Personal acquaintances (German: Persönliche Bekanntschaften) is a community project that was started in 2008 in the German-language Wikipedia, to enable the confirmation of the community of active Wikipedians in "real life" (from meetups, associations, etc). Users of any Wikimedia project (including the English-language Wikipedia) can sign up to this project with their user name, and other users can confirm that they have met them face-to-face. Every user can sign up and receive confirmation to their main account which is known to other users. This system uses the primary account for a user (i.e. not alternative accounts). The project aims to improve the working environment and reduce, or eliminate, doubts about the identity of other users.
This system of mutual confirmations is currently only working in de.wikipedia, but is accessible to all other users via the single user login system. Its main pages have been translated into many languages, including English. It is easy to use, without the need to have an external review of the identity, and takes data protection and anonymity on the Internet into account. For disadvantages, see the FAQ. A more demanding alternative to this system is the bail procedure.
Statistics: Number of confirmations and participants from February 8, 2008 to July 4, 2016
Users can create multiple accounts. Many users do, for different reasons and within policy. Secondary accounts are sometimes used with other intentions, which have nothing to do with encyclopedic work.
On this page, a user account is valid if it is a primary account under the following condition: at least three confirmed people confirm that they have had a face-to-face meeting with a real person with that specific username. They show their confirmations on the page listed below. Only confirmed primary accounts may confirm other users. Unconfirmed users are marked in the list shown below with unbestätigt ("unconfirmed"). Participation is optional. Once a confirmation is made, it's done definitively.
Anonymity and data protection
Unlike identification, this method has the advantage of not encroaching on anonymity on the Internet. All participants can make their own decision whether to show or hide their names or personal data, as confirmations are only presented on this page using their Wikipedia user name. There is no change from their existing wiki status, regardless of the dates, places, times, or the number of meetings that were held. Data protection of data and the principles of Wikipedia are fully respected and complied with.
If the system is considered too fragile, or users want more security, they may optionally be confirmed by an independent proof of the user's identity. The proof can be referenced for the main account.
How it affects users
- Well-known users can give and receive multiple confirmations.
- Lesser known users may be accepted by the community as genuine members if they attend a meeting are confirmed. Thus, each member of the community can recognize lesser-known guests as a person who participates in the active community.
- Secondary accounts can't be confirmed here, because nobody knows them personally.
How does it work?
No prerequisites for participation
It is not a vote; the confirmations are not votes; there are no prerequisites for participation. Anyone can participate. The order of the users has no informational value.
Five steps to participate:
- Before you start, it's recommended to set your preferences in de.wp to your native language if you don't understand German. Be sure that you're logged in with the account that you consider as your main (primary) account, and with which you would like to be confirmed.
- Go to de.wikipedia and there to your Einstellungen ("Preferences") to the Helferlein ("Extensions") tab, then to the section Veränderung der Oberfläche ("Modify Interface"), select the box labelled Erweiterte Benutzeroberfläche für Wikipedia:Persönliche Bekanntschaften aktivieren, um Bestätigungen hier vornehmen zu können ("Click here to activate advanced user interface for Wikipedia:Personal acquaintances").
- Next, go to neue Anfragen ("new requests") and select "I want to take part in this". Your account will be unbestätigt ("unconfirmed"), and so you will not be able to confirm other users yet. Therefore, it only makes sense to sign up here if you've already met at least three Wikipedians in person, or expect to meet them in the coming days - for example, at a Meetup.
- Once you've received three confirmations, you're considered a confirmed person, and will get a notice from a bot on your de.wiki user talk page.
- Users that have been confirmed can, and should, confirm other users that they've met personally in real life. There's no value or assessment involved. The relationship of users to each other (sympathy, antipathy, ménage à trois, or friendship) doesn't matter.
Not permitted in this project:
- Giving any comments on how a user acts (details about the type and manner of meeting, your personal relationship to them, praise or criticism, real life information, etc.) Such comments may be removed at a user's request, which can be made on the new requests talk page.
- Confirmation of users you don't know from real life, even if you're strongly convinced of their identity.
- Confirmations of multiple accounts used by an individual, for example, to confirm secondary accounts besides the main account. This amounts to an attempt to defraud the system, and that, in the long run, will not go unnoticed. By visible cross-relationships, common fraudulent requests will be closed.
- Manually editing the new entries page is strictly prohibited, especially adding different user names.
- To receive bot messages about every confirmation you receive, put your de:user:name link on this list.
- It's recommended that all participants add the page Wikipedia:Persönliche Bekanntschaften/Neu dazugekommen to their watchlist to have an actual overview of new participants (the period is automatically limited to the last two months).
- If a participant withdraws their membership, their main account will be anonymised in the database. Confirmations of retired users are retained for consistency, and the entries in the logs remain entirely unchanged. This anonymity is composed of a name change in Ex-Teilnehmer ("Ex-participants") and can be undone on request.
- In case of fraud of any type, the relevant account and all confirmations received from it will be highlighted as gelöscht ("deleted") from the database.
List of participants
Currently more than 1,600 users are registered, and efforts are underway to address a more global audience:
Participants mostly active on the English Wikipedia
This list should contain most users who are continuously active on the English-language Wikipedia and have signed up in the system of Personal acquaintances (German: Persönliche Bekanntschaften). Signing up and adding yourself here only makes sense if you have met at least three other Wikimedians in real life. Put this page on your watchlist if you want to be informed about new participants. See also the full list of particpants.
Does the participation change some of my anonymity?
- No. Only ordinary confirmations with user accounts made no independent verification of any user-data. Caution should be exercised when specifying comments - it may be possible to get 'motion profiles' from it. This also applies to the "Stammtisch"-registration lists in cities portals.
Why were some users confirmed at the beginning?
- Because they are known to be identical to their main account by the Foundation or a Wikimedia-club, they were allowed to start this project.
Is there a user-independent verification here?
- This project currently allows no possibility of user-independent verification. As the name "Personal acquaintances" says: RL (Real Life)-contacts are essential here. The higher the number of confirmations, the stronger is the identity. Eventually, it will be impossible for anyone to use a fake account.
Is this procedure safe from sub-accounts?
- This is to be found. If you discover a secondary account, that logs on with three confirmations as the main account of a user listed here before, you should write down this suspicion on the talk page. Eligible accounts would be relatively easy to extract information from the database in case of emergency.
What if I never go to meetings?
- Then you've arrived at this page mistakenly.
- Go to a meeting where you can get confirmed. You will meet interesting people. You can't fail to get confirmation then.
- Invite Wikipedians to take a trip to the countryside or to drink coffee. It doesn't matter how you get to know someone (in the portals e. g. Workshops are always offered where interested parties may join in).
I have discovered something, that makes a manual correction in the database necessary. What now?
Examples: I have been confirmed by someone I've never met; I clicked on the wrong username while committing; User:XY has proved to be a sock puppet or created as a user:Z a new account.
Such corrections can be requested here and handled by the project operators (see below). If you have received a dubious confirmation, you should first consult the concerned user on his talk page.
- Confirmations are for example on a misunderstanding (confusion) deleted at the request of the parties or, in general, if "abuse"—whether with good or bad intentions (e. g. confirmation of sub-accounts)—is present.
- If a user creates a new account in Wikipedia (instead of rename here) and thus receives strictly a secondary account in Personal acquaintances, this is also a reason to correct / consolidate this.
- Comments confirmations can also be corrected at the request of the person concerned, if they violate example against Wikipedia guidelines.
- If a confirmation corresponds to the facts ("xy met"), there is no reason to delete them. A confirmation does not expire and is independent of the subsequent relationship between the two users to each other.
- It shows who belongs to the active real-life community and motivates more to join in.
- It creates assurance in discussions that the person you are talking to, belongs to the main account, which is well known by the community and not a secondary account of an unknown user.
- It allows users, who know only a few other users, to be recognized as community members and accepted.
- It facilitates connection to existing circles of acquaintances in particular regions.
What does it looks like, if someone is trying to abuse the page?
- This procedure is strictly speaking not unique and can be used with high cost and high risk, a person for a finite period of time could acquire more than a verified account. There are two scenarios. The first scenario is the technically clearer, but also more complex procedures of the anonymous identification by de.wikipedia user Frank Schulenburg. The second scenario can be ruled out with any procedure.
- "Real life sock" — the community page could theoretically be used by a person, who presents himself to various regulars or meetings with different user names and deceives other Wikipedians about their dual identity. So appropriate false confirmations are preserved, "as long as the known circles guaranteeing for them separated personally" and the double identity goes unnoticed.
- "Community fraud" — a second scenario includes a cabal of users who confirm each other's accounts. This case could be a larger, but self-contained group of false main accounts which also discovered after some time. Also the main accounts of the involved users are known. This possibility of abuse consists of any conceivable process, low but by Frank Schulenburg by at least five citizens held as this community page (three guarantors). Here it is assumed that it is too difficult for an abuser to find two other abusers, especially as a second expansion of the group on more secondary accounts again would require a secondary.
- All opportunities for fraud are more expensive than the cultivation of stock secondary accounts, lead to no effectively exploitable result, and are associated with a possible loss of face. Due to the cross relationships displayed on the community page, bogus main accounts are discovered sooner or later.
Won't this promote the formation of cliques?
- Wikipedia is per se a Social network, in which both friend and foe networks are created and nurtured. Whether a person is personally known to others or not, is a fact independent of anyone's personal feelings for this person. Personal feelings should not affect the operation of this site. To integrate people into the system, who avoid personal contact with other Wikipedians, it would be feasible in the future to enable acquaintances with digital certificates.
Is there a backup of the database and the scripts? What if the leaders are suddenly gone?
- The database, the associated web interface and the bot scripts reside on the WMF Labs under a joint account. Thus, there is no risk that something will be lost. Should one of the currently responsible persons withdraw, the other persons can take over, or even more people can continue working on it without any trouble.
- Daily, automatic database-dumps are here.
- The source code of the database web interface and the bot is publicly available here. The source code of the gadget is available here and here.
Technical contacts are Ireas, Wiegels and Euku. For questions and suggestions please use the discussion page.
The user box contains a link to the confirmations tool. If you want to add the box, add the following to your user page: