[Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?

Peter Damian peter.damian at btinternet.com
Mon Oct 4 17:21:26 UTC 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Noein" <pronoein at gmail.com>
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 5:47 PM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Has Wikipedia changed since 2005?

> Note, Peter, that I am not rejecting the value of your knowledge, your
> critics about quality of articles or your proposals. I only disagree
> about your model of communication of knowledge for wikipedia.

I don't care about models of communication, unless they produce results.  If 
the current process were producing articles that belonged to a comprehensive 
and reliable reference work, I don't mind.  I was fascinated with the 
Wikipedia model when it first came out (I have been regularly editing since 
early 2003) and I often defend it to the unbelievers.  It's a model that 
works fantastically well for certain things.

But for other things, it does not produce results.Under any criterion, some 
of the articles in the philosophy section are truly awful.

Also I'm not sure whether you are suggesting that the "academic" criterion 
for quality is somehow flawed, and that if only people like me would learn 
to put on the right spectacles, we would see that they are in fact good? Or 
not?  Well in any case, Wikipedia's own grading system suggests there is a 
problem.  This is the 3rd time I have posted this.


I would quarrel with the number of 'top' importance articles.  I think the 
number should be more like 100, in line with other disciplines where 
Wikipedia is 'good'.  But I generally agree with the quality assessment. 
The depressing fact is that articles like 'ancient philosophy' or 
'pre-socratic philosophy' are start-class, the article about the subject 
itself is 'C' as is the article about one of the greatest philosophers of 
the tradition (Plato).

>>This social acceptance (or credentials if you prefer) has a weak 
>>epistemological value.[1] It's only convincing for the people of your own 
>>circle - whether they're right or wrong is of no relevance

Citation please.  All my experience suggests that specialists write better 
articles than non-specialists.  Or to qualify: the typical writer of a 
'good' article on Wikipedia is someone who has formal training in the 
subject but somehow missed getting an academic post.  Or who is a 
postgraduate student looking to sharpen up their writing skills.  The few 
'good' philosophy articles were written by User:Lacatosias, who falls 
exactly into that category.

Also it's not credentials I look for. I despise credentials.  I look for a 
clear writing style, elegance and economy of expression, logical and 
evidenced support of views.  This is not a credentialled or elitist thing. 
Anyone can develop these skills. But typically the process of natural 
selection means that formally-trained editors are more likely to have these 
skills than not.

In summary, the objective of the project is to produce a reliable and 
comprehensive reference source.  Everything else should be subordinate to 
that goal.  Wikipedia is not some gigantic social engineering project. 

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