Proposal:The Identity and Names of Wikipedia Editors

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


It can be estimated that around 90% of Wikipedia Editors/Writers operate under nick names rather than abbreviations of their real names. Furthermore, their user pages do not contain any helpful information that reveals their identity. This is in contrast with the (apparent) search in Wikipedia for verification of the contents of the pages that can be consulted. Everything in Wikipedia is transparent, except for the people that are responsible for the insertion of this information.

Its time for a change in mentality. At first sight, this seems a banal and maybe also a bit a provocative argument especially for many Wikipedia experienced editors which now operate under names like "Buzzbox" or "TheArguMent" or "123MathMind" (hereby invented names merely to provide examples) but many issues and discussions of fundamental importance are related to this feature. An enormous potential amount of extremely experienced persons are not participating in the project, especially in the scientific world. This is because they do not feel a serious involvement in the matter; they are not willing to share their knowledge or "compete" with unknown what they may classify as "amateurs". And so the learning process is limited. Wikipedia could well become the main Human scientific exchange channel, but this can only be achieved if people participating in it are identifiable.

Therefore it is simply proposed that Wikipedia Editors/Writers must become real existing persons, also on their user pages, not just in their real. Wikipedia is not "second life".


Info on the user page:

Wikipedia Editors provide their user pages with information regarding their identity. Some of this info is compulsory, some of it not. User pages are treated just like all other Wikipedia pages; the information contained is checked and verified.

On the user page, a small cv can be placed of the Editor, with especially notes relevant to the experience he/she has in the type of contributions he/she provides. This can be professionally but not necessarily. Somebody can be an expert in postal stamps, not selling them or having published on them. But remember that a WP contribution is a publication in itself.

Furthermore, references can be placed to other pages where information on the Editor can be found such as social network pages or professional network pages.

In case of a person that has published elsewhere, a list of references to his/her publications can be placed. Furthermore it must become more easy to trace the contributions in WP of each specific Editor.

In case the Editor has also a WP page dedictated to him/her, this link will be back-forth available.


During the activity in WP, an Editor can use a button by simply clicking this, his contribution remains anonymous (under a nick he/she can define). In a later stage, he/she can go back to this contribution and reveal his/her identity by clicking on a button.

The WP pages and transparency (this is already part of another separate Proposal:Editor attribution and better citation handling for editors):

On each page, in the HISTORY, anybody consulting the page can be provided with a tools that shows for a piece of text by whom it was written and during which Editing session, when etc. So each fragment of text can be analysed and followed. This proved the possibilty of verifying for each article exactly who are the authors.


Providing Wikipedia a next step in maturity. Involving the scientific community in the project.

Wikipedia is not just World for amateurs / hobbyists. It is a knowledge repository.

A Wikipedia Editor is just as real as a living person for which Biographies exist as Wikipedia Pages.

A scientist can publish just as well a reviewed paper just as she/he as a Wikipedia Page/Discussion. This will provoke them to become WP Editors.

This may close the gap between science and WP.

Key Questions

Will this be accepted by the Wikipedia community? Is the aged part of it mature enough to accept to reveal their identity? Will this proposal, therefore, be accepted by them? Is there any self reference involved? Can a system change from within? Can this be one of the main reasons for the "Wikipedia Crisis"?

As this model has been tried and failed several times by rivals such as Citizendium and Conservapedia, why would we do something that we know would deter most good editors but not deter trolls and vandals? [needs a reference to reports confirming the failure]

How do you verify information supplied by editors in Europe where their real information is protected by European privacy laws?

How to reconcile this transparency with vandalism active in WP of persons that register under false names? How to create a valuable verification of real identity system to protect people from this type of vandalism? See also the discussion page on the proposal "Require all new user Accounts to start as anonymous" which is a proposal in the opposite of the current.

Potential Costs

  • The work should continue to be done as non profit. Revealing identity should not be equivalent with paying a person, because: Most of our editing has been done by anonymous unpaid editors, if we see identification equivalent to payement how do we replace them? Paid editors have been estimated to cost hundreds of millions to do the work anonymous editors do for free.

Therefore, the proposals have no costs.

Remember that scientists generally also work for free; they are not payed to publish an article in a scientific journal, and they do not gain by it. So there is basically no difference between a WP Editor and a scientist....

See also

Near identical proposals to merge:

Affine proposals:

Linked proposals:


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:The Identity and Names of Wikipedia Editors.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. Jpvandijk 10:31, 16 March 2011 (UTC)Jpvandijk