User talk:Paolo.dL/Mild refactoring 2

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This is a report about a failed attempt at mildly refactoring this section of Talk:Cross product to enhance its readability.

The main contributor, after posting two outstanding comments about the specific subject of the discussion (cross product history), wanted to add some remarks about the method I used to start the discussion (just asking questions), and some advices about editing and file formats. This, and the replies I was forced to post, hindered the discussion about the history of cross product.

Thus, I proposed a mild refactorization (see below), mainly based on rearrangement of the text, but it was not accepted. Eventually, I divided the section into two parts by adding an header.

The following comments were partly posted on User talk:KSmrq, and partly on my user talk page. Paolo.dL 14:24, 1 August 2007 (UTC)


Did Joseph Louis Lagrange know the cross product before it was invented?

Re: "It's fine to ask the questions. Now go dig up sources to answer them." (Final sentence of a comment posted here by KSmrq at 20:52, 26 July 2007 UTC)

I do appreciate your professionality and accuracy. And I really thank you for your outstanding contributions. However, I would like you to consider what follows.

I did not and will not ask you to reply, although I am glad you did it. Similarly, you should not feel entitled to decide who is going to give the final answer to my questions. You know, I do appreciate kind suggestions and smiles, and I am glad to explain the reasons of my behaviour if I am asked politely, but I can hardly stand the imperative mood.

You may ignore this statement, but I hope you will remember it in the future.

Paolo.dL 09:45, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Trying to solve our misunderstanding

[...]

Readability. There's a problem that I perceive as very important. I am concerned about the size of the section, and I would like to keep it syntetic and easily readable. I would like my comment Wilson knew Lagrange's formula! and my "enigma" to be in evidence. I am sure you are also curious to know its solution. This is a talk page about cross product, and this section is about a very specific historical topic (see header). I thank you for your advices. Generic advices about editing and file formats are appreciated, they prove how much you care about Wikipedia, they are useful, but definitely do not belong in here. You seem to have experience about scientific writing. Did you ever write an abstract for a scientific congress? This section should be almost like an abstract, if we want it to be attractive for readers and we want to arouse their curiosity about the "enigma" (and we do want, don't we?). It should be very synthetic and short, and should include only very specific messages, very closely related with the header (section title), without digressions. The first comment of yours that I have read was very effective, and was written as well as a scientific abstract. Will you share my desire to make an entire section as effective as your comment, almost as if it were a single "abstract", written by different authors?

Consider how long the section has already become. And it would become ever more cumbersome if I put this explanation there. The main message would be concealed. Further discussion would be hindered. My work would become useless!

Refactoring. Would you mind to allow a refactoring, just as a service for the readers and a favour to me? You may move your advices about quotations and explanations about file format to a separate section, with appropriate header, or to some Wikipedia guideline page, or just delete them if they were only addressed to me (I have read them and will remember them). By the way, I changed my text removing the not needed reference to PDF.

I will try in a minute to suggest a possible refactoring which will avoid my reply about this neverending sequence of misunderstandings between you and me, which are not interesting for others.

"Psychology". You are a smart man, you probably understand that people may get offended when you say they are not champions unless they do exactly what you want. How old are you? I am 45. Your clean writing says that you have a lot of experience, but sometimes you forget that you are neither my teacher nor my coach in this circumstance. Actually, I see you as a teammate. I immodestly believe I am a champion and I have already won the first lap of a realy race by asking interesting questions... :-) You are also a champion who skillfully grabbed my relay and won the second lap. So, I don't need to run the third lap to show I am a champion. Can you understand? Please don't be offended. I am really not interested in proving you are wrong. I only want you to know how your words are perceived by someone who immodestly, but innocuously, enjoys to think of himself as a champion.

Advices are always appreciated. Also, please do not misinterpret what I wrote above. It is perfectly legitimate to give advices, and I am not rejecting them at all. They are useful advices. The only problem is that they just do not belong in a synthetic section which is presenting a particular problem about a particular topic. The section became lengthy, the discussion became too personal, and this is going to discourage readers, not interested in our fencing. Both generic and specific advices are welcome, but, if possible, please give them in user talk pages, or separate sections or subsections, or articles on guidelines, or talk pages about guidelines...

Paolo.dL 22:23, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Suggestion for refactorization

Please read with attention the previous subsection before examining this suggestion. Otherwise, you will not understand the rationale.

NOTE: the phrase I inserted in the next paragraph is in bold, but I will not keep it bold in the final version

Did Joseph Louis Lagrange know the cross product before it was invented?

NOTE: This section has been refactored by rearranging it and dividing it into two sections. The original text has been archived here

[... The omitted part will be left untouched ...]

Unfinished job. Thank you. If I could find books about the history of mathematics, of course I would dig up and answer. This is impossible for me right now. Please notice that I am not a mathematician: I give answers on articles in my field. In this case, I can only offer well posed questions. However, a well posed and relevant question is as precious as a correct answer. I started a job as well as I could, you offered an outstanding contribution, somebody else will possibly finish our job. That's typical on Wikipedia. Is there anybody who is willing to finish the job we started? Paolo.dL 09:31, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I did not say finding sources was easy. However, You will notice that I have provided online sources, which you or anyone else can discover and read. If you were connected with Yale University, where Gibbs taught, you would have access to material not available to most editors. If you were in Dublin, you could turn up physical copies of Hamilton's work. That would be great, and perhaps make the detective work easier. But a great deal is possible without such special access, as I have shown.
For example, you could easily have learned for yourself how quaternions were invented, rather than ask. Or you could try to learn about how the name of Lagrange became associated with the triple cross product identity, and report back on what you were able to discover.
Wikipedia has no staff to get things done; we, the editors, must do everything. Questions and problems we have in abundance; what we seek are answers and solutions, and champions to produce them. You started down the right path when you undertook to begin a History section. To be a true champion, you must now do the hard work to complete the task — if you feel that your questions are worth answering. --KSmrqT 17:17, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Free to contribute. As I already tried to explain on your user talk page about 9 hours ago, it is not up to you to decide what I must do. Your use of the imperative mood (at the end of your 26 July comment) and of the modal verb "must" (in your latest comment) is unpolite and shows that you mistakenly assume to be entitled to impose rather than suggest. If you like, please answer on your user talk page, that I included in my watchlist. This kind of discussion does not belong here. Paolo.dL 18:50, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Well started job. Notice that without my job the history section would not exist in this article. You wrote it, but without my contribution, you wouldn't have given yours and the history section wouldn't be there. You answered some of my questions because I aroused your curiosity or interest and you felt they were worth answering. Some other mathematician may be able to solve the last enigma, if she/he feels it's worth attention (see below). Otherwise, it will remain unsolved. Paolo.dL 10:07, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Wilson knew Lagrange's formula! I just discovered that the entire book by Wilson (Gibbs's student) is published on line here. I thought it was only a reproduction of the cover and index. Thanks to KSmrq for sharing the link. As you can read at page 74, Wilson (and most likely Gibbs as well) knew "Lagrange's formula", but did not attribute it to Lagrange. A search in the PDF file showed that the name of Lagrange is never used in that book. In the preface, Wilson gave credit only to Gibbs, Hamilton, Föpps and Heaviside, and wrote that he only rearranged their material: "The material thus obtained has been arranged in the way which seems best suited to easy mastery of the subject." Is there anybody who can solve the enigma and explain the reason why the triple product expansion is called Lagrange's formula (at least on Wikipedia and PlanetMath)? Paolo.dL 20:55, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

The peculiar nature of your responses suggests we are having communication difficulties.
  1. My use of "must" was conditional, not imperative. I never stated nor implied, in any common understanding of the English language, that you are compelled to answer your questions; I only said that Wikipedia needs champions to get the hard work done.
  2. I could hardly have been more explicit in giving you credit when I said "You started down the right path…"; the fact that my words lay dormant on the talk page for so long before they were added to the article underlines my point that our great need is for those who are willing to do the work of researching and editing.
  3. Perhaps you do not have a DjVu plugin installed with your browser, and clearly the standard practice of the archive is unfamiliar to you; but on the left side of the item page is a listing of four different formats (DjVu, PDF, TXT, Flip book) and an FTP page, as well as a link to "Help reading texts". The DjVu version is 14 the file size of the PDF, and is the preferred form. You must have a reader, either standalone or plugin, to view this format, just as you must have a reader (or Mac OS X) to view a PDF.
Thanks to Paolo for initial efforts to track down the Lagrange connection. For the benefit of mathematics editors, we have compiled a list of mathematics reference resources. The amount of source material freely available on the web today is remarkable; please take advantage of it. (My apologies; I should have thought to mention this earlier.) Those who have never done so may wish to discover for themselves the joy of reading original sources. Yes, it can be difficult to find them, and challenging to interpret old language in modern terms; but I often find it illuminating and humbling and inspiring to see the ideas presented in the words of the masters.
A word of caution: PlanetMath and especially MathWorld are not always reliable, as we have found to our chagrin. Use them as places to start, not as the last word on a topic. Moreover, in citing any secondary source, it is dangerous to repeat claims without viewing the original source. For example, suppose Paolo writes that a certain fact may be found on page 74 of Wilson; scholarly practice allows me to repeat that claim attributing it to Paolo, but not otherwise unless I have verified it for myself in Wilson. Why? Because Paolo may have had a bias, or copied the claim from elsewhere, or misread it, or used a different edition, or stated it correctly in his notes and copied it wrong, or had an error introduced at the printer, and so on. A startling number of oft-repeated "facts" turn out to be unsubstantiated. So be careful. But have fun. :-) --KSmrqT 17:09, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

We prefer answers rather than questions

NOTE: This section is a summary of some comments which originally appeared in the previous section. The original text has been archived here

I would like to give some general advices about editing. In the previous section, Paolo.dL started on the right path. My words lay dormant on the talk page for a long time before they were added to the article by Paolo. I appreciate that and I thank him. However, he could easily have learned for himself how quaternions were invented, rather than ask. Or could have tried to learn about how the name of Lagrange became associated with the triple cross product identity, and report back on what he was able to discover. Wikipedia has no staff to get things done; we, the editors, must do everything. Questions and problems we have in abundance; what we seek are answers and solutions, and champions to produce them. To be a true champion, Paolo.dL must now do the hard work to complete the task - if he feels that his questions are worth answering --KSmrqT 17:17, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Relay race example. You wrote that Wikipedia needs campions who give answers. I immodestly believe that I am a champion and that I have already won the first lap of a relay race by asking interesting questions... :-) And I believe you are the champion who skillfully grabbed my relay and won the second lap. So, I don't need to run the final lap to show I am a champion. I hope we will win the race as a team. Paolo.dL 10:45, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
User feedback. Typically, people should do what KSmrq suggests. However, please consider that in a community of editors, sometimes someone becomes just a reader who asks questions. This happened to me several times while I was reading math articles, because I am not a mathematician, but I can see inconsistencies. And I believe that well posed questions are of great help. They are extremely desirable, they are much better than no feddback whatsoever. In some cases I have just two options: no feedback or just asking questions. Those who read my questions are free to ignore them, but some may find them very useful as a guide to make their job better. "User feedback" is appreciated in many circumstances, for instance in computer programming. When I write, I love receiving feedback from the readers.
Team work. I agree that generally, if possible, answers should be provided rather than just questions. And actually I do contribute with answers elsewhere. However, in this specific case I couldn't, and I don't think I should have. I am not a mathematician. If some mathematician will read my questions and will happen to know the answer (as you partially did), that will save me a lot of time, which I will be able to spend editing elsewhere, and answering questions which I can easily and authoritatively answer. This is a much more efficient way to work than that you suggested. A non-mathematician trying to study mathematics from original sources, in a community containing many expert mathematicians, is a "waste of time and talent". Wikipedia is a community of people working together and helping each other. Imagine you lead a team of researchers, one of which is mathematician, and you ask to another, who is not a mathematician, to solve a complex equation that the mathematician can solve in a few seconds. That's not an efficient way to manage team work. The "relay race method" worked very well in this particular case: you answered some of my questions because I aroused your curiosity or interest and you felt they were worth answering. Some other mathematician may be able to easily solve the last enigma, if she/he feels it's worth attention. Otherwise, it will remain unsolved. Paolo.dL 10:07, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

On line sources about mathematics and citation guidelines

NOTE: This section is a summary of some comments which originally appeared in another section. The original text has been archived here

Original sources available on line. For the benefit of mathematics editors, we have compiled a list of mathematics reference resources. The amount of source material freely available on the web today is remarkable; please take advantage of it. (My apologies; I should have thought to mention this earlier.) Those who have never done so may wish to discover for themselves the joy of reading original sources. Yes, it can be difficult to find them, and challenging to interpret old language in modern terms; but I often find it illuminating and humbling and inspiring to see the ideas presented in the words of the masters.

DjVu file format vs PDF. On the left side of the item page is a listing of four different formats (DjVu, PDF, TXT, Flip book) and an FTP page, as well as a link to "Help reading texts". The DjVu version is 14 the file size of the PDF, and is the preferred form. You must have a reader, either standalone or plugin, to view this format, just as you must have a reader (or Mac OS X) to view a PDF.

Citing secondary sources. In citing any secondary source, it is dangerous to repeat claims without viewing the original source. For example, suppose Paolo writes that a certain fact may be found on page 74 of Wilson; scholarly practice allows me to repeat that claim attributing it to Paolo, but not otherwise unless I have verified it for myself in Wilson. Why? Because Paolo may have had a bias, or copied the claim from elsewhere, or misread it, or used a different edition, or stated it correctly in his notes and copied it wrong, or had an error introduced at the printer, and so on. A startling number of oft-repeated "facts" turn out to be unsubstantiated. So be careful. But have fun. :-)

A word of caution. PlanetMath and especially MathWorld are not always reliable, as we have found to our chagrin. Use them as places to start, not as the last word on a topic. --KSmrqT 17:09, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Thank you very much. The on line sources are fascinating, there's even an archive containing the collected works of Leonhard Euler! Paolo.dL 12:59, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Discussion and counter-proposals

How do you like it? If you authorize me, I will archive the original version, and refactor the talk page as suggested. The last two sections may be also published (moved or copied) elsewhere, if you like. You can also answer to my comment in the second section, if you like.

Before answering, please consider that the whole text has become not only better structured and clearer, but also much shorter, because I could delete many of my sentences. At the same time, everything you wrote has been kept intact (although in some cases it has been very mildly and conservatively rearranged). Every word you wrote, every concept you expressed, is still there. I only removed the words "I didn't say it was easy" (because after I rearranged my previous phrase they became not necessary).

Please let me know as soon as possible. Paolo.dL 10:40, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

As you can see, I have taken a different approach on the talk page. I do not wish my signature to appear on anything other than my exact words in the context in which they appeared. But feel free to add a new section summarizing as much or as little as you wish, with your signature. Since the full discussion is instantly available, I'd suggest just asking the essential question(s) with the link to the reference resources page. --KSmrqT 17:54, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Isn't there the possibility to find some friendship in Wikipedia editors? Wasn't I able to solve our misunderstanding and gain your friendship? I start feeling not welcome. What you suggest would require much more work. I really can't understand what is the difference anyway. I would quote your words with "..." and at the end of the comment I would write "(from KSmrq, xx:xx, xx July 2007 UTC)" As I wrote below (did you read the last row?) your text was kept almost exactly the same, and I deleted much of my text. Would you mind to just change your mind and authorize the careful refactoring suggested below? Help me not to lose other time in this discussion? Paolo.dL 18:23, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Anyway, there's no reason to archive until the summary is ready. I undid your archiviation. I am waiting your final answer. I'll do as you suggest if I don't receive your answer in one day. Paolo.dL 18:51, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Please stop adding massive amounts of text to my talk page. I have already told you my decision, and I am not interested in seeing any more proposed "refactorings". I'm sure you mean well, but this is really annoying.
I also see that you have reverted my decision to collapse the section of Talk:cross product where we had our discussion. That's up to you, but I thought you were objecting to its length. If you think to "refactor" it, overwriting the original, please do not. I will be obliged to revert, because I feel very strongly about having my words or their context changed.
"Summarize" all you like, but do so in a new section, and without my signature. Thanks. (Please reply here if you must reply.) --KSmrqT 19:02, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
PS: If you need help, ask on the cross product talk page; I will see it. --KSmrqT 19:05, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Final decision

Have you seen my job? Your words are still perfectly in their context. As you asked, I did neither overwrite, nor move, nor delete any part of the original text. I didn't do anything else except:

  1. inserting a neutral and appropriate section title (You can edit it if you don't like it), and
  2. copying (not moving) above the header a paragraph that I wrote.

I also added, at the end of everything, some new paragraph which I copied from the text I wrote on your user talk page. Paolo.dL 23:41, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Inappropriate suggestions

"Signatures" are not needed/not important, as an annoying bot likes to sign all talk pages 4 times after you have already signed it yourself. Putting a link about signatures into this bot's message makes no sense, since not only is the purpose of the message not to say anything to the commenter but rather to everyone else who is reading the comment, but even with this obviousness there is another reason why this makes no sense, because the bot also leaves an extremely annoying message on your front page every single time. Although I do notice as writing this that the current message at the bottom of the edit box does not actually tell you how to use a signature, it merely says "Sign your posts" with no explanation, although of course signing the posts is not important at all as discussed. MrMatthews is clearly an asshole, but anyone can see that by reading any one of his comments. He most definitely should never be allowed to be an administrator or other such person on any site, especially this one where they apparently like to block people often (according to these postings and some other things that are written in places). However, suggesting that an entire IP be banned etc. is not a very good thing to do at all; i.e., people suggesting such are also acting as bad in the case of when they suggest it. It is NOT OKAY to ban an entire IP just because they do not like you, and suggesting such a thing is ridiculous. This refers to creating accounts and such. Most of your very, very lengthy writings are not about the fact that MrMatthews is an asshole, but rather about suggesting that Wikipedia be mean to all new account users by disabling the ability for them to create an account. Instead, if someone sees that someone from IP -X just created an account and then did something, they can tell them about it, but NEVER, EVER okay to block an IP address from creating an account unless you know for SURE that it is used by one and exactly one only human being, and in that case it should always expire, no matter what it is, after a maximum of 30 days since the IP may be changed by then, as well as always without exception providing a way for anyone without an account no matter what has been done to that IP, to send messages and comment in places where they can tell who they are or where the IP is from if it is not only exactly one human being, and an ever-present message in the toolbar for any IP address that has had such things done to it, which contains a link to this aforementioned page. It is NOT okay to ban some IP address and then also not allow it to make accounts etc. And it is very, VERY, inappropriate to refer to the correct, intended, and well-working functioning as a "bug". Which you not only do once, but repeatedly. This is wrong and inappropriate. Please note, as you have already noted if you are reading anything on this page prior to this comment, that MrMatthews the administrator is 100% in every way possible wrong on this argument, and should not be an administrator anywhere. This comment is in full support of the user regarding the argument. However, the suggestion or proposal which the user makes is wrong.                     ~Rayvn  21:01, 11 May 2015 (UTC)