User:LArron/Guard dog

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According to Conservapedia:

Guard dog is the name of specially-written software which some senior administrators use to assist monitoring Conservapedia for vandalism.

It has the capability of automatically blocking editors in some cases, cases that it can determine to be likely vandalism. As the software doesn't have human intelligence, all such blocks will be reviewed by an administrator, and either lengthened if warranted, or cancelled if not warranted. If you are unfairly blocked by this software, please accept our apologies and bear with us until your block can be reviewed.

Its intelligent[citation NOT needed] designer (who spelt its name capitalised) was Philip J. Rayment, who describes it in his Parthian shot:

Guard Dog is the name of a program that I wrote to monitor the Recent Changes page on Con­serva­pedia for likely vandal activity, particularly from automated programs ('bots'). It was written in Delphi, and designed to run on the computers of the senior administrators. It included the ability to auto­matically block a user suspected of using a bot. However, in addition, it would sound an alert for other suspect activity, allowing the admin­istra­tor to invest­igate and take any necessary action, even if he was busy doing something else, without having to con­tin­ually monitor the Recent Changes himself.[1]

During its lifetime, 327 blocks were issued with the assistance of Guard Dog. 183 of these blocks are still in place.

Guarddog.png

Main problems[edit]

There were a few problems with the Guard Dog program:[2]:

  • It only worked under Windows Internet Explorer (but are there any administrators of CP who use the liberal Mac - or the communist Linux?)
  • Guard Dog seemingly screen-scraped the cp:Special:RecentChanges page[3], rather than using the MediaWiki API.
  • Most importantly: Andy didn't understand it.

Demise[edit]

When the MediaWiki software changed the display format of dates in April 2009, Guard Dog couldn't cope with it and started acting erratically[4], blocking any editor who made a comment.[5] TerryH, the only sysop to run Guard Dog, was away from his PC, which resulted in Andy temporarily stripping Terry of his rights until he could deactivate the program.[6] Andy expressed the opinion that he was "afraid to load it now."[7]

With Philip having left the project, there was nobody to update the program. To get it back on (its simplistic) track would have been easy, but PJR wasn't there to do so any longer. Although there was some discussion about buying a Delphi license and obtaining the source code from Philip, nothing came of it[8]. So it had to be put down. Guard Dog passed into the pages of history.

Nowadays, there is no automatic detection of foul play. And if an administrator (sysop) feels cornered, he (there is no she) switches to night editing mode.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. I was a Conservapedia Administrator - Philip J. Rayment
  2. To be fair, PJR is a train timetabler for a living, and doesn't claim to be more than an amateur programmer.
  3. Conservapedia Talk:What is going on at CP?/Archive173#Guard_Dog - "the binary contains the string literal www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Special:Recentchanges&limit=. It doesn't seem use the API at all; the actual blocking is done via index.php?title=Special:Blockip"
  4. Given Conservapedia's blocking record, it must have been bizarre behaviour.
  5. Screenshot of the resulting blocking spree
  6. Excerpt of TerryH's user-rights log
  7. TZB - the unreleased papers
  8. TZB - the unreleased papers