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Requested edit to semi-protected Language Refdesk thread[edit]

Could someone please add the following direct reply to the last entry by IP 2601:1C1 etc. in the Language Reference Desk section headed "Misuse of etc."?

No, as a native BrE speaker in his 7th decade (and a former textbook editor FWIW) I agree it sounds slightly informal, but not markedly so: if I was editing a piece containing this sentence, I'd suggest changing it or not if the piece was otherwise highly formal or academic in style, but not otherwise. "Et omnia" would indeed be technically better, but it's simply not in common use in English: I'd personally be fine with it, having studied Latin, but many readers would not. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 02:46, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

Thanks in advance {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 02:46, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

OK, I've done it myself now that the protection has expired and no-one else had got round to it. Thanks, me! {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 23:11, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

For that matter, could the person who protected the language desk please unprotect it? I'm in the process of writing a usertalk message about it. Thanks. (talk) 04:06, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

The above user has since talked a gullible admin into un-protecting the page. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:02, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
I don't see what the problem is. Neither of the above editors appears to be problem editors. In fact both appear to be long term editors who have not been blocked either at all or in a long time. The LTA editor who resulted in the blocking will come back eventually since they always do. When they do, the page may need to be protected again. Nil Einne (talk) 05:14, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
The OP told the gullible admin that there had been no recent trolling on the lang desk, which was a lie. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:40, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
No it appears to be true. 10 hours is not recent when it comes to the RD or the editors concerned. Especially when it was only a few edits rather than a revert war, and the editor had not edited again in all those 10 hours. Also no one said there had been no recent trolling anyway. 173 said there had been no recent vandalism, which is even more true. The banned editor of concerned here sometimes crosses into a realm that could be called WP:vandalism, but doesn't seem to have done so here. (At most you could call it WP:gaming, but that normally implies doing something more than trying to leave your comments on the RD.) Their edits are unwelcome per WP:DENY but that doesn't automatically make them vandalism. Especially when they weren't engaged in a long revert war to keep them in. You hang out enough at the various ANs that you should know by now that we have a specific definition of vandalism and not all problem edits are classed as vandalism, and it is important you only call stuff vandalism when it actually is. 173 also said they themselves did not make any trolling edits. This also appears to be true. They did make some jokes, but frankly whatever people think of them, their jokes were far tamer then the crap you pull sometimes more than once a week on the RD. In other words, if you are going to say 173's jokes were trolling, you probably should head off to ANI and ask for an indef block as an irredeemable troll yourself. So whether or not you want to call the LTA's edit trolling and whatever your definition of 'recent', the IP's statements appear to have been true since no one said there had been no recent trolling instead simply no recent vandalism and that they themselves did not troll. Nil Einne (talk) 06:22, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
BTW, I partly agree with what CBW said on their talk page. It's a bit silly BB for you to make a big deal over this when you yourself in either this discussion or the one on CBW's talk page have. 1) Suggested CBW should talk to themselves. I presume you did so because you failed to notice that CBW is the one who protected the page, not the admin who reverted the LTA who did not do so. 2) Claimed someone said there had been "no recent trolling" which you called a lie despite the fact as I explained no one even said there had been no recent trolling. I don't entirely agree with CBW since I don't think 173 even made a mistake, but it is rich for someone like you to be making a big deal over mistakes when you've made two doozies in these discussions. Nil Einne (talk) 06:33, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
Actually looking a bit more I made a mistake too. There were more reverts and there was a revert war before hand. However this ended with the IP being blocked ~ 10 hours before protection. I still question calling these edits vandalism even though they were clearly unwelcome per DENY. The LTA concerned does sometimes return to revert war with multiple IPs and in that case protection is necessary, but it didn't happen yet here. I don't fault CBW for protecting the page although I'm not sure it was necessary, nor BB for asking. But I do stick by my main point namely that what 173 said was basically true, there was no recent vandalism even if it's probably fair to call it trolling (but no one said there was no recent trolling except for BB). And 173 themselves did not troll. And BB's responses to 173 have been unnecessarily harsh considering 173 appears to have no fault in this recent kerfuffle. While it was good for BB to deal with the LTA, their responses after they dealt with the LTA were unnecessary since they pit a bunch of editors all acting in good faith against each other. I apologise if I have contributed to that atmosphere but I do feel that BB has a tendency to be way too harsh with IPs even those who have little fault. Nil Einne (talk) 08:03, 26 February 2018 (UTC)
At present, it appears my assessment of 173 was incorrect. Appy polly loggies. As for the banner user, I stopped reverting him when I realized AIV was not being attended promptly. Once the banned-user's latest IP was finally blocked, I finished the job. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:54, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

Side discussion from Bolivar/Humboldt thread[edit]

<Moved from WP:RDS --Jayron32 14:52, 9 March 2018 (UTC)>

No need for the biting, DuncanHill. If the passage was in one of their bios, it would not be out of place, but this is in our article on natural history and scientific biology, where Bolivar is hardly a leading light. Unless he contributed something to the concept that "an organism and not as a mechanism", his name should probably be removed as not being relevant to the discussion at hand. Matt Deres (talk) 14:35, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
No Matt, Nyttend made series of snide comments here which had he bothered to read either the article on Bolivar or Humboldt he would have realised were completely unnecessary. He questioned the comprehension of the person who added the reference, he questioned the competence of the author. What he never did was say "Is Bolivar relevant to that article?". Stop defending nasty behaviour. DuncanHill (talk) 14:40, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
In Matt Deres's defense, nasty behavior does not itself justify nasty behavior. You don't get a free pass to be nasty merely because you witnessed someone else doing it. He's quite right, if Nyttend's tone was an issue for you, then you do not improve the tone of the discussion by mirroring it back to him. --Jayron32 14:42, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
So when someone is snide I shouldn't mention it? When someone has obviously completely failed to do any research before calling others incompetent I shouldn't mention it? DuncanHill (talk) 14:48, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
Mentioning it is different than mirroring it. One can note the snideness of others without oneself being snide. --Jayron32 14:50, 9 March 2018 (UTC) (edit: fixed name) --Jayron32 14:50, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
It's in the eye of the beholder, but I just don't see what was in Nyttend's question that seemed snide. S/he was puzzled by something and asked a question here that, to me, seems perfectly politic, particularly if you take the context of the question into play. S/He was right to question Bolivar's inclusion in a biology article. The "fault" (if you even want to take it that far) was in the WP editor who added it to the article without considering that it made sense to include there. What I assume you perceive as Nyttend beating a dead horse, I see as them trying to figure out what they weren't getting - especially given the spelling error. We castigate questioners who don't do their research, so we should not at all be surprised when a regular goes to lengths to prove that they've given it a go on their own. Also, I feel it only fair to point out that, until I mentioned it, nobody else seems to have bothered with the location of the questioned phrase and instead answered a question that wasn't asked ("How could these two dudes know one another?") so stepping off of high horses is the more appropriate action. Matt Deres (talk) 15:58, 9 March 2018 (UTC)
Duncan attacked / lectured the OP for asking the question. Hard to figure. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:15, 9 March 2018 (UTC)

Telling someone to "Google it" is not an answer[edit]

Perhaps this is a mere pet peeve, but stuff like this annoys me. There are a fair number of reasons why a questioner might not "just google it" -- the topic may not bring up results, or (especially with Google) may not actually be mentioned in most if not all of the results it brings up. Or different people might get different results ... especially if one is in France, or China. Or the questioner may not know which results to trust, especially if they conflict. Or they may just not know the right words to type in to get their answer. Whatever the reason, the bare minimum I want from a "Google" response is that the answerer has actually typed it in, says what phrase to type, and is prepared to say "the top results are all good" or clarify how to spot the good ones. Ultimately though, we want people to share a good source rather than a good search, and to break down what it says and give the punchline as part of our own database of answers. Wnt (talk) 03:33, 11 March 2018 (UTC)

A user searching from China is not going to get any results on Google. ...But that's often still better than the results they'd get on the local search engines.
As for different people might get different results, yes I've been pretty certain they've been customizing results for years (which is why many extremists-who-don't-know-it will say "you just need to google [topic] and you'll get [fringe batshit]"). Ian.thomson (talk) 03:52, 11 March 2018 (UTC)
Google certainly has regard to the geolocation of the questioner. There's usually a link to an anniversary - today it's "Mother's Day 2018". Out of curiosity, what link are they showing in other countries? (talk) 11:19, 11 March 2018 (UTC)
I had already googled it, so I wasn't telling the OP to "just google it". And the user came back saying he didn't find the google results useful. So I also linked to one of our articles. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:32, 11 March 2018 (UTC)
In responses where I found my information via Google, I usually include something to that effect, including the key words I used. Sometimes the addition or omission of a single word can make all the difference in the quality of results. However, I agree that the response you linked above was less than helpful. The problem with just putting stuff into Google is that, unless you're pretty sophisticated at interpreting the results, you have little to go on in terms of knowing what's reliable or not. A Google result will list the good, the bad, and the ugly, but it doesn't label them all. I consider that part of the job we do here. Matt Deres (talk) 02:43, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
I told the OP the exact search term I used. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:14, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
I see that, but that post did nothing to help them figure out what results, if any, were good or detailed or easily accessible to the layperson. Look, I'm hardly the poster-child for the way the RefDesk should work, but my $.02 is that a formula like "I Googled XYZ and found A, that seems pretty good and B, which was more technical. There is also Wikipedia article C, but it's only indirectly related." is one that's helpful, referenced, and, well, defensible. I don't always practice what I preach, but when I post replies like that, I almost never get contrary or argumentative replies. Matt Deres (talk) 13:10, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
You're assuming we know for sure what the OP was really asking about. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:23, 12 March 2018 (UTC)
I don't really understand your point. Often, we can't be sure that we know what the OP is asking about. I'm sure nearly everyone who has answered enough questions here has given answers that don't address the OP's actual question. Some of these are entirely our own fault, we didn't read the question properly. Other times the question was ambigious or failed to specify something. Sometimes we notice this, other times we don't. If we feel that that the question is too ambigious, we may ask the OP for clarification. But sometimes we just give an answer hoping it is what the OP wants to know and if we are wrong, going on from there. Ultimately even if we were wrong, just telling the OP to search for whatever term, isn't likely to significantly increase the chances the answer will be useful if we were wrong. And it's not like they can't do that if we gave a recommended search term and some of the apparently relevant results. Nil Einne (talk) 02:42, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
Let's answer every question with "Try googling [thing you just said].".
That'd be a useful service!
ApLundell (talk) 23:06, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
In a sense, we already do that, with our instructions up the top. Only if they've had a conscientious search themselves and come up empty-handed are they supposed to come here for help in the first place. We sometimes ask OPs whether they've already searched. But that's a different thing from just barking "Google it" at them. In the time it takes to type that, one could google it oneself, copy the link, and paste it here for the OP's benefit. That would be the minimally courteous thing to do, if one were minded to get involved in the answer at all. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:13, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
I think part of the problem is that every single one of us, no matter how altruistic we imagine we are in donating our time and expertise to selflessly help the question-askers out there, is also secretly a part-time closet control freak. We've all got our own version of the Internet Help Social Contract, which goes sometime like this: "If you have done A and B but are still having trouble with C, you are a worthy striver and are deserving of my assistance, but on the other hand, if you are one of those irresponsible rascals who hasn't done A or B, or if you've gone and done D, or if you actually believe E, well, the buck stops here, you are absolutely going to have to straighten those out before you have any hope of getting help here, and don't you dare complain about the hard time you're getting from me just now, because always remember, you are the supplicant who's asking for help for free, while I am the virtuous altruistic donator of my time but who grants it willingly, but only on my terms."
And on the one hand, up to a point this is fine: we've got to have some standards in terms of what is expected ("please try A and B first") and acceptable ("please don't ask about E"), so we're always going to have to -- hopefully gently -- remind the worthy strivers about our guidelines. But on the other hand, if we spend more time lecturing people on how to solve problems (or how to properly ask questions) than we do answering them, at some point we stop being a free help service after all.
(Not trying to pick on Bugs here, or anything -- like I say, I think in our own way we all do this from time to time.) --Steve Summit (talk) 00:54, 15 March 2018 (UTC)
Without disagreeing with the main thrust of your comments (that we can be idiosyncratic in what we think is due diligence, which is certainly true), ultimately this comes down to the nature of the request made by the OP, and I would submit that for a strong majority of inquiries, such a response is inappropriate. "Did you google it?" may very well be a reasonable sentiment where the initial question is so basic that minimal effort on the part of the OP using either a conventional search engine or our own article search would have been almost certain to return quick results. Even then, beware the curse of knowledge.
But when someone asks a question where they clearly articulate the phenomena that they want to know more about, but it's clear they lack sufficient familiarity with the relevant clinical literature and related nomenclature (i.e. the vast majority of questions on our desks, and almost all on the science desk), then clearly telling them to Google it is a thoughtlessly impulsive comment which is only needlessly rude and dismissive, but indeed would probably only waste the OP's time even if they did follow it. Typing "leg jiggling" into Google without further understanding to refine the search was never going to take the OP to the physiological term they sought, nor expedite their effort to understand the phenomenon more broadly--and it was perfectly reasonable for the OP to turn the desks to look for someone with superior knowledge in the relevant fields to point them in the right direction. Indeed, because the OP's question seemed to impute an ambiguous class of phenomena, its a complicated question to answer even for those with some knowledge of the relevant motor neurology. There were three appropriate responses for any contributor reading that request: 1) provide the term, if the question could be answered that plainly, 2) Explain why the question might not be answerable with a single, established empirical term, and provide context (hopefully with sources, and free of speculation) that might nevertheless go to the heart of the OP's inquiry and thus in a sense still answer their question, and 3) Just be quiet. Not everyone needs to respond to every thread and one should probably not be answering any inquiry where they are not making an effort to substantially engage with the OP's question.
Like you, I don't single out Bugs in particular (he is hardly the first to do this), but I'm glad Wnt broached the subject, because I think in a majority of cases, this kind of response is (if not outright flippant) at least a counterproductive use of time for the purposes of our OPs and volunteers--including under the circumstance that we apply a particularly rigorous standard of the effort the OP could reasonably be expected to make beforehand, given the constraint that they may not even know how to approach research or even isolate relevant terminology for a particular field. Snow let's rap 00:11, 16 March 2018 (UTC)