Wikipedia talk:Reference desk

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For general questions, use the Reference Desks
Please post general questions on the relevant reference 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.
For guideline issues and policy proposals, use the relevant subpage
The guidelines for the Reference desk are at Wikipedia:Reference desk/guidelines.
Please discuss issues concerning the guidelines on its associated talk page, Wikipedia talk:Reference desk/guidelines, and more general proposals at the Village Pump.
Off topic discussions may be moved.
For discussion about professional advice on the desks, use the relevant subpage
Please discuss professional advice on Wikipedia talk:Reference desk/Professional advice.
Please don't post comments here that are about professional advice.
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[edit] One true religion is back

User:Bowei Huang is back with another question about the one true religion on the hum desk. After[1] above, is there a step two? Julia Rossi (talk) 08:51, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

I could me missing something but (IMHO) it looks as though the OP is saying/asking the following:
  • He has encountered christians who believe that Christianity is the only path to god/heaven (or whatever).
  • Do these zoroastrianists believe the same thing? Do they claim to have evidence supporting these beliefs?
  • Don't analyse these claims.
I can't see the problem here. If someone has a decent source they should link it, if not, ignore the question. But like I said, I could be missing something. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 10:52, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I just saw his/her question on the Misc desk. The first question is silly and the second one is inappropriate. I've replied but I won't mind if the entire thread is removed. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 11:10, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I answered the first question with a straight bat, unaware that this was a persistent line of questioning. I have no objection to removal of my response if the questions are becoming problematic. Rockpocket 11:21, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't know how things go, but this user was warned back in Feb (on BH talk page) and kept coming via the ip address as well. I don't feel strongly either way, but it's a pity to keep feeding what by now has soap flakes all over it. Probably needed to be followed up since the warning. Julia Rossi (talk) 08:53, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] New approach to legal/medical advice

Our current approach to questions that appear to ask for legal/medical/(insert licensed profession here) advice is to delete the question and all of its answers. I don't think this is a very good one—it leads to all sorts of disagreements about what is or is not a "legal advice" question, it alienates potential question-askers (who are sometimes asking perfectly good questions), it often ends up clogging up the question/answer section with all sorts of RD-specific debates (does this violate policy, etc.), and in the end I don't think it's helpful to anyone or good for the working environment of the Ref Desk. I also think it is one of these policies that will inevitably err on the side of being too strict and conservative, because the supposed arguments against the "legal advice" questions (OMG WIKIPEDIA WILL GET SUED!!) provoke more fear than the opposite position (OMG PEOPLE WILL NOT GET ANSWERS AND WE'LL END UP HATING EACH OTHER AND BICKERING!!), even though the latter case is certainly more likely than the former case (and does more harm over the long-term of the Ref Desk), in my opinion.

So here's a suggestion: Let's not nix the questions. Let's nix the answers.

Let's say you see a question that says something simple like, "My eye hurts, what should I do?" The answer should not be "We can't answer questions like that." The answer is, "Go see a doctor," or "There are many reasons it could be hurting, ranging from the trivial to the very serious. It's important that you see a professional, who will be able to examine it and give an informed answer, unlike anyone on the internet." Answers which suggest ad hoc medical solutions should be deleted and the person who suggested them should be told not to offer them up. Perhaps a little warning could be put on the question: "This question appears to solicit medical advice; any answers which give medical advice will be deleted."

What about "legal advice"? If we get a question like, "A cop searched my car without a warrant, is that legal?" the answers could be mixed—good answers would point out that (in the US), there are certain ways in which a police officer can, in fact, search a car without a warrant (e.g. if they are given probable cause). That is not a "legal advice" answer. A bad answer would say, "You should claim X and Y and Z on the stand, and sue his ass" or whatever. Those should be deleted. An even better good answer would point out, "The best person to talk about the legality of this issue in your specific case is a lawyer, because only someone well-trained in criminal justice is going to be able to make determinations about the specifics in this instance, e.g. whether or not a judge and jury would find this legal or not."

This answer-centric approach puts the burden on us, the answerers, not the questioners. I think it would be an easier system to enforce and lead to a lot less ill-will. I also think it would be more useful, on the whole—it is better to say "I'm sorry, no one on here is going to be able to answer that, please talk to a professional" than it is to delete a question entirely.

And I think it would avoid the situations in which someone ignorant of a given subject area declares something to be "legal/medical advice"—in the sense that it would endanger Wikipedia to give an answer—when anyone with a little more knowledge could sort it out. "Are names from a 100 year old census copyrightable in the US?" (to use one example currently on the Misc desk) is as non-legal-advice a question for someone even moderately versed in copyright law to answer as "Do my lungs have something to do with getting oxygen into my blood supply?" would be a non-medical advice question to someone who knew basic anatomy.

What do you think? Sorry to go on and on. But I think this is something we should think over. I think some people have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to deleting questions of this sort, and I think it doesn't do a lot of good. I think having a policy like the one I outline above would make this a lot easier to enforce and also avoid more situations of over-eagerness to classify things as "medical" and "legal" advice. --Captain Ref Desk (talk) 15:54, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that there will still be bickering about whether a deleted answer actually constituted medical or legal advice. For what it's worth – before you joined the Desk, Captain – we did try responding to requests for medical advice with advice to seek appropriate medical care. Unfortunately, we're unable to educate and train every person who comes to the Desk and attempts to answer questions. These helpful but misguided souls will attempt to offer diagnoses and treatment suggestions even when explicitly advised not to do so. ("I didn't offer a diagnosis, I just said what might be wrong with him; that's okay, isn't it?") The only way we've found to stop the helpful newbies is to remove the questions entirely.
As well, the proposed approach approach ensures that answers offering medical or legal advice are likely to remain in place for minutes, hours, days, or possibly forever—it's would be extremely time-consuming to have to screen the Desks for legal or medical advice on a regular basis. Pulling a question seeking medical advice once is much more effective than removing each and every answer to that question as it appears.
We're a fast turnover environment. My own casual examination of performance last year indicated we responded to two-thirds of all questions asked on the Science Desk in under an hour (see Image:Questions Answered Science Ref Desk.gif).. It's quite likely that advice will be read and the harm from incorrect or dangerous advice will already be done long before anyone gets around to removing that advice. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 16:17, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Another advantage of Captain's proposal would be that questioners would have a chance of seeing what inappropriate questions look like. Also, if they ask a question and the response is "we can't give medical advice" they may respond with a clarification or alteration of their question to make answering it okay.
But TenOfAllTrades's caveat is important. I guess we'll keep things the way they are. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 17:37, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm with Ten on this one. To summarise your reasons for not removing requests for professional advice:
1. Disagreements around what is or isn't "advice"
2. Alienates the OP
3. It may have been a good question
4. It clogs up the desk
5. Not helpful
6. Not good for the RD's working environment
Numbers 1,3 and 4 are mitigated (to zero IMO) if all removals of requests for medical advice are reported here. Now I'm not sure if this always happens but current practice (as far as I understand it) demands it. One would have to go through the history of each desk and in the absence of edit summaries, determining whether a removal went unreported would be impossible. I certainly HOPE that all removals (of requests for professional advice) are reported here (not on the desk itself).
Regarding number 5, I agree that the removal doesn't really help anyone but we would be doing the OP a great disservice if we exposed him/her to potentially dangerous advice from an over-zealous answerer.
As far as 6 is concerned, I am of the opinion (and the guidelines are with me) that the RD isn't an appropriate place to request (or provide) professional advice. So I don't think the working envronment is hampered by this. I may have misunderstood what you meant by this though.
Which leaves us with number 2. Unfortunately the current system is not perfect and alienation of the OP is a problem we have to deal with. A message on his/her talk page might help with this. I don't however think that it is enough of a problem to warrant such a paradigm shift.
Zain Ebrahim (talk) 19:28, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
My two bits is to identify the information-seeking part of the question and put forward anything wikipedia at least, has to offer. It's different from suggesting personal solutions, applications, or points of view that might constitute advice. Giving references or links comes down to information, asare are pointers to other links, for instance, official sources that the OP can't find otherwise. Another thought is that OPs don't always know how to ask for what they want, but being told where to look or where else to ask is helpful. Fwiw, Julia Rossi (talk) 09:05, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Captain Ref Desk. Leaving legal or medical questions viewable will not get Wikipedia sued, but answering them could. We should remove specific "advice", but the OP's question should remain with a small note about not giving legal / medical advice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:10, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
TenOfAllTrades already explained that if blatant requests for advice are left on the desk, nothing stops a "misguided soul" from providing incorrect advice.
If, however, there isn't a blatant request for advice there would be no reason (or impulse) for said soul to provide said advice which is why I think that Julia Rossi might be on to something here. So if a question asks for information and advice, we remove the part asking for advice and provide the information asked for (some editing may be required). If a question asks for advice only, we edit it into a question for information and provide the information. As long as people are prepared to do the extra work, I think this is an excellent idea! It certainly helps with problem number 2 and everyone (including the OP) should be satisfied. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 15:30, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Editing the substance of another user's post has always been highly frowned on, though (and I don't see Julia suggesting this at all). — Lomn 02:22, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
If you were the OP and had to choose between having your question removed or edited, which would you choose? I see now that she didn't but reading her post made me think about this. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 07:34, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I see that I may have poorly described what I meant (perhaps "edit" is the wrong word). I wasn't suggesting we put words into the OP's mouth. Something to the effect of:
User:So-and-so requested medical advice. The RD cannot provide advice but it can provide information (Insert request for information here) Zain Ebrahim (talk) 08:34, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
is what I'm suggesting. But I do realise that it would require someone actually doing this. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 08:34, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I like it. Takes care of things. Only have to decide what to do about the well-meaning advice contribs, now. Julia Rossi (talk) 08:41, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I do not disagree with this, but I feel that I must note how well it was accepted in the past. I told a user who asked a question that he should simply ask for information. Do not include personal information, medical history, and all that stuff. Just ask for information. I was attacked for trying to help users trick the RD into giving advice. That led me to proposing the following: "When answering medical (or legal) questions, only give information. If you cannot answer the question by only giving information, then you are giving a diagnosis or advice. In that case, the question is asking for a diagnosis or advice and doesn't belong on the RD." The response to that was that nobody can agree on what the difference between "information" and "diagnosis/advice" is, so it solves nothing. -- kainaw 13:18, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I have spent my life working outdoors in the sunshine. Now I've discovered a black spot on my skin. What could it be? Mellow Gnome 23:14, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
User:Mellow Gnome requested medical advice. The RD cannot provide advice but it can provide information. Liver spots are blemishes on the skin associated with aging and exposure to ultra-violet radiation from the sun. They range in color from light brown to red or black, and are very common in people from the age of 40 onwards, particularly in those who spend time in the sunshine. IANAD 00:01, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
This is the big problem. Providing information on liver spots is a diagnosis that the problem is a liver spot. Claiming that you are simply providing information is not enough. The information must be asked for. That question did not ask for any information on liver spots. It asked for information about a "black spot on my skin". -- kainaw 14:17, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. Per Kainaw, the sample response illustrates the problem quite neatly: "We're sorry, but we can't provide you with a diagnosis. Here's some information on a possible diagnosis." This particular implicit diagnosis also puts the life of the questioner at risk; it may generate a false sense of security through the omission of potentially lethal etiologies like melanoma. The mere assertion that a diagnosis is purely "information" is insufficient—a diagnosis is a diagnosis regardless of what label one chooses to apply to it.
In some cases, the error or omission may not be so obvious as here, and – and this is key – the contributors to the Ref Desk are not qualified to nor capable of safely judging the limits of their knowledge of medicine. Without formal medical training and a proper patient history and physical exam, we are in no position to offer even possible diagnoses. We are an encyclopedia, not a walk-in clinic. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 14:54, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

(Remove indent) How about this:
I have spent my life working outdoors in the sunshine. Now I've discovered a black spot on my skin. What could it be? Mellow Gnome 23:14, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

User:Mellow Gnome requested medical advice. The RD cannot provide advice but it can provide information. Helpful Contributor 23:14, 31 December 2009 (UTC)</
See this for a list of skin diseases. IA also NAD 00:01, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

The trick is trying to find a solution that doesn't give the "misguided souls" any reason to provide harmful advice and doesn't alienate the OP so that he/she may come back in the future with a better question instead of turning into a vengeful vandal/troll. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 15:17, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that that 'trick' still doesn't work. Referring them to the list of skin diseases presumes that their condition actually is pathological, when it might just be a dark freckle, an ink stain, or the aforementioned liver spots. Scaring the OP unnecessarily is still harmful. (That also ignores the problem that the list of skin diseases is likely to be incomplete, and that it's not particularly useful to the OP anyway—most of the diseases listed there don't present with dark skin spots, and there's no way to figure out which ones do without reading all of the linked articles.)
If someone is going to come back as a vengeful vandal or troll just because we refuse to diagnose their skin disorder – and instead politely refer them to appropriate experts – they're probably not mature enough to edit here anyway. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 15:29, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

It's ridiculous that we're going to deny answering any question at all regarding human physiology and/or the legal system because we're going to get "sued" for saying "maybe you brushed against poison ivy". The day a judge and jury holds Wikipedia liable for giving medical advice is the day I pack my axe and move to Europe. Ziggy Sawdust 14:55, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Once more, this is not about not getting sued. It is about not doing harm.  --Lambiam 04:03, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] idle question

In the boilerplate section at the top of each Desk, where it says

, what are those three wikilinks for? —Steve Summit (talk) 11:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

A somewhat gratuitous use of wikilinks to enable the user to confirm these basic concepts. Not considered harmful. --Tagishsimon (talk) 12:21, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Clearly we expect every reader to read the instructions at the top of the page thoroughly – and to follow all the wikilinks there – so that they can participate fully and safely in the Reference Desks. These detailed and comprehensive instructions insure that we never get questions seeking homework solutions, requests for detailed medical advice, questions that can be answered by trivial uses of Google or the Search box, or posts that reveal personal information.
The occasional editors who doesn't follow our clear guidelines has no doubt had trouble because the sloppy creators of the header boilerplate have failed to provide explanatory links to homework, Internet, search engine, and question. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 12:36, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Ordering of the words on the main RD page

On the index page type thing there are lists of what goes where underneath the subject title. Why is the order they are in... the order they are in? At the moment it seems sort of random, and for instance on the Entertainment list TV shows are after Video games even though video game questions are fairly infrequent on that desk.

Surely they should be in order of "importance" (although I know this will vary from person to person) or at least Alphabetial order?

The same could be said about the actual topics. I am fairly sure the Science desk gets more questions per day that computer questions for instance. I'd suggest something like Science, Maths, Language, Humanities on the top row (these are topics that seem fairly unique to the RD, I don't know many forums or anything that cover these topics) then Computing, Entertinment, Misc and Archives on the second row (because the first two have many other places people can go to, and Misc doesn't really fit anywhere, and Archives should obviously be last). What do you think?

TheGreatZorko (talk) 09:19, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] linking a question's main topic

If at all possible, I suggest wiki-linking one's first answer to the article on the main topic, unless the asker or someone else have already done so. Occasionally, we even get threads of extensive answers by multiple editors with links to all sorts of relevant articles, except for the main topic. (just one recent example, where I actually wanted to read the article: "The Crimes of Kaiser Bill"). Even if the article neither addresses the question nor contains any relevant information, links are useful to readers, and also to people who search the archives for old questions by hitting the "What links here function" on keyword articles.

I guess we sometimes also assume the key article has already been linked above, but this is often not the case. I would fix it on sight, but it is considered bad etiquette to weave links into other people's posts, be they querents or volunteers. Which is why I'm pointing it out here. A minor request, for those who care. Thank you. ---Sluzzelin talk 11:31, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Sluzzelin, I seem to have developed a blind spot here. In giving my answer I assumed that the Kaiser had already been linked, which was clearly not the case. I would normally make these links as a matter of simple procedure. I shall now rectify the oversight, assuming this has not already been done. Clio the Muse (talk) 22:20, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Something wrong in the archives

Something is wrong in the Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/May 2008 for the May 2nd section number 10. I don't know how to fix it. Could someone take a look? xxx User:Hyper Girl 09:44, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

OK I think I fixed it but could someone please check. xxx User:Hyper Girl 09:46, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
The little botster left off the question title which you added; now it's all blue, looks okay to me. Julia Rossi (talk) 00:48, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] May 11 Missing

It seems that all the desks did not have May 11 added after midnight. All the questions are being entered under May 10, I'm not sure how to fix this. SunshineStateOfMind (talk) 19:40, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm just after going round and manually adding may 11th for each desk, but I'm guessing that there is a malfunctioning bot involved somewhere Fribbler (talk) 20:37, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the manual additions, Fribbler. The "malfunction" was merely that the manually-invoked bot did not get invoked for two days while I was on vacation (visiting my dear mother for Mother's Day). All should return to normal at 00:00 UTC tonight. —Steve Summit (talk) 21:25, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Vandalism

Why, that was certainly amusing. But, say, what just happened on this ref desk? How was this acheived? Scaller (talk) 22:49, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Edit. Oh D'OH, I posted this on the discussion page rather than the actual page. Well, that means the vandalism is still not gone. If you don't mind my failure, I'd still love an answer. Pardon the ill placed question. Scaller (talk) 22:51, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

:::Actually, I found I could highlight the text, and look at the hidden text that way. The vandalism seems to be dealt with there, and I reckon this should yield me answers. Scaller (talk) 22:54, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I hope I wasn't the only one to see the end of the misc. reference desk covered with some black writing ("pageeedia")? Scaller (talk) 23:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] April Trolls in May

I've removed a trolling Avril Lavigne question twice - first here, note the OP was an IP. This was then reposted to Language by "Doctor Dangerous" who I am having AGF trouble with to begin with, my removal here. Note also this section from the good doctor. --LarryMac | Talk 17:57, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

OK, now the troll posts are coming from Tor exit nodes. Anybody want to help? --LarryMac | Talk 20:47, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
I added a note on AN/I --LarryMac | Talk 20:54, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm going to stop so you can't block my Tor. Now I'll begin with user names, and by god I have plenty of sleeper accounts! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
That's what checkuser is for. --Random832 (contribs) 00:18, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
What is this all about? If that message above is really, this may be first contact with an alien species! --S.dedalus (talk) 01:09, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
More like the billionth contact. bibliomaniac15 03:25, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
LOL, well, this is the first time I’ve seen a self confessed, unrepentant troll publicly state that they intend to continue their mayhem. Trolls usually rely on the pretext that they’re legit. users “just asking for information.” --S.dedalus (talk) 05:34, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Your first candidate: User:Seven seven and eleven - see this RD Q about AL. --Tagishsimon (talk) 07:57, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
Lol, you lot make me laugh. Emac1 (talk) 13:27, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Enjoy the trolls, people, I'm out. --LarryMac | Talk 23:10, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I've blocked three five Avril Lavigne ref desk troll accounts - can we list them here as they appear? Any TOR IPs, list them also. I will block the lot on sight. Neıl 11:37, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
User:Pikecatcher too. There were three of them arguing amongst themselves on Talk:Avril Lavigne. Reckon that this is one person doing it for the lulz, or have a bunch of guys come here on a mission from a webforum/one of the *chans? Has a checkuser been requested yet? --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 11:54, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
It's all coming in over TOR proxies, I believe. I have a feeling its one person but it's hard to tell without being a checkuser. I don't know if one has been requested. On the plus side, it's an easy way to spot troll sleeper accounts and TOR proxies. Neıl 12:51, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
User:Terror toad blocked. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 12:47, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
User:Rod summator‎ blocked.That one changed one of the transcluded templates (twice) so all of the Reference Desks were displaying an ASCII art picture instead of the needed navigation. -- Atlant (talk) 12:49, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
He hit Wikipedia:Reference desk/header/leftside, too; took I while to find because of all the pages the header is spread over. Algebraist 13:53, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
OK, this is getting a bit out of hand. I am the Avril troll, but I only started this because I enjoyed reading the witty comments to the Avril questions. I am willing to stop my disruption of the reference desk, on the condition that I am allowed to ask one legitimate Avril question per day without it being removed. I think that is fair. I am also willing to provide a list of past and present sockpuppet and sleeper accounts that I have been using. Please note, I will communicate with you only through this account, and if blocked I will resume my disturbance with renewed enthusiasm. Hot JJ (talk) 14:20, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Why do you insist on asking the Avril questions here? Surely, there are fan sites that are more appropriate for this, albeit without the witty comments. (Btw, I accept your apology). Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:34, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Because Wikipedia has such a vibrant and varied community. The most one can expect from yahoo answers or fan sites is "yes" "no" "lol I'd bang here" etc. Wikipedia offers a medium through which thoughtful answers are produced as a result of a Wikipedian's desire to provide an accurate and helpful reply. Hot JJ (talk) 14:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, I admit I'm amused by your admission. I guess if you stop socking and stick to one account, I have no objections to your Avril questions, especially if you're willing to stop flooding the desks. I hope you do realize, however, that a lot of contributors are not that into tenacious perpetuation of ref-desk memes, and I for one will no longer be your circus pony. :-) ---Sluzzelin talk 14:45, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I understand. So the limit is one Avril question a day, from this account? Do I have an assurance that they will not be removed? Hot JJ (talk) 14:48, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Lol, you need to work on your negotation skills. No sir, it's not a done deal and there are no guarantees. You have but one mild don't-really-care approval, but I don't care if your Avril questions get removed either. The reference desk is neither your social laboratory, nor your playpen. ---Sluzzelin talk 14:52, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
(after ec)Such assurance would be impossible to give because anyone can edit WP. Also, why were you not using the Ent desk? If I remember, most of the questions were on the Misc desk. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:54, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Very well, I will use the Entertainment Desk, unless the question is more relevant to science or language for example, in which case I will ask it there. But, can I at least have an assurance that Avril questions will not be subjected to a unfairly biased reaction, will be treated on an AGF basis and judged solely on their individual merit alone? Hot JJ (talk) 15:38, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

User Hot JJ has been banned, and any additional sock-puppets of this user will also be banned. Please report suspected return appearances to the Administrator's noticeboard.

Atlant (talk) 15:48, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

What the hell? He was being perfectly rational. Unblock him. Ziggy Sawdust 18:46, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
That must be a usage of the phrase 'perfectly rational' with which I'm not entirely familiar. Good block, Atlant. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 19:10, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I didn't actually do the ban, although I was certainly warming up to do it. (I did edit the former user's talk page, though, announcing the ban.) But for Ziggy Sawdust's benefit, let me just explain that we don't negotiate with disrupters as to how just how much of their disruption we'll tolerate. And lately, the Avril Lavigne gang has been doing quite a lot of large-scale disruption; perhaps Ziggy has not noticed all of it.
Atlant (talk) 23:58, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
And now see these two threads below.
It's fine, Ziggy, to Assume Good Faith (indeed we're required to, of course); it's fine to give people the benefit of the doubt. But there comes a time... —Steve Summit (talk) 03:19, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Junk food discussion

User:Q Chris removed a paragraph I had written in the junk food discussion on WP:RD/M. I understand his motivation, but I feel that if User:FisherQueen's offensive (IMO) comment to the anon who began the thread is permitted, so should my response to FisherQueen. Ideally, the conversation never should have started, as the RD is supposed to be immune to debates. Should we just delete the whole section? -- Mwalcoff (talk) 11:24, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Diff showing the removal. The defense of "she's doing it, why can't I?" is never very persuasive. And no, the whole section should not be removed, assuming good faith toward the OP, perhaps he or she is preparing for a debate and there is plenty of factual content provided. --LarryMac | Talk 13:15, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
FQ's response was perhaps coming close a 'personal attack' but was not one IMHO and in any case, was a meaningful response even if poorly worded. On the other hand, your comment was a clear violation of WP:NPA, added little to the discussion and so indeed should have been removed. Nil Einne (talk) 06:11, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] obscure meta-question

Anyone who's bored might derive some amusement from trying to figure out this question on my talk page. I know what ACSR is -- Atlant and I wrote the page after an RD discussion a while back -- but I can't imagine what the referred-to code words and animal names might be. —Steve Summit (talk) 01:18, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Juliet and Paris

<moved to miscellaneous desk here[2]>

[edit] Removal of questions

I posted a serious question on Humanities about the English Reformation, using an expression taken from a poem by Brendan Behan, which I assumed people here would have some knowledge of. I was wrong. It was removed by an individual who goes by the name of DigitalC. Is this your new policy, shoot first and ask questions later? By what right had this person to remove my questioon in such a rude and high handed manner? Is he your policeman? I think this is ATROCIOUS conduct, action taken in such an arbitrary way without any kind of consensus. I am sorry to go on but I am really ANGRY.Tim O'Neil (talk) 07:15, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

PS this person hs now sent me a note about assuming good faith, or something like that. Well, what about this assumption with regard to me? Tim O'Neil (talk) 07:15, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

PPS I see from the edit history of the humanities desk that he described my question as 'vandalism' prior to removal. What price now assumptions of good faith an civility? This DigitalC person has clearly taken it upon himself to play fast and loose with your protocols. Tim O'Neil (talk) 07:27, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

For what it is worth, here is my take on this snafu. Your original question "Ballocks of Henry VIII - Was these the real cause of the English Reformation" looked odd because it lacked context and because it was the first edit from a new use account. On the other hand, DigitalC probably acted too hastily when they removed it - the question was not positively harmful or obviously in contravention of the Reference Desk guidelines. It would have been better if DigitalC had left a message on your talk page asking you to reword or expand the question. Alternatively, Digital C could have left a note on this talk page explaining the removal. Anyway, your new version of the question now provides context, which will help readers to give you a useful response, so everything is now fine.
As a general rule, when other editors do not do things in the way we would like, it is not because they are being deliberately rude or obstructive - it is more likely that they are tired, or in a hurry, or simply not aware of how things are usually done. When I get annoyed by other editors' actions on Wikipedia I find it helpful to read this essay. Gandalf61 (talk) 08:57, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Removing trolls' good questions

There were a fair number of good questions among the recent spate of questions from the Avril/Summer troll (under his/her various aliases). Most of these questions were copied verbatim from Scientific American and other Q&A sites but there were others (e.g. "Do worms have brains?"). Either he/she believes that posting good faith questions might reduce his/her chances of being blocked (for the rest of the questions) or he/she doesn't agree with the answers given on those sites. If we AGF then we assume the latter, in which case he/she should inform us that there is an answer and he/she just wants a second opinion.

I responded quite harshly to these questions (in particular the worms one to which I apologised) and I realise now that I was wrong to do so. Here's a removal of many of good questions. My question is: is it cool to remove these questions? Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:11, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

I guess the one sensible reason for removal in cases like this is the desire to dissuade the repeat-posters by denying recognition. Though that approach makes sense, I think we should be careful when removing entire threads where people have invested time and brain power into coming up with good answers. Not only can it be confusing and discourteous to the affected volunteers, but these answers, if they're good, are also interesting to a wider community of readers, and having to remove them is a shame too. If you manage to nip repeated trollery in the bud (i.e. before anyone answered in good faith), I say go for it though. ---Sluzzelin talk 14:39, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree, now that I look at these questions with a cool head, I see they're quite interesting. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:43, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree the questions were interesting -- maybe too interesting and polished -- but for me, it's not the questions quality it's the intent behind them. I hope there's space now for people who really do have questions, and need answers. Sorry if I haven't caught up with all this, it's been nuanced beyond belief by a troll who even impersonates people with literacy problems. Busy, clever and disruptive and a lesson to me. I can feel a pang if I've fed a bad-faith questioner and my stuff is gone, but the more important thing for me is people stopping their run on the desks -- that feels much better. And maybe the higher aim can bring us a new engaged editor. Who knows? I dream on,  : ) Julia Rossi (talk) 23:03, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Checking my calibration

I just removed this question from the Science desk, as it provides a set of symptoms (fatigue, dizziness) and seeks an explanation.

The original author restored the question, and I've now removed it for a second time. I think that this is a clear-cut request for medical advice of the sort that we don't – and can't – offer, but I welcome second opinions. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 01:32, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree with your assessment. Ziggy is describing personal symptoms, and the symptoms are described as out of the ordinary, Ziggy is not just asking for information on a medical topic, but asking for possible diagnoses to a specific case. Clear-cut in my view too. ---Sluzzelin talk 03:09, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
I wasn't asking for a diagnosis, I was simply asking if anyone else had experience with this, I swear to God Almighty that I'm not going to take the answer seriously and/or sue Wikipedia. (when typing that line, my eyes moved across and it just happened again, lol) Ziggy Sawdust 14:57, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Post to Village pump on Refdesk etiquette

Here Algebraist 14:13, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] a word that describes a pictogram

Moved to language desk. Gwinva (talk) 23:44, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] avril

Why am I seeing to images of Avril Lavigne overlaying the Entertainment desk. It is not an edit to the page. It looks like a background image was changed - and it is overlaying the questions but not the sidebar or top links sections. Rmhermen (talk) 18:23, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

I saw it too in the comp desk. Was going to fix it but couldn't find it. Was wondering what the heck and came her to discuss it but when reading you comment it occured to me it must have been in one of the templates and has already been fixed. Nil Einne (talk) 18:26, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Found it Wikipedia:Reference desk/header/leftside Nil Einne (talk) 18:31, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Ooops wrong one Wikipedia:Reference desk/header/howtoask Nil Einne (talk) 18:33, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Should these headers be protected? Rmhermen (talk) 18:33, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree (see below) Nil Einne (talk) 18:35, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - it's on my watchlist. This is the second time this has happened. I thought he would be happy talking to himself on his own desk but apparently he's become bored again. I would suggest reporting all of his socks to WP:AN/I. I did it last time - I think someone else should have a go now. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 18:37, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
The same pics were decorating the Language desk. I couldn't find the right template to correct. Xn4 19:32, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Templates

Given the very large number of probably complicated templates, and the unlikelyhood that most of them should be changed by without discussion, shouldn't they be protected, or at least semi-protected? Nil Einne (talk) 18:35, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Whooops looks like someone is ahead of us [3] Nil Einne (talk) 18:40, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
Acalamari now semi-protected eleven template pages. I added them to my watchlist. In the off-chance that an IP editor wishes to see anything modified, I suggest posting requests on this page here though. And if anyone watching the pages does see a constructive suggestion posted on one of the templates' talk pages, I suggest moving it here too. I don't know how well-watched these templates are. ---Sluzzelin talk 19:12, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
User:Leach of life avrilized one of the templates and got blocked. Full protection or dance of the chorus socks, until they're all spent? ---Sluzzelin talk 19:22, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
zzuuzz fully protected them as High-risk templates. [4] Show's over. ---Sluzzelin talk 19:27, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] St. Tim The Aposhill

Seems the recent spate of St. John the apostle questions are from the same anon user who gave us the Tim Cahill q's. Just a note :-) Fribbler (talk) 10:10, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

I just got a double dose of parc so that when I questioned the aposhill being timcahill and politely did a good faith edit on top of it, I got a huge flag of AvLav all over my browser. Someone must be onto it. I hope, Julia Rossi (talk) 10:47, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
WRT your recent AvLav-ing - who and where? --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 01:14, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Here{} on the Misc desk, May 21 etc. Julia Rossi (talk) 10:51, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] An end to the Avril Lavigne trolling

I am officially announcing that I intend to give up trolling and vandalism on the Reference Desk. I am the so called "Avril Troll" (by the way I really dislike that name, I'd prefer the "Avril Admirer" or something) but I've grown bored, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to think up new ways to disrupt the Reference Desk. I've had fun, and I thank Wikipedia for indulging in my Avril fixation. I guess this is testimony to the amazing work of the Wikipedians who sought to stop my mayhem, and who knows, maybe one day I'll be the one fighting the vandals. Anyway, thank you all, and Goodbye. -- The Avril Troll —Preceding unsigned comment added by User:Rightgoer (talk • contribs)

If you really really promise, you're stopping -- let me say that you have the skills and the energy to be a good editor here. Take care, bye-bye, Julia Rossi (talk) 10:53, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Unprotect my header now? Or give me sysop so I don't have to deal with these retarded frustrating restrictions. Full protection is a terrible idea that spits in the face of tens of thousands of valuable editors. .froth. (talk) 04:11, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Which one? It looks like it is only semi protected. David D. (Talk) 05:15, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Farewell, Avril-man. I didn't particularly enjoy your company (which should be a compliment to a troll), but I understand. I was once a troll myself. Take care. May our paths cross again someday. Ziggy Sawdust 07:03, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
PS. If you're looking for quality trolling, try Conservapedia.
David, the eleven templates listed here are still fully protected. Lovely hyperbole there, froth, tens of thousands of editors who wish to chisel away on these templates, day in, day out, are now soaked in admin sputum. Did you even notice how things were getting out of hand? I'm not even opposed to semi- or even full unprotection, but surely there's no urgency. ---Sluzzelin talk 09:29, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I guess i didn't notice. Certainly a trol that has figured out to target the templates rather than the ref pages directly is a problem. David D. (Talk) 16:13, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
My understanding is that the full protection of high-visibility templates is to protect the largest and most valuable group who use Wikipedia: our readers. We'd rather not spit in the face of millions of visitors. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 13:01, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Just one example: me and my low-tech laptop. The last few template-vandalizing images made me have to reboot my system twice. Seriously, froth, if you have any urgent changes to make, you can suggest them here and I'm sure you will find an administrator willing to make the amendments. For now we should wait with unprotection until the nonsense has gone away permanently (including announcements of going away). ---Sluzzelin talk 13:22, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, what? "my header"? Nobody owns anything around here. --LarryMac | Talk 15:55, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Julia that this guy has the skills to be a good editor - IMHO he was one of the most resourceful trolls ever. So referring to protection of the headers as a retarded frustrating restriction is unfair. Where are these tens of thousands of editors? Why can't they recommend changes to the headers here? Zain Ebrahim (talk) 16:03, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Hello refdesk people. I'm the admin who fully protected the templates, blacklisted some Avril images, blocked many Tor nodes and sockpuppets, protected several user talk pages, filed a checkuser request, and spent several hours in the process of keeping this page and the help desk open to readers and editors alike, all due to the escalation of this trolling. I haven't really closely followed the full story of this troll, there are many things we tolerate on Wikipedia in good spirit, but template vandalism and blocking use of the entire helpdesk system is completely out of order by any standard. There is currently an unacceptable risk that it will happen again, and in my view this risk will remain for some time so I won't be readily undoing my actions. Any admin can reverse any of my actions but in my opinion they would be mad to rely on a statement by someone who says they've stopped because 'it is becoming increasingly difficult to think up new ways to disrupt the Reference Desk'. That is not a statement of repentance. I will happily undertake any edit requests myself - please leave a note on my talk page - or there is a well established system for making such requests with the {{editprotected}} template. -- zzuuzz (talk) 21:10, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I fully agree with you, zzuuzz. I don't see any reason to believe that a person who has done a lot of work to annoy others is going to suddenly stop just because he says so. It's really no different from a kid bullying another kid and then saying "oh, I won't do it this time" when the target refuses to cooperate. It's all fine and well to assume good faith, but only an idiot ignores obvious patterns of behavior. I've been in a lot of online communities over the years, and people who do this kind of stuff are pretty predictable and even stereotypical. It's not uncommon for them to appeal to others' better natures ("but how can I prove that I'm now a good guy if you don't give me a chance"), but the vast majority of the time, it's just an attempt to manipulate others. Ban 'em and move on. If they really want to learn a lesson from all this and turn a new leaf, there are ways to do that which don't involve manipulating others. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 13:19, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
As someone once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." —Steve Summit (talk) 16:33, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
It's not just about this specific troll anyway. Given the large number of templates, and the therefore difficulty tracking down vandalism, leaving them completely unprotected is just a bad idea. Remember also there's always less of a bar to protection templates because even though non admins and sometimes even new users can make beneficial changes, it's a lot rarer especially with complicated templates and new users. And they don't have to be edited anywhere as much as articles and usually should be edited with care. While froth's dilemma is unfortunate, I don't know if it's avoidable. Nil Einne (talk) 16:46, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
Frothing under his moustache while chewing over the Übermenschen.
Frothing under his moustache while chewing over the Übermenschen.
Yes yes I know my complaining is hyperbole.. but come on, not avoidable? How about lowering the bar for admin from Übermensch down to the originally indended "anyone-that's-not-going-to-abuse-it". Hundreds of editors have had the opportunity to vandalize those templates, ONE of them has. Hundreds minus one of them deserve to have privileges to freely edit without an admin holding their hand. .froth. (talk) 00:31, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, does anyone know of a proposal on the editing-fully-protected-pages feature being made available to non-admins? (Something akin to the newly available rollback feature, perhaps it has been discussed at the village pump,). If it exists, I would support granting froth this feature, as he has done a lot of good work regarding the desks' layout. If it doesn't exist, froth, there's no away around indirect editing via admin for the time being. Protecting the readers is more important than what regular editors might deserve. The vandalism was rampant and highly disruptive. The vandal was only re-blockable over and over again, but not blockable for good. (Or you could apply for Übermenschship) ---Sluzzelin talk 08:44, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Froth (and others), you might be interested in the current discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Rfa#Unbundle_The_Tools. ---Sluzzelin talk 03:41, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] transclusion

I wish the Ref Desk pages were entirely transcluded, so that writing on them could trigger Watching the appropriate archive page. —Tamfang (talk) 07:45, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

There would be a number of nice advantages of transcluding all the per-day sections from the beginning. Unfortunately, there's also a huge disadvantage, which has torpedoed this idea every time it's been proposed (and implemented, at least once, somewhere): lots of readers like to look at the page history to see if there are new comments in threads they're interested in. If there's a page per day, there are then too many histories to watch to make this viable.
(Yes, of course, there are other ways of keeping tabs on the page than using page history in this way. But the point is that numerous people do do it this way. I can't say how many, other than that I'm one of them.) —Steve Summit (talk) 01:00, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] New reference desks

I feel it would be nice if there could be separate reference desks for physics, chemistry, biology with health and medicine, and "others". As all these are quite wide subjects in themselves.


—KetanPanchaltaLK 13:36, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

There is a tradeoff involved in such splits, however. Knowledgeable readers may be reluctant to watch and read a large number of desks; narrower subject sections may receive less attention. As well, many questions in the sciences cross over even those rather broad subject headings you've suggested. Questions on biochemistry, biophysics, pharmacology, astrobiology, bioinformatics – to name a few areas – would not be neatly pigeonholed. I fear that most of the questions will just end up back at the Miscellaneous Science category anyway. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 13:54, 29 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, you could be right. What trend will be established could be difficult to tell. But that was just a suggestion. What if the edits in the individual reference sections are automatically transcluded to a main Science reference desk? Thanks for the reply. Regards. —KetanPanchaltaLK 14:40, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Wuzzup?

What's with the spate of trolly, childishly whimsical, phoney-baloney questions from red-link users all of a sudden? Many seem to be the work of a single personality, I'd say. --Milkbreath (talk) 12:17, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm fairly certain that it's the AT. See this diff from the AL desk. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 12:23, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
So, is somebody going to take it to AN/I or involve an admin some other way? My last attempt at early intervention was less than successful, as some may know. --LarryMac | Talk 13:46, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I can think of several extremely reasonable admins who read this page too, I guess it's up to them. Larry, there is lots of inertia, administrative and other, when it comes to troll-fighting at the rd, mainly because the desks and the jesters, in different ways, both thrive on the assumption of good faith. I won't take it to the noticeboard either. I suggest ignoring these questions. If someone removes them the way Zain Ebrahim did, I won't be complaining either. The less attention, the better. ---Sluzzelin talk 14:03, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I have no idea if you number me among the "several extremely reasonable admins" who read this page, but yes, it is the idea of "The less attention, the better" that often stays my hand and usually that seems to pay off. But if anyone ever feels the need for concrete action, please feel free to write to my talk page; I'm around Wikipedia fairly often. (And I assure you that whenever I see the AL nonsense, I block or ban the offender(s).)
Atlant (talk) 15:41, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Of course I do, the way you and Kurt handled it the other day was swift and extremely reasonable. I'm happy we have Übermenschen *cough cough* sysops who care about the refdesk. And I'll remember your offer. ---Sluzzelin talk 15:45, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
(Unless, of course, there is a way the accounts or IPs or range can be blocked. I don't really understand TOR and SHMOR and so forth, but from what I gathered this one is hard to eradicate, which is why I suggest starving him to oblivion by withholding attention.) ---Sluzzelin talk 14:16, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
It's the Avril troll? But -- but that guy promised he was going to stop! How can this be?!
...more seriously, a lot of these questions are pretty much obvious nonsense. If we treat them like any other questions, we are essentially enabling this behavior behavior -- "oh, look, they're falling for it, I'm gonna keep this up!". I really think they should be just removed on sight, with appropriate bans to follow. It's not as if they're hard to spot. And yes, absolutely, we can and should assume good faith in that if some questions from redlinked users are generally reasonable and don't contain patently ridiculous elements, even if they look a little iffy, but these questions are blatant trolling. (For example, no one is going to be dumb enough to attempt to give mouth-to-mouth to a fish (and it's even less likely that someone is going to believe that a fish is actually a reincarnated Kenny Everett. In the same vein, it's obvious that no one is sepia-toned in real life, and no WWI veterans are going to be using the Ref Desk to find random people they happened to pose with in a photograph 90 years ago.) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 20:11, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I concur. The best way to stop graffiti is to clean it up, rather than leaving it there and naively hoping that people will stop doing it. Malcolm XIV (talk) 20:27, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
How is it the troll gets so many debate answers – if they're not being removed, do we need someone to tag the questions with something like the tick box only a TROLL box? Julia Rossi (talk) 01:16, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Honestly? I think it's because a lot of people are a little naïve and assume good faith. (A lot of them probably also don't follow the talk page, so they aren't aware of the history -- they just see a question and try to answer it.) That's why we can't just agree here that we'll leave this guy without any attention, because there'll always be someone who comes along, sees an unanswered questions and decides to help. I like the AGF policy a lot, but it's worth noting that it really requires a bit of common sense and critical thinking to work -- it's one thing to assume good faith, and another to insist that there is good faith when there's evidence to the contrary.
On a closely related note, Avril's all over the Ref Desk again in picture form. I don't know where the headers are, so I can't fix it. This is a great example of why we should never discuss terms with people like this. It's all about manipulation and stringing other people along, getting them to agree to things or to tolerate you or give you one more chance -- to assume good faith, as it were. They're not constructive, they're not contributing anything, and as long as their games work, i.e., as long as they aren't denied access to the thing and people they're playing with, they'll keep it up. (Which is not to say that they can't grow the hell up, because they can and often do, but it's not going to happen by letting them off the hook time and time again.) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 10:02, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Here's the header: Wikipedia:Reference desk/header. This time he was going after the recent archives - see this revision history. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 10:08, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm online through a very slow GPRS connection right now, which makes going through various pages in search of specific information like that a real pain. Getting that Avril hit didn't help things any... -- Captain Disdain (talk) 10:39, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Do you pay for data? Maybe you could try persuing the troll for your costs? Nil Einne (talk) 14:12, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Nope, I pay a bulk fee, and that's it. (I doubt it would work anyway -- it's pretty much the standard to open web pages without knowing their content.)-- Captain Disdain (talk) 21:02, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
The Avril Lavigne troll is indeed back, see [5] (the Base64 is Avril Lavigne). I gave an immediate test4 to the user and will ask for a block if this editor persists Nil Einne (talk) 14:13, 31 May 2008 (UTC) Nil Einne (talk) 14:05, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Idle aside: How do you figure that "the Base64 is Avril Lavigne"? When I decode it I get binary garbage. —Steve Summit (talk) 01:49, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Well I was writing a response to the questionp linking to Base64 and used the first link [6] as an example except that when I tried it, the text Avril Lavigne was staring at me... Testing more [7] does the same thing. Further analysis reveals that [8] and [9] do not, but the binary data is a BMP and the BMP is just text saying Avril Lavigne. I presume the first two decoders recognised it as a BMP and so display it accordingly (didn't notice it was acutally an image although I was wondering why it seemed so long) the other two just show the binary output. If you're using a standalone tool save the output to a file and open it with an image viewing tool capable of seeing BMPs and you'll see the output, but I suggest don't bother, I already know more about this particular instance of trolling then I would care to Nil Einne (talk) 16:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Why bother with test4? It's obvious malicious disruption, just block straight away. There's no good faith left to assume here. On a related note, a Bugzilla request has been filed to close the hole he's exploiting entirely. — Lomn 16:33, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
Given his incredibly disingenuous responses to Nil Einne, I've blocked indef—as can be done on sight to any further such throwaway accounts. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 19:33, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
I like the overfed box. Very nice. 10ofAll, will you do this or do you mean any other admins, Julia Rossi (talk) 07:54, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I will make such blocks where I see the need, but I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that most other admins would be ready and willing to do so as well. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 14:55, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Legitimate questions?

While others are free to respond, personally I will not respond to any questions from a known troll other then to point out it's the troll even if the question could be legitimate, particularly when the question sounds at least slightly odd/trollish. Why? Well I'l copy my response to the cumming but didn't orgasm question "..... Now that there's evidence this person is the Avril troll, I personally don't see any point responding to this question since this users repeated bad faith questions make me suspect he or she does not really have a genuine question and so there's a good chance no benefit will come from my answer so I don't see any point wasting my time further on someone who's already wasted enough of my time. Of course, others are free to respond how they see fit, but I think it's worth letting them know who that this comes from a known troll." Note just to be clear, I'm not suggesting we assume bad faith for every single question that comes along that sounds slightly 'funny' just that if there is conclusive evidence the question asker is a troll, e.g. they were later blocked for trolling I will probably not respond any further unless other people have an interest in the conversation. Nil Einne (talk) 18:56, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Removed "medical" question

Diff here. --Milkbreath (talk) 15:40, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Good call. The question provided a symptom and was asking for treatment advice. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 19:36, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree. It is not possible to provide an answer without attempting to diagnose the problem. It is obvious that the person needs to read about TMJ, but we'll let a doctor point that out. -- kainaw 20:09, 31 May 2008 (UTC)
I'm getting so I'm glad the whole question is removed without polite restatements of policy. Then I'm not tempted to answer in any form whatever. :) Julia Rossi (talk) 07:57, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

The OP has answered on the project page, which answer I've moved here:

How is that considered a medical question?? If I am unable to do the splits and I want to find out how to increase the flexibility of my legs are you going to shoot down that question too for being "medical"?? (talk) 12:45, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
You described a condition that was causing a person distress and then asked what to do about it. The answer to the second question is that it depends on the actual question you ask. For myself, I would never answer any such question no matter how it was phrased, as I know how easy it is to hurt oneself with exercise and stretching, and I wouldn't want to give bad advice. I used to be able to drop into a full split, so I know what I'm talking about when I say I don't know what I'm talking about. This is all assuming that the original question was serious, which I don't believe for a second it was considering that you call it a "sexual" question later on. We are required to assume good faith here at Wikipedia, and although that would seem to ensure open season for trolls, it actually works very well in the long run, and saves everybody here ulcers. Sometimes those who come here to make trouble find out that this is one place where the internet doesn't suck, and they stay to help. --Milkbreath (talk) 13:14, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, it's not a ridiculous question, though. I mean, I've had sex with a woman whose jaw just wouldn't open very much, which made kissing, never mind other activities, problematic. It wasn't a show-stopper by any means, but, y'know, it certainly was inconvenient enough to make me now think of the question as non-ridiculous. (But, frankly, it is a little stupid -- I mean, if stretching is going to help, you can see the results by stretching, and if it hurts to stretch, it's probably not a good idea.) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 13:35, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Dialate your mind. ---Sluzzelin talk 14:50, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, if it makes you feel better about it, she had trouble taking bites out of apples, too. And flossing. Point is, it strikes me as a fairly legitimate condition (but I absolutely agree that it isn't going to be solved by the Ref Desk). -- Captain Disdain (talk) 20:32, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

I intentionally avoided saying right out that it was a "sex" question because I figured people like Milkbreath wouldn't take the question seriously. The reason why I didn't just "try" stretching is because I thought that the muscles in the jaw were arranged differently than other bones, and that it wasn't the length of the muscles that determined how much aperture? you could get, and rather the arrangement of the bones. But I don't know anything about that, so I just thought somebody else might know. (talk) 15:55, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

This is me closing the picnic basket and heading for the car. --Milkbreath (talk) 16:05, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes someone else will know. Specifically a doctor probably would, and can also advise you/her on what, if any, is the best course of action to increase the 'flexibility' of the jaw Nil Einne (talk) 16:07, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
OK, I'm gonna go ask my doctor if he can help her. I'm not bitter, I used to participate on the refdesks a lot a while back, and I know how it works. I just think you guys are acting way over the top this time. It's a personal opinion; I don't expect everyone to feel the same way. (talk) 17:45, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I fail to see how you can claim your question didn't ask anyone to diagnose the problem and provide a prescription to treat the diagnosis. In my opinion, you could have used the RD properly by simply asking what the medical term for "jaw popping" is. You would have been told that it is a common disorder of the TMJ - and our article discusses it. It is all in what you ask for. Ask for a reference and you get a reference. Ask for a diagnosis and you get your question deleted. -- kainaw 21:18, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
I was unaware of the existance of a medical term for "jaw popping". My neck pops when I stretch it, and the popping itself was never uncomfortable nor did I ever feel it was ever related to any medical condition. In my ignorance I was unable to imagine a more serious origin for the jaw popping. Thank you for the link; I consider myself informed. (talk) 04:51, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Removed another question seeking medical advice

Diff here. --Milkbreath (talk) 10:31, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

The person is not asking for advice to treat or deal with the phobia. He or she is asking for the medical term (in the first question) and an explanation of the phobia (in the second question). The problem with this question is that an answerer must diagnose the problem first to give a true answer. However, no diagnosis is required if there is a term for "fear of things being on the other side of the door." No diagnosis or advice is required to answer that question. -- kainaw 12:18, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
By the guidelines, "The Wikipedia reference desk is not an appropriate place to request...any kind of medical diagnosis...." The OP asked " Can someone explain this phenomenon?" The "phenomenon" was his own behavior that he found puzzling and disturbing. He was asking what was causing his bizzarre behavior, for a diagnosis. By calling it a "phobia" you provide a diagnosis. --Milkbreath (talk) 12:32, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
I was merely pointing out that I cannot answer the question without providing a diagnosis. However, if there is a specific scientific term for "fear of things being on the other side of the door," it would not be a diagnosis to provide that term. The person clearly stated the symptom. Providing the proper name for the symptom is not a diagnosis of what is causing the symptom. As far as I now, there is no term for that symptom, so none can be given. -- kainaw 19:29, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
When the original poster asks "Can someone explain this phenomenon?" he's asking us for an explanation for his (purportedly irrational) fear—we'd be offering a diagnosis for his symptom. There are a lot of potential causes for such a presentation, and we'd be doing a disservice to the poster to offer any comment beyond referral to his physician (who can, in turn, refer him to an appropriate specialist). As an aside, volunteers here should be very cautious about referrals to psychiatrists and therapists—some superficially 'psychological' problems stem from serious underlying disease.
Incidentally, Milkbreath, please try to remember to sign when you leave the {rd-deleted} template. A user may want to follow up with you if they don't understand why you removed his question. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 15:10, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Right. I always forget to do that, but I do notify the user on their talk page. --Milkbreath (talk) 15:38, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
"What kind of phobia would this be considered to be? I am not afraid of aliens. Or at least, I don't think I am. Can someone explain this phenomenon?" I can see how you could decide that this is a request for a diagnosis, but I don't think it was one (which is why I answered it) -- I think it was a request for information about the subject.
This kind of illustrates something that strikes me as a pretty disingenuous practice -- if the original poster would have omitted the fact that he himself has these sensations and phrased it somewhat differently, and perhaps even stressed that he's interested in the subject and not looking for medical advice, you probably wouldn't have removed the question. But if he had still used the information as advice anyway, what's the practical difference?
And I'm not saying that we should start diagnosing people here, obviously! But if we're honestly this concerned about whether people are going to take what we say as advice, we might as well ban all medical and legal questions altogether and remove articles about these subjects from Wikipedia, because not only are people going to use them as advice, we can't really guarantee their accuracy, what with the whole "anyone can edit Wikipedia" thing. (Which is not to say that intelligent and careful users aren't going to make sure that they only use referenced information etc., but you know what I mean.) What's the point? It's not as if the rule is going to protect anyone from a lawsuit; if someone decides to sue, they'll sue. They might as well sue Wikipedia because someone gave bad science advice or whatever.
(And I'm not trying to be a pest here, I should probably stress; I'm asking because I'm wondering if I'm missing something obvious. I certainly know that the United States is an extremely litigation-happy country, and that's undoubtedly a factor in this... but still, it seems that there's a degree of overreaction here.) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 19:50, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Have you read this essay? --Milkbreath (talk) 20:01, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I have, and it's reasonable. "We don't want to hurt anyone," "Overdiagnosis is bad too," "You're not a doctor," "People lie," "Think of the children" and "We don't want to hurt Wikipedia's reputation" are full of good points. But none of it really addresses the question -- to wit, I don't see what real difference any of it makes. We provide plenty of information -- medical, legal and otherwise -- that can be construed and used as advice, and if someone wants to sue Wikipedia or us personally, they will. I mean, if I have an ear ache, read the article and, like an idiot, conclude that I must have mastoiditis and decide to attempt a myringotomy all by myself, I may sue Wikipedia just as well as I could if I had asked a question on the Reference Desk -- and I could easily word that question in a way that wouldn't look as if I was asking for medical advice.
And I should stress again that I don't think we should diagnose people here; I'm just saying that if the concern really is for Wikipedia users' well-being and for avoiding lawsuits, all this seems disingenuous. In this instance, the original poster wasn't really asking for medical advice, he was asking for information. We (well, technically, you, but that's irrelevant in that I might just as well have read the question the way you did) interpreted that as a request for actual advice, even though taken literally, he was asking someone to explain the phenomenon -- he wasn't asking what to do about it. My point is, if he had omitted the part that he himself had these feelings and had taken a little more abstract approach, it would have been purely a discussion about strange feelings of fear and what causes them, and we would most likely have let it be. And yet he might still have used it as medical advice. Or another reader with a similar condition might have. So what are we really saying here? That it's okay to ask for this information and use it as advice, as long as you misrepresent the situation? I mean, clearly -- unless I'm missing something here -- we're not keeping anyone safe here on any practical level, we're just pretending to do so.
And just to be clear: I really, honestly don't mean this as criticism of your actions; like I said, I might just as well have read the question the way you did and done the same. You acted well within policy, and not at all unreasonably. It's just that now that I think about it, I can't understand what difference it makes. It's just lip service that doesn't really have anything to do with actually keeping people safe. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 21:10, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I don't want to use an actual question as an example, because that takes us into the place we are trying not to go. But hypotheticals never work, either. So we're stuck with generalities. It's not disingenuous to read a question and see what it says. This is a typewritten medium, and all we have to go on is words in a row. Not a facial expression, not a tone of voice, no set to the shoulders or unconscious gesture. Words. And written words, that often fail to say what the writer thought they would. We form a mental picture of the questioner based on those words, but our mental picture is almost certainly wrong. So we have to read and interpret the words as they appear on our computer screens and deal with the question accordingly.
I see what you're driving at, but I'm inclined to demolish your position, I'm afraid. It matters who says what when. If something that happens here ever goes to trial, it will matter who said what when. It will matter whether we can reasonably have been expected to keep our bonehead opinions about a questioner's medical condition to ourselves. It will matter if we can be shown to have been simply acting in good faith and trying to provide information. It will matter if we can be shown to have been willing to sacrifice a human being on the altar of freedom. People get all muzzy when legal matters come up. The law is indeed arcane and rococo, but judges and juries are human beings with a degree of common sense and ordinary understanding. The things we legal layman can easily understand do matter within the legal system too. So I would twist your position to suit my own; we must avoid actually being disingenuous.
Speaking for myself, the whole matter is crystal clear, and all this dancing around the issue kind of pisses me off. But I'm a good Wikipedian, I hope, and I will always start by debating in good faith. The guidelines say not to supply medical advice on the reference desks. Couldn't be clearer. I know what medical advice is, and I know what the word "not" means, so, understood, let's move on. What I don't understand is why so many people try so hard to game the rules so they can provide medical advice. Have you ever tried to advise a mother on how to raise her children? Or advise a biker on concepts in personal hygeine? I hate to give advice, so why do so many love to? --Milkbreath (talk) 22:56, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Please do demolish my position! I'd honestly love to have someone convince me that this makes sense. But you haven't done that yet. If your position is that the guideline says that there's no medical advice, that is straightforward. That's also completely ignoring the actual point I'm making. I know what the guideline says; I'm not questioning that. I'm questioning the intention and logic behind the guideline, because it seems obvious to me that many of the questions we answer can be used as medical advice, even if they don't explicitly ask for it -- so clearly, the concern for someone's safety is kind of dubious. The legal reasons seem pointless to me as well; if someone wants to sue us, they'll sue us.
I mean, why is it that someone can ask about possibly insane electrical projects or virus programming without problems, but asking about an ear ache is a no-no? Isn't there, logically, a far greater chance of injury or damages (and lawsuit) there? And, again, I want to stress that I'm not saying we should provide diagnoses or medical advice; I just don't think the rationale that just about all answers to medical questions are medical advice makes much sense, when answers to medical questions that are explicitly worded in a way that makes it clear that they are not asking for medical advice can still be interpreted as medical advice and used as a basis for a lawsuit -- when, in the end, it's a question of somebody asking something from some guy on the internet and that lawsuit isn't gonna fly anyway.
As for hating giving advice, well, I'm not sure dunno how that fits together with working the Reference Desk, but that's your thing, I guess. (I mean, if a biker comes along and asks what to do about these armpits, where's the problem?) -- Captain Disdain (talk) 14:56, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Ah. To answer your question, I don't know. I've refused to answer many questions because I thought somebody might come to harm if I did. I don't feel in the slightest disingenuous about it. Human beings wrote the guidelines and are still writing them. If you have some wording you'd like to put in there, or some you'd like to take out, let us see it. I've always imagined that the proscription against giving medical advice had an at least twofold origin: some vague association with the laws against practicing medicine without a license (same for law) and the idea that people are frail animals subject to all manner of maladies from which they seek relief, desperate or confused, not to be toyed with. When Wikipedia gets asked whether nothing is sacred, we can say "Yes, the sick." It's a matter of mercy. I don't see how you can make immediate human suffering an abstract phenomenon and draw a parallel between that and anything else. --Milkbreath (talk) 15:28, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't agree with this removal. If the OP had left out the bit at the end ("Can someone explain this phenomenon?") then this would IMHO have been an acceptable question (perhaps for the Language desk). Is there a word to describe the fear of something on the other side of the door even though you know nothing's there? Nothing wrong with that.
The fact that he added the request for an explanation doesn't change things as I see it. The purpose of removing "medical" questions is to protect the OP. I propose we change this to only allow for protection of reasonable OPs. For example, a "misguided soul" may respond to the question on expensive cognacs with "One only enjoys an expensive cognac after drinking 600 bottles over 3 years." An unreasonable OP would proceed to liquidate his retirement provisions for the enjoyment but no-one would remove that question. If we had responded to this question with "the fear of something on the other side of the door even though you know nothing's there is known as XXX-phobia" (with the usual IANAD etc) then I can't see how a reasonable OP would be harmed.
Zain Ebrahim (talk) 22:00, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm with Zain on this one. People coming to the refdesk are not qualified-certificated-trained-supervised question posters (who should know how to depersonalise a question for a start so there's no legal recourse *ironical wince*). While I sympathise with Milkbreath being the activist here, imo there's a difference between asking What is...? and What should I do? (especially My friend/daughter/wife/'s like this so how to fix it?) People are responsible for their own further actions (such as looking it up on the internet or wikipedia) surely. To give someone a term for a thing like a Phobia is only describing it in Greek after all. I'd like to give'em a break while not being played – a balancing act, but worth it sometimes. Strangely though masturbation and sexual dysfunction stay put and invite big threads in reply... Julia Rossi (talk) 01:24, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm the one who asked the question. I did not intend to ask for medical advice. If you look at my contribs you can see that I've been at the ref desk long enough to know better.--Goon Noot (talk) 05:36, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Hi Goon Noot, I did see that, but rather than get into labels, phobias and other aversions, see your gp about anxiety and unexplained signs of stress. (also posted to user's talk page) Julia Rossi (talk) 12:23, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

How can you object to removing the question and then send the guy to a doctor? For this metadiscussion to be made into a revisiting of the original post defeats the purpose of the removal and undermines the process. Do not give advice. What's hard? Do not give a diagnosis. "Phobia" is from the Greek, to be sure, and "dunderhead" is German. How do you know it's a phobia? How you know it's a sign of stress? How do you know the problem is not physical? How do you know it is not dietary? How do you know it's not something you don't know a goddamned thing about, Dr. Fizzleputts? Do not give medical advice. Jeeze. --Milkbreath (talk) 15:43, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I completely disagree. Dunderhead is not German! ---Sluzzelin talk 16:00, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Milkbreath, I object to this particular question's removal but I would also suggest that User:Goon Noot speak to a professional for a diagnosis or advice. We can provide information (i.e. the fear of something on the other side of the door even though you know nothing's there is known as XXX-phobia) without advising or diagnosing. We only remove questions when we feel that someone else may come along and provide advice/diagnoses. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 16:21, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Another Medical Question

Here's the diff. Answering could result in possible life-threatening drug interactions. Fribbler (talk) 19:14, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Yup, completely agree, I was going to remove it myself but got distracted. You don't get more blatant requests for medical advice than that! ~ mazca talk 19:30, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
This is a question for a pharmacist. While any dexbrompheniramine/pseudoephedrine med will likely work, the person probably wants a different brand with similar dose to Drixoral. -- kainaw 19:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Aye. I left a message on the questioners talk page suggesting they speak to their doctor or phrarmacist. (pseudoephedrine and hypertension caused alarm bells to go off in my head anyway; they should see a professional to at least review this combination) Fribbler (talk) 23:00, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
With regards to my comments above, I should probably stress that this is an entirely reasonable removal, in my opinion. A wholly different situation. -- Captain Disdain (talk) 19:52, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
It looked like the op thought they were in touch with the distributor or manufacturer. They were confused but well removed. Julia Rossi (talk) 01:30, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] T-watch

This one, keeps removing my posts. From their dubious questions about Abraham Lincoln no less. I had three here under "aside"[10]. Julia Rossi (talk) 04:32, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

I restored two of the posts because it irked me that a bad-faith contributor should be allowed to remove a good-faith volunteer's comments which also served as a warning to other good-faith volunteers. Once again, I recommend ignoring posts by 71.100 completely (i.e. no intellectual fisticuffs either). This is exactly what he feeds on. ---Sluzzelin talk 06:23, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Sluzzelin, agreed. Some are quirky but this one's very different. Sorry about the box (though it's a fun idea), I'll rely on a verbal flag instead. Best, Julia Rossi (talk) 08:34, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

A different one - diff with implicit admission. For those who like to be aware. --LarryMac | Talk 20:11, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that particular account (English translation: "wipeable") also appeared in the string of new users asking off-questions at the miscellaneous desk a couple of days ago, visible here. Another account present in that array got blocked a few minutes ago for vandalizing countless user talk pages. ---Sluzzelin talk 20:29, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
The user has 2 megabytes of crap commented into their talk page. Should it be blanked? Fribbler (talk) 21:00, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Wow, Larrymac I missed that one. Disgur-stin'. There were so many thoughtful replies, but I think parc-sters are not the way to demonstrate the tender capacities of refdeskers. Blank'em I say. Anyone else getting leery of Dr Ruth type questions and their hooks (such as can-only-turn-to-you-guys kind of thing)? Julia Rossi (talk) 01:40, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Just to clarify (and this may be a help desk question), this particular t***l's talk page has nearly two megabytes of commented out (and hence invisible) rubbish on their talk page. I'd imagine this is normally removed, but I'm loathed to remove anything from anyones own talk page. Any ideas? Fribbler (talk) 01:49, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
I'd only remove it if you're wearing a mask. Hey! At least that was an effortless meme. This guy is trying to hard. I'd focus on the I in WP:RBI and on all three letters when the account becomes disruptive. ---Sluzzelin talk 02:11, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Good point. I'd say that's the way to go, Sluzzelin. Fribbler (talk) 19:57, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Looking into the past

<moved to sci desk here[11]> Julia Rossi (talk) 02:20, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] rm'd trolling

Removed some trolling, [12], mentioning here because there was a good faith response.—eric 18:11, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Vandalism?

Check it out. -- (talk) 19:22, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

It was a "Reference desk/Medicine", and Athaenara has already deleted it. (Presumably [[Reference desk/Legal advice]] will be next. :-\ ) —Steve Summit (talk) 23:50, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Vacation Suggestion

I intend to take a vacation from the RD for a week or so (if not more). I have two full-time jobs, I'm taking a full semester of Calc III in a four week course, and my son is almost 18-months - so he is at the "mine, mine, mine" and "no, no, no" stage. I figure that all of that has caused my patience for the idiocy of some questioners on the RD to decline drastically. Knowing that I need to take leave for a bit, I thought that there are times when I've seen responses from other well-known RDers turn to frustration. Then, I thought, is there a polite way to suggest to a RDer that they probably need a break? I'm rather surprised nobody told me to take a vacation - or, have I always been so rude to questioners? What are some suggestions for telling someone, "You deserve a vacation. Go away, relax, and come back when you feel better." -- kainaw 12:49, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

"You seem to be a wee bit bitey at the moment. Time, perhaps, for a short & stress relieving wikibreak?" --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:28, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
Should we make a template out of that, {{RD wee bit bitey}}?  --Lambiam 05:03, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
You seem to be a wee bit bitey at the moment. Time, perhaps, for a short & stress relieving dip in the cool and murky waters of real life.
You seem to be a wee bit bitey at the moment. Time, perhaps, for a short & stress relieving dip in the cool and murky waters of real life.

Heehee. I like that. I think it should begin with "What happened?" to indicate that being bitey is not the person's normal state. -- kainaw 18:20, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] People answering a question that has already been answered

See here, for example. This annoys me a little, I have to confess. If I know the answer to a question, but someone else has already answered it, I would never add anything to the thread. Once a clear and unambiguous answer has been given, there is no need for further responses giving the same answer. Unless people feel that further identical responses somehow give weight to, or corroborate, the first answer? --Richardrj talk email 13:29, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

Generally, if you have a problem with someone's post (which is unrelated to the content of the question), it's best to leave a note on their talk page (unless they don't have a talk page). You may find that they did have a good reason after all. In this case, I would guess that User:Hotclaws simply missed User:84user's comment and User:AndyJones answered Hotclaws' question. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:17, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
In my 'umble opinion I don't mind people concurring on answers ("yup, user:xxxxxx is just right"). And I can forgive people who only read the title of the question and chime in with the answer even though it has already been given. What irks me is kind of the opposite: when people skim over questions that have recieved an incorrect reply. I'd prefer see a hundred identical responses to a question than one misleading/incorrect response that nobody chose to expand upon or correct. Fribbler (talk) 23:25, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
I took it the poster was putting the original suggestion into a context, even though personal and chatty. I didn't mind. I answered a post with stuff from the pedia and then in the history came across someone delcining to answer because they couldn't add more than the articles which i just did. I like to give some leeway (even to myself!). Also stuff happens I feel, and sometimes people don't get it right all the time. If it was a case of someone always adding the obvious like a chiming in, that might be a problem habit best avoided or challenged. Julia Rossi (talk) 07:45, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Spam?

[13] Seems very strange for a person to ask about such a specific software that gets 879 Ghits and the response sound like it's coming from a sales person. Should it be removed? --antilivedT | C | G 08:27, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

I guess my good faith supplies are depleted, because I'm finding the sight of two new users created within 15 minutes of each other whose only contribs are to ask and answer a leading question suspicious. Advertising doesn't seem to be mentioned specifically in the guidelines; should it be? Algebraist 08:44, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
When it becomes a problem – afaik this is the only instance spotted yet on the desk. With or without such mention, it is disallowed per WP:NOT: Wikipedia is not a vehicle for advertising. This applies to all content hosted in Wikipedia.  --Lambiam 15:43, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Homework Accusations

Its getting a bit tedius that almost every other question at the Science desk gets accused of being homework. Although some instances are obviously homework questions, many are legitimate questions. I urge people to please assume good faith or else users may get discouraged to post legitimate questions in the future. Thanks for listening. Jdrewitt (talk) 18:05, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

I basically concur and am not fond of drive-by "Do your own homework" messages offering absolutely no help whatsoever. I recommend reading SteveBaker's "Modest Proposal" which had a number of supporters at the time. (See also preceding thread, "Homework Questions" for context). ---Sluzzelin talk 18:19, 10 June 2008 (UTC)