Community Wishlist Survey 2022/Anti-harassment/UserBlind mode

UserBlind mode

  • Problem:
    • Many users have a hard time commenting on the content and not the contributor in certain situations, and often find themselves biased in certain ways towards or against certain users.
    • The occasional need for contributors to pass judgement on the conduct and actions of their peers can lead to interpersonal conflict. The possibility of such consequences often leads to difficulty in fairly judging others' actions, when associated with particular reputations.
  • Proposed solution: An opt-in mode to allow users to navigate and participate without seeing others' usernames. When the mode is enabled, the usernames of other editors are hidden from oneself behind an anonymizing token (e.g., every comment from the first editor named on that page is from "User 1", every comment from the second editor named on that page is from "User 2", etc.) for as long as the mode is on. (The underlying page content is not affected, nor is the appearance altered for anyone other than the person viewing through the mode.).
    • Example:
      • What everyone sees:
        BobTheEditor's actions are in violation of policy. --FredTheEditor (talk) 07:59, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
        No, they are not. --BobTheEditor 07:59, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
      • What you see while you have UserBlind mode enabled:
        [User #1]'s actions are in violation of policy. --[User #2] 07:59, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
        No, they are not. --[User #1] 07:59, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
  • Who would benefit:
  • More comments: Proof of concept, Village Pump post, 2021 wishlist proposal
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: Yair rand (talk) 07:36, 23 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This sounds good, but there are some practical problems: 1) When one of users mentions and misspell (even if deliberately) name of second user, script will not be able to recognize it. (FredtheEditor, Fredetc., BoobTheEditor). 2) In languages with declination would be the usernames in different form ((Czech)Viděl jsem BobaTheEditora (English)I've seen BobTheEditor...). So the practical impact will be limited JAn Dudík (talk) 08:06, 24 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It doesn't have to be perfect to be useful. In fact, merely replacing names in the signatures/links could be useful.
In the case of an RFC, there are comparatively few mentions of others' usernames, and editors in most communities put a high importance on evaluating the arguments impartially, without regard to the person's reputation. (In other instances, you definitely want to know who's posting, in which case you turn it off.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:43, 24 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • My reading of the examples is that this is something you'd want to function on free-form text everywhere (hopefully only in non-content namespaces). But usernames can be anything, for example look at how this statement would be modified if working on free text:
    ORIGINAL: Many users have a hard time commenting on the content and not the contributor in certain situations, and often find themselves biased in certain ways towards or against certain users.
    MODIFIED: Many [TOKEN1] have [TOKEN2] [TOKEN3] time commenting on the [TOKEN4] and [TOKEN5] the contributor in [TOKEN6] situations, and often find themselves biased in [TOKEN6] [TOKEN7] towards or against [TOKEN6] [TOKEN1].
  • xaosflux Talk 19:43, 24 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • @Xaosflux: The idea is to try to hide only things that are actual references to users, not accidental name overlaps. For implementation: The proof-of-concept I threw together works by recording the names of all users for whom the page has any links to their userpages, talk pages, contribs, logs, etc., and also remembering which strings refer to users for the rest of the session. In practice, that method seems pretty reliable, though it could probably be improved upon. Things could become difficult if users with usernames identical to very common words were to comment on the discussion page being read, but that kind of thing really doesn't happen often. --Yair rand (talk) 21:06, 24 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems that some people (Роман Рябенко, Phyrexian and Mannivu) have misunderstood this proposal. It's not about "anonymous editing"; it's about an optional mode that lets people who have enabled it hide others' usernames so that they can focus on those people's arguments rather than their identities (en:Wikipedia:No personal attacks, meatball:ForgiveAndForget). Kleinpecan (talk) 15:23, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Kleinpecan Ok so I understood this the way around. However, I think that this isn't something really useful. I mean: if the user disable the gadget they will still have some bias towards the users they're talking to; so this doesn't resolve the problem (having bias and not being able to deal with those biases) and I don't think it's useful. --Mannivu · 17:04, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Kleinpecan I understood it just as you explained. I still believe that it is "anonymous editing". People edit less responsibly if they evaluate only the arguments and do not take into account who is the author. There are even user pages which may declare what some people dislike or how they should be addressed to with respect. The user of the gadget can even attack an argument more than if they knew who the author is. There is also the risk of losing context in a discussion which may span multiple talk pages. Moreover, the users of such gadget can post something harsh intentionally and, when confronted with it, just say that they had the gadget enabled and it wasn't a personal attack. When people put their signature next to the post, they already want to take credit and responsibility for the statements they make. If they do not want that, they can resort to anonymous editing, which is already available. Even more, when nicknames are used, they already provide anonymity which without sock-puppeting allows consistency of discussions across talk pages. So, I see more harm than value in the proposed self-blinding gadget because it breaks the natural flow of discussion and gives potential for reducing accountability.--Роман Рябенко (talk) 08:10, 4 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

L736E: Because the proposed user-blind mode is optional, there would be no need to engage in stylometry if you want to find out who wrote what. And the proposal is not about "bias in contents"—see my comment above. Kleinpecan (talk) 15:30, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Kleinpecan: I understood the proposal, but I think it's not a good idea. We should not spend energies because some users can not control their own biases, based on what they think they know about other users. It is their own responsability to deal with that, not ours. --Phyrexian ɸ 15:46, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  •   Support I have bias, you have bias. Less bias means better discussions. Lectrician1 (talk) 06:00, 29 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Gamekiller0010 (talk) 08:33, 29 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   OpposeAca (talk) 12:16, 29 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Not quite a good idea. Thingofme (talk) 14:11, 29 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Helen(💬📖) 20:11, 29 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Anonymous editing reduces responsibility. Anonymous editing is already available. --Роман Рябенко (talk) 09:14, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I think you're misunderstanding. It is not anonymous editing. It is an optional feature a user can enable on their account to 'anonymize' usernames across the platform. You will still see their username unless you enable the feature. Detsom (talk) 21:58, 7 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support too much depends on user names and perceived reputation userblind mode seems like a good thing to try. Sasha7272 (talk) 11:12, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose easy cryptography, heavy exception to general principles --g (talk) 15:00, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Can you expand? Other people seem to be taking your lead in opposing without much explanation. This is an optional feature that allows users who desire so to obscure the usernames of others, not sure what general principle is being excepted. It's no different than taping over your screen so you don't see usernames. Detsom (talk) 22:02, 7 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Bias in contents is not username dependant, blinding the username is useless. BTW, there are many ways to "recognise" some known editors (phrasing style, typical arguments), adding opacity is not the solution.--L736Etell me 15:05, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose i don’t think that it’s a good idea. --LittleWhites (talk) 15:10, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Exactly because it's irrelevant who performs those actions, there is no need to conceal the name. --.mau. ✉ 17:40, 30 January 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support Khoshhat (talk) 19:47, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose per Роман Рябенко and Gianfranco (g). --Phyrexian ɸ 21:20, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose --Havang(nl) (talk) 15:05, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose per Роман Рябенко, Gianfranco (g) and L736E. --Mannivu · 09:20, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose I don't think this would really help. Günther Pabst (talk) 08:58, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Of course I support this. It's an optional gadget and that enables us to see how neutral we are in reality. Paradise Chronicle (talk) 04:41, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   OpposeSvārtava [tcur] 04:48, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose KingAntenor (talk) 06:00, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support per en:Wikipedia:No personal attacks and meatball:ForgiveAndForget. Kleinpecan (talk) 15:23, 3 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support --Ciao • Bestoernesto 02:33, 6 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Per L736E, not really good for CU & OSes, probably another tool better than UserBlind should be developed. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 03:45, 6 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose unnecessary overcomplication. SpinningSpark 12:36, 6 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support: although it often helps to know where each comment is coming from, there certainly are situations where it's better if you don't. Uanfala (talk) 15:21, 7 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Supporting only because this is an opt-in feature. Some of the above comments seem to indicate people might not understand the intent. It's not anonymizing posts publicly, it's only changing the UI of a user if they choose to enable the feature. Detsom (talk) 21:54, 7 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support As an opt-in feature I would support this, but not as a default. Euphoria42 (talk) 02:06, 9 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support There should be a minimum edit count to use this feature tho. SHB2000 (talk | contribs) 07:51, 10 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support: WMF plan to hide ip as anon+hash, why not see others as user+hash, for the same reasons as hiding ip. Sunpriat (talk) 22:09, 10 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • @Sunpriat and SHB2000: I think you may have misunderstood the proposal. UserBlind would not hide the user's identity, it would just allow one to read pages without seeing the other people's usernames at the same time. --Yair rand (talk) 23:34, 10 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      That's what I'm talking about - while reading the discussion, all the names shown are equalized by a not-so-individual visible hash number. Yes, it doesn't hide anything, it just makes the discussion read more neutrally. It's just that the appearance of this is similar to how the anons in that WMF-proposal will look, and hiding so deeply is not required here. Sunpriat (talk) 23:51, 10 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]