I am a new Wiki enthusiast from Poznan in Poland (Wiki was recommended to me in early August 2001). My main interest are learning theories. I did not have much time to build much of it but hope to contribute more in the future. I like to do Random Page jumps and contribute a little here and a little there, esp. to short articles where I know I do not mess up the structure.
witam nastepnego rodaka w naszym skromnym projekcie:-) -- WojPob
Zaczynamy polska Wikipedie ???
Dear Friends, Nice to meet you all. Actually, I have an obsession for English and international communication. Wikipedia is a great concept and I die to know how it will keep growing. For this reason, I would rather put 100% of microscopic time resources I could contribute into the English version. Yet, I will forward the idea to those who, today, cannot contribute due to language barrier. Today, I have some worries about the future of Wikipedia (just as a 2 day old user). It is all based on trust in goodness of human nature. If bad guys come and want to put a spanner in the works, the whole concept can be endangered. Secondly, with Random Page I found lots of pseudoscience articles that I doubt any good natured contributor would dare to touch or let alone delete, yet this may distort the nature of the material keeping Britannica immortal due to its reliability. Last but not least, I was sadenned to note that a user deleted part of my contribution to Tim Berners-Lee article calling it "copyrighted" (it was actually taken from my own article on the web which I consider Public Domain). This made me feel "unwanted". This could give preference to some more pushy personality types in the contributors circle. Time will tell. p.s. In reference to my obsession with global understandability, I will take the liberty to translate your comments above to English in case anyone else venture here: I am from Poland and two nice users from Poland dropped in welcoming messages in our native language. One was a call to set up Polish Wikipedia :) Many thanks for a warm welcome -- Piotr Wozniak
Unfortunately, having contributed some 50 articles, I will have to give it up. I noticed that some of my texts disappear without trace (i.e. it is not even possible to restore them). Some get distorted by not always competent editing (even though it is a great pleasure to slap in a rough formula and see someone format it nicely). This drives an endless circle of change that would require some watch-dog attitude. In conclusion, it is a fascinating project which I will keep on watching and recommending to others and linking too. My only problem is that it does not seem like a good investment of time on the contributor side. I love to contribute but if my contribution is not lasting I have second thoughts -- Piotr Wozniak
Glad to be of help. :-) -- Janet Davis
Which articles were they? I think most people here are reasonable enough and will admit if they've made an error. I'm sorry not to assure you, but I think some watching of "pet" articles is in order, since the nature of a wiki is that anyone can change anything--I, for instance, could go make reckless changes to quantum mechanics--and any changes I made to it would be reckless, since I know absolutely nothing about it. But I think it's also part of human nature to want to learn and listen, and hence to be modest. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding? --KQ
- There were several phantom texts. I did not collect specific evidence of "black hole disappearances", but it was happening all too often. The best case I recall is/are some statements related to "superoxide dismutase" in "free radical" as well as "aging and cancer" in the same entry. I could not track why and by who these were removed, nor was it recoverable from "previous versions". Nevertheless the problem is of more general nature. Even if software is bugless, endless corrections are not good for article writing. I will bookmark Wikipedia and keep on watching how good a source of reference it is. If I see a gap, I will fill in, but I will not go on major article writing. This attitude may be time efficient to materialize some contribution, but it won't produce much good matrial for WP. This seems to be a systemic problem (unless with time I figure out other strategies and remain a more tangible contributor). There must be an algorithmic enhancement that would solve it: locking articles is not a bad
idea as long as others can produce alternatives and the public then votes for their choice. Mass reediting and rewriting of major coherent works is not a good idea. It is easier to collectively assemble a bicycle than a safe-flight Concorde - and WP wants to beat Britannica (i.e. no less than a Concorde of content). -- Piotr Wozniak
- Your remarks are very important. I agree with some parts of your comment.
- The problem is that it seems that there is no intention for Wikipedia to be a
- serious project in the first place. I have a feeling that it is meant to be a
- a fun project only and a Nupedia workhorse.
- It you are concerned with stability of your contribution you can :
- join nupedia
- start a new project - usemod wiki is GPL'd and all of the Wikipedia texts are based on GNU Free Documentation Licence
- join nupedia
- Some other wikis have stricter rules and mechanisms for contributing material to them. Maybe a completely different content management system would be a
- better solution.Share your thoughts with the rest of the Wikipedia community. --Kpjas
Thank you for clarification. I will keep on studying related subjects. As for solutions, I have voiced three here and there: PageRank system, public voting, and "article lock". Say a creationist and an evolutionist write their entries on Ernst Haeckel and they are both available with their rank. In a distant future, some smart brain will certainly propose a system where your navigation discloses your preferences and affects the YOUR relative PageRank of a given page. This way, as a science maniac, I automatically get the text from the scientific point of view instead of being tempted to "edit this page right now" each time I see a creationist bias :) -- Piotr Wozniak
Piotr: I am sorry to hear that some of your articles have been removed. Often, when someone comes across a lengthy, well-written article, a Google search will be run to check for possible copyright violation. I guess some people were too zealous.
I just dropped by because you said on Creationist/Talk that you didn't know how to do a redirect. Its a very important skill here. :) Simply type, all by itself in the editing form:
- #REDIRECT [[name of page you wish to redirect to]]
(no square brackets, replace spaces with underscores)
- #REDIRECT Creationism
Hope this helps! -- STG
Shame on me! My laziness leads to other cover up for me! I have seen the redirect method somewhere but did not make the minimum mental effort to register in long-term memory :) -- the NOWIKI trick is also new. Live and learn -- Piotr Wozniak
To Tim Chambers, continuation of a debate initiated at Recapitulation Law: Tim. For me to ever be swung away from evolution, I would have to do 30 years of un-learning. This is probably impossible within my lifetime (assuming science got it all wrong -- which naturally is even less likely). My family is Roman Catholic and I was "forced" to religious education from the cradle. At age of 10, I chanced upon a book on evolution. My priest was not very helpful at clearing out my doubts. Worse, he discredited his authority by feeding me with facts that were verifiably false. Science books appeared by far more coherent. Soon, I declared I will not attend religious education any more. Surprisingly, without much fuss it was accepted in the family and hence I became a politely tolerated outcast and crank (97% of the Poles declare themselves as Roman Catholic). In 1980, I started studying biology. I also met a nice girl who happened to be a Jevhova witness. She pulled me into their religious meetings with regular creationist debates. I would sweat with all my best knowledge of biology to "educate" but we were going in endless circles of ignorance and misunderstanding. I would even make some of these people angry in the end with my smart-aleck attitide. When my relationship with the girl ended, so did my debates. Later on, I was an exception in that I would not slam my door in the face of Jevhova witnesses coming in for a "talk" (my polite mother on such occasions was not polite at all -- just a slam). This added many more hours of discussion. Fruitless! After some years I gotta make a time-saving decision: no more creationist debates! Science has its answers and I will stick to these unless I find evidence to the contrary. My guess is you are on the other side of the fence in the debate, and swinging you back would also take lots of unlearning! I am sure you belive the world with God is a better world, and that this inevitably introduces some bias in your search for the truth. Interestingly, reading your material I tentatively conclude that you could be the most challenging debater I have found by now. I wonder how my no-debate no-hope attitude bears on prospects for unlearning-relearning in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is a ray of hope though: they do not have to convince each other. It is enough they follow game theory and agree on an unbiased arbitrator and put the future of the nations in its/his/her hands. Whatever the religious/history cost. Who believes in this? -- Piotr Wozniak
I am right there with you on the article changing-disappearing problem. For me, writing is hard work, and it doesn't matter whether I am writing a letter to my Mom, an article for Wikipedia, a conference paper, or something to get peer-reviewed for an archival journal. It's all time-consuming and hard. So after seeing a few things that I *do* happen to know something about get hatcheted, I just prefer to lurk when I can. Better to save my strength for reviewers, those ignorant charlatans! (<-- this is a joke for the humor-impaired... formal review has improved every paper I have had published.) In other words, it's not the editing here, it's my lack of confidence in the competence of the editing. But, I do still sometimes contribute. But nothing from the heart, nothing equivocal, and nothing that I really about too much if it gets deleted.
About endless re-wiki-writing see: Education_reform/Talk -- Piotr Wozniak
Seeing this wonderfully learned and intelligent guy about has inspired me to write the bio for another Wozniak: Steve Wozniak, who may or may not have been learned but was definitely also quite intelligent. The link is currently dead because I haven't actually written the article. That will happen in good time if I remember too.
Also, I wholeheartedly agree with you about the rampant editing. Open source is good, but dicks abound in this world. If Wikipedia ever does become very, very popular, they will surely set about deleting things. I'd hate to see a 5000 word article be replaced by "Dan loves Sarah" or "Free Kevin Mitchell". I suggest first: automatically adding a /Talk section to all articles, to lodge constructive or destructive criticism. These talk pages should definitly show up on recent changes, but probably not on searches for the subject about which they are talking, as their existence would be implied. Secondly: Maybe Larry Sanger should select some responsible, educated, impartial, experienced, etc., etc. contributors to be moderators, who could decide disagreements that aren't so easily resolved. I'm sure many would be willing volunteers. I'd be happy to if I were only educated, responsible, impartial, or experienced.
While I might not have the character to be a moderator, I could write a conflict submission page in html that would be more practical than making one big Conflict Moderation Wiki page.
Dear Sam. I just happened to have my own text on Steve Wozniak ready. I hope you do not mind me pre-empting your idea :) -- Piotr Wozniak
Wow. I did not expect that to happen at all. But I don't mind in the least, and it's a fine article.
Wikipedia in its present shape is a unique publishing medium. It will develop content uncomparable with Britannica, Nature journal, web, Library of Congress, and others. It will combine richness of the web with qualities of an encyclopedia. It will extend ecyclopedias by unheard-of material related to paranormal, pseudoscience, religion, computer games, unverified science theories, unheard of details of history, unheard of dictionary entries, words, quotes and proverbs. Unliked the web in general, all those valuable extensions will be subject to popular review that will sift away bias, charlatanery, crypto-promotion, advertising, etc. Wikipedia will provide a new quality that will enrich humanity. However, it does not mean Britannica is dead, and it does not mean that more people will search Wikipedia than Google. The main weakness of Wikipedia will be its reliability as a source reference. Britannica may be limited, but it is highly reputable. Goggle will produce dozens of misleading hits, but a trained eye can recognize the coherence of quality content. In Wikipedia, all facts and details are in a perennial flow and under a perennial question mark. You will ask: has this article been written by a knowledgeable person? Or was it a quickie, a typo, or a work of a malicious prankster. Today, a reputable researcher can write an article about Alzheimer's disease, tomorrow a dishonest visitor can insert a line on a cure-all wonder drug. Popular review might or might not sift it off. And there is a serious problem of retaining quality authors. The globe is richly populated with well-wishing minds ready to contribute at no pay at no implicit interest; just for the good feeling of the work well-done. However, the better the author, the greater the ego, the lower the degree of tolerance for edits on his own material. The main shortcoming of the peer-review process, is that it eliminates far out ideas. This is why so many reputable scientists publish their most original or bold ideas on the net instead of going through the pain of peer-review. In order not to perish, they publish the "boring stuff", and use the net as their medium of freedom. Only Nobel Prize winners and the like can experience some creative freedom as few dare oppose them. It is much easier to publish simple uncreative useless mainstream experimental findings than to propose a new breakthrough. Imagine Copernicus, Darwin, Wegener or even Einstein going through today's peer-review. At Wikipedia, this problem is magnified. Instead of peer review we have, what I call pop review. Now you do not need a bold idea to be razed down to the popular level. It is enough you swing just a bit from the popular average and you will be edited out. I experienced that with my well-wishing sleep and learning entry. I have a couple of favorite messages to all people I get in touch with. These are "quit smoking", "learn English", "exercise", "get on the Internet", etc. One of these is: "respect your sleep". I have studied sleep for years due to my professional involvement with memory and learning. From my standpoint it is clear, we could effect more positive social change by making people respect sleep than by making people quit smoking!!! However, once I put a note on sleep and learning, I was accused of being "cultish". I tried to explain. My external links were cut. I eplained in words. These were reedited again and again until the chief message was gone. I expanded further attracting more shelling from many corners (including the chief editor of Wikipedia). The main bone of contention was my inability to accept "Researchers do not know what is the function of sleep". Because they patently do know: the function of sleep is optimizing memory storage (see my own article: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/sleep.htm). Interestingly, when I contributed dozens of articles in areas I know little of, my role was painless. I write some stuff, someone reedits. I do not care. Conclusion: Wikipedia, in its present algorithmic shape, has an inherent weakness which will affect its quality. It encourages careless writing, and it encourages writing about things you know little of. It discourages people who care about their message. Without a reform in the way of collecting the material, Wikipedia will not make for a good source of reference. Naturally, it will still provide unique quality and unique value. I will come here several times per week over the nearest years. I have never seen Nupedia, perhaps this is a solution. Larry Sanger asked me in one of the articles: "provide hard evidence for your words". I seemingly chickened out. I explained (above) why I do not get involved in creationism-evolutionism debates. Here I explain why pop review makes arguing for memory consolidation in sleep at Wikipedia a poor investment of time too.
- As for Wiknesses of Wikipedia as a source of reference, does anyone know the ratio of people editing/writing articles and people actually reading them? The addictive power of Wikipedia is that it provides a creative outlet for many. But this power has nothing to do with popularity of Wikipedia as just an encyclopedia one wants to read for learning or for pleasure. Whatever the answer, Wikipedia is a great and inspiring idea. Future will tell -- Piotr Wozniak
Very, very interesting analysis, Piotr. I would like to reply to a few points, because I don't want to lose you as a worker here, and because it will help clarify some things for some other people new to Wikipedia. Also, I think you would be much more comfortable working on the [Nupedia Chalkboard. I do hope you'll look into that.
- The main weakness of Wikipedia will be its reliability as a source reference. Britannica may be limited, but it is highly reputable. Goggle will produce dozens of misleading hits, but a trained eye can recognize the coherence of quality content. In Wikipedia, all facts and details are in a perennial flow and under a perennial question mark. You will ask: has this article been written by a knowledgeable person? Or was it a quickie, a typo, or a work of a malicious prankster.
This is something we've known from the beginning, and indeed one might well regard it as a problem. I think that a partnership with Nupedia, or with some other more official peer review process, will be necessary. What you've got to realize Piotr, is that articles can be (temporarily) ruined but also instantly repaired. The longer you stay here, the more I think you'll appreciate the robustness of the process in eliminating error.
- However, the better the author, the greater the ego, the lower the degree of tolerance for edits on his own material. The main shortcoming of the peer-review process, is that it eliminates far out ideas.
We hope the better authors will work Nupedia; but that doesn't solve the problem for Wikipedia, I guess. What makes Wikipedia work is precisely than anyone can edit any article. That's what makes the concept seem ludicrous to some of Nupedia's peer reviewers. But it turns out that, happily enough, we have enough genuine experts on this and that at work here that, while most of our articles are still of a superficial quality, some of them comparable to work of, for example, Britannica. The point is that we don't need a truckload of experts on everything working all the time, as nice as that might be; we need, simply, a band of bright, articulate, generally-knowledgeable people filling out the outlines of knowledge, supplemented by the article supplied now and then by the bona fide expert--which latter articles quickly add up. Actually, most of the workers on Wikipedia are experts on something--they just don't always stick within the boundaries of their expertise (which is perfectly fine; but see below).
I disagree that "the better the author, the greater the ego." Some of the best, most expert authors are and have been proud of their work, but they could take and respond very rationally and effectively to criticism; in other words, they did not act like prima donnas. Granted, there sure are a lot of prima donnas in academia and research generally. But there are a lot of brilliant people who aren't that way at all. And, by the way, it's precisely those people who aren't, who are attracted to Wikipedia. Interesting and worth thinking about.
Finally in reply to the above, I totally disagree on your (simply uninformed) claim that Wikipedia "eliminates far-out ideas." If anything, due to our policy of writing from the NeutralPointOfView, Wikipedia provides the ideal medium for expounding, indeed at length, on the wackiest of ideas. One must simply scrupulously avoid presenting those ideas as the truth; one must correctly attribute them to someone (making it very clear who they're being attributed to), and one must not present them as if they were a mainstream view. For example, an account of Creationism could, on Wikipedia, go on for thousands of pages and hundreds of articles; but it would have to be made clear, in the appropriate places, exactly who is being said to believe the things being said, and who does not believe them (and why not). You will find many articles on far-out ideas here--but the far-out ideas are not advanced as such. And the far-out ideas that are simply idiosyncratic to the average Joe off the street might indeed be summarily deleted (by me :-) if no one else) simply because they are not relevant to the mission of an encyclopedia, which is to sum up "human knowledge," which the average Joe's opinions on thus-and-such do not constitute. For example, with the article about the purpose of sleep, I'd hope to see minority views acknowledged, and not be made to seem not to exist--as was the case with your original article.
- Wikipedia, in its present algorithmic shape, has an inherent weakness which will affect its quality. It encourages careless writing, and it encourages writing about things you know little of. It discourages people who care about their message. Without a reform in the way of collecting the material, Wikipedia will not make for a good source of reference.
This is simply and straightforwardly false, as you will see if you stick around a little longer. The simple, humble fact is that everything here can be edited, and is constantly being edited, constantly hammered into better shape. It doesn't encourage people to write about what they know nothing about--it permits them to do so. And in my experience, generally speaking (there are plenty of exceptions, but this is the general case), people either do not edit articles on subjects of which they're totally ignorant, or they make only small edits such as copyediting edits. It's remarkable that it works as well as it does.
One last comment:
- Here I explain why pop review makes arguing for memory consolidation in sleep at Wikipedia a poor investment of time too.
I'm not aware that you ever argued for memory consolidation in sleep. You just seemed to be handing down the scientifically-proven truth, which anyone would be silly to question. Having researched and written a very long paper on sleep myself, I recall that, ten years ago, there simply was not any such consensus as you implied there now is. Now, I could simply be wrong. Maybe I am. I certainly am nothing near to being the expert that you are. But I do know that experts sometimes like to present their own views as the only view worth taking seriously (happens all the time in philosophy), especially when speaking to a lot of other people who aren't experts. Just this is why I raised my questions. You could simply answer them and change the article accordingly, rather than complaining about the fact that I asked them. I really don't see why you don't just shame me into silence.
I hope you'll understand that in the future, I plan not to spend this much time explaining myself. I'm just going to expect you to understand the work/dialectical dynamic as I and I think most other Wikipedians understand it. --LMS
- most of your argument is convincing
- time will tell if you are right about reference value of Wikipedia -- I think the reference value will increase but ... after a forced algorithmic change -- I discussed it with a few people and we seem all to be in agreement
- the "far out idea elimination" referred to "peer review". In Wikipedia, it is more a case of luck. If someone gets stuck with the opposition, you will be flattened. Otherwise, you may indeed smuggle quite outlandish articles (if few care about your point)
- being a prima donna is not a precondition to being discouraged. Even if no mental factor plays a role, you may simply give up on the grounds of value per time
- the incentive mechanism which worked in my case was NOT to write about things I know nothing of, but about things I care little about (e.g. because I know little about). Imagine an important social change you would like to see, something obvious (e.g. less pollution), and someone driving into the middle of your article with "but ... pollution is decreasing and we no longer need to worry"
- you suggest "change your article instead of complaining". I gave up change because I have reservation about the system. As for complaints, I had only minor one: you gotta be and work to be the top authority here; my impression was that cutting down the messsage "sleep to learn well" was a wee hasty
- important! you will not see my trail over the coming weeks for the simple reason of vacation. But I will be back
Thank you for devoting so much of your attention to this case -- Piotr Wozniak
Piotr, the article on abortion shows that a arguable topic can produce a good result, if intelligent people can stick to facts, and argue on the abortion/talk page. Keep writing, I watch for your articles. -- Mike Dill