Requests for comment/Global username policy

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The following request for comments is closed. No consensus after 1 month. --Rschen7754 17:42, 19 February 2017 (UTC)


Recently, there has been a discussion on the English Wikipedia local username policy here. Although it is understood that wikis may independently change and enforce their own username policies, multiple users have expressed concern that they would like to "avoid situations where a username that's usable on one wiki isn't on another" (User:Anomie).

On behalf of the discussion participants on the English Wikipedia, I would request the following issues be discussed/commented upon on a global level:

  1. Disallowing non-script characters
    • Previously mentioned reason for support: older computers may not be able to render
  2. Disallowing all non-Latin/English characters
    • Previously mentioned reason for support: more inconvenient to address
    • Previously mentioned reason for oppose: hinder the ability of editors from other wikis (with usernames containing non-Latin/English character) to conveniently contribute to the English Wikipedia (without creating multiple accounts, i.e. the purpose of the unified login system)

It should be noted that although this discussion originated as a discussion regarding the English Wikipedia username policy, some editors have mentioned that implementing any such change to the username policy should be done globally, as not doing so would create unnecessary hurdles for users, degrading the inherent convenience and smooth functioning of the unified login system. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JustBerry (talk)

Additional Note: As was with the discussion on enwp, general consensus seems to suggest not disallowing non-Latin/English characters. However, please consider the issue of disallowing non-script characters. --JustBerry (talk) 13:30, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

Note Regarding OP: My posting of this issue here does not imply my endorsement of the changes proposed above. These changes had been initially raised for discussion on the English Wikipedia by other users. --JustBerry (talk) 13:10, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

@JustBerry: can you clearly define "non-script characters" for this discussion? — xaosflux Talk 04:25, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
  • I was the OP on en-wp and used the term "non-script character", so I think I can answer this. The intent of "script characters" was all characters that are in a reasonable use for the writing of common names in any written language - this captures variations on the Latin set such as diacritics, ideograms of various languages, etc. It may not be easy to define as a strict subset of the Unicode table. Tigraan (talk) 11:33, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose now that we have single user logon across all languages, this doesn't make sense, example: a zhwiki 'crat User:长夜无风 - why shouldn't this be an allowed SUL userid? — xaosflux Talk 03:39, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose Wikipedia and several other projects are composed of several million people in the world, including both Latin and non-Latin languages (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Malayalam, etc.). To do this would close the doors to those who do not dominate our writing system and in step would break into something the purpose of being a free project. Alvaro Molina (Let's Talk) 05:03, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
  • I've always been of the opinion that usernames should be allowed unless they are disruptive, with the word "disruptive" being intentionally open to subjectivity and debate. If someone is using non-script or non-Latin characters, there can be obvious good or bad reasons for them to be doing so, and those cases should be judged as they arise rather than through the creation of a blanket global policy on it. – Ajraddatz (talk) 06:09, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Note - I am not sure that a global username policy is really the way forward. Each project could use their own guidelines for permissible usernames. If this means e.g. some usernames on Commons are not allowed on en-wp, then too bad; if you want to avoid such cases, the SUL policy will be the intersection of all restrictions on all projects which does not sound reasonable to me.
This being said... Background is this case where the username "☈" was quasi-unanimously rejected (the only opposition was yours truly). The arguments used were applicable to almost any Unicode character. Once the case was closed, I opened the thread in order to clarify the situation.
I never thought anyone would support banning non-Latin. The reason I mentioned it is that many of the reasons invoked for forbidding non-script apply to a lot of non-Latin characters as well:
  1. Browser/font compatibility: what matters is not how many setups fail to render non-script characters such as ☈, but how many setups fail to render such a glyph while being able to render non-Latin script such as 夜. It is not self-evident that this proportion is significant. If someone has data on that point (DuckDuckGo gave me nothing), please stand up...
  2. Hard to read/memorize: "©@$$" is not really much more complicated than "כהן" for non-Hebrew speakers. Similarly for Japanese, Arabic, etc. There was an argument of accessibility that audio readers choke on such names, but (assuming they do not choke on Hebrew/Japanese/Arabic/etc.) they would choke on "dcjqdljghz" as well. So the argument would be, in reality, "choose a name that can be pronounced easily".
  3. Impersonation issues: it is harder to catch slight character differences across the Unicode table (DocTree gave the example 🐱 U+1F431 'CAT FACE' vs. 😻 U+1F638 'GRINNING CAT FACE WITH SMILING EYES'). My answer to that is User:Examplě or User:Çat or other similar possibilities exist already within the script domain. (Moreover, that is a technical issue, not an issue of policy, and possibly a solution in search of problem.)
One could make a reasonable case that because of the large use for non-Latin script (in particular, people whose first language is written in non-Latin script) overrides such concerns, but the use of smileys etc. is less justified in usernames. Thing is, so far, none has made this case explicitly, on en-wp or here.
My $0.02: allow all, no blanket prohibition on any character (except MediaWiki reserved characters, obviously). That the use of non-script is somehow "less justified" is a value judgement that I do not see as an enforcement base - I would not use a smiley in my username, but I recognize others might wish it. Tigraan (talk) 12:17, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
Oppose Oppose on disallowing nonlatin per xaosflux and AlvaroMolina. Oppose Leaning oppose on disallowing nonscript per no data yet to analyze scope of impact (of render issues, unnecessarily inconvenient, and/or impersonation issues) to warrant a global change in policy. --JustBerry (talk) 13:23, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
@Xaosflux: @AlvaroMolina: What are your thoughts on disallowing nonscript characters? Please see Tigraan's definition of nonscript characters above, as they were the OP on enwp. --JustBerry (talk) 13:23, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
To broad as is, "characters that are in a reasonable use for the writing of common names in any written language". That would rule out characters like "2" or "~" that are certainly acceptable in most wiki communities. — xaosflux Talk 14:07, 16 January 2017 (UTC)
Well, ok. What about "all characters for writing names, plus en:Basic_Latin_(Unicode_block)", then? Tigraan (talk) 17:16, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
I am against this proposal because most of the Foundation's projects are edited by people all over the world (including Japanese, Chinese, Arabs, Persians, etc.). Include a rule that prevents these users from naming you of users using their native writing system would be to force them to have to use translators to write their name using the Latin writing system, which would discourage them from collaborating on our projects. I think this gives more for something like a discussion on each wiki and not a global policy, we also have multilingual projects like Meta and Commons where anyone should be able to collaborate with their native username. Alvaro Molina (Let's Talk) 17:40, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose Disallowing non-Latin characters is completely ridiculous if you claim to be an international movement. As for non-script characters, whether a particular username would be appropriate is subjective and not worth a blanket ban, and also this isn't actually causing a problem. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. BethNaught (talk) 18:59, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Symbol oppose vote oversat.svg Strong oppose: Not allowing non-Latin characters actually doesn't make sense. KGirlTrucker81 (talk) 03:50, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose both suggestions. Disallowing non-Latin characters is a preposterous suggestion. The use of non-script characters in usernames may or may not be disruptive, so decisions about the appropriateness of such usernames should be made on a case-by-case basis. Edgar181 (talk) 13:53, 23 January 2017 (UTC)