Is advance warning posted anywhere of maintenance closures? This is
the second day in a row the message has come up -- after 15 minutes
spent trying to save an edit -- that the database is closed for
maintenance. Advance warning, if that's possible, would be very
JAY JG wrote:
> Wikipedia couldn't possibly represent ALL views, nor
should it. There
> are 6 billion people in the world, each with their own
view on a
> limitless array of topics. Even if we limit ourselves to
> smaller (though still overwhelming) number of views that
> published on websites, NPOV does not demand that we say
> Einstein e=mc^2, but according to my Aunt Gertie
> [www.relativityaccordingtogertie.com], e=mc^3"
I totally agree with Jay's point. Wikipedia will
immediately lose any credibility it has if it becomes a
massive repository of crank views, which it will be if
people strictly follow the letter of the NPOV policy as
currently written. Articles on and by cranks will
outnumber serious issues a hundred to one (at least).
Shane replied, quoting from [[WP:NPOV]]
> ...So while we don't necessarily have to give Gertie a
> spot besides Einstein, the NPOV policy says that:
> a) We only give Einstein more space in the main article
> because his view is more popular, not because it's more
> credible; and b) Gertie can (and should) be given space
> if someone's willing to write the article.
I am sure that this was never the purpose of the NPOV
policy; it seems to me that the concerns Jay related were
behind the original insertion of this paragraph. This
paragraph was meant to limit material on and by cranks.
> Now that may seem ridiculous to you, but that's what the
> policy page says! If that's not actually what we want to
> be doing, then we should change the policy, not ignore
I agree. A literal reading of this section can be taken out
of context and misued in this way.
> It seems to me Wikipedia has a whole lot of policy that
> if you read it closely doesn't describe how things
> are actually done at all. I want to fix that: either
> by getting people to follow the policy, or getting the
> policy changed.
That is fine by me. We should subtly rewrite this section
of the NPOV article to take into account Jay's concerns; we
should use some of the very language he used in his letter
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Bryan Derksen wrote:
>Once upon a time long long ago I remember putting in a feature request for
>a simple "footnote" markup, along the lines of adding [[Note:blah blah
>blah]] anywhere in the article and having it turn into a superscripted
>number linking to an anchor for the text "blah blah blah" down at the very
>bottom of the page. Something like that could be suitable for references
>too, though it wouldn't be nice for making multiple references to the same
>source scattered throughout an article. Maybe a [[Ref:blah blah blah]]
>markup that automatically combines identical "blah blah" text into the same
>reference at the bottom?
I would suggest a markup along the lines of [[ref:id:position]],
accompanied by a separate markup of the form,
[note:id]fullreference[/foot], where "id" is a unique indentifier of
the reference, and "fullreference" is the full reference. For example:
"[http://prweek.com/news/news_story.cfm?ID=226978&site=3 UFCW seeking
to unionize Canada Wal-Mart workers]," ''PR Week'', November 8,
One problem with a simple [[Ref:blah blah blah]] markup is that it
doesn't provide a way to put wiki markup into the reference, such as
italicization or hyperlinks. The syntax I've described above would
also make it possible to have multiple references in a text to the
same source. For example, there might be several places where the
text references the Nolan article, e.g., [ref:Nolan:p. 7],
[ref:Nolan:p. 12], or just [ref:Nolan]. Each reference would point to
the same note. It would also be possible to choose different options
for display of the notes. Someone who doesn't want to see them at all
could have the option of turning them off in user preferences. In the
event that a print version is published, there could be the
additional option of displaying notes as footnotes or as endnotes.
I think having a footnote markup is a good idea, but the syntax
should be sufficiently robust to accommodate all of the things that
are currently done with footnotes in traditional publications such as
books and academic journals. And I sympathize with people who don't
want to feel obligated to footnote everything in Wikipedia, but
personally I find references extremely valuable. Also, references can
be used to help resolve editing disputes. I don't think anyone should
be *obligated* to use references, but it would be a step forward if
the software provided this capability as an option.
On Sun, Dec 12, 2004 at 01:30:24AM +0000, wikien-l-request(a)Wikipedia.org wrote:
> > What we need is to encourage a culture of including references.
> I'm happy if I can get a good book or two referenced, and an external link
> or so to corroborate. I am totally against having to footnote everything.
> That is a lame way to have to write - training wheels for Ph.D. students.
> Basic point for me, in fact becoming fundamental: WP is not an academic
> institution, and can't afford 'guild restrictions'. Leaving the question of
> what it is.
I understand your objection, and note another one from a different
perspective: Adam Carr, a history
academic who has been a profilic and high-quality contributor to the
Australia-related articles, notes that often his work is the
distillation of hundreds of different things he has read on the topic.
This is particularly the case with articles on broader topics. Trying
to footnote all of this is very, very difficult.
Notwithstanding this, referencing is *essential*. How else are we
supposed to fact-check the Wikipedia?
The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job
to interpret law.
-- George W. Bush
I don't recall anyone mentioning the [[Wikipedia:Largest encyclopedia]] page
on this list; it has been there less than a week.
I find it an antidote to some current debates. The graphs are great.
Basically two years of trend growth with hardly a hiccup.
Surely the fact that revisions per article is rising just as much as the
number of articles is hopeful for the article quality. (Medians rather than
just means would be good to know, of course.)
One problem I see with this debate over "original research" is that
we are trying to apply it as a uniform rule to every possible case,
when in application it will take many forms.
Take, for example, David Gerard's example of Indie Australian bands.
>From my reading, most of our articles about music bands mostly set
forth verifiable facts such as when the date the band was formed, who
was in it, & what records it reelased. For matters like these, I have
little to no concern about where these facts came from, because one
could always find a way to verify them.
But when the article goes beyond these dry facts to the matter of
inspiration, the motivation of its members, etc., then I get concerned.
As an example, suppose in the article about fictional band
"Mestruating Men" the following appears: "After the release of the
first album, differences over the band's direction led to personel
changes: according to lead singer Wally, "When Harry said he had been
influenced by 'Men without Hats' & said we ought to try to sound more
like them, we kicked the wanker out of the band & found Bruce to replace
him." Now if the quotation came from a reasonably easy source to verify --
say either the Australian equivalent of Rolling Stone or New Music Review --
I would keep it, whether this was original research or not. However, if
this came from a primary source that was had to verify -- a personal
interview, or a newsletter or publication that is not reasonably
accessible -- then I would raise the question of "original research."
(By "reasonably accessible", I not only mean documents that have been
published, but can also be expected to be accessible thru a public
library; Interlibrary Loan & online databases are tools that every
Wikipedian ought to be familiar with. However, some published materials
are difficult to obtain: a valuable source for the Seattle music scene
for the late 1970s, 1980s & early 1990s -- "The Rocket" -- stopped
publication years ago. Although it was a free monthly newspaper you
could find at record stores in the Northwestern US, I confess I wouldn't
know where someone could find a specific issue of it today -- or if
anyone even thought to save any copies.)
I feel this kind of objection ought to apply both to well-known bands
like "The Rolling Stones" as well as Australian Indie bands.
Moving to another topic where "original research" will likely cause a
problem, let us consider the critical appreciation or investigation as
to motives of famous artists or politicians. Obviously, everyone will
have an opinion in this area, & doubtlessly we could argue for hours
over whether Shakespeare is a greater playwright than Sophocles or
Ibsen, & over the motivations of such public figures like Ivan the
Terrible, Ieyasu or George W. Bush. Here, there is no good reason for
original research in any form: if one knows the secondary literature
to a satisfactory degree, then one can simply quote or paraphrase
what has been written on the subject. And the average user of Wikipedia
will want to know what the published judgement of these people is
more than what some Wikipedian thinks.
(And in cases like these, we should cite more than peer-reviewed journals;
evaluation of public figures is shaped by more than degreed experts.
Poets & actors can potentially tell us more about Shakespeare than any
random tenured professor published by a university press; TV Guide's
account of Bill Clinton playing the Saxophone on the Orsinio Hall show
could tell us more than a Ph.D. working in a political think tank.)
Then there is a third case where we confront original research: in the
search for originality of expression, contributors will inevitably
introduce their own conclusions drawn from verifiable facts. One example
would be from my own contributions, [[Battle of the Catalaunian Plains]]:
when I wrote this about 2 years ago, I was very concerned at the time
over introducing copywritten text, so I based it on published primary
sources, such as _The Gothic History of Jordanes_. Undoubtedly in the
writing of this article, I introduced my own POV & my own conclusions
concerning the material, no matter how hard I tried not to; we all have
conscious or unconscious biasses in the areas we are profess expertise
in. However in this case, I submitted it fully aware of the Wiki philosophy,
that what gets written may be subject to ruthless revisions. And my own
attitude to the article is that if someone can improve on it by citing
the necessary experts to confirm or replace what I wrote there, then
it is a good thing. Here, calling something "original research" &
insisting that the material should be deleted does nothing more than
cause friction on Wikipedia, whereas making changes in a reasonable &
responsible manner solves the problem -- which I assume is what we all
want to do in the first place.
I don't have a clear-cut answer for the issue of "original research" --
except to say that I know it's a problem when I see it. But my point
here was to argue that to address this issue we must also acknowledge
where it poses no problem.
Ray (Ex) writes:
> Expressions like "ESP's critics, a group that includes
> mainstream scientists," is a gratuitous reference to the
> authority of scientists. I think that it would be closer
> to the truth to say that most scientists have never paid
> any serious attention to ESP, so that the basis which
> majority criticizes ESP is its own lack of knowledge.
Actually, that's false. Nearly every scientist that I have
ever worked with and studied with has given quite a bit of
thought to this and related issues. Having spent years in
college and graduate schools, and in "the real world" as
well, I can so that your caricature of scientists is false.
Again, you are creating strawmen to attack.
> That to me is not very reassuring. Many articles
> would be much better if the science lobby started to
> show some restraint.
Huh? Who the hell are "the science lobby"? Please stop
your recriminations against "the scientists". You keep
making strawman arguments, with a clear attempt at the
deligitimization of anyone who tries to study controversial
issues in a controlled setting.
There is no "science lobby", and practically every
scientist I have ever discussed this issue with has been
open to accepting _any_ claim, IF there is proof.
Anecdotes, however, do not rise to the level of proof. You
just seem mad because your side has never been able to
offer any proof that the rest of the world will accept.
If you truly believe in these claims, then spend your time
gathering more proof, and less time making strawman ad
homenim attacks on "the science lobby". The more you do
this, the less your position is accepted.
> A single well-written paragraph can more than adequately
> represent the views of the detractors. Trying to debunk
> concepts that have never been proven, with equally
> questionable data only makes for an article full of
In other words, dump NPOV. Because NPOV demands precisely
the format that you want to remove. In contrast to your
false claims about scientists, a large number of scientists
have studied ESP, telepathy, telekinesis and other similar
alleged phenomenon for well over a century. Controlled
experiments have been run and repeated hundreds of times.
Articles on these subjects must, according to our NPOV
policy, report both the alleged phenomenon, and on the many
experiments run to study such phenomenon. Your format
would remove the vast majority of material on this subject,
thus biasing the article in favaor of paranormal claims
made without proof.
> Credible sources for both sides of this argument are
Yet this is precisely what you seem to be annoyed with;
large amounts of controlled scientific studies have been
published in peer-reviewed journals, but you get angry when
they are reported on within our articles. You keep
advocating that we remove nearly all POV's, and reduce our
articles to a "He said, She said" format. Sorry, but that
is not the way that NPOV works.
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