Systemic bias of Wikipedia

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For a related up-to-date topic, see en:Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias


The best way to deal with trolls in a free Internet environment (like Usenet--or wiki) is to ignore them. Please --do --not --respond --to --trolls--just undo his changes, if necessary. But don't respond. I apologize for not having kept that in mind myself. --Larry Sanger

"There...can...be...no...bias...here...by...definition" - 24


Moved from Talk:VANDALISM IN PROGRESS, 2002/04/02

(Note: to link to an article on the main wikipedia, precede it with "w:", as in [[w:Epistemology]] == w:Epistemology)

Unattributed text is written by 24, who also says:

Not sure that this is the right title - someone should probably write on this issue in general. There are 6100 million potential readers of the wikipedia, long term, and views shared near-universally by 100-300 million of them just aren't good enough to qualify as neutral point of view, if there is serious dispute about them among the other 5800-6000 million people. Beyond that, there are certain points of view or certain focal topics that we may not wish to have represented in wikipedia at all (for instance, hate views of ethnic groups, or "how to build an atom bomb in your garage" or "how to brew anthrax using only commercially available equipment"). These choices add up to a systemic bias, hopefully one that we choose, rather than one that we fall into by accident.


THE ORIGINAL DISCUSSION RE: EDITORIAL CLIQUES, MATH FETISH, "COMMUNITY" (still growing...)


I want to register a general complaint that AxelBoldt removes and redirects articles on subjects that he simply doesn't understand, rather than fixing minor problems with them. For instance redirecting viral_license to copyleft without even moving the material to that article or integrating it at all... just destroying it contrary to wiki's guidelines that say to fix things first.

It appears to be a personal ideological objection to trademark and patent law and perhaps other contracts that causes him to object to the general concept of a "viral license" - if he doubts it exists beyond copyleft, he should raise that doubt first, fix the article, etc., rather than destroy it for his own ideological reasons.

a quick review of his material on pornography, Sept. 11th (which I did not realize was partly his authorship when I first critiqued it), Amway, etc., turns up a fair bit of heavily slanted material written to be barely NPOV. I expect the ideological bias goes significantly beyond the articles mentioned, but thankfully most of his material is regarding mathematics, not politics...

Alex is a well-known and respected member of our community, and has proven that he creates good articles. We have a policy here of encouraging bold updates--if he thinks making a redirect makes a better article, then he should do it. If you disagree, then you should take up your case on the talk page for that article, but don't expect the community to take your word as seriously as someone like Alex, who had contributed a great deal to this project, and clearly does know what he's talking about. Your accusation that Alex is doing that for "ideological reasons" severely hurts your own credibility, because we know Alex better than that. -- Lee Daniel Crocker


Bold updates are fine, but I stand by my statement. Viral licenses are a well discussed subject regarding trademarks, e.g. Java, patents, e.g. MIT's or IBM's portfolio, services, e.g. any online service that requires non-solicitation of customers for competing services via the service itself. They are controversial and important. They do not reduce to "copyleft".

Another such incident was breaking down "intellectual property law" in an economic context to 'copyright', 'patent', and 'trademark' separately when there is a clear public consensus to support such laws, and use of the term amongst lawyers. I believe this was Axel as well, and it was equally ideological.

You may share his ideology, but the policy of denying that the subject or concept exists when it's in widespread clear use, you don't seem to share.

I repeat, on this issue, he does not know what he is talking about, and you are damaging your own credibility by supporting him.

The shared ideology of longstanding contributors can either have NO standing, or INFINITE standing. It isn't really possible to fight a clique that uses technical means to destroy something an opposing clique is trying to do - and I believe it is proper to refer to the wikipedia standards themselves, in this case, those requesting some dialogue before simply removing new entries.

It's clear from talk:copyleft that my concern on this one topic is shared, and if a large number of intellectual property lawyers or green economists or patent and trademark agents were to show up here, it would be more widely shared.

Don't make me invite them. Deal with your inhouse ideological problem, please.

Wait... Don't' make you invite knowledgeble people to contribute to wikipedia on subjects they're familiar with? What kind of threat is that, 24? :) Brion VIBBER, Tuesday, April 2, 2002
just thought the existing clique would want to do some rewrites to fix obvious problems before a swarm of extremists showed up. You never know, some of them will be genius, some vandals.
  • Neighbor, if there's an ideological problem here, I think you should perhaps take a good long look at the walls of that glass house you're in. This is a community; it has established standards; you are contravening them, and then complaining that we don't do things your way. That approach has never been a productive one in any community I've ever belonged to, period. Convince us with your brilliant reasoning in talk pages, but don't attempt to (a) complain until you get what you want, (b) overawe us with your Obvious Correctness, or (c) threaten us with a mass invasion - threats are really a spectacularly bad approach to garnering consensus, you know, and as BV says, that isn't much of one. :)
what absolute nonsense. This is not a "community", as the people here do not share bodily risk. That and only that defines any 'community' I know of. The 'established standards' are *EITHER* absolute obedience to a clique *OR* exactly and only what is established in the meta, e.g. fixing articles or critiquing in "Talk" if you see deeper perspective problems that are going to prevent a simple "fix to NPOV". The complaint is specific and arises only because (a) there is nowhere else to put a more general issue other than in AxelBoldt's talk page, which I did, and in many talk pages, which I also did (b) I don't claim Obvious Correctness - that is Lee Daniel Crocker's role... (c) invasion is the essence of wiki, as I see it - and I'm not threatening, I'm just telling you, if I post something on indymedia.org we'll get all kinds of people we don't necessarily want until more foundations material on the issues they care about is established... these things have to be done in an order, but if AxelBoldt is going to impose his views of oh say the Sept.11th "terrorist attack", then I am obligated to warn everyone else of a shitfight to come.
  • At this time I have no position on the issue under discussion, so I'm looking at this not from an ideological stance, but simply in the manner people are handling things. This is not "The Encyclopedia According to 24," and therefore you must accept that your work will be edited. If you don't agree, give your reasoning why you think a change should be undone. Discuss. Gather opinions. Cite sources. Deal, in other words, with the others here as if they were sensible people with a strong commitment to the best work; and chances are they will so deal with you in return. -- April
I can "deal" with literally everyone here, and only have objections to the deliberate ideological behavior of Axel Boldt which is qualitatively very different from the rest of you.
editing is not the problem - I have edited many many pieces to meet even bizarre objections, and generally they have improved drastically as a result. I just raise here the question of systemic ideological bias that is not admitted or discussed anywhere. Look, I've made clear I'm a big-G Green, and support Green Parties, and despise people like G. W. Bush and Ariel Sharon. So what? That doesn't prevent me from say liking Bush's education speech and quoting from it, e.g. "education is a civil right", "power must go out from Washington back to the people", or "first responders are the key" etc. Editing isn't the issue. It's claiming that "A equals B", e.g. mutual assured destruction of Cold War "is" mutually assured destruction of today with biologicals, e.g. "viral license" "is" copyleft, e.g. Euler's Identity must be defined in terms of complex analysis even though Euler never knew it.
This "24" guy is obviously quite educated, but on this and many other subjects his point of view is so narrow that he can't see the general public understanding of things that a general-purpose encyclopedia should cover. It just so happens that his areas of concern are those I know something about (except for Green politics, of which I am blissfully ignorant). In particular, he's right that among free-software advocates (which I've been among for nearly 20 years), the "viral" nature of the GPL as opposed to the LGPL and other licenses is a hot topic, and hasa specific nature, and probably should be written about. But the article he wrote was useless, and far worse than merely failing to address the topic as Alex's redirect did (and I'm sure Alex did that not because of ideology, but because he clearly recognized that 24's article was very bad). I'll see if I can placate our anonymous guest with a better article on that. Likewise, most of the original text and structure of all of the IP articles was mine, though many others have added lots of texts. That structure does reflect the current understanding of intellectual property law in the United States. It may well be that there is some different understanding of the terms elsewhere, and that this ought to be covered; I welcome those who could do that well. I should also point out that I have made no secret that my ideology is that I believe no IP law should exist; but that isn't the point of view expressed in the articles, because I'm quite capable of seeing and understanding the general consensus even if I don't agree with it. --LDC
I'll say only this about "the general public understanding of things" - if you mean the 101 million people who voted for Gore or Bush, there are six billion others who think often-drastically otherwise. I'm with them, not with what you seem to be getting from the media. For instance a poll of the planet would likely reveal that 9/11 was "caused by US foreign policy"... is that then what the article on it should say? Stop denying political consensus with the people who aren't here... they must be represented. I'm certainly not the only person qualified to do that, but I am one of them.
to the average Chinese, "viral license" would be most readily understood in terms of the Chinese government's own patent pool, not any "copyleft"... this is a US bias at best.
if you agree there *should* be a viral_license article, but hate mine, then write it, but why hide my text so completely it can't be found even in "talk:viral_license". I put a new breakdown in "talk:copyleft". Alex Boldt, however, tried to shut that discussion down with a redirect that made the original text hard even to find. If the objection is that I didn't call "viral_license" a "stub", fine, no one would object to having "this is a stub" added.
as to IP law, it was the w:intellectual property law article itself that needed to be written, that has for now been limited to stark simple economic arguments in w:intellectual capital. That's useful as far as it goes, and does reflect the economists who write about it, but it doesn't explain how the *concept* of "intellectual capital" was formed from the *instruments* of intellectual property law, or the common ideological motives that caused them to become a single field of political economy, or why anyone might object ot the concept of a unifying "intellectual property law" - you are effectively censoring your own opinion by pretending it doesn't exist as such. US law is probably not as important as WTO or WIPO at this point, so I note another potential bias like that behind "Sept.11th Terrorist attack"

Yes, there probably is a lot of American bias here. But that's going to be hard to avoid since most of our readers and writers are Yanks. Other points of view should certainly be covered when we know what they are--and when we can quote reliable sources for them--but I don't think it's necessarily wrong that the encyclopedia as a whole reflects the language and culture of the majority of its readers. US law, for example, is certainly going to be covered here in more detail than foreign law, and when we do cover foreign law, in will be described using English terms and comparing it to American law. That doesn't imply that the American point of view is better; just that it's the one our readers understand and relate to, so it serves as the baseline of the discussion. --LDC


Of the *discussion* is different than it being the baseline of the "neutral point of view" - I note that the Spanish group forked the wiki already... Also, much more poignantly, look at this:

"Wikipedia:Unsuccessful searches (2002-04); 14:47 (1 change) . . . M [Unsuccessful search for Amazon Rainforest]"

I submit that a deliberate effort must be made to put the best known descriptions of the physically real ecologically alive world here... it's quite illustrative that of 30,000 articles none of them is this one... and BTW that is not my search...

Why don't you write an article on the subject, then? That's what most of do when we discover something we think is important is missing. Brion VIBBER
I'm not complaining. I'm pointing out that the lack of an article on such a critical-to-life subject (the Amazon rainforest is most of the biodiversity on this planet) demonstrates a serious ideological slant on the part of the wikis - i.e. you care vastly more about mathematics than biodiversity, it seems. I'm just noting that as evidence of a clear and destructive bias, not complaining about the lack of that one article.
Geez, you don't honestly, seriously believe that do you?
yes,
Isn't it blindingly obvious that the reason we have lots of articles about math and none about rain forests is the same reason we have good articles on poker and none on gin? We just happen to have a good poker player and some good mathematicians who like to contribute, and fewer gin players and biologists. Wikipedia is still a tiny, insignificant little project in the grand scheme of things, and has only a handful of serious contributors. I
thus you have a bias, an obvious and ideological one. What's wrong with admitting you're a clique, you oldtimers? What's the issue?

happen to think that will improve over time, but it's only been a year. One cannot possibly infer anything from a statistical analysis of this database, because this sample is too small to be meaningful. You'd think that would be obvious to someone who understands math fairly well. --LDC

bah - you have 30,000 articles out of the intended 100,000 - 30% is far more than enough. If the most important living things in the world, those being the Amazon and Congo rainforest basins, have no standing or identity at the point the database is 30% complete, they never will, without a radical shift in direction and priority. I am the first step towards that deluge.
What "clear and destructive bias"? Not everyone is expert or interested in your particular pet subjects, even if your pet subjects are very important to you. Wikipedia is still young, and a web site like this seems likely to disproportionately attract the technically inclined -- who may well care more about math than biodiversity -- at first. Don't like it? Invite people who do know about biodiversity to join in and write about it. That's the whole point of this project! Brion VIBBER
biodiversity begins in your gut, where it takes 13 species of bacteria to keep you alive. This is not a "pet" subject - rather, you are yourself a "pet" of this subject.
(Clap clap clap) And those 13 species of bacteria couldn't live if their little cytoplasm-filled bodies weren't regulated by chemical interactions, which on a smaller scale are regulated by molecular physics, which has a little something to do with mathematics. What's your point here, exactly? w:user:Brion VIBBER
what if I don't agree that molecular physics regulates those chemical interactions, but that other chemical interactions, notably those happening in your cognitive system, are causing certain experimental outcomes when you go poking around into physical interactions? My point here is that "we" are way more sure that the 13 species of bacteria are there doing something that we don't fully understand, than we are about anything between the cellular and chemical levels, and more certain of the chemical than the physics that (supposedly) underlies that. It's entirely reasonable to start with the chemistry of the cell and cognitive system, work from that as a neutral point of view, and then work up to a description of "the thing that believes in molecular physics"... see w:particle physics foundation ontology for more on this. The big point is, w:foundation ontology is a big part of systemic bias. Your belief that one level is regulated by a lower level is a bias called w:reductionism... your belief that mathematics describes it well enough to be understood by us on this cognitive level is probably w:meme totalism. Both of which tend to be common in encyclopedia authors... yet another bias, this one arising from w:self-selection.
I'll go one step further and point out what should be obvious, i.e. that even people who care deeply about a subject may not always start an article on it. Similarly, some topics are more difficult to write about correctly than others--we had an article on w:ambergris before one on w:whales; is that necessarily indicative of an ideological bias? Hang out awhile and get a feel for the place, & don't be so quick on the judgements. Koyaanis Qatsi
I am not writing on subjects I am not already, in my own best judgement, one of the top 100 compilers of research in the world. That's why I don't write, for instance, an Amazon Rainforest article, but I do write about w:capitalism and the w:anti-globalization movement. Compare those two with any other articles ever written on either subject, of similar length. They will stand up.

Anyone interested in a non-US point of view should check out http://indymedia.org where many such views are presented, usually in English. It's hardly neutral but it's a start to understanding how these topics are viewed by people with radically different assumptions than most US Republicans and Democrats.

Anyway, this is now about neutral point of view, not about "vandalism", if you believe that Axel Boldt acts in general from an honest desire to improve wikipedia rather than a deliberate attempt to impose a certain view (common in the US) on articles that are trying to veer deliberately away from it, then fine, that issue should no longer be discussed here but rather in meta.

Oh, fer Pete's sake, 24. (and why don't you just get yourself a user name and sign in? ). Yes, there is a certain US bias and yes, it's deplorable -- at least in my book. But that is simply because there are 1) more US Americans than any other group contributing, and; 2) lots of those US American wikipedians don't seem to be aware that this is the English-language (including the UK, Ireland, Canada, Oz, NZ wikipedia) -- or, they don't know enough to comment on the English-speaking world outside their own little corner. It's not some kind of conspiracy. Until more non USAmericans contribute, there will probably be some bias. As for Axel, um....he's GERMAN!!!! He just lives in the US. And, as others have mentioned, he's earned the trust of the community -- which we are, thanks very much. We do share a risk, in that we publicly put our names to a project that can be vetted by anyone. Since many of us are academics, we do have a stake in making sure that the site isn't full of garbage. Finally, I can't see why you think there's a bias -- the articles merely reflect the expertise (real or imagined) or favorite topics of the community members. I am very interested in things ecological, but I'm an historian -- For that reason, I write and edit more in the humanities, partially because I fiugure there are others more qualified to discuss life science-y things. If you want more of them, either write them yourself or get someone you know to do it. And please stop complaining that a mathemetician writes about math. J Hofmann Kemp
never complained about the man's math, nor his politics for that matter. It's his assumption of point of view, on issues that widely debated by folks ideologically opposite. We all do our best to keep "garbage" out of the site, but frankly, using "terrorist attack" in a title is an example of garbage. And again, I'm not complaining about lack of an Amazon Rainforest article - I am noting it as evidence of a specific pro-math anti-ecology *interest* or *awareness* slant... not even a bias... just shows that the interests don't reflect any objectively-real reality. As to "community", a community is people who share bodily risk, and any other definition kills living things, and I will have no part of it.
Hmm. Very odd that you should not want to be part of a community of people whose shared goal is to produce a product that replaces one traditionally produced by killing trees, but that's certainly a choice. But to hold the point of view that such a group of people, with common interests and goals, working together to achieve them, does not constitute a "community" in the perfectly ordinary English usage of the word is not a point of view that deserves to be taken seriously. --LDC
killing trees from tree farms is far less a sin than killing them from rainforest basins. When you understand that, I've broken the cycle of destruction by commodification... if only in your own mind, LDC.


The word "community" originates to describe people who shared bodily risk. If we abuse the term by applying it, as in "virtual community", to a group of people who only share opinion or vocabulary or ideology, we will be certain to lose all of its original meaning to describe people who share bodily risk - there are probably 100,000 different ways to form a pseudo-community or virtual-community, and only one way to form a real community... so if you give them equal weight in your definitions you destroy all real community. My opinion is that it wont happen, because everyone who mistakes false community for real community will have their throat cut while sleeping at some point in the next 40 or 50 years as a matter of moral and survival necessity on the part of members of real communities protecting against conspiracies calling themselves "communities" which aren't. So, you may take that as seriously as the view that one is morally liable for the bodily survival of the people harmed by one's actions at a distance.
but never mind my opinion, abuse of the term "community" to mean simple tribes or parties sharing an opinion or action with no bodily risk involved, is probably vandalism only from my point of view. And, perhaps, that of the w:Vandals, who recognized the Roman concept of community based on submission to Emperor as absolutely false and corrupt, and slaughtered the Romans for it in huge numbers. Now *THAT* is "Vandalism in progress". Sleep well...
    • * Sigh... http://www.dictionary.com/search?q=community ... 24, you don't get to be the sole arbiter of words, either. And if you don't like all those American dictionaries, try the OED - but I warn you, you won't get any more joy there.
no, it's not ridiculous to hold words to their original meanings when all variance from those meanings creates horrendous ecological and bodily harm - imagine what would happen if I were to self-servingly redefine "violence" for instance... anyway, I happen to think English needs an academie like francais and that English is losing its global influence for lack of any control at all over official use of words. It rapidly becomes a language useful only for lying.
Dictionaries are allowed to be wrong. They can render words worthless or meaningless that way. I'm asking you to contemplate, as an individual, the impact of the term "community" being used to mean something other than a group that shares common bodily risk... does it or does it not become useless for that purpose if it is allowed to have any other more ideological purpose?
    • * That seems to me to be the probem you've been having here in a nutshell - like Humpty Dumpty in w:Through the Looking-Glass, you have your own ideosyncratic uses of words, and you're upset when anyone uses a different definition than your own. The trouble is that language gains its entire meaning from the collective agreement on the uses of words; trying to
if that were so, linguistic diversity would not mirror ecological diversity - see w:bioregional democracy's linguistic references, please. language does not gain its meaning from agreement - but rather, from action.
  • co-opt language itself is, frankly, a little ridiculous, as you'll end up talking only to yourself. Dictionaries - and encyclopediae - define and discuss words and prhases in terms of their common usage, and that is explicitly stated on Wikipedia (see w:wikipedia: Naming conventions). I
I'm not digging around for false uses of community in others' articles. Nor am I shoving quotes around "w:terrorist" in other people's articles. In the long run, my strict usage will prevail, because it is provably right. To prove that, I will write many articles this way, and my insistence on these definitions will eventually convince others it's the *only* way.

sympathize with your desire to make your viewpoint a larger part of Wikipedia, I really do. However, it must be done as a give-and-take rather than this sort of automatic assumption that a redirect is an attempt at ideological sabotage, for heaven's sake. I repeat, if you consider that

the assumption was not "automatic", Axel was demonstrating a clear ideological slant that you can read in all of his non-math articles... I don't begrudge him his opinion. I do begrudge not checking references.

Wikipedia is a collective effort, with a broad spectrum of opinions and knowledge bases; and if you respect it as such, and its fellow members, the discussions are far more likely to be fruitful - and, not incidentally, to

the discussions *aren't* fruitful - they are at best a source of fertilizer.

include and expand on more topics in which you have an interest. If you continue to maintain a confrontational approach, my personal opinion is that you'll just end up creating a lot of bad feeling - and bad articles. -- April

so far, confrontation on the key issues of what constitutes neutral point of view has improved articles, mine and that of others. Anyway, we've stated our own respective views on what vandalism is, and are now heavily into the point of view questions. This entire chunk of dialogue should be elsewhere.
April, you beat me to the comments. The ideosyncratic definition of "community" used by 24 seems to fit into the category of Over-narrow definition in the article w:Fallacies of definition. Eclecticology
I believe I have the right to use an over-narrow definition, and wait for others to adopt it. And to keep removing text that tries to generalize what I say overmuch... much as others objected to (what they considered to be) my inventing subjects into existence by assuming too much about their connection.
24, you have the right to use any definition that you want, but it doesn't make that usage anything more than archaic. The time has long passed when community, or even communitas, -tatis meant a group sharing bodily risk. That meaning had changed before Rome fell. Neither did the Vandals slaughter Romans because of some overwhelming compulsion to rage against the Roman machine, as it were. Your interpretation of the interaction between that particular Germanic people and the Romans is "interesting" at best -- and certainly not accurate. Please don't twist historical fact to try to prove a point. At any rate, I think that most of us here are in agreement that we do constitute a community. Moreover, your denial that a community in fact exists would seem to imply your unwillingness to be part of that community. If that be the case, than perhaps, as a deliberate outsider, you could explain why it matters what Axel's alleged biases are?w:user:J Hofmann Kemp
the bias matters only because it moves wiki in the direction of an elite clique of believers in meaning assigned by some top-down process... serving a particular view of life that only serves a rather small minority, but has a rather drastically overweighted representation here on wiki - the math vs. rainforest question being only one of many. Lots of concern about "child pornography" because of faux views of safety - none about families cut off from aid in Western Afghanistan selling *their* children for a dollar each... to whom? for what? think about it. Is that worse or better than suicide bombing? Community arises from *those* choices, or fails because there are those who believe that other decisions are equally important... "academics". hm.
hang out, have a beer, become a community subject to the same suicide bombers or dirty copshops any time or anywhere you want. Or, alternatively, offend the same military intelligence agencies and likewise become a real community. Vandals, suicide bombers, etc., are merely a means to that end...
"denial that a community in fact exists would seem to imply your unwillingness to be part of that community" - more or less right, and one reason why I don't get involved in the reputation gaming of the academics. I can seek *collaborators* here - but *community*? No, that comes from freezing weather and no adequate cover, it comes from tear gas, it comes from living on a couple bucks a day and making new friends in the soup kitchens eating the same scary food. For wikipedia to represent the point of view of the billion people who live on a dollar a day, or the two billion who live on two dollars a day, or even some kind of median line, it's got a long way to go.
      • Just one more note, 24: I've thought about that a good deal myself. But I also don't pretend that I truly know what it is to live on a dollar a day - and neither, I suspect, do you. That's the bitter truth. You and I can sympathize and empathize with those who do - but if we grant that, we must also grant that so can anyone else. It's just the way it works. As for being sure that your definition will be accepted as the One True Way someday... that way lies fanaticism, and I strongly advise that you reconsider that attitude. For one thing, it's not in accordance with the Green pillar of "decentralized democracy," in which everyone's input matters. (You seem to be implying that only input which agrees with you matters, which rather misses the point.) For another, it is, don't you think, a bit arrogant for you to claim to speak for many billions of people, including people of the future? I admit this is a pit of arrogance I've fallen into myself on many occasions; all the more reason for me to point that particular pit out to others, that they may be spared the bruises to the ego that invariably result. w:-- April
I know exactly what it is to live on a dollar a day, but not in the middle of a desert admittedly. I also know what it's like to have no phone and no electricity for a year, albeit in the middle of a city. That likely puts me a little closer to the perspective of the billions than you - but of course I am still interested in listening insofar as you have some way to tell when I understand something better than you. Else, why bother? The key advantage of a decentralized democracy is ignoring people on the other side of the Continental Divide. Avoiding groupthink is ultimately what matters...
and from me again, 24 -- It's possible that you need to deal with the fact that, by its very medium of communication, i.e., the internet, Wikipedia is arguably elitist -- its readers and contributors are those fortunate enough to have computer and internet access. It's also very much a reflection of the interests of community members -- and hardly a uniform reflection.
absolutely true. It's definitely fighting uphill and pissing into the wind. But so was giving up electricity for a year.

Personally, I think the 50 or so articles devoted to Atlas Shrugged is obsessive and ridiculous -- but somebody else thinks a cliif-notes type treatment is useful. That's one of the downsides, but something I'm happy to live with in order to have the freedom to write on obscure historical stuff.

these anal documenters of Rand type people just prove they are stupid, and somewhat amoral, even evil. So what? I understand Rand better than they do, what more is there to know?

I agree that there are many meaty topics that could and probably should be dealt with here -- but I also believe that many of those topics fall into the realm of current events (not really encyclopedic) or are too big to tackle within the time constraints of many Wikipedians. Most of us write what we

if you've researched it carefully, write about it. I am quite neutral on the left/right line and that gives me an ability to write about capitalism neutrally that few others seem to have. It's just a mechanism of rewards for services. When do current events become history? A year? Fifty?

know (and some of us write odd, not really encyclopedic articles to push a particular agenda). The former is pretty understandable -- the latter often results in a waste of time for the folks trying to neutralize non-NPOV diatribes, and may be a contributory factor as to why "important" stuff isn't covered. It could also be that the experts in the "important" stuff are too damned busy trying to effect change rather than dink around on an open content encyclopedia.

likely - but perhaps they should pay more attention to the fact that there are 50 idiotic Ayn Rand diatribes and 0 articles on Amazon Rainforest. I am not interested in others "pushing an agenda" - for myself I reveal my beliefs and then I write as neutrally as I can about things relevant to that, or more importantly relevant to others' reactionary responses to that... since I am close enough to correct to begin with, all sane people eventually settle on some version of events with me. And the insane reveal themselves.
Really, though, what I think it comes down to is this -- You have a choice. You can continue to hang out here and denigrate the work and priorities of the people who consider themselves part of a community; you can
I don't care what deluded people think a "community" is. I do, and it's not a bunch of letters on screens, and can't ever be, regardless of your "work" or "priorities". Nor do I denigrate you as people or writers or editors - however as a community you are beyond pathetic, you have no shared body loyalty and cannot even identify the commons that is keeping you alive.

go away because we are not what you expect us to be (no apologies from me -- I don't even know you) and continue to feel superior (whatever floats your boat, buddy -- no skin off my nose); or you can put your money where your

I don't feel superior, frankly, in particular when I talk to these Singularity Gollums I feel quite unclean. These are simply bad people. Their entire program is a form of suicide and body hatred. If they were doing their job as people we would all be saving Great Apes and kids with leprosy in Africa. But I am here to undo delusions that will eventually kill all primates everywhere if they aren't undone. That's just duty, nothing more.

mouth is and contribute some of these articles you think are so vital. If they're single-POV'd diatribes, they'll be edited. If they're non-NPOV, they'll be edited. That's how it works. If you don't like the rules or the

never objected to any of that. I object to being told that topics (like "viral_license" or "reasonable_method" or "mutually_assured_destruction") don't exist or that cheap substitutes suitable for Gollums apply.

players, you can always find yourself another league. And by the way, 24...from my desk, it seems just a tad hypocritical for you to make suggestions about what "we" should do with the Pedia and to deny that it forms a type of community (a "we" kind of thing), when you don't have the manners to introduce yourself to the community you would apparently like to lead while not being a member. w:user:J Hofmann Kemp

"we" implies a joint action of whatever scope - not a community. "We" can edit an encyclopedia designed to facilitate all kinds of ethical and economic awareness, capable of making many communities much more prosperous and peaceful, but "we" will still not be a "community". And "manners" apply only within a community.
nor, it should be said, would I like to lead you. At present you are not worth leading, and introductions are only of value to those who seek some fraud-enabling reputation of their own (fraud is the only purpose of any reputation).
your entire concept of "community", "manner", and "we" is an etiquette that excludes body and ecology both. Your concept of "lead" is no doubt to some form of utter bodily destruction. I see no reason to expose myself to such people more than necessary, nor to take on any specific bodily identity beyond a reasonable doubt. These are unnecessary to the project of neutralizing the gollums (who are at present allowed to run roughshod over bodies with promotions of filth like AI and transhumanism and nanotechnology, projects which even some promoters believe will kill a billion people in our lifetimes - short as those may be).
if you were doing your job and thinking about the bodily consequences of such things, you would be more careful about neutralizing their obvious bias. But you aren't, and so I'm here, and when you start neutralizing them, I'll be gone.
My idea of community is based on something higher than a sponge's existence. And I'm not very sorry to tell you this, but you aren't actually the arbiter of what my job is or isn't. But it is clear that nothing productive can come of conversing with you. Have a good life.
certainly, I can hope and pray that no one ever gets a PhD from conversing with me, as I don't approve of the concept of reputation. I will, however, have a very good life, once this project is clearly on the right track. That will come when you realize that your own "job one" is in fact exactly as I say, "thinking about the bodily consequences" of gollum filth: AI, transhumanism, nanotechnology, and robotics, all applied by the culture we live in now, today, in the real world, where killing for symbolic purposes or simply because we like the flavor of pus is considered normal and even "good". And don't even get me started on golf, which is simply a low-tech form of w:biological warfare.
an abundance of people whose self esteem comes from technology and cleverness is natural in an encyclopedia's starting stages. But there have historically been encyclopedias which served some purpose other than simply enabling an imperial status quo to destroy itself faster by spreading vile and dangerous forms of knowledge that had no purpose but destruction itself. It remains to be see if people here wish to find the actual median of global human opinion, write specifically for lower-vocabulary speakers of English as a Second Language on some topics, stop asserting that physics or mathematics mean more than ethics or morality in determining the "reality" of our lives, etc. - I can make life somewhat more annoying for those who assert this crap which destroys w:biodiversity, w:indigenous peoples, w:Great Apes and the like. But I can't change their minds. Only you, your colleagues, can do that. I hope you try.

To Mr. 24:

I assume you are male (please correct me if I am wrong).

I will absolutely not correct you, regardless of what "I" am. For all you know, I'm a program, or an alien, or Elvis (i.e. anybody). Another serious problem in systemic bias of wikipedia is that women are under-represented - most of the world's seriously useful knowledge is in poor mothers of children who are forced to be ingenious. Right now wiki is of no use to them at all. That must change.

You can be anonymous. That's okay. I like signing in. To each his own.

that diversity is important - critical, even, to breaking up w:groupthink.

But can't you be a little more cooperative? I have engaged in contentious debate myself, and it never got me anywhere. (Right, Dr. Kemp?)

cooperate *WITH WHAT*? There is no governing process, no ethical framework other than sketched here in meta, and one pedant (LDC) and one math fetishist (Axel Boldt) taking it on themselves to "correct" many things they have no way to comprehend because they are pushing a political ideological agenda... if not a personal w:cosmology. Meanwhile cutting out all mentions of other personal cosmology, e.g. that of w:Paul Erdos, that drastically and permanently altered the sciences and mathematics that they claim to comprehend. They invent double and triple standards and ignore the concerns of the three billionth user. These seem to be unethical, ignorant, perhaps even dangerous people, whose main political method is telling other people they are worthless, and their elimination from the project seems like the only path right now. They may grow up, but if they haven't by now, I doubt they will. - 24

You obviously have a wealth of knowledge. I encourage you to share it.

there's lots I *don't* share, and certainly some I wouldn't share with people like this.

But I ask you to consider what the other contributors want from you.

Personally, all I want is for you to remember to attribute sources.

X said Y about Z.
This i have done wherever and whenever i deem a notion controversial. my judgement of this is very very good, and much much better than that of my opponents. Obviously there must be bridge text which must summarize things from the sources - and obviously we don't all trust each other to write that - so cliques will form. That's inevitable, and fine. When one emerges, such as LDC and Axel Boldt have chosen to form, an opposition must form to that to defefat them, else the project will be destroyed. If you would like to form an opposition party to them, fine, understand threats and visions a bit, figure out what you really want and don't want, and then write a status quo report and see who is most aligned with your point of view...

In talk pages, please don't make the same mistake I have repeatedly made: which is, to tell people they are wrong. It hurts their feelings, whether they'll admit it or not. It makes them defensive and less sympathetic to you.

fuck their feelings, and fuck mine. Fuck sympathy too. This is NOT A COMMUNITY - a community is people subject to the same potentials of w:bodily harm. This is at best a fierce adversarial process where we find and weed out those who don't follow certain ethical rules (like uniform standards, respecting factional language where the faction makes some key distinctions, not pretending subjects or critiques don't exist, using lack of net discourse under a certain name as "proof" that 10000 other names that are all controversial are somehow 10000 topics), and other typical tricks to break up opponents arguments, waste their energy, wear them down, adn drive them out. What these people need is a little suicide bombing in their midst, and that's exactly what will happen (metaphorically). It's not a mistake, it's war, and that's exactly how they want it.

Try saying things like:

  • There's another way of looking at that.
  • Members of organization P believe Q about R.
  • A thinks that B's point of view is an example of C.

Granted, it's easier for me to give this advice to you than to follow it myself. But it's still good advice, isn't it?

not really. Meme totalists cannot be dealt with, only psychologically attacked and destroyed. There is no political process they acknowledge, thus no point in debate. Look, in the two minutes it takes me to type this, four or five kids died in the w:developing nations, and probably by the time I deal with today's sabotage another w:Great Ape will have been shot too. If I was God, I'd lightning-bolt the walking garbage that funds particle accelerators, plays golf, and divides the language up into meaninglessness so that English is only good for fraud. But I'm not, I'm just one more voice, and I'm going to beat these people. My moral rationale is simple, and my political process is clear: three billionth user concerns drive everything I do and say. If you think I'm a problem, follow the method in status quo. So far that is the only governing procedure that wiki has...

I look forward to reading more of your contributions.

you will - and when the Cultists have quit sabotaging the project and gone away to commit suicide by downloading or Friendly AI or whatever, you will see more value out of them than you ever imagined. Godspeed, and thank you.

Thank you.

Ed Poor


Well. Since 24 believes that tact and consideration are unnecessary, let me dispense with them for the moment with respect to him/her/it/them.

thank you for not wasting our time. and for respecting my inner diversity.

24, you are a raging hypocrite. Ideosyncracy is if anything a benefit, in my view, but hypocracy and an attitude that borders on the sociopathic are definitely not.

sociopathic is preferable to body-pathic. And body-pathic is preferable to ecopathic. So you are joining the political party of Axel Boldt and LDC? Good to know. Consider me one of your worst cases and fill your view of these awful things (ideosyncratic, hypocritic, sociopathic) attitudes there. You can't put it in threats since it has, in your view, already happened at least once.

In claiming to be primarily concerned for others, you've shown no concern for anyone but yourself. Your actions ("You are NOT a community because you don't fit MY PERSONAL definition of one!")

your view is wrong, and will be crushed. That is not personal. Those who see community only in shared risk of bodily harm will have far greater cohesion under social pressure than those who believe it due to abstraction, and accordingly will win out militarily. It is entirely up to you whether you choose to be crushed with this view or not, just as any Roman could have gone and joined the "Barbarians".

are in total contradiction to the mores you claim to support. You choose

what "mores"? Mores in the sense of the original Greek "customs"? Or in the modern sense of the guiding core aesthetic that is personal to each of us? If it's the Greek, can I come bugger your children too? Now who's the hypocrite?

confrontation over cooperation - so much for pacifism and democracy. You

nonsense. There was no political process to govern the wiki before I came, and I have laid out a very neutral one in status quo that has only persuasive power and no censorship. Follow it or fix it, but don't pretend you can fix it until you've added one each to best cases, worst cases, visions and threats please. That would be cooperation, and since there is no way for me to kill you from here, that is also pacifism. The "democracy" will follow once you admit that there is a need for parties.

present your opinions as factual, but turn around and accuse everyone else of being partisan. You remind me of those who claim that "religious persecution" means "taking away my right to force everyone else to follow my religion".

wholly depends on definition of "force". scream at them all you want, destroy their self esteem by political means, convince them to suicide bomb your own worst enemy, whatever. But none of this satisfies my definition of "force" which applies only to the ones who use the power of physics and mathematics and chemistry, e.g. to make the bombs, to make the computers.

This project attracts attention and interest because of its stated principles, as on meta and the articles on policy and NPOV.

nonsense. It's in spite of them, and the hypocritical lack of attention to the contradictions between them. NPOV is obvious non-policy, there must be bridging text, and so it applies only to controversial claims. Who decides what is "controversial"? A ruling clique... subject to its own groupthink. Read Natural point of view and three billionth user and then tell me that these are not better guidelines than the current crap about "neutral"... abused daily especially by LDC.

In the extremely unlikely event that we were to allow you to take its development off in the direction you choose, it would lose the very thing



there is no "we", remember? You are part of the party claiming *not* to be imposing an ideology. You can't admit that you are.

that makes it valuable - its appeal as a compendium of generalized information.

there is no such thing as "a compendium of generalized information". What distinguishes information from data is that it is used to make a decision... what decision does the current "w:meme" article enable? I'm all ears.

Do recall that this is inteded for the portion of the world that (a) speaks English

with what vocabulary?

and (b) has access to a computer,

with what bandwidth, frequency, and print capacity (to read offline)? this is laid out with other questions in three billionth user

and spare us your diatribes about the "three billionth person," who quite likely has neither.

apparently the one billionth person already does. And if there is not to be another fork of wiki's content doing a better job making it useful to that one billionth person, then the "editorial board" here is quite irrelevant and I will replace it with another meta-structure that works. But, for now, I am still willing to educate extremely unethical "people" such as yourself who are mistaking "knowledge" and "civilization" for "value".

Also kindly recall that as we do get more communities represented on the Internet, they themselves will be adding to this work. To put it bluntly,

the "communities" who are "represented" (good word, and note the parallel to politics and representative democracy) cannot "add to" work that is written in overly complex language with deliberate disrespect for their w:cosmology and w:foundation ontology. Be as Eurocentric or US-centric or huge-English-dictionary-centric as you want, and create a clique with a pet database of clique terms... but that is not useful in any way to anyone.

24: "the people" don't need you to speak for them. They're capable of speaking for themselves,

several classes of people apparently do - w:Great Apes, those in w:developing nations without much net access or English vocabulary, and even those w:anti-globalization movement types who don't participate in net or w:Global Greens top-down games. If they come here and say anything, they will soon be driven away by LDC, Axel Boldt, yourself, and other white trash.

and I consider it unbearably patronizing for you to presume yourself a messianistic figure preaching the Truth to all other benighted mortals. Grow up.

I am the adult here. you are the child. When you comprehend that, we can talk more seriously.

There you go, 24. All truth (as I see it), no sympathy. Can you deal with it, or do your rules only apply to you - hypocrite? -- April

the rules are laid out in status quo and three billionth user - as *QUESTIONS* - which is how all effective ethical rules are always structure.

So, we have one w:political party composed of April, Axel Boldt, and LDC - Olof and others may also identify with that party. Do we have another, yet?

A w:two-party system is a good place to start, to address this clear bias.


Nice try, but no cigar, 24. More likely, all that will happen is that you will be ignored.

by you, likely. But you are irrelevant. There are billions more "of me" than "of you", and it won't take much to get hundreds of them here. It never has.

Since you cannot seem to manage dialogue, much preferring monologue (not to

you don't seem to know what "dialogue" is - to you and others of your party, it seems that truth flows directly from a w:particle accelerator into the w:Standard Model leading to a w:Theory of Everything and thence the w:Singularity. Your linear view of reality imposes monoculture and thus monologue is all you know. You have abandoned many attempts at real dialogue.

mention the racist epithet above), attempting to conduct a dialogue with you is clearly a waste of my time - time that could better be spent working on the Wikipedia. If your view of taking over the Wikipedia and turning it to your own ends makes you happy, 24, I wish you joy of it; but I want no part of it.

I have no such view. I laid out the threats, visions, best cases and worst cases and value system files, and they are growing - slowly for now. Sooner or later someone will assess the status quo. My view is not of "taking over the wikipedia" myself but finding that common ground. I do not "turn it to my own ends" but to that of the three billionth user.

My view of the future is that those who dance around screaming "my way, my way!" will be left to dance and scream by themselves, while the

certainly so. there is nothing original in any of what I have added here. As I have said before, when it's original, you'll know it.

rest of us are working out productive approaches to a mutually respectful society in the long run, and leave the egotists behind to scream their egos out to the void. Enjoy. -- April

no, you are working out the destruction of the planet and its peoples... the furthest thing from "mutually respectful", but likely "productive" in your sick linear measuring scheme of law, science, economics, and the wikipedia all as ends in themselves.
egos are for those who deserve them - those who use them to serve other living things - 24

24: your behavior has been brought to my attention, and I still care about Wikipedia. So I just want to weigh in as follows: if you continue to disrupt the Wikipedia community, it will unfortunately have no choice but to ban you. Wikipedians have already agreed (long before you arrived on the scene) to respect the neutral point of view and to work together on articles. I've been reading (just now) instances of your failure to understand or respect this policy. It's also amazing that you say that Wikipedia isn't a community. You certainly are behaving as if you believe it isn't one. --Larry Sanger

Reply by 24: your behavior has been brought to my attention, and I still care about Wikipedia. So I just want to weigh in as follows: if you continue to disrupt the Wikipedia community,

there is no "community" - a community is people who share w:risk of w:bodily harm. I am hardly threatening to suicide bomb you - if I was, you would become a "community" under that threat. An encyclopedia is a market in theories and facts, more or less, with obvious uniform transactions. I submit that you are not assessing what is going on but rather reacting to some people's assertions that I am hurting their feelings. You should review some of the variosu types of abuse and strange accusations heaped on me, especially from LDC and Axel (although the latter has settled down somewhat).

it will unfortunately have no choice but to ban you.

how does "it" make this decision. What does it think is "choice"? How is a ban proposed and carried out? under what system of governance?

Wikipedians have already agreed (long before you arrived on the scene) to respect the neutral point of view and to work together on articles.

I've done that on many articles already. Given the high degree of scrutiny my work is under, I'd say I've done that on far far more articles than anyone else here. Also, I've deliberately chosen topics that are controversial and divisive. Thus, I have become associated with the controversy of those topics.

I've been reading (just now) instances of your failure to understand or respect this policy.

I understand it completely. Certainly I made mistakes early on, but am getting the hang of it. NPOV as you define it is a good description of how a group of people sharing a bias can equalize that bias into a single common bias. It is a useless and terrible description of how the output comes to be useful to any reader - how it is relevant to the survival or thriving of their body, their choice of action. In these respects, it shares the same "bodyless" flawed assumptions of the "free software" crowd, which is to say, that somehow access to hardware and ability to read complex source code and be trusted to change it, is the same as knowing what it should do. That flawed assumption, which is even worse in the 'open source' crowd, has caused many of those projects to die. You are making that assumption here, which is unsurprising, but i would think you should care at least to define a means of governance that serves the three billionth user.

It's also amazing that you say that Wikipedia isn't a community. You certainly are behaving as if you believe it isn't one. --Larry Sanger

How would that be "amazing"? I say it isn't, I behave as if it isn't, I respect formal or rigorous structure, I ignore a few irrelevant complaints, I deal with many relevant ones. That's a process called "business". It relies on efficient logistics - not pleasing people who can't be pleased. It cannot work without governance. It remains only for you to say what that is. If the governance is "dictatorship by clique well-known to each other", fine, that is standard w:groupthink and standard w:monarchy and standard w:military fiat. Well known paradigms. And not amenable to producing good intellectual work.
I request that you read this entire file. I stated my own view of how the world works in Natural point of view, so that others could attack me for it or check my articles for biases arising from it. They have, and they do. There is no inherent contradiction between your "Neutral" and my "Natural" - although we differ on how much attribution any given view might required, that arises and is settled file per file. Accordingly, even very controversial topics are managing to get covered now. Eventually, we will even get around to that all-important Amazon rainforest.
you are, of course, entitled to close ranks and ban. But you will not find a more determined representative of the actual end users you claim to wish to serve than myself. I stand outside this "community" that thinks it is somehow a fair arbiter of the truth, where citations are required, where not, etc. I suggest you read my article on w:ontology which contrasts a bit with yours. We may find some common ground there. Frankly I find this attempt to assign common meaning to the English verb "to be" to be beyond absurd, and my rewrite was much more concerned with the way we do that in our real lives... if you would work on that one file with me, perhaps you would see the issue.
if not, well, take the easy way out, and when 10000 more of me show up and overwhelm your system of non-governance, don't count on me to bail you out. This is the only chance you get to see that NPOV is not enough, you need goals and a w:foundation ontology of your own.
Godspeed, 24.

One could easily have expected you to reply like this, of course. But you are not understanding something: my comment was not an argument for you to reply to sentence-by-sentence, as if, in the game you are playing, you score points by refuting as many sentences as possible. Nope, I was giving you advice, or making a request. If you refuse, so be it. --Larry Sanger


It's amazing how the very best historical analogue to pomo deconstructionists like 24 is the medieval theosophists who filled volumes about those miniature dancing angels. It's reminiscent of the way opposite radical ideaologies like Communism and Fascism ended up having more in common than not. But instead of endless para-analysis of unseen spiritual entities, 24 and friends attempt to invalidate the very currency of communication: language. Wikipedia is a community, 9/11 was terrorism, biodiversity is important but doesn't trump everything else. The beautiful thing is, by his own ontological rules, 24 can claim no more objective basis upon which to dismiss my definitions than he must grant me to dismiss his. -- JDG 6 Oct. 2002


24: You so funny!

Nein. Was ist? Himmelpharber?


I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a real definition of "neutral point of view" that isn't just "because we say it is". It seems like there are roving bands of Orwellian truth monitors enforcing a left wing orthodoxy here. The systemic bias I see isn't just in what IS said in wikipedia articles, but what ISN'T said. Minority views are expunged, suppressed from history by militants intent on enforcing their idea of what "neutral" is. Whole pages are voted for deletion by people who want to suppress the information those pages communicate. Deleters don't even give editors time to put together a decent article before they descend en masse to make the editor conform to the left orthodoxy or be depersonated out of wikipedia.

There would be much less strife in wikipedia if different factions were allowed to post their view of what "neutral" is for a given topic, and the reading public was allowed to rate articles. Particularly for topics that are generally in dispute in the world at large, either politically or with regard to other things, the idea of reaching consensus in wikipedia on a topic when there is no consensus in the world at large smacks of elitist arrogance and pretentions to tyranthood. User:Citizenposse