IP users, guest users or unregistered users are users who edit Wikipedia without registering for an account. The term "IP user" comes from the fact that when such a user edits, Wikipedia annotates the edit with the IP address of the computer from which the edit was made where, if the user were logged in, it would show the user name of the editor who made it. These substitutes for user names may have the following general IPv4 or IPv6 forms:
x.x.x.xwhere x is a number bigger 0 and smaller than 255
y:y:y:y:y:y:y:ywhere y is a number between 0 to 65535, written in hexadecimal
The IP user edits are estimated to constitute one-half (54% in 2013) of the general username activity levels. So, among the total daily edits, then about one-third are posted by IP users, while 2/3 (~67%) are logged to specific usernames each time.
While registered editors only occasionally possess one or two legitimate alternate usernames, IP users frequently contribute from different IP addresses because Internet service providers (ISPs) usually assign IP addresses dynamically; meaning that the same actual person may return to Wikipedia with a different IP address. The IP user who created articles "Édith Piaf" and "Maria Callas" was over 100 other IPs, looking like "100 newcomers" in general. Because the dynamic IP addresses change with every edit, or every day, the short-term editing by such IP users bolstered the myth that Wikipedia was primarily written by passing strangers or newcomers who quit after a few days and rarely returned. Instead, the repeated edits to the same pages, by numerous "different" IP users, can be deduced as the same users re-editing a common page when using another IP address.
About IP addresses in general
About editing Wikipedia with or without an account
- Advice for parents - A brief introduction to Wikipedia for parents and legal guardians.
- Contributing to Wikipedia - A page that explains how and where you can help Wikipedia.
- Deleting and merging accounts - A page that explains why it is not possible to delete user accounts and the alternatives available.
- Personal security practices - A page that explains how caution should be used when posting personally identifiable information online.
- Privacy, confidentiality and discretion - A page that explains how your rights to privacy may not extend as far as you believe.
- Request an account - A page that explains how any editor may request an account be created for them.
- Why create an account? - A part of the FAQ that talks about the reasons to edit as a registered user.
- Why not create an account? - A humorous page that talks about the reasons to edit as an IP.
- Wikipedia is in the real world - A page that explains how activity here on Wikipedia has consequences in the real world.