Requests for comment/Global usurpation policy

The following request for comments is closed. Global renamer has been created and implemented. Tiptoety talk 16:56, 26 September 2014 (UTC)[reply]



Discussion is currently being had about the proposed Global rename policy, at Requests for comment/Global rename policy. I'd like to propose an additional refinement for the special case of usurpation. — Hex (❝?!❞) 09:47, 11 October 2012 (UTC)[reply]



Current state of affairs

  1. It is possible to have a unified account (SUL) that works across all Wikimedia wikis.
  2. SUL can be:
    1. claimed for any given user name by any given user if it has not already been claimed
    2. reallocated to a user, at steward discretion, from a different account with the same name, if the current associated account is
      1. dormant, or
      2. demonstrably not in need of SUL (limited activity on one local wiki, while the claimant is active on multiple wikis).

I'm not sure if the preceding is formalized in policy anywhere, but it has been known to happen - I'm an example.

Potential issue


The result of an SUL assignment following a change of user name can be problematic. Consider the case:

  • Wiki in language A has user Alice.
  • Alice also has accounts at wikis with languages B, D, E and T.
  • Wikis in languages C, F, H, N and Q have dormant user accounts called Beatrice.

(The situation could be complicated further: the latter accounts were either individually created, or autocreated as the result of the wiki in language Z having another user called Beatrice, with the SUL.)

  • Alice changes her user name to Beatrice and successfully applies to have SUL allocated (or reallocated) to her new name.
  • As explained at Global rename policy#Background, having her user name changed at B, D, E and T will be slow and difficult.

However, at the wikis C, F, H, N, and Q, Beatrice will encounter an even more difficult and time-consuming process: namely that of having local bureaucrats usurp local user names. I recently undertook what I would imagine to be a fairly representative sampling of variants of this process, by requesting usurpation of my user name in twelve different languages - in seven different alphabets. It took a very long time.

In most places, the process is this:

  1. You or a bureaucrat contact the holder of the dormant account, by email or placing a template on their talk page.
  2. Wait a week for a response.
  3. If no response is forthcoming, the account is usurped.

At the time of writing, it's been three weeks since I began the process, and it's still not finished. (There's even one wiki where the bureaucrats have failed to respond at all, and I've had to make a steward request here to get it done.)



I propose the following:

  • The holder of SUL for a user name may request stewards to perform a global usurpation of dormant accounts across different wikis.

This proposal will need some fine-tuning, namely in the definition of "dormant" (which is another variable in the usurpation process from wiki to wiki). I would suggest perhaps fewer than ten edits, and no activity for two years prior to the time the request is made.



There are some wikis that have local policy that would need to be overrided. I believe that being an active user of a name, with SUL, would be sufficient reason to do so.

For example:

  • On the Czech Wikipedia, usurpation is only possible "if the target account has not significantly contributed". This would include a long-dormant account whose single edit was once to create a stub article.
  • The Wikimedia Commons won't allow usurpation of a name unless that name has been usurped everywhere else first. This is problematic, as the SUL holder may have no intention of attempting to usurp their name from an active, uninvolved user on a distant wiki.


  • Last year, I went through the process mentioned above, usurping local accounts on about half a dozen of projects. In order to do this, I had to read each project's usurpation policy and post requests on many different pages. In the end, there were three projects on which I couldn't usurp the local account. The way to request usurpation varied a bit from process to process but was mostly the same. Still, it took a fair amount of time. I also noticed that the rules for when you may request usurpation differed from project to project. I think that the process could be simplified a lot by having a single usurpation policy which applies to all projects and a single request page where you can request usurpation on all projects on which you are eligible for that. It would simply save a lot of time and frustration. However, I feel that the nominator's proposal is too vague to support or oppose it for the moment. --Stefan2 (talk) 21:03, 14 October 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  • After 4 years of trying, I have still not got my SUL due to similar problems as outlined above. Only one local wiki (.de) is still refusing my claim (see: [1]) due to a single silly edit back in 2006(?). --Snorre (talk) 16:15, 16 October 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree. I have run into roadblocks, outdated policies, obfuscation and poor communication in my efforts to change my username at Commons so that I can include it in my SUL. There needs to be simpler way to accomplish this and more volunteers handling requests. I have relented to uploading photos on my English Wikipedia account, rather than on my Commons account because of this. In effect, the situation has caused me to stop contributing to Commons for the most part. MrX (talk) 15:29, 24 November 2012 (UTC)[reply]
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