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Link to #wikimedia-tech from the WMF error message
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Description

The current WMF error message (viewable here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/& ) encourages people to join #wikipedia when the site goes down. This causes a flood of largely loud and unhelpful users whenever there is an issue.

To my knowledge, this was added years ago and has simply been kept in the error message without much thought. Nowadays, there are tens of people idling in #wikipedia and #wikipedia-en who can report any issues to the appropriate place.

The "You may be able to get further information in the #wikipedia channel on the Freenode IRC network." line should be removed and the other translations should be modified as well.


Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement

Details

Reference
bz16043

Event Timeline

bzimport raised the priority of this task from to Lowest.Nov 21 2014, 10:22 PM
bzimport set Reference to bz16043.
bzimport added a subscriber: Unknown Object (MLST).

fran wrote:

Done in r42252. Leaving this open, though, because a sysadmin still needs to sync. :)

martinp23 wrote:

This may be something worth thinking about a bit more. It's not necessarily a problem. Giving users somewhere to turn to for status reports is good, and #wikipedia/langvariants could provide that function. It's not really a great burden for the operators of the channel to manage (if done correctly), and realistically #wikpedia-en is hardly hit at all, so any "normal" users could move conversation there.

Issues in the channels have only come about due to bad management by ops - something that can very easily be improved. Wikimedia can give of itself a better impression to users if they can have some contact with people "in the know" (somewhat) when things go wrong. #wikipedia is perfectly able to do this, and do it properly, now.

(Having the seperate lang variants is good, as it allows people to get support in their own languages. Bear in mind that if a channel's ops find the whole thing too burdensome they can forward to another channel as they wish).

mike.lifeguard+bugs wrote:

(In reply to comment #2)

This may be something worth thinking about a bit more. It's not necessarily a
problem. Giving users somewhere to turn to for status reports is good, and
#wikipedia/langvariants could provide that function. It's not really a great
burden for the operators of the channel to manage (if done correctly), and
realistically #wikpedia-en is hardly hit at all, so any "normal" users could
move conversation there.

Issues in the channels have only come about due to bad management by ops -
something that can very easily be improved. Wikimedia can give of itself a
better impression to users if they can have some contact with people "in the
know" (somewhat) when things go wrong. #wikipedia is perfectly able to do
this, and do it properly, now.

(Having the seperate lang variants is good, as it allows people to get support
in their own languages. Bear in mind that if a channel's ops find the whole
thing too burdensome they can forward to another channel as they wish).

Indeed, liberal use of +m or similar and voicing those who have an inkling of what's going on is a much better idea than removing it altogether.

(In reply to comment #0)

The "You may be able to get further information in the #wikipedia channel on
the Freenode IRC network." line should be removed and the other translations
should be modified as well.

Well, some translations send people to other channels, so I would leave the decision of removal on people from such channel...

So, if they get an error they can go to irc and get told about the causes and estimated time of fixing. What's the problem with it?

Mind you, those 'largely loud and unhelpful users' are wikipedians too. What's wrong with them being there? Do they stop important discussions? Our channels get a lot more social on wiki outages, but that's just because there aren't have wikis to edit at that time.

The only channel where it might stop something important would be #wikimedia-tech but
*It's not published on any error message, its flood of people are insiders.
*It wasn't needed to +m it on the last downtimes, as it used to be done years ago.

Seems a problem of not being able to handle those users by the ops instead of a bug.

Reverted in r42273. WONTFIXing since we don't want to remove the link -- at present it's the best way to give people status updates.

mike.lifeguard+bugs wrote:

(In reply to comment #3)

Indeed, liberal use of +m or similar and voicing those who have an inkling of
what's going on is a much better idea than removing it altogether.

Providing another channel which *isn't* a discussion channel is probably a good solution here - one specifically for disseminating systems status updates and nothing else.

(In reply to comment #6)

Reverted in r42273. WONTFIXing since we don't want to remove the link -- at
present it's the best way to give people status updates.

Indeed we don't want to remove the IRC link until an alternative is provided, so let's change it to something that works better for users of IRC. I've provisionally set up #wikimedia-status on the assumption that'll be acceptable. If we're actually going to use that, ops will need to be added etc, but it is there now.

mike.lifeguard+bugs wrote:

+updated summary

martinp23 wrote:

Great change has taken place in #wikipedia with regards to opping practices. It remains difficult to manage the channel during times of downtime, especially with little or no support from sysadmins (if the channel gets particularly hectic, while +m might not be warranted, it is impossible to read both the channel and #wikimedia-tech).

A far better solution than Mike suggests is that the Wikimedia sysadmins go to the effort of creating some easy, quick to update and accessible method of telling users what is going on. Not many people use and are familiar with IRC - and I'd expect that for 90% of people who see the "site are down" message, their usual next step would be to (ironically!) visit wikipedia to see what IRC means! It therefore serves very few users as a means of providing status updates.

It would be relatively trivial for someone to create (yet another) IRC bot for #wikimedia-tech which could write comments given to it to either a blog or something like twitter (and thus an RSS feed). This would be accessible to many many more users affected by Wikimedia downtime.

An IRC channel is no longer fit for purpose.

mike.lifeguard+bugs wrote:

(In reply to comment #9)

A far better solution than Mike suggests is that the Wikimedia sysadmins go to
the effort of creating some easy, quick to update and accessible method of
telling users what is going on.

You should open a bug for that, if there isn't one already.

martinp23 wrote:

It is relevant to this bug. Just as a pretext, this suggestion from Mike comes without, as far as I am aware and *as yet*, consensus from the group contacts for wikimedia. It is not a solution. It is also far from optimal if we're using IRC at all as the current thing pointing at channels is slightly localised, and this is better than a "catchall" channel.

Thanks

(In reply to comment #10)

(In reply to comment #9)

A far better solution than Mike suggests is that the Wikimedia sysadmins go to
the effort of creating some easy, quick to update and accessible method of
telling users what is going on.

You should open a bug for that, if there isn't one already.

Run the status bot on the same servers that are (allegedly) having problems? It's turtles all the way down.

The broader issue is that "down" is a pretty vague term. Sometimes it can just be a mistaken user, other times it's a particular ISP or region of the world, and still other times it is all really down, though even then it can be completely temporary (5 minutes of not working before resuming normal operations inexplicably).

Personally, I don't care if Comcast in California is having routing issues, and I imagine most of our users wouldn't either.

I'm sticking with the original request that the line simply be removed.

martinp23 wrote:

bug 20079, as ordered.

mike.lifeguard+bugs wrote:

(In reply to comment #12)

Run the status bot on the same servers that are (allegedly) having problems?
It's turtles all the way down.

#wikimedia-status has a feed of sysadmin log entries, and /topic changes, feel free to point there. More info:

The bot actually runs on my own server, not the toolserver, so downtime affecting WMF or the toolserver won't affect that bot.

IRC is probably unknown to most users or at least difficult to connect to (you need to know what is IRC and have a client for it).
I would personally resolve this bug and wont fix it. Bug 20079 (link to twitter) provides a better, scalable alternative.

(In reply to comment #15)

IRC is probably unknown to most users or at least difficult to connect to (you
need to know what is IRC and have a client for it).
I would personally resolve this bug and wont fix it. Bug 20079 (link to
twitter) provides a better, scalable alternative.

There's also http://status.wikimedia.org/ now, which didn't exist when this bug was filed. I agree that IRC is fairly obscure and probably doesn't need to be mentioned in the error message.

FT2.wiki wrote:

Can we direct people to a twitter feed specifically for /significant/ notices related to Wikimedia status? Easy for any number of people to maintain, brief notes sufficient, up to the minute, and accessible via apps or via web page link in the browser.

Server error. <standard message>

Current status and updates can be viewed at:

  * IRC: <channel details>
         <http://web link> (web based)
  * Twitter: wikimedia-network-status
             <http://search.twitter.com/search?q=wikimedia-network-status> (web based)
  * Our external status pages: <list>

Almost-current versions of articles can be read from the following cache websites: <list>

Reopening. I think there's some information around which could be linked to.

(In reply to comment #17)

Can we direct people to a twitter feed specifically for /significant/ notices
related to Wikimedia status? Easy for any number of people to maintain, brief
notes sufficient, up to the minute, and accessible via apps or via web page
link in the browser.

That's bug 20079.
Currently, there's no such information on identi.ca/Twitter. The server admin log (@wikimediatech) mostly lacks such information; @DivaDanese gives some information but it's not something you can link, additionally @wikipedia randomly contains updates. But you only need to aggregate.
The easiest thing to do right now seems to use http://identi.ca/group/wikimedia : it's a quite clean feed; @wikipedia can learn to use the !Wikimedia tag; sysadmins can easily post updates from IRC using the same tag because Andrew recently added @wikimediatech to the group; if they don't do so, everybody can post updates and if they abuse the group they can be blocked.

  • IRC: <channel details> <http://web link> (web based)

#wikimedia-status doesn't work; #wikimedia-tech seems a better channel, because it covers all projects and (AFAIK) more languages. But I agree that it's better to remove it; otherwise it should point to the web interface, e.g. http://webchat.freenode.net/?nick=404-....&channels=wikimedia-tech&prompt=1

(web based)

Please link only to identi.ca.

  • Our external status pages: <list>

http://status.wikimedia.org/ is currently quite useless, but it can contain notices and so on (also from RSS), so it seems a good idea.

Almost-current versions of articles can be read from the following cache

websites: <list>

It's not a good idea to advertise other (for-profit) websites, and the error would become too big.

(In reply to comment #18)

#wikimedia-status doesn't work; #wikimedia-tech seems a better channel, because
it covers all projects and (AFAIK) more languages. But I agree that it's better
to remove it; otherwise it should point to the web interface, e.g.
http://webchat.freenode.net/?nick=404-....&channels=wikimedia-tech&prompt=1

A year later nothing changed, so I'm converting this to a bug to request at least this minimal, easy improvement.
Some users are trying to revamp the channel, now connected with the reasonably active [[m:Tech]] page and more welcoming for normal users because there are no more bots; in addition to the advantages discussed above, the devs often were unable to have timely feedback on subtle technical errors (like thumbs failures) and would use some more (direct) feedback, while there's plenty of channels for technical/emergency/development discussions.

(In reply to comment #20)

Related: Gerrit change #61950.

I don't know what changed since 2003, but it seems we no longer have places where to give more information to users? :)

I would support the idea of adding a link to a designated channel (#wikimedia-status) perhaps, rather than the main #wikipedia channel. IRC has proven to be a great way to communicate with hundreds of users during downtime and it would be disappointing to no longer have that.

I support a link as well. We could easily have the Webchat link in brackets. Should I make the patch?

(In reply to comment #21)

(In reply to comment #20)

Related: Gerrit change #61950.

I don't know what changed since 2003, but it seems we no longer have places
where to give more information to users? :)

Mark abandoned Tim's patch, but they removed the IRC link from the new error page that will be in use after the varnish migration: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/65570/2/templates/varnish/errorpage.inc.vcl.erb
Is this bug a WONTFIX?

It would be nice to have *any* informative link (other than bug 18903) on the error page, unless the idea is to raise chances that people click "donate" of course. :)

(In reply to comment #24)

Is this bug a WONTFIX?

That depends on your perspective, I suppose. This bug has already been marked resolved/wontfix twice.

Given Gerrit changeset 65570 and comment 0, I think the bug is technically resolved/fixed, but it really doesn't make much of a difference.

Related to Gerrit changeset 65570, there some was discussion that the line "It has a constant need to purchase new hardware." was dishonest, particularly followed by a donate link (the criticism being that most donated funds don't go to new hardware), but I have no idea if this issue is being tracked anywhere in Bugzilla currently.

Nothing to track here hence removing keyword, and no consensus that anybody (e.g. ops) could act upon, hence currently lowest priority.

It is unclear what this bug is about. Please reopen when there is consensus what should really be changed (nowadays, years later). Please use wiki for general bikeshedding or polls or what seems appropriate.

Meh. It is very clear what this bug is about. Per comment 24, however, I doubt anyone is ever going to revert Tim and Mark, so I'm closing this. People will just give to random IRC channels, we'll never know about it and there will be no need to care.