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Wikipedia:Sock puppetry

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If a user seems to be misusing several accounts and/or committing sockpuppetry, you can ask a CheckUser to confirm this by adding the username on the WP:RFCU page.

Sock puppetry is using more than one account in order to violate Wikipedia rules or cause disruption, or get around blocks or bans. The user who uses a sockpuppet may be called a sock puppeteer or a sock master.

Using more than one account is not always bad. When people use more than one account, it is recommended that they link to their original account. It will be easier to know the status of an account. Some people believe that Wikipedians should not have more than one account. Others believe that if accounts are used for good purposes, then it is fine. For example, one editor may decide to make a second account to change articles on public computers. See this page for information on how sock puppetry affects other online communities.

Using more than one account to do something bad, however, is not allowed. Sock puppeteers usually use sockpuppets to vandalize, harass other editors, or spam; they also tend to use these sockpuppets to prevent other editors from easily guessing their connection to one another. Editors who abuse more than one account in this manner will be blocked.

Alternative accounts

Inappropriate uses of alternative accounts

Alternative accounts should not be used to change pages in ways that would be considered improper if done by a single account. Using alternative puppet accounts to split your contributions history means that other editors cannot detect patterns in your contributions.

"Good hand, bad hand" accounts

A bad hand account is one that you would use to make bad changes, such as vandalism, while keeping your good hand account clean of any changes that might reflect negatively on you. A good hand account is an account you use to make good changes to the project. It is never acceptable to keep one account "clean" while using another account to engage in disruptive behavior.

Evasion of blocks or bans

An evasion is where someone uses an account to get around a block or ban. Please do not do this, as this may add time to the existing block, or create one.

Legitimate uses of alternative accounts

Alternative accounts have legitimate uses. For example, prominent users might make a new account to experience how the community functions for new users.

Segregation and security

Some editors use alternative accounts to segregate their contributions for various reasons:

  1. Since public computers can have password-stealing trojans or keyloggers installed, users may register an alternative account to prevent the hijacking of their main accounts. Such accounts should be publicly connected to the main account.
  2. Users with recognized expertise in one field might not wish to associate their contributions to that field with contributions to articles about subjects in which they do not have the same expert standing, or which they consider less weighty.
  3. A person changing an article that is highly controversial within his/her family, social or professional circle, and whose Wikipedia identity is known within that circle, or traceable to their real-world identity, may wish to use an alternative account to avoid real-world consequences from their involvement in that area.
  4. An editor might use an openly declared alternative account to carry out maintenance tasks to simplify the organization of such tasks.
  5. Some public Wi-Fi networks may be dangerous as hackers may be reading what people send and receive through the network.

Doppelgänger accounts

Doppelgänger is a German word for a ghostly double of a living person. In the context of a user account, a doppelgänger account is a second account made with a username similar to one's main account to preemptively prevent impersonation by vandals. Such accounts are permitted and should be marked with the {{doppelganger}} or simply redirected to one's user page. Doppelgänger accounts should not be used for changing pages.

Clean start under a new name

If you have a negative track record and you have decided to make a genuine, clean, and honest new start, and do not wish it to be tarnished by your prior conduct, you can simply stop using the old account(s), and make an unconnected new account. This becomes the only account you then use and is used in a good manner.

Discontinuing the old account means specifically that the old account is not used for changing ever again. If the old account is later used in addition to a new account after supposedly being discontinued, then it has not been discontinued and would fall under the policy for alternative accounts, above.

When an account is discontinued, it is recommended that the old account be noted on its user page as being inactive, to prevent the switch from being interpreted as an attempt to abusively sock puppet. The {{retired}} tag can be used.

Note that the "right to vanish" does not cover this, and repeated switching of accounts is usually seen as a way of avoiding scrutiny and is considered a breach of this policy. This option is also not available to banned users, who are prohibited from editing Wikipedia altogether, either anonymously or under any username.


Editors who operate bots have to make separate accounts (and request they be marked as bot accounts via Wikipedia talk:Bots), so the automated changes can be filtered out of recent changes.

'Role' accounts

Role accounts, accounts which are used by multiple people, are only officially sanctioned on Wikipedia in exceptional cases. If you run one account with multiple users, it is likely to be blocked.

However, the Wikimedia Foundation and Board of Trustees reserve the right to use role accounts where necessary.

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