Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive B

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Avenues for handling the ever-increasing size of VFD

For a good deal of time, we've been certain that there's a problem with how we handle deletions. The one that most people are sure about is that VFD is getting too big to handle. There are, of course, those who claim that VFD is an anachronism, useless, etc. (these people are often those residing in the extreme inclusionist camp), but their views don't carry wide support among the community.

Naturally, we've had proposals combatting the problem of an ever-expanding VFD, some of which can be viewed on Wikipedia talk:Candidates for speedy deletion, Wikipedia:Managed Deletion, Wikipedia:Categorized Deletion and Wikipedia:Preliminary Deletion. I originally wrote the following essay rebutting some common objections against Preliminary Deletion, but I found that the ideas outlined within would give a very good idea of where we could steer policy-writing in the future, regardless of Preliminary Deletion's outcome. Thusly, I have decided to share this with the community at large, since I believe that as our community grows, so will the size of VFD, and by extension our problem with maintaining such a behemoth.

[responding to the suggestion of expanding speedy deletion criteria]

Shall we rereview the results of Managed Deletion? I'd love to expand speedy deletion criteria, but that proposal would get shot down easily. There's a reason why nobody's drafted such a proposal — nobody but a few deletionists (or centrists leaning towards the deletionist side) want it.

The largest complaint about Managed Deletion was that it placed too much power in admins' hands. A good part of the community distrusts three admins to handle a deletion, so our alternative is to let one admin decide? That makes even less sense.

There's another compelling reason not to expand speedy deletion criteria. We might expand them, but the inclusionists always whine about the deletion of prose. It's one thing to delete "ioshgohgoaghoeg". It's another to delete a paragraph or two which some inclusionists might actually claim to be notable; these are borderline cases which some admins delete, but some admins don't. Expanding the speedy deletion criteria destroys the beautiful, if flawed, process of VFD.

Now, I'm going to discourse on why VFD is one of those genius-istic systems that some recognise and some don't, much like the U.S. Electoral College. VFD is not merely a place to delete articles. VFD is a place where borderline articles are placed when people don't know what to do with them.

For example, take a poorly written article on some rather obscure subject, say, a 1920s Bulgarian actor well known within his home country only, for pioneering filmmaking there. Google probably won't yield too many results on him. It may look like vanity. So following our current system, an editor places it on VFD, which basically advertises to Wikipedia: "Hello, I'm an article which is so confusing, nobody knows what I'm about or whether I should even be here. Can somebody help sort me out?" Anyone who knows the actor can easily describe how he is encyclopedic and should be kept.

Speedying full-fledged prose destroys this process, and as such, is probably not too feasible.

[responding to charges against Preliminary Deletion, such as "confusing bureaucracy", "instruction creep" or "too many problem resolution pages"] <snip>

Wikipedia is growing. We're getting more visitors. The population always contains a few baddies. At first we had one or two baddies, nothing our system couldn't handle. But as we grew bigger and bigger, we got more baddies, because we got more visitors. The percentage of baddies remains fixed, but not the total population. So naturally, we had to expand our systems for handling baddies as we grew larger.

Now, I'd say our current system is not scaling. Look at the debates on VFD. There are many contentious ones; however, there are always a few cases where practically everyone is for deleting the article; an obvious violation of policy, for example, such as irredeemably POV articles, or original research, or simply vanity pages. It's impractical to have them cluttering VFD, which is already damn bloody long to read, thank you.

So, our system simply isn't scaling. We will need to tackle this eventually, because people on dial-up simply cannot participate in VFD. Categorising VFD (another proposal) is an excellent start. But we will need to add extra pages. There is no doubt about this at all. We will need to expand our system for handling these, because there will be more people adding vanity pages, which will lead to more listings on VFD, which will lead to an extremely long page that only those on broadband can even read.

We have to cut down the size of VFD. The only way to cut down its size is to cut down the pages nominated, or move them elsewhere. The only way to cut down the amount of pages listed would be to loosen our policies, which surely a lot of people would oppose, or to develop other avenues for listing them, which leads back to "move them elsewhere". So it's your choice, folks. Either you centralise everything on one monolithic page, or you categorise deletions in some manner.

(this essay was originally posted on Wikipedia talk:Preliminary Deletion/Vote) Johnleemk | Talk 11:32, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I don't think the main objection to managed deletion was that it gave admins too much power, but that it privileged them by excluding non-admins from a voting process. Maybe a managed deletion path without this privileging of one grouping might be accepted? (Disclosure: I'm an admin, but not a member of any Cabal, as far as I know.) Filiocht 13:17, Nov 1, 2004 (UTC)
You know, Filiocht, I thought I was distinctly non-Cabalistic, if not unclubbable, until I wrote the Managed Deletion proposal and was called a Cabal member. The thing about the Cabal is that it's defined by the people who aren't in it. Anyway, the reason for admin-only was that I wanted it to be a form of expanding Speedy without the arbitrariness of "kill on sight" that ought to be really horking off inclusionists (if people only knew what they weren't seeing on VfD). I wanted a way for dangerous stuff and stuff that gamed us to go away, but with a consensus, and I structured the process so that any disagreement defaulted to VfD so that there couldn't be abuse. The reason I didn't make it open to all was that I thought the authors would vote "keep," and even a single keep vote punted to VfD. Also, I thought there were some people who might make it a point of pride or principle, because they don't think anything should be deleted, to go through and cast serial "keep" votes. That would have rendered the page nil. That's why I didn't have it open to all. There is another way, and that's to have a set of "Electors." I described this on the talk page to Johnleemk's proposal, but I gather he didn't like it, either, and it would definitely mean more beaurocracy. Geogre 01:57, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Electors are even more cabalistic, even if there is no cabal. We need to tailour proposals people can swallow. The thing is, as someone said elsewhere (can't remember where I read it), Wikipedia is so divergent now that it may be nigh-on-impossible passing any new policies in the near future, since there will always be a substantial amount of people you can't please (well, enough to prevent consensus at any rate). I find it close to hilarious people are calling Preliminary Deletion confusing or overly bureaucratic. I'm as fed up with red tape as the next person, but to me it seems people have taken advantage of this poll to vent their anger with the increasing bureaucratic procedures we have. I mean, you're able to boil down the policy itself to one sentence! And the additional "extras" are only one or two sentences more. How can this be complicated? I intentionally decided against using your suggestion, Geogre, not because I didn't like it, but because I know how afraid people are of bureaucracy. It's overly complicated, and people won't trust it. I'm extremely frustrated about how that despite the fact that we need to change our policies to keep up with an expanding Wikipedia, a substantial niche of people who have their own ideas (ideas ranging from the wildly inclusionist to deletionist that will get a lot of "no" votes if they're ever put to the vote) are holding up the majority who agree with a particular proposal. If 70% "yes" votes is the best a proposal as simple as this can muster, I wonder how "expanding speedy deletion" will go if it's ever polled for. Expanding speedy deletion gives one admin the vote. It doesn't just exclude non-admins; it excludes all admins but the one who stumbled upon the article. Johnleemk | Talk 08:47, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Now this is going to be hard for me to write, as I feel I'm going against my instincts, but maybe the answer is to just give up? I mean that maybe current VfD setup is the least possible evil? As someone who has tended to avoid the page for a long time now, I may be in no position to talk, but if an alternative solution is so hard to come up with, maybe that's because there is no alternative than to fight the good fight on an article by article basis? Or to accept that Wikipedia will never be an encyclopaedia in the conventional sense and that there will always be articles that I feel have no place here but that have a lot of support from others? In other words, if this place remains a process, thaen the presence of crap is less of a problem than it would be if it ever becomes a product. Of course, if it does ever become a product, I can imagine that a small group (2 or 3 people) will make some very hard-nosed decisions about what to keep and what to dump. Filiocht 09:03, Nov 2, 2004 (UTC)
Well, Filiocht, after the failure of Managed Deletion, I just wrote articles for a couple of weeks, ignoring all else. I was even tempted, when writing, to say what the inclusionists say, "Someone will fix it" and write whatever crap my memory dumped out. I didn't. I researched. I was careful, but it's just as discouraging to know that one's attempts to be precise, to think about one's prose, are of no more value than "Melissa Doll is an erotic model. She is very popular." Why work, when the work has no value? Why not just litter the site with the eager fever of self-fame? Do the best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity? If they are, what can we do but step up?
So I have returned to VfD. Article by article. Checking in every :30 or every :60, because otherwise it's too long in new listings alone to manage. I have gone back to being Jack Ketch on the CsD page, though I don't do New Page patrol enough. I don't know what else there is to do, when Johnleemk is right: there are enough people of any point of view who are filled with zeal enough to kill all policy changes.
Johnleemk, I came to the conclusion that speedy expansion was impossible before I wrote the Managed Deletion. On the proposal page, you'll see a bunch of admins agreeing. People will suggest new criteria, and they'll have a civil discussion (see the talk page of my old Managed Deletion -- very constructive and sane), and then it gets to a vote. When it gets to a vote, a host of people are marshalled from the void to not just vote "no," but scream "no" (see -Sj-'s taunting on the subject of extending the vote period on Managed Deletion on the vote page).
My sad assumption is that there is going to be a point where only beaucrats, if not just admins, will have to make non-democratic (not unilateral) decisions. The reason is just that we have policies set up for the days when Wikipedia wanted to grow, when it was vital not to scare away contributors. It was well crafted, over time, for that. Well, we have contributors now. Now, we have a steady enough base and a large enough inventory that we need quality rather than quantity, but our rules are still set up so that no one can be scared off, where all is entirely democratic. I'm for democracy, of course.
As for the Elector thing, it's pretty democratic, but it adds paperwork, no doubt. I don't even think, btw, that anyone is really worried about that. I think that's an excuse. Geogre 13:56, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree with you (but I still can't stomach a full-time return to VFD) in general, but...I don't ever see the community adopting any of these measures. Like I said, if people think Preliminary Deletion is confusing, complicated and bureaucratic, wait till they vote on the elector system. It doesn't stand a chance as the situation is now. Johnleemk | Talk 16:43, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Messages in the article namespace

Now that there are so many sources of these messages (stub, various COTWs, Countering systemic bias, more I do no know?), I'd like to propose that all such messages (yes, including the stub message) should be posted on the article talk pages from now on. If we do not tell readers on the article page that we think an article is good (the feature message), why do we tell them when we think one is rubbish, or too short? They might even work out the short bit for themselves. Do we need a poll? Filiocht 08:21, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)

Featured articles don't need a message because they are the most evolved of the artices, and therefore need less work. The stubs and CSB messages need to be on the article page because they highlight the the shortcomings of the article, and encourage others to improve them. And if they were on the talk page hardly anyone would see this.- Xed 10:01, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Totally disagree. Editors read talk pages and information for editors can quite happily go on talk pages. Pcb21| Pete 10:13, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Editors read talk pages, but often only if there is an indication on the article page that something is wrong. Xed 10:50, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Concur with Xed. --Improv 20:28, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Many templates by their addition on the main article page include the article in a category. We would need to have invisible templates to be added to the article page to add the category and alert editors to the status of the page. Actually, in general, I don't think it would be very workable to remove templates from the article pages - rather I would prefer to see the FA template being included on the page (and hey, that will suitably embarrass people enough to remove FA status if the page degrades). The NPOV dispute template or protected message are there to warn readers too for example. zoney talk 09:27, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Is there a problem with having the talk pages inside those categories, which are categorizing metadata, not article content, anyway.
On the latter point, it seems clear to me that all those messages are for the benefit of editors not readers. Pcb21| Pete 10:13, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
We have a guideline that says that tags that are for editors should go on the talk page and I would suggest that the stub and cotw tags fall into this category. The guideline implies that tags for readers should go in the article and I would suggest that the FA tag falls into this category. So I wonder, why ddo we post them the wrong way round? I agree with Pete re the categories. Filiocht 10:15, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
You're missing the point. The stub messages and so on are, effectively, apologies. Readers seeing a crappy incomplete article would tend to overgeneralize and think all Wikipedia articles are crappy and incomplete. The message tells them, 'This isn't our best article, we're still working on this one, don't consider it representative.' Derrick Coetzee 14:37, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Equally, the other messages might be read as sending messages to the readers. My point is, why are some messages accepted on article pages while other, equally valid, ones are not? Specifically why flaunt apologies and hide the FA message? Filiocht 14:42, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
Featured articles don't need a message because they are the most evolved of the artices, and therefore need less work. The stubs and CSB messages need to be on the article page because they highlight the the shortcomings of the article, and encourage others to improve them. And if they were on the talk page hardly anyone would see this.- Xed 14:48, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You are saying that editors don't read talk pages. If this is true, and I don't think it is, it would be better to promote to use of talk pages again rather than pollute articles with non-article metadata. Pcb21| Pete 14:54, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
"This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by fixing it." Sounds like a message to editors to me. Pcb21| Pete 14:50, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
By definition. And often on articles that are actually quite complete. And if FAs do not need tags, why does {{FA}} exist? Article pages should represent the current state of the article, no more, no less. All the meta stuff belongs on the talk page. Filiocht 14:55, Oct 20, 2004 (UTC)
Note that {{FA}} *is* generally on talk pages. The battle of where to put the template has been won in that case, but the war about all the other templates is apparently still going strong. Pcb21| Pete 15:11, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
YM {{featured}} HTH. {{FAC}} and {{farc}} also go on the talk page, as does {{COTW}}.
I am persuaded of the rationale for a short message on an article's main page (rather than talk page) to explain to the reader that an article is shorter than may be hoped for (i.e. a stub message); similarly if there is a problem with POV or disputed facts then we (rightly) have messages that go on an article's main page to alert the reader, and these issues are generally dealt with quite quickly. However, stubbiness, POV, disputed facts can be tested reasonably objectively, whereas systematic bias is much more subjective. I don't think it helps the reader very much to know that a topic is (allegedly) subject to systematic bias. -- ALoan (Talk) 15:34, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Systemic not systematic. A description of the difference is on WP:Bias. -- Xed 15:44, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Can't see the difference, to be honest - if the system creates a bias, that is a systematic bias, whether it is deliberate or not. How does a systemic bias differ? -- ALoan (Talk) 18:30, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
PS - both are redirects to bias which was in cleanup, and I have subsequently edited it a bit - if you want to explain the difference between systemic bias and systematic bias, you could do it there and expand the article at the same time. -- ALoan (Talk) 19:29, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Why are you persuaded of the rationale for putting stub messages? If an article is short, the reader can clearly see that for themselves.
As for the pov messages, they are always put there to placate editors who are at war, not to help readers out (in fact it may even hinder readers whomight then suppose articles without this message have been ticked off as neutral). Pcb21| Pete 17:40, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Because, as Derrick Coetzee points out above, stub messages are effectively apologies to readers so they know that the stub is not typical (actually, at the moment, quite typical, but there is some good content too...) and to encourage them to have a go at filling it out. -- ALoan (Talk) 18:30, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I have to agree with ALoan and Derrick Coetzee. The very first article I edited was one that was marked as a stub that I felt I could shed additional light on. If the stub message wasn't there, and thus wasn't inviting me to put in my two cents, I probably never would have started contributing. --HBK 05:12, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Filiocht that the policy on this subject needs some clarification, although I'm not sure I agree with his suggestion. As has already been pointed out in this discussion there are quite a lot of tags on article pages, and many seem to be intended mainly for editors. This probably explains why those of us involved in the CSB discussion on the templates and their use didn't really see any big problem with pasting them to article pages. For me, the main argument is that it would serve Wikipedia in the long run to encourage editors to expand on lacking articles, and that tags on article pages will be a more effective way of doing that than tags on talk pages.

I also think that the CSB Article tag (that says "This is an article targeted by the WikiProject Countering systemic bias as in need of expansion") fills a purpose as an excuse, and perhaps a hint at an explanation, to a reader discovering that important African profiles and huge labor organizations only have semi-stubs, when Wikipedia has half a novel on each and every obscure programming language and Middle Earth creature. The wording was chosen on the basis that it makes a non-POV statement, instead of a value judgement such as "this article is too short". Currently, there doesn't even seem to be any generally accepted way to alert the reader to the fact that an article is short in relation to the subject matter it's dealing with, if it isn't short enough to be called a stub.

The other CSB template, called Limited geographic scope, fills another important reader information function. It highlights the fact that although the article is about a seemingly general topic, "the general perspective and/or specific examples represent a limited number of countries". This is very common (for some examples, take a look at Lawyer, Gang or Student activism) and can potentially irritatate and alienate a large number of readers and potential contributors. The template could be seen as a sort of "internal stub tag", indicating that important parts on the subject is dealt with in a stubby way or not at all.

The above is an attempt to explain some of the reasoning behind the well-meaning initiative that some fellow Wikipedians have chosen to call SPAM in capital letters. This does not mean that I don't see the other side of the argument. Neither does it mean that I won't accept not being allowed to paste CSB templates wherever I see fit. I'd just like some constructive dialogue on better ways to handle the problems this initiative made a serious attempt at addressing. I would welcome any wording suggestions that might lead to templates filling the purposes outlined above being generally accepted. Alarm 18:59, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Part of the problem, I think, was the rather prominent nature of the templates used. The stub template is a short italicised sentence, no images, no box, no colour, and quite easy on the eye. I applaud your sentiments, but, for example, I was somewhat surprised to see that a prominent "CSB" notice had suddenly appeared at the top of the the current COTW, African Union, dwarfing the rather discreet "Current COTW" tag. (As an aside, if you doubt the efficacy of COTW, you only need to see how African Union and Congo Civil War have come on.) -- ALoan (Talk) 19:29, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You should give the efficacy of CSB a chance. - Xed 20:03, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Oh, I think it is an excellent project. I just don't think it needs banner templates at the top of articles to achieve its objective. -- ALoan (Talk) 20:38, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Why not give the templates a chance? What's the worse that could happen - Wikipedia gets better articles? - Xed 21:08, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Because (a) I think they are information for the editor, not the reader, and so should be on the talk page not in the article itself; and (b) I think they are too intrusive and detract from the content, which is, after all, the article, not the template. The worst that could happen is that readers see the banner and don't bother to read the article because it is marked as containing systemic/systematic/whatever bias. -- ALoan (Talk) 21:18, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
So is it just a design issue? It's too big? - Xed 22:15, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The worst that happens is that you spam articles, and effectively enclose them, withyour own POV judgement which remains there for all time. And then along come 101 other projects which do the same thing, until the wikipedia starts looking like a parade of worthy but misguided project adverts, beneath which, if you look hard enough, you'll find an article. It is not a design issue; in the case of CSB it is a POV issue. More generally it is a policy issue. --Tagishsimon

This should not degenerate into a spat over a particular template. The issue here is consistency. I contend that his is lacking in the current situation. Filiocht 07:34, Oct 21, 2004 (UTC)

Again, my contention is that a reader will assume an article is representative of Wikipedia content unless we indicate otherwise. In the case of a featured article, this is a good thing — we don't want to ruin their good impression of the project as a whole by saying, 'You might like this one, but this article is better than all the others.' With incomplete, highly biased, or factually incorrect articles, it's just the opposite — a notice to editors on the page tells the reader that the page is still being worked on and shouldn't be considered reliable or representative. Also, since readers are often interested in topics they look up, it strongly encourages readers to become editors, just as red links do. Other messages do not share this property. Derrick Coetzee 07:48, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Similar cases could be made for other messages and personally I don't buy them. Also, there are repeated debates over what a stub is, with many articles potentially being incorrectly tagged. Once again I state: IMHO, we need consistency, a consistent and clearly stated policy. The steps towards this goal, as it see them, are: 1) define which messages are for readers (as opposed to for editors). 2) recast policy so that only these messages appear on the article page. 3) institute a mechanism whereby new messages can be caterorised as talk page or article page messages. Filiocht 08:03, Oct 21, 2004 (UTC)
I could easily mark hundreds of articles with a template that says that the article is crap, in my opinion, in one way or another. Or I could put them on cleanup. Most of us don't do that. We gradually try to improve articles in areas we know and create new ones. We don't stick ugly apology notices on them. And I am tired of the argument that stubs and poor articles and blank links are good because they encourage new editors. By that logic, what you need are more systemic biased articles not less. A difficulty with templates is that it they are easier to put on than remove. It isn't worth a possible fight to try to remove them. But every supposed new problem that comes up has someone proposing another ugly template to mark the supposed problem, to alert readers that this especially needs to be fixed. Stop all ugly tagging of articles by template warriors. Fix it yourself, or send it to cleanup and mark it with a template for that purpose, or leave it alone. If a project plans to work on a particular series of articles, list them on the project talk page. Stop SPAMMING me through templates that I have some duty to work on something just because there is a template on it. Or add a feature to turn off all editorial template display and make it the default. In the case of stub templates often placed by someone who obviously knows nothing about the subject. Templates that mark that an article is listed on a dispute page or on cleanup or on VfD or copyvio are a different matter. There is some way of knowing when they should be removed. But when does a systemic bias template get removed: when Xed, according to his POV, indiosyncratically says it should? Or are there going to countless editorial fights over template removals? Wikipedia supposedly doen't allow tailored messages to be written within a article to be visible in normal viewing. Why should less helpful untailored templates be allowed? Get rid of this junk POV advertising. Jallan 00:57, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Once again: my suggestion was not about one message, it was about all messages. I could mirror Jallan's rant substituting the stub message for the bias one, but that gets us nowhere. I'd now ask anyone posting here to read the original question first. Filiocht 08:32, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)

Flash policy?

What is the wiki policy about including Flash (.swf) animations in an article? 17:00, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm not aware of any policy, but I'd call it unusual, but not discouraged. However, there should be some explanation of it for people without Flash, just as images have alt text. Derrick Coetzee 17:35, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • I would hope to see it forbidden -- it can offer very little useful content, is very nonportable to other formats, is impossible to translate, and is further difficult to edit. Allowing such things on Wikipedia would be terrible for the project. --Improv 05:44, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The main problem I see is that editing Flash requires a proprietary tool. I strongly disagree with "can offer very little useful content." To the contrary, sites like Mathworld use a variety of Java applets where Flash would work just as well. Also, even images share the problems of difficulty in editing and translation, but at least image editors are free and ubiquitous. Derrick Coetzee 15:49, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As previous posters have mentioned, Flash is too proprietary to be a good fit for Wikipedia. I doubt people would actually remove a Flash thingie from an article, but I think many people would work pretty hard to code a replacement, and put that in instead. So it's more like, please think really hard before doing it, and do it only if you really need to. (And expect it to be replaced, ASAP) JesseW 15:09, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I'd say, keep the whole thing banned. Animations have no place in an encyclopedia. Gotalora 02:42, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with this statement. Superfluous animations are distracting, but animation is a valuable tool for informing people in many cases. Encarta contains animations, Mathworld contains animations, and there are animations demonstrating a variety of academic concepts all over the web in math, physics, computer science, chemistry, and just about everything else.
Unfortunately, every widely-supported format for animations on the web is encumbered with problems. GIFs have patent (and size/smoothness) problems, MNGs are unsupported, Flash is proprietary, Java is heavyweight, and Javascript/DHTML are nonportable. If there were a standard for animations I can think of a number of articles that would benefit from them. Derrick Coetzee 03:17, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The GIF patent has expired. Animated GIFs are fine from a patent perspective. A free equivalent for Macromedia Flash (whether it uses Flash format or SVG) would be wonderful, but I'm not holding my breath... --Robert Merkel 12:40, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Internal combustion engine is a perfect candidate for an animation, as is Lunar phase. The problem being, as others have said, an open format. I'm a little disappointed that neither page has any external links, animations or not! -- Chuq 03:11, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Four-stroke cycle contains an MPEG animation that I made. It'll be great once browsers support native SVG well, and/or when Theora becomes a practical reality. As a graphic artist, though, I definitely agree that animation can convey a quality of understanding that images and text alone cannot; it's mainly because of the current lack of a good free format (and upload size limitations) that I haven't made many others. I don't care much if Flash is allowed or banned, since I don't use it, but I think in cases where we have a GPLed or permission-granted Flash animation that would help convey a difficult math or mechanical concept, we should use it until there is a better alternative. -- Wapcaplet 17:08, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC) uses Flash very well in explaining a variety of topics. Examples: Home Networking, Internal Combustion, and Earthquakes. I'm not sure if a propreitary format like Flash belongs in Wikipedia but there's no doubt in mind that it is possible to use it to improve articles, especially technical articles. Salasks 03:08, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

SVG is now usable. You can get sodipodi and do drawings in it (not also Inkscape but I haven't tried that yet). It's then possible to animate them by hand editing. Since SVG is already avaialable as a plugin (I admit I'm using adobe's non free one) and will soon be available in mozilla by default, it is probably time to start to use it in Wikipedia. Using it will encourage its adoption. Mozzerati 21:38, 2004 Nov 24 (UTC)

Template inside signature

There are problems about use of this type of template in signature? --[[User:Archenzo|Archenzo >> ]] 13:32, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I believe there is a limit as to how many times templates can be repeated on a page, so if you were to sign the same page multiple times, the template will stop working after the fifth occurance. I believe the name of the template is then shown instead. zoney talk 13:55, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Um, what sort of problems? One that I know of (and why I stopped using a template in my sig) is that it only works for the first five times on a page--after the same template appears more than five times on a page, it does not get expanded properly. I understand that this is a setting in the Mediawiki software. olderwiser 14:01, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)

Not to mention that they are just damned annoying. Images like this draw attention. When I'm looking at a talk page, the fact that YOU have been there is not so bloody important as to deserve such visual prominence. -- Jmabel 18:25, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)

Seconded! This Unicode characters/images/tables/etc in signatures crap needs to DIE DIE DIE. Garrett Albright 05:32, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Just for the record your signiture contains 16 unicode characters without the datestamp. -- Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:24, 2004 Oct 24 (UTC)
Thirded. It's damn annoying, to tell the truth. I'd rather have everyone put a link to their Talk page instead. So much more convenient, and practical as well. Johnleemk | Talk 11:35, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think i heard in #wikipedia that in MediaWiki 1.4 the 5 template limit won't be there (they have a differnt solution for infinite loops), then using templates in sigs will work fine (which I intend to do since my sig is very long :) siroχo 08:16, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)

If your signature is very long, you probably shouldn't use it. --Spug 10:51, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Many thanks! This was an experiment. The template is not now in my signature.--[[User:Archenzo|Archenzo ( Talk)]] 13:16, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

From the heart, thank you A"shii"baka 20:45, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I believe the guidelines need to be a tad clearer concerning deletion, redirection, or merging of fancruft articles. Pages have been made on minute characters from shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Animaniacs, DuckTales and Tiny Toon Adventures that do not belong here. Some, like the ones from Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, can be easily deleted, because the same information can be found on the show's main page. Others, like Buffy, have literally dozens of such pages to their name with a lot of information on them. Some have said that they could be moved to "minor character" gatherings on single articles, which has already been accomplished for shows like South Park. I think that's a good idea, but it still remains to be fancruft that makes little sense to anyone else, and even in these circumstances, I don't think deletion is out of the question. Any thoughts? Ian Pugh 17:23, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

  • I'm noticing a lot of heat (and very little light) on the subject of fancruft lately. It seems to me that a lot of people are forgetting that Wikipedia is not simply a place to find out information on subjects of which one already knows: it is also a place to discover new information. Wikipedia is not paper. Something to be borne in mind is the plan to make Wikipedia available—presumably on DVD—in places where there is no connection to the Internet; in this context Wikipedia needs to be able to stand more alone than usual. --Phil | Talk 10:29, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • One compromise that has been reached, in the case of The Apprentice, has been to do just as you described -- move minor character information into a list page, or the main page, if sufficiently small in amount. One of the problems in making this kind of judgement is finding a principled position covering, say, Mr. Spock, Jigglypuff, and Kylantha. Figures such as Mr. Spock may have some significance to the general populance -- it could be said that he's the most famous fictional character from sci-fi. On the other hand, there's little reason we should know the entire fictional career. This brings to mind a question -- should the content of the article be related to the scope of notability? Particular, if person A, real or not, is notable for X, should we go much beyond X in describing them? How much detail do we want? We might, for example, decide that blood type, date of birth, first love, favourite foods, resume, family tree, and similar all belong on Wikipedia for someone who happens to be notable for something, or we might establish a rule of thumb to deal with this kind of thing. This is what I'd advocate, roughly -- if we can't explain why Jugglypuff or Kylantha are notable to society, they should not have an article, and if they do have an article, it should not go too far beyond a through exploration of the ties to notability. Thoughts? --Improv 18:12, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • I don't mind including fan information on various fictional universes. Wikipedia doesn't have a page count limit, and it frankly makes it a richer encyclopedia. The widespread coverage of J.R.R. Tolkein's fictional universe, for example, has probably brought in a lot of Wikipedia users, who then go on to edit other (even non-fiction) articles. In my mind, the biggest problem is that if minor characters have their very own article entry, and they might intersect with other entries, soon just about any entry will be ambiguous. If they're a minor character, it's probably worth considering putting them in a main article on their source. In any case, I think Wikipedia should cover all knowledge... even the knowledge of fictional universes. Let's face it, the world of literature is wide and influential, and ignoring it will ignore things that are important to many. To deal with size of printed materials, the real need will be to make sure that these things are categorized well.. then a printer can automatically remove them if desired. Besides, if this is the worst problem for Wikipedia, things are going really well. -- Dwheeler 03:13, 2004 Oct 8 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not paper. Fancruft is fine IMO if the article is really well written and if the subject deserves an article longer than a stub. Tempshill 00:01, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • It's also important for the writers to maintain a sense of context. This is, after all, a general encyclopedia. People need to remember that a wolverine was a species of carnivore long before it was the name of a Canadian mutant. MK 04:25, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • Since we don't currently have a problem with too much content, I think minor character fancruft should be left alone unless it requires a disambiguation page, at which time those involved should decide if it should be consolidated. Otherwise, leave it alone. It lets people get angry about how biased wikipedia is, favoring US TV shows over whole continents. (This is reasonable, but the answer is too add more material, not remove existing material.) ;-) JesseW 07:41, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Has anyone considered moving the stuff over to wikibooks? That seems like the best and most appropriate place for the minutiae that don't fall into the "encyclopedic" category. —Mike 00:42, Oct 12, 2004 (UTC)

If an article about fancruft has potential to become encyclopedic or is encyclopedic, and the piece of fancruft is of reasonable notability within the surrounding fandom, I see absolutely no reason to delete it. If its a stub, you can of course merge it to some list. Wikipedia is not paper, and one of its greatest attributes is being able to have thousands upon thousands of articles about topics that people enjoy but a normal encyclopedia doesn't have space for. I don't understand the need to purify Wikipedia of any unimportant and not-so-notable topic. Half the point of it is to include all of those. siroχo 11:36, Oct 19, 2004 (UTC)

The idea of a separate wiki for such material is sort of appealing (mostly because hopefully there no one would use the term fancruft, which has very negative connotations in my mind). However, I don't like it as any sort of solution the way the current system works. (How does one move articles from one to the other? How does one get to one from the other? What if I want to link to information about Maglor from the Wikipedia article on Fëanor? For that matter, how to do I find the article on Maglor if I'm searching from here? What if I don't know enough about the subject to know which wiki I should look it up in?) We would also have to determine where to draw the line, which would be just as messy as the VFD notability discussions are today.

Of course, I do believe in merging small articles into larger, more useful articles. I'm working on convincing enough of the other Middle-earth editors. ;) [[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 00:20, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Solution suggestion: I believe in classification. If everything has a classification then when making a CD or custom version of wikipedia one may automate the process of selection. I would assume such automatic selection would work better if things are in separate articles. --Gbleem 03:00, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Queen's v American English

See Received Pronunciation for "Queen's English".

This topic must have been covered before somewhere else. I'm noticing a lot of centres, metres, harbours, and judgements going on in Wikipedia articles alongside centers, meters, harbors, and judgments. Is there an ongoing discussion about using Queen's versus American English, or has this already been decided somewhere? If anyone can just point me to a discussion already in place I'd appreciate it. Thehappysmith 15:10, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I do not remember where I saw it (a quick look around turns up nothing), but I believe the policy is that each article should be consistent. For example, if an article uses "metre" then use the British forms. If an article uses "meter" then use the U.S. versions of words. Do not add "kilometre" to an article talking about "meters" because it is not consistent. John Gaughan 15:17, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The basic standard is, be consistent within the article, and for articles with a clear British interest, go with that spelling (i.e. London), and for articles with a clear American interest (i.e. Mt. St. Helens), go with American spelling. --Golbez
Just a few comments:
  • I hadn't heard the form of english spelling used outside of North America called "Queens English" before. To me (an Australian) I thought "Queens English" meant a form of english speech, such as using "one" to refer to the first person among others. I normally call what is referred to as "Queens English" in this post, "International English".
  • I changed cubic kilometer to cubic kilometre in Mt. St. Helens a few days ago, because cubic kilometer was redlinked, and because I thought international measurements should match international spelling, and US measurements should match US spelling. It got changed back, but i didn't stress about it.
  • "For articles with a clear British interest".. I would think that should be "For articles without a clear US interest", as everywhere else (I'm not sure about Canada) uses that form.
  • What combination of US/international spelling/measurements does Canada use? Actually nevermind, I'll go read the articles and find out :)
-- Chuq 02:51, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes, this person has misinterpreted the term "Queen's English", which refers to a rather specifically aristocratic UK form.
  • cubic kilometer should redirect to cubic kilometre. The latter looks quite foreign to a U.S. eye.
  • "For articles with a clear British interest" should probably be something like "For articles with a clear British Commonwealth interest". But if you think that, as a Yank, I'm going to trouble myself to neatly write in Commonwealth English when I'm writing about Argentina or Romania, you're out of your skull. Topics with no strong connection to the English-speaking world are just going to reflect their primary authors' preferences.
  • Yeah, Canada's somewhere between. I believe that no one but those who've grown up with it cna comfortably reproduce a specifically Canadian English. -- Jmabel 02:04, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)
Whilst agreeing with the most of the comments raised above, I personally suggest that, wherever possible, words and phrases should be chosen so they aren't particularly UK/US/another form of English. For instance - instead of 'organisation' or 'organization', you can use 'group', don't refer to a 'public' school, but use 'private' school instead. Don't refer to meters or cubic metres, m or m3 is easy enough to have in their stead. Sometimes this isn't possible, and the flow of the article is more important than thinking of a universally accepted alternative word/phrase. But wherever possible, use a linguistically neutral term. jguk 20:54, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I disagree completely, I think that tends to make for flaccid prose. -- Jmabel | Talk 01:46, Oct 18, 2004 (UTC)
I also disagree - particularly because of the school thing. A public school and a private school are completely opposite things to me. Chuq 00:23, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
When using the term "public school" you really have to be careful. There are completely different meanings in US and UK usage. If the term is used in an article, a description needs to be added to make it clear what is meant by it. Otherwise the article will be seriously misleading to many. jguk 04:58, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)
For that matter, anyone who's dealt with Latin America knows that U.S. English is the dominant form, Limey detractors aside. A. D. Hair 03:34, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

I've copied the following from User talk:Tim Starling#Suggestion I posted on the Village pump bcz of its importance as a policy matter, not merely a no-brainer for Tim to implement. --Jerzy(t) 01:45, 2004 Oct 27 (UTC)

There was a discussion about spelling and punctuation AE vs. BE etc.. on the village pump. I put forward the following suggestion. Tell me what you think.
This whole AE/BE preference problem is something that has probably got up the nose of very many Wikipedians over there years. I'm certainly one of them. I have a proposal for a relatively simple software solution that may be useful in other areas too. Some time ago we managed to kill off the debate about whether to use [[DD Month]] [[YYYY] or [[Month DD]], YYYY by implementing a system whereby wikified dates appear in one or other format depending on what the user has selected in their preferences. This works great but it only works for wikified dates. My solution world also work for unwikified dates. If we had a BE/AE option in preferences we could then have the flag checked when an article is displayed. Problematic words or phrases could be tagged e.g. "... he came to her {[defense/defence]} as soon as he could and ..." - and the appropriate word could be chosen as required.
Mintguy (T) 14:15, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • IMO, this is a terrible idea because it tries to impose a mechanical solution on a fuzzy problem. For instance, a UK buddy observed that i was mad keen about something. I use American English, so when i say i'm mad keen about anything, it would be a falsification of my intent to say, e.g., that i'm really hot for it. Similarly, i was taught that in AE, the first E is optional in both "judgement" and "arguement", which i take as evidence of reconvergence of the two dialects; the 'Net should logically be expected to be accelerating that in any case. We denigrate machine translations into English, and so we should, even more, unnecessary machine translations between these two mutually intelligible dialects. [Post by Jerzy(t) interrupted here by Mintguy's comment.]
My intention was to put this to Tim and for him to guage the feasibility. I would have preferred if you had not copied this here and then posted negative comments particularly as I don't think you have read my suggestion correctly. I don't quite understand what you are trying to say above. I am not suggesting that we have an automtic machine translation. It would merely be presenting some individually selected words (of the editors' choice) as AE or BE depending on the user's preference. To use your own words - It is a fuzzy solution. Mintguy (T)
This seems like a great solution to me. If an American finds an article that is written completely with British spellings, words, and phrases, or vice versa he or she could go through and edit all offending words to reflect either dialect based viewer preference. Examples: {[br:colour/am:color]}, {[br:centre/am:center/ca:centre]}, {[br:pram/am:stroller]}, I'm {[am:bent on/br:mad keen about]} making this clear. This solution would leave the ultimate decisions to the author(s) and editor(s), but would allow everyone to have it both ways. Sowelilitokiemu 10:21, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Along similar lines:

  • If editors who use Commonwealth English want a separate 'pedia, perhaps the current en: should become American-English only (and probably become ae: or something), and i'd join a corps of translators shuttling article back and forth, but i prefer that we speak, in our choice about that, for what is probably the future, and stick to pretty much the policies we now have. [Here Mintguy interrupts Jerzy(t) again.]
This comment exemplifies EXACTLY the point that everyone is complaining about. You are inferring the American English is the norm - and that us outsiders should branch off - when infact AE is the exception to most of the rest of the world. Mintguy (T) 09:12, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • BTW, my quick read didn't quite satisfy me that anyone had enunciated what i thot was clear, and what i endorse: if the subject matter doesn't impose a logical choice of language, the original author's dialect should be retained. Two reasons i favor that are that it is even-handed, and that it offers a healthy incentive to Yanks to nurture their grasp of the Mother Tongue.

--Jerzy(t) 01:45, 2004 Oct 27 (UTC)

Or to Brits to nurture their grasp of the fact that their dialect is no more valid than American, especially considering there are almost 300 million of us to less than 100 million of you. Sowelilitokiemu 10:21, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Personally, as an effort to counter the 'perceived America-centric bias' -- even though I am an 'American', I prefer to write in British English when writing, unless it seems to me that doing so will make it seem like a British imposition of viewpoint. I'm not thoroughly versed in the nuances of Britsh spellings versus American, but it's one way I try to fulfill the goals of CSB project. Question: Is 'King's English' similar in connotation to Queen's English'?Pedant 18:23, 2004 Nov 3 (UTC)

Yes - when Charles, Prince of Wales, or Prince William of Wales, becomes King, then we will speak (well, might aspire to speak) the King's English; officers in the British armed forces will take a King's commission; part of the High Court will be the King's Bench Division; we will have King's Counsel rather than QCs; and so on. -- ALoan (Talk) 18:49, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Queen's/King's English is the form of English spoken in England, and in the vast majority of the world. Much as I (being British) prefer to see the international form on pages, I recognise that it could cost Wikipedia contributors, and is thus probably something that all contributors/readers will have to put up with. It seems ridiculous to suggest one Wikipedia for Americans and one for the rest of the world, just as it seems ridiculous to have some articles which need to have American spellings just as the article is American-focused (or focussed!). For example, I expect just as many non-Americans view the George W. Bush page as do Americans. For my part, I shall continue to use the international varient. However, it would not be possible to have the (many) American contributors checked for every article they write. My solution: grin, bear it, and fix any broken links with redirects. --Smoddy 17:06, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It is certainly not true that Queen's English is spoken in the vast majority of the world. I live in France, and have yet to hear a French person speak with the Queen's English! In fact, it is rather rare in the UK as well.... "Estuary English" seems to be far more common. Certainly in the U.S. and Canada, in Central and South America and even in Germany, Taiwan and China, most people speak English with a North American accent, not a British. But this discussion is pointless. Written English is still a single language with only some minor differences, and we all understand each other; that's the most important thing. People who are native English speakers should write in their own VARIANT of correct English; people who are not native English speakers should write in the English they feel comfortable with; everyone should stop casting aspersions on other native speakers who are writing as they were taught in school. Specifically, British people should stop criticizing Americans for not writing British English. There are historical reasons for the difference in our writing. Noah Webster (1758-1843) lived through the American Revolution, created the first American dictionary, and decided while compiling it that Americans should not write English the same way as their former enemies. Even though I, personally, would have preferred to have kept the old British spelling, American spelling is now correct usage for Americans. Words that are different in the two languages have all arisen since Shakespeare and therefore the British cannot claim that "car boot" is intrinsically better English than "car trunk" (although I agree that "lift" is a better word than "elevator"!). Everyone here should realize that there are literate (and polite) people on both sides. --Evangeline

21:41, 18 Nov 2004

I agree with you entirely that we should not worry about others' particular mannerisms of spelling English. I quite agree that we should write in whichever style of English we feel comfortable with. If someone else finds the result difficult to understand, it can be changed. British English is the most common form, but, in general, American English is, at worst, comprehensible to an International English speaker.

Someone suggested American English is the dominant form in light of Latin American speakers. This reasoning is invalid. The whole body of speakers of a language do not make it what it is, any more than the whole body of users of Windows determine what it is. The programmers of a language are those who learn it as their first language (and the speakers don't even vote with their pocketbooks, by helping pay these "programmers" for their services). (A tiny minority of those for whom it is a second-language can also contribute as significantly; such people are so rare as to be notable, and Jack London might be one, for English.)

Even the exception to this principle sharpens the point: when a creole (language) emerges from a pidgin (non-language), the only role that the speakers of the pidgin take in the process is specifying the vocabulary. The pidgin-speakers each learned a different language from their parents, and may have contributed some vocabulary to the pidgin, but if they learn the creole, it is as a second language, from the next generation. It is those who learned that vocabulary from their pidgin-speaking parents who build a language on top of it.

Who are the "programmers" of English? There are some in India, Pakistan, and so on, but predominantly the

  • nearly 290 M in America,
  • nearly 61 M in UK,
  • nearly 32 M in Canada,
  • nearly 20 M in Australlia, and
  • nearly 4 M in New Zealand.
  • [3? M Republic of Ireland]
  • [6? M South Africa] who's mother tongue is English
  • Assorted others on other islands around the world.
  • How many mother tongue English speakers in India and Pakistan?
  • How many mother tongue English speakers in Hongkong etc.

It's probably far from true that that means 290 M speaking American English and 117 M speaking the same Commonwealth dialect, but even so

  • these two or five or dozens are just dialects, not languages, and
  • they are mutually intelligible, and
  • they have become more mutually intelligible in recent generations, especially since commsats and the 'Net.

I would not consider reading the "Erosion of British English usage and spellings" referred to above (unless someone assures me that it is mistitled and really concerns "Progress in Reunification of the Dialects of English"). Otherwise, its authors are in the dustbin of language history, with

  • Noah Webster,
  • a Führer who decreed, for instance, the use of "Fernsehapparat" in lieu of "Television",
  • the French Academy,
  • the Serb and Croat politicians who geared up for their respective hours of national glory by inventing two new languages and decreeing which Serbo-Croatian words were insults to each respective national glory,
  • the Quebecois politicians who are now a quarter century into the emergency that overrode the civil rights guaranteed to their linguistic minority, and
  • the Bush-leaguers who are doing their best to ensure that ESL elementary-school children sink if they can't swim in English.

Wikipedia is one of the reasons that individual dialects of English are blurring together; the internationalization of film is a far bigger one. Relative populations, the coherance of a single state, and (for a while still) per capita income, are going to give American English an influence in the result that is in many ways excessive and unfortunate. But languages, like species, evolve in response to real needs; don't forget that Yank arrogance has been insufficient to prevent the eager incorporation of "boondocks", "ketchup", "zen", "taco", "karma", and "Wanderjahr", to seize casually upon just a handful.

Any notion that planning how WP should handle dialect differences can matter in the long run is just plain silly, in ignoring the nature both of WP and of language.
--Jerzy(t) 19:04, 2004 Nov 19 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Tutorial_(Keep_in_mind)#U.S._English_vs._British_English has summary and link to full policy. Niteowlneils 19:55, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sexuality in biographies

I note that the reference to G. H. Hardy's homosexuality, a trait ascribed to him by a number of people who knew him (Snow, Littlewood, Turing) has been removed from his biography. This has been done not because the information was not correct, but because this sort of information is not regarded ny some people as suitable to a biography. Why is this, and is this any kind of policy? If it is a policy, what precisely is the policy and what is its basis?

I note for example that Michelanglo's biography discusses his sexuality extensively, and Swinburne's mentions masochism. Is this because it is considered relevant to the artist? Hardy was also a literary figure, and his romanticizing of Ramanujan's remarkable gifts might well have something to do with his sexuality both directly and indirectly.

Some random comments: I think it's unquestionably necessary for at least some biographies — Alan_Turing#Prosecution_for_homosexuality.2C_and_Turing.27s_death, for example. For other people, it's less clear cut. My personal opinion is that you have to answer at least two questions:
  1. Why are we interested in this person? Is there interest in the person themselves, or are they primarily known for an important contribution? For example, people are intrigued by Turing's life beyond his contributions to logic, computer science, etc.
  2. What kind of impact does their sexuality have on the "reason for interest"?
For a famous mathematician, such as Hardy, you could argue that his (rumoured?) sexuality was a private matter and of no relevance to his work or how he came to be famous. You could, I guess, also argue that there is now a wider interest in the details of Hardy's life, so it is worth mentioning — it's notable if someone is homosexual in a culture where it was considered atypical, taboo or even illegal (making it much more notable than if he were heterosexual). We do, after all, include other "life-trivia" such as "Hardy never married, and in his final years he was cared for by his sister." — Matt 10:38, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

As I pointed out, Hardy is also a literary figure; his A Mathematician's Apology is still in print after 64 years and is considered a classic; Graham Greene calling it "the best account of what it is like to be a creative artist". To say that he never married amounts to a wink and a nod under the circumstances; isn't it better simply to come right out with it? In any case it seems at least as relevant as his fascination with cricket or his atheism. User: Gene Ward Smith

So long as someone's sexuality is not the focus or most emphasized aspect of their biography on any article here, there is no reason why their sexual and other preferences should not be mentioned, particularly when, as Matt noted, they were taboo or illegal (which was the case with homosexuality in England at the time). It does seem silly to mention it in biographies of very recent Western celebrities however, because they don't face the same challenges and mentioning it seems like overemphasis (IMO)... - Simonides 23:27, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
They don't face the same challenges, but they usually face different ones. For popular entertainers it can influence how closely they guard their privacy; for political figures it has bearing on their policy positions (e.g. either explaining why a conservative Republican favored a gay rights bill, or casting doubt on his integrity if he did not). Shying away from that particular aspect of the person's life when other aspects are discussed implies that it is scandalous or offensive (a POV with which I disagree). In most situations, I don't think that merely mentioning a person's homosexuality is "overemphasis" any more than mentioning another person's apparent heterosexuality (by referring to his wife and seven children). It's simply objective honesty. And I think we're a long way from the point where a homosexual or bisexual orientation really isn't significant to a person's biography; someday when biographers are working on the Wikipedia entries, books, biopics, videogames, and holonovels about me, they're going to find my sexual orientation far more interesting and informative about me than the city or the specific year in which I was born, or what the names of my sisters were. Tverbeek 02:04, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Also don't underestimate the influence this can have on young gay people, who will most likely not be told anyone in history is gay in schools. While it may not be at all relevant to the person's work it is sometimes very relevant to readers as it may give them something on which to relate. - [[User:Cohesion|cohesion ]] 06:06, Oct 5, 2004 (UTC)

Just to play devil's advocate for a moment; should a person's heterosexuality be mentioned? My own view is that for Oscar Wilde, for example, his sexuality is relevant because it played a major part in his public life, but for many other figures it isn't. Wikipedia is not here to provide role models but to be an encyclopaedia, at the end of the day. Filiocht 11:22, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Well, if their heterosexuality is somehow notable, yes. For example, if (as I believe) Aubrey Beardsley was heterosexual (and if we can get a reasonably authoritative statement to that effect), that would merit mention, since his close association with Oscar Wilde and the aestheticist movement would probably make people guess otherwise. -- Jmabel 01:58, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)

In my opinion, homosexuality or bisexuality should be mentioned if there is some proof of it aside from rumors and urban legends. In the past, when homosexuality have been illegal, there have been truckloads of malicious rumors that have been used for defamatory purposes. They are not necessarily based in fact. I have also seen unfounded claims (althought I have not noticed any in Wikipedia as of yet) that most of the famous historical people have been closet homosexuals, which is about the same thing in reverse. If the persons have clearly had same-sex beloveds or have clearly indicated that they are homosexuals or bisexuals, that should be mentioned. That should be emphasized mainly if their fame or important event of their life or career was due to their sexuality (in Turing's case, the cause of his loss of security rating) - Skysmith 08:18, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm not so sure. If, like Forster, the person's sexuality is of great importance to the work they produce over their lifetime, or emerges as a prominent or constant theme within their work, then yes, their sexuality should be mentioned. Equally, Alan Turing's sexuality is important, as Matt Crypto points out, because it plays an important part in our understanding of his life.
But there is a problem with sticking someone's sexuality in their biography as a minor detail, and/or especially next to their profession. For example,
  • "Jane Doe is a lesbian playwright..."
as opposed to simply
  • "Jane Doe is a playwright..."
can, IMHO, be seen as pigeonholing and has no place in an encyclopedia. If you take the view that sexuality is something you are born with, then if it has little influence on our understanding of a person's life and actions, it is no more useful than saying-
  • "Jane Doe is a blue-eyed playwright...".
Just a thought. Shikasta 18:18, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
What I meant is something like this. If the aforementioned Jane Doe would be famous for writing lesbian-themed plays, she could be specifically listed as "lesbian playwright". In that case her fame would be based on her favorite theme. Otherwise she would be listed as a playwright and the fact that she is a lesbian could be mentioned elsewhere in the article, for example in a context of a same-sex partner. - Skysmith 08:29, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Good point. We wouldn't say "Isaac Asimov was a bisexual writer", we'd say "Isaac Asimov was a science fiction writer" and mention his bisexuality where relevant; but we might say "Freddie Mercury was a musician and gay icon" or use a similar lead. -Sean Curtin 01:49, Oct 9, 2004 (UTC)
Asimov was bi? I guess that explains why he didn't fly and always took a train or drove. --Gbleem 03:06, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

An interesting case study in this question is Rewi Alley, who I've been researching (very little of the article is live, I decided to write offline). Neither Alley nor previous biographers make any definite statement on his sexuality, but the most recent biography is a revisionist history which concludes that 1) he was homosexual and 2) this played a key role in his life's path, e.g. it was his motivation for going to China. Should such a hypothesis be mentioned as an aside? (which implies some doubt in it if we otherwise retell the traditional version of his life, which the new book calls haigography).

If it's in terms of "Jane Doe's lover Joan," for example, then why not? Exploding Boy 21:47, Nov 17, 2004 (UTC)

Oddly enough, I was just tinkering with Thornton Wilder's biography. I noticed that it did not mention his sexual orientation. I was going to add something, but since he was a closeted gay, I was not sure how appropriate it was. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 22:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Are there relevant citations on that affecting his writing? If so, I would mention, if not, not. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:04, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)
On the other hand, if it's an established fact, why leave it out? Too often we don't know these things about people and we just assume everyone's straight. Exploding Boy 19:58, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)

Credit for images

For years publications would customarily (US) use images without crediting the creator of that image, but that has changed in the US. Now credit is routinely given for photographs and artwork.

Is this official policy on Wikipedia?

In my view, it should be, unless the creator of the image has contributed it anonymously. Who made what images is a matter of history and knowledge as much as other article content.

This, however, raises another issue. Suppose a contributor to an article on Bugs Bunny (say, one Elmer Fudd) uploads one of his images for use in that article, and refers to himself in the caption in this fashion:

Cwazy Wabbit Eating a Cawwot (Photo by Elmer Fudd, 1999)

Anyone see a problem with this? (Other than Elmer's spelling?)

--NathanHawking 01:17, 2004 Sep 30 (UTC)

I see no problem; I credit all images I upload that I make as "Made by User:Golbez." --Golbez 01:27, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
I think he means in the article, not on the image's description page. -- Cyrius| 01:28, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Exactly. In the caption, visible to readers of the article.--NathanHawking 01:43, 2004 Sep 30 (UTC)
Oh. In that situation, no, attribution should not be made in the article unless it's somehow relevant to the article. If people want attribution, they can click it. --Golbez 01:31, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
Why do you say this? Is this Wikipedia policy?
Custom in US print publications and even on websites is to give visible credit for the photograph or artwork. See MSNBC Space Plane.--NathanHawking 01:43, 2004 Sep 30 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not paper. I don't know where the policy is stated, or even if a policy is stated, but that's generally how it works here, unless it's a corporate source like CNN or the AP. But usually, having attribution on the image page seems sufficient. --Golbez 01:55, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
Noted that Wikipedia is not paper, hence my observation that even online publications generally credit the source or creator of images. We attribute quotations and fair use passages of text from sources.
If articles had sole authors, noting the authorship would seem appropriate. It only becomes impractical because of the large number of contributors and modifiers, thus the history of an article will have to do. Wikipedia documentation seems very clear (to me) on this rationale.
But images do not suffer from that same ambiguity. If corporate sources like CNN or AP are credited in the article text, why not anyone who contributes an original image? Explicit credit might encourage more to create good images for Wikipedia. (Wow! Your name in print! Silly, maybe, but human nature.) --NathanHawking 02:32, 2004 Sep 30 (UTC)
Don't quote me on that corporate thing, I was trying to think of any instance friendly to what you're saying. And the credit is just as hidden as it is for the article, so why should people be less motivated to contribute an image as an article? It takes at least one click to see who contributed either to an article or to an image, and in fact, takes more clicks to find out what was specifically contributed by the person. Image attributions are fewer clicks away. --Golbez 04:47, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
It's not explicitly stated that you shouldn't. However, it violates some explicit guidelines implicitly. Wikipedia:Captions has guidelines for what should go in image captions, and a short summary of what goes on image description pages. The short of it is, captions should be short and to the point. Putting a credit in the caption pushes the caption farther from both.
Print publications put credit lines next to images because they have no choice. MSNBC et al does it because they don't make effective use of the technology they have on hand. We have image description pages for voluminous information about the image itself, we don't need to clutter the articles with information that isn't relevant. -- Cyrius| 02:14, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I don't know how you could say that "Image courtesy of NASA." (for example) clutters an article. Now on the other hand if someone wrote a small paragraph on how they created the image, that would be clutter! However "short" captions are not always appropriate. Creating captions of 3 or 4 short sentences can add a lot of value in some cases, but of course this should be used sparingly. We should always avoid being too rigid in our guidelines and always attempt to add value when we can. If you haven't guessed already, I am for including short credits in the captions when appropriate. Authors (and even government agencies) ask to be credited for the images we use, and I doubt most people click through all of the images in an article just to read the credits. —Mike 05:04, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
I don't know about yours, but my encyclopedia (and my dictionary, for that matter) puts the image credits at the end, not in the caption for the image. So I'd say what we're doing is roughly analogous to the online equivalent of that. anthony (see warning) 02:16, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
For me, the chief problem with photo credits in article captions is that they have a negative effect, albeit a very small one, for the reader — it's a tiny bit of distracting and (typically) irrelevant information — I imagine that it's comparatively rare for anyone to have an interest in the authorship of a typical Wikipedia photo. As a courtesy to the photographer we should include the credits in the Image Description page, but as a courtesy to the reader we shouldn't clutter up articles with metadata. — Matt 09:10, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Shouldn't we encourage people to include references with the uploaded images whenever possible? Not only would it make much easier the confirmation whether or not the image is in the public domain, it would also be of great interest for people who want to find out more about the image (painter, original publication etc.) – for example, the image of Odin is very nice, and I have no doubt it is indeed in the public domain. But how would I proceed if I wanted to determine the painter, and maybe find other paintings by him? That's just a random example, it's very common for images to have no reference. dab 13:18, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Which is what image description pages are for, not captions. An image description page describes the image by itself. Captions describe the image in relation to the article. -- Cyrius| 14:53, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
When I include copyrighted images of experts with permission I often give credit in the article, because this makes the copyright holder happier about giving the permission (exposure for them), and might encourage them to give more permission for stuff in the future. See for example Carl Hiaasen. Amateur work shouldn't usually be credited in the article though. Derrick Coetzee 05:26, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I guess I might agree if I better understood the distinction between "amateur work" and its opposite. When I write for Sky Publishing or Kalmbach Publishing presumably I am a "professional writer" but when I write for Wikipedia, am I an amateur? When I shoot photos for Kalmbach or ANS I am a professional but the other 45 weeks of the year I am an amateur?
I do understand what you are saying, but I think the issue of the professional status of the content creator is of no relevance while the quality of the content is highly relevant. On that view we should credit not for professionalism but for performance. -- Jeff Medkeff
Sometimes a picture gains extra credibility when the creator is known. A picture of some spectacular starscape gives an entirely different impression if the caption says "Hubble Telescope" than some artist, be they ever so well known. --Phil | Talk 08:08, Oct 21, 2004 (UTC)

Virtually all people I've asked about contributing images to Wikipedia are agreeable, as long as they are credited prominently for their contribution.

An idea: many things are now possible with CSS. Would it be possible to have <<Credit:©author name>> tag of some kind included in the image syntax, that could be rendered in very small text under the regular caption, or even in a vertical strip along the side of the picture (as is often seen in newspapers and comic strips)? With css it could be rendered differently with different skins, or suppressed in a user's personal style sheet. What do you think? Catherine | talk 18:34, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Sounds complicated Salasks 02:22, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Risk of inappropriate images appearing

I don't know if someone has already experienced the following issue in Wikipedia to date, but let me comment on it, just in case:

As there is no limitation on the uploading of images to Wikipedia, I believe that there is a chance that images that should not appear on any article (among others, pornography, images of disturbing violence, etc.), could get to appear. Even if this type of images appears for no more than an hour before the page is reverted, the damage is already done to those who come in contact with the material.

Is this risk already managed somehow? I would like to read your comments on this.--Logariasmo 04:39, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No more than any other risk, I think. Ideally, only one person should come in contact with it - and then they should revert it. --Golbez 04:43, Sep 28, 2004 (UTC)
I don't think that casual visitors would know how to revert a page. It is even worse if it is children who visit the vandalised article.--JohnWest 04:51, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Que Sera Sera. There is no mechanism set up for it, and I doubt one would be compatible with wiki nature. --Golbez 04:58, Sep 28, 2004 (UTC)
You're right — images speak louder than words. If we ever move to a system where new articles are queued pending review by a pool of editors, new images will probably among the first parts of the wiki to be locked down. That's probably a long ways off, though. For now, the RC patrol is doing a solid job. • Benc • 10:33, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for reminding me -- awhile ago, I noticed that a nude paparazzi photo of Brad Pitt was added to that article, but I had computer trouble before I could alert others to the problem. This is as much a copyvio problem as an inappropriate photo problem though. Tuf-Kat 22:54, Oct 3, 2004 (UTC)
One partial solution might be use an algorithm that tries to detect "likely pornographic" images. Like spam filters, my understanding of such algorithms is that they're imperfect but often right. I believe they generally work by noticing a lot of flesh tones in a picture that doesn't seem to be a face. For a neural net, you train like crazy, and make sure that faces are in the "okay" list. You could then delay for a short time actual viewing of such 'suspect images', placing them on a "please check this" list (where an admin might okay, or after some period of time it just becomes visible). I agree that many people perceive pictures differently than words. I don't know if people would think this worth implementing or not, nor how hard it would be. But that might be a technical and procedural way to lower the risk a little bit. It's worth noting that in almost all cases, porn images are also copyright violations, so even if you don't care about porn per se, it's still a reasonable idea to have extra controls relating to images. -- Dwheeler 03:45, 2004 Oct 5 (UTC)
I did a little searching on filtering out porn images. I found a OSS/FS implementation of an algortihm to detect porn images, based on a larger project to detect 'bad' things called POESIA. You can see an academic paper on POESIA as a whole. SourceForge has POESIA software; see the "ImageFilter" and "Java" subdirectories for code, and "Documentation" for - well, you can guess. Presumably, you could pass an image to this code, which would tell you if it's likely to be porn or not, and then you could make other decisions based on that. One interesting thing: POESIA can also detect certain symbols, like swaztikas, if you want it to. There may be other such tools; this is just the one I found. -- Dwheeler 02:59, 2004 Oct 8 (UTC)
That sounds like a good technical solution. Like any technical solution, it has rough spots (e.g., we would need some mechanism to stop script kiddies from uploading tons of garbage images thus forcing the filter to eat up CPU cycles). I'd suggest putting in a feature request at MediaZilla and/or the mailing lists. • Benc • 09:48, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Another thought: we could maintain a database of checksums of deleted images. Any uploaded image matching a deleted checksum would be sent to the "check me" queue. This would prevent non-free images from being re-uploaded, excepting malicious users who modify the image slightly to change the checksum. • Benc • 09:56, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
My suggestion would be to restrict the uploading of images to registered users and/or to users who have already participated actively (posted more than once), as they are less likely to post this sort of things. Obviously, it is slightly against the open policy of Wikipedia, but it might be required in the future, and I believe it does more good than harm.
Another reason for such a policy: Inexperienced users are more prone to unknowingly upload copyrighted images.--Lauther 06:56, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This is a terrible idea - how big a problem is this? The algorhythms cannot possibly filter out all offensive images - this will just lead to 'gaming' the system. Much better just to rely on people visiting the recent changes (is there a 'recently uploaded pictures' page? Intrigue 23:33, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

IMHO, the filtering algorithm idea is secondary to the main idea of sending new images to a "waiting for approval" queue, where admins would have to look at it briefly to make sure the image isn't inappropriate. Admins already do this on images that are already publicly accessible. This idea is just adding a safety net; it should catch a lot of the copyvios and outright vandalism — which we get a lot of, as far as images go.

You do have a very good point, though. I can see how implementing the algorithm as an automatic approval mechanism would encourage "gaming". Instead, we could send all new images to the approval queue, with those that the algorithm determines to be porn sending the image to a second queue, "probable porn". If and when a user's image gets sent to the porn queue, a message (or warning) is generated for that user instructing him to contact an admin if the image isn't porn, or to knock it off the image is porn. Unappealed images in the porn queue would be automatically deleted in three days. The regular pending-approval queue would have to be cleared out by admins on a regular basis, but the vast majority would be quick and obvious approvals.

Does this sound like a better solution, or are you entirely against the idea of a new images queue "safety net"? • Benc • 04:22, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I've been a fan of wiki before I joined, and I have not once seen a hacking. But a safety net may tax the anti-hacking abilities of the community. Of course, we have the risk of explcit content being put here, that Wiki may even some day be a site of "Cyber Graffiti" or something of that nature. In fact, this may be giving vandals ideas as this is typed. Please forgive me if I am wrong, but it seems like a choice between images and the employee resources of Wiki.

PS- Plese inform me if I have done something wrong (or if I am wrong) here, as I am new.

Eseer Erre 20:20, 09 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It seems to me that this issue is way overstated. The whole idea of the Wikipedia is that ease of edit makes the Wikipedia better. The easy edit policy may makes offensive and copyvio images (as well as other content) easy to add, but it also makes them just as easy to remove. If you try and change the system in a censor-istic attempt to control incoming content, you will remove, or at least dull, the fundamental advantage of the Wikipedia. Sowelilitokiemu 09:31, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

What is the policy on images, and determining if they are inappropriate? For instance, the penis article has images of penises including an erect one, whereas the ejaculation article has no pictures whatsoever. Where does one draw the line...? --Rebroad 16:12, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Three revert rule added to Wikipedia:Blocking policy

Since Wikipedia:Three revert rule enforcement passed, I added a section on blocking for repeated reverts to the blocking policy. Please review and edit it as needed. —No-One Jones (m) 21:00, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Poll regarding endorsements in the Arbitration Committee election

A poll has been started to determine whether a page should be set aside for endorsements of election candidates. --[[User:Eequor|ᓛᖁ♀]] 10:27, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

New initiative on wikipedia policy about graphic and potentially disturbing images

Hello all, I've started a new policy proposal at Wikipedia:Graphic and potentially disturbing images. I'd appreciate if everyone would have a look and give their comments before voting begins. GeneralPatton 03:49, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Article Renaming Standards

Hi all..

I'm considering doing a major rewrite of almost all Wikipedia articles relating to M*A*S*H (including the book, the movie, and the TV series. I'd like to try and set some sort of standard for flow and continuity in the information, particularly in the pages about the M*A*S*H characters. The current pages, having been created by a number of different users at different times with no collaboration, show a large discontinuity of standard. Some pages are titled by the character's full name and rank (Major Charles Emerson Winchester III), others by just a first and last name (Frank Burns), others still by nickname (Hawkeye Pierce), and every variation in between. What I'd like to do is choose a standard for naming convention (or, if a standard is already in place for Wikipedia articles named after a person, use the existing standard), and rename the pages that don't match that standard while I'm going through and modifying/correcting/enhancing the articles themselves.

My question is, what would be the best way to go about doing this? Should I simply create a new article under the correct title, and then list the old article in VfD/turn it into a redirect to the new article? Or is there a more efficient way to have an existing article retitled? I've never taken on a Wikipedia project this large before, so I'd appreciate some feedback from some more experienced Wikipedians if possible.

Also, if there is an existing Wikipedia standard for titling articles with people's names (should the full name be used if possible, or the most commonly used name, or nicknames?), and also about using military ranks in article titles (ie. is it preferred to write "Lieutenant Colonel John Doe", or "Lt. Col. John Doe", or leave rank out of the title itself altogether?), I'd be grateful if somebody could point me towards the information.


Vaelor 07:31, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Use the move function. You should never create a new article then copy-and-paste content from an existing article, as then the edit history is lost. As a bonus, when you use the move function, a redirect gets left behind from the original location. Shane King 07:35, Nov 30, 2004 (UTC)
Ahh, silly me, I hadn't even noticed the Move function there, presumably because until now I had no use for it and couldn't conceive of what use I could have for it. Thanks for pointing that out Shane. Now, can anybody please clarify the naming policy issues I queried above so I can start tidying these articles up? Thanks. - Vaelor 07:45, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Use the most common name which people will look for most of the time (to avoid people having to go via redirects), as explained in Wikipedia:Naming conventions.
So, Frank Burns and Hawkeye Pierce both look good to me; similarly Radar O'Reilly and Hot Lips Houlighan. Major Charles Emerson Winchester III should probably be at Charles Emerson Winchester III or Charles Winchester. Unless the title is part of the common name (Colonel Blake, perhaps) it should be left out, as for real people - for example, William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim not General Slim or Field Marshal Slim - there is an analogy with the treatment of peerage/royal titles in Wikipedia:Naming conventions (names and titles).
Where there may be confusion with someone else with the same name, adding, say, "(MASH)" to the end will help with disambiguation, as would adding a disambiguation page. -- ALoan (Talk) 12:36, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for the info and pointing me towards the policies ALoan. Very much appreciated! - Vaelor 13:38, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I have a related question. Is there a proper standard with regards to using quote-signs in titles? Wikipedia:Naming conventions has a paragraph about this and doesn't mention quotes, but points to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (technical restrictions) and Wikipedia:Special characters restrictions) for further info. The former doesn't mention double-quotes as illegal either, but the latter (and Help:Special_characters, which it points to) has a list of safe characters where the double-quote is not included. There is a line far into the article that says: These are also generally safe to use in titles, except for a few characters like double quotes, less than and greater than, and a few others. I'm not sure whether this refers to the list or the standard double-quote in general. Help:Page_name on the other hand, explicitly mentions " as a sign that should not be used in page names. I'm a bit confused about this.
Is this a real problem? Well, most articles that I have come across, like Magic Johnson, do not use quotes. This is the way I prefer it to be, erring on the safe side. However, some do, like "Weird Al" Yankovic. And if there is a firm policy on this that I have missed, are there any technical reasons to back that up? Wålberg 19:50, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Looks to me, from the relevant articles you linked to above, that using double-quotes in page names more "shouldn't" be done than "can't" be done. The info on Help:Page_name seems to be saying that while there are still pages using illegal characters, its preferred that they aren't used because they represent a possible security glitch. Strikes me as very odd though, that if they really are a security concern, there isn't some sort of safeguard in place preventing it from being possible to use such characters in page names. For all I know though, such a safeguard may just not be possible under the constraints of the MediaWiki software. {shrugs} Personally, having read that, I think I'll take the stance that I'll avoid using them in articles I create, but won't go out of my way to go around removing them from existing articles... - Vaelor 17:03, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Opinion survey on new requirement for editing Current Events and subsequently In The News

Hello! Please look into the new opinion survey at Wikipedia:How_to_edit_a_real_time_update, about suggestions on editing the respective articles. -- Simonides 09:44, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Pages in User: namespace with no corresponding user

What is the policy regarding pages named User:something where there is no user named "something"? e.g. User:Sam Raymond. -- Paddu 14:48, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think they should be speedily-deleted (there is no reason for them to be there). dab 15:25, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That particular one has now been deleted. -- Cyrius| 23:24, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Deletion process not being followed

Several long time Wikipedians that are helping process Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Old are not doing so according to the current Wikipedia:Deletion process, presumably because the process has changed as VfD has changed. Some simply delete with no more documentation than the Edit summary, others put the documentation in the Talk page, instead of pointing Talk to the VfD subpage, etc. I have added an HTML comment to "old", recommending reviewing the current processing article. Is there anything else we can do to make sure everyone processes the old VfD noms the same way? Niteowlneils 17:58, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Missing persons "deaths" category

I just created the entry on Darwin Vest who went missing in 1999 and was presumed dead in 2004. I marked it under Category:2004 deaths, but am not sure. I guess it depends on the presumption - if the presumption is that he died soon after disappearing, then he should be in Category:1999 deaths, but if the presumption is that he was kidnapped and died at some point in the intervening time, then it's anyone's guess. (p.s. did I do the right thing in this post by putting [[:Category:..., to avoid adding this page to the category? If not, please correct it!) PhilHibbs 11:15, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think there is a category for "Disappeared people." Also, I'd suggest holding off on declaring him dead already. Maurreen 16:28, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

"External link" or "External links"

Is there an agreed policy on the use of either "External link" or "External links" when there is one external link only? It seems natural to me to use "External link" when there is one link, and "External links" once there is two or more links. --Edcolins 09:37, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)

Yes there is: always use the plural. See here and here for guidance. It's a standard label: if you have a tin labelled "pencils" you don't scribble out the "s" every time you get down to the last one. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 09:55, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)
"External link" would imply "this is the external link", and might discourage people from adding new ones. PhilHibbs 11:22, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
While "External link" grates (personally), there's a good argument for using "External links" that isn't a question of personal preference: people would inevitably forget to update the header to reflect the plurality when adding or deleting links. Also, you'd have to make the same argument for a "Reference" section, and I think more people would find that objectionable. Whatever you do, please don't go around mass-converting "External links" to "External link" (as I found someone doing a couple of days ago...)! — Matt 17:19, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Alright, I am convinced. Thanks all for your replies. I like the tin and pencil allegory... --Edcolins 17:42, Nov 28, 2004 (UTC)

External URLs

Having searched around I've not been able to find any policy, only a general guide lines, on the use of external URLs and yet in the articles I've been reading they have been used very sparingly. Is there a policy to avoid going outside? In one particular article, for example, members of the Board of the BBC are listed and although Wiki articles have been produced for the main members the rest have broken internal links. Yet on the BBC's own web site there are articles on all their Board members. Wouldn't it be better to provide a good external link rather than an internal broken link?

Maxx 09:05, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think the custom is to be discriminating with external links. What you suggest sounds sensible. Maurreen 13:49, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedia policy is to retain an internal link anytime a valid article could be created. If less well known members of the BBC board deserve to have articles then the links should remain internal ones. Only if they are not deemed encyclopedic should an external link replace the broken link. If the minor board members are deserving of articles then a link to the BBC site can be provided as a note after the red link, or ideally an article containing a link to the BBC bio in the "external links" section can be created on each of them. - SimonP 16:33, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)
Following on for this for clarity it is Wikipedia procedure to at least create a stub article, and from the stub add the external link to the person. This maximises the chance of creating an article on the person/thing :ChrisG 16:42, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yes, assuming the person merits an eventual article, it is best to start (and link to) a bio-stub article saying "John Doe is a member of the Board of the BBC", with an appropriate "External link(s)" section. If the person didn't merit an article (e.g. board member of something less important) it would be appropriate to put the external link right after the (unlinked) name in the article on the organization, where it can function as a reference to validate the claim that this person is a board member of this group, e.g.
John Doe [], Mary Roe []
which displays as
John Doe [1], Mary Roe [2]
In general, in the main narrative body of the article don't put the external link on the name itself -- treat it like an endnote or footnote rather than linking from the text -- but in an "External links" section do link the text: e.g.
[ Mary Roe official page]
which displays as
Mary Roe official page
Hope that helps. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:53, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)

The main objection to external link is that wikipedia has no control over their validity (in many senses: survival, contents, POV). Haven't you ever trip over a list of very useful links only to discover that half of them are dead? Another thing (minor but annoying) is the issue of importance and encyclopedicity of ext links. Whe you run google, you always have several hudred or even thou links. Which ones do you think must be in the article? And which ones do you think other will think must be there as well? Without strictest control every article on a popular topic may turn into a link farm. Mikkalai 01:32, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the opinions. For the example I quoted, as they meet the professor test for fame (three are actually professors!), I've created stubs, as suggested, and placed external links there.

Maxx 15:59, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

External Linking to Forums

I had just added an external link to a forum, however I was then told not to. I'd just like to know what the policy is for that. Can I link to a forum with a general topic or should I link to the specific section? (for example, should I link to a programming forum of the C++ part of it?) And also, just how general in the links should I be? Should I put them in related topics (for example, computers, if I'm linking to a programming forum) or should I only put it in a very specific related section?
Thank you. Cap'n Refsmmat 23:35, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

I've been discussing this with Cap'n Refsmmat at User talk:Cap'n Refsmmat#ComputerGeek_links, and suggested we bring the discussion here to get wider input. -gadfium 23:59, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Just note I wasn't trying to spam or anything, it's just I guess I was putting it in the wrong places... Cap'n Refsmmat 00:09, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)

The policy is not hard and fast; there is a general tendency not to link to forums (they are easily enough to find with a search engine and they are not particularly encyclopedic) but certainly there is an argument for linking to a prominent forum that corresponds more or less exactly to the topic of the particular article. I would not link the same forum from lots of articles: that becomes the equivalent of spam, however well-intentioned. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:34, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)

So could I link to the specific section of the forum from an article? There are several sections such as C++, java, etc. so could I link to that section from the specific article? If also, if I know of a better forum for that, should I link to that as well? I'd like to add them, because forums can actually answer your questions rather than just have a fixed content. Cap'n Refsmmat 20:50, Nov 27, 2004 (UTC)
It's borderline. I'd probably be for it, but I suggest that you try to get a consensus on the article's talk page. My suggestion would be: add the forums you think are useful, add a note that you have done so in each case on the relevant talk page, welcome comment, add the articles to your watchlist so you'll see if anyone responds. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:39, Nov 27, 2004 (UTC)
I can do that... *scurries off* Cap'n Refsmmat 22:12, Nov 27, 2004 (UTC)
Well, it seems someone else had arguments against it. I referred him to here so he could see the discussion on it. I wish someone could come up with a policy on it! Cap'n Refsmmat 00:46, Nov 28, 2004 (UTC)
In this case there is no need for an explicit policy. I've objected to your external link on grounds of quality, as stated in the C++ talk page: I considered your edit to be of low quality. The forum you linked to has two C++ discussion threads, none of wich provide any insightful C++ knowledge.
Apart from that: As external pages are not part of Wikipedia, none of Wikipedia's Q/A mechanisms work there, e.g. there is no easy way for page watchers to notice when an externally linked page changes. Also, the threat of Wikipedia turning into a publicity machine and search engine page rank booster is great. All in all, it's important that external links be carefully selected.
If there were to be a specific policy for linking to external forums, I suggest that it at least include:
* The forum must be relevant to the topic.
* The signal-to-noise ratio in the forum should be high. (Your C++ forum is an example of the opposite: Of the seven messages, around 50% are chat-like or about forum policy).
* The forum should be active, i.e. there should be a reasonable chance of getting a useful response.
* The forum users should include people with lots of knowledge on the topic.
* The forum should have existed for at least a year or so, proving itself valuable.
Candidates for inclusion would be relevant Usenet newsgroups. (In the C++ case, there is actually an unusually high quality newsgroup called comp.lang.c++.moderated which conforms to all the above proposed criteria.)
TroelsArvin 08:57, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You missed the entire point of a forum. They're not for databases of information, they're for asking questions. I already have one resident C++ expert and I'm getting more along the way. In time I'm sure I'll have plenty more members of all types. But if you don't like it, then fine. Cap'n Refsmmat 16:25, Nov 28, 2004 (UTC)
I was just about to consider this subject closed when you revealed yourself as And guess what: Links to forums of yours ( and have also been added by in various places (although most of them don't seem to live long on the pages). I had to silence my spam-alarm when I subsequently noticed your google ad-syndications. I suggest you clean up. TroelsArvin 20:25, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC) is not my forum, and nowhere near it. It is an extremely active forum that I could have no hope of matching. The google ads there are not my doing. Besides, it's a very active good science forum and really I think it's a suitable link. If you have an objection to linking to a good site then so be it. Perhaps you're taking these the wrong way. I never wanted to spam. It's just that with no policy I can't "follow rules" to any extent.Cap'n Refsmmat 01:10, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)
Sorry about the accusation: It seems you are not involved with them—except for forum usage, including their referral promotion program.
About policies: If there is no explicit policy about something, then that doesn't mean that "anything goes". Wikipedia cannot have policies on everything. In part, Wikipedia has to rely on common sense of its editors. Part of common sense is to think twice about adding links to sites created by oneself: In such a situation, the editor is obviously somewhat biased, and should be extra cautious. And when someone else removes such a link, it should generally not be re-inserted by the site-owner.
An example of not to act, is on the TI-BASIC (calculators) page: You add your own site to the page. Someone removes it with a clear message about low quality. And then you re-insert it... As long as links like that exist on Wikipedia, I'm having a hard time with your "I'm not a spammer!!" statements.
TroelsArvin 09:55, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you'll see above you'd notice that he said "go for it." I'm assuming that meant I could try narrowing it down to the TI-BASIC section.
However, rather than nitpicking over who did what, why don't we come up with a policy for it? I simply did not no what goes or what doesn't go, so you can't blame me for going a tad too far. But anyways, what "goes?" I liked your description a while ago, except for the bit about it having to be around for a year. It can have many useful members without being around long (in a few cases). My TI-BASIC forum has 3 people who constantly check it, and all are "experts" if you'd like to call them that. It just looks like there aren't many people there. I understand what you were saying about how they are unsuitable in ways. So let's go with that as future policy, perhaps. (edit:oops, forgot my signature. heh) Cap'n Refsmmat 22:51, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)
A "tad too far"? - You have posted your forum links all over the place but not shown willingness to remove a single link instance (others have cleaned up most of them).
Anyways—first, a quick question: Why should such a policy only apply as a future policy?
Next: I think that the one-year-of-activity rule is important for two reasons: As Dbachmann states, Wikipedia links should generally have a good change of being long-lived. The other reason is that the rule could guard against Wikipedia being used as a spam engine by enthusiastic newbies which have just set up an oh-so-great discussion forum which will be !!!great!!! as soon as people discover it!!!. TroelsArvin 23:08, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The number of colons required here is ridiculous.
Anyways, it can be applied to links that already exist. However, you cannot punish people for doing something wrong before a rule is made. I know why you don't want the links now, so I'll let them be and move on to more important things. The policy you came up with sounds nice to me, except for the bit about having to be around for a year. It should be something like "Must be around for a year, or have upwards of 200 active members" or something like that. The number can change, it's just a guess. It's just that the forum may be on a popular topic and thus get many members quickly.
I promise you I will not try to make those links again. I will be careful what I link to and where. Just please tell me what you think the policy should be. In fact, I removed the remaining link just now.Cap'n Refsmmat 21:12, Nov 30, 2004 (UTC)

I think my suggestion for a policy would be: do not link to fora, unless there is a very good reason (e.g. the article is about the forum itself). google is far more useful for finding a forum that will answer your question. Links on WP should have a good chance of being long-lived. dab 20:44, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Clones,Erroneous Statements & Disputes

So is it that Wikipedia has no control over clones whatever. Once they suck out the info that's it... or couldnt you embed some sort of encyption which would automatically refer back to the upgraded Wikipedia editing ? I'm new to this but have immediately found myself the start of a dispute(well, I found objectionable historical revisionism peddled under supposedly pukka guise ).... Within Wikipedia ,so far as you can protect an article under dispute and close it, I am happy - at least until that particular battle might go the wrong way . But the damage has already been done out there in all the clones , and what I see in the way of contributions seems to be the tip of a very nasty Iceberg straight out of the scariest conspiracy theory bucket. OK so repairs can be effected -presumably when the clones update their links they suck in the editing changes ,don't they ? And maybe you can use the banning to weed out dangerous liars but there does seem to be a factual issue as well as a search issue . I don't want to believe that wikipedia itself is a front for revisionist conspiracy but do I have to cross-check every last edit history and cross reference through all other edits by that user and then submit you a regiment of names all linked to their proveable lies  ? Please note this is not an idle ,in-the-future hypothetical issue but one of real dispute to do with presentations within and outside Wikipedia even in the coming days ( I refer to academic lecture in one of the top 5 Universities of the world )and I wouldn't waste time here if I didn't know I can prove the error in a statement ( involving Appeasement and the British Government just prior to WW2 ). It might require a bit of neck-sticking into verbatim use of copyrights . Question : how can you prove anything if you can't quote from Books ; and would Dispute warrant a fair-use if I gotta answer to a judge as well after you guys ?Flamekeeper 00:44, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)PS Seems to me the Disputes list page is a bit too hard to discover.

I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to ask or say here. You found some erroneous statements and now you're worried that there's a revisionist conspiracy going on? -- Cyrius| 03:06, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am quite sure that you are correct about the conspiracy, having taken control of this website, the World Government will have no trouble in subduing the rest of the planet. As to your question of proof without reference to Books, and your concern about fair use were your actions to place in front of a judge? IANAL, but most of the interesting questions about copyright law depend on the juristiction where you are and have not, in most places, been settled with any degree of certainty. What I can tell you is the judge will most likely be in the pay of the revisionist conspiricy. Yours, Mark Richards 12:36, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It is indeed appalling that the clones abuse this "free" encyclopedia by copying the information. Encryption could certainly be used to restrict Wikipedia clones — while I can't see a way for it to to be used to enforce automatic referral back to Wikipedia for updates (as you've suggested), encrypting the articles with a military-grade cipher like AES would, at the very least, deny the clones the ability to provide coherent content to downstream users. — Matt 15:32, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Excellent idea. We should encrypt everything! Nobody would be able to read about Admiral Akbar, or Slashdot, and our secrets would be safe! Mark Richards 16:55, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Great, so I'll have friends to send food-parcels and to feed my dog Pavlov. Auto-update is what I refer to ,so change nasty E word to the software question at hand. Any takers? As to Revisionism -I'm just reporting what I see, but Pavlov is very sociable . If R can run riot in one branch doesn't it worry the roots or leaves ?Flamekeeper 18:52, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

While I don't really understand what you're saying, I'd be interested to know how you suppose that we dictate what other people do with their websites? Moreover, why would we be interested in controlling them? — Matt 19:03, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC) take snapshots of the wiki and this supplies some cloning. They took one (English ) in July and before in April . How big is a Snapshot ?Flamekeeper 19:37, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sorry Matt,um first I'm saying there are revisers, who've always been at it ,just that now it is that much easier. I don't mean heavy obvious-neo-anything but more like drifting re-education . The kind of thing which can save and preserve eg. certain Churches from their scandals, affect voting long term by eradicating the past(Japan?). Goldwarriors mention their politics without mincing .Or stop us uncovering anything dirty and conspiratorial . The point I make is that wiki becomes the sort of global info "gold-standard" , fair enough,positive etc . But if you find diametric variation from fact repeated under this reputation and left up for long periods it turns the positive (editable) into a form of mental pollution . How to safeguard the positive? That's what I'm asking . Say, it'd be OK if the snapshot also took built in edit "command" continuance....Because the trouble is down-web they lock it up . Can the wiki control who takes a snapshot to the extent of requiring acceptance of a continuous feed say delayed a week , because the disputes take awhile to boil to flaggingFlamekeeper 20:00, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thinking I had already been banned for Pavlov's copyright by the all seeing eyes and that technical was another factor ,I ran up a proposal about clones and snapshots.Maybe, Mark Richards , you're more right than you think. I've been expecting a green dictatorship awhile now and well , I've never seen so many rules never. Is this a place you can be human this page ? OK I see there have to be standards but to think pavlov would be a copyright issue , like- roll on the after-life as reality wouldn't be worth it .Flamekeeper 00:27, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Copyright policy w.r.t. joke lists

The dicussion at the VfD Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/List of "Shit happens" jokes, see also Copyright status raised an issue common to numerous lists of jokes in wikipedia. Most of jokes in these lists were published in usenet/internet/... wherever. Therefore many of them by default are under the copyright. The "fair use" clause IMO is hardly applicable here, since the se lists are not "quotaitons", but complete texts. It is known that many catch phrases from T-shirts are patented. IMO this issue deserves attention.

(Another issue is whether these lists belong to article space or Wikibooks or Wikisource.) Mikkalai 22:48, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There are also some jokes in WP:BJAODN which may be copyrighted. -- Paddu 10:38, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Most important: normal policies should apply;

If you copy something from somewhere you should either:

  • know the source and have permission


  • have evidence that it's in the public domain


  • have a fair use claim to the material and be contributing to Wikipedia from a location where fair use applies.

In each case you point out which one you are claiming and either cite your sources / show your evidence / state your claim.

As a general principle, in order to claim fair use, you should probably write something noticable about the history / meaning and or cultural associations of the joke rather than just listing the joke.

The key point is that we can mostly assume that jokes are either original (so shouldn't be in Wikipedia) or copied (so shouldn't be in Wikipedia without one of the above). This contrasts with encyclopedic contributions which are normally original works of the contributor.

BJAODN should be seen as an area of ongoing work / stupidity and not an area for inclusion in mirrors or paper copies of Wikipedia. As such, whilst the wikipedia project will make good faith efforts to avoid copyright infringement, it is more difficult to be sure of the proper source of all materials in this area.

In all cases, materials on Wikipedia which infringe copyright will be deleted on request from the copyright holder according to the normal policies.

Mozzerati 21:02, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC) (aka Mr Killjoy)

Incorporation of Wikipedia articles into copyright works

Am I correct in my interpretation that material in Wikipedia cannot be copied into derivative work that is distributed as copyright? I keep finding articles copied straight out of Wikipedia which are on websites purporting to claim copyright over, for example, things that, for example, I have written. It isn't that I really care, but I was wondering about what the policy is about lifting material verbatim off this site and passing it off as material owned by the derivative website. It violates the GNU License (and the Wikipedia:Copyrights agreement) since it neither acknowledges Wikipedia nor does it allow that the material in the site in public domain. Guettarda 15:17, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The GFDL is not the same as the Public Domain. GFDL relies on copyrights. GFDLed work can be published by commercial and non-commercial interests alike, as long as the license is respected. However, it is necessary to credit the authors and republish the GFDL and follow any other provisions in the license. There are some sites that do not follow the GFDL. Sites that fail to comply with most of GFDL's requirements are listed at Wikipedia:Copies of Wikipedia content (low degree of compliance). — David Remahl 15:37, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What about copying from Wikipedia to another GFDL work like Wikibooks? (Or copying from another GFDL work to Wikipedia?)
e.g. From b:Wikibooks:Staff_lounge#Copying_content_from_Wikipedia:
b:User:Panic2k4 seems to have copied some material from the Wikipedia to b:Programming:C plus plus (probably not entire articles). For doing this should one use Transwiki to keep track of the GNU FDL requirements even for small parts of articles, even if it is a copy and not a move?
BTW b:Programming:C plus plus has since been *shudder* "forked" to b:Programming: C -/- -/- so look for the copied material there.
PS: What a coincidence! I was wondering where to ask this thing [as wikibooks staff lounge (equivalent of the 'pump) doesn't get enough traffic & no one responded to my comment there], and here's a related thread already in the pump, which is also the most recent, so adding a comment here won't go that much unnoticed! -- Paddu 20:28, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Pages that are deprecated in favor of MediaWiki pages at Meta

There are some pages in the Wikipedia namespace that have notices saying that they are depreciated in favor of copies available at meta. Is there a reason why we don't just change them into redirects? If I don't see any objection either here or on their Talk pages, I'm going to change them into redirects, and remove them from the Topical Index. I'm doing this as part of the WikiProject Wikipedia Namespace.

Here are the pages:

JesseW 10:46, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

And Wikipedia:Donations and Wikipedia:Donation addresses, as they are both superceeded by pages at Wikimediafoundation. Donation addresses would need to be redirected by a sysop, as it's protected. JesseW 11:50, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Personal details

I've put up Wikipedia:Divulging personal details for discussion on when it is appropriate to include personal details in articles. In my particular case, I've identified a person who has been working under a pseudonym even though the legal name was not widely known (though verifiable). I've posted this at WP:RFC, but as this is urgent (possibly the harm has already been done, if mirrors have scraped us since) I also want to bring it up on the pump. — David Remahl 13:13, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Internet trolls

Hi all,
I am an administrator from he_Wiki. In a recent months we have been attacked by 2 internet trolls. The last one started to vandilise he_wiki during this week. I want to ask if you have any policy regarding internet trolls in en_wiki. If you do have, what are your suggestions dealing with this phenomena. Gilgamesh he 09:29, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It's not something which we deal with well. If the person is actually vandalising, that's easier to deal with and they will usually be blocked eventually. However, you need to be clear whether they are a vandal or a troll (see What is a troll). Various people have tried to set up policies about trolling, but they have never reached consensus. See Wikipedia:Dealing with trolls and Wikipedia:Dealing with disruptive or antisocial editors. We have a formal dispute resolution process that can be used for trolls or other problem users, which basically starts with asking the community to comment on the problem, and ends with the Arbitration Committee making a decision, but I don't know if he: is yet large enough to go for something so complicated. If you know any other languages, asking at one of the smaller Wikipedias might get you more useful advice. Angela. 10:01, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with Angela - it depends on what behavior you are talking about - a lot of people use the word troll to mean vandalism, if that is the case, then its easy to deal with. Personal attacks are likewise easy. If you mean someone editing from a point of view that you don't agree with, then that is more difficult - you will have to find some way to choose which point of view you will accept. Mark Richards 15:58, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
we have about 12,000 articles, so I thinw we are big enough. the person I am talking about is a troll becouse he restored the deleted articles about 200 times. Gilgamesh he 10:00, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Well, in that case he is in clear violation of community rules - you might need some kind of sanction process for people who continue to do this. Mark Richards 17:42, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

this is my question - what do you suggest we do' in order to prevent such events in the future. Gilgamesh he 08:34, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Is the person an administrator? "Restoring a deleted page" is something an administrator can do. If so,

  • Remove his administrator status. For this, you need a help from m:Steward.
  • Block him if neecssary.

If he is not an administrator, but a user who post the same content again and again, after deletions, then simply blocking him may be the answer. Blocking a user is something an administrator can do. (That means you can do it).

Sometimes, the user does not stop even after being blocked. That is because the user may use multiple IP addresses, for example. You can block a range of IP addresses as a solution. If the problem user is using open proxies, you may need some special tool to block proxies. Also, your community may decide to report the vandalism to the ISP of that user.

Also, if the user is posting only to one specific page, and the page is not that important, then an administrator can protect the page.

For the future, here are what you can do.

  • Select very trustable people and make them administrators. (I figured there are many administrators at your wikipedia, though. If many of them are active, that is not a problem, perhaps).
  • Decide the rules regarding when a user can be blocked, for how long.

Please feel free to ask for details. Hope this helps.

Tomos 19:14, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Why did you vote against Preliminary Deletion?

Preliminary Deletion has been rewritten, and now includes a section at the end answering some common questions/objections. I urge those who voted against this policy or had their doubts to please read the section in question and voice their concerns on the proposal's talk page. Thanks in advance. Johnleemk | Talk 11:36, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Article about the problems of the GFDL released by Nathanael Nerode into the public domain

This article is a link in the GFDL article, and a lot of its ideas were incorporated into the GFDL article. Here is the article:

Why You Shouldn't Use the GNU FDL

[copy of the above article removed - please see the external link if you want to read it]

Standard GFDL licensing form for Non-Wikipedians

I proposed this idea over at Wikipedia:Boilerplate request for permission, which provides form letters to send to non-Wikipedians who have images, text, or data collections that might be useful for Wikipedia, and might potentially be willing to license them under the GFDL. Although I get many polite "no thank you" responses to this request, I've been somewhat at a loss when people say "sure, how do I do that?"

Most of these people do not edit Wikipedia themselves, nor are likely to jump through the hoops to upload and tag their own contributions.

Would it make sense to provide a simple licensing form/template at the bottom of requests for permission, for people to use to respond -- something that could then be pasted into the Talk page or Image Description page as evidence that the creator wishes to license their work? Something along the lines of this (please edit mercilessly):

As the creator and copyright holder of the image currently named <TITLE.EXT>
(found at <URL> as of this date), I hereby licence said image under the GFDL,
as a contribution to Wikimedia and its downstream users."
As the creator and copyright holder of the text found at <URL> as of this date,
I hereby licence said text under the GFDL, as a contribution to Wikimedia and
its downstream users."
As the creator and copyright holder of the text found at <URL> as of this date,
I hereby licence that portion of the text included in this email (below) under the
 GFDL, as a contribution to Wikimedia and its downstream users."

Most of my requests have been aimed at webmasters, not dead-tree authors, so these samples are geared toward that end -- other variants welcome. I don't know much about the Creative Commons licensing process either, so if there's a simple way to describe those options to potential contributors as well, I'm all ears.

Please comment -- this ought to be legal and bulletproof, and I'm no copyright expert. [[User:CatherineMunro|Catherine\talk]] 08:26, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am no copyright expert, but let me try.. I do similar things for Japanese Wikipedia. My comments are mainly based on that, not necessarily based on ongoing understanding/practice of these issues on english wikipedia.
  • I think it is better to offer links to Wikipedia:Copyright, warranty disclaimer, terms of use, etc. along with the license clearly, so that there is a better chance of the author clearly understands what GFDL is, and how Wikipedia interprets it.
  • In case of images, it is safer to show examples of how an image is shown/used in wikipedia. From the text of the GFDL, a photographer may expect "so my name will clearly be shown in any work which contain my photo," which is not really the case. English Wikipedia follows the spirit of the GFDL, but not necessarily the letters. And showing typical exampes would prevent some unfortunate misunderstandings and potential troubles. Examples I think of are: how commons images are used in articles, how images in english wikipedia is used in articles, how the image information page looks like. An example of how you would record/report the authors name when you upload a picture is also good.
  • If you are not confident, ask if all rights are cleared, or if the author knows any rightholder involved in the image or text.
Tomos 14:14, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, and most of your points are already addressed in the Boilerplate request for permission letters themselves. What I am asking is "Legally, how should a contributor who understands and accepts the GFDL respond positively to a request?" I am referring specifically to people who are NOT interested in making an account and uploading their own material, but agree to let a Wikipedian do so. I am asking how they can affirm the licensing of their work, in a format that can be copied and pasted into a talk page or image description page, for later editors/copyright checkers to reference. I'd really appreciate some help on this..... [[User:CatherineMunro|Catherine\talk]] 02:44, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

That's right... I was a bit too late to get the question.. My suggestion a bit different. How about this?

  • I hereby grand <Wikipedian A> to post the following text to a page <Page name>, provided that the Wikipedian A writes in the edit summary box "original author:<The author's name>, with permission," when uploading the text. The content is placed under GFDL by the posting, and handled according to GFDL and Wikipedia's relevant policies. <Date>, <The author's name>.
  • <text>

This idea is not getting a work or a portion of a work on GFDL. If you do that, what you must do is defined by the license, eh, cumbersome. So instead of first getting the work under GFDL and then bring it to Wikipedia in a GFDL-compliant way, I think it would be easier just to get a permission for you to post the author's work and thereby place it under GFDL and subject to other Wikipedia policies as just like other contents. You offer to announce the original author in the comment summary, which is one of the most important requirement of GFDL, though it is not that much compliant with it in other technicalities. If the author prefers the URL be explained together, you can offer to place it on a note page, for example, or describe the source and its URL in the "external links" part of the article, if that is appropriate. How does that sound? Tomos 05:12, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

breaking news articles with unsafe information

(Motivation: Since Yasser Arafat's death, many things have been said or written in the media, blogs, etc. about the causes of his death. On Death of Yasser Arafat, there was some kind of policy (somewhat controversial) that probable speculations were not to be detailed in length: that is, the article would not give in detail what some presumably rather uninformed media would comment about the possible causes of his death. On the other hand, we have to draw a line somewhere; since we will very probably never get some authoritative source for his medical case, and the question attracts considerable attention, then I suggested we may add some bits from some investigative magazine who very probably had insider sources.)

I think we have a policy problem here. When we have authoritative, safe sources, we can probably just report them and ignore the non-authoritative ones. But what should we do in cases where the real information is hidden? Can we report somewhat detailed news from reputable newspapers who claim they got it from "insider sources"? David.Monniaux 08:40, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think it would be a mistake to try to push WP toward providing "Breaking News". I would say reporting what other news orgs decide to publish is borderline okay, but we should not do this just for the sake of being "up-to-date" or "satisfy the curious." Quality over quantity is the rule WP should follow. Just my two cents... Awolf002 14:34, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
we have very many articles where the truth is unknown. In these, we simply list the competing opinions of experts. Who is an expert in a given matter is of course a question of individual judgement, but a line between serious opinions and crackpot conspiracies needs to be drawn in all these cases. Let others do the research, and report what the major news sources came up with. If there is ever a PhD-thesis on the subject, draw on that ;) dab 15:03, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
In cases where the source is in doubt, follow this handy 3-step process:
  1. Talk about what the source says, but attributed to that source, and not as fact.
  2. Cite the source specifically.
  3. Briefly say that the source is in doubt and mention why.
In short, if you don't think you can definitively choose what is true, give the reader the information they need to make the decision for themselves. Deco 18:46, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Still, if the reporting about the unverified source is widespread, we should discuss that reporting, even if the information itself can't be verified. RickK 07:07, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Arbitration policy amendment vote

I proposed a streamlining of the Arbitration Committee's policy in August, and, given that it is now 3 months on, I have just opened a ratification vote about it. James F. (talk) 03:28, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Page formatting

Hi, can you have a look at the section on Formatting that was added to Talk:CPR_summary. I have a feeling this sort of formatting is not encouraged on Wikipedia, is that correct? Tjwood 17:55, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

In my opinion, that's the least of your problems. Offering medical advice on Wikipedia seems very dubious. I can't recall any policy off-hand, so I'll have a brief hunt. (Oh, and the formatting looks very non-standard, to my eyes.) [[User:Noisy|Noisy | Talk]] 20:10, Dec 4, 2004 (UTC)
Found this: Wikipedia:Wikipedia medicine standards. I hope the advice is useful. [[User:Noisy|Noisy | Talk]] 20:23, Dec 4, 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Proposal to expand WP:CSD

I'm drafting a proposal to formally extend the cases under which an article can be speedily deleted at Wikipedia:Proposal to expand WP:CSD. I welcome all discussion. I'd like to start the vote by 7 December, so that the two-week vote will end on 21 December, just before the holidays, but that's far from a fixed date. BLANKFAZE | (что??) 21:48, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

New 'news sources' resource

I've created a new resource at wikipedia:News sources as an alternative to wikipedia:News collections and sources. The rational for its existence is to provide a way of listing news sites that is organised by geographical region and that presents the available links in an unbiased manner. The page uses subpages so that the existence of many links from the same country does not drown out the links we do have from the other countries. I took the links from the existing page of sources as a starting point for this new resource. Once I had finished it became apparent that we are missing links not only to many countries but also to whole continents. All input in encouraged. Barnaby dawson 17:51, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Links to outside references

RE the article Alfa Romeo. Throughout this article it is loaded with links to outside references, some of which are no longer valid. We don't want to arbitrarily delete them before asking if this massive use of outside links is acceptable form at Wikipedia? JillandJack 17:02, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

  • In this case the links have been added as numbers, not as full links, which I think is a very good way to provide links within an article. It may already be Wikipractice - I'm don't know. Some articles call for a lot of links, esp (as in this case) where an illustration is a constructive part of the article. In this particular instance I feel there are too many of the same type of picture links - several of the police cars from different angles for example. Martin TB 17:20, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I despise the naked number-links. If the image is free, upload it. If you need to refer to an unfree image, create a footnote, where you describe the link (i.e. the user doesn't just have to trust you and follow an unspecified link, but rather you say eg. "see this-or-that article on from Aug 2001"). Only link to sites that are relevant and stable (not to random images you found on google that may be gone next month) dab 17:46, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Voting rules

What exactly constitutes consensus in voting on a wikipedia article? preliminary deletion got 73% of votes. I would have thought that this was more than enough to let it pass. If there is a set policy regarding this could it be linked to? Barnaby dawson 12:09, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There's a difference between building a consensus and qualified majority voting. For a true consensus, all objections need to be met so that everyone can participate in the outcome. For most decisions here, it seems like we talk about a consensus, but use qualified majorities of 70 or 80%. Filiocht 12:26, Dec 2, 2004 (UTC)

Ah, but what exactly constitutes a vote? Over at Wikipedia talk:Three revert rule enforcement a number of editors are taking the view that making a comment constitutes a vote. Is that really right? jguk 13:06, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

The point here is that there ought to be a page clarifying these points. However I have been unable to find one. Anyone know if such a page exists? Barnaby dawson 15:23, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think there is at least one page with at least part of what you're looking for. I'm not sure of the exact name, but it has to do with "surveys" or "polls." One point is that it advises spelling out the rules for the vote beforehand. Maurreen 16:27, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
A useful guideline (to spell out in rules beforehand), is to mark your vote in boldface, as in WP:VFD's Keep or Delete, or in WP:FAC's Support or Object. The onus is then on the person commenting to add a few extra apostrophes to make sure their vote is counted. An alternative is to have different sections for Yes or No votes, with a comments in each section counting as Yes or No. This only works with questions that can be stated very clearly in a Yes/No fashion, though -- anything with more than two options, or is receptive to extended "Yes, but..." or "No, except..." answers, only complicates the issue. [[User:CatherineMunro|Catherine\talk]] 18:54, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Style guide

I'd like to encourage wider input at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style.

The disagreements concern:

  1. The quote at the beginning of style guide.
  2. Fowler's "good" guidelines.
  3. The expressions "period" and "full stop."
  4. The serial comma.
  5. "U.S."

Thanks. Maurreen 07:54, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)


OK, I've just noticed two edits which parse a [[Infosecpedia:Foo]] tag: [3], [4].

Is there any policy on when or how to use links to external Wikis? — Matt 12:30, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Hmm, I'm not really happy with those kind of edits, just because the infosecpedia: shortcut is there doesn't mean it's equal to an internal link (cf. google:). Hyperlinking the title of an article to elsewhere is rather bad form too I think, that link should be in "see also", or more realistically, "External links" (even though it has a shortcut instead of an url). --fvw* 13:49, 2004 Dec 6 (UTC)
You're right, hyperlinking the title was bad form. I regretted it as I considered it later. --Chris Brown 22:11, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In regards to "just because the infosecpedia: shortcut is there doesn't mean it's equal to an internal link (cf. google:)", there is the question of "quality" - which I hadn't questioned because of my expectations of what Infosecpedia will become and how I expect it to be governed similarly to Wikipedia. --Chris Brown 22:45, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Being that I was the one that created the edits of the form [[Infosecpedia:Foo]], I thought I might explain myself. I looked for an applicable policy but found none at the time. (I've since found the possibly applicable Wikipedia:Soft_redirect). I spent some time considering the best way to do the link for a few weeks before submitting Infosecpedia as an interwiki link and before making my two recent edits. The answer I came up with was based more on philosophy than practicality, although I made some practical considerations as well. My reasoning follows:
Philosophical considerations: The core question I asked was: Is Wikipedia more of something with defined border and sharp edges, or more of a way of accomplishing something. Certainly it is managed with defined borders, but how does it naturally fit into the web as a whole or into the web of wikis in particular? If Wikipedia is more of a place and wants to be primarily self contained with some external links, then we should consistently use external links, including for all the WikiMedia projects. However, the web derives part of its usefulness from the ability to create links from one site to another. I viewed interwiki links as an evolution of this usefulness.
Practical considerations: From a very practical standpoint the interwiki mechanism is present, was written with some use in mind, and has some advantages. The form [[Infosecpedia:Foo]] gives a name of a source and a topic, leaving the details of how to get to the source (the url) to the interwiki mechanism, and is easy to use. In contrast, the form [ Foo] not only encodes the source and topic, but also how to get there. It is cumbersome and, well, lacks the elegance of the interwiki form. Also, in this particular case, the project will be moving from to in the next month or two. Using interwiki to create cross-linkages between Infosecpedia and Wikipedia means that there is just one adjustment to the interwiki, rather than tracking down and editing of all the Wikipedia articles that link to Infosecpedia. The interwiki form also provides protection from software changes and leaves me free of worry about the ability or inability to do apache rewrites from one hosting company to another. -- (sig won't work, but it's Chris again)
I'll sidestep the philosophical question, but I found this policy: "Don't use external links where we'll want Wikipedia links. Don't put in links like this to external URLs linking text that we will want articles on Wikipedia about. Put external links in an "External links" section at the end of the article. For example, if you're writing an article about Descartes and you know of a great article about rationalism online, don't link the word "rationalism" to that article. Simply wikify the word rationalism, and add an "External Links" section with an external link to the source (perhaps in both articles).Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles. — Matt 10:08, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

GFDL Thoughts

The more I read about the GFDL license the more I think that Wikipedia should be duel licensed with a creative commons license.

After deciding which Creative Commons license to use (probably CC by atribution ) all the new materials added would be CC/GFDL but the old materials would still be GFDL unless people authorized their work to also be CC.

Overtime most of the GFDL only stuff would be replaced by CC/GFDL material. Mozilla Firefox is doing a similiar procedure converting their code from MPL to MPL/GPL/LGPL code 'trilicense'.

Update: I got some interesting information on a couple of project pages that have this same idea. Guide_to_the_CC_dual-license and Wikipedia:Multi-licensing are projects in which users can duel license their own content themselves.

Please sign your posts. We have no idea who you are. The problem is, that there have been thousands of editors who have released their material to the GFDL, who may object to re-releasing them to any other license. It is also impossible to recontact all of those editors to even see IF they agree to that release. That means the dual licensing would have to refer only to items released AFTER a particular point in time, and meaning dual versions of articles and of Wikipedia itself. RickK 07:04, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Yes, this is a problem, but over time a large proportion of the GFDL only material could be relicensed or replaced, having, say, half of the 'pedia under a sensible license is better than none! Mark Richards 15:55, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

You're not the first person to bring this up. The next problem is that the cvs system that MediaWiki uses isn't accurate enough to tell who contributed what parts of an article when. The historical diff is only a best guess and isn't accurate enough for this use. However, I'm not a coder - maybe we could get a more accurate cvs system? I've been down this same road before - but who knows, perhaps the horse will learn to sing this time.

Also, I believe that attribution-sharealike might be closer to the licensing scheme most Wikipedians would want. The straight attirbution variant does not require that derivative works be released back to the community. An even better system would have one or more required license(s) that submitted work would have to be released under, and then allow the user to specify what additional licenses they wish to release their work under. This would include public domain and granting non-exclusive copyright to the WikiMedia foundation. Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom says that the easiest way to do this would be to fork the Wikipedia community and start over with an empty database.

But perhaps the conventional wisdom might be proven wrong even at this late date. Coders? Could we upgrade to a better cvs system? crazyeddie 07:05, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Here's a previous discussion on the subject: Wikipedia_talk:Creative_commons_migration crazyeddie 22:52, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

For people who are reading this exchange and are bumping up against the copyleft incompatibility problem for the first time, you might want to show your support by dual or multi- licensing your work. To dual-license your work under the CC-by-sa, put this at the top of your userpage: {{DualLicenseWithCC-BySA-Dual}} crazyeddie 07:49, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Addition of category: National anthems

Completely fresh at this, but with an idea:

Would it be an idea to make a category for national anthems, listing all of them in the same standard form used in many other categories, ex. Feature X of country Y, Capital X of country Y etc.? Instead of such as now, we're searching for "Ja, vi elsker" or "God save the Queen", one could have a list with "National Anthem of Norway: JVE" and "National Anthem of Great Britain: GSTQ".

Example of what I mean: List_of_capitals_and_larger_cities_by_country

Very sorry if I put things in wrong category, or if I'm just generally being dim. Hi, I'm new here. --TVPR 22:05, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

  • Right, but the listing is very little standardized. Some have the name of the anthem, some have the nationality and some do not. A listing with country as well, as in Category:Capitals - would be a good step to improve categorization standardization. --TVPR 07:50, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • Well, there is List of national anthems, if you want a list. I'm not sure why you would need to do this through the category method as well. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:36, Dec 9, 2004 (UTC)
      • Sorry, I didn't come across this - even if I did look. Um, hello, I'm new here :) --TVPR 08:02, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

User accounts

I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that registered user accounts were intended for the use of one individual only, not for a "group." The reason I bring it up is because of the following account: User:Asexual same-sex marriage, on whose user page is the following message:

"We are group of people who are advocates of the asexual same-sex marriage, and we want the marriage between asexual same-sex partners to be recognized by society. Please help asexual same-sex couples to get all legal rights the normal couples (the gay or the different sex ones) have. Our main problem is that our sanctioned platonic love bond is not recognized in most of the states. In the states where our marriage is recognized we are categorized as gay couples, which is not our case as long as we are against sexual relashionships in a same-sex married couple. """thank you."

Now, this smacks of advertising to me (never mind that the user(s) has been making non-NPOV edits to the Same-sex marriage article which reflect his/her/their stated mission.


Exploding Boy 21:26, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)

I don't know that the issue has ever come up. I'm against it, personally. -- Cyrius| 18:20, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
What, are we going to censor user pages? That's a pretty hopeless wish. Let's face it, people can put all sorts of bollocks on their personal pages—as long as it's not breaking any laws or violating policy like Wikipedia:no personal attacks, what are you going to do? As for advertising: it's not as if they're encouraging you to subscribe to their magazine. They don't even mention a website. It's POV and agenda-pushing for sure, but user pages are not articles—I can think of a lot of user pages that would have to be seriously edited if those were not allowed. (And let's be fair: if this is a "group" of people, I'm the emperor of China—in fact, I shall go off right now to state that on my user page... or maybe not). JRM 20:24, 2004 Dec 8 (UTC)

I think the question is more about whether user accounts can be used by more than one person--difficult to police, I know, but worth figuring out, I think. But the question of whether to allow advertising on user pages is also a valid one. And you can't be the emperor of China. The position is taken. Exploding Boy 00:07, Dec 9, 2004 (UTC)

Multiple Currencies?

I've recently been coming across entries which include a value and the 'equivalent' in other currencies (usually Pound Sterling, Euro, and US Dollar) of the form "The new waterway will cost about £150M (€220M,US$240M)... ". With the recent slide of the USD and rise of the EUR this values will increasingly get out of date, and as there is no template in use to locate or provide these alternatives then updating them manually when an editor discovers them will be the only way, which is unlikely to happen regularly. Without any accuracy they will lose all value.

I believe that we either need to scrap the alternatives, only listing in the local currency, or need to template the location or calculation of such alternatives to ease maintainence.

Comments? --[[User:VampWillow|Vamp:Willow]] 11:43, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Part of a larger problem. Even amounts in a single currency get outdated by inflation, needing an additional amount in "currentcy" to not mislead the reader (though Wikipedia arguably hasn't existed long enough yet for that to be a big problem). Would suggest keeping it down to local currency as much as possible for the short run, new syntax/autolinking of currencies/updated Manual of Style for the long run. JRM 12:21, 2004 Dec 7 (UTC)

All currency amounts should be associated with a date, for example:

  • "HMS Royal Oak was laid down in 1914 and commissioned in 1916 having cost almost £2.5 million."
  • "The Boeing 707 cost $16 million to develop between 1952 and 1954."

Gdr 15:13, 2004 Dec 7 (UTC)

  • Concur with Gdr -- always use local currency associated with a date. Let the reader make their own calculations. Perhaps we can start a wikiproject somewhere to make money calculations easier? --Improv 16:02, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
    • I disagree, if I mention that a person bought a piece of land in 1556 for two crowns I think it is unreasonable for our readers to be expected to track down what that amount means. - SimonP 06:45, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

Local currency associated (explicitly or implicitly) with a date should pretty much always be there, but I agree with SimonP that it's not always enough. An example of a way to handle this (from the article Nicolae Ceausescu) is "Ceauşescu's official annual salary was 18000 lei (equivalent to 3,000 U.S. dollars at the official exchange rate)." Note that, in this case we need to say "at the official exchange rate" because the black market rate differed by a factor of 10 or so.

Also tricky is that the local-currency number may be totally unavailable or totally meaningless. For example,

  • Some transactions are dollar-, pound-, or euro-denominated even where those are not the local currency. It is not unusual in contemporary Romania to denominate a contract in U.S. dollars (to get around laws requiring that they use the local currency, a contract may refer to something like "the equivalent in Romanian lei of US$1000"); I'm sure that there are many other countries with similar situations.
  • It would usually be useless to give a number in a currency that was undergoing hyperinflation (where a given number would have a radically different meaning from day to day).

-- Jmabel | Talk 07:54, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)

I think that explanations of the changing value of a currency need to go in the article for that currency. We absolutely should not be asking editors to do this in individual articles because (1) any numbers we give will quickly go out of date; (2) it's really hard even for specialists in the field; and (3) no one number can give an adequate impression of change of value (manufactured goods have become cheaper while labour has become more expensive). See [5] for a comparison of several methods of computing the present value of a sum of money in the past. Gdr 14:25, 2004 Dec 8 (UTC)
I disagree about the value getting out of date. To take the original example, if I read about a new waterway was built in 1994, and the article says it cost US$240M, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me, and I don't expect someone to go back and update the article next year, to account for inflation. (The US Dollar is my local currency). If the waterway happend to be in Romania, would expect to see that it "...cost XXX million Romanian Lei, which was the equivalent of YYY million US Dollars". That would convey the cost in a way that I (an American) can understand, and it would not need updating over time. 16:39, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)
Where it is only inflation then I am less bothered about it; many readers will note the date concerned and be aware of the approximate equivalent value. The issue is that of currency exchange rate fluctation as the actual amount in the original currency may have changed little (or by local inflation) but the equivalent in the other currency(ies) changed wildly. I had got in the habit of thinking UKP1 was roughly equal to USD1.50, currently it is USD1.90 ! --[[User:VampWillow|Vamp:Willow]] 17:08, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I don't quite understand your (Vamp:Willow's) point. If I report that sometime in the past someone in the UK was paid "100,000 pounds (equivalent to 150,000 dollars)" that is still true: those pounds indeed had about the same value (to the person being paid) as would have the given number of dollars. The fact that the exchange rate has changed a lot since then does not really effect the truth of the statement, any more than inflation would have. I know that it is not this simple, but in general things in the UK now cost more (in terms of my dollars) than they used to. That means (that from my point of view) that prices of things in the UK (including both this specific thing, and things in general) have gone up since then. Morris 18:12, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)
To the anonymous editor who said above, "I disagree about the value getting out of date. To take the original example, if I read about a new waterway was built in 1994, and the article says it cost US$240M, that sounds perfectly reasonable to me": $1.00 in 1994 converts to $1.24 in 2003, so the original $240M would now be more than $297M (according to the Consumer Price Index method which is quite conservative; other methods generally give larger numbers; see [6]). Gdr 19:07, 2004 Dec 8 (UTC)
Sorry about being anonymous. As a new editor, I confused the four tilde and five tilde notations. I am Morris 19:29, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC). On the substance: Any amount of money from ten years ago is "equivalent" to a different amount of money today. The effects of inflation are apparent even if you are only dealing with one currency. I assume that you are not suggesting that all amounts of money should be adjusted to current purchasing power (even assuming that there was an agreed upon method to do so)? A lot of articles mention how much money something cost long ago, and it is AFAIK understood that due to inflation it would cost more today. My point is really that just as I think that those articles are fine, I think that articles that mention the amount of money in two different currencies are also fine (for much the same reason). Morris 19:29, Dec 8, 2004 (UTC)
We seem to be agreeing violently here... Gdr 21:35, 2004 Dec 8 (UTC)

Interwiki redirects

Check out intermodal. Oh, wait, you can't. It redirects to wiktionary, which makes editing and viewing the history of the originating article difficult for casual viewers. You have to manually edit the URL.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? Wiktionary links, IMO, should be only within an article, not a redirect. yes/no? --Golbez 06:09, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)

It should probably be converted to a soft redirect. —AlanBarrett 19:49, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Shouldn't this page be deleted or redirected to something in wikipedia? We have no content to provide at that title, and actually there is a wiktionary link on every "This page doesn't exist" page. ✏ Sverdrup 20:17, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Keeping articles that are being worked on from going through deletion

Looking through VfD, I noticed a case in which a substub, properly marked as a speedie, was actually under continuing work, and this somehow did not become clear before a painful controversy got started. It seems like this could be helped by making the option of working on a user subpage more well known, and changing policy such that stubs, if made by logged in users, are not deleted but moved to user subpages as a first response. Thoughts? JesseW 07:28, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like the situation you describe would normally be averted because VfD voters look at the article and would see that it is being built. Maurreen 17:14, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Isn't there a template that editors can put on articles they're working on that says basically "Under construction"? If this were used more often, articles that really are undergoing edits would be less likely to be tagged for deletion. Joyous 21:03, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)
IMHO this is a real problem which causes unnecessary biting of newbies and unnecessary friction between the inclusionist/deletionist factions. But I'm not quite sure what the solution is.
Adding further instructions probably won't help. Templates? Will newbies use a template? I remember having my work cut out just trying to figure out basic Wiki syntax; I don't think I used a template until I'd been editing for weeks. Besides, unless the template has some built-in countdown clock or expiration date, you would end up with situations where people would be reluctant to delete royally-speedy-deletable substubs that hadn't been worked on in weeks, that had an "under construction tag," because you could never be sure that the editor wasn't about to add something fabulous in the next five minutes.
Maybe all new articles could automatically go into a user subpage? That is, the only way to create an article would be via a move from a user subpage or some kind of holding area. Unless it's really obvious how to do that, though, it interferes with the traditional Wikipedian ideal of "zero-threshold editing."
A cruder solution might be to prevent creation of new articles that are less than (say) 250 characters long. I wonder what effect that would actually have? [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 00:47, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Most likely: nitwits inserting 249 bogus characters to bump their new article over the limit. HTH HAND --Phil | Talk 12:09, Nov 26, 2004 (UTC)
If I was working on an article, and I noticed that it had the speedy deletion tag added to it, I would simply remove it. Speedy deletion is for uncontentious deletions, such as obvious trolling and mis-named duplicates, and if I disagree with it, then it is not uncontentious. PhilHibbs 11:29, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)
One thing that would be pretty cool, and useful sometimes, would be something akin to a "save draft" function. Especially when working on a new page, sometimes I might do half the write up, and then have to log off for example. (Of course, I could always save it in my email programme, and then copy and paste it the next time around, but still). Maybe drafts of articles under work could be accessible in my personal userspace. (Another short comment; there should be a short link of reference to most used templates etc on the edit page, I always find myself going hunting whenever I want to include math, put up a note for speedy deletion, etc). Hou Shuang 16:33, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)
You can create a user subpage for rough drafts. Just make a new page called User:Houshuang/rough draft (or whatever clever title makes you happy), and create your new articles there. Write half-finished articles to your heart's content and log off when you like. You can copy & paste the finished article into the real namespace when it's done. Joyous 17:51, Dec 11, 2004 (UTC)

Contributions from the associate director of ACSH on the ACSH article

For several years now there's been a very low-intensity edit war over on the DDT article over how much funding the American Council on Science and Health gets from industry sources and whether that has an impact on their impartiality. An anonymous user - it seems to have been the same one throughout, the wording he's used is consistent - has kept trying to play down industry connections, and other users have found sources showing they're more significant than he lets on. I finally split out that material into the article American Council on Science and Health so that DDT could remain more stable from now on and the anonymous user came in and made his changes again over there, but this time he announced that he was Jeff Stier (the Associate Director of ACSH, in charge of external affairs among other things). Assuming this is true, how do we handle contributions from "involved" people like this? On the one hand he's got access to a great deal of information, but on the other hand it just gives weight to my perception that he's been rather partisan. Bryan 16:45, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC) (small update: I emailed Jeff Stier to confirm that it is him, and he responded that it was.)

He should be encouraged to provide any and all information that he is willing to(maybe on the Talk page), but should be gently reminded that it is Wikipedia policy for involved people not to directly edit articles on subjects they are involved in. Basically, he should post on the Talk page, not the article. JesseW 01:05, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I dosn't really matter who an editor is. What matters is whether the facts are verifiable, that is published in some reliable source. Paul August 21:10, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)

Upcoming Arbitration Committee election

Based on some preliminary discussions, a proposal has been formulated for the next Arbitration Committee election, to be held in December. --Michael Snow 04:46, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Suggestion on PROT, NPOV and edit/revert war articles

In most cases, disputed articles are resolved by means of the Talk page. But often they arent. In some cases the article is locked, and development stalls, in other cases there is a valid NPOV point but no progress is made until one or other contributor gives up and goes away, which is fair but not the best version of neutrality (see stale NPOV discussion above).

Ideally the handling of disputed articles should:

  • Where possible not freeze development of the article as a whole (edit wars imply an individual in breach wiki policy, and hence represent a problem with some individual(s), not the article)
  • Not encourage articles to become locked (except in cases of actual vandalism)
  • Not encourage articles to become described as disputed overall if the actual issue is in reality small scale (eg section or word use)
  • Minimise the time that articles are in dispute

A way that might work is to refine the use of tags so that heavy handed measures (NPOV or PROT on a whole article is quite heavy) are much less needed and mostly reserved for dealing with pollicy breach not article disagreement. Compare two articles:

  • In September 11, 2001 attacks the entire article was NPOV'd at one point with the main reason being a debate basically whether "terrorism" was right or not. But that tag arose not because the article as a whole was in dispute, just one term used in it.
  • In the Pursuit_of_Nazi_collaborators article an NPOV tag was added because the title was possibly NPOV, and there was debate what the scope of the article should be. But that labelled the entirety of the article and all facts as disputed, where they actually weren't.
  • In Paraphilia there was an argument that the entire article's approach was not neutral. In such a case a NPOV tag is more appropriate.

In fact, on Paraphilia, I chose {{POVCheck}} and not {{NPOV}}, meaning "This article may need to be reworded to conform to a neutral point of view; however, the neutrality of this article is not necessarily disputed", which was more accurate, so as not to mislead readers of the present article that there was more doubt than was the case. Because I didnt want visitors to be faced with an article that was 70% right and yet be told at the top, "this is all disputed".

What comes across clearly to me is,

  • There need to be some more appropriate tags which are more applicable to smaller scale dispute
  • In case of dispute, use of minimal tags where reasonable are so preferable this should be wiki policy
    • (A minimal tag can be left longer as it doesn't lock or cast doubt on the whole article)
  • The tags applicable to disputed words/sections/articles need to be made much easier to find (maybe a link on the edit page?)
  • Once a disputed aspect of an article is tagged, revert and edit wars on that point are not permitted. Sysops may select what they feel is a fairly balanced wording for the time being, and provided it's tagged as "disputed", the rest is kept to the talk page until agreed.
  • Major tags such as NPOV which affect entire articles should by policy only be appropriate if the entire article or major parts of it are disputed
  • Tages such as PROT should only be needed to prevent vandalism and/or revert/edits against wiki policy, by users who do not respect sysop decision.
    • (But any article content dispute can be resolved as above so PROT shouldn't be as necessary)
  • PROT especially should be used slightly differently. If an article needs protecting from one user, then that user is the person who must be blocked or asked to stick to the talk page, not the article. Only if the article is subject to anarchic major editing from multiple sources should PROT be needed.

Examples of new small scale tags I'd suggest (ok they arent perfect but its an idea someone else could develop upon):

  • "This section is being developed or reviewed. Some statements may not be neutral or may be disputed at present. Please see Talk page before editing"
  • "There is dispute over the usage of the following words, which may not be neutral or may be disputed. Please see the talk page. This article retains the existing words until consensus is reached"
  • "This is a fast changing article and many areas are being developed at a time. Lesser disputes such as posisble individual NPOV words have been left to a side while the article as a whole is developed. These should be discused on the Talk page rather than allowed to override the development of the article as a whole."
  • "This article is subject to regular edit and revert wars, and the administrators of Wikipedia have agreed a wording which they feel comfortable is not unreasonable for the time being. The article is left open for development, but these aspects should not be changed until a better consensus is reached and the matters on the Talk page are resolved."
  • "The following words are not considered neutral by some, and are actively being discussed on the Talk page"

In summary, the changes would be:

  • Specifying that users should wherever possible use the most appropriate tag (not just "NPOV")
  • Encouraging lesser levers of dispute,
  • Requiring proper tagging, not just NPOV for everything, possibly by a "tags help" next to the "editing help" on the edit page
  • Allowing sysops to specify a relatively neutral wording until a better consensus is reached

wiki can keep more articles open and reduce the number where the whole article is marked as disputed, without in any way reducing people's power to contribute individually.

Its a raw suggestion with many holes in right now, but the heart of it - better use of tags disputing a word or section without casting the whole article into doubt, ways to say "yes we disagree on X but lets come back to it" and ways for a sysop to say "use that wording until you get a better consensus", could help free up many locked and stalled articles, allow faster ways to resolve edit wars, and that would benefit everybody.

FT2 21:21, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

I think the above proposal has considerable merit. Paul August 20:55, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)

A proposal to codify unwritten rule about anonymous editing

Please see Wikipedia:Welcome anonymous editing, and comment at Wikipedia talk:Welcome anonymous editing.

The proposed policy-page is written in the community voice. If you disagree with the gist of it, please expand and edit it to reflect the current unwritten wikipedia policy as regards anonymous editing, and its ideal reception. It is not intended to create new policy, but to codify the current practise.

Please use the talkpage if you disagree with current practise or disagree with codifying it into policy. You may of course disagree with the way the policy is formulated, in which case you should enjoy the liberty of wiki-editing and improve the wording to reflect the true wikipedia policy as it is currently practised but not codified. -- unsigned

Redirect policy

What is the Wikipedia redirect policy on pages that have been created for simple redirects because of plurals and/or grammarical usage? I have noticed that User:SPUI has been adding a lot of redirects. See Special:Contributions of SPUI, 500 edits per page -- AllyUnion (talk) 15:22, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This seems to be part of the "Missing Redirects" project at User:Nickj/Redirects. FWIW, redirects are essentially free and seldom a problem, but there is always WP:RFD. -- ALoan (Talk) 18:49, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Image deletion policy

Would someone please advise me & the community on image deletion policy; specifically a couple of things:

  1. . Is it policy to delete orphan images - those which are not used in articles?
  2. . What is the policy in this respect as far as the Commons [7] is concerned? Must images on the Commons be linked to articles, or are orphans welcomed there?

I've trawled around wikipedia image & deletion policy, but cannot get a handle on it :( --Tagishsimon (talk)

I think the answer to your first question is generally yes. The only policy quidelines for deletion of images, that I'm aware of is here: Wikipedia talk:Images and media for deletion. Paul August 04:14, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)


Shouldn't articles that are specific to trademarked names be using the HTML trademark tag in the text? I.e. &reg;, which results in a ®. I've only seen one article thus far (Civilization (board game)) that has actually done this, so I just wondered if this was of concern as a legal issue. Thank you. — RJH 00:10, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think the style guide says that's not needed. Maurreen 05:05, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Bayesian approach to edits

I think it's easier if we develop a Bayesian Flitering Edit system. The RC patrol can mark edits for a Bayesian filter to show what kind of changes are considered as "spamish" or "trollish"... in our case, "vandalism." Then in the RC changes, have a percentage listing how much of a chance that the article was vandalised by the edit. Factors would include large amounts of missing text, large amounts of added links, and so on, and so forth.

Basically the idea is: we take the approach of vandalism the same approach we take spam. The more users agreeing the specific edit was vandalism, the more our filtering system will understand what edits were vandalism and what edits are not vandalism.

After all, if we can develop Bayesian filters for spam which learn what is wanted and what is not wanted, why not have the same ability for our edits?

Granted, there are some complex technical issues that will need to be addressed, and whether or not we will consider developing a trust network... but I think it is safe to say if we did a rating system, we could base it on a person's access control and whether they are an Admin, Board member, etc.

Or, the system would automatically mark you down if your vote of the edit is against the majority.

Of course, to prevent abuse, we can exclude certain known vandals from preventing from editing, and prevent anonymous people from voting as well.

Additionally, the filtering system would work to our advantage: Both bad and good edits would be marked by the system. This way, our system would have more and more accurate reflection of what is a good edit and what is a bad edit.

-- AllyUnion (talk) 09:24, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)

By the way, as suggested by Khendon in IRC, a feed could be done on a separate server of the recent changes. Basically, what would need to be logged is the differences (diff) of the edits. Then all it is marking which "differences" are bad and good. -- AllyUnion (talk) 09:47, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Of course, such a system would also help train vandals to commit vandalism that was harder to detect. (It's not at all like spam: if spammers could easily test their messages against your filter, they would soon figure out how to defeat it.) Gdr 15:44, 2004 Dec 12 (UTC)

Stricter Edit Policies

I am sure this must have been mentioned a million times before, but I will post it anyway. Anonymous users should not be able to edit. That would end 99% of vandalism. Moreover, to get an account, people must have a valid ISP assigned email address. This would solve the problem of blocking a range of IPs to block one user. Someone must have been opposed to these changes, because I am sure it must have been mention many times before. OneGuy 17:46, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It has been discussed extensively in the past; see m:Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles and related pages. —No-One Jones 00:48, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, discussed but nothing was done about it, apparently. Probably people who can make these changes are either opposed, not interested, or don't think it's an urgent problem. But I am sure most people would agree it's a serious problem. The amount of vandalism is huge. Plus, there are many other problems. apparently is a proxy server for the largest ISP in South Africa. If you block that for vandalism or any other reason, you block many other users too. The solution is very simple. Only users who have accounts with a valid ISP assigned emails should be able to edit. Until this change is made, many good editors would probably think this place is a waste of time and leave OneGuy 16:48, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In any case, I posted the argument on the talk page there why registration is good m:Talk:Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles. I doubt anything would happen though since most people seem to be opposed to the idea OneGuy 18:54, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It has been discussed, and most people think it is a bad idea. Sure, let's have the conversation again, it might be different this time, but people value anons being able to edit, and to be honest, the most troublesome contributors have accounts. Anons are easy to spot. Intrigue 20:10, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I saw the discussion on m:Talk:Anonymous users should not be allowed to edit articles but didn't see the topic of how to deal with consistent trolls and subtle abusers/POV pushers who are not occasional random vandals (which apparently is not a problem). I would like to see a response to the arguments I posted on that talk page OneGuy 20:28, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I started this article Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement. I was not sure if that was the right way for RfC, creating a new article? At any rate, as soon as I posted it, someone voted to "oppose" it. O well, I am not sure if he even read the whole thing before he voted. Apparently most people are going to oppose the idea. I still would like to see more comments here: Wikipedia:Disabling edits by unregistered users and stricter registration requirement.

I find myself agreeing a lot with OneGuy these days, but why not. Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree, with ISP mail account requirement being only exception. Anyone with a mail addy should be allowed to register.
My agreeing is because the situation, the way I see it, is that it takes what, 2 minutes to register? And if someone is dedicated enough to take the time and effort to add intelligent input to Wikipedia, there's no way they won't have time to register. Also, even if most vandalism is done by registered users (which I must admit I have seen nothing of, rather the contrary), they are easier to get rid of than anons. To top this off, when I connect via my dial-up at home, I get a totally different IP for every connect. Ergo; if I vandalise anonymously, ban my IP. What happens? Next time I connect, I can keep on destroying wikipedia, as my IP is completely new, while some other sucker, using my old IP, is suddenly banned instead. So what will you do? Ban the entire applicable IP range? Then most of Norway, as a whole, falls out of Wikipedia - even, I suspect, registered users on that IP range. --TVPR 10:11, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Image layout/captions

  1. I think I remember seeing a guideline suggesting image captions be in italics, but now can't find it. Am I remembering incorrectly, or has the guideline changed, or am I just not finding the guideline that mentions it?
  2. Similarly, the de facto standard for the placement of the first image in an article is right-aligned, but I can't find that as a documented policy or guideline.
Can anyone help clarify this? Wikipedia:Guide to layout and Wikipedia:Image use policy refer to Wikipedia:Guide to layout, which doesn't explicitly address either issue. Ah, I did finally find Wikipedia:Image markup with HTML, which also doesn't explictly state a preference, but does use italic wikimarkup in its examples, unlike some of the others. Do guidelines exist for either of these issues? Shouldn't they? Niteowlneils 23:07, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
For example, this looks ugly to me[8], and this[9] not much better. Niteowlneils 23:19, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Isn't the caption text formatting to be left to the "new" feature?
After some discussion, the idea to right-align every first image was discarded.
-- User:Docu
Personally I hate the first image being anywhere but on the right - it messes with the TOC and doesn't seem intuitive. I've changed those two articles to (what I think is) a better layout. violet/riga (t) 18:33, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It should be noted that Wikipedia:Image markup with HTML is deprecated and HTML should be avoided if possible. Instead, refer to Wikipedia:Extended image syntax for a discussion of how to add images. There is no need to italicize image captions; it is better to use the default style. —Mike 03:22, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

"Stealers" google-score best than us

Look at all those Wikipedia content stealers which score better than us in Google searches: searching for Embree Trefethen I got several of them :-((( But what can be done ? Nothing. GFDL was the wrong choice, IMO.

At first sight (I haven't checked the links because I don't want them to earn any cent of money from this):

Granted, some add some value by providing additional useful links (last I checked — of course, some of these added links are mere commercials...)

(Sorry for the rant. This is not intended as trolling, but as sharing of my feelings with respect to this.)

--FvdP 21:12, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

it is annoying. I just see them as free backup, though. Anyone with any brains will at once recognize them for what they are, and come to WP anyway. And the others, well, no harm done. Th trouble is fact checking. They blindly multiply google hits for any random fact posted on WP, and when you want to evaluate its merit, they are difficult to filter out. There was a case where I googled for a dubitable term, and some 1400 out of 1800 google hits turned out to be from these 'mirrors'... dab 22:33, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Send in the clones. — Matt 13:25, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I did a Google search on a string "Henry Percy raised a small group of retainers, likely about 200" which occures in Wikipedia on the Battle of "Battle of Shrewsbury" page. Google returns and clicking on "repeat the search with the omitted results included." returns 38 pages. Most of the clones tend to have a clear mention of Wikipedia at the bottom of their pages, but these sites:

--Philip Baird Shearer 19:44, 26 Nov 2004 (UTC)

With Google it's possible to name sites that you don't wish to be included in the search with -site:<site URL>, but to exclude them all is a long string. I keep a copy of a string to exclude Wikipedia clones, amongst others, on my note pad and append it to the search, if required.
Maxx 15:36, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Maybe they are employing some form of PageRank stealing? Like an advanced version of a Google bomb? Well, somehow, "" has managed to worm its way to the top... I've never heard of this site until recently. --AllyUnion (talk) 22:04, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

In fact... They have only been around for a year, plus it doesn't seem they mirrored the Wikipedia until recently.*/ --AllyUnion (talk) 22:10, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There was one thing that I thought about for a while, and I do not know the details of the license well enough. Perhaps someone else can help. The "stealers" frequently combine Wikipedia content with advertising bars. Does that constitute a compound document that in itself must again be put under a free license? Some of the ads use advertising slogans, e.g. from ebay "3..2..1.etc." ould that place these slogans under a free license, so that the open source community could adapt and reuse these slogans for their purpose? If that were the consequences of our licence, maybe those who are paying for the ads would no longer want that? And then these stealers would stop? 19:32, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)

(Warning: This is not legal advice.)
It is not legal for another site to republish GFDL content admixed with non-free content such as many advertising banners. To do so exceeds the terms under which the GFDL content is licensed to that other site. This makes it a copyright violation. (Not a "license violation" -- they've stepped outside of licensed conduct and are therefore in violation of perfectly ordinary copyright laws.)
One response would be to contact the ISPs or hosting services and inform them that a customer is pirating copyrighted material. This can be done with various degrees of formality. In the U.S., for instance, a copyright holder can send an OCILLA notification of infringement (aka "DMCA takedown notice"). If the ISP does not remove the material, they take on contributory liability for the copyright infringement. Note that in order to send such a notice, you have to be the copyright holder (or a designated agent thereof) for the infringed work. Wikipedia can't complain, since it is not the copyright holder for most article content -- the authors are; under the GFDL, Wikipedia is just a licensee of the authors of each article.
On the issue of Google ranking, I have to suspect that Wikipedians getting in touch with Google would probably suffice -- in general, Google is Not Amused by search engine spamming. --FOo 06:06, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)