[Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?

Marc Riddell michaeldavid86 at comcast.net
Sun Oct 3 12:04:41 UTC 2010

>> on 10/2/10 6:01 AM, SlimVirgin at slimvirgin at gmail.com wrote:
>>>> From: "David Gerard" <dgerard at gmail.com>
>>>>> That [...] doesn't answer the question I asked:
>>>>> *what* about the approach in this paper wouldn't work for philosophy,
>>>>> in your opinion? Please be specific.
>>> David, I think one of the reasons that biologists and others may be
>>> happier than philosophers to edit Wikipedia is that everyone assumes
>>> they know something about the latter and don't need to study for it,
>>> <snip>
>>> Academics don't have the time or patience to explain basic points for
>>> years on end to people who feel that reading books or papers about the
>>> subject is unnecessary. I'm sure the biology experts would give up too
>>> if their area of expertise were undermined in such a basic way.

> On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 8:30 AM, Marc Riddell <michaeldavid86 at comcast.net>
> wrote:
>> Very well said, SV. I encounter the same thing in my field. You cannot teach
>> someone who will not be taught. You cannot teach someone something they
>> think they already know.
on 10/3/10 4:49 AM, David Goodman at dgoodmanny at gmail.com wrote:
> Sure you can, if you can just get their attention. This is the basic
> method behind good instructional and popular writing, as well as such
> specific genres as biography. You need to provide an especially
> attractive format and very  clear presentation in a manner that
> implies that the presentation is expected to be entertaining, to get
> people started reading or listening, and then  to keep them going
> provide intrinsically interesting material and clear dramatic verbal
> and pictorial illustration,  and write or speak in language and manner
> that is at the right level of sophistication--a slightly better
> informed friend is usually the right level, and aim at an overall
> effect when finished that w;il give people a feeling of satisfaction
> and increased confidence.
> It's not easy. Few people can do this really well, and they are only
> occasionally professional academics. Good advertising people can do
> it; good journalists can do it; masters of popular non-fiction can do
> it; some fiction writers can even do it.  It may be beyond practical
> levels of community participation to expect it in Wikipedia, at least
> on a routine basis. (Though we do have one additional factor--the
> attractive browsing effect. )
> People do change their mind. People can be persuaded.  But there are
> almost no articles in Wikipedia written well enough to  could persuade
> people to pay attention to the arguments. Probably that should not be
> our goal. for I don't think we can accomplish it by an assortment of
> amateurs.  Probably our basic principle is right:aim for NPOV, for
> those people who want it. We're always going to be dull reading--even
> the best professional encyclopedias usually have been.   Anything more
> than that belongs in other media.

Much of what you say here is true, David. However, the task becomes an
arduous one when the students rule the classroom. The prevailing culture in
Wikipedia, whose dogma seems to be, "this is our encyclopedia, and no
'expert' is going to tell us what to do", may seem liberating to some, but
is preventing the Project from being the truly collaborative one it has the
potential to be.

Marc Riddell

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