User talk:172/Talk bloc 5

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172 youre not really going are you, most of what you've written has been of excelent quality, we need more people with historical expertise around here. G-Man 11th apr 2003

I've just been able to access my talk page - this server is doing my nut tonight. Safari times out after 60 seconds so I end up trying and trying and trying . . . Anyway I left a long message on Mav's page explaining why I think he was unfair to you.

But please, do not underestimate the respect so many people have for you here. G-Man above pretty much speaks for a lot of people. I can understand how offended you must be by what Mav said. But don't overestimate the impact of the w-list. When I came here first, I was bombarded with messages calling for your banning. I didn't know anything about you and it coloured by attitude initially. Especially when I did not have the practical knowledge to know who was right or wrong on the New Imperialism page. (My God, for about 7 minutes 33 seconds I actually thought Vera Cruz must be a nice person!) But as soon as I came to work with you, I immediately realised just how good you are, the sort of quality you bring to wiki and I immediately dismissed the stuff on the w-list as nonsense. How many people here have read your stuff, have dealt with you, have on occasion 'sparred' with you? Most of them respect Mav enormously but they know as I do that occasionally he is simply wrong, as we all are on occasion. No-one here is infallible (though at least 10 think they are!!!). People here know your work and when faced with the quality of your work as against an intemperate attack by Mav, they are simply going to conclude either (a) Mav has had an off day, bless him, or (b) 172 has been in a rough edit war. What they are not going to say is "I know all my experiences with 172 have been positive and I admire his work, but if Mav criticises him then 172 must be a gobshite who shouldn't be on wiki."

You are a damn good historian and a superb contributor here. I cannot think of one other person who has made me stop and think about issues in a new light as you have. The very fact that I was involved in that edit war on Communist state is evidence of that. Communism ain't my baby, academically. But you made me think about the issues, made me realise the importance of what was at stake and the importance to push for proper professional encyclopædic standards, not high school scribbing. Wiki needs professional historians, from both left and right, to help guide it and make it a quality outfit. Your work on the Irish potato famine impressed me (and many others) enormously. In trying to push for proper standards in the Communist state debate, we were sharp with people, perhaps too sharp, but you and I know the importance of academic quality in an encyclopædic entry. To be honest, your praise of my work on the Irish Houses of Parliament meant a hell of a lot to me, because I knew it was coming from someone who knows history and can give a professional academic judgment.

So please, 172, do not leave. I need you. Wiki needs you. Mav is a bit worked up at the moment and has said things I suspect he wishes he didn't. But do not think that you have to leave because everyone will believe what Mav said. Those many many people who have worked with you, admired your work and been challenged by it would be horrified if the numbers 172 disappeared from their screen. Wiki has to be built on quality. You are one of those who brings that quality, that depth of analysis to it. Don't abandon wiki to the high school essay writers (many of whom do a good job - one or two a great job). It needs professional historians with a proper academic training. And you are one of those at the top of the class in that area. lol. ÉÍREman

Lord knows I've been wrong enough and in very public ways so that people should not think I am infallible. But my opinion in this case has not changed ; I think you are a good contributor but would not make a good Admin. I may be wrong but that is my assessment. --mav 02:09 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

Since I'm perfecting my Wikiquette, I won't name any names, but one of the users at question for poorly written POV essays probably graduated from high school before many Wikipedians were born! So far a retiree has caused more trouble than any high school student!

Heh heh. I've had an idea. Re your comments on my talk page about America's flat rate internet access (*envy*, though I have moved to a different service supplier who is offering me 120 hours a month for €30 - a fraction of what those bastards at Eircom (or should it be called 'Eircon'?) are charging) you used three words that should shock the Freds of this world. Think of it. That 'arch-communist, dictator-loving' 172 said GOD BLESS AMERICA. Should I ring George W. Bush and tell him the news? *grin* ÉÍREman 02:48 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

I'll tell Fred until you get that new provider! You should take a break until you get off Eirco[n]! That's awful, epecially considering how strong the dollar is against the euro! If it would help, you could email me some postings along with instructions at and I could post them, if that would be a pratical means of spending less time online. 172

172, as per Jimbo's approval, you are a sysop now. Please only use your power for good, and only delete pages that are listed on Wikipedia:Votes for deletion with no objections, or that are clear junk ("ajskdfmaksdmf" and stuff like that). If you delete a page that you consider junk, please paste some of the content into the deletion reason, like so: "junk page - content was: 'HELLO...'". See Wikipedia:Administrators for further info. --Eloquence 15:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

Congrats on becoming a sysop. I am glad to see that you are going to remain on wiki. :-) Actually it may be I that will be leaving wiki, temporarily. My computer has been playing around of late. I have been checking with apple and they think there may be a problem with the harddrive so my computer will have to go in for repairs and be gone for five working days. AAAAAGH! How can I live without my wiki for five days, SEVEN when you consider the weekend. Then it should be back just in time for me to head off down the country to attend my sister's wedding. So it could be ten days before I get back to wiki! TEN WHOLE DAYS. What a frightening thought! Oh well. Needs must. (But can wiki survive without me, I want to know??? :-) ) But it won't be until tomorrow at the earliest so I still have my a night left to do my wiki-ing. lol and great to see you raised to the sysop level! :-) ÉÍREman 19:36 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

Here's an idea: Take a vacation to the Continent (is that what you Islanders call it these days?) and bring your spiffy new digital camera with you. Great Britain is a short hop away and train fares are cheap there, no? Even a road trip around Ireland should be fun. --mav

Trying to fix a database hiccup the previous version, when I attempt to read it, reads:

The database did not find the text of a page that it should have found, named "Communist state,oldid=905713".
This is usually caused by following an outdated diff or history link to a page that has been deleted.
If this is not the case, you may have found a bug in the software. Please report this to an administrator, making note of the URL.

Since Tannin's edit had been marked "self revert", I simply reverted to the last edit by The Cunctator. Reasonable? Martin

I am guilty as charged, Your Worship. Take me away. It woz me wot dun it. Tannin

Hey, I do not have much special knowledge about the industrial revolution -- and I don't have much free time for new research, so I couldn't commit to working on a specific section. But I agree with you that it needs work and appreciate your contacting me. My own knowledge is really limited to some old debates over primitive accumulation, and perhaps some time in the next week or two I could add a section on that... Slrubenstein

I've been busy so I regret not jumping to endorse James Duffy much earlier. In fact, I was under the misapprehension that he was a sysop already until yesterday.

I'm very disappointed and embarrassed for Wikipedia that there would be any opposition to his nomination. There is absolutely no gray area to debate; if he isn't an ideal candidate then nobody is.

It's almost surreal that there would be any opposition. Not to be condescending, but I can't resist a university analogy. While those opposing him on the mailing list are great contributors, many of the contributors to whom he has supposedly been "rude" would be in the same position as college students opposing tenure for a professor who teaches courses that they wouldn't have the prerequisites to be able to take in the first place. While I don't have any specific non-banned contributors in mind (well, maybe in mind, but I'd never state it), I can recall that many who have sparred with him probably wouldn't be qualified to take a course that he'd be capable of offering.

However, I do admit that I actually admire the egalitarianism of Wikipeida. It places non-specialists and specialists on an equal footing, leaving the door open for more suggestive and accessible ways of explaining concepts and a multi-disciplinary approach. However, in the end proper encyclopedic standards must be met. And nobody is more qualified than James Duffy to ensure the quality of articles in his field and well beyond his scopes of expertise. He is a professional historian and researcher, excellent writer, and his dedication to the project is exceptionally commendable.

While his talents as a researcher are well known, I'd like to use this opportunity to comment on another key exceptional talent of his that has too often gone unnoticed. His articles are beautifully written, often suitable for Britannica when he has completed them, such as Irish Houses of Parliament. Not only has he exemplified and demanded precise use of language and terminology mastered by a professional historian of top caliber, bringing a staunch dedication to proper academic standards, his contributions have always been remarkably clear and accessible to the non-specialists. And I certainly fall under the category of lay reader since his core areas are far beyond my scopes of expertise.

His articles are well-beyond readable, but a sheer pleasure to read. They're well-organized, well-laid out, and attractive. In fact, he got into a dispute with Zoe, another dedicated and competent user, over the need for images to give articles a professional, attractive, and accessible presentation.

I even enjoy simply reading his comments on my talk page, the talk pages of any user, and on talk pages for articles. He has the prodigious talent of communicating the most serious points in a very authoritative manner, presenting a thorough, but succinct, level of detail, in a manner that is also very readable and often entertaining. Even When he's attempting to explain formal terminology on a talk page, I'm often entertained or even laughing out loud.

Aside from being an excellent historian, his commitment is noteworthy. He's a perfectionist dedicated to finishing articles in a state far surpassing the dry, dense text of many encyclopedias. In contrast, I'm guilty of writing that could often force a specialist to read a sentence twice. Moreover, I'm often guilty of not finishing articles (I keep a list on my user page; they will be finished before I find away to escape this addiction!). James Duffy, however, is not. Even in stub articles, his work is immaculately written, bringing up all the key points expected in an article of any given size. He deserves praise for dedicating hours of independent research for this site, taking photos, and quite a deal of money (the Irish don't enjoy the flat rate unlimited internet access of we Americans).

I'd like to utilize this opportunity to personally thank him on behalf of myself for writing so many illuminating articles that I've enjoyed. While I could come up with many outstanding examples, I'd recommend that everyone on the mailing list read these articles to get a sense of what I'm saying, and moreover for pleasure.

Responding to some inane charges on the mailing list, I can attest to the fact that he is never rude when a stern reprimand in undeserved, but simply strict when it comes to quality. His presence simply raises standards. He can be abrupt because in real life I'm sure that he never has to deal with the kinds of trolls found haunting Wiki who'd like to make this site a forum for their narcissism or political agendas. James Duffy has only confronted users who mistake either of those two (narcissism or ideological pigheadedness) or a combination of both for expertise. Coming from a professional environment, the insistence by many users to misuse technical terms and throw out improperly placed emotive terms must certainly be maddening. Actually, the vast majority of professional academics whom I know of James Duffy's caliber would be far less tolerant of the work that James Duffy has criticized in the past, which often wouldn't even suffice as high school-level work.

Now does anyone even need to address the charges of "historical revisionism" by Fred Bauder? This charge is so absurd that I'm going to merely state that I'm both dumbfounded and amused. To address this charge and explain how asinine it is would simply be degrading. I doubt that in his entire professional career he has ever been labeled as such in the context in which I'm sure that Fred's using it.

There have been slightly more credible fears, notably from Mav, however, that he'd abuse his position in heat of argument coming. However, those fearing "abuse" have nothing to fear. He's actually quite open to diverging perspectives, never failing to grasp the alternative perspectives that underlie diverging interpretations. I've worked often and he has never squabbled with another contributor for nothing more than dedication to quality and standards. He has never challenged my work because he might have fundamentally disagreed with the perspective that I was trying to add to an article, like the Mugabe article, which I sought to balance since it was unambiguously one-sided.

James Duffy would make an excellent administrator who would set an example that all Wikipedians, including myself, should strive to reach. The opposing his nomination simply mistake his authoritative expertise in research, high standards, and altruistic dedication to the project for irritability, failing to realize that he is only challenging them to improve the quality of their contributions.

Thank you Abe, for what you have written. I am deeply deeply touched by it. To get such praise from a fellow professional historian means an enormous amount to me. For once I am speechless. Thank you so much for your kind words, which genuinely moved me. lol ÉÍREman 00:41 May 15, 2003 (UTC)

Thank you for the nice reply, but I was just stating the obvious. The links that I added say more than I could anyway. 172

Mav has already forwarded your endorsement, Abe, and added his own to it, so no need for me to re-send it. I emailed you the other day myself, but it seems that you are having difficulty with mail right now. If you would like to outline the problems you are having with your email service, well, I'm a hardware man and no software expert, but perhaps I might be able to spot the difficulty and help you get it back up and working. It would be no trouble: either I can spot the problem promptly and tell you how to fix it, or else I won't know what it is and we are no further backward. Cheers -- Tannin

No problem, Abe. Unless I got it mixed up, the really silly and offensive stuff was Fred's, same as usual, and that what Cunc had to say was a great deal milder. You know, I do take a sympathetic view to communisim—at least I try to. I think that's part of my job as a historian: to take a sympathetic view wherever the facts allow it. Equally, I try to take a sympathetic view of capitalism, of the environmental movement, of the anti-environmental movement, and so on. The way I look at it, you can't write good history unless you try to get inside the minds of the people you are writing about. Let me try my hand at an example:

When the European settlers first arrived in Australia, there were essentially two sorts, often regarded as the "innocent" convicts (persucuted by the English establishment and sent to a place that was, in time-to-get-there terms, as far away from home as we are from Mars); and the "evil" soldiers sent to keep them in prison and guard them.

Sympathy for the convicts is to be found everywhere: it's not hard to see the injustice of a starving man being exiled to a strange and hostile land with no hope of returning to his home and family for stealing a handkerchief or a few bread rolls. And fair enough.

But a good historian should also be sympathetic to the soldiers. They too were victims of circumstance, most of them joined the army because it was the only thing they could do to feed themselves. They did not volunteer to go to Australia, they were sent, without the option, and they hads not even stolen so much as a handkerchief.

Or consider the Aboriginal population. They had their land stolen, their culture destroyed, and roughly 90% of them died within a few short decades: mostly from European diseases like measles, chicken pox, and cholera. Some were murdered, some starved to death because they no longer had access to their land, but most died out of sight of and completely unknown to the Europeans who, both unknowing and uncaring, killed them. Sympathy for their ways of viewing things and their culture is entirely appropriate.

But equally we must remember, if we are to tell the tragedy of Australian history properly and fairly, that the European colonists themselves were driven by their own agendas, they had their own settle-or-starve imperative, they had no way of knowing how wonderful a people they were destroying, nor even in most cases that they were destroying an entire people. They did incalculable harm. On a per-head-of-population basis they killed more Aboriginies than Stalin killed Ukranians or Hitler killed Jews. But - and here is the key question - would you or I have done any better in their shoes? What would I have done if I had nothing but a rifle, a bag of flour, and an axe, and a family to feed? Which would I have judged more important? Those strange black-skinned creatures that my education and culture did not even equip me to recognise as fully human? Or my own wife and children? In all likelihood, If chance had placed me in that situation - or you, or any of us here - I should have committed those same dreadful crimes.

I do not need to judge "good" men and "bad" men: the facts speak for themselves. I don't have to say "Hitler was evil": if I have written my history so badly that the reader cannot see this for herself, then it's time I gave it up and tried my hand at writing chemistry or colouring books.

I don't think you can write good history without being sympathetic. Hell, I try to find a way to take a sympathetic view of Hitler. I have not managed to do so, and I probably never will, but as an honest historian it is my duty to try my best.

Is this to ignore the crimes of history? Hell no! It is to, so far as possible, understand them. For if we cannot understand them we are doomed to repeat them over and over until we do. Tannin

Regarding your response, Abe, quite so. Forgive me, I did not mean to write a lecture! The topic of "how do we write history" came up (at least by impliction), I had half an hour to fill in before my Thursday night cricket match, and I was just thinking aloud, I'm afraid. Tannin

You wrote: "It stemmed from reading his letter charging that I invited my Communist comrades to the Industrial Revolution page." I have never called you a Communist. I wrote: (on Talk:Communist state)

Stan's mention of what he perceived to be a pro-communist bias (by omission) isn't "silly". 172 has asserted that "the near-elimination of poverty and the doubling of life expectancy...were undoubtedly witnessed in the two largest Communist states, China and the Soviet Union." (Talk:Communist government). (I don't understand why, if he believes it was undoubtedly witnessed, that he doesn't want it included in Wikipedia.) I guess Mervyn Matthews must be a right-wing nutjob and UNDP China a waste of everyone's time and money.

Did I misinterpret what you said? I still don't understand why if you believe that to be true you wouldn't include in Wikipedia, as long as you have some references. If what I wrote implies that I think you're a Communist, then I apologize. You might want to look at what you've said about me and the tone you've taken.

On another topic: I do honestly believe that factionalization is a dangerous thing, and the invitation of particular people to edit an entry is something that could in the future become a large problem if it becomes a standard of behavior. It's interesting to try to think of ways for that not to be an issue. Actually, I think I know the answer (atomization), but I doubt I could convince enough other people that it's a crucial concept. --The Cunctator

Thank you for that specific and reasoned response. It's too bad you didn't do that earlier. To keep this brief, I'll just say two things:

  1. That information should be in Wikipedia
  2. Some of the statements there are open to debate. For example, there are plenty of experts on Soviet/Communist history who believe that the militarism is an inherent characteristic of the state structure. Also, your definition of poverty is not exactly the one that everyone else uses, etc. Thus--you should have put your reasoning into the article to edit/critique Fred's contributions, and worked with him and everyone else to come to a common understanding. --The Cunctator

What? I wrote that response to explain why these "characteristics" are sweeping generalizations. I wrote all this to explain why it wouldn't belong in the article just as Fred's content wouldn't belong in the article. You're misunderstanding the point once again. 172

I'm going to be away from my computer for about three weeks, continuing this sustained period of activity. I look forward to a blitz of new articles within a month!

Please take a look at History of China. A new user has destroyed much of your brilliant prose and has reverted attempts to copyedit and fix his less than competent prose. --mav 05:53 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Thanks mate for the msg. I may be disappearing too for a while. My lecturing contract is up (or rather was up as of last Friday). because of government cutbacks the post has along with a number of others being abolished so I am currently between jobs. Heigh-ho! lol. FearÉIREANN 06:42 8 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I'm back. I hope to start working on the Industrial Revolution article soon. 172

Thanks for the offer on History of Africa, but I am trying to reduce dramatically my wikiparticipation. JHK will soon cease to exist here as anything but a memory ;-) JHK

Hello there 172, where have you been?. Nice to see you back again G-Man 17:25 2 Jul 2003 (UTC)