----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 8:14 PM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?
However I again submit that in Wikipedia, you are not
an "expert" because
you have a credential, you are an expert because you behave like an
When challenged to provide a source, you cite your source and other
find, that it does actually state what you claim it states.
However it seems to me that you'd perhaps like
experts to be able to make
unchallengeable claims without sources.
It depends. On the Salmon talk page
, Salmon writes, quite
correctly "the demand for citations to substantiate what are uncontroversial
and widely known facts (e.g., about the writings of Kant or Quine, etc.) is
excessive". One huge weakness of Wikipedia is the way that every trivial
claim is festooned with citations. An expert would understand which facts
are "known to those who know" and which aren't. Please note that I followed
up later with "Nathan, this is perfectly well-known among philosophers but
Wikipedia is a general interest encyclopedia and a reference would be
helpful". Just so you see where I am coming from.
Another weakness is that, as I have remarked here
it is easy to
circumvent the 'citation laws'. "The editor always provided reliable
sources for their claims. However, examination revealed either blatant
misrepresentation of the source, or a selective interpretation that went far
beyond the author's meaning. For a long time no editors bothered to check
these. The problem was amplified by his frequent use of scholarly works not
available on the internet. Most of Wikipedia's editors are amateurs who have
no access to a university library. Thus they cannot check a source from a
journal, or an old or obscure book that would only be found in a library.
Typical of his technique is this edit where he claims that "Avicenna
developed an early theory of impetus, which he referred to as being
proportional to weight times velocity, which was similar to the modern
theory of momentum" citing Aydin Sayili (1987). "Ibn Sina and Buridan on the
Motion of the Projectile", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 500.
Yet the source attributes the theory to the fourteenth century French
philosopher Buridan, not Avicenna. People trust Wikipedia because they
believe the system of 'anyone can edit' allows for cross-checking and
verification of references by a large group of users. Clearly, they should
get out of this habit." Note that most of this rubbish is still there: it
would take a huge task force to clear it up.
If I'm wrong in that last sentence, then tell me
why being an expert is
different than being any editor at all.
I didn't use the word 'expert' in the post you quote, except in scare
quotes. The difference is the training in how to use citations properly
(which most Wikipedians in my view do not understand at all), in being able
to summarise appropriately, in being able to provide cogent and coherent
evidence for a statement instead of blind ranting, of organising an article
in a way that threads the information into a coherent whole, rather than a
laundry list, and so on. As well as quite basic stuff like not using commas
in strange ways, not attaching adjectives of one sort to nouns of another
(this is a very common error - I bet I could find one in any Wikipedia
article > 20 words that you selected at random).
I can read a book on the History of the Fourth
Crusade, and adds quotes to
our articles on the persons and events, just as well as an expert in that
is anything to go by, the answer is, no you can't. Sorry :(
With every kind wish.