Grants talk:IdeaLab/Real Names

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This is far the best idea. Anonymous contributions, even if hidden behind a sem identifyable nick name, are not woth a dime. Every contribution, also and especially article edits, needs to have an author name for credibility. And credibility goes together with a certain type of politeness. 23x23x23 (talk) 22:46, 3 June 2016 (UTC).Reply[reply]

it can make sense, but on the other side I think this creates a huge bureaucratic burden necessary in order to identify people, it creates a problem with wiki-translating bots, and it discourages many spontaneous edits by random editors/lurkers like correcting mistakes or adding good content, and it discourages people who wish to remain anonymous. If I had to identify myself on any online community not restricted to real world relationships (like facebook), I would not participate, it's just not worth the risk of personal attacks by psychos and trolls. Internet abuse would roll over into the real world and wikipedia editors may get a bunch of pizzas ordered for them. Internet communities are nasty and not posting any personal data, including name, is the only protection people have. --Formagella (talk) 23:17, 3 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You’re falling into false assumption that just because you hold some information related to real world, you can actually influence the events in the real world. This is a very common misconception. Possibly the way human brain tries to deal with the new situation the internet and globalisation has provided (but this is a question for neuroscience and psychology, not me), hence I don’t blame you for falling into it, but still it remains false. This is the same case as with having the address of a company one deals with. One believes that this piece of information makes the things more credible, but this isn’t true: not only the address may be fake (either straighforwardly fake, or registered for a fake person), but even if it is real, what can one do… ride to the other end of the country, stand under the company’s building and shout loundly what they think about the business? This as much a mirage, as it is in “real name” policy.
What really counts is the opinion. A thing that is accumulated with time, for any entity — be it a company, a person under their “real name” or a pseudonymous. This is what people are afraid to lose, and this is on what one should base their choices. Credibility is guaranteed by that fear (or hope), not by the “real names”. I could give you my state-registered name and you could do exactly nothing with it. I could add the information on the cityies I lived in, and contact to some of my employers, and you could still not make much of the damage. You can take my pseudonym, and — believe me — destroy my credibility in many circles, if only you could prove my misbehavior. There is a great difference between “anonymous” and “pseudonymous”.
The second issue you’re missing is that it would still be anonymous, because there is no way to verify identities without a serious effort from the foundation and seriously growing obstacles for people who would like to contribute to Wikimedia projects. And without the verification one can use any name they want, most probably a fake one.
The third thing is the chilling effect. Despite I’m not [yet] afraid of contributing under my state-registered name (and with little research you can find it on the internet), I rarely accept joining projects that require giving out that type of information, and I would seriously consider stopping any contributions to Wikipedia in such case. --Wikimpan (talk) 22:48, 6 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can't see the removals of pseudonyms working - just look at the problems Google+ ran into with their real names policy. As well as the problem with defining what a "real name" is (this is legally my name, under common law, and it is name I use as a pen name, so it is actually has more real world and online presence than the name I was born with), there are a lot of good reasons for people to use pseudonyms online.

I could see a viable suggestion to eliminate anonymous contributions, but it might need some strengthening of the sockpuppet detection. Perhaps have a bot that monitors IPs to flag up any pages being tagteamed by different users with the same IP. Granted you might expect it if it is, say, a school or a business, but even then that might be signs that dickery is afoot (at the very least COI). Emperor (talk) 01:56, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No. I do not harass. I do not my real name revealed either, if only for political or security reasons. Zezen (talk) 08:12, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Forcing real name usage would empower forms of harassment relying on straightforward gathering of personal information. It may deprive us of valuable contributions from users which wish not to spread their physical identity online or wish to separate it from their external activities. --Crou (talk) 08:21, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I expect using real names would make some people more careful about what they posted (presumably including being more polite/kind to others, and writing good quality content), but also see the privacy/oppression concerns...Could 'real names' be made a requirement only where a contributor had been regularly flagged as abusive? (would require more admin-ning - to see if someone had really been abusive, and would all previous contributions be uncovered or only future ones?) --Tommowlam (talk) 22:50, 14 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


To make RealNames compulsory for all will not work in any way, starting from the impossibility to get any such policy accepted in any of the projects. But if one simply encourages the registration with real names, that would be one kind of help and secondly one could step by step see for that the more "power" editors want to have, the better do they need to identify themselves. So, one needs to identify every fine step of increase power and associates another level of identifiability with it. No further identification, no higher power! Like:

  • IP-Editor - identified by IP - lowest rank 1
  • Registered under any kind of name - identified by self given name - rank 2
  • email added to account - registration of something that looks like an email address - rank 3
  • response to a verification-email - email identified as belonging in the realm of that user somehow - rank 4
  • Using a RealName - Somebody looks at this account name and says, this could be a real name - rank 5
  • Adding address - Institution sends a letter with verification number to a postal address - rank 6
  • Uploading a profile picture - looks like we got a human here - rank 7
  • Connecting the picture to the name - verification by performing specific action while taking a picture that is sent to verification team - rank 8
  • Connecting ID card to account - sending scan of ID card to verification team - rank 9
  • connecting telefon number/voice with account - Verification team calls user on phone - rank 10


One for all steps from rank 6 upwards one could make RealNames compulsory. And one could make RealNames/rank 6 compulsory for all admin rights above the lowest level of admin rights. So You could become(!) an admin only by giving something that looks like RN and You could get serious admin right only after first step of verification of it. No checkuser who was not checked themselves being a 10 at least ;-) --Manorainjan (talk) 18:52, 27 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Opposition moved here from the main page[edit]

  • I am afraid that this will lead to more sexism and racism against people with foreign sounding names. Tim.thelion (talk) 09:04, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Yeah, and it is not a concern, it is a sure thing. People do manifest xenophobia ("oh you apparently seem to not be true /nationality/ and that's why you support this"; can happen even without disclosure but it's much stronger when it is with it), sexism ("oh you must be a /opposite sex/ to have this kind of attitude"), agism (exaggerating for summarisation's sake "oh what an experienceless youngster like you can know about this, we discussing it are serious people who know what they are speaking about"/"how dare you speak with an older person like your even, weren't you taught well by your parents") and other discriminations when they know someone's real life identity. Besides it opens way to actually dig people's real life matters like where they work or study or even live. Many editors do devirtualise at some point, me including, or use real name from the start, but it must be an open choice, and some people especially those editing sensible topics or just not willing to have the fact of them being Wikimedia contributors public shall be free to keep it to themselves. Thus Oppose strongmost oppose on my part. --Base (talk) 15:24, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Could be very bad for those editing controversial topics. Consider the position of a Turk editing a page about the Kurds, or a Russian editing a page about corruption. Hence oppose. JDAWiseman (talk) 16:49, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • By exposing editors real identities, it risks exposing them to further harassment or worse, including action by governments etc for editors working in controversial fields.Nigel Ish (talk) 20:15, 4 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose All the above, plus such policies make people less willing to contribute. The solution causes also legal problems, as for many countries (PL as an example) Wikimedia Foundation or its branches would become “administrators of personal data”, which implies various legal requirements. The last concern: how would the names be verified? Without verification step one can name myself as I wish on the internet. So should the foundation have its offices in every major city all over the world and anyone, who wants to edit Wikipedia, should travel to the city and identify themselves? --Wikimpan (talk) 00:16, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, as it will enable even more avenues for harassment. Privacy is a human right. As stated before many people contribute on controversial subjects across our projects; they may require the ability to contribute pseudonymously for their well being (contributors in Iran, China, Turkey etc); we shouldn't be forcing people to abdicate those protections just to edit on some Wikis by demanding they show us their papers ("Ihre papiere, bitte!"). We create and aggregate knowledge, not build dossiers on users for advertising or surveillance purposes. Further, suggestion above that the Foundation hold the personal information in escrow is asking for trouble. No system is secure; just a matter of time before it leaks or is abused by an insider. Not collecting data is best way to protect it. Dsprc (talk) 00:56, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, There are a lot of people with very common first and last names and there are probably multiple editors with the same first and last name living in the same city. How are we going to ensure that we can positively identify the right person? Now, we could require birthdates, but the problem with that is we are starting to get into personal and private information and Wikipedia will need to be on top of privacy laws throughout the entire world. That is a lot of work for not a lot of rewards. Because even if we correctly identify a person, there is not much to do unless the harassment violates the criminal code of whatever state, provincial, or country law that has enforcement, which may be difficult to do if the parties involved are living in different states, provinces, or countries.DivaNtrainin (talk) 13:56, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose, because "real name" is ambiguous. However you introduce yourself, and other people refer to you, is your real name. There are probably countries where the government defines an official name for someone, but most, including USA, have no such system. Giraffedata (talk) 18:14, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I share most of the concerns above, especially the contrasting risk between someone in the west disclosing that they are one of the many people called Bill Smith and someone with a rare or unique name living in a police state. But I'd also add the problem encountered by other sites that have tried this. You will lose some goodfaith members of the community who fear this would make them more vulnerable to harassment or who for privacy reasons choose to stay pseudonymous, but for the badfaith characters, an extra rule "your username has to look like it could be someone's real name" is not going to filter out any badfaith characters. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:48, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Very strongly oppose the entire proposal. Pseudonymity and/or anonymity is vital for countless of reasons. People may be writing and editing articles that would be considered controversial by their government or local community (for example an apostate, homosexual or Christian in Afghanistan) and which, if attributable to them, could have them facing harassment(!), legal problems, punishment, and so on. One can think of countless of similar examples. Other than legal or social punishment, many users would simply prefer their activity on Wikimedia websites to be disconnected from their real identity, for example because they edit and write articles about private interests that they do not want their colleagues to know. I shudder thinking of having to provide a copy of my passport to be able to edit Wikipedia (and mind you, you will have to implement such verifications if you actually want to enforce this policy, see e.g. Facebook).
  • Oppose Very strong oppose Oppose Strongest possible oppose per the immediate above and Wikimpan and Dsprc. Editors should be allowed to be anonymous. Wikipedia shouldn't require the giving out of personal information. Chickadee46 (talk) 23:09, 5 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Further Comment: There is already scientific research to show people under the threat of surveillance or identification stop contributing to at least Wikipedia... and they stop reading the articles as well.[1]. This is bad for our community.--dsprc (talk) 00:59, 6 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Many of my concerns with this proposal have already been expressed, but, in no particular order:
  1. How do we enforce a real-name policy, ensure that people are who they say they are, and define "real names"?
  2. How is this compatible with the fundamental ideal of wikipedia as an encyclopedia that anyone can edit? We are not the "encyclopedia that anyone who has a real name that they can prove they are officially known by, and doesn't mind having their wikipedia contributions tied to their real life identity can edit".
  3. What will happen to pages on controversial subjects? Will fewer people be willing to edit them if their real-life identity can be tied to their contributions? (e.g. someone living in the Bible Belt might be reluctant to edit articles on Planned Parenthood; people looking for jobs (especially with unusual/unique names) are less likely to be willing to edit on human sexuality)
  4. What will the effect be on wikipedia's underrepresentation of socially disadvantaged groups? Women especially often do not want to be identified as such online; forcing them to reveal a real name is likely to disproportionately discourage them.
  5. How will this affect how editors perceive one another? Will editors with overtly feminine/non-English names be treated differently to those with acceptably white male names? What about "trendy" young names ("Bryttany")? African-American names? Hispanic names?
  6. Does this work for everyone? Sure, my partner, whose name is as far as can be determined unique, would be unable to edit in bad faith without it being tied to her, but what about someone called John Smith?

Overall, I think I have to oppose this proposal for three reasons: 1. I am not convinced it would work. 2. I am not convinced that it would be implementable in any reasonable way. 3. I think it's a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 18:10, 6 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think Caeciliusinhorto summed up the problems very, very well. Chickadee46 (talk) 03:19, 7 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Agreed. I can pretty much guarantee that if Wikipedia were to require real names, odds are people would lie about their identity. There's also the concern about how we individually identify people. If there are 80 people with the name "John Smith" and we use numerical identifiers, then after a while that would just become confusing if we have dozens or hundreds of people with similar names. There's also the issue of people changing their edit habits for worse afterwards. They may still edit, but they'd edit on topics that would be "safe" - meaning that they're afraid that their employers would see their edits and penalize them for it. It's the same reason why you get so many people restricting their speech on social media outlets, not getting an account, or using false names to avoid detection. Anonymity does pose some risks, but taking that away would bring about many more. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 11:03, 9 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Extremely strong oppose per all that has been said, especially the points made by Caeciliusinhorto. Additionally, we may end up losing quite a few valuable contributors who feel that this is an invasion of privacy if such a plan were to take effect. Colonel Wilhelm Klink (talk) 21:12, 7 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Oppose - right, making your real name known also means that every creep you have ever blocked can track you/google you or spam your Facebook. Making it more riskfull to block severe harassers is not going to work. Natuur12 (talk) 09:18, 8 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Oppose This has too many issues associated with it - privacy, security, and so on. I personally don't want my real name out there because of the harassment I've received on Wikipedia - I knew that as an admin I'd inevitably get someone who decided to harass me on Facebook or other social media because they weren't getting the results they wanted on Wikipedia. I've actually had someone write a blog post where they threatened to go to a volunteer position and confront me over something on Wikipedia. And that's without my real name. It was an empty threat but still, I don't want to have to deal with the stress that comes with that. And this is just the out and out malicious harassment. There are also the cases of people making unwanted contact because they want to chat about why their pages were deleted, make random comments, and the like. I'm not opposed to talking to people off Wikipedia and a few editors even have my private contact info. What I don't want is to have the ability to choose who has my info taken away. Aside from this, there's also the problem that Wikipedia would have to safeguard our information even if the real names are kept private. Wikipedia would be a huge, tempting target for any hacker or troll looking to cause mischief. It'd be too much hassle for what would ultimately be too little payoff - and would almost certainly be likely to result in a large exodus of users. Myself possibly included. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 04:27, 9 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose Strongest possible oppose the mandatory use of real/legal names on the internet endager users, not the other way around. --WiZaRd SaiLoR (talk) 04:45, 9 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]
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)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]
  • 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)Reply[reply]

Grants to improve your project[edit]

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