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User talk:Sam Odio/21 Nov 2005

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>=Site questions= Have questions about what you can and can not do? Ask them here. You may also get a response from User:Bear.

not sure where this goes ...

I just got a comment ... whatever you decide on local ops and page control ... remember to keep open the possibility of collaborative administration of sites. Example: let's say I get a second animator in on my Square-Trix project ... remember though the original author should have the most control, he should be able to name other people to also be admins of his page ... you see what I'm saying?

nobody's left any messages at my site yet ... they are able to aren't they? I havne't blocked other people's edits of the page have I? --Nerd42 08:23, 26 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Just at the moment -- subject to change -- BluWiki is running pretty much like a normal wiki as far as meatball:HardSecurity goes. Other than Sam, I'm the only user with sysop privs and I use them only for janitorial purposes. You can -- in theory -- edit any page, as can any other user. Insofar as there is a BluWiki philosophy, though, you're expected to mind your own business. In the case of a collaborative project, of course, the bounds of "you" and "your" are pretty flexible.
I'm sure we'll always keep individual users' talk pages open for their intended purpose.
I'm not aware of any content or editing disputes at this time, and I rather hope it will stay that way. Don't worry, be happy. —"Bear" 08:21, 3 Nov 2005 (EST)

Copyright status?

OK I'm not a lawyer, OK and I've been known to break a few copyrights in my time ... I'm wanting a wiki page for my Square-Trix project to recruit voice actors for a Flash cartoon. All sprite cartoons that use commercial sprites (such as mine) kinda break copyrights alot because they involve the use of illegal software to rip images out of games. Go lookup sprites or sprite cartoons or whatever on Wikipedia if you like. Anyways ... is what I'm doing OK or should I get lost? What is the copyright status of content placed on this site anyway? --Nerd42 15:55, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Fair question; here's an answer, but Sam's the authority here:
Use common sense. BluWiki does not have a copyright policy yet. If you upload something that instigates a copyright holder to send a takedown letter to Sam, you probably didn't use common sense. —"Bear" 17:39, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I would have to agree with Bear here. You will want to make sure any copyrighted material published on bluwiki conforms with the fair use doctrine.
There is no official copyright yet - I'm guessing public content will be published as "free" under something like the GNU Free Document License.

Articlespace to Userspace

Hello, I am a new user here to bluwiki and I just wanted to know, I just created my first new wikispace here titled Vela Alliance which is the space for my flaghship story series. And if you go to the first link called "Prime Earth Timeline" it will go to the userspace subpage where all the info will be written into.

I assure you that all the information is original and I wanted to ask if it's alright to do this? To make links from the Article space Vela Alliance to subpages in my own userpage where the info will be stored?

VelaAdministrator 06:01, 7 Oct 2005 (EDT)

VelaAdministrator, the great thing about BluWiki is that yes - you can do (and we encourage) that type of thing. Although this may change, right now you can make any page in any namespace and link it to any other page on the wiki. Have fun! --Sam Odio 09:40, 7 Oct 2005 (EDT)
Thank you so much on that insight.--VelaAdministrator 01:25, 9 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Site Suggestions

Suggest any server / code upgrade changes here. You can also contact me.

Hey, how about re-enabling templates! Even if it's only for user pages... --17:26, 27 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Local op

Sam, I've been thinking about your comment -- the one where you envision users being able to stake out pages and control them. It's sort of like splitting BluWiki into an indefinite number of small wikis, each one with its own god-king, with all powers within his little patch -- and of course, this being cyberspace, any given patch can be any size, so maybe not little at all.

This might best be called the "local op" or "local operator" strategy; it is equivalent to ICQ, where anyone can start a channel, thus becoming an op on it; later, others can join, but the op remains in control and can kick, ban, or even promote other users to op. If you're familiar with ICQ, I'll say no more; if not, let me know, and I'll fill you in with the exec summary.

There are a few different ways to simulate local op in a wiki, but none that actually enforce these rules. The whole idea is more or less contrary to the general wiki concept of collaborative editing. That's fine -- no harm to repurpose technology! -- but it means MediaWiki is not built with it in mind.

There's already a site almost like that: h2g2 is da bomb! --Nerd42 15:53, 25 Oct 2005 (EDT)

MediaWiki code hack

Now, it may be possible to change the server so that it does what you like -- and that will take some thought and some doing. —"Bear" 02:09, 31 Aug 2005 (EDT)

  • I think I had said this before but no harm repeating – I had originally envisioned originally hacking the mediawiki code so that on every page users could customize:
    • the background
    • a set of navigation links on the left (this would help visitors navigate their pages)
      • I believe this would work better than linking at the top.
    • view permissions (for private pages?)
    • edit permissions
    • logo in the top left

--Sam Odio 09:39, 2 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Soft security

After some thought, I no longer think there's any immediate need for a hack here. We just need a simple rule: Edit your own projects in your own userspace only. Reserve mainspace (what on Wikipedia is articlespace) for collaborative projects. There will be a short, confused time as we move all mainspace pages to user subpages, but I think it will then settle down.

I don't think we need complex Hard Security to control who edits what; we just need to set standards and enforce them. There can be a problem when a wiki attracts a lot of hit-and-run editors; if vandalism gets out of hand, we might try limiting editing to registered users only -- raise the bar just a bit. —"Bear" 06:39, 2 Oct 2005 (EDT)

I'm pretty sure it would be possible to implement hard security, but I agree that at least for now - it's not necessary.


I have to think about userspaces though. My biggest fear is that it will decrease the attractiveness of bluwiki. If we implemented this users would be editing urls that looked like http://bluwiki.org/go/MyUserspace:My_Favorite_Page instead of http://bluwiki.org/go/My_Favorite_Page - right?--Sam Odio 09:39, 2 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Sort of. Look at User:Bear/Tutor. The hardlink for this is:


This does not seem unduly burdensome to me, especially since I'm paying no money. I maintain a site of my own at:


-- but then, I pay money for that and am totally responsible for making it work. BluWiki is giving away unlimited space and support; I don't expect my hardlink here to be:


The trouble with allowing me to set up a page at Tutor, with a hardlink at:


is: What happens when User:Sammy Davis Jr (who also happens to be a tutor) tries to set up a page, very similar to mine, selling much the same service, also on this wiki? Maybe he goes to look at Tutor and says, "Darn; that's already taken." Maybe he says, "Hey! This is discimination against one-eyed singers!" Maybe he just blanks the existing page and writes in his own. I don't really have any justification for hogging the short page title.

This may seem like a trivial example, but multiply it by thousands of pages and conflict is not only inevitable; it's constant and boring. The first time you ban somebody for fighting over Canadian Pharmacy it might make you feel good; the 10th time you deal with the same issue, I don't think you'll get a warm fuzzy. You blank that page and protect the blank; then some idiot creates CanadianPharmacy, and another idiot fights with him over that. You stay up all night creating blank pages for Canadian-Pharmacy, Drugs from Canada, Mexican Pharmacy, and every other variation you can think of. Then you sleep all day and wake up to discover an edit war over No Down Payment.

Think like a chess master: not one or two, but seven or eight moves ahead. The game is won or lost long before somebody knocks over his king.

Pushing all content into userspace simplifies disputes. Sammy has no right to mess with User:Bear/Tutor; I have no right to mess with User:Sammy Davis Jr/Tutor; and average people can understand this. Now, if Sammy and I decide to work on some project together, then BluWiki might allow us to start a page at Tutor; but we could not claim it as semi-private property. It would be open to all comers -- common space.

I've given this matter quite a lot of thought. This solution avoids many future problems and incurs very little cost. I urge you to pass on it right away, since the sooner we move the pages, the less disruptive it will be. The longer we wait, the more vested people feel in the common space that they are squatting. Let's get them all onto their own ranches, and save the common space for things that benefit the common good. —"Bear" 18:08, 4 Oct 2005 (EDT)

I have given this some thought as well, and it was one of the first things considered when I put bluwiki.org up. But you're right. There are risks associated with giving users free access to the public namespace. To summerize our thoughts, I view the greatest risks as:

  • Multiple users quarrelling over the same page
  • Users editing other user’s pages
  • Users reserving millions of pages in the public namespace

However, large groups have succesfuly shared one namespace in the past. An example would be the internet. The reason bluwiki.org was named as such, is because webwiki.org, awiki.org, mywiki.org, and countless other variations were already taken. C’est La vie.

The reason the internet namespace is so successful, on such a large scale, is there is some basic structure to how names in the namespace are allocated and handeled. They deal with each of the three above issues:

  • Multiple users quarrelling over the same page
    • ICANN solution: First come basis
  • Users editing other user’s pages
    • ICANN solution: Users who register a domain name have full control over who can access the data on it and how
  • Users reserving millions of pages in the public namespace
    • ICANN solution: A registration fee prevents people taking this to the extreme

In the same way, I would like to strucutre bluWiki to solve these problems, while giving users access to the public namespace. I propose:

  • First bluwiki user to create or edit a page "owns" it.
  • This owner is able to control & assign Page access privileges.
  • A limit on the number of pages an IP address/user can create
    • Maybe 5 pages / IP address, 100 pages / user

In this situation, we would be giving control back to the users. Who better to decide how content should be treated then the original author?

When I started bluwiki.org, I had the three requirements below in mind. It is very important to me that as a site, we are always working towards better meeting these requirements:

  • Users can easily add content
  • Users can easily share this content
  • commercial advertising is limited to non-obtrusive text based ads

The reason I am so opposed to forcing users into userspaces is because I feel it limits the second point. Short URLs are VERY important to me. So important that I made sure the domain name was short as reasonably possible and I hacked the wiki software so that users only need to type http://www.bluwiki.org/go/Name instead of http://www.bluwiki.org/index.php?title=Name.

I know that your recommendation would, by far, be the easiest solution to our potential problem. But I don't think it is the only one.

Another thought...

You said that bluWiki is free and you don't expect to get a link like http://bear.bluwiki.org.

But why not? competing wikis do it for free... and it seems like it would solve both issues... giving the user a short domain name and their own userspace.

Just a thought.

Well, let me put it another way: I don't expect anything for free, and I don't get snippy when I don't get it. ;).
The pbwiki paradigm is very close to your vision, Sam. Each user creates "his own wiki" -- corresponding to a MediaWiki userspace. Taking a quick look, I don't see any common space corresponding to MediaWiki mainspace. There's probably a way to link from one subwiki to another, but each one pretty much stands on its own.
The question being, then: What do you want BluWiki to do that PB does not? —"Bear" 23:15, 12 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I think our differentiating feature is that BluWiki will use the mediawiki engine & mediawiki markup. This will make our wiki particularly attractive to those coming from (and familar with) other mediawiki sites.
I see the majority of our competitiors as trying to "reinvent the wheel" - I find little value in this given we already have access to a great wiki engine. Granted, we may be making some improvements / modifications to it, but I think it mediawiki users should always feel at home in BluWiki.

We've Been Blogged

I just found this intersting blog article about BluWiki that discusses these exact topics. What do you think?

I think the existence of the blog is more significant than its content -- but let me address the content first.

The author wishes to have "wiki separation" and feels that simply creating a number of pages with related names is "hackish". I'm not sure if (a) he's worried about name conflict or (b) he just wants a stronger feeling of ownership.

Name conflict is a very real problem. I, myself, carelessly uploaded Image:Logo.png, simply because that's what it was called on my local hard drive. (The new revision of MediaWiki has upgraded the upload form to permit declaration of filename distinct from the name of the local copy.) Well, I deleted that and uploaded under a more specific name. But what would happen if I insisted on squatting on that name?

I don't believe the issue that will first surface is users squabbling over content itself; I don't have any reason to edit the text found at A. But I do have a burning desire to move that page to a less-general name. On the other hand, User:Marimo seems to feel that it's perfectly reasonable to fill that extremely valuable namespace with (what I think is) a dictionary of photographic terms in German. Meanwhile, an Anonymous Coward just blanked the page -- expressing perhaps a similar sentiment to mine: that such content simply does not belong at that page title.

From a systems point of view, there is no real distinction between subdomains and userspaces, or any other scheme adopted to avoid name conflict. In each case, the effect is to eliminate the embattled target and replace it with a plethora of namespaced targets, e.g:

<s>A</s> &rarr; Marimo/A, Bear/A, Sam/A, etc.

There is no difference (to a systems man) between <tt>bear.bluwiki.org/a</tt>, <tt>www.bluwiki.org/bear/a</tt>, and other syntax. The key is that <tt>www.bluwiki.org/a</tt> is no longer a bone of contention.

Whether the original target (A) should be retained in any form is another question. I presume that so long as BluWiki encourages any form of social interaction, it will need to have common spaces. On the other hand, PBWiki seems to do entirely without that.

Back to the matter of the simple fact of blogging. One blog leads to another. It's not clear to me that you realize what a valuable resource you are giving away. At the moment, the world is mostly unaware. But the word is going to get out -- the land rush will be on -- and the most eager settlers will be the least respectable, least scrupulous netizens. Those users whose plans for world domination (or SPAM) are least acceptable elsewhere will be the first to take advantage of BluWiki's lack of standards.

You have an extremely narrow window in which to set a course for this project, after which it will just be overwhelmed and your only choice will be to push the meatball:BigButton. Time is running out -- and that blog entry is not merely a ticking clock; it is the burning fuse on the bomb. &mdash;"Bear" 10:19, 18 Oct 2005 (EDT)

File Uploads

I know that media wiki does allow for picture uploads, but I have been unable to figure out how to upload files. Is it possible? I understand if it isn't but I was just checking before I setup my own server to do it. Chotchki 18:26, 29 Sep 2005 (EDT) (was chatting with you on AIM as compwhiz1985 ;))

You should not be able to upload visio files --Sam Odio 09:40, 1 Oct 2005 (EDT)
I suggest caution. An important element in the wiki social fabric is the ability of one user to check on another's contribs. This keeps the overall project healthy. We may be much more tolerant here than on other wikis, but I'm sure we will still need content standards. MediaWiki is set up so that a sysop can very quickly scan RC and rollback vandalism and TOS violations. Personally, I would not be willing to download unwieldy PDF files, fire up Acrobat Reader, and look over these for questionable content. It's just too much work. Images are bad enough.
Another issue is uploaded filenames. If you buy into my suggestion for putting content in userspace, then you also want to enforce a corresponding standard for uploaded files. There is only one Image: namespace, but you can require that every uploaded file begin with the uploader's username. The exception, of course, is content intended for general use, such as Image:Blu-plate-diner.png. That's common property now.
I would accept no file uploads other than JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Anything else is just asking for trouble. &mdash;"Bear" 18:18, 4 Oct 2005 (EDT)

If I upload say "Nibiruans.gif" and link image:nibiruans.gif instead of image:Nibiruans.gif I get "missing image" but the image itself claims to be linked to the wiki page. I believe case sensitivity should be the same in both the image page and image linking code, it's confusing otherwise. My vote goes for case insensitive all the way so that case hassle goes away... can we fix the wiki's code? -Relax

What is bluWiki?

I agree with your opinion and that caution is needed. However, I think there is a fundamental difference here in how we perceive bluWiki. You perceive it as a public wiki, where content is controlled and sysops moderate the discussion. On the other hand, where I perceive bluWiki as providing a service that is similar (but superior) to the multitude of free hosts out there.

In this situation, content standards would be relaxed and the need for content management reduced. We would focus on giving each user control of their content and pages, as opposed to centralizing that role in a group of sysops.

I think both perspectives are valuable, and I am not writing this to convince you of mine. I'm only try to put my perspective out there, and get you thinking about it. I would encourage you to do the same for me ;)

Oh, I disagree that we disagree! I draw frequently on the example of Wikipedia for a few reasons: I'm familiar with it (to my rue); and it is the benchmark install of the MediaWiki engine. It's quite clear to me that you envision a culture quite different from this. I thought I made that clear: Not an encyclopedia; but a collection of homesteads. Makes sense to me.
We may disagree more strongly on the nature of my role here. So long as the community is relatively small and you are footing the entire bill, I don't really feel that I'm called upon to have a vision for BluWiki -- a perception, a perspective. I'm just here in a technical role -- social engineering, if you will. You tell me what you want, and I help you build it.
On a larger scale, my participation (and every other BluWikian's) is gated by the overall value you provide, so you may or may not want to take this into consideration. But my only agenda is that whatever we do, it should work -- with the least amount of fuss, bother, and drama. And I think -- indeed, it is an article of faith of mine -- that things that work have sound, profitable business models. That does not mean to suck the teat dry at one shot, but it does mean positive cash flow.
I'm pretty much rabidly anti-censorship myself; but I take that stand as opposing government censorship. I don't require, say, my local grocery store to carry porno magazines across the aisle from the chocolate bars (they do); I get a bit more worried when 7-Eleven bans all porno from corporate-owned stores; and I get really hot under the collar when the local fuzz start raiding smut shacks whose entire business is porno in one medium or another. I don't drink booze or smoke weed, but I'm glad the former is legal and I'd be happier if the latter were, too. But when I go across the street for a cheesesteak sandwich, I don't really care if Sonia sells either one.
I don't have an ethical problem with BluWiki setting limits on the type of content it will accept. If I want to publish content that falls outside the (currently non-existent) BluWiki:TOS, then I'll publish it elsewhere. Nor am I especially concerned what other BluWiki users publish. However, I suggest that we do need to set some standards -- for many reasons. These standards will determine pretty much the entire character of the BluWiki Community -- so, choose them wisely, Sam. &mdash;"Bear" 23:38, 12 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Basic question

Hi there! I'm Halibutt from the English wikipedia (User:Halibutt there). Lately I've been looking for a place to host a wiki portal for CORE. Basically it's a mod for my favourite computer game, Hearts of Iron. We already have our webpage (here, currently off-line) and our forum (here), as well as a place on game developer's forum. However, currently we're working on a new project, that is a new mod for the Hearts of Iron sequel. As the project includes a lot of translation to various languages (the mod is released in 5 languages simultaneously), it involves editing a lot of long text files. The game is easily modable, but coordination between various versions by various people might be a nightmare. That's why I thought of wiki mechanism that makes common collaborative work easier and minimizes the risk that someone overwrites anything. We used to have our own wiki past year, but the guy to host it lost his server and... well.

So, basically my question is: is it really ok for me to create such a wiki here, as part of this site? Really? :) Halibutt 16:35, 16 Nov 2005 (EST)

I don't make the rules here; Sam does. But I'm not sure why you think you need to ask about this kind of content. We have all kinds of pages here, and collaboration is what wiki is all about. Welcome to BluWiki! &mdash; "Bear" 08:30, 17 Nov 2005 (EST)


Hi, Sam. This is a great tool for me to coordinate a marathon training program with a bunch of people from the local area. I'll be making most of my pages in the article space begin with HDR, which stands for High Desert Runners. I'll have my runners make up suitable names for themselves to remain relatively anonymous, and their progress toward their goals will be charted here.&mdash;GraemeMcRae<sup>talk</sup> 17:21, 16 Nov 2005 (EST)

Deleting pages

I would like to establish a convention that pages we users want to delete should be listed in Category:delete. Then you (or any administrator) can peruse this category from time to time, quickly look at the pages listed there, and determine if the request seems legit (was the category added by the same person who created the page?) and if so, delete the page.&mdash;GraemeMcRae<sup>talk</sup> 17:21, 16 Nov 2005 (EST)

As the local janitor, perhaps I can speak to this point. If you'd like me to delete a page, just tag it with {{pd}} ("please delete"). This is not Wikipedia and we have extremely few rules. If there's any way I can make your BluTime better, let me know. &mdash; "Bear" 08:28, 17 Nov 2005 (EST)
I like the lack of rules, because that's very much in keeping with the wiki philosophy. Is there a place here where conventions such as &#123;{pd}} are explained to newcomers?&mdash;GraemeMcRae<sup>talk</sup> 09:45, 17 Nov 2005 (EST)
Not right now. The best we have right now is Help:Contents. Feel free to improve on it ;) --Sam Odio 19:06, 18 Nov 2005 (EST)
I love to write, and I love the wiki philosphy, so you don't have to ask twice. I added a few pages to the Help: namespace, including one that describes &#123;{pd}} while carefully avoiding getting added to the Category:Pages to delete!&mdash;GraemeMcRae<sup>talk</sup> 03:12, 19 Nov 2005 (EST)

Wiki software

I notice that in Templates, the &lt;noinclude> and &lt;/noinclude> tags and their cousins don't work. Can you upgrade your software to a later version of wiki? Along similar lines, I would like to implement some styles in the site's default cascading style sheets, but I don't see how to do that. In particular, I would like to implement the "prettytable" or "wikitable" styles, which are found in the wikipedia's stylesheets. Can you do that? If not, then the table will have to have all the style parameters inline, as I did on my HDR marathon page. Thanks!&mdash;GraemeMcRae<sup>talk</sup> 17:21, 16 Nov 2005 (EST)

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