User:Stevertigo/Conceptualization

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This essay proposes an alternative way of thinking about article concepts, and does not document current practice

Conceptualization or abstraction, in the context of editing and writing Wikipedia articles, is a modality of editorial thought, in which articles are regarded more for their ability to represent concepts rather than specific objects, such that articles can be explanatory in a general and abstract way, rather than be overly concerned with particular ideas and localized terms. Concept articles are written with abstractions first in mind, while the particular terminologies come second.

Conceptualism is in contrast with the specialistic nomenclature (cf. taxonomy) of specialization, in which articles tend to represent distinct localized concepts, and little attention is paid to how these concepts relate to one another. For example, ATW, the authors of veganism fail to mention vegetarianism in their lede - a necessary distinction to make in the lede of any article where the concepts are too similar to assume no ambiguity exists, or where the failure to make the distinction is itself made for only polemic reasons. (See also Wikipedia:Concept cloud).

The basic goals of this modality, as applied to Wikipedia, are:

  1. All distinct concepts should be represented as distinct articles.
  2. Within a topic, the higher concept article should be the most developed.
  3. If there is a valid conceptual abstraction of a concept or topic..
    1. ..for which there is no article: Create one.
    2. ..for which there are many disparate articles: Create one, list all of the relevant ones (Ex: divine presence), and link to the higher concept from each.
    3. ..for which there is no canonical term: Create one, using multiple common terms: (ex: "sugar water" "Iraq disarmament crisis")
  4. Create topic boxes liberally, and use them as an editorial tool to organize related topics, and to develop the articles within (cf. template:needs box and template:standard).
  5. Focus on the leads of the higher concept articles until they are as good as you can make them. The details follow.

Blue sky mining[edit]

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Another concept that the conceptualization modality counters is the 'blue sky mining fallacy' or the 'creator fallacy' —the notion that certain naturally-occurring concepts and ideas ("blue sky") are "originated" from or "invented" and even owned ("mine") by particular individuals. Simply put, just because someone was first to write a book, paper, or thesis on a general concept, it should not be said that the concept itself originates with them, and it can not ever be said that the concept belongs to them.

Both Wikipedia's reliable sources requirements, along with the tendency to write articles in taxonomical rather than conceptual ways, play into this fallacy. The result is that particular individuals are not only credited as forumlators or expounders upon a basic idea, but the article is written as if no one had ever even thought of the subject before, let alone dealt with it in some less explicit or expository way. Skymining often carries with it an element of neologia, such that a new term is given by the originator such that even a very common concept can be re-hashed in accord with a particular framework.

Conceptualization can easily correct these problems, and skymining-form articles (ledes first) can be rewritten conceptually, even while still giving a strong degree of weight to the "originator". They must deprecate any attributions from the first few sentences at least, and deal instead with the direct meaning of the topic/concept in question. Articles about particular re-formulations of general concepts can use conceptualization to amend the lede, for sake of putting the skymined concept into a more general context, and linking to those more general (conceptual) articles.