Temporary accounts for unregistered editors
What is a temporary account?
Any time you publish an edit on Wikipedia or other sites hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation without logging into a registered account, a temporary account will be created for you. This account will automatically be given a username. A cookie will be set in your browser when the account is created. This username will be used to attribute all subsequent edits by you, even if your IP address changes.
Why do we need to have usernames?
The MediaWiki software used by Wikipedia and other sites hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation records a username for each contribution. People who create a free registered account can choose their own usernames. People who do not use a registered account are automatically assigned a temporary account.
Previously, your edits would be publicly attributed to your IP address, such as
How long does my temporary account last?
Your temporary account will work for as long as the cookie exists. The cookie is currently set to expire after one year from the first edit.
The following are the most common scenarios in which a temporary account will be irretrievably lost:
- You clear the cookies on your browser.
- You delete the profile on your browser that you used when the temp account was created.
- You used an incognito (private browsing) window, and closed the window.
- The cookie expired.
If your temporary account is lost, then a new temporary account, with a new username, will be automatically generated for you the next time you publish an edit. If you would like a permanent account, you can create a free registered account at any time.
How do I login to my temporary account? What is the password for my temporary account?
It is impossible to log in to a temporary account. There are no passwords for temporary accounts. The only way to be "logged in" as a temporary user is to have the original, unexpired cookie that was set when you made the first edit in that account. You can only access your temp account from the device or browser where it was created. If you want to be able to set a password and log in on other devices, please create a free registered account.
What can I do with my temporary account?
Your temporary account will work at all of the Wikipedias and other SUL-connected wikis hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. You should have very similar capabilities as you did while edits were being attributed to IP addresses. This includes editing most articles on the Wikipedias. With the switch to temporary accounts, you will get one new feature. You will be able to receive notifications about messages from other users.
Some actions, such as uploading photos to Commons, are restricted to users with a free registered account. Registered accounts are permanent, provide better privacy protection for you, and offer many preference settings for customization. Registering a permanent account is quick and easy. You do not need an e-mail address to create a free registered account.
Note: When you create a free registered account, the edit history, notifications, and messages in your old temporary account will not be transferred to your new registered account.
Experienced contributor questions
What does a temporary username look like?
The automatically generated usernames for temporary accounts will begin with a tilde (
~) and the year when the first edit was made by that account. The year will be followed by numbers, which will be broken into groups of five digits, such as
User:~2024-12345-67. Each temporary account will be assigned a unique username. Users cannot register normal accounts with usernames that match this pattern.
In addition to the unique username format, the account type can be detected directly. See the technical information page if your bot or tool needs to differentiate between temporary and permanent account types.
Will the temporary username be unique?
I'm an admin, and I need to calculate a range block. Can I see the IP address of temporary accounts?
If you have advanced user rights, such as the ability to use block other users, you are able to see the IP addresses of temporary accounts. Please see the Access to temporary account IP addresses legal policy and the related Access to temporary account IP addresses FAQ. You will need to opt-in to access through Special:Preferences at your local wiki.
There are privacy risks associated with IP addresses, and they will be visible only to people who need to have that information for effective patrolling. This includes stewards, checkusers, global sysops, admins, and patrollers who meet qualifying thresholds, as well as certain staff at the Wikimedia Foundation.
I have a qualified account. How can I see the IP addresses?
Go to Special:Preferences and opt in.
Will I need to sign the ANPDP?
The access to nonpublic personal data policy (ANPDP) is a legal policy from the Wikimedia Foundation about how checkusers and people with certain other roles must protect non-public personal data that they obtain in the course of their duties. Volunteer admins and patrollers do not need to sign the ANPDP agreement. However, you will need to opt-in to access to IP addresses through Special:Preferences at your local wiki.
How will autoblocks work with temporary accounts?
Autoblocks stop vandals and other high-risk users from continuing to disrupt the projects by immediately creating a new account. Autoblocks for temporary accounts are the same as autoblocks for registered users.
When will these changes reach my wiki?
As of November 2023, temporary accounts may become available on a test wiki in March 2024. Bot operators and tool developers are encouraged to test their tools as early as possible.
As of November 2023, the first deployment to a public pilot wiki (e.g., a low-traffic Wikipedia) is expected no earlier than April/May 2024.