Wiki User Names Have Fallen Out Of Style

"This discussion is now outdated due to RecentPosts." It still has various backlinks, though.


Take a peek at RecentChanges. Anywhere from 1/2 to 9/10 people doing editing are not wearing their UserName cookie.

Does anyone know why this is?

Is this a troll? The UserName feature was heavily abused by a handful of individuals (like TWO or THREE) earlier this year. This abuse included SockPuppets and spoofing. One of those individuals made frequent threats of legal action, which deterred additional users. That same individual purposefully and repeatedly defaced WikiHomePages associated with some UserNames. While recent modifications may be improving the situation, it will be a very long time (if ever) before the openness that formerly characterized this community returns. The use of RealNamesPlease is particularly troublesome, given the ease with which the UserName mechanism can still be abused.

Some actual explanations: Here are some potential explanations:
Some steps that could encourage increased use of UserName:
An algorithm I use (more and more frequently, it seems) to determine who is behind the IP:

  1. Copy their IP to the clipboard.
  2. Go to RecentChanges or RecentEdits
  3. Ctrl+F, paste
  4. Look at every page, checking the diffs
  5. See if I can find:
    • A case where the author signed the page using that IP.
    • Enough about them to reverse engineer who they are.
Both excellent reasons to never sign your name and not make any personal contributions. Since the ability to be "mostly anonymous" has been destroyed, the major alternative people seem to be choosing is to be always anonymous. Is making a personal contribution to this wiki worth the potential of crackpot litigation against you? I, for one, don't think so. Of course, the next logical step would be to simply stop contributing completely...

In the whole history of wikidom, I am aware of exactly one lawsuit, but that had external circumstances. DefendAgainstParanoia. You are more likely to be in court for what you do and say at a bar, and when was the last time you were? -- SunirShah

In my view, it isn't the actual threat of legal action that mitigates against RealNamesPlease. Instead, it is that the one or two people who make such threats are so obviously disturbed that their behavior is entirely unpredictable, and so they may take any number of other actions. While it's true that few people are sued over what they do and say at a bar, it is also true that a far greater number of people are followed and beat up, or have their cars vandalized, or find their homes robbed based on things they do or say at a bar.


Is having a user name displayed in RecentChanges really that important? Why not do the simplest thing and get rid of the name field altogether. If people want to sign their contributions, that's fine. If they don't, that is fine as well. People who are doing deletions, or any sort of wiki-maintenance, should definitely take it upon themselves to have their UserNames set. Increased accountability to go with the increased responsibility. -- fh But I gather SunirShah avoids their use for good (spoofability) reasons. Therefore providing both seems useful, as someone suggests below. -- mca
The UserName mechanism improves observability, one of the WikiDesignPrinciples. People here discover what is and isn't acceptable behavior by watching others. When the community was smaller and domain names more recognizable we all had a sense of who was who in RecentChanges. I've intentionally kept user names out of the permanent record. That means setting a user name is a personal declaration to the small community of regular observers. It says, I'm proud of what I do here, I'd like you to know it is me. -- WardCunningham

p.s. I'm interested in improvements that increase UserName's utility without me entering into an arms race with vandals.

In the interest of avoiding the ArmsRace?, consider providing IP address and ReverseDnsLookup? since the latter may be forged. My apologies for a) explaining how to use eggs like boiled sweets and b) not taking the time to look up why the reverse lookup is sometimes no used when it is available. -- MatthewAstley [DeleteWhenCooked]

I'm generally proud of what I do, and am happy for people to associate my edits with my name. However, after some "interactions" I'm unwilling to have people trash my home page and effectively stalk me. The IP address isn't anonymous, but it's certainly less obvious. I no longer set the UserName cookie, I rarely sign my work anymore. Consider the EgolessWiki.


"The above illustrates why it was a good idea to make the UserName optional" -- DonaldNoyes


(Discussion moved to WhoAreYouReally) -- IsaacFreeman


UserName was broken awhile in early 2005. See UserNameFaq.

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