NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

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NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Kathleen McCook
The link is to the NPR article and the comment below is worth reviewing.
How can this perception typical among the NPR commentators  be over-turned?

" Boe D (Dajoe) wrote:
"People: If you are knowledgable enough to find a fault in Wikipedia--Go
fix it!"

Boe, are you kidding? it's because of the hubris and tenacity of the
ignorant that we cannot fix it. we have only finite energy and time, and
the self-appointed "editors" who elect among themselves the
"administrators" (who wield the real power), will just revert any fix that
doesn't fit with their POV.

if you take them on, they will run to an admin friend of theirs and you
will be blocked. if you stand your ground, they will "community ban" you
indefinitely and then you either get another login ID or you edit
anonymously, but in either case you must fly below the radar or be accused
of sock-puppetry.

you can be a noted expert in your field, but if you are outnumbered by two
self-appointed editors that disagree, any time you spend contributing to
the project will eventually be wasted.

the second pillar of Wikipedia has crumbled to the earth. it does not exist
anymore except as rubble."

if Jimbo only knew.


Links send out this morning to 1000s of librarians.

Wikipedia Irks Philip Roth With Reluctance To Edit Entry About His
Novel<http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/07/160776104/wikipedia-irks-philip-roth-with-reluctance-to-edit-entry-about-his-novel>

comments

http://www.tk421.net/librarylink/
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Charles Matthews
On 11 September 2012 10:11, Kathleen McCook <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The link is to the NPR article and the comment below is worth reviewing.
> How can this perception typical among the NPR commentators  be over-turned?
>
> " Boe D (Dajoe) wrote:
> "People: If you are knowledgable enough to find a fault in Wikipedia--Go
> fix it!"
>
> Boe, are you kidding? it's because of the hubris and tenacity of the
> ignorant that we cannot fix it. we have only finite energy and time, and
> the self-appointed "editors" who elect among themselves the
> "administrators" (who wield the real power), will just revert any fix that
> doesn't fit with their POV.
>
> That's kind of not the case. An admin who reverts well-referenced edits as
a POV pusher is riding for a fall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-09-10/In_the_media

has a sane discussion of what actually did go on in the Roth business. You
can get this other kind of explanation any day of the week from the troll
boards, naturally. But the agenda there is to make WP unmanageable on any
terms.

The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its ohmigod
you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that, yes,
you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can potentially be
deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is always
a questionable analysis.

Charles
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Ken Arromdee
On Tue, 11 Sep 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
> The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its ohmigod
> you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that, yes,
> you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
> authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can potentially be
> deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is always
> a questionable analysis.

If someone who could reasonably be seen as speaking for Wikipedia told him
that Wikipedia needed secondary sources for his claim, they are wrong, and
Wikipedia failed.

It completely misses the point to explain how Wikipedia's actual policies are
reasonable.  The policy that Roth was told about is not reasonable; if it
doesn't match Wikipedia's actual policy, he shouldn't be expected to figure
that out.

It has nothing to do with celebrity power, except that when celebrities run
into bad admins, people learn about it.

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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Nathan Awrich
That comment sounds like it was written by Peter Damian. Not everyone,
even Wikipedians, recognize or keep in mind the fact that there is a
subversive principle (or really, many) underlying the Wikipedia model.
It intentionally does not offer deference to editors with credentials
in the fields they might choose to edit. There are obvious practical
reasons for this, but there's also an element of democratizing
information and the curation of knowledge.

This strikes many self-defined experts as wrongheaded; they expect to
be treated as authorities, and are often upset when they are not.
While unfortunate, that doesn't turn this feature of Wikipedia into a
bug. If anything it suggests we need to do a better job educating
potential editors and readers about the principles of the
encyclopedia.

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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Ken Arromdee
> On Tue, 11 Sep 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
>> The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its
>> ohmigod
>> you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that,
>> yes,
>> you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
>> authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can
>> potentially be
>> deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is
>> always
>> a questionable analysis.
>
> If someone who could reasonably be seen as speaking for Wikipedia told
> him
> that Wikipedia needed secondary sources for his claim, they are wrong,
> and
> Wikipedia failed.
>
> It completely misses the point to explain how Wikipedia's actual policies
> are
> reasonable.  The policy that Roth was told about is not reasonable; if it
> doesn't match Wikipedia's actual policy, he shouldn't be expected to
> figure
> that out.

What is our actual policy? What should he have been told, and how?

Fred


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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Ed Erhart-2
The easiest solution would have been to ask Roth to write a blog post (or
something similar) detailing the inspiration for the book -- as far as I
know, that inspiration was not publicized until the open letter was
published. Another option would have been an interview with basically any
website.

While I'm sure someone will chime in saying "that's against WP:RS!", it's
actually not. See WP:SELPPUB: "Self-published and questionable sources may
be used as sources of information *about themselves*, usually in articles
about themselves or their activities" (emphasis in original)

--Ed


On Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]>wrote:

> > On Tue, 11 Sep 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
> >> The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its
> >> ohmigod
> >> you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that,
> >> yes,
> >> you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
> >> authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can
> >> potentially be
> >> deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is
> >> always
> >> a questionable analysis.
> >
> > If someone who could reasonably be seen as speaking for Wikipedia told
> > him
> > that Wikipedia needed secondary sources for his claim, they are wrong,
> > and
> > Wikipedia failed.
> >
> > It completely misses the point to explain how Wikipedia's actual policies
> > are
> > reasonable.  The policy that Roth was told about is not reasonable; if it
> > doesn't match Wikipedia's actual policy, he shouldn't be expected to
> > figure
> > that out.
>
> What is our actual policy? What should he have been told, and how?
>
> Fred
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Martijn Hoekstra
If someone would say this is a good idea but against policy x, so we
shouldnt do it, and that argument were taken seriously, we have a far
larger problem than even the most negative reading of the Roths issue.
On Sep 11, 2012 6:32 PM, "Ed Erhart" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The easiest solution would have been to ask Roth to write a blog post (or
> something similar) detailing the inspiration for the book -- as far as I
> know, that inspiration was not publicized until the open letter was
> published. Another option would have been an interview with basically any
> website.
>
> While I'm sure someone will chime in saying "that's against WP:RS!", it's
> actually not. See WP:SELPPUB: "Self-published and questionable sources may
> be used as sources of information *about themselves*, usually in articles
> about themselves or their activities" (emphasis in original)
>
> --Ed
>
>
> On Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]
> >wrote:
>
> > > On Tue, 11 Sep 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
> > >> The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its
> > >> ohmigod
> > >> you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that,
> > >> yes,
> > >> you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
> > >> authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can
> > >> potentially be
> > >> deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is
> > >> always
> > >> a questionable analysis.
> > >
> > > If someone who could reasonably be seen as speaking for Wikipedia told
> > > him
> > > that Wikipedia needed secondary sources for his claim, they are wrong,
> > > and
> > > Wikipedia failed.
> > >
> > > It completely misses the point to explain how Wikipedia's actual
> policies
> > > are
> > > reasonable.  The policy that Roth was told about is not reasonable; if
> it
> > > doesn't match Wikipedia's actual policy, he shouldn't be expected to
> > > figure
> > > that out.
> >
> > What is our actual policy? What should he have been told, and how?
> >
> > Fred
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > WikiEN-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
> >
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Ken Arromdee
On 11 September 2012 16:14, Ken Arromdee <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, 11 Sep 2012, Charles Matthews wrote:
>
>> The Roth situation was WP between a rock (celeb culture with its ohmigod
>> you dissed X) and a hard place (academic credibility requires that, yes,
>> you do require verifiable additions and don't accept argument from
>> authority). It would tend to illustrate that celeb power can potentially
>> be
>> deployed against serious discourse. Countervailing "admin power" is always
>> a questionable analysis.
>>
>
> If someone who could reasonably be seen as speaking for Wikipedia told him
> that Wikipedia needed secondary sources for his claim, they are wrong, and
> Wikipedia failed.
>

That is what I have described before as the point of failure, if the
inference is correct. There has been plenty of discussion on the premise
that there was a failure of courtesy, which I don't see.

>
> It completely misses the point to explain how Wikipedia's actual policies
> are
> reasonable.  The policy that Roth was told about is not reasonable; if it
> doesn't match Wikipedia's actual policy, he shouldn't be expected to figure
> that out.
>
> It has nothing to do with celebrity power, except that when celebrities run
> into bad admins, people learn about it.



Without the whole mail being made public, I don't see how we can conclude
"bad". Selective quotation is what we have in the New Yorker letter,
together with some over-interpretation. Which is rhetoric. But the bulk of
Roth's letter is much more interesting than that rather scanty intro.

Charles
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich
On 09/11/12 8:23 AM, Nathan wrote:

> That comment sounds like it was written by Peter Damian. Not everyone,
> even Wikipedians, recognize or keep in mind the fact that there is a
> subversive principle (or really, many) underlying the Wikipedia model.
> It intentionally does not offer deference to editors with credentials
> in the fields they might choose to edit. There are obvious practical
> reasons for this, but there's also an element of democratizing
> information and the curation of knowledge.
>
> This strikes many self-defined experts as wrongheaded; they expect to
> be treated as authorities, and are often upset when they are not.
> While unfortunate, that doesn't turn this feature of Wikipedia into a
> bug. If anything it suggests we need to do a better job educating
> potential editors and readers about the principles of the
> encyclopedia.
>
The subversive principle lies in making reality a victim of group-think.
This subjects truth to a wholly flawed mechanism of verification that is
immune to any kind of reality check. Wikipedia has a perverse history
when it comes to dealing with expertise. It substitutes it's own
bureaucracy for recognized experts in a field. These admins are the
wrongheaded self-defined experts that expect to be treated as
authorities. In circumstances of law they are quite willing to evade
responsibility with a strategic "IANAL" while they run to the
acknowledged experts in that field. Understanding and good judgement are
not the product of rules.

If we note the wording, "There’s no way Roth could have tackled this
subject without thinking of Anatole Broyard," It doesn't state Broyard's
influence it speculates about it. The innuendo works for all but the
most careful readers. In the underlying incident instead of treating the
word "spook" in its ordinary meaning of a ghost, the crowd willfully
mischaracterizes the word in a more obscure sense. In the famed
Seigenthaler incident the writer did not make a blunt claim that
Seigenthaler had been involved in the Kennedy assassination, he merely
stated that he had been cleared of any such charges. That claim may have
been outright vandalism, but, judging by the reaction, it was effective.
How we fail to read accurately is frequently a big problem.

I tend to be very critical of experts in any field. I still like to give
them the prima facie benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence to
the contrary, or other basis of conflict. Similarly, I also read
"reliable sources" with the same criticality.

Needing "to do a better job educating potential editors" sounds to much
like the politician who thinks that the only reason the public hasn't
agreed with views is that he hasn't explained them well enough. It
doesn't occur to him that there might be something wrong with his views,
nor to us that our epistemology might be flawed.

Ray

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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Thomas Morton
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich
On 11 September 2012 16:23, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> That comment sounds like it was written by Peter Damian. Not everyone,
> even Wikipedians, recognize or keep in mind the fact that there is a
> subversive principle (or really, many) underlying the Wikipedia model.
> It intentionally does not offer deference to editors with credentials
> in the fields they might choose to edit. There are obvious practical
> reasons for this, but there's also an element of democratizing
> information and the curation of knowledge.
>
> This strikes many self-defined experts as wrongheaded; they expect to
> be treated as authorities, and are often upset when they are not.
> While unfortunate, that doesn't turn this feature of Wikipedia into a
> bug. If anything it suggests we need to do a better job educating
> potential editors and readers about the principles of the
> encyclopedia.
>
>
The anti-expert idea is not really related to "democratizing information
and the curation of knowledge." Especially as Wikipedia specifically
identifies as *not a democracy*!

The point in not deferring to experts is a hack to get around the problem
that on the internet you could claim to be just about anyone. Who knows if
you truly are an expert in theology (*cough* Essjay *cough*).

However; it's a bad hack because in many fields you need to be an expert to
be able to properly write about the subject.

I have a deep interest in religious history; you couldn't call me an
expert, but I have studied the subject to undergraduate level in my spare
time. I look at the editors working on religious history topics on
Wikipedia and they are, often, incapable of scholarly authorship, or driven
by their own viewpoints.

This is just one data point.

The "all editors created equal" thing is a misnomer; being an admin people
*do* defer to me, even though I try to avoid it. I see many admins using
their authority.

So perhaps it is time to allow experts to be seen as such.

Tom
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Re: NPR on Roth-Library Link of the Day

Ray Saintonge
On 09/12/12 2:32 AM, Thomas Morton wrote:

> However; it's a bad hack because in many fields you need to be an expert to
> be able to properly write about the subject.
>
> I have a deep interest in religious history; you couldn't call me an
> expert, but I have studied the subject to undergraduate level in my spare
> time. I look at the editors working on religious history topics on
> Wikipedia and they are, often, incapable of scholarly authorship, or driven
> by their own viewpoints.
>
> This is just one data point.
>
> The "all editors created equal" thing is a misnomer; being an admin people
> *do* defer to me, even though I try to avoid it. I see many admins using
> their authority.
>
> So perhaps it is time to allow experts to be seen as such.
>
>
I think a lot of what happens on Wikipedia is a result of the computer
science mindset where everything can be reduced to a series of zeros and
ones.  In the humanities young editors too easily fall into the trap of
a the first year university student who has taken a Psychology course
and is ready to analyze everyone around him.

Ec

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