TLDR summary: An account would be required to edit here starting in September 2021 to avoid unfairly blocking users. This is now active.
Back in December, I realized it might be necessary to require everyone to have an account in order to edit here. This was prompted by the the conversion to the Unified Community Platform (UCP) happening all across Fandom that makes it nearly impossible to talk with someone who doesn't have an account. If the Message Wall is active, which it is here, you can't talk with them through it. The only way you can is to shut it off so it reverts back to the User Talk pages, or you keep the Wall active, create a User Talk-like page and set a block so you can tell them in the block reason "go look at this page".
The first option involves going old school and doesn't really fit any more with how a lot of people want to communicate. If I remember right, it wasn't reliable anyway in notifying you had a message if you weren't logged in. And if the IP address you're editing from changed, you definitely wouldn't be notified.
The second option has four drawbacks:
- It feels like punishment to block them if they didn't do anything wrong just because you're just trying to talk to them.
- You have to guess how long to set the block to give them a chance to see it.
- They'd have to edit that page for you to know they've seen the message, but they can't edit it until the block expires. Allowing them to edit their own talk page as part of the block doesn't work for them because that's not their actual talk page.
- Blocking someone for this reason may be a violation of Fandom's requirements for block policies.
I didn't want to shut off anonymous editing because I know people have reasons for not having an account and some might decide not to come back if it's required. I learned years ago that thinking "Anonymous users cause all the problems so we'll fix everything by shutting that off" is short-sighted and doesn't magically fix everything. Problems happen whether or not someone has an account.
Since March, I have been thinking about this issue a lot. There's still no good answer for "shut off the Message Wall" vs. "letting anonymous users edit but we jump through hoops trying to talk to them". Profile pages for anonymous users such as User:126.96.36.199 have disappeared so I have the feeling that we won't see the Message Wall come back for them, either.
I also see that editing without an account isn't as safe as having an account. If the IP address you're editing from is publicly visible in the edit history of a page and the Recent Changes list, it puts you at risk. There's ways to protect yourself, but having an account hides your IP address. Only Fandom employees and the volunteers for the SOAP team and some of the other higher-level functions can see it. They will not reveal that information because it would be a violation of your privacy.
In contrast, having an account has many benefits beyond privacy. You will have a Profile you can put in what you want about yourself and your interests. You'll be able to upload photos and videos, go into the Discussions area, get notifications about changes to pages you're interested in, get notifications about messages, see fewer ads, and more.
Based on this, requiring an account has more benefits than drawbacks. What it will also do is help this wiki in the coming months.
So here's what I want to do. First, I'm going to turn on the requirement of having an account to edit here. It will take effect on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. That gives everyone just over a month to sign up for an account.
Second, I need to start a community discussion about getting bot rights for the Ferbot account I use for maintenance. That will keep the edits I make with it in the background were it won't drown out any activity reports. The standard practice is to get input from other members of the wiki to verify they approve.
And third, I'd like to see us get cleanup projects going where we focus on specific things to improve around here. They will be in a blog I'm going to call "Our shiny metal wiki" to show what needs to be worked on.