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Signing your posts on talk pages (normally using four tildes: ~~~~), both for the article and non-article namespaces, is required and facilitates discussion by identifying 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 must 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[edit source | edit]

Signatures on Wikiafripedia identify you as a user and your contributions to Wikiafripedia. 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, including lowercase sigmabot III, 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[edit source | edit]

Any posts made to the user talk pages, article talk pages and any other discussion pages must be signed (this does not include adding WikiProject boxes and other such administrative templates). 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 Wikiafripedia are not intended to indicate ownership or authorship of any article. Instead, the page history identifies who made edits. Signatures do not translate from ~~~~ in edit summaries. 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 Wikiafripedians' signatures.

How to sign your posts[edit source | edit]

Preferred option[edit source | edit]

Using four tildes[edit source | edit]

There are two ways to sign your posts:

  1. At the end of your comments simply type four tildes (~), like this: ~~~~. For Chinese or Japanese language input method users (particularly relevant for macOS users), do not use fullwidth tildes (~~~~).
  2. If you are using the edit toolbar option (by default, it appears above the edit box), click the signature icon[Note 1] OOjs UI icon signature-ltr.svg to add two hyphens and four tildes like this: --~~~~.

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

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
~~~~ [[User:Example|Example]] ([[User talk:Example|talk]]) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC) Example (talk) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (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 or 2001:DB8:CEEE:21B:DB60:07FE:4277:63FF.

If, for some reason, you are not getting the above results when signing, see the SineBot Frequently Asked Questions for tips.

Other options[edit source | edit]

Using three tildes[edit source | edit]

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[edit source | edit]

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
~~~~~ 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (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.

In some templates, this is the preferred way to add the date.

Customizing your signature[edit source | edit]

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

Example (talk) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (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 (such as Anonymous editing as ~~~~) to aid others in reading the thread and communicating with you.

Customizing how you see your signature[edit source | edit]

To change how your signature appears to you, e.g. to make it easier to spot, without affecting how it appears to other users, you can create a personal CSS style sheet. For example, to display your username in bold white text on an orange background (like 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, bright colors can help you to more quickly scan long pages that contain [[User:Your username]], including Talk pages, page histories, your watchlist, and if anyone links to you in a discussion. Colors to use for this can be researched via the Web colors article, and you can update your common.css file at any time to modify the display style.

Customizing how everyone sees your signature[edit source | edit]

Screenshot of the Special:Preferences page, containing the section Raw 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) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (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 08:33, 6 December 2021 (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.
  • Always keep the time/date-stamp: these are used by bots to determine when a discussion is eligible to be archived.

Signature forgery[edit source | edit]

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 Wikiafripedia 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[edit source | edit]

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%;">(or more) 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.[note 1]
  • Do not include horizontal rules (---- or <hr />).

For guidance on how to use color and other effects to customize the appearance of your signature, see this tutorial.

  1. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines specify a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for text, and WAP:COLOR requires 7:1 "where feasible". To use named CSS colors on a white background, refer to MOS:ONWHITE for recommended colors. For other usage, use this Contrast ratio calculator to help determine if the colors will be visible to everyone. Signatures do not always appear on white backgrounds. Other colors for calculations range from the Monobook skin's very pale blue ( #F8FCFF ) to the closed discussion Hidden archive tan ( #F2DFCE ) title bar. Other tools for checking contrast are described at WAP:COLOR.

Font tags[edit source | edit]

<font>...</font> 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. Wikiafripedia is already preparing for this by delinting code project-wide through Linter. When support finally is dropped, 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 <span>...</span> tags and CSS properties instead. For usage examples, see Wikiafripedia:Signature tutorial § Real-life examples. You may request additional coding assistance at Wikiafripedia:Help desk.

A change to your signature definition does not affect signatures created before then. Therefore, if you currently use <font>...</font> tags in your signature, switching to <span>...</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>...</font>. Moreover, refactoring old signatures from you and other users (including in archive pages) by changing <font> tags to <span> tags can help prepare the project for this eventual loss of support.

Images[edit source | edit]

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[edit source | edit]

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 your signature does not violate the 255-character length limit when the templates are expanded, as the software will not do this automatically.

Overriding custom signatures[edit source | edit]

Unclutter signature minimiser[edit source | edit]

Custom-styled Unclutter and Comments in Local Time reformatting signatures and timestamps in a Wikiafripedia discussion.

If you prefer not to see other users' custom signatures, you can use the custom JavaScript module Unclutter. By default, Unclutter scans non-special non-article pages for timestamped signatures, wraps them up and replaces with a text of the form:

Example (annotation) (talkctbactlogsig)

This technique displays the actual username to you and is extensively configurable. It doesn't affect how anyone else sees the signatures. See User:Kephir/gadgets/unclutter for more details.

Note: while this script works in practice for most signatures found on the English Wikiafripedia, there are several unavoidable limitations which make Unclutter fail to recognise every possible signature. Signatures which violate policies laid out on this page may not be recognised. Unclutter is not an excuse to violate or decline to enforce the signature policy.

Using custom CSS[edit source | edit]

Overriding custom signature formatting (→more examples)

It's also possible to use your personal common.css style sheet to override the formatting of other users' signatures.

This allows you to decide how links to user pages should be displayed to you when you are logged-in. For example, you could highlight Your username in bold reversed mauve and Other signatures in normal mauve. This approach works by reversing a variety of commonly used signature formatting techniques, but it doesn't attempt to replace the text content of the signature. For example, if User:Example has customized their signature to read Ex@mple, changing the formatting would display Ex@mple rather than their actual name Example.

No other users will see your custom effects. You can remove or modify them at any time by changing the instructions in your style sheet. The change will apply to all pages regardless of how old they may be. For an example stylesheet, see User:Pointillist/reformat-signatures.css.

Links[edit source | edit]

Internal links[edit source | edit]

Signatures must include at least one direct internal link to your user page, user talk page, or contributions page; this allows other editors easy access to your talk page and contributions log. The lack of such a link is widely viewed as obstructive.

If, while making modifications, you accidentally disable this link, see Help:How to fix your signature. When you insert your signature on your talk page or user page, a link to that page will appear black, bold and inactive, so test your signature elsewhere, such as the Sandbox.

Disruptive links[edit source | edit]

It is better to put information on your user page rather than in your signature. Brief additional internal links are generally tolerated when used to facilitate communication or to provide general information, but undesirable if seen as canvassing for some purpose.

Do not place any disruptive internal links (especially when combined with custom formatting, for example CLICK HERE!!!) in your signature.

External links[edit source | edit]

Do not include links to external websites in your signature.

Mass posting of links to a particular website is strongly discouraged on Wikiafripedia. Posting a link to an external website with each comment you make on a talk page could be taken as link spamming, or an attempt to improve your website's ranking on search engines (which doesn't actually work in the first place). If you want to tell other Wikiafripedians about a website with which you are associated, you can do so on your user page.

Transclusion of templates (or other pages)[edit source | edit]

  • Transclusions of templates, parser functions, and TemplateStyles in signatures (like those which appear as {{User:Name/sig}}, {{#if:...}} or <templatestyles ... />) are forbidden for the following reasons:
    • Certain automated scripts (bots) are used to automatically archive particularly active talk pages. These bots read the source of the talk page, but don't transclude templates, and so don't recognize the template as a signature.
    • Signature templates are vandalism targets, and will be forever, even if the user leaves the project.
    • Signature templates are a small but unnecessary drain on the servers. Transcluded signatures require extra processing—whenever you change your signature source, all talk pages you have posted on must be re-cached.
    • User mention notifications will not work if the mentioning user's signature is contained in a template.
  • Substitutions of templates in signatures is permissible but discouraged, as the template that is substituted may be vandalized without the user knowing.
    • Users who choose to substitute their signature are required to be highly vigilant of their signature whenever they sign.
    • Substitution must not be used to circumvent the normal restrictions on signature content, including the use of images, obnoxious markup, or excessive length.

Simple text signatures, which are stored along with the page content and use no more resources than the comments themselves, avoid these problems.

Categories[edit source | edit]

Signatures must not contain categories. Categorizing talk pages by who has edited them is unhelpful, and the same information can be found by using your contributions list. Many of the various edit counting utilities also provide this data.

Non-Latin usernames[edit source | edit]

Editors with non-Latin usernames are welcome to edit in Wikiafripedia. However, non-Latin scripts, such as Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Indic scripts, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Thai and others, are illegible to most other contributors of the English Wikiafripedia. Not everyone uses a keyboard that has immediate access to non-Latin characters, and names that cannot be pronounced cannot be retained in memory. As a courtesy to the rest of the contributors, users with such usernames are encouraged to sign their posts (at least in part) with Latin characters. For an example refer to User:Παράδειγμα, who signs his posts as Παράδειγμα/Paradigma.

A signature consisting of or ending with characters from a right-to-left script will appear when viewing pages as



Wed ,23:58 (שֵׁם) May 2016

and in the edit box as --[[User:Example|DD ,HH:MM (NAME) Month YYYY]]. Adding a left-to-right marker symbol, at the end of the raw signature (HTML code: &lrm;), will resolve this. Or, if you include both Latin and a right-to-left script, such as Hebrew or Arabic, in your signature, consider putting Latin second, where it will be directly next to the timestamp.

Dealing with unsigned comments[edit source | edit]

The templates {{unsigned}} and {{unsignedIP}} can be used at the end of an unsigned comment to attach the username or IP to the comment. None of these templates automatically populate (fill in) the name or IP of the poster and the time of the post. That information is best copied from the history page and pasted into the following templates. Note: All of the unsigned templates must be substituted.

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
{{subst:unsigned|username or IP}} {{subst:unsigned|Example}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Example (talkcontribs)
{{subst:unsigned|username or IP|date}} {{subst:unsigned|Example|08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Example (talkcontribs) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)
{{subst:unsignedIP|IP address}} {{subst:unsignedIP|}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
{{subst:unsignedIP|IP address|date}} {{subst:unsignedIP||08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)

The templates {{unsigned2}} and {{unsignedIP2}} do almost the same as {{unsigned}} and {{unsignedIP}} when used with two parameters, but the ordering of the parameters is reversed. The resulting display is the same. These templates may be useful when copying and pasting from the edit history, where the timestamp appears before the username.

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
{{subst:unsigned2|date|username or ip}} {{subst:unsigned2|08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)|Example}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Example (talkcontribs) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)
{{subst:unsignedIP2|date|IP address}} {{subst:unsignedIP2|08:33, 6 December 2021|}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)

The template {{xsign}} is a wrapper for {{unsigned}} and {{unsignedIP}} that will parse the username and date string copied and pasted directly from the edit history. The resulting display is the same.

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
{{subst:xsign|date/username string}} {{subst:xsign|08:33, 6 December 2021 Example}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Example (talkcontribs) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)
{{subst:xsign|date/IP string}} {{subst:xsign|08:33, 6 December 2021}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)

It is also a good idea to notify users, especially new users, that they should sign their comments. You may use the template {{uw-tilde}} on the user's talk page or one of the welcome messages for new users.

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
{{subst:uw-tilde}} {{subst:uw-tilde}} Information icon Hello and welcome to Wikiafripedia. When you add content to talk pages and Wikiafripedia pages that have open discussion (but never when editing articles), please be sure to sign your posts. There are two ways to do this. Either:
  1. Add four tildes ( ~~~~ ) at the end of your comment, or
  2. With the cursor positioned at the end of your comment, click on the signature button OOUI JS signature icon LTR.png located above the edit window.

This will automatically insert a signature with your username or IP address and the time you posted the comment. This information is necessary to allow other editors to easily see who wrote what and when.

Thank you.

{{subst:uw-tilde|Article|Additional text}} {{subst:uw-tilde|Article name|Comments go here.}} Information icon Hello and welcome to Wikiafripedia. When you add content to talk pages and Wikiafripedia pages that have open discussion (but never when editing articles), such as at Article name, please be sure to sign your posts. There are two ways to do this. Either:
  1. Add four tildes ( ~~~~ ) at the end of your comment, or
  2. With the cursor positioned at the end of your comment, click on the signature button OOUI JS signature icon LTR.png located above the edit window.

This will automatically insert a signature with your username or IP address and the time you posted the comment. This information is necessary to allow other editors to easily see who wrote what and when.

Comments go here.

Also, the template {{undated}} can be used at the end of comments where the user gave his or her username but no timestamp:

Wikimarkup Resulting code Resulting display
{{subst:undated|date}} {{subst:undated|08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)}} —Preceding undated comment added 08:33, 6 December 2021 (UTC)

Automatic adding of signatures[edit source | edit]

The bot SineBot signs comments on talkpages and pages in Category:Non-talk pages that are automatically signed, for unregistered users and users who have fewer than 800 edits. To re-enable autosigning of your unsigned comments, you can place {{YesAutosign}} on your user page or user talk page.

Dealing with problematic signatures[edit source | edit]

Wikiafripedia's Username policy describes accepted practices and behavior in naming and operating a user account on Wikiafripedia that apply to both usernames and signatures. A purpose of your signature is to identify you as a contributor. If your signature is unnecessarily confusing, editors may request that you change it. Our guidelines for talk page usage also permit editors to change signatures that contravene this guideline back to the standard form. An editor with a confusing signature may be blocked sooner than usual for other inappropriate behavior such as disruption or vandalism, if their confusing signature contributes to the disruption.

Signatures that link to, but do not display, the user's username (for example by signing with a nickname, as in [[User:Example|User:Nickname]] or [[User:Example|Nickname]]) can be confusing for editors (particularly newcomers). The actual username always appears in the page history, so using just the nickname on the relevant talk page can make your signed comments appear to be from a different person. Alternatives include changing your username and including your account name in addition to the username, e.g. in the form [[User:Example|User:Example]]/Nickname.

All signature timestamps must end with the trailing "(UTC)". This is mandatory and required by archiving bots for them to function correctly. Signatures that interfere with the archiving bots are considered disruptive and editors may be blocked for it.

Persistent failure to sign after being reminded may become disruptive and be subject to sanctions.

History[edit source | edit]

UseModWiki, the wiki software in use on the English Wikiafripedia from its inception to 25 January 2002, did not have markup to create a signature, so signatures had to be made manually where desired. (c.f., for example, several such signatures in this diff et al.) The modern tilde feature was a part of the earliest MediaWiki coding from mid-2001; the original developer of MediaWiki, Magnus Manske, intended it to resemble scribbled physical signatures like that of his father.[Note 2] Images in signatures have been banned since 2006, but had been discouraged beforehand.

The concept of not signing one's contributions to the main namespace has also not always been here. The first ever revision to the page WikiPedia, from 15 January 2001, indicated that "You can [write an article] anonymously or give yourself credit," and indeed several pages from early 2001 have signatures at the end of them, such as here and here.

See also[edit source | edit]

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. If your browser is set to not show pictures, the button will be called "Your signature with timestamp". If the browser's settings don't allow JavaScript, the buttons will not appear.
  2. See this Twitter exchange for further information.