Wikipedia Accounts

Want to join the community on Wikipedia that’s spreading free knowledge worldwide?  Creating an account on Wikipedia is the best way to do it!

Why create a Wikipedia account?

There are a few benefits to creating an account on Wikipedia if you’re going to be using the website frequently, some of which we’ve already pointed out.  They include:

  • Having your own page to practice editing or creating articles, or tell the Wikipedia community a little about yourself
  • Being able to see and discuss feedback on your creations or edits from other members of the Wikipedia community, either on public forums or by private (i.e. no address) emails
  • Being able to create new articles, rename existing articles, or put new pictures on Wikipedia to be used in articles
  • Being able to edit articles that are somewhat protected because they (for example) contain the rules of Wikipedia, are about controversial topics, or get vandalized frequently

How to create a Wikipedia account

  1. Go to www.wikipedia.org in your web browser and click on the language version you want.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the screen, click on Create Account.
  3. You’ll use a window like the one in the screenshot below to set up your account.  Click in each of the boxes shown in the screenshot below and type in a user name (click Help Me Choose to get suggestions), a password, a copy of that password, your email address (optionally), and the text shown in the security check (click Refresh to get a new puzzle if you can’t read the current one). Then click Create Your Account and you’re all set!

How to delete a Wikipedia account

Short version: you can’t.

Long version: Wikipedia doesn’t allow you to outright delete your account because of how its content ownership system works.  When you create an article on Wikipedia, or add to or edit an existing article, you’re automatically giving anyone else who uses Wikipedia the right to copy or edit your work.  However, they have to give you credit for the original information, and allow anyone else on Wikipedia to copy or edit what they have copied or edited.

In other words, since nobody on Wikipedia “owns” any information that they create or edit, users have to give each other credit for where they get their original information.  This is to ensure that as much information on Wikipedia as possible can be traced back to reliable sources.  Thus, it becomes kind of hard to trust information that’s based on the work of someone whose account doesn’t exist anymore.  It might as well be gossip or a rumor.

Other than simply not using your Wikipedia account anymore, there is one way to (sort of) delete your account on Wikipedia: requesting a courtesy vanishing.

Courtesy Vanishing

You can ask for a courtesy vanishing to change your user name, delete your user pages, and get rid of at least some discussions about you as a user on Wikipedia.  This is to be used as a last resort, as if you never want to create or edit anything on Wikipedia ever again.

  1. Write {{db-user}} or {{retired}} at the top of your user pages and subpages, in order to let administrators know that you would like them to be deleted, or that you otherwise won’t be using them ever again.
  2. Consider going to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:EmailUser/Oversight (while you’re logged in to Wikipedia) and sending an email to Wikipedia’s oversight board asking them to delete your personal information.
  3. Finally, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:EmailUser/Bureaucrats (while you’re logged into Wikipedia) to ask Wikipedia’s administrators to change your user name, and be sure to tell them that the reason why is that you’re requesting a courtesy vanishing.
  4. You can also send a direct email to “wikien-bureaucrats@lists.wikimedia.org,” but this will display your request publicly, so you may not want to do so.

Note that requests for courtesy vanishings and deletion of personal information can be denied or reversed, and some of your discussion pages may not be deleted except under special circumstances.