Signing your posts (on all talk pages) is an important aspect of WikiHowTo's developed etiquette, and an essential aspect of the community communication that helps articles to be formed and developed. Discussion helps other users who are reading talk pages to understand the progress and evolution of a dialogue, and to better offer their help, and to easier judge users who are accountable to their comments.

Because of this necessity, MediaWiki developers created a very easy way to create signatures. To automatically sign your posts with a date-stamp, add four tildes (~~~~) at the end of your message; or add three tildes (~~~) to add just your name. (In general, using the full date-stamp is preferred.) Some editors have a special key or menu selection for inserting a Wikipedia signature. (E.g., there is a Wikipedia Extension available for the Mozilla Firefox browser which adds this and many other Wikipedia-specific functions to the right-click menu whenever you are editing a Wikipedia article.)

Basics Edit

Here's a list of all the signature options:

What you type What will be stored What shows on the page
~~~ [[User:Kingturtle|Kingturtle]] Kingturtle
~~~~ [[User:Kingturtle|Kingturtle]] 04:40, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC) Kingturtle 04:40, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
~~~~~ 04:40, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC) 04:40, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

See also: Automatic conversion of wikitext in Help.

If you chose to contribute to WikiHowTo without logging in, the tildes will be converted to your IP address to be displayed as your signature. (An account actually provides you with more anonymity, if you are concerned about IP privacy issues.) You can also consider manually signing your posts with a pseudonym or tag such as --anon (although your IP address will still be stored in the page history if you edit without logging in).

If your preferred signature consists of non-ASCII characters (Chinese for example), you are encouraged to use ASCII characters in them as well. This is because not everyone can view certain characters, and instead may find a box or other replacement where the non-ASCII character would properly be.

Customizing your signatureEdit

Registered users can customize their signature by going to Special:Preferences and changing the field "Nickname". The software automatically places "[[User:<yourusername>|" and "]]" around the text entered in this field, so that whatever nickname you choose to use as a signature will be linked to your user page. Although not a policy, it seems to be common practice (and common courtesy) to use a signature name that is either identical or closely related to your account name, or to use your real name.

If you want to use a more complex signature (for instance, including a link to your talk page), you can choose the "Raw signatures (without automatic link)" checkbox in your Preferences. Just fill the "Your nickname" field with your desired signature, exactly as you want it to be substituted for the tildes. Note that some older ways of doing it do not work anymore — see Howto fix your signature if you are having problems.

Please note that the inclusion of images in your signature is discouraged -- it is distracting to many users, puts a small but unnecessary drain on the servers, and can badly distort the normal display of talk pages (especially if the image link should become broken, or the viewer has images turned off in their browsers).

Note that the talk link is somewhat "disguised" in some signatures -- it might look like a last name, or even the last letter of a name, or a single symbol. Hovering the mouse pointer over the link should tell you (in a tooltip, browser status bar, or other) whether the link is pointing to "User", "User talk", or something else.

Things to avoidEdit


There are several objections to having images in signatures. In particular, they are said to cause server slowdown, and to serve no purpose in a project other than vanity in addition to making pages more difficult to read. There have been some calls for banning them entirely; some people have objected to such a ban, arguing it would stifle creativity.


It is possible to be playful with the signature, for example by including ornamental Unicode characters (☻♂♖♥★, etc.) and using <font> HTML tags to change the color and/or size.

However, images in the signature are discouraged for several reasons:

  • they use additional server resources
  • they can reduce searchability and make it more difficult to copy text from a page
  • they are potentially distracting from the actual message
  • in most browsers, images do not scale with the text, making lines with images higher than those without.

Your signature also should not blink, as this annoys many other editors. Neither should it be too long (long signatures with lots of HTML/wikicode may make page editing more difficult), nor contain <big> tags (produces big text), or line breaks (<br> tags)


Please try to keep signatures short, because very long signatures cloud up the page source in edit mode, making it harder for other editors to find where your comment stopped. Both images and long signatures carry the danger of giving undue prominence to that user's contribution. Reduce it to the minimum necessary.


Avoid using page transclusion or templates for signatures (like those which appear as {{User:Name/sig}}, for example). These are avoidable drains on server resources. Transcluded signatures require extra processing and, whenever you do change your signature source, all talk pages you've posted on must be re-cached. One can imagine the impact if these kinds of signatures were in common use. Signature templates are also vandalism targets, and will be forever, even if the user leaves the project. Simple text signatures, which are stored along with the page content, use no more resources than the comments themselves and avoid these problems.

If you really must use a userpage as a source of boilerplate for your signature, at least substitute it so it is only transcluded once, for example {{Subst:User:Name/sig}}.

External linksEdit

Mass posting of links to a particular website is strongly discouraged on WikiHowTo. Posting a link to an external website with each comment you make on a talk page is usually viewed as 'linkspamming' or an attempt to improve your website's ranking on search engines. Therefore, signatures should not include external links. If you want to tell other Wikipedians about a good website that you are associated with, please do so on your user page.

If your signature does not seem to be working Edit

Changes to the MediaWiki software that runs Wikipedia have caused some older users' signatures to display incorrectly. See Howto fix your signature for assistance.

More about Talk pagesEdit

See Help:Talk page for accepted conventions and guidelines regarding the use of talk pages.


This howto is adapted from

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