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[P]
The Little Website that Couldn't

By pHatidic in Culture
Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:05:05 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

There once was a boy who for no apparent reason went around knifing his classmates. This boy's parents took him to nearly every mental health professional with no success... until one day a famous hypnotist came to town. There was a long line to speak to him, and as they waited medical doctors hovered around them trying to convince them it was all quackery. But the parents, figuring they had nothing to lose, continued standing in line with their disturbed son. At long last they told the doctor about their son's twisted history, and after a long pause the doctor looked the boy square in the eye and said, "My, won't you be surprised when you never do anything like this again."


Then the doctor sent the family away, greatly upsetting the parents who thought the doctor simply decided not to help them in their darkest hour. A few days passed and the boy had no more episodes; then weeks, months, and years. The hypnotist, through mere power of suggestion, had cured the boy. When the parents asked the doctors in the white coats, who had been to medical school, how this change came about they simply said that the boy was only pretending to be cured. Which raises the fundamental question, what if the boy is only pretending but continues pretending for the rest of his life? Is that or isn't it the same as being cured?

The paradox of whether or not the boy was really cured is shockingly similar to the case of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia of over one million articles where anyone is able to write or edit any article at any time. According to the canon of academic orthodoxy, Wikipedia has no right to be as well written, professional, and accurate as it is. Not to say it is perfect, it isn't, but the vast majority of the articles are well written and many are comparable or better than their encyclopedia Britannica equivalents. This from a website where any person can write or change any article at any time, with no one paid to do quality control and no real punishments to those who vandalize the system other than being banned from the site itself. How then was Wikipedia able to accomplish this, despite all the naysayers? No one knows for sure what makes Wikipedia as good as it is, but there are some theories:

  1. "Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. " -Henry Fielding

    It is generally accepted that those fighting for what they love will always fight better than mercenaries. Perhaps it is only natural for those writing articles on subjects they are passionate about to do a better job than those paid by professional encyclopedias to write their articles for them.

  2. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." -Aphorism

    One of the most deeply held taboos in western society is doing harm to other people, especially those less fortunate then oneself. Stealing from the poor is perhaps in the penultimate group of sins, coming only after violent and grotesque crimes such as murder, rape, incest, and cannibalism. In the words of project founder Jimmy Wales, "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." Any vandals would forever live with the guilt of subverting this noble goal.

  3. "How newspapers are based on "accountability" gets right to the heart of his problem. He's been taught that the system of newspaper publishing ensures that they are Objective and Factual. Despite working in a newspaper, and presumably seeing firsthand that the news is written by people, and reviewed (usually) by one or two other people, he believes that the magic pixie dust of accountability can imbue that information source with truth, while Wikipedia articles (which are written by people, and reviewed by at least one or two other people) do not have that magic. He sees the existence of Wikipedia as an attack on both his own magic powers of media objectivity, and a threat to his lack of critical thinking skills. My god, man, if we can't unquestioningly trust an encyclopedia, what can we unquestioningly trust?" -Rusty, in response to Al Fasoldt's article.

    Are traditional sources of knowledge actually more inherently trustworthy than grassroots ones? Everyone has one or two areas of special knowledge that they know everything there is to know about. I'm no sports physician but I've been rowing for seven years. Would a grad student paid by the hour to research for a professional encyclopia know move about rowing than I've learned from seven years of blood, sweat, and tears? Whose article would have more soul?

  4. "For a long time... classical Athens distributed its most responsible public positions by lottery: army generalships, water supply, everything. The implications are awesome-- trust in everyone's competence was assumed... Anyone worthy of citizenship was expected to be able to think clearly and to welcome great responsibility. As you reflect on this, remember our own unvoiced assumption that anyone can guide a ton of metal traveling at high speed with three sticks of dynamite sloshing around in its tanks." -John Taylor Gatto

    People are fundamentally good. It was assumed that all citizens of Athens were trustworthy and capable of holding positions of power unless proven otherwise. In modern society it is assumed the people are generally worthless unless proven otherwise by paper degrees. Athens is perhaps the greatest political success story of all time, whereas anyone who follows politics is acutely aware that our current system isn't doing so hot. What if the Greeks had it right all along?

  5. "The Internet made me rob a bank. The Internet made me kill 27 people. The Internet made me go out and fuck the neighbor's cat." -George Carlin, Comedian

    People already have a healthy skepticism of the Internet, which leads them to not take what they read at face value. Because of this when people read articles on Wikipedia they carefully scan them for factual inaccuracies and fix them as soon as they are found. Because of this, substandard articles are soon brought up to par.


There is only so far that theories can take you, be they theories about why Wikipedia is likely to be a great resource or a horrible one. Which is where that little boy who used to go around knifing people comes in. Because at some point it doesn't matter whether something should work or shouldn't work; you care if it just works. And Wikipedia just works.

"There's no cost to switching from an outdated old encyclopedia to Wikipedia -- just click and learn, and there you go. You can switch before your friends switch, but the knowledge you learn will be perfectly compatible." -Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Creator

Additional Resources:

Frogs into Princes by Bandler and Grinder: The story about the mentally ill boy comes from this text which is considered the definitive book on Neuro Linguistic Programming.

An interview with Jimmy Wales on Slashdot.org from July 28th, 2004.

My previous diaries about the article written by Al Fasholdt in the Post Standard.

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The Little Website that Couldn't | 216 comments (194 topical, 22 editorial, 2 hidden)
Good god (1.62 / 29) (#13)
by godix on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:09:15 AM EST

If you like Wiki, fine, use it to your hearts content. But for gods sake would you STFU about it already? Can we all agree to go at least one month without wiki-fanboy cum being spewed all over us please?


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
Bleh (2.00 / 2) (#16)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:12:51 AM EST

Sorry you feel that way, but the last article about Wikipedia was actually in February, considerably less than "one a month."

[ Parent ]
the last article voted up, maybe (2.28 / 7) (#17)
by godix on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:28:26 AM EST

There has been wiki articles in the queue far more recently than feb though. My clothes are starting to get crust from being covered in wiki cum. Stop it, please. Or at least keep it in the privacy of your own bedroom.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Curious. (2.69 / 13) (#18)
by ubernostrum on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 02:14:07 AM EST

My clothes are starting to get crust from being covered in wiki cum.

How do you distinguish it from the rest?




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
The colour. (2.27 / 11) (#19)
by Zerotime on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:30:22 AM EST

It's red, like communism.

---
"You don't even have to drink it. You just rub it on your hips and it eats its way through to your liver."
[ Parent ]
The color and taste (2.40 / 5) (#33)
by godix on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:30:20 PM EST

Wiki fanboys eat nothing but Cheetos and drink nothing but Mt Dew. As a result their love juice is a slight red/orange in color and has the sugar content of a pixie stick. The usual cum being spewed around here comes from people who eat organic vegitarian so their cum usually smells like beans. There's a very definate difference between the two.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
And yet... (none / 0) (#166)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 07:31:03 AM EST

... I see you frequently post to Kuro5hin. Don't you find it even slightly ironic that you yourself are also classed as a sad nerd who only eats cheetos and drinks nothing by Mountain Dew?

Chew on that one for a while, fanboy.

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Frequently? (none / 0) (#174)
by godix on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 06:06:27 PM EST

Not anymore, not nearly like I used to. K5 is little more than a way to pass time at work now. Regardless of that I don't find it ironic. You'll notice I've never posted an article celebrating my disgusting habits to all of K5.

Incidently, I hate cheetos.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

As opposed to Wikipedia users? (nt) (none / 0) (#183)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 03:45:30 AM EST



---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
As opposed to *SOME* Wiki users (none / 0) (#195)
by godix on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 02:50:42 PM EST

As opposed to the type of wiki user who spews the results of their mental masturbation all over K5 readers for example.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Ha. (none / 0) (#210)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 09:54:55 AM EST

Wikipedian spewing their mental masturbation over everyone < Kurobots spewing their mental masturbation over everyone

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Good grief, get a life. (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by escoles on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:54:51 AM EST

You have a point to make, make it; otherwise, don't read the damn post. And the "wiki cum" bullshit? Jeebus, project much?

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#165)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 07:28:50 AM EST

And oh looky, lots of people diagree with you because the article is now on the front page.

How's that make you feel?

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

+1FP I've got the GAY!!!! (1.00 / 23) (#15)
by RandomLiegh on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:11:30 AM EST

GAY for WIKIPEDIA!!!!

---
Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
---
strange analysis (2.91 / 24) (#20)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:06:57 AM EST

"Athens is perhaps the greatest political success story of all time, whereas anyone who follows politics is acutely aware that our current system isn't doing so hot."

I'm wondering if we've studied the same Greece. While I love ancient Athens and read Attic and Homeric Greek, the Athenian Democracy went through two periods, the first was for 100 years followed by a 6 year coup and then another period of 80 years followed by suppression at the hands of the dad of Alexander the Great. On this count, the U.S. has done substantially better as it has never lost its reigns of power in over 200 years. During the course of Athens' democracy, it exiled or executed many public officials who fell out of favor. The greatness of the Attic democracy excluded the vast majority of its residents including women, resident aliens, and anyone who didn't own land (typically, only the head of household was considered a citizen). The very wealth acquired that allowed Athens to be so grand was tantamount to extortion of the member cities of the Pan Hellenic League created during the Persian invasions. Eventually, the downfall of this open minded society was to be stomped on by former allies who, despite their well known fighting prowess, seldom won any major engagement outside their homeland until Athens royally pissed them off.

Even Socrates was basically King for the Day and his duties on that day were recalled later at his trial which sentenced him to death. Aristotle left Athens decades later under similar circumstances since he famously "didn't want Athens to commit the same sin twice against philosophy."

Don't get me wrong, they accomplished a lot in so little time, but even during their day, they had their critics and most of them were Athenians. So, by what yardstick do you measure it as a greater success than the United States? Even with its problems, Americans don't appreciate the golden age that they continue to experience.

-Soc
I drank what?


Ya got me (2.80 / 5) (#24)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:39:19 AM EST

I haven't studied Greek history in depth, but I am well versed in classics in general so I wish to dispute just a couple of your points.

During the course of Athens' democracy, it exiled or executed many public officials who fell out of favor.

This is true but also remember that athens had no prisons so being exiled or executed were the only ways to punish people perceived as being threats. The US currently has by far the most prisoners per capita in the world and if you consider being put in jail to be roughly equal to being exiled then I would guess that Athens stacks up pretty well. Also most citizens who just fell out of favor for political reasons weren't executed but intsead lost their right to citizenship and their right to speak at assembly or vote.

Even Socrates was basically King for the Day and his duties on that day were recalled later at his trial which sentenced him to death.

Socrates was killed in a fit of insanity and even then he still had the opportunity to live because his friends offered to help him escape. However he chose death because that is how much he believed in the system. How many people would gladly be executed today if they were convicted of a crime but were innocent because they believed that strongly in our way of life?

Aristotle left Athens decades later under similar circumstances since he famously "didn't want Athens to commit the same sin twice against philosophy."

Plato had already been around a long time before Aristotle without being executed and he was probably much more controversial than Aristotle. Don't forget that before Plato writing itself was not accepted as being something that an educated person should do because writing cannot argue and defend its positions. Which brings me to Wikipedia, the first document that can actually defend itself, leading me to believe that Socrates would be a Wikipedian if he were alive today (this is from Plato's Phaedrus).

You are right that America is in a golden age and is currently doing very well, but that doesn't mean it is problem free. America has only been in its golden age since world war I which is about 90 years and at this point it looks doubtful if we will be the dominant world power in another 50. Also Athens was only a city state whereas America is a huge empire so they are very different. However I still hold that the Athenian form of democracy was far more enlightened that ours today even if it didn't last for a very long time, and the proof is that the majority of what was created in Athens is the foundation of our society today even if Athens itself was conquered.

[ Parent ]

Who will succeed America then? (none / 1) (#44)
by Xeriar on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:31:18 PM EST

The EU looks like it will collapse under its own weight, and India and China are facing unparalleled water supply problems. The US actually has a salient plan to support itself through 2054.

I think the next major power will be Mars, myself.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Many Hands Make Light Work (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by freestylefiend on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 07:11:46 AM EST

I don't know when or how far the US will fall, but I don't think that it will be the hyperpower forever.

The EU's strength is its currency and less fiscal indiscipline than the US. The US might crumble under the load of its national debt and the US dollar might lose its status as the currency of international trade to the Euro.

Ultimately, I believe that China will lead the world. Its military might and huge labour force will ultimately triumph, and it will get its hands on foreign water and oil resources, if necessary. China also seems more keen to make allies (or colonies) of other rising nations like Brasil and its asian neighbours.

If the US government continues to alienate the world and neither the EU nor China can take the crown alone, then perhaps a coalition of powerful nations would eclipse US influence.

[ Parent ]

except (none / 1) (#71)
by emmons on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:32:25 AM EST

Nations that can be considered powerful in their own right rarely form a coalition.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Maybe (none / 1) (#76)
by freestylefiend on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:05:06 AM EST

...but it happened in the Great War. What if other powerful nations really took exception to US foreign/defence/trade policy and were insufficiently strong to act alone?

[ Parent ]
Then we'd be screwed (none / 1) (#175)
by emmons on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 07:16:28 PM EST

But unless we were obviously and admittedly set upon on a mission of invading and conquoring the entire world militarily with the stated mission of making all other peoples to be slaves to our race, I don't see that happening any time soon. The world is pacifist and it is not dumb. Most of nations of the world rely on us far more than we do independently on them, which is how we are able to keep them relatively in line. Merely the threat of revoking trade privilages is enough to keep most nations from confronting us.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Some problems (none / 0) (#124)
by Xeriar on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:00:50 PM EST

The EU (and Japan and China) are aging. This creates an economic burden for them which will be difficult to throw off.

The EU also lacks native resources. India and China lack water - as do most of their neighbors. The amount they lack is truly staggering and they are still as of yet not taking proper measures to address this.

China and its surrounding countries not only have a surplus male population, but their women emigrate more than the men do (to the U.S. in particular). I don't know what this, combined with China's mass 'little emperor' syndrome will do, but I'm not going to discount it outright.

As for the US government continuing to alienate the world, policies change. China too has a lot of damage to overcome from its past mistakes.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#141)
by freestylefiend on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 05:52:26 PM EST

I'm no expert.

"The EU (and Japan and China) are aging. This creates an economic burden for them which will be difficult to throw off."

I'm watching with apprehension to see how we cope here in the UK, but isn't the same happening in the US?

"The EU also lacks native resources. India and China lack water - as do most of their neighbors."

Every nation has its problems. The US has grown accustomed to getting a free lunch from borrowing, protectionism (while the WTO ensures that it has access to foreign markets) and Chinese backing for the US dollar. When the US free ride ends, it will owe the world the water and oil that it needs.

"China and its surrounding countries not only have a surplus male population,"

So there will be loads of testosterone fuelled SE asians spoiling for a war? I'm sure that the gender imbalance will be unfortunate, but I don't see how it will be fatal for China's part on the world stage.

"As for the US government continuing to alienate the world, policies change. China too has a lot of damage to overcome from its past mistakes."

I think that the most powerful power has the least incentive to keep others content. If the US goes unchallenged for much longer, then it will alienate the world much more.

[ Parent ]

The US (none / 1) (#188)
by Xeriar on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 10:03:50 AM EST

The US does not have an aging population, no. There is a policy of controlled immigration.

The US has neither the water nor the oil to give.

So there will be loads of testosterone fuelled SE asians spoiling for a war? I'm sure that the gender imbalance will be unfortunate, but I don't see how it will be fatal for China's part on the world stage.

No, just a hundred and fifty million men who think they deserve a mate but aren't going to find one. My guess is civil war or some horrifying scheme resembling China's Great Leap Forward with a sicker twist.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]

Re: The US (none / 0) (#193)
by freestylefiend on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 01:21:43 PM EST

"The US has neither the water nor the oil to give."

It still might be exported, for the right price. The poor would have to do without.

"My guess is civil war or some horrifying scheme resembling China's Great Leap Forward with a sicker twist."

I think that they'll repeat the usual lies: jews, arabs, gypsies, homosexuals, americans, etc. are stealing our women. It could be harnessed for a government power grab.

[ Parent ]

extremely misleading and often wrong (3.00 / 19) (#49)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:31:05 PM EST

You really are talking about an ancient and foreign legal system with alarming simplicity.

Athens did have a prison located adjacent to the Agoura where they imprisoned people who could not pay fines or who were awaiting execution. The point of punishment in Athens was to settle the disagreement between parties. The vast overwhelming number of cases were disputes, almost no one was prosecuted on behalf of the state which is the norm today. Athenians had many ways to deal with people besides execution and exile including fines (and if they couldn't pay, they would serve time in jail), confiscation of property, humiliation, loss of rights (atimia), imprisonment, or simple censure. Incidentally, a total loss of rights meant that if an Athenian killed you no crime was committed. There were several degrees of atimia usually beginning with the inability to prosecute any citizen which meant that other citizens could steal or harass any atimoi freely without fear of prosecution. So, convicts often preferred exile to loss of citizenship. Greeks seemed to prefer exile to execution and the condemned was expected to make a jail break as long as he kept on running and never returned. After all, this solves the dispute.

And don't forget, the Athenian legal system allowed both the prosecution and the defense to suggest a punishment and the jury would choose between the two, so it led to many clever punishments and often led to a decent amount of moderation by both sides.

Still, I don't know which is worse, a country that executes people for being disagreeable (shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?) or a country that lawfully imprisons a large number of people. I happen to think death is infinitely worse than imprisonment. Also, Athenians were much more litigious than even the worst ambulance chasers today. Anyone could sue without penalty in a private trial. But then again, I think the Greeks understood law better than we do today. That's not necessarily a compliment.

Socrates' trial was not really a notable exception in this and here's another one of your most misleading comments. This wasn't even the first time he was prosecuted. So here you have a septuagenarian who was at first offered exile from the land of his birth, a place where he never travelled more than 10 miles away in his entire life except once during the war--and there he travelled 20 miles away. And you're suggesting that he's insane because he should have chosen exile? A 70 year old man in ancient times? I think you overestimate the quality of life back then. While I'd love to think that he had some noble and intellectual attachment to the athenian way of life, I rather suspect he was more like Harry Truman who just didn't want to move even though Mount St. Helens was about to explode (Old Harry fought in World War II and lived on the volcano for a mere 50 years; ). If you'll recall in the Apology, Socrates suggested that he be punished by being treated to a daily feast in his honor. I think he was done with living and basically was tired of fighting everyone all the time. I don't think there has ever been a more cantankerous person who ever existed; he had cowered generals, showed the ignorance of the pious, and questioned the loyalty of friends. His job was done.

I don't think we can say one way or another what Socrates would be today. Modern society is nothing like Attic Greece. For all either of us know, he'd start an Amish-type enclave. If you want to say that the Phaedrus accurately present Socrates (very doubtful considering where the Phaedrus fits in with the timeline of Plato's dialogues and the liberties Plato began taking with the Socrates character by that time) and how he would be an everyman encyclopedian then I think you misunderstand both him and Plato significantly: Socrates was the first moral philosopher; prior to him, everyone was a physical philosopher (physikoi, from which we derive the word physicists). Socrates was among the first to turn the battle inward rather than outward; he was more concerned with internal awareness and self improvement than external knowledge and authoritative pronouncements. Plato took this even further in the Meno (mostly likely written prior to the Phaedrus) in which Plato asserted that there was no such thing as knowledge but we only relearn what we already know; he even provides a demonstration with a slave to prove this. No, I rather think he'd embrace that song from the Beatles where they ripped off the Tao Te Ching: "Without going our of my door, I can know the ways of earth, without looking out of my window, I can see the ways of heaven." That's not quite the wiki way.

Also, what you said about writing being unaccepted by educated people... this is absurd. There just wasn't a lot of profit in it but that's far from saying they were socially discouraged from doing so.

Lastly, Plato was an Athenian citizen. Aristotle was from Macedonia and he would be as controversial as studying a Nazi philosopher like Martin Heidegger today. That is, Aristotle was controversial for his circumstances but not for what he said. Plato presented no threat to any Athenian (but perhaps to Syracusans) so, no, he wasn't nearly as controversial in the same way as Socrates or Aristotle.

But to return to point, Athens golden age lasted only 30 years (the years between the battle of Salamis and their defeat during the Peloponnesian war), so again, America is more successful. Athens exerted control throughout the Mediterranean and bullied smaller city-states into obedience in ways that would make Americans uneasy. They actively and openly fomented rebellion in foreign countries (this was the initial cause of the Persian invasions); our politicians have to hide this from us otherwise they know they would be shitcanned. By comparison, the primary leverage exerted by the American empire is... trade? We may threaten to impose tariffs, but that's quite a bit different than wantonly taking the army out to rape daughters, slaughter animals, burn fields, and gouge out eyes. Since when is withholding trade equivalent to destroying lives? Why is trade a moral obligation? No, the Athenian empire (and it was an empire by any definition) exerted more brutality than any Britney Spears album.

I'm not saying the U.S. has clean hands or is perfect. It's not an either-or situation, but by comparison America brings a lot more prosperity to its neighbors than Athens ever did. America provides a lot more security to its neighbors than Athens ever cared to provide. America offers a more equitable judicial system than Athens provided. America offers a better future for all of its residents than Athenians would ever consider. Athenian democracy never addressed the issue of slavery. Athenians never had a notion of civil rights, freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Americans experience greater equality economically and politically than Athenians would ever want. Why is an Athenian democracy more successful even though it excluded all women, excluded all propertyless men, and failed to enfranchise the many different foreigners (most of whom were still Greek)? No, America has done it longer, more completely, and more successfully. Even if America collapsed like Atlantis into the seas tomorrow, America has surpassed ancient Greece in all ways. America is democracy's greatest success story. Athens simply was the first.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Ooh (none / 1) (#53)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:15:45 PM EST

Thanks for the info, I actually do intend to study more of Greek history at some point. I wasn't really attempting to refute your original post which I think was more or less accurate, but I was just trying to discuss a couple points within it. Thanks for the long reply though.

[ Parent ]
That's cool (3.00 / 3) (#54)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:08:08 AM EST

This combines several of my areas of expertise: ancient greek philosophy, philosophy of law, and ancient greek law. I have no idea how this can lead to a job, but it's one of the areas I know best.

That may be why I took this a bit too personally.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Job and hobby (3.00 / 4) (#127)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:11:43 PM EST

This combines several of my areas of expertise: ancient greek philosophy, philosophy of law, and ancient greek law. I have no idea how this can lead to a job, but it's one of the areas I know best.

Well, the only jobs for you are in academia, but if you're looking for a hobby, I know of this interesting little website where they let you edit articles on every topic you're interested in...

[ Parent ]

Ah, (none / 0) (#133)
by SlashDread on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:55:54 PM EST

but you can write too. Nice article.

"/Dread"

[ Parent ]

Inaccuracies (none / 0) (#176)
by Aphexian on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 07:32:46 PM EST

Not to be nitpicky, but since you have been refuted on a specific part of your article - which was portayed to be a fact - and you have not removed or changed that article, from what I can see, doesn't this further enhance the position of those who feel nothing should be trusted on the internet?

Your average reader may not bother to scan the comments, and would therefore walk away with incorrect facts.

Or would you posit that in a wiki environment, someone, such as SG, would have just gone up and deleted that part of your article? If so, does that make wiki a superior knowledge-base as opposed to K5, or just a different one? Should the "layperson" be required to know the difference?

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]

No (none / 1) (#178)
by pHatidic on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 08:31:51 PM EST

The fact in question was whether or not Athens had the greatest government of all time. The quote from my article is, "Athens is perhaps the greatest political success story of all time." If I had said, "Athens IS the greatest political success story of all time" then you would be right but beacuse I had perhaps I left it the way it was, because it still is PERHAPS the greatest government of all time regardless of whether it actually was or wasn't. Sure it didn't make it as long as the U.S. did, as was pointed out, but I still think that parts of their system were better than what we have and vica versa.

[ Parent ]
A bit misleading... (3.00 / 2) (#126)
by Filip on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:09:10 PM EST

Athens exerted control throughout the Mediterranean and bullied smaller city-states into obedience in ways that would make Americans uneasy. They actively and openly fomented rebellion in foreign countries (this was the initial cause of the Persian invasions); our politicians have to hide this from us otherwise they know they would be shitcanned.

That's a bit hard to digest for someone living outside the US. I have the feeling the US has been considering all of the North and South American continent as its territory since the inception of USA. The difference is that the people living (lawfully) inside the borders of USA proper, get to vote, the rest don't. Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile to mention a few, have seen USian intervention on a large scale. When was a president impeached for going to war? Who impeached a president for lying about the motives behind a war? Who impeached a president and a vice president who landed themselves and their families nice fat contracts in the aftermath of a war? Has any USian president been shitcanned for anything other than going to the wrong bedroom?

Since when is withholding trade equivalent to destroying lives?

Since the trade involved supplanting native crops with sterile "Roundup Ready" crops. Another example of trade actually destroying, are the sweatshops that USian corporations like Nike are so fond of. These factories are also commonly known as swallows - since they move as soon as workers start to organize, and demand things like humane working conditions and *gasp* fair pay.

I'm aware that this turned out a bit inflammatory. But honestly, I couldn't just pass on your remarks. USian hegemony works very much like that of ancient Athens. Then again, I dislike my own government for precisely the same reasons.

/Filip

PS I use the unword USian, since my argumentation builds on that there are other Americans than those living legally inside the borders of USA.
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

I don't completely disagree (none / 1) (#128)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:31:48 PM EST

I do think America pushes its weight around. All countries do. And while you may think poorly of the U.S.'s limited involvement in South American nations, I think as a matter of historical perspective that commando teams operate differently than armies that level cities and salts the earth. Would you prefer Americans put Chileans to the spear as Alexander did to Persepolis? This was the tone of all Greek diplomacy, after all. The city states lived in a state of constant warfare where the cost for failure was to erase cities from memory. Even Athens was torched twice within 30 years.

You can hate the U.S. and U.S. policy, but by comparison the U.S. shows thorough restraint. The Greeks would drop atomic bombs like arrows as a course of their foreign policy.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
It's a little more than weight... (none / 1) (#135)
by Filip on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 05:04:18 PM EST

You can hate the U.S. and U.S. policy, but by comparison the U.S. shows thorough restraint. The Greeks would drop atomic bombs like arrows as a course of their foreign policy.

I know more than a few Chileans who does not agree with you when you speak of restraint. As for what the Greek would have done if they had A-bombs - we will never know. What I have heard is that the japs were ready to negotiate even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki - but that the US military wanted a decisive defeat.

I might add that I do not hate the US at all, and I do think that US policy is not always bad. But IMHO it sometimes has the same megalomaniac streak as the foreign policy of Athens sometimes had. (Or even worse - I don't believe that the Athenians thought they did what they did for any motives other than greed.)

/Filip
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

almost completely agree (none / 0) (#137)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 05:24:08 PM EST

I'm never sure where people are coming from. On K5, I just assume the most dim outlook on America.

Greeks initiated wars on the basis of ego more than anything. Why did Alexander need to invade Persia, India, and Egypt? This is one reason I loved the movie Troy; I could see a powerhungry Agamemnon using the whole "wife" incident as a pretext for war (well, I loved it until the last half hour). Pride was the single most distinctive trait that the average Greek possessed.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
US is no different than Athens in warfare (none / 0) (#170)
by marinel on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 09:56:14 AM EST

You mention pride. Don't forget spoils of war also. Do you trully believe that, in any of the wars since WWII in which US was involved, pride and war spoils were not primary reasons? The only difference now, is that elected leaders bullshit the little people about their true motives, most media outlets broadcast the White House releases without the slightest analysis, and a few of the little people still see through all the compasionate stinky crapola served down from the top.

Just because US doesn't spear and gouge eyes, but nuke and napalm darkies, cluster bomb innocents and call them "collateral damage", ship POWs to lawless Gitmo, "lend" them to allies with torture chambers, or just sell Apaches and other nasty warfare to proxies and friends, doesn't make US a whole lot better than primitive Athenians.

The difference in my eyes is cosmetic, akin to putting on white gloves or not before a stabbing. There is also the matter of global reach which the US has the dibs on it (with the UK a close second) across all known human history.

In the end, this whole comparision is a pissing in the wind contest though. The more important question is: when are the USians going to pull their head out of their ass and take off their pink glasses? And no Cuban or North Korean scapegoat comparison can hide the fact that the US is trailing the First World in socioeconomic factors that affect the average Joe.
--
Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
[ Parent ]

Wow, that's a great story... (none / 0) (#191)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 12:29:05 PM EST

...but why devote so much time and energy to a fanfic backstory about a character in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#107)
by Battle Troll on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:54:57 PM EST

Don't forget that before Plato writing itself was not accepted as being something that an educated person should do because writing cannot argue and defend its positions.

Do you realize that the preceding is a misquote from Republic?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

adding a small note (3.00 / 4) (#112)
by muyuubyou on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:27:34 PM EST

The greatness of the Attic democracy excluded the vast majority of its residents including women, resident aliens, and anyone who didn't own land (typically, only the head of household was considered a citizen).


It never ceases to amaze me that women didn't have the right to vote in America until 1920, so some would say "real democracy" is shorter than they thought. OTOH I know people, nowadays, who think women shouldn't vote because of their "whimsical nature."

[ Parent ]
Democracy as exclusion (none / 1) (#192)
by rho on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 12:43:51 PM EST

The greatness of the Attic democracy excluded the vast majority of its residents including women, resident aliens, and anyone who didn't own land (typically, only the head of household was considered a citizen).

Just a part of your post, but something that's always bothered me. Democracy's benefit isn't neccessarily that everybody gets a vote--do we want, for example, criminals voting from prison?--but that the rules that determine who gets to vote are rational and obeyed.

Restricting voting priviledges to landowners and non-aliens is rational. Landowners have a direct stake in the prosperity of the nation as a whole; aliens may or may not have the interests of the nation at heart, and may in fact be active fifth-columnists.

At the time, women were not considered citizens. So? Was it the practice to educate women at the time? I don't think it was, but I'm no expert in ancient Greek history. Assuming it wasn't, do you want the uneducated voting with the same power as the educated? A rational, well-thought-out vote can, and probably will, be canceled out by somebody who is essentially guessing, assuming they haven't been bribed, coerced or otherwise influenced. It may feel good to say that everybody gets a vote, but there's a serious downside to that as well.

It's the problem of the people voting governmental largesse for themselves that so abuses the democratic process--the bigger questions of whether to go to war or not is overridden by whether you'll get free health care from the government.

If citizenship was restricted to male landowners who went to Athens U. (home of the Fighting Togas), then that would be irrational by being overly selective with no real benefit. Thus, I would argue that Athens' democracy wasn't flawed by having restrictive citizenship. It's only a major problem if the citizenship restrictions were capricious or selectively enforced (all male landowners, except for those on Marble Street, get to vote today).
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

I somewhat agree with you (none / 1) (#194)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 01:32:34 PM EST

Athenian Democracy was basically a representative system. Voting and privileges were granted to a family and the head of household decided matters for that family. So, when a man voted, he represented his wife, children, slaves, and any metics(foreigners) whose interests he wanted to include because either they were a friend or he stood to profit by supporting them. Women were always under the care of a male, either their father or their husband or the head of their family (if she was widowed), so in a way, they were always represented.

So, in some ways, it's unfair to call it a poor Democracy.

But I think if you compare the two, we end up with a more inclusive American Democracy that still manages to work. While we could probably make it so that fewer people could vote, America found that it could expand the vote first to all white men (regardless of property) and it still worked. Then they found they could open it up to all men, and they found that it could still work. Lastly, the found that they could it open it up to all citizens (to include women) and it still manages to work.

As a result, I think we have to admire the American system more in that it takes a seemingly greater chance by granting the vote to anyone with a pulse.

But more than that, I think it shows a different emphasis between the two systems. The household was the basis of Greek economy and each home strove to be a self sufficient factory for its needs. We derive the word "economics" from oikonomikos which means "household management"; oikos means house. This was a good way to balance the interests of the wealthy from those of the poor, as the wealthy house with many slaves, children and women would have no more votes than the poor farmer who could barely afford an ox. The individual is the basis of the American economy and also of the American system. By contrast, some medieval systems made each village the smallest unit so, for example, a village would receive a tax and it was up to the village to figure out how to pay it. So, I think we can imagine several different "flavors" of democracy, each equally free as determined by where they place their emphasis. And when you're judging democracies, I think you can look at how successfully it functions in addition to how fully it is integrated to determine whether one particular system is more or less worthwhile in comparison to a different one. I would contend that American democracy is more fully integrated and is more successful, too, but it's possible to divide the social structure differently and end up with something even more powerful.

All in all, though, a Greek style system would never work here. I would dare you to try to disenfranchise 95% of New York City simply because few people there own property. And if you were to try to say it's because they don't have as much at stake as a landowner does, they'd probably throw more than a tomato at you.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Some Points (none / 0) (#196)
by pHatidic on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 03:57:49 PM EST

All in all, though, a Greek style system would never work here. I would dare you to try to disenfranchise 95% of New York City simply because few people there own property. And if you were to try to say it's because they don't have as much at stake as a landowner does, they'd probably throw more than a tomato at you.

Just because it wouldn't work here I don't think is a good reason to say it was bad there. Also, when we expanded the right to vote to blacks and women it was found that it didn't change the results of the elections at all. Because of this one could reason that if the women of Greece and non land holders could vote then it also might not have changed anything, meaning that the system was fair as it was.

[ Parent ]

It was a good system but not best (none / 0) (#199)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 05:17:28 PM EST

I don't think it was a poor system just because America (in my opinion) is better. Given the Greek personality, it was among the best systems possible for them. However, I'm also extremely partial to the Spartan government (two kings, and a couple assemblies representing the civil interests) since it ended up being a much more stable government than anywhere else in Greece. While every other city-state faced a coup every century, Sparta maintained steady governance for 400 years. Considering their specific circumstances, that's an even more amazing political success story.

Of course, Athens was a good system. But if we're talking about political success stories, we should consider it in comparison to two aspects: of the systems during its day, how did it compare; of all democracies, how does it compare. My argument--to the second point-- is that it was not the best example of democracy. As to the first point, that's probably taking us far afield, but there's a lot about the Spartan system that commends itself. Almost every person of note in the day that compared political systems seemed to have some nostalgic preference for Sparta. Given Athens' instability, I can understand why.

So, I think we find a lot to admire about Athens, but in noting its singular success, we overlook more remarkable successes, too. That's one of the reasons I kept asking you how you measured it as a political success story. As best as I can understand, you replied that it was a model for future democracies and I can't disagree. But, I think the context in your article was comparing the Greek democratic standards with the American democratic standards and the health of each system, and that's why I thought that we have to give the advantage to America in that debate.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Comparative democracy (3.00 / 2) (#200)
by rho on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 05:40:09 PM EST

First, right off:
I would dare you to try to disenfranchise 95% of New York City simply because few people there own property.

On some level, what a great idea! rolls through my head. Jokingly, of course. The question must be asked, however--would NYC be the same if voting rights were dependant on property ownership? Would the political flavor of the country be the same today? City-dwellers tend to be more forgiving of government, since their lives would likely be much worse without a governmental presence to provide public works and mediate disputes. This is reflected today in how urban centers tend towards Democrat and rural tends towards Republican.

It's a mildly amusing mental exercise to imagine a NYC that is more suburbia than urban, but ultimately it's just wanking.

The American flavor of democracy does work fairly well, though the original version of American democracy bore more than a passing resemblance to the Athenian verision. White landowners were the only voting block until (relatively) recently. Whether the addition of each new voting block--former slaves, women--have been without effect is arguable. The 19th Amendment came about after women's groups saw how effective they were in the passage of the 18th Amendment, for example. It also shows that once you put things to a popular vote, popular--not neccessarily right--things tend to be voted in.

We can see it further in more recent examples. The push to allow illegal aliens to get driver's licences in California, for example; thankfully vetoed by Schwartzenegger. This, I submit, would not be a benefit to American democracy to have, essentially, foreigners deciding how America should be run. The division still exits; it's more ecumenical now than it was in 1776, but there is still some barrier to entry.

It will be "interesting" to see if the progressively greater emphasis on individuals will be a benefit or detriment. "Interesting", because if it sucks, it will... well, suck.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

Some counterarguments (1.90 / 21) (#22)
by ant0n on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:45:05 AM EST

I. 1. Most of the entries in the Wikipedia are just rewritten versions of the respective articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and/or Microsoft Encarta. Just collecting some information from other encyclopedias and websites you found on the net has nothing to do with original research. Okay, there are some articles in it which do have original content... overdetailed ramblings on things like Slashdot. And long lists of jews. What has this to do with information? That's just noise.

2. You wikipedians always claim that, if I do find wrong information in the wikipedia, then I am free two correct it. Now please tell me:
  • When I look something up in the wikipedia, about a subject I don't know anything about, and I am confronted with wrong information, then how do I know that the information is actually wrong?
  • And what about this case: someone finds some information in the wikipedia, which is actually correct, but he thinks it's wrong, and 'corrects' it in the wrong direction? What if the majority believes in wrong facts?
This self-correcting argument cuts both ways.

3. The wikipedia is groupthink and point-of-view. Period.

4. There are many more counterarguments.

II. "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."

Am I the only one who thinks that Jimmy Wales is a sick megalomaniac?

III. NLP is complete, utter bullshit.


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
Nah (2.71 / 7) (#23)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:25:08 AM EST

Just collecting some information from other encyclopedias and websites you found on the net has nothing to do with original research.

Britannica has no original research either. Neither does any other encyclopedia. In fact not only is there no original research but it is explicitly forbidden for anyone to do original research and submit it to Wikipedia. The idea of an encyclopedia is to collect accepted knowledge, not to provide a forum for new theories to be proposed and debated.

When I look something up in the wikipedia, about a subject I don't know anything about, and I am confronted with wrong information, then how do I know that the information is actually wrong?

Because you never cite information directly from an encyclopedia when writing a paper. The point of the encyclopedia is to get an overview of a topic and figure out what to look for in primary sources. So even if someone makes up blatant bullshit, then when you go to look it up in a primary source you won't find it so there is never any risk of you using a bullshit fact in a paper. Does that mean it doesn't matter if an article has errors? No, I think it still matters for your own edification but for academic purposes any errors are negligible since it can't be cited as a source anyway.

someone finds some information in the wikipedia, which is actually correct, but he thinks it's wrong, and 'corrects' it in the wrong direction? What if the majority believes in wrong facts?

The wikipedia is groupthink and point-of-view. Period.

This gets to the heart of the debate about "what is truth"? If you ask 100 different people what the essence of my article is you will get 100 different answers, but which one is true? Does people believing that something happened make it true, or is truth an abstract concept for people to find like Plato's forms? People have been wrestling with this argument for thousands of years so if you think you can write off the whole argument in a single sentence then it is you who isn't seeing the whole picture, not me.

NLP is complete, utter bullshit.

The first applications of NLP were in psychotherapy so that is what NLP is known for, and that did unfortunately turn out to be largely bullshit. However NLP itself is the science of observing people who are amazing at something and figuring out their mental state which leads them to being excellent. NLP is the belief that if any human can do something, then I can do it too, within reason, if only I have the tools. NLP is about finding the tools. For example since I am a rower I would say that if anyone with my body type and roughly equal genetics can pull a certain time then so can I since it is within the realm of human possibility. All I have to do is learn how they approach the problem, for example what do they think when they wake up in the morning, how do they motivate themselves to train, what makes them tick. While hypnotizing people may be bullshit, the overarching theories are very real and alive today and are most definitely not bullshit. And you know what, maybe it isn't in the realm of human possibility for me to be an Olympic rower just because someone else similar to me can do it, but if I believe that I can be then I will get a hell of a lot farther in life than I would otherwise with a non NLP mindset.

[ Parent ]

NLP is not a science (2.42 / 7) (#26)
by GenerationY on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:32:56 AM EST

It is not systematic, it is not predictive, it does not create falsifiable hypotheses.

[ Parent ]
Disagree (2.00 / 2) (#38)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:09:03 PM EST

"It is not systematic, it is not predictive, it does not create falsifiable hypotheses."

The NLP hypothesis is that if anyone can do something I can also do that thing. That is a hypothesis. They follow people who are really really good at stuff around and ask them questions and observe them in order to recreate that persons mindset in another person. If they can then the hypothesis is true, if they can't then it is false. How is this not a falsifiable hypothesis? It isn't something like biology, but the entire thing is one big hypothesis.

[ Parent ]

Huh? (2.00 / 3) (#42)
by GenerationY on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:28:29 PM EST

Well if that were the case then anything is a science; an actor in Hamlet is a scientist because their performance may or may not move the audience.

NLP produces a representation of another's mindset. I have no problem with that, but you have no way of knowing if it is veridically true. Thus, for example, is your failure to achieve your aims because you have failed to make an accurate representation or because of some failing on your part to use the representation? If you succeed, is this because representation was accurate or inspite of it? I think self-confidence can count for a lot. If your (wrong) representation emboldens you to do something better or to communicate more warmly with another, then it will appear that NLP still "worked". If Joe Sixpack never really thought about how to be a better rower until he discovered NLP, then becomes a better rower, is it because of the techniques of NLP or because Joe sat down and spent a lot of time thinking about how to be a better rower anyway? There are many similar hypotheses.

The science of behaviour is called Psychology, and producing rigorous findings is very hard indeed.

I'm not saying NLP isn't useful (its pragmatic in outlook, so I guess if it works for you, thats cool) but it isn't a science. My only real concern with NLP is how its developed to become a bit of a cult (I use the term loosely though) and a serious commerical concern. There is much sense in NLP, but I'm not really persuaded that those same things can't be found in other guises if you look for them (e.g., you'll see Rep Grids used in Critical Incident Technique which is used for studying safety etc.) In a therapeutic setting, NLP begins to look a lot like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for example, albeit with some slightly unnecessary elements of dogma and idiosyncratic terminology.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, but... (3.00 / 4) (#68)
by israfil on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:01:14 AM EST

...few "pet" therapies, from jungian to freudian to others fail to generate dogmatic supporters and ideosyncretic jargon.  That's just language stratification from specialization.

Does it work?  Somewhat.  It helped me.  Is it a miracle above and beyond other therapies?  Of course not, since many other therapies use similar elements.

The problem is, as you say, commercialization.  
-
i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
[ Parent ]

Psychology isn't a science, either. (1.50 / 1) (#211)
by phybre187 on Tue Sep 28, 2004 at 05:05:04 AM EST

Thoughts, moods, and irrational compulsions in human behavior are unquantifiable. Currently, if not ever. Psychology is entirely rooted in subjectivity. It is not a science, and if it ever qualifies to be a science, it will be because it has been absorbed by psychiatry, anthropology, neurology, chemistry, etc. Psychology is applied philosophy. It's not medicine. It's not science.

Thus, "science of behavior" is an oxymoron. Art of behavior, philosophy of behavior, not science of behavior.

That being said, psychology is obviously still useful. It's just not useful with a scientifically acceptable amount of consistency. The parable at the beginning of this article clearly demonstrates that.

[ Parent ]

based on != able to create (1.80 / 5) (#43)
by ant0n on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:37:37 PM EST

The question is not whether NLP is based on a hypothesis or not, the question is whether NLP is able to create falsifiable hypothesises. That's a difference.


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Would someone mind... (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by b1t r0t on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:03:55 AM EST

...telling me WTF NLP is?

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
[ Parent ]
Sure (2.33 / 6) (#29)
by ant0n on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:24:00 AM EST

An example of NLP is when I stab you with a knife and call it "performing non-elective surgery".
It stands for "Neuro-linguistic programming".


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Alt description (3.00 / 9) (#35)
by GenerationY on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:45:01 PM EST

It is to Psychology as Alchemy is to Chemistry.

The simplest way to demonstrate what you'd do is to think about, say, some forthcoming exams. After a little introspection you might realise that everytime the topic comes up you are thinking "Shit, I'm going to fail" and hunching your shoulders and grinding your teeth. The NLP approach would be that you notice this, realise its a bad thing because its probably not true and then discipline yourself to think "I'm a genius and an exam taking machine!", stand up tall and smile every time the topic of exams comes up.

There, I've told you the secret. No need for any books or tapes now. And, to be honest, the above is taken from personal experience, and it worked for me. Its not NLP-specific though, you can find much the same approach anywhere (its implicit in Pavlov, Scientology does a lot of it, God-wants-me-to-be-rich TV evangelists create the same effect through getting you to pray to God to be a better person, sporting visualisation techniques etc.)

Around this core there is a tonne of other bullshit which NLP shills have built up (e.g., Stage hypnotist Paul McKenna tried to trademark the term in the UK), but we need not concern ourselves with that here. Some bits and pieces are useful (as some parts of alchemy are translatable as reasonable chemistry), eg. Kelly Rep Grids are OK for eliciting information from people, but you can find it all elsewhere without the price tag. NLP is HEAVILY marketed and commercialised.

My advice, if you are tempted to "full on" NLP, you might as well get Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; its all the effective content with none of the gibberish and the uncertified "new age" practitioners.

[ Parent ]

Overloaded acronym (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by xofer d on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 08:38:44 PM EST

So I work in a field called Natural Language Processing - we work on natural languages like English using algorithms. It's most definitely a science, thanks. This other thing, I don't really know about. For a while I was wondering what you had against parsing...

[ Parent ]
Ahem. (none / 1) (#50)
by ubernostrum on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:42:12 PM EST

Most of the entries in the Wikipedia are just rewritten versions of the respective articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and/or Microsoft Encarta.

That's "Encyclopædia Britannica" and "Microsoft® Encarta®".


--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

Also. (3.00 / 3) (#51)
by ubernostrum on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:46:21 PM EST

When I look something up in the wikipedia, about a subject I don't know anything about, and I am confronted with wrong information, then how do I know that the information is actually wrong?

When you look something up in any other encyclopedia and don't know anything about the subject, how do you know if the information is wrong? Answer: you don't, so long as you're relying on supposedly authoritative sources without doing any researching or critical thinking of your own. Cogita tute.


--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

I don't... (none / 0) (#60)
by Kwil on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:57:46 AM EST

.. hoever I do know that, unlike some random troll from the Internet who gets his jollies out of making other people's lives more difficult, the people who do up the Encyclopaedia Brittanica are paid to get it right, and those who are spotted not getting it right quickly lose that.

Thus, there is a powerful incentive (food on the table) for the articles in Britannica to be correct. There is no such for Wikipedia.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
eh? (3.00 / 2) (#106)
by speek on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:42:37 PM EST

Thus, there is a powerful incentive (food on the table) for the articles in Britannica to be correct.

Wow, what an assumption. Shouldn't that read:

Thus, there is a powerful incentive (food on the table) for the articles in Britannica to be pleasing to those providing the money.

And, isn't that a different thing entirely?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

That's what cites are for (none / 0) (#74)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:40:28 AM EST

WP is massively deficient in cites compared to a normal encyclopedia.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

+1 FP technology & culture-centric nt (1.00 / 7) (#30)
by nlscb on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:50:12 AM EST


Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

and back... (none / 0) (#206)
by fbjon on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 08:31:47 PM EST

European films draw their strength from the incredible non-intellectual crappiness of most Hollywood films made.

[ Parent ]
Wikipedia's cabal (1.77 / 31) (#32)
by Whimsy on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:17:28 PM EST

Novices may say that "anyone can edit" Wikipedia, but it's not that simple. Wikipedia is run by Jimbo Wales, who said that "[he] is not by any stretch of the mind leftist politically, philosophically or otherwise!", and "[m]any years ago, [he] was an Undergraduate and a huge fan of Ayn Rand....". The people he gave admin privileges are of a similar ilk, one prominent one is a Moonie, and they work together.

As far as entries on this or that, Wikipedia may be fine. As far as articles about history, news, or politics, there is a very heavy American bias, in fact it is basically a white collar American's view of the world encyclopedia.

For example, the entry for "East Germany" (before a friendly editor came across it) opened with: "East Germany, formally the German Democratic Republic (GDR), German Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), was a Communist satellite state of the former Soviet Union which, together with West Germany, existed from 1949 to 1990 in Germany." One wonders why it would be said on the East Germany page that it was a "satellite state of the former Soviet Union" and someone of that point of view would not say that West Germany was a satellite state of the USA.

It just presents a very upper middle class American view of the world. Muslims/Arabs/Middle Easterners are always in the wrong, the US and Israel is always right. All socialist countries, from the Eastern Europeans to the Chinese to Latin American ones and so forth, are all bad, while the US was spreading freedom and democracy around the world, from Vietnam to Chile. In fact, most of the history of countries comes from the CIA Factbook, the US State Department, or even the Overseas Private Investment Corporation like the "History of Colombia" article. That gives you an idea of what this history is grounded in.

Anyhow, it's become apparent to me and other people that this is just the way it is, and will be as long as Jimbo Wales runs it and his cabal controls it. There are alternative wikis out there such as Infoshop Open Wiki which is a wiki where a "people's history" of the world is beginning to be written. There are also other good wikis like Disinfopedia which deal with lobbyists, PACs, PR firms and so forth.

I think this is just something we learned after a long time on Wikipedia seeing how it was this way, and despite anyone supposedly being able to edit and a supposed neutral point of view policy, the inability of that to exist since there is a cabal of administrators trying to keep their point of view on top. If you want to read a history of the world not written by the US State Department, I suggest looking at the nascent efforts of Wikinfo, Disinfopedia, Infoshop Open Wiki, and other alternative GFDL corpus access providers.

Whoa! Free peanuts!


Cool (3.00 / 7) (#34)
by pHatidic on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:31:14 PM EST

Here is a funny joke for that I think you will like:

This guy walks into a synagogue and goes up to the Rabbi and says, "Sir, I think your organization is being run by the jews!"

[ Parent ]

Hey (2.57 / 7) (#41)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:47:33 PM EST

Try harder.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Harder (none / 0) (#121)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:43:38 PM EST

And harder. Amazing that 24 is still around.

[ Parent ]
A very good reason (2.80 / 5) (#56)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:47:00 AM EST

Because East Germany WAS run by the USSR by proxy, whereas West Germany WAS in fact a soveriegn state which welcomed the US military to prevent a Soviet invasion. Even now, while they bitch about our military actions, they're also bitching about us pulling our forces OUT of their country, because they know it will cost them lost revenues from soldiers buying things.

You can argue all day, but the fact that the situations are not entirely dissimilar does not make them the same; East Germany didn't lift a finger without getting permission, whereas West Germany, on any matter except defense, didn't even tell the US what was going on until after the fact.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Come on! (none / 1) (#58)
by Argon on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:39:27 AM EST

Not even you will entirely believe that!

Even now the US as a strong grip on Germany defence and plays a major role on their politics. They even "convinced" them to drop their Mig squadron, after their pilots proved their effectiveness and asked for Germany to keep them.

But, there is some truth on what you said. USSR played more openly than the US did. I mean, you could see them pulling the strings, while the US usually used different and more discrete methods. Like providing funding, or "protection"...

[ Parent ]

Um... (2.33 / 3) (#59)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:51:20 AM EST

The US DID in fact provide protection - against a Soviet armored invasion that was in fact always a threat. It did not provide West Germany with funding, except in the immediate post-WWII years. As for the MiGs, the US didn't have to do much persuading; the pilots may have proven their effectiveness, but the planes were old, the spares program wasn't worth maintaining(it is a lot cheaper NOT to fly different kinds of aircraft if you don't have to,) and unless Russia comes into a new source of cash, there's no future development worth worrying about for the MiG or Su series fighters. It is cheaper and easier to retrain former MiG pilots to fly the same aircraft as everyone else in their military.

The US is not opposed to its friends and allies buying aircraft from other nations; India owns quite a few MiGs, for instance. BUT, there is no question that any country will seriously consider its own economic well being in aircraft decisions, as aircraft, spares, training, weapons, and so on cost a lot of money.

To me, the biggest difference is this: my West German friends tell me all about how great it was to have US protection and how they were so proud to have their own government and not to have suffered the fate of the East Germans. My former East German friends(an air force pilot included,) tell me about how sad it was to know that their government was the equivalent of a mafia block captain - picking on those under its charge, but having no real authority whatsoever over anything at all - taking orders from someone else every step of the way.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
That is what I said! (none / 1) (#61)
by Argon on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:58:57 AM EST

Well sort of, you could see USSR pulling the strings. The same thing didn't apply for the US, since they approached Europe not as a bunch of third world countries but with respect, so in the end they still pulled some strings and kept their control in a much more discrete way than USSR.
That doesn't mean Western Germany was a free player... They had more apparent liberty (government wise) than their soviet counterpart, but that's it.

As for the US not bullying their allies into buying their own planes and weapons... Look at Brazil, they have been searching for a new squadron of interceptors for years, everyone as pointed out that the Su are the only choice possible, but US keeps pushing for the F16! Which is not an interceptor, and can't protect a tenth of Brazilian territory.

Another example is Greece and the Eurofighter, Turkey complained and argued that they didn't need an heavy fighter, and US almost forced Greece to drop out of the Eurofighter and choose... F16s, again...

As for the more advancer tech in US planes... Well Russian planes have some advantages over the US. The real US advantage is on avionics and electronic war, which can be fitted into the Russian planes providing you the best of both worlds.


[ Parent ]

Um... (3.00 / 2) (#122)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:45:22 PM EST

First of all, there's nowhere to buy the weapons and avionics upgrades you suggest for Russian aircraft.

Second, the F16 is neither a heavy fighter NOR is it a bad interceptor; the US uses it in this role quite effectively. Admittedly, the US has refueling aircraft and probably has more air bases than Brazil. BUT, the Su series aircraft(even the newest ones that are expensive enough that you might as well buy F-15s instead,) while they may have some advantages in flight profile, are equipped with weapons and avionics that are not much better than what the US was using in the early 1980s, and this is a real problem unless your opponent is using similar technology. There's a reason there were zero Iraqi air to air kills of a US aircraft in the first gulf war, and it isn't because they didn't TRY to resist in the opening hours of the war.

Third, the US does what Eurofighter backers and lots of other countries do - it offers favors in exchange for contracts, because those contracts are viewed as important to maintaining the native military aerospace industry. If the US has better favors to offer, that hardly means it "coerces" people.

Finally, keep in mind that the F-16 can hit an enemy from quite a distance farther than any Su series aircraft. A lot of the "defend this much territory" projections I see assume that the aircraft has to actually overfly a given point in order to defend it; this is not even remotely true.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Interceptors (none / 0) (#172)
by Argon on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 01:48:29 PM EST

The only advantage of the F16 to the F15 is the price,  the main US interceptor and air superiority plane is the F15 SE.

Usually you don't need that many interceptors to control a restricted territory, specially because their are very expensive. Russia has less than a dozen Mig30 to cover their entire land.

The F16s can provide some air cover, but their limited range and firepower makes them no match for an heavy-fighter.

The reason the older Iraquian Migs had 0kills in the first gulf war was quite simple... They didn't fly. I remember the propaganda machine making a fuzz about a squadron that ran away into Iran, instead of defending their homeland... After that no plane flew again.
Besides, you can't compare those Migs with the new Su, they are a different generation of technology.

So, you have the Su-35 with a 4200 kms range travelling at 2440km/h fully equipped, and the F16 with a 1700kms range with a medium payload travelling at 1500Km/H.  The new radar and missiles for the Su has 400km range and can track 15 bogeys and engage 6. Do you really think Brazil should go for the F16?

Don't get me wrong, the F16 is probably the best and most successful fighter plane in the world. They are considerably cheaper than the F14 and F15 and they do the job quite nicely.

However, for certain tasks, an heavy fighter is a must and the F15 is too expensive, or not for sale.


[ Parent ]

Hehe (none / 0) (#173)
by trhurler on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 04:55:36 PM EST

Your knowledge of aircraft is a bit odd. The F15 currently in use by the US is designated E/F, depending on the seating configuration. Export versions are for sale to almost any nation on earth at this point, because they're begging to keep the line open. The export version isn't quite the latest and greatest, but it'll more than keep up with any Russian aircraft.

The dozen Mig 30s Russia has are not by choice - they don't have the money to produce and field more of them. The US certainly uses a lot more than a dozen aircraft as interceptors. For reference, a single US carrier group could destroy twelve aircraft, probably without any losses to themselves, due to sheer numbers:)

The range argument is pointless; spread bases around Brazil, and F16s could cover it easily; for defensive roles, you don't need tons of range. The armament issue is equally pointless; F16s can carry weapons perfectly capable of destroying any "heavy fighter," and in this role would be within easy range of resupply.

The statistics you cite for the Su-35 sound impressive until you start looking at what current US avionics and weapons are capable of. Granted, the Su-35 is faster and flies farther. This isn't particularly important; nobody dogfights at missile range anyway, and building a few rudimentary air bases spread around a country is cheaper in the long run than buying aircraft with greater range if you're looking for a defensive capability.

As for the F-15 being too expensive... Brazil could probably fulfill its needs with fewer of them:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Brazil (none / 0) (#184)
by Argon on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 04:49:06 AM EST

What is planned for Brazil is to have a single base to defend the entire country. You might say that it would be easier to set several inexpensive bases around country with a few F16s... But the problem with this scenario is that it would force them to have more pilots (which imply more training hours) and more planes (which imply more ground crews). If you had the two things, and compare the costs to a single base with an heavy fighter squadron, you will see that it is cheaper. So, range is quite important on a plane and no other plane can beat the Russian Su on this issue.

The superiority of the F15 against the Mig30 and Su-35 is quite relative, since the Russian planes were designed to answer the "F15 problem", and the F15 is quite an old model. Now you might say, and rightly so, that the avionics and electronic equipment of the F15 makes all the difference. But the world is still waiting to see the combat proof of this theory, since US planes only fought against old versions of the Russian planes, and the new ones do not have quite the same equipment.

F15 is not even in the equation for Brazil defence system, the US proposed a squadron of F16s to defend their immense territory and offered almost no benefits to the Brazilian government. Russia on the other side offers one of their latest models, with full technology transfer and a special agreement between their space agencies. Besides, the Brazilian air force already said that the Su was far better than any other contestant... The question we all make is, if the deal Russia proposes is so sweet, why Brazil still hesitates in buying these planes?


[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#197)
by trhurler on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 05:01:51 PM EST

Well, I think I can see why Brazil hesitates, AND why Russia makes such a generous offer. For the Russians, arms deals are the only way to fund their own military R&D, and they're desperately trying to maintain a credible world class military. Of course they want to work with others. BUT, from the Brazilian standpoint, the history of Russia(not just the USSR, either,) is not so good about working with others when the situation changes and Russia is no longer in a position of weakness.

In any case, I'd sure like to see the math on how buying Su-35s will be cheaper in the long run. They're nice aircraft, but while the purchase price may be cheap, upkeep, consumables, and training are not. If the US offered a crappy deal in this case, then I suppose maybe it works out.

Strangely, Brazil's choice of aircraft may come down to some stupid US politics; we have two major companies that make fighter aircraft, one of which is hogging the business right now. The F16 is their baby. The F15, which sounds like a better fit for this job in a modified export version(probably cheaper, definitely not quite as good, but almost certainly the equal of the Su-35,) belongs to the other company, which hasn't been doing so well at getting new contracts and which the government seems not to support as much as it used to in the fighter business. Had we offered a deal like what we gave the Israelis or the Saudis, I bet Brazil wouldn't even have to hesitate. They got a LOT of free or vastly discounted services, some manufacturing rights for certain spares, aircraft customized to their specifications(the Israeli version even has a spotlight, but I wonder what the hell they use it for,) and extras thrown in such as participation in certain joint training exercises and so on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Right on the spot... (none / 0) (#201)
by Argon on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 04:17:17 AM EST

We've reached the point where we both agree. :)

I've only read articles with financial forecasts for each choice of plane in Portuguese. Anyway, Russia is now a different country than USSR, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Besides they do need a big sale to a western country in order to open some doors on this side of the fence. They have sales for their former "allies", and those were quite pleased with the Su35, but in the end the western markets have usually closed to the Russians.

And its true, if the F15 were in the fight Brazil would most likely choose it. Specially if US threw in the same benefits given to Israel and Saudi Arabia... But then again, those two countries have a very special relationship with the US and I don't see any US interest in extending such benefits to anyone else.


[ Parent ]

1.000.000.000 Euro (none / 0) (#62)
by jotango on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:59:48 AM EST

Germany pays the US something around 1 Billion Euro per year to help with the upkeep of the bases.This is one reason why the US is keeping some of its bases in Germany (e.g. Rammstein). Poland or Hungary may be less thorny sometimes, but a lot more expensive if you figure that in.

[ Parent ]
Oh, and... (2.00 / 2) (#57)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:48:12 AM EST

I'm sure the "People's History of the World" will be as much a free and unbiased account of world history as the "People's Republic of Outer Slobolsgebovia" is a free and unbiased nation of happy proletarians.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Bias on Wikipedia (none / 0) (#214)
by Xed on Wed Sep 29, 2004 at 06:07:40 PM EST

You may be interested in a project that attempts to alleviate Wikipedia's bias: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Xed/CROSSBOW

[ Parent ]
Not going to respond (2.18 / 11) (#45)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:45:35 PM EST

Aside from this note, I'm not going to respond to the people here who are discounting Wikipedia. Wikipedia has never asked people to use it as a source. Wikipedia has never claimed that its articles are unbiased or accurate. The site's philosophy tries to push users towards those goals, and that's it. If people see it as a valuable source of information - and it appears they do - they'll use it. Most of the objections here are attacking Wikipedia for failing at tasks it has never attempted.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
Subject: (1.00 / 11) (#46)
by ant0n on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:19:15 PM EST

Wikipedia has never claimed that its articles are unbiased

Yeah, sure. And Jesus has never claimed that he is the son of god. George Bush has never claimed that he is the president of the US of A. Michael Jackson has never claimed that he didn't fuck those children.


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia advocates constantly claim (none / 1) (#73)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:38:05 AM EST

that Wikipedia is just as good as normal
encyclopedias. I don't see you arguing against all this hype.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Luckily (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:00:47 AM EST

I don't have to. I agree with Wikipedia's general disclaimer.

"Just as good" is a subjective claim. My personal opinion is that Wikipedia is much better than Britannica for information about technology, politics, current events, and unfortunately, useless Internet culture such as "All Your Base" and a list of every stupid GameFAQs spinoff. Wikipedia is worse than Britannica for social sciences, art, culture, and history. For completeness and uniformity, Britannica is hands-down better than Wikipedia. I hope to play some small role in changing this.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Yes you do (none / 1) (#78)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:13:07 AM EST

If you genuinely believe that people should never rely on Wikipedia, you should criticize the WP fanatics rather than the skeptics. Otherwise you are just being disingenuous or inconsistent.

My personal opinion is that Wikipedia is much better than Britannica for information about technology, politics, current events,
Again, you contradict yourself. Wikipedia can't be "much better" than Britannica for certain subjects if it's accuracy cannot be trusted. You see, Britannica doesn't need a "disclaimer". In any metric of worth for an encyclopedia, accuracy is surely central.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Personal opinion (none / 0) (#80)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:22:29 AM EST

As I said, that's merely my personal opinion. I'm done arguing with you.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Personal opinion? (none / 0) (#81)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:26:30 AM EST

Everything you say is your personal opinion, unless you are Wikipedia's official spokesperson.

First you bitch that people take Wikipedia seriously as an encyclopedia, now you admit that you think it's better than Britannica for certain topics. You're all over the place.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Apparently (none / 0) (#83)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:40:19 AM EST

You have some sort of solipsistic complex where you equate personal opinions with statements of immutable fact. I admit that I may be wrong; apparently you don't have the requisite brain structures to make this humbling admission.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Let me make this simple for you (none / 0) (#84)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:51:16 AM EST

I agree with Wikipedia's general disclaimer.

Most of the objections here are attacking Wikipedia for failing at tasks it has never attempted [being unbiased and accurate].

My personal opinion is that Wikipedia is much better than Britannica for information about technology, politics, current events

Don't you find those statements even slightly contradictory?

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Why should they be? (none / 1) (#86)
by Nursie on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:10:20 AM EST

Logically something can be something without trying to be. Also I would note that a dynamic medium such as wikipedia is inherently going to be better than a static book such as britannica at giving info on a dynamic and ever changing arena like politics/current events.

Meta Sigs suck.

[ Parent ]
No, let me make it simple for you: (2.00 / 3) (#88)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:45:25 AM EST

My statements aren't the least bit contradictory, and you're an idiot.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
IAWTP. (none / 0) (#92)
by gzt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:03:57 PM EST



[ Parent ]
How? (none / 0) (#147)
by Kal on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 07:30:12 PM EST

How do you feel they are contradictory? I don't seem to see any problem with them.

I agree with Wikipedia's general disclaimer.

Personal opionion.

Most of the objections here are attacking Wikipedia for failing at tasks it has never attempted

Fact.

My personal opinion is that Wikipedia is much better than Britannica for information about technology, politics, current events

Again personal opinion.

Why do you find it difficult to think that the Wikipedia can be much better for certain fields, mainly ones that change often or didn't exist last time Britannica was published, while still having an overall lower quality?

[ Parent ]
Confusion of legal and practical (none / 1) (#156)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:49:18 PM EST

Why do you find it difficult to think that the Wikipedia can be much better for certain fields, mainly ones that change often or didn't exist last time Britannica was published, while still having an overall lower quality?
The issue isn't quality, it's accuarcy. The disclaimer (and CaptainSuperBoy) are saying that Wikipedia's accuracy isn't to be trusted at all. In which case, it fails at the first hurdle for an encyclopedia and shouldn't be useful for any topic whatsoever.

Most of the objections here are attacking Wikipedia for failing at tasks it has never attempted

Fact.

No, it's not. Wikipedia HAS attempted to be accurate and unbiased (which is what the objections are about); editors attempt this every single day on the site. Whether it's actually acheived is another question, but if you actually have participated in the site there is no question that is the goal.

What I'm arguing about here is that CaptainSuperBoy is being purposefully disingenuous by confusing legal and practical levels. Legally speaking, Wikipedia does have a disclaimer that says it's is accuracy not to be trusted. At the same time, Wikipedia advocates (including Mr Wikipedia himself, Jimmy Wales) constantly say that Wikipedia is just as good as regular encyclopedias.

CaptainSuperBoy thinks the disclaimer somehow nullifies any criticism of Wikipedia. It doesn't, obviously, any more than it nullifies any advocacy of Wikipedia. It simply is a waiver for legal purposes. Wikipedia can be criticized on the grounds of accuracy and bias because it's owners, users and advocates (i.e. Jimmy Wales) purport that it is just as good as a regular encyclopedia.

More generally, the confusion of the legal with the practical is a commonly used rhetorical device on the web, and I'm getting pretty fed up with it.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Logic, assumptions. (none / 0) (#181)
by cburke on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 10:57:39 PM EST

Don't you find those statements even slightly contradictory?

That depends on the assumptions we are making.  If you assume that Britannica is unbiased and accurate on issues of politics, then the statements would be contradictory.  If you do not assume this, then they would not.

Clearly CaptainSuperBoy does not make this assumption.

[ Parent ]

wrong (2.83 / 6) (#100)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:02:30 PM EST

You see, Britannica doesn't need a "disclaimer".

You mean a disclaimer like this one?

Neither Britannica, its affiliates, nor any third-party content providers or licensors makes any warranty whatsoever, including without limitation: that the operation of the Site will be uninterrupted or error-free; that defects will be corrected; that this Site, including the server that makes it available, is free of infection, viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, or other harmful components or other code that manifest contaminating or destructive properties; as to the results that may be obtained from use of the materials on the Site; or as to the accuracy, reliability, availability, suitability, quality, or operation of any information, software, or service provided on or accessible from the Site or as to any information, products, or services on the Internet in any way. In addition, Britannica does not assume any responsibility or risk for your use of the Internet.

THE SITE AND ALL INFORMATION, PRODUCTS, AND OTHER CONTENT (INCLUDING THIRD-PARTY INFORMATION, PRODUCTS, AND CONTENT) INCLUDED IN OR ACCESSIBLE FROM THIS SITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND (EXPRESS, IMPLIED, AND STATUTORY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF TITLE AND NONINFRINGEMENT AND THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE), ALL OF WHICH BRITANNICA EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. YOUR USE OF BRITANNICA.COM IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.

[ Parent ]

I'm talking about the books nt (none / 0) (#143)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 06:09:54 PM EST


Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

It is always prudent... (none / 1) (#131)
by Filip on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:36:14 PM EST

...to check a second source.

If you do research on anything, and expect to come up with something other than just a random result - the rule is: Always check three independent sources. If they disagree - get more sources.

For just random curiosity, I find that two sources may be adequate. (Unless one is a newspaper or TV documentary - they don't count at all.)

Suppose someone consistently find that the information on WP in areas such as technology, politics, current events, are good - when s/he is doing research. Then why should not that person say so? Saying, "I find WP articles better" implies that the person double checked, which implies that the person does not rely on the WP article - but conducts research.

I never rely on any one single source of information.

/Filip
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

+1FP, no politics! (nt) (1.16 / 6) (#55)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:15:44 AM EST


--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Apparently you are mistaken (none / 1) (#151)
by scruffyMark on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:10:24 PM EST

Looking through the comments to the article, it is obvious that there are in fact a lot of politics surrounding this topic...

Of course, that will be true for any interesting topic, and probably most of the boring ones too.

[ Parent ]

Aphorism? (none / 1) (#64)
by localroger on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 07:58:54 AM EST

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." -Aphorism

Come on, I am far from being a practicing Christian myself but even I would have attributed this to Jesus of Nazareth, from Luke 6:31 in the Christian Bible.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min

Interesting (none / 1) (#65)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:29:51 AM EST

You think that Jesus really coined the phrase or it was already around at the time? I actually googled the phrase thinking it was from the bible but couldn't find it anywhere.

[ Parent ]
Not word for word, but (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by MrHanky on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:36:49 AM EST

Jesus did say something similar, and so did many other religious leaders and philosophers. Here are some variants.


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link (none / 0) (#70)
by rpresser on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:26:11 AM EST

I have been taught that Jesus' saying was (deliberately) a reversal of Hillel's phrasing in the Talmud. Now I know that the concept is much older. Thank you.
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]
That one's been around for longer... (none / 0) (#82)
by ksandstr on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:32:23 AM EST

than any major religion in the so-called west.


[ Parent ]
In Matthew (none / 1) (#87)
by Sgt York on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:23:21 AM EST

Did a quick search for it, it's Matthew 7:12. It's not "do unto others", though. It's "Love your neighbor as yourself". It's not so much an emphesis on action, but on attitude. In actual (i.e., Biblical, the teachings of Jesus) Christian philosophy, action means squat without the proper attitudes and motivations (this is as opposed to the impression you get from most if the Christian denominations).

It was an expansion on a theme common in Judiasm and 99% of other world philosophies. It probably evolved independently in many philosphies and cultures; it's a good rule for maintenance of society.

As a side note, although many Christians point to the "Do unto others..." as the Golden Rule, it's not. It's the second most important commandment. The Silver Rule, I guess.


There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

ok (none / 0) (#91)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:50:10 AM EST

what is the golden rule then?

[ Parent ]
That would have been nice of me, huh? (none / 1) (#94)
by Sgt York on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:10:12 PM EST

Sorry, I guess I should've included it. It's "Love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength". I may have the order wrong. I had the first reference wrong, too. It's Matthew 22:39.

Also, it is not presented as "the golden rule" but as "the greatest commandment", in response to a question posed by a scholar to Jesus. The "Love your neighbor part" was presented as the second greatest commandment. The meaning is that Christians are first to serve God, and part of this service is to serve the people around you. "Neighbor" is to be taken very loosely.

And, like I said, this is Biblical Christian teaching. It's not what is taught by many denominations, and this is very unfortunate.


There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Neighbor is like.... (none / 0) (#97)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:35:39 PM EST

The way many black people call everybody "Brother" or "Sister".

Essentially, everybody.

[ Parent ]

Try Hillel... (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by escoles on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:24:51 AM EST

... or lots of other folks for that matter. The Hillel version goes something like this:
The Rabbi Hillel was approached one day by a wealthy man, who offered him this challenge: "If you can teach me all of the wisdom of the Talmud while standing on one foot, I will give half of my wealth to the poor."

Hillel considered, and agreed. He lifted one foot, and said: "All of the Talmud may be summarized thus: Do as you would have done."

He then lowered his foot, and the wealthy man went home to arrange the disposition of half of his wealth to the poor.
Naturally, of course, something like this has been a part of the moral tradition of nearly every culture that recorded its moral tradition. If I had my copy of the Elder Edda here, I could pull a half dozen demonstrative passages from Havamal to similar effect.

[ Parent ]
Jesus was quoting... (none / 0) (#98)
by Run4YourLives on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:38:07 PM EST

leviticus when he said that.

The fact that he was quoting is important, as he mearly answered a pressing question with an answer that was right in front of everyone's face.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Quote is direct from the KJV (3.00 / 2) (#102)
by localroger on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:19:21 PM EST

Although similar sentiments abound, from other parts of the Bible to Lao Tze, the story author directly quoted Luke 6:31 from the King James Version of the Bible. Not Leviticus, not Lao Tze, not a verse from Matthew. It's Luke 6:31 word for word from that particular translation of the Bible. To attribute it as "aphorism" is entirely inappropriate.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
read the thing... (none / 0) (#103)
by Run4YourLives on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:24:50 PM EST

Jesus himself is quoting leviticus for the "love your neightbour" bit and deuteronomy for the "love your god" bit.

The story of Jesus quoting these passages is in luke though, yes.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

read thing thing yourself (none / 0) (#132)
by Filip on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:49:05 PM EST

I suggest you look up Luke 6:31 in a Bible, if you have one. You and localroger are citing two different passages. They relate in subject - but have their sources in different occasions. Jesus happen to have said more than one thing - I should know, I'm a priest.

/Filip
-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

I just read the thing... (none / 0) (#208)
by p3d0 on Sat Sep 25, 2004 at 09:48:37 AM EST

...and I didn't see any evidence that He was quoting Leviticus there. But reading that chapter probably doubled the total quantity of the Christian Bible that I have ever read in my life, so I'm not exactly an expert. Did I miss it?
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
oh btw I aggree... (none / 0) (#104)
by Run4YourLives on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:27:31 PM EST

It should not be reported as an "aphorism" when taken as a direct quote.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Uhh (none / 0) (#115)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:59:47 PM EST

So by this logic any word for word saying that comes from somewhere cannot be an aphorism? Anything that has been repeated word for word for hundreds or thousands of years had to originate somewhere. This does not prevent it from being an aphorism. The saying "make hay while the sun shines" is a saying and I have no idea where it comes from but it is still an aphorism. Since I am not christian I didn't know the etymology of where that specific wording comes from, but I have heard it from a lot of people who aren't necessarily regilious either.

[ Parent ]
Disclaimer (none / 1) (#171)
by jolly st nick on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 11:29:17 AM EST

Come on, I am far from being a practicing Christian myself
...

Well, I'm glad of the disclaimer, because if you were a practicing Christian I'd automatically discount everything you say. ;-)

[ Parent ]

great subject! (1.00 / 6) (#66)
by gr00vey on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:30:01 AM EST

I agree with some of the points the naysayers see, but I am also impressed with wikipedia... I really don't have a point here, but other posters do! ;) I just like to type....

How WP really works (2.42 / 19) (#72)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:35:28 AM EST

I'm posting this because most people don't seem to understand how Wikipedia really works; they just see the glossy outer layer of Wikipedia. Like laws and sausages, if you enjoy Wikipedia articles you probably don't want to know how they are made.

For any mildly controversial subject the WP system doesn't work. Because all contributors (apart from admins, which I'll get to later) have equal power, when disputes happen, "revert wars" ensue where each party tries to get their version made official. Revert wars happen all the time and are usually incredibly time-consuming, frustrating and nonproductive for both parties. Useful, neutral information is lost. Progress is impossible. An enormous number of pages are in a constant state of revert war.

The winners of revert wars are those who are willing to spend the most time reverting their opponent; in other words, may the saddest bastard win. Even if they are completely wrong, they will whittle away at their opponents words until the real points are obscured, replaced with half-truths. The other side often becomes demoralized because their additions are continually and destructively deleted and so the other side takes over the page. It's all fairly primitive and territorial and not what an encyclopedia should be about.

There are admins; but these elite few are usually even sadder bastards than your average contributor, because to become an admin you seem to need to spend most of your spare time on wikipedia. In my experience, admins are usually just as biased, ignorant and unthinking as your average contributor but are more arrogant and inflexible. Admins have many special powers, which they frequently abuse.

There is a formal dispute resolution system, but it's rarely used. It seems only to "work" by wasting every one's time and escalating decisions up the hierarchy, but nobody wants to make hard decisions so disruptive idiots are usually left alone to cause trouble. If you are a legitimate contributor, you have to be a truly offensive individual to be punished.

The bulk of contributors are not neutral parties. They are people with an agenda to push, who are only interested in controversial issues and pet subjects. Not only will they only add material that furthers their agenda, they will delete and marginalize material opposed to their agenda, no matter how accurate it may be. This behaviour is officially frowned upon but practially tolerated; nobody really cares about biased contributors except in cases of blatant vandalism and offensiveness.

The neutrality policy is ridiculous. It basically states that Wikipedia's tone should be neutral but it does not say much about factual neutrality. One side can easily make pages incredibly biased simply by introducing more random facts than the other, making many pages disorganized lists of points for either side.

Wikipedia is full of sloppy writing and sloppy grammar. I'm not saying I write any better. Good writing is a hard skill; good encyclopedia writing is even harder because you must sum up difficult subjects in the smallest space possible. But few wikipedia articles even attempt to approach this ideal; most are badly organized with little or no summary.

Another person has commented about the "List of Jews". Wikipedia is full of bizarre stuff like that, categories and statistics and lists that would not belong in a normal encyclopedia. Many obsessive bean counters seem to have latched on to Wikipedia as an outlet for their compulsive behaviour. There are few standards for what actually should be included and what shouldn't.

Finally, no matter how many times fanatics repeat it, Wikipedia is NOT "just as good" as a real encyclopedia. It's dangerous false advertising to suggest otherwise. Writing an encyclopedia is hard work: it's difficult, it's boring and it requires time and expertise. An amateur encyclopedia is exactly that, no matter how many amateurs work on it.

It's easy to test Wikipedia and I recommend everyone do this for themselves. Simply insert random but dangerously false information that "sounds right" into a page and see how many days it lasts, and if it's deleted at all. You may be surprised, but see the process for yourself. Don't believe the hype.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB

Dear asshole (2.58 / 12) (#77)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:05:57 AM EST

Can you morons stop suggesting that people come and vandalize Wikipedia to test its effectiveness? Do you take a shit on someone's carpet just to see how quickly they'll clean it up?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Of course, (1.75 / 4) (#79)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:16:15 AM EST

you delete the material when the test finishes. That goes without saying. but I don't think you know the scale of vandalism that goes on daily in WP if you're upset about a few tests.

Had your blood pressure checked lately, Captain?

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

waste other people's time (3.00 / 2) (#169)
by tjansen on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 09:18:11 AM EST

But if somebody notices, he wastes time reverting your change, and possibly also researching facts before reverting. Most vandalism is easy to detect and revert. But changing a fake fact can be quite a lot work.

[ Parent ]
half a brain (3.00 / 3) (#89)
by mmclar on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:46:10 AM EST

Anybody with $SUBJECT can easily tell apart articles that might be biased and articles that are not.

That is to say, I would not go on Wikipedia to try and seriously inform myself about a subject that is manipulable towards a specific goal or viewpoint. However, for learning about the sciences and other non-arguable subjects, it is a great resource and, yes, many of the articles are much more in depth than what you would find in your standard bound encyclopedia. A lot of the stuff is written by folks who obviously care about explaining well the subjects they are, well, explaining.

In conclusion, probably don't go to Wikipedia to figure out if you should switch religions or have an abortion, but if you are looking for a good explanation of a recursive solution to the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, it is probably at least a good start. Seems pretty simple to me.

---
sig sig sig sig (sing with the notes C G A B, and feel free to transpose to any key)
[ Parent ]

Learning about contentious issues (3.00 / 6) (#119)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:20:24 PM EST

I would not go on Wikipedia to try and seriously inform myself about a subject that is manipulable towards a specific goal or viewpoint.

Personally, I think Wikipedia's articles on contentious topics are among its greatest strengths. They are often biased to be sure, but if you read through the attached Talk page and browse the article's history, you usually get a very good overview of the topic and the different positions of the arguing parties. Much better than any other web site, newspaper or encyclopedia (where the biases are either hidden or the controversies are papered over).

[ Parent ]

understanding bias (none / 0) (#125)
by mmclar on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:02:00 PM EST

This is true, too. Sometimes I find myself looking at articles on Wp and the associated discussions just to find out what people think in general. And my understanding is that it is relatively easy to tag a page as non-NPOV or somesuch as a warning that there might be some affecting bias.

I guess the real point is that, no matter what you are reading, watching, listening to, or otherwise interacting with to obtain information, the meta-information is as important as the information itself.

---
sig sig sig sig (sing with the notes C G A B, and feel free to transpose to any key)
[ Parent ]

The sciences and other non-arguable subjects? (1.50 / 2) (#163)
by Zerotime on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 02:43:18 AM EST

Have you ever actually hung out with a group of scientists before? It's like a bar fight with lab coats.

---
"You don't even have to drink it. You just rub it on your hips and it eats its way through to your liver."
[ Parent ]
that was very informative, but (none / 1) (#90)
by circletimessquare on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:49:54 AM EST

you have a bias you are not even aware of

i think that that which trickles up form the bottom, no matter how different it appears to you from how an encyclopedia really should appear, is still superior to some sort of central authority

so therefore, you are simply biased towards centralized authorities on contentious issues, when your trust in them for those issues is not founded on anything reaosnable, that's just your bias

it's all about trust, and why should i trust encyclopedia's take on abortion than anyone else?

a contentious issue is a contentious issue is a contentious issue

there is no person on this planet who is so benign and passionless as to cover the topic of abortion or gun control without any slightest hint of bias

so, it is simply the poin tthat some subject matter is contentious- this neither detracts from nor adds to wikipedia, it just is

and your belief seems to be that somewhere there exists an authority figure that can issue an encyclopedia entry on abortion without offending anyone

then i simply say that it is your pov that is out of sync with reality, not wikipedia's free for all model of production

it's like that book, the cathedral and the bazaar

sure, you can point out problems with the bazaar model of content production

but i assert to you that your faith in the cathedral model of content production is disingeuous, as there are just as many problems there

so you simply have a bias


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Examples? (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by mgarland on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:18:48 PM EST

Can you give some examples of "worst-of-the-worst" in terms of revision wars, bias, etc?

thanks...

[ Parent ]

I will (none / 1) (#101)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:12:11 PM EST

Circumcision is one article that got wrecked by an edit war. It's cooled down now but for a while, militant anti-circumcision and pro-circumcision activists were duking it out. Both sides acted like morons, the page was protected for a while, and one of the pro-circumcision participants left angrily. I think the community needs to act more quickly and decisively in order to prevent situations like that. People who insist on using Wikipedia as a tool for activism should be banned from editing specific pages.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
So? (3.00 / 3) (#105)
by BigZaphod on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:41:46 PM EST

So a few stubborn folks got pissed off.  Big deal.  You can't just settle disputes because you want them settled.  Everyone has to agree to settle or else there is still a dispute.  It seems to me that the community is doing exactly what it should be doing.  The dispute will rage on until such time that either those causing the trouble don't care anymore, or an actual middle ground is reached that everyone can agree on.  In the end you'll have a far more solid and battle-tested result.

Everyone has an agenda.  Yours is to settle disputes quickly and decisively (and thus toss out any complicated arguments the players involved may have in order to expedite a final result).  Mine is to let the disputes run their course (even though it causes pain, fighting, and violent disagreements lasting an unspecified length of time).  Do you suggest that you and I not be allowed to edit Wikipedia pages as well?  Just because we have an opinion?


"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]

Interesting point (2.40 / 5) (#108)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:56:53 PM EST

It's an interesting point, and I sort of agree with you. People who are merely trying to represent an opinion are welcome at Wikipedia, but in that specific edit war they moved on to destructive behavior. One editor took to removing links to scientific studies that didn't support his opinion - do you think this should be allowed? He also removed large sections of the article which he claimed were biased, and insisted that they be kept in a "holding area" until they were vetted. My point is that disputes are fine, but disruptive behavior is not. Often the participants don't adhere to your doctrine of letting disputes run their course - they quickly revert each others' changes, causing huge edit histories and making changes hard to track. They also waste the time of many other users, who could be contributing content. It's a complicated problem and there's no simple solution, but it's one area where Wikipedia could be more decisive. These users are a step away from simple vandals.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
I understand. (3.00 / 2) (#116)
by BigZaphod on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:05:39 PM EST

I see your point about them being vandals.  That tends to happen when emotion rules the day.  However, in principal, I feel that sort of behavior should be allowed.  I'll try to explain why.. :-)

As I see it, if you try to limit or eliminate certain behaviors, you are not solving the real problem.  The real problem is that people feel free to behave in that way with little to no regard for others.  You cannot force people to act with honor or respect.  They must choose to.  And so therefore saying that destructive behavior shouldn't be allowed is, in effect, an attempt to dictate human behavior and is doomed to fail.

The "proper" answer is to work on a social solution.  In other words, make it so that it is understood that certain behavior is rude and impolite and that there are other ways to go about handling disputes rather than petty vandalism.  The trouble is that teaching something like this almost never works without resorting to something approaching a religious intensity.  All sorts of problems come along when you try to bring that into the mix.  So really, the only way to allow people to learn how to deal with each other is to let the parties involved experience the annoyance of the petty, violent behavior until the lessons sink in.  The hard-won experiences will be deeply integrated into the participants and will sort of virally spread throughout the community.

The unfortunate reality is that it inconveniences all of us who have better ways of solving our problems.  I understand your desire to avoid being inconvenienced - after all, you and I know how stupid these battles can be.  Sadly, the people who take part in these battles cannot yet see beyond their limited world-view because they take everything so personally.

And so I have basically concluded that the best way to fight this sort of behavior online (and in the world, sadly) is to let it happen and be there to help clean up later.  Otherwise the players won't learn the lessons they need to learn.  I think one of the reasons the "powerful" nations of the world are they way they are has a lot to do with having "been there, done that" when it comes to internal and external issues.  Now, unfortunately, the United States (in particular) tends to want to help out countries that might be having internal struggles.  So we come in with big guns, money, and McDonalds and try to tell them they are doing it all wrong.  They never really understand why, though, and it only prolongs the disputes and repackages them.  So by trying to prevent the trouble, we can often make it worse.

It is sad, though, but I really do feel that some people simply must learn their lessons first-hand.  It is an unfortunate reality of our human nature. You may believe otherwise, and that's fine.  The key point, though, is that we can have a reasonably civil conversation about it.  :-)


"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]

LOL (2.83 / 6) (#96)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:23:52 PM EST

Like laws and sausages, if you enjoy Wikipedia articles you probably don't want to know how they are made.

The entire point of my article was to say that it doesn't matter if Wikipedia should work or shouldn't work, what matters is the finished product which is very good. Similarly it doesn't matter if sausages are made out of shit and should taste like shit, because they taste good and so I eat them.

when disputes happen, "revert wars" ensue where each party tries to get their version made official. After the 3rd revert a page is frozen for a day to have a cooling off period usually. Also if someone vandalizes a page and reverts it 3 or more times then they are banned. I have been in the Wikipedia IRC room for several months now 24/7 and have never seen a revert war that wasn't quickly and cleanly resolved.

The bulk of contributors are not neutral parties.

There is no such thing as a neutral party.

Not only will they only add material that furthers their agenda, they will delete and marginalize material opposed to their agenda, no matter how accurate it may be.

This is what should happen in theory but in reality it rarely or never does. I have read hundreds of articles and have yet to read one that was blatantly biased or incorrect, the closest I have come is through hearing second hand accounts of people finding biased articles. In theory all of the articles should be very biased, but in reality this almost never happens which makes me wonder whether you have really spent a lot of time at Wikipedia or if you just read that it was bad on the internet somewhere.

Good writing is a hard skill; good encyclopedia writing is even harder because you must sum up difficult subjects in the smallest space possible.

Good writing isn't written, it's rewritten. This is the entire concept behind Wikipedia, that if you combine enough people with only decent writing skills but let them tinker and rework the article for long enough it was eventually end up being amazing. Yes in theory it sounds like it wouldn't work but in practice it works quite well. Look at the history of the article on Tea for example. It started out just being a poorly written incoherent paragraph, but then people added to it sentence by sentence and rewrote it sentence by sentence until it is where it is today, which is arguably the best article on Tea anywhere.

It's easy to test Wikipedia and I recommend everyone do this for themselves. Simply insert random but dangerously false information that "sounds right" into a page and see how many days it lasts, and if it's deleted at all.

Yes in theory you can deface Wikipedia all day long but in reality it rarely happens because one would have to live with the guilt of defacing such a noble project. That goes back to my point about theory vs. reality. Yes I have seen lots of people do this and most of them are reverted within 5 minutes. A better measure of how many days you can go would be how many people view it before it is changed. This is because it doesn't matter if there are false facts in existence somewhere, what matters is if people are actually being misled by them. Of course anyone could write an article that is false and if no one reads it then it won't get fixed but at the same time no one will be hurt by it being false.

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (none / 1) (#109)
by dudio on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 01:58:10 PM EST

Yes in theory you can deface Wikipedia all day long but in reality it rarely happens because one would have to live with the guilt of defacing such a noble project. That goes back to my point about theory vs. reality. Yes I have seen lots of people do this and most of them are reverted within 5 minutes. A better measure of how many days you can go would be how many people view it before it is changed. This is because it doesn't matter if there are false facts in existence somewhere, what matters is if people are actually being misled by them. Of course anyone could write an article that is false and if no one reads it then it won't get fixed but at the same time no one will be hurt by it being false.

This raises an interesting question. What percentage of Wikipedia readers are there to gain knowledge on subjects about which they know little, and what percentage are there to further the Wikipedia project? Based on what you said here, it seems to me that the vast majority of readers are there for the project, not for the knowledge, whereas the reverse is true of a traditional encyclopedia like Brittanica. I wonder what will happen to Wikipedia's accuracy and usefulness if/when the balance shifts.

[ Parent ]
Not true (2.00 / 3) (#111)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:24:56 PM EST

Most visitors to Wikipedia are anonymous readers, and many edits are casual and done by anonymous users. The English Wikipedia has about 11000 registered editors who have contributed, and receives about 500,000 edits per month. There are over 5 million page reads per day, suggesting that most page reads are from non-contributors.

See Wikistats and Wikipedia:Statistics

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

ROR (none / 1) (#154)
by rob1 on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:38:21 PM EST

Similarly it doesn't matter if sausages are made out of shit and should taste like shit, because they taste good and so I eat them.
What can I say? I just disagree with this.

After the 3rd revert a page is frozen for a day to have a cooling off period usually.
This rarely happens, and if it does it's at the discretion of an admin. I get the impression you've never been in a real revert war. It's not pretty. A single dispute can fester for days or even weeks before protection. And page protection doesn't really help, it just means that additions by third parties are lost.

There is no such thing as a neutral party.
Perhaps not, but there exist people who keep an open mind, are polite to work with, are willing to see things from different perspectives and value honesty and accuracy over their particular agenda. There are few such people on Wikipedia. When it comes to controversial issues, most editors (including admins) have blatant bias and refuse to accept the other side.

Also if someone vandalizes a page and reverts it 3 or more times then they are banned.
They may be banned temporarily if an admin deems it necessary. Wiki justice is a capricious thing. Vandalism is entirely different from revert wars, and I'm not talking about vandals.

I have been in the Wikipedia IRC room for several months now 24/7 and have never seen a revert war that wasn't quickly and cleanly resolved.
Being in an IRC room does not expose you to the daily grind of Wiki wars. Revert wars are common, they often go unresolved, and they are often unfairly resolved.

In theory all of the articles should be very biased, but in reality this almost never happens which makes me wonder whether you have really spent a lot of time at Wikipedia or if you just read that it was bad on the internet somewhere.
Well, I have contributed a fair amount of material to Wikipedia, writing a few decent articles from scratch. Did I "spend a lot of time" at Wikipedia? That's my point. I didn't want to, but I found myself constantly being drawn into endless revert wars over petty statements, which were one big waste of time.

If you really want to measure the overall bias in Wikipedia, there are two pages you should start with: NPOV disputes and Accuracy disputes. You can clearly see some of the major points of dispute and bias from these pages: Middle East issues, pro-Americanism/anti-Americanism, etc. It would be pointless to note a single incorrect fact, as that wouldn't prove anything and it would be quickly changed, "proving" that the Wikipedia system works. The bias is systematic. It's because the entire motivation for the existence of a huge number of Wikipedia pages is to push an agenda, rather than provide facts. Even when both "sides" of a heated disputed are represented, the middle ground is usually ignored because neutral people don't have as much motivation to write as the partisans. This is why controversial issues are massively over-represented on Wikipedia.

Good writing isn't written, it's rewritten. This is the entire concept behind Wikipedia, that if you combine enough people with only decent writing skills but let them tinker and rework the article for long enough it was eventually end up being amazing.
I have often seen people make negative changes that make pages harder to read simply because they prefer it; people have different tastes. Usually, pages seem to reach an equilibrium when the number of negative change equals the number of positive changes, which is far from the ideal writing that you could get from one professionl writer alone. The problem is that good writing isn't about quantity, it's about quality. How can amateur writers produce excellent prose if they don't even know what it is? And, trust me, many don't.

This is because it doesn't matter if there are false facts in existence somewhere, what matters is if people are actually being misled by them.
Wikipedia is a very popular website, and most pages on known topics will eventually be read by someone. The problem is that Wikipedia pages cannot be easily categorized as "good" or "bad" by casual readers. If there are some poor pages, they will reflect badly on the good pages. Wikipedia needs some way of "grading" pages to allow readers to know their quality and accuracy. There are a few hundred "featured articles", but that's not very many.

Listen, I like Wikipedia. It's quite a good place if you want to write about academic, uninteresting or obscure topics, because nobody will bother you (unlike, say, here). However, if you want to contribute to something that is slightly controversial or of any interest to the partisans, it becomes a very frustrating experience.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Testing Wikipedia (2.85 / 7) (#120)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:26:28 PM EST

It's easy to test Wikipedia and I recommend everyone do this for themselves.

That is correct, but the test you propose does not in any way test Wikipedia's quality. To test Wikipedia's quality, take the topics you know best, read the Wikipedia articles on those topics, and compare them to the corresponding articles in your favorite encyclopedia. If Wikipedia's articles are significantly worse, you have good reason to distrust Wikipedia in other realms as well.

[ Parent ]

Bias on Wikipedia (none / 0) (#213)
by Xed on Wed Sep 29, 2004 at 06:07:24 PM EST

You may be interested in a project that attempts to alleviate Wikipedia's bias: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Xed/CROSSBOW

[ Parent ]
dear wikipedia detractors (2.50 / 8) (#93)
by circletimessquare on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 12:05:32 PM EST

you seem to suffer from some bias

1. a contentious issue is a contentious issue is a contentious issue

a. it is not wikipedia's responsiblity to present the issue contention free.

b. no one expects to find in wikipedia some sort of contention free take an issue that is inherently contentious. you are not going to find ANYWHERE a completely dispassionate take on abortion or gun control and no one expects to, except, apparently, yourself, wikipedia's detractor.

c. any traditional encyclopedia is not superior in their take on the contentious issue, so then the question simply is: why do you trust a central authority rather than a democratic process?

#2: wikipedia is the future. it is one of those wonderful things the internet has given us, and that is worth celebrating and finding excitement in- for me and others at least.

and no, you don't have to think wikipedia is a good thing, even if i think it is good thing. but i say to you that for every reason you can say that wikipedia is a bad thing, i can simply respond that your detraction says less about wikipedia, and more about yourself: you don't trust the future. when you attack wikipedia, wikipedia seems to be less the issue than your own low level of trust in the future.

no one said it was simple, no one said it was easy, no one said it was effortless. wikipedia has problems.

but it's also better than anything that has come before: a completely democratic assembly of knowledge. wow!

so you go on with your bad selves and you go ahead and poopoo that.

but don't think your detractions of wikipedia impress anyone of anything except for that you reveal yourself to be a suspicious distrustful luddite, in fear of the future.

and, simply stated, the future will not belong to people like you. you've married yourself to the past. so goodbye, enjoy your place in history. those of us with our eyes on the future have some work to do, so move the fuck aside.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Troll perspective: (2.00 / 3) (#110)
by Whimsy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:23:43 PM EST

Trolls do of course agree that "a contentious issue is a contentious issue is a contentious issue".  Most of these disputes involve not just disagreements of personality or perspective, but matters that, in the real world, people physically fight over. Politics defines what people care about enough to fight about, and as they start to care more what is said at Wikipedia, they will grow more adamant about it.

Wikipedia has explicitly refused to work out any policy, process or mechanism to deal with such political disputes: instead its "NPOV" ideology lumps all sort of issues together into the vague term "Neutrality dispute".

Trolls propose that any supposedly contention free take an issue that is inherently contentious, even/especially wikipedia's "Neutral Point Of View", is nothing but God's Eye View in disguise. In other words, it appears that the Wikipedia sysop power structure, the central authority or "master of truth and justice" which enforces "Neutral Point Of View", have reserved to themselves the right to to resolve or even redefine any political dispute in the real world and decide who is right for Wikipedia's purposes.  This does not look like a very democratic process either. Trolls have proposed a more democratic model which would be based on a faction system modelled on political parties and representative democracy:  an edit would stand or fall based on the willingness of some substantial user faction to support it.

To think that "Wikipedia is the future" is of course naive.  Most trolls would say that the future lies in a truly unified, distributed GFDL Corpus with a set of editing and forking and reintegration rules (to ease attribution management and GFDL compliance in general) managed by an ethical organization such as GNU or Creative Commons.  As for Wikipedia, it will have been destroyed or made irrelevant by its own stupid self-worshipping ideology.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation, with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts.

Whoa! Free peanuts!


[ Parent ]
you are so stupid (2.00 / 3) (#113)
by circletimessquare on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:34:13 PM EST

you assume that wikipedia should or even could have a solution to such contentious issues

you complain they have this standoffish neutral attitude

cluetrain for you: the solution to a contentious issue is derived from the real world, where all the glorious ugly trollish behavior you allude to is exactly the kind of behavior being used to "solve" the contentious issue in the real world- not just wikipedia, not just elsewhere in the internet... EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING EVERYWHERE IN THE REAL WORLD

THERE IS NO MAGIC ZONE IN CYBERSPACE OR THE REAL WORLD THAT IS SAFE FORM THE CONTENTION INHERENT IN THESE ISSUES, NOR WILL THERE EVER BE

why do you hold wikipedia to an impossibly higher standard than you hold everyone else? why do you expect wikipedia to have answers no one has?

wikipedia's neutral attitude is simply one of: "we're not going to get involved, we don't want to sink the ship called wikipedia by taking a stand on these issues"

smart stand if you ask me!

but you somehow expect wikipedia to have a neat pat cut and dry solution to issues like abortion and gun control, that no one can supply in the real world, that no one can supply anywhere!

wikipedia is a war zone on theese issues BECAUSE THE WORLD IS A WAR ZONE ON THESE ISSUES

capisce?

do you fucking get it?

anyone home?

wake the fuck up!

wikipedia IS NOT THE FUCKING ANSWER TO THESE ISSUES, WHICH IS WHAT YOUR POV EXPECTS THEM TO BE

YOU APPARENTLY HAVE NOT THOUGHT OUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR OWN RIDICULOUS POV


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

heated agreement? (3.00 / 2) (#130)
by Whimsy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:36:13 PM EST

I think we are in heated agreement here.

Your description of the sysop position as "standoffish" suggests you are unfamiliar with Wikipedia's long history of dealing very badly with political disputes.  Basically, when confronted with real political issues, the typical sysop starts throwing labels around like "trolling" and "vandalism", decides to challenge certain claims and not others, and often is simply expressing biases based on his or her own positions.

Absolutely no troll we know of has ever claimed that our faction proposal will solve all the world's problems. It is a technological stopgap: it tries to deal with those contentious issues where people violently disagree, and will do violence against each other if not channeled into due process that respects real-world factions, as such.

But trolls do not expect Wikipedia (or anyone else) to solve every dispute in the world.  If you seek harmony, you are best to abandon politics, software and the Internet, and be a better gardener.

Whoa! Free peanuts!


[ Parent ]
well said (none / 1) (#134)
by circletimessquare on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:56:11 PM EST

except i don't think you can channel antisocial activity into anything


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
You seem to channel it into K5 (none / 1) (#145)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 06:41:36 PM EST

Quite well.

Sorry, I usually don't respond to you anymore but I couldn't let that one go. HAND.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

ah, once they bite, they always bite ;-P (nt) (none / 1) (#159)
by circletimessquare on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:09:35 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Stupid Question... (3.00 / 3) (#161)
by Yori on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 02:28:24 AM EST

If the stated goal of the project is to accumulate something approaching the whole of human knowledge, which obviously would include "contentious issues", why aren't the completely real, "factionalized" points of view on these issues considered valid human knowledge, when a completely imaginary "neutral" point of view on these issues is? kekeke ^____^;;

[ Parent ]
Wiki Jerks (1.50 / 4) (#114)
by levsen on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:46:11 PM EST

I tried to correct a Wikipedia article once. It's in the German Wikipedia and they are trying to claim that the translation of "command line" is "Kommandozeile", which in reality means "commando line". I don't know about you but in my vocabulary "command" and "commando" mean different things. After correcting it, it only took a coupl'a hours before the Wiki-Nazis hat changed it back to the commando version.

Thanks to them I now have images of Bruce Willis with a buncha guys in the jungle in my mind everytime I use the command line.

This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

You're wrong (3.00 / 5) (#117)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:06:04 PM EST

You're wrong, Wikipedia is right. "Kommando" is the proper German translation of both "command" and "commando", and "Kommandozeile" is the correct translation of "command line".

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't use Kommando (none / 1) (#150)
by scruffyMark on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 07:55:24 PM EST

Personally I'd tend to use Befehl. Certainly, Kommando translates to command (or commando), but for me it still has a certain implication of being a command in the military domain.

That said, I've never had to discuss commandlines in German, so I'm just relying on intuition here...

[ Parent ]

"Befehlszeile" (none / 1) (#153)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:28:04 PM EST

Yup, "Befehlszeile" is also used in German for command line; it seems to be a lot rarer than "Kommandozeile" though.

[ Parent ]
point of view (1.33 / 3) (#164)
by ant0n on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 04:36:13 AM EST

it seems to be a lot rarer than "Kommandozeile" though

This is only because you seem to use / hear Kommandozeile more often than Befehlszeile. I don't know if you are pro or contra wikipedia, it doesn't matter anyway, but this is a typical example of bias and point-of-view: "I hear Kommandozeile more often than Befehlszeile, so it's Kommandozeile": This was probably what the wikipedia jerk thought when he was writing that entry. There is absolutely no evidence that Kommandozeile is used more often than Befehlszeile. To find out which one is more common, we had to take a corpus of the german language and check the probabilty of Kommandozeile versus Befehlszeile. This is what I mean be research. If a contributor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica had to write an entry for "command line" (which never will happen, because this is a subject too unimportant to be included in an encyclopedia), and if he wanted to include the fact which german translation of command line is used more often in german, then he would do exactly that: check a corpus. The wikipedians are far too stupid to understand that.


-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Do the google test (3.00 / 2) (#168)
by tjansen on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 08:55:15 AM EST

Do the Google test. 'Kommandozeile' wins with 66000:30000.

[ Parent ]
Befehl vs. Kommando (none / 0) (#205)
by fbjon on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 08:24:08 PM EST

I haven't discussed German commandlines either (no-one here has, apparently), but if the Swedish words are equivalent to the German ones, then Befehl would be a person who commands, not the command itself. As a side not for English-speakers: Swedish (scandinavian) and German are closely related, much closer than Enlish.

[ Parent ]
Bruce Willis? (none / 1) (#123)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 03:59:34 PM EST

I don't know about you, but my copy of Commando stars das Governator.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
idiom (none / 1) (#179)
by Matt Oneiros on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 09:50:34 PM EST

Idiom: it's a strange and wonderful thing, and unless you've got enough direct experience discussing CLI's with Germans, in German it'd seem a tad presumptive to go and impose your own notion of an entire nations language on them.

To then to call them Nazis for making a correction which was likely correct... well.

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real
[ Parent ]

Command, commando (none / 0) (#186)
by gruk on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 09:33:08 AM EST

The Swedish word for "command" is 'kommando'. The Swedish word for "commando" is 'kommando'. That word is also slang for not wearing briefs under one's trousers. I would be utterly unsurprised if at least teh two first are true in German.

[ Parent ]
notes and corrections: (1.28 / 7) (#129)
by the ghost of rmg on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 04:31:50 PM EST


  • the occumulation of all human knowledge so that everyone can find and use it is not a noble pursuit. knowledge is probably the worst thing you could give to most people (except perhaps explosives or poison).


  • your comment about the worthlessness of people without degrees is surprisingly incisive in context (i.e. on kuro5hin.org). it would have been better had you worked in an account of how capitalistic commoditization of man is the root of this particular valuation, but i can only expect so much in this forum.


  • quoting rusty as an authority (or even as having a relevant opinion) on any matter strains your credibility and would best be elided. i suppose rusty could make himself useful by fixing this particular misstep.


  • you claim wikipedia is good. ("so good," in fact!) i would like to see this qualified somehow, since as it stands, i cannot think of a definition of "good" by which wikipedia is worthy of such an appellation. -- in fact, that's not quite so. using aristotle's rather defetist definition, i could believe that wikipedia is that toward which wikipedia aims.



rmg: comments better than yours.
Uhh (none / 0) (#155)
by pHatidic on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 09:42:49 PM EST

I didn't quote Rusty because he was Rusty. I quoted Rusty because the quote was really good. Had it been anyone else I would have quoted them. If you read through my diaries on Wikipedia that I drew from to make this story you can see all the other posts and it just happens that I consider what Rusty wrote to very insightful and eloquent.

[ Parent ]
My Father-in-Law's story... (3.00 / 8) (#138)
by marcmengel on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 05:35:44 PM EST

My father-in-law is a political science professor, and years ago, after working for the Foreign Service as a China expert, he got asked to do a writeup about China, and one of the pieces of data (I forget which) they asked him to include was unknown at the time outside of the Chinese government. So he made it up. Probably a good estimate, but really, fiction.

Every semester, he has his students research the question of this particular tidbit of information. Different students find reports in different sources, all different. Invariably some of them find the encyclopedia article with his name on it, and turn it in as the "right" answer. He then explains that he made it up, as probably did the authors of the other articles, hence the disagreement.

What's the point of all this rambling? Several, actually:

  • "Real" encyclopedias by "real" experts have essentially fictional stuff in them.
  • There are bits of information that are known somwhere but aren't known by the encyclopedia writers.
So I don't see why Wikipedia can't do as well as some of these others. Of course it suggests to me that they ought to maintain several versions of the various articles, and folks could see where the various authors differed...

So what was the fact? (none / 0) (#167)
by jrincayc on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 08:52:01 AM EST

So, what was the fact that was made up?

[ Parent ]
They have a nice diff feature. (3.00 / 2) (#177)
by cburke on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 07:36:28 PM EST

I don't think having multiple articles is the best idea.  The goal is to have a single article that is as factual and correct as possible.  If there are multiple conflicting viewpoints on some issue the article should present them.

On of the things that makes Wikis and Wikipedia cool is that it has version control.  So you can easily compare the current version of the article with an old one to see what has been changed over time.  This was, for example, how changes made to the IBM Selectric Wiki entry were detected (in the malstrom over the fake CBS memos, if you don't know).

That by itself raises my opinion of Wiki over pretty much any static encyclopedia.  Where else could you see what has been added or excised?  Wouldn't you like to know how your Britanica has changed as various editors touched it?

[ Parent ]

NLP books (3.00 / 2) (#140)
by krkrbt on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 05:52:10 PM EST

Frogs into Princes by Bandler and Grinder: The story about the mentally ill boy comes from this text which is considered the definitive book on Neuro Linguistic Programming.

eh?  That's an old one - a classic, sure, but not exactly an introductory text.  Books by Steve Andreas (Heart of the Mind, Core Transformations, NLP: The New Technology of Achievement, etc) are probably better for people just getting started with NLP...


Sounds like a Fredric Brown story... (none / 1) (#152)
by Pig Hogger on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 08:10:40 PM EST

The hypnotist, through mere power of suggestion, had cured the boy. When the parents asked the doctors in the white coats, who had been to medical school, how this change came about they simply said that the boy was only pretending to be cured. Which raises the fundamental question, what if the boy is only pretending but continues pretending for the rest of his life? Is that or isn't it the same as being cured?
This is reminiscent of a Fredric Brown story (whose title eludes me):

Polygraph lie-detectors have been so much perfected that they are now used in criminal trials to determine guilt. But, after a while, big mob bosses seem to have found a way of cheating the lie-detectors.

A reporter investigates, and discovers a doctor who make the criminals forget their crimes. Having forgotten them, they can honestly say they didn't do it, and the lie-detector cannot do anything but say they didn't do it...

But it also turns-out that the doctor, by erasing memories of crimes, turn the criminals into honest citizens: not one of the mob bosses ever returns to criminal behaviour afterwards...
--

Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing it's idiot

I'm amazed (3.00 / 6) (#157)
by actmodern on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:26:11 PM EST

Based on some of the comments below attacking the Wiki, I'm again amazed at how people react angrily toward a free resource setup by volunteers. If you think the Wikipedia is written by insane, obsessed nerds then browse the entire web MINUS the Wikipedia.

Personally I haven't used it much, and if I do I'll use it like I would any resource on the net. I won't believe every damn thing written there.


--
LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.

You shouldn't be (3.00 / 5) (#162)
by ewe2 on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 02:36:30 AM EST

There are several good reasons why many attack Wikipedia:

  • It's an authority. Some people will always hate this no matter what the arguments. It's a particular problem for control freaks who get furious at things they could have controlled themselves. A collection of facts has to start with someone somewhere. If the idea is important enough, it will be controlled by the dominant forces of culture (ie the successful control freaks :))
  • It's biased. Because People Are Human(tm). Bias comes in many forms, and is always present. This is no different to dead tree encyclopedias. Compare an American dead tree encyclopedia to a European one, for example. Or any encyclopedia not written for an English-speaking audience. And so on. History was written by the victors, but rarely admitted to in public.
  • It's run by amateurs. There's an inherent criticism in that sentence already, because expertism is endemic to Western culture. But it could be argued that it's highly unusual expert behaviour to cooperatively pool their knowledge in this way, so in that sense it's a dead argument, it doesn't matter either way. The other sense (ie vs professional) has almost become synonymous with the first (only real experts get paid), but just as silly. Look at the open source movement.
  • It covers inappropriate material. What's the point in censoring an encyclopedia? But as with many of these arguments, there isn't a majority anyone can point to that settles any such argument. Unless the dominant control freaks step in and shut us all up.

It is impossible to write anything without revealing something about one's POV, even on the driest subjects imaginable. The most valuable lesson Wikipedia teaches us is just how much what we take for concrete fact really is up for grabs and always has been. Facts are more of a choice than you realize. Enjoy the choice while you can.

--
I may not be cute, but I'm intelligent. So I'm an ugly smartass. Yay me.


[ Parent ]
I quite like WP (2.60 / 5) (#180)
by GenerationY on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 10:41:53 PM EST

although the politics of it put me off any involvement. That said:

Not to say it is perfect, it isn't, but the vast majority of the articles are well written and many are comparable or better than their encyclopedia Britannica equivalents.

No. I'm sorry, I don't think that is true or fair.
There is no need to attack the Encyclopaedia Brittanica just to "big up" the Wikipaedia. Better to accept its just something a bit different and if people don't like it, they don't have to contribute or use it.

Wikipaedia doesn't have the calibre of contributors the Brittanica does. It simply can't. Fellows of The Royal Society don't tend to lark around arguing with people on the internet. Nobel Prize Winners aren't really known for enjoying bickering with rude 15 year olds from Wyoming over their life's work.

Does Wiki have people like Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, James Mill, A.C. Swinburne, Prince Pyotr Kropotkin etc. writing for it? Thats the standard.

And remember, its not merely the contributors that is important, its the calibre of the reviewers and the editors. Wikipaedians don't seem to appreciate this fact: in academic/factual publishing, the calibre, skill and knowledge of the reviewers is far more important than the calibre of the writer. WP has a lot to say about what happens when a bad contribution is added, it has rather less to say about what happens upon poor reviewing (as far as I can tell its trial by combat that decides the outcome rather than anything more reasoned). There is definite imbalance.

We can mess around saying that you have no way of knowing anything is true and decrying "professionalism" as a vice, but in the end a reasonable person has to accept that Brittanica, on the entries it chooses to cover, is always going to have a great weight of authority, accuracy and reliability on its side.

I think WP is occasionally great, and in general not bad. It is not "better" than Brittanica however by any objective measure other than it covers some issues Brittanica doesn't. Fair enough.

And one more thing (2.50 / 2) (#182)
by GenerationY on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 11:20:15 PM EST

In view of what I have already said, it should be evident that this is (to use an Englishism) complete bollocks:

It is generally accepted that those fighting for what they love will always fight better than mercenaries. Perhaps it is only natural for those writing articles on subjects they are passionate about to do a better job than those paid by professional encyclopedias to write their articles for them.

Yes, I'm sure Freud didn't give a flying fuck about psychoanalysis and Marie Curie didn't give two hoots for science unless there was money on the table. And of course, they couldn't be expected to do a decent job anyway compared to the random internet user could they? Hmm.

Today, take a look in Brittanica and check who these people are. They aren't merely "paid experts", they are usually of the top echelon with a lifetime's investment in their subject. FRSs abound in the science sections, and arts coverage is often from the Chairs of learned societies. An entry in an Encyclopaeda is counted as a publication for an academic; its not something trivial or done for the cash. It is part of their body of work.

How you can casually suggest such people are not passionate about their subject and cannot be necessarily expected to come up with the goods (esp. compared to a random wikipaedian) is beyond me.

Trying too hard to push WP is going to have an effect opposite to what you probably desire.

[ Parent ]

Good Points (none / 1) (#187)
by pHatidic on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 09:43:48 AM EST

My only issue is with the list of people you presented. Most of the theories by Freud, Einstein, and Malthus have been disproven and some of the research by the above borders on outright fraud. Because of this I think it will always be better to have a mix of high level contributors rather than having articles by single author who is popular with the public at the time in order to generate publicity and sell more encyclopedias.

[ Parent ]
They were contributors (none / 0) (#189)
by GenerationY on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 11:18:12 AM EST

to previous editions (esp. the famous 1911 edition) and didn't necessarily write about their own work (I know Swinburne reviewed Keats for example). They weren't quite so famous when contributing I think; I was just trying to point out that they don't just ask anyone to do it, they tend to go to the top of pile.

[ Parent ]
Of course (1.50 / 2) (#198)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 05:02:49 PM EST

Wikipedia contains most of the 1911 edition, due to its public domain status.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
An actual test, please. (3.00 / 2) (#185)
by gyan on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 05:30:59 AM EST

Instead of ineffectual bickering over whether Wikipedia articles are of equal calibre as regular 'trustworthy' encyclopedias, let someone/some group conduct a comprehensive sample audit.

Pick the ten most visited articles at Wikipedia over the last 3 months. Pick the ten most visited articles of all time. And at random, pick 10 other articles of medium traffic, and 10 of low traffic.

Take a snapshot of these articles. Pick 2 or 3 'trusted' sources. Compare between these 3-4 sources for points of disparity and comprehensivess. Then, check whether each article is, in of itself, accurate, by comparing against independent sources.

Figure out some quantitative metric to apply to all the data accumulated. Publish the conclusions. Let's leave out the anecdotes as the basis for generalizations.

********************************

Why? (n/t) (none / 0) (#204)
by p3d0 on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 05:59:56 PM EST


--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Well.. (3.00 / 2) (#207)
by gyan on Sat Sep 25, 2004 at 12:09:15 AM EST

 A positive result enhances Wikipedia's reputation on a sound basis. A negative result reveals to Wikipedians the nature of how the project lags and what & how to improve.

********************************

[ Parent ]
The Encyclopedia Britannica (1.00 / 3) (#202)
by phred on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 10:58:00 AM EST

has zero writups on the GNAA.

ZERO!

You can come to your own conclusions now.

Wow! (What the fuck is the GNAA?) nt (none / 0) (#212)
by toychicken on Tue Sep 28, 2004 at 06:26:16 AM EST


- - - - - - -8<- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Just how many is a Brazillian anyway?


[ Parent ]
Pricks who make /. even worse [nt] (none / 0) (#216)
by jeremyn on Tue Oct 05, 2004 at 02:27:38 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Reaching the mainstream (3.00 / 3) (#203)
by bigbigbison on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 11:09:56 AM EST

I am curious to see what happens to wikipedia in a few years.  Currently, I am betting that most people that find things on it aren't really aware that they can change the content.  I mean last year I was teaching my class of college freshmen to be sceptical when they come across a web site because anyone can put up a web site and one student said, "You can?"  If the idea that anyone can have a web site is new to them, just imagine what they will do when they realize that they can change a well known web site.  I have a feeling that it could be really wonderfull, but I fear that it could also result in a huge influx of people posting things they think are "funny."  

As long as the average user doesn't realize they have the power, then only those who are knowlegable about a subject will actively participate, but when a bunch of 12 year olds realize they can create havoc, the number of people screwing around will only increase.  I know people do that now, but how well will the system cope when pranksters outnumber the commited people?

Wikipedia can cope with vandals (none / 1) (#215)
by poyoyo on Sat Oct 02, 2004 at 12:49:25 PM EST

Fortunately, Wikipedia has several mechanisms in place to prevent casual vandals like the ones you're describing. Currently at any time there are usually 5-10 dedicated Wikipedians (a number that will only increase) constantly scanning the Recent Changes page for suspicious edits. Most vandals leave telltale traces: they don't have a username (nearly all username-less edits are heavily scrutinized), and they edit articles like "Penis" or "George W. Bush".

These people are reverted within seconds. Moreover, once a vandal has caught the attention of editors, all of his other edits will be carefully examined. There's a big imbalance in power and motivation here: vandals usually take at least 10-20 seconds to vandalize a page, but are reverted in a second. They are instantly crushed and don't get to appreciate the results of their vandalism. Most of them give up after 4-5 edits. When there's a more persistent one, he's put up on Wikipedia:Vandalism in Progress and his IP address is blocked by an administrator. In fact, vandals already outnumber committed volunteers but because of this imbalance it only takes a few people to keep all of them in check.

Somewhat more threatening are more intelligent and malicious vandals, who will try to sneak in false data into articles without being noticed. However, these people are easier to detect than you'd think. Most of them do things like change the freezing temperature of helium or add a new element to the periodic table. But this is obviously suspicious to an experienced Wikipedian. When you think about it, it's really quite difficult to concoct a fake "fact" that wouldn't attract scrunity. And if a submarine vandal wants to do any serious damage to Wikipedia, they need to concoct 20 such fake facts and modify 20 articles --- and all it takes is a single one of these edits to attract suspicion and their user history will be examined and all their vandalism quickly reverted. Most people who are intelligent enough to concoct plausible fictional facts work towards improving Wikipedia, not destroying it.

[ Parent ]

Why I Edited a Wikipedia Article (3.00 / 6) (#209)
by LuYu on Sat Sep 25, 2004 at 11:10:58 AM EST

I do not know why other people do such things, but I can certainly give my reasons for it. Here is the story:

One day I got into a discussion about the introduction of the 7 day week into China with a friend or on a news site (I cannot remember which), and I found that not only did I not know, but that the Wikipedia article was also wrong.

I checked all of the books I had about those sorts of subjects, and came up with nothing. On book on time measure in China had every time period from seconds to the 60 year cycle, but skipped over week. I do not think China scholars considered the week to be significant for some reason. In any case, a Google search turned up nothing either. Finally, I started using Google in Chinese, and I found the answer.

As it turns out, this answer did not exist in any English text that I could find, and I am certain that the information I got was better than what was available in Britannica. I translated what I found when I was finally satisfied that it seemed reasonably accurate

So, there I was. I had searched for this answer that I had to know in order to answer someone's question. I had spent the time. I was never going to get paid for it. On top of this, I was irritated at the inaccuracy of the then current Wikipedia entry, and I saw no reason that anyone should have to go through all that work again. Putting it up on Wikipedia had the added bonus that I could check it later if I forgot the details of what I had discovered.

In the end, I really do not understand why anyone would not do this. It is not like it is any more difficult than posting to Kuro5in or Slashdot. If I have already spent the time finding an answer, why not put it somewhere where other people can be saved the effort.

I think most people get into at least one discussion a week where they have to look something up. Why keep that effort to yourself? You have already spent the time and effort. It is over. Share it with the rest of us.



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"I will believe you are not an animal when you do not eat, sleep, urinate, or defecate for one month."

The Little Website that Couldn't | 216 comments (194 topical, 22 editorial, 2 hidden)
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