[Foundation-l] Wikiversity

Michael R. Irwin michael_irwin at verizon.net
Thu Aug 17 08:25:51 UTC 2006

Amgine wrote:

> On 16-Aug-06, at 12:00 PM, Cormac Lawler wrote:
>> So, if there's a conclusion to this mail, it would be: I'm not arguing
>> for a simple dismissal about all we know and have learned about NPOV.
>> I'm simply saying that it will not _always_ be a useful policy to
>> impose throughout the process of learning. I'm yearning for a better
>> concept - or perhaps we simply have to invest NPOV with new meaning in
>> order to tailor it to Wikiversity's particular identity.
> As you're aware, I'm extremely bothered by this approach to defining  
> Wikiversity. It seems to me to say "let's not put any strictures on  
> Wikiversity, no requirements or expectations, but let it grow  
> organically." This sound nifty in theory, but results in nothing  
> because there are no expectations, no hurdles, nothing to accomplish.  
> You can't even measure if it has accomplished this nothingness.

There is currently policy discussion underway at Wikiversity easily 
available from links on the main page.   The progress is easily 
measurable in bytes if you care to count.    I suppose the count could 
be compared to the early byte counts regarding policy and procedure at 
en.wikipedia if we have any wizard programmers interested.   Wikipedia 
did not evolve useful or detailed policy overnight, it took some serious 
effort and participation.

There are six specific policies currently collecting 
votes/opinion/comments.   One is an appropriate wrapper policy on "NPOV" 
attempting to explain that we will use NPOV and properly labeled POV and 
attempt to adhere to high moral and ethical standards in avoiding any 
attempt to deceive or deceptively influence the wikiversity participant 
and readers.

Ironically,  I personally oppose the title.   I favor sticking with the 
current definition of NPOV which has evolved and stabilized at Wikipedia 
to avoid confusion for experienced Wikimedians and simply title other 
specific policies appropriately.  

> Wikversity should have goals. They should be measurable. The project  
> needs to meet the minimum standards of the Wikimedia Foundation;  
> fundamental in this is a commitment to avoiding support of any one  
> POV, to be verifiable (where this is an option) and to be free.

For this to be possible the Foundation must define its specific minimum 

We are clearly striving to meet the Foundation's minimum specific 
pitch.   Paraphrased personally as:  Help provide all free human 
knowledge freely to all humans who wish it.

Only NPOV is too restrictive.    In studying engineering thermodynamics 
it is useful and necessary to be exposed to fake dilemmas provided 
widely and free of charge regarding closed systems so that you clearly 
understand that you as the engineer are responsible for defining the 
closed system surfaces and all flows of conserved quantities so no 
errors creep into calculations of complex systems found in the real 
world.   This simple example go like this:   A seed is a certain 
complexty, it grows a tree of certain complexity, the tree grows a seed 
of same complexity.   A tree/seed is a closed system.   So entropy 
cannot always increase in the closed tree system therefor thermodynamics 
is all wrong, a miracle is required and engineers who believe in 
thermdynamics rather than God creating miracles as required are all 
wrong or congenital idiots.     The spoiler is:  ......  place your 
virtual sphere around the tree/seeds system and track the nutrients, 
water, but most of all heat and light transfers.     Sunlight in, heat 
out, entropy as defined by thermodynics increases.  Life and the future 
of engineering profession expensively under study is save for all future 
engineers ... true believers, agnostics, and atheists alike.    That is 
actual propaganda that was aimed at my freshmen engineering dorm and 
many hours of study time and a few friendships would have been saved had 
we been able to quickly resolve the fake definitions and dilemmas.  
Maybe it belongs in an historical treatment of engineering fundamentals.

Other examples are available in other disciplines of study.   It is 
difficult for me to understand how one would truly study Christiananity 
via NPOV.   You either reach the point of understanding Christ's answer 
to the politicians inquiring about the really real answers to life, the 
universe, and everything paraphrased (rather than the existing 6 or 7 
hundred commandments) concisely as:

1. Love God completely with all your heart.
2. Love others as you love yourself.

and begin to see how to integrate your other knowledge and worldviews 
with ever more complex integrations of these two rules or you do not 
truly understand "Christianity".

How could an atheist "NPOV" the two rules above to effectively teach 
Christianity to others?   We would be quibbling about shifting words, 
language, historical shading, cultural biases, etc. until the cows come 

To an atheist "God" is a non sequitor or zero.

1. Love nothing with all your heart.
2. Love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Instead of an expanding set of useful self consistent beliefs/equations 
provided by the historical genius/messiah Jesus Christ or the Son of God 
himself (God himself if you purchase the trinity theory) you get a 
shrinking personal universe of:  Love nothing, not even yourself.

To an agnostic a big unknown.

1.  Love big X with all your heart.
2.  Love your neighbors as yourself.

That is not great as anyone can provide by providing their own X.   
Exclusionary treehuggers vs. allout free loggers.  I love trees therfore 
no tree can be cut.  I love money so all trees must be cut.

How about a fuzzy "science" or "discipline" like medicine or human 
biology?   How is this NPOVed only in the face of conflicting experts 
and more research required?

Computer science or software engineering.   How do we apply NPOV to 
expert opinion (AFAIK software is ultimately all opinion)?   Nobody ever 
has the same total datasets or expertise and when you get into details 
or measuring reliability there is alway variance in the details or some 
measurable error.

> Throwing crap at a wall until some of it sticks means you deal with a  
> lot of crap. Let's be a bit more discerning than that, please.
Actually very few of our other participants actually simply throw crap 
at the wall.   I guess I am a bit unique in that regard.  One of the 
policies up for vote and doing fairly well if I recall correctly  (3/3 
for) is "Edit boldly."  I always personally add   "....  serene in the 
knowledge that another wiklar (one contraction among many proposed I 
will leave you in suspense regarding who devised it from "wiki scholar") 
will correct any errors identified boldly.   This is pretty clearly a 
cheap trick based upon past successful en.wikipedia tactics to get some 
material started  (crap tossed) to encourage additional participation 
via further bold editing.

As far as I know nobody has proposed mandating nothing but bold 
editing.    You or anyone are welcome to provide only "brilliant prose" 
and "no crap".   This might appear to invite ownership issues but I have 
a draft "Fork and tailor productively when appropriate" that I have 
requested admin assistance in relocating to the new wiki linked to from 
the policy discussion page to resolve many of the edit wars or cycling 
that seem to result from excessive attachment to one's own crap or 
brilliant prose.   I am hopeful this will allow us to separate warring 
factions occasionally without running off the minority factions or 
alleged social misfits.    I would like to proudly point out here how we 
are addressing the measureable goal of "serving all free information to 
all people".     Last time I was at Wikipedia they were not meeting this 
Foundation goal as they were running off highly POV people, often before 
we could acquire their specific POV information for effective NPOVing.   
Certainly they were failing to help the misfit driven off to effectively 
utilize or understand the NPOV material they allegedly kept trying to 
bias to unwanted allegedly POV information.

By simply encouraging separation and effective development of well 
labeled and convincing POV or controversial multiple versions of 
provably NPOV (by simple majority vote of those interested and timely 
possibly)  I hope to achieve a portion of the Foundation's stated and 
measurable (Alexi counts hits ...) goal of all free human information to 
all freely.

Last but not least, quizzes and problem set solutions have certainly 
been discussed.   I am a bit quirky that way.  I probably will not do 
much measurable work until another engineering student or engineering 
professional shows up interested in the same topics as I.   I think some 
of the preliminary history classes already have some quizzes available 
but I could be mistaken.   I have wandered around quite a bit looking 
for signs of life but found little while the project was in limbo.   
Maybe it will be a bit better for our second or third six month trial 
period, maybe not.

In closing I will point out that it might be better to discuss 
Wikiversity Policy on the Wikiversity-L list setup for that purpose or 
within the now evolving active community at en.wikiversity.org or other 
active language of choice.


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