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Forum Talk:Technical Issues/Archive 1

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Technical Issues
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Discussion area for all technical issues, including non-content templates, server issues and extensions (bug reports/outages: this group)

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Managing Editor Decision regarding technical problems

The Managing Editor authorizes the Technical Staff to investigate and implement alternative less costly U.S. hosting, that would also include the restoration of e-mail inboxes and other services. -Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 00:13, 5 June 2016 (UTC)

Help test new server setup

Citizendium is now hosted by a newer less expensive server, and so the server expenses for 2014 December and later should now be $100/month rather than several times that.

Everything of value seems to have been copied from the older servers as an archive on the newer one so we shouldn't lose that when the old machines disappear within the next week.

The new server still needs substantial setup work done before before every service or feature that worked before works again.

In the meantime, the main wiki (which you are reading now) has been the priority to keep in continuous operation.

The main wiki is running under the latest MediaWiki, 1.24.0, and newer versions of some other dependencies.

The main wiki also makes use of a number of extensions plus customizations, and some of these have been updated too while others have yet to be updated for compatibility and so some sections of the wiki may be broken as a result; these are expected to be fixed over time but there is no schedule.

Currently @citizendium.org emails are not working, including constables; this is expected to be fixed sooner but also there is no schedule.

The readonly Simple Machines forums are not running right now but should come up later; meanwhile newer discussion was already changed several months ago to happen on the wiki or a Google group instead.

Citizendium should be treated like a beta for now; you can go ahead and try using the main wiki like normal, but some parts are known broken and other parts may also be broken; please go easy for now.

If you find any serious problems then please report them at http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Forum_Talk:Technical_Issues so they can be triaged and fixed at the earliest.

You should assume that anything you do on the wiki will stick, so treat it as anything you are doing is for real.

Backups are still largely manual at the moment so keep in mind that recent changes might be lost if something bad happens and we have to restore; this is unlikely, but remember your work in case you might have to repeat it.

These are some known differences or issues at this time:

  • The wiki is slower than usual right now. Some work likely needs to be done with its configuration e.g. related to caching or something but traffic may also be a factor.
  • Creating new wiki users is broken or disabled right now; making the constables@ email work is a precondition to fixing this I think, another reason for that to be an outstanding priority; existing users can login though.
  • It sounds like creating new articles is currently broken.
  • A number of MediaWiki extensions probably need updating or fixing in order to resolve certain problems. MediaWiki itself was updated to the latest version and some extensions have been updated too, others are pending.
  • There is an outstanding mystery to resolve regarding the report under title Tracking below.
  • The Citizendium custom skin isn't installed yet so things look more like vanilla MediaWiki.
  • The orange heading bar doesn't appear on all pages as it usually does.

Issues reported by others on this page may still exist.

Darren Duncan (talk) 23:25, 15 December 2014 (UTC)


New server experience (comment, not issue)

My experience of using the new server is that so far, if anything it seems to be a faster and smoother experience than on the old servers. I'm not sure if use of the default Vector skin rather than CZ's own Pinkwich version has anything to do with this, or whether it's because we are now on MediaWiki 1.24, or some other reason. But all good so far. John Stephenson (talk) 11:53, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

No problem with an edit. The tools at the top of the editing area seem to have changed, but that may just be me. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 21:22, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Problem (metadata)

At the moment it is not possible to test starting a new article on the new website. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 21:08, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

I started a new article by using the quick start process and then doing the metadata. However, the metadata form did not materialise. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 21:53, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm having the same issue with a new test article Anny Kohli. Its Metadata form link is either incomplete or not working, instead I'm facing a wall of warning banners, which want me to create and code edit the No_metadata_template. A big no no IMHO. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 11:34, 9 December 2014 (UTC).
The Special:MetadataForm page definitely isn't working, but the templates on a metadata-less article work for me. I can hit 'show' and see a link to manually "Create the metadata template". John Stephenson (talk) 11:46, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I created a metadata page without using the special metadata page, but then it did not appear. Now the article shows that it has a metadata page, but the link goes to a blank page. This blank page needs to be deleted so that it can eventually be replaced(Uganda Railway). --Martin Wyatt (talk) 19:34, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
It is displaying the correct categories on the main article, but the actual /Metadata subpage appears blank. It might come back under future adjustments. Unfortunately, at the moment I can't delete anything. John Stephenson (talk) 21:48, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

I'm back on CZ after a many-month hiatus and I just created a new article on Ellen Gates Starr with the quick start process and the metadata page. I'm pleased to report that very thing worked very smoothly. Roger A. Lohmann (talk) 22:06, 12 January 2016 (UTC)

Speed Issues

yesterday the site was painfully slow, 3-5 minutes to load a page while the servers shuttled between the old and -dev sites. Today its a little better, 1 minute to load a page. Hopefully its a DNS problem which it will sort itself out with propagation. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 08:08, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

- While DNS affected things last night, the main outstanding issue is the server is getting heavy traffic such as search spiders or something, and some config to help speed is pending.

@DD, check out WIKIPEDIA robots.txt for ideas.If spiders don't behave block them with .htaccess. It took 2 minutes for this edit section to load for me. I'm off to test create an article from scratch to see how it ports. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 10:46, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
The site's speed performance is steadily slowing down. Random speedtest sites show anywhere from 3 to 20 seconds for a page load. Perhaps log files need to be cleared out or specific IPs blocked. There is also an issue that the CSS and script files being loaded at run time are 3 times the size of their Wikipedia counterparts. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 17:14, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, painfully slow. Ro Thorpe (talk) 03:04, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

New to the project.. but so far the new setup seems extremely slow. I am a system administrator/DBA so if anyone could point me in the right direction I could assist.

Have we looked into using CloudFlare (http://cloudflare)? Even their free account is pretty decent. Is there a page with info about the new setup? Stack (I guess Lamp.. which OS, which web server Apache/Nginx)? specs on hardware (virtual VM, physical)? Francisco Reyes (talk) March 21, 2015

There's the Version page; otherwise someone more technically-minded can help. John Stephenson (talk) 19:48, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks John that is useful to know. Would still be nice to also include on that page the underlying infrastructure (or somewhere else). Info like PHP version, whether we use any PHP compilers, apache/Nginx.. I make a living, mostly, as Postgres DBA/Sysadmin.. so can certainly help on that part for sure. 9.4 is out and they already reached 9.4.1 so that may something to consider. I also did whois of the IP and seems we are using steadfast.net.. VPS/Physical? SSDs? Francisco Reyes (talk) 20:04, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Tracking

Calls are being made to "adnxs.com" and "scorecardresearch.com" while loading pages. Is this emanating from MW or from the "addthis" widget ? page load waterfall Pradyumna Singh (talk) 11:11, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

'Random Page' link

The random page link is back on the default, i.e. any page. We previously had it set to exclude /subpages, stubs (status 3) and external articles (4). John Stephenson (talk) 11:51, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Page deletion not possible

At the moment, I get an error if I try to delete any page: A database query error has occurred. This may indicate a bug in the software. John Stephenson (talk) 21:48, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks! John Stephenson (talk) 00:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Category

Categories are not accessible if you click on them. I get a blank page Pradyumna Singh (talk) 09:44, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

  • Seems to be a problem with the CategoryTree extension. I have disabled it for now, so categories should be viewable again. Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 23:20, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
  • A newer version of CagtegoryTree is now installed and enabled. Please report back if it breaks normal Category navigation again. Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 03:05, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

DEV site

The dev site is now a redirect to CZ. But it was indexed by the engines, and I suppose there is a feeding frenzy by their agents to index the dev site, by re-indexing CZ. As CZ is back to its canonical state [is it ??], I suggest that an Error 301 is placed on the dev site immediately and or it is DISASSOCIATED from CZ. Not doing so may incur stiff SEO penalties by CZ.

Also, bad spiders and bots MUST be SWIFTLY blocked by robots.txt and other means eg. How to keep bad robots, spiders and web crawlers away.

Another thing, poorly configured MW installations generate multiple server request loops, which often seem like DDOS attacks. Server log analysis would be useful.Pradyumna Singh (talk) 10:00, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Pradyumna Singh, it seems like we should have a more direct talk in private, as you seem savvy. Please send me a direct email right away, where we can continue discussion. If you don't know my address, do a Google search on my name and it should be obvious in the first page of results; I won't be posting my address on the wiki. Darren Duncan (talk) 11:03, 10 December 2014 (UTC) Also, there has been a robots.txt since Sunday night or so, it was copied from the old server; see http://en.citizendium.org/robots.txt .

As of Monday night, en.citizendium.org is the canonical domain, same as it was on the old server, and currently requests to any other domain will 302 redirect to it. I assumed a 302 would not cause any short term SEO changes, while a 301 would.

Since en.citizendium.org has always been up, aside from an hour or a minute here or there, and there was never any auto-redirect of requests from en.citizendium.org to any other domain, I would expect its SEO rankings to be unaffected. As to citizendium-dev.org, that was always a separate copy and even if it was indexed there shouldn't be any SEO effects, unless duplication does that. I could change citizendium-dev.org to return forbidden errors or do you mean something else about disassociation? I had made it redirect for now because some external announcements linked to the domain.

Also, citizendium.org used to redirect to en.citizendium.org but I don't recall the exact mechanism or if a clone of the site had lived there for some reason, so for now I made that 302 as well to buy time.

Currently all other domains like the simple machines forum domain also 302 to en.citizendium.org until those are restored. Or alternately those could be made to return forbidden errors instead.

What do you suggest for action that would do best from an SEO perspective? And email me. Note, my timezone is UTC-8/PT.

Wikipedia checkbox and link

The box on the edit page that is ticked to indicate Wikipedia source material and the "Some content on this page..." note are missing. John Stephenson (talk) 00:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Redirects from "www.citizendium.org"

@DD, the redirect from "www" is adding an extra '/' and generating 404s from "en." eg. "www.citizendium.org/oneyearandthriving.html" --> "http://en.citizendium.org//oneyearandthriving.html". This content is published on "www." and not on "en.cz" Pradyumna Singh (talk) 10:11, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

Mailbox inaccessible

The mail.citizendium.org server is not responding (checked by Matt and I), so we can't read anything sent to constables@. Mail isn't bouncing, though, so presumably it's still being saved. John Stephenson (talk) 11:28, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

The new server is not setup for receiving email yet as far as I know, so I would expect that email sent to anything @ citizendium.org would be failing right now. As far as I know constables@ is the main one that needs to work but I don't know yet about others. John, see your email where I have further questions for you etc about email setup. Darren Duncan (talk) 23:36, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
It's bouncing now. John Stephenson (talk) 12:47, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Is the mailbox working now ? Pradyumna Singh (talk) 06:40, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
None of the citizendium.org addresses are currently working. John Stephenson (talk) 00:34, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

Preferences

These, or some of them, seem to have changed. Presumably reset to default. I noticed the system adding any page I edited to my watchlist, and had to go to my preferences to change. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:59, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Categories

These seem to be listing things in an odd way. When the metadata for an article specify it should be alphabetized other than under its first word, the category pages do that but add a new heading:

S

Saxophone

J

John Smith

sort of thing (I haven't tried to analyse the exact pattern). Peter Jackson (talk) 11:13, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

OK. In Category:Religion Authors I see headings A M O D S F J L I R Z Y E P N G B H K C U W A D M F J W C L K V R G H B P N E Y I T S H T F A C S N O D M J L Y B R E P K W V Z. Peter Jackson (talk) 14:17, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
Wow, that was a mess. I ran the updateCollation script and it seems to have at least fixed that page. Not sure yet about newly categorized pages. Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 21:38, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I'm still seeing the same mess. Might it depend which browser (and/or server?)? Or could both the computer systems I've tried be using cached versions of that page but not this one? Peter Jackson (talk) 17:00, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Yes, must be cached for you, I just reloaded the page and it is all A-Z for me. Try the shift-reload trick (hold the shift button while clicking reload - works on most browsers). Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 18:52, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Subpages template issue

I find that if I try to create a /Definition subpage for an article by clicking on the red link in the banner supplied via the {{subpages}} template, instructions but not the template itself appear in the edit window. When you click the link you're supposed to get <noinclude>{{subpages}}</noinclude> at the top of the edit window, but instead there is a blank line. The instructions appear as normal below. However, if I go to to the def preload template, the subpages line appears. This does not occur with any other red links on the banner. Test by going to e.g. Talk:1876th Communications Squadron and clicking the red links. John Stephenson (talk) 14:38, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Another issue with the same template: it registers an error for any page deeper than one subpage, e.g. anything under ARTICLENAME/Catalogs/SUBPAGENAME is wrongly registered as an article without metadata. There are now hundreds of subpages registered at Category:False Start Move as a result. John Stephenson (talk) 17:28, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

As this may be difficult to fix, I have created the ReturnToSubpages template as an alternative to {{subpages}}. An example is at A Christmas Carol/Catalogs/Actors who have played Ebenezer Scrooge.
Don't try to add metadata for sub-subpages, as the subpages template wrongly demands - you will only create useless pages and more error messages elsewhere. Metadata pages are for main articles only. John Stephenson (talk) 21:33, 1 August 2015 (UTC)

HTML markup pre-processor issue

HTML markup doesn't seem to be recognised consistently eg:

Pradyumna Singh (talk) 03:27, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Equations using <math> are not type set

I happened to check an old article I wrote for CZ: Diabatic transformation. All tags <math> are non-functioning. I checked Maxwell equations: same thing. I suggest that the constable on duty either removes the articles that contain <math> or fix its function. As it is now it is a mess that reflects poorly on CZ. --Paul Wormer (talk) 08:36, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

No need for such drastic steps. All it requires is a MediaWiki extension to be reinstalled. Probably Extension:Math or some similar TeX er. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 09:02, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
If somebody can access the old 1.16 folders and checkout "LocalSettings.php" and the contents of the /extension folder, possibly some more of these will tumble out like Ex:Category Tree. BTW, this extension is essential nowadays. The <meta "copyright"> tag is also outputting GFL-1.3+ for articles instead of CC-BY-SA-3.0. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 09:11, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Equations in the few articles I checked using an iPad are not translated. For example Feedback, Step response, and Centrifugal force. John R. Brews (talk) 17:49, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
No progress as yet in getting math typeset. John R. Brews (talk) 15:24, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
This problem persists. For example,
is not typeset. Greg Sabino was contacted about this issue twice, but apparently cannot resolve it. John R. Brews (talk) 16:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
A motion has been passed to look into this matter. See http://en.citizendium.org/wiki?title=CZ_Talk:Council_Discussions&diff=prev&oldid=100847705 John R. Brews (talk) 01:45, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
No action yet taken. John R. Brews (talk) 01:01, 2 August 2015 (UTC)

Typo in site notice

Could someone who has access please correct setup (noun) to set up (verb) in the site notice at the top of every page? Thanks. Ro Thorpe (talk) 01:25, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Still waiting for this. It looks very bad. Ro Thorpe (talk) 03:03, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Many thanks to John for fixing it. Ro Thorpe (talk) 01:17, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Bug in Special:Watchlist

Articles for Approval This special page is supposed to include a link at the top directing users to articles which are in the process of being approved but instead it shows the code: Nominated for Approval: <categorytree mode="all" hideprefix=always hideroot=on>ApprovalCall</categorytree> . Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 06:14, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

I had reported this 10 days ago. It needs a MediaWiki extension to be reinstalled. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 13:44, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Robots.txt

This file, which tells search engines what not to index, doesn't seem to be working - I've found many User: and User_talk: pages listed and cached in Google search results. We have a policy that these not be indexed. John Stephenson (talk) 18:48, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Per Google, "robots.txt" is not a 100% solution. If Google finds external links point to any page, it will index them ignoring robots.txt. The user pages showing up in G-search are explicitly banned by "Disallow: /wiki/User:" in the robots.txt !! The solution here is to set up a Google Webmaster Tools a/c to debug it / remove *URLs from the index Pradyumna Singh (talk) 19:14, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
Shouldn't there be User-agent: * above the long list of disallows..? At any rate, this is also a priority since if Google etc. are spidering everything, that could be why the wiki is currently slow. John Stephenson (talk) 00:29, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
Darren has adjusted the robots.txt file. If we've got it right, Google will start to strip disallowed pages out of its index. How long this will take we don't know. John Stephenson (talk) 12:17, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Emerging technology trends for the 'pedias

Must read this - Wikimedia Metrics Dec. 2014 makes 2 trends clear - a) MOBILE, MOBILE & MOBILE b) Massive reader shift to the Global South - especially India - driven by mobile. Other trends are importance of 'structured data', and WMF sliding in Latin America, and Google downgrading Wikipedia by 38%. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 19:38, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Not sure how serious this is...

I wrote a python program to help me figure out how many unique articles I started here. Its input was the output of successive pages from my contribution history.

I found that the Capital "N" that marks a brand new article wasn't marking any of the oldest articles I started, from September 2008...

Yes, this would be a trivial bug, if I haven't made a mistake in my reporting, so I report it only in case it is a manifestation of a larger hiccup.

Details follow:

  • I always use "first draft" as the edit summaries of my first drafts.
  • My python program used two regular expressions to find just the programs, and no talk pages or other subpages. """ N (?P<fname>[^/]+) +.first draft."""

Cheers! George Swan (talk) 20:35, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Footnote templates?

See Talk:English spellings#Morgellons. Peter Jackson (talk) 17:21, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

pdf links

Anyone know the right way to do these? I've just tried putting one in 2015 United Kingdom general election#Results by putting http:// before the address shown at top left, but it doesn't work. Peter Jackson (talk) 14:52, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Peter: Here is an example that works. It consists of [ "http:// address" "blank space" "title" ] What is it like to be a bat? John R. Brews (talk) 15:23, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Not directly helpful. I notice it gives five layers of address before the actual title to be found at top left, so no doubt something of the sort needs to be added to the one I was trying to put in. But how does one find out what that should be? Peter Jackson (talk) 08:53, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Now found a way: hover over an existing link to the pdf and copy out using pen(cil) and paper the (extremely long) URL visible at the bottom of the screen. There really ought to be an easier way. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:56, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Sidebar and templates not loading

The MediaWiki sidebar on the left of every page sometimes doesn't load, instead defaulting to the basic links. This happens whether logged in or out and regardless of what browser I use. When it occurs, only 'Main page' to 'Help' and the Tools menu are visible. I've also encountered a problem where a template gets edited but it doesn't update on the pages where it's used - caching issue? Thanks. John Stephenson (talk) 16:58, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

I sometimes get a perhaps related phenomenon recently: en.citizendium.org/wiki/Welcome_to_Citizendium has the full sidebar, but en.citizendium.org displays a version of the same page with only truncated sidebar. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:38, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Subpage problem

In Victorian Literature, I created a new subpage, Catalogs, which was not there before. This has now appeared twice in the subpage bar. I have not looked to see whether they both have the same content, because with everything running so slow (again) it would take me too long. For the same reason I am not going to check this before saving it. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 15:36, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

/Timelines and /Catalogs links appear automatically when the pages are created; adding them under 'sub1' etc. in the Metadata page just produces duplicate links in the article's navigation bar. The 'sub' entries are for identifying subpages with unique or unrecognised titles, e.g. you decide you want a subpage called /Parody - that won't show up unless you add it to the Metadata page. The problem is knowing which subpage titles will just pop up, and which have to be defined in the metadata. There's a list of recognised titles under 'Unused subpages' at the top of the Talk page. Not at all obvious, but there you go. And yes, the server is very slow today. John Stephenson (talk) 15:53, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Language variants

I don't know whether this is anything to do with CZ, or whether it's the computer system I'm working on. Whichever it is redlines British spellings and sometimes autocorrects them to American. If it's going to do that sort of thing at all, it should be to the variant set for the article in question. Peter Jackson (talk) 08:56, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

That's not caused by the MediaWiki software - it's far too primitive for that. :) John Stephenson (talk) 16:18, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Embedded videos no longer working

It used to be possible to embed videos from YouTube and other sites in wiki pages; however, this no longer works. See e.g. here. Can someone take a look? It seems to be a missing extension. Thanks. John Stephenson (talk) 17:10, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

Wiki backups

Thanks to Francisco Reyes for getting our backup system on-line. (See here for details.) To download copies of recent pages, use either of these links (70-90MB):

Go-slow

The site finally seems to be working properly again, after weeks of going extremely slowly, or not at all. No announcement about the problem was ever made either here or by the mailing list. The only mention I've seen was on RationalWiki. Before that, my only reason for concluding it wasn't just me was the low edit rate. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:54, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

Some oddities

1. Newly started articles are not getting listed under the appropriate Workgroup. I assume this should happen automatically when the Metadata page is completed.

2. If you click on any of the main subject areas shown on the home page, you don't get redirected to the article on that subject, or to the Workgroup, but to the /Related Articles page for the subject.

3. The Random Page function is still not working as it should.

--Martin Wyatt (talk) 21:26, 8 October 2017 (UTC)

Martin, I don't see problems with Special:Random--I chose it twice and got two different pages. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 04:01, 9 October 2017 (UTC)
I think it is only supposed to land on main pages, not sub-pages, and likewise it should not land on articles which are either stubs or without metadata. Mind you, it does show the number of small out-of-date articles floating round the system. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 13:26, 9 October 2017 (UTC)
You're right, and it was one of the things lost when the wiki was upgraded. It needs some change on the server settings that only the Tech Staff can carry out. For (1): I can see them in the lists. Maybe this is a caching issue and needs a while to come through. (The server is not the fastest.) (2): that's to the benefit of readers, rather than Authors. In my view, going to the article would be too specific, and going to the workgroup would be confusing, when Related Articles pages also list them and in a more user-friendly way (if someone's written them, that is.) John Stephenson (talk) 17:22, 9 October 2017 (UTC)

User rights

Greg has gone semi-active, which would have meant we'd lack anyone with 'Bureaucrat' privileges, so I asked him to add them to my account. (This is basically the same as 'sysop/administrator', plus the ability to change user rights and rename accounts on the wiki - it is nothing to do with the server setup itself, which I don't have access to). I propose the following:

  1. Remove all special privileges from inactive users;
  2. Remove everyone from the 'editor' user group (this is not what it sounds like - see here) and other inactive groups (I can't delete the groups themselves);
  3. Make members of the Approvals Committee administrators (this would allow them to delete/restore pages and view deleted ones);
  4. Make Francisco, our main active technical-type, a Bureaucrat as well.

Comments welcome. John Stephenson (talk) 13:42, 15 January 2018 (UTC)

All of the above suggestions sound reasonable to me. And practical. Hayford Peirce (talk) 21:28, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
Done. John Stephenson (talk) 16:11, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Let's hope that some of them pop up again! I know that Matt Innes showed up once or twice a couple of years in an unexpected fashion.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:15, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

Analytics

Are there any stats or tools available to examine which parts of the site get most traffic, how people discover content, and how they interact with it? Google analytics perhaps? Richard Nevell (talk) 21:56, 21 February 2018 (UTC)

The Privacy Policy states that the wiki uses Google Analytics, and furthermore there was a decision to use a Google Analytics account in 2010. I suspect it's no longer working, though. John Stephenson (talk) 20:37, 22 February 2018 (UTC)
I found this from 2014, I see if I can follow any of the leads. Richard Nevell (talk) 09:24, 24 February 2018 (UTC)
Joe doesn't have access, but suggested the Approvals Manager Google account may have been used to set up Google analytics. Does anyone know who has the log in details, or who followed Joe? Richard Nevell (talk) 14:54, 4 March 2018 (UTC)

Footer

The link to the blog in the footer visible on every page isn't working. Unless it's a temporary blip, perhaps it could be removed? Richard Nevell (talk) 09:28, 24 February 2018 (UTC)

Yes, please remove it. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 07:36, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

MediaWiki:Sitenotice

The site notice hasn't been updated since November 2016. Is the statement about setting up new servers still relevant and can someone with the necessary permissions remove the mention of elections from 2016? Richard Nevell (talk) 17:38, 27 February 2018 (UTC)

Is the server set up still considered beta or can this please be updated? Richard Nevell (talk) 19:49, 2 September 2018 (UTC)

Special:EmailUser

Is Special:EmailUser actually working? I've tried to use it on three separate occasions, and tick the box to send a copy to myself but I get a delivery failure message in my inbox instead. Error copied below:

This is the mail system at host ip162.208-117-36.static.steadfastdns.net.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster.

If you do so, please include this problem report. You can delete your own text from the attached returned message.

The said: 550 This message appears to be spam (score: 7.4) (in reply to end of DATA command)

Richard Nevell (talk) 14:44, 4 March 2018 (UTC)

It works fine for me. It looks like Steadfast itself rather than the wiki is rejecting your message as spam. Try another e-mail address? We've had problems with certain services before, especially Yahoo. John Stephenson (talk) 00:26, 5 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes, I seem to remember that happening to me once when I tried to register to vote in an election. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:13, 5 March 2018 (UTC)

Special:RequestAccount

Special:RequestAccount has a rather fetching red banner saying the form doesn't work because of the new server. Any chance the issue could be resolved or do something which looks less broken like sending people to a Google form to collect details? Richard Nevell (talk) 21:16, 2 September 2018 (UTC)

That would require making technical changes to the server, which I can't do. (Same applies to your query elsewhere about a mobile version of the site, as it would require an extension to be installed). Technical support is on a volunteer basis so there's no timetable. John Stephenson (talk) 16:21, 4 September 2018 (UTC)
Is there a volunteer dev we can ask to take a look? Richard Nevell (talk) 21:14, 4 September 2018 (UTC)

Templates

This is probably a problem with Wiki software generally, and maybe nothing can be done.

If a page has a template in it, there doesn't seem to be a link. You have to open the edit window, at which point you discover the template, and then copy the address and search for it. In the particular case I've just dealt with there was actually a further template nested inside the first one before I could actually update it.

Images don't seem to have this problem: you can click on something that will take you to the image page.

Or am I missing something? Peter Jackson (talk) 17:20, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

Security

I don't know who maintains the server that is "still being set up" but there is a permanent security warning in the address bar which every user can see. Is anyone aware of that and, more importantly, is anyone doing anything about it!?

As it happens, I'm here under an obsolete e-mail address so I'm not too concerned about the site's security but a message saying Not secure in red lettering doesn't exactly encourage newcomers.

Is there anybody there? John Leach (talk) 17:16, 15 November 2018 (UTC)

In answer to your last question, see #User rights. Peter Jackson (talk) 18:02, 15 November 2018 (UTC)

E-mail contact and mailing list archives

Unfortunately the citizendium-l announcement list no longer exists, which is a problem since we were using the list owner address as the main e-mail contact point (because we still don't have a citizendium.org e-mail inbox). Pending some fix, I have changed this to require people to join the non-member forum in order to contact us or apply to join. There is an archive of posts here. John Stephenson (talk) 21:10, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

So you have to join Google, then join the forum, then join us. Unfortunate, yes. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:19, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
Yes. We could just use a Gmail account, but that would open up the previous situation of lots of spam or incomplete applications that take an age to respond to. Possibly this route, for now, will reduce that. John Stephenson (talk) 11:20, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

Technical lead

CZ founder Larry Sanger has now stepped in as the project's technical lead. I'd like to personally thank Greg for his time in this position. John Stephenson (talk) 13:11, 26 January 2019 (UTC)


That's good to know. What does this mean and will he be available on this forum ? Pradyumna Singh (talk) 18:44, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

Moves

I tried moving Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia following ratification of the name change by editing the metadata template, but it just created a new page. Is there some way I can do this, or does it need someone with extra user rights? Peter Jackson (talk) 11:24, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

The fact that you created the page means that you now have to have someone with advanced user rights overwrite the blank North Macedonia with the actual content in Republic of Macedonia. I am moving the subpages now. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 17:56, 14 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks. Maybe I shouldn't try that again. Then again, messing things up like that might be the only way to get anyone to take any notice of move suggestions! I pointed out that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is neither her official title nor what the media call her, it's just her Wikipedia name, and nobody replied. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:33, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, the problem is that this is a dead project and it's got no prospects of being otherwise. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 09:56, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, if you think so, then it's good of you to help out anyway. You may well be right, of course. As I've already said elsewhere, I think the best we can achieve in the near future is a modest number of articles better than their WP equivalents (if any). In some cases, they might simply use those to improve their own. In others, their ultra-strict definition of original research would prevent that. In others again, attempts to do so might be disrupted by propagandists. I'm keeping a look-out for new sites I might add to the three I work on at present. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:23, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
That's likely correct. Our best-case scenario is some very specific articles that are well-written and also free of some of the psuedoscience this project is known for having. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:22, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

To move pages, you go to the 'More' option at top-right and select 'Move' from the drop-down menu. You can move subpages at the same time. Going via the Metadata form will create new pages. John Stephenson (talk) 16:36, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

But that's not an option now, so an admin would have to intervene to overwrite. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:22, 16 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, John. As a Wikinfo admin I see a Move tab. Not seeing one here, I assumed moving was restricted to admins here too. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:38, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

Recent changes

Rationalwiki seems to be able to access an option I can't find displayed: [1]. I can't get anything past 30 days. Do they know something we don't, or do they just do it by hand? Peter Jackson (talk) 10:10, 8 June 2019 (UTC)

There's no link for some reason, but you can do it by altering the URL, e.g. http://en.citizendium.org/wiki?title=Special:RecentChanges&limit=5000&days=90 - I think 5000 is the maximum number of edits it will return. You can get the last six months by changing 90 to 180, etc. It doesn't do calendar months. John Stephenson (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2019 (UTC)

(As an aside, I note they don't seem able to count. We haven't finished the first six months of the year yet. On the substantive point they mention, is the last female edit here [http://en.citizendium.org/wiki?title=User_talk:John_Leach&diff=prev&oldid=100859240}?) Peter Jackson (talk) 10:13, 8 June 2019 (UTC)

Google Books & SEO

[2] (about halfway) seems to be saying that citing Google Books is very beneficial for search ranking. Anyone know anything about this? If it's true we might make use of it. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:38, 14 June 2019 (UTC)

Oldest pages

I found this under Special pages. They're nearly all subpages, which is odd, as you'd expect the main pages to be older. Peter Jackson (talk) 13:15, 15 September 2019 (UTC)

This report is just telling us the oldest pages since last revision. If you change Hudson River/Bibliography, it will no longer be at the top. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 17:48, 15 September 2019 (UTC)
And it had a few unnecessary spaces so, yes, it's gone. ;-) John (talk) 14:37, 16 September 2019 (UTC)

Active users

See [3]. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:24, 29 November 2019 (UTC)

Gives me an error message, as they say.

Nobody to take decisions. Maybe it'll just go by default when the money runs out in a couple of years. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:23, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

If you look at the financial report page you'll see that we're paying $99.95 per month for the service and there is someone who has an automatic payment of $5.00, so the net outflow is basically $94.95 per month. Our balance at the end of November was $2,150.84. so at that rate we have 22 and a half months left. BUT, as I recall, the bank where I deposit the funds charges $12 per month if the balance is under $1,500. So in about six months our monthly costs will be $106.95, which means the balance will be used up in less than 22 months overall -- I'll leave it to someone else to figure out the precise date. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:22, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
We should probably be more deliberate about winding down the project. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:14, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

According to RW again, the problem is [4]. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:22, 6 December 2019 (UTC)

Let's deliberately shut down

It's clear that Citizendium is simply not going to be a viable project as an encyclopedia. There is a monumental amount of work to make this a usable resource and there are virtually no active editors and the money has been dwindling for a long time. Whatever the intentions or best case scenarios, this has failed. I recommend we deliberately wrap up this project by exporting any useful content to Wikipedia, closing the wiki to editing, posting an archived copy to the Internet Archive and directing possible readers there, and use remaining funds to secure the domain name for a long time with some small hosting overhead for a single landing page. Thoughts? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 02:01, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable to me. It all depends on how active we have to be to post articles to WP. I am doing SOME of mine, but is anyone else? I'll definitely email Larry, however, and see if HE has a means of saving us -- just to salvage his OWN reputation. Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:08, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Larry has several failed projects. I don't think this will impact his reputation negatively. I respect him giving this a go but it's clearly not going to happen. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 03:26, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Any luck? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 09:03, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
Didn't hear back from him, but what with the Holidays, who knows? I write him again in just a moment. Hayford Peirce (talk) 15:30, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
I think that's worth doing and admirable but we should also have a contingency plan if he doesn't answer or have any way to make this site viable. For the very small audience who pay attention here: do we want to go out with a whimper or even more of a whimper? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 19:34, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
That's true, of course, and I agree with you. I just this moment sent another email to him. Let's give him a week to reply, and then decide what to do next. Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:36, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
It's been a week. The en.wp Signpost mentioned this thread. What do we want to do folks? Go out with a whimper or a bigger whimper? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 07:54, 1 February 2020 (UTC)
I just this moment came back to report that I haven't heard anything from Larry since sending him my second email on January 20th. I sent it to TWO different email addresses that I have for him -- one was returned with a "Failure to deliver" message but the other one apparently went through. So it looks as if Larry has washed his hands of this affair. As for what we do next, I don't know. I'll leave it for others to decide. But let's assume that we *did* shut it down, oh, six months from now. In that case there would be about $1,400 in the Treasury. What would happen to THAT money? A minor question, but a very specific one. Since *I'm* the Treasurer, I really ought to know! Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:18, 1 February 2020 (UTC)
That kind of says it all. That money could pay for domain name registration and hosting for several years. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 08:17, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
I'd say you should ideally consult the wishes of those who donated the money. Peter Jackson (talk) 13:46, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
I don't know how you could do the books on something like that. Right now, in the last year, there have been maybe TWO donations of $100. And a steady $5 donation every month from one person. And there was someone who stopped about six months ago who donated $20 every month for several years. And *I* donated $25 every month for MANY years. And Anthony Sebastian donated $100 a month for several years. And then one month about a year ago he donated $1,000! And then he died a couple of months later, I'm pretty sure. If you had ten CPAs, you'd have ten different ways of calculating the balance. And Anthony, who donated far more than anyone else, is gone. As the CPAs say, "First in, first out"? or they also say, "Last in, first out"? Etc. etc. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:18, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
Oftentimes, when you donate money, you give it away so that the recipient can best decide how to use it. The recipient is the community and I'm trying to get a consensus. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:02, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
As an occasional donor, I am not too bothered about the money. If CZ were based in Britain there would be a clear duty for those controlling the money (who I suppose are the remaining few of us, or just Hayford) to give it to an organisation with similar objectives.--Martin Wyatt (talk) 18:46, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
If everyone else here clearly came to a consensus as to what to do with the funds, I would follow that consensus, whether I agreed with it or not. Absent that, I suppose that as Treasurer it is up to me to make the necessary decisions. I *do*, however, agree with Martin that it clearly ought to go to an organization with similar objectives. But *which* organization would that be? I would be most reluctant to give it to Wikipedia, but that is, of course, the obvious one. Hayford Peirce (talk) 22:09, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
I suppose you might say, as we were set up specifically as an alternative to WP, "similar" might mean another alternative. Wikinfo and the English branch of Wikisage have maybe even lower activity levels. Not sure what's happening with Everipedia. Of course, the money wouldn't have to go to just one recipient. I think Martin's right about British law, but the relevant law here would presumably be the state where you and/or the bank account is/are located. (That is, I don't think CZ as an abstract organization was ever officially registered with any relevant authorities.) Peter Jackson (talk) 10:56, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
I, the Treasurer, am a legal resident of the State of Arizona, and the bank account I use is also in Arizona. However, it is in my name and not CZ's. Back when Larry organized CZ he apparently didn't bother to go to the trouble to register it as a non-profit organization or whatever else it might have been registered as. Several years later, after Larry had left, some of us looked into registering it. It was, as I recall, far more complicated (and expensive) than any of us had thought, so we just put it off until some future date. Which never eventuated. If I were to drop dead today (heaven forbid!) my will specifically directs my executor (Personal Representative) to close out the bank account with the CZ funds and to distribute them as CZ tells him to. That's the situation as it stands today -- and you can check the latest financial report to see how much money we have at the moment. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:27, 4 February 2020 (UTC)

Any further thoughts?

There were fourteen edits in the past month, including starting pages like Goods and Services. There is really no prospect of this project ever being a functional encyclopedia. It's okay to admit that. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 05:33, 20 June 2020 (UTC)

Right now we have $1,700 in the bank. Unless further donations come in, we will have two more months in which $100 are debited, then, when the balance slides below $1,500, the bank will start taking a $12 monthly service charge, so the monthly debit will be $112. That will allow another 13 months of operation. So, as things now stand, in 15 months we will simply shut down. I suggest that we try to find some way to SAVE all of the material that has so far been created before being thrown into the void. Any suggestions? Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:36, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
That puts a pretty fine point on it. I'd recommend this:
  1. Remove the notice for donations on Welcome to Citizendium immediately.
  2. Choose a final date for editing and then lock the wiki at that point. This can really be whenever we want but maybe November 1, since I believe that is the 15th anniversary.
  3. Put up a sitewide notice that the project is ending.
  4. On November 1, lock the wiki from editing and create a database dump that can be hosted at Internet Archive or possibly exported to another wiki farm.
  5. Around January 1, turn the domain citizendium.org into a notice that says, "Thanks but we're done. Find our work at [link to Internet Archive] and if you want to contribute to a wiki..." or whatever kinds of calls to action and appreciative language we'd like to draft.
  6. Allow whomever owns the disposition of assets like the trademark on the name "Citizendium" and ownership of the domain name to do whatever he wants with them. My guess would be this is Larry but he hasn't even been here in eight years and won't respond to emails, so I think they will just lapse.
If you want me to help with any of this, I'm happy to do it. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:49, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
All of the above sounds very reasonable to me, especially if someone else, such as YOU, hehe, is willing to do most of the work involved. Two questions arise: 1.) How shall we try to notify whoever else remains and get their input on it? 2.) What do we do with the remaining funds in the bank? I could easily abscond with them, of course, but I really don't think that I will. Thanks for any input! Hayford Peirce (talk) 21:20, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
For 1.) it would be nice if Special:ActiveUsers worked but since it doesn't, I looked at every person who has edited this year:
I'd recommend posting to all of their talk pages (minus us two) and directing them to this conversation and giving them a week to respond. As for 2.), I made some recommendations above. The money pays for domain name registration and hosting for a little while. Eventually, no one will support it and those will lapse. As far as how to do the things I suggested, some of the on-wiki work can be done by an admin (I'm not one but if you'll make me one, I'll do it), some of it will have to be done by someone with server access to change MediaWiki settings (e.g. locking the wiki or creating a database dump) and I'm willing to do that but I've never done it before, and some of it is totally external to the wiki (e.g. uploading to Internet Archive) and I'm willing to do those things that I can do. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 23:04, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Good suggestions -- I'll get to work on it. Perhaps someone else can make you administrator, I myself have no idea how to do it. There are, I think, I couple of other important individuals who are going to have to be brought into this who have not made EDITS this years, who who are not on the above list. They have worked behind the scenes (off and on) for years now, and know far more about all of the actual mechanics of CZ than I do. (Tony Muldane, does that name ring a bell? I will look through all of my personal email archives to see what I can come up with.) Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:26, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Any of these users could do it. John Stephenson is the only one recently active. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 23:32, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Yes, some of those are the ones I wuz thinking of. Thanks. I'll take another look at this tomorrow. Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:23, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
If you look at All Recent Changes,you will see that I have left brief messages on the Talk/Discussion pages of the 12 people that you listed who have either made recent edits or who are administrators. There are a couple of other old-timers that I will find in my email archives and to whom I will try to convey the same message. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:30, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
Have sent out an additional three or four emails, including a couple of people who have been important to the project. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:32, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
I haven't been an active editor here in many years (I probably got on your list when I blanked my user page). Citizendium was an interesting idea, but clearly hasn't worked out as planned. And, if finances are really as dire as mentioned, then this does seem like the best option. Joshua Sadule (talk) 19:02, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
It looks sensible (though most regrettable). Martin Wyatt (talk) 20:16, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
The entity CZ has lived on for 15 years, there should be attempts to keep it going as this is certainly a worthwhile effort, Hayford has managed the Financial side competently and kept it going thus far. I would suggest that the $100 per month which is required to keep it going be maintained in an individual account once the minimum balance threshold is reached for the CZ account, perhaps that could be Hayfords individual account and he could have a clear line of a list of succession for maintaining the financial monthly spend. By this I mean that the original founding members should be listed in a sequence after which more recent editors/atricle contributors who have an interest in keeping it going can be included. Since the requirement is only $100 per month - this could be raised from this core group and may be around $5 to $10 per month per head which may be manageable by most. In the meantime there should be an effort to further develop the addition of content, funding and readership by the core group and volunteers. There could be a brainstorming effort and co-ordination towards these ends. I would like to extend my best wishes and appreciation to all who contributed to developing CZ.--N Rajendra Raju (talk) 01:37, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Not really all that familiar with how to comment.. hope this is the right way.. There is something which I don't see mentioned and is the need for serious, extensive, need of technical work on this project. I am a system administrator and DBA and would gladly continue working on this, but what this project most needs is a developer. We don't even have https working and there are a number of other issues (old code base, parts of the site not working) which likely will be a lot of work. To try and get someone to work on all the technical debt with payment likely would be in the thousands... even if we got a developer in a country with significantly cheaper rate. And someone in US / Europe likely is not even an option. Therefore, given the lack of editors, the technical debt, the fact we don't have a developer volunteer.. not sure this can move forward. - Francisco
Ironically, I (who am a developer, programmer, sysadmin) am finally almost fully retired, enough that I probably could start working on CZ as a volunteer. However, I do not have Mediawiki experience, so it would be a learning curve. I do administer other wikis though (based on Pmwiki) so I'm pretty sure I could do it. I am okay with shutting down, though if we do, I'd very much like to acquire a copy of all the files on the system in case we want to restore it somewhere, someday. OTOH, there are some very nice articles on here, and I'd love to see it stay afloat somehow, in which case, I will donate some more money and time. Keep me posted on what you all decide.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:38, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
In fact, I just sent another $100 via Paypal to Hayford, which will add another month to the time we have either way.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:45, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Next, I'm going to go search my email archives. I *think* someone gave me admin rights to this wiki awhile back but I never had time to do anything. I might be able to now. I could at least look into the https issue and make sure I can at least get at the server. I am currently clueless about everything, who the hoster is, etc. Who has been doing sysadmin on this lately? (talk) 15:45, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I think we should probably just go out and try running a GoFundMe to raise enough money to keep CZ going for, say, 3 years. It's been the target of derision from folks over at WIkipedia--and I can understand some of that--but Wikipedia is so screwed up in its own right that I refuse to write anything there. CZ has been a thousand times better since we stopped trying to run it as a democracy and just kicked out some of the trouble makers who were exhausting everyone. If we don't want just to shut down, let's try to raise $$ for 2 or 3 years and relax.Pat Palmer (talk) 16:33, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Interesting thoughts, but the trouble as I see it is that we are now in a vicious downwards spiral: funds are drying up and one consequence is that editorial contributors have stopped creating articles, and then the almost total lack of activity leads to funding drying up. I myself stopped making my long-time monthly contributions after it seemed clear to me that we were in a death spiral. Without Anthony Sebastian, who died a year or so ago, we would have run out of funds long ago and already been shut down. More important to me than the $1700 we have in the bank, is the total lack of new members and writers. We're tried various strategies over the years to attract new members but none of them worked. (Remember an academic member who encouraged his/her students to join and write initial articles?) If we could start a *virtuous* circle of new members, new articles, and new funding, then I would be enthusiastically for it. But right now I'm very discouraged about it. I certainly thank Pat for the $100, and will apply it to the bank account as soon as I finish writing this, but right now I think we need writers more than anything else. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:12, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

[unindent] At a hundred bucks a month, I don't see really why we should shut down just now, though that may become an option soon. There is still interest out there (e.g. subscribers to the non-member forum). But no mistake, there is a mountain to climb. John Stephenson (talk) 17:30, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

Well, we certainly don't need to! And I'm glad to see that there are still optimistic souls around. Just to make my *own* contribution, I will bring in an article from Wikipedia about Ross Thomas that I have made many, many edits to in the last couple of months, and I may even feel inspired by this to start and flesh about a couple of articles about his individual books. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:52, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
What would people think of getting rid of the cumbersome business about approving articles? Could we just have articles again, not "Approved" articles? Simplicity is a virtue in this context. I've long valued CZ as a place where some of what I have written can be referenced, and it won't have been mangled beyond all recognition in the meantime, albeit mainly because we're such a small project.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:07, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
How would we differ from wikipedia at that point? Also, sadly, this would be yet another TODO in the long list of technical asks. Although perhaps may be just a config setting. In my mind, approvals / review is the differentiator for this project; without it, don't see why anyone would consider using it or volunteering their time. --Francisco Reyes (talk) 19:09, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I think we see it quite oppositely, and this discussion is probably too involved to go into much here, but Wikipedia is uselessly impossible for certain kinds of information. For example, the article on Buchenwald (town in Germany) is being trolled by town officials, who constantly and instantly remove any claims of connection to the horrendous death camp which is located like one mile from its town center. Here, using our real names, we would be unlikely to tolerate that kind of painting over of the facts. That's just one example. The very first edit I made in Wikipedia, years ago, was to show that white oak leaves are often pink in spring (I included a photo). It was removed immediately. I reposted several times; it was always removed, and I never could identify the person or their reasoning. Enough said. In the Computers workgroup here, IMO, none of the articles that were Approved ever should have been. Because they were incomplete. It is impossible to complete an article on computers, and freeze it in time, and have it be useful as a general reference, because things change so rapidly.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:18, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I was always baffled by the Approval process that Larry set up years ago, an incredibly Rube Goldberg-like system that even his original Chief Constable at the time was 100% baffled by. I spent an horrible two hours on the phone with her once trying to walk her through the process and even then she never really got it. As long as we had a large cadre of nerds and gearheads, so to speak, on call, it was doable. But probably NOT worth doing. Then after the great Exodus, it became simplified, yes. But even so. Right now I agree with Pat on this -- given our present resources, we should get rid of any future approval stuff. And may see if, one by one, slowly slowly, we can get right of the present Approvals and their concrete-like ways. As the years have gone by, WP is much less inflicted by the "vandals and cretins" that were my bane during my years there. I think Larry's system, IN THEORY, when first started, was fine -- but it was cumbersome then, almost impossible, in fact, and now it is completely outdated, like the computer articles that Pat mentions above. Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:36, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

Hello, I have had a small level of involvement with Citizendium since nearly the day it was founded, and particularly I have donated a large sum of money over the time to support the project, so I'm here today to weigh in. Darren Duncan 22 June 2020

  1. I fully agree that Citizendium has long since failed as a standalone encyclopedia project. Citizendium has lasted 15 years now, about 3/4 of the 20 years that Wikipedia has been around, which is something to be proud of in a sense, even if Citizendium has just been a zombie for most of that time.
  2. Its good to see that even the most ardent supporters seem to agree its time to formally put Citizendium to rest and shut it down as its own encyclopedia.
  3. I feel that the best thing to do now is salvage anything of value and copy it to where it would do the most good. Some of the existing funds can be used to maintain the existing server for a few months to help facilitate copying things in an orderly manner.
  4. I propose that any articles Citizendium has that are of value would be recreated on Wikipedia. Compare articles Citizendium has that have actually been maintained with their Wikipedia counterparts, and make edits to the Wikipedia versions to add in anything that is better about the Citizendium version. Sources that Citizendium cited are then used as the cited sources on Wikipedia for the edits. Anything that is genuinely better should not be challenged by other Wikipedia editors. If anything is challenged or reverted, the work you copied there will still live on in Wikipedia's edit history. Optionally content could be copied to other web resources, say if there's something Wikipedia wouldn't accept but others would.
  5. As for the money, I wholeheartedly endorse giving anything leftover to the Internet Archive. I feel that the Internet Archive is one of the most deserving of all nonprofits to be supported and they provide a huge amount of unique value, particularly their Wayback Machine of the web that goes back to 1996, 5 years older than Wikipedia. It is even more appropriate considering the proposals here that the Internet Archive hold a copy of Citizendium for posterity. Well they are a non-profit. I see no benefit of giving the Citizendium money to anything except the Internet Archive.
  6. Citizendium should immediately take down any appeals for more donations. Change the heading banner to say the site is winding down and any requests for help can be directed at physical labour to migrate any content of value to other sites.
  7. I strongly oppose any efforts to solicit more funds or anything else to try and revive Citizendium in its own form as some have suggested. There is no benefit to this.
Very interesting suggestions, and many thanks for them. I had really never paid any attention to the Internet Archive. From what you say, it is a MOST worthy place to send any leftover funds to. But first, of course, we have to reach a consensus of what to do: Wind down? Or stay the course? And HOW will we ever decide WHICH is the appropriate action? Listen to he/she who shouts the loudest, or what? Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:31, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
There is no need for a consensus at all, though it would be nice. What gets done is what whomever actually takes action does. Those who agree with my proposal and actually take action to copy anything useful from Citizendium to Wikipedia or other appropriate places will have accomplished something helpful. This site will soon run out of money and die either way. If no one copies anything out before that happen, it will mean no one considered that anything was worth preserving. Darren Duncan 23 June 2020
As I've said before, as of this moment we have enough funds for another 15 months of operation. You suggest we use that time to move worthwhile articles over to Wikipedia. As far as I know, all, or at least MOST, of the articles I originated here I have ported over to WP in one form or another. Some of them have been left pretty much alone, others have been hacked around by the usual vandals and cretins but not at much as they would have been 15 years ago. I suppose there are thousands of articles here that could be profitably moved to WP, but WHO is going to do it? I only have so much energy, and it wanes every day. Also, MOST of the articles we have here already EXIST at WP in one form or other. It is going to take a LOT of energy to bring a CZ article on, say Magnetism and port it over to WP and then engage in edit wars for the next month with Wikipedians to reconcile the two versions. I can look through my OWN list of articles and see if any of them have been overlooked in being ported to WP, but that's the most I can do. Although as Treasurer, of course, I could simply clear out the balance at the Chase bank, put it into my pocket, and watch CZ go belly up in the next month or so because of lack of payments to the server. THAT would be action without a consensus, but I'm not quite ready to go that route yet! Hayford Peirce (talk) 19:30, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
I am just now getting back to this matter, and have read Duncan's helpful comments. Yes, anyone concerned about saving their info from CZ to WK should def be doing that now, because no matter what any of us do, this project may still go offline in the near future. But the kind of information that is on here, that I personally value, will not survive ten minutes on Wikipedia without being wrecked by some anonymous idiot. This includes not only certain computers articles, but also the wonderful Pali Canon work (by Martin, I think) and many other contributions by some of those taking about this now. So to me, and to some of us, the ability to work more peacefully here still has value. I am working on a set of suggestions for how to address the current situation without shutting down. To be published within a few days. I need to do some research first, and I've just started this work today.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:14, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

Here's where I think we are

My suggestions for the immediate future, based on all the helpful suggestions above:

  • Through September 30, 2020, let's work towards shutting down Citizendium as a public project that anyone can participate in.
    • Let's attempt to push a copy into the Internet Archive before the proposed "shut down" date.
    • Let's advise anyone who may care to save or copy their work elsewhere before that date, as there are no guarantees that it won't go lost otherwise.
    • Let's request those who gave money since the beginning of 2019 to allow us to keep the remaining funds and rebrand the project after the above date, as proposed below.
    • Let's begin keeping a list of who would like to keep using the servers with a new paradigm, described below.Pat Palmer (talk) 20:11, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

As of October 1, 2020, let's keep the server running with a new goal, TBD, something like: "To provide an online, collaborative writing oasis among collegial folks with expertise of all kinds, writing under their actual names."

  • Keep the real-name and resume policy.
  • Caveats: Not a media website, not a blog compendium, not some kind of complete encyclopedia. Not allowing the normal baddies such as selling, opinion pieces, liable, political vitriol, etc. [NOTE: We can come up with verbiage for what it IS later].
  • Kick off inactive and non-contributing users and continue on a subscription basis with only those who choose to opt in.
    • Participants required to contribute a minimum sum monthly or annually, or less with board approval.
  • The "board" (core group doing the transition work--Hayford, John S., me, maybe a few others) would have absolute control. Not a democrary, but hopefully, a benevolent dictatorship.
    • would hold future discussion off the wiki, out of public view
    • would be able to remove any user; for example, someone who exhausts others with too much negotiation or causes any of the kinds of problems that we all now know people can cause
  • Get rid of Authors, make each use an Editor in whatever Workgroups they request, to generally make everything as easy as possible
  • Get rid of Approved articles as a policy, and unlock any Approved articles someone wants to improve
  • Revamp the landing page, and Donations page, to reflect the death of the OLD Citizendium, and the coming "new" subscription-based wiki. Financial reports page would possibly:
    • Archive all the older contributions past, say, 2019 (providing a link at bottom to the full, older list of contribs) - DONE 6/26/2020
    • Reorder the contributions so the most recent month is at the top, rather than at the bottom - DONE 6/26/2020
    • Separate out the minimum balance of $1500 needed to avoid bank fees (put it in a footnote, maybe), showing only the balance we can use for monthly server payments and not get charged bank fees - FOOTNOTED INSTEAD 6/26/2020
    • Note that after the "shut down" date, the money will be used to keep servers running (as now), but with a different governing structure and purpose.
  • Technical leads to include, initially John S. and Pat P. and possible others, who will also do their deliberations offline and in private
  • List articles people are working on, and wish to share, on the landing page; also the new, limited goals and policies (to be written), plus mention how other may ask to join (subject to board approval) if they'd like a place to do their own writing without harassment.Pat Palmer (talk) 20:10, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
The question is, would anyone besides me really want to try and continue after we archive the site? Or, should we just shut down anyway? Maybe I'm trying to swim upstream here.Pat Palmer (talk) 23:53, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

I support the principle of saving Citizendium as its own entity by making huge changes, loosely along the lines explained above; I specifically propose this:

  • Convert Citizendium into an ordinary privately-owned website with a relatively small number of stakeholders who are solely responsible for maintaining its content and its technical infrastructure and its funding; while others can join, doing so isn't the norm.
  • Don't try to be a general encyclopedia that does everything, just have focused articles that the stakeholders want to write / manage / stand-behind, and that's it, in some ways like a blog.
  • Do NOT solicit donations from the public, AT ALL. Financial reports should just be removed and be private stakeholder info, and that history isn't needed for the public.
  • Funding the website is 100% by the private stakeholders, like maintenance fees for condos they live in. There is absolutely no reason anyone else should pay for this. (I run a bunch of my own websites and I pay for their hosting myself, I don't ask the public for money ever, and the same should go for you.)
  • A $100/month is ridiculously expensive for hosting; you should be able to get by for maybe $10-20/month for what this project needs.
  • Get rid of all the bureaucracy, the small group of stakeholders can work things out among themselves informally.
  • It sounds like Pat Palmer has volunteered to run the technical aspects to enable what needs doing.
  • I personally am not one of the stakeholders/owners-to-be; I am offering some free advice to be helpful, that is all.

Darren Duncan 25 June 2020

Technical side

Francisco's comment above echoes what I've said before, which is that the primary problem at the moment is technical: the wiki has no https, no e-mail inboxes, no working sign-up page, many templates etc. no longer working, no updates to the MediaWiki software, no backups, and no active technical support that I know of. That last one is most important: as far as I know, no-one is maintaining the wiki at all. It's like the Mary Celeste drifting on.

Some time ago, Larry stepped forward as Technical Lead, but I don't know what went on behind the scenes. A while ago, I volunteered to be the primary contact for Steadfast, our host (this was because we had an image takedown request, and Steadfast want someone contactable if there's a complaint). This was the point at which I first got to see information about our hosting set-up. I wasn't given any technical information about the wiki and I don't have any experience of server maintenance, although I can access details about the server hardware (to the point where I know what floor of the building it's on). There's a backup server which, as far as I can see, hasn't been used. I can also access options for shutting the server down or rebooting it. (Larry still owns the domain name, but he's not listed with Steadfast - just me, Hayford, Greg and Darren.)

Francisco: for some reason, you're not listed in the Steadfast contacts, so if I add you, you can go into the account info and have a look around. Likewise, I think it would be an obvious move to add Pat. (Both of you have Bureaucrat rights on the wiki, but that has nothing to do with access to the server: it just means you can add wiki users, change usernames, delete pages, etc.) This will not in itself give you server access, as Steadfast require a VPN, for which you will need another login from them, plus login details for the server. John Stephenson (talk) 17:30, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

For a while there was an email address at Purdue, I think, by which messages could be sent to ALL the Citizens. I tried using this yesterday, as I have done a couple of times in the past, and the message was returned as being undeliverable. It would be useful, I think, if this could be reactivated or some substitute be put in its place -- it was certainly tedious composing and posting individual messages to over a dozen people! Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:56, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
There is a Google Group which was created about a decade ago for general discussion but which was never used. I'll see about restarting it. That would be a Citizens-only forum. (There is another Google Group for members and non-members to interact.)
Was not aware of backup server in the hosting package. I am paying about $30 /month for a backup server outside. Will definitely check what that backup server is as was never mentioned to me. If can do backup on whatever backup server is there can then pay for a Devevelopment environment.--Francisco Reyes (talk) 18:32, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Created slack for tech, or anything else we want, coordination. For anyone interested please provide info at https://francisco611257.typeform.com/to/OWZ5mu2S and will create your account in the slack group. --Francisco Reyes (talk) 18:52, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Is there any particular reason why we need a dedicated server? Usually, any public cloud would be a better idea (not to mention cheaper). For something like Citizendium, shared hosting may even be an option. Let's Encrypt offers free SSL certificates. So this could help to stretch the money, but it doesn't solve the main issue: Citizendium needs more editors. I'll leave that discussion for another day, though. I'm not likely to do any more editing here, but I'd be willing to help on the technical end. Joshua Sadule (talk) 01:13, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
Not sure physical server is needed, but will see what it is we have; in particular site seems pretty slow to me. Should be getting access soon to the hosting provider and will check. Seems there was even a backup server.. while I have been paying myself to backup all the data somewhere else because was unaware of said backup server. For SSL agree letsencrypt will be the way to go. Sent you invite to slack. We can discuss further there. One of the projects hope we tackle early on is the public facing backup. So anyone that would like to get the data can. The backups I am doing are sort of DB + filesystem.. not really easy to share or do much other than a "full restore". --Francisco Reyes (talk) 13:08, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
On the last note, "Backup the content of the wiki" may be worth a read. Joshua Sadule (talk) 14:05, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for the input, Joshua! As I've said above, we need both writers AND tech people! Hope you'll be one of them! Hayford Peirce (talk) 01:33, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
The last time I checked, a server on, say, Amazon Web Services would cost $100-$600/mo depending on traffic. I'm sure we'd likely be on the lower end of that, but it's not much cheaper than we're already paying. Given the size of the files, I would be surprised if we can find anything much cheaper. But surprise me.Pat Palmer (talk) 23:59, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
I managed to reach out to Larry Sanger, who has said he will transfer the citizendium.org domain to my control. In my experience, transferring a domain is a cumbersome and slow process, but I'm glad he's going to help us out with that.Pat Palmer (talk) 13:19, 26 June 2020 (UTC)
For Francisco and Joshua, thanks for working on server backups. I am still mulling whether I'm willing to try Slack. I went to Francisco's link to try and sign up, and it began asking me many personal questions that I felt were basically data mining, so I ditched out of it. I'll get back to you soon about that option.Pat Palmer (talk) 13:30, 26 June 2020 (UTC)
Hi Pat. I'll leave others who are more invested in Citizendium to comment on your proposal. As for Slack, I'd recommend joining. We've been discussing technical implementation details that you'll probably want to know. (If you really don't want to join, I could probably copy a transcript to somewhere here, but I make no promises about keeping it updated.) We're currently looking at Digital Ocean, where a roughly equivalent instance goes for $20/month (we may need to pay for more storage, though). AWS is around the same price. Joshua Sadule (talk) 14:07, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

Archiving

Hello everyone. I setup this wiki, and I'll be happy to help shut it down as well, if that is the consensus. I'm also open to setting it to "read only" and putting it on a cheaper cloud service, although there are different levels of how functional the wiki remains (even if nobody can edit, it still needs some real server work to create equations, do searches, etc.). Anyway, I will keep watch on this page. Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 17:17, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Thanks, Greg! If you keep watching this page, I'm sure that eventually you'll see a consensus about what to do. Sad that all that initial effort should come to this! Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:52, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Hello. I'm the guy donating $5 per month. It was $20, but I cut it down when it looked like there was plenty of funding. I'm a little surprised that nobody else is making regular donations. I would like to see the project kept as an archive. We have some of the finest articles anywhere on the Internet, free of the vested interests we see in Wikipedia. Putting these articles in the hands of Wikipedia will only invite the vested interests back in, and the last thing I want is edit wars with paid industry shills who have far more staying power than I.

I pay $25 per month for a cloud server in Dallas with Rimu Hosting. I could donate some space on that server. They have servers all over the world. Rimu takes care of all technical problems. They send me an email when a problem crops up, and one when it is fixed. I never have to worry about it. --David MacQuigg (talk) 16:59, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

David, thanks a bunch for those donations in the past. I am also back now and will be donating each month in the future. We're still going to need a bit of support, so please continue at whatever level you can. And, thanks for the information; it could turn out to be very helpful and I appreciate it. Pat Palmer (talk) 19:20, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

Voice from the past

Hello old friends - it's been many years since I was able to do much on Citizendium as life has lent me little spare time. I'll be retiring soon so perhaps things will change. My view is that Citizendium was a fum project for me at the time and I've no regrets about the (substantial) time I put in. I've written a couple of books since, and if nothing else the work I put into CZ helped me become a better writer. I had no expectations that anything I wrote would last forever, but hoped it might help others get going on their own projects. I'll keep an eye on whatever transpires and if time allows I will try to contribute constructively. Gareth Leng (talk) 13:02, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

My Thoughts

I signed up three years ago, I wrote / imported a small amount of content, I made one financial contribution - and then I stopped. I would like to do more but found my work split across multiple similar projects (I am an editor at Wikipedia, and Wikibooks and I also have one of those global Wikimedia roles that keeps me very busy). I agree with people who think this has failed as an encyclopedia. In that it is no different to most of the Wikimedia projects. Many of its non-English Wikipedias are dead, and the sister projects (Books, News, Source, Versity, etc.) are mainly dead. Eventually Wikipedia will subsume them all as it adds functionality to support these niches and also because the Wikimedia Foundation intends to rebrand itself as Wikipedia which will lead to even more decline. There's always a chance that disenfranchised WP editors might come here, but I doubt it as it isn't widely known. To survive, a niche is needed that attracts people and "another encyclopedia" isn't that. Neil Babbage (talk) 13:38, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

I agree another encyclopedia is not needed. We should be a small publisher with a few areas of excellence, but none of the overhead, like printing presses or paid staff that a "real publisher" would have. --David MacQuigg (talk) 18:22, 26 June 2020 (UTC)

Possible Option for One Last Push

Harvest emails of profs from university/college websites and email them. Ask for them to become contributors. Some are less busy amid COVID-19. See if usage goes up. Stephen Ewen (talk)

Comments from former contributors

I recently sought the opinions of former contributors regarding the above proposals. Of the ones who chose to comment privately via e-mail, two suggested shutting-down and archiving and one supported turning CZ into a more general writing environment, possibly subscription-based. John Stephenson (talk) 13:51, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

Thanks, John. Helpful to know. I still propose (and am actively working towards) doing both. It won't surprise me to hear a lot of folks say "not interested", as long as we can find also a few "interested" voices to help us figure out how to move into a different kind of wiki model for writers.Pat Palmer (talk) 18:41, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

Seeking shutdown team members, as well as forward planning members

Hi all. I'm proposing an official project end date of Sept. 30, 2020, after which Citizendium.org will stay online but will become a different collaboration space (to be determined). I picked that date out of the air, and if people want a shorter transition period, we might be able to do it. Who can help us to:

  • Make a backup or dump of the wiki as it currently exists, available for download to anyone who wants it in the future?
  • Look into archiving contents to the Internet Archive (?)
  • Help advise current and past participants to copy or backup any material that they value, by the above date, or risk it going lost.
  • Keep us all updated with progress on the landing page, so that "the public" (anyone dropping by) will understand what is happening.

I am also proposing a planning group on what will happen with the wiki going forwards. Who wants in on that?

I also propose (in contrast to Duncan's advice) that we continue accepting donations to support the server for now. Going forwards, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who wished to remain writing on Citizendium can do so as long as they adhere to the prevailing policies and are not disruptive. That is all subject to debate, but for now, I say keep the Donations on the front page, and at transition time, I propose that we keep any remaining funds and continue plowing them into support for the server going forwards. In support of this, I have made a substantial financial contribution this month to help keep the ship afloat until the shutdown phase for the "old project" is done.

Who can help with the shutdown of the "old project"? And who wants to be in on planning a next phase from the ground up? Please post here. I want to take the detailed work for both efforts offline here and into a private Google group.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:06, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

I will help in any way possible consistent with my position as Treasurer. And will support whatever the other Citizens decide to do. Just let me know what I can do in my official capacity. And, of course, I'm always ready to throw in my invaluable free advice! Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:05, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

Count me in for Planning for the next phase as well as on advising current and past participants to copy or backup any material that they value--N Rajendra Raju (talk) 02:03, 30 June 2020 (UTC)