Citizendium

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Citizendium

Kim van der Linde
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen wrote:

> Assuming that good content (if any) in sangers project will be added
> to wikipedia, why would potential editors prefer to edit these
 > articles that are copied back to wikipedia too on sangers project,
 > rather than on wikipedia? There has to be some added value to editing
 > on sangers project, rather than on wikipedia, for his project to
 > flourish. What is it? I genuinely want to know.

As an expert who has left Wikipedia more or less, I can give you an answer:
1. I would write there for Citizendium, not for Wikipedia.
2. Content from there included in Wikipedia will deteriorate at
Wikipedia over time, there is will remain sound.
3. Content there, if the right editing paradigm is chosen, will continue
to improve, which would either require Wikipedia to repeatedly insert
the newest version, of basically fall behind.

Your response is based on the premise that Wikipedia will keep the lead,
and that forks are just to feed stuff to Wikipedia. Maybe, but my
prediction will be that some smarter hybrid between general community
involvement and experts guarding quality will in the end replace
Wikipedia. It is just a matter of time. Whether Citizendium will be that
alternative, I do not yet know. What I do know is that experts have in
general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
is not going to change.

Kim
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Re: Citizendium

George William Herbert
On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> What I do know is that experts have in
> general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
> is not going to change.

There are areas of Wikipedia where that generality is not true at all,
and experts are quite actively involved and not being rejected or
driven away at all.

I keep wondering what's different about those, compared to the areas
where they are being pushed out, and thinking if there's some way to
change that.  I haven't figured it out yet.

--
-george william herbert
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Re: Citizendium

Gwern Branwen
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> As an expert who has left Wikipedia more or less, I can give you an answer:
> 1. I would write there for Citizendium, not for Wikipedia.

And judging from the current success of Sanger's past endeavours (I'm
thinking of Digital Universe here), you would be wasting your time.
Remember, "the good is the enemy of the best", or better yet, "worse
is better".

> 2. Content from there included in Wikipedia will deteriorate at
> Wikipedia over time, there is will remain sound.

'Soundness' can be read as 'static', and the value of staticness can
be overrated. Cyclopaedia is static, yet not useful.

> 3. Content there, if the right editing paradigm is chosen, will continue
> to improve, which would either require Wikipedia to repeatedly insert
> the newest version, of basically fall behind.

If anything, the flow would be the other way. By definition, Sanger's
various projects must  expect to draw upon a smaller stock of possible
editors. Without even considering first mover, network, or
winner-take-all effects, we should expect Citizenpedia to be borrowing
content from Wikipedia, not the other way around.

.........
> Kim

--Gwern
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Expert editors

Kim van der Linde
In reply to this post by George William Herbert


George Herbert wrote:

> On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> What I do know is that experts have in
>> general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
>> is not going to change.
>
> There are areas of Wikipedia where that generality is not true at all,
> and experts are quite actively involved and not being rejected or
> driven away at all.
>
> I keep wondering what's different about those, compared to the areas
> where they are being pushed out, and thinking if there's some way to
> change that.  I haven't figured it out yet.

Well, maybe you are active in area's were this is less of a problem.
What causes it? In general, the impossibility to keep things at a high
level quality due to edit wars, POV-pushers, drive-by-editing, good
intended insertion of non-obvious nonsense, and the basic idea of
consensus, which often leads to the most watered down version that is
acceptable to all involved but does not necessarily reflect the current
state of the knowledge in for example science. Finally, Wikipedia
articles often reflect what is available at the internet (aka that what
is easily verifiable), but fails to incorporate important work that is
not directly available to editors, while experts would have access to
those sources.

As long as Wikipedia has no way to protect the quality of the content in
a better way, content will deteriorate asymptotically to the level of
understanding of the the average vandalism fighter unless excperts
themselves babysit those articles. The higher the quality, especially
articles about complex subjects written by experts, the more problematic
it will be to maintain the quality as most vandalism fighters don't have
the insight to actually judge whether a this-is-obviously-not-vandalism
change is actually an improvement or not, or worse, whether the
insertion of nonsense or just plain incorrect information.

But this is inherently Wikipedia, and it will not change.

Kim

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Re: Citizendium

Kim van der Linde
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen


gwern branwen wrote:
> On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> As an expert who has left Wikipedia more or less, I can give you an answer:
>> 1. I would write there for Citizendium, not for Wikipedia.
>
> And judging from the current success of Sanger's past endeavours (I'm
> thinking of Digital Universe here), you would be wasting your time.
> Remember, "the good is the enemy of the best", or better yet, "worse
> is better".

Maybe it does not work, maybe it does, I will see. If it does, it has
the potential to become a much better source for reliable information
than Wikipedia.

>> 2. Content from there included in Wikipedia will deteriorate at
>> Wikipedia over time, there is will remain sound.
>
> 'Soundness' can be read as 'static', and the value of staticness can
> be overrated. Cyclopaedia is static, yet not useful.

Well, that is your interpretation of sound, not mine. Sound content is
dynamic. If I want static content, I go for a paper encyclopaedia. And
dynamic high quality content on Wikipedia deteriorates all the time
unless experts babysit the complex articles. Nice dynamic, sure......

>> 3. Content there, if the right editing paradigm is chosen, will continue
>> to improve, which would either require Wikipedia to repeatedly insert
>> the newest version, of basically fall behind.
>
> If anything, the flow would be the other way. By definition, Sanger's
> various projects must  expect to draw upon a smaller stock of possible
> editors. Without even considering first mover, network, or
> winner-take-all effects, we should expect Citizenpedia to be borrowing
> content from Wikipedia, not the other way around.

Initially, yes. But that will change as soon as there is a sound
community of editors at Citizendium. The pool of editors might be
smaller, but the vandal fighting also, which results in a lesser need
for editors to babysit the many articles. It probably will also contain
less pseudo-notable stuff, like all pokemon characters and such for
which Wikipedia is and will remain a perfect place. And by the sound of
colleagues around me, they might be way more willing to help out with
less open-to-all-editing initiatives.

Besides that, the contributors have more time to spend on actual content
due to less vandal fighting. Finally, at current, the stream of
information is from Britannica to Wikipedia, not the other way round.

Kim
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Re: Citizendium

Gwern Branwen
In reply to this post by George William Herbert
On 9/16/06, George Herbert <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > What I do know is that experts have in
> > general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
> > is not going to change.
>
> There are areas of Wikipedia where that generality is not true at all,
> and experts are quite actively involved and not being rejected or
> driven away at all.
>
> I keep wondering what's different about those, compared to the areas
> where they are being pushed out, and thinking if there's some way to
> change that.  I haven't figured it out yet.
>
> --
> -george william herbert

Short answer: the subject area should be obscure, or exceptionally ferocious.

Longer answer: there's an interesting *BSD phrase about "painting a
dog shed", which pithily expresses the idea that if the masses can
understand an idea/article/piece-of-software, they'll expect their
ideas on it to be heard seriously. Of course, on Wikipedia, to be
heard one must edit...
link: http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/misc.html#BIKESHED-PAINTING

Clearly, what we need to do is set up a bot to run all Wikipedia
through a 1337 filter, or a pretentious Latinizing academic filter.
Ideally, the average reader will be able to read a lengthy 20 page
article on Britney Spears and have absolutely no idea what they just
read.

--Gwern
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Re: Expert editors

George William Herbert
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:

> George Herbert wrote:
> > On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >> What I do know is that experts have in
> >> general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
> >> is not going to change.
> >
> > There are areas of Wikipedia where that generality is not true at all,
> > and experts are quite actively involved and not being rejected or
> > driven away at all.
> >
> > I keep wondering what's different about those, compared to the areas
> > where they are being pushed out, and thinking if there's some way to
> > change that.  I haven't figured it out yet.
>
> Well, maybe you are active in area's were this is less of a problem.

Exactly, though I also participate in some problem areas.

What I don't understand, and am still looking for, is a root cause for
why some areas with equally popular and controversial topics have
contentious article editing, and some don't.

The best I can figure is that some sets of people just play better
together in online text-based interaction than other sets, and who
shows up interested in a particular WP article is random luck of the
draw.  That's a terribly unsatisfying answer, though, because it
offers no evident solution other than trying to convince people to
behave better.

> What causes it? In general, the impossibility to keep things at a high
> level quality due to edit wars, POV-pushers, drive-by-editing, good
> intended insertion of non-obvious nonsense, and the basic idea of
> consensus, which often leads to the most watered down version that is
> acceptable to all involved but does not necessarily reflect the current
> state of the knowledge in for example science.

Well, to some degree, there are legitimate reasons for using
consensus: even within experts in the field, there often is not yet
full agreement on the validity of newly developing science or
technology.  Science textbooks seem to either end up with a one-sided
opinion, or have a consensus group rank and represent alternative
theories which haven't yet proven themselves in a particular area.

Wikipedia suffers some from the consensus group including non-experts
who really don't understand the topic (ranging from don't understand
it at all but think they do, to don't understand aspects of the
emerging research though they otherwise have a clue, with many shades
between).  But I don't feel laying blame on the concept of consensus
is fair - even a paid, expert written and reviewed encyclopedia
suffers from having to make this choice between consensus (sometimes
wishy-washy) and sometimes one-sided viewpoint articles.

A really good writer can take a dynamic disagreement about the various
contending ideas and both give all sides a fair treatment and bring
the debate and issues to life in an accessable manner.  The problem
here is that the set of really good popular science/tech/etc writers
is not the same as the set of topic experts, and that a lot of really
good writers seem to despair at some of Wikipedia's process results.

> Finally, Wikipedia
> articles often reflect what is available at the internet (aka that what
> is easily verifiable), but fails to incorporate important work that is
> not directly available to editors, while experts would have access to
> those sources.
>
> As long as Wikipedia has no way to protect the quality of the content in
> a better way, content will deteriorate asymptotically to the level of
> understanding of the the average vandalism fighter unless excperts
> themselves babysit those articles. The higher the quality, especially
> articles about complex subjects written by experts, the more problematic
> it will be to maintain the quality as most vandalism fighters don't have
> the insight to actually judge whether a this-is-obviously-not-vandalism
> change is actually an improvement or not, or worse, whether the
> insertion of nonsense or just plain incorrect information.
>
> But this is inherently Wikipedia, and it will not change.

I've got slightly over a thousand en.WP pages on my watchlist, about
500 articles worth.  Even accounting for overlap, there are plenty
enough active wikipedians on en to watch the important pages.


--
-george william herbert
[hidden email]
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Re: Expert editors

Kim van der Linde


George Herbert wrote:

> Well, to some degree, there are legitimate reasons for using
> consensus: even within experts in the field, there often is not yet
> full agreement on the validity of newly developing science or
> technology.

Science works on arguments. Not by popular vote (Intelligent design and
creations would be true in that case!). It is not consensus what is
important, but the description of all relevant point-of-views based on
their relative scientific importance based on scientific sources. To
much is based on popular POV-sources, or pieced together quote mining.

> I've got slightly over a thousand en.WP pages on my watchlist, about
> 500 articles worth.  Even accounting for overlap, there are plenty
> enough active wikipedians on en to watch the important pages.

I had about +2000 articles. In my field of expertise, I have waited how
long it took on some high profile watched-by-many articles before
someone would correct some clear incorrect information, inserted by a
drive-by-editor. After a month, I changed it, as nobody did it. Now I do
not have those articles on my watchlist anymore (remove all items works
wonderful), if any of that gets reinserted again, it is very likely to
remain incorrect at Wikipedia for a long time.

Kim


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Re: Citizendium

Stephen Streater
In reply to this post by George William Herbert

On 17 Sep 2006, at 04:01, George Herbert wrote:

> On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> What I do know is that experts have in
>> general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and  
>> that
>> is not going to change.
>
> There are areas of Wikipedia where that generality is not true at all,
> and experts are quite actively involved and not being rejected or
> driven away at all.
>
> I keep wondering what's different about those, compared to the areas
> where they are being pushed out, and thinking if there's some way to
> change that.  I haven't figured it out yet.

The experts I've seen being "driven away" leave
because they are used to and expect respect but
instead get treated as if they were arrogant know-it-alls.

I find this is less of an issue on the Mathematical articles
because it is hard to bluff and so easy for a layman editor
to tell when someone is an expert.
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Re: Citizendium

Stephen Streater
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen

On 17 Sep 2006, at 04:30, gwern branwen wrote:

> On 9/16/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> As an expert who has left Wikipedia more or less, I can give you  
>> an answer:
>> 1. I would write there for Citizendium, not for Wikipedia.
>
> And judging from the current success of Sanger's past endeavours (I'm
> thinking of Digital Universe here), you would be wasting your time.
> Remember, "the good is the enemy of the best", or better yet, "worse
> is better".

The expression I heard was "the better is the enemy of the good".
In this case, the "better" solution Citizendium may never appear,
whereas the "good" solution of Wikipedia is flourishing.

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Re: Expert editors

geni
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
On 9/17/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Science works on arguments. Not by popular vote (Intelligent design and
> creations would be true in that case!).

The history of science suggests otherwise (from what I've seen I can't
help wondering if  Feyerabend had a point).


--
geni
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Re: Expert editors

Kim van der Linde


geni wrote:
> On 9/17/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Science works on arguments. Not by popular vote (Intelligent design and
>> creations would be true in that case!).
>
> The history of science suggests otherwise (from what I've seen I can't
> help wondering if  Feyerabend had a point).

Science determined by popular vote?

Or do you mean that scientists are human and resist changes like most
people and that paradigm shifts take time to filter through?

Kim



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Re: Expert editors

geni
On 9/17/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:

> geni wrote:
> Science determined by popular vote?
>

A popular vote of of scientists would not be the worst description of
what goes on. Although of course the actual process is ar more
complex.

> Or do you mean that scientists are human and resist changes like most
> people and that paradigm shifts take time to filter through?
>
> Kim
>

I never really liked the paradigm shifts model becuase it lacked
falsifiability (and yes I'm aware of the irony of that statement).

--
geni
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Re: Expert editors

George William Herbert
On 9/17/06, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 9/17/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > geni wrote:
> > Science determined by popular vote?
> >
>
> A popular vote of of scientists would not be the worst description of
> what goes on. Although of course the actual process is ar more
> complex.

Also varying wildly from scientific discipline to discipline, and
beyond that from subspecialty to subspecialty.  There are small fields
of science where there are no more than a handful of practitioners,
and those with thousands.

Some of the ones I am more familiar with, including planetary science,
are particularly consensus-driven.  Partly that is because experiments
(space missions to planets, with particular instruments) take years at
best and often decades to deliver results.

Physics has wandered off into an interesting consensus experiment,
looking for theories to solve the grand unification and related
problems, and so far finding little which is formally testable in many
of the fields under analysis.

Math seems different, but I only watch from a distance.

> > Or do you mean that scientists are human and resist changes like most
> > people and that paradigm shifts take time to filter through?
> >
> > Kim
> >
>
> I never really liked the paradigm shifts model becuase it lacked
> falsifiability (and yes I'm aware of the irony of that statement).

Hah.  Nice.


--
-george william herbert
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Re: Expert editors

geni
On 9/17/06, George Herbert <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 9/17/06, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > On 9/17/06, Kim van der Linde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > geni wrote:
> > > Science determined by popular vote?
> > >
> >
> > A popular vote of of scientists would not be the worst description of
> > what goes on. Although of course the actual process is ar more
> > complex.
>
> Also varying wildly from scientific discipline to discipline, and
> beyond that from subspecialty to subspecialty.  There are small fields
> of science where there are no more than a handful of practitioners,
> and those with thousands.
>

This rather describes wikipedia although hopefully people will spend
less time worrying about the philosophy of the wikipedia method (hmm
"what is this thing called wikipedia editing" doesn't quite have the
same ring).


--
geni
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Re: Citizendium

Mark
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
Kim van der Linde wrote:
> What I do know is that experts have in
> general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
> is not going to change.
>  

That's not my experience---hundreds, if not thousands, of Wikipedians
are experts in a variety of fields.  I'm a PhD student in one field, and
will presumably still be a Wikipedian when I have my PhD (and am already
an expert in some sub-areas).  I know professors, graduate students,
lawyers, game developers, engineers, and a variety of other
professionals and experts who edit Wikipedia.  In fact I'm often
surprised by how often I recognize the names of Wikipedians from elsewhere.

-Mark

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Re: Expert editors

Mark
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
Kim van der Linde wrote:

> George Herbert wrote:
>
>  
>> Well, to some degree, there are legitimate reasons for using
>> consensus: even within experts in the field, there often is not yet
>> full agreement on the validity of newly developing science or
>> technology.
>>    
>
> Science works on arguments. Not by popular vote (Intelligent design and
> creations would be true in that case!). It is not consensus what is
> important, but the description of all relevant point-of-views based on
> their relative scientific importance based on scientific sources. To
> much is based on popular POV-sources, or pieced together quote mining.
>
>  
No, I can say quite confidently, as a scientist active in academic
publishing, that when reviewing a field (which is what encyclopedia
articles are), science works on consensus, unless you are specifically
writing a "critical review" unapologetically from a particular point of
view.  If you're claiming to be writing a review article that fairly
represents the current state of the string-theory debate, for example,
you must write a consensus article that represents all major camps.  If
you write an article representing your view of the "truth", then it
isn't a review article representing an accurate consensus about the
current state of the debate, so must be labelled as something else.

The only difference from your creationism/intelligent-design example is
that review articles generally review controversies *within* a specific
field rather than across or outside of them.  Encyclopedia articles, of
course, must take a broader view, and review the general state of debate
among society at large---including between scientific fields, between
scientific and humanities fields, and between academics and
non-academics.  The point is not to get at "truth", but to present a
fair summary of the current state of the debate.

If anything, highly focused specialists are a major enemy of that
endeavor, because many tend to see their view as the "right" view and
hamper writing broad summaries---for example, a statistician who thinks
all artificial intelligence is either statistics, badly done statistics,
or crap.

I have my own opinions on many areas I'm an expert in, but I hardly
object that Wikipedia doesn't document the truth as I see it, since that
isn't its job.

-Mark

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Re: Citizendium

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Kim van der Linde
Stephen Streater wrote

> In this case, the "better" solution Citizendium may never appear,
> whereas the "good" solution of Wikipedia is flourishing.

Well, yes, WP's history in a nutshell. So far so good, not the hypothetical 'so much tighter, so much better' of Larry's alternate universe.

Charles

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Re: Citizendium

Sage Ross
In reply to this post by Mark
On 9/17/06, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Kim van der Linde wrote:
> > What I do know is that experts have in
> > general a short life span at Wikipedia (if they join at all), and that
> > is not going to change.
> >
>
> That's not my experience---hundreds, if not thousands, of Wikipedians
> are experts in a variety of fields.  I'm a PhD student in one field, and
> will presumably still be a Wikipedian when I have my PhD (and am already
> an expert in some sub-areas).  I know professors, graduate students,
> lawyers, game developers, engineers, and a variety of other
> professionals and experts who edit Wikipedia.  In fact I'm often
> surprised by how often I recognize the names of Wikipedians from elsewhere.
>
> -Mark

I concur with Mark here.  Like most of the "expert rebellion," Kim is
an editor in one of the few areas (evolution) where even clear
argument and reliable sources deteriorate quickly, because so many
people feel they have more/better knowledge about it than they do AND
place a lot of metaphyiscal weight on that knowledge.  The situation
is similar in philosophy, the subject area of much of the expert
rebellion.

Many, many more expert editors do stick around, and their numbers are
growing.  They tend to be exopedians, so we don't notice them much
unless they're in our neck of the 'pedia.

-Sage (User:Ragesoss)
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Re: Expert editors

Kim van der Linde
In reply to this post by Mark


Delirium wrote:

> No, I can say quite confidently, as a scientist active in academic
> publishing, that when reviewing a field (which is what encyclopedia
> articles are), science works on consensus, unless you are specifically
> writing a "critical review" unapologetically from a particular point of
> view.

Maybe that your field of expertise works by consensus, mine does not
(and honestly, students who think that science works by consensus need
to retake philosophy-of-science 101). Consensus is not the same as
agreement, and if a topic is really well explored, there might be
general agreement among scientists on that topic.

Kim
--
http://www.kimvdlinde.com
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