[Wikipedia-l] Deletion of Articles with No Content

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue Aug 27 17:50:22 UTC 2002

Karl Juhnke wrote:

>--- Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
>Believe me, I am trying to get him on board!  (I will hook him before
>Wikipedia is mainstream, i.e. he won't be last to join.)  He is a
>historian, and was a college professor for over thirty years before
>retiring this past May.  He would be the perfect Wikipedia contributor,
>as he has both expertise and plenty of time he can choose to dispose of
>as he sees fit.
He sounds like an excellent candidate for graduation to Wikipedia!

>>Your father is likely the product of an educational philosophy that
>>promoted the passive consumption of knowledge.  What was then written
>>in the texbooks was undisputable truth that you only questioned at
>>your own peril.
>On the contrary, he is a revisionist, you might say a subversive even. 
>He believes in Truth, but also in disputation.  He's a genuine scholar.
Even revisionists have standards.  There's no shortage of disputation on 
Wikipedia.  I hope that somebody like Helga doesn't scare him away; 
she's already frustrating some our best historians.

>His conclusion: "Editorial accretion will never make a good article."
Interesting comment.  All historiography is a series of accretions, 
because new information is regularly being discovered.  The perfect 
article is an impossibility because it can't take into account what has 
not yet been discovered.  That makes life very tough for the 
perfectionist historian.

>Eventually the Wikipedia article will be
>superior to the one in our ancient Colliers.  He hasn't seen articles
>improving, so he doesn't know the mechanics.  But I think in general
>people who don't grok Wikipedia will judge it by comparing it to more
>static sources of information.  The more expertise they have, the
>higher the quality of existing information Wikipedia will need to have
>to excite thier interest and participation.
For a university professor it must be a horrifying vision to imagine 
that all the really really bad term papers that he ever had to mark over 
the years of his career would suddenly find status on the shelves of the 
university library.  Without the participation of knowledgeable 
historians that prophecy could come true.

My personal view toward Wikipedia is as a project for the 
democratisation of knowledge.  (A subject where I could all too easily 
become prolix.)  That process involves reconciling the knowledge held in 
University Protectorates with the knowledge on the street.  That's not a 
trivial task. For example:   In plant taxonomy the latest fad is 
cladistics where plants are organized to reflect their real evolutionary 
relationships.  This would replace a classification system published by 
one Arthur Cronquist in 1981 which cladists declare obsolete.  The fact 
is that the general public has never heard of Cronquist, and neither 
have the big-box bookstores that the public might visit.  The Roger Tory 
Peterson Field Guide series may be all they have as a reference.  That's 
on a par with your old Colliers.  This is a challenging problem!

>But for now he has no inclination to cast his pearls before swine.  "Why
>would I want to collaborate with someone who can't be bothered to look
>up Jakob Amman's name?" he says, and I can't blame him.
Wikipedia is not even two years old.  It looks much better in the light 
of that fact.  If I were interested in that topic I would regard that as 
a simple non-contentious oversight, add a short sentence and move on to 
something else.  
Good luck, Ray (Eclecticology)

>P.S. Please understand that I am not casting aspersions on Wesley for
>his work on Anabaptists.
I've been having my own difficulties with Wesley and SLRubenstein over 
the definition of [Biblical canon] where they want to insist that 
inspiration by God is part of the definition.  I prefer the minimalist 
view that it is a simple list of the books of the Bible, and the 
reference to "inspiration" should come later in the article.

>Relating this back to stub articles, there's no way around the fact
>that people unfamiliar with the process will be turned off by stubs. 
>To repeat a point from my previous article, we have to make every
>effort to _immediately_ re-edit and respond to anything a newbie does
>in order to initiate them into the joy.  There is no way to adequately
>explain it; a contributor has to viscerally experience what it means to
>be involved in collaborative editing.
To stay on topic, I agree.  There are many sites on the net where the 
information is so scant that you wonder why Google wasted your time 
sending you there.

I also agree about greeting newbies where Mav has been doing a wonderful 
job.  I suggested the idea of Wikipediac certificates on his talk page.

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