User talk:Pcw

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Hello Pcw and welcome to Wikipedia! Hope you like it here, and stick around.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Good luck!

Re your user page[edit]

In my mind, disk space is very cheap and time is expensive. If someone wants to build a page about their left toe, then I have no complaints. As long as an article isn't clogging up the namespace for someone else, I say "Keep". You never know when the knowledge might be useful in the future. The rules for significance are really much different when the only cost is diskspace.

There are other sites for that; try Everything2. Here, a certain standard is attempting to be maintained, so that when people search for George Washington, they aren't deluged with three hundred links like George Washington's left toe and My auntie says she slept with George Washington's nephew. No doubt some information on Dartmouth is useful - perhaps even info on each individual building. I have not voted on the VfD'd articles, perhaps some of those are a rash reaction to what initially appeared to be a huge wave of new people who don't quite know what goes on here. Again, to add anything you want, try Everything2.

Here's a question - if you maintained a wiki that was only about Dartmouth, would you appreciate people adding hundreds of pages on their left toes and how much Cornell rocks? Or would you attempt to keep this from happening, to keep your wiki purely about Dartmouth?

I think we do appreciate any attempt to expand knowledge of Wikipedia in the world at large, but part of that is understanding just what Wikipedia is. Welcome aboard. :) --Golbez 16:17, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • I really don't understand this last analogy about a Dartmouth-centric wiki. It's not like Dartmouth is on one planet and the Wikipedia is devoted to another planet. I don't see how the posts of the students are injecting some obviously inappropriate material about topics that are clearly out-of-bounds. The complaints seem to be that it their contributions are "non-notable", something that just seems like a codeword with no logical basis to me. Pcw 03:14, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
    • Many people make specific wikis. Wikipedia is just a lot more general than those, but still not as general as Everything2. For example, you won't find public domain books on Wikipedia; those go to Wikibooks. There are places for such things. Wikipedia is for bigger-picture stuff; if one wants to handle smaller-picture stuff, like every nuance of Dartmouth life, or perhaps every city block in a town, or every software program available for Linux, one can start their own wiki. I have no opinion on the VfD'd articles, I have not voted on them one way or another. I don't have much problem with them; it was probably the volume that caught editors off guard. Finally, I happen to find your analogy with the Negro League a bit distasteful. You're making an assumption about the editors nowadays about possible behavior decades ago. I suppose I should apologize for getting involved, but I wanted to try my hand at diplomacy. I'm sorry if I failed. It is nice to have someone spreading the gospel about wikipedia, and once more, I have little problem with how that gospel was spread. --Golbez 07:28, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I think it would be less contentious, and more valuable for Wikipedia, as well as your students and your desire to expose them to the concept of building things using Open Source, if you suggested to them to write about topics besides the college, such as beefing up the article on Hanover, New Hampshire, starting with the red links. Actually, filling in the red links at Dartmouth College would also be mutually beneficial. Other topics that would be helpful are subjects in other classes they're taking that Wikipedia does not yet cover, any museums or other cultural institutions they know of, either near the college or in their hometowns, landmarks they've visited, geography, such as starting articles for the red links at List of New Hampshire rivers, or similar lists for their home states, etc., starting articles for the red links at New Hampshire, or their home state, or going to List of reference tables, selecting topics they are interested in or have knowledge about and drill down and fill in red links they find. Niteowlneils 21:08, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)


PS The biggest problem I see with the articles is that most of them were started as "orphans" (ie nothing links to them), so they won't be found unless a reader is looking for that specifc name. The best way to avoid that is to find pages with red links, and start those "requested" articles. There are more suggestions at Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia. Also, to try and get a better understanding of what the general Wikipedia community considers 'the line' of notability, you might want to skim Wikipedia:What's in, what's out. Wikipedia is intended to cover the entire universe, over all of time, so there has to be some threshold. Niteowlneils 22:27, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)


  • All good suggestions, but some are a bit unworkable. All are young and don't know much about these things. The suggestions for schools asks them to write about what they know. Alas, most probably don't know much about Hanover. It might be nice if they did, but it's not really their world. (Plus, here's actually less to Hanover in many ways than Dartmouth. No movie theaters, for instance, in Hanover, but several at Dartmouth.) For the record, a number did fill out stubs.Pcw 03:14, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)



Re "disk space is very cheap."

This is not a rhetorical question. Pcw, have you, by any chance, made a donation, however small, any donation at all the Wikimedia foundation? I understand fully that the actual cost of the disk space that will be used by your project will be tiny. I have no idea how much the disks they use in their servers actually cost, but I'd think that an ultra conservative estimate is that the cost of your students' articles, edit histories, and disk space involved in discussions such as this one is less than a dollar. The phrase "just my $0.02" comes to mind. But nevertheless I'd like to know, because I'm not sure whether the people who say "disk space is cheap" are actually putting their money where their mouths are. I donated $25 last year and $50 this year, by the way. I don't want to know how much you've donated. I just want a yes or no, have you donated anything at all?
However, it's really a side question. The main question is not "are Wikipedia's standards and practices sensible to Pcw." I may feel that it wouldn't really cost Dartmouth anything if people simply walked in and occupied vacant seats in lecture halls and audited courses without paying, but I expect that Dartmouth probably feels that they are entitled to set their own policies on such things, regardless of how convincing I may find my own arguments to be. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 23:43, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Actually, I was just going to push the button on a donation before all of this boiled up. Now, a few nasty folks have really left a bad taste in my mouth. While some have bent over backwards to accommodate the good-faith contributions of some students, some have gone on a bit of a warpath, slinging around words like "crap". I'll probably forget all of this after a few days and send the donation. The votes of some folks on the VFD pages seem to suggest that this site won't devolve into a clubby mess of insiders arguing over whether newcomers are truly notable. (My favorite: "The information is apparently accurate and doesn't overlap with any other articles. Are we afraid of making too much information available on Wikipedia?") Pcw 03:14, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
As mentioned in my longish note below: pay attention to what is actually happening, i.e. what the actual outcomes of the VfD process are, and try to ignore the tone, and see what you think. Some of us mark our edits "remove promotional language" and some of us mark them "crap deletion" but it amounts to the same thing. There is, however, no doubt that the VfD process is one of the places where we frequently fall short of the policy Don't bite the newbies. And, yes, the policy pages are widely scattered. That's because the policy creation process is, basically, people write whatever policies they like and if people start adopting them and citing them, they are the policy. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 15:44, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Your class project[edit]

G'day Peter

Welcome to Wikipedia!

You might like to look at Wikipedia:School and university projects and Wikipedia:Village_pump#It_Came_From_Dartmouth_College if you haven't already done so. I think we need to do some work on this. Those who vote to delete some of your students' articles are only implementing well established policy which is understood by the community here. Andrewa 21:42, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

PS I appreciate that some of your students might have created articles in good faith which you need to assess in some way. Would it help you or them if the deletion of those listed as unencyclopedic was delayed? I can't promise to get support for this, but I'm prepared to try if you can give me a definite date by which the assessment will be concluded. Andrewa 21:49, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I'd certainly support such a proposal, assuming it's a reasonable timeframe, ie days or weeks, not months. Niteowlneils 22:53, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Hello, it might be interesting to mirror wikipedia for your project, or install mediawiki for yourself. :-)

In totally different news, you forgot to sign your vote on Wikipedia:Votes_for_deletion/5_Die. No problem, you can still do that now. It's not hard to do, just add 4 tildes (~~~~), and the wiki will automatically insert your name and the time and date when you hit save page. :-)

have a nice day! Kim Bruning 23:12, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

And don't worry if some people above sound a bit scroogy or so, people always sound scroogy everywhere, even sometimes if they don't intend to. They certainly won't bite if you don't :-) Kim Bruning 23:54, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • Bah! Humbug! Kidding. I got your note, and I thank you for weighing in. My opposition to the articles stems from reasons other users have already stated. Still, everyone here is enthusiastically encouraging you and your students to contribute under the open-content guidelines. We have too many real vandals boinking this site to want to chase off any well-meaning contributors. Welcome to the craziest site on the Internet! - Lucky 6.9 00:38, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Please don't go away[edit]

We don't want you or your students to go away mad. We don't want you or your students to go away. The class assignment looks good. You didn't specifically encourage Dartmouth as a subject, which makes me wonder whether there might be articles your students have contributed that were just fine and were never even considered for VfD.
You encouraged your students to stay inside the definition, and that was a good page to refer them to. The articles being debated seem to me to verge on fan pages/encomia.
Encourage your students to create accounts so we can communicate with them.
How are your students reacting to what is happening? [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 14:19, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Further thoughts. It's unfortunate but probably unavoidable that VfD has evolved a style of curt and dismissive shorthand expressions, and an irritable tone, when describing endlessly recurrent situations. This tone masks what's actually going on.
Listing something on Vfd represents someone's provisional guess. It represents the initiation of what is frequently a long and deliberative discussion and consensus-building process. Very often people will list something because they don't know about it. The listings are not done by subject-area experts. During VfD discussions, you will frequently see people using due diligence, trying to determine whether a particular band is notable or whether it's just someone and his friends trying to promote themselves; try to determine whether Sekants Time is actually in use or just someone's own crackpot notion, etc. And you will often see things emerge, as during the discussion of Winter Carnival where several people, including myself, indicate that it was not just another winter festival but did have special claims to notability.
In other words, from your point of view it may have looked as if people were trying to marginalize Dartmouth and deleting articles for that reason, but I don't think that was really happening. From mine, it looked as if we might be seeing a systematic effort to promote Dartmouth by creating large numbers of articles about it, but that wasn't really happening, either.
Re recurrent situations. Did you really create a "sockpuppet?" Sockpuppets are additional accounts or identities created by a single user in order to cast multiple votes, give an appearance of more support than an opinion actually has, etc. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 15:36, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

What are you doing now?[edit]

Are you now REQUIRING your students to create articles about Dartmouth trivia? Have you seen what's going on on the Articles for deletion page? Your students have failed the assignment if their articles get deleted, because your requirement was that they follow the rules of Wikipedia, which it is obvious they are not doing. Suggest that they write about their home towns, their favorite musicians, movies, books, ANYTHING but the most trivial aspects of student life at Dartmouth. RickK 05:38, Aug 24, 2004 (UTC)

Oh my. You can read the assignment here. They were asked to write about topics that matter to them. They were asked to contribute things that they wish were in the Wikipedia. They're different people than you. They've had a different life than you. So it's not surprising that they've interpretted the rules differently than you. I think all of them interpretted the rules in good faith and I think all of them contributed something that they think is, in some way, valuable and notable. I personally think your last line is rather telling. You seem to feel that "ANYTHING" is more notable than something from Dartmouth. I really don't agree.Pcw 18:27, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

RickK is an especially grouchy Wikipedian. Don't fall into the trap of buying into what he says. I think most of the articles your students provided fall well within the rules. They don't seem any less "important" than articles like Bean Hollow State Beach, which RickK himself created. anthony (see warning) 21:40, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Class project[edit]

Hi Pcw, see that you're doing a class project with Darthmouth. Let me know if you need any hints, as I did the same thing with my class just last year. Thanks. Fuzheado | Talk 05:42, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Some suggestions[edit]

While new articles are still being frequently created on Wikipedia, it is hard for a new user to know which new ones are appropriate. I think that may partially be responsible for the trouble your students have run into on VfD.

Rather than require a new article, ask them to make two significant edits to existing articles which are regularly monitored. For example, there is some discussion regarding the economics section of the People's Republic of China article, (see the talk page). Trying to rewrite that section, and dealing with the other users who are sure to jump in with their opinions, reversions and revisions is sure to be a real adventure and a fine introduction to how a wiki works.

Likewise making a significant improvement to Culture of the United States or Israel is a serious challenge sure to prove a rigorous introduction to Wikipedia editing.

So I think the assignment should run like this. Locate a Wikipedia article which has been edited by at least 10 different editors within the last month and made edits which substantially improve the article. Fred Bauder 13:01, Aug 24, 2004 (UTC)

Via this post on Wikien. Professor Fuzheado's class, as I recall posted a couple of VFDworthy entries, but I dont think its any different for any newbie (self included) to test the bounds of what is deletable. If by "simply writing what they know" you mean "this is the full extent of the quantifiable knowlege of some of my students" (Chico state) then Ill simply chuckle and move on. More teachers should do this kind of thing, and then wave all textbook purchase requirements. ;) -SV 15:34, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)


List of students[edit]

Can you give us a list of the articles on which your students have worked please? I'm trying to cross reference them, but its a pain in the backside, and you said in your instructions to students to give you the details. We need to do this to verify them; some of them are good. Many of them are bloody awful. Dunc_Harris| 21:59, 24 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I don't think that you should be under any obligation to invade the privacy of your students for the sake of curing the pain in the backside that Dunc Harris evidently deserves. Everyone here has the right to anonymity, and if Mr. Harris wants to pursue the preservation of his bodily humours like a Dr. Stangelove no one is obliged to be complicit.
Your exercise was an excellent one, and despite the fact that some of the articles may have had a distinctly local flavour, I believe that they were quite appropriate. I would encourage you to repeat the exercise when academic circumstances warrant. It will at least be a helpful lesson in dealing with human nature. Eclecticology 23:50, 2004 Aug 24 (UTC)
Several have others have requested this suggesting that it might help matters if people could measure the real contributions from the class. I'm unsure whether it violates their privacy or not (It is a very public site), but it would require some work to get this all typed up. Unfortunately, I've got two other major deadlines. Plus, the final is this Saturday so everyone has other things to focus upon.
I can tell you that there should be at least 200 of them, most of them sailing right under the nose of those with a real knee-jerk animus toward their contributions. Pcw 01:37, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
No one has a "real knee-jerk animus" against material from Dartmouth people. What people do have a problem with is a mass of material that disrespects Wikipedia policy and consensus. I suspect there's been plenty of good contributions as well - and if so, that would be why they haven't been touched. But please, please ask your students to respect the site's policies, and not to create articles on non-notable material. Both for our sake, and for theirs, as anything outside of that is likely to end up being deleted, and wasting both our time and theirs. Ambi 06:52, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Maybe you could point him to the policy on non-notable material. I, for one, didn't know we had one (beyond that non-notable material isn't worthy of note, which is true by definition). anthony (see warning) 12:16, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)


I have to agree with this point. The assignment points them toward many of the pages for newcomers. (All, well-written I might add.) None of them explicitly talk about notability, perhaps because it's such a subjective and slippery topic. Certainly it's important that the main link on Abraham Lincoln point to the U.S. President by that name, but I believe it becomes rather emotional when you're discussing topics with no collisions in the name space. What others have said is that the mass of new articles seemed to have a flavor of self-promotion, something that might violate the prescription for a neutral point of view. I think this is essentially a mistaken impression on the part of people who are, with good reason, hyper vigilant about spam. I wish people would try to remember what it was like to be in college or high school. There are significant institutions within these places that touch a large number of lives. There could easily be 30,000-40,000 Dartmouth alumni out there, for instance. I think this is why the students decided to write about them.
If you want to discuss policies, I think you should look Wikipedia:Please_do_not_bite_the_newcomers. If you ask me, some users weren't as welcoming as they could have been. (Others have been quite nice, I should say.) Pcw 12:43, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
200 Articles you say? Wicked! Then it's as people are starting to think: that most of your students will have passed the test, and that we're only really catching the F-scorerers ;-).
Have a great day! Kim Bruning 08:32, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Here's some:

Dartmouth physics 3[edit]

Do you really think that an article like Dartmouth physics 3 is encyclopedic? RickK 19:36, Aug 25, 2004 (UTC)

Assignment no longer available[edit]

Hi; I'm looking at the various policies related to school assignments and Wikipedia. I'd appreciate being able to read the assignment you gave, but the links have gone dead. Would it be possible for you to put it somewhere where I can read it please.

BTW. I have gone through some of the articles your students wrote. It seems to me that the input was above the average quality for random edits of the internet (which we encourage) and so is probably a net gain, even if some of the articles were deleted. Just IMHO. Mozzerati 20:56, 2005 Apr 12 (UTC)

Starting fresh this year[edit]

I see you've updated things on your user page.

As it currently stands, though, your user page reads as a mix of things that would be relevant to this year's activities, grievances about what happened last year, and opinions about what you think Wikipedia's practices and policies should be. However justified these may be, they may not be the best thing to have around this year.

Some things have changed. One particular administrator, RickK, has left. He coupled (IMHO) good judgement about which articles should be deleted, with a curt, dismissive, and tactless demeanor. On the other hand, our practices and policies are pretty much what they were. Furthermore, I think that Wikipedia now has very thorough coverage of Dartmouth and that it will be very hard to find Dartmouth-related topics that are worth writing new articles about. So if you are not willing to warn your students away from creating articles on minor aspects of Dartmouth life, they are still likely to encounter rejection and, in all likelihood, rudeness. No matter how cogently you argue your point, I cannot imagine that someone could create an article about, say, Butterfield/Russell Sage or the Green Key Society and not encounter unpleasantness.

Rather than simply updating your user page, I'd suggest creating a new section with a title like "2005" and a brief note indicating that the assignment will be repeated, giving the link to the assignment, and, uh, stressing the positive aspects and the benefits that Wikipedia derived from last year's exercise. I don't say that you need retract a single word of any opinion you expressed earlier, but, hey, let's put a dividing line and a bit of visual distance between this year and last year.

My own degree of attention to Wikipedia fluctuates but I'll try to keep an eye on VfD and try to help keep things civil.

Welcome back, and sincere wishes for a positive experience this year. Dpbsmith (talk) 12:47, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

I put something up on the Village Pump...[edit]

here.

I hope it will be well received.

Although, knowing Wikipedia, you never can tell for sure. :-)

Dpbsmith (talk) 13:23, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Student guide?[edit]

Hi Pcw.

User:Dpbsmith mentioned that you were running the "create an article" homework again this year, mainly to caution people to be gentle - it apparently got a bit messy in places last time. Personally, I think this sort of thing is an excellent idea as an assessed piece of work - most university students are smart people, and we can certainly do with the contributions.

Anyway, since we didn't seem to have one, I've put together a short page at Wikipedia:School and university projects - instructions for students; the hardest part of writing a new page is getting an idea for what to write about, in many cases, and this may well help them come up with ideas, to avoid the annoyance of spending time creating an article that later gets deleted. (I've also included pointers to a couple of users willing to help them if they run into trouble, and to the Help Desk for technical problems; it never hurts to offer support.) You may want to point them at this.

Best of luck to you and your students - I like the idea of them writing a few hundred articles, but I don't envy you grading them! Shimgray 18:57, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

  • I thought Shimgray's idea of a welcoming page was an extremely good one, but when I started to fiddle around with editing it, I decided it was general and vague; I made a draft using a very different approach; see User:Dpbsmith/Dartmouth. Dpbsmith (talk) 22:52, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Welcome back[edit]

Sorry if I offended with my comments the last time you were here. I'm trying not to stick my nose where it doesn't belong and yell at people. I know you had no malicious intent, nor was anything particularly bad - I was just a little unprepared for it. Good luck to you and your class, and I hope it works out well :) --Golbez 02:49, August 16, 2005 (UTC)