Talk:New requirements for user signatures

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New proposal: No line breaks

Summary by Whatamidoing (WMF)
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hello, all:

To make the Reply tool more reliable, they'd like to introduce another requirement: Signatures should not include a line break.

This mostly appears in messages with fake signatures posted by Extension:MassMessage, but those generally shouldn't be replied to.

I plan to post a description on the main page, but for right now: Do you know of any editor who uses a multi-line signature? I've seen very few, and almost all of those have turned out to be a typo/accidental stray character.

Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

I can't recall ever seeing one. I'm assuming that this is related to task T272667.

Tacsipacsi (talkcontribs)
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)
AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

Signatures now includes a default check for line breaks, defined as \n <br> <div> <p>. There are 23 occurrences on enwiki. Most seem to be accidental or otherwise what we're trying to prohibit, but there are a few like Ahecht who are using it to stack text inside their signature. That's still probably problematic, and should be done differently.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Matma Rex will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that <br> (if it's typed as the HTML code, not if it's typed by pressing Enter) is okay.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)


AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

Should it be though?

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

Maybe it shouldn't, but it's not causing any issues for DiscussionTools or other existing software. There are many stupider things you can put in your signature, and I don't want us to get bogged in discussions about what should or shouldn't be allowed, which is bound to happen if we propose anything remotely controversial.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

We went ahead with making this change, and it will be deployed this week. If your signature contains a line break, you'll see a warning message in preferences, similar to how the other requirements are handled right now:

Your current signature is invalid. Although you can still use it, you won't be able to change it until you correct it.

Your signature must consist of a single line of wikitext.

This change is included in 1.37.0-wmf.3, which is being deployed this week. It'll reach Wikipedias this Thursday, 29 April, assuming everything goes well.

Reply to "New proposal: No line breaks"

Using someone else's signature template

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)
AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

Looks like the user was renamed, see . Everything redirects to the current username, but it boils down to the same old problem of renamed users not updating their signatures.

Jonesey95 (talkcontribs)

That seems like a local issue to me. This might be a renamed user and hence valid. It does appear wrong, though, and I would not personally encourage it.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Is there ever a use case for this? Maybe I have two accounts, and use the same sig template for both?

Reply to "Using someone else's signature template"

Enforcing length in templates

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

From w:en:Wikipedia talk:Signatures#Length section:

Right now, the maximum length for a custom signature is 255 characters (or 255 bytes?). This is already enforced by the software.

However, if your custom sig is {{subst:my-sig-template}}, then right now, that's "25 characters", even if the template contains the entire text of Homer's Odyssey.

My question for you: Do you all want me to ask for them to start checking the length of signature templates? There's no software need for this (that I know of), but if this is something that editors want, then I'm willing to make the request.

Dyolf77 (WMF) (talkcontribs)

A template that contains the entire text of Homer's Odyssey will break the page. So yes, please ask to check the length of signature template.

Reply to "Enforcing length in templates"

What about links to subpages?

2601:19B:C00:A55:9492:14C4:BD6A:3D09 (talkcontribs)

My sig (on en:wp) is a link to a subpage of my userpage, which then redirects to my userpage. I was advised that it is probably against the new rules, but it is unclear. It states "but a signature that includes only links to another wiki, or only redirects from a former username, will be invalid". But my signature does not contain only links to another wiki or username, and in fact contains no links to another wiki or username. It is a local link to a subpage of my userpage. So it is not clear to me that this runs afoul of the new rules. Please advise. --w:User:Lethe 2601:19B:C00:A55:9492:14C4:BD6A:3D09 18:23, 26 January 2021 (UTC)

AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

@Lethe Your signature must contain a link to User:Lethe, User talk:Lethe, or Special:Contributions/Lethe. You can add links to whatever else you would like, but it must link to one of those pages. I do not believe MediaWiki considers redirects when validating signatures, but I haven't tested it. You can test it yourself by making a change to your signature and trying to save it. For best results, you should link directly to your user page, user talk page, or contributions. Oh, and by the way, you're editing logged-out.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

You can check what the software thinks about your existing signature in your preferences – if it would become invalid, you'll see a warning message in the Signature section.

My practical advice (after reading the message on your talk page where you explain that this is for tracking your mentions on Special:WhatLinksHere) is to have one "normal" link (perhaps the talk page one) to satisfy these requirements, and one link through the redirect to do your tracking.

2601:19B:C00:A55:1DED:7E09:624B:B99 (talkcontribs)

I have edited my signature to include a link to my contributions page, which I believe makes it comport with the rules. I'll note that the existence of subst'ed signatures makes the software-imposed compliance check circumventable even for users who are not grandfathered in, like I would've been. If you want a noncompliant signature, simply save your signature preferences with a compliant template, and then edit the template afterwards. Why anyone should want to do this is beyond me, so it may not be worthwhile to make the software check rule it out. w:User:Lethe ~~~~

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

The requirements are mostly meant to prevent mistakes (e.g. forgetting to link your user page, or messing up the HTML syntax) rather than intentional abuse, so I don't think that's a problem.

Also, in the unspecified future when "all signatures will need to conform", the validity will be checked whenever the signature is used rather than only when it's changed in preferences, so this method won't let you circumvent it. Right now it is only done when changing preferences, since that was the easiest way to "grandfather-in" old signatures.

2601:19B:C00:A55:FC7C:894D:1494:2E8D (talkcontribs)
Reply to "What about links to subpages?"

Why "Some use of subst: markup" ?

Pppery (talkcontribs)

Subst is now totally useless because it cannot be used to provide the required links to user and talk pages. --  David L  discuter ► 16:39, 5 December 2020 (UTC)

Pppery (talkcontribs)
AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

@DavidL "it cannot be used to provide the required links to user and talk pages." is incorrect. You can still substitute a template as your signature, provided that the post-substitution text complies with the technical requirements.

The added requirements around substitution refer to uses of substitution that cause the page text to change in subsequent edits after the signed edit. See phab:T230652.

DavidL (talkcontribs)

So there is a bug because it doesn't work.

AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

Works for me.

DavidL (talkcontribs)

Thanks for replies. I found why it doesn't worked for me: I was using user namespace in French "Utilisateur". Sorry for this.

DavidL (talkcontribs)

But the error message was about the missing link to user page and talk page. It would be more helpful to report error about the non-existence of the page used in subst, to figure out what is the problem.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I think it'd be most helpful if recognized all the languages, instead of insisting that its namespaces be written in English. :-)

Reply to "Why "Some use of subst: markup" ?"
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

This change was made about three weeks ago, and the number of active editors with errors seems to have declined during this time. I suspect that this is mostly about new accounts, which can no longer make these mistakes.

I decided today to wait another ~10 days before trying to contact anyone else about fixing their sigs. Especially on the biggest wikis, I don't want to flood RecentChanges with hundreds of messages.

I've started a central help page at New requirements for user signatures/Help. Please put that page on your watchlist (and help me figure out the simplest, easiest ways to explain all of this).

DannyS712 (talkcontribs)

If you use MassMessage to send the notice, RC won't be any more flooded that with, eg, Signpost publications, and the edits should be marked as bot edits and hidden

Reply to "Status"

Talk page link as image link

Tacsipacsi (talkcontribs)

AntiCompositeNumber’s report for huwiki lists the following signature as not having a user/user talk link (the user page is Szerkesztő:HoremWeb):

[[kép:horemweb.png|HoremWeb|link=Szerkesztő:HoremWeb]] <sup>[[kép:dd-mdw-jn.png|14px|ḏd md.w jn: szavaknak mondása|link=Szerkesztővita:HoremWeb]]</sup>

Is this invalid according to MediaWiki as well, or it’s just the Toolforge tool that doesn’t recognize it? The resulting HTML has a proper <a> tag in it, so I don’t think that the reply tool (or any other tool) should have issues with it.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

You know, I have actually never considered that someone's entire signature might be images…

I tested it and it looks like the MediaWiki code recognizes the links, and this signature is valid.

Tacsipacsi (talkcontribs)

Thanks, I thought for some reason that the deprecation period will start tomorrow, so I didn’t test this myself. So it’s up to AntiCompositeNumber to recognize it in his tool, but this might be quite tricky… Is there a way for Toolforge tools to call a real MediaWiki? It would be a lot easier to simply check for

$validator = new \MediaWiki\PreferencesSignatureValidator(
 ParserOptions::newFromContext( $context )
$signatureErrors = $validator->validateSignature( $signature );

If not, probably this could be exposed as an API (which could be used on Special:Preferences as well to provide nearly real-time feedback about invalid signatures, instead of only on save).

AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

I'd be able to fix it by switching my parsing code from parsing Wikitext to parsing rendered HTML, but I don't really have the time/energy for that at the moment. As a personal opinion, I don't think it should be valid, but that obviously didn't make it into this round.

Reply to "Talk page link as image link"

No more new broken signatures

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

It is no longer possible to save an invalid custom signature in Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-personal-signature.

Some volunteers have already started encouraging editors at their home wikis to update their signatures. Please let me know if you are doing this, or if you would like to do this. Anyone is welcome to do this – it's very helpful! – but we should not accidentally contact the same editors multiple times.

Reply to "No more new broken signatures"

Template transclusion

Trizek (talkcontribs)

Do you plan to avoid templates in signatures?

I recently came across a case on an archived page, where a user used a personalized template. this template changed overtime and the page was really confusing.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

No, that should still be allowed under the new requirements (as long as the output of the template has the links, doesn't have broken markup, etc.).

It's probably not a good idea to do that, and it's forbidden by policy on at least some wikis (e.g. English Wikipedia's signature policy), but we're not doing anything about that right now.

Trizek (talkcontribs)

Thank you! Maybe adding it on a future release, for safety purposes?

Reply to "Template transclusion"

Case of differences between the real username and the displayed username

Trizek (talkcontribs)

I wonder if your work will cover the case when someone displays a different username than theirs in their signature. Example: [[user:Foo|Bar]].

This shouldn't be allowed since it is very confusing for everyone. I've already seen people being wrongly pinged, or seeing Foo complaining because someone pinged user:Bar instead of them.

The counterargument "my username is already taken, I want to display my real identity" is a false one. No one complains because they get a phone number they don't like. When one wants to change their username, they can if the account is not taken, or if the account is not in use any more. It is done often. Already used and active usernames simply follow the "first arrived first served rule" and it is clearly not much of a big deal. It happen to me back in the days: my current username was my backup nickname on the Internet. I had the opportunity to built a new identity which was a great experience.

Tacsipacsi (talkcontribs)

I’ve seen various creative solutions that aren’t confusing IMO, including [[User:Foo|foo]] (lower case), [[User:Foo Bar|Foo_Bar]] (underscore instead of space), or [[User:FooBar|Foo]][[User talk:FooBar|Bar]] (user name spanning over the user page and talk page links); Tgr’s signature was at a time roughly [[User:Tgr|TG]][[User talk:Tgr|<sup>®</sup>]] (“registered trademark” logo instead of “r”). [[User:Foo|Bar]] is confusing indeed, but I’m not sure if allowable and non-allowable names can be differentiated using software.

AntiCompositeNumber (talkcontribs)

User:Foo using the signature <code>[[User:Foo|Bar]]</code> is not covered by these changes. That's something best enforced by local signature policies and guidelines, not by technical methods as Tacsipacsi described.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

[[User:Foo|Bar]] will be accepted, as long as your username really is "Foo". I agree that this can be confusing.

Trizek (talkcontribs)

Local policies need to be enforced. But honestly, who cares about them? Even on Meta, displaying a different username is perfectly accepted.

An a minima requirement would be to highlight the risk of confusion.

At least, we can expect to have a mention button like we have here on Structured Discussions, that would help quoting participants in the discussion. Hoping that would raise questions like "why this user is not listed?". And hoping that people won't tell themselves "I could change my name too". And lead to more confusion.

Reply to "Case of differences between the real username and the displayed username"