Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry

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RfC: Should WP:FAMILY be deleted from WP:SOCK?[edit]

Consensus to not remove WP:FAMILY from WP:SOCK has been established. (non-admin closure) Music1201 talk 22:05, 16 June 2016 (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.

Does the WP:FAMILY section of this page (WP:SOCK) contribute significantly to Wikipedia, in light of existing alternatives? Does it create any harm? If both, does either outweigh the other? Should WP:FAMILY be deleted from this page?  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 06:05, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

  • With all the best intentions, WP:FAMILY openly and in fact deliberately discriminates against family units (in particular, married couples). I contend that there is real unintended harm here, which outweighs any perceived or imagined benefits:
  1. In the typical case, we are talking about erasing/discounting only one !vote from a discussion. If the discussion is close enough or small enough that only one vote alters consensus, then the vote is also close is enough that it should be reasonably moved to another level of content dispute anyhow, rendering WP:FAMILY unnecessary.
  2. Does Wikipedia REALLY want to openly discriminate based on demography? Is this practice conceptually in line with the environment WP that wants to create, live within, and expose within our WP:POLICY interface to the non-wiki world? Only if absolutely necessary, I would suggest. And given that multiple alternative means of resolving any cases of Gaming of the system via family voting can be found, is FAMILY both redundant and ideologically toxic?
  3. I would conclude with the observation that ALTERING the section to remove its discriminatory effect would be impossible, since its stated goal (with all best intentions) is to discriminate. It can only be deleted OR left intact.
  • As a final note, I would anticipate that early !voters in this RfC would be policy page watchers, who might have a generally stare decisis attitude toward deletion of existing section, so the RfC should be publicized, and should be held open for a reasonably extended period of time.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 06:06, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
Comment: I don't think that WP:FAMILY "openly" or "deliberately discriminates" against family units, but I do agree that the current wording is problematic, primarily because it seems to contravene WP:AGF. WP:FAMILY seems to be assuming meatpuppetry or sock puppetry, just because two people who (for example) co-habitate also share common ideas on a topic. We can reasonably expect two people living together might share some common opinions, but that is not puppetry and does not mean we should ignore one of them. Imagine if the electoral commission decided that if both you and your spouse/partner voted for the same candidate or political party, only one of the votes would count! I do recognize that sock/meat puppetry is a real problem, but I think AGF should carry more weight. I suggest that WP:FAMILY should be reworded, something like:

If two or more registered editors use the same computer or network connection, their accounts may be linked by a CheckUser. Editors in this position are advised to may declare such connections on their user pages to avoid accusations of sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry. There are userboxes available for this; see {{User shared IP address}}.

Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives. This is particularly the case When editing the same articles, participating in the same community discussion, or supporting each other in any sort of dispute, closely related accounts should disclose the connection and observe relevant policies such as edit warring as if they were a single account. If they do not wish to disclose the connection, they should avoid editing in the same areas, particularly on controversial topics.

(And probably then move the "userboxes" sentence to the end.)
Mitch Ames (talk) 07:12, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
As somebody openly married to an editor with large cross over in views and interests (thats why we married!), I dont have a problem with the wording of the policy, which is necessary when fakery is involved, but its *application* by a very few when fakery is not. However, wanton misapplication is rare, and we cant leglislate for foolish probably deliberate misreadings. Ceoil (talk) 11:36, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
I find the current wording proscriptive and a little patronising. I would be happy with Mitch Ames amendment. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 12:58, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Are you reading the whole section? It says "Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives.". Emphasis added by me. Any two users, family or not who work together outside of Wikipeida who work with the same objectives are engaging in meat puppetry. Notice it says may, as in if it makes sense to do so. Two family members living in the same place who edit with their own objectives are not in violation of this policy. If someone told you otherwise they were flat out wrong. There is no discrimination against family units here, it is a rule against meat puppetry. The recommendation for disclosure is to avoid mistaken blocks. We can reword it to make it more clear but I oppose changing its intended meaning. HighInBC 14:15, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
I believe the language as it stands allows for selective discrimination, by which I mean that an established editor's marital status may be used against them without warning. I try hard to stay away from any policy discussions or !votes in which my husband is involved. That said, I edited here for several years before my marriage, and I do not allow that it changes my voice here. I note that no one has seen fit to chastise the man involved here, only the woman, not that I think it is deserved in either case. But I also think that the idea that I ought to be silenced as a "spouse" is faulty. I have declared our relationship from the start. If I hadn't, would I still be subject to censure and silencing? I think not. But feel free to converse on IRC about it. Kafka Liz (talk) 16:42, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, yes, in this specific instance, but in broader terms, no. HighInBC is wrong in on many footings, even not withstanding the massive assumptions of bad faith. For eg I'm not sure how *their own objectives* can ever be defined or policed. It reads like licence for cowboy admins. Ceoil (talk) 16:54, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
What assumption of bad faith? What objectives? Not sure what you mean. HighInBC 17:21, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
It is really hard to respond to that without knowing what you are referring too. Who chastised you? What were the circumstances? The wording of the policy does not target any group. It does not even mention the word family, that is just a shortcut link name. It is about shared IP addresses and nothing more. It is advice about disclosure to avoid accidental blocks, it is a way to avoid people using their little brother as an excuse. I would like to see the circumstances of the situation you complain about because I think this may be more to do with someone misinterpreting the policy than a problem with the policy itself. HighInBC 16:51, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
[1] Note that we are narrowly focused on 15 c art, hardly the realm of meatpupperty. Ceoil (talk) 16:57, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
Well I don't think we should change policy because one person gave some bad advice. Suffice to say I disagree with NE Ent's interpretation of policy in that diff, and I seriously doubt any admin would act on their opinion. It would be better to correct NE Ent's interpretation of the policy than it would be to throw the policy away. HighInBC 17:23, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
That's also my POV, if you had read further back, with out both fists barreled. Ceoil (talk) 17:24, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I realized that but I see how my comment could be seen as directed at you. My point was that the situation linked to does not seem to justify the action being proposed here, and I have not seem much more supporting the idea. HighInBC 17:40, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
But the question here is: does the presence of this section of the policy serve any useful purpose, at all, ever, and if so, does it do so in a manner that cannot be duplicated by other policies or practices? In other words, please defend your keep with something other than "I disagree"  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 17:33, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
I have. I have said "It is advice about disclosure to avoid accidental blocks, it is a way to avoid people using their little brother as an excuse." I should think the purpose is clear. It was created in response to people getting accidentally seen as sock puppets due to using the same IP as a family member, it was created because people would sock puppet and then blame their little brother. It needs to be applied with sense, and if misapplied then the community can deal with that. It has served us well for a long time.
I am happy to entertain alternate wording that gets the same point across while reducing the chance of the misunderstanding that you experienced. But simply removing the section is a non-starter for me. HighInBC 17:38, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
Me also. A tighter reign on admins and wanna be admins would be preferable, but outside scope. We have trout, but its not very often effective. People predisposed to dramaboards should not just police those dragged there, but each other from time to time. Ent, like Bugs before him, and may others before that are allowed to roam wantonly, with retarded advice, that people who are not predisposed take as rule, with dastardly results. Ceoil (talk) 17:43, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

(undent) But what User:HighInBC is saying it does is not even vaguely similar to what it says it does. The section is not a warm friendly lotsa love little helper to prevent confusion; it's a stern and explicit statement that "we can discount your voice; we can consider you as one user with a family member." And the word "may" does precisely nothing to soften that. In fact, the word "may" is being applied to an activity and an attitude that should never be countenanced. If you want to keep anything in the section, feel free to keep the title. Everything else needs to be scrapped and rewritten so that says what you say it should say.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 17:54, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

That is not what it says though. It is a warning about what may happen if two people edit from the same IP. It says " accounts may be linked by a CheckUser", this is a technical fact, if two people edit from the same IP then their accounts indeed may be linked. It gives friendly advice to declare such connections on ones user pages to avoid accusations of sockpuppetry. As for "Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives.", this just seems like a restatement of our meat puppetry policy.
It is fairly clear we disagree on this. How about we step back and wait for more opinions to come other people? No sense in going around in circles. HighInBC 18:05, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
@HighInBC:, in response to your "Any two users, family or not who work together outside of Wikipeida who work with the same objectives are engaging in meat puppetry." — I strongly disagree with this, because "edit/work with the same objectives" is far too vague. Ultimately don't we all have the same WP:OBJECTIVE - to build/improve an encyclopaedia. Likewise "work together outside of Wikipedia" is too vague. What constitutes "outside of Wikipedia"? Is an offline WP:MEETUP "inside" or "outside"? The Perth editors (including me) regularly meet to socialise and discuss things Wikipedian? Is this meat puppetry? Sometimes we discuss specific topics that we are all working on, eg Toodyaypedia; most recently we discussed creating and improving articles for Category:Cathedral Square, Perth - by your definition that would be meat-puppetry. Perhaps a documented WP:MEETUP counts as "inside" Wikipedia, but what if one of us phone another to discuss some detail? Is that puppetry? Where do you draw the line? Mitch Ames (talk) 09:59, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
All of our policies are vague. Unlike a set of laws that tries to cover every little possibility we allow common sense to be applied which lets us keep our rules relatively simple. It is the spirit of the rule that we enforce, and if the spirit is unclear we should be more specific. If you have wording that alleviates your concerns I am happy to hear it, but I don't think this policy is being misinterpreted like that very often, really I have only seen the one example. HighInBC 15:51, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
I included my proposed changes in a comment fairly early in this RFC: [2]. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:46, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This part of the policy is absolutely necessary to prevent possible abuses. Without that, a person would be able to do everything WP:ILLEGIT without punishment because they can always claim the other account(s) belong to their family. And there is no way to check that out. So, this is purely technical policy that closes the loophole that would otherwise make the whole WP:SOCK policy unenforceable. Vanjagenije (talk) 23:11, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
    • @Vanjagenije: Can you accept the revision of Mitch Ames, which at least removes the more blatantly offensive wording?  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 01:27, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
      • No. First, I don't see anything offensive, let alone "blatantly offensive", in the current wording. Second, I don't support Mitch Ames' proposal because it changes the very substance of this policy. The proposal only says that two people sharing the same IP and same POV may declare the connection in order to be accused of sockpuppetry. But, two people sharing the same IP and same POV have to declare connection because that is sockpuppetry. Vanjagenije (talk) 07:30, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
"two people sharing the same IP and same POV ... is sockpuppetry." — No. WP:SOCK defines sockpuppetry as "The use of multiple Wikipedia user accounts for an improper purpose" (my emphasis). Two people sharing the same IP and and point of view does not automatically mean "improper purpose". I agree it may raise reasonable suspicions, but that's not the same as automatically presuming guilt. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:20, 4 April 2016 (UTC)


  • Support the suggestions of Mitch Ames. This policy has been misused, and it has been used in a manner that, frankly, probably constitutes a violation of U.S. Federal law against discrimination based on sex of marital status. And everyone, please! It's a tighter REIN, not "reign" (**headdesk**) "Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives" is language that has to go. I would suggest that if people are worried about socking and meatpuppetry (which is a legitimate worry), we could add something like "This section only applies to issues of sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry, it is not a policy or guideline to be cited in editing discussions involving users known to be separate people with a shared IP. Users with established independent accounts and a verifiable editing history as separate users are not to be deemed a "single user" under this section." I know that phrasing is a bit complicated, but I hope my point is clear. Montanabw(talk) 01:13, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • AFAIK, federal law does not prohibit discrimination by the Foundation (Wikipedia is not a legal entity) against an editor based on marital status. The majority of cases of marital status discrimination involve employment or housing, although there are other arenas when such a claim might be viable. In any event, we don't discriminate through this policy. The policy treats accounts owned by spouses, partners, brothers, sisters, colleagues, or roommates in the same fashion.--Bbb23 (talk) 14:55, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose As per Vanjagenijie. Required due to the technical inability to differentiate between two (or more) people editing from the same property/computer in many cases of sockpuppetry, and checkuser is completely ineffective against meatpuppetry. Montanabw's 'probably constitutes a violation of federal law blah blah' argument is a load of ignorant rubbish. Its gender-neutral, since it doesnt matter if the related people are male/female/transgender, and as for relationships, it can (and has in the past) been equally applied to house-sharers, casual relationships, people in UNI halls and so on. So claiming its discriminating because of gender (really, what one?) or to married couples is frankly ludicrous. Only in death does duty end (talk) 08:35, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove completely. This is absolute tripe. If you believe somebody's lying about having a brother or sister, that falls under 'lying'; you don't need a separate clause for it. Sharing an IP or even having a close relationship with someone should not be incriminating, nor should it strip you of your individuality. 31.153.64.211 (talk) 10:09, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Mitch Ames's revision - as I tried to do with my edit the other day: see this diff, we are dealing with poor language can be used as a weapon against unwitting couples with similar interests (well duh they have similar interests, thats why they are a couple). Sadads (talk) 13:10, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
It is, by design to prevent meatpuppetry, intended to be used against *anyone* in a close enough relationship that when editing in the same area they speak as one voice. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:13, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
@Only in death: Okay so it was designed with good intentions, but now it has become a weapon that catches a particular class of people. It doesn't matter what the intention of the policy was if it can be used (largely without knowledge of the initial writers's intention) to attack a spouse, and alide them into a singular voice. What we are asking for here is a preemptive tweaking of language, to not remove the stopping power of the policy, but to limit its application so it doesn't become a weapon in future conversations. We have at least one case of it being used as a weapon, if we don't change the policy: we are allowing future arguments to use this policy as a weapon, and displacing the issue to future conflicts, rather to what could be a small congenial revisions right here and now. We are basically creating future discrimination and conflict, by not listening to what has already happened, Sadads (talk) 13:22, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
The only class of people it catches are people who live together. That is by design. No gender, relationship or other discrimination applies. And last I checked 'living arrangements' are not a protected group. People who live in the same house and edit in the same area and hold the same opinions are one voice. It is impossible to technically tell them apart these days given the amount of devices one can access the internet with, PC's, phones, games consoles, tablets. This provision is designed to prevent meatpuppetry which is not provable by technical means. AGF goes so far as to assume that people editing from a shared IP are not the same person. It does not go so far as to allow them to sway discussions because the result of that would be my nine brothers independantly deciding to vote the same way. It is precisely a weapon to be used against meatpuppetry. You talk about not listening to what has already happened, you clearly have not listened to what already happened to *require* this provision. There are plenty of meatpupptry cases, 'My brother/sister/housemate/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife is the other editor'. The end result of removing this provision is *more* arguments not less because in any future discussion where known related users start voting the same way, it will devolve into accusations (that cannot be disproved) of canvassing and meatpuppetry. Only in death does duty end (talk) 13:38, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps if you were to think of "vote" discussions as an opportunity for fellow human beings to work through their differences, it would help to see where the minority are coming from. If you keep treating each other like professional children around here, there's very little hope. 31.153.17.162 (talk) 14:08, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Well given the reaction of 2 editors is to threaten to take their ball and go home if they dont get their way, perhaps if people didnt want to be treated like children they shouldnt act like them. Only in death does duty end (talk) 14:22, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
It might help if they weren't treated like children in the first place. Just a thought. You may care to note that the editors involved have for the most part returned. Kafka Liz (talk) 14:37, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
There's nothing childish about not wanting to fraternise with people who seem to question your humanity. Besides, if they're in a relationship, wouldn't that be a child, singular? 31.153.17.162 (talk) 19:47, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Is it improper to ask for examples where this has obviously been applied to a couple (of any make up) who have been negatively affected by the wording since I have seen SPI etc. where the attempt to claim innocent connections has been made but I haven't seen people being bullied by the incorrect suggestion using this..(Note, I'm NOT saying it isn't happening - but so far people are saying it has affected people but giving no examples). The wording reads fine to me, it is as precise as it needs to be IMHO but if I am missing a large group of people who are being discriminated against as a result of the wording I would like to know. ☕ Antiqueight haver 01:16, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal - otherwise, users will sock from their own home, and blame their family members for it; the policy doesn't say that they are considered a single user and must be treated as such, only that they may be if they have the same agenda here. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 20:54, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Vanjagenijie. NE Ent 23:26, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
No change in wording is necessary. I'm reasonably confident -- no, make that extremely confident -- that were an editor to misinterpret the policy in an inappropriate context the magnitude of community feedback would be such that they will never, ever make that particular mistake twice. NE Ent 23:01, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
What is the one true interpretation of this policy then? Only in death above appears to think that anyone in a 'close enough relationship' is a meat puppet. Actually, can we stop calling people 'meat puppets'? It's beginning to miff me. What sort of misanthrope comes up with this crap anyway? 31.153.17.162 (talk) 23:22, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
See Wikipedia's policy and explanation on meatpuppetry. It is a problem, and reports of this are legitimate if correct. ~Oshwah~(talk) (contribs) 23:26, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
I don't disagree that actual 'meat puppetry' is a problem. (I disagree with how it's handled, beginning with using the term 'meat puppet'.) 31.153.17.162 (talk) 23:30, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Revise or remove. Like many aspects of the sockpuppetry policy, this has been subject to significant scope creep. Intended as a way to say "Yeah, sure, you think we haven't heard that one before?" to obvious liars, it was then extended to mean "if we really can't tell if your friend is real or imaginary, we'll treat them as the latter" - which is a pretty clear example of the technical tail wagging the social dog. But then it's been further extended as "if we know damn well you are two separate people, both with long editing histories, we are nevertheless going to assume that you're colluding with each other whenever the possibility arises". That's not only a plain assumption of bad faith, but it relies on a model of real-life human relationships that is, at best, not generalizable. While the issue has been sorted out in the particular instance that gave rise to this discussion, the purpose of changing the policy is to spare the community the need to provide the same feedback repeatedly, and to spare individuals receiving that feedback. It's actually quite interesting to see how willing people are to dismiss a problem that's been demonstrated to exist on the ground of hypothetical scenarios. Do you really think "little brother" lies will become more believable if there's no WP:OMGWTFBBQ about it? Will checkusers start accepting obvious lies without a wikipolicy telling them not to?

    Given the demographics of the project, it's hardly surprising that the context in which this has come up, and the most likely ongoing effect of such an unreasonably expansive reading, is unnecessarily dismissing the contributions of women whose male partners are also active editors. A superficially gender-neutral policy that has disproportionate effects on one gender is sexist, even if the policy's advocates aren't.

    And as long as we're here, I agree with 31 above that we need to rethink how we talk about this issue. The Wikipedia usage of the term "meat puppet" may have once been a bit of a joke, but come on now. We keep talking about "professionalism" about much more trivial stuff like Anglo-Saxonisms in the Signpost. This project already has a reputation for a male-nerd-dominated internal culture; when people unironically discuss the specific circumstances under which we can call a woman a "meat puppet", it only reinforces that impression. Opabinia regalis (talk) 00:32, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

  • Support removal: It's an old-fashioned policy for a bygone era, back when people didn't legitimately have multiple people in the same family editing, and when disputes were less frequent. Its recent misuse, even if unintentional, only highlights how serious a problem this policy poses. Really, this is pure instruction creep that has just remained well-hidden until now. Just remove it. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 02:14, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support changing to reflect reality...Modernist (talk) 02:20, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Vanjagenijie. The proposed change isn't needed. APerson (talk!) 16:31, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose generally, fine with proposed rewording by Mitch Ames above. Given the general inability to identify single users on networks and shared IPs, there is a need for statements like FAMILY/ROOMMATE. This is a technological limitation. I find arguments about discrimination unpersuasive given any actual evidence of harm as well as unspoorted claims that this would affect married people more than, say, college roommates, coworkers, or cohabiters. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 18:08, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removing to the extent that this means disregarding common IP address as evidence of socking. If this simply removes the suggestion of self-identification in favor of some other way to avoid being incorrectly identified as a sock, fine, whatever works. Socking is a major, pernicious problem on Wikipedia that has a very negative impact on the articles and the editing environment. The last thing we need to do is to give another tool to sock operators. Rationales #1 and #2 stated in the RfC are not valid. First, the balance of many RfC and other !votes, editing disputes, and process wars, can indeed be tipped by a single editor, particularly a very determined one. Second, if there is a discrimination it is one based on reality, that multiple people are sharing a single IP address. It is not that we are going out of our way to inconvenience multiple family members, roommates, employees, internet cafe patrons, etc., based on their affinity, but rather that they have done something that is convenient to themselves (saving money by sharing a single online connection), but has its limitations. - Wikidemon (talk) 18:15, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal per Vanjagenijie, it is necessary to prevent abuse. I'm ambivalent, leaning oppose on the rewording too. ansh666 01:37, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • To the questions asked: yes, yes, yes, and no (oppose both deletion and the proposed edit). The number of genuine people editing from a single address is much less than the number of imaginary people that are created. I sympathize with the people who think that their "vote" is not worth as much since their roommate/spouse/sibling/whatever is also an editor, but note that actual counting of good faith votes is rare in Wikipedia. Much more often it is the perception of being outnumbered, edit warring, and so forth, where numbers matter - in other words, numbers mostly matter to bad actors, much less so to good faith participants. If someone can propose a way that would allow a genuine roommate to "count" but yet allow detection of sockpuppets, I would be all for that, but so far I have not seen such a proposal. When I asked Lingzhi, just above, they pointedly avoiding answering. --GRuban (talk) 01:46, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
    • @GRuban: Sorry slow to reply. I don't know a perfect answer. Perhaps rather than finding a way to perfectly cover the "I have six brothers, yeah, that's the ticket" case, the focus should be instead on providing better wording that better handles the "we're married and we tend naturally to agree a lot" case. The section as it stands is aggressive, offensive because it does not WP:AGFLingzhi ♦ (talk) 22:17, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose both removing and continuing this nonsense. The original thread is strong with WP:CIR and weak on WP:COMMONSENSE resulting in some faux outrage to justify using WP policy as a way to WP:RGWs. The fact that people here are making WP:LEGALTHREATs about gender relating to a policy that has nothing to do with gender is just icing on the cake. Timothyjosephwood (talk) 18:48, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal. Support rewording as Mitch Ames and Montanabw suggest. Anomie 19:30, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose any change to policy or its wording. The change requested, as has only slowly become clear, was a reaction to a foolish comment made by one editor in one place citing this policy; this was seen as a "wrong" against which action must be taken. The change was needed because "only action will correct the wrong" (wording used above). Meanwhile, absolutely no-one supported the foolish comment as being a legitimate interpretation of this policy, and even further, the editor that made the foolish comment has now apologised unreservedly to the people involved, and mentioned their realisation in this thread. As one of the targets of the foolish comment has sensibly said already, it was the application, not the policy, that was the problem. The policy is fine, and is necessary. MPS1992 (talk) 20:51, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Meh. I think a lot of things could be merged under WP:DEJAMOO and this is probably one of them. Guy (Help!) 22:29, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Not removed, but wording can always be improved. Different editors sharing the same IP and/or computer can easily be misidentified as a single person pretending to be different people. Explaining the situation on the user's userpage is good advice. Regular IP editors should be more strongly advised to register an account. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:18, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support removal of the WP:FAMILY shortcut from the linkbox. It is not helpful. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:20, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal or rewording. Removing this policy would make it harder to deal with WP:TAGTEAM cases. In addition, I cannot see where exactly the "gender discrimination" lies in this policy itself and hence, I don't feel there is a need to reword it. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 17:10, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Weak Support for removal - The section that family members may be sockpuppets is comparable to the provision about meatpuppetry in general, which is ambiguous, and, because it is ambiguous, is contentious. The FAMILY section and the MEATPUPPET section should be blown up and started over. Robert McClenon (talk) 19:47, 7 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Revise or remove - mostly per Opabinia regalis who nails it. To expand a little - I've looked at the history, going back seven years and found that in March 2009, the wording was somewhat different. But - even then it mentions editing with the same objective and that's problematic, in my view. In the case that sparked this discussion, two editors who edited from separate IP addresses for many years now share an IP. For years their objective has been to write content and bring it to FA quality. According to the policy, as written, that's a single objective and now that they share an IP only one of the two can, for instance, claim credit for work done when one their articles gains a star. This is only a single example, but somehow the wording should reflect that they are a family and not here to do harm. Victoria (tk) 20:05, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Er - what? Where is there anything in the rules about claiming credit for work done on an article? --GRuban (talk) 22:45, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Well gosh - try reading WP:UCS when editors work really hard and really long on articles and they know where true credit belongs...someone comes along and well............then we read WP:IAR because sometimes the rools just aren't enough for every circumstance...Modernist (talk) 22:54, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Read them all. Still puzzled. Where does any rule say only one account in a family can claim credit for work done on an article? --GRuban (talk) 23:32, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
  • I guess I'm agreeing with you there...If 2 people are related and are also capable and first rate editors regarding similar sublects then it should not matter if they have related ip numbers...Modernist (talk) 01:17, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
  • On some level we're all agreeing. The example I used is absurd, intentionally so, but a close read of the wording seems to support it. Hence a call for revision. Victoria (tk) 23:57, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
  • No, sorry. Not agreeing. Even reading closely, still don't see any language that says "only one of the two can claim credit for work done". In fact, I've never seen any rule at all limiting claims of credit. Please, point it out. --GRuban (talk) 04:04, 10 April 2016 (UTC)
  • This discussion arose specifically due to someone who used WP:FAMILY in a content dispute with the remark, "two to three folks and a spouse aren't very much of a consensus." followed by other statements like "why [redacted] made the distinction of noting one was a spouse - as it has specific relevance in close-consensus discussions." The discussion then blew up across multiple user and project talk pages before landing here. I can't recall if the WP:FAMILY cite was at the ANI or on one of the talk pages, but it clearly WAS used as a "spouses are only one entity" argument. Montanabw(talk) 17:53, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Even so, still don't see that Victoria's statement about credit has any support in policy. If I make a perfectly legitimate sock puppet account, name it GRubanMobile, make it perfectly clear that we are in fact one user, just one is where I log in on mobile, there is still absolutely nothing stopping me from listing every single article I ever worked on on the user pages of that account as well. I can not see any rule, even with "a close read of the wording", say only one account, whether out of a group of accounts for a single user, or in a family, or, of completely separate users, can claim credit for work done on an article. I was willing to ask and be shown it before but it's been over a week now, lots of responses, and no one has been able to. It seems like this objection was made in error. --GRuban (talk) 20:30, 18 April 2016 (UTC)
  • No, the objection was not made in error and saying that it was negates it. There are lots of reasons why someone isn't engaged here on a daily basis. The point I was trying to make is that the wording about shared objective can be applied to many things. I purposely used an absurd example. Victoria (tk) 23:22, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal and rewording - If two users are linked via a checkuser because it can be shown they have engaged in behavior similar to that of sockpuppetry, even though it isn't sockpuppetry, the same penalties should apply (basically it is a form of meatpuppetry). It can be hard to prove they are not the same user, especially if they edit anonymously. I suggest we add wording encouraging closely connected users to maintain a Chinese wall when it comes to collaboration especially in disputes and policy discussions.Godsy(TALKCONT) 20:24, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal. This is clearly a net benefit. Without this, any user could successfully claim that they're two people when questioned on it. The problem here is an overly broad interpretation of what's written, not the writing itself. I especially like the existing wording about treating your accounts as if they are one. This assists editors who are co-located in avoiding ever running into situations where people question them on their connection in the first place, which is ideal. ~ RobTalk 03:08, 14 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Strong support - for all the reasons already stated in support of a rewrite. It reeks of bleed-over from WP:COI, WP:SPA and WP:ADVOCACY for all the wrong reasons, and we are failing to WP:AGF which places us dangerously close to throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a very discriminatory manner. Like-mindedness is not a bad thing for WP unless we're talking about noncompliance with WP:PAG which requires a common sense approach if a dispute arises, not an investigation into the private lives of our editors. Family or not, the focus needs to be on patterned behavior and obvious purpose of the account which is easy enough to assimilate by reviewing user contributions. Atsme📞📧 13:02, 14 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose changes per HighinBC and others. Calidum ¤ 04:36, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose removal per HighinBC and others. Primary thought is that little evidence is offered of this having any actual discriminatory effect. 'Shared objectives' is vague and could be misapplied, but is it? Pincrete (talk) 17:52, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
    • Comment: The example above triggered this round, but I know of at least four other couples who have both had WP accounts, and at least one other case where that fact was used against them in an editing dispute. The policies on tagteaming should be no more or less stringent toward people editing in the same household as for people editing across the country. Being a spouse (or, for that matter, roommates, siblings, or a parent-child combo) should not make anyone a second class citizen or preclude them from editing in an area where they have interest. Montanabw(talk) 23:38, 28 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose any change It does not discriminate against any particular group, and is required for dealing with sock-puppets, as per common sense. This seems like people trying really hard to get offended by something, that is nothing. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 13:17, 26 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Support modification. The fact that it has had an actual discriminatory effect is proven: it is the case with the warning by NEEnt that brought forth this discussion Since it is has been shown that the current wording has been actually used in a situation like that, it's dangerous to keep it. DGG ( talk ) 00:23, 2 May 2016 (UTC) .
Proven? Asserted, yes but proven? JbhTalk 22:24, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Support rewording: while I would count myself among those who fail to see any explicit discrimination in the passage, it’s fairly apparent from this discussion that it does convey a discriminatory subtext to quite a few others, so I’m in favour of any revisions that will prevent such inferences from being drawn. (As I see it, the root of the problem, like many others having to do with socking, is in the nose-counting that passes for assessment of consensus much of the time around here, but that goes far too deep for a little tweaking of policy language to address.)—Odysseus1479 23:16, 25 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose The policy says "Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives." (emp mine) Removing this opens up the "my little brother did it" defense to socking, vote stacking and other disruption. If the editors in question are not editing in a problematic way then the policy allows for them to not be treated as the same user, if they are being problematic or acting with 'unity of purpose' then it is good to disallow closely connected editors placing their thumbs on the scales of consensus. JbhTalk 22:24, 5 June 2016 (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.

Recent edits[edit]

I'm closing this discussion since it is mostly settled and it would not benefit anyone to rekindle the debate. It is ironic that there was so much dispute over the process to edit an informative rather than a normative part of a policy page. Discussion about the content of the policy page has moved on and some elements of the original proposed change have been incorporated into further edits. I'm closing this discussion with a reminder that editors - admin or not - should refrain from causing unnecessary antagonism in discussions, and from placing disproportionate emphasis on following processes. Deryck C. 15:38, 13 June 2016 (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.

Personally I'm agnostic to the difference between the old and new edits, but this, not edit summaries, is the place to be discussing them. Something doesn't have to be broken to be improved. NE Ent 09:42, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

Indeed, an edit need not even be an improvement -- it's OK if it leaves the page merely just as good. To qualify for reversion, an edit must actually make the page worse. It's that way so that good-faith bold contributions, especially newbies, aren't bitten by kneejerk reversions. I've made another edit [3]; if it makes the page worse I'd appreciate someone explaining just how or (better) modifying and building on what I've done instead of just trashing it. EEng 10:12, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
What you're doing is edit-warring and on a policy page, and this isn't the first time. Rather than work out a consensus on the Talk page, you continue to make your changes, not necessarily the identical ones, but recrafting your language on a let's-see-if-this-works basis. That's not the way it should be done even on an ordinary article let alone a core policy. Your edit summaries are sarcastic and mildly offensive, which doesn't help matters. Your idea that an edit has to make things "worse", which is a highly subjective term, to constitute a revert has no support in policy. As to the matter at hand, I don't mind pointing out something amusing about a policy somewhere on Wikipedia, but silliness generally has no place in the policy itself. We are not here for your entertainment (what you think as amusing may not be to others). I didn't revert again, only because I'm not going to edit-war with you, but your conduct is, as it was the last time I had to deal with you on a similar issue, disruptive.--Bbb23 (talk) 12:58, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
  • "what you think as amusing may not be to others" -- The usual nonsense trope. Everything we do and say is subject to interpretation for good or bad, and humor is no different. The image of sockpuppets already there was, obviously, humorous in itself, so modifying the caption to suit makes perfect sense. Like it says at the top of my user page:
One should beware of those who cannot or will not laugh when others are merry, for if not mentally defective they are spiteful, selfish or abnormally conceited ... Great men of all nations and of all times have possessed a keen appreciation of the ridiculous, as wisdom and wit are closely allied.
If you lack the appreciation, don't insist on dragging the rest of us down to your level.
  • Of course "worse" is a subjective term, just as is "improve". Just about everything we do as editors is subjective -- what an absurd point you seem to be trying to make.
  • "Your idea that an edit has to make things 'worse' ... to constitute a revert has no support in policy" -- see [[WP:DONTREVERT] which, yeah sure, isn't policy, but if you can't see the wisdom of "In the case of a good faith edit, a reversion is appropriate when the reverter believes that the edit makes the article clearly worse and there is no element of the edit that is an improvement" then... well, see next bulletpoint.
  • "The last time [you] had to deal with [me]"? Was there another time you gave a high-handed lecture showing you have a backwards understanding of how things are supposed to be done? You don't "have" to deal with me, and as NE Ent so effectively explains below, you're arguing in support of those who have kne-jerk reverted in violation of PGBOLD, so perhaps you should leave the refereeing of minor squabbles over nonsubstantive changes to those with a better understanding of guidelines, policy, and just-plain-how-things-are-done.
EEng 14:32, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
Per WP:PGBOLD a let's-see-if-this-works basis, is exactly the way it should be done, especially for edits which don't change the substance of the policy. Changing 3RR to 7RR without an RFC is disruptive, changing the description of a sockpuppet in a caption is not. Other the other hand, "I don't like it" / "That's not a copy edit" edit summaries are against policy (see WP:REVEXP) and are, in fact, the beginning of the edit war.NE Ent 13:23, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
  • "[[File:Sockenpuppentanz2.jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.85|Originally, a "sock puppet" was just an innocent toy.|alt=Toy puppets made from socks, with buttons for eyes]]" is an improvement and should be left in. NE Ent 13:24, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I however reverted the edit. After your first edit got reverted, User:EEng#s, the proper place to go, in mainspace but certainly on a policy page, is the talkpage. You've got the diff(s) to discuss and to show what you want to change - now get the consensus. See the header of the page to understand why. --Dirk Beetstra T C 13:30, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
We're here. NE Ent agrees at least part of my edit [4] an improvement, while you and Bbb23 obsess (incorrectly, as it happens) about process. Any comments on the substance of the changes? There's nothing worth keeping? Or are you in too much of a hurry to care? EEng 14:32, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
I don't see any improvement in this edit though. What is the improvement here? --Lemongirl942 (talk) 15:09, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Initial capital corrected in alt= text
  • Sock puppet linked in caption, for easy reference by someone whose eye is attracted to the image
  • Wordiness cut e.g. user account --> simply account, since for the purposes of this discussion user accounts are the only kind of account there is
EEng 15:40, 10 May 2016 (UTC)
While obvious vandalism / trolling should simply be reverted, when reverting good faith edits the burden should be on the reverter: WP:REVEXP A substantive explanation also promotes consensus by alerting the reverted editor to the problem with the original edit. ... If your reasons for reverting are too complex to explain in an edit summary, leave a note on the article's Talk page. It is sometimes best to leave a note on the Talk page first and then revert, rather than the other way around; thus giving the other editor a chance to agree with you and revise their edit appropriately. NE Ent 01:33, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
I largely agree with EEng's edits. Putting a whimsical caption on a whimsical picture makes perfect sense. Showing a picture of socks with faces on them and using a stiff caption is jarring and weird. ~ RobTalk 02:16, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
  • All comment on the substance of the edits being positive, I guess we've reached consensus. Or will further procedural quibbles be injected now just for the hell of it? EEng 02:50, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't see a consensus, and if there really is one, let someone uninvolved implement it.--Bbb23 (talk) 12:09, 15 May 2016 (UTC)
An admin upholds one of the five pillars without throwing his weight around.
You don't see a consensus. Let's see. NE Ent, BU_Rob13, and I all see value in the changes. You and Dirk Beetstra have held forth—​​incorrectly—​​only on how the change-making process is supposed to proceed. Lemongirl942 asked that improvements be pointed out; after a sampling was provided she fell silent. Given that these aren't even the kind of "substantive changes to policy" which WP:PGBOLD contemplates require a consensus discussion, but rather the "minor edits to improve formatting, grammar, and clarity [which] may be made at any time"—​​and if they're not, neither you nor anyone else has said how they fail in that regard—​​what more exactly do you expect to see?
And whence get you this idea someone else should implement the changes? Do you just make stuff up? WP:UNINVOLVED is for admins—​​something else you should review after brushing up on WP:PGBOLD. Your brand of highhanded pronouncement is very counterproductive in an admin (or in any editor for that matter, but in an admin especially). See right. EEng 13:36, 15 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Sorry, I forgot to watchlist this page. My opinion is that this edit as a whole wasn't really necessary. The original wording seems fine to me (but of course this is subjective). I agree with the capitalisation though and I implemented it. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 14:05, 15 May 2016 (UTC)
  • All comments on the proposed change being either positive or "wasn't really necessary", and no explanation being offered for why someone else should make the change, I'll go ahead and do it. Anyone who actually believes that some part of the change makes the page worse, or inadvertantely works a substantive change, is of course welcome to revert that portion. Dismissive blanket reverts, with distorted claims about needing advance consensus for minor wording changes and other nonsubstantive changes, are not welcome, per WP:PGBOLD:
Consequently, you should not remove any change solely on the grounds that there was no formal discussion indicating consensus for the change before it was made. Instead, you should give a substantive reason for challenging it and, if one hasn't already been started, open a discussion to identify the community's current views.
EEng 01:35, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

Continued obstruction[edit]

Another of the "admin 3%" shows everyone who's boss

Our friendly local I'm-in-charge-here member of the "admin 3%" has again reverted, having never given any substantive objection or indeed any comment on the change in any way, other than the self-referential call for consensus on these utterly trivial changes, [5] and of course the obligatory ominous threats [6]. Pinging those who actually have commented on the content: NE Ent, BU_Rob13, Lemongirl942. Also pinging Drmies to see whether this thread will become just another monument to admin steamrolling-just-for-the-hell-of-it -- we'll see. EEng 04:26, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

After seeing the recent revert, I already listed this discussion at WP:ANRFC. Hopefully, someone will come along quickly to close it. Consensus is fairly clear, in my opinion, as several editors have explained why they think this edit is a net positive and no editors have explained why it might be a negative. ~ RobTalk 05:10, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, I should have thought of that. Incredible how one determined obstructionist can waste so much of productive editors' time -- and an admin at that! EEng 05:20, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • Why did this start over again? This is like the lamest stuff I have seen. Anyway since time will be wasted on this, lets just go ahead. I don't have any opinion about the image or its description - for all I care the image can be removed from the policy page itself (or better replaced with an image of Lamb Chop). As for the wording in the actual policy, I already said before that I prefer the original wording here. I don't understand the need to say "Traditionally, a sock puppet (whether or not made from an actual sock) was worn on the hand as a puppet," because, as far as I know, the term sock puppet in general still refers to the puppet worn on the hand. The internet term Sockpuppet was coined recently. I also don't understand the need to say "whether or not made from an actual sock". This is tangential to the topic.
That said, I agree that the original sentence could use some copy editing. My suggestion, change the original wording The term comes from sock puppet, an object shaped roughly like a sock and used on the hand to create a character to entertain or inform. to "The term comes from sock puppet, a puppet made from a sock and worn on the hand to create a character to entertain or inform." --Lemongirl942 (talk) 06:36, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • For the record, BTW, you didn't say you preferred the original wording, rather you said that you didn't see what the improvement was in the new wording, which is critically different, being neutral. The discussion has started over because our friendly local I'm-in-charge-here admin doesn't understand WP:PGBOLD, and thus decrees that even the most minute changes must be laboriously hashed out here on the talk page.
I'm fine with your wording. Now, if we were doing this the normal way, I would have made my original change, and then you would have come in and made your change on top of it, with an edit summary like, "How about this? -- not sure we need to bother to say it's made from a sock". Then probably no one would make any more edits, and everyone would be happy and the page would be better. Instead, because of your useful suggestion, our friendly local I'm-in-charge-here-admin will say we have to start over again.
So here's the wording:
The term comes from sock puppet, a puppet made from a sock and worn on the hand to create a character to entertain or inform.
Now, to establish consensus, let's take inventory. You're here, I'm here, and we know BU Rob is watching. That leaves only NE Ent, who I hope will come and same us from this little purgatory. EEng 12:32, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I have no opinion on the edits or the percentage. Generally, I agree with Bbb because they usually make sense. If you were edit warring, my dear EEng, well, a warning is fair; I don't think it equates to an arrogant lecture or something like that. I can't look at all the facts and reverts and discussions and all, since I'm about to make like a baby and head out. But let's not edit war please. It's a beautiful day, though a bit warm for my taste. Drmies (talk) 15:45, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
While I appreciate your dropping by, if you don't have time to look at the merits then your comment would have been more evenhanded had it said, "If you were edit warring, my dear EEng, well, a warning is fair; and if you were being a WP:PRICK, dear Bbb, then stop being a prick." Giving one of you colleagues a blind free pass because they "usually" make sense is the kind of enabling that the 3% of PRICK admins survives on. EEng 17:02, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I want to clarify where we are now, the history of the change Eeng wants to the policy, and my position on the current change. The caption of the picture now says, "The origin of the term "sock puppet" is a type of toy puppet." The proposed new language is not too far above here on this page. The original change made to the policy by EEng was, "Before Wikipedia made them naughty, a "sock puppet" was an innocent toy puppet." ([7]) My problem with the current language is the phrase "to create a character to entertain or inform", although if we were going to change the caption at all, I'd change the first part just from an English standpoint. The reason I object to it is that on Wikipedia a sock puppet is a bad thing. I spend a huge amount of time at SPI checking and blocking socks. I'm one of those who enforces this policy. Even if at one time a sock puppet was just a kind of puppet, I don't want a reader of the policy coming away amused by the term or thinking that somehow a sock account is created to entertain or inform. Maybe experienced editors would not draw that conclusion, but policies are written for all Wikipedians, and that includes newbies and those with less experience. Indeed, there are even experienced editors who have never filed a report at SPI and confess to not understanding how it all works. That's the important part of my objection. Less important, although it is probably true that generally puppets entertain, some puppets are benign, and some puppets are malicious. There are many kinds of humor. I have no idea where "to inform" comes from. BTW, I wouldn't oppose removing the image altogether, although I wouldn't replace it with a lamb chop.Face-smile.svg I also object procedurally and substantively to a consensus being declared based on this discussion. A change like this requires at a minimum an advertised RfC, and I don't buy that this is a cosmetic change.--Bbb23 (talk) 20:21, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
    • @Bbb23: I appreciate your comment. How about this for the language of the caption: "At one time, sock puppets were innocent toy puppets. On Wikipedia, they're a disruptive nuisance." This maintains a bit of levity on an amusing picture while making it very clear that sockpuppets are unacceptable. Is this a compromise we can all work with? As for the desire for an RfC, that's too bureaucratic for my tastes on a change that really is cosmetic; the change doesn't alter how any editor would action based on the way the policy is written. It doesn't change the substance of the policy. If you believe otherwise, could you provide an example from the changes that would alter how you go about your role at SPI (or how another editor would reasonably go about theirs)? ~ RobTalk 20:29, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
      • The original change made by EEng was to amuse. Policies are not intended to be amusing. There is nothing amusing about sock puppetry. Also, there's absolutely no reason to make the change at all. Your proposed change suffers from the same flaws, despite the replacement of "naughty" by "disruptive nuisance", neither one of which is strong enough. There are a lot of different kinds of socks at Wikipedia, and some of them could be considered "playful", sort of impish. That doesn't stop them from being disruptive; nor does it stop them from taking up community resources. These changes would please many socks. Is that what our goal is? And to the extent that's what it does, it is not cosmetic. A cosmetic change to the current caption might be "The term "sock puppet" is a type of toy puppet." Which is shorter and better English. If someone wanted to make that change, I wouldn't object, but if I did, an RfC would not be required.--Bbb23 (talk) 20:47, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
The cluelessness on display here is astounding. Sure, the purpose of a policy is not amusement, but that doesn't mean amusement is not an appropriate (and often very effective) aid to communication and understanding, even in serious situations. (Paging Softlavender.) Perhaps you missed the quote in my earlier post:
One should beware of those who cannot or will not laugh when others are merry, for if not mentally defective they are spiteful, selfish or abnormally conceited ... Great men of all nations and of all times have possessed a keen appreciation of the ridiculous, as wisdom and wit are closely allied.
By your narrow reasoning, we may as well say that since the purpose of a policy is not to educate, anything that educates the reader should be banished. It's stupid and vacuous, and you've wasted a huge amount of editor time with your highhanded and arrogant insistence on imposing your hidebound misunderstanding of both Wikipedia and the world in general on the rest of us.
Your idea that an RfC would be appropriate here is beyond absurd. A few more admins like you on the job and Wikipedia would be another Citizendium. EEng 22:12, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • How about we just remove the whole section? We have an article Sockpuppet (Internet) explains the Internet usage more than adequately (and if it doesn't, we can go edit that). NE Ent 21:30, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • ^^ I was sort of wondering this, too. We already define sock puppetry in the only context relevant to this policy. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 21:43, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • It's amazing to me that we're discussing something and without having reached any consensus, one of the editors just goes in and changes it. That said, I have no problem with the changes except the linking to the Internet page, which is not policy and is better off where it is, in the See also. I made that change given that so many think we can just change things without talking about them sufficiently.--Bbb23 (talk) 21:56, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
Seeing NE Ent's change, which is more easily understood in situ than via an attempt to describe it in advance, I support it, and it looks like others do too. I see you haven't blindly and reflexively reverted, but built on others' changes, so maybe at long last you're learning how things are done here. Welcome to Wikipedia. EEng 22:12, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
  • This one last piece of NE Ent's change is worse than anything else that has been "proposed". I'm also very tired of the relentless personal attacks by EEng. If they were attacking another editor the way they've been attacking me, I would have long ago warned them and then blocked them if they didn't cease. I'm pinging other members of the SPI team: @Vanjagenije: @DeltaQuad: @DoRD: @Ponyo: @Mike V: --Bbb23 (talk) 23:05, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
If you're tired of it, stop behaving that way. It's been repeatedly explained, and not just by me, that your blind, no-engagement reverting is contrary to policy, and you've just ignored that and kept it up -- if you weren't an admin you'd have been blocked for it. Mixing in your admin status to gain the upper hand just makes it worse. EEng 00:18, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
    • The pinging is not really kosher (borders on canvassing), but in any event, I requested page protection before I saw your latest message, as I probably should have done over a week ago. ~ RobTalk 23:09, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

Link to article[edit]

Sockpuppet (Internet) is already linked in the "See also" section. NE Ent 22:58, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

I don't know why linking is controversial. We link to many articles from policies if there's a concept that someone might want to explore beyond that which is directly relevant to the policy. Linking to the article is a more direct replacement to the sentences that were there. If it's in see also, too, I'm sure we can figure out a way to reconcile the two.
I have to say, with all due respect to the parties involved, this whole thing might qualify for WP:LEW (although, to be clear, it's not my intention to trivialize the interpersonal and procedural issues in play -- my homeowner's insurance rates for my glass house are high enough as it is). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 23:16, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
Well, at least I don't have to edit a section called "Continued obstruction". There's nothing wrong with linking per se. It's the placement of this particular link. By wikilinking "sock puppetry" we literally define the policy by linking to an ordinary article. As for the See also, that's one of the points I made in my edit summary. The See also is a good place for it to be. It refers editors to something that may be of interest to them.--Bbb23 (talk) 23:31, 26 May 2016 (UTC)
"Well, at least I don't have to edit a section called 'Continued obstruction'" -- truth hurts, doesn't it? Linking to articles doesn't make the article part of the policy -- it's done all the time, even elsewhere on this page. EEng 00:18, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
Two of the three lines immediately following the disputed link, in fact. I would understand the argument that the first [boldtext] instance of the term shouldn't be linked, but not that it shouldn't be linked in the text at all. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 00:23, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
OK, I just saw the latest version and I'm fine with it. As for the linking, I think it should stay in the "See Also" section. Considering that the policy basically defines Sockpuppetry (in the context of Wikipedia), I would be uncomfortable linking to another (competing) definition in the main policy text itself. I am generally OK with linking, but this is a sensitive technical policy, so I prefer to err on the side of caution. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 10:05, 27 May 2016 (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.

New legitimate use[edit]

In light of this ANI discussion I'd like to propose an addition to the "Legitimate uses" section:

Teaching: Teachers may, for the purpose of supervising students in a WP:Education program-approved project, create a new account which is not explicitly connected to any personal account they may have, but in doing so they should not misrepresent the extent of their previous experience or their knowledge of Wikipedia's policies and guidelines. If, however, the previous account has made conflict of interest-type edits, the previous account should be abandoned, although a new personal account can be created, as long as no COI edits are made with the new personal account.

Adjustments, fixes, etc. welcome. BMK (talk) 16:17, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

Educators (and anyone who does something with Wikipedia outside of just editing) having separate accounts is pretty common practice already. We allow it under "Designated roles", "Privacy", and/or "Training" in the existing list. I've not seen it be too controversial before, although I don't doubt that it would be (and/or has been) if people used both accounts in a way that isn't permitted under this policy.
Some questions/comments about the proposed language:
  • It's recommended, but not an absolute requirement to disclose your primary account for most of these legitimate reasons, so "create a new account which is not explicitly connected to any personal account they may have" stands out as unusual. Is this addition intended to be inapplicable to those who do explicitly connect accounts?
  • "but in doing so they should not misrepresent the extent of their previous experience or their knowledge of Wikipedia's policies and guidelines" - If they're using the account to avoid scrutiny, circumvent policy, or pose as a neutral commentator, that's already disallowed under WP:ILLEGIT. What other reasons would someone have to misrepresent their experience that wouldn't be permissible under legitimate reasons like privacy?
  • I don't understand the COI line at all, honestly (the motivation or the meaning). I read that as "if your non-teaching account made COI edits, then create a new non-teaching account", but I really doubt that's what you mean.
In general, I support teachers being explicitly mentioned here, but this seems more involved than necessary. Something like:
  • "Teaching: Teachers who incorporate Wikipedia into their classes may create an account for the purpose of supervising students. Use of the account should be limited to articles and other pages directly related to students and classwork." — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:00, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
Disclosure: I have a teaching account and work for the Wiki Education Foundation, but I'm commenting in a volunteer capacity. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 15:04, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
I'd support this being added here. I asked many years ago (in 2010) for a separate account to use for teaching and was told I couldn't. I know we've changed that policy since, but I think it needs to be reflected here. It's best for educators to be able to separate hobby accounts from those used in their job. Victoria (tk) 20:04, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
Rhododendrites' simplified version is fine with me. BMK (talk) 20:18, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
I just went ahead and added it. If this discussion yields a preference for a more elaborate version with more caveats/qualifiers, it can always be changed. I just tacked it onto the bottom as it doesn't seem like the section is carefully organized (i.e. because I didn't see an obvious place for it). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 20:24, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'm unclear on why we have the "Legitimate uses" section that attempts to list all potential valid uses at all. We could replace the whole section with the following text with no substantive change in meaning:
"Alternative accounts have legitimate uses. For various reasons, editors may find it desirable to conduct certain types of edits from an alternative account. These accounts are not necessarily sockpuppets. It is the responsibility of editors using multiple accounts to ensure they are not violating this policy. Legitimate alternative accounts generally meet most or all of the following criteria:
  1. Transparency: Unless using an alternative account for privacy, alternative accounts should usually be clearly linked to the main account. Both the user pages of the main account and alternative account should acknowledge the connection. Alternative accounts should never be used to avoid scrutiny or deceive the community.
  2. Mutual exclusivity: An alternative account should usually not be used to edit in the same area as a main account. Alternative accounts should never be used to participate in the same discussion more than once or gain the upper hand in a dispute.
  3. Clearly defined purpose: Almost all editors are expected to edit from a single account. Alternative accounts should have a clearly defined purpose, such as addressing issues of security or privacy. Some editors also use alternative accounts to make edits as part of a designated role (WMF staff, teacher, etc)."
Isn't that a lot simpler than trying to exhaustively list all potential uses of alternative accounts? None of those "legitimate uses" make an account legitimate. It's always the transparency and mutual exclusivity (and, to a lesser extent, the clearly defined purpose). ~ RobTalk 20:25, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
That's not a bad idea. The problem with having sections for "legitimate" and "illegitimate" is that for them to work effectively the two sections would have to add up to cover every possible use of an alternative account. Worth considering.
Before I read that, I did some copyediting/reorganizing of the "legitimate uses" section. Was going to outline what I did, but it's really just little stuff that I don't think will be controversial. Trimmed some excess detail in a couple places, linked to some policies, grouped some things together, etc. One thing I noticed is that "humor accounts" seriously needs more guidance. All it says is, basically, "you can create humor accounts". Doesn't even say they need to be linked to the main account or specify whether they should be editing articles. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 21:50, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
Obviously, the problem with a list is that some legitimate uses will get left off and the list will have to be amended. On the other hand, the problem with attempting to characterize by definition what is and isn't a legitimate use is that it can lead to Wikilawyering, and to continual redefinition as consensus discussions about particular instances pop up. I don't object to BU Rob13's suggestion on its merits, but I think it's much simpler and cleaner to list what is allowed. Then the perspective alternate account user isn't required to parse definitions, he or she just runs their finger down the list to see if their intended use is covered. BMK (talk) 22:32, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

Can i suggest a new and very simple reason why a contributor might appear to have multiple accounts - s/he might have suffered technical problems? I used to contribute under the name ACEOREVIVED, but now I use the name Vorbee (I have made it clear that we are the same person). For a long time I was off the web, as I needed a new router. I think technical problems could well turn out to be a very common reason why some who used to use one username might set up a new one, given the high number of people who like to edit Wikipedia.Vorbee (talk) 19:57, 16 June 2016 (UTC)

Sock puppetry implications[edit]

My slight reword of the lead was reverted for apparently not being an 'improvement'. The current wording is that sockpuppetry is likely to lead to a ban and the release of personal information. This is simply not true. Such information is released only in cases of long-term abuse; and editors are only banned for persistently or particularly egregious behaviour. I suggest that my edit be reinstated. Izkala (talk) 12:45, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

It's correct the previous wording wasn't correct. In general, the more succinct a policy page the better (see WP:BECONCISE). I've taken a stab at incorporating the suggested edits. NE Ent 12:58, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
LGTM. Izkala (talk) 13:04, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
@NE Ent: I would disagree with this removal. While in almost all circumstances we wouldn't connect an account to an IP, we would connect all the related accounts publicly. Sockpuppetry often occurs across projects and we frequently use the results from one project to assist another. IP addresses are provided to other checkusers/stewards in a private manner. Mike VTalk 16:40, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
The removal included the phrase "on-project," which to me implies not private. NE Ent 16:44, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
That's just strictly from the checkuser end. However, an account could certainly be linked to an IP address based upon on-wiki behavioral evidence. I think the policy should inform the user that if they have an account and edit while logged out, they do run the risk of their IP being connected. Mike VTalk 16:48, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
Fair enough, I put it back in. NE Ent 16:54, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
How can the phrase 'on-project exposure' be possibly understood to mean the private sharing of information between CheckUsers? Izkala (talk) 17:12, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
It doesn't. It means user account and IP addresses may be connected based on behavioral evidence; i.e. evern though a CheckUser won't say "John Doe" and "1.2.3.4" are technically linked, a SPI clerk may conclude they're linked based on editing patterns. NE Ent 17:32, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, I've probably misinterpreted Mike's comment above. Izkala (talk) 17:36, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
This looks resolved, but for what it's worth, I'm in favor of a "generous" explanation of potential consequences, even if it's worded a bit awkwardly when compared to standard practice. The reason we list consequences here is presumably to deter potential sockpuppeteers, since there are more specific pages dedicated to the appropriate use of CheckUser. If we over-sell a bit and cause one extra person to forego sockpuppetry, I don't see that as a bad thing. ~ RobTalk 18:02, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

Suggested change: socking to evade blocks and bans[edit]

As it stands, the policy does not categorically state that using socks to evade blocks or bans are not allowed. Therefore I suggest we add the following example to the "Inappropriate uses of alternative accounts" section:

Evading blocks or bans: Editors must not use alternate accounts, or IP accounts, to evade blocks or bans. Only appeals to blocks or site bans are allowed, and must be made from the blocked or site-banned account.

Any views? --Jules (Mrjulesd) 11:37, 21 June 2016 (UTC)

  • Circumventing policies or sanctions covers this. ~ RobTalk 17:24, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree - this is covered by the existing wording. ​—DoRD (talk)​ 17:38, 21 June 2016 (UTC)

IP Socking[edit]

I've got a problem with an IP editor who has edited pages numerous times using different IP addresses. However, he does have a main IP address that he mostly uses. The most recent problem is that he edited a page and the edit got reverted. Through different IP addresses (mostly in the same IP range), he continued to revert others' reverts of his edit. When the issue came up on the article's talk page concerning consensus on the issue (his multiple IPs hadn't been discovered yet), he again reverted article page, claiming that multiple editors' (his other IP addresses') reverts of legitimate reverts of his edit were consensus enough. My question is: Does this count as suckpuppetry? As I said, he has one main IP address and multiple other IPs he's only used once. -- Gestrid (talk) 20:45, 23 June 2016 (UTC)

Per WP:ILLEGIT and WP:LOGOUT, it certainly does count as sockpuppetry (and "suckpuppetry" too, LOL); he was using multiple IPs to mislead and edit war. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:00, 23 June 2016 (UTC)
Suckpuppetry?? BRUTAL!! Martinevans123 (talk) 21:45, 23 June 2016 (UTC) don't worry only 1:43 of your life that you'll never get back...
Thank you. I've reported the IP user. -- Gestrid (talk) 23:59, 23 June 2016 (UTC)

The contemporaneity attribute about closely related accounts[edit]

Here.. Specifically the second paragraph is about users not sharing the same exact IP, thus judged "closely related". The first statement says: "Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives.".. but I suggest to add "at the same time" at the end. Otherwise it's like stating that although two real life friends with a close IP address and sharing the same opinion yet respecting the meatpuppetry behavioral guideline (they are not supporting each other to affect consesus building process) are liable of meatpuppetry. 87.3.91.38 (talk) 20:07, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

What I mean is that, two (or even more) real life friends may live close to each other and/or have the same ISP resulting in "closely related" accounts yet sharing the same view out of real neutrality. So, considered that:
  • although consensus is not about democracy, the latter often and rightfully integrates it and these means that "closely related accounts" are recognized as potentially having a great impact on the consensus building process
  • these also mean that two (or more) real life friends may either want to:
    • disclose the fact to a CheckUser as suggested, but then fearing reasonable accusations of meatpuppetry/sockpuppetry since anyone involved in the discussion may know by checking their User pages (where they are advised to disclose their connection) or, since consensus building can often be controversial, anyone involved may request a CheckUser to disclose the relation between two users (or more) with same POV and arguments (when all they've done was just to propose their POV according to policies), and reasonably use the CheckUser result (undeclared on their User pages as advised) to belittle their weight in the consensus building discussion by accusing them of potential meatpuppetry/sockpuppetry
    • not to disclose the fact to a CheckUser, to preserve the chance of accusations of potential sockpuppetry and/or meatpuppetry, thus preserving their right to have weight as anybody else does
So I'm advising that in such cases where two (or more) real life friends (living close to each other if not sharing the same exact connection) supporting the same POV, but in different phases of the consensus building process, they shouldn't be liable of meatpuppetry because they are not violating the basic rule about WP:MEAT which is "don't support each other to affect consensus. In my opinion, if these real life friends share the same connection but are not willing to violate WP:MEAT, yet they want to avoid their POV being belittled, they should be given such a chance, thus it should be stated.
If you're wondering about WP:GOODFAITH in accepting the chance that real life friends are not partecipating out of pure neutrality, I would say it really isn't about that, because even if these real life friends would previously disclose the connection between their accounts to a CheckUser you would still have to assume they really are two different persons. This I would say, is why it's so important to add the contemporaneity attribute.
In simple words, I suggest that if "closely related" accounts are supporting the same POV, even if with the same arguments as happened in an older debate, IF the old debate is considered to have reached consensus, they should not be liable of meatpuppetry (unless they both support each other in the new debate obviously). We just have to define how much time must have passed for a debate to be considered closed: possibly it could depend on a sort of admins' "framed discretionality" - framed in the sense that we should define a set timeframe (not less than - not more than), or maybe the time should be a function of the time the older debate took toreach consensus. I don't know.
I'm sure, just as me, you must have read somewhere that consensus evolves, and that even policies can evolve to reflect consensus. This is also about ensuring that consensus is free to evolve, nonetheless from real life collective neutral debates, which sounds very good to me. Doesn't it? 87.7.119.130 (talk) 08:07, 26 June 2016 (UTC)