Wikipedia talk:Username policy

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Proposal to set a limit on characters in a user name[edit]

Encountering User:1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR, I'd thought initially it was some sort of bug or spam message. Nobody needs a user name that long and incoherent, it's really offputting for other editors. I propose that we set a formal limit on user name length and add it to the guidelines. I propose we add No single word in a user name should be over 20 characters in length to the guidelines here. That's 33, absurd.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:34, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

I see User:slakr has already shown concern about it.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:37, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

  • Honestly, I'd be much in favor of a proposal requiring usernames to be intelligble. In many aspects of Wikipedia, we require that editors be identifiable. We object to socking not necessarily because the edits of sockpuppets are objectionable or in of themselves violate policy, but because they prevent us from attributing them to the sockmaster editor. We ask those who edit on multiple accounts to disclose this, so that we can readily ID them.

    A username that's a string of nonsense characters defeats that purpose, and it really ought to stop. Ravenswing 11:42, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Yes we should also add A username that consists of nothing but a string of nonsense characters defeats the purpose of a user name and is also to be avoided.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:44, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
I don't think length is the problem; coherence and an ability to swiftly verify an account on sight is the important bit. In this case, this particular username is not easy to parse in one view, and in my opinion is inappropriate. Lankiveil (speak to me) 12:16, 5 September 2015 (UTC).
In cased like this it would be very easy to swap a couple of characters and either impersonate the user or, more of an issue, for a single person to split their contribution history I doubt many people would notice 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR and 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dw8HhdNYxDVstR and 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTH8ac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR are different contributors and would just gloss over them as 'that long nonsense username'. JbhTalk 14:35, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
Or they could just use a dynamic IP address. Also, by your logic, you'll need to get ready to retroactively ban I9Q79oL78KiL0QTFHgyc. This proposal is a complete waste of time. (I see Andrew beat me to making the same point below.)  — Scott talk 15:38, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

My problem with the name is that it is not gibberish, it is a bitcoin payment address. It is essentially a donate link for every signature. Chillum 14:40, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

  • This is already policy per WP:UAAI #5: "Six types of usernames are prohibited on the English Wikipedia: ... Confusing usernames, which confuse other editors, including those that are extremely long, inordinately difficult to remember, etc.". Some existing examples, fyi:
  1. User:QTxVi4bEMRbrNqOorWBV
  2. User:Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry
  3. User:The Fat Man Who Never Came Back
Of course, people can freely use IP6 to edit, e.g. User:2601:5C6:8101:732:E579:85A6:C3EE:9727 and that makes the policy look silly. Andrew D. (talk) 15:30, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
What you are quoting is only an instruction page. They don't always stay in line with policy. Users should refer to the policy page. -- zzuuzz (talk) 07:30, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

I think @I9Q79oL78KiL0QTFHgyc: might have something to say about this, and I think he may be the person Dennis mentioned at the ANI thread. Long user names of like 20 characters or so aren't necessarily that problematic so far as I can determine, because, well, people can always do what I just did for Josh's name above and check the page history and copy of the name listed there. But, at the very least, if you're going to have a=some sort of name like his, or User:2601... above, maybe we could have this say something along the lines of such names can be permitted, but it would really be a good idea to have as a signature something more comprehensible. John Carter (talk) 15:44, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

This form of a user name is the best way to dodge the off-wiki harassment that I will not be sharing more about on-wiki. Putting a limit to the length of the user name is unfair to users with accounts considering the IP6 situation. Trying to make the usernames "intelligible" is opening a can of worms no one wants. jps (talk) 16:11, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Why not just shorten it to User:1Wiki8 for convenience to fellow users? What is the point in Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR ?♦ Dr. Blofeld 20:20, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Ping User:Dr. Blofeld ... there is now a WP:DOPPLEGANGER known as User:1Wiki8 which is a soft-redirect to the cryptographically secure one. Unlike the points being asserted below, the main reason to use a bitcoin address as one's username is that it is possible to mathematically prove that you, and nobody else, actually performed your mainspaced edits, your talkspace changes, and so on (without involving a checkuser or indeed even being on-wiki at all iff need be). Furthermore, much like re-using your facebook-handle as your wikipedia-username, it is also a way of simplifying one's digital persona, since the same identifier for your on-wiki and your off-wiki efforts is utilized in both digital spaces. True, not many people have cryptocurrency identifiers, at least as compared to how many people have facebook-handles, but I expect that will change, over the next decade. (talk) 02:39, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
The point of the string is that it is an address that one can receive bitcoins too, it is like a link to send money to someone. The history of the address can be seen here: . Chillum 20:47, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
(ec) Exactly. The more I've thought of this over the past few days, I have brainstormed several main points:
  1. While 1Wiki8Q5G7CplBibef7jz9ThdUbxYnstR is an identifier, imagine, for a moment, if 1Wiki8Q5G7CplBibef7jz9ThdUbxYnstR became an admin—or an admin switched nicknames to a bitcoin wallet. What would that tacitly say about that admin's priorities when it comes to editing the encyclopedia?
  2. While the points raised about IPv6 users are valid string-length-wise, they're not valid combinatorially or in signal-to-noise ratio of the information conveyed, as the organization of IPv6 lends itself to prefixes having meaning (whereas bitcoin/wallets are arbitrary; the 1Wiki portion of 1Wiki8Q5G7CplBibef7jz9ThdUbxYnstR, for example, was trial and error).
  3. What if there are multiple users who take the same approach? And edit the same pages? Would you even easily know which is which? Or be able to address them on talk pages without a script or something? Case in point, for this post, I've used the wayyy wrong username (1Wiki8Q5G7CplBibef7jz9ThdUbxYnstR) to refer to the user we're talking about, and I'm fairly confident the vast majority of people reading this comment didn't notice.
  4. Anonymity and randomness can be obtained similarly without being confusing or disruptive to other editors. The English language has thousands of words, and you can achieve a fairly random, anonymous username with something like "Golden monkey stutter blue" and nobody will ever confuse you with "Vehement hat publisher read" or "Vicious ocelot clown hamster." You have to interact with people on Wikipedia and they have to interact with you—usernames aren't there to create a high-address-space public key for people to refer to you by otherwise you'd be hacked and your money stolen or whatever. :P
--slakrtalk / 07:24, 6 September 2015 (UTC)
Using random intelligible words is not an acceptable alternative for me as this is more easily associated with off-wiki outing than random strings. The issue is when people google my IRL name, random strings associated with my current account prevent unwanted connections between it and my CV, for example. And that's all the more I'm going to say on the matter. jps (talk) 21:47, 6 September 2015 (UTC)
User:slakr, to my wiki-eyes, it would say the admin was serious about non-repudiation, digital signature-based identities, and a verifiable off-wiki audit trail not subject to the gaping security flaws of OTRS and other kludges (no offense to Sinebot intended). I'd bangvote support for 1Wiki8 to become an admin in a heartbeat. Well, that is to say, if anons could bangvote at RfA.  ;-)     Also see my more verbose comments, over at the WP:UNCONF discussion here. p.s. Note that any 'money' in the form of bitcoins being sent to that admin, would be visible to all wikipedians, and indeed, to all other people on the internet. You cannot use a bitcoin account to hide the fact that you are receiving 'money' from anybody, quite the opposite in fact. Plenty of admins post their full legal name, a hyperlink to their off-wiki homepage (which in turn often has an email-me button or in some cases a cellular phone number listed), and so on. It is easier to covertly bribe *that* sort of admin, than to send bitcoin covertly to a cryptographically-strong-username admin. (talk) 02:39, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Since global account unification, there's a whole load of legitimate account names in non-latin character sets which make absolutely no sense to me, and that I cannot even read or pronounce or distinguish from others. Fortunately, usernames are linked both in page histories and signatures (and cases of impersonation are treated harshly). The length or format of the name is not any kind of problem .. the only problem here as mentioned, is that this form of username is like listing your bank account number in case anyone wants to make a donation. -- zzuuzz (talk) 07:20, 6 September 2015 (UTC)
    I also want to add, a quick look at my talk page archives will show that a very high proportion of users can't even get my six-character name right. Even regular editors whose name I should know by now, I always have to copy and paste their username because they're not always what you expect. I recommend every user copy-pastes other users' usernames. -- zzuuzz (talk) 07:38, 6 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Support a soft rule that usernames are intelligible, or readable. Where usernames derive from another language, they should be intelligible or readable in that language. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:09, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • From a technical perspective, a set of rules similar to those for domain names probably should be enforced automatically. This includes the requirement that usernames be from characters in the Plane (Unicode)#Basic Multilingual Plane, which covers all the languages in significant modern use. All the characters of the name should be in the same writing direction - leftward Hebrew characters should not be mixed with forward writing characters - and probably from the same language page. A check for homoglyphs (we've had trouble with someone creating a user name using the Cyrillic "о" instead of the ASCII "o" to fake a user name) is worthwhile. Some code sections (punctuation, math symbols, currency symbols, line drawing characters) should probably be excluded. That's a basic check. Manual policy may go beyond that. John Nagle (talk) 03:40, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • This seems like a lot of fuss over nothing. Many other names are longer, or harder to remember. That it is a bitcoin account (allegedly, since I haven't tried to verify that claim) doesn't matter. I use my real name for ebay and paypal and have since 98. That can be used to send me cash with just an email as well. Or I could create an account with my routing:bank# as my username and you could wire transfer money to me. So what? It isn't likely to happen. If someone was profiting, that isn't how they would do it anyway, so all this gnashing of teeth seems to be a waste of time. Perhaps well meaning, but a waste of time nonetheless. There isn't a violation here, nor do we need to change policy. There is no victim. Dennis Brown - 20:02, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • This is about as silly as a proposal to ban usernames lifted from music lyrics, tv dramas, cartoons, and of course...spy novels. Tarc (talk) 13:30, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Somewhat off topic but I guess relevant, it's a very bad idea to reuse the same address over and over in bitcoin, it's kind of an abuse of the bitcoin protocol, and compromises security. Gigs (talk) 06:29, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
Yup, if privacy is ones main concern, then reusing the same address is a bad idea[1][2]. If privacy is not a main concern, and one accepts the risks involved, then reuse could have advantages.-- 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR (talk) 07:28, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
  • The idiocy of a policy limiting a username to 20 characters is that while we would disallow 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR, it would allow 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3d. That doesn't accomplish anything. Besides, when you hash it out 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR probably gets decrypted to "User:Username Dr Blofeld will object to". I oppose this. JackTheVicar (talk) 17:43, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
Also, accomplishes a de jure ban of all IPv6 anons, which are typically in the 38 to 39 character ballpark. On a current-event-article like USPE, 2016 there are four anons using IP6 'usernames' which have clocked more than five edits from the IP6 address. There are also two somewhat-long-usernames that have made at least 5 edits to that page (one of whom I've seen personally make good edits) with 21 and 24 characters in their usernames. Besides these six humans, there are 186 other editors with at least five mainspaced contributions, so the policy of banning 20+byteUsernames would get rid of around 3.2% of reasonably-active editors, assuming that page is typical. (There is a third registered-username with exactly 20 characters so the percentage might be higher.) Of course, 16% of *all* edits to the page in question are made by anons, often single-edit folks, and as time goes by those will increasingly be IPv6 anons, as the use of IPv4 is phased out of consumer ISP and consumer cellular networks. Stiff price to pay, methinks. p.s. Average username-length for the top ten editcountitis on that page is 8.9 characters long, and average username-length for the top hundred editcountitis editors is 9.5 chars... whereas by contrast the average username-length for the second-hundred folks is 12.5 chars. So there *is* some evidence that shorter usernames edit mainspace more often; not sure that high edit-count correlates with high edit-quality, of course. (talk) 04:33, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
  • If we adopt this rule, will we make exceptions for people with very long personal names or people from places with very long names? See Hubert Blaine verylongnamenotshownforbrevity and this place. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 17:53, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
    This 'rule' used be part of policy for a time, and we got rid of it mainly because lots of Indian users were getting unfairly reported and blocked. It's not only Indian users... -- zzuuzz (talk) 18:03, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
Please also see Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User names#1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR. Cheers! -- 1Wiki8Q5G7FviTHBac3dx8HhdNYwDVstR (talk) 12:56, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
I normally sign with 8 Ms but showed the whole thing this time for the sake of this discussion. MMMMMMMM (talk) = User:ManymerrymenmakingmuchmoneyinthemonthofMay (talk) 10:53, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Username-related discussion on WP:AN[edit]

There is a discussion on WP:AN about an editor, one aspect of which concerns their username. Since there are other aspects as well, I suggest that the discussion be kept centralized there, but those interested in username issues might like to participate. The discussion is here. BMK (talk) 22:40, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Defunct WP:CORPNAMEs[edit]

Is there any guidance on what to do when an account uses the name of a defunct company? I ran across this situation for the first time with User:Law Cypress. They created [3] the article Law Cypress Distributing Company, which was deleted as WP:A7. Since the company is no longer in business, it's not possible for the account to be used for WP:SOAPBOX purposes. Would the name be allowable in this case? --Drm310 (talk) 06:37, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

  • I'm hard pressed to come up with a situation where we would want to allow that, especially for companies open/closed within the last ~20 years or so. --Hammersoft (talk) 13:40, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
    One case where you might want to allow it is if the name is not uniquely a corporate name. For example, if there was a defunct company (or even an obscure existing company nobody on-Wiki including the editor heard of until someone dug deep) called Dave's gameroom and the editor's name is Dave and he has a gameroom in his basement and he has used that as his handle online for a long time, the name should be allowed as long as there's no connection between the editor and the company and there is no editing by the editor in a way that suggests he has any interests, feelings, or biases towards or against that company. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 23:44, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
      • Like, say, David'sWheatenTerrier? :) --Hammersoft (talk) 03:12, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

I would like for us to help me so i can go to google translate who do i do at— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 13 January 2016

Limits, again[edit]

Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention/Instructions, item 5, is not policy, so I can't really block on the basis of it (begs the question of why it's there...), but now I am looking at User:12345789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123w and User:12345789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123z, and I don't know what to do. I really see no reason why we shouldn't limit user names. You've got to, in a collaborative environment, be able to call someone something. These names are so long and my eyes so old, it's just gibberish to me. Drmies (talk) 18:04, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

  • And User:Awertyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm. But that's different. Drmies (talk) 18:05, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oh, 12345etc comes in w, x, y, and z. Drmies (talk) 18:06, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

No RTV?[edit]

So there's no RTV? I just edited this to match WP:VANISH, but then I realized this is policy and that isn't. (Sorry!) Seeking input. Considering self-reverting and editing VANISH. --Elvey(tc) 22:28, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

This is rather in flux at the moment, due to the change to global renaming. See discussion at WP:Bureaucrats' noticeboard#About "courtesy vanishing" and unvanishing. JohnCD (talk) 22:36, 16 January 2016 (UTC)