Destructionism

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Destructionism

stevertigo-2
Destructionism: The tendency for Wikipedia articles which have reached
an advanced degree of completeness and encyclopedic value to be edited
in increasingly destructive ways, simply because perfection has
already been achieved or nearly achieved, yet articles remain open to
editing.

-SC

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Re: Destructionism

David Gerard-2
On 7 August 2010 01:25, stevertigo <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Destructionism: The tendency for Wikipedia articles which have reached
> an advanced degree of completeness and encyclopedic value to be edited
> in increasingly destructive ways, simply because perfection has
> already been achieved or nearly achieved, yet articles remain open to
> editing.
>
> -SC
>
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Re: Destructionism

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by stevertigo-2
On 7 August 2010 01:25, stevertigo <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Destructionism: The tendency for Wikipedia articles which have reached
> an advanced degree of completeness and encyclopedic value to be edited
> in increasingly destructive ways, simply because perfection has
> already been achieved or nearly achieved, yet articles remain open to
> editing.


You have an erroneous assumption: that there is perfection or that
even a high quality article says all that anyone would ever want to
know on the topic.

It tends to proceed in a cycle. Well-written, someone adds more stuff
they think is missing, someone polishes the writing once more, someone
adds more stuff.

Those who did the polishing get *really annoyed* at the people adding
more *stuff*, but it probably benefits the reader. People come to
Wikipedia for its breadth of coverage, not its polished writing.

Indeed, some articles decay into mush. I didn't say polishing was easy
- it isn't, which is why the people who do it get so resentful.


- d.

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Re: Destructionism

stevertigo-2
David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> People come to Wikipedia for its breadth of coverage, not its
> polished writing.
> Indeed, some articles decay into mush. I didn't say polishing was easy
> - it isn't, which is why the people who do it get so resentful.

I do work hard at polishing ledes, and Im not unhappy when something
Ive written stands the test of time. But there are times when it seems
that open editing model itself was nothing more a bad idea. I guess
this idea reflects a bit of that pessimism. :-)

The 'decay into mush' point is well made. Its difficult sometimes for
one to justify to oneself the effort required to overcome mush-ism -
particularly when its an adversarial system (WP:BRD). Its the
adversarial systems which seem to be paradoxically constructive and
destructive at the same time.

-SC

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Re: Destructionism

William Beutler
Certainly, it still describes a real phenomenon: articles that attain
Featured or Good status, and then have those statuses (statii?) revoked as
they degrade. It happens, all right.

As a concept, it bears thinking about. I'm not necessarily saying there
should be a hold placed on articles that have attained those statuses... OK,
maybe I am. Limit editing to autoconfirmed editors? Obviously when FAs reach
the front page, unhelpful editing pretty much always follows. I don't see it
as a terrible thing that editing be slowed down on those articles, for
instance. It took a lot of considered work to get there. Maybe it should
take some consideration to change them.



On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 8:40 PM, stevertigo <[hidden email]> wrote:

> David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > People come to Wikipedia for its breadth of coverage, not its
> > polished writing.
> > Indeed, some articles decay into mush. I didn't say polishing was easy
> > - it isn't, which is why the people who do it get so resentful.
>
> I do work hard at polishing ledes, and Im not unhappy when something
> Ive written stands the test of time. But there are times when it seems
> that open editing model itself was nothing more a bad idea. I guess
> this idea reflects a bit of that pessimism. :-)
>
> The 'decay into mush' point is well made. Its difficult sometimes for
> one to justify to oneself the effort required to overcome mush-ism -
> particularly when its an adversarial system (WP:BRD). Its the
> adversarial systems which seem to be paradoxically constructive and
> destructive at the same time.
>
> -SC
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Destructionism

stevertigo-2
William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I don't see it
> as a terrible thing that editing be slowed down on those articles, for
> instance. It took a lot of considered work to get there. Maybe it should
> take some consideration to change them.

Remember that film "Six degrees.." There was an anecdote about the
kids artistic success being due to their schoolteacher knowing when to
take the kid's crayons away...

-SC

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Re: Destructionism

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by William Beutler
On 7 August 2010 01:45, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Certainly, it still describes a real phenomenon: articles that attain
> Featured or Good status, and then have those statuses (statii?) revoked as
> they degrade. It happens, all right.

Does it happen very often? Most revocations are due to us raising the
standards we require rather than due to articles deteriorating. If an
article has deteriorated to the point where it isn't worthy of FA any
more then wouldn't it be better just revert to the last FA worthy
version? If the FA criteria are such that there are edits that we
don't want to revert but that make an article no longer worthy of FA,
then we need to change the FA criteria (since they don't fit with our
actual views on what makes an article better or worse).

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Re: Destructionism

William Beutler
I do think that kind of degradation happens over time, and not just because
a FA made the front-page. So, I would favor locking a FA on the front page
for 24 hours, FWIW. So that's my position on dealing with FAs... just lock
'em for awhile.

Obviously I agree that standards have risen over time -- if I look back at
articles I created in 2006-7 when I first got involved, I can see why some
might recommend them for deletion now (although they did persist and were
improved thereafter).

I'm not completely sure where SC was going with his observation about
"Destructionism" -- I took it as a clever play on "Deletionism" and all the
other -isms, to point out a phenomenon he's noticed on at least En-WP, which
I recognized immediately.

As little as I wish to speak for him, nor do I wish to summarize David, but
I think he's talking about a different thing, not about FAs, but how quality
articles evolve over time, especially as major facts (or received wisdom)
changes. In that case, I default to the status quo on en-wp, which I think
is better than not, as I'm sure most of us do.


On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:54 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>wrote:

> On 7 August 2010 01:45, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Certainly, it still describes a real phenomenon: articles that attain
> > Featured or Good status, and then have those statuses (statii?) revoked
> as
> > they degrade. It happens, all right.
>
> Does it happen very often? Most revocations are due to us raising the
> standards we require rather than due to articles deteriorating. If an
> article has deteriorated to the point where it isn't worthy of FA any
> more then wouldn't it be better just revert to the last FA worthy
> version? If the FA criteria are such that there are edits that we
> don't want to revert but that make an article no longer worthy of FA,
> then we need to change the FA criteria (since they don't fit with our
> actual views on what makes an article better or worse).
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Destructionism

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by stevertigo-2
> Destructionism: The tendency for Wikipedia articles which have reached
> an advanced degree of completeness and encyclopedic value to be edited
> in increasingly destructive ways, simply because perfection has
> already been achieved or nearly achieved, yet articles remain open to
> editing.
>
> -SC

You would need some examples to credibly demonstrate this.

Fred


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Re: Destructionism

James Alexander-3
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:54 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>wrote:

> On 7 August 2010 01:45, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Certainly, it still describes a real phenomenon: articles that attain
> > Featured or Good status, and then have those statuses (statii?) revoked
> as
> > they degrade. It happens, all right.
>
> Does it happen very often? Most revocations are due to us raising the
> standards we require rather than due to articles deteriorating. If an
> article has deteriorated to the point where it isn't worthy of FA any
> more then wouldn't it be better just revert to the last FA worthy
> version? If the FA criteria are such that there are edits that we
> don't want to revert but that make an article no longer worthy of FA,
> then we need to change the FA criteria (since they don't fit with our
> actual views on what makes an article better or worse).
>
>
>
I think part of this is what David was saying about adding new content.
Being an FA is a lot more then just content and adding "not perfect/good
enough" prose that adds important and encyclopedic information  shouldn't be
reverted just because it "isn't good enough to be on an FA". Obviously the
preference would be to try and rewrite that new info to be good enough for
an FA.


James Alexander
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Re: Destructionism

Mike Peel
In reply to this post by William Beutler

On 7 Aug 2010, at 03:13, William Beutler wrote:

> I do think that kind of degradation happens over time, and not just because
> a FA made the front-page. So, I would favor locking a FA on the front page
> for 24 hours, FWIW. So that's my position on dealing with FAs... just lock
> 'em for awhile.

For and against arguments for this can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:For_and_Against_TFA_protection
(To save anyone repeating ones that have already been written down. ;-) )

On 7 Aug 2010, at 01:25, stevertigo wrote:

> Destructionism: The tendency for Wikipedia articles which have reached
> an advanced degree of completeness and encyclopedic value to be edited
> in increasingly destructive ways, simply because perfection has
> already been achieved or nearly achieved, yet articles remain open to
> editing.
>
> -SC


[[citation needed]] please. ;-) Or rather, a solid example (or statistical trend) that actually shows this. If true, then I would have thought it easy to demonstrate - lots of examples would appear at Featured Article Review...

Thanks,
Mike


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Re: Destructionism

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by William Beutler
On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 3:13 AM, William Beutler
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> As little as I wish to speak for him, nor do I wish to summarize David, but
> I think he's talking about a different thing, not about FAs, but how quality
> articles evolve over time, especially as major facts (or received wisdom)
> changes. In that case, I default to the status quo on en-wp, which I think
> is better than not, as I'm sure most of us do.

Maybe "Constructionism" as an opposite to "Destructionism"?

I think another term used is "eventualism".

Carcharoth

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Re: Destructionism

William Beutler
But Eventualism implies that articles will get better over time, that the
article's value over the long term matters more than its value in the short
term. I think Destructionism raises the point that article quality goes in
both directions, which is a point worth making whatever it's called.

And to those asking for an example, not to be glib, but here's a place to
start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Delisted_good_articles


On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM, Carcharoth <[hidden email]>wrote:

> On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 3:13 AM, William Beutler
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > As little as I wish to speak for him, nor do I wish to summarize David,
> but
> > I think he's talking about a different thing, not about FAs, but how
> quality
> > articles evolve over time, especially as major facts (or received wisdom)
> > changes. In that case, I default to the status quo on en-wp, which I
> think
> > is better than not, as I'm sure most of us do.
>
> Maybe "Constructionism" as an opposite to "Destructionism"?
>
> I think another term used is "eventualism".
>
> Carcharoth
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Destructionism

MuZemike
In reply to this post by William Beutler
On 8/6/2010 9:13 PM, William Beutler wrote:
> I'm not completely sure where SC was going with his observation about
> "Destructionism" -- I took it as a clever play on "Deletionism" and all the
> other -isms, to point out a phenomenon he's noticed on at least En-WP, which
> I recognized immediately.
>    

I think we're comparing apples with oranges here. From how I see it,
"destructionism" identifies the nature of articles themselves over time
while "deletionism" (as well as the other established "-isms")
identifies the nature of editors' behaviors and mainspace philosophies.

That being said, some other comments:

I do believe that the quality of articles do deteriorate over time,
especially when not watched or updated. That is the inevitable nature of
an open editing environment. This may be due to several reasons; this
could be that the article doesn't have many watchers or that the main
contributor(s) is/are no longer watching the article or no longer cares.
This allows editors who do not know nor likely care to chip away at the
article's quality and accuracy to a point where it either becomes
apparent a cleanup effort is needed or that a GA reassessment or FA
review is needed.

Also, standards for promoting articles to GA or FA were lower than they
are now, mostly due to the overall quality of Wikipedia articles
steadily increasing. I opine that most articles that were promoted to FA
in 2006 or earlier would not meet today's more stringent FA standards.

Case in point, I just finished with an FA review of "Nintendo
Entertainment System"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_Entertainment_System) which ended
up being delisted from FA status. It was promoted back in January 2005.
I think both of my last two paragraphs come into play as, while a very
popular article with over 200 people watchlisting it, nobody took any
efforts to cleanup or maintain the article those 5 1/2 years it was an
FA, and you get a lot of users who do not know better as far as
verifiability is concerned who add whatever they want with nobody
checking or challenging it. On the other hand, when I combed through the
article in detail, I was surprised to see how poor the quality of the
article was, that this would not pass for GA let alone FA today.

This brings us back to one of the original "standing orders" of
Wikipedia way back in its early years
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Historical_archive/Rules_to_consider)
of "Always leave something undone". Personally, I reject such principle
as I believe users should contribute as much as they possibly can to an
article. If others can contribute something different, great; if not, we
have over 3.5 million other articles that need work or similar
attention. There is more than enough work to go around for everyone.
(The problem is IMO is that the vast majority of them hover around and
devote all their time and energy to only a select few articles like
Obama or heaven forbid Pikachu, for instance.)

-MuZemike

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Re: Destructionism

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by William Beutler
On 7 August 2010 01:45, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As a concept, it bears thinking about. I'm not necessarily saying there
> should be a hold placed on articles that have attained those statuses... OK,
> maybe I am. Limit editing to autoconfirmed editors? Obviously when FAs reach
> the front page, unhelpful editing pretty much always follows. I don't see it
> as a terrible thing that editing be slowed down on those articles, for
> instance. It took a lot of considered work to get there. Maybe it should
> take some consideration to change them.


I strongly disagree. Exposing them to the sort of casual editing they
get being on the front page is the final stage of content review.

These are not precious, polished jewels. They are working pieces of
informational text. They need regular shaking up. Content is more
important than polish. Moves to preserve polish over content are
fundamentally wrong.


- d.

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Re: Destructionism

Ian Woollard
In reply to this post by William Beutler
I question the real-wiki nature of this concept.

If the article quality on the whole genuinely has gone down, then
there's always the revert button. Sometimes reverting part or all of
an article back months or years is perfectly justified. Point of fact
I've done it.

More usually, it's arguable, and If it's arguable, then it probably
hasn't gone down in aggregate much or at all, it's better in some
ways, worse in others; and that's a very different thing.


On 07/08/2010, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:

> But Eventualism implies that articles will get better over time, that the
> article's value over the long term matters more than its value in the short
> term. I think Destructionism raises the point that article quality goes in
> both directions, which is a point worth making whatever it's called.
>
> And to those asking for an example, not to be glib, but here's a place to
> start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Delisted_good_articles
>
>
> On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM, Carcharoth
> <[hidden email]>wrote:
>
>> On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 3:13 AM, William Beutler
>> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> > As little as I wish to speak for him, nor do I wish to summarize David,
>> but
>> > I think he's talking about a different thing, not about FAs, but how
>> quality
>> > articles evolve over time, especially as major facts (or received
>> > wisdom)
>> > changes. In that case, I default to the status quo on en-wp, which I
>> think
>> > is better than not, as I'm sure most of us do.
>>
>> Maybe "Constructionism" as an opposite to "Destructionism"?
>>
>> I think another term used is "eventualism".
>>
>> Carcharoth
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> WikiEN-l mailing list
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>> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>>
> _______________________________________________
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--
-Ian Woollard

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Re: Destructionism

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by MuZemike
On 7 August 2010 17:06, MuZemike <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This brings us back to one of the original "standing orders" of
> Wikipedia way back in its early years
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Historical_archive/Rules_to_consider)
> of "Always leave something undone". Personally, I reject such principle
> as I believe users should contribute as much as they possibly can to an
> article. If others can contribute something different, great; if not, we
> have over 3.5 million other articles that need work or similar
> attention. There is more than enough work to go around for everyone.


I think such a principle misses the point that there's no such thing
as a finished article. Rather, those who think an article can ever be
finished are wrong. I would change it to the statement "There is
always something that hasn't been done." Hence the difference between
a featured article and "the perfect article."

There is always something to be done. Stopping people (including IPs)
from even trying to do it, for any reason other than the editorial
conflict reasons that articles are protected or semiprotected, is in
denial of this.


- d.

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Re: Destructionism

William Beutler
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
I don't think I'm putting polish above content, at least that's not my
intention. I agree that content is more important, and it deteriorates just
the same. Stevertigo's comment that started this thread included the
supposition that in some article "perfection has already been achieved" --
well, that I don't agree with, and so I don't think there is any such thing
as a "final stage of content review" except existentially. The final stage
is not the end.

So I am in favor putting loose restrictions around certain classes of
articles, be they FAs or BLPs. I think what I'm saying is, less
well-developed articles and those which carrying lower stakes benefit more
openness, because it increases the chance that they will be improved (many
have nowhere to go but up).

But when an article is functionally complete -- where the record of known
facts and significant viewpoints is set, barring future developments -- then
I think something like flagged revs is a good idea. It's a small-c
conservative viewpoint, about protecting what is good. And I wouldn't even
necessarily go so far as flagged revs, I just think an editor should be more
than an IP or unconfirmed user before they get to tinker with those articles
.


On Sat, Aug 7, 2010 at 12:08 PM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 7 August 2010 01:45, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > As a concept, it bears thinking about. I'm not necessarily saying there
> > should be a hold placed on articles that have attained those statuses...
> OK,
> > maybe I am. Limit editing to autoconfirmed editors? Obviously when FAs
> reach
> > the front page, unhelpful editing pretty much always follows. I don't see
> it
> > as a terrible thing that editing be slowed down on those articles, for
> > instance. It took a lot of considered work to get there. Maybe it should
> > take some consideration to change them.
>
>
> I strongly disagree. Exposing them to the sort of casual editing they
> get being on the front page is the final stage of content review.
>
> These are not precious, polished jewels. They are working pieces of
> informational text. They need regular shaking up. Content is more
> important than polish. Moves to preserve polish over content are
> fundamentally wrong.
>
>
> - d.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
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> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
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Re: Destructionism

David Gerard-2
On 7 August 2010 18:04, William Beutler <[hidden email]> wrote:

> But when an article is functionally complete -- where the record of known
> facts and significant viewpoints is set, barring future developments -- then
> I think something like flagged revs is a good idea. It's a small-c
> conservative viewpoint, about protecting what is good. And I wouldn't even
> necessarily go so far as flagged revs, I just think an editor should be more
> than an IP or unconfirmed user before they get to tinker with those articles


Personally I wouldn't objecting to putting FAs into flagged revs for
the day they're on the front page. This would present the pretty face
and still allow the IPs in. But I don't feel strongly enough to
particularly press the point.


- d.

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Re: Destructionism

Ian Woollard
On 07/08/2010, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Personally I wouldn't objecting to putting FAs into flagged revs for
> the day they're on the front page. This would present the pretty face
> and still allow the IPs in. But I don't feel strongly enough to
> particularly press the point.

Personally I think that eventually *all* FAs should be put at least
under flagged revision.

Or that seems IMO to be a reasonable goal (long term) if the flagged
revisions experiment works out and they get rid of any remaining
performance issues.

The reason is that improving articles is going to get more and more
difficult; there will have been lots and lots and lots and lots of
really smart people that have polished those articles over many, many
years, and the chances of any random edit being an improvement is,
realistically, going down with time, particularly for FA articles.

Past some point, say, >90% of edits to the highest quality articles
are going to be by somebody not understanding something or vandalising
something. On some articles we're probably already there, but people
are somewhat in denial about it.

Which isn't to say we'll ever going to have *provably* seen the last
edit on any article, which is why flagged revisions seems a reasonable
idea, rather than locking.

> - d.

--
-Ian Woollard

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