The problem with Wikipedia is that it only works in practice. In theory, it can never work.
::::::::::("The Øth law of Wikipedia, Author unknown, nicked from Raul's Laws.):::::::::
- 1 Talk to me, baby!
- 2 Paid editing notice
- 3 Some of the pages to which I've made measurable contributions
- 3.1 Political biographies
- 3.2 Organizational Histories
- 3.3 Specific histories
- 3.4 Publications and media
- 3.5 Terminology
- 3.6 Sports stuff
- 3.7 Music stuff
- 3.8 Cigars
- 3.9 Oregon and Washington biographies
- 3.10 Native American history
- 3.11 Pumpkin farmers, peanut vendors, and other miscellaneous stuff
- 3.12 Lists
- 3.13 Technical pages and templates
- 3.14 Localities to which I included local history book links
- 3.15 Mississippi Delta High Schools
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 Others who sometimes work in my field
- 6 Great wisdom
- 7 Timbo's Rules
- 8 For Jargon Translation
- 9 Touché!
- 10 The method by which POV Warriors fight at Wikipedia
- 11 The reasons people don't edit at WP
- 12 Ben Kovitz on the origins of Wikipedia
- 13 The original name of Wikipedia was "Nupedia's Wiki"
- 14 On the origins of the concept of "Neutral Point of View"
- 15 On the origins of the concept of "No Original Research"
- 16 A perspective on the emergence of notability doctrine
- 17 A couple tidbits from 2001
- 18 The history of copyright enforcement at WP
- 19 My new favorite ArbCom member
- 20 Jorge Stolfi on Deletionism and other failings of WP
- 21 A dissident view of Crowdsourcing
- 22 Wikipedia's political situation, simply put
- 23 Jimmy Wales: "Voting is Evil..."
- 24 Comedy Department
Talk to me, baby!
Here's my email in case anyone wants to get in touch with me about anything: ShoeHutch@gmail.com Don't be afraid to write if you have a comment or a question — direct contact is probably quicker and easier than the Wikipedia discussion pages.
My website is http://www.marxisthistory.org/
My short-lived journal, which dealt to a great extent with my work at Wikipedia was http://carrite.wordpress.com/
I collect books, pamphlets, and other radical ephemera and am engaged in book research for a volume on American political radicalism in the early 1920s.
5010 NW Shasta
Corvallis, OR 97330 (USA)
Paid editing notice
Attention one and all. I've never accepted money for editing at Wikipedia, but I do have an ad up now on oDesk and I will eventually do a total of three (3) "paid" jobs, with the money made donated to the Heartland Humane Society of Corvallis, Oregon. I'm am being very selective and am only going to do jobs which more than meet notability guidelines, which improve the encyclopedia, which are written in accord with NPOV, which have a COI declaration on the talk page, and which are scrutinized by at least one long-term Wikipedian with no financial conflict of interest. And I'm going to write about my experiences as a "paid editor." So, there ya go. Carrite (talk) 18:55, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Some of the pages to which I've made measurable contributions
- The 238 pages which I started marked with *
- Complete rewrites marked with †
- Those to which I only contributed a graphic marked with #
- Future article topics marked with x.
Publications and media
Oregon and Washington biographies
Native American history
Pumpkin farmers, peanut vendors, and other miscellaneous stuff
- List of Canadian socialist parties *
- List of cigar brands
- List of employer associations
- List of Fourierist Associations in the United States *
- List of members of the League of American Writers *
- List of newspapers in Oregon
- List of Owenite communities in the United States *
- List of Socialist Mayors
- List of state Libertarian Parties in the United States
- List of World War II prisoner-of-war camps in the United States
Technical pages and templates
- Ben Davis (disambiguation)
- Donald Duncan (disambiguation) *
- Forty-Eighters (disambiguation) *
- Hector Macpherson (disambiguation) *
- Michael Nash (disambiguation) *
- Nationalist (disambiguation) *
- Template:Communist Party USA
- Template:In creation
- Template:Soviet-type economics
- WP: AfD Outcomes
Mississippi Delta High Schools
- ...I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.... —Martin Luther King, Jr., August 1963.
The Mississippi Delta has been called "The Most Southern Place on Earth." In terms of public education, that's not a good thing — mass exodus to segregation academies and systemic underfunding of public education in the state seem to have left secondary education as separate-and-unequal as it ever was. Wikipedia is a mass of redlinks for the public high schools of the region. Here are a few that I've started and others that need to be started.
Mississippi has more school districts with greater than 30% of their student body below the poverty line (63) than any other state in the country. According to a report published by the Education Law Center, Mississippi's state and local spending per pupil is the lowest of any state in the union ($7,102). Even this amount has been the subject of additional cuts by the state's conservative government.
- Bruce D. Baker, David G. Sciarra, and Danielle Farrie, Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card. Newark, NJ: Education Law Center, Sept. 2010; pg. 3.
- Baker, Sciarra, and Farrie, Is School Funding Fair? pg. 17.
Stuff needing remedial attention which I haven't worked on yet
- American League Against War and Fascism
- Americanism (ideology)
- Black Friday (1869)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Civil Rights Congress
- Daily Worker
- Eduard David
- Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) x
- End Poverty in California movement
- Roger Garaudy
- Harrison George
- Laurence Gronlund
- Charles H. Kerr
- Labor Party (United States, 19th century) --> change to List of 19th Century American labor parties
- Machine and Tractor Station
- Kate Richards O'Hare
- Grigory Ordzhonikidze
- Amos Pinchot
- Homer Martin
- National Association of Manufacturers
- Shakhty Trial
- Supreme Soviet of the National Economy (Vesenkha)
- Arne Swabeck
- Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (Canada)
- Thomas Van Lear
- Emile Vandervelde
- William English Walling
- Erik Wilhelm
- George Washington Williams
- Winnipeg General Strike
- Tim Yohannan
- Zimmerwald Left
And a shout-out to the coolest motherfucker on the planet
|This user is a member of the Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians
The motto of the AIW is Conservata veritate, which translates to "With the preserved truth".
Others who sometimes work in my field
Betacommand's AfD Sorter
Antandrus' observation No. 59
"When an editor ceases to contribute to articles, but instead writes only in the Wikipedia space, on talk pages, and arbitration cases, and when more than half of that editor's contributions are in conflicts, either beginning or prolonging them: then that editor is very close to departure. As with stars on the main sequence, some departures are shrinkings into dwarf states, with ever diminishing contributions, giving little light, and with a long decay; and other departures are violent supernova explosions, spewing waste matter and hot gas in all directions."
- For the complete list, see User:Antandrus/observations on Wikipedia behavior.
Inspired by Antandrus, here are a few observations about Wikipedia of my own.
Rule 1. The more important the topic of a Wikipedia article, the higher the probability of conflict over content. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 2. So-called "anti-canvassing" rules are a mechanism by means of which a narrow clique can avoid broad discussion and decision by a larger and more inclusive group. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 3. The slogan "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth..." is an Orwellian idiocy. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is actually verifiability and veracity. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 4. Starting articles on Wikipedia is like building sandcastles on the beach. Down by the surf the sand is nice and wet and the building is easy, but your work will soon be wiped out by an incoming wave. For your work to last, build farther up the beach. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 5. There are five basic types of participants at Wikipedia: content creators, copy editors, vandal fighters, problem solvers, and people who are just there for the perpetual soap opera. The first four of these groups are useful, the fifth is not. (Feb. 2012, modified June 2013)
Rule 6. Wikipedia says of itself that it is "not a democracy" and "not a bureaucracy." That is half right. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 7. Honest people may differ about matters of interpretation. Dishonest people are unable to admit this. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 8. Everyone has bias, both conscious and inherent. The doctrine of Neutral Point of View doesn't legislate human nature away, it simply requires that one be fair and proportionate to all sides of a debate and dispassionate in the delivery. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 8-1/2. In the long run Neutral Point of View will always triumph over the tendentious distortions of the moment. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 9. Without the doctrine of Neutral Point of View Wikipedia would have disintegrated long ago. It is the glue that holds The Project together and as such it is the single most important creation of Messrs. Sanger and Wales. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 10. Anyone who says "Wikipedia is not censored" has never paid particularly close attention to the way talk pages are treated by third parties. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 11. Starting an article at Wikipedia is like raising a kid. You try to set them up on a good foundation and hope they'll develop and progress in the right way, without getting mixed up with the wrong people and getting themselves killed. Ultimately, however, all you can do when you post a piece is wave goodbye and hope for the best. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 12. Most vandalism is caused by anonymous IP editors. The only reason IP editing is allowed at all is that it makes vandalism easier to spot. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 13. Since such a high percentage of anonymous IP editors are vandals, they are all treated like shit. Trying to make serious edits to Wikipedia as an IP editor is like blindly blundering through the countryside on the first day of hunting season dressed like a moose. (Feb. 2012)
Rule 14. Whenever you see multiple stacked footnotes in a lead to document a subject phrase as encyclopedic, it probably isn't. (March 2012)
Rule 15. There's unnecessary confusion about how a paid Conflict of Interest editor can edit successfully at WP. It's actually as easy as one-two-three... 1. Declare your COI on the talk page. 2. Commit no spam — stick to uncontroversial, sourced content. 3. Invite scrutiny. (April 2012)
Rule 16. The slogan of "Adminship is No Big Deal" needs to be reestablished. Currently RfA is a 7 day proctological exam, conducted by a tag team of 150 people of differing intentions — some of whom wish to subject the patient's rectum to blunt-force trauma during the process. Only people who REALLY like proctologists would be advised to run. (July 2012)
Rule 17. Then again, proctological exams do help ward off certain types of cancer. (Oct. 2012)
Rule 18. Content should be content, in accordance with established policies — factual accuracy, verifiability, neutrality of tone. The desires and whims of biographical subjects should be completely separated from this; their concerns may be voiced and taken into consideration in debate, but content absolutely needs to be independently derived. (June 2013)
Rule 19. Having underwent the RFA process through no fault of my own (trying to get temporary reading rights for deleted material in connection with an ArbCom case) I can say this with authority: "Yes, Virginia, there is a cabal." (July 2013)
Rule 20. Nobody ever accused the cabalistas of being active builders of Wikipedia, speaking as a caste, just like nobody ever accused John D. Rockefeller and his cronies of being oil workers. (June 2014)
Rule 21. The wise slogan "Don't feed the trolls" has a corollary: Don't feed the grouches. (Sept. 2014)
Rule 22. There will always be drama at Wikipedia. Whereas writing articles, correcting grammar, tagging new submissions, and rolling back vandalism can be boring, drama is usually fun and people like to have fun. (Dec. 2014)
For Jargon Translation
Some on-point comments from the feedback section of the Aug. 13, 2014 Signpost, taking aim at Jimmy Wales' Wikimania Civility-Purge rumblings...
- Re: "kindness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion", - that effort would convince me more had it not been accompanied by the phrase "incredibly toxic personalities" which I believe expresses a way of thinking about other people or a group of people that contradicts the goal. I learned that the phrase was already used in 2009, see my talk. Room for improvement. --Gerda Arendt (talk) 11:02 pm, 17 August 2014 (UTC−7)
- Gerda, you need to readjust your priorities: we are no longer interested in creating an encyclopaedia, full of ("allegedly") high-quality content. Instead we are now more interested in a nice fluffy environment when we spend so much time stroking each others egos or drawing up a Black Book of people who don't think fluffy thoughts, that nothing ever actually gets written. I felt decidedly uncomfortable watching the [Wales speech] video stream: despite intentions, or the claims to the contrary, it does create a climate of fear, a toxic environment for people to work in. Incivility I can ignore or laugh at: a reign of fear whereby good editors are "encouraged to leave" is a depressing and worrying development. - SchroCat (talk) 9:41 am, 18 August 2014 (UTC−7)
The method by which POV Warriors fight at Wikipedia
The basic steps of disruptive POV pushing on Wikipedia when faced with well sourced material one doesn't like are:
1. Try to delete it.
2. If that fails try to delete it again.
3. Try to hide it — this works with text in articles where you stick the stuff you don't like in the most obscure corner of the article where no one will see it.
4. If you can't hide it, try to rephrase it in a way which is favorable to your side.
5. If you can't rephrase it, slap it up with tags to make it look "dubious" and "controversial" and "fringe."
6. If it's shown tags are unwarranted then make it seem controversial by "attributing" the text. I.e., every piece of text you don't like starts with "According to (if you can put something dubious here do it) X, ..." whereas every piece of text you agree with is given in Wikipedia voice.
7. If possible try to insert just plain ol' bad grammar, bad writing edits into the section you disagree with so that it will "look like" it was written by a 7 year old, i.e. not credible.
8. Wait a month or two and then try to quietly do 1 again. At worst you just go through the list again and "correct" anything you missed.
At each step of the process, ensure as much as possible that "your" version is the actual one, while discussion over each step gets bogged down in the, ahem, "dispute resolution process" (which of course has to be renewed at each point). That way "your version" slowly becomes the 'status quo' version which means you can start reverting people per "no consensus to change" or "stable version". And those who disagree with you will become tired and bored and you might win. Then wait a little bit and try to go up the steps backward. If you've hidden it, now try to delete it again, etc.
All the steps, and the algorithm as a whole, are actually intended to frustrate the person who is disagreeing with you, bore them, annoy them, irritate them, provoke them, until they get fed up and... "say something incivil." At which point you can go running to the drama boards screaming "OMG! This person is uncivil!" It's even better if the article is under "discretionary sanctions" so you can bring it to WP:AE and then it's more or less guaranteed that some banhammas come down.
There's a couple of other tricks that I'm forgetting right now, but that's basically how it works. I'd like to thank User:Skapperod for his help, over many years, in compiling/establishing the above checklist.
- Posted by User:Volunteer Marek at Wikipediocracy, April 24, 2013.
The reasons people don't edit at WP
Reasons why editors lose interest: One of the user surveys confirmed the problems in editor retention are mainly due to the common-sense reasons. So, answer the basic question: What factors would cause more people to drift away the fastest? Answers:
- Not knowing where help would be most valuable, as no priorities given.
- A feeling that contributions would be discarded, or not needed.
- Disputes with people who quarrel over edits or details.
- Not knowing the techniques to edit (lowest of reasons, as 9% of concerns).
Many people expected WP to be run as an organized system, which called for participation and directed efforts into specific areas, as might be common practice in a workplace. Because of the lack of positive reception to contributions, people obviously felt their work was dropped into a vacuum, or bottomless pit. That could be the result of posting to forums where many messages are rarely displayed, and without seeing a tangible response, people imagine the text goes into the "bit bucket". We often have people request the pageviews or search-counts of pages they write.
Meanwhile, the level of hostility in disputes has been cited as a reason why many female editors leave soon, as they preferred to chat about several subjects rather than fight endlessly about one pointless issue. Imagine what many university-educated people think when they read the disputes. Considering all the big factors where people lose interest, no wonder the new users rarely consider the editor-tool technology much of a concern, especially since over 95% of text is easily edited in some form, or ask for help to update 99.9% of pages.....
- —Wikid77 on Jimbotalk, 9:47 pm, October 13, 2013.
Ben Kovitz on the origins of Wikipedia
The conversation at the taco stand
Larry had been working for a while on Nupedia, a free on-line dictionary written by credentialed experts and following a strict review and certification process to ensure that every article was high quality and, above all, factually reliable. A lot of Larry's thought since I first got to know him back in 1994 had been devoted to how sources of knowledge can be reliable and unbiased. I believe he was always looking for foundational knowledge: something solid to build on, or at least as close to that as we can practically achieve. Nothing much had come of Nupedia, though. There were hardly any articles completed.
The previous several months, I had been participating heavily on two wikis: Ward Cunningham's original wiki and one called "Why Clublet", run by Richard Drake and Keith Braithewaite. I'd become interested in the way wiki pages would grow in directions that none of the contributors had anticipated, and sometimes with writing clearer and better than any one contributor was capable of. I was especially interested in how conflicting ideas could be explored in depth by separating discussion of them to different places. No back-and-forth head-on "debate", just parallel exploration of opposing ideas. I saw it work especially well when people focused on improving the quality of the writing and poorly when people tried to make the wiki officially declare their preferred view as the correct one. I had also been experimenting with Extreme Programming at work, and had discovered amazing synergy in pair programming. I liked how these structures enabled people working together to actually be smarter than people working alone--the exact opposite of "committee"-style collaboration, and also opposite from the kind of collaboration where each person "owns" a sectioned-off piece of the whole.
On January 2, 2001, Larry and I ate dinner at the taco stand at 1932 Grand in Pacific Beach, San Diego. I believe this taco stand had no name, just the words "MEXICAN FOOD" written on a window. (I have a picture of it.)
The conversation started with Larry telling me about Nupedia's progress since the last time we'd talked. Not many articles had been completed, but he was optimistic about Nupedia's future. He wanted to speed it up, though, and said he'd been looking at technological ways to speed up editing. I said that I knew of a really neat tool for fast collaborative editing: a wiki. Larry hadn't heard of wikis, so I told him all about them at great length.
I suggested that instead of just using the wiki with Nupedia's approved staff, he open it up to the general public and let each edit appear on the site immediately, with no review process. Instead of preventing error and bias, I said to openly invite error and bias and make it very easy for people to correct them. My exact words were to allow "any fool in the world with Internet access" to freely modify any page on the site. Also, I said that on wikis, there are no "completed" articles, there is just endless chaos and conflict. I suggested that this might actually lead to better reliability and richer content than the careful, circumspect approach.
Larry raised some objections and we debated a bit. Couldn't people just vandalize the site? I said yes, and other people could then repair the vandalism. Couldn't total idiots put up blatantly false or biased descriptions of things, to advance their ideological agendas? I said yes, and other idiots could delete those changes or edit them into something better.
I told Larry about some of the conventions on Ward's Wiki, like running words together to indicate a page name. I mentioned that this required me to give the Ward's Wiki page about Aristotle the name "MrAristotle." Larry cringed at that.
Larry was not completely convinced by my answers to his objections about quality, but he definitely liked the way the wiki concept enabled a great increase in editing speed, and he was eager to try it. We went over to his apartment, and he tried to call his boss at Bomis, Jimbo Wales. Jimbo didn't answer, so Larry left voicemail. Larry and I talked about philosophy for a while, and roughly half an hour later Jimbo called back. They talked for ten or fifteen minutes. After the conversation, Larry had a big smile on his face. Larry said that he felt very optimistic that the idea would proceed, and that Jimbo was quite open to it.
Within a couple weeks, Wikipedia had gone live, and Larry had posted the WikiPedia page on Ward's Wiki, inviting people to come contribute.
It's a rare thing to tell someone to do something exactly the opposite of what he's been doing and get a fair hearing. It almost never happens that someone actually takes the suggestion. But Larry listened to what I had to say, let his imagination engage, and ran with it. Back then, wikis were a very hard concept to "get", but Larry's mind began percolating immediately, and he got things started that very night.
It was extraordinarily fortunate that Larry was working for Jimbo. Jimbo had both the means and the vision to get Wikipedia moving. Jimbo had stoked my interest in the power of collective knowledge years earlier in a post to the MDOP discussion list about sports betting and how it sets the "line" more reliably and accurately than any individual bettors.
I'm not one of the founders
Some folks, aiming to criticize or belittle Jimmy Wales, have taken to calling me one of the founders of Wikipedia, or even "the true founder". I suggested the idea, but I was not one of the founders. I was only the bumblebee. I had buzzed around the wiki flower for a while, and then pollinated the free-encyclopedia flower. I have talked with many others who had the same idea, just not in times or places where it could take root.
In my opinion, Larry Sanger most certainly is a co-founder of Wikipedia. Larry came up with the perfect name and got the word out. He found people who were eager to contribute and got them writing articles a matter of weeks. Larry crafted the policies that converted Wikipedia from a cool idea into a practical success: Neutral Point of View, No Original Research, and Verifiable Sources. He wrote most of the original help and policy files, showing people how to get started and what the project was all about. He did the day-to-day political work of persuading people to participate in accord with those policies, both in letter and in spirit (and took a lot of abuse for it). Without these and much more, Wikipedia might have ended up a chaotic jumble of people shouting each other down, like many pages on Ward's Wiki. It is the only case I know of where a philosopher applied his knowledge of philosophy to a practical problem to get great results, benefiting millions of people.
You have Larry to thank for "Be Bold". You have Larry to thank for getting Wikipedia started, no less than Jimmy Wales. The only people you have to thank more are the tens of thousands of people who actually wrote Wikipedia and are still writing it every day. —Ben Kovitz, Nov. 23, 2006; as last modified Aug. 25, 2009.
Response from Larry Sanger
Hi Ben, I hope you don't mind if I respond on your page; we can move it to mine, if you prefer.
You have certainly remembered some more of the details than I do, and there is one point where your memory diverges significantly from mine. You say, "I suggested to Larry that he make Nupedia into a wiki." But I don't actually recall any such actual suggestion. What I do recall is that you talked on for quite a while about wikis. I then said something like, "Wow, that's really interesting — that sounds like a piece of cheap (free), available software we could use to solve this problem with Nupedia." And then, I think, I described the problems we were having with Nupedia. And then I am very sure we talked at great length about how a wiki could be used to build an encyclopedia. I also remember that you explained and defended the idea of a wiki very well!
Also, you say, "Larry was skeptical at first." This is probably true, because I am skeptical of everything at first, even my own ideas. But you did not have to persuade me to think about it; what I distinctly recall is that the realization that "a website anyone could write on" could be applied to the encyclopedia problem was nearly instantaneous, and I was nearly instantly excited by the idea. So I might have been skeptical at first, but I was very excited, and you didn't need to persuade me to think it through.
I remember laughing at "MrAristotle." I still do!
Now, you say that I called Jimmy Wales when I got home, but to be perfectly honest, I don't recall you stopping by my apartment, and I don't recall calling Jimmy Wales, either. But if you have a clear recollection of that, then it must have happened. Perhaps I do have some vague inkling of that. Anyway, what I do very distinctly recall is that I wrote a document, one or two pages long (I think it was just one page long), describing how a wiki encyclopedia would work. I believe I sent it to Wales that very night, and he had a wiki set up for me to play with either Jan. 3 (the next day) or Jan. 4. I forget; might have been two days. I was never told who actually set up the wiki software. There was a sysop who could have done it, but Jimmy has claimed responsibility for it — whatever. It was very easy to set up UseModWiki, I understand.
Finally, let me comment on this:
- It's a rare thing to tell someone to do something exactly the opposite of what he's been doing, indeed the exact opposite of how he's been thinking and investing mentally for most of his life, and get a fair hearing. It almost never happens that someone actually takes the suggestion. But Larry listened to what I had to say, let his imagination engage, and ran with it.
This is disappointing, Ben, because there is apparently a few things about me that you do not understand, even though we have talked so much. :-) First, I had hoped that Nupedia would be more efficient. In fact, that was one of the aims I set myself with it; when it turned out not to be efficient, I again set myself to fix the problem. So, while Wikipedia was much more efficient than Nupedia, it was always part of the plan to create a truly efficient, productive system. Second, as anyone who observes me working knows, I am constantly trying to think of ways to make things work better. I "let [my] imagination engage"? Good lord, I have to restrain my imagination. In that regard, I am what people call (loosely) a "pragmatist": I am always thinking up and trying out new things. Moreover, I don't think that that is in any contradiction, or even any interesting tension, with my desire for a solid foundation for knowledge. Having reliable knowledge is one value; having lots and lots of knowledge is another important value, one that I have always held up. Besides, I think that imagination is one of the most important keys to knowledge, both theoretical and practical: that is the faculty we use to generate hypotheses and solve problems. With the Citizendium, I have retained what worked with Wikipedia, and gotten rid of some of what didn't work. In the long run, I expect that we will have more articles than Wikipedia, more content, and better content. If I didn't believe that was possible, I wouldn't have started the project.
And as far as this goes — "It was extraordinarily fortunate that Larry was working for Jimbo. Jimbo had both the means and the vision to get Wikipedia moving" — this does me a disservice, I think, Ben. You weren't actually present when it happened, but as those who were generally attest, I was the one who got Wikipedia moving in its first year. At the time, Wales was (as far as I know) working full-time as CEO as Bomis, and had relatively little to do with Wikipedia's actual origins. He was pretty hard to get a hold of, and didn't do that much work on or off the wiki. He, with his partners, had the means to get it going: Bomis could pay me and could pay for the servers and technical support. But Wales' "vision" was sketchy at best, limited to a very few, and vague, guidelines. The basic principles of the project were articulated by me, and I pushed them, day in and day out. Of course, many of the regulars also reinforced these principles very well — many of them rather more than Wales himself did. Of course, again, I don't mean to criticize you, Ben — I'm just tired of Wales getting so much credit for work, and "vision," he did not do or have.
The original name of Wikipedia was "Nupedia's Wiki"
On Jan. 17, 2001, 'dhcp058.246.lvcm.com' (presumably Larry Sanger) wrote:
Welcome to Nupedia's wiki! This might become the "WikiPedia" since some Nupedia members have reservations about associating a wiki with the Nupedia name.
You might have some questions; explore the links to find answers:
And of course,
- What are your NewTopics?
If you have other questions, just ask on the NupediaWikiFaq.
This wiki is an experiment. But, for those who might be confused about this point, it is not Nupedia. Nupedia is a serious encyclopedia project found at http://www.nupedia.com . This wiki is a proposed "fun" supplement to Nupedia!
The name "WikiPedia" seems to have been adopted that same day.
On the origins of the concept of "Neutral Point of View"
Wikipedia began in January 2001 as a parallel Web 2.0 offshoot of a more conventional expert-written-and-peer-reviewed internet encyclopedia called Nupedia. Both of these were projects of Jimmy Wales' Bomis (originally a search engine company) under the administration of editor-in-chief Larry Sanger. Sanger wrote the guidelines for Nupedia, which trickled over to Wikipedia. Here is Sanger's earliest preserved take on what we know today as the doctrine of NPOV:
NUPEDIA.COM STATEMENT OF EDITORIAL POLICY (Version 2.1, May 10, 2000)
III. GENERAL NUPEDIA POLICIES
C. LACK OF BIAS.
Nupedia articles are to be unbiased. There may be respectable reference works that permit authors to take recognizable stands on controversial issues, but this is not one of them.
This question is a good (albeit not infallible) test of a lack of bias: "On every issue about which there might be even minor dispute among experts on this subject, is it very difficult or impossible for the reader to determine what side the author falls on?"
This requires that, for each controversial view discussed, the author of an article (at a bare minimum) mention various opposing views that are taken seriously by any significant minority of experts (or concerned parties) on the subject. In longer articles, of course, opposing views will be spelled out in considerable detail. In a final version of the article, every party to the controversy in question must be able to judge that its views have been fairly presented, or as fairly as is possible in a context in which other, opposing views must also be presented as fairly as possible. Moreover, if objections to any particular views are offered (which will be an essential component to certain articles, e.g., those on philosophy and public policy), the most serious or relevant objections to other, opposing views must be offered as well. The reader should, ideally, be given the tools for deciding the issue; or, failing that, the reader should be introduced to the problems that must be solved in order to decide the issue.
On a controversial issue, it is usually important to state which views, if any, are now (or were at some time) in favor and no longer in favor (among experts or some other specified group of people). But even this information can and should be imparted in such a fashion as not to imply that the majority view is correct, or even that it has any more presumption in its favor than is implied by the plain fact of its popularity.
To present a subject without bias, one must pay attention not just to the matters of which views and arguments are presented, but also to their wording or the tone in which they are mentioned. Nupedia articles should avoid describing controversial views, persons, events, etc., in language that can plausibly be regarded as implying some value judgment, whether positive or negative. It will suffice to state the relevant facts, to describe various views about those facts, and then let readers make up their own minds about what the correct views are.
This policy does not mean that you may not, to a large extent, speak with your own voice in terms of writing style (certainly you may; and see below). Writers should avoid use of the first person, however; the third person will be expected, and if thefirst person is used, it will require editorial approval (it will have to be for a very good reason).
The earliest extant statement of Neutral Point of View on Wikipedia itself was saved on Feb. 16, 2001. Later versions intimate this was written by Jimmy Wales. It reads in full:
NEUTRAL POINT OF VIEW
A general purpose encyclopedia is a collection of synthesized knowledge presented from a neutral point of view. To whatever extent possible, encyclopedic writing should steer clear of taking any particular stance other than the stance of the neutral point of view.
The neutral point of view attempts to present ideas and facts in such a fashion that both supporters and opponents can agree. Of course, 100% agreement is not possible; there are ideologues in the world who will not concede to any presentation other than a forceful statement of their own point of view. We can only seek a type of writing that is agreeable to essentially rational people who may differ on particular points.
Some examples may help to drive home the point I am trying to make.
1. An encyclopedic article should not argue that corporations are criminals, even if the author believes it to be so. It should instead present the fact that some people believe it, and what their reasons are, and then as well it should present what the other side says.
2. An encyclopedia article should not argue that laissez-faire capitalism is the best social system. (I happen to believe this, by the way.) It should instead present the arguments of the advocates of that point of view, and the arguments of the people who disagree with that point of view.Perhaps the easiest way to make your writing more encyclopedic, is to write about what people believe, rather than what is so. If this strikes you as somehow subjectivist or collectivist or imperialist, then ask me about it, because I think that you are mistaken. What people believe is a matter of objective fact, and we can present that quite easily from the neutral point of view.
Note both NPOV as a mechanism for ameliorating disagreements between those holding divergent views on controversial issues on the one hand and the kernel of the unfortunate doctrine of "Verifiability Not Truth" on the other.
On the origins of the concept of "No Original Research"
"The phrase ["original research"] originated primarily as a practical means to deal with physics cranks, of which of course there are a number on the web. The basic concept is as follows: it can be quite difficult for us to make any valid judgment as to whether a particular thing is true or not. It isn't appropriate for us to try to determine whether someone's novel theory of physics is valid; we aren't really equipped to do that. But what we can do is check whether or not it actually has been published in reputable journals or by reputable publishers. So it's quite convenient to avoid judging the credibility of things by simply sticking to things that have been judged credible by people much better equipped to decide. The exact same principle will hold true for history..."
— Jimmy Wales, WikiEN-l, December 3, 2004.
A perspective on the emergence of notability doctrine
"Wikipedia started without any notability guidelines. It started with a list of what WP was not and after a while guidelines grew up to codify what it was that it wasn't. Reporting by external sources was eventually agreed to be the basis for deciding which topics should have articles rather than a subjective assessment by editors of what they thought was important. This led towards some objectivity at the cost of favouring populist topics that are all too often (in my view) based on unsatisfactory journalism. So, although I would give weight to an argument "the topic passes GNG but we should delete the article because ...", the "because" has to have some cogent reason relating to our general approach. Reasons such as "from our personal knowledge we know these reports are unreliable" absolutely will not do. We surrendered our personal judgements on importance to those of people who get themselves published. Balance is achieved by referring to diverse sources, not by omitting what we happen to think is unimportant."
— Thincat, at Deletion Review, July 7, 2014
A couple tidbits from 2001
In this WPO thread.
The history of copyright enforcement at WP
Start of a document I was planning on making part of the evidence at the RAN Arbcom case. LINK.
Carrite (talk) 19:33, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
My new favorite ArbCom member
@Fæ - as regards the Speedo account. I've looked at the edits and can see how they may be mistakes - though there are a number of them. Looking at your edits on 22 November 2009, you were editing in the morning as Ash until 12.33, then logged into the Speedo account to edit Ironmonger Row Baths at 12.56 returning to the Ash account at 12.59 to continue editing Ironmonger Row Baths. Possibly you paused for coffee, then when you went to log back in you typed the name and password of Speedo by mistake, and as soon as you realised you logged out and back into Ash. On 17 November 2009 you'd had a day editing swimming pool articles as Speedo and other stuff as Ash, crossing to and fro from one to the other. You finished the day as Speedo, crossing into the 18th where you edited Guildford Lido at 00.36, then at 00.51 edited Bude Sea Pool using AutoEd as Ash, realised your mistake, logged in as Speedo and made another edit on that article, again using AutoEd. On 7 October 2009 you were editing as Ash only - you hadn't used the Speedo account since 1 October. You edited Brockwell Lido as Ash at 18.42, then logged into the Speedo account at 19.02 to make another edit to the article before resuming your edits as Ash. That one is harder to account for, and now we have three mistakes with you not taking appropriate measures to prevent these mistakes occurring. On 21 September 2009 you edited as Ash until 9.24, then you created the Speedo account at 9.45, requesting a name change to Clifton Lido and The Victoria Public House at 10.12 - logged into the Ash account to make the name change at 10.15 to return to the Speedo account at 10.18 to resume editing. Perhaps you were thinking that someone might query how a new account would know how to move a page, so you constructed a situation in which the new account asks for the name change and an experienced account (Ash) then makes the name change.* [Can newly created accounts move pages? Was it that you couldn't move the page, so you had to get the Ash account to do it?] Whatever it was, this doesn't appear to be a mistake so much as poor judgement. I don't think, however one looks at it, that the use of these accounts was malicious - simply unwise or sloppy or both. And the use of these accounts was in the past, belonging to a previous account. The Wikipedia community dislikes people using multiple accounts in a secret manner, especially when there are edits on the same articles, so this doesn't reflect well on you, but by itself I don't think is a major sin. It's when this situation is put together with the circumstances of the CleanStart and the less than clear statement in the RfA that you need to think seriously about how you explain these matters. The community do appreciate and respect complete openness and honesty and admissions of mistakes. The more you embrace and trust the community the more the community will embrace and trust you. SilkTork 22:58, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Jorge Stolfi on Deletionism and other failings of WP
I have a small collection of Wikipedia commentary by Jorge Stolfi on a subordinate page located HERE.
A dissident view of Crowdsourcing
"It must be said that Wikipedia does not make it easy to play nicely. Its basic set-up is a bit like having people try to draw a copy of the Mona Lisa in the sand, while herds of children and strangers walk through the emerging picture, leave their footprints, or try to blank or improve bits. And you're required to assume they are all doing so in good faith. It would drive anyone mad."Received wisdom is, too many cooks spoil the broth. Crowdsourcing wisdom is, the more cooks, the better. But in practice, every featured article in Wikipedia is the work of one writer...or a small team. Crowdsourcing does not result in excellent articles." —JN466, on Wikipediocracy, July 2012.
Wikipedia's political situation, simply put
"Much as a stagnant pond is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other disease-transmitting insects, so Wikipedia's governance structure promotes the cancerous growth of mini-cabals composed of POV warriors, editors using ArbCom for political advantage, abusive administrators, and anyone who has come to this encyclopedia and stayed here for the conflict and policymaking. As much as Wikipedia prides itself on having minimal bureaucracy, it only has minimal public bureaucracy — private bureaucracies are alive and well, subverting those of true value to the encyclopedia for their own ends. Unfortunately, the content builders of the encyclopedia can no longer bear this burden. Centralized governance with authority, including hiring, sanctioning, and firing of admins by an Admin Review Committee, as well as content review committees for contentious topics such as Israel, Iran, and Alternative medicine, need to be created urgently..." —Wer900 • on Jimbotalk, 6:15 pm, April 19, 2013.
Jimmy Wales: "Voting is Evil..."
I believe in democracy myself... Carrite (talk) 07:14, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Then again, we do agree on some things...
- (1) "You know what? I fucking love motherfucking South Park." (Feb. 7, 2012)
- (2) "Everyone who thinks it is better to have an error in Wikipedia rather than correct information is always wrong at all times. There is nothing more important than getting it right. I'm glad that we're finally rid of the "verifiability, not truth" nonsense - but it's going to take a while before people really fully grasp what that means." (Sept. 25, 2012)
- (3) "...I don't like the term 'canvassing', even on-wiki. I think it's more often used by people who want to shut down an open dialogue than people who have a righteous cause for concern. Another word for 'canvassing' is "engaging more people in the discussion" — it's open to all sides. The idea that it's bad to go out and recruit editors when you see a problem in Wikipedia is problematic. That isn't to say that some kinds of approaches to that aren't annoying — they are — but in general, this paranoia about it is not justified." (Jan. 31, 2013)
- (4) "I think that Commons policy is enforced inconsistently and also needs some revision. I think that some of the people who are admins at Commons are among the weakest admins that we have in all the projects, and that this is a core part of the problem." (May 8, 2013)
- (5) "I have personally been frustrated in the past many times with the disastrous product roll-outs that we've seen (I am not talking about MV, but I'm sure we all remember Flagged Revisions and the Visual Editor). And I want that to change." (Aug. 28, 2014)
Warning template for WP vandalism coming from the IPs of Christian schools
Another one that needs to be used..
||An editor says that something's wrong with this page. That editor can't be troubled to fix it, but can sleep easy knowing that they stuck on a tag.
Please allow this tag to languish indefinitely at the top of the page, since nobody knows exactly why it's there.
Stolen from Gigs' user page, it would seem.
- Jimmy Wales keynote on civility at Wikimania, Aug. 10, 2014
- IRC interview with Damon Sicore, Oct. 9, 2014