block. It may be evidence of intent to do so, but until they actually do so (as, indeed, they do in about 85% of my username blocks) they're entitled to good faith because things may not be what they seem.

        Consider User:Bronx Discount Liquor—by some interpretations of the username policy here, a guy who purposely chose a name that, while it sounded like a business was not an actual business he could find evidence of existing, might well have been blocked before making a single edit. And I kept that from happening, and look at what's happened since—two barnstars, and a productive member of the community.

        The contrary tale, which some of you have heard or read before, is User:Bravogolfhotel, who I blocked briefly in my earlier days as an admin ("The man whose authority is recent is always stern" – Aeschylus) because, well, whoever reported the name to UAA found via Google that there really was a Bravo Golf Hotel in the Phillippines, so ergo (NATO phonetic alphabet notwithstanding) they were here to promote it.

        People should have the freedom to use corporate or corporate-sounding names without any connection to said entities, or even any real entities, as a means of self-expression without living in fear of trigger-happy administrators.

      • Corporate-sounding usernames that reflect certain naming trends from elsewhere on the Internet. Years ago, as YouTube was booming, we started getting a lot of "X Studios" or "Y Productions" names that, it often turned out, were just YouTubers using the same impressive-sounding names they'd made up for their accounts there.

        Likewise, with Twitter on the rise, we've seen a lot of "-official" usernames, from the similar naming trend on that site where people would imitate celebrities trying to distinguish themselves from their imitators.

      • Names that are a generic for the product or service being promoted. Remember that the user can still be blocked for their actual promotional editing, if it continues.
      • Usernames that might be offensive but where you have to work to be offended (exception being certain ones that use slurs or profanity in foreign languages, like those Hindi names (or those in any Indian language or the Indic alphabet, for that matter) which use "Chode" or some variant thereof. As I have said, if it has to be explained it's usually not offensive enough to warrant a block on sight. A suggestion that they change it, yes, but not a block.
      • -Bot usernames that have a numeric suffix far too high to be confused with an actual bot, especially when we have no actual bots by that name and none that have reached that number of versions.
      • -Bot usernames that haven't edited yet, so we don't know whether they're a bot or a human. That's what {{uw-botun}} is for.
    • Names I do block on sight:
      • Corporate-sounding usernames that imply clear role use for promotional purposes, such as "Consolidated Amalgamated Widget Company Marketing and Communications Department". Or PR firms, even if they don't use their name in their edits. I don't think there should be much argument there.
      • URLs as usernames, when there's an actual site and it's not just someone identifying as a German, Jordanian, or even putting a dot into the middle of their name (I would think a hypothetical is not promoting something in downtown Amman). Even User:Rspeer, a critic of overly rigid username policy enforcement back in the day, was unambiguous in calling these blockable on (ahem) sight since they invite traffic to the website in question by their very existence.
        • (Wow, I love the fact that Wikipedia notifies you when you're mentioned.) Be careful not to generalize that too much. I remember people having the knee-jerk reaction to "block the URL spammer!" when it's just someone using their personal domain name as an Internet pseudonym. Please just use your common sense. You should be able to recognize a real spammer when you see one. rspεεr (talk) 05:54, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
      • Blatantly offensive ones. I'm sorry, Beeblebrox, "Horneybeaver" was in this category. The point is not so much that they might never edit, it's that their very creation amounts to vandalism, and names like that may also be part of organized efforts (sometimes from our friends at 4chan's /b/, although they've left us alone for a long time AFAICT) to see what they can get away with. So, blocking it (I hate to say this but it's true) sends a message. Daniel Case (talk) 01:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I think that Daniel's got it just about right. Patience when that isn't immediately harmful, and action when it might be. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:07, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! If you or anybody wants to adapt this into a guide to enforcing policy, please, go ahead! Daniel Case (talk) 03:01, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
  • A few user names (generally those designed to be insulting) are blatant enough to be blocked on sight. Most names are impossible to know for sure unless we can see some edits. I think that, in general, the rule is usually correct, though. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 13:00, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Use of {{coiq}} on soft-blocked users[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Consensus is quite clearly that users soft-blocked for username issues should not have to answer further questions as a prerequisite to unblocking after the username issue has been addressed. The suggestion of incorporating {{coiq}} into the unblock template is an excellent idea, and {{coiq}} should be deprecated according to the consensus here. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:16, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Often times users who have chosen a promotional username but not acted abusively are "soft" blocked. This blocks the current name but allows them the choice to either register a new account or put a suggested new name in an unblock request. The template that is usually used to inform them of these options is {{softerblock}}. What often happens in the latter case is that a reviewing admin will add the following template to their page:

Here are a few key questions:

You are currently blocked because your username appears directly related to a company, group or product that you have been promoting, contrary to the username policy. Changing the username will not allow you to violate the three important principles above.

They will then refuse to unblock unless they get what they consider to be satisfactory answers to these questions. Given that the blocking template already informed them that promotional editing is not permissible regardless of what names they use and they are explicitly allowed to simply create a new account without even requesting unblock, is this an appropriate course of action, or is it needlessly blocking an otherwise acceptable unblock request?

19:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of use of {{coiq}} on soft-blocked users[edit]

  • The other issues mentioned here are all things that seem to have bothered other users at some point. This one is something that bothers me. I am not sure if anyone else sees it as a problem, but I do. I consider every decision I make when reviewing username issues and select the option I think is best. To see my soft block basically retroactively transformed to a hard block when the user has actually done everything that was initially asked of them is frustrating, and I believe it needlessly makes users wait for unblock when they could have just started a new account but would prefer to retain attribution for their previous edits. They are informed of COI and spamming issues in the block notice. We assume in every other situation that a user has read and understood such notices, but on this case they are subject to additional interrogation before being permitted to change their name. It seems unfair and needlessly bureaucratic to me. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:28, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with BBrox on this one. -- Alexf(talk) 19:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Perhaps we should put this in the unblock template, because you have a point about sort of making users jump through hoops, but the questions themselves are sound. Just saying "Do you understand conflict of interest?" and getting "yes" isn't enough. We don't unblock sockpuppets, edit warriors or copyright violators for demonstrating such simplistic understanding of the policy they fell afoul of. Conflict of interest policies vary from organization to organization, from website to website; users blocked for a username that implies COI need to show that they understand our policy and our expectations of them specifically. Daniel Case (talk) 19:57, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. -- Alexf(talk) 20:03, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The way I see it, the block tells them they absolutely cannot use a promotional username, and the information in the block notice serves as a warning about promotional editing. So, I see that as being the same as normal warning such as we give for vandalism. If they have been really obnoxious on their spamming, they get the hard block and are told that not only can they not use the name but their editing has been sufficiently disruptive that it is an equal reason for their block, as opposed to a secondary reason as is the case in a soft block. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:39, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The questions asked are phrased as yes/no questions. If "yes" or "no" is not a good enough answer, then you need to write different questions. If you think back to school days, I'm sure you would have been quite upset if the teacher asked, "Do some chemicals react in solution?", and your answer of "Yes" was marked wrong because you didn't magically know that the teacher wanted an essay response. If you want an essay, then you need to directly ask for one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:15, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Because I have done so many username blocks I usually don't review them myself, but there are so many old unblock requests that I have been reviewing them today in order to reduce the backlog, and ?What I am finding is that this approach, which I strongly disagree with, is being used in almost every single case of a soft block. I don't know if the reviewing admins see themselves as overturning another admin's decision, but that is in fact exactly what they are doing by not accepting the blocked user good-faith response to the block notice.Case in point:User talk:Imsindia1. This user was given ac block notice that says Your username is the only reason for this block just like that, in bold. Now I almost never use this particualr notice myself, but it is the one chosen in this case. Even after choosing a new name and giving answers to the questions the user was still not unblocked even thought hey were told their username was the only issue and they were blocked back in October. This is a disgrace. Beeblebrox (talk) 19:57, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
On the other hand, I think I can see a way to remedy the situation. What if we changed coiq so that instead of three yes-or-no questions they were rephrased as statements, and the template would then be used to accept unblock requests if the user has agreed to change their name. In that way we avoid retroactively hardening another admins block without a real cause but we still send a clear message that spamming is not tolerated. Beeblebrox (talk) 21:16, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
As the designer of the coiq template, I have used it in 2 different situations: 1) as a set series of questions to confirm the editor's understanding, and 2) as an actual unblock decline reason (see any edit summary of "decline with coiq"). Rather than modify coiq, I am going to copy the contents to {{coia}} (short for COI-Accept) where the appropriate wording can be jiggled. When used, it effectively becomes unblock restrictions. ES&L 11:41, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I completely agree that this practice is unacceptable for soft blocks. The entire purpose of soft blocking is to allow a user to continue editing, but on a different username. It is unfair of us to explain such a thing and then to immediately tell them they are blocked from editing completely because they didn't answer those questions correctly. The coiq template as currently formulated should only be used for hard blocks. NTox · talk 07:03, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Do you think that "soft blocks" accomplish any purpose at all? "Soft blocks" in this sense are an invention of UAA. They are unrelated to the "soft blocks" described at Wikipedia:Blocking policy; that page would just call them "indefinite blocks". They're a peculiar penalty whose motivation I've never understood, except from the point of view that UAA patrollers have put themselves in a position where they see a name and feel like they have to do something, no matter how nonsensical that thing is.
A user who might become a good Wikipedia contributor is almost certainly not going to persist after being blocked; there are so many other Web sites out there. A user who's intent on continuing to edit Wikipedia so they can spam or push a point will be glad you gave them a way out. UAA's "soft blocks" are a mechanism for throwing out babies and saving bathwater, and if we're finally discussing changing the username enforcement policy, I would highly recommend doing away with them. rspεεr (talk) 05:28, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Better notification[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

There's not much input here, but what there is is in favour of more information for users before they register their account. I suggest further discussion to establish what new users need to be told upon signing up, and then liaising with the WMF. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:19, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Should we implement some new form of notification that users will see when creating an account in the hope that it will reduce the number of violations? If so, what should it be?

Discussion of better notification[edit]

  • Very definitely; this is why we have those discussions. However, I'm open to discussing this contrary argument:
No, because this serves as a sort of filter in that anyone who opens an account with a name that suggests promotional intent makes it easier for us to find them and deal with them. If you let people know when they create an account what names we won't accept (other than, say, obvious things like foul language, ethnic slurs and the -bot rule), spammers will just get more clever and our jobs keeping them down will be ten times as hard. Most people truly interested in becoming part of the community don't come up with usernames that sound like business interests.

My practices in username enforcement are, if you will, sort of a compromise reflecting these extremes. Daniel Case (talk) 20:03, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Good point! --Sue Rangell 22:23, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Somewhat agree with Daniel Case on this. Also, I'm not in favour of putting ugly warnings on the sign up page. There are many ways in which a new username might be unacceptable, not just promotion or ISU. There is already a link to the username policy, I'd be fine with being re-titled or just made more obvious but let's not have ungainly warnings on the sign up page. Bellerophon talk to me 23:34, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • What about something like Usernames may not be promotional in nature and must adhere to our other policies? The page currently has a piped link to the policy via the text "help me choose". Now who has ever need help choosing a username at a website? I highly doubt anyone bothers clicking that link. John Reaves 23:43, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I was think of something a bit more general, such as: "Usernames must only represent an individual user and conform to Wikipedia's username policy. Click here to find out more." If users need help choosing a username it's to find one that isn't taken, if anything. Bellerophon talk to me 23:54, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
  • @John Reaves: The trouble with something like "Usernames may not be promotional in nature" is that in the world at large, it's not considered promotional to have an account, called, say, "Alcoa." "Alcoa is the best!," yes. But with just a company name, it's somewhat unintuitive to non-Wikipedians that that would be considered promotional. I think we'd get more use out of something along the lines of what Bellerophon suggests, stressing that they need to represent a single person, not an organizational entity. I don't know how useful it is to expect people to clickthrough to the policy itself to learn other username restrictions - I tend to think that the more places people are expected to click through to, the less they will think it's important to do so, so maybe stressing that the clickthrough to that particular policy will contain stuff they actually need to know is worthwhile. Maybe something like "Click here to learn the other rules that govern what types of usernames are ok"? That's horribly clumsy, but what I'm aiming for is something that sounds a bit less "click here for stuff you don't care about and won't read anyway!" and a bit more "this is actually information you will need to know before you try to pick a username". For that matter, why does the sign-up page not contain the entirety of the operative points of username policy? Surely when you're creating a username is exactly the time you'll care about that most... A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 00:13, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Yes, I think Bellerophon's suggestion is better as well, much less institutional wording. Maybe we should say "person" given the whole corporations are people approach to business and law that is prevalent. I fear that putting the policy on the landing page would discourage people from signing up, plus I like how simple it is. I'd definitely like to see some drafts if we move in this direction. John Reaves 00:35, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
What we also need is a Plain and Simple Guide to the Username Policy page, much like the Plain and Simple Conflict of Interest Guide that we also have, and is a much better link to send new users to rather than the "official" COI page. Daniel Case (talk) 01:14, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think that's a good idea. Problem is getting people to click on it and read it. In my experience, many users will not even read the simplest of instructions even if they are staring them in the face. (We ghet this all the time for example at WP:PERM - it beats me how they expect to be granted advanced rights if they can't even read how to make their application for them. perhaps something like Please click [[here]] before finally deciding on your username. But would they even do that? Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 04:31, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. I have seen that in real life ... people coming into a movie at college didn't notice the sign we'd taped on the ticket window at eye level telling people we'd changed the movie for that night, so we realized we had to actually point it out to them. Or, as a friend of mine once put it, the best place to keep a secret about a car is the owner's manual. Daniel Case (talk) 15:54, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Some of the people who work the Username beat are so terse as to be obnoxious. "Blocked for obvious reasons" is the ultra-bitey phrase frequently used. "Kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out" is the underlying attitude. Is there any wonder why our editing ranks are falling? The policy needs to be explained to violators so that they might re-register with a new name that meets guidelines. Carrite (talk) 07:21, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
While I agree that it encourages biteyness, I also know from experience that many of the editors we block for promotional usernames are utterly uninterested in doing anything here but promoting their companies/orgs/selves. Really, the best thing we can do is be nice to them. Daniel Case (talk) 15:54, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
This is the underlying attitude — they have a promotional or otherwise technically unsuitable username, so they are just here to promote their product or company, so to hell with them. And that just might be true for 9 out of 10. Which means that 1 out of 10 of these prospective contributors are being slaughtered needlessly. Moreover, the work of at least part of the 9 of 10 is apt to have been beneficial to the encyclopedia. Carrite (talk) 18:31, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think soft blocking a name and asking someone to pick a new one is in any way analogous to "slaughtering" and that such overblown hyperbole never helps a discussion move forward. Beeblebrox (talk) 21:40, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
That's the kind of mindset that perpetuates Wikipedia's crippling aversion to new users. Blocking is harsh, and there's nothing wrong with describing it for what it is. Try googling for "soft blocking" sometime, and you'll find that Wikipedia is basically the only website that uses that peculiar euphemism. (The term used by a couple of Flickr users means something different.) rspεεr (talk) 06:01, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
"There's nothing wrong with describing it for what it is" only makes sense if you concede that users who are blocked die as a result. As far as I know no Wikipedia username block has ever killed anyone. Beeblebrox (talk) 00:20, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
...what? I think your interpretation of a word used metaphorically has gone a bit far. rspεεr (talk) 05:56, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment by JohnCD: I support the "contrary argument" that Daniel Case states well. When I was new and innocent, I once asked why we do not warn people about unacceptable usernames, and was rather shocked to be told it was a good way of catching spammers. Now that I am old and cynical, I absolutely agree with that.
Warning new users about unacceptable usernames just means they will choose less obvious ones and carry on spamming. The real trouble is that so many new users are not here to build an encyclopedia at all: they are here because they think that Wikipedia is (a) a free advertising noticeboard for their company, or (b) a social-networking site for them to write about themselves. There is no reason why they should not think that, because we do nothing to tell them otherwise, until after they have joined and submitted an unacceptable article and seen it deleted and maybe themselves blocked.
Contrary to what Bellerophon says above, I think we absolutely do want "ungainly warnings on the sign up page." An immense amount of frustration and wasted effort would be saved if the sign-up screen said something like:

"Wikipedia is a project to build an encyclopedia. If you would like to help with that, you are very welcome.

Wikipedia is not a place for you to tell the world about yourself, your company, your band or anything you are closely associated with. If that is what you are here for, this is not the site for you."

The "tell the world" wording is important: it's no good saying "no promotion", because the typical spammer denies indignantly that what he is doing is promotion.
I greatly doubt whether the WMF would allow anything like that, but if only half those it is aimed at took any notice, the NPP and deleting-admin workload would be very much reduced, and we might in time come to adopt a less defensive attitude to good-faith newbies. JohnCD (talk) 23:28, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
I would say that we had a chance to add our own text to the signup page, and we totally blew it. Our old signup page was cluttered full of policy and scary stuff that probably helped to deter many innocent newbies, but did nothing to stop determined promoters/spammers. At the moment, there is no interface message available to add any additional text to the signup page. — This, that and the other (talk) 01:49, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Misleading usernames[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Insufficient input to establish a consensus. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:21, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

WP:USERNAME#Misleading usernames states:

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 § Notes 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).

16:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

First sentence[edit]

Should the first sentence be changed in the following manner:

The following types of username are not permitted because they may be misleading in a way that disrupts could disrupt the project:

16:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of the first sentence[edit]

I support this change because "disrupts" seems to wrongly imply that disruption needs to be demonstrable as having happened by its verb tense whereas "could disrupt" seems to more correctly identify the naming restriction as a perfunctory measure, in Wikipedia's best interest, with nothing against the editor at all.—John Cline (talk) 16:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Additional bullet[edit]

Should the examples be expanded to include a bullet covering:

  • Usernames that exactly match the article's title on a page the identically named user has edited.

16:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of an additional bullet[edit]

I support the additional bullet because I believe a novice editor of good faith could believe such an account was officially sanctioned unto the identically named article to provide stability and maintenance of the page. I have seen these kinds of usernames, editing several times; always believing it should be disallowed

Most recently, this example came to my attention, and; these contributions show a clear editing purpose that I think we are better off mitigating in policy.

I started to discuss this with the user but because it requires the extrapolation of policy to demonstrate a disruptive potential, I decided not to save it, and instead to seek the advice of others—ending up here.—John Cline (talk) 16:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Don't refer to literal substrings in the policy[edit]

As we know, some UAA reporters are trigger-happy. If you tell them that there's a rule against:

  • 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.

then some number of them will get the idea that they can "contribute" to Wikipedia by reporting each and every name that contains those substrings, or writing a lazy bot that does so with no sanity checks. It's easy to stop reading before the word "if", or to misread it as "as", or to just not care and assume the conditional is someone else's job to sort out.

The username policy should not be written in a way that implies such strict mechanical enforcement is at all reasonable, so it should not put such a mechanical rule in such a prominent place, even though a more careful reading shows that it's in a conditional statement. This rule should be rewritten to simply say:

  • Usernames that give the incorrect impression that the account may be officially affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its projects.

This goes for other rules mentioning substrings as well. I suggest the one about access levels be changed to:

  • Usernames that give the impression that the account has permissions which it does not have, by implying that the user holds a privileged role such as administrator, or is in general some kind of sysop or moderator.

rspεεr (talk) 09:32, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

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.