Pharyngula Wiki

TL;DR is at the bottom.

We've had some privacy problems when Pharyngulites unknowingly expose their IP address by editing or commenting while not logged in. Some don't care, but others do, because they're living in fundamentalist occupied territory, or otherwise have cause for concern about harassment.

The admins here have been contacted on several occasions to hide the person's IP address from public view. In most situations, admins can fix the problem by selectively deleting the edits in question. However, article comments are a special problem for us.

A comment is a "page" like any other page on the wiki, and the name of a comment page is generated by the MediaWiki software, automatically including the commenter's username. If the commenter is logged in, the page will be named something like Talk:All-day_New_Mexico_Chilli/@comment-Proxima_Centauri-20120723162927. But if they are not logged in, it'll be something like Talk:Sandbox/@comment- In this case, is the user's IP address.

The names of every page, and thus these IP addresses, are included in public logs, even after they're deleted. None of us admins here have the ability to hide or edit those logs. Only Wikia staff and a few Wikia-wide volunteers like the VSTF have this ability. In the past, we have sometimes relied on them to remove IP addresses from our logs. But they won't do this for us anymore as a routine matter; I've asked; the volunteers have more recently been told their ability is not meant to be used for this purpose.

Now the only way left for us to deal with this problem safely is to turn off commenting. This will replace our commenting system with Wikipedia-style Talk pages. You can see one currently in use over at Talk:Social justice link roundup. Talk pages are easy to find on the wikis that don't use commenting. Have a look at Wookieepedia's article on The Star Wars Holiday Special. Next to the Edit button there's what looks like a dialog bubble, which says 84 Talk, indicating there are 84 edits to the Talk page. Clicking on that will take you to the Talk page.

We can use these Talk pages for all the same purposes as we currently use comments. In Pharyngulite spirit, I've removed the "Be polite, Assume good faith, Be welcoming" guidelines from Talk page headers.

If someone accidentally exposes their IP address on a Talk page, admins here will be able to hide it in our usual way, without appealing to the VSTF who can't help us do this anymore.

Over on User:SpikeToronto's private wiki, I have confirmed that turning off commenting will not automatically destroy the comments which already exist. If the PharynguWiki community supports turning off comments, then I personally will move all the comments we currently have over to their respective articles' Talk pages, so all the content will still be visible.

TL;DR: article comments have proven to be a privacy hazard; Wikipedia-style Talk pages will not be. If the PharynguWiki community supports this proposal, we will use Talk pages instead of comments. All current comments' content will be preserved on the new Talk pages.


  • Obviously I'm supporting my own proposal. Please ask questions if you have them. Blame MarkovBaines 23:12, July 30, 2012 (UTC)
  • This sounds fine to me. I don't have any objections. Let me know if there's any way I can help with the transition. CCipher 00:02, July 31, 2012 (UTC)

Note: I'll close this discussion on or soon after September 18. Blame MarkovBaines 01:35, September 15, 2012 (UTC)

Closing now. This has been on the front page for a month and a half, it's been the front page for a month, and the new messages widget (that makes the "Community Messages has been updated" popup appear) has been bumped nine times to alert anyone who's viewing any page on the wiki. There's been no objection to Wikipedia-style Talk pages, so I'm going to go ahead and move the old comments now and turn off commenting. Blame MarkovBaines 02:36, September 18, 2012 (UTC)