Discworld & Pratchett Wiki:Mended Drum/Archive 1

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This is an Archived Discussion Page. If you wish to comment on any of these threads please do so at Discworld & Pratchett Wiki:Mended Drum. All new threads should be started there. Thank you.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

Gibberish additions to pages

Just wondering about the nature of our spammer. Are we dealing with some malicious person who is actively logging on just for the sake of wasting our time - and lots of his - by coming onto the Wiki at random intervals each day, generating four or five new User ID's, and leaving a short line of nonsense text in randomly selected articles? In which case this is somebody with too much time on his hands and no imagination - never was the word "troll" used more fittingly.

I wonder, as the method of attack is identical every time (a 10 letter user name in the form of "Rando Msele"(ction), with exactly ten letters of nonsense type inserted at the very start of a Wiki entry) - could somebody have downloaded a virus or a few lines of automated code into the deeper workings of the Wiki, which is doing this automatically, without any human intervention? Is it worthwhile to look for this?. --AgProv 23:51, 15 October 2007 (CEST)

I've tried to find out more about this kind of spamming. Couldn't find it. If I find a solution, I'll implement it straight away. One plus: if it's not automatic but someone doing this by hand, at least it's costing him a lot of time. But my guess is that this is some automatic process. --Sanity 10:02, 16 October 2007 (CEST)
I don't think that's done manually. It's a bot or a bot-net. Someone build a prototype of an insert-spam-into-wikis bot. The full-version will insert the usual "business proposals".
The best would be to make account-creation harder for a bot. I don't know if there are any options or extensions available for mediawiki. Things that would work:
  • require an e-mail reply to verify the address
  • the 1st password is random and sent via e-mail
  • let the user enter an almost unreadable number in a picture

Fix? I've added a captcha to the account creation. Not just one, but reCaptcha. According to their site:

reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher. More specifically, each word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is placed on an image and used as a CAPTCHA. This is possible because most OCR programs alert you when a word cannot be read correctly. But if a computer can't read such a CAPTCHA, how does the system know the correct answer to the puzzle? Here's how: Each new word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is given to a user in conjunction with another word for which the answer is already known. The user is then asked to read both words. If they solve the one for which the answer is known, the system assumes their answer is correct for the new one. The system then gives the new image to a number of other people to determine, with higher confidence, whether the original answer was correct.

Account creation has been re-enabled, let's see how this helps.

--Sanity 18:20, 27 October 2007 (CEST)

Other spam discussions

ATTENTION SYSOPS Alas, more spammers, although they seem relatively benign - notsure what might be happening under the surface, though. We're just getting bitched-type "autographs" at the start of many entries which are otherwise left unmolested, but what could be going on undermeath the surface of the iceberg?--AgProv 10:30, 26 September 2007 (CEST)

Probably just stupid attempts. I've cleaned it up so far with generous blocking. --Sanity 10:56, 26 September 2007 (CEST)

THEY ARE BACK - again 9/6/07. Looks like the same annoying people under slightly different logins--AgProv 11:37, 9 June 2007 (CEST)

Check our users "Dimyo" and "Dmseooo" - just appear to be spreading spam.

Apologies, but the two most recently added "articles" just appear to be meaningless spam - "Liver Transplant" and "beijing" (can't read Chinese, it might make more sense to somebody who does). --AgProv 10:15, 29 May 2007 (CEST)

Looks like the spam bots are back with the Christmas spirit. They keep giving and giving. Alas, if only the spam they give could be sent to a food pantry.

Fhh98 20:46, 26 November 2006 (CET)

Please edit the configuration again so that only registered users can edit articles. --Death 13:58, 27 November 2006 (CET)
I have noticed that this version of Mediawiki enables me (and hopefully other sysops too) to protect a specific page for registered-only editing. Perhaps we can use that for frequently attacked pages before a blanket restriction. --Sanity 17:13, 29 November 2006 (CET)
I (sadly) don't believe that that would help. So some pages are used more frequently (like the main page) most of the spam appears on random pages or even new created pages (like two days ago: Talk:Doubleday). --Death 18:28, 29 November 2006 (CET)
Okay, editing by registered users only has been set as of now. As most editors seem to be registered anyway, it shouldn't be a problem, although I don't like it that this is necessary. --Sanity 22:30, 10 December 2006 (CET)

I'm thinking of trying editing-without-registering again. Any objections? --Sanity 16:09, 11 January 2007 (CET)

I just cleaned out a registered spammer, so why not?...--Old Dickens 19:27, 11 January 2007 (CET)

Some thoughts from a fellow Discworld Wiki constructor

Let's start this page ;-)

As I wrote on afp I set up a German Discworld Wiki which is secret at the moment. I try to build a stable basis for everything with a handful of users. Before we release it for the public to play with we want at least one article of every kind as an example for new users and to see what problems could occur with certain kinds of articles (and solve them before the start).

When I looked around the Wikipedia I noticed the Star Trek Wiki Memory Alpha. They don't use the Gnu License and describe why the CC License is more suitable for projects that concentrate on one fan topic: Why_Memory_Alpha_doesn't_use_the_GFDL. That's the reason why I switched the license of our German Wiki to CC.

At the moment I am here to look around and learn from what you do with this wiki and what kind of content will evolve. You can have a look at our Wiki at TheDiscworld.de. All the page headings are bilingual (we first tried to build a bilingual Wiki, now we stick to German/English headings). Because of the bilingual redirects you can get an overview of our content by looking at the allpages special page.

--Death 09:38, 3 Jul 2005 (CEST)

It seems like this wiki too uses Creative Commons. Personally I haven't read up on the differences between CC and GFDL. Jeltz 22:08, 7 Jul 2005 (CEST)
I haven't checked the differences, but simply looked at the Creative Commons and liked what I saw. it seems suitable to use here, so I've chosen it. People are free to recommend another license of course, but it's best to have a license we can all agree on. --Sanity 22:51, 8 Jul 2005 (CEST)

Character Coding

Is it possible to change the coding so that special characters (letters) are allowed? This would be quite handy when creating pages about stuff in Uberwald (Ãœberwald) as a couple of words actually have the Umlauts in them. (You know, these funny little dots above the vowels). --Jogibaer 19:43, 28 Aug 2005 (CEST)

You can use the following codes for the Umlauts:
ä ä
ö ö
ü ü
--Chimu 22:47, 7 Sep 2005 (CEST)
This works now --Sanity 16:41, 20 March 2006 (CET)


You can link to the German Discworld Wiki by adding [[de:Pagetitle]] to the page. A box will appear on the left-hand side of the page with a link.


The first case of vandalism occured. See history of main page. --Jogibaer 19:16, 12 Sep 2005 (CEST)

Saw it. Thanks for cleaning it up. The IP has been banned. --Sanity 13:13, 13 Sep 2005 (CEST)
Due to recurring vandalism, only registered users may edit pages for now. --Sanity 19:51, 20 October 2005 (CEST)
As vandalism has gone down (probably thanks to the new plugin), anonymous users can once again edit pages. --Sanity 16:21, 13 February 2006 (CET)
Maybe that should be changed again as vandalism increases again... --Death 15:42, 20 March 2006 (CET)
The remaining problem now is vandalism, which we can handle so far. There is a slight increase, but there are enough people here to make sure that vandalism is dealt with quickly. But I'll keep an eye on it. --Sanity 16:12, 20 March 2006 (CET)
Please restrict editing to registered users again! (And update the software to 1.6.5 which enables a simple one-step integration of a bot protection here) --Death 14:58, 5 May 2006 (CEST)
Update to 1.6.5 done, installed the Bad Behavior plugin to see whether that helps. I really want to keep the editing as simple as possible. By the end of May I'll see whether this plugin helps enough, or that I'll reconsider registering for editing. --Sanity 13:00, 11 May 2006 (CEST)

Spamming season again?

Preventions aside, I think spammers who completely take out the original article content and replace it with spam ought to be blocked with an expiry time of infinite.--Vsl 02:17, 12 May 2006 (CEST)

For registred users I strongly agree about giving blunt spammers an infinite ban, but IP-addresses change so some months to a year seems fine to me. –Jeltz 12:23, 12 May 2006 (CEST)
I didn't know that... good point. --Vsl 16:26, 12 May 2006 (CEST)

Uploads Enabled

Uploads are now enabled. --Sanity 17:14, 19 March 2006 (CET)

New Users

I just got an e-mail from a new user who'd like to help, but has no wiki experience whatsoever. I pointed out this page, the Sandbox and the discussion pages, but I think it might not be a bad idea to consider a Getting Started page for new users. Anyone have any good ideas about what should definitely be on it (I don't want to make it too long, it should be more of a quickstart with some basic tips and a few pointers). --Sanity 16:29, 15 February 2006 (CET)

But we do have a Help:Editing... but I'll add some more to it.--Vsl 02:19, 12 May 2006 (CEST)

Confirmation email

I'm a new user who just signed up. I attempted to get my email activated but when I clicked on the link provided I got the message "Invalid confirmation code. The code may have expired." I checked and made sure that the full link text had been passed to the browser; I also tried another browser (IE) in case the problem was my default browser, but no difference.--Apalmer 12:44, 25 March 2006 (CET)

I don't believe it! I have just got a second email (timed 24 minutes later) with a different link. Clicking on that confirmed my address. --Apalmer 12:49, 25 March 2006 (CET)

Evil Spelling

A bee in my personal bonnet leads to some other questions. First, I don't want to hear, let alone pronounce, the plural "Dwarfs (or Elfs or Werewolfs)." The Author, however, has switched from "Dwarves" in early books to the Disney form now. A search returns far more instances of "f"; should I hold my nose and join in? Likewise, "-our" endings: I prefer the original or "American" style, but I believe "The Color Of Magic" has been published with both spellings. Don't we need one to file it under? Other alternate spellings may arise. Should there be a list of conventions for form and spelling of entries? (Oh, gods... don't call it an FAQ!) --Old Dickens 15:07, 22 Jul.2006 (EST)

Certainly there needs to be some spelling conventions set up. Terry is British and therefore we should keep the spellings in the English form not the American. As for the Dwarf spellings, I'm not too sure. Are those spellings from the American books? I think we need to check on the English publications, if the same is happening there...? Maybe we can email TP and ask what he prefers ;-)

Actually, my "Equal Rites" (with "Dwarves") is American, but I don't think there's anything American about that spelling - rather the other way around. Anyway, The Author and probably most of the contributors here are British, and most contributors have voted already for "Dwarfs".(What about the Elfs and the Werewolfs?) Old Dickens

LOL I had no idea! You mean the US publishers actually have someone go through British books and change the spelling from to American before they're released to the North American market? That seems absolutely ridiculous to me! Would Americans really be bothered by that? Or vice versa?
Anyway, as has already been stated, the spelling here should of course be British, since that's the way the books were written - which is why the original poster calling the American spelling "original" is either very, very arrogant or very, very igonrant... --Havelock 01:32, 1 April 2007 (CEST)

No, actually; the redundant "u" was only added two-hundred-odd years ago by some English fops who thought it looked French and therefore hip, cool, and groovy....--Old Dickens 03:34, 2 April 2007 (CEST)

This has actually happened: the "graphic novel" version of that most English of sci-fi books, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to The Galaxy, was rendered into American English despite the expressed unhappiness of author Douglas Adams. OK, I know the "-our" thing is inconsistent, and I can accept the criticisms of British English cultural snobbery that were expressed by Bill Bryson (American writer living in the UK and commentator on style and grammar).Neither form of written English is intrinsically "better" than the other and in some respects American English is stylistically more elegant. But you can still feel unhappy about American cultural imperialism hi-jacking something as iconically English as h2g2! And they're doing it to Pterry as well? --AgProv 11:29, 25 April 2007 (GMT)

The spelling Dwarves was created by Tolkien and has nothing to do with Americanization.--17:09, 31 January 2007 (CET)Teletran

Well, Dwarves and Elves were invented by Tolkien (the fantasy versions, that is), and TP is obviously deeply indebted to Tolkien, as is any fantasy writer. Luckily I have never read an American edition of one of his books, so I wouldn't know if that's the root of this.
A follow-up question to the people who insist on using the...well, f-words. What do you do for adjectives? Please don't tell me you say "dwarfish" and "elfish"... --Havelock 01:37, 1 April 2007 (CEST)
That was the original point; they (including The Author) do say "dwarfs" and "dwarfish", but not "elfish" or "werewolfs"--Old Dickens 19:46, 2 April 2007 (CEST)

For what it's worth, one of the official Discworld quiz books has an odd-one-out puzzle containing Middle Earth and Discworld Dwarf names. The crucial difference is that Tolkien's characters are "dwarves" and Pterry's are "Dwarfs" because he avoided JRR's neologism. Furthermore, as I recall Tolkien's felloe Inkling C. S. Lewis preferred "Dwarfs" for Narnian dwarfs, and in pre-PC days little people who were not midgets were called dwarfs. Finally, as I write this, I note that my (American-style, it likes "color", not "colour") spell-checker accepts "dwarfs" but underlines "dwarves".

Currently, the score is 114 articles with dwarfs to 23 with dwarves. The OED and Dictionary.com both list both forms. --Old Dickens 16:01, 15 June 2008 (UTC)


A thought strikes: obviously we want to stick to the NPOV policy at all times, but are we aiming for articles that "sound encyclopedic", as does Wikipedia, or are we aiming to capture the flippant tone found in the books? Cortle Steeze 17:16, 22 October 2006 (CEST)

The most important thing is that the information here is factually correct with regards to the books, and that it's an easy place to find out things without leafing through thousands of pages. It would fit with the books to keep the tone light and accessible, we're not the Britannica here. --Sanity 18:08, 22 October 2006 (CEST)

I don't see how those two have to exclude each other. Just have a look at the Discworld Companion... :o) --Havelock 01:38, 1 April 2007 (CEST)

Hogfather note

Did anyone else see the website for the Sky movie? Background notes on the Discworld are credited to the Companion, but the list of food and drink, at least, is cut-and-pasted from here. [[1]]...--Old Dickens 16:20, 6 December 2006 (CET)

So the question is. Does our list match the book or is it a straight copy? If our list matches the book then the wiki is using without permission. If the other way around then you gave to consider what to do. They cannot request permissioin to use it because the content is under a Noncommercial license. Then again, other then the comments, it's just a list of facts. Fhh98 07:50, 7 December 2006 (CET)

The list is not the same, which is how you can tell it's ours: it's shorter and includes Chicken Vol-au Vent (and the floating apostrophe after Bentinck.) As for permission, I thought a Wiki was free to all...no? ...--Old Dickens 16:24, 7 December 2006 (CET)

No wiki contributions are licensed under a Creative Commons license. It's mentioned on every page and is the first line under the edit box on the edit page.

Please note that all contributions to Discworld & Pratchett Wiki are considered to be released under the Creative Commons License (see Project:Copyrights for details).

Fhh98 00:46, 8 December 2006 (CET)

No, I never looked at the Project:Copyrights before. It sounds very complicated to try to collect and distribute royalties. I wonder what I could get for my few words? (I had assumed that the CC licence blurb was just a warning that anyone could do anything with whatever you contributed.) Then too, this example contains no creative effort at all: it's just a list, so can it be plagiarized? ...--Old Dickens 16:25, 8 December 2006 (CET)

Adding New Pages?

If I have an idea for a new page or a drastic change of format for an existing page and want to gauge people's opinions before I proceed, what do I do? --Teletran

If it's based on an existing page, use the talk page of that page. Otherwise, start a discussion on Talk:Main Page. --Sanity 15:21, 2 February 2007 (CET)

Czech wiki

Can you add interwiki link for Czech discworld wiki? IW address is


and main page should be [[cs:Hlavní strana]]. -- Anomen 23:20, 11 March 2007 (CET)

Added it. Will you add the interwiki links back? (wiki.lspace.org/wiki/$1) --Sanity 11:24, 12 March 2007 (CET)
Sure. There are already en/de links on the main page. Links in other pages will be added soon (hopefully :-)). --Anomen 12:03, 12 March 2007 (CET)

Semanticizing the Wiki

Does anyone object to my adding "hidden" semantic data to the Wiki? If/when we move to a semantic wiki, it would be nice to have semantic data already available.

My plan: create/rewrite links as [[Rincewind|Rincewind <!-- Rincewind::category::wizard -->]]. This gives the semantic information that Rincewind is a wizard, but casual (non-editing) users just see a regular link: Rincewind .

For users who edit pages, I'll put something like this at the top of each page w/ semantic information:

<!-- This page contains semantic information in the form of comments. Please see the "Semanticizing the Wiki" section of the Mended Drum page for more information -->

The format I plan to use is an extension of Semantic MediaWiki's format:

What you type What it means What the casual user sees
  Twoflower meets [[Rincewind|Rincewind
  <!-- Twoflower::knows::Rincewind -->]]
Twoflower knows Rincewind. The "::" is used to express a relation between two Wiki pages (neither needs to exist). This semantic information can appear on any page: it doesn't have to appear on the Rincewind or Twoflower page. Twoflower meets Rincewind
  Rincewind has a scraggly beard 
 <!-- Rincewind::description:=has a scraggly beard -->
Rincewind's description includes the phrase "has a scraggly beard". The ":=" is used to express a relation where the target is not linked. We don't want a "has a scraggly beard" page, so we shouldn't use the format above. Again, this semantic information can appear anywhere. It doesn't have to appear on the Rincewind page Rincewind has a scraggly beard
  Twoflower meets [[Rincewind|Rincewind <!-- knows::Rincewind -->]]
Exactly the same as the first entry if I'm on the Twoflower page. The "knows::Rincewind" is short form for "Twoflower::knows::Rincewind" if I'm already on the Twoflower page. Twoflower meets Rincewind
  Rincewind has a scraggly beard 
  <!-- description:=has a scraggly beard -->
Exactly the same as the second entry if I'm on the Rincewind page. The "description:=has a scraggly beard" is short form for "Rincewind::description:=has a scraggly beard" if I'm already on the Rincewind page. Rincewind has a scraggly beard

Does anyone object to my doing this? In the worst case, we'll have a little unused data. In the best case, if/when we move to a semantic wiki, we'll have lots of semantic information right off the bat (of course, someone will need to run a simple bot/db script to parse it out, but I don't think that's a big deal). Kellyterryjones 18:15, 11 August 2007 (CEST)

a) does it have to be within links or can it be at the bottom of all pages with a semantics in one place?
b) What's wrong with category:Wizard to tell that Rincewind is a wizard? --Trublu 14:11, 12 August 2007 (CEST)
a) If/when we move to a semantic wiki, I wanted the links to actually change to whats in the comment, so I wanted to keep the semantic information "inside" the link. Otherwise, it would be hard/impossible to "fix" the link afterwards. b) Imagine a book lists several witches-- you could create a page for each witch and put category:Witch on them, but it's easier to just mark them as witches on the book's Wiki page-- just sort of a shortcut to creating pages just for semantic information. Kellyterryjones 17:04, 12 August 2007 (CEST)
a) is there such a plan to switch wiki?
b) does that mean, that one needs to put this information into every link from every witch-book to Granny? In that case, category is way easier to add and maintain. --Trublu 17:06, 13 August 2007 (CEST)
a) There's some talk of it at Talk:Main_Page#Semantic_Wiki.3F, but I started it there too, so maybe that doesn't count :)
b) No, you only need to say that Granny is a witch once on any page. It doesn't hurt if you say it on multiple pages, but it's only required once.
c) I'm cheating sligtly (OK, a lot)-- the only semantic MediaWiki extension currently in popular use only lets you put semantic information on the current page. In other words, you could say Granny is a witch on Granny's page, but you couldn't say Granny is a witch on the Equal Rites page. I'm writing a semantic wiki that will let you do that. I was hoping to enter semantic information here (carefully "hidden" so as not to disturb end users), make a copy of the wiki, and then use the semantic information as a testbed for my wiki project. Of course, that's not the only reason I want to add semantic information-- I also think it's really useful. Kellyterryjones 03:32, 14 August 2007 (CEST)
I'd do nothing like that without the admin of this wiki not at least thinking about adding features to the software. There was only one reply to your initial suggestion (made by me). --Death 22:04, 16 August 2007 (CEST)
You mean because it'd be a pointless waste of time (which pretty much describes 95% of my life), or for some other reason? Kellyterryjones 02:53, 17 August 2007 (CEST)
The main reason "it'd be a pointless waste of time". Without him even aknowledging this discussion (and the initial post on the other page is quite old) there is not much chance that it will be included. So your work would be not only pointless but also irritate people who are not so familiar with wiki (and semantic wiki) tags. If the software is upgraded there should be a discussion first of how to insert tags, how tags should look like and what tags are needed/welcome in this wiki. --Death 07:58, 17 August 2007 (CEST)
For testing purposes, you could propably get a stripped copy of the database and test there. So you wouldn't need to edit here at all and when you finished testing, you can present a running version of this wiki with semantics. --Trublu 11:02, 17 August 2007 (CEST)
Actually, I'm already mirroring the wiki nightly, and had thought about creating my own copy of it w/ semantic annotations. The problem: once someone updates a page here, my semantic copy is out-of-date. Sure, I can re-sync from this wiki, but then I lose any semantic info I added. However, Death is right-- I don't to confuse people by adding semantic info (even if it is invisible) to this wiki. Kellyterryjones 23:03, 8 September 2007 (CEST)
Speaking of semantik wiki, I took liberty of entring some information about characters from this wiki to freebase.com (adding references to lspace wiki to each character page). Freebase.com is sort of like wikipedia, but has API like database. It is currently in alpha, open for reading but requires account for writing. Please have a look at http://www.freebase.com/view/discworld (and character list). I have couple of invitations available. It is certainly not a replacent to lspace wiki, but may be a complementary database. --hedgehog
I don't see what this database can give us that this wiki can't. In my opinion it is not complementary but a strict subset. --Trublu 17:15, 8 September 2007 (CEST)
freebase.com is exactly what I'm trying to do (reciprocal relationships, semantics, etc), but I'm a bit leery: the info is free/open-source, but the supporting application (metaweb.com) is commercial. If they decide to pull the site, all that info is gone (the info is free, but there's no guarentee it'll still be there tomorrow). If wikipedia.org ever does a project like that, I'd be 100% in. The website also seems slow and uses ugly JavaScript stuff, which is bad for text browsers + others. Kellyterryjones 23:03, 8 September 2007 (CEST)
This is a valid concern. I think the solution would be to write a script that periodically backs up information from freebase in some standard form (rdf, whatever). I actually hope someone else will write such script :-). Then if Metaweb goes under, the data can be merged into some open project, like dbpedia.org. Metaweb has advantage of convenient interface for entering data. dbpedia.org is probably what you mean by "If wikipedia.org ever does a project like that"... But you can not enter data directly into dbpedia, alas. hedgehog 8:47 AM, 9 September 2007(CST)

I don't really see an urgent need for a semantic wiki. All the data here is of course free to use in accordance with the license, so you can use it to do something complementary, but personally I don't see the added value of the whole semantic stuff, apart from "because we can" of course. --Sanity 15:01, 9 September 2007 (CEST)

SkyOne's The Colour Of Magic

Would anyone know when SkyOne's The Colour Of Magic will air in Australia? I hear in debut's in the UK during Easter. I'm not too sure if this is the right place to add this question but felt there's no harm in trying.