Wikivoyage talk:Checkuser

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See also Wikivoyage talk:Sock puppets

I created this new policy page to avoid any confusion between our Wikivoyage:Sock puppets policy, which new version is currently discussed and my proposal to add a new policy to add the WP Check user policy at WV per Wikivoyage_talk:Sock_puppets#Check_user. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:CheckUser in an event of of an edit war, major drama or any (political/religious/nationalistic/populistic/nonsens) debate there should be an authority that checks if a single user tries to multiple it's opinion through multiple accounts or IPs. This policy is based on the:

a)Wikivoyage:Sock puppets policy where it is clearly intended not to control users or utilized IPs but to ensure disruptive behaviour of single persons are detected if suspected by an user.

b) Wikivoyage:Consensus is needed within a community and being fair is the cornerstone. So literally one man, one vote To ensure this democratic principle checks are needed

c) The check user authority needs to protect the privacy rights of all users while clearly analysing who is misbehaving. So the basis of his/her work is the trust of the community

d) Check user needs to be nominated by the community in a standardised procedure like the administrator/bureaucrat nomination process

That's all that comes to my mind initally. Feel free to add points. Jc8136 (talk) 15:42, 11 October 2012 (CEST)

I tried to draft something which is not a complete c+p from WP. It's my first green field policy draft, so please be gentle... Jc8136 (talk) 17:10, 11 October 2012 (CEST)

Checkuser request[edit]

I know we neither have a "play nicely" policy nor a "be fair" policy where it is not the contents of articles at issue.

May I state clearly and for the record that I make my own decisions about the edits I make here on Wikivoyage and I work for no puppet-master. Despite any lack of evidence here on Wikivoyage I am sporadically accused of sock puppetry by people that should concentrate on arguments being advanced rather than the (supposed) identity of the person making them.

I have offered to provide documentary evidence (ie passport, driving licence, identity card etc) to a named individual under a promise of confidentiality in order to lay this nonsense to rest - but this standing offer has been ignored.

As far as I know, I edit from places that are not even on the same continent (Europe, I assume) from my alleged puppet-master(s) so a checkuser should be a very rapid and conclusive procedure if there is not anyone willing to conduct physical identity checks. Alice 23:53, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

IB[edit]

I think the activities of IB over the last week justify to finalise this policy. The move and other issues stopped the debate a bit but we should not depend for checks on meta stewards for the future. Is there any further opinions for that policy draft? Jc8136 (talk) 13:59, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Looks good to me. sumone10154(talk) 23:22, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
To me too. Hopefully we won't have much need of this! --Peter Talk 00:24, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Policy in effect?[edit]

If we garner consensus at Wikivoyage:Administrator nominations to have checkusers, I think that would qualify as consensus to enact this policy. LtPowers (talk) 14:38, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure it would. I'd prefer to just soft redirect this to Meta:CheckUser policy. The only local information necessary would be regarding when and how to request an investigation, and that information isn't here yet. --Peter Talk 18:16, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I think this policy is in effect now, at least as I've just edited it to conform to our current practice. Overwhelmingly, its use is limited to block evasion, and is carried out by stewards. There's not a lot more that needs to be said beyond linking the Meta policy, but it is good to have an explanation here of why mysterious superusers occasionally pop up in the blocker log. --Peter Talk 05:26, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately (on a personal level, because then my name would be very quickly cleared), consensus was not achieved at Wikivoyage:Administrator nominations to have local checkusers. Perhaps the recent abrupt and sweeping changes made by User:Peterfitzgerald should be reverted and an Rfc made to get consensus here on this page?

Changing this draft policy without prior discussion[edit]

Being truthful, your edit did a little bit more, User:Peterfitzgerald. For example, you removed without discussion the part that said (in rather poor English, but I think the intent was clear):

"This policy is never to be used in case of

  1. Patronising user for political, religious, nationalistic or sexistic reasons
  2. Pressuring or threatening users during edit wars or content discussions"

Was it this resulting from this that caused your precipitate edit to this draft policy page?

To some eyes this may seem to be part of a rather sordid pattern. -- Alice 09:36, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Not patronising users for political, religious, nationalistic, sexist, or other reasons, as well as pressuring/threatening users for whatever reason is nothing specific to sockpuppets or checkusers. Just to your singular history. This policy is not about you. --Peter Talk 22:56, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Good. Re-instate the wording you removed then - or substitute words with the same import but with better phrasing. -- Alice 23:43, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
I think you missed the point. m:Don't be a dick is not particular to this policy—it's the policy equivalent of Wikivoyage:No advice from Captain Obvious. The stuff I removed applies to any interactions on wiki or in real life. --Peter Talk 00:17, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Never-ending allegations with no possibility of redress or resolution[edit]

LtPowers: Please would you explain your thinking behind removing this text from the draft policy:

"Allegations of sock puppetry (in order to pressure or threaten users during edit wars or content disputes) so that the abusive allegation can be proved false"

(Your edit summary was: "Actually, no... checkuser should not be used for that purpose") -- Alice 07:47, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

I was a bit hasty; that was my understanding of the usual policy, but m:CheckUser policy says "Some wikis allow an editor's IPs to be checked upon his or her request if, for example, there is a need to provide evidence of innocence against a sockpuppet allegation; note, however, that requesting a checkuser in these circumstances is sometimes part of the attempt to disrupt." Since this is a use that only "some wikis" allow, it needs to be approved before being inserted into our document. LtPowers (talk) 15:23, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you can have it both ways; either we are "friendlier and more welcoming than many wikis" and allow our registered editors to attempt to clear their names from endless allegations of sockpuppetry (in my case, by bureaucrats/admins trying to divert attention from a failed Star nomination or attempting to silence opinions they disagree with) or we recognise that this is a more tightly controlled and bitey place than we publicly pretend. -- Alice 20:49, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, you have already had a checkuser, which resulted in a permanent ban: w:Wikipedia:Requests for checkuser/Case/W. Frank. I guess you want another to see if your anonymizers and 7 years of thinking about this game are good enough to beat an investigation? I wouldn't have ever even noticed your old weird history if not for the obvious patterns of editing that your accounts have shared.
Again, you are not currently using multiple accounts for the purpose of disruption, so this is all a little irrelevant. What is highly relevant is your disruptiveness, which you are clearly continuing now on this page. --Peter Talk 21:11, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
You're missing the points (again).
  1. There would be no "disruption" if you and others stopped making these unfounded allegations.
  2. The check user on Wikipedia was flawed, but I have no possibility of appeal because I am blocked from editing my own user page there. Every year or so I e-mail a WMF steward who never bothers to reply.
  3. You yourself admit that I have not used multiple accounts here (and I firmly maintain I did not on Wikipedia either) so why do you keep referring to a 7 year-old flawed IP check? Who's the real "drama Queen" here?
  4. I don't use "anonymisers" I use normal IP addresses from well known ISP's (and pretty consistent ones at that). I presume you don't want this matter to be resolved by an IP check and my presenting my ID documents in person because then you would be seen as a bully that makes sloppy and frivolous unfounded allegations.
I've got nothing to hide. Can you say the same and, if so, why are you so set against allowing people to rebut allegations? -- Alice 21:38, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
For the record: 1) the allegations are not unfounded; they are founded upon the English Wikipedia investigation and cogent observations. 3) Peter said you are not currently using multiple accounts here, not that you never have. LtPowers (talk) 22:12, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Local checkusers[edit]

In no small part because we are more lenient in handling unwanted edits, and because we are possibly more strict about pursuing block evaders (because of our unique history with real world threats), our checkuser needs are a little different than other WMF wikis. We are far less inclined to block individual users for borderline trolling behavior, and far more inclined to block users who are associated with banned parties, even if they're behavior wouldn't meet our (high) threshold for blocks. I don't think that our stewards understand this dynamic that well, as they have dismissed CU requests regarding block evasion, suggesting that we simply block users if they are a problem or ignore them if they aren't yet up to serious mischief. I think that we should therefore have local checkusers.

Inas and I have both passed CU nominations, although I withdrew mine, and would prefer to keep it withdrawn—I have enough stuff on my plate here as it is. If someone else would step up, I would now support having local checkusers, who better understand the dynamics of our policy towards blocks. --Peter Talk 18:33, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

How are the stewards to understand our "policies" about "block evaders" if they're not clearly laid out? I can understand that we may want to be more rigorous about multiple different employees touting the same hotel in our listings for example but I can't help but feel your stance just gives a licence to witch hunts and personal vendettas. --103.14.185.15 15:12, 29 March 2013 (UTC) (actually Alice forgetting to log-in)
How, for example am I supposed to clear my name? -- Alice 15:14, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
I think the policies are pretty clearly laid out. If a user is banned, they are not allowed to use sock puppets to circumvent the ban. So if someone suspects that an account is a sock puppet of a banned user, they ask a CU to check. The CU then replies yes and blocks the sock, or no and that's it. --Peter Talk 17:57, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
What, then, would be the route for a banned user to demonstrate redemption? Traditionally, WMF wikis have tacitly allowed suspected banned users to return to editing without investigation so long as they kept their noses clean and didn't resume the habits that led to their banning. A strict policy of block-on-sight inhibits that. LtPowers (talk) 01:49, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Internet Brands could request that their ban be lifted (I'm not sure we'd grant that request), as could anyone else. A CU can let us know whether block evasion is happening, and doesn't actually determine who gets banned, un-banned, or what have you. --Peter Talk 14:44, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but such a request would be virtually guaranteed to go nowhere without evidence of reform. Such evidence is impossible without the right to edit without being connected to a previous account. LtPowers (talk) 13:29, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
So are you saying that blocked users should be able to just register a new account or edit from a dynamic ip? Wouldn't that make blocks pointless? --Peter Talk 15:56, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting any particular course of action, just asking how we handle such a situation compared to other wikis. Other wikis do not go on witch hunts; they will look the other way if they have suspicions about a sock but the sock is behaving and not repeating the behavior that led to the block. Certainly some users are so abusive that they are blocked on sight, but they likely wouldn't even be recognized if they were actually behaving. I believe it's well known that there are several active users on en.wikipedia whose previous accounts were (and remain) blocked indefinitely. LtPowers (talk) 23:29, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
Though on enwiki, if a user has been banned by the community, Jimbo Wales, or the Arbitration Committee, they usually do not get that right if it is found out. There was also a situation crosswiki where a user named as Poetlister was an abusive socker who managed to get advanced rights on quite a few wikis, but I'm not too familiar with it. The WMF insisted that Poetlister is banned from all WMF wikis, which is rare since they rarely get involved in user bans. --Rschen7754 02:22, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
@Peter: can you link to some of the declined requests, if they are on Meta? --Rschen7754 19:18, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
I have made my requests in private correspondence because of the sensitive nature of things regarding IB. --Peter Talk 19:40, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
Okay. If they involved linking IP addresses to IB, I believe that borders on a violation of the privacy policy. --Rschen7754 21:54, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
They didn't involve ip addresses. --Peter Talk 02:29, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Okay. Again, I don't know what the emails said, but generally the stewards look for some diffs to show that a connection is at least plausible. However, if it's too obvious, sometimes the requests will be declined as well per w:en:WP:DUCK. I'm not entirely sure how the stewards operate, but this is speaking from my interactions with the enwiki CUs. --Rschen7754 02:43, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Proposal to ban unproven allegations of sockpuppetry[edit]

I think we've all seen the negative results of accusing people of sockpuppetry, and it is not good to push people's buttons and then be put in a position of blocking accounts when the accused or their friends get upset. I would like to suggest a policy that in very plain language states that it is against Wikivoyage policy for any user to accuse another user of being a sockpuppet, unless that has been clearly proven through a checkuser investigation which has not been subsequently called into question by any subsequent investigation. We perhaps should make an exception in dealing with users who never register but for whom circumstantial evidence appears to indicate that they are using multiple IPs, in cases in which they are also unresponsive to all attempts to get their attention through user talk page messages and edit summaries. Otherwise, from what I've seen, accusations of sockpuppetry are extremely disruptive and should be banned. If you disagree, please indicate why. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:12, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

I think we're misunderstanding what CheckUser is here. It's easy to make a CU come up inconclusive by the use of proxies or server farms, and especially in Asia and Africa (and the UK) the way they allocate IPs makes running a CU difficult. Also, CU data is only retained for a few months, so sometimes it can't be used. And this does not account for meatpuppetry at all. Finally, sometimes people have somewhat convincing behavioral proof, yet CU comes up negative.
Also, you have to have justification before running a CU; proof has to come first, not after, once that editor's privacy has been violated.
Perhaps a better proposal would be banning frivolous allegations of sockpuppetry, where there is no grounds to even run a CU and/or there is no evidence that makes such an accusation plausible. --Rschen7754 03:58, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
Banning frivolous allegations of sockpuppetry wouldn't address the disruption that intuitively well-founded but actually, from what I have been told, at least quite arguably untrue allegations have caused. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:01, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, we're then left with a chicken and the egg problem. We need to make an accusation with proof in order to run a CU, but we can't run a CU without proof... --Rschen7754 04:03, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
Let me state in plain language, then, that my proposal is to ban any further mention of the allegation that Alice is a sockpuppet of Frank, or vice versa. Whatever language we can devise that would ban such allegations or allusions to them from being posted to these boards ever again would be very useful for preventing more disruption. And as a side point, I'd like to see any checkuser investigations dealt with by technical means, without allegations being argued about on Wikivoyage boards. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:10, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
As another side point, I really don't think I understand checkuser. If there has to be proof before an investigation, what's the purpose of the investigation? Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:10, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
There has to be enough proof to show that there is a strong possibility of abuse of multiple accounts. Sometimes checks come up negative, and that is generally understood. See m:CheckUser policy and wmf:Privacy policy. --Rschen7754 04:13, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
To put it another way, when I look at cases on enwiki as a SPI clerk, they fall into 3 categories: obvious sock, could be a sock but need confirmation, and definitely not a sock. It's the middle category where we use CU; sometimes we do use CU on the first category if there are concerns about sleeper accounts, or if we need to block an IP or IP range too. --Rschen7754 04:16, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
(about 3 edit conflicts):I would say that up to this point in the history of wt/wv the much greater disruption has come not from the accusers but from the actual accused, who may or may not be involved in actual sockpuppetry but are almost undoubtedly involved in some kind of tag-teaming, trollery, or other game. I can't help but notice that I never seem to have a plethora of random ips magically show up to support my ideas and slam all who don't support them fully, yet for the two or three particularly contoversial users on this site, who just happen to be motivated by coincidence to always harp on the same points in almost exactly the same manner, there appear to be (if we are to refrain entirely from any suggestion of sockpuppetry) dozens of random ips who show up, happen to know everything about the past discussions involving said two or three users, and support those users' controversial positions whole heartedly, demonstrating a quite similar disdain for those who don't. I'm sorry, I try not to bandy about allegations of sockpuppetry too, but sometimes you just have to stop and say, hey, something is fishy here. I don't know or care whether Frank and Alice and any number of random ips are or are not the same person or whatever, but something is definitely fishy, and I would hate to endorse any policy which frowns more on a kick-ass user like Andrecarrotflower for expressing his suspicions than it does for the users who are causing the suspicions in the first place. What's more, I don't think it wise to proceed with checkusers unless there is a modicum of agreement that it might indeed be a case of sock-puppetry. The allegations and analysis of similarities actually do need to come first, as Rschen7754 has pointed out. I think "banning unproven allegations" doesn't make any more sense than banning people from bringing a lawsuit against people who haven't yet been proven guilty. The accusation is what leads to the checkuser, not the other way around. We can't ban people from talking about potential sockpuppetry because that is what leads to more investigation and eventually checkuser. Texugo (talk) 04:34, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
But don't you see what happens when allegations are thrown around? It's disruptive. I get the point about tag-teaming: That's a very reasonable analysis. But we needn't throw around allegations that we know will cause a disruption, and then block accounts because of their reactions to the allegations. Let's deal purely with the behavior. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:52, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I guess the way I'll sum this up is, if there's no way to make this into a reasonable policy, at least we all should please try to exercise the self-restraint not to bring up these accusations ever again, unless in an actual, formal proposal to do a checkuser. But as has been pointed out, a checkuser doesn't address tag-teaming. So I really think it's best to just deal with the behavior and not the allegations that we know will inflame the situation. And let me clarify that I don't mean to pick on any one person here; I just want to avoid this particular cause for conflict coming up again. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:55, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd agree with Texugo for the most part. I'm sympathetic to the desire to add something to our civility guidelines about not making unsubstantiated accusations against IPs or registered users, but we also need some way to make it clear when it looks like someone is trying to create mischief - perhaps it's time to consider a noticeboard (see w:Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard) or something similar for reporting these sorts of issues, but there needs to be some way for people to deal with potential mischief before it becomes too great a distraction.
As a side note Ikan, in response to your comment about a "formal proposal to do a checkuser", Alice has already been blocked as a sockpuppet of Frank on Wikipedia due to a past checkuser, but Frank disputes the validity of that result. However, as Texugo notes, whether there is one user or many is less important than the behavior of the accounts here on Wikivoyage. -- Ryan • (talk) • 05:01, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I understand that Frank and Alice are in fact different people and that some Wikivoyage admins are personally aware of that, but that is a second-hand report to me, and I have no personal knowledge either way. But I also made the point that the behavior is what's important. The thing is, though, referencing sockpuppetry is a guaranteed way to engender a response of indignation. That's why we should avoid mentioning that and concentrate on the content of the posts. And I'm happy to leave this thread there. I am sorry if I myself am responsible for disruption in bringing this up, but it was bugging me, and I feel better to have cleared the air somewhat. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:12, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the direction that Ikan was trying to go, but not necessarily the exact proposal. But I too agree that it's the behaviour that is more important. To that end it would be good to progress Wikivoyage talk:How to handle unwanted edits#Proposal: Revise policy on dealing with repeated unwanted edits. I have only made a small contribution to that so far. I would like to do much more, but it seems a dauntingly large job. Nurg (talk) 08:57, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, discussion seems to have stalled there. :/ --Rschen7754 09:49, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Checkuser request[edit]

Enough is enough

I agree with Ryan et al that unsubstantiated accusations are corrosive and poisonous to the editing environment and may drive good volunteers away. Because of these continuing explicit and implicit allegations of undeclared alternative accounts, I hereby demand a checkuser is made into the following accounts:

User:Alice, User:W. Frank, User:Tony1, User:118.93nzp, User:Peterfitzgerald, User:Cjensen, User:Ypsilon, User:SpendrupsForAll, User:Neotarf; 02:34, 23 November 2013 added User:MmeLePetomaine as one of the most obvious (and newest) single purpose accounts

--118.93nzp (talk) 21:49, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Noone here has the ability to do a checkuser. I suggest you make your demand to the stewards at meta. --Inas (talk) 21:54, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Though I'm surprised by the inclusion of some of the above names, I also agree that we need to close this chapter of the Wikivoyage saga and get a definitive answer as to whether we're dealing with a sockpuppeteer. We've wasted enough energy on this issue. If I may, however, there is no provision in nzp's proposal for the possibility that the puppeteer, if indeed we are dealing with one, would simply create new accounts and continue the nonsense. I'd like to additionally propose that in the case that any of the above-named accounts are proven to be socks, any future suspected sock of the same puppeteer be immediately submitted to Checkuser as a matter of course. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 22:25, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
(Edit conflicts)That would indeed seem sensible.
I've no idea how to make this request to "the stewards at meta".
Can anyone give me guidance on how to proceed, please? --118.93nzp (talk) 22:39, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
meta:Steward_requests/Checkuser --Inas (talk) 22:46, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Firstly, Checkuser won't give you a definitive answer. Perhaps 118.93nzp is not aware that User:W. Frank and User:Alice were already found to be socks of the same user using that process. They have been blocked at WT and at WP for that reason.
Secondly, since we have no policy against sockpuppets, it is of no issue. I'd suggest that 118.93nzp consider avoid returning to the policy discussions and causes that both User:Alice and User:W. Frank supported to add their support.
Thirdly, I'd guess based on policy the stewards aren't going to entertain this. --Inas (talk) 22:33, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Inas: I'm not sure I entirely understand the sentence you wrote of "I'd suggest that 118.93nzp consider avoid returning to the policy discussions and causes that both User:Alice and User:W. Frank supported to add their support." but I will respond as if you had written: I'd suggest that 118.93nzp consider avoid returning to the same policy discussions and causes that both User:Alice and User:W. Frank have supported in order to add his support.
No, I don't accept that limitation. Both Alice and Frank have participated extensively and thoughtfully in many policy areas on this site and I'm certainly not willing to participate here in such a limited fashion as you propose. Furthermore and off the top of my head, it's very difficult to think of anything either have written that doesn't make sense. I don't consider it a "cause" to have consistently formatted articles because we have a comprehensive and easy to understand MoS. --118.93nzp (talk) 00:12, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Okay, that's fine. I can't and don't want to impose limitations. Personally I just judge the words, and don't mind much the account that says them. I just thought since you had been on the site for many years, without participating in any discussions, it wouldn't be a big deal. As I said, our consensus policy handles this. --Inas (talk) 00:50, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
This would be speedy declined as framed, as it fails the CU policy, and because CheckUser is not for fishing. Of course, there's a template on Meta that says it, but I don't want to have it imported, because templates must be imported and all. --Rschen7754 00:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
There is a link to the WMF privacy policy at the bottom of the page. My understanding is that there has never been a Frank/Alice checkuser on any of the 'pedias. Such a thing would be greatly surprising, considering the policy. --Neotarf (talk) 02:23, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
w:Wikipedia:Requests_for_checkuser/Case/W._Frank. Again, not that it is relevant here. --Inas (talk) 02:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
And this person seems to have seen them both. [1]. Trying to sort out this Frank business is obviously a case of "that way madness lies", especially since I don't see any disruption. Or perhaps (pun alert) this is the better quote. --Neotarf (talk) 03:40, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. However, there has been some disruption, like many instances of blending in copyediting changes with changes that support personal position against current policy, and then when the changes are reverted, having a go at the reverter with extended text, with the obligatory sideswipes in the pub and a few other places. A bit of ad-hominem, and trying to engage some on-side and disparaging others, and a need to write an essay on a single revert as if it is the determinant of the success of the site itself. It does get annoying. Alice, Frank and 118.93nzp all hold very similar positions, and have pretty much tag-teamed the same policy discussions with the same M.O. They all hammer the old-guard line when they don't get their way - while of course, still maintaining to have been long term users themselves. All have a familiarity with the site and the users and policy discussions the others have participated in. And done the IP thing into accounts. 118.93nzp hasn't participated in any policy discussions until very recently, and then is suddenly contributing to them everywhere with great familiarity. It isn't hard to see why people would think they were the same person irl. If they aren't, they are certainly very similar people, with mighty similar turn-of-phrase. However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to get hung-up with checkusers, or anything else. Or even care if they are the same user. As long as the edits remain in line with policy, and non-disruptive, everyone is free to use a different account for each edit if they wish. The only time a checkuser would become relevant is if one of the accounts were banned/blocked, or they were actually using the sockpuppet nature of the accounts themselves to be disruptive. Sockpuppet has become a dirty word on WP, but there is no real need to get hung up on having multiple accounts. My only fault is that you get to know the way people express themselves, and the positions they hold. So, I have a tendency to call 118.93nzp, Frank, before I actually get to the signature. So I have to go back and correct myself to get the acknowledgement correct. --Inas (talk) 04:57, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
And all of them have the odd, though technically correct, habit of italicizing the word "per". (example) -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 05:04, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Can you leave User:Tony1 out of this please, 118.93nzp. The suggestions made by other people in June and again recently that he was using other accounts were absurd, and I expect you got an even bigger laugh out of it than I did. Have your fun with the other accounts but leave Tony1 out. I doubt he will be offended at all, just bewildered. Nurg (talk) 06:47, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Enough is enough, allright[edit]

Other than chat with a misanthrope a few years back, I've never been so pissed at some other online personality/-ties than you 118 & co. Satisfied?

I presume this is some sort of punishment for my allegations that may sound unfounded unless one "arses oneself" to read the links. By the way I wrote that text before the infamous Zinepost about “Vikivoyage”. At this point I also would like to cordially welcome the retired Wikipedian and former(?) editor of said column who honor us with his presence since a couple of days back.

I reverted that text not because I was unsure whether I was making false claims but because I decided that I should just mind my own business. Just like most others have, in general, ignored your doings. If what I wrote would’ve been one great piece of bulls*** it wouldn’t make any sense to keep babbling about it, right? You did the exact opposite. Now it seems like this is going to be “my problem” after all. Your application just got approved.

118nz, on the other site known as 118dot93dot73dot30 (perhaps with a signature?) I have had my eyes on you since you started editing a week ago. You certainly fill the criteria to be the member of said tag team - marching in here with an attitude of a distraint officer or something with your edits here at best consisting of correcting grammar and such, while you devote a large part of your time here just stating demands shouting around like nobody else. Other people have pointed out how interesting it is that you know the corridors here like an old employee although you have been here for merely a week or something. Would you like to share your secret, please?

You also seems to have made some good edits today and yesterday, but it would be quite silly to give you a separate thank you for that. Most people here really do nothing except good and useful edits and still we don't really go around and thank each other for everything.

Be more creative next time, please. For instance, did you know that some articles, pretty much every of those about American destinations state their temperature in Fahrenheit! Isn’t that also a “scandal”, “American imperialism”, a “waste of WMF’s money”, “a sign of the coming death of this site?”, and intrigue by the “old guard/boys club” and… did I forget something, please?

The next time you are going to make a Special:Contributions/SpendrupsForAll “sockpuppet” account that is supposed to look like it is owned by someone else, would you care to get your facts right, please? “Jani” with an “i” has left Wikivoyage!? Plus, unless a username is equal to the person's (supposed) real name I very seldom use the person’s real name. I write Google and SEO in capital letters. In those “unfounded allegations” I also never claimed that there is some guy named Frank making sockpuppet accounts and trolling around. I said that there are a couple of people who still hold opinions like these and know each other. Of course, as you aren’t professional sockpuppeteers but merely shall we call it a group of friends who have access to each others accounts for business and pleasure and think you are working for a good cause it isn’t surprising that you aren’t really good at it.

People, stick at doing something useful. Perhaps one day Nelson (New Zealand) could be our OtBP?

What a lovely attitude also in this case...

Still, I’m really touched that you bothered to make me that such a beautiful sock account. Nobody has ever done anything like that before :’). So I want to give something back. A bit of help to achieve your goals. Come to my talk page (we do have something in common - I also detest off-wiki conversations, hence I’ve disabled the e-mail option) and ask me to create a trolling account and vandalize any article(s) and write s*** about anyone you wish that you then can go and report to everybody and I might even do that. Hooray! You can come and ask me to leave WV permanently and if you ask really politely I will do just that - gentleman’s word of honor. Without any blocks or anything. Isn’t that amazing? If you want my support to for instance change the time format to the Ethiopian version you're presumably familiar with - on all articles, sure (I cannot guarantee that everyone else is going to agree, though)! You’re free to use any of your accounts or some IP address. Go ahead, please. You just need to do that at my talk page, please.

Anyways, I’ll look what I can do to further the CheckUser thing you proposed (surely, as you made the original proposal you wouldn't have anything against it?), although you got to admit that writing an request explaining what all of those accounts have in common would be pretty awkward, don’t you think? However my talk page is open also if you want to discuss this matter.

I would like to finish this with two quotations: “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are” (nobody mentioned and nobody forgotten) “Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted”

ϒpsilon (talk) 22:24, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

1) Your edit summary for the personal attacks above, was: "I really have nothing to lose". Should I understand that you are now confessing that it was indeed the same angry person behind the accounts of both User:Ypsilon and User:SpendrupsForAll? or
2) Do you wish to maintain your accusation that I am actually the directing human intelligence behind the account of User:SpendrupsForAll?
3) Please would you clarify, amplify and explain what "that text before the infamous Zinepost about “Vikivoyage”" is supposed to mean?
4) Please would you clarify, amplify and explain who "the retired Wikipedian and former(?) editor of said column who honor us with his presence since a couple of days back”" is supposed to be? --118.93nzp (talk) 09:56, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
1. No. I wrote that summary because I actually expected you (plural form) to call in the cavalry. Who would they be, then? I would rather not name any names at this point and I really, really, really hope I'm wrong. Neither of those persons has shown up in this thread so far.
"Confession"? As shown most recently on Saqib's talk page you, one of your hallmarks, 118 & co. is that you seem to like to play Catholic priests sitting by the confessional listening to people's stories and then "forgiving them for their sins" etc. Aren't you ashamed?
2. Not sure. You, the guy or lady in NZ or whoever is using this account today are not doing this alone. Behind the Spendrupsforall account is someone who sits and "contributes" at half past three onwards in the morning before a workday Finnish time. BTW I wouldn't be surprised if "YpsiIon" with a capital "I" has been created on some other Wikimedia project.
3. "That text" is the text behind the link. With Zinepost I referred to the Signpost article you will find the link to in the Traveller's pub. At the time it was published it referred to this site as "Vikivoyage" so I just continued the tradition. The discussion section certainly is interesting - in all possible ways.
4. Now why would you be interested in that!? Most likely is it not you anyways.
Overall, I'm afraid I can't answer the questions without causing you (plural form) further embarrassment. Also, you haven't answered my questions above. Not that I would care.
My "sleuthing" - which after your recent Checkuser stunt also includes looking deeper into WT and WP articles, user pages and histories - has brought forth some other interesting details. ϒpsilon (talk) 15:32, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I think everyone should read Ypsilon's essay. It seems to clarify a lot of strange occurrences. But the really troubling aspect of it is that it brings up the question of serious security issues. I won't describe it further - just read it and draw your own conclusions. Ikan Kekek (talk) 14:10, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
This would (needless to say) be a major issue if proven, but per the message I left on Ikan's talk page, I'm going to decline to take a position on how likely these allegations are to be true until more people, and more knowledgeable people, weigh in. However, I highly doubt to be true the specific allegation of Peter, Jan and Alexander's accounts have been tampered with. Peter may have left quietly and without much explanation, but a perusal of Jan's last four contributions show him diligently tying up all his remaining loose ends, with a writing style that is recognizably his. As for Alexander, who is still an active member of ru:, he would probably be raising hell there if his account has been hacked, and we at en: surely would have heard about it.
Come to think of it, Alexander has popped his head in from time to time since his "departure" from en:, mostly to chime in on interlingual issues affecting ru:, so his account has definitely not been compromised.
-- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 21:40, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I am not quite happy about allegations concerning my account, but otherwise Ypsilon makes a very good point. Unfortunately, the recent Signpost story has again shown the inability of the local community to oppose trolling. Therefore, it makes little sense to discuss the same thing over and over. Don't feed the trolls, please. --Alexander (talk) 22:01, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I should say, I have no way of knowing how accurate Ypsilon's conclusions are, but the essay sure is interesting. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:25, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Alexander, sorry for what I wrote about your account. At that point I understood that you too had just left the community for good. Everyone, I do not claim that I'm right about any of those points - how could I prove anything? As the essay's title says, I've just collected a couple of interesting coincidences and provided links to them. ϒpsilon (talk) 15:32, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
If anyone thinks that there are sufficient grounds to request that a CU be done, please head on over to m:SRCU and make your case. Saying "we should request a CU!" over and over is meaningless unless someone actually does it. --Rschen7754 20:04, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I strongly support a checkuser to be requested for god sake. --Saqib (talk) 19:00, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure there's anything useful to check. Checkuser is not a magic bullet, and has significant technical and practical limitations. LtPowers (talk) 21:39, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
But there's not harm. Is there? --Saqib (talk) 22:01, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

New policy on sockpuppets, meatpuppets, et al.[edit]

User:Rschen7754 suggested this page as a good place to have the discussion. In Wikivoyage:User ban nominations#Moving forward, he linked w:en:WP:SOCK and d:WD:SOCK. My comment was:

"The Wikidata policy page has the virtue of being easily understandable; by contrast, I find Wikipedia's policy page overly complicated and hard to read. However, it mentions things that are omitted on Wikidata, and might be important."

What do you think our policy should be and why? Please participate. I'd like to see wide participation in this discussion, so that we can come up with a clear policy that's sufficiently complete to deal with all relatively likely eventualities and makes sense. Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:47, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Just a couple of quick thoughts on ground rules:
  • For a second (or third, etc.) account to be fully above board, the connection between accounts should be noted on the user pages. Reasons for having such an account might include: wanting to have a separate watchlist, public vs. private access point, etc.
  • Preferably, one of the accounts should be identified as primary, and the primary account should be used when engaging in policy discussions, when possible
  • No one should ever engage in the same discussion from two different usernames
Texugo (talk) 12:04, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
All advanced permissions (admin, crat, CU, OS) should be only on one account, with the possible exception of a bot account. --Rschen7754 19:56, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Honestly this discussion is coming up due to a single problem user. Unless a philosophical change is made wrt the administration of this community, no amount of policy or CU is going to keep Frank/Alice/118/torty3/etcetcetc from WASTING OUR TIME here, over and over. A few overly cautious foot dragging admins are holding this entire project back from ridding ourselves of this Scottish plague once and for all. Enough already? --Dredn00ghtt (talk) 21:20, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
User:Torty3? Huh? Also, if, as we hope, this project gains many new editors, there will doubtless be other instances of sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry. The reason that Wikipedia has dealt with more of this is that it is a much bigger target. We shouldn't be complacent. I'm not sure who you are (you have only 3 edits to your credit), but I don't think this remark is helpful. If you want to participate should there be a next time that Frank/Alice/118/etc. is nominated for a user ban and not summarily suspended for a longer period, feel free. Otherwise, if you have no suggestions for what this site's policy on sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry should be, nothing personal, but perhaps you'd rather do something else with your time. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:34, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Hello, new user and welcome to Wikivoyage! Yeah, it's evident that we do need to implement some new, more streamlined rules if we regard the behavior of those users to have a negative impact on the site and wish to do something about it. It would be best if people would stick to one account only, and edit as anons if they happen to be using a computer where they don't think it is safe to log in. Ps. I must have a bad memory as I cannot recall when torty3 has been wasting anyone's time here!!? ϒpsilon (talk) 21:46, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
But that would give away a person's IP address in the process, which a lot of people (including me) would not be okay with. --Rschen7754 23:48, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think Wikivoyage is a bit more laissez-faire about IP addresses because we deal so much in geographical information that it's sort of obvious where people live/work/travel, especially those from small towns, even though IP addresses may narrow it down a lot more to even specific neighbourhoods. -- torty3 (talk) 01:02, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Also, thanks for giving us a demonstration of why we need a policy against sockpuppets. --Rschen7754 00:25, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

[unindent] w:en:WP:SOCK and d:WD:SOCK are really good starting points for this discussion. I'd like to suggest that some of the points in both policies be discussed here, so we can decide which points to include and which points to exclude. To me, the tension is between clarity and completeness: I'd prefer not to give up one for the other. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:01, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Does no-one have any further comment? Is creating a new policy unimportant, in your opinion? Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:19, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps someone needs to throw up some points for discussion, or a proposal... I think that's the sticking point. --Rschen7754 23:46, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
It is December, not a particularly conducive month for discussion perhaps. I'm travelling for much of it and quite a few others probably are as well? I feel that it's not really that restrictions on alternate accounts need to be set, but that there are different tolerances on (1) the level of disruptiveness and (2) how to identify a sockpuppet, as shown by previous allegations. Suppose either the WD/WP policies were in place here, what would have occurred differently? -- torty3 (talk) 00:37, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, the account would have been blocked long ago for disruptive behavior, even ignoring the socking. --Rschen7754 01:50, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
And I hope the new user ban procedures will work. Here, I think the WD policy doesn't really specify how a sockpuppet is identified, and discussing the threshold for probable sockpuppetry could be a focus, something that would prevent out of the blue allegations, but would back those with a long and varied history. I would prefer not to resort to diff links, yet they are key in collecting evidence. Can anything else be done about single-purpose accounts, since it's not always obvious who they are if they keep to under 10 edits. -- torty3 (talk) 08:22, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
How much of a problem can they be in under 10 edits? Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:30, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I was reading something about good hand and bad hand accounts. Spendrups and now Dreadn00gt have brought up rather unsubstantiated accounts and would be a lot more disruptive if those accused ate the bait. And then 118.93nzp has alleged that Ypsilon, PeterFitzgerald or CJensen are behind those accounts and flames will continued to be flamed if nothing is done. I think user account creation could be blocked? -- torty3 (talk) 08:50, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
How a sockpuppet is identified - either through CU (technical evidence) or behavioral analysis. I don't think we should discuss the valid cases where a CU can be run here, as that's a whole discussion in itself, and as stewards run the CUs for us for now. We should probably just say that CU evidence is valid though. --Rschen7754 09:16, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
118's edit summary9 tells me that PeterFitzgerald's and CJensen's names added to that CU request for decorative purposes only. ϒpsilon (talk) 21:15, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I suppose there is off-wiki evidence too, such as posts on other sites, but then we have to be careful about a) authenticity and b) not outing the people in the process. In my opinion, it should be rare. --Rschen7754 09:18, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
What about that "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck"? We should be careful about this, but really clear evidence of similarity in edits is sufficient to treat accounts like meatpuppets or sockpuppets. I don't think we have to establish beyond a doubt that the same person is doing edits in an identical style, in order to take action if there are real problem edits involved. For the purpose of this discussion, I think I probably don't need to make explicit which accounts I'm referring to. Ikan Kekek (talk) 09:26, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
But what behavior would be made undesirable simply by virtue of being conducted by a sockpuppet? In other words, even if we were to identify two accounts as belonging to the same person, is that alone enough to justify blocking? Or does there have to be some other behavior associated with those accounts to justify a block? And if the latter, wouldn't we block the account anyway if the behavior justifies it? LtPowers (talk) 20:20, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't seem like it was so easy to come to a decision last time on a block of such an account. I think it's important for us to be able to use "online behavior identical to [name of previously blocked account]" as a basis for a quick decision on a new block. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:30, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
By "previously blocked account", do you mean one that is currently blocked, or one that has had a previous block expire? LtPowers (talk) 22:24, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
It certainly is deceptive as it gives off the appearance that multiple people want a certain topic a certain way, which games consensus. --Rschen7754 23:26, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
LtPowers, don't you know what I'm referring to? It's an account that has the same editing profile as another one that was previously subjected to a temporary block for similar behavior. You'll recall that you opposed the most recent block. Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:52, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
We cannot write policy based on specific instances. I'm trying to tease out what you're asking the general policy to be. Are you suggesting that if we have Account A with a "similar editing profile" to Account B, where Account B was previously blocked for specific misbehavior, then Account A can be re-blocked for the same misbehavior without discussion? LtPowers (talk) 00:16, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes. But it's gotta be a pretty darn close behavioral match, with hopefully CU evidence to support it. --Rschen7754 01:57, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Without CU evidence, I'd propose "Exactly same pattern of edits as User X, who was previously blocked for Y period of time for the same or similar behavior" as a discussion point in User ban nominations. In other words, not no discussion but an easy way to cut to the chase and minimize dissension. As Rschen says, the behavioral match has to be really obvious and unimpeachable. And in that situation, the point wouldn't be to establish beyond doubt that the same person is doing the identical behavior, but that if not, the user in question is certainly aware of previous discussions of it and can be treated as if it were a sock account, for the purposes of determining the length of a block. Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:28, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
That sounds good to me. LtPowers (talk) 02:44, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
What about using multiple accounts to deceive, but having never been blocked? The other thing to note is that CU evidence is on a spectrum: there's strong correlations and weaker correlations, just as there's strong and weak behavioral evidence. --Rschen7754 02:52, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Can you give an example? You mean to try to game policy discussions and the like? Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:40, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, a clear-cut example being a user using two accounts to win a revert war. --Rschen7754 04:05, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Both accounts could be blocked for edit warring. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:49, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
What about the more general problem of two accounts being used to affect discussions? --Rschen7754 10:00, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
That should be prohibited and a blockable offense. Ikan Kekek (talk) 10:11, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Just a few quick thoughts (I don't have much time now or in the next few weeks to contribute). I think the focus should be on improper use of multiple accounts, and not be too stringent on harmless use of multiple accounts.

Take this scenario: A tourism professional might have an account where they identify themself and their professional position. They might also wish to edit pseudonymously as a private individual in a way that is unrelated to their professional work. Indeed, they may have already been doing this prior to editing as a professional representative. As long as they are not using both their accounts for problematic editing, who cares or needs to know that the same individual is using the accounts?

We should be careful about how any new policy is applied retrospectively. If someone has harmlessly created or used multiple accounts in the past and does not wish to declare them, they should not be retrospectively criminalised or forced to declare by a stringent new policy.

I agree with Rschen that admin rights etc should only be used on one account (poss exception of bot acct).

A focus should be defining what are improper uses of multiple accounts, eg:

  1. Circumventing sanctions or blocks
  2. Manipulating and stacking discussions
  3. Deceptive or misleading behaviour
  4. Misusing a clean start - see the 7th point at w:Wikipedia:Sock puppetry#Inappropriate uses of alternative accounts (we might need a "clean start" policy)

We should be very careful with our use of terminology. To call something "sock puppetry" when it is actually meat puppetry is counterproductive. Even to call something "meat puppetry" may be counterproductive, when it is just two acquaintances with similar views who support each other without actively colluding.

One of the trickiest areas is the strength of evidence for claims of puppetry. As Rschen says, even checkuser is not conclusive - there's strong correlations and weaker correlations. And even if two accounts use the same IP, they may be different people who live together or work together.

In addition to use of multiple accounts by one person ("sock puppetry"), we should also consider the use of a single account by multiple people, eg, friends or family members using the same account.

In the end, the problems that have given rise to this discussion have been problematic editing. Even if there were zero suspicions of any sort of puppetry, the editing was still considered problematic. I guess the issue we are struggling with is how to cut to the chase quicker (as Ikan says) where users are editing in a similar and problematic way, regardless of whether they are different people or the same person. But this is why we might need a "clean start" policy - to deal with experienced editors who disavow their previous edits. Nurg (talk) 10:15, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

I have no problem with a "clean start" policy. I want to focus on one particular aspect of the WP policy, though:
Returning to previous articles and topics
It is only natural that editors will want to edit the same topics that drew them to Wikipedia in the first place. However, returning to a favorite topic after a clean start carries a substantial risk that other editors will recognize and connect the old and new accounts. This can result in arguments, further loss of reputation, and blocks or bans, even if your behavior while using the new account was entirely proper. For this reason, it is best to completely avoid old topic areas after a clean start. If you have a favorite topic that you wish to edit, it may be better to continue using the old account, clean up your behavior, and rebuild your reputation the hard way. Alternatively, spend some time editing other areas and building a reputation as a "good" contributor before returning to former topics of interest. Remember that the goal of "clean start" is to make a positive change in your behavior so that you are not recognizable as your former account.
I think that so far, the topics that would be avoided for a "clean start" would be policy arguments, not content areas. That could be different in the future, though. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:15, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
Policy arguments and touchy national/political issues. Texugo (talk) 13:06, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
Right. Or sometimes, ideological or religious issues (or perhaps even worse, racial issues), which are a related area of potential disputes. Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:20, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
As well as the behavior that got you into trouble in the first place. --Rschen7754 19:25, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

I really dislike the term "sockpuppet" because it is always abused on Wikipedia to mean "that guy is conspiring with this guy against me" and nothing else. "Alternate accounts" (my preferred term) has always been allowed on other websites, not just wiki websites, including alternate email accounts, up to a certain point when they become disruptive, and even then it's almost always obvious where the source of the disruption is. I don't see why Wikivoyage has to suddenly look to copying Wikipedia's functions when its arguably smaller community allows it to monitor itself efficiently enough. My two cents, TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 22:45, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

The term "sockpuppet" is certainly used on other Wikimedia sites, besides Wikipedia... --Rschen7754 23:56, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Even when used on other Wikimedia sites (and beyond that even, on other organizations such as Wikia) it's loaded jargon that often carries negative connotations of accounts created in bad faith when naturally the term "alternate accounts" does not suffer from the same. I do not know if Wikipedia was the originator of the term, nor if it was the first website where people were likely to abuse it the most, but it is in my opinion too unfriendly a term to be used when discussing any policy page. When it is uttered, I prefer that a certain specificity be prefaced, such as "Alternate accounts used to disrupt the mission of the project are known as sockpuppets." Accusations of "sockpuppetry" often assume malicious intent on the part of the accused and immediately run contrary to the wiki principle of assume good faith, thus the seriousness of that accusation warrants the accuser to back up his claims with evidence and hard facts. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 02:19, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
It's fine to explain the term, but let's not forget that the policies we talk about do not target uncontroversial alternate accounts. Any accusations under this policy -which indeed should come with evidence- relate to the very kind of actions that make the difference between owning alternate accounts and sockpuppetry. It seems a good idea to mind wording until facts have been established as to any abuse of such accounts, but once that has been done and e.g. for policies regarding a clean start, the connotations that come with the word sockpuppet seem rather accurate. I do agree that where accusations have found no ground, people ought to be wary of mentioning the matter as if they had, but that's another matter. JuliasTravels (talk) 12:36, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Another go at a new sockpuppet policy[edit]

Given the recent activity at Wikivoyage:User ban nominations, I think it's time to rekindle discussion about revisions to our sockpuppet policy while the iron is hot, because there remain some very serious deficiencies in our policy.

Here's a policy proposal that's a distillation of the best (IMO) elements of the framework laid out above, as well as some new ideas of my own.

  • In almost all cases, editors are limited to one account apiece. Those currently using more than one account must choose one of them to use going forward, and merge or retire the others.
Exceptions include but may not be limited to: sysops or other users with special permissions who would like to retain a separate account for use on unsecured connections; users who want to have multiple separate Watchlists (an exception suggested by Texugo which seems like a pretty weak excuse to me, but I'm willing to go with it if consensus disagrees with me). In all cases, it must be acknowledged (or made obvious by which usernames are chosen, e.g. User:AndreCarrotflower vs. User:AndreCarrotflower unsecured) that both accounts belong to the same user, and it should be made clear which is the primary account. Users must never engage in a discussion using more than one account.
  • The results of CheckUser investigations conducted at any other WMF community are considered to be equally valid here. The WMF has robust policies in place to ensure that CheckUser investigations are as accurate as possible, and that only the most trusted users are empowered to conduct investigations or make determinations as to their results, no matter on which WMF site they originate. Furthermore, because en:voy does not currently have any editors with CheckUser privileges, initiating a CheckUser investigation here is usually a cumbersome process.
  • Because it's not ever possible to have solid, unassailable proof of sockpuppetry, and because not even CheckUser is completely foolproof, I also tend to think that sockpuppetry investigations should be closeable with a determination of "guilty" even if no CheckUser investigation ever happens - especially if 1) global CheckUsers decline to investigate an allegation and/or there's a huge backlog that would preclude a speedy resolution, and 2) there's enough circumstantial evidence to indicate probable guilt. How much evidence is "enough" is something we should probably talk about.
  • As elsewhere on Wikimedia, en:voy users determined to have employed sockpuppets for reasons other than the exceptions listed above should be indefbanned. see below.

-- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 00:00, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Usually, if a sockpuppet on Wikimedia project gets indef banned, it's because they're doing other disruptive things (such as using socks for ban evasion, spam or vandalism). A sock of a banned user always pretty much has been shoot-on-sight; the same is true of single-purpose accounts. K7L (talk) 01:25, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
To K7L: I stand corrected. Before I typed this out, I did a bit of research of some case studies at w:Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations and came to the apparently incorrect conclusion that indefbans were the rule of thumb. Of course, I imagine that most sockpuppet operations come to light precisely because the sockmaster is using his puppets for disruptive purposes, making indefbans appropriate in the vast majority of cases.
Would the following be an acceptable amendment to the proposal?
"The primary or master accounts of en:voy users determined to have employed sockpuppets for reasons other than the exceptions listed above should be subject to the provisions of the escalating user blocks clause of Wikivoyage:How to handle unwanted edits; namely, a warning on the user's talk page for a first offense, followed by a three-day ban for the second, two weeks for the third, etc. Puppet accounts will be indefinitely banned or, if used for nondisruptive purposes by a user unaware of the relevant policies, merged into the master account upon request."
-- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 03:08, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Merging accounts is not a normal Mediawiki operation, AFAIK; it was put in place for us so we could merge old WT accounts in, but I don't know if it's going to be maintained indefinitely. Powers (talk) 12:31, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
A second account created just for a robot script is legit if the script itself is valid, a staff account ("User:So-and-so", "User:So-and-so (WMF)") may be useful to determine if this person is acting on behalf of the Foundation (usually, to post announcements) or in their own right as an ordinary user. "Doppelganger" accounts depend who is creating them. If "User:Jimbo" creates "User:J1mbo" himself and abandons it just to prevent its creation by someone else, it might be legit... but a doppelganger to impersonate some other user is likely abuse. K7L (talk) 14:32, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
To K7L: Agreed about the first two points. About the last, I believe there's a feature in the MediaWiki software that can block accounts from being created under certain usernames, and I wonder if it wouldn't be easier for a user to simply request that usernames similar to his own be blacklisted. -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 00:17, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
The tool used to block username and article titles is MediaWiki:Titleblacklist. -- Ryan • (talk) • 01:11, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
This seems to be a sleeping discussion now (I was inactive when it was re-started) but for the record I want to object to restricting the liberty to create or have access to multiple user names further than common on the other large projects. In the Wikimedia context, the focus has always been on finding and disallowing destructive behaviour of all kinds. Note that only in the case of destructive behaviour the term "sockpuppetry" applies, on e.g. Wikipedia. There's quite a list of reasons for people to have or use secondary accounts, longer than the exceptions you named above. This is not a problem provided they do not employ them both for the same intends or purposes. Of course the difficulty of coming to conclusive results in any investigation is a factor in this too. As long as a user is not being disruptive, and may have some privacy reason for the other account, I see no reason why we would need to step in and make a merger obligatory. This line of thinking paves the way for privacy invading research into accounts that have done nothing wrong - even when that's not directly what you're after now. Also keep in mind that this kind of policy might put respected users of other projects in a difficult position, as they would technically be breaking our policy when they happen to drop by here, while they're working within the rules at their own project. That being said, I'm of course fine with the proposed treatment of actual sockpuppet accounts, operated to manipulate or disrupt in any way. JuliasTravels (talk) 09:00, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

Who can currently do a check user[edit]

Have a suspicion, but not 100% certain, about a sock puppet. Who is in a position to do a checkuser? --Traveler100 (talk) 09:43, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

You'd have to make your case to a steward. Here is the stewardlist and there's also a CU request page on meta. Make sure you've read the CU policy though, and keep in mind that having multiple accounts is not forbidden, unless they are used to be disruptive. JuliasTravels (talk) 17:53, 7 October 2015 (UTC)