Right to vanish
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This page in a nutshell: Courtesy vanishing is one of the ways to indicate a permanent leave from Wikimedia project, similar to "close account" in some other websites. It may remove your (user)name from history of pages you edits, and much other personal information and discussions about user conduct.
  • To preserve attribution, it is not possible to delete an account.
  • Vanishing does not guarantee anonymity. Association may still be easily found in various ways.
  • Even if vanish is intended to be permanent, it may still be reversed.
Are you in the right place?
  • If you want to leave Wikimedia projects but do not care your past associations or intend to rejoin Wikipedia in the future, simply stop editing. You may optionally add {{Retired}} to your userpage.
  • If you want to edit using another username, you should use changing username and clean start instead.
  • If you want to hide personal information, consider oversight.
The Right to vanish was first proposed on MeatBall; see MeatBall:RightToVanish​. The principle it embodies is that contributors leaving a project permanently may have any personal contributions unrelated to the core mission of the project removed.[1] It is similar to the WikiMindWipe, but far less reaching. In the context of the Wikimedia Foundation, the term was first used on the English Wikipedia, where it became a customary courtesy before the formation of the Foundation. (See Wikipedia:Courtesy vanishing).
Like the English Wikipedia, most other Wikimedia projects tolerate the "vanishing" of users who wish to leave permanently. The term is a misnomer in that it is not a "right" or guarantee but rather a courtesy extended to valued contributors who wish to leave. Since contributions are made under the GFDL or CC-BY-SA, which provide an irrevocable license, there is no basis in law or contract for contributors to remove either content they have contributed or attribution for the same.
How a request to vanish may be fulfilled
Personal information and its removal
Main article: Privacy policy
Definition of personal information: Information you provide us or information we collect from you that could be used to personally identify you. To be clear, while we do not necessarily collect all of the following types of information, we consider at least the following to be “personal information” if it is otherwise nonpublic and can be used to identify you:
  • (a) your real name, address, phone number, email address, password, identification number on government-issued ID, IP address, user-agent information, credit card number;
  • (b) when associated with one of the items in subsection (a), any sensitive data such as date of birth, gender, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origins, marital or familial status, medical conditions or disabilities, political affiliation, and religion; and
  • (c) any of the items in subsections (a) or (b) when associated with your user account.
Two policies govern personal information. Individuals in their role as editors, contributors and readers of Wikimedia projects, should refer to the privacy policy. Information on individuals forming part of an encyclopedia article, are subject to the resolution on biographies of living people. "Right to vanish" relates specifically to the former.
Alternative measures
In general, involuntary disclosure of personal information is dealt with via oversight; there is no need to vanish unless the publicly known information is sufficiently notorious and accessible that oversight is no protection.
Also usernames can often be changed, subject to broad conditions and processes.
If you have used your real name, or a longstanding pen name, on Wikimedia projects then in principle everything you write can be traced to that name, and thus to you, as discussed above. However, if you decide to leave Wikimedia projects, there are a few steps that you can take to weaken that connection. They are:
  1. Change your username to some other name, one which is not directly associated with you (see Changing username).
  2. Change references to your former username to be referenced to your replacement username (you can do this yourself).
  3. Delete your existing user and user subpages (contact an administrator). User talk pages are only be deleted in some cases.
  4. While logged in under your old username, create new user and user talk pages for your old account, containing a brief note indicating that you have left Wikimedia projects and asking that people not refer to you by your name.
Be aware that any edits or posts you make, will appear in page history under the account you used at the time. Therefore take care with your login name usage, and be very careful not to edit your old pages or pages you habitually visit, when you are logged in with a name you do not want associated with that account.
How to request a vanishing
If you wish to take advantage of right to vanish, you can use one of the following methods to make your request:
Note
What is deemed to be related to the vision of various projects is left to local discretion, but typically involves a project's informational content rather than its maintenance/administrative side.
See also
Last edited on 10 March 2021, at 19:33
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