|An earlier version of this page was proposed as a policy or guideline but did not gain consensus.|
Wikipedia is open to editing by users of any age, providing that they conduct themselves in accordance with the purposes of the encyclopedia project and the standards of the Wikipedia community. This raises several issues, two of which are:
- Appropriateness of content: As stated in its general content disclaimer, Wikipedia contains images and text that some users find offensive. Wikipedia is not censored, either for the protection of children or anyone else. Parents of minors may wish to prohibit their children from using Wikipedia, or they may wish to limit, restrict or monitor that use, in keeping with their own family standards. While there have been occasional proposals to provide "content warnings" for specific images and articles, the difficulties of determining the appropriate use of such disclaimers have prevented the adoption of any such system.
- Disclosure of information: Wikipedia does not ask its users (editors) to state their age or any other personal identifying information, either upon registration or at any other time. However, as noted at Wikipedia:User pages, some users include personal identifying information on their user page, "possibly including contact information (email, instant messaging, etc), a photograph, their real name, their location, information about their areas of expertise and interest, likes and dislikes, homepages, and so forth. (NB: If you are concerned with privacy, you may not want to emulate this.)" Sometimes, a user may also disclose some personal identifying information other than on their user page, such as on a discussion page. This disclosure raises special concerns in terms of Wikipedia's younger users, particularly when the user identifies himself or herself as being a child. Unfortunately, some younger users have occasionally confused Wikipedia with one of the popular "social networking" sites, and this has resulted in the disclosure of certain information as well as other conduct that is inappropriate for the project of building an encyclopedia.
In order to balance the privacy interests of our younger users with their ability to use Wikipedia (when so permitted by their parents or guardians), the following measures are suggested:
- No editor who identifies themselves (or has in the past identified themselves) as being a child should post any personal identifying information about themselves.
- "Personal identifying information", for purposes of this suggestion, includes:
- Real last name (surname)
- Telephone number
- Home address
- E-mail address and IM screen name (their inclusion here is the subject of heated debate)
- Date of birth
- School name
- Photographs that include any of this information
- A user who is a child should not post a photograph of himself or herself on Wikipedia. If such a photo is or has been posted, and the photo clearly depicts a person who is a child, the user should be considered a self-identified child regardless of whether he or she has actually specified his or her age.
- Similarly, a user who posts information about his or her grade level in school, or name or characteristics of that school or other activities, that indicate that the user is a child, may be considered a child regardless of whether he or she has actually specified his or her age.
- In keeping with the above principle, no self-identified child should edit under a user name that contains their last name (or surname).
- No editor (of any age) should post personal identifying information about a self-identified child, nor should any user seek to elicit any personal information from any self-identified child.
See Wikipedia:Protecting children's privacy for a previous attempt at addressing this subject that did not gain consensus.
- Editors of all ages who edit constructively and within the bounds of policy are encouraged to continue to edit Wikipedia.
- It should be remembered that someone who identifies himself or herself as being a child may not necessarily be a child. Self-identified children could be children, adult predators, trolls, adult privacy-watchers testing our policies, or law enforcement personnel.
- The above definition of "personal identifying information" is intended to include all information that a reader could use to discover the identity and real world location of a child.
- Without other information, a first name is not considered personal identifying information.
- Similarly, without other information, a general location (e.g. Chicago, Illinois or Liverpool) is not considered personal identifying information.