On 7/6/07, Christiano Moreschi <moreschiwikiman(a)hotmail.co.uk> wrote:
Crikey. Well, I did create the thing, so I guess
it's my job to police it so
that it doesn't turn into witchhunt forum.
In all honesty, I think you're underestimating just how bad a problem fringe
theory pushing is. You go and have a look at some of our more obscure
articles, particularly on "nationalist" topics.
Once I had CVU-like people telling me I underestimated how bad
vandalism can be. Of course I wanted to say I'd been around longer and
reverted more vandalism than they, and I'd never panicked about it,
but I didn't think it was worth arguing. Then there was the
spam-fighter generation who would prefer to delete an article about a
product, or a company, or a shopping mall and ban the author. For
implying that both potential assets could be salvaged, I was accused
of underestimating the evilness of "spammers".
Conversely it has been asserted that I over-estimate the dangers of
copyright infringement because I'm so... paranoid, you know?
Then check what the academic literature (not
academia) actually says about the subject matter.
As most academia is subsidized by state governments, at least in the
United States, this distinction might not be a gaping one.
It's so easy for an article, particularly an
obscure one, to be taken over by
a crank who just shoves his lonely point-of-view non-stop, shouts loudly,
and wins through apathy, or through lack of eyes.
Please, Christiano, teach me how to do this. I always wanted to write
a featured article. :)
The notability of the crank's theory is not
at all: he just includes it as fact. Nothing wrong with notable fringe
theories being discussed, but non-notable ones promoted as fact?
Theories, even mainstream ones, shouldn't exactly be presented
("in-universe") as fact. For a more balanced article, assume
everything is fictional, describe it to the best of your ability, and
cite your sources. I try to avoid using the N-word whenever possible.
We have good mechanism in place for dealing with
vandals, but a non-existent
one for dealing with trolls and cranks, which are much more of long-term
threat. Particularly cranks, because we have no effective method that deals
with someone that shouts hard enough and long enough, promoting some whacko
craziness. If you revert them, unfortunately that's a "content dispute"
you're "involved". You can revert, block, and ignore a vandal. You
the same to a crank, no matter how awful the stuff he's pushing is.
Hopefully, having a place to report incidences of such nutcasery will help,
though the problem won't entirely go away until we get binding content
"Binding content arbitration" is the last thing we need.
So why the noticeboard? Well, I think that it's
not a bad idea to have some
more impartial eyes on disputes concerning fringe theories. Not to encourage
edit wars, but to deal with promotion of fringe theories as mainstream
opinion(the main problem), and as a central place to talk about when
discussion of a fringe theory that may (or may not be) notable should be
Impartial eyes, if they exist, belong to people who really don't know
or care about the content dispute, but they'll help you anyway because
they think you're generally a good guy, and they can see that you're
under a lot of stress and they just want you to be happy again.
That RfA scenario is surely a bit unlikely, no?
Not hardly. I've seen quite a bit of single-issue voting. Do you not
remember when Doc Glasgow opposed over a dozen RFA candidates for
being "too soft on BLP issues", or when Zoe voted in the arbcom
elections based entirely on the candidates' view of the Seabhcan/MONGO
P.S: "We do need to centralise discussion on
fringe theory pushing, since a
lot of it happens on out-of-the-way articles (geostatistics and kriging are
examples I've seen, in which it's taken forever to recruit someone
knowledgeable enough to push back versus a monomaniacal crank) -- it'd be
great to have a single place to post problems for attention by experts." -
Let's not kid ourselves here. The person or people being recruited
need not be "knowledgeable" when "agreeable" will do just fine. Where
are you going to find "experts" who are not already editing the
article? You would have to start recruiting off-site!
Look at MONGO, having to deal with exactly this kind
of nonsense all day and
MONGO has been relieved of that "duty" as of 17 December 2006, despite
the campaigning of Zoe and others on his behalf. Check out the
evidence page for that if you ever get a chance.