Wikipedia talk:Reference desk/Archive 101

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Archive 95 Archive 99 Archive 100 Archive 101 Archive 102 Archive 103 Archive 105

archiving bot maintainer username change

Not a big deal, but for the record: my username is now User:scs, not User:Ummit, but I'm still me, and I'm still maintaining scsbot. —Steve Summit (talk) 01:29, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Refdesk Reform RFC

opened about a minute ago, see Wikipedia:Reference desk/Refdesk reform RFC. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:18, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

This was archived for a while, I've added it back as it should remain as long as the RFC is open. I'll stop the bot archiving it. Nil Einne (talk) 05:55, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Just in case anyone still would like to comment there: The 30 days (customary duration of RFCs) will be up today, and the discussion might be closed anytime soon. ---Sluzzelin talk 03:05, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I have closed the RFC. I am not a neutral party, but I believe I've summarized the discussion in a neutral way. It doesn't make sense to force an uninvolved admin to wade through all the discussion when the end result is so obvious to the participants. Looie496 (talk) 16:34, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, this was well-done and appropriate. Thanks. -- Scray (talk) 16:41, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

My Question

I have asked a question on both the misc and computing desks 3 hours ago and still have no answer. Please answer me. (talk) 08:18, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

I'd suggest waiting a few more hours. Most of our American editors are sound asleep right now. The sheer numbers of editors there make it the most likely place to get your answer from. (I note from your IP address that you're in the UK. Spare a thought for us Aussie masochists who like to watch The Ashes and the Tour de France. It's already 6.30 pm at night here. Time zones are a real pain at times.) HiLo48 (talk) 08:29, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
(e/c) Three hours ago!? (a) Responses can take up to a couple of days, depending on the question. (b) We ask people not to post the same question on different desks, so take your pick and delete the other one. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 08:31, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Why do you think this is Miss Bono? She's from Cuba, while this IP is, as mentioned above, British. Rojomoke (talk) 09:12, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
My mistake. I read Misc and Computing as "Misc and Entertainment", and the only question on both of those desks was Miss Bono's "Lady Gaga's Telephone's cover". My response was an edit conflict with HiLo48, and it was drafted before I'd read his response.
Miss Bono's name removed (but point b still applies to her). -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 09:23, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
I'll say this here rather than in the question because some people may complain it's not really an answer. If you want to learn to code, you'll probably need to also learn more patience than waiting 3 hours for responses to your questions. Even if you don't need to ask for help, I expect someone with such low patience will have problems adapting to an atmosphere where you may spend days debugging some minor mistake. And since you may need to ask for help in various forums with low tolerance anyway, I also suggest you learn netiquette like when it's appropriate to crosspost and when it isn't and not to be too demanding of volunteers and others (like bumping or pushing your questions too hard). Nil Einne (talk) 12:51, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Rojomoke why did you mention me? I don't get the point... I see I have a very bad reputation around the Ref Desk.. Ms.Bono(zootalk) 18:08, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Relax, Ms. Bono. Rojomoke was actually pointing out that you were not the user in question when Jack of Oz tried to identify the question by user Mingmingla (talk) 21:45, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
My apologies, Miss Bono (not sure why your user name is Miss Bono but you show it as Ms Bono, so I'll assume the latter is for your own personal use). I figured out the OP was you and addressed my reply to you. Then I was made aware it wasn't you, and I removed your name. I realise now that any subsequent mentions of your username seem to have just come out of thin air, as if people have got it in for you. That is not the case, at least not from me. My motto is: If you're going to stuff things up, do it comprehensively and cause as much trouble as possible to as many people as possible. I feel I've succeeded admirably. :) -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:17, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Ok Jack of Oz and Mingmingla, so I don't have that bad reputation? And a question doesn't Ms. mean the same as Miss?English is not my first language and I am only 19 y-old Ms.Bono(zootalk) 12:55, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
No, Ms is different from Miss. Ms is now the standard title for women, regardless of marital status. Miss was formerly used of unmarried women, and Mrs of married women. Mrs is still occasionally seen, but Miss is rare, in my experience. My comment was about why one would choose a certain username (Miss Bono), but then actually use a different one (Ms. Bono). I know a lot of users do this, but it eludes me. (In case people are wondering, I chose JackofOz, without spaces, as my username because at the time I believed that spaces were not permitted. Only latterly did I change my external appearance to include the spaces I would have included if I knew I could. But the words are identical.)
Being 19 means you're an adult, with all of adulthood's rights and responsibilities, so I'm not sure what the "only" is in reference to. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 13:09, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
In my country you are an adult with 21 (I think) but i was refering to that maybe I am not an expert in English language as a 34 year old person. But I don't know how is where you live. Thanks for the explanation Jack of Oz, I've changed back my signature :) I didn't know you knew me (I am refering to when you mention me soemwhere above.) Actually i think the only users who knows me are the ones that interact everyday with me. Miss Bono(zootalk) 13:29, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Again, I'm not sure what you mean by "know me". Wikipedia does not operate like human life where people are introduced to each other by a third party. We all see what all the rest of us are doing wherever we happen to be, and we're welcome to just start a conversation with whomever. I had not had such an honour with you until now. The reason I thought the OP to this talk page question was you, was that it referred to posting the same question to 2 Ref Desks. I looked around, found that you had posted a question on 2 Ref Desks, added 1 to 1, and got 98. I goofed up. Your name should never have appeared in this thread, unless you had chosen to enter the conversation. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:10, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Sorry the misundertanding, Jack of Oz. What I meant to say by 'know me' is that I didn't know you were aware of my existence in Wikipedia. Again, sorry for my awful English. Miss Bono(zootalk) 20:15, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
No need to apologise, Miss Bono. Why wouldn't I be aware of you? I'm a ref desk regular, and even if I'm not involved in answering a particular thread, I read most of them. From time to time I check out various editors' user pages and their talk pages. I have a shifting carpet of users on my watchlist. Most users have many eyes on them from users they may rarely, or never, interact with. Just watching, watching .... You're never alone here at Wikipedia. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:37, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Mmmm interesting :). Thanks for your time, Jack of Oz. I will add you to my Watchlist :P Miss Bono(zootalk) 20:39, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Hey Jack of Oz!, I am a fan of Mandela and MLK. Pointing it out cuz I saw you Other People page :) Miss Bono(zootalk) 21:14, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
I think you're in plenty of good company - I'm pretty sure all of my friends and family are fans of Nelson Mandela (peace to him) and MLK (and this is not unusual among my acquaintances). Great people. -- Scray (talk) 00:41, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Dynamic dictionaries

Askers and answerers might find these dictionaries to be useful when they read information on the World Wide Web.

Wavelength (talk) 15:45, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Wiki-mentors, I made you a tool. IRC discussion Wed. July 17th @ 1600 UTC

Snuggle users and the Teahouse are co-hosting an IRC office hours session (Wed. July 17th @ 1600 UTC - #wikimedia-officeconnect) to discuss the state of new editor support in Wikipedia and introduce you to WP:Snuggle, a web-based tool designed to make finding good-faith newcomers who need help fast and easy. Give it a try by pointing your browser to

See the agenda for more info. --EpochFail (talk), Technical 13 (talk), TheOriginalSoni (talk) 17:07, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Hatting of answer to IMDb question

On the Entertainment desk ("Several replacements for one site?") I queried a response by Medeis as not being relevant to the topic. Her reply confirmed it was "obviously not" relevant. She attempted to justify it on spurious grounds, and I told her why it was unacceptable.

Then I hatted that whole section of the thread, including my part in it.

Medeis then amended the hatting to exclude her original post, with the edit summary "nothing bad faith about my suggestion".

Another irrelevance! Who ever mentioned bad faith? What made her answer inappropriate were:

  • her introduction of the irrelevant topic of spying, something the OP never mentioned
  • her failure to answer the question, which was "what other websites also do these same things?", and
  • her incredible rudeness in telling the OP to return to the very site they said they want nothing more to do with.

It seems the Policewoman of the Reference Desk does not like being policed herself. Would someone else please deal with this? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:14, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

I'm fairly sure Medeis is a guy. But that aside, I agree with you. It's one rule for Medeis, another rule for everyone else. Here and at ITN/R. AlexTiefling (talk) 00:32, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
What in the world are you talking about? My answer was in good faith, I have clarified it for the OP in case it wasn't clear. It violates no policy. I happen to know various people who are leery of using various websites for want of not having data collected. If the policy is we don't just hat things because we disagree with them then stick to it. μηδείς (talk) 00:40, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Your answer was extremely tangential and speculative. The OP had said "...for reasons that I'd rather not specify", yet you picked up exclusively on that element of the question, and speculated. Not just off-topic, but going directly against an implied request from the OP. Completely inappropriate. HiLo48 (talk) 00:46, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Jack, Alex, And HiLo. Most of the time I try to ignore Medeis. He/She seems to spend more time being a not picking pedant than trying to actually help the OP. In this particular case, the NSA/security angle was pulled from his/her own nether regions. The OP didn't specify their reason for disliking IMDB and has no obligation to. Dismas|(talk) 13:17, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the rest (except of course μηδείς). The answer as with a few answers from μηδείς was just bizzare. In fact the OP links to their email address in their user page and to a blog which links to a Google Plus account which suggests privacy is not necessarily something that is of great concern to them. And considering the majority of sites do some sort of tracking and I'm not aware IMDb is notorious for their tracking so it would likely to be something to mention if it was a concern to help look for suitable sites, yet OP specifically said they's rather not specify the reason (although did mention one thing they don't like about). And perhaps it's must me, but 'disenchanted' seems to imply wider and more general concerns than just their tracking. Of course it's still possible it's a reason but a better bet would be to ask the OP if they would change their mind. Perhaps I wouldn't have minded if μηδείς's post was polite and clear even if completely OT and commenting on something the OP sad they'd rather not comment on, something like 'If you are concerned by tracking, consider disabling cookies' or something similar. But to me, their responsive came across as dismissive and rude, not to mentioning easily confusing. Not to mention μηδείς'shistory of deleting and closing a lot of similar often better stuff.,Nil Einne (talk) 17:15, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
This began with Jack arguing with me, and then deciding to hat my comment only after he had done so. If I hat an item it's because the item is a request for opinion or a blp violation or some such, which I specify, not because I don't personally care for the answer after arguing with someone. I find the implication that I should have looked for the OP's email address on his user page before telling him he can disable cookies if he wants to continue viewing a website without "dealing with them" quite weird. The notion that my suggestion was insulting is simply bizarre, and you'll forgive me if I don't find the advice of a person who calls users "idiots" in his edit summary and their contributions "bullshit" very helpful. Nothing I have sad to the OP is a personal attack or insulting in any way, and there's no policy anyone can point to that shows my advice to him is at all problematic. You may disagree with it's usefulness, but that's hardly a reason for this thread or Jack's actions. μηδείς (talk) 18:06, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
You could have written that post as "Look over there, not at me". HiLo48 (talk) 18:17, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
No, do please look at me. I said to the OP "If you are simply concerned with the people who run IMDB you can disable cookies for them specifically, and continue to use IMDB. It's not like they're the NSA or something. μηδείς (talk) 3:19 pm, Yesterday (UTC−4)". I stand behind that. The OP can tell me if he finds it insulting, in which case I will apologize. μηδείς (talk) 18:25, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
It may not be insulting, but it didn't answer the question, and did address something the OP did not want to discuss. The problem was that it didn't address any issues at all in the question, because we don't even know if cookies and surveillance were the issues that the OP had with the site. Since the OP also explicitly stated that they were not interested in discussing the reasons, offering anything other than the requested information (other, similar, sites) is simply not answering the question. Your answer, while potentially not incorrect, was not relevant to the question as posed. That, I believe, is what Jack is objecting to: you answered a different question that that which was posed. Mingmingla (talk) 18:58, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I get that people besides the OP may not think my answer the best possible or most helpful one. The reaction above is way beyond that. I didn't advise the OP to tell us why he didn't want to deal with IMDb or question him. I suggested a way he could get the info he wanted from a site he said he found helpful without having to interact with them. Jack could easily have dropped a note suggesting he thought my initial response was abrupt, as I did here with Hilo. Instead, we have a forum where Jack pointily remarks on how I don't like it when he does to me what I don't actually do to others, and where others with standing grudges are invited to chime in with vague accusations. I have repeatedly said I'll apologize to the OP if he says I have insulted him. I don't think there's anything else for me to say at this point. I am also changing the header to something per WP:NEUTRAL that doesn't assume my conviction in its wording. μηδείς (talk) 19:36, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Some responses to the above:
... not because I don't personally care for the answer after arguing with someone. ... This began with Jack arguing with me

  • I queried your post (How is that telling the OP "what other websites do these same things"?), and you quickly responded Obviously it's not and went on to explain what your post was about.
  • You are the one who provided the argument in response to my legitimate query. That explanation made it very clear your post was irrelevant and off-topic. I hatted it because it was off-topic.
  • Your characterisation of when anyone dares to take issue with anything you say as "arguing with you" is inaccurate and dishonest.

If I hat an item it's because the item is a request for opinion or a blp violation or some such, which I specify, not because I don't personally care for the answer

  • This attribution of my reason is baseless, inaccurate and dishonest.
  • I specified my reason, clearly, before I hatted it.
  • The implication from your words is that others may only ever hat things for the same reasons Medeis would have done so. Yet again, Medeis is laying down the law for others to follow. Well, tough titties, baby.

... and then deciding to hat my comment only after he had done so

  • You have considerable form when it comes to having your say about some issue in which you’re involved, then announcing at the end of your post that you are immediately taking the page off your watchlist. Meaning, you don't give a damn what anyone else might have to say about what you've just written. Medeis has spoken, the discussion is ended! So please do not criticise me for hatting something only after I have had my say. The matter was clear cut: I asked for evidence your post was relevant; you confirmed unambiguously it was not; I told you why it failed the relevance test; I hatted it.
  • I only brought it here after you altered the hatting to make the irrelevance refer to me and not to you. More dishonesty. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:24, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
It's curious how continuing this benefits the OP, any party who's commented here, or the project. If I said "not relevant" to you on the Entertainment Desk Jack, I obviously meant "not irrelevant". That being clarified, unless it is still "tough titties", we could drop this. μηδείς (talk) 20:47, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Rather than respond to my specific points, you prefer to drop it. May I take it you agree with everything I said?
These sorts of discussions benefit the project by improving the operation of policies and rules that are not working the way they were intended to; or where the actions of particular editors bear some discussion, so that we can all be clear about standards of behaviour and what approaches will work best, for all of us.
You have often asked me to bring issues right here, rather than continuing them on the Ref Desk itself or on your talk page - I've done exactly what you've asked.
I have not even begun to understand your second sentence, which is far from "clarified". Can you assist, please? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 21:17, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
@AlexTiefling: I wouldn't be so sure Medeis is a guy. I always thought of Medeis as an old grumpy woman. OsmanRF34 (talk) 08:40, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
@AlexTiefling & @OsmanRF34: Medeis has previously objected strongly to being gender-identified, archive link: [1], although having self-identified as having worked as a waitress (and explained that waitress does not necessarily imply female gender). Whatever you may think of the singular they, they is the most appropriate pronoun for Medeis, IMHO. --NorwegianBlue talk 21:28, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
OK, as you want. When I think about they, I think of a group of grumpy old people. Better now?OsmanRF34 (talk) 23:13, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
A statistical analysis indicates that the frequency of pipolar variations in the observable behaviour of the specimen coincides with the lunatic cycle. One may deduce intimate details from this observation, but, may be, one is not inclined thusly. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 21:47, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Pipolar? According to Urban Dictionary: "The disorder when a polar bear changes it shape randomly into the pi symbol. This does not harm the bear as in anywhere from 2 minutes to one hour the bear changes back to its original shape.
Person 1: Dude, didn't you hear the polar bear at the zoo has been diagnosed with pi-polar disorder!!!" OsmanRF34 (talk) 23:13, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for prediction regarding Fed action this coming winter

We've got a rather odd command to advise an OP without prediction what will happen this winter if the US Fed should take an arbitrary action. It's rather obvious we have no reliable sources that will answer this, and I have closed it as a request for prediction. μηδείς (talk) 03:17, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

"If the Fed does _____, who would know what the fed had done? Could people know what the fed had done?" Paraphrased, of course. I don't care whether you call that a request for prediction, but it is eminently answerable, and it is very clear that was the OP is looking for is a deeper understanding of the transparency (or lack thereof) of the asset buying program. Hatting a question simply because you don't like the way it was phrased when the core question is ripe reference desk material is simply unhelpful. Someguy1221 (talk) 03:41, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
You are quite free to off refs, until then, this is a request for prediction. μηδείς (talk) 03:58, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
One obvious example is the behavior of the stock market. When the Fed chairman floated the idea that they might cut stimulus early, the market plunged. When he backed off from the that, it rose again. However, that does not mean that when the stimulus ends it will guarantee a plunge again. Because I always hear the so-called experts saying that the markets like stability, and presumably advance notice, which I think was an angle to that poster's question. So if they know something's going to happen, they can prepare for it. But that is at best an educated guess (provided you can find an expert's guess, cause that ain't me). There is no absolute way to predict what will happen, only guesstimates of what might happen. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:00, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
The OP isn't asking us to speculate what the stock market would do. He just wants to know whether and how someone can tell if the Fed has made a purchase. Someguy1221 (talk) 09:05, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, then maybe the right answer would be about how to determine where government spending goes. So whether the government gives notice or not, presumably there's a place that they would report their spending, after the fact, and someone in the know could check that information. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:03, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Medeis, you seem to have a high regard for the respondents here; apparently if we few stalwarts cannot answer the question then that automatically means that the question is unanswerable and purely a call for speculation? Absurd! The question is about transparency - who watches the watchmen and all that good stuff. Just because the three or four dozen regulars here can't name that group or individual doesn't mean that nobody can. Let the question stand. Matt Deres (talk) 20:43, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
You shure has got some purdy speechifyin. Question remains a request for purdiction what ain't got no references to hand nor given. μηδείς (talk) 20:46, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
The current version of the question is "Who would notice? What would the general public see?" and that is potentially answerable, as it's really asking where such information is visible (if anywhere); and some users have attempted to point the poster in a potential direction. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:21, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
I would not pile on if there were a glimmer of realization in your responses, Medeis, but seeing none I will say that I agree with the consensus - a "what if" question is answerable if it's a Gedankenexperiment, meant to explore what is using a specific hypothetical set of conditions. The question is not about the conditions, it's about facts (what checks and balances are in place...). I realize that this discussion may have run its course, but it can be helpful to explore these issues from time to time. ...and a parody of multi-syllable explanations doesn't contribute anything but noise. -- Scray (talk) 22:46, 14 July 2013 (UTC)


I would like to hat this; it's in direct contravention of "We don't answer requests for opinions, predictions or debate". Why is everyone feeding it? (talk) 14:37, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Done. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:05, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Ta! (talk) 18:09, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
That includes the pointless gun control debate that happened in there. While there is plenty of room for discussion on that front in general, this isn't the place for it. We aren't changing any minds on that one. Our positions are too strongly held (on both sides), and no amount of "logic" is going to help either way. These political debates should be zapped on sight before they derail the real question (not just in this one, but in general), or better yet, not engaged in in the first place. Mingmingla (talk) 18:17, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Despite what many Americans would like to be the case, gun control is seen by many, both outside and inside the USA, as a major issue surrounding that case. If that case is raised, you cannot ask that gun control issues be ignored. And this is a global encyclopaedia. You cannot demand that non-Americans not comment on it just because Americans can't deal with it. HiLo48 (talk) 07:16, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
For the record, I'm Canadian and agree with your stance on the issue, Hilo. However, this is not the place for that debate. Do you really think your arguing with bUGs is going to change any minds on the issue? Mingmingla (talk) 16:28, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
The real problem was that the poster's question was labeled "hypothetical" and yet was obviously about the Zimmerman case. Gun control is a side issue, as Zim could just as easily have pulled out a knife or a blackjack (if he had them) and delivered a fatal blow. As regards the second amendment, maybe HiLo could take his time machine back to the late 1700s and advise the founding fathers to word it differently. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:39, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
This is exactly what I'm talking about. Whatever your stance (or mine) the ref desk is not the place to debate politics. It a place to answer questions (with references, preferably). Mingmingla (talk) 16:28, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I am not arguing for or against any particular position on gun control here in this thread. I am arguing that to ask people not to mention it is ridiculous. It simply IS a major reason why the Treyvon Martin case has received widespread attention, at least in my country and, I suspect, elsewhere. HiLo48 (talk) 18:26, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Gun control was not really a major issue in this case. It was about behavior and race and the competence of those handling the case. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:07, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I shouldn't have brought it up. This is exactly what I was trying to point out what we should avoid. It is no more appropriate to debate the case here that it was there. The talk page is for discussion of the ref desk and its policies. The Ref Desk is to answer questions with references wherever possible. This is neither. (talk) 22:20, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
"Once you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is with a much bigger can." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:32, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Bugs, I respect your view that gun control wasn't an issue in this case, but I must point out that it WAS an issue where I come from, a perspective you obviously don't have. There's a saying here that goes "Only in America..." It is followed by a story of something that could only happen because of things like America's extreme (by world standards) litigation laws, or the gun laws, or similar. This is one of those stories. It's because of the gun laws that this makes news around the world. Note, I am not arguing here that gun laws should be changed. Just pointing out that, because they are so different in the US from what applies elsewhere, the people elsewhere notice stories like this. (And that's a lot of people.) HiLo48 (talk) 08:27, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Whatever. Every country does things its own way. We've got this character Snowden, who allegedly "fears for his life" in the US, and is asking for asylum in Russia, a country which routinely jails anyone who dares to make fun of authority figures. And you've got a good portion of Europe where people are unarmed and defenseless against any kind of violent crime. I'll take the USA, thank you. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:50, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Stop trying to win the argument. This isn't one. HiLo48 (talk) 13:06, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
You first. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:26, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Is this actually relevant to the desk in anyway? Wasn't there just an aggravating rfc about this exact type of thing? I'm sure there's an internet forum somewhere this debate could be carried out to your heart's content.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 13:33, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Feel free to mark this section "resolved". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:35, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
This should not have been hatted as a request for legal advice, but, if anything, a request for debate. μηδείς (talk) 20:41, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Can you people please try to understand another person's comments? I have made no comment at all here on what US gun laws should be. I have simply tried to explain that it is US guns laws that made this event notable internationally. There. Read that again carefully. I did not try to tell Americans what their gun laws should be, did I? So stop posting as if I did! HiLo48 (talk) 21:39, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
"It simply IS a major reason why the Treyvon Martin case has received widespread attention, at least in my country and, I suspect, elsewhere." Oh, yeh? Prove it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:19, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
In your case, I doubt if that's possible. But I have made my view known now. And most readers of this will realise that a simple self defence case would not have made the national news in Australia. HiLo48 (talk) 23:24, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
In short, you can't prove it. The story was primarily about racial profiling and racial bias. The fact it was a gun instead of a knife or club or tazer or whatever is not the story, although I'm sure the America-haters tried to make it that way. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:29, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
BBC's report of President Obama's comments today zero in on what the story was about. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:43, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
How can Obama's comments today have anything to do with why this made news in Australia several days ago? He's American! (At least most agree that he is.) We have had racial profiling cases in Australia. Did they make the news in America? No. Your country is different from almost all others in one obvious way that relates to this case. It's the gun laws. HiLo48 (talk) 23:50, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
The point being that the foreign press got the story wrong. It's not about guns. It's about a white guy killing an unarmed black guy and calling it "self defense" and getting away with it. (So far.) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:21, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
You'd better let those evil "foreign" media owners know they got it wrong. BTW, a major one in Australia is Rupert Murdoch. HiLo48 (talk) 01:50, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Oh, yeh, Murdock. An American columnist once said, "No self-respecting fish would be wrapped in a Murdoch newspaper." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:58, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Now that I won't disagree with. HiLo48 (talk) 03:12, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
The question was sort of asking about the legal framework in which self-defense occurs. I tried to provide that answer, and I think I did an adequate job at it. The meandering threads into ancillary issues are predictable but not necessary. This question could have been easily answered if this desk could ever keep on topic or avoid the slightest opportunity to wax about political topics, which we cannot (I'm guilty of this too at times). Shadowjams (talk) 22:41, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm still trying to figure out how someone can argue "self-defense" when they go after somebody despite being told not to. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:20, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
I can make up factual scenarios too. "Go after someone" and "being told not to" [by whom] are wholly subjective conclusions that appear to completely inform your response here. As Medeis literally says (although probably not actually), this is not the place for your outrage Bugs. Shadowjams (talk) 03:37, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Please stop asking reasonable questions, Bugs, this is not the place for it. μηδείς (talk) 01:35, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
We all get tempted to wade in. We all have to restrain ourselves. Especially here. (Bites lip very hard.) Itsmejudith (talk) 23:55, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

New Cuddlyable3 sock

It seems from comments like [2] [3] (the whole message I mean not that specific edit) and the general similarity such as the shared interest in colour spaces or the GIF article, that Special:Contributions/DreadRed is a sock of Special:Contributions/Cuddlyable3 aka Special:Contributions/DriveByWire. Anyone else want to do the needful? I don't think a CU will be needed but while the C3 account is probably too old to link, perhaps DriveByWire will not be. Nil Einne (talk) 17:54, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

According to their talk page, DBW was a suspected sock of Light Current, not C3. FWIW, the diffs you gave remind me of C3. Matt Deres (talk) 18:48, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
The linkage to Light Current was almost definitely a mistake as the case was started by someone somewhat unfamiliar with the RD. Most regulars with an opinion including me saw a connection with C3 Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Light current/Archive#12 July 2012 (also some talk page discussion IIRC) but since DBW ended up getting blocked with little chance of an unblock I don't think anyone could be bothered trying to fix it. Nil Einne (talk) 20:36, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Oh, my. Sharpen up on your its/it's usage, everybody; the enforcer is back in town and you wouldn't want to get a scolding due to an egregious breach of this most important tenet of English orthography. —Steve Summit (talk) 21:18, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
One of our best contributors has a positive affectation of using "it's" where orthodoxy would prescribe "its". I can sympathise with his position, especially because it's deliberate. Overthrow the hegemony of the unnecessary apostrophe! Tevildo (talk) 00:26, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Those accounts edits are over a year old, they are "stale" unless the checkuser limit changed. (talk) 21:34, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Unhatting feverfew question

I have unhatted a question asking about whether the plant feverfew is poisonous or not. There is no request for advice here and feverfew's properties are not the exclusive domain of licensed veterinarians. A plant's (or a fungi's) poisonousness (how can that not be a word!?) is a fact that can be determined from reliable sources. If the question were about whether rattlesnakes were venomous or not, we would simply say "yes" and not go through this ridiculous dance. Or so I would hope? Matt Deres (talk) 16:28, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

toxicity means the degree to which something is poisonous. DreadRed (talk) 20:29, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. Wnt (talk) 18:58, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. Robert's answer there gives two good wikilinks (and refs therein), though perhaps more/better refs could be dug up. What I would hat is all the arguing and debating of the rules going on at that question. THIS is the place for argument and diatribes discussion and consensus building, not there ;) SemanticMantis (talk) 19:07, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
This is very simple. We don't give professional advice, per the disclaimer at the bottom of the page. None of us is a licensed veterinarian, able to say what pets a plant may or may not poison some pet, and none of us can actually identify the species of plant involved. But, by all means, it is so very damn (very damn) important that we opine on every question posted (some of us get airline points) who cares about the possible victims? μηδείς (talk) 20:40, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
"Is ______ poisonous to _____?" That is a perfectly answerable question, with references, often to Wikipedia articles. Is it so very damn important that you imagine fictitious victims of every bit of referenced medical knowledge posted to Wikipedia? If the OP had said, "HOLY CRAP MY DOG ATE FEVERFEW IS HE GOING TO DIE???", then sure, hat/delete/etc. But here we were asked a simple question. Someguy1221 (talk) 21:54, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Medeis: by "the disclaimer at the bottom of the page", are you referring to Wikipedia:General disclaimer? That page is targeted at readers, not posters. What it says is, "Nothing you read on Wikipedia should be construed as professional advice". It's one of the things that makes it clear that, when we contribute to a Wikipedia article or a Reference Desk thread, we are providing information, not advice. If it were against the rules for us to provide any information which happens to fall under the purview of one profession or another, (a) the Reference Desk guidelines would say so, and (b) Wikipedia would be a lot thinner. —Steve Summit (talk) 22:32, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Readers aren't babies, after a point it's not really up to us to make sure that people are smart enough to filter decent info out of internet answers. I understand not answering questions like "I do X, am I bipolar?", "I fell at McDonalds, how much will I get for my lawsuit?", and "How do I perform heart surgery on my neighbor?"; but asking if something is poisonous to animals is not in this category. As for no professional advice, who determines when a question is asking for it? Medical/Legal I get, but "professional"? Isn't giving someone advice on how to fix their computer "professional" advice that caries a degree of risk for those who blindly follow it? Nobody hats those questions.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 06:58, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
I think the issue here is a differing interpretation of the word "prognosis" in kainaw's criterion. Specifically, does a general statement about the typical course of a particular condition count as "prognosis"? It's certainly not always the case. Take the question "Is Ebola a fatal disease?" I believe that most here would say that's an answerable medical information question. ("Zaire ebola virus disease has an average fataility rate of approximately 83%") However "I have ebola. Will I die?" is an obvious request for prognosis. So what does that mean for the dog/feverfew question under discussion? The phrasing is closer to the former ebola question than the latter, but unlike having ebola, having a dog eat feverfew is likely enough that someone could be looking for the answer to the second question, even if it's phrased as the first. What to do? Well, the kainaw's criterion essay talks about this very point. Under borderline cases, it lists the question "I have diabetes. Are there any brands of ice cream safe for diabetics?" as an acceptable question. An answer to the question is permitted, as long as only the actual, general case question is addressed, and the specific case question ("Is the icecream safe for me/Will my dog die) is not touched upon. -- (talk) 18:00, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Right. Even more specifically, Kainaw's essay makes the point that "care must be taken to only answer the question asked and not the question implied". In this case, the OP did not ask about their pet specifically. Someone made the assumption that the OP was worried about their own pet and that answering might therefore be problematical, but in fact all the OP asked was "Is the Feverfew plant poisonous to animal pets?", and this question is (or ought to have been) perfectly acceptable to answer. —Steve Summit (talk) 13:07, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
  • "Readers aren't babies" is not a policy. No professional advice is. The OP obviously has some specific plants in mind, having noted his location in England. He wants to know if those plants will harm his pets. We haven't got an effing clue as to what kind of pets he has or whether those plants are actually feverfew, and of what variety, or not. This visceral need to offer the OP advice on these grounds is incredible. Hysterical even. If the OP is not trolling he is poorly served by asking random people on the internet whether an unidentified plant will poison an unidentified animal, and we are out of place to answer him. μηδείς (talk) 19:21, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
    • We don't have to know. If feverfew is poisonous to cats, we can say it's poisonous to cats; if it's poisonous to lungfish, we can say it's poisonous to lungfish; and if it's frequently used as fill in dog food, we can say that too. Break out the LD50 if you want. None of that is advice about what this person should do. Matt Deres (talk) 02:09, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
I notice you keep saying "professional advice", as I asked you to do before, please elaborate. Are you saying that we're offering "medical advice" by answering the question, I think if you are, that's debatable; I'm not sure asking about toxicity of plants to animals is medical advice. If you're talking about professional advice in general, please elaborate why I can help someone fix their computer; instead of having to recommend they go to a specialist. As for why we should "opine", because answering questions is the whole point of the desk, so, if someone is asking, then we should be trying to answer; or do you see a different purpose?Phoenixia1177 (talk) 03:58, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
Too, if your purpose is to make the reference desk a better place, maybe you could refrain from describing people who disagree with you as having a "burning hit-the-crackpipe itch" directly in the thread? Your response seems more problematic than the question or the answers.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:13, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
A veterinarian is a licensed professional in most of the US. If that is difficult, consider again that a veterinarian is a licensed professional in most of the US. Or look here. Until then, please stop dispensing advice as if you are yourself anything other than a stranger on the internet. μηδείς (talk) 02:44, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Haven't answered a single question I asked. Do you count all "Professionals" or are you considering this "Medical"? You do realize this isn't your reference desk? With the nasty comments in threads and the short answers, you sound more like a moderator than another user with equal standing, except there aren't any moderators.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 03:25, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Scroll to the bottom of this page, you will see the word "disclaimers". Click on it. There you will see the notice No professional advice. Read it. It is not limited to medical professionals. (If "such as" is unclear, ask at the language ref desk for an explanation.) Afterwards you will (perhaps now?) see "please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area". Veterinarians are licensed to give medical advice about animals. If you have other questions, ask for an explanation at the Wikipedia:Help desk. μηδείς (talk) 04:11, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
You mean the disclaimer that Steve already responded to you above? Or do you have a different one? Since that is a general disclaimer, and not a refdesk specific one, what are you doing about the line in the feverfew article that says, "Feverfew should not be taken by pregnant women."? Or do you apply the general disclaimer for readers to the refdesk as a rule for answerers only? This still doesn't address your overly nasty attitude. Do you think the crack pipe comparison is acceptable?Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:06, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
According to our article Practicing without a license, accountants, engineers, and plumbers can get in trouble for practicing without a license, and these are all professions. According to you, then, can we not answer questions on any of these subjects either?Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:14, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Medeis, I'm afraid you're the one who may need help with reading comprehension. Those words "not professional advice" you keep (mis)quoting do not mean "You must not give professional advice on Wikipedia", and they also do not mean "You must not seek professional advice on Wikipedia". What they mean is: "Any words you read on Wikipedia -- any of them at all, no matter what they seem to say -- are not professional advice." (There are other words which direct us not to seek or offer medical and legal advice on the reference desks, but they're different words and in a different place.)
If someone were to ask on one of the Ref desks, "I have a splitting pain in my head, double vision, and blood coming out of my ears", and I replied, "Sounds like you have a headache. Take two aspirin and write us back in the morning", then those words I wrote would just not be professional advice. That's what the General Disclaimer means. —Steve Summit (talk) 18:46, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

BLP Nonsense

Given the bizarrely false and argumentative statements being made here about the potential crimes of a living person, I suggest the thread be closed as violating BLP. Given I have commented there I won't presume to do so myself. μηδείς (talk) 02:38, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

WickWack is back

I removed [4] as it's fairly obviously WickWack and while the response didn't seem that bad, they are banned from the RD. BTW, this doesn't seem to have been noted in the earlier discussion but AFAIK whatever their claims about national pools, WickWack's IP has always looked up to WA (generally Perth but I suspect false precision and I found one which looks up to Wembley) which also concurs with what they've said before. Nil Einne (talk) 20:06, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Proper removal in line with the terms of the ban. If Wickwack et al. wants to return to the fold, the ban discussion contained ways to do so, and/or he can appeal in six months as the closing admin noted. Given the nature of his ISP, blocking is futile at this point, but please keep vigilant in removing his contributions per the terms of the ban. --Jayron32 21:21, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

I removed another of his posts just now. [5] -Modocc (talk) 15:48, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Similarly: [6] -- Scray (talk) 14:51, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

It would seem appropriate to link the the ban discussion in edit summaries when removing possible WickWacks (or possibly to a subpage explaining the topic ban), just in case of false positives. Although, like a rangeblock, the way to get around the false positive should be to create an account. Plus then he has no possible defence of not being notified (not that it would be likely to work anyway). MChesterMC (talk) 15:17, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

I did not see your comment (which is a great suggestion) before doing this. For future edit summaries on this topic, here is a link that we could use. -- Scray (talk) 16:08, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Note that the topic ban is listed in the list in the topic ban page, and there is only one person currently topic banned from the RD there, although other topic bans could potentially apply (edit: although most wouldn't be dealt with by undiscussed summary reversion). That said, since Wickwack doesn't really appear to be a troll or at least not a typical one, I have no objection to linking to the ANI or simply naming Wickwack in the edit summary along with the link to the topicban page (which lists the Wickwack name), both of which should be sufficient to clearly establish who the editor is and establish that they are indeed topic banned. Nil Einne (talk) 16:17, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
  • The malaria thread's archived page has been semiprotected for three days [7] and the roaming IP editor states that he is new to the desks and he has made an edit request to which I have responded. I removed the redirect and didn't move it here (although that might be proper if there is a way to do so, but I'm not sure) because the template refers to the semiprotected page that its placed on. --Modocc (talk) 03:34, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
This is a complex situation and I agree with handling it there if possible for the reasons you indicate. More eyes/voices might help reassure the editor that their concerns are being addressed. -- Scray (talk) 12:33, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
I wondered if something like this would ever come up, it seems it has. I've left a reply suggesting they create an account. While I have my doubts, if they really are not WickWack unfortunately I see no other choice. This isn't that dissimilar from editors behind a long term blocked IP like a school one. If they do create an account, I suggest more tolerance initially until it's totally clear from behavioural evidence they are WickWack. Nil Einne (talk) 21:50, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
While it was not formally part of the ban as enacted, there was still significant support for allowing the person who used the WickWack/Keit/Ratbone etc. aliases to return to the fold if they merely created one account and stuck to it. I suspect that many would support allowing that overtly. That is, if said person created one account, was upfront about who they were, and stuck to the one account, it would satisfy many people. --Jayron32 22:27, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Even if the IP is not wickwack, this sort of screaming obscenity is not exactly to be encouraged. μηδείς (talk) 22:40, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with turning the other cheek if they create an account. About the obscenity, you just can't be screaming that shit and get away with it. -- Scray (talk) 00:48, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Hello, why is there swearing? Is there an issue? --JustBerry (talk) 00:50, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Swearing has been around for a long time - part of the English language. -- Scray (talk) 00:55, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
I understand that Scray, but please refrain from attacking other users. Try to make this a more positive working environment. --JustBerry (talk) 01:00, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Scray's the last person to be attacking users. The wickwack case is a long and complicated one. The user used IP accounts which he signed manually with various pseudonyms but did not register an account. His disruptive behavior was hard to deal with because his contributions were intentionally not searchable. He ended up being proven to sockpuppet and received a lengthy topic ban. This thread is about posts by him after that ban. The obscenity is not an active issue, but it should be documented, which is why I mentioned it. Scray's actually being generous to say he'd take wickwack back if he registers, even though the topic ban is unconditional. μηδείς (talk) 01:10, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Medeis - your endorsement is appreciated. JustBerry, please re-read this thread and try to find where I attacked anyone. Before you start flinging accusations I suggest you read more carefully. -- Scray (talk) 01:33, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
While I never bothered to comment in the topic ban discussion, I actually supported something similar and had intended to say it if I did. (I didn't support a last chance as IPs, as I felt their actions had pushed us beyond allowing a last chance there, particularly given the difficult it would cause for monitoring adherence.) However I have far less sympathy for this idea now that they returned despite the topic ban and even less sympathy if the IP above is the indeed WickWack since their denials and actions above appear to be similar to what got WickWack topic banned in the first place. Then again, I still wouldn't oppose allowing them back right now as a last chance under a single account. I mentioned something similar in the above page but suggested they wait months or years because I wasn't sure the community would be as generous. That said, WickWack has in the past indicated a strong reluctance to create an acccount, perhaps this was just because it would be easier to pretend to be multiple people, but IIRC they also said some stuff about being 'misidentified' and being blocked or banned because of it which makes me wonder if there's actually some other history we don't know about. Nil Einne (talk) 01:24, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Is upper-case vulgarity part of Wickwack's typical behavior? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:47, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Scray, I am not sure my endorsement will count in your favor in everyone's eyes. As for WW, my opinion before was if he registered he should get the benefit of the doubt. Now I think he should have to ask for the benefit of the doubt. To answer Bugs, how many hostile and cursitive people are there in Western Australia impersonating WW? μηδείς (talk) 02:00, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Sorry I did not explain it very well. I was referring to their comments in general in Wikipedia talk:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2013 July 1 as well as what they were trying to add to the thread in the first place, no the vulgarity. In particular, the IP in the malaria thread seemed to be trying to convince people that some other respondent is wrong and they are right and rather forcefully at that. Of course there's nothing wrong per se with disagreeing with someone on the RD provided you're not too uncivil and willing to support your claims with sources, and I'm not suggest the behaviour above necessarily crossed the line. But this was also what WickWack was doing and he seemed to be crossing the line. Then of course we realised they were pretending to be multiple people to try to support their view (which was what got them banned). Nil Einne (talk) 12:51, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
The ISP owns an IP range of at least 8 million addresses, and 45% of the Australian broadband subscriber market. Seems to me that this makes the evidence on which the conclusion of socking was based worthless. With several million people having the opportunity and means to produce fake evidence, the odds of WW being a puppeteer would shift in favor of him being the victim of a troll. If one in 50000 customers is a troll, you still have hundred potential perpetrators. It's a completely risk-free way of cyberbullying: You target an IP who can be identified by his edits, you offer "support" whenever there's a conflict with other editors; if it's an IP who signs his posts like WW did it's even easier, you can destroy the credibility of the person and do some gaslighting at the same time; change some detail of a target's post, an edit that the target would later assume he made himself. Then using the same IP address you post under the sock-puppet's name, knowing that these edits will turn up in a review.
Different IPs will be interpreted as evidence of gaming the system, and when the posts with the same IP and different names are found, it's considered conclusive proof. And you're really messing with the targets mind, he'll get the impression that everyone is conspiring against him.
And the archives are pretty much a tutorial on how to make convincing sockpuppets, copy misspellings, vocabulary, etc.. Ssscienccce (talk) 23:37, 16 July 2013 (UTC)
Your argument is backwards. You cannot argue from statistics about a potential number of trolls to arguing that there must be at least a second person wanting to impersonate wickwack. Trolls like to do their own trolling, not that of other trolls. μηδείς (talk) 22:18, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't know what kind of psi (or spi) powers you people have to diagnose Wickwack from these IP posts. Nor do I see how creating an account is going to help "Wickwack2" or some other victim escape your suspicions, since you'll only say look there's this new user on the Refdesk and something he said makes you think he's Wickwack. I am thinking it would be virtuous to work on writing up some good instructions for the computer novice about how to make your own open proxy on a free appserver... Wnt (talk) 19:07, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Did you read the discussion at all? The point is not 'escaping suspicions'. The point is we may choose to ignore the topic ban if they register and stick with one account provided the problematic behaviour does not continue. Since a big part of their problematic behaviour was the use of multiple identites to support their claims when people disagreed, if they really stick with one account then this already goes away. And IMO it will in fact be far better for them if they do not try to 'escape suspicions' but instead front up about who they are from the getgo and ask the community to relax their topic ban to allow one account. If the community does not agree, there is indeed no point creating an account to try to 'escape suspicions' and there was never any suggestion it would be. Of course if we follow the silly story above, someone else who has been setting it up is going to screw up any such attempts. Although in reality with the added attention etc, it's far more likely that if someone does set up WW, it will not be this person who by this strange set of coincidences decided to impersonate WW out of the blue, but someone new who noticed the controversy and since they knew about it, then decided to set up WW. In fact, if we think about it, it's probably far more likely to be someone who does not have a Telstra WA IP, but some other IP who hopes a CU is never done. Nil Einne (talk) 19:42, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
For starters your statistics are flawed since not all Telstra IPs geolocate to West Australia. You're also missing the fact that the number of potential trolls with an IP in that range who just so happen to come across the RD and just so happen to notice that WickWack uses an IP in the same range and of all the possible trollish actions or misbehaviour they could do, they decided to set up a very long term impersonation of WW someone who no one cared about at the time and I'm guessing if you look in to it, who's manners, style etc they were successfully impersonating from very early on is far smaller then the random numbers you're coming up with. You're also missing the fact that the reason why anyone even looked in to it was AFAIK primarily because WickWack had started to annoy people with their behaviour before any suggestion of sockpuppetry arose. And AFAIK there was never any suggestion by WickWack the most of the problematic posts under their name were not theirs, in fact they often defended them rather forcefully (I'm not sure if they ever commented on the other identities or the fact they posted under two different identities from one IP). We can't of course rule out this happening, but the idea it's more likely has no foundation. Anyway, I presume you at least admit the new posts being discussed here are not from the 'real' WickWack but this supposed impersonator. Or are you suggesting that WickWack didn't troll or sock previously but mysteriously when they were topic banned, suddenly started coming back signing under a new identity (at first) and then simply not including any identity? Nil Einne (talk) 19:42, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
BTW from the four mentioned identities, Floda, Keit, WickWack and Ratbone; Keit appears to be the oldest posting four times in January 2012. WickWack and Ratbone appear in February and Floda in September. So in fact, the alleged 'victim' here would seem to be Keit. Of course this makes more sense anyway, IIRC, WickWack was possibly the more problematic identity and it would make sense to cause the problems if your this evil impersonator/cyberbully. And actually it doesn't look like anyone found an IP which signed under both Keit and something else. Possibly this is because most people stopped looking after a few linkages but perhaps this means that this cyberbully is kinder and/or more sneaky and didn't actually try to post under the 'real' identity, Keit. They only posted under their multiple identities using the same IP, whether intentionally to somehow use this to set up Keit eventually, or accidently. Of course, while I can't say for sure that no one removed a post sogned by Keit after the topic ban it seems likely Keit was somehow aware of this topic ban despiite the difficulty notifying them (we know "Wickwack" etc are aware of this page, I'm not aware "Keit" ever was since there wasn't any discussion about them until the socking issue). Nil Einne (talk) 21:21, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
"WickWack" or Keit has claimed to only sign as Wickwack [8]. Not very cool though and completely bogus because not only did I initially uncover the proof of his socking with the moniker "Ratbone", during his topic ban discussion I also found and presented evidence [9] where signed as Wickwack [10], Floda[11] and Keit[12]. As "Keit" he told StuRat to "put a sock in it", so its possible that it was his intention to be discovered for he posted to Jimbo's talkpage [13] with the opinion that "allowing unregistered dynamic IP users to edit Wikipedia articles is crazy". Essentially, with his wp:game violations, he's been self-righteous, subversive and wp:pointy with his contributions. -Modocc (talk) 07:31, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
My post didn't quite turn out as originally intended, analysis paralysis is a bitch, rephrasing and editing until I'm too tired to think. Most of those don't get posted, the few times I say "fuck it", scrap all nuance and post anyway are usually a source of embarrassment. Anyway my main point was supposed to be more general: people use sock- and meatpuppets and canvasing to push their POV, but it has the opposite effect if discovered or suspected, making obvious meatpuppets and overt off-wiki canvassing a viable strategy to discredit the opposition. I see no obvious way to know whether it happens, and if so, how prevalent it is. Ssscienccce (talk) 13:49, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Can anyone help me?

How is the English language Recognized in Brunei? where in the Constitution does it say that? and what does Recognized in this case mean anyway? Tony Shark789 (talk) 23:15, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

You might be better off posing this at the Language reference desk. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:21, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Question deleted

I've deleted this bit of racist stupidity. Tevildo (talk) 20:59, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

And it's been restored and answered. Ah well. If it amuses people. Tevildo (talk) 21:24, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree this should be hatted (we usually only remove BLP vios, personal attack, and req's for prof advice, which this isn't). It's pretty clear that someone who names himself "silly, ain't he"" and is educated enough to edit the ref desk on his first try but entirely ignorant of biology (while practiced in racist distinctions) is a troll par excellence. μηδείς (talk) 22:00, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
There is precedent for deleting the "Can NASA send a probe to Uranus?" type of question - I'll leave this particular issue to those more experienced in such matters for now. Tevildo (talk) 22:07, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand one who would contribute to a thread on the one hand, and then argue here for the hatting of the same thread on the grounds that it was initiated by a troll par excellence. That seems a very mixed message. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:13, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
The question is a joke. It was responded to that way, since I figured we'd get the usual screaming about how we can't hat or delete anything. And we have, haven't we, got the usual defense of the troll at all costs. (I am also unaware as to how my willingness to have my brilliant comment removed if the entire nonsense is argues against my sincerity here.) This is Tevildo's thread, answer his concern please. μηδείς (talk) 22:19, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I haven't seen any defence of trolls here. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:52, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
Good, then. :) μηδείς (talk) 23:05, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
We will need to keep an eye on this Sïleïni persona. It is indeed reminiscent of some of of our more notorious trolls. —Steve Summit (talk) 22:22, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
  • I've hatted this (not deleted) per the consensus with Tevildo and Summit this is trolling. μηδείς (talk) 22:27, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Three people (myself included) responded to this, and it is misleading to claim you've gotten "talk page consensus" in an hour, ignoring us. Is it trolling? Sure, probably. But good trolling can be good science and vice versa. It's more straightforward to ask what would happen if we blew up the moon than to ask what would happen if we moved it an inch. Let's just play the ball as it lies. Wnt (talk) 23:43, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
  • To be clear, I should add that this is a valid and interesting scientific question. The evolution of sperm can be some of the fastest in nature, a sort of "arms race". It is entirely possible that one of the races mentioned could actually have sperm that manage to do better in certain women when raced against the sperm of one or more of the others. We could do the experiment, if we had access to some women who could be subjected to the mixed sperm, with treatment to block implantation, and we are free to lavage out the zygotes and genotype them. It is merely a matter of social and ethical practicality. We should, however, at least be free to talk about it, and there may be surrogate experiments or potential volunteer pools that I haven't thought of that could bring us closer to an answer. Wnt (talk) 23:55, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, I don't know if my 2 cents are going to be of any use here, but I think this illustrates the need to deal with this sort of trolling calmly, quickly, and moderately. When I saw the question, there were no replies, so I thought maybe people had made the decision to simply ignore it. I followed suit. In an ideal world, this is what we would do. But since something will quickly get started, it's best to hat these things fairly quickly, and with as little fuss as possible. The single biggest way to feed the trolls is not to engage with them, but to argue amongst ourselves, as we are more or less starting to do here. Not that it's an all-out war, but I can feel the tension ratcheting up. The central thing that we are doing here is building an encyclopedia, so when we get questions that are largely silly, we get distracted, and the thing that brings us together is gone. Remember that if we were not building an encyclopedia, there would be no such thing as trolling. Starting silly arguments would be our only fun. Although Wnt's response is quite interesting, I suggest people responding to silly questions keep it short, and people like me just quickly hat them, and where possible, acknowledge the interesting content that someone may have contributed. In this case, it was interesting reading Wnt's link, but it hasn't stimulated a productive inquiry beyond the contribution of a link or two. For most of us, these things just waste time. Not a lot mind you, but a bit. The real loss is the waste of time of others. I'd rather people like Wnt didn't get sucked into spending their time on these questions. I'd rather read these sorts of links when they are part of a more constructive overall discussion, that more people want to contribute to. IBE (talk) 02:46, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
  • It's obvious trolling, and hatting it is a fine course of action. (If there weren't those nice answers -- and they were nice answers -- outright deletion would have been a fine course of action, too.) —Steve Summit (talk) 02:53, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Note that the poster of the question has been blocked. Nil Einne (talk) 05:46, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Yeah, the user was blocked for posting trollish question, and the question is trollish: because the user was blocked afterwards! OsmanRF34 (talk) 16:44, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
And a good thing too. I only suggest hatting in preference to removal because it seems to cause fewer complaints, and results in a simpler burial of the issue. IBE (talk) 06:21, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

On a technical point, is there a user guide to the hat template? I never seem to be able to construct them correctly. In this particular case, using the hat template has left the question intact, which (I would argue) isn't an ideal outcome, but if the consensus is, in the general case, to hat rather than delete, I'll stick with it. Tevildo (talk) 10:41, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

In the search box, enter "template:" followed by the name of the template ("hat" in this case, and then "hab") and you can find out about usage and parameters. The simplest way is to use each of them without parameters, and the "hat" should display a default message. Example below. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:33, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
This discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

This has been a test.

You can add your own text by using this format:

{{hat|type your explanatory text here}}
Body of hatted section

Which produces:
type your explanatory text here
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Body of hatted section

μηδείς (talk) 16:43, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the information. I'm tempted to try it out on the irrelevant discussion of euthanasia that's appeared on RD/S, but perhaps not. :) Tevildo (talk) 18:54, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Ironically, here's Count Iblis lecturing me about my behavior:[14]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:07, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
I see nothing ironic there. But thankyou for alerting us about complaints made against you, because I wasn't aware of this. I have resolved to follow this in future. IBE (talk) 01:44, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Knock yourself out. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:03, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

The OP's block has been lifted, so resume vigilance. —Steve Summit (talk) 11:08, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Stating what people you've never met and who are now dead should have done is pointless, stupid, offensive and off-topic

I never said that and hatting the discussion with this summary is grossly offensive toward me. While, of course, this mini discussion has ended (the OP has requested that), this does not mean it should be hatted with this insulting summary. Count Iblis (talk) 23:16, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

This relates to Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science#Deaths from Alzheimer's disease.
OK, my language was intemperate and I'm sorry I didn't choose my words more carefully. I have withdrawn the words "pointless" and "stupid".
But I don't apologise for hatting the mini-discussion:
  • It was off-topic, that's indisputable, because the question was about what actually does cause the deaths of Alzheimers' patients, not what they might have done to avoid such types of death.
  • I note that euthanasia is legal almost nowhere in the world. "In the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized, it still remains homicide although it is not prosecuted and not punishable if the perpetrator (the doctor) meets certain legal exceptions". So if you're advocating people break the law, please be prepared to accept the consequences.
  • It was offensive to all those, including Medeis, myself and countless others who've lost loved ones to this disease. Did you not read Medeis's reply? If you can't see how your words would have caused offence, I probably won't be able to explain it to you.
  • The reference desk is not a forum for the advocacy of moral, ethical, religious, political, sexual or any other personal positions. Not even if we're asked; and we certainly weren't asked. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:42, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I think this can eand now. The comment seemed quite strange, but I responded, don't think Iblis was being purposefully offensive, and hadn't thought about it again until seeing this thread. μηδείς (talk) 01:01, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Whether people intend to cause offence is rarely if ever the point. People's intentions are given far too much attention, imo. Children talk in terms of "But I didn't mean it", as if that means they're absolved of all responsibility. Different standards apply to adults. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 01:13, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

I have removed the insensitive remark on the RD that prompted this and the ensuing discussion. They should not be restored, and thus, this issue is resolved. Newyorkbrad (talk) 01:07, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

AndyTheGrump has been unblocked, thank goodness. Could someone now unblock Count Iblis too? I don't feel like taking this request to WP:ANI so I probably won't. I know some administrators read this page here though ... pretty please? ---Sluzzelin talk 20:41, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Apologies to everyone who had problems with my comment. I shouldn't have posted it, and after I made that mistake, I should have started this thread immediately instead of reverting. Also while I though that the hatting statement by JackofOz was insulting toward me, I don't mean imply that this was done deliberately, I understand that this was based on what I appeared to have implied with my comment.

Then, one can ask what I did mean to say. Euthanasia which is legal where I live, is a free choice in certain cases and quite routinely applied. So, whether someone who has died should have made a different choice, is never a valid question as far euthanasia is concerned, as they have made the choice they actually made. But of course, I can say that I would prefer not to die like that, which would then be my personal choice. But the way I posted the comment made it suggest like the person who had died should have made a different choice, but that's inconsistent with the very notion of euthanasia (as it exists where it is legal). I replied to Medeis mentioning the "free choice" inherent in euthanasia and that's why I reacted (too aggressively, of course) to the hatting as the hatting statement was effectively letting me say that someone who has died should have done something differently, which is absolutely not what I support. Count Iblis (talk) 15:50, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I believe the comments should just have been hatted as off topic. The actual percentage who opt for euthanasia would be relevant to the question asked. Blocking people and going on about being offensive and murdering and all that is just over the top. Dmcq (talk) 18:30, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I totally agree. It illustrates how we have to be careful with these sorts of comments, because people can misinterpret them, and then people get wound up about it, but someone has to take charge of winding down, and Count Iblis has done a great job of that here. IBE (talk) 01:39, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Kudos to His Grace. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:54, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

All things cars

I have attempted to answer a few questions from Kiel457 (talk · contribs), the ones about importing cars, since I have looked into this matter a few times myself (though with different countries). However, my patience is starting wear thin now he's started to add "Please answer my question quickly". Should I continue to assume good faith? Astronaut (talk) 18:13, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

You could ask him what dire consequences will occur if he doesn't find the answer quickly. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:22, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Even if you want to assume good faith, the overwhelming number of questions and their semi-non-encyclopedic nature is a problem. Someone might suggest he limit himself to one new question per relevant desk per day. μηδείς (talk) 18:27, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Offer expedited help for $30 per question. Count Iblis (talk) 19:40, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Good idea. I'll have him forward it to my Swiss bank account. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:42, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I have warned the user to limit the number and scope of his requests. A glance at his talk page is informative. μηδείς (talk) 19:41, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

New Cuddlyable3 sock redux.

That went well. --Jayron32 03:45, 4 August 2013 (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.

Im' becoming more convinced that User:DreadRed is a Cuddlyable3 sock. This user seems to delight in picking nits in posts - and especially in mine. I don't think it's productive to complain in-thread about my misspelling of the word "Lamborghini" (for example). The answer wasn't about cars - or lambo's - it was about Edison and Tesla. My typo made zero difference to the quality of the answer. A simple typo really doesn't need to be "outed" like that when it's entirely peripheral to the discussion. Perhaps we cannot prove the sockiness of this account - but can we at least agree that it's disruptive to the flow of conversation to interject trivial comments of that nature into the thread - and that disruptive editing is not permitted here. I recommend a strong warning about this behavior - in order that we may block this user unless (s)he quits this incredibly annoying behavior. SteveBaker (talk) 15:29, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

I've commented at that user's talk page. Without a stronger pattern to go on, I don't read too much into this. I do agree that the snide remark was out of place. -- Scray (talk) 18:39, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Oookay - now I see what you mean. Enjoyed the edit summary in the revert of that one. -- Scray (talk) 19:20, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Have you tried WP:SPI and asking for a checkuser to look into it? I've not looked too heavily into recent C3 socks. The last one I caught was probably 6 months to a year ago, and I've not looked into the details of this user too closely, beyond just noting that the "only posts to refdesks + harrasses SteveBaker about his typos" seems to broadly fit the pattern. If SteveBaker has a good bit of evidence to compile, SPI is the place to get results. --Jayron32 01:46, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I saw that prior SPI of yours. I have a pretty strong diff compilation now - more to follow. -- Scray (talk) 02:46, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Report posted. -- Scray (talk) 03:14, 4 August 2013 (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.

deleting request for info on scientific treatment of race

An OP asked here [15] about the validity of a website, about which I will offer no opinion, and whether race can be treated scientifically at all, to which I provided some sources indicating yes, in a certain way. Two editors have simply removed that response (not even hatting) while leaving their contrary opinions untouched. This is inappropriate. I have not engaed in any debate, I have simply answered th OP's question with relevant concepts an links. μηδείς (talk) 17:44, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Describing something as "facile" is clearly engaging in debate. Referring to "the overreaction on the left" is clearly engaging in debate. Furthermore, the OP asked specific questions, and specific answers were given. Your post was clearly intended to broaden the discussion. This is inappropriate. AndyTheGrump (talk) 17:49, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Facile means overly easy. It very plainly is "over-easy" simply to deny there is anything scientific to say about race. I'll change the word to over-simplification. μηδείς (talk) 17:52, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
As you are well aware I'm sure, the word 'facile' has many shades of meaning. Guess which one I think most appropriate to your comment above... AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:04, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
I won't soil my PC by going to such a website; given its quoted rant about "anti-racist political correctness", it appears highly suspect. Science can enter into it for identifying race-specific or race-trending phenomena. An obvious example is sickle-cell anemia, which tends to be associated with certain African groups, and it can be a problem overall, but it's actually a localized, beneficial adaptation for resisting malaria. So when it comes to the specific trait of resisting malaria, the "Negroid" race might be superior to the others. But a site that yaps about "anti-racist PC" probably has its own conclusions on some sort of generalized racial superiority, which automatically makes such a site bogus, regardless of its alleged "sources". "Superiority" is in individuals, not in races. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:13, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
"Facile" means "easy to do",[16] which can be good or not so good, depending on the usage. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:16, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
I did , actually, in the meantime go there. The material that was listed on the initial page was quite unobjectionable. But I am not going to offer a blanket opinion or go elsewhere there, as even the devil can quote scripture. The OP would do best to learn and judge for himself rather than rely on blanket statements. μηδείς (talk) 20:28, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

request for opinions

Given his short odd editing history and apparent familiarity with ref desk controversies, I am curious if User: might be one of our sock puppets?

This question seems to be by the IP user.

But when you compare it with the one immediately before on the same page,

and this comment paralleling the IP user in the same thread,

it seems like the latter registered user is actually impersonating the IP!

I am fairly certain wickwack geolocates elsewhere, and this doesn't seem like timothyhere's modus operandi. But something weird is going on. μηδείς (talk) 00:46, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not seeing the connection, but I may be dense. -- Scray (talk) 01:20, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I might be wrong, since it doesn't really make sense. But we have the IP user 174 (who shows with his lecturing here at misc here he's not at all new to the ref desk) on the science desk asking a question about what part of the brain the consciousness is in, without signing in or signing his question. Then, after the science desk question is answered, we have a registered user explaining "I've pondered this for years, mostly in the form of worrying whether this part, if it exists, will be absorbed by a tree's roots after I die. I don't ever want to even be vaguely aware that I'm wood for the foreseeable future." Whether that registered user meant to impersonate the IP user is unclear. But the IP user status as a sockpuppet seems quite clear, given his edit history and immediate jump to criticisms that aren't justified in a newbie. The latter sounds like wickwack to me, but I am not familiar with him enough to know--maybe someone else sees a pattern or recognize a different candidate. μηδείς (talk) 01:57, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Accusations of socking are pretty serious, and I see no evidence that the IP address is disruptive or crossing any other bright line - so I don't see the point (unless you are accusing the registered user of being a sock of a banned/blocked user). I don't think this is a well-considered thread. -- Scray (talk) 02:11, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
It sounds vaguely like the guy who was asking about indirect cannibalism. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:24, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
That was Horatio Three Musketeers Snickers on the Misc desk. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:01, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand what is at issue here, I may be missing something obvious (I'll bet so:-) ). Would anyone mind explaining it to me?Phoenixia1177 (talk) 04:26, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
If anything, I would see the registered user's comment as "Yeh, I thought this too", rather than attempting to impersonate the IP. MChesterMC (talk) 14:54, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
That absolutely isn't me. I've only had this one account, and don't edit while logged out. Wouldn't have hurt to just ask me. InedibleHulk (talk) 01:34, August 16, 2013 (UTC)

Swiss Family Robinson (misc ref desk)

I'd like someone to tell me what was so horrible about whatever I said there that some admin felt it necessary to expunge it. Unless it fell victim to the same axe that chopped several other editors comments on different topics. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:31, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Seems pretty clear that your edit was intermediate with the ones in the section discussed above - my guess is that yours was caught up in the revdel. -- Scray (talk) 14:53, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes to be clear, from what I can tell (bearing in mind I'm not an admin) nothing BB said has been removed. Part of the edit history has been revdeleted which is a different thing. To be clear, if you want to delete an edit from a page, you need to remove all edits between when it was added and when it was removed, otherwise it will show up in intermediate edits, this is a normal part of the revdeletion process, has happened on the RD before and is not any indication there was anything wrong with the edits in between. It's true that in the event something harmless is added and later removed in between it will also be not visible to ordinary editors so will effectively be deleted or 'expunged', but this doesn't seem to have happened here and is not any indication the comment itself merited revdeletion simply that it was unavoidable. And in the event it was normal rev deletion (rather then with suppression i.e. oversight) you're welcome to ask an admin to provide a copy of your comment if it's really necessary. Sometimes there may be multiple edits which had to be removed, if that applies to your edits, an admin obviously won't be able to help. (Of course this clearly is not the case when your edits are still there.) As I said on ANI, I don't disagree with the removal of the comment, the reason I didn't do so is because I wasn't sure it was necessary however I should have noted it on ANI which would have brought more eyes on it. As a reminder, if you feel something does need revdeletion, it's always wise to quietly remove whatever merits revdeletion ASAP to reduce the number of other edits caught up as well as hopefully reducing exposure. Nil Einne (talk) 16:07, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Rogereeny. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:48, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Message for Wickwack/Ratbone/Keit

It looks like Wickwack may have been posting recently. Though it's hard to tell for sure, the recently hatted answers do sound a bit like him. Anyway, I have no idea why he chose to play sockpuppet games here, but I do also think he had a lot of good experience and info, and often did give good answers and references. So, if he's out there reading this, I'd like to personally invite him to get an account and join us again. (This is of course just my opinion. I'm not looking for debate, and this seemed like the surest way of reaching him.) SemanticMantis (talk) 15:06, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Until that time he is "officially back", I would suggest allowing him to answer questions like anyone else here, except that we don't give any of his posting the benefit of the doubt when there may be a problem with it; we just remove such postings. Count Iblis (talk) 15:45, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree, but as it stands now, as soon as an editor thinks an IP post is by WW (western AU, seems to know a bunch of physics/engineering), then they can remove for that reason alone. If the post is from him, he's not allowed to complain, and if it isn't him, then we've just disenfranchised an innocent IP editor... SemanticMantis (talk) 15:09, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that we should not remove postings just because they are likely from him. Count Iblis (talk) 15:26, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
The AN/I decision that was adopted stated, "The user known by the aliases Wickwack, Ratbone, Keit, Floda, who edits from a dynamic IP address, is indefinitely banned from contributing to discussions at Wikipedia:Reference deskand Wikipedia talk:Reference desk and all subpages thereof. They are banned regardless of whichever alias they use, or even if they stop using aliases altogether, whether it be one of the above, or another, enforceable by reverting their contributions to the above discussion pages." If a post is "likely from him", then it should be removed IMHO. Anyone can create an account. -- Scray (talk) 15:51, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

Personal attack restored

I'd like to know why anybody considers this personal attack[17] to be important enough to un-hide it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 07:48, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Well, I really didn't think Medeis' response was a terribly helpful one. It's highly unlikely that any of the suggestions in that response go close to what the OP was after, and I suspect that Medeis knew that to be the case. It was more what might be called in my country a smart-arse response. I'd suggest that the word stupidity was simply a simile for (deliberate) silliness in this case. Given that Medeis was probably trying to be silly, it's probably just as much a compliment as a personal attack. HiLo48 (talk) 08:15, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
I have a hard time coming up with a less derogatory term for Medeis' off-hand comment about Kant. A such, I think substantial truth applies. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 08:36, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
You could have been a lot more diplomatic than to say "stupid". I just don't think it's good to take shots like that at other editors in front of the OP. On the other hand, maybe I'm being too much of a mother hen. Medeis presumably can take care of him/her/itself. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:28, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
Just to avoid confusion: Neither did I make the statement, nor did I unhat it. Did you intend to reply to me? --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:19, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
No. Sorry for the confusion. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:18, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Had Tevildo explained his objection a link to criticism of Kant's "maxim" could have been provided. As it stood, I though he was upset by my use of the word cromulent. The fact that there are an infinite number of questions that can elicit any given response is both philosophically and linguistically significant. The example of the question to 42 in Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy is a bit silly, but few people would say that off hand of Noam Chomsky's work. μηδείς (talk) 17:24, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
As I shall do. My Lucas-Box meaning is that it was stupid of Medeis to post that particular reply to the question. It did not provide the OP with the information they requested, it introduced irrelevant material regarding Kant (without an adequate explanation), and was not particularly funny (assuming that to have been one of its intentions). My response was not intended to imply that Medeis is stupid - I apologise if it was interpreted in that way. I would also argue that my response did not violate the letter of WP:NPA, as I intended to direct my (admittedly intemperate) criticism at the content of the posting rather than the contributor. However, I concede that it may have violated the spirit of the rule. It has now been deleted - I hope the incident can be closed. For the avoidance of doubt, my opinion of Medeis' action in making the post is unchanged, and I would urge Medeis to refrain from making similar posts in future. Tevildo (talk) 18:41, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Removal of legitimate question on potentially controversial topic (homophobia)

User:Til Eulenspiegel has now thrice ([18], [19], [20]) removed a section where an editor asks for non-religious social or evolutionary explanations for homophobia. I think this question is fully within our guidelines. A cursory Google Scholar search seems to indicate at least a good potential for reliable sources. Now, the questioner expressed his surprise at the existence of homophobia, but we do not require our editors to completely bowdlerise their question to remove anything than can be construed as an actual opinion. In general, this may even be required context to understand the question. In general WP:AGF applies on the reference desk, too. If a question can be interpreted in a reasonable way, the editor should be given the benefit of the doubt. And in this particular case, it is not even close. It takes a lot of effort to misunderstand the question as a "request for debate [...] or advice".

On a second, somewhat independent point, I would also suggest that in cases where removal is appropriate, a clear and understandable reason for the removal should be given. "Read the guidelines" is not a good explanation. "Request for X, Y, or Z" is not a good explanation. Please be specific. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:37, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

The question is worded in a very POV manner, that is hard for someone who doesn't share his POV to wrap one's head around. It would be less inflammatory if the IP at least attempted a resemblance of neutral point of view. It is also a silly question verging on trolling about questions that are dividing recent public discourse. Yes, obviously many people can without difficulty come up with plenty of "non-religious social and evolutionary reasons" for why populations that practice homosexuality are selected against, and populations discouraging it have been selected for, on a global scale over the course of thousands of years...! Is someone now arguing that it is suddenly the other way around? Do you really want to go there? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:47, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Well, of course the editor in question has a point of view from which he asks his question. What do you expect? And no, I'm not here to debate the merits of the explanations (much less your factually plain wrong assumptions). I'm here to state that this topic is a legitimate topic and that there most likely exist good and scholarly sources that address the question - whether you or I or anybody else agrees with these sources is neither here nor there. And if you "cannot wrap your head around" the question, maybe you should apply WP:AGF and leave it alone. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:54, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Well, I removed it because it is inflammatory, disruptive and violates all of our guidelines about neutral point of view, not asking for opinions and debate. It is a far worse case of this than many other spurious questions I've seen removed from the same page. There are blogs on the internet for people who want to soapbox, engage in advocacy, and generally make themselves feel better by creating furious little semantic arguments for why nature works the opposite to the way nature works. Not wikipedia, it is used by all the public. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:01, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Seems like we are down to the "is" - "is not" level now. No, it's not violating "all our guidelines" - I'd say it violates not even one. "Nature" has, apparently, created homosexual tendencies in a large number of species that use sexual reproduction, so your comment seems to fly in the face of the evidence. But again, I have no interest to debate the merits of homosexuality or homophobia or even explanations of one or the other. However, I get the impression that you have a strong POV on these questions (not a problem) and that this motivates you to try to suppress a legitimate question (a big problem). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 13:20, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
We also have a new troll, User:Technoquat, who socks the Reference desk asking questions like "Why would anyone be opposed to diaper play?" and similar disgusting things. The Reference desk must not be turned into Freud's psychoanalyzing couch. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:33, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
If you think the IP is a sock, WP:SPI is available. Otherwise, this is not really addressing the case in question. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 13:40, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Stephan the question is legitimate and for which answers can be provided as he pointed out. For starters, I'd at least refer the OP to the article on homophobia and point to the social explanations given there. -Modocc (talk) 14:38, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Well, I suppose that's why he called it a "potentially controversial topic". The problem with those is any possible answer would be potentially opinionated, and we remove such questions routinely. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:50, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
We do, however, report relevant opinions on the matter. The OP's perspective regarding reasons stereotypes exist is not uncommon, and the no debate policy does not mean we shy away from researching controversies. --Modocc (talk) 14:56, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Are you kidding me? "Researching controversies" should be done on a blog. Anywhere but on wikipedia - WP:NOT. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:59, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
You misunderstand. Asking for possible explanations (referenced) is a part of researching topics. In other words, these boards are a tool for doing such research. --Modocc (talk) 15:03, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
The IP didn't really make it clear he was asking for references as opposed to opinions, especially after making his own opinion / point-of-view loud and clear! Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:07, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I'd agf it, and assume he/she is expecting references for any alternative nonreligious explanation or opinion from a reference board, instead of a debate? --Modocc (talk) 15:23, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Modocc and Stephan Shultz. There is nothing wrong with the question itself as a subject for the Ref Desk. The OP does not ask for opinions, so ours (including yours, Til Eulenspiegel) are not relevant. Homophobia does have some suggestions, with cites. Bielle (talk) 15:23, 12 August 2013 (UTC) There are 3 scholarly articles an one from the New York Times just on this simple search for "sources of homophobia". Bielle (talk) 15:32, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly that the question is legitimate -- in fact, it's one I've been wondering about, and thinking of asking, myself. I don't see anything inflammatory or disruptive about the question at all, unless one's homophobia is so virulent that to have it be doubted is uncomfortable (though this is, indeed, one of the interesting things about homophobia). Has the question been restored yet? I'm keen to read the answers. —Steve Summit (talk) 16:13, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Yep! Modocc restored it and it's being discussed now! Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:15, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I think a question can be "legitimate" and nevertheless benefit from a little clarification. Bus stop (talk) 16:17, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, despite all your false assurances and swearing up and down that this is a "legitimate question" and we are obliged to consider it on the "Reference" desk because it is an innocent "Request for references" and nothing more, what we got in the discussion was NOT *ONE* REFERENCE and instead a lot of conjecture, personal opinion, and armchair psychoanalysis from random wikipedia users. In many countries, the promotion of homosexuality is strictly illegal. But is is well known that homosexual activists in the west are filled with contempt for these governments and their legal systems, and have no respect whatsoever for their laws or their populations that are family based. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 11:39, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
I have rarely heard such an amount of bigoted crap in one paragraph. And I can only say that while I have a deep contempt for a logic that conflates "discussion of" and "promotion of", I have an even deeper contempt for a cowardly frame of mind that will deny others the right to freedom of speech, one of the greatest recognitions of modern civilisation. Also, of course, your claim is so obviously wrong that I have to wonder if your bigotry clouds your reading comprehension. I see references provided to Homophobia, to LGBT stereotypes, to group conflict and to stigmatization, not to mention a few that I personally find less apropos, but that others may find useful. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:42, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
  • This is the very sort of behavior that if tolerated, hijacks wikipedia and turns it into an Activist vehicle that caters only to the liberal lunatic fringe views of about 5% of the people in the world. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 11:43, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
  • This Reference Desk behaviour cannot be describes as "Neutral" by any pretense of the word. It is making NPOV in to a sham and a charade. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 11:44, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Don't ever judge the legitimacy of a question by the answers it has received. Judge it by our rules. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 11:44, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
There needs to be some serious change because the board is engaging in lunatic fringe activism that is and should be illegal in many nations where people still have family values. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 11:46, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
The question was seeking sourced explanations for homophobia but you are trying to stand between the OP and their legitimate curiosity on this subject. People are allowed to ask these sorts of questions. And others: Why do some people rape others? Why do some people murder others? Why do some people cheat on their spouses? Why do some people rob banks? Why do some parents neglect their children? There has been a great deal of research done about all of them, which we can and should make available to our OPs. Why would it be any different on this subject of homophobia? Just bypass the wordiness and go to the core of the question. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 12:00, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
The question was a loaded question, completely non-neutral opinion, seemed to be soliciting other opinions, which it got - but no "sourced explanations" - just as I'd forewarned. That's why such disruptive questions are often removed, and ought to be. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:07, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
The question was completely legitimate. I have often wondered the same things myself. It sought rational reasons for homophobia, and included "Religion aside, are there any social or evolutionary explanations?" Several early responses were full of bigotry, clearly based on religious dogma, despite claims they weren't. OK, those with those religious views won't see them as bigotry, but given the OP's explicit request to put religion aside, they should have just shut up and gone away. Even if such views weren't religiously based, they sure didn't show any rationality. It was "I hate gays, and I find it offensive that you dare to ask me why." It was an appalling example of turning an innocent, clear question into an ideological, irrational fight. Til Eulenspiegel clearly wasn't prepared to discuss anything rationally, and still isn't. HiLo48 (talk) 12:08, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
""They should have just shut up and gone away" - Are you for real? What planet are you living on? And directly quoting no-one in particular is a good way to demolish a strawman, but a poor example of actual logic. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:59, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I am "for real". You did not have a rational or non-religious response to contribute to and answer to the OP's question, as requested, so you really had nothing to offer. No point joining the discussion. HiLo48 (talk) 22:17, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Til Eulenspiegel: your concern is, I think, misplaced. The question was not, "Is homosexuality acceptable, or not?" The answers that are being offered are not suggesting that homosexuality is or is not acceptable. The question, and all the answers so far, have been focused on the question, "What are reasons for considering homosexuality unacceptable?" This is, to some of us at least, an interesting and legitimate line of inquiry, and pursuing it neither promotes nor denies the practice under discussion.
Are you afraid that if I mention homosexuality and fail to mention, in the same breath, "Not that there's anything wrong with that", that I'm a closet gay-basher? Or if I fail to mention how wrong I think homosexuality is, that I'm a closet promoter or a queer myself? —Steve Summit (talk) 13:38, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Let me put the question to you directly: what, precisely, is the "lunatic fringe activism" that you fear is underway? —Steve Summit (talk) 13:45, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
You know what, after further consideration, I have decided to voluntarily ban myself from the Reference desk. To me it is just a clone of Yahoo Answers, it may as well be a separate website since it has minimal effect on the serious parts of wikipedia. It's just useful as a pressure valve release for those who want to soapbox on wikipedia, while being a source of confrontation and offense for others. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:50, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
That's your choice. The OP's question was not well-stated, but it's answerable. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:13, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
If you're still reading this, Til Eulenspiegel, I would agree with you in one respect: Some of the answers this question attracted were inappropriate. I would have supported certain action being taken against those inappropriate answers. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and tar the question with the same brush as those answers.
They say it's unwise to discuss sex, politics or religion at a dinner party, because it tends to get too heated too quickly and noses get bent out of shape and friendships get ruined. That may or not be so, but the fact that heat routinely gets created is attributable to the lack of maturity or cool-headedness of the attendees, not somehow the fault of the topics themselves. For me, a dinner party that does not entertain discussions of sex, politics and religion, preferably all at the same time, is hardly worth attending. Practical demonstrations of each are also great attention-getters.
As for your "All opinions are welcome here except mine": That just demonstrates how irrational and unuseful your thinking is on this matter. Maybe a break would be the best. But come back before too long. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:42, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Avoiding "loaded questions"

I think perhaps we ought to figure out a way to spell out more clearly that questions of potential controversy ought not be phrased as "loaded questions". This would be in congruence with several other areas of wikipedia's message-boarding where NPOV is applied more stringently when asking for input. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:19, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

NPOV is not a matter for the Ref Desk questions at all that I can see. Sometimes we need to consider it in the way in which we treat the answers. It was clear that you did not like the POV of the question used in the example. Bielle (talk) 15:27, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
My, my, I am only advocating for NPOV policy, and you tell me to take my POV elsewhere! Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:30, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
NPOV applies to answers to questions, though perhaps "non judgmental" might be a better policy for Ref Desk answers. Removing the questions was an answer -both judgmental and POV. That's what I said already. Bielle (talk) 15:38, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I've been watching the humanities desk for a while, and it is not that uncommon for questions to end up getting removed that cross the line for reasons like stirring up argument / controversy among editors, asking for a response to one's opinion stated as fact, etc. I have even seen whole threads removed for that reason even after they had begun to accumulate responses. If we find a way to remind questioners not to ask loaded or judgmental questions in the first place and respect npov in the question, it will avoid more cases like that and also be more likely to draw NPOV answers. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:52, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Generally, the only questions we shouldn't address are legal and medical advice, questions by banned users, and questions that are fishing for opinion. Sometimes a questions comes up that is racist or stupid, and that possibly because the OP is racist or stupid. If the question has referenceable answers, it should be answered. For example, we had a question a while back about black people and fried chicken. I have no clue why that racist, I only know that, in the US at least, it is apparently a racist stereotype. Asking about why is a legitimate question. We had a debate whether it should have been, even though it clearly had loaded implications. Mingmingla (talk) 16:05, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

This is a pointless discussion until we can precisely define a loaded question. Til Eulenspiegel thought the homosexuality question was a loaded one I don't. His response was loaded, and did not address the obvious point of the question, and he is now attempting to wikilawyer his way around that guilt. HiLo48 (talk) 21:56, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

  • Til's correct. The problem is questions that come with a built-in-preimse, like, "Why does everybody think grebs spink so poorly?" It is not necessarily the case that even a majority of people think grebs spink poorly. Such questions should be removed and non-troll posers be advised to reformulate their questions before reposting. μηδείς (talk) 03:53, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Absolute rubbish. The OP's question may have been based the premise that homophobia is not rational. Are you saying that homophobia IS rational? HiLo48 (talk) 04:09, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, "Are you saying that homophobia IS rational?" is a perfect example of a loaded question. μηδείς (talk) 04:14, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
ROTFLMAO. You must be kidding. HiLo48 (talk) 04:17, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The correct response to ignorance is education - the very purpose of the entire Wikimedia Foundation. Chastising OPs for showing up (allegedly) ignorant and refusing to answer their questions is plain retarded. If the OP is an honest-to-goodness troll, he can be dealt with the same way trolls always have. Then again this conversation was pointless to begin with, since what Til is actually looking for is some new reference desk where he doesn't feel persecuted for being a colossal bigot. Someguy1221 (talk) 04:51, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
No idea what Medeis is on about, but Til Eulenspiegel's argument seemed to that homosexuality is illegal in some places, and some people have "family" values, whatever that euphemism means. (We're all part of families.) The problem is that those facts are not rational reasons to be homophobic. Perhaps another problem is that some editors don't know what rational means. HiLo48 (talk) 06:36, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Well, strictly (even rationally or logically) speaking, Eulenspiegel and Medeis are correct: it was a loaded question.
Go read the article. As it says, the classic "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is a loaded question because you can't answer it without admitting that (a) you have a wife whom (b) you have been beating. Similarly, "Homophobia seems baseless and defies rational explanation... Religion aside, are there any social or evolutionary explanations?" carries several implications, a few of them quite explicit:
  • Homophobia is baseless
  • Homophobia defies rational explanation
  • Homophobia is an irrational prejudice
  • The only explanations for homophobia are religious ones
  • Those religious explanations are therefore baseless, irrational, and/or prejudicial
Furthermore, baseless irrationality sounds like a bad thing, so there are at least two more pretty clear implications:
  • Anyone who believes, for religious reasons, that homosexuality is wrong, is wrong
  • Any religion that teaches that homosexuality is wrong, is wrong
So if someone comes along who does strongly believe, for religious reasons, that homosexuality is wrong, he and his religion have just been pretty badly insulted.
(After I realized this, I regretted putting Til Eulenspiegel on the spot so starkly with this edit, and would have retracted it, but by then it was too late.) —Steve Summit (talk) 09:57, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I think of a "loaded question" as any question that starts with one or more unverified assumptions. "Have you stopped beating your wife?" is only answerable "Yes" or "No" if the premises are valid. So when someone asks a loaded question, I sometimes respond this way: "Your premise is false." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:22, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if we're arguing about the word rational here. To my mind, it's obvious that religion isn't rational. That's not a negative about religion, but a fact. Religion depends on faith, not rational thought. And I'm not criticising those who have such faith. Do religious people find that idea offensive? I don't mean it to be offensive. To me it's just an obvious description of religion. The OP explicitly asked for religion to be left out of the discussion, yet it's obvious that religion drove several of the responses. That behaviour isn't rational, or reasonable, either. HiLo48 (talk) 11:59, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with HiLo48 here. I am not faithless, but I also know that rational thought would never lead me to faith, at least in my case. Rational here I believe to have been used in the classical, scientific reasoning sense. Mingmingla (talk) 14:39, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Beware of falling into the atheism dogma trap. The fact you personally can't figure something out doesn't make it false. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:52, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Or if you can't figure out why something is false, doesn't make it true. Atheism isn't necessarily black and white either (see the lede of the article on atheism, for which there are divergent meanings), and our answers need not be naive. As the homophobia article points out the word homophobia is contentious or "loaded" since the root -phobia means irrational fear, thus this entire business of false expectations regarding what is or isn't rational, or "loaded" or not, is a simplistic "yes or no" strawman. --Modocc (talk) 19:01, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The term "homophobia" is a politically-driven term, as it carries the assumption that any rejection of homosexual behavior is based on fear rather than reason. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:04, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Personally, I think it's accurate even if the word's meaning has broadened somewhat to include all discrimination against the LGBT community. Regardless of its origin or precise meaning, it's enshrined in our community's wp:NPA#WHATIS policy. -Modocc (talk) 22:56, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Plenty of incorrect usages are enshrined in the English language. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:48, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea what is intended by Bugs' double negative, nor Modocc's further expansion on it. Reminds me of the God of the gaps, and the multiple possible meanings of many Biblical passages, and those they contradict. I am convinced that the OP's question was an innocent one, not intended to offend anyone, and that the offence taken is by far the worst behaviour here. As for Modocc playing the phobia=irrational fear card, that never helps HiLo48 (talk) 19:10, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Not at all. It's not the meaning of irrational that is being misunderstood, but the meaning of phobias! --Modocc (talk) 19:18, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Absolute bullshit. Homophobia IS NOT a phobia. Those who resort to the game of roots have lost the argument. HiLo48 (talk) 02:10, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Do you need another ANI, HiLo? Ironic you complain about roots while cursing and screaming. μηδείς (talk) 02:14, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I see no irony. I see an appalling and unacceptable approach to discussion from Modocc. That's far less civil than any word that you suggest might offend somebody but is quite common where I come from. Glad it got your attention though. Now, care to address the topic, rather than me? HiLo48 (talk) 03:32, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
My primary point, HiLo, is that your hyperfine attention to what constitutes rationality gives too much credence to the crux of Til's "loaded question" argument, but this argument is completely irrelevant. The rationality of "loaded questions" about religion (which is a huge set of various beliefs, some more rational than others), theism, atheism or homophobia are largely irrelevant to this discussion. Note that I only said the meaning of the word can be contentious, which it is, by those who believe their discriminatory actions are rational even should they not be. -Modocc (talk) 03:25, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
The basic point here is that the OP explicitly asked that religion not play any part in responses, but the religious bigots simply couldn't help themselves. HiLo48 (talk) 03:32, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
He only wanted to hear from anti-religious bigots? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:03, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I strongly object to censoring questions or answers simply because they are irrational, involve controversies, or might assume falsehoods. Average people, with whatever skill base they have, think about and ask about dumb things just about all the bloody time. Since anyone can edit, we don't turn away idiots, unless they cause substantial disruptions per wp:competence. But it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between constructive rational discussion and the repeated heated debates of irrational trolling, thus potentially disruptive questions and answers need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis only. Modocc (talk) 20:00, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
A typical zap-it-immediately type of question is, "Why are all black people inherently criminals?" ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:04, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Certainly. But it's not merely a load of rubbish, but a derogatory attack that violates wp:NPA#WHATIS. --Modocc (talk) 20:29, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Then you do believe in censoring questions, sometimes. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:30, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I never said I didn't, unless you skipped over the meaning of my words "...simply because...". I also do not object to removing or hatting posts which are completely incomprehensible or posted by banned users. -Modocc (talk) 22:56, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Oddly enough, the premise I posed above is dripping in ignorance, but it's not a personal attack as such. Calling another editor's comments stupid or nonsensical, or other terms that appear on the desk sometimes, does constitute a personal attack. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:46, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
It is not a personal attack and we don't need to be insisting that invitations to debate like that need some sort of extra reason to be hatted. μηδείς (talk) 01:59, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree that calling another editor's comments stupid or nonsensical is not a personal attack. A personal attack, by definition, is an attack on a person. A person's works are not the person. Calling an editor stupid etc is of course a personal attack. Calling their comments or contributions stupid is a comment on their words, not on them personally. We ban personal attacks, not attacks on contributions; but we encourage civility at all times. Wikipedia is of course a highly critical environment; it has to be to ensure we're aiming for quality, accuracy and balance. But the criticisms should always be confined to edits and never directed to their makers. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:42, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
All we have here are our words. If you call my words stupid or nonsensical, it's personal. If you say I got it wrong, that's not personal. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:04, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I have a question. Don't some people honestly believe that black people are inherently criminal? Don't those people teach that "fact" to their children?
How are you distinguishing a question from that hypothetical child from one from a hypothetical troll? APL (talk) 02:57, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
We can't. Banning innocent questions because they offend some people's sensitivities is not a good idea. Alleging trolling needs far better evidence than has been presented in this case. HiLo48 (talk) 03:24, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
We are not here to teach kids how to be civil. That is for parents and the courts. We zap incivility towards others whether they be directed at individuals or groups and no matter whether its a child or adult spewing it. --Modocc (talk) 04:04, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I was expecting you guys to at least read the first few sentences of wp:NPA#WHATIS, if you hadn't yet read it, to find the relevant text that completely and unambiguously supports the removal of Bug's example of zap-able incivility. --Modocc (talk) 03:25, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Not really interested. It's going a long way off-topic. HiLo48 (talk) 03:35, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
"Racial, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ageist, religious, political, ethnic, national, sexual, or other epithets (such as against people with disabilities) directed against another contributor, or against a group of contributors"[the emphasis is mine]. --Modocc (talk) 03:50, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Not really interested. It's going a long way off-topic. HiLo48 (talk) 03:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Not really. --Modocc (talk) 04:07, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it's obvious that that policy would support an immediate removal of that question. And, I'm sure there are ways I could reword it to make it sound acceptable, but be asking the same question. I don't see the issue in answering a question just because it is worded "offensively". Who would get to decide what is offensive/racist/objectionable/etc. by the way? It's not like there's some standard except in the extremely obvious cases.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 04:23, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm going to repeat something I posted above, but which is already buried. The OP explicitly asked that religion not play any part in responses, but the religious bigots simply couldn't help themselves. Even if those religious folk don't see it as bigotry, why on earth did they respond at all? HiLo48 (talk) 04:34, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Religion is a subset of culture and a subject within sociology, so it should be no surprise that its ideology is discussed. I do not see anyone actually advocating it though. --Modocc (talk) 04:55, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Nor did I suggest that they did!!!!!!! I am having serious doubts about your ability to carry on a coherent conversation. And why should religion even be used in answering a question when the questioner explicitly asked that it not be? I find it quite uncivil of those editors to have done so, far more uncivil than the shocking word I used above that so upset Medeis. HiLo48 (talk) 05:44, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Again, religion is a large part of the social explanation, like it or not. The OP does not necessarily always get exactly what they ask for either, but should respect the thoughtful contributions of others. -Modocc (talk) 05:57, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Respect goes both ways, though. I support HiLo's point in that, if the OP has explicitly asked that answer NOT be based on religion (or whatever), and an editor has an answer they feel they must give, but it is based on religion, they should at least acknowledge the OP asked that such answers not be provided, and explain why they feel it's important anyway. So often, OPs' requests are just ignored, and that is lack of respect. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:24, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
The OP explicitly asked for nonreligious explanations, but in doing so, he didn't banish them altogether, and in many ways, religion is the end result of social conflict so the comments on religion tie in with that. Thus he got a bit more than he bargained for perhaps (and a slew of comments about uncleanliness, and procreation and such). None of the posts were uncivil or unimportant. --Modocc (talk) 07:19, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I still call it uncivil. Calling it "a bit more than he bargained for" is excusing poor manners. HiLo48 (talk) 08:04, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Phoenixia1177, I seriously doubt that the racist question, or anything like it would last two seconds on the board and we most would agree it was removable (perhaps sending some troll into continuous fits of rage, but its hardly worth feeding them). Contributors will be discussing the fine-tooth particulars of the alleged incivilities here when needed. --Modocc (talk) 04:39, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I doubt it would survive, and I doubt that the person asking it would have perfectly innocent intentions. On the other hand, "I watched a documentary on racism, someone in it said, all blacks are inherently criminal, where did they get this idea?", wouldn't cause nearly as much issue. Both questions are, essentially, asking the same thing. My issue isn't that the original question wouldn't get a pass, my issue is that it wouldn't get a pass not because of content, but because it is "obviously trolling". I don't like that someone just gets to decide this, I've seen things here removed and called "obvious trolling" that were definitely not "obvious", I think removal on the sole grounds that an editor finds something "obviously offensive" is problematic. I admit that I did not word my original point so well, I apologize if it sounds like I was arguing something else, or just being contentious.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:05, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Occasionally questions which were removed have been put back too, with the consensuses that were formed, so its sometimes best to discuss borderline cases, although there isn't always differing opinions as to what needs to be done. What is obvious to some might not be to others so constructive rationales and discussion can help with that. Of course, polite discussion about incivilities does differ from the acts themselves. -Modocc (talk) 05:38, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
My point is that if a question can be answered/responded to, what does it matter if the question itself is offensive? I can see objecting to aspects that are not pertinent to the question, like if "blacks" was replaced with a racial slur; but, as long as a question isn't disrupting the desks, I don't see why it can't be answered. Now, if someone asks a question, then returns and responds by escalating the situation, I understand shutting it down (going with the question at hand, if the asker returned to argue using slurs and links to posts, that's stupid and should get shut down.) But, since blacks are not inherently criminal, the question can quickly be put to rest; it's not like we have to agree with the assumption in the question to respond to it, nor would the answers bear it out.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 06:28, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Your two questions are not the same though. One is polite the other is not. One gets removed (obviously), the other doesn't. See the difference? --Modocc (talk) 06:46, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Which is my point. I don't see why "polite" matters. There's definitely such a thing as being actively offensive (racial slurs in place of blacks), but being passively offensive seems a bad criterion to remove things. Personally, I don't find "why are blacks inherently criminal" that far from "Why are people in the middle east engaging in so much terrorism?" and "Why are there so many religious wars?". These might get removed, but while I find them equally as problematic, I doubt everybody would agree. Which is my entire problem, there is no standard to decide "polite" compared to "misinformed"; and, unlike a forum, there is no set of moderators whose task is to decide.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 07:28, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I've huge volumes of history texts on which every page is replete with different conflicts and wars. The numbers are staggering and the causes are many. As for conflict here, we settle that with wp:consensus and policies. Its been interesting, but I've got to go. Later, Modocc (talk) 07:55, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't exactly follow, are you saying that wp:consensus is the answer for who gets to decide? That wasn't really the central issue I was trying to raise, more something connected on the side. I apologize, I'm probably mangling what I'm getting at, so I'll just stop, I'm sure someone more eloquent will say something close to the point at some future point (I'm long winded and bad with words at time, even now I'm obscuring my point about obscuring points:-) ). On an aside, was your final sentence meant to convey dismissiveness or politeness; I'm asking since I genuinely have difficulties telling sometimes, no fault to you.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 08:08, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I needed sleep and wasn't sure when I'd be back. wp:consensus explains the process of how collaborative decisions are reached. -Modocc (talk) 14:22, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for clearing that up:-)Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:56, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

Did the Nazis

... indulge in wordy speculation, tangential anecdotes and chitchat on a gruesome though legitimate Humanities RD query? I considered leaving a note on User:InedibleHulk's talk page, but thought perhaps I'm being overly sensitive - not because of Holocaust content per se but because it's my professional field of expertise. I'm always appreciative of others who respond helpfully to these queries, and now I use the sending "thanks" feature for particular edits -- not as the OP but rather an overextended working mom who can't always take the time to field questions properly. To keep the Ref desks functioning smoothly, I'd rather the chatty and jokey responses be put between a pair of <small> and </small> HTML tags - I do this myself - AND kept to a minimum, perhaps proportional to the topic. In the present instance we have one respondent in Forum mode. How, if at all, do you advise proceeding on this? Thanks -- Deborahjay (talk) 16:37, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

First, you can explain whether you're trying to compare me to a Nazi in your opening sentence. I don't mind if you are, just curious. I didn't intend anything as a joke, and only "chitchatted" insofar as replying to comments with answers pertaining to the efficiency of trying to stuff a healthy, fearful person into a frightful container. If you insist, just tell me which parts you'd like to see in a smaller font, and I'll get on it. InedibleHulk (talk) 16:51, August 15, 2013 (UTC)
There's no comparison here: the Nazis (particularly the SS) carried out mass slaughter of civilian populations with ruthless efficiency, but research tells us they were the regular types of people in terms of social behavior. What's required on the Ref Desk are content-oriented responses based on either knowledge or searching for relevant material. It appeared to me that the quality and quantity of your responses were unsuitable for what we're trying to do here - but I'm asking my peers on this page whether I'm perhaps not objective and your responses were within the scope of acceptable, before I'd address you on your User talk page with my subjective objections. And kindly reread my description (first line, in italics) - I didn't consider anything your wrote as a joke, but rather obvious and excessive relative to the context.-- Deborahjay (talk) 17:29, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I read your first sentence. It was the basis of my first sentence. Now that you've confirmed the italics were about me, phrasing it as "Did the Nazis...?" looks even more like a comparison. Still fine by me, just saying this in a "Question resolved" way. But now I have a second. To which responses were you referring as "chatty and jokey", if not mine? I already put actual jokes and side-comments in small, by the way, if I consider them as that. InedibleHulk (talk) 18:34, August 15, 2013 (UTC)
Me, I'd say Deborahjay's introduction of the issue here was a bit awkward. That aside, though: to me, the first mention of "upset cats into non-flaming carriers and upset children into non-flaming cars"[21] was on-topic and appropriate, but the repeated harping on that point[22] was definitely not. This is, of course, an incredibly sensitive topic, absolutely not one to treated carelessly or callously. —Steve Summit (talk) 19:13, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Sorry if I hurt any feelings, and yes, I can see how it might be seen as repeated harping. But they were actually separate, new allegorical points, albeit in the same cat-catching vein. The first was to illustrate how common cases where a task is easy can't be given the same weight as the majority of cases where it is difficult, in determining efficiency. The second showed that, while attaining a difficult goal is possible, it is not practical to attempt it frequently.
A question of whether something happened is easier to answer with hard facts, and was done well by others. But efficiency is not so black and white, and drawing parallels with somewhat similar examples is useful. I thought, anyway. I'll try to err on the side of caution with touchy subjects from here on. InedibleHulk (talk) 19:25, August 15, 2013 (UTC)

Closed section reporting possible sexual assault

I closed this section [23] as there's nothing more we can really do for the OP and history has shown there is a risk leaving such sections open leaves them prone to bad advice or simple trolling. I've also informed someone at the WMF so they can decide whether there's anything for them to do. Nil Einne (talk) 16:50, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Yep - I agree. The simple advice to seek a parent or teacher is really the best we can give in a difficult situation - further discussion would not add anything useful - and there is a real concern that an ongoing thread would only dilute that vital information or delay our OP from implementing it. SteveBaker (talk) 20:37, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I got an admin from ANI to redact it. μηδείς (talk) 04:27, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Should anyone delicately mention to the first responding editor that such cases need to be brought to WMF attention or immediately to an admin. Not sure if such is really needed but I believe the editor to be very interested in understanding what needs to be done in these situations and perhaps is even unaware of the outcome here.--Mark Just ask! WER TEA DR/N 04:32, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
The WMF is now aware. And yes, it needs to be brought to WMF attention, except in the most obvious cases of trolling. The appropriate contact is emergency AT wikimedia DOT org. Someguy1221 (talk) 08:21, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
I've pointed User:Miss Bono to this discussion although her? talk page suggests she's currently sick. She has indicated in the past her internet access is highly limited although it sounds like she does have access to email. BTW the thread to check out if you can't remember what to do is WP:EMERGENCY Nil Einne (talk) 09:40, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Just one point for future reference: Those editors who happen to have read the thread before it was redacted have something to talk about, but others are completely out of the loop and can play no meaningful part in this discussion. Not a big fan of closed shops, myself. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:56, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
To be clear, I would not have opened this thread if I thought it was likely to be revdeleted. You're right that this thread serves little purpose now that it has. Nil Einne (talk) 16:05, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
The redaction caused a serious problem in the history page, making it pretty much unusable for that date to track changes anywhere on the Miscellaneous page. What was there that made redaction necessary, as opposed to just removing it or collapsing it ? Full names of the people involved ? Addresses ? Phone numbers ? If nothing like this was in there, then the redaction was an over-reaction. StuRat (talk) 10:42, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
According to the administrator discussion they wanted to remove the IP address of the original poster. (talk) 10:49, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
To Jack, above, there's basically "nothing to see here". The thread title above gives the basic subject matter, and the comments here and at the ANI, as well as the policy I mentioned as being a guide for my going to ANI give the motivations for the actions that were taken. No editors have been notified anywhere that they were the subject of discussion, so you can assume there was no huge controversy involving any editor, or really any concern except regarding the one IP editor whose address was eventually expunged. Of course one's curiosity is aroused if one comes on something like this after the fact. But its' one of those things we all have to accept once in a while. :) μηδείς (talk) 21:27, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes', I' suppose' it' is'. Thanks'. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:46, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Nil Einne I don't understand why am I here in this discussion? Can someone explain? I've been off for two days and I know nothing about what's going on. Miss Bono [zootalk] 12:04, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
The reason I directed you here is because if I'm remembering correctly, you were the first person to respond to the topic being discussed of the now deleted post where someone reported possible sexual abuse of a minor, where you asked what the question was. While this was a harmless response and it's true there was no clear question, it's considered best when a young person reports possible sexual or other abuse, as discussed in this thread to treat it similar to the way mentioned as WP:EMERGENCY namely notify someone at the WMF and delete the original comment to avoid unhelpful responses and then quietly ask for revdeletion of the original comment. (Of course also treat genuine emergencies like suicidal impulses or threats of violence, the same.) Athough it's better if it's kept quiet, if you are unsure of what to do or if the comment is serious enough to need attention, you are welcome to bring it to WP:ANI or alternatively to an active admin or experienced editor. Someone suggested above you may be interested in knowing the outcome but may not be aware of this thread so I directed you here. Apologies if you didn't understand the purpose, there's no suggestion you did anything wrong. Nil Einne (talk) 15:52, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Nil Einne. I didn't know that question was going to cause all this. I hope the girl is fine. So, when I see something like this I should go to WP:ANI and report it? Miss Bono [zootalk] 13:49, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
User:Miss Bono, yes, alternatively you can follow the process outlined at WP:EMERGENCY if you believe it warrants it but reporting to ANi is a good step if you are unsure or unsure how or unable to follow the process. Nil Einne (talk) 00:38, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

Here we go again

So we have this, which is testy and patronising, but is at least on topic and contains the kernel of a suggestion as to how the OP can find the answer he's looking for. And then we get this, an unnecessary and offensive piece of goading from someone who hasn't been involved with the thread and doesn't address the OP's question but can't resist a cheap sexist jibe. Both these contributors are capable of offering answers that don't make the RefDesks look like a school playground or provide ammo for those who would love to scrap them altogether. Please, please, no more. - Karenjc 10:02, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

My little joke was a followup to the OP's own statement "Wow aren't you just hostile?" The punch line to my joke was going to be something about the phase of the moon rather than whatever you're thinking about. It be eclipsed now - gone to a stateless funeral. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:16, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Given no such conflict exists I have removed what amounts to a non-neutral comment suggesting it does from the header. μηδείς (talk) 19:02, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
That's fine by me. And thank you both for the removal of the little moon joke that wasn't meant offensively, and the non-escalation of the conflict that doesn't exist. I enjoy watching both of you use your not-inconsiderable powers for good. - Karenjc 22:00, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

wholesale deletion

This edit was deleted wholesale by a longtime user. I have no opinion one way or the other on the edit--but aren't we supposed to mention deletions here, since they don't leave traces or signatures unless you search the edit summaries? μηδείς (talk) 22:01, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

Junk like that is subject to removal, but it's also good to report it here in case there are opinions as to whether it was an appropriate question or not. In this case, I think not. Not just because it's trolling, because it would fairly tough to provide a valid answer. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:49, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
I think it could be a valid question (although unlikely) - and, from the way the question was stated, I would answer that homo/heterosexuality is attraction to people of a given sex, not to a particular sex act, and that someone may be sexually attracted to representatives of their own sex but actually dislike the sex act that the particular biological setup makes possible (e.g. be a dude, find dudes hot, find anal sex icky or unpleasant) Effovex (talk) 01:12, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
I tend to agree with that; I'm not saying it can't be trolling, but the question itself isn't absurd. The following pages could have been provided, they're all quit topical: Men who have sex with men, Situational sexual behavior, Heteroflexibility, Latent homosexuality, Innate bisexuality, Romantic orientation.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 08:57, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
So, is there any reason this question is deleted? Whatever the intent, it could just as easily be a legit question, and it can be answered. Sexual based questions are allowed, there's no asking for medical/legal advice, nor is the person asking for advice on their relationship; moreover, I don't see anything offensive in it. Does anyone have a reason not to restore it?Phoenixia1177 (talk) 07:18, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
I have no problem with this being restored. Of course the IP OP's only ever asked one question, and would likely overlook the effort. μηδείς (talk) 02:50, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
That's a good point, I imagine there's little point. I guess, unless someone really thinks there is one, might as well just let it rest:-)Phoenixia1177 (talk) 07:12, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
I think what would have been better, if necessary, was hatting. The OP could have contested and others could still have provided answers like the Paglia comment. μηδείς (talk) 18:51, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
What are the help desk guidelines regarding hatting? And, in semi-related news, this was deleted earlier today, although I don't think that particular revert should be controversial. Effovex (talk) 20:55, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
This was discussed within the last year or so, and the consensus as I understood it was that one could sign a hatting, but that a deletion required a notice on the talk page. There was no RfC, I cannot remember a heading, and it is not a set policy I am aware of. Things that fall under BLP and personal attacks don't really require discussion, however, and BLP says to remove possible defamation boldly. μηδείς (talk) 21:58, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Reference Desk Article Collaboration

Editors may be interested in Wikipedia:WikiProject Reference Desk Article Collaboration (WP:RDAC). Theoretically, it is possible for an editor to work exclusively on using active and archived Reference desk discussions to start Wikipedia articles and to improve existing ones. There is a large amount of information in the archived discussions.
Wavelength (talk) 18:08, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Rather than request there, could we make/get a template to tag certain questions with as they come up on the ref desk? That way we could alert the readers of the week to help with articles pertinent to question answers, without readers having to check a different place. I do sometimes make edits to articles that I link, or that others do, but it would be nice to have an easy and uniform way to invite others or follow their leads. SemanticMantis (talk) 01:50, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 May 1#No article on sleeping positions? has the tag "{{Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 May 1}}". Talk:Sleeping positions has the tag "{{WikiProject Reference Desk Article Collaboration}}". Wikipedia:WikiProject Reference Desk Article Collaboration#Templates has templates for use after articles have been started or improved.
Wavelength (talk) 15:03, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I guess I didn't know about that. So, I should just tag questions with {{WPRDAC attention| (article_name)}} ? I'll keep that in mind, and use it in the future. SemanticMantis (talk) 18:30, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
It seems to me that we are encouraged to do so.
Wavelength (talk) 23:05, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with SemanticMantis, I think tagging would get a lot more responses. It may just be my perception, but I get the impression that a lot of the refdesk answerers aren't as active in article space (I may be way off here) and that most askers don't either (this, I'm guessing, is more on the mark.) Thus, without some more immediate link, I'd wager many won't end up there.Phoenixia1177 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 07:15, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Come and join The Wikipedia Library

The Wikipedia Library is an open research hub, a place for organizing our amazing community of research and reference experts to collaborate and help improve the encyclopedia.

We are working together towards 5 big goals:

Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
Build relationships among our community of editors, libraries, and librarians
Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
Promote broader open access in publishing and research

Sign up to receive announcements and news about resource donations and partnerships: Sign up
Come and create your profile, and see how we can leverage your talent, expertise, and dedication: Join in

-Hope to see you there, Ocaasi t | c 14:59, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

"Partner (vi)"? "Leverage (vt)"? I thought we were supposed to be a non-commercial organization. Tevildo (talk) 16:58, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
...and using encyclopedic language, not marcom buzzwords (which is itself a buzzword, I suppose..)! -- Deborahjay (talk) 17:47, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
"MARCOMS" actually means something? I've learnt something new today - thanks. :) Tevildo (talk) 17:55, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
The expression "marcom" is
Wavelength (talk) 18:08, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
Nor marklar. μηδείς (talk) 19:18, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Medical advice box

Medical advice is the topic at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine#Medical advice box (version of 23:30, 25 August 2013).
Wavelength (talk) 00:28, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

Our previous discussions have tended towards the opinion that "Please seek a real-world medical professional" would count as medical advice, but I personally don't have a problem with us using that template in place of a generic hatting. Tevildo (talk) 21:01, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
Don't we usually prefer a wording that says you should seek a medical professional "if you're concerned", that way we're not implying that we've carefully considered their questions and decided that they need to see a doctor. APL (talk) 22:27, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
The wording with the conditional clause seems to be better, but there is no conditional clause in Template:Medical advice as it is now.
Wavelength (talk) 03:14, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

effovex wickwack?

This user, User:Effovex has a full half dozen edits to his name, all this month, but also has detailed complaints about existing editors going back to May and before. Read the user's contributions, and his attack here on a comment that HiLO made months before this sock existed. I am in favor of simply reverting his edits, as even if he's not wickwack he's obviously a trolling sock with such attacks and concern for things that happened before he existed. μηδείς (talk) 19:27, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

I was editing as an IP address until somebody from my workplace got the IP banned for vandalism. I work at a call center where most websites are blocked and I can go for hours without getting a call, so I spend a LOT of time reading Wikipedia as well as the ref desk and INTC (although I've never posted there). I mostly lurk since I can't give references other than wikipedia, and I do try to avoid frivolous conversation. I do think HiLo's "wrestling is fake" schtick is childish, and his vehemence in the INTC thread made enough of an impression on me that I recognized it when he added a completely useless comment to InedibleHulk's question. I should have resisted posting as uselessly commenting on someone's useless comment is only compounding the problem, but I'm surprised that anyone would defend his behaviour, or think me the more trollish of the tow. Effovex (talk) 20:00, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
Maybe you'd like to tell us that IP address so we can see all the good work that you've done that wasn't lurking and attacking HiLo? μηδείς (talk) 20:06, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
No need to make this the Spanish Inquisition. He's given a more than reasonable explanation. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:15, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
No, he hasn't done anything of the sort. You cannot claim that the proof of your innocence exists, but refuse to present it. Well, you can, but then that "proof" is entirely worthless. Maybe you can explain, Jack, why a registered user from August 7 has decided to attack posts from an actual user from May of this year, claiming he was an IP user back then, while no IP edits occur on that thread? Do you have records, Jack, of edits you didn't reply to at the time, made by editors predating your existence? This is obvious bullshit, and there's no reason to defend it. μηδείς (talk) 20:43, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
You're taking entirely the wrong attitude here.
  • Where there is objective evidence that a user is a sockpuppet or troll, we can take action.
  • But where there is merely subjective suspicion in the mind of one other editor - and that's all we have here - that is not grounds for putting the user on trial.
  • Nor is it grounds to act as if they're somehow guilty until proven innocent. You've raised the issue, and the user has responded with a reasonable explanation. You have no right to continue to demand proof of anything. Not without violently violating AGF, anyway.
  • This is not about me defending sockpuppets, so please do not re-cast my comments in that light. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:05, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
It's the sockpuppet himself who has claimed he has trolled (i.e., lurked) before he created this account, and that he used to edit as an IP user, presumably according to the rules. That claim places the burden on him to show how he editted according to the rules. If he doesn't want to defend it he goes back to being a sophisticated sockpuppet whose third edit under this account was a sophisticated attack on HiLO with a diff provided. I cannot imagine it is so different in Australia that you are ignorant of the fact that by making a positive defense you have assumed the burden of proof upon yourself, Jack. At this point our sock says he never had a previous user name, yet he has kept track of HiLO's edits. That makes him a troll, a sockpuppet, and a stalker, all at his own personal admission, with no evidence to the contrary. μηδείς (talk) 21:19, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for so readily acceding to my request not to make me Sockpuppet-Defender-General. I read his reference to "lurk"ing as doing what I and many others do all the time: that is, read other edits and follow other conversations without necessarily getting involved ourselves. I think even your sense of humour can stretch to someone calling that "lurking" without reading into it any admission of guilt about anything. Why, I myself came out about this very practice not a month ago. My shoulders are delightfully free of any burden, thanks all the same.
As for not having a previous user name, there's nothing extraordinary about that. There's a natural order to these things: (a) editing as an unregistered IP; (b) editing with a redlink user name; (c) editing with a bluelink user name. This editor has now advanced to stage (b), and may one day create a user page and get to stage (c). But it's the same human being in all these incarnations, and most of us have what we call memories. Failing that, we can take what are called notes, or use what is called the Copy function to record what is called stuff. It is not only registered users that are able, or permitted, to do that.
It was OK to raise this issue initially. But now you're going too far. Please just drop it. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:56, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
There's nothing for me to drop. The publicly available evidence matches my comments exactly. His third edit ever is a rant against someone in a thread that took place three months before Effofvex was an editor, unless he was also socking in that thread. Effovex could have refused to answer. The moment he does claim there is some sort of positive evidence he is innocent, the burden lies upon him to provide the evidence, se affirmative defense. Otherwise his statement has no merit. μηδείς (talk) 00:06, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
You need to re-read his response. He used to share a workplace IP address and all his earlier edits are by definition unidentifiable. An examination of that IP's activity here could well bring up edits by different people using the same IP address, that have precisely zero to do with the person we now call User:Effovex. He only became known to us when he registered the user name Effovex, but he existed as an actual user before then, and he thus has a somewhat longer actual Wikipedia history than the records of User:Effovex would indicate. If you doubt his statement about this, you would need to explain why you are ignoring WP:AGF, if adherence to the rules is your driving principle here. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 00:23, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Things got pretty crazy here and I haven't had much time to answer, but I'm starting to feel bad for Jack. Medeis, you may remember this question: Help with a French translation. I'm both the IP 64 (which is my work IP, and is verifiably blocked from editing) and IP 198 with which you agreed. My work IP got blocked while I was on vacation, which is why I wasn't around the help desk for a while then (and then it took me a while to get around to creating an account). My first edit was on April 30th. Most edits afterwards are mine, but a few are from other people. Apparently I did post once on ITNC (I had forgotten, but I remember that edit now). The edits on July 17th and later are not mine. Thank you Jack for being a reasonable person, by the way. Effovex (talk) 01:22, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Just the way I'm made. :) -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:28, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Hey all. Just noticed this thread with me as part of the content. I can contribute a bit. Firstly, Effovex is clearly not wickwack. Far too many differences. Dunno where you ever got that idea Medeis. Secondly, re the pro-wrestling thing, it just strikes me as weird that, despite constant claims that they know it's all made up, the fans still write about this stuff as if it's all very real. I have no issue with them enjoying it as pure entertainment, but as a serious encyclopaedia we must never harbour any suggestion that there is anything real in the story lines. Thirdly, like Jack, I believe Effovex's story about his background. Makes sense to me. So, having now said my piece, I'll retire again. Carry on. HiLo48 (talk) 12:04, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Pro wrestling is strictly "theater". Even the folks who run it acknowledge that. It's "real" in the sense that guys get hurt now and then, sometimes severely. But the results tend to be pre-determined. I recall an A&E Biography about Andre the Giant, who literally could not be beaten by any conventional means. But he wanted to retire, so the promoters arranged to have him take a reasonably convincing dive so that he didn't have to wrestle anymore. And then there's Hulk Hogan, whose career purposely went from good guy to bad guy and then back to good guy again. And this is hardly anything new. In a 1951 episode of Superman whose focus was on pro wrestling, the good guys' promoter comments, "It'll be a new sensation! Honest wrestling!" ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:22, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if Medeis will now be issuing any sort of apology or retraction for having referred to Effovex in terms such as:
  • "even if he's not wickwack he's obviously a trolling sock"
  • Effovex's first explanation was "obvious bullshit, and there's no reason to defend it"; and
  • "at this point our sock says he never had a previous user name, yet he has kept track of HiLO's edits. That makes him a troll, a sockpuppet, and a stalker, all at his own personal admission, with no evidence to the contrary".
We'll see. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 19:42, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Apology for what? Having asked whether the sock belongs to the wrong sockmaster? You seem to have quoted me accurately. μηδείς (talk) 20:45, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm not asking for one, but if someone else gets one, I'm going to feel slighted. And then I'll probably want an apology for that. But not for the "impersonating an IP" thing. An explanation of how you came to that idea would be cool, though. Also, what then made whether I was or not "unclear"?
And yes, the rule about disqualifications is just like the rule about Superman being allowed to fly. I still have no idea what I said to suggest I thought wrestling was "real", but I apologize to HiLo48 for the apparent confusion and/or insult. InedibleHulk (talk) 22:27, August 18, 2013 (UTC)
Speaking of Wickwack, it appears they're back. Their comment seems important enough to the discussion I'll let it stand provided that's it, but others are free to enforce the topic ban if they desire. Nil Einne (talk) 05:17, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
While I tolerated their responses highly important to the subject, they've started to go in to less important issues and to other areas so I've now removed their more recent responses. Nil Einne (talk) 08:27, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Just a Curiosity About the "No Medical Advice" Policy

If someone asked on the computer desk for the address of an open to the public answers site that would give them medical advice, but didn't include anything about their condition/other such details, would it violate our policy to answer it? I realize that this is not likely to happen, it just crossed my mind driving the other day and I couldn't think of a better way to get an answer than to just ask. I realize that the medical policy seems to provoke arguments, I'm not looking to question aspects of it, this is just the result of idle curiosity.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 07:10, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

This would fall outside the remit of the Medical Advice policy. We can answer it without diagnosing, giving prognoses or offering treatment options. There is no policy that prevents us answering this, nor should there be IMO. (talk) 13:16, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with 163.202, with the caveat that the answer shouldn't be more specific than the question. For example, if a user asks about where he can find out about some headaches he's been having, it would not be appropriate for us to direct him to a forum about brain tumors. Because then we've diagnosed his headaches and referred him to specialists based on that diagnosis. APL (talk) 16:21, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

archiving issue

In case anybody's wondering, yes, the Reference Desk archiving bot (scsbot) has started having trouble logging in, and hasn't been able to complete any archiving for the past few days. I'm not quite sure what the problem is yet, but I'm working on it... —Steve Summit (talk) 02:06, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for letting us know. StuRat (talk) 02:14, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Should we start manual archiving? I'm a bit rusty, but could give it a go again. Matt Deres (talk) 12:27, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Yeah I noticed this too. I've had to manually add the date headers a couple of times to the Computing desk. I'd be willing to attempt manual archiving as well (for that desk; since it's the one I mostly contribute to.) --.Yellow1996.(ЬMИED¡) 18:24, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, guys, but I think I may have fixed it. Stand by...
(Or should I say, "Stand back, I'm going to try... https!")
Steve Summit (talk) 18:52, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Yup, working again. Full archiving resumes tonight. —Steve Summit (talk) 19:19, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, yes - the https switchover. Thanks for clearing that up, Steve! :) --.Yellow1996.(ЬMИED¡) 17:30, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Removed medical advice thread (using magnets to rip out embedded objects)

Following the instructions at WP:RD/G/M, I have removed the blatant request for medical advice, and the discussion – including dangerous advice – provided therein. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 13:10, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Deletion from RD/E

Um. I've just deleted a copy of the List of best-selling music artists article that was posted to RD/E by User:SAADWWE. I note that this user has a fairly long list of warnings, blocks, ANI references, etc. I'll leave it to those more knowledgeable about our disciplinary procedures to decide on whether further action is appropriate. Tevildo (talk) 22:46, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Why doesn't Wikipedia provide medical advice?

[moved here from ref desk μηδείς (talk) 18:52, 6 September 2013 (UTC)]

Need a short answer, can't really read the long text about it, because of health problems. Is it because Wikipedia isn't qualified? This applies to the whole world. (talk) 18:10, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

There is a pretty short disclaimer at WP:Medical about why Wikipedia does not offer medical advice. An even shorter answer is that your assumption is correct. There isn't a very good way to verify who is actually qualified to dispense medical advice so we just don't. (talk) 18:37, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
There are really several underlying reasons - but probably the most important ones are:
  • There are places in the world where it's illegal to practice medicine without a license - so we don't.
  • Bad medical advice could easily kill or seriously harm someone - and we don't want to bear that responsibility.
  • We recognize that text on a page hardly ever provides sufficient information to deliver a diagnosis - so we couldn't do a good job - even if we wanted to.
SteveBaker (talk) 18:55, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I think you forgot the most important one of all, "we're covering our asses". The WMF doesn't want to get sued. --Trovatore (talk) 19:05, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Since the person giving the advice is responsible, it is that individual editor who would probably be sued, IRWolfie- (talk) 23:57, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
My favorite explanation is because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Wikipedia does not do many things: we are focused on writing a free-content encyclopedia, and providing medical advice does not further that goal. If we (the contributors) wanted to provide medical advice, we could do so elsewhere, and we could quibble about the ethical and practical problems elsewhere. Nimur (talk) 20:47, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
You can come up with all sorts of shiny explanations, but if we're honest, the most important one is not getting sued. --Trovatore (talk) 20:51, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

We don't, not because we couldn't do so in a responsible way addressing the above concerns, but because of opposition from some contributors here who will defend the current policy come what may. I participate on other forums where medical advice is given without any problems. In fact, quite a number of medical disasters have been prevented by us there. Count Iblis (talk) 19:16, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Dead men tell no tales. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:58, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
The current policy is based on a lot of red herrings, not on reality. Count Iblis (talk) 00:07, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

The answer is very simple: It is not possible to provide a valid diagnosis via this medium. If someone here happened to be a doctor, they could possibly give you advice - but only via a personal visit. What other sites do is their own problem. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:29, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Diagnosis is a red herring issue. Count Iblis (talk) 19:41, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
It's not either a "red herring". IT IS NOT POSSIBLE to provide a valid diagnosis through text messages alone. The fact that you might have guessed right sometimes and thus got lucky does not alter the basic fact. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:16, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
But who says that we would provide any diagnosis at all? What happens at the forums where I participate from time to time is that we give the people medical advice who have some questions, sometimes preventing big problems. E.g. we had a case where someoe was prescribed alpha-calcidiol by her doctor, not because she has kidney problems but just to treat vitamin D deficiency, and that without regularly measuring blood calcium levels. Our medical advice was to immediately stop the medication and to find a new doctor. The Ref Desk's non-medical advice would have been to stick to her doctor's prescription with likely disasterous results. Count Iblis (talk) 23:34, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
"The Ref Desk's non-medical advice would have been to stick to her doctor's prescription". No, it would be seek a competent medical professional if you desire a second opinion, but this encyclopedia reference desk can not help. Playing doctor without knowing the exact circumstances (and only relying on what the individual self reports) and while being unqualified is a very very dangerous game, IRWolfie- (talk) 00:01, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
In practice, the Ref Desk's rules applied to our forum would have led to that woman being stuck with her doctor, because we wouldn't have even communicated enough to find out her situation. So, eventually she might have gotten hypercalcemia, and perhaps irreversible damage to her body as a result. But we would not have known anything about that. This is not at all "playing doctor", because the person is always going to see a doctor anyway, it's about communicating with a person to help that person interact with the existing medical system better.
Just imagine Baseball Bugs's calling his son and finding out he has been ill. Do you really think that during this phone conversation he would stick to the rules he prefers for the Ref Desk? No reasonable scenario for such a phone conversation where the son is ill but not seriously ill and thus not likely to see a doctor, would be consistent with what he is arguing for here. Count Iblis (talk) 00:44, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Next time you talk to an OP by phone, let us know. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:47, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

The issue is a bit similar to why medical marijuana is a controvesial subject in the US. Read what Sanjay Gupta had to say about why until recently he was against this and why he now thinks he was wrong about this issue. Why won't the US accept the facts on this and make appropriate laws? Because of the usual tendency of people to defend the existing system. Count Iblis (talk) 19:48, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

No, those laws exist because we don't want a nation of pot-heads. Conventional history tells us that Prohibition failed. But the dirty little secret is that prohibition did work, to an extent. Alcohol consumption dropped significantly. The crack in re-opening the door was the use of alcohol "for medicinal purposes", along with a change of administration. That same crack in the pot prohibition is likewise starting to form, as the drug warriors are getting closer to simply giving up. But if we get a Republican administration next time, the door could close again. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:20, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Not if we get a good Republican (that is, one from the libertarian wing). --Trovatore (talk) 21:39, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia's official medical disclaimer, which has been linked, we do not provide medical advice by definition. That is to say, even if someone here were to give a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan to someone asking about his symptoms, our medical disclaimer declares that that is not actually medical advice (though some would reasonably disagree). This official disclaimer is very much a "cover your ass" sort of thing. The guideline that prohibits the giving of medical advice on the reference desk, Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines/Medical advice, was built by the community, not the foundation. The status of that guideline as a real guideline is based on the individual motivations of each editor who supported it. As expressed, those opinions have already been mentioned here, and varied from vague legal fears to moral issues. Someguy1221 (talk) 20:31, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Yes, this! Thanks for pointing it out. No matter what we may say here, it is automatically not medical advice, due to that disclaimer. Many regulars here, or on the talk page, say things like "we can't say XYZ, because WMF could be sued" -- but that is not really an issue that the ref desk responders need to worry about. Sure, we all have our own ethics and morals about these issues, but legally, WMF is already absolved, and protected against indemnity, because nothing we can sat here can legally construed as medical advice (at least, insofar as we trust the WMF lawyers who wrote the disclaimer). SemanticMantis (talk)
Actually, disclaimers don't work that way. You can say you are not dispensing medical advise all you like, but if you make no reasonable attempt to prevent it you can easily find yourself civilly liable. The same thing with using "alleged". You can still find yourself subject to and losing a civil case if you are not careful with defamatory statements, even if you do pepper your statements with allegeds. μηδείς (talk) 21:16, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
A court of law may well agree with you. I just don't want people to have the impression that some edict was handed down from on high that forbids us from giving out medical advice. The only such edict came from other volunteers. Someguy1221 (talk) 00:39, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed I think an important point is that there has never been any suggestion from the WMF or their legal department that we need to take great care in this area. And the vast majority of people who most strongly support it don't consider legal reasons particularly relevant. And whenever the issue comes up in other discussions, it's generally accepted we shouldn't worry too much about legal issues unless told to my the WMF or in clear cut issues like copyright violations. And even then, if there is fundamental disagreement in a complicated case over whether or not something is or isn't a copyright violation it's generally accepted we should ask for advice, in fact people trying to argue in to doing something for legal reasons or based on complicated legal arguments frequently get short strift because the WMF only has one legal department/cousel. The idea above that it's because we don't want to be sued isn't really support by the plenty of discussions that have taken place that Wnt mentions. Nil Einne (talk) 17:25, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
To me it's not about being sued or Wikipedia being sued (which I don't wish for, but it wouldn't cause me any sleepless nights either). It's about not doing harm. Diagnosing and recommending treatment or giving prognosis, without seeing, examining, or interviewing a patient, at the very least, just based on a whatever written information we receive here is potentially dangerous. I've witnessed faulty diagnoses at the Mayo Clinic's symptom checker where you have to answer a number of questions (unlike here). I too think the only thing we can recommend in these cases is "go see a doctor" (with competence, equipment, qualifications, accountability, etc). –––Sluzzelin talk 21:28, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
That's why I don't do it. I've screwed myself with bad medical advice. I don't want to think what I could do to someone I don't know. That's not to say I haven't had good ideas, too, but why risk it? Just get well soon, everyone! InedibleHulk (talk) 00:13, September 5, 2013 (UTC)
This is a bitterly contentious issue that has been debated at great length on the talk page, many times - check the archives (practically any archive, going all the way back). Some of us continue to deny the assertions that discussing health issues is a Bad Thing, and see a profit motive in doctors fearful of competition from the Internet. But in the end, if you try it, they'll turn out to try to shut you down in the name of "ethics". Medical ethics is very strictly equivalent to a long-term calculation of profit. Wnt (talk) 07:04, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Regardless of your hatred of the medical profession, the bottom line still is that is not possible to provide a valid diagnosis via text messages. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:16, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
I never thought about that, but searching "texting" and "doctors" gets me [24], which provides useful instruction. After emphasizing the importance of things like SEO, they explain that "e-mail offers the potential benefits of great accessibility and immediacy of answers to non-urgent issues." But emphasize the safeguard of "reserving digital communications for patients that maintain face-to-face follow-up only." In other words, like everything else in medicine, texting is ethical if and only if they're making money off of it. Wnt (talk) 17:25, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Apparently you expect doctors to work for free. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:47, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
No, I just don't want to hear them claim it's unethical to work for free, or to allow anyone else to work for free. It's like the encyclopedists at Brittanica who opposed amateur work on Wikipedia. They may indeed have a point (there may be a need for far more rigorous class warfare on the part of the poor, to answer that waged against them) but I refuse to be ordered about by them. But with doctors the class warfare is on the other foot, so needless to say, they have law and media and all else on their side, except morality that is. Wnt (talk) 23:08, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
I've never heard anyone say that working for free is "unethical", but that really has nothing to do with Wikipedia. Any medical advice coming from here would be worth its price - or worse. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:32, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, we've established it's not illegal, not unethical, and despite what you say, well-sourced answers to questions can be valuable. Which (as always) leaves no reason for the prohibition. Wnt (talk) 23:51, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
If someone asks, "I have a headache. What's causing it?" there is no valid information you or anyone else here can provide which will definitively answer their question. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:20, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Enough already. We haven't "established it's not illegal" as Wnt asserts or any such nonsense. Civil law and criminal law are totally different, and something can easily expose you to civli liability that has nothing to do with a criminal prohibition. This is the reference desk, not a talk page. There's no call to be having this debate here. μηδείς (talk) 01:27, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
BB, that's an example of a question we shouldn't answer, but that example doesn't prove that there aren't other question that fall within the current medical questions policy that one should answer to prevent harm, like in the example I mentioned above which occured on another forum where medical advice is given (an incompetent doctor treats vitamin D deficiency using alpha-calcidiol, doesn't do regular blood calcium tests and, of course, alpha-calcidiol isn't going to do much about the vitamin D deficiency). Count Iblis (talk) 02:05, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
"Another forum"? Since when are the ref desks supposed to be forums? What you do on some other website is out of Wikipedia's control, and if you manage to kill someone with your guesswork advice, that will be your problem, not wikipedia's. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:12, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Round and round, whack-a-mole. Every argument is disproved, the prohibitionists go on to the next one, we disprove that... sooner or later we're back round where we started. You stonewall and somebody laughs all the way to the bank. I suppose you'd ban Wikipedia from having articles like Headache#Cause if you could; but since you can't, you settle for banning question-and-answer and imposing special, unreasonable sourcing requirements. Wnt (talk) 07:59, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
This discussion belongs on the Talk page - not here. As I'm quite sure you already know if you've been following the various discussions on this subject, our rule applies to giving specific advice to specific individuals. There is nothing wrong with writing an article about the causes of headaches. There isn't even a problem with replying to a question like "What causes headaches?" - but our guideline does not allow "Is this pounding in my left temple a stress headache?", or "What can I take to get rid of my headache?" or "Will I die because of these repeated headaches that I'm getting?" (Kainaws criterion - no diagnosis, no treatment suggestions and no prognosis). Because it's all to easy to "game the system" by phrasing the question as a generality, when it's quite clear that the questioner is asking about a specific case - we frequently deny answers to these kinds of question even when they are couched in more general terms. As you correctly point out, there are plenty of other places on the Internet where you can get medical advice - and it is not Wikipedia's role to provide all possible information to all people. (See: WP:NOT) SteveBaker (talk) 13:03, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Question: "Will eating GM-foods make my migrane worse?" Answer: "No it won't." Anti-GM Zealot: "Medical advice removed". Count Iblis (talk) 19:25, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Sanity break:

The bottom line here is that a LOT of people here disagree with CountIblis, WNT and others who feel that the No Medical Advice rule (NMA) should be reversed. Sure, we understand that none of the arguments that the pro-NMA folks have made - and nothing we could possibly say will convince the anti-NMA folk to change your mind - which is why most of our pro-NMA people (myself included) are no longer bothering to argue about it. This sometimes leads people to think that they are winning the argument - but "victory by exhaustion" doesn't work well here.
By the same token, you must understand that nothing that you say will change our minds either - I haven't bothered to read all of your arguments in detail because you seem to be rehashing the same arguments that I rejected several years ago - and my mind hasn't changed.
So we have reached that point in a Wikipedia policy discussion where everyone has made up their minds and further discussion is counterproductive to getting on with the business of running the reference desks.
The "status quo" (as evidenced by day-to-day running of the ref desks and a clearly described FAQ) is that there is a firmly administered guideline that says "No Medical Advice on the Reference Desks". Under long-standing Wikipedia rules, to reverse the status quo, you need a strong consensus - not unanimity, but much, much more than a simple majority.
That leaves you anti-NMA people three choices:
  1. Accept that the guideline is indeed valid and quit annoying everyone by continuing to argue about it.
  2. Refuse to accept the guideline (against Wikipedia rules), continue to whine about it at every turn, and risk an accusation of trollish-behavior and WP:DISRUPT with attendant consequences.
  3. Claim that your stunning rhetoric has produced a new consensus and that the guideline can now be overturned. If so, you should immediately start an WP:RFC to test that.
Let's consider that third option: For myself, I've heard all of your arguments before - and I'm not even slightly convinced by a single one of them. So already you know for 100% sure that don't have a chance in hell of getting a unanimous consensus to change). I'm pretty sure that you're not getting anywhere with BBB or by my count, at least five other long-established "regulars" here who have bothered to comment on it again. That means that you're not getting a consensus to change the rules. A consensus isn't "a majority" have to have arguments powerful enough to change people's minds - and you very clearly do not.
Since it's clear that your arguments are not enough to convince a lot of respected Ref Desk regulars - doing an RfC is a complete waste of effort - at best, it would be a blatant attempt to provoke rounds of acrimonious debate followed by inevitable defeat. Feel free to do that - but know that by doing so, you'd be burning your credibility with the majority of people working here, and that's never a good idea.
So I strongly recommend #1. Give it up and let's get on with making a fantastic Ref Desk (albeit without medical advice).
SteveBaker (talk) 21:22, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Is there any possible way that everyone on our side can agree to shut up without having the other side dance on our graves and cheerfully announce in article space that they have unanimous agreement that it is wrong to talk about any such thing on the internet (unless the doctor is receiving ongoing payments)? To me it looks like two sides are arguing endlessly, and I wasn't first to this dance. Wnt (talk) 22:01, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Anytime you try to bring up your hatred of doctors, you get pushback on it. So you can either continue to beg for that pushback, or you can stop bringing up your hatred of doctors. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:14, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Above I see you pounding the Gospel of personal doctor visits three times (plus an extra aside to extol the virtues of Prohibition) before I responded. It's not enough for you to sit on your no-consensus ban of conversation you don't like; you have to have zero dissent about it or there's "pushback". And you blame me for that? Wnt (talk) 22:51, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
@BBB: Yes, you can just shut up and ignore the anti-NMA crowd. They can't claim to have a new consensus to amend or overturn the rule without asking for a formal test of that consensus - which, in such a bold step, would really demand a formal WP:RfC - and so long as the pro-NMA crowd aren't completely asleep at the wheel, that can't pass. But continuing to join in these kinds of discussions is unnecessary, and possibly counter-productive. A simple "I strongly disagree and the NMA rule stands."-response to all efforts to start a new debate is perfectly adequate. SteveBaker (talk) 03:42, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm not against a sensible NMA policy, but what we have now is something that goes well beyond what is reasonable. Also, a discussion about improving things is shot down by some here using straw man arguments. Then one has to respond to that, but this makes it impossible to build a more reasonable policy. The core of the current policy looks ok. we obviously cannot provide any diagnosis here. But questions and answers are removed when anyone feels that it could in theory lead to someone doing something that could lead to medical problems. The problem is then that under this NMA policy you could remove a large number of harmless questions. Our puritan attitude here is not consistent with many of the Wikipedia articles we have, take e.g Vicks VapoRub and compare this with the truth about VapoRub. Count Iblis (talk) 00:10, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

Our policy is fine. We just have some enthusiastic editors who sometimes confuse advice for simple information and take premature action before bringing it for discussion. BB is right: you can't diagnose over the internet. You can debate it all you like, but if you can't see them, you aren't getting all the information or history required to make a proper diagnosis even if we were allowed to do so, and can't offer treatment without knowing patient history regarding potential drug interactions, allergies or anything like that. Even if we aren't legally liable, it is wrong to put them at risk. If you feel you are able to help and are not a doctor, so be it, but please do it on your own time, away from here, and not to anyone I know. But fake doctor or real, you must understand at least this much. People lie, people mislead, people leave out information. That's why we shouldn't do it. However, WNT and Count Iblis are right, too: if they ask about a condition, there is no need for and no existing prohibition on giving information about it. Mingmingla (talk) 00:35, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Then do things right. Draft a new wording for the rule - make a formal proposal for it's acceptance. After a few days of discussion, do a straw poll to see if you've garnered support - and if it appears that you're changing minds then do a formal WP:RfC and if a new consensus forms around your amended rule, it'll be enthusiastically accepted. However, if it's clear from the first presentation that it has significant opposition - then just drop it. SteveBaker (talk) 03:42, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you're saying: I thought I was agreeing with you. I don't support giving advice. Mingmingla (talk) 03:45, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
If they ask, "What are some of the causes of headaches?", they can be sent to the headache page, along with a question mark as to how they found the ref desk but couldn't find such an obviously-named article. If they ask, "What's causing my headache?", there is no valid information we can give except "see a professional". If they've cleverly worded the question so as not to look like a diagnosis so they can get away with asking for medical advice... well, as the saying goes, it's their funeral. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:24, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Kainaw's criterion is our touchstone here. Things that definitely violate the "no diagnosis, no treatment suggestions, no prognosis" rule are easily and unambiguously deletable under present WP:RD guidelines. The problem is when our OP's try to game the system with clever phrasing. These borderline cases are the biggest issue here. We don't want to wind up with some Jeopardy-like system (where answers have to be in the form of a question...Why? Eh?) - where we actually will diagnose a headache and offer treatment if you phrase the question with the right magic words. So I don't doubt we'll continue to have debates when borderline cases come up. But the criteria we have are pretty good - and I can't see them being overturned. SteveBaker (talk) 03:42, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
More often it is the other side doing the "gaming". They actually don't accept that criterion, and have argued such on many an occasion. Wnt (talk) 03:52, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree that we should not answer explicit requests for medical advice. However, if someone isn't clearly asking for it, I don't think we can, or should, attempt to determine the intent behind their question. If you can't give advice because you can't observe/verify aspects of the person asking, then I fail to see how you could infer their intent- unless they're really really bad at being indirect, this will become an endless debate unless the op is willing to fess up. --The other day I asked about tea bags being used with toothaches, none of you can have any clue as to why I actually wanted to know about that: perhaps I was simply curious, perhaps I have a horrible toothache and don't have money to go to visit the dentist, maybe I'm making a website about weird uses of tea bags, who knows? However, as long as a question isn't explicitly requesting medical advice, there shouldn't be an issue with giving answers to it that do not, themselves, contain medical advice.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 04:53, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, on my own example question you even pointed out that I could have other intents behind it (I didn't, for what it's worth). Moreover, you provided a very good answer (thanks for that, the links were interesting reading :-) ). It would be more helpful, at least for me, if you could be a little clearer, then, in what you mean about "playing word games" since I have no idea where the line should get drawn with that, and I don't think there is any standard to appeal to that clarifies that.Phoenixia1177 (talk) 05:03, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Consider this, a refrain from giving MA also has the potential to endanger lives. An extreme example, "I've just consumed a solution of potassium cyanide, what is emergency response?" Therefore, if the goal is to protect the OPs from their own foolishness, then it is a pointless exercise.
Moreover, how could someone be legally liable for bad MA given on Wikipedia? Especially, when the responder is outside of US jurisdiction. Plasmic Physics (talk) 02:30, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Are you are just making this nonsense up? Surely you are aware he can sue in US court, and sue WP as the venue regardless. The glut of ignorant "answers" being given here is laughable. Let's hope our medical negligence is less damaging than our legal incompetence. μηδείς (talk) 02:38, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
What is so nonsensical about what I've said? No, I am not aware that the OP can sue, that does not make sense. If WP is just the venue, then it should logically not hold any responsibility of what is said by its users. If I happened to commit a murder, does my landlord get sentenced? I should think not. Plasmic Physics (talk) 02:51, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
If there is such an artificial link imposed upon moral logic, that WP is responsible, then it seems that common sense is wasted upon the US legal system. Plasmic Physics (talk) 02:55, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Looking at this discussion has convinced me of one thing at least - I wouldn't take medical advice from anyone who was prepared to give it out on a Wikipedia reference desk. AndyTheGrump (talk) 03:06, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Then at least you're not a candidate for the Darwin Awards. Plasmic Physics (talk) 03:26, 9 September 2013 (UTC)