PSA: Mediawiki doesn't like . characters in MySQL database names

Or, how I spent about 15 hours debugging our MediaWiki installation at wiki.ucalgary.ca, trying to figure out why file uploads were mysteriously failing. We’ve got a fair number of active users on the wiki, and a course in our Werklund School of Education’s grad program is using it now for a collaborative project. Which would be awesome, except they were reporting errors when uploading files. I logged in, tried to upload a file, and BOOM, got this:...

June 20, 2014 · 4 min

battling spam on the campus wiki

The University's campus wiki, wiki.ucalgary.ca, is still run as a semi-stealth pilot project. This seems strange, after running it for 7 and a half years (first edit, December 11, 2004), but it's something I initially snuck onto a server, and it kind of grew from there. It's still running on an aging and borrowed/scrounged server, and I'm supporting it in my spare time. Which means, it's basically self-supporting. Which is fine, because the people that have been doing awesome stuff with it are a pretty self-supporting group....

June 26, 2012 · 2 min

Blocking Spam In Mediawiki

Too much spam garbage was leaking into wiki.ucalgary.ca so I wanted to beef up the antispam strategy a bit. Currently, the antispam setup is: Bad-Behavior blocks all requests to the webserver from evildoers (but I worry about false positives, so have whitelisted the entire UofC network) users must be logged in to edit (but anyone can create an account) SpamBlackList uses Wikimedia's blacklist to block edits regex rejects content with sneaky hidden CSS attributes ConfirmEdit adds an extra step if content smells funny, as well as providing a simple match-captcha on account creation SimpleAntiSpam adds an extra (hidden) step to trip up bots I followed some of the excellent instructions on the UMassWiki on tweaking antispam extensions and config: UMassWiki:Blocking Spam In Mediawiki - UMassWiki....

April 20, 2010 · 1 min

MediaWiki as a presentation application

I gave a presentation this morning as part of Faculty Technology Days 2007. I was asked a few weeks ago if I'd like to talk about weblogs and wikis, and I couldn't come up a reason why not, so they slotted me in. In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of thinking about weblogs, wikis, academic publishing, and being Open, Connected and Social. So I decided to try to subvert my presentation slightly, into a more open-content-is-good kind of talk (but still based on blogs and wikis for much of it)....

May 2, 2007 · 3 min

OpenAcademic.org - blending Moodle, Drupal, Mediawiki, Elgg

I must have blinked when this was announced, but OpenAcademic.org sounds like a perfect scenario. Development efforts to integrate some of the biggest open source tools used in online education. It sounds like the goal is to come up with a way for Drupal, Elgg, Mediawiki and Moodle to all play nicely together, in such a way as to be easily deployable and maintainable by even the smallest school. Rather than attempting to build The One True LMS, they're taking the approach of playing to the strengths of the available tools, and putting the effort into integration....

September 9, 2006 · 2 min

Mediawiki Spambot Blocking

Our little experiment at wiki.ucalgary.ca has been having some rough times. It's gotten so frustrating that I'd had to temporarily disable new account creation in a desparate attempt to thwart the automated spambots (which automatically create a new account for each edit so it's harder to roll them back). I've just updated the wiki to the latest and greatest Mediawiki 1.6.1, and one of the new extensions that work with this version is one called ConfirmEdit....

April 7, 2006 · 1 min

Sustained Wiki Spam Attack

wiki.ucalgary.ca has been under a sustained spam attack all day. What started out as a minor irritation has grown into something that is impossible to ignore. The spammer is somehow getting around both Bad Behavior and Spam Blacklist extensions (I've blacklisted their URLs, but they keep getting edits into the system). This is one of the more frustrating aspects of trying to do things in an open manner. If there is the slightest possibility that something will be subverted for spamilicious purposes, it will be....

March 10, 2006 · 1 min

Tikiwiki as a "secure" wiki?

One of the biggest questions I get from people who want to use wiki.ucalgary.ca is "How do I protect or lock a page?" I've had to respond with a gentle suggestion that the wiki is an open resource by design, but that doesn't go very far. There are valid reasons for locking down a wiki - ranging from sensitive information that shouldn't be In The Wild, to protecting privacy (K-12 collaborations can't have info about kids leaking onto the 'net for obvious reasons)....

February 3, 2006 · 1 min

MediaWiki Spam_blacklist Extension

I'd installed Spam_blacklist back in October, but we'd been getting the occasional spam attack since then, lately every single weekend. So I just dug into the Mediawiki config, and realized that Spam_blacklist never got properly configured on my server, meaning it was essentially running wide open. Crap. What a waste of time that was. Paul and I have removed dozens/hundreds of spams over the last few weeks, and I was assuming Spam_blacklist was enabled properly....

December 19, 2005 · 2 min

MediaWiki and Access Control

I've been asked by a couple of people about ways to restrict access to pages in wiki.ucalgary.ca. My initial response was often something like "wha? that's just wrong. you don't lock down wikis..." Then, they explained more about what they wanted to do, and why they couldn't just leave the pages out In The Wild and trust that it was private through obscurity. Things like collaborative student experimental writing, where it would be a Bad Thingâ„¢ if things like the Wayback Machine kept eternal snapshots of not-fully-baked writing, which could come back to haunt someone later....

December 13, 2005 · 2 min