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This page is a more in-depth look at users' experiences while dealing with the Uncategorized Images. Uploaded in 2006 and 2007, they are best known for indefinitely clogging up the otherwise clean Special:Uncategorizedimages.

First deleted in 07, they left unchangeable duplicates on the wiki's software which haven't been fixed since.

Several users have tried to fix this issue, namely Nubis, Karke, Cheeseman and Rooster, before Linkthewindow and myself had a try at documenting all our experiences with it.

This is my own unaltered and deliberately unabridged (and messy) account of what happened:

First Encounter

The "Ghost" Images

  1. Image:39229141.jpg
  2. Image:PDA Badge.jpg
  3. Image:PDA Badge1.jpg

These images have been labelled as uncategorised for longer than I care to know.

I had a theory which I discussed with Link. I wanted to see an image get uploaded over the filename of one of these images, and get deleted. Maybe it would also delete all occurrences of the image on the wiki's history, or something like that. The desired outcome was the full deletion of the image off the wiki, and with it, the uncategorised label that appears on the special page.


Janus later tried the similar test by uploading the exact same image as the original, and conducted similar tests. Once these didn't work, she continued to remove all the related links from the image, then see if it would still show. Unfortunately, we had no success.


None of the ideas worked, and these notes are being kept here for archival purposes. The behavior of the images in this experiment may have some details onto what the problem was. Ross later explained that they had tried a similar experiment last year, with the same results. Maybe someone will crack it.

Second Experimentation

Small Revelations

After the failure of our last encounter with the Ghost Images, Rooster encountered me offering some guidance on the mystery. We had the following conversation, which added a lot to the mystery of the Ghost Images and why they can't be vanquished.

(taken from my talk page)

The images that just won't die.

On one of your pages somewhere you keep a small history of those three images that refuse to be removed from the lists despite being deleted. Well on Special:Unusedimages all three obviously show up (near the top), but better yet all three original files are on there and still recoverable. Mayhaps reuploading those original files, triggering a few updates in the job queue then nuking the images will do the job? Dunno, just thinking aloud here. -- User:The Rooster RoosterDragon User talk:The Rooster 21:01, 29 June 2009 (BST)

We have tried uploading the original files, and according to the revision history, Karek tried restoring a revision back in 2008, and by the looks of it, it didn't work :( I was always interested in just uploading my own images over it, but Link already tried that and apparently it doesn't work either. DANCEDANCEREVOLUTION (TALK | CONTRIBS) 01:44, 30 June 2009 (BST)
Wait, what did you mean by updating the 'job queue'? DANCEDANCEREVOLUTION (TALK | CONTRIBS) 11:56, 1 July 2009 (BST)
Wait a second, I've found out why they don't die, at leased. Check the actual code of the images, [1],[2] and [3]. For some reason, there are extra codes on the filenames, eg. %E2%80%8EPDA_Badge.jpg, which ties these images in the same group as the pages that similarly won't die ([eg. 7th Fallschirmj�ger Div.) Now, if we find a way to de-code the sections (%E2%80%8E), upload an image with those symbols, then maybe it would upload it over what the Wiki thinks the images are? I got some help via #batshit, they led me here, but only the first character is à but the others are undefined. DANCEDANCEREVOLUTION (TALK | CONTRIBS) 12:26, 1 July 2009 (BST)
...It's the hex code for "0xE2 0x80 0x8E (e2808e)". More info at [4] and [5]. Moonshine and Zbahnz tell me it may mean the uploader was from a country where the language is right-to-left and the code was automatically included into the upload? DANCEDANCEREVOLUTION (TALK | CONTRIBS) 12:32, 1 July 2009 (BST)
Agreed, after doing some investigation on php's function to encode URL's, it seems that is indeed the code for a left to right mark. The html code is ‎ so we can easily link to the right images.
Without Mark With Mark
PDA Badge Image:PDA_Badge.jpg Image:‎PDA_Badge.jpg
PDA Badge1 Image:PDA_Badge1.jpg Image:‎PDA_Badge1.jpg
39229141 Image:39229141.jpg Image:‎‎39229141.jpg

The upload thing appears to lose the code in transition though, might need a bit more thinking before we get there yet... -- User:The Rooster RoosterDragon User talk:The Rooster 16:32, 1 July 2009 (BST)

Uploaded the original PDA badge for another try. It appears as a separate listing on the unused files, so that's proof the the nicely named image which I uploaded is a different file from the crap one. All the old deletions are just deleting the nice file. The problem is all the links to the crap one are redirected by the wiki to the nice one. So some meddling around with the upload destination or some URL fiddling when deleting the image is in order. -- User:The Rooster RoosterDragon User talk:The Rooster 17:20, 1 July 2009 (BST)

Just tried fiddling around with the URL when uploading: and then attempting to upload yields:

  • File name has been changed to "PDA_Badge.jpg".
  • A file with this name exists already, please check Image:PDA Badge.jpg if you are not sure if you want to change it.

So it removes the mark, and then of course the filename matches the nice one. How did the image ever make it in the first place if it removes the stupid code? -- User:The Rooster RoosterDragon User talk:The Rooster 17:32, 1 July 2009 (BST)

... Maybe an older version of Wiki software didn't change the filename, then Kevan updated the software (after these images were uploaded), and the new software had a feature which did not allow this type of symbol use when uploading files? DANCEDANCEREVOLUTION (TALK | CONTRIBS) 03:41, 2 July 2009 (BST)
Probably, Bugzilla turns up lots of entries for inaccessible/undeletable stuff. They patched it but the devs had to manually run scripts to fix the pages that were already bad. So we're probably stuck with them. -- User:The Rooster RoosterDragon User talk:The Rooster 13:12, 2 July 2009 (BST)


In summary, this means that the wiki's recognition of the image (as seen, for example, here) is actually different to its related file location on the server (eg, here). This is because of the code infront of the latter's filename, "%E2%80%8E", which was submitted in the upload form with the original image name, upon original upload by uploaders AOR‎ and Johnny Reb. This code is the code for automatically formatting text to a left-to-right direction (automatically placed when the language of a computer is right-to-left, we can only speculate), and was accepted by the Wiki software. Unfortunately, the wiki software doesn't accept it now, which I theorise is a feature of a newer version of Metawiki which doesn't allow this to happen. Unfortunately, it means we can no longer properly upload over these ghost images, and they will most probably be here forever.


After hearing of this, I attempted the deletion of the image by changing the URL of the ghost image deletion command. Meaning, instead of having in the URL bar, I had I did that and then proceeded to delete. It didn't work. It just deleted the older version of the file that was uploaded by myself.


You never know, someday someone might finally crack the secret and have these images banished forever, but at leased now we understand the problem more, it seems like there are still open possibilities for the future. Maybe now they won't haunt us so much now we finally understand these images and the case under which they are here.

For those in the future

In the meantime, I've put a template, User:DanceDanceRevolution/ghost onto the pages so future users know the situation of these images, and where to go if they have any more questions.

Here is a checklist of things that you can or cannot do with the Ghost Images, and similarly a list of deletion methods that have been tried before. Note: You can't make these images categorised, no exception.. So if you solely came here for that, you may turn away and cry silently now.

Note: Until more experiments on pages are made, these are considered generally applicable to Ghost Pages.

You can:

  • Upload an image over the ghost image's "filename".
  • Use the image that you've just uploaded.

You can't

You can:

  • Delete the image that you upload in the place of the ghost image.

You can't:

  • Expect this to delete the original ghost image. This doesn't work under any of the following circumstance:
    • Orphaning the image (via usage and links)
    • URL hackage of the ghost image's true filename (As tried here).
    • Uploading the original image, either with the same filename (possible) or with the true filename (mentioned above in Book the Second, impossible)

You can:

  • View the original files, and their filenames, via Special:Unusedimages.
  • Use the following to bring up the image you uploaded over the original: [[Image:%E2%80%8EPDA_Badge.jpg]]

You can't:

  • Use the latter method to view the true ghost images. Only the ones you've uploaded in its place.
  • Use the image as a redirect to another page.
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