Help:Signatures

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Signing your posts on talk pages (normally using four tildes (~~~~)), both for the article and non-article namespaces, is good practice]], and facilitates discussion by helping identify the author of a particular comment. Other users can then navigate to a talk page and address their comments to the specific, relevant user(s). Discussion is an important part of collaborative editing, because it helps all users to understand the progress and evolution of a work.

Comments posted on user talk pages, article talk pages and other discussion pages should be properly signed. Signature use that is intentionally and persistently disruptive may lead to blocks.

When editing a page, main namespace articles should not be signed, because the article is a shared work, based on the contributions of many people, and one editor should not be singled out above others.

Purpose of signatures

Signatures on Wikipedia identify you as a user and your contributions to Wikipedia. They encourage civility in discussions by identifying the author of a particular comment and the date and time at which it was made. Because of that, having an uncivil signature is strongly discouraged (in some cases, to the point of blocking the user until it is changed). In general, anything that is not allowed in a username should not be used in a signature either.

Furthermore, signatures also serve a technical purpose: various user scripts and talk-page archiving bots rely on their time stamps to know when to archive old threads. It's because of this that it's also important to avoid overly customizing the date output of a signature, as doing so can lead to stale threads persisting long after they'd otherwise be archived.

When signatures should and should not be used

Any posts made to the user talk pages, article talk pages and any other discussion pages must be signed. Note that, as stated below]], if you choose to edit those kinds of pages without logging in, then you should still sign your posts -- regardless of whether or not you have an account. Edits to articles must not be signed, as signatures on Wikipedia are not intended to indicate ownership or authorship of any article]]. Rather, the page history takes care of the need to identify edits with users. Therefore, signatures should not be used in edit summaries, as they do not translate from ~~~~. In other instances, when posts should not be signed, specific instructions are provided to contributors. Files used in articles, including image and sound files, should not contain any signatures of any Wikipedians.

How to sign your posts

Preferred option

Using four tildes

There are two ways to sign your posts:

  1. At the end of your comments simply type four tildes (~), like this: ~~~~. For Chinese language or Japanese language input methods users (especially Macintosh users), do not use fullwidth tildes (~~~~).
  2. If you are using the edit toolbar option (it usually appears above the edit screen as a default),<ref>If the browser's settings don't allow JavaScript, the icons appear only if the settings are changed. If the browser is set not to show pictures, the icon can be found on "Your signature with timestamp"</ref> click the signature icon insert signature to add two hyphens and four tildes like this: --~~~~.

The four tildes will be automatically replaced with your signature after you have saved the changes, as follows:

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
~~~~ [[User:Example|Example]] ([[User talk:Example|talk]]) 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC) Example (talk) 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Since typing four tildes adds the time and date to your resulting signature, this is the preferred option for signing your posts in discussions.

Note that if you choose to contribute without logging in, regardless of whether you have an account, you should still sign your posts. In this case your IP address will take the place of your username, and will link to your contributions history. Your IP address might look something like 192.0.2.213 or 2001:DB8:CEEE:21B:DB60:07FE:4277:63FF.

Other options

Using three tildes

Typing three tildes results in the following:

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
~~~ [[User:Example|Example]] ([[User talk:Example|talk]]) Example (talk)

However, since this does not date-stamp your signature, you may wish to sign this way only when leaving general notices on your user page or user talk page. This is also a convenient shortcut (rather than typing out the full code) when you want to provide a link to your user page.

Using five tildes

Typing five tildes will convert to a date stamp with the current date and time, without adding your signature, like this:

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
~~~~~ 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC) 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

In general, when communicating with others, you should use one of the previous options and not only a timestamp. There are exceptions to this such as, when requesting assistance from the Third Opinion project the requested format for signing is the five tilde signature to slightly help improve neutrality from the responding volunteer.

Customizing your signature

Every editor's default signature (defined by Signature) will display when ~~~~ is typed. This looks like:

Example (talk) 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Unregistered/not-logged-in users may choose to sign manually with a pseudonym or tag (e.g. anon.) as their IP address will be stored in the page history. If you choose to sign your posts in such a way, you should still finish your signature with four tildes (anon. ~~~~) to aid others in reading the thread and communicating with you.

Customizing how you see your signature

To change how your signature appears to you when you are logged-in but not to other users, you can create a personal "CSS" style sheet for your own convenience. For example, to display your username in bold reversed out of orange ( like this: Your username ), add the following to Special:MyPage/common.css, replacing Your username with your actual username:

#bodyContent a[title="User:Your username"] { background-color: #ffa500; color: #ffffff; font-weight: bold; }

When you use this technique a highlight will be displayed wherever you sign a talk-page post, and also anywhere [[User:Your username]] appears, e.g. in your [watchlist, in page histories, and if anyone links to you in a discussion. As you are the only person who will see your custom signature, you can use a bright color to help you scan long pages more quickly. Alternative colors can be researched via the Web colors article.

You can remove or modify the highlighting effect at any time by changing the instruction from your style sheet. The change will apply to all pages regardless of how old they may be.

Customizing how everyone sees your signature

Registered users can customize their signatures by going to Special:Preferences and changing the field "Signature". This changes the signature seen by everyone. It can be used to sign your posts with a nickname, or with custom formatting, or both.

This technique only applies where you have signed a page while logged in. It doesn't affect how your username appears in your watchlist, in page histories, or where someone else has linked to your user page in a discussion. When you remove or modify your signature, the change will apply to your future posts, but the signatures on your existing posts will be unchanged.

If you do not check the "Treat the above as wiki markup" box, the exact content you enter will be used as your signature. For example, if User:Example had set their signature to read NICKNAME, thereafter the signature (generated when they mark a post with ~~~~) would be:

NICKNAME (talk) 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

If you check the "Treat the above as wiki markup" box, you can describe your signature using "raw" wikitext (such as <span> and wiki-markup) which will be substituted unchanged when you sign your posts. If User:Example had set their signature to read [[User:Example|Ex@''mple'']]<sup>[[User talk:Example|t@lk]]</sup>, the signature generated by ~~~~ would be:

Ex@mplet@lk 03:42, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

If you wish to include the pipe (|) or equals (=) characters, these must be escaped, or they will break templates unexpectedly when your signature is present. To escape the | symbol, you can use &#124; and to escape the = character, &#61; will work.

Because these signatures are seen by everyone, be aware of the guidelines and policies below.

When customizing your signature, please keep the following in mind:

  • A customised signature should make it easy to identify the username, to visit the user's talk-page, and preferably user page.
  • A distracting, confusing, or otherwise unsuitable signature may adversely affect other users. For example, some editors find that long formatting disrupts discourse on talk pages, or makes working in the edit window more difficult.
  • Complicated signatures contain a lot of code ("markup") that is revealed in the edit window, and can take up unnecessary amounts of narrative space, which can make both reading and editing harder.

Signature forgery

Never use another editor's signature. Impersonating another editor by using his or her username or signature is forbidden. Altering the markup code of your signature to make it look substantially like another user's signature may also be considered a form of impersonation. Editing the code of your signature to link it to another editor's user page is not permitted. It is also ineffective, as the change log of the page records the IP address and (if applicable) username of all editors; as such, any impersonators can easily be caught if the signature in the diff view differs from the editor's default signature. While not an absolute requirement, it is common practice for a signature to resemble to some degree the username it represents.

If you encounter a user whose signature is disruptive or appears to be impersonating another account, it is appropriate to ask that user to consider changing their signature to meet the requirements of this policy. When making such a request, always be polite, and assume good faith. Do not immediately assume that the user has intentionally selected a disruptive or inappropriate signature. If you are asked to change your signature, please avoid interpreting a polite request as an attack. Since the success of Wikipedia is based on effective teamwork, both parties should work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Signature formatting has been the subject of Requests for Comment, and has also resulted in some very heated debates. In one case a user who refused to cease using "~~~~" as a signature was required to change it by the Arbitration Committee. This is an extreme measure for refusal to cooperate with reasonable requests, and should be considered a last resort. When dealing with potentially problematic signatures, simply being polite is often sufficient and can prevent the situation from escalating into a dispute.

Appearance and color

Your signature must not blink, scroll, or otherwise cause inconvenience to or annoy other editors.

  • Avoid markup such as <big> and <span style="font-size: 200%;"> tags (which enlarge text); this is likely to disrupt the way that surrounding text displays.
  • Do not add line breaks (<br />), which can also negatively affect nearby text display. The use of non-breaking spaces to ensure that the signature displays on one line is recommended.
  • Be sparing with subscript and superscript. In some cases, this type of script can also affect the way that surrounding text is displayed.
  • Do not make your signature so small that it is difficult to read.
  • As some users have vision problems, be sparing with color. If you use different colors in your signature, please ensure that the result will be readable by people with color blindness, defective color vision, and other visual disabilities.
  • Do not include horizontal rules (---- or <hr />).

Font tags

Tags were deprecated in HTML4 and are entirely obsolete in HTML5. This means that the popular browsers may drop support for them at some point. When that happens, the tags will be ignored in all signatures; any properties such as color and font family will revert to their default values. For this reason, it is recommended that you use tags and CSS properties instead. You may request additional coding assistance at Help desk.

A change to your signature definition does not affect signatures created before then. Therefore, if you currently use font tags in your signature, switching to span tags now will reduce the number of your signatures (including those in the archives of talk spaces) that will render incorrectly after the browsers drop support for font.

Images

Images of any kind must not be used in signatures for the following reasons:

  • They are an unnecessary drain on server resources, and could cause server slowdown
  • A new image can be uploaded in place of the one you chose, making your signature a target for possible vandalism and denial-of-service attacks
  • They make pages more difficult to read and scan
  • They make it more difficult to copy text from a page
  • They are potentially distracting from the actual content
  • Images do not scale with the text, making the lines with images higher than those without them
  • They clutter up the "file links" list on the respective image's page every time one signs on a different talk page
  • Images in signatures give undue prominence to a given user's contribution

Length

Keep signatures short, both in display and in markup.

Extremely long signatures with a lot of HTML/wiki markup make page editing and discussion more difficult for the following reasons:

  • Signatures that take up more than two or three lines in the edit window clutter the page and make it harder to distinguish posts from signatures.
  • Long signatures give undue prominence to a given user's contribution.
  • Signatures that occupy more space than necessary in the edit box displace meaningful comments, thus forcing editors to scroll when writing their replies.
  • The presence of such long signatures in the discussion also disrupts the reading of comments when editors are formulating their replies.

The software will automatically truncate both plain and raw signatures to 255 characters of code in the Signature field. If substitution of templates or another page is used, please be careful to verify that you are not violating the length limit, as the software will not do this automatically.