explain xkcd:Community portal/Admin requests

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Welcome to the Community Portal. This set of pages is used to discuss how Explain xkcd works, and is divided into five sections. Please use the table below to find the most appropriate section to post in, or post in the miscellaneous section. You can view all community portal sections at once here.

Community portal sections

Proposals (post)
Ideas to improve the wiki's design and organization.

Technical (post)
To discuss technical issues.

Coordination (post)
To coordinate content editing and maintenance tasks.

Admin requests (post)
User problems, changes to protected pages, etc.

Miscellaneous (post)
Messages that do not fit into any other category.


Looks like someone's discovered us! There are several accounts with spam userpages already: User:VereGrube253, User:Sharon0H, User:RAndra, User:KathrynMwy, User:Ffmdcyz, and User:Pimarsolek23. What should we do with these? I'm all for deleting the advert and blocking the user, but I didn't want to do that without input (esp. from Jeff). --Philosopher Let us reason together. 01:59, 4 August 2012 (EDT)

  • Cold shoulder for spam. Jeff should give the final say, but I'll up-vote shutting down spam users accounts... and a policy statement that lays out the rules, such as user pages are for contributing to xkcd-related discussions. Off-topic subject matter must find a home elsewhere. In the meantime, perhaps roll back the spam, post an announcement on the problem user page, and mark protected. Thoughts? -- IronyChef (talk) 03:14, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
  • Delete and block. And some plugin (or whatever) to keep them from signing up. Spambots don't read announcements. --SlashMe (talk) 03:31, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
  • Delete the userpages (and spam edits) and block indefinitely. A vandal might be someone having fun but who can be converted into an editor if nurtured, but a spammer definitely has an agenda and we should have no hopes for them. Also we might need some captcha extension (I'd suggest using the ReCaptcha option). --Waldir (talk) 03:53, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
  • Delete and block. Spam cannot be tolerated. Captcha sounds good. Are they edits to actual comic pages or new pages? If someone wants to actually advertise, they can come to me. --Jeff (talk) 12:38, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
    From my experience taming spam in small wikis in the wild, spammers tend to use all sorts of techniques, from using different accounts to upload images (since there are more restrictions on that than on editing pages), to creating the pages in their user namespace and then moving them elsewhere, to creating the spam pages directly, to adding/replacing links in existing pages... --Waldir (talk) 12:51, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
    Do you know if there are any good anti-spam bots out there that could be persuaded to add this wiki to the list they patrol? --Philosopher Let us reason together. 16:20, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
    I don't know much about anti-spam bots, but if they work roughly as I think, I'd prefer us to try out extensions + user intervention before resorting to bots. I'd like to know generally how efficient automatic (trigger-like, rather than continuously or regularly running bots) can get at preventing spam. We should start with captchas. Then, if needed, we can add more: Bad Behavior looks interesting, and we can always restrict editing to registered accounts, coupled with email confirmation or OpenID. But these steps should be taken one by one, as needed, so we can measure what works and what doesn't. --Waldir (talk) 17:15, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
    Is this spam? User:BoyceX9 --Jeff (talk) 16:40, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
    Yes, so far they've been following the same pattern. Introducing themselves (with a completely different name from the account name), praise the wiki, say they wanna help... then ramble about "them" and "their" work, culminating with one or more links to commercial, shady-looking sites. --Waldir (talk) 17:25, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
     Done Ok, ReCaptcha is enabled. I believe I set it for all non-bots, non-admins on 'addurl', 'createaccount' or 'badlogon'. --Jeff (talk) 12:42, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Can the extension be configured so it will only be applied to "new" users or accounts with an edit count of less than, say, 5? While I'd understand a captcha on the first few edits, after that, it gets annoying quickly, particularly when you get captcha like this. Omega TalkContribs 09:35, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
    I tend to agree. I've been an editor in several small wikis where spam also needs to be kept under control, and never "upgrading" past the captcha level does get annoying after a while. I suggest the captcha to be disabled for autoconfirmed users, and users who have a confirmed email (mw:Extension:ConfirmEdit#Configuration for details). Autoconfirmed status depends on a user performing a given number of edits, and having an account older than X days. Both are zero by default; I suggest setting them to 5 edits and 3 days (around 250 000 seconds). Here's how to do it. --Waldir (talk) 11:32, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes. I'll edit it. --Jeff (talk) 18:19, 9 August 2012 (UTC)
Seems like editing is disabled for anonymous editors. I think that keeps away a lot of drive-by editors who could be enticed to later create an account, while spammers have no problems creating accounts, as we've seen. Therefore, this restriction does more harm than good, IMO. if it makes the idea any more bearable, Captcha could be enabled for all edits by anonymous editors, even if they don't add links. --Waldir (talk) 21:23, 9 August 2012 (UTC)
Ok - anon edits has been enabled. I changed captcha so that all registered users don't get it on edits. Hopefully that makes it easier on everyone. --Jeff (talk) 02:32, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Is there a procedure for alerting admins of spam accounts? I've seen them slammed down quick enough, but if there's anything I can do to help? Blaisepascal (talk) 21:12, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Add {{Spam}} to the top of the page. Omega TalkContribs 22:38, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Let Me Know

Admins - Please let me know if any of the changes that you request aren't done correctly or if something needs to be changed back. Obviously, this is my first wiki hosting experience and I'm learning as I go along. I couldn't do it without you all and it is already far beyond my wildest dreams. Keep it up! --Jeff (talk) 15:53, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Just a quick nod of appreciation for all your efforts! -- IronyChef (talk) 14:22, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Same here. No matter how much I like to praise the merits of MediaWiki, setting it up for many common needs is undeniably still very user-unfriendly. I'm glad we're all supporting each other around here. --Waldir (talk) 16:25, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Very nice.  :-) --Philosopher Let us reason together. 02:57, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

"Edit this explanation" link on main page

On the main page, there's a link to "edit this explanation". However, it's hard coded to point towards comic 1091, not the most recent comic, as the template does. Instead, that link should be a part of the template, so it can point to whichever comic the template is displaying (the latest). Of course, an admin would be required to do this, as the main page is off limits to other editors. Omega TalkContribs 09:27, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it needs to be fixed. However, an edit link has to point to the actual page, not the redirect (the number), so we first need a way to automatically update the title of the last comic. User:TheHYPO suggested a template listing all comic titles and corresponding numbers, but that would still need to be updated manually whenever a new comic is added. I'm not sure there's a good solution for that. Perhaps that link could say "edit", but simply point to the comic page where editors would have to click the edit tab. Does that sound ok? --Waldir (talk) 11:32, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree with the above suggestion to have it link to the comic page. I find myself trying to click the comic name/title on the main page and expecting it to go to the wiki page for the comic instead of to xckd.com. This would provide at least one way to go to the comic page. Plus, some people may want to comment instead of edit the description. That said, we might want to consider renaming it to something else, like "Go to this comic" but more witty.--DanB (talk) 15:26, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
Ok, temporarily changed to a plain (non-edit) link. Awaiting wittyness for definitive deploy :P --Waldir (talk) 15:41, 8 August 2012 (UTC)
Thus, the temporary becomes permanent. Such is life. --DanB (talk) 13:42, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Incorrect redirect

Either I, or whoever created the page (If it's me, I sincerely apologize) have created a 1024: Never page, which is wrong. I've moved it to 1042: Never, but there's still a redirect in place. Can someone, or if you'll tell me how I'll do it, delete that redirect page? I hope this is the right space to be posting this. lcarsos (talk) 03:57, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

 Done :) Also, I moved the thread to the appropriate discussion page (Admin requests) --Waldir (talk) 09:35, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Main page: Error in counter

I noticed the counter for the number of missing comics on the Main Page was off. Looking into it, the equation is missing a parenthesis. It currently says {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3}}, but should correctly be {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3)}}. The reason for this is that {{PAGESINCAT:Comics}} will return 3 higher than the actual pages, as it counts subcategory. Thus why we're subtracting three. However, the missing parenthesis make it so we're subtracting (from the latest comic), the number of pages including those three pages, then subtracting those three pages again, thus making it 6 off. The parenthesis make it so we're subtracting the pages in the category without those three subcategories. If that doesn't make sense, just grab a calculator and subtract the latest comic from the number of comics the main page says we'll have, and you'll see it comes up six short. Omega TalkContribs 08:44, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Good catch! I'll fix that :) --Waldir (talk) 11:38, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually you could also remove one from the current computed total, since there's no comic 404 (unless you imagine a page explaining the joke about that). - Cos (talk) 16:16, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
I was in fact planning on adding a 404: Not Found page with just such an explanation.
I have added a 404 page. Since the comic is non-existent, it isn't titled "Not Found", so I decided against creating a 404: Not Found page, or a Not Found redirect. Blaisepascal (talk) 18:40, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually, if you view the source of xkcd 404 it *clearly* states: "<title>404 - Not Found</title>" :) I also added some more color to the 404 page (including a date and title). 403 was posted on March 31 and 405 was posted on April 2, so 404 would have been April 1, although really April 2 in keeping with the M/W/F posting schedule. Squeezing it in-between was an even better joke.--B. P. (talk) 19:06, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Perfect, so nothing to change in the counter. (how on Earth did he manage to get that 404 fall on April Fool's day...?) - Cos (talk) 19:03, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
He didn't. By his standard M/W/F posting order, comic 404 should have been posted on 4/2/2008. He posted 405 on that date instead. There isn't a 404 page on xkcd.com. The HTML title element isn't from a special page he created for the comic. The page you get for the 404 page is the custom 404 error page for the xkcd.com site. Check out [1], you'll get exactly the same page. In fact, if you check out [2] and look at the actual http status code returned, it's 404, not 200 as you'll see for other pages with actual comics. It's not an actual April Fools comic, it's just plain missing. Blaisepascal (talk) 19:38, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Ah, but it is. Granted, he did skip the number 404, but not by accident, and that is the joke. Gotta love Randall: he's so meta ! -- IronyChef (talk) 14:23, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree it's a joke, and intentional. However, I think it's pure coincidence that it fell around April 1st. I think Randall would have done the same 404 joke even if it had fallen on June 31st instead. The joke itself is rather subtle, since people just looking at the site wouldn't see it, and people following the RSS feed wouldn't have seen it. The comic numbers don't appear on the pages themselves, just in the URL. The only people who will see it are people who are obsessive about looking at the comic numbers. Blaisepascal (talk) 14:55, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, I still like the April 1 explanation better...  :) The whole "Posting comic #404 on Tuesday April 1 and making it look exactly like a regular xkcd '404' page" makes a much better story... Much better than "He accidentally skipped #404 and it just happened to have been around April 1, boy that could have been a good comic opportunity, too bad he was just clumsy and didn't realize the potential inside jokes the techies would have read into it..." --B. P. (talk) 20:16, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
The explanation above holds true: Randall went straight to 405 on his regular schedule, and xkcd 404 really does return an HTTP 404 result code. But that technical explanation aside, there is no doubt that Randall deliberately chose to do so, so xkcd 404 is an AFD joke, even if he never put (virtual) pen to paper to do so. As far as comic scheduling goes, you might say we got a freebie. BTW, there have been other instances of Randall modifying his schedule, the tribute to Steve Jobs being another example IIRC, so the MWF rule, while fairly stable, is not inviolate -- IronyChef (talk) 14:23, 23 August 2012 (UTC)


Any reason the Main Page was moved to explain xkcd from main page? I moved it back.
Any reason the templates aren't working?
--Jeff (talk) 02:27, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Something seems to have gone seriously wrong? Earlier, I was redirected to a non-existent version of a subpage of an old blog-style explanation. And now I'm getting "500 Internal Server Error" warnings when I try to use Special:RecentChanges to see what's happened lately. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 04:12, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, for one of the problems, something seems to be forcing template titles to begin with a lowercase letter? Which is weird, because all pages, including templates, begin with a capital letter. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 04:18, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
Here's what broke the templates: the change requested at User talk:Jeff#wgCapitalLinks. When we link templates, we've been using lowercase letters in the template links, relying on the software to be smart enough to know we meant the capital version. So {{xkcd}} and {{Xkcd}} would refer to the same template. The change to wgCapitalLinks allowed page names to begin with small letters, but at the same time made the software think that {{xkcd}} and {{Xkcd}} were different pages. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 04:33, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Hi guys, sorry about that. Mea culpa.

The main page was moved because then people reaching the wiki would see as first header the actual name of the wiki, rather than the generic mediawiki "Main Page". I assumed it would be an uncontroversial move, mut apparently I misjudged that.

As for the templates, it is only one instance of broken links due to the change to make links case-sensitive. This is mostly visible for templates because due to their very nature, they're used in many pages. We just need to move them to the lowercase titles (or create redirects from those, depending on which version is preferable as canonical; for instance, I moved {{Xkcd}} to {{xkcd}}, but {{Yesno}} to {{YesNo}}). The links couldn't be fixed prior to the configuration change because the software would point us to the capitalized version whenever we tried to access the lowercase version; a move wouldn't work as the target would be assumed as the same page.

I have no idea what broke Special:RecentChanges. Perhaps it was unrelated, or perhaps it was a hiccup as the software regenerated all internal links? I have no idea. It seems to be working now, anyway.

Again, sorry for the confusion. I hope you'll all understand it was a necessary hurdle to get over if we want to be accurate about capitalization issues (Xkcd vs. xkcd, S/keyboard/leopard/ vs. s/keyboard/leopard/, etc.) --Waldir (talk) 08:42, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

For the love of god, can we please undo this change? I'm completely unconvinced that case-sensitive first characters is beneficial for the wiki. There's a good reason that the default is case-insensitive (bearing in mind this only applies to the first character). If the concern is "automatic capitalization", there's ways to override the page title, where needed (for example, Wikipedia's page on iPods). However, case insensitive pages means linking and creating pages is now more complex. For what? For a handful of pages that need the first letter to be lowercase? The only pages I can think of that need that is the page on xkcd itself. Templates don't matter much, but if we're counting them, then there's the {{xkcd}} template (note: would need to be surrounded by noinclude tags, to prevent renaming every page the template is used on).
Now, why am I so venomously opposed to this change? Look at it this way: Explain xkcd (the "main page") and explain xkcd are entirely different links. At the time of writing, the all-lowercase alternative, which normally should work fine, does not. Why is that? because of this change. I'm sure that ten seconds after the first person reads this, we'll have a redirect there (I'm not going to, as if the change is reversed, god knows what will happen when two different pages are suddenly considered the same page), but that's not the point. The point is the sheer difficulty this change just created. If a page author forgets to create a redirect to a properly cased page (in the vast majority of cases, the page should be in sentence case. "xkcd" is one of the very few possible exceptions, and Randall himself stated that "Xkcd" is fine). Anyway, back to our author with his newly created page. We'll assume he's familiar with Mediawiki, and links to his page from another page. But he links in lowercase, as most links will likely be (the page on wikipedia is technically "Cabbage", but unless the word is at the beginning of a sentence, we'll be typing "cabbage"). Our page author, however, is confused. His link is coming up as a red link, even after triple and quadruple checking his spelling. Raaaage quit. And all for what? So one or two pages can be lowercase?
There's a very good reason why Wikipedia keeps this default on. In fact, multiple reasons. User friendly, practical, low maintenance... And the reasons to support case sensitivity? Pretty much nothing, since rare instances where a lowercase first letter is required can override the title with magic words. I know we aren't Wikipedia; we don't have their rules for consensus (though I wish we did), nor do we have their community, their careful array of checks and balances, and distributed rights. Yet, I think that such an incredibly controversial change without any consensus and without any real benefit doesn't suit this wiki at all. I ask that we undo the change or at least discuss it in depth. Come on, folks, this is rewriting an entire language because you couldn't spell one word. Omega TalkContribs 09:33, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
And now the main page has been renamed to "explain xkcd" (in all lowercase). The project namespace is also in lowercase. Yet, we still use the traditional "File" and "Template" namespaces (I don't think you could change their casing without editing Mediawiki's PHP files, though). In other words, moooore inconsistency. Can we puleeeeze sit down and discuss these changes? Can anyone name one reason to use case insensitive titling versus page title overrides on the one or two pages that actually need them? It's generally accepted that articles in media use "sentence case" (eg, "Case Sensitivity", not "case sensitivity"). Also, to be specific, this change only applies to the first letter of page titles, which are normally case insensitive (to ensure ease of use). Other letters are by default case sensitive (eg, "Hello world" is always a different article than "Hello World"). This is actually partially a technical issue (most programming languages, PHP included, are case sensitive). Omega TalkContribs 09:52, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I think you're seeing this move as way more impacting than it is. Note that while on Wikipedia most of the pages cover topics that are objects or concepts for which it makes sense to write them down in lowercase, here the vast majority of pages are comic explanations, whose titles are capitalized (sentence case) anyway. Even several of the non-comic pages are always capitalized (the characters, Randall...), with the exception perhaps of topics (My Hobby, Velociraptors...) and a handful of others that might not be occurring to me right now. In total, these should be a fraction of the comic pages, and redirects can easily be created for them. Files are lowercase in virtually all original filenames from xkcd.com, and currently the occurrences of uppercase in their first letter derive primarily from copying the title from the file page. Now, files are lowercased so copying will pose no problems. Templates have also been moved to the lowercase versions, with redirects when appropriate, since most people use them in lowercase anyway.
As for the name of the wiki and project namespace, that's a completely different issue, and it was agreed on via discussion, and endorsed by Jeff, to be "explain xkcd" (all lowercase). This happened several days ago. Then, yesterday I moved the main page to that title, because I assumed it would be uncontroversial, as that is the wiki's name, and we don't have a header or anything, so it would serve as the primary heading of the main page, rather than mediawiki's generic "Main Page". Apparently that reasoning didn't resonate with everyone, so I'll move it back to "Main Page" for now. --Waldir (talk) 20:20, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
But you still haven't explained a single reason why this change was beneficial. The handful of pages that "needed" a lowercase first letter could easily have slapped a magic word onto the page to override the title. I'm still only thinking of two pages that would ever need a lowercase first letter (xkcd and Template:xkcd). We effectively just nuked every page to make those two pages a little bit more... fluid? What? And for the name of the main page, I do support calling it "Explain xkcd", although I don't see what it has to do with the whole uppercase versus lowercase discussion. The casing is inconsistent everywhere I see it. The explainxkcd website has a header in all lowercase, but then references the site in several other places as "Explain XKCD". At any rate, I fail to see the problem with "Explain xkcd", as sentence case has historically been used for page titles, particularly on Wikipedia. It's also much easier to borrow from Wikipedia's policies when naming and styling pages, as the vast majority of xkcd fans are likely also Wikipedia supporters. Why change what's not broke?
I'm just rather annoyed that one or two people are making every major decision without taking the time to discuss the pros and cons. Can we please sit down and discuss changes with consensus before we implement them, rather than having to argue about them after it's already done? Omega TalkContribs 20:42, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm with you Omega on the discussion factor. Lets do that going forward to make sure we discuss any changes before they go in. Is the lowercase v uppercase still an issue now? Will reverting it break things all over again? --Jeff (talk) 16:07, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Wrong File Names

Comic 1077: Home Organization has a bad image link. It's pointing to File:Home organization.png (lowercase 'O' in organization) which is a redirect to the correct page at File:Home Organization.png (Capital 'O'). AFAIK files are supposed to be first letter capitalized, the rest lowercase. Should the image be moved to the lowercase page? Please advise as to how to continue. lcarsos (talk) 23:09, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

I found another one. 1076: Groundhog Day. Same deal. File:Groundhog day.png is trying to redirect to File:Groundhog Day.png lcarsos (talk) 23:12, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
 Done: I moved both images to the lowercase versions and edited the comic pages.
Please use the original filename when uploading comics (i.e., lowercase and underscores), even though MediaWiki replaces underscores with spaces. Also, when creating the comic page, use the original filename, MediaWiki will again replace underscores to find the file. The advantage is that we will be able to replace the images with direct links to xkcd.com if this should become necessary or desired. --SlashMe (talk) 14:22, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Some clever person has gone and tagged a bunch of pages that have this issue Category:Pages with broken file links lcarsos (talk) 17:11, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
 Done --SlashMe (talk) 20:18, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
I swear I've fixed this page before, but 1054: The Bacon the image is now broken using the new style. File:The bacon.png needs to be moved and cajoled to work right. Also, there's a few redirects that should be deleted The bacon and 1054: The bacon. Thank you for your work, you are amazing. lcarsos (talk) 22:42, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Again,  Done. I don't think the redirects will hurt someone, so I keep them in place. --SlashMe (talk) 06:55, 17 August 2012 (UTC)


I would advise that an admin edit the MediaWiki:Talkpagetext message with something like wikipedia:MediaWiki:Talkpagetext, or more precisely like the message in bold on several talk pages, about signing comments.

That would avoid having to put it on top of every talk page, while also avoiding a not-so-nice message for somebody who came there just to read the comments.

Cos (talk) 16:11, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

So? Up? This does not seem a complex or controversial change to me...
There, I can make it even more simple for the lazy busy admins: here is a suggestion for the content of that system message: :-)
'''This is a talk page, so please add ~~~~ to the end of your comments to include your signature. Thanks!'''
Obviously, I would gladly do it myself if I could.
Thanks! - Cos (talk) 15:58, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
How's that? --Jeff (talk) 16:23, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
 :-D sorry, I can see that I unintentionally left a trap in my suggestion, this would have been better:
'''This is a talk page, so please add <code><nowiki>~~~~</nowiki></code> to the end of your comments to include your signature. Thanks!'''
About your version Jeff, I'm not sure the links to Wikipedia are really useful, especially since talk pages here are not exactly like on Wikipedia: on WP their only use is to talk about the corresponding page and not its subject, here they can also serve to talk about a comic which is the subject of the corresponding page. And if you choose to keep these links, then two of them need a double "wikipedia" prefix ([[wikipedia:Wikipedia:Signatures]]).
But that WPlinks remarks are no big issue anyway, the current version basically does the job so thank you for that.
Cos (talk) 17:06, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I stole that right from MediaWiki... whoops. Ok, how about now? --Jeff (talk) 17:54, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Looks fine for me :-) . If you want you can replace "the signature button at the top of the page" with Button sig.png ([[File:Button sig.png]]), but that's as you prefer. Thanks again! - Cos (talk) 18:57, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

New Page Creation Guide

Hey folks. Is there a guide for creating new pages, now that frequent users have had a little practice and the templates seem to be settled in? If not, anyone want to volunteer to start one? I've just been copying the latest comic and erasing its content. Perhaps we can start the guide by providing that. It should also be linked from the main page in the section encouraging people to add comics. --DanB (talk) 13:55, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

  • I support this. Two pointers: I have a page called User:Blaisepascal/newcomictemplate which has an empty template for a new comic, including an {{Incomplete}} at the top, all the major sections (Explanation, Transcript, Trivia), and the {{Comic discussion}} at the bottom. I use it to simplify getting the format right. Lcarsos has also written a Ruby script which will, when given a comic number, will fill in the newcomictemplate with all the information which can be grabbed from xkcd.com (the number, name, date, image name, title text, and Template), as well as the redirect string. All that needs to be done before copy/pasting into explainxkcd is to proof-read it, add appropriate wiki links, and add an explanation. I think a guide should point out tools like this. Blaisepascal (talk) 14:51, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
A few more tips, remember that the Wiki software doesn't recognize single returns as new paragraphs, there needs to be a whole line between things you want to show up on different lines. And in transcripts, the Wiki software things anything enclosed in double brackets — e.g., [[ — is obviously a link so some other page on the wiki. Most people are deciding to simply take out the second bracket.
Also, please, please, please, please, please, add links to Wikipedia. Simply encase the word in {{w|My Phrase}} and the {{w}} template will pick it up and link to that article in Wikipedia. Be sure to click the links you are creating, sometimes Wikipedia's links are awkwardly case sensitive, and conversational capitalization will take you a "No page exists with this title" and won't give you any hints about the page you are looking for. If this happens use {{w|Conversational Capitalization|conversational capitalization}}. The first is the name of the article, the second is what will show up in the generated anchor tag.
Finally, as you are going through, if you are using Jeff's explanations from the blog, please go through and edit the sentences to not include personal pronouns, e.g., "I". Since anyone can edit (nearly) every article here, there is no 'I' and there is no 'we' if you are referring to anyone who's edited the article. We is referring to human beings in general on this wiki, and it would have to be a very special case to mean anything more exclusive than that. lcarsos (talk) 15:36, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the tips. Exactly the kinds of things I think should be in a guide, more specific for this site than Wikipedia's Editing Tutorial is. --DanB (talk) 19:48, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I've started work on exactly that document. I'm currently keeping it at User:Lcarsos#Formatting. If people think this should be moved out to a real page I'll do that. Just tell me what people think a good name would be. lcarsos (talk) 20:10, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Please ban User:Jjhuddle

None of the changes that Jjhuddle have made have been for the better. He has reorganized talk pages to fit his own formatting guides, removed perfectly good paragraphs from explanations, refuses to take constructive criticism, refuses to link to his user account in his signature, more often than not forgets to sign his posts, and is being a minor menace. lcarsos (talk) 20:05, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

 Done --Jeff (talk) 16:22, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I might step into what is not my business here, but I can't help thinking that was a bit harsh.
Looking into his contributions, I see several changes that were perfectly constructive, maybe awkward sometimes, but usually in good faith "for the better". Sure there were mistakes as well, such as discussion reformatting or weird signatures, but (in my opinion) that's really no big issue, and on the whole asking here to ban him without first, for instance, warning him about that, seems pretty rude to me. Also lcarsos, where on earth did he remove perfectly good paragraphs from explanations?? the closest that I found was this, and frankly that can arguably be interpreted as an improvement (actually I would have done it as well).
So I don't know, maybe it's better to act quickly without thinking too much, in order to avoid lengthy, time-consuming debates; that was just my 2¢, do whatever you want with it.
Cos (talk) 17:45, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I assumed that lcarsos has dealt with JJ Huddle over these issues and had finally brought it to us, but I'll leave that for lcarsos to answer. --Jeff (talk) 17:50, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Let me give you a kind of chronology.
His first attempt at creating a page was actually quite good, his explanation needed a little work to explain things that people might miss, rather than tell what is on the page, but that is a common mistake in enough English classrooms, that I'll write that off entirely. His second page, made 5 days later, was a step backward.
  • Separate Title Text section despite using the {{comic}} header
  • Discussion section despite using the {{comic discussion}} template on his first attempt.
  • Explanation was better used as a transcript than as an explanation, when there was a perfectly good explanation that existed on the blog, all he had to do was copy and paste.
The last of which is what spawned my first post on his talk page. A rather long "welcome to the community post" offering some helpful (that's me talking about myself, somebody double-check me User talk:Jjhuddle#Welcome, and a little constructive criticism) tips. That was a week ago.
After that he fell off my radar until yesterday, I was doing some minor clean up when I stumbled on a talk page that had been completely revised to use bullet points. I delved into its history and found that it was him at fault. That spawned the second of my entries on his User talk:Jjhuddle#Do Not Change talk pages which was, admittedly, tersely worded. But I did note, that he had not posted a response to my first post. He must have seen the banner that one of the pages on his watchlist (His talk page) had been changed. But didn't post a response, he's been chatty enough elsewhere on the wiki (creating talk pages to ask where the new comic is; and inserting into actual pages, things that should have been in the talk page, which he did but was too impatient to wait for an answer), so I concluded that he wasn't going to take this seriously.
His changes to comic explanation pages usually replaces other words, not that they are better wordings, but that they are replacements: Michael Phelps, Hypochondriac's Nightmare, Vows. In both Clinically Studied Ingredient and Nightmare, he writes "It is not known..." which suggests that he should instead open it up to the community in the Talk page until it is decided, and an edit can then be made, once it is known. TheHYPO dealt with it in short order in Ingredient.
I had refreshed the Vows page when I noticed the talk section was done in bullet points rather than indentations, and the first line of the article (which had survived many edits) was gone. After checking the version history and seeing that Jjhuddle had been on both pages, I checked his contributions more thoroughly. I found that every talk page he had been on after 8 August he would go back and revise it to use bullets, despite the indentations working perfectly well to illustrate the threaded conversations (and in at least one case breaking them: Crazy Straws Talk, note the response to Erenan's post). Including the Star Ratings Talk Page where he literally added the "please sign your comment" banner and revised it to bullets, but never left a comment, and didn't add even meager signatures.
Then I undid the changes to both Vows pages. Having now looked through most of his edits, I felt that it was time to put a stop to his shenanigans. That is when I created the post on this page.
Was it harsh? Yes. All banning is. Was it rude? Probably. But so has his conduct been to the community. His kind of loose-cannon enthusiasm hasn't hardly benefited this wiki, and I bet that if he was allowed to continue, the majority of his edits would be undone. In a philosophy class I took, we had a debate about at what point a laundry list of grievances becomes actionable. We never did nail down an exact number (is that even possible in a philosophy class?) but we decided that everyone has their own instinctual limit, and should act on it rather than wait.
Cos, I suppose I should have said "removes/replaces content without adding anything more" instead of "removed perfectly good paragraphs", as it allows what I've discussed to be included in that umbrella.
lcarsos (talk) 22:55, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Please block

Spam bot replaced Template:W with spam content. Please block IP.

On a related note. what is the best way to signal to admins/moderators an IP address that needs to be blocked for destructive/spam edits? lcarsos (talk) 18:05, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

(Temporarily) Turn Off Anonymous Edits (please)

We've had 50 anonymous destructive/harmful edits since the beginning of this slew. I think because of the popularity of 1110 the site is getting more attention than usual. Maybe if anonymous edits are turned off through the weekend that might get us through the storm. Please and thank you.

The full list for those that care:

  1. Template:W
  2. User:Joe Green
  3. 1093: Forget
  4. explain xkcd:Community portal/Miscellaneous
  5. Talk:626: Newton and Leibniz
  6. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  7. Category talk:Comics from June
  8. User:Lcarsos
  9. Talk:1038
  10. explain xkcd:Community portal/Technical
  11. User:Lcarsos
  12. User:Enginesoul
  13. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  14. User talk:Medotcom
  15. User:Waldir
  16. User:Jeremyp
  17. 1093: Forget
  18. User:BKA
  19. Talk:1097: A Hypochondriac's Nightmare
  20. User talk:
  21. 1093: Forget
  22. explain xkcd:Community portal/Miscellaneous
  23. User:Klamann
  24. User:IronyChef/TestKitchen
  25. Category talk:Electric Skateboard
  26. 1093: Forget
  27. Category:Pages with too many expensive parser function calls
  28. User:IronyChef
  29. 1093: Forget
  30. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  31. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  32. 1093: Forget
  33. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  1. 1093: Forget
  2. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  3. 131: Fans
  4. 1073: Weekend
  5. Talk:1094: Interview
  6. 118: 50 Ways
  7. explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals
  8. 11: Barrel - Part 2
  9. User:Waldir
  10. Template:google custom
  11. Template:outdent
  12. 1: Barrel - Part 1
  13. User talk:Jtorba
  14. 140: Delicious
  15. User:Yirba
  16. 140: Delicious
  17. 1093: Forget

--A haggard undo-er of mischief lcarsos (talk) 22:15, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Sorry - just getting to this now... how does it look now? Still garbage coming in? --Jeff (talk) 12:25, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
Just an FYI... it seems that the worst of the vandalism happened during the days when xkcd 1110 was current, and we had a bunch of anonymous vandals, though that has declined again. My only reservation on blocking anonymous edits is that outside of this exceptional window, most anonymous edits, by far, are of the good kind. (Right now, my only grouse in the Angel of Death category is that one person who registers with a Chinese name, and puts jibberish pages with links to some Mulberry bag outlet store...) What would seem more effective is being able to block where external links go to. Linking to xkcd.com or wikipedia.org seem reasonable, but anything else should be disabled, or at least requiring an admin's approval... Thotz? In conclusion, I will say a big tin star to Lcarsos, and the whole cast of regulars, in keeping the content here free of vandalism! (I've got to get myself one of those graphics, and post it on the appropriate user pages...) -- IronyChef (talk) 14:43, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Object Cache

Hi Admins - The reason the site was down was the Object Cache database got to be over 1 GB in size and took down access to all databases, so needless to say, this cannot happen again. I've got but $wgMainCacheType set to CACHE_NONE. Is there anywhere else I can turn off the caching to the database? Jeff 12:34, 27 September 2012‎ (UTC)

Minor change to protected page

Hi - new here... I wanted to correct the text for comic #1153 (to change 'apparent paradox' into 'paradox', since the word means 'apparent contradiction') but the page is locked (I get 'This page has been protected to prevent editing' on the Source page). Is there some magic I'm missing, or have you blocked all pages due to malicious hacking?

Hi, I don't mean to question your intelligence, but were you by chance on the main page, and not on 1153: Proof? I don't see any protections on the explanation page itself, but we definitely have the main page locked down due to the number of spam bot changes we'd have to fix if it were not. The Main Page just has a view (called "transclusion" in wiki terminology) of the comic page, so if you were trying to edit the main page, it wouldn't have helped much because the actual text of the explanation is on the explanation page. If that's not the problem, do write back so we can get to the bottom of this. lcarsos_a (talk) 07:34, 30 December 2012 (UTC)


I'm not sure why I had to solve a captcha for adding an external link in this edit, but perhaps this can be fixed by adding www\.explainxkcd\.com to the captcha whitelist. -- 10:28, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

 Done, thanks for reporting. Let me know if it solves the issue. --Waldir (talk) 05:15, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Test Seems to work. Thank you! -- 08:28, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Comments out of date on comic page: solution

I've added my comments to discussion page of comic 191, but they don't show up on the main one. Can you guys hint on what I've done wrong? Thank you in advance. - E-inspired (talk) 16:24, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Now it's happening to 954 as well :( - E-inspired (talk) 16:47, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
Never-mind, figured it out myself. I had to click out of date fix on the main page of the wiki, though not sure why - E-inspired (talk) 18:51, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
Mediawiki caches page transclusions, which is how we get the talk page to show up on the explanation page, and the latest comic on the main page. The cache eventually refreshes itself, but, if you want it to show up right away you can do a little url hacking to add the argument &purge=true onto the page the transclusion is occurring on. lcarsos_a (talk) 18:55, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Mr. Lcarsos for such a great explanation, I will be sure to use it next time. - E-inspired (talk) 19:48, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Captcha help


The page Special:Captcha/help tells people to contact an administrator if the captcha is "unexpectedly preventing you from making legitimate contributions". I just recieved a captcha asking me what the first name of XKCD's writer is. Now I know that most fans should know his name by now, you really can't expect every visitor or editor to this site to remember that, and in many cases a visitor won't know that sort of information at all.

I respectfully request that you arrange for that question to be removed from the list of captchas that appear for us IP users.

Thank you. -- 00:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Oh, sorry, I actually contacted a beauraucrat when you posted your first message on my talk page, but I forgot to respond to you. That question *should* be pulled now. Davidy²²[talk] 12:26, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Okay, thanks.-- 13:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)