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.

Proposal to delete Ref Desk[edit]

Just like clockwork, the complaint about Medeis to Admins has once again led to a proposal to ban the Ref Desk: Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#Time_to_close_down_the_ref_desks.3F. Bugs supports closing the Ref Desks. StuRat (talk) 17:48, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Mild support only. But if it happens, it would compel the busybodies to find someone else to harass. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:59, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
Mildly harass. InedibleHulk (talk) 05:28, October 20, 2017 (UTC)
Moved to WP:Village pump (policy)#RfC: Should the Reference Desks be closed? -- ToE 08:22, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
In addition to BB, JBL and SteveBaker also support closing down the Ref Desk. It seems odd to me that people who oppose the Ref Desk's existence would spend so much time on it. StuRat (talk) 00:06, 24 October 2017 (UTC)
Yes, it boggles the mind. It's like they are announcing to the rest of us "This is worthless, and should be destroyed, that's why I spend lots of time there." Steve at least has basically quit the ref desks, so his !vote is less embarrassing. JBL has a PhD in math, so I think he'd be smart enough to know he can just not read or post on the ref desks. SemanticMantis (talk) 15:19, 24 October 2017 (UTC)
You'd be amazed at how much time most people spend doing things they know isn't productive. ApLundell (talk) 19:15, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
But, less snarkily, I don't think there's any contradiction.
If the desk is here, it would be even more embarrassing for Wikipedia for it to be un-staffed.
ApLundell (talk) 19:20, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
AFAIK SteveBaker's comments there are accurate. He spends very little time here now. I don't see that there's anything wrong, or unusual, in people who used to spend time here feeling things have changed and it's no longer worth it. Or perhaps it was always pointless and they've only just realised. Or maybe some combination of both. This doesn't have to mean that the RD should be closed. On the other hand the RD is part of wikipedia so editors may feel it harms wikipedia in some way and reasonably feel it should be closed. Ignoring a problem is not always the best solution. These and other issues have been dealt with to some extent in that very discussion so I don't think they should be a surprised to anyone whether or not you agree with these views. Putting these two together, I'm not sure why it should be unexpected that someone who used to, but no longer, spent a lot of time here may now feel it should be closed. I would agree it's perhaps a little more surprising for anyone who does still spend a lot of time here, although there are various reasons even there why it may arise. Nil Einne (talk) 11:43, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
Now moved to its own subpage: WP:Village pump (policy)/RfC: Should the Reference Desks be closed. -- ToE 09:20, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Notice of ArbCom Request[edit]

I have requested that the ArbCom open a case concerning conduct at the Reference Desks. I have suggested that the ArbCom can take this on either of two tracks. The fast track would be to implement ArbCom discretionary sanctions as a device to permit expedited sanctions for editors who are disruptive in any of various ways. The slow track would be a full evidentiary hearing, which should result in discretionary sanctions as well, but could also result in the ArbCom imposing their own sanctions. Robert McClenon (talk) 22:42, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

See Statements may be made to the ArbCom to support (or oppose) accepting the case. Robert McClenon (talk) 22:42, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

Arbitration request removed; unanimously declined by the Committee. -- ToE 09:33, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Notification of new !vote[edit]

Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents#StuRat.27s_Proposal. StuRat (talk) 22:08, 31 October 2017 (UTC)

The ratio of refdesk-related noticeboard !votes to successfully answered refdesk questions is rapidly approaching parity. ApLundell (talk) 02:38, 1 November 2017 (UTC)
Just as a quick note, for those confused by the strikeout of StuRat's comments, or the comments (until recently) on StuRat's talk page, note that per Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard#Closure review request for "StuRat's behaviour on the Reference Desks (again)" [1] a topic was enacted but later reversed to allow more time for the new proposal to be discussed. Nil Einne (talk) 06:55, 1 November 2017 (UTC)


StuRat Thread : 185k. (Result : Topic-Block)
StuRat Appeal : 6k (Result : Success on appeal, but re-blocked with slightly broader block)
ArbCom Request : 32k (Pending : Declined to take case)
AN3 Thread : 6k (Result : Boomerang)
AN3 Appeal : 14k (Result : Success on appeal)
Village Pump Thread : 306k (Result : Chaos)
All Current RefDesks : 206k
Ok, I admit that last total is a bit disingenuous, because the desks are more aggressively archived than those other things, but the math is still infuriating.
If there's not going to be a RefDesk closure or reform, maybe some kind of awareness campaign to increase RefDesk utilization would at least tip the value/waste ratio into the black? ApLundell (talk) 15:56, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

The new !vote has now ended the same way as the old !vote : A RefDesk ban for StuRat. ApLundell (talk) 04:43, 2 November 2017 (UTC)

It takes some chutzpah for deletionists to start a plot to delete the Refdesk then blame the regulars because they out-trolled the Nazi troll and all the other trolls that supposedly infest our Refdesks, plus those of us who answer them seriously when possible, in the quest to generate useless non-encyclopedic content. But there's something about the box at the top of the page about "permanent closure" that tends to make folks waste their time trying to have a place to talk at least once for every time they come and think up an answer.
That said, sure, it would be great to get more folks interested in the Refdesk. It isn't interesting without questions to answer! Wnt (talk) 01:10, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
There's nothing nefarious about shutting down (not "deleting") side-projects whose time has come and gone. It's normal. The RefDesk's trajectory is downwards, It's just a question of when it crosses the threshold where people are comfortable closing it.
Personally, I'd thought we'd passed that line. But the community is making it clear that we're close to the line, but haven't crossed it yet. So there's still time for some kind of positive action.
Imagining that we're beset by conspirators and plotters is not that positive action. It's just denial. ApLundell (talk) 01:22, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Why would you say that the reference desks' trajectory is downward? Bus stop (talk) 03:25, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
That argument is well articulated in the RfC. Agree or disagree, but don't ask people to re-articulate it (and presumably re-debate it) here. ―Mandruss  05:09, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
The "trajectory" of the reference desks is the future of the reference desks. Few at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#RfC: Should the Reference Desks be closed? predict the future of the Reference desks. They point out what they see as problems with the reference desks. They advocate for the shutting down of the reference desks. But should you conflate advocating for the shutting down of the reference desks with predicting the imminent demise of the reference desks? Bus stop (talk) 14:51, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I haven't said anything about the number of editors who made the decline argument in the RfC. I merely said that it was made there, so there was no need to ask it to be repeated here by the same editor who made it in the RfC. Since you appear to lack a passing acquaintance with Ctrl+F, I'll helpfully do the legwork for you. The argument is here[2][3] and one support of it is here [4]. Now, if others want to re-debate that relatively minor point with you here, where such debate can have no effect, they are free to do so. Count me out. ―Mandruss  22:36, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I have not conflated anything with anything else.
The refdesks are a shadow of what they once were. Therefore their trajectory is downwards.
If that trajectory doesn't change, the next attempt to shut them down will succeed.
The surest way to kill the refdesks is to deny they have a serious problem and instead convince ourselves that a conspiracy of evil deletionists is out to get us. ApLundell (talk) 22:57, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, perhaps I'm an old softie, but it seems as if StuRat has just been scapegoated for all the Refdesks' problems. The proposal to shut down the Refdesks didn't pass, but somehow, during that process, StuRat's name came up as the lightning rod for all that was wrong with the Refdesks, so if the Refdesks couldn't be shut down, at least this "worst offender" could be banned. So, hey, at least we did something.
And yet, other recent actions against other problematic contributors have all been closed without taking any action, suggesting that (in the consensus view of the wider WIkipedia) StuRat's behavior was far worse -- something that I'm just not seeing. Perhaps Wikipedia has evolved into something I no longer have anything in common with. —Steve Summit (talk) 13:06, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I'd be curious to see a list of what Wikipedia rules StuRat is alleged to have violated. Also, there does seem to be a vendetta, at least by some editors. For one, Legacypac (who has been edit-warring on the ref desks recently) has told more than one user, "maybe you should be next" to be banned from the ref desks. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:16, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I partially agree. I didn't !vote in that discussion because I feel that, while StuRat's contributions are counter-productive more often than not, and his refusal to even understand this is infuriating, I see him as just a symptom of a greater problem.
I believe that the way the RefDesks are structured and administered encourages that kind of vapid contribution. Others will take his place. I'm sure of it.
Banning him wasn't wrong. But I don't think it'll accomplish much unless it's followed up with attempts to make the refdesk unwelcome for that kind of contribution. ApLundell (talk) 15:14, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
(Corollary : If there is some kind of RefDesk reform that adds structure and rules-clarity, it might make sense to provisionally unblock StuRat.) ApLundell (talk) 16:23, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
As StuRat's answers made mine look relatively on-topic and well-sourced, I'm banning myself from the desks till he's safely returned. It's solidarity, not an attempt to escape the new scrutiny. Before I go, I suggest at least one of you chain yourself to a tree and field questions from reporters (if you do it, they will come). InedibleHulk (talk) 19:06, November 4, 2017 (UTC)
Est-ce qu'on entend un écho de Je suis StuRat ? Blooteuth (talk) 19:51, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
Tout le monde est rat! InedibleHulk (talk) 21:04, November 4, 2017 (UTC)
@ User:InedibleHulk: Your post makes no sense to me at all. If you had said As StuRat's answers made mine look relatively off-topic and not well-sourced, ..., that would certainly compute as an argument for solidarity. But as it stands, it just supports the very reasons he was banned in the first place. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 00:34, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
If somebody who made my work look relatively worse was tossed, the power vacuum would slurp me one rung up the ladder. Good riddance, I'd say. When the bottom fell out, we were all pulled down a peg. You might not notice the draught from your still-lofty perch at Jack Tower, but down here by the sewers, well-meaning ruffians are certainly feeling the suck. InedibleHulk (talk) 19:28, November 5, 2017 (UTC)
 :) -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:12, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
In the new milieu no such frivolousness will be tolerated. We have to wiktionary:get down to brass tacks. Under the new whipping process there will be lashes meted out for failure to supply at least three reliable sources for every assertion. Bus stop (talk) 02:06, 5 November 2017 (UTC)

archiving change[edit]

It's been noted that some of the desks have been getting rather empty. As such, there's no need to archive them as quickly; page size isn't as much of a problem these days.
Archiving used to kick in after 4-6 days, depending on the desk. For simplicity, I've just readjusted the archiver to a consistent interval of 7 days, for all desks. (As always, this is easily changed, whenever consensus dictates.) —Steve Summit (talk) 13:15, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

Sounds good. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:22, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Good work. I was wondering if it's also worth considering consolidating the desks. So it wouldn't seem so slow.
ApLundell (talk) 15:22, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Ironically, it was pretty much a single desk originally (if I'm remembering correctly) and was gradually expanded. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:33, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Even earlier it was just one combined Help/Reference Desk. Earliest preserved history is now at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Miscellaneous. Rmhermen (talk) 23:07, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Proposal: operation WTF Renaissance[edit]

There has been a tremendous amount of bad energy affecting the Refdesks lately, and as pointed out above, the volume is way down at the moment. So let's strike a blow at all the Debbie Downers here and simultaneously try to make the Refdesk more valuable to Wikipedia...

1) Read a few articles on Wikipedia. I know you do anyway. 2) STOP when you feel a "WTF???" coming on. Don't just let it lie -- see if there is a real question an article raises that you want to know about. 3) Make a reasonable try to answer it (we don't want people saying "hey just search gooooogle"). 4) Post it. 5) If you get a decent answer, add the source to the article. 6) Repeat, ideally daily, until the Refdesks have recovered their pre-AfD volume.

Anyone up for this? I just tried my first one at the Science desk, about hammock (ecology)s in Namibia. Wnt (talk) 23:18, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

Not that I don't appreciate your positive attitude, and I certainly don't enjoy being one of the Debbie Downers, but I interpreted what I read from the long recent discussions at WP:ANI, WP:VPP etc differently:
If you want the reference desk to thrive and become a place where people actually want to ask questions and expect solid answers, the focus of change/improvement probably should be on the answers, not on the questions. Try to understand what the querent is seeking, keep it referenced and informed, and keep it friendly, don't belittle OPs and their questions (if you feel they're ridiculous, just don't respond), try not to speculate and guess in your answers, don't proselytize and soap-box, don't slip in your personal POV, etc. If we stick to certain principles, then we have a chance of turning this into a useful service, else I, too, think the refdesks have become obsolete and don't care whether they're abolished or not. As pointed out in discussions above, StuRat was an easily targeted warning-example, but the "community's patience" for keeping a reference desks won't increase if we continue as before (or as though StuRat was the crucial problem).
If we offer a good service, then we probably need not worry about traffic, but I don't believe in artificially perpetuating the desks (which is what your proposal looks like to me, even if that wasn't your intention). ---Sluzzelin talk 01:28, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
  • ^^^Mostly this^^^ --Jayron32 02:42, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
Indeed. If I were new here this year, I don't think I'd be back. So much of our responses are "just google it" or "you can't ask this", or people giving "answers" without references. While some of us are still providing good service, I can see why a lot of people are going elsewhere for their needs at present. SemanticMantis (talk) 17:53, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
So they can ask their trolling questions elsewhere? Why is that a problem for Wikipedia? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:48, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
WP:AGF Bugs. Or continue to WP:BITE and push away our patrons. Your call, but until you convince me that you are WP:HERE in good faith to help people find good references, I'll not be discussing this with you further. SemanticMantis (talk) 15:09, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Ref desk postings should be like bowel movements, natural, not forced. That being said, the WE ARE ABOUT TO DELETE THIS SHIT tag at the top of each desk does nothing other than scare people off. I suspect that is actually their real purpose, just as closing the StuRat threads with the comment "only people who oppose StuRat's banning support alternatives" and his being summarily blocked without any history of escalating blocks and warnings was meant to achieve a preconceived end. Let's have those tags removed. I post questions when they occur to me, I am not about to start making stuff up. μηδείς (talk) 05:15, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
I moved the tag to this page. I guess it should be somewhere until that discussion is closed. ---Sluzzelin talk 20:47, 4 November 2017 (UTC) .... Oh crap, I did no such thing, only moved it from Wikipedia:Reference desk, but not from the individual desks where it must be transcluded, but I couldn't figure out immediately where to look, and am about to leave the keyboard. I support removing those tags from the six desks (but leaving one on this talk page until the discussion at the Village Pump has been closed). ---Sluzzelin talk 20:51, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
I removed it from Wikipedia:Reference desk/header, since anyone who saw it and wanted to contribute to the discussion almost certainly has done so. It should disappear from the individual pages once the queue catches up. Deor (talk) 21:00, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
  • The trouble with not responding is that someone else will respond. This is in response to "if you feel they're ridiculous, just don't respond". I think the desks are necessarily conversational. It would be hard not to respond to someone in real life. If something seems ridiculous I think it's OK to brush them off with a dismissive comment. We are not required to be saints. We err when our responses are lengthy and ridiculous. Bus stop (talk) 14:11, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
I like the idea of increasing Ref Desk usefulness ....
... but regulars generating more question on our own seems like it's just reinforcing the "exclusive social club" aspect of the desk and not the "service to readers" aspect.
This proposal is well-intentioned, but I think it would be counter-productive. ApLundell (talk) 23:12, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
Well, It would help defend against the (silly, imo) argument that the ref desks are not helping the greater goals of WP. SemanticMantis (talk) 17:53, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Closure reverted[edit]

I have reverted this [5] closure. Please follow our guidelines, which clearly state that we should sanction answersthat violate our guidelines, rather than closing any question that may seem to be soliciting e.g. medical or legal advice [6]. SemanticMantis (talk) 14:50, 13 November 2017 (UTC)

The guidelines say discouraged and not forbidden. Those are not synonyms. --Jayron32 17:27, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing that out. I assure you that I have read that section many times, and know what it says. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask our users to follow our guidelines, and I do think we should at least make some effort to do what they say, which is that removal offending responses is preferred, and removal of questions is discouraged. SemanticMantis (talk) 17:36, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
You're saying "censor responses, not questions"[7] yet you're negating that by insisting on restoring the responses also. What gives? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:42, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I've re-closed the responses, per SM's own words, and replaced Medeis' signature with mine, so that SM won't be confused. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:49, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I didn't see any responses there that gave legal advice. I have deleted every single response I've ever seen that gave legal or medical advice. If you feel a response contains medical advice, I encourage you to delete that, not the question. and PS:Hey User:Medeis and User:Baseball Bugs. Do you know about WP:BRD? When someone reverts an edit, and then opens a discussion on the talk page, you're supposed to discuss, not edit war. I have re-opened it because that how it should stay until consensus is reached, vis. BRD. SemanticMantis (talk) 17:53, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
You're the one that's edit-warring, and I have now reported you for it. And why did you say "Follow our guidelines. Censor RES[P]ONSES, not questions" if you didn't actually mean it? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:55, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I don't see any reason the question can't be addressed without providing legal or financial advice, and it is not explicitly a request for either.
In general, this word "advice" has been stretched all out of its natural meaning by people whose trigger is set way too light. Look, I have this weird mole, what should I do? is a request for medical advice, but what are the possible things that an oddly shaped mole can be? is not. Similarly, I've been arrested for barratry, what should I do? is a request for legal advice, but what are the possible defenses against a charge of barratry? is not.
In the instant case, the poster asks whether an EU citizen can become a US resident without a degree or job. Then he/she gives background, but the background is not part of the question. The question itself can be answered without giving advice of any sort. --Trovatore (talk) 17:51, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
"Could I become a resident if I am financially independent but without a degree or an "official" job?" How do you figure that doesn't require legal advice? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:54, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
"Could" can mean "Is it possible". It's not restricted to "What should I do". We could, for example, find an example of someone who was in exactly these circumstances and became a resident. Then we proffer that example, with a disclaimer that that's just one isolated case and it may not be appropriate for the OP, but it does demonstrate that it's possible. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 18:16, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
  • @SemanticMantis: If you could stop shouting and edit-warring simultaneously, that would be most appreciated. Thank you — fortunavelut luna 18:19, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
My apologies, I sometimes use bold text to get people's attention. I have now removed the bolding. As for edit warring, that is what I was trying to stop. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I think WP:BRD goes like this: 1) a bold closure was made. 2) I felt it was in error, so I reverted it and brought it here for discussion. 3) We are supposed to leave things as-is until consensus is reached. SemanticMantis (talk) 18:56, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Your comment "censor responses, not questions" implies you would approve of "censoring" the responses. Yet you "un-censored" them. Why? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:01, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Let me direct you to where I answered that question, when you asked me just a little bit ago :[8]. It's just a few lines up the page, and you responded there, so please forgive me if my assumption that you read and understood the comment is inaccurate. SemanticMantis (talk) 19:17, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
What statement there explains why you said "censor responses, not questions" on the edit summary and then contradicted yourself? When you commented on "censor responses" I changed the hat to include the question but "censor" the responses... per your own words.[9] Then you said "BRD Medeis":[10] as you missed that it was I who restored the hat and left the question visible per your own words. If you hadn't said "censor responses", I would have left the whole thing alone. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:24, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Hey Bugs, I will not explain myself to you again. Read my comments or do not, but you've wasted enough of my time already. Yes, I got it wrong, I thought medeis had reverted me when it was you, I apologize for not checking that before accusing her of reverting me. She did that later, [11], still in violation of BRD and good faith editing. SemanticMantis (talk) 21:14, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I will take that as an admission that you messed up with that "censor responses" comment. Consequently, I have closed the edit-warring complaint. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:17, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
That's an odd taking, and not at all how I would have interpreted SemanticMantis's statement. ---Sluzzelin talk 22:08, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
It's the closest he's come to admitting he messed up. His comment said he supported "censoring" responses, and then he apparently changed his mind. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:18, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Note that legal advice is the giving of a professional or formal opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law in relation to a particular factual situation and medical advice is the provision of a formal professional opinion regarding what a specific individual should or should not do to restore or preserve health. On nearly all websites that discuss medical or legal topics, the disclaimer is descriptive ("Whatever we tell you, it's not professional advice in the legal sense of the term"), not prescriptive ("We are forbidden from giving you medical/legal advice in the broader sense") - otherwise sites like WebMD or LabourBlawg would be impossible (or at least very very boring). Our rules similarly should be read not to forbid a general discussion of legal or medical topics (not even for a specific case), but as a rule against giving formal, professional advice, as in "I am a lawyer, I've carefully considered your case, my opinion is X (and you can send my fee to address Y)". The oversensitiveness of some editors for these questions is very hard to understand for me - I can only explain it by either a misunderstanding of the law or a mindset that puts form over substance. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 21:39, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Or putting the interests of Wikipedia ahead of the interests of editors who think we should answer everything even when it requires professional advice. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:44, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
There is no chance that anything we say on Wikipedia is professional advice unless someone explicitly claims he or she is an appropriate professional. This is not a risk to Wikipedia. Your reaction is based on a misunderstanding of the legal situation. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 21:50, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Has that theory ever been tested? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:54, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
In what sense? As far as I know, there never even has been a lawsuit against Wikipedia for providing legal or medical advice (much less for legal or medical malpractice, which would be more to the point), so no legal case has been decided. But in that sense the theory that eating tofu is not aggravated battery also has never been tested... --Stephan Schulz (talk) 22:00, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Does the WMF say it's OK to give professional advice as long as you make it clear that you're not a professional? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:05, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Well, according to a discussion years ago, it's on you, not on the WMF, no matter what your declaration. ---Sluzzelin talk 22:08, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
(ec) You cannot (in the sense "you are not able to", not "you must not") give professional advice unless you are a professional, so the question is vacuous. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 22:13, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
That's a strange interpretation of "cannot" in this context. Also, you talked about other sites having disclaimers. Where is it on the ref desk? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:18, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Bugs, see also this discussion as well as, e.g., Cyberadvice: "The Ethical Implications of Giving Professional Advice over the Internet". Basically, as a professional, you have even less business giving medical or legal advice anonymously via internet. ---Sluzzelin talk 22:22, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Whatever became of the assertion that requests for professional advice are subject to removal? When was that abandoned? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:26, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Medical disclaimer and Wikipedia:Legal disclaimer. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 22:31, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm only seeing those items on the main ref desk page, and not particularly emphasized. Shouldn't they be linked anytime someone asks for professional advice? Especially if you're saying we're not allowed to box up responses to such requests. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:46, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
Comment. Ideally we would work a disclaimer into our response. We would preface what we are about to say with some words that would serve the purpose of distancing ourselves and Wikipedia in general from what we are about to say, on grounds that legal/medical advice should be given by a professional in a more appropriate setting. Bus stop (talk) 04:03, 14 November 2017 (UTC)
Yes, this is completely reasonable. I often write something like "we cannot give legal advice, but we can point you to references on the matter, such as..." This is also what actual reference librarians do if you ask a question that can be interpreted as a request for legal/medical advice. However, we cannot stop certain aggressive and hostile parties from closing down anything they like, so. SemanticMantis (talk) 19:30, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

To SemanticMantis[edit]

I think we're done here. --Jayron32 13:32, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:54, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

To SemanticMantis (talk · contribs): Thank you for contributing to the feeding of a blocked user. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:38, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

While one learned volunteer laboured to cleanse the Science Ref desk of an Evil Entity, another learned volunteer had been labouring to provide an apt and well referenced answer to what is a sensible and answerable question. Rather than expend more efforts or hard feelings on the consequent existential confrontation,[12] I suggest the solution of deleting the whole exchange that Baseball Bugs has hatted, while allowing to stand the question and answer both signed by SemanticMantis. This way the Science desk gains and the Evil Entity is expelled from view. Both BB and SM have earned thanks here. Blooteuth (talk) 22:26, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Normally I would agree that it should be deleted. But given that SM's "I heard somewhere" refers to the blocked editor's question immediately above, keeping the hatted item there puts it in the proper context. And by the way, the IP-OP was blocked long before SM posted his response. SM's lack of vigilance is no justification for keeping his precious pearls of wisdom intact. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:40, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
Take it to user talk. You didn't even reference what this was about. Should you not be welcome on SM's talk page (no idea, haven't checked, just saying "if") then you can post your comment, including the ping, on your own user talk page. It's not needed here. ---Sluzzelin talk 23:05, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
This is about Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science. Review the "baked beans" stuff and you'll see that it precisely belongs here. I didn't want to get into an edit war over this topic. I want some other views on this besides just SM, whose view is pretty much "don't delete anything." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:13, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
This belongs here with some explanation of the "figuring" involved. The bickering between you insects gives cause to wish like Mercutio almost did "A Pyrethrin o' both your houses". Blooteuth (talk) 13:16, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
No, it doesn't. We've already fed the trolling questioner too much. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:15, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
@Baseball_Bugs The Science Ref. Desk is not for you to treat as a Twitter account for ruminations such as "I figured IP User was the banned user Light Current". Your preoccupation with that user has been going on for YEARS from as far back as 12:07 12 July 2012 when you declared "DriveByWire --> 'Wire' as a hint for "Current" is pretty obvious". Really? It seems you wish to keep adding to the present over 200 pages in category "Suspected Wikipedia sockpuppets of Light Current" but you haven't realized that it is you (if anyone) that puppet has most to thank for encouragement. The bug should stop here. Blooteuth (talk) 17:52, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The question of whether to answer serious questions about a puerile subject from IP users who can be identified with a varying degree of probability with a certain blocked/banned user may have some interest, but neither the pointy echoing of such a question nor this aggressive thread (seriously, the first post here needs at least a diff) will help to answer it. However, what it probably does is encourage further such questions (trolls enjoy being fed), more than either approach (ignoring/hatting the question, or answering it in a serious tone). I do not know what to suggest since apparently only cold ashes are left of the bridges between you two, but the current modus operandi is probably suboptimal. TigraanClick here to contact me 18:00, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
I think suspected trolling should be addressed by careful engagement with the suspected troll. If we don't want to encourage trolling we should attempt to converse with a suspected troll. In general we should want to expose the troll as being a troll. This is sometimes accomplished by asking questions for "clarification". Most trolls do not even respond. Some trolls respond once. But no real troll will carry on a sustained conversation. Dealing with trolls is a battle of wits. The form that most trolling takes is the one carefully crafted post. It may look haphazard but I think it often is not. That is because a ploy is to play on the sympathies of those responding to such posts. I think the most effective response is the carefully crafted followup question. Trolling becomes ineffective in extended conversations. It becomes increasingly uncomfortable for a troll to carry on a conversation that they can see will eventually expose their pranksterish motivation. Bus stop (talk) 18:37, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
That never worked with Light Current. I got tired of fighting that banned user, and instead offered him an olive branch, which he spat on. However, after I stopped posting his socks at AIV, he mostly went away. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:57, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
Blocked. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:06, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
I'm the OP of the question. I very rarely ask questions on the reference desk, but when I do I use open proxies for privacy reasons.
This is allowed per Wikipedia:Open proxies "Open or anonymising proxies, including Tor, may be blocked from editing for any period at any time. While this may affect legitimate users, they are not the intended targets and may freely use proxies until those are blocked." What happened here is that shortly after use an automated bot will block the open proxy. It was not a targeted block at me for "being a troll" or anything like that, it is an automated process by a bot that searches for open proxies. It will happen again with this IP address too. But nothing I did contravenes any Wikipedia rules, per WP:PROXY.
In terms of the question itself, it was a serious question and I didn't mean to cause any disruption. I didn't think that a serious scientific question about the carbohydrate content of food would be off-limits on the science desk. I'm sorry it has caused so much drama, that was not my intention. Thanks. (talk) 18:41, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for posting. The OP of the question had IP address which locates to Stuttgart, Germany. Your IP address locates to Malaysia which is a long way from Stuttgart. You will need to provide more information to prove credibility. I hope some of the response at the science desk is useful to you. Regards Blooteuth (talk) 13:11, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
Placing my above commentary into context, I neglected to even look at the post under discussion, the one on the science desk. My comments are just general comments. Bus stop (talk) 18:49, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:54, 16 November 2017 (UTC)