Talk:Kenneth E. Iverson

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The following is a record of interactions between User:Roger Hui and User:Diannaa regarding the use of quotations in the article.

Please don't add so many quotations from non-free works, like you did on Kenneth E. Iverson. We aim to be freely reusable by anyone, and excessive quotations from non-free content gets in the way of that mission. — Diannaa (talk) 00:11, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

Hi, you've deleted whole sections of text from my edits of Kenneth E. Iverson's page, justifying it by saying it's "excessive quotations from non-free works". Please tell me what constitutes "excessive quotations". Even better if you can point me to a Wikipedia page that answers that question.

In my opinion, at least some of the quotations would be acceptable in an academic paper. For example, the quotes from I.B. Cohen's books I would consider acceptable in an academic paper: 3 paragraphs from two full-length books. There are others. Roger Hui (talk) 01:57, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

I note that the page for Enrico Fermi, a "Featured Article", has five quotations from copyrighted works: [43], [66], [85], [120], and [122]. The key quotations you deleted from the Kenneth E. Iverson page are not any longer than the ones in the Fermi page. Roger Hui (talk) 02:16, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

The related policy page is Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria. The most relevant sections are #1 (no free equivalent) and #3 (minimal use). There's also an informative essay at Wikipedia:Quotations. In general, quotations have a free equivalent in that they are replaceable by prose that we write ourselves. I have done a comparison with the Fermi page and discovered that Enrico Fermi is 7,082 words long (including the quotations) and contains 813 words of quotations (11% of the article). That may be excessive, and if you wish to pursue it, I suggest bringing it up at that article's talk page. Kenneth E. Iverson had 3,930 words (including the quotations) and 1,425 words of quotations (36% of the article). Definitely excessive. — Diannaa (talk) 12:47, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for your response; I'll ponder on it. You seem to know a handy way to find the word count of a Wikipedia article. What is that handy way please? Roger Hui (talk) 13:34, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
I've installed the script User:Dr pda/prosesize in my User:Diannaa/common.js page. If you need help getting started with scripts, please let me know. — Diannaa (talk) 13:57, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

First of all, thank you for sharing the word count tool. It is helpful in working through this particular issue of quotations.

I have studied the policy stated in Wikipedia:Non-free_content and your messages. After careful consideration I have have restored some of the quotations you deleted: The "Quotations and Anecdotes" section remains deleted. The five block quotes in the other sections have been restored. According to the word count tool, the article now has 2946 words (including quotations) and 441 words of quotations (15% of article). By your analysis, the Enrico Fermi page, an exemplary "Featured Article", has 7082 and 813 (11% of article). The policy has no hard number of what % of quotations is excessive, and 15% does not seem to exceed 11% excessively.

Regarding the points 1 and 3 in the policy that you cited:

1. No free equilvalent. Indeed there are no free equivalents to the five block quotes. The first three are from books by I. Bernard Cohen, an eminent historian of science, who interviewed the actual people involved (Iverson, Aiken, Brooks). The fourth quote (rationale for Iverson's work post 1987) is a direct quote from Iverson himself. The fifth quote is from an account written within three years of the actual event with details not found elsewhere.

3. Minimal usage

a. Minimal number of items. Yes, the number of quotations is "minimal". The first quote describes the atmosphere at the Comp Lab when Iverson was there. The second quote gives a short but revealing characterization of Aiken, Iverson's doctoral advisor. The third quote describes the genesis of the graduate program that Iverson developed and taught. Since that program is the world's first graduate program in computer science, the quotation is of great historical interest. The fourth and fifth quotes are already described in the previous paragraph, and removing them results in crucial loss of information.

b. Minimal extent of use. The first three quotes are 3 short paragraphs from 2 full-length books (279 and 329 pages) by I. Bernard Cohen. The Iverson quote is one paragraph from a 12-page paper. The Hui quote is one paragraph from a 98-page book.

I decline to take up your suggestion to raise the matter that the Enrico Fermi page "may have excessive" quotations. First, I don't feel it's excessive; and second, I am following the advice of an Iverson anecdote (which regretfully I can not put into the article :-), namely, avoid suggestions of the sort, "let's you and him fight".

I wish you'd taken more care when you made your edit of the Kenneth E. Iverson page: There was an extra blank line after "on waking up from a nap". There was an extra space between "Roger Hui" and the comma in the paragraph which immediately follows that. There was (and still is) a forward reference ("see the first Anecdote below") that now links to nowhere.

Finally, thank you for your assistance on this matter and for your insights on Wikipedia policy.

Roger Hui (talk) 18:39, 25 April 2016 (UTC)