User:JWSchmidt

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"Openness and inclusiveness are ..... our radical means to our radical ends." (source)


Welcome to User:JWSchmidt! Feel free to edit this page, but since it is my user page, I get the last word. If you just want to leave me a message use my user talk page.

Change is good. Ethics.

What Wikipedia means to me[edit]

I often wonder what it is like for most people who try to learn MediaWiki markup. One day I watched a new editor spend several minutes and many edits trying to create a new external link. I finally stepped in and did it. I'm not sure that most web surfers find it easy to become Wikipedians. Wikipedia naturally selects for certain types of people and that means as a group Wikipedia editors have biases.

When I think about the youngest Wikipedia users, I feel like they and I are from different universes. Some Wikipedians seem to have little interest in making an encyclopedia; they seem to view Wikipedia as a MMORPG (for example, see: Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-01-02/Experanza). I hate to imagine what might have happened had I been exposed to Wikipedia at a young age.

Wikipedia user JWSchmidt has been around the sun more than 45 times. That means that I am old enough to have lived through the whole personal computer age. I became interested in computers by reading science fiction such as that of Isaac Asimov. The first electronic computer I ever used was a Wang that had no CRT. Still, I was able to imagine a day when computers would change the world, including the way people learn about the world we find ourselves in. In less than 30 years I've gone from wishing to be able to get my hands on a computer with a CRT monitor to currently hoping that I never have to buy another CRT for a computer. Some computer technology like CRT monitors come, have their day in the sun and then fade away. The 3½-inch microfloppy diskette is another example.

What kind of technology is wiki?
Media Wiki logo and motto.

I learned chemistry in the age of the slide rule. The first computer program I ever wrote got stored on a cassette tape. And just to not keep you in suspense, I only had to walk 1 mile through the snow to get to school. I learned to do serious programming on an IBM 360 time sharing system and fell in love with the mathematically oriented APL programming language. The first computer I used for word processing was a NorthStar; absolutely not WYSIWYG! While I cursed the arcane markup code that I had to use on the NorthStar, little did I know that I was getting training for future technologies like MediaWiki.

The first computer I ever bought was a Macintosh Plus which provided my entry into the age of the Graphical User Interface. The first computer I ever connected to the internet was a Macintosh IIcx. As a scientist, access to the internet was as much of a relief as had been graduating from the command line to GUI. Today, we take for granted online resources such as those provided by the United States National Library of Medicine (see Entrez PubMed), but when I started using Entrez it was a gene sequence database that came by snail mail on CD-ROMs. When the internet boom started I quickly learned to use the World Wide Web and HTML, but I also soon discovered the limitations of conventional websites, particularly the constraints imposed on collaboration by the convention that few people are permitted to edit most webpages. Lucky for us all, these sorts of frustrations led to new software technology that allows for a distributed group of online editors to collaborate on the creation of webpages. Wiki technology is not something that will pass from use in one or two decades. I do expect dramatic evolution of wiki technology, but the basic power of distributed online group editing is no flash in the pan.

It will be interesting to watch the transformations of human society that are produced by wiki technology.
Wikipedia today.

It was by way of Wikipedia that I first learned about wiki as a technology that allows open access to webpages for multiple editors. I've been trying to grow my concepts so as to understand how to build communities in wiki user spaces. Wikipedia grew out of Nupedia, a frustrated effort to make an encyclopedia using conventional ("first generation") online tools for document construction and peer-review. The main problem with Nupdia was low throughput. Wikipedia used wiki technology to create a community where it was fun for volunteers to supply input and now there is a flood of content. Now we are in the process of harnessing that input and trying to move towards systems that will allow careful citation of sources and the production of higher quality articles.

Wikipedia of the future.

Towards that end, Wikipedia continues to evolve and to spin-off sister projects. I am very much concerned with how to promote higher quality in Wikipedia articles, and I am interested in the idea that a Wikiversity project could help.

I worry about the fact that WikiMedia projects are trying to provide to the world for free what many companies are trying to sell (see: "The Free Universal Encyclopedia and Learning Resource" by Richard Stallman) and, in some cases, what some powerful individuals and organizations would like to hide. How many people come to edit WikiMedia projects like Wikipedia just for the purpose of trying to disrupt them and prevent them from competing with commercial websites? How many editors are here in order to push a particular agenda? How many technical articles are edited by well-meaning students (and other amateurs) and how can Wikipedia involve experts in the editing process when existing errors are so off-putting?

I support the philosophy of "gently nudging participants in the direction of more appropriate behavior". Sometimes I feel that while I have been busy "gently nudging", I have been trampled by a stampede. I worry that some Wikipedians I respect have left Wikipedia because of this continuing problem. If we view Wikipedia as an experiment, we have to accept the possibility that it contains the seeds of its own ultimate failure. It is possible that Wikipedia will be remembered as an example of how not to run a wiki.....is it possible that the best we can hope for is that other wikis will learn from the failings of Wikipedia and do better? Jimmy Wales said, "I think we should run small experiments, tests, see what works, what doesn't, and be prepared to be flexible and change, and not be too locked into stone about how things should work." I wonder if this can be applied to Wikipedia? Has Wikipedia become an institution that is not able to examine its own problems and fix them? Does this force those Wikipedians who want to fix things to abandon the project?

Of course, our problems could be even worse than just being unable to improve; the project could attract so many POV pushers that they will take control. In my view Wikipedia:Attribution as a replacement for Wikipedia:Verifiability is an example of a downward trend. This policy change was supported by POV pushers who love to cite unverifiable sources such as propaganda web sites and include unverifiable content in Wikipedia because they can attribute it to a source. These people display a concept of "reliable source" that amounts to "it supports my point of view". These folks seem to live on Wikipedia and behave like paid propagandists citing their own websites in order to spread their propaganda on Wikipedia. At one time, there were good examples of reliable and unreliable sources at Wikipedia:Reliable sources. That has been eliminated now so that mostly bland generalities remain that deter nobody from citing sources that are unreliable because they cannot be verified. It will be interesting to see the response to Jimbo's objection. The policy "wonks" who have nothing better to do have taken policy merging to the logical extreme (see: Wikipedia:Overlapping policies and guidelines). "Proposals" to merge policies can now be routinely made without there actually being a proposal explaining the benefits. "I have nothing useful to do today so I'll merge some policy pages".

Dear JWSchmidt,[edit]

"We tried to get in contact with you almost a year ago, detailing our desires to utilise your account to help rid Wikipedia of the corruption and bureaucracy at every level that continues to plague it to this very day. We are hoping that, almost a year on, your circumstances may have changed and you may be more willing to aid us in achieving our goal. At the end of the day we all want the same thing - an encyclopedia that is informative and accurate, but one that is also run in a fair manner so all can contribute on an equitable level."
Kind Regards,
The Wikipedia Freedom Fighters

We are in for a wild wiki ride and I am glad to be here for it.       -John Schmidt
I founded the Molecular and Cellular Biology WikiProject.

Wikipedia projects I support[edit]

WikipediaWeekly
Wiki-PR, MP4 RFC, Art museum editathon, RFA
Fuzheado, Kevin Gorman, Guerillero, and WereSpielChequers discuss WikiPR developments, WikiVIP and multimedia in Wikipedia, a RfC on video support across Wikimedia projects, Andrew's American University Wikipedia class, which news sources Wikipedia use the most, plotting Wikipedia's geodata on maps, State of Wikipedia: Requests for Adminship, and popular articles of the last week. The podcast is available here.

Subscribe · Feedback · Talk to us on Skype!

See the guide to WikiProjects.

GLO1 Homo sapiens small fast.gif
  • Should work closely with Wikiversity:
  • LiquidThreads - will be useful for Wikiversity - Wikicite.
  • Science collaboration of the week - example: RuBisCO
  • Scientology WikiProject - I have a general interest in pseudoscience and New Age religions (see). Further, I think that the scientology-related articles provide a good example of one of the serious problems facing Wikipedia. It is instructive to look at the earliest versions of the scientology article, the earliest edits of the original version of the article (such as this), and how the scientology-related articles have evolved during the past five years. I would love to obtain some information about how the original version of the Wikipedia scientology article was produced.....I'm guessing it may have originated in nupedia. In any case, it was a fairly scholarly and NPOV article and it is sad to see how the article went down hill when it came under the influence of Wikipedians. It is clear that from its earliest moments scientology came under attack by an army of determined opponents. Some open questions to ponder: which is the more interesting phenomenon, scientology or anti-scientology? Will it ever be possible for Wikipedia to produce scholarly and NPOV articles about topics such as scientology or is Wikipedia perpetually doomed to suffer from its editors' biases?

"let's leave our political fights at the door to the greatest extent that we can"
--Jimbo in the WikiEN-l Digest, Vol 30, Issue 96, January 10, 2006.

Centralized discussion
Proposals Discussions Recurring proposals

Note: inactive discussions, closed or not, should be archived.

Examples of places I work[edit]

"Wikipedia is not a place to assess the morality of a person, their beliefs or their orientation, neither is it the place to advocate for or against a political or religious point of view." -(source, origin)

Other Wiki projects[edit]

See also[edit]

Wikiversity
Wikiversity has a page about:

Pending changes[edit]

Wikipedia:Reviewing | Wikipedia:Pending changes/Queue | Special:OldReviewedPages | Special:StablePages | (IRC #wikipedia-en-pending) |

What is pending changes? What does it do?
What is the purpose of the trial?
When would it be appropriate to use it?
How does the tool impact editors and readers?
How are reviewer rights obtained and removed?
What is the policy?
How are requests for "pending changes protection/unprotection" made for a page?

Key information:

To do:

  • Mark pages referencing other proposals, possible implementations etc as "historical"
  • Create necessary templates similar to semi-protection
  • Check if "reviewer" and "autoreviewer" need distinguishing anywhere
  • Inform users if needed (non-editor readers will probably rely on templates as for existing protection)(source)

Oso.jpg This user knows that bears are Godless killing machines without a soul.

This user is currently working on
Wikipedia:WikiProject Molecular and Cellular Biology.

External links[edit]