Wikipedia talk:User pages

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This is the talk page for discussing maintenance of the Guideline about User pages.

Indexing in user space[edit]

The guideline says nothing about search engine indexing. User space is "noindexed" by default, but it is possible for this to be manually overridden on individual user pages. There are some legitimate reasons for editors to activate indexing (see this discussion), but many user pages and subpages where this has been done in fact contain promotional or self-publicising content, frequently couched as draft articles and thus bypassing the vetting that would occur if transferred to mainspace. Category:Indexed pages gives a complete list, and freshly indexed pages can be identified from a new edit filter, which produces this log – you will see that there are several cases on most days. Editors reading this may wish to monitor the log; {{Uw-userspacenoindex}} is a standard user-talk message to inform users when we reverse indexing.

What concerns me slightly is that we have no guideline on when indexing may or may not be permissible. If the whole page is eligible for speedy deletion, on grounds such as WP:G11 or WP:U5, there is no room for doubt. However, many user pages or userdrafts that get indexed aren't clearly deletable but still appear inappropriate for indexing. Could we clarify the rules over opening this back door on to Google?: Noyster (talk), 20:45, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Having, for example, User:Riceissa/Animal Charity Evaluators (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) userfied and indexed after it was deleted at AFD, without significant changes making it eligible for mainspace, strikes me as an endrun around the deletion process. In my opinion you were correct to remove the indexing. –xenotalk 21:12, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Stuff like this shows that the backdooring around NPR is a real problem. I can imagine a few options that are less aggressive than forbidding the indexing of the user space entirely:
  1. Forbid indexing of subpages, and change in WP:U5 with the exception of plausible drafts to with the exception of plausible drafts in subpages. Pros: covers 95% (guesstimate) of legitimate uses (people wanting a conforming user page to be indexed), while forbidding almost all illegitimate uses. Cons: not sure if technically feasible (to authorize the magic word on User:Foo but not on User:Foo/Bar), instruction creep in the CSD, 5% of legitimate uses (e.g. people hosting javascript snippets of use for wiki content, that could be useful both on WP and elsewhere), even with a CSD it may not be easily enforced (you need patrollers of that edit filter).
  2. Disallow (via edit filter) the addition of the indexing keyword without a certain level of access (autoconfirmed or extended confirmed?). Pros: not touching the CSD, arguably not really a new policy per previous rules. Cons: new users are human too and may want their user pages indexed for legitimate reasons.
The second solution seems workable with {{edit request}} to ask another user to add the index bit, but we may see a trick where a new user asks for the indexing of a legitimate user page, and once it's done replaces it with a pseudo-article of promotional nature. Edit request patrollers are not expected to monitor pages they edit on the behalf of others.
I feel that one edit filter denying indexing by non-autoconfirmed (to filter out the bulk of the flux) and another logging all indexing (to be patrolled to catch the patient spammers) is a workable solution, but we still need a policy behind it (what can the patroller do if it is not a WP:U5? edit war on a user page that is not his theirs?) TigraanClick here to contact me 09:57, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
(...or hers?) OK, we could do with a definite proposal here – perhaps we should now ask established editors who do use indexing in their user space what they would consider legitimate grounds for this practice. Then we can draft a guideline "no indexing in user space, except..." Some are normal user pages, some are talk page archives, some are javascripts to do with the education program, but why indexing? Pinging Cacycle, Cenarium, Deskana, Dispenser, K6ka, Ks0stm, LFaraone, Maproom, MBisanz, Michael Bednarek, Ocaasi (WMF), P999, Peteforsyth, Sadads, SuperHamster, This, that and the other, Xaosflux: Noyster (talk), 12:55, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I index my userpage on enwiki because as my homewiki it is my primary presence, but I also make edits on all kinds of other WMF projects and they allow indexing. I prefer that search results for my username lead searchers to my page on enwiki instead of some other project like enwikiquote. — xaosflux Talk 13:13, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I indexed my userpage a long time ago because I wanted people to be able to find me here more easily when they Googled my username. Also, for the same reasons as Xaosflux: my userpage on Simple English Wikipedia is currently first on the list of results, which is undesirable since it's not my home wiki. —k6ka 🍁 (Talk · Contributions) 13:31, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I haven't indexed my userpage; anyone who wants to find User:Maproom can do it without the help of an index. I have indexed a few subpages in my userspace, when they contain material I'd like to add to Wikipedia, but accept is too specialised to justify it. For example User:Maproom/rmaps, which contains a gallery of the regular map images Professor Séquin has contributed to Commons, and so might be of interest to someone looking for his work on regular maps. Maproom (talk) 13:45, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I have enabled indexing for project pages of software that is used on Wikipedia/Mediawiki (i.e. the editor wikEd and the diff tool wikEdDiff). Theoretically, these could also reside in the indexed Wikipedia namespace, but are in my user space for historical reasons. The exception for this purpose would would be something like community-oriented content of wider significance. Cacycle (talk) 16:00, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I have indexed my userpage for reasons similar to Xaosflux; I'm active on many wikis (Wikimedia and non-Wikimedia ones), and I'd like anyone searching for my name to be able to find my English Wikipedia page over most others. I'm also pretty open about my identity, and don't mind people finding my userpage when searching for my name - especially when I'm doing offline outreach. ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 16:28, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
(For the record, I have also indexed my userpage for reasons similiar to Xaosflux). Question for Cacycle and SuperHamster, and others - you have both also indexed all your talk page archives. To me this is a more problematic than spam pages which could be deleted. Is this also intentional? -- zzuuzz (talk) 17:58, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
@Zzuuzz: Not particularly intentional in my case. To keep it simple, I added the index tag to my header template, which goes on my userpage and most of my subpages. Now that you've pointed it out, I'm not opposed to keeping the indexing to just my userpage and some select subpages. Just curious, what do you see problematic about it? Privacy issues / spam? ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 18:12, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
There's been a fair bit of previous discussion about user talk pages, like here and here. I tend to agree that user talk pages often contain things like privacy issues and loose talk which are usually best left out of search engines. -- zzuuzz (talk) 18:25, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
@Zzuuzz: Sounds good - I've removed the indexing from my header template and am now just indexing my user page. ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 18:37, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
My user page remains noindexed; however, my subpage User:This, that and the other/For the Common Good is the primary page for a Wikimedia-specific software tool I have developed, and it needs to remain accessible from search engines. Subpages of that page are also marked as indexed. Pretty much the same as what Cacycle said. — This, that and the other (talk) 00:29, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
A few months later I've hated how useless noindexing has made search when I'm looking for internal stuff. Things like User:Smallbones/1000 random results should not be harder to find than some poorly researched journalism hit piece. As for my tools that should be obvious. — Dispenser 22:50, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Re talk pages being indexed: I do not think it is really different from user pages. I tend to think indexing UTP should be opt-in rather than opt-out, because the UTP of a new user is where all the Twinkle notices Hello, I notice that you are a dirty vandal, have a nice day will land. Even veteran non-tech-savy editors may have an expectation of privacy on their talk page. But if someone knowingly wants their UTP indexed, why not?
On the other hand, the expectation of privacy that one has when posting to another editor's user talk page is or should be much lower, so I see no good reason to blanket ban UTP-indexing if their owners so desire. If the community disagrees, there is still an option before the blanket ban - make it mandatory to place some standard notice at the top of the UTP ("this page is indexed by external search engines; do not expect your posts to remain private") and if really needed enforce it by bot. TigraanClick here to contact me 21:30, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
I index for pretty much the same reasons as Xaosflux and K6ka. Ks0stm (TCGE) 00:50, 3 March 2017 (UTC)
I index for much the same reason as Xaosflux, and because my identity as a volunteer doing oureach for the Wikimedia community is best documented on that page (as opposed to my professional identity working for Wikimedia). Moreover, I personally use Google to find my user page, when I need links on it on computers that I don't own, for presentations or examples of articles that I have worked on. Sadads (talk) 20:31, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

Thanks to all who have responded. The indications are:

  • Primary user page – a blanket ban on manual indexing will not be accepted. Indexing is valued by some established editors, especially those who are active on other Wikimedia projects as well as en-wiki.
  • Subpages of the user page – indexing is wanted for a small number of pages containing software code or other material related to Wikimedia projects.
  • User talk page and archives – No need yet identified for indexing here.

Comment: It may not be controversial to rule out all indexing on user talk pages, and on sandboxes, user draft pages and other subpages subject to an exception like Cacycle's suggestion community-oriented content of wider significance. The primary user page is more difficult. Users are allowed "limited biographical information" on their user page. We need to allow editors such as those who have responded above to continue to index their user page, but probably not someone without a significant contribution history who puts "My name is XYZ, I am a famous rapper, my youtube channel is..." So we may wish to adopt Tigraan's suggestion and tie indexing to, probably, extended confirmed status. Because if you haven't been very active on en-wiki, what good (in Wikipedia terms) reason have you to want your en-wiki user page to show up in Google?: Noyster (talk), 20:50, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

Just for the record, if it ends up with an edit filter, I would advocate two levels, neither of which using the ECP threshold: forbidding indexing altogether below the autoconfirmed level (not ECP), and logging for everyone (including ECP users). I think ECP is an unreasonably high hurdle to demonstrate a "need" for indexing (although that is more of a gut feeling than a demonstration); we should at least try the lower protection settings and gather data before tightening them.
Also, even if the EF stops all new vanity and promotional pages, something has to be done for the existing ones. As current policies stand, my understanding is that either WP:U5 applies and the page gets nuked, or it does not and anything goes. Maybe we could simply decide that indexing a userpage counts as a piece of evidence towards U5; indexed user pages often[citation needed] fall either in "a typical good UP" or "promotional biography", with few if any falling in a grey area. TigraanClick here to contact me 13:21, 5 March 2017 (UTC)
Which policy would support the prohibition of indexing in user talk pages and their archives? If there is none currently, its wording and implementation needs to be discussed with wider participation than this page provides. I would object to such a policy until a clear harm of its absence can be shown. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 13:28, 5 March 2017 (UTC)
If non-indexing of user talk pages is going to be controversial after all, I think we could leave that part of it alone for now, as it is uncommon, though not unknown, for editors to copy promotional material on to their talk page. Returning to indexing of the primary user page and subpages, Tigraan suggests disallowing this only for non-autoconfirmed users. But an editor can easily spend ten edits titivating their user page, then once four days have elapsed such a restriction would be null and void. I ask again: if you haven't been very active on en-wiki, what good (in Wikipedia terms) reason have you to want your en-wiki user page to show up in Google? For those who may intend to become active here in the future, it will be time enough to display their user page to the world after the intention has become a reality: Noyster (talk), 19:42, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Technical wrap-up[edit]

I guess we should make a summary of the technical issues, if only to include in a collapse box in a future RfC. That should be relatively consensual. I draft a list of questions for the FAQ below (feel free to add if I missed something). TigraanClick here to contact me 21:15, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Questions for a technical FAQ


  1. What does indexing mean?
  2. How is noindex controlled on mainspace pages?
  3. How is noindex controlled on user pages?

Possible restrictions

  1. What is the relation between magic words, MediaWiki, and the robots.txt file?
  2. On which sets of pages can the index magic word be disallowed?

Non-technical wrap-up[edit]

In the discussion above I see general agreement that fake articles should not be indexed, and consensus that there are acceptable reasons for pages in user space to be indexed. In that vein, is this change to WP:FAKEARTICLE an improvement? VQuakr (talk) 06:49, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

  • Well, it would be an improvement if there are users out there that try to abide by WP's policies yet index article user pages, but I believe this case to be nonexistent. 99% of spammers do not care about the policies and will just try to get their page indexed for SEO purposes, so WP:BEANS likely applies. TigraanClick here to contact me 12:08, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I did consider BEANS but figured the number of spammers unaware of indexing that would learn about and implement it from that unlinked sentence would be very low. The underlying issue is that we didn't seem to have any rule against indexing fake articles, and at least one paid editor pushed back when someone removed the tags from their user space. Index tags are by definition very detectable, so even if there is no technical barrier to adding the tag in user space, having the rule allows quick removal of the index from fake articles and behavioral correction against any repeat offending editors. VQuakr (talk) 16:04, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Fair enough. I believe the first part of your argument is incorrect (someone already linked your sentence BTW, and I do not think it should be unlinked), but having a procedural reason to kill obvious spams that are not U5-worthy is important (I failed to consider that this addition could apply "retroactively"). TigraanClick here to contact me 17:37, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
  • VQuakr I do agree with your change, but it doesn't fully address my concern, which is about those who take advantage of our userpage facility to publicize themselves on the web without having made any worthwhile contribution to Wikipedia, whether or not they format their page as a Wikipedia article. I regard this as parasitism and would like us to have a clear policy to rule out marking such pages as "indexed". RfC below: Noyster (talk), 12:22, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

RfC on indexing in user space[edit]

Closing as no prospect of success. Anyone is welcome to re-run this proposal, introducing a precise codification of who is or is not to be allowed to index their user pages. This won't, however, silence the predictable cries of "creep". Against this attitude my view is that people will always be looking out for ways like this to exploit the Wikipedia apparatus for their own purposes, at a cost to WP's resources and reputation. Either we are willing to adapt and keep abreast, or stand by and watch the outside world "creep" up on us: Noyster (talk), 14:39, 2 April 2017 (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.

Comments are invited on a proposal to add to the first paragraph of "what may I not have in my user pages?": Pages in your userspace may not be indexed for search engines unless you have a significant history of constructive contributions to Wikipedia.: Noyster (talk), 12:22, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

  • Support - I don't really like the wording, but I could not imagine anything better, and it is better than the status quo. TigraanClick here to contact me 19:08, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Question--@Noyster:--And where do we draw the line between Constructive and non-constructive?Winged Blades Godric 14:43, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
Anything can be taken as "constructive" that improves an article or contributes in a relevant way to a discussion, and does not – as we frequently find in these cases – continue the promotional campaign begun in user space. If you go on to ask what counts as "significant": for me one useful new sentence, one relevant reference added, or ten spelling/grammar corrections would suffice: Noyster (talk), 19:32, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose seems rather bureaucratic (assessing contributions) and imho case of WP:CREEP.--Kmhkmh (talk) 23:19, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose – A rare combination of bureaucratic instruction creep and vagueness. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:43, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose as worded - too vague. Support a "simple" policy on userspace indexing in general (i.e. extended confirmed, which can be enforced by an edit filter) — Train2104 (t • c) 14:59, 26 March 2017 (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.

What to do with this userpage?[edit]

While cleaning red-linked categories from Special:WantedCategories, I came across User:Bmarakwad.

The page was in some script I don't know, so I chucked at Google Translate, which shows that it is a Marathi-language CV of an Indian academic.

The editor registered the account yesterday, and so far their only contribs are to this userpage. They may intend to start contributing, or maybe not. If they do contribute, some sort of CV is fine; if not, it's just promotion. But either way, a CV in a non-English language seems unlikely to help collaboration in the English-language Wikipedia.

So I'm not sure what to do with it. Tag it somehow? (with what?)

Leave it be?

Any suggestions? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 19:40, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

A lot depends on whether the user is the academic. First thing I would suggest is... replace the current Marathi text with an English language version. Blueboar (talk) 21:55, 8 April 2017 (UTC)
  • I would consider adding a translation, or tagging U5, depending on the translation, and depending on any other wiki contributions. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:44, 8 April 2017 (UTC)
  • No global contributions. Translated, it is a CV. It is a drive-by dumped CV, in a foreign language. Covered by U5, which has no time limits, a couple of days seems reasonable. I tagged it {{db-u5}}. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:03, 9 April 2017 (UTC)