Wikipedia talk:Reference desk/Archive 80

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Archive 75 Archive 78 Archive 79 Archive 80 Archive 81 Archive 82 Archive 85

Conspiracy Theorist Troll

Been removing multiple rants from a conspiracy theorist troll: here. Hope nobody minds. By the looks of it, this person will assume some super-secret part of the inter-galactic council of overlords is secretly making his messages vanish. -- kainaw 19:15, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Nevermind. The account is now indef blocked. -- kainaw 19:32, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

She came back with a different account (now indef blocked). I deleted all her crazy edits. -- kainaw 20:17, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
She? I don't mean to be sexist but I can't imagine females trolling. 62.63.184.114 (talk) 20:40, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
Then you need to expand your mind. Also, time to drag females down off that pedestal you've put them on.  :) -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:52, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
(ec) See User:Alison, who appears to be "primarily concerned with BLP issues" these days so I'm quoting directly: "Yes, it's true! I started my career on-line back in the late 80s, where I was a usenet troll, long before Wikipedia." (The only relevance here is in response to the preceding question, both in that women can be trolls and as a reminder that trolls can be highly respectable people in real life). :) WikiDao(talk) 20:55, 19 November 2010 (UTC)
This troll in question repeatedly posts her real name. A quick googling will easily locate her Facebook page - which contains the same mentally unstable ramblings (word for word) that she posts here. It also contains pictures of her to verify that she is either a female or a male going to great lengths to be seen as a female. Either way, I'm certain the troll wants to be referred to as "she". -- kainaw 13:40, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
You didn't post the name so it doesn't really matter but could be someone trying to defame her I guess. Interestingly the person seems to think 9/11 happened on the 9/08 Nil Einne (talk) 16:18, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
She signs her posts with "Donna Jean (was)Marinchek(is)Marn-Washington Dc 9 Judge Name Change". -- kainaw 18:12, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Talk pages by size

Please see the new page Wikipedia:Database reports/Talk pages by size (to be updated weekly). This talk page ranks 19th, with 12483 kilobytes. Perhaps this will motivate greater efficiency in the use of kilobytes.
Wavelength (talk) 21:55, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

The Reference Desk; more talked about than Jesus 82.66.19.161 (talk) 22:12, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
12 megabytes? I don't think so. The archivebot is set for 200K max, and the current page size is 120K. The served HTML is around 220K. We have problems with the Science RD page, but not this one. Sometimes it has several active discussions, but nothing so extraordinary. However perhaps we could all start interleaving only the most significant bits of our bytes, or maybe use file compression, since there is sometimes redundancy in the discussions. :) Franamax (talk) 23:34, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
Just noticed the listing includes sub-pages, which raises the question: who cares? Archives are archives. Franamax (talk) 23:40, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
Well, I don't think it's meant to be any more than a bit of trivia, with a side order of "what are the most controversial areas of the project?" Anyway, if you you feel strongly about it, it is being considered for deletion. Matt Deres (talk) 04:08, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Monthly indexes for November

What happened with them? --Theurgist (talk) 13:38, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

I just realised there's actually nothing wrong with them, but then why do the links for "Nov 2010" here appear red on my PC, and still point to extant pages when followed? --Theurgist (talk) 06:31, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

And now, everything seems to be fine already. I'm very confused... --Theurgist (talk) 06:35, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Question about tentacles

This question seems like a request for medical advice, but the OP has made a valiant effort to make it sound otherwise. If others here feel that this should be removed, please do so. As an amusing historical note (this doesn't quite fit the current instance), it reminds me of the Morgellons prototypical meme. -- Scray (talk) 17:09, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

Response removed from the Misc. Desk

Removed this response from the Misc desk as "unacceptable". Comments about that action are welcome here. WikiDao(talk) 13:19, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for bringing it to the talk page for discussion (I dislike it when people remove things without saying anything). I weakly agree with this removal, but really, I could go either way. However, you really should notify the editor whose comment you removed. I will do have done so: User_talk:AndyTheGrump#Reference_Desk_Response. Buddy431 (talk) 16:30, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
It was funny and I did smile, but I support the removal, per WP:DENY. The OP's contribution history is one of almost unmitigated vandalism and trollery, but even trolls shouldn't be told to f*** off by a helper on this very public of Wikipedia forums. Either provide a link to the info requested without raising an eyebrow, as Cuddlyable did, or remove the question as worthless trollery if you can demonstrate that's what it is. Any other reaction is just feeding. Karenjc 17:09, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
Please accept my apology for this, and an assurance I won't respond in a similar way again. I'll offer no excuses beyond frustration with trolls, and editing under the influence (not that the latter is a valid excuse anyway). AndyTheGrump (talk) 17:15, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
Inappropriate as all hell, but I must say, I got a big grin out of it all the same. —Steve Summit (talk) 22:20, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
Faults with the response are that it made no effort to answer the question posed, it attacked the OP instead, and IMHO the poster does not know the usual definition of spamming, and is probably so uncomfortable with the subject of masturbation that they should better have left the question alone. However I would not castigate the post if it had been put in small font after I gave the required reference, since that is our de facto method of adding frivolous responses. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 08:19, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

removed question

I'd like to note that I've removed a question, because the editor who asked it has been identified as a sock of Wiki brah (talk · contribs), who has a long history of sock-puppetry. We need to do everything we can to discourage this behavior. (The question itself would have been reasonable.) Looie496 (talk) 18:04, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

I have notified both User:Sepulveda Junction and User:WikiDao on their respective talk pages. Buddy431 (talk) 18:20, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
Cool by me, thanks for the notice. :) WikiDao(talk) 18:22, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
No, the "question" that introduces itself as "this discussion" was not reasonable. It argues two premises that qualify as WP:SOAPBOX. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 08:25, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

"What is a scorching bicyclist?" - why is the discussion closed?

Why has someone marked that question as closed and not to be modified? It just seems like a reasonable question with reasonable and normal replies. 92.24.183.235 (talk) 20:57, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

The question is not closed. The top part is just a copy from the archives (Jan. 2010). --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 21:21, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
It is confusing though. The OP should have linked to the original discussion rather than pasting it in. --Viennese Waltz 08:34, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Philippino Page....about me? A Talk Page?

Resolved

What.... this has nothing to do with me. Should I take steps to get rid of this, and if so, how? I got a gibberish message (part English, part Korean (written in Latin alphabet) and part Chinese written in pinyin but meaning nothing whatsoever) telling me about this page. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 22:45, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

The OP's link seems to be a page in the Waray-Waray language version of Wikipedia. It is the 5th most spoken native language in the Philippines. The poster JinJian apparently speaks English (you might also communicate in Tagalog) and has posted at hundreds of User talk pages in the past 24 hours. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:20, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
It seems to be just you, you have an auto-created account at that wiki. See "Users with name KageTora on Wikimedia projects". JinJian just created the user talk page there today to "welcome" you, it looks like. You can edit that page however you want, just like at en.wiki, I would imagine. WikiDao(talk) 23:24, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I actually do not appreciate wiki-editable pages with my name on being created without my consent. I have no wish to visit the Waray-waray version of Wikipedia as I do not speak the language. I only understood it to be a language of the Phils because of its similarity to Tagalog - a language which I have very limited communication skills in. I have notified User:JinJian that I would like it removed. Somehow I doubt it will happen, though. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 00:20, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Originally people were meant to have one user and talk page shared across all projects, but for whatever reason they didn't implement it. I have no idea why the unified login system automatically makes accounts when people just visit a different wiki. This was one of the issues I raised at the time when it was being implemented but no one seemed to care. Imo it's a big privacy concern. Say for example you didn't have an account on the French wiki, then I link to a page on the French wiki. I'd know if you visited that link, and at what exact time, by checking the automatic account creation log. Also, most of these wikis are very slow and they have bots welcoming every new user, and I've seen many complains from people receiving these welcome emails in languages they can't read and getting very confused by it. 82.44.55.25 (talk) 00:34, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I see that. Thing is, in my case, I have never visited the Waray-waray Wikipedia and have no intention to (currently). I do not understand why I am having a welcome page dedicated to me, and I dislike having one, on a site I will never visit, and editable by any Tom, Dick, or Harry that happens to 'like' my name. We all know what vandalism is, and when you are not around to clean it up (as I wouldn't be, in this case), if it happens it will stay. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but, hey, that's up to me. My username is being used, and I do not agree to it. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 00:55, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

[Edit] - It's been fixed. Thanks. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 01:17, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

What has any of this got to do with the Reference Desk? 87.114.101.69 (talk) 11:13, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Sorry if my posting here offends you. Feel free to delete it. It's resolved anyway. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 14:46, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Stupid things

Are comments such as [1] frowned upon, or do we cheerfully permit them, convincing ourselves that it's not technically an insult because "stupid" was applied to the statement, and not the person themselves? -- 174.31.199.95 (talk) 17:35, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

We frown upon them, while recognizing that there are some themes that tend to provoke heated responses, Zionism and antisemitism notable among them. Looie496 (talk) 17:58, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

your removal of my question on real life trolls

your removal means you did not follow my first request, whichis to reflect on the definition of an Internet troll. Who said anythig about honoring trolls? I told you to rflect on the definition, then tell me who, if anyone, best reflects or reflected that in real life. That means somebody who made a career not in earnest, but calculated to enrage public debate disengenuously (for example), etc. The question is perfectly clear, reasonable. and appropriate to further refernces. please reinstate my question for this reason. you can change greatest to biggest, which is what I meant. 82.234.207.120 (talk) 23:20, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Your question made no reference to "reflecting" or "real-life trolls". Stop trolling. -- kainaw 00:04, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Er.. the title of the original question clearly stated "who are arguably some of the greatest real life trolls", followed by the line "reflecting on the definition of an Internet troll..". Are you trolling? Have I just been trolled? 82.44.55.25 (talk) 00:08, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Reversed unjustified closing of question

A user asked two very straightforward questions on what Texas laws govern a couple of situations. It's long-standing precedent on the RDs that such questions are acceptable. There is no RD policy that says otherwise. It's certainly acceptable, for example, what the minimum age is for mandatory retirement in France (70, if you are interested), and I think these questions are along those lines. If you wish not to answer, please just ignore the question and set aside any authoritarian impulses. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 01:23, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

In fact, the RD guidelines say, "However, general medical and legal questions ("What treatments are used for diabetes?", "Which countries recognize common law marriages?") are fine." -- Mwalcoff (talk) 01:27, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. He's asking for specific laws, not the interpretation of them. Aaronite (talk) 01:39, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Collapse templates

Are the collapse templates broken for anyone else? Since this afternoon, they're all showing as expanded for me, with no 'hide' option. 86.161.208.185 (talk) 16:32, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

It works for me. I don't know if this might be it, but in Preferences, under the Appearance tab, there is an "Enable collapsing of items in the navigation menu in Vector skin" option. WikiDao(talk) 16:51, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Doesn't seem to make a difference to me, but, let's see, I might be in "Monobook"... WikiDao(talk) 16:55, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
That preference option is something else entirely. Algebraist 17:19, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
This sounds like a javascript problem. Check you aren't blocking javascript, bypass your cache to clear any misloaded code, and check for errors (Tools/Error Console in Firefox). If all that fails, try asking at WP:VPT. Algebraist 17:19, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Oh, my browser crashed and now it's working again. I had previously shut it down and restarted, and the problem persisted, so I'm not sure what happened there. Thanks. 86.161.208.185 (talk) 21:16, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Editnotice?

Should we have an editnotice for the reference desks (maybe a very short, large and bold admonition to not include one's email address)? I think people are more likely to read that then they are to read the giant blue box at the top of the desk. --NYKevin @858, i.e. 19:36, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

No, I don't think users will read that either: it will just be one more thing to filter out, and they'll be less likely to read any of the other info either. We don't get nearly as many email address as might be expected, and we usually edit them out pretty quickly and add an explanation. There've been whole weeks when I haven't seen anyone make this mistake. I don't think this is a major problem, and I don't think this measure would reduce it. But an interesting idea: good to see people pondering. 86.161.208.185 (talk) 20:36, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
We could include an editnotice to inform people to read the editnotices! I actually have a colleague who is very gung ho on putting signs up by the library computer terminals. As the number and complexity of the signs increased, the few people who read them decreased in number. I suggested that my colleague put a sign by each workstattion saying "Please read the signs" and had to stop her from following through. --Quartermaster (talk) 20:49, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Regardless of notices saying not to, someone will always leave their email address. I see this on every forum. I assume many of these people only have short periods of access to the internet, perhaps at internet cafes or something, so can't follow the threads they make closely. I think one solution to this would be to make it clearer that every question asked gets archived. Currently the mention of the archives says that you can search them for past questions, but I can see people thinking that's a "best of" selection, and not realize every single question ever asked is archived. 82.44.55.25 (talk) 20:59, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Questions

Hi

I have many questions I would like to ask which I have saved in a text file. About 20 in total. What is the daily limit on how many questions I can ask? It is difficult for me to attain frequent computer rights so I would best like to post all questions in one go if that is allowed. I fully intend to format them correctly with section titles and on the correct desk pages. Can I do that please?

Thank you for your time — Preceding unsigned comment added by AloneForeverTogether (talkcontribs) 21:42, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

The only limit is the patience of the volunteers who give answers. I suggest you post ONE question and wait a day to see if you get responses. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 21:58, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
Not sure what patience has to do with it. It's not as if answering ref desk questions is some sort of unwanted interruption to our real lives. We're all here as volunteers, because we want to be, because we like sharing our knowledge and helping others, and because we get something back from being of service. Anyone who's here for any other reason had better have a rethink. The OP appears to be completely sincere, and it's far from unknown for the same person to ask multiple questions in one go (as separate threads, of course, and if necessary on separate desks). I'd much rather they did that than ask a series of unrelated questions in the one post, with some stupid title such as "Questions". (Note: This very thread is headed "Questions", but that's perfectly OK in this case, because the question really was about the asking of questions, as opposed to where Columbus really came from, for instance.) -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 23:25, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
But if they *are* related (i.e. all on the same topic), please do put them in the same thread, so answerers don't have to rehash the same background information for each of the separate threads. -- 174.31.218.235 (talk) 04:55, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Assuming the one-entry user actually comes back here, perhaps it could post the 20 Questions (ha!) right here, for evaluation. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:43, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

this page is being deleted?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities_reference_desk "The purpose of this redirect is currently being discussed by the Wikipedia community. The outcome of the discussion may result in a change of this page, and possibly its deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy. Please share your thoughts on the matter at this redirect's entry on the Redirects for discussion page. Click on the link below to go to the current destination page. Please do not subst this template, as it is needed for tracking purposes; please also notify the good-faith creator and any main contributors of the redirect that you are nominating the redirect using {{RFDNote}}." Does anyone know about this?174.88.169.182 (talk) 17:46, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

There are actually two similar pages:
The former has become redundant and it has been suggested that it should be deleted. The latter is in regular use and will not be deleted. Dolphin (t) 22:17, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
For clarity the discussion is about one particular redirect. And a redirect in article space to non-article space which tends to be discouraged. There is only one humanities reference desk. There are other redirects to the humanities desk e.g. Wikipedia:RD/H which aren't likely to be deleted. Nil Einne (talk) 22:55, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Hmm thanks I am glad the page will still be around. Ilike to read it. But I will need a new way to find it, apparently? Theone I had bookmarked is the one that has disappeared. Also, this one (thatis being deleted) is still top result when I google humanities reference. Also, whaty is article and non-article space? Just curious. 174.88.169.182 (talk) 00:37, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Namespace 82.44.55.25 (talk) 11:52, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
When I google "humanities reference"[2] the second hit is to the redirect that is up for deletion, and the first hit is to the humanities desk proper. So I don't think we're going to lose searchability. —Steve Summit (talk) 01:58, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
You should either take that one redirect away, or create some others for the other ref desk pages. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:41, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
The other desks already have similar redirects, some of which are also up for deletion: Computing reference desk, Science reference desk, Entertainment reference desk, Language reference desk, Humanities reference desk, Miscellaneous Reference Desk, Mathematics reference desk. Why the Miscellaneous redirect capitalizes "Reference Desk" and the others don't is beyond me. Did I miss any? Buddy431 (talk) 18:00, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Not exactly. If you type "wp:ref d" in the search box, you get 2 results: The reference desk itself, and humanities. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:21, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Non question removed

Haniad66‎ (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log)

Non-question removed here. It was simply a request for participants in a survey.--Shantavira|feed me 11:53, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Good thing it was removed. I doubt that any honest responses will outweigh a quick little script that someone may have written to flood the survey with outlandish responses. -- kainaw 15:47, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Is that really a minor edit? I think it's a bit misleading to say that removing someone's entire post is minor. I usually reserve the m for punctuation fixes, and such. I've also gone ahead and notified the poster of this discussion. Buddy431 (talk) 18:10, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Not a minor edit to my way of thinking, although if I recall correctly, rollbacks are automatically tagged as "minor". This was not a rollback, though, it was a manual edit. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:25, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Apparent advert removed

Here, I removed an apparent advert. Comet Tuttle (talk) 07:06, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Yep. I pulled similar from their talk page. A second new editor is trying to help, so it seems. Standard, thanks. Franamax (talk) 08:09, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
It wasn't apparent to me - it was OBVIOUS!  :P Whose Your Guy (talk) 04:31, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Notifying users when we talk about them

Can I make a request? Can we please notify users on their talk pages when we're talking about them here? Just now, I've notified three people that we were talking about them: User talk:Wwdmc01, User talk:Haniad66, and User_talk:82.234.207.120#Trolling. In the latter two cases, Commet Tuttle and Bugs told the editor to knock it off, but neither offered even a cursory explanation of what they were referring to, or why the behavior might not be acceptable (and in the case of 82, I'm not even sure he's doing anything wrong, but that's for another thread). At WP:ANI, it's required that you notify an editor when you start a thread about them. I'm not saying we need a big orange box telling us to do so, but could we show some minimal amount of decency, and not talk about others behind their backs? Tell editors when we remove their content? Explain what they're doing wrong when we remove something? Thank you. Buddy431 (talk) 18:24, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Probably a good idea, though it depends on the situation. Notifying an obvious troll (which this one wasn't) does nothing but feed the troll. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:27, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
It seems a bit silly to me that there should really be any concern that someone who's only 2 contributions are the same spam [3] [4] may not be aware we are indeed referring to those 2 spam posts, not other posts they did not make when someone tells them to stop spamming. Similarly one has to wonder whether it's really there's really any reason to make a big deal about informing someone who's only two posts are spamming first to their talk page [5] [6] (which was removed along with some other spam message posted by another account [7] to their talk page which funnily enough contained a link to the site they posted to the RD, with explanations why and links offered to inform them of policy); and then to the RD, that we're discussing their spam (although the 'discussion' primarily seems to be 'I removed this spam', 'good job'). I removed some more. Nil Einne (talk) 20:43, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
P.S. If you follow the thread, Franamax was seemingly referring to the spam on their talk page which he/she removed when they spoke to Haniad66, not the RD spam removal which no one really informed Haniad66 about specifically. Nil Einne (talk) 20:54, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
P.P.S. One final comment before I'm off for the day. I'm not saying there isn't some merit to greater notification. There may be, but at least 2 of the examples Buddy used are IMO clearly bad ones and this does matter since we need to consider how much of a problem this 'non-notification' actually is and it also doesn't help the discussion. As with BB I don't believe notification is always necessary. We aren't ANI. ANI handles complex cases where there is need for discussion (and a lot of stuff that doesn't really belong at ANI). As should be clear IMO in the Wwdmc01 and Haniad66 there isn't really any need. In fact it's the sort of thing IMO would be fine just removing without comment here. I don't know why comment was made here, it may be because the people involved feared there may be repeats so wanted to let others know. It may be due to fear of complaints even for clear cut removals (partially a legacy of the medical/legal advice removals IMO). Now if people are going to make a fuss about even such non controversial removals when the removals were even notified here simply because of non-notification then perhaps even greater notification or even nearly always notification is called for if only to prevent unnecessary and pointless debate simply because of no notification. I would note when giving most warnings like for vandalism, there is AFAIK no need to inform the poster spefically of what page is being referred to, there is an option to the template but it can go unused particularly when the warnings are given manually and unless there's some evidence the OP may not be aware of what they were warned for this doesn't AFAIK affect whether the warning is considered sufficient. And in that same line, there is no need AFAIK to notify someone you've reported them to AIV because slightly similar to IMO what we're referring to here, the warnings are sufficient, the AIV is simply to get the attention of others to help deal with it. Nil Einne (talk) 21:19, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Some good points, Nil, but also some that appear to be in contradiction of WP:Reference desk/Guidelines#When moving a posting and specifically WP:Reference desk/Guidelines#When removing or redacting a posting: "In general, you should leave a note on the Reference desk page explaining your edit and the reason behind it." WikiDao(talk) 21:29, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
(e/c)
Agree with general sentiment expressed by Buddy431. It's only polite, clarity is always a good thing, and it will help prevent the same sort of problems that are presumably being prevented by the requirement for notification of AN discussions. WikiDao(talk) 20:45, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
And it helps minimize civilian casualties, too. WikiDao(talk) 20:49, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't feel the need to notify a user that I've removed their advert or troll or nonsense posting on the Reference Desk. They know they're doing wrong and it's a waste of my time. Mentioning the removal here on the RD talk page is sufficient. In the case of a nonsense posting, of course, we shouldn't even bother to do that. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:53, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Trolling by IP

Unsurprisingly this IP admits being a troll. Several trolling threads created by this IP has already been removed. Time for sanctions? --Saddhiyama (talk) 16:27, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

After [8] I gave the IP a final warning Nil Einne (talk) 19:31, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Because Nil Einne was terribly vague in what he was referring to on the talk page, I've left a clarifying note and directed the IP to this discussion: User_talk:82.234.207.120#Trolling. Why do you believe that this is trolling? Many of his questions have been reasonable, and have been answered in good faith. And can you clarify which threads have been removed, other than the latest one (which I would have left up. Even if it is homework, we can direct him to the right articles)? Buddy431 (talk) 18:06, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
You don't believe asking a question with the subject "not homework" and saying at the end "This is not homework" but which is worded exactly like a homework question and (key point) you include (20 points) at the end is trolling? Sorry but that's just's a ridiculous amount of AGF particularly for an IP who has already done silly business like what Saddhiyama referred to (or for that matter their posting a removed question to the talk page). (The question of course may or may not be homework, I suspect it's not, but it's clearly set up so it sounds exactly like one with the added bonus of including the pointless '20 points' to suggest it was copied from a homework assignment or similar. And no, you're not going to convince me someone who twice insisted a question wasn't homework just so happened to copy the 20 points or otherwise didn't think that perhaps there's no point including it and that it would cast doubt as to their claim it's not homework particularly when they didn't explain it in any way despite it occuring to them to twice mention the question isn't homework).
I have only removed one thread (I also removed a repost of question to this talk page after it had been removed from the RD by someone else), but Saddhiyama removed a reply where they stated they were trolling but then this was later added back by the IP (well a different IP but they said it was them) and claimed they were just joking. I was 'vague' because IMHO the trolling was so clear cut, there was no need to tell the OP what I was referring to. Also the IP has had almost no activity outside the RD so it is unlikely they will think it is something outside the RD even if they don't know which specific post of theres I was referring to (which may be possible but only because they've trolled enough they're not sure). I would add they are clearly aware of this talk page considering they've complained about the question about real life trolls above (I guess that question was removed too since they complained about it being removed but I didn't do it) and they (as I mentioned) posted a question here after it had been removed (twice in different forms I believe) from the RD I think due to BLP concerns.
I should add it wasn't my intention to discuss the OP in any way. I simply mentioned I'd given them a warning and pointed out their recent behaviour in case anyone considers blocking them (or asking for a block) in the future. (For example, if I give a warning to someone for continually BLP vios, and mention that at BLP/N there's no need to mention to the OP that there is discussion of them at BLP/N because there's not. The warning stands on its on. The mention at BLP/N is for the benefit of other editors who may encounter any future problems, and is not intended to facilitate discussion about the behaviour.)
Note that I'm not suggesting that all their questions and comments are trolling, I ultimately have no idea and it doesn't matter anyway.
Nil Einne (talk) 20:04, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for leaving me that note on my talk page directing me to this discussion!! Who knew I achieved notoriety, all of my troll juices are flowing. I especially like that you just researched my posting history in depth and celebrated me with a 600-word essay that probably took you a good half hour of research and writing. Basically, for the work I put in, I couldn't have asked for a better return :) You have been trolled, have a nice day. 82.234.207.120 (talk) 21:04, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Archive

Where's the archive bot? --Chemicalinterest (talk) 01:52, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand the question. The talk page is archived by MiszaBot II, which archived two threads shortly after you posted your question. It's currently set to archive threads that have had no comments for ten days. Matt Deres (talk) 20:58, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Maybe the OP means User:Scsbot 82.44.55.25 (talk) 21:21, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Reference or Discussion Desk

Based on the question "2010 v. 1939" [9] I must point out the situation that exists: if the OP had asked something as equally unanswerable as "what if Mark Twain was still alive today, could he use a Personal computer ? , or if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born ten years ago, would he have a hit record today? , it would have been dropped as ridiculous, but quickly bait some veteran Reference Desk contributors with an fun premise involving World War II and it turns quickly into a discussion forum. Forgive me, I have been a Reference Desk contributer for some time now, and I get enough of the opinions, lack of real references, and the catering to obvious discussion type questions as this. 10draftsdeep (talk) 04:20, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

The OP on that question should maybe watch The Philadelphia Experiment I & II for a somewhat similar hypothesis. In fact, trying to compare something simple, like Mark Twain and whether he would use a PC, is a lot different from trying to speculate on what would have happened if the USA had 2010 technology in 1939. Americans had superior technology in Vietnam, and a lot of good it did for us. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:46, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
While they might be unanswerable, I disagree that the questions you mention are "ridiculous". It's true that we can't give a definitive answer (as they don't even *have* a definitive answer), we can assist the questioner with background information which would inform them about the topic. For example, there were many new inventions during the time Mark Twain lived - what was his attitude toward them? Was he an early adopter, or did he stick to the traditional way? Likewise, is there any evidence on what drove Mozart? Was it fame and popularity, or was it a particular style of music? Was his child-prodigy-ness confined to specific types of music, or was he an all-rounder? Looking at the "2010 v. 1939" question, answerers have provided good information about various factors one would need to consider: production costs, maintenance requirements, differences in tactics, etc. You bemoan the lack of references, but a number of posters provided references/links for their statements. They also provided references to books and films which looked at similar questions, as well as related topics. Sure, there are some people who gave unsubstantiated assertions, but no more than we see in some other non-counter-factual questions. - And it's certainly not the *questioner's* fault if an answerer posts an unreferenced response, so I don't see why we should punish them by deleting the question.
In fact, the only disrupting thing I see about the conversation are the people whinging about how counter-factual questions "can't be answered" and "aren't appropriate". Instead of deleting counter-factual questions, I think a better solution is to realize that not all questions have cut-and-dry answers, and that informing without answering is perfectly allowable under those situations. - If you don't think it's worth your time to deal with such questions, you can just ignore them. Or if you do decide to answer, provide references as to why it's impossible to answer the question, rather than non-specific gripes ;). -- 174.24.216.113 (talk) 05:58, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
The problem is the "What would happen if...?" part, which is impossible to answer with certainty in historical matters. But such a question can contain the seeds of plausibility, such as facts about the various weapons' capabilities. None of that could prove that the USA would bring the war to a quick end (although the A-bomb certainly did), but at least it would give an indication of what the enemy would have been up against. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:16, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the OP that historical "what if"-questions are speculation and not ref desk material. However there are certain borderline areas where it could be acceptable to answer them, for example in the "1939 vs 2010" question I guess it would be somewhat possible to answer the fact oriented question about "How many 1939 fighters or bombers would a 2010 airplane be equivalent to?". At least in terms of bare numbers a comparison could be made, comparing speed, firepower etc of one type of plane with another. But speculating on historical events with changed variables is just that: speculation, and in my opinion not suited for the ref desk. --Saddhiyama (talk) 14:44, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
My point was that we don't have to answer them with certainty. I think it's entirely appropriate and acceptable to point to facts and information that have a bearing on musing about the subject, and omit any attempt at a definitive, conclusive answer. -- 174.24.216.113 (talk) 16:38, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
It's of note that while counterfactuals are generally treated as silly by most mainstream historians, most also would agree that they can be useful for highlighting underlying assumptions. Just because you can't answer something like this with authority doesn't mean it isn't a good question or one that one cannot contemplate it without regard to solid facts. In the case of the one given, I think it's a bit too far to be useful. (If it was, "what if the French hadn't built the Maginot line?" or "what if the US hadn't used atomic bombs on Japan?", it would be more in line with the kind of questions that scholars occasionally ask.) I only offer this up as an insight into what might be considered legitimate terrain in more formal areas of inquiry, not as a suggestion for a hard line rule. I do think that things that are in the realm of purely science fiction are generally not good Reference Desk material. But I don't see any reason for whining about them or deleting them on site. I consider such threads far less disruptive to our mission and our conduct than the many people who seem to answer without the slightest consideration to whether their answers are based in anything other than the first thing that pops into their heads. Bad questions can still provoke good answers, but there is no excuse for posting bad answers to any kind of question. Ref Desker, regulate thyself. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:54, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I largely agree with that. The issue with the question (as I see it) is that it isn't counterfactual history (which is tricky enough), it's completely impossible. Advanced ICBMs and modern tanks didn't just get whipped up in someone's garage, they are intricately woven into the background state of science and technology. Even more oddly, our current state of technology regarding rockets and missiles was greatly boosted by the cold war grab for rocket scientists from the defeated German state; in other words, the US couldn't have developed 2010 technology back then - at least not without the rest of the world doing the same. Matt Deres (talk) 17:15, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Sure. But saying all of the above can be a useful answer. I would personally see the question as an invitation to point out the "embeddedness" of technologies in their era, and that considering technology as just a "tool" that gets used at one time or another and can be considered interchangeably from its context. If you had ICBMs and modern tanks, you wouldn't have had World War II. And so on. The point is, there are probably no truly bad questions, even of this sort. There are better and worse answers. I suggest we concentrate more on regulating answers than questions. --Mr.98 (talk) 01:44, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
Although the RD's stated mission involves answering factual questions, in fact we answer plenty of questions that have no single factual answer, like an aspiring fiction writer who asks something like "What are some creative ways that the killer in my story could commit a murder with ice?" Counterfactual history questions fit into this category of (permitted) questions, IMO. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:56, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Reading the responses here I see some really good points from all of you. I suppose there is a place for these types of questions in certain circumstances when handled properly. I would just hate to see the desk get littered with unanswerable questions that spin into long speculations and unreferenced answers. Regardless, thanks for the responses and great points. 10draftsdeep (talk) 20:02, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Counterfactual questions are sometimes legitimate topics. For example, academics have considered the questions, "Would the Holocaust have happened without Hitler?" and "Would the Great Powers have recognized the Confederacy had it won the Battle of Antietam?" (The first question was discussed on the RD.) It may be possible to answer such a question definitively -- for example, if someone discovered a document in the papers of Lord Palmerston that said, "We were planning on recognizing the Confederacy until they lost at Antietam." More likely, it's possible to make a persuasive argument one way or the other. A good RD answer to a question like that would be to give an overview of the current debate on the question and provide the arguments in favor of each side. It's worth considering that many historical questions that aren't counterfactual don't yet have a definitive answer either. For example, while there certainly is a correct answer to the question, "Did King Arthur exist?", no one really (yet) knows what it is. The best we can do is explain what most scholars on the subject believe and provide the evidence for and against. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:56, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Many "counterfactual" questions have been studied and written about by military experts and other scholars. "Could Japan have taken and held the Hawaiian Islands in 1941-42?" "How would WW2 have ended differently if the US had not used atomic bombs on Japan?" "Did MacArthur's reconquest of the Phillipines prolong the war and cause unnecessary allied casualties?" "Would Kennedy have pursued a different course in Vietnam than Johnson did?" Referenced answers can cite such books and studies, and can provide material relevant to many counterfactual questions, in a way that is highly appropriate to Ref Desk. Not all questions and answers have to be like "What is the density and melting point of lead? Answer: See the article on lead." Edison (talk) 20:54, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Catherine Thompson and biz kid$ questions

It seems to me like most of my biz kid$ questions have remained unanswered, despite the fact that i have told people that if they get it in their area, to please watch it. I even said a few times that if they would like, i could give them some channels I know of that shows Biz Kid$ That's the best i can do to help. And for the Catherine Thompson part of it, people are still doubting me, but like Commet Tuttle mentioned on my talk page (thanks C.T.), IMDB is not a varry reliable source. Just because IMDB doesn't say that Catherine Thompson is on biz kid$, it doesn't mean it is true. Just look at the credits, and i have said many times, if my aunt is reading it wrong for the voice of Capitalest Peg, Biz kids biz quiz and her other credits, then tell me the name of this person. It is important to note that i am not trying to accuse anyone at all of being rude, or telling me that i'm lying or making it up, i'm just saying. I realize that you guys want sources, but some times observation is the source. I.E. if someone notices a character's voice is supposed to parrity something, like the person wrote in the attomic betty characters article that Prinsaple Peterson has a voice like Don Charry, that's an observation. The same with Catherine Thompson. My aunt read the name at the end of the credits in a few biz kid$ episodes. I'll be happy to answer any questions you all have about this, and if you need showtimes for PBS Spokane or PBS detroit (that's the only pbs stations i get it on), and or whereelse to watch it, i'll do my best to help you there. Don't expect perfection though. Thanks, and sorry about the ramble. N.I.M. (talk) 05:15, 23 December 2010 (UTC) P.S.: don't delete the catherine thing, if you guys find that it is someone else, just let me know and i'll be willing to correct the name of the person. (no marketing going on, i prommis, just trying to do some confirmations here about biz kid$)

Please consider that the reference desk is staffed by volunteers, who may not share you interest in biz kid$. Expecting people to watch something they aren't interested in to answer your questions for free is a little extreme. If you are willing to pay people enough, you could probably find someone to do so, but if not, it's usually best not to complain when people don't answer your questions for free. If this is something to do with article disputes then this is the wrong place although again remember the vast majority of people here are not being paid to edit and may not feel something is important enough to spend their time to find out (or may not have enough time even if they do). Do note wikipedia doesn't really accept 'observations' as a source in articles. I believe you've checked out some other websites, may I suggest you seek people who are interested in biz kid$ to help you? If you need help getting an account in some other website you may be able to get someone here to help you. (Similarly you may find some wikia or other project has laxer standards and greater interest in voice actors for TV show episodes.) Nil Einne (talk) 12:09, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Can you link me to someone who is interested in biz kid$ please? I need to find this out because i am interested not in pay, but in making the article right. My aunt read the credits for today's episode and she still sees "Catherine Thompson". Any place i can go to ask someone who is interested in biz kid$ or who knows all the voice actors in the show? I have an e-mail so i can just e-mail them when needed. N.I.M. (talk) 02:24, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

N.I.M., I watched a clip you linked awhile ago and I did not see "Catherine Thompson" in the credits. There was a fast wipe over tha voice actors, but I see no way your aunt could have stop-motioned that clip better than I did. Do you have a better clip? You need better authority than your aunt. Franamax (talk) 02:42, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
NIM, I would suggest contacting the show's producers (who might be found at the bizkids website), or anyone at your local PBS member-station would probably be happy to help, too. But it sounds like we just don't know the answers to your questions about that show here, so you will have to try to track down that information somewhere else. Good luck! WikiDao(talk) 03:10, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, and frannamax, that was a clip of a different show that catherine was in. My aunt didn't read the kids next door one but she read biz kid$. just to clear it up. N.I.M. (talk) 05:47, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Yep, you're correct. You said the KND bit was confirmed by your neighbour. For BK$ you are saying it is your aunt. Unfortunately, neither meets our standard as confirmation of a reliable source. If you can link to a video clip, please do so (email it please if it may be a copyvio, I can personally review it as a fair-use exemption to copyright law). We need hard confirmation of the credits, then everything should be fine. Until then it is unconfirmed speculation. Franamax (talk) 06:25, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Well, i just made a post on the biz kid$ website, and i'll get back to you if they reply to it. thanks. N.I.M. (talk) 00:06, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

That's cool, but you don't really need to keep us all in the loop. The subtext you seem to have missed in all the replies you've ever gotten (or not gotten) is that nobody else here is obsessed with this show. If you get a reply that satisfies your own curiosity then that's great, but an email from the show's PR department or whatever still can't be used in an article because it runs afoul of our rules against original research. Likewise, Catherine Thompson almost certainly doesn't meet Wikipedia's definition of notable because she hasn't had many roles to her credit and has had nothing significant written about her in reliable sources. In short, it's extremely unlikely than anyone is going to write an article about her and if they did, it's extremely unlikely that any such article would survive a deletion discussion. Your continued and constant barrage of posts about this show are starting to strain people's natural desire to help you and are pushing the bounds of what's acceptable on the reference desks. To be completely frank, and to echo a recommendation you've gotten earlier in this thread and elsewhere, please take your posts elsewhere. There is a forum about the show here; it's not active yet, but perhaps things will pick up once you get thing started. If that doesn't work out, you could try making a group on Facebook about the show or even start you own discussion forum from scratch. If you need more pointers on that last item, someone at the Computing RefDesk might be able to help you find a good place to start. Matt Deres (talk) 15:54, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I thought there may be a biz kid$ wikia but from an earlier search I didn't find anything, nor any particular active forum or whatever perhaps partially because the target audience of the show isn't always that active in such areas. However if you do prefer some sort of wiki there's no reason I know of that you can't start a biz kid$ wikia (or some other wiki host if you want). As Matt, me and others have said, if you need help setting this up this is something you can probably get help with here (but remember to have a little patience) Nil Einne (talk) 22:29, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

The reason i did all those posts about Catherine is because I have gotten messages that in some way state that the author doesn't believe me. I'm not obsessing, i just want all the info to be right, because i don't believe in misleading people. I'm going to try the links as sune as i can when my connection is better. and thanks for the links. I'll try those ideas out asap. In the mean time, what should i do if i get future messages about people not believing me? N.I.M. (talk) 22:33, 26 December 2010 (UTC) (no annoyance intended)

The article Biz Kid$ has a discussion page here that N.I.M. should continue to use and watch. This page is for discussion of the Reference Desks only. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:00, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Impertinent question at Science desk

I removed this "question" from the Science desk, and notified User:Kj650 that he/she should know better than to ask something like that here. It had been removed twice[10][11] before by others. WikiDao(talk) 23:20, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

I've indef blocked them. The user's total sum of activity has been trolling. Jehochman Talk 01:22, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Agreed and good riddance. --Mr.98 (talk) 01:37, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
The heading for this section sounds like it is about "nipple removal"—something I was almost too squeamish to read about. How about changing the title to "Impertinent question at Science desk"? Bus stop (talk) 01:57, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Lol. :) Crossed out the title to disambiguate it. WikiDao(talk) 02:42, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Ha, didn't get that reading first, but I see it now. The strikethrough didn't alter it on the Table of Contents, so I changed the position of removed to make it unambiguous. I assumed no one would mind.--el Aprel (facta-facienda) 04:49, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
Be aware that Kj650 has gone thru a lot of accounts, usually changing I think when it was clear they were outwearing their welcome (one early account was blocked although the blocked seemed slightly harsh to me from the info at the time of the block, AFAIK none of the others have been). So it's possible they may be back. Usually easily recognisable though Nil Einne (talk) 20:22, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
They're back - see the 2nd of January's questions. Brammers (talk/c) 11:01, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Done. N.I.M. (talk) 13:07, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

First

Happy new year! Comet Tuttle (talk) 08:08, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

You need a thick skin to ask questions at the ref desks

What do you want to discuss? The paper you just linked has a rather exhaustive and complete discussion of the properties of various phases of carbon. I am unclear what else you wish to learn... --[[User:Jayron32|<font

Quite aside from the innumerable excellent, prompt, wonderful answers I receive, I also get this sort of answer almost every time I pose a question. It's unhelpful, a smackdown, unnecessary - the wikipedian might put it any number of other ways - he/she might ask if the paper concerned is too technical for me, or doesn't provide the sort of information I'm looking for, etc etc. It's always mild, and the person, if challenged, can pretend that it was written in good faith, but I can't help but interpret it as slightly snotty. It doesn't bother me any more, but it used to, and must bother new users all the time. I'm not trying to villainise Jayron, who I'm sure is a cool person - it's just a tendency I've noticed over the years - something to add to the guidelines maybe?

Rant finished Adambrowne666 (talk) 05:37, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Look, what sort of question do you have? I am unclear as to what you would like to know. If you asked in a bit more detail, perhaps I can help answer it. It is my shortcomings for not being able to understand your question, so perhaps if you were a bit more detailed, it would help me to understand it. --Jayron32 06:05, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm seeing some tetchiness in your posts, Jayron. Maybe it could be called impatience, or mild intolerance. I refer to your accenting of "just linked", and now, starting a response with "Look, ...". It's not a particularly welcoming look. Best not to respond at all if it can't be overwhelmingly civil. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 06:19, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I could see how it could read that way. Yeah, that was probably uncalled for on my part. I was genuinely confused by how to answer his question. But I can see how my post reads as a bit uncivil. Good call. I will try not to do that again. --Jayron32 06:26, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Great. Want a tip? If you're unsure of what's being asked, or how to respond, it may be best to hold off responding at all. There are other volunteers here. Only if there's been no other response after a fair time, might you then seek clarity from the OP, because in that case it looks like nobody knows what the OP wants, and it's then down to them to express themselves more clearly if they want an answer. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 07:22, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
You are entirely right about that. I do have the habit of diving into questions without properly researching them first. Its a problem I clearly have, and you are quite right to call me on it. I can only say that I am sorry for causing such stress. I was clearly in the wrong, and its a problem I need to work on. I thank you for your patience and understanding in dealing with me. I am self-aware enough to know that this is a problem for me (sadly, apparently not self-aware enough to stop it from happening ahead of time!). Still, it is something I will work on in the future. Your advice is well received, and not wasted. I will take it to heart. --Jayron32 07:30, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
You're more than welcome. And next time I display my own miserable and pathetic human failings (not that yours are of that order), you have my permission to let me know as well. (You'll be waiting quite a while, but eventually ...  :) -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:13, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
But, Adambrowne666, you are a regular asker here, aren't you? Every effort should be made to be welcoming to newcomers (both to the RD and to WP), including sincerely the sort of abject self-abasement going on above on the part of regular RD responders, but you are a regular here, too. As experienced as you are with asking questions here, you should know by now that if you want to get the most out of the RD you should phrase your questions in as clear and directly-answerable a way as possible. I haven't had a problem with any of your questions myself, and I have seen Jayron32 get a little snotty or impatient (we all do, even me;) – but I don't see a problem with his response to your question as you have posted it on this page.
It's a good general point about RD operations in general, though. It'll serve as a reminder to everyone to make every effort to be as civil as possible, especially to newcomers. WikiDao(talk) 17:56, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
True, Dao - I was too lazy to point out that the article I linked to wasn't giving me what I wanted - should have done so. And I really didn't want to victimise Jayron - I saw in a previous question that his response was described as awesome, and I was impressed, too, with the fact that he used a diagram in his answer to me. Just thought it was a general tendency that irked me just enough to turn velleity to action... Adambrowne666 (talk) 07:02, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
If I might put forward a suggestion. We should be tolerant with question-askers. We should be generally polite with question-answerers, but we should feel free to point out where they are being wrong, impolite, or unhelpful. We can police question-answerers — we are all volunteers, and in theory we are all working towards the same end. We should not police question-answerers unless they are somehow abusing the system in a way which detracts from the overall system. Question-answerers should feel obligated to not answer something they know nothing about, or cannot answer without being unhelpful or angry. What distinguishes us from cesspools like WikiAnswers an Yahoo! Answers is not the management or quality of our questions, but the management and quality of our answers. There are almost no bad questions (though there are many that are outside our pre-stated scope); there are many bad answers. --Mr.98 (talk) 18:28, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
There are no stupid questions... it's not the question's fault after all... :)--Jayron32 18:31, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Because you can't see the writer's mannerisms or hear his or her tone of voice, it's very easy for people to misconstrue Internet communication as hostile when there is no such intent. So when you take part in something like the RDs, it sometimes helps to use more-polite language than you would in face-to-face communication. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 04:23, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Hence the exercise in apparent ritual self-abasement above. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 07:26, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
It set my sarcasm detectors off like anything. Internet tone of voice is problematic. 213.122.32.102 (talk) 13:33, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

There was nothing wrong with Jayron32's response that is complained about. It was honest ("I am unclear.."). it twice underscored a willingness to help ("What do you want...what else you wish to learn...") and points out a content that the OP may have missed. But there is much wrong with the rant that the OP has brought to this page. Its vocabulary is inflammatory, using the terms "smackdown", "snotty", "villainise[sic]. WP:AGF would demand an extraordinary effort here because of Adambrowne666's deceptful rhetoric. Why is the name Jayron32 alternately inflated to "the wikipedian" or diluted to "the person"? Why prescribe an unending "etc etc" stream of paraphrasings of what Jayron32 posted, that only demonstrate that Adambrowne666 understood what Jayron32 actually posted? Why try to preempt Jayron32's possible response as "pretending...good faith" which is a damning anticipation of bad faith? In return, what good faith lies in Adambrowne666's sweet adjectives "excellent, prompt, wonderful...mild" and tendentious exaggeration that "it...must bother new users all the time"? Jayron32 has responded to Adambrowne666's ranting with repeated apologies. I would not have done so because the complaint has no merit. To my mind it exemplifies PC's potential for mischief. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 14:33, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

I'm trying to figure out whether you've completely missed the point of this thread or if you're playfully illustrating how easily tone and subtlety can be lost in a text-only form of communication. Whichever, I agree with the general thrust of the original post in that, as experienced users of Wikipedia (and the greater internet), we sometimes forget how overwhelming and confusing it can be to research stuff. Many of us also have advanced education on various subjects and it's easy to forget that not everyone has had that experience; it's been said many times before that many articles here (science-based ones in particular) are completely opaque to the non-expert. We should keep that in mind before blithely sending someone off to RTFA. Yes, of course we should link to the relevant articles and yes, we should ask for the user to specify exactly what their question is, but with kid gloves. If someone is asking a question that we think is completely answered in the article, it's at least a decent bet that we're simply not reading the article the way a newcomer would. ISTR a question about a year ago that asked us for the atomic weight of... I'm struggling for specifics here, but I think it was iron or something. We told him to RTFA, but just look at it! The same thing that makes it a great article also makes it a poor one - so much detail. Someone who already knew the answer would say "Huh, the answer's right there; what's his problem?" IMO, that's the wrong stance to take. Matt Deres (talk) 15:12, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
I support what Matt Deres says. His post pinpoints the prime rôle of the Ref. Desks which is to help a questioner self find desired information. The quality of our service should be judged by the entire set of responses an OP receives, allowing that some responses will be more helpful than others. Let us take that view of the question about Iron, if Matt can provide the reference. If that OP asked for Iron's atomic weight, a reasonable answer is "Look at the table of General properties near the top of the article Iron". If the OP has difficulties there is also this simple article. However there should be no surprise that we refer to an article instead of just answering "It's 55.845g·mol−1" because we man a reference not an information desk. The case that prompted this thread is that the OP Adambrowne666 raised a question at the Science desk that invited discussion and speculation about a magic bathysphere. Jayron32 gave a good factual response that the OP acknowledged made a good point, but did not entertain the OP with speculation. We don't do that. Thereby in Adambrowne666's own words h/she had learned something h/she hadn't thought of, and could have departed with that net gain. What actually happened is that 34 minutes later the OP is back asking to "continue the discussion even so". As many as 6 more volunteers responded to that wish. Still not satisfied, and now asking whether the magic bathyscape should have infrared or sonar navigation, we see the OP complaining here about Jayron's second response. Look, the notion that we need a new guideline to protect OP's from being asked to clarify what more they wish to hear, or being mortally wounded by the diabolically insulting prefix "Look...", is a non-starter.
Drude
The OP subsequently raised the subject of Drude theory. Wikipedia has an article about it and the OP already knows of a reference which is [9] C. C. Bradley, T. E. Farber, E. G. Wilson, and J. M. Ziman, Phil Mag. 7:865 (1962). The optics physicist Paul Drude probably never envisioned what one would see from a magic bathysphere and I expect any such pondering would only have contributed to his suicidal state! Cuddlyable3 (talk) 12:56, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Reference Desks provide information that is referenced, not just the references themselves. Imagine someone asking about specific information regarding Larry Norman or Jiddu Krishnamurti and all you give them is one of those links? Or, which Shakespeare play features a storm, and you answer was Shakespeare? Not useful. Aaronite (talk) 17:13, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
It is silly to dismiss providing appropriate references as "not useful". The links Larry Norman and Jiddu Krishnamurti are to Wikipedia articles that are the good work of dozens of editors over several years. If the information wanted is in an article then it is appropriate to give the link to the article. To help, one can locate information within an article. Example question: Is it true that Larry Norman received a head injury in an aeroplane? Example answer: Yes, see Larry Norman#Plane accident (1978). It is easy but dangerous to encourage providing not links but "referenced information" on the Ref.Desks because there is no way of editing-by-consensus the answer that someone gives. It is now a blockable offence even to point out where a response is in substandard English! The Shakespearean example makes no sense because the proper response is this link The Tempest. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:29, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Let's try this out. Suppose I ask "In what years were there notable Japanese productions of The Tempest?" 81.131.26.124 (talk) 14:19, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
That is a question suited to the Entertainment Reference Desk. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:12, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
The answer is buried in the 8th paragraph of The_Tempest#20th_century_and_beyond. I wondered whether, when directing the questioner to that paragraph, you would also give the short answer "1988 and 1992", or whether that would be against your principles. 81.131.52.165 (talk) 06:14, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
You missed the point completely. You can point to the page, but you need to give an answer, not just a link. So to say, look at the "Iron" page, your answer is there, you serve them not at all. You don't know why they couldn't find it. I work in a library, and the simple fact is you need to hold people's hands a lot to get them what they need. I'm not saying don't link, I'm saying link, but link in context, with a referenced answer so they see how you got your answer. Like in school, show your work. Aaronite (talk) 01:12, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
The Reference Desks are not a school. Our purpose is not to provide tutorials nor to play at being tutors. The Wikipedia article Iron is one of the world's best resources to answer questions about Iron, and it would be neglect not to make use of it if the question is answered there. We are not examinees expected to demonstrate how we got an answer. We are expected to guide a questioner in the library who has already found the right "book", that's Wikipedia, to the "chapter and verse" that will help their quest. (Links to good sources outside Wikipedia are also okay.) Desk questions and responses are archived in the hope that they will have future reference value, and that cannot be said of your one-on-one hand holding which educates only one person. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:17, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
So you did completely miss the point. That's what I was saying. In your first post above, I got the impressino you were suggesting that we only provide the page, and no further information. I followed by suggesting that of course we should link to the page, but not just that, but explain what the answer was and where on the page we found it. I said nothing at all about not linking to pages. I think we are arguing the same point. 24.86.251.214 (talk) 23:11, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
We man a something desk, not a something else desk? Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to read those words, because you wrote them in italic type, and I'm not italic. 213.122.67.225 (talk) 10:46, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
@213.122.67.225, this may hurt a bit but I'm sure you'll be brave. Are you ready 213.122.67.225 ? O.K. then 213.122.67.225 (wrenches harshly) 213.122.67.225 ! See 213.122.67.225, now you're italic. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 12:46, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
I did put my original complaint too strongly, sorry, and have tried to make amends with Jayron. But if the way it was expressed was poor, my point still isn't necessarily wrong. I said most of the replies I get are excellent, and mean it - yes, I got 6 good replies; it's not true to say I was 'still not satisfied' - I was trying to continue the discussion. I'm always grateful and say so. But why can't I comment on what I feel is a tetchy response, if not for me, then for some imagined other who comes to the ref desks for the first time? Is it purely because of the way I said it? As for Jayron's response to which I took offence, yes, it was open to interpretation, and I might have been mistaken, but looking at Jayron's previous few responses to other OPs, I still feel somewhat justified in my remark, although I regret making him feel bad... And this stuff about my question about Drude. I don't understand. What are you saying? That I was barking up the wrong tree? That the question is so stupid it's offensive to the memory of Drude? I'm not sure. I'm sort of reeling. I'm confused and my feelings are hurt. Adambrowne666 (talk) 11:34, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
I spot three separate problems:
  1. The choice of phrase "continue the discussion" sounds very slightly like "begin a debate". You didn't mean that, of course, you just wanted more answers to questions, but the phrase might make people antsy.
  2. There's a certain prejudice on the science desk against anything which resembles an elaborate sci-fi fantasy (or the dreaded pseudoscience). Much cold water is defensively poured on these anti-didactic enemies besieging the castle of Science.
  3. You can't compare your question to a question posed by a timorous imagined other, because the responders know you and know you've got thick skin, as WikiDao pointed out. I'm not sure whether the corollary of Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers is really Wikipedia:Bite the established users, but it sounds logical. 213.122.45.58 (talk) 14:43, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
The pattern of behaviour is this.
  1. An OP carefully composes a question,
  2. One or more responses are given.
  3. This could happen within 34 minutes: (OP thinks) Now I have their attention and can make them teach me stuff. (OP says) I just thought of something more, it's what if..... and will you give me a tutorial on brain surgery/physico-optics/something else that takes years of study?
  4. (OP says) I'm not satisfied with the service and it's all Wikipedia's fault because it's supposed to make me smart. I'm not complaining for myself BUT what about all the poor other helpless victims of your tyrannical organisation? You're rude! I'm feeling hurt and unwanted. (Whiney rant continues...)
Irregardless, anyone including Adambrowne666 is welcome to submit a question such as a new one about the optical properties of carbon. The references given might be to articles about the Drude Sommerfeld model for which one needs a background knowledge of the Schrödinger equation. It helps us when you show what you do understand and what you have tried to understand. Just don't be a PITA about the physics being complicated. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 16:53, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Ok, all good - points taken - i also appreciate cuddlyable's demonstration of what rude really looks like. --adambrowne666
just to be clear, was I a PITA bread about the physics being complicated, or is it a general comment? If the former, how do I phrase it? (Adambrowne666) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.170.90.4 (talk) 23:11, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
I adjusted the indent above. Pita is Börek while PITA is an acronym. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:21, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
Perfectly Innocent Target of Animosity? 81.131.42.82 (talk) 06:16, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
One irksome thing on the ref desks, which occurs from time to time, is when the OP asks an extremely vaguely worded or otherwise ill-thought-out question, and then gets mad when questioned about it. If the OP has not communicated properly, he should try again rather than blaming the one who can't figure out what he's saying. The question that arises in that circumstance is, "You asked us a question. How badly do you want an answer?" ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:26, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
In short, we should all be saints. But all birthing to baby goats aside, I feel the OP should be willing to engage in ongoing dialogue, as I think Baseball Bugs points out above. It sometimes is called for that focus be established for the question asked, or the general area for which information is being requested. I think it would not be a bad idea if somewhere it was noted that it would be helpful if those posing questions try to make themselves available beyond the first question for follow-up dialogue. Bus stop (talk) 17:30, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the OP's need to engage in dialogue, just as they would at a "real" help desk. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:54, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
There's an endless battle between the questioners, who want to understand things with minimal effort, and the answerers, who want to explain things with minimal effort. Dialogue is the key, exactly. 213.122.23.52 (talk) 09:01, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
That supposed battle can end when the questioners and answerers recognize their shared interest in meeting a shared challenge. That challenge, put undiplomatically, is the ignorance of the questioner. A wise person admits to posessing a sizeable chunk of the ignorance available out there, without which there could be no joys of discovery and learning. To have helped another, even in a tiny measure, towards knowledge is to have shared in that joy. Regular volunteers of responsibly referenced answers at the ref. desks may come to know as their just reward the subtle joy of the Good Teacher. If there is criticism of an OP here then this is also the place to salute and thank the majority of OP's who brought their ignorance to us and accepted whatever help we could give. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 13:04, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
A good response to OP's whose questions seem sincere but either incomprehensible or not well thought out, is to ask questions back to them, such as, "Please explain further", or "Do you mean ____ ?" or "Have you read ____ ?" That's kind of a face-saving response. Now, if the user gets belligerent in response to a polite question or answer back, especially repeateadly, that's when the gloves come off and/or you box up the section and say, "See ya." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:41, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

There's a point that I want to focus on, and that is things such as telling someone to go to a sight and create an account to e-mail or contact someone who definately does have the answers, what if that's not always possible? For example, I have asked the question "who does the background singing in Club Can't Handle Me by David Guetta and Flo Rida?", and i have gotten answers such as "Go to twitter, create an account, and ask flo rida." Though that is a logical thing to do, there is the possibility that it isn't always 100% possible for some people just because it is possible for another person, right? I mention this to the responder, and he/she said that they were able to create an account at twitter. Then, i tried again, no luck. Would that be a rellavent point for this section, that not everyone is going to be able to do such things? I think that suggesting it is a good idea, but if made clear that the suggestion is impossible, that someone who is able to do said suggestion do it and tell the asker? It's not telling the responder to do all the work, it's asking for help because the asker is in some way unable to follow the suggestion, for various reasons. It's not laziness, rather, I would call it just being not able to "do it yourself." If you need more clairification on what i'm getting at, you may ask me. This does go with the types of answers one gets for questions, and i can see what the OP was getting at. I also see what the responder was getting at too, and comunication is the key to solving probloms. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 01:44, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Creating an account at Twitter is not known to be harder than creating one at Wikipedia. However perhaps it resists you trying to introduce a personal message inside your user name, or appending to it text addressed to a romanian singer[12]. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:35, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

The line, which was givven to me by a woman named Rosie hiebert, has nothing to do with it. I tried doing one called nim 203, nothing. It's not the user name, it's the e-mail address. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) , and for the record, i laugh at anyone who thinks that Inna would leave me a message on my talk page asking me not to sign like this: N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) , but i'm wrong, mabe she will, don't count on it though. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) —Preceding undated comment added 10:29, 5 January 2011 (UTC).


Question collapsed

I don't see why a perfectly straightforward question and answer should be collapsed [13] just because the questioner (apparently) is a known troll. Is this policy now? I know one shouldn't feed the trolls (though there is no mention of trolls in the Ref Desk Guidelines), but I can't keep track of all the trolls. Why aren't they just banned if they are not to ask questions? Collapsing the question and answer wouldn't seem to achieve much.--Shantavira|feed me 09:23, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

The fact that it's an apparently straightforward question is probably the reason it wasn't deleted altogether. Although just leaving the heading with everything else collapsed seems to be an odd thing to do. But this is a topic that has been repeatedly discussed here, and I don't think a definitive answer has been arrived it. It's kind of case-by-case. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I screwed up the collapse. (Formatting is HARD! Even now I can't see what I did wrong, or I'd fix it.) If you look at the revision previous to mine you can see that he was, at best, intentionally wasting our time. APL (talk) 18:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
The relevant "policy" would probably be WP:RBI, but as Bugs notes, it's a case-by-case thing. Some regular net-positive-contributors are aware of the two or three regular trolls (I think this one is Freewayguy, but not positive on that) and know where the activity is headed, so they nip it in the bud. Asking seemingly legit questions is part of the wedge that our trolls use, it has the benefit of bringing people to the defense of the question when they ignore the provenance of the questioner. It's not going away any time soon. The collapse looks like a good response. Sometimes it's better to just shrug and take it on faith that someone else knows more of the history and is dealing appropriately. Franamax (talk) 23:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

WP:RD/M in 2010

These are the top 20 users ranked by the number of references they provided.

 1 : 838      Cuddlyable3
 2 : 640      Nil Einne
 3 : 508      Jayron32
 4 : 374      Comet Tuttle
 5 : 346      Alansplodge
 6 : 333      Baseball Bugs
 7 : 314      Astronaut
 8 : 288      SteveBaker
 9 : 287      StuRat
 10 : 279     Mr.98
 11 : 276     WikiDao
 12 : 271     Dismas
 13 : 240     Finlay McWalter
 14 : 224     Marco polo
 15 : 189     Aspro
 16 : 180     Ghmyrtle
 17 : 171     DRosenbach
 18 : 170     Edison
 19 : 167     BrainyBabe
 20 : 163     Buddy431

Cuddlyable3 (talk) 02:43, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Discussion

This was calculated how? 82.44.55.25 (talk) 10:37, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Don't see why you're using the number of references provided as some kind of performance indicator. It's possible to give a perfectly good answer to an RD question without giving references, you know. --Viennese Waltz 11:24, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Cuddly didn't say it was a performance indicator. It's still a reasonable question why anyone would want such a list. And what am I to make of the 200 users who "provided 0 references" (whatever that means)? I can think of a few thousand more users who provided 0 references. And how indeed did Cuddly determine what constitutes a reference? I notice that User:schyler has provided 0 references. Say what you will of schyler's JW POV (this is the only reason why I remember him), but he often provides Biblical and other references in his answers. He even started a thread here complaining about people who respond without references. Staecker (talk) 13:43, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, and now I see that Schyler is on the list twice, once with 0 and once with 21. So you can ignore some of what I just said. Staecker (talk) 13:46, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I would say the phrase "top 20 users" makes it pretty clear that C3 regards this as a performance indicator. What I'm wondering is if C3 would have bothered making and posting this list if No.1 had been a different editor. --Viennese Waltz 14:01, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for compiling those numbers, Cuddlyable3, and congratulations to my fellow top-11 Misc-desk reference-providers! (Surprised to find myself at 11 – I've only been active since about last September!)
How did you arrive at those numbers? Are you counting both internal and external links as "references"? I'd be interested to see what "Links/answer" works out to, too. WikiDao 14:17, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
According to this count, I have 227 Misc desk edits total, so about 1.22 "references"/"answer". WikiDao 14:28, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Thank you all 1041 users who together provided 21294 (detected) posts at the Misc. Ref Desk in 2010. The number of references given is an objective performance measure while the quality of your answers is incalculable. For example, length would not be a useful measure. (@Viennese Waltz). I wrote an algorithm to find the rankings; it comprises a parser and a Bubble sort. (@82.44.55.25) It is version 1 and shows some weaknesses. For example, it did not detect the two spellings of schyler. (@Staecker) and will likely miss Biblical references and users who didn't sign. I count both Wikipedia and external references equally. (@Wiki Dao) Questioners are counted like responders, though they seldom show references. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 15:38, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

You didn't address my point. Why do you think the number of references given is an objective performance measure? --Viennese Waltz 15:45, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
objective adj based only on facts and not influenced by personal feelings or beliefs, quantifiable arithmetically. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 15:52, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I know what objective means. Perhaps I should have made myself clearer. You seem to be working on the assumption that an answer – let us assume a correct answer – which provides references is automatically better than a correct answer which doesn't. It's that assumption which I am questioning. And what about a reference that leads to the wrong answer? As far as I can tell, such answers would be counted as a plus point in your schema. --Viennese Waltz 15:56, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with that assumption, only excepting answers that are so evident that a reference cannot add much. You are right that my algorithm cannot distinguish between a reliable and an unreliable reference. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 16:11, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I would also point out that this "ranking" is un-normalized - I think it would be reasonable to expect it to be normalized by number of edits, or by number of questions addressed, or something like that. Also, I am not sure the title is correct: perhaps this should be a ranking of contributors based on number of links provided. I assume Cuddlyable3 used some type of parser script to count links. But, this is flawed: what about references that are not hyperlinks? (I often cite textbooks and academic papers from my library or personal collection, without always linking to any web resources). What about hyperlinks that are not references? Whatever method Cuddlyable used to determine whether a hyperlink is the same as a reference needs to be explained (or was it implicitly assumed that they are identical?) Furthermore, not all references are a good thing: I can reference information from Time Cube and I can even cite my source in proper MLA Style, but referencing that source will not improve the quality of a response to almost any science question. Cuddlyable: if you want us to consider this list any further, you need to explain the method(s) you used to compile it. Only then can we assess any merit or meaning that the ranking has. Otherwise, this ranking serves to encourage the undesirable Wikipedia:OVERLINK strategy. Nimur (talk) 16:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
My interpretation of Cuddlyable3's comment above is that he is using a raw count of wikilinks plus external links, though I would welcome correction or confirmation. If that is the case, I am inclined to agree with the noted caveats regarding response quality as well as offline references. One could very quickly (and spuriously) bolster one's 'score' by gratuitous overlinking — a practice which I do see from time to time, and which often degrades the quality of one's answer by adding distracting and irrelevant links. Not every noun needs a wikilink; our readers aren't idiots. Obviously, this sort of count also rewards the editors who waste the time of readers with jokes: relatively obscure jokes which require links for explanation; jokes involving 'Easter egg' links and 'funny' pipes; and gags involving offsite links to amusing media or unusual link text. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 16:59, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't see that a mere list really "rewards" anything, but "time-wasting"[14]? Correct me if I'm wrong: what we should be trying to do here is provide references that might be in some way informative to the people asking questions. How would doing so promote "time-wasting"? If responders are giving a lot of spurious guideline-violating links in their answers (in the hope of moving up on Cuddlyable3's list, or for whatever other reason there might be for doing that) that should be specifically addressed here or at their talk page. Otherwise, it ought to be assumed that the links being counted were part of acceptable RD responses and were generally considered useful/interesting/relevant enough not to have been removed. WikiDao 17:39, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Thanks again for posting this, cuddlyable3. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't get the impression that you posted it here for us to "consider" as if you are proposing it somehow be regarded as an Official Assessment of Reference Desk Performance(tm) or something. The rest of y'all should just relax. It's just kind of interesting as a very rough "measure" of "references" (= "links") provided by Reference Desk contributors. WikiDao 17:07, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Nil Nimur (and my own previous comment), though, that a more informative number would be "links" per response. WikiDao 17:19, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Also, maybe it would have been best to have put the results somewhere in your own userspace, and just linked to that here. 27,000 characters is quite a huge talk-page post! WikiDao 17:48, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Links per response is calculable but is a poorer means of ranking because 1) a single answer that contains one link would give the poster a higher rank than a hard-working poster of hundreds of answers of which only a portion have links, and 2) volunteers who answer questions and further grant us the blessing of small jokes in small font would suffer Demotion for their jocularity. While imperfect, I believe the ranking by accumulated references given (meaning every item inside square braces [ and ] except the user name) has a correlation with both the effort volunteered to the desk and the usefulness of the service the desk provides. Block-happy mopsters can apply simplistic assumptions to estimate from the table the negative impact on the desk when a contributor is blocked for a stated period. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:30, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
You agree with me? My first comment to this thread was below and came after your response (I'm pretty sure of this because I noticed someone mention my name) Nil Einne (talk) 18:48, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Oops, sorry Nil, I meant I agree with Nimur's comment above:"I would also point out that this "ranking" is un-normalized - I think it would be reasonable to expect it to be normalized by number of edits, or by number of questions addressed". I do, however, also generally agree with what you've said in this thread, too. :) WikiDao 20:59, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Regarding the "version 1" nature of the parser: I note that it misses me -- perhaps because my sig is strictly a user talk link? I imagine there are a few other non-conventional sigs that get missed. Anyway, should you continue developing this, you may want to broaden the user recognition. Searching backwards from a timestamp to find a user name seems one such option. — Lomn 18:32, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Version 1 missed the 125 references that you posted. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 20:24, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
How was this list collated? I mean to ask, what software tools were used and how were they applied? How labor intensive is your process? Could it easily be applied to the other desks?
Is your code available somewhere? No offense, but when an 'objective measure of performance' lists the creator of the measure in the #1 slot, I like to run the data myself.
A few things strike me as interesting. First, the impressively high number of references total. Secondly that SteveBaker wound up in the top ten even with months on hiatus!
I have to say I'm also confused by the number of people arguing that a (properly computed) reference count would not be an "objective measure" of reference desk performance. I can't see how it wouldn't be by any reasonable definition of "objective measure" or "reference desk". APL (talk) 19:09, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, and despite your (CA3's) reasoning above, I'd still like to see the ranking of refs-per-response if possible, for all the desks (maybe of just the top-300 references providers?). (Is there a consensus that Cuddlyable3's userspace, or heck even mine if you want, is the best place for those results, should CA3 or someone else eventually crank that out? Or would perhaps an RD subpage be better, if there's general acceptance/recognition of their validity/usefulness here?). WikiDao 19:44, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
How does one usually get the data to do this sort of thing? I mean, it's all there in the archives, but I'm buggered if I'm going to go through all 2555 (= 365 * 7) archive pages and copy and paste into text files. 81.131.0.75 (talk) 20:26, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Here's another thing that strikes me : Is 1031 really an accurate count of all users who post to the reference desk? That number is vanishingly small compared to the encyclopedia's total user base. APL (talk) 19:18, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Oh, of course not. There are IP users as well. APL (talk) 19:27, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

I fail to see the point of this list. Many of us work more on some desks than on others. The one I work on most is the language desk. It's hard to give a reference when someone asks 'what does this mean?'. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 19:58, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

That's easy to fix. Just link every single word of each of your answers to the Wiktionary link for that word. Anyway, yes; and on the Computing desk, too, where you can't find a reference to tell people to drag the thingie down to the bottom of the screen and then click Cancel. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm just seeing it as sort of interesting, no big deal. What I don't see is why so many people seem to have a problem with it (I mean with having a list at all, as opposed to specific problems with it eg. it's not counting Lomn). WikiDao 20:29, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Some people enjoy mildly relevant statistics. It's not an attempt to rank people from best to worst nor to vote people off the island. APL (talk) 20:33, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
Despite Cuddlyable3's objections to the "links per answer" stat, I think "links per answer" is more valuable than "total number of links" for obvious reasons, though both are valuable; probably in any tabulation, both stats should be shown. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:54, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
The listing will be objective once the methodology is displayed. This could be done by posting the script, or at the very least explaining the script. At present, we must speculate on many details. Nimur (talk) 22:21, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm with WikiDao and APL. While this is almost surely a flawed way to examine contributions, I'm not sure I see a need for open hostility. Yes, it's trivial, but frankly I find it much more interesting and engaging than our semi-regular re-hash of the usual gripes the talk page has been plagued with (in the past; things have been pretty quiet lately - mirabile dictu). One thing I was wondering was how the links included in the signatures were accounted for. For example, if I made fifty posts, you could remove a hundred wiki-links from my "count" because my signature contains a link to my userpage and my talk page, but if User:CambridgeBayWeather made fifty posts, you'd have to remove one hundred and fifty links because his signature includes a link to his contributions page. Other users may have even more links in their signature. Or were signatures (or wikilinks to user-space) automatically removed somehow? While I wouldn't want to see us get "hung up" on climbing the ranks, I found the list food for thought. I've been making a very conscious effort over the last 6-8 months to include more references in my replies, so it's a topic I'm interested in. YMMV, of course. Matt Deres (talk) 23:49, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
I think a large portion of the raised eyebrows/hostility is the fact that it ranks the list creator in first place. This immediately leads the skeptical to question if there wasn't some ulterior motive behind posting the list. Or if not ulterior motive, at least implicit or explicit bias in the methodology. I doubt as much angst would have been shown if Cuddlyable3 was ranked #9. - BTW, you can deal with most signatures by ignoring all Wikilinks to non-main namespaces. That said, I think a better metric instead of "number of references" would be "number of posts with references", which would cut down on overcounting posts which wikilink every other word, even when not strictly necessary. -- 174.31.207.144 (talk) 03:56, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I haven't really read the rest of discussion but I agree the list doesn't really say much in itself but unless people begin to be criticised (or whatever) because of where they fall in the list there's no real need for great hostility. As has also been noted, even though Cuddlyable3 may not have intended it, any list which ranks the creator as number 1 is always going to raise eyebrows. A better idea may have been to publish the algorithm but not the list mentioning that it does rank you as number 1 but you didn't set it up to do so (presuming this is the case) and allow someone else to post the list if they desire. In my case, I may have been high but my posts tend to be long so probably require more references. Besides that I don't tend to be that selective, if I come across 3 results in a search which say similar things but look like they say something else I will usually link to all 3 (or in some cases I may link to multiple links to demonstrate it isn't just one oddball that says something). As others have noted, some questions like stuff on the computing desk as well as some of Chemicalinterest's questions for example are not really asking for refs. There is also a degree of 'do the refs matter'? I do tend to look for some ref even if I'm resonably sure of the answer just so I can be more confident I'm correct, but this can include forum posts of random websites which aren't even close to WP:RS. One or more random people on other websites or forums aren't necessarily any better then one or two wikipedians who are confident enough in their answers that they don't feel the need to provide a ref, they could be worse. Nil Einne (talk) 11:15, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Then there is still the question of why we should have this? Until this is answered, I would like to remain slightly skeptical of the idea. Comet Tuttle mentioned in small print that people on the language desk could provide references to every single word we translate, thus providing references, and boosting our 'sales figures', so to speak. We would not do this, though, because it's way too much unnecessary work turning a 2 minute answer into a 20 minute edit. Thing is, this can very easily be manipulated by anyone who wanted to get into a ranking war with someone else, or who just wanted to boost their own ranking, simply by adding as many wiktionary links to words as possible. It's also been mentioned above that some references provided may be not reliable sources, or may even have been put in in small print as part of a joke or tongue-in-cheek answer, or even off-topic. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 13:51, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Some links may be on-topic and of high quality, but not answer the question. Other times, an article which answers the question precisely has already been visited by the questioner, who couldn't interpret it, and doesn't want to be linked to it again. 213.122.31.229 (talk) 14:53, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Should the RD be renamed the "Answer Desk" then, given all the complaints above about why counting references-provided at the Reference desk is not a useful measure of much of anything at the Reference desk?
Note also that it is a within-desk comparison between contributors to individual desks; some of the issues mentioned above wash out because of that. You "may have been high," Nil? God forbid anyone edit-under-the-influence around here! ;) WikiDao 15:34, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
We don't actually have a desk, either. Not an actual desk as such. Perhaps rename these pages the Rose? I've got a feeling that might be even more misleading than "Reference Desk", though, so let's make the best of a bad job and leave the name alone. Reference desk says we provide expertise (ahem) on multiple kinds of information from multiple sources, as well as direction to library materials, here at our imaginary public service counter. I find the "diagnosing and treating information deficiencies" analogy really cute, by the way. We could be the Uncertainty Clinic? The lack of interaction is what bugs me about an emphasis on giving references. 213.122.31.229 (talk) 16:30, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, KageTora, I think the "why" is addressed by C3's comment -- regarding "block-happy mopsters" who, by implication, ought not block contributors atop the list -- midway through this thread. C3's quite good about providing informative, well-referenced answers here when he's not snarking about grammer, an spellign. I wish he'd let the latter issue drop quietly. — Lomn 15:41, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Right, so this has nothing to do with C3 himself being blocked recently for three days in October (?) (despite being No.1 on the list)? My skepticism for this scheme, by the way, has nothing to do with whether the creator (or anyone else) has been blocked in the past - I feel I should make that clear. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 16:09, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Haha "spellign".
Oh yea! I'd forgotten all that its/it's insanity was from C3. But whatever motives crazy or otherwise C3 may have had for generating this data, I would like to (again) answer KageTora's question "why we should have this?" :
Because it's fun. Lighten up. Some people love statistics. APL (talk) 15:51, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I never said I was against it, per se. I was just highlighting a few criticisms I have with the idea. If people are happy with it, then fire away. Just bear in mind, it doesn't represent quality, but quantity of links. Sort of reminds me of Yahoo! Answers, where people get points just for answering a question, whether the answer is right or not (or even on topic or not). --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 16:09, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
No comment on "why" the list was generated, but I have to agree with others that a simple list of the number of links provided doesn't necessarily reflect the content of contributions, but perhaps more of the style of different contributors. When I read through responses with an eye toward judging both the quantity and quality (here meaning how well a given link answers the OP's question, and ignoring those responses that are entirely commentary or jokes) I definitely get the impression that some respondents give terse answers with a single link or sometimes a couple of links, others give long responses with sometimes few or no links, some give responses that are chock full of links (some of which are directly related to the question and others which are decidedly irrelevant). The simple metric of "number of links per year" could thus indicate many different things for different responders. More useful might be "number of links per response," or "number of links per letter of total text," or some other appropriate denominator. Of course, even then the statistics could be gamed so that a given contributor was perceived as having greater contributions than others (this is a problem with ranking scientific journals using impact factor, for example). Yes, APL, it's fun to generate statistics, but one can easily see this particular metric entering the realm of "lies, damn lies, and statistics". --- Medical geneticist (talk) 16:20, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Another thing worth mentioning, is that we are stronger the more diverse we are. It is precisely because we have a mix of talkative and terse, generalists and specialists, diggers of knowledge and holders of knowledge, people who love sharing knowledge they just discovered, people who like to share their experience and expertise. The Miscellaneous desk would be poorer without the answers from the foo-ologist who only answers the rare questions within her field, but does so expertly, and it would be poorer without the generalist who covers a lot of ground explaining less specialized questions in a helpful and understandable way. No matter how we try to quantify contributions by editor, including a voting-system, the results completely ignore the synergetic effects of our diversity. ---Sluzzelin talk 16:38, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
(EC) Very nicely put, and sums the issue up 100%, Sluzzelin. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 16:42, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Hear, hear. WikiDao 21:06, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

I show the parser state machine here. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 17:50, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

How would you feel about sharing your implementation of that? WikiDao 02:52, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I welcome anyone who is disposed to write code for it on the description page and shall help there if I can. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 14:57, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
To clarify — does that mean that yes, you do have the code, and no, you're not going to post it — but you might give hints if someone else wants to reinvent your wheel? TenOfAllTrades(talk) 15:09, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I actually considered implementing something along the lines of a general-purpose Wikipedia Parser in preparation for the keynote speech at San Francisco Ten / West Coast WikiCon. The keynote speech will be "Exploratory Parsing of Semi-Structured Text (or, how to read all of wikipedia in 5 seconds for a useful definition of read.)" presented by Ward Cunningham. Unfortunately, I am short of time this week so I'm not sure I can code or even design anything, but I'll give it a shot. Now, if only user-contributions were available in some form of relational database format so I wouldn't have to waste my time with text-parsing... then I could focus more engineering-effort on semantic analysis... Nimur (talk) 15:17, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Geez, if only, like here. ;) Franamax (talk) 22:31, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
It might take longer than 5 seconds. Much depends on what you want to parse since "general-purpose" is vague. One way to access Wikipedia material is to put the URL for an Edit screen in a browser and (in IE) View source. After name="wpTextbox1"> (at line 162 in the above example) come the contributions much as they were entered. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 16:59, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Uhm, Cuddlyable3, could you at least tell us why you're so reluctant to hand over your code, or even to discuss the tools you used to create this? Your flowchart is interesting, but what did you use to make your computer do this? A perl script? An MS Word macro? Curious minds want to know. I'm sure you see why this unusual reticence does not inspire confidence in a list where you came out on top? APL (talk) 15:41, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I wonder what it was about 84.56.141.252's only contribution (a question about how a lesbian should have sex with a transsexual) which got it on the list. I suspect it's because the post was unsigned, causing a link to unsigned. Where are all the other fine IP contributions with links in, though (like nearly all of mine, under the various rotating addresses British Telecom gives me)? 213.122.32.239 (talk) 16:48, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
A user name extracting process has difficulty with rotating IP contributors, which is also Wikipedia's problem when trying to block. Version 1 neglects IPs and left hundreds of (doubtless fine) IP contributors unranked. The alleged confused lesbian IP 84.56.141.252 is a troll who got lucky as a false positive. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 01:51, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, I've been playing with Python all day, and I think my version is working. I can now reveal the following exciting information about Alansplodge's behaviour last January:
Total links: 109
External: 32
Internal: 77
Questions answered: 59
Total posts: 79
Now it's just a matter of downloading all the months (on my dial-up connection, only got as far as May at the moment) and joining the resulting files together. (I think the result will be over 84 megabytes, but I guess that's OK.) 213.122.31.166 (talk) 02:53, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Header added for super-terrific tables

I added a header to help navigation. 86.163.214.50 (talk) 00:41, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Right then:
I arbitrarily excluded users who answered less than ten questions in the year. Links are either links to article space or to external sites. I'll post my code somewhere when I've recovered. Edit: here here. 213.122.37.239 (talk) 10:54, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Very cool. Thanks, 213.122! All very interesting. WikiDao 14:12, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes. The whole Misc. desk for 2010 was under 10.6 Mbyte. I wonder what happened on September 28. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 17:21, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean. 10.6 MB doesn't seem an excessively small share of the total (which came to 78.6 MB, in the end). I get the impression the science desk is the biggest (though I exported the desks one month at a time, not one desk at a time). The hole in the misc desk archive on September 28 is a freakish thing, it's true. 213.122.6.55 (talk) 22:21, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
No new sections is what happened. I love these tables, and I especially love the 'favourite link' column ;) 86.163.214.50 (talk) 00:41, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
It would have been massively simpler if the XML tagged questions, usernames and posts. 213.122.6.55 (talk) 21:53, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  • Since that pastebin I used back in January appears to have died, I found another one to put my script in, for the curious: [15] (and because of "show your work"). 213.122.0.29 (talk) 22:35, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Request for medical advice removed

In this edit, I removed a request for medical advice from RD/Misc. The original post described a symptom experienced by the OP (extreme pain in both wrists) and sought to know whether or not his pain had been caused by exposure to cold.

WikiDao initially placed a templated box on the thread reminding the OP that we cannot offer this sort of diagnostic advice on the Ref Desk; the OP insisted he wasn't seeking medical advice, and then a couple of editors took it upon themselves to suggest diagnoses ranging from incidental injury during sleep to arthritis.

At that point, I removed the thread in its entirety, following our instructions at WP:RD/G. The reason why I removed the entire thread (and the reason why our guidelines recommend that) is because templated warnings and polite requests not to offer medical advice just don't work consistently. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 17:18, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

This user is doing POV as well, as he/she sees it as medical advice. I can ask my friend Kerri, who's mom is a doctor, and she can determine whether it was medical advice. Oh, 10 of all traids has the power of mind control, he has come from space from the planet traidinia to go on wikipedia and read the edits of users, to locate those users and read their minds. Is there some alien organization going on or is 10 of all traids just trying to be over-authoritative. Whichever the case, the action of collapsing it was slightly better, but still citing that question as seaking medical advice is absolute, complete and in every way plozibal to man kind utter bullshit. This is because 10 of all traids, unless i'm wrong, is not the mind-reading alien from far away that i mentioned. I suggest before anyone dares ding me for disorderly uncivil talk, to try to get the meaning in this. I've delt with similar situations, and don't want warmongers to win. WARMONGA! (kim possible 406, Warmonga) N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 17:30, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I'd suggest you read the Reference Desk Guidelines and then search the Discussion archives for the many many many discussions regarding medical (dental, legal, veterinary ...) advice. --LarryMac | Talk 17:35, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
No need to ask your friend's mother -- we have our own guidelines for that. It really is irrelevant what your friend's mother thinks, even if she is a doctor. Also, you should note that the term "advice" does not apply only to "what should I do" questions but also "what could this symptom be caused by" questions. Either way, it is inappropriate for us to provide a diagnosis, even when carefully phrased as "I'm not a doctor, but your symptoms could be caused by X, even though I really can't say for sure and it might be something more serious, so you should really ask a doctor if you are concerned about it." --- Medical geneticist (talk) 17:40, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
N.I.M., I have had disagreement with TenOfAllTrades but in no way is it acceptable here to mock this user with rant about mind control, etc. Please spell user names correctly when you refer to them, or show a link to them as I did here. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 17:45, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm just spelling it how my screen reader says it, it says "tr-ay-dz" , which makes me think it is traids. What i ment by the mind reading comment is that that user does not have the power of mind control. And the maker of the guide lines better proove to be more reliable then Elenore Jones. I've read them and they need a little bit of revision. I think the question was "does the expression chilled to the bone mean that you have pain in the wrists?" The answer would be no, you probibly just slept on it wrong. I'm not diagnosing, and i don't give the slightest care what the guidelines call it. The guidelines can call florida a state consisting of people who came to earth in UFOs from sector 14 of the alpha quadrant, in the floridinia galaxy, but that doesn't make it true. so, maybe revise the guidelines a little, that would help clear up confusions, because only the asker knows exactly what they mean, unless the user i mentioned (don't want to spell it wrong again), is the alien who can read minds. Sinse he/she's not, it's not fair to make assumtions. I am not trying to warmonger, but, it is a valid point to address. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 17:54, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

N.I.M., you might benefit from reading our guidelines at WP:POINT as well. Even if you have a legitimate complaint, your argument is lost amidst your disruptive and incoherent personal attack. The removal of the entire thread was justified, and is the normal course of action for medical advice threads. Nimur (talk) 18:24, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
As usual, you may need to get some training in using your screenreader. Using the same one you continually claim to use, it says "Ten-Oh-fall-trades". Even at the highest readback speed, it says "Ten-fall-trays". Further, there is no need to try to figure out what the spelling is. You have two options. You can run character by character over the text - which spells it out. It is easier to just select the name and copy so you can paste it. This is why I find it very difficult to accept that you are using a screenreader at all. -- kainaw 18:42, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I know that, but it's legit. and the personal attack? no. i'm mearly pointing out that it is impossible for you guys to tell what the person intended when they wrote that thread, because mindreading is impossible. You can't call that a personal attack because i'm saying that they are not a mind reading alien, so they can't tell what the person is intending. I feel that i have to be redundant to make you guys understand. This is harder then trying to explain something to a person who doesn't know english, because i'm trying to get my point across, but you guys keep on trying to see stuff against me. Look at my mesages previous, next reply better have something positive about what i said, and i mean it. I'm not kidding at all when i say this, I'll believe that it is a medical request when i get a message on my talk page from the lady who voices Warmonga on Kim Possible. I mean that. Find something positive about what i said, then reply. I'm tired of all of you trying to find negative and violations in what i say. If it is a medical request, you better find the lady who voices Warmonga in Kim Possible and see if she'll leave me a message on my talkpage. Reason: the whole mind-reading thing again. I chose this lady because it is impossible for her to find my talk page, unless she knows about it. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 18:56, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

First of all, the deleted question asked us to diagnose what caused the pain in her wrists. You know that, but you just want to start a fight so you can be more of a troll. Second, nobody in the entire world actually cares who voices Warmonga except you. Even the person who voices Warmonga doesn't care. Third, if everyone is opposed to what you are doing, you are obviously doing something wrong. Fourth, I pointed out your inconsistency in what you have stated. You repeatedly contradict yourself in an attempt to get sympathy for a disability which, by the evidence given, you do not have - which is highly offensive to those who are truly disabled. The evidence shows that you are nothing more than a troll who lies about having a disability, and asks pointless questions about voices this and that just to be annoying. Therefore, your claim that this question is not a request for medical advice isn't worth listening to. -- kainaw 19:16, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Look, both of you retreat to neutral corners. This isn't a productive discussion; NIM needs to back down on the medical advice issue, and kainaw needs to back off on the troll and untruthfulness accusations. Just let it all drop and stop interacting. Seriously. --Jayron32 19:22, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
I apologise to N.I.M. for supposing that perfect spelling is easy for him if he uses some kind of audio screen reader. I didn't know this. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 09:08, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, and sorry for appearing rude, I in no way intend to wormonger nor do i want to hurt feelings. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 09:34, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

"I'll believe that it is a medical request when i get a message on my talk page from the lady who voices Warmonga on Kim Possible." Don't be such a child. If you do something wrong, we ask you to stop. Praying for divine intervention ... or praying for voice actress intervention, does not make an intelligent argument at all.
What if an administrator said "I'm going to ban N.I.M. from Wikipedia unless some voice actress posts on my talk and tells me not to." That would make just as much sense as that point you're trying to make here, and would, as far as I'm concerned, be an experiment worth trying. APL (talk) 16:12, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
I thought that somewhat enigmatic statement about the voice actress was a variation on the theme of "when hell freezes over", equivalent to saying "it's highly unlikely that this will ever happen". 213.122.57.15 (talk) 18:51, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
If so, It's a very convoluted way of saying it. APL (talk) 19:25, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
TOAT was correct to remove the question, because it's clearly asking for a medical opinion, despite the OP's denial of same. Wrist pain could be caused by any number of things, so the only possible valid answer is, "See a doctor". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:08, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
(e/c) N.I.M, just for clarity, when a thread is dubbed a "request for medical advice" by an editor, it does not actually mean that the asker really intended in their heart and soul to request medical advice. It only means that the reader has seen a question sufficiently indistingushable from such a request as to be considered the same thing. No we are not mind-readers, we judge actions and outcomes. For instance, if I walk into a bank holding a gun and demand all the money, no matter how often I say "I'm NOT robbing this bank", I think you would agree with almost everyone else that I am indeed trying to rob the bank, not just asking for a loan. What appears to have actually tipped the balance in that thread was that you (and the next respondent) did offer a specific set of medical diagnoses, and by doing so satisfied "Kainaw's criteria" on what constitutes a request for medical advice. Before that the responses were sufficiently general to avoid the potential problem. Your reliance on the OP's statement that it was not a request is not sufficient to allow you to go on to actually offer a diagnosis. And of course edit-warring to restore your own post is not on, it would have been much better if you'd come here first or discussed the removal directly with the editor who removed it, on their talk page. Franamax (talk) 02:19, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Relevent reading here for ALL involved is Wikipedia:How many legs does a horse have?. Come back after reading that if anyone has any questions... --Jayron32 02:38, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
A masterful use of suspense, but I was still left wondering how many legs that horse actually had. Is that going to be revealed next season? :) Franamax (talk) 03:48, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
"It was weak. I was never interested. Although the part of the father was played with gusto and verve, and the horse had a delightful cameo role." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:57, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Honest to God, Jayron, I laughed until I cried! That is the most hilarious WP page I've seen in a while. WikiDao 14:23, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Clip clop clip crap. and just crappy. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 17:47, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
What I laughed at most was, "THERE! Now the horse has no legs!!!" Mwah-ha-ha-ha! (And it's what I have felt like doing a couple of times now here...;) WikiDao 18:01, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
A possible corollary could be, "A rose by any other name would still smell just as odorless if it came from a grocery store." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:22, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

There was something odd about the original question in that it seemed to place some emphasis on the location, which I can't remember right now. Suggestions of cold combined with a mystery location got me interested beyond what might be a normal medical question. HiLo48 (talk) 11:14, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Ok, clairification 1.0 on the voice actrice thing. I said that i'll believe it is medical advice when the voice of Warmonga on Kim Possible (Kerri Kenney i believe), posts on my talk page, because that is a vary unlikely event You were right about the variation on the "Hell freezes over" thing, good. I'm making the same judgement and found that it didn't look like medical advice, more like a "does being chilled to the bone mean that you have pain due to cold?" kind of thing. It looked more like clairification on a figure of speach rather than medical advice. She does ask if that's what chilled to the bone means, and by the way, no. Chilled to the bone is a figure of speach meaning vary cold, to the point where it feels like you are cold inside right down to the bone, when really, your body temperature is the same. That's why it would take a miricle like that to convince me that it is medical advice. I realize the intention thing, but now you know why i still feel justified to say that it is not a medical advice question. No warmongering was intended for this, thanks. Regards, N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 11:37, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

The OP said, "I woke in the middle of the night to extreme pain in my wrists. I took some advil and the pain has subsided. I just want to know what causes this." How is that not a request for a medical opinion? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:17, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I can't see the harm in anything that took place in that diff, other than that it's against policy. The first reply was about idioms, the second pointed out that an absurd idea was absurd, the last two offered diagnoses heavily swaddled in "I can't really be sure" and "you should ask a doctor for a reliable opinion". The OP claimed to be asking out of idle curiosity in both the original post and in a reply, and was well aware in advance of the likelihood of being advised to see a doctor. So the reason for removing the post is pure policy. On the whole I am not a fan of slippery slope arguments. Maybe I should regard the argument for removing the post as one of those, or maybe following policy for form's sake is a vital thing to do. Dunno really. 213.122.37.239 (talk) 12:46, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
The policy is the policy, formed by many users over many years. However, there is always a new user who vehemently disagrees with the policy and incorrectly assumes that it was formed by just one or two people based on their personal opinion (just see my posts on this topic about 4 years ago). So, if someone doesn't like the policy, arguing about a particular question is a waste of time. Instead, a discussion of the policy is required. Of course, trying to change something that has been discussed and formed over many years will be rather difficult. -- kainaw 13:48, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
This one was open-and-shut. I think everything necessary to say/do about it has now been done/said. It can take a while to understand how to work with this issue at the RDs. NIM just didn't know. NIM: now you know. This is the consensus view. Let's move on. WikiDao 14:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Impossible. We may not dismiss the mystery of the location on the two dimensional plane relative to an infinitely-extending one-dimensional figure that has no curvature of a romainian songstress which has hardly been penetrated. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:00, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Whoa! I lost my way while reading your post and only caught the end as "...a romainian songstress which has hardly been penetrated" and was ready to jump all over you for a rather massive BLP violation. Matt Deres (talk) 00:32, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Please look before you leap. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 02:10, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I guess the policy is really a guideline, sorry for using the wrong term. 213.122.15.44 (talk) 23:31, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Removed post by N.I.M. as policy violation. Franamax (talk) 05:49, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Cuddlyable3 see your my talk page for discussion about my line givven by Mrs. H, and Frannamax, see my talk page for message from Mrs. H herself, who used my computer with my permission to post a message. She forgot to sign, and it's under my former IP. N.I.M. (talk) (redacted) 13:55, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Deleted question

I went ahead and deleted the question that had been collapsed because it was asked by a troll. There's no reason to keep a vulgar joke on the RD if it's been determined it's not a serious question. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 05:04, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

I've gone ahead and notified the editors whose good faith comments you deleted [16], [17]. Please be more courteous in the future. Buddy431 (talk) 05:04, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree that notifying people whose posts you have deleted in a basic courtesy. Thank's Buddy, for doing that. StuRat (talk) 05:12, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Seconded. Thanks Buddy431. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 05:20, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Light current doesn't do anything in good faith. Y'all have short memories. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:20, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I believe one should maintain a long memory for good things and a short memory for bad things. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 05:24, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I believe both. In any case, if y'all want to put that garbage back and play that Limey troll's game, go ahead. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:25, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Deleted comment

I deleted the childish and irrelevant comment by User:Clarityfiend because it had no place on the RD and verged on vandalism. I'm sure Clarityfiend would defend the action as 'humourous' or 'lighthearted'. Nah, it was stupid and pointless. 86.4.183.90 (talk) 09:06, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Well, it was a rather stunning upset, although it's more fitting for wikinews. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:13, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Let's all remember that we are international. The NFL doesn't matter pretty much everywhere else. That said, yes, it was amazing. Seattle to the Superbowl again this year? Aaronite (talk) 03:19, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Best to take things one game at a time. Although they did outscore every other team this weekend. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:25, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
I have notified Clarityfiend, something that Mr. 86.4.183.90 should have done. Buddy431 (talk) 05:15, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
What is your problem, 86? Other than an opportunity to be rude ("childish", "stupid and pointless"), is there some point to bringing this up here? I suggest you read WP:Civility and what WP:Vandalism really is.
Thanks Buddy431, for the heads up. Clarityfiend (talk) 05:50, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Section revived:Catherine Thompson and biz kid$ questions

It seems to me like most of my biz kid$ questions have remained unanswered, despite the fact that i have told people that if they get it in their area, to please watch it. I even said a few times that if they would like, i could give them some channels I know of that shows Biz Kid$ That's the best i can do to help. And for the Catherine Thompson part of it, people are still doubting me, but like Commet Tuttle mentioned on my talk page (thanks C.T.), IMDB is not a varry reliable source. Just because IMDB doesn't say that Catherine Thompson is on biz kid$, it doesn't mean it is true. Just look at the credits, and i have said many times, if my aunt is reading it wrong for the voice of Capitalest Peg, Biz kids biz quiz and her other credits, then tell me the name of this person. It is important to note that i am not trying to accuse anyone at all of being rude, or telling me that i'm lying or making it up, i'm just saying. I realize that you guys want sources, but some times observation is the source. I.E. if someone notices a character's voice is supposed to parrity something, like the person wrote in the attomic betty characters article that Prinsaple Peterson has a voice like Don Charry, that's an observation. The same with Catherine Thompson. My aunt read the name at the end of the credits in a few biz kid$ episodes. I'll be happy to answer any questions you all have about this, and if you need showtimes for PBS Spokane or PBS detroit (that's the only pbs stations i get it on), and or whereelse to watch it, i'll do my best to help you there. Don't expect perfection though. Thanks, and sorry about the ramble. N.I.M. (talk) 05:15, 23 December 2010 (UTC) P.S.: don't delete the catherine thing, if you guys find that it is someone else, just let me know and i'll be willing to correct the name of the person. (no marketing going on, i prommis, just trying to do some confirmations here about biz kid$)

Please consider that the reference desk is staffed by volunteers, who may not share you interest in biz kid$. Expecting people to watch something they aren't interested in to answer your questions for free is a little extreme. If you are willing to pay people enough, you could probably find someone to do so, but if not, it's usually best not to complain when people don't answer your questions for free. If this is something to do with article disputes then this is the wrong place although again remember the vast majority of people here are not being paid to edit and may not feel something is important enough to spend their time to find out (or may not have enough time even if they do). Do note wikipedia doesn't really accept 'observations' as a source in articles. I believe you've checked out some other websites, may I suggest you seek people who are interested in biz kid$ to help you? If you need help getting an account in some other website you may be able to get someone here to help you. (Similarly you may find some wikia or other project has laxer standards and greater interest in voice actors for TV show episodes.) Nil Einne (talk) 12:09, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Can you link me to someone who is interested in biz kid$ please? I need to find this out because i am interested not in pay, but in making the article right. My aunt read the credits for today's episode and she still sees "Catherine Thompson". Any place i can go to ask someone who is interested in biz kid$ or who knows all the voice actors in the show? I have an e-mail so i can just e-mail them when needed. N.I.M. (talk) 02:24, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

N.I.M., I watched a clip you linked awhile ago and I did not see "Catherine Thompson" in the credits. There was a fast wipe over tha voice actors, but I see no way your aunt could have stop-motioned that clip better than I did. Do you have a better clip? You need better authority than your aunt. Franamax (talk) 02:42, 24 December 2010 (UTC)
NIM, I would suggest contacting the show's producers (who might be found at the bizkids website), or anyone at your local PBS member-station would probably be happy to help, too. But it sounds like we just don't know the answers to your questions about that show here, so you will have to try to track down that information somewhere else. Good luck! WikiDao(talk) 03:10, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, and frannamax, that was a clip of a different show that catherine was in. My aunt didn't read the kids next door one but she read biz kid$. just to clear it up. N.I.M. (talk) 05:47, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Yep, you're correct. You said the KND bit was confirmed by your neighbour. For BK$ you are saying it is your aunt. Unfortunately, neither meets our standard as confirmation of a reliable source. If you can link to a video clip, please do so (email it please if it may be a copyvio, I can personally review it as a fair-use exemption to copyright law). We need hard confirmation of the credits, then everything should be fine. Until then it is unconfirmed speculation. Franamax (talk) 06:25, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Well, i just made a post on the biz kid$ website, and i'll get back to you if they reply to it. thanks. N.I.M. (talk) 00:06, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

That's cool, but you don't really need to keep us all in the loop. The subtext you seem to have missed in all the replies you've ever gotten (or not gotten) is that nobody else here is obsessed with this show. If you get a reply that satisfies your own curiosity then that's great, but an email from the show's PR department or whatever still can't be used in an article because it runs afoul of our rules against original research. Likewise, Catherine Thompson almost certainly doesn't meet Wikipedia's definition of notable because she hasn't had many roles to her credit and has had nothing significant written about her in reliable sources. In short, it's extremely unlikely than anyone is going to write an article about her and if they did, it's extremely unlikely that any such article would survive a deletion discussion. Your continued and constant barrage of posts about this show are starting to strain people's natural desire to help you and are pushing the bounds of what's acceptable on the reference desks. To be completely frank, and to echo a recommendation you've gotten earlier in this thread and elsewhere, please take your posts elsewhere. There is a forum about the show here; it's not active yet, but perhaps things will pick up once you get thing started. If that doesn't work out, you could try making a group on Facebook about the show or even start you own discussion forum from scratch. If you need more pointers on that last item, someone at the Computing RefDesk might be able to help you find a good place to start. Matt Deres (talk) 15:54, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I thought there may be a biz kid$ wikia but from an earlier search I didn't find anything, nor any particular active forum or whatever perhaps partially because the target audience of the show isn't always that active in such areas. However if you do prefer some sort of wiki there's no reason I know of that you can't start a biz kid$ wikia (or some other wiki host if you want). As Matt, me and others have said, if you need help setting this up this is something you can probably get help with here (but remember to have a little patience) Nil Einne (talk) 22:29, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

The reason i did all those posts about Catherine is because I have gotten messages that in some way state that the author doesn't believe me. I'm not obsessing, i just want all the info to be right, because i don't believe in misleading people. I'm going to try the links as sune as i can when my connection is better. and thanks for the links. I'll try those ideas out asap. In the mean time, what should i do if i get future messages about people not believing me? N.I.M. (talk) 22:33, 26 December 2010 (UTC) (no annoyance intended)

The article Biz Kid$ has a discussion page here that N.I.M. should continue to use and watch. This page is for discussion of the Reference Desks only. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:00, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

No answer on biz kid$ talk page, do not delete this section until my question is answered, either here or on the biz kid$ talk page. It's january 10 and the last revision on the biz kid$ talk page is december 31, and i am vary upset with your decision to remove this section. Now i'm tired of the whole trying to avoid the question thing, i can tell it. Answer this question here or on the biz kids talk page once and for all, Is biz kids Catherine's only notable role? or are her other minor roles on other shows (listed in the biz kids talk page) notable items too. No more avoiding it, i have the section saved so I will remember it until this is answered, good day. N.I.M. (talk) Go behind the line. 09:42, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Another medical advice request removed - note on proper process

As Kainaw notes in the above discussion, our current rules on medical advice were established in response to some pretty thorough (and heated) discussion a number of years ago. Since then, we've had a fair bit of turnover in the population of 'regulars' at the Ref Desk, so there are probably a lot of folks around now who don't remember the 'bad old days' and may be unfamiliar with both our existing guidelines, how they developed, and how to apply them.

It's worth remembering that at the time – and intermittently since – we have experimented with adding various templates and cautions in response to requests for medical advice, with the expectation that our volunteers (and occasional visitors) would read, understand, respect, and follow our policy against offering medical advice. Unfortunately, this naive hope has almost always been dashed by the cruel reality of statistics. Even if 95% of the editors of the Desk meet those conditions (which would be remarkable, given the number of new visitors we have, and given the fractious nature even of Wikipedia's regulars), then one reader in twenty will read the request for medical advice and be inclined to try to answer it.

We had another example of this problem today. In this diff, I removed a request for medical advice.

  • The first response suggested a possible alternate diagnosis, but at least strongly advised OP to visit a doctor before trying anything.
  • The second answer (from an IP and not a registered user, by the way) bluntly told the OP we don't give medical advice, and to seek a physician's assistance (good!).
  • The third responder concurred.
  • The fourth responder mentioned another possible diagnosis, but again reiterated the advice to consult a physician.
  • Finally, the fifth responder offered specific instructions on how to perform a medical procedure in the home using dental floss and ice.

It was at this point I noticed and removed the thread. For those keeping track, at the time of my edit, the thread already contained four directives to consult a physician (good), which also incorporated two suggestions of possible diagnoses (not good), and at the last had attracted instructions on how to perform a minor surgical procedure on oneself using tools about the home (appalling).

Please, everyone, remember that the instructions at WP:RD/G and Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines/Medical advice#Dealing with questions asking for medical advice exist for a reason. The only method we've found that reliably and consistently prevents well-intentioned people from offering potentially harmful medical advice on the Ref Desk is the complete removal of any requests for such advice. When you remove such a question, replace it with an appropriate message; the template {{rd-deleted}} exists for this purpose. As a rule of thumb, if you're thinking of ending your answer with some variation of "you should ask your doctor this question" then you probably should be removing the post and using the {rd-deleted} template instead. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 15:33, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Understood. WikiDao 16:03, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
For the record, I support the policy of removing the entire question. It is the community consensus. Nimur (talk) 21:09, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay. Now that I am more familiar with how this sort of thing tends to go, I have to agree with that policy, too.
So, I have added a note to the {{RD medadvice}} template indicating that it has now been deprecated by consensus, and that {{RD-deleted}} or {{RD medremoval}} should be used instead, and the question in its entirety removed. But maybe {{RD medadvice}} should just be deleted to avoid tempting anyone (like myself, with Schyler's recent question) to use it...? WikiDao 22:28, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I saw this one at response #2 and hesitated, believing that response would be unequivocal enough to kill the risk of diagnosis and treatment advice. By the time I checked again it had gone; looking back at #5 revealed a textbook case of how a general-ish question can attract well-intentioned and hideously inappropriate responses, even after a clear "we don't give advice" has been issued. If we were going to add a real-life example to the Guidelines of where removal and templating is appropriate to prevent dangerous escalation, this would be it. I've argued the case for info vs advice in the past, and I'm sure there will still be cases where I feel a question has been wrongly deemed a request for advice, but this really does underscore the need to err a long way on the side of caution where medical questions are concerned. Karenjc 13:29, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I feel a lot less outraged by this than you lot (I don't find the anecdote about wart removal appalling or hideous, even if it might lead to a big scar or make a skin tumor metastasize). However, I do think that concrete examples in the medical guidelines are a good idea, because although the resulting rules might be completely arbitrary culture-bound examples of medicalisation, at least making them concrete means we avoid (heh) dangerous escalation of the rules. I guess I might be making a slippery slope argument here myself ... I just don't like the thought that the goalposts might move because sufficient people on a particular day regard a question as medical, or an answer as shocking. I'd like to secure the goalposts in place with concrete examples. There are a few examples at Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Guidelines/Medical_advice, but their purpose is not to demonstrate what "medical" is. If we had a footnote to the guideline like "slicing bits of living tissue off yourself, however small, is a medical procedure and questions about it are banned", then that would be fair enough. 213.122.7.185 (talk) 14:10, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
The purpose of Kainaw's criterion is to "secure the goalposts". -- kainaw 17:59, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Though I like it, it doesn't address the question "what is medical?" ... and the answer to that question may seem obvious to you and not worth wasting time over, but actually it isn't obvious. (Though it still isn't worth wasting time over, I admit.) Removing a wart might be considered cosmetic, for instance. Body piercing may or may not be medical. Tanning, skin lightening, squeezing a spot, fits of rage, tiredness, and so on. Deciding each case in advance is an onerous task, but could there be room on the guidelines page (or your page) to start building a list of specific examples, as they come up? (Struck out "or your page" because it should be somewhere publicly accessible.) Sorry about the tortured metaphors, it's a compulsion. 81.131.26.1 (talk) 19:25, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

The efforts here to contain the issue (pun) of inapropriate medical advice have been A) to define what constitutes a medical question, B) to delete or mark such questions with a warning and C) to clear up after well-meaning responders who answer them. But it's still a problem. Can we learn from some people who avoid a similar problem by D) showing a disclaimer? Below is a paraphrasing of the disclaimer published by the Co$ about their controversial product "E-meter". I have corrected the table below. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:40, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Scientology E-meter Wikipedia Ref. Desks
It is solely for the guide of Ministers of the Church in Confessionals and pastoral counselling. The Electrometer is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily function of anyone and is for religious use by students and Ministers of the Church of Scientology only. This reference desk is solely for guidance of researchers into subjects treated in Wikipedia. The responses given do not carry any claim to be medically or scientifically qualified to improve the health or bodily function of anyone, and are solely for academic information.
It's an amusing thought, but the inevitable reply is that this would make us no more ethically sound than advocates of Scientology are. 81.131.68.97 (talk) 22:21, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
A disclaimer is a solution to the problem only if one believes that the problem is avoiding liability, rather than avoiding harm. All of Wikipedia's content is already covered by disclaimers. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 22:26, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
So you're saying there's no official reason from the Wikimedia Foundation about not giving medical advice, the reference desk just doesn't because it might be morally wrong? Might it also be morally wrong not to give medical advice in some circumstances? 91.146.188.190 (talk) 22:38, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
A disclaimer carries proper legal weight only if it is prominent at the place of delivery of a service. You can question the ethics of advocates of Scientology but not the fact that their organisation can afford expensive lawyers to construe this sort of disclaimer. It would be an additional safeguard to what we do already. @91.146.188.190, our moral obligation is to encourage, and create no impediment to, people to taking personal medical questions to qualified doctors. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:55, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Adding additional notices to specific comments, questions, or articles may create the utterly mistaken impression that advice or articles not bearing specific additional disclaimers is somehow more reliable or less dangerous. Every single Wikipedia page already bears a link to our disclaimers, and Wikipedia's practices in this area have already been very thoroughly vetted by Foundation counsel. Unless you are a lawyer, please don't try to give Wikipedia legal advice. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 23:34, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I disagree. As example, putting "Smoking is dangerous" on cigarette packets doesn't tell anyone that cigars or snuff are safe. Mainspace Wikipedia articles are more reliable than spontaneous responses unmodified by consensus. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:58, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) If you were a doctor, perhaps you would feel a moral obligation to help. But since any passing user can answer questions on behalf of Wikipedia at the RefDesk, and since we have no way of knowing which (if any) of them have relevant professional expertise, Wikipedia cannot take on any moral responsibility to offer medical, legal or other key advice. The key criterion is whether answering this question might cause real harm to real people. Telling someone which band recorded what song, or where to find information about lizards, does no harm. Sharing your dad's dubious DIY method of removing a lesion which may or may not be a mole, thus perhaps helping them to injure themselves or put off the doctor's appointment they might otherwise have booked, could well do serious harm. Yes, there's the issue of liability, and despite Wikipedia's general disclaimers it is not a good idea from a legal point of view to provide amateur DIY surgical advice. But surely the main issue is simply that the way the RefDesk functions means that we cannot be sure of doing more harm than good when asked for a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment advice, and thus as a socially responsible entity we should confine our advice to "consult someone who definitely knows what they are talking about on this one". Karenjc 23:04, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
I suppose perhaps if they needed advice extremely urgently, were isolated and had no phone. (Are there IRC doctors?) 81.131.68.97 (talk) 23:16, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
You can respond to such a situation by emailing "emergency#wikimedia.org" (replace the # by @), which forwards to several foundation staff members. See also the advice about responding to suicidal individuals. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 23:31, 8 January 2011 (UTC) Fixed the little elephant.
Needs more @. Oh I see, they've used an image of an @ as an anti-spam measure. 81.131.68.97 (talk) 23:38, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
May I point to a previous question that I asked here in October: [18]. There are sites that are willing to dispense medical advice, some of which I would be willing to consider pointing the questioner to (generally, the ones that have medical professionals answering questions, and will know when to recommend that someone see a physician in person). Would mentioning these types of sites be appropriate, without running afoul of our guidelines? Buddy431 (talk) 04:41, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. Perhaps any of our individual approaches would be, if it were just that, acceptable. The problem is that keeping the question on the desk at all, no matter how many warning labels are put up or how many otherwise "good" responses it gets, someone will come along and give a response that causes harm. We are, by consensus, choosing to avoid that happening by just removing the question altogether on sight. WikiDao 04:55, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Good removal. Moles should not be messed with, except by a doctor. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:16, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
"Having spent all the previous evening drinking a variety of beers, cocktails, and fortified wines, I woke up late in the morning with extreme pain in my head. I'd like to know the cause of this." Is that a medical question, and if not, what distinguishes it from the one about the wrists? 81.131.37.253 (talk) 10:38, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
It could be anything from a hangover to a brain tumor. See a doctor to find out. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:41, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, so that's extreme pain on the list, alongside slicing living bits of people off. Might turn out to be quite a short and simple list. 81.131.37.253 (talk) 10:46, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Meaning what? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:50, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Further up the page (in reply to Kainaw), I proposed adding a list of concrete examples to the end of the guidelines. It may be only me who has this concern, but I don't like the thought that the definition of medical is flexible and based only on something like "everybody knows that's medical". 81.131.37.253 (talk) 11:01, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Making a list might be nice, except it might be interpreted that anything not on the list is fair game. The plain fact is, someone describing symptoms to us is insufficient. We can't make a diagnosis this way. So any kind of physical or mental ailment has to be answered the same way: "See a doctor." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:36, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I figured it would have written at the top "This list is not complete, and may be added to (by consensus) as new kinds of medical question appear". Because, you see, what's an ailment? It's not just "any problem with the body or the mind".
Not ailments:
  • Why do I always cut myself when I shave?
  • How can I remember my PIN?
  • I have a problem with my mind - it can't understand quadratic equations.
Those are all trivial, because nobody's likely to add them to the list. What's troubling me is that when the scope of "medical" (as the desks understand the term) expands, I'd like that expansion to be visible. 81.131.67.186 (talk) 11:46, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
The first one, at least, is not necessarily trivial. The guy could have the shakes, i.e. Parkinson's or something of that nature. The others are a bit iffier, unless the guy used to be able to do that stuff and no longer can, in which case he should go to a doctor and get tested for possible early-onset dementia. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:06, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
"Questions about unexplained loss of abilities." (I've got to run off somewhere now for about 12 hours. Thanks for responding.) 81.131.67.186 (talk) 12:12, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Specific examples are not going to be helpful, it's always going to be on a case-by-case basis. Would we really expect for question-askers to read through a (possibly very long) list of situations to see if their question can be asked? No way that will happen. A question asking for medical information ("Can someone point me to an article on tuberculosis?" or "How do medicines that are used to treat high cholesterol work?") is perfectly permissable. A question asking for medical diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment advice (i.e. any question where personal information or clinical details are needed in order to give a complete answer) is not. These types of examples are discussed in User:Kainaw/Kainaw's criterion which, although not official policy, is a highly useful framework for thinking about medical questions. --- Medical geneticist (talk) 12:19, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't think a list of allowed/proscribed topics would be much help. I think a better criteria is specific vs. general. If the question is about a specific person or specific symptoms, we really shouldn't answer the question. The questioner doesn't care what's true for 90% of cases, they're looking for what's happening in *that particular* case. There's always a chance it's part of the 1% of cases where the 90% answer is harmful, which is compounded by not knowing all the details for that particular case. (e.g. 90% of the time a headache in adults can be treated by aspirin, but there are cases when taking it could cause death.) So we should ask ourselves (for what it's worth, I view this as more or less a rephrasing of Kainaw's criterion.): Can it be answered completely and thoroughly by referring to population averages and 90% generalizations, or does a real answer to the question depend on who's asking it? (I say "real" answer to cover cases where a person asks a general question but is actually looking for answers to their specific case. I do that with some hesitancy, though, as (Ed: I) feel there's a tendency to ascribe ulterior motives to questions when none was intended.) -- 174.21.250.227 (talk) 20:56, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Have you doubts that ail you? WP:QUACK has the cure. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:43, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
In my experience, people looking for ducks tend to concentrate on the front of a platypus and ignore the rest. -- 174.21.250.227 (talk) 23:15, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, neither you nor Medical Geneticist understood me (which doesn't bode well for the future of my proposal, but I'll forge on for one more post regardless): I'm not suggesting this as a way to discourage posters from asking medical questions. I'm suggesting it as a way of preventing creeping (or just erratic) medicalisation. I'm worried (though I must admit it isn't keeping me awake at night) that now and then a poster asks a question like one of these:
  • I feel a bit sad, how can I cheer myself up?
  • I and my friends enjoy long fireside chats where we air all our problems, what techniques can we employ to structure these sessions to make them more rewarding?
  • I have a bit of trouble with my messy bedroom, how can I organise all my clutter?
...Then a responder deletes the question for being about depression, or unlicensed group therapy, or compulsive hoarding (a very dodgy article last time I looked), and due to our rampant herd mentality, everybody else agrees. 81.131.33.9 (talk) 18:40, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
There have been plenty of debates here about what constitutes a medical question, but I don't think those qualify. In fact, I can cover all three of them: If you feel a bit sad, gather all your clutter, invite your pals over for a fireside chat, and take turns pitching the clutter into the fireplace. It's always fun to burn stuff. (Otherwise known as "heat therapy"). ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:54, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
It appears that you haven't read Kainaw's Criterion. For the first one, being sad is a symptom of depression. Can you completely answer that question without diagnosing that the person does not suffer from depression? That is the only debate. For the next two, it is obvious that you can completely answer them without a diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment suggestions. There is no room for this creep that you are worried about. If you read Kainaw's Criterion, you will see that it is not designed to rationalize that every questions is a possible case of medical request. It is designed to make it very difficult to rationalize that questions about medical topics are requests for medical advice. -- kainaw 18:56, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
He says "a bit" sad. But if there's doubt, I would have no hesitancy to say, "See a doctor". As for the second one, I would advise flip charts in order to enhance the quality of the meeting... or see a doctor about your compulsive need to conduct meetings, or perhaps post an application for an executive position at a major corporation. As for the third one, hire a maid... or see a doctor. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:02, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, well, I hope you're right. I don't wish to undermine your Criterion, which I have read more than once*. 81.131.33.9 (talk) 19:07, 10 January 2011 (UTC) *Twice.
Afterthought: couldn't all answers to easy questions be considered diagnoses of the absence of a learning disability? I don't say this as a backhanded way of calling the questioners retards: just to argue that the distinction between topics that fall inside and outside the domain of medicine is an intuitive one, and that sometimes we ignore tiny possibilities because they're too tiny, or because the evidence is too thin. 81.131.33.9 (talk) 19:26, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
If you do not need to diagnose the person as having or not having a learning disability to completely answer the question, it is not a request for medical advice. For example: "Who was the voice of that lady in the restaurant of episode 3 of Word Girl?" The questioner may or may not have severe learning disability, but answering it completely is not dependent on the questioner's disabilities. -- kainaw 19:33, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Also, some apparently easy questions are deceptive. Like if we get, "Dude, who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" the answer is no one. General and Mrs. Grant are both entombed, not buried, in Grant's Tomb. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:44, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Oh yes, of course, duh. 81.131.33.9 (talk) 19:51, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

I would prefer that the bad answers be removed instead of the questions which provoke them, but I understand the motivation to remove the entire question. 71.198.176.22 (talk) 13:39, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

I hope that I'll at least have a chance of noticing that the question has been removed, and reading it, so that I can get appropriately annoyed if necessary. 81.131.33.9 (talk) 19:07, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
For the record, I agree with 71. The medical questions should stay, the OP should be given the template message saying to go see a doctor if they are concerned, the entire section should be boxed off in a beautiful shade of green, and any other answers should be deleted. Comet Tuttle (talk) 19:11, 11 January 2011 (UTC)