Grants:IdeaLab/Real Names

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Real Names
Force editors to self-identify, and own, their interactions with others. Create editorial level at which individuals must verifiably register and use their real names.
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idea creatorRobert Brukner
this project needs...
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created on21:43, 3 June 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Manage and prevent harassing interactions between editors.

What is your solution?[edit]

To make contributors accountable for their activity.


  • Require contributors to authenticate their identity and sign their contributions using their real name so as to maintain a record of attribution not only for the content of articles but also for the contribution itself.
  • Optionally incorporate PGP or SSL authentication signatures.
  • Develop an automated, partially automated, or user based system to authenticate existing and new members.
  • Develop a plan for updating existing users usernames to real names and obtaining verification for such.

Get Involved[edit]

About the idea creator[edit]




  • Yes harassment by IP numbers by a registered user or otherwise can atleast be minimized. Nannadeem (talk) 07:18, 4 June 2016 (UTC)
Addendum- Going through the undermentioned concerns, I am still in favor of Idea of registered user for which privacy policy being maintained by the WP should be trusted upon. One may use nick name as a registered user. Nannadeem (talk) 20:30, 4 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Seeing that the mobile industry is progressing, I suggest the use of finger print verification. This technology is now widely used on smart phones. Registered users could verify their login before progressing. Facial recognition can be used on desktops and laptops. This way you can easily identify or locate an offender. JohnOjara 14:47, Saturday, June 4, 2016 (UTC)
  • it seems that people using their own names will be kinder and politer, as they would in real life.

but will there be a concern about freedom of expression being compromised for those living under oppressive regimes? Tommowlam (talk) 23:08, 6 June 2016 (UTC)

  • Oppose Oppose I'm concerned about that as well. There are many editors who would otherwise stop editing once the anonymity is gone, either because they live under an oppressive regime or because their family does and they're worried about retribution. I'd also be concerned about people in general receiving off-Wikipedia harassment if they had to use their real name as a log in. For example, as an admin I've received just about every flavor of harassing comment (physical, sexual, legal, death threats, etc). My real name is uncommon enough to where almost anyone would be able to find my home address and Facebook account in a matter of minutes. I just worry that a lot of people would stop editing if they had to give up their personal identity at any level, even if it was just to Wikipedia. (This doesn't even include the people who wouldn't sign up because of this.) That would also be a potential issue for Wikipedia since they'd then have to worry about providing a strong enough security system to ensure the privacy of this information - and I can guarantee that this would be something that hackers would target. I get the idea behind this, that giving a real name at some point would theoretically make it less likely that people would harass others, but this would need a lot of work before the potential drawbacks and potential liabilities would be outweighed by the potential benefits. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 05:13, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Using a service for federated identity that provide an oblique identifier that can be used for a delayed full resolution could be an idea. That is we can say that two users are the same, but we can't say who that user is before we really need to do so. It is like telling Wikimedia your bank account number but not your name, but with a warrant from a judge the bank will tell Wikimedia your name. The bank is the supplier of the oblique identifier and the judge would be a steward. Some parts of Mediawiki would be changed slightly, but I guess most of the changes would go in the central authentication system. Handling the oblique identifiers are pretty well-known, and it should work with both real name and IP-address on TOR. Ie. you get an oblique identifier before you traverse TOR to reach Wikimedia. — Jeblad 21:11, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Support! This idea will assign more seriously to work done by volunteers at the Wikimedia projects. Stanglavine (talk) 19:47, 8 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Just as attribution to a reliable reference is required for content, so should attribution to a real person whose identity has been verified should be required to contribute. The idea of open contributions may have made sense when Wikimedia first started but it's large enough and prominent enough to start imposing more strict requirements for participation. Yes, you may loose some people, but you will also gain other people who may have been dissuaded by uncalled for harassment or the simple lack of decent oversight.

    For what purpose would anyone have the desire to contribute information to an encyclopedia of which that information is factual, proven by its references, yet that person would have the need to remain anonymous? I can think of very few good reasons for wanting to remain anonymous. David Condrey (talk) 10:23, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
Oppose Oppose To be frank, not being able to come up with scenarios in which anonymity is legitimately desirable or even necessary betrays a lack of imagination to me. Here are some examples:
  1. A moderator that is involved in quenching nasty edit wars, cases of trolling, etc. is justified in not wanting to expose himself to harassment(!) by the perpetrators thereof. For example, a disgruntled columnist once wrote something akin to an attack piece on the moderator (User:Natuur12) that had removed her article about herself for lack of notability (source: I think it's perfectly reasonable for him not to want to reveal his identity considering such cases, and especially considering that this vain editor's column is probably a relatively benign example of harassment of moderators (e.g. the Vice article also notes that the Dutch Wikipedia moderators often have to deal with apparently mentally unstable editors).
  2. A member of some community or organization writing an decent article on this community/organization that includes some uncomfortable facts may not want to leave himself exposed to angry community or organization members and the retribution they might bring.
  3. A citizen of a country writing/editing articles on corruption (e.g. a Pakistani atheist editing an article on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan).
  4. A perfectly normal person that would like to separate his hobby (duck hunting), political affiliation (far-left or -right) or interest (the history of endoscopy) private from his co-workers or relatives or friends or family.
Please read this Grant's Discussion page for additional examples and criticism.
--Doveofsymplegades (talk) 11:11, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Its only through the usage of authentic identity that any effective accountability can be established. SalmanAlamIAM (talk) 19:25, 13 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose I personally suspect that Wikipedia has more women than we think because women decline to disclose their gender or identify as men so that they will not be subject to sexism. This would drive women away from Wikipedia. Also, if you're on Wiki long enough, you meet some real characters, people whom you don't want tracking you down at home or at work, for example. Now maybe they wouldn't do it, but isn't it nice to know they can't do it? Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:40, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose This could put users in less open countries at risk. Do we want to lose editors who are afraid of their government? Sammy D III (talk) 03:02, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose This will not prevent harassing interactions between editors and will not lead to contributors being accountable for their activity, but it will help the Haters targeting and attacking people's real life. If this idea becomes realized, Haters win. They will fit their writing to the needs and follow other ways to terrorize their “enemies”. Messerjokke79 (talk) 14:25, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose I agree. Some editors might be harassed because of their name, and they might live under an oppressive regime. JustAGuyOnWikipedia (talk) 23:13, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose I personally don't want to reveal my real identity to everyone I interact with on Wikipedia. Some people have a good reason for remaining anonymous, as stated by other users above. I don't want all of my online activites to be permanently marked with my name. Furthermore, it is difficult to reliably verify users' real identities. I doubt that many users will be willing or know how to properly use PGP or SSL authentication signatures. LoudLizard (talk) 18:10, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

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