Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Fences Windows


"I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on discussing
nationalities."

So why are you discussing it?

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 09:56:46 +0100
From: Carcharoth <[hidden email]>
Subject: [WikiEN-l] Nationality in the lead of articles
To: English Wikipedia <[hidden email]>
Message-ID:
    <[hidden email]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

One thing that annoys me about some Wikipedia articles is the tendency
for editors to argue over the nationality of a person in the biography
article about them. The classic example is Copernicus, which has some
justification in that there is sourced discussion of the history of an
actual dispute (though the dispute was long after Copernicus). This
kind of dispute was seen again in the John Michael Wright article that
Scott MacDonald mentioned recently.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Michael_Wright

The wording there is fine, but it can lead to convoluted writing, such
as in the Descartes or Copernicus articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus

"John Michael Wright (May 1617 ? July 1694)[2] was a portrait painter
in the Baroque style. Described variously as English and Scottish"
"Ren? Descartes [...] was a natural philosopher and writer who spent
most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic"

The current solution on the Copernicus article seems to be to omit
mention altogether from the lead.

I can't see any reason myself why Descartes can's simply be described
in the lead as French. Go into detail later, yes, but people tend to
be too sensitive about what is said in the lead and sometimes require
too much detail in order to achieve precision and accuracy.

Another one is Robert Boyle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Boyle

Again, the question of whether he should be described as Irish or
British or Anglo-Irish (or whatever) is avoided in the lead. Extensive
discussions have taken place on the talk page. But this is an example
of an article where the rest of it should be improved, while
resolutely ignoring the storm going on around that one small part of
it. I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on
discussing nationalities.

Carcharoth


     

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Fred Bauder-2
>
>
> "I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on
> discussing
> nationalities."
>
> So why are you discussing it?

Meta discussions about problems sometimes result in progress.

For example, I've been looking at another article, Astrology, where half
a dozen astrology advocates have been banned. Looking at their editing,
all the attention was on the presence or absence of the label,
"pseudoscience", supposedly based on an arbitration committee ruling.

So, instead of working on the article, and adding something about
astrology, there has been a sterile POV conflict. Meanwhile the article
is piss poor with one of the POV warriors, now he's gotten rid of the
opposition, re-writing it and making it even worse.

So big fight over nothing, while substantial work remains undone.

"WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?

Fred


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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Gwern Branwen
On Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 3:44 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]> wrote:
> "WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?

Astrology is one of the oldest and, amazingly enough, still most
popular foes of skepticism. If they don't consider it
'High-importance' then what *is*?

--
gwern
http://www.gwern.net

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Mike DuPont
In reply to this post by Fences Windows
Yeah, what about the whole issue of albanians, according to the rules mother
theresa was not albanian, but by birth ottoman empire or yugoslavian
something. There are many more examples.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Albanians

On Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 9:19 PM, Fences&Windows <
[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
> "I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on discussing
> nationalities."
>
> So why are you discussing it?
>
> Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 09:56:46 +0100
> From: Carcharoth <[hidden email]>
> Subject: [WikiEN-l] Nationality in the lead of articles
> To: English Wikipedia <[hidden email]>
> Message-ID:
>     <[hidden email]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252
>
> One thing that annoys me about some Wikipedia articles is the tendency
> for editors to argue over the nationality of a person in the biography
> article about them. The classic example is Copernicus, which has some
> justification in that there is sourced discussion of the history of an
> actual dispute (though the dispute was long after Copernicus). This
> kind of dispute was seen again in the John Michael Wright article that
> Scott MacDonald mentioned recently.
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Michael_Wright
>
> The wording there is fine, but it can lead to convoluted writing, such
> as in the Descartes or Copernicus articles:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus
>
> "John Michael Wright (May 1617 ? July 1694)[2] was a portrait painter
> in the Baroque style. Described variously as English and Scottish"
> "Ren? Descartes [...] was a natural philosopher and writer who spent
> most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic"
>
> The current solution on the Copernicus article seems to be to omit
> mention altogether from the lead.
>
> I can't see any reason myself why Descartes can's simply be described
> in the lead as French. Go into detail later, yes, but people tend to
> be too sensitive about what is said in the lead and sometimes require
> too much detail in order to achieve precision and accuracy.
>
> Another one is Robert Boyle:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Boyle
>
> Again, the question of whether he should be described as Irish or
> British or Anglo-Irish (or whatever) is avoided in the lead. Extensive
> discussions have taken place on the talk page. But this is an example
> of an article where the rest of it should be improved, while
> resolutely ignoring the storm going on around that one small part of
> it. I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on
> discussing nationalities.
>
> Carcharoth
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>



--
James Michael DuPont
Member of Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova and Albania flossk.org
flossal.org
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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen
> On Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 3:44 PM, Fred Bauder <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>> "WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?
>
> Astrology is one of the oldest and, amazingly enough, still most
> popular foes of skepticism. If they don't consider it
> 'High-importance' then what *is*?
>
> --
> gwern
> http://www.gwern.net
>

The article should be about astrology, not about the views of a fringe
group.

Fred


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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Ken Arromdee
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On Thu, 31 Mar 2011, Fred Bauder wrote:
> So, instead of working on the article, and adding something about
> astrology, there has been a sterile POV conflict. Meanwhile the article
> is piss poor with one of the POV warriors, now he's gotten rid of the
> opposition, re-writing it and making it even worse.
>
> So big fight over nothing, while substantial work remains undone.
>
> "WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?

I don't think the article is skeptical enough.

For instance, it says "In February, 2001, the science of vedic astrology,
Jyotir Vigyan, was introduced into the curriculum of Indian universities".
The reference shows the government of India saying that, but the government
of India is not a reliable source for the claim that vedic astrology is a
science or is being treated scientifically.  The words "the science of"
should be removed, or described solely as someone else's words without
implying that they are true, for instance "vedic astrology, described as a
science by the Government of India, was...."

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by Fences Windows
On Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 8:19 PM, Fences&Windows
<[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> "I dread to think how many megabytes of discussion are spent on discussing
> nationalities."
>
> So why are you discussing it?

Oh, I didn't really think anyone would discuss it... (the thread has
gone off-topic already!).

And to be fair, you should say what you think your view is and where
it falls between the two extremes below.

Is it:

(1) Ignore the more trivial of such discussions, only paying attention
to the ones where reliable sources have actually bothered to have an
extensive discussion about the matter;

(2) Encourage any and all such discussions as they are productive and useful.

The real point I'm making is that it is important to limit any
disruption that arises from such discussions. That means accepting
that some such discussions are started for trivial reasons, and it is
those discussions that waste time. Too often the attitude is "Hmm,
that looks like an interesting debate, I'll join in", when the first
though should be "do reliable sources cover this in any depth or do
they just make a decision and get on with the real business of writing
and editing, and if not, then we are likely wasting our time here".

The analogy I like to draw is how such decisions are made in a print
encyclopedia with more focused editorial control. Obviously it is
asking too much for Wikipedia to attain that level of efficiency, and
you will always have some inherent inefficiency in the processes by
which Wikipedia works (due to the way things are done), but that is
not to say that it is not acceptable to speak up against processes you
perceive as inefficient and wasteful.

The above is real meta-discussion, of the sort you don't often see on
Wikipedia. Rather than coming up with over-arching conventions for
particular areas, the idea is to question the extent of such
discussions in the first place. That is not to say I don't think
specific conventions are good (they can be very good), but there
should be some hurdle to reach before starting a discussion in the
first place. That is done to a certain extent at RFC, but not anywhere
else, I don't think.

Carcharoth

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Ken Arromdee
On 03/31/11 3:24 PM, Ken Arromdee wrote:

> On Thu, 31 Mar 2011, Fred Bauder wrote:
>> So, instead of working on the article, and adding something about
>> astrology, there has been a sterile POV conflict. Meanwhile the article
>> is piss poor with one of the POV warriors, now he's gotten rid of the
>> opposition, re-writing it and making it even worse.
>>
>> So big fight over nothing, while substantial work remains undone.
>>
>> "WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?
> I don't think the article is skeptical enough.
>
> For instance, it says "In February, 2001, the science of vedic astrology,
> Jyotir Vigyan, was introduced into the curriculum of Indian universities".
> The reference shows the government of India saying that, but the government
> of India is not a reliable source for the claim that vedic astrology is a
> science or is being treated scientifically.  The words "the science of"
> should be removed, or described solely as someone else's words without
> implying that they are true, for instance "vedic astrology, described as a
> science by the Government of India, was...."

The Skeptics are notorious for using the term "reliable source" to mean
anything that supports their Religious Point of View. Why shouldn't the
government be treated as a reliable source?  Why should residents of
Western countries be so arrogant as to hijack a word like "science" to
their own purposes? Traditionally, science  always referred to any area
of study; it could be gnostic as well as epistemic.  It did not depend
on following a predetermined and restrictive set of rules, or even the
ultimate truth of what was being studied.  Your proposed distortion is
disrespectful of the Indian tradition..

Ec

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Re: Nationality on the lead of articles

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On 03/31/11 12:44 PM, Fred Bauder wrote:
> For example, I've been looking at another article, Astrology, where half
> a dozen astrology advocates have been banned. Looking at their editing,
> all the attention was on the presence or absence of the label,
> "pseudoscience", supposedly based on an arbitration committee ruling.

"Pseudoscience" is one of those labels that exists for the sole purpose
of being tendentious. A perfectly good and neutral article can be
written about astrology without resorting to that word. It would make
clear that there is considerable doubt about the subject's validity
without leaving the impression that the article is nagging about it.

> So, instead of working on the article, and adding something about
> astrology, there has been a sterile POV conflict. Meanwhile the article
> is piss poor with one of the POV warriors, now he's gotten rid of the
> opposition, re-writing it and making it even worse.

It has been a long time since I even looked at the article. I have since
graduated to become a grumpy old man. The presence of idiotic POV
pushers on both sides of the argument means it's less strenuous to keep
the article in a perpetual state of error.

> So big fight over nothing, while substantial work remains undone.
>
> "WikiProject Rational Skepticism High-importance)" Really?
>
It's the kind of true-believer syndrome that turns Rational Skepticism
into a religious cult.

Ec

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