Talk:Right to vanish

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Wikipedia seems to be suffering from a surge of sockpuppetry - people who are creating IDs just vandalize the project. Many of them are hit-and-run accounts. Created, used to commit vandalism until they are caught then abandoned. I've been cleaning up after one calling himself the "Pelican shit vandal". See en:user:Beanzoo, en:user:Hatdood, en:user:Whizzer, en:user:Bubbaloo, en:user:Nofer, en:User:Aguilator, en:User:Foosballz, en:User:Dead Battery, en:User:Poppett, en:User:Fishtail for the accounts caught so far.

Looking forward (arguably, very far forward), should we be worried about those vandal accounts consuming easy-to-remember user IDs? The policy makes a very strong statement that accounts will never be deleted. Should we insert a caveat into the policy that would allow Wikimedia to delete abusive accounts in certain cirmumstances at its discretion? Rossami 16:09, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

For the record, any time a user removes their name from the signature of a comment they have left on my talk page, I will revert it. --Alterego 23:17, 10 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why 6800?[edit]

What's special about that number? It sounds like a magic number to me. -- 20:39, 11 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know why the limit is 6800. However, that is the limit; if you have bureucrat access somewhere, you can see it in the page source of Special:Renameuser. Jon Harald Søby 18:25, 14 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And I just checked, and now it's 20 000… Jon Harald Søby 18:26, 14 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"software upgrade allows up to 200000 edits" 01:19, 16 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which is enough reasoning ...[edit]

« which is enough reasoning for us to continue to offer this service. » [1]

This new text was added by an anonymous user on February 14th 2006. I am not sure this addition is really useful, although it does not look harmful either. Theo F 12:33, 14 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia should give options for be able to erase the account like ALL the webpages of Internet. KazamaCarlos (talk) 22:41, 29 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Policy status[edit]

What is the policy status of this document, and in what manner does it constrain the different version Wikipedia's? We've had a couple cases on en: of users requesting their pages be deleted under the provisions of this page. Every time it comes up, the decision has been that the user may have his user page and any subpages deleted, but the talk page should not be deleted. There are several reasons for this. The talk primarily consists of edits made by other users and the user in question should not have the authority to remove those edits from their contribution histories (in particular, comments may be referred to later in other discussion, RFA or RFAR, etc.). A page which has been edited only (or virtually only) by a single user can be deleted if that user requests it under one of our criteria for speedy deletion, but the takl page obviously fails that. Also, it contains information about the user which should not be removed, particularly for users who in fact are not leaving a Wikipedia (we have one user on en: who repeatedly requests his talk page be deleted under the provisions of this page, despite not actually ceasing to edit). If this page is cited, common objections are that it is not official policy and that further, it applies only to user and user talk subpages, not the talk page itself (which I think is logical). Has there been any discussion regarding these issues and how they set policy for individual Wikipedia's? I would like to see this clarified, if possible, so that we do not need to have the same debates over and over again. I would support a clear statement like "Users may request their user page and any subpages be deleted. User talk pages should not be deleted." Alternatively, a statement like "You may request your personal pages be deleted, although this is subject to the local policies of your Wikimedia project." What do others think? Knowledge Seeker 19:01, 17 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This was originally part of the Wikimedia Foundation's Privacy Policy. You could have figured this part out yourself by reading the edit history for the page (it's the very first edit): (see also: —Locke Coletc 23:46, 17 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, and in case it wasn't clear from your harassment of me on en:, I absolutely object to any language which leaves the decision about whether certain pages are exempt to individual projects. It's not called Right to vanish because it's somehow optional afterall. —Locke Coletc 23:48, 17 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How many edits to change username?[edit]

It says with fewer than 200,000 edits you can change your username. But, on the Changing_username pages, it says 20,000 edits. Which is it? 20:34, 24 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, it says 200,000.-- 00:02, 9 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can be merged?[edit]

Can this page merge with Changing username?

Nethac DIU, always would speak here
23:19, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

deleting talk page[edit]

So, its ok for me to delete my talk page (and archives)? Even if I'm an admin? (Presumably, other admins can come and see/restore my pages if they wanted).

For the most part, I don't think that's an accepted practice anymore. Talk pages are very often used to document warnings about vandalism. Deleting those pages or even blanking them is often seen as an attempt to cover up the notices about vandalism. I suppose that's less important for a logged in user but the talk pages of anon IPs are almost never deleted (though they may occasionally be pageblanked if the vandal has been gone a long time). Rossami 22:26, 6 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. Change instances of "delete" to "blank and protect" (perhaps we can make a "vanished user" template?)
  2. Do we request that the account be blocked? Is it right to be able to "unvanish"? Is there a method, perhaps, to insure that nobody "vanishes" in haste and regrets it later?
    1. Perhaps require a "cooling off" period after the initial vanish.

Thoughts, gripes, ? ~Kylu (u|t) 06:19, 27 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does right-to-vanish actually exist?[edit]

The topic of right-to-vanish was brought up on the English-language Wikipedia recently [2], and I don't like what I see. It seems there is total disagreement as to where and how this applies. From the recent conversations, it seems that community consensus is:

  • this doesn't apply to talk pages [3] [4]
  • this doesn't apply to "pen names", only if the username is their real name [5]
  • this only applies to meta-wiki, not to other wikis like the English-language wikipedia [6] [7]
  • this is for OFFICE matters [8] [9]
  • pursuing right-to-vanish is a waste of time [10]

I'm new to Meta-wiki, but not to the English-language Wikipedia. Is this just words that cannot be backed up? Do users not have the right-to-vanish? If this doesn't exist, then this page and the user guideline page on the English-language Wiki needs to be updated. Otherwise, if this can indeed be done, I know of 1 user who has requested this but has been denied. --S charette 18:35, 27 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

BTW, I should have stated the user in question is not a vandal, but a valid contributor and a classic case for right-to-vanish who left because he was sick and tired of the problems around w:WP:SCHOOL and AfD debates. --S charette 18:40, 27 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And *should* it exist? In the infamous Essjay's case, it seems to have been invoked as a Right To Cover Up Past Misdeeds. -- CRConrad

Right to vanish extension[edit]

Recently here a user has requested that the Right to Vanish be extended to cover deleting Requests for Adminship, and I suppose then, all administration pages. The main page here should address whether the Right to Vanish would cover this sort of thing. My own personal feeling is no. Wjhonson 23:17, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'll repeat my "no" here as well. The contributions to RfAs are not of a single user and are of historical interest here. It is not possible, as is clearly spelled out in the policy, to actually vanish. Deleting a user page, ok; deleting a user talk page, only with extenuating circumstances to do so; deleting project pages, almost never. —Doug Bell talkcontrib 23:35, 8 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've added wording to that effect. I've seen several abuses of the "right to vanish" recently, with disruptive editors trying to use it to have their sockpuppet categories deleted. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:24, 16 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've suggested an amendment on Wikipedia; I'll raise it here as well:
    • "The right to vanish does not automatically extend to pages retained for the purposes of protecting Wikipedia against disruption; for example requests for arbitration, requests for check user, or sockpuppet categories. Users who demonstrate good behaviour over a probationary period may have such pages removed upon request. The pages may be returned if the user subsequently engages in inappropriate behaviour."
Comments welcome. CJCurrie 01:42, 19 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I thought SlimVirgin's edit (which she discussed here) was a very sensible one, but it was reverted three days later by an anon who said that there was no consensus.[11] The anon hasn't joined in the discussion here. I'd just like to say that I support SlimVirgin's edit.

To CJCurrie, I have a comment or a question. What does "demonstrate good behaviour over a probationary period" mean, when applied to someone who has presumably left Wikipedia, or is pretending to have left? I can see that if a user makes a lot of personal attacks from his only account, is put on probation, and then becomes very polite for several months, while continuing to edit from his only account, one could say that he had "demonstrated good behaviour". But in the case of someone known to use sockpuppets, and who then completely stops editing from his main account, your suggestion would seem to carry the (unintended) meaning of "Users who are not caught using sockpuppets over a probationary period may have such pages removed on request. The pages may be returned if the user is subsequently caught using sockpuppets." I apologise if I'm missing something, but it seems that to "vanish" and to "demonstrate good behaviour over a probationary period" are self-contradictory. ElinorD 11:18, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I strongly support SlimVirgin's edit as well. We do need a rule against the many attempts to vanish after having disrupted the community and the project. In this case it should be guarranteed that it will not happen again only because some pages had been deleted and nobody can remember the previous handlings of a user. -jkb- 13:23, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

200,000 edits?[edit]

Am I reading this right? Does it say less than 200,000 edits? That seems so high I wonder there is even a number. Quadzilla99 10:30, 21 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Discussion of RtV implementation and wording[edit]

The Right to Vanish is a respected and well established policy on Wikimedia projects. Recently (especially on en:) there have been some concerns over abuses, or questions about its use, scope, and wording. The page wording has apparently not been updated, clarified and sharpened by vigorous discussion.

Without being certain what exact wording is best, I'd like to propose a significant and (hopefully) non-controversial rewrite of this page to bring it closer to a more current standard of style, specificity and clarity. FT2

Proposed outline


The Right to Vanish is a long standing right of any user on Wikimedia projects. It means that under certain conditions, a range of material testifying to your actions and existence on the project may (at your request) be removed or obscured. Right to vanish applies typically to three circumstances:

  • Personal protection - You have personally identifying information on publicly visible pages on the project, or linked to your username, or there is genuine risk of off-wiki harassment, or unacceptable on-wiki stalking, and you wish to avoid such problems.
  • Honest clean start - You have a negative track record and you have decided to make a genuine, clean and honest new start, and do not wish it to be tarnished by your prior conduct.
  • Permanent departure - You plan to permanently leave a project, without changing your mind in future.

Note that the extent to which your activities will be removed or obscured is limited. The details are described below. Also note that despite its name, the Right to Vanish is made available by goodwill of the Foundation and its projects and exists only as a social courtesy.

==Status of Right to vanish==

Right to Vanish is essentially, a social courtesy extended to all participants in general, and should be seen as such. It does not imply that all information will be removed. Legally all information is retainable since it has been made available under the GFDL, and in practice much information cannot, or will not, be removed due to the practical disruption and difficulty involved. Users should be aware therefore that the Right to Vanish is in practice, fairly limited, and not robust against serious inquiry.

==Information covered by the Right==

A user claiming their Right to Vanish may usually expect the following matters to be potentially considered:

  • Usernames - Usernames cannot normally be deleted, but can sometimes be changed. There is no guarantee provided by the Wikimedia Foundation in the privacy policy that a name will be changed on request. It may still be possible to link your new and old names with a minimal degree of work.
  • Work on the project - Your work, including 'signatures' (text indicating your authorship of comments) on all but your own user and talk pages, will usually not be changed or removed. To change these would be a major source of disruption. Individual revisions of individual pages that contain personally identifying information may be oversighted instead.
  • Own pages, and pages by or about you - Note that pages are only "yours" in the sense of "associated with you", not in the sense of ownership. Right to Vanish usually handles such pages as follows:
  • Your user and talk pages, and their subpages, and other non-article pages that no others have substantively contributed to and whose existence does not impact the project, may be courtesy blanked or deleted.
  • At times, other pages specifically about you and nobody else (sanction pages, RFAs, for example) may by discretion be removed, but not always, and rarely when there is a likelihood of future usefulness or reference.
  • Pages that do not meet these criteria, such as adminstrator discussion pages, normally are left intact.
  • Logs - Administrative logs showing matters you have been involved with, during your career as an editor, will usually remain accessible under your old name.
  • Further discussion about you - Discussion about you cannot be controlled by the Foundation, but experience shows it often falls rapidly over the few weeks following vanishing.
==Limitations on the Right to Vanish==

The above are all reversible, if the Right to Vanish is abused. In particular, if a user abuses their Right to Vanish, then it may be declined on a future occasion. In some cases (typically when a history of misconduct or blocks co-exists with a wish to restart), a connection may remain back to the old name, for administrative use only.

You should note that while these measures afford a degree of practical obscurity, they will not stand up to assault from a persistent investigator, and Wikimedia projects has no control over its sublicensees, or over archiving services such as the Internet Archive or Google. Further, these actions require a degree of co-operation from the other users of the project, so Wikimedia cannot make guarantees on this matter.


For obvious reasons, the Right to Vanish is often requested without public announcement. For this reason, confidential discussion with a member of the OTRS team is the normal approach. The exact handling, and what if any conditions are required, will often depend upon the exact circumstances.

==Change of mind==

Right to Vanish is predicated on good faith. Users should be aware that abusing the Right to Vanish, or breaching any terms under which it is requested or granted, will probably result in its reversal, and likely withdrawal of the right in future. Should you wish to change your mind, vary the terms, or return to your old (or another previous) name, please discuss with the OTRS team in confidence first, so that no mis-assumption occurs on discovery. In particular, do not return covertly under a different account or recommence editing without disclosure or discussion, if you based your request upon permanent departure.

==Personal information deletion==
Main article: Privacy policy

"Personal information" typically includes, but is not limited to, name, address, telephone number, precise date of birth, instant messenger contact details, photograph, appearance, food tastes, personal views and similar details of an individual person.

Two policies govern personal information. Individuals in their role as editors, contributors and readers of Wikimedia projects, should refer to the privacy policy. Information on individuals forming part of an encyclopedia article, are subject to the policy on biographies of living people. "Right to vanish" relates specifically to the former.

  • The Wikimedia projects will delete personal information about editors and contributors (most likely on user and user talk pages) at their request, provided it is not needed for administrative reasons (which are generally limited to dealing with site misuse issues).
  • Personal information related to encyclopedia articles and persons mentioned therein are not covered by "Right to Vanish". Instead, please see the relevant editorial policy on biographical articles, which contains full details of editorial directives, and actions to take if dissatisfied.
==Alternative measures==

In general, involuntary disclosure of personal information is dealt with via oversight; there is no need to vanish unless the publicly known information is sufficiently notorious and accessible that oversight is no protection.

Also usernames can often be changed, subject to broad conditions and processes.

If you have used your real name, or a longstanding pen name, on Wikimedia projects then in principle everything you write can be traced to that name, and thus to you, as discussed above. However, if you decide to leave Wikimedia projects, there are a few steps that you can take to weaken that connection. They are:

  1. Change your username to some other name, one which is not directly associated with you (see Changing username).
  2. Change references to your former username to be referenced to your replacement username (you can do this yourself).
  3. Delete your existing user and user talk subpages (contact an administrator).
  4. Create new user and user talk pages using your old account, containing a brief note indicating that you have left Wikimedia projects and asking that people not refer to you by your name.

Be aware that any edits or posts you make, will appear in page history under the account you used at the time. Therefore take care with your login name usage, and be very careful not to edit your old pages or pages you habitually visit, when you are logged in with a name you do not want associated with that account.

==See also==

Submitted for discussion.

FT2 08:40, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think this is a great improvement. --Beetstra 11:05, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. Very clear and informative. I would just tone down "they will not stand up to assault from a persistent investigator", and maybe make clear that legal requirements to disclose material (eg. the police asking for diffs) are not affected by this. Also, the meatballwiki link needs to be, well, linked. Carcharoth 11:30, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Link fixed. "Detailed examination" rather than "assault"? And, would this sentence do for the latter? "Finally, nothing in "Right to Vanish" can override the terms of the Foundation's privacy policy, which covers disclosure of information in exceptional circumstances."? Or is that too "loaded"? FT2 11:48, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this is a great improvement. RtV is often applied too liberally without people being aware of the procedures and the implications involved.
The other proposed addition doesn't seem to loaded to me either. Good work. ~ Riana 13:13, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. Omission, there was no section about how to request to vanish. (Eep!) Now fixed. Route through OTRS as first port of call, for simplicity (one stop shop), certainty of privacy/confidentiality in problematic cases, accessibility of other routes (some RtV's will be blocked from wiki-email) and centrality of information held (in case full info is needed in future). FT2 13:55, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vanishing for a "clean start"[edit]

I really don't like how the proposed change suggests you can vanish and keep editing, for a "clean start". That's ridiculously easy to abuse.

I've had dealings with a long-term sneaky vandal who used "right to vanish", then later came back with several new accounts, where he accumulated some good edits for a few weeks before letting loose with the sneaky vandalism again. His previous "vanishing" made it difficult to find and fix his sneaky vandalism, as some of it was only detectable in the context of other, similar edits he had made. Other admins who didn't know the user's history, in fact, had trouble dealing with the issues he created because it was so hard to find what he had done before. I had dealt with his first incarnation, however, and no one had done a thorough job of vanishing him, so I was able to tell how he was continuing his old tricks.

When I discovered this, I began putting up sockpuppet templates that connected his new accounts to his vanished one. This, of course, pissed him off greatly -- he claimed I was violating his right to vanish and started making personal threats. But I think this was the right thing to do. The way I had heard it then, you only have a "right to vanish" if you actually leave. This needs to remain the case. Rspeer 19:03, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If that's never in fact been a use of RtV, then it should perhaps stay that way. I was under the impression that in certain genuine cases that had been done. If not, or if it shouldn't be, then by all means it shouldn't say so. (The more usual way to start a new life is simply to cease using the old acount and begin a new one.) if consensus says that should be deleted from the draft, then that's fine, I don't object and it wasn't the intent to change the issue.
But notice the emphasis on revoking or declining if there is doubt. The question is therefore limited to one specific scenario: a person with a poor track record and no prior record of breaching RtV or reincarnating, says they want to reform, and the person dealing with it after discussing, genuinely believes 1/ they mean it, 2/ that they want to do so legitimately with support of the project and not later be outed as a sock, and 3/ that a chance of a clean start with a known new ID will be helpful. In that specific situation, should we be willing to say "If you say you left, and in fact start a new account under name X, we'll allow your old account to 'vanish'."?
That would be the only way the clause would be invoked. It's important to remember that RtV means, they vanish with the co-operation of the project. In other words, we would know about it, and know their new ID, we just wouldn't advertize the fact to the public. I see that as fair. If it's abused, then we can decline in future. I have no problem with a controlled, discussed, chance though.
Hope this helps. FT2 19:25, 4 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This still sounds like a bad idea. Are those who know the new ID (presumably a small number of already-overworked people) actually willing to watch the new account and make sure they don't abuse their right to vanish?
The way I see it, if a user has a change of heart and wants to start fresh, they can do it the traditional way, by starting a new account and trying not to do anything that connects it to their previous identity. But I don't see the benefit in us giving possibly-reformed vandals the gift of covering their tracks for them. So I think that "right to vanish" and "a fresh start" should be mutually exclusive, not part of a package deal. Rspeer 07:09, 5 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I generally agree with Rspeer here, if someone wants a fresh start, then start over with a new ID and abandon the old one. The whole 'risk being outed as a sock' is a red herring .. ideally, the new ID wouldn't behave like the old one. If the user has truly abandon the old ID, even if someone does make the connection.. they aren't abusing multiple accounts. If the old ID is blocked or banned - the user shouldn't be editing under any ID. OTOH, Allowing RtV for long-dormant abandoned IDs, where the user has clearly established themselves as a good contributor under a new ID is probably fine. --Versageek 15:21, 5 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm concerned about this major change to the policy. There's discussion now underway on Wikipedia regarding this provision, which seems to have been adopted without much discussion. "Vanish" means "disappear". If folks reappear then they haven't vanished. Will Beback 23:06, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On further reviewing the addition, I see that it wasn't included in the original proposal "Discussion of RtV implementation and wording" above, and it has not met with a general consensus approving it. Therefore I'm going to move it here and we can discuss it separately. Will Beback 23:15, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


RfV now updated. Changes made per above discussion:

  1. Added "Finally, nothing in "Right to Vanish" can override the terms of the Foundation's privacy policy, which covers disclosure of information in exceptional circumstances".
  2. Replaced "they will not stand up to assault from a persistent investigator" by "they may not stand up to detailed examination from a persistent investigator".
  3. Removed controversial item from intro (related to "clean start") and replace by a section under "other", explaining the preferred way to make a clean start.
  4. A few minor formatting improvements (bold a few words, change a couple of section headers, add a box for a key definiton, etc)

FT2 11:03, 8 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"Change references to your former username to be referenced to your replacement username".

How can I do that? I recently changed my username on wikipedia (it used to be my real name), but now I worry that my old userpage will continue to be visible on google searches for my name, with a redirect to my new userpage - and so the connection will remain.Icegloo 00:57, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tag your old userpage with {{db-user}} and an admin will delete it. Majorly (talk) 01:32, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ok, I see. Thanks so much. One last question (forgive me if this is not the most appropriate place for it): isn't there any way of converting the signature of my old edits on talkpages other than changing all of them manually?Icegloo 22:34, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Further discussion of "Clean start"[edit]

Proposed text:

Clean start under a new name[edit]

Scenario: You have a negative track record and you have decided to make a genuine, clean and honest new start, and do not wish it to be tarnished by your prior conduct.

Right to vanish does not generally cover the simple wish to start under a new name. Usually a person with a tarnished reputation can simply discontinue using the old account, and create an unconnected new account which becomes the only account they then use, and is used in a good manner. The old account pages are then quietly blanked or overwritten with a note, and the account abandoned. This is the simple and preferred approach.

If there are specific issues, please ask for advice from any administrator (by email if preferred), or in confidence from OTRS. The most common two concerns and their usual answers are:

  • I'll be noticed and it will all start again:
If you change your behavior, and the articles you work on, there is no reason for a connection to be made. If you continue on the same articles or your writing style is so distinctive it will quickly be noticed, then it is likely a connection will be made whether or not you are helped to "vanish", and the perceived concealment may only cause it to be seen negatively when discovered.
Checkuser is only used when there is a suspected breach of policy. If you don't use the old account, there is no reason a request would be made. If a request were made for any reason, it would probably be declined for lack of good cause.

(That said, if future usage does draw attention by concerned administrators, then it is likely the connection will be made.)

In all cases, if you feel you are likely to be discovered, consider a note on the old talk page and user page to the effect that you are changing names and setting old conduct aside, and asking others to respect this, or if you do not wish to make it public, ask for your pages to be blanked and let an administrator know you are changing accounts to set the past aside, and are telling them so that it doesn't cause problems. This will usually be sufficient to show good faith if the matter does surface, and will be respected. Being up front and honest pays off even for very negatively viewed editors.


This provision appears to substantially extend the concept of "vanishing". In the past this policy was only used to apply to people who entirely left the project. Much of the wroding here doens't imply that a user is vansihing and doesn't extend any particular rights. What's being said could be better included in a policy on account names. Will Beback 23:20, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not so (read carefully).
This is text from a section of "related matters", stating clearly that "right to vanish" does not cover 'clean start requests' (as decided above).
The point being, a fair number of people probably do seek RTV specifically with the idea of cutting links, and a clean start, whether good faith or just to ditch an undesired rep and start again unchanged. Regardless of the motive, its likely many people come to meta:RTV with that as a motive, and hence a section specifically addressing it under "related matters" is helpful and useful. The text concerned states specifically:
  1. RTV generally doesn't cover restarting.
  2. If you want to make a clean start under a new name, here's what you are able to do.
  3. If you need to discuss your case, here's where to.
  4. The main 2 concerns people have about the recommended approach, and response.
  5. Disclosure and good faith
None of these in any way whatsoever, suggests that RTV "substantially extends the concept of vanishing". In fact, they very clearly state that this section is there to note it does not cover it, and "clean start" is not a valid reason to request RTV... and if you want a clean start, here's what to do instead. Perhaps we might move some of the detail to a policy page of another kind (as suggested) but this is almost always inquired about in the context of "vanishing": this is the logical place to address it under. FT2 (Talk | email) 01:46, 15 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The text is so equivocal it isn't clear that the RTV never includes clean starts.
  • Right to vanish does not generally cover the simple wish to start under a new name.
That strongly implies that the RTV covers some specific, unnamed cases of wanting to get a clean start. I think if we strike the word "generally" and drop the scenario then it will be clearer that this is not covered. Will Beback 18:53, 15 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see what you're seeing. The concern I have there is that i don't want to 100% close the door on it. IAR aside, there may be rare cases where we would agree to do so, after discussion, even though its not usually allowed. I don't want to prevent an approach on the odd case where it might actually be relevant. Hence "generally doesn't cover", which is pretty clear to most people, "you're probably wasting your time, we dont normally do this". Seems safe to me. Thoughts? Will comment on the rest one we figure that one word out :) FT2 (Talk | email) 21:57, 15 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If we change the context it may not be necessary to change the word "generally". For starters, the section heading "Related issues" may not make the distinction clear enough, but I can't think of a better heading. Instead perhaps a line followng the heading saying that these aren't part of the RTV. Something like "These issues related to user identity don't fall under RTV, but are included here for user information."
Another issue with this section is that some editors may choose to exercise the RTV with every intent of leaving for good, and then find themselves lured back to participating anyway. This is covered in "Change of mind", but I think it needs to be referenced here too. It says:
  • Right to Vanish is predicated on good faith. Users should be aware that abusing the Right to Vanish, or breaching any terms under which it is requested or granted, will probably result in its reversal, and likely withdrawal of the right in future. Should you wish to change your mind, vary the terms, or return to your old (or another previous) name, please discuss with the OTRS team in confidence first, so that no mis-assumption occurs on discovery. In particular, do not return covertly under a different account or recommence editing without disclosure or discussion, if you based your request upon permanent departure.
In other words, if someone asks for information to be deleted based on RTV, and then returns anyway (effectively seeking a "clean start" after the fact) and are discovered, then they cannot claim that their RTV has been violated. Also, it seems to me that the text prohibits a return without notification if RTV has been invoked. Am I reading it incorrectly? Will Beback 09:46, 16 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • I don't have a problem with a line following the heading, as you suggest. Nice idea if you think there might be confusion. "Related" seems obvious to me. If its not, and there are issues, then sure. Is this likely to be a problem? To me it seems obvious.
  • The wording of that section is, "if you use RTV, the intent is, it's for good. if you change your mind, tell us"... because often RTV is used by bad actors, and if they want to return we want them to tell us first. Reasons include: 1/ removal of drama, 2/ no mis assumption of bad faith, 3/ we skip the bit where some admin blocks or ANIs them, then have to thrash it all out again, 4/ on occasion there may be material to undelete. Even if it is a good-faith RTV's, someone who's been stalked and "vanishes permanently" then decides to return some months later, and maybe seeks RFA too, it can be a problem if the suspicion later arises (this has happened to at least one admin).
So its more like, "it's a really really bad idea to claim RTV and then just come back and not tell anybody". That's the case, whether they RTV'ed as a good actor or a bad one. We'll handle it, they'll handle it, but in general for good actors and bad ones, good reasons and bad ones, we want them to tell us in confidence, if they plan to return. We want to encourage it as a rule, in confidence, even if its just to say "that's fine". If they don't, then if it comes out anyhow, then they'll have to take it however it goes - ANI, accusations, bad faith concerns, drama, whatever. If they tell us first then there's the option to comment "It's all okay, they have disclosed everything on OTRS and it's been discussed" and most folks will then understand and consider it in order.
By contrast, if they sought RTV for 'permanent departure', various agreements may have been made (deleted content and discussions etc come to mind) - as a rule for fairness, we need to discuss with them, the implications of returning, for such pages, before they return. Again, if they return and don't tell us, we'll handle it, they will... but it may well be messier, administratively more complex, the deleted material may be undeleted or reinstated in the course of drama or by some admin to back an ANI post, or embarrassingly, and bad faith is far more likely to be read into it in many cases. So whatever the case, it pays to push the point -- we all benefit if they discuss it first.

FT2 (Talk | email) 12:50, 16 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thoughts? FT2 (Talk | email) 00:14, 19 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Change of mind[edit]

Right_to_vanish#Change_of_mind is more in the ambit of ArbCom, than OTRS. While OTRS is an option, the local project ArbCom is preferable. I changed (IP's not mine) the RTV to reflect this. Mercury 00:10, 28 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Permissions and blocks[edit]

After having seen RTV abused (again), I'm of the mind to suggest that it be made a bit more final:

  • Admins and greater using RTV should have the permissions removed and, if not "under a cloud", applied to a different account later.
  • Those leaving "under a cloud" lose permissions completely and need to earn them normally later under regular methods.
  • The account should be indefblocked and not be unblocked.

There are some complications in using OTRS to handle RTV's:

  • If a user on, say, Burmese Wikipedia invokes RTV, they'll need to provide a diff on that project "proving" it's them.
  • Blocked users with locked talkpages, obviously, are going to have a problem providing such a diff.
  • OTRS agents would then have to be able to request permissions from Stewards to gain temporary admin rights on another project to process these requests. Most projects have local admins, but not local OTRS agents... central Foundation authority would help in these cases, but does not seem to be strong enough currently to support this.
  • OTRS agents would also have a "badge" of authority that we currently do not, to both override the local community and admins, and to ensure that the deletions aren't reversed after we leave.

I'm sure others will come up with similar obstacles. While I don't mind doing such work on projects I'm already an admin on, I'd be wary of overruling a local community that we can't communicate with in many cases. ~Kylu (u|t) 05:03, 3 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree that admins and others who exercise their right to vanish should be blocked and lose their bits. The block should be irreversible. Allowing users to quietly regain the bits later on a new account seems reasonable as well. --MZMcBride 05:07, 3 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with removing any bits after invoking RTV. It seems pointless to have that kind of liability after the editor leaves. Nakon 01:05, 9 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I strongly support this proposal. RTV should not be abused, and it does happen far too often. This will take care of that problem. - Rjd0060 01:24, 12 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not for the first/only time - but every subsequent time. LessHeard vanU 22:35, 12 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree with the permanent idea. People do change their mind. We are a welcoming project, and we should be pleased to welcome users back. Not "fuck off, you vanished, never come back" attitude. Also blocks are preventative of damage to the project(s), not punitive. Sorry, I disagree with this proposal. Majorly (talk) 22:52, 12 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with the proposal since admins and other that exercise the RtV should lose their bits completely and if they want it they have to go through normal procedures and yes they should be blocked to avoid more drama or fickle attitude..--Cometstyles 00:09, 14 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree with some of the proposal, specifically the indef blocking. Personal information can generally be handled via oversight now, but there's no reason to not allow someone interested in returning to use their old account. What needs to be carefully considered is whether or not their user talk pages should be undeleted (since they usually contain back history that may be relevant for ongoing problem editors). —Locke Coletc 02:10, 10 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

MZMcbride mentioned [] to me on irc.

If we assume that a users identity is linked to that users history (that is to say: all their previous edits and actions and logs and etc):

I pointed out that there are 2 scenarios (or 3, if you count a and b):

  • Scenario 1 User A renames to User B... all logs and history are equally renamed, and/or redirected and/or provide pointers to the new username
  • Scenario 2 User A leaves. At some point a new user B is created. B may or may not want all the privileges of user A transferred to them.
    • Scenario 2a User B requests user A's history be transferred to them as well, as per scenario 1
    • Scenario 2b: User B does NOT request user A's history (which includes everything A has done)... be restored


  • In scenario 1 and 2a, A and B are treated as the Same User.
  • In scenario 2b, B is (treated as) a different user.

It is now possible to investigate each possible scenario, (which I walked through with MZMcBride) and find that there is no problem that needs to actually be solved each time

  • scenario 1: B is A, we can review all actions taken by this identity.
  • scenario 2a: First we establish that B is A. Then we are in scenario 1, which was the previous problem, which we already solved.
  • scenario 2b: If to our best knowledge, A and B are different people, we should treat them as different people. Since A and B are different people, there's no problem to begin with!

-- 23:46, 2 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

cause of vandalism?[edit]

why do people vandalize wikipedia so much? 05:40, 3 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is the procedure for the vanishing of my signature in my contributions and my user page in the English WP?[edit]

-- 20:18, 9 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You would have to go through all your edits and manually remove your signatures. To get rid of your userpage, tag it with {{db-u1}}. J.delanoygabsadds 20:20, 9 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your help.

How do you make a request to vanish?[edit]

I can't seem to find a page that lets me make a request to vanish. Is this because the right to vanish is only reserved for users who have worked on a project, or because I overlooked the page? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 18:26, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

There isn't a request page as such. You need to just tag all your userspace for deletion, and then just go. Majorly talk 19:10, 2 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you. Can you tell me how I can tag my page for deletion? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 00:22, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

On English Wikipedia, use {{db-u1}}. On other projects, use {{delete|Reason}}. John Vandenberg 05:52, 3 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This right is nonsense[edit]

I have looked a blanking as a courtesy and right to vanish on various of the projects enemies and I have to say it doesn't reflect well on Wikimedia when you say these people have had their data blanked or a right to vanish then leave it all in the history log. You can spin it how you like, and I've no doubt you will, but to any rational person it's more than clear you are saying one thing while doing another. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 18:55, 31 March 2010.


This is a request to delete an account. This is a test account, with no other purpose, and no contributions to the article space. You have my permission to vanish, or otherwise deal with this account in any way that the wikimedia foundation deems fit. If it saves space, by all means delete it, it will not be used again.Test-account-nonsense 22:12, 25 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request to vanish[edit]

Please delete user and talk pages and rename my accounts. I understand that the content contributions stay. Your welcome. I would like to reduce my Internet profile. TCO 13:22, 30 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Done for meta. Please use Steward requests/Username changes for projects without active crat. --WizardOfOz talk 17:15, 30 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"please see the relevant editorial policy on biographical articles"[edit]

This should be a link. Otherwise people don't know where to go to "see" this policy. 00:19, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's because they vary depending on the local wiki, I guess. Nemo 20:02, 28 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New summaries[edit]

Thank you for working on this page. The new summary is quite long and IMHO rather gets in the way of the actual content, which is just informational. It also feels odd to provide alternatives to something that has not been properly defined yet: that "are you in the right place" maybe could be a final section or see also? Nemo 08:04, 5 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]