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RationalWiki:Technical support

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Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it!

Herein goeth anything regarding the technicalities of the wiki

  • Problems with accessing/editing the wiki
  • Problems with MediaWiki/HTML/CSS/Javascript/etc.
  • Questions about RW's configuration/extensions/servers/etc.
  • In short, anything tech-y goes here

External links:

Semi-frequent updates about RW's technical status are available at RationalWiki's blogspot.
To view or suggest changes to configuration files and MediaWiki extensions, see RationalWiki's GitHub.


Users with Tech rights: see Special:ListUsers/tech
Users with root on the servers: David Gerard (, Tmtoulouse and Tim Starling.

If your IP is blocked from editing as an open proxy: You need to go to your provider about it. The lists we use are,, If your IP is on one of these lists, then your provider has a serious problem they need to resolve. We cannot get your ISP out of the blacklist.

Subsection link (sticky)[edit]

What extension does Wikipedia use to get the subsection links next to each subsection title? Mʀ. Wʜɪsᴋᴇʀs, Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk) 13:39, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

What r u talking about? ClickerClock (talk) 04:45, 10 September 2017 (UTC)
I think Fuzzy means the "§" link that appears next to the headings, that links to the anchor for that heading. (once again, memorising the ASCII code for section signs comes in handy!) —Kazitor, pending 08:28, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

@FuzzyCatPotato, yall happy now?

See the main article on this topic: Goat § What to do with a Goat and a stool

Encyclopedia § EtymologyWikipedia's W.svg See the Wikipedia article on Encyclopedia § Ancient times. —ClickerClock (talk) 05:24, 17 November 2017 (UTC)

Not what I meant... I mean, that's really good :) But I recall there once being a § link next to the actual sections on a page. I'm not sure where it went. —Kazitor, pending 05:35, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean. —ClickerClock (talk) 05:44, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
Like, on the page there is a heading that says "Subsection link (sticky)". Next to it, either before or after the "edit" link, there was a single, grey "§" link that appended the appropriate anchor to the URL, e.g. §. —Kazitor, pending 06:13, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
Screenshot? —ClickerClock (talk) 12:34, 6 December 2017 (UTC)

Subsections playing up (sticky)[edit]


I've seen this a few times, it was this revision and the wikitext seems normal. Christopher (talk) 09:33, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

The error occurs when a subsection is immediately before the end of a page. I'd bet that this is a result of the MediaWiki upgrade, but I've really no idea. FᴜᴢᴢʏCᴀᴛPᴏᴛᴀᴛᴏ, Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk) 17:06, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
And as these edits should make clear, this only occurs on certain pages. It could also be a template -- maybe something didn't close a div or a span and it's fucking with the subsections. 32℉uzzy; 0℃atPotato (talk/stalk) 17:07, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
This is not a result of the recent upgrade. This has been an issue for years.—チーズバーガー • めん Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 17:09, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Content dumps (sticky)[edit]

All of the internal links to backups on RationalWiki:Content dumps fail. Also, what is the status of @David Gerard's port? Bongolian (talk) 02:15, 29 August 2018 (UTC)

yeah, they're all old. No, haven't pushed that forward at all, sorry - David Gerard (talk) 12:27, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
@David Gerard reminder to do this -- might be convenient to do on same day you take elections live FᴜᴢᴢʏCᴀᴛPᴏᴛᴀᴛᴏ, Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk)

I made some dumps and uploaded them to -- Tim Starling (talk) 12:07, 9 July 2019 (UTC)

Thank you, @Tim Starling! Bongolian (talk) 17:54, 9 July 2019 (UTC)

2019 software upgrade (sticky)[edit]


  • Modernize Rationalwiki with things invented since 2017 (MediaWiki 1.27).


n.b. OATHAuth gives users the option of using two-factor authentication.

Other things to do at the same time:


  • Setup a template to enable WikiSEO descriptors and an edit filter to avoid direct use.
  • Check that everything we already have won't break.


  • Wikis, specifically Wikipedia, have several new features that weren't around when the site was last upgraded. The notable upgrades include Scribunto, a Lua template engine which is supposedly faster and easier to use (it allows for some advanced templates to be copied from the wikipedians who know how it works anyway). MobileFrontend and it's skin, which switches the sites reading view on mobile devices to a "mobile compatible" mode (users can switch back), it does make pages significantly easier to read on mobile devices. TemplateStyles allows per-page or per-template css styles, it uses a sanitized set of css rules to avoid security issues, this can be used to enable @media queries for templates to display differently on different devices. 'Thanks' is the extension which gives you the option to ping people for an edit, it is kinda optional but practically all other wikis have it. And finally, WikiSeo allows for a template which invisibly controls how a page displays when shared on social media, you can specify a description and image which, using semantic meta markup will be used by facebook/google/etc instead of a pretty random looking link.

Comments, feedback, ideas and support/oppose of the proposed thingys welcome. NekoDysk 15:54, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Nerd's comments[edit]

I'm all for modernizing our infrastructure, as long as what we already have do not break. I really like the "Thanks" template. I first saw it on Wikipedia a couple years ago (when someone thanked me) and have used it occasionally ever since. The "Timeless Skin" looks like something the gods would approve. The Multimedia Viewer is something I almost always forget we don't have because it is so intuitive.

Sorry if this is implied, but most of it is too technical for me. Will this upgrade include the visual edit gadget? I have been using it on Wikipedia for a quite some time now, and I love it! Finding the appropriate templates, citing sources, editing equations, changing photographs or illustrations. Amazing!

While we are at it, does this proposed upgrade include the template that automatically converts units for you? It looks like this on Wikipedia. If you typed {{convert|1|mi|km}}, the output would be 1 mile (1.6 km). I find this template very convenient. Nerd (talk) 18:42, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

The list I presented doesn't include Visual Editor. Although to be clear the main reason I left the Visual Editor thing out, is because it requires a very complicated additional setup so may be better suited as another task. However, the convert template would be made possible with Scribunto which I have listed up there, so that is included. NekoDysk 22:26, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
@Dysklyver I see. The visual editor can be a little resource-intensive. Thanks! When will this upgrade be implemented? Nerd (talk) 03:01, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I hope sometime this year, if everyone agrees and it gets organised properly. NekoDysk 14:22, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
It's only February, but there is no harm in getting started early. How to get organize ourselves for it? Nerd (talk) 16:18, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
We need to finalize a set of things we want, get general agreement for it, and ideally test it all works on a test wiki, before then asking for it to be deployed, bearing in mind that Tmtoulouse/David Gerard are the operations people. The main thing is not to break the wiki, and the other thing is not to add things that will be there by default that everyone hates. NekoDysk 16:37, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── How about setting up a sub-page, "2019 upgrade" for bullet point items, etc. for the implementation. – Dbz (talk) 00:30, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

I hate the "visual edit gadget". Palaeonictis Fossil beds 10:20, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

@Dysklyver Last time I check Trent Toulouse was a university professor. (David Gerard appears to be a programmer and book author.) This means we can potentially get this done before summer is out. Nerd (talk) 22:47, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

@Dysklyver Why hasn't this been done yet? What exactly is the problem? Damn. BlackWhite Speak 22:39, 15 May 2019 (UTC)
A combination of laziness and procrastination. Somebody needs to figure out if certain existing extensions would work nicely with the proposed new software. NekoDysk 23:31, 15 May 2019 (UTC)

The time approaches[edit]

I did the last MW upgrade, and I expect I'll do the next one too, some time in the near future. MW 1.27 is EOL so it needs to be done so that we can continue to receive security upgrades. I'd be comfortable installing the WMF-deployed extensions Dysklyver proposed above, specifically CategoryTree, CodeEditor, MultimediaViewer, OATHAuth, Scribunto, MobileFrontend, TemplateStyles, Thanks and the skin Timeless. I think VisualEditor is a reasonable stretch goal, if you want that.

Instead of WikiSEO, which is unmaintained and not in Gerrit, I would suggest OpenGraphMeta, which is in Gerrit and is written by a well-known author, or PageImages, which is simple but WMF-deployed.

The servers also need to be upgraded to Ubuntu 18.04. I'm thinking about the order of operations. Traditionally you do the OS upgrade first, so that you're more likely to have the dependencies needed by the new MW version. Linode's volume feature is now out of beta and available in Newark, which opens up some new possibilities for the kind and number of instances.

If anyone wants to help, the number one thing that needs to be done is to test the RationalWiki-specific extensions against MW 1.31 and to update them as needed. They are all in RationalWiki's GitHub, but nobody has ever submitted a pull request against them despite their comically bad state. Note that I moved Wigo3 to Gerrit, so the GitHub version is outdated and non-canonical. Wigo3 is the best of RationalWiki's extensions. -- Tim Starling (talk) 11:22, 7 July 2019 (UTC)

This is great. I won't specifically comment on the OS and how the load balancing works since I don't deal with that here, but as far as the extensions are concerned;
The rationale for WikiSEO was to generate descriptions for Google Search, and to get our articles to display previews on social media and chat applications, as a Wikipedia article would do if linked. Now it seems to me that OpenGraphMeta will generate previews for Facebook and presumably most social media sites, however it occurs to me that we could benefit from also installing Description2 from the same author to get the Google Search descriptions which are currently rather lacklustre.
I am not personally bothered about VisualEditor either way, since from a technical viewpoint it needs that additional Parsoid service I think it would be an optional thing to do if you think that isn't too hard to setup and maintain. I don't know how the mob would consider it, I believe it is still generally a good extension but older editors hate using it, heh. :)
Otherwise, all good. :) NekoDysk 12:49, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
Just think about how you want to spend my time, in priority order, and I'll think about how far down the list I want to go. What do you want more: VisualEditor or, say, analytics? Apparently Robert Lazar is the most popular article on this wiki. Is that something you want to know? Does that make you want to improve it? -- Tim Starling (talk) 13:52, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
Most important things on this list would be MobileFrontend and it's associated skin. And in my personal opinion analytics is better than the Visual Editor. The rest is good to have but also easy-ish to install so not a huge concern I suppose. NekoDysk 20:17, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
Hell no to Visual Editor. Oxyaena Harass 22:46, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
I'm with Oxyaena on that.   — Jeff G. ツ 12:19, 9 July 2019 (UTC)
I think the main thing we can be said to need is something that works on mobile without looking like a web page for ants. I realise this is not a tiny thing of course - David Gerard (talk) 14:37, 8 July 2019 (UTC)

Embed tweets etc[edit]

Currently we can embed youtube videos. Would it be possible to embed tweets? Avida Dollarsher again 10:42, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

It might be a matter of updating the site to a newer version of MediaWiki I`m afraid, but tbh that's only a guess. Dr. Ox quack specialist 11:03, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
There is no easy way to embed tweets and we would need some new extension to do that as it's not a Mediawiki core feature. However, we could import wikipedia:Template:Tweet for a similar effect. NekoDysk 11:39, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
That'd be ok. Avida Dollarsher again 12:31, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
Alright, working on it. NekoDysk 13:02, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
@Dysklyver, @Avida Dollars A problem with embedding tweets is that tweets are not as a rule automatically archived by Unless the embedding software also pings to archive the tweet, it means we could get a lot more dead links without recourse to replacing them to archived links. I view direct links to tweets on mainspace pages to be very poor style because of this. Links to tweets on mainspace pages should always be to an archived version in my view. Bongolian (talk) 17:20, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
@Bongolian Theoretically the template (not really an embed as such) could insist on an archive link and display an error message if one wasn't supplied. Thereby encouraging people to archive tweets when using them here. NekoDysk 18:19, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
@Dysklyver: Good idea.   — Jeff G. ツ 16:31, 19 May 2019 (UTC)

Server upgrade in progress[edit]

I'm doing this: RationalWiki:Server migration 2019. I made a mistake in a configuration file, and for a minute or so, images would have failed to load, giving a 403 error. This is fixed now. -- Tim Starling (talk) 23:17, 12 July 2019 (UTC)

The upload directory was read-only for an unexpectedly long period of time, I think about 30 minutes, due to me not realising that btrfs-receive had created a read-only snapshot. Creating a file in the directory in question using the shell actually worked, so at first I figured it was some other issue. It was only after I enabled the FSFileBackend log channel in MediaWiki and saw the "read-only file system" errors that I finally had a closer look at it. I still have no idea how that test worked while apache was seeing a read-only filesystem.

root@apache4:/mnt/images# echo test > test
root@apache4:/mnt/images# ll
total 8
drwxrwxr-x 1 root     root      126 Jul 13 10:47 ./
drwxr-xr-x 4 root     root     4096 Jul 13 06:08 ../
drwxr-xr-x 1 www-data root      156 Jun  9  2017
drwxr-xr-x 1 www-data www-data   56 Jun 30  2017
drwxr-xr-x 1 www-data www-data   52 Jul 13 06:20
-rw-rw-r-- 1 root     root        5 Jul 13 10:47 test

Mysterious. Anyway, we're now running from the new apache server. -- Tim Starling (talk) 11:27, 13 July 2019 (UTC)

Search error
Recent changes error
You may be aware of this already, but the search function is not working. Bongolian (talk) 18:53, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
@Tim Starling Good stuff. Not sure if you are aware or not either, or if this will only be temporary, but infact both search, and the vandalbin log display on recent changes are giving error messages, see images to the right. NekoDysk 18:57, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
And more specifically about search, if one searches for a valid webpage everything works fine, but 1) autocomplete does not work and 2) searching for a page does not exist returns this error message, "An error has occurred while searching: We could not complete your search due to a temporary problem. Please try again later." Bongolian (talk) 19:02, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Sorry about that, should be fixed now. -- Tim Starling (talk) 23:19, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Looks good now, thanks! Bongolian (talk) 23:21, 13 July 2019 (UTC)

Math extension[edit]

First time on tech support, I didn't see any other sections that are related. Anytime I set in my preferences my display style for LaTeX equations like \text{test} to be anything other than "png" rasters, it crahses any page with math symbols on it. Zackarycw (talk) 10:10, 11 July 2019 (UTC)

In MW 1.31 it should be possible to use the remote Mathoid instance to support other rendering modes. 1.27 was a particularly bad time to be installing the Math extension, it was ostensibly Mathoid+RESTBase only, but there was very little documentation telling you how to install Mathoid and RESTBase, and the documentation that did exist was pretty horrifying. It was possible to configure it to use tevxc, but it was a fairly obscure mode and I'm not surprised it's buggy. For now, I suggest not setting your preferences to something other than PNG. -- Tim Starling (talk) 10:24, 13 July 2019 (UTC)

File size limit fixed[edit]

I went through the tech support archives yesterday, and found this complaint about not being able to upload files larger than 1MB. And today, I noticed this crude little GIF being used in a main page cover story. So I tracked down a larger version, fixed the nginx configuration which limited the request size to 1MB (now it's 60MB) and uploaded the new image. -- Tim Starling (talk) 01:27, 15 July 2019 (UTC)

That's pretty cool. NekoDysk 11:33, 15 July 2019 (UTC)

Goatless in AfD[edit]

The RationalWiki:Articles for deletion page currently shows 1 in favor of deletion and no other votes for the Planet of the Apes article, but when one goes to the specific AfD for this page (RationalWiki:Articles for deletion/Planet of the Apes), it shows 1 in favor and 1 for goat. Bongolian (talk) 03:30, 15 July 2019 (UTC)

If there is a mismatch, purge the page. NekoDysk 11:31, 15 July 2019 (UTC)
The job queue was not running. I fixed it, it's catching up now. -- Tim Starling (talk) 13:21, 15 July 2019 (UTC)


The other place has a 10-year-membership club - as RW has been around for 12 years could there be something similar? Anna Livia (talk) 16:45, 15 July 2019 (UTC)

Please fix links on[edit]

@Tim Starling The link to RationalBlogs on needs to be fixed/removed. It redirects to scam sites. Also, doesn't work either. (talk) 19:06, 17 July 2019 (UTC)

That made me look up the whois registration details for to make sure that's not the email we use and I've come back a little concerned. We have as our official policy that we're a US-based organization and follow US laws, but the registration is in canada. Trent is still the primary contact, in spite of the de jure management of the site belonging to the RW board. Probably there's some low-level due diligence missing and I'd like to ask the board to discuss and deal with these issues in their next meeting. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 19:21, 17 July 2019 (UTC)
I don't really want to be the editor. I can give ikanreed or any other interested RW editor an account on -- Tim Starling (talk) 21:43, 17 July 2019 (UTC)
I'm not a member of the board and hold no special responsibilities here. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 23:38, 17 July 2019 (UTC)
I'd be more than happy to clean up this site, but I'll defer to the board members to see if they approve. Cosmikdebris (talk) 23:47, 17 July 2019 (UTC)
So would I, for now the three most active board members on here are @LeftyGreenMario, @Spud, and @David Gerard. Let's see what they think first. Oxyaena Harass 08:47, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
@Cosmikdebris@Oxyaena I most definitely approve. Please, do what you can to clean things up. Spud (talk) 10:13, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
@Tim Starling Good to go? Oxyaena Harass 10:43, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
I sent login details by email. -- Tim Starling (talk) 12:23, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
It's fine. What can possibly go wrong? --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 18:29, 18 July 2019 (UTC)
yeah, basically the first qualification is "you wanna do the work? IT'S YOURS" - David Gerard (talk) 20:18, 18 July 2019 (UTC)


Could we make a section of the foundation website into a RationalBlogs 2.0? Oxyaena Harass 04:26, 19 July 2019 (UTC)

Of course we could, but at this time I'd strongly recommend against it because of many security, content and management concerns. Any kind of project like that requires a charter, plan, and a support strategy and plenty of discussion before we attempt something like this. Cosmikdebris (talk) 15:08, 19 July 2019 (UTC)
My analysis of RationalWiki's history is that a number of people, including Trent and Nx, got very excited by RationalWiki's potential, and put a lot of time into it, including writing MediaWiki extensions and founding a number of side-projects. But despite their efforts, it didn't really take off. They were disappointed, burnt out, and left the project.
I'm happy to pop in once every two years to upgrade MediaWiki and the servers, despite having no expectations for RationalWiki to grow. I have a lot of hobbies and tend to visit them in rotation. But I'm not offering to run a complex wordpress with a lot of users. I set up the new behind WP2Static and HTTP authentication so that I can abandon it for two years without it being hacked.
You could make the RationalWiki main page be more like a blog. You could feature recent content, maybe have featured essays. -- Tim Starling (talk) 22:23, 19 July 2019 (UTC)


Just testing something out, that's all. :) Oxyaena Harass 05:47, 19 July 2019 (UTC) update[edit]

I updated the main page on just now. The icons and links to the defunct rationalblogs and evoviki projects are gone, I updated the rationalwiki links to use http instead of http, and I updated the facebook link which was broken. I haven't gone through the rest of the site yet but will give that a go as I get a little time to do it. Cheers, Cosmikdebris (talk) 15:08, 19 July 2019 (UTC)

MW Prefix[edit]

typing "MW:Sitenotice" brings one here:

could this be switched to operate as "RW:" currently does (eg, typing "RW:RMF" brings one to RationalWiki:RationalMediaFoundation)?

@Tim Starling

Fuzzy "Cat" Potato, Jr. (talk/stalk) 18:40, 22 July 2019 (UTC)

There's 80 pages that link to using the mw: interwiki prefix. I don't think it's worth the effort to change them, just to save a few keystrokes. -- Tim Starling (talk) 02:48, 24 July 2019 (UTC)

Trying to update an article[edit]

I'm trying to update the article Susan G. Komen to include information on the Planned Parenthood funding controversy, but my edits keep triggering the spam filter, apparently because of the many links included as citations. This is getting very frustrating. Splainer (talk) 09:45, 5 August 2019 (UTC)