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This user will not return to active article editing until wikipedia stops eating itself

Old userpage[edit]

You may find my old userpage in the history, please look there for more details.

An open letter to wikipedia[edit]

Dear wikipedia,

First your editors removed a vast number of images, many of which had value and could not be practically replaced (only theoretically). Whilst I agree with the need to preserve copyright, this made wikipedia a far less interesting place to visit.

Now I discover that moves are underway to remove nearly all articles on individual episodes of TV shows. If wikipedia were a paper encyclopaedia, this would make sense, as space is limited to only more important matters. But given the near infinite storage capacity for text, and the fact that real people put real work into writing these, it makes no sense. Wikia is suggested as the better home, yet wikia is a for-profit organisation that is controlled by Jimmy Wales. It is also a disparate collection of separate wikis, with no guaranteed common rules between them.

Notability is still an important issue for wikipedia, but it needs to be considered in terms of expanding to appropriate depth, not in terms of "validity of existence". Removing fancruft will not make more serious matters have bigger and better articles, it will only remove editors who may have helped out with this.

What's more, most people I know regularly look for so-called 'fancruft' on wikipedia. It was the very presence of this information that made wikipedia so popular.

I do hope you will learn to stop eating yourself soon, A once-hopeful editor.

On verifiability[edit]

I have seen on a number of occasions people miss-using primary/secondary source theory to support actions that clearly show a complete lack of understanding regarding them:

  • If a person makes a statement regarding their opinions, reasoning, emotions, actions or history, that is all the source needed to verify that person's words on those matters. The person is the primary source, however we require a respected recollection of this material. The publishing of the statement in a quality resource such as The Times does not make it any more 'true' than when it was originally spoken, however it does verify that it was spoken. Similarly, an autobiography is valid verification, as long as the publisher is honest.
  • If no analysis is being performed on the material, no secondary source is required to make the statement - the primary source is sufficient.
  • The fact that a television show appears in listings and has been broadcast verifies it's existence, allowing the show's content to act as a primary source for itself. Secondary sources other than listings and the like are only needed for analysis of the show.
  • A plot synopsis can be written without analysis, based entirely from the primary source. However this is difficult and is something I would recommend against.

The above were written at a silly hour of the morning, and are by no means entirely correct and accurate in their langauge. However the basic points remain and are transferable to other matters than the featured issue.

An important rule on primary sources and reliability[edit]

The restatement of something from a primary source within a secondary source, without the use and strong synthesis of additional sources, can never be more reliable or preferable to the original secondary source.

The above is a direct result of the uncertainty of the sources and the theory of combining and compounding uncertainties. Unless additional sources are included that are based off different or additional primary sources, the uncertainty of a source cannot be less than the uncertainty of the sources it is using, and indeed is likely higher due to the unreliability of said secondary source itself.

On notability[edit]

Notability as we know it on wikipedia is generally a vague and fuzzy concept. By definition it has to be, as there are few quantitative methods to measure a subject's importance, and those that exist cannot be employed for every wikipedia article. More importantly, there are two key problems. Firstly, the dividing line between notable and non-notable is often highly blurred. Olympic athletes, for example, who come 4th and come 3rd in a race. One holds a medal, the other does not. We could expand the allowed range, but then the same logic applies again. In situations like this, broader coverage is a more constructive approach, better able to handle the second point. Secondly, and most significantly, notability is a major site for wikipedia's inherent biases to strongly influence opinions. Something of little importance to the USA, such as an Iranian soccer team, is likely of major value to people elsewhere in the world, Iranians for example. As internet listings from other parts of the world may not be as prevalent on their topics as listings for west-centric content online are, and are likely in a poorly understood language, these topics will seem non-notable despite the significant following. Similar stories can be told with respect to minority interests in the west.

I put it to you that exhaustive coverage has more benefits and fewer drawbacks than limited 'notable-only' coverage. Almost every argument against exhaustive coverage can be countered comprehensively, especially when the idea is introduced that lists are better used for initial coverage than stubs. However, one issue remains...

The sole argument against the reduction of the notability bar is that vanity and small-circle-centric articles will dominate. Whilst the vanity rules serve to prevent some of this, they do not stop 'tribute' articles (vanity or unvanity articles written by someone else close to the subject). As such, some measure of restraint is indeed needed. This must be a definable measure, able to be applied repeatedly with the same result. I propose that the best tool for this is that "content must be of non-trivial interest to a notably sized community (around 10,000 people)". Your average GP in the UK has 4,000 or so patients on their books according to the BBC. This measure means that schools within a town (something townpeople would have a non-trivial interest in) would be listed, but the teachers within (non-trivial only to the pupils and parents) would likely not. Hobbies and other interests that have any form of widespread following would be listed, but local clubs would again not be present. The wording I have chosen is poor, but with refinement this would not be far from an easily repeatable and verifiable measure, which prevents pure tribute or vanity articles.

On Synthesis[edit]

Whilst the synthesis of separate works to reach a novel conclusion is clearly original research, synthesis within a work or around a series of related works by the same author is often automatically dismissed and declared to require additional secondary sources for it to be used. It is important that we understand that there are effectively two types of sythesis:

  • Strong synthesis: The combining of details from multiple works to draw a non-trivial conclusion that neither source directly supports. This includes theorising upon the relation between two points, or implication by the drawing in of other issues where no direct link is involved.
  • Weak synthesis: Trivial conclusions that can be drawn without reaching any form of truly novel conclusion. This is best broken down into three sub-categories:
    • Weak grammatical synthesis: The English language is strongly dependant upon conducting weak synthesis as directed by the grammar to determine the meaning intended. Even following the subject through a series of statements often requires synthesis to determine what is being referred to at any given point. Examples of this are too numerous to document here, but as a rule this can be applied without issue within a paragraph (which is by definition a series of directly related statements to make a single point). Where multiple paragraphs directly follow from another, with the shared context and purpose defined at the beginning, weak synthesis may also be used, as these sentences are intended to elaborate on the initial point. However, when multiple paragraphs build up an argument which can only be concluded at the end, this conclusion may not be used unless explicitly stated, for its use in absence would be to put words in the author's mouth.
    • Weak untrained trivial synthesis: When no special skills are required to observe a fact from a source material that is not explicitly stated within the material (such as simple addition of related numbers mentioned or counting of certain mentions within the material), untrained trivial synthesis is occurring. Trivial synthesis is the very basis of paraphrasing, essential when reducing source materials for general inclusion in a greater work. As a rule, when effort becomes involved in order to reach an otherwise trivial conclusion, it is no longer trivial. However multiple trivial observations may be combined in order to reach a fuller trivial observations (e.g. it would be difficult to directly count trivial observations of credits across all episodes of a TV show, however separate counts per season may be combined to reach the same conclusion as the second trivial act is identical to the first, and the source material can be trivially divided into seasons with no further effort on behalf of the counter).
    • Weak trained trivial synthesis: The definition of trivial entirely depends upon personal knowledge. To those educated within a field (and hence likely to publish reference material on it), many matters that may seen complex to the untrained reader will be regarded as trivial. Trivial material, almost by definition, is rarely ever published or mentioned in it's own right, and the reader of any reference work in the field is expected to be able to make the same trivial trained synthesis. For example, 'falling' is known to generally mean in physics 'accelerating towards a body due to gravitational attraction' (or similar). Similarly, music scholars may be able to identify a note, but they often consider this act so trivial that the note of a tone, song, or noise is rarely ever documented, even though it may form an important part of a definition.


I, Λυδαcιτγ, hereby award you the Exceptional Newcomer's Barnstar for your helpful contributions to the conflicts of interest controversy, especially for your excellent summary of the related discussion. Keep up the good work! 01:27, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

A Barnstar!
The Original Barnstar

This is to recognise your responsible, helpful and proactive input into Wikipedia even at an early stage in your editing career. Tyrenius 00:43, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

A Barnstar!
The RickK Anti-Vandalism Barnstar

LM is an utterly exceptional user and dilligent contributor. I'll bring the food 13:55, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Peace Barnstar 6.png The Barnstar of Peace
For the best effort I've yet seen at resolving the impasse at Homeopathy, I award you this well-deserved Barnstar of Peace. Sarcasticidealist (talk) 20:39, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Barney the Bishapod.png The Services to Science Award
Thanks for all the fish, LinaMishima, and for working to dispel the yapping terriers of ignorance. Remember to have fun! dave souza, talk 10:40, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

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