User talk:Arensb

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By the way, have I met you? I'm assuming you're a Non-Prophets listener, do you show up in the chat room? Great job on your contributions so far, by the way. -- Kazim 11:30, 18 July 2006 (MST)

I doubt it. I've never been to Austin (though if I'm ever there, I'd love to stop by Threadgill's and meet y'all). I ran across the Non-Prophets and Atheist Experience podcasts by chance while looking for something to listen to while doing yard work.
And no, I haven't contributed to the chat room. They tend to turn into major time sinks, unfortunately. --Arensb 11:41, 18 July 2006 (MST)

Famous atheists link fix[edit]

Thanks for catching the redlink I caused on the Main Page when I deleted the "Famous atheists" category. I recategorized the relevant articles but forgot to check "What links here". (I didn't think there was a good reason to have a separate category for "famous" atheists since if an atheist isn't famous in some sense, they really wouldn't warrant an article here.) - dcljr 00:00, 27 March 2007 (CDT)

Nae problem. I figured that was what had happened. --Arensb 08:29, 27 March 2007 (CDT)

Status and admin stuff[edit]

I've upgraded your permissions to sysop and bureaucrat. It seemed reasonable, but let me know if there's a problem with that. Also - drop me an e-mail when you canSans Deity 13:03, 6 April 2007 (CDT)


Welcome to The Inner Circle. <g> I see Matt has made you a sysop. I've added an entry to Iron Chariots Wiki:Administrators for you. You can describe yourself briefly there, if you wish. - dcljr 17:33, 17 April 2007 (CDT)

One syllable?[edit]

Regarding the pronunciation of your name, how do you make it one syllable? I would have thought "Eh-rensb" (hence, two syllables). What is the appropriate vowel sound? So it rhymes with "farms" or "cairns"? - dcljr 17:44, 17 April 2007 (CDT)

Gah. You're right. (Counting syllables is easy in Russian and French; it's much harder in English.)
As for the initial A, the easy answer is that I don't really care as long as you get all the letters in the right order. The fuller answer is that in English I pronounce it as in "air" or "cairns", and in other languages I pronounce it as in "father".
Hopefully this brings some much-needed confusion to this issue. --Arensb 23:06, 17 April 2007 (CDT)

Category sortkey question[edit]

You asked about my categorization of Religion using the "*" sortkey. It is customary on Wikipedia to force articles having the same name as a category to be listed first among articles in that category. The "*" sortkey does this (as does a sortkey starting with a space, which some people prefer). I've just carried that convention over to this wiki. We don't have to do it that way, if you want to lobby for a different style. - dcljr 17:40, 8 May 2007 (CDT)

Thanks. I suspected as much, but wanted to check. I'm not as well-versed in either MediaWiki or Wikipedia lore as I'd like to be. --Arensb 17:52, 8 May 2007 (CDT)

More categorization issues[edit]

I don't agree with your decision to remove Category:People from articles already in one of its subcats, such as Category:Atheists. I know there is a big push on Wikipedia to avoid categorization into "adjacent" categories (i.e., a category and its immediate parent), but if a reader doesn't already know whether a given person is an atheist, they will have a harder time finding the article for that person using our category structure. Besides, keeping atheists separate from everyone else just don't feel right.... OTOH, thanks for adding the last-name sortkeys. BTW, did you notice my other comment above? You haven't edited Project:Administrators, so I wasn't sure. - dcljr 14:46, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

I figured the whole reason for having categories within categories was to put articles in the most specific categories. You're right that there's a certain logic in putting articles in both a generic and a specific category, but there ought to be some guidelines as to how to do it: Douglas Adams goes in Category:Atheists because he's an atheist, and you could argue that he goes in Category:People because he's a celebrity. But what about Richard Dawkins, who is well-known for being an atheist?
I suppose the guiding principle should be to put articles in those categories where they'll do the most good, but I don't know how to turn that into a set of editorial do's and don'ts.
Oh, and I haven't updated my line in Project:Administrators because I haven't come up with a pithy one-liner with which to summarize the totality of my life and relevant experience.
--Arensb 17:01, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

We can discuss this at Project talk:Categorization if you think other people should weigh in on this issue. (Which reminds me... it's still hard to get the attention of a lot of editors at once, since the wiki is relatively low-traffic, and discussion of the wiki as a whole has been going on mostly off-wiki, in the forum(s). In particular, see this post of mine.) - dcljr 14:59, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

One of these days, I should probably sign up for the forum. --Arensb 17:01, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

What is you policy about imports[edit]

Unable to spell "your". Ten points from Gryffindor. --Arensb 10:27, 9 February 2009 (CST)

The Wikipedia article on Human sacrifice was referenced.Proxima Centauri 06:44, 9 February 2009 (CST)

I don't know that Iron Chariots has a formal policy on this sort of thing, but if there were, I'd recommend that it be against importing articles wholesale from other sites, particularly Wikipedia:

  1. There's already a Template:Wikipedia that can be used to point the reader there.
  2. Any imported articles will quickly become out of date as articles on Wikipedia are updated and their local copies aren't.
  3. As you may have noticed, pages don't necessarily import cleanly: the text you imported was chock full of dead links, with templates and categories that don't exist here and likely never will.
  4. Since this is a specialized wiki and not a general reference work, it's better to concentrate on the atheism aspect of topics covered here.

--Arensb 10:27, 9 February 2009 (CST)

See Iron Chariots Wiki:Editing guidelines#General guidelines for our "policy" about copying Wikipedia articles over to this wiki. - dcljr 04:57, 26 March 2009 (CDT)

Arensb, there seems to be issues that organizers of this site have not cleared out yet. Arguments, and syllogisms particularly, are not owned by their authors; however, the articles explaining the arguments are rightly owned. It is not plagiarism if one imports a syllogism or formal argument from another site.--wissam hemadeh 10:10, 24 June 2010 (CDT)

Wiki's recent changes log...[edit]

The wiki's clock seems to be off by more than a week.... The history pages are showing the wrong dates. Jwissick 00:01, 7 April 2010 (CDT)

In fact if you check the history of this page, you will see that this comment was left on March 25, even though today is April 6th. Jwissick 00:02, 7 April 2010 (CDT)


Blocking spambots is usually a waste of time, they create new accounts easily and rarely or never come twice. Blocking human spammers can work, depends if they have a static or dynamic IP adress. The best protection against spambots is a CAPTCHA, Proxima Centauri 08:52, 27 October 2011 (CDT)

Yeah, I know. But I don't have privileges to install MediaWiki modules or change the wiki's configuration. For that, you'd have to talk to one of the Real Admins™. User:Sans_Deity or User:Kazim might be able to point you in the right direction.
Deleting spam and banning accounts used to spam is about as far as my superpowers go. --Arensb 10:41, 27 October 2011 (CDT)

Thanks for helping again with spam, I think it helps discourage spammers if they see that more than one admin is active. Proxima Centauri 13:19, 9 November 2011 (CST)

Thasnks yet again, I went out and enjoyed myself offline but I kept thinking, "There'll be a mountain of spam to clear when I get back." Now there isn't. Proxima Centauri 12:49, 12 November 2011 (CST)

I've lost Internet access at home so I can't help with spam very much for the moment, sorry. I'll check the sites where I'm an administrator from time to time from public computers Engineers are due next week to look at my Internet connection. Proxima Centauri 08:17, 18 November 2011 (CST)

hey, have you noticed the calendar is glitched? WhatsAGoodUsername?

Miracles and wiki links[edit]

Hi Arensb. I see that you deleted the redirect I created from Miracles with the comment "Just use miracles", which I'm afraid I don't quite understand. I believe it is common policy on most wikis to create articles in the singular and then create redirects in the plural. I understand that to be wikipedia policy. It's certainly much easier to create wiki links where the linking "from" article has the plural form as first usage.

Consider this page Miracles in history which pretty obviously needs a link to "miracle". The first use of the word is the plural "miracles". If there is a redirect then it can be linked as [[miracles]] but if the redirect is not allowed the then the redirect has to be either [[miracle]]s or, even worse, [[miracle miracles]] - both of which are more difficult than if the redirect were in place. Furthermore the redirect means that a search on "miracles" will go direct to "miracle". I'm not trying to pick a fight over this I'm just wondering if you could explain your decision. Cheers. --~~~~

Sorry about the changelog. It should have read "Just use [[Miracle]]s". It seems like an unnecessary redirect, given that you can put the "s" outside of the brackets. It's just cleaner that way, and the style guidelines list that as good usage. --Arensb 11:32, 25 November 2011 (CST)
Hi Arensb.  :-) OK, but:
  1. The style guide doesn't relay explicitly say that you can't create redirects in such cases, rather it tells you how to link if there is no redirect.
  2. If the style guide really says that you shouldn't create redirects in such cases then it is badly worded.
  3. The style guide also says: "if this is a "redlink" → [[apologist]] create a page there with this content → #REDIRECT [[Apologetics]] "
  4. The Wikipdia folks have thought about these things long and hard and their solution is plurals for redirects.
  5. If you go to a page with things which look like they should be linked you can just highlight the word and click on the "AB" tab at the top of the page. This automatically adds the square brackets. This is a lot easier than it is to manually enter four square brackets while carefully ensuring that the last two are between the root word and the final "s".
But if you still feel that this isn't permitted by the guidelines then I'll take it up at the style guidelines page. Again, I'm not looking for an argument, but this wiki is short of internal links and I was setting about creating them (check my contributions) and redirects are a lot more efficient than having to mess about with individual wiki-code for each one.--Bob M 11:59, 25 November 2011 (CST)
Hi. Can I take your silence as implicit agreement? I ask because I'd like to continue adding links but before doing so I would like conformation that this wiki is going to follow standard internal wiki-linking conventions. Thanks. --Bob M 11:47, 26 November 2011 (CST)

There is a problem that administrators spend too little time at this wiki. I did a lot of work, then got into trouble because this wiki wants a more polite approach than I was using. It would have been much better if the admins had said something tactful to me earlier on. Later I got into trouble because I called another user a troll after that user had had accused me of trolling, see Iron Chariots Wiki talk:Editing guidelines#Kazim's response. Presumably administrators had insufficient time to read that I was responding to someone else’s accusation. Proxima Centauri 13:25, 26 November 2011 (CST)

Hi Proxima. To be honest I don't really want to get involved in any other disputes you may be having as - and I hope you will pardon my saying this - you do have a tendency to get involved in misunderstandings.--Bob M 16:39, 26 November 2011 (CST)

Still more spam accounts, eh?[edit]

I thought installing the spam blacklist would have helped, but apparently it's not enough, so I'm turning account creation back off until I decide what else to do. --Kazim 14:11, 11 March 2012 (CDT)

Apparently the spammers are evolving. On the plus side, though, there does seem to be a lot less spam than before. Though the endless list of "new user created" changes is slightly annoying. --Arensb 14:42, 11 March 2012 (CDT)
There was less because I had turned off account creation for a while. --Kazim 06:23, 12 March 2012 (CDT)
What it looks like from the change history is that you turned off account creation for a while; then you turned it back on and dozens of new accounts started appearing but not editing anything. I assume that those were spammers who got past the account-creation hurdle, but not the blacklist hurdle. And then a few managed to get through anyway, though far fewer than before.
I wish I could recommend a good antispam plugin, but my other wikis are all on private networks so I haven't had to look at what's available. --Arensb 08:04, 12 March 2012 (CDT)

How are you feelings about the spam levels now? We've got public IP blacklists as well as CAPTCHA involved for every edit. As I see it, we're getting still getting just a trickle of attempted fake accounts, which is annoying but still at a manageable level; and only once every few days do they manage to actually post any junk. I'm optimistic, how about you? --Kazim 14:56, 27 July 2012 (CDT)

The purist in me is annoyed by the large number of spammer accounts being created, even if they don't actually do anything, but I can easily point him at Twitter or YouTube and distract him so he shuts up.
But yeah, in practice it looks as though spam has fallen to a much more manageable level. I no longer spend a good chunk of my morning cleaning up spam. --Arensb 15:25, 27 July 2012 (CDT)
That purist is in me too. I feel tempted to wonder whether it would be a bad thing if I went to the database with a regular expression for user names like "If username has a name that is in camelcase with exactly two capital letters, and ends in one digit, and they have never posted anything, nuke the account." I wonder how many that would destroy. --Kazim 10:08, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
To answer my own question: select * from wiki_user where user_name rlike '[A-Z][a-z]*[A-Z][a-z]*[0-9]$'
There are 750 results (and not all of them are fake; for instance, "AgnosticAtheist1" sounds legit). By comparison, there are 8093 total wiki users, which is really not very many in the grand scheme of things. Less than 10% match that pattern so, meh, let them have their fun. --Kazim 10:23, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
Oh, sure, it's easy when you have direct access to the database :-)
Now that you have a list of 750 users, you can use your second criterion: pick only the ones with zero edits to their name. It's possible you could catch an innocent user who hasn't had time to make any edits yet, but I suppose you could ignore the accounts created in the last few days.
Another approach, if you have access to the relevant logs, would be to check for users who try to make changes but fail the captcha too often in too short a period of time.
Or just leave 'em be. Again, it depends on how loud your inner purist is yelling. --Arensb 11:05, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
I don't think it's that safe to just nuke people from the database, since I have no idea what connecting tables will also start causing errors. I guess I could use the search to generate a giant list of comma separated strings, and see if there are any scripting tools in MediaWiki that will do the delete. Also, if they were failing the CAPTCHA then they wouldn't be able to create accounts at all now. --Kazim 11:37, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
More trivia: 770 users have made any revisions. --Kazim 11:44, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
And about half of those have made more than 2 revisions. This is fun. Any data requests?  :) --Kazim 11:47, 28 July 2012 (CDT)
Yeah, I don't know much about MediaWiki, but I do know that its database is a twisty maze of tables, all different. I wouldn't advise you to go poking around with SQL; rather, there's got to be some API out there for doing this sort of thing. Unfortunately, I can't recommend one, because the last time I looked, it was all in Python, and I haven't learned that yet [hangs head in shame]. --Arensb 12:41, 28 July 2012 (CDT)

So... yeah. Sigh.

The levels of actual spam posts are still manageable, but the number of new accounts created is out of control. I'm looking into the ConfirmAccount extension right now. It will require all new accounts to be approved, but anyone with Bureaucrat powers can confirm them, so all the work won't fall on me. It's ridiculous that it has to be even that extreme, but I can't see a better solution at the moment. Until I'm sure this extension works, account creation is disabled. Again. --Kazim 07:58, 10 August 2012 (CDT)

While new accounts are through the roof, I'm not too upset, because they don't actually require any action on my part, other than deleting the announcements from my RSS aggregator. Yeah, it'd be great to cut down on the number of new accounts, but it doesn't feel as urgent as cutting down on actual spam did a few months or years ago. --Arensb 13:14, 10 August 2012 (CDT)