Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Philosophy/Archive 7

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Why the lack of long-term interest?

I thought this would be a good place to direct discussion from Wikipedia talk:How to review a featured article candidate on why it's hard to keep people interested in this project for the long-term.

What problems are there? Bmorton and Dbuckner mention that for experts it gets tiresome to be constantly arguing with people who read a philosophy book once and all of the sudden think they have something to contribute. And of course there's the issue of acceptance of work by the broader community (made evident by objections from a number of editors, including myself, to Putnam's FAC, even though it was already a great article before the process began).

The second issue is one that all wikiprojects face. A personal example: I'm a student at Penn State (no, I'm not a professional copyeditor... as if you couldn't tell!), and as such I help out with a Penn State Wikiproject. There are a lot of Penn Staters who want to create articles on student groups and minor buildings, but such articles aren't accepted by the rest of the community. The only way for us to really get a good idea of that is to create articles and then watch some of them get deleted (not a pleasant experience), even though all of them are potentially useful to Penn State students. Something similar happened on a FAC I commented on a number of months ago—the style conventions for an aircraft wikiproject were not in line with the WP:MoS, and as a result, there were issues on the FAC. So by no means are these problems unique to the Philosophy project.

The first issue is a problem that everyone faces, but especially experts. In most cases, the person who writes an FA is fairly knowledgeable about the subject, since he or she does a significant amount of research to write the article. Thus, it's annoying when someone comes along and says that something needs to be changed, especially when they don't really know what they're talking about. For experts, that problem is much larger, because they already know just about everything related to the topic and some undergrad probably isn't going to have much to contribute. Wikis are great for contributing and expanding content, but not so good for maintaining it. There are a number of proposals that would help address this problem (including stable versions), but at the moment we're stuck.

What kind of things can be done to address these problems? If I haven't totally destroyed my reputation with you all for my objection on Putnam's FAC, I'd be happy to help out with future FA candidates to ensure that the are in line with the ideas of excellence held by the rest of the community. I can't do much about the other problem. However, you may want to look over the old scientific peer review idea, which was implemented briefly to provide expert analysis of science articles. There were disputes over what was an "expert", but if that problem can be addressed satisfactorily, there may be the opportunity to set up a peer review system where philosophy experts are asked for their opinions on the content of articles. That wouldn't give them any sort of "editorial power", but I think that with time, people on WP:FAC and WP:FAR would come to expect that philosophy articles be approved by the group. All that said, it won't make it easy to keep articles like truth from turning into a complete mess. That, I think, will have to wait until stable versions arrive. --Spangineeres (háblame) 14:18, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

It's a lot, not alot!! (; --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 14:55, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Ah! Good point; that must be an indication that I rely too much on MS Office auto-correct when not writing Wikipedia articles. After all, such an egregiously ambiguous pair of words would certainly never appear in any articles I write (knock on wood). =) --Spangineeres (háblame) 16:47, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, My sense is that as the stability process gets ironed out it has the potential to be a great boon to Wiki-Philosophy, but what else should we be doing? I see 4 basic projects going on in Philosophy at the moment 1) polishing pet projects towards FA status 2) Working on front-page-style pages like truth, or philosophy, 3) Working on detail page pet projects 4) Filling in gaps in philosophy coverage (and filling out stubs and the like). My sense is that #1 is already a powerful draw and a source of great frustration, and there isn't much we can do except help copy-edit each other, and maybe push to distinguish writing from editing, but we aren't going to succeed at creating any serious change in the FA process, and a detailed advice page might help a little, but might also wind up being mere instructional creep. My sense is that #2 is needed, and expertise matters, but it is quite frustrating. What can we do other than stability to keep people working on the big pages? #3 Seems to be working fine at the moment, and non-experts can probably contribute to detail pages in their pet project areas without much issue. #4 can be done by experts or non-experts but doesn't seem to be very actively pursued by either at the moment. Is there are good way to identify notable holes?
Look at the v0.5 release, Philosophy isn't on it or any of the sub-fields except logic; logic, Aristotle, and Kierkegaard are the only on it. Philosophy and Logic are the core topics for 1.0 release.
Ok I guess I have analysis but no real suggestions, damn I thought I'd have some concrete suggestions by the time I got here, oh well. Bmorton3 15:11, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Here's a brief summary of my experience on Wikipedia since I first logged on back in January of this year. I noticed that there was a stub of about two sentences on Jerry Fodor and began writing up an academic-style piece of exposition modeled on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I had no idea what was going on, I just researched the thing in excruciating detail, started writing it and decided to type it into WP. Basically, I was tyring to show off!! That's all there is to it. Anyway, I got three or four compliments on this exaggerated piece of writing. One, in particular, caught my attention. It was a message left by a German Wikipedian named User:Davidlud (don't think he's still around) who said that there was very little and very poor philosophy of mind on Wikipedia. He linked to several articles he had written on the German 'pedia which, rather shockingly, had no correspondents (or only tiny stubs) on the English version: type-identity theory, multiple realizability, anomalous monism, dualism (philosophy of mind), eliminative materialism, and on and on and on. I started working on these, with a fellow named Kripkenstein who eventually left it all to me, and I become THE philosophy of mind section. Period. I set up the Portal:Mind and Brain, two subprojects (Philosophy of mind and Philosophy of language) and then wrote up semantic holism, [[On Denotation] and whatever else is listed on my user page. I decided that both philosophy of mind and mind-body problem were post-apocalyptic nightmares which needed to be merged and redone from scratch. I took some tips on how to organize and illustrate it from the German version and I got it through FAC.

Then I started to wonder where all the other philosophy editors were. Someone mentioned the philosophy page. I went there and read through about three pages of archived debates between Dbukcner, Lucidish, Mel Etitis and a few others. I made some suggestions, but quickly realized the situation was hopeless: several people were discussing about three different versions of the article that they had been preparing separately in their "sandboxes", and others were arguing over the phrasing of the intro for about two weeks on end. I went back to the not-so-important articles (of course, to me, they are all equally important, but that's another topic). Eventually, though, I started working on empiricism, along with User:Kenosis, Jon Awbrey and a few others. It didn't go all that badly, though there were some edit-wars and other fun stuff (see the talk page). Then I decided to check out truth. I wrote the section on deflationary theories. The other fellows insisted on conflating all deflationary theories together as "minimalism". No, that's Horwich's version of deflationism. There are also redundancy, prosententialist, disquotationalist and other versions. So, at this point, they actually started ridiculing deflationary theories and misrepresenting the whole issue (please see talk page archives). Eventually I let that pass. But one fellow kept insisting that the whole thing suffered from a logico-linguistic bias. This same person, who is undoubtedly an expert on C.S. Pierce, turned that page, as he had with empiricism and any other page he could get his hands on, into an article on Pierce and pragmatism. At about the same time, someone asked me to help out on consciousness and mind, where there was a sort of theological guerrilla warrior making the most unintelligible edits that I have ever seen in my life. The edit war went on for about two weeks unabated. I dropped the 'pedia at that point for about four months or so. I came back a few weeks ago. I put Jerry Fodor up for FAC, expecting it to breeze through like the other one. But, in the meantime, Tony1 had come on the scene and changed the nature of the FAC process drastically. Object-2a, object-2a, Peackok and Weasels, Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh MY... And there's the background.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:44, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Yikes... it sounds like we've got bigger problems than we thought; namely, that the experts are arguing with each other (and themselves too, I guess, in the case of Putnam). I guess that's what happens on a topic like philosophy. When these arguments are occurring, however, are people citing their sources, or just pontificating? In other areas (like politics, for example), forcing people to cite sources for everything they write makes it much easier to identify bias and at the same time pull together an article that truly draws from multiple schools of thought. --Spangineeres (háblame) 17:29, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
The problem is as soon as you start citing sources heavily each side can easily cite tons, and suddenly you're not an encyclopediac summary anymore but an edit war in footnote form. Everything in philosophy is controversial (or it'd have migrated to another field), so flagging controversy is a swamp doomed to overwhelm any encyclopediac tone. Bmorton3 17:36, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, well is there anything we can or should DO about all this, or should we just continue to work in our little bailiwicks when we have the time and freedom from frustration enough to work? Bmorton3 17:36, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
There have been a few concrete suggestions that I have come across. Some sort of internal peer review process has been recommended by User:Banno and, on the FAC review page, by Dbuckner and Sam Clarke. I think this would be esay to set up, but I don't know how well it would work. It seems to work very well for some projects and less well for others. If it became just a reproduction of the current PR thing, it would obviously be useless. There used to be a weekly collaboration thing, (before I started contributing) which became a monthly collaboration project. Eventually, that had to be abandoned as well. I was the only one even keeping track of which month we were in and updating the collabration project accordingly. Fed up with this nonsense, I relaced the phrase "collaboration of the month" with "collaboration of the millenium" and no on noticed for about a month. In general, the collaborations voted for would just sit there untouched for about three months and not even the person who proposed the danged thing would participate. They just felt like complaining and expressing moral/aestehetic indignation with that "monstrosity" of an article. Collabortaion seems to be contrary to the spritit of philosophy, unlike the sciences and other fields. Other proposals are more radical and will simply not be implemeneted on Wikipedia: e.g., Dbuckner's proposal (which I support even though I am not really an expert) to somehow give experts an edge in the deiting process. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:32, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
A few thoughts. 1. Like Franco, I started being active here because I looked at a couple of articles in my area of interest, thought 'good grief!', and decided to sort them out. Everything else (the philosophy project, FAC wars) was an accident. I've spent far too much time on WP over the last couple of weeks as a result of these things - although it's been interesting - and I'm going to be restraining myself a bit from now on. I have a job interview coming up, and will (hopefully!) be pretty busy from the start of next academic year. I imagine this is true of most of us, which may explain the difficulty of keeping the ball rolling on a minority technical interest like (academic) philosophy - too small a pool of potential contributors to replace people finding they don't have the time when term starts. I suspect that might be what scuppers any philosophy peer review project, too. 2. On that: I supported this idea when Dr Buckner proposed it, but I now wonder what exactly it'd be for. If it's a way of grooming philosophical articles for FA status, the evidence seems to be that it's not philosophical content that'll be objected to in the FAC process, but editing and style issues, so a specifically philosophical PR wouldn't necessarily help. A potential nominator would do better to ask a friend to proofread (I'm happy to do this if anyone would like, incidentally). 3. I love Brian Morton's idea, above, of philosophy as firing off normal sciences but never becoming one itself, like a glider gun in Connolly'sConway's [corrected by SC - D'oh!] game of life... Cheers, Sam Clark 15:04, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
(The science as applied philosophy idea is found in Austin, and I think also in Russell. Austin describes philosophy as a spinning chaos that occasionally throws off useful bits - the sciences. Perhaps a good analogy for the Wiki Philosophy project - a spinning chaos that occasionally throws out a good article...) It is fairly typical for folk to start out with a great deal of enthusiasm, and to have disappeared after about three months. That is the nature of the game, not just for Wiki Philosophy but for on-line collaborations in general. I've been around a bit longer than that, but have great difficulty finding more than an hour or so a week to give to Wiki - and this is no longer enough even to maintain the Project page, as I once did. Would that I had more time, but need to participate in activities that earn an income. Bummer. Banno 21:09, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Since you asked, I became exasperated and disillusioned with all strategies for editing upon discovering that all roads led to misery. Both of what I have described as the doctrines of "tentative editing" (trust the experts to the extent it's possible, minimize falsity) and "progressive editing" (trust no-one, go by what you know, maximize truth) seem to raise a level of toxic ire from Dean, so I wanted nothing more to do with anything here. The former strategy became impossible after the dealing with an edit by Charles Stewart, the latter became impossible after the Blackburn affair. (See this talk page and that at the Philosophy page if you think it's worth review -- it probably isn't.) My arrival at the FAC was due to Lacatosias's post on this page, and it had been the first time I'd come around here in months. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 15:26, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Hold on their Spang, you're just beginning to get a taste of it now. One of two things are now inevitable: a) Dean Buckner has packed it in and called it quits again to avoid another round of endless debate about this stuff. b) He will reply and then you will get an even better idea of the nature of the problems with the Philosophy section just by reading the exchange that ensues. They will both leave again, Bmorton3 will be disgusted and realize that compared to Wikipedia, the politics and burewacry of academia are just tiddly-winks ( but at leat you are paid for it). Sam Clarke has already announced his immiment departure, not in so many words. The question therfore should be rephrased: What are NOT the problems in Wikiphilosophy?? I've got to go study Brandom.---Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:49, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Putnam retrial

Weird stuff!! Some of you folks have had your votes anulled re the Hilary Putnam article by Raul. He declared the previous page "incomprehesible" and started from scratch. That's a bit anti-democratic, IMO. So this is just to advise the folks who believe their votes should count for something....(;--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 13:32, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Administrators, professionals and enthusiasts

I recall reading somewhere - probably apocryphal - that the word "amateur" once had greater stead than "professional", since one who studied a topic with passion and love was more worthy than one for whom it was simply a paid task.

The Wiki is run by passionate amateurs. That's just part of the nature of the beast. It isn't going to change, and if you don't like it, go talk to Larry Sanger. So any proposals that involve editing of articles by professionals are simply unworkable. I have an Honours degree in philosophy, and a Masters with a philosophical emphasise, but have not worked in a Uni for twenty years - perhaps I could have snuck in as a professional, but the point is moot.

The idea of stable versions failed. It would have suited me, since as an admin I would have been able to edit stable articles to my heart's content, while most of you would simply have had to put up with my errors and omissions. But again, the point is moot.

Many (most!) philosophy articles suck. But if you take a look at any article - even truth - what is there now is better than what was there twelve months ago. If you are here to write the definitive article, then good luck - you will need it. The passionate amateurs ensure that progress here is ad hoc. That's just the way of the Wiki. Banno 21:38, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikiversity Needs You

The Philosophy Wikiversity department seems to have died somewhat. The former head of department hasn't been on since April so far as I can see and is not responding to messages on his talk page. Equally, no other Philosophy Wikiversity members are responding to my request for a new head at wikibooks:en:Wikiversity:philosophy message board#Need a new head. The need is slightly pressing as there is an academic on wikibooks:en:User talk:Alex beta (Alex beta is the former head), who is keen on making some substantial contributions, but will need some help from someone both wiki-fluent and philosophically competent. Feel free to nominate yourself for the position if you are prepared to give some time to it. --cfp 13:29, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Now, is this a paying job or what??--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 13:08, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Haha, if it was a paying job I'd be running for it myself despite having forgotten most of the philosophy I ever studied... Seriously though, are you interested? --cfp 14:18, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Free will

Free will is up for a featured article review. Detailed concerns may be found here. Please leave your comments and help us address and maintain this article's featured quality. Sandy 20:29, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

New essay (possibly future proposed guideline)

I have started to think that biographies of academics (including, but not exclusively philosophers) raise some special guideline-style issues that are not completely covered by WP:LIVING. In response to this thought, I have created an essay at Wikipedia:Academic and artistic biographies... if it shapes up well, I may turn it into a proposed guideline; but that's getting ahead of myself.

At this point, a lot of the relevant stuff is in the talk page; the essay itself is a bit stubby, but hopefully enough to point to the concerns I have. I would value any input members of this WikiProject have. After all, the bread-and-butter of this project is writing biographies of philosophers (I know about schools, distinctions, paradoxes, disputes, etc.; but bios are big). LotLE×talk 21:33, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Philosophy on Wikiversity

Want to pat self on back, encourage others to participate I like philosophy, so I started the Department of Philosophy in the School of Humanities. Join in! -Justin (koavf)·T·C·M 06:09, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Have you asked Ned Block? He's no Blockhead. "No one but a Blockhead has ever written excpet for money." --Samuel Johnson. Sorry, couldn't resist.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:42, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Omnipotence paradox

Omnipotence paradox is up for a featured article review. Detailed concerns may be found here. Please leave your comments and help us address and maintain this article's featured quality. Sandy 03:02, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Proposed new guideline

I've been making casual edit's for years but I'm fairly knew to the wikipedia community and so I am not sure I'm following correct procedure in posting the following here. Because of the misunderstanding's philosophy page's on wikipedia are filled with I'd like to recomend that something like the following become a guideline for editing philosophy pages.

"Due to the extremely complex and often technical nature of philosophy it is advised that editor's without detailed knowledge of subject's relevant to the page they are editing exercise great caution in their editing. It should be remembered that having merely taken a first year course on the subject or having read an introductory level book on the topic does not mean that you understand it to a level adequate for editing an encyclopaedia; Memory and understanding are imperfect and the issues are often simplified in basic texts and introductory level classes. Even professional philosophers, graduate students etc are advised to approach areas in which they know comparatively little cautiously.
Additionally editors without a detailed knowledge of the subject may wish to defer to known expert’s even when the expert’s reasons seem obscure.
This is intended merely as a guideline and cannot be enforced."

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Timothy Scriven (talkcontribs)

JA: Request. Need signature and date on the above. Thanks, Jon Awbrey 15:06, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Change it to proposed enforceble policy and I would support. Guidelines will be worse than ignored, they will lead to the opposite.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:09, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Sounds fine, except you've only covered half the problem. The other half has to do, not with relative experience with some topic or other, but with relative experience with the range of views on some topic or other. This causes some well-vetted individuals to view presentations of genuine disagreement as error. As I've suggested, this is more or less unique to philosophy, where consensus is uncommon. And I don't see any way it could be fixed on the basis of (for example) the appeals to precedent which were most recently suggested. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 16:40, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
The suggested 'defer to precedent' rule was directed at style issues, so as to avoid silly arguments over e.g. use of the first person. It was never really intended to deal with this problem. I don't have an alternative solution. The 'problem' is actually one of philosophy's central claims to importance, which is that it's continuous with (without being reducible to) the kinds of worries most people occasionally have: how should I live? what do I really know? What's this 'I' I keep talking about, anyway? This means that many people have 'philosophies of life', and are disappointed and annoyed when philosophers tell them they don't count, or that they were refuted by Hume. Even when this is true. Cheers, Sam Clark 18:21, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
No doubt the idiosyncratic beliefs of random Mr. so-and-so aren't necessarily what the project is interested in. And I couldn't care less about stylistic stuff. (Though I can't see for the life of me why it's worth fighting over. Does it really matter that WikiStyle tells one that they can't use questions? Honestly, who cares?)— Preceding unsigned comment added by Lucidish (talkcontribs)
Go tell it to User:Tony1, for example. His whole existence revolves around such matters. And their are quote a few others who have nothing else to do woth their time.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:07, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
It's just that precedent was in the past invoked for quite a bit more than mere stylistic issues. For instance, earlier this year, scholarly papers were considered secondary to the comments of encyclopediae, and those encyclopediae were in turn selectively interpreted. These are professional oversights which have to be dealt with somehow. Perhaps a peer-review process would curb them, perhaps not; but I must re-emphasize that they're not issues to be neglected, as (absent my droning) they have been. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 19:04, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

In light of the criticisms of Lacatosias and Lucidish of my idea I have a new proposal to ensure that those with knowledge keep control . We should create a class of users called "Philosophy expert's". These philosophy expert's could intially be elected by a two thirds supermajority with voting open to every user. After a while ( say after fifteen had been selected) we could have all new experts created by a two thirds super majority of those existing expert's who choose to vote. Expert status could be removed by a two thirds super majority as well. To gain expert status a user would have to demonstrate:

1- A very deep and broad knowledge of philosophy and great accuracy in all edits related to philosophy. 2- Moderation, fairness, tolerance and understanding of policies in editing and disscusion. 3- A commitment to the advancement of wikipedia in general and the philosophy project in paticular.

There are two main objections I can see against this suggestion.

1- How do we know who has a broad and deep knowledge of philosophy.? 2- By what mechanism will these expert's have power?

To the first objection I'd reply that the problem is probably not as bad as it sounds on paper. So long as expert status was only granted on the basis of sustained contributions to this wiki project over a long period of time it should be reasonably clear who knows what they are talking about and who doesn't. Since a supermajority is required for selection a strong conservatism is likely to hold.

To the second objection I'd say that the mechanisms by which expert's have extra power could evolve over time. The power of expert's could be enforced by the expert's themselves and by other members of this wikiproject. In addition the possession of a title would give them moral authority and this authority would increase as the institution becomes more venerable.

Of course all the details are just tentative but I think that if the project is going to advance we need something like this. Let's face it, wikiproject philosophy has a lot of diffculties, even the page on philosophy is nowhere near good articile standard. The problem ( as you've all presumably aware of) is that everyone think's they're an expert in philosophy, they don't understand the values of methodological caution and rigour that underpin philosophy and endorse some kind of extreme subjectivism about philosophy as a result they think it's fine to just put their opinions and misunderstandings on our pages and believe that philosophy is a collection of vague and sweeping statements.

Signed Timothy Scriven

I think you've identified the problem all right: many people think that philosophy is just opinions about vaguely-identified big questions, and it doesn't occur to them that such opinions can be - and have been - rationally criticised. I don't agree with your proposed solution, though. I still think that this problem is inextricably linked with the value of philosophy. The subject isn't only a technical academic pursuit - it connects up with precisely the ordinary worries that lead Mr J. Random So-and-So to engage with philosophy pages in the first place, and it would be much the poorer if it didn't. This means there's a need to keep an eye on philosophical pages (as I do with Justice and Political philosophy for instance), and politely to head off people adding 'my theory of everything, by me, aged 14-and-a-half' to them. But that's far from unique to philosophy on WP. Maybe the 'keeping an eye on' system could be formalised a bit, with people agreeing to watchlist important philosophy articles and take responsibility for preventing degradation. But adding a layer of authority - and the politics that will inevitably go with it - seems a mistake. Cheers, Sam Clark 10:57, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Timothy Scriven, my arse. What a pseudonym!! It's from Mellville: Bartleby Scrivener. I suspect these are the thoughts of User:Dbuckner. Anyway, we all know what the problems are. The elite system (ANY sort of hierahical system, excpet the admin system which is based on popularity) will not be allowed as long as Jimmy Wales, and those who think like him, own Wikipedia. What you are proposing is basically the creation of a new project. I wrote a longer response to this which got eaten up. But the point is that "professional" philosophers, professors and other "experts", for the most part, do not want to spend their time defending content (in the sense of examining all the changes on their watchlist made my cranks, kids and crusaders of various sorts) or justifying and attempting to explain it to the 14-year-old that Sam desceibes above. To be as blunt as possible: I'm neither a professional philosopher nor a professor of philosophy and even I get excrucitinalgy frustarted with all the Wikimadness. I quit for three months or so this summer. If I were a professional philosopher (let alone a well-known and recognized one), I wouldn't even look at Wikipedia!! Period. I came back recently and decided that I would mostly stick to topics like anomalous monism, two-dimensional semantics and other relatively technical topics which no one touches. It keeps me busy writing and studying when I'm not feeling well enough to travel to Naples to take courses and so on. What else is to be done?? That's the nature of the beast. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 11:59, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
A formal vetting process is against the Wiki way, so it won't happen here. Sam's tactic sounds more reasonable in this context. Perhaps there are other things we could do as well, such as random article examinations, or create a little category in the Wikiproject template which warns the community about articles that are under dubious dispute. It may also help to make sure the template is on all of our talk pages so it can be monitored.
Incidentally, those with the inclination may create their own projects, or participate in existing authority-driven projects. For example, here. I would implore them, however, to keep in mind the same criticisms that I've made above. The arbitrary battle of wills is not limited to people at large, and is far more serious when people have the mistaken idea that just because people are vetted, they are somehow less stubborn, more enlightened, and immune to error (see, for example, the Blackburn affair). Sometimes, greatly knowledgable and wise persons are simply and demonstrably wrong, and every single effort should be made to avoid railroading the underdog in these cases, because that would be a crime against reason. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 19:45, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I do not believe that it violate's any existing policies of wikipedia. Remember the expert's would have de facto rather than de jure powers. Something like this happen's already: when you read some no nothing arguging with someone you know is an expert you add your two cents to the debate. All the category of expert would mean is that those made expert's could add a little sticker to their user page's. This would increase their authority simply because people will be more careful in correcting their "mistakes" and would recognise that if an expert told them that something was mistaken they would likely change it. In addition the expert sticker would tell others involved in this wiki project to support them if they ran into problems. It's virtually just a formalisation of an already existing state of affairs.
I could support something like this. It certainly doesn't seem too difficult to implement.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:26, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
An informal process would be fine, so long as one keeps the caveats in mind. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 14:34, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm back and noticed this discussion. I've changed my mind about the experts thing.

Generally, subjects that have a critical mass of experts involved, do quite well in WP. The reason is that while the experts will disagree over the leading edge stuff, they will tend to agree on the standard responses to questions raised by teenagers from Arkansas. So the experts agree, while the cranky teenagers disagree even with each other. Consensus does work. However, the problem with philosophy in the past was that there wasn't the requisite critical mass of 'experts'. Now that people like Franco have joined, and now Sam and Brian, possibly others, there is a chance that philosophy could work in WP. So long as those people don't get p*ssed off and leave.

So, I'm willing to get to work again. I've already made some comments on Omnipotence paradox. See the talk page. But I do think there should be some discussion of which pages need the work. Suggest avoiding Philosophy completely. There are already some good biographies that should go forward for FA status (Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege?). Dbuckner 07:18, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Wittgenstein is already FA. It could use some updating and criticism, however. Russell looks pretty close. That's an interesting idea. The Frege article needs major work, IMO. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I'mma gonna quote from admin jkelly here "Wikipedia is an unwelcoming place for the expert. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. As with the internet as a whole, there is no convincing way to exert expertise, other than by making sound arguments. As with the entire internet, sound arguments have less impact than persistence, belligerance and popularity.
  2. Experts rely upon original research and sources that cannot always be verified by the public. Neither of these belong on Wikipedia.
  3. Experts expect, quite reasonably, to be rewarded for the effort put into acquiring their expertise. There is no reward system in Wikipedia.

So Wikipedia is, and will remain, a great place for hobbyists. One might say that this has little impact on Wikipedia's quality as the treatment of subjects in thirty-two kilobytes rarely demands an understanding of any subject beyond the hobbyist level. There is a loss is in those places in which the popular view of a subject is misleading. Furthermore, an expert has immediate access to reliable sources which may take a hobbyist a great deal of time to find, or elude them completely. I don't see any way to reconcile Wikipedia's mission with supporting expert editors, however. Experts can, of course, contribute to articles on subjects on which they are themselves hobbyists. The side-effect is that hobby subjects get enthusiastic coverage, while drier topics languish, and will continue to do so until fashion touches upon them."

  1. I would add that in philosophy in particular No OR and NPOV have a deep conflict.

We can't give experts power, or it isn't really wikipedia. We can give fake rewards like the Star of Sophia or an expert tag. In a sense we already have the expert tags, as some people, (like me) put credentials on our user pages. We can also organize. In RPGs the hobbyists work on their own pet projects, a few people organize the WikiProject, and a few experts look over the more important pages to check for errors. The hobbyists, organizers, and experts all have different jobs. Bmorton3 14:37, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

How many non-experts contribute to the articles on medicine or nuclear physics?? It is not a Wikiwide problem. It is a problem with philosophy and other humanities or social sciences. The mathematics project is absolutely superb. Most of the logic articles here,BTW, are written by mathematicians. That's why they tend to stand out in degree of sophictaticiton from the rest. Of course, there are not many math FAs. That's because no one understands them. But then who cares? They are really high-level, high-quality stuff as far as I'm concerned. All done by experts from MIT, etc..--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:11, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: F2, With respect to your initial assertions, I think you might find a contrasting perspective on Chris Hillman's pages. I'm afraid — be very afraid — that this WikiProblem is WikiPandemic. 15:28, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

FF: Yes, that is all true. In retrospect, I have worked on several articles in other areas that were subject to "cranks", obssesive fanatacism as in the case of User:Licorne, and other silliness. On the other hand, the reason I came back to contribute to this thing was becasue many of the articles that I contrubuted to have remained surprisingly stable in spite of all that. One reason for this is that many of them are on topics that most people don't touch. Another is that, even on those that are somehwat more well-known like dualism (philosophy of mind), I started putting in all the in-line references and deleting anything that is not referenced. This seems to discourege a good deal of nonsense. I will try to continue along these line. I don't see any formal, procedural solutions to all of the problems that we all know about. That is, solutuions that don't involve radically changing the nature of Wikipedia. Ain't gonna happen.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:18, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Jkelly's full of it. Take a look at this list of contributors to the Neuroscience project:

  • Carl W.F. Bird: I am a graduate student of Biology. My research is in finding methods of neuroprotection from various methods of apoptosis with direct implications in Spinal Cord Injury and Alzheimer's. I have studied neuropharmacology and I am writing a book on the cognition of Music and its homologues to speech.
  • A J Hay: As a student, I don't know much yet, but I will help where I can.
  • Alex Tan: A medical officer currently working emergency department shifts - will do copyedits and basic checks for correctness and consistency.
  • Amutepiggy: bachelor's in neuroscience + 2 years in behavioral neuroscience lab (animal models of addiction) + a pleasant natural chemical imbalance = interest general neuro, addiction, psychopharmacology, and whatever.
  • Arcadian: Student -- BS computers and psychology, MS computers, beginning med school in August. Not an expert, but happy to help where I can.
  • Ben Houston: Bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science with a specialization Neuroscience. I've interned in a molecular neuroscience laboratory doing both in vitro electroneurophysiology (patch clamping) and coding up immunocytochemistry analysis tools.
  • Brain-mapper, Ph.D.: I map the brain for a living and will help out with this project as time permits.
  • Constantine Michailidis: Medical student interested in Applied Neuroscience and Brain-Computer Interfacing.
  • Daniel Kueh: I am a doctoral student in the biological sciences with emphases on electrophysiology. I would be more than happy to proof read and edit any articles related to neuroscience.
  • David Iberri: I'm a grad student in physiology and make most of my neuroscience edits while studying for exams.
  • delldot: I'm working on an undergraduate thesis on excitotoxicity in traumatic brain injury and I'm interested in contributing to articles related to those and other topics.
  • Devon Ryan: I'm a grad student working on a novel Kir channel and a periodic paralytic disorder. I'll be making a lot of edits to the relevant pages.
  • Eric Mercer: A neuroscientist with particular interest and expertise in consciousness, attention, neurodevelopment, and the autonomic nervous system. I'm considering doing some restructuring and writing for the ANS articles, which seem to have been developed a little haphazardly (extracts from Gray's Anatomy plus some filler).
  • Gleng: academic, neuroendocrinology. Keen on promoting public understanding of science.
  • hemisphere: Graduate student in neuroscience. My research is related to movement and locomotion.
  • Ed Hubbard: I am an experimental psychologist/cognitive scientist (PhD, 2004). My research uses fMRI to explore high level perception, numerical cognition and synesthesia.
  • Iamnotanorange: I'm not an orange.
  • Icelus
  • Ikkyu2: I'm a board-certified neurologist doing a clinical neurophysiology fellowship. My area of interest is epilepsy and seizures.
  • JeremyA
  • Jessica Chang: "I'm interested in expanding all articles as much as possible, delving into the realms of animal neurology, and the differences between human and animal impulses, interaction, and differentiation in terms of cranial capacity, intelligence, brain function, and the related actions".
  • Jfurr1981: I'm a medical student with a particular interest in neurology...the clinical aspects of neuroscience, along with its basis in neuroanatomy, are my special interests.
  • John Schmidt: "I just noticed this project. Thanks for a good excuse for me to pay more attention to neuro articles. I have a special interest in learning and memory".
  • Kaushik Ghose: I study the sonar beams of echolocating bats, I'm almost done with my thesis and I will move on to primate vision next.
  • Matt Valley: Graduate Student. I will contribute what I can to subjects of olfactory neurophysiology.
  • MethoxyRoxy: Student, about to become a bachelor in analytical chemistry, but wanting to become a master of neuroscience. From Holland. Doing my final internship now at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research on epilepsy and also a bit mental retardation.
  • Mostly Zen|: I'm an undergrad Psychology Student doing work in Depression (biopsy perspective especially) and also an Administrator on The Psychology Wiki.
  • Nautim|:"My main interest is anything to do with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. I'm at the start of my PhD in Autism".
  • Neurogeek: "I am a grad student writing a dissertation on the auditory nerve. I'm glad to find this group, and hope to learn more about Wikipedia editing. I will turn my attention first to improving the auditory related pages."
  • NeuronExMachina: "I'm a grad student specializing in computer vision, and am fairly knowledgeable about visual neuroscience and computational neuroscience."
  • Nrets: "My main area of specialization is cellular neuroscience and electrophysiology."
  • Oldak Quill: "A neuroscience undergraduate with a wide range of interests within and without neuroscience. My interests cover a wide range within the field: neuroanatomy, cognitive neuroscience, neuropathology and so-called "neurophilosophy" (including future studies considering arifical intelligence and brain-computer interfacing). I am, apart from this, a general Wiki(pedia) enthusiast and will thus also hope to improve the prose and structure of articles as well as their referencing and scientific worth".
  • Oligodendrocyte: PhD student studying MMP regulation and adult neurogenesis.
  • Paul Wicks Postdoc in Parkinson's disease, PhD on motor neuron disease. Trained in psychology, specialise in neurodegenerative movement disorders, more of a neuropsychologist really.
  • Phineas G.: Grad student studying development of the cortex.
  • Purple Biochemist, did my PhD on prions, bit obscure I know...
  • Rto Neuroanatomy. There's a lot of work to do at Cerebral cortex...
  • Sallison: neurology and affective neuroscience.
  • Sayeth: I'll try to contribute as much as I can, but being a neurosci grad student, I don't know how much I'll be able to help.
  • Shushruth: A neuroscience grad student and a physician. Will put in as many hours as my research will allow me to! :-)
  • Silmarillion: Student who although is not rrently pursuing classes, enjoys learning about neuroscience through independent study and will contribute where possible.
  • sluox: MD/PhD student at a major university, computational neuroscientist
  • Synaptidude: I am a professor of Physiology at a major university. My specialities are CNS electrophysiology, the cellular basis of learning and memory, synaptic plasticity and inhibitory neural circuitry. Most of my contributions thus far have been on the articles: Action Potential, Long-term potentiation, Electrophysiology and several others.
  • Teemu08: I'm a junior at the UIUC focusing on neuroimaging. I also have major depression, so I research that a lot as well.
  • Tycho
  • Uthbrian
  • Vaughan: Good to see the group becoming active. I look forward to reading (and editing!) the results...
  • Yama Thi Khuu: Student who is learning about computational neuroscience and intends on potentially contributing to this site, as more is learned.
  • Colin: Interested in epilepsy-related articles.
  • Gabemck: Undergrad doing research in the field of developmental neuroscience. I have wide interests inside and outside of the field; within the field I am very interested in the evolutionary relationship between transcriptional regulators of neural differentiation. I am taking grad classes and am applying to grad school for neuroscience.
  • Wlad: Graduate student of Biochemistry
  • Rich Richie: Any help in medical field, I can do.
  • HilJackson: UK neuroscience PhD student - would like to help if I can (but I am supposed to be writing my thesis). I like copyediting (may be bad at it, though; nobody's commented yet!).
  • Neurobio: PHD on Stroke studies. I want to start a full scale work on behavioral test. Any question about behavioral test wellcome. I can create pictures from my own lab.neurobio 23:11, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
  • CopperKettle Just an amateur, interested in psychiatry and neuroscience, more specifically - in the brain development (Reelin pathway) and the mechanisms of schizophrenia. I try to contribute both to Russian and English wikipedias. --CopperKettle 06:33, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Tewfik: undergraduate currently researching motion disorders - I don't have a wide breadth of knowledge, but I'll help where I can.
  • Josephus78: Graduate student. Research related to information theoretic learning in sensory systems. General interest in computational neuroscience.

Looks like some expertise there to me.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:24, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

My claim WASN'T that there aren't lots of great experts on and contributing to WP, but just that it is "unwelcoming" to experts. Further, I'd claim that WP works best when experts and amateurs are working together to build high quality, mid-level discussions. I agree that that Neuroscience contributors list has an enviable mix of experts and amateurs. (although, like the philosophy project list, I'll bet a large percentage of them are defunct). Bmorton3 16:25, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, they are defunct or not very active. I don't know. I was just trying to bring in some sort of positive note. It's not very easy.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:41, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Poll on proposed policy

This poll is NOT a policy to make the proposed policy official, it's to gain a preliminary idea of how much support there is for the proposed policy mentioned above. 58.105.111.91 12:02, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

In response to a request I am adding in a statement of what we are voting for.

Essentially I am proposing that:

1- We establish a badge labelled "I'm an expert in philosophy" or something like that.

2- This badge be given by a two thirds supermajority consensus of voting wikiproject philosophy members (at least initially, later it might be given by a consensus of those with the badge.)

3- This badge will function to inform wikipedians to respect the views of this user on the subject of philosophy and that unless they to are expert's in the field where the dispute is occuring this user's views will likely be more accurate than their's. Further, other users involved in this project may help enforce the authority of the badge.

  • Support change to Strong oppose--- my credentialis are already on my user page: they are listed as contributions, creations, FAs, Gas, and so on. I don't need a symbolic popularity badge (in fact, I don't even need a pH.D.!!). --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:05, 29 August 2006 (UTC)


  • Object. Sorry, but I don't see what an 'Expert badge' would add to my or anyone's ability to create and maintain high-quality philosophy articles, and I forsee bitter popularity contests as any such award's likely consequence. If I have any 'moral authority', it derives from my expertise as demonstrated by my contributions, rather than as asserted on my userpage or anywhere else. Cheers, Sam Clark 15:30, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Unsure. Tend to agree with Sam. I would be nice if experts had an 'edge', but don't see any practical way of doing this. The reality is that when experts get together they tend to recognise one another (and pretty soon establish an internal pecking order – one of my biggest surprises on moving to the commercial world was how status-orientated the academic world is, compared to business). Credentials are useful for weeding out the top 10 applicants from 1000 CV's. But after that, it's the ability of like to recognise like that is important. The problem with philosophy in WP is that there are insufficient perceived rewards for experts to get involved.
    • Could I say in reply to Brian that there are certain benefits, if you are smart. For one, you can do OR simply by drawing attention to the questions you think are useful, or by emphasising historical figures, or issues that interest you. No one (for the moment) is going to challenge this. Also a lot of people do link to their own sites. The official policy is that this is not allowed, but it is tolerated if done discretely, and if it has the effect of getting otherwise unavailable material into the public domain. And I link to sites of people whose work interests me – nothing officially wrong with that at all. Dbuckner 15:47, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Object. Philosophy is no different to any other subject in this regard. The soon to be introduced "verified version" system will ameliorate this problem, anything beyond that I disprove of. There are already too many reasons for casual reasons not to contribute. We should be focusing on encouraging people to contribute. --cfp 15:55, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Hey Cfp your page displays a badge for being an "expert" in Mathematics {{User:Disavian/Userboxes/Mathematician-4}}. How does that work? Has it helped in the Math areas? Could we model an expertise badge on the lines of this? How did you get that badge? Did you give it to yourself? Could be create a host of expertise badges on this model? Bmorton3 16:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Those badges as you call them are just userboxes that I added to my page. They're a tad silly, but they seem to be common nowadays. Their chief function is that they put your user page in an expert... category, so if anyone wants to recruit a mathematician (say) for something they can find one. Obviously people have different specialities, but if someone messaged me about something within one of my specialities I would gladly help, as indeed I would for philosophy. I have no objection to someone making philosophy user boxes, (I'd imagine they may well already exist), and would gladly have one on my page, but I don't think that's the issue here. There is no law saying "you should only edit this page if you have been ascribed such and such a userbox by the wikipedia maths council", they are just guides of the approximate ability I might be able to contribute with. However, because everyone has specialties this should be taken with a pinch of salt. On Analytic Topology (for example) I could contribute at a roughly doctoral level, on Statistics I would struggle to contribute at a pre-undergrad level. Userboxes such as these may also reassure non-specialist editors that my edits are not vandalism, but as a vandal could just as easily add them, it wouldn't really be proof that my edits were trustworthy. So in short, userboxes are useful ways for individuals to mark themselves as being prepared to (attempt to) be helpful in a subject area, anything beyond that is 99% geekery/silliness/boasfulness. (Hmm, maybe I really should remove those userboxes...) --cfp 18:47, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I second that. I have been writing on and off WP philosophy since 2003 (pretty early days). I have tried tirelessly either to recruit professional philosophers directly by emailing them and inviting them to contribute, and also by being 'nice' to the ones who happened to turn up. Also, it has to be said, by being pretty horrible to the various cranks and trolls who live around here. No apologies for that. I read the Hillman piece, by the way. Pretty depressing it was too. Dbuckner 16:05, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
PS, philosophy is generally recognised to be different from other subjects in that, while actually quite 'hard', it is popularly thought to be soft as a ripe blackberry. Dbuckner 16:05, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with this. Think of popular science/history or political theory. There are millions of people who watch a documentary on the Discovery channel and think that qualifies them to destroy text written by people with a doctorate in the subject. It is a fairly small minority of philosophy topics that will ever draw popular interest, and mostly these topics will be subjects largely ignored by the mainstream of Anglo-American Analytic philosophy, and so they tend to be relatively more stable, and relatively more accessible. (Why argue about the existence of god when you can argue about the existence of aleph_1...) Popular pages in all subjects have to deal with people who don't know what they're talking about editing them, but they cope, as I'm sure philosophy will. --cfp 18:47, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Sadly, you are right. Dbuckner 10:10, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

This is...I hate to say this but I think I have earned the right to use this word...fundamentally insane!! And here I read that Dbickner even agrees with this!! WTF!!!!!!!! What universe are you people living on. It is the topics that do NOT draw popular attention that are stable. Accessible?? Well, two of my "unintelligible" analytic philosophy articles have become FAs and I have also written four or five GAs. Those that have been played with by mathematician pseudo-philosophers have turned to shit. See free will now, and look through the history to find the version (by Rick Norwood et al) before I and Bmroton touched it. Stick to math and stop destroyong articles on subjects you know nothing about, please!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 10:44, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I was saying the popular topics are stable, not the pages about those topics. (I.e. few serious philosophers are working on them). That free will article is a prime example. Very little of it is devoted to the last 40 years. Please read people's comments properly before resorting to personal insults. Also, your articles that have become FA's are on broad overview topics (like free will) which are automatically more accessible and more popularly interesting. The bulk of contemporary AAA philosophy doesn't deal with such broad topics though, instead focusing on narrow aspects of the debate, often with particular emphasis on the philosophy of language. When there is a FA on Yablo's heavily modal-logic reliant dualism then you can tell me that philosophy has popular appeal. I am not quite sure which articles you are accusing me of destroying, and from your user page at least it does not seem like your philosophical background is any stronger than mine. Calm down. And don't use the fact you've had a few FAs as a substitute for a proper argument. If you wish to continue this discussion, please use my user page. --cfp 19:52, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Hmm...I didn't know Hilary Putnam was a broad overview article!! Fascinating. Thanks for informing me about this. LOL!! The free will article, as is the case with almost all of my articles, concentrates precisly on the last 40 years of research. If it weren't for my additions in fact, there would be nothing there beyong d'Holbach. As I said, take a look at the history and see for yourself. I have nothing more to say on this. Ohh two further points actually. My "formal" background may not seem very impressive to you. You can read my talk page and find more than sufficent explanation for why that is the case. Informally, I have devoted most of my life to studying philosophy. For the last several years, I have done NOTHING else. I mean ah absolutely NOTHING ELSE. That's it. That IS my existence on this earth. No wife, no girlfriend, no job, no social relationships, no kids. I read and study 16 hours a day. Final point, AAA is a godawful mismoner. I've learned more about "analytic philosophy" here in Italy (that's part of the Continent, right?) than I ever did in the US. I need not mention that Frege, Meinong, Carnap, Wittgenstin, etc, etc, etc, were all consdiered "analtyics philophers". In what sense is it "Anglo-American"?--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:43, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, you opened yourself up this, so I will persently list some more examples of non-"Anglo-American" analytic philosophers who are very well-know and respectd in Italy: Giovanni Boniolo, Paolo Vidali, Giancarlo Ghirardi, Mauro Dorato, Massimo Pauri, Silvio Bergia, M. Luisa dalla Chiara, Roberto Guintini, Carlo Celucci, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Andrea Bonomì, Massimo Dell'Utri, Alberto Voltolini, Mario de Caro, Simone Gozzano, Vincenzo Fano, Carlo Penco, Eva Picardi, Cesare Cozzo, Alberto Perruzzi, Achille Varzi, Silvio Bergamo, ...etc.. Don't sound like "Anglo-Americans" to me for some reason.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:12, 30 August 2006 (UTC)


Very little of the the free will article is devoted to the last 40 years?? C'mon, by my count all but 18 of the 87 cites are more recent than that, and most of the others are primary sources. That is how the free will discussion has been going in the last 40 years. Sure we could pack lots more discussion of Frankfurt-type examples and versions of the consequence argument and such, but much of that is already alluded too. We could certainly make it more technical if we wanted. But we are in fact striving to summarize in an encyclopedic fashion thousands of years over dozens of cultures, and while trying also not to neglect the last 40 years. Bmorton3 21:16, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
I was not agreeing with the bit that you were disagreeing with. The idea that the popular articles are in some sense safe (it that was the claim) is of course insane. Good work on the Free will article by the way. Dbuckner 12:46, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Support a very weak version of this, but object to much stronger. Many other Wikiprojects have a "membership badge" like {{userbox rpg}} or {{Userbox WPDoctorWho}}, {{user philosophy subject}} is almost a badge already, but not quite. Philosophy could at least have a membership badge for those active in the WikiProject, that implies a very low level of expertise and seems in keeping with current wikipractices. Bmorton3 16:30, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
Can whoever called the vote place a clear statement of what we're actually voting on at the top. My understanding from the previous section was something a lot more controversial than a self ascribed badge. --cfp 18:47, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Object. I know I haven't been involved in this discussion as of yet, but I just wanted to see what all the action is about, so I read the threads. I think that some sort of "I'm an expert" badge, especially one that attaches some sort of authority, goes against what Wikipedia is all about. Now, I'm a grad student in philosophy, and am not advocating this objection because I want the non-experts to be treated as equals or anything. I just think that a supermajority of wikipedians who claim that someone is an expert certainly does not make one an expert. I worry about people being considered experts who should not be considered such. Also, I think that there shouldn't really be a problem with people contributing here who would be considered "non-experts". So long as people stick to citing sources, providing quotes, etc. and not expressing their own views, then any competent person who some background in philosophy should be able to contribute. And then, of course, the "experts" here can go in and clean up. I think the solution to edit wars regarding philosophy articles on Wikipedia is just to have a strong group active here with Wikiproject philosophy who can help keep an eye on things. However, I would support placing something on the project page about how people should realize that philosophy is not just about your own 14-year-old theory of life and that it is actually quite techincal, and so on. I just dislike this idea of offical badges and heirachy. Disclaimers, however, never hurt. [p.s. Why hasn't anyone responded to my proposed guideline concerning citations that I posted here a while back?] -- Jaymay 06:22, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
You are right. I did look at your guidelines, by the way. Dbuckner 10:10, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Object Edits should be considered on their own merits, not the subjective merit of their source. One does not need to be an "expert in philosophy" to make good edits on wikipedia or to exercise self control in not generating editing disputes in areas in which one is not familiar. This has been the standard site-wide for some time now and there is no benefit to creating an exception in the area of Philosophy. --causa sui talk 19:58, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Where is your evidence for the claim that one does not need to be an "expert in philosophy" to make good edits on wikipedia? Or did you mean that someone can make good edits in science fiction films or computer games without being expert in philosophy? Dbuckner 20:11, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Well it look's like I'm going to have to drop this idea. Nevertheless a few parting comments and a last ditch effort.

-Ryan Delaney ignores the fact that very few people are in fact capable of judging the merit's of edit's to philosophy pages. It's difficult therefore to users to judge philosophy edit's own their own merits. -Jaymay's make's some comment's that I disagree with. He forget's the fact that badge's would not stop anyone from editing, if they did keep to the sources and not state their point of view then there would be nothing stopping them from editing any page on philosophy whatsoever. Badges would primarily become useful when there was an NPOV dispute or a dispute over factual accuracy or something like that. Jaymay also urges that there would be no guarantee that elected expert's would be real experts. However I think that it's reasonably clear on this philosophy project who is an expert and who is not, Francesco Franco is clearly an expert for example. -Francesco Franco note's that he has his credentials on his page. However part of the power that an expert badge would have would be the way in which it would gradually become an institution. Over time the de facto power of the expert's would increase. Hence those in possession of badges would put ot just the power of being a clear expert but would put the power of... Wikitradition! behind the expert. Eventually a culture of respecting the edit's and contributions of those with the badge would arise that is unlikely to rise spontaneously for those who possess credentials, not fair I know but that's the way wikipedia works.

On an ideal wikipedia we wouldn't need badges. Everyone would know who is an expert and who isn't. However in this world of original ignorance a quick and easy way to check if someone is an expert is desirable. If we introduced badges I imagine that over time people would get into the habit of quickly jumping onto the user pages of editors they are debating with ( before they revert to the version of the page that had their beliefs (tm) about the meaning of life) and checking to see if they have the badge.

Names and labels confer power that would not otherwise be possessed. At the moment an informal system already exists that gives expert's power. However as paradoxical as it might sound they'd be even more powerful if they had a sticker saying "I'm an expert" made out of a few bytes and a supermajority, a sticker that would only affirm would should be obvious. This is of course profoundly ironic and you could probably write an existenalist novel about it. However that's the way things work on wikipedia.

Timothy J Scriven 22:39, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Another proposal

How about some system where you have to earn the trust of other trusted people working in a particular area. The trust group will have a rep who is able to control accounts. The ideal would be a philosophy account, with two levels of access (the first to a restricted number of pages, the second to all pages. The second level requires more trust to be earned). So, instead of the current system where any idiot can edit any page, you would have to apply for permission to edit philosophy pages (pages that are not attached to any subject area could of course have unrestricted access as at present). If the edits earn the trust of the group, the user gets to stay. If not, account is terminated. If the user wants to edit the traditionally more contentious articles, which require a higher level of trust, they have to earn it. Something on the lines of proposer, seconder, consensus, that sort of thing. This is the basis of our current banking system, and it kind of works. Dbuckner 10:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Support---But it will be shot down by the libertarian anarchopedians of course. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 11:00, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Comment --- this will not work within the Wikipedia framework, so any vote of mine here would be moot. You can start your own project, if you like. There are even some projects which have already been started along these lines. Have cited one above. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 16:11, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Object, for the same reasons I gave in my post just above this one. I don't really understand how anyone expects to implement these kinds of policies anyhow. Everyone seems to be upset with the obvious downsides to Wikipedia (edit wars, 14-year-olds, vandalism, and so forth). But, while I hate it all too, I also don't consider Wikipedia to be striving for high quality. I think Wikipedia is primarily about having (at minimum) decent information about lots of topics. To put it shortly: quantity over quality. For one, this seems like a more reasonable goal, given the format of Wikipedia (i.e., anyone can edit). Second, this is all I use Wikipedia for anyways, and that seems to me to be the most reasonable view of Wikipedia. I like to come here when I've heard about something that I don't know anything about. I tend to go looking for pop culture, news, etc. kinds of entries (things I'm no expert on). Then, I look it up and get some introductory info on it, realizing that many of the details are probably flawed. So, I came to contribute to that project. I wanted to do my part in contributing to something I know quite a bit about: philosophy. That way, when some freshman college student, for example, comes looking for, say, "epiphenomenalism", because they heard about it in some class or something but didn't know what it meant, they can get some intro-level info for free. Wikipedia is about the spread of free medium-quality information. Now, of course, it's great to get high-quality information here; and that's what the feature article stuff is all about. But, that seems to be icing on the cake. That's why I tend to stay away from high-traffic articles like consciousness, and focus on upgrading articles that are low-quality to medium-quality. If you spend your time trying to make medium-quality articles high-quality, you will be involved in some crazy, nit-picky edit wars. Now, that's not to say that the consciousness entry and other similar ones should be ignored. They should be watched carefully, and corrected when necessary. It's just a word of advice to avoid worrying too much about trying to drastically improve them. So, what I'm trying to say is that a lot of people have too high of standards for Wikipedia. Lower your standards and you will be much happier (and realistic), I think. - Jaymay 20:33, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
The assumption here is that philosophy is a hopeless case. No it's not. I'm not whinging and moaning, I want to do something about this and get things improved. There is evidence that good philosophy can be done in Wikipedia. It is being done by a small group of people despite the efforts of vandals, cranks, well meaning idiots &c. Just a plea for an 'edge'. Let's give these people some sort of 'edge'. Dbuckner 05:30, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Jaymay: Wikipedia, as Jimo Wales never ceases to point out, aspires to surpass the Encylopedia Brittanica!! There was even a study conducted a while back by Science magazine in which it was found that, for hard sciences at least, Wikipedia holds up quite well in terms of factually accuracy. I'm NOT making this up. Just google "Wikipedia" and "Brittanica" (or something like that), and you will find this study mentioned all over the place. They found 4 errors on Wikipedia per every 3 on Brittanica. The point is: if it's going to claim to be as good as Brittanica, then it should be able to back it up in at least THOSE areas. Anyway, the bsic point is that the garbage overwhelmingly predominates everywhere, and, analogously to monetary theory, bad content pushes out the good. Che puoi fare?? I don't know.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:51, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
NO!! There is OVERWHELMING evidence from all fields of human endeavour that the most successful method of creating something is by groups of people who trust one another (i.e. such that each trusts any other either to create something, or to review something they have created – remember that review only works if the reviewee trusts the judgment of reviewer). So forget 'experts', think, trust groups. The expert knowledge required to build a good article involves basic judgment, sense of proportion, ability to write good sentences, good paragraphs, and above all, to provide structure and balance to a whole article. Expert knowledge is a small part of this. The PROBLEM with Wikipedia is that it gives very little reward to members of such groups, for being members. Disruptive people who spoil good edits by insert sentences or paragraphs or whole sections that don't belong, have exactly the same privileges. It would require very little modification to the original Wiki vision to give some reward, however slight, to trusted members. And as I've said above, this idea already exists in the form of 'admins'. But the wrong behaviour is being rewarded here. ANYONE can edit an encyclopedia, because anyone can easily acquire the skills necessary to gain the trust of an existing group, by exhibiting the right kind of behaviour (respecting existing members, abiding by the groups rules of engagement, conforming to the standards applicable to the subject matter, and so on). The trouble with the existing system is that ANYONE can RUIN an encyclopedia. This has to be stopped. Dbuckner 09:39, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
The admin/bureaucrat/etc.. system is clearly a hierarchal system within Wikipedia. If anyone doubts this, go find out who the people are who can close FARS, FARCS, FACS and so on. Someone named Raul654 has almost total authority and discretion in deciding

whether FACS stay up for five days or three months. Whenever I have asked people about minor procedural questions regarding FACS, they tell me to "trust Raul. He does not allow silly objections" etc.. It reminds me a bit of scientology sometimes, as a matter of fact. Then then are, of course, the inevitable informal hiarchies which Timothey Scriven mentioned a few times. So the idea that there is no pecking order in Wikipedia, as Jaymay and a few others who haven't been around very long suggest, is another myth. If anyone is really serious about this matter, then they have to face this fact: On Wikipedia, control has to be asserted in pratice by groups of people dediciding that they are going to cooperate through e-mail, messages and other means to concentrate on this area. This is how informal cabals are formed. To cite one example, Tony1 decided to concentarte exclsuively on improving the prose standards (according to his minimalist criteria), He posted his credential as a oriefssional editor on the user page, wrote up a set of guidelines and exercises about "how to meet crierion 2a", and then he started VERY agressively attacking those FACS to which he objected on the basis of prose and flattering those FACS of which he approved. Naturally enough,the people who were praised (or perhaps just came across his exerices and liked his views on language) began to exchange messages and eventually emails back and forth discussing this FAC or that FAC and how to deal with this situation. etc.. As a result, there are masses of people who subscribe to Tony1 views and there are even some folks who object to articles on this basis of the fact that Tony1 objected to them. If something like this can be done for, say, certain specific areas of philosophy (or whatever subject), then you have essentiall created a "trust group" (better knonw as "cabal"). Another example, is the total control that certaain groups (Randian Objectivsts) exercise over specific articles and whole areas. There must now be about 60 articled devoted to Rand. Hierarachy and control are everyehere on the 'pedia, but it is all informal and cabalish in this way.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:33, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

There is such a hierarchy but its applied pretty sparingly. A few pages are locked, but not very many. The hierarchy has lots of weird powers over the FA processes, but not over pages as a whole. There are other hierarchies working on ver.05, and ver1 releases and such. In most areas it is the relevant WikiProject, that forms informal cabals to control the content. Over in Role-playing games there was a long vicious dispute between advocates of "roleplaying games" (the normal spelling since the mid 90s) and "role-playing games" (the normal spelling from 1980 to the mid-90s), and guess what the older role-players organized and eventually out-edited the younger ones, and the admins and heirarchies never got involved, but left it mostly to the WikiProject. Probably the more modern spelling would have been better, but certainly consistency is better than confusion. But that is exactly what WikiProjects are FOR! We are little mini-hierarchies to try to organize editing of articles within our project domain. We are the local hierarchy here, and it's just that we have to bow to other hierarchies if we want to mess with the FA process or Ver1, or fight so much that an admin needs to step in. Bmorton3 14:18, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

New page

I've started a page User:Dbuckner/Expert rebellion. This is simply a list of user pages whose users have expressed frustration with the poor quality control at WP. Some of these have now left WP for that reason.

Feel free to edit the page if you have knowledge of experts who have left because of the well-known reasons about quality control, vandalism, trolling, cranks &c. Give a link to their page, or to anything they have written. Thanks. Dbuckner 16:32, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

PS Hillman's comments and links are excellent. Do follow them. Dbuckner 16:32, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Of all the critical commentaries which I have come across about Wikipedia, I think this one sums the real problem the best. From content provider to 12-hour-a-day-unpaid-content defender. That's how bad it got the last time. What's the point?? Even for a NON-EXPERT. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:30, 29 August 2006 (UTC)


Another external link here. This one is interesting because apparently it could be an offense to link to it from WP, as I have just done. Let's see what happens. The relevant WP page is here.

It's supposed to be "boilerplate Wikipedia-bashing borrowed from other critics", and to some extent it is, but it has a great sentence: "I think it is their efforts that gives Wikipedia whatever paltry quality it actually has". He means the so-called exopedians. These are the people who actually write the stuff, the scum. Interesting the exopedian article says "There is currently no organized Exopedian group, and it is unlikely that there will ever be one, as an organized group is theoretically against the spirit of Exopedianism itself.". Bullshit.

I still think Hillman's pages are the best. He has a very acute sense of what is wrong: namely the piecemeal editing approach that destroys any sense of balance or thread. Read through all his links. Dbuckner 19:28, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I've read through them more carefully. It's good to know that somone is actally trying to quantitatively study the validity of the constant propaganda claims that are made along the lines of "the evolutionary process of Wikipedia inevitably leads to improvement." Sorry, I don't buy it. Vry generally speaking, it seems to me that the less an article is touched the better. Look at the FAs. They all turn to crap after a few months. Indeed, the very need for FARs and FARCS contradicts the principle that articles inevitable improve over time. Period. I dopubt it works out even in the average case. But I cannot prove this.---Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:05, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
There has been extensive discussion on this at various times on meta and on the foundation mailing list. Generally those who think we need more experts have got frustrated and given up in the end. (Indeed the cofounder of WP thought this but gave up arguing for it and left the project in the end.) One discussion I started a while back is at meta:Academics, there are some useful related pages links at the bottom too. --cfp 20:33, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Do you have links to the extensive discussion please. Thanks for the link. Specifically I am trying to get solid information on the edit creep phenomenon that Hillman talks about. Most of the arguments against "expert edge" depend on the assumption that piecemeal editing improves articles. There is also another assumption that good articles somehow came together by the collaborative efforts of non-experts. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is not the case, and there is my own experience of 3 years of WP editing (most of which was NOT piecemeal). Dbuckner 05:30, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
I've now read this discussion and followed the links. The one on Academic Standards Disease was particularly interesting. It gives all the arguments against giving an edge to users. Note that the 'Nupedia argument' always comes up. The argument is: look how successful Wikipedia became, and look what happened to Nupedia. Well, I question the first leg of the argument. Of the second leg, well yes, but it seems the peer review process for Nupedia were absurdly high. I think the WP idea works surprisingly well. But the encyclopedia is getting older and in some ways more mature, and there are still some parts where quality is v. poor. All I would like to see is 'experts' having a bit more of an 'edge' than they currently do. Also, the discussion linked to was about 'academics'. I am not an academic any more. Some of the good editors here are not. I always think in terms of: who are the people I can trust to write philosophy in WP or, who are the people I can work with. There are a few of those. But there a few of the other sort also, sadly. One of the recurring complaints is, having to spend a lot of time with cranks and trolls, patiently explaining why a ceramic is not a gas, why Cantor's theorem is impeccable, why alchemy is not part of philosophy. Dbuckner 08:38, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

You know I haven't been here very long yet but my experience is that edit quality depends a lot on the nature of the edit and the quality level that an article has already reached. I've had several pages improved by lots of people doing a tiny edit here and there, especially when it was copy-editing, adding a reference, adding a sentence or two about how the topic relates to something else they know. Likewise cumulative editing can take a stub or near stub, and turn it into a list of lots of stuff, that an expert can then whip into shape. But it seems to take expertise to do serious reorganizing or re-casting of a page. Likewise an already very good page can have severe erosion or fan-cruft problems, or self-plugs, from small edits, or can bog down into a stupid flame war over the precise phrasing of a sentence in the lead. I think that cumulative edits probably do help in some contexts, while harming in others. Also I know my self-proclaimed badge suggestion seemed silly, because it doesn't give much of an edge, but notice how Wikipedia gives a little edge for expertise in languages or math, etc. If we created say four levels of philosophy competence mirroring the language levels, created badges, also created a project member badge, and let people self-apply them I think this would be a weak (but implementable) version of what you guys are yearning for. It probably won't be enough, but it might be something that this project can do without trying to fight with the admins. We could put the badges at the bottom of the WikiProject Area along with definitions. I'll bet most people would self-apply them close to fairly. Perhaps we can push for more edge as well, although I doubt any of us have the popularity or power to grant it. Bmorton3 15:55, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Category:Action theorists

Do we really need Category:Action theorists? At the moment there is just one entry - Harry Frankfurt --Davidlud 19:56, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

No, obviously not. But this is Wikipedia. I see, sir, that you have contributed to the German language version of the Jerry Fodor article. Dbuckner 20:08, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure, if we should delete or use this category. At the German Wikipedia I would delete it but I think you have a more fine-grained category system at the English Wikipedia. --Davidlud 20:39, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
David has done an excellent job on several philosophy of mind articles over at the German Wikipedia. He is, understandably, shy about contributing here. And now that we have "business style-sheet writing experts/lunatics like Tony1 who have nothing better to do with their time than to make sure that "outside of philosophy" is never used instead of "outside philosophy", it is very easy to undertand why. Oh, I'm sorry. I used the dreaded redundancy "very". Excuse me. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:58, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't pretend to be a specialist but I must confess I'm very surprised to read that discussion on wiki:en. One of the most important contributions of the modern English speaking philosophy is the action theory: I would certainly be very easy to "feed the cat". Or do you think it is better to delete it? If no one is against that idea I accept to do the job and to categorise any articles under the category Category:Action theorists. Apierrot 17:02, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Categories

Hello, a french user of Wiki:fr has created a few new categories:

  1. fr:Philosophe athée (in English: "atheist philosophers")
  2. fr:philosophe catholique because he has seen you already have such categories on wiki:en. But ever more contributors think that those categories are very problematic (it's my case for example...). I have therefore two questions for you:
  3. do you think that those categories are really useful? As you have a lot more articles that we your experience can be very useful for us,
  4. and do you have a precise "policy" for those two categories?: Category:Roman Catholic philosophers and for Category:Atheist philosophers. How do you decide that one can that X or Y is (or is not) a catholic or an atheist philosopher? I thank you for help. Apierrot 16:50, 30 August 2006 (UTC) P.S.:(I'm really sorry for my many grammatical mistakes...)
Cats are very flexible. They were invented to try to better organize the entries (a sort of super-TOC) on Wikipedia. The experiment failed, but the cats remain. It's all very flexible and I've never understood the need to wage struggles over such nonsesne. Ayn Rand, that Holy of Holinesses at Wikipedia, was classified, at one point, as both pro-gay rights and anti-gay rights. It was the only workable solution.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:01, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
We haven't fought this much yet, but another site I was on was categorizing sci-fi authors by religion and eventually decided to count anyone who admitted to that religion at any point in their life. So that, for example, Douglas Adams was both Anglican and Atheist (Anglican as a young man according to his autobiographical statements, and atheist most of his adult life, again by autobiography). The criteria this cite used was a creditable citation of the person claiming to be of the religion. Wiki:en pages are often in lots of seemingly contradictory categories at once "Problem of Evil" is in both Christian Philosophy and Atheism, for example. This wouldn't solve everything, I just added Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite to the categories Christian Philosopher and Atheist Philosopher, we'll see what happens. I'd be unsurprised if an Atheist tries to remove him. Bmorton3 19:48, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Wiki and other on-line encyclopedias

The recent discussion of the "problems of philosophy on the Wikipedia" seem to have again led nowhere. Not surprising, since the solutions offered aim to re-model the entire Wiki project rather than address particular issues of philosophy.

Academic philosophers who wish to contribute to an on-line resource but who are disgruntled with the Wiki process have the option of working on either the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy[1] or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[2] You don't have to be here, folks.

So if you are still here, and still complaining about the Wiki, the it seems reasonable to conclude that you do not qualify as an academic philosopher to the satisfaction of either of these resources.

Correct. I do not so qualify. So? You seem to imply there is nothing in between a system in where one article is written by one expert author, and a system where one article is 'written' by many authors, most of them inexpert. Do you really mean that? Also, the discussions are not leading nowhere. Dbuckner 07:00, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Draw your own conclusions about the politics of the two votes above. Banno 18:30, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

In fairness I love my wife, but I often complain about her. Complaining is human, give us a break. There is no contradiction between wanting to be here and valuing Wikipedia, but also wishing to improve upon it. Further, the "wiki project" is not itself written in stone, but changes slightly over time. The wiki-policy "What is a Featured Article" underwent changes in part because of the contributions of the disgruntled here attempting to change the "wiki project" through the appropriate channels. Bmorton3 19:38, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
The suggestion that the Wiki give special status to "experts" is more than a change to the way the Wiki runs; it is what management might call a change to the founding vision of what the Wiki is. Take it up with Jimbo. Banno 21:02, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Who is 'Jimbo'. Dbuckner 07:00, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Jimmy Wales, Commander in Chief!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:05, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I knew that. But who is he? Dbuckner 08:11, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I didn't want to take it to that level but, to quote Shakespeare: "A man can fish with the worm that hath et of a king and then eat of the fish that hath et of that worm...A king may go apace through the stomach of a slave. We fat beasts to fat ourselves and we fat ourselves to fat maggots. That is all."--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:23, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
PS See here User:LinaMishima/Experts Problem. Dbuckner 07:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Worth also saying that I strongly agree with one of the ideas in the original 'vision' of WP, which is that good money can drive out bad. This is because of the tendency of people who are 'experts' to agree on the basics of their subject (obviously they won't agree on the OR aspects, but that's not for encyclopedias). By contrast, cranks don't agree with other cranks. Just look at any of the expert vs crank debates on usenet e.g. sci.logic or sci.physics. So I'm opposed to any form of 'badging'. What's it for? Experts tend to recognise other experts. They know that the quality of their writing is a sufficient badge. The cranks, on the other hand, don't care.
Another bit of the founding vision that I DON'T agree with, however, is the idea that there is no such thing as 'edit creep', i.e. the tendency of piecemeal edits to make articles worse, not better. Anyone who has made major revisions to articles, or written complete articles, will instantly recognise what I am talking about. (Actually, even the founding vision recognises there is some sort of problem here, in the injunction to 'be bold').
On taking complaints 'higher', there is no point unless there is a clear statement of the problem to be solved, clear evidence that the problem is a serious one, and a clear vision for solving it. I have the first one: edit creep. I don't have the second. While there is anecdotal evidence that most of the good quality stuff in WP comes from a small number of editors, I have nothing conclusive. That was the point of starting the Expert rebellion page. And I'm not at all sure about the third. I still believe some system that gives a small reward to those who earn the trust of the 'group' is the best. (Forget badges – what is needed is some power over people who haven't earned trust). Note this principle already applies in the case of admins. But as far as I can see, the admin system rewards piecemeal editing. Changing a capital or a full stop counts exactly the same as what I do when I write a piece off line, and bang the whole lot in one go onto WP. Dbuckner 07:55, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
For anyone reading this, I should continue to point out that experts simply don't agree in philosophy about the fundamentals, and this was the entire moral of the Blackburn affair. Arriving at the conclusion that the issues therefore don't belong in an encyclopedia and are OR is to do a disservice both to Anthony Quinton and Simon Blackburn simultaniously. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 23:39, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Subcultures

I'll try to be discreet as I can here. There's a v. interesting discussion going on at Experts problem page. See user TerryEo's comments. It was only predictable that if scholarly editors should be disgruntled about lack of adherence to certain values, then editors from certain subcultures should be disgruntled for similar-ish reasons. The user in question has been banned from Scientology pages, I understand. I have the relevant links on User:Dbuckner/Expert rebellion. Dbuckner 16:51, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I've found an excellent article on the edit creep (mixed up with the 'expert' thing) phenomenon. See User:Ikkyu2 per What's_wrong_with_Wikipedia, by User:Ikkyu2 Dbuckner 07:13, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

There's an interesting objection to his article on the guys's talk page. It says 'However, all it takes is one neurologist in the whole world to have epilepsy on their watchlist, and the article will remain useful for most people. '

To which the reply is obvious: Sure, but the neurologist has now left. Dbuckner

Ah hah, an ingenious riposte. Even if the neurologist stays around and protects that one arricle, the rest of the articles will go to pot. If he decides to protect two, he will have to spend more time defending content. If he wants to protect three articles, the time spent defedngin conent will oncerase some more. The time spent defending articles increases proportionally with the number of god-awful articles one has tried to improve and which on thereafter wants to defend on the watchlist. I now have 76. I spend three hours in the morning examining all the edits. This time spent defending content is inversely proporional to the time spent creating content. It's all nonsense. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:42, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I follow WP:AFD, WP:DRV, ArbCom precedents, and some other Wikipedia policies and guidelines with some interest. I am assisted by my native curiosity, native systematism, and very good memory in my attempts to divine the nature of the underlying structure of the Wikipedia. While these processes sometimes unfold themselves in baffling ways[1], I believe I have already contributed positively to both AfD and DRV, based mostly on my ability to cite relevant policies, recognize where policies and guidelines are incorrectly understood or ignored, and abstract long discussions into a general idea of their rough consensus.

Think about this now. This says it all, right here. Why the hell should a neurologist spend his time having to follow AFD, DRB, Arbcom, etc, instead of working on improvong medical articles!! Would you go to a neurologist who spent his time following Arbcom, AfD and DRV policies on Wikipedia. I wouldn't vist a neurologist who even knew what these terms meant.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 09:48, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Ostrich problem / Descartes

I'm thinking about the 'Ostrich argument' – that WP is so good that we don't need to worry about the brain drain problem. Obvious riposte is that WP is in fact not very good at all. And what better evidence than some splendidly bad articles from the philosophy section. Could I propose a vote on the WORST philosophy article? My proposal is Philosophy, that old favourite. Read it for yourself. Packed full of gems such as:

  • "The medieval period of philosophy came with the collapse of Roman civilization and the dawn of Christianity".
  • "Modern philosophy is generally considered to begin with the work of René Descartes, but his work was greatly influenced by questioning from his correspondent Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, who posed the mind-body problem to Descartes."
  • "Francis Bacon (1561–1626) wrote in favor of the methods of science in philosophical discovery."

Speaking of which, though it was the style that primarily attracts me, can anyone verify the quote about Descartes and the princess? I'm not an expert, but rough chronology suggests that most of Descartes work, particularly the Meditations, was completed by 1639, whereas he started corresponding with the princess in 1643. If the quote is meant to suggest that the princess influenced Descartes' published work, then how is that correct.

well at the risk of trusting our own page, it lists a number of works Descartes wrote after 1643, including the one Sam Clark mentions, but also Principia Philosophiae. Also in fairness his post-humously published correspondences were part of his influence. Bmorton3 14:55, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Oh, the influence part is debatable for historians. I won't touch that one. But I don't think that was the point. The stament says that she "posed" the mind-body problem "for" Descartes. That's simply false. She read the Meditations and then asked to see him. etc. etc...--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:28, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

And do let me have your nominations please. Dbuckner 13:58, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

PS Needless to say the mind body problem does not begin with old Rene anyway. Dbuckner 14:00, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Influence of Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia: probably, what the writer was thinking of was that Descartes started writing his last work The Passions of the Soul (1649) partly in response to discussions he'd had with her about emotions and the mind-body problem (see Williams, Descartes: the project of pure inquiry, ch.1). There's a famous letter to her in which he claims that there are three irreducible concepts in his system, not the two we might expect: mind, body, and the relation between them. Obviously, that doesn't support the implication of the sentence you quote, but I imagine that's what it's a garbled version of... Cheers, Sam Clark 14:14, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
It's nonsense. See all] the correspondence with Elizabeth from the beginning. It starts with Descartes trying to respond to Elizabath's befuddlement (smart lady!!) with his idea expressed in the Medidations that the non-material, non-extended, etc., mind interacts with the material, extended brain through the pineal gland. The fact that he was working on the mind-body problem is a pressuposition for the first letter to make any sense. 2) Descartes did NOT invent the mind-body problem, of course. He was the first philospher known to have given it its modern formulation: material brain, non-material mental states, how to reconcile this problem and so on.
REALLY BAD articles?? I don't know. There are probably some that are worse, but the article on consciousness, the one on mind and sveral others rank up there. Of corse, they may have improved(or worsened) since I last looked at them. This is the beauty and the horror of Wikipedia. "A: Hey, did you see that nice article on F yesterday. B: You mean this disastar (one week later).--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:08, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
OH God you're right. It begins "Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neurology, and cognitive science." Enough. Dbuckner 15:15, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Argggh! The mind one is far worse. What's this? philosopher Ken Wilber posits that Mind is the interior dimension of the brain holon. Eh? Then you follow the link to his bio, and you find "Kenneth Earl Wilber Jr. who does not in fact hold a degree in philosophy, and his ideas are generally ignored by professional philosophers." Fancy that. Can we all put our bios then. Edward D. Buckner. Dbuckner 15:24, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't want to argue for Wilber as a serious philosopher, because he isn't. But I'll just point out that he has a (drug-related) subculture around him which is what makes him noteworthy. So it goes.
Incidentally, in terms of accuracy, that lede isn't necessarily off target. Rather, it's just incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Take a look at John Searle's "Mind..." and you'll find that he endorses a view of consciousness that includes "subjectivity" (first-person ontology), "the sense of self" (self-awareness), "unity" (holism), and "intentionality" (which awareness of environment is a subvariety of). As far as I can tell, "sentience" is just another word for consciousness, and is redundant; while "sapience" is a bit hard to translate into terms everyone would be happy with. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 23:46, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Nature (philosophy) and Naturalism (philosophy) have often annoyed me in the past, but as Lacatosias says, I haven't looked at them carefully recently. Bmorton3 15:19, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
One fellow kept trying to post this Proustian piece of prosaic perfection on the consciounness article for about a week:

According to some recent theories like Infomysticism and TechGnosticism that base themselves on quantum physics represented in work of David Bohm and others (that regard quanta as 'messenger particles', i.e. carriers of information, with the result that quantum teleportation based on quantum nonlocality is simply a matter of 'resetting a value'), and have many roots in some very old philosophical and religious systems, dating to Plato, and even ancient civilizations (since Gnosticism can be traced back to ancient times), combined with today's Information Science, all of the physical universe is based on underlying information (nature's binary code) more basic than even vibration (any two non-physical values as 0 and 1), so matter itself is (en)coded ('bits' of) information in this 'program'. On this view, consciousness is understood as a symbiosis of mind and information. Mind (or soul) is, as a manifestation of the essence, non-physical, and mind emanates from the Spirit (the manifestable essence). Mind is a 'driver', having an associated organic form (material body) as its 'vehicle', and this manifests through any level in pantheistic hierarchy/holarchy, either a mind/soul of a single cell (with very primitive, elemental consciousness), a human or animal mind/soul (with consciousness on a level of organic synergy of an individual human/animal), or a (superior) mind/soul with synergetically extremely complex/sophisticated consciousness of whole galaxies involving all sub-levels. On the other hand, the morphic field of the mind's past is the 'baggage' of an individual (on the synergetic level of an organism with brain, since using existing and generating new abstract forms is only possible with a brain). Thoughts are elemental abstract forms/objects. More complex abstract forms/objects are - skills, sciences, languages etc., and abstract forms are energetically real, as material forms are real (telekinesis, moving material objects/forms with thoughts, is a direct proof of that). Past is a complex abstract/energetic form/object consisting of all the thoughts, experiences and memories of that mind through its physical lifetime (its 'Akashic Record'). Morphic fields (a term introduced by Rupert Sheldrake) are the universal database of experience (Dr Dejan Rakovic interprets these fields actually as hyperplanes, and uses a term isomorphism instead of morphic resonance, but the basic concept is almost the same as Sheldrake's). The morphic field/hyperplane of a form contains the actual data relevant for that form. All organic (living) and abstract (brain-generated/used) forms have their associated morphic fields, and they 'store' their related data both privately (individually) and collectively (in a one collective morphic field for those similar forms), which is a concept very similar to classes in object-oriented programming languages. Inorganic (lifeless) forms have no morphic fields. Akashic Records, term used in Vedas are only a subset of this universal database of all-connected morphic fields.

So, Consciousness, as the interaction of Mind (essence, the 'driver') and Information (quantum energy and information from morphic fields/hyperplanes) is what a complete living self is ('driver' + 'vehicle' + 'baggage' = consciousness).

Interesting to note is that the famous science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick (the 'modern gnostic prophet') defined a homoplasmate, a person 'in Gnosis', as a symbiosis of mind and information (similarly to the mentioned theories), considering heightened consciousness as achieved Gnosis (or insight), necessary for the self-realization and salvation from the Demiurge's hysterema (world of imperfection and suffering). Self-realization through Gnosis, if true, would mean that higher consciousness gets preserved after physical death somehow (and the 'vehicle' would be successfully transformed from matter into 'pure energy').
We tried everything in the book to get rid of this one: tag-team reverts, discussion, persuasion, a new page all for himself. He would not give up until he could destroy one of the main pages!! He stopped attcaking consiouness and switched over to an assualt on mind. It is this monomaniacal, obsessive-compulsive crankish that, I think, everyone should be concerned about. Who wants to put up with that? Come one, for gos's sake!! --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:47, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Perfectionism (philosophy) begins 'Thomas Hurka, a neo-Aristotelean, in his aptly titled book, Perfectionism, provides an introductory answer to what is pefectionism [sic]' and gets worse... Cheers, Sam Clark 15:49, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I've actually read that book. I might be able to write a few things on it and make the material salvageable.
But look, the ethics and social philosophy articles are probably the worst here. In the state I last left it, Goodness and value theory was mediocre at best, and that was even after I shampooed out a swath of unnecessary and poorly written text on a few legitimate but relatively obscure subjects and tried to give a framework for what needed to be done. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 23:51, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Consciousness, I've just noticed, contains the following gem for those interested in medieval logic: 'Nonconsciousness exists when consciousness is not present'. I think that may be, er, quite deep... Cheers, Sam Clark 15:55, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
the sad thing is, this would be a decent translation of "avijnana is an existant present on occasions in which vijnana is not present." There was (I think) a contentful dispute between different camps of early Buddhists about how best to analyze mental occasions (some thought non-consciousness was itself a kind of existing mental occurance, and other thought that it was merely a verbal term used for occasions which lacked the occurance of vijnana dharmas). When we really try to be global in scope and comprehensive over topics, there is no way to avoid problems like this, and the long TechGnosticism diatribe. Our world has ancient Buddhist philosophers and modern TechGnostic philosophers and Italian Analytic philosophers, and all sorts, and we are supposed to somehow summarize our consensus on stuff like Mind or Consciousness? To my mind these aren't examples of failures of WP, as much as cases where there is just so much variety and disagreement, that summarizing the state of the world is a Sisyphean task. Even if we were a paid encyclopedia, we could only fix this by deciding intentionally to ignore a wide variety of time periods, cultures, and less popular positions on how consciousness is supposed to work. This kind of crank is not a result of lack of expert edge, but of the goal of being globally inclusive, and including all minority positions, at least a little. Bmorton3 16:30, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Rupert Sheldrake?? Morphic resonances?? Unfalsifiable nonsense. I'm detecting a hint of epistemological relativism here. Are you suggesting now that science furnishes just another world-view and that astrology, chiromancy, scientology, voodoo and other such phenomena should all be represented equally? --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:03, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Franco, do you have an exact reference in the archives for that splendid, wonderful passage? I'm trying to document such examples on the Experts problem page. There are four categories where I think experts get pissed off. That is 1. Schoolboy vandalism and grafitti 2. Lone cranks (such as one above) 3. Crank subcultures 4. Well-meaning edits from people who can't edit. Dbuckner 08:15, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
First, [here] is the link to the talk page of the user in question. You can see for yourselves that the matter continued on over many pages and for some time after I had left Wikipedia in April or May. As far as I can tell, he has not been permanently blocket yet!! I will get the diffs which contain the original version of the text that the person intended to insert. The text posted above was a copyedited version, if I recall correctly.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:33, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Here's a diff] from somtime in April. It might also be enteratining to look through the edit history itself.
Ah wonderful. "Although I am not a philosopher [by definition] , I am by inclination, but I'm unsure what label to use for myself. For some 35 years, I have been studying the Esoteric realms within Man [within myself and my clients]. " Good. Dbuckner 11:18, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
The bit on the talk page called "oh lord" also shows the whole problem well. The guy, who seems well-intentioned enough, is asking exactly what is wrong with the contribution. This means the 'expert' has to spend quite a bit of time explaining. OK once in a while, but after the 100th time you actually go completely mad. Then experts get a bd name for being rude. But thanks, this is exactly the sort of case study I need as evidence that things are so badly wrong. Dbuckner 11:25, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Don't forget the parts toward the end where he starts spouting his real agenda: some people (all people) on the 'pedia are apparently possessed by sort of demons (LOL!!) and must be enlightened becasue they are unwilling to accept this fact. It took way too mcuh time and on the part of way too many people to get this obvious crank under control. The current system favors people lke him. That's all there is to it. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:03, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
I like the bit where you suggest "You may want to try adding your material to the specialist Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy!! Give it a try. Good luck!!" However, it doesn't seem to have turned up there. Dbuckner 15:12, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
the position of Wikipedia on the representation of majority opinions is clearly set out in Wikipedia:NPOV#Undue Weight"If a viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts; If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents; If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it doesn't belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancillary article) regardless of whether it's true or not; and regardless of whether you can prove it or not." - Astrology, Voodoo, and Scientology are all clearly significant minorities (25% of US+ for belief in Astrology, 100 million adherents in African Diaspora Religions worldwide; and about half a million adherents, but with some prominent adherents for Scientology). I have not seem recent figures on the popularity of chiromancy, it may not be a significant minority. That guy's TechGnosticism is clearly an extremely small minority that belongs on WP in an ancillary article. I am far closer to being a pyrrhonic skeptic than epistemological relativist, but I'll accept that the one is close to the other. The best we can do in argumentation is to accept the standards of our opponents and try to argue from within their world-view, because of things like the problem of the criterion. So yes I am suggesting that "science furnishes just another world-view" especially when it proports to make pronouncements on weighty matters (what I would call dogmata). Whether all should be represented equally on WP, is a seperate question. As per Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/FAQ#Pseudoscience
"How are we to write articles about pseudoscientific topics, about which majority scientific opinion is that the pseudoscientific opinion is not credible and doesn't even really deserve serious mention?
If we're going to represent the sum total of human knowledge, then we must concede that we will be describing views repugnant to us without asserting that they are false. Things are not, however, as bad as that sounds. The task before us is not to describe disputes as though, for example, pseudoscience were on a par with science; rather, the task is to represent the majority (scientific) view as the majority view and the minority (sometimes pseudoscientific) view as the minority view; and, moreover, to explain how scientists have received pseudoscientific theories. This is all in the purview of the task of describing a dispute fairly.
Pseudoscience can be seen as a social phenomenon and therefore significant. However, pseudoscience should not obfuscate the description of the main views, and any mention should be proportional to the rest of the article.
A minority of Wikipedians feels so strongly about this problem that they believe Wikipedia should adopt a "scientific point of view" rather than a "neutral point of view." However, it has not been established that there is really a need for such a policy, given that the scientists' view of pseudoscience can be clearly, fully, and fairly explained to believers of pseudoscience."
If I understand this policy correctly, we have an obligation to present pseudoscientific points of view when they are espoused by significant minorities, whether we agree with them or not, although we are at liberty to present scientific arguments against them. The task becomes less clear when the scientific view is the minority view (as in many technical or religious issues), or when we are debating about a topic in which it is not clear that it is a scientific topic at all. The extent to which philosophy is or is not like science, or to which science should guide philosophy is not clear and is disputed. When the astrologer makes scientific claims we mention them and treat them as pseudoscience with a significant minority. When the astrologer makes philosophical but non-scientific claims the case is less clear. When we are talking about consciousness it is not at all clear to me how much is science, cognitive science, pseudoscience, pure philosophy, or some other field, and I think it is fair to say that that is itself part of the dispute. I sure that this will piss off all the interesting people I have been interacting with, but I am trying to honest and fair to the policies here Bmorton3 18:48, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't have time to address everything here. Suffice to say I agree with the Wikiepdian "ideal" of

giving the majority view predominace, the signficant minority view reasonable representation, and the Rupert Sheldrake's should be either excluded or put on a separate page. The spefific problem with that case, and in happens in many others, is that the tiny minority view refuses to accept its status as tiny minority (sometimes comppletely ad hoc and invented by someone last week) and insists on putting in en entire section in some main article somwhere with equal weight to the views of well-established thinkers and scientists who study the field. I am not protesting the includion of Rupert Sheldrake, astrology, or even techgnostism articles. I would obviously leave this place if, say, "morphic resonances" and "mystical interpreations" should be included in the quantum chromodynamics article. Or, if intelliegent design were to be considered on a par with Darwinian theiry in the article on evolution. Fortuntaly, they are not and that is one of the reasons I returned to wacki Wiki. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:19, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Sigh, it is frustrating having to fight the same things over and over again, I agree. Intelligent Design in particularis never given a fair run for it's money. You can find published sources claiming that no peer-reviewed articles have ever been published on intelligent design in the same journals that have run peer-reviewed articles in which humans have intelligently designed various kinds of biological entities. Glowing tobacco, engineered with genes from a fireflies are one of my favorite examples, see bioluminescence. Humans and corporations engage in intelligent design of biological entities all the time, and it is a stupidity of the political situation that bright people deny the truth of intelligent design theory because they are annoyed at the way it has been abused by the religious right. ID theory merely claims that an intelligent designer of some kind is a better explanation for some kinds of biology that evolution proper, it is neutral between the design-by-diety, design-by-aliens and design-by-humans, but of course the first case which has the least scientific evidence gets all the press, and the last case, with frickin' undeniable scientific evidence gets ignored even by the scientists because it conflicts with their political goals. And the scientific case for moderate exogenesis claims isn't as bad as it sounds at first either, see panspermia and has a number of notable biologists behind it (nobel prizewinner Crick) for example. Intelligent Design is an important part of the natural history of many modern species, from horses to wheat, from yeasts to anthrax but, no it probably will never get fair billing on the evolution page, and the few mentions it gets will focus on religious creationism. Bmorton3 14:56, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I half agree. WP is interesting because a social phenomenom, and engages all sorts of things that conventional encyclopedias don't deal with. However, we need the same kinds of boundaries in WP as there are outside. The problem is trying to write an article on consciousness (say) that deals with both Sartre and Dennett (a problem in itself) and at the same time fending off all other sorts of what to me is nonsense, but which has a valid place in the WP community. Don't mind, so long as it's a different place. Dbuckner 08:04, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah that's a great example of the "front-page problem" that always bugs me. WP does OK on pet-projects. A "Dennett on Consciousness" page would work, as would a "Sartre on Consciousness" or even a "Wilbur on consciousness" page. Its when you try to write a "Consciousness" page that you have to somehow synthesize and summarize all that stuff fairly, that thigns get tricky. Bmorton3 15:03, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
PS for those who are interested in how experts are viewed (rude, abusive &c) see User_talk:LinaMishima/Experts_Problem. Dbuckner 08:29, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
PPS " Part of the problem is that experts want to treat these articles as solely scientific issues, or to artificially divide the scientific from the social, when the best approach would be to deal with both aspects and the ways they do and do not interact (as the social science and humanities experts who study these issues do). Editors who do not understand the difference between NPOV and a Scientific POV, or do not understand/agree that NPOV (a superset of SPOV) is preferable, are bound to be frustrated—and in some cases, we may be better off without them. " - see the talk page in question. This discussion is going on right now. Dbuckner 08:31, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Criticism of Wikipedia / Putnam

Check out the Criticism of Wikipedia article. Contains criticisms such as " Others have noted that in some areas, such as science, Wikipedia's quality is often excellent."

Interestingly, while the New Yorker article by Stacy Schiff is mentioned, Hilary Putnam's endorsement of WP is not. Goodness. But then, they also missed out: "Wikipedia remains a lumpy work in progress. The entries can read as though they had been written by a seventh grader: clarity and concision are lacking; the facts may be sturdy, but the connective tissue is either anemic or absent; and citation is hit or miss. Wattenberg and Viégas, of I.B.M., note that the vast majority of Wikipedia edits consist of deletions and additions rather than of attempts to reorder paragraphs or to shape an entry as a whole." — Stacy Schiff

The edit creep phenomenon seems to have escaped their attention entirely. Anyone fancy a go at editing this one? Dbuckner 14:11, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Other Wikipedias

This little fellow in the photo is an administrator on the Italian wikipedia. Interesting. I was wondering if the English wiki had any power-brokers of a similar level of....maturity? --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:09, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Floating Pietrodn.jpg
I'm a cat in real life. No joke. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 23:28, 2 September 2006 (UTC)


Scientific point of view

I copy a comment on the expert problem pages here. What exactly is the SPOV? How different from NPOV? Aren't they the same? Dbuckner 16:14, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Which fundamental assumption are you referrring to? For the well-meaning but inept degradation of articles type of edit creep, I don't claim that it's not a problem. But it's a problem with some solutions in the works; particularly, once there is support for stable versions, it will be much easier to maintain articles that are merely the subjects of inept editing. And that kind of edit creep generally doesn't generally destroy the valid information in an article or lead to edit wars, it just destroys the style and coherency. The more long-term problem is the type of edit creep (if we want to call it that) you complain about below (also by well-meaning and sometimes well established and even "good" editors) for articles like intelligent design. I believe these are fundamentally NPOV conflicts; one of the main reasons intelligent design is such a problem article is that many readers and editors don't see their viewpoints treated adequately, and the regular editors who control the article seem committed to (at least implicitly) maintaining a Scientific rather than Neutral POV. The goal of NPOV is to create an article where all sides can agree that their own views are adequately represented; for the most problematic articles, the defenders of the mainstream views are so zealous in fighting what they see as pseudoscience that a Wikipedia-style NPOV is never achieved.--ragesoss 14:28, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

"Magnarum et gravium personarum crebra zeloque fidei accensa insinuavit relatio, quod nonnulli Parisius studentes in artibus proprie facultatis limites excedentes quosdam manifestos et execrabiles errores, immo potius vanitates et insanias falsas in rotulo seu cedulis - praesentibus hiis annexo seu annexis contentos quasi dubitabiles - in scholis tractare et disputare praesumunt, non attendentes illud Gregorii: "qui sapienter loqui nituntur, magno opere metuat, ne eius eloquio audientium unitas confundatur", praesertim, cum errores praedictos gentilium scripturis muniant, quas, proh pudor! ad suam imperitiam asserunt sic cogentes, ut eis nesciant respondere. " From the introduction to the 1277 condemnations Dbuckner 16:20, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

The objection here is presuming to treat of and dispute "certain manifest and odious errors" (or rather vanities and mad falsities) as if they were debatable.

How on earth can it be possible, in the end, "to create an article where all sides can agree that their own views are adequately represented"? Stephen Tempier and others wisely saw that this was impossible. There are certain things that are simply not debatable. Dbuckner 16:20, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

PS This inspired me to look at Condemnations (University of Paris). Another crappy article. What is it about philosophy? Dbuckner 16:24, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I agree. This is a completely separate issue from crankishness, edit creep and all the other things that have far been discussed. This is primarily a problem with the interpretation of NPOV as epistemological egalitarianism. Leave aside the example of intelligent design. Should we allow Holocaust deniers to have adequate representation (by their own subjective lights) on the Wikipedia because we are required not to take sides. The Holocaust really did happen!! PERIOD!! I shouldn't even be required to defend that FACT!!Yet there is a minority of scholars and, of course, there may be large majorities of people in the Arab-Muslim world who don't believe it happened. These people are.......WRONG!! The earth orbits the sun and not viceversa. Should adequate representation be given to geocentrists. I read somewhere that there are 35,000 (!!) web sites devoted to crackpot conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana. Should they all be represented?? Adequately?? What would that mean??--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:42, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Oh, you're asking a question. I looked into once and it wasn't very clear to me why the SPOV was not adopted. But the link should be still there: WP:SPOV.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 06:46, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
In all honesty I have trouble seeing what an official policy of SPOV would accomplish. I can see pseudoscience conceivably being a problem on something like natural selection, but not Green's theorem or Photon_polarization. The science pages seem to me to be protected by a lack of public interest. --GoodIntentionstalk 07:28, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I am thinking about slapping a citation notice on the sentence "Dinosaurs were vertebrate animals that dominated the terrestrial ecosystem for over 160 million years, first appearing approximately 230 million years ago." (from Dinosaur). Outrageous. A clear violation of NPOV, which says that all claims must be made in a way acceptable to everyone. By contrast, the article Adam says " Adam ("Earth" or "man" ...) was the first man created by Elohim according to the Abrahamic religious tradition.". Why shouldn't the dinosaur article and ALL the articles like that have 'according to the Western scientific tradition' or something like that?? Dbuckner 07:48, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Becasue we have an informal SPOV, of which I strongly approve. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:53, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
What does any of this have to do with the philosophy wikiproject? Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 23:44, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
We have a FORMAL policy guidelines, that amount to being partway between SPOV and NPOV. Re-read the NPOV undue weight and NPOV pseudoscience quotes. NPOV does NOT say that claims must be made in a way acceptible to everyone, they must represent all "significant" views "fairly and without bias" where bias specifically lists 9 kinds of bias, but bias of a scientific POV over non-scientific POVs is not considered a form of bias. Further in the section of pseudo-science, it is clear that we are to assume that the SPOV is the majority point of view. "the task is to represent the majority (scientific) view as the majority view and the minority (sometimes pseudoscientific) view as the minority view" (and this BTW is factually incorrect globally, in the US, and in almost every country other than a few in Europe; in most of the world, and the world as a whole the SPOV is a minority POV). The dinosaur article is in compliance with WP's formal policies near as I can tell. Bmorton3 15:17, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
The project is to improve the quality of philosophy articles in Wikipedia. These are all discussions around how to do that. Dbuckner 07:45, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Please take this personal stuff to your respective talk pages and stop edit-conflicting me.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:49, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I removed the PR. Dbuckner 08:08, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
And to make amends I have put some hopefully constructive and useful comments on the talk page of Philosophy of language which is part of the project and could do with more help. Franco has been doing some good stuff there. Dbuckner 09:14, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Further idea

This we could do within existing policy. Now that there are about enough philosophers reading this page, how about an informal panel to look at articles on philosophy, with a view to putting a template on the ones that are 'fit for purpose'.

This would not be as rigorous as the FAC process, at least the panel would not worry about whether there are questions, or whether the word 'also' has been over used. It would worry, I think about whether

  • The article has the right balance. For example, if it is about the philosophy of mind, does it cover pretty much the same things that you would mention if asked to talk for two minutes on 'the philosophy of mind'. What are the headline issues, who are the key historical figures, who are the current figures (of the top of my head, Dan Dennett, Gilbert Ryle and er… ).
  • There are no sweeping or silly or contentious claims, and any obviously general or wide ranging assertion is adequately cited.
  • All the difficult bits have been explained clearly, with the minimum of technical trappings and obscurities.

How would that help? Well, one problem with attracting subject matter experts is that they will first 'have a look round'. I now have concrete evidence from other subject areas of competent people joining, having a short tour of the premisses, seeing the cockroachers and the unwashed dishes and making a hasty exit. If there were evidence of some quality control, perhaps this would be a start. Also, we owe it to the readers that they have some sort of assurance of accuracy in certain areas.

There remains the problem that any such QA'd article will 'creep'. But that's another story, and another battle. What do you think? Does anyone know how templates work? Dbuckner 10:32, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

PS Another idea which would not suffer the 'creep' problem is also to identify the outstandingly bad articles, and label them accordingly. Dbuckner 10:32, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

PPS It works. Go to mind for example, and you now see it is in the 'outstandingly bad' category. Click on the category to see other articles I have identified. All contributions welcomed. There really needs to be a template at the top to ensure the reader understands this, but the category will help in determining which ones need attention. The one on mind really is VERY bad. Dbuckner 10:57, 4 September 2006 (UTC) E.g. "Mind is synonymous with Soul, and emanates (since it is non-dimensional, or trans-dimensional) from the Spirit (the essence that can manifest itself through any level in pantheistic hierarchy/holarchy - as a mind/soul of a single cell (with very primitive, elemental consciousness), a human or animal mind/soul (with consciousness on a level of organic synergy of an individual human or animal), or a (superior) mind/soul with synergetically extremely complex and sophisticated consciousness of whole galaxies involving all sub-levels. Spirit (essence) manifests as - Soul/Mind. And the (non-physical) Soul/Mind is a 'driver' of the body. Therefore, the body, including the brain, is just a 'vehicle' for the physical world (if we, for example, have a whole planet as a 'body' then its brain is the synergetic super-brain that involves all the brains of species with a brain on that planet)." Dbuckner 10:59, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Or see Doxography. Dbuckner 13:42, 4 September 2006 (UTC) Interesting that the 'continental' category of articles is nowhere near as bad as the rest. E.g. Existentiell is not bad, though short. Dbuckner 13:51, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Like the idea of a review board and the category, but most category-names are plurals, so 'Outstandingly bad philosophy articles' would be neater. Cheers, Sam Clark 14:04, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes I spotted that after I had done a few. In any case it was a test, and perhaps the category is unnecessarily rude, so I'll change it to something like, 'needing attention' or similar. But do check out some of the articles, it's compelling reading. Dbuckner 15:25, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah Philosophy pages needing attention is MUCH better! Good idea. Bmorton3 15:29, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
I have a query out on one of the technology groups. Apparently it may be possible under a new release to query articles that are both in the Category Philosophy, and in 'Need expert attention'. That would save work, as I see many of these pages have already been labelled. Dbuckner 16:24, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Another thing I notice is that the 'Metaphysics' category has a large number of 'New Age' type articles which while outstandingly bad under the present criterion are quite good New Age articles. I propose removing the 'Metaphysics' tag as it is in effect owned by Philosophers. We invented it. Also, perhaps relabel all 'Metaphysics' and 'Ontology' articles as plain 'Philosophy'. Note sure we need all these categories given there are only about 6 decent articles in the whole encyclopedia. Otherwise it's hours of work trying to sort out all the stuff. Dbuckner 16:24, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
The problem with these "New Age" wikis isn't that they're wacky (as Bertrand Russell said, "whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities"), but that they're poorly written, poorly sourced, only marginally endorsed, and don't sound at all serious. These perspectives must have been written about and documented by someone respectable, be they anthropologist or philosopher, and this and only this gives them hope as articles. And anyway if they're to exist, they must be in their own articles.
With all that in mind, I see no warrant to carve out something metaphysics as if it were one's territory. It doesn't seem like a cooperative tactic to pretend to own a subject matter (i.e., metaphysics). A discipline, maybe; or a tradition, fine; but not a subject.Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 16:56, 4 September 2006 (UTC) (Edit 4:14)
The question is purely one of keeping the 'territories' separate. The question is, do we leave 'Metaphysics' to the New Agers, and remove all 'Metaphysics' tags from genuine philosophy articles? Or do we keep it for genuinely philosophical subjects? That's all. Dbuckner 18:50, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
New Age articles could very well be called "metaphysical" -- I don't see any point debating that -- but they're still expected to meet basic scholarly expectations. And even if they do meet those expectations, they may not be entitled to much (if any) due weight in more generic mainstream articles (i.e., those relating to mind, or historically considered philosophical perspectives on metaphysics). In other words, I don't understand why this is an all-or-nothing question. Something may fall under the scope of "metaphysics" as a category, just out of good semantics, and yet be of no significance to the actual mainstream articles in the category. So banning them from the category is unnecessary since they're not going to be accessed through the mainstream wikis. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 20:14, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Does anyone find this baffling as I do? In what sense does the article Crystal power, which currently is in the 'Metaphysics' category, properly belong in that category? I'm mystified. Dbuckner 21:40, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Or see The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. Dbuckner 21:41, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Or Plane (metaphysics). And so on. Dbuckner 21:43, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
The latter two involve explaining the nature of existence (through absurdity). That makes them metaphysical. The crystal article could probably be safely taken out of the category, though. Lucidish { Ben S. Nelson } 02:17, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
OK that's it, I'm out. I've had enough. I actually left four months ago. I came back in one last hope that it was possible to salvage something out of the madness. I see now that was stupid. I have much better things to do than this (like finish a paper for a proper peer-reviewed journal). Best. Dbuckner 07:07, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Alright, this needed to be said at some point. This little disagreement with Ludicish over categories is a truly preposterous pretext for quitting the project. You have essentially spent the last two weeks or so whining and ranting against the deficiencies of Wikipedia. Have you enjoyed yourself?

Instead of lamnting that the category "metaphysics" contains some rather odd stuff (how could you expect any differently on Wikipedia??) and other such trivalities, why don't you actually get to work on improving some articles. A few helpful comments here and there, constant blathering on about "edit-creep" and "expert rebellion", and then quitting makes you begin to look like more of a crank than bad editors like Ndru. Moreover, i have to side with Lucidish ion this one. Metaphyisc is a grab-bag term that has long been used for things outside philosophy, like the ressurection of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, consunstantion and other theological weirdnesses. Why shouldn't the Rosicrucians have their space in it? What's the big deal about Catgeories in any case? Mussolini is classified as a Roman Catholic atheist!!--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:39, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

You were the one person on the philosophy project who has truly done some great work. And I am truly sorry you should be saying this. I've worked on this for three years. That is enough. Dbuckner 15:16, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps that is EXACTLY why I'm saying it.

Isn't this another problem with Wikipedia?? I'm protesing againts the fact that experts, well-nigh geniuses, can just throw in their marbles like children and say "that's it! I don't like it anymore!!" It's egoism, plain and simple. YIf you really wanted to help this project, you would have written "I'm not going top post for three months" and come nack to see if things have improved. What does it really mean to QUIT (or leave) Wikipedia? It reminds me of the days when I used to write for a group blog. We had a name for the disgruntled diarist who ostentatiosly posted his last diary so that everyone could note the improtance of his absence: Goobye Cruel "Fill in your Blog" Diary. What do you accomplish for Wikipedia, for Wikiepdians, for anyone else beside yourself, by the act of leaving Wikipedia? "Yeah, now they'll see!! Maybe other experts will follow my lead andmany more will "quit"? Now, that IS very constructive and altruistic of you. Perhaos you leave becasue you actually do feel unappreciated. Is it not enough for you to know that IIIIIIIIIIIIII apprecaite your damned comments and eefforts, you selfish bastard.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:46, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

As you know I did a great deal of research on the Omnipotence paradox, trying to locate the source of two views, rather than rely on Google, like the rest of everything on the internet. That meant going through indexes of books written on paper, all that old-fashioned sort of thing. I'm sorry I upset you by the 'expert' thing. That was not intended. I regard you as an expert. You are competent in the subject matter, and you write well. That is enough. On leaving – as I said, there are a lot of other things I have to do, and life is so very short. I'm really sorry. Dbuckner 16:22, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
Alright then. Sorry for the harsh language. Many people do not understand me because I have a bizarre habit of turning everything into an existential struggle. That's because every moment for me is one and I tranfer this conscioisness into everything I do. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:50, 5 September 2006 (UTC)


PS Left a little message on User_talk:Jimbo_Wales. Dbuckner 07:41, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I wonder how many similar messages the poor guy gets a day.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:43, 5 September 2006 (UTC)