Wikipedia talk:Reference desk

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Racist troll on Humanities[edit]

Whats the procedure for dealing with questions like this ? Iapetus (talk) 10:45, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

WP:RBI or hatting it as has been done is fine. For this sort of obvious trolling even a simple WP:ANV would probably result in a block and since it's an account even if a throwaway one it can be worth pursuing. Nil Einne (talk) 15:18, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
So we apparently have two trolls, a religious-racist troll and an anti-LGBT troll, one of whom is nearly unblockable because they hop around. Semi-protection is effective against trolling from IPs or from throw-away accounts; we just don't want to overuse it. Robert McClenon (talk) 19:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Just keep reverting, keep it boring, they'll get tired. Generally, anyway. There are insane trolls, of course. InedibleHulk (talk) 20:57, July 14, 2015 (UTC)
The "revert" part of RBI requires constant vigilance, and the "block" part requires constant vigilance by an admin. The right answer is semi-protection for a long enough stretch that the troll will go away. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:05, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Not necessarilly. It really depends on how dedicated the troll is. Some trolls give up quickly. So far, it looks like this one did. And as I already mentioned, it's likely an editor like this will be blocked by a report at AIV so you don't require constant admin monitoring. Heck probably even without a warning despite it normally being a requirement. Considering the page was not semi protected after this [1], and they only made one reversion of the closure of their thread [2], before being blocked [3] and so far have not reappeared, all of which happened before I posted, I'm not sure why you're claiming it's always necessary. Sure sometimes trolls are more persistent. In fact the earlier holocaust revisionism troll is probably the same editor (perhaps from Toronto) and they did lead to the RD being protected. But there's no point assuming that semi protection will be needed not least because if it's only been a single account with no recent persistent disruption, a request for semi protection may very well be denied. Or to put it a different way, escalate as and when necessary to semi protection. Nil Einne (talk) 15:59, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
Blocking an IP-hopper is pointless. Semi-protection (for a few days, not 3 hours) is the better solution. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:44, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
Again we're talking an account (albeit a throw away one) not an IP. And semi protected was not needed yet since the editor so far disappeared after that throw away account was blocked. I'm not sure what you mean by a few days, but that editor has not reappeared so far nor other editors bothering the RDh and it's been over 2, so protecting the page for those 2 days would have actually achieved nothing more than blocking the account. Nil Einne (talk) 13:31, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Someone removed the hat, so I've deleted it completely. Iapetus (talk) 10:21, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Strong apologies for allowing that crap to show again. Fairly sure that was my mistake. I only saw the hat when editing the previous section and thought the section had been deleted but someone had left the hat. However I realise now since the hat was part of the previous section and the comment was a new section, only the hat would shown when I was editing the previous section. (Also since I only saw a hat, it would have hidden the entire rest of the RD if that was all that was left.) Nil Einne (talk) 13:31, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Some of this sounds overwrought. If you can step over a coyote turd when you're out on a hike without calling in the cops, you can handle stuff like this without calling in admins. The first thought is "is there something to answer here?" and the next is "well then don't answer it". Wnt (talk) 14:55, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but when the coyote keeps coming into your house to take a shit on your living room carpet, and THEN when you politely remove the shit, the coyote insists on picking the same piece of shit back up, putting it back in your living room and saying "NO! MY SHIT WILL STAY IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!" and he comes back every few days to take a new shit in your living room, and exhibits the same "MY SHIT WILL STAY IN YOUR PARLOR!" behavior, and has for years, eventually, you're going to lock your front door, even if it keeps the good coyotes from stopping by for a nice cup of tea and a pleasant chat once in a while. --Jayron32 22:55, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Does a bear shit in the woods? So does a coyote. Natural order, no harm, no foul. At the craps table, though, that's another story. I hope they don't destroy the poor thing, but we all know how hairy things get in Buffalo. InedibleHulk (talk) 20:48, July 16, 2015 (UTC)
Back as Bravo2150 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). General Ization Talk 15:24, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Blobs and editing[edit]

Question moved here as being off topic on the Project page.

  • Some editors, not all by a long way, seem to tend to begin some of their contributions with a blob. I wonder why they do this? Is it to draw particular attention to their own thoughts at the expense of others', or is there some other reason?

I'm not counting lists here, it tends to happen at indent level 1, or maybe when there wouldn't normally be an indent - in this case, it produces a sort of indent. Also, sometimes a contribution that you might expect at level 2 or lower becomes a level 1 by putting the blob. Perhaps all entries at level 1 should begin with a blob - but I don't understand why.

I use no indent when I think I am starting another thought that follows directly from the question - as opposed to any intermediate contribution. Should this be a blob?
On the current page, the first two questions seem quite happy without blobs. The third has a couple of them, and the fourth and fifth have none. Then for some other questions they are present in more profusion. Is this because there are more contributions by certified blob-users?
  • As a fairly new contributor to this page, I'd like to know the unwritten rules, or the written ones if there are any. Myrvin (talk) 18:18, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Bullets (what you call "blobs") seem to be a personal preference thing. One advantage is that it can make it easier to tell one person's contributions from another's (unless each person uses multiple bullets for each point). One disadvantage is how multiple bullets on one line display seems to depend on if there is a blank before that line:
    • Line 1, with a blank line before and no blank after.
    • Line 2, with no blank before, and one after.
    • Line 3, with a blank line before and after.
Personally I think it doesn't matter, as long as you indent from the person who you are responding to. So, no indents when asking a Q, one indent when responding to it, 2 indents when responding to that responder, etc. StuRat (talk) 18:28, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

By a blob, do you mean a bullet at the beginning of the post, created by starting the post with an asterisk? I never heard a bullet referred to as a blob until now. A blob is a binary large object, an unstructured mass of data (or a mass of data whose structure is only known outside the DBMS). I certainly don't want to see a post starting with a massive piece of data whose structure is defined outside the schema. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:36, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

  • You have a dictionary I do not possess. Chambers says "1.A drop or globule; 2.Anything soft and round; 3.A round spot; 4.A score of zero, a duck (cricket sl)" Myrvin (talk) 19:04, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I do know people call them bullet points. Chambers says of these: "4.(also bullet point) a solid dot used to highlight items in a list (printing)". I spent an awful long time producing lectures using PowerPoint. I've used a considerable number of them. However, I excluded lists from my question. This seems to be an odd use of the little beggar. Myrvin (talk) 19:10, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Is this question unique to the Reference Desk, or does it concern talk pages in general? If it concerns talk pages in general, should it be at the Village pump (policy) or the Help Desk? Robert McClenon (talk) 18:38, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

  • I've not noticed it so much elsewhere. Myrvin (talk)
Per WP:INDENT, you should never use zero-level indentation when replying to a question on the ref desks. I personally find that very rude - it makes it so everything else posted below looks like it is a reply to that comment, and there's no way to resume proper indent style. (As I type, I realize Robert did just this! See how it is confusing? I'm not replying to him, I'm replying to the OP. So I have to either add an indent to Robert's post, or post above his, or suffer the broken threading. Sorry Robert, nothing personal, just a timely example :)
Bullets are mostly used by personal preference and when someone feels it is needed for clarity. Sometimes it is a call for attention; sometimes I'll use a bullet if I'm providing actual references after a long thread of guesses, jokes, etc. Sometimes it's useful for list-like things that aren't lists, such as the examples here [4]. Also, often once one responder uses a bullet, others will follow suit, that's why they pile up in some threads but not others. I essentially agree with Stu - it doesn't matter much one way or the other. Use them if you like, don't if you don't. SemanticMantis (talk) 18:52, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, you're right. I was wrong to say I use no indent when answering a question, I always (try to) use one indent. The blob user seems not to use an indent, allowing the point to do it it for him/her. Myrvin (talk) 19:14, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
The use of the asterisk form, when others haven't used it, looks like the contributor is saying, "Never mind what all those other people said - look at this!". Myrvin (talk) 19:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, and I understand that can seem frustrating at times. However, in other situations, that is precisely what is called for, in my opinion. See e.g. the example I link below where I just used one for that purpose, because I was the only person usefully addressing the question with a reference. SemanticMantis (talk) 21:12, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
(The layout is confusing, so I need to state explicitly that I am replying to the original post by the original poster.) The present layout makes it difficult to identify the original poster, and it makes it appear that the original post ends with the words "but I don't understand why" and a full stop. I checked the history and found that the original poster is Myrvin and the original post was made at 18:18, 21 July 2015 (UTC). Instructions on using indentation on talk pages can be found at WP:INDENT and WP:THREAD. However, I have noticed that Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost has different instructions for its talk pages. For example, Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2015-07-15/WikiProject report says, in part, "Please start your comment with a star sign (*), ...". I propose that the latter be revised to be in harmony with WP:INDENT and WP:THREAD.
Wavelength (talk) 19:08, 21 July 2015 (UTC) and 20:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC) (only adding full stop)
Why doesn't an indent of one do that? Several questions, with lots of contributions, seem to be clear enough without blobs. I think I am agreeing with you. Myrvin (talk) 19:17, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
It is because the text ending with "but I don't understand why" and a full stop can be mistaken for the first post by the first poster—sometimes posts are unsigned—and the subsequent text ending with "if there are any" and a full stop can be mistaken for one or more replies to it. (Also, my first post might appear to be a reply to an unindented post by Robert McClenon.)
Wavelength (talk) 20:29, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Sorry about the confused layout. I was crudely trying to make a point about points and indents. My original post ends with "if there are any." Myrvin (talk) 19:19, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
It can be a little annoying when it switches from one style to another. But when you said "blob", I was trying to recall any editor who ever started a sentence with a binary large object. Bullet-point or just bullet would be the more usual term. That's the term MS Word uses. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:28, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
See above on my definitions of blob and bullet point. Does your annoyance extend to the change in style on the project page, by the use of blobs? I did use Word for years and years too, and I think MS Word also suggests using it for lists, not for what it is used for here. The use here is not for a list. I did use a Binary Large Object once, but it disappeared into an adjacent black hole. It's odd that a very new acronym is what first comes to peoples' minds when the word blob is used. Why not the film The Blob? Myrvin (talk) 19:35, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I mentioned blobs being binary large objects because that is a throw-back to my career as a database designer. In Word, one can attach an arbitrary file, which is treated as a binary large object. I know that no one would really post a binary large object in Wikipedia. Robert McClenon (talk) 19:50, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Coo! That's a relief. Myrvin (talk) 19:53, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
People might also read Bullet (typography). Myrvin (talk) 19:53, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
  • But let us not get sidetracked on the word blob. I think we all know the object that appears when an asterisk is used during editing. Why are these used on the project page? Myrvin (talk) 19:56, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
They are used when a poster feels that it will be helpful for organization, clarity, or emphasis. Or maybe just because they like them. I don't understand what's so hard to understand. There is no official guideline that I know of that discusses their usage on the ref desks. Some people use them, some don't. I thought they were very helpful on the thread I linked above. Just now [5] I used one because the rest of the thread was not helpful (not answers, no refs, challenging the question, etc), and I wanted to draw OP's eyes to my referenced answer. I do agree that it can be slightly confusing when they look like indents. That's platform-dependent though. For example the bullet points don't take up an indent level on my phone's browser. SemanticMantis (talk) 21:09, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Is that a question about the Reference Desk, or about talk pages in general? If it is about talk pages in general, try the Village pump (policy) or the Help Desk. Bullets are common in responses to RFCs and in some other vehicles. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:02, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I think that was asked above. I said I hadn't seen it so much on Talk pages. Myrvin (talk) 20:05, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I had a quick check on the current other ref desks. The asterisk form is very rare. Some desks get by without using it at all. And strangely, when it is used, it's usually by the same people using it here. Myrvin (talk) 20:05, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Unless they are in lists, I don't see them much on the current Wikipedia:Requests for comment/All page, except on ALLOW / DISALLOW comments - this could be a special use. Myrvin (talk) 20:17, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
  • My practice is to indent without a bullet under the response immediately above mine (1) if I am directly responding to it, or (2) if I am responding to the "staircase" above, even if not only to the last step in the staircase. If I make a comment which pretty much stands on its own, I use a bullet which both serves to indent myself under the OP's question, and to make it clear that "a new post starts here".
I find a lot of posts in a row with no bullets and no difference in the level of indenting very had to follow, since what looks like a 20 line response may be something written by four different editors. I don't normally use a bullet if indenting, except in the not very common circumstance that we get a bulleted staircase. Overall my desire is ease of reading. μηδείς (talk) 21:52, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Consecutive posts of equal indentation can be distinguished from each other more easily (1) if they are separated from each other by blank lines, and (2) if signature-timestamps are adjusted to the left margin of the indented posts.
Wavelength (talk) 22:19, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I do sometimes put my signature on the left margin, often moving it there after someone has posted after me without enough space or an indent. The problem is that you can't control those who post after you or who, worse, blithely interpose their edit conflict before your earlier edit but without double indentation or "(ec)" so that it looks like your comment is a sloppy afterthought unless the reader checks the timestamps. μηδείς (talk) 02:41, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Thank you everyone. I think I understand what is going on here. Here is a list of my conclusions:

  • The blob is not part of some secret code. E.g. It's not for the use of more important editors, or people who think they are.
  • There are, in WP as a whole, very few users of the blob.
  • For some reason, there are several users on this ref desk, and it seems that those users use it elsewhere as well.
  • The blob is not really necessary. Editors get by quite well without it.
  • I don't like it. But then I'm not an important editor.
  • It looks to me like a version of WP:SHOUT, and should be discouraged. Again, why would anyone listen to me? However, looking at WP:SHOUT, it says, for Talk pages, that bulleted points are the sort of "format errors" that could/should be removed: "Examples include fixing indentation levels, removing bullets from discussions that are not consensus polls or requests for comment (RfC)". It also says, "Normally colons are used, not bullet points (although the latter are commonly used at AfD, CfD, etc.)."
  • Myrvin (talk) 06:42, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't like the use of bullet points on the RD either. If I'm replying to an earlier post that starts with one, I will usually delete it. --Viennese Waltz 08:03, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I think that might be the way forward. If blob-users don't like that, they can try to get WP:SHOUT changed. Myrvin (talk) 08:29, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Sometimes I like to make my points separate
  • Sometimes I want to visually distinguish my post from a sea of text at the same indent level
  • Sometimes I like to use typographic emphasis
  • Sometimes I like to use even more emphasis
  • Bullet points can be used as a form of emphasis
  • Emphasis is not WP:SHOUT
  • Telling others what not to do doesn't historically work out well here
  • Editing other users' posts is strongly discouraged on the ref desks
  • Users editing the bullet points out of others' posts may be taken as a sign of unwarranted aggression ;)
Cheers, SemanticMantis (talk) 14:40, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

This discussion is causing much to much bad feeling. I didn't mean to do that. I hereby withdraw and surrender. Myrvin (talk) 21:04, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Hey, no hard feelings here, I just didn't like it when you implied people should remove others' bullet points. Maybe I misread and you didn't mean that. SemanticMantis (talk) 21:24, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Others' comments (WP:TPOC) (version of 05:10, 22 July 2015) includes the following example of "appropriately editing others' comments" (underscore mine).
  • Fixing format errors that render material difficult to read. In this case, restrict the edits to formatting changes only and preserve the content as much as possible. Examples include fixing indentation levels, removing bullets from discussions that are not consensus polls or requests for comment (RfC), fixing list markup, using <nowiki> and other technical markup to fix code samples, and providing wikilinks if it helps in better navigation. Another helpful template is the Talk page Reflist, {{reflist-talk}}. The template should be placed after the discussion that includes the references, as it will include all references before the template.
Wavelength (talk) 23:28, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

"Did you know..." style content on this talk page[edit]

Hi, I'm wondering what people would think about users occasionally sharing interesting references on this page. I've done this a few times in the past, along the lines of "Here's a resource you might find useful in responding to questions". But we have so many varied and interesting responders here, I think we'd could have more interesting DYK-style posts here than on the main page (plus those are limited to new WP content). I believe this would help improve the ref desks, albeit in a roundabout way. Often we have very little content here for weeks, then an argument or dispute flares up. I think sharing fun facts (with references!) would help morale and civility in our community. The only downside I can see is if too many people want to post that kind of thing, then it could distract from more important issues. But I don't think that's too likely, and we can curtail the behavior if it becomes disruptive.

An example:

So, what do you think? SemanticMantis (talk) 19:12, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

I have done this in the past as a follow up to a previous question that has aged off the board, and I provide a link. I don't just do it out of the blue, though. In any case, I don't object to anything that's not trolling or disruptive. One could always smuggle in a new thread saying, "I have found this interesting source, The Xyz of the Abcde, does anyone know of any similar works?
μηδείς (talk) 21:57, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I like fun facts. Did you know they're not always fun? Still informative, though. Did you know "One to Grow On" became "The More You Know", or that your body belongs to you and you know that? InedibleHulk (talk) 23:48, July 21, 2015 (UTC)
Did you know that when your body doesn't belong to you, "The only thing about sex is deciding who's going to be the agent of motion"? Thanks again, E! InedibleHulk (talk) 00:04, July 22, 2015 (UTC)
Actually, it doesn't. Tevildo (talk) 23:29, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Are you suggesting NBC (or its generally creepy electric uncle) would intentionally lie to screw innocent people? If not, I sure am. InedibleHulk (talk) 22:20, July 23, 2015 (UTC)
In case anyone's wondering, no, I will not abuse this proposed feature in confusing ways. Not everything is so iridescent, circular and polarizing as the Family Ties era. I support using it Mantis-style. Straightforward, with our eyes directly on the prize. If Chicago's Humanities Division can win, can't we? Probably! InedibleHulk (talk) 22:42, July 23, 2015 (UTC)

Easy Questions that I an NOT going to ask on the reference desks[edit]

Note to the humor-impaired. Just skip to the next section. There is nothing for you here.

Easy Questions that I an NOT going to ask on the reference desks:

[01] How long did the Hundred Years War last?

[02] What was New Mexico named after?

[03] Which country makes most Panama Hats?

[04] In the story "1001 Arabian nights" what nationality was Aladdin?

[05] What nationality were the original Pennsylvania Dutch?

[06] From which animal do we get Catgut?

[07] Which U.S. State is the farthest north? South? East? West?

[08] In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

[09] What material was used to clad the sides of the US warship "Old Ironsides"?.

[10] What is a Camel hair brush made of?

[11] The Canary Islands are named after what animal?

[12] What was King George VI's first name?

[13] What color is a Purple Finch?

[14] Where do the Cuban Lily and Confederate Rose come from?

[15] Upon what hill was the Battle of Bunker Hill fought?

[16] Who is buried in Grant's tomb?

[17] What bird has the scientific name Puffinus puffinus puffinus?

[18] What is another word for Thesaurus? Hint: One word, four syllables, eight letters, one letter is used three times, another letter is used twice, and I found it in Roget's Thesaurus.

[19] What color are White Rhinos?

[20] How long did the Thirty Years War last?

[21] A man travels due south for one kilometer. He turns left 90 degrees and travels due east for one kilometer, at which point he shoots a bear. He then turns left 90 degrees and travels due north for one kilometer, returning to the exact spot he left from.

[21a] What color is the bear?

[21b] What direction is the wind blowing from at the starting/ending point?

--Guy Macon (talk) 03:01, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

Indeed. However, please note that catgut is not made from cats' intestines (or any other part of a cat). General Ization Talk 03:11, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Correct! "Catgut is a type of cord[1] that is prepared from the natural fibre found in the walls of animal intestines.[2] Usually sheep or goat intestines are used, but it is occasionally made from the intestines of cattle,[3] hogs, horses, mules, or donkeys.[citation needed] Despite its name, no cat intestines are used in catgut." --Catgut. I would like to see that citation needed replaced with a reference, though. I suspect that some of the other questions won't be quite so easy to answer by looking it up on Wikipedia... --Guy Macon (talk) 03:19, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes. But George wasn't the first name of George VI. Robert McClenon (talk) 04:39, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Precisely. The point is that the obvious answers are wrong for most of these (all, depending on what the meaning of obvious is :) - Nunh-huh 04:51, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Not exactly all. The obvious answer to #20 is the correct answer. I am predicting that #18 will stump everybody unless they find a place on the web where I previously revealed the answer. I really did find the answer in Roget's Thesaurus, but I doubt that anyone else can find it there. --Guy Macon (talk) 06:15, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
"Synonymy". I found (your?) entry by googling "synonym of thesaurus". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:32, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Correct. From the preface to Roget's International Thesaurus, 1922 edition: "Apart from the scientific and logical arrangement the distinguishing feature of Roget is the inclusion of phrases. No other synonymy gives anything but individual words." --Guy Macon (talk) 06:50, 24 July 2015 (UTC) But please don't answer all the hard ones by Googling and finding places where I give the answers without giving the other editors a chance. Finding them on Wikipedia, on the other hand, could result in Wikipedia doubling what they pay you. :) --Guy Macon (talk) 06:50, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I knew quite a few of the correct answers to the list of questions, but I'll leave it to others to work out. The list looks like it would be a good basis for an article. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:17, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Baseball Bugs, Wikipedia has the article "List of common misconceptions".
Wavelength (talk) 17:23, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
In the midnight ride of April the 18th of '75, who warned the citizens of Concord that the British were coming? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:26, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia has a compete analysis of this question at Paul Revere#"Midnight Ride". --Guy Macon (talk) 06:50, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I ran across an item which asserted that the White House is not literally white, but more of an off-white. That might or might not be a true fact, though. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:17, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
What were the names of the two ironclad warships that clashed off the Virginia coast during the American Civil War? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:22, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
What did Commander Jim Lovell report to Mission Control when an oxygen tank exploded during a moon mission? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:26, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Which movie character said, "Play it again, Sam"? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:26, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Pretty sure it was the same character that said "Luke, I am your father." We have an article on misquotation with a few examples, but maybe we could start a List of common misquotations for fun (and improving WP:)? SemanticMantis (talk) 17:16, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
What animal was Buffalo Bill famous for hunting? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:29, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Ernie Kovacs had a radio show which included a feature called "The Question Man":
Audience member: If the world is round, why don't people fall off?
Kovacs (chuckling): What you have stated is a common misconception. People are falling off all the time!
Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:23, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The Cuban (mariposa) lily comes from Africa, and the Canary islands are named for their dogs. Not all the above questions are as obvious as they appear, though most bring a chuckle. μηδείς (talk) 16:57, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
  • You could add in "How many legs do centipedes and millipedes have ?". As for the polar bear Q, there's also a location near the S pole where that could be the case, but of course, there are no bears there. But, for that matter, are polar bears found that close the the N pole ? They tend to keep close to water, as that's where their prey (seals) live, so I don't imagine them walking hundreds of miles in from the water, but if the pack ice melts clear to the N pole, due to global warming, then maybe they would, although there's also the issue of how far they can manage to swim to get there. StuRat (talk) 17:36, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? LarryMac | Talk 18:18, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Was what over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? The neutrality of the United States, or World War Two? Robert McClenon (talk) 18:33, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Maybe you've never seen this. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:58, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
There was a program called Quiz in a Commodore 64 bundle I had as a kid, asked a lot of these questions. Of course, it's a hard thing to Google, but if you happen to run across it, you're all well prepared to pass, now. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:26, July 25, 2015 (UTC)


Every time that yo-yo posts his BLP-violating attack on various users here, someone sets a very short-term protection which the vandal can merely wait out. How about some longer-term protection, with some teeth in it - say, a week or two? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:41, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

It's pretty evident to me that the pathetic IP attack is designed to do get someone to place a longer-term protection on the talk page. Considering a large portion of comments come from IPs, long-term protection should be a very last resort. Right now we just need to revert on sight, and for those of us with admin flags (at the moment), we should block, ignore and move on. The Rambling Man (talk) 16:46, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. SemanticMantis (talk) 17:12, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
It requires that the admins remain vigilant. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:17, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I see that the anti-LGBT troll has been blocked this time. That has not been done in the past. We can either revert and block, or revert and semi-protect, or revert, block, and semi-protect. Blocking has less collateral damage, because semi-protection affects large numbers of unregistered editors, and blocking only affects other editors using the same shared address. In the past, we have not blocked the IP address. We should block the IP address each time in the future. I have another question. Is it sufficient to revert and block, or should the revert be accompanied by redaction? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:46, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Correction, the vandal has been blocked, in fact numerous times in the past few days. The editor switches IP addresses as quickly as possible to maximise disruption. The Rambling Man (talk) 18:28, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for blocking the troll. One can argue whether the hostile posts are vandalism, but they are clearly trolling, and both are blockable. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:32, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Can we tell from the IP addresses where the troll is located, or is the troll using open proxies? (If the IP addresses are in one location, the troll may be going to multiple coffee shops and to libraries in adjoining counties.) Robert McClenon (talk) 18:32, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Open proxies. Just geolocate some of the IP addresses, this is no coffee-shopper. The Rambling Man (talk) 18:35, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Are the open proxies being blocked for long periods of time? IP addresses used by common vandals are normally blocked for no more than a week. Open proxies, according to policy, may be blocked for any length of time including indefinitely. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:46, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm blocking them for a longish time, but it makes little difference when they can simply get a new one within seconds that isn't anywhere near the range of the previous one. The Rambling Man (talk) 18:52, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
This is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. I'm not condoning the posting of that content, but if your goal is to eliminate -- absolutely eliminate -- the posting of it again, you have lost. —Steve Summit (talk) 21:06, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Noted, although making this page permanently editable by only auto-confirmed accounts would help. That would require some consensus. The Rambling Man (talk) 21:12, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Every time I've seen this particular drivel, someone has removed it within minutes. Small price to pay IMO, and at least this is one case that everybody seems to agree is misconduct. Actually I wonder what would happen if we let it stand. Maybe if we could collectively ignore it, the poster would lose interest. Heck, maybe some users are willing to WP:AGF, and might not even mind disclosing or discussing their sexual orientation. The problem there is that it's still off-topic and inappropriate to our project. If OP is reading along, I wonder if they know that this kind of interest is often seen as a sign of Closeted behavior or Homophobia#Internalized_homophobia... even a bad-faith vandal/troll might be enlightened by some references :) SemanticMantis (talk) 21:22, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
At this point, constantly reverting the IP-hopping troll is becoming a burden. I suggest semi-protection. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:03, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I will comment, taking exception to User:Baseball Bugs, that I don't see the BLP violations. The editors about whom unacceptable comments have been made are pseudonymous. The comments only become BLP violations if the editors have disclosed their true names or are doxxed. I agree that the troll must be stopped, but not because of BLP violations, which only involve named real people, as opposed to pseudonymous real people. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:33, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
At least a couple of the targeted users appear to be using real names or portions thereof. Maybe a broader term would be "personal attacks", i.e. making unwarranted assertions about selected editors' personal lives. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:40, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the comments are personal attacks. I agree that the editor is a troll. Should the comments be redacted after they are reverted? Robert McClenon (talk) 15:42, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I would think that would be appropriate, but let's see what consensus here says. Maybe the targets should be asked for their opinions. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:46, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
My own thought is that they probably should be redacted. Whoever blocks the IP address of the troll also has the ability to redact the post. If an editor who is not an admin sees it, would they please revert it (and, in particular, don't reply to it, even to say it's a terrible idea). (Feeding the troll is a bad idea also.) Robert McClenon (talk) 20:45, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Do we have a bot that identifies open proxies, maybe by pulling a list from an Internet open proxy list? (In the past, there was such a list, and a service that compiled the list, because spam was commonly sent through open proxies. The service probably still exists even though most rogue spam is now sent by zombies.) If not, should we request that someone write such a bot? Robert McClenon (talk) 20:45, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Just a quick one, the more this is discussed, the more the repressed troll gets a kick out of it. Better, as with most of these situations, is to ignore it entirely and stop creating thread after thread after thread discussing trolls, IPs etc, when the whole of Wikipedia is blighted by them. Note that the rest of Wikipedia doesn't immediately resort to a talk page to discuss, endlessly, individual IP vandals. Use the centralised threads, AIV, SOCK etc, and move on, because if you don't, you are all encouraging this. The Rambling Man (talk) 20:53, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, I agree with you about the appropriate course of action with regard to ignoring this kind of nonsense, but frankly I know of few projectspace pages which receive as much disruptive behaviour as the desks, so it's not all hand-wringing and histrionics that drive the threads about it here. Some discussion is necessary to validate that we are not mistaking some well-intentioned OP who simply doesn't know the rules for one of the persistent vandals and trolls--and some further discussion is necessitated when we have to inform those who have been absent about the current trolling activity, so reverts are not taken to be arbitrary and overzealous actions. That being said, yeah, discussion should be kept to a bare minimum until someone raises an objection to a revert. Snow let's rap 12:27, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
It's very difficult to determine causality here. Yes, these desks do endure a disproportionate amount of disruptive behavior, but I fear that this is in part because of the histrionics that inevitably ensue. We do not, as a whole, do a good job of the I in RBI here. —Steve Summit (talk) 15:01, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
I can think of a handful of regular articles that have had to be semi-protected permanently because of persistent vandalism that went on for years with no end in sight. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:50, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
That's just clearly not an option here; it would be the most monumental case of putting the cart before the horse that I've ever seen on the project. On any given day, a third to two-thirds of our questions come from good-faith IP's, some of whom would not register just to ask their question, with the answers to some of those questions being useful to their good-faith editing in articlespace. Meanwhile, an dedicated troll is just going to start creating throw-away socks to continue their disruption, and blocking those socks will create additional workload for admins, only for another to pop up as soon as the block is in place. In other words, that's a "solution" that doesn't in any way prevent the disruptive behaviour but does A) severely hamper the basic mechanics and operation of the desks to the point that they may grind to a virtual halt, B) creates unnecessary work and drama for admins and the community at large, and might draw undesired oversight, and C) empowers the trolls in exactly the manner we ought to be denying to them, by necessitating even more discussion to chase down the socks than we currently spend on reverting the IPs and demonstrating to the troll that they can manipulate or users and procedures to that heightened degree. That approach is counter-intuitive in every possible way. Just ignore them and revert. We all know the relevant policies here and generally know eachother well enough to gauge when the reverts are warranted and when they are excessive. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. Snow let's rap 00:49, 1 August 2015 (UTC)
Certainly, long-term semi for the ref desks is not a practical option, but as we've seen recently, short-term semi can help. As to R-B-I, the R part is futile when a small list of editors insists on un-reverting obvious trolling; the B part is limited to admins, who may or may not be watching, and it won't faze IP-hoppers anyway; and the I part fails if the R part is compromised. TRM's approach of short-term semi is probably the optimal solution. Named accounts can be blocked, of course; and as I understand it, it's faster to issue a block than for a troll to create a new account, so that can work (eventually). ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:52, 1 August 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, I wish it weren't so, but short-term protection does seem like the only option at times. Snow let's rap 09:08, 1 August 2015 (UTC)

I must agree with TRM on this occasion; the best solution here (and perhaps the only one that doesn't involve us cutting off our nose to spite our face) is to ignore the troll and revert him with the minimal amount of commentary necessary to make sure we are not confusing somebody else for him. Snow let's rap 12:27, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

For those that aren't aware, Special:AbuseFilter/714 should hopefully stop these posts. Sam Walton (talk) 09:19, 1 August 2015 (UTC)


NAC: Already done by User:Favonian. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:05, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

  • Support to reduce the need for constant reverts. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:03, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Unprotected talk page?[edit]

Guidelines indicate that when a user talk page is semi-protected, the user should provide a separate, unprotected "talk page". Would it make sense to do something like that here? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:53, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

Given that a BLP attack is a BLP attack whether it's on a protected or unprotected page, it makes no sense at all to consider adding an unprotected talk page. The Rambling Man (talk) 16:55, 24 July 2015 (UTC)


This user, has been repeatedly blocked at for disruption and lack of contributions to the project. Now they appear to be involved in an edit war to preserve a request for prediction/speculation/dbate about whther use of chemical weapons against ISI will defeat them. I have warned the user. μηδείς (talk) 21:29, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

The ISI is less to the Middle, more to the East. America sort of hates them, too, but the average American troll doesn't know they exist. But yeah, typos happen. Just saying. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:21, July 25, 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. As my hero, Victor Meldrew, says, "That's about as helpful as a glass buttock." :) μηδείς (talk) 02:52, 25 July 2015 (UTC)[edit]

Maybe one of youse guys could do something about (talk · contribs), who is engaged in edit-warring on the ref desk. I reported him to AIV almost 3 hours ago, but they seem to be asleep at the switch. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:30, 24 July 2015 (UTC)


He gone bye-bye. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:41, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

BTW, I have been accused of restoring the Q. I did nothing of the sort. I saw the Q, and attempted to answer it. That's the limit of my actions here. Looking through the edit history, I believe the OP restored it. StuRat (talk) 21:47, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, the OP restored it. You should have followed the lead of other editors and re-deleted it or at least hatted it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:51, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
The problem here is not the regulars.
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
The Youngbloods
μηδείς (talk) 02:57, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
For the complete set of glass buttocks, I'll correct you again. That's a Nirvana song these days. InedibleHulk (talk) 03:02, July 25, 2015 (UTC)
And the video format is, too. InedibleHulk (talk) 03:08, July 25, 2015 (UTC)
Having lived through the Summer of Love, I have no problem whatsoever should you wish to windex me, Inedible. I lost my virginity long before bleach. μηδείς (talk) 03:28, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
As tempting as that sounds, things ain't what they used to be. InedibleHulk (talk) 04:23, July 25, 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, that was actually pretty cool, like a John Waters clip. μηδείς (talk) 21:59, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Now, how many of us were expecting this instead? Tevildo (talk) 22:11, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I was expecting not to like that, so didn't click it till now. Glad I did! Catchy stuff, harkens back to Ren & Stimpy and Untalkative Bunny. Or the other way around, I guess. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:27, July 30, 2015 (UTC)

A request for guidance. (Caution: contains obvious sarcasm)[edit]

Hi all,
We now have someone asking Why are so many of the big international corporations controlled by Jews?
Should I:

  1. point the OP to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
  2. question why WP:RD folks are so easily trolled as to actually responding to obvious trolls?
  3. block the OP as an obvious troll?

I'll do option #3 on my own initiative very soon. I'll leave option #2 up for debate.
--Shirt58 (talk) 10:34, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Block the troll and zap the question and any responses. While you're at it, revert the IP-hopper in the previous section, and semi-protect this page for a while. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:39, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Askedonty (who is obviously Made Of Awesome) did reply and elegantly refuted the troll's troll.
I've blocked Bravo2150 (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) as Obvious Troll is Obviously You Know What.
@Bugs, can you let me know which specific IP hoppers they wuz? I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a hand-saw and I can block the specific IP. But I wouldn't have a clue how to do a WP:RANGEBLOCK without blocking the IPs for a whole state or country or whatever.
--Shirt58 (talk) 12:18, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
The one reverted by Deo here.[7] Rangeblock would be futile, as the guy is using open proxies and is literally all over the map. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:35, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks a lot, Shirt58, only made of the usual stuff, - just reenacting my preferred episodes in Doom the game. In the end I end unarmed outside for some fresh air and the computer in my room off for cooling too. --Askedonty (talk) 14:36, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Date bot out of order?[edit]

I noticed that the last date stamp to appear on the Ref Desk's pages was July 25, even though a number of new questions had been asked on July 26 and 27. I manually inserted date stamps for those dates on the three pages I (occasionally) monitor: Language, Humanities, and Miscellaneous. I didn't do this for the other pages. Isn't this normally done by a bot? Is it broken and in need of repair? Marco polo (talk) 18:39, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Pretty sure that's (often) handled by User:Scsbot. Perhaps the bot wrangler (User:scs) has been otherwise busy; it is run by a person, not automatically run by chron scheduling. If you look at Steve's talk page you see people bug him occasionally about this. So let me just take this opportunity to say: Thanks Steve for making this bot and running it so often! SemanticMantis (talk) 21:05, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, MP and SM. I was traveling on Saturday (and sharp-eyed readers might even know where :-) ), and I plum forgot last night, but the bot is catching up now. —Steve Summit (talk) 01:53, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

Posts by indeffed User:Neptunekh, User:Venustar84[edit]

I have removed a post that was previously closed re transgender medical advice. See the recent histories of the indeffed User:Neptunekh and User:Venustar84 who have been found to be block evading sock puppets. The poster here geolocates the Vancouver, BC< the user's home ground, and follows all the same habits, regarding medical advice, mental health, and trans issues. The user has dozens of socks as well as IP addresses, and has been repeatedly been blocked and had her edits deleted for such things as threats of self harm. These edits should be removed on sight. μηδείς (talk) 01:26, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Has a sock-puppet investigation been requested into the use of the block-evading IPs? Robert McClenon (talk) 17:02, 30 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Robert McClenon, one was. You can see the results in the block archive for Neptunekh. Unfortunately, once Jayron32 took the helpful step of blocking the most recent active socks, as they were being disruptive during the SPI, the checkuser closed the case as moot, leaving any dormant socks remain fallow. μηδείς (talk) 17:09, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
If the socks have been reported, at least the socks have been reported. If they are IPs, then they will change anyway, and IPs are not long-term blocked unless they are open proxies. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:33, 31 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but this user has a very long history of multiple registered accounts. Next time, rather than be stupid and ask Jayron32 to actually do something helpful, we'll have to pay the troll toll, and wait for the SPI to finish before stanching any disruption. I am not expecting any action. This thread is here as a heads-up and so that if there are any other deletions needed soon I can simply say "see talk". μηδείς (talk) 18:07, 31 July 2015 (UTC)