Wikisource:Requests for comment/IP Masking Engagement
Hello Wikisource community,
You are invited to participate in a conversation about IP Masking tools.
According to Wikipedia: an “Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.” Its two main functions are to identify the host company/institution operating the IP and to determine the location of the device being used. On any of the Wikimedia sites, an editor is identified by their usernames which they acquired after registering. They can also be identified by their IP address, should they choose not to register, or edit without logging in.
Editing a Wikimedia wiki without creating or logging into a user account, exposes an editor’s IP. This is because Wikipedia’s software MediaWiki stores and publishes the IP addresses publicly on some of its pages. This could endanger users and even invite government persecution.
There is more information about what information IP addresses can reveal and how they can be used on this page.
However, IP addresses are also the identifiers upon which patrollers, admins, and functionaries who protect the wikis from vandalism and harassment act to identify and block vandals, sockpuppets, editors with conflicts of interest, and other bad actors.
In line with global trends about user data collection and use, the Wikimedia Foundation is learning how best to protect the privacy of the editors using IPs. It is also investigating how the protection of user privacy would also impact mitigation of abuse on the wikis.
This is where the IP Masking project comes in, with a range of tools that will help enhance privacy and also help minimize abuse. We want to create new tools that prevent exposure of IP addresses to users who do not need to see them and thereby restrict the number of people who can see other users' IP addresses.
The Anti-Harassment Tools team at Wikimedia Foundation is leading the effort on building tools to ensure our wikis continue to function as well as they are now, in the absence of IP addresses. There are two projects that are underway.
A lot of on-wiki anti-vandalism workflows heavily rely on information revealed by IP addresses. This information can inform the way an editor may interact with an unregistered user. At the moment retrieving and understanding this information is not an easy task. Our purpose for this project is to make it easier for our admins, anti-vandal fighters and power users to be able to access information about IP addresses more quickly and easily. You can learn more about this project on the project page and give us your valuable feedback on the feedback page.
This project is in its early stages. As you know by now, IP addresses play a key role in the sockpuppet investigation and checkuser workflows on our wikis. Patrollers flag users when they see something suspicious. They then determine and report sockpuppet behavior by finding patterns in how certain users behave. Checkusers step in and verify sockpuppets by manually comparing IP addresses and user agents using the checkuser tool to confirm if a given set of users are socks of each other. This process is time-consuming and requires checkusers to manually verify sock accounts by looking at private information. Most wikis do not have local checkusers and hence this process becomes even more difficult. To mitigate this, we are proposing to build a tool that will allow us to automatically detect when two users are exhibiting similarities in behavior (for example editing similar pages or editing during similar hours). This information will be available to users with certain privileges and will allow them to make judgment calls on sockpuppet behaviors more quickly and efficiently.
So far, community consultations about the IP Masking project have occurred on Meta and some other language wikis. The Anti Harassment Tools team is currently doing a consultation with more wikis to get your feedback on the
We would like to understand how this project will impact you. What other tools will you need to be able to effectively govern the projects in absence of IPs?