IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation
What will temporary accounts for unregistered editors be and why is the Foundation working on this project?
Temporary accounts for unregistered editors will be a new type of user accounts. IP addresses of unregistered editors will no longer be publicly visible. Only those who fight spam, vandalism, harassment and disinformation will have access to IP addresses.
Currently, anyone can edit Wikimedia wikis without a Wikimedia account or without logging in. MediaWiki, the software behind Wikimedia projects, will record and publish your IP address in its public log if you edit without logging in. Anyone seeking your IP address will find it.
Wikimedia projects have a good reason for storing and publishing IP addresses: they play a critical role in keeping vandalism and harassment off our wikis.
However, your IP address can tell where you are editing from and can be used to identify you or your device. This is of particular concern if you are editing from a territory where our wikis are deemed controversial. Publishing your IP address may allow others to locate you.
With changes to privacy laws and standards (e.g., the General Data Protection Regulation and the global conversation about privacy that it started), the Wikimedia Foundation Legal team has decided to protect user privacy by hiding IPs from the general public. However, we will continue to give access to users who need to see them in order to protect the wikis.
We're aware that this change will impact current anti-abuse workflows. We are committed to developing tools or maintaining access to tools that can identify and block vandals, sock puppets, editors with conflicts of interest and other bad actors after IPs are masked.
Statement from the Wikimedia Foundation Legal department
Hello! Please review the new Access to temporary account IP addresses page for details about how users can gain access to IP addresses. The section on using IP addresses will be updated with details about how and where to access the IP addresses, as well as what is logged when IP addresses are accessed. Please also review a new related page with frequently asked questions. You will notice that both pages use the term "temporary user accounts," which comes from the MVP—more information about the MVP will be shared directly on this page soon. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out on the talk page.
September 2023: New features, new names, and Wikimania
- Temporary account names format. The format of the temporary account names will be
YYYYrefers to the year when the temporary account was created. The n-sequence represents the unique identifier of the temporary username. For example, a temporary account created in 2023 may look like:
~2023-27459-041. The year prefix helps identify how old a temporary account may be. This provides information for patrollers or anyone looking to communicate with the editor. We took the decision after discussions on the wiki talk page and on Phabricator (T337103). Many thanks to everyone who took part in those conversations!
- Team changes and projected timeline for first deployments. The Anti-Harassment Tools team has been merged with the Trust and Safety Tools team. The newly formed team is called Trust and Safety Product. It will have an expanded scope. This change to the structure may have an effect on the timeline of this project. We will have more updates to share as we develop a roadmap for the new team. Our current projected timeline for this project is as follows:
- Deployment to testwiki – January 2024
- Deployment to first pilot wikis – beginning March 2024
- Frequently asked qustions page. We have created the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. We will expand and update it in the coming weeks and months.
- Wikimania update and the project name change. At Wikimania in Singapore, we presented an update on the project. You can access the slide deck for the presentation. There's also a recording of the full presentation available on YouTube. At Wikimania, we were using the former project name, IP Masking. After that, we decided to change it into Temporary accounts for unregistered editors, or simply Temporary accounts. It presents our changes in a plain language, without a technical metaphor.
- Global blocking. We will work on global blocking for registered and temporary users. Currently, global blocking only works for IP addresses and ranges. There has been a long-standing request to expand this feature to allow blocking users, too. We will be defining this feature and developing it over the next couple of months. You may follow the Phabricator task (T17294) for updates.
- Global User Contributions. We will bring the Global User Contributions feature to MediaWiki. This feature currently exists through the GUC tool. Our change will make it easier for users to view contributions from accounts across projects. It will be possible via a special page. This will be particularly useful when temporary accounts go into effect. For technical details, see T337089.