[Wikimedia-l] Thanking anonymous users

Marc A. Pelletier marc at uberbox.org
Mon Jan 13 04:35:25 UTC 2014

On 01/12/2014 10:57 PM, Tim Starling wrote:
> We could even allocate a row in the user table for them, which would
> be beneficial for various features that currently exclude anons due to
> the need to link to a user ID.

What you're discussing is an unnamed user account that's implicitly
created and lasts as long as the cookie does.  Those are going to pile
up *really* fast, especially from browsers that do not keep cookies for
any reason.

They could be cleaned up at interval, but then what attribution do edit
gets?  The IP as though there wasn't a cookie?

More questions that'd need to be answered: do you keep that user table
row around for checkuser?  (And I would say that the checkusers will
demand that you do).  What about talk pages?  Use whichever IP's happens
to be in use to have a User talk:Anonymous_192837?  Do we keep /those/
around indefinitely?

Don't get me wrong; I would *love* to get rid of "anonymous-by-IP" users
- they give /less/ privacy than an account do.  But the UX is
complicated to get right, and the needed code changes would be
pervasive.  For instance, you'd want users to be able to intuitively
"import" what they did anonymously into a newly created account in a way
that their IP will never have been shown.

-- Marc

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