Interesting views from Project Gutenberg users.
Sent from a mobile device.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Bess Richfield" <bess(a)telkomsa.net>
Date: 25 Apr 2013 09:56
Subject: Re: Wikipedia FYI
To: "David Richfield" <davidrichfield(a)gmail.com>
I am sure that, given the sheer size of wikipedia, it is possible to find
many examples of real excellence that perhaps counter the general
statements I gave below. This, unfortunately, misses the point.
I feel very strongly that, no matter how many really, really fantastic
things there are in wikipedia, it is not as good as it can be. And it is
not about the final product, but how to attain that ideal.
I use wikipedia every day - multiple times. It is a wonderful edifice.
But could it not be so much better if it used the resources (possible
contributors) more productively and inclusively?
Could it be that you are too close to the forest, seeing only trees, and
losing the sense of what I am trying to say?
I am formulating some very interesting ideas about the subject - but I have
to get them properly sorted out - then I will post you about it. Or maybe
we can discuss it on the phone or skype.
What kind of window will there be between your flying in home, and
departing on holiday?
-----Original Message----- From: David Richfield
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:46 AM
To: Bess Richfield
Subject: Re: Wikipedia FYI
for examples of people taking great care and attention to articles to
get them to be the best they possibly can. One of them is
certainly not a topic of purely recent interest.
On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 5:59 AM, Bess Richfield <bess(a)telkomsa.net> wrote:
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that there was a thread called WIKIPEDIA in
one of the forums of Distributed Proofreaders. So I investigated . . .
When today the last contribution below arrived, I thought you’d like to
I am leaving out only two small irrelevant comments in between. I
contributed on the 6th of April 2013.:
31 August 2012 (Start of thread)
Well I finally gave up on Wikipedia after close to a decade of
contributions, particularly in the topic of astronomy. (Over 70,000 edits,
many many new articles, reviews, citations, and 20 featured articles.) My
main beef was with certain stubbornly foolish individuals who managed to
all of the enjoyment out of the process. I think I'll spend a lot more time
on DP now because it's a more structured process and there's very little
negativity here. Plus it's a nice feeling to know that the contributions
make here won't get wiped out by some nincompoop.
Just needed to vent a little.
31 August 2012
Funny you should say that. I recently looked over a project in P1 and found
that on one page the only change made by the proofer was replacing a
correct (both visually and grammatically) comma with a semicolon.
Nincompoops Of The World, Unite!
6 September, 2012
This is why many do not bother with it at all. I have added things in the
earlier days only to have whole pages replaced by someone that has no idea
what they are talking about. Then bicker over the changes I make to
6 April 2013 (This is my contribution)
Just came across this thread. I would love to work on Wikipedia, and I
made some contributions; but the negativity and sheer difficulty of
navigating their processes turned me off completely. Not to mention the
bumptious rudeness of what I assume to be young males with absolutely no
perspective. My SO and my "young male" son, who both do a huge amount for
Wikipedia, have managed to tolerate and survive Wikipedia. Interestingly,
neither of them work in DP, although my son did sign up before even I did,
but has probably lapsed since he never contributed.
I would like to know how much of an overlap there is between contributors
Wikipedia and DP. Since both are concerned with volunteers making
available for free to the whole world, one would expect a good match. But
the very different cultures seem to attract different populations. Any
24 April 2013
Wikipedia and DP aren't the only crowdsource information-aggregating
projects. I'm a very low-level Wikipedia contributor, but a medium-level
contributor at CCEL and the Open Directory Project.
25 April 2013
A topic I could probably write a lot on... after sitting in an armchair...
and I'm not going to do that for everyone's sake.
Some quick thoughts: DP, presumably, appreciates that older, public domain
works have value--intrinsically, historiographically, etc.--while Wikipedia
tends to minimize anything but the au currant. Wikipedia calls this
"recentism", which is a by-product of the interests of the average
20-something editor: movies, video games, current news events, biographies
of often marginally notable living people, etc. If "scholasticism", if you
will, was ever a value for Wikipedia users during the site's formative
years, that has largely been lost.
Wikipedia shares certain transactional similarities with DP that would also
appear to make them similar; you edit a page, and there is no commitment
beyond that edit. The difference, I think--getting to my unsupported thesis
that the cultures are quite different--is that DP contributors have some
abiding interest in seeing the specific projects they work on succeed,
many Wikipedia edits/editors expend great effort on non-abiding matters.
This is often called "drive-by" editing, or "gnoming"; generally a
disinterested affair that does nothing to further explicate the subject of
the article. I'm referring to correcting a typo, reverting vandalism,
reverting good-faith additions because someone didn't provide a source; and
worst of all, adding those pointless templates that say "the lede is too
short" or "this article has an essay-like tone".
The handful of editors that actually research and write good content on
Wikipedia, which is of course the hardest and most "loving" job by far, is
drying up quite quickly, it seems to me, because the culture and norms no
longer reflect the ostensible "encyclopedic" goal of the project.
"Encyclopedia", after all, is an "old" idea; and Wikipedia's
young; and they have gradually morphed that idea into more of a quick-fix,
add-a-factoid, add-a-template style of editing and construing knowledge,
that is frankly at the polar opposite of truly engaging with an
subject: like a book on DP does. So there's a certain pleasure, I presume,
that we all take in bringing out fully-fledged texts, even if they're old,
something that can be chewed on--and that counters the short-attention-span
world we live in.
I therefore think that at the median, there is a surprising disjunct
who would edit Wikipedia a lot, and who would edit DP a lot.
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