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Old comments[edit]

I propose the Organization for Anonymous Wikipedians, open to all Wikipedians and dedicated to preserving the rights of those who choose to remain unregistered should views such as those expressed in this proposal ever become close to becoming a majority in Wikipedia. -Anonymous Coward 2012

Just my two cents: I have been using Wikipedia for over two years. I have never registered for an account and I make minor edits (spelling, grammar, etc) when I see them. I think there are many people like me and that implementing the ideas in the main article would discourage minor fixes that help perfect Wikipedia. -Jim — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 6 July 2005 (UTC)

I've made dozens of edits from a variety of IPs in recent weeks, all anonymously. I started with fixing typos and repairing poorly written sentences, and I have more recently begun adding information and even writing paragraphs. I have a "to do" list of stubs to expand once I finish my final exams for this term; perhaps someday I'll actually register an account. In short, I'm a solid Wikipedian in the making. Yet I rarely register for any website and would never have made a single edit had I been forced to register with Wikipedia first.

I agree with number 5, but the others are too limiting and take away from the spirt of wikipedia. Noldoaran 06:06, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)

No! Number 5 is the worst one! An article is never completed!!! -- 08:15, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Well you should grab a copy of the Wikipedia dump, install mediawiki, and run it on the domain www.closed-encyclopedia.com or like. It won't be Wikipedia anymore, naturally. Maybe your idea gathers more people and better articles. Let me doubt it. But nobody blocks you from trying. You probably should avoid to change the very essence of Wikipedia. It works, you see it, since if it won't you wouldn't be here. --grin 12:17, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)

[[1]]: Another good illustration why m:Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles. Adam 14:38, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

  • At least this way we can see the IP. Anjouli 14:58, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  • [2], and others from the same anon in the same page: Counter-example - Muriel Victoria 15:17, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  • Given what goes on at Wikipedia:Conflicts between users, I don't think that anonymity is the main problem. There will always people who want to use articles as a platform for their political or moral views, and if they can't do it as anon, they'll just log in. Personally, I've had lots of really good anon edits to articles I've started and a couple of bad ones. Bmills 15:24, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
    • I could point you to equally horrendous edit histories caused by logged in users - however, I'm not sure what I would prove by doing so. Martin

Of course registered users make horrendous edits and behave badly in other ways. But at least you can argue with them. I find it really insulting when articles are anonymously messed around with, and I'm sure it terminally discourages contributors less thick-skinned than me. Of course if you ban anonymous edits some vandals will just acquire transient IDs to vandalise and leave, so I would also make it harder to register, by requiring an email address and imposing (say) a 12-hour waiting period. See my suggestions for improving WP in this respect at my user-page. Adam 00:20, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Um...Maybe a change in tactics is required. When we notice an anonymous vandal, simply make a note of it and come back an hour (or more) later to fix the page. My guess is that many vandals "get off" on causing people to jump on the changes. Just ignore them (of course, track their damage) and they'll go away. -Anthropos 00:52, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
That's my feeling too. I think that in general we react too quickly, in this situation and many others. But it's a chicken-and-egg situation, in that the current tools (especially "Recent changes") encourage this way of working. Until we change the tools we can't expect the way of working to change; Until we change our way of working there's no incentive to change the tools. Andrewa 12:26, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I'm totally against blocking all pages for anonymous edits, but I think that pages where there is a long history of anonymous vandalism should be blocked for anonymous users. For example, the George W. Bush article could be served by only allowing user edits. The talk page can be left open, so that people who don't want to login can request an edit there...

Seems to me people are not really interested in discussing this seriously. That's a great shame. I recently opened a topic on the village pump along these lines. There were a few contributions, then the thing got scrolled off. It's pretty apathetic. Personally I feel that a simple restriction to a read-only view of WP for non-registered users should suffice - the other restrictions proposed here are too much. I think that most anonymous "vandalism" is the result of people not realising that a) they can change stuff, so they don't think the changes will "stick", b) that once they realise that changes do stick they either write something for the sake of it which is invariably childish or thoughtless, and c) if they persist it's because they get a reaction. A recent exchange on the vandalism alerts confirms this occurring, because the anonymous "vandal" was honest enough to own up and explain himself. I suspect he'll go on to make a fine contributor. Here's part of the exchange:

*Thanks, I just found a testing page I had a play around in. Also I couldn't think what else to write, that was the first thing that came to mind. To be honest when I chose to write that I didn't believe that it would actually update the site. When I realised it really was real, that's when I began deleting all my entries.

Others who spend a little more time and thought looking at WP will "get it" and be happy to sign up. Of course this won't trap the truly persistent vandals but I reckon it will stop nearly all of the casual vandalism. This needs much more serious discussion and if there is a consensus, it should jolly well be implemented! But it seems to me it's damned hard to get anything actually done around here. Why is that? GRAHAMUK 23:05, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Because real policy stuff like this is decided on the mailing lists (but then worked out here). Whether or not to allow anon edits should be a per wiki policy decision. For example, I would support blocking anons from editing in the article space on the English Wikipedia but I would not support blocking anon edits at all on Wikibooks. The reason: Wikipedia, especially the English Wikipedia, is already fairly famous and has thousands of editors. The same is not true for Wikibooks. So for the English Wikipedia anon edits are more of a nuisance since such a high percentage of them are vandalism (I've also tracked this and found that the great majority of IPs used by vandals never return to edit again). But this level of vandalism is tolerable on smaller wikis that are trying to increase the number of editors (about 2/3 of all anon edits are valid and many users started as anons). --Maveric149 23:41, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
What Adam is suggesting is not just forcing "anons" to log in, he's suggesting a series of Everything2 style security measures. He wants there to a steeper power structure, where only trusted users can edit content. Adam's vision is not a wiki, it is a different kind of online community altogether. To say this kind of transformation is unlikely to happen is a vast understatement. What he suggests is contrary to the strongly held and deeply ingrained culture of Wikipedia. Even if he could convince half of Wikipedia, Jimbo wouldn't countenance it. Adam can always start a fork, of course. -- Tim Starling 07:07, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
OIC. That idea is so DOA as not to warrant mention. But I still think we should consider the pros and cons of what I wrote. --Maveric149 09:06, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)

This really hinges on whether you view wikipedia as being primarily about process or product. My own take is that it has to be product. We're here to make an encyclopedia. If not, what is the process? You cannot have a process of making an encyclopedia unless you accept that the product must come some time. Otherwise you have the process of never finishing an encyclopedia. I've seen a quote to the effect that a finished article is just that, dead. With all due respect, and using language I would not normally use on wikipedia, this is a heap of shit. With the exception of articles on living people or events in train, a finished article should be the ambition.

Now, the concept of collaborative effort is what makes this place, so you do not want to lose it. However, overwriting other people's work without explanation is not collaboration, and I know, because I've done it. My view is moving towards placing major edits to articles on the talk page for a couple of days first to see if there is a reaction. Then the edits can be implemented, with any objections integrated. Meanwhile, the article is not caught in a dixxying round of change and counter-change. Obviously, this would not apply to fixing typos, links, format or clearly documented errors of fact.

As to anon editors, my view is that non-logged-in users should be able to create new articles and edit talk pages as well as pages like Village Pump and Requested articles. I would be relustant to extend this to VfD.

In summary, I'm not sure that the specific solutions being proposed are the best, the issue of product and how it can be achieved, is not going to go away. Bmills 10:00, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Regarding your suggestion for Wikipedia: "Registration as a User should be made more difficult to deter the frivolous and the mischevious. Registration would be by IP-based email (not a Hotmail account) and there would be a 24-hour waiting period." I have to say that many users (like me) have no IP-based email (which I suppose is the same as ISP email) but only use services like Hotmail, Yahoo etc. It should also be noted that many Hotmail and Yahoo users pay money for their email (for example if they want more space), not all of them get it for free. Personally I have been unable to register at some other websites because they required ISP email, something that not all users have (for example users who buy Internet prepaid cards or use netcafes or change ISP very often). I would not like to see this happen in Wikipedia. You cannot know how another person connects to the Internet and you cannot assume that anybody has or is willing to use ISP email. Best wishes and Peace Profound Optim 23:17, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My thanks to all the above contributors for their thoughts. Some valid objections to my proposals have been raised. But BMills raises the basic point - how is WP ever to become an encyclopaedia rather than just a work in progress? On the present model, it will never be an encyclopaedia, just a playground for encyclopaedists. I would like to hear some suggestions for how this issue might be addressed. Adam Carr 03:56, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

The most popular idea seems to be some form of sifter project, which has the potential to reconcile the two aims. See also referees and w:Wikipedia approval mechanism. This issue is likely to come to head with Jimbo's desire for some form of CD version of Wikipedia at soon as it becomes reasonable. : ChrisG 13:27, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)
All encylopedias are works in progress. Why else do they get revised? The cycle on wikipedia is simply faster and more piecemeal. 02:53, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

[3]: Another good illustration why m:Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles. Adam 14:38, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Huh? The only edit on that history page by an anonymous user, before that comment was posted here, was a legitimate edit!

Why does Wikipedia allow anonymous editing?[edit]

I've never quite understood why Wikipedia allows anonymous edits - the list of vandals almost entirely consists of anonymous IPs. Is there a policy reason for this? Wouldn't it be better to require everyone to have an account so that there can at least be some accountability for edits? -- ChrisO 16:45, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

the main reason of anonymous IP being listed as vandals comes from the fact that many people reports as vandalism thing that are not vandalism.
the reason why anonymous are allowed to edit seem pretty obvious to me. Most of the registered user have tried the edit button before registering. this is a matter of trust, if you trust the anonymous, he may trust you back, but if you distrust him, he will not trust you. Izwalito 01:57, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
In practice all edits to Wikipedia are anonymous since editors may use as many usernames as they like. You have no guarantee that my, or any other, username has any meaning (although I am one of the few who uses their real name). Usernames are really only useful for those who wish to build a reputation. The more subtle vandals, not caring about reputations, have in the past made full use of usernames for their nefarious work. Any apparent accountability is pretty weak in my experience. -- Derek Ross 16:55, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
One reason is that people first visiting the site might not realise how great it is and so won't go to the palaver of signing-up. After a few anon edits the greatness hits them and then signing-up doesn't seem like a palaver after all. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 16:57, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It's been advocated as a way to get more editors involved. I think at some point the anons and sock puppets (fake user accounts) are going to get so damaging and time-consuming that WP will have to move to some sort of real-world ID check, even if it means losing some contributors. Stan 17:09, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Most vandals are anonymous users. The converse, that most anonymous users are vandals, is NOT true. I've encountered many good contributions by anonymous people. moink 19:57, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Absolutely, 100% agree with the above. My "thing" around here is writing new articles, and so I end up making disproportionately a lot more typos than most. I'd say of all the typos that get fixed, the anons are responsible for 70-80% of them. --Raul654 21:56, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
to say that most vandalism are made through anonymous IP is closer to the truth than to say that most vandals are anonymous users. remember to comment on content/action not on people. Izwalito 01:57, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)
You're hardly impartial on this subject, moink, being an anonymous user yourself ;). Of course, I'm anonymous too, because I haven't specified my name or age or gender or place of residence on my user page. Anyway, there's no process here to verify who anybody is, even if people were to choose to say. We're really talking about "unregistered" users. 168... 20:20, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Yes, you're right, I should have said "unregistered users." I am very purposefully not giving a full rundown of my age, gender, nationality, education etc. on my user page, because I would like my contributions to speak for themselves. I enjoy the equality here, and that people don't resort to ad-hominems instead of making clear arguments. moink 20:46, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The Anons probably just like to expose their working IPs. Kinda an exhibitionism because of a a lack of nudist camps where they live in meatspace. --Menchi (Talk)â 20:23, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

LOL, You do hava a sense of humour, Menchi! IMO, Our tactics on vandalism should be changed, not simply blocking any anonymous contributions. On one hand, many current wikipedians (including myself) started off with anon. contribs. before actually getting an account. On the other hand, if a troll determined to do damage, how can blocking anonymous contributions stop them?

Given this, "Most vandals are anonymous users. The converse, that most anonymous users are vandals, is NOT true.", we just need more eyeballs on anon. contribs.. Ktsquare 02:09, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

One more thing, the discussion has been focused on anonymous vandalism. Advertisments have also gained momentum recently. Maybe we should put every tactic into a grand strategy of preventing Unwanted contributions. Ktsquare 02:15, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Ill-advised hard security measures will inhibit the casual generosity that makes Wikipedia possible. We're all here because somebody trusted us -- nobodies! completely random strangers! -- to scribble all over their Web site. We rewarded that trust with our hard work and made a quality reference work because of it. To turn around and say that we won't extend that trust to others is ungrateful, illogical, and hypocritical. The Wiki way works. We have a great encyclopedia because of it. --Evan 17:28, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Exactly! I started off as an anon and I'm sure many other Wikipedians also started that way. What we need are even better ways to track all non-trusted contributors (both anons and new user accounts). But I'm still not philosophically opposed to one day blocking anons if/when their good edits and the recruitment factor are outweighed by vandalism. I just think that that would be a sad day and that we should find clever ways to avoid that evil. IMO, the current situation is not bad enough to seriously consider not allowing anon edits in light of the great good it has done, and continues to do, for our goals. --Maveric149 22:37, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I frequently check anon IP edits. More often than not, they are beneficial. I imagine a lot of people read an article, and just decide to fix a typo. It's easy to focus on just the high profile bad behaviour. -- Tarquin 22:48, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Tarquin, most anon edits are ok. And though registering would create a barrier to some vandalists, most of vandalism would simply shift to user related vandalism. We would run the risk that the amount of vandalism hardly diminishes, but that we would have to check every new entry instead of being able to concentrate on anon edits. TeunSpaans 08:27, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I do agree that there should be limits on anonymous users, but the ideas in this article would make making an article on wikipedia take over a month to complete!!! Ilyanep 14:31, 25 Jan 2004 (PST)

See Anti-vandalism_ideas for some ideas on this (and add your own). Gwicke 14:40, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)

more from en:village pump[edit]

Within two hours today, three articles written by me have been vandalised by anonymous persons (en:Robert Menzies, en:George Panandreou, junior and en:Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and one subjected to a edit which, while not strictly vandalism, was destructive and pointless (en:The Sixties). Users of real encyclopaedia do not expect to open articles and see the word FUCK where they expected to find an article. What happens when parents and schools use Wikipedia and find this kind of vandalism?. Sure it is reverted fairly quickly, but Wikipedia has a high level of traffic and the vandalised version will be seen by some people. When is Wikipedia going to have a serious debate on the proposition users should not be allowed to edit articles? Adam 04:08, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

If you force vandals to log in, it will be harder to spot their edits. If you do not allow newcomers to edit (as your proposal suggests), thousands of useful corrections will be lost, and many potential contributors will not join. More promising, I think, is the proposal to disallow typing students, curious people and friends of gays. See Friends of gays should not be allowed to edit articles. -- Tim Starling 04:27, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)
Three comments. (1) wikipedia isn't entirely "kid-safe" (nor is life), this isn't a bowdlerised consesus of human knowledge, kids could also find articles about the word en:fuck, racial slurs, sexual positions, etc, some of which are obviously linked from articles they may be using. (2) How would making users get an account (a process which involves simply chosing a username and password) protect the site from vandalism? We already have the power to block IPs, and actually, the very fact these edits are from anonymous users means they currently stand out in RC (edits by logged-in users can even be hidden, to make this even easier). (3) Who here got sucked into wikipedia by the very feature which you want to remove? The majority of people test the water by making edits as anons. I generally wont get a user account at a site unless I have to, or after using the site for a while I find I want to. Nutshell: I like the system as it is (can you tell?).  :) fabiform | talk 04:32, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Note that Adam Carr's proposal is not simply to force users to get an account, but also to implement an Everything2-style hierarchy, whereby new users (after email confirmation and 24 hour waiting period) can only submit new articles, not edit existing ones. Only after a user becomes trusted will they be allowed to edit. -- Tim Starling 04:37, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)
That's not going to happen so long as I and people like me are still here. But we do need better ways to track untrusted edits. Hiding logged-in users is one step. I would also like to be able to see edits by rank newbie logged-in users in their own RC as well (maybe with anon edits). We should also continue adding neat-o features for logged-in users in order to add more incentive for anons to log-in. IMO, the anon interface should be optimized for readers - who are, by far, the number one users of that interface. But "Edit this page" should be there for everybody. --mav
I don't understand what hiding logged in users accomplishes. How is this a good thing?
It's just that Adam was concerned with the kind of contributions anon users are making. If you hide logged in users on RC you can see the recent edits by people who are only known by IP address in a clear list - these are the edits which are (arguably) most likely to need reverting (vandalism, test pages, self promotion, etc etc). fabiform | talk 06:05, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Yes, we were talking about similar measures via IRC recently. I'm particularly interested by the idea of coordinated review -- some method for allowing us to check edits without so much duplicated effort or occasional missed vandalism. But I'm certainly opposed to any kind of restriction imposed on anonymous editors, including moderation queues or stable versions. -- Tim Starling 04:51, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)
Personally I think users should be encourage to weed (RC, new articles, random page etc) and report things that need sorting out to cleanup (or deleted pages, etc). More important of course is for users to find the time to sort out the articles linked in cleanup (have you seen how long it is lately?). fabiform | talk 05:23, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Props to myself for reverting the vandalism to the first three articles in 2, 3, and 3 minutes. ;-) - snoyes 04:53, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification Tim (I've read the link now). Other than the fact that I'm a user who jump into debates without following the links in the questions (sorry) I think I'm good for wikipedia. In fact (wikipediaholic?) I've made over 1000 edits and I've not even been here a month yet. I started by fixing problems I saw in other people's articles and replacing naff stubs (i.e. Editing). There is no way I would have joined wikipedia with the above restrictions in place. It's the open structure and ease of access that makes wikipedia what it is (special). fabiform | talk 04:54, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Ah well, I see I am not going to persuade many people on this issue. But sooner or later WP is going to have to choose between process and outcome, because the two are untimately not compatible. Real encyclopaedias, ones that readers rely on and come back to and cite in their essays etc, have both stability of content (ie the article on fascism presents the same facts this week as it did last week) and quality control (ie those facts are in fact facts and not somebody's illiterate ramblings). At present WP has neither of those things. Until it does WP will not achieve its objectives of being (and I quote) a complete and accurate encyclopaedia. I certainly would not cite a fact I read at WP without checking it somewhere, whereas I would do so with something I read in the Britannica. At the moment WP exists to satisfy the needs of its contributors (including me), not its readers or potential readers. Sooner or later this must change. Adam 05:27, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

PS I didn't find Tim's parody of my page particularly amusing.

It wasn't my parody, I'm just promoting it. Alas, I can't lay claim to such a stunning display of wit. -- Tim Starling 05:32, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)
Real encyclopedias are also updated yearly. You may want to take a look at en:User:Jimbo_Wales/Pushing_To_1.0. We can talk of two separate encyclopedias - one peer reviewed and ready for mass distribution, the other restricted to editing on this site. Edits to that one should be made on this one and not the other way around. Changing this one wont get you anywhere. --Jiang 05:40, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Adam, I don't think we should want to turn Wikipedia into something just like every other Wikipedia...it's not Britannica, and it's probably overly optimistic to think it ever will be. It's Wikipedia, it's just different. As for your main idea, to limit the ways anons can edit, seems like a bad idea to me, or at least an "anti-Wiki" idea. It should be as easy as possible for anonymous IPs to edit. We have plenty of people to catch vandalism...if one of your articles vandalized, it will be reverted quickly. If they had sat there for weeks, your complaint would make more sense. You shouldn't get so personally offended when one of "your" articles has "fuck" plastered all over it, or whatever. Just relax :) Adam Bishop 05:45, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Adam, some of what you're talking about doesn't have its roots in random vandalism, which is what you introduced this topic as. Jiang's already answered part of your point (wiki is not paper, it's not static, it's not peer reviewed in the scholarly sense). Wiki does have a problem dealing with NPOV disputes, and needs decent systems for dealing with conflicts between users, edit wars, etc etc (these are evolving, but aren't there yet). I think your aims might better be met by concentrating on those areas, random vandalism is pretty easy to catch, and vandals generally disappear when they see we fix things quickly (broken window theory).  :) fabiform | talk 05:46, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I think Adam has some good point, but possibly slightly prematurely. I think Wikipedia is still in a primarily "collecting knowledge" stage, where most of the world's knowledge that might be appropriate for an encyclopedia is not in Wikipedia. Within a few years, I think this will no longer be the case, and Wikipedia will be fairly complete, missing mostly obscure things and being mainly in need of revision and clarification rather than expansion. When that becomes the case, I think something will have to change. Clearly an article that has been painstakingly concocted over a period of a year should not be subjected to massive detrimental edits by a group of new users. So I think at some point in the future we might want to start flagging certain article as "this article is essentially done", and have some way whereby further edits must pass through at least a minimal review process to ensure they really are improvements. --Delirium 05:56, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)

Jiang refers to the proposal for a Wikipedia.1 or whatever - this would amount to much the same thing as I proposed at the Meta page linked to above, because articles at WP which were peer-judged to be "complete" and "accurate" would be promoted to WP1, where they could not be further edited except by agreement. We would thus have a 2-tier WP, one where the soundness of articles was in some sense guaranteed, and one where caveat lector prevailed. Delirium may well be right that WP is not yet at the stage where this starts happening. But the sooner the better would be my view. Adam 06:14, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Sorry, no beans. That would fork the content. All editing should be done on one, and only one version - the one on Wikipedia. Periodically a snapshot of the article can be taken and served in static form as part of a stable release. The criteria for deciding what to snapshot would be decided later and will likely grow from our featured article process. --mav 07:12, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Adopting a peremptory tone won't make the issue go away, Mav. There is a big difference between a pile of bricks, no matter how large, and a house. Sooner or later the time for brick-amassing will end and the time for creating a permanent structure will arrive. You may be right that it isn't time yet, but playing King Knut will not cut it for ever. Adam 08:11, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
You seem to be very alone in your viewpoint on this issue. So If you stop bringing it up then it will go away. --mav
I'd like Wikipedia to remain a pile of bricks forever. I think it's a wondeful thing just as that. But I'd also like to use these bricks to build a house. Perhaps even several houses. One of these may be Wikipedia 1.0, another may be a G-rated Wikipedia, suitable for use by primary schools, with its own domain and URLs. Still others may be stand-alone CD-based versions that will run on a 386 in the 3rd world. It's all possible. This is what the filter project promises. Andrewa 08:48, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Actually I don't think Adam is alone in his vision for a "guaranteed" version of Wikipedia (aka 1.0). Creating that version (performing a filter, whatever you want to call it) is going to result in edits to various articles. Whenever appropiate these edits will of course get cross-ported to Wikipedia (or take in place on Wikipedia and get re-exported to 1.0, same thing). Just taking a snapshot would be pretty much pointless... it would contain just as much typos and errors as fact as a live version does. There is interest in this... if someone came along and stumped up cash and developers, others would work on it. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 09:03, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
There's no need to make special edits to create a reviewed version, in fact I think that's needless duplication and will create all sorts of problems. Any needed edits should happen in the normal fashion, in the normal Wikipedia. All that's necessary is a way to flag particular versions of articles as approved. If no version of an article is approved, then it's not part of the reviewed version of Wikipedia. If one is, then the latest reviewed version is what the reader sees. I did a detailed proposal based on this process a while back. Andrewa 15:54, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I share a lot of Adam's concerns, but not his proposed solution. Sooner or later an accurate free encyclopedia is going to have to start verifying that it lives up to the words accurate and encyclopedia. The only way to do the former is to start freezing candidate articles and institute some kind of peer review system. Then successful candidates would need to be locked and only edited for some kind of yearly audit. The verification of the second term is undergoing some level of debate at Wikipedia:Deletion policy polls. Mu suspicion is that when the product comes to be constructed, many of the 200,000 articles will never make the cut. As for vandalism, my suggestion would be a three strikes and you're out policy. Ban people who have had two warnings on their talk page for verifiable acts of vandalism. By the way, the introduction of Adam's sexuality into this debate was, to say the least, uncalled for. Bmills 10:00, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I acknowledge that there is more than one way to achieve these objctives. Pcb21 and Bmills's suggestions are on the same path as mine, but more sophisticated in their means. Incidentally I don't think Tim's link to the parody page was directed at me in a hostile sense. Adam 10:18, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

In defense of Tim, it was a coincidence and not a dig at Adam Carr. What he was referring to with Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles was that most of the vandalism from anons is some variation of the dumb utterance "Josh is gay". The joke being, banning these "friends" will get rid of the vandlalism. This is perhaps obvious to folks on the IRC channel or admins, but too much an inside joke. Fuzheado 11:58, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I don't know if I should be editing this page, but it doesn't say please don't, so... I just want to point out that the above-referenced 'freinds of gays' page is actually POV, in being somewhat pro-gays: i.e., it blithely assumes that vandals are posting 'JOSH IS A FAG!!1!' because they are, in fact, proud of having a gay friend! Fyi. Oh, and I notice I couldn't be bothered to create a Meta-wiki login (apparently my Wikipedia login doesn't transfer?) I suppose that's my comment on this page's actual subject..Eaglizard, roughly 9 Oct 2005

Adam - you're rather preaching to the converted in many ways. There are lots of people who think that some technical changes will vastly improve Wikipedia's usefulness for the average reader. The questions become what those changes should be. An E2-style experience-based (or slashdot-style karma-based) system is one approach. There are others. All of them have strengths and weaknesses, so there's no magic bullet here.

Of course, the only method that's proven so far is open editing mixed with MeatBall:SoftSecurity. All the rest is conjecture. I'd be interested in seeing test projects that use these restrictive, short-sighted and ungenerous ideas, so we could compare which is more productive. Seems to me the biggest, most popular and most successful online encyclopedia might be the model to emulate. --Evan 20:39, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I've drafted an alternate, less restrictive proposal that limits but doesn't completely ban anonymous users. My reasoning is based on my own experience when I first discovered Wikipedia. It took a few edits before I understood how the system worked and felt motivated enough to register. I think we should make it easy for anonymous users to get started, but establish some limits so they can't wreak havoc. The occasional problem of kids who post things like "My girlfriend sucks" is manageable under the current system. The real problem is how we deal with people who get a kick out of systematically doing this to 50 or a 200 pages, or with trolls who decide to harass a user they don't like for some reason. That level of vandalism has the potential to make Wikipedia an unpleasant experience and drive away serious users, and that's what we should try to deter. --Sheldon Rampton 22:47, 3 Feb 2004 (UTC)

What part of WIKI don't you understand?[edit]

Listen... son... allowing everyone to edit is what makes Wikipedia special. This program is doing fine allowing everyone to edit. If you remove the anarchy from Wikipedia, it will collapse. You don't understand this? Why don't we make people pay to use it too? Bunch of facists. What makes Wikipedia different from NAZI supported encyclopedias such as Encarta, etc., is that on Wikipedia, there is no division between users and creators. --NoPetrol 08:13, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia first, and a wiki as a distant second. The wiki is a tool; if some feature which most other wikis use isn't usefull for creating an encyclopedia then I say dump it. Thue 10:59, 26 May 2005 (UTC)Reply

Why registration is bad[edit]

From here. It's about internet forums, but I clipped out the parts general enough to be relevant to a wiki.

  • Registration keeps out good posters. Imagine someone with an involving job related to your forum comes across it. This person is an expert in her field, and therefore would be a great source of knowledge for your forum; but if a registration, complete with e-mail and password, is necessary before posting, she might just give up on posting and do something more important. People with lives will tend to ignore forums with a registration process.
  • Registration lets in bad posters. On the other hand, people with no lives will thrive on your forum. Children and Internet addicts tend to have free time to go register an account and check their e-mail for the confirmation message. They will generally make your forum a waste of bandwidth.
  • Registration attracts trolls. If someone is interested in destroying a forum, a registration process only adds to the excitement of a challenge. One might argue that a lack of registration will just let "anyone" post, but in reality anyone can post on old-type forum software; registration is merely a useless hassle.
  • Anonymity is a virtue. On the Internet, privacy concerns are always on the reader's mind. Why make your users worry? Let them be as anonymous as they want.
  • Anonymity counters vanity. On a forum where registration is required, or even where people give themselves names, a clique is developed of the elite users, and posts deal as much with who you are as what you are posting. On an anonymous forum, if you can't tell who posts what, logic will overrule vanity.

-- 01:32, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

To be fair, Wikipedia does not require an email address to register. Anyone who would be deterred from posting because of Wikipedia's registration process is probably not really that interested in making a contribution anyway. However, I do fundamentally agree with you: anonymous users must be allowed to make changes. It's how I started out, so I do have sympathy. 19:11, 17 March 2006 (UTC)Reply

Internet Anonymity is an illusion[edit]

few are those who are truly anonymous on Internet. the difference between IP contributor and registered contributor is some tools such as the personal page, and the talk page, and the possibility for non static IP users to be easily recognized. ~~

Why registration is Good[edit]

Very simple. Let me give you an example. is a proxy server for the largest ISP in South Africa. Now, imagine that everyone agrees that someone using that IP has been violating wiki policies of personal attacks, NPOV, and 3 revert rules for many months. What are you going to do about that? If you block that IP, you block many other users. This is also a problem in other cases when IPs are assigned automatically by ISP. You will have to block a range of IPs to block one user. I disagree with all other suggestions by Adam Carr. The only change that needs to be made is that only registered users with a valid ISP assigned emails should be able to edit. This will solve these problems. People who don't have ISP based emails should be able to talk to admins and get an account by some other form of verification. This place is growing. Pretty soon you will have thousands of trolls, trouble makes, violators of wiki policies, advertisers, spammers, etc. They will annoy enough good editors that most of them will leave. Given that, I think requiring registration with valid ISP based email is not only good but essential. OneGuy 18:14, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I will also add that registering with a user ID is more anonymous than not registering. If you edit without an ID, your IP can be seen by everyone. That is less anonymous! If someone knows your IP, he knows where you live and other information available via IP. It's also possible that you can be hacked if you have open ports. At least anyone can ping bomb you or something like that, slowing down your computer if not knocking you off completely, especially if the hacker has fast connection like T1 and you are on dial up. So the argument that registrations should not be required because people like anonymity doesn't make any sense here. The opposite is true OneGuy 18:47, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Third argument: Many people above have claimed that unregistered users make valuable contributions. True, but if you make registration a requirement that doesn't mean you will lose these contributors. Most likely these people would register and continue to contribute. They edit without registering because they can. That doesn't mean they would not contribute if they have to register, especially if it is explained that registering is far more anonymous than exposing your IP to everyone. Even if wiki loses a few good editors, the benefits outweigh the harms. Far more valuable editors would leave this place if they see it as a useless site infested with trolls, POV pushers, personal insults, and helpless admins who cannot block people because blocking dynamic IPs could potentially block everyone who is using that ISP. Let me give an example. A decade ago on USENT alt.sex.* newsgroups used to have useful postings. Once the spam became a problem, these groups died. Everyone left except the spammers. Other newsgroups went through this later. Once the trolling and personal insults became common, almost all valuable posters left. Potentially without stricter policies, this is most likely the future of wiki, a place filled with trolls, POV pusher, and people debating each other endlessly (including me since I am pretty good at responding if other trolls are doing this to me), unless the policy is changed. No edits without registering with a valid ISP email. Exceptions can be made for people who do not have valid ISP email if they talk to admins OneGuy 21:59, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I agree with part of this argument.
  • Take me for example. I started out with wikipedia in just the last few months. I found out about it because I was looking for something on Google, and a wikipedia link popped up. I've used wiki software elsewhere, so I thought that a wikipedia was a good idea.
  • I've done far more editing of existing articles than creating new ones. Typically my contributions have been following links, and making small improvements. Telling people that they should start out making new articles, but not changing existing ones is exactly the opposite of what makes sense to me.
  • I am working on a few articles about the bond market (mortgage backed securities, interest rate derivatives, etc.) because that is my area of expertise, and I feel that it is right for a user to make a contribution. If I get tied up in some "war" with some other users, I'll be out. I don't really have anything to prove, and I don't need to waste my time doing a service for people who don't want the service. (My point being that the "bad" users can easily discourage the "good" users, as happened on some of the usenet groups.)
  • I don't know if having a valid ISP email address is the right answer:
    • A lot of people I know use e-mail services from their employer or their University.
    • There are perfectly reasonable people who user internet cafe's, etc.
    • Some of the worst users (IMHO) are registered.
    • Lots of people use gmail (from google) and other similar services, possibly because they don't want to expose their physical location, etc. to anyone who might read wikipedia, etc. 01:55, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

And in fact, I appear as an unregistered user (above) because I did not realize until after I finished my submission that this is a different wiki than wikipedia (where I am registered as User:Mpearl). 01:57, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Employer or University emails are fine too. I was talking about free emails yahoo, hotmail, google, etc. By ISP e-mail I meant any e-mail service where someone cannot easily create several hundred accounts. Google email doesn't make you anonymous! If you send an email via gmail, yahoo etc, the IP is added into the headers by these free services. Check the headers by sending yourself an email via gmail. Also, editing unregistered on wiki gives away your location because your IP can be seen by everyone. As for some of the worst users being registered, exactly. They can be easily dealt with by admins and arbitrators if the registration requires valid emails. There is no other way to deal with these people because they would create several accounts. For example, after RFC was posted on a registered user because he was constantly insulting other users on talk pages, the guy simply gave up that ID! He can create another ID a few weeks later. That made RFC against that user useless. The other solution (currently being used) is to block a range of IPs. That is a poor solution because it effects many users from that ISP (or university, public library, internet cafe etc). I don't think most admins can block a range of IPs for longer than a day or two because of this problem. The simple solution is requiring registrations with some kind of valid emails. Exceptions should be allowed if a user talks to an admin for an account from free email (and the admin is satisfied that nothing bad happened from his IP in last few weeks). Without that, this place one day (as it grows and more trolls find "fun" here) will become a joke like most USENET newsgroups. Most good editors would leave, considering it a waste of time. If some good editors are lost because of registration (and I don't think that will happen - people will register), the benefits outweigh the harms OneGuy 03:28, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think that it's only a matter of time before some SkriptKiddy starts mounting a DDOS edit attack on wikipedia. How could we possibly hope to handle that kind of attack? Of course the flipside is that any kind of automated system to prevent vandalism just adds to the alure of cracking the protection, so either way we have some problems. Registration will disuade casual vandalism tho, so IMHO it's clearly A Good Thing. Validating email addresses also does help somewhat. --Swamp Ig 08:05, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Current unfairness to registered users[edit]

There is a problem with the way the software works at the moment which makes it much more efficient to work as an anonymous editor (see here for one example). More effort should be expended on making it advantageous to register. --Phil | Talk 11:38, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Restrictions and Automation[edit]

Copied from Wikipedia:

Possible restrictions for anons on:
1. featured articles and controversial articles (and "completed articles")
2. all non-stubs
3. new articles
Possible implementations of restriction
  • word limits (per minute/hour)
  • edits invisible to the public until OK'd by a registered user.
  • blanket restriction

I think it would be best to implement an invisible policy for anons on 1 articles ASAP to help secure Wikipedia credibility and help keep users from being frustrated (since these changes wouldn't be public, hence there wouldn't be a constant sense of defeat/defacement). Moreover, if there is a way to make it appear the change took place (to that vandal IP) so they feel successful, but the change wasn't yet public, this should help keep casual vandalism with anon's and hence in check.

Freeing up admins time from vandalism rejecting / messaging (which would be automated to auto warn when an anon edit is rejected... rather than reverted; also anon editing restrictions could also be automated on troublesome IP's and proxies) to address trolls and POV pushers; which will be a persistent, but controllable problem given the dedication needed to insert POV into 1 articles will exist with few users.

It should also be mentioned again, that examples of NG's being overwhelmed by trolls is not analogous to Wiki's... which are larger, and have a constant influx of new "fresh" people who would volunteer for maintenance duties; and when they get worn out they can do other things. Then return to maintenance if they wish, which they are more likely to do since a Wiki encyclopedia has more permanance, importance, community and flexibility than an NG or forum.

The strength of a Wiki is its openness to change just enough to ensure its stability and success, rather than just its openness to allow anyone to edit. - 06:14, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I personally disagree with all of these remarks - especially the first and fifth ones. Do you realize how long an article would take in those cases? Besides, Wikipedia vandalism and trolling or whatnot is allegedly reverted with five minutes. Therefore, I'd say for every vandal perhaps five compotent users come into play. If anything, Wikipedia should ban overly zealous editors who seem complacent only when they have drove Wikipedia into a right wing, and close knit knowledge base - the very opposite purpose of the encyclopedia. In my opinion, anyone who agrees with the suggestions on the content page should subscribe to Encarta, or go to Infoplease.com - and we all know that Wikipedia is better than either of those. -

Is this serious?[edit]

Is this page a joke? It seems so unwiki. — Bcat (talk | email) 18:45, 4 Jul 2005 (UTC)

This would be a good thing. Is it possible to do this? -- 02:43, 22 July 2005 (UTC)Reply

No, no, NO! No to all of this! Axing anonymous posting will kill the point of having a Wiki to begin with! Ghost Freeman from Wikipedia 02:02, 6 August 2005 (UTC)Reply

Wikipedia is no technocracy 14:51, 28 October 2005 (UTC) TestReply

Although it seems like a good idea on the surface, I think that this would scare off a number of people who would benefit the community (e.g. those who see a spelling error and correct it, yet aren't, mmm, energetic enough to "get involved" in the community). In particular, I think that it is far better to start out editing pages than to start out adding pages. By reading and making minor changes, a user can start to understand how Wikipedia's style works, how to use NPOV, etc., and later on can put together a coherent article. Given the high speed of Wiki correction by people who are skilled and (generally) unbiased, there is little need to worry about Wiki polution, aside from the problem of new Wiki users not understanding the nature of Wiki and holding an article as authoritative without further investigation.

It might be nice to point new users to pages on Logical Falacies and other forms of important reasoning skills, so that they can be better equipped to notice if something doesn't add up. Most of the nonstandard typing styles (1337, typing errors, and CAPITALIZED SENTENCES should give instant clues as to their nature, so it is only those insertions that pretend to be standard that would be worrisome. 23:05, 3 January 2006 (UTC)Reply

No no no![edit]

This proposal runs perfectly counter to what a wiki is supposed to be and destroys the idea of a collaborative document. There are plenty of other controls in place to rein in disruptive users. (Recent changes, revert, ban...) Strongest disapproval.

Anonymous users are the least of our woes[edit]

From a practical standpoint, anonymous users are the least of our problems. Casual vandalism is easy to detect and easy to revert; people are staring at Recent Changes for it all the time. As for determined vandals- using a username actually hinders enforcement effort, since we give IP anonymity to these users and we can no longer tell User A at from User B at - so we can't block any IP ranges. Disallowing anons will only discourage the trivially discouragable users who can't be bothered to log in. Now- if you wanted to insist that people should have another form of authentication (email address or something) then that might actually do something, but is an entirely different proposal altogether. -Fennec 16:22, 2 May 2006 (UTC)Reply

Writing to User talk page[edit]

I don't want IP users to write to my user talk page because I cannot reply to them, whichever contents written are good or bad. Is this of another discussion?--ComSpex 22:13, 5 May 2006 (UTC)Reply