User talk:Hank Ramsey
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Greetings. You have reached my User Talk page. This introductory section has some stuff that may be useful for you to know about me, and what I write here.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to read at least the first part of this introduction. (You're doing good so far.) The coherence of the prose will rapidly deteriorate, and you'll know when it's time to move on.
Very important: Please make edits only in the "Your Comments" section, or in a new section of your own creation, when appropriate. If you do create a new section, please try to give it a meaningful name, so we'll both be able to remember what the hell it was about, at least until next week. Please don't mess with the other sections, if you can possibly avoid it. That's my stuff. Not that I don't want your construction criticisms.
Also very important: Please excuse any intemperate language I may use here. I intend it only for humorous effect. Do not take offense, especially if you're not sure it's really directed at you. Maybe it isn't. Assume that as the default. Even if you're sure it is directed at you, please still don't take offense. I'm just trying to be funny. I really do respect everybody here, including you. I don't really think you're stupid, or venal, or any of those other things I may say or imply. Misguided, maybe. Not those other things. Besides, what I'm reacting to is your on-line persona, anyhow, not the real you. I'm sure in real life you're a wonderful person. Me, too. At least that's what everyone tells me. But enough false modesty. I do try carefully to avoid intemperate language elsewhere. Sometimes, I may slip up. If you're here because you think I've slandered you elsewhere, please forgive me. I'm sure I was just joking. Well, okay, maybe not. Sometimes I do lose my cool. If so, I apologize. But still feel free to add a complaint here if you think I've been unfair or impolite.
Eventually I may get around to adding a list here of people to whom the above statment does not apply. If you are on the list, then whatever I said, I meant every word of it. Jack. In fact, I was probably so angry at you I couldn't think of the insulting language I really wanted to use. So assume the worst. Think of the very worst thing you think I could have said about you, and consider it said. And that goes double. You idiot. And I could care less what you think, so don't post any complaints or comments here, cause I won't read 'em. Got that? You imbecile. But, again, please be sure it's really you on the list. Otherwise, the above statement still applies.
If you find any typos or spelling errors in any of my stuff, please be sure to let me know by leaving a message here. WAIT! STOP! DO NOT DO THIS! I AM ONLY JOKING! You knew that, right? I knew you did. I don't think you're stupid (see above). But remember, that one was easy. Other times it's gonna be harder for you to tell. I joke a lot. So it may sound like I'm being serious when really I'm not. In fact, the more serious I sound, the less serious I'm likely to be. Actually, I'm hardly ever serious. Life it too short for that, you know.
Warning: Most of the stuff on this page is really, really boring. You've probably noticed that already. But it's not just this introductory stuff, it's all the rest, too. To tell the truth, even I find most of it boring. I think at one time I actually thought everything I put here was really interesting, but now I just don't know. Plus, I used to think a lot of it was really funny. Now it just seems... sad. Pitiable. Even... pathetic. Yet you're still reading. Why do you suppose that is?
You may have noticed that my user name is actually my real name. It's not some really neat nickname that makes me seem mysterious or formidable. It's really lame, but too late to change. If you try to find me in real life by searching on this name, be warned that I have a lot of cousins with the very same name. Really. Please don't annoy them by mistake. Come to think of it, could be that this is not my real name at all. Suppose I just made it look like a real name. It's someone's real name, just not my real name. You'll never know, will you? So please don't try to look me up with this fake name and annoy some complete stranger. So maybe my real name actually makes me seem mysterious and formidable. Huh, that would be cool!
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with anything. I can't answer that. But I do know this: by reading this far you have learned something deeply troubling about me. And also about yourself. Exactly what, I'm not sure. But something. Something deep. Something troubling. Something deeply troubling. Perhaps we both just have way too mch time on our hands. That might be it.
Does any of this make sense? (Hey, it's late.) I need to stop this before you decide I'm crazy... (No, I need to stop this before I really DO go crazy.)
By the way, I've had trouble logging in lately, so I've been editing with an anonymous ip id. I'm not even sure if the ip is constant or not. I know, I need to fix this. But actually, I kind of like using an anonymous ip id. It makes me seem mysterious and formidable. Sort of like a secret agent, maybe. You know, "They've given you a numbah, and taken waaaay your name." Dum-dee-doo-dee-doo-dee, dum-dee-doo-dee-doo-dee, etc. Anyway, here's the Talk page for one of my ip ids: User_talk:184.108.40.206, if it's of any use to you. I can't imagine what that would be, but yah nevah know.
Here is some really, really old stuff. I should probably just delete it.
Pretty good article on the Solar system. I'll check it with care :) AstroNomer
MtG: It's not only the missing 'US' but also the notion that the US is somehow more worth mentioning than other countries. I bet there are dozens of countries with MtG Championships. --Yooden
Re MtG: I don't know anything about whether there are national championships outside the U.S. I do know that the original author did mentioned the (presumed U.S.) national championship. I do not believe this was because the author thought the U.S. was "more worth metioning than other countires", but rather because the author was not well-informed about championships in other countries. If there are indeed national championships in other countries, they should be mentioned, either individually or collectively. Actually, it is quite possible that the original text may have been intended as a collective reference to national championships in many countries. It was your assumption that it was a reference to a U.S. championship which I followed in adding the clarification. - Hank Ramsey
- I rarely hear a Merkin talking about 'Nation' and meaning something else. Maybe I am wrong in this case.
- You don't have to be informed. If would have written it, I would not have mentioned only the Germna Championship. It just doesn't make sense in an international forum.
Actually, Americans use the term "nation" often in reference to other countries and to countries in general. When the term is used in reference to the U.S., either a definite article ("the nation") or a possessive pronoun ("our nation") is generally used.
Also, I think it is entirely appropriate for Wikipedia to include information that refers to specific countries or regions, including (but of course not limited to) the U.S.
The current solution seems to be just fine, thanks Gareth.
Edit War Veterans for Truth
I think editors not only have an obligation to be fair to other editors, they have an obligation to be fair to the subject. A wiki is a collaboration, not a competition. Of course everyone has a POV, but they don't have to inject it into the article. It takes effort to avoid that, but it can be done. I believe a group of editors can create a neutral article, even if they have strong opposing POVs. But even one uncooperative editor can effectively obstruct the process. The wiki paradigm just doesn't deal very well with this problem. And my impression is that the arbitration process doesn't help much. I suspect the only effective solution is to allow multiple versions of articles on controversial subjects. Not with the idea that they would be intended to present multiple POVs, but rather that they would be competing efforts to produce a single NPOV article. The readers could then judge which version meets their needs. Some would probably prefer an article heavily biased to their own POV. But editors wanting to create a NPOV article would have an opportunity to do so, and readers looking to find one would be the judges of their success. Eventually those with less success achieving NPOV would wither, I suspect. In the current scenario, there is only one article, which leads to a struggle for control. Not that the failure to achieve NPOV is necessarily deliberate, you understand. It's just that people (on all sides) ofter have diffculty seeing (much less overcoming) their biases.
What I'm really concerned about here are not edits so much as tactics, specifically reverts. Reverts are bad because successive reverts produce unproductive edit wars. Its much better to make corrective edits (as judiciously as possible) rather than reverts. There's at least a possibility that a process of successive corrective edits will converge. One of our current editors seems to make a practice of reverting all but trivial changes, not because of specific objections, but because of a general principle that the existing text is somehow a sacrosanct "consensus", and any changes (other than his own) must be pre-screened on the Talk page. This just doesn't seem reasonable to me.
I also do have problems with some of the objections being made. If you object to something contributed by an editor from another POV that you disagree with, it's generally more helpful to edit or add new material to balance it, rather than just doing a revert. Sometimes it will be possible to combine the two contributions into a balanced expression. In other cases, it is simply better to include both points. But just blocking contributors with other POVs by doing reverts is unproductive, and inevitably produces annoyance.
...go here. Or start a new section if appropriate.
I tried to help out with the SBVT article. They had huge POV problems. They really needed my help. They obviously didn't want it. It didn't take me long to conclude that trying to work with them was a TOTAL waste of my time. To be fair, it was a big waste of their time, too. But that didn't seem to be an issue for them.
Here's my farewell message on the SBVT Talk page (slightly edited for clarity), which pretty much sums it up:
- Note: The following is not so much intended as a criticism of others, or a justifcation of my own actions, as an explanation of my perceptions and reactions. It describes how I honestly, if erroneously, viewed things at the time, and view the situation now. It explains where I'm coming from and why I'm going. It is not intended to give offense to anyone, and if it does, I apologize.
Wolfman et al., I'll try to be brief. I came to this wikipedia page thinking it might be a good place to centralize and organize the essential information about the SBVT controversy, on both sides. A wiki is a good medium for tracking current events (at least in theory) because it allows information from multiple sources to be assimilated quickly. I knew there might be issues with edit warfare, but I hoped for the best. Looking at the SBVT article, it was immediately obvious that the section on the allegations regarding Kerry's 1st Purple Heart needed work. It was completely inadequate, mainly because it did not sufficiently address the eyewitness testimony of William Schachte. This wasn't really a surprise. The existing write-up had probably been written before the Schachte interview had come out. It had appeared only a few days earlier, and had been largely buried by the mainstream media. I guessed the editors might be unaware of it. Anyway, there was clearly work to be done. I wrote up some stuff and put it in. It was immediately reverted. I was told that my edit was "too big" (even though I was just getting started), and should be moved to a sandbox for discussion. I did that. Then I was told it was too big for discussion and needed to be broken down into smaller chuncks. I did that. Finally there were objections to the factual content of my additions, as being "minor details" or "irrelevant" or "superfluous". There were also innumerable challenges to content that seemed argumentative to me, and clearly from an anti-SBVT POV. Since at this point I was only addressing what the SVBT was alleging, and making clear this was just their side of the story, I was a little surprised by all the resistance I was getting.
Around this time I tried a fairly small edit, and it was also reverted immediately. Now I was told that, since there was a "consensus" among the editors about the existing text, any significant edits needed pre-approval on the Talk page (although some other editors seemed to feel free to make their own edits without prior discussion). Meanwhile I tried to work through the objections. The resistance was fierce. Much of it seemed to me to have the effect, if not intent, of trying to exclude inconvenient facts. Even though I was basically just trying to report a summary of who Schachte was and what he had said, there seemed to be an extreme concern about excluding or rebutting facts that might remotely give any kind of credibility to the SBVT allegations. Understand that I have no problem with other editors making additions to adequately represent the other side. I would try to do it myself if they didn't, in order to achieve a balanced NPOV presentation. But it seemed to me that the resistance from the other editors was effectively preventing the SBVT allegations and evidence from being treated in any adequate way. Meanwhile, as I'm trying to slog through all the objections they're throwing up, I find the other editors off putting in this ridiculous speculation from Zaladonis about why Schachte might be mixed up about the dates. Somehow their edits seem to require no prior approval. And funny thing, they all seem to support the same POV.
From there it was all downhill. It became clear to me that the process was going nowhere. One of the editors had made it clear he intended to exercise a veto over any additions he didn't agree with. As I had seen him in action, I didn't doubt it. And I knew he wasn't going to agree to anything. I was clearly wasting my time. There was absolutely no point in continuing. Take a look at the section on the 1st Purple Heart issue. Totally inadequate, and obviously anti-SBVT POV. Too bad. Not surprising, given wiki vulnerability to edit warriors, but disappointing.
Early on there was this edit war over the NPOV tag. I wasn't involved, just an incredulous bystander. I couldn't believe what was going on. Eventually one side won (guess who). But keepng the tag out doesn't change the fact that the article lacks NPOV. And it's so obvious that the tag is hardly necessary. You're fooling no one but yourself.
I seem to be repeating myself. And obviously I have failed to be brief. Why am I wasting more time on this? Lord knows. But I feel compelled to add a discussion of this thing about my refusing to supply evidence. Here's how I remember it:
I had proposed an introductory paragraph for the 1st PH section. It briefly introduced the award and the thrice wounded reassignment that depended on it, followed by a summary of the allegations made by the SBVT. In response I got a bunch of objections from one editor. The 3 wound thing wasn't "relevant", etc. Then there were this series of questions challenging my summary of the allegations, leading to demands for evidence. At first I was confused, thinking he wanted proof of the allegations. I tried to explain that this was just a summary of what the allegations were. The evidence, on both sides, would be presented in later paragraphs. Eventually I realized that he was questioning whether these were actually the allegations.
This just floored me. I believed that I had given a simple, straight-forward summary of the SBVT allegations on this issue, which would be immediately recognized and accepted by anyone, on either side of the issue, who had even the most basic understanding of the controversy. I couldn't believe this editor lacked such understanding. I asked if he really believed I was misrepresenting the SBVT allegations. He said he didn't know one way or the other. Again, I found this unbelievable. Here is this guy, aggressively asserting editorial control over an article on a subject about which he is self-admittedly ignorant of the most basic facts. I still find this very hard to believe, although I'm finally starting to think it might be possible. At the time I thought it just couldn't be true. Still, I did in fact respond to the request for evidence. I said: Read O'Neill's book. I guess I could have given him a link to amazon.com. In fact, I was pretty sure I could easily have found him some on-line links, to excerpts from the book at the Washington Times, interviews with O'Neill, etc.
Yes, I could easily have found those links. But so could he! With Google I did not doubt that he could have found those links in less time than it took him to ask me for them. So my just reading his demand, let alone complying with it, was a waste of my time. I know I'm making an assumption here, but I'm pretty sure he could have found those links for himself at least as quickly as I could have found them for him. I was just not prepared to waste more of my time to do that. Granted, it wouldn't have been a lot of time. But, you know, it adds up. It had already added up a lot. And I was convinced that this was just one more obstacle that he would be creating in an unending stream. After this there would be another, and another, and another. I asked if anyone else doubted that I had accurately summarized the allegations. I thought if no one backed him up, he might back off. No such luck. So I abandoned attempting to make progress on the introduction, and moved on to the section about Schachte and his account, as already described. I thought that would be easy. We were dealing with simple facts, all documented in Schachte's MSNBC interview. How hard could it be to get agreement? Well, you know the rest.
So, finis. 220.127.116.11 04:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Not surprisingly, Wolfman felt he had to respond:
I had a very simple reason for asking. SBVT has been intentionally vague. That's the essence of a smear. Throw loose, unspecific charges around with a hefty dose of innuendo. For example, look at the first ad. Out of the 15 statements made, only 2 could possibly be refuted. Because the others had no specific content: things like 'you couldn't count on John Kerry'. Well, this article is not going to play that game. Fine, let's report the allegations, but what are they exactly? Get it on record for this article. That way, I can gather evidence as to a specific allegation. How can we even talk about something like "a falsified report" until you tell me which report, filed where, and what it supposedly said. If you can't show me that, ok then. Let's still report the general charge, to which we can the report that it can't possibly be rebutted because no specific allegation was made. See for example how we handled Letson's lie allegation. We simply stated he did not say what the supposed lie is. Is that so hard? Is that too much to ask? Is that being obstructionist? Well then, I guess I'm just an obstructionist. Wolfman 06:56, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Also, I find it sad that you would rather spend an hour writing some detailed sob story about how oppressed you are than spend 5 minutes just documenting the wording you wanted to insert. I have looked back over this entire lengthy conversation, thinking that perhaps I had been out of line. But no, I stand by every comment I made and stance I took. Fare thee well anon ip.Wolfman 07:11, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
FOLLOWING REPLY IS A DRAFT IN PROGRESS:
Wolfman, I am not surprised that you "stand by every comment [you] made and stance [you] took". I have no doubt that you do. I don't expect anyone else to waste their time reviewing your behaviour, but I am confident that any reasonable person who did so would readily understand my frustration. You think I wrote "some detailed sob story about how oppressed [I am]". Again you've missed my point. My issue is not "oppression". My issue is the prevention of improvement of the wikipedia article. This is not about me. It's not about you. (Ok, maybe it is about you, partly.) But it's mainly about the quality of the article. This is supposed to be acolaboration, not a competition. You just don't seem to get that.
You claim that SBVT has been "intentionally vague", which is "the essence of a smear", referring to their first ad. That was a 30-second television spot. It referrred not only to the 1st Purple Heart incident but to many other SBVT allegations as well. It could not possibly have provided adequate detail in the little amout of time available. Which is why they also produced a full-length book to explain their charges in detail. They permitted their book to be widely excerpted, and gave numerous media interviews responding to any questions about their allegations. If you had made the slightest effort to educate yourself about the controversy you would not have objected to my summary of the allegations. Or perhaps you would have objected, but you could have done so with specifics that could be responded to.
This account was used by a legitimate Wikipedia editor who contributed before February 2002, and was subsequently taken over by a sockpuppet of the North Carolina Vandal (see the creation log for this account). This was possible because the account was abandoned by its original owner after Wikipedia converted to phase II software (which became [[MediaWiki) in late January 2002. Since the only way for the original user with this name to gain access to this account is by developer intervention, this account should remain indefinitely blocked. I have chosen to preserve the user and user talk pages as they were before the North Carolina Vandal gained access to this account for historical reasons, with a note leading to this talk page section on the user page, and the categories to denote the status of the account. The previous contents of this talk page can be found here. Graham87 08:21, 20 February 2009 (UTC)