Wikipedia talk:Sock puppetry/Archive 14

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Archive 13 Archive 14 Archive 15

Editing while logged out

About the section: Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry#Editing_while_logged_out which I will copy here for convenience

There is no policy against editing while logged out. This happens for many reasons, including not noticing that the login session had expired, changing computers, going to a Wikipedia page directly from a link, and forgetting passwords. Editors who are not logged in must not actively try to deceive other editors, such as by directly saying that they do not have an account or by using the session for the inappropriate uses of alternate accounts listed earlier in this policy. To protect their privacy, editors who are editing while logged out are never required to disclose their usernames on-wiki.

I noticed that this was added by WhatamIdoing who noted the addition here on talk, in this section. For clarity, what is the concern behind the sentence "To protect their privacy, editors who are editing while logged out are never required to disclose their usernames on-wiki." and how is this meant to play out in real life on a Talk page, especially related to the sentence just before it?

Example: UserX does a lot of editing and talking on page A, and an IP editor shows up whose edits are very similar. UserY notices this similarity, and .... what? In light of that last sentence, which i just quoted, what is it OK for UserY to ask the IP, and what is the IP obligated to reply if they are UserX?

Thanks Jytdog (talk) 19:44, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

The editor (neither as the IP, nor while logged in later) is never obligated to tell anyone that the username is associated with a now-public IP address. It would be morally preferable to ignore the question rather than lying, but seriously: never means never. Some people edit from fixed IP addresses, and disclosing their location means handing out their home or work addresses to every crazy person on the internet. We've had editors stalked from this kind of information, and some of it's pretty scary (like a telephone call that "just happens" to mention the names of the editor's kids and which schools they attend).
There is no formal prohibition on asking once. Such a request should never misrepresent policies, e.g., by claiming that the IP is required to answer such a question. Repeating the request or insisting upon an answer may constitute harassment.
However, my recommendation is that you don't even ask (on wiki). The typical motivation for doing so is to discredit the IP's comments, which generally isn't helpful, much less necessary. Most experienced editors will recognize that situation for what it is even if nobody says a word. If you've got someone skating on the edge of topic ban issues (or similar), then you should quietly send an e-mail message to a checkuser instead. Otherwise, it can be ignored.
A middle ground might be a friendly note to tell the IP that if s/he's accidentally logged out and doesn't want the IP address exposed, then Wikipedia:Requests for oversight is available. For greater safety, if the logged-in editor has e-mail enabled, you could e-mail that friendly note instead of posting it on wiki. WhatamIdoing (talk) 08:11, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I hear that. So, if you suspect that an IP editor is a person with an account who is actually socking (e.g avoiding scrutiny or attemping to multiply their voice), what is the best thing to do? Just not ask at all (which seems to be what you are saying is best) but rather go right to SPI and present the diffs that show why you think that? I generally do prefer to talk things out with editors who are acting in a problematic way on their talk page but based on what you are saying that is really suboptimal here. Emailing checkusers and the like seems complicated and too personal. I think it would be useful to add a practical advice section here, especially due to the sensitivity. Jytdog (talk) 08:28, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Sending an e-mail message to checkusers (or a relevant admin, if one is already involved) is the recommended procedure whenever IP issues crop up. SPI won't accept public requests to connect an IP to a username anyway, so private requests are the only way to do it.
As tempting as it is to talk it out in public, that can (sometimes) be a significant problem. For "avoiding scrutiny" issues, I'd recommend contacting CU or admins privately; for "multiplying voice" problems, I'd either leave it alone (most of us will assume that the IP is the same editor), or if it looks like a potential problem (e.g., an inexperienced NAC is closing an RFC), then contacting others involved might be appropriate. To the extent that it's feasible, please try to keep it either private or low-key. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:21, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for replying. But you wrote "SPI won't accept public requests to connect an IP to a username anyway, so private requests are the only way to do it" and this appears to be untrue - many of the cases there a) are still in the record and b) ended with blocks. So I don't understand where you are coming from with regard to actual practice at SPI. My question remains very open and I am looking for an answer that makes sense in light of privacy concerns and what we actually do here. Jytdog (talk) 17:34, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing do you have anything further to say on this? If not, I will try to elicit responses from more folks, maybe over at the harassment Talk page... Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 13:06, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
OK, I will open a discussion at talk:Harassment about this. Jytdog (talk) 20:11, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
done, here. Jytdog (talk) 21:24, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
@Jytdog: I'm guessing WhatamIdoing meant that public requests for a CheckUser to connect an IP and an account are not accepted. Behavioural evidence alone can be assessed and blocks made. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 02:24, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks Callanecc. That completely makes sense. What is your advice about the scenario I posed above? Go to SPI or ask the person directly? Jytdog (talk) 02:28, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
If it's obvious go straight to SPI. Otherwise leave the IP a message reminding them about the policy (for example Template:Uw-login). Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 02:47, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

───────────────────────── I think it would be useful to add, then: "If you have concerns that an IP editor is actually a user with an account who is editing while logged out in a way that is an inappropriate use of alternate accounts listed earlier in this policy, you should give the IP editor notice of this policy, and if the behavior continues, you should present a case at WP:SPI" How is that? Jytdog (talk) 02:57, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

Hows this, pretty much the same but with a few little changes: "If you have concerns that an IP editor is actually a user with an account who is editing while logged out in a way that is an inappropriate use of alternate accounts listed earlier in this policy, you should give the IP editor notice of this policy (templated notice), and if the behavior continues, you should present a case at WP:SPI (without requesting CheckUser evidence")? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 03:22, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Way way better. I am good with that. Shall we let this sit a bit and see if others have ideas or are OK with it? Thanks! Jytdog (talk) 03:24, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
I closed the discussion I opened at WT:OUTING and directed folks back here. Jytdog (talk) 03:30, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Sorry I've just seen this. I'd actually prefer editors contact a checkuser directly privately first. This allows for 1) The checkuser to investigate if it's a sock, instead of a legitimate user 2) It saves the person from feeling presured to identify themselves at the SPI, or be identified if a block comes in 3) Checkusers can leave public warnings about logged out editing without revealing the IP, or even outright block them. Please exucse me if this doesn't make sense, I am a little tired right now. -- Amanda (aka DQ) 05:00, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Is there anyway we could reword the first sentence? It seems over inclusive as there are some prohibited forms of logged out editing. -- Amanda (aka DQ) 05:00, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

How's this:

  1. Change There is no policy against editing while logged out. to Editing logged out of one's account is permitted as the IP address(es) is not used inappropriately. Logged out editing happens for many reasons ...
  2. Add as a paragraph after the current one in the Editing while logged out section: If you have concerns that an IP editor is actually a user with an account who is editing while logged out in a way that is inappropriate, you can give the IP editor notice of this policy (templated notice), and if the behavior continues, you should contact a CheckUser privately and present evidence to them.

@DeltaQuad and Jytdog:? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 05:45, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

I didn't know there is a list of checkusers at WP:CheckUser. Shows what you I know. :) Maybe a note that there is actually a list, and that CUs are OK with being emailed or something, although I guess if policy says it, it must be OK. Hm. I just avoid burdening people with burdensome jobs with more stuff when i can. Anyway it seems the two of you have this well in hand and I will bow to your judgement. Thanks so much for your attention to this. This issue came up three times for me recently and one of them was a big ugly mess. it will be great to have clarity on this. Jytdog (talk) 05:52, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
The link to contacting a CU should help. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 06:27, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes perfect. I am good waiting a bit to see if there is more input but if you want to implement have at it, of course. thanks again. Jytdog (talk) 06:39, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
I came here from the discussion at WT:HA. Please let me suggest two more things about the revisions:
  1. I think it would be clearer if the last sentence of the existing paragraph were changed from: To protect their privacy, editors who are editing while logged out are never required to disclose their usernames on-wiki. to: To protect their privacy, editors who have edited while logged out are never required to connect their usernames to their IP addresses on-wiki. I think that's what it really means, and after all, the right does not go away after one has stopped editing while logged out, which is what "editors who are editing logged out" sounds like.
  2. Just a minor nitpick with Callanecc's #1: Editing while logged out of one's account is permitted as long as the IP address(es) is not used inappropriately. Logged out editing happens for many reasons....
In addition, I have a question about the Uw-login template (which I just learned about here, in fact). I noticed that Callanecc's language was quite precise about using the template to notify the IP user, which makes sense, because that way one does not link the IP to a username. But my question is whether there is any policy or guidance about whether or not to send the template notice to the registered account instead (and if not, should there be)? Thanks. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:04, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
I really like Tryptofish's first suggestion.
My main concern with "as long as the IP address is not used inappropriately" is that we have a few editors that will probably interpret all edits by people who are accidentally logged out (and not agreeing with said editors) as "inappropriate". AGF might be a guideline, but if you accidentally get logged out, then you're "Creating an illusion of support" and "Contributing to the same page or discussion with multiple accounts" and probably even "Editing logged out to mislead" – and if the dispute isn't on an article's talk page, then I can charge you with "Editing project space", too. Consequently, I think it's helpful to make a stronger statement, much closer to "There is no policy against editing while logged out." There is a policy against editing while logged out and doing something that is prohibited if you were logged into a different account, but there is no actual policy against (simply) editing while logged out. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:13, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. And about the main point you made, you put your finger on something that was making me uncomfortable as well, but that I didn't quite identify until now. Given that there is no policy against it, overall, but there is a violation under certain circumstances, and those circumstances are explained two sentences later, how about: There is no policy against editing while logged out per se., with "per se" added at the end? --Tryptofish (talk) 23:24, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
I think that per se would be an important clarification. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:54, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks! And two questions to everyone: Are we pretty much in agreement about the revisions at this point? And again, I'm interested in an answer to my earlier question, about the Uw-login template. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:07, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
i'm good. this was very helpful to me at least. thanks everyone. Jytdog (talk) 21:15, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
I've implemented it on the page. Other editors may want to double-check my edit. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:18, 2 March 2016 (UTC)

───────────────────────── yes you did. thanks again, all. Jytdog (talk) 01:20, 2 March 2016 (UTC)

Clarification of WP:FAMILY?

There was a use of WP:FAMILY over at ANI recently that raises some concerns re: institutional sexism. Namely, the implication that if Editor X and Editor Y happen to be married, Editor Y's opinion in the same discussion might be discounted. While I'm not sure that was the intent of the use of WP:FAMILY at ANI, the way the section is written, it could reasonably give rise to such an interpretation. I would suggest that we clarify how WP:FAMILY works. Namely, I think its main application is to short-circuit the argument by a sockpuppeteer that an account that was identified as a sock was just that editor's "little brother" (or something else non-credible). I think it's pretty clear that this policy isn't intended to discount the opinion of one of a pair of established editors whose living arrangements just so happen to mean that they might communicate off-wiki very often. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 02:54, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

I agree, the situation there has been raised for a few other users, basically that if they happen to be significant others, then they are meatpuppets at best and virtually the same user at worst. We would not have this situation for, as an example, adult siblings living at opposite ends of the country. Specifically, the remark, Obviously consensus can change, but two to three folks and a spouse aren't very much of a consensus. was not appropriate. Here, the language Closely connected users may be considered a single user for Wikipedia's purposes if they edit with the same objectives. is problematic. We need to acknowledge that spouses and other people who might share an IP (such as college dorm roomates or co-workers) need to be treated as equal users... if they tag-team or violate policy, people who can talk across a room are no different from people who organize privately on an off-wiki system. I'd suggest just asking that people with shared IPs add a simple tag, not unlike that used for SOCKLEGIT or doppleganger accounts. Montanabw(talk) 03:06, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, absolutely. Like I suggested above, the likely reason for this policy was to prevent a CU-caught sock from just claiming to be a relative to avoid a block. That's a very different situation from established editors who have openly stated they have a connection. As much as drawing distinctions in policy for established editors annoys me, this is a situation where editor reputation and credibility must play a role. In any event, I think the short-term answer is to edit WP:FAMILY to clarify that treating two editors as the same person is intended only as a way not to give a caught sock the benefit of the doubt when he or she claims just to be someone related, and is not an argument to be thrown at declared relatives/spouses/roommates. This policy flat out wasn't designed to address suspicions of meatpuppetry or offline "canvassing" of one's spouse/relatives/friends. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 06:58, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
Let's put up some proposed wording. Montanabw(talk) 05:30, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

What about editors who often edit in contentious areas or get into arguments or engage in edit warring, and decide that having an extra account to help them in such arguments would be a good idea? I think this gives them the right to 6RR if they create an extra account and declare it to be their spouse or significant other or some other relation. MPS1992 (talk) 20:55, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

That's the "my little brother did it" argument, and obvious creation of a new extra account raises sockpullet flags, that's not the point here. The point is that REAL users are being treated like dirt if they edit from the same IP address and in particular, this policy was used to dismiss and belittle a long-time editor. Montanabw(talk) 04:37, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

Sexist, discriminatory language in WP:FAMILY

  • "Closely connected users may be considered a single user" Wow. I mean just Wow. This is the 21st century, or it's supposed to be, anyhow. Wikipedia is also struggling with gender bias in coverage, etc. And you want such sexist, discriminatory language – here on a WP:POLICY page, no less? Are you saying that married female editors are less than one editor? That their husband's voices are heard and counted, but their voice and their thoughts are just tamped down into silence? I do hope this is merely an awkward misphrasing. Did you mean to write, perhaps, "Closely connected users may appear to be a single user in some contexts, or something similar? I mean, the remainder of the section is about declaring one's connections... In its current state, I am genuinely troubled by this sexist language.   Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 19:58, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • If the family in question consists of two males married to each other, and one male child, and all three edit Wikipedia, how is this sexist? Does the page mention gender at all? MPS1992 (talk) 20:50, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Does the page mention gender at all? What is sexist about it, as written? MPS1992 (talk) 20:56, 1 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Because our community is largely male, and men have dominated the community for longer, the current language is privileging the editors that are likely to have arrived first: white, highly educated males. In that sense its reinforcing privelage, which is very likely to be in favor of men and harm women. Sadads (talk) 12:58, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Thank you, I do not have much background knowledge in these theories of privilege and, as you put it in your edit summary, "power structures beyond the literal". Do you think, though, that in terms of writing an encyclopedia, supporting and retaining -- and even favouring -- "highly educated" individuals as editors might not be an entirely bad thing? MPS1992 (talk) 13:21, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, highly educated (and privileged to some extent) is probably our "ideal" contributor. But I know featured article writers who don't have bachelors degrees -- so we don't want to unintentionally create language or barriers where individuals are unintentionally marginalized or will self elect from participation -- after all this is the encyclopedia anyone can edit and we ought to be judging the accounts on contributions not their social connections to others. This is a Intersectional identities further complicate this conversation: historically marginalized communities, like women and African Americans may have qualifications but don't fit the ideal "model" for participation, further complicate our ability to recruit all levels of education from these groups because they don't have the same type socialization in the "be bold" culture that comes with white educated, male privilege -- so frequently will not defend themselves as is normal in combative educated/masculine communities or when they do, get called out for being too aggressive (think Gamergate type "aggressive bitch" comments, but in all ranges of overt to passive criticism). If we want the people that are qualified from those communities, we have to be careful not to unintentionally create policies which either work against their own confidence, or can be accidentally used against them in policy debates -- every micro aggression creates self doubt, which will often catalyze exit or marginalization within the community. I am going to do the tweak mentioned by Lingzhi, and a couple other language tweaks in light of that. In general, the best thing to do when someone gets angry about "sexism" or "racism" is to listen, and try to figure out what the root of that concern is so that you can help find a solution, Sadads (talk) 16:05, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Sadads, I'm sure you didn't intend this, but your post above makes it sound as though white men = highly educated; women and African Americans = probably less so. In fact, highly educated men on Wikipedia tend to be among the less aggressive, so the link between white men and education is misleading, as is the link between education and aggression. SarahSV (talk) 00:10, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
  • @Slimvirgin: -- Oops, that was totally not my intention -- tweaked to better reflect what I mean to focus on -- that was not intentional by any means, Sadads (talk) 12:54, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, that is what I am trying to do. I am grateful that you took the time to answer my questions and helped me to gain a little more understanding of the reasons for the rather surprising comments above. MPS1992 (talk) 16:19, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Awesome MPS1992: I think what your initial questions in this conversation did was suggest you were trying to disprove the case of Lingzhi, rather than demonstrating that you were listening. Inquiries to better understand a perceived bias, should start with some type of acknowledgement that the author has a valid personal opinion -- so that you communicate that you are trying to be empathetic (for example, "I am sorry that you feel that way, but I am not sure if I understand what you mean by sexism. Can you explain...." ). Frequently counterfactual questions like the one you started with are used to attack marginalized people when they question the status quo, rather than to understand the position of those people. Bringing yourself into the conversation and acknowledging their opinion as valid, helps soften the challenge of communicating about marginalized communities (something that is particularly hard to do in written communications). Keep asking questions and opening conversations! Sadads (talk) 16:33, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • I am certainly NOT here "to attack marginalized people". Maybe you should be "listening" better, rather than trying to marginalize me! Counterfactual assertions like the ones used by the OP here, and likewise their dismissive reply to my first question, do not help the situation in any way, and I have only so much patience for passive aggressive attacks on me for daring to challenge them. The treatment I've received in this thread is the exact opposite of anything that would encourage me to "keep asking questions and opening conversations". I think you owe me an apology, first, and if you can bring yourself to do that, then please explain what "the case of Lingzhi" is. MPS1992 (talk) 20:42, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • @MPS1992:When I first read your response to Lingzi, I read it as an aggressive attack. I know why Lingzi responded that way they did, and part of me wanted to: its the kind of attack used throughout the internet to reduce the complaints of marginalized voices. I did not mean to imply you were attacking: I engaged with you in this conversation, because I WP:Assumed good faith and hope to mentor you in positive communication -- that both allows you to explore this issue and doesn't mirror the kinds of passive aggressive language and communication found throughout the rest of the internet. I apologize that intention wasn't clear in my feedback (like I said communicating about marginalized communities in written spaces is hard (see my mistake that SlimVirgin identified above)). Because we make mistakes in communicating around these issues, we need to be open to "you used a bad tactic, please consider trying a different strategy". I hope you keep engaging: these are really hard conversations to have with nuance, Sadads (talk) 13:04, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
    • Interesting. When I first read MPS1992's reply, I thought it was a decent reply to someone who appeared to be trying to disrupt Wikipedia to make a point by reading gender discrimination into something that clearly had nothing to do with gender. Anomie 19:30, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • @Lingzhi: Does this this edit help with your concerns? If not, let us know what else we could do to make sure that the language isn't erasing the individuals as individuals. Sadads (talk) 16:15, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Tweaking the policy

  • I reverted the edit made by Sadads. First of all, the policy change needs broader discussion and consensus. Second, the edit is not helpful. I think that you two do not understand the meaning of this policy (the whole sockpuppet issue is overly technical, I know). This policy is intended to prevent people from abusing the system. It is intended to prevent a group of people who are personally connected (in any way: friends, family, co-workers, ...) to team up in discussions and try to push their POV by outnumbering the opposition. This policy is purely technical: you are not allowed to recruit friends and family to join discussion and help you to "win". It has nothing to do with gender or anything similar. It seams to me, from Lingzhi's comments above that they understand this policy aims to prevent women to have their own opinion by considering them a single user with their husband/boyfriend/whatever. But, that is not the meaning of this policy. Two people who are personally connected may freely edit Wikipedia, and express they own opinions as long as they do not try to abuse the system by teaming up to appear as two separate people having the same opinion separately of each other. So, the policy actually has a meaning that is opposite to what Lingzhi said. This policy actually encourages a woman (or any other person) to have their own opinion, and not to join discussion on the side of their friends/family just to help them to push their view. Vanjagenije (talk) 19:40, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

() }@Vanjagenije: What you said all sounds nice and all, really it does, but unfortunately what you said is not what the policy says. All this pleasant discussion has led to exactly zero action, and only action will correct the wrong. Revise the wording to make it crystal clear that WP:FAMILY can NOT be used in debate as a big eraser to cancel out anyone's voice. Period. Ever. Two voices are TWO voices, not ONE. Always. And everywhere. Is that reasonably clear?  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 23:05, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Could you be a little clearer, please? What wrong has occurred? MPS1992 (talk) 23:16, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict)What I wrote is exactly what the policy says. If you do not understand it (or do not want to understand), that is your problem. We should not be changing the text of the policy every time somebody does not understand it. The policy clearly says that "connected users may be considered a single user [...] if they edit with the same objectives. "Same objectives" means that there aren't "two voices", but one voice. Vanjagenije (talk) 23:18, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Then it's discrimination, prima facie, cut and dried. I agree that the section doesn't need to be revised. DELETE. RFC, or just talk page? Whatever is necessary.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 02:14, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Vanjangenije, that "one voice" comment is precisely the problem. That is absolute discrimination. In fact, such a statement may violate US Federal Law. A husband and wife, or parent and child should NOT be invalidated simply for sharing a household. They should disclose if they are editing from the same IP to avoid being labeled sockpuppets, and their connection may go to the weight of their argument, (and this is true of lot of other people who tagteam) but not their right to make it. Montanabw(talk) 04:44, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

This policy is not targeting any gender or group. It does not prevent two people in the same household from editing, it certainly does not favour white males. This whole interpretation seems to involve reading something into the policy that is just not there. HighInBC 05:37, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

    • With all the best intentions, this policy discriminates against married couples, explicitly, openly, and in fact deliberately. I will open an RfC if I can find time....— Preceding unsigned comment added by Lingzhi (talkcontribs) 05:43, 3 April 2016‎ (UTC)
      • I disagree with your interpretation. This policy discriminates on the basis of shared Internet access—nothing more. It doesn't care about what relationship may or may not exist: cohabiting spouses are in the same position as cohabiting unmarried couples, friends sharing housing, or college roommates randomly assigned the same room. I think you're way off base in saying this policy deliberately discriminates against marriage couples when it doesn't discriminate based on marriage at all. Also, this is not an arbitrary policy: it's guided by very serious evidentiary issues. If the language were removed, what's to stop me from abusively socking and, when confronted, claiming that my sock account is actually a spouse, roommate, or child?  Rebbing  06:06, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
        • You folks can disagree all you want, the reality is that this policy is used to discriminate against married people, and dismisses a "spouse" as "one voice" in an editing discussion. Three long-term editors are seriously thinking about quitting wikipedia over this issue. At the very least, the phrasing needs to reflect that the issue is only intended to stop socking and not to tell people in the same house that they are "one voice" in an article debate. That, my friends, is wrong. Montanabw(talk) 01:05, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
          • ^What Montanabw said: it doesn't matter what the intention of the policy see, if it can be used (largely without knowledge of the initial writers's intention) to attack a spouse, and allide 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. Sadads (talk) 13:15, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

Lingzhi - what do you suggest as a replacement? The problem the policy is here to solve us obvious: one person writing "I live in a house with my six brothers who all think the same way", and making six sock puppet accounts that happen to edit alike, and can't be distinguished by CheckUser. What do you propose to replace this?--GRuban (talk) 01:13, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

  • GRuban We might want to close this thread. It's a little redundant, because I started an RfC lower down on this same page to delete or revise that section of the policy.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 01:23, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

Claims of Sock-Puppetry

This discussion is no longer useful.--Bbb23 (talk) 12:26, 25 April 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.

Maybe I am looking right at it and not seeing it. I am aware that the idle allegation of sock-puppetry is a personal attack. Where is that written? I don't see it in this policy, and I don't see it in the personal attacks policy. Am I overlooking it in plain sight? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:41, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

Also, is the statement that there is substantial evidence of sock-puppetry, but not accompanied by the filing of a sock-puppet investigation, permitted, or is an SPI required in order to continue to claim sock-puppetry in talk page discussions? (I am aware that statement is a little non-neutral. If someone wants to reply to a more neutral version of it, they may provide the question and the answer.) Robert McClenon (talk) 17:41, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

I don't see it either, and as one of the people who has been blasted for some sort of vindictiveness (*cough* by Rationalobserver *cough*) when I attempted to determine sockpuppetry prior to filing an SPI; I don't think that it is an AGF violation to raise the question. Actually, I would think that NOT filing an SPI shows more good faith because one does not subject a user to the stigma of having been the subject of a SPI, which, much like an arrest for which someone is later acquitted, is nonetheless a part of a permanent record that never goes away. Montanabw(talk) 17:47, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
I think that I disagree. I think that there should be a statement that a baseless claim of sockpuppetry, like a baseless claim of vandalism, is a personal attack. I agree that filing an SPI isn't consistent with assuming good faith, but neither is questioning in a talk page discussion whether another editor is a sockpuppet. In other words, leave the question of sockpuppetry completely alone until bad faith is clear and until there is enough evidence to file an SPI. I am aware that some editors like to yell "Sockpuppet!" to "win" a content dispute. I just don't think that the question should even be asked unless you are reasonably sure that it will stand up under either the duck test or Checkuser. I think that it should say somewhere that sockpuppetry is a serious allegation, a personal attack on the integrity of the other editor, and should not be made idly. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:41, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
Should this be added to this policy or to the personal attack policy, or what? Do we maybe need an RFC to add to a policy that one should not yell "Sockpuppet!" without justification? Robert McClenon (talk) 20:41, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
It would apply to WP:Harrassment and WP:Casting aspersions which, like NPA, are behavior issues (conduct policies). Atsme📞📧 13:09, 14 April 2016 (UTC)
That said, I think it depends on context. Inquiring if someone might be a sockpuppet may be a better faith approach than filing an SPI. I think saying, "could be viewed as a personal attack," might be reasonable, but I am concerned that making it an open and shut case is going to cause problems at SPI because a lot more borderline cases could wind up being filed. Montanabw(talk) 23:12, 16 April 2016 (UTC)
I say no. There is, in my view, never a time to ask someone whether they are a sockpuppet. If they are a sockpuppet, they will lie, and deny it. So why ask? If they are not a sockpuppet, you have poisoned the dialogue. So don't ask. My own opinion is that, unless you are ready to file the SPI, just leave the issue of sockpuppetry in the background. That is my opinon. Robert McClenon (talk) 16:52, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
It's an essay Lynn (SLW) (talk) 23:39, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

I think it is fine to ask someone if they are a sock puppet, if there is a strong reason to think so. Yes they may lie, but a lot of people have very poor lying skills. HighInBC 17:00, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

If there is "a strong reason to think so" file the SPI. Otherwise, I agree with Robert Mclenon. Unfortunately, for some "strong reason" is simply that they are in conflict with the other editor, and are using the accusation of sock puppetry as a weapon. After my experience, I would encourage anyone who is accused of sockpuppetry to take it to ANI, as a conduct issue of the other editor. At that point it should go to SPI, and if the accusing editor cannot provide valid rationale for making the accusation, there should be some repercussion on the accusing editor. Like a topic ban on the article where the conflict occurred. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 20:51, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Agree / disagree. It's fine to ask someone if they've ever used another account (which is okay, sometimes) but I wouldn't ask if they were a sockpuppet unless I had a strong suspicion they were, in which case I'd be filing an SPI. NE Ent 20:52, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Well I was asked "What other accounts have you edited under?" Despite my answer that I had never edited under any other accounts, within 24 hours I was indeffed, with no talk page access. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 22:00, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Lynn is obviously editing this page. It appears that there was some injustice that has been rectified. There are certain shouts that are commonly used to "win" a dispute, and they include "Vandalism!", "Censorship!", and "Sockpuppet!". I agree that it is all right to ask someone if they have ever used another account, but the right to ask questions stops there unless you have the evidence to go to SPI. I agree that the empty allegation of sockpuppetry should be taken to WP:ANI as a personal attack. (I am sufficiently cynical about WP:ANI that I think that it is likely to be archived inconclusively, but that is better than being silenced with the yell of "Sockpuppet!"). Robert McClenon (talk) 23:01, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Because I edit under my real name, (which made the accusation of sock-puppetry ridiculous) I made an issue of the privacy/libel ramifications of the accusation and block. Otherwise, I probably would have been one of the legions of users who are blocked for no other reason than they are an annoyance to the long-term editors who know how to game the system. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 00:35, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

Spend a little time around the Indian caste articles, for example. You'll regularly see a new editor making exactly the same dysfunctional edits as another editor made some time before. You'll see the regular stewards of the pages asking the question "are you the same editor as xyz?" and getting an answer that makes it clear they are, but they just made a new account for no discernible reason. It saves a lot of effort in collecting diffs and filing an SPI. Sometimes it is sufficient to explain to the editor that they are breaching our policies. It doesn't make sense to me to suggest taking well-respected editors, who volunteer to work in difficult areas, to ANI simply for asking a reasonable question. --RexxS (talk) 16:58, 20 April 2016 (UTC)

It is reasonable if the questioner is asking it with the intent "to explain to the editor that they are breaching our policies" rather than to accuse them of intentionally doing so. I doubt that is often the case. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 17:28, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
I agree that explanation is assuming good-faith far more than accusation. You must feel disappointed that your doubt of other editors' intentions falls so short of assuming the same good faith. --RexxS (talk) 20:18, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
I don't believe my sensibilities are germane to this discussion. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 21:01, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
Ah, but you have made them so. When someone's behavior raises red flags all over the field, but there is an open question, further discussion of the issue is not an attack, it's an attempt to avoid another round of fruitless drama. (Though the effort to do so is often fruitless itself). Bottom line, though, most people blocked for socking would be blocked on each of their individual accounts based on their behavior alone, the SPI process just speeds it up in the future. You got caught up in a net a couple times because your behavior resembled that of two different problematic editors, but you were cleared of socking. You are now on your own to stand or fall based solely on your own actions here. Montanabw(talk) 23:01, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
Your coming onto my talkpage and now here, casting aspersions that my "behavior resembled that of two different problematic editors" is entirely inappropriate. You never had any decent evidence of any resemblance to either editor. What you posted on my talk page was an entirely inaccurate portrayal of what happened, which is why I gave the reaction it deserved, which was to simply delete it. I suggest you retract your statement, and stop this nonsense. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 23:47, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
Not in the least. You opened the door. What you have failed to understand (and probably why you are here) is that people’s behavior can be questioned and it’s not a personal attack or casting aspersions. You have had a lot of issues on WP with collaboration problems and not just with me. That’s not an aspersion, that’s a fact backed up by terrabytes of bandwidth spread across a dozen article talk pages. I also approached your talk page ‘’instead’’ of bringing my comments here. But if you choose not to discuss, then I’ll explain here: I agree that you were not a sockpuppet of either ItsLassieTime or of Rationalobserver (who is now indeffed for behavior, not for socking), I’ve said so a couple times before, and I dropped that stick a year ago. Don’t you think it’s time for you also to drop the stick and move on? Robert is right, you are still editing wikipedia. Count your blessings. Montanabw(talk) 00:37, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Funny how when I try to close a door opened by someone else, you fling yourself against it, slam it wide open, and then say I opened it. That pretty much epitomizes the veracity of everything you say I do. Which completely justifies my wariness about you. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 01:47, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Both of you!! Neither is helping the discussion of reasonable and unreasonable discussion of sockpuppetry. Robert McClenon (talk) 02:31, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
So, you just call them a sock? What good does that do? Lynn (SLW) (talk) 03:08, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
The discussion I linked to shows what I do (if I'm in the mood to get the sock off Wikipedia), and what good it does. And so does this latest case, which shows that I alerted editors via an edit summary to the fact that the editor was a sock. That alert clearly helped plenty. I know what I'm doing in these cases, and no one can get in my way in such cases when I decide to pursue the sock or let everyone know that the editor is a sock. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:15, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Wow. Just. Wow. I find that appalling. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 03:22, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes, protecting Wikipedia from disruptive editors is very appalling. Bottom line is this: If an editor knows that another editor is a sock and they openly call that editor a sock, especially if they have solid evidence of the matter, there is nothing at all wrong with that. Those who consider something wrong with that probably should not be editing Wikipedia. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:32, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Oh, and additional commentary on the disruptive sock I called out in an edit summary can be seen here. If he didn't want to be exposed like that, he shouldn't have been socking to game the system or socking at all. I was highly annoyed the moment I saw what he was doing, and I wasn't going to be nice about making it clear what he was doing. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:52, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
As someone who has been called out for being a sock by User:Flyer22 Reborn and has had another editor file an SPI report, based partially on that claim by Flyer, (the SPI report stated of course that there was no connection with my account and that claimed sock), I think a little more care should be taken when making claims. Stating "I know what I'm doing in these cases, and no one can get in my way" is of course unacceptable, admins with checkuser know what they are doing, other editors are just guessing. If you know it's a sock, make an SPI report. If you think it's a sock, then look for enough evidence to make an SPI report. If there is no evidence, then do nothing. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 08:38, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Exactly. If you're a hammer, you think everything is a nail. If you think you're great at ferreting out socks, "protecting Wikipedia from disruptive editors" means you start looking for evidence that the "disruptive editor" (i. e. one with whom you are in conflict) is a sock. That evidence is often flimsy, if not ridiculous. And, just because you may occasionally be right (even a broken clock is right twice a day) doesn't give you license to start casting aspersions, which is what accusing someone of a sock is. You take your evidence to SPI, and if SPI verifies it is good enough to follow up on, then makes the connection, you don't have to make the accusation. The sock and master will be blocked. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 11:28, 21 April 2016 (UTC)
Thanks so much for following me to this talk page, Spacecowboy420. For the record, I did not outright call Spacecowboy420 a sock. I queried about his past account(s), which, as noted above, is very much allowed. Yes, there was a strong implication made regarding him being a sock. And he knows full well why there was one. Dennis Bratland is the editor who filed that report. And as that report shows, he somehow thought that Spacecowboy420 and I were one and the same. In that report, I was also clear that I would not be pursuing Spacecowboy420 as a sock, and lack of evidence has not a thing to do with it. As seen at User talk:Flyer22 Reborn/Archive 19#Oooohhh..., if I feel like reporting an editor as a sock, I will; if I don't, oh well. I have good reasons not to in some cases, such as wanting to build up more evidence (including using the editor's own responses about whether or not they are a sock), which I've excelled at time and time again. In other cases, it can be for the very fact that I've dealt with the sock countless times and I know that reporting the sock will only result in temporarily debilitating him or her. Stating "I know what I'm doing in these cases, and no one can get in my way" is not unacceptable in the least when the editor actually does know what they are doing. There is no guessing, or occasionally being right, on my part, and my track record shows it. That track record also includes me never being wrong about returned editors who were banned by WP:ArbCom for WP:Child protection reasons. It's a track record I don't mind bragging about. It's a track record that has earned me trust from administrators, WP:CheckUsers and other editors to take any sock accusation I make very seriously, and to come to me for sock advice. Euryalus, for example, knows that I do due diligence before making such a claim, and trusts that I am likely right. Beyond My Ken (BMK) has gone on record stating that he's never seen me be wrong on a sock matter. My word is always based on solid evidence, even if some wouldn't call the evidence strong enough. Wasting time gathering more evidence on someone who is clearly a sock and is harming Wikipedia is silly. And cases like this and this prove it. I was explicitly clear that I do not outright call an editor a sock unless I am certain that the editor is one. And unless an editor is as good as I am at identifying a sock, criticism of my methods don't hold much water. In my years of catching socks, I've also found that it's common that the ones sympathetic to socks or to logical methods of catching them are socks themselves. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:07, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
"For the record, I did not outright call Spacecowboy420 a sock. " "I know which past editor you are" ah, ok. call/accuse/imply/suggest - however you wish to word it... Actually, I'm starting to find your attitude rather entertaining, a self-appointed sock-puppet expert, incapable of error and beyond question. Well, I will admit that you probably have more experience than I do, when it comes to socks, for example this user page clearly points to your prior experience, and your use of the my little brother did it defense is impressive. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 06:28, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
And yet, because due diligence was done in the cases of my supposed sockpuppeting, I still have the trust of the community. Hmm. Clearly, if you want to throw dirt my way, you will have to do a much better job with the shovel. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:35, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry. Did you think that I was accusing you of using sock-puppet accounts? For the record, I did not outright call you a sock
I was merely pointing out that you have more firsthand experience of sock-puppetry than I do (I've never been blocked/unblocked for sock-puppetry), and that your genuine and justified use of the my little brother did it defense impressed me.
Oh wow! That's strange and ironic! You thought you were being accused of being a sock-puppet, felt the need to defend yourself, because you didn't like the idea of someone throwing dirt your way and were responded to with a carefully worded response on how they didn't actually accuse you.
I wonder if that's the same feeling that other editors get when they are called sock-puppets without any evidence being presented? Spacecowboy420 (talk) 07:02, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
All the above discussion aside, the last sentence is the most relevant here. "I wonder if that's the same feeling that other editors get when they are called sock-puppets without any evidence being presented?" That's called "casting aspersions", and not only is it uncivil, but Arbcom had been making it very clear lately that it has little tolerance for it. And you shouldn't get a pass just because you phrase the accusation in a question or implication. I an editor suspects a sock, they need to gather their evidence and quietly go to SPI. Not email an admin and badger them to block someone as happened to me; not cast aspersions that cause another editor to go to SPI as what happened to Spacecowboy, Just quietly go to SPI. If you're too lazy to find the difs, then drop it. If you provide difs, and the admin at SPI thinks that the evidence is compelling then the other editor should be informed of your suspicions so he/she can defend themselves at SPI. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 11:05, 22 April 2016 (UTC)
And per my "06:07, 22 April 2016 (UTC)" comment above, which shows successful cases of how I've dealt with socks, I disagree with your approach, except for the part that one should gather evidence if they plan to file a WP:SPI. WP:SPIs are not always needed, as many experienced Wikipedians can attest to. And, when they are not needed, they waste time and allow the sock to continue disruption when one or more editors know who the sock is. I've literally been through all types of sock avenues when it comes to Cali11298 (talk · contribs). And in all of those cases, which involved me instantly knowing it was him, it was usually not at all beneficial to Wikipedia to wait, since it usually mean that his disruption would continue. Do see User talk:Vanjagenije/Archive 9#Something you said..., especially the comments by Binksternet and NeilN. They were very clear that waiting to gather evidence in such cases (meaning before stopping the sock) is detrimental to Wikipedia. It's also not how Wikipedia usually treats sock matters. In many cases, when our experienced editors know that someone is a sock, they call them on it, and that sock is eventually blocked on a WP:Duck basis or because of some other evidence. There are times when there is little evidence, but it's just enough to warrant a WP:CheckUser taking a look.
If I suspect or know that an editor is a sock, I am likely to first ask what past account(s) they used. I do this because gauging the sock's reaction usually tells me all that I need to know; in other words, their replies are commonly enlightening, and sometimes incriminating, helping me solidify my suspicion. I've used such replies as evidence. I've also gauged socks' reactions by making a minor edit to their talk pages. I used these tactics countless times with Cali11298. And as seen at User talk:Flyer22 Reborn/Archive 19#Hello? Cali11298 again., Cali11298 quickly gave up the pretense in one case, stating, "That's it, I'm done with this fucking horseshit. I never should've commented at that RfA." Asking the editor about their past account(s) is allowed, and is helpful...if done right. It is also common for administrators to make such a query, as seen by Spartaz in this other Cali11298 case, or by JzG in this other Cali11298 case, and in other cases where JzG did what needed to be done. My Cali11298 drama -- the fact that he returns and returns, loves to play with me, and will never give up -- took its toll on my desire to out socks as the socks they are, and so that is part of the reason I have not been as active in catching socks this year. I've left him alone...for now. But my involvement with him strengthened my belief in the tactics I use to spot and expose socks; so I won't be discarding those tactics. Bottom line for me is this: If you are going to make a sock accusation, you had better be certain that it's a valid accusation and that you can make it stick. You should be careful with inquiries about past accounts and with sock accusations. I don't endorse reckless sock accusations, and I don't engage in them. And, yes, I've pinged a number of editors in this discussion since I am mentioning them and have pointed to examples, and since they might want to comment on some of this. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:10, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Amusingly, I was also accused of being a sock by Flyer way back when I started. Unamusingly, I considered walking away from the site because of it. 22,000 edits later (60,000 if you count my bot), I'm glad I didn't. I think any editor with some perspective can see that idle accusations of sockpuppetry don't benefit the project. ~ RobTalk 05:56, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Incorrect. That discussion clearly shows that I did not accuse you of being a sock; I also stated as much. I was clear that I believed you significantly edited Wikipedia before, which did not mean that you were/are a sock. In other words, I didn't think you were a WP:Newbie. And I still don't. Like NE Ent stated above, "It's fine to ask someone if they've ever used another account (which is okay, sometimes) but I wouldn't ask if they were a sockpuppet unless I had a strong suspicion they were, in which case I'd be filing an SPI." Above, I also linked to cases like this Spartaz one. I noted that we are allowed to query editors about possible past accounts (including IP accounts), and I don't see that changing any time soon. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:25, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
That stated, I apologize for making you feel the way I did. At that time, I was dealing with some returned editors, with some being socks and others not understanding the WP:Clean start policy or similar. You got caught up in that. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:44, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Here's the deal with past accounts. Editors are allowed to disappear and come back under new names. That is a POLICY. If you suspect someone of being a returned editor, the spirit of the Clean Start policy is to keep that information to yourself, not start raising suspicions by asking "if they've ever used another account". Socking is only an issue if the returning editor is blocked or banned, or if an editor is using multiple accounts in an abusive manner. If you see that, it should be easy to gather the evidence for an SPI. Good reasons for asking that question are few and far between. The person that accused me of being a sock over the course of months, now concedes that I wasn't a sock of the two that she first thought, but always manages to try to excuse the way she behaved by saying that I was "very experienced" and that she is certain I am a returned editor (both are BS). It doesn't fly. You gave Rob a half-assed apology (you put the onus back on him by making it about his feelings, not your behavior), and then completely negated it by making it plain you have no intention of changing your behavior. Wikipedia does not appoint sock hunters; your self-appointed status is entirely unsanctioned and ten times as destructive as you seem to think it would be to go through the proper channels to deal with a sock. Wikipedia edits are easily reverted, but editors that are driven off, or worse, blocked without due process. are gone for good. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 11:32, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Here's the deal with the WP:Clean start policy: Editors should not invoke that policy when their supposed clean start is not in line with what WP:Clean start states. And it specifically states, "The old account must be clearly discontinued, and the new account must avoid editing patterns or behaviors that would allow other users to recognize and identify the account. It is expected that the new account will be a true 'fresh start', will edit in new areas and avoid old disputes, and will follow community norms of behavior. A genuine clean start is not considered improper. However, if an editor uses their new account to resume editing articles or topics in the same manner that resulted in harassment or a negative reputation in the first place (becoming involved in disputes, edit warring or other forms of disruptive editing), the editor will probably be recognized and connected to the old account. Changing accounts to avoid the consequences of past bad behaviors is usually seen as evading scrutiny and may lead to additional sanctions. Whether a new account is a legitimate fresh start or a prohibited attempt to evade scrutiny is determined by the behavior of the new account. A clean start is not permitted if there are active bans, blocks or sanctions (including, but not limited to those listed here) in place against the old account."
In the aforementioned "clean start" cases I was referring to, the clean starts were inappropriate and/or I recognized the editor. If I or any other editor recognizes the "clean start" editor, it is well within our rights to publicly note it; the policy allows that. Those cases are not always a WP:SPI matter, and gathering evidence for a WP:SPI is not always easy, as any editor who has significant experience identifying socks knows. And I reiterate that it is well within our rights to inquire if an editor is new, and to not believe that the editor is new. When experienced editors see a supposed newbie behaving like a very experienced editor, we commonly ask about it, and for solid reasons (reasons that are clear as day in the examples I linked to). It's the usual case that those who become offended or distressed by being asked if they are new are indeed socks or otherwise returned editors. If editors don't want to be asked if they are new and have other editors suspicious of their account(s), they should consider not editing like they have been here for years. The "Returning to previous articles" section of WP:Clean start clearly states, "Returning to a favorite topic after a clean start carries a substantial risk that other editors will recognize and connect the old and new accounts. This can result in arguments, further loss of reputation, and blocks or bans, even if your behavior while using the new account was entirely proper. For this reason, it is best to completely avoid old topic areas after a clean start."
You stated that I have no intention of changing my behavior when it comes to catching socks; I was clear that I am not as active in that "field" anymore, but, given the success of my approach, I see no solid reason to change it. My supposed half-assed apology to BU Rob13 had to do with the fact that I should have been softer in how I approached him, and that the aggressive way I approached caused him to feel the way he explained above, but I see no need to apologize for making it clear that his supposed newness did/does not compute. You stated, "Wikipedia does not appoint sock hunters; your self-appointed status is entirely unsanctioned and ten times as destructive as you seem to think it would be to go through the proper channels to deal with a sock." Wikipedia surely supports sock hunters, since the community has supported me and others times over on the matter, at WP:AN, WP:ANI, my talk page and various other areas. They come to me for sock advice, either on my talk page or via email. I didn't even have to self-appoint. Trust is earned, not demanded. I earned the trust of the community with regard to my ability to identify and expose socks. There is no one sock channel, as you apparently keep suggesting. WP:SPI, which I do use when needed, is not the only way to catch or report a sock, and my aforementioned history of catching socks shows that. Given all the socks I have correctly identified and kept off Wikipedia, especially because I acted quickly, I do not believe that the community would support your claim that I have been destructive in exposing socks. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 16:11, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, here is where the community will weigh in your contributions. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 20:57, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
The community has weighed in, Lynn, and I think it's time to drop the stick. Yes, I asked you if you had significantly edited Wikipedia before, Flyer22 Reborn said it well, I didn't think you were a Newbie. You then went on to do some things that did look like one editor was using multiple accounts, though I came to the conclusion that you were not actually the now-indeffed user I thought you might be, and I told you so, and that is why I did not file an SPI. Since that time, I've decided in general that most disruptive editors can be dealt with based on their individual behavior on a single account; most blatent socks have pretty clear WP:DUCK behavior and are simultaneously abusing multiple accounts. They blow themselves up. Montanabw(talk) 23:44, 23 April 2016 (UTC)
"Yes, I asked you if you had significantly edited Wikipedia before" No, that's not what you did. Everything you wrote in the previous paragraph is total BS. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 00:31, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
Hmm. Is saying "total BS" (now twice) possibly casting aspersions? Making inaccurate assumptions about my motives? Yes, on top of a whole heck of a lot of additional history, I did ask you if you had a previous account—or, if you prefer, I strongly suggested that I thought you had. You fit the profile of "not-new". Now, you said you'd done a lot of editing as an anon IP, and that's fine. But for a while I sincerely did think you had multiple accounts (actually, I wondered about a couple of different ones). But when it turned out you did not appear to have any other current accounts and the people you were interacting with all appeared to be separate accounts, I noted that too and dropped the sockpuppet stick as to you. But your problems on wikipedia persist because of the tone you are showing here. You might understand the forms of editing but you still don't understand how collaboration works, which is really unfortunate. Montanabw(talk) 04:08, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
"Is saying "total BS" (now twice) possibly casting aspersions?" I suggest you look up the meaning of the term. Saying that something that is completely inaccurate is BS is just calling it what it is. "Now, you said you'd done a lot of editing as an anon IP" No, I did not say that. "But for a while I sincerely did think you had multiple accounts" Maybe so. That does not excuse your behavior. That's what this discussion is about, how an editor should behave when he/she suspects a sock. What you did, as documented here should be held up as an example of what not to do. You said earlier in this discussion: "Actually, I would think that NOT filing an SPI shows more good faith because one does not subject a user to the stigma of having been the subject of a SPI, which, much like an arrest for which someone is later acquitted, is nonetheless a part of a permanent record that never goes away." Well, I have two blocks on my record due to your recklessly accusing me of socking, and they'll never go away. And not to mention the harassment I've experienced from other editors after the aspersions you've cast. I would much rather have an SPI investigation (in fact I do, I filed it on myself), since a failed SPI reflects more poorly on the filer than the subject, which is the biggest reason sock hunters are here defending their alternate actions. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 06:24, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
Um, It’s best to not blame other people for consequences linked to your own poor behavior, and also wise not cite to your own accusations out of context. You have trouble with far more people than me, and one of the reasons you have trouble on WP is that you tend to do this sort of thing (perhaps you do not do this intentionally, I will AGF on that). What I learned from dealing with you and the now-indeffed other user in that situation is that sock-hunting can be a game of whack-a-mole and that it’s better to just be patient and focus on behavior of each individual account holder. If they aren’t here to improve the encyclopedia, they usually blow up sooner or later. Montanabw(talk) 08:39, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
Annnnd, once again, you try to draw attention away from (and try to justify) your well-documented behavior by casting aspersions on mine without a shred of proof (which is redundant to say, because, in case you didn't look it up, casting aspersions is making accusations with no proof). This epitomizes why this discussions is taking place. Crying sockpuppet, or even implying so is casting aspersions. If think you have proof, it needs to go the correct channel, which is SPI. Not your pet admin, who by virtue of being your pet is "involved". Your statement: "What I learned from dealing with you and the now-indeffed other user in that situation is that sock-hunting can be a game of whack-a-mole and that it’s better to just be patient and focus on behavior of each individual account holder. If they aren’t here to improve the encyclopedia, they usually blow up sooner or later." only makes sense if rephrased to: "What I learned from dealing with you and the now-indeffed other user is, when I see an editor I want to drive off the project, crying sock-puppet is only marginally effective, and I just make a fool of myself by doing so." The reality is, there was no decent proof that RO and I were socks of anyone, much less of each other and you should be taking responsibility for your behavior, not trying to blow it off by saying, "Oh well, you both deserved to be blocked, so it doesn't really matter that I was wrong about the socking and behaved so badly." That is why you keep referring to RO as the "now-indeffed user" and keep casting aspersions on me. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 13:18, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
It's exasperating that you still think I'm lying, but I'll set that to the side. I seriously hope you reconsider your misconception that only returning editors would be distressed by an accusation of sock-puppetry (outright or through the use of terms like "suspicious"). Anyone is going to get distressed when someone in a perceived authority position casts aspersions on them. ~ RobTalk 00:01, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
It's exasperating that you are still putting words in my mouth. I never called you a sock. You stated that I did. I never stated that "only returning editors would be distressed by an accusation of sock-puppetry." I stated, "It's the usual case that those who become offended or distressed by being asked if they are new are indeed socks or otherwise returned editors." I know that from experience. I never called you a liar. In the discussion we had, I was clear that I didn't believe you were a newbie. I believed you edited Wikipedia before. You stated, "I am claiming I'm not a newbie (although I probably had an account with less than 20 edits years ago; I vaguely remember signing up, but couldn't find the account through recovery before setting this one up)." Above, I made it clear that I still don't believe you were/are a newbie. Suspicious accounts are not always socks, and I made that abundantly clear in my "16:11, 23 April 2016 (UTC)" post above. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:14, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

───────────────────────── That was an unfortunate typo that was never discovered by me at the time. It was meant to read "I'm claiming I'm a newbie", which is clear from the paragraphs of text after it detailing how I got into Wikipedia in the weeks prior. And so yes, you're calling me a liar by repeatedly asserting that I was not a newbie at the time. Your assertion isn't important, since I wasn't ultimately deterred from continued participation on-site. I doubt the same can be said of all the genuinely new editors you misidentify as "suspicious". ~ RobTalk 00:19, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

It's an unfortunate typo indeed, but you still stated "although I probably had an account with less than 20 edits years ago; I vaguely remember signing up, but couldn't find the account through recovery before setting this one up." You also stated, "Your stance so far has been that any editor who displays a competent understanding of policy in a short period of time, even with many mistakes, is clearly a sock. You're right that applying this criteria probably filters out most socks, but it will also filter out editors who may prove to be extremely helpful to the project." That was yet another instance of you putting words in my mouth, since I don't think it's always the case that "any editor who displays a competent understanding of policy in a short period of time, even with many mistakes, is clearly a sock." But, yes, it is indeed the case that new accounts that edit like significantly experienced editors right out the gate are socks or other returned editors the vast majority of the time. That's not me simply giving my opinion on that; it's me stating a fact. And this is why it's justifiable to many senior Wikipedians, especially the ones who have dealt with as many disruptive socks as I have, to be suspicious of such editors. In my experience, it is exceptionally rare that a newbie will edit like a senior editor. Even the WP:Student editors who have had much training before editing Wikipedia don't come close to editing like a senior editor. Often, they make MOS:HEADING mistakes, WP:REFPUNCT mistakes and the like. Seeing stuff like that for all these years, and being as observant as I am, has made me very good at spotting those who are not new. Every single time I have identified an editor as non-new, it eventually turned out that the editor was non-new. So I doubt that there are a lot of cases where I misidentified genuinely new editors as suspicious. We'll have to keep disagreeing on how I approach these matters, and on your assertion that I called you a liar. And I reiterate that non-new does not always mean "sock." Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:52, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, you'll have to forgive me for doubting your accuracy rate given that you misidentified me as not-new when I was, in fact, new. I wouldn't consider an old account registered years ago with a handful of edits to make me not-new. I'm not even sure I ever edited from that account; I just vaguely remember signing up. ~ RobTalk 01:21, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
I signed up for an account about four years before I actually started editing. I made two edits (in my sandbox), then abandoned the idea. I resurrected the account after I decided to give it another go. That was also used as evidence of sockpuppetry. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 08:16, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
It doesn't violate any policy to be a "not new" editor and I don't think it is appropriate to be automatically suspicious. They could be clean start accounts or they could be like me...I created an account in 2007, then edited as an IP for years, then created a new account (this one) in 2013 because I forgot my password (though I remembered it later). It is not unusual to run into editors who had previous accounts who either wanted to start fresh (perhaps because they had unpleasant encounters with other editors) or who have password problems. Hell, they might not even remember their old username!
Being suspicious and assuming new accounts who are familiar Wikipedia practices are most likely sockpuppets can result in chasing away people who actually are competent editors. It surely is better to have a newly created account who knows what they are doing than a newbie who makes frequent mistakes, isn't it? Liz Read! Talk! 13:56, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
If a new editor shows too much competence, perhaps because they can RTFM they must be a sock, and should be blocked. If they should too little competence, they should be blocked per WP:CIR; it's a rather narrow eye of a needle for new editors to pass through. NE Ent 14:41, 24 April 2016 (UTC)
I think the closest we have to consensus on this issue is to be found at WP:SOCKHELP, which states "Do not ever call someone a sock puppet on an article or user talk page or in any edit summary. Doing so is often considered uncivil and can actually get you in trouble. If you suspect they are a sock, then file a report at WP:SPI or put a polite note to this effect on any active admin's talk page."
Of course, it is an essay not a rule, however it has been in place for long enough to gain consensus. I see no point in arguing here any further, we have people who have wrongly been accused of being socks, and we have people who are convinced they are never wrong with their suspicions on who is a sock, compromise or agreement is unlikely, and this doesn't seem worth taking any further. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 07:05, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
Nobody's put up a motion for the community to support or oppose. Lynn (SLW) (talk) 10:59, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, if there was a proposal that turned the quoted material from WP:SOCKHELP from an essay, into a rule, then I would vote to support it. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 11:05, 25 April 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.

Shortcut doesn't work

WP:DOPPELGÄNGER and other shortcuts don't work in this page and I don't know how to fix them myself. Thank you 4nn1l2 (talk) 09:29, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

I just checked and it's working for me. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 09:36, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
I mean they don't redirect to the exact section. I think something is wrong with the anchors. 4nn1l2 (talk) 10:36, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
That's weird. I just checked WP:DOPPELGÄNGER again and it it working fine. After your edit it is correctly redirecting to the exact section. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 11:22, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

Sock puppetry implications

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 "" 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)

Recent edits

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 [1]; 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 [2] 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

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, [3] and of course the obligatory ominous threats [4]. 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." ([5]) 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

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

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:
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)

RfC: Should WP:FAMILY be deleted from WP:SOCK?

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)
[6] 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)

() 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: [7]. 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. (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. (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? (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? (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'.) (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.

Suggested change: socking to evade blocks and bans

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

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

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. (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? (talk) 08:07, 26 June 2016 (UTC)

Is this okay?

I've set up a clearly marked alt account here to use for anti-vandalism work. Would this be permitted under WP:LEGITSOCK? Chickadee46 talk 17:28, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

I'll probably go ahead and use the account. WP:ILLEGIT says "Editors must not use alternative accounts to mislead, deceive, disrupt, or undermine consensus", which I won't be using the clearly marked alt for. Chickadee46 talk 19:52, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

WMF approved role accounts

At the bottom of section 7, List of role accounts, Category:Wikipedia contact role accounts is said to be "Accounts approved by the Foundation" (emphasis mine). How is this approval ascertained, and how and by whom is the category monitored for fidelity? Thank you.--John Cline (talk) 13:00, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

That's a great question. If nobody is able to point out a place where these approvals are logged, I will ask the WMF to create one. --Guy Macon (talk) 14:22, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Tandem editing by classmates

I've recently come across a situation where numerous new editors associated with a class project tag-team edited an article to remove a quoted opinion they did not like from the article. It's not technically WP:MEAT since they are here for purposes of their class. However the 3 editors editing in tandem clearly collaborated off-wiki. While this is more or less covered as stealth canvassing, perhaps it would be useful to mention in this page as well. Toddst1 (talk) 13:42, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

I don't see how it being for the purposes of their class has any relevance to WP policies and guidelines. Does their class have some special exemption from normal WP policies? To me, that just escalates it from being a casual conspiracy into an organised conspiracy. Murph9000 (talk) 14:58, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
WP:BITE: We have a high confidence that these are editors here in good faith because they are working on their education. --Izno (talk) 15:07, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
Sure, but that does not give them a free pass. A conspiracy to subvert normal consensus is still a serious problem. Murph9000 (talk) 15:19, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
I did not suggest that they get a free pass. Regarding "conspiracy", I doubt that word can be (review your definitions), or should be, used to describe these activities. Just treat them like people, inform them of our content-WP:PAG, and move on. --Izno (talk) 16:09, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
wikt:conspiracy: The act of two or more persons, called conspirators, working secretly to obtain some goal, usually understood with negative connotations. The word is applicable across the spectrum, from extremely serious crimes to relatively minor breaches of policy. Murph9000 (talk) 16:23, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
I didn't want to actually drag out the definitions here--but even your preferred definition (and it's not the first definition in most of the dictionaries online, certainly) acknowledges that conspirators must be working in secret. If their involvement is in-fact documented on-wiki, calling it secret would at-best be amusing and at-worst bad-faith; I'll let you decide where you lie :^). Better just to call them classmates and let others conclude what that means, while taking into account our other WP:PAG. --Izno (talk) 16:51, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
Oh, if it's already clearly documented on-wiki, that does put it in a different light. I won't claim Wiktionary as my preferred reference, just a convenient reference. I've recently run into several cases of problematic sock/meat puppets who may well have been classmates (that last part is mostly conjecture, based on the behaviour), which does color my initial interpretation of the scenario here. That's a common problem with hypotheticals, I see the examples that I've seen more frequently / recently, you see a quite different scenario. I'd quite happily label the revised scenario "external collaboration", or something like that. It could still become MEAT, depending on the detail of the scenario, but an existing open declaration / documentation of the connection makes it much easier to find a benign interpretation. Murph9000 (talk) 21:16, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2016 December 11#Template:Encouragment

A relevant template is at TFD. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 06:46, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

How to handle potentially sock puppetry

Hi, since years I'm mainly editing/contributing, hence, not experienced in topics like sock puppetry... Honestly, I don't want to offend/harass any Wikimedians as sock puppeteer, as some of the related edits seem to be in good faith, but I feel 'trolled' since about July 2016 by various 'one-day' user-accounts of whom I suppose the same personality from Switzerland:

  1. account always used one single day;
  2. similar edits and themes edited;
  3. not really edit-warring, but not far from;
  4. not really trolling but 'insisting' on its edits, by p.e. changing from IP to a new account;
  5. rather minor edits, but always several edits within short time;
  6. edits always without any comment, although I pointed to at a wiki's talk page three days ago, again.
  7. A 'signmark': sometimes replacing {reflist|30em} by {reflist|500px}, usually in Swiss-related wikis started by me.

As that behavoir massively increases, and I start to feel harassed - four times within the past three days - what may I do? Starting a request, although i'm not sure what account used was the first one? Thank you for any suggestions, kindly regards, Roland zh (talk) 18:08, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

 Comment: started request as two further 'incidents' occured, Roland zh (talk) 18:29, 1 October 2016 (UTC)
Hi @Roland zh: I was surprised to see your name here, as I know you normally stick to content and away from the so-called wiki-Dramah-boards. Since you say you started a request would you tell me where I can read about it. Thanks in advance, Ottawahitech (talk) 00:35, 26 December 2016 (UTC)please ping me

The recently added "Team puppet" section

With this edit, ManosHacker added a section called "Team puppet." Additions like this should be discussed before they are added to the policy page. Thoughts? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 01:18, 14 January 2017 (UTC)

Agree. Also, it's a confusing combination of policies. The core topic of the described scenario is violation of no shared account policy. Only a secondary sidebar qualifier ("of registered users") makes it a sockpuppet. North8000 (talk) 02:01, 14 January 2017 (UTC)
A type of sockpuppetry is the usage of a shared account by a group of registered users, established on a remote location and controlled via remote control or desktop sharing software (i.e. Teamviewer), used for editing as a single account that appears unrelated to other accounts. A team puppet, used as a special purpose account, is hard to be tracked down or recognized via its edit patterns.

A shared account is being described as used to represent. This is different than an account used to apply restless pressure by a few experienced users, having a purpose or a mission. Does this fit somewhere in the existing policy?--ManosHacker (talk) 23:07, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

No, shared accounts are already prohibited by policy, plus, what you describe is something I've never encountered in years of sockpuppet investigations. ​—DoRD (talk)​ 23:16, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

It's ugly

Meatpuppet is in my opinion a heinous expression. Cooperative editing by itself is not a WP crime. Couldn't WP agree on a something different to convey the same meaning? I suggest a neologism such as symdor (for "sympathetic editor"). When it comes to civility, words matter. (talk) 13:40, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Meatpuppetting is an ugly thing to do. It is different from cooperative editing. Jytdog (talk) 18:44, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
  • I agree, and think a new term should be used. "Real world associating people"? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:45, 16 May 2017 (UTC)
  • If I read the Wikipedia article about the subject, it is what is commonly described by this term IRL. The behaviour is bad. --Dirk Beetstra T C 06:55, 16 May 2017 (UTC)
  • Undisclosed support of something, the support motivated people primarily by an off-site relationship, is the ugly behaviour. Editing Wikipedia in collaboration with other editors who you appen to know, even if they invited you here, is not ugly and is not meatpuppetry and for such editors an unexpected allegation using the word would be extremely rude. Care should be used before alleging meatpuppetry. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:22, 16 May 2017 (UTC)

Opening an SPI because of suspicion of meatpuppetry?

(Hijiri88 (talk · contribs) here. I could log in, but it's extremely frustrating to do so at the moment. Safari update nonsense.)

If you believe someone is using [...] meat puppets, you should create a report at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations.

Surely this is a mistake, no? SPIs are only good at catching one particular type of meat puppety (the type that are on the same device/network) and even then it's usually an accident of CU catching them as "sock puppets" when that's not technically the case. I would think that if one saw two accounts that appeared to he connected in some way off-wiki, but didn't seem like the same person, the proper venue to report them would be ANI.

I would open an SPI if I suspected someone of being a sock puppet but recognized the possibility of them being a meat puppet instead, but I would not open an SPI because I specifically suspected someone of being a meat puppet as opposed to a sock puppet. (talk) 06:24, 16 May 2017 (UTC)

  • If you suspect, you should start a conversation. Politely. WP:AGF. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:47, 16 May 2017 (UTC)
  • sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry are very related. It is not only technical evidence, it is also behavior. The 'case' is made here, editors can help examine, it may not need the technical part of a CheckUser. You could start WP:MPI .. but it will only divert attention and even less gets done. --Dirk Beetstra T C 06:54, 16 May 2017 (UTC)
Just to be clear, I did not post the above because I'm concerned about an imminent MEAT problem, so offering me advice on how to deal with such problems kind of misses the point to a certain degree. My concern is that, if I did encounter a MEAT problem, I don't think SPI would be the appropriate venue for it. Some time ago, to give an example, two Wikipedia editors who had clearly been in off-wiki contact before I encountered either of them, but who had arrived on Wikipedia independently of each other (thus not technically meeting the definition of MEAT presented here), started to tag-team me, and then when one was banned, the other started to post attacks on me that had clearly been fed to him off-wiki (the language looked like the other user had written it, and when pinged for a response he sometimes behaved like he hadn't even read his own earlier comments, as though they had been copy-pasted). But opening a "sockpuppet investigation" with the rationale that These two accounts are definitely not operated by the same person, and I don't even think they know each other in "real life", but they are clearly coordinating by email or some other method. seems like the kind of thing that would get me laughed at, even though what I would be reporting is meat puppetry as commonly interpreted on English Wikipedia (it was called that by multiple users at the time), even if not meeting the more narrow definition given on this page.
But even under said narrower definition, I don't see a lot of sockpuppet investogations that begin I don't think these two accounts are operated by the same person, but it seems like the older account is operated by someone who recruited his off-wiki friend, who then created the newer account. I have seen a fair few ANI threads like that, though, and no one ever said If you suspect someone of meatpuppetry and/or off-wiki canvassing, the proper place to report that is SPI.
To reiterate, I'm wondering about whether this recommendation is actually intended to be normative, and if not then maybe the wording should be tweaked to reflect its (questionable?) nature as descriptive (you can create a report at Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations).
Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:07, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
...and I just realized, after someone had already responded, that my wording as proposed would create more problems than it solves, as telling users that they may open an SPI when they suspect someone of sockpuppetry (presumably with the alternative being to cry about it on ANI before even asking for CU) is worse than telling them that even under a very specific set of circumstances where SPI would be a bad idea they should go to SPI before ANI. I think we should remove "or meat puppets" from the advice I quoted up top, and maybe add a separate sentence at the end of the paragraph about how to deal with meat puppets. Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:24, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: I see your point. I must say that I am not sure whether I would post meatpuppet-suspicions here either. I've seen some of the discussions (was involved in one of them lately) on AN/I. Maybe having WP:MPI would be an option afteall, as I do believe that some cases, which are less clear, need to be properly documented.
That being said, I am not always reporting socks here either, if the WP:DUCK is strong enough, I simply WP:RBI and WP:DENY. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:26, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
@Beetstra: WP:MPI would address my concern, but (forgive me if I'm oversimplifying) isn't the reason we maintain SPI as a separate process from general user conduct discussion noticeboards, where evidence is required and one is essentially asking for an account to be blocked, that (a) sockpuppetry can be confirmed with a specific type of technical evidence that only certain users have access to, and (b) keeping a record of one person's sockpuppets in one place is convenient? Neither of these really applies to meatpuppetry, so having a separate process to investigate suspected meatpuppets seems redundant. Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:24, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
I would consider that (b) does apply - having a record of people who were proven to have used meatpuppets in the past may be of interest. Though as for sockpuppets, the master may not repeat the behaviour ever (others don't seem to lose the habit ever). And do note that some meatpuppets do appear as socks - different editors editing from the same IP/computer (husband and wife, e.g.). I am sure some of the proven sockpuppets are actually meatpuppets, only differing slightly in their way of writing, but technically indistinguishable. --Dirk Beetstra T C 10:28, 17 May 2017 (UTC)

One unregistered account

Regarding this revert. @Flyer22 Reborn: I'll bite - it makes no sense. The implication of the edit is that a user must stick to one IP address, which is usually technically impossible as well as not policy. It also suggests that accounts can be unregistered - these are known as IP addresses. I'm not sure where this text originated, but it is a nonsense. -- zzuuzz (talk) 21:27, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

I've replied below. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:30, 22 May 2017 (UTC)