User:Piano non troppo

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Wikipedia has demonstrated to me that a group of loosely organized amateurs can't produce anything close to the quality of disciplined professionals.

If it wasn't for the top 100 articles that largely discuss rock and roll stars and sex, Wikipedia would sink far, far down the Internet ratings.

Don't fool yourself, nothing has been accomplished here except to hamper the spread of knowledge, since a better alternative could have easily be devised. Piano non troppo (talk) 23:39, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Dishonesty in Featured Article Selection

Professionally, a writer's work is evaluated by independent editors. Editing removes unnoticed mistakes. It removes poorly written and biased material.

Often Featured Articles in Wikipedia are evaluated and passed by the same people who wrote them. Sometimes by their friends. The evaluation process can happen in a few days, before there's much chance other editors have had time to notice or respond.

This substantially reduces an article's potential quality.

Contrary to Wikipedia's general editing policies, Featured Articles are automatically protected for several months from reevaluation. That is, once an writer and their friends railroad their self-awarded honor, there's easy no way to challenge it.

Utterly un-Wiki and dishonest.

Q: The Featured Articles passed extensive review checklists. So what's the problem? A: Good writing can't be legislated.

Q: The writing is community approved. What's better than that? A: For the best quality, the community at large shouldn't make final decisions about FA. The people I know who write for the Encyclopedia Britannica are widely read, highly educated geniuses who are experts in their fields. Those kinds of people should be assessing the worth of Wiki material. Not just anybody who wants to express an opinion.

Q: So only people who are exceptional should be allowed to write for Wiki? A: Only people who are exceptional should be allowed claim that an article represents Wiki's best.

Q: How should the process be changed? A: Do as professional publishers do: Have independent editors who have no vested interest in the material make assessments. Probably, the FA reviewers should be anonymous in the sense that their Wiki names are not known.

Q: Who chooses those editors? A: Other professional editors. Tenured college professors.

Q: What's the advantage? A: There are three advantages: 1) The quality of FA articles would improve. 2) Writers would get high quality feedback, enabling them become better writers for their next articles. 3) It would be faster. A professional editor can do in minutes what takes the Wiki community days of back-and-forth discussion.

I edit, therefore I exist?

Memorable locales
  • The Prancing Pony
  • Kent
  • Golden Gate Park

Feel free to ask a question

I'm a professional writer and editor, so I'm good to ask for advice about Wikipedia edits. Except when I've changed an article, I won't change the page you're working on, unless you ask. I suggested to libraries they put scratch sheets on the inside covers, so people can vent. You can criticize an article on its "Discussion" page. Express your concerns!

Asw1.jpgThis user is a member of the Association of
Structurist Wikipedians

Why did I delete something that's completely true?

Probably because it wasn't cited. Even if you saw something with your own eyes, especially if it contradicts what other editors wrote, your statement has much stronger support with a WP:RELIABLE reference. Without that, a month from now some editor will come along and just remove it — having no idea where the idea came from.

Did my message imply vandalism?

Vandalism is not a well-defined Wiki concept. It means both "threw paint all over the furniture" and "tipped something over by accident". If you mean well, then it's a "good faith edit". Don't get wrapped around the word, deal with the issue. Reasons for my edits are often found in WP:LINKSTOAVOID and WP:SPAM. Related information is in WP:SOURCE and WP:SOAP. (In particular that citations need to be reliable, but not advertising, and not promotion.)

Stars and all that

Contributions: 25,000 edits, largely anti-vandalism, 20,000 messages to editors regarding possibly vandalism edits, 30 new articles, 10 complete rewrites, 15 photos, 100s of copy edits.

Original Barnstar.png The Original Barnstar
For all you do, keep up the good work Ottawa4ever (talk) 16:47, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Antiflame-barnstar.png The Anti-Flame Barnstar
in the face of insult, remains calm Miquonranger03 (talk) 05:42, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
CVU Award.png CVU Anti-Vandalism Award
rollback expert, beating everyone to the punch Miquonranger03 (talk) 05:42, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
A Barnstar!
The Heron Marked Barnstar

I hereby award this Barnstar to Piano non troppo for their conspicuous effort reverting vandalism to The Wheel of Time article. Tai'shar Wikipedia! Nutiketaiel (talk) 12:14, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

No spam barnstar.png The Anti-Spam Barnstar
Hey Piano non troppo! Lately, when I am following the feed of the linkwatcher bots, and I decide that something may be spam, I often see that you already are there as well, reverting and warning the same editor! Compliments, and thanks for the hard work...In any way, your help is very welcome! Happy editing! Dirk Beetstra T C 10:33, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Barnstar of Reversion2.png The RickK Anti-Vandalism Barnstar
Because you really are good at fighting vandalism! ɷ i m b u s a n i a 07:20, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm an awesome Wikipedian!
This user has been identified as an Awesome Wikipedian and was awarded their own day.

How to...

How to find reference sources

Google Books [1] can be very useful. (Published books are often good sources.) Project Gutenberg can be useful for older references. (Many top downloads from [2] still lack Wiki articles.) Avoid using blogs and social sites such as MySpace. Links to sites that are mostly for promotion or sales, such as will be deleted. See Links normally to be avoided.

How not to do a lyrics reference

As of January, 2010, there are no online English "warehouse" lyrics sites that may be used as Wikipedia links.[3] (This does NOT include MTV lyrics, but it DOES include YouTube lyrics.) They all have material that potentially violates copyright. Strictly speaking, even a band's official page may be violating copyright, since the Web site owners may not own the songs. You can quote part of a song (not the whole song). Do not provide an online link for your quote. Pages with only lyrics published before 1923 in the US are allowed — the copyright has expired.

How to check editing history

The features of the main history report are described in Help: Page history.

1) To see recent edits for an article:

  • Click the “history” tab near the top of the browser contents. A page “Revision history of XYZ” appears.

2) To see (or to cite) changes between edits:

  • In the “Revision History” window are two rows of radio buttons. Click the left button for the earliest file version to compare, and click the right button for the later version.
  • Click button “Compare selected revisions”. A window with before and after versions of the files appears. (Changes to spacing may be impossible to see, don’t strain your eyes.)

3) To see who made the most edits, and when they first and last edited:

  • In the “Revision History” window, click “Revision history statistics”. A page of statistics appears.

4) To find which versions of an article a phrase appears in (phrase can be the name of an editor):

  • In the “Revision History” window, click “Revision history search”. All the text boxes except “Page” and “Search for” may be left as defaults.
  • Type the Wiki page to be searched.
  • Type the text to search for.
  • Click the “Start” button. The report slowly starts to list the page versions.

Versions containing the phrase have OOO, those that don’t, XXX. Skipped versions have ???. The report may be stopped or a link clicked at any time.

How to count visitors to an article

Wonder whether your good work is seen? Here's an incentive to create those new articles you've been thinking about. This tool reports how times an article is accessed daily: [4]. I assumed that most articles are rarely viewed, but that isn't the case.

How to deal with an editor who repeatedly won't respond (blocking)

Escalate editing conflicts slowly. Without preparation, requests to block an editor will fail.

  • To misquote Al Capone, “Being polite will get you further than a gun.”
  • Be factual, justifying your position with Wiki policies and guidelines.
  • Skipping an escalation step invites criticism from other editors and admins.

1. Make your change, explaining it in the “Edit summary” textbox. On your next edit...

2. Check for discussion on the talk page. Amplify your reasoning there, or in the Edit summary. (If you add to the talk page, write “See discussion” in your Edit summary.) Next…

3. Get a coffee. Check MySpace. Listen to a couple of good tunes. Give the other editor several minutes to think, to consider their position, to revise their response. Waiting a day won't kill anyone — get up out of your seat and stretch your legs. Next…

4. If the editor is still replacing their changes without explanation, then politely describe the situation on their talk page. Cite specific references. E.g., [[WP:SPAM#External_link_spamming]] is preferable to [[WP:SPAM]]. Focus the discussion. Next…

5. If you cannot draw the editor into a discussion, or get them to explain in “Edit summary”… The editor should know you are considering treating their edits as vandalism. Write another message to their talk page.

5a. Explain politely, e.g.,
“Repeating similar Wikipedia edits without explanation may be considered vandalism. Could you please explain the reason for (cite the edit).” Next…
(Note that if another editor is also adding talk page warnings, you may "skip ahead" a warning or two.)
5b. If the editor continues making the same change, warn them again. E.g.,
”If you insist on your changes without explanation it may be considered vandalism.” Next…
5c. If the editor continues without explanation, then give a final warning.
"This is your final warning. If you continue without explanation, you may be blocked from editing." Next…
5d. Wait for the editor to make a change after your final warning. Next…
5e. Go to AIV and recommend a block. (See ??? below.)

Where wikilinking becomes ineffective

WP:CONTEXT is good helping editors decide what types of links to include, but it does not explain that links, in real-world practice, are far, far less effective than perceived on a large website. True, considering a website with just a couple dozen pages -- and no other way to get to the children pages -- the links are heavily used! Wikipedia is a different situation.

In practice the golden upper limit of an article's links in Wikipedia is about ten.

That includes internal Wikilinking and external links. So, for those hoping to divert traffic to their Website ... in a long article with a dozen links, forget it. (External links in footnote references won't be clicked at all.)

Every couple weeks as a webmaster, I get a request to "make as many links to and from an article" in a knowledgebase as possible, the assumption being that more people will read the article. In practice, what Webtrends and other analysis tools show is that readers quickly become "saturated" with links on a page, even to the extent that they will ignore a link in bold red in an article "PLEASE READ THIS". Any more, and the number of readers clicking ("click-throughs") doesn't increase significantly, if at all. The strategy is to pick the best ten links. (The best articles, the most important issues — whatever the criteria may be.) The fewer, the more each link will get. I.e., each link in an article with three links will get clicked more often than each link in an article with ten. Manage the article's links carefully!

There is another pragmatic issue: How many readers scroll down a screen ("below the fold"). There is emotional debate about this. (Notice how AOL director [5] misconstrues her reference [6].) At any rate, some substantial number of readers do not scroll past the first screen, and most do not scroll to the bottom. This suggests: Links placed toward the bottom of an article are far less likely to be seen than ones at the top, and even more unlikely to be used.

Whether to link a term multiple times: There are professional guidelines about hardcopy "linking". Readers expect to see the first instance of a term ... defined, footnoted, given an acronym, etc. Duplicates are confusing, because they cause the reader to think, "Wait, didn't I already see that term?" And then they have to stop reading, go back and check. In articles with many characters, kings, cities or ingredients, it makes reading extremely difficult — the duplicate link leads readers to think that they misunderstood something earlier. The exception is the first paragraph, where links should be kept to a minimum. The purpose of the first paragraph is to give a synopsis of the article, not to fill in the details.

In sum. An article in my knowledgebases that got 10% click-throughs to other articles was rare. 1-2% was typical. Links are labor intensive for editors and little-used. They can make articles difficult to read for the majority of readers. I.e., in their current, limited technical form, overuse is a lose/lose situation.

MySpace external links

(v 1.1) Wikipedia explicitly names MySpace as an external link to be avoided.[7] There are exceptions, but not many. That's what the guideline is for: it's not saying external links to MySpace are basically ok, it's saying they are basically not. Here are guidelines to evaulate MySpace links (and also links to other social sites).

MySpace links should be deleted

If  1) There is another official external link;
Exceptions to 1:
1a) The MySpace page is not linked from the Official Page, and has a considerable amount of encyclopedic content that is not duplicated on the Official Page or in the Wiki article. If there is a small amount of encyclopedic content, it is preferred that the information be added directly to the Wikipedia article.
1b) The main audience of the person or band is non-English speaking. Then two official external links might be ok.
1c) The person is, for example, dead, and there's no agreement about what their official site is.
1d) Somebody else maintains a person's or a band's "Official Site", and they cannot control the content. Another site is allowed that they can control;
Or  2) The external link is not directly about Wiki article topic. A link from an article about a song to the MySpace page of a person who happens to have sung the song is not ok, it is WP:SPAM. (Consider that dozens may cover a song.);
Or  3) It violates copyright law. It is against Wiki policy (and possibly illegal) to link to sites violating the law.

Things that do not make a difference
- There are many official sites. A person or band is not allowed to have a dozen external Wiki links, just because they label them all "Official". The problems with a site are the same, regardless of what it is named.
- The MySpace page has the best fan forum. Irrelevant.[8]
- The MySpace page has all the most up-to-date concert plans. Irrelevant. Wiki is not a guide for upcoming events or for programming schedules.[9]
- The MySpace page has information that might be interesting. "Interesting" matters, but is not enough. A Google search probably returns hundreds of interesting pages. If the information is encyclopedic, then consider adding it to the Wiki article. Wiki is not a linkfarm for all related information.[10]
- A person or band's primary audience is non-English speaking. Then use the Wiki for that country.
- Each band member has their own MySpace. Then put their link on their Wiki article. An official page is not an excuse to spam Wiki with every person who has ever played with a group.
- The band broke up. Then is there any "Official" page? Who, legally, is responsible for the content of the page? Who is responsible for the accuracy and keeping it up-to-date? Wrong information is worse than no information.
- Band members are now active in other groups. Do they have their own Wiki pages? Then that's where the external links belong. External links are not required, or even necessarily recommended; a external link doesn't become ok because it's the "closest" Wiki article to fit it in.

Other considerations
- Sometimes, rarely, general rules and guidelines need to be ignored. Maybe, for whatever reason, a MySpace page has unique and excellent encyclopedic material. After all, the world isn't required to structure their Web sites to meet our guidelines! If a MySpace page is exceptional...then maybe it should be included. If that's the case, it probably wouldn't be hard to provide a justification on the article's discussion page.
- Consider the real impact of adding a MySpace external link: it may not be as much as you think. There are studies showing that less than half of Internet readers — on a typical page — scroll their screen down. External links are among the least likely things to be seen in a Wiki article. Even if readers see the link...would they click it? Only a small percent of people click article references. And of many wouldn't guess that a major rock star has a MySpace page? The daily "click-throughs" to a MySpace page from an average Wiki article is...few...sometimes maybe none. Are you an enthusiast? Your time might be better spent improving the main article.

Trivia and Popular Culture

After acting on your curiosity to investigate a term you just heard, there's an impulse to mention it in the Wiki article. Fight that impulse. Wikipedia isn't and can't be a cross-reference to every use of a word in the media.

Points on summary of the WP:TRIVIA guideline:

  • Information in Trivia sections (often called "Popular culture") should generally be considered temporary, while material is integrated into article.
If you are adding a trivia point, then the question is: Why can't you integrate it into the article now? Because it doesn't fit anywhere? (Or maybe because you haven't read the whole article?)
That is, "people might be interested in it" is not sufficient. People "might" be interested in just about anything. That's not the only criterion for adding to Wikipedia.

I remove trivia: 1) When the article doesn't have much to do with the trivia (e.g., a cartoon animal named after the real animal of the Wiki article), 2) When the trivia just mentions the term in passing (e.g., "The Aardvark Girls" yell "Julius Caesar" in their international smash hit "Nail Polish"), and 3) When it appears that the trivia misunderstands the concept.

WP:TRIVIA does not suggest automatically deleting entire trivia sections in all cases, but it also says the information should be suitable. If a trivia section is entirely one line quotes from movies, manga, and books, then it may be entirely unsuitable.