[Wikimedia-l] [Wikipedia-l] Sort it

Charles Andrès charles.andres at wikimedia.ch
Fri Oct 26 11:56:36 UTC 2012

Amir is right, without judging this specific case, the pattern describe here is a problem.

Especially the massive revert attitude , it's really a challenge for retaining new specialist editor.


Charles ANDRES, Chairman
"Wikimedia CH" – Association for the advancement of free knowledge –
Skype: charles.andres.wmch

Le 26 oct. 2012 à 13:43, "Amir E. Aharoni" <amir.aharoni at mail.huji.ac.il> a écrit :

> Shortened, and grossly over-simplified:
> A biologist wrote some things about biology and they were not challenged.
> Then he wrote some things about dinosaurs, and they were reverted. If
> I understood correctly, the reason for the reverts was that it
> appeared to be original research (WP:NOR).
> And now the biologist is pissed off, possibly for a good reason, and
> wants his previous contributions removed, too.
> This is a story that repeats itself quite often, with surprisingly
> similar details: an expert does some acceptable things, then doing
> some things that turn out to rouse controversy, then wanting to retire
> with a storm. I'm not implying that the expert is bad, absolutely not;
> I'm just noting a pattern.
> Whatever the details of the story are, it's not good and it may
> justify discussion.
> But as a meta-comment, it should be done on wikien-l or on
> wikimedia-l, and not on this list, which is called "wikipedia-l", but
> is not active in practice.
> --
> Amir
> 2012/10/26 Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>
>> TL;DR (Too long; didn't read.)
>> Please provide a summary that makes clear what point you are trying to make...
>> On 26 October 2012 11:55, John Jackson <strangetruther at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Greetings –
>>> I hope this is a good place to send a weighty message to Wikipedia.
>>> You’ll want to read all through.
>>> I am a scientist who has always liked the Wikipedia idea, and I like
>>> your implementation.  Lately I’ve started making contributions.
>>> Although I’m a cognitive scientist who taught biological psychology at
>>> degree level for several years and have done AI research since the
>>> ‘80’s, I’ve diverted for a decade or more to resolve a set of major
>>> evolutionary puzzles.
>>> Fairly peripheral but within the overall project was an investigation
>>> of bird breathing, and I decided to piece together the research into
>>> it, and deliver it properly to the public.  Trust me, the finer
>>> details were obscure.  On the way I discovered why penguins’ lungs
>>> don’t collapse even at 500m when whales’ lungs collapse by 100m; I
>>> found out what the neopulmo did (though not why) and why penguins
>>> don’t have it, and I changed our understanding of flow within it; I
>>> also resolved the old chestnut of whether birds had counter-current
>>> exchange in their lungs.  That is, completely discovered, not just for
>>> myself.  By careful editing and addition including the long overdue
>>> diagram the subject needed, I converted the two Wikipedia pages
>>> dealing with bird breathing from an incomplete mire to a place of
>>> revelation (though the German version needs starting afresh, and
>>> Duncker agrees).  But it was an honour do so.
>>> More central to my overall project was cladogenesis, the heart of
>>> palaeontology and just the thing that I, as an MSc in info. sys.
>>> engineering would be expected to get into.  I’ve written my own clad.
>>> software, invented and implemented my own heuristic version, proved
>>> the theorem in graph theory that resolves an issue in checking
>>> evolutionary trees by time and rooting them, and highlighted a serious
>>> statistical fallacy invalidating another major current of work in the
>>> time-checking of trees.
>>> In these activities I was almost entirely alone as regards other
>>> workers in the overall field, since that field, dinobird
>>> palaeontology, is notorious for its abuse of the lack of scientific
>>> and indeed academic constraint that all historical disciplines are
>>> prey to.  Applicants for research positions into that biological
>>> science, which relies heavily on computer science and statistics, are
>>> usually accepted with just a geology first degree.  Put succinctly but
>>> honestly, the standard of science amongst professional dinobird
>>> palaeontologists is crap, so much so that I’ve never taken the idea of
>>> publishing formally in the field very seriously.  I do from time to
>>> time in AI, but any scientist with something sensible to say in
>>> dinobird palaeo will always be violating sacred errors and be blocked.
>>> Although useless, the field is very proud and stubborn.
>>> But there is a layer of humanity too stupid even to become
>>> professional palaeontologists – and guess what?  They’ve established a
>>> self-aggrandising population in the basement of Wikipedia, grooming
>>> their egos by becoming gatekeepers.  I’m sick of the sight of their
>>> pathetic award stars.
>>> I wasn’t surprised; in fact I’d been surprised by the ease with which
>>> my bird-lung editing had been accepted, which is why I’d turned my
>>> attention to another problem page that was actually even more of a
>>> mess.
>>> Most people, even those interested in the subject, have no idea why
>>> dromaeosaurs had such strange claws, teeth and tails.  Many even doubt
>>> that the special foot claw was a weapon.  And because they have no
>>> understanding of the vital importance of backtracking in knowledge
>>> engineering, they can’t escape the rut of believing dromaeosaurs were
>>> “pre” flight (“pre” of course being a very dodgy evolutionary
>>> concept).  But solving this kind of thing was easy compared to related
>>> subjects, and other visionaries such as Paul and Osmolska had made
>>> their contributions and published some of the basics.  The four-winged
>>> flight of volant dromaeosaurs was harder but I found a solution to
>>> that too (...though you’re not going to like it; even I didn’t).
>>> I know what you’re thinking – Original Work.  But of course that was
>>> taken account of: much of the problem with the Velociraptor page was
>>> balance – some theories had been simply ignored, even though works
>>> mentioning them were already in the citation list.  Other problems
>>> were solved by pointing out glaring illogicalities: ensuring the
>>> explanation of a difference between two things must be based on some
>>> other difference applying to them.  Things like that don’t need
>>> citations, things that needed them were given them, and when necessary
>>> I cited my own book.  That after all is very common in Wikipedia, and
>>> there’s no point frowning on the basic principle (especially when it’s
>>> a good book!).
>>> As you may have guessed or already knew, anyone bringing much-needed
>>> but unfamiliar and unwelcome science (i.e. any science) to dinobird
>>> palaeontology is automatically put on the hate list and from then on
>>> it’s just sociology.  Pointing out that modern science knows better
>>> than to talk of “facts”, is the kind of thing that sets the idiots
>>> off, but is one essential principle Wikipedia needs to take on board.
>>> Luckily the pseudo-scientists usually give themselves away, as they
>>> did on the Velociraptor page most bizarrely.  First, they insisted the
>>> tail couldn’t bend vertically, alongside a picture showing the last
>>> two-thirds bending up through 60º.  Then they insisted its prey only
>>> had one leg whereas two could be seen even in the thumbnail.  No
>>> accusations of original work at risk there.  Nonetheless they kept on
>>> reversing EVERYTHING I’d written – the illogicality-busting, the
>>> theory-balance restoration, and even corrections to their crap which
>>> was contradicted by the images in front of their eyes.
>>> The result?  Someone’s stopped the repeated reversals, and of course,
>>> they chose to stop it on the lunatic side.  Irrespective of the
>>> “Protection is not an endorsement of the current text” message, this
>>> “temporary” status is a massive insult to science, which is why it’s
>>> important, and a massive insult to me which has ensured my action.
>>> I’m going to find the 100 most influential loud-mouthed Wiki-haters on
>>> the net, show them the crucial photos, and the illogicalities, and I
>>> hope I’m going to be able to say: “Look – some tiny-minded
>>> pseudo-scientists started to infect Wikipedia filling even science
>>> pages with blatant rubbish, but see how good it is?  It put them in
>>> their place!”
>>> I know an organisation of your size won’t bother with anything that
>>> can’t affect it, and I haven’t time to dissolve you with charm.  I’m
>>> considering removing all the good work I’ve done in the bird breathing
>>> pages, and their talk pages that explain it, as a token of what you’ll
>>> lose if you reward my kind of work with insults.  I was happy to give
>>> it free but people can always buy the book.  Put it back if you want,
>>> but if you don’t, the pages will lose a lot and if you do you’ll
>>> underline my value.  And of course there’s the stuff above that could
>>> go one way or another depending on you.  Much will be done before the
>>> election and as much as is necessary when it’s over.  Don’t just hand
>>> this over to another of the dinosaur Wiki-wankers, and don’t let them
>>> keep spuriously using the word “source” to justify feeding the world
>>> crap.
>>> John V. Jackson.
>>> http://sciencepolice2010.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/sciencepolice2010-launches/
>>> http://sciencepolice2010.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/sciencepolice-14-latest.pdf
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