Wikisource:News/2006-10-20/Technical changes affecting registration
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Three technical changes affecting user registration were implemented on all Wikimedia wikis, as reported by Wikizine.
Antispoofing enabled 
Implemented 17 October 2006, antispoofing compares new names to existing accounts at registration to prevent impersonation. One example logged during the trial run is 'Sp1arka', too similar to Splarka. Blocked registrants are told that "The name "new_username" is not allowed to prevent confusing or spoofed usernames: old_username. Please choose another name."
'@' prohibited 
Since 26 September 2006, new usernames containing the '@' character cannot be registered. The change affects all recent versions of MediaWiki, including those used by third parties. Although existing usernames containing the character have not been blocked, they are encouraged to request a username change to prevent a future block. Zhaladshar is the local bureaucrat capable of fulfilling rename requests.
This character was strongly discouraged in usernames on the English Wikipedia, and shortly before the change was being actively blocked. This led to feature request 6859, titled "Prevent usernames from using "@", which will stop people from using email addresses for usernames, a very common reason for blocking".
Captchas partially disabled 
After repeated problems with loading image captchas on registration, these have been temporarily replaced by simple mathematical questions (such as 75 + 8) on smaller projects. On some larger projects, such as the English Wikipedia, the captchas have been disabled altogether. The image captchas are planned to be reinstated when the image loading problems have been resolved.
A captcha (meaning 'Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart') is difficult for automated script to solve, but relatively easy for a human. This prevents automated account creation, a favourite strategy for spambots.
See also 
- "Username antispoof extension enabled", gmane.science.linguistics.wikipedia.technical, 17 October 2006
- "numbers 45 & 46", Wikizine, 18 October 2006
- bug 6859: Prevent usernames from using "@", which will stop people from using email addresses for usernames, a very common reason for blocking