Teflpedia:Teachers' room/Archive/2013

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Site slowdown[edit]

I have been experiencing erratic slow page loads at Teflpedia this evening, ranging from erratically from the normal 1 second to load a page to 10, 30, even 50 seconds to load a page. Anyone else experiencing this at Teflpedia? I checked at mediawiki.org and their pages load consistently in 1 second. So it is not simply that I am having a slow connection to the Internet. However, I suspect my problem is that Comcast, my cable Internet provider, has a slow connection the the datacenter in Dalas TX where Teflpedia is hosted. Hard to know for sure what's up. --Roger 21:22, 8 February 2013 (CST)

The connection is very quick here in Peru... --Jameson2000ad 07:47, 9 February 2013 (CST)
No problem here in Spain.--Bob M 08:16, 9 February 2013 (CST)
Solved. Glad to hear no one else is seeing a slowdown. I think it was an issue with my ISP, Comcast. Hi James! Glad to see you did not sail off the edge of the Earth. Please edit a page now and then so we will know you are there. Happy Year of the Snake one and all! :-) Roger 17:51, 9 February 2013 (CST)

MediaWiki 1.20.2 upgrade[edit]

I'm upgrading Teflpedia to MediaWiki 1.20.2 today. Site will be read only for about 10 minutes during the upgrade. If you see anything amiss, please let me know here. --Roger 12:37, 10 February 2013 (CST)

Done. (Special:Version). --Roger (talk) 13:31, 10 February 2013 (CST)
That's pretty cool Roger!--Bob M (talk) 15:45, 10 February 2013 (CST)

2013 fund raiser[edit]

Okay, the 2013 fund raiser banner went live on February 12. I spent a day and a half adjusting it. Bob, feel free to personalize the messaging in MediaWiki:Sitenotice (the banner itself), in the Teflpedia:Donate page and in the Teflpedia:Treasury page. I'm no Mark Twain with words. I'd like our banner to invite viewers to become part of our community. Not sure I got that into the messaging. I feel the money is not as important as the invitation to be a part of Teflpedia--to click on "Edit" or just "Donate" what you can.

The numbers are a bit mind blowing. We had 27,500 unique visitors last month. That's 900 unique visitors a day. If one person in a thousand donates $5 or $10... we will reach our $188 goal of funding the 2013 hosting costs within 30 days. That would be heart warming community participation to me.

Logged in users can dismiss the banner by clicking the gray [X] at top right of the banner. If you do, and later want to see it again, just remove the teflpedia.com "DismissSiteNite" cookie from your browser, or just log out to see it (it always shows for non-logged in users). :-) Roger (talk) 23:21, 13 February 2013 (CST)

Okay, I got some out of band (email) feedback that the black banner background was too somber. So I've updated it to light blue. What do you think of it.. Come on, a little chatter is good for a fund raiser. Donuts anyone? WHere's the coffee? I've got to run out and buy roses for my wife now--Happy Valentines Day! :-) --Roger (talk) 13:38, 14 February 2013 (CST)
I've played around with the wording a bit but if anybody has any other ideas I'm open. I think blue colour is a bit more fetching. Thanks.--Bob M (talk) 14:14, 14 February 2013 (CST)
I'm just wondering if there is something else we could do for contributors. If thy actually had accounts we could give them blue stars. Another thought occurs to me - could we try allowing IP editing for a while? If might encourage a few more bodies to participate and it's n easy thing to switch back if the spammers turn up.--Bob M (talk) 14:24, 14 February 2013 (CST)
Okay, I have just now commented out the appropriate line in LocalSettings.php so that anonymous editing is now ON. --Roger (talk) 17:51, 14 February 2013 (CST)
Tada! Haven't seen this in a while... -- 18:09, 14 February 2013 (CST)
OK let's see what happens. (Bob)-- 03:09, 15 February 2013 (CST)

I think I saw a leprechaun, erm, um I tweaked the fund raiser banner. Changed to a green progress bar. Valentines day is over. How's it look? Um, no donations have come in since I put up the banner on 12 February. Hmm.. Zilch. The $20 in the pot came before the banner. Maybe we take the banner down on March 12? --Roger (talk) 01:01, 20 February 2013 (CST)

Just declare victory you mean? :-) It's as good a date as any.--Bob M (talk) 12:10, 20 February 2013 (CST)
"Humiliating embarrassment" is not spelled with a "v". If I had spent the time I spent creating the banner mowing lawns up and down the street I would have earned the $188 goal already, or gotten arrested for trespassing since no one hired me to mow lawns. So I'm thinking maybe put the banner away after it has run for 30 days, and call it an "experiment". I do rather like the banner. Don't you? Maybe next time (after I've recovered my gumption) we might run it as a feedback banner, inviting viewers to give us feedback on Teflpedia, and offer that if they like Teflpedia and would like to help us keep it online they could donate a buck or two. But all's not said and done yet--perchance there is still some spare change in some dear sympathetic viewers' pocket waiting to be donated to our server fund? We could use it... :-) Roger (talk) 13:00, 20 February 2013 (CST)
I think it looks great. I must admit that I did not have high hopes of getting lots of donations but I had certainly expected more than have arrived. I can only assume that people are accustomed to getting stuff free on the net.
Maybe we should switch off the site for a day or so with just the banner up? That would be a bit drastic though.--Bob M (talk) 15:23, 20 February 2013 (CST)
I closed the Fund Raiser banner today, March 13. It was up for 29 days and brought in 1 donation, of $10. (Ather $20 came in before the banner went up.) I think we do not have many enthusiastic users. 77% of Teflpedia visits are less than 30 seconds. Maybe most people are not finding what they are looking for. Hard to know. I created a Teflpedia:Feedback link in left sidebar today to see if we can get some feedback. I put many hours into getting the banner working, as it was my first time to try something like that. I left notes on MediaWiki talk:Sitenotice#2013 Fund Raiser. Maybe we should try it again next year, to see if we can outdo ourselves? :-) Roger (talk) 17:44, 13 March 2013 (CDT)
It's shame it wasn't more successful. :-( The feedback thing is a nice idea but I'm not sure that most people will notice it.--Bob M (talk) 03:11, 17 March 2013 (CDT)

Abuse filter[edit]

Have you considered installing the AbuseFilter extension? I am just wondering because, on RationalWiki at least, we've found it to be an indispensable tool for combating spam by simply programming the extensions to filter out various spammy patterns. You could set it so that sysops here can edit and program it (it's a small enough site where I assume Bob trusts every sysop not to abuse the privilege), and that way those of us who don't have access to the server can use it during spam waves to block links to spammy sites, disallow certain combinations of language that spam bots tend to use, etc. Gooniepunk2005 (talk) 05:27, 16 February 2013 (CST)

Hi Goonie. Thanks for removing the spam. :-) Was it IP spam? I ask because we've just enabled it again as a test.
The abuse filter could be a good idea - the problem is that after spending a little time looking at it I can't say that I really understand it. Roger?--Bob M (talk) 07:57, 16 February 2013 (CST)
Occam's raiser says disable anonymous editing and the problem goes away. Less is more. We really don't need anonymous editing, and without anonymous editing don't need AbuseFilter. Now, on the other hand, if we can't raise a measly $188 from our user base (we shall see but I suspect we wont), maybe we could move over to the prosperous side of the street, er, to RW's server? I would love to see TP hosted there. Does it have room for tiny little us? The folks running RW are wizards of a higher order than myself and could no doubt run the wiki with anonymous editing ON and find it a piece of cake. Myself, I'm a wizard of modest potions and prefer to operate as simply as possible with tools I can easily understand. I'm with Bob in that Abuse Filter looks a little more complex than may actually be useful to English teachers. We are not as a whole the most wizardly of folk. That may be why we don't see many English teachers participating? (Roger, who wouldn't have faced the complexity of discovering he is writing anonymously here if he had simply left anonymous editing turned OFF; there's another reason to keep it off.)-- 13:38, 16 February 2013 (CST)
Normally RW has no problem with anonymous editing - but there is real battle with a dedicated troll at the moment.
I was just wondering if allowing anonymous here would spark a bit more interest - but it doesn't really seem to have done so, at least not yet. Equally we are not exactly awash with spam.
I did speak to Trent about the possibility of having Teflpedia on RW a few years ago. He seemed open to the idea but we never developed it. Having said that there have been quite a lot of technical changes there since and I guess that between us we've paid a year in advance on this one new.
The cash isn't pouring in with the fund-raiser though. :-(--Bob M (talk) 16:04, 16 February 2013 (CST)
If technical assistance is the problem, I would argue that you should ask Trent himself if can/would host the site at discount instead and vet people on RW like David Gerard or NuttyRoux for back end help. The problem with asking the RWF to host it would be be the bureaucracy involved. Trent, however, has his own discount hosting service that is not RWf affiliated and could serve your purposes well and give you the additional support needed. Of course, you'd have to ask him first. I most certainly cannot and do not speak for him. Gooniepunk2005 (talk) 00:55, 18 February 2013 (CST)
Yes, of course, it's now the RWF which is in charge of RW.--Bob M (talk) 05:49, 18 February 2013 (CST)


I put a box-shadow on the box template which puts boxes on pages, like the box at top of this Teachers' room. What do you think of it? I am fine without it, but there it is now. So... keep it (the shadow), or remove it, or modify it? What do you say? --Roger (talk) 15:34, 10 April 2013 (CDT)

Teachers' Room[edit]

Hear ye hear ye! I propose we change "Teachers' room" to "Teachers' Room" so that it is in correct proper-noun case, like "Main Page" already is. --Roger (talk) 22:41, 10 April 2013 (CDT)

I actually answered this one promptly, but obviously didnae save it... So here goes again (more or less): So we'd have to put "Recent Changes", "Random Page", "Guide for Newcomers", "Creating a New Article", "What Links Here", etc.? Nah! Not all that convinced, but neither is it summat that I'm gonna get all fazed about. --Technopat (talk) 18:44, 23 April 2013 (CDT)

Out o' synch.[edit]

Greetings, Oh Boffins.

It's just caught my attensh. that there is a problem of synchronising our clocks here, obviously a major setback if we intend to go ahead with my our plan to take over the world. As you can see here, there's a major difference between the time recorded in the article's revision history (which just happens to coincides with my local time) and the time recorded when signing (CDT, a 7-hour diff.). Is there a simple solution to this? I just checked in [my] Preferences and there doesn't seem to be any option (other than selecting the time zone) as the Server time and Local time are fixed, and neither of which coincide with that there CDT. Regs., --Technopat (talk) 10:06, 16 April 2013 (CDT)

Central Daylight Time (CDT) is 5 hours behind (less than) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Our Teflpedia server, in Texas, is on CDT in the spring and summer and on Central Standard Time (CST) in the fall and winter, approximately. Not sure about the rest, but will take your word for it. Has it caused a problem? --Roger (talk) 13:24, 16 April 2013 (CDT)
Problem? Not really. Just curiosity 'cos I wasn't sure if Bob's reply on the discussion page was made before or after my edit on the article page. It was, in fact, after but not according to the times recorded :) A beautiful example of how reality can be distorted. And the evidence manipulated.... Your alibi just doesn't hold, Professor Plum. According to our computer records, you had plenty of time bop Colonel Mustard one on the 'ead with that there candelabra. Regs., --Technopat (talk) 00:49, 17 April 2013 (CDT)

Second opinion...[edit]

Greetings all you grammar chappies out there. Just in case you missed it, could you check out this link and take whatever action needed? Cheers! --Technopat (talk) 18:34, 23 April 2013 (CDT)

Main page/stubs[edit]

Greetings All. I just thought that there's currently no direct way of knowing how "satisfied" a reader is with any given page (Wikipedia has a dedicated template to that end, but I reckon that's out of the question here, for the time being, at least), but it might be interesting to link the stub category on the Main page and "invite" would-be editors to check out the short articles listed there. They might just feel, let's say, qualified, to contribute to something that's there, expanding it or improving it, as opposed to just reading through an article they think is pretty much complete, entertaining or whatever.... Cheers! --Technopat (talk) 07:23, 27 April 2013 (CDT)

Why not? Go for it. --Roger (talk) 22:57, 29 April 2013 (CDT)

Maverick Admin[edit]

Today I change "Discussion" tab label back to "Talk" on Teflpedia. It was "Talk" since the beginning of time, and has been reinstated as "Talk" at en.Wikipedia for over a year now, and at Rationalwiki for good heavens almost since forever I guess (for a bit of amusement, walk Rationalwiki's MediaWiki:Talk page diffs by clicking the "Newer revision→" links there, but for exhaustive discussion of why "Talk" makes more sense see this en.Wikipedia talk page archive. So, am I out of line? Do you guys want to discuss all that here, too? If so, let the keyboards rattle. I'm working on the principle of act first, ask forgiveness later. Anyway, what do you guys think? Do you like this rustic return to the basics in the mediawiki:talk value (displayed in the "Talk" tab)? Better rein me in now or I might put a Godzilla image on the Main Page next 8-(). ;) No, I wouldn't do that, would I? Roger (talk) 13:19, 13 May 2013 (CDT)

I've got no problem with "talk".--Bob M (talk) 01:15, 14 May 2013 (CDT)

Needs attensh.[edit]

Greetings All. Just back in from well-earned hols., and reviewing random pages (BTW, great stats!) came across a wee hiccough (that's probably hiccup for our friendly neighbourhood Maverick Admin) which, in turn, raised another little thingey that needs looking into.

While checking out How do I find stuff on Teflpedia? (Guide for newcomers) which, BTW, needs to be tweaked so the titles in sidebar and article page concur (and while that's being done, it might be a good idea to add (FAQs) after the title on the sidebar) I noticed that the search funtion in b) is no longer active (seem to remember this being mentioned at some stage) and while I was trying to hide that bit from view, pending confirmation from y'all over at this page, I discovered that the <noinclude>+</noinclude> function doesn't work, either. Just thought I'd give y'all summat to do and not let y'all squash yer laurels from too much sitting around. Regs., --Technopat (talk) 05:06, 6 September 2013 (CDT)

Huh? "<noinclude>+</noinclude>" only works in templates. To hide something from view in regular text, use HTML comment tags, <!-- like this -->. But please use those sparingly. Hiding stuff only sweeps in under the rug. Roger (talk) 14:51, 6 September 2013 (CDT)

OK, so I've been bold and tweaked the FAQs bit I mentioned above, but that search thingey still needs looking into, as does that "noinclude" thingey. --Technopat (talk) 05:30, 6 September 2013 (CDT)
I deleted that 'How do I find stuff on Teflpedia?' section from the FAQ. Go on, put it back if you want it. But honesty, I think deleting it is the best fix, because the basic site "stuff" like "finding stuff" needs to just work without reference to the FAQ. Do we really want to engage in telling folks how to use the 'Search' box and the site left nave bar? It should just work. You mean it doesn't? Argggg (next section). Roger (talk) 14:16, 6 September 2013 (CDT)


(Pat, thanks for bringing this up)


The Search box (top right) takes you to an article instead of to search results when we happen to have an article that exactly matches your search term--searching for "writing" takes you directly to the Writing page instead of showing you search results. This is broken behavior because that page is not necessarily the page you want. You might want one of our other pages that contain the work "writing". This "Go" feature got into the software because it, presumably, was deemed useful on Wikipedia which is the dominant force guiding the features in the MediaWiki software. I think this "Go" feature is not good for Teflpedia. We have lots of pages that someone searching "writing" may want and the Search feature should help him find them, simply and without confusion.


This is the way it is done on Wikipedia and Rationalwiki. I think it actually works. Nothing stays the same on the Web forever. Sometimes we find ourselves relearning how to do something because it has changed, me included...

Note the drop down search suggestions that appear as you type your search terms into the top right search box. Those drop down suggestions are generated from a list of our page titles, not from page texts. The idea is to skip the search results page and take you directly to an article page. So,

  • To go directly to a page listed in the search box drop down list,
    click on the page in the drop down list that you want to go to.
  • To see a search results page, either
    (a) type more search terms into the box till none of our page titles exactly matches your search, or
    (b) click the last item in the search box drop down menu, the one that has the label 'Search our pages for:' above it.

I hadn't realized that last item was there in the drop down search suggestions cuz I hadn't been looking, but it is. :-) It was previously labeled 'containing...' which didn't mean much to me. So I have changed it to 'Search our pages for:' instead. I'd like to put a 'Go to page:' label above the other choices, to make it clear that is what they do, but I haven't figured out how to. And folks will figure it out. Roger (talk) 22:37, 8 September 2013 (CDT)

IPA symbols[edit]

I think that articles such as IPA phonetic symbol (vowel) /u:/ should be renamed for several reasons.

My proposition: rename IPA phonetic symbol (vowel) /u:/ to "IPA phoneme /u:/". Ghoti (talk) 15:10, 1 November 2013 (CDT)

I'm fairly relaxed about the matter, but I've had little or nothing to do with most of the phonetics articles. It would probably be best to wait for an opinion from User:Technopat before making wholesale changes though as he is responsible for most of them.--Bob M (talk) 15:31, 1 November 2013 (CDT)
Greetings all. Fine by me. I seem to remember the issue of whether to use "phonemic" or "phonetic" being raised somewhere, at some time, but obviously nothing came of it. My only concern is/was for easy to find/consult article titles for teachers and students alike. By including that simplistic "vowel" or "consonant" in the title I reckoned it would be faster and/or easier to jump to another article page that might tie in nicely with a particular pronunciain aspect, especially when checking out the corresponding category page.
Regarding your intention to write "proper" articles on each symbol, maybe we could find some efficient/effective way of differentiating such articles from the existing pages (which are merely pronunciation word listṣ). In other words, with the IPA phonetic symbol [e] article you mention above, maybe we could also have an associated page called IPA phonetic symbol 〚e〛(word list). Either way, I'm easy on this, and am unlikely to veto anything :) Cheers! Technopat (talk) 06:37, 5 November 2013 (CDT)
Then I would suggest that you go right ahead Ghoti.-- 10:23, 5 November 2013 (CST)
I think that phonemes are actually list of words, so I would leave the articles as they are. Sounds, on the other hand are a bit more complicated. A teacher can easily explain, in his or her own accent, the difference between /e/ and /eɪ/ just pronouncing dress and face. If a student wants to know the difference between [ɛ] and [e] then the teacher must be aware of his or her own pronunciation, or know German or French. On the other hand, it's impossible to have a word list for [e] because [e] is the sound only some people produce. Wordlists are for phonemes, descriptions are for sounds.
With respect to "(vowel)" or "(consonant)" I'm glad to know it was for use in Category:IPA phonetic symbols. Articles can be sorted within categories using wikitricks, which I plan to use. See how now /ð/ is just before /dʒ/ and /ʊ/ just below /u:/. Regards Ghoti (talk) 12:22, 5 November 2013 (CST)

I renamed Category:IPA phonetic symbol (consonants) to Category:consonant phonemes. Now in Category:IPA phonetic symbols the alphabetical order is consonants in C and vowels in V. Ghoti (talk) 16:19, 5 November 2013 (CST)

I renamed Category:IPA phonetic symbol (vowels) to Category:Vowel phonemes (it only had two pages). I added all the vowel phonemes to the category. Please tell me what you think about the alphabetical order, which is not standard (same for Category:consonant phonemes). Ghoti (talk) 12:28, 6 November 2013 (CST)

I created IPA phoneme /b/ and IPA phoneme /d/, so you can see how Category:IPA phonetic symbols will look. I plan to do the renaming of IPA phonetic symbol (vowel) /u:/ et al. Ghoti (talk) 12:59, 6 November 2013 (CST)

I renamed all pages like IPA phonetic symbol (vowel) /ə/ to IPA phoneme /ə/ both for consonants and vowels. I replaced normal colons by triangular colons in long vowels. Ghoti (talk) 09:00, 11 November 2013 (CST)

UTC vs CST[edit]

I see that old timestamps are in UTC[1] and now they are in CST[2]/CDT[3]. Could we return to the more international version? Ghoti (talk) 13:43, 13 November 2013 (CST)

Yes, we can change back. We just need to figure out how. The CST/CST time is our server time. It is a shared web host in Texas that we moved to a while back. I don't know how to change the time setting. I'll look into it. Roger (talk) 18:14, 20 November 2013 (CST)
This method has been confirmed by multiple users in situations where the primary method has not worked.
Thanks for your effort. I wouldn't have imagined it was such a pain. Let's hope the primary method works. Now I realize the change from UTC to CST/CDT probably wasn't intentional. Having a different hour from your own is not that bad. The problem is the summer time (aka DST), that happens in unexpected dates. Ghoti (talk) 19:00, 20 November 2013 (CST)
Okay, I just now put '$wgLocaltimezone = "UTC"' in LocalSettings.php. Please let me know if this is better or if it causes any trouble. Roger (talk) 03:32, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
It works very well. Thanks. Ghoti (talk) 04:41, 21 November 2013 (UTC)


I added phonetic symbols to MediaWiki:Edittools. Ghoti (talk) 12:24, 14 November 2013 (CST)