[Foundation-l] Reconsidering the policy "one language - one Wikipedia"

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Thu Jun 24 22:00:54 UTC 2010

On Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Benjamin Lees <emufarmers at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 4:30 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
>> If you don't have a strong background in a field then drinking from
>> the fire hose of full-complexity concepts is hard no matter if you are
>> a child or not. If you do have a reasonable background a simplified
>> article will be patronizing and, worse, not especially useful.
> I don't think there's anything wrong with making assumptions about what a
> person of a given age is likely/expected to know: school curricula are based
> upon such assumptions, after all.  Children who find "kiddie books"
> patronizing and useless can choose to access the "grownup" versions
> instead.  It has been ever thus with precocious youth.  But I certainly
> agree with you that we shouldn't expect kids to know/be able to grasp less
> about everything; we should expect kids to know more about things that kids
> tend to know more about.
> I hope the study that the Board is commissioning consults with educators who
> teach at any age levels we might think about creating new projects for.

Why frame a plan around stereotyping and prejudice, even though those
things may be accurate on average, when the simple mechanism of
addressing the _need_ exists?

By stating that the goal is "children" you've not even stated a goal
at all, except by reference. Every participant will have different,
and often legitimate, ideas of what those needs are.  Simultaneously,
other similar needs by people who are not children which could be
easily included would be excluded (e.g. the 2/3rd of _adult_ Americans
who can't correctly extract a couple of simple facts out of the middle
of an article which is only moderately complex:
http://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/sample_question.asp?NextItem=0&AutoR=2 )

Moreover the exact notion of how children ought to be educated is
_highly political_, _highly personal_, and very value laden. Consider
the recent US news about the Texas board of education, for an example.
The most nasty attacks are made on all sides about applying the
"wrong" education to children, and almost everyone fails to bring
supporting evidence to these arguments. These politics are not
something we should wade into willingly as I do not believe that they
they can be easily navigated in combination with the overarching goal
of neutrality.

Rather— a project intended to address the needs of readers with a
reduced background, a lower level of basic education, ones interested
in more introductory or casual knowledge... would be a kind of goal
which people could share a consistent vision over which is compatible
with the principle of neutrality, which does not infantilize any
particular class of people (including the infants), and which doesn't
inspire non-neutral and usually scientifically unsound arguments about
the right and wrong ways to handle children,  yet such a project could
be expected to serve that need.

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