Username policy

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This username policy describes accepted practices and behavior in naming and operating a user account on SM-201.

You may wish to create an account if you wish to write or edit articles on SM-201. Creating an account provides a number of benefits; in particular, your contributions are attributed to your username. See Help:Logging in for help with logging in to an existing account. We do NOT allow anonymous posts or edits.

Choosing a username

Depending on how much anonymity you want to preserve, you may wish to base your username on your real name or a familiar nickname, or use a pseudonym that you do not use elsewhere; see Real names below.

If you choose not to use your real name, you should pick a username that you are comfortable with, but also one that others are comfortable with, and which does not interfere with the project. A controversial name may give a bad impression to other users, and avoiding this is in your own interest.

Your username should not give the impression that your account has permissions which it does not have. Thus it should not contain the terms "administrator", "bureaucrat", "steward", "checkuser", "oversight", "developer" or similar terms like "admin", "sysop" or "moderator", or end with "bot", which is used to identify bot accounts.

SM-201 usernames are case sensitive, and the first letter of all usernames is automatically capitalized. By default, your username appears in your signature on posts to discussion pages; for details on signatures and how to customize them, see SM-201.org:Signatures.

If your username is commonly misspelled, consider adding a redirect from the misspelled username to your actual username (any user page can be created by any contributor, whether an associated account exists or not).

Real names

Use of a real name allows contributions to be more easily traced to an individual. This may make a contributor more vulnerable to issues such as harassment. You should consider the benefits and drawbacks of making substantial contributions under your real name before doing so. While it is possible to rename accounts (see Changing your username below), a record of the previous name will still exist.

You should not edit under the name of a well-known living person unless it is your real name, and you either are that person or you make it clear that you are not. Such usernames may be blocked as a precaution, until it can be confirmed that the user in question is using their real name.

If you have been blocked for using your real name, please don't take offense; this procedure is necessary to prevent impersonation. You are welcome to use your real name, but in some cases, you will need to prove you are who you say you are. You can do this by sending an e-mail to info-en@wikimedia.org; be aware that the OTRS system that handles e-mail is operated entirely by volunteers, and an immediate reply may not be possible.

Company/group names

Use of SM-201.org for promotion of a company or group is not permitted without permission, and accounts that do this will be blocked. Use of a company or group name as a username is not explicitly prohibited, but it is not recommended, and depending on the circumstances may be seen as a problem. Similarly, editing with a possible conflict of interest, such as editing an article about your employer, is not disallowed, but anyone wishing to do so is advised to first accumulate some editing experience in unrelated areas.

Accounts that represent an entire group or company are not permitted; see Sharing accounts below. Each person should have their own account. Suggestion? Use Organizataion_yourname.

Non-Latin usernames

Contributors may not use usernames that are not spelled using the Latin alphabet. Non-Latin languages (such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Greek or Japanese) are illegible to most contributors to the English SM-201.org. To avoid confusion and aid navigation, non-Latin usernames are not allowed.

Similar usernames

Usernames that are very similar to existing ones can only be created by administrators; if you wish to use such a username, you may request its creation by contacting the SM-201 staff. You should not use a username that could easily be confused with that of an active contributor; a username that is similar only to unused or inactive accounts should not be a problem.

If your username is similar to that of another contributor or an article, you may wish to provide some form of disambiguation to the top of your user page. Linking to user pages within articles is not permitted.


Inappropriate usernames

SM-201.org does not allow usernames that are misleading, promotional, offensive or disruptive.

  • Misleading usernames imply relevant, misleading things about the contributor. For example, misleading points of fact, an impression of undue authority, or the suggestion that the account is operated by a group, project or collective rather than one individual.
  • Promotional usernames are used to promote a group or company on SM-201.org.
  • Offensive usernames make harmonious editing difficult or impossible.
  • Disruptive usernames include outright trolling or personal attacks, or otherwise show a clear intent to disrupt SM-201.

These criteria apply to both usernames and signatures. Usernames that are inappropriate in another language, or that represent an inappropriate name with misspellings and substitutions, or do so indirectly or by implication, are still considered inappropriate.

The line between acceptable and unacceptable user names is based on the opinions of other editors.

Dealing with inappropriate usernames

Usernames which are obviously inappropriate should be reported to the SM-201 for administrator attention, along with an explanation of the issue. Inappropriate usernames can/will be blocked on sight by any administrator.

Usernames which are not obviously inappropriate, but which may fit the criteria listed above should not be immediately blocked. The issue should be discussed with the account's creator, who may not be familiar with the username policy. They should be encouraged to create a new account with a more appropriate name. If this is unsuccessful, a request for comment on the contributor's username may be created, and the contributor may be required to change their username if a consensus to do so is established.

Administrators may issue username blocks under the following circumstances:

  • Usernames that are clearly unacceptable for use on SM-201, but have no obvious disruptive intent may be blocked indefinitely, but the block should affect only that account (disable autoblocks, and disable "prevent account creation"). If your account has been blocked for this reason, don't take it personally; it is intended to disable the username you chose, not to prevent you from contributing. Please read this page carefully and choose a more appropriate name.
  • Disruptive usernames that have clearly been created only to cause trouble should also be blocked indefinitely, but in such cases it is usually also desirable to block anonymous editing and prevent further accounts being created (enable autoblocks, and enable "prevent account creation"). Such disruptive usernames may contain harassment or personal attacks, or be easily identifiable as a previously banned user or vandal.
  • Any block issued as a result of a user's behavior may take their username into account, if it is part of the problem. Such a block may be extended to an indefinite block in order to disallow the username. behavioral blocks are usually issued for disruption, incivility or personal attacks.

Inappropriate usernames do not need to be reported or blocked if the user has made no contributions; most user accounts that are registered are never used. In cases where there is no evidence that an account was created in bad faith, administrators are expected to explain the exact reason why they have blocked the user in either the block log or in a message on the editor's talk page, pointing to the precise reason from the username policy.

Confusing usernames

The purpose of a username is to identify contributors. If your username or your signature is unnecessarily confusing, editors may request that you change it. However, confusing usernames are unlike the disallowed usernames above because a confusing username cannot be so inappropriate on its own that it requires an immediate block without at least an attempt at substantive discussion.

Unnecessarily confusing usernames can be a red flag for other problems. An editor with a confusing username or signature may be blocked sooner than usual for other policy violations such as disruption or vandalism, if their confusing username contributes to the disruption. As with all other blocks, admins should use their discretion and common sense.

In the uncommon case that an otherwise good-faith contributor deliberately ignores requests to change their username, and goes on using a name that other editors agree is too confusing, then that username may be blocked to prevent further disruption. (Though the latter practice is considered somewhat controversial).

Changing your username

Usernames can be changed by administrators; requests should be made by contacting the SM-201 Staff. User accounts with few or no edits will not normally be renamed, as it is quicker and easier to simply create a new account.

Once a username has been changed, existing contributions will be listed under the new name in page histories, diffs, logs, and user contributions. Signatures on discussion pages will continue to use the old name; while these can be changed manually, it is not recommended unless a contributor wishes to remove as much information as possible about their previous name for privacy reasons. In such situations the old name will still be available in old versions of discussion pages. Username changes are listed in the user rename log.

Deleting your account

It is not possible to delete user accounts. One reason for this is the need for all contributions to be assigned to some identifier; either a username or, in the case of anonymous contributions, an IP address. However, you may request that your user page and user talk page be deleted, as explained at SM-201.org:User page, and have your account renamed as described above.

Sharing accounts

User accounts must only represent individuals. Sharing an account – or the password to an account – with others is not permitted, and doing so will result in the account being blocked.

Exceptions to this rule are limited to accounts that directly represent the Wikimedia Foundation or internal SM-201.org committees, though none are currently active, and bot accounts that are maintained by more than one contributor, provided the existence of such an arrangement is made clear and has consensus.

Using multiple accounts

Contributors should not use multiple accounts without good reason. For example, experienced contributors might create a new account in order to experience how the community functions for new or inexperienced users, and contributors using their real name may wish to use a pseudonymous account for contributions they do not want their real name to be associated with. Contributors operating any sort of automated editing process should do so under an alternative bot account. It is recommended that multiple accounts be identified as such on their user pages.

Policies apply to individuals, not accounts. Using a second account for policy violations will cause any penalties to be applied to both accounts. Blocked or banned users should not sock puppet to circumvent a block; doing so will result in an extension of the block or ban.

Sock puppetry

Use of multiple accounts to alter the apparent weight of an opinion is known as sock puppetry, and is not permitted. For example, multiple accounts may not be used to comment on proposals or requests, cast votes, or engage in edit warring. This includes use of multiple accounts to state an alternative opinion in such a way as to weaken its apparent weight.

Multiple accounts used maliciously should be blocked indefinitely by any administrator. Other accounts belonging to the same individual may also be blocked. Suspected violations of the policy may be listed at SM-201.org:Suspected sock puppets.

The nature of such abuse means that it is often difficult to detect. Contributors should exercise particular care when dealing with suspected sock puppetry, ensuring that all discussion of the situation is carried out in an open and transparent manner, and should be civil regardless of the circumstances. In unclear situations, server log information can be consulted; in many circumstances this information is sufficient to confirm or strongly suggest that two or more accounts are operated by the same individual. Access to this information is limited to a small number of users, who are expected to comply with the Wikimedia Foundation's privacy policy with regard to the release of private data. "Fishing", or general trawling of users in a debate for possible sockpuppets, is not permitted. Requests may be made at SM-201.org:Requests for checkuser.


Single-purpose accounts

A single-purpose account is an account that contributes regularly, but does only one particular thing, such as edit a particular article or put forward a single opinion. By contrast, most regular contributors will edit and discuss many different things. Such accounts are permitted, and such a pattern of contributions may simply indicate a new or inexperienced contributor. However, it may also indicate sock puppetry. Contributors should assume good faith when dealing with such accounts.

Meatpuppets

Sometimes, multiple individuals create new accounts specifically to participate in, or influence, a particular discussion. Such accounts are known as "meatpuppets". This is common in deletion discussions and controversial articles. These may be friends of another editor or article subject or may have been solicited by someone to support a specific angle in a debate. This practice of external solicitation is considered unacceptable; since they are hard to distinguish from sockpuppets, they are treated similarly. When there is uncertainty whether a party is one user with sockpuppets, or several users acting as meatpuppets, they may be treated as one individual.

Doppelganger accounts

It is acceptable to create accounts with a username similar to your own in order to prevent impersonation by others. Such accounts are called doppelganger accounts. Doppelganger accounts should not be used for editing.

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