Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry

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It seems kind of messed up to me[edit]

It seems messed up to me that if someone is banned (probably for a good reason, but maybe not) and they make another account to talk to someone about why they were banned and try to resolve it, that they can then get perma-banned basically for wanting to resolve the supposed issue because they made another account. Basically, "BAM! you are now banned, and if you try to find out why or talk to someone about it, you are perma-banned, so there!" (talk) 04:27, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

WP:Block is not the same thing as WP:Ban. Flyer22 (talk) 05:07, 20 June 2015 (UTC)
@ If somebody is banned/blocked, he may still request to be unblocked on his/her user talk page, or he can send an e-mail to the Wikipedia:Unblock Ticket Request System. There is no reason to create another account. Vanjagenije (talk) 21:09, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

I agree, there should be no reason to create a second account for any reason. Allowing the creation of a second account serves no valid purpose.Jurisdicta (talk) 02:55, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

New accounts to complain about someone[edit]

I see fairly often that someone makes a brand new account or logs out in order to hide their identity so that they can make some sort of report about someone else or just say something negative about them.

Pretty much universally the community complains how doing so evades scrutiny and hides if there may be an ulterior motive or bias in the user, often it is pointed out that this is a cowardly action.

I propose that we add the following to Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry#Inappropriate_uses_of_alternative_accounts:

  • Making reports on another user or criticizing them: All users are welcome to draw attention to the negative behaviour of other users. On Wikipedia when someone makes a report their behaviour is also scrutinized, and if frivolous reports are made as part of an ongoing pattern this can be disruptive. Logging out or using an alternate account to make such reports evades that scrutiny and is not an acceptable use of an alternate account.

In my opinion this addition to the policy would be descriptive of our already existing practices and not constitute a change in enforcement, but rather describe what we already do better.

Note like all of our "alternate account" provisions this will not effect users who are simply new or edit as an IP unless there is an indication that it is an alternate account.

I am happy to have the wording improved. I am also open the comments, suggestions, criticisms, or clever jokes. Chillum 22:40, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I rather doubt making a report is possible without editing project space, which is prohibited for undisclosed alternate accounts already. Huon (talk) 22:42, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I have gotten clearly alternate accounts in my user talk page asking for admin action against users for this and that on several occasions. Chillum 22:45, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
@Chillum: Isn't that already covered with WP:SCRUTINY? I don't think we need separate rule for every simple kind of scrutiny avoiding. Vanjagenije (talk) 08:42, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
I felt it would better serve users if our current practice was better documented. A lot of people who log out to make a report are under the impression that this is okay, the reality is they are more often blocked for as you say evading scrutiny. The problem is not that we don't have a rule to enforce, we do. The problem is that many people read this policy and seem to think that this is okay. I think the policy should be more descriptive of our current practices.
That said I am sensitive to concerns about policy creep. Chillum 15:16, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
@Chillum: Then, maybe it should be added to WP:SCRUTINY to make it clear, and not as a separate rule? Vanjagenije (talk) 21:08, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
This makes sense. Something like "Logging out or using an alternate account to make a complaint against another editor can be seen as evading scrutiny"? This is a good idea because rather than making a new "rule" it describes a current practice based on long standing rules. Chillum 21:39, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
I agree with this last proposal. Vanjagenije (talk) 14:59, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
Or "will likely be seen as evading scrutiny.", just a bit stronger but I think more accurate. Either is fine. Dennis Brown - 15:19, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
I don't see how people could read the existing "Avoiding scrutiny" and "Editing logged out to mislead" bullet points and think that "log[ging] out in order to hide their identity so that they can make some sort of report about someone else or just say something negative about them" is okay. They surely know it's inappropriate if they read those bullet points. That is, unless they think that the complaint part is permitted by WP:SOCK#LEGIT in some way. Flyer22 (talk) 02:26, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
See what the Privacy part of WP:SOCK#LEGIT states; the editor might be complaining about someone disruptively editing an area that the editor doesn't want tied to their main account. Flyer22 (talk) 02:33, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Clarify the rule about socking in project space[edit]


Consensus is strongly against both adding legitimacy to some forms of sockpuppetry and this proposal. Esquivalience t 14:22, 30 September 2015 (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.

The rule on using alternative accounts in project space currently says [u]ndisclosed alternative accounts are not to be used in discussions internal to the project. I'd like to insert the word "disruptively" to clarify the sort of use that isn't allowed, so that the full rule would say that [u]ndisclosed alternative accounts are not to be used disruptively in discussions internal to the project. The arbcom case that this bullet point cites specifically mentions sockpuppets instead of "undisclosed alternative accounts", although the latter wording was introduced a while ago to remove a circular definition. This change would make the policy inapplicable to a situation in which an editor uses a legitimate undisclosed alternative account (say, one made for privacy reasons) to participate in an internal discussion. APerson (talk!) 02:04, 20 September 2015 (UTC)


  • Support as proposer. APerson (talk!) 02:04, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, as the current language works fine. GregJackP Boomer! 03:35, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • The cited arbitration case appears to use the word "sockpuppet" to refer to alternative accounts in general, legitimate or otherwise, i.e. "The use of sockpuppet accounts, while not generally forbidden, is discouraged." They go on to clarify that it is the abuse of "sockpuppet accounts" that is prohibited. This makes me inclined to think that the 2007 Arbitration Committee originally meant that undisclosed alternative accounts, regardless of legitimacy, really should be prohibited from participating in internal discussions. Note that the restriction as it currently stands only applies to discussions that are about Wikipedia. The privacy clause in WP:SOCK#LEGIT regards the need for privacy in controversial article topics. Has there been a demonstrated need for a privacy or other undisclosed alt account in discussions exclusively about Wikipedia? Mz7 (talk) 03:46, 20 September 2015 (UTC), revised 05:35, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support.  I don't see any problem in allowing an editor to use an anternative account (disclosed or undisclosed) to participate in a discussion, including discussions exclusively about Wikipedia.  To be extra thorough, perhaps instead of inserting just the word "disruptively," we could insert the words "disruptively and/or deceptively."  I think that would cover all illegitimate uses while allowing legitimate uses (including any not yet anticipated).
    Richard27182 (talk) 05:11, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Mz7. Any editor refusing to use their main account (the one they are usually recognized by) to comment in a WP:ArbCom case or similar, and instead insists on being unrecognizable, really shouldn't be commenting in that WP:ArbCom case or similar. It certainly annoys me when I see "new editors" popping up at an WP:ArbCom case, and clearly non-WP:Newbies commenting as IPs on the talk pages of WP:ArbCom cases. I am not stating that I am against WP:SOCK#LEGIT; like Mz7 notes, that's a different matter. Flyer22 (talk) 07:44, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support The current wording may be used to harass legitimate encyclopedic activity, contrary to WP:AGF and WP:BURO. Andrew D. (talk) 07:51, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I would support "disruptively or deceptively", per Richard27182, to make clear that sockish votestacking is not allowed.  Sandstein  08:55, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I would prefer to know who has been influencing policies and guidelines, even if it's just through one's usual wiki-identity. Per Flyer22, if you're not willing to be recognised and stand by your comments, then don't comment. Your comment is not required. -- zzuuzz (talk) 09:25, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. First of all, if we add "disruptively" to the sentence, than we should remove the sentence altogether. Using multiple accounts disruptively is prohibited in all discussions, not just those "internal to the project", so by adding "disruptively", the sentence becomes redundant. But I don't think we should add "disruptively" or remove the sentence. That sentence has a specific purpose: internal discussions are very important for the functioning of Wikipedia, so we should know who is commenting. Actually, I don't see APerson giving any reason to add the word "disruptively". He presents the current situation as being a mistake or inconsistency, but I don't think so. I think the current wording has a specific intended meaning, and I see no rationale for changing it. Vanjagenije (talk) 19:45, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Vanjagenije. Inserting "disruptively" would effectively make the sentence redundant, as disruptive abuse of multiple accounts is already prohibited everywhere. I am all for undisclosed privacy accounts when it is necessary for editors to contribute positively in controversial article topics, but discussions which are solely about Wikipedia and its administration—such as proposals to change policies/procedures (like this one), proposals for new features, and user conduct disputes—do require transparency. I will acknowledge that user conduct disputes in particular do have the potential to require privacy (such as in cases of severe harassment/outing), but in such cases, undisclosed alternative accounts are not the appropriate solution—we have the Arbitration Committee exactly for this purpose. Mz7 (talk) 01:57, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose If someone has a legitimate privacy concern, or is productively engaging in a conversation about an article topic they’d prefer not to be linked to a main account, then that’s fine. However, I really do not think we should give editors carte blanche range to create secret throwaway accounts so their main accounts don’t undergo scrutiny (which is exactly what is going to happen if this policy change passes). If you want to engage in a conversation about Wikipedia policy, you should do so openly without the façade of a false account. Spirit of Eagle (talk) 05:43, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose largely per Vanjagenije and Mz7. This looks like change for the sake of change; what is the actual benefit of this proposal? How is Wikipedia improved by allowing anonymous discussion of its policies? Until there's a clear and satisfactory answer to these questions, I see no reason to amend the wording. Yunshui  11:54, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose We have no way of telling if a person is being disruptive if they are evading scrutiny. They may be evading a ban, they may be double voting, they may be acting as a straw man to discredit an opposing point of view. As long as they are hiding their identity we cannot tell. The policy works well as written, if anything it should be more strict. HighInBC (was Chillum) 15:08, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support per Andrew D. As written this excludes a lot of innocuous things that probably happen anyway, depending on how narrowly you define "internal to the project". For example, if you don't want to tell the world where you live and create a sock for local-interest topics, a strict reading of the policy suggests you can't join Wikiproject Nowheresville, vote in related AfDs, discuss relevant special notability criteria, nominate the Nowheresville article for FAC, or support an RfA for a frequent collaborator on Nowheresville articles under the name they know you by. Very strictly, it even seems to prohibit established pseudonymous users from creating unlinked real-name accounts for tasks related to their real-life activities, like educational projects. That kind of constraint obviously gives no benefit to the encyclopedia and encourages amateur internet detectives to harass people doing productive work. Calling someone a sock is really toxic if you're wrong and potentially dangerous if you're right but there was a good reason for it. Opabinia regalis (talk) 20:21, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
My reading of the policy, and what I believe is the spirit of the policy, is that "internal discussions" refers to discussions which solely deal with Wikipedia's internal administration (i.e. its policies and procedures). The spirit of the policy, in other words, does not apply to discussions directly involving article content. Deletion discussions, WikiProjects, FAC, DYK, GAN—these all directly deal with article content and thus aren't "internal" discussions; they're content discussions. The current title of the clause, "Editing project space", is admittedly misleading, as not everything in project space deals solely with things "internal to the project". I would support a change to the title to perhaps "Internal discussions" and potentially a clarification of what "internal discussions" consists of, but adding "disruptively", as Vanjagenije notes, would effectively repeal the policy. Mz7 (talk) 21:40, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I know the "intent" is for more administrative discussions, but that's not a robust or stable or consistent distinction, nor does it really exist in any other policy, so you have to consider the full range of potential applications. All of Wikipedia's internal administration is ultimately about content, even when there are many layers of abstraction in between. Opabinia regalis (talk) 22:46, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm against creating a privacy loophole for socking. Chris Troutman (talk) 11:56, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
Chris troutman, because of your oppose vote, I'm interested to know what you think of the privacy exception noted at WP:SOCK#LEGIT. Flyer22 (talk) 08:37, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure any of those exceptions necessitate the use of an undisclosed sockpuppet. I'd be curious to hear a hypothetical situation in which one would be necessary. Note that the given example for privacy refers to editing in the mainspace. Mww113 (talk) 05:11, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
@Flyer22: I accept the policy is what it is. That said, I don't agree that privacy should be a reason for a sockpuppet account. Any hypothetical I can think of involves an editor who has a conflict of interest and uses the alternate account to hide this fact. What academic or professional has no problem editing some articles but can't be seen editing other articles? Should a Wikipedian who made their name at WP:MILHIST use a sock to hide their interest in Cat Fancy? You've already well made the case about "new editors at ARBCOM" which is why I oppose any exception for internal discussions. I can't see a legitimate case for this exception. I edit under my real name and I've been publicly accessible at both edit-a-thons, wikinics, and WEF campus events wearing my blue Wikipedia polo. I therefore have little tolerance for those editing from the shadows although I understand policy allows them, sometimes reasonably, to do so. Chris Troutman (talk) 12:13, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, Chris troutman. Flyer22 (talk) 20:06, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Instead, explain to the arbs that they got that wrong. All 8 out of 8 of them. Have them read the first line of this policy. "The use of multiple Wikipedia user accounts for an improper purpose is called sock puppetry". Undisclosed alternative accounts, while not generally forbidden, is discouraged. Undisclosed alternative accounts, not sockpuppets. Sockpuppet carries the connotation of improper use. Improper use is forbidden. The arbs are wrong. Arbs must not be allowed to rewrite policy. Especially not something so straightforward and culturally historical and entrenched. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:46, 23 September 2015 (UTC) OK, the arb mis-statement was 2007! Let it go. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:48, 23 September 2015 (UTC) Further, the proposal invites wikilawyering. Show me three people agreeing on what is and is not "disruptive". Only the main account is allowed in Project Space. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:50, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - We need to ban alternative accounts, not to normalize their use, as this proposal tends to do. Carrite (talk) 12:39, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose Vanjagenije and Mz7 sum it up very well. Mike VTalk 22:33, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support if someone makes a valid report at WP:AIV it shouldn't matter if they are doing so from an alt account or even an IP address. ϢereSpielChequers 23:03, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
    This is an excellent point, which is suitably qualified in the arb case being cited here, "Sockpuppet accounts are not to be used in discussions internal to the project, such as policy debates". I don't think normal AIV reports about normal vandalism would be considered to be discussions, however, the way it is styled on the page, as Editing project space is over-general and misses some of the subtleties involved. This proposal is perhaps also too broad, as it would permit - even encourage - discussions in policy debates. -- zzuuzz (talk) 12:25, 26 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support if I understand correctly, alternative accounts should be allowed to participate in discussions internal to the project to improve it. I'll disclose that I have another account under samb338, but forgot the password. I think alternative accounts can be used to participate in discussions, but they shall not be used to double-vote and be disruptive. (talk) 03:52, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Like Carrite, I favor strengthening the policy against alternative accounts, although I wouldn't ban them altogether. As for this particular proposal, one that appears to be retrospectively self-serving, the rationale for the current policy is sound, and the kind of transparency I generally favor would be lost if the policy were diluted.--Bbb23 (talk) 04:07, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I don't see any good coming of this. --IJBall (contribstalk) 04:20, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I really cannot conceive of a situation in which an undisclosed sockpuppet would be needed for internal discussion. WP:SOCK#LEGIT cites privacy concerns, but the example given refers to editing the mainspace under an alter-ego to avoid real-life persecution. For the vast majority of people who use sockpuppets, that situation does not apply. I agree with all previous commenters about voting and comments needing to be tied to your username. If you have an opinion about policy or an ArbCom case or an RfA/RfD, whatever it may be, you should have to reveal your true on-wiki identity in order to participate in these discussions. Using an undisclosed account to participate in such discussions would be disruptive in just about every definition of the word I can conceive of. Furthermore, simply adding the word "disruptive" to such a core policy seems like risky business to me. The sockpuppetry policy is not one in which we want to use vague language. What does "disruptive" even mean? It could be defined in many ways by many different individuals. I fear that by relaxing the definition of what constitutes a sockpuppet, we may be opening ourselves to people who wish to exploit the wording of the policy rather than its intent. Mww113 (talk) 05:11, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
    Your personal limitations of imagination should really not be the determining factor. There is no such thing as a "true" identity anyway.
    As a general comment (here for simplicity but not just directed at you, Mww): the conversation around the concept of "sockpuppetry" is one of the places on Wikipedia where the dominant first-world-white-hetero-maleness of the culture really shows through.* People commenting here are very concerned about "disruption" to the internal processes of running a website. Meanwhile there is strikingly little concern, and in fact multiple dismissive comments, about the legitimate interests in privacy and personal safety our contributors may have. People with those concerns are, furthermore, relatively more likely to be interested in and knowledgeable about topics subject to our well-known systemic bias in coverage, and the work necessary to improve those topics is not limited to mainspace. This discussion has a strong flavor of "somebody else's problem" on those issues. Opabinia regalis (talk) 21:31, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
    *I'm talking about culture and discourse; we all know what the demographics look like. The personal identities of specific participants in the conversation are not relevant.
@Opabinia regalis As much as I don't appreciate the "lack of personal imagination" remark, I will assume good faith and proceed under the assumption that you have a legitimate interest in protecting the privacy and safety of Wikipedia contributors. I can appreciate that there are circumstances in which an editor may need to use an alternate account to protect their personal safety. But as has been discussed, WP:LEGIT already pretty clearly states that alternative accounts are permitted in extreme situations where there's a risk to personal safety. I'm not sure what "first-world-white-hetero-maleness" has to do with anything, but as far as I can tell, you haven't explained how the particular change in wording proposed here would provide marginalized and oppressed people with a way to maintain their safety that was not already available to them. In summary, I agree with what you're saying. I think everyone agrees that we need to protect editors regardless of their demographics. I disagree however that this proposed change is a productive means to that end. I'm open to changing my opinion if you can argue that this particular policy change would advance the cause of editor protection. But from my perspective, you have not done so. Best, Mww113 (talk) 04:43, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
As a side note, I do not identify as a "first-world, white, hetero, male" and do not appreciate assumptions being made about my identity that seem to have no relevance to the present discussion. Mww113 (talk) 04:45, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
See my earlier comment in this discussion - wanting to participate in a separate content area without identifying your main account is a legitimate use of an alternate account, and wanting to fully participate in project areas and internal discussions related to that content is perfectly consistent with that. The options are to a) change this policy so that it refers to conduct that's actually a problem ("disruptive") or b) invent out of whole cloth a distinction between which internal discussions are "really" about content and which are "purely" administrative. This project is about content, full stop; that distinction doesn't exist. Opabinia regalis (talk) 17:46, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
I think we just have a fundamental disagreement then. I'm not convinced that you should need to make an alternate account to obfuscate your main identity in order to participate in a separate content area. Unless there are major privacy/safety concerns, I don't see why you editing an article or participating in a project about a particular place equates to announcing "I live in a particular place". I appreciate your good intentions, however I respectfully disagree. I think we've taken up enough space now. Mww113 (talk) 23:04, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Apparently the small text should have been large text; this is about how the discourse environment works, not any individual's personal identity. Opabinia regalis (talk) 17:46, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Again I don't appreciate your tone. It seems I misunderstood you earlier. You could have explained that without being rude. Mww113 (talk) 23:04, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Vanjagenije, Mz7 and Carrite - The current wording is absolutely fine & doesn't need messing around with. –Davey2010Talk 20:18, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Snowpose per (nearly) all the above. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:48, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Seems to create more problems than it potentially tries to address. — Cirt (talk) 05:52, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support 'disruptively or deceptively' per Richard27182. Most people already edit anonymously. Commenting anonymously also prevents bias or (worse) retributive acts - for the same reason, peer review is typically anonymous. It forces a comment to stand on what it says, not on who makes the statement. If we say "any user who wants to comment on internal policies should also be courageous enough to use their main accounts", why don't we also say "any user who wants to comment on internal policies should also be courageous enough to use their real names"? Banedon (talk) 00:46, 29 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The proposal opens the door to the use of multiple accounts to stack a discussion, which if done tactfully, would not appear disruptive to the typical observer. Such "Creating an illusion of support" is a basic reason to oppose sockpuppetry in the first place. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 02:19, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
  • 'Oppose Posting anonymously does not by itself prevent bias or retributive acts. I also agree that the current wording is fine and does not need to be changed.Jurisdicta (talk) 03:04, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
Oppose - while I can understand a user wanting to keep the public from knowing that specific accounts are related due to legitimate privacy issues, there is no reason the user can't keep the two accounts from participating in a single discussion. And any such use is likely to make it look like there's a stringer consensus for this user's opinion than there actually is. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 08:22, 30 September 2015 (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.

Alternative accounts[edit]

I have a question about the use of alternative accounts and I hope it's OK to ask it here. Suppose I were to create a second account named "RugbyFan" for the sole purpose of editing articles related to Rugby football, and use my "Marchjuly" account to edit all other articles. I would add {{user alternative account}} to both user pages and wouldn't use either account in an improper way at all. It would basically just be because I feel "RugbyFan" fits rugby-related articles better than "Marchjuly". Would this kind of "genre-account" be considered acceptable per WP:VALIDALT? Thanks in advance. - Marchjuly (talk) 14:09, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

In my view, no. It doesn't fit into any of the categories of valid alternative accounts. The closest is the Maintenance category, but your main basis is that you don't think your real username is a good fit for Rugby articles, which is not at all the same as segregating media files and having a Talk page devoted to that subject matter. And putting policy aside, I think RugbyFan is a poor choice for editing Rugby articles. For many other editors, it might raise a red flag of partisanship.--Bbb23 (talk) 14:38, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
Hi Bbb23. Thanks for responding to my question. My question is actually about another editor. I used myself as an example because I wasn't exactly sure if what they are doing was an acceptable use of multiple accounts. I realized, however, I had earlier named the other editor on another user's talk page, so the whole "using myself an an example" to avoid naming them was rather pointless. I was going to go back and change my post, but you responded before I could. So, I sincelrely apologize if I misled anyone.
FWIW, I have discussed this with the other editor on their user talk and I really don't believe it is their intention to deceive anyone or use these accounts inappropriately. At the same time, it does seem as if they see no problem with doing such a thing and have no intention of stopping. I wasn't sure where to discuss such concerns. Another user did advise me to try ANI, but I wasn't sure how appropriate it would be for me to drag someone to ANI who actually might not be doing anything wrong. That is why I tried here instead. Is ANI the place to more formally discuss this kind of thing or is there some other place that is more suitable? Thanks in advance. - Marchjuly (talk) 15:25, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
One possibility is to point the other editor to this discussion. I've seen editors do this with no problem, principally because no one challenges it and at least superficially the editing from both accounts is not intertwined or disruptive. However, it can cause problems for editors if others believe they are avoiding scrutiny. Another thing that sometimes happens is they forget which account they are logged into and confuse the "roles" of the two accounts. Based on what you've told me, my strong recommendation is don't do it.--Bbb23 (talk) 16:11, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
If both accoounts are disclosed clearly (such as with, as proposed, alt-account userpage templates), I don't see how there would be any suspicion of "avoiding scrutiny". I agree with Bbb23 that the reason for this alt-account makes it seems useless and unfounded with regards to the usually accepted "legitimate" justifications for alt-accounts, but as far as the sockpuppetry policy is concerned, I doubt anyone would consider it a violation, as clearly disclosed accounts are by definition not sockpuppets.  · Salvidrim! ·  17:20, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the policy, many aspects with which I disagree, doesn't even require disclosure. Even if this proposed account doesn't violate policy, based on my experience with alternative accounts, both as an SPI clerk and as a CheckUser, it's a bad idea. Why do something where there's a risk of problems if the reason for doing it is so weak?--Bbb23 (talk) 19:00, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
Yea, definitely unadvisable and unecessary! But I can't think of a situation where disclosed alternate accounts would run afoul of sockpuppetry policy. And of courde undisclosed alts can be used in accordance with policy under some strict circumstances. But as you say, just because the letter of the rules don't forbid doing something doesn't mean it's not a bad idea anyways. ;)  · Salvidrim! ·  19:17, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
One sock puppet was using something like eight disclosed accounts, each for a different subject area. It ended up being a tipoff to me, and after an investigation, I discovered that the accounts had a master. When I see multiple accounts with no apparent basis other than "I wanna", I get suspicious. In the case I mentioned, the subjects were all areas of interest to the master, permitting me, even without a CU, to make a connection.--Bbb23 (talk) 19:38, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thanks Bbb23 and Salvadrim! for all the input. Per Bbb23's suggestion I have informed the other editor of this discussion and encouraged them to comment directly. Once again, I don't believe they are intending to do anything inappropriate. They have stated on their user talk that they are just interested in certain issues and accounts are not intended to be just "Humor accounts". - Marchjuly (talk) 22:22, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

I'm planning to start a third account and discontinue these two. Fighting Poverty, also Eating Nicely (talk) 09:19, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
@Eating Nicely: Perhaps you could explain why you created the Fighting Poverty account, what would be the name of the third account, and why do you want to create it? (I've reviewed some of your history, and I have my own thoughts as to what you've done to date, but I'd rather not put words into your mouth.) Thanks.--Bbb23 (talk) 15:16, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for replying here Eating Nicely. I'm not sure if creating yet another account is the right way to resolve this issue. Creating a third account might seem like a good idea on the surface, but your "Eating Nicely" and "Fighting Poverty" accounts will not be deleted just because you're no longer using them. Their respective editing histories will remain available for all to see and even possibly connect to your new account and any new edits you make using it. Why not just pick one of the two you've already created and stick to using that for all your edits? I believe you can do this without any problem and you might even be able to request a username change. Perhaps Bbb23 or Salvidrim! can provide more specific information about this. - Marchjuly (talk) 10:09, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
I’m thinking of keeping Fighting Poverty and changing the name to Nuggets of Knowledge. That suggests the Gold nuggets poor people sometimes dream of possessing. It further suggests Chicken nuggets or vegetarian alternative nuggets which can be eaten. But it can cover general topics as well. Till this is settled I’ll keep to using both accounts but mention the second account frequently in edit summaries. Is there a problem with carrying on both accounts if I mention the second account regularly? Eating Nicely (talk) 12:41, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
  • There is very little limit on openly declared alternative accounts. A desire to maintain separate watchlists is sufficient reason. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:13, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

You asked me to stick to one account on this page. I was going to wait a few days for things to settle but today material appeared on the BBC news page that will improve Wikipedia. I added it with the Fighting Poverty account. I have thought of a way to develop my Fighting Poverty userpage if the name is changed to Nuggets of Knowledge. I will ask for a name change and for the moment I plan to stop using Eating Nicely once the name is changed. Eating Nicely (talk) 09:12, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

I haven't been able to request the change without an email address. Please advise. Eating Nicely (talk) 09:24, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

I believe an email address is only required for requests for global user name changes, but is not required for simple name change requests. Which do you wish to do? If you want to do a global name change, then you will need to have an email account. You can use one of your existing email accounts or you can create a new one specifically for Wikipedia matters using a free email provider like Gmail, etc. and just add it to the account you want to keep. The address will be on record, but you can set your preferences so that you are unable to receive emails from other editors if you like. It also will not be visible on your user page unless you want to be. One benefit of providing an email address is that it makes it possible to retrieve forgotten passwords since it is near impossible to do so otherwise.
If you do not want to provide an email address, then you can try to request a simple name change and see what the response is. I don't believe there will be any problem as long as nobody else is using "Nuggets of Knowledge" on any other Wikipedia projects. Typically, a renamer or bot vets all such requests to make sure there are no problems with the "new" name. There's no guarantee your request will be approved, but it might be worth a shot. - Marchjuly (talk) 01:00, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

declaring alternative accounts[edit]

A long-standing use for alternate accounts is "long-term users might create a new account to experience how the community functions for new users". Requiring alt accounts to be declared isn't consistent with this goal. NE Ent 00:31, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

A bit of context here I think: [1]. HighInBC (was Chillum) 00:41, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
I am not sure what is being argued by NE Ent, however I agree with the revert. The change was too sweeping. HighInBC (was Chillum) 00:43, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm saying if you create a new account to see how what it's like to be a brand new account, you won't get the actual experience if users know it's an alternative account. NE Ent 00:45, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Okay, that makes sense. The fact that this was in any way contested was not clear, which is why I posted the diff. HighInBC (was Chillum) 00:49, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

  • There are other reasons for not declaring an alt account as well, or not declaring it publicly and instead notifying Arb that you are using the account, so I would agree with Ent on this. Sometimes disclosing defeats the purpose, and this is covered in the policy already. Dennis Brown - 01:16, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I have memory of "long-term users might create a new account to experience how the community functions for new users" or similar, but don't remembering it disappearing. It is, however, a single example of an undeclared legitimate alternative account, and it's presence/absence has nothing to do with my recent edits. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:56, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Ah, sorry. It is in the preamble of LEGIT, and the edits confused it, as it would belong in the undeclared section. I suggest that it is not clear writing to have examples in a preamble separate to the listing of examples. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:04, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Separate sublists, declared & undeclared, under LEGIT[edit]

I made edits [2], User:NE Ent reverted for discussion:

Reverted to revision 682080533 by Bbb23 (talk): Significant policy change ... requries discussion

I think these are good edits, separating separate things, mostly for clarity:

  • It is not a significant policy change, or even a small policy change, just an improvement in presentation.
  • The mixing of examples of declared and undeclared legitimate alternative accounts is to mix very different things, and it confuses.
  • There is very little restriction on declared alternative accounts, and multiple reasons to do it. Most are listed, and they are quite uncontroversial. I did modify a couple or words, clarifying that a declared alternative account must, in fact, be declared. "recommended" --> "required". On examination, this looks to be obvious.
  • The two examples of legitimate undeclared alternative accounts are much much more delicate, and the delicacy was quite obscured by burying them amongst examples for declared cases. Further, these two cases might require some review, review not easily done with them burying among dissimilar cases. "Privacy", for example, means an account that probably should be used with restrictions, as being discussed above, such as no use in Project Space. "Clean Start" similarly involves delicacies and restrictions, and should be more easily found and linkable in this policy.
--SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:20, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Oppose I don't think it's necessary to say declared alternative accounts when, as you've just pointed out, there are at least 2 situations in which it is permitted to not declare such accounts. (Or to do so privately to Arbcom.) I think adding in that language creates a contradictory tone which would be best to avoid in policy pages. I appreciate your good intentions, though I just don't agree with this implementation of them. Mww113 (talk) 08:08, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Oppose There are many reasons for undeclared. Personal safety is one, as not everyone lives in a Western democracy. Job safety, as some people might be fired if their boss knew they edited certain topics. The policy is vague on purpose. We don't care about what is used in good faith, we care about what is used to evade scrutiny, to avoid a block/ban or for other abuse. Any use that isn't abuse of some kind is probably ok. It isn't our job to determine if their life is really in danger and if they really live in China or Iran, etc. Dennis Brown - 08:45, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Mww, Dennis,
I really don't see any logic in your objection. You object to separating declared vs undeclared examples on the basis that there are some unlisted undeclared examples? You object to requiring declared alternative accounts being declared? What I see is that by separating declared vs undeclared legit examples, it becomes obvious that there is inadequate consideration of what makes an undeclared alt account legit. Can you please speak more clearly: Why should declared at accounts not be declared? Personal safety? Why is that not a subset of "privacy"? If it it is not a subset, why is it better to keep a confusingly mixed list instead of adding to the list of legit undeclared account examples? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:27, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Clearly put: the purpose of policy is not to define every possible legitimate use for declared or undeclared alternate accounts, it is to provide guidance as to what is and isn't acceptable, and provide common examples. Dennis Brown - 13:39, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Definitely true. But how does it help to mix the trivially obvious acceptable multiple examples of declared alternative accounts with inadequate examples of the very different undeclared alternative accounts? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 13:47, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
The real question is: How does it hurt? The more detailed the policy, the more likely it will be wikilawyered. WP:COMMONSENSE still trumps all policy, we just need a good overview, nothing more. Dennis Brown - 14:12, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
It hurts because this policy is really about undeclared alternative accounts, and yet the examples sections waffles lengthily with unarguable examples of reasons for declared alternative accounts. Burying the key examples amongsts trivially acceptable examples is just really bad organisation of the material. And had been for a long time. It confuses discussion at least here on this talk page, seen yet again currently at Wikipedia_talk:Sock_puppetry#RfC:_Clarify_the_rule_about_socking_in_project_space where there are occasional failures of clarity that deception and disruption involves undeclared alternative accounts, and does not involve any form of properly declared alternative accounts. The offensive "sock" or "sockpuppet" never applies to a properly declared alternative accounts.
"The more detailed the policy, the more likely it will be wikilawyered." No. The more convoluted the wording, the more likely it will be wikilawyered. But more importantly, the more convoluted the wording, the less likely that it will be read. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 14:26, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
No, as someone who has done 1500 sock blocks, making the verbiage narrow will cause more problems, not less. Right now, the main complaint about dealing with socks isn't "I wish the wording was different", so I don't see a basis for the change. But hey, we've hogged enough space. Lets let others opine, we don't need to WP:BLUDGEON the discussion. - Dennis Brown 16:53, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
There is no intention to narrow any language, or to change the meaning or nuance of anything. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:17, 26 September 2015 (UTC)

So User:Bbb23 objects [3] even to a change or order that makes no word changes. Why this insistence on burying the delicate "privacy" and "clean start" points amongst unarguable fluff? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 14:10, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

I concur with Dennis Brown on the above. You don't need to reply to every opposer. Sometimes people will disagree with you, stirring the pot and trying to debate everyone with a different opinion is not going to win people over to your side. Mww113 (talk) 05:02, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

I have to comment that more wording in a policy will result in wikilawyering. That is an interesting view. Simple wording leads to ambiguity. There is a reason laws and policies are wordy. It is done in an attempt to address the boundaries. Though I believe in concise guidelines, simply throwing out a "wordy" policy is a bit short sighted as some guidelines and policies need to be wordy to accomplish the purpose of the policy.Jurisdicta (talk) 02:43, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

What is proposed is an improvement in the logical sequence of presentation of Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry#Legitimate_uses. No increase or decrease of words.
At the moment, the preamble contains a reference to privacy, and testing the new user experience. The first is repeated in the list, the second is not.
The list of examples then contains 11 bold examples. 9 of 11 are examples of declared alternative accounts. 2 of 11 are examples of undeclared legitimate alternative accounts.
The 9 declared alternative account examples are all trivially and obviously OK, many even recommended. The 2 undeclared alternative account examples are nuanced with conditions. My point is that this section would be much easier reading if the 2 undeclared were not intermixed withthe 9 declared.
At the end of the section, there is a note "It is recommended that multiple accounts be identified ...". This would apply obviously to all 9 example declared alternative accounts, and probably does not apply at all to the example undeclared legitimate alternative accounts. It would be purposed-defeating to do this to the "testing the new user experience" account mentioned in the preamble.
User:Mww113's oppose refers to an error in the initial edit.
User:Dennis_Brown appears to be making the point that there are more reasons, such as safety, for legitimate undeclared accounts. I agree with his words, but don't see what it has to do with the proposal. Dennis' 1500 blocks are probably irrelvant to this, because blocked socks are deliberate disruptors, not users confused by the rules for privacy accounts.
User:Jurisdicta, there is no suggestion for additional wording here, except maybe by Dennis. Neither is there a suggestion to simplify wording, other than to sort existing wording logically. Look specifically at the last reverted edit. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:33, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
The 1500 blocks is not as important as the people I didn't block. It doesn't make me an expert by any means, it just means I have enough experience to know there is a lot more nuance than meets the eye, a lot more reasons, including good ones for not getting overly specific about the wording, and instead leave it general enough to allow flexibility. What I see here in your proposal is an answer to a question that no one is asking, a solution without a problem. This can actually make things worse in ways I don't think you understand. Dennis Brown - 14:40, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
There is nuance in randomly mixing the examples? The problem I answered you above, but I'll try again more briefly: A Wikipedian wishes to create a private account within the rules. Where is the guidance? Is it easily found and clear to read? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:23, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
I'm trying to take a Wikibreak, just dealing with stuff that I already started, but I would remind that you that when you are the only person taking a particular position, everyone else disagrees, and you continue to reply to every comment, you are indeed WP:BLUDGEONing. I tried to hint to this gently above, but at some point you have to just take the hint to drop the stick. You keep explaining it as if I lack the intellectual capacity to understand your point, when that isn't the problem. Your intentions may be good, but the change is just a bad idea. Dennis Brown - 11:40, 3 October 2015 (UTC)
It is true, I cannot see any intellectual basis for your responses. You have not spoken to anything relevant, and what you did raise (eg SOCK blocks) is irrelevant to the edits. It is as if you are responding off the cuff. Maybe after your wikibreak you will deign to engage on the substance. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:37, 6 October 2015 (UTC)