Now that the info-en email address is on the "contact us" pages, the
amount of mail is increasing, and we need more help.
We are looking for a long-standing contributor with a good knowledge of
the English Wikipedia and its policies and procedures. You should also
have a working knowledge of other projects. You need to have infinite
patience to reply to the same newbie questions time after time, and a
friendly and helpful style of writing. Most important is the ability
not to laugh at people who write to tell us we have a massive security
hole - an edit link on each page!!!11!.
Being active on IRC is an advantage - it makes a real difference to be
able to talk over the tricky ones sometimes.
Pay is at the usual Wikipedia rate of lots of good feeling and all the
cookies you can eat.
Hopefully there will be a big rush of applicants for this wonderful job,
and I will ask those volunteering to answer a few mails to see if you
have the style we are looking for. Jimbo will have the final say though.
Please mail me directly rather than replying to the list if you are
p.s. I lied about the cookies
> Establishing the truth of a proposition, however obvious, as this is,
> is not the purpose of Wikipedia, nor the purpose of categories.
> Categories are an aid to the reader to in finding information.
I don't understand the dichotomy you seem
to be trying to uphold. Wikipedia provides
information but not truth? What is truth?
Here's the start of our article on the Eiffel Tower:
"The Eiffel Tower ... is a metallic tower built
on the Champ de Mars in Paris ... and is nowadays
the most famous landmark and symbol of Paris."
This is information. And truth.
When we say "Homeopathy is a pseudoscience."
we are also providing information by writing
down a true statement. If I may paraphrase
a couple of sentences from a certain sci-fi
"The first duty of every Wikipedian is to the truth,
scientific truth, historical truth and personal truth.
It is the guiding principle of Wikipedia."
When reasonable people interpret available data
in different ways we try to describe each position
Then there are some unreasonable positions. Those
are usually dealt with in separate articles and
otherwise ignored. Here's an excerpt from the
start of the [[Apollo program]] article:
"Project Apollo ... was devoted to the goal of landing a man on the Moon
and returning him safely to Earth within the decade of the 1960s. This
goal was achieved with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969."
There are many people who disagree with this but
since their position is unreasonable it is not dealt
with in the main article but relegated to a separate
article. Now, *that* article will try to fairly present
the views of those who believe that the Apollo program
was a hoax. However, by choosing to privilege the
reasonable view in the main article Wikipedia has
*already* chosen a position, whatever category the
hoax article is put into.
Or let's take [[Earth]]. Here's an excerpt from the lead:
"The planet formed around 4.57 billion (4.57×109) years ago and shortly
thereafter acquired its single natural satellite, the Moon."
There are many people who disagree with this. We try to
describe their positions fairly in separate articles,
e.g. [[Creationism]]. The article on creationism may
try to be scrupulously fair to the creationists but the
bottom line is that Wikipedia has *already* acknowledged
the scientific facts as superior to the creationist
theories (at least the "Young Earth" variety) by
including them in main articles like [[Earth]].
Including [[Creationism]] in [[Category:Pseudoscience]]
is just icing on a cake that has already been baked.
> It's particularly foul-smelling icing, though. NPOV certainly is
> compatible with not giving minority or conspiracy-theory opinions undue
> weight by inserting them everywhere or making them seem as if they're
> mainstream, but at the same time outright name-calling is a little
> inappropriate. Saying, as Wikipedia, that Creationism is pseudoscience
> is across the line of good taste I think. Not mentioning the
> young-earth theory in the intro to [[Earth]] may imply that we judge it
> as not being a serious scientific position, but outright saying
> "Creationism is a load of horse-shit" is a little more inappropriate.
No-one is proposing that we do. Pseudo-science is a
word with a particular meaning, not name-calling
(unless applied to something that isn't actually
There are, Godwin help me, nazi categories on Wikipedia.
That's not name-calling either, when used appropriately.
I was going to post this as a reply to another posting, but my thoughts
have become somewhat general, and so I'm posting this as a new entry.
I have come to realise that our current process of requesting adminship
is at a sharp contrast to the wiki model in general. I have come to
believe that we are not following our own principles that we so highly
Why do we let anyone edit? Because we believe that assuming good faith
is a good thing. We let people edit because they can't do any lasting
damage anyway; if they turn out to be editing in bad faith, we can still
revert their edits and block them later. No permanent damage done. We
also let people edit because we believe that they are innocent until
they show themselves guilty.
Incidentally, with admin powers, we handle it quite differently. Not
only does becoming an admin require majority support, but it is even the
case that many people vote "oppose" on the grounds of lack of
dedication, lack of a minimum number of edits, or lack of involvement in
community issues. They can apparently get away with an argument that
essentially amounts to saying "we can't really be sure they're innocent,
so we'll have to assume they're guilty for now". As a result, there are
people who are not admins even though they would never be doing anything
wrong if they were. Those people should be admins.
If we disregard for a moment that admins can delete images permanently,
which surely can be rectified in a future software update, admins cannot
do any lasting damage, just like editors. As such, their situation is a
quite close analogy to the case of the editors. If we applied the
current request-for-adminship philosophy to editing, we would have to
vote on everybody's right to edit before allowing them to edit!
Suppose for a moment that users were to start out as admins, and only
lose the admin powers when they abuse them. (No, I'm not suggesting
this, but let's explore this hypothetical scenario.) Suppose also that
if admin powers are removed from an account, all accounts that are
editing from the same IP also lose admin powers. Of course many of you
will object to this model, because users could just open a new account
from another IP to re-gain the administrative privileges. But if you
think about it, editors are in exactly the same position: If they're
blocked, they only need to edit from another IP to evade the block. We
already have the societal mechanics (policies and procedures) in place
to deal with this. The situation is exactly analogous.
However, I am not suggesting such a radical change.
As a first step, I would like to suggest to make it policy that "oppose"
votes must be accompanied by reasoning indicating the nominee's past
wrongdoing or potential for wrongdoing. It should not be permitted to
vote "oppose" just because someone has "only a few hundred edits", as
this is neither a crime nor a sign of bad faith. As a safeguard against
crackpots nominating themselves straight after their first edit,
however, I suggest that candidates must be nominated by an existing admin.
In the long-term, my suggestion is to abolish the requirement for
majority vote. Anyone who is already an admin is trusted; I think
someone nominated by an existing admin should therefore be given a
certain "initial trust" too. Thus, admins should be able to just appoint
other admins. As for removing adminship, ideally I would like to see the
process closely resemble that for blocking users. The things we have
collected at [[Wikipedia:Blocking policy]] have evolved over time; a
similar "deadminning policy", containing various behaviours that warrant
deadminning without a vote, is surely conceivable. In particular, I can
imagine the 3RR apply to page-protection, deletion/undeletion, or
blocking/unblocking other users. Having more admins, and therefore more
sensible admins ;-), makes this much easier to keep under control by the
What if tens of people gang up, all become admins and then do lots of
bad stuff? Well, it is already possible for people to gang up -- and
indeed, gangs of web forum users have done so in the past.
Please discuss! :)
How do libraries handle it?
When I was about eleven, I discovered that my local library had a copy of
Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision" shelved among the science books.
I went to the librarian full of indignation, demanding that they reshelve it
under "science fiction." The librarian somehow calmed me down... and the book
stayed where it was.
Well, I'm older. (And to tell the truth the geologists seems to be a lot less
uniformitarian than they used to be. Asteroids extinguishing the dinosaurs?
Well, OK. But I still don't think the fall of manna that saved the Israelites
resulted from the earth passing through a comet's tail.)
Anyway, it seems to me that librarians must deal with this sort of thing all
the time. And the many public libraries that use the Dewey Decimal system
can't just fall back on the Library of Congress. Although perhaps there's
some central authority that recommends Dewey classifications. But in any
case, someone has to decide whether Velikovsky is science or science fiction.
Who does? and how?
Because the sandbox talk page is frequently vandalized, and because this
is a larger issue, I'm posting this here. I'd like to know whether I'm
alone with this position.
Currently, the Wikipedia Sandbox features 5 links to "experimental
Ever since WikiChess became popular and accepted on Wikipedia, the
sandbox has turned into an incubator for new "wikigames". The problem
with this is that, as long as a page is a subpage of the sandbox, it is
very difficult to delete it, because it is regarded as "legitimate
playground." On the other hand, once a game has found a sufficient
number of players, these players are all likely to vote "keep" when the
game eventually and inevitably creeps into the Wikipedia namespace, as
has happened with chess.
Therefore, the sandbox has become an incubator for a potentially
unlimited number of wikigames which are almost impossible to get rid of
once they've become popular. While there's nothing wrong with some
harmless games, I strongly feel that such games need to be limited because:
1) Eventually, these gaming activities will attract users who do nothing
*but* playing games, and therefore use our donation-sponsored hardware
effectively as an Internet gameserver. These users can exist outside our
normal community framework, potentially causing problems when they
interact with the rest of the community and the site.
2) A couple of wikigames don't make much of a difference, but once
there's 10 or 20 popular ones, the constant edits to these pages will
start to clutter up Special:Recentchanges.
3) The Wikipedia: namespace is meant primarily for policies; an
abundance of gaming-related pages complicates browsing and searching.
4) The more visible these activities become, the more they become a
reflection on our project to outsiders.
I'm not arguing that any existing wikigame activities should be
suspended -- that would be an exercise in futility, as anyone trying to
do so will be shouted down by the existing player community. No, my
suggested solution is this: All subpages of Wikipedia:Sandbox should be
deleted. There's no need to have any "experimental development" pages.
Users who want to conduct non-game experiments can use user sandboxes
for this purpose. If someone wants to start a new wikigame, they should
start it in the Wikipedia: namespace, where it will receive a much more
intense assessment right from the start. If a game started in the proper
namespace survives VfD, then it may very well be fun or useful enough to
In other words, I would strongly argue in favor of shutting down the
sandbox as a VfD-resistant incubator for games which distract from the
purpose of building an encyclopedia. There is value to wikigames as
entertainment and as an artistic effort, but there's a separate wiki
dedicated to this already -- http://games.wikicities.com/ -- and I feel
that our own gaming related efforts should be limited at best.
> Oh, btw, I also see your next post to the
> mailing list, where you have "figured out why it's doing it". Is that
> your idea of an apology?
I wonder how many times I'll have to resend this totally on-topic
e-mail before it finally gets through (not censored by the mod).
Let's put this response in a numerical list clearly outlining every
totally relevent statement.
1. It's not an apology.
2. It's an acknowledgement that either your did something wrong or
there is a bug with the system.
3. Are you going to apologize for your false accusation against me?
The _only_ account under which I hit 'edit page' was njyoder. Knowing
this, you must retract your accusation.
4. Since I have not actually violated the block, will you now remove
it 24 hours from when it was originally issued (as you are obligated
5. I'd like specific examples of what personal attacks I used that
warrant this block. Note that no one has attempted to define personal
attack yet because they know if they did the accusation and blocked
would become completely unwarranted and make you look bad, as well as
the other arbtrators in my case who _flat out refused_ to define it.
Simplying describing someone's behavior--calling them a hypocrite, is
NOT a personal attack. This has been a matter of debate on the no
personal attacks talk page, especially considering the policy does not
state what constitutes a personal attack. The examples given on the
"no personal attacks" page (the closest thing to a definition) are
very different things from what I've said and you'd either have to be
either incredibly stupid or very dishonest to state otherwise.
I expect a direct apology from you and a removal of the block
Nathan J. Yoder
>Tables of contents are, to my knowledge, generally considered easily
>and unquestionably covered by fair use clauses -- there is no
>"creativity" that goes into simply compiling a list of what your
>encyclopedia has in it, and in the end this is essentially just
>citation information, which of course is never considered copyrighted
>(how could you attribute if you could not cite?). If one is to be
>copyright paranoid (something which I somewhat support in some
>circumstances), there are plenty of more dodgy uses of fair use in
>Wikipedia than this.
If you want to claim fair use for this list, please review and analyze
the fair use factors and tell us how this list qualifies for fair use.
Fair use is analyzed on a case-by-case basis, so you can't really just
say glibly that a particular type of content is always fair use. It's
the *use* that matters much more than the nature of the original content.
There *is* creativity involved in a list of what an encyclopedia
contains, quite specifically due to the selection process involved in
determining what subjects go into the encyclopedia in the first place.
I agree that we have lots of dubious claims of fair use, but that
doesn't make this one okay.
I accidentally deleted this from the moderation queue, so am forwarding it
by hand as wikien-l is an official conduit for complaints about blocking.
This is not meant to imply that I attribute any substance to this complaint
whatsoever, and personally I would say "cheers to Bishonen, keep up the
good work." But anyway.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Nathan J. Yoder" <njyoder(a)gummibears.nu>
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 04:09:43 -0400
Subject: bishonen exercises abuse of admin power
I was just recently given a temporary block for all of wikipedia by
bishonen for comments here:
Of course, that block was based on an injunction in an RfA that she
was a party to (as a person filing a complaint, not an arbitrator).
It's a conflict of interest and she definitely over stepped bounds
there. This reeks of personal vendetta and given her personal history
of irrational behavior and personal dislike for me it's not
Not only that, her block was based on non-existant "personal attacks."
Calling someone a hypocrite or a liar has already been determined to
not constitute a personal attack, however she has decided to override
already existing Wikipedia policy and invent her own.
Another issue I'd like to address is regarding my RfA (since I can't
comment in it due to being blocked).
1. The admins invented a new Wikipedia policy on the spot, that IRC
logs can't be used. Their reference is a meta article which is not
part of Wikipedia policy.
Not just that, but they violate their newly
invented policy by using evidence from IRC against me:
2. Just for emphasis, there is not wikipedia policy against posting
IRC logs, so that can't be used against me. Not just that, but it's
totally and utterly irrelevent to the reason the RfA was created--for
my actions on the gender articles. The whole thing involving Bishonen
existed over about 2 days and ended over 3 weeks before the RfA, but
it was drug up again for the sole purpose of using it as "evidence"
against me. I pointed this out in the RfA, but the arbs ignored it
completely because it didn't support the conclusion that they wanted
3. There are "findings of fact" that include disagreement over my
edits on pages. A disagreement is not grounds for an RfA at all.
4. I wasn't ever using personal attacks. The arbitrators
deliberately refused to define personal attacks since they knew that
if they did try to define them in a way that made me a violator,
they'd end up being guilty themselves. If I'm going to be accused of
using personal attacks, they better damn well define them, because the
policy page on it and other disinterested third parties don't consider
accusing someone of lying to be a personal attack.
5. I was said to not have cited sources in the "findings of fact,"
and yet there was _no_ evidence of this. You'd think they'd at least
provide a link to something I didn't cite a source for. I didn't
insert new information into the gender article.
I removed information because some of it was wrong (which I did cite
sources for), some of it was _obviously_ POV, some of it was totally
incoherent and some of it I was asking for a source for. The only
thing I removed for reasons of factual accuracy was the etmology, for
which I did quote an external source regarding the etymology of it.
So it's a lie to say that I didn't cite anything.
To say it's a "finding of fact" that I didn't cite sources for things
I removed makes no sense. That's not how wikipedia works. According
to them, if I remove or add anything I have to cite a source, but if
AlexR and Axon add or remove anything, they don't need any citations
That's completely backwards, if something in an article is contested
and no source is provided, it is standard wikipedia procedure to
remove it until a source can be provided.
This makes even less sense because neither Axon nor AlexR (the main
parties to the dispute) never accused me of violating the rules to no
cite sources. That was something added in by an arbitrator on a whim
for no reason.
I don't even understand their complaints, I removed a lot of very bad,
non-encyclopedic garbage from it and as a result now two people are
working on completely new versions of the article.
6. "2.5) Njyoder seems to lack insight into the complexities involved
in crafting an adequate article regarding gender; his editing style
could be fairly characterized as ham-handed  and ."
Some of these bullet points shouldn't even exist. Personal opinion of
my understanding and editing style aren't even relevent and yet 3
aribtrators voted on this. If these arbs weren't biased, it should
have received _zero_ votes. I'll note that most of these points were
added by one arb, even though most of them, even from the standpoint
of the complaintants, weren't actually relevent. It's trully sad, he
could have completely fabricated numerous accusations, like saying I
was making racist remarks and inserted it as a bullet point and none
of the other arbitrators would have bothered to check if it was true
and would have just voted "support."
7. They are disputing my arguing style in quite a few bullet points
and are arguing that I should be banned on the basis that they
basically disagree with my viewpoint. It makes no sense to reprimand
me for persisting with my argument when those arguing against me were
persisting with theirs just as much. It's also not against any
wikipedia policies to stand firm in your views, if it were, there
would be a lot of problems.
Also, they engage in a strawman by quite literally, out of my entire
argument, just quoting a part of a single sentence. they got my
"basic argument" entirely wrong and I'm betting you the arbitrators
didn't even bother reading through it, they just took the summary
given by Axon and AlexR even though I actually gave a summary myself.
8. "Extensive attempts by other editors to explain that the talk page
was not an appropriate venue for extended discussion of the "truth" of
a particular reference were ineffective."
and "The establishment of truth is not one of the purposes of
Wikipedia which merely attributes the knowledge it contains to
These are just plain ridiculous points. Talk pages most certainly
exist to discuss the validity of things included in an article.
Wikipedia does not exist to simply parrot any arbitrary source that
someone decided to pick. Of course, it appears the arbitrators voted
to suggest that you should just blindly take any information from any
source and it's perfectly ok as long as you cite it.
Not just that, but that's not what was even being contested on the
talk pages. Most people arguing against me weren't arguing that it
shouldn't be discussed on the talk pages, they were arguing that the
source was actually valid and thusly should be included.
You'll also note that this is another example of inventing a policy on
the spot. Why don't the arbitrators put up a vote for this as a
policy and see how well it goes over? I guarantee you that it will be
shot down quickly, because it's absurd.
Following their logic, you can include any information from any source
in a Wikipedia article. As long as it's a published source, nothing
This wasn't a quotation of popular opinion either, this was a matter
of statistical fact as stated by the Wikipedia article. It stated
something from the Kinsey Report as fact, even though it was factually
incorrect. In what strange bizzarro wikipedia is incorrect
information allowed to be included simply because it's from a popular
published source? I guess this means now I can start taking
statistics from random popular websites that were clearly pulled out
of thin air.
Anyway, as you can see the arbitrators are inventing new policies,
refusing to address my concerns, not reading what happened and are
fabricating things which never happened.
They're proposing a ban on all gender/sexuality related articles. I've
only made two significant edits on any gender/sexuality articles
(gender and bisexuality). If you include talk pages, I've edited a
total of 3 pages for which there is dispute: gender, bisexuality and
This doesn't make any sense to me, I'm basically being banned from all
sexuality articles for removing a single paragraph (with strong
evidence backing my reason doing so--I cited NUMEROUS expert sources
and a primary source) from a single sexuality article.
I'm also being banned for removing POV, incoherent sentences and bad
information from a single gender related article.
How the heck does a year long ban make sense here? This is a bad case
of the arbs trying to enforce their own opinions. Heck, at least one
of the arbs on the case (ambi) is part of the LGBT Wikipedia notice
board that tries to regulate articles, so it's pretty obvious she
wants to keep those articles as-is.
THE FOLLOWING IS JUST A RANT AND IS NOT DIRECTLY RELEVENT, NO NEED TO
I don't really care so much for editing the article so much as I care
about the absolutely astounding level of intellectual dishonesty going
on here. They don't like someone challenging obvious POV and
extremist LGBT propaganda (yes, I can provide direct links, if
necessary, to the parties trying to defend obvious POV).
They are trying desperately to make as large a number possible of
Wikipedia articles on every tiny little subject concerning LGBT things
and the articles themselves read as if they are taken straight out of
a LGBT book for a queer studies course, except a lot more poorly
written. I imagine a couple years from now they'll have an article
for everything, even things like
I just am so surprised how sheltered some of these sub-cliques are,
because you know damn well their the types are college undergrads
(with mommy and daddy paying their way), they just discovered they had
a large group of people they can whine to and have validate heir
feelings and biases.
I think a few years down the road, when they start meeting those of
the gobbleteequa type outside of school, they'll realize what pansies
they are and that most gobbleteequa aren't whiny academic PC cowards
who have no understanding of the real world. Yes, that's right,
you're not actually representative of the group, you're representative
of just the extremists. You're theoreticians and idealists. And you
know the irony of it all? It's almost always the most privileged who
are whining about being underprivileged. The ones who actually ARE
underprivileged get pissed off at these types for that very reason and
as a result become more distanced from movements (they scared the less
privileged ones off).
The one example that I always like to think of is how the rich white
female feminists always try to speak for all women and then have they
audacity to privilege check middle and lower class black women when
said black women call the rich white ones on their BS. This is
paralleled in all of the gobbleteequa groups as well and is truly sad.
Nathan J. Yoder
[[Category:Pseudoscience]] is one which gets objections at fairly
regular intervals. The reasons for the objections are pretty
straightforward -- the users making such objections are almost always
either Creationists or Eugenicists or other people who believe in
bodies of thought labeled as "pseudoscience" -- and the response is
generally pretty straightforward as well: Wikipedia is not claiming
these so-labeled articles are actually "pseudoscience", but rather
that they are labeled *by the mainstream scientific community* as
And the text of the category page and the [[Pseudoscience]] article
spell this out pretty clearly, in my mind. The article itself goes to
much length to talk about how the notion itself is seen as somewhat
dubious even in circles of people not labeled as such -- philosophers
and historians of science, for example, have at times gone to lengths
to argue that the boundaries between what is a "science" and what is
not are exceedingly difficult to lay down. Feyerabend, for example,
made a large point out of showing that many things today considered
canonical distinctions between "science" and other modes of thought
did not apply to many of the "fathers" of science (i.e. Galileo,
Newton, etc.) and others have made similar observations both in
historical and current science. After a century of thought on it, the
demarcation problem has still not been convincingly solved.
Okay. So we have a nice NPOV article on the subject itself. But what
about the category? Does that nuance and care get lost when articles
just say "Pseudoscience" at the bottom of the page? Can we trust the
user to click it and read our little explanation/disclaimer?
Let's assume that we can, for a moment.
What if we had an article on [[Satanic lies]], which explains that
followers of certain religion sects view a number of modern practices
and beliefs as lies of the Devil. It also notes that quite a few other
religion sects don't believe in this, and that mainstream philosophers
and scientists find this a pretty poor model of thought. After ten
centuries of thought, the problem of knowing what is a Satanic lie or
not has still not been convincingly solved. A nice, NPOV article.
Would we accept a placement of [[Category:Satanic lie]] onto pages
about Evolution? Sure, the category page itself would not, "Now, this
is only believed by a certain group."
Would we allow it? If not, why not? Do we accept it if we lean towards
the mainstream opinion in categorization efforts, or do we see this as
a NPOV problem?
I've been defending the presence of [[Category:Pseudoscience]] for
some time now as a sociological category, but it occurred to me today
that one could imagine all sorts of circumstances in which it would
seem hopelessly POV to have category labels of this sort (one could
include things like [[Category:Hoaxes]] or [[Category:Conspiracies]]
or whatever in this, if those categories exist), even if their actual
articles (and even category pages) were written in perfect NPOV. Does
the brevity of category labels make this impossible? I'm beginning to
think they might, and that these sorts of categories should be
converted wholly into lists. I wouldn't mind a [[List of Satanic
lies]] which clearly noted who thought they were and included
[[Evolution]] on the list. But I would mind having [[Category:Satanic
lie]] put onto the Evolution page.
Any input on this would be appreciated as I mull this over.