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Messages - JeanTate

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Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 09, 2014, 03:58:15 pm »
If someone reports a PM in the forum, then the admins (not the moderators) are able to read the PM, as far as I know. I wonder, how that works technically? Do the admins receive a copy of the PM, which is reported?

I can't comment on Talk, but by default the Simple Machines software that drives this forum does not allow Admins to read any PMs not intended for them unless it is reported by the recipient to them. They believe strongly in individual privacy. As with any database driven platform that doesn't mean someone with the right technical skills and access couldn't access the database. As Simple Machines say; For this reason, it is advised to not send personal messages that contain private information that you do not wish for anyone else to read.

So the admin would just get an email report which would contain the reported message and who had posted it so that they can respond and resolve the reported issue. As mentioned previously, we Mods don't receive PM reports.

Hope this is helpful  ;)

Thanks Infinity.

As far as I know, this is pretty much how it works in most, perhaps all, the well-known internet (discussion) forum platforms (e.g. covered in Wikipedia's Comparison of Internet forum software), albeit with minor variations.

The Zooniverse's Talk - both v1 (as still used by Planet Hunters, for example) and v2 (Galaxy Zoo, and more) - is, in the language of the WP article, proprietary. And as regards its Messages, it differs considerably; for example, there's only one recipient (so no Bcc: ability either), no ability to forward, and as zutopian noted, you can't report a Message either. Also, quite unlike any of those in the WP article, details of how Talk's Messages work are unknowable (unless you are a Zooniverse Developer)1.

ETA: and, as Hanny noted, you can't delete Messages (you can certainly delete PMs in commonly-used internet forum platforms).

1 Though with a lot of patience, you could treat it as a black box, observe the behavior and deduce likely rules (built in to the code). You could also visit GitHub.

Object of the Day / Re: Wednesday, 9 July, 2014: Colors, Spray
« on: July 09, 2014, 01:22:25 pm »
Thanks zutopian.  :)

DR7 ObjId 587742592547160124 is mentioned in three GZ forum threads (not counting this one): in Biggest cosmic trainwrecks - Mergers on August 19, 2008 by Jouke "Big mess  ;D" (no image posted); in Active galaxies with ionized gas clouds - more denizens of the Zoo on October 03, 2009, by mitch "posted several times before" and an image, also a link to DR7 ObjId 587742592547160123 posted; and in the Nice Merge thread, on February 14, 2009, by Anjin "Always worth a look" (no image posted; Hanny followed up with an image).

DR8 etc ObjId 11237668313772064831 is mentioned in only this thread.

DR7 ObjId 587742592547160123 is mentioned in four GZ forum threads (details later), which seems to be what mitch was referring to.

I haven't yet looked at the ObjIds of the red star.

Any idea how to find the AGZ ID(s) of images which contain any of these galaxies?

Object of the Day / Wednesday, 9 July, 2014: Colors, Spray
« on: July 09, 2014, 12:47:21 am »
Continuing in the 'good old days' style I used in last week's OOTD (Wednesday, 2 July, 2014: Depth):

This is centered on SDSS J134814.32+152538.1, which has a spectroscopic redshift of 0.057. I'd love to be able to say it - or its northern companion - has been posted before, by ... but I can't!  :'( I do not know how to easily go about finding all the relevant DR7, DR8, and DR9 ObjIds (if I had them, I could search this forum), and even if I did, I do not know how to search GZ Talk for any threads, posts, or comments on any AGZ object/field which may include them.

The bottom half of the northern galaxy (SDSS J134814.77+152550.2) is a very different color than the top half; is that because there's a tidal tail of thick dust across it (and none over the top half)? If so, why isn't the bottom galaxy equally red?

And what's SDSS J134814.58+152541.3, the pure red star in between? Is it just a foreground (Milky Way) very red star (M class perhaps)? or something associated with the merger (heavily reddened)? or ...?

Actually, I couldn't resist including another amazing galaxy:

That's SDSS J011821.34-025856.1, and it was noted by  trevor allen faller_ErrorDupUsername in GZ Talk on December 7 2012 8:17 PM. On July 7 2014 10:45 PM, zooite mendocinosunrise independently discovered it, saying (in GZ Talk) "what are the two jets coming out of the left side of this galaxy?" Super-zooite Budgieye followed up, and noted its resemblance to M82 (see the Bulge or outflow of gas? GZ Talk thread).

Zooite trevor faller posted this here, in the GZ forum, on December 09, 2012, 01:16:14 am: HALO?

Quote from: trevor faller  dont know if this is a foreground irregular with the flat galaxy showing through or a rather large halo

A few hours' later, paulrogers replied:

Quote from: paulrogers
Good question!  And I'll pose another possibility--perhaps it's the remnant dust cloud from a local supernova's planetary nebula that happens to be in our line of sight.

Unfortunately we have no spectra.  If we had separate spectra/redshifts from the eastern blue bit and the southern red bit we could determine if they're the same distance away and associated.  NED gives a single redshift (Redshift:  0.026635 +/- 0.000150) but Skyserver has none.

What do you think?

Oh, more eye-candy; M82 (source):

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 09, 2014, 12:10:38 am »
As a mod, both in the Forums and Talk, I can assure you that mods CANNOT read pm's of other people.
Thanks!  :)

That's very heartening to read.

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 09, 2014, 12:07:13 am »
Hey Jean,

The PM bug to which you refer (messages with no titles acting strangely) was pointed out to me by one of our Operation War Diary mods and has since been resolved, so you can now sleep easy. Though I genuinely find it hard to make a logical link between this bug and the kind of privacy breach to which you are referring. Users on v2 of Talk are now able to send messages with no title without it screwing things up as it did for you. Please let me try an assure you that you PMs are most certainly P, in all expected senses of the term, and that they will continue to be so in v3 of Talk.


Thanks Grant.

I just tried to send you a v2 Talk Message without a Title. I couldn't.

I'll send it to you with a Title.

I still can't "open" (or reply to) the Title-less Message I received.

"Please let me try an assure you that you PMs are most certainly P, in all expected senses of the term, and that they will continue to be so in v3 of Talk" (my bold)

Hmm ... are PMs encrypted? If so, how (what kind of encryption is used)?

Can anyone in the Development Team (or any Mod, or Scientist) read anyone else's PMs?

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 08, 2014, 09:31:15 pm »
Some comments, and suggestions, concerning Talk's "Messages".

First, some background.

Many years' ago, in a former life, I witnessed first hand a "PM disaster". A relatively small trade association, actively involved in standards setting, had its own website, IT team, etc. While in size it was smaller than the Zooniverse (~10k members vs ~1million; an IT team of ~a dozen vs 20+; etc), and while the damage was quickly contained (not least because the association was anything but 'open to the public'), what happened serves as a sober reminder of how fragile systems can be. The IT team had developed its own email server (etc), rather than outsource (etc). One night, a coder doing routine maintenance made a simple, but profound mistake; the consequence was that the email server broadcast all incoming emails to everyone in the association (fortunately not to every email address it had!). It took several hours' to get things sorted out (not least because it happened in the early hours of the morning of the majority of the IT team). As it was a closed group, and involved in the boring work of standards-setting, no particular, lasting damage was done (other than to the career of the supervisor who signed off on the email code).

Later, in another former life, I was involved with an internet forum based on one of the big providers [1]. This system had been around for a long time, had an installed base in the many thousands, and the 'man-hours' of effort that had been spent on its development and maintenance surely exceeded the combined total of everything Zooniverse by several orders of magnitude. Yet the system's PM (private/personal message) system was hacked, in hindsight ridiculously easily.

The point (assuming you didn't go tl;dr)?

Developing and maintaining a robust, secure PM system is vastly more difficult than even the most seasoned of developers imagines. I don't know the details - they are there for anyone to read (in GitHub) - but it would surely be a historical first if Talk's "Messages" system was indeed as robust and secure as that of long-established internet forums (such as SMF).

Before I relay my little 'scare', allow me to say a few words about why getting the "P" in "Messages" right matters.

True, they're called "Messages", not "Private Messages", or "Personal Messages". You'd think that would be a good cover if anything were to go badly wrong, wouldn't you? If the Zooniverse were a private club of even 10k, it surely would; however, as many Zooniverse leaders are extremely proud to say - repeatedly, in public - we are a million+ strong, public community. My understanding of the relevant privacy (etc) laws is that you need a lot more than simply leaving out the word "private" from "messages" to shield you if disaster strikes. And even if, buried somewhere in the EULA (or whatever), are clauses that explicitly say the Zooniverse has no responsibility, duty of care, blah blah blah, a massive breach/hack would be a PR disaster (besides, among a million people all over the world, surely there's at least one with a predisposition to suing?).

Now to my own, um, oddity.

Among the many Messages I have received is one I cannot "open". I can see what it says, and even who it's (supposedly) from, but I cannot reply to it or get it to 'open'. The particular Message has no Title; when I try to create - and send - such a Title-less Message, I cannot. Clearly this is a system feature. Yet somehow, some registered zooite was able to do exactly what the Messages system (and its developers, no doubt) surely thinks is impossible.

In short, a 'mal-formed' Message.

And what is a fave method for hacking into a system (etc)? To exploit 'mal-formed' {whatever}

Recommendation: do not develop your own PM system, Zooniverse developers; instead, outsource to someone who has a proven track record, or - better - link to the PM system of something like SMF's forum.

[1] It may have been vBulletin, I don't remember; it was not SMF (which this GZ forum uses)

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 08, 2014, 06:49:02 pm »
Hi All,

Just thought y'all would like to hear that tomorrow the team will be talking about the rebuild of Talk, and that myself and Brooke will be raising the points that have been discussed on this thread (along with this one on GZ Talk as a good place to start when considering what it should look like.

Thanks again for providing all this useful input!



That's very good news indeed, Grant!  ;D

What about similar threads in other forums/Talks? Such as Suggestions on how to improve RGZ Talk ...?

Also, I've been preparing a post on "Messages, yes, Private/Personal Messages, no" (how and why PMs may not be very P); I'll see if I can get it done today (I assume a serious look at how secure "Messages" are, in Talk, is on your agenda).

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 08, 2014, 06:45:14 pm »

3 In v2 Talk, I wonder how many zooites know that a mod is a mod across all v2 Talks, not just a particular Zooniverse project?

This is most definitely not true. Obviously you can be a mod on more than one project  ;), but moderators are assigned per project.

edited to add 'one'
I think the first time I noticed this was in StarDate M83, or perhaps Radio Galaxy Zoo, when this new MODERATOR wassock started posting!  :o Turns out, he (she?) is a mod in Planet Four. Then I noticed all manner of MODERATORs posting, who seemed to have nothing to do with the particular Zooniverse project.

Actually, would you mind testing that please?

I know you're a mod in GZ (v2) Talk, but not in RGZ Talk, nor AZ (Asteroid Zoo) Talk (as far as I know). Would you please go to each of these (or anyone v2 Talk, one you know you're not a mod on), and post an innocuous post somewhere? Then let us know, and we can go see if MODERATOR shows up next to your name.

Scratch that; I just found a post by you, Els, in RGZ Talk (here), and you're not a MODERATOR, so it looks like there were some changes made to v2 Talk in the last six months or so (I guess I could go to GitHub to find out what, and when ...). Also, just to be sure it isn't just you, this Plankton Portal Talk thread contains several posts by yshish, who is a MODERATOR there, and was also for a time in this GZ Talk thread (but is not, any more).

Which leads to another suggestion (or rather, a repeat of a suggestion already made, some time ago): at least add a "lasted edited on {date} by {name}" automatic text string to every post which is subsequently edited (perhaps allow 24 hours of notation-free editing). Talk is - or should be - a valid historical record, and unbridled revisionism (as is now possible) should be verboten. That includes, of course, keeping titles stable.


From GZ, AGZ00020gy (first image), and SDSS J011821.34-025856.1 from DR10 (the other two). In the discussion on this, over in GZ Talk, Budgieye says it reminds her of M82 (top; source); for me, it's that and a little like the Circinus galaxy (bottom; source):

What do you think? A serendipitous discovery?

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 07, 2014, 09:13:38 pm »
Partly based on this (link is to a v2 Talk GZ post), here are some more concrete suggestions:

  • write up the Zooniverse code of ethics1 in a clear form, and post it in a closed, stickied thread
  • clearly state efficient and effective ways of communicating with the Science Team, or its members, in respect of advice, suggestions, etc
  • write up a clear description of how each Zooniverse project works, in terms of selecting Subjects and Users, and recording Classifications2
  • explain what roles and powers Moderators have, how they are selected, and who they are3
  • provide clear advice on what an individual zooite can do to protect their privacy4

1 these can be found in many places on the web, but - oddly - nowhere in any Talk or this forum: "participants are considered to be “collaborators” not “users”; the work must contribute to real research; and projects should not waste people’s time" (source)

2 Arfon gives a lot of background in three Zooniverse blog posts (How the Zooniverse Works: Keeping It Personal is the final one), but much has changed, and there are even grander plans (e.g. Optimizing for interest : Why people aren’t machines, and Wrap-Up from the Workshop on Citizen Science in Astronomy)

3 In v2 Talk, I wonder how many zooites know that a mod is a mod across all v2 Talks, not just a particular Zooniverse project?

4 yes, there is a privacy policy, but as far as I know it's not linked to anywhere prominent in any Talk. Also, "However, if you have specific concerns, please contact us and we will see what we can do." which is nice, but there's no info on how to "contact us"!

How does passage through a foreground galaxy affect radio emissions from a background source? is a thread I just started, in RGZ Talk. It may be of some interest to zooites who read this thread too.

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 07, 2014, 03:00:08 pm »
Thanks JeanTate, I meant personal messages on Talk though... (I think...) ???
Oops!  :-[
Talk's PMs, hmm ... I think planetaryscience is correct; once you've sent a Talk PM, it's out of your control, even if the recipient hasn't 'opened' it yet.

But I just mean messages. Things I receive...! (Not sent ones I want back or deleted or whatever). ::)
Double Oops!  :-[ :-[

Same answer though; they cannot be deleted (in v2 Talk).

Maybe you could add that to the wish list (since we know at least one of those working on v3 Talk carefully reads this thread)? Aside from 'because it'd be nice', maybe add a reason why you think this would be a good feature ...  ;)

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 06, 2014, 10:52:56 pm »
Thanks JeanTate, I meant personal messages on Talk though... (I think...) ???
Oops!  :-[

Talk's PMs, hmm ... I think planetaryscience is correct; once you've sent a Talk PM, it's out of your control, even if the recipient hasn't 'opened' it yet.

However, there are aspects to Talk PMs which I am keen to discuss, but not just yet (stay tuned!)

Also, some good points made in your longer posts methinks. ;)

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 06, 2014, 09:24:00 pm »
I understand that this thread, and others about Talk in various Zooniverse projects' Talks, are being read by those in the Zooniverse team who are working on v3 of Talk. As such, they likely welcome further constructive suggestions (more later).

I have one such suggestion, or perhaps a series of suggestions.

Background: While there some important differences in the fundamental aims of a Zooniverse discussion forum and those of the many internet discussion forums which have been around for well over a decade, there are also a great many similarities. There is a rich experience base which we can learn from, in how best to organize and run such forums.

Here are some such 'best practices' which I think it would be good to incorporate in v3 Talk.

Clear Statement of "What this Talk is for": this is so obvious that it is often overlooked, yet it's surprisingly difficult to come up with a concise, highly pertinent statement. It's importance is in itself and for several other best practices.

Simple, Clear Rules: Of the Zooniverse forums, this one is the oldest. And we have survived pretty well, so far, without formal, written rules. However, we have had disputes, and some zooite members have been banned (I'm not counting spamsters; universally spamsters are detested, and perma-banned on sight). And more. The purpose of clear rules is to make the process of addressing disputes (and bans, etc) less arbitrary and stressful. And there are several good models, which are successful because they have evolved and thrived; e.g. CosmoQuest's Rules For Posting To This Board

Moderators: Again, it's so obvious that it's not often mentioned; we need some dedicated zooites to ban the spamsters and delete the spam, to merge duplicate threads, to move threads to more appropriate sections, etc. But what makes for a good mod? The experience of decades' of other internet forums is that enthusiasm is rarely enough, and often a poor criterion (in short, over-enthusiastic mods all too often turn into tyrants). What are good criteria? Time-zone spread, maturity (which is at least somewhat, but not perfectly, correlated with age, and gender), patience, ability to be - and appear - even-handed, that sort of thing. I think the jury is out on whether mods should have term limits.

Design: This one everyone agrees in important; a key aspect is a variation of the old 'form follows function'. In this case, the form (design) should follow the purpose (function), which makes the Clear Statement of "What this Talk is for vital. In GZ, we have a great many purposes, from two-way help and feedback ('how do I ...?', 'this button isn't working!', 'we fixed bug X', etc), to Collections, to dissemination of news, discussion, to collaboration, to education, to ... And we have zooites who range from never having heard the word 'galaxy' before to those who can write code to model gravitational lenses.

Admins: Site owners, or founders, often have the best of intentions; over time, however, they become less and less involved with their creation. How to ensure that the plumbing gets fixed when the landlord is absent? Mods can reschedule the date for the recycles to be picked up, but they can't hire plumbers. Admins are the people who work with the Mods (and owners, if they are still around) and Developers (you always need Developers  ;D) to get stuff fixed or improved. It goes without saying that an Admin role needs to be built in to the Design, just as the role of Mod is.

(that'll do for now)

The Zooniverse is proud of the huge number of zooites there are, and how many millions of clicks they've made. In those numbers is huge diversity: zooites are five, and ninety-five; zooites live in almost every country; zooites speak dozens of different languages; some zooites love English pubs, others detest them  :o; zooites are not machines. A Talk is a discussion forum populated by people, in all their wonderful diversity; it is not a place for machines.

Suggestions and Comments / Re: A thread to talk about Talk
« on: July 06, 2014, 08:20:11 pm »
Speaking of getting back on topic, can one of the Talk users enlighten me as to how I delete messages on there? ??? Thanks in advance. :)
You can delete your own posts; hover your mouse over the top-right corner, and you'll see two cyan links, "Edit" and "Remove" (you can guess the rest). At least this works in v2 Talk, which is what GZ, SW, .... use (PH is still on v1 Talk, as are a number of other Zooniverse projects, I think).

However, if the post you delete is the OP of a thread (and it's the only post), you cause a 'ghost' ... your thread still appears in the Discussion boards view, along with meta-data such as "last post"; but you also see "0 posts/1 participants" (and the thread is not clickable).

I don't know what happens if you delete the OP of a thread that has other posts, especially if at least one is not by you; it's possible this can lead to instability which only a developer can fix.

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