Alternate accounts

From Meta

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:
    EVADE,
    Meta:EVASION
    Evasion of sanctions: Sanctions apply to individuals. Using another account to go around a sanction (such as an active block, ban or other restriction) is considered abuse. The offending account will likely be locked and further warning/notice will be issued to the main account.
    If you want to contest a block or ban on a non-Meta Miraheze Wiki, you should follow these options in order: appeal by your local talk page/the locally designated appeal area, appeal to a local/active administrator by their talk page on Meta if this has not been allowed, appeal to Stewards via the Stewards' noticeboard by explaining the situation and getting them to look into it, and if you are unable to edit at all (for example, you've been locked), appeal by email to stewards(at)miraheze.org.
  • Spoofing: Creating multiple accounts to 'spoof' or disrupt community votes or discussions, and using alts to try and discredit the opposing argument with bad form (also called 'straw socking'). Votes and inputs from misused alternate accounts will be struck and implicated accounts will be investigated by Stewards as necessary.
  • Good-hand/bad-hand accounts: Using one account constructively, but operating another (or multiple) for disruption, vandalism and so forth.
  • Edting while logged out in order to mislead: Treat your IP address as an account (a secret one where an actual account is always ideal); everyone is expected to conduct themselves properly even while logged out. Take care when editing with your IP to avoid 'Spoofing' or evading sanctions.
  • Misusing a clean start: Users who need a new beginning, wish to get away from their contentious history or wish to start up an account to pursue a different line of interests on Miraheze can attempt to do so. If global or local sanctions apply, they must be respected, and preferably a Steward is in contact so they do not take the account for a sockpuppet of a repeat vandal or problem case. If not, especially if the problematic behavior resulting in the original sanctions or awful reputation is repeated and no Steward has been contacted to reach terms, this attempted clean start will be seen as abuse.
  • Role accounts: There is no policy against accounts representing entities, but the account should always be able to verify its association with the entity it is named for. For example, accounts implying relationship with a wiki should be verifiably operated by the given wiki's administration and have a clear function.
  • Avoiding scrutiny: A Wikipedia term specializing in the above 'spoofing'; accounts made to lure attention away from the activity or history of the primary account where that information is in the local community's interest. Especially relevant for say, requesting adminship.

How to handle illegitimate accounts[edit | edit source]

  • Any blocks or confrontations should only be done with certainty, by users with experience, preferably with either a track of evidence that convinces multiple people locally or a smoking gun reference to use. Avoid the appearance of a witch hunt - the goal is to deal with the abuse as quickly and cleanly as possible.
  • As a matter covered by global policy, the evidence can be collected and presented to Stewards who can take further actions, ranging from formal warnings to account locks and other global or local measures, Evidence includes behavioral association, any technical evidence that may be visible, and anything else needed to corroborate the suspected abuse. The evidence and request for review can be offered on the Stewards' noticeboard, by IRC/Discord to a Steward or the official #cvt channel, or by email to stewards@miraheze.org.
  • Stewards will use their judgement to determine if global action is needed, including the use of CheckUser - a tool used on a short-term basis to gather technical details of users and connections they reasonably believe are/may be connected to the abuse. Where the link is obvious, ie, a clear 'long term abuse' pattern, local admins are encouraged to block outright and not engage at all. Global Sysops are empowered to deal with them, but are unable to use CheckUser and will defer to Steward investigation.

Legitimate users caught in the crossfire[edit | edit source]

Depending on the wikis involved and the activities taking place, it is unfortunately possible for false positives to occur. These could be suspicion by local admins based on 'you', a legitimate brand new user, being present at the wrong place and wrong time editing similarly to known repeat sockpuppets, ranging to unfortunate technical connections that could result in even a Steward acting on a false positive. As an example, certain connections may be difficult or impossible to distinguish from each other, an issue with certain service providers and proxies (especially schools). In these cases, full communication and cooperation is encouraged and welcomed. Few illegitimate actors will bother to appeal and will simply circumvent sanctions another way. Users who fall under suspicion and have good intentions are encouraged to respond with patience and reason, if necessary soliciting a Steward's assistance with local issues.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]