Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2006-11-13/Technology report

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Bugs, Repairs, and Internal Operational News

By Simetrical, November 12, 2006

Since the last edition

Since the last edition of the technology report, there have been a number of noteworthy changes to software and server configuration. Most significantly, the AntiSpoof extension (written by Neil Harris in Python and translated to PHP by Brion Vibber) has been enabled on all Wikimedia sites. It is now impossible to register usernames that are too similar to ones already registered on the wiki. Due to concerns that the restrictions were too harsh, they were relaxed less than a day before press time, and discussion is ongoing on the mailing list as to what changes exactly should be made to the code to strike the right balance between false positives and false negatives.

Nick Jenkins, Simetrical, Evan Prodromou, Andrew Garrett, and Jason Richey have become developers and now have general-purpose access to Subversion.

Additionally, various new features were added, including:

  • The @ character is now forbidden in usernames, with Brion Vibber having blacklisted it in r16658. The original concern raised in bug 6849 was that a common cause of unneeded blocks was users signing up with e-mail addresses as their names, against the English Wikipedia's policy. Brion did not comment on that concern, but rather said that the symbol "interferes with multi-database tools and was meant to be banned years ago". The ban takes effect on every wiki running the MediaWiki software package, including all Wikimedia Foundation wikis.

    Users who already had names with the @ symbol in them will be permitted to log in for the time being, but at some point in the indefinite future it's possible that they'll be renamed. The similar-looking symbol (Unicode character FF20, "full-width commercial at") is not banned.

  • Dozens of new mathematical symbols have been added for <math> tags, all committed by Jens Frank but many of the patches written by Carl Fürstenberg. The added functions are too numerous to list here, but were added in response to bugs 4528, 7749, and 7774, which contain complete lists in the form of patches. Fürstenberg and Frank also fixed a bug in the display of uppercase Greek letters in mathematical formulas, and another bug relating to the syntax of underbraces and arrays.
  • The edit summary box was expanded to 80% of available screen width by Nick Jenkins in r16926. It can be changed back to something closer to its previous form by adding the line #wpSummary { width: 360px } to Special:Mypage/monobook.css (or another skin as appropriate), although that might not be precisely the previous width.
  • A bug that caused the horizontal bars in section headings to visibly pass through floated tables in Monobook was fixed by Simetrical in r16956. This will cause white backgrounds to appear inappropriately on certain tables in wikis (such as the English Wikipedia) that have made incomplete changes to the background colors of some pages. Local administrators can fix inappropriate backgrounds by modifying their wiki's MediaWiki:Monobook.css page.
  • Error messages for misuse of <ref> and <references> tags have been made less technical and more descriptive by Simetrical in r16960 (bug 6554).
  • In response to abuse of the password reminder by blocked IP addresses that repeatedly requested password reminders for other users to harass them (bug 6427), Brion Vibber removed the ability for blocked IP addresses to request passwords in r17147. (Apparently requested thousands of passwords for various users over the course of days. Sysop Jaranda reported receiving almost a thousand password reminders from that IP in a week.)
  • A new extension by Dirk Beetstra, Chemistry, was added to the repository by Rotem Liss in r16831. The extension has not yet been enabled on any Wikimedia site, but may eventually permit easier formatting of chemical formulas.
  • The 'w' and 'd' shortcut keys now no longer have conflicting uses (bug 2241). 'd' had been used for "show changes" in some languages, conflicting with "delete", and on edit pages 'w' was used both for the "watch this page" checkbox and the "watch" tab. In r17118, Simetrical changed all languages' "show changes" shortcut to 'v' (which the English shortcut has been for some time), and set 'w' to refer only to the checkbox on edit pages.
  • Minor edits by bots to talk pages no longer trigger the "you have new messages" notice (bug 3224), as of r17281 by Andrew Garrett.
  • When using named <ref> tags, the one containing the contents of the reference no longer needs to be first (bug 5885). This may help alleviate complaints that lengthy references clutter articles' wikitext and make it difficult to read. Patch is thanks to Phil Boswell, committed by Andrew Garrett in r17382.
  • It is now possible for administrators to disable autoblocks when blocking a username (bug 1294). Andrew Garrett committed a patch in r17338.

This week

The only significant software improvement made this week was retroactive autoblocking (bug 5149), added in r17486 by Andrew Garrett. When a user is blocked, the last IP address that they edited from will be immediately blocked. Previously, it was possible for a blocked user to log out without editing anything and then edit anonymously; this would only be stopped by an autoblock if the user attempted to edit a page before logging out. As an added bonus, CheckUser is now much faster, due to the indices that this modification required.

The Wikimedia Commons now allows users to specify that they should receive e-mail notification for changes to their talk page there, like Meta. (bug 7870, enabled by Brion Vibber)

A number of minor tweaks were made to the interface this week:

  • Two grammatical errors in English messages were fixed. (bug 7826, r17472 and r17474)
  • Edit summary reminders are no longer displayed for null edits (edits which change nothing and do not appear in revision histories), for users with this option enabled. (bug 5365, r17475 by Andrew Garrett)
  • When viewing a diff, minor edits are now marked as such next to their edit summaries. (bug 5936, r17476 by Andrew Garrett)
  • Error messages for uploading of files from URL (not currently enabled on Wikipedia) were improved. (bug 7820, r17478 by Simetrical and Nick Jenkins)
  • The block log now states whether a block has autoblocks enabled or not. (bug 7833, r17491 by Andrew Garrett)
  • Media files have their own heading on category pages. (bug 3687, r17554 by Simetrical)
  • Autoblocks now block account creation if the block that they resulted from had that bit set (r17605; r17606 by Andrew Garrett.

Some changes were made to non-English messages. Internationalization help is always appreciated! See m:Localization statistics for how complete the translations of languages you know are.

  • Cédric submitted a correction to the Occitan language talk namespaces in bug 7810. Brion Vibber changed them in r17446 from "discutida" to the more correct "discussion".
  • An improvement to Upper Sorbian language pluralization was submitted by in bug 7835 and committed by Rotem Liss.
  • Håvard Wall submitted a long list of changes to the Norwegian language messages in bug 7856, correcting spelling errors and poor grammar. The changes were committed by Rotem Liss in r17522.
  • AlefZet submitted updates to Kazakh language messages in bug 7859. The changes were committed by Rotem Liss in r17525 and r17537.
  • Cédric submitted a correction to the Occitan language's time format, committed by Rotem Liss in r17540.
  • Cédric submitted a correction to the Occitan user and user talk namespaces, which were changed from Utilisator to Utilizaire and Discussion Utilisator to Discussion Utilizaire by Rotem Liss in r17543.
  • Shinjiman submitted an update for the Cantonese language in bug 7869, which Rotem Liss committed in r17536.
  • kaikkd submitted an update for Japanese messages in bug 7882. Andrew Garrett committed the update in r17562.

Also this week: Chinese Wikipedia

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