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Anonymous users and spam

Should we consider disabling anonymous editing to reduce spam? Do we feel that anyone is likely to particularly want to make anonymous contributions? Personally, I'd like it because it would stop me making edits while logged out, but it would also mean much less despamifying. A CAPTCHA extension may also be useful, but there are valid points against it. See also Mediawiki manual: combating spam. -Taepha 07:29, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

Proactive or Reactive? Unless it becomes a real problem, I think it's better to react to it case by case. If it becomes a major issue then is the time to consider proactive solutions. As far as I know we've only had one instance? Zexium 10:33, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Rather a few more than one, and I'm a big fan of proactive. ;) See Special:Log/block for a list of IPs we've blocked (most are spammers, and some committed multiple instances of spamming). It also seems to be getting worse. I've blocked eight IPs today, not that doing that helps. I'm currently protecting (making user-editable only) pages after a few attacks, as once the bots start on a page, they won't stop. Special:RecentChanges seems to be filling up with spam and spam fixing. -Taepha 10:56, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
ns and whois lookups suggest that these may be botnets. Whether knowing this helps or not I don't know. Zexium 11:47, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Yesterday I would have agreed with a reactive stance; today we got a whole bunch of spam dumped on us. I had thought that the spam bots were naively targetting direct links from the main page (makes sense - they have less computational work to do that way), in which case simply protecting all links from the main page would have worked nicely. Unfortunately, today's aren't following that pattern.
For now, I've pre-emptively protected the main page - it's a very obvious spammer target, and I'm slightly surprised it hasn't been hit already.
In the long run, we want a solution which:
  • Will stop most of the spam (I doubt we can stop all of it)
  • Won't discourage people from just coming along and editing.
To that end, I think it's possible to use captcha without being heavy-handed about it - one of the common wiki captcha options is to require it for edits made from non-confirmed accounts which are attempting to insert links to 'unrecognized external sites'. This would have blocked all the spam we've had so far, with a pretty minimal effect on legitimate edits (especially if 'discworld.atuin.net' is a 'recognized external site'), so would be pretty much ideal. That would get my vote.
--Chat 17:33, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Happy to agree, although do I even have a vote anyway :) Zexium 17:57, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
A low level captcha would be a good approach. We will have to make some sacrifices which may discourage random editing, but that's unavoidable if we want to stop the spam. We could add a limited protection and if that doesn't stop the majority of the vandalism we could step up to a higher level. Using captcha on adding external links would not solve every problem though, as there seems to be a lot of gibberish vandalism. Rehevkor 19:32, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm for the captcha option as well; this is getting ridiculous. But looking at the history I do see a few legitimate edits by anonymous users, so it doesn't seem the right thing to block anons entirely. --Ilde 19:56, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Blocking anons entirely should never be an option. But we will probably have to limit it in some way. Rehevkor 20:14, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

As an aside, I managed to get the files pointed to on wiki.ubuntu.com by the linkspan (which were malware aimed at windows, what a surprise) removed, and hopefully ubuntu.com web admins will be improving their own security .... maybe it's worth remembering for an incident like this that other websites might be affected and we may be in a position to warn them too ..... Zexium 00:33, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

I know what might be useful. If the wiki could announce recent changes using an irc channel on taffyd.sydmud.com. Probably just a flight of fantasy though. Zexium 13:36, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

There's always the RSS feed:
feed://discworld.imaginary-realities.com/w/index.php?title=Special:RecentChanges&feed=rss
-Taepha 23:57, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

We're getting pounded with spam again; I've had to block 9 IPs in the last 48 hours :(

Any progress on the CAPTCHA issue? --Chat 09:40, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Maybe instead of a CAPTCHA, etc., we could do what TV Tropes does: disallow edits from non-logged in users, but have a default "anonymous" login (with the username and password shown in the "You need to log in to edit" message). Would that be an easier thing to set up? It seems to work well for them. --Ilde 23:37, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Well, wasn't that fun. I've just finished dealing with a very large spam influx - I think I've blocked/deleted/protected more IPs/pages today than the sum of all block/delete/protected by everyone previously.
My analysis of the pages hit suggests that the spambots are all following the same algorithm:
  1. Start at main page
  2. Follow any link to another page
  3. Follow any link from that page to another page
  4. Edit and spamify
In other words, all pages hit are within two links of the main page. Unfortunately, this encompasses a vast number of pages. I've pre-emptively protected all the pages that are immediately linked from the main page, but there are simply too many for me to deal with all the second-degree links.
If we get much more spam on this scale, then we're going to be overwhelmed, so I think the case for installing some kind of anti-spam extension is becoming urgent.
--Chat 18:17, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
I hope to god that was a one off. I don't envy you having to deal with that. Further measures to stop spam will be essential is it continues on that level. Rehevkor 01:18, 10 October 2009 (UTC)


Woe, looks like the spam bots got into the Special:WantedPages list and started creating many of those with spam. :(

If there's a large proportion of the spam on pages in talk and research namespaces like it seems to be, perhaps disallow anonymous users to create talk or other namespaces pages?

Otherwise if they target uncreated pages, maybe a bot could make stubs? --Frazyl 23:45, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Nah, looks like they're still following the 'two links from the front page' algorithm. They got to all those weapons through Main Page->Wanted weapons->* This is also why they hit talk/research a lot. There are simply too many potential pages for a bot to stub, and the spambots don't seem to care whether the page already exists or not, so creating them would be largely pointless in any case.
--Chat 23:53, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
Urgh. Well, I've removed the red links from wanted weapons, so hopefully that will help nip some of it in the bud. --Ilde 00:37, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
ETA: Links are back, and those pages are now all protected. For future reference, I did this by using find and replace to turn all the page names into links starting with http://discworld.imaginary-realities.com/w/index.php?title=, having the title in the middle, and having &action=protect&mwProtect-level-create=autoconfirmed&mwProtect-reason=preemptive at the end. That makes it so that the correct protection level is selected and "preemptive" is given as a reason, and all you have to do is click confirm. Probably the easiest way to do a bunch of these without actually writing a bot for it. --Ilde 03:33, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

To bring up the CAPTCHA issue again, I think this extension would work great and be a big help. It appears to only trigger when an edit includes an external link, and it has an audio version for accessibility. I'm not sure, but it seems we might even be able to create a whitelist of allowed sites, too, since the extension it's based on lets you do this. Whitelisting Kefka's site would probably take care of most legitimate anonymous edits with links. --Ilde 06:14, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

I think it would be fair to add a captcha of some kind, especially if it's only there when adding links to outside the wiki (possibly user registration too?) and if we can exclude Kefka's site, the priest wiki, the Tm wiki and the Discworld Mud web site we shouldn't need to see it very often. We can always add more sites to the white list too.
This should nicely prevent sudden deluge of spam edits when they find more pages for whatever reasons.
Semiprotecting pages being rather limited, time consuming and preventing valid unregistered users to edit pages doesn't make the status quo all that glamorous.
--Frazyl 06:43, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Sounds good. Spam is starting to get silly, need to do something about it. Rehevkor 12:37, 22 April 2010 (UTC)


Hurray, the captcha is up and seems to be working! :) Thanks Drakkos!

Seems like the white list talk page at MediaWiki talk:Captcha-addurl-whitelist can only be edited by sysop?

When the whitelist does work I think these urls should probably go in because they are linked to a lot:

discworld\.atuin\.net/               # Official discworld mud site
discworld\.imaginary-realities\.com/ # This wiki and subsites
daftjunk\.com/                       # Kefka's site, maps, itemdb
dwpriests\.com/                      # Priests Guild Wiki, all rituals link there
disc-wizards\.com/                   # New spellcheck site, all wizard spells link there
tmwiki\.firstserved\.net/index\.php/ # TM Project wiki, for skills tm info and misc pages

Also, should some of the pages protected because of spam be unprotected now so unregistered users can contribute or is that a bad idea?

--Frazyl 20:00, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

Probably a good idea... it is nice for actual people to be able to make legitimate edits without creating accounts. --Ilde 21:25, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
I have added it although it's not working according to the talk page? Rehevkor 00:01, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
I have removed the protection on the talk page. Can you guys conform you can/can't edit the whitelist itself? It seems to have some automatic protection but I'm unsure of the level. Rehevkor 00:15, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
Confirmed I can't edit the whitelist, it just gives show source. Also confirm that the whitelist does appear not to be working, added a page with a link to discworld.atuin.net and it put a captcha. Not sure why it wouldn't work. --Frazyl 04:35, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Ack, something seems to have changed how the captcha without javascript works. If you have discworld.imaginary-realities.com allowed now you also need to allow javascript from recaptcha.net and google.com and the field to enter the challenge presents black text on black background. :( --Frazyl 19:36, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Archiving

The main talk page was getting pretty big, so I've archived the old bits off.

The process for doing this is:

  • Archive talk pages when you start seeing the "WARNING: This page is X kilobytes long; some browsers may have problems editing pages approaching or longer than 32kb. Please consider breaking the page into smaller sections." message when editing them.
  • Move any sections which have not had edits within the last 30 days to the archive page.
  • The archive page is called 'Talk:pagename/Archive X', where X is 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • Put the {{talkarchive}} template at the top of each archive page.
  • Put (or update) the {{archives}} template at the top of the main talk page.

--Chat 17:25, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Viewing figures

Just thought you guys might like to know - unique daily visits to the site for the month of December 2009 broke 1,000 - we hit 1,001, as a matter of fact.

For interest, here are the figures for the past few months:


Mar 2010        1104
Feb 2010        1212
Jan 2010        1114
Dec 2009 	1001 	
Nov 2009 	919 	
Oct 2009 	796 	
Sep 2009 	676 	
Aug 2009 	540 	
Jul 2009 	398 	
Jun 2009 	279 	
May 2009 	165

Great work everyone - many thanks for your continued work in making this wiki a great resource for DW players everywhere! Drakkos 21:54, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

January 2010 hit 1114 unique daily visits, FWIW. Drakkos 00:21, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
February 2010 : 1212
Interesting. Increasing fairly consistently. Rehevkor 13:31, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Quest pages

What's the plan for the quest pages to remain in sync? That is, quests are duplicated on several pages, odds are modifications on one page won't be made on all of them unless everyone is aware that the quest is also present on another page.

I thought that maybe there was a wiki thing in place so that sections from one page came from another or that they mirrored each other but apparently not. Not sure if that's something that actually exists. Anyone know?

Barring that, should we remove duplicate quests and replace some of them with links? Or some other way to keep all the quest text in sync?

I came up with some ways to handle the issue:

  • Make a page for every quest, the other pages link to the quest page. Downside is there will be lots of pages.
  • Put all quests on one page, then the other pages link to the section of the quest. Probably a bad idea because the page would be too big.
  • Make sure each quest is only on one page and that other pages are only links. Would need to decide on a level (domain/area/city) which would hold the real quest text.
  • Add comments in the source of duplicated quests that the other version needs to be updated as well. People could miss that though.
  • Insert idea here.

Or does everyone feel quests duplicated on several pages is no big deal after all? Frazyl 22:31, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

The third one would be easiest, but... eh. The first one is probably the best solution (possibly we could even stop using hidden text), but I don't like that they would then show up in Special:Random. They do currently, but it's not especially important because 1)there are comparatively few of them, and 2)spoilers are hidden and mostly below the fold anyway. There are only 1,234 content pages currently, so if we added a few hundred quest pages they'd be a significant portion of that. Maybe if we had a separate namespace ([1]) for them? Then they wouldn't show up randomly. --Ilde 02:23, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
A separate namespace sounds good especially if it allows us to show the text unhidden. As it turns out Special:Random also excludes redirects, so we could add redirects from the normal namespace for pages people might search or we want to link to... Probably only entry pages with warnings like Category:Quest pages and Unofficial_Quest_Solutions. --Frazyl 02:53, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I actually like the hidden text as it enables me to uncover the mystery line by line if required (for example if I get stuck just because I cannot figure out the right verb, "exacto" comes to mind...). --Gunde 23:19, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

So, will someone create a quest namespace for quest articles? Or should we put them in the research namespace?

The primary advantage of a quest namespace is that this will stop quest pages appearing in Special:Random, which can send someone who doesn't want to be spoiled to a quest page and it will stop them appearing in default search (happens when the article doesn't exist) Special:Search, which will reveal the context of the search, that is unhidden quest info.

--Frazyl 18:31, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

AFAIK, creating a new namespace requires editing the server's LocalSettings.php; as such it's something that only Drakkos can do, so you should speak to him.
Please don't move quests into the Research: namespace - that will end up polluting Research: with things that aren't research, and we don't want that.
--Chat 22:45, 7 May 2010 (UTC)


Ok, so I came up with a few ideas to improve quest pages. For the namespace I was waiting for the captcha to be installed first so as not to ask too much at once...

So I made a template {{Prehidden}} that basically is like {{prebox}} with white on white text. The advantage of prebox is that it preserves line breaks and spaces and other characters without breaking out too easily as with <p> (making a list with * or : makes everything after visible) while removing then obsolete <br> tags and allowing some formatting like bold or italic. Also it puts a pretty box around the text.

See Alchemists'_Guild_quests for examples.

If it is agreeable we could turn {{Hidden}} like {{Prehidden}} unless there something that I didn't think of.

As for quest duplication, it is possible to include pages with {{Include}}. It's only a matter of merging quests into the subpage and the template includes them with formatting and a link to the included page.

As for what includes what Unofficial_quest_solutions looks good, there's some difference to the structure of the Discworld quest pages though.

If we get a namespace for quests, I was thinking that each quest could get its own page in non-hidden text, which would then be included in the lists in {{Prehidden}} boxes. So if you don't want to be spoiled too much you can check the lists and to edit the quest and to be spoiled it would be easier to see it all at once in the quest page. It would use a tweaked include template.

--Frazyl 07:02, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Ooooo! The include templates are a neat solution for the duplication issue; kudos for that. --Ilde 03:04, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Slight issue, when including a page with the template include it doesn't work. You'd think it would check if there really was a loop, but no it just refuses to do anything. The only workaround that comes to mind is to make duplicate {{Include}} templates, one per level. --Frazyl 07:14, 11 June 2010 (UTC)


Ok all pages have the same format and duplicate quests have all been merged except for Sentimentalist and Distant Exhibitionist which have several versions.

Some quests fitted several areas, put them in the most important area. To place a quest in several areas would mean putting the quests in individual quest pages and including those in all list pages that is concerned, but we said that would be too many pages so we'd need the quest namespace. --Frazyl 02:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


It occurred to me that while we can't include the text of the quests that could go in several places in more than one place (because we can't include sections, only pages as far as I know with mediawiki) we could place links to the quest.

Might be worth going through the quests vs the mud quest pages to put stubs for quests missing and links to quests that are somewhere else, at some point.

--Frazyl 23:20, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Sidebar

I've just spotted that the contents of the sidebar (that's the bit on the left with navigation/search/toolbox) can be changed.

Does anyone have any suggestions for things they'd like to see added/removed from it?

FWIW:

  • I think we should probably do away with current events and random page - the former isn't really used; the latter I doubt gets much use either, and causes some problems on its own (quest spoilers, spam portal).
  • Adding status to the sidebar sounds like a good idea.

--Chat 21:39, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes those changes sound good. --Frazyl 20:58, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. --Ilde 00:42, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Need to edit MediaWiki:Sidebar, it's read only for me. --Frazyl 03:04, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
...Huh. I thought it was read-only for me, too, but it turns out it just had "create" instead of "edit" for some reason. --Ilde 03:18, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Actually, a lot of us like the random function - I used it to find new stuff. Quests are blanked out anyhow, so people should only be getting spoiled if they want to.

Please, can we have it back? ;_; Helaena 09:20, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Oh... well, I guess if people use it, maybe it's worth having linked there. Especially since our spam problems seem to be mostly gone (knock on wood). There's been talk of separating out quests so they're each on their own page without being spoilered out, though, so in that case the random page would be more problematic. I think I can get it on there again. --Ilde 09:41, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The quests would be in another namespace if we make non-blanked individual quest pages. As far as I know random only picks real pages (not redirects) in the main namespace. So no problem. --Frazyl 19:32, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Database Error

I don't know if this is the place to put this, or if this is just me, but I've been getting this a fair bit when I search:

Database error From Discworld MUD Wiki

You searched for pig (all pages starting with "pig" | all pages that link to "pig") Jump to: navigation, search A database query syntax error has occurred. This may indicate a bug in the software. The last attempted database query was:

   (SQL query hidden)

from within function "". MySQL returned error "145: Table './imagi55_mudwiki/searchindex' is marked as crashed and should be repaired (localhost)".

Karesore 15:26, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

I always get that these days, and I figured Drakkos is probably the only person who can fix it. I mailed him yesterday, but haven't heard anything yet.
--Gunde 16:36, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

As requested a while ago, I installed a captcha for the wiki so as to cut down on all the spam policing y'all have to do. The search feature has been fixed a couple of times, but it doesn't seem to take. I'll keep my eye on it though. Drakkos 20:01, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Woo! Thanks. And the search thing seems to be working again, too.... --Ilde 21:46, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

DNS problems

I wonder how many people came here when they found they couldn't connect. I did, and found out what the problem was and was able to get connected. Probably wouldn't hurt to make this the defacto place to go to during down times.. Rehevkor 01:31, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

That does rely on someone being able to diagnose the issue, figure out if there are workarounds, and then edit the main page announcement here. I managed to do that this time, but there may not always be someone in a position to do so. --Zexium 15:22, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Cybersquater on "*.imaginaryrealities.com"

Just so everyone knows, there is a cybersquater on *.imaginaryrealities.com.

Remember the "-" in the domain name. If someone wants to contact the abuse email of the ISP of the cybersquater, you can. However it is often an uphill battle getting ISPs to enforce ICANN rules, and might not be worth the frustration.