User:Leprof 7272

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The Treachery of Images
La Trahison des images
(Ceci n'est pas une pipe)
Artist René Magritte
Year 1928–29 (1928–29)
Medium Painting, oil on canvas
Dimensions 63.5 cm × 93.98 cm (25 in × 37 in)
Location Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Purchased with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. William Preston Harrison Collection (78.7). On public view: Ahmanson Building 2nd Floor].


After more than a decade here, and more than 10,000 registered edits (>50 created pages, edits on >1700 unique pages)—96% of which, edits with summaries—and less than 60 total hours blocked over that time, this former faculty contributor has taken indefinite leave of Wikipedia, over differences in educational philosophies and priorities, and fundamental objections over the empowerment of small groups of individuals to make far-reaching decisions (for individuals, and for the encyclopedia) without clear paths for decision review/appeal.

The matters culminating in disagreement here are being taken forward through channels to the Foundation, and only if arguments made find purchase there, is there chance for return of this contributor.

Meanwhile, substantiated trends at the English encyclopedia—toward (i) hiding informed judgments regarding the quality of articles from viewers, and (ii) allowing for appearance of unsubstantiated visual and textual material as valid content—will undoubtedly continue.

Readers in general and educators in particular are therefore encouraged to apply increasing caution, as this institution has failed to show itself to be transparent about itself and the quality of its products.

It is with deep regard for those who labour hard in support of content fully sourced to appropriate and reputable sources, and in doing so rise above the deeply flawed status quo standards of fairness required here, to a standard more adequately deemed just—to these I wish a fond farewell. Leprof 7272

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I am a professional with training that allows for new content generation and for editing scholarly content. I began editing while in a professional (professorial) position that had associated public service, and have continued as my real-world work became focused on the reliability of information (and as my circle, youth especially, have raised questions on widely varying subjects germane to their interests and lives).

I edit articles with a view to accuracy of article scope, emphasis, and details, based on the preponderance of scholarly information available—per WIkipedia policies on verification, derived from secondary sources as much as possible. This is true whether I edit out of professional concern in my areas of scholarly training and experience, or respond to a reader concern about an article (where my editing is based on general scholarly training, and often in consultation with others that are subject matter experts). See Biographical and Wikipedia interests, below, for more information.

In general, I am deeply committed to the notion that we as editors are expected to be editors, and not authors—presenting not our own ideas and intellectual constructions, but instead accurately representing verifiable information from the best published sources (see Wikipedia policies/guidelines… below). Our failure here, to hone to this foundational policy expectation of the encyclopedia, alongside other major scholarly transgressions—e.g., our tolerance of plagiarism, and our failures in transparency with the public—will commit us to mediocrity, if a way forward is never found. (And the very structure of this information space, with its bottom-up, consensus-driven mode of decision-making, seems to make this lowest common denominator quality commitment a certainty.)

A particular concern when editing within my professional area of drug discovery is reader safety in relation to articles that present information about medicine, science and technology. For instance, in articles relating to recreational drugs, natural products, etc., I will edit to make clear toxicologic information, the consequences of chemical/pharmacologic experimentation or indulgence, and the like.

Finally, consistent with the above, and au courant, I am committed to calling attention to the widely acknowledged principle that images are simply a different, but still clear form of data and information, to which Wikipedia policies regarding the need for verification and the prohibition of original editor research should apply—i.e., that Wikipedia should not, on the sly, be publishing novel ideas, slipped in because current, firm policies/interpretations do not require that the information content contained in images to be based on verifiable sources. This effort began in the subject areas that currently allow self-publication of scientific and medical imagery (because of the potential for inaccurate medical information, and the issue of patient privacy and consent involved).

The matters mentioned in this lede are mentioned because of their currentness, but also to encourage contact from others with similar convictions. They also introduce the formal, more thorough statements regarding my biography and interests, presented below.


This user is a member of the Association of Non-Idiocratic Wikipedians.

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Content of which I am inexplicably proud, along with date posted[edit]

Completely missed boats: How, apart from condoning plagiarism, we oft get it wrong[edit]

Sophie's Choice (novel)[edit]

In short, prior to November 2015, the article on this important novel failed completely to capture the chief reason for its controversial reception and continued academic and broad cultural interest—that it presented a markedly different view of a Jewish author regarding the causes and implications of the Holocaust. Granted, Sophie's Choice (novel) was not designated a Good Article—we at WP were making no claim of it being a quality piece of encyclopedic work. But for the article to have "missed the boat" on this very central and widely discussed aspect of the novel, an aspect presented in many citations (see Styron's related works and the article's Further reading section, and the Sylvie Mathé article cited above), and for the omission to have persisted for over a dozen years (2003-2015), is to suggest a serious flaw in the process by which we evaluate articles, and move them along toward being acceptable for public use. My opinion. [Le Prof]

Wikipedia policies/guidelines on source selection, web citation use [reminder][edit]

Futile attempt by this scholar, to argue that WP images are data/content[edit]

For what appears to have been a fully futile attempt to encourage one WikiProject to come to grips with its presentation of self-published information—that it cannot possibly, in the long run, ensure accurate and legally compliant content when editors can post complex, self-generated images with medical content without checks for patient consent, and clear attribution or citation support, see [3]. This is a problem, consensus or no consensus, that will not go away. Le Prof, March-April 2017.

Regarding plagiarism and the tagging that it, and related poor scholarship, demands[edit]

The following was adapted via minimal editing from a response given to a reasonable and thoughtful editor and colleague here, who called attention to the active concern others have expressed over my leaving articles tagged, even heavily, at the end of editing sessions. One principle tag in this case called attention to material cut-and-pasted from a source without attribution. Here, in largest part was my response to being challenged about my tagging behaviours.

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I [can only] begin to address [in this challenge to my tagging] the generally prevalent academic concern [I and others share over the paired issues of, first, unsourced, and therefore unverifiable content, and second, the very significant degree of plagiarism that infests Wikipedia together, which are at the root of much that I tag]; these are subjects far too broad for brief attention.

Suffice it to say that WP has created a perfect intellectual conundrum and morass, having:

  • (i) no easily used internal tools for plagiarism detection,
  • (ii) low [overall community standards regarding the acceptability of including unsourced and therefore unverifiable material in initial edits (leaving sourcing to later, follow-on editors), and also regarding the more egregious] cribbing of material from sources, and
  • (iii) perfect ease [established] for outsiders to replicate (mirror) its content, thus making external plagiarism checking a lifelong vocation should anyone be so foolish as to commit to it.

[The fact that Wikipedia has a policy prohibiting and responding to the use of unverifiable information (however weakly enforced), but only a guideline prohibiting and responding to plagiarism, is telling in my opinion. From the persective of one committed to "Doing..." (and teaching about doing) "Honest..." academic work, it's noteworthy that] even sources with Creative Commons status, and out of copyright status, available for free use, carry the implicit legal or ethical stipulations that the source be acknowledged where its information is re-used. One needn't look far here at Wikipedia to see these standard intellectual expectations being broadly, generally ignored.

With regard to [my] use of tags here: Editors have differing philosophies regarding tagging. The preponderant philosophy appears to be,

"We need to hide article imperfections from general readers—making an article appear 'fine' is important, regardless of the issues associated with it, large or small."

As an academic and a person devoted to openness in intellectual endeavours, and one committed to the survival of WP in its next stages of evolution, I oppose this preponderant view, and fight for articles appearing tagged, if there are clear, unequivocal reasons for tagging them. (An unsourced section is an unsourced section. A long section completely drawn from a single source is just that. URL-only citations are a clear problem. Etc., etc.)

[With regard to the overused "just fix it" mantra: In editing articles I come to, as a first interest, or those related articles to which the primary interest is linked,] I always do what I can, quickly, to fix what I see [as being problematic]. But I do not leave an article with issues that will take many tens of hours to address without tags, just because I cannot fix all myself, in one session or set of sessions. We are a community. If we are an honest one, we can endure tagged articles, for the very simple reason that they reflect the real status of the encyclopedia, rather than an impression we would wish to create in a reading, public group of WP users. (Benign and malignant growths that are present in a body need attention called to them, even if they cannot be seen by the casual, external observer—so that intervention takes place.)

Otherwise... I am always committed to seeing tags consolidated, their messages shortened, etc. The truth is, long messages in tags are sometimes the only way to quickly convey issues to a population of editors, first, [where] many are ready to revert at an impulse, and second, where even if more patient, many are fairly ready to act [editorially] without thoroughly reviewing relevant Talk sections.

The bottom line, from me: I will always take concerns of other editors seriously, and attempt to accommodate them, but I will not submit to the notion [that persistence of unverifiable material is acceptable], or that it is acceptable to overlook when information written by others is misappropriated; moreover, neither will I submit to a fundamental philosophy that says that appearance is more important than reality—that readers should be allowed to perceive an article as being without flaws, when in truth it is substantially out-of-compliance with Wikipedia's own limited standards for academic honesty and scholarly attribution, as appear in its policies and guidelines.

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I will do further work on this, but it is adequate to refer to, so that I do not have to repeatedly explain and defend, as I involve myself with WP activities. Cheers. Le Prof. [Last edit, June 2017]