Welcome to my vanity page! I'm a Business analyst and process reengineering specialist living in Seminole, Florida. I am an unrepentant grammar freak and a hopeless technophile - - I have more phone numbers and e-mail addresses than many small companies.
- Update: I find the following anachronism amusing. I have more phone numbers and e-mail addresses than many small companies. - 15 April 2005. Roughly seven years later and I'm a e-mail-address piker compared to my teenage relations, and they are dumbfounded that anyone, ever, used more than a Google Voice number.
IMHO, Wikipedia is the perfect blend of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Encyclopedia Galactica and I feel it may be the single greatest achievement (so far) in the Internet Age.
Here are some tags you are likely to see in my talk or Vfd posts:
NPOV - [[WP:NPOV|NPOV]]
advocacy - [[WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a soapbox|advocacy]]
verifiability - [[Wikipedia:Verifiability|verifiability]]
citation, please - [[Wikipedia:Cite sources|citation, please]]
prove it - [[Wikipedia:Cite sources#When there is a factual dispute|prove it]]
reliable - [[Wikipedia:Reliable sources#Some definitions|reliable]]
take it outside - [[WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a battleground|take it outside]]
Wikinfinity - [[WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia|Wikinfinity]]
uncensored - [[WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not censored for the protection of minors|uncensored]]
I think everyone has a set of precepts and prejudices that shape their actions, and (if they are both honest and intelligent, in other words a "flip-flopper") those "inner rules" evolve over time. Here are a few of my Wiki-related opinions. Yeah, I know that each is heretical in Wiki, but these are my opinions. That does not mean that I cannot work objectively within the policies and guidelines of this community, only that I would prefer to see the community evolve. And yeah, I'll probably change them as I get more experience, looking back and thinking, did I ever really believe that nonsense?
Importance tests are antithetical to the core concept of Wiki. Applying these tests will, by definition, apply an irreversible POV to the entire project. When we, the readers and editors of Wikipedia, start to cull things that we have never heard of, we are purposefully putting blinders on. Wikipedia is not supposed to be a collection of knowledge useful to computer literati, it is supposed to be a collection of knowledge useful to everyone. Using tests like Google hits to determine value is equivalent to a Christian Fundamentalists using the Bible to pass judgment on current events. Exclusionists (and Deletionists) are the Wiki equivalent of the Amish (with apologies, since no insult is intended toward the Amish). I believe that there are three rules that make for a valid article:
- Is it possible to write a neutral and encyclopedic article about the subject with the knowledge available today? There are subjects that so inherently POV (points of faith and dogma, for instance, or articles about causes, motivations or social effects) that a reasonable article will not be possible for decades, if even then.
- Is the information objectively verifiable from a neutral, reliable source? If you cannot cite at least one valid and NPOV source, the article is either opinion or hopelessly obscure.
- Is there enough verifiable and interesting info to fill three headers or sub-headers? If not, either it belongs in an "umbrella" article or the topic is not significant enough to have an entry at all.
I feel that the exclusion of neologisms is the single worst rule in Wiki. Neologism was a neologism not that long ago and terms like blog, Wikify, the Web, and VoIP are neologisms today. I would suggest that, instead of trying to Latinify (my neologism for killing off a living language) English, we apply a different rule: Can the meaning and context of the term be accurately encompassed by another, preexisting term? Using that rule, my Latinify would fail, while terms like VoIP would survive.
- Update: Yes, 'blog' was a neologism when I wrote that, having come to prominence a few years earlier when 'political blogs' began to influence politics. In 2012, it seems absurd that it's that young as we retroactively apply it to self-described 'diarists', 'journalists', or 'journalers' from the 90s or even earlier.
WP:FICT conflicts directly with WP:NOT. I see no rational reason to exclude fictional characters based on their relevance outside their milieu. Many cult films, books, and fads include characters that are unique and striking enough to have encyclopedic articles written about them.
- Update: It's been a while since I wrote THAT! Between then and now (about seven years), WP:FICT has gone from dogma to apostasy and back a dozen times, and now is simply a quibble over the historical value of keeping the WP:FICT page at all.
I am not convinced that objective truth exists. I do not believe in black and white, only in really dark grey and really light gray with the kajillion shades in between. The same with right and wrong, good and evil, or any other polar constants outside of mathematics. We can strive to be good, moral, right-thinking people, but to achieve that is an unrealistic goal. I believe the same is true in Wiki: We can strive for perfection; all we will get is accuracy. We should still try, but we should be much more lenient with those who fall short of our own (purely subjective and arbitrary) thresholds.
NPOV vs POV
There seems to be an appalling lack of understanding about NPOV and POV. They are not polar opposites, but congruencies. The objective is not to remove all points of view, since that is impossible. Instead, the idea is to ensure that the POV from which the article is written is neutral, both in essence and in voice.
A superb example is any article even tangentially related to Christianity. You cannot approach the Gospels or Jesus without a point of view. If you approach it with scientific dispassion, you are accused of atheism. If you approach it from outside of DWEEC'ness, you are either a heretic, an apostate, a cultist or part'a one'a them thar Eastern hoards. I have not seen anyone (with the possible exceptions of Deepdelver and H.) who approach it from inside a mainstream western faith and are still able to divorce themselves from the biased and devoutly bent POV of his or her own religion.
- Update: Deepdiver went dark in 2008 and H. in 2009 (with two posts in 2010). RIP. I exited the Jesus Wars in 2007 (a year after I wrote this section), about the time that even Wikipedia gave up on fig leaf that "There Is No Cabal" and the tone became so poisonous that I hated even logging in. I dropped off editing for several years. Even now, I avoid certain pages (almost always related to the Middle East or Abrahamic religions) because the POV is so skewed and the attacks on non-conforming editors is so intense.
So how do we fix it? We cannot possibly make sure every viewpoint is represented, because you'd have approximately 5 billion sections, one for every person on Earth. If you summarize, you either disenfranchise or favour dozens of competing views. IMHO, we should give up on absolutism and write articles that give a comprehensive sense on what people agree on and break out the various sects into POV forks. Unfortunately, certain fanatics and zealots (and I use both words advisedly with specific editors in mind) know The One and Only Truth, and categorically refuse to allow such compromise. If their sacred text (or personal vision, or Godphone) tells them X is Y, then the article on Y damn well better start with the phrase, "Y is no more than X and anything to the contrary is superstition and heresy." If not, they'll put it there just to start the revert war, since the retaliator is almost always blamed. I had one tell me recently that (s)he didn't start a revert war because (s)he didn't revert anything; (s)he just added something that (s)he knew would provoke just such a reaction.
My vote? No adherent to any religion should be allowed to edit a page about that religion, except to remove incorrect information. We would end up with short, concise, accurate articles that are incapable of proselytising. We can never get there, though, because those motivated to bend Wiki to suit their own ambitions and reflect their own worldview are far more dedicated and machinatious than those of us who wish to preserve neutrality. The same should hold true of any structured worldview: politics, sex, nationalities, ad nauseum.
The reality? People who care about a neutral point of view simply have to attempt to strip as much advocacy as possible from articles, for as long as we can take the heat. If a phrase or sentence or word is sermonizing, delete it entirely with the POV tag. If it gets reverted, take it immediately to the talk page. We will lose this battle; it is difficult to stand for neutrality and harmony because it is so much easier to get people enflamed by real or imagined slights on The One Great Truth. All we can do is try, and sigh deeply. Kevin/Last1in 21:12, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
- Update: Seriously, was I ever this naïve AND this cynical at the same time? It will be fascinating to see my teen relations age, reading with horror the indelible social network musings of adolescence from the POV of middle age. How exactly do you tell your kid, "My parents would NEVER have allowed me to go out looking like that!" when the kid can reply, "Well, at 21:30 UTC on 12 August 2010, you posted a pic of your new four-coloured mohawk with the caption, 'Dats sum serious sh!t, mon!'"
Extra-Wiki: The World Outside
- I live in Florida, USA. Here, I'm politically ultra-liberal. In reasonable countries, I'd be a moderate, and there are a number of more civilized countries where I would actually be a bit right of center. I believe in uniform human rights for every conceivable subgroup. I dismiss the current fad of societal fragmentation, believing that we are rapidly becoming the fabled "house divided against itself". A citizen is a citizen, regardless of where they're from or what they have for parents, lovers, beliefs, appetite, genitalia, skin tone or taste in fashion.
- I work for and with talented and brilliant people within an organization that makes Dilbert's company look like Nerdvana. Decisions are considered an infectious plague to be avoided at all costs. Logic, math and efficiency are banned from all discussions.
- Update: LOL! I honestly had to comb the timestamps on this page to figure out about whom I was speaking. Just to be clear, I no longer work there but the descriptions holds for every employer I've had since. Just... wow.
- I am uncomfortable with anyone who is absolutely certain of anything. Yes, that is an oxymoron, as I am "absolutely certain" that certainty itself is suspicious. Speaking of oxymora, when Rush Limbaugh got busted for Oxycontin use, did that make him an Oxy Moron? Irony is one of my favorite things.
- I am unrepentant in my belief that someone who holds the same views that they did five years ago is either brain damaged or a danger to the world around him, and a person who states that they do not regret any decision from their last five years is either lying or ignorant. This leaves me with a president who is either (a) a brain damaged liar, (b) an ignorant mental defective, (c) a lying danger to the world or (d) dangerous to the world through his ignorance. Personally, I don't see that any of the four are mutually exclusive, and all apply equally to His Highness George the Second. If I suddenly disappear after this post, I would not be surprised to end up in a cage at Gitmo with jumper cables clipped to parts of my body that I'm very fond of.
- Update: No Gitmo and it's no one's business where I clamped those jumper cables. I have to admit, however, that seven years of hindsight have changed my views of President Bush. He was far worse for this country and for the world than I ever imagined at the time. I seriously doubt that the US will regain its moral and economic standing in the world within my lifetime. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are currently vying for the Presidency, so my current opinion that W is the most destructive man to lead our nation might be premature, but he sure set the bar high.
- English is a living language. The greatest authors in our tongue (Shakespeare, Poe, Clarke, et al) invented words to fit meaning. They did not warp their meaning to conform to the words. New words and new usages keep this language alive and attempts to stifle that are ill conceived. We need a second-person-plural pronoun like "y'all", and "dawg" has a distinct and viable meaning unrelated to "dog". English "purists" are the eugenicists of our language, and need to be told that Orwell's 1984 was NOT intended as a utopian ideal.
- I have several mottos:
- Never ask a question if you think you might not want to know the answer.
- Never criticize someone for something that you do or you have done. Your past will come back to bite you and, if I notice it, I will happily point its sharp little teeth right towards your ass. Everyone is welcome to return the favor. Hypocrisy is a primal sin in my world.
- Never disparage or belittle people, only statements and ideas. Those may be shredded at will.
- Fact and opinion are distinct concepts. Facts are what I say, opinions are what other people say.
- Strict adherence to the rules of grammar is an affectation up with which I will not put. The objective of language is to communicate; grammar rules that get in the way of that objective need to be broken.
- You will NOT like my views about your religion, your basic concepts of morality or your politics, and you are very unlikely to embrace my ideas on sexuality, capital punishment, or vegetarianism. That's okay, I probably won't like yours either. I invite comment, discussion and (especially) discord on all of these topics, so feel free to jump into my talk page.
- Update: Adding a couple...
- I cannot promise that change will make things better, but I can promise that without change, nothing will get better. Anything, be it a human mind, an idea, a religion or a species, that will not or cannot adapt to the constantly-changing world has chosen extinction.
- I don't want to know if you agree with me, only if you DON'T. I have far more to learn from those who disagree with me than I can ever learn from people who nod and smile. Anyone who surrounds himself with like-minded folks is choosing ignorance, a sin beyond redemption in my worldview.
The Jesus Wars
Much like in the "real world", there is a stream of unending wars over articles about Jesus and Christianity in Wikipedia. Luckily, there is (so far) less bloodshed. Apostates and heretics with dangerous ideas (like neutrality, common sense and the equality of all faiths) are only pilloried in words.
I have done a lot of study in comparative religion, and in Christianity, the Bible, the Apocrypha and related issues in particular. However, I rarely edit the articles themselves due to the wars. Due to the fanaticism of many adherents to Jesus-related faiths, I do not think that we will see NPOV articles in my lifetime. I get passionate, though, when the POV gets so blatant as to reflect on the credibility of Wikipedia itself.
That's when I will take up the Cross or the Crescent or the Staff and wade in on the talk pages.
Okay, fine, I give up! I took a three-month Wikibreak from the Jesus Wars. I went back today only to find the EXACT SAME mess, with the same edit wars and inane circular arguments. Not only do I feel that an NPOV article will never be achieved, I see no reason to continue trying. I think we should create a label along the lines of "This subject is hopelessly mired in controversy, and the worldview silos of different groups makes a truly encyclopaedic article impossible. Do the best you can to make it better, but there is no lifeguard in this particular pool."
- Update: I came back and tried again (as mentioned above). Within seven more months, the vituperative and poisonous tone had pervaded even peripheral subjects and drove me off Wiki (at least for edits) for three years. I peeked recently at the talk pages for a couple of articles (Jesus, Paul, Jerusalem, Zoroaster). I found the same bickering and backbiting with both new and old voices. When I got to a post the states a certain source is "essentially a communist activist in a dog-collar" I laughed for five minutes, shook my head, and vowed once again to avoid attempts to gain NPOV on any such topics.
Disambiguation v. Maze-Building
SNIDE WARNING: The following comments may seem less objective (or polite) than my normal standards. I feel really, really bad about that.
In writing a story, I found I needed info about chain (how metal chain is made, what "gauge" means when applied to chain, etc.). If I'm lucky, you just clicked that link and ended up at the disambiguation page for chain which I would term a REambiguation page. The objective of disambiguation is to lead people to appropriate articles; that page leads you to other disam pages, many of which lead back to Chain. It is the start of a Wikimaze.
You see, every hardware store I've been in sells something called "chain". It is made up of oblong "links", usually of metal but sometimes of PVC, that are (appropriately) linked together to form a chain that can be used for, like, everything. This disamb will take you to Connection, which has a link for Chain, back where you started. It also has a link for Link, which amusingly enough does NOT mention chains in the hardware-store sense at all, but only about chain as a measurement and link as a sub-measurement thereof.
Over the past two hours, I have searched in vain for chain. I was beginning to doubt that "Chain" really meant what I thought, until I went to Anchor, where what-I-think-of-as-chain appears everywhere. On the Chain page, there are links about "chains" of stores (using the examples of "hotel chain", "restaurant chain" etc.) - I'm seriously tempted to add "Hardware Store Chain" (the place you get that-whatchamacallit-stuff-I-think-of-as-chain) just out of sheer perversity. I can't however, make any valuable contgribution or try to fix it, since I STILL CAN'T FIND CHAINS! Kevin/Last1in 02:37, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
- A year and a half after that rant, some kind soul took pity and created a page about Chain (the thing they sell in hardware stores). It's really quite good.
Currently featuring a rewrite of the intro for Religion in ancient Rome