Wiktionary:Why create an account?

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You don’t have to log in to read Wiktionary. You don’t even have to log in to edit articles on Wiktionary—practically anyone can edit almost any article, even without logging in. Nevertheless, creating an account is quick, free and non-intrusive, and it’s a good idea to do so, for many reasons. If you took advantage of Special:MergeAccount then you’re already signed up at Wiktionary.

Note: to create a user account for Wiktionary, go to the account-creation page.

User name

If you create an account, you can pick a username. All edits you will make while being logged in will be assigned to that name. That means you get full credit for your contributions in the page history (when you are not logged in, the edits are just assigned to your IP address). You can also view all your contributions by clicking the “My contributions” link, which is only visible when you are logged in.

You will have your own user page where you can write a bit about yourself. While Wiktionary is not a homepage provider, you can use this to display a few pictures, writing about your hobbies, etc. Many users use their user page to maintain a list of the articles they are most proud of, or to collect other valuable information from Wiktionary.

You will also have a permanent user talk page you can use to communicate with other users. You will be notified whenever someone writes a message on your talk page. If you choose to give an e-mail address, other users will be able to contact you by e-mail. This feature is anonymous—the user who emails you will not know your e-mail address. You don’t have to give your e-mail address if you don’t want to, and even if you do, not only is it private by default, but you actually can’t make it public on the system (unless you explicitly post it in an article).

Identity implications

When you are not logged in, all your edits are publicly associated with your IP address at the time of that edit, which provides information about your ISP and (usually) your location. If you log in, all your edits are publicly associated with your account name. They are also still internally associated with your IP address, but this is normally not publicly accessible. See Wiktionary’s privacy policy which has more information on this.

The privacy implications of this vary, depending on the nature of your Internet service provider, local laws and regulations, and the nature and quantity of your edits to Wiktionary. Be aware that Wiktionary technologies and policies are not set in stone.

In any case, people’s opinions differ on the desirability of perfect anonymity. Some people find anonymity reduces perceived accountability, which can lead to unproductive behaviour. Some people find contributing without having a fixed identity to be disempowering and unpleasant. Creating an account is one way to resolve such feelings.

New editing options

There are many features of the MediaWiki software (which powers Wiktionary) that are only available to registered users. For example, registered users can mark edits as “minor”. Minor edits can be filtered from the list of “Recent changes”. We do not give the privilege to mark edits as minor to anonymous users because we do not know who is behind a given IP address at any time, so we cannot build a basis of trust.

One very important feature which active contributors will likely use a lot are watchlists. You will get a new link “Watch this page” on every page you view. If you click that link, a page will be added to your watchlist. This list is basically a filtered view of the “Recent changes” page which only shows changes recently made to items in your watchlist. This way you can keep track of pages you work on without having to follow all changes.

Only registered users are allowed to rename pages, a feature that is very important to maintain structure and consistency on Wiktionary.

Many user preferences

Aside from these features, you can customize the way MediaWiki behaves in great detail. You can change the entire appearance of the website by picking, for example, the previous “Standard” skin over the new default “MonoBook” skin, you can choose how you want mathematical formulas to be displayed, how large the editing box should be, how many pages should be displayed in “Recent changes” and much more.

Sysop status

Administrators (or sysops) can delete and undelete pages, protect them from being edited, edit protected pages, and block users for violation of our policies. They generally carry out the will of the wiki community on pages such as Wiktionary:Requests for deletion. For obvious reasons, only signed in users can become administrators. Usually it is sufficient to have done quite a lot of semi-regular work on Wiktionary without clashing too much with others. If you are a signed-in user and want to be a sysop, see Wiktionary:Requests for adminship.

Voting, polls, elections

While in most Wiktionary polls, anyone can express their opinion, whether logged in or not, your opinion may be given more weight if it is attributed to a fixed identity with a record of sensible commentary and informed edits.

Rules on more formal Wiktionary votes and elections vary, but it is common to restrict formal voting to logged in users.