Wikipedia talk:Reference desk

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To ask a question, use the relevant Reference Desk
The guidelines for the Reference desk are at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines.
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This page is for discussion of the Reference Desks only. Please don't post comments here that don't relate to the Reference Desks. Other material may be moved.

Semi-protected edit request on 21 October 2015[edit]

Semi-protected edit request on 25 October 2015[edit]

Admittance requested[edit]

Hello, could you make it so I can ask a question here please?

I have 21 edits and don't want to wait four days.

Thanks! Q48dado (talk) 13:18, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Requests for permissions/Confirmed, but as per that page it's fairly unlikely your request will be granted. I suggest you make an WP:edit request instead. Nil Einne (talk) 13:46, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
Can I request/suggest you strike the "as" from "as per"? It's a fine word, on its own. InedibleHulk (talk) 05:53, November 14, 2015 (UTC)
That may be so, but the expression is common in colloquial British English: for example, my 80-year old mother uses it frequently. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 15:17, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, I certainly don't want to challenge her. Request withdrawn. InedibleHulk (talk) 17:50, November 23, 2015 (UTC)
Mahfuzur Rahman Shourov should simply have patience. New users don't post complaints such as this, they accept that everyone has to deal with the same rules. μηδείς (talk) 17:59, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

weird edits[edit] (talk · contribs) was making some strange edits, mostly to the Entertainment desk, some damaging to the structure of the page. Some of the damage was fixed, but not all. I don't have time to check and fix any more of it, but someone else might want to. (But beware that some/all of the affected entries have now been archived.) --Steve Summit (talk) 03:56, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

(Lack of) Questions[edit]

I thought I'd nreak the silence by asking why literally not a single question was asked here for two days. Is there a bug? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:04, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

Given that there are responses (just above) from the 14th and it's still the 15th, I'd have to say that there's probably no bug and it also hasn't been two days. :) (talk) 14:21, 15 November 2015 (UTC)
I changed the title to make it clearer. You might ask on the Math Desk what the chances are no Q would be asked 2 days in a row given the number typically asked each day. Also, I believe the Desk was semi-protected recently, so that might have had an effect. StuRat (talk) 16:32, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

[this question was moved here from miscellaneous. μηδείς (talk) 17:55, 15 November 2015 (UTC)]

No Bugs here , only Wabbits. And the Wabbit may talk soon.-- (talk) 01:46, 17 November 2015 (UTC)
I do not understand what is going on here. So it seems that you have made it so new people cannot ask questions on the reference desk, and then people are asking why people are not asking questions on the reference desk, and then when someone asks a question on the reference desk you move it onto a page that is not the reference desk? Why do you even have a reference desk if all the discussion is happening on this talk page? Octavious Rind (talk) 20:43, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
We apologize about that. We've had a problem where unregisterred users were abusing the reference desk and being highly disruptive. For short periods of time, we need to shut it down until they go away. If you've run into one of those short periods of time and could not ask a question, we're sorry about that. They really shouldn't be protected for very long at a stretch, just long enough to convince the person creating the disruption to find something else to do. You can always try again later. --Jayron32 20:54, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
Or you could ask the question here and someone helpful could move it to the main ref desk page. Or you could register an account and add the question yourself. The Rambling Man (talk) 20:58, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
For the record, all of the desks are currently unprotected. I'd rather we kept it that way as long as possible, if the same person who's been causing the problem comes back, we should just block them, or keep the protections short (a few hours). There's enough of us admins around to take them down pretty quickly. --Jayron32 21:02, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

I just wanted to post a quick note of thanks for the users who have been re-posting questions to the desks from here due to the recent page protection action. So... "Thanks!" (talk) 02:07, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

The Archives are Still a Problem[edit]

We still have socks of indeffed users editting the archives. The issue was left without any resolution before, and the problems like the difficulty of patrolling the archives or any usefull way of searching them still stand See this edit by an indeffed sock (I have reverted it) Octavious Rind who posted just above on this page. μηδείς (talk) 03:07, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Well, the only workable solution to the problem is 1) you see it happening 2) you tell someone who can block them 3) we block them and clean up the mess. Since all of that pretty much has already happened in this case, I would say the problem is already solved. --Jayron32 03:45, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, but what happened here was; I fully expected the faux Potter character to be blocked. He was blocked but today. I checked to see what the "thank you" thread was about. I saw he was indeed blocked (just today!) and checked his history out of curiosity. I saw the archival revisionism.
Normally such historical revisionism would go unnoticed, since there is no way to watch the archives. One could easily imagine a huge amount of mischief being done with no one noticing. I think there should be some way for editors to watch at least the archives of those pages which they themselves editted when the page was still live. How that might be done I don't know. Can the issue be brought to some higher power? μηδείς (talk) 03:55, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
You can watch the archives just like any other page. Open the archive. Make the white star turn blue. You're welcome. --Jayron32 03:56, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
That's like saying I could check the oil level every time I start the car, six times daily. A low oil light would be more helpful. I assume you understand my point, and are not just teasing me. μηδείς (talk) 03:59, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I understand what you are asking for. I could be perhaps be more blunt in stating that there's no way to make it work how you want it to. If you want the archives watched, the only option you have is to watch them, the old fashioned way. Wishing other options existed to make your life easier does not mean those options actually could exist. --Jayron32 04:05, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
And I still think full protection is a very reasonable solution, since the need to edit the archives is very rare, and as someone said above, "There's enough of us admins around". μηδείς (talk) 04:01, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Fully protecting every archive individually is no less onerous than watching every archive individually, and more restrictive overall. Every Wikipedia core value on restricting access is based on principle of least restriction: do the thing which requires the least restriction to achieve the goal. If a person has to open every archive in existence and protect it, that's just as much work as opening every archive in existence and watching it. --Jayron32 04:05, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
It sound like something that could be done by a bot. Can somebody who knows about what bots can and can't do at least check if the archives can be protected by a bot? Sjö (talk) 06:25, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I can tell you that today scsbot, the current RD archiving bot, would have no way of protecting the archive pages as it creates them, because it (like its owner) does not have admin privileges. (I don't know whether there are any Wikipedia bots that have these privileges.) —Steve Summit (talk) 11:41, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Also, to answer a similar question that I think came up recently, I don't believe it's possible for the bot to populate a new archive page's watchlist (that is, based on a predefined list of interested regulars or anything). —Steve Summit (talk) 15:59, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

I oppose full protection of archives. Typical edits on archive pages are users updating their signature after a name change, which often is a privacy issue. Keeping archives editable allows them to do so without raising much attention. Also, templates get changed or substituted, and full protection makes all these things more difficult than necessary. This is a wiki, so openness of editing is a fundamental principle, and it applies to archive pages as well. Note also that if there is "a huge amount of mischief being done with no one noticing" then the impact of that mischief seems fairly low. The easiest way to check whether any archives have been recently edited, by the way, is to use the "recent changes" links provided on Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives. You click these links once per week and catch all vandalism of all archives. —Kusma (t·c) 12:04, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Well, at least in theory. In practice, Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Humanities/Links_to_all_archives and similar pages need to be updated. That should be a simple bot task. —Kusma (t·c) 12:06, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes. That is an easy task to do as it can be populated six months or a year at a time. Last time this came up I expressed my uncertainty about the server load of a Special:RecentChangesLinked run against a page with many thousands of linked pages. I will populate one of them and ask about the issue on Village pump (technical). -- ToE 13:34, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
There's a simple trick that the bot could use to create a semi-protected archive page. Have an admin create a "dummy" page that is semi-protected. Then have the bot create the new page from that page, and then fill it in with the newly-archived material. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:10, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I would likewise oppose full protection, even if you could get approval for an WP:admin bot (which do exist). I'm also not seeing evidence of historical revisionism here. While it was fine to revert the changed by Octavious Rind as a banned sock, the edits were fully signed with time stamps, so there's no historical revisonism. And they should not have been deleted if Octavious Rind was not a banned sock. Note Octavious Rind was the one who originally asked the question, and did so under the same account, they were only identified as a sock later. This isn't like with Bowei Huang who likes to delete comments they don't like. Nil Einne (talk) 15:20, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I think it would be wonderful if someone gets the motivation to write a bot to look for deletions in archives. I don't particularly care what people insert, even if it is abusive - the few readers who come have a serious purpose, and if they step in some stray Wikidrama that is nothing, while if they find someone who said a-ha! and came back a year later (as I occasionally do) that is everything. Still, you could have the bot flag those few edits for manual review also. You could also use the edit filter mechanism to get eyeballs on edits to the archives (I'd be surprised if there isn't one set up already). But no action is actually necessary - even if there were widespread defacement of the archives, we could simply put on the main refdesk page a notice for people to check the history and look for one of the first few revisions of the pages. Definitely I oppose any kind of page-protection. Wnt (talk) 15:42, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Vague question about Black Brutality on WP/RD:M[edit]

A currently unanswered query has had its heading changed from Black Brutality in Gloucestershire, UK to just the first two words, in a subsequent edit from the same IP address as the original query. Since the deletion also added a spurious character which removed the formatting, I happened to notice, looked at the relevant edits, and restored the abridged title (with formatting) and a NOTE showing the change. A query about interracial police brutality is going evoke different responses if geographically limited rather than not. I'm raising the matter here because that same IP addressee removed my note with an edit description of "not me, vandalism" - to which I restored my note and put a time stamp to my revision, explained in my edit summaries. Because the revised wording is potentially offensive and gives no indication that the context is police actions, I feel it needs some watching. Your help is appreciated. -- Cheers, Deborahjay (talk) 12:01, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

The location was added by a different user[1], presumably using a highly dubious geolocation basis. The original[2] does not specify a location. -- zzuuzz (talk) 12:09, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Evidently I didn't read far enough back to the actual original posting. So the "specify location" edit is attributed to User:Medeis? I'll give this a rest now. Thanks, User:zzuuzz, for clarifying. -- Deborahjay (talk) 12:54, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Adding the geolocation was kind of a chancy thing to do, but the question does look like race-baiting trolling. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:01, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
It's the same guy that posted this bit of Jew-baiting. There's been a rash of this stuff here, and the admins have blocked most of them, but they missed this one. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:04, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
If the unsigned IP wasn't trolling with his unsupported and unqualified racial claim, he could clarify himself. Otherwise the comment should just be removed as obvious troll is obvious. μηδείς (talk) 17:24, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I removed it, and he put it back. It's a troll, and not blocked yet. I'm guessing the admins are doing other things at present. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:29, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Ah, so Medeis and BB do run the Ref Desk. How convenient. Also, claiming that I'm behind some sort of anti-jewish claptrap is like suggesting I'm Osama Bin Laden. Complete and utter nonsense, with no basis in fact whatsoever. And no, nor were the moon landings faked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:40, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Ah, so the above IP is blocked for a month - and not by either Medeis nor me, as we have no power to issue blocks. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:48, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Baseball Bugs, this edit looks like an attempt to revert a series of edits, but an IP can only do one. This is of course stupid and ridiculous, but it's from a few weeks ago. Drmies (talk) 18:59, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

FYI this is at ANI. I don't always agree with accusations of "trolling" thrown around here to justify removals/hats, but the comment immediately above, if I'm reading it correctly as purporting to be the OP, does make the whole thing look like a trolling exercise. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 18:49, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

This edit is a dead giveaway that it's trolling. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:22, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
  • OK. That antisemitic question was from a now-blocked one-off account. The writing strikes me as coming from a different person than this IP editor. I do not agree, Medeis, with your addition of the location--come on now. If you think you're being baited, don't bait back. As for the IP's questions, I think they're malformed and rather silly, and I would block immediately if I saw it anywhere else in the project, but this page isn't the normal Wikipedia that I'm used to. So yeah, the real admins are elsewhere and you have to settle for me. The me who's about to go home, by the way. Drmies (talk) 19:05, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Darn those experienced users! Always pulling stunts like asking you for actual evince instead of a vague "See ANI". How dare they! --Guy Macon (talk) 01:50, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately for those evil smugglers dressed as ghost pirates, we meddlesome kids.... It's one thing to ask politely for a diff. It's another to be so blind as not to look at a history or a talk page when there are a dozen reverts, and insist on abetting a troll because ...must...answer...every...question. That's why we can't have nice things. Someone can hat this until tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel. μηδείς (talk) 02:11, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
I think you mean weevil jugglers dressed as pirate ghosts. InedibleHulk (talk) 21:39, November 23, 2015 (UTC)
I often disagree with the way μηδείς handles these trolling or alleged trolling situations but I don't find much fault in the reversion. The only thing I would have done different, is I would have referred to this talk page, or not referred to anything rather than refer to ANI, but that's a minor thing. (Also it is relatively easy to find the thread at ANI by searching on the page for "reference desk" and I would have expected someone like StuRat could do that.)

WP:DENY explicitly encourages us not to make a big fuss about these things, hence why I left zero comment here despite reverting the comment about four times early on and would prefer we didn't need to have yet another one of these dumb conversations.

To be fair, I think DENY is sometimes overapplied, in particular I'm not sure if there's any point in applying it liberally to editors like Bowei Huang, who whatever they are doing are possibly not seeking or getting anything from people recognising or memorialising them and I'm not sure if they're exactly seeking attention either. (For that matter WickWack, who may or may not be back but likewise although they apparently wanted to always be right, they did so by maintaining at least 4 identities & didn't seem to actually want to recognition of their name or identity or otherwise want attention.)

Over liberal application of DENY can make things confusing when dealing with someone irregular or where it's a bit difficult to see the problem. It also mostly rules out engaging with the problematic editor and although I perhaps have a tendency to over-engage sometimes, there are times when it seems to make the editor realise the game is up. (And I also recognise it's generally unclear what some problematic editor is trying to do, hence why I too often at a minimum, try to avoid naming editors when I can.)

However from what I've read at ANI and elsewhere, it's likely this is a case where deny is a good idea as the editor probably is seeking attention. More to the point, this discussion is and was the most recent in this talk page. And even the header tells you it's about the same thing. Furthermore, by the time Medeis had reverted, the editor had been reverted after using 4 different IPs with extremely different geolocation data by me before the page was protected. (No edits then happened until the protection expired and the IP came back and reverted which Medeis reverted which StuRat then reverted.) In other words, even with the application of DENY, there was no reason for someone with the experience of StuRat on how to use wikipedia and the RD, should be confused about the IP being up to no good.

And even if StuRat is really incapable of noticing any of this, as has been said they could have always asked someone what was going on. I presume this is why an admin who doesn't frequent the RD except to deal with this stuff reverted StuRat [3] with the comment "rv proxying for block-evading troll".

BTW I actually do agree that adding the IP geolocation was unhelpful, but the Clinton question did strongly suggest the IP was simply trolling even if there was any doubt over the black brutality bit. (As has been mentioned, the Jewish question thing seems to be a case of confusion as the IP was trying to remove the question.) In any case once Drmies blocked, it became a moot point. If the IP wanted to ask for an unblock, they could have and did (and were denied by someone else). In fact, I'm still uncertain whether the IP is even the same as the person who keeps adding the comment back but it was clear that the (South Korean) IP who added it back was unwanted from the first time they added it back, which they proceeded to prove by adding it back using 3 very different IPs.

Nil Einne (talk) 13:14, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

RD Misc Desk query November 23 – Metal loops sticking out of walls – please add reply below[edit]

It's difficult to be sure from the photo, but these are probably for attaching PPE lanyards/ropes and Safety harnesses to allow personnel to work on the outside of the building. Such attachments (in the UK, and presumably elsewhere) have to be regularly inspected to ensure they will still bear the required force without pulling out of the walls, and may not be used if the last inspection tag has passed its expiry date. In our office we have some on the inside load-bearing wall pillars, to allow personnel to attach and then climb out of the windows for whatever reason necessary. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 15:05, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Green tickY Copied it to RD/M. Sjö (talk) 15:13, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 November 2015[edit]

Just wanted to note that you refer to a Balkan country as Republic of Macedonia when in fact it is currently FYROM which is also disputed by the Greek people and Government. I would like to find out how you have chosen to call this Balkan country Republic of Macedonia and not FYROM when this contradicts history which is the reason your website exists. (talk) 16:44, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

That's not really a question for the reference desk, but it's easy to answer here: it was decided during a thorough discussion in 2009, now archived at WP:NCMAC, where you will find a lot of material on the background of this decision and the rationale for it. Fut.Perf. 16:51, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
@Future Perfect at Sunrise: you should be aware of the irate shitstorm that arose when I answered now indeffed User:Octavious Rind's question on how to find the width of a book (answer:Amazon) here instead of moving the question to the appropriate desk and answering it there. μηδείς (talk) 17:32, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
There's a big difference namely that this question isn't a question for the reference desk as FPAS themselves noted, so technically the edit request could simply be denied as there's no real requirement to fix a malformed edit request, but that's less helpful than simply answering it. (Although if the page was unprotected, it's not the sort of question that's that likely to be deleted unless someone moved it to the help desk. So moving it there and answering would also have been largely harmless. ) Since it doesn't really belong on the RD, it's no real loss if it isn't moved there to anyone. It probably should be asked at the talk page Talk:Republic of Macedonia, although could also be asked on the WP:Help Desk either way there's no need to make an edit request here.

This is different from when instead of either ignoring or leaving a non-malformed edit request (i.e. on something which is appropriate for the RD), which should have been fulfilled based on the info available at the time, you answer it here. Noting that Octavious Rind was not indeffed when you decided to answer the RD question on RD talk. And that if they were indeffed, the edit request should have been denied, or simply deleted rather than answering the question.

Of course the other big (albeit related) difference is that the question, as with many reference desk questions, had many potential answers, which it did received on the reference desk but which would be very confusing if they were here (and it probably would have been missed by many too). By comparison, this question doesn't really need multiple answers, and in fact, if it did need multiple answers the people most likely able to provide the best answers would be on the talk page of the article or perhaps the help desk, not on the RD/M.

Nil Einne (talk) 13:49, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

RD Question "How has the rotschild family managed to dominate world banking"[edit]

For information, the above-titled query (which looks mighty like trolling) on the Humanities RefDesk has multiple text entries under it, but when edit is clicked (I was going to add a sardonic reference to Solipsism) an entirely unrelated text relating to Virginia Woolf appears in the edit box. I lack the time and expertise to unravel this. Edited to add: OK, now it all appears as a legitimate Virginia Woolf query – not sure what's going on here, but doubtless someone thinks they're amusing. {The poster formerly known as 87.81/230.195} (talk) 15:20, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Probably because it was removed by the time you clicked edit. --NeilN talk to me 15:25, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
To explain in a bit more detail, when you click on Edit it apparently grabs the section "that far down" (let's say the 28th section from the top). If that section no longer exists, it will then grab the next section (whatever section is 28th now). This method causes the problem you encountered, but also if a new section is inserted above it between when the page is refreshed and you click edit, you also get the wrong section. The alternative would be for the code to look for the section with that name, but then if the name was changed it won't find it. Perhaps a hybrid system would be better, where first it looks for a section with that name, and if it doesn't find it (or finds more than one section with the same name), then look for that section number. Not fool-proof, but should have a lower fail rate (it would still fail if section removed, but not if it was just moved elsewhere on the page). Does anybody know if this approach would be practical ? StuRat (talk) 21:02, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I suspect it's a well-known issue, and that there's an open bug on it. (But I don't know how to search MediaWiki bugs.) You could try asking on VP/T; I bet somebody there would know. —Steve Summit (talk) 22:06, 25 November 2015 (UTC)