[WikiEN-l] Troubling news on Citizendium

Fred Bauder fredbaud at waterwiki.info
Wed Jan 17 20:57:07 UTC 2007

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Marc Riddell [mailto:michaeldavid86 at comcast.net]
>Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:24 AM
>To: 'English Wikipedia'
>Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Troubling news on Citizendium
>> From: "Nina Stratton" <ninaeliza at gmail.com>
>> Reply-To: English Wikipedia <wikien-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
>> Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 08:20:48 -0800
>> To: "English Wikipedia" <wikien-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
>> Subject: Re: [WikiEN-l] Troubling news on Citizendium
>> +!
>> On 1/17/07, Stan Shebs <stanshebs at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>> Phil Sandifer wrote:
>>>> [...] If Larry wants an encyclopedia free of its biases, he should
>>>> work on one. But he shouldn't call it an encyclopedia run by experts
>>>> if he's going to dismiss the experts.
>>> There are plenty of experts going at each other with knives on WP;
>>> expertise is simply a fund of knowledge, and does not magically confer
>>> diplomatic, communication, or collaboration skills. In fact, great
>>> knowledge tends to breed arrogance, making conflict more likely, not
>>> less so. CZ adds real names and attributions to the mix, raising the
>>> stakes even further by introducing the possibility of effect on one's
>>> careers. The organizer would need the superior political skills of an
>>> Ivy League dean to make it all work, but Larry's forum postings don't
>>> evidence much improvement at diplomacy since the times he was angering
>>> editors on WP.
>>> Stan
>Ya know what we need in WP, an Article on Expertaphobia: The fear of, and
>seeming intimidation by, people who know stuff about things.
>Someone, I don't recall who it was, wrote that they would never work on
>something where experts were involved. Really? Who would you go to if you
>needed heart surgery, or wanted to learn how to play a violin?
>Don't look now, but you are working with the aid of experts right now! Those
>marvelous persons behind the scenes of this computerized market place who
>make all of this possible. Without them we would be typing into the ether.
>Ease up!
>Marc Riddell

Unless I have gotten the personalities mixed up, Stan is himself an certified expert employed in an academic setting, which is one reason he can make such an incisive comment about Larry. When I was butting heads with Larry over [[reality]] and [[knowledge]] on Wikipedia in the old days, we were both doing essentially the same thing, I was doing my original research thing, making up stuff from whole cloth, while Larry was, working apparently from memory, putting forth the party line as taught in a freshman philosophy course, as he understood it. It did not occur to either of us to cite substantial reliable sources. What resulted was mutual disgust, vigorously expressed.

Experts, to function well on Wikipedia, need to more than just proclaim themselves an expert and regurgitate what they learned in school. Particularly they must be familiar with the literature and be able to cite it. That may be a rare talent, as is excellent teaching, the underlying skill that is involved in writing an introductory textbook, which is what a Wikipedia article is, in part.


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