User:Andrew Lancaster

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Why you should edit Wikipedia[edit]

Don't expect people to shower you with compliments on Wikipedia, and don't try to get pleasure by making Wikipedia read like you want it, in opposition to what others want. You can however have fun in other ways...

For from the beginning there were vines and ears of corn growing here and there in the fields; but no care was taken for the planting and sowing of them. Men lived therefore upon acorns; or if any were so bold as to venture upon the eating of those unknown and doubtful fruits, they did it with danger of their health. In like manner, every man brought Philosophy, that is, Natural Reason, into the world with him; for all men can reason to some degree, and concerning some things: but where there is need of a long series of reasons, there most men wander out of the way, and fall into error for want of method, as it were for want of sowing and planting, that is, of improving their — reason. And from hence it comes to pass, that they who content themselves with daily experience, which may be likened to feeding upon acorns and either reject, or not much regard philosophy, are commonly esteemed, and are, indeed, men of sounder judgment than those who, from opinions, though not vulgar, yet full of uncertainty, and carelessly received, do nothing but dispute and wrangle, like men that are not well in their wits.
Thomas Hobbes, De Corpore. (In the opening lines.)

In other words, the sowing and planting of ideas into an orderly series, as opposed to just living off the careless ideas one finds in daily experience, is pleasurable in itself. Being satisfied with vulgar and careless opinions is like being satisfied with eating acorns found at random as a food source for yourself and your family. Other people have said similar things, but for those who don't know him, Hobbes was no fuzzy romantic. Just for example one sympathetic contemporary, John Aubrey, recalled him explaining his own acts of charity as being based purely upon motives which were selfish at heart. He famously said the only reason people were not permanently in violent war with each other is that they are scared of what would happen to them personally. See "Chapter XIII.: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind As Concerning Their Felicity, and Misery.", Leviathan . So it is prudent to assume Hobbes was making a careful and calculated comment, not just saying something he thought sounded nice.

My thoughts on my editing[edit]

I have contributed, or at least done stuff, on a pretty odd range of article types on Wikipedia. I have a lot of odd interests. That is possibly not unusual on Wikipedia.

It might be unusual in that I tend to prioritize jobs based on what seems to be...

  • in a poor condition
  • not being worked on already in any way which is giving progress (this is a problem)
  • potentially important in the sense that people will want to look it up

Although this sounds logical it is in practice apparently not a way of prioritizing which is common or highly valued on Wikipedia, at least amongst experienced editors or admins. Working on cases with problems apparently makes people feel bad, especially if they've been through some wikidrama, and this feeling apparently often extends to how they feel even about people who associate themselves with such problems by trying to fix them. (In particular Wikipedians tend to develop an understandable revulsion of any discussion which takes time. Long and complex discussion is often seen as a sign that there are bad intentions somewhere, which it often is. Many important but bad articles therefore get stuck just because a long or complex discussion was really needed.)

Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that my contributions have normally been improvements of some kind, even if I have been criticized. I can think of two reasons I get criticized with some regularity:-

1. I do not see it as a high priority, at least in my own editing, to bring articles up to someone's idea of "GA" perfection. (The main time I see GA standards being discussed it seems to be because they are being invoked as a reason to make an article worse, and there is no other excuse. Isn't that funny?)
Getting something from Stub or Start class to B Class is normally much more important, the way I see it, than getting it from B to GA?
2. I tend to argue for edit preferences which are in agreement with both the letter and more importantly the spirit of WP policy. (I really do not like Wikilawyering.) The important policies definitely do include WP:IAR.
My experiences have led me to believe that the Wikipedia policies are much more important and effective than they seem at first, but also that they are poorly understood and in some cases treated in an inconsistent way, including by many admins. Of course newbies and occasional visitors cause problems too, but that is a comparatively trivial remark to make, and is in my opinion not Wikipedia's bigger problem.
For example, I believe civility and good communication is given much less priority than it deserves, with very little attention to consistency, and this will need to change as Wikipedia expands. Unlike other rules, civility-related rules are hardly ever enforced by admins, or even practiced by admins, though it is there in all the "rules" as clear as any other policy.
In practice, this is important. Every time I find a very bad article, I normally find a lot of incivility and WP:wikilawyering (one of many similar and related problems) has been keeping it that way. How many conversations have gone silly or stopped mainly because a bullying but experienced editor, ever so cleverly, started posting policy references? See WP:NONO.
My guess is that these types of problems are so invisible to many admins because of familiarity. Some of them came to Wikipedia with experience of forums like those on Usenet, and found it natural to continue acting the same way. Others arrive here and quickly develop the habits already established.
Unfortunately, one solution to the problem is obvious, and that would be that Wikipedia becomes a hierarchical organization with laws and bosses, and people who are in and out. I believe, and I think that on this I am in a majority, that this would not be good. If there is anyway to avoid it, I hope we'll find it.

Sometimes people like it when I do stuff[edit]

Original Barnstar.png The Original Barnstar
For recent work on some philosophy articles. bodnotbod (talk) 09:58, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Barnstar-atom3.png The E=mc² Barnstar
Great job with Human Genetic History articles Moxy (talk) 18:00, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Compass barnstar.png The Guidance Barnstar
To one of the best editors here in wiki, for your guidance in genetic related articles. Aigest (talk) 07:14, 9 October 2010 (UTC)


Original Barnstar.png The Original Barnstar
Thank you for finding a reliable source for that sentence on James Cook, your contributions to WP:RSN are very much appreciated. Once again - thanks. George2001hi (Discussion) 13:50, 6 November 2010 (UTC)


Kindness Barnstar Hires.png The Random Acts of Kindness Barnstar
 :) Lives forever Taken (talk) 09:18, 4 August 2011 (UTC)


Peace Barnstar 6.png The Barnstar of Diplomacy
You definitely deserve one of these for your hard work in trying to resolve this dispute. Above and beyond the call... Yunshui  11:10, 6 January 2012 (UTC)


Meissen-teacup pinkrose01.jpg

Hello Andrew,

A cup for clarity! You would perhaps like this a little more if you are a tea to-taller.

With respect to your message here

Thanks.इति इतिUAनेति नेति Humour Thisthat2011 13:53, 15 March 2012 (UTC)


WikiDefender Barnstar Hires.png The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
Thank you for your work Lgbtoz (talk) 09:51, 29 October 2012 (UTC)


Tireless Contributor Barnstar Hires.gif The Tireless Contributor Barnstar
I just hopped on to the article Common sense and was pleased to see how much you've developed it. Great work!
Tom Morris (talk) 10:08, 10 August 2013 (UTC)


Original Barnstar.png The Original Barnstar
For your reasonable and intelligent contributions. JS (talk) 08:41, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
ENV-AWARD.png The Green Award
For Protecting and Improving Environment through Your Article Nature.Rukn950 (talk) 08:06, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Draft Stuff[edit]