Edits in unexpected places

I went to de.wp because I wanted to contact a user from Commons who had pointed to his German Wikipedia user page. While there, I found that thanks to unified login, I was already logged in there. Sweet! I went to the preferences to change the language to English so I could at least read the menus.

While on the preferences page, I was rather surprised to notice that it said I had 6 edits at the German Wikipedia. To my knowledge I have never edited the German Wikipedia since after universal login was turned on. I may have added images to stuff previously as an anon user, but that was definitely pre-universal-login. So what were these edits?

My mysterious six German edits

Hm… they appear to be an utterly random selection of edits that I made years ago… and in English! Trust me, I have never done any German “rewording” or copyediting in my life. :)

Looking at the history of the German article on Mulesing is not very enlightening. A handful of recent German looking edits preceded by a ton of very English looking edits. The log reveals what actually happened:

It was transwikied. My name is there because the history is preserved. What is weird, though, is that edits I made in English point to, and are recorded against, my username in German, although I never made those edits in the German Wikipedia. I don’t know if this is unified login being ultra super smart, or a strange side-effect.

Anyone have any insight into this? Have you ever found any “unusual” edits like this in an unexpected wiki? :)

25 March, 2009 • ,



Yeah, that‘s quite usual with imports and has nothing to do with SUL. If your account at de would not exist at all or were used by another person it would make no difference, MediaWiki would attribute the edit to this user nevertheless.

Adrian Lang · 25. March 2009, 23:01


This is one disadvantage of special:import. If you import something written by a user that does not have an account, the page history will link to [[special:contributions/user name]] as though “user name” was an unregistered user.

If anyone later makes an account called “user name”, they get assigned all of those edits, which they might not have made.

I’ve seen it a lot with help pages that get imported into external wikis.

A possible fix would be to rename everyone to “User name @ en.wikipedia.org” (if that’s where the content came from). As @ isn’t allowed in user names, no one can register and claim those edits as their own. It works as long as people don’t later make an account and get upset that those edits are not contributing towards their edit count!

Here’s an example.

Angela · 25. March 2009, 23:06


Merh. This is very murky, isn’t it? Is it currently considered a “known bug” or “known feature”? :)

Angela – is Wikia doing that @source.domain thing? If so how, and why doesn’t MediaWiki by default? I think that is the right thing to do.

And of course such edits shouldn’t count on the target wiki. They already counted once on the source wiki! :)

pfctdayelise · 25. March 2009, 23:11


It doesn’t seem to be in bugzilla though it was mentioned on the mailing lists a couple of times.

Wikia isn’t doing the @source thing. The page I linked was just a mock-up made by manually editing the XML file before import (something that’s disallowed on Wikimedia).

Angela · 25. March 2009, 23:55


It’s a “known feature” ;)

However it could be rather useful to have a notion of external-ness in user attributions. We should consider options for the future…

brion · 28. March 2009, 06:40


I got one of those strange edits, too.

This one was done way before I registered my nickname, but it is nevertheless made in German. At least now I can brag with how early I made edits to de.wp ;)

Flominator · 28. March 2009, 19:03


I’ve been thinking for a while that the import usernames need to be fully-qualified. User:Fred doesn’t mean much, but User:Fred@enwiki or User:Fred@conservapedia or whatever is much more useful, since it actually lets us know what User:Fred we’re talking about. If we’re serious about encouraging re-use and properly attributing imported material, this seems to be really necessary, to me.

Tracy Poff · 30. March 2009, 13:21

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