Commons talk:Username policy

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Initial thoughts[edit]

Should take into account unified single login -- many acount names won't be Commons-only... AnonMoos (talk) 15:46, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia:Username policy might be a good place to model our policy from. With SUL it makes even more sense to have the project username-policy comparable. --J.smith (talk) 17:25, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

This looks good to me, and I have just a few thoughts:

  • Are extremely long names allowed? I believe they are generally considered disruptive, and if so that could perhaps be metioned.
  • What about names that mimic an IP address?
  • I don't know how serious a problem this is, but I do wonder if there really is a need for a special page to report problems. Don't we already have plenty of ways to get an admin's attention?

--MichaelMaggs (talk) 17:29, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

The system has a build-in limit on the length of usernames. J.smith (talk) 17:47, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Well I was wondering on usernames like "Dhhgewrewoaasdqercdasd" what should we do about them? --Kanonkas(talk) 18:03, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
I just added confusing usernames like the one above, what do you think? --Kanonkas(talk) 18:14, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Also usernames that are like ip adresses should be blocked, I'd guess as that can be pretty confusing, thoughts? Also about the "COM:UAA" well I believe it's much easier if we kept it there, rather then on the noticeboard. --Kanonkas(talk) 18:19, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
"Misleading usernames" would be a good catchall. We can't fall into the trap of trying to list every possibility. We need to keep the policy flexible. J.smith (talk) 22:01, 13 October 2008 (UTC)


<span id="Promotional" /><span id="PROMOTIONAL" />

Whats that about? What is the span tag being used for? It aught to be removed if we aren't actually using it. J.smith (talk) 17:30, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Oh, it looks like this is a carry over from wikipedia. I wonder what it's used for. J.smith (talk) 17:48, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Lets you link to a particular point in the page.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:04, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Company names[edit]

There would be a serous problem if people were to impersonate companies, ie if User:Microsoft started adding pornographic images, this would not go down well with the company involved. I'd recommend saying "Users that register a company name as a username will be blocked unless they can show that they are official representatives of the company, via e-mail to OTRS" TimVickers (talk) 17:49, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, very true. It kind of falls into the same category as "Real names of notable people" too. J.smith (talk) 17:56, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Hm I guess we can also put a "Celeb/notable names" on the username policy, for example somebody registers "Hilary Duff" as their username we will block & ask them to confirm if they're "Hilary Duff" through an OTRS mail, sounds good? --Kanonkas(talk) 18:02, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good, with the rider that I've got no idea who Hillary Duff is so don't use that as an example in the policy! TimVickers (talk) 18:20, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
No one important. J.smith (talk) 22:00, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

←The whole section about company names was just changed I'm not sure if I can agree with that, it's fine with big companies but not with minor companies, also should usernames like "" (example) be blocked too? --Kanonkas(talk) 18:59, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I was bold and changed this. If you think not all company names need be blocked we could say "Users that register the name of a company or group as a username may be blocked", which allows admins to ignore the policy in the cases where it doesn't fit. Would that be better? TimVickers (talk) 22:33, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

I think that section is still a bit confusing. I think I can see what it's driving at, but at a first glance it appears in some ways self-contradictory. In particular, it does not seem to provide a clear and unambiguous yes-or-no answer to the question of whether I'd be allowed to use a name like, say, if I 1) could prove myself to be an official representative of that company and 2) did not otherwise engage in promotional activities on Commons. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 17:44, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

I just changed it to that web domain names aren't allowed (hope it's fine), however company names are allowed under the restriction that they don't spam/advertise their products. --Kanonkas(talk) 17:52, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Test case[edit]

(originally posted at

Hey - I have no username to review yet. I want to ask about setting up accounts which are named for an organization, and this is in violation of WP:ORGNAME. I want to ask about precedent and maybe WP:IAR.

I work in medical technology and I have been talking with the public relations departments of some major international health organizations. A lot of these organizations have specific departments for promoting health education.

Officials in these departments are interested in exploring the possibility of releasing large numbers of their company-owned photographs into the public domain, or GNU or CC:0, or whatever else is best for Wikimedia Commons. These photographs would be depictions of health issues and health devices of broad general interest to the public and in my opinion, especially valuable for an encyclopedia.

Here is the issue - I know that Wikipedia has a release form for requesting a third party to allow someone like me to upload media content into Commons on behalf of someone else. I could bring this up, but I think it is not best. What I think is best is a companyname useraccount which uploads the media content and provides proof of its affiliation with the company, as right now, the huge number of pictures (hundreds, if not thousands) to be uploaded are all property of these non-profit health orgs. The company itself is going to have to make some kind of declaration that yes, the pictures were taken and rights are owned by the company, and yes, now it wants to transfer those rights to a free license and make available to the public so that the public can use them for any purpose by Wikimedia Commons standards.

Is this the way to go? Surely the company PR person should not open a personal account in their own name for the purpose of uploading pictures on behalf of their employer, as that person does not actually own the rights to the pictures - the company does. However, this seems to be the advice given by current guidelines.

What is the precedent in this case? How does a science organization with lots of technical pictures get them into Commons, and keep a record that they were the originators of the pictures (not to keep rights, but only to prove that they were legitimately granted)? Can company usernames be created in this case for this purpose? Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:34, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

If this concerned potential Wikipedia contributors, it would probably belong at WT:Username policy. That being said, it looks like you are mostly asking about Commons usernames, so perhaps this is best posted at commons:Commons talk:Username policy. From Commons:Username policy#Company/group names it appears that "a username such as 'Microsoft' will be blocked unless the contributor can show they are official representatives of that company or group, via e-mail to". –xenotalk 18:41, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I just moved this talk to this board at

Can I get some comment on the following points? This is how I think this should work:

  1. The account with a company name should refrain from doing article editing in any Wikipedia mainspace, but can upload media content.
  2. A company account can be a shared account with the username and password being "organization property" to be retained after any employee using that account leaves the company.
  3. If a company or organization wants to edit article mainspace, then it should do so through an individual employee. In such a case -
    1. The employee should pay close attention to WP:COI,
    2. not edit under the company account,
    3. have their own useraccount and edit using that account, and keep that account even if leaving the company's employment, and
    4. declare their organizational affiliation on their userpage.

Is this how things should go down? Blue Rasberry (talk) 06:38, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Is up to Wikipedia to draft policy on people editing Wikipedia, not Commons. --  Docu  at 10:31, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks - I know where I am and what the difference is. Various Wikipedia projects have rules and part of being a user at any of them is signing up for a username. I am proposing to get a username on Commons which is in conflict with the rules on another Wikimedia project, and which is not clearly acceptable even by standards on Commons. I assert that when an organization plans to upload files to Commons they should have a shared company account using their organization name on Commons. In doing this, the company will also be creating a global account and have accounts on other projects, like English Wikipedia. If someone at English Wikipedia opposes the use of a name, I want the support of Commons to keep it. Most likely, if the name is used on a Wikipedia page then its userpage ought to redirect to the Commons userpage, where all the activity actually will be. But I do not want the existence of such a page for a non-contributing user on another Wikimedia project to be hassled if it is found to exist. Understand? Is everything I am saying cool? I understand that not all this is for discussion on Commons, nor is it all for discussion on any Wikipedia project, but I think it is helpful to present all sides of this issue.
Summary - I want to make a shared account on Commons for a company with a company username so that lots of people can use it to upload lots of files here. Cool? Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:00, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Precedents exist − on top of my head, User:Studio Harcourt who was operated by affiliates of en:Studio Harcourt. Also, loads of Commons images were uploaded by some bot affiliated to some kind of organisation (eg User:BrooklynMuseumBot).
My stance would be : organisation account is allowed around here on Commons, should be endorsed by the organisation through OTRS, meaning the organisation is responsible for every single upload. The use of the global account on other projects fall under those projects policies. Jean-Fred (talk) 15:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • two similar cases I can think of use bots created to do the uploads Tropenmuseum & State Library of Queensland both run by the rgansiations I'd common account to uload would be fine, but individuals should still have their accounts to edit/comment/discuss issues Gnangarra 05:05, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
  • And global account may be created - in the worst case it can be blocked local (on plwiki only editing accounts with name the same as company are blocked) Bulwersator (talk) 10:31, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

A few thoughts[edit]

We should add to the policy that usernames should not be easily confused with other user names. For example, with some fonts: Ian, lan, and 1an will look the same. Similarly One and 0ne. Also use of non-english alphabets should be mentioned in the policy, I assume that it is allowed (see for example User:Rüdiger Wölk. But if this is allowed than user:J&#1O72;r&#1O77;kt (after replacing O's with 0's) shows up as user:Jаrеkt with help of Russian letters that look identical to English ones, but have different codes. In general usernames designed to be confused with usernames of existing users should not be allowed. --Jarekt (talk) 03:15, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

The non-English part have already been on the proposed policy, see this edit. --Kanonkas(talk) 12:52, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Also I'd like to make this clear, if somebody tries to "impersonate" somebody using upper-case letters, changing O, I, etc to make it look identical will result in an indefinite block, any objections? --Kanonkas(talk) 12:56, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
If it is just a very similar name I'd go for an indef block of the username, but not the user - they should be allowed to re-register under a new name. However, if they do try to impersonate the person by posting on their talkpage or stalking them, then yes, indef block of the user. TimVickers (talk) 13:55, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good. --Jarekt (talk) 03:01, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Some of this is already covered by AntiSpoof (ie disallowed in the software)  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:07, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Another noticeboard?[edit]

Usernames which are obviously inappropriate should be reported at Commons:Usernames for administrator attention, along with an explanation of the issue, and can be blocked on sight by any administrator.

How about just having them report to an existing noticeboard, rather than create a new one. I'd suggest either Commons:Administrators' noticeboard/Blocks & protections or renaming Commons:Administrators' noticeboard/Vandalism to include usernames. - Rjd0060 (talk) 14:16, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Why can't we just use Commons:Usernames for administrator attention for reporting usernames? Commons:Usernames for administrator attention will make it more specific what the issue is & I'd say easier to use too. --Kanonkas(talk) 14:19, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
We already have 5 boards that overlap as it is. I would rather just use one of the existing ones. If you want it to be specifically named for its use, then I'd say rename the vandalism noticeboard to Commons:Administrators' noticeboard/Vandalism & Usernames. - Rjd0060 (talk) 14:30, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Well I'm thinking to implent twinkle to report such usernames here & well, it would be easier to just create a COM:UAA. --Kanonkas(talk) 14:44, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
If that is the only problem then it would be simple enough to transclude the page that Twinkle writes to to the main reporting page. ;-). - Rjd0060 (talk) 14:58, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Not the only reason, that's just one of them. I just can't see why we can't have a COM:UAA. --Kanonkas(talk) 15:16, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
I do. Messageboard bloat, which is already a problem. Just don't do it, man!  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:06, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Would also be much easier for people from en.wp (I guess) to find this out instead of having to be dragged all the way to AN. --Kanonkas(talk) 18:52, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
A lot of things would make life easier for English Wikipedians. However that's not why we're here. Do we also need ANI, the conflict of interest noticeboard, and rollbackersaurus? Hardly.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:57, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
No need to make this all into drama, I won't bother. Happy? --Kanonkas(talk) 19:02, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm just trying to point out that we needn't replicate English Wikipedia's problems. We should instead learn from their mistakes. Commons is Commons, and our policies should reflect the issues that we have. Not having a page to point people at when we make username blocks is not one of the problems we have. Instead of creating "solutions" (and I dispute whether this is a solution for reasons explained below) for problems we don't have, we should create solutions for problems we do have.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 04:09, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Anything else?[edit]

Anything else we should add before we're trying to gather consensus for this policy? --Kanonkas(talk) 15:24, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Explain why we need a username policy. What problem do we have which this will solve?  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:06, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
People are being blocked for having inappropriate usernames (eg User:Adolf ss, User:Renamed user 1 and User:Acroterion rapes babies) so having a policy we can point people to would help us explain to people what is acceptable and what is not. I see that User:Hilarydufff was unblocked since we have no username policy, which was I guess the spur to try to create one. TimVickers (talk) 20:42, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
We haven't needed a policy to block users or determine whether they're inappropriate up to now; why do we need a policy?  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 00:08, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
If you are making decisions on blocking or unblocking people, if you can't point them to an agreed set of common-sense rules that outline why you blocked them, it will seem pretty arbitrary to the person who has been blocked. It is much less likely to cause offense to be able to say "I'm sorry that name isn't allowed under our username policy. As the policy explains..." than to say "I don't think your username is acceptable because...". Having the community agree on a policy that outlines what we are doing already, so that a new editor can see at a glance what is acceptable, seems much the best approach to me. TimVickers (talk) 20:52, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
But what problem does having this policy solve? To my knowledge, we have not had a problem with not having a page to point people at when making such blocks. Instead, most cases are either
  1. obvious; or
  2. brouth to WB:AN or somesuch for consideration
In the first case, we don't need anything further. In the second case we have at least some discussion to point them at - isn't consensus the heart of open wikis like Commons? What we absolutely don't need is an excess of policy, nor wikilawyering. This proposal fails to understand some basics, I think.  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 04:07, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I think we're going around in circles here. As I said, I think the policy will help make decisions on username policy more consistent and more transparent to new users. To turn your question around, what problem would be created by having a policy that describes what we do already? TimVickers (talk) 17:53, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
We're not going in circles, proponents are evading the issue.
That said, I've already stated why I think approving this as policy is a bad idea. Not only do we not need it, but it can cause problems by enabling wikilawyering. It's not that I'm opposed to having policy, but rather we should make policies to solve problems we have, and we should avoid solving problems we don't have (which is, in and of itself, a problem).  — Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 18:10, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I think we have a fundamental difference is how we see policies. You see policies as telling the community what to do. I see policies as ways to explain to new users what the community does and what it expects. Would you say that was a fair summary? TimVickers (talk) 18:37, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Multi-language concern[edit]

Any ideas on how to fix these issues? Maybe not so strict on "offensive" names, for example it's a bad word in one language and not in another one, as such they're an exempt. --Kanonkas(talk) 17:18, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

Looks fine as it is. TimVickers (talk) 17:50, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
Just thought I'd leave a note. Have you seen the village pump archived discussion? Just in case. --Kanonkas(talk) 18:24, 2 January 2009 (UTC)


This policy is already adopted at Wikipedia. Why not here? --Tyw7  (☎ Contact me! • Contributions)   Changing the world one edit at a time! 06:54, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

I think we have much less of an issue with inappropriate usernames than enwiki does, and in the case that we do get a vulgar, offensive, or promotional username, we can deal with it without a whole policy. I don't think it would be a bad idea to adopt a username policy, but that's why it hasn't been done yet. Regards, –Juliancolton | Talk 12:54, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
We have COM:AGF and probably some others that AFAIK are not controversial, and would be beneficial if adopted. Walter Siegmund (talk) 17:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Well established use[edit]

If the user-name has been registered before this guide was written and the user-name is widely accepted and well known in the community and a rename would be difficult, no action should take place.

-- My proposal. Feel free to comment. -- RE rillke questions? 20:38, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

If we allow, how it can be distinguished from commons position names..such admin or bot--...Captain......Tälk tö me.. 03:45, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
and widely accepted and well known in the community
Furthermore, bots do other tasks than normal users: They usually do not participate in discussions. -- RE rillke questions? 09:00, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Well known in the community is not appropriate, as the user will not be a known one to all..if he is active in some part of commons, that doesn't make well known..--...Captain......Tälk tö me.. 03:52, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

The request to rename Niabot was refused by the community. I don't know what to discuss any-more. We can maybe add something like "and the spelling does not surely indicate a status" (NiaBot would be prohibited, but Niabot won't become renamed.) -- RE rillke questions? 18:11, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Confusing user names[edit]

The section on confusing user names is rather non specific (which is perhaps the idea). I think it needs to be specific, as "confusing" is very subjective. I don't see why random strings of letters is any more confusing than unpronounceable "foreign" names (foreign to whatever is your native language). I can see names that look like IP addresses and names (or signatures) that look almost identical to another user, are liable to cause confusion, what other specific things are envisaged? I don't think we need a catch-all class like this in a policy, if use of a name is causing problems it can be blocked under 'disruptive' clauses, if it is not being used in a disruptive manner, leave it alone.

Looking at the structure of the policy, Commons:Username policy#Confusing usernames doesn't fit, the examples can be moved up into "inappropriate usernames", other material could perhaps be a preamble to the page etc --Tony Wills (talk) 00:15, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Still being developed or failed?[edit]

I was thinking of adding {{Rejected}} here, because things seem to have stalled. I do think we need a policy, so if this is still going then I guess it all needs to be officially finalised. -- Trevj (talk) 12:15, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Should it become policy?[edit]

Continued from Administrators' Noticeboard

Since Rd232 reverted the policy to proposed, I think it's time for the community to finally accept this as policy. As I said on AN, it pretty much describe what we are doing right now, and there hasn't really been any discussion for over a year now. It has been proposed for 4 years now, I think it's time to make it official. Techman224Talk 21:58, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

I think the part of the proposed policy on blocking company and group usernames needs clarification, as can be seen at Commons:Village pump#Template:Bian. INeverCry 02:16, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

The following is edited from comments I made at the VP discussion since I think this is the right place for the discussion. I have two major reasons for believing that this should be policy.

First, since anyone can open an account using any username, we must protect ourselves against identity theft by disallowing organizational user names and requiring notable people to give OTRS confirmation that they are who their name says they are. We could require organizations to use OTRS to verify that the user name was authorized, with a statement from an appropriate corporate officer, but I suspect that few responsible organizations would be willing to do this. Having been that officer (Secretary or Clerk) in a dozen or so corporations, I know that I would not, because there would be no traceability. In support of this I can say that none of my many uses of {{subst:bian}} have been large or sophisticated organizations -- they have almost always been small organizations with only a promotional intent.

Second, and, to me, more important, is that Commons is a group of individual people working together as a team, albeit not always pulling in exactly the same direction. I know INC, RD232, et al and respect their individual opinions without always agreeing. That greatly speeds up some activities, notably closing DRs. For example, I know that Eugene's nominations for small size and lack of EXIF are almost always correct. I cannot know XYZCorp in the same way, because it would have no individual opinions, so every dealing with it would be slower.

As an example of this, I have been helping User:Bdcousineau, who the Gerald Ford Library has assigned to work on uploading their holdings to Commons. I work with her as an individual in a way that I could not work with User:GeraldFordLibrary. I know what she knows and don't have to repeat myself in the way that I would if I did not know what person I was actually dealing with. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 14:02, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

From my observation Commons is a group of people constantly undoing each others work, an awful lot of churn and thrashing about ;-)
Where does 'protect ourselves against identity theft' come from? We are not protecting ourselves, we would be protecting some third party. The fact that the uploads of most company usernames is dismissed as 'promotional content' implies that is the majority of cases we believe that it is the genuine company. The occurrences of identity theft of companies to defame them are few. And no policy about usernames is going to have any effect whosoever in stopping people trying to defame a company (or notable person etc). The number of username variations (including alternative character sets, additional punctuation, additional prefixes and suffixes, additional spaces) makes it pointless to block individual names for this purpose. Ask for OTRS verification when there is significant doubt that a user is who they say they are. Otherwise assume good faith. --Tony Wills (talk) 22:50, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
The policy reads:

"Using Commons for promotion of a company or group is not permitted and accounts that do this will be blocked. Use of a company or group name as a username is also prohibited. For example: a username such as "Microsoft" will be blocked unless the contributor can show they are official representatives of that company or group, via e-mail to"

This is to some degree self-contradictory, implies that the reason is to prevent promotional use, and does not embody the rationale Jameslwoodward discusses above. The policy, the reasoning, and the phrasing all need clarification. Dankarl (talk) 20:10, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Are we saying any blocked company username acct can be unblocked if they send OTRS, or just certain companies? What about companies that engaged in promotion, or who're non-notable? I think the policy has to be fair and even, with no ambiguity. We should block all company usernames or none. A Microsoft rep can upload something with OTRS permission just as easily under a neutral name. It only matters whether or not the OTRS is sufficient. My personal opinion is that all company usernames should be prohibited and blocked, and that the detail about Microsoft, etc, should be removed from the proposed policy to avoid confusion. INeverCry 20:48, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Notability is not a Commons requirement, if a company logo for Microsoft is educational, then a company logo for JonestheCornerShopButcher is educational. Both would be used in exactly the same way. I see an ongoing pointless war against company logos as 'promotional' content. --Tony Wills (talk) 22:50, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Certainly notability is a requirement. We are not Facebook. In order to have photographs of a person here beyond one or two for user pages, the subject must be notable in some way. In order to keep a logo, it must be educational in some way. The Microsoft logo is clearly educational as it illustrates articles on a major corporation. JonestheCornerShopButcher logo might be educational if it had some interesting art, but not if were a simple logo for a small company that did not appear anywhere on WP. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 23:04, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
What has appearing on WP got to do with it, there are many projects not just 'pedias. The microsoft logo is only educational in that it tells us what the microsoft logo looks like, it is no more inherently educational than any other logo. A microsoft logo doesn't so much illustrate microsoft articles, but decorates them - the only article it really illustrates is an article about the microsoft logo. --Tony Wills (talk) 23:17, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I support INC's view -- I see no way to police the use of an organizational name. Within strict limits, one person may have more than one account, but one account should have only one person. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 23:04, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  • If that is the aim of the policy, then don't be oblique about it, simply have a one account, one person policy. --Tony Wills (talk) 23:20, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
    • No, that would be really bad. Users must be allowed to have multiple accounts. For example, we don't want bot edits to be mixed with normal contributions. --Stefan4 (talk) 00:01, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't meaning one account per person, just a single person operating any single account at any one time, rather than muliple people logging under the same username. And I'm not even proposing it as a policy, just suggesting that if that's what we want to enforce, then that is the policy we should create rather than doing something tangential to the percieved problem. --Tony Wills (talk) 01:30, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment What problems would this guideline solve if made into a policy? Not what problems is it aimed at, but what change would it actually make. As far as I can see it would be a place to point people to when explaining the blocking of their account, somewhat self referential - we have blocked you because we don't like your name, what harm has your name caused to the project?, well none but it is our policy to block you incase you cause a problem that would require us to block you. How about we block accounts that cause a problem, rather than block accounts in case they cause a problem. --Tony Wills (talk) 23:09, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't understand the section Commons:Username_policy#Famous_people very well. I think the intent is to avoid impersonation of public people but will an email to OTRS be the solution? I don't expect all famous people to have a verified domain and server to send an email from. And asking them to scan and send back for example, an identity card or a birth certificate is outside's volunteers remit (that's a Foundation task, see m:IN). Best regards. —MarcoAurelio (talk) 15:26, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I think that at Commons:Username_policy#Inappropriate_usernames_2 exceptions should be made for valid and approved m:Role accounts. —MarcoAurelio (talk) 15:29, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
  • The reason Wikipedia explicitly disallows role accounts, names of organizations and other promotional usernames is for a variety of reasons filled with a long-winding and turbulent history about how to deal with such accounts, replete with RFCs and numerous discussions on them. One of those reasons involve violating Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy and Wikipedia's conflict of interest policy, which simply prohibits such users from inserting promotional text, whether intentionally or not, into any articles and going against Wikipedia's missions. I do not see why that same argument should be applied to Commons, nor why we should spend the resources needed to police promotional usernames. They're harmless enough that any truly disruptive users would have their files taken to Commons:Deletion requests, and any linkspammers would have already proved sufficient harm to Commons that they could be blocked through the normal channels at Commons:Administrators' noticeboard/Blocks and protections or in serious cases locking at m:Steward requests/Global. Therefore, in order for this page to become ratified as a widely accepted policy, without any controversy or argument against its ratification, I propose leaving out the issue of promotional usernames for discussion at a later time.
  • If we leave out the issue of promotional usernames or usernames of famous people, I think this page would be sufficient to qualify as a Commons policy page. Particularly, I agree that the following usernames should be disallowed:
  1. Blatant attack usernames are immediately blocked and egregious cases can be oversighted.
  2. Unauthorized account names impersonating WMF staff by appending a WMF suffix to them, having had a clear investigation they were not qualified staff accounts.
  3. Unauthorized account names implying advanced permissions holders.
  4. Account names with the "bot" suffix appended should be blocked as an unauthorized bot, not necessarily as an inappropriate username, with a notice to both the "bot" account's usertalkpage and a notice to any relevant operators if they can be found. We probably need a caveat for this along the lines of: the bot must have at least one edit, or have been making multiple queries to the database so as to slow the servers down (apihighlimits queries).
  5. There should also be a brief section on the distinction between one person per account and one account per person, plus some other nuances about alternate account and/or sockpuppetry policies relevant to Wikimedia Commons, as well as a short section about SUL for the Meta Stewards, account renaming on a global level and all that.
  • The issue of famous people is also a problem with Wikimedia Commons and the Internet in general, see "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog". It's quite possible that the person who registered the account bearing the name of a celebrity is simply a part of that celebrity's fandom, for example someone who really likes Justin Bieber will register an account named Justin Bieber, and it's always assumed that it is part of the internet roleplay culture that emulates a particular celebrity. This is the reason why I have always taken with a grain of salt, even while I argue at Commons:Deletion requests, that there is always the slight possibility the name of the uploader User:SoAndSo does not match the name of the Flickr uploader SoAndSo, who may have just swiped it from the official artist's website. I have observed however that the reason we allow these usernames is because of Commons:Assume good faith, one of our cornerstone principles, and for that we should always extend a large amount of courtesy to our userbase and new users much more than what other sites do with theirs; even while they break out policies left and right, we can lend them a helping hand and guide them towards what is appropriate on Commons, or why they are advised to (but not forced to) change their username according to our future username policy.

Joke usernames and attribution.[edit]

While joke usernames shouldn't be disallowed, the policy should point out that they may prevent commons files from being used because the requirement for attribution (to e.g. Can't sleep, clown will eat me for File:Manzanita Sol verde.jpg) will stop most publications from using the resource. -- Jeandré, 2013-03-04t15:41z

poor example Can't sleep, clown will eat me has over 100,000 edits on en.wp and still ranks in the top 500 editors despite not having edited for about 4 years. I wouldnt refer to this person as being a Joke account. Gnangarra 09:51, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
The account is not a joke, but the name is. While he or she is a valued contributor to WP:EN, we are fortunate that he or she has only 46 edits on Commons, none of them images that require attribution. What User:Jeandré du Toit says is perfectly true -- potential users outside of WMF projects are unlikely to use images that must be attributed to such a name. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 13:33, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
  • The problem is that by codifying this in policy it will also encourage others to actually create silly usernames when contributing to Commons as a way of preventing others from reusing, which in turn could potentially see a rise in the number of people who just wont honor licensing from Commons images that hurts everybody. Gnangarra 01:15, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Maybe we could make proper user names a condition for treating a file as free? I.e. if a file requires attribution, then the file is automatically seen as unfree if the attribution text is something that reusers wouldn't feel happy to attribute a file to. I am, however, not sure how to determine if an attribution text is unsuitable. A real name in one language may be identical to a bad word in another country, and everyone who so wishes should be allowed to be attributed to his real name. --Stefan4 (talk) 17:28, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
We also have a problem that most users dont start out on Commons but rather come here as a result of another project, with unified logins its likely that this policy isnt all the important anymore. Suggest that maybe we look towards forming a new policy about identification of Authors so that we can address these type of issues both for actual contributors and for images source from other locations. Gnangarra 04:32, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
I think that there are actually two separate issues:
  • Users need a user name. Due to SUL, it may be impractical to disallow a user name if the same user name is allowed on some other Wikimedia project. User name rules should preferably be decided centrally at Meta instead, especially after the m:SUL finalisation.
  • Users who demand attribution need to choose how to be attributed. Users are often attributed under their user name, but do not need to be attributed this way. Some users add e.g. [[User:User name|Real name]] to the file information page. On English Wikipedia, I sometimes find files where the uploaders have been asked to be attributed to "Attribution details" because they do not understand the template instructions at w:Template:Cc-by-sa-3.0#Usage. If a file comes from Flickr, then the user name is usually a combination of numbers and letters, e.g. 123456789@N12, but Flickr users normally want to be attributed to something else. What is important to reusers is how a copyright holder wants to be attributed, not what the uploader's user name is. If the uploader has an unsuitable user name but the attribution text is neutral, then there is no problem for reusers. If the attribution text may make a lot of users unwilling to use the file, then it may be a good idea to treat the file as unfree unless the copyright holder agrees to choose a different attribution text or adds a copyright tag which allows people to use the image without attribution. --Stefan4 (talk) 23:16, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Stefan puts the problem very well -- if a user demands an attribution that is not, as a practical matter, usable by all potential users, then we should treat treat the uploads as unfree. This should be true whether the choice of names is intentional, to prevent reuse, or accidental. It is true that there are words that are OK in one language, but not so fine in another ("mist" comes to mind -- it is said that Rolls Royce was about to name the next car after the Silver Cloud as the Silver Mist, until a German speaker commented), but those will be few and can be dealt with as they come up. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 12:00, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
  • While looking at joke names what about user names that are copyrighted/trademarked, these would also be unattributable yet we have users with such names and they are active contributors on Commons. Gnangarra 16:56, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
    • If it would mean that reusers are violating copyright by attributing an author, then the file is clearly unfree. If users wish to be attributed under something trademarked, then we need to figure out whether this prevents using the file in important situations. --Stefan4 (talk) 17:07, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
    • These would also be unattributable - that’s not entirely correct. Names cannot be copyrighted, so a copyright IP is nonexistent in this circumstance. Trademarks relate to commerce in connection with the sale or advertising of goods or services (i.e., the "trade" in "trademark"). To run afoul of trademark, a re-user of Commons content would have to display/use the attribution of the trademarked username in such a way as to cause genuine consumer confusion. Even a username of “Cola Cola” could be attributed to an image of a lion, for example, with no trademark violation unless that attribution induced a consumer to take economic action based on confusion. Even if the hypothetical "Coca Cola" user uploaded an image related to soft drinks, the implications of its use would need to be assessed in the same manner as the use of File:Coca-Cola logo.svg, which we allow per COM:NCR. I don't see why a username would be treated differently, as both manifest visually in reuse. This policy's prohibition of promotional and misleading usernames seems sufficient to mitigate this issue either way. Эlcobbola talk 18:11, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
        • of the user did provide an image of Coca Cola with the attribution of Pepsi that would be problimatic in every sense of the word sufficient to cause others not to reuse the image. Gnangarra 00:40, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
          • Problematic, yes. Trademark violation, no. Эlcobbola talk 01:10, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
      • Actually, as far as I have understood, I could create an image, license it under CC-BY and demand attribution which requires quoting any pre-defined piece of text. For example, I could demand that people must attribute me by quoting the collected works of William Shakespeare, or I could demand to be attributed as "Long Live Adolf Hitler". These are two examples of inappropriate attribution: you shouldn't have to quote long pieces of text (that's why we dropped GFDL as the default licence: it's impractical to quote the licence in a lot of situations) and you shouldn't have to quote wishes about politicians (other people may prefer other politicians). If I demand attribution by virtue of a quote of an entire Harry Potter book (instead of Shakespeare), then there is furthermore a copyright issue with the attribution. --Stefan4 (talk) 23:01, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
        • That is the whole point of the discussion is since GFDL is discouraged as impractical for media so to are attributions that inhibit reuse as well. So yes now that the can is open we should be looking to codify what are unacceptable attribution requirements and ensure we have practical means(policies, guidelines and process criteria's) to deal with such issues.... Gnangarra 00:40, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
        • Mine was a comment about IP in usernames, not extended attribution requirements. An entire Harry Potter book could not possibly be a username. Эlcobbola talk 01:10, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
          • What usernames people choose isn't really the important thing; what's important is how they wish to be attributed. If you mark a file with {{cc-by-sa-3.0|some text}}, then the author has to be attributed as "some text", regardless of whether that is identical to the user name or not. You could easily put a long and impractical quote there. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:00, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
            • This discussion line is about usernames, whether they are the important issue or not. Your attribution example is nonsense either way. The CC-by-SA 3.0 license requires attribution "reasonable to the medium or means" and that such attribution "may be implemented in any reasonable manner". By definition, a "long and impractical quote" is not reasonable, reasonable to a medium, or reasonably implementable. No finder of fact would rule the Harry Potter series to be a reasonable attribution. The CC-by-SA 3.0 license does not say an author can be attributed in any conceivable manner; you may be conflating a mere technical ability of our software (to fill in "some text" in the template). The attribution restriction addresses only a "name" (or pseudonym), which a quote is not. Эlcobbola talk 15:52, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Lemme get this straight, you're saying if someone has registered a trademarked name, say "Coca Cola", and they upload a picture requiring attribution under CC-BY-SA, then whoever reuses it has to credit the image under "Coca Cola", and what's worse is if they upload a picture of some soda cans, then people can't reuse the image because they'd violate trademarks. Am I reading this correctly? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 07:05, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

that is an example of possibilities being raised, the issue is using user names to prevent/discourage reuse of content through attribution requirements. The other issue raise is the style of attribution required that also places an unreasonable expectation. Gnangarra 12:50, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
@TeleComNasSprVen: Trademarks apply to trade. Although an oversimplification of the relationship: Apple, Inc. and Apple Corps Ltd. were both able to use the Apple trademark, by settlement agreement, as one traded in consumer electronics and the other traded in music publication. A breach occurred when Apple, Inc. moved into the music space with iTunes and used Apple trademarks therein. Again, consumer confusion is a primary criterion of trademark infringement. A consumer seeing "Coca Cola" on a picture of a lion -- my example above -- would not be expected to change their economic behavior on that basis; seeing it on an image of beverages (because that is where Coca Cola actually trades), however, may or may not be a different case. Эlcobbola talk 16:07, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Ban on company names doesn't make sense[edit]

Hi, the ban on using company names doesn't make any sense for companies that want to contribute pictures under a BY-license. Even though the license specifically says that the attribution should be done in the way requested by the copyright holder, most people won't look further than the uploader's username (I'm sure I'm not the only one who's seen credits for photographies rendered like "Username/flickr", even on major news sites). I want to upload high quality pictures but I want to make sure that credit is given in the way I've specified it in accordance with the license - to my company's name - not to some random user name policy would force me to upload under. Also, my preferred attribution would be the url to my company's website, i.e. "Photo by, 2013. Some rights reserved (BY-SA 3.0)", so ideally my username would be "", not "companyname". I don't think a policy disallowing this makes sense - why miss out on potentitally great photos? TempUser213 (talk) 02:51, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

The fundamental reason for this policy is that Commons editors are individuals, not organizations. While it is true that in the case of a single person company, this is the same thing, the vast majority of organizations have more than one person. I have relationships with a variety of people here that work for large organizations. Because I know the individual that I am dealing with, I know what his or her level of expertise is and can therefore be more helpful with questions. I also know that I can trust some people to be correct almost all of the time. That trust cannot develop if I don't know which of several people is actually do the work today.
Changing the rules in order to accommodate the fact (which you have not proven in any way) that "most people won't look further than the uploader's username" is backwards -- better to enforce the attribution rules. If this concerns you, you can certainly make it clear on the file description page -- "When used outside of WMF projects, this image must be attributed to XYZ Company". Within broad limits, such a requirement can read any way you wish.
The second reason for this is that what you propose confuses patrollers. If User:Companyxyz uploads an image where the author is John Doe, then the automatic reaction is to tag it for deletion because the author is not the uploader and there is no permission from the author. This may seem trivial, but please remember that we get more than ten thousand new images every day and those of us who look over new ones work very fast. If, on the other hand, User:Companyxyz uploads the image and claims to be the author, then it will be tagged with {{Author missing}} because a company cannot be the author of an image -- the author is the individual who created it, even if the copyright has been transferred. Either of these cases is likely to cause unnecessary DRs unless you are very careful to add an explanation to every image and an OTRS license will be required from each author who appears under Companyxyz. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 15:26, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Libraries, archives, partnerships[edit]

What about Commons:GLAM resp. Commons:Partnerships? Several institution accounts have been created for the purpose of uploading files from libraries and archives, such as User:Swiss Federal Archives, User:Zentralbibliothek Solothurn, or User:Swiss National Library. Do you want to block these, too? The Swiss National Library's account was blocked in English Wikipedia due to their NOSHARE policy (not so in German Wikipedia, which does accept institution accounts), but such a blocking wouldn't seem to be terribly meaningful to me on Commons. Such projects often involve several people and it seems resonable for me to have the institution releasing the material as the uploader. Gestumblindi (talk) 00:48, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

I am fine with these accounts. I think the ban on such accounts is nonsense, specially when there is a partnership with a chapter. Regards, Yann (talk) 05:15, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
As I said above:
"The fundamental reason for this policy is that Commons editors are individuals, not organizations... I have relationships with a variety of people here that work for large organizations. Because I know the individual that I am dealing with, I know what his or her level of expertise is and can therefore be more helpful with questions. I also know that I can trust some people to be correct almost all of the time. That trust cannot develop if I don't know which of several people is actually doing the work today."
Suppose our expert, Susan, leaves and is replaced by Hans, who is a beginner? Or worse, Susan edits some of the time and Hans some of the time? We are accustomed to dealing with an expert who can be depended on and suddenly the same user is not an expert. In particular, what happens to auto-patrol status when the person behind the username changes? After all, there are good reasons why we look harder at newbie work than the work of experienced editors.
I think we can easily deal with this by having names such as User:Swiss Federal Archives - Susan or simply by having the persons identify themselves on their user page.
.     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 13:10, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
I think you have a valid point, but it depends very much on the organisation. If several persons are expected to upload or edit Commons, then yes, it makes sense to have individual accounts. If only one person is expected to deal with Commons, specially in a small organisation, it is much less needed. I would explain the situation to the organisation, and see what configuration they like better. Regards, Yann (talk) 15:25, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Content contributions from GLAM partnerships are easier to manage if they always come from the same account. If an User:Swiss Federal Archives - Susan leaves their job at the archives, I assume the account must be blocked, as the hypothetical user Susan no longer works in an official capacity for the archives. So, after a few years, there could be lots of "dead" User:Swiss Federal Archives - Xyz accounts. If there's a stable account for the entity, however, people can always communicate with someone who is actually tasked to manage this account, as for example User:Swiss National Library is currently by the two Wikipedians in Residence there. Gestumblindi (talk) 16:57, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

Confirmation that this is an official policy[edit]

Jameslwoodward banned a organization, User_talk:Simpleshow foundation, with whom I am working on the basis of this policy. I need guidance on what to do next, so I need to confirm that this policy is in place because right now the page says "proposed". I changed this page from "proposed policy" to "policy" so that I can get clarification.

Whether or not this page is a policy I need guidance on how organizations can get their copyrighted content on Wikimedia Commons. Copyrighted content owned by organizations cannot stand alone if merely uploaded by an employee, so it is difficult for me to know how to get organizational content here onto Commons. If organizations did have group accounts, then the organization as the copyright holder could upload content and make statements about it. I see no guidance in the OTRS documentation on how an organization can upload content over time without sending an OTRS tag for every upload, and I have seen no organization do that. I have seen organizations make OTRS statements for a mass upload, but that is extremely hard to manage because there is no way to easily track if the content they upload in a group matches the OTRS statement. Thoughts from anyone? Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:36, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

@Yann, Gestumblindi, TempUser213, Techman224, INeverCry:@Tony Wills, Dankarl:, as these users commented on this in the past. Blue Rasberry (talk)

I don't think this proposed policy is "ready" yet, per the sections above. Therefore I reverted your change. If this becomes a vote (or an extension to the vote taking place in a section above), I Symbol oppose vote.svg oppose making the current revision of this page a policy.    FDMS  4    19:57, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
First, we have many -- hundreds, maybe thousands -- of institutions making contributions to Commons through individual user accounts. There is no problem such as Blue Rasberry describes. From the institutions' point of view, the problem with an institutional account is control. If a person using the account leaves, particularly if he leaves under difficult circumstances, the institution has an account on Commons that is out if its control. If, on the other hand, the individual is using a single-person account, then the institution merely has to inform us that the account is no longer authorized to work for the institution. OTRS makes it easy for an institution to authorize and de-authorize a particular user. And, by the way, in either case we need OTRS confirmation that the institutional account is actually owned by the institution -- at the moment we do not have any confirmation that the account User:Simpleshow foundation is actually appropriately authorized by the foundation.
From our point of view, there are similar difficulties. As I have said above:
The fundamental reason for this policy is that Commons editors are individuals, not organizations. I have relationships with a variety of people here that work for large organizations. Because I know the individual that I am dealing with, I know what his or her level of expertise is and can therefore be more helpful with questions. I also know that I can trust some people to be correct almost all of the time. That trust cannot develop if I don't know which of several people is actually doing the work today."
Suppose our expert, Susan, leaves and is replaced by Hans, who is a beginner? Or worse, Susan edits some of the time and Hans some of the time? We are accustomed to dealing with an expert who can be depended on and suddenly the same user is not an expert.
Further, if Susan is expert, then she will probably receive auto-patrol status, which does nothing for her, but cuts down on the workload of the page patrollers. We give that status only to people who have a history of making appropriate edits. How can we give it when we don't know who is using the account today? And so forth. After all, there are good reasons why we look harder at newbie work than the work of experienced editors.
Bottom line, even if my colleagues disagree with me on this case, as I said above, we still need OTRS confirmation that the account User:Simpleshow foundation is actually appropriately authorized by the foundation. The account should remain blocked until we receive it. We also probably need a special policy for such accounts -- in particular that they can not be eligible for any of the special authorizations -- auto-patrol, trusted user, admin, etc. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 10:19, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Jameslwoodward I am still confused but I will manage in a different way. Thanks for helping, and consider my concern resolved as I can sort this in a non-controversial way.
I think we are in agreement except for one point - you say "There is no problem such as Blue Rasberry describes" and we are experiencing that problem right now. I see problems both with the group account system and the individual account system, and I predict bad experiences in going forward either way. Please give me more guidance. I recognize that what I am doing is highly problematic for all the reasons you describe, but I see just as many problems with what you are proposing, plus I am not seeing community consensus support for any particular way of responding to this despite years of discussion.
My vision of a group account on Commons is an account which OTRS verifies and then is allowed to upload content, but does not otherwise participate in the community. A group account should be like a bot account; it gets verified somehow, represents another entity, and the control of it can be transferred. Outside Wikipedia, shared accounts are the norm for organizational accounts, and individual accounts are not typical for sharing of copyrighted content of any organization. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have managed to sort this millions of times, and I see no reason why OTRS could not sort it here.
I agree that whenever anyone wishes to participate beyond bot-like tasks then that should happen with a personal account. The problem with personal accounts is that they are not persistent and cannot be transferred from person to person, and because Wikimedia cannot properly manage upload logs and associate them with an OTRS ticket.
Check this out: Category:Images from Cancer Research UK A set of 392 copyright images were uploaded by someone other than the copyright holder. An OTRS ticket is put here saying "Please do not add files to or remove them from this category", and that is the security here. In Commons infrastructure, it would be difficult to notice if somehow a file were added or removed from this set, or especially if both happened. However if a particular Wikipedia account kept a list saying, "these are my files, I own the copyright" then that could be more accessible than an OTRS ticket. I presume that you know that most big media organizations have standing orders not to use or contribute to Wikimedia Commons because the copyright verification is nearly impossible since OTRS ticket systems are used nowhere else and are one of the areas where Wikipedia is less transparent than other sites, again like Facebook and Twitter.
I would support a flag or userright restriction for group accounts which say they can only upload their pages, get a big notice to verify identity, and can do almost nothing else other than upload content just so long as those accounts were transferable and company owned rather than individually owned. I would follow a process for an individual account in which an organization member uploads on behalf of their organization, but it is not clear to me how that can happen while still making it possible to transfer the file tracking tools to the next person managing Wikipedia work.
I suppose that I might also like an organization account which is completely dead and unusable, except that when another person (their employee, maybe) uploads content, they can someone claim ownership for any set of files, change the licensing and attribution templates all at once, and get to see them through the "user uploads" function. Thoughts?
In this case, the organization only has a few files and I think I will just help them manage them individually in OTRS, but I would like to understand this for my own sake when I talk with other orgs. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:35, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for a useful and considered response to this difficult question. I sort of edged around your suggestion in my last paragraph above and I think it's good -- namely, having a new class of user account that is flagged so that it cannot participate in the community except by uploading files and posting to the account's own talk page. Before the first upload, the organization would have to provide OTRS confirmation that the account and its use, including any licensing, was, in fact, authorized by the organization. All other functions on Commons, including, for example, responding to DRs, and making requests on ANB or other people's talk pages, would be handled by individuals who had accounts. In line with our sock policy, those accounts should be disclosed as related to the organization's account.
I'm not sure I understand:
"... but it is not clear to me how that can happen while still making it possible to transfer the file tracking tools to the next person managing Wikipedia work."
What file tracking tools do you have in mind? While it's true that you couldn't list files by contributor, presumably all the files uploaded by or for organization would be in Category:Organization X or a subcat. That would let you get at all of the files easily. That, of course, assumes that no one -- whether malevolent or just careless -- adds or removes the category incorrectly. That possibility is, as you say, a good reason to have Organization X's contributions come from an account that only it can use.
.     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 15:41, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Jameslwoodward You understand me entirely. Yes, the tool I mention is the contribution list, and yes, the problem I mention is that categories can be changed by anyone. If there were a system either of private categories or of sharable account tools then these problems would not exist, but both of those things seem like complicated development projects. Like you, I see the two most viable solutions to be either a shared organization account or a series of personally-owned individual accounts. Neither of these options is very attractive for this kind of use. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:14, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
[EC] The German Wikipedia already has a "verified accounts" system (w:de:WP:Benutzerverifizierung, w:de:Template:Benutzerkonto verifiziert), proposals to start one on Commons I recall didn't receive a lot of feedback (ping User:Russavia). Anyway, I'm creating a draft {{Verified account}} template.    FDMS  4    15:57, 10 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, using a "verified accounts" system for institutions seems to be a good idea. The user accounts for libraries and archives I mentioned in the paragraph Libraries, archives, partnerships above are all accounts verified via OTRS in the German-language Wikipedia, see for example de:Benutzer:Zentralbibliothek Zürich (template on top of the page). - I'd like to reiterate what I wrote above. As Jim repeated his statement, I'll repeat mine, too ;-) : Content contributions from GLAM partnerships are easier to manage if they always come from the same account. If an User:Swiss Federal Archives - Susan leaves their job at the archives, I assume the account must be blocked, as the hypothetical user Susan no longer works in an official capacity for the archives. So, after a few years, there could be lots of "dead" User:Swiss Federal Archives - Xyz accounts. If there's a stable account for the entity, however, people can always communicate with someone who is actually tasked to manage this account. - I agree with Jim that institution accounts shouldn't be allowed to participate in the community, but to "except by uploading files and posting to the account's own talk page" I would also add editing/correcting descriptions of their own uploads. Gestumblindi (talk) 16:04, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
  • RE Cancer Research UK: It would have been useful to have notified me of this discussion, which I'd never seen or heard of, & did not generate any notifications. At my end the CRUK letter to OTRS validated both the 392 images uploaded by Fae and all subsequent uploads by the special account User:Cancer_Research_UK_uploader (Fae was supposed to use the special account but didn't, for a reason I forget). This is the first I've heard from anyone that there is any problem with that approach from the Commons end, and I think User:Bluerasberry is wrong to say "your OTRS ticket does not match your uploads"; it does. I wrote the actual CRUK permission letter, with internal legal people, and that is clear; what it looks like on the OTRS system I can't see. All subsequent additions have been by the special account. Obviously additions to the category can't be controlled, nor easily traced (if there is a tool for that it would be nice to know) but they are being checked by watching the total image count (see also the category talk page, which needs updating). Also that special account only edits these uploads, so its contributions page is also relevant. I agree with your comments at the other discussion; better controls would be desirable. But it is perfectly clear what re-users should do; they should do what the template says (quoted above). Uploaders should all be within CRUK, and learn what to do internally, using the special account, this is not a situation like some where there is a blanket release of the organization's content on open licenses, and others can upload it. If people want other CRUK images uploaded they need to ask me or at wikipediaATcancerDOTorgDOTuk, the permanent wiki-related email. Wiki CRUK John (talk) 19:02, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
About "your OTRS ticket does not match your uploads" - the OTRS ticket is for 392 files, but there are 426 in the category, and there is a "do not add files to or remove them from this category" notice at the top of the page. In October there were only 392 files, so the count did match the ticket. What is the purpose of posting the count here? It seemed to me that this was intended as a copyright attribution feature, with the intent being that the OTRS notice matched all files in the category. Since the notice posted does not match all of the files, it should not be here, right? Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:39, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
I can't access the OTRS system. If the ticket is limited to 392 files it does not reflect the actual CRUK permission correctly, as this has no numerical limit. As I say, no one has suggested this was a issue before. Wiki CRUK John (talk) 09:57, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Give us a clear policy and clear guidelines for institutions willing to donate their content![edit]

I've just spent a couple of hours today and yesterday trying to help a museum upload some high resolution pictures to Commons (photos of three-dimensional objects; the objects are in the public domain, and the museum holds the copyright for the photos and is willing to release them under CC-by-sa).

Conclusion: It is not obvious at all for the non-initiated to find out how best to proceed in order to get the pictures accepted on Commons. The e-mail exchange via OTRS also didn't lead anywhere as there were apparently some misunderstandings.

What is needed in my opinion are two things:

  • A clear policy regarding institutional user accounts
  • Guidelines what type of institutional user accounts to set up for which purpose (if policies regarding user accounts vary across projects, this should be explained and a solution should be proposed that works for the institution across different projects) - Who would even suspect from the outside that what is common practice on one language version of Wikipedia will lead to the user being blocked on an other language version?

Regarding the policy I would suggest the following approach (as others have done before):

  • Allow institutional accounts (e.g. Swiss Federal Archives) for media uploads on Commons, editing of related metadata, editing the related user page, and responding to requests on the institutional accounts's discussion page.
  • Reccomend personalized institutional accounts (e.g. Simon Meyer (BAR-AFS)) for any other activities on Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons.

It absolutely makes sense to link the uploaded images to a permanent account that belongs to the institution and will be monitored even after the employee who was initially responsible for it leaves the institution. I think we should trust institutions to hand over the control over their institutional account to people who are sufficiently knowledgable to use it. This type of transmission of user rights happens all the time within organizations. That's something they need to manage internally, as they manage the access to their servers.

Regarding the guidelines, it is absolutely necessary that we provide step-by-step guidelines targeted at institutions (in particular GLAMs), including example letters. (Existing templates are mostly targeted at individuals and don't foresee right-clearance for all uploads made from a specific institutional account.)

And, last but not least, we should avoid having information out there saying that OTRS-responses may take up to 60 days (I don't have a link to the source, my contact person at the museum read that somewhere and quoted it in an e-mail). There are considerable amounts of movement resources going into GLAM outreach, so we should really be able to make this process much smoother. If an institution wants to provide their content, it shouldn't feel like an uphill battle for them to get their content accepted by the community. And I suspect that by getting the workflows and instructions straight, we could take quite some workload off the volunteers as well.

My 2 cents,

--Beat Estermann (talk) 15:44, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann If you look in the thread above this has been a perennial problem for years. I just encountered it myself. Jameslwoodward, do you have any idea of how many people would want to develop a best practice for this issue right now? Do you know people at the WMF who could give input into this, and other major institutional stakeholders? It is probably close to time to resolving a best practice for this. I can deal with any outcome except perpetual uncertainty, but the case that I would most want to avoid is if the WMF is developing some kind of tool or account change that will in the near future make one option more attractive than the other. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:22, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
I have no contact with or knowledge of the actions of WMF except as they come up here from time to time on other subjects, so I can't be helpful there. Except for the possible "institutional upload accounts" discussed above, I feel fairly strongly that the rule should be one person per account, but I will, of course, accept any policy that the community adopts. The thread above has a variety of experienced and very experienced users in it -- I think it is fair to assume that we would like to adopt a policy, but most of the most experienced users are among the 25 Admins that do around 1,400 deletions every day. I think that few of us particularly wants to spend a lot of time on a controversial topic when we are currently falling behind on dealing with the flood of images here -- more than 10,000 every day..     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 15:38, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
So, we would just need to have a well formulated policy proposal regarding institutional accounts for the purpose of uploading media files to Wikimedia Commons (and activities directly related to this, such as editing related metadata, maintaining the user page, answering to requests and inquiries regarding the uploaded media files). All the other uses of these accounts could be ruled out on Wikimedia Commons and recommendations could be made as to the use of personalized accounts by institutions for further activities (as I understand it, having personal real name accounts with the institution's name in brackets will work on all language versions of Wikipedia, wouldn't it?). As I'm not all too familiar with the decision making processes on Commons, I would be grateful if someone could take this forward, so we end up with a generally recognized policy. --Beat Estermann (talk) 09:19, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Beat Estermann Jameslwoodward I agree with what Jim says that we cannot burden the existing Commons community with forced policy discussion. I also do not want to disrupt existing processes which everyone understands and which have consensus. I get more concerned when I think that going forward, the "organizational account" path would likely be good for organizations but bad for the volunteer community here, whereas the "status quo" path forward would be good for volunteers here but impede organizational donations to Wikimedia Commons. Beat, if you like, we can talk by email to some Wikipedians in Residence and other folks who have managed media donations from organizations, and together we can talk to some WMF person about their future development plans. I think the path that I most prefer is to do things as Jim described, unless the WMF has information that they are doing some kind of software development project to make big changes in the foreseeable future. To the extent that it is possible, I would like to burden the WMF with this problem because difficulties with the infrastructure are mostly unresolvable with community processes, and the end result of doing things Jim's way (which is the Wikipedian way) is that in relationships with external organizations, the Wikimedia Foundation is consistently going to look incompetent for providing infrastructure which only offers undesirable choices. I always feel embarrassed explaining this software and at least I wish I had some flashy promotional material which could make the awkward processes here seem nicer.
I am definitely grateful for all the work of Commons Admins and do not want to disrupt their volunteer work at all, but I regret that doing things the usual way puts a big burden on donors when most organizations would try to court donors. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:38, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
I see that Beat started a conversation about this called "[cultural-partners] Best Practice regarding institutional user accounts on Wikimedia Commons / Wikipedia" in the private Cultural Partners Wikimedia email list. Four people with experience uploading content on behalf of organizations replied. I wish I could link to the conversation; it is my opinion that nothing particularly private is said there, but the rules of the list is privacy. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:54, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
I am strongly in favor of adopting one person one account. Contributors are a heterogenous set. Lumping them together is a bad idea in my opinion. This becomes a real issue when we are talking about extended user rights. We want to make sure that we hand rights to a person that has shown the understanding and capabilities to properly use those rights in a review process (such as bulk uploading with the GWToolset right). If the account is shared, we are giving arbitrary other people these rights without a proper review. A contribution history also becomes more meaningful if it is tied to a single person. It is clearer to address a specific user, to help her/him correct a detrimental behavior (wrong or missing templates, undesirable file naming, categorization issues etc.) if we have one person one account (gee, that sounds like don't ask don't tell ;-) ). I see only benefits for the project here. --Dschwen (talk) 14:58, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
I am strongly in favor of adopting one person one account. Contributors are a heterogenous set. Lumping them together is a bad idea in my opinion. This becomes a real issue when we are talking about extended user rights.
  1. We want to make sure that we hand rights to a person that has shown the understanding and capabilities to properly use those rights in a review process (such as bulk uploading with the GWToolset right). If the account is shared, we are giving arbitrary other people these rights without a proper review.
  2. A contribution history becomes more meaningful if it is tied to a single person.
  3. It is clearer to address a specific user, to help her/him correct a detrimental behavior (wrong or missing templates, undesirable file naming, categorization issues etc.)
All those are benefits from having one person one account (gee, that sounds like don't ask don't tell ;-) ). I see only benefits for the project here. --Dschwen (talk) 14:58, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
I am strongly in favour of adopting a policy which explicitly permits verified institution accounts, but gives guidance that they should be used only for actions which are institutional actions. e.g. donating a large batch of media to the Commons is an institutional action, requiring lots of cost/benefit analysis and internal paperwork which we never see - it is not the action of a single person. Adding a comment on a sysop request, or on the admin noticeboard, is an individual action and should be done using a personal account, which may or may not have a ([ORG]) suffix like the (WMDE) and (WMF) suffixes. I'd love to learn more about the de.wp (and other projects?) policy which allows verified accounts, including both what works well, and what aspects of verified accounts has caused problems..?
Verifying a institutional account would immediately be a huge improvement in the process for the Category:HOPAU/w:WP:HOPAU project, which sees a steady trickle of media uploaded only because the current process isnt well suited for this project. John Vandenberg (chat) 15:44, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
There are other options which are also viable. I am not sure that this proposal is optimal, but I find it attractive as one of the options and it could be a solution. Like other proposals this has drawbacks but I back this proposal as being worthy of consideration. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:47, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Dschwen I agree that this makes sense for all conversation contributions but it makes less sense for upload contributions. Suppose that an organization wishes to upload media files regularly to Commons. Right now, the only way that this can be done is to apply OTRS templates to each file, and to use a new template with each batch of uploads. OTRS templates have always been ugly, confusing, and non-transparent, and it would be better if an organization could make a public declaration that said "This is the official organization account, and all files uploaded by this account really are licensed for sharing on Wikimedia Commons." There is no such thing as a blanket long-term OTRS approval, and there can be confusion about whether a bad or mistaken actor inappropriately applies an OTRS tag to a non-free file also. Ideally just in the same way that individuals are trusted with their own uploads, organizations could be trusted somehow also. Conversation and communication from a group account is a totally different issue and I agree that should never happen. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:44, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: again not an argument for institutional group accounts. This can be done with institutional per person accounts in the very same way. It seems to me that the discussion is dominated by the idea that behind every institutional account are countless people doing the uploading work. I'm willing to bet that this is not true. In all likelihood there is one, maybe two internet/commons people at that institution that do the actual uploading, and should assume the final responsibility for it (let's not diffuse that responsibility over an entire organization. please). The issue is that if these people are interns for example, the people in that role may change over time. I'd like this to be reflected by having new accounts. The branding of the uploads should be achieved via institution templates, not uploader account names. --Dschwen (talk) 17:06, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Dschwen I completely agree with what you are saying, and the process you describe is best. However, there is a benefit associated with having a persistent account, and the process you describe prohibits access to that benefit. I want the process associated with multiple accounts, but the benefit associated with a persistent account. In the process you describe, you remove a benefit and give no path or opportunity for the people following this process to enjoy a replacement for the lost benefit. It is complicated enough for a single account to begin uploading images to make a collection, and when multiple accounts do this over time, the process becomes confusing even beyond what highly experienced Wikipedians ever have to manage. If you can propose a way to have multiple accounts share an upload pool and manage it as a whole, then your proposal works. So far as I know, no one has been able to do this in a more efficient way than uploading from a single account.
A possible exception is having a bot account which could be passed person to person. When I think of "organizational accounts", I really think of transferable bot accounts, but I have never actually seen anyone pass around an upload bot. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:38, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: I think you are on to something! Let me paraphrase: You would support "Name (Organization)" accounts for human interaction and a "Organization (Upload)" account to act as the upload "bot"? I think this would be a good compromise. On the userpage of the upload bot we'd record the current "owner". This would give us accountability. What do you think? --Dschwen (talk) 22:08, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Dschwen Yes, that is what I was describing. Again, I do not feel strongly about this and have not thought this through, but to me it seems like one of the options for addressing organizations' management concerns about the upload of their content. If you are interested in commenting on a proposal for this idea, then I would start a draft of something. Russavia below has a legitimate concern that this system brings significant complications with no obvious way to address them. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:15, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
I suggest that we allow institutional/organisation/company accounts, but require them to be verified. German Wikipedia has them (de:Kategorie:Benutzer:Verifiziert) so there is no reason we can't. As Bluerasberry states we need to keep it simple, although his comments are directed more towards GLAM, my comments cover all organisations which produce useful content for us (that includes companies/corporations/etc); this is where I am doing outreach, but am held back by the belief of some in the community that company accounts are blocked. We need to make it simple for all our donors and allow verified accounts. russavia (talk) 15:37, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) If the belief that "company accounts are blocked" is holding you back then why don't you tel them to create a Name (Organization) style account in the first place? Do many organizations really have more than one person contributing? If not, where is the additional barrier then? Is is so much harder to create two accounts rather than one? Creating an account is already easy. It is not harder here than anywhere else on the internet - probably easier (except we don't have a "Sign in with Facebook/Google"... yet ;-) ). --Dschwen (talk) 15:48, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Dschwen I find this to be as problematic as all other options that I see. Organizations desire to have some place to see everything that they have uploaded, especially when their media portfolio includes free and non-free media, and they only want to share some of their media on Wikipedia. In this case, the need is for one place to see all media, so that it can be distinguished as a collection and differentiate from anything that is not part of that collection. Currently, the best tool for presenting this is clicking "user uploads" when visiting the user page of a particular account, and there is no way to get the functionality of that feature outside of being tied to one single account. If multiple accounts could get some userright to contribute to what is currently called the "user uploads" feed, then that would work. Other than this, it is difficult to verify and maintain any collection of media uploaded to Commons when a high priority is proving that the organization itself released the rights.
Beyond this, organizations would like to be able to manage the licenses on all of the files they upload. This could be done with templates, and template control could be applied both to the files they upload themselves and to files uploaded by others, in the case where the organization makes their content available for others to upload. A major problem with templates is uncertainty about page stability due to the Media Viewer. I have no idea what templates will be stable and visible in the future, or what will be compatible with how the Media Viewer presents files by default. Without having specifications for file release, I hesitate to trust only in designing a template.
Without trust in templates, and without the ability to make organizational accounts, I am unsure of what to do. If others here would like to call for a more standardized process then I would like to participate in the design of one.
At this time, I have no strong feelings for either allowing or disallowing organizational accounts, but I would like some certainty about best practices either way. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:35, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: we really don't need to rely on all files being uploaded by the same person to access them as a collection, we have categories for this purpose (and they could be applied through an institution template, and are already). --Dschwen (talk) 17:00, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Dschwen I disagree. If it were the same then the "user uploads" tool would have never been coded into every account, and instead category tags could have been used to do what you describe. If someone, for example, adds or removes an item from a category, it is extremely difficult to be alerted to this, and more difficult if multiple users are simultaneously managing the category, and more difficult still if a bad actor wishes to sneak something into or out of the category. How would you address these additional complications for categories as compared to the user upload tool? Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:42, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
  • There is User:WMFOffice which seems to have been accepted on Commons as an institutional account. Allowing institutional accounts seems to have both advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, institutional accounts should at least be unable to obtain certain advanced permissions such as sysop rights. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:52, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Stefan4 I have not thought this through, but if institutional/group accounts could be restricted to uploading files and prohibited even from talking on their own talk pages, then I think that would work. Then an organizational representative with an individual account could do the talking. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:37, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Bluerasberry any prohibition isn't a good thing. If we had Category:Verified accounts for all organisations, we could make it a requirement of the verification that anyone using that account does so on the understanding that any text contributions (including descriptions, which are required with upload) are released into the public domain with CC-0; this of course does not affect any media which can be licenced at their will. russavia (talk) 17:03, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Russavia Perhaps so or perhaps not. Operators of bot accounts are mostly prohibited from talking in the voice of their bot, and that seems to work well enough. An organizational account for uploads is like a bot account more than anything else, in the way that I imagine them. I am not sure that I like the idea of a persistent organizational account changing operators and having long term conversation with community members who are not aware when the voice of the account changes. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:47, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Bluerasberry I don't see that as a problem so much; it would really be up to the organisation to ensure that anyone who would be using the account over an extended period are all reading off the same page in their dealings with Commons, and also make the community aware that we aren't talking to individuals from within the organisation, but we are talking directly to that organisation. We would need to make it as simple as possible for entities to engage with us, and us with them. It wouldn't help if we required the Corp Comm department of a company to have 5 different accounts for individuals; it would complicate the process of being able to deal with them in general. russavia (talk) 18:53, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Russavia Yes you are correct. What I said has a problem, and what you said does not have that problem. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:59, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

dewiki has de:Kategorie:Benutzer:Verifiziert and de:Vorlage:Benutzerkonto verifiziert which says:

This user account has been verified by the support team with an e-mail address of $3. Usage of the verified account does not exempt from liability to provide references or the rules regarding conflict of interest or neutral point of view, and does not give any special right for articles. The support team cannot ensure the that the user indeed is entitled to speak for $2.

It is concensus that verified accounts although are slightly exempt from references for uncontroversial edits like employee number updates or similar, in the article namespace. It is also concensus that account verification does under no circumstances replace any OTRS file permission, not least because "source = company archive" and "author = company" for obvious reasons is mostly not sufficient.
So, as we don't have any article namespace at commons and verified accounts are not helpful in the file namespace, the conclusion is that verified accounts are not helpful at commons.
We have Category:Custom license tags with OTRS permission, though, and if used with very tight conditions and carefully explained to the user, they are very helpful. --Krd 16:32, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Krd I agree that "verified accounts are not helpful at commons" because nothing about Commons is helpful to organizations which wish to donate copyrighted Commons. This is discussion is to check to see if any standard process exists, and if not, to imagine what kind of standard process should exist for organizations to share their content. Here are the questions I would like answered:
  1. Does Wikimedia Commons provide any best practice which would work in the easiest case of an organization donating its copyrighted media content into Wikimedia Commons?
  2. If no best practice exists, should one exist?
  3. If one should exist, then what should it be?
The answer to the first question is probably "no, but uploading then verifying each file with an OTRS template is tolerated". The answer to the second question is "not sure". The answer to the third question is "maybe declare the current OTRS verification practice to be standard, maybe use verified accounts, maybe use something like OTRS except transparent and automated rather than exclusive and dependent on the personal attention of trained Wikimedians, or maybe describe all options then seek comment." Questions 1 and 2 are the most difficult here; with question 3 there are lots of options that all lead to similar places.
That category you shared is really cool, but it has lot of problems too. A major difficulty with that category is that a bad actor might add it to any non-free file, and there is little hope that it would ever be detected. This is a major liability which impedes the legitimacy of Wikimedia Commons among users who depend on integrity, because it falls back on a need to verify by personally asking a human if the CC license is valid. Lots of things could make this uncertain; verified accounts are one of the several bad options which would at least address this problem. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:53, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
If you take Template:Aggro permission or Template:Diesing permission as example, it is comprehensible for every user, even without OTRS access, if the permission is valid, because the conditions are described very tightly. I would consider this as best practice. --Krd 15:07, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Krd I think this is the best practice for using OTRS templates, and I like this almost entirely. Some problems with this include that these templates still use OTRS and still have the problems associated with that system and lack the benefits associated with single-account upload. Many organizations would prefer a public process that includes presenting the release openly somewhere. Also, the basic problem of not being able to regulate the use of this template remains, and should this template be applied to any new image by a bad or mistaken actor, if the number of files with the template is high then there is no process for identifying which file newly got this template wrongly applied to it, whereas with a dedicated account for uploading that feature comes natively. Thanks for sharing this. This method does not give the tools associated with dedicated accounts but it is probably the best way to manage OTRS uploads. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:09, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Regarding "organizations would prefer a public process", for files that are already published on a website under a free license we have the license review process which doesn't require OTRS. Regardless of the user name of the user who uploads them, btw. And this process has the same drawbacks, e.g. for DW or files the publisher isn't really the copyright holder. With OTRS involved it is more likely that someone talked to the uploader and advised him on possible problems. --Krd 17:22, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Krd All of these are advantages and worth having. I am unable to weigh these advantages against the advantages and disadvantages of other systems. I continue to believe that all proposed systems have horrible disadvantages and mediocre advantages, and that any path for organizational partnership has discouraging barriers far in excess of what individuals ever have to encounter. I am not sure how I want to proceed, but I am thinking of collecting all proposals so that at least people can imagine the pros and cons of each one and compare them with the problems and benefits of the current system. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:23, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Famous people - why to be blocked?[edit]

Editors registering under the names of famous people may be blocked unless they can show they are that person or it is their real name…

Why is this necessary at Commons, why do we need confirmation by email from any user who by bad luck has John Doe oder Michael Jackson as realname? --Krd 17:08, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

To avoid this, I guess. Lotje (talk) 13:14, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Why is this a problem at Commons? --Krd 15:47, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Suppose, someone pretends to be Luis Javier. Lotje (talk) 16:09, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
This can be Luis Javier himself, a fan of Luis Javier who chose that pseudonym, or a different person whose realname by fortune is Luis Javier. In any case we need OTRS permission for the images, but why is the use of this user name discouraged? --Krd 16:39, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Might very well be, this is 2 different people names together: Luisie Javier and Claisse Quiroz --> Wikipedia:Sock puppetry Lotje (talk) 16:50, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
Krd, I'm surprised at your reaction here -- as a CU you certainly see all of the bad things that a very few of our users can do. Impersonating a notable person is just another one of those things. I have blocked maybe half a dozen notable people over the years and asked them for confirmation. All of those that were actually the notable person have liked the fact that we take the care to block imposters. Just four days ago, I blocked the architect, Christian Gänshirt, and he gave me a "thank you" for the edit. As you will see there, I apologize for the nuisance and make it as easy as possible. I see no reason to change the policy because it works to eliminate problems and is appreciated by those affected. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 13:04, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Jameslwoodward, I cannot agree more. Face-smile.svg Lotje (talk) 15:00, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Jim, my concern is the {{Verified account}}, which now has it's first usage at the user page of Christian Gänshirt. I would like to avoid using such templates unless it is concensus that we actively verify accounts and have a procedure at OTRS for this. If we can agree that the template shall be deleted, I'm fine with the status-quo. --Krd 15:43, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Christian Gänshirt got blocked, sent an eMail, and got unblocked and tagged. That's the process. The template is here to keep users unblocked (in a transparent way), it doesn't suggest that non-tagged users should get blocked …    FDMS  4    15:59, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Can someone get precautionary verified before he gets blocked? If yes, who can get verified? Anybody? --Krd 16:10, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
With as much as without verified accounts, we need a username policy for these questions. Again, long before I created this template, users got blocked because their username included a famous person's or organisation's name. Up to admin discretion. These users could always get their identity verified, and the verification was usually "stored" onwiki in a "We received an identity confirmation via OTRS. ~~~~" comment somewhere on the talkpage or its archives.    FDMS  4    16:34, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
As said above, to my opinion it's sufficient for the moment to get rid of the template. --Krd 16:46, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

Long story long: We had the same start with verified accounts at dewiki. One account was asked to verify, and other liked to have this nice template on their user page, too. Currently there are 3300 verified users of which maybe a dozen or two really needed verification. Can this be avoided at Commons? --Krd 16:13, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

  • It is of course a problem if people are impersonating other people, but is this specifically related to famous people? Many people who impersonate other people probably impersonate non-famous people, for example other people working for the same company or going to the same school.
Some famous people have common names which are also held by many others. Someone mentioned the name "Michael Jackson", a name held by many famous men, see w:Michael Jackson (disambiguation) for all of them, or w:Michael Jackson for the most famous one. I tried searching for "Michael Jackson" on Eniro (Swedish telephone directory) and found 14 people with that name in Sweden (some of them spelling their names slightly differently).[1] A similar search in other countries would probably find lots of other people with the same name. If you have a common name, then it is likely that there also exists a famous person somewhere in the world who shares your name. Try looking up your real name on Wikipedia. Is there an article with that name, or maybe even a disambiguation page?
Should people with common names really be punished because there is some famous person who has the same common name? It is of course different if the account holder claims to be the famous person. --Stefan4 (talk) 15:59, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
If someone shares a name with famous person, there is nothing stopping them choosing another name. For example they could impersonate a fictional personality like the Jolly Green Giant. Green Giant (talk) 18:26, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
However, everyone should be able to use his real name, even if there happens to be a famous person with the same name. --Stefan4 (talk) 18:34, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
That is clearly permitted by the policy, but if someone named George Bush to use that name on Commons, he must prove that his name is actually George Bush. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 22:55, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
The problem is that this creates an extra burden for people with common names. --Stefan4 (talk) 22:58, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
How to react for example to User:GinetexGermany, blocked on de.wikipedia Lotje (talk) 05:12, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Procedural nits[edit]

Apart from the shortcut a policy should be in a state for translations. There should be the usual policy navbox at the bottom, with an entry for the policy. There should be some kind of closed discussion (RFC or similar) with a signature of somebody for a (rough) consensus. There should be an entry in the {{Cent}} archive for this discussion. Just flipping {{Proposed}} to {{Policy}} and let's see what happens is BOLD (= good), but not good enough. –Be..anyone (talk) 18:27, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Product or brand name[edit]

Hi, it says "promotion of a company or group is not permitted" - does this include product/brand names like Beck's for example? --Trofobi (talk) 00:34, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, absolutely. Unless, perhaps, the user could prove (via OTRS) that his name was actually "Beck". .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 10:28, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi, is User:Becks also problematic? Cause on the images downloaded is says: author Becks Becks. I started adding the infobox template but now I am not sure anymore. Thank you for your time. Face-smile.svg Lotje (talk) 14:38, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
I guess I would ask for verification of his name if he were adding images of Beck's beer, but since he is far from that subject, I am very much inclined to ignore it. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 16:27, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
@Jameslwoodward: so do I see it, too. Shouldn't it be then put into the guidelines like in en:WP:PRODNAME to prevent misunderstandings? --Trofobi (talk) 12:04, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I have nothing to say about WP:EN username policy. .     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 12:57, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Trofobi I do not have enough information to give comment. Can you please describe the particular case about which you want an opinion? Different people have different understanding of what constitutes promotion. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:16, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: One is exactly the above mentioned username, plus the colour/layout of the name on his UP that imho looks like an ad for the beer. --Trofobi (talk) 12:04, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
The user is Beck's. The product is beer from en:Beck's Brewery. The name and userpage art are similar to the name of the beer. In my opinion, that alone is not promotional, because few people (<100, likely) will ever see this person's page unless they become a very active Wikipedian, and because I am not convinced that people would see the page and say it is the same as the product logo. Because I am not convinced of the product brand association, and because this is a low-traffic place on Wikipedia, and because the person does not seem to be otherwise promoting products on Wikipedia, I do not perceive a problem with this name or userpage art. Other people may have other opinions, or more information about this case. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:12, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

The "clarification"...[edit]

... added by Bluerasberry doesn't seem to be particularly clear to me. Bluerasberry, by saying "Currently there seem to be no active role accounts allowed on Wikimedia Commons", you mean only role accounts for Wikimedia roles? For there are certainly, as discussed above, well-established and active accounts for some libraries and archives such as User:Swiss National Library. Gestumblindi (talk) 20:35, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

@Gestumblindi: I did not know that. Why is this account allowed? Are other role accounts allowed? Do you know of other role accounts? Is it not the case that these kinds of kinds are usually blocked on sight? Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:09, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Well, you participated in some of the discussion threads above, where this account and similar accounts were mentioned, so I'm a bit surprised that this is news to you. And more than a year ago, I created the "Libraries, archives, partnerships" thread here. - Your surprise may have to do with different Wikipedia cultures: In German-language Wikipedia, organization accounts are accepted, using the "verified accounts" system (see de:Wikipedia:Benutzerverifizierung). There is, for example, a (somewhat controversial, but accepted) user de:Benutzer:Verlagsgruppe Random House for the Random House publishing company. In English Wikipedia, AFAIK, such accounts are indeed "blocked on sight". This has, by the way, also caused the Swiss National Library's account being blocked in English Wikipedia, whilst its existence is fully accepted in German Wikipedia. Other library and archives accounts from Switzerland are User:Zentralbibliothek Solothurn, User:Zentralbibliothek Zürich, or User:Swiss Federal Archives. As I wrote here a year ago, Content contributions from GLAM partnerships are easier to manage if they always come from the same account. If an User:Swiss Federal Archives - Susan leaves their job at the archives, I assume the account must be blocked, as the hypothetical user Susan no longer works in an official capacity for the archives. So, after a few years, there could be lots of "dead" User:Swiss Federal Archives - Xyz accounts. If there's a stable account for the entity, however, people can always communicate with someone who is actually tasked to manage this account. Gestumblindi (talk) 21:25, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Adding ping @Bluerasberry: for notification ;-) - and another example, not from Switzerland for a change: User:Bundesarchiv-B6, a role account for the German Federal Archives (their image archives). Gestumblindi (talk) 21:40, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
There's also the new User:Guggenheim Museum (BTW, could you verify your account by sending an eMail from a address to Please revert.    FDMS  4    22:42, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
Gestumblindi I remain interested in knowing what the policy is and am still unclear. I just made an edit saying that group accounts are permitted. Is this accurate? If there is consensus one way or the other then I would like for this page to reflect this. Having a clear policy makes it much easier to establish partnerships and this has been a point of confusion for years. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:16, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: As far as I know, Wikimedia Commons doesn't have any kind of "official" policy on this so far; also, I'm not sure that we should treat accounts for contributing GLAM institutions that are mainly used for uploads of public domain material the same way as e.g. the Random House account - this publisher is uploading book covers under a free license, such as File:In der Schwebe (Tess Gerritsen, 2001).jpg, but this certainly has a promotional aspect, although the covers are useful... so, maybe further discussion is needed. Gestumblindi (talk) 18:57, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: Given the apparent differences in various projects and language versions e.g. of Wikipedia in handling this kind of account, I have changed the wording of your addition - I think we're describing the current state more accurately that way. Gestumblindi (talk) 20:09, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

Making official[edit]

Simpleshow blocked again[edit]

@Jameslwoodward: You just blocked Simpleshow foundation. Your rationale says, "Commons consensus prohibits company or organizational usernames". See the above discussion at Commons_talk:Username_policy#Test_case_-_Simpleshow_Foundation.

Can you please reconcile your rationale with the text on this page which says, "Use of the names of 'organizations' is prohibited unless you provide evidence that you are or represent the respective organization". The Simpleshow people have already done OTRS verification and I am sure they would further verify identity if asked. What is the concern here? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:49, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

See here (german) and this. --Ralf Roleček 16:33, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
I was unaware of the cited discussion (I was away for most of it).
I remain firmly opposed to organizational usernames with multiple or serial users. I believe that a username must have only one human using it. That way we can develop relationships with individuals and come to know that Susan is careful and John is sloppy. That is key to our being able to handle 10,000 new images every day in some sort of orderly fashion. At the moment we are falling far behind, so changing policy in a way that would make it harder for active users and Admins to do their part is not wise.
The foundation can certainly have accounts such as "User:Simpleshow-Susan" and "User:Simpleshow-John", but Susan and John should not be allowed to use the same account.
We have enforced the one person per account policy for my whole tenure as an Admin and Commons has good relationships with many organizations that find it perfectly usable. Most prefer it, because when there is a problem, they can see instantly who created it. I see no reason to change now. --.     Jim . . . . (Jameslwoodward) (talk to me) 10:40, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
@Jameslwoodward: You seem to forget that there are well-established organizational accounts such as User:Swiss Federal Archives (some of the Swiss ones were set up in cooperation with Wikimedia CH; User:Swiss National Library is an even better example, as they're still very active uploading) which are mainly used to upload files from these institutions. As I wrote here in May 2015, there might be a clash of different Wikipedia cultures here. To quote myself from the earlier discussion: «In German-language Wikipedia, organization accounts are accepted, using the "verified accounts" system (see de:Wikipedia:Benutzerverifizierung). There is, for example, a (somewhat controversial, but accepted) user de:Benutzer:Verlagsgruppe Random House for the Random House publishing company. In English Wikipedia, AFAIK, such accounts are indeed "blocked on sight". This has, by the way, also caused the Swiss National Library's account being blocked in English Wikipedia, whilst its existence is fully accepted in German Wikipedia.» Another earlier discussion can be found here on this page. To quote myself again: «Content contributions from GLAM partnerships are easier to manage if they always come from the same account. If an User:Swiss Federal Archives - Susan leaves their job at the archives, I assume the account must be blocked, as the hypothetical user Susan no longer works in an official capacity for the archives. So, after a few years, there could be lots of "dead" User:Swiss Federal Archives - Xyz accounts. If there's a stable account for the entity, however, people can always communicate with someone who is actually tasked to manage this account, as for example User:Swiss National Library is currently by the two Wikipedians in Residence there.» - In the meantime, the Swiss National Library's account is managed by other people, as they mention on their user page. This is, in my opinion, no problem. As far as I'm aware, there is no strict "one person per account policy" on Commons, so nothing needs to "change" to continue allowing accounts such as these Swiss ones. Gestumblindi (talk) 11:35, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
(Squeezing in.) Another perfect example is User:Bundesarchiv-B6, the user for the German Federal Archive, who apparently was the first institutional donor of a great amount of pictures, cf. Commons:Bundesarchiv. This user is still active to work on error reports. A translation of the statement from the user page: “The user name ‘Bundesarchiv-B6’ stands for the staff members of department FA4 (‘Image Archive’; former department B6) in the Federal Archive.” This said I want to second Gestumblindi here. How do you want to hinder people from using their old account User:SomeCompany-JohnDoe, when they aren’t anymore working for SomeCompany? In other words how could SomeCompany prove that this account originally was from one of their employees, but is now not anymore? — Speravir_Talk – 22:23, 12 July 2016 (UTC)
P.S.: There are currently more than 6000 verified accounts in German-language Wikipedia, many of them institution accounts (some are also accounts for well-known/famous individuals where the system is used to confirm their identity). - Especially for file uploads from an institution, an account such as "Xyz Library - Susan" could seem strange. Maybe Susan works only for a short time for the institution, but the uploads will forever be associated with her? - I really think that the German/Swiss approach (one stable account for the institution) is the one we should continue to follow in such cases. Gestumblindi (talk) 12:09, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
@Jameslwoodward, Gestumblindi: I do not care how policy goes one way or the other, but for two years, we have had naming problems with Simpleshow and other organizations. These are essential media partnerships and we need to make a good impression without people wondering what the rules are. Gestumblindi, I feel you are downplaying the very serious opposition to allowing group accounts, and Jameslwoodward, I do not know what to do with this legacy of consensus in this policy with the controversial part of it (group accounts) has not been addressed. I would like an RfC to resolve the issue but in the past I have been unable to recruit enough others to comment on any of the posts I have made here. How would either or both of you feel about splitting the "group account" issue away from the username policy and putting that issue to its own RfC? Do you think that would be productive and lead to a resolution? Would you both accept a resolution quickly, or would this need multiple RfCs over time? Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:59, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
Sorry for german, my english is too bad. Simpleshow produziert Videos. Eins davon ist File:Basics of photography – how you learn to shoot better photos.webm, an diesem habe ich mitgearbeitet und es war sogar Finalist bei POTY 2015. Es gibt bei Filmen nur selten eine Person als Urheber. Im genannten Fall war Idee, Skizzen, Dialoge und "Drehbuch" von mir, es war ein Zeichner beteiligt, ein Sprecher, ein Handmodel (ja wirklich, das ist ein professionelles Model!) und jemand, der das alles produziert hat. Schon diese Zusammenstellung macht die Forderung nach natürlichen Personen absurd. --Ralf Roleček 20:38, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
The Google translation of Ralf’s text is not perfect, but I think you get the point. — Speravir_Talk – 22:43, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

Commons:Role accounts[edit]

@Ralf Roletschek, Jameslwoodward, Gestumblindi, Speravir:

I just started

Again, I do not care what the guideline is, so long as it is clear and consistent. Right now, I have tried to bring a little clarity by saying that the issue is not clear and consistent. If anyone has anything to add or wants to shape the best practice then add whatever you like or change it in any way.

Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:08, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

New Header as Requested at Top of Page[edit]

Ellin Beltz This discussion is happening in another form at en:Wikipedia_talk:Username_policy#RfC_-_should_we_allow_company_account_names_with_verification. Here, I feel like I raised an objection which did not get much response. I am happy with a close - a close either way is useful. But I still feel like setting policy on how organizations can interact with Wikimedia Commons is a big deal and I would have liked more consensus. I have nothing more to say except that I have some doubts that you closed a discussion that had reached its end. I might ask for further confirmation of this outcome from others, including English Wikipedia contributors. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:09, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
I missed this entire discussion and am also wary of the very low participation for something this important. The consensus here should not be considered strong enough to indicate what language-specific Wikis would choose, or what consensus would develop if there was an "all WMF centralized discussion" on this issue. Davidwr (talk) 22:23, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
We're not Wikipedia. On Commons this discussion started in February, was continued in June by @@Tiptoety: and closed by me in late August which is six months - plenty of time for people to have weighed in or out on the proposal. I'd suggest everyone continue to use the talk page for making suggestions/recommendations and discussion of proposed modifications this newly minted policy. After all the ideas have been discussed on the talk page, and some form of consensus achieved, please bring it back again for consideration to updating this policy. As you know, policies are only as good as the pixels they're printed with - if we achieve consensus, it can be changed. I will personally be quite happy to continue to update the policy on an evolutionary basis. But we cannot run forever on a guideline. There were too many problems and I think the current iteration of this policy has solved a large portion of the issues. That doesn't mean there are not some more; that's what the talk page is for!! Cheers! Ellin Beltz (talk) 00:47, 11 September 2015 (UTC)


I think it's not really appropriate to have a username that is also a license. --Vera (talk) 12:33, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Copyleft is not a specific license, but a characteristic of a number of different licenses, with about as limited specificity as "free", "libre" or "open source" and a number of other terms that I think we'd struggle to delineate if we were to try. Its definition is not controlled by any particular entity, and on its own, it does not carry any particular legal meaning. I see no reason to suddenly force someone with 22k edits to change their username after six years when none of the other projects (including the one where the user is an administrator) have found a problem. LX (talk, contribs) 16:19, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
Sorry --Vera (talk) 13:40, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

Conflict with Bot instructions[edit]

Commons:Bots says that the username of a bot account “should normally include the word "Bot".” But this policy says “Usernames should not contain the terms ... "bot"”. That means that most bot accounts on Commons are in breach of the username policy. I would suggest removing "bot" from the list of deprecated terms, and appending: “Usernames should contain the term "bot" only if they are bot accounts operated in accordance with Commons:Bots.“ --bjh21 (talk) 17:06, 5 October 2017 (UTC)

If the username of a bot includes bot, it is NOT misleading. Therefore the rule doesn't apply there. --Kersti (talk) 20:29, 24 April 2018 (UTC)

1Veertje vs. 1Veertje1[edit]

Hey, Somebody registered an account with a username very similar to my own: User:1Veertje1 on Sept 14. The account hasn't made any edits yet, but I think it's not appropriate. --Vera (talk) 14:53, 8 November 2018 (UTC)


Is a username having the word “Nation” (and referring to a specific, modern nation as a whole) appropriate? Incnis Mrsi (talk) 19:48, 13 January 2019 (UTC)

Edit request[edit]

{{Edit request}} Commons:Village pump/Proposals#Update the username policy

5 support (including myself), no opposition. (Fæ is asking for a largely unrelated policy change and didn't vote) Is it ok to replace the "Usernames requiring identification" section with the contents of User:Alexis Reggae/Usernamepol? - Alexis Jazz ping plz 19:52, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

✓ Done 4nn1l2 (talk) 05:30, 20 June 2019 (UTC)