Wikipedia:Sockpuppetry

toy puppets made from socks with buttons for eyes
The origin of the term sockpuppet is a type of toy puppet

On Wikipedia, sockpuppetry, or socking, refers to the misuse of multiple Wikipedia accounts. To maintain accountability and increase community trust, editors are generally expected to use only one account. While there are some valid reasons for maintaining multiple accounts, it is improper to use multiple accounts to deceive or mislead other editors, disrupt discussions, distort consensus, avoid sanctions, evade blocks, or otherwise violate community standards and policies.

Sockpuppetry takes various forms:

  • Logging out to make problematic edits as an IP address
  • Creating new accounts to avoid detection or sanctions
  • Using another person's account (piggybacking)
  • Reviving old unused accounts (sometimes referred to as sleepers) and presenting them as different users
  • Persuading friends or colleagues to create accounts for the purpose of supporting one side of a dispute (usually called meatpuppetry)

Misuse of multiple accounts is a serious breach of community trust. It may lead to:

  • a block of all related accounts
  • a ban of the user (the sockmaster or sockpuppeteer) behind the accounts (each of which is a sockpuppet or sock)
  • on-project exposure of all accounts and IP addresses used across Wikipedia and its sister projects
  • the (potential) public exposure of any "real-world" activities or personal information deemed relevant to preventing future sockpuppetry or certain other abuses.[1]

An editor using multiple accounts for valid reasons should, on each account's user page, list all the other accounts with an explanation of their purpose (see below). Optionally, the user and user talk pages of some of the accounts can be redirected to those of another. Editors who use unlinked alternative accounts, or who edit as an IP address editor separate from their account, should carefully avoid any crossover on articles or topics because even innocuous activities such as copy editing, wikifying, or linking might be considered sockpuppetry in some cases and innocuous intentions will not usually serve as an excuse.

While there are legitimate use of alternative accounts, undisclosed alternative accounts might be connected publicly through a variety of means.

  1. ^ Wikimedia Foundation privacy policy:
    "We hope that this never comes up, but we may disclose your personal information if we believe that it's reasonably necessary […] to protect our organization, employees, contractors, users, or the public. We may also disclose your personal information if we reasonably believe it necessary to detect, prevent, or otherwise assess and address potential spam, malware, fraud, abuse, unlawful activity, and security or technical concerns."
    Information under this policy is not gratuitously released, but may be made public at times in the context of detecting, confirming, preventing, and resolving issues related to actual or possible abuse.

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