Bhamwiki talk:Messageboard/Archive 2007

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This is an archive of discussions from 2007. For other archived discussions, see Bhamwiki talk:Messageboard archives. Current discussion is at Bhamwiki talk:Messageboard. If you wish to expand on a topic here, it's best to open a new topic there and link to the prior discussion.

Happy New Year!

  • I hope all my fellow BhamWiki editors have a great 2007! I would like to get together with ya'll, though I understand that many of the contributors don't actually live in Birmingham any longer. --Wheresdib 10:46, 31 December 2006 (PST)
    • Been fun in 2006, and '07 will be even better! Happy new year to all involved in this great project! - Patriarca12 15:19, 31 December 2006 (PST)
  • Happy New Year everyone. I was out of pocket over the holiday and will be busy at work the next week or two, so I might be scarce. I am planning to host an anniversary party on or around March 15 for all registered editors. I'm open to meeting up before then, but I wanted to go ahead and let ya'll know. --Dystopos 18:49, 2 January 2007 (PST)
  • Can I suggest it be on a weekend? Weekdays will generally not be good for me and, I suspect, others. But don't do it soley on my account. Belated happy new year, everyone! --Lkseitz 10:08, 9 January 2007 (PST)

Messageboard location

P.S. perhaps this messageboard should be on the Discussion tab so we have the handy "+" tab to add new topics with?

  • Done --Dystopos 11:59, 9 January 2007 (PST)

Thursday March 15

  • Anyone who is free for dinner on Thursday, March 15 is welcome to join me in celebrating the 1st anniversary of BhamWiki. Location to be determined (I'm leaning toward Chez Fon Fon). Note: we can move it to the weekend (16th, 17th or 18th) if more folks will be able to come.--Dystopos 13:31, 9 January 2007 (PST)
  • I want to make plans to be there, even if it's on Thursday. Right now, I'm thinking of using Friday to go around taking pictures for some of the articles I've written. I'm not picky about the where, I just need to know a definite when so I can schedule time off. Who else is coming? --Lkseitz 06:57, 18 January 2007 (PST)
  • So far it's just us. If you want to go ahead and schedule the time off, we can cast the date in stone. --Dystopos 07:45, 18 January 2007 (PST)
  • I should be able to show up on just about any night. The only other meetings I have during the week is a monthly meeting and I normally organize it, so I have control of it. I didn't see this earlier but I should be able to make it. I have never been to Chez Fon Fon so I hope Dystopos is buying! :-P --Wheresdib 10:30, 18 January 2007 (PST)
  • That depends on the turnout. I'll at least spring for wine. --Dystopos 11:56, 18 January 2007 (PST)
  • I will be there. I have scheduled time off on March 16th and plan to leave work a little early on the 15th. I probably won't be able to make it before 6:00 p.m., though. --Lkseitz 08:43, 20 February 2007 (PST)
  • I will send out an email this week to all registered editors who have contributed to more than one article, and maybe some cool ones that haven't. --Dystopos 10:01, 20 February 2007 (PST)

Location

  • I just found out that Chez Fon Fon is closed for dinner on Thursdays and Fridays. So... that means the location of our 1st anniversary dinner is up in the air. I'd like to stay in the southside/lakeview area. Here are my suggestions:
  1. Cantina (pepper place, casual latin-american, best in good weather)
  2. Surin West (good mild thai, casual)
  3. Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q (large menu, casual)
  4. Cobb Lane Restaurant (business casual, classic)
  5. Sol y Luna (business casual, latin-american)

Discuss here, and I'll send out a new e-mail with the location and directions as soon as we make up our minds. --Dystopos 10:55, 7 March 2007 (PST)

  • I vote Jim 'N Nicks though I am not sure where the one is now since they closed the one in Lakeview. --Wheresdib 11:09, 7 March 2007 (PST)
  • Oh, OK, I know exactly where that is. I didn't realize there was one there. Jim 'N Nick's will be the only one I'll be able to talk my wife into.  :) --Wheresdib 11:57, 7 March 2007 (PST)
  • I just ate lunch, but looking at all those menus made me hungry again. I prefer something casual, so my preferences are Cantina, Surin West, or Jim 'N Nicks. Of those, Jim 'N Nick's is the only one I've been to before. --Lkseitz 11:26, 7 March 2007 (PST)
  • OK, we'll do it at Jim 'N Nick's on 11th Avenue South at 5 Points. I'll call ahead to see about getting a large table. Based on what I've heard, we might have 8 to 12 folks. --Dystopos 14:08, 7 March 2007 (PST)

2000

If anyone was sheepish about adding the 2000th article, that's out of the way now and you can get back to work ;) --Dystopos 10:30, 10 March 2007 (PST)

  • I started to do Highland Avenue as the 2000th but got distracted by looking at all the pics of Highland Ave on Flickr.  :-P --Wheresdib 12:29, 10 March 2007 (PST)

365 days!

  • Congratulations, Dystopos, on a great first year of BhamWiki. The site ends the year with over 2,000 articles and (as far as I can tell) close to 10 regular contributors, without any advertising. This is the Internet at its best. I am proud to be a part of this project and hope to meet you and others tomorrow night at Jim 'N Nicks! --Wheresdib 08:09, 14 March 2007 (PDT)
  • Thanks. I'm pretty happy with it. At this point, the site is even useful to me as a resource, and we have dozens of articles I don't even remember seeing before. --Dystopos 10:19, 14 March 2007 (PDT)
    • Here's to another great year! Missing the 'Ham from the NC... Chris 12:11, 14 March 2007 (PDT)
  • I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night. I'll be the one in the Alabama Theatre t-shirt. --Lkseitz 18:40, 14 March 2007 (PDT)
  • I'll call them during the day to reserve a table for 8-10 and when I get there I'll ask for a few red balloons. --Dystopos 19:57, 14 March 2007 (PDT)
  • What time is this shindig tonight? Happy birthday Bhamwiki! --Wheresdib 05:53, 15 March 2007 (PDT)
  • 7:30 PM CDT --Dystopos 06:15, 15 March 2007 (PDT)

BhamWiki Birthday Party

Photo from anniversary dinner
Another photo from dinner
  • I had a great time tonight! It was nice to meet Dystopos and Lee, finally. And what a bonus to get to meet and talk to Jim Bennett and his wife, Andrea! We probably could have spent the entire night talking. I can't wait until Mr. Bennett's new book is out, it sounds like it is going to be a great resource for us here. I hope we do this again sooner than next year. --Wheresdib 20:18, 15 March 2007 (PDT)

Next meeting

  • That was fun. I think what we need to do is pick a weekend for Jim to give us a tour of the Tannehill Museum at the earliest feasible date. I'm free on March 31... --Dystopos 21:09, 15 March 2007 (PDT)
  • I will be in east Tennessee that weekend. And in Michigan the two weekends after that. I don't think we'll be free until the end of April :-( --Wheresdib 07:11, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
  • I'll try to arrange something for the weekend of April 28, if that's ok. I'd also like to invite the Magic City Flickr Group. --Dystopos 10:05, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
  • I'll check with my wife and will probably list it as a Geocaching event as well, since there are a number of caches at Tannehill (all of which I haven't found). Plus it will be interesting. That date sounds good for now though. --Wheresdib 11:18, 16 March 2007 (PDT)
  • OK, I went ahead and listed an event for April 28 at Tannehill on Geocaching.com. I didn't list a time, but I would like to do it around noon if that's ok with ya'll. And of course anyone is welcome. GC.com doesn't like to "piggyback" events, so in order for me to list it I had to take out any mention of BhamWiki or MCF, but that doesn't mean it isn't still "our" event. --Wheresdib 15:53, 25 March 2007 (PDT)

New server

  • We're moving today to a different server at Dreamhost. One with "lower load and higher uptime." Please let me know if you detect an improvement in performance. --Dystopos 06:41, 20 March 2007 (PDT)

BhamWiki mentioned in the Birmingham Weekly

  • I just picked up last Thursday's (March 22) Birmingham Weekly and we are mentioned in the "Eight Days Weekly Picks/Calendars" under (ironically) today's section. I don't think the link will work after they publish the next edition, so here is the blurb verbatim:
GET TO KNOW YOUR CITY:
Without even venturing outside (though, please, please, get outside in this 75-degree weather and see what you read about later) you can learn a ton about our tortured, beloved, conflicted, potential-rich and angst-ridden Birmingham. How, you ask? By consulting Bhamwiki – the Wikipedia-inspired site about all things Birmingham. Part of the Project to Document the Birmingham District (that also includes the snap-happy, camera-totin’ fiends at the “Magic City Flickr Group”), www.bhamwiki.com includes entries on everything from city history to the latest news on downtown landmarks – info all submitted by locals. Chronicling history as it happens, essentially. The site just passed the 2,000-entries mark (a posting about the Adamsville community of Docena) and is growing by the minute. Of course, democracy is not always perfect (SEE: “United States, current president”), so double-check the facts you find on Bhamwiki – you can always send in corrections. And let us know what you find!

--Wheresdib 13:18, 26 March 2007 (PDT)

  • No warning about that one. Cool. For what it's worth we saw a mild bump in traffic on March 22, serving 9,498 pages compared to a daily average of about 6,000-7,000. --Dystopos 17:34, 26 March 2007 (PDT)

April 28 at Tannehill

  • As noted above, we're planning to invite everyone from here and the Magic City Flickr Group, as well as the local geocaching community to meet up at Tannehill Historical State Park on Saturday April 28 to learn more about ironmaking in Roupes' Valley, to have a chance to meet each other, to share interests (history, photography, geocaching, etc) and to take photos of the site. No specific time yet, but most likely between the 12:00 and 4:00 window-of-opportunity. --Dystopos 17:39, 26 March 2007 (PDT)
  • The Geocachers will be meeting at 1:00 at a picnic area near the Iron and Steel Museum. Check out the geocache description for directions and other info. The park does charge admission and there is another charge to tour the museum. I will be hosting a "Geocaching 101" class if anyone is interested in learning more about this GPS-based scavenger hunt style hobby. We will be cooking hot dogs (courtesy of Clay Rickles, the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 321 in Hueytown and co-owner of Rainbow Paint and Decorating in Bessemer). Clay will also provide us with some tables and chairs, but if you have a camp chair, please bring it. Anyway, hope to see you all there! --Wheresdib 10:12, 12 April 2007 (PDT)
  • (as posted to MCFG) The Magic City Flickr Group and BhamWiki are joining the Alabama Geocachers Association for a fun filled afternoon at the Tannehill Historical State Park on Saturday, April 28. We'll meet and greet with the geocachers and [not] steal all their hot dogs at 1:00 PM outside the Iron and Steel Museum. Then those who are interested can tour the museum and visit the restored furnace site. Be sure to bring your cameras to document the park for the MCFG.

For those interested in geocaching, there are six or more unclaimed caches in the park and the association will have everything they need to introduce you to the hobby. --Dystopos 06:18, 24 April 2007 (PDT)

  • For the record, when you find the cache, the idea is to leave it there for the next person to find, you just sign your name to the logsheet, and there are sometimes trinkets inside the cache container you can trade for... but yes, we will have a "Geocaching 101" class that will teach you the basics, then we'll have tour guides who can help you find your first cache. Now we'll just pray for good weather! --Wheresdib 06:45, 24 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Can I get a headcount of how many people are going to come? We need to figure out how many hotdogs to bring. Right now I am counting about 30-40 Geocachers (including kids and spouses). We're being conservative (hah!) and bringing 100 hotdogs, so if the count from BW and MCFG is more than 10 we might need to rethink that. --Wheresdib 18:13, 24 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Flickr-ites are notorious for not RSVPing. You needn't plan on feeding them. If I had to guess, I'd say between 5 and 10 might show, but I haven't heard from anybody. Personally, I'm planning to get some Bob Sykes before I come. --Dystopos 20:21, 24 April 2007 (PDT)
  • I'm afraid I won't be able to make this trip, which is a shame because I'd really like to try my hand at geocaching. (Like I need another hobby.) --Lkseitz 23:13, 24 April 2007 (PDT)

Parentheses for disambiguation

Well, this is embarrassing. I've changed an article name from "Parkway Drive Trussville" to "Parkway Drive (Trussville)". I thought it was more encyclopedia-ish and helps distinguish that "Trussville" is not part of the street's name but its location. Looking at the talk page, I see I proposed the non-parenthesized version in the first place. IIRC, I was merely following Dystopos' lead from a couple other places. What do others think about this change? Is it a good thing? Unneccessary?

Incidentally, this came from my expanding the U.S. Highway 78 article a bit. I decided if the individual road names of U.S. Highway 31 were going to get their own articles, Parkway Drive (Leeds) should too. Previously the Parkway Drive disambiguation page just pointed to Highway 78 for the portion in Leeds. --Lkseitz 10:01, 9 January 2007 (PST)

  • My lead will typically take you down a circular path. I don't have any direction on this issue at the moment. Let's keep thinking about individual cases. --Dystopos 11:59, 9 January 2007 (PST)

Succession boxes and interims

Okay, help me out with this. I've recently discovered Edna Snow acted as interim superintendent of Homewood City Schools before Michael Gross (1978–1985), after Robert F. Bumpus (1985–1991), and probably between the two. (But see Talk:Edna Snow for more on that.). Because I don't know who was superintendent immediately before or after these two men, I've added her name, marked as "interim," in the succession boxes on these two men's pages for now. I also have succession boxes for these two stints on Ms. Snow's page. That's a short term solution.

In the long term, what do we do about people who filled a position while a search for a permanent replacement was conducted? Does it depend on the length of the interim? For example, Andy Craig will likely have been interim superintendent for over a year by the time a permanent Hoover Superintendent is found. Or do such people merely get a succession box during the active period they hold the position and we remove it and take them out of the link chain once a permanent replacement is found?

The scenarios for Snow are this. Let's presume she was interim superintendent between Gross and Bumpus.

  1. She gets succession boxes as interim superintendent each time.
    1. Gross' and Bumpus' succession boxes both show her as interim both before and after them, meaning the user has to keep track of which row of succession boxes to use on her page to continue through the chain.
    2. Gross' and Bumpus' succession boxes only list the non-interim holders (each other), meaning Snow's are not part of the chain but are still handy for quick reference at the bottom of her article.
  2. Snow doesn't get succession boxes as interim superintendent, but of course that information is noted in her entry. She doesn't appear in the boxes on Gross' or Bumpus' entries.

I know there will be special cases, but I wanted others thoughts on this. --Lkseitz 15:09, 1 February 2007 (PST)

  • You might want to see how Wikipedia has handled it. I suspect that even people who serve for a day would show up in the succession box. In the cases where someone has served in between so many, though, I might be tempted to leave the succession box off that particular page and let it be explained in the text. --Dystopos 15:11, 1 February 2007 (PST)
  • I can't find a Wikipedia policy on it and my attempts to find some examples have not panned out. Any suggestions for examples? I tried CEOs of Time Warner, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart. The U.S. Presidents have nice succession box examples, but I can't think of any "interim" candidates. --Lkseitz 10:33, 2 February 2007 (PST)
  • Looking around, I see that Mike Price is fully accounted for in the Alabama Head Football Coach succession boxes. So are Scarborough, Ontario Mayor Ken Morrish and Omaha interim Mayor Richard Cunningham (even though he's a red link). I think it's best to generally include interims in the succession box, but where, as in Snow's case, that would just stack up a bunch of boxes, we could make the editorial decision to streamline somehow. --Dystopos 11:53, 2 February 2007 (PST)

Iron Bowl stubs

  • I will continue the Iron Bowl stubs next week. I don't want a mere stub to be the 1800th article and I probably should do actual work for once ;-). Of course, if anyone feels compelled to write one or some, here's a great resource: [1]. The information is very similar to the webpage I was using yesterday but was published in the Mobile Press-Register. --Wheresdib 13:29, 2 February 2007 (PST)
  • Make sure that 1,800th is a good one :) --Dystopos 14:14, 2 February 2007 (PST)
  • Please be sure to look at the articles I've written (or stolen) on these football games, teams, and coaches. I am not a football fan so I could be completely messing things up. --Wheresdib 14:15, 20 February 2007 (PST)

The Beatles?

As I was reading the wikipedia entry on the Beatles, I found this little tidbit: "...In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave, [John] Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that the Beatles were "more popular than Christ now." Afterwards, a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama, ran a story on burning Beatles records, in what was considered to be a joke. However, many people affiliated with rural churches in the American South started taking the suggestion seriously. Towns across the United States and South Africa started to burn Beatles records in protest." Does anyone know what radio station made that announcement? --Wheresdib 11:16, 26 February 2007 (PST)

I'm not sure, but it appears it might have been Tommy Charles of WAQY (scroll down to Birmingham Radio: 1966). --Lkseitz 11:38, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • Wow, you learn something new every day. I remember vaguely the "bigger than Jesus" quote but didn't realize that it was Birmingham that led the "ban the Beatles" drive. How silly. --Wheresdib 12:00, 26 February 2007 (PST)

Articles on tangential topics

  • This conversation makes me wonder about someday creating articles for BhamWiki about mostly-unrelated subjects which basically boil down to lists of all connections between the city and that topic. (Not too unlike our articles about years). So in this case, we'd have an article at The Beatles and then it would have a brief introduction and then go into the WAQY stuff and Timothy Leary's "Come Together" campaign, etc. .. Any thoughts? --Dystopos 12:19, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • I really like that idea. Somehow tying it all together would make sense. I personally didn't care for the Timothy Leary article since it didn't really focus on Birmingham, but if we could tie it all (and a Beatles article) together, in a way that it makes sense to the unintiated reader, that would be awesome. And it would be a great way of showing off BhamWiki, because that info isn't readily available, all in one place, right now. And that's what this site is all about, at least IMHO. --Wheresdib 12:31, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • Re: Timothy Leary: Those are hard articles to work on. I think it's important to have them so we can "show off" a bit and highlight our connections to bigger figures and events, but it's always an issue of proportion. I like to keep the basic summary and the important facts intact (Leary's publications, Terrell Owens' receiving numbers, etc) but try also to winnow down the amount of detail about completely unrelated parts of their lives. I think the Michael Jordan article is a better example, but that's only because I had a source with plenty of detail. So the process of improving those articles can cut both ways. As we add local info we keep stripping out the stuff that Wikipedia covers better. Also, you'll notice I have some things like Civil War and Works Progress Administration redlinked in numerous articles in anticipation of some kind of article about the impact of those events in the Birmingham District. --Dystopos 12:47, 26 February 2007 (PST)

Examples

direct linking to Wikipedia?

  • OK, this whole conversation leads me to a different question. On another wiki I frequent, they have it set up to where you can direct link wikipedia articles by typing wikipedia:Article Name inside double brackets. On the page it looks like you are going to a page inside that wiki but instead it leads you to WP. Is this something you would be interested in doing? I know you like to keep BW separate from WP, but in cases like Civil War, until we can pare that down into a Birmingham-area article, you could at least reduce the redlinks. --Wheresdib 13:00, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • I'm not as horrified by red links as you are, Wheresdib. They light the way to the future!. All kidding aside, I think it's better to create a page here, even just a stub, with a link to the Wikipedia article so that we have a chance to put it into some kind of context as well as invite improvements here. A direct link might make us feel like no article was needed. (And I don't want to start linking to every [[trivia:minor concept]] that [[being (philosophy)|exists]] on [[Wikipedia:About|Wikipedia]] just because we can. (So in instances where an inline link is appropriate, we can just use the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Link#External_links external link format] --Dystopos 13:20, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • I have to agree with Dystopos on redlinks. While they can be annoying (Hey, I wanted to know more about that!), they are also useful in seeing what needs to be done. I'm working on a site with a glossary where I define certain terms. At the end of most, I include a link to a Wikipedia article. I'd say we probably need to do something similar in the "External links" section. Easily linking within Bhamwiki to Wikipedia leads to abuse and confusion by users when they leave Bhamwiki without noticing it. --Lkseitz 13:33, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • One caveat regarding linking to Wikipedia in the external links section. For articles about truly-Birmingham topics, I hope we'll exercise our GFDL rights and update our own version as appropriate and use the link in the references section. The idea is that we'll have the superior article anyway. For articles about things where Wikipedia will always be more complete (Jordan, for example) the external link is justified. --Dystopos 13:52, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • I just suggested it because sometimes the need to know about something further is needed in an article. For example, we don't want to create an article about Montgomery here, that is outside our scope, but what if someone is reading the article about the governor or other lawmakers? A link to the Wikipedia article on Montgomery would be helpful without us having to create it here. It felt strange unlinking references to the city of Auburn when Bhamwikifying the Auburn University page. I agree that every single menial word shouldn't be linked here, but I was thinking more about articles that aren't within our scope but would help with related articles. Take Timothy Leary for example. Linking some of the cities and universities mentioned would be helpful to me without actually having to read the BW article on him, then flip over to the WP article to find more. That's just my $0.02. --Wheresdib 14:30, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • I encourage you to add inline links to Wikipedia where you think they would be helpful, but I think we should stick with the normal external link format to avoid confusion. --Dystopos 14:40, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • Duly noted. --Wheresdib 14:50, 26 February 2007 (PST)

Improving search ranking

As an experiment, I entered some search terms in Google to see where BhamWiki shows up:

Term Results page
birmingham Not top 10
birmingham alabama Not top 10
birmingham wiki 3
birmingham alabama wiki 4 (not main page)
wiki birmingham 5
wiki birmingham alabama 5 (not main page)

For all of these, Wikipedia's Birmingham page is in the top five results. Surely we can do better. A link from the Wikipedia page would help, but as a non-neutral party, I'm not going to add it. I might request it on the Talk page, though. We might also add the word "Alabama" a bit more (or at least higher) on the main page. This not only helps search results, but might help those unfamiliar with both the Birminghams of Alabama and England figure out which one we're talking about a bit faster. Then there's a couple things only Dystopos can do, like add a meta description tag and/or tweak the title on the main page (e.g. "BhamWiki - The Project to Document the Birmingham, Alabama District"). Of course, I don't know that anyone else cares about this, so I thought I'd toss this out and see what y'all think. --Lkseitz 09:53, 27 February 2007 (PST)

  • These are worth consideration to the extent we want to drive people to the site who merely have an interest in Birmingham as such (and we do). However, for those with specific interests in the things we cover well, we're doing pretty good (homicides birmingham - top result; mary anderson inventor - 3rd hit, wallace rayfield - top hit; wbrc 6 - 6th hit, wspz - 4th hit, rickwood field - 10th; birmingham black barons - 16th; 16th street baptist church - 17th). Since the main purpose of the site is to be useful, I'm pleased that google is directing people to us when we're in a position to be useful. As Lee has observed, adding links from the main page helps google find things, so I'll probably rework the featured article section more often. (and mention Alabama) --Dystopos 10:06, 27 February 2007 (PST)
  • I'll add it to the Wikipedia page, I don't really care. This isn't like we are advertising a business or anything. I just don't know exactly where to put it. --Wheresdib 10:22, 27 February 2007 (PST)
  • The relevant Wikipedia policy is Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. Full compliance would necessitate discussion on the article's talk page. The best location would seem to be the "External links" section. --Dystopos 12:24, 27 February 2007 (PST)
  • In related news, our PageRank recently climbed from 3 to 4. --Dystopos 12:27, 27 February 2007 (PST)

Traffic

  • The site has been seeing an increase in traffic recently and is currently ranked 704,970 by Alexa -- ahead of birminghamweekly.com (1,961,589), bwcitypaper.com (1,118,536), bcvb.org (982,094) and informationbirmingham.com (708,991). AL.com is ranked 9,990. --Dystopos 08:24, 28 March 2007 (PDT)
  • Update: Our Alexa ranking is now 526,009. --Dystopos 07:17, 25 April 2007 (PDT)

Dates

  • I would like to help out setting date pages up, but would like to know if we are going to have any sort of standard with regards to what to include and exclude from date pages. For example, should we include homicides for each date page? ‎Patriarca12 11:09, 4 April 2007 (PDT)
  • So far, homicides have fallen below my own inconsistent threshold. I would imagine that ultimately only notable sporting events would be reported, but right now they're helping fill out some thin dates. Among the things I've considered adding to the dates and years pages are relevant illustrations, a template for each month similar to the one for each decade, and a category for "year articles" to ease navigation. --Dystopos 12:47, 4 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Oh, and also I'd love to see a template on the main page that read the date articles and generated a "today in Birmingham history" feature. --Dystopos 13:24, 4 April 2007 (PDT)
  • For Wikipedia's date entries (e.g. March 15), they use this template, listing the entire year's dates. I can see arguments both for and against using it here. I'm guessing you want something more like this, but without the year and days of the week. And I'm afraid the template for a "today in Birmingham history" feature is quite beyond my abilities right now. --Lkseitz 10:11, 5 April 2007 (PDT)
  • I think it's feasible, but we might need to reformat the dates pages, or create parallel pages like March 15/todayinhistory or something that could then be referenced into a portal frame. --Dystopos 11:29, 5 April 2007 (PDT)
  • I’m thinking I will make a run at the years pages. Chronolgies are one of my big things.--MacroAlan 08:34, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
  • 1940 has been added. I am playing with 1941. My history in Bham ends in 1987, when I moved to Arkansas.--MacroAlan 13:07, 17 October 2007 (PDT)

Maps

This is primarily addressed to Dystopos, but others might be interested. Google Maps has a new feature called My Maps, which lets one "create personalized, annotated, customized maps using Google Maps." This is exactly the kind of thing Dystopos wanted for pages like List of Birmingham homicides in 2006, as it will allow many placemarks on a single map. The downsides are 1) the map will be a separate link rather than appearing in the article, 2) it would make BhamWiki very dependent on the Google Maps service (Some might argue the "locate" templates I've already created do that anyway.), and 3) each map would be owned by an individual unless we set up a group "BhamWiki" account (which would still have a different set of issues). I haven't played with My Maps yet, but it looked so cool I had to bring it to y'all's attention. --Lkseitz 11:15, 5 April 2007 (PDT)

  • I saw the announcement. I already have a Google Earth folder for 2006 homicides. I'll look into whether I can directly export that .kmz file into something that people can load in a browser on Google Maps (instead of needing the Google Earth application). --Dystopos 11:26, 5 April 2007 (PDT)

Status

You all have probably noticed that the site has been spotty again. I don't know a lot, but I know our overall number of connections and queries to the database is within acceptable levels; that our overall traffic bandwidth is within acceptable levels, and that the actual physical server on which bhamwiki.com is hosted is reported to be running fine. The friendly Dreamhost support team suggested today that it is possible that the MySQL database is "corrupted" and have I tried restoring from a "known good" backup.

  • Well, here's the deal. I don't know what's good. Dreamhost takes snapshots of the database daily and stores them for a couple of weeks. I suspect if there is something wrong in the database, that its much older than a couple of weeks. I've made my own off-site backups in January and last Sunday (Easter). I don't want to lose data just to see if that solves the problem. Losing data is a bigger problem than a slow site, in my opinion.
  • So... the only way I know for sure that I don't lose the most important data (the articles), is to save them all to my own computer as text files. Which I've been doing. I've got 255 so far and I'll keep doing it until I have all of them. I've focused on the most recent ones. I am backing up ALL new contributions in the same manner, starting now, and for the foreseeable future. Whatever becomes of this database, all articles will be preserved and will see the light of day. Please don't be discouraged from about contributing. (Also, I have backed up the images folder from the mediawiki install, so no actual image files are threatened)
  • Note: My failsafe method is intended as an absolute last-resort for the most critical content, to be used ONLY in the case that the database itself becomes irrecoverable. The method does not preserve the article history and it doesn't follow through with categories. This would technically be a violation of the site license, but if it's the only thing I can do, you'll just have to forgive me.
  • Second note: If you are so inclined, it wouldn't hurt to keep backups of your own contributions, especially things that will mean more to you than to the public, like your user pages. If needed, I have kept a private list of all user's login names and email addresses which I can use to re-create accounts if that ever becomes necessary.
  • Third note: If anyone wants to sit down with me and propose a better means of hosting BhamWiki, let me know.
  • And last: I appreciate your patience with me. I don't know much about these technical issues and I'm a slow learner. What faith I have is in the fact that the site is still, if intermittently, performing as expected with no apparent gaps in the database; in the fact that MySQL and MediaWiki have broad user and developer bases and that our content is not in some endangered proprietary format. --Dystopos 18:59, 10 April 2007 (PDT)
  • It's a daunting task, but you can use the Special:Export page to download pages with their entire histories. You can then use Special:Import, which only Sysops (you) have access to to restore them. I knew there was a good reason to track my contributions. --Lkseitz 20:35, 10 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Tell you what, if you can figure out how to get a list of every page, I'll try the export function on a full list and see what comes out. --Dystopos 21:59, 10 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Is that all? Special:Allpages. :-) I exported all the articles I've started (but not their talk pages) last night since I had a handy list. Doing the whole thing, however, is a bit much for my dial-up connection at home. --Lkseitz 06:50, 11 April 2007 (PDT)

update

  • I haven't learned anything more from Dreamhost today. The condition of the site seems the same - plagued with "internal server errors" and general sluggishness. I was, however, thanks to Lee, able to backup all of the articles in the main namespace using the Special:Export function. So I now have a nice collection of 82 .XML files with a few dozen articles each which, if need be, can be imported into a fresh wiki install. Most of these were exported with their page histories. I found it more convenient to export dense pages like the main page and the homicide lists without their histories, and then sometimes found that checkbox checked several pages later. But oh, well. I'm planning to continue saving articles as text files because that's the only thing I actually trust. Hopefully it won't come down to that. More later on any plans for attempting a fix. I'll continue backing up contributions as they are made. --Dystopos 16:31, 11 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Dreamhost is reporting that a database admin checked our database and that it appears to be fine (not corrupted). We haven't identified what was causing all the logjams earlier this week, but at least today things seemed to have improved. I'm still keeping copies of everything as a precaution. --Dystopos 20:20, 12 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Next task is to try to corrall the googlebot so that it doesn't index anything but article space. Initial research indicates that I'll need to "beautify" the URLs in order to make that easier. So whenever I do that there may be a little bit of downtime, but it should knock some of the peaks off of the loads that cause our server to return an internal error. --Dystopos 11:50, 26 April 2007 (PDT)
  • Looks like was more hotlinking going on than I knew about. Disabling the hotlinking of images has apparently returned over 200 "failed referrals" over the last 24 hours. Preventing this practice probably saves us some bandwidth, but I'm not sure if it will affect CPU usage, which has been our bugaboo. --Dystopos 14:38, 1 May 2007 (PDT)
  • Are you referring to the ability of people to link to BhamWiki images from outside the site? Guilty. (Photos are supposed to appear in those bubbles when you select a location.) Sorry, it was just an experiment (and an attempt to guide more people to the site). Guess I'll upload copies of those photos to my web site for Google Map purposes. --Lkseitz 15:05, 1 May 2007 (PDT)
  • Yes, that's what I'm referring to. And I'm not convinced it was problematic since our "bandwidth" usage is well below the threshold that should cause any problems or trigger any additional expenses from our host. Depending on how hard the server's CPU has to work to deliver an image file with a link that locates the file through our database, hotlinking could have been contributing to our "internal server error" problem. In any case, hotlinking has been disabled on the server by modifying .htaccess. (Don't I sound all knowledgeable now?). Yet to be tackled is the issue of googlebot's indexing of non-article pages, which I suspect is the main culprit in overusing our CPU. --Dystopos 15:26, 1 May 2007 (PDT)

Techmixer 3.0

I presented BhamWiki alongside the Magic City Flickr Group at TechBirmingham's "TechMixer 3.0" at the McWane Science Center this evening. Most people I talked to were very pleased to learn about the sites which make up the "Project to Document the Birmingham District". Just as many people, it seems, were interested in the 20" iMac G5 I brought to show them off on. I expect we'll have more people exploring the site, and hopefully some fresh contributors. Thanks in advance for everybody's help in welcoming people and encouraging them to participate. --Dystopos 18:54, 1 May 2007 (PDT)

Month templates

For the individual date articles, I've started creating month templates. (Template:April, Template:May, and Template:June so far.) I'd like some feedback before I put them on all the date pages. In general, do they look okay? For the first cut, I had the month name and arrows at the top link to "Category: X dates", but this proved to be clunky when doing between months. (You can see this with the April template still.) The new version (May & June) instead goes to the last day of the previous month and the first of the next. Does anyone disagree with this approach or have a better idea? Second, I'm questioning whether the month name should link to the category or not. It seems redundant. Opinions? --Lkseitz 08:49, 6 June 2007 (PDT)

  • They look great and work fantastically. I agree with having the arrows link to the next specific date (I can foresee that "February 28 >> February 29 >> March 1" might be confusing, but probably ok). I also agree that linking the month name to the category is redundant. Let's just leave that black. --Dystopos 09:55, 6 June 2007 (PDT)

slowness

  • I know that the site has been slow the last couple of days. I've taken action to block twiceler, a robot/crawler that was hitting us almost as hard as googlebot. Hopefully that will take some pressure off the server CPU until we figure out a way to channel googlebot more productively. --Dystopos 13:54, 21 June 2007 (PDT)

Error on October 22

  • Most of the site (with the exception of some of the "Special pages" was inaccessible for most of the day on October 22 (Black Monday). User:gt9606a did something mysterious to get it working again. If you see him, buy him a drink. --Dystopos 15:13, 22 October 2007 (PDT)
  • Somehow one of our MySQL tables got re-named "Bhamsite_stats_" instead of "Bhamsite_stats" (see the extra underscore), which triggered the error every time a page load tried to write to that table. GT fixed it by renaming the table again. I don't know why it happened in the first place. --Dystopos 15:18, 23 October 2007 (PDT)

Halloween

Aren't we past due to use the Main Page to draw attention to Category:Haunted attractions and Category:Ghosts again for Halloween? --Lkseitz 13:20, 23 October 2007 (PDT)

  • OK. I added the links and found an Octobery banner. --Dystopos 15:16, 23 October 2007 (PDT)

High school bands

With my creation of an entry for Pat Morrow, I got to thinking about the various appearances of local high school marching bands in nationally televised parades. This seems like prime material for a list, but how to phrase it? "List of Birmingham District high school marching bands nationally televised appearances" just seems too wordy. Breaking the list up into separate lists either for individual high schools (e.g. Homewood High School) or events (e.g. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade), while making the list name simpler seems like too much specialization. The former can be included in the high school's entry (or the band's, if it merits one). I like the idea of a three column list with the date, school, and event that can be sorted on any of those. So any suggestions for a better list name? --Lkseitz 15:36, 25 July 2007 (PDT)

  • The main thing is finding the references that would allow us to generate such a list. We can move it around until the name feels right (vis-a-vis Interstate hole) --Dystopos 16:00, 25 July 2007 (PDT)
    • Well as Homewood's was the first Alabama high school band in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we don't have to go back past the '70s. And I suspect the most recent stories on the Homewood, Hoover, and any other bands going to such parades might mention the previous appearances. I guess I'll get started, come up with a name, and we can go from there. --Lkseitz 11:48, 28 July 2007 (PDT)
      • I suppose I should have mentioned, for those not closely watching the Recent changes page, that this list was indeed created, with far too long a name, not long after my last message above. --Lkseitz 11:31, 15 October 2007 (PDT)

Faculty categories

We have an inconsistency in the various faculty categories. It currently is on a per high school basis . . . sort of. Some Birmingham high schools have their own faculty categories. The suburbs with their own school systems tend to only have one high school that's named after the city. So where do we put Birmingham superintendents? Because the suburbs only have one high school, their superintendents are in the "city's" faculty category. Do we need to create Category:Birmingham faculty and then put the schools as subcategories? We have to keep in mind all schools, not just high schools, as I know there are some Homewood Middle School principals in Category:Homewood faculty. --Lkseitz 11:45, 28 July 2007 (PDT)

  • It probably does make sense to group grade school faculty by system. --Dystopos 14:42, 28 July 2007 (PDT)

Fallout shelters

Fallout shelter sign

Should we have a category for buildings that were fallout shelters during the Cold War? Unfortunately, I only know of two: the Birmingham News building (1917) and the Alabama Theatre. I can offer an anecdote for the latter. There were still barrels of food and water stored around the Alabama until the late 1980s when the management asked the appropriate authorities to come remove them. --Lkseitz 05:57, 12 September 2007 (PDT)

  • If we can find a listing, sure. My recollection is that I've seen the sign on several schools, and on the Vestavia Mall. --Dystopos 06:57, 12 September 2007 (PDT)

Main Page

Is it just me or is the Main Page a little drab? On every computer I get on, when I access the site, you have to scroll down to see the Featured Images. Is there a way to move them up, or section off the page so they are visible without scrolling? --Wheresdib

  • I've moved the featured images up a bit and refined the introduction some. I also added a banner image at the top and modified the formatting for the "featured articles" grid. I think it looks a little fresher now. Thanks for the suggestion. --Dystopos 15:32, 22 October 2007 (PDT)

Ghosts

  • I am trying to find more ghosts in Birmingham, but the only ones I can find that aren't already on BW are at the University of Montevallo. Shelby County falls well within the Birmingham district but for some reason I have doubts about including them. As an alum of UM, we were told these stories over and over, so they are definitely part of the folklore. Reassure me that I should add them, please. LOL. --Wheresdib 05:22, 26 October 2007 (PDT)
    • I'm all for it, but I tend to focus on Shelby County more than other counties outside of Jefferson. --Lkseitz 05:55, 26 October 2007 (PDT)
      • Let the spirits guide you. (Go for it!) --Dystopos 06:33, 26 October 2007 (PDT)

Homicide maps

I know Dystopos was looking into this. Actually, I was thinking he'd already created one such map, but I can't find it at the moment. Anyway, The Huntsville Times has started a new crime blog that uses Google Maps. This includes a map of 2007 homicides in Huntsville. I thought it might serve as a good example. Maybe The Birmingham News will start one, too, and save us the trouble. --Lkseitz 06:59, 19 November 2007 (PST)

  • Not much trouble. [2] --Dystopos 14:25, 19 November 2007 (PST)

For discussion

  • "Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary." - George Orwell, 1984

366 Date articles

Format

  • I really like the format that Dystopos did on December 1 and will use it in the future if several instances of the same recurring event (Iron Bowl, Governor succession) occur on the same day. I thought I would open it up for comments from the BW community (all 4 of us) here. What are your thoughts? --Wheresdib 11:29, 26 November 2007 (PST)

Help needed

  • As of right now, I count 101 of these articles which still need to be written. Over half of December, and almost all of January, February and March need to be at least stubbed in. I am doing my best to get them done, especially the ones that are looming on the horizon, but I will probably be out of pocket for the next month or so. --Wheresdib 11:35, 26 November 2007 (PST)
  • Down to only 21 left in March! Should be done soon. --Wheresdib 13:17, 10 January 2008 (PST)

Duplicate articles

Jefferson County Maps

Look what I found via Wikipedia today! --Lkseitz 14:14, 9 June 2007 (PDT)

  • That's sweet stuff. I was able to download an editable .svg file and prettify it up in inkscape and photshop as an experiment. More work than I would undertake all at once, but it gives you an idea of what can be done. --Dystopos 21:54, 9 June 2007 (PDT)
    • Impressive! And far beyond my skills. --Lkseitz 10:49, 11 June 2007 (PDT)

Defunct landmarks and institutions

I was wondering if we should have an encompassing upper-level category for Category:Demolished buildings, Category:Former parks, Category:Defunct periodicals, and so on. In other words, a category for buildings, sites, institutions, and things that no longer exist. (We have one for people. It's called Category:People by year of death.) Something that would make it easy to navigate through "things that aren't there any more." I can't think of an all-encompassing name for it. It would probably break down into "Former landmarks" and "Defunct institutions", though. --Lkseitz 10:49, 11 June 2007 (PDT)

  • I wonder if you wouldn't just pop them into Category:History until something more specific becomes evident. --Dystopos 12:08, 11 June 2007 (PDT)

Infobox City

  • I've created another Infobox template, this time for cities and towns. You can see an example of it in use on the Homewood page. I thought I'd solicit feedback before sticking it on more pages. --Lkseitz 21:01, 25 July 2007 (PDT)
    • Let's try it out on Vestavia Hills with the seal centered top and the map filling space at the bottom. --Dystopos 06:38, 26 July 2007 (PDT)
      • Done. (What do you think?) And I learned something, so now the image attribute is optional on the school infobox template. So if any articles weren't using it because it lacked an image, that's no longer an issue. Speaking of the school infobox, should we add to it the background colors used in the city one? --Lkseitz 09:15, 26 July 2007 (PDT)
        • Looks pretty cool to me. Good work. Generally I prefer only the subtlest coloration. Let's stick with less is more for now. --Dystopos 11:24, 26 July 2007 (PDT)

Birmingham Barons

Another day, another template, for which I welcome feedback. Working on this template led me to do clean up of the Birmingham Barons article. It seems to be largely copied from Wikipedia. As such, it has some disambiguation on certain names. I'm wondering if any of this disambiguation is necessary on BhamWiki or if the links can be changed to just the names. The list follows:

  • Good observation. I'd nix the disambiguation until we find it necessary. --Dystopos 08:20, 23 August 2007 (PDT)
    • Thanks for updating the template. I've updated the Barons entry. --Lkseitz 11:58, 23 August 2007 (PDT)

Photo sources

Relocated to Bhamwiki:References#Images.

Civil Rights movement link

  • I was linking "civil rights" in the Temple Emanu-El article and discovered something; we've linked "Civil rights movement," "Civil Rights movement," and "Civil Rights Movement" in almost equal numbers. (See the Special:Wantedpages page and turn it up to the top 500.) Maybe we should create a stub with the "correct" capitalization so our links in the future will be consistent? --Lkseitz 06:59, 14 October 2007 (PDT)
  • Sounds good. Which one is correct? I think we got here because I keep thinking different things at different times. Wikipedia uses "civil rights movement" to discuss various movements, and "African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)", to discuss a particular one. "Civil Rights Act of 1964" would be capitalized as a title, but generally in texts, "civil rights movement" seems most common. I tend to go with "civil rights movement" in text, and "Civil rights movement" as the title. What do you think? --Dystopos 08:15, 14 October 2007 (PDT)
  • I was hoping you'd make an executive decision, because I'm on the fence as to which is correct. I searched the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute web site for "civil rights movement" and discovered they're not consistent either. I listen to the Grammar Girl podcast, and her episode on "Capitalizing Proper Nouns" makes me think that, since we're discussing a specific time period, all three words should be capitalized. In other words, we're typically using "Civil Rights Movement" as shorthand for Wikipedia's "African-American Civil Rights Movement." --Lkseitz 07:00, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
  • I am going to agree with Lee. "Civil Rights Movement" seems to be the best usage, not only to show it was significant but also an actual movement. You would capitalize "Civil War" when referring to the war that took place from 1861 to 1865 in America, even though there are lots of "civil wars" and "civil rights movements". --Wheresdib 07:30, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
  • As opposed to the "War of Northern Aggression." I agree, captitalize each word. Someone pick one for all of us. --MacroAlan 08:28, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
  • Looks like we have two fence-sitters and two actual votes. Therefore we'll go with Civil Rights Movement. Now... who's going to start writing the article? --Dystopos 10:03, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
  • Well since I started this mess, I've created a stub for it. I don't know that I'll have time to do more than that any time soon. --Lkseitz 11:07, 15 October 2007 (PDT)
I've expanded the stub. As our coverage of the movement increases, we can expand the article to put things into context. --Dystopos 15:20, 23 October 2007 (PDT)

Linking

I've noticed a lot of in-line external links to national artists showing up in the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival article and others. Links in articles which point to topics BhamWiki should cover are best created as internal links (in double brackets). In my thinking, external links are best reserved for the "External links" section which links to more information on the article topic as a whole. I understand that there are exceptions, and I can see that having a direct link to an artist who will never be profiled here does some service to the reader. I guess I'm not sure that BhamWiki needs to be responsible for selecting the most appropriate sites to link to. Any other thoughts? --Dystopos 06:58, 29 October 2007 (PDT)

Continued