User:RandomP

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Hi! I'm an infrequent editor, and would like to remain anonymous (or pseudonymous, depending on your exact definition of that). Please do not consider that a challenge.

Advertising[edit]

Wikipedia is now running ads. I don't really have all that much of a problem with that, because they're well-separated from content, don't influence editorial decisions, and are relatively unobtrusive. However, I do have a real problem with how certain people try to redefine what "advertising" means in order to claim that the foundation receiving donations from a company in exchange for "thanking" that company prominently somehow does not constitute advertising, but ... a "cooperation in financial gift [sic]", if I'm reading this correctly. In particular, this paragraph:

Advertising is the placement of copy written by the advertiser, i.e., "Buy Joe's Widgets, they're the best". If we were selling pixels of space in a site notice, and the company were free to put whatever they want there, that would be advertising. We are explicitly not agreeing to do that, nor could we, without jeopardizing the tax-exempt status of these transactions.
Instead, we are agreeing to place a thank-you notice in recognition of a pledge to match funds donated by the community: it is through "the generous support of Company X that your donation today is being matched." The money collected will directly depend on the money the individual donors are ready to offer to the project. If very little money is collected from individual donors, very little money will come from companies. If individual donors are generous, companies will be generous. This is a cooperation in financial gift.
The presence of a logo and link in recognition and identification of the donor do not change the nature of the agreement, and the typical surfer to our site isn't going to be concerned one way or the other.

is pure doublespeak. In most advertising, the text is agreed upon by both the advertiser and the publisher, within certain constraints; Wikipedia's current constraints are very narrow ("no direct link, name of the sponsor only"), but not as narrow as they could be ("we'll include your logo, and there's a thanks page with a link to you"). Others have looser criteria, but even the American TV networks occasionally refuse to air certain ads because they don't agree with their content.

I don't want to accuse the board of dishonesty, but saying that "[the board has] no plans to put advertising on the site" at the same time as running messages such as the ones we're talking about is, at the very least, extremely disrespectful to those of us who prefer another definition of "advertising" (for example, the one actually used in dictionaries).

Again, I'm not necessarily opposed to advertising. It just appears fairly obvious to me that someone hasn't been doing a very good job. Too bad assignment of board members is pretty much random, and based only very vaguely on democratic ideas.

Elections[edit]

I am frankly appalled by the use of a dysfunctional (and discredited) electoral system called approval voting to fill a single empty position on the board of trustees. It is impossible to rationally decide whom to vote for in this system unless you have a fairly accurate idea of how others are going to vote; in the absence of opinion polls, this is indeed an impossibility.

The single transferable vote system provides a much better alternative; it can easily be modified to allow voters to rank only some, instead of all, candidates (simply "split" each vote into partial votes covering all possibilities for continuing the decision process of equal weight). Even non-instant runoff voting would improve upon this system.

I'm trying to find out who decided to use this system, whether there was any discussion leading up to it, and whether there's any way of moving to a sane system.

Update[edit]

The elections are over, and Erik Möller, whom 58% (a clear majority) of voters disapproved of, has joined the Board.

I have now been able to gather some information on this, after finding out that one of the "election officials" was actually absent for the entire duration of the elections, and has been since.

Frankly, I'd advise anyone who would like to join the Board to start writing a message that will cause as many voters as possible not to disapprove of you. Ignore voters who are only going to choose one or two candidates: in the election system we use, they just don't matter.

Being watched[edit]

I really appreciate being watched. I know I'm not perfect, and if one of my edits seems fishy to you, well, it might be. The right place to discuss such edits is usually the article's talk page, though feel free to use my talk page if you prefer.

Feel free to look at my recent contributions.

Okay, I know your an infrequent editor and I shouldn't be editing this page but the official name for Ireland is the Republic of Ireland. I was horrified to red that it was Ireland.You obviously don't live there. If you need to reply do so on Ireland:TalkP.S. you can check it out athttp://www.gov.ie/

Todo[edit]

My current projects:

  • try to clarify what Hubbert did or did not predict in the Hubbert peak theory article, and what he did or did not say. (Hmm .. the main problem remaining, to me, is that the article still can't decide whether it's about the logistic curve curve-fitting technique, the prediction that there will be a "bell curve", about an oil production peak, the millenialist movement set up by the likes of Deffeyes, or not about oil at all).
  • try to fix some of the pro-gold anti-fiat-money "governments are evil" anti-tax POV from gold/silver related articles: many of these articles are currently still advertisements for buying gold. (I'm taking a break from that, because it's fairly frustrating, and I'd like to see how the articles develop by themselves).
  • I'm currently looking at the "Economy" sections in all the country articles. Many of them have a severely non-neutral POV, sometimes copied directly from the CIA world factbook. (not much going on there lately. the large countries have very long economy sections, and for the small ones going through the week-notice and everything seems excessive, since there's not much of an audience. Also, having a single large country on my watchlist would dominate it.)

Things I'm contemplating:

  • restructure the interest, compound interest, annual percentage rate, annual yield rate, effective interest rate, rule of 72 (time value of money, net present value) article complex. The approach I'd like to see is:
    • exponential growth is a relatively simple, and it should be the concept all remaining articles start with
    • "simple interest" should be described as an anomaly, which is actually harder to work with than compound interest
    • most interest rates should probably be given with doubling periods, so as to make clear which convention is used
    • extreme care should be taken not to write examples using monetary amounts in a way that assumes the time value of money is constant.
    • national and legal conventions should generally be de-emphasised relative to a hypothetical world in which banks offer continuously-compounded interest on both loans and deposits, transaction fees are nonexistent, and late fees (and similar) do not occur.
  • spending more time thinking about changes to the mediawiki/wikipedia software, and the cool things we could, in theory, do.

Wikipedia's zenith of usefulness[edit]

There's a reason I won't spend too much time on Wikipedia. I think it's rapidly nearing the zenith of its usefulness, the point where you should grab a database dump and use that archived version of Wikipedia rather than the current version, because the out-of-date information will be more useful than the one made worse by continuing edits.

Put another way, I disagree with Wikipedia policy. For certain edits, I feel it's worth it to adhere to it anyway, and make them, and for certain others, I feel it's not, so I don't make them. I also have no idea, to be honest, how WP policy is made. The talk page for policy pages usually is devoted to flame wars, the history is unreadable because it consists mostly of vandalism being reverted. There are references to mailing lists on which, apparently, such decisions are made, without mere mortal editors being involved at all. It's frustrating, and essentially I feel it's easiest not to bother changing or discussing policy much; some edits may be possible, and some things I care about may be worth it to jump through whatever random hoops have been installed by .. well, by whoever installed them, without a hint of rationale or discussion, but serious work on Wikipedia often seems unduly masochistic to me.

Verifiability[edit]

In short, I believe the entire verifiability requirement was best handled the way it used to be: if you doubt something that's in an article, you say so on the talk page, and if no verification is forthcoming, you remove it. Instead, there seems to be a movement that strives to turn every Wikipedia article in a summary of whatever book on the subject some editor happened to be reading.

WP's layout doesn't work well for sources. Adding them is downright painful, and so is reading an article that cites a reference after every sentence.

Limiting WP to statements that have been published essentially in the same form is boring. The way some people seem to read the policy, it's perfectly acceptable to remove any statement whatsoever that isn't, at most, a paraphrased quote from another source.

Articles should contain only material that has been published by reputable sources.

No. Articles should only use material that has been published by verifiable sources.

Editors adding new material to an article should cite a reputable source, or it may be removed by any editor.

I agree with this as a last-ditch solution. If a statement is both apparently correct and reliable sources can be found with an obvious Google query, it is verifiable.

The obligation to provide a reputable source lies with the editors wishing to include the material, not on those seeking to remove it.

I would much prefer if this were restated to say that the obligation lies with editors wishing to keep material in the article, but generally agree with it.

I also have a particular problem with the concept of verifiability for mathematical content. Mathematical statements are verifiable if there is a proof for them, and the existence of outside sources isn't always necessary (or even sufficient! If there's a mistake in a proof in a published article, that non-theorem should no longer be written about on Wikipedia, unless the mistake itself is notable). If there's a handy reformulation of a mathematical theorem that makes sense in an article, and there is a simple proof for it, I'm apparently still not allowed to write the reformulation on the page and put the proof on the talk page.

There are several such examples, where I believe things are described that should happen on Wikipedia, would happen in real encyclopedias, under certain conditions, but are discouraged strongly in favour of just quoting existing formulations by the verifiability policy as it stands:

  • rewrite a mathematical theorem to suit an article
  • change a theoretical or thought experiment to an equivalent one that might be easier to understand
  • do some basic calculations that the source you cite has not done
  • convert units or currency units.

In many cases, verification should be done in metadata, not in the article. While obviously it should be possible for other editors to verify the content of an article, and that potentially includes all readers, we still shouldn't present passive readers with a mere summary of our sources. Beyond everything else, that simply devolves into advertising in many cases, as anyone can verify by searching Wikipedia for "excellent book" or similar terms.

At the very least, I would like sources to be put into a separate "tab" (analogous to the "discussion" tab) in certain circumstances.

Other things[edit]

On various subpages of my user page, you can find:

Comment[edit]

I don't know if it is appropriate to comment here, so I apologize in advance if this is erroneous, but I wanted to comment about your comment on mathematical proofs. I haven't checked the Wikipedia:Policy pages to verify this, but I am pretty sure that Wikipedia is not supposed to be an original source of information. Personally, I would never cite wikipedia as a credible source because I see wikipedia articles as secondary in the flow of information. Just because something is true or something is accurate does not mean it should be included in wikipedia. You don't have to cite anything on the article page really as long as it is verified on the talk page, so pages shouldn't have too many citations unless they are current events or controversial issues. Also, just because a source is verifiable does not mean that information should be included since very limited-importance articles could be supported by countless "sources" of limited-importance. Anyway, just thought I should respond. Flying Hamster 02:55, 21 March 2007 (UTC)