IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation/Login Required Experiment

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Background of the Login Required ExperimentEdit

  • Portuguese Wikipedia voted and turned off IP Editing in October 2020.
  • The Anti-Harassment Tools Team have been collecting metrics on the project since then (to June 2021) to understand how this change has impacted the overall state of the wiki.
  • A comprehensive report of all the metrics (with graphs) has been published.
  • The key areas we focused on include: impact on content, impact on editors, impact on administrative actions and impact on community.

Takeaways from the experimentEdit

We found no significant negative impact in the analysis conducted thus far. However we will continue to monitor for long-term effects for 1-2 years and even more if necessary. Key takeaways are captured below:

  • The number of user account registrations as well as active editors on Portuguese Wikipedia have gone up since the IP editing block was introduced. We do not know if it is a long-term trend.
  • The user retention metric has not seen a significant increase or decrease. We do not know the long-term impact on it.
  • The number of reverts, page protections and blocks have declined considerably, indicating a decrease in the amount of vandalism on the project.
  • The total number of edits made to the project show a decline when bot edits and reverts are included. Without bot edits and reverted edits, the number of edits was down in Q2 and Q3 compared to last year, and was up in Q4. Impacts on edits are unclear.
  • We also sought community feedback on Portuguese Wikipedia regarding their experience and feedback over the IP editing ban. We found that a majority of the Portugese Wikipedia editors remain in favor of the ban and report seeing less conflict and hostility on the platform.

The comprehensive report is here.

Our recommendationsEdit

Based on what we learned, the Wikimedia Foundation's Product department has made the following recommendations:

  • Allow Portuguese Wikipedia to continue disallowing IP editing, if the community wants to continue.
  • Validate these findings by running a similar experiment on two more Wikimedia projects (languages) where the volunteers are interested in trying this out. The experience of a single wiki should not be used as decisive evidence.

Continuing the experimentEdit

Our learnings for Portuguese Wikipedia have been mostly positive. This however should not be used to conclude that we will see similar results on different projects. If you look at the numbers for IP editing we see much varied engagement from unregistered users on different projects. Different projects also behave very differently with unregistered editors.

There is also a separate study – Research:Value of IP editing – published by a group of scholars and researchers who have closely studied Wikipedia which states that there can be lasting negative consequences of blocking edits from unregistered editors.

To understand how other projects would be impacted if IP editing is blocked, we would like to conduct a similar experiment on two more Wikimedia wikis. Here is the proposed plan:

PlanEdit

  • We are inviting communities that are interested in such an experiment on their wiki to express their interest on the talk page. There needs to be some demonstrable historical interest on the project to disallow unregistered editing.
  • For each wiki community that is interested, they need to identify a point person who we will be working with to launch and conduct the experiment.
  • Community consensus required before the experiment can begin.
  • For a time period of eight months, unregistered editing will not be allowed on the selected projects. Over this time, we will collect metrics and do a survey of community members to understand the impact.
  • Once this time period concludes, we will turn on IP editing on the project while we prepare the analysis from the data.
  • Once the data is published, the communities will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue to disallow unregistered editing on the project.

Criteria for selection of wikisEdit

The Anti-Harassment Tools Team will work with two wikis we believe would be best suited to run this experiment based on factors like

  • Size of project
  • Amount of unregistered editing
  • Number of admins
  • Amount of vandalism
  • How localized or globalized the language is

TimelineEdit

Timelines have been updated.

Date Activity
August 24 - October 31 Communities express interest in running the experiment
To be decided after community interest is established. Anti-Harassment Tools team decides which wikis could proceed with the experiment
To be decided after communities decide how long a local RFC will take. Communities conduct local RfC and agree to run the experiment
To be decided when RFC ends Run the experiment

We are looking forward to working with the communities. Anyone can help share this call for participation.

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Best regards,
Anti-Harassment Tools Team

Please use the talk page for discussions on the matter. For any issues concerning this release, please don't hesitate to contact Niharika Kohli, Product Manager – niharika wikimedia.org and cc Sandister Tei, Community Relations Specialist – stei wikimedia.org or leave a message on the talk page.

For more information or documentation on IP editing, masking and an overview of what has been done so far including community discussions, please see the links below.