Wikipedia talk:Welcome unregistered editing

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A side issue[edit]

Please make an un-logged and unsigned edit below, if you pledge to edit anonymously one week out of every two months. (ideally this should only be visible to outsiders as a gap in your contributions list)

  • I so pledge.
  • I agree. I edit anonymously all the time, so this is the easist pledge to keep...

very good.

Where do we go to disagree with this proposal? Exploding Boy 18:09, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

You are there. What would you like rephrased or changed in the codification? -- unsigned

Well, if we're talking about the proposal on the project page (not this one here, which I also disagree with), I think we need to discourage, not encourage anyonymous editing. For one thing the vast majority of vandalism seems to be perpetrated by anons, who are also muchg harder to track than logged in users. Exploding Boy 20:18, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

Welcoming anonymous editing does not mean that we should not encourage them to log in. But the bottom line is that a good edit is a good edit is a good edit. -- unsigned
The problem is that most anonymous edits are also uncommented. Most substantive edits to existing articles require discussion, and when people edit anonymously there is no systematic way to get hold of them, and unless they have an account, they can't watchlist the page. For smaller edits, it is often hard to tell a subtle correction from subtle vandalism, and when it comes from a source with no track record it often wastes my time sorting this out.
Anonymous editing is useful in certain circumstances, but I would not want to encourage it in general.
Some of the cases in which it is useful:
  • A knowledgable contributor wishes to weigh in on a subject with which he/she would rather not be associated (e.g. sexuality)
  • Someone who is casually reading Wikipedia notices a typographical error or spots some vandalism; he/she is not normally an active participant in the community; it's good that he/she needn't go through any hoops before editing.
-- Jmabel | Talk 22:42, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Jmabel.
  • If someone notices a change to an article, and is wondering if it is subtle vandalism, it would make a big difference to see that the change was made by a person of demonstrated credibility. Obviously, that is not a foolproof indicator, but it makes a difference.
  • People are not completely altruistic. (See Eric Raymond's book The Cathedral and the Bazaar). I expect that a major force for quality is that people want to be seen by their peers (other editors) as people who can be trusted to do a good job. I expect that the openness of wikipedia (everyone being able to look at the history and see who wrote what) is a major cause of the quality. I claim to be an expert on certain things; I do not intend to write wikipedia articles that would not support that claim.
  • Also, I don't at all see the purpose of the suggestion (at the top of this talk page) that everyone be anonymous part of the time (unless it was meant as parody...).Morris 02:30, Dec 16, 2004 (UTC)
  • The bits of this proposal I can understand I disagree with. Sorry. --fvw* 18:37, 2004 Dec 16 (UTC)

Hi. I've been editing sporadically on Wikipedia since 2001, when I first read about the project. I have never created a user and I don't intend to. I don't believe my edits have ever been considered vandalism; I've contributed a number of new articles (some of which are now major articles, given that in the early days there wasn't much on this site) and made countless additions and modifications. To my knowledge my edits have never been reverted. I would consider myself to be a Wikipedia enthusiast, but not as hardcore as some of you.

But for various reasons -- perhaps exactly because "[anon users] are also muchg (sic) harder to track than logged in users" -- I will probably never create an account. Perhaps I'm being overly arrogant, but I think that most Wikipedians would consider the loss of a contributor like me to be unfortunate. But lose me Wikipedia would, were it to take away my right to edit anonymously.

Now, I recognize that the tremendous amount of spam/vandalism produced by anonymous editors is a headache for those that need to do the revert work. And it is often pointed out that removing the editing privileges extended to anons would curb this nicely. But I consider this to be an abridgement of some of the fundamental principles on which Wikipedia was founded. Freedom of expression, namely. At the moment, Wikipedia is massive, and heavily indexed by search engines. We get a ton of readers without accounts -- that's the many eyes phenomenon. Most of these are not trolls. They will correct (and often do) spelling mistakes, trivial (and sometimes not so trivial) inaccuracies in content, etc.

Frankly, I think we Wikipedians have a moral obligation to protect the rights of anonymous users, and given the increasing number of posts by newer wikipedians over at the Village Pump suggesting that we take those rights away, I think it's refreshing that some enlightened folks remain opposed to that. So in that respect, keep up the good work.

I liken all the headache produced by guaranteeing anon rights to the headaches produced by a government that protects the civil rights of its citizens. As someone said recently, it would be a lot easier to be a dictatorship, and he doesn't lie. Allowing your citizens rights like freedom of expression, habeus corpus, the fifth amendment, etc, is down-right inconvenient if your job is law-enforcement. Because let's face it, lots of people that use strong encryption, plead the fifth, or whatever, are manipulating your goodwill to get away with criminal behaviour.

Of course, I hope we all agree that the inconvenience is worth it. If even one innocent person is spared a guilty verdict, even in the face of a hundred guilty ones being let free, justice has been served.

If you note the origin of my IP, you may understand that I have some first hand experience with organizations that are less than keen on these ideals. Let's keep Wikipedia free. 13:16, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A well-written and persuasive post, which is all very well except for the fact that it totally ignores one thing: all posts on Wikipedia are anoynymous in the sense that users -- even those who choose a user name -- must provide no personal information at all. In effect, we are all anonymous here. I'm not convinced that there is some extra value in electing not to have a user name. As far as I'm concerned, and as some other users have argued above, so-called anonymous users (ie: people who elect not to have a user name) create more problems than benefits for Wikipedia, and I have proposed before that they should not be allowed more than a handful of edits before being required to select a user name. Exploding Boy 17:06, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)
I would note that an 'anonymous' user, like above, leaves a trail of the IP address against every article they touch. By creating a userid then the IP address - and hence the ease of actually finding out the person at the end of that edit - is actually far more difficult, possibly impossible. There are very occasional times when an 'anon' edit is acceptable, but in general I believe Wikipedia (en, de and some others) would be better served by not permitting them to edit. Yes, someone may be just quickly 'passing through' and see a quick edit, but the saving of the time to enter a few keystrokes to log in and refresh the page is hardly a substantial reason to insist on keeping IP-only editing. --[[User:VampWillow|Vamp:Willow]] 20:38, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I have been contributing anonymously since 2001. Yet, I use a login name. A logged in user is accountable for his/her action yet remaining anonymously. Anyone can create two identities one for fame and one for anonymity. The current policy to let un-logged in users edit any article only invites a lot of unnecessary vendalism. Do you know who I am? You don't need to. I have a wikipedian identity, but you don't really know who I am. Isn't that kind of anonymity sufficient for anyone who are not vandalizing? Kowloonese 00:36, Mar 9, 2005 (UTC)

Not to mention that if you're using the same computer all the time you can simply choose to remain logged in. It still seems clear that the supposed incovenience of editing anonymously is far outweighed by the general benefit to Wikipedia of having all users log in. Exploding Boy 16:41, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

And one more thing: I HATE it when the 4th grade boys don't log in, vandalize anonymously, and end up blocking the rest of my school from editing. (I get ultra-annoyed when there's a little spelling error or something, I click edit this page, and I end up with another one of thouse things. Then it takes another week for me to be able to edit those things, and I get annoyed by that.) I don't like spelling errors, and I don't like to log in [we share the computers], but it gets quite irritating at times. The teachers can't round all of them up because there are about 30 of them, who trade off "fun shifts". Don't ask where I got this information. Oh, and I still support, because how else would I edit from school anyway? (P.S. I'm logged in at home, though.) ~user:orngjce223how am I typing? 03:39, 11 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See also[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement and the response by IMSoP.

Advantages of anonymous editing[edit]

I also would like to comment, even though this discussion is a little dated (2004). I started working in earnest on WP in early 2003, and even though I have a user account (and use it e.g. for uploading images or moving pages, which cannot be done anonymously), I usually prefer to do all my edits anonymously. Why? Well,

  • there are of course advantages for writing about touchy subjects, but that is not really the main reason.
  • I find that as soon as other users know "who you are", in the sense of what e.g. your expertise is, two things tend to happen: Some will think everything you write is perfect (e.g. because they know that your education/profession covers those subjects, so you should, at least theoretically, be an expert in that subject—although even experts sometimes make mistakes). Other people will dislike your edits, not because they are bad or factually incorrect, but because they come from you. Yes, there are a few cranks on WP, some of which hate to be corrected by an actual scientist in the field. So building up an online identity at WP sometimes hinders more than it helps.
  • I have discovered that editing anonymously, even submitting a larger article, makes it easier to "let go" of the content, which is of course what is expected by submitters. When on the other hand your name is attached to an edit (as opposed to just an IP), many people become very territorial and defend their edits, even if there are demonstrable problems with them. Editing anonymously makes me feel more relaxed about my content, because even though everything I write conforms to high standards (and is usually not changed significantly later on by other users, presumably because it is pretty good), the lack of a name makes me feel more free and less bound by the (positive and negative) expectations of others.
  • I strongly think that every edit should stand on its own feet—as others have said further up, a good edit is a good edit, no matter who made it. If WP was centered more on editing quality, not the establishment of trust, which may either be given too freely or not at all, I think that would be a very good thing for overall quality. And this is my final reason for advocating anymous edits: to show those people on WP who think anymous edits bring primarily spam and copyvios and who lobby for disabling anonymous editing altogether that many anonymous edits are in fact knowledgeable, helpful, and have staying power and are not per se inferior to work by logged-in users.

Anyway, just my perspective on this subject. -- 16:21, 23 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The problem is that while there are some good IP editors, the reality is that virtually all vandalism/spam/copyvios/junk etc. does come from IPs. Martin 16:35, 23 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe, but I have also seen a lot of copyright violations coming from (usually freshly) registered users, contributions that are even lauded by other registered users, "ooh, how smart, how well-written", and that — even to an untrained eye — simply look like the obvious cut-and-paste job they are (no links, writing style too journalistic or too essayistic). I always love to look for the real sources with Google, usually finding that they are copyrighted and that the submitters have no clearance, and then to report those submissions. :-) I think it is pretty sad they would likely not get reported by anyone else, because after all they come from a registered user, so it must be allright.
Furthermore, I have seen many bad edits with clear agendas and POV ("Global Warming is a conspiracy!" and such) coming from known registered users, not to mention edit wars, which may also arise because people start to identify with what they have written so much that every discussion feels like a personal attack to them.
And as for spam and junk, that is quickly spotted and deleted. I worry much more about registered users who gain apparent trust (or are trusted just because they are registered), but in reality infuse articles with their personal, self-serving standpoints and subtle violations of NPOV without being corrected.
Also bear in mind that a lot of first-time users of WP, perhaps finding an article in Google, edit anonymously. Removing anonymous editing capability would mean that a lot of individuals, in particular those from academia, would not work on WP. Not everyone has the time to let his life revolve around WP, some people just make a few, usually good little edits (correct a fact, fix a typo) and then leave. It would be stupid not to use that potential. -- 15:18, 24 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There should be some sort of image you could stick on your user page which says "I support anonymous editing" Astrokey44 00:47, 5 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm all for anonymous editing, and that's why I log in. What's anonymous about editing under your IP address? Unless you've prepared an elaborate ruse to fake your IP address, anyone can Google your screen name and get a pretty darn good idea where you are, maybe even exactly. Once they know where you are, it might be easy to find out who you are. On the other hand, if you invent a screen name such as "Mr.Mysterious123", no one will know where you are, unless you let on somehow through your editing, or provoke a "Checkuser," or some such avoidable or unlikely thing. Please explain why people seem to think editing without logging in is more anonymous than logging in before editing. Do they think, "Hey, I'll do one from home and one from work and one from the coffee shop down the street, and then I will be invisible! But then you've got three different loci to triangulate with, not only where you live, but also where you work and the coffee shops and book stores you hang out in. I personally think that anonymity is crucial for editors to be able to point out uncomfortable truths without suffering socially in their personal lives for having said something that's politically incorrect but factually true. I think if people understood the lack of anonymity that comes with editing under your IP address, and if they, like me, valued anonymity, they would want to log on. I think people maybe choose not to log on because they don't know what those numbers are that appear as your screen name or how they can endanger your anonymity. Chrisrus (talk) 05:31, 12 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As is now seemingly orthodox in such discussions, this entirely confuses "pseudonymous" with "anonymous", and "anonymous" with "without any identifying information". Anonymous, not "atoposous"! (Pardon my making a pig of Greek.) Whatever else IP addresses are, they're not "names" (or "screen names"). (talk) 17:06, 10 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can someone with more experience than I in editing WP pages explaining guidelines and policies please add the usual header explaining that this is an informal guideline rather than official policy? (Provided, that is, that it has the status of a guideline.) TIA ---CH 23:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anonymity Tag[edit]

User's Box

For those who are interested. Feel free to tweak or modify. 17:53, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cute, but remember that we can't use the Wikipedia logo freely like that. It's under copyright and subject to the Wikimedia visual identity guidelines. Powers 18:59, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Then I suggest you do something about {{User anti-anon}}. 04:36, 5 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Done. Thanks! Powers T 20:50, 6 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I also made this one (text is translated - don't know if it's correct):

This user prefers editing anonymously

By the way, this essay is very good! 08:47, 4 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1-month, then register[edit]

IMO, anons should have to sign-in after 1-month on Wikipedia. GoodDay (talk) 19:55, 19 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's impossible to implement in any way without cookies which can easily be removed, and which are removed automatically by many people. --Raijinili (talk) 07:33, 20 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well then, automatic registration is better. GoodDay (talk) 16:35, 20 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean that the person should be registered automatically? How does this keep track of users? Remember, the only thing Wikipedia knows about an anon is the IP they used at that time. To keep track of the registration, Wikipedia would have to put a cookie on the user's computer, and the user can remove the cookie (there's a button in most browsers to clear cookies).
If you're talking about forcing registration, that's been discussed many times, and again and again consensus was against it. If you want to bring it up again, you have to at least argue for it. --Raijinili (talk) 03:38, 21 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've no energy to argue for it (at the momment), but it (mandatory registration) is inevitable IMO. GoodDay (talk) 21:35, 21 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not inevitable; on the contrary it's highly unlikely. Mandatory registration goes against everything Wikipedia is. (talk) 08:44, 7 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is there a formal policy about Anon Editing?

Are Anon Editors formally prohibited from participating in "back-of-house" issues, such as RfC's, ANI's, or any other internal political discussions?

Please advise. Thanks! (talk) 04:27, 10 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, no such formal restrictions. Just a certain, highly variable, amount of informal disparagement! (talk) 16:58, 10 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]