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Wikipedia talk:Identity verification

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This essay is a messEdit

This essay is a mess but I have to start somewhere. I looked at other essays and do not see anything quite like this.

I tried to collect what exists and put it here for anyone to consider. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:26, 9 February 2019 (UTC)\

Seriously, Bluerasberry? This is a personal essay, not a "Wikipedia" essay. How about you create this in your personal userspace before sticking it with a tag that implies this page has some kind of authority? It disturbs me no end that longtime participants of this project push newbies to build their work outside of the "main" space and then do things like this. Build it, get consensus for it, then bring it into Wikipedia space. If you need help moving it to your userspace let me know.Risker (talk) 19:54, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
@Risker: You said that my actions disturbed you. When interaction becomes negative and emotional my default response is to offer communication by voice or video. I do not immediately understand what you want but of course I would talk it through in the way you choose. I just sent you an email with my phone number and appointment calendar. If you want to voice talk then we can voice talk; otherwise we can continue here but I anticipate more misunderstanding and a longer exchange in wiki text. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:07, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
You're trying to start a discussion, from what I can see on this page. An essay is not the way to do this. A discussion at one of the village pumps, perhaps. A discussion at an existing policy or process page that directly relates to this, maybe. It's probably not going to be appreciated at all at Commons that there might be a discussion on enwiki about their existing policy; and the logical place to talk about OTRS policy is on the OTRS wiki, or with OTRS admins and teams. It's a re-creation of an already deleted essay (i.e., one that was formally rejected by the community at an MFD). You've indicated in your first post in this section that this page is "a mess", which leads me to think you realize yourself it is not really ready for discussion with the community. So...why not work on it in your userspace until it's no longer a mess? If anything, it looks like your objective is to develop kind of process that will be accepted by a range of projects, and this isn't the place to have that discussion; Meta, maybe. Risker (talk) 20:27, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Okay, I emailed you and we had a little exchange. I interpret the exchange as meaning you are not so upset about this to want off-wiki communication to resolve this more quickly. I am going to respond to your points below in other sections because any of them could be long conversations. Here are the issues I see you raising, repeated in my own words:
  1. Venue of this discussion: English Wikipedia, Commons, Meta-Wiki, or elsewhere
  2. Sorting of this in Wikipedia: space versus userspace, and sorting it as an essay
  3. Required clarify and development before publishing something like this
  4. Merging this into the existing documentation which already covers the issue
Some other social context for anyone joining this conversation: Risker and I have known each other for years and are collegiate, and we are both aware that the other gets involved in wiki policy. I expected that someone like Risker would speak out because the introduction of this kind of documentation is disruptive, and routine Wiki patrol seeks to challenge anything disruptive with a case for its need. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I just discovered the template {{Draft proposal}} and re-tagged this page as that rather than {{essay}}. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:22, 5 April 2019 (UTC)

Wikimedia account verification for public figuresEdit

Since 2007 account names which match the names of public figures have been getting this template. I do not know how to count how many times this has been used, but I will guess at least 10,000 times. Here is the process which that template recommends:

  1. User writes email to WP:OTRS
  2. In private email conversation, OTRS agents use an identity verification process to confirm that the public figure is actually the operator of the Wikimedia account
  3. Following that private email conversation, the OTRS agent either authenticates the account with a badge or leaves it blocked if authentication fails

The problem with this is that OTRS agents have neither a consistent identity verification process nor a badge system to report an authentication.

In practice, some OTRS agents verify identity by matching the email address of the sender to an official website, or by accepting identity documents like a national identification or passport, or by requesting a signal through another confirmed account like posting a password in a twitter feed. There is wide variation in the quality of these processes and in general the entire system is shaky. Despite its problems, I do not think it is worse or more prone to harm or problems than what is common practice elsewhere, and for other reasons, I think that despite the problems this is a safer system for all involved. Still - we are approaching the time to modernize this. Modernization could start with documenting what happens now, what the user need is, and what our technical options are for a different way. If we had that information then we could convene a discussion. Without that information it is challenging to have a discussion. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:41, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

About this documentEdit

I started this page, Wikipedia:Identity verification, to publish and establish as common knowledge that no practical documentation on identity verification exists. I wanted to list what documentation exists on certain fringe cases, and to create a hub for the eventual creation of documentation, but I have no conscious agenda to guide the documentation to any particular end except development.

I do wiki policy writing. Some relevant sectors in which I am active and where identity verification is an issue are in user misconduct, where I promote research and write policy; WP:OTRS, where I am an agent and participate in community governance; medical media, where I advise about when and how patient photos can appear as Wikipedia's medical illustrations; and institutional partnerships, where I train organizations to appoint Wikimedians in Residence / Wikimedia staff and have these people do identification on behalf of their organization for media uploads.

I am saying all this to share that clarity in the documentation would be useful for me on several fronts. Getting clear policy and guidance is not as important to me as being able to recognize what guidance exists. In lots of cases, the answer is none, and it is helpful for me to be able to state that as a way of orienting conversations and technical writing for process.

The really strange part about all of this is that identity verification is a routine practice in English Wikipedia, meaning that in a range of circumstances some Wikimedia administrative process requests that someone match their off-wiki identity to their wiki user account. This happens every day and has happened thousands of times and we have plans to continue this. However, there is no documentation about this, including discussion of whether we should do this, and if so how, and what to do with personal identifying information that is sensitive. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Venue: English Wikipedia, Commons, Meta-Wiki?Edit

This documentation affects practices on various Wikimedia projects including English Wikipedia. Typically cross-wiki discussion happens at Meta-Wiki. Probably the biggest single stakeholder for this policy is Commons, so Commons could be a venue for this.

The reason why I posted this at English Wikipedia is because the English Wikipedia community is a major stakeholder in this. I made the claim on this talk page in the {{Uw-ublock-famous}} that I think at least 10,000 users have been recipients of that template since 2007. With that size of concerned users, I think I am justified in starting a discussion here. Besides those users, I think that English Wikipedia processes the most user misconduct cases and identity verification is a big part of that, even though those cases are private and challenging to count. I imagine there is another 10,000 of those cases in the past 10 years.

If policy were formed on Commons or Meta-Wiki then that would not settle the matter here, as policy for English Wikipedia has to be discussed here. I am advancing that conversation here with this documentation. Will anyone counter argue that this discussion should not happen in English Wikipedia? Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Sorting as an essay rather than in userspaceEdit

I started this page in Wikipedia: space with an {{essay}} tag on it. I am indifferent about what tag label goes on top just so long as this documentation and talk page are discoverable if someone looks for them. In user space they would not be discoverable.

"Essay" is not the right fit, but it is the best label I thought to use. I actually originally labeled this with {{Information page}} by accident - that might have alarmed Risker - but I also tagged it as an essay. I am not trying to force any particular policy on anyone, but rather set a place to discuss this issue and be a hub for whatever related policies exist. Again, userspace is not right to build out documentation collaboratively. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Need for clarityEdit

Currently this documentation says that no practical documentation exists. If I am mistaken then someone can show the existing documentation.

I made an attempt to link to existing similar documentation and discussion. Other people can add and sort more.

I expect that it will take years to develop this documentation to a usable form because this issue is complicated and because there must be hundreds of people willing to argue about this. Reasons why there is no practical documentation on this issue include the following:

  • Touching identity is a legal issue. WMF lawyers govern parts of this but not all of it, and it is challenging to separate the difference.
  • We have very little technical able to manage identity verification, yet we are in the weird position of doing it often and continually on a scale of tens of thousands
  • Identity verification is often entangled with investigations of user misconduct, which many people find unpleasant to examine

I assert that there is no clarity to be found right now on this issue. I expect that if anyone convened a conference to address this then the documentation would advance but still have big unresolved issues to work on for years. I am comfortable posting all this now, even without clear instructions, to identify what we know and advance the discussion. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Merging this into the existing discussionEdit

I linked a lot of existing discussions in the first draft of this documentation. I am unable to find existing documentation on the general process and circumstances of "identity verification". If someone sees that kind of hub already in existence then a merge might be necessary. I do not think this concept already exists in English Wikipedia, especially for documenting the many circumstances in which the Wikimedia community is already practicing identity verification. Can someone demonstrate otherwise? Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:45, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

Discussion about this information elsewhereEdit


Seek documentation from template management talk pageEdit

I think that {{Uw-ublock-famous}} is the origin of most Wikipedia community requests for wiki account holders to perform identity verification to the Wikipedia:Volunteer Response Team. That template does not have its own talk page, and just redirects to Wikipedia talk:Template messages/User talk namespace.

The only prior discussion that I find for this template is

I recognize "Wikipedia talk:Template messages/User talk namespace" as the current jurisdiction for discussing this template because currently, this is the template's talk page. However, I think the community there is more interested in user namespace template mechanics and not social issues like identity verification. For that reason, I would like to move identity verification policy discussion to here.

I am cross-posting at that forum to ask if anyone knows of prior discussion on this issue and to get opinions about moving all discussion on identity verification to here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:41, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

I agree with your analysis, conclusions, and proposal. I can also confirm that there are confused recipients of that template/block, and that the current docs on this project page are very confusing. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 23:02, 2 August 2019 (UTC)
Return to the project page "Identity verification".