Alternate accounts

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On a common ground, editors are expected to edit only with one account. But sometimes there may be reasons to have multiple accounts, these multiple accounts are called alternate accounts or sometimes shortened as alts.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Typically, editors are expected to edit from a single account that is used by one person. Sometimes there is an acceptable need to make an alternate account, main examples listed below. There are two keys here; transparency and good intention. It is strongly advised to link to the main account and create it while logged in as a gesture of goodwill against abuse. Names can take whatever form is necessary for the purpose and don't have to strictly associate with the original account, pursuant to the Username Policy of course. Alternate accounts are accepted for a variety of purposes until they demonstrate bad intentions, listed below as illegitimate use. As long as they are used legitimately and with 'common sense', disclosure is not strictly required.

When running for a position/bit that requires a community discussion (for example, bot, administrator/sysop, bureaucrat) with a main account, all alternate accounts should be declared and should not participate in the discussion, especially misleadingly as 'independent' users.

Advanced rights on wikis (particularly for Meta and Miraheze) should only be requested and held by one account at a given time, along with the above on disclosure. Advanced rights include translation administrator, administrator, bureaucrat, checkuser, or oversighter. They do not include more basic rights, such as confirmed, bot, flooder, rollbacker and ipblock-exempt. Notable exceptions are "adminbots" with a sysop flag to perform wiki services and "brand accounts" representing an entity and which may not strictly be controlled by single users.

If there are concerns about acceptable alt usage or circumstances with unusual conditions, it is highly suggested to leave a message or email stewards(at)miraheze.org so guidance can be offered on the simplest and optimal way to handle the situation.

Shared accounts[edit | edit source]

Conversely, users may participate with shared accounts, either for practical user reasons or for administrative ones (bots, brand accounts). Per the user accounts policy, these must be disclosed on the user page and cannot hold global rights.

Using alternate accounts legitimately[edit | edit source]

In all cases, transparency is preferred. Transparency comes from creating the alternate account when the original account is still logged in (i.e., the Special:CreateAccount form) and/or by officially declaring association to the main account on the alt's user page, likewise acknowledging its existence through the main account.

  • Testing: Experiment with user rights and features from an 'ordinary' perspective, such as on a wiki you are developing.
  • Flooders: For organizational reasons, users who perform high-volume manual or semi-automatic edits and frequently use the flooder flag may want to create a second account for those tasks.
  • Branding: An account associated with a particular brand and representing 'the wiki', where the operators and scope of the account are known.
  • Bots: Bots, or automated edit scripts, are often ran from a different account than the one used to operate them, in accordance with any locally established policies governing bot usage (where they exist). Where a wiki has no locally established policies governing bot usage, the bot operator should reach out to any bureaucrat on that wiki stating how they intend to operate their bot, the task(s) it aims to perform, how frequently it plans it to edit, etc., for assent to operate the bot.

Editing while you're not logged in[edit | edit source]

There is no rule against editing while logged out. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including failing to notice that the login session had expired, switching computers, immediately accessing a page via a link, and forgetting passwords.

Using alternate accounts illegitimately[edit | edit source]

This is where sockpuppetry comes in. Sockpuppetry (often abbreviated in discussion as "socking") is the use of multiple Miraheze user accounts for nefarious purposes. Attempts to deceive or mislead other editors, disrupt discussions, distort consensus, avoid sanctions, or otherwise violate community standards and policies are all examples of nefarious purposes.

  • Shortcuts:
    GHBH,
    HAND
    Good-hand/bad-hand accounts: Using good-hand/bad-hand accounts in order to deliberately confuse or deceive other editors who might think you might have some good potential.
  • Avoiding scrutiny: Using multiple accounts to avoid scrutiny or to cause confusion is unacceptable. An example of a good-hand is using one account for constructive use, as opposed to the bad-hand that's used for disruptive editing or vandalism.
  • Strawman socks: Creating a separate account to vote or argue one side of an argument in a disruptive or deliberately offensive or otherwise irrational way, to sway, or otherwise vote in an illusive or otherwise evasive manner will result in your votes being struck and counted as invalid.
  • Edting while logged out in order to mislead: Editing under multiple IP addresses, or editing with a named or unnamed account to completely deceive or otherwise avoid detection will only apply even more consequences to the main account.
  • Role accounts: Just because your account says that it represents a business, or is shared by multiple people through editing, doesn't make it exactly legitimate, and is contrary to the User accounts policy.
  • Misusing a clean start: Switching to another account (whether or not it's new or old) or attempting to conceal a "clean start" in such a fashion that is either deceptive or evading scrutiny constitutes a violation of our user accounts policy.
  • Evasion of sanctions: Sanctions can only apply to people or individuals, not to accounts. Using another account to go around a sanction (or an active block or ban) will only end up with even further consequences, such as heavier sanctions, which may include having your edits reverted or deleted.

How to handle illegitimate accounts[edit | edit source]

  • A CheckUser investigation from a Steward can be requested at Stewards' noticeboard or via e-mail to stewards(at)miraheze.org in cases where there is behavioural and/or other circumstantial evidence of abuse. Users are also welcome to create Discord or IRC accounts at anytime. Administrators can also use publicly available results from Stewards on other wikis, such as sockpuppet investigations and behavioral evidence, to see if multiple accounts are being operated by the same person.

See also[edit | edit source]