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CZ:Account Approval Procedure

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This is a help page for administrators who process account requests from applicants wishing to join the Citizendium project. See also user pages.

Charter

The Charter sets out some basic conditions for both applicants and administrators:

  • Article 2: Citizenship shall be open to anyone who fulfills the basic conditions for participation as defined by the Citizendium Council—including registering according to the real names policy—and agrees to abide by this Charter.
  • Article 3: Citizens shall not have their application to join or their use of the site blocked or terminated on the basis of their nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, creed, gender, sexuality, profession, education, politics, residence, age, name, or URL[...]
  • Article 8: 1. Each Citizen is assigned a User space and user Talk space bearing his Citizendium user name[...]

'Request Account' page

This page is where applicants submit their information. The most important point is they must use their real, actual name (except in very rare cases where the Council has already granted a pseudonym). The other main requirements are a biography of at least 50 words, being over the age of 13, a reasonable standard of English, and agreement to abide by the rules of the project.

To appear in the requested-accounts queue (see below), the applicant must have at least filled in a username and e-mail address, ticked a box stating that they agree to the rules of the project, and have included at least 50 words in the 'Biography' section.

The pages that you see when approving accounts are generated by the software using various MediaWiki templates which are particular to the language that you have set to display in your preferences. Only the default pages - for 'en - English' - have been updated. If you use any other language or variant, even 'eb-GB English', only default information shows and certain boxes go missing from the account application pages discussed below. Make sure that you're on the default language setting.

Account queue

The account queue contains a list of current applications, including name, e-mail address, biography and any other information submitted, such as weblinks or uploaded résumés (CVs). It also indicates whether the e-mail address has been confirmed (by the applicant replying to an automatically-generated e-mail). Administrators are notified of new confirmed applications every time they log in to the main wiki, but should manually check the queue for unconfirmed accounts too.

You will see that the queue is divided into 'Author' and 'Editor' applications. Check both. Applicants are asked not to sign up as Editors since the current rule requires everyone to start as Authors. (This option is yet to be removed from the software.) Administrators can change this status on approving accounts.

Criteria for approving or rejecting applications

Applications can be approved, rejected as unsatisfactory, rejected as spam, or held for later consideration. At all times, consider how easy it would have been for you to have created the application. For example, free e-mail addresses or links to free sites that anyone can sign up to without verification are not acceptable in themselves as a form of identity, so you should seek alternative means of verification if there are no other reasons to reject the account.

If anything seems suspicious, do not immediately create the account, and feel free to consult with other staff members. For further details on how to make a judgement, see below.

Spam

Obvious spam must be rejected immediately. Be sure to check the box marked 'Spam (do not send e-mail)' at the bottom of the application page, which ensures that spambots do not add any correspondence e-mail addresses to their databases.

Some spam applications are more subtle, in that they are made under real-looking names but the biography veers off into marketing or advocacy. If the application reads more like an advertisement or campaign, treat it as spam and reject it.

Errors and existing or banned members

Applications made in error should be immediately rejected. Examples include someone making a duplicate account, or an existing member forgetting that they have already joined. More rarely, someone whose account has been blocked might try to return. Check that the application has not come from an existing or banned project member by searching the main wiki (click 'Advanced' and check 'User', then enter parts of the username).

Real name

Check the 'Username' box. This should be:

  • a real-looking, full name (usually first and family names);
  • for an individual;
  • not a pseudonym (unless one has been granted by the Council);
  • without any academic or other titles;
  • with normal capitalization and spacing;
  • in the Roman script.

So, 'Fred' is not acceptable, or just 'Smith'; it should be at least 'Fred Smith'. Nor are 'Fred and Mary Smith', 'Dr. Fred Smith', 'fredsmith', 'fred91' or 'フレッド・スミス', to give just a few examples.

Common nicknames, first-name initials or shortened forms are acceptable if that is how the individual is usually known. If the order of names is non-Western (e.g. for Chinese names) or there is only one name for cultural reasons, this is also acceptable if that is how the individual is commonly known. Anglicized or transliterated forms are acceptable, again if that is how the person is known in English. Non-English diacritics are also acceptable, and can also be left out.

You can edit the name if its form is the only barrier to acceptance, e.g. 'Dr. Fred Smith' should be changed to 'Fred Smith' - however, the application should be held and the applicant notified to give them a chance to withdraw the application if they insist on the original (select 'Hold' at the bottom of the application page, and write in the Comment box). Otherwise, the application can be approved after a reasonable time if there are no other problems.

Simple typos or lack of capitalization may also be fixed immediately (although failure to adhere to such basic standards is a cause for concern; you may find that the applicant does not meet minimum standards for English usage elsewhere in their application).

Applications should be rejected immediately if the username is:

  • obviously not a full or real name;
  • an attempt at a group account (more than one person);
  • written in anything other than the Roman script;
  • otherwise unclear or incoherent.

You may choose to encourage the applicant to re-apply, if you think that would be worthwhile, in the 'Comment' section at the bottom of the application.

Confirmed e-mail address

Check the 'E-mail' entry. This would ideally be a non-free, non-anonymous e-mail address, e.g. one ending .edu or with a company name. It should also have '(confirmed)' after it, which means that the applicant has replied to an automatically-generated e-mail message. Addresses must be confirmed before applications can be approved. However, sometimes those automatic messages disappear, e.g. they are blocked by spam filters. So, the application must not be rejected on this basis until other lines of enquiry have been exhausted, i.e. the applicant should be contacted first (see below).

Free, non-free and anonymous e-mail addresses

An applicant can sign up with a free or anonymous e-mail address as long as other evidence is submitted which verifies their identity (though this is discouraged). A confirmed non-free, non-anonymous e-mail address is the main way that we confirm identities, since institutions and companies are likely to insist on all or part of the individual's real name being included in the address. (If this is not the case, more evidence is necessary.)

If a confirmed non-free, non-anonymous e-mail address is used and the username and biography criteria are satisfied, the account can be created immediately, though you should search the internet for references to the person's name and e-mail, to see if there are any grounds for concern. If anything seems suspicious, do not immediately create the account.

If a free or anonymous e-mail address is used, further evidence of identity must be sought. Check under 'Other information' within the application page (see below), and search the internet for any official pages or databases that include the address, such as an institutional webpage or a WHOIS database. If the address is already confirmed, you can create the account. If it is not confirmed, they need to be contacted via an address that appears on any official page or database. A sample e-mail follows:

Hello,

Recently we received an application to join our project in your name. To confirm that you made the application, please reply to this e-mail. This associates your application with your real name and thus verifies your identity in accordance with our rules.

Thanks,

YOUR NAME (applications administrator)

If you are a Constable, you should use the Constabulary e-mail in your correspondence. If not, use an account other than your regular address.

If you cannot verify any e-mail addresses, you need extra information (see below).

'Position'

The 'Position' box must be set to 'author'. If it isn't, change it when you approve the account. (It has not yet been possible to make the technical changes to remove this altogether.)

'Biography'

Anything in the 'Biography' box will become public because it will automatically be uploaded to the successful applicant's user page. So, you need to make sure that there is no information in it that should clearly be confidential (sometimes people insert evidence of their identity into the wrong boxes of the sign-up form.) Note that minors should not provide any details of their whereabouts or identifying activities. You can edit the biography to shorten or format it. In particular, remove details such as extra e-mail addresses, personal addresses, or telephone numbers.

Otherwise, the biography will contain at least 50 words, since the software will block any application with fewer. Make sure that the applicant provides some general details of their background, interests, skills, publications, qualifications, etc. The idea is that readers of the site would get some idea of who has contributed to articles by inspecting this information.

An application may be rejected if the biography is unsatisfactory, e.g. it

  • contains unusual and/or inappropriate comments;
  • is spam;
  • has not been written by the individual in whose name the application has been made;
  • has been copied without permission;
  • fails to establish any information about the individual;
  • declares or implies that the applicant does not in fact accept our rules;
  • is written in a language other than English or any variety of English that a global readership is unlikely to understand;
  • is written with a standard of English that would be difficult for fluent users to understand;
  • contains anything which a reasonable person would be unlikely to interpret as contributing to a biography of a real person.

'Other information'

This is where applicants submit extra information that may help us to confirm their identity. This may be optional if there is already clear evidence of identity, such as a confirmed non-free e-mail address, or it may be essential to establishing that the applicant is who they say they are.

Applicants may upload documentation - download these, virus-scan them and check them for any relevant information. Delete them from your personal devices once you are finished with them. Follow web-links for evidence of the applicant's on-line activities. Note that social-networking accounts are not acceptable as evidence because anyone can sign up to services such as Facebook with a real-looking but fake identity. (Do not reject applications just because they contain such links, however; just do not take them into account.)

You may contact applicants using other e-mail addresses they supply. This is particularly useful if they have applied using a free e-mail address but an institutional or company one appears elsewhere in their application. A sample e-mail follows:

Hello,

Recently we received an application to join our project in your name. To confirm that you made the application, please reply to this e-mail. This associates your application with your real name and thus verifies your identity in accordance with our rules.

Thanks,

YOUR NAME (applications administrator)

If you are a Constable, you should use the Constabulary e-mail in your correspondence. If not, use an account other than your regular address.

Finding or requesting extra information

Often, people make applications in good faith but either fail to provide adequate information that can be used to confirm their real name and identity, or the information can only be found by searching through the data they provide. You may also write to them seeking further information. The main sources are:

  • official company or institutional webpages;
  • official entries in on-line databases that contain real-name information;
  • scans of ID documents.

These must contain information that was submitted in the application, e.g. their e-mail address, or other information that links that person with the application.

If the applicant owns a personal or business domain name, one source of identity evidence is a WHOIS database. Go to a WHOIS lookup site and enter the domain name. The results may include the same confirmed e-mail address used in the application, or another address which you can write to asking for confirmation that they applied to join Citizendium. The fact that the applicant appears to own or administer a website should not in itself be taken as evidence of identity.

The applicant may also have an official company or institutional webpage, with an official e-mail address (which may also be found in their staff e-mail directory). You can e-mail any official addresses to seek confirmation that they have applied to join Citizendium.

You may create an account even if the e-mail address used is unconfirmed, as long as you have confirmed an address manually. Do not confirm accounts for individuals who have not supplied satisfactory evidence and are unreachable.

Applicants may also submit scans of ID documents, such as a driver's licence, passport, or other officially-recognized documents. You may also write to people requesting these. They should be advised to blank out any information other than their real name, and be informed that anything they submit is confidential. One the application procedure is over, be sure to delete this information from your personal devices.

A sample e-mail follows:

Hi; please write back via [YOUR E-MAIL OR CONSTABULARY E-MAIL] with evidence of your real name, such as a company/institutional e-mail address, entry in a WHOIS database for a domain name you own, or a scan of an ID document (you can blank details other than your name; such documents are private and will be destroyed after being used to verify your identity).

Thanks,

YOUR NAME (applications administrator)

If you are a Constable, you should use the Constabulary e-mail in your correspondence. If not, use an account other than your regular address.

Decision

The bottom of the application allows you to make a comment that is sent to applicants from a CZ e-mail address. This is sent once you have chosen to approve, hold or reject the account.

Rejecting applications

You should not include any extra comment if the application included inappropriate content. Simply hit 'Reject'. Otherwise, you should politely give an explanation for why the account has been rejected and, if you think it is worthwhile, encourage the individual to re-apply (e.g. using their actual name). Spam applications should be rejected using the appropriate option.

Holding applications

You may put the application on 'hold' while you seek further information or consult with other staff. This removes the application from the primary list, ensures no other administrator will see it on logging-in, and names you as the administrator responsible for the application. If you have waited for over a month without any satisfactory evidence coming through, you may reject the account.

Approving applications

If the application fulfils the following, it can be accepted:

  • it is made under the individual's real name;
  • it has a confirmed e-mail address;
  • it is written by the applicant in a reasonably good standard of English;
  • the applicant is over 13 years of age;
  • the biography fulfils our requirements;
  • you are satisfied of their identity.

To accept the application, write a comment welcoming them to the project and click 'Approve' to create their account. Inform the forum moderator and the administrator of the CZ-L list so they can be invited to join the forums and the announcement list.

The software should create two pages: the new Author's User: page, and their User_talk: page. The applicant will have been sent an automatic e-mail telling them how to log in to the main wiki.

That's it!


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