[Foundation-l] hiding interlanguage links by default is a Bad Idea, part 2

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com
Thu Jun 3 00:09:15 UTC 2010

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:30 PM, Aryeh Gregor
<Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
>> You can attempt a weighted cost comparison:    Num_interwiki_users *
>> Cost_of_hiding   vs   Everyone_else * Cost_of_clutter.    But even
>> that will inevitably lead to bad conclusions for some issues because
>> the costs are usually not linear things:   A tiny benefit to a hundred
>> million people wouldn't justify making wikipedia very hard to use for
>> a hundred thousand,  ... because a zillion tiny benefits can often
>> never really offset a smaller number of big costs.
> They can't?  Why not?

. . . well, I can expand on this a bit.  Wikipedia's goals can be
summarized as "Give people access to free knowledge".  This can be
measured lots of different ways, of course.  But I see no reason why
they shouldn't all scale more or less linearly in the number of people
affected.  If we can get an extra piece of useful information to a
billion people over the course of a year, why isn't that a billion
times better on average than getting an extra piece of useful
information to one person, for any definition of "useful"?  If it
isn't exactly a billion times, why should we believe that it's less
than a billion (as you seem to suggest) rather than more?

Cost-benefit analyses involving death are the same.  People would like
to claim that lives and money are incommensurable, say, but that's
patently false.  No one would advocate spending a trillion dollars to
save one person's life -- if nothing else, you could save many
people's lives for the same amount.  Even if your only goal is to save
lives in the short term, a life is worth *at most* X dollars, because
you can straightforwardly exchange dollars for lives saved.  In
practice, X is probably less than 1,000 if you spend it right.

When you deal with everyday situations, then saying "lives and money
are incommensurable" is a good enough approximation.  It doesn't work
if you have lots of lives, or lots of money, or ways to exchange lives
and money that don't come up in everyday situations.

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Noein <pronoein at gmail.com> wrote:
> When you enter your car and drive to your destination, you make hundreds
> of gestures but use only once the key, at the beginning.

And it would be a mistake to omit the keyhole altogether, or to make
it hard to find if you look.  But there's no need to make it as
obtrusive and easy to reach as the steering wheel or the pedals.
Indeed, you shouldn't, because that would take away attention and
space from things that are more often used.

> A probable scenario: people reaching wikipedia on a foreign language
> click just once on the correct language, then may browse hundreds of
> articles without changing the language again.

Is this probable?  What are people's reasons for using interlanguage
links?  How many people miss them now that they're collapsed -- among
the readership as a whole, not the extremely vocal and committed
editors who read foundation-l and will find them easily anyway?

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