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The Wikimedia movement is founded on a simple, but powerful principle: we can do more together than any of us can do alone. We cannot work collectively without gathering, sharing, and analyzing information about our users as we seek new ways to make the Wikimedia Sites more useable, safer, and more beneficial.
We believe that you shouldn't have to provide personal information to participate in the free knowledge movement. You do not have to provide things like your real name, address, or date of birth to sign up for a standard account or contribute content to the Wikimedia Sites.
We do not sell or rent your nonpublic information, nor do we give it to others to sell you anything. We use it to figure out how to make the Wikimedia Sites more engaging and accessible, to see which ideas work, and to make learning and contributing more fun. Put simply: we use this information to make the Wikimedia Sites better for you.
After all, it's people like you, the champions of free knowledge, who make it possible for the Wikimedia Sites to not only exist, but also grow and thrive.
Because everyone (not just lawyers) should be able to easily understand how and why their information is collected and used, we use common language instead of more formal terms throughout this Policy. To help ensure your understanding of some particular key terms, here is a table of translations:
|When we say...||... we mean:|
|"the Wikimedia Foundation" / "the Foundation" / "we" / "us" / "our"||The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., the non-profit organization that operates the Wikimedia Sites.|
|"you" / "your" / "me"||You, regardless of whether you are an individual, group, or organization, and regardless of whether you are using the Wikimedia Sites or our services on behalf of yourself or someone else.|
|"contributions"||Content you add or changes you make to any Wikimedia Sites.|
|"personal information"|| Information you provide us or information we collect from you that could be used to personally identify you. To be clear, while we do not necessarily collect all of the following types of information, we consider at least the following to be “personal information” if it is otherwise nonpublic and can be used to identify you:
|"third party" / "third parties"||Individuals, entities, websites, services, products, and applications that are not controlled, managed, or operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. This includes other Wikimedia users and independent organizations or groups who help promote the Wikimedia movement such as Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups as well as volunteers, employees, directors, officers, grant recipients, and contractors of those organizations or groups.|
Where community policies govern information, such as the CheckUser policy, the relevant community may add to the rules and obligations set out in this Policy. However, they are not permitted to create new exceptions or otherwise reduce the protections offered by this Policy.
Types of Information We Receive From You, How We Get It, & How We Use It
Your Public Contributions
The Wikimedia Sites were primarily created to help you share your knowledge with the world, and we share your contributions because you have asked us to do so.
When you make a contribution to any Wikimedia Site, including on user or discussion pages, you are creating a permanent, public record of every piece of content added, removed, or altered by you. The page history will show when your contribution or deletion was made, as well as your username (if you are signed in) or your IP address (if you are not signed in). We may use your public contributions, either aggregated with the public contributions of others or individually, to create new features or data-related products for you or to learn more about how the Wikimedia Sites are used.
Unless this Policy says otherwise, you should assume that information that you actively contribute to the Wikimedia Sites, including personal information, is publicly visible and can be found by search engines. Like most things on the Internet, anything you share may be copied and redistributed throughout the Internet by other people. Please do not contribute any information that you are uncomfortable making permanently public, like revealing your real name or location in your contributions.
You should be aware that specific data made public by you or aggregated data that is made public by us can be used by anyone for analysis and to infer information about users, such as which country a user is from, political affiliation, and gender.
Account Information & Registration
Want to create an account? Great! Don't want to create an account? No problem!
You are not required to create an account to read or contribute to a Wikimedia Site, except under rare circumstances. However, if you contribute without signing in, your contribution will be publicly attributed to the IP address associated with your device.
If you want to create a standard account, in most cases we require only a username and a password. Your username will be publicly visible, so please be careful about using your real name as your username. Your password is only used to verify that the account is yours. Your IP address is also automatically submitted to us, and we record it temporarily to help prevent abuse. No other personal information is required: no name, no email address, no date of birth, no credit card information.
Once created, user accounts cannot be removed entirely (although you can usually hide the information on your user page if you choose to). This is because your public contributions must be associated with their author (you!). So make sure you pick a name that you will be comfortable with for years to come.
To gain a better understanding of the demographics of our users, to localize our services, and to learn how we can improve our services, we may ask you for more demographic information, such as gender or age, about yourself. We will tell you if such information is intended to be public or private, so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to provide us with that information. Providing such information is always completely optional. If you don't want to, you don't have to—it's as simple as that.
Information Related to Your Use of the Wikimedia Sites
We want to make the Wikimedia Sites better for you by learning more about how you use them. Examples of this might include how often you visit the Wikimedia Sites, what you like, what you find helpful, how you get to the Wikimedia Sites, and whether you would use a helpful feature more if we explained it differently. We also want this Policy and our practices to reflect our community's values. For this reason, we keep information related to your use of the Wikimedia Sites confidential, except as provided in this Policy.
Information We Receive Automatically
Because of how browsers work and similar to other major websites, we receive some information automatically when you visit the Wikimedia Sites. This information includes the type of device you are using (possibly including unique device identification numbers, for some beta versions of our mobile applications), the type and version of your browser, your browser's language preference, the type and version of your device's operating system, in some cases the name of your internet service provider or mobile carrier, the website that referred you to the Wikimedia Sites, which pages you request and visit, and the date and time of each request you make to the Wikimedia Sites.
Put simply, we use this information to enhance your experience with Wikimedia Sites. For example, we use this information to administer the sites, provide greater security, and fight vandalism; optimize mobile applications, customize content and set language preferences, test features to see what works, and improve performance; understand how users interact with the Wikimedia Sites, track and study use of various features, gain understanding about the demographics of the different Wikimedia Sites, and analyze trends.
Information We Collect
Depending on which technology we use, locally stored data can be anything from text, pictures, and whole articles (as we explain further below) to personal information (like your IP address) and information about your use of the Wikimedia Sites (like your username or the time of your visit).
We use this information to make your experience with the Wikimedia Sites safer and better, to gain a greater understanding of user preferences and their interaction with the Wikimedia Sites, and to generally improve our services. We will never use third-party cookies, unless we get your permission to do so. If you ever come across a third-party data collection tool that has not been authorized by you (such as one that may have been mistakenly placed by another user or administrator), please report it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Provide you with a personalized experience, such as using cookies to know your language preference, to remember the user preferences you set so we can provide you with the customized look and feel that you want, and to tell you about interesting Wikimedia issues and events in your area.
- Understand how you use the Wikimedia Sites across different devices, so that we can make our varied Wikimedia Sites more efficient and effective for you.
- Make the Wikimedia Sites more convenient to use, such as by using cookies to maintain your session when you log in or to remember your username in the login field.
Want to know even more? You can read more about some of the specific cookies we use, when they expire, and what we use them for in our FAQ.
We believe this data collection helps improve your user experience, but you may remove or disable some or all locally stored data through your browser settings, depending on your browser. You can learn more about some options you have in our FAQ. While locally stored data may not be necessary to use our sites, some features may not function properly if you disable locally stored data.
While the examples above concerning information about you collected through the use of data collection tools are kept confidential in accordance with this Policy, please note that some information about the actions taken by your username is made publicly available through public logs alongside actions taken by other users. For example, a public log may include the date your account was created on a Wikimedia Site along with the dates that other accounts were created on a Wikimedia Site. Information available through public logs will not include personal information about you.
You have the option of providing an email address at the time of registration or in later interactions with the Wikimedia Sites. If you do so, your email address is kept confidential, except as provided in this Policy. We do not sell, rent, or use your email address to advertise third-party products or services to you.
We use your email address to let you know about things that are happening with the Foundation, the Wikimedia Sites, or the Wikimedia movement, such as telling you important information about your account, letting you know if something is changing about the Wikimedia Sites or policies, and alerting you when there has been a change to an article that you have decided to follow. Please note that if you email us, we may keep your message, email address, and any other information you provide us, so that we can process and respond to your request.
You can choose to limit some of these kinds of notifications, like those alerting you if an article changes. Others, such as those containing critical information that all users need to know to participate successfully in the Wikimedia Sites, you may not be able to opt out of. You can manage what kinds of notifications you receive and how often you receive them by going to your Notifications Preferences. You can learn more about email and notifications and how to change your preferences in our FAQ.
We will never ask for your password by email (but may send you a temporary password via email if you have requested a password reset). If you ever receive such an email, please let us know by sending it to email@example.com, so we can investigate the source of the email.
Direct communications between users (such as messages sent through the "Email this user" feature), to the extent such communications are nonpublic and stored in or in transit through Wikimedia Foundation systems, are kept confidential by us, except as provided in this Policy.
Surveys & Feedback
Participating in optional surveys or providing feedback helps us make the Wikimedia Sites better. Because every survey and request for feedback may be used for various purposes, we will tell you, at the time we give you the survey or request for feedback, how we plan on using your answers and any personal information you provide. If you don't feel comfortable with how we plan on using the survey or feedback results, you are not obligated to take the survey or give feedback.
GPS & Other Location Technologies
Some features we offer work better if we know what area you are in. But it's completely up to you whether or not you want us to use geolocation tools to make some features available to you. If you consent, we can use GPS (and other technologies commonly used to determine location) to show you more relevant content. We keep information obtained by these technologies confidential, except as provided in this Policy. You can learn more by checking out the list of examples of how we use these technologies in our FAQ.
Sometimes, we may automatically receive location data from your device. For example, if you want to upload a photo on the Wikimedia Commons mobile app, we may receive metadata, such as the place and time you took the photo, automatically from your device. Please be aware that, unlike location information collected using GPS signals described above, the default setting on your mobile device typically includes the metadata in your photo or video upload to the Wikimedia Sites. If you do not want metadata sent to us and made public at the time of your upload, please change your settings on your device.
Finally, when you visit any Wikimedia Site, we automatically receive the IP address of the device (or your proxy server) you are using to access the Internet, which could be used to infer your geographical location. We keep IP addresses confidential, except as provided in this Policy. For example, if you make a contribution without signing into your account, your IP address used at the time will be publicly and permanently recorded. If you are visiting Wikimedia Sites with your mobile device, we may use your IP address to provide anonymized or aggregated information to service providers regarding the volume of usage in certain areas. We use IP addresses for research and analytics; to better personalize content, notices, and settings for you; to fight spam, identity theft, malware, and other kinds of abuse; and to provide better mobile and other applications.
With Your Permission
We may share your information for a particular purpose, if you agree. You can find more information in the list of examples in our FAQ.
For Legal Reasons
We may access, preserve, or disclose your personal information if we reasonably believe it necessary to satisfy a valid and legally enforceable warrant, subpoena, court order, law or regulation, or other judicial or administrative order. However, if we believe that a particular request for disclosure of a user's information is legally invalid or an abuse of the legal system and the affected user does not intend to oppose the disclosure themselves, we will try our best to fight it. We are committed to notifying you via email at least ten (10) calendar days, when possible, before we disclose your personal information in response to a legal demand. However, we may only provide notice if we are not legally restrained from contacting you, there is no credible threat to life or limb that is created or increased by disclosing the request, and you have provided us with an email address.
For more information, see our Subpoena FAQ.
If the Organization is Transferred (Really Unlikely!)
To Protect You, Ourselves & Others
Wikimedia Sites are collaborative, with users writing most of the policies and selecting from amongst themselves people to hold certain administrative rights. These rights may include access to limited amounts of otherwise nonpublic information about recent contributions and activity by other users. They use this access to help protect against vandalism and abuse, fight harassment of other users, and generally try to minimize disruptive behavior on the Wikimedia Sites. These various user-selected administrative groups have their own privacy and confidentiality guidelines, but all such groups are supposed to agree to follow our Access to Nonpublic Information Policy. These user-selected administrative groups are accountable to other users through checks and balances: users are selected through a community-driven process and overseen by their peers through a logged history of their actions. However, the legal names of these users are not known to the Wikimedia Foundation.
We hope that this never comes up, but we may disclose your personal information if we believe that it's reasonably necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily harm or death to a person, or to protect our organization, employees, contractors, users, or the public. We may also disclose your personal information if we reasonably believe it necessary to detect, prevent, or otherwise assess and address potential spam, malware, fraud, abuse, unlawful activity, and security or technical concerns. (Check out the list of examples in our FAQ for more information.)
To Our Service Providers
As hard as we may try, we can't do it all. So sometimes we use third-party service providers or contractors who help run or improve the Wikimedia Sites for you and other users. We may give access to your personal information to these providers or contractors as needed to perform their services for us or to use their tools and services. We put requirements, such as confidentiality agreements, in place to help ensure that these service providers treat your information consistently with, and no less protective of your privacy than, the principles of this Policy. (Check out the list of examples in our FAQ.)
To Understand & Experiment
The open-source software that powers the Wikimedia Sites depends on the contributions of volunteer software developers, who spend time writing and testing code to help it improve and evolve with our users' needs. To facilitate their work, we may give some developers limited access to systems that contain your personal information, but only as reasonably necessary for them to develop and contribute to the Wikimedia Sites.
Similarly, we may share non-personal or aggregated information with researchers, scholars, academics, and other interested third parties who wish to study the Wikimedia Sites. Sharing this information helps them understand usage, viewing, and demographics statistics and patterns. They then can share their findings with us and our users so that we can all better understand and improve the Wikimedia Sites.
When we give access to personal information to third-party developers or researchers, we put requirements, such as reasonable technical and contractual protections, in place to help ensure that these service providers treat your information consistently with the principles of this Policy and in accordance with our instructions. If these developers or researchers later publish their work or findings, we ask that they not disclose your personal information. Please note that, despite the obligations we impose on developers and researchers, we cannot guarantee that they will abide by our agreement, nor do we guarantee that we will regularly screen or audit their projects. (You can learn more about re-identification in our FAQ.)
Because You Made It Public
Any information you post publicly on the Wikimedia Sites is just that – public. For example, if you put your mailing address on your talk page, that is public, and not protected by this Policy. And if you edit without registering or logging into your account, your IP address will be seen publicly. Please think carefully about your desired level of anonymity before you disclose personal information on your user page or elsewhere.
How Do We Protect Your Data?
We strive to protect your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. We use a variety of physical and technical measures, policies, and procedures (such as access control procedures, network firewalls, and physical security) designed to protect our systems and your personal information. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as completely secure data transmission or storage, so we can't guarantee that our security will not be breached (by technical measures or through violation of our policies and procedures).
How Long Do We Keep Your Data?
Once we receive personal information from you, we keep it for the shortest possible time that is consistent with the maintenance, understanding, and improvement of the Wikimedia Sites, and our obligations under applicable U.S. law. Non-personal information may be retained indefinitely. (Check out the list of examples in our FAQ.)
Please remember that certain information is retained and displayed indefinitely, such as your IP address (if you edit while not logged in) and any public contributions to the Wikimedia Sites.
Where is the Foundation & What Does That Mean for Me?
Our Response to Do Not Track (DNT) signals
Because we protect all users in this manner, we do not change our behavior in response to a web browser's "do not track" signal.
For more information regarding Do Not Track signals and how we handle them, please visit our FAQ.
- In the event of substantial changes, we will provide the proposed changes to our users in at least three (3) languages (selected at our discretion) for open comment period lasting at least thirty (30) calendar days. Prior to the start of any comment period, we will provide notice of such changes and the opportunity to comment via the Wikimedia Sites, and via a notification on WikimediaAnnounce-L or a similar mailing list.
- For minor changes, such as grammatical fixes, administrative or legal changes, or corrections of inaccurate statements, we will post the changes and, when possible, provide at least three (3) calendar days' prior notice via WikimediaAnnounce-L or similar mailing list.