User talk:Raymond arritt/Expert withdrawal

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One important choice to be made[edit]

This is interesting stuff. I believe there's an important choice we need to make, so I'm sticking it here on the talk page for now. Our wiki ideal of "anyone can edit" makes it much harder to maintain good quality articles on controversial topics. I'd personally like to see us place higher important on quality than instant editability. A great many of the articles that are the difficult ones are already mature and in good shape. There's no particular need for lots of frequent editing, and when we have lots of editing, they need lots of babysitting. Why not leave these articles protected as a general rule, and make people discuss changes first? People may object that such a practice runs afoul of a foundation principle, but it would make things easier, would it not? I personally care way more about having accurate content free of kookery, than I do about whether some random 12 year old can edit the page. Friday (talk) 15:57, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't disagree with you. What ever happened to the idea of allowing 'proven' editors to tag good versions, which would be the default display? Somehow, that seems to have died away. I was just reading this - Speculations regarding German Wikipedia- which makes some interesting points on why the German version seems to be much better. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 16:06, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Flagged revisions Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 16:17, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It's a matter of critical weight. There simply are not enough people pushing for "peer-review only" for it to gain traction. Instead of trying to change policy wiki-wide, I would suggest the correct approach is to fork the discussion either to out-pedia space, or a fork of policy for science articles. I really doubt the latter will gain consensus as it's been proposed and dropped for inactivity before. There are wiki-projects which *do* require peer-review, credentials, etc. They just haven't gained serious notability yet. Wjhonson (talk) 20:14, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

If all we do is create more interest in other projects already underway, we will have done a good thing.--Filll (talk) 22:24, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Agree with Filll and with Friday, above. The approach Friday endorses might have a better chance of flying because it doesn't smack so much of the "elitism" that WP, in its undending quest for mediocre mobocracy, seems so to despise. --Jim Butler(talk) 11:30, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

We have been here before...[edit]

WP:Expert retention and WP:Expert rebellion, along with a number of similar essays, have all discussed this in depth. The sad, sad emergence from these discussions and incremental edits seemed to be that yes, the wikipedia community as a whole cares not for scientific professionals :( The matters run further still than just the science articles, or also the philosophy and religion fields. I have regularly seen arguments on WP:V which state that we cannot use a primary source at all (which is many cases is absurd). Much of the current mess regarding characters and stories in fiction would also have been resolved a lot quicker. LinaMishima (talk) 16:13, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

It is unfortunate that there are problems in economics and religion and philosophy. But honestly, that is not our problem here. The jewel in the crown of Wikipedia is science, not that other cruft, to be honest. And scientists are fairly unhappy with the situation.
We can do as you suggest; just throw up our hands and say, oh well, lets let the enterprise get flushed down the toilet. Or we can send a strong signal to the powers that be, THERE IS A PROBLEM HERE. And if we make a big enough stink (which we can in all likelihood), then the mainstream media will notice it, and Wikipedia will be forced to act. That is what this page is about. (And does anyone really care that the religion and philosophy articles here are crap? Could anyone tell the difference? Honestly?)--Filll (talk) 16:23, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Don't disagree with you. Let's focus on science. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 16:26, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Strongest possible disagree. Economics, religion and philosophy have professionals and experts who are forced to fight against the exact same garbage that the hard sciences do. There is an obvious united front between historians who have to fix constant disruption from 9-11 cranks, biologists who have to fix constant disuption from homoeopaths, economists who have to fix constant disruption from goldbugs and physicists who have to fix constant disuption from big-bang denialists. Do not shoot yourself in the foot by throwing diciplines you don't study under the bus. PouponOnToast (talk) 16:27, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
(multiple ec) Don't you think your efforts here will be more successful if you don't go out of your way to alienate other editors? Any steps we take to maintain high quality would hopefully be applicable to any area of subject matter. Friday (talk) 16:28, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Both Filll and Friday make important points. Filll is correct in that change will come only when there is external pressure. It was the Siegenthaler affair that led to a meaningful BLP policy. Let's face it, nobody on the inside cares about the situation (which is the point of this whole exercise). Friday is correct in that it's counterproductive to alienate others.
Which brings me to a special plea: let's all be unfailingly civil in our interactions with the community. It's tough and it's something that I've not done myself sometimes. But the smarter pseudoscience and fringe types have learned that civility matters more than content. They've already got the sympathy of many highly-placed people because of Wikipedia's anti-expert (or if you prefer, anti-elitism) bias, so let's not allow them this advantage. Raymond Arritt (talk) 16:41, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
On the subject of that special plea, could someone make a welcome-template to extend to new pro-science editors? They (like me) are too often too hot-headed in response to the lovely people who have every right to believe as they do. It would be good for this effort if eligible newcomers are warned not to shoot themselves (or like-minded peers) in the foot. Most of the welcoming messages are intimidating I think, and people of science do not like to be told to be civil with what they see as a total disrespect for everything they stand for, so they might simply ignore the usual pointers to rules and regulations. A dedicated editor could use such a template to "initiate" promising newcomers to the secrets of "do-what-thou-wilt-while-not-pissing-off-the-wiki-powers-that-be"--AkselGerner (talk) 21:27, 20 April 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I really think we should include as many people as possible in this action (whatever specific action we might decide on). If nothing else, it'll have a stronger impact. This isn't just a battle between science and pseudoscience. It's a battle between the mainstream expert opinion and the fringe. The problem we're facing is that what's fringe among people who know what they're doing has sizable numbers overall, and elements of it are more likely to want to push their views on Wikipedia. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:47, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It is true that the same problem plaguing science is plaguing everything. See this neat page User:Moreschi/The Plague where Moreschi (talk · contribs) bemoans nationalist lunatics. Substitute 'science' for 'nationalist' and you'd hardly notice a difference in the problems. Still, I agree with Filll because science is actually the easiest to set up as an example. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 16:55, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Ok point taken. I will be more civil. But in the case of religion, comparing it to physics, it is going to be far far easier to decide what is physics and what is pseudoscience than it is to know what is religion and what is just spew by cranks.--Filll (talk) 17:13, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Trust me, the religion and philosophy pages have more pseudo- and crank editing than anything you could see at Evolution. You can't say anything, no matter how neutrally, calmly, or supported by what weight of centuries of expertise, without someone coming to either a) insert his for-profit guru, b) redefine all of it to suit a personal guru, c) add "in popular culture," d) pre-empt with a rock band name or album or single, e) replace it all with "is bollocks", f) change the whole thing to reflect what the author just heard in 10th grade history class, g) change it because the term was once used in a political argument, and the author wants to change the winners. Humanities articles are pretty shiny jewels in Wikipedia's crown, and yet they get more editing than anything on topology would. (They also require experts just as much.) Geogre (talk) 19:51, 27 January 2008 (UTC)


I just wanted to raise here a potential issue: Any large-scale boycott/strike such as this will likely be declared a WP:POINTy act. If you look at it a certain way, our goal here is to demonstrate how bad articles will get quickly if experts withdraw from the project. That could definitely be characterized as disrupting Wikipedia in order to make a point.

However, I don't think it really applies (but I do expect it to be brought up if this goes through). There's a qualitative difference between disrupting through action and allowing disruption to occur through inaction. There's no rule against taking a wikibreak, and there never will be. Even a coordinated wikibreak can't be against the rules - there's no way you can force people to edit. In any case, I think as soon as someone tries to play this card against us, we've succeeded in making our point: We're needed here to prevent this sort of disruption, so we should be granted more respect.

In the end, I think respect is what this is all about. Our goal is to get Wikipedia to give more respect to mainstream expert opinions and less to the fringe. We've tried talking about it, and that's consistently failed, because we just don't get any respect. Akin to real world actions, striking may be our only recourse here. Let them see for themselves our worth by taking it away. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:57, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

As I said on the main page of this discussion, we might not have to "strike" but just have to express a willingness to let the trolls have their way for a few days to implement "their version of NPOV" (which is not NPOV at all, of course). It would be an interesting experiment to try, if nothing else. And if and when we get the attention of the bureaucracy, then we have to have meaningful proposals to present to address the problems. And that is what I am trying to spur people to think about on these two pages.--Filll (talk) 17:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Have it been tried to attempt to petition the beurocracy on this matter? Just that I'd rather not let the articles deteriorate any further :(. Jefffire (talk) 17:13, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It's easy enough to revert back however long we need to after the strike ends. PouponOnToast (talk) 17:19, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
This is the one occasion where I would cite WP:IAR as applicable. ~ UBeR (talk) 17:18, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
There is no need for IAR. The power lies in the people, always. When a project is built on volunteers, it is built on the volition of the workers. They can withdraw it at any time. A mass action is simply a new consensus, and Wikipedia beats any hierarchical structure precisely because it has no bones against which a new movement must push. We are exactly as we are. Geogre (talk) 19:53, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Speculations regarding German Wikipedia[edit]

In our search for policy, this might be an interesting starting point. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 17:24, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

It's tough to say why German Wikipedia has done so well, but one possible speculation is this: According to Kim Bruning, German Wikipedia is run as an "Adminocracy." In other words, they have a very low tolerance for trolling and admins are given a great deal of deference in dealing with trolls and vandals. Other wikis, such as Dutch Wikipedia, which are dominated more by inclusionist populism, are crumbling due to majoritarianism and bureaucracy, two things Wikipedia is not. Jimmy himself seems to have an appropriate understanding of Ignore all rules that is not shared by the community.[1] On the one hand, Jimmy has stated:

If I see [a contributor] is publishing shit, maybe by swearing or not making sense, I warn him ...the second time he turns on, I block him.

— Jimmy Wales, May 2006[2]

This may shock some people, but it's perfectly acceptable if, in fact, Jimmy is in the right when he does that. And the claim above is in direct contradiction to the flowchart which describes how to build consensus.

Consensus new and old.svg

In that flowchart, Ignore All Rules isn't present and the result has been an unwritten policy that Ignore all rules is to ignored, which favors violations of WP:NPOV, WP:RS, and WP:FRINGE.

It could be speculated, then that German Wikipedia has been more effective because the role of administrators and ignore all rules in the wiki process has been more clear. The four main principles of German Wikipedia [3] are:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
  2. A neutral point-of-view (where rationality and objectivity are both heavily emphasized)
  3. Free content
  4. No personal attacks

This is far more simple, more clear, and apparently more effective empirically, and this essay recommends all wikis follow the example of German Wikipedia and reject the absurd proposals made in Wikipedia:Wikipedia is succeeding. A more thorough review of their proposals will be published in the future.

  1. ^ See the discussions at WP:IAR, WP:WIARM, and WP:WIARRM
  2. ^ Jimmy Wales, 2005 (2005-09-20). "Life, the universe and Wiki". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  3. ^ "Wikipedia: Basic Principles, German Wikipedia". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
I don't think becoming authoritarian will help us. It might cut down disturbances, but in the long run it won't help the encyclopedia. ~ UBeR (talk) 18:18, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Agree with UBeR. It would never fly. It also puts a lot of power in the hands of admins -- and counterproductive (if well-intended) admins are a big part of the problem. Raymond Arritt (talk) 18:40, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, maybe a tangential issue there is trying to get some admins on our side. I've seen a couple admins that have seemed sympathetic to science in the past, but after what happened to Adam, it might be a tough road to get any of them to consider it now. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:48, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

From the german version of WP:NPOV roughly translated:

Critical evaluation of the sources

2nd Statements that are contradict secured scientific knowledge, must be presented as refuted or as superseded (in the light of recent, but not the latest findings). Statements that shirk the investigation by science (see falsification), must be represented as speculative . See also the difference between hypothesis and theory.
3rd A serious article should not relativize secured (not recent) scientific knowledge by mentioning various position on a subjekt. This error often occures in articles on para-and pseudo-scientific subjects.

Also funny in the german version of WP:V

The contribution to a lexicon incorporated information should be transparent in its origin and its nature verifiable. Therefore, in principle sources that are written according to the principles of scientific work are to favour. If such sources are not or not sufficiently available, you can also use journalistic sources, which can be considered as solidly investigated.((...)). If scientific sources are in conflict with journalistic sources, the scientific sources are preferable. A scientific evidence for a source, is whether they are cited in the academic discourse, as in academic journals of the topics area.

So according to the german policies, academic sources kill all other sources. (talk) 15:04, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Actually, the section above is contradictory. How does "adminocracy" (a freaking loathsome macaronic neologism) not equal "bureaucracy"?
Moving on: vat verks am die Deutschesvolk Viki fits the Deutschesgedanken perfektly -- wir befolgen!
What only a few seem to realise is that people are not nice in the world of Academe. •Jim62sch•dissera! 19:18, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

This seems like a really bad idea.[edit]

General readers will still use Wikipedia just as much even with such a strike. I don't see what it would actually accomplish other than make a large variety of fringe-pushers have free reign for extra time. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

We're looking long-term here. The goal is that such a demonstration will help make it clear to fence-sitting admins that there's a problem, and without our input, these articles will quickly descend into chaos. Hopefully this will lead to a change in policy and attitudes that will be less favorable to fringe viewpoints. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 19:31, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Kangaroo got mainstream press which made Conservapedia look stupid. PouponOnToast (talk) 19:32, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, the point of threatening to take a break on editing or patrolling one or more controversial science-related articles, or even actually doing it, is to bring attention to a set of ideas to try for improving the science/pseudoscience articles. I have advocated trying to collect a suite of ideas to suggest, and then if any of these need support from the bureaucracy, getting the attention of the bureaucracy with a bold announcement or move, or alarm of some kind. I am not sure we actually NEED to strike (although an experiment or two on a couple of controversial articles I think would be very interesting, to just let the fringe elements have their way and see the results).--Filll (talk) 19:37, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Any action will need to be decisive, swift, and not a warning but an irrevocable and non-negotiable action, and result in enough disruption (by unmonitored kooks) to get the attention of the press. No press coverage = a waste of time. Negotiations and policy changes here will come in the wake of press coverage, not before. We have talked and complained for far too long. -- Fyslee / talk 04:44, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Part of the problem is that for many fringe topics, many people don't know much about them to have a decent understanding of the scientific consensus on matters and similar WP:UNDUE issues (this is a serious problem for example at Homeopathy). To use the same example, if we let the POV-pushers on Homeopathy have a free reign, to many admins and general users it wouldn't look so bad because they just have no knowledge of the subject at all. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:24, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Here's another problem with what's happening. Admins being "elected" today really lack any usefulness to the project. Admins like Raymond arritt, Mast Cell, JoshuaZ and others just don't get elected anymore. Instead, we get admin candidates who have no understanding of NPOV or even SPOV, some are secret racists and POV-warriors, and some who are just plain plain. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 21:05, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely true. Which is why I have suggested that after our "experiment" we then submit the article before and after the experiment to a panel of outside experts for advice. We might enlist the assistance of the outside media in the experiment (possibly). We agree on what experts should be; like professors of medicine at Harvard and Yale and Johns Hopkins. We can even contact some of the scienceblog people to help us in this regard. We get a group of real experts, and have them look. And see. And thereby, shine the light of reality on this problem. And who knows what we will find out?--Filll (talk) 20:47, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Something tells me Orac would be interested in helping review here, though the problem with that is that we already know what his opinion on Homeopathy (and all things fringe, really) is. He does qualify as an expert, though. If not him, there are certainly some other experts around ScienceBlogs who haven't expressed an opinion on Homeopathy yet. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 21:59, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Didn't you hear? According to at least one banned user's off-wiki outing campaign, I am Orac. :) MastCell Talk 04:07, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I keep thinking, as I read this, why would a boycot of the underdogs work?

  • The loonies won't miss us
  • The Bureaucracy won't notice a difference
  • Administrators will be pleased to see a 0.2% decrease in conflicts

The problem seems to be mob-rule and God knows that the one way to fight a mob-rule is with a mob of your own. Shouldn't we shout "Scientists of the Wiki Unite" instead? And, I suggest, including all sciences, not just the natural sciences: a history major can undo damage as easily as anyone else, and can probably find certain sorts of references and cross-field arguments better than an in-field specialist. Like Raymond arritt suggested, let it be the most civil and softspoken mob ever seen, it's easy to learn to use passive-aggressive phrases like "perhaps you can word it a different way?" when aggressively taking out the utter nonsense. Just a suggestion, you know your enemy does the same. The benefit in a pro-science mob is that while the constant overturn of users will deplete the effectiveness of a strike, it will increase the efficiency of an organization if recruiting is diligent.--AkselGerner (talk) 22:03, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Non-experts and science articles[edit]

I've been following User:Raymond arritt/Expert withdrawal with interest. It has certainly attracted a lot of attention. For the record, I have an undergraduate science degree. I actually tend to avoid editing science articles because I know how fast some areas move and how easy it is for non-experts to get things wrong, even in good faith (well, in reality I've forgotten nearly everything I learnt...). I also know that editing on the basis of popular science books and textbooks can be tricky compared to editors who are using peer-reviewed articles and syntheses of front-line research (or knowledge of such). That might be part of the problem. In areas like science, non-experts and even those with a basic education in the subject, tend to either steer clear, or unhelpfully fall inbetween the two camps and satisfy no-one. That tends to leave highly-educated scientists tearing their hair out in frustration as they try to discuss things with those with less education or training in assessing sources and science and science-related materials. Carcharoth (talk) 19:22, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Very true. And the disputes between science and pseudoscience are different than the disputes about Kosovo or Palestine or Chechnya or Islam or Christianity or Sufi or Ron Paul or George Bush, in most cases. Frequently, it is very obvious for those who are highly trained in the sciences and related areas what is mainstream science and what is nonmainstream science to put it politely.
We have many people who are highly trained in science here, with Masters and PhDs in science and mathematics and engineering as well as MDs etc. To someone who is an artist or a philosopher or a kindergarden teacher or a barber or a real estate agent, the conflicts in science just look like the conflicts in politics or religion.
But the conflicts between science and pseudoscience are very different than these other conflicts. Otherwise, there would not be well in excess of 99.99% of all biologists dismissing creationism and anti-evolution beliefs, although to some of the general public, the distinction between the two ideas seems pretty minimal and not important. And this sort of belief that one has to be "fair" to both sets of ideas is extremely destructive when trying to produce some sort of reliable and not completely ridiculous resource, like an encyclopedia.--Filll (talk) 19:36, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
But to get back to my point, what role do people like me (undergraduate science degree) have to play? I actually want to read about both sides of the issue and judge for myself. I don't want the fringe views completely cleared out, if only because they are interesting. I want to go to what I know will be (or should be) the mainstream article, and read about homeopathy. I want there to be at least a link from there to the [[water memory] article, and I want to be able to read over there what this is about (its history and what its proponents have to say), not just what science has to say about it. I want Wikipedia editors to trust me, as a reader, to not have to be constantly reminded that what I'm reading is not mainstream - as long as there is something in the article saying "care! not mainstream", allow some latitude for the other side to say something. ie. give more weight to science in the main article, but give more weight to homeopathy in the appropriate subsidiary articles (such as water memory), while still covering everything in both. Does that make sense? There is nothing wrong with starting an article with "as described in homeopathy, the water memory effect has no scientific basis" - followed by a series of paragraphs about the history and the impact and reception - all the time carefully avoiding endorsing it in any way whatsoever. That is how I understand NPOV. Different articles have different balances according to what their "topic" is. Overall, this may give the impression that Wikipedia is unbalanced if you select the wrong articles, but, correctly done, links and introductions should guide readers to the right areas and, overall, a topic area can be balanced, while the individual articles may have different balances. ie. put all the homeopathy-related articles together, and the whole is balanced. Look at individual articles (which should really be seen as subsidiary articles, not separate ones), and the balance is harder to see. I'm not in any way advocating POV-forks, as all the articles should still make clear how they relate to other articles and the mainstream, but there is no need for all homeopathy articles to be 60% science (or whatever). Carcharoth (talk) 20:03, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Just read the water memory article. Very nice! :-) I think I chose a bad example there. But I think the general principle holds. When discussing topics for which there is no science, concentrate on documenting the history and the reactions of society and each side of the debate. To look at something where there is science involved, I tried to get involved with the Wikipedia coverage of the results of Arthur Eddington's 1919 solar eclipse expeditions. Eddington's article presents this experiment as a success. So does General relativity. You have to go to Introduction to general relativity#Experimental tests to get the line "Eddington's results were not very accurate". I remember raising this at Wikipedia:Featured article# candidates/Introduction to general relativity. There was a better explanation at predictive power, but it has since been removed. Compare the current text at predictive power: "Although the measurements have been criticized by some as utilizing flawed methodology[2], modern reanalysis of the data[3][4] suggests that Eddington's analysis of the data was accurate." (quoting sources from 1993, 2005 and 2007 - a nice illustration of how things change over time - looks like I'm now behind the times) with the previous version. There is a whole story there that has been excised and condensed into a sentence or two. I've added a comment at Talk:Predictive power. Another article that does a better job of covering this is (logically) Tests of general_relativity#Deflection of light by the Sun. My main points about the inconsistent presentation of Eddington's experiment across Wikipedia articles were made at Reliability of the results of Eddington's eclipse experiments (with a link to an interesting article here). See also the exchange here and here. I would present all of that as an example of how civil discourse is possible, and also how dangerous it can be to let loose someone (ie. me) with a little bit of knowledge, but not the up-to-date knowledge needed. Luckily there was an expert around to bring in the latest verdicts and keep things under control (actually, I only participated on the talk page - don't think I even edited the article). Carcharoth (talk) 20:52, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I think someone with a bachelor's degree in science can contribute. I think someone who is a dedicated amateur like User: WillowW can contribute. I am a physicist with a bunch of graduate degrees in physics and mathematics, and almost no training in biology, but most of the science I have been involved with here is biological. Nevertheless, I think I have been able to contribute, and I have learned something in the process.

The reason I do not try hard to contribute in my own areas of expertise is that dealing with trolls and POV warriors is so discouraging that I do not think I could deal with it in an area where I am a real expert (and I do not want to edit articles where my own work and name might appear; that makes me feel strange). I can barely tolerate dealing with trolls and POV warriors in an area of science in which I am not an expert. Just look at User: Orangemarlin. He is a cardiologist, but he has tried to edit some medical articles, and it is incredibly frustrating for him. It is painful to watch. The same is true for User: Jim62sch who is a linguist and computer expert. Once in a while Jim62sch steps into linguistic articles, but it is much more painful for him to edit those than it is for me, as an amateur linguist who is just interested in it but knows almost nothing. WillowW is an expert in knitting, and I have seen her in agony when people who do not appreciate her expertise attack her knitting articles. It is less painful to work in areas in which a person is not an expert for most people, frankly.

I am not advocating clearing out WP:FRINGE material. I do not think anyone is advocating removing FRINGE material, or at least very few if any pro-science editors that I know would advocate clearing out this material.

What I think we are worrying about is the efforts by homeopaths (for example), who do not want any information in the homeopathy article that states that

  • there is no scientific basis for their field or medications
  • there have been no confirmed scientific studies showing their treatments work

They want to include blogs of fellow homeopaths. They want to remove negative studies, or peer-reviewed studies in mainstream journals. They want to explain away negative results with WP:OR etc. They want to deny that scientific bodies or publications have denigrated homeopathy. They claim there are all massive plots and conspiracies against them to keep them down.

Many proponents of assorted WP:FRINGE theories believe that NPOV means that no negative material whatsoever should be included, since negative material is not "neutral". In other words, they want to remove all scientific and allopathic medical content from the article. That is what the fights are about on the talk pages. Over and over and over. By a never ending flow of sock puppets and meat puppets and POV warriors and trolls. Over and over and over. Same arguments, again and against. Edit wars. Administrative actions. Just a huge waste of time and energy for everyone.

This sentiment is expressed over and over at the talk pages of irreducible complexity or intelligent design or many others. Almost every alternative medicine or complementary medicine page has the same situation. Go to the FRINGE theories noticeboard to see an amazing parade of the most incredible material; acres and acres of the most outrageous articles imaginable, without a single contact with the scientific or medical mainstream.

Of course a lot of this material is interesting and fun and humorous. I think that it should be here, but the mainstream view should be there as well. If all we do is promote offbeat and screwball material, we will soon lose all credibility. I even think that if another place like Wikinfo or Para Wiki is willing to feature it without any input from mainstream science, that is fine and maybe preferable for many of these proponents of these views.

On your experiences with general relativity; this was not too contentious, because there is no one bottling relativity to sell to the public. And in the case of homeopathy and intelligent design, this is what is going on. There is an immense financial motivation to remove any negative material. The only financial motivation involved with the case of general relativity serves to promote it because GPS relies on it, and some research funding depends on it. There is no huge anti-GR lobby. GR is not condemned in churches. There are no rallies of thousands of anti-GR proponents where speeches are made claiming all people who use or work in GR

  • are doing the work of the devil
  • are corrupting the youth
  • were responsible for the Holocaust
  • should be imprisoned or even put to death.

This makes the GR case quite different than some of these other scientific areas. And so you have to put some of these things in perspective for this reason. --Filll (talk) 23:05, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Carcharoth, the term "expert" was an unfortunate choice of words on my part. It was intended to mean any reasonably informed person who is is grounded in reality. The real problem is people who are energetically and disruptively promoting nonsense, and -- especially -- the administrators who insist on giving them near-limitless chances while ignoring the effect they have on constructive editors. My experience is that experts are more than happy to work with non-experts who are genuinely interested in a topic instead of aggressively promoting a far-fringe agenda (quite often, an agenda in which they have real-world COI) with utter disregard for WP:WEIGHT, WP:RS, and so on. What's driving us nuts is the message that disruptive fringers need to be protected and nurtured because with constant mentoring they might, someday, eventually, become constructive editors, and that if this causes endless grief to constructive editors well, tough -- this is an "anti-elitist" community and those pointy-headed science types are only getting what they deserve. Raymond Arritt (talk) 00:15, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I would agree with this assessment of Raymond Arritt, unfortunately. That is the certainly the appearance, inadvertent or not. And so, we need to brainstorm for how we can correct the situation, if an improvement is possible at all.--Filll (talk) 00:33, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
And don't forget the admins who get elected with what could only be described as cursory knowledge of what NPOV actually means. There's nothing worse then when an admin and their weighty fist (as a leader), who clearly doesn't understand the policy, gives more fuel to the eternal fire of the fringers. Personally, I am of the mind that the very best admins are going to be the ones that constructively edit controversial articles (intelligent design, scientific support for evolution, homeopathy, etc) because they actually understand policy. How good of an admin can you be when the toughest thing you had to do in an article was figure out how to much space to give to the season overview of Buffy (no offense to Buffy fans or editors)? Baegis (talk) 00:24, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Ah, but "involved" admins are strictly forbidden from acting. One can argue that the best thing for a knowledgeable admin is to avoid editing articles in which he has expertise, so that he will be able to enforce policy on those articles. Weird but true. Raymond Arritt (talk) 00:33, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree on the need for expert oversight, and suggest that pseudoskepticism is at times a problem on WP as well as pseudoscience, and that good oversight would help. Not all pseudosciences are created (designed? ...heh) equal. Filll mentions homeopathy and ID in the same breath, but the latter is for more pseudo for several reasons. It's a mistake -- wrong scientifically, wrong encyclopedically -- to lump all things called "pseudoscience" together for purposes of how we treat them. WP has some decent rules in terms of dealing with topics labelled as pseudoscience, and one of the razors they give is "generally considered pseudoscientific by the scientific community". Expert editors grok the difference between attributable individual and group opinion, right? I've come close to leaving WP myself, and one reason is that I'm tired of having to explain what are adequate sources for sci consensus. Just another angle to consider. --Jim Butler(talk) 12:17, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Please Jim Butler direct me to an article where you believe that pseudoskepticism has become a problem. Are there any articles where pseudoskepticism has distorted NPOV and WEIGHT ? Or threatens to distort them?

Also, the pseudoscience is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I guarantee that many who subscribe to intelligent design will state unequivocally that intelligent design is much more respectable and scientific than homeopathy. I also guarantee that many who are proponents of homeopathy will state unequivocally that homeopathy is much more respectable and scientific than intelligent design. Each thinks their belief is totally reasonable and that other guy who believes that other nonsense is a crank that they do not want to be associated with.

I myself am somewhat torn about "branding" articles with pseudoscience labels. There might be methods that might be less offensive to proponents but are still useful to readers to tie these articles together. I am not sure what those might be, but it is worth thinking about. --Filll (talk) 13:53, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi Filll - Acupuncture is not infrequently targeted (notice that what is being deleted is stuff from Edzard Ernst and the Cochrane Collaboration; the editor honestly believes there is a conspiracy among "acu believers" to infiltrate evidence-based medicine reviewers at the highest levels). Admittedly an extreme and rather cranky example, but still, it happens, and guess who deals with a lot of it? I frequently see arguments over use of category:pseudoscience, and editors who should know better assert that individual scientists can be cited for sci consensus. (See User:Jim_Butler#Categories.) This also happens at List of pseudosciences and pseudoscientific concepts. I don't wish to minimize the editorial agony of those undoubtedly fighting greater battles, but the existence of the pseudoskeptical side ought to be on the radar screen of scientific editors, knowing the difference between "unproven" and "disproven". (Actually, there are some good folks at Citizendium who are reasonable in this way. Maybe we should just leave WP to trivia and popular culture.) cheers, Jim Butler(talk) 10:30, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Also, re "pseudoscience is in the eye of the beholder", that is true, but the existence of critical sources is not subjective. All we need to do is cite and properly weight such sources. There are far more sci-consensus sources dissing creationism than homeopathy. Agree with you on "branding" and with topics labelled as pseudoscience am an advocate of using WP's lists broadly while using categories sparingly, per Arbcom's comments, now at NPOV, as well as WP:CG. For borderline or disputed cases, we still get to explain the reasoning behind the criticisms, even if we refrain from "branding". best regards, Jim Butler(talk) 20:20, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
A further clarification that Jim Butler might want to take into consideration. When a paper is published in the Lancet and the author or authors state that "X is pseudoscience" or "X is not scientifically supported", it just does not mean that this is the opinion of the author or the 2, 3 or 10 authors.
Lancet articles will have been reviewed by at least 3 reviewers, and possibly as many as 10 or more reviewers scientific reviewers, typically reviewers who are not inclined to agree with the conclusions of the paper and who are scientific opponents of the authors of the paper and who are usually chosen as likely to disagree with the conclusions of the paper. The paper must also be inspected by at least one or more scientific editors and meet with their approval. If there is a problem with the article that the scientific community disagrees with, within a short period of time (a year or two at most, a letter or article to the journal rebutting the conclusions of the article will appear in the journal, or a competing journal. This will be easy to find because it will bring considerable attention to the problem typically. So although you are somewhat correct in your views that a peer-reviewed paper by one person represents the views of that author, you are not totally correct. It is a bit more complicated than that.--Filll (talk) 14:03, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree peer review does amount to greater weight than unrefereed or self-published material, but WP:SOURCES already takes that into account. (To be clear, we could say "John Doe, in peer-reviewed Zooboomafoo, wrote blah blah blah".) And I doubt that an author's opinion that a topic is "pseudoscience" is generally going to be as heavily contested by reviewers as an article's more central features, like study design, data crunching, interpretation of results, etc. Besides, reviewers very often let all kinds of BS (even PS!) through, as we know from various infamous examples. best regards, Jim Butler(talk) 10:30, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Well of course in science nothing is ever or rarely "disproven". Proof and truth are part of mathematics and logic, but not part of science. The preponderence of evidence just goes in one way or another, and the mainstream of science follows. All of the scientific theories are only provisional and temporary and expected to be replaced by better ones that explain more. I could still maintain that the earth is the center of the universe, or that the earth is flat, and fit the data very well, but the model to that would be very complicated. It violates the parsimony principle associated with Occam's Razor.--Filll (talk) 21:20, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Why are people still engaging in discussion here? PouponOnToast (talk) 11:51, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I am not sure what you mean. Sorry.--Filll (talk) 21:20, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Getting the attention of the "bureaucracy"[edit]

I see references here to getting the attention of the "bureaucracy". I think those saying that are misunderstanding how Wikipedia works. It is the community, the editors (and that includes you and me) who set the non-Foundation policies and how things work. ArbCom and the community of admins have some effect, as does Jimbo Wales. But real top-down change needs to be instituted at the Wikimedia Foundation board level. Someone should probably stand for election to the board on this sort of ticket. That would help gauge community support for this kind of frustration. See meta:Board elections. Hopefully that is what was meant by "bureaucracy". Carcharoth (talk) 19:26, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Some ideas that are suggested for testing or implementation might not require any permission or assistance from the "bureaucracy" at all. They can just be done unilaterally.
Others might require some permission or assistance. And so people should be prepared to try to figure out how to get this permission or assistance. And of course, one method might be to put a representative on a board.--Filll (talk) 19:39, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I think most people are using "bureacracy" as shorthand for "arbcom and admins." It's not really policy that needs to be changed but enforcement of existing policy. Others can correct me if I'm wrong. Raymond Arritt (talk) 00:18, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Other people might have different definitions, but I am using "bureaucracy" in the widest possible sense, to include all editors, the rules on Wikipedia, the administrators, Arbcomm, the Foundation, the other assorted hoi polloi like bureaucrats, WikiMedia Foundation employees, checkusers, etc. The whole shooting match. The problem is, we need an entire paradigm and attitude shift, and it is a big enterprise with a lot of parts, and it is like turning the Queen Mary.--Filll (talk) 00:40, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Filll, as I have suggested elsewhere,t there is a project with just such a shift, Citizendium. The problem is, it is filled with so many professional academics that it moves very slowly--and it turns out they too have their own idiosyncratic point of view--and, being better at disputation than people here, they are even harder to convince that they are not being objective. But there is an acceptance of the paradigm you want, and you should join in actively there to see if you really like it. DGG (talk) 04:26, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Of course there are several hundred Wikis, all with different principles involved. And all have their advantages and disadvantages. Citizendium requires people to drop anonymity, which some like yourself have no problem with, but others like myself maintain it for a variety of reasons. I have explored some other wikis and I continue to do so. However, I believe that discussing potential ways to improve this and other wikis is only reasonable and prudent. Do you not think so?--Filll (talk) 04:38, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Given that I have been threatened for calling people "homeopathy promoters" instead of "homeopathy supporters", and that it was viewed as highly uncivil to tell people that we have to abide by NPOV and cooperate or else there would be trouble, I am afraid DGG has convinced me that the harsher position of Raymond arritt might be the more realistic one. Thanks for opening my eyes.--Filll (talk) 13:42, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Newspaper coverage[edit]

Is this really a good idea? It might get change, but maybe not the sort you expect. My experience with newspapers is also that they can easily misrepresent a story. Think of possible headlines that make those who proposed this look silly. Also, if this is, in years to come, seen as the start of the end, do you really want newspaper stories about how Wikipedia lost a chunk of credibility because of an expert rebellion? Even when the experts return, it will be hard to regain that credibility. Carcharoth (talk) 19:32, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

As I said on the main page here, all of these ideas have potential advantages and disadvantages. And one does not necessarily have to actually strike to get the necessary attention. However, I do personally think that a test on an article or two might be very interesting to watch and study.--Filll (talk) 19:41, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Strikes are best done with the employer, not the world[edit]

Look, I understand the frustrations here. I support the volunteers expressing their wills. However, the problems are the Scylla and Charibdis of rapid edits by dedicated deniers and warriors, on the one hand, and the picayune obsessions with the "where is the citation that V/I/R?", on the other. The middle line of academic standards is difficult to establish to non-academic persons. What you are bucking against is that the average age of the "power structure" of Wikipedia is far below graduate school age, and the average group of deniers or agenda motivated individuals can mass numbers more quickly and effectively than we can overcome the "but he's right: a citation to Conspiracy Times is as good as one to Nature" on any given subject.

We're all in this together. I have to deal with philosophy and literature complaints, ideologies, and trash. (E.g. there is feminist literary criticism. It's great. Peace unto it. Rewriting an article to be all the opinion of a feminist scholar is as wrong as rewriting it to be a essay. Try to imagine fighting that battle.) I also watch the "official culture" of FAC and FAR dominated by pop culture addicts and youngsters. Again, peace unto them, but they don't know the difference between a J.A.W. Bennett and Anne Rice, when it comes to Anglo-Saxon literature, so how are they going to know what is and is not academic standard?

If there is such a level of frustration that you guys want to withdraw your services, you will find:

  1. People will do it themselves, but stupidly (with -bots)
  2. Much will be missed
  3. Another expert will replace you, find the same frustration, and express it again
  4. Another group of teenagers "in power" will turn a deaf ear or try to salve the situation with a clumsy and fumbling blow in the dark.

Many of us want the prejudice against Wikipedia in the academy to be eroded by our quality, but we can only do this if we can hit and maintain academic standard.

The biggest problem, of course, is self-selection. Who joins Project Verification except people who feel strongly about it? Who joins Good Article Review but people who feel strongly about it? People feeling strongly are people who have an opinion already. Some of those most interested in "working on" verifiability are going to be interested in getting their previously excluded thing included. Some of those interested in "working on" Good Article review think there have been "too few articles on cheeses" (or whatever the idiosyncratic interest).

On a less gloomy note, here is a recommendation: Sign up as a person who will withdraw work. Get a good list. Be prepared to be as good as your word. Know what it is that you're going to stop doing (e.g. taking all science articles off your watchlist). Be prepared for stupid statements from the "other side." The point is to make sure that those who are the obstacle learn the price, not to go to the police or press. Geogre (talk) 20:06, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Good advice and input. Thanks! --Filll (talk) 21:08, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Development of scientifically-based tools for WP management[edit]

As I study the operation of WP, I see that some of our decisions are made more on personal convictions, rather than real data or analysis.

For example, we could and should have far more sophisticated sock puppet detection tools based on discriminant analysis and detection theory and computational linguistics. A bot could ferret out candidates for more careful examination quite easily.

Another area is the claim repeated frequently that a given newbie is worth more than an established user. It seems that there is more good faith extended towards newbies and the system bends over for any bad behavior for disruptive editors than it does for established editors who are productive.

One could easily study the data and survey the editors and get some feedback if this stance is appropriate and productive for the project. What is the probability that a disruptive editor will reform and be productive, based on past behavior? What is the value of an editor who produces 10,000 edits a year and 2 GAs and one FA per year? What is the chance that a newbie will stay on the site and become productive? Does it cost us established productive editors to let disruptive editors and trolls run free and give them repeated chances to continue to be disruptive? One could decide how to balance many policies based on optimizing the productivity of the project.--Filll (talk) 03:28, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, sophisticated sock puppet detection tools, as well, as sophisticated nonsense detection tools can be implemented. But the incentive to do so does not seem to exist. A much better tool would be a re-write of the editing environment. Contributing to the project is not user friendly. Several months ago, there was some mention at the Wiki Foundation level via Wales that a new editing environment would be forthcoming. I've heard nothing since. Many months ago, there was a serious attempt at forcing all contributions to be accompanied by a citation. This was to be built into the 'new editing' tool. All vapour ware. I agree that contributing - encyclopedia building - editors should be rewarded some how. There is zero incentive. An outside expert has to battle an editing environment from the dark ages, fight off neanderthals, and then a receives a virtual lump of coal as thanks. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 03:42, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I actually encountered a good study into wikipedia quality just the other day, I can't remember exactly where it was referenced from, perhaps WP:FAIL and similar discussions? But interestingly it displayed that, I believe, editors with 10,000 edits or more are responsible for around 40% of all lasting content, and that edit count was a good indication of lasting additions. I shall have to attempt to briefly look for it... LinaMishima (talk) 04:05, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Found it! Take a look at article, it is actually rather good LinaMishima (talk) 04:07, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Some corrections: The top 0.1% of contributors (~4,200 editors, no indication of average edit count) give over 40% of quality content additions. A single user is responsible for 0.5% of quality content additions. Of the top-ten quality content addition makers, nine had more than 10,000 edits. LinaMishima (talk) 04:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi. I'm going to just copy the message I posted at WT:MEDCAB: I've recently become acquainted with some people at the University of Washington who have been researching our little encyclopedia project, from a variety of angles. I've been put in touch with Travis Kriplean (User:Leafman), whose work deals with conflict resolution, and how we build consensus on controversial topics. I expect we'll be meeting face-to-face soon, and I'm very interested to see what kind of definite statements we can make about dispute resolution methods. I'm posting here, per Filll's suggestion in a different venue, as we thought this might be relevant to the interests of readers here. I can certainly let you know as developments progress. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:41, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Natural selection operates on Wikipedia[edit]

What we have is a special circumstance here. We cannot promote admins unless they have no enemies, so the only admins that we get are from noncontroversial articles. And they are not aware of the problems on controversial articles, or willing to do much about them. And we are naturally selecting for admins who will do nothing (since those that will like Adam and Durova etc leave or are booted) and also that know nothing about the problems. And so the editors have to deal with this on their own. And they quit because it is impossible. So we naturally select for the least competent editors, and the admins who favor doing nothing and WP:AGF no matter what, even in the face of an onslaught of disruptive socks and trolls etc. And it just gets worse. Positive feedback! Evolution in action !!--Filll (talk) 07:41, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Durova wasn't booted for knowing about science, if she was booted at all. However, you are correct about admins, and this is why we need quorum on RFA, at least. When an RFA passes with 20 "meh" votes but fails with 110/40 passionate votes, the natural selection is toward people operating -bots and doing single character edits. It's easier for sockpuppets and "outsiders" to get admin status with nothing edits than it is for an active person to get admin status. However, is it admins that is the problem? What is "it" that needs to be done? What normative standard will stop some of the bleeding? Geogre (talk) 12:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Of course, Durova was not "booted"; as I said, "leave or are booted" and I was not necessarily referring to Durova and Adam Cuerden, but only administrators like Durova and Adam Cuerden, who are more actively involved than just running bots.

However, Geogre raises the more important question; even if we recognize what the problem is, how do we approach it and "fix" it, if such a thing is even possible?--Filll (talk) 20:26, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Looking at the last batches of promoted admins, I see some rather fearless and objective people there. And for slightly earlier groups, this has been proven by their actions since promoting. Think if every;admin wanted to involve her/himself with these articles. If you think we've been getting some with low quality, affect the evolution by participating. Intelligent control of this is possible within our environment. I almost said ID. :) DGG (talk) 02:43, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that admins who want to protect tendentious or disruptive editors carry disproportionate weight. Very often, such admins misinterpret adoption or mentorship to mean that they've now become the editor's advocate. We have too many cases where there's a consensus that someone needs to be blocked, or subject to a topic ban, or whatever, only for an admin to pop in who thinks they need a 37th last chance. Raymond Arritt (talk) 02:53, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Admins are not chosen based on number of edits. Number of edits has nothing to do with it. Wjhonson (talk) 09:34, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Then RfA must have changed enormously in the past month or two. How many have been promoted recently with < 5000 edits? Raymond Arritt (talk) 10:33, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

An example of why this is not a good idea[edit]

This is a copy of a section removed from the project page, with the comment of "taking it to the talk page" - as it perhaps should have been. But it is instructive how the mindset works - so I reproduce it here for information

As a scientist, and medical doctor, I ask you to think a bit deeper about the issues. For example, did you know that in the 1920's the scientific treatment for asthma was a tobacco cigarette which had been laced with a bit of strychnine? It worked, after a fashion too. Or how about the scorn heaped on Semmelweiss for his (then) radical suggestion to wash your hands before doing a vaginal examination on a post-partum lady? The outrage in Berlin at Koch and his postulates led to cholera parties being held where they (yes!) drank a bouillon of cholera after the party. And only 40% got cholera .... but that is another story. Doctors in WWI permitted men to be shot for cowardice, while today we recognise PTSD and do not shoot the cannon fodder any more. There are any number of examples of perfectly valid scientific principles which have been turned on their heads after some time - butter is good for you or bad for you? - so why do you assume that the current state of science is any better informed than a century ago? I think you are a tad arrogant to assume that, just because you cannot see a scientific rationale for something (speak Homeopathy) you need to charge in to correct the misunderstandings of the hoi polloi. You may well be right, but then again, was Koch or Semmelweiss wrong? docboat (talk) 13:36, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

You are one of those breed of anti-science physicians that are being pushed out of medical school. The ones that believe prayer improves a patient outcome or a dilution that is essentially distilled water has any effect except to clear the kidneys in a few hours. Your examples are plainly wrong, because in the 1920's less was known about cigarette smoke and the lungs. And science is specifically of a method which is testable, not what constitutes an urban legend at best in Homeopathy. I know you are frustrated by the inability to be a god and cure everyone who walks in your front door, but I personally gave up that attitude 20 years ago, when it was clear I wasn't. Science is the basis of medicine, believe it or not. Maybe some native somewhere used digitalis to improve his cardiovascular health. But there were 1000 plants that didn't, and people died. It was a primitive form of clinical trial. And the fact that countries and researchers are wasting money on CAM is sad, when those untold millions of dollars could be spent on real research with real results. Your examples are interesting, prove nothing. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 14:00, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
First off, OM, I graduated 1979 - probably am older than you, and am a believer in good science. Secondly, my examples are good examples, but they do not support your POV, so you may classify them as bad examples if you wish, but they still stand. Thirdly, your knowledge of my psychological state is approximately zero, so you will kindly leave off unreferenced attempts to impugn an attitude to me which plainly does not pertain. Fourthly, it has been proven, quite adequately, that CAM is both less costly, and more beneficial for chronic disease management than classical school medicine. Your US studies have shown that quite well. But, OM, whatever floats your boat. Don't let facts stand in your way. You do, however, manifest quite magnificently the reason why this article has been started - and why it is also wrong to pursue. But as said - whatever floats your boat. docboat (talk) 14:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

What you seem to be attempting to point out is that scientific opinion changes and the scientific establishment is unresponsive to new and radical ideas. That is a fair point, but surely you have noticed that those versed in the scientific method are more willing to work with the truth of this and within the framework of current understanding than those who are not. The scientific method is about dealing with the evidence, whilst people who do not follow it tend to deal more in what they would like to work and what appears to work (but under scrutiny is revealed to be something else). The comparison of the history of asthma and smoking to the debate over the efficacy of homeopathy is a very bad one indeed. You might say that it was 'just' 80 years ago, but remember that modern medicine and anatomy is a very new subject that is only just perhaps coming out of it's childhood (with the SSRI missing studies, it seems to have a teenage strop at the moment). At the time, certain aspects of the lung may not have been properly understood (although the general anatomy certainly was), the origin of asthma was not known, and the effects of smoking were only known through observation of people smoking. Using the knowledge they had at the time, it must have seemed an appropriate treatment. However, with homeopathy, boundless ammounts of knowledge exist on the cause of various problems, on biochemistry, and on chemistry and structures within liquids, and indeed the larger, more methodological studies show an effect similar only to placebo. One of the problems I will grant you, however, is that far too many scientifically minded editors want to scratch things out entirely, and dispute that a placebo-based treatment can be of any use (whereas I am sure you will agree, the placebo effect is wonderful and to be encouraged). For example, studies do seem to show that CAM is better with the management of some chronic conditions, and this is entirely what you would expect. Many of them have a very strong link to lifestyle and mental health, and regular long appointments with a CAM advisor who respects them does the world of good. This detail is often not desired by some types in the scientific field because this entire discussion has become polarised into black or white thanks to the blind insistence (often by the supporters) of a single viewpoint being the only true way. In conclusion, thank you for your input here and a very valuable point, however it must be noted that there were far less contentious means to make this statement. LinaMishima (talk) 20:12, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Excellent post Linamishima. Both of them of course make good points. And you are right, the distinguishing feature of all science is that it is provisional knowledge and expected to be revised constantly; that is its strength. Beliefs that do not get revised except to add more epicycles do not really get classified as science, but fall more into pseudoscience. Unfortunately our ability to use demarcation problem methods to decide what is and is not science is somewhat limited.
I also think that CAM is not all bogus, but a lot of it is. There are hints of interesting things there, like studies showing advantages to chiropractic in certain circumstances over conventional methods in the case of back pain, or accupuncture. Of course, the placebo effect and its counterpart, the nocebo effect, and related phenomena are telling us something interesting about the way the body works. We just do not know how to interpret it yet. Instead of holding dogmatically to some prior belief based on minimal evidence, we should be embracing evidence-based approaches, and highlighting them on a place like Wikipedia, while still accommodating contrary views.

The difficulty arises when many want to discard or mischaracterize evidence-basd approaches and mainstream science, and exclude it from Wikipedia, in my estimation. I am fine with putting all variety of flakey and fruitcakey material here; where else are you going to find it carefully described with links? On the other hand, we need to hear all sides and all sides presented clearly. In the case of homeopathy, since it makes money for some people, they want to exclude the allopathic medical side and the scientific side, from my observations over the last 8 months.--Filll (talk) 20:38, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Yes, I would agree with all of you. However, the real issue that I have seen on homeopathy and other pages is not so much the rigour of evidence, but rather the polarising of views into intransigent camps. Under those conditions, I would suggest, BOTH sides are wrong. docboat (talk) 00:20, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Um ok Doc, I will bite. Do you understand what NPOV is?--Filll (talk) 00:24, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

No need to be worried Filll] - I am not asking you, or anyone, to change your views! Yes, I do understand NPOV, quite well in fact. But do you understand the psychology involved in attempting non-bias when the mindset has been established? The point I am making in this debate started by RA is quite simple - firstly that scientific "truth" changes over time and secondly that closed minded attitudes to current scientific understandings are unhelpful. Polarised views are great for fighting, but simply not helpful in making progress. As far as I can see from looking at the history of scientific discovery, it is the person with the questioning mind, the person with the daring to assume that previous ideas are wrong, the person who challenges established notions of "right", who makes the breakthrough discoveries. Yes, excellent scientific approaches are needed, perseverance, observation etc etc. But the mindset is critical for progress, and a closed mind is not good for progress. Is that so radical an idea? docboat (talk) 02:15, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
There's a difference between being open minded and being out of touch with reality. There's nothing to be gained by being open-minded about the prospect of the Earth being supported by a giant tortoise, or communing with the dead via radio static, or the Holocaust having never occurred. Some things really are untenable. Raymond Arritt (talk) 02:23, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, true Raymond. But that is what they said about heavier-than-air-flight, is it not? Or the dangers of a speeding locomotive >15mph? Or the sound barrier? Combustion engine? Computers in the home? Heart transplants? Theory of quantum mechanics? Exercise after a heart attack? Kooks abound, kooks with closed minds perhaps more so, but a closed mindset is not helpful for non-kooks. docboat (talk) 02:29, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
There's a line to be drawn. Too often those promoting fringe views argue that because we don't know everything, we don't know anything. Raymond Arritt (talk) 03:10, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, we can agree on that, Raymond. I do think there is a simple solution to the whole issue though - I suggested it on the RfC Adam Cuerden started for homeopathy at [1] this link. docboat (talk) 03:46, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
And curiously they are all excepted by agreeing with the evidence. Sure there where skeptics and naysayers to almost anything and everything. Yet here we are, flying around using the internet, and yet, other pseudosciences cannot still be explained, even after all these other advances. Of course the more rational persons would say "perhaps these psuedosciences are wrong after all" but others, would resort to an odd "keep an open mind arguement" and hence, rather than be rational, they become believers. Shot info (talk) 03:39, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Docboat, with all due respect - you seem to be suggesting that because science advances over time that we should not report the current consensus. In all of your examples, an encyclopedia could accurately report the consensus mainstream views, and report the fringe with proper weight as well. And of course, publishing a new edition every year would keep things closer to up-to-date. Well, we have a little more power these days in that regard. I don't see the problem. Our articles should say, "the consensus view is...", which of course should be true, and should be adjusted as time passes and the consensus potentially changes. Tparameter (talk) 04:15, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Not at all - not in the least. And I agree with you. But where I differ from my mainstream colleagues is that I think an article of minority interest (eg homeopathy) should be reported on as an article on that topic, not dismissed and poo-pooed by mainstream editors in the body of the lead. I suggested that such articles should report faithfully the viewpoint of the believers, and THEN the criticism should be documented - that way a seeker can find out what the topic is from the one viewpoint, and then the other. Currently what we see is a line-by-line series of statements and opposing statements or qualifications. This has two effects: firstly we see confusing writing, secondly we have edit-warring. Contentious editors contend. If we were to separate clearly, there would be no need to revert a (referenced) opinion, but merely add to concensus at the appropriate part of the topic. Which also means that a bad-faith editor can be quickly identified, and removed. Seems quite simple a concept to me. Thoughts? docboat (talk) 04:29, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
You obviously have a sound intellect and your points are very good. However, I disagree with some of your opinion. I am afraid that an encyclopedia has to have a point of view, and that point of view should strive to be neutral. In the case of fringe views, they should be reported as such, according to the weight of opinion - and they should be reported this way first and foremost. This way, students seeking basic information will get a "safer" version, if you will. While it could be a version that will seem ridiculous in posterity, it will be a version that represents consensus views today. In terms of the general point that I think you're making - I do like the idea of allowing for clearly expressed opinions from various points of view. But, it should be reflected accurately by the weight of each respective viewpoint. Tparameter (talk) 04:58, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Ok Doc, I see what the problem is, and it is a recurrent problem. You do not understand NPOV, and you do not understand LEAD. It is not up to us to decide what the mainstream is, or what is science, or if it is fair, or open-minded, or reasonable or whatever. We just report it. According to NPOV and LEAD. End of story. --Filll (talk) 04:38, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

<sigh> Whatever floats your boat, Filll </sigh> Tell you what, why don't you pop over to my talk page, or email me, so we can thrash out a few misconceptions floating around? I would appreciate that. docboat (talk) 07:10, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Per WP:CRYSTAL: "While scientific and cultural norms continually evolve, we cannot anticipate that evolution but must wait for it to happen." More broadly, all the policies necessary to deal with promoters of fringe theories are in place; the problem is the community's refusal to apply those policies. Raymond Arritt (talk) 04:43, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

The DGG Challenge: All you need is WP:AGF and wikilove[edit]

DGG's Claim[edit]

This is cross-posted from the homeopathy talk page

For what its worth, I think we should accept her latest list unmodified. Someone should simply expand it into an adequately sized article using the material already there. and then we sensible people can join in trying to keep it. Strange. Before i came to WP , I had quite a lot of experience arguing with bigots about science. They were defenders of such ideas as homeopathy, creationism, psychic phenomena, and related follies. I could at least understand why they were unable to resort to rational argument, as the views were in fact not rationally defensible. But it was interesting figuring it out from a sociological point of view why people would believe such things. I know many people who have various delusions and it does not affect their moral worth as people.

But I came here, and i found the worst bigots were the ones of the rational side of the arguments. They were arguing as if nobody would believe scientific evidence if it were fairly presented, as if the only way to show ignorance for what it is was to suppress it, or at least give it only a little space and then paste labels over it. Everything I know about the world convinces me of the correctness of the scientific world view and the validity of its methods of argument. Everything I know about people convinces me that the least effective way to support a good cause is to act as if it needed to be imposed on an unwilling audience by force.

The reason I avoid this argument (except for brief forays) is like Lisa's. I cannot tolerate watching good people who know science and who want to defend it making fools of themselves. There must be something about WP which causes people to take extreme positions--perhaps it's BRD. It brings out the worst in uncooperative editing. An approach at giving a reasonable approach to writing an article on a subject like this collectively seems to generally get rejected. those who care about rational medicine should try to write this article as Lina suggested, because such an article, being the plain truth, is what will persuade people. The believers in homeopathy will believe as they do regardless. Those who come here for information will get accurate information, and will be able to see how weak the non-scientific arguments are even when they are optimally presented. That's what will convince people if they're rational. If they aren't, nothing can help them -- except having the arguments calmly set out here if they ever want to actually listen. DGG (talk) 05:52, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Filll's Response[edit]

Let me say at the outset that I like DGG. I have known DGG a long time and I think I recall voting to support his bid to be an admin. I trust DGG and his judgement in many ways, although we have our differences on some issues.
and for that matter I consider Filll one of the more reasonable people here, if somewhat impulsive. DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

The AGF Claim[edit]

However, I have seen the attitude he expresses above over and over and over. The fault is always on the side of the rationalists, on the side of the pro-science community, etc. Somehow it is claimed that the problems are all on "our" pro-science side (and some certainly are) because we are not nurturing enough or tolerant enough or WP:AGF of those with WP:FRINGE views. By opposing WP:FRINGE views we have caused all this disruption and unproductivity. All that is required to make everyone on Wikipedia productive is to join hands and sing Kumbaya or "We are the World", and give out lots of wikilove and WP:AGF. And those opposing WP:FRINGE views and undue influence and imbalance are evil people and bigots, who deserve everything that has happened to them.
I've seen a lot of articles where the fault is the other way round, and I've seen a good number where everyone participating is equally unproductive. I was discussing of course a particular situation at a particular article. Judging from the history, a year ago the science people were having a hard time of it there. DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Not sure I agree with AGF Claim[edit]

I respectfully disagree, at least in part. I think part of the difficulty is either (1) the anti-WP:FRINGE community is not as skilled socially and adept as those who are making this WP:AGF argument and/or (2) those making the WP:AGF argument are unaware of the depth of the problem. To deal with both of (1) and (2), I propose a challenge I will dub the "DGG Challenge".

Comparison of DGG and Filll[edit]

Although DGG is a good editor and a good administrator and has a wide range of skills, I do not think he has spent much time in the swamps. I look at his contributions and he has a large number of edits, but few involved with building or defending and patrolling a controversial article under concerted WP:FRINGE attack. For comparison, we both started on Wikipedia at roughly the same time, but I have almost 10 edits per page, and about 25000 edits including about 11400 mainspace edits. DGG has about 28400 edits and only 1.75 edits per page, and 8325 mainspace edits. The most number of edits to any mainpage DGG has is about 60; on any article talk page about 40. These are on noncontroversial topics. I have several mainspace pages on which I have several hundred edits, and several sandbox pages on which I have several hundred edits, building the encyclopedia, often on contentitious and controversial topics. Similarly, I have several article talk pages on which I have made several hundred edits, including controversial pages like evolution and evolution related pages, intelligent design, homeopathy and black people. A huge difference in experience, frankly.
Filll is quite right. I do not make substantial edits to controversial articles where i have a strong POV. I have done a few such mediations, but always on topics that do not greatly affect my passions. Nor do I work on building up articles to GA status--I find it more critical to do something about the ones on the bottom. I did try editing evolution when I came here, and the evolutionists chased me away, saying in effect that I was a traitor because i was suggesting that the other side use better arguments. That has somewhat affected my subsequent actions here. DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Intro to DGG Challenge[edit]

Sometimes the WP:FRINGE people are like scientologists who will stop at nothing to harass, including using legal means or hacking or private investigators or allegedly even worse. Sometimes the WP:FRINGE elements are like intelligent design proponents who raise armies of sock puppets and meat puppets and canvass for them at meetings and websites and even have a paid publicity firm involved (the "Swift boat ad" firm in Virginia).
I suggest that DGG, to either show us how WP:AGF will solve all problems, and how to do it, or to learn more about what he constantly lectures about, should try to apply his theories and principles and demonstrate that they work in practice. Theory is great, but then there is practice. And pretend I am from Missouri: Show me.

DGG Challenge[edit]

To this end, I suggest that DGG adopt a controversial article of moderate intensity like homeopathy. The test should be to forge a better article than now presently exists that satisfies all the WP:FRINGE elements circulating around the project, and keep it stable and maybe even get it to FA status.
  • I suggest that all other editors and admins that oppose undue and excessive WP:FRINGE material in Wikipedia and in particular in homeopathy should leave the article alone for the duration of the challenge/experiment/test.
  • I suggest that the test last at least 6 months.
  • I suggest that the article be completely unprotected for the duration of the test
  • I suggest that DGG refrain from using his administrative tools or resorting to any administrative remedies such as RfC, RfAr, Mediators, etc during the test. If he has to do so, it should only be as a last resort after a good solid month of other efforts, and he should file all the paperwork and diffs required and gather the certifications required himself.
I have never in my life taken formal action about any article. I wouldnt know how to do it. i joined in one RfC on userconduct, which convinced me that they were bad ideas in general. If you'lll look at my log, you'll see what I do with my tools, which is almost entirely removing total garbage and sometimes blocking in connection with that.DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I suggest that DGG patrol the article for at least 8 hours per day.
Unfortunately, the real world is still with me, and, having a deadline for a talk about wikipedia, I will not be around much the next week or so. DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I suggest that DGG work at an intensity level to compile at least 500 edits on the mainspace page over the duration of the test. These can be either vandalism fighting, or article improvements.
  • I suggest that DGG not violate 3RR, and maybe self-impose a 1RR restriction.
I use 2RR generally--if I havent made my point by then, time to try another day.DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
At the end of the test period, the product should be evaluated by a neutral outside panel, mutually agreed upon, for the satisfaction of WP:UNDUE and WP:NPOV, WP:LEAD etc. It should be compared against the version of the article which first achieved GA status.
DGG can do as he stated above; start from the list of Lina's he is referring to above, or build off the current article, to create a better article that is more pleasing to the WP:FRINGE elements by the application of WP:AGF alone, and still meets the needs and requirements and policies of Wikipedia. The WP:FRINGE community should also be polled at the end to see that an overwhelming majority are satisfied with the article and the portrayal of homeopathy.


That is my proposed challenge. I think if he or a like-minded admin accepts, we should watch and learn. One way or another, we will learn something, or someone will. And I think it would be very interesting.
The question is, will one of these believers in the great WP:AGF faith step up to the plate? Or demur and back away? --Filll (talk) 14:12, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
these are just comments. If I ever accepted a role as a mediator, i would make my own suggestions about how. But guidelines for the article would be easy--I would just copy Lina's. If you want a good article, just do exactly as she suggested. DGG (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Those are good comments. I think we want to get the widest range of ideas and inputs here while we consider this more from an abstract meta role, trying to understand exactly how best to manage WP and article creation and management, particularly in controversial areas.--Filll (talk) 02:43, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Other discussion of DGG challenge[edit]

AGF and wikilove are part of the problem. The pov-warriors (whatever side they take, in whatever battles they choose) are here to promote their agenda by gaming the system the best they can. To them AGF is a means to play the victim when they're caught, something to accuse others of not following (even when the pov-warriors themselves assume bad faith of anyone that stands in their way). Wikilove is what the pov-warriors take advantage of when they face blocks, when they point out that others might be doing the same or worse, or that they just need a mentor or a new start. --Ronz (talk) 17:08, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

It does seem like that. But then we have wikilove true believers and those that believe the entire problem is not enough WP:AGF. So I am willing to entertain that suggestion. Show me you are right. Let's be scientists here. Don't just lecture me. Show me.--Filll (talk) 17:12, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Ever look at the Ilena/Fyslee ArbCom? --Ronz (talk) 17:14, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Toothless. Editor under sanctions actively edits through meatpuppets who remain unblocked after revelation. PouponOnToast (talk) 17:21, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, pretty much toothless, but shows all the problems I mention, many demonstrated within the Arbcom itself. --Ronz (talk) 17:33, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
No, is it good? Relevant? Interesting? Worthwhile? Where is it?--Filll (talk) 17:17, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree that a general lack of knowledge of WP:GAME is a huge problem. This guideline does not get nearly enough exposure as it deserves, and I recommend exploiting it to the fullest extent. Too often has it been the case that a few trolls gain a foothold in an article by gaming the system, causing enormous upset and disruption before finally being chased off. This has to stop. We need Userpage {{Uw-game}} templates and a cabal of sympathetic administrators willing to intervene early in cases of system-gaming behavior. Silly rabbit (talk) 17:15, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

What is the point of this challenge? It is setting DGG up for ownership, why would we want to do that? The best articles are edited by teams of editors, there should be no reason to patrol an article for eight hours a day. This challenge needs to address how a group of editors work together not how DGG works in an article. David D. (Talk) 17:31, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

and why exactly would I want to own this article? I'd rather keep as far away from it as possible. I commented only in the hope of encouraging my friends to be more reasonable. DGG (talk) 20:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
You wouldn't, that is my point. You would want to edit with a team of others some of whom have a fringe perspective. Not on your own with only fringe editors. David D. (Talk) 20:59, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
That is part of my point. This is something DGG would not want to do, and I have done similar things in the past and I would definitely not want to do. Even a decline is instructive I think, but all part of considering the question about how best to manage these kinds of situations.--Filll (talk) 02:47, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

You are not quite getting the point. DGG has stated repeatedly (and others have as well) that the reason there is trouble on these WP:FRINGE and controversial science topics is that the pro-science and antiWP:FRINGE community is not able to work with WP:FRINGE proponents as part of a team, with consensus and cooperation, to build an encyclopedia.
This is a modification of my previous invitations or expressed wishes for WP:FRINGE editors to themselves to form a team to produce a better article. This is slightly modified because it would be a team of WP:FRINGE editors together with DGG, suitably restricted in his actions, but well-armed with WP:AGF and wikilove, to show either (1) how we are doing it all wrong as he claims over and over and/or (2) to learn more about the situation so he can have a more realistic picture of what is going on instead of flitting in and out like a bee visiting flowers, and not hunkering down to do the hard work of (a) building encyclopedia articles (b) forging consensus himself instead of just berating others for not being able to form a consensus (c) educating and/or convincing WP:FRINGE editors regarding the rules and principles under which WP operates (d) protecting and patrolling article long term under attack instead of theorizing about how easy it is and how worthless those who do the heavy lifting are.
The 8 hour figure is arbitrary, but what I mean is that the article should be checked at regular intervals throughout the 24 hour day and not left unattended.
Let me reiterate: I am proposing a team; a team consisting of DGG and these WP:FRINGE proponents. If he can use wikilove and WP:AGF to forge a team and a consensus with long term benefits under these circumstances, I will be mightily impressed and we will all learn something. --Filll (talk) 17:45, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
But why DGG and only one side of the debate? Surely he needs to have all opinions in his team to craft a good article with his approach? Does DGG know this is here? My guess is that his own reply would be more helpful since mine can only guess at his intentions. David D. (Talk) 17:54, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

You are quite correct. It does not have to be DGG. I only put his name on it since I have heard this claim from him several times. I have heard several others make the same assertion. But I know DGG better and his name is easy to type, so I will honor him by naming it after him.

And I do not know if DGG knows this is here or not, but I am sure he will know eventually since he does visit this page from time to time. And he can respond at that point if he so chooses. Or not.

DGG, and the WP:FRINGE proponents as well, have both claimed that the problem is that they do not need the anti-WP:FRINGE and pro-science side on the team, since the pro-science and anti-WP:FRINGE side ruin NPOV and make the articles nonneutral and attack articles etc and that we do not understand NPOV and so on.

So this is an opportunity to test that hypothesis. They make a claim or assertion or conjecture. So let's test it. Let's develop the parameters for a fair test, and test.

After all, are we scientists, or politicians here? Let's be scientists, and do a test. An experiment. And we might learn something instead of just fighting.--Filll (talk) 18:11, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Strike or Boycott[edit]

Cross posted from my talk page--Filll (talk) 18:35, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with everything you just wrote. And it is indeed necessary to pick one's battles. Instead of "boycott" or "strike" we need to use words like "organize" and "pick our battles". There is no shame in deciding we don't have the time, as a group, to fight every unending POV battle on wikipedia. Letting some whole areas "go to the dogs" is not unreasonable given that we have millions of articles and are unpaid. Good luck to you on your online and offline endeavors! WAS 4.250 (talk) 18:24, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I am uncomfortable with the words "strike" and "boycott" since they are inflammatory and not particularly descriptive.

I would however supporting experiments and testing, and investigating different ways to manage and develop articles.

What we have is

  • a system that is currently not working optimally, or some suspect is not as good as it could be
  1. A group of nonmainstream proponents who believe they could do better than what has been achieved so far using their strategies and methods
  2. A group of WP admins and editors who believe that the problem is not enough wikilove and WP:AGF and that if there was more wikilove and WP:AGF that we would achieve better results using their strategies and methods.

So why not let group (1) or group (2) or both demonstrate that what they claim is true? Or why not brainstorm to see if other methods and strategies are more efficient for developing and managing articles, particularly in controversial areas?

That is all. --Filll (talk) 18:33, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

The wonderful thing about Wikipedia is that there is no covenant not to compete--strikes and boycotts are unnecessary when you can simply go somewhere else. ~ UBeR (talk) 20:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
In fact, you can even do both. And there is nothing whatever to keep from copying their article here., or vice-versa. The licenses, though not identical, are essentially compatible, at least for text. DGG (talk) 03:08, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
No question about it. And in fact I think Jimbo said something similar when Citizendium was announced. All these wikis are valuable, particularly if they have interchangable licenses.--Filll (talk) 03:32, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Article probation[edit]

Cross posted from User: Jehochman's talk page: Homeopathy is being considered for article probation, but I wonder if this a good idea?--Filll (talk) 21:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

You think that is the way to go? I am not so sure, but maybe.--Filll (talk) 20:38, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Let's try. If it doesn't work, we can undo it. Jehochman Talk 20:40, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Well the problem is not so much incivility. There is a group, represented by User:Orangemarlin and User: Peter morrell for example, that is not always civil, but who cares? They are productive and are willing and able to follow the rules and they have demonstrated this, and as far as I am concerned, that is the main thing.

However, there is a second group, consisting of a good half dozen or more "regulars" on the homeopathy pages, and a few socks, anons, meats, etc that appear and disappear, that are (1) unproductive (2) reject ideas to try to make things productive or cooperative or bury the page in text spew repeating the same nonsense over and over so we are flooded with garbage and cannot function and (3) are unable and / or unwilling to follow the rules and procedures of Wikipedia.

I do not know if the administrative structions can handle or are even aware of the second group, since they are civil. The administrative procedures go after the first group, because they are easy to spot, particularly when one says something like "You are a flaming $#^%*!!". The system "works" and targets people from group 1, but over and over and over, ignores people from group 2.

It is just too hard and too much effort to sanction people from group two, compared to people from group one. So that is what the system does; it follows the easy path.

And we get what we get. Now by being even more aggressive, will the attention be focused on group one or group two? Cracking down on group one harder will do NOTHING that is needed. It is group two that is our root problem. --Filll (talk) 21:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I will point out that there are other groups involved on all sides that are not uncivil or disruptive, or trying to forge a consensus etc.--Filll (talk) 21:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Analysis of Article Probation[edit]

Now that the homeopathy articles are under probation, things might calm down on those articles, however, will the articles improve?

  • When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And that is what article probation is; a blunt instrument.
  • If admins are going to be more aggressive about enforcing NPOV etc, I am not hopeful. Many of the homeopathy proponents are subverting NPOV, pushing unreliable or discredited studies, using unreliable sources, and pushing this same material 10, 20, 50 times after it was shot down. They just bury the opposition, and wear them out, or get the opposition to lash out in less than civil manner after they hear the same discussion many many times. However, an admin coming to this discussion without being familiar with the science, or the history of the page, will of course just go with the homeopathy proponents with their volumes of information and mostly civil manner.
  • If article probation is the only path to a quality article, why did intelligent design and evolution make it there without article probation?
  • I fear that admins like this tool because it gives them more power and they can stamp out incivility. But incivility is not the problem. It is the baiting and the refusal to listen to the countervailing arguments and to compromise, and to agree what is a WP:RS, and abide by things like WP:LEAD and WP:FRINGE and WP:NPOV.
  • As Jim62sch and others have pointed out, how do we know what is a homeopathy article? Charles Darwin took a homeopathy remedy for a while and then abandoned it because it did not work. This lead homeopathy proponents to introduce a paragraph or two about homeopathy into the Darwin article, and have announced, with administrator support, that it is their intention to put homeopathy into every single biography of every single famous person that ever tried it. And announced that they want separate homeopathy miniarticles in every substance that is used in homeopathy remedies (does this include sugar and water? ) How many hundreds, or thousands or tens of thousands of articles with minihomeopathy sections in them would this be? Will admins stop this? At least one or two now is promoting this. There is no consensus and no agreement and no compromise about what to do here, and I think it is vital.

All in all, I do not predict that this will be beneficial without coming to terms with some of the underlying problems we need to agree on things like:

  • how many minihomeopathy articles are reasonable and where.
  • what is NPOV here

and similar things, not on stomping on X because he called Y's profession a load of  %$^^&%.--Filll (talk) 14:12, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, the first thing to get straight is that we have to be unfailingly civil, almost to the point of unctuous ingratiation. Nothing else will work because the admins calling for probation have stated that they don't care about content, only conduct. Experience shows the homeopaths will try to goad others into losing their cool. Don't take the bait. Raymond Arritt (talk) 14:19, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes clearly so. I am intending to participate even less than I was already participating because it is just going to be too dangerous. If others do what I am intending to do, it will be in effect a version of the expert strike on homeopathy.

Also, what is interesting to me is that the WP:AGF only medicine did not cure the patient, so the prescription is to give 10 times as much of the same WP:AGF medicine and see if this works.--Filll (talk) 14:33, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Are you suggesting that diluting WP:AGF to nothing be more potent? Now you're sounding like the homeopaths :) Sorry i couldn't resist. And i see the flaws in my argument. David D. (Talk) 16:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

That is a good joke. What I am suggesting, in everything I have written on this issue, is that we have to experiment and do tests and see the results. And then we might learn something. To claim that the entire problem with WP is that we do not WP:AGF enough, and that is destroying the project, really is just a bit of an untested and unproven hypothesis to me. Let's formulate some other hypotheses and try them and see the results. Let's do trial and error and learn something, instead of some politically correct proclamations.

Of course we can enforce WP:AGF. But will it result in better articles?--Filll (talk) 16:38, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

if anyone is actually proposing to start ignoring AGF, "as an experiment," they will probably find themselves blocked. Experimenting in this way with WP will most likely be considered disruption. DGG (talk) 20:07, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
Would you consider calling other editors "stubborn" the kind of thing that would be "disruptive?" PouponOnToast (talk) 20:18, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
No, one has to do much more than that, to violate NPA. I suggest not making the experiment :). DGG (talk) 22:55, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
So somewhere between "shit eating dicklicker" and "stubborn" is the kind of name that I can expect to be called by people on "probation?" How about "pov-warrior?" PouponOnToast (talk) 22:56, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
(ec)You might want to scroll a couple of sections up to see the experiment he's referring to - it's in fact quite the opposite, to see if AGF and wikilove alone can make a good article. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 20:19, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
When did I ever use the term "wikilove"? I do accept that I usually do assume good faith, because how can one make progress otherwise? Bu maybe I use the term too much, and maybe I sometimes use it with an ironic implication. If you need to say someone is editing in good faith, it tends to mean that you think he's editing wrongly. DGG (talk) 23:07, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
I personally have never seen DGG use the term "wikilove". I added it to add a little levity to the more serious question here about how best to manage our portfolio of resources, editors and articles.--Filll (talk) 02:50, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes exactly. I want to see if using HUGE amounts of AGF and wikilove and tolerance of newbies and trolling and socks etc will help. Some claim it will. Let's see.

Also, some are claiming that using words like "stubborn" or phrases like "homeopathy promoter" are uncivil, and people who use those uncivil phrases are not AGF and should therefore be blocked. Ok, fair enough. I do not think I buy it. I just start to wonder if we are not taking things too far?

I would NOT say we need the wild west here with no AGF rules at all. However, I have said repeatedly I respect someone like User: Peter morrell, who is occasionally uncivil and a homeopathy supporter but a world expert in homeopathy and very productive here, FAR more than some homeopathy supporters who are incredibly civil, but just unproductive, and working at cross purposes to NPOV, LEAD, FRINGE, RS etc.

I think the goal should be productivity and efficiency over all, not a wikilove festival. Of course if things are too uncivil and not enough AGF is used, the project productivity will probably suffer as well, because people will not want to join or stay or contribute.

It is a tradeoff. All I am arguing for is an open mind, and a willingness to test our assumptions, and make sure we understand the difference between the goals and the means. AGF is not a goal in itself and should not be. It is only helpful if it helps us meet the real goal, which is productivity.

And if we dump someone like Peter morrell who is productive and a contributor but sometimes uncivil, we will suffer on the productivity end, but maybe have a more civil environment. See? I would keep Peter and his occasional exasperated outbursts over several others I could name who do not have outbursts, but are not at ALL productive and not working within the WP framwork and policies.

Is that clearer?--Filll (talk) 20:28, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

While a wikilove vs tough love test would be neat, it seems to me productive to see if the German's are really having more success. A 'panel' of scientists who have experience at both the English vs the German Wikipedias could see if Speculations regarding German Wikipedia is applicable. Maybe the Germans have the right or at least most efficient approach. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 21:04, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia Institute of Management Studies[edit]

Does such a thing exist, under this name or another? Should such a thing exist? A central clearing house for studies of the functioning of WP and its growth or change, and how it responds to various policies and management strategies and directives? If such a thing does not exist, it should feature essays/papers and surveys etc to try to get feedback and information for more optimally managing this enterprise. Comments?--Filll (talk) 02:37, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Some members of Wikipedia Review have made superficial efforts in this direction. Some academic studies of wikipedia exist on the net and can be found with google searches. The trouble is that careful studies are either limited in scope or out of date; and most of what exists in the way of evaluation is anecdotal and biased. What is needed is funding to do a constant ever updated impartial evaluation. Wikimedia is just now getting its act together enough to be able to approach other existing nonprofits with grant proposals for things like this. WAS 4.250 (talk) 10:52, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Wikipedia in academic studies for published academic articles about wikipedia. --Salix alba (talk) 11:57, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

I have found a pocket of this kind of activity here. I have collected a few links and placed them at User:Filll/Wikipedia Research if anyone else is interested. These projects and pages might not be too active, but they do exist; maybe they just need to be revitalized!--Filll (talk) 02:04, 4 April 2008 (UTC)‎

I think that it would be valuable if we formed such an organization internally to start collecting pointers to these resources, and featuring our own essays etc and doing surveys etc.--Filll (talk) 15:15, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Striking example of wikilove[edit]

Now this is what I am talking about !--Filll (talk) 15:17, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Another perfect example, as I am accused of WP:SYN:[2]. So...--Filll (talk) 17:31, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

I notice the talk page there is now being spammed, as it has been for months on end, with nonsense, and now it appears as though a new account is involved. As I have seen several times before. Hmm...--Filll (talk) 17:47, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Fill, part of the nonsense there is your misunderstanding of the methods of statistical meta-analysis. No evidence of efficacy is not evidence of lack of efficacy. DGG (talk) 05:01, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Actually it can be. The logic behind it is a tad complicated, but when you've actually looked for evidence and failed to find it, this is in actuality evidence against. I wrote up a blog post on it a while back I'll just direct you to for the long version: [3]. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Infophile (talkcontribs) 05:04, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Resp DGG, I went to a very enlightening talk on meta-analysis once and one of the things complained about was lack of negative studies. Lack of data will skew the results of a meta-analysis. This is especially important in things like tests for new cancer drugs which generally only have a small percentage of improvement. A few missing negative studies could make the difference between a drug being approved or not. --Salix alba (talk) 08:27, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Tests and meta-analyses are needed to make good judgments when a treatment has a plausible mode of action. As for homeopathy... Raymond Arritt (talk) 10:27, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

As I pointed out on the talk page, and pointed out many other places, it is impossible to "prove" that homeopathy does not work. Proof and truth are for mathematics and logic, not science.

In science, you can either find evidence, or no evidence. If you find no evidence, you can report "no evidence", which is what you should do. If you find evidence, you can report "evidence" which is what you should do. If you find that your study and/or other studies were faulty and so you cannot report evidence or no evidence, you should report "we were incompetent and designed faulty studies...oops".

Now I have not read the study or studies in question. However, my understanding from others that have read these studies is that there are some results in the study constitute "no evidence", and some that might be in the "we have such lousy studies we cannot say anything" category. This should be reported carefully and accurately, for what they are. If any study finds no evidence, you should not report it as "we have such lousy studies that we cannot say anything".

And why is Wikipedia using reports that completely consist entirely of "we have such lousy studies that we cannot say anything"? Surely after millions of dollars of effort in dozens of countries for decades, we have some decent studies we can report on, which either produced either "evidence" or "no evidence". I find it hard to believe that all of these studies are designed badly or neglected some important part of the homeopath's procedure to make it work. Seems a bit odd to me somehow...--Filll (talk) 15:42, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Anyone surprised?[edit]

[4]. No further comment necessary. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 05:19, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Give up and join the boycott until admins are left with managing their own creation. Until it is content over civility, the civil editwarrers will win. Shot info (talk) 05:26, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I've already signed up for the boycott. I just wasn't aware it had actually started. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 05:29, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
No time like now! Shot info (talk) 05:46, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
You guys are really boycotting? For real? And if so, by what criteria and when would you come back? If already written, just point me... ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 05:58, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
As a start you can add your names to here. Shot info (talk) 06:19, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Silly. The community isn't going to throw out Civility. A far better solution would be to try to work within the established guidelines and be Civil about it.Wjhonson (talk) 05:06, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
No, the community certainly isn't going to throw out civility. No-one here is suggesting that. But it will throw out content. What does dispute resolution prioritise? Mostlyharmless (talk) 22:52, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately the established guidelines are being ignored by admins as they only monitor civil. So content suffers by admin ignorance. How to fix it? Admins need to overcome their ignorance of the subject matter, rather than rewarding the civil POVpusher. Easy solution but most admins are pushing back because they realise it requires some effort on their behalf and most are only after the kudos anyway... Shot info (talk) 22:57, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I have to agree with Raymond (if he actually said this): you're handing over a huge issue when you essentially forgo civility or set up an either-content-or-civility dichotomy. Civility enables you to persuade other people, which is why it's important in this sort of environment. Incivility is much more apparent at a quick glance than things like tendentious editing, POV-pushing, etc assuming they are done with any degree of subtlety. Why shoot yourself in the foot and make it easy for people to ignore what you (we) have to say? MastCell Talk 23:01, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

There wouldn't be much of a problem if the incivility level that got you punished involved something along the level of cursing out other editors. However, the bar seems to be much lower. Simple sarcasm is out of the question, even when used to illustrate a point. In my case, I originally used that comment to make a point about how irrelevant and subjective arguments about a category being a pejorative are. When Arion repeated the same argument he'd used before (even though it was addressed), I repeated my illustrative sarcasm. However, since I figured it wasn't necessary to put in the disclaimer about the intent of it a second time (I was wrong), it was deemed uncivil.
Meanwhile, Dana Ullman gets his sarcasm/snideness defended by his mentor. He might not have gotten away with that on any page relating to Homeopathy, but if that behavior is at all uncivil, it shouldn't be defended like that by an admin. On the other hand, if that doesn't qualify as uncivil, why did I get banned for a similar act? You see how nebulous the bar is for incivility? --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 23:42, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Yes, incivility is inherently subjective and arbitrarily defined, which is why I hate the idea of blocking or sanctioning solely based on incivility. But the underlying problem remains: regardless of whether you're blocked, banned, or patted on the back by a sympathetic mentor, incivility erodes one's credibility and ability to get things done. I've learned this the hard way (I'm still learning) - but WP:CIVIL is not the enemy here. MastCell Talk 23:45, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
You are correct, WP:CIVIL isn't the issue, the issue is admins rewarding POV-pushing by civil editors. NPOV loses, content loses, the encyclopedia loses. But heck, it's a nice civil place... Shot info (talk) 23:53, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Simple sarcasm is out of the question, even when used to illustrate a point.' this is a problem with online media, what you may mean in jest can be taken a very different way. All the subtle body language and voice inflections are lost. Many problems arise when an statement is miss-interpreted. --Salix alba (talk) 23:56, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
(ec)While I agree pretty much with what you're saying, it does raise one subtle problem: If incivility is subjective, it's all too easy for some person to go to a point which doesn't cross their own threshold of what counts as incivility, but does cross someone else's threshold. Even if you think you're holding yourself in check enough, someone else might not think so. The only way to avoid this is to be unerringly polite, but human nature prevents perfect politeness in situations like this where frustrations tend to build. Personally, I tend to become sarcastic when frustrated, and though this doesn't cross my personal threshold for incivility, apparently it does for others. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 23:58, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
All, here's an example of the paralysis that comes from the "civil POV-pusher" and what to do with him/her [5]. Shot info (talk) 00:27, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

A nice example of wikilove[edit]

Adam has left [6]. What is interesting is that Adam C was a strong pro-science editor and admin and pro-science proponent. And I have recently seen an anti-science admin abuse his position in several ways, but not a whisper of dissent was raised. Interesting...--Filll (talk) 02:17, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Administrators are above, and immune to, any accusations that anyone may bring against them. So no surprise really, just a sad loss that another productive editor was sacrificed instead of wikipedia (that's all of of us) taking a good close look at what's going wrong. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 02:49, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Well, that seems to miss the point here, since Adam is (was) an administrator, and was hardly "immune". Quite the opposite. MastCell Talk 03:53, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
The point, I think, is the confusion of roles with people. Which Adam was it that left? The productive editor or the admin accused of abusing his position? --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 04:05, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

That is the point of this page; to sound the alarm bell that we have to look at this project carefully and see if there are things we could be doing better, instead of just stumbling along blindly.

Adam was a very helpful contributor. The case over which he was raked over the coals was frankly ridiculous; the editor in question has never come back to make a single edit. And frankly, since I was the editor who was mainly dealing with Mathew Hoffman, he was clearly just an uncivil POV pusher, the kind that are a dime a dozen on creationism articles. Over and over and over, the same nonsense is repeated and repeated and repeated. I still have seen no evidence whatsoever that Mathew Hoffman is anything more than what he appears to be; a time waster, a sock puppet, a wild-eyed creationist frantic to turn Wikipedia into a religious recruiting tract.

A sad ugly case. Adam suffered through more than 2 months of vilification with two RfCs and weeks on end of Arbcomm proceedings. And in the two RfCs the community supported him, but to Arbcomm, this was irrelevant.

Attacking Adam did nothing but to get rid of a productive editor. How much is a productive editor worth? How many potential productive editors are there, among the newbies, POV warriors, sock puppets, meat puppets, drive by editors, anons, etc?--Filll (talk) 03:05, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Hey, you're preaching to the converted. ;-) But to put a price on it, one administrator is worth spit compared to one productive editor. Just a pity that productive editors are so easily discouraged, whereas unproductive and incompetent administrators appear to stick like desperate limpets to their status. "Admin is no no big deal?". Absolutely agree, it's a big joke. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 03:22, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

So we have to force the system to understand what it is doing, inadvertantly or otherwise.--Filll (talk) 03:33, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 03:44, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

There appears to be lots of language translation software apps available. . . are there any that convert uncivil english to civil english? I think it might be funny, if not done very well, so that it was obvious when it was used. R. Baley (talk) 04:14, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

I doubt that I would understand the translation any better than the original. Who invented this idea of "incivility" anyway? How old were they? Did they live in California? --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 04:30, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Hmm, well there is a project to build a Stupid Filter. Not the same thing as incivility, but an interesting tangent. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 06:07, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
You don't need to translate into civil english, you just have to learn a gospel of impervious denseness by rote like the anti-science editors have. Passive-aggressive to the max, the object is to make it look like you're the victim of persecution while you're beating up the opposition with a sledgehammer of tedious repetitive non-communicative blather. It's what they do, and we can do it too. Just keep writing short, over-vague pseudoquestions in response to the nonsense. Let them do all the writing of long responses, let them rant and let them lose their tempers and step over the line. The difficulty for science lies in the fact that all scientists are by definition elitist because they are an elite. Most science graduates have sweated through too many lectures and broken their eyes with too many books to let some yahoo from a bible-reading circle claim that he/she is an equal (in the field of the scientists study).--AkselGerner (talk) 22:47, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

RfC on Adam's Departure[edit]

I wonder if we should start an RfC on the entire Adam episode; 2 months of Arbcomm proceedings, two RfCs, Arbcomm ignoring the community input, the creation of a test case with voting beginning less than 12 hours later with no evidence, the person who urged the test case calling editors "dogs" and worse, and then disappearing, the other arbcomm members and hangers-on frantically defending this "uncivil" behavior at all costs, raking Adam over the coals over and over and over for weeks on end, etc. I think that it might be a nice way of gathering community input on this entire "test case" situation. Good idea or bad?--Filll (talk) 16:01, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

From somewhat of an outsider, I think this would be a good idea. For one thing, it would almost certainly bring more eyes on the case, and consolidate the various threads of this affair into one place. I know you were involved in this Filll, as were a number of other regulars around here. But I for one would like to see the whole affair carefully laid out. An RfC would be a good start. Silly rabbit (talk) 16:08, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
Just to point the obvious, the evidence is currently being vanished.[7] Adam's right to vanish is entirely reasonable, whether he chooses to return under a new identity as an ordinary editor is up to him. A RfC on the principle seems possible, but we'd have to leave Adam out of it. .. dave souza, talk 17:21, 9 February 2008 (UTC)
I think Fills idea is a good one. I don't know Adam, I have seen him around of course but never communicated with him. I think that there are too many being poked with a stick lately. Just for the record, I am not involved in any of this though I did just post about Adam leaving recently. I think a lot of editors are retiring (leaving) and so are regular editors. I am not a professional but I think maybe the boycott would work if done correctly and with care. Of course this is just my opinion of things. --CrohnieGalTalk 17:38, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

I think if we treated the RfC as a referendum of sorts to gather community input on this seemingly unusual case, I think it would be good. We need to express our opinions I think and expose the details that stretched out over more than 2 months to public examination.

I am not suggesting necessarily that there be any consequences for anyone involved, but I want us to contemplate carefully what steps were taken in this case, and why. It seems to me that Adam was a valuable contributor, and we have driven him away, over an unwillingness to forge a reasonable compromise. I think few would have been able to stand up to the scrutiny and opprobrium that was leveled at Adam.

Of course, every person that was ever blocked by Adam or was in a dispute with Adam or subject to a warning by Adam appeared to attack him as this dragged on and on. Of course, any Admin who is actually doing the real work of an administrator is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, and I dare say that almost no current administrator would be able to pass a new RfA given the inevitable bad feelings that accumulate.

As someone who was frequently defended by Adam, I want to express my appreciation for his contributions.

I see some sort of a double standard here:

  • Mathew Hoffman could make uncivil statements and engage in disruptive editing, and this was viewed as no violation of civility and was defended by the "power elite"
  • Arbcomm members could also make uncivil comments during this proceeding and this was viewed as no violation of civility and defended by the "power elite"
  • The standards for incivility for established editors who are not part of the "power elite" are much lower however. If I had called the Arbcomm members the same sort of names that they called regular editors, I would probably have been sanctioned.
  • It appears the rules of "civility at all costs" only apply to certain Wikipedia editors and admins. Applying these "civility at all costs" rules unevenly sends a terrible message.
  • That Arbcomm would violate their own rules in a seemingly egregious fashion multiple times in the course of this case seems highly irregular. I personally would at least like to see an acknowledgement of this and a resolution on their part to learn from this and try to avoid its repetition.
  • Wikipedia is not a dictatorship. We are volunteering our time to contribute to this enterprise. Administrators are not supposed to be "more equal than others", and Arbcomm members are not supposed to be "more equal than others". So in light of this, I think the input of the community is warranted and should be collected.--Filll (talk) 19:52, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Driving our best away[edit]

As I contemplate some of what I have seen over the last year or so, I notice that we seem to have a bad habit of driving some of our most productive editors away or discouraging them from participating. I find this quite troubling, and I would like to see if we can think of ways to reduce this. The examples I am thinking of include:

In 3 of these cases, it was done to bend over backwards to accommodate allegedly "new" editors who were engaging in disruptive behavior and seemingly not acting in good faith. In one case, our own standards for RfA have become exceedingly high because we are afraid of making mistakes. The reason we are afraid of making mistakes is that the checks and balances on administrative powers are not particularly good and probably could stand some reexamination to avoid mistakes. --Filll (talk) 19:58, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Actually I don't think that the standards at RfA are particularly high at all; rather they're entirely arbitrary and rather easily worked around by anyone who wants to be an admin badly enough to do (or not do) certain things in the preceding three months, and then subject themself to the ritual humiliation that RfA has become. If there were proper checks and balances in place then the process could be streamlined to reflect the obvious untruth that's all too frequently trotted out, that being an admin "is no big deal". It's quite clearly a "very big deal" to far too many administrators. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 20:50, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

The policy is already there[edit]

Back in the wonderful good old days, the founding fathers of Wikipedia wrote a constitution, and called it WP:V, WP:OR and WP:NPOV, and complimented V with WP:RS.

Wikipedia:NPOV says to use "the practice of good and unbiased research, based upon the best and most reputable authoritative sources available."

Wikipedia:Verifiability says "In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny involved in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the evidence and arguments of a particular work, the more reliable it is."

Wikipedia:Reliable sources says "Wikipedia relies heavily upon the established literature created by scientists, scholars and researchers around the world. Items that fit this criterion are usually considered reliable. However, they may be outdated by more recent research, or controversial in the sense that there are alternative scholarly explanations. Wikipedia articles should point to all major scholarly interpretations of a topic.

  • The material has been thoroughly vetted by the scholarly community. This means published in peer-reviewed sources, and reviewed and judged acceptable scholarship by the academic journals.
  • Items that are recommended in scholarly bibliographies are preferred.
  • Items that are signed are more reliable than unsigned articles because it tells whether an expert wrote it and took responsibility for it"

WP:NPOV needs to be enforced with respect to WP:V and WP:RS. It currently isn't. Instead of censuring users for ignoring these policies, administrators and arbitrators themselves ignore them.

Wikipedia policy gives weight to scholarly sources.

These are the so-called pillars of Wikipedia, but administrators and Arbcom having been refusing to enforce V and RS for a very long time, refusing to privilege scholarly sources, ruling that V and RS disputes are "content disputes". They need to enforce policy or go home. Mostlyharmless (talk) 05:27, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Most of our admins and most our editors can't judge a good source from a bad source for a given claim because that is domain specific and we are all limited in what we know and care about. So it always comes down to a discussion on the article page between the very few who care enough to read the contenting sources. We need a content arbcom drawn from academia. WAS 4.250 (talk) 09:00, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Most of our admins and a surprising number of our editors have native intelligence, and are capable of understanding science when it is presented to them well enough. They also have common sense, and are capable of recognizing when an argument is resorting to bluster, denigration of opponents, or appeal to authority. WP is our chance to educate, and scientists who cannot adapt their style to their audience ought necessarily to look for audiences that fir their style. Those who can function best in the formal academic world should work in the formal academic world. Those who can teach the unlearned and gain at least the respect of their opponents should be the ones who work where such talents are most needed. DGG (talk) 02:25, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


Just throwing this one onto the pile. We all know these "editors/admins": WP:Zombies Shot info (talk) 02:54, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Two more ideas (only sort of in jest)[edit]

  • Why do we not have a policy of enforced permanent furlough or sabbatical from Wikipedia, since experienced editors are not favored on Wikipedia, only newbies? Once an editor reaches 10,000 edits, they would have their accounts automatically blocked.
  • Why do we not remove WP:FRINGE, WP:UNDUE and WP:NPOV completely since the powers that be have expressed the clear opinion that we are not interested in enforcing these? Having them on the books is confusing in this case. At the very least, they should be drastically rewritten to allow FRINGE ideas and pseudoscience unimpeded on Wikipedia. If that is what we are going to do, let's make sure our official policies look like what we are actually doing to reduce confusion.--Filll (talk) 16:44, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Exit Interviews[edit]

Another idea I wondered about are exit interviews for WP. Anyone who has been here more than a few months notices that we have a constant dribble of senior established experienced admins and editors walking out the door. Often it is out of frustration with the system. Some have many tens of thousands of edits to their credit. Many are experts in one area or another.

We might perform a very valuable service by creating some sort of system where people could provide some sort of feedback as they leave, take a leave of absense or wikibreak, retire, "tire", or whatever. The feedback could be anonymous, but would not have to be necessarily. It could include a multiple choice set of questions and/or a written section for comments.

I think that many of the frustrations that drive people away never get recorded and fedback into the system, and it might be incredibly valuable for the Foundation or others to know what drove a person with 5 FAs and 10 GAs and 30 DYKs and 80,000 edits and 4 years of experience to leave. And if 5 editors with similar credentials all leave with similar complaints within a few months of each other, this might be valuable for someone to know. The feedback of these people is far more valuable than what some newbie with 100 edits who might edit some more, or might not, thinks of the place. The feedback of one experienced editor is probably worth the feedback of 100 newbies or more, to be honest, since a newbie really is clueless (I know I sure was).

Comments?--Filll (talk) 22:07, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Would this be wise? Letting the crazies know exactly what they have to do in order to drive rationals off Wikipedia is only giving them another weapon. Randy Blackamoor (talk) 22:15, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
I am definitely not suggesting that this data be made public. It could be I suppose, but I am not sure that is a good idea.--Filll (talk) 22:53, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
I would have to say that I find your apparent desire for censorship to be incompatible with a search for "the truth". --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 22:59, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
Indeed. Anyway nobody gives a damn whether established editors leave. Biting the newbies, on the other hand, is expressly forbidden. Raymond Arritt (talk) 22:33, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
I think that's an excellent idea. Is there any data at all available as to why editors leave wikipedia? A standardised questionnaire might well be the start of addressing at least some of what's not working. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 22:31, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

An example of a problem[edit]

Right at the moment on the talk page of homeopathy, disagreeing with the precepts of homeopathy and having critical material about homeopathy in the article is viewed as unCIVIL. Disagreeing with homeopathy supporters is viewed as a personal attack. Abiding by NPOV is viewed as UNCIVIL and a personal attack. NPOV is being redefined. FRINGE is being redefined. If you disagree, you are viewed as mounting a personal attack and being unCIVIL and there are calls for you to be blocked for disagreeing. So in other words, if you want to abide by NPOV, this is viewed as unCIVIL and there are calls for editors who want NPOV enforced to be blocked. In other words kids, we have a problem. If you want to see this in action, go to [8], [9], [10]

Here is an interesting sequence of actions:

  • supporters of homeopathy are constantly trying to wikilawyer and reinterpret the meaning of WP:NPOV, WP:LEAD, WP:FRINGE, WP:RS and other terms and principles that WP operates under. For example, if they can get homeopathy redefined so it is not a FRINGE belief, then they do not have to abide by WP:FRINGE (similar to their efforts to keep it from being defined as pseudoscience or quackery, etc). If they can change the interpretation of WP:LEAD, then nothing negative about homeopathy will have to appear in the first few sentences of the article. And so on and so forth
  • defenders of NPOV and other WP principles answer these charges, over and over, and then they disappear for a few days, only to resurface shortly after for another attempt at reinterpretation, with a lot of the same arguments that were answered and dismissed previously. For example, the question of whether homeopathy is a FRINGE view or not was addressed soundly on March 3, 2008: [11] but then this question was raised again on March 14, 2008: [12], ignoring the previous arguments and discussion as though they never happened. This happens over and over, hundreds of times, and the promoters of homeopathy will just cut and paste the same material over and over and over again, trying to exhaust the patience of the defenders of NPOV etc. This happens not only for FRINGE, but for LEAD, NPOV, RS, NOR and many other WP principles.
  • The discussion reignited, continues on for 2 days to no avail. Then, User: Filll noted that this is similar to what he has seen on the creationism pages, where repeated POV warrior arguments are just removed from the talk pages: [13]. This has been extremely effective on the creationism talk pages and has been useful at removing the energy from these kinds of illogical and irrational and repetitive attacks.
  • Not long after, the increasingly common CIVIL defense is wheeled out to attack User: Filll, claiming that he has violated CIVIL: [14][15][16], and calling for sanctions to be levelled against Filll for daring to challenge the "rights" of homeopathy promoters to spam the talk pages with many many kilobytes of nonsense and repeated dismissed arguments and complaints, over and over and over and over.
  • Filll retreats, not wanting to be blocked for daring to challenge the homeopathy promoters: [17]
  • The homeopathy promoters congratulate each other on a job well done: [18]

Interestingly, the admin User: Jehochman, who is supposedly managing the homeopathy pages to maintain order while it is under probation, does nothing about this somewhat unusual use of CIVIL. There are no warnings. There are no cautions. There are no comments. By inaction, the signal is sent; this use of CIVIL violation threats is perfectly reasonable and permissable and even encouraged. Because CIVIL is more important than ANYTHING else.

I even saw on AN/I a week or two back, Jimbo himself raging about how awful it was for an editor to say someone else was involved in "self promotion" and how uncivil that was and how the editor using the uncivil term "self promoter" should have been blocked for that horrible action. Oh my goodness.

The casual observer is lead to the following conclusions or inferences:

  • There has been a big move to make CIVIL more important in the last few months (I have heard rumors by off-wiki grapevines that this is true)
  • Possibly the potential bad publicity associated with CIVIL violations is making the senior levels of WP nervous
  • Possibly the legal exposure associated with CIVIL violations is making the senior levels of WP nervous

This is all very well and good, but with the current climate in place, we would never have brought evolution and the creationism articles to their current levels. These articles are viewed as valuable resources and are positively reviewed by journalists, courts and academics. They get hundreds of thousands of visits every month. They are something to be proud of. They never would have existed under the current rules of WP, however.

I would like to see what I view as the abuse of CIVIL stop. I want to see other mechanisms developed to deal with disruptive editing that are easier for admins to use. I want to see a better system of checks and balances in place to make admins less fearful of acting, and making it harder for admins to make mistakes.--Filll (talk) 18:26, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Maybe it's time to force the admins' hands. Let's just go ahead and enact what we've been doing with ID/Creationism. If we see yet another thread come up to rehash old points which ignores past arguments, we remove it and simply point to the old thread. The creation of the thread is disruptive editing, not the removal of it. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:31, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Maybe, except possibly blanking posts or userfying them might be viewed as unCIVIL.--Filll (talk) 18:55, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

At this point, I don't think there's any comment we could make on that page that wouldn't run that risk. Even if we suddenly switched sides and agree with them, they'd accuse us of being sarcastic. Going away from there would save ourselves, but it would be sacrificing the article. I'm not prepared to do that quite yet. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 20:30, 17 March 2008 (UTC)
Are utterly groundless accusations really something to fear? If you haven't been uncivil, that's clear to whoever comes to investigate the accusation, isn't it? -GTBacchus(talk) 06:17, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Ask ScienceApologist if they are something to fear. If you have to fight off a new one every week...... Baegis (talk) 07:11, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, but what's involved in "fighting one off"? Ignoring it, right? If you're not uncivil, then nobody can really accuse you of being uncivil without looking very foolish indeed. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:10, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Well I think publicizing this and making it clear there is a problem is valuable. You know, evolution did not really get a chance to improve until we pounded the resistance so badly that it died down. And then people could start to think about improving the article, not just protecting it.--Filll (talk) 20:32, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Try to redirect to old discussions where possible. Make sure you DO link. Or make an FAQ? (or both!) --Kim Bruning (talk) 05:52, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

We have a FAQ now, though it could always be expanded as we see which arguments keep coming up. My current plan to handle repetitive threads is to hide them and put a note redirecting to the most recent discussion about this in the past. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 13:27, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that strategy is good, minus the hiding part. Why not just link to the recent discussion? -GTBacchus(talk) 14:10, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I wrote an FAQ. It probably should be modified as time goes on and we learn what questions are more frequent. We have not yet gone back through the talk page archives to organize them so we can easily find previous arguments. This is a painful task, but clearly very useful. In the past on evolution, I have seen directing people to an argument that has been had 10 times previously is quite effective at shutting them up. Also, unless an admin is really gutless, it should give them the backbone to force the malcontent to stay quiet.--Filll (talk) 13:41, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I just want to echo what GTBacchus said. If there are groundless accusations, ignore them. They can't hurt you. All of our guidelines get interpreted in inappropriate or non-useful ways by certain segments of editors. The answer is to disregard the unreasonable accusations, not to throw out guidelines because they can be misinterpreted. Friday (talk) 14:20, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Precisely. And if you can't ignore them, come and get a reasonable admin. We exist, and we're here to serve encyclopedia writers. All it takes to dispel false accusations is to shine light on them. Just don't react by yelling at them or calling them names, because that gives them ground to stand on, and makes our job harder. Don't do that. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:25, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
The difficulty with ignoring this, is quite often in the last few months admins have been buying this unCIVIL argument. It is a threat because it can be effective. Just look at the situations with ScienceApologist for example. I have seen Jimbo set the bar for unCIVIL lower and lower. Recently Jimbo declared that the phrase "self promoter" was unCIVIL and a blocking offense. In the last couple of months I have seen unCIVIL charges brought, including in an RfC, for using the phrase "homeopathy promoter". Several admins lined up to agree that "homeopathy promoter" is unCIVIL and should result in administrative sanctions. Where POV warrior and troll and vandal and vandalism were not viewed as unCIVIL 1.5 years ago, they seem to be increasingly viewed as unCIVIL. My contacts on the grapevine that has access to the upper levels of WP and the Foundation started banging on the drum about CIVILity and a crackdown on CIVILity a few months ago. I ignored it at the time, but that seems to be exactly what is happening.--Filll (talk) 15:10, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
You assert that you possess, secret, hidden knowledge, not accessible by we who are merely editor-volunteers. Do you think this 'secret evidence' makes your comments seem more credible or persuasive? If so, you are mistaken. Dlabtot (talk) 15:39, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
What on earth? I do not care if you believe me that I have heard rumors or not. It is irrelevant; rumors do not mean much until they are translated into action, or some other evidence. The bottom line is, I and a few others have noticed that there seems to be a change in how CIVIL is dealt with in the last year or two. We might be mistaken, but I do not think so. --Filll (talk) 16:27, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, who's been buying it? Who's been blocked? Whatever it was, it's over. Sane admins are here now, and we're not going to buy spurious accusations of incivility. Those are uncivil, intellectually dishonest, and not cool. If you think that you need to defend the right to call someone a POV-pusher, however, you are barking up the wrong tree. I will help you get these articles in shape, and do everything I can to make it work, if you guys will drop the insistence that you be allowed to label people.

Let's reclaim the word "civil" for actual civility, and not for some kind of mincing fear of stating an opinion. If there's been a change for the worse in how WP:CIVIL is handled, let's work on that now. The last spurious accusation I saw fell flat, leaving the accuser looking pretty silly, so that's one piece of evidence against your claim. Next time it happens, please let me know. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:54, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I could name a few admins, but I think it is pointless to do so at this point. Just take it from me; I have seen admins buy into this spurious form of complaint. Just ask ScienceApologist for example, but I think there are even more egregious examples of this. Of course, I do not demand the right to call someone a "POV pusher". I had never even heard of that term when I first joined WP 1.5 years ago. If it is not politically correct now, then fine, it can be abandoned. What we are witnessing in this little community is an example of terminological pejoration and a dysphemism treadmill, where words acquire increasingly negative connotations. New phrases replace them, and then slowly are freighted with the same negative connotations. This is a well-known phenomenon in linguistics. If my conjecture is correct, and I switch to using "malcontent" instead, and others join me in adopting the word "malcontent" as a catchall phrase, then it will end up with the same negative connotations as "troll", "POV pusher", "sock", "vandal", "vandalize", "meat puppet", "puppet master", etc. I can guarantee it. And people will not fear stating opinions if the threat for stating an opinion is removed.--Filll (talk) 17:14, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, please understand that the reason not to call people names, the reason to stop labeling people, is not that it's politically incorrect. I hate political correctness, to hell with it. The reason to stop labeling people is because it makes for poor collaboration. The only consideration here is the practical consideration of writing an encyclopedia, and it is more practical to refrain from labeling than to label. There is no point in applying these labels. You may not believe this now, but I'm fully prepared to demonstrate.

By the way, "sock-puppet" is not a matter of civility, it's a matter of empirical evidence. You get a sock-check, and either they are or they aren't. Don't use it as a pejorative (because what's the point in pejoratives) and there's no problem. If there's a problem, let me know. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:35, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

The value of the hiding part, and its more extreme versions, userfication and outright deletion, is that it has a way of taking the air out of a dispute very quickly. You can see it effectively in use on the talk pages of intelligent design, evolution and many of the creationism-related pages.
Suppose that a malcontent (troll, sock puppet, POV warrior, meat puppet, SPA, etc) starts an off-topic, irrelevant, viscious and/or repetitive thread. A few people respond. It starts to get nastier. Before it escalates very far, someone recognizes what is going on, and either hides the thread or removes it.
Many people are looking for a debate or a fight and are not really interested in writing an encyclopedia, particularly an encyclopedia that uses NPOV, RS, NOR etc as policies. If they find they cannot have a fight, they leave. They might be upset for a bit, but they either learn to function in the community or they leave. This is far easier and simpler than administrative sanctions of various kinds or RfCs or Mediation or Arbcomm. It also effectively shows that the community is serious about dealing with disruption, but in a nice way.
One of the most common and effective strategies of malcontents at the moment is the redefinition of NPOV or NOR or RS. They wikilawyer this to death. Well, if you just cut their argument off at the knees by hiding it or deleting it, then we do not have to fight it again for the 500th time, right? And less chance for anyone to be unCIVIL. And maybe in a gentle way, you can encourage the malcontents to be productive, or leave. The idea is to not block anyone or cause a lot of sturm und drang or create long proceedings. Removing off topic or repetitive comments is far kinder and gentler and far less apt to WP:BAIT any established editors into being unCIVIL. However, admins have to be on board with this and understand it.
When I first saw this technique at the evolution talk pages, I was somewhat doubtful about its effectiveness. However, I have watched it in action for well over a year, and it does work and work surprisingly well. --Filll (talk) 15:01, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, if you were open to finding out that an aggressive technique works, are you willing to try a different technique, less aggressive, that I think will be equally effective? There are better ways to cut wikilawyering off at the knees than by smothering it. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:57, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
What method are you referring to? --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:59, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Infophile, I can show you more easily than I can tell you, but it comes down to sticking to a high ground. Have you got a context where we can try it out? -GTBacchus(talk) 17:37, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Homeopathy would be good, of course, though we're at a quiet point with a few of the more problematic editors currently banned. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 17:43, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Which is a sub-optimal solution, but I've got it watchlisted, and Filll and I are on my talkpage discussing how to come up with some long-term solutions. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:47, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I am not hidebound of course. I will try any method that works. Even if it does not work, I have no objection to trying it to see if it will work. I was a bit shocked to see the hiding/deleting technique in action when I first came on WP 1.5 years ago, but I have to admit, I became a convert when I saw it work a few times. If you have a method that works better, let's try it. I would of course be glad to define a number of different methods, and measure how well each one works in different circumstances, to try to get more quantitative about this.--Filll (talk) 17:06, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Want an example of CIVIL run amuck?[edit]

On the Arbcomm workshop pages dealing with the 911 conspiracy, I posted a fairly long post trying to suggest that what should happen is a reexamination of how we deal with these situations. A young editor appeared to try to engage me in combat, which I refused to do. I was then charged with violating CIVILity: [19]. Then an Arbcomm clerk came along to reblank the page and threaten me with a block: [20]. Nice. CIVILity rules. Sorry, but that is reality. Misused or misinterpreted or abused, CIVIL even a confused version of it, is more important than anything else. Was I unCIVIL? Was my post flamebait? I don't think so, but this young angry editor did it seems. Should I have even responded at all to the WP:BAITing by this angry young editor? Maybe not. I think I had something important to say, and it is quite discouraging to see someone claim I was being unCIVIL over it and over refusing to engage in meaningless combat.--Filll (talk) 17:28, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Filll, what would it take to get you to stop capitalizing that word that way? I'll say "please". Let's use the word to mean what it means, not what those who would abuse it want it to mean. Please? -GTBacchus(talk) 17:38, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh, and you made several errors in that post that gave people ammunition to accuse you of incivility. Give me some time, and I'll deconstruct it for you. They're not hard to avoid, but you have to know what they are. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:41, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Ok, but I want to make it clear that I was being charged with a violation of a principle of Wikipedia, which I view as CIVIL. I do not think I violated CIVIL. I do not think I was uncivil. Tell me and show me how I was uncivil or violated CIVIL. You want us to not be afraid to talk? Stop what I just described above.--Filll (talk) 17:42, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Filll, don't think in terms of "violations". That's lawyer-ish. The question is, how could you have said it better? I'm at work on a short break now; let me get back to you on that, ok? I will give you feedback on that post. Just practice certain principles, and you won't make the mistakes that give them the ammo. I have to go now, but stay tuned. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:46, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I've got some time off now. I followed your link, and there's a long post from you, followed by a short exchange between yourself and User:Selmo, and then User:Okiefromokla showed up and said you were both being uncivil, and then the page was blanked, and that's pretty much that, right? Well, in your exchange with Selmo, you were both talking about each other, labeling each other personally, using derisive language with each other, and escalating. Do you have to label people "truthers" and make generalizations about them? No. Do you have to sarcastically tell someone "you are in possession of The TruthTM"? No. Is saying something like that likely to raise the temperature, or lower it? All of us share responsibility for keeping the temperature here low enough to work. To be fair, the other guy wasn't being any more civil than you were, but I don't have to criticize him to you.

I've noticed in our interactions, Filll, that on a few occasions, you've stated my position back to me, but exaggerated it into something I wouldn't say. It's a common enough kind of mistake, and I sometimes do it when I'm not careful. I think you were doing that with Selmo. People don't like that; it comes off as disrespectful. You know, just don't say "I know how badly you want a fight". That's like inviting someone to hit you - it's not part of civil discourse.

Now, I don't want you to take this wrong. I'm not accusing you of violating anything, or threatening you with anything ok? I'm just saying that this is not an example of a mania for superficial civility run amuck. This is an example of someone (a non-admin - nobody came close to a block there) noticing that the two of you had pretty much left polite discourse behind, and were sniping at each other unproductively. Your substative point was lost, because you surrounded it with material that could be attacked as uncivil. Stick to the substance next time. Have you noticed that we disagree about a lot, but I've never put any kind of label on you, except for good-faith contributor? Does that make me a less effective communicator? -GTBacchus(talk) 19:42, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

That comes across as very good advice GTBacchus. After some reflection, my own take on those kinds of exchanges - of which I've almost certainly been just as guilty as Filll - is that the best way to respond is in the way most likely to result in the outcome you're looking for. By coincidence, that mostly happens to be the non-personal approach that you're recommending. Call me Machiavellian if you like. :-) --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 19:58, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Careful with the M-word, I've been slagged for that. Not that I care. Raymond Arritt (talk) 20:11, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Not that I care either. :-) --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 20:21, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I believe Machiavelli himself would (did) argue, "I say that it would be well to be reputed civil. Nevertheless, civility, exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it, injures you." MastCell Talk 20:24, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
On a public wiki... -GTBacchus(talk) 20:30, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I was going to quote the part of The Prince where he wrote: "A prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with these qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious... One prince of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of reputation and kingdom many a time." But that would have been too much of a downer... MastCell Talk 20:34, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Now we're quoting from The Prince I'll add: Men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared. Food for thought for all the WP:CIVIL addicts out there. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 20:39, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, in a reputation driven community, that's pretty bad advice. Making yourself feared is difficult when your power flows from whether or not people want to work with you. I've seen too many admins take that line and fall hard, and I've seen a few take that line, get bitten, and then learn and change. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:41, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
On the other hand, too many are trying to make themselves "loved" in a way that ultimately is destructive to a collaborative project. Raymond Arritt (talk) 20:50, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I have seen an example of an administrator involved in an edit war threatening another editor with a block as recently as earlier today. Still, the WP:CIVIL guidelines obviously don't apply to administrators. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 21:08, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
That's neither obvious nor true. I've seen too many admins de-sysoped for chronic incivility to entertain that belief for a second. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:01, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
It may not be obvious to you, but it's obvious to me. Still, nobody ever claimed that life was fair. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 22:22, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
If the civility policy didn't apply to admins, then an admin could not be de-sysopped for incivility. Admins have been desysopped for incivility. Ergo, the civility policy does apply to admins. QED. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:47, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
WP:CIV does apply to admins. Nonetheless in my experience the correlation between an admin's CIVILity and effectiveness is near zero. Some of our most useless admins are among the most CIVIL while some are unCIVIL; some of our best admins are often unCIVIL (and occasionally even uncivil), and so on. Raymond Arritt (talk) 03:18, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

<undent>I probably should not have answered the editor who was steeped in the Truth. I do think he wanted to fight, and I did not want to fight about this issue. I probably should not have said that I knew he wanted to fight however. That is a good point.

Nevertheless, I think my basic point was correct:

In this case, it is a bit difficult to claim 911 conspiracy theories are a FRINGE belief (or for that matter, 7/7 conspiracy theories). It is not like Time Cube or Orgone Energy or belief in a literal genesis as a scientific explanation for the origin of the species among professional biologists. It is a FRINGE belief, but only in certain very special restricted communities; skeptics, rationalists, government employees in certain areas, mainstream journalists in some countries, and so on. If you go by certain regions of the world, or mainstream US or European society, or many other segments, you will find that the number of people who have signed on to one aspect or another of this conspiracy theory message is very large (certainly too large to be called a FRINGE in most cases), and in many cases, a majority. So what do we do in this case? We need another criteria besides throwing FRINGE and NPOV at them. Because they can claim, with some validity, that they are the majority. And they can show that some things as reported in some reliable sources or putatively reliable sources appear suspicious. And they do not even have to do OR to make this claim, since there are so many people in the Truth community that one or more will have already made this claim in print, and maybe even in a reasonably respectable publication. What do we do in these cases, when we want to remain reasonably respectable and have some sort of standards for our content?--Filll (talk) 21:23, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I think we report that a lot of people believe X, but that the experts in the field have come to conclusion Y, and we cite both. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:00, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
It's not about "not answering the editor who was steeped in the Truth". It's about actually not thinking of them that way. That's a human being, unlike any other human being, with a whole set of opinions, experiences, ideas, and prejudices. To quote Wayne's World, was it Kierkegaard or Dick van Patten who said "if you label me, you negate me"? I've never been sorry not to lump someone into a group about which I could generalize. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:47, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

The missing part of this is, if you try to write the article in the way you suggested, a lot of people believe X, but that the experts in the field have come to conclusion Y there will be trouble. Big trouble. And that is the problem at these controversial articles, including homeopathy and the 911 conspiracy theories and paranormal articles and other FRINGE articles.

If you could get away with the wording you have suggested, I am sure that all people interested in NPOV would have no problem with it. However, there is an aggressive segment of our editors (and even some admins too probably), that do not want to describe it the way you suggested (I know you don't want me to label them, but believe me, they exist, whether I call them with some shorthand term or phrase, or not). This group would prefer to remove the part about experts dissenting, or replace the mainstream experts with FRINGE experts, or redefine the meaning of NPOV, NOR, RS, and so on. Many would even prefer to state their FRINGE interpretation as a proven fact; no caveats whatsoever. And if you disagree, they will charge you with a violation of CIVIL and AGF.

And that is why we have problems. To not understand this aspect of the situation is to miss the entire point and the root of the difficulty, and the very threat to WP itself.--Filll (talk) 00:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm waiting to see a demonstration of that. The homeopathy article currently makes it very clear that the mainstream scientific community does not accept homeopathy. Show me the article on which we can't get away with a wording like what I suggested. I still haven't seen evidence of this rampant abuse; why don't you just show it to me? -GTBacchus(talk) 00:46, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Chiropractic. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 01:33, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Infophile, thank you. I think I'll start a new section to discuss that page, because this one's getting long, but thanks. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:44, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

There is plenty of evidence, if one is willing to mine the archives for it. Or I can just wait until it comes up again and you will see it for yourself, as it happens. --Filll (talk) 00:55, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, there is so much evidence, that you find yourself unable to produce a single diff. In my world (the rational one) that means no evidence. Dlabtot (talk) 01:01, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Given the current atmosphere and zeitgeist that dominates here, I will just thank you for your input. As I said before, it is probably preferable that we never have any further discussions. It is just far too dangerous unfortunately.--Filll (talk) 01:43, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course, it's your choice whether or not you want to participate in discussions. No one can force you to engage in rational discourse. Dlabtot (talk) 01:56, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
You are clearly right and everyone else is wrong. In fact, I think everyone else should leave Wikipedia and let you have it to yourself since you are the only one here who is rational and capable of reasonable discourse, obviously. So enjoy the fact that you are the "great genius of yourself". Cheers!--Filll (talk) 02:43, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
As I said, you get to choose which discussions you will participate in. But, of course, you don't get to choose which discussions I participate in. The reality is, you have produced absolutely no evidence to support your false assertions. Dlabtot (talk) 02:51, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Whatever. Perspicacity? Naw.--Filll (talk) 03:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, Filll, Filll.... restating the other guys position in a way that he's unlikely to have stated it.... not a good strategy. Please see WP:ENEMY. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:23, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

← Filll: The danger you speak of comes from the tone and lack of substance. You often speak of the dangers and other such sweeping comments about the fate of WP -- without providing any diffs. So why not provide diffs to support your POV. In the end you may be correct but without the diffs I don't know what to make of your comments. Clearly right and everyone else is wrong doesn't move the discussion along. Anthon01 (talk) 14:36, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your input. And that is all I have to say about that for the moment.--Filll (talk) 15:03, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

<undent>Where have I restated his argument? Look, this character who allegedly has very little experience editing WP has been stalking me for a while now, and many places on WP I go, he shows up to claim I have no evidence for what I have said my impressions are. In other words, repeatedly he has in a veiled fashion said I was lying (that is restating his argument; and it is my impression of what he is claiming, so who is going to now try to argue that it is not my impression?).

Even after I provided some evidence (whatever came up without going out of my way), he has rejected it or ignored it in good WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT fashion. I could of course turn this into a nightmarish fight that would last for a good few weeks, with hundreds of hours spent compiling evidence, calling in allies etc. I could show how he is not just wrong, but ridiculously wrong, and in addition engaging in harassment and badgering here. I could go on full-on attack, and try to destroy him, as he is doing in a slow Chinese water torture test fashion to me, if he really wants to be my ENEMY and really wants a war. However, I believe he is engaging in WP:BAIT at the minimum, and possibly really only here on WP for WP:BATTLE. He is so persistant I am starting to wonder if he is someone who was previously sanctioned for involvement in some issue I was part of, and is back for revenge.

However, for now, I have decided that I will try to just retreat and avoid a fight. I am not here to prove to him what my views of the situation are, and on what I base my opinions. I am not here to fight him. I do not need his stalking and harassment and badgering and snide comments and challenges constantly. In fact, I think he is getting pretty close to violating CIVIL, frankly, particularly in the aggregate.

Maybe all this nonsense he continues to spew might make good fodder for an RfC. What do you think Dlabtot? Want to fight frantically against tons of accusations and have dozens of people discussing whether your behavior is suitable for this wiki, is helping to build an encyclopedia, and we need to accommodate it? Let's try to avoid that if we can, shall we?

So am I going to be told that trying to retreat and avoid a fight is unCIVIL? Am I going to be told I am unwelcome on WP for not wanting to have a huge fight over what behaviors I have seen malcontents engaged in on controversial articles? I do not believe that is the purpose of WP, or that it will serve the project's purposes or my purposes to argue for weeks and maybe months on end about whether I have seen someone try to claim that there should be no critical material in a LEAD of a controversial article or not. I could provide 50 or 100 examples of this. But given his past behaviors, I believe Dlabtot would just try to wikilawyer the existence of these examples away. Why should I spend hours and hours and hours compiling examples, that anyone who has been on a controversial article editing will have seen at some point, when my impression is, that he is not really interested in much more than a huge pointless stupid fight? And probably trying to push to see if I will make some sort of slipup?

I apologize in advance if this has offended anyone. However, I believe I have to clear the air; this is my opinion of what is going on here. And I do not want it to continue. It is a waste of time and energy. I do not believe I was uncivil in any way in stating my impressions here, but if I was, tell me and I will refactor the offending portion. As for not AGF, at a certain point, you have to call a SPADE a SPADE. Sorry.--Filll (talk) 14:07, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

You are welcome to file an RfC, on me, or anything else you want, anytime you want. Go for it, if that's what you want to do. Dlabtot (talk) 16:28, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
You are welcome to do whatever you like. Just realize that there will be consequences for some of those things. Have a nice day.--Filll (talk) 17:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, I'm talking about, in your above post, where you said, "You are clearly right and everyone else is wrong. In fact, I think everyone else should leave Wikipedia and let you have it to yourself since you are the only one here who is rational and capable of reasonable discourse, obviously." Did Dlabtot say that he's the only one who is rational and capable of reasonable discourse? No. Does he believe that? No. Is putting his position in those words likely to lead to greater mutual understanding? You see? Do you really suspect that a sarcastic "you're right and everyone else is wrong" is ever a useful thing to say? -GTBacchus(talk) 14:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Its called sarcasm. Ever hear of it?--Filll (talk) 14:20, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I have. It raises the temperature, communicates disrespect, and is not conducive to collaboration. It's part of what keeps you from having an easier time here. If you're going to be sarcastic with people, then no wonder you run into a lot of static. People really don't like being talked down to. The goal is always collaboration and understanding, not making the other guy look bad. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I do not need to make anyone look bad. They do a good job on their own. And I reserve the right to in an indirect way to tell someone to back off.--Filll (talk) 17:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course you can ask someone to back off. Actions have effects, and the way in which you choose to ask someone to back off will influence the resulting atmosphere. You can do it with sarcasm, or you can do it with politeness. The choice is yours. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:51, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

By the way, has anyone asked you to "spend hour and hours and hours compiling examples"? No, we haven't. I've asked for an example. Why recast my question as an unreasonable one? Why not try to accurately restate my position, rather than exaggerating it into something that I wouldn't say? It comes off as rather disrespectful. I don't think you intend that. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:19, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Well GTBacchus, you have clearly misinterpreted my statements. Where did I ever say you had asked me to spend a lot of time compiling examples? As I have stated before, you can get the examples yourself, or you can wait and get them as they come up. I was of course referring to Dlabtot, who now a good half dozen times or more has asked me for examples and diffs. This takes time and it takes effort, that I do not particularly want to spend since I have a pretty good idea that it is pointless. I also know from past experience with Dlabtot that the two times I gave him examples, he dismissed them as irrelevant or ignored them or wikilawyered them out of existence. So clearly my next response is to pound him with dozens and dozens of examples in an immense effort, which is probably a waste of time and effort and he will still ignore, because he appears to have an agenda and is probably engaged in WP:BAIT. So as much as you might like to think you can clearly read a situation GTBacchus, I believe in this case you might have misread it. Sorry.--Filll (talk) 15:23, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Filll, you said above, "Why should I spend hours and hours and hours compiling examples...". What's the point in that rhetoric when you know that nobody has asked you to spend hours and hours. I've been asking for one good example, and you turn around and say "why should I spend hours compiling examples?" Don't you see how that misrepresents my request? If nobody asked you to spend hours compiling examples, why would you say that? It doesn't encourage resolution, it encourages defensiveness and entrenchment.

What I'm requesting is that you tone down the style of rhetoric in which you act as if your interlocutor said some exaggerated or extreme version of what they actually said. You're casting other people's ideas in an unfair light. Dispute resolution research has shown that a lasting resolution is more likely when all parties feel that their concerns have been understood. Exaggerating other people's concerns is a good way to make sure they feel their concerns have not been understood. Am I making sense? -GTBacchus(talk) 15:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

With all due respect, no you are not. And you are not reading, or at least comprehending. But that is fine. I am gathering information here. Have a nice day.--Filll (talk) 17:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, if I've misinterpreted your statements, I trust you can tell me how. What I'm observing here is that you're putting words into other people's mouths, and that I'm not the only person noting that you're recasting other people's positions as positions that they do not in fact hold. Why say "why should I spend hours...", when nobody has suggested that you should? Why? -GTBacchus(talk) 17:51, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Take it outside, lads. Raymond Arritt (talk) 02:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
^ It seems to me that comment is meaningless in this context. I'd like to see WP:DIFFs that support the wild and overblown assertions made by Filll which look to have no solid basis in reality. "Take it outside" - huh? Dlabtot (talk) 03:02, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Dlabtot, you could request evidence for Filll's claims without calling them "wild and overblown assertions" with "no solid basis in reality". Saying that doesn't make him look more wrong; it makes you look less classy. Do you really think that's a productive way to engage in discourse? -GTBacchus(talk) 14:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not really concerned about whether he 'looks wrong', I'm concerned with whether he 'is wrong' - and I certainly have absolutely no interest in whether I 'look classy'. Filll has repeatedly and consistently mischaracterized the discussion - as you well know. His assertions about the workings of policy are of the same character. Dlabtot (talk) 15:53, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
If you despise me so much, leave me alone. Have a nice day. We have nothing further to discuss at the moment.--Filll (talk) 17:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course, I have never said, implied, or used words that could be reasonably inferred to imply, the sentiment you have ascribed to me. I'll continue to participate in whatever discussions I believe are appropriate. Dlabtot (talk) 17:35, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Dunno if anyone is interested in this, but gonna write it anyway. In the german Wikipedia, the 911 conspiracy article was in really bad shape. So i put it on the german version of AfD with the statement: the article is utterly crap and eighter 70% of the content has to be thrown out or if noone wants to do that it has to be deleted, so that we can start a new one. About 50% of the participant wanted to delete it, other rewrite and some fringies wanted to keep it. At the end of the deletion discussion the artcle was about 65% smaller (from 80 kb to 30 kb) and it was kept. Things are easier with a harsh deletion system. In the german wikipedia you don't need consensus to delete, but the admin is free to weigh the arguments, so in some rare cases even articles with 70 to 80% keep votes can get deleted. -- (talk) 01:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't write or edit science articles, but come across the same problem when writing about topics in the social sciences. Writing articles of the type: a lot of people believe X, but that the experts in the field have come to conclusion Y, is exactly what I wish to be able to on this "encyclopedia", but get hammered regularly if I try and do so. Instead, we have some people believe this, others believe that, which is the complete opposite of neutrality, and contravenes WP:WEIGHT, the most ignored major policy on Wikipedia. Mostlyharmless (talk) 03:05, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Which specific articles are you referring to? Maybe getting some more editors in there will help. Dlabtot (talk) 03:10, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Want an example of CIVIL run amok? redux[edit]

I started the section over because I can't read all that above, it's got so much old animosity and sarcasm and condescension mixed into it that I can't find the substance, if there's any in there.

I don't want this discussion to get sidetracked into a discussion of how to behave more civilly, although I do think behaving civilly is a reasonable expectation, and I don't think in my short time on the site I've ever behaved incivilly (I've been accused of it by someone who takes any disagreement --with anyone, not just with me--as a personal attack or a failure to assume good faith, but I've just ignored that person). But behaving civilly is not going to solve the underlying problem I see with this encyclopedia, and making it an issue of civility or dispute resolution is to ignore the real problem.

When I first saw Fill's section heading, I thought his example was going to be an example of what happens when a group of people are determined to get more weight for a fringe idea than it deserves, and other people refer to policy and stand firm for neutrality without losing patience or the assumption of good faith, and that loop is repeated and repeated, for months or years. When this loop goes on and on, one of two things can happen: either (1) someone finally loses their patience and it becomes a civility issue, or (2) it just goes on, and on, and on, and on, exhausting editors. Wikipedia may have actually discovered how to make a perpetual motion machine that works, except that it's not a perpetual motion machine in the usual sense that it produces more energy than goes into it (quite the opposite) only in the sense that when cogs are worn out, other cogs move in to replace those wornout cogs, and the machine goes on, driving onward into the future, around and around in an endlessly repeated circle. I commend those who have managed, by putting their life's energy into the effort, to keep some controversial articles from being commandeered by those who are fighting for legitimacy for fringe theories. I can't imagine being so committed to this project that I would be willing to wear myself out over it, so I'm looking for awareness from the "powers that be" if there is such a thing, or from the community as a whole, that this is a problem that needs to be addressed and that it's going to be addressed in a way that helps the encyclopedia keep from making itself ridiculous in the eyes of the outside world.

I've never looked at the homeopathy articles and probably never will, but just observing how utterly burned out Fill is and listening to the weariness of other folks on this page trying to find a solution to the impasse on those pages, and having spent some time observing other articles where the same dynamic operates, I have no trouble believing, in fact I've seen myself a number of times, the resistance to the very reasonable formulation "many people believe x but experts say y." It's that "experts say y" that true believers in fringe theories do not want included in fringe articles. What they want is for the article to say "some people say x and other people say y," giving fringe theories the same weight as expert opinions, or even giving fringe ideas more weight than expert opinions, arguing that on a topic where all the available sources are fringe sources, then the fringe sources become the mainstream opinion that should be prominent, and policy requires the article to simply say "x" without "but experts say y." To suggest that because people have managed to keep homeopathy at a stage where the article still says "but experts say y" means the problem isn't as bad as it's been pictured, is to dismiss the very real and exhausting effort it has taken to keep it (and countless other similar articles) "but experts say y."

To treat it like a dispute resolution problem, like the Palestinian question for example, is to play right into the fringe theorist's hands; that puts them on equal footing with informed opinion, and (it seems to me) would serve to force fringe articles into the form "some people say x and some people say y," discarding the idea of WEIGHT altogether. Don't you think that people who believe there are ghosts speaking out of the static in their radios would be delighted to be treated like the Palestinians, like an equal partner at the table who deserve as much prominence as the voices from the other side (forgive me)? Do you really want this encyclopedia to become a catalog of every product or idea that anyone is making a buck off of? Without "but experts say y?" This is the direction the encyclopedia seems to be going; this new "dispute resolution" business injected into this discussion seems to confirm this suspicion, and how ArbCom decides the 9/11 case will tell the tale, I think. If they really do treat it as a dispute resolution and use dispute resolution tactics on this unending problem, without addressing WEIGHT or NPOV, then I'll know that this encyclopedia is no place for me. I had hoped that the Signpost interview might open a community-wide discussion on the issues. I don't know if it will or not, but at this point I don't have great hope for that. Woonpton (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

The problem is not an excess of civility, it's a lack of enforcement of other policies. The idea that it's either civility OR a neutral point of view is a false dichotomy. Why are small groups of overly passionate editors allowed to hold articles hostage for months or years? Why aren't tendentious editors regularly topic banned? Go to a supposedly 'controversial' article that you haven't been to before and about which you have little interest and visit the talk page. Usually there will be a few editors - often on several sides of the issues - who are not really looking to achieve consensus. Why not just topic ban those editors? If they are really here to help the encyclopedia, they can edit some other article about which they do not have such strong and intractable viewpoints. Dlabtot (talk) 17:19, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Diabtot, I did not say that the problem is an excess of civility, in fact I thought I was clear that in my opinion, civility is a red herring, either way, and should not be allowed to sidetrack the issue. And here's a very small example of the problem of repeating circles I outlined above: yesterday (or was it the day before...anyway, very recently) Diabtot proposed the exact same solution, banning all the disruptive editors from a topic, and I said then what I continue to say, that to do so is to turn a content problem into a user conduct problem and fail to address the real problem; the fighting will go on but with different editors, because the underlying problem is still the same. Asking me again the same question that I've just recently answered, seems to support my point by providing an illustration.
By the way, I am constantly going to controversial articles that I've never been to before and have no particular interest in, and reading the talk pages. What else could a new person read but stuff they've never read before? And as far as my own interests, there is no way in the world that I would go near the articles that are closest to my interest and areas of expertise. My remarks above have nothing to do with my own particular passions, and the articles I've looked at and worked on aren't particularly important to me. Again and again, I've seen in these articles a determination among a few editors to overthrow informed opinion in favor of special interests, and a few stalwart souls trying to maintain NPOV against the assault. I have no vested interest in saying this; this is just observations of a newbie. Woonpton (talk) 19:26, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Please forgive my clumsy wording; by saying The problem is not an excess of civility, it's a lack of enforcement of other policies I did not mean to imply that you had said otherwise. I actually thought we were in agreement about this point. Dlabtot (talk) 21:22, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes CIVIL is a red herring. It is being used inappropriately as a weapon, and continues to be used as such, but that is not the main problem, as is stated on this page repeatedly. The underlying problem is our inability or unwillingness to enforce our core principles like NPOV, NOR, RS and so on.
I also have no serious interest or background in homeopathy. Or in black people. Or in evolution. Or in alternative medicine. I personally avoid the areas in which I have expertise and deep interest and knowledge like the plague, just like Woonpton. Why? Because I do not want to argue with idiots in an area in which I have considerable interest and knowledge. I have a couple of friends that are medical doctors here. They try to edit medical articles. And it drives them absolutely bonkers, because they have to deal with yahoos that know nothing. I reduce the stress by editing areas I know nothing about. And I learn a little something in the process. Controversial issues which I know something about, and on which I qualify as a RS (having appeared in many mainstream media venues, or created technologies used around the world, or advised decision makers in positions of power), I do not even read here. I could not bear it, frankly. Because I can only imagine what a horrible mess those articles are in. So Dlabtot, I already do what you say. I do not edit articles I am intersted in and know much about. And if the article becomes too controversial, like homeopathy, I just let it rot.-Filll (talk) 19:41, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, at least the problem of CIVIL being used as a weapon has a clear and easy solution: don't let people use it that way. The way to do that involves... oh, but you don't want to know, do you? Or do you? If you found out how to stop people using the civility policy as a weapon, would you apply it? I'm not sure.

Nobody's ever used WP:CIVIL as a weapon against be, because I know the antidote. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:54, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Come on, don't keep us in suspense... ;-) Raymond Arritt (talk) 20:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I suppose you know that I've said it more than once on this page already, right? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:09, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I really don't know what you're talking about, especially if you're addressing this comment to me, which seems possible since I did admit to having once been accused of being uncivil. The only thing I can guess from your remarks is that you mean to imply that the way to never let people use CIVIL as a weapon is never to be incivil. That would make sense, if no one ever accused anyone of incivility when there was no incivility involved. In my case, there was definitely no incivility involved; I simply agreed with someone else that search engine counts can be used as a vague guideline for certain purposes like establishing notability, but that they require interpretation and shouldn't be used as support for a "singular position" (OR) that one person was engaging in that no one else agreed with. The person who was making the unusual argument responded by saying that the phrase "singular position" constituted a personal attack and violated WP:CIVIL. I answered that I didn't see anything uncivil about saying that a position is "singular" since the remark was directed at the argument, not at the person making the argument. The person responded by repeating his accusation that referring to a "singular position" was definitely a personal attack and constituted a violation of WP:CIVIL. If you must have diffs, I'll dig out the diffs, but I assure you that's all there was to it; there was no incivility and nothing personal was said. My point in mentioning it was that being accused of being uncivil isn't the same thing as actually being uncivil. Woonpton (talk) 23:11, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Absolutely correct Woonpton. Just because someone says you were uncivil, does not mean you were. And just because the accusation is groundless, does not mean that some admin, under our current situation, will not agree with a spurious accusation. However, what I think is particularly interesting about this account is that I have personally been accused repeatedly of making such stories up, and told over and over and over aggressively that such things do not happen ever on Wikipedia. Now of course I claim I could make a massive report about it, and find lots of examples if I wanted to invest the time and effort. But the related examples I have found so far have all been ignored or dismissed as irrelevant, with prejudice. And so I am glad to have another person recount a similar case. I for one do not doubt this at all, based on my experiences. And of course, I apologize in advance for anyone who might be offended by my post or view it as uncivil or a personal attack in any way. And I also will not be providing any diffs, and invite anyone who wants diffs to find the diffs themselves. Thank you.--Filll (talk) 23:27, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes, spurious and ill considered accusations happen all the time on WP. What I'm interested in, Woonpton, is the outcome of the story. Did the false accusation against you have any negative (or positive) affect on you or the accuser or the discussion or the article or policy that was the subject of the discussion? Dlabtot (talk) 23:56, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
GTB has just said you do not let them. Unfortunately, there is a huge difference between being an editor, and an admin. Someone like me can be blocked at any time for being unCIVIL. I have witnessed this sort of transaction repeatedly on WP. And my only protection is I have a few admins who would be willing to maybe unblock me if it happened. But even then, given that "homeopathy promoter" is viewed as uncivil by many admins, and even our founder views the phrase "self promotion" as a blockable offense, and I have seen people who used sarcasm almost blocked for violating CIVIL, I have minimal confidence. If anyone reading this asks for diffs of this, I will respectfully ask you to get your own diffs. I will not dig these up for you at this time. Thanks.--Filll (talk) 20:10, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether you're an admin or not. Besides, you've got at least one admin on your side here. Why not work with me, instead of telling me how wrong I am, that the help I'm offering can't possibly work? Are you just married to the idea that it's your way or the highway? If not, why not meet me halfway? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:09, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

<undent>I am not above complaining if someone tries to get me blocked for violating CIVIL for asking that we abide by NPOV (which has happened, but do NOT ask me for diffs, thanks) or for using the phrase "homeopathy promoter" (which has also happened, but do not ask me for diffs, thanks) or for stating that someone is editing against the consensus, or that someone appears to be acting like a sock (which I have seen on a number of occasions, but do not ask me for diffs, thanks), or any one of an infinite number of increasingly ridiculous reasons. I am sure that stating WP:DNFTT is soon going to be a blockable offense, if it is not already. Why do we not figure out who wrote that essay and created the graphics associated with it and ban them for life? (That is sarcastic, so do not attack me and charge me with incivility for that, although I am sure some are dying to do that. If you feel that is uncivil, then you better have a long hard thought about what kind of hellish environment you want to create here. Because I and probably many others are going to leave. And do not ask for diffs either, thanks).

However, in the current environment, I believe that discretion is the better part of valour. So given that strong signals have been sent, in my interpretation, to basically avoid certain kinds of editing and articles, I think I will mostly abide by those. If anyone reading this asks for diffs of this, I will respectfully ask you to get your own diffs. I will not dig these up for you at this time. Thanks.--Filll (talk) 21:41, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Woonpton makes several interesting points. First, he has also had the experience of believing he is being civil and someone accusing him otherwise. Are our CIVIL police going to come here and attack Woonpton for making this claim, and immediately claim he is wrong and it never happened and he is violating CIVIL for saying it happened? Because those are the kind of knots we are tying ourself into, over and over. Why not angrily challenge him to prove it with diffs?

Second, Woonpton also appears to agree with me and Raymond Arritt and several others when he notes that fixing our problems with civility will not fix the problems with the encyclopedia. We have a fundamental problem, which I believe Woonpton identifies accurately; how do we deal with controversial subjects on Wikipedia? Third, Woonpton is also correct in very perceptively noting that although homeopathy remains reasonably NPOV at the moment, it has taken Hurculean efforts to keep it that way, and it is highly unstable at the moment (makes me wonder why all our other "experts" here are not able to notice the same thing, and keep challenging it over and over in increasingly combative fashion?). He also notes that there is a fundamental difference between disputes like those between Palestinians and Israelis, and those between 911 conspiracy theorists and the mainstream "rationalist" community, or between science and those who desperately want to promote the Electronic Voice Phenomenon by doing everything possible, including rewriting NPOV and other policies so that they favor a pro-EVP interpretation (a similar case a while back was someone who wanted to rewrite NOR so that he could describe Joseph Smith's accounts of the golden glasses and tablets and foundational principles of Mormonism as proven facts; and it took literally thousands of man hours to stop him.). Woonpton is also somewhat pessimistic when it comes to the 911 Conspiracy Theory case in front of Arbcomm, and I have to agree in certain ways; Arbcomm is not really set up to get involved in content disputes, and is loathe to take positions in content disputes. And I have noticed, that even when Arbcomm does make pronouncements on controversial content, then many of those who were involved come away with impressions of the Arbcomm rulings that are different than what it seems like a straightforward reading and interpretation of the Arbcomm case would be. right|thumb|Energizer Bunny Of course you can beg me for diffs for all this. Unfortunately since it is so highly sensitive and offensive to so many, including many of those who will read this, I will decline. Find the diffs yourself if you are so anxious. Providing diffs and identifying the parties involved will just create hard feelings and lead to more disputes.--Filll (talk) 17:53, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

I will also agree that I am burned out on homeopathy. I have set myself on 0RR on homeopathy and related articles. I have only contributed a tiny amount in the last few months to the text (introducing the concept of probability) when I realized we had made a mistake. And even trying to correct a mistake (that came from us plagiarizing probably), I was attacked visciously. And it was brutal fighting off the hordes. Who did not really want to even address the substance, but reopen the question of whether anything negative about homeopathy should appear in the article at all. And we have had this discussion many many times already. If anyone reading this asks for diffs of this, I will respectfully ask you to get your own diffs. I will not dig these up for you at this time. Thanks. --Filll (talk) 17:58, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Does Filll have an off button? --Art Carlson (talk) 21:06, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

I dunno. Anthon01 (talk) 21:26, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Look if I am attacked, I will respond (just a word to the wise for anyone contemplating trying it). And I am not above pointing out in graphic fashion how ludicrous someone's position is. You might not like how I respond, but I guess that is unfortunate, isn't it? Well I will apologize ahead of time if you are offended. And sorry, that is not uncivil, so do not charge me with a CIVIL violation for that. If anyone reading this asks for diffs of this, I will respectfully ask you to get your own diffs. I will not dig these up for you at this time. Thanks.--Filll (talk) 21:34, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

You're clearly pretty frustrated Filll. Why not take a short break? Wikipedia won't collapse if you walk away for a day or two, and you'll probably feel a lot better coming back. And don't worry, nobody is charging you with "CIVIL violations" because there is no such thing. We'll keep a fire burning for you. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:07, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Do you have any idea how patronizing that sounds? One could argue that such condescension is equally if not more uncivil than a few honest swear words. Raymond Arritt (talk) 22:49, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Raymond, you may be right. I'm not trying to be condescending, but maybe I'm coming off that way. I know my intentions don't always come across clearly, but I think Filll knows where I'm coming from. My intention here, which I would think is clear, is to try to get people talking with each other and resolving conflicts. Nevertheless, thanks for your feedback. I'll think about what you said. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:16, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Raymond, where was that sentiment when Filll was telling everyone who didn't agree with him -you know, the fringe POV pushers and nutjobs- that they would really do well to get in on the ground floor at (I believe it was) parawiki?. What I'm saying here -to be constructive- is that that kind of outrage really does more harm than good when it is only directed at some people who deserve it and not at others. No comment here on whether GTB deserved it or not, I didn't read all the above. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 04:31, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Ah so he should have been outraged that I suggested people try Parawiki so they could edit their articles in peace with no conflict huh? Well guess what? I still think that they would be far more productive doing that. Just like the creationists are far more productive editing at Creation Wiki or Conservapedia or several other wikis which are more suited to their special needs and views. Go ahead and be outraged, but I will not be providing diffs of course; feel free to compile your own diffs. And I apologize if this offends anyone since I do not intend to violate CIVIL, which I do not believe I have.--Filll (talk) 04:42, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Filll, advocates of anything besides NPOV should go away. Where should you go to edit SPOV in peace? And don't give me that *stuff* about SPOV = NPOV. The community decided that wasn't true (and it's obvious). You should take it up with them -literally restart the debate- and then accept the answer, even if you don't like it. Until the community decides for or against what you are trying to do, you will continue to have trouble in fringe areas, because people like me will continue to say that you have violated NPOV, and people like you will continue to try to pretend that NPOV = SPOV in a desperate attempt to cover anything that isn't mainstream science from the perspective of mainstream science. Are you brave enough to actually have this debate with the community? If, like ScienceApologist, you say the community is a mediocrity and you therefore must control it to make it create proper articles (reading between the lines), then you will be forever in the minority trying to pretend that you are in the majority and hiding the fact that your "majority" is the tiny minority of mainstream scientists and skeptics who know about any given subject. You will be living a lie, playing with terms, mis-interpreting rules. You need to either change WP (in which you have my good wishes) or you need to get out and stop POV pushing. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 06:54, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I have never stated that NPOV=SPOV. You must be mistaken. In fact, with a nod to our local DIFF Police, I would invite you to present a DIFF of me ever suggesting thta NPOV=SPOV.
The furthest I have ever gone is stating that NPOV is similar to NPOV in many cases of subjects which are under the purview of science.--Filll (talk) 17:21, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Please refrain from directing off-topic insults toward me in the future, thank you. Dlabtot (talk) 17:26, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Please refrain from your gratuitous insults and stalking in the future. Thank you.--Filll (talk) 17:29, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I have never insulted or stalked anyone on Wikipedia. Please refrain from further ill considered accusations. If you have a complaint, please raise it in the appropriate venue, such as WP:WQA or WP:ANI. Thank you Dlabtot (talk) 17:36, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
I have said this many times before and I will repeat it. You leave me alone, and I will leave you alone. Fair enough?--Filll (talk) 17:45, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Rings a bit hollow, Filll, seeing as how you're the one who started this round. --Art Carlson (talk) 19:12, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
You have to know the full sweep of the history. And no I will not be offering DIFFS at this time, just in case anyone wants to ask for them.--Filll (talk) 19:26, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
So the full version of "You leave me alone, and I will leave you alone." is "You leave me alone and ignore my ongoing jabs until I feel like I've gotten back at you for all your past jabs, and then I will leave you alone." --Art Carlson (talk) 21:10, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Not too surprisingly, you are incorrect. However, not knowing the details, that is not particularly surprising. If it continues, I will lay the entire situation out, in detail, WITH PLENTY OF DIFFS, and you can take a good hard look at it then and hear my side of the story. Until then, you really don't know what you are talking about. Have a nice day.--Filll (talk) 21:21, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

I am of course mildly annoyed and irritated. If anyone is unable to understand why, they are not paying attention or are particularly unperceptive. However, your behavior has been quite revealing about your natures. I apologize to anyone who feels I am offensive or being uncivil. If anyone reading this asks for diffs of this, I will respectfully ask you to get your own diffs. I will not dig these up for you at this time. Thanks.--Filll (talk) 23:07, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, I second that, at least I second the sentiment that not seeing the obvious shouldn't be covered up by asking for diffs. Sometimes CIV is abused, as with everything else (if I have the gist of this thread). ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 06:54, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Rejection of WP:SPOV[edit]

I'm a little curious about the "rejection" of WP:SPOV by the community, which happened before my time here. Looking at the WP:SPOV page itself, and associated talk page, I see commentary from a handful of users (3 plus an IP), as well as a post from a user who was banned for confusing Wikipedia with a promotional venue. Several of the comments rejected WP:SPOV largely because its principles were assumed to already be embodied in WP:NPOV, rendering it superfluous. It's hardly a resounding rejection of the underlying principle by the community, which is what one would gather from much of the discussion here. I'm assuming there are some lengthier discussions, with wider participation, elsewhere, perhaps in the Village Pump archives, but I've been unable to track them down thus far. Anyone have any handy links to previous discussions of WP:SPOV? MastCell Talk 07:21, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

I doubt it was ever fully hashed out with a lot of participation. That is a good reason to open the debate with the larger community. I'm defending NPOV as is, but I would not be unhappy if WP adopted SPOV. I think that, somehow, it needs to be brought fully before the community, and either explicitly accepted (and WEIGHT at least amended), or rejected (and printed as policy somewhere).
The above debate is a solution to all our problems, the very first one put forward, and so I think you should heed it. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 07:31, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
?Check the NPOV archives. Else consider unmothballing as a special case of NPOV? (might be kind of tricky this late though, but worth a good faith try at the least! If you don't try, nothing ever happens ;-) ) --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:37, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Martin: DON'T pull in too large a group at once, or you'll end up smothering the discussion before it gets a chance to start. First take a look at the page, update or rewrite until you're personally happy, and then slowly start discussing it with people as they begin to show up. If it's really worth it, it'll slowly start showing up on more and more people's radar, and it'll gain acceptance gradually. --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:39, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Whoah... I'm not sure I'm personally convinced that there's a need to amend NPOV or create SPOV. I just keep hearing that the principle of a scientific point of view was rejected by the community, and thus far I've not been able to find the discussions to bear that out. I'm just looking for more background information at this point. MastCell Talk 07:48, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Other than the fact that there is no Scientific POV, since science lacks a POV. There is an anti-science POV however that is the opposite of NPOV. As an amateur scientist, I would be against a WP:SPOV. Science is supported by verified and reliable sources, rejects fringe theories, and does not give undue weight to said fringe theories. NPOV works perfectly well for science and medical articles to the great consternation of the anti-science POV types. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 07:54, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
(ec.) Likely what you see is what you've got. It doesn't look heavily discussed. Probably most people present at the time thought it was redundant vis-a-vis NPOV, and it never went anywhere. --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:55, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Science most certainly does have a POV, if only at times. Take SSRI studies, for example, which have been skewed in the studies, skewed where published, and in how they are presented doctors - such that, for any single doctor anywhere, it is impossible to make a clear decision on efficacy for SSRIs based on published studies. Or - OM is a cardiologist - we have the "science" of cardiovascular research based on the cholesterol model, but we know the cholesterol model is wrong (hence CRP is more predictive of MI than cholesterol) and supports a billion dollar industry, not health. So yes - we most definitely need to work on the assumption that SPOV does not equal NPOV. docboat (talk) 09:34, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't understand what you're suggesting here. Yes, there's a problem in that drug companies, that have a vested interest in promoting drugs, are now funding much of the drug research, and there have been some incidents of abuse or compromise of scientific integrity, or at the least, selective publication of cherrypicked results. But that's a problem of politics and vested interests, not of science. In science there is an explicit expectation of open inquiry and publication that is violated when these abuses occur. I don't see how you get from there to "Science has a POV." If you're suggesting that the science POV is synonymous with the industry POV, I don't think that conclusion is warranted. It's not as if there isn't still a fair amount of research that's not funded by the industry, or that doesn't follow the industry line. If the science POV weren't different from the industry POV, in other words if the science "POV" (if you want to use the term) did not carry the expectation that scientists will engage in honest open inquiry and let the evidence speak for itself, then scientists wouldn't be disgraced when it is discovered that they have failed to live up to that expectation, under pressure from funding sources. The promotional information given to doctors from drug companies should be considered advertising and shouldn't be relied on as scientific information, IMO. Woonpton (talk) 16:43, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
The old Pharmaceutical Industry Conspiracy theory. I don't actually listen to that. But to Woonpton's point, the pharmaceutical industry, being profit making, most certainly does have a POV. But we're talking about science here, which does not have one. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 18:09, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
My point exactly.Woonpton (talk) 18:27, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

With all due respect, this discussion is a bit silly. Of course 'Science' doesn't have a point of view. However, 'Science' won't ever be editing articles at WP. People will. And they all have points of view, whether informed by the scientific method or by reading tea leaves. Dlabtot (talk) 17:16, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

In topics which have some overlap with scientific investigation, there might very well be a consensus or mainstream scientific position. If you want to call this SPOV, then fine, although some clearly would dispute that usage. Obviously, in all such topics, including FRINGE topics of various sorts dealing with the paranormal, alternative medicine, assorted supernatural and religious phenomena, various conspiracy theories, etc, there is often a mainstream scientific position on the issue. We would be a pretty lousy and embarassing encyclopedia if we did not include in our articles on these subjects a substantial measure of the description of how these topics are viewed from a mainstream scientific perspective. And the nature of disputes on Wikipedia is that the proponents of these assorted FRINGE positions want to remove the mainstream material, or place it in a separate article, or section, a "science criticism ghetto", or remove it from the LEAD, or reduce the size of the text devoted to mainstream scientific perspectives, or remove scientific RS, etc. And this is what drives the conflict. It is not really whether NPOV=SPOV or whatever. It is, will the current mainstream scientific consensus be included in a prominent way, according to the requirements of NPOV, or not?--Filll (talk) 17:42, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Now that, Filll I can agree with. docboat (talk) 01:17, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Wasn't there already an ArbCom decision about that exact question? Dlabtot (talk) 17:51, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

It is windy today. Hi Norman. How is your mom? And the motel?--Filll (talk) 18:26, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

It is well known by anyone who knows anything about science that while the ideal of science is objectivity, that is not possible to achieve (allow me to piss you off from the start, since that's the kind of blunt discourse you like). In addition, POV -point of view- is relative, and thus science has POV relative to other POVs. Therefore, please put to rest the idea that science has no POV.

Filll, I don't think that there is any question that in many things science is a notable view under NPOV. It's just a matter of how notable, and also a matter of how things are phrased- they are often derogatory. Every time a truly NPOV editor comes around, even a skeptic, I'm delighted by the result. Examples are DGG and FT2, and in the case of Bleep, Moreschi.

MastCell, SPOV as recently formulated by ScienceApologist is the SPOV which most people here are promoting:

Reliable descriptions of material reality are only made through the expert consensus of the scientific community. While Wikipedia is charged with reporting on various alternative viewpoints, the fact that these alternative viewpoints are not reliable descriptions of material reality must be made clear for Wikipedia to be the best encyclopedia it can be. [21]

To which I add that SPOV means that mainstream science always has most of the WEIGHT in any article dealing with material reality.

This is SPOV, and nowhere in the WP policy does it say this, or anything close. Now I may be wrong, and if SPOV = NPOV, it should be easy to convince the community to put such a formulation in the policy. If SPOV does not equal NPOV, then (I believe) there is still a chance that the community will accept SPOV, as most of the community at the very least has a huge respect for science, which they define as mainstream.

If the community is not willing to put in such a formulation, then you should know the reason why, and that specific reason should be made formal policy. In other words, the status of science on WP needs to be formally decided as a matter of policy. It is certainly far from clear now. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 05:50, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

I am afraid that this looks like obfuscation, either intentional or inadvertant. I do not think any of those you identify as the SPOV proponents believes that SPOV=NPOV. Remember the phrase "in proportion to their prominence" ? Well lots of nonSPOVs have some prominence, so they would be represented as part of NPOV. Also, scientific consensus does not necessarily result in a single view, but a family of views, particularly in evolving areas of understanding. So even SPOV can be a family of competing views.
Some difficulty and vagueness comes when we want to describe a FRINGE subject, and it is more prominent among the uneducated and general public than among experts in the field. Then we have to settle on what "in proportion to their prominence" means. And although in articles I have been involved with this is usually taken to be prominence among people that know about the subject in some depth, enough to produce WP:RS, there are probably other interpretations and even other interpretations that have been employed in other articles on WP.
Even if we decide that "in proportion to their prominence" means among experts that produce WP:RS, we open ourselves up to disputes about what are WP:RS. And even if we settle that dispute, then we have the problem that if I have some FRINGE belief, like homeopathy, which has 0.3% of the world's pharmaceutical market, and constitutes less than 1% of the number of licensed physicians in the United States (and no more than 15% in any country in the world), is it fair and useful to write an article on homeopathy that is 85% or 99% or 99.9% from the perspective of allopathic medicine? Even ScienceApologist, who I have discussed this with, has suggested that what is more appropriate is something like balancing the article to have about 60% or 70% of the content from a homeopathic point of view, and 30% or 40% from a mainstream or "allopathic" and "scientific" point of view (a balance similar to what World Book and Funk and Wagnalls has chosen, as well as the other Wikipedia language versions of homeopathy articles).
If you read the policies on this point, they are vague, ambiguous, contradictory and confusing, at least from what I have seen. And this creates further disputes because we really are left with no policy; a fault I would place at the foot of the policy makers in this case. So we try to set the tone by consensus, which is extremely difficult to do, when a large body of the editors are dead set on framing the issue as "homeopathy works and we have ample proof that it does and the article must state unequivocally that homeopathy works, without question or controversy".
And that, I believe, is a clearer description of the situation.--Filll (talk) 16:21, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Martin, with all due respect to ScienceApologist, I read his definition of SPOV and it does not entirely coincide with my own. It's evident from the discussion at WT:SPOV that SPOV there was a) not rejected on principle but largely because it appeared redundant to WP:NPOV, and b) the "SPOV" in WP:SPOV bears little resemblance to that proposed by ScienceApologist. I'm trying to clarify our assumptions and move toward specifics. "SPOV" evidently means somewhat different things to different people. Its acceptance by the community, I would think, largely depends on how we define it. The blanket statement that it's been "rejected" (at least in the form articulated in WP:SPOV) also seems a bit oversimplified at best. MastCell Talk 22:10, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
MastCell, I agree that it would be helpful to define our terms more clearly. How would you summarize the essential differences between ScienceApologist's version and WP:SPOV's version? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:25, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
If I read it correctly, SA's statement as excerpted by Martin above indicates that science is the only acceptable and reliable method for describing material reality, and that any description without the official imprimatur of "science" should be marked as unreliable. That's a fairly expansive statement. WP:SPOV is a mess, but insofar as it has any coherent meaning, it appears to acknowledge the primacy of WP:NPOV in all situations and restrict itself to explicitly scientific topics, merely asserting that the scientific mainstream view should be given greatest weight on scientific topics. MastCell Talk 06:00, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
WP:SPOV is not only a mess; it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't spell out what NPOV is, what SPOV is, why they are different, or why SPOV should be applied only on science topics and NPOV on everything else. It was well, IMO, that the page was retired, and I'm not sure why it's still being invoked, since it's not an active guideline, or policy, or whatever it was intended to be. I have studied the NPOV policy carefully, and I truly do not understand what could be meant by the third sentence on the WP:SPOV page: "NPOV works best when applied to the social sciences such as articles on history, and to controversial subjects. NPOV works less well when applied to the natural sciences, when a scientific point of view (SPOV) is sometimes more appropriate." I can't imagine what someone thought they meant by that. The distinction makes absolutely no sense to me, as a person who has spent a good deal of my professional career working with and teaching about statistics and research methods in the social sciences. I suspect that this arbitrary and artificial distinction is one of the root causes of the current chaos in interpretation of NPOV, since people use the distinction in different ways to serve different agendas. SPOV should not only be retired; it should be buried under a rock so no one can ever look it up again, and penalties should be imposed for writing those four letters. NPOV is all we need; SPOV is a distraction. I'll have more to say about this later, after I cool off. Woonpton (talk) 17:01, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
"NPOV is all we need" hear, hear. Dlabtot (talk) 19:03, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
That's what I'm getting at, albeit obliquely. WP:SPOV was rejected largely because it was seen as superfluous, and its central points already well-covered by WP:NPOV. The thrust was simply that on topics presenting themselves as scientific, the scientific mainstream view should receive appropriate weight and context. I doubt that is particularly controversial. I get the sense that SPOV is being used as a wedge issue, when in fact there is a lot of common ground. We just need to find that common ground rather than looking for extreme positions from which to argue with each other. MastCell Talk 19:14, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Endorse! You speak the truth, my man. Now if we could just establish a common interpretation of NPOV, so we know we're all working from the same policy, we'd be home free. :-) Woonpton (talk) 19:37, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Another idea to try to calm the waters[edit]

I am wondering about creating a "form" that editors who wanted to contribute to a very contentious article might have to fill out, or "vote" on its entries. The form would try to establish community consensus and understanding of some of the issues that govern the creation of the article. For example, if there are 3 POV to be represented in the article, we could try to identify the 3 main POV and have editors agree on what they are. We could try to decide on the relative prominence of the POV. We could try to decide on how to determine relative prominence. We could try to decide what are mainstream POV and what are FRINGE POV. We could get each editor's views on how they wanted to divide up the text on each POV, and in what sections. And so on and so forth. With a set of carefully worded questions, we could focus the discussion and get editors to commit, or to realize that they are arguing against consensus. We could even use an editor's responses to try to help outsiders like admins understand better what the issues are, particularly if an article is under probation, and someone is arguing against consensus or against NPOV or whatever. I want to see if we can design ways to cut down on all this tail-chasing and nonsense and obfuscation and confusion, a lot of it intentional.--Filll (talk) 22:31, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

I would propose to call it a "POV outline".--Filll (talk) 19:47, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

SA in trouble again More evidence of CIVIL out of control?[edit]

I completely disagree with a 72 hour block for this, or stating someone's arguments are boneheaded. I mean, come on, this is really pushing it. I am disgusted frankly.--Filll (talk) 17:46, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

I will also note that SA apologized immediately after: [22].--Filll (talk) 17:50, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

That seems to be an outrageous abuse of power to me as well, but sadly it's becoming increasingly common. I myself am the subject of a current RfC, and threatened with a civility block. I put it down to wikipedia having being taken over by over-sensitive spotty college students who can't afford to buy a dictionary. See you in 72 hours. :-) --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 17:53, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

I put in a token protest here.--Filll (talk) 17:57, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Good luck with that, but there's only one of you and 1,500 of them. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 17:59, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

A different perspective: After experiencing a runin with SA on the Bleep page, where he refused to back down from requesting a change against consensus on a protected page (I don't see that the change has been made, so maybe he hasn't found an administrator willing to make it for him against the unanimity of all the other editors) I would say that from my own observation, civility isn't SA's greatest problem, rather it may be the unwillingness to work with others in a collaborative process. I don't suppose that's a blockable offense, and I'm not suggesting he should be blocked for it, or even reprimanded, but I was offended by his attitude, which is well stated in the statement he has on his page now, something to the effect: "I've stated the facts, no further discussion is necessary." Even Guy agreed with the rest of us and not with SA on the particular point, but for me the issue wasn't even the point itself, it was the fact that he was determined to go it alone rather than working with us. The thing is that for once we were all working together; by a long slow process we had managed to concoct a lead we could all live with. I told a friend that it was ridiculous how proud I felt when we finished those few clumsy sentences, given all the man-hours and frustration that went into it, but the thing is, we did that; we did it together in spite of all the seeming odds against it. And we were turning our attention to what needed to be changed in the body of the article, when SA suddenly decided he had to make a change in the lead. I don't know where anyone else is on the project any more; everyone seems to have lost heart for it. I know I have. The only discussion that's happened for the last few days is from a couple of well-meaning but clueless outsiders who dropped by to tell us to "stop fighting," a rather pointless imperative since everyone has left. Woonpton (talk) 00:13, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

I would be the last person to claim that SA is not a bit volatile and difficult to argue with. I have crossed swords with him a few times myself. However, I do think he is a valuable contributor in many ways too, in spite of his drawbacks. If he is sufficiently difficult often enough in enough venues, the community might decide otherwise. But for now, they support him, although with some misgivings obviously.--Filll (talk) 00:56, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
I appreciate and agree that SA is an asset to the project; I'm certainly not suggesting that he should be jettisoned or anything of the sort. I've given him the benefit of the doubt until now, because I do believe that he has the best interest of the encyclopedia at heart and that he has made great contributions to it. I enjoyed reading his interview with Zvika: clear, transparent, understandable. I knew exactly where he stood when I'd finished reading it. I think that kind of mind is valuable to the encyclopedia, and while I've come across a few, not nearly as many as one should expect, statistically, given the size of the project and the nature of its task. But at the same time, I'm surprised he's been able to survive in a project that works by collaboration and consensus, with an attitude of arrogant self-containment that says all he has to do is state the facts and no further discussion is necessary. You'd think that would have been smoothed down a little by now, unless a group of people have enabled him to operate that way without having to face any consequences for it.
But on the other hand, he was blocked again today, briefly, for an even sillier supposed infraction of civility than the one cited above. Woonpton (talk) 02:30, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

The WP:CIVIL police and "names"[edit]

I have been informed repeatedly by assorted guardians of WP:CIVIL that assigning names to assorted difficult editors or groups of editors or even just groups is dehumanizing and a violation of WP:CIVIL and that one can or should be banned or blocked for their use.

Examples include: troll (or describing their behavior as "trolling"), POV warrior, vandal (along with calling anyone's edits vandalism, or any edits at all vandalism, or even using the edit summary "rvv"), crank, sock (or sock puppet), meat (or meat puppet), puppet master, conspiracy theorist, and now, "truther". I am sure "fringer" cannot be far behind. What I find a bit difficult with this is that none of these "names" or labels originally was meant to be pejorative, but merely descriptive. However, the dysphemism treadmill is operating, and these terms have picked up negative connotations. And that, coupled with political correctness and civility creep, is creating this situation. Many of these terms like "troll" and "truther" are commonly used in mainstream language; truther does not have particularly negative connotations, except perhaps when used by someone who is not a "truther".

So I ask, what about creationist? Evolutionist (and the term "evolutionism")? Creation scientist? Atheist? Agnostic? Christian? Catholic? Jihadist? Taliban? Islamist? Islamo-fascist? Communist? Nazi? Feminist? Intelligent design supporter?

Although I understand the principle involved, I have some problems with it:

  • standards change
  • different people are allowed to use different language in the politically correct world
  • pejoration happens
  • many of these are in common use
  • some are just shorthand descriptions, created by someone typing on a computer who did not want to type a paragraph every time to refer to a certain group
  • although some phrases like "evolutionist" are highly offensive to some, in some places, because of political correctness, are creationists allowed to use this term, while pro-science advocates are forbidden to use comparable phrases to refer to creationist POV warriors?

Let's consider the well known Wikipedia essay, Wikipedia:What is a troll?. It was started by User: Phil Sandifer in 2004, who has edited it most often. About 215 separate editors contributed to this essay, including User: Raul654, User: Jehochman and User: David Gerard, and even our host User: Raymond arritt. What I have wondered previously, only partly in jest, is <sarcasm> should we punish those terrible editors who created such a horrible heinous article branding a certain poor misunderstood downtrodden group that we should be nurturing instead of labelling? </sarcasm> Since the word troll is supposedly a terrible thing, and using it is bad, and labelling anyone as a troll is bad, or any behavior as trolling is bad, this is a sort of natural progression, right?

And at some point, in this frenzy of political correctness, we reach a point that is just plain silly. I am not sure where that point is. I am not sure what the optimal procedure is for dealing with assorted "disruptive editors" and "malcontents" is (if we use the terms "disruptive editors" and "malcontents" enough, by the dysphemism treadmill mechanism, they will soon be verbotten as well by the political correctness police). However, I would like to bring this to people's attention so they can ponder it.--Filll (talk) 14:24, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Well there's a pretty clear, simple, and easily understandable difference between on the one hand, writing an essay about trolls, and on the other hand, telling an editor that he is a troll. Dlabtot (talk) 15:09, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
"I have been informed repeatedly by assorted guardians of WP:CIVIL that assigning names to assorted difficult editors or groups of editors or even just groups is dehumanizing and a violation of WP:CIVIL and that one can or should be banned or blocked for their use." No you haven't. That's your exaggerated, conclusion-jumping, unfair characterization of what you've been told. I dare you to find one person who actually believes that load of horseshit. One person.

For all I know, you think I believe that, because I continue to point out that incivility is as unproductive and foolish as can be, but I've never suggested that there is even such a thing as a "violation of WP:CIVIL", and I sure as hell don't think it's necessary to ban or block anyone who uses certain terms. I dare you to find one person who believes that.

You, Filll have got a bad habit of putting words in people's mouths that they would never put there. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:56, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Ah of course, why didn't I think of that? We can have essays about them, but we can never use the term. So clever.--Filll (talk) 15:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Filll, I know I've seen trolls themselves make the argument that "troll" is uncivil, but has anyone in a position of authority said it? --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 15:24, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, yes. --Filll (talk) 15:27, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

I suspect the issue is less about using certain words, and more about interactingly usefully with other editors. I occasionally remark that someone is trolling or being otherwise disruptive, and I've never gotten "in trouble" for it. Really, Filll, I think you're cherrypicking your data to support your own alarmism. Less running around yelling "the sky is falling!" and more trying to find useful solutions to problems would really help you here. We shouldn't lump editors into groups and then criticize the groups because it's a harmful oversimplification. Deal with problems individually. If a particular editor is being disruptive, yes, you're allowed to leave them a message saying "Hey, your edit here was disruptive, and here's why." I've never seen anyone get in trouble for doing this in a polite, constructive way. The entire project depends on editors giving each other feedback. You're allowed to do it, even if that feedback is critical. Just bear in mind the difference between constructive criticism and unhelpful sniping. Friday (talk) 15:28, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh yes the evil labelling. Well you know, we use shorthand abbreviations here to avoid long winded explanations. And those shorthand abbreviations pick up negative connotations. Can you not see that? And one person's helpful feedback is another person's unCIVIL attack. Particularly when suggesting we follow NPOV is viewed as unCIVIL for example. You are free to believe there is no problem whatsoever. But I am not sure everyone agrees with you. I know I am doubtful for sure.--Filll (talk) 16:06, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Friday didn't say, or imply, or give any indication whatsoever that s/he believes that "there is no problem whatsoever". Dlabtot (talk) 16:26, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Please provide a DIFF of where I stated that User:Friday believes that "there is no problem whatsoever".--Filll (talk) 16:40, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Are you serious? Are you a teenager? I know you don't like Dlabtot, but grow up. You are a man, right? If you say "you are free to believe there is no problem whatsoever," then no, you're not literally saying that he said it, but you're suggesting that he would say it, when he's given no such impression. That's not civilized discourse, and it's not intellectually honest. Own what you imply; be a man. If you don't think Friday is asserting that there is no problem, then don't say things like "you are free to believe there is no problem". And then you get all officious and petulant with "plese provide an all-caps DIFF to where I said that". This is the histrionics of a child. Yes, I'm labeling you, because grow up. You ought to be ashamed of such juvenile behavior. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:56, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
This is a great example. Filll, here you come off sounding like someone who is more interested in squabbling over words than in resolving a dispute. This lawyerish approach is the problem, not the solution. Friday (talk) 16:44, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
If I have a history with a member of them who is interested in wikilawyering rather than rational discourse, then they will be responded to with wikilawyering. In the nicest possible way of course. --Filll (talk) 17:05, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Responding to lawyering with more lawyering is exactly what the wikilawyers want. Don't do it- it cannot help. It can only waste time. Friday (talk) 17:07, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
This member of Them has never offered anything constructive as far as I can tell except obfuscation and unCIVIL remarks and assorted ad hominem slurs. At some point I will arrange an RfC on their actions. And that is just a matter of time.--Filll (talk) 17:10, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I urge you to file the RfC posthaste. Dlabtot (talk) 17:12, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Got a cake in the oven? And how about that DIFF huh?--Filll (talk) 17:15, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I just find the repetition of this empty threat to file an RfC to be tedious. Dlabtot (talk) 17:18, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh do you? Well that is a shame. I am still waiting for that DIFF.--Filll (talk) 17:21, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
That is unfortunate. A random thought occurred to me on how to handle this, which might be right up your alley: We make up our own word, something initially completely meaningless that we use to describe something that the previous word for is now uncivil (such as "troll" or "POV pushed"). We'll be careful to use it only in a strictly descriptive manner, and then see how long it takes for someone to claim it's uncivil. We can then use this to point out how impossible it is to come up with a civil term to simply describe some type of disruptive behavior and how ridiculous things have gotten. I'm going out to lunch now, but I'll see if I can come up with something that initially seems civil and reasonably descriptive. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 15:52, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Thats an idea only a completely araun bjelstok would come up with! What were you thinking? --Stephan Schulz (talk) 16:02, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Er.. wouldn't it be less work and more valuable to just discuss problematic behaviors without trying to label the editor? We can say "The edits you've been making are biased" rather than "You're a troll". If user conduct is an ongoing issue we can even say "Editor X has exhibited a pattern of biased editing" rather than "X is a rotten no-good POV-pusher". Friday (talk) 15:59, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Somehow I think you are not quite understanding the point and the situation. You know what would happen? If everyone said "The edits you've been making are biased", it might eventually be abbreviated to TEYBMAB, and before you know it, the phrase and TEYBMAB would be viewed as a horrible heinous attack and a violation of CIVIL and a blockable offense!!! You are labelling some poor editor as someone who makes biased edits!! Oh heaven forfend!! The same obviously is true of "Editor X has exhibited a pattern of biased editing". How long would it be before that phrase took on negative connotations and penumbrations? A few months, a year or two maybe. THAT is what we are discussing here.--Filll (talk) 16:10, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Do you really think it's productive to invent imaginary problems like this? Why not focus on real problems that we actually have? I see all kinds of "Oh no! Here are bad things I think are going to happen!" and much less "here are actual bad things that really did occur." Isn't it less work to solve only the real problems and leave the imaginary ones alone? Friday (talk) 16:14, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

With all due respect, some people think this is part of a real problem. WP:CIVIL appears to be increasingly abused in various ways. WP:CIVIL is being enforced more and more aggressively ("homeopathy promoter" is unCIVIL? Saying someone is making a boneheaded argument, and then apologizing for any offense that caused, is unCIVIL and reason to be blocked? Jokingly saying that in a RfA, someone else voted in the wrong place, and then upon being chastised for this "unCIVIL" remark, dismissing it by saying "I dont give a monkeys for what you believe" is unCIVIL and reason for sanctions?) It is a little hard to claim that the standards for CIVIL have not changed in the last year or two, and the effects have both been beneficial and detrimental. Ask User:Ddstretch. Ask User: ScienceApologist. Ask User: JzG. Ask User: Malleus Fatuarum. And many more. As Guy states "People, spitting in the soup is uncivil, but the community right now seems to have more of a problem with telling the soup-spitters to eff off than it does with the soup-spitting." [23]
CIVIL is a perfect weapon for assorted "malcontents" and they know it. And they wield it as a weapon. And it has had effects in assorted FRINGE areas. And if this trend continues, then the original premise of these pages will become reality; all experts will be forced to abandon all FRINGE articles. Because FRINGE proponents have, with some degree of success so far (and maybe more to come if we let it happen), been able to claim that disagreeing with FRINGE proponents is unCIVIL. Even if you disagree politely, it is unCIVIL. Because it is unfair. And it is nasty and mean to enforce NPOV.
You want an example of a real problem? Look at the Arbcomm case on 911 Conspiracy theories. They want to relabel these so they are not called conspiracy theories since they believe that is pejorative. There is a movement afoot to make the use of the term "truther" by anyone who is not a "truther" unCIVIL and some admins are buying into it since it is an unCIVIL label.
You want to hand malcontents a greater number of assorted weapons to create pure nonsense articles? Carry on, you seem to be doing a great job with that attitude. In fact, I think you should join with me in leading the charge for ALL rational people and ALL science oriented people to abandon ALL FRINGE articles and watch them deteriorate into nonsense as quickly as possible. Join me in a proposal to remove all NPOV and NOR and RS restrictions on FRINGE articles. Let's not have some covert war with these CIVILity weapons and other assorted tricks deployed. Let's just surrender and let them take possession that they so badly want. There would be less turmoil and less fighting, and we would lose less editors. It would reduce the drama and time and energy wasting activities.--Filll (talk) 16:37, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't think that there can be any doubt at all that the standard for civility has significantly changed over the last year. To the extent that I am now seeing people - including myself - being exhorted to be "nicer", with the promise of rewards to come.[24] How long before WP:CIVIL gets replaced by WP:NICE? That's really at the root of what's going wrong, I think; too many spotty administrators unable to distinguish between disagreement and incivility. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 18:22, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
PS, when I wrote that I didn't realize that WP:NICE actually exists already. God help us! --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 18:25, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Meh. Your "lets have a war" outlook is showing, and I'm not interested in climbing onto that bandwagon. I already do lots of work in removing nonsense articles. And, I have never seen than the expectation of basic civility makes this job any harder at all. In fact, acting like a reasonable adult instead of a fanatic makes the job easier. Friday (talk) 16:51, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
You're still missing the point: You can act like a reasonable adult and still get in trouble for being uncivil. 16:55, 28 March 2008 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Infophile (talkcontribs)

Exactly. That is the point. When assorted "malcontents" start slinging around spurious WP:CIVIL charges and admins start listening to their spurious arguments, I personally leave the field of WP:BATTLE. It is too dangerous. I do not want a war. Editing becomes so so so treacherous that even stating someone else has used a bad argument can get a person in trouble, even if an apology is offered. The examples I gave above are all real examples. You want links? And I have seen this dozens and dozens and dozens of other times. I am not making this stuff up here.--Filll (talk) 17:03, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
I've heard that. But when I've asked for examples, I've gotten either off-topic rants or "go find them yourself". Friday (talk) 16:57, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Not from me. But go look at these.--Filll (talk) 17:06, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Filll, could you explain how this is a relevant example? What I see here is the following: TT confronts SA with a diff that seems to imply that SA assumed bad faith. (This is the most positive explanation of SA's behaviour that I can find.) SA makes a comment insinuating that there is a problem with TT's reading comprehension, which seems to be completely off-topic. TT says that's not civil and produces another, similar diff. SA makes a non-apology, thereby effectively repeating the off-topic insult.
This is how I, and I expect a lot of other people, read this. What am I overlooking, what did I misunderstand here? --Hans Adler (talk) 19:25, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Well everyone has their own reading of the situation and come to their own conclusions. And I have not looked at all the details. I will also admit that SA can get a bit much sometimes; there is no question of that. I would, however, beg to differ about the nonapology apology. The reading comprehension might have been a mildly rude thing to say, but it wasnt really unCIVIL. It was not really over the top. Neither was stating that someone had a "boneheaded argument". So, each has to reach their own conclusions. I personally do not think these were blockable offenses. And I do not think Malleus was so bad. And I have seen dozens of other cases.--Filll (talk) 19:42, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Is calling an argument "boneheaded" likely to lead to good conflict resolution, or not? I won't say it's uncivil, because it's not my place to tell others whether they're being civil, but I'll say it's a foolish way to speak. Taking a moment to come up with a less scornful and more descriptive word would have both obviated the claims of incivility, but it would have been more productive, for pointing out just what was specifically wrong with the argument, rather than simply calling it names. There's no reason for a literate adult to resort to a word such as "boneheaded". We're all quite a bit cleverer than that. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:46, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I have plenty to say on this. But perhaps it is not the time or place. I just think blocking someone for saying someone else had a boneheaded argument, and apologizing for any offense that caused after, is really not some terrible crime that needed a 3 day vacation from WP. And part of the problem is, in FRINGE articles, which I think most of the PC police have no experience with, we have NPOV and NOR and RS not being enforced, but the standards for CIVIL are moving, and CIVIL is being enforced increasingly aggressively. And that is not without some costs.--Filll (talk) 19:50, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
First of all, NPOV and NOR and RS are not enforced by admins; they're enforced by consensus. You have to build consensus for edits to make them stick. Content policies aren't enforced by admins; behavior policies are. You need to learn how to build consesnsus against POV-pushers, but you haven't bothered to learn that, because you want to win just by calling them names and making them go away. As far as over-aggressive enforcement of CIVIL, don't just whine about it; oppose it effectively. Rise above all accusations of incivility, hand your false accusers rope, and let them hang. Stop hanging yourself instead. Don't complaing about "Civility police", just make sure you never fall afoul of them. It's easy, just check your contempt at the door. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:00, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
It is just easier not to edit at all. Problem solved.--Filll (talk) 20:08, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, that's another solution, if giving up is what you wish to do. If you'd rather be right and lose than be right and win, ok. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:43, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

The idea that "You can act like a reasonable adult and still get in trouble for being uncivil" is unfounded. If you're civil, you won't get into trouble for being uncivil. It's easy to be civil; just refrain from being uncivil, ever, for any reason. Incivility undermines whatever you're trying to do anyway, so you won't miss it.

Spurious claims of incivility are easy to deal with: you shine light on them, and let observers see that your weren't, in fact, uncivil. Spurious claims of incivility may be dismissed as such, unless you do so uncivilly, because then you've just handed them the whole game.

"When assorted "malcontents" start slinging around spurious WP:CIVIL charges and admins start listening to their spurious arguments", if someone makes a spurious charge, and an admin seems to be buying it, come get me or another admin who knows the difference between incivility and abuse. Wikilawyering back means they win. Retreating means they win. Being uncivil means they win. Don't let them win. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:30, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

(ec)I personally have been using the term "malcontent" for this, but if someone comes up with a better term, like skoller or wumfus or allegerator or asserter, then I would be glad to start a campaign to switch. I am sure that any of these terms would quickly be set upon by the political correctness enforcers/WP:CIVIL patrol as uncivil and unfairly labelling anyone they were applied to. In fact, today someone just told me that the term "politically correct" is no longer politically correct. Interesting...but ridiculous.--Filll (talk) 16:03, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

By the way, I would not claim the "sky is falling". What I believe is that certain trends might exist. And that it is valuable to discuss the possibility that such trends exist and represent some real phenomena or shift in the WP culture.
I also do not believe that our current systems are optimal for handling all situations. Just as I do not think that our systems 2 or 3 years ago were optimal, and that our current mechanisms and principles are better now than they were 2 or 3 years ago.
And that is the point of raising these issues. To discuss them. To try to generate ideas. To compare notes. --Filll (talk) 16:15, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
After giving some thought to the most ridiculous term to use, I've come up with "biped." Just use that wherever you would otherwise use "troll", "vandal", "POV pusher", etc. Sure, it labels them, but it'll just illustrate the idiocy of that claim if anyone tries to make it in this case. If you want to go even more ridiculous, we could just use "them" (with the bolding intact). Let's see them make us stop using a pronoun... --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:44, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that would be an interesting experiment. I like both of those suggestions. --Filll (talk) 16:49, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

At this point, I think I'm edging towards "them", just because of a quote from Becker: "'Them' is not a code word; 'them' is a pronoun!" Ah, that was a great scene. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 16:58, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Since GTB and company think this is all so trivial, I would invite them to go in and solve a mess, barehanded and alone. It is too bad that we blocked the worst of THEM on homeopathy a couple of weeks ago. I would love to see you "build consensus" with that group. And end up with anything approaching NPOV. Don't lecture me over and over and over about how incompetent and awful and whiney and stupid I am. Show me how it is done. It is just far too dangerous to set foot in such discussions in the current climate, as far as I am concerned.--Filll (talk) 20:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

It's a good thing that you mentioned these the blocks. I wasn't aware of them, and was beginning to wonder what was wrong there… --Hans Adler (talk) 21:43, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Nobody has called you incompetent or awful or whiny or stupid. I would characterize you as competent, intelligent, basically a good person, and with really terrible conflict resolution skills. Your approach to fire is to throw gasoline on it.

I wish you'd point me to a discussion that is "far too dangerous" because I haven't seen it yet. As for the homeopathy article, I'm working on that one, slowly. One of my strategies is to get you on the productive discourse bandwagon, because you're in one of the best positions to be productive, if you'll only take the opportunity.

As for "I invite you to build consensus with that group," you're missing a big part of the strategy. If you've got a group of people with whom you can't build consensus, you use WP:3O and WP:RFC to get more people in the group. New eyes will clearly see who is being neutral and who is full of it. Trust them, rather than trying to win single-handedly, and becoming frustrated to the point of calling people names. Nevertheless, whichever article(s) you point me to as "too dangerous", I'll see you there. I haven't seen this danger, but I believe that there is a real problem you're identifying, and I want to see it actually happening so I can help you work on it.

Abuse of WP:CIVIL really is a problem, and we should talk about how to best address it. Complaining about "civility police" isn't it. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:43, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Is chiropractic an example of a "too dangerous" page? Where can I meet these "civility warriors"? Let's pick a "dangerous" page, you identify an edit or edits that need doing, and I'll do it. Deal? -GTBacchus(talk) 20:45, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Well I am not editing a page that is out of control at the moment. After we dumped 2 or 3 or more editors from homeopathy, it calmed down, unsurprisingly. I do not know about chiropractic, although I have heard rumors. I would love you to explain WP:NPOV to User: Martinphi for example, and convince him that the definition we have in our policies is the correct one to apply. Or User: DanaUllman, but Dana has calmed down a bit since his 3rd or 4th vacation from WP. Maybe he will get rolling again. You will not have the pleasure of talking to User: Whig about it, or User: profg about it however. User: anthon01 has problems understanding NPOV, but he has not been as persistent as the others, and has disappeared. It would have been good for you to negotiate with User: Amaltheus, but I am afraid he left when he could not get his way.--Filll (talk) 20:52, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

I'm not asking you to edit any page, I'm asking you to point me to one. For this experiment, I would prefer you not edit the page. Are you going to point me to one? You've nothing to lose, right? Are you willing to put this to the test, or not? You're challenging me to go to a "dangerous" article and improve it.... no, here it is: "I would invite them to go in and solve a mess, barehanded and alone" That invitation is ridiculous on one level, because "alone" is precisely the wrong way to do it. One of the most important strategies involves getting other people when things get rough. What I will do is demonstrate my actual strategies, and not something you made up. Nobody would claim that "barehanded and alone" makes any sense, but you're quite comfortable implying that that's my claim. Whatever; I know what I said. So, are you going to point me to an article, or are you bluffing? -GTBacchus(talk) 20:58, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Chiropractic would certainly be a good article to try this on. Another candidate might be What the Bleep Do We Know?, which I'd guess would be a fair bit easier at first. If you want to start off with the worst, though, chiropractic is probably it. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 21:13, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, you've mentioned that one before, and I watchlisted it. I also got your note on my talk page explaining part of the problem there. This last two weeks have been mad, and I'm about to be out of town for three-and-a-half days, but when I get back, working on the neutrality of that article is at the top of my Wikipedia to-do list. Friday, if you want to jump in too, I'll be happy to see you there. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:31, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I'm willing to jump in and try to help out in situations like this as well. I'm encouraged by what Fill said above, though.. it sounds like there are a few examples where the system has worked reasonably well. If editors who're unable to be neutral are talked to, that's a good first step. If they get blocked when they're repeatedly disruptive, that's an unfortunate but good second step. If, eventually, they're being shown the door when consistently unable to get it, that's an unfortunate but helpful third step. Maybe things aren't really as bad as some people think? Maybe I'm just silly or naive but I believe these problems can be solved short of abandoning the project, and without throwing civil discourse out with the bathwater. Friday (talk) 21:01, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
To that point, I really don't think we're going to save it by abandoning civil discourse, because that would end our ability to get anything done. If there's a leak in the ship, the solution is not to blast a hole in the hull, it turns out. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:05, 28 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, it's one way to get rid of that specific leak, I suppose. I think this is where it's good to remember that the end goal is not "destroy all leaks by any means necessary" but rather "we want a watertight ship." Friday (talk) 21:07, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

NPOV and SPOV[edit]

Please let's not forget that while some of the wicked pseudoscience POV pushers doubtless do not understand Wikipedia, and NPOV and RS, people like Filll don't understand either: " we have NPOV and NOR and RS not being enforced." I've heard this complaint a number of times- it seems that they believe that their version of NPOV (SPOV) should be enforced. But...... every time neutral editors from outside the dispute come in, they agree with me. They agree with a version of articles which does not tell the reader what to think. Even sometimes people like Moreschi, who is definitely SPOV, come in and say "What the heck are you complaining about?" And that's a fact. I won't stand by and let people here play NPOV and claim that their understanding of WP is superior to the "other side." Those here will not take my challenge to actually make what they say policy, because they know for a fact that it would be torn apart. And that means they know for a fact that they are subverting Wikipedia. Let there be no misunderstanding about that. This isn't basically about civility, it's about POV pushing. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 00:40, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Hilarious. But still wrong, sorry. I wish you wouldn't mind having a voice interview; maybe if we electronically altered your voice?--Filll (talk) 00:50, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
Martin, even when I agree with the substance of your arguments (as with not telling the reader what to think), the unvarnished gamesmanship evident in your approach is distressing. I thought that looking at the actual history of WP:SPOV was instructive, in that it reflects common ground more than anything else, but you continue to try to use it as a wedge issue. MastCell Talk 02:54, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean by gamesmanship. If you look at the responses to the question on SPOV put at the ArbCom election, you see that senior members of the community, at least, think there is a very significant difference between NPOV and SPOV. And the history of SPOV is instructive, in that the community could use more debate about it. So I find it rather funny that you guys seem to not want to have that debate. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 06:05, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
FYI [25] ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 06:31, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

I have to agree with Mastcell. This does seem to be a case of WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT. I do not think this issue exists, except as a strategy to cause turmoil that Martinphi trots out. I do not think that it has any more substance than that and has been addressed repeatedly.--Filll (talk) 13:57, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

The issue that you don't think exists, would that be the question of whether NPOV=SPOV? Can you say what your take is on how the community views NPOV versus SPOV? -GTBacchus(talk) 19:23, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Well it is sometimes claimed by Martinphi that pro science editors want to claim dishonestly that NPOV=SPOV, or want to dishonestly and incorrectly redefine NPOV=SPOV. However, I believe that this is not correct.

NPOV states that one should represent views in proportion to their prominence, often defined as what is found in WP:RS. For topics which fall under the purview of science, such as articles in medicine, or assorted areas of purported pseudoscience, or physical phenomena of one type or another, then we will quickly find that NPOV dictates that a substantial measure of the article should be from the viewpoint of the mainstream scientific consensus. Of course for FRINGE topics, I believe we have a weakness in our policies since "in proportion to their prominence" would result in an article that did not always clearly describe the subject. So we compromise a bit, and allow FRINGE viewpoints more space than "in proportion to their prominence" would normally dictate in these cases.

So NPOV can result in an article that is often dominantly or at least significantly from SPOV. But NPOV is not the same as SPOV. And I have never seen anyone but FRINGE advocates who are trying to create a strawman make this claim.--Filll (talk) 19:35, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, there are many arguments like this... in this case it is that RS = SPOV so NPOV = SPOV. Well, that is the same as saying that NPOV = SPOV, which is what I said. If you like, we could try and put this in the rules, something that says, "Non mainstream scientific journals, even if peer-reviewed, are not RS." And, "Mainstream opinions, if they differ with the mainstream scientific view, are to be treated as minority opinions, even in articles about themselves." But, in the end, it all boils down to NPOV = SPOV. This would be fine, but it's not what we have now.
You say:
I believe we have a weakness in our policies since "in proportion to their prominence" would result in an article that did not always clearly describe the subject. So we compromise a bit, and allow FRINGE viewpoints more space than "in proportion to their prominence" would normally dictate in these cases.
This is a contradiction, when decoded:
1. the main prominence -WEIGHT- is with the fringe viewpoints, according to the sources
2. we "compromise," which means that the WEIGHT is actually with mainstream science
So, in other words, WEIGHT is with the fringe subject, but SHOULD be with the mainstream science, so you compromise what SHOULD be a little.
That's SPOV. Like I say, WEIGHT is relative to the subject of the article. WP:WEIGHT needs to say that mainstream science always has prominence before this is resolved, which is why I issue the challenge to write it that way, clearly. If that's what it already means, there shouldn't be a problem. And I'm serious when I say I wouldn't mind it being that way, what I mind is the re-interpretation.
You haven't contradicted me here, you've just made my claim more specific. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 21:33, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

That is just my understanding of the situation and what was explained to me. Now if someone has a different explanation, then I would like to hear it. But, sorry, not from Martinphi, who I have heard on this topic several times and I do not find particularly compelling. Sorry.--Filll (talk) 22:27, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't know if I would find Martin's argument compelling or not, because I've never been able to understand what it is. I printed out the interview and have read it over and over, and have read the discussion above over and over, as well as other such discussions in different places, but I can't understand it. It's not that I find it unpersuasive, it's that I find it incomprehensible. As I said somewhere else on this page, I think SPOV is a distraction, not a useful term (I don't understand Fill's use of it any more than I understand Martin's) and I agree wholeheartedly with MastCell that SPOV serves as a wedge issue to polarize the discussion, when what we need is an understanding of common ground.
So, in the interest of educating this confused newbie about NPOV, I would like Martin and whoever else would like to chime in, to explain to me, using an example of a fringe topic, and without invoking the term SPOV, what NPOV would look like. I would appreciate it very much, thanks.Woonpton (talk) 16:20, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that is a very sensible idea. I will try one. In the case of an article on evolution, I believe NPOV dictates that the vast majority of the article be about the dominant mainstream scientific definition of the concept (change in distribution of alleles over time in a population of organisms). Perhaps 95% or 99% of the article or more should be devoted to material, similar to what one might find in an evolutionary biology textbook. Perhaps a sentence or two at most might allude to the controversy with creationists. In one of the associated FRINGE articles, say on intelligent design, the description of intelligent design from the viewpoint of the proponents of intelligent design should be prominent, but not dominant. The major portion of the intelligent design concept is actually to claim that there are unanswered failings of evolution, and therefore intelligent design is the only other choice. The view of the mainstream science involved should form a substantial portion of the article; perhaps as much as 50% or more, as long as intelligent design is described in sufficient detail. For FRINGE topics which are even more obscure, and there are few if any reliable sources describing a mainstream position, things become more difficult. For example, suppose that a FRINGE topic like EVP is considered, and few if any sources examine this phenomenon in detail. It is still reasonable to note why this is so (not sufficiently likely to warrant scientific investigation), or to describe other explanations for radio static from conventional scientific studies (solar wind, propagation of EM waves from lightning discharges worldwide, etc). The phenomenon should not be presented as something which is accepted as true, or is likely to be accepted as true, nor should either of these be implied, and these views only attributed to those who are proponents of this view, with their qualifications noted. That is just off the top of my head. If I thought about this a bit more, I probably would have a lot more to write.--Filll (talk) 17:23, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Science in the NPOV FAQ[edit]

The above discussion is interesting. I'm reading it in the context of just having read Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ#Giving "equal validity":

Please be clear on one thing: the Wikipedia neutrality policy certainly does not state, or imply, that we must "give equal validity" to minority views. It does state that we must not take a stand on them as encyclopedia writers; but that does not stop us from describing the majority views as such; from fairly explaining the strong arguments against the pseudoscientific theory; from describing the strong moral repugnance that many people feel toward some morally repugnant views; and so forth.

...and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ#Pseudoscience:

Theories which have a following, such as astrology, but which are generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community may properly contain that information and may be categorized as pseudoscience. . . . Pseudoscience is a social phenomenon and therefore significant, but it should not obfuscate the description of the main views, and any mention should be proportionate and represent the majority (scientific) view as the majority view and the minority (sometimes pseudoscientific) view as the minority view; and, moreover, to explain how scientists have received pseudoscientific theories. This is all in the purview of the task of describing a dispute fairly.

What do readers here think of those excerpts? Do they give sufficient weight to the scientific community's take on fringe topics? -GTBacchus(talk) 17:20, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

What it says I pretty much agree with, but the biggest problems I'm seeing are on topics about fringe views when it comes to undue weight, such as the main Homeopathy article. It's argued by many that this article should be completely or mostly about simply describing what Homeopathy is, its history, etc., and should give extremely little if any space to the scientific viewpoint. The argument isn't about how we say things, but whether we're allowed to say them at all. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 17:35, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
This is good in principle, but sometimes it breaks down in practice. The problem comes when an idea is so ridiculous that the scientific community has given it little or no attention. It's extremely unlikely that any scientist would get an NSF grant to research electronic voice phenomena and his or her department chair would (rightly) think they were crazy to spend time studying such a thing. So almost all available references are in-universe twaddle. We can't even call it pseudoscience or unfounded because almost no credible authorities outside its little garden of woo have bothered to comment. Raymond Arritt (talk) 17:37, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes. And of course, my suggestion of an explanation for the origins of static and attribution of the variance in electromagnetic static might be rejected by WP purists as WP:SYNTH and WP:OR. So this shows a small loophole in our policies. Also, in "proportion to their prominence" is too vague, or not well defined for assorted FRINGE topics, for a variety of reasons.--Filll (talk) 17:52, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

NPOV violation flags[edit]

Here is a common statement from someone who is aggressively promoting an agenda in the 911 Conspiracy articles, at the associated Arbcomm case: [26]. This happens over and over, where in administrative actions and on talk pages, assorted malcontents claim they have not violated a thing, and have no agenda and are just following NPOV. What we need to do is to make this easier to track, like we do 3RR or CIVIL.

Now in the case of WP:CIVIL, except for the borderline cases (which are unfortunately becoming more frequent), everyone can tell when CIVIL has been violated (as in one editor telling another, "You are a stupid $#@% piece of %$#%&*").

In the case of 3RR, we have a system in place for deciding what is a revert, and warning people etc. And then with DIFFS, an admin can check that these really were reverts, and that there were 3 or more of them in 24 hours, etc.

In the case of NPOV, we do not have this. That is why I am proposing something like the "POV Outline" for an article. We define ahead of time what the POVs are that will be covered, and in what proportion. And people sign on to this agreement. And consensus is established. And if someone does not follow consensus, they get warned. And then sanctioned.--Filll (talk) 18:00, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

How about a CIVIL abuse noticeboard?[edit]

When CIVIL is abused or overaggressively applied by various admins, why not have a noticeboard where people can be called in to give a 2nd and 3rd opinion and judge whether something is reasonable or not?--Filll (talk) 22:29, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

What would/could the sanction be for those admins considered to have abused their authority in that way? --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 04:11, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I am not sure that we need sanctions here. For example I am quite sure that Ryan Postlethwaite will be more careful next time. As I see it the problem is that nobody knows what the standard is. Once that is clearer and admins don't follow it, we can talk about that again, of course. I am not sure what to think about the CIVIL noticeboard idea, but it could be useful to develop such a standard. --Hans Adler (talk) 12:22, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Clear standards would be good. Part of the difficulty of course is that standards recently have been changing. And that is causing confusion.--Filll (talk) 12:41, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
At the danger of drifting slightly off topic, what confidence could anyone have that any standards developed would be applied equally to administrators and non-administrators? To use a playground analogy, administrators are members of a gang; individual editors are just that, individuals. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 19:34, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I think the standard is clear. If you treat people with respect and digity, there's no trouble, and anyone who consistently fails to do that will eventually get called on it. The changing standard that I've observed is that we've started cracking down on people who used to get away with being extremely abrasive just because they did good work. The difference with admins is that they often have more history of good work. There's less tolerance for caustic discourse now, but that just means we've started enforcing what we've been saying all along. Be excellent to each other. That's all WP:CIVIL has ever needed to say. Nobody who follows that rule need worry about "violating" WP:CIVIL (an amusing and fictitious concept). -GTBacchus(talk) 02:13, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Anyone can already offer opinions, anywhere such things are being discussed. In fact, this already frequently happens. When someone makes an unwarranted complaint of incivility, people already generally respond by saying "What? I don't see incivility here." Friday (talk) 19:37, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

That tends to happen more or less in secret though. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 19:42, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
Huh? When someone publicly complains of incivility, the responses need to be public as well. Friday (talk) 19:48, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
How many editors have RfC watchlisted though, for instance? Or AN/I? Not many I suspect. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 20:51, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
What, and all those people who don't bother to watchlist AN/I or RFC are going to flock to watchlist a new Civility Abuse noticeboard? I'm still waiting to see an example of one of these in the wild. Every time Filll has pointed one out to me, I've seen impotent attempts to accuse someone of non-existent incivility, and I've seen nobody buying it. It's hard for me to get too worked up over something I've never seen, and when I ask for examples, they're not forthcoming. I still want to see an example of "CIVIL abuse" that works. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:13, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
You ought to watchlist WP:AE, if you haven't already. Look for threads titled "ScienceApologist". They come through every 2-3 days. In some cases, ScienceApologist actually is uncivil and his ArbCom sanction probably ought to be applied. In other cases, it's fairly evident that his opponents in various content disputes are throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. Whether a particular complaint is deemed frivolous or rewarded with a 96-hour block depends almost entirely on the luck of the draw in terms of which admin responds and what mood they're in, as far as I can tell. That debacle epitomizes a deep misunderstanding of WP:CIVIL on all sides, to my mind. MastCell Talk 05:49, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
It's on my watchlist, and I'll start paying more attention to it. You know... ScienceApologist has made his bed pretty well. You can only piss on so many people before there's a crowd of angry villagers at your door with torches and pitchforks, and at that point, it's very difficult for anyone to help you.

How does one deal with an editor who is chronically uncivil to the point that declaring civility itself to be a total waste of time? How does one work with someone like that? Such an approach is anathema to collaboration, and anyone who doesn't see that is ignoring actual science, because the evidence is pretty clear that rampant incivility is like gasoline to the fire of conflict.

That someone who doesn't even try to treat people with respect and dignity is embattled over incivility is not, to me, evidence of abuse. If my impression of SA is wrong, I dearly hope that I'll be corrected (as opposed to just yelled at). -GTBacchus(talk) 15:49, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Having said all that, his most recent block at AE seems to have been fairly ill-founded, and was overturned. I'll stay tuned. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:03, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I agree 100% (with your longer post, I mean). You can only go so far to accomodate someone who insists on shooting themselves (and others) in the foot. I think the question of how to deal with someone who declares civility a waste of time is an interesting one. The only thing I can say categorically is that one method guaranteed to be a complete and utter failure is to put them on "civility parole" subject to arbitrary, confusing, and inconsistent enforcement with blocks. MastCell Talk 16:19, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, civility parole seems to be an odd sort of solution. It's really something we have to learn how to do as a community. We've got to learn to draw a line between constructive discussion and the other kind, and we've got to learn how to react to personal comments in a way that minimizes their disruption. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:53, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Attempts to abuse CIVIL don't have to work, or work consistently, for them to have an effect. And the fact that we are observing them and blowing the whistle on this abuse tends to make it less likely to "work"; that is the entire point. --Filll (talk) 13:30, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

They do have to ever work for them to have an effect on you; otherwise you're running from shadows. Everything you've shown me was already a shadow by the time I get there. I've asked for past examples, but you were on example-strike that day, so that didn't work. I still want to see these frivolous blocks, or at least one of them. I don't know why I have to ask so many times to see that, if they're so prevalent that articles are considered "dangerous". (And yes, now that I'm back in town w/ time on my hands, I'll be having a look at chiropractic.) -GTBacchus(talk) 15:49, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I have to decide how to best spend my time. I find spending hundreds of hours digging through past archives singularly unpleasant and pointless. --Filll (talk) 15:54, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Right. That's why I've never asked for more than 2 minutes. Careful you don't exaggerate what other people ask for. One frivolous block? Hundreds of hours? Are you being literally accurate here? -GTBacchus(talk) 16:00, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

This is a somewhat open-ended request. And for now, I just think I won't bother, as I have said before. I would rather wait until I see one come up. I am pretty sure that you will reject anything found for you anyway.--Filll (talk) 16:24, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I will reject anything found for me? That's an interesting and untested hypothesis, based on unwarranted assumptions about me. You seem to think I'm not open-minded, or that I'm not "on your side" in some way. Are you actually such a dedicated follower of science that you'll decline to provide evidence on the grounds that the other probably would "probably" reject it? That's sad, dude. If I weren't open to learning things, I wouldn't be here at all.

I happen to absolutely believe you, that such frivolous blocks happen. How could they not? I just wish somebody would show me one, so we could begin to address that problem. It seems you'd rather bitch about it in the abstract. When a plumber shows up and says, "where's the leak", your reaction is to complain about how they never send plumbers, and that you haven't got hundreds of hours to run around finding leaks? Really? -GTBacchus(talk) 16:51, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I am positive leaks will show up, without me having to look for them. Whether you will agree with me or others that what we claim are leaks are actually leaks, remains to be seen. And what I have seen so far is that I have pointed out a few leaks, which then since I pointed them out, were quickly repaired. And since they were repaired, you can claim there are no such things as leaks. However, if I had not pointed them out, they probably would not have been repaired.

It is like the Arbcomm case I was in a few months ago. Some ludicrous charges about CIVIL were bandied about. And I spent hours and hours and hours fighting them. And eventually, they disappeared without a trace. Now, someone can say, "well see, those charges never amounted to anything. So therefore, you are full of crap, there are no problems with ludicrous abuses of CIVIL and spurious claims of CIVIL, and never were". However, that does not explain why I had to spend so many hours getting them dismissed, does it? However, the fact that I did, means they never existed. So it is a sort of nonsense argument that I can never win if someone is determined to show there are no problems with CIVIL. Because the very act of me shining a spotlight on problems with CIVIL sometimes makes the problems disappear, so someone can claim that I am full of BS for saying there was a problem with CIVIL. Ah, so logical, and so rational, isn't it?--Filll (talk) 17:01, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, except for the part where I claimed leaks don't exist, or the part where I say you're full of crap. I never said nor thought any of that. Your ideas about what I think are very interesting, and almost entirely unrelated to what I actually think. In particular, you seem to assume that I'm closed-minded, ordurate, that I don't listen, and that I've already decided that you're wrong. None of that is true. How long will you piss on someone before you realize they're your friend? A week? A month?

I don't think a civility abuse noticeboard is necessary, because I think it's a problem we can solve by simply working on it, and I think bureaucratic noticeboards tend to be actively destructive, and are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. I've never claimed that people don't try to abuse WP:CIVIL, and it has no doubt worked at some point. I don't think it's rampant. I disagree that it's difficult to address. I think it's easy to fix, and I'm here to help. You want to piss on me some more now, Filll? -GTBacchus(talk) 17:15, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Excuse me? How am I pissing on you? I never said that you never claimed leaks do not exist, or that you would claim I am full of crap. But some would, I am fairly sure. Or potentially could. Hmmm...--Filll (talk) 17:49, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Well, I take offense at "I am pretty sure that you will reject anything found for you anyway." When you say "And since they were repaired, you can claim there are no such things as leaks," you suggest - you raise the possibility - that I might ever make such a claim. You didn't directly say that I think you're full of crap, but rather slipped the idea in there in a way that you could plausibly disown it. That counts as pissing in my book, because it's rhetorically underhanded. If you think that I think you're full of crap, say so, or better, ask me outright. If you don't think it, don't moot it as a conclusion that "some would" come to, you're "fairly sure". That's a way to say something without owning it, and it's not very respectful to your interlocutors. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:28, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
I will also point out that it is reasonable to expect that about 99% or more of the ideas we come up with on these pages will be complete nonsense and this is to be expected.--Filll (talk) 17:50, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand the thrust or import of this comment in the present context. Sorry if I'm missing something obvious. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:29, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Did you read the whole thing? I have repeatedly said that I want to stir up new ideas. Brainstorming, as it were. And when you are brainstorming, as I repeat here frequently, you have to realize and in fact expect most ideas will be nonsense. That should not stop anyone from having them and telling others about them, because even nonsense ideas can spur someone else to a good idea. Or the discussion of a nonsense idea can lead someone else to have a good idea. --Filll (talk) 20:20, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I did. You may rest assured that I won't reply to your comments without reading them all the way through. I still don't know why you said that in this context. Is anybody suggesting that we shouldn't brainstorm, or that there's something wrong with that process? I don't disagree with what you're saying it; I just don't see what its thrust or import is in the specific present context. Does my question not make sense? -GTBacchus(talk) 23:08, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

suggests strongly to look at WP:PAIN to see what could most probably happen to a civility noticeboard --Enric Naval (talk) 12:45, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Quote of the year[edit]

Rules concerning original research, fringe and reliable sources effectively defeat the ability of knowledgeable editors to even neutrally describe paranormal subjects. The rules are good in mainstream subjects, but frontier subjects are virtually all described via original research, so a "frontier" category needs to be established to allow for this. Tom Butler (talk) 20:22, 29 March 2008 (UTC) [27]

Curiously, this is exactly what all those nasty unCIVIL SPOV advocates have been saying all along. Preach it Tom, we don't disagree with you. Shot info (talk) 02:11, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
That is quite a statement. Care to be interviewed for broadcast Tom? I think we would like to have you. Are you available?--Filll (talk) 02:27, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm a little puzzled by this special pleading for "frontier" subjects. What "frontier" is being explored, and why can't it be investigated using the now well-established scientific method? On the other hand, if "frontier" is simply a synonym for "paranormal", then I do quite understand why some would prefer that the rules were changed. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 02:53, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, "frontier" was used here as a synonym (more properly, a euphemism) for "paranormal." Raymond Arritt (talk) 03:03, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

The frontier is the edge, that is, the FRINGE.--Filll (talk) 03:27, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Articles on "paranormal" subjects do seem to be disproportionately difficult to get right. Their subject matter may or may not be worthy of investigation, but an article on, let's say evp is valuable so long as it's written from a rational, scientific perspective ... ah, I think I see the problem now. That's one of the "frontier" subjects, where different rules and standards of evidence apply. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 04:07, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I'd say that this is the quote of the year: Admins only enforce NPOV and RS if they are abusing their tools - from the SA-MP interview. "Neutral point of view is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia" but under no circumstances should it be enforced. Mostlyharmless (talk) 06:44, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
It should be taught. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 07:03, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Harmless, I like this one even better, from the same source: "Mainstream science is a notable view, it is usually the truest view, and scientific literacy is totally abysmal. But it isn't Wikipedia's mission to correct social ills..." Woonpton (talk) 21:35, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree whole-heartedly with Kim Bruning here. I believe we do a singularly bad job of teaching NPOV here at the moment (NOR and RS as well).--Filll (talk) 11:33, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Also, as the exchange with Martinphi above points out, there is some confusion / inconsistency / contradictions / lacunae in the text describing NPOV in the case of FRINGE areas, or at least appears to be. This should be corrected first before trying to teach it better, or train editors and admins.--Filll (talk) 11:35, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Lectures? O:-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:50, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

I think any and all reasonable methods for teaching/training should be considered (once it is clear what the policies are of course).--Filll (talk) 12:53, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Most teaching here happens by example, I've noticed. How do you get people to sign up for lectures? -GTBacchus(talk) 02:13, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
People objected to my plan to do some teaching by example, so I set up lectures instead. Surprisingly, people have signed up. ^^;; --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:11, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Well there you go. People objected to your teaching by example? How does that work? They said, "stop editing the wiki, Kim, people might learn something?" -GTBacchus(talk) 15:37, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Heh no, that much works, definitely! :-) . I was perhaps taking things a little too far at WP:IAR at some point. Oh well! --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:40, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

A followup to the above[edit]

I'd have thought you'd embrace that, Arritt, after all how can the scientific position on fringe subjects of which scientists have not spoken be presented, except by OR? Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 01:00, 31 March 2008 (UTC) [28]

It doesn't get much better than this. A great way to finish the weekend. Raymond Arritt (talk) 01:07, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

As Orac is wont to say "The Stupidity ... it burns..." :-) Shot info (talk) 06:41, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
Wait... I thought I was Orac? Or am I Stephen Barrett's son? I can't keep all of our outed identities straight. MastCell Talk 19:24, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
You're lucky. I'm apparently Stalin... --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 15:54, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Curiously, being compared to Stalin is marginally "nicer", in the moral calculus of our times, than being compared to Hitler. Martin Amis explored the implicit reasoning behind this in Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million. MastCell Talk 16:13, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Approved version editing[edit]

Evolution is now going through a test of "Approved Version editing" in an attempt to deal with vandalism. Take a look here and on the evolution article talk page.--Filll (talk) 20:45, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Civility dustup ...again[edit]

Interestingly, there are calls out to desysop a large group of admins for their participation in April Fool's Day. I answered this here. I do not think it is particularly reasonable.--Filll (talk) 02:27, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

research study of Content Experts on wikipedia[edit]

A PhD student is making a survey here User:KatherinePanciera/WPMentoring. Seems to request 3 years of editing at wikipedia for participation. The page states "the purpose of this study is to learn about how content experts become active on Wikipedia". I thought you would want to know --Enric Naval (talk) 04:46, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Conspiracy of silence[edit]

(Yes, I know the title's an exaggeration, I just thought it was catchy.)

I'm getting increasingly concerned with the lack of any comment from any administrators with regards to User:DanaUllman, and particularly the current blowup on the Homeopathy incidents page. I've made specific requests in the past for so much as a simple comment on the situation with him and been soundly ignored. I have to wonder if there's some reason admins just don't want to get involved with doing something about him. Perhaps because he's a notable person in real life? Maybe because of his former mentorship?

I mean, even if they believe that all the concerns about him are unfounded, shouldn't they at least say such? Even the recent ANI post failed to get any response (to date at least). I can think of a few measures that might force their hands, but I'd really rather not do that if it can at all be avoided. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 17:17, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

My guess is that there's no conspiracy, but that most admins have had enough the whole homeopathy mess and just don't want to deal with it any more. He has a Wikipedia article, Dana Ullman, so by our definition he's "notable in real life" as you say. He has also been under the mentorship/protection of LaraLove, so that's another complication. I'm so disgusted with the whole situation that I haven't edited or even looked in on homeopathy for a long time. Judging from the way Dana has been allowed to carry on unimpeded it looks like the CAM types have won this one. Raymond Arritt (talk) 17:32, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, admins getting sick of it was another suspicion of mine... (Though note that his mentorship is officially over now, but they may not all know of this.) Of course, that doesn't mean it's alright for them all to just leave things be. Is there really any policy or guideline in place to cover what to do when no admin wants to handle a situation that needs attention? I guess maybe you could request arbitration, but then what if they refuse (which they did last time Homeopathy came up there)? I guess then we're left to take things into our own hands and Ignore all rules to the MAX (if it comes to it, I'll explain what I have in mind). I'm just trying to exhaust all other possibilities before that, for my own good. If what I'm doing could be characterized as making trouble, I want it to be perfectly clear that it's because no admins are willing to do anything. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:00, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I would ask that you not do anything that may reflect badly on yourself, or by implication on reality-based editors generally. That would only give ammunition to Dana and his friends. They love to push and push and push and push and push and push and push -- while remaining superficially civil -- until someone snaps and they can say "Look at him! Uncivil! Not assuming good faith!" Raymond Arritt (talk) 18:11, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, don't worry. I plan to do whatever I end up doing in the most composed manner possible. One thing I've been thinking of is basically the Intelligent Design solution, in simply removing any unproductive comments from the talk page. I tried it a couple days ago, and it actually seems to have work. See Talk:Homeopathy#Efficacy_of_Homeopathic_treatment to see how well it worked. --Infophile (Talk) (Contribs) 18:21, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Take the AGF Challenge[edit]

Go to User:Filll/AGF_Challenge. The instructions are at the top of the page; you can choose an essay answer, multiple choice format or anonymous option for answering the Challenge.--Filll (talk) 00:42, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Experience of Wiki infighting[edit]

If anyone's interested, the following describes the more polite parts of a lengthy Wiki battle and related issues:

Mercer, J. (2007). Media Watch: Wikipedia and "open source" mental health information. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, Vol. 5(1), 88-92.

Happily, the problem I was involved with was at length resolved with the help of arbitration, but that resolution had not taken place at the time the article went to press. Jean Mercer (talk) 01:19, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Hi, I'm not sure what your purpose is in sharing this here. Since it's not immediately obvious what the relevance is to our discussion, and there's no easily accessible link, few of us are likely to search the article out. If you think there are insights in the article that would be useful here, why not summarize them in a paragraph? If the point is to show an example of fighting in Wikipedia, well, great, another example of fighting in Wikipedia; it's not as if there's any deficiency of examples. The question is, what's the solution? In your case, arbitration seemed to be a sufficent solution, which shows that arbitration can be effective for some conflicts. But as I say, I'm not sure why the example is relevant here, since the problems we're discussing have not been solved in spite of a number of arbitrations, because the arbitrations haven't addressed the underlying issues of NPOV (especially UNDUE, FRINGE) and RS, only the collateral user conduct issues. Woonpton (talk) 15:30, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree. For every situation that Arbcomm and RfC can fix, there are many others that fall between the cracks. For example, Sunscreen has a bunch of pseudoscience in it, as does depleted uranium and now I have run across an article in the mainstream press about problems at some global change articles. There are too few people with a science background and too many viscious fights to go around. We need to change the culture here and become more efficient. Just noting that sometimes things go well in conventional dispute resolution does not help, because even if it works, it is far far too inefficient and only works for a small fraction of situations.--Filll (talk) 15:38, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

One problem is there's no equivalent of ArbCom for content. The punch up JeanMercer is referring to is the one over attachment and attachment therapy (affecting over 20 articles). The arbitration was won over wholesale abuses relating to user conduct, including mass sockpuppetry. However, the wholesale abuses relating to content (including the mis-citing of sources to represent them as saying the opposite to what they said) were ignored and it proved impossible over the course of a year to obtain any assistance with this. As for solutions, if there was better enforcement in relation to user conduct then the few sane psychs around may not run away quite so quickly. However, first and foremost there need to be better forums for deciding content issues. RfC's or requests for help at the Psychology Project on the less well known psych issues get no responses. How about an NPOV/UNDUE WEIGHT notice board manned by editors with the relevent background and access to academic databases and the time to consider relevent issues in depth? I appreciate it would take time to set up and get it manned and the issue of what weight it had would be tricky as this isn't Citizendium. Fainites barley 21:58, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
A noticeboard is a good idea--such a good idea, that the Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard was started in February, to supplement the already existing Wikipedia:Fringe theories/Noticeboard, dating from July 2007. They have gotten a great deal of use since then, and been very helpful in many situations. In some cases, it's been simpler to use the related noticeboards for COI or for Reliable Sources. They are all regularly seen by a wide range of well-informed editors. DGG (talk) 08:12, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Ah well - a good idea is still a good idea - even if I was a month late and missed it. Mind you, I used 3PO and the 'reliable sources' notice board just recently but the "other side" ignored all opinions given and continues in the same vein. It's teeth that are needed sometimes. Fainites barley 19:08, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

comments welcome[edit]

See Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Homeopathy/Workshop#experts_can.27t_tell_other_editors_that_they_are_not_prepared_to_edit_an_article. I don't oppose experts editing wikipedia, but I oppose self-claimed experts or even actual experts telling other editors that they are not qualified to edit an article (and should not put in doubt their expert opinion, thus doing an argument by authority).

Can you comment on it under "comments by others" to improve it and tweak it? The arbitrators will also read those comments to decide if they back that principle or make a principle based on that one --Enric Naval (talk) 16:11, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Signing off[edit]

Several weeks ago, I came to the reluctant conclusion that I could see no way for me to contribute comfortably in Wikipedia without a lot of stress and frustration, but I've kept hanging around because I wanted to write a thoughtful essay for these pages before I left, outlining my reasoning, and I hadn't found time to sit down and write it. But I'm not sure now why I thought that was important; after all, if Raymond left without even saying goodbye, why would I think there was anything I could say that would be worth anyone's reading, and I should be going. I hope for the sake of Wikipedia that Raymond's not gone for good, but it occurs to me that if he's not here to read my essay anyway, who would I be writing it for? There's nothing I can say to all of you that you didn't know before I came around.

So instead of an essay about how I came, observed, and left again having learned enough to see that there's no hope that I could help to improve the situation here, I'll just say that that's what's happened and leave it at that, as a record of one more potential contributor lost to the project. I've "met" some people here I like and have great respect for, and in a way I'd love to join you to try to push back the tide of pseudoscience and ignorance on Wikipedia, but it seems hopeless to me, and I'm too old to be able to convince myself that tilting at windmills is a good use of my time. I hope I'm wrong, and that you win after all.

I'll leave you with a closing thought from "Truth: A Guide," by Simon Blackburn, a philosopher at Cambridge. The book wasn't written about Wikipedia, but every thoughtful Wikipedian should read it, IMO, because it "speaks to our condition" (in the words of George Fox). Blackburn wrote, "...the problem for the culture in general is to maintain confidence, without worrying too much about any subtle differences between animation and belief, or realism and constructivism. And of course, in one sense we do maintain confidence. Our words may sound insecure, but our practice is as robust as may be. There may be rhetoric about the socially constructed nature of Western science, but wherever it matters, there is no alternative. ...Even that great public sceptic about the value of science, Prince Charles, never flies a helicopter burning homeopathically diluted petrol, that is, water with only a memory of benzine molecules, maintained by a schedule derived from reading tea leaves, and navigated by a crystal ball."

All the best, Woonpton (talk) 20:06, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to see you go. Another one bites the dust. I hope those of you who so proudly and aggressively and angrily attack those of us who claim there is a problem here just do not brush this one aside too. There is a problem here. I am not kidding. The barbarians are at the gate. And the average Wikipedian does not even realize it.--Filll (talk | wpc) 20:11, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

A barbarian speaks[edit]

I'm one of the barbarians and I know a lot of the others. There was, and even still is, room for constructive dialog and NPOV articles. If you attack us as kooks and try to get us banned, you're only branding yourselves as not right for Wikipedia. Try being constructive and forming alliances for a change. Try actually doing some writing and research, rather than coming to articles and acting as if it's appropriate to edit our of your own POV about the subject- scientific or no. Try not acting as tag-team reverters. Try reading the sources. Try creating a positive atmosphere. Try not having a siege mentality. Try being civil.

If you don't treat both the subject of each article with coolness and respect, and treat the editors of each article with coolness and respect; and if you don't have confidence in the ability of science, precisely, coolly and simply explained, to shine through any amount of pseudoscience with a single paragraph; then you will lose. Do you think that the James Randis of the world convince anyone who wants to believe? No, they do not. Sneering never did. Larding articles with supercilious pros or tons of refutations will not win your case.

I have tried to reach out to you. Only one or two of you have tried to reach out to me during the editing of an article. You have the attitude that people who disagree with you are barbarians to be slaughtered or ground into the dust with contempt.

Always you edit pseudoscience articles with the attitude that they are balderdash. When you do that, you hurt the science you purport to defend, you drive away anyone who is wavering on the edge between pseudoscience and science. In short, you are hurting science, and Wikipedia would be better without anyone who acts thus. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 21:40, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

No. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 21:44, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Just a couple of notes here:

  • I have no problem with working with advocates of pseudoscience as long as they are willing to abide by the principles of Wikipedia like the WP:Five Pillars. I have had fruitful collaboration with Peter morrell for instance. It is the pseudoscience advocates (or for that matter, the science advocates) who object to the Five Pillars who are difficult to work with.
  • This contant nattering about CIVIL is pure nonsense. CIVIL is used as a weapon and it is applied unevenly: [29]. Even one of the biggest proponents of CIVIL sent me several threatening profanity laced emails. And another prominent proponent of CIVIL sent several nasty emails about me with ridiculous CIVIL claims in them to a third party, who provided them to me. It is all just a load of hypocrisy, as far as I can tell.

Should we be CIVIL? Of course. We are high visibility. Of course we should be CIVIL. Will CIVIL solve the problems between pseudoscience and science or other FRINGE areas and mainstream areas? You have GOT to be kidding me...--Filll (talk | wpc) 22:02, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

None of the five pillars can fix anything on Wikipedia. We are the only ones who can fix anything, and perhaps true, heartfelt civility and truly maintaining a civil environment, whatever anyone else does, provides, rather than a "fix", an environment in which all editors with fundamentally differing sensibilities/ideologies/backgrounds can work together. Idealistic? Maybe. Easy? Probably not. As with any human relationship there is "stuff" to work through as people collaborate. I don't believe there are barbarians at the gate, and if there were leaving Wikipedia just swings those gates wides open, although I can understand Wikipedia burn-out. Instead, there are editors who are so fundamentally different that they may not be able to understand another's way of thinking or of dealing with an article. Civility then, in its deepest sense rather than a superficial sense as is often used, must be paramount because it alone can describe and create the editing environment. This doesn't condone the more superficial aspects of civility like name-calling, but is possibly just a deeper, more holistic viewpoint. Just a thought or two.(olive (talk) 22:42, 5 June 2008 (UTC))

Civility is a relatively small problem. Breaches of civility are mainly caused by a desire to get one's POV across. One has much less trouble being civil if one is not trying to project a POV onto the article, and it not afraid that one's POV is about to be overtaken by barbarians.

Peter Morrell left because of the way you guys behave. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 22:51, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Actually Peter morrell had reduced his editing long before the recent stoppage because of the turmoil at the talk page. This was mainly caused by Dana Ullman and a raft of pro-homeopathy sock and meat puppets who did not want to accept consensus or NPOV. And I have several emails from Peter to that effect. More recently, Dana became so disruptive that his privileges were restricted. And Peter was discouraged about that. And so was I, since I had tried to stop this from happening and even managed to get the powers that be to delay the final Arbcomm proceeding that nailed the coffin shut, in an attempt to save Dana. So it is a bit more complicated than you imply. As for stating "project a POV onto an article", it tells me that after all this time, you still seem to have not absorbed what NPOV is. Wow.--Filll (talk | wpc) 23:21, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
What are you talking about? Do you believe that one should project a POV? If so, wow. ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 00:27, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Um, remember the phrase, "in proportion to their prominence"? Yes the POVs are projected, in proportion to their prominence. That is NPOV.--Filll (talk | wpc) 00:39, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I guess I would define civility in a larger sense in which case it might be the biggest problem on Wikipedia. Civility may mean not pushing a personal POV because that can only hurt the project and the article. True civility would mean that an editor would walk away from a personal ego driven POV in favour of compromise, and the good of the encyclopedia. Such an action must be equal on both sides though to work, and to have an article that is balanced and accurate - more civility required. Highly idealistic I guess. I'll butt out now. These are thoughts.(olive (talk) 23:01, 5 June 2008 (UTC))
To clarify. I guess I see civility as essentially ego less in as much as human beings can be so..... so that the care of the encyclopedia and of the other editors would come before pushing some ego driven point of view. Idealistic again, I know.(olive (talk) 23:14, 5 June 2008 (UTC))
A lot of truth in that olive.--Filll (talk | wpc) 23:21, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Wow. I just happened to look back in here before logging out for good, and wish I hadn't. I certainly hope none of this is directed at me, because I don't think I deserve any of it. I've never called anyone a kook or been uncivil to other editors, nor have I done any tag-team reverting, nor ever edited or discussed topics where I didn't have a deep and solid understanding of the relevant literature. I don't think I've ever sneered at anyone and I've patiently explained my reasoning rather than trying to force my argument; my response to conflict is to withdraw rather than continue a dialogue that seems unlikely to serve any useful purpose. My whole issue with WP is the failure to protect NPOV; I decided it doesn't make sense for me to stay and contribute here because I don't see any commitment to NPOV on the part of the project as a whole, so I don't see any point in trying to edit here and be frustrated by the lack of support for NPOV. I don't think I've done anything that could have logically aroused animosity; I've mostly just watched and thought about what I've seen. I don't think the encyclopedia is headed in a good direction, but I haven't said anything about barbarians. Don't assume that pro-science editors here are all the same, because we're not remotely all the same. Okay, I'm gone. Good luck to all. Woonpton (talk) 00:12, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks Woonpton. I think you understand the problem perfectly, unfortunately. I hope you reconsider, but I understand if you can't be bothered with what is plainly evident here. --Filll (talk | wpc) 00:23, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I more or less agree with you. It was Filll that said the thing about barbarians. So no, it wasn't directed at you, which is why I put it in another section. Good luck! ——Martinphi Ψ Φ—— 00:25, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
No, none of my comments were directed at anyone, but where general thoughts on civility. I apologize if anything I said could be taken that way. I had no intention of criticizing any editor.(olive (talk) 03:06, 6 June 2008 (UTC))