Talk:Robert Wilson Lynd

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Author stub[edit]

This article currently consists of 3 sentences about the subject, a largely irrelevant list of authors included in an anthology by the subject, and a mere list of his works. It's the longest stub article I've ever seen (which is why I re-added the stub message after the sole textual content, instead of buried at the end). Could someone familiar with the subject add actual text about him — his life, his career, his genres, his respectability and/or notoriety, reviews and/or analyses of his major works, etc.? Thanks. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 07:34, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

The anthology is not irrelevant. If you take the trouble to go through it, you will find it contains numerous poets remembered for their Irish nationalism. That is, the choice of poetry actually reflects Lynd's opinions. As for a mere list of works: compiling such a list takes time and effort. Charles Matthews 08:01, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Charles, as far as the works list goes, I didn't mean to belittle the effort you put into creating it. It is a valuable adjunct to the article. On the other hand, the anthology is appropriate to list as a work, but listing its contributing authors and expecting the reader to interpret the list as describing something concrete about the anthologist is absurd. If there's something to be said about the author's opinions, say it. Wikipedia's no original research policy means that the contents of an article should be informative text based on published material. Forcing the reader to speculate about the subject's opinions based on a list of people he respects is even less informative than making unsourced statements about the subject, because the reader is expected to fill in all the blanks. At least with personal assertions, it's possible to back them up or refute them with sources. Finally, the handful of details you added are certainly welcome, but his obituary was probably longer. What makes any article a stub is the minimal encyclopedic text, and I believe there's still a way to go on this one. You might take a look at some of the anthology's listed authors' articles, like (picking semi-randomly) G. K. Chesterton, W. H. Auden, Ralph Hodgson, Thomas Hardy, T. S. Eliot, and probably many more, for examples of non-stubs, both with considerable structure and with very little. They all share the trait of having more than just a few sentences on the subject's life and works (although I just noticed that Hodgson has no sources, which should be addressed). ~ Jeff Q (talk) 11:01, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

I have had this discussion already at Richard Aldington. What you say:

Forcing the reader to speculate about the subject's opinions based on a list of people he respects is even less informative than making unsourced statements about the subject, because the reader is expected to fill in all the blanks

I can't agree with. The list is factual and relevant. At the Aldington article I also had to deal with someone who reckoned he could just cut factual material.

As for Hodgson, it is not so easy to research him as he was secretive. However he turns up in biographies, for example of Walter De La Mare and Siegfried Sassoon, for example.

On the stub business, I did not in fact remove the stub notice, as you seem to think. Perhaps Wikipedia:Stub can clarify this:

Another way to define a stub is an article so incomplete that an editor who knows little or nothing about the topic could improve its content after a superficial internet search or a few minutes in a reference library.

Charles Matthews 12:32, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

First, I apologize for claiming that you removed the stub tag. Apparently you moved it to the bottom. When I noticed that earlier, I removed my redundant tag (check the history).
Second, I removed the anthology list again. I'm not arguing the factuality of the anthology list, just the relevance. You could add a statement about whether Lynd liked ham sandwiches if it was documented, but it wouldn't provide any direct insight into who he is. Likewise (and a bit less whimsically), a list of authors whose works Lynd has compiled says nothing directly about who he is. You are merely assuming that there is a direct connection, and you aren't even saying what that connection is. For example, what are we supposed to infer about Lynd by the fact that he included Aldous Huxley in his anthology? That he likes science fiction? That he has a thing for British vegetarian authors? That Huxley turned him onto psychedlia with The Doors of Perception? Repeat these questions 106 times (assuming the reader even knows all about each and every one of the 107 authors), and all you've done is confuse the reader. On the other hand, if Lynd's introductions to each author illuminate his life, his interests, and his own work, such connections are published and can be included in the article, but that's just what I said from the start — don't vaguely imply something undefined, make the point directly. Mass name-dropping adds nothing to the article.
Finally, I'm glad you pointed out that Wikipedia:Stub paragraph about editors who know little or nothing about the topic. I was going to quote it to you, in fact. After I wrote my last comment, I started researching Lynd in order to do just that — improve the article without knowing anything about the subject. (I've already picked up a blurb from Dictionary of Irish Writers, and have several more works targeted at another library.) Of course, by the time I'm done, I will know something, but I'm hoping to prove that this article can be brought up to WP standards by some casual research. I hope to have results by sometime Wednesday (unless you beat me to it by fleshing it out before I do, which I can see you're already working on). ~ Jeff Q (talk) 01:08, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I'd like to see the anthology section restored, but with an introductory paragraph explaining the publication history and pointing out that it is notable for including so many Irish nationalists. Lynd was unusually supportive of the Irish language and of Irish nationalism. Filiocht | The kettle's on 08:26, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I feel that Jeff has gone about this in one of the most annoying possible ways. Creating an 'edit war' atmosphere over small things like a stub notice is all wrong. The anthology listing is on the same principle as on scores of other pages: let the list of authors speak for itself. It is factual, verifiable, relevant. If I had to interpret it myself: Lynd, who was a literary editor for the Daily News/News Chronicle in fact, had sympathies primarily with the Anglo-Irish, nationalist tradition (cf. Alice Milligan, for example), and the Georgian poets, but included a few of the 1930s poets. Aldous Huxley had a reputation as a poet and essayist by the time he started his sequence of major novels. To call him a science-fiction author is just crass, actually: follow the link to the article. Lynd includes little of the modernist poetry of his time. I find that interesting, in a negative-indication way. But all this is my reading. I can't fathom the lack of 'relevance': he was a man of letters in the old-fashioned sense, and his choice of poetry is highly relevant data. Charles Matthews 09:06, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree in general terms, but it may be worth making the reasons for inclusion explicit in the text. by the way, he also included an unusually high percentage of women of his day. Filiocht | The kettle's on 09:13, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I want to thank Charles for helping me to make my point by trying to add a useful explanation of the Lynd-Huxley connection here. To summarize my case:
  • Encyclopedia articles are supposed to inform, not just list (unless they're explicit lists, of course).
  • Wikipedia articles are supposed to do so based on published information, not editor speculation.
  • The author list in the anthology is nothing more than unexplained trivia.
  • Charles's attempt to explain Huxley's inclusion is his own speculation. So is mine, exaggerated somewhat in order to show that one cannot assume what the reader knows about something tossed into the article without context. (Until I read the Huxley article — which I did before I used him as an example, by the way — my knowledge of Huxley was that he was British and wrote Brave New World.)
I am not sufficiently interested in this article to repeatedly delete this irrelevancy or ensure that it is somehow made relevant. I'm on the record as having objected and detailed my objections. I can only hope that someone who cares about Lynd will actually do the research to fill in the details. (I'll contribute what I can shortly.) I apologize if my tone is too edgy, but I really believe in the need to craft meaningful articles that actually tell the reader things rather than force them to read dozens of associated articles just to try to understand points that should be made explicit. This doesn't in any way inhibit a curious reader from exploring the associated material; it just requires the article to stand on its own. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 13:05, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
You know, Wikipedia contains reference material too. Boiling point of sulphur, that kind of thing. All you have done is carp and cut. I don't mind uppgrading articles: if you look, I have started about 275 on poets alone. I'm not interested in the equivalent of the little girl in the story who said 'this book told me more about penguins than I wanted to know'. Charles Matthews 13:10, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

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