Users can send emails to other users via the built-in email facility on Wikipedia and any of its sister websites. Both the sender and recipient must have provided email addresses in their preferences. The sender's username and email address are disclosed but not their IP address. (Note that replying "the wrong way" can disclose personal information—see Privacy issues below for how to avoid this if needed, when you reply).
Emails sent using Wikimedia's mail facility are private. Their contents cannot be read by administrators or anyone else, even to check for appropriateness, so only limited help is possible if the feature is being abused. It is possible for users able to access the CheckUser tool to confirm if and when a user sent any emails, but not the content of the emails. In the event of abuse, threats, or harassment through this facility, users may contact any administrator for advice and assistance (by email or any other way, if they wish, in order to keep it private). In more serious cases they should email the Volunteer Response Team for help.
Users have the right to disable the email facility on their account at any time (and can ask users who email them to communicate on-wiki instead), although users active in roles that require accepting of user email should probably consult appropriately first (on or off wiki). Use of the email facility can also be disabled by any administrator as part of blocking an account, although usually this is only done if the blocked user has abused or is likely to abuse the email facility.
There are some important "best practices" about this facility – Wikipedia is designed to work based upon public dialog, so communication between users is often better if it's in public (on users' talk pages or elsewhere on Wikipedia's talk and project pages), where others can review and note them. This is especially the case where improper use might later be claimed (canvassing, harassment and so on); this would not be possible to claim if the posts are on the website itself. Also, unlike messages on the website, messages via email are not subject to Wikipedia's free license and therefore are copyright by their sender, and should not be pasted onto the website in a way that breaches copyright law.
General information about the Wikimedia email facility
If you've added and confirmed an email address in your user preferences, you can exchange emails with other Wikipedia accounts using the Wikipedia interface. To send an email to another Wikipedia account, simply visit your correspondent's user page, and click on the "Email this user" link that is located in the "toolbox" on the left-side navigation menu. This link is only present if the correspondent has enabled the "Allow other users to email me" option in their user preferences. The email address that you've set and verified in your user preferences will be provided to the recipient so that they can respond to you directly. It will appear in the "From" address of the email they receive, so that the recipient can easily respond just by clicking "reply".
Users who have openly disclosed their email addresses can be emailed directly. However, Wikipedia does not encourage such open disclosure. Emailing users through Wikipedia is a privacy feature that protects your email address from spam.
Wikipedia emails are sent immediately when you click on "send". You can set your preferences so that you'll also receive a copy of every email you send; if you don't choose this option, this can still be done for individual emails. It may be useful at times to leave a brief message with a courtesy notification on the recipient's user talk page that you've emailed them, as some users may not check their inbox regularly.
A link to the email feature can be created in text or a signature by typing
Enabling and disabling user email
Email is disabled unless you specify and verify an email address with your account. This can be done while you are setting up your account for the first time, or at any time by adding one to your user preferences. Your preferences can be accessed from the top-right corner of any page on Wikipedia while you're logged into your account. If you are enabling the ability to send emails to other users, MediaWiki requires you to verify that the email address you provide actually belongs to you. It will do this by sending a confirmation email to the address that you provided. Simply access your email's inbox, open the confirmation message, and click on the link that is provided in the message. The link will navigate you to the Wikipedia site, which will mark your email address as 'confirmed' and inform you of the successful completion of the process. The confirmation link will expire seven days from the time that it was generated and sent to you. If you don't click on the link within that time, you will need to have another one resent. See Help:Email confirmation for help and additional information.
Once you have confirmed an email address to your Wikipedia account, you may enable or disable the email ability by visiting "my preferences", and by ticking or un-ticking the "Allow other users to email me" option. You can also prevent users without the autoconfirmed permissions level from emailing you by un-ticking the "Allow emails from brand-new users" option.
Prohibiting email from specified users
If you have the email preference enabled, you can specify usernames which you do not want to be able to send you emails. These users will not see the "Email this user" link on your user page and will see a standard error message when using Special:EmailUser as if your entire email preference has been disabled.
Emails triggered by watchlist and notifications are not affected by this preference.
Reposting emails publicly
There is no formal consensus by the community regarding the act of reposting private off-wiki correspondence onto public Wikipedia locations, or the restriction or prohibition of the exercise thereof. However, it is often considered to be an unacceptable action for legal reasons. Unlike edits and posts to Wikipedia's web pages, emails that are sent through the email facility are not automatically "freely" licensed by the sender, and therefore, reposting the messages or correspondence to a public Wikipedia location would suggest or imply to any and all readers that the text is freely licensed for reuse and republication by its author, which is generally not the case.
Users who feel that they are allowed to repost text from an email or other off-wiki source, or that doing so is necessary or the right to do so given a certain situation, discussion, report, or event, are advised to take extreme caution, and to consult with other trusted and experienced users before doing so, in order to ensure that the act will not accidentally create a problem for themselves, or create a negative perception or result in negative consequences. This might involve consulting, or asking the sender if they will allow the email to be quoted under Wikipedia's license in a post on Wikipedia's discussion pages. Note that this only applies to reposting on Wikipedia and its sister projects – other forms of quoting which do not involve risk of copyright breach (such as forwarding the text to an administrator for advice, or quoting words or brief phrases in a way that constitutes Fair Use) are generally unaffected by this concern.
Privacy issues and protecting personal information
Sending an email via the Special:EmailUser system will disclose your email address for the purposes of a reply, but no other information will be provided by the system to the recipient. (Note that emails sent this way are private – they are sent as written, as a private communication between willing parties who have agreed to send and receive emails.)
If you receive an email via this feature, it is important to know that you are not obligated in any way to reply or respond to the message. If you do wish to respond to the user, you may do so in three ways:
- By replying with your email client
This will disclose whatever information your emails usually contain, including your email address. It may contain your IP address, or a signature line, or time zone, or the like.
- By visiting the user page of the sender, and using the "Email this user" feature
This will disclose nothing except your email address. You can do this by visiting the sender's user page (their name will appear in the header or footer of the email), then selecting "Email this user" from the "toolbox" on the left of the page.
- By replying to their message on Wikipedia (usually done by visiting the editor's user talk page)
In some cases, you may wish to leave a note on their user talk page, for example, to inform them that their email was received, or to provide a brief response there. Since communication using email is usually performed (as opposed to starting a public discussion or correspondence on Wikipedia) in order to facilitate private communication or to discuss private or confidential matters, it is often courteous to keep such replies made on Wikipedia as brief as possible and without disclosing private details or breaching any level of privacy or confidentiality as possible, since the sender will usually expect such details or information to be communicated back to them using private channels.
If you receive an objectionable email through this system, you should contact an administrator, possibly by email, to ask advice. In serious cases you may wish to escalate the matter, especially if there is a pattern of harassment involved. Please note the following:
- Do not post the email on-wiki without permission
You should not post the email itself on the wiki without permission (although you can describe briefly in summary what it contains or shows). This is partly due to copyright concerns, given that Wikipedia pages can be re-used by anyone. For information on posting emails on Wikipedia in general, see WP:POSTEMAIL.
- You can prevent specific users from emailing you
See Prohibiting email from specified users for instructions.
- Email can be disabled at any time
See Enabling and disabling user email for instructions.
- Retain objectionable emails in case they are needed
You may need to refer to them again. At a minimum, consider saving the email header and text for future reference.
- Do not disclose any personal information disallowed on Wikipedia
Posting real names or email addresses not previously and voluntarily disclosed on Wikipedia can be considered outing. Such information may be communicated privately to the Arbitration Committee.
- General email information
- Wikipedia pages related to email functionality
- WP:POSTEMAIL, policy discussing the issue of posting emails and other private correspondence on Wikipedia, particularly: