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Contents

Notes & Queries

Jon Awbrey 22:08, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

τα δε μοι παθήματα μαθήματα γέγονε.
My sufferings have been my lessons.
Herodotus, in Liddell & Scott.


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\(\star\) Nota Bene. Jon Awbrey is phasing out his full-time participation in Wikipedia during the month of July 2006, doing a bit of housekeeping and setting his affairs in order with respect to a few pieces of unfinished business. He may check in from time to time on selected articles, but will not be able to keep current with the lion's share of his former activities, nor delve into the minutia of Wikipediatrics.
\(\star\) Nota Bene. Please place new messages at the bottom (\(\bot\)) of this page, and please do not be offended if messages go unanswered for long periods of time, or if old messages, answered or otherwise, are periodically deleted from this record.
\(\star\) Many regards, Jon Awbrey 03:00, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
27px Disgruntlement in a Nutshell 27px
Jon Awbrey expressly prefers the Wikipedia Model to other models for writing an online encyclopedia. The problem is that the Wikipedia Community, by and large, does not operate according to the espoused model, and shows no signs that it really wants to do so.

Das Beste

Das Beste, was Du wissen kannst,
Darfst Du den Buben doch nicht sagen.

The best that you know,
You cannot tell the Boys.
Goethe, Faust

Prospectus

Wikipedia is advertized as a project to write an online encyclopedia. Its purpose, according to a current fundraising appeal, is officially portrayed in the following manner:

Imagine a world in which every person has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

A project like that is impossible in a community that does not respect knowledge. Editors, reporters, and scholars who take their jobs seriously derive a sense of job satisfaction from adding each and every bit of knowledge they can to the work in progress wherever they work. Drives like that are the kinds of motives that the Management of Wikipedia affects to draw on in its advertizing, fundraising, and recruiting drives.

But no one who adds a bit of knowledge to Wikipedia can rest in the knowledge that it will be respected, much less that it will serve as a seed for the addition of ever more knowledge under the sum. The probabilities are just as great that any bit of knowledge one adds will be treated as a noxious weed and rooted out on the very next pass of the hoe, returning the state of the article in question to something less than the sum of what is known about its subject.

Why is that?

And the reporter who derives especial satisfaction from digging up facts that are not widely known, or the scholar who has spent a lifetime amassing a body of documented knowledge in this or that uncommon discipline, will quickly learn that it is simply not worth the ergs to cast these joules to the winds of Wikipedia. There is a near certainty that this kind of buried treasure will be crushed to powder and blown away by the very next tyro who finds the very idea of not being an expert offensive to his or her burgeoning ego.

Why is that?

And yet the impulse of novices to do this, to deny what they do not know and even to destroy what they neither appreciate nor begin to comprehend, is not beyond empirical expectation or humane understanding. That is why established communities of inquiry have developed routine methods for easing the painful shift from novice to expert. But Wikipedia borders on being utterly devoid of any such remedy — and those who identify themselves as the responsible authorities are far more likely to pour WikiPetrol on any book-burning they find in progress.

Why is that?

The answers to these questions cannot be found in what WP:Policy purports Wikipedia to be. What WP:Policy says is "all the right stuff", and even though many people criticize the fundamental policies, practices, and principles of Wikipedia, many others find themselves just as quickly supporting them in the main. That this should be so is not at all surprising, since none of these ideals and norms originate with Wikipedia, but all of them are borrowed from long-established ideals and norms of grounded and sourced research, which is the type of research that WP:Policy declares Wikipedia to be dedicated to.

Preliminary Observations

Like the Internet at large, Wikipedia is a meeting ground for many types of people. In their characteristic conduct with regard to the aim of building a reliable online resource, one may observe at least the following classes:

  1. Accurate Reporters
  2. Responsible Scholars
  3. Infantile Vandals
  4. Expert Disrupters

In the present state of Wikipedia, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of the Management are all skewed in favor of infantile vandals and expert disrupters while accurate reporters and responsible scholars don't stand a chance.

By rules in practice is meant the way that policies and guidelines actually get enforced. The sad thing is that the rules in principle espoused by offical WP:Policy state all the right ideas, but people who are born and bred to check facts don't have a chance against users who manifest a host of personal agendas that constantly interfere with the declared objectives of WP:Policy.

Some of the problems in Wikipedia practice are aided and abetted by the cultural legacy of the Infant Internet, when a more idealistic attitude toward the Internet community at large could be taken for granted. But those days are gone forever. Still, their naive ideals remain institutionalized in a number of Wikipedia's procedural policies and guidelines like WP:Assuming Good Faith and WP:Not Biting Newcomers. With due caution, such ideals may be worth preserving as regulative principles or just plain hopes, but Wikipedia Administrators appear to have thrown all due caution to the wind, rendering them the most naive dupes of expert disrupters who have learned how it easy it is to exploit their naivete. In short, Wikipedia is like email before virus protection.

One of the most striking observations that arises on reviewing the Exit Interview data is that almost none of the respondents argue in support of the principal content-regulating policies of Wikipedia, but nearly all of them beg to excuse the constant violation of these policies, in particular, their supersession by a degraded practice of pseudo-consensus, as being the only way that they can imagine doing things.

Another observation concerns the "Concensus" group whose vandalism on the Charles Peirce article continues to be winked at by the most contorted of eye-closing movements on the part of all other "observers". This group, like many POV-pushing cabals that one encounters on a daily basis in Wikipedia, insistently enunciates a particular reader model as if it were unquestioned Holy Writ. In fact their reader model is simply a disguise for their own POV and a pretext for foisting that POV on any article they choose.

Mediate Reflections

Working Notes:

  1. Automatic Deletionist
  2. Earnest Popularizer
  3. Unyielding Bowdlerizer
  4. Extremist Simplifier
  5. Knowledge Hater
  6. Inquiry Blocker

WikiPhenomena

Priority Inversion ⇒ A Puppet In Every Port

One of the systematic problems that I have noticed in WikiPedia is what I call priority inversion. Roughly speaking, priority inversion is when you spend a whole lot of time fussing over the dustbunnies under the couch while steadfastly ignoring the elephant in the living room. The WikiPachyderm in the WikiParlour is the proliferation of POV-pushing puppets, and the question of their meat-hood or sock-hood is not the main issue.

There are, as always, factors of motive and opportunity to be considered. The motive is apparently an overweening desire to propagate a particular POV, even at the expense of exterminating every other POV. But the opportunity is provided by two things: (1) the ease of creating new pseudonyms, (2) the prevalence of a priority inversion both in the leadership and in the community at large that allows content to be determined, not by the espousedly high priority WP:Policies of WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, and WP:VER, but by the lower priority procedural guideline of WP:Consensus, and then again by yet another inversion, a degraded species of "kangaroo concensus" that is really just the collusion of 2 or 3 editors or puppets over a half hour interval.

The result is a complete mockery of everything that WP:Policy says that WP stands for. And this is not some kind of isolated aberration but the day to day working mode of WP.

Deuteronymy

The WikiPractice of allowing psedonyms is largely undiscussable in WikiPedia, but a person who raises the issue will typically be squelched with some such tenet of WikiParochial faith as this:

None of the Wikipedia policies rely on knowing the true identity of the editors involved.

Not so.

The conditions that make it possible for reputable publishers and society in general to tolerate a very small number of noms-de-plume don't really apply to works of reference like dictionaries and encyclopedias, and far less to those portions of Wikipedia that aspire to the level of textbook surveys or journal quality articles.

Aside from that, many explicit policies of Wikipedia make neither grammatical, logical, nor moral sense if they cannot be interpreted as referring to the ethically accountable persons behind the usernames. The most salient of these pseudo-policies are enumerated and discussed below.

The most important such WP:Policy is WP:NOR, whose nut's hell statement is quoted here:

Articles may not contain any previously unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new analysis or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas that serves to advance a position.

The qualifying rider "that serves to advance a position" is evidently intended to create a link between WP:NOR and WP:NPOV, but it's a link that limits the scope of WP:NOR in a particular direction. Specifically, it shifts the burden of proof attaching to WP:NOR, granting a presumption of innocence to "any new analysis or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas" that does not "serve to advance a position".

But how do we know whether a new analysis or synthesis of published material "serves to advance a position" or not?

That is the question.

Like any WP:Policy or Guideline whose fair and equal enforcement would depend on knowing the real-world identity and affiliations of each editor in question, the aspects of WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:VER, and WP:SPAM that deal with advancing particular purposes are simply null and void. Just f'r'instance, nobody has any way of knowing for sure whether that editor or that cabal of evatars who are so insistent about imposing the POV of their favorite secondary source on an article is in fact the author or publisher of the work in question. What will be the result of attempting to enforce a WikiProvision of this type? The editors who are honest enough to use their real names will be at the disadvantage of the editors, their agents, and their evatars who are not. WikiPar for the course, of course.

Another policy or guideline that remains toothless without some means of knowing the Who that Horton hears is WP:SPAM. This guideline is well worth our examining closely because of its obvious analogy to the position-advancing hedge of WP:NOR and because it has recently been cast into the form of an explicit notice appended beneath the edit window for New Article Creation:

Wikipedia is not an advertising service. Promotional articles about yourself, your friends, your company or products; or articles created as part of a marketing or promotional campaign, may be deleted in accordance with our deletion policies. For more information, see Wikipedia:Spam.

To whom exactly is this notice addressed? That is, what are the intended denotations of the phrases "yourself", "your friends", "your company or products"? When the notice says "This Means You", who is it talking to, exactly, if not the true identity of the person addressed? Without the assumption that a real person is being addressed the directive is pointless, meaningless, null, and void.

Retrospectus

Jon Awbrey worked as a full-time participant in Wikipedia from 20 December 2005 through July 2006. Before he broke the edit counter in June 2006 he accumulated a total of 9482 edits, 6325 of them in the main namespace, distributed over a total of 1595 distinct articles. He had 5140 pages on his watchlist at last count.

Looking back, it is clear that straws had been piling up from the very beginning, but one of the last ones had to be the day that the WikiPiranhas attacked. The motives and triggers that drive a "school" of WikiPiranhas to their peculiar brand of destructive frenzy are still a bit mysterious at this writing. A few recurrent features may be noted, however, in the hopes that gathering a few salient clues may lead to a provisional explanation of the WikiPiranha phenomenon.

It's hard to know for sure what sort of person lies behind the sanguinary mass of pseudopodia that a school of WikiPiranhas will generate in its wake of wasted work. Many denizens of Wikipedia are known to exhibit all the traits of that college freshperson who has just gotten halfway through his or her first book or first course in a given subject area, and now feels qualified to write the definitive Wikipedia article on that subject. This in itself is admirable boldness and it is deliberately encouraged by the ethos-makers and lawgivers of Wikipedia.

The problem lies in what happens next, when that boldness comes face to face with the care and the caution of those who may have finished that book, or taught that course, and perhaps even started another. Should an editor with more background in the subject take the risk of correcting such a novice on a simple matter of fact, then either one of two things commonly happens: (1) the corrector may be thanked for the information, or (2) the correctee may resent the information with a degree of intensity that depends on the personality type of its recipient. It may have been the second thing, qualified by a high level of of resentment, that instigated the attack in question. The events surrounding this incident led Jon Awbrey to initiate an Exit Interview on the Discussion List for the English Wikipedia, with this Archive. Reformatted excerpts from this thread are listed in the Exit Interview section below.

Deus Irae, Dies Irae

I have been extremely puzzled by many of the actions of WP editors that I have observed over the past six months. All human communities have preachings that outreach their practices. All human organizations show the strains that arise from the gap between their actual conditions and their desired ideals. But communities and organizations with any capacity for learning at all normally value accurate information about the direction and the distance that separate them from their espoused objectives. And yet for an enterprise that so proudly declares itself dedicated to free and open knowledge, well, there's something more than normally wide of the mark in the WP ship of state.

One explanation for this severe anomaly has begun to press itself on my attention, and this is that a dominant sector of the WP community is actually afraid and not a little resentful of the knowledge they say they desire to get. It even appears at times as if this rate-setting mass of editors, despite its wider pretensions, harbors an internal opposition or an unconscious undermining of its conscious project with all the marks of an "Infantile Rage Against Expertise" (IRAE).

Summary

When it comes to knowledge there are (1) those who do not know, (2) those who do not want to know, and (3) those who do not want others to know. There will from time to time be other classes of people writing articles for Wikipedia, but they are rather relentlessly run out by the triple threat of ignorance enumerated here. That this happens is no longer in doubt — why it happens is still a question worth looking into, if only for the sake of future attempts to do what Wikipedia promised, but so tragically failed to do.

WikiPrescriptions

The WP:Policies that are purported to determine the content of articles are these:

  1. WP:No Original Research
  2. WP:Neutral Point of View
  3. WP:Verifiability

Taken together these three policies amount to a prescription for writing quality articles within the paradigm of grounded and sourced research. The quality of a Wikipedia article in its substantive aspect depends very directly on the extent to which these three policies were applied in writing the article and actualized in its present state.

WikiPrescription 1. No Original Research

Template:Policy in a nutshell

WikiPrescription 2. Neutral Point Of View

Template:Policy in a nutshell

WikiPrescription 3. Verifiability

Template:Policy in a nutshell

WikiPsychology

People who understand a little something about human beings, and even a few psychologists, know the catalytic power that even the tiniest sense of self-efficacy can have in transforming a human personality. It is altogether fitting that the ethos-makers of Wikipedia should nourish this sense of self-efficacy in its participants, giving them the immediate gratification, if not to change the world quite so fast, at least to change what is written about it.

But Wikipedia has a larger purpose beyond providing a feel-good experience for its participants, and feeling good at the end of the day about one's approach to the goal of writing an encyclopedia is a different order of gratification, never so easily taken for granted, and never so automatic or instantaneous.

So a scholar of more than a season or two who arrives on the shores of WikiPrecocity will naturally be surprised at first by the number of arguments that he or she loses, whether by arbitrary mediation or popular consensus, to someone whose argument begins, "I am not an expert but ...", and yet time will tell the person who is modestly familiar with a given subject that this argument from ignorance is so WikiPrevalent that the best way to come out the winner of a dis-content argument is to pretend to know nothing about the subject. And it helps to avoid citing any sources outside the realm of popular fiction, as this will only incur the wrath of the anti-intellectual in non-elitist clothing. With long pretending the pretense naturally tends toward truth.

There is a big difference between non-elitism and anti-intellectualism, but large and growing portions of the WikiPulpiteers seem to have lost sight of it, or perhaps never to have known it. The objective of making the sum of human knowledge available to every person cannot be carried out by people who exhibit the antipathy to learning that so many WikiPundits currently manifest. You see it every time you try to add a tiny bit of what's known in any standard literature to the edge of what's currently summarized in Wikipedia and find yourself running into the most WikiPetulant of obstacles to the very idea that a self-elected new elite should be required to acknowledge that.

WikiPedagogy

As used here, the term WikiPedagogy refers not to the educational aspect of WikiPedia articles but to the process of educating new participants in the espoused policies and guidelines that ostensibly define positive participation in the project of developing an online encyclopedia.

WikiPolitics

WikiPathologies

In those regions of its content where Wikipedia departs from the content-defining policies of WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, and WP:VER Wikipedia articles become nothing more than yet another uncontrolled, unscientific, and purely ephemeral Internet opinion poll on the topic in question.

WikiPathology 1. No Original Research

WikiPathology 2. Neutral Point Of View

The very idea that Wikipedia articles present a "Neutral Point Of View" (NPOV) on any subject that involves the least bit of controversy has got to be one of the most laughable, cryable assertions in all of WikiPedia mythology. The plain fact is that most WP:NPOV Disputes are settled when one POV declares that no other POV exists, and is able to defend that claim with the assist of 2 or 3 editors, or maybe 1 Administrator.

Just to provide one small hint of the problem, the list of articles where one or more editors are able to maintain the placement of an NPOV Dispute Tag on the article is collected on this page: Category:NPOV_disputes. This page had a backlog of over 2,700 articles as of 7 July 2006. This number is most likely a gross underestimate of the actual number of NPOV Disputes, since it is common practice for POV-pushers simply to remove the POV tags that are placed by any editors who defend a minority opinion. Consequently, there is very little chance that disputes about bias will be settled by any means external to the editors who take a special interest in the article. And what rules there is simply the rule of Kangaroo Concensus.

WikiPathology 3. Verifiability

There are regions of Wikipedia that will continue to be useful because they attract communities of dedicated fact-freaks who care about their special interest areas and are vigilant about enforcing sound principles of verifiability. For some odd reason, whose critique is forthcoming, these conditions are more often met in fanzine areas like the Star Trek Universe than they are in areas of ostensibly real-world scholarship and reportage like philosophy and politics.

Many Wikipedia articles begin as what appear to be personal opinion pieces, borrowing heavily and often without proper attribution from popularizations, other encyclopedias, webicles, weblogs, and so on down the pike. This is not a permanent defect so long as the quality, reliability, sourcing, and verifiabilty of the article continues to be improved over time by the body of users who are subsequently attracted to the page in question.

To cite a personal anecdote, Jon Awbrey was initially lured into the snares of Wikipedia by the circumstance that his routine Internet searches on subjects of particular interest kept turning up statements in Wikepedia articles that only near illiterates in those subjects would ever make. By near illiterate in a subject is meant someone who has read very little of the pertinent literature in that subject. In diagnosing the problem, it appeared that a lot of the biggest howlers arose from a contributor having read at most a single popular or secondary work on the subject and from taking its reductive capsulizations and textbook caricatures at face value for the authoritative truth. As a remedy for this condition, Jon Awbrey was led to formulate the following principles of attribution or truth in labeling laws:

  1. When we say that "P originated the Q-theory of R", the phrase Q should be one that P actually used, characteristically and as a matter of principle, to describe P's theory of R.
  2. When we want to report the fact that the source S describes P's theory of R as a T-theory of R, then we should say that "S describes P's theory of R as a T-theory of R".

WikiPriority Inversion

A priority inversion occurs whenever a highly-trumpeted or espousedly high priority policy is trumped in practice by what is espoused to be a lower priority policy, guideline, or unwritten rule. This is never supposed to happen, but when it does there are two very different ways that it can take place.

  1. The trumper truly believes, as a matter of principle, that the lower priority rule is more important at the moment in question.
  2. The trumper decides on a course of action from motives that cannot be declared, and then selects any convenient rule in the book, written or otherwise, as an ad hoc, post hoc rationalization for that prior course of action.

Trumped Up Pseudo-Consensus

Trumped Up Readership Models

Trumped Up Stylistic Excuses

Exit Interview

Nota Bene. This section is currently in draft, taking as its raw materials a sequence of postings to the WikiEn List in late June and early July 2006. A met-archive link to this thread, in reverse chronological order, is here.

In and Out of the Labyrinth

Post 1

After six months in WP I am totally fed up.

It is no longer worth the headache trying to write quality articles or to improve articles in this environment.

But I would like to post some of my observations in hopes that it might help out somehow, someday.

WP is a meeting ground for several types of people. The main types I've observed fall under these heads:

  1. Accurate Reporters
  2. Responsible Scholars
  3. Infantile Vandals
  4. Expert Disrupters

In the present state of WP, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of Admins are all skewed in favor of Infantile Vandals and Expert Disrupters while Accurate Reporters and Responsible Scholars don't stand a chance.

By "rules in practice" I mean the way that policies and guidelines actually get enforced. The sad thing is that the "rules in principle" state all the right ideas, but people who are born and bred to check facts don't have a chance against puppet mobs of pseudo-newbies, who seem bent on nothing short of making the world safe for their current state of ignorance. "Assuming good faith" and "not biting newcomers" are so much easier for Admins to parrot that it has rendered them the most naive dupes of expert disrupters who have learned how it easy it is to exploit their naivete. In short, WP is like email before virus protection.

This is one of the biggest reasons that WP's reputation in responsible communities has gone from "not especially reliable source" (NERS) to "dump of popular error" (DOPE). It is my impression from my acquaintances that more and more responsible scholars who buy into the ideals of WP in the beginning quickly find themselves dismayed by the realities, and just go away quietly after a short while of seeing their efforts go to waste here.

I really do hope that something that lives up to the stated ideals and policies of WP does come into existence someday, so I will try to put aside my present discouragement and focus on the kinds of experiences that can be converted into constructive critique.

Jon Awbrey, 18 Jun 2006 00:04 -0400

Post 2

Incorporating responses to:

CM = Charles Matthews

CM: Yes, editing WP doesn't suit everybody. And it is possible to leave, without feeling a need to blacken its reputation.

JA: The resistance to facing unpleasant realities is perfectly human and thorougly understandable, but real situations do not improve unless people squarely face the gap between ideals and realities. I am not such a newbie on Planet Earth that i have not faced constant disappointment and near-utter discouragement on a recurring basis, and I have survived long enough on Planet Earth to know that there is nothing for it, when the transient pain has passed, but to salvage what lessons can be learned from the experience.

JA: So, yes, it will be necessary in this parting feedback to recount a number of negative turns of events that I have experienced during my sojourn in Wikipedia. But the purpose of examining these incidentals is to find some means of learning from them.

JA: When CM says "editing WP doesn't suit everybody" does he mean WP the ideal, the ideals of WP, as set forth in its policies and guidelines, or does he mean WP the reality, its de facto way of operating in reality?

JA: That is the question.

Jon Awbrey, 18 Jun 2006 09:36 -0400

Post 3

Incorporating responses to:

CM = Charles Matthews

CM: Yes, editing WP doesn't suit everybody. And it is possible to leave, without feeling a need to blacken its reputation.

JA: I will try to stay focused on the task at hand, which is simply to provide clear feedback that might become useful at some time in the future toward the actualization of a worthy objective with which I continue to feel a certain degree of sympathy, even though my personal resources on its behalf are approaching final exhaustion.

JA: Accesses of strong feelings as I lay out this narrative are probably inevitable, and defensive reactions on the part of some of its readers are quite natural and to be expected, especially with those who share a strong bond of common identity with each other and the ideals of WP. Indeed, until just a few days ago, I was commonly found to be voicing many of the same apologies and excuses to my acquaintances with regard to the rough-jeweled state and the promise of WP, so I know most of these by heart.

JA: I do not know if the reputation of WP could be diminished any further among the acquaintances that I have discussed it with, but I do know that whether its reputation improves or worsens, it will be through the acts of the WP community as a whole, and not through my words.

Jon Awbrey, 18 Jun 2006 15:24 -0400

Post 4

Incorporating responses to:

SB = Sean Barrett

SB: Perhaps we can get straight to the point:

SB: What do you hope to accomplish by repeating the standard Mk.1 Disgruntled User Rant, modified only by the Gratuitous Use of Fatuous Initialisms (GUFI)?

JA: The purpose of an exit interview, as some organizations make use of them, is is to acquire from departing members an order of feedback information that for all sorts of humanly understandable reasons members are usually reluctant to share, or even proscribed from sharing, while still members of the group. A bit more directness, a bit more risk-taking, a lot less dancing around the bush, a lot less mincing of words, and in the case of WP, we can all drop that constant mental strain of trying to assume good faith of folk who behave like brown shirts, or brown sock-puppets in the current fashion.

JA: The frank exchange of views so far allows me to extend my classification:

  1. Accurate Reporters
  2. Responsible Scholars
  3. Disgruntled Users
  4. Infantile Vandals
  5. Expert Disrupters

JA: In order to learn from the welter of distressing phenomena that we are bound to encounter in any complex environment, and especially any system that involves large masses of interacting human beings, it helps to stand back a bit from the fray and try to guess what sorts of dynamics are driving the developments in question. Lately, I have found myself spending a lot more time standing aback and a lot less time writing articles, and so I might as well share a few of my more persistent findings, plus a few more speculative guesses as to what the hell may be going on.

Jon Awbrey, 19 Jun 2006 00:20 -0400

Post 5

Incorporating responses to:

RL = Roger Luethi

RL: I haven't run into this editor before and cannot make authoritative statements, but a quick search shows that he made over 6000 main space edits in half a year, nota bene in areas that we want to cover and where we need experts to help out.

RL: He does seem to be involved in disputes on quite a few pages, it's hard to see through the mess. One (apparently retracted) 3RR block on June 12.

RL: Based on my quick research I can't rule out that Jon Awbrey's problems are worth investigating.

JA: Thank you for your considerate attention. I will try to make constructive use of it, no matter how difficult the issues involved.

JA: Enough has been said about the ordinary uses of exit interviews. Indeed, just before my sense of futility became terminal, I had entertained the notion of starting a wikiproject to routinely collect the last wills and feedbacks of the dearly or direly departed membership in this conflagration, but I didn't yet know the ropes well enough to do that, and it doesn't look like I ever will. I believe a lot of useful information could be garnered that way, however easy it might be in some quarters to dismiss it all as the parting shots of disgruntled usurers and the socially net-warped. Still, I think it might be a good idea, if there is anybody who is up to the challenge.

JA: I started thinking about this idea when I happened across a page that was soliciting ideas for recruiting new members to Wikipedia. From the experiences of people I know who are involved in college recruitment, I know that one of the issues that develops over time is that sometimes too much attention gets devoted to recruitment at the expense of due attention being paid to retention, and it looks to me like a similar problem may be affecting WP. For sure, your rolls are no doubt padded with with many, many registered users, but how many of them are still actually participating in any significant way?

JA: It's something to think about.

Jon Awbrey, 19 Jun 2006 08:44 -0400

Post 6

Incorporating responses to:

JL = John Lee
SB = Steve Bennett

SB: What is an accurate reporter?

JL: And do define "responsible journalist/scholar". If you arrive at Wikipedia with preconceptions of how things should be done from past experience, and don't adjust these preconceptions, then you will of course have a difficult time fitting in, especially when our editorial norms are established for good reasons.

JA: Some people just seem driven to get the facts straight, no matter what they might have believed beforehand. That's my intuitive sense of what makes someone an accurate reporter or a responsible scholar. I think that most accurate reporters and responsible scholars that come to WP find that the 3 content policies embody fantastically well what they have already been born or trained to do, since the basic ideas of grounded and sourced research were hardly invented locally, but derived from standards and practices, indeed, from norms of conduct that have governed the life of inquiry for as long as it has been alive.

JA: So the "preconceptions" of this ethos are in pre-established harmony with the principles set forth in the 3 content-governing regulations of WP, namely, the policies of NOR, NPOV, and VER, and most folks who have been living by these rules in the grounded research portion of their intellectual lives feel themselves to be, at least, at first, very much at home.

JA: And what some of them, I'd never say all, get disgruntled about is precisely the extent to which the WP community as a real body fails to live up to what it espouses as its ideals.

JA: If the perceptions of these disgruntled masses are nevertheless accurate and responsible, then it's important information for the long-term health and viability of WP.

Jon Awbrey, 19 Jun 2006 09:46 -0400

Post 7

Incorporating responses to:

JW = Jesse Weinstein

JW: You've made 5 posts in this "Exit Interview" but haven't gotten around to explaining the details of what prompted you to lose patience with Wikipedia. This is, I think, what would of most interest and use to the rest of us. We've heard the generalizations you've made so far many times before - not that they aren't valid, just that they arn't news to us.

JA: Thank you for questions that go to the point. I thought that I went to the heart of the problem in my very first posting, namely:

In the present state of Wikipedia, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of administrators are all skewed in favor of the Infantile Vandals and the Expert Disrupters, while the Accurate Reporters and the Responsible Scholars don't stand a chance.

JA: That still seems like the best summary of my experience, but I've been spending the subsequent posts mostly just responding to what seems like a massive immune response on the part of the faithful, and it just seemed like it was necessary to go a little slower than I did at first.

JA: I may have been stalling a little while I waited for the results of a promised sock &/or meat-puppet investigation, but it looks like I shouldn't hold my breath waiting on that, so I will just say what I currently suspect, as already posted in my answer to the 3RR action.

JW: However, the particular examples of problems you had probably are news to most of us on the list, so explaining them might be helpful.

JW: Just glancing over your contrib list, you seem to be working on Charles Peirce and various philosophy articles, like Truth and Propositional calculus.

JW: One possible issue you (and many others) have had with dispute resolution at Wikipedia is that, as intended, they give no advantage to any side, requiring possibly endless argument, and in practice, the endless argument can be short circuited either by all but one side being blocked due to violations of norms of discussion (i.e. 3RR rule, personal attacks). Factual superiority (i.e. citing more, or having the books on your side) is only successful if you can convince most of the people who happen to be interested in editing the page. This is very frustrating for many good researchers who come across Wikipedia. Is that the sort of issue you had?

JA: I am used to controversy and dispute resolution, and if proceedings are instituted and conducted fairly, then I can take my winnings or losings and go back to work. But I do not think that the system in place in WP works that way, and I have begun to see the reasons why it never will. There are too many flaws built into the system at its very foundation, and everybody is just shutting their ears to the creaks and the moans of the structure.

JA: It may have sounded so far like I'm blaming Administrators, but all I'm faulting them for, at least, the ones that I have interacted with so far, is the fact that they seem to be acting on default assumptions that date back to another era in WP's life. It seems to me that the Expert Disrupters know the ins and outs of the system far better than any of the Admins that I've encountered, and they jerk the rules around like any good Washington lobbyist.

JA: I understand that the Admins are out-numbered and over-worked, but none of that would lead to despair. The thing that makes it seem so hopeless at present is that the admittedly noble principles of WP are just not embodied and insisted on by the WikiPopulace at large, and frankly no size army of WikiPolice could force that spirit into their "hearts and minds", as the fatal saying goes, if they just don't really have it imbued in them already. And that is how it looks at present. It's not a few Brown Sockpuppets that make the Reich, it's the rest of the population that thinks they see some short-term advantage to themselves in letting them do whatever the devil they want for "just a little while, and then we'll reign them in in the end". Yep.

JA: If you have heard this before, then you should think about the fact that you keep hearing it.

Jon Awbrey, 19 Jun 2006 23:34 -0400

Post 8

Incorporating responses to:

An Off-List Correspondent

JA: (I received a friendly off-list message, my response to which I will go ahead and post here in the hopes that a different stroke might work better for different folks.)

JA: Thanks for the friendly response.

JA: I'm a 50+ year old person with a solid lib arts BA, MA's in math and psych, lots of post-grad study in multiple fields, and years of cross-disciplinary experience as a statistical consultant where I specialized in constructing software and even philosophical bridges between sub-communities of researchers who had all but lost the ability to comprehend each others' ways and motivations.

JA: I understand about high ideals and non-elitism — I'm a onetime flower-child from a generation of non-elitists.

JA: But WP defeats me, and it's largely because it enforces a regime of dishonest communication, and it's gotten confused about the difference between non-elitism and anti-knowledge-ism.

JA: When I started out, I called a spade a spade. Things that any mature adult, not to mention trained scholar, would call obvious vandalism, manifest disruption, uninformed statements, or malformed citation are things that I described in precisely those terms. And all I got was one dire warning after another that you just aren't allowed to say those sorts of things.

JA: I have a life, periodic travel and the arts, I take the breaks that I need. I realized early on that some of the more generic and popular articles were a special hard case so far as their inertia against improvement goes, and I have a large number of non-pop articles that I normally go work on when the pop phil articles seem stuck in mud.

JA: But when a gang of sophomoric meta-puppets start tracking you back to your more quiet lairs just to wreak whatever destruction they can because you committed the sin of correcting their more obvious errors of fact, that anybody can check from the cites you give, or call them on their deviance from WP policy, and when the spineless cowardice or POV-serving connivance of the rest of the local community does nothing to stop it after numerous pleadings on WQA and RFC, then it becomes clear to any non-brainwashed person that this wiki has fallen and it can't get up.

Jon Awbrey, 20 Jun 2006 09:46 -0400

Post 9

Incorporating responses to:

SB = Steve Bennett

SB (Responding to Post 8): A couple of assholes means the whole system has collapsed? I don't think so.

JA: If you refer to Post 1, the assertion that I've made is that the system systematically defends and excuses the e-holes in preference to ones who e-lect to live by the rules, and, yes, it'll lead this body of p-articles to anti-material collapse.

Jon Awbrey, 20 Jun 2006 10:11 -0400

Post 10

Incorporating responses to:

MB = Matt Brown

MB (Responding to Post 8): I'd agree here that 'No Personal Attacks' gets over-used at times; used to stifle criticism of edits, which it should not. I haven't looked at the specific examples of disputes you've been involved in, however.

MB: Which is not to say that one should be impolite, but one should be allowed to be accurate.

JA: I don't like making assertions that I'm not sure about, and so I've been waiting for more data to develop, but one of the problems that I've been alluding to here is that it's gotten where we can't really be sure anymore, and may no longer have the resources to find out, when a supposed "newbie" really is a new user, and just how many ID's, IP's, and ISP's a given (ab)user is capable of arranging these days.

JA: So I guess I'll just try, in a very provisional way, to illustrate the general sort of near-worst-case scenario that could already be happening with the details of a concrete case that I happen to be familiar with. Here is the data of a 3RR charge that was levied against me, which will be easier to read at:

User:Jon Awbrey reported by User:GeePriest

Three revert rule violation on Template:Article. Template:3RRV:

Discussion

JA: There is some kind of problem with the initial link given above. It should be this one:

JA: User:Voice of All (VOA) posted the following notice on User Talk:Jon Awbrey:

Regarding reversions[1] made on June 12 2006 to Philosophy of mathematics

Please refrain from undoing other people's edits repeatedly. If you continue, you may be blocked from editing Wikipedia under the three-revert rule, which states that nobody may revert an article to a previous version more than three times in 24 hours. (Note: this also means editing the page to reinsert an old edit. If the effect of your actions is to revert back, it qualifies as a revert.) Thank you. Voice-of-All 08:44, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: Just got in from travelling, so I will discuss this situation tomorrow. Jon Awbrey 02:22, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: I subsequently posted the following message on User Talk:Voice of All:

Revert War at Philosophy of Mathematics

JA: Dear VOA, If you check the edit history and the old WQA's, you will see that I had until yesterday been voluntarily observing a zero revert policy and repeatedly begging for community help with User:JJL's practice of automatically mass deleting my contributions. So, thanks a lot for all your help. Insert <ironicon> here. Traveling for a few days, so radio slience until then. Jon Awbrey 12:50, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: I fully sympathize with fact that WP Admins are an overworked and no doubt sleep-deprived bunch, but let me just suggest a few of the things that WP Admins might think to check before acting on a report of this type.

  • I do not know if Admins routinely review the edit history links that they post in these actions, but let's now examine the instigating edit of the revert war that ensued, namely, this one:

JA: It is clear from this that the initial edit by User:JJL, accompanied by a derisive statement in the edit line, consisted in the mass unjustified deletion of an entire section of the article. I stipulate to the fact that it was inadvisable of me to indulge in repeated reverts, but it was late (1:45 AM) where I was, I was no doubt just a bit sleep-deprived, and JJL's edit line was not just false but inflammatory. All of my subsequent reverts were to the same point, simply attempting to remedy what I personally consider to be a type of vandalism, whether anybody else calls it that or not, namely, the mass unjustified deletion of good faith and fully cited text. Jon Awbrey 13:30, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: User:JJL's habitual practice of automatically reverting or deleting any contribution that JJL did not personally authorize, and the personal attacks that JJL resorted to whenever challenged about this conduct, have been the subject of my repeated entreaties on the WQA noticeboard, as shown here:

21 May 2006

  • Desperately seeking constructive guidance at Philosophy of mathematics beginning here on the proper use of {Verify} and {Drmmt} tags, what to do about a user who automatically reverts or deletes new material before beginning his own edits, proper application of WP:VERIFY, WP:ATTACK, etc. 15:34, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Addendum. I thought that a modus vivendi had been reached, but apparently not. One user continues to act as the self-appointed judge and jury of every contribution, but mostly just executioner. Some guidance, please. Thanks, 20:56, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Update. Reference point. Continuing personal attacks. Nobody who knows my efforts in WP is justified in charging me with trolling or vandalism. Please, help. 11:56, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

JA: Needless to say, since no hint of moderation from the WP community came in answer to these pleas, the very same practices by JJL continue unmoderated to the present day. Jon Awbrey 15:00, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: Another thing that WP Admins might think to check, besides the dossier of the defendant so thoroughly put on exhibit above, would of course be the dossier of the other user or users involved a revert war, and also the dossier of the accuser, in this case, User:GeePriest. Having done so, a wide-awake WP Admin might well ask: "What sort of Ostensible Newbie is to be found on the second day of his tenure in WP reporting other editors on Adminstrative Noticeboards? It's time for my lunch, so I will leave you for a while to contemplate your most likely hypothesis. Jon Awbrey 15:18, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: I will forego further comment on some of the above issues pending a promised investigation of Puppet Attacks on a number of related pages. But there is one further sticking point that I would like to set the record straight about.

JA: The notice that User:Voice of All posted here and on my talk page is carefully worded, of course, and I realize that it comes from using a standard boiler-plate, but it implicates User:Voice of All in a misleading insinuation, at least, one that an unfamiliar reader passing by my talk page might be misled by. Specifically, the charge that I "Please refrain from undoing other people's edits repeatedly" might lead people to think that I have no respect for other editors' work, when the fact is that all I did was to revert the mass unjustified deletion of article content. Thank you, Jon Awbrey 18:12, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: By way of clarification, I am not suggesting that JJL was engaging in puppeteering, merely that the entry of a 2-day old bona fide newbie on this noticeboard seems to be an event of rather low probability. I have been collecting data on this problem at the following location: Talk:Charles_Peirce#Last week I couldn't even spell "CONCENSUS", and today I are one. Thanks, Jon Awbrey 21:46, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Post 11

Incorporating responses to:

GH = George Herbert

GH: Ok, I'm sorry, but I don't understand what your complaint is here that is causing you to want to withdraw.

GH: You appear not to have been seriously or lastingly sanctioned for anything; GTBacchus warned both you and JJL not to 3RR/edit war, and then Voice of All blocked you for 24 hrs and then 2 minutes later, changed that to just a warning. I think it's clear that for the activities of the 12th and earlier, both you and JJL were in some way misbehaving, though you're the one who got slightly and temporarily bitten.

GH: None of that concludes the underlying content issue in JJL's favor.

GH: You essentially "got away with" a 3RR vio (block was changed back to a warning), which is unusually tolerant. You may not be very familiar with block policy, but generally only well known and apologetic editors are unblocked early after a 3RR 24 hr block. You were clearly by normal standards given the benefit of the doubt regarding whether it was serious misbehavior.

GH: Being blocked and warned is merely a symptom that you carried on the mutual edit warring with JJL for a couple of hours too long after the warnings. That's not a decision that you were all wrong and he was all right.

GH: I also think that you and JJL have not constructively engaged in discussion on the article talk page regarding the key points of dispute. Nor have you asked for mediation with JJL.

GH: This is not intended as a personal attack on you, but you appear to be an ineffective editor, in that you do not appear to understand the mechanisms Wikipedia is using here. Your perception that you're being picked on or driven away is an overreaction to what are really fundamentally mild warnings and reactions to your making some mild but clearly good intentioned steps across the WP policy line.

GH: There are cases where I believe longer experience "more popular" admins and editors have abused newer editors to some degree or another. But I think your claims here are unsubstantiated. If you cannot understand Wikipedia well enough to work with the system, then perhaps you should stop editing for the time being. But blaming the system, when it has not fundamentally mistreated you, is an excuse.

GH: The system is not perfect, but the system isn't the problem here. You have a perfectly normal, reasonable content disupute with another editor. You haven't been abused or pushed around. If you can't work within the Wikipedia rules to resolve the problem, then that is your problem. Thousands of other active editors are able to resolve these sorts of problems routinely.

JA: Regarding the assertion:

In the present state of Wikipedia, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of administrators are all skewed in favor of the Infantile Vandals and the Expert Disrupters, while Accurate Reporters and Responsible Scholars don't stand a chance.

JA: I don't want to argue the details of the specific 3RR charge. I have already stipulated that it was a "bad thing" for me to let myself get pulled into that, and probably wouldn't have let it happen except for the extreme circumstances.

JA: And I am not here to defend my individual self. I am speaking for what I know to be the generic attitude of folks who take things like accuracy and verifiability seriously, who do not suffer fools gladly, as the saying goes, when it comes to that. It's clear to me that most folks like that would have walked away, probably quietly but no less disgustedly, long before putting up with the kind of sophomoric toilet-papering that I have had to put up with on this score.

JA: I've already been told that the WP hierarchy thinks it can afford a high attrition rate among conscientious people, and that is confirming what I already said above.

JA: The fact that nobody has yet bothered to read the stuff that I have written in those WQAs, RFCs, and my answer to the 3RR is the thing that tells me that this place is utterly beyond hope.

JA: I will exercise the remainder of my responsibility to try and point out some obvious problems, and then I will get out of your hair.

JA: Let the sun shine in ...

Jon Awbrey, 20 Jun 2006 16:00 -0400

Post 12

Regarding the assertion:

In the present state of Wikipedia, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of administrators are all skewed in favor of the Infantile Vandals and the Expert Disrupters, while the Accurate Reporters and the Responsible Scholars don't stand a chance.

Incorporating responses to:

Rob (Responding to Post 11)

Rob: I'm sorry if you found our rules like 3RR and our dispute resolution process cumbersome and uninviting. As flawed as these may be, try to imagine what Wikipedia would be like without these rules. The 3RR is not that old, and prior to its implementation, edit warriors could revert a dozen times a day (I think the record I personally witnessed was 14) with impunity, a single edit warrior could essentially hold an article hostage for months. While it would be nice to summarily ban idiots or pov pushers or conspiracy nuts, etc., what metric do you propose we use to separate the wheat from the chaff? Who gets just three reverts and who gets more? How do we decide? It's not often that clear, and some trolls can talk a good game when they need to appear reasonable and sane.

Rob: I know from personal experience that it is frustrating to deal with stubborn nutjobs, and frustrating to deal with a system that treats you and the nutjob as equal players, but I haven't seen any serious proposal for a better system or one that doesn't introduce more problems, or reintroduce problems we've largely got a handle on. By and large, consensus works well. It can sometimes be difficult to get enough sane eyes on a particular article, but it can be done.

JA: If you read what I have written so far, it should be clear that I am not disputing any of the fine sentiments in WP:POLICY, nor am I disputing the 3RR action. I cited those details only because people have been asking me for more concrete examples of things that are leading me to say what I've been saying from Post 1. As far as reverts go, I try to use as few as possible, and in the case of really hot disputes I try as hard as I can to observe a Zero Revert Rule. And that is what I did from 16:03 on 20 May 2006 until the incident of 12 June 2006, when I let somebody get my goat, as the saying goes.

JA: That is not one of the problems that I am trying to point out. That is not the sort of thing that would lead me to postulate the conclusion that I've repeated for ease of reference above.

JA: I'm pointing to the fact that Infantile Vandals and Expert Disrupters have got the Well-Intentioned Folks, WikiPeons and WikiPolitburocrats alike, totally out-snookered in the current scheme of things, and I'm not seeing the requisite awareness or gumption to do a thing about it.

JA: Okay, maybe "totally" is too strong, but "seriously" at any rate.

JA: Having spent some of the increasingly non-productive time that I've been having lately in the WP environment musing on why this is happening, I have accumulated some guesses as to why, but this is already too mamy posts for one day, so I will save it for tomorrow.

Jon Awbrey, 20 Jun 2006 17:02 -0400

Post 13

Incorporating responses to:

MD = Maru Dubshinki
PS = Pedro Sanchez

PS: TELL ME THE TRUTH!!!!
  (sorry I couldn't resist)
MD: You want the truth?
  You want the TRUTH?
  YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

MD: Hey, if you can ...

JA: The truth is I came to WP to get away from discussion groups, their non-productive going round'n'round the same-old-same-old discursive circles with nobody really listening to each other, in a kind of mass solipsism that is always going nowhere but very noisly, and at first WP was refreshing break from that, as there was always the aim of producing an encyclopedia to focus one's xs energies on. Well, it's still possible to find a few places that nobody else cares about — yet — and to work on those isolated gardens of knowledge until the xpressway comes through, bringing the book burners and the brown sock puppets to trample it down into mush. But the problem with that is that the core articles that ought to be in a real encyclopedia are all becoming mush.

JA: And dat's da truth ...

JA: Cheers, anyway,

Jon Awbrey, 27 Jun 2006 09:58 -0400

Post 14

Incorporating a couple of exchanges with:

SB = Steve Bennett

JA: Okay, I get it, everything is just hunky dory in WikiParadise. Do not let the fact that WikiPedia wastes expertise the way a Bradley fighting vehicle wastes gas trouble you one teeny bit.

SB: Don't get me wrong, there are things wrong with Wikipedia, but you don't seem to be particularly effective at identifying them.

JA replies:

In a way you are correct, since the things that I have identified so far
are only the more superficial symptoms of a condition that I don't think
is likely to improve a bit under this regime of defensiveness and denial.
Either that, or I'm talking to people who have just been extremely lucky
in their own experiences on WikiPedia so far.  Or maybe the first attack
of the WikiPiranhas and WikiPuppets is just the standard initiation rite
of WikiPassage around here, and you're not really interested in the sort
of potential contributors who just want off the island after their first
encounter with the local Lords of the Flies.  It is always possible that
some folks just prefer that kind of culture, but it's a culture of waste,
and a dynamics like that always eventually catches up, and overtakes you.

Jon Awbrey, 28 Jun 2006 22:26 -0400

Post 15

WikiPediatrics 101. Diseases of Infancy
Major Syndromes, Section 1

In the present state of Wikipedia, the rules in practice and the prevailing attitudes of administrators are all skewed in favor of the Infantile Vandals and the Expert Disrupters, while the Accurate Reporters and the Responsible Scholars don't stand a chance.

JA: If I had to single out the single most serious symptom, the most critical systematic fault that I have observed interfering with the possiblity the WikiPatient ever recovering healthy functioning, it would have to be this:

Symptom 1. Inversion of Priorities (IOP)

JA: One of the more distressing aspects of WP's present condition, at least for the un-anaesthetized observer, is the fact that WP embodies within its basic constitution, namely, its most celebrated and clamorously espoused policies and guidelines, "all the right stuff" that it would take to return to health.

JA: Sadly, even tragically, "the vodka is good, but the meat is rotten", as that classic bytage of machine translation goes. So it behooves a "student of systems" (SOS) to ask about the reasons or the causes why.

JA: That will be the subject of this Section's inquiry.

Jon Awbrey, 29 Jun 2006 08:20 -0400

Post 16

WikiPediatrics 101. Diseases of Infancy
Symptomania 1. Inversion of Priorities (IOP)

JA: The pages on WP:POLICY clearly identify the three content-definitive and non-negotiable policies of WP as WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, and WP:VERIFY, reiterating three times over on each of their individually dedicated pages, with no substantive variation, the following norm of participation in WP:

  • These three policies are non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus.

JA: Pending a properly controlled study of WikiPediatric epidemiology (Proposal Pending), it is this observer's estimation that the most prevalent IOP is the one that inverts the priorities of the superordinate policies cited above and the unofficial dictates of what is here nomenclated as "De Facto Consensus" (DFC). The DFC must not be confused with the Genuine Consensus — defined as the absence of dissent — the DFC as it's currently observed in WP means that any three users, or evatars, coming to agreement in a half hour period, can impose their absolute dictatorship over the direction of an article.

JA: If it were merely a matter of educating users about the standardized meanings of the words consensus, non-negotiable, and so on, then there might still be some cause to hold out a few dim hopes, for a better prognosis or a gradual remediation, but if WP administrators continue to exhibit themselves, as they do in my experience, to be every bit as (1) ignorant of, or (2) indifferent to these principles, then that is a sign that the condition is terminal.

Jon Awbrey, 29 Jun 2006 13:20 -0400

Post 17

Incorporating responses to:

SB = Steve Bennett
DT = Daniel Tobias

SB: You seem to be constantly inventing new terms. Why?

JA: You seem to be constantly looking for things to talk about except what I'm saying. Why?

DT: Maybe because people are having trouble figuring out just what you're saying? Perhaps your points would be more understandable if you spent more time giving specific examples of things that have happened on Wikipedia that are not to your liking, rather than talking in vague abstractions using lots of odd terminology?

JA: Yes, that is a problem. I'm trying to summarize the types of things that I have seen happen repeatedly over the past six months, and I'm pretty much discounting the first month's experience when I was still learning the ropes.

JA: I wouldn't be bothering about it if it were just a few isolated incidents, and when I have detailed a few of these, the response is always the "few bad apples" defense.

JA: But these are persistent, recurrent, and systematic patterns of events that I've observed. The first dozen times you see things going haywire, and by that I mean people behaving contrary to the main Policies of WikiPedia, you think all you have to do is read them the policies and they will straighten up and fly right. But that is not what happens, and in my experience it only gets worse when you try to use WQAs, RFCs, and so on, and that is because the people who intervene do not bother to check the histories and do not care about the main policies either, but simply wing it on the basis of their own POVs and biases.

JA: In trying to understand a systematic problem, you have to try and come up with systematic hypotheses as to why the same damn things keep happening.

JA: I pointed to one sort of thing that I see happening over and over, and for ease of reference I gave it the name "priority inversion". A priority inversion is when people spend more time worrying over the dust under the couch than they do the elephant in the living room.

JA: One example of this is when 2 or 3 editors declare a consensus about an issue and use that to trump the major Policies of WP, namely NOR, NPOV, VERIFY, or the guidelines that are listed under the Five Pillars.

JA: There are two things that are wrong with this kind of tactic:

  1. It is contrary to both the dictionary definition and the WP definition of consensus, which means absence of dissent.
  2. It violates the main WP:Policy pages that say that NOR, NPOV, and VERIFY are non-negotiable and cannot be trumped by other policies or by editors' consensus, even a genuine universal consensus of local editors.

JA: For example, under the proper ordering of priorities a statement that is relevant and sourced should not be deleted in favor of an opinion that is unsourced just because the source is not the favorite writer of 2 or 3 editors or because the sourced statement contradicts the personal POVs of 2 or 3 editors. But this is actually the routine way that things are done in WP.

JA: Now, if you've never experienced a situation where the editors working on a given article engaged in this kind of conduct, then you have been very lucky, and you will not know what I mean. But I can only report my own observations that it happens quite a lot. What it means is that the quality of articles goes down in proportion to the non-compliance with the primary WP policies.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 00:08 -0400

WikiPediatrics 101. Priority Inversion

Up-to-the-Minute Con-Census Report

Inquiring minds of a more than ordinary WikiPersistence may find the following data of interest as they WikiPursue their WikiProbes into the more WikiPuzzling WikiPhenomena instanced below.

Post A

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

JA: For example, under the proper ordering of priorities a statement that is relevant and sourced should not be deleted in favor of an opinion that is unsourced just because the source is not the favorite writer of 2 or 3 editors or because the sourced statement contradicts the personal POVs of 2 or 3 editors. But this is actually the routine way that things are done in WP.

MR: Cite please — preferable at least a dozen or so of examples, they should be easy to find if this is really the "routine way" of doing things on WP. This is a persistent, recurrent, and systematic pattern in your emails that I have observed, you describe something that you claim is taking place without giving any specific and real-life examples.

JA: It's late, so here is one recent example of what I mean.

JA: This section had no sources at all for as long as it existed, so I went looking for some. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy has no entry for "consensus theory of truth". The Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Runes has an entry under "consensus gentium" that says it is Latin for "agreement of people", that it is "a criterion of truth" to wit, "that which is universal among men carries the weight of truth". When I wikied "consensus gentium", it turned out it was a synonym for "argumentum ad populum", and listed as a fallacy. Inconvenient for a criterion of truth, maybe, but I play 'em where they lie. I added the reference to the article, added corrections and details to several other references, and I also placed {fact} tags on two unsourced claims of attribution. All of these edits and maintainance tags were reverted by Feloniuous Monk with no excuse but "rv to last reasonable version".

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 00:40 -0400

Post B

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

JA: Citing cases of "Priority Inversion", in this case where a few editors declare their "consensus" as an excuse for deleting relevant and sourced information.

  • Priority Inversion: Case 2
  • Article: Charles Peirce
  • Section: Scholastic realism
  • Edit: Revision as of 01:49, 11 June 2006 by Wylie Ali
  • Line: (→ Scholastic realism - deleting section as explained on talk page)
  • Diff:

JA: Entire section deleted by "new user" Wylie Ali (incept date 8 June 2006). This section was well-documented with both primary and secondary source citations.

JA: The explanation given on the talk page by Wylie Ali is this:

Deleted Material: Scholastic Realism
It is clear from above that there is a concensus that this article is pitched to journal level and not general educated audience as it should be. For that reason and others, I'm moving the Sholastic realism section to here (for consideration ;-) ). Besides the fact that most of it is taken up with an interpretation dispute among scholars (and it takes sides in that dispute), the first sentence calls "well known" something readers will have never heard of and the second sentence is obviously POV. The second sentence also assumes wrongly that one who believes that reality depends on many minds instead of one is not an idealist. The part beginning "Third" is weird because if Peirce's doctrine is not about realism vs. idealism, then why did this very paragraph start out talking about realism vs. idealism? Why not leave the latter topic out of this section entirely instead of putting it in and suddenly saying well Peirce is not really talking about that anyway. --Wylie Ali 01:49, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: Note the spelling of "concensus". You will see it again.

JA: As far as I know, this section came in with an earlier Nupedia article by a recognized Peirce scholar that formed the initial material of the Wikipedia article. It is true that some of what it says is controversial among the scholars so affected, which is par for the course in any article about any philosopher worthy of note. Standard practice in WP dictates dynamic balance not wholesale deletion as a solution.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 10:10 -0400

Post C.a

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

JA: Citing cases of "Priority Inversion" — feel free to call it what you will — in this case being a situation where a few editors declare their "consensus" as an excuse for deleting relevant and sourced information.

  • Priority Inversion: Case 3
  • Article: Charles Peirce
  • Section: Peirce's philosophy
  • Edit: Revision as of 15:17, 11 June 2006 by LogicMan
  • Line: (→ Peirce's philosophy - delete quote. see talk)
  • Diff:

JA: Quotation deleted by "new user" LogicMan (incept date 7 June 2006). The explanation given by LogicMan on the talk page is as follows:

This quote is being removed because it is just one expert scoring a point off of others. The point it makes is made just below it more briefly anyway.
It is not sufficiently recognized that Peirce’s career was that of a scientist, not a philosopher; and that during his lifetime he was known and valued chiefly as a scientist, only secondly as a logician, and scarcely at all as a philosopher. Even his work in philosophy and logic will not be understood until this fact becomes a standing premise of Peircian studies. (Max Fisch, in (Moore and Robin 1964, 486).
--LogicMan 15:16, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: The quotation is from Max Fisch, a premier Peirce scholar. It was was added by another editor late in 2005. It makes an important observation, it is relevant, and sourced. The justification that LogicMan gives is partly speculative POV and partly false, as the same point is not made just below it. At any rate, there was no real discussion of its pertinence, and no attempt to arrive at anything approaching a local consensus.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 12:08 -0400

Post C.b

Incorporating responses to:

Rob (Responding to Post C.a):

Rob: Was this block quote really necessary? Why can't we just say "Peirce was primarily known as a scientist during his lifetime" and be done with it? And what's the big deal? Either way this argument goes, the outcome is relatively insignificant and the article as a whole won't be affected much.

JA: It is of course possible to discuss the relative importance, the proper format, and the proper length of any article content. There are several WP guidelines and heuristics that recommend how to go about doing that in different circumstances. Like any set of guidelines and heuristics they aren't a consistent axiom system, but live in tension with each other, from Be Bold! to Don't Be A Dick!, and thus they require common sense, good judgment, and attention to the details of the ongoing situation in order to be applied with good results.

JA: But it's not my present task to delve into content issues. The issue at hand is whether the Highest Priority Policies of WP are being followed in each case, or whether they are being superseded by Lower Priority Guidelines, or worse yet, altogether subverted by cynical mockeries of WP procedures.

JA: The fact is that good faith contributions by previous editors were not being respected, worked with, and modified, if need be, in the recommended manner, but simply being deleted wholesale under the guise of a "consensus" that was ever being declared by a small (but mysteriously growing) number of editors, with no real attempt at discussion except among themselves.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 12:40 -0400

Post D

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

Problem: Priority Inversion
Subtype: Pseudo-Consensus Overriding Big 3 and 5 Pillars

  • Priority Inversion: Case 4
  • Article: Charles Peirce
  • Section: Pragmatism
  • Edit: Revision as of 15:46, 11 June 2006 by AnnMBake
  • Line: (→ Pragmatism - editing for clarity and appropriateness to audience of generally educated as identified by Blainster)
  • Diff:

Edit by "new user" AnnMBake (incept date 8 June 2006).

JA: There is no question that the clarity of any article in WP can be improved, and some of the edit here is well-conceived, but in the process of trying to be concise it converts several accurate statements into misleading ones, many of them recognizable from pop philosophy books and non-peer-reviewed sources. In addition, it wholesale deletes the most important quotation from Peirce to have in any article about his philosophy, namely, his most often cited statement of the so-called pragmatic maxim. All of these features of the edit violate principles of Verifiability and Reliability that are stated in the pages satellite to WP:VER and WP:CITE.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 13:30 -0400

Post E

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

Problem: Priority Inversion
Subtype: Pseudo-Consensus Overriding Big 3 and 5 Pillars

  • Priority Inversion: Case 5
  • Article: Charles Peirce
  • Section: Formal perspective
  • Edit: Revision as of 16:09, 11 June 2006 by Wylie Ali
  • Line: (→ Formal perspective - deleting long intro. See talk.)
  • Diff:

JA: The entire contents of the section introduction, the part between a 2nd-level head and a 3rd-level head], was deleted by the "new user" Wylie Ali (incept date 8 June 2006).

JA: The explanation given on the talk page was as follows:

Removing intro to Formal perspective
I am going to remove the whole of the intro to the Formal perspective section for these reasons: It begins with two long (and too long ;-) ) quotations that won't be understandable to the audience of generally educated. Also, we are writing a secondary source, so it is our job to interpret and paraphrase so that the reader doesn't have to decode original material. The rest of it is original research about a "crisis" and the "life cycle" of a "symbolist perspective" that is not about Peirce. Looks like somebody has a thesis about symbolism, but they should submit it to a journal; not put it here. It suffers from the same writing problems mentioned above. I am not going to copy it here, since you can get it in the history. --Wylie Ali 16:08, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: This section had quite a long history that had been discussed with previous editors. It purpose was to place some of Peirce's projects in logic within the context of his times, partly by comparing one of his important statements about mathematical symbols with similar statements by George Boole, and other mathematicians of that era who had emphasized the role of mathematical symbolism. The rest of the section was written in response to a reader who had explicitly asked editors to make up a concrete illustration of the very abstract ideas that were being taken up in this section. At a time when I still imagined that the newly arrived editors were going to help improve the article, I had already pointed to this section as one of the "known bugs" in the article that could stand improvement, both in writing introductions and transitions for the long quotes from Boole and Peirce, and also in improving the concrete example given.

JA: The help that came was simply a deletion of the whole section.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 14:38 -0400

Post F

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

Problem: Priority Inversion
Subtype: Pseudo-Consensus Overriding Big 3 and 5 Pillars

  • Priority Inversion: Case 6
  • Article: Charles Peirce
  • Section: Logic as formal semiotic
  • Edit: Revision as of 16:25, 11 June 2006 by Wylie Ali
  • Line: (→ Logic as formal semiotic - removing two long quotes. See talk)
  • Diff:

JA: Actually, the "new user" Wylie Ali deleted 4 blockquotes and all of the associated text. One of the quotes + explanatory text, added by me, was a quotation from Peirce where he defines in his own words one the absolutely essential concepts of his entire philosophy. The other 3 quotes, added by another editor, I am less certain of how important they are. But the point is that the wholesale deletion of 2/3 of a section, all of it sourced, and some of it of surpassing relevance to the whole article, with no prior discussion, just plain goes against the spirit of collaboration that is supposed to be the hallmark of WP, not to mention eroding the quality of the article as to its accurate representation of its subject.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 15:38 -0400

Post G

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

Problem: Priority Inversion
Subtype: Pseudo-Consensus Overriding Big 3 and 5 Pillars

JA: Entire section deleted by "new user" MengTheMagnificent (incept date 10 June 2006).

JA: Copied here is the entire pretense of discussion that preceded this deletion:

The Relationships and relatives stuff should go
It seems to me that all of the stuff on relationships and relatives at least up to the section "Theory of categories" is way too advanced for a generally educated reader. It is also unmotivated. We are told that a reader of Peirce must understand how Peirce used these terms, but we are not told why. Finally, it is unsourced original research. There's a reference to a Peirce article in Monist, but it is detached from any particular sentence. At any rate, this is obviously somebody's original interpretation of Peircean thoughts about relations. (If I'm wrong about that, then references to the secondary sources where these interpretations come from should be added.) But I'm going to wait to see if there is a concensus among others that it should be removed. Would everyone please give me an opinion yay or nay on removing this?

--Wylie Ali 16:56, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

I vote to delete it.

--LogicMan 16:59, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Delete for the reasons Wylie Ali gives.

--AnnMBake 19:02, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Me too.

--MengTheMagnificent 08:08, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: It is of course the knee-jerk response of WP editors who are novices in a given subject area to declare anything they haven't heard of to be "Original Research". Normal practice is to ask for citations of things that you may have doubts about. All of this stuff has been in print for 100 to 130 years. If setting some of this stuff into the form of Wiki Tables constitutes "originality", then I worry about the wrath of the gods for all our sakes.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 16:16 -0400

Post H

Incorporating responses to:

MR = Michael Rosa

Problem: Priority Inversion
Subtype: Pseudo-Consensus Overriding Big 3 and 5 Pillars

JA: This is a complex series of edits and requires a bit of background.

JA: Some time ago I placed a POV tag on the article, asserting that the article is biased toward (1) a particular POV and (2) a particular theory of truth.

  1. The POV in question is the POV of analytic philosophy, which from its beginning and to this day relies almost exclusively on the methods of linguistic analysis, consequently ignoring or immediately dismissing almost every problem of philosophy that is not especially well handled by its favorite method. In short, it suffers from a "have screwdriver, try to screw everything" variety of POV myopia.
  2. The theory of truth in question is the "correspondence theory of truth" that is being discussed in this section. The complaint that I have made is that even though several other theories of truth are discussed, they are all described and evaluated only in so far as they can be characterized from the POV of the correspondenc theory. In short, the discussion of other theories examines them through "correspondence theory-colored glasses".

JA: Correcting this bias depends on a critical examination of every theory in view, including the correspondence theory. In addition there were many errors of fact in the article when I first came to it, some of them maintained even though they contradicted each other. For instance, there were the unsupported attributions of a correspondence theory to numerous Classical philosophers, but also the POV claim that Bertrand Russell either invented it or "was substantially responsible for helping to make correspondence theory widely known under this name". These claims are all controversial at best, deriving as they do from the belief system of a single POV, and it is easy to find both primary sources and reputable secondary sources that either refute them or express a contrasting POV.

JA: In the process of tracking down primary sources and second opinions, I found a highly pertinent remark that Immanuel Kant made in 1800, where he discusses the Classical history of correspondence theories of truth and also gives a critical appraisal of the problems that they have in being fully satisfactory. So I naturally added the quotation to the section, and, because of its complexity, added preliminary and post hoc translations of what it says into more contemporary and idiomatic English terms.

JA: The deletion of this entire contribution was accomplished in two steps:

1. First the quotation and its analysis are paraphrased:

  • Edit: Revision as of 19:20, 30 June 2006 by Jim62sch
  • Line: (→ Correspondence theory - rewrite of presentation of Kantian views -- quote now used as a ref)
  • Diff:

2. Then the entire paraphrase plus analysis is deleted:

  • Edit: Revision as of 20:12, 30 June 2006 by Kenosis
  • Line: (→ Correspondence theory - Here goes Kant, per talk, for now at least. Too much else could be here in this section in addition to Kant, such as Tarski and others sectioned elsewhere)
  • Diff:

JA: The end result is that an important correction of historical fact plus a modicum of POV-counterbalancing material has been excised.

JA: Oh, the POV-based assertion about Russell remains intact in a footnote. This is one of the ways that WP maintains its reputation in philosophy circles as a dumping ground of popular errors. The fact is that the Star Trek Universe pages exhibit more devotion to accurate detail and responsible scholarship than the whole WP Philosophy Project put together.

JA: P.S. The POV tag was subsequently deleted, as most POV tags usually are, when one POV unilaterally declares that there is no other POV.

Jon Awbrey, 30 Jun 2006 22:52 -0400

Mycenaean Culture and Cretin Games

Bear-Baiting

Finger In The Ear Repartee

Messenger-Killing

Oedipal Optometry

Edit History

Edits Article
603 Truth
418 Charles Peirce
293 Philosophy of mathematics
201 Relation (mathematics)
174 Relation composition
160 Scientific method
123 Pragmatic theory of truth
122 Truth theory
118 Sign relation
104 Logical graph
84 Theory of relations
83 Relation reduction
82 Information theory
78 Charles Peirce (Bibliography)
75 Pseudoscience
72 Pragmatism
65 Empiricism
53 Triadic relation
53 Inquiry
50 Exclusive disjunction
49 Falsifiability
49 Hermeneutics
47 Philosophy of science
44 Zeroth-order logic
44 Skepticism
40 Function (mathematics)
39 Solipsism
39 Sigmund Freud
37 Logical equality
37 Relational database
37 Ego, super-ego, and id
36 Consensus theory of truth
36 Truth table
31 Peirce's law
28 Hypostatic abstraction
27 Psychology
26 Ampheck
25 Propositional logic
25 Graph theory
25 Occam's razor
22 Logic of relatives
21 Computational semiotics
20 Redundancy theory of truth
20 Tabula rasa
19 Slingshot argument
18 Cybernetics
18 Semiotics
18 William of Ockham
17 Law of excluded middle
17 Pragmaticism
17 Realism
15 Relational algebra
15 Graph (mathematics)
15 Models of scientific inquiry
15 Pragmatic maxim
15 Intelligence amplification
15 Chu space
14 Poverty of the stimulus
14 Minimal negation operator
14 Coherence theory of truth
14 Alfred Tarski
14 Semeiotic
14 Allegory of the cave
13 Propositional attitude
13 Republic (Plato)
13 Number
13 Sheffer stroke
13 Boolean function
12 Negation
12 Psychotherapy
12 Laws of Form
12 Teller–Ulam design
12 Reproducibility
11 Binary relation
11 Formal science
11 Psychoanalysis
11 Logical conjunction
11 Grounded relation
10 Relational model
10 List of graph theory topics
10 Epistemic theories of truth
9 Philosophy
9 Continuous predicate
9 Georg Groddeck
9 Logic of information
9 Normative science
9 Open Shortest Path First
9 Correspondence theory of truth
9 Tautology (logic)
9 Testability
9 Platonic realism
9 Foundations of mathematics
9 Indexed family (mathematics)
8 Logic
8 History of science
8 Logical NOR
8 And-inverter graph
8 Semiosis
8 Categorical set theory
8 Boolean-valued function
8 On a New List of Categories
8 Operator
8 Tacit extension
8 Logic of Relatives (1870)
8 Informal logic
8 Formal system
7 Inverse relation
7 Standing operating procedure
7 Kaina Stoicheia
7 Mathematical beauty
7 Extension (semantics)
7 Material conditional
7 Information
7 Semiotic information theory
7 Scientism
7 List of Boolean algebra topics
7 Entitative graph
7 Logical disjunction
7 Two-level grammar
7 List of operators
7 Abductive reasoning
7 On Interpretation
7 Meaning
6 Descriptive science
6 Abraham Lincoln
6 Conceptual Graphs
6 Hypothetico-deductive model
6 Meditations on First Philosophy
6 Surprise
6 Icon
6 Philosophy of logic
6 Lie-to-children
6 Boolean algebra
6 Symbol (disambiguation)
6 Apperception
6 Methodological solipsism
6 Prescisive abstraction
6 Prime number
6 Reification
6 Just noticeable difference
6 Arity
6 Semantic theory of truth
6 Poetry
6 List of self-referential songs
6 Indexed family
6 Pragma
5 Computable function
5 Sign
5 Aristotle
5 Logic of Relatives (1883)
5 Logical matrix
5 Saying
5 Domain (mathematics)
5 Composition
5 Sole sufficient operator
5 Augmented Backus–Naur form
5 Conceptual framework
5 Codomain
5 History of scientific method
5 Finitary boolean function
5 Limen
5 Fiber bundle
5 Truthbearer
5 Benjamin Peirce
5 Descriptive knowledge
5 Objective idealism
5 Relation algebra
5 Border Gateway Protocol
5 Negation (rhetoric)
5 Retroduction
5 Equivalence relation
5 Fundamental theorem of arithmetic
5 Operation (mathematics)
5 Logical connective
5 Frank Harary
5 Object (philosophy)
5 Universal pragmatics
4 Deflationary theory of truth
4 Rolf Schock
4 Science
4 Synthetic proposition
4 Boolean logic
4 Anamnesis
4 Space
4 Bipartite graph
4 Relation construction
4 Projection (set theory)
4 Intuitionistic type theory
4 XOR gate
4 Reflection (computer science)
4 Continental rationalism
4 Binary moment diagram
4 Proposition
4 Hypothesis
4 Hypostatic object
4 The Simplest Mathematics
4 Law of thought
4 Abstract structure
4 Extended Backus–Naur form
4 Edgar F. Codd
4 Methodology
4 Disposition
4 Archimedes
4 Complex adaptive system
4 Sign relational complex
4 Definition
4 Parametric operator
4 Peripheral Component Interconnect
4 Connotation and denotation
4 Nominalism
4 Axiomatic set theory
4 Exegesis
4 Psychophysics
4 Relational operator
4 Exterior Gateway Protocol
4 Existential graph
4 List of logicians
4 Theory
4 Index set
4 Meaning (semiotics)
4 Projection
4 Syntax
4 Inductive reasoning
4 Explanation
4 Symmetric difference
3 Propositional formula
3 Problem solving
3 Intension
3 Law of accelerating returns
3 Turing machine
3 Fallacy
3 Method
3 Backus–Naur form
3 Scientific explanation
3 Humpty Dumpty
3 Parameter
3 Foundational crisis of mathematics
3 Innatism
3 Boolean domain
3 David MacKay (scientist)
3 James Mark Baldwin
3 Reliability (statistics)
3 Interior gateway protocol
3 Reference class problem
3 Normative principle
3 Semiotic triangle
3 Politeia
3 Naive set theory
3 Analogy
3 Intersubjectivity
3 Grammar
3 Metaphysical solipsism
3 Sojourner Truth
3 Confirmation holism
3 Emblem
3 Propositional knowledge
3 Interdisciplinarity
3 Implementation of mathematics in set theory
3 Disjunctive normal form
3 Algebraic normal form
3 International relations
3 List of psychological schools
3 Paradigm shift
3 Analogy of the divided line
3 Cartesian skepticism
3 Relative term
3 Tuple
3 Willard Van Orman Quine
3 Sapir–Whorf hypothesis
3 (B, N) pair
3 Representation
3 Extensional definition
3 Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
3 Negation (disambiguation)
3 Principle of bivalence
3 Warren Sturgis McCulloch
3 Inquiry education
3 To Mock a Mockingbird
3 Life history
3 Managed service provider
3 Logic gate
3 Logical value
3 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy
3 Conceptual graph
3 Eiffel Tower
3 Manifold
3 Mathematics
3 Matrix multiplication
3 Top-down programming
3 Projection (mathematics)
3 Kripke–Platek set theory with urelements
3 Atomic formula
3 Symbol
3 Sign (semiotics)
3 Pathetic fallacy
3 Null graph
3 Formal semantics
3 Detroit Pistons
3 Personification
3 Comprehension (logic)
3 Concept
3 Pragmatics

WikiWaffle Project

  • WikiWaffle is a fallacy of reasoning that runs as follows: "I never heard of A, B, C in regard to X, therefore A, B, C are not important in regard to X.
  • The WikiWaffle, like many of the other informal fallacies that fall happily or else under the rubric of fallacy, are in the nature of "variations on a theme". Still, they come to recognized under catchy and distinctive names precisely on account of their particular prevalence in peculiar provinces of common culture. There is sufficient contemptuary evidence that the WikiWaffle is an emergent phenomenon, well on its way to becoming an abiding Zeitgeist. You didn't hear it here first — You hear it here most. The self-referential character of the fallacy — of which it is not within the scope of this article to say more — imparts to it a very striking family resemblance to many of the most notable and notorious among its proper class, elevating it to the status of a veritable prototype, nay, more, a paragon of oxymoronic paradoxy.
  • Addendumdedumdum. The "exact phrase" mode of the search engine at WikiPedia is not e-currently up to the job, so I am looking for corrobots to help me engineer-ingenue a bot, strawperson e-titled "Notanexpertbot", to search for all the instances of the phrase "I am not an expert but" that are followed by administrative actions by the soi-disant non-expert. I think that this would supply more data for the prominence of the theme.

Edits Of Mass Destruction

JA: I frequently find it useful to refer to the following general principles of WikiPolity:

  1. Wikipedia:Five pillars
  2. Wikipedia:Editing policy
  3. Wikipedia:Simplified Ruleset

JA: I would like to call your particular attention to the following recommedations that I think are rather acutely pertinent here:

perfection isn't required

This policy in a nutshell: Improve pages wherever you can, and don't worry about leaving them imperfect. However, avoid deleting information wherever possible.

10. Particularly, don't revert good faith edits. Reverting is a little too powerful sometimes, hence the three-revert rule. Don't succumb to the temptation, unless you're reverting very obvious vandalism (like "LALALALAL*&*@#@THIS_SUX0RZ", or someone changing "6+5*2=16" to "6+5*2=17"). If you really can't stand something, revert once, with an edit summary something like "(rv) I disagree strongly, I'll explain why in talk." and immediately take it to talk.

Messages Are Placed Below This Point

\(\star\) Nota Bene. Jon Awbrey (as he is called in normal society) can think of no obligation of normal society (for those who still remember what that was like) that requires him to respond to comments and inquiries from ostensible persons who do not identify themselves by their real names. As a consequence, conversation in this context may be somewhat constrained.
\(\star\) Many regards, Jon Awbrey 04:36, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Re: Point?

I've spent twenty minutes trying to decipher what's on your mind, if you'll forgive the overstatement, and I just can't seem to make it out. You seem right on the verge of saying something terribly Profound but then it all dissolves into "expert disrupters making the world safe for their current state of ignorance using wikipretense" babble. I'm left with the impression of an army of pompous phrases marching across the page in search of an idea. FeloniousMonk 21:08, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: I am analyzing the data of a critical incident that took place over a period of several weeks. You needn't trouble yourself with the intermediate stages of the working process. I'll be sure to put you on the routing list when it's done. It will take some time, and I'm about to be on very short hours here, so I'm guessing it'll be September at least. Have a good summer, Jon Awbrey 21:16, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Carry on. Time wounds all heels. FeloniousMonk 22:07, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

As near as I can make out, Jon wishes to improve Wikipedia content and to assist in the improvement in Wikipedia's processes that help create and shape that content. He appears to be using the ploy of leaving Wikipedia to help in that honorable attempt (as is common). It is a difficult task and to be expected that it would take many words and much time to get right. A leaving intended to truly help Wikipedia might take years to execute satisfactorily. WAS 4.250 12:20, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Ploy, schmoy. The fact is that I would much prefer to be working up and beefing up articles on those subjects that I have spent a lifetime learning about. And aside from a few transient distractions that mostly just taught me not to dissipate too much time and energy on the more basic, "core", or popular articles, that is what I mostly did for 6 months. But after I came up against the more recalcitrant, refractory, and systematic obstructions that I am documenting in my Exit Interview, the critical question that I face each time I even think about returning to work on an article of interest is this:

What is the chance that the quantum of knowledge that you add to this article will be respected as such?

JA: Sadly, the answer, as a matter of hard empirical expectation, is:

Just about \(\varnothing\).

JA: Unless and until those obstacles are removed, there is simply no Point in cracking any more ergs for the sake of WP omelets. Jon Awbrey 16:54, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

ME: Because of "No original research" adding a brilliant unique insight anywhere in wikipedia is a waste of time. Because of the mechanism used to create wikipedia (a million monkeys approach - to be fun about it), any article with a great deal of interest and that seems "obvious" like Truth or Human or God will face an unending series of fresh faced do-gooder youngsters with seemingly infinite time and energy to give the world their wisdom. Not every article has a sociological dynamic encouraging to experts. But many do. Wikipedia is fun and useful and getting better everyday. You have helped in the past. You are helping now. You will help in the future, I am sure. Ignore trying to help articles with sociological dynamics such that it would be the equivelent of throwing pearls to swine. There are plenty of other articles that you can create and add to that would help with this gift from all us editors to all mankind that is Wikipedia. WAS 4.250 20:31, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: If you take the time — maybe ¬ today, maybe ¬ tomorrow, but soon, et sic deinceps — to read my Exit Interview, you will see that I have no intention of trying to overturn the Tripodal Supports of WP:Policy, which I regard as the Holy Orders of the "Not Up-Making Stuff Society" (NUMSS), since that is the only thing that has any chance of keeping WP grounded, honest, and safe from whirling away into abject hallucinatory catatonia.

JA: So when I speak of adding bits of knowledge to this sandcastle we call WP and watching them get washed away by the very next wave of newbies or pseudo-newbies that hits the shore, it's not any kind of personally cultured pearls that I'm talking about. I'm talking about the nitty-gritty raw materials of accurate reporting, fact-checking leg-work, and mundane, te deum, responsible scholarship. But the very thing that makes accurate reporters, flat-footed fact-checkers, and responsible scholars value a piece of data is the very thing that makes it certain to be deleted from WP by some nubie who new it all beforehand without bothering to check. Jon Awbrey 22:04, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Re: Pointers

As I believe I've pointed out in other whens, any other wheres, it is really a simple matter of treating core articles not as specialized articles. Core articles should be readily accessible to people who can read at a 12th-grade level, thus drawing them into reading the more specialized articles written at a higher level of English. Bottom line is that ergs truly are wasted, and no omelets made, if the core articles are incomprehensible to most: the quanta of knowledge brought to WP are wasted. After all, how can one comprehend M-Theory if one does not know what an atom is? •Jim62sch• 20:45, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: I'm sorry, but that sort of "Reader Model" argument always strikes me as a Not-So-Artful-Dodge when it is used to quasi-argue that a false and misleading account is simpler and therefore must be preferred anywhen and anywhere to the more accurate account. Since no sensible person would argue that way if he or she took a moment to reflect on the situation, let nobody act on it as if it were some kind of automatic assumption. So, the need for approximation and stepwise refinement is no excuse for misinformation. Jon Awbrey 22:34, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: And again, it always makes for a simpler story if you tell only one side of it, but that's no excuse for bias at any level of approximation.

JA: For another couple of things: (1) I used to do needs assessment surveys in moderately large to massively large organizations, and (2) I used to be pretty well up on the literature in the use of "learner models" as a standard component of AI in education and training applications. I can tell you that nobody I've talked to in the Wikipedia frame of mind shows the slightest indication of taking those sorts of issues seriously, not in the way that has long been done in academe and industry. What's really going on here is just another example of what psychologists call "projection", where people who affect to be representing the interests of the Imaginary Reader are merely projecting the needs that arise from their own Points Of View on a blank screen — and a screen that they show no interest in filling with real data, for obvious reasons. Jon Awbrey 03:10, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Jon, under no circumstances are you to put words in my mouth: at no point did I ever espouse not being accurate, or only telling one side of the story, or advancing misinformation. Try to stick to what I wrote, not what you wish I'd written, and comment only on that. Capisce?

JA: I do not see anywhere that I attributed statements to you that you did not make. But when you raise a point about Accessibility in the midst of a discussion about the Tripodal Supports of WP:Policy, as you did when you wrote "Core articles should be readily accessible to people who can read at a 12th-grade level …", then it becomes necessary to mark the issue as a potential digression, since we may reasonably assume that you are not intending a logical connection thereby. Jon Awbrey 17:36, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Alas, I know you know where you did attribute things to me that I did not say, thus there is no need to provide the examples. The rest is fluff and piffle, but it sho do sound nice. Memento, obscuritas gratia obscuritatis virtutem non est •Jim62sch• 23:31, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Your creds are nice and all, but not really much to the point. You'll just never comprehend that if the quanta you put on various pagea are incomprehensible, you have shared absolutely nothing. \(\varnothing\)

JA: Maybe it's time to craft a message box or template for it, but I have time and time again stipulated to the fact that I do not regard myself as writing especially well on the first dozen drafts or so, and stuff that I ever got into a publishable state usually took at least 50 drafts and the unrelenting critique of an able co-author and/or editor. So I'm quite used to working incrementally, in trial and error give and take with others. But there's a big difference between that sort of brainstorming, think-tanking group process, the sort of bona fide barnraising community effort that is recommended under the penoply of the WP:Five Pillars, and the kind of thing that I have observed in WP, where people delete stuff, whose gist they clearly grasp, on what is really a POV basis, but citing some stylistic infelicity as their facile but transparent excuse. Jon Awbrey 17:58, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

In some ways, you have a point ... but you paint with too broad a brush. Wiki, given that its discussions occur often in disjointed increments, is not necessarily the forum for brainstorming in the traditional sense of the word. Some things would likely be better worked offline -- as a sandbox on a user page perhaps, where editors you might trust, or at least tolerate, can offer their feedback/pushback and create something approaching finality before it is posted to the article. The opportunity for give and take exists, assuming one is willing to (pardon me for a trite usage) think outside of the box. •Jim62sch• 23:45, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: It is simply not necessary for me to repeat all of the good advice about Collaborative Work that is already written in and around the WP:Five Pillars pages. I read all sorts of stuff in WP that isn't especially well written. The first thing I try to do is figure out what the previous editors were trying to say, and then I try to clarify that, all independently of whether I agree with it or not. If there is another fact that is widely known, or another opinion that I can source, then I will add that. I only delete good faith statements if they are factually incorrect in a really gross way that I know I can provide evidence against. I do not delete material solely because I never heard of it, or solely because I disagree with it, and then cook up some ad hoc stylistic excuse on the spur of the moment to justify the deletion. If other editors wouild live by those rules, this would be a much happier place. Assinine assyncronies asside, folks who have been working on a particular article know perfectly well who else is working on it at about the same time if they really want to ask for a citation of a fact unfamiliar to them or a clarification of a confusing passage. That is, if they have any respect for each other at all. Sadly, the Clockwork Orange strategy is far too easy for some to resist resorting to it. Jon Awbrey 02:48, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Agreed regarding running across article that are not well written -- some are so poorly written that I merely tag then for {{cleanup}} rather than trying to fix them. As for running across concepts I've never heard of, I tend to research the item (not only to ensure the integrity of the article, but also to improve my own knowledge base.) Also, I don't delete things merely because I disagree with them, but rather I do so when they are factually wrong.
In any case, I still believe that you are painting with too broad a brush -- you are condemning all editors based on the edits of the 'οι Πολλοι. As I noted earlier, the statement that wiki is "The encyclopedia that anyone can edit" has certain costs, among them a propensity to appear to be chaotic and dysfunctional to an academic. However, if one cannot allow oneself to accept those limitations one might be better suited to looking for another media, as these shortcomings are inherent in the system.•Jim62sch• 10:31, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
This irony is just too delicious: "What's really going on here is just another example of what psychologists call "projection", where people who affect to be representing the interests of the Imaginary Reader are merely projecting the needs that arise from their own Points Of View on a blank screen — and a screen that they show no interest in filling with real data, for obvious reasons". A perfect self-portait. •Jim62sch• 17:21, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Psychological projection is a type of abductive reasoning — people guess what other people need or want based on what they themselves need or want. The fact that a hypothesis about the Other is based on one's acquaintance with one's Self does not by itself make that guess unreasonable or wrong. But abducing a likely hypothesis does not end the process of finding out what other people really need — it has to be followed up by a step of reality-testing before one acquires any knowledge on that score. That testing business is standard practice in the real world, and if folks hereabouts were serious about testing their User Models, there are long-established and well-developed methods for doing that. I don't see any interest in doing that kind of reality-testing in Wikipedia, and so the postulation of Reader Models stays at the level of purely individual psychological projection. Jon Awbrey 03:38, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the def, but I knew that already. However I continue to reject your hypothesis as being applicable to all editors. In fact, as I stated, you yourself of guilty of projection: at one point you discussed the "sum of human knowledge" motto and took that to be an absolute for the inclusion of highly esoteric data that is incomprehensible to most. I'm trying to look at it from both sides -- I too want as much info as possible in Wiki, but I want to see it written in a way that the most likely users of Wiki will find the information useful. Admittedly, this is a projection on my part, but not one based on personal needs. I understand your writing quite well, but I also have enough real life experience to be able to accurately guage approximate reading and comprehension levels of certain groups and to thus realise that many others may have substantial difficulty in divining your meaning. Of course, one can use the argument that as our audience is reading Wiki in the privacy of their own home (or in a library) they can easily do quick research to try to comprehend that which they cannot at first glance (in fact, this is an argument I adhere to in my job where the primary target audience is executives with master's degrees). But, in real life I don't know that this necessariy works, primarily because of intellectual laziness.
Have you ever considered proposing an evaluation of the Reader Model to Jim Wales? It may be worth the time it takes to write the e-mail to him. •Jim62sch• 10:31, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: I felt a need to clarify, in part because the WP article on psychological projection defines it in terms of a secondary twist, the times when people deny what they know about themselves, instead of the primary inference, which is a form of reasoning by analogy. Again, there is no guilt to projection per se, the errors arise from a failure of reality-testing.

Understood and agreed. To an extent you've outlined the sientific method: the theorist projects upon initial data his beliefs, creates a hypothesis from them and then subjects it to reality-testing. If he's a good theorist, when reality-testing proves his hypothesis to be garbage he tosses it and moves on. But, in the everyday world where everyone has "theories" (opinions really), there is either no reality-testing or the absolute inability to throw out the person's opinion when reality-testing proves it to be garbage.
Of course, the real question in this forum is, "to what extent can we expect reality-testing to occur?" Seems to me that WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR, while I agree with them in principle given both the audience and a number of Wiki's editors, can be self-limiting as far as any such testing goes.•Jim62sch• 20:14, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: On those occasions when I have responded to actual inquiries from actual readers they asked for two things: (1) more detailed information about some topic that had been left obscure by previous editors, (2) the invention of concrete examples to illustrate highly abstract ideas. My responses to these requests were subsequently deleted by WikiPiranhas who claimed to know better what readers need than the readers themselves. For (1), they project from their own lack of interest the claim that nobody really wants to know that much. For (2), they cite Original Research objections against the "invention" of illustrative examples. (DIYD)2, as usual. Jon Awbrey 12:14, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

OK, I freely admit I missed the meaning of (DIYD)2.
For item (1), I think much of the opposition may have come from the presentation of the information. To rechew my cud, I've noted that while I understand almost everything you write (and if I think something is unclear, I'll tell you so), but many people don't. All of my school life I tested in the 98th or 99th percentiles in reading, which obviously means, given the bell curve of the tests, most people just don't read at my level (or at yours for that matter). But, being aware of that, I will make allowances as I want to at least be understood by the upper 25% (I gave up on the lower 50%, and next 25%, well, some you can reach, some you can't)
For item (2), see above. •Jim62sch• 20:14, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: It's not my blurb, but I took it at its word. And I'm not one to be discussing absolutes with, as I have absolutely no use for them. We already discused this elsewhere, and I said that the problem is one of providing access paths, both up and down, to the reader's present level. Which was s'posed to be the very thing we hyped up all this hyper-text for, if we ever get out of that linear, hierarchical, compart-mental thinking that we all keep saying we want to get out of. Anybody who wants to point to a concrete example of incomprehensible text can do that, and then a bit of clarification can begin, but instead they prefer this vague sort of billboard brush barrage. Jon Awbrey 12:24, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Interestingly, our biggest philosophical differences, at least as far as Wiki goes, relate primarily to which method of presentation works best. I can obviously see my point, both for its positives and it flaws, but believe it or not, I can see your points for both as well. The question here is, "what can be done to change what has become, in 5 short years, a rather entrenched culture?" •Jim62sch• 20:14, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: I don't have a fixed philosophical position on the level of presentation that articles should be written at or the method of presentation for laying them out. I tend to experiment with different tactics until one or more of them seems to work. I have written "on-ramps" to highly technical articles when those were lacking and worked up technical versions of popular accounts when those were missing. Indeed, I used to do more tutorial work in my first months here, and I commonly got reminded that WP is not a textbook, and that there was another place for that. (DIYD)2 means "Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't.

JA: What has brought me to despair with WP is that fact that the Good Editors and the Administrators are simply too naive about the lengths to which some people will go to subvert the ideals of WP, and that has led to a totally out of control environment, where no mature person could stand to be for very long. There is a Possible World where JA0 did what he normally does, and simply gave up and went away quietly. By an odd-parity twist of fate it has become my job to speak for him and for all the other potential contributors that WP wastes on a daily basis for the sake of hanging on to the very people who will do it in. JA1 02:30, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Given that my exposure to your writing has been primarily on the Truth article, I've apparently not seen your "on-ramp" writing, but I have seen much of your more technical writing, and that is, I think, what led to some of our stylistic disagreements. I've not had a problem (for the most part) with the quanta of info you've wished to insert, I simply would have preferred it to be done in a less technical matter, with the more technical writing going into the main articles. Personally, I see the Truth article as a gateway (or on-ramp) article that should capture the readers' interest in the subject (which is, as we know, a rather more difficult subject than the average person thinks), and then lead them into the discovery of the deeper aspects of truth. For example, the Correspondence theory section should, in my mind, be an appetizer that leads the person to the main Correspondence theory article, which by definition should be far more technical. Yes, feel free to call this projection, but it is based on reality-testing drawn from my teaching/tutoring experiences while working for my current employer.
I'm not so sure how big of a rôle naïveté has played here; some to be sure, but I'm not certain it is as big an issue as you might think -- I'm more inclined to blame the herd mentality.
In any case, I too agree that there are problems, I've raised a number of them in different discussions on Wiki, and while some folks have agreed, most others have treated my observations as heresy (which, given its original Greek meaning is fine with me ;). Realistically speaking though, the horses are out of the barn -- the best that can be hoped for is to lasso one occasionally and get his butt back in the barn.
I'm rather disappointed I didn't get (DIYD)2, must have been a brain cramp. Especially frustrating as one of my poems is entitled "Damnatum si facitur, damnatum si non". •Jim62sch• 10:22, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Naive people are by nature too naive to know how naive they really are. Of course you get the perfunctory tokens of awareness, but no recognition of just how life-threatening the problems are. But I have a rule against arguing with cats and children, and I'm about to add a category to that. Wikipedia remains an immature and often infantile community, and the fact that I even got an argument about the importance of primary sources on the Truth article should have told me just how hopeless it would be to improve the quality of that. There is a place for popular writing on philosophical topics, but an encyclopedia is not that place. Having read lots and lots of popular writing on many subjects, I know what separates the good from the bad. And one of the worst things that a bad pop article can do is to mangle its subject so badly at the start that the hapless learner will be hard pressed ever to recover from its misdirections. And that is what WP Truth currently does to the subject of truth. Jon Awbrey 14:10, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Re: Counterpoint

Re: "Wikipedia remains an immature and often infantile community...", mightn't that be because it's a microcosm of society? I'm none too sure what your daily contact group is like, but as an IT manager in an organization of over 100K employees, my customer base includes every type of person, and quite frankly, most just aren't that bright (although many think they are). Why should Wiki be any different -- because of its lofty goals? America has lofty goals too, but do you really think John and Jane Doe have ever pondered relativity, number theory, linguistics, why Oxi-clean foams, or the meaning of Truth for that matter?

On to the Truth article: I think what Kenosis and I tried to do was keep that article in line with what an encyclopedia normally is -- sorry, but it is not a textbook. (Nor is it a pop article). I'm afraid I simply cannot understand why you have such difficulty comprehending that there is a middle ground -- unless I engage in a long distance psychological examination based on everything you've written. And that's something I'm not wont to do: too subjective.
BTW, the Nietzsche portion of the article, which neither Kenosis nor I wrote, does read like a bad pop article, however, I'm disinclined to fix it. In fact, I'm disinclined to flesh out the two parts I added recently. I've learned that that article has been a quagmire since it started and I dislike wearing hip boots when there seems to be no payoff waiting on the shore. •Jim62sch• 21:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Short answer: An encyclopedia is not an opinion poll. Long answer later, dinner now. Jon Awbrey 21:42, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't recall saying or implying that it was. However, since consensus is an established policy, one needs to follow the rules of the playground if one wishes to play in it. The real skill, therefore, is in convincing others that what you are saying (heaven forfend it be called a POV) is accurate and should be the consensus version. Essentially, it all goes back to "does/does not play well with others". •Jim62sch• 22:45, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Actually, WP:Consensus is a Guideline, and it comes not only with a definition of the term Consensus but with a large number of explicit cautionary epistles that few WikiPreachers thereof ever get around to reading the WikiPrecepts thereof. Jon Awbrey 23:22, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: It's not the only playground in town, and when folks who already know the rules of that larger playground get [sic] of waiting for WikiPiddlers to learn them, they simply move on. Cf: Disgustibus non disputandum. Videque: Katzen und Kinder.

JA: There are too many non-sequiturs in your argument for me to follow. What is the purpose of saying that Wikipedia is a microcosm? What conclusion are we supposed to draw from that? Being a microcosm is considered a good thing if it's a sample of a population whose opinion you want to poll, so I thought you meant something like that. If you want to diagnose the most popular misconceptions in any given subject area, then that's a good way to do it. But publishing the most popular misconceptions is not a good way to write an encyclopedia. When Mr. and Mrs. Doe do get ready to look into philosophic notions of truth, then it's hardly worth their trouble turning on the computer if you only tell them stuff that their 12th grader already knows. Once again you have an implicit reader model that ignores the "every person" who is actually out there on the Internet looking for information that they don't already have. Jon Awbrey 03:18, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

You missed the point, again, and at this point I'm guessing that missing the point is your way of making a point. •Jim62sch• 09:56, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Then let me sum up what I think has been the point all along. When you are talking about "making the sum of human knowledge available to every person", then there is really no point trying to second guess what sort of person you are addressing. The best thing to do is to let folks who know some piece of knowledge under the sum add that piece without all the hue and cry that currently hinders them. People who do have some piece of knowledge under the sum have enough work to do remembering where they got each piece from, and they are getting fed up and sick and tired of fighting with people who have their WikiPersonal WikiPanoplies of other agendas, from WikiProgrammes to WikiPogroms, that are secondary, tertiary, or have nothing to do with the project of building an online encyclopedia. Jon Awbrey 16:32, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Re: Pointless

Good grief, Jim, are you still feeding this troll? KillerChihuahua?!? 22:47, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Imagine a world too deep for sunlight to reach. A place of endless night, of weird and alien thoughts, a place so hostile few dare to venture. Welcome to The Twilight Zone! •Jim62sch• 10:00, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Usage Note. troll. (n.) archaic. a term used for a brief period during the early 21st century to describe a person with whom the speaker disagrees.

Sadly, your definition is incorrect. Care to try again? •Jim62sch• 10:00, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: I am going by the empirical distribution of its usage in early 21st century incunabula of the pertinent regional dialect. The fact that many previously meaningful words had their meanings sucked out of them by the WikiPandemic of WikiWeaselWordWrotters during that period is already well docudemented (Many People et al., 2525). Jon Awbrey 15:40, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Re: Support

Rather insightful diagnosis; eagerly awaiting the final analysis. --Cheers, Folajimi (leave a note) 06:07, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Thanks for the note. It will take a while to sort out the affective, cognitive, and pragmatic factors. They are all important, but in different ways, and it will take a bit of working through to disentangle them. Jon Awbrey 02:00, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: Not sure what all that means in this case, but it sounds like it might be more than I'm up for at this point, as I'm about to busy with some other work and won't be back this way for a while. Jon Awbrey 02:00, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Your dissatisfaction with the operation of the project as a whole is well established. Besides wishing away the miscreants, are there any concrete actions that – if taken – will resolve four-fifths of your missive's crux? --Cheers, Folajimi (leave a note) 19:29, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
P.S. Nice work with the "Disgruntlement in a Nutshell" caption. Rather witty, if I may say so...

Re: Deus Irae, Dies Irae

JA: I have been extremely puzzled by many of the actions of WP editors that I have observed over the past six months. All human communities have preachings that outreach their practices. All human organizations show the strains that arise from the gap between their actual conditions and their desired ideals. But communities and organizations with any capacity for learning at all normally value accurate information about the direction and the distance that separate them from their espoused objectives. And yet for an enterprise that so proudly declares itself dedicated to free and open knowledge, well, there's something more than normally wide of the mark in the WP ship of state.

JA: One explanation for this severe anomaly has begun to press itself on my attention, and this is that a dominant sector of the WP community is actually afraid and not a little resentful of the knowledge they say they desire to get. It even appears at times as if this rate-setting mass of editors, despite its wider pretensions, harbors an internal opposition or an unconscious undermining with all the marks of an "Infantile Rage Against Expertise" (IRAE).

"The encyclopedia anyone can edit" -- look externally and the truth shall be revealed. •Jim62sch• 00:01, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: A hypertext that anyone can edit is just a wiki or a weblog. If there is no connotation to the word encyclopedia that makes WP more than that, then WP will never be more than that.

JA: When I started leafing though our old Brittanicas at the age of 4 or 5, it was a firm rule in our house not to color the illustrations or to rip out the pages. To judge from the condition of the volumes that still reside at our old homestead that rule was honored by all the members of our extended family. To judge from what I have experienced, Wikipedia has yet to achieve the level of responsibility and respect for knowledge that is capable of being grasped by the average 4 or 5 year old.

JA: The fact that some 4 or 5 year old might be leafing through the pages of the Encyclopædia Britannica evidently placed no constraint on its panel of editors to accommodate the Weltanschauung of a 4 or 5 year old, and all of the subsequent value of those volumes to me depended on the fact that no such considerations were allowed to compromise their contents. Not so WikiPedia, which seems to be falling under the spell of this Unwritten Rule that it must WikiPander to the POV of — what? — the answer seems to depend on the age of Rule Unwriter of the moment. Jon Awbrey 17:12, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Ah, you had the same rules then. I still have the encyclopedia set my parents bought me when I was six; still in excellent condition even though I've been through it a few times.
Now, for your Weltanschauung Theorie: like Wiki, like newspapers, like text-book publishers, encyclopedias (including the Encyclopædia Britannica) have a manual of style that dictates among other things, reading level. Yes, the publishers of encyclopedias publish in order to bring knowledge to people, but they also publish to make money. An encyclopedia that is written at a level that is out of the linguistic reach of those most likely to use it will not sell. It really is that simple. •Jim62sch• 21:49, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

JA: We've established the fact that they sold at least two copies of EB. How much did you pay for your copy of WP? Jon Awbrey 23:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Clever...almost. •Jim62sch• 10:12, 13 July 2006 (UTC)