Wikipedia talk:Reference desk

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

RD is not for internal WP:POLICY matters[edit]

Please be more careful distinguishing between RD answers about what our articles and their sources say about the external world, and what internal WP policies and guidelines say, especially when it comes to language matters.

This exchange, for example, resulted in the querying editor going around to literally hundreds of articles imposing anti-MoS changes, on the strength of a handful of style guides (conveniently only those that agree with the editor, and ignoring British ones that do not, like that of The Economist), and claiming that Reference Desk/Language agreed with him (or at least hadn't contradicted him).

This is by no means the first time that WP:RDL has incidentally encouraged someone to go on a style-changing spree across Wikipedia or to come "challenge" the Manual of Style on some tedious bit of trivia that has been discussed a zillion times already. It would be helpful if RDL included a statement that it does not address questions about the Wikipedia Manual of Style, and redirected people to WT:MOS for that.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:14, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

The RD/L thread from April (now archived here) did not, to my eyes, "encourage" the would-be style-changing editor.
It did point him to the MOS talk page, where (as can be imagined) a spirited debate ensued, now archived here.
If that thread didn't dissuade the editor from his quest, I doubt we could have!
I'll grant that discussions like these (and the editing sprees that sometimes follow) are intensely annoying, but given that there will evidently always be people obsessed with such matters, it does seem like centralizing the madness at the MOS and its talk page is the appropriate thing to do. —Steve Summit (talk) 10:28, 11 July 2017 (UTC), edited 11:10, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
The ref desk was originally a splitoff from the help desk. This would be an example of a question that harkens back to the help desk. And you're right that an editor obsessed with fine points of punctuation and the like is going to find a way, whether we help or not. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:30, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
As a point of historical interest, Bugs is simplifying.
The original Help Desk was moved to "Wikipedia:Reference Desk" (And then years later became the miscellaneous RefDesk.)
It wasn't until over a year later that the current help desk, then called the "Newcomers' village pump", was created. So far as I can determine, there was no help desk in the interim period of about 13 months.
So it was less a spinoff, and more a case of "Let's rename the help desk the reference desk", and then later "I wish we still had a help desk."
What value this bit historical trivia has to anybody, I don't know, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. ApLundell (talk) 17:36, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the history lesson! ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:25, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

I object to your behavior on the science desk.[edit]

complainant now blocked←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:36, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

You removed a question of mine which was exceedingly well-phrased for "trolling" and suggested I run my own experiment. My question was very well-phrased and completely practical. I object to your behavior on this forum. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:48bb:ee48:34f:334a (talk) 01:51, Today (UTC−5)

First, you didn't sign your post here. Second, you didn't sign any of your posts on the science desk. it says clearly at the top of the edit window how to sign posts, so please do it in future. Thirdly, your post here is addressed to User:DMacks, but you should be posting it on his talk page, not here on the ref desk talk page. Diff, in case anyone else is interested. --Viennese Waltz 08:37, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
No, my post here is addressed to everyone at the science reference desk. I did not sign my posts due to your vindictive behavior in bad faith. that's a plural you. I had a poor experience. a glance at the talk pages shows that others also have a poor experience with you. (again a plural you.) I object to the behavior of all of you on the science reference desk. I had my time wasted, my question removed, was accused of trolling by different people despite an exceedingly well-phrased and clear question, and had a negative experience with you. (a plural you.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:c524:fa0b:c48a:bfb3 (talk) 06:55, Today (UTC−5)
I'm also curious why this question was removed. It wasn't the best written or thought-through question ever, but it seems to be earnest and on-topic. ApLundell (talk) 14:19, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
On the contrary, I put a very large amount of thought into writing the question very carefully. Based on the vindictive behavior, in bad faith, by multiple contributors, even the "best written or most thought-through question ever" could generate a poor experience for the person asking. I put a huge amount of effort into asking the question and following up on it such that I would be able to receive a helpful answer, which I was denied. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:c524:fa0b:c48a:bfb3 (talk) 10:06, Today (UTC−5)
NB: someone just attempted to delete this report: (i.e. this very comment), calling the above good-faith report "trolling". This report is made in exceedingly good faith. This is a talk page for this project and I have a right to report my experience. Now you understand why I did not name names and simply honestly and anonymously reported my experience. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:51b3:ad84:d8de:4c7 (talk) 11:40, Today (UTC−5)
  • @ApLundell: Are you seriously going to humor a troll while chiding other editors who refused to do so for humoring a troll? Keeping this thread open is contributing to the trolling, it's feeding the troll by encouraging people to comment and to to stir up drama exactly the way you are doing by reverting two other editors. Come on. Just delete or archive this thread and let's all move on, FFS. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:55, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
OP here. I am sympathetic to removal of the link if you like, which I did not include. I can assure you my participation was in good faith. I would like some form of the present note to remain up, however. You may leave the following version up: -- To elaborate, what I meant with this phrasing is that such a note would allow my objection to be voiced without "stirring up drama" and so forth. It is very brief and non-specific. I feel I should be allowed to voice such an opinion about my experience, on the project talk page, given that my experience was a negative one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:51b3:ad84:d8de:4c7 (talk) 17:13, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

It's not clear to me that the original question was an intentional troll.
But 'regardless, the original question could have been asked,answered and done and forgotten by now. Regardless of whether the question-asker was a troll as some people suspect, or a child, or just someone who has trouble with English. Instead people have been dogmatically edit-warring to keep it deleted. ApLundell (talk) 17:14, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
OP here. As you write, yes, the original question could have been asked, answered, done, and forgotten. This is why I reported, here on this talk page, the negative experience I had with the reference desk from multiple contributors. At any rate you have my permission to replace this entire thread with a 1-line report in which I report vaguely and in general terms my negative experience. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:ab88:2481:fc80:51b3:ad84:d8de:4c7 (talk) 17:18, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Yup. Keeping this thread going by reverting removals while using blatantly untrue edit summaries is going to put a stop to it. That's the trick right there. Good job. One begins to wonder if there's more than one troll at work here. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:22, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
  • The IP-hopping troll, in addition to not ever signing his posts, has also made insults and demands toward the ref desk users. That's why his garbage keeps getting reverted. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:16, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Is User:Uncle dan is home a sock of user User:Bowei Huang 2?[edit]

User Bowei Huang2 is a permanently blocked sockmaster whose modus operandi is to post hit-and-run questions with random concatenations of belief systems, political institutions, economics and political groups. See Wikipedia:Sockpuppet_investigations/Bowei_Huang_2/Archive. His edits are subject to summary deletion.

See Special:Contributions/Uncle_dan_is_home for typical political/ideological/ethnic questions and page blanking such as:

   22:23, 31 July 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+240)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎why don't I hear much about the Byzantines: new section)
   19:18, 24 July 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+81)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎What happened to the native Roman population of Italy after the Lombards invaded?)
   23:04, 21 July 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+129)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎How do people in East Asia approach Christianity?: new section)
   22:05, 7 July 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+164)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Companies other than Apple that are considered by some to be cult-like: new section)
   15:02, 21 June 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+281)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Democrats changing their stance on illegal immigrants: new section)
   16:46, 17 June 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+216)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎How do Islamic banks earn money: new section)
   01:17, 16 June 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+216)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Absolute monarchies that are fully industrialized: new section)
   11:17, 3 June 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+233)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Russian government and Brexit: new section)
   10:13, 9 April 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+99)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Jewish Plan for global domination)
   09:57, 9 April 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+221)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Trump administration and Syra: new section)
   03:21, 7 April 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+308)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Africa as the next manufacturing centre)
   20:30, 5 April 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+254)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science ‎ (→‎Extraterrestrial government and economy: new section)
   20:45, 28 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (-62)‎ . . User:Uncle dan is home/sandbox ‎ (←Blanked the page)

   20:42, 28 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+46)‎ . . N User:Uncle dan is home/sandbox ‎ (←Created page with 'This sandbox is in the Wikipedia talk namespace. Either move this page into your userspace, or remove the {{User sandbox}} template. ')
   03:50, 28 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+140)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Majority of professors being conservative)
   18:26, 16 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+201)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎What motivated people to vote for trump?: new section)
   19:01, 13 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+199)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎What industry is Chicago: new section)
   18:53, 13 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+92)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Buddhism in China: new section)
   17:10, 9 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+113)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎President declaring martial law: new section)
   18:35, 8 March 2017 (diff | hist) . . (+186)‎ . . Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities ‎ (→‎Counties requiring condoms in porn movies)
  • I am removing any questions by this user hopefully admins familiar with the case will block the user. It's midnight my time so I'll follow up tomorrow if necessary. μηδείς (talk) 03:55, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
  • I've undone all your removals, as your history has shown you are not capable of determining when Ref Desk Q's should be removed, and in this case your allegations lack any actual proof. For example, he is certainly allowed to blank out his own sandbox. His account goes back to October of last year, so it seems unlikely a troll would go unidentified for this long. StuRat (talk) 04:20, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Some of the questions are not unlike those Boweii Huang used to ask, but more evidence is needed. A checkuser might be able to tell, except that Huang's various socks are probably too old to check. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:40, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm not entirely convinced this is the same person... Boweii had some idiosyncratic language tics that I haven't noticed with this guy. I could be wrong, but we should use normal channels to determine if any connection exists before any one person summarily deletes all of these threads. --Jayron32 13:25, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
  • In a world of 7.5 billion people, I suspect there is quite a bit of overlap in behavior characteristics. It seems likely - almost a mathematical certainty - that we will sometimes see two people behave in the same way at the desks. We Some of us give far too much weight to that in judging sockivity. This is why we have SPI and checkuser. ―Mandruss  23:05, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

Uncle dan is home IS not Bowei Huang 2, Bowei Huang 2's latest sock is: (talk) 12:49, 3 August 2017 (UTC)

Nazi troll?[edit]

Unlike Sluzzelin, I'm having a hard time believing that this is not the Nazi troll. With apologies to Sluzzelin, does anyone object if I delete the thread? --Viennese Waltz 10:43, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

I do, absent an SPI result. The thread is completely innocuous so far (permalink), although that could change. ―Mandruss  12:13, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
It's a dead ringer for Soft skin/the nazi troll. Per your objections, I have filed an SPI: Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Soft skin, but really that's excessive bureaucracy for its own sake. This is classic, definitive, and direct WP:DUCK level behavior, which has been going on by him for at least 2 years, per this SPI from September, 2015 and dozens afterwards, to quote that SPI "A new editor or IP in the same mobile range appears and asks either a completely innocuous question, or a completely antisemitic question. If the question was innocuous, the editor waits for the question to be answered and then becomes progressively more antisemitic." (bold mine). This is our guy. Everyone who's been here knows this. But, we can jump through your hoops if you want. He'll be blocked shortly. --Jayron32 12:45, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
It's definitely the Nazi troll. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:55, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
I don't object. ---Sluzzelin talk 13:20, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
The thread has been removed. ---Sluzzelin talk 14:59, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
Ok, so if a thread (1) is about Jews in some way and (2) is innocuous, we should assume it's Nazi troll before "it becomes progressively more antisemitic". Who else would ask two innocuous questions about Jews? I don't care if this SPI comes back positive, that's just a poor excuse for critical thinking, effectively closing the door to questions related to Jews (unless the questioner leaves after the initial question, with no follow-up). Without an SPI for each, nobody can know how many innnocent questions have already been turned away, and the questioners permanently alienated from Wikipedia.
This is why I made it a point to say innocuous so far and although that could change. There was very little to lose by waiting for stronger evidence in the thread.
If the SPI comes back negative, I will make a bigger issue of this. ―Mandruss  18:31, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
You missed the part where he asked about some book that a respondent said was fabricated (which the OP likely already knew) and then jumped right into the possibility that the Anne Frank story was also fabricated. The questions weren't innocuous, they were calculated. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:52, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
Sorry but that requires a mind-reading ability that I lack. You lack it too, but you don't know it. There is absolutely no objective evidence that the questions were "calculated". You would be laughed out of any court in the world, and then disbarred for incompetence. And that remains true even if this SPI comes back positive. ―Mandruss  22:05, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
This is not a courthouse, it's merely a website. And experience tells several of us that we're right. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:38, 3 August 2017 (UTC)
It's not often I can say this, but I agree with Baseball Bugs! --Viennese Waltz 07:09, 3 August 2017 (UTC)
experience tells several of us that we're right. That is exactly the kind of self-validating faulty logic I'm talking about. You have no clue how many times you have been right because you have removed and blocked before you could be proven wrong. (That's a plural "you", I'm well aware you don't personally have the blocking right.) ―Mandruss  07:30, 3 August 2017 (UTC)
We don't need "objective evidence" to know that a post is from a troll. Blocks are often made on the basis of what feels right. That's certainly the case here. The way he brings up Anne Frank in the follow-up question was clearly a set-up. --Viennese Waltz 08:44, 3 August 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The SPI has been closed without a checkuser. So much for hard data. I'm done. ―Mandruss  11:10, 3 August 2017 (UTC)

The troll has used the name "Soul Trainer" before, so the account name sounds close enough. Eliyohub (talk) 13:48, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

How should I deal with threads like this?[edit]

This question appears to call for debate: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:49, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

The way I dealt with it was to remove the thread [1]. ---Sluzzelin talk 18:00, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Could be a troll, or could be somebody who really doesn't know about the contributions to civilization made by other races. I might tend to Assume Good Faith and mention some of the contributions of other races, like Arabic numerals and monotheistic religions. StuRat (talk) 18:16, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
I don't criticize that approach. It's just that this particular individual has expended my personal good faith. ---Sluzzelin talk 18:35, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
StuRat has a habit of answering any kind of question without references, including this one. That response is problematic, because race itself is a sociological construct. Also, it can be argued that it is evolutionary advantageous to mix genes from different races of people to promote stronger offspring and less inbreeding problems. (talk) 04:58, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Sometimes StuRat assumes more good faith than the OP deserves. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:15, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
I was not talking about the amount of good faith. I was talking about answering a question without any preliminary knowledge on it. Anybody who has studied introductory sociology and biology would know that race is a sociological concept, and that species is a biological concept, and that evolutionary advantages and disadvantages are highly dependent on context. A century ago, having dyslexia was no biggie, because one could still make a decent living by trade. Now, it cripples the person from pursuing the good jobs. During the Middle Ages, Huntington's disease wasn't a big deal. But now it is, because there is the expectation that everyone should live past their twenties and retire at 65. If anything hinders that goal, then it gets viewed negatively. (talk) 11:30, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
"Anybody who has studied ... would know" is not providing a source. That's an argument from authority. StuRat (talk) 13:18, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Apparently the alt-right adherents never took introductory sociology. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:29, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Race is more than just a sociological construct. (If you doubt that, read about what happened in Charlottsville, VA, yesterday.) Races are population groups, and isolated population groups can develop good or bad traits specific to them. Sickle cell anemia, to name an obvious one. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:33, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Agreed. There are genetic differences in gene pools which are sometimes referred to as "race". It's not entirely fictional, as we have laws and medicine based on it. I didn't refer to "race" in my response as it's no longer PC to do so. But, going back to the Q, if a primitive tribe had possession of a limited resource, say an animal they killed, and there wasn't enough for both themselves and the "outsiders", whoever they were, it would make sense to discriminate and keep it for themselves. So, we have a basis for discrimination. Now, if they had so much that it would spoil, then sharing it with outsiders might make sense, especially if the outsiders would agree to return the favor when the situation was reversed. On the other hand, if they were at war with those outsiders, then starving them to death may be the wisest course of action to ensure their own survival. StuRat (talk) 13:12, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
The trick is, I think, that while there are indeed statistically significant differences between variuous populations, one has to be very careful making individual predictions based on them. It's fine to say "women are, on average, lighter and less strong than men". It's not fine to say "You're a woman, so you're not fit to perform this job." —Steve Summit (talk) 15:06, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
It's a typical question raised by the Nazi troll. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:52, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Why does one Nazi troll get merely deleted and the next super deleted? InedibleHulk (talk) 21:16, August 12, 2017 (UTC)
Maybe it depends on the severity of the bigotry in the troll's question. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:02, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Not being able to read the thread in question, obviously my opinion doesn't matter. No one but Xi Jinping's opinion should actually be considered as mattering - he's the one who won the culture war. Wnt (talk) 23:52, 13 August 2017 (UTC)