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RationalWiki:Technical support

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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


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]

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What extension does Wikipedia use to get the subsection links next to each subsection title? αδελφός ΓυζζγςατΡοτατο (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 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]

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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. Cømяade FυzzчCαтPøтαтø (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. Herr FüzzyCätPötätö (talk/stalk) 17:07, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
This is not a result of the recent upgrade. This has been an issue for years.—€h33s3βurg3rF@€3 Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 17:09, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Content dumps (sticky)[edit]

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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 FU22YC47P07470 (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]

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  • 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. — Dysk (contribs) 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. — Dysk (contribs) 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. — Dysk (contribs) 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. — Dysk (contribs) 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. — Dysk (contribs) 23:31, 15 May 2019 (UTC)

The visual editor is amazing for doing proper citations, which is a big problem on RW from what I can see (too many bare URLS). However I understand it is a large task. Debunky (talk) 02:03, 30 March 2020 (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. :) — Dysk (contribs) 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. — Dysk (contribs) 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)
I'm going to second Dysklyver and David Gerard on prioritizing MobileFrontend. The main reason I created an account here (which I just now finally got around to doing) is to request a proper mobile view. I'm not picky. I just want *something*! (I don't particularly care either way about any of the other MediaWiki extensions under discussion.) ThisIsMyRealName (talk) 11:59, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

Visual Editor[edit]

Please enable Visual Editor. It is such a better experience than source code editing, especially for adding references. Hmmph (talk) 19:27, 29 November 2020 (UTC)

I disagree. People who edit using visual editor when knowing wikitext are monsters, but it does help bringing new good faith edits from new users. In my opinion, it is certainly something that should come.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 03:37, 4 December 2020 (UTC)
Then I am a monster. Hmmph (talk) 17:46, 6 December 2020 (UTC)
Visual Editor comes with 1.35, whenever we get around to that - a proper PHP version it seems, functional, well-integrated and with seven years' development - David Gerard (talk) 20:23, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
The PHP version is a reimplementation of "Parsoid" in PHP. Parsoid is a wikitext parsing service that VisualEditor highly relies on. I wouldn't necessarily say it says much about the stability of VE. Techpriest (I am Alpharius! / Pencil.png / Tux icon.png / Shield.png) 20:45, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

In general I would advocate hewing to Wikipedia's general look and feel as much as possible in terms of standard MediaWiki extensions. Most of the more controversial ones can be disabled in one's user preferences, and maintaining some degree of consistency makes it easier for Wikipedia editors to get up and running on RationalWiki. — ThisIsMyRealName (talk) 22:31, 4 June 2021 (UTC)

Running a Beta Subdomain?[edit]

The MediaWiki update thread has been largely dormant in terms of actually progressing with the updates. It seems like the sticking point is that the various custom extensions in use have to be tested against the new version to make sure that the new version doesn't break any of them. However, it seems like it wouldn't be possible to test the extensions against the new version of MediaWiki without actually installing it first, which creates a kind of chicken-and-egg problem.

My suggestion, then, is... would it be possible to install a separate MediaWiki instance, located at, for example,, that would run off the same backend database? That way, the primary frontend would remain the outdated version of MediaWiki that is known to (more or less) work properly, while intrepid users could choose to run the beta frontend, with a specific eye towards identifying any broken extensions.

You could probably also implement some sort of cookie-based redirect for users to be able to opt in to automatically using the beta frontend whenever they visit the site (e.g. from a DuckDuckGo search result), but I don't know what would be involved in doing that.

You would probably also want to set up some sort of "beta portal" explaining the purpose and scope of the beta frontend and including places where beta users can report bugs.

@Tim Starling you seem like the person who would be in a position to do something like this. Is there any specific way I could help move this process along? – ThisIsMyRealName (talk) 22:26, 4 June 2021 (UTC)

This already exists, although evidently it wasn’t well advertised. Christopher (talk) 22:32, 4 June 2021 (UTC)

Vandal bin logs use the wrong language[edit]

They appear to use the language of the person who did the binning, not the one of the viewer. See original example and tests. Don’t remember this coming up before, could be a new issue since @Tim Starling fixed it to work with the newer mediawiki (don’t know if we’re using the newer version or not). Christopher (talk) 14:00, 28 May 2021 (UTC)

Only be an issue with language shared by the blocking function (“autoblock disabled” etc) because vandal bin exclusive language (parole etc) isn’t ever translated. Christopher (talk) 14:09, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
We're still on 1.27 fwiw. The upgrade hasn't occured yet (check it on Special:Version). Techpriest (talk) 15:50, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
Yeah if the wiki as a whole were upgraded we’d know, I wasn’t sure if the main wiki uses the old or new version of he vandal bin extension. Christopher (talk) 15:59, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
It’s an issue on the test wiki as well Christopher (talk) 16:02, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
In the MW 1.35 version, I've completely removed the options list from the log, so this is not a problem anymore. Per Christopher's request, I removed everything related to vandal binning IP addresses. -- Tim Starling (talk) 06:09, 1 June 2021 (UTC)

Another vandal bin issue - you can bin and patrol people whilst blocked[edit]

Doubt that’s intentional. Christopher (talk) 22:34, 29 May 2021 (UTC)

We could probably just change
$wgVandalBrakeConfigRemoveRights = [ 'move', 'skipcaptcha', 'rollback' ];
$wgVandalBrakeConfigRemoveRights = [ 'move', 'skipcaptcha', 'rollback', 'vandalbin' ];
in the PHP code. JJPMaster 23:13, 3 June 2021 (UTC)
Haven’t checked but $wgVandalBrakeConfigRemoveRights surely governs what rights are removed when you’re binned, not what rights are removed when you’re blocked. Not letting binned people access the bin would be a bad idea. Christopher (talk) 23:20, 3 June 2021 (UTC)
(EC) Does this only apply to sysops who are blocked, or to all users who are blocked? If it's the latter than it should definitely be fixed; if it's the former than while less problematic, it would still be great to patch it (since many bugs occur when a sysop is blocked, e.g. not having their talkpage comments show up as patrolled). --Goatspeed. Stalk meCircularREmail2.gifasoningSteal my ideas 23:21, 3 June 2021 (UTC)
Non-sysops can’t bin/parole people anyway. Christopher (talk) 23:23, 3 June 2021 (UTC)

Rename account[edit]

Can my account be renamed to arp242? It's what I use pretty much everywhere these days. I think MediaWiki should have some facility for this – or at least, I was able to rename my account on Wikipedia after filling in a form. Thanks! Carpetsmoker (talk) 17:56, 5 June 2021 (UTC)

We have a dedicated page for this: RationalWiki:Requests to change username. I don’t think it’s linked from anywhere prominent though. Christopher (talk) 18:00, 5 June 2021 (UTC)
Ah cheers, I missed that. Thanks! Arp242 (talk) 18:01, 5 June 2021 (UTC)

Unable to download rebutr plug-in for Chrome[edit]

I’ve been trying to download the rebutr plug-in for Chrome, but each time I click on the “get the plug in button” (or the hyperlink below it which is specifically for Chrome) it doesn’t respond. I’ve even tried it on different devices, but still no response. Does anyone know what might be wrong here? I’ve tried contacting rebutr via the “contact” link (at the bottom of their webpage) but this resulted in a failed attempt to transfer me to a new page i.e. a webpage that wouldn’t load. I know this isn’t directly related to RW but I figured at least one person on RW must use rebutr, and may have some suggestions ... In any event, I would be very grateful if someone could help shed some light on this issue for me. Cheers. —LeucippusTalk 20:57, 1 July 2021 (UTC)

Scrapped it. Rbutr appears to be very dead since about 2017. It's not related to RW operations directly and seems to have been added originally by FCP who probably used it. Techpriest (talk) 09:15, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
@Sirius Thanks for responding and for the info. Shame, it seemed like a useful tool. Do you know of any alternatives?LeucippusTalk 22:37, 2 July 2021 (UTC)
At risk of being snarky: Media literacy and Google-fu. Techpriest (talk) 15:18, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
On the contrary, your snark is welcome! My Google-fu skills do need improving! If I had better Google-fu skills, my research would improve and I wouldn’t have to rely on rebutr for finding rebuttals; to clarify, I use DuckDuckGo, however I imagine Google-fu search skills will transfer over-to DuckDuckGo since it uses the same search space. Additionally, If you don’t mind my asking, would you care to expand your answer on areas for improvement in Media Literacy and Google fu? (i.e. just in summary, please don’t think I expect you to give an in-depth analysis). LeucippusTalk 18:21, 3 July 2021 (UTC)
Sorry about my stupid previous-response (I’ll leave it up for reference and posterity). I misunderstood your comment: media literacy and Google-fu should already provide one with the relevant skill-set. Prior to finding (a now defunct) ‘rebutr’, I was already using journal search engines (e.g. Google Scholar, ResearchGate etc) to look for rebuttals—so in future—I’ll aim to improve my ‘google-fu’ skills, so as to optimise my research. I don’t know if you thought I wanted to use rebutr because I couldn’t be bothered to use media literacy skills to rebut items of interest, because this isn’t the case: my interest in using rebutr was in finding academic research that rebuted or challenged other academic research, and since words like ‘rebut’ or ‘dispute’ may not (and often don’t) occur in titles, key words, abstracts etc., I thought rebutr offered a helpful and convenient tool for finding conflicting research. Do let me know if I’m wrong about this though: can ‘Google-fu’ skills enable one to find rebuttals or disputes of academic research? e.g. a rebutal of a Google scholar article by another Google scholar article. LeucippusTalk 23:29, 3 July 2021 (UTC)

Intermittent 503 Errors[edit]

Today, I'm getting intermittent 503 errors accessing the site. They seem to reliably go away by closing the site and reopening it in a new tab. Something about varnish. 𝒮𝑒𝓇𝑒𝓃𝑒 talk 22:24, 13 July 2021 (UTC)

I'm getting the 503 varnish errors now, too. —cosmikdebris talk stalk 23:21, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
Me too. I’m getting a 503 varnish error that reads “Backend fetch failed”. LeucippusTalk 23:39, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm getting that too. Also for a while I couldn't vote on stuff at WGIO, which I'm guessing is a consequence of server issues? --RWRW (talk) 23:59, 13 July 2021 (UTC)
Ha! Just got a 503 error when trying to open "Intermittent 503 Errors". Scream!! (talk) 00:46, 14 July 2021 (UTC)
I got that yesterday. Just now, I'm getting longer than normal search response time. Bongolian (talk) 17:45, 14 July 2021 (UTC)

Mobile view[edit]

Copied from RW:ATIM.

Wikipedia and a bunch of other wikis have it - it displays a different screen on Mobile then on computer. I find that quite helpful as I used to edit from mobile quite a bit on those wikis([1][2][3], as just a few examples), and who does it on RW sometimes, I find it annoying to have to read it like a computer which it isnt desgined for and it would be much easier if I could just edit on a mobile based interface. Is there anyway we can make that happen? Also please tell me if I put this in an incorrect location and if it belongs somewhere else. --Gale5050 (talk) 23:47, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

1) Wrong place. This should have been posted here: RationalWiki:Technical support. 2) Already answered many times: we have limited technical support at the underlying software level, and software is currently undergoing upgrades. Bongolian (talk) 00:05, 25 July 2021 (UTC)
@Bongolian Moved to correct spot.Gale5050 (talk) 20:25, 25 July 2021 (UTC)
Bongolian answered your question completely. We need a site upgrade to do this and then we need to configure the site to support this. The former is the big deal and we're still waiting for a migration. (Tim started the process on a test wiki but from what I gather it might as well have stagnated into obsoletion). Techpriest (talk) 20:38, 25 July 2021 (UTC)