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> Should valued contributers be treated differently?
mbz1
post Sun 25th December 2011, 8:24pm
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I find this comment interesting:

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If I was the boss of a company, I wouldn't fire my best employee for pissing off everyone else, especially if he or she actually gets shit done. Let's face it: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than five admins.

Why not let Malleus have immunity because of his usefulness? Is calling someone a cunt (even if regularly done over several years) that bad, considering this is the Internet?

If someone leaves Wikipedia "because" of Malleus, it's their choice.


Fetchcomms is mistaking: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than at least a hundred admins, probably more, but does it mean Malleus and other valued editors should be treated differently than not so valued, but good faith editors?

I have no answer to this question, but I would like to hear what others think about this matter. Thanks.

This post has been edited by mbz1: Sun 25th December 2011, 8:28pm
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jd turk
post Sun 25th December 2011, 8:47pm
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Sun 25th December 2011, 2:24pm) *

Fetchcomms is mistaking: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than at least a hundred admins, probably more, but does it mean Malleus and other valued editors should be treated differently than not so valued, but good faith editors?


No, no, a thousand times no.
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Eppur si muove
post Sun 25th December 2011, 10:42pm
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Sun 25th December 2011, 2:24pm) *

Fetchcomms is mistaking: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than at least a hundred admins, probably more, but does it mean Malleus and other valued editors should be treated differently than not so valued, but good faith editors?


If one takes seriously Wikipedia's mission to create an encyclopedia, then before the faux-religious "5 pillars" should come a rule zero which should rule all administrative and functionary actions:

Before an admin, functionary or co-founder takes an action or decides not to do so, they must ask themselves this question "Will this particular action that I am considering help or hinder the development of a high-quality non-plagiarised encyclopedia that accurately reflects the most strongly evidenced facts rather than the opinions of cranks and people who have their own axes to grind?" If the former, go do it. If the latter, don't do it. If uncertain, seek some advice.

The better the content that someone produces, then the more likely that blocking or banning them will be harmful to the project. The more disruption someone causes, the less likely that such an action will be harmful.

Everyone should be treated the same but their value to the encyclopedia is an important factor that should be taken into account.

The people who are among the least useful to the project are trolls, subtle vandals and POV-pushers. Unfortunately, many admins and Jimbo find it a lot easier to spot some rude words than to identify those who are systematically distorting content. So, all too often, they go off on one about the rude words and defend the trolls. However, if they were actually to follow rule zero, they would realise that the person being sworn at is often a positive harm to the project and therefore the one most worthy of a block or ban.

Of course, if someone's rudeness is driving away useful contributors or reducing their willingmess to spend time developing content, then that is a cost to the project. So not just the usefulness of the perpetrator of a bit of rudeness should be taken into account, but also their target(s). More should be done to protect (rightfully) valued editors and newbies, who for all we know might become valued, than to protect timewasters.

This post has been edited by Eppur si muove: Sun 25th December 2011, 11:22pm
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Fusion
post Sun 25th December 2011, 11:04pm
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Is there not a very important rule, namely WP:IAR? This basically asserts that you should ignore any rule that, if it were followed, would not contribute to the greater good. Naively, it might be said that allowing a good contributor to overjump the bounds of civility should therefore be good because if he continues to contribute, it will be better than if he doesn't. Conversely, however, if he is allowed to go too far it will create so bad an atmosphere that eventually he will be doing more bad than good because so many people - each not nearly as good as him individually but collectively better - will leave. I say that there is a balance to be struck. Where exactly is this balance is beyond me but I know that somewhere it is there.
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mbz1
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:03am
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I meant neither vandals nor trolls.
I meant only good faith editors.

For example, let's say Malleus who wrote many good articles has a dispute with jd turk whose only contributions is reverting vandalism.
If Malleus is banned, or even simply gets upset over a short block and leaves, it will be a loss for wikipedia.
If jd turk is banned or is driven away by Malleus, it would not be so much of a loss because there are many other users who could revert vandalism.
It will be very unfair to treat the users differently, but on the other hand to let Malleus go could be unfair towards wikipedia readers.

This post has been edited by mbz1: Mon 26th December 2011, 6:05am
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Peter Damian
post Mon 26th December 2011, 9:56am
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Sun 25th December 2011, 8:24pm) *

I find this comment interesting:

QUOTE
If I was the boss of a company, I wouldn't fire my best employee for pissing off everyone else, especially if he or she actually gets shit done. Let's face it: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than five admins.

Why not let Malleus have immunity because of his usefulness? Is calling someone a cunt (even if regularly done over several years) that bad, considering this is the Internet?

If someone leaves Wikipedia "because" of Malleus, it's their choice.


Fetchcomms is mistaking: Malleus is worth more to Wikipedia than at least a hundred admins, probably more, but does it mean Malleus and other valued editors should be treated differently than not so valued, but good faith editors?

I have no answer to this question, but I would like to hear what others think about this matter. Thanks.


False dilemma. Of course valued contributors to any kind of project or business should be treated differently. Employees who have worked for more than one or two years often get different pension rights, reflecting the proven value of their contributions. The principle behind share options is to encourage staying with a firm. Certain legal rights apply around length of service.

Valued employees often get promoted or paid more, of course.

That doesn't mean that a valued employee or contributor should be allowed to bully or behave badly in other ways (although it happens, unfortunately).

It all depends what 'differently' means.
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Peter Damian
post Mon 26th December 2011, 10:00am
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Mon 26th December 2011, 6:03am) *

I meant neither vandals nor trolls.
I meant only good faith editors.

For example, let's say Malleus who wrote many good articles has a dispute with jd turk whose only contributions is reverting vandalism.
If Malleus is banned, or even simply gets upset over a short block and leaves, it will be a loss for wikipedia.
If jd turk is banned or is driven away by Malleus, it would not be so much of a loss because there are many other users who could revert vandalism.
It will be very unfair to treat the users differently, but on the other hand to let Malleus go could be unfair towards wikipedia readers.


Of course - the value that admins contribute is low-skill, low-value labour, because it is plentiful and in high supply. Writing good quality articles is not in high supply. I'm not sure about whether this is 'fair' or 'unfair'. It is simply a practical point that if you want to supply a good product, you reward the high-value contributors more than the low-value one. Except on Wikipedia but, as I have pointed out many times, there is no market incentive for Wikipedia to supply quality product. That is not Wikipedia's model.
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Kelly Martin
post Mon 26th December 2011, 3:39pm
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Content authors, cantankerous or not, do not add much value to Wikipedia. Sure, they need some content in order to maintain the appearance of an encyclopedia, but they've already got that. At this point, what matters most to them is how many people they can suck in, and cantankerous content editors don't help at all in that regard. Getting rid of them is a no-brainer.
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Herschelkrustofsky
post Mon 26th December 2011, 3:59pm
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QUOTE(Eppur si muove @ Sun 25th December 2011, 3:42pm) *


If one takes seriously Wikipedia's mission to create an encyclopedia, then before the faux-religious "5 pillars" should come a rule zero which should rule all administrative and functionary actions:

Before an admin, functionary or co-founder takes an action or decides not to do so, they must ask themselves this question "Will this particular action that I am considering help or hinder the development of a high-quality non-plagiarised encyclopedia that accurately reflects the most strongly evidenced facts rather than the opinions of cranks and people who have their own axes to grind?" If the former, go do it. If the latter, don't do it. If uncertain, seek some advice.


That's sort of a longwinded paraphrase of WP:IAR. The problem at WP is not the rules. It's the selective enforcement of the rules. I suspect that the rationale for that selective enforcement is similar to the argument you are making for "valued contributors"; in the case of SlimVirgin, for example, the reason her desysopping was temporary, when anyone else would probably have received the dreaded Community Ban, is that she was considered "valued." Another thing, therefore, which should be examined is the criteria for being considered "valued." Under present conditions it means you have racked up the most MMORPG points.
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melloden
post Mon 26th December 2011, 4:23pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 26th December 2011, 3:39pm) *

Content authors, cantankerous or not, do not add much value to Wikipedia. Sure, they need some content in order to maintain the appearance of an encyclopedia, but they've already got that. At this point, what matters most to them is how many people they can suck in, and cantankerous content editors don't help at all in that regard. Getting rid of them is a no-brainer.


Content authors don't mean much to the WMF, but they do mean more to Wikipedia than how many new users there are. Wikipedia has a bazillion shitty articles - we point them out on WR all the time - and it should be more useful to improve them rather than suck in more people. Of course, they're trying (and sometimes failing) to do both at once with the university outreach programs.
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mbz1
post Mon 26th December 2011, 4:47pm
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QUOTE(melloden @ Mon 26th December 2011, 4:23pm) *

QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 26th December 2011, 3:39pm) *

Content authors, cantankerous or not, do not add much value to Wikipedia. Sure, they need some content in order to maintain the appearance of an encyclopedia, but they've already got that. At this point, what matters most to them is how many people they can suck in, and cantankerous content editors don't help at all in that regard. Getting rid of them is a no-brainer.


Content authors don't mean much to the WMF, but they do mean more to Wikipedia than how many new users there are. Wikipedia has a bazillion shitty articles - we point them out on WR all the time - and it should be more useful to improve them rather than suck in more people. Of course, they're trying (and sometimes failing) to do both at once with the university outreach programs.

I might be mistaking, but I got a feeling that the most profound contributors are usually too bright to spend the time on improving "shitty articles" written by somebody else. I believe the most profound contributors spend most time writing new articles or improving their own old ones.

I believe Kelly made some valid points. Even, if valued contributors are good for wikipedia, admins who block them seldom care about wikipedia. They mostly care what is the best way to demonstrate their power without loosing their tools.
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jd turk
post Mon 26th December 2011, 4:50pm
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Mon 26th December 2011, 12:03am) *

For example, let's say Malleus who wrote many good articles has a dispute with jd turk whose only contributions is reverting vandalism.
If Malleus is banned, or even simply gets upset over a short block and leaves, it will be a loss for wikipedia.
If jd turk is banned or is driven away by Malleus, it would not be so much of a loss because there are many other users who could revert vandalism.
It will be very unfair to treat the users differently, but on the other hand to let Malleus go could be unfair towards wikipedia readers.


Here's the thing no one seems to want to acknowledge. Malleus (using one example) may be a good writer, but he's not unique. If he's banned because, just as an example, he knows his writing will grant him immunity when he rips other editors to shreds, then the encyclopedia won't shut down. It's a hive. It doesn't need a few really good contributors who are incapable of getting along with others. They need thousands of worker ants crawling all over the website, adding references and updating articles.

Their ongoing problems with retaining new editors, and keeping the old ones civil enough that talk pages don't turn into trolling internet forums go hand in hand.

WP doesn't want high-quality content. If they did, they'd hire high-quality writers. They want everyone in the world to contribute, regardless of ability, so everyone feels invested and will help a) add their content on articles they care about, and b) help pay for it.
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Peter Damian
post Mon 26th December 2011, 5:04pm
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QUOTE(jd turk @ Mon 26th December 2011, 4:50pm) *

It's a hive. It doesn't need a few really good contributors who are incapable of getting along with others. They need thousands of worker ants crawling all over the website, adding references and updating articles.


That would be fine if there really were thousands of worker ants adding references to the articles on Aristotle, Civilisation, Philosophy etc and improving them. But there aren't. The worker ants just link to the Latvian Wikipedia, or change one sort of hyphen into another, or correct a spelling mistake while leaving poor grammar, poor style and false claims uncorrected.

How experts explain to non-experts that there are serious problems with the quality of Wikipedia? Oh that's right, they can't, because they aren't experts. Silly me.

QUOTE

WP doesn't want high-quality content.


So we agree, then.

This post has been edited by Peter Damian: Mon 26th December 2011, 5:06pm
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mbz1
post Mon 26th December 2011, 5:13pm
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QUOTE(Peter Damian @ Mon 26th December 2011, 5:04pm) *

QUOTE(jd turk @ Mon 26th December 2011, 4:50pm) *

It's a hive. It doesn't need a few really good contributors who are incapable of getting along with others. They need thousands of worker ants crawling all over the website, adding references and updating articles.


That would be fine if there really were thousands of worker ants adding references to the articles on Aristotle, Civilisation, Philosophy etc and improving them. But there aren't. The worker ants just link to the Latvian Wikipedia, or change one sort of hyphen into another, or correct a spelling mistake while leaving poor grammar, poor style and false claims uncorrected.

How experts explain to non-experts that there are serious problems with the quality of Wikipedia? Oh that's right, they can't, because they aren't experts. Silly me.




Wikipedia's treatment of valued contributors reminds to me a Russian poem (sorry for my translation)
QUOTE
Nuggets are thrown off a cliff,
Our gold is dullness.
We need no talents,
we only need dullness.
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Kelly Martin
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:00pm
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QUOTE(melloden @ Mon 26th December 2011, 10:23am) *
Content authors don't mean much to the WMF, but they do mean more to Wikipedia than how many new users there are. Wikipedia has a bazillion shitty articles - we point them out on WR all the time - and it should be more useful to improve them rather than suck in more people.
Your statements are all predicated on the notion that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Since your premise is erroneous, your conclusions are unsound. Wikipedia is a social network, not an encyclopedia, and as a social network the thing that matters most is how many people you can suck in. It's actually in their interest to have lots of sucky articles: the urge to improve suckitude is a big motivator for sucking people in.

Simply put, Wikipedia doesn't really want good articles. They want lots and lots of middling and even bad articles, with just enough good articles that they can make a show about quality. If overall quality rose too high, too many people would be scared off from participation ("There's no way I could ever write anything that good"). Wikipedia isn't about educating poor children in Africa or anywhere else, or even about knowledge generally. No, indeed, the main mission of Wikipedia is spreading WikiLove.
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TungstenCarbide
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:24pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 26th December 2011, 6:00pm) *

QUOTE(melloden @ Mon 26th December 2011, 10:23am) *
Content authors don't mean much to the WMF, but they do mean more to Wikipedia than how many new users there are. Wikipedia has a bazillion shitty articles - we point them out on WR all the time - and it should be more useful to improve them rather than suck in more people.
Your statements are all predicated on the notion that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Since your premise is erroneous, your conclusions are unsound. Wikipedia is a social network, not an encyclopedia, and as a social network the thing that matters most is how many people you can suck in. It's actually in their interest to have lots of sucky articles: the urge to improve suckitude is a big motivator for sucking people in.

Simply put, Wikipedia doesn't really want good articles. They want lots and lots of middling and even bad articles, with just enough good articles that they can make a show about quality. If overall quality rose too high, too many people would be scared off from participation ("There's no way I could ever write anything that good"). Wikipedia isn't about educating poor children in Africa or anywhere else, or even about knowledge generally. No, indeed, the main mission of Wikipedia is spreading WikiLove.


Wikipedia, and Jimbo in particular, has followed the path of least resistance - trading popularity for quality. This is demonstrated by a lack of experiments or projects that address quality. Without the framework or ability to create something of durable quality, few capable writers will waste their time. As I've mentioned before, it would be trivial to start any number of experiments that sends vetted articles to a new domain until their next vetting, or to publish a book or magazine of good work. But Wikipedia is both lazy and lacks leadership. Jimbo, in particular, is a leadership negative by virtue of his slovenly nature. How many times have you heard Jimbo say 'I'll look into it', never to be heard on the topic again. As the English Wikipedia's leader he should be working on editor retention, starting a critical mass of editors that are interested in doing quality work, and then trying to attract high quality editors that currently won't waste their time at Wikipedia. Of special note, Jimbo doesn't seem to get along with the project's best writers, and that is telling in several ways.

This post has been edited by TungstenCarbide: Mon 26th December 2011, 7:12pm
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Eppur si muove
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:27pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Mon 26th December 2011, 3:59pm) *

QUOTE(Eppur si muove @ Sun 25th December 2011, 3:42pm) *


If one takes seriously Wikipedia's mission to create an encyclopedia, then before the faux-religious "5 pillars" should come a rule zero which should rule all administrative and functionary actions:

Before an admin, functionary or co-founder takes an action or decides not to do so, they must ask themselves this question "Will this particular action that I am considering help or hinder the development of a high-quality non-plagiarised encyclopedia that accurately reflects the most strongly evidenced facts rather than the opinions of cranks and people who have their own axes to grind?" If the former, go do it. If the latter, don't do it. If uncertain, seek some advice.


That's sort of a longwinded paraphrase of WP:IAR. The problem at WP is not the rules. It's the selective enforcement of the rules. I suspect that the rationale for that selective enforcement is similar to the argument you are making for "valued contributors"; in the case of SlimVirgin, for example, the reason her desysopping was temporary, when anyone else would probably have received the dreaded Community Ban, is that she was considered "valued." Another thing, therefore, which should be examined is the criteria for being considered "valued." Under present conditions it means you have racked up the most MMORPG points.


But selective enforcement need not be nepotism. A lot of systems do include judgement as an essential part of the process.

The definitions of disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association all contain a condition to the effect of "the symptoms ... cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" (The wording varies slightly between different disorders, or at least they did in DSM IV, the version that was current when I was trained as a social worker and that I have at home.)

Much legislation in England and Wales requires that someone operating under it take into account "all the circumstances of the case". So when I was an Approved Social Worker considering whether to detain someone under the Mental Health Act 1983, I had to decide not only whether the person was mad, but whether detaining (or "sectioning") them was the best action in all the circumstances of the case. One time I was assessing a religious Christian on 23rd December. She was clearly psychotic but I decided that I should take the importance of Christmas to her into account as one of the circumstances of the case. (I think the daughter wanted a quiet Christmas and that this was why she had made the referral to us at that time. She was still happy to use her mother as a babysitter for her own children.) So, I said no to the psychiatrist who wanted to detain her. (The GP who was the third member of our decision-making group didn't want to detain her but was persuadable.) In January the three of us went back and, despite a valiant effort on her part to say how important she attended the visit to her church of an evangelical speaker from the US, all three of us agreed that now was the time to section her.

So what I say in my "long-winded paraphrase" is actually what is embedded into a lot of professional systems as the way of doing things. The Crown Prosecution Service has a similar criterion of only bringing a case if it is in "the public interest" to do so. The public interest equivalent in Wikipedia is whether Malleus's contributions are so valuable that it is not in the long-term interest of readers of Wikipedia that he is blocked or banned.

What you are complaining about is favouritism and self-interest. The admins you accuse are considering "do I like this person?" and "will taking this action have repercussions for me?" This is something else completely. After I decided not to section this woman above, I had a nightmare about her jumping off the roof of the block of flats in which she lived. All people deciding whether to section someone know perfectly well that they will never end up on the front page of the Daily Mail for taking away someone's liberty when it was necessary but they might if they decide not to section the person and they go on to do something dreadful. Most are professional and try to set that consideration aside.

Unfortunately a lot of people are not mature enough to be able to differentiate between a decision in the public interest and nepotism. And that applies both to those taking the decisions and those commenting on them.
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Malleus
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:29pm
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QUOTE(Kelly Martin @ Mon 26th December 2011, 6:00pm) *
Simply put, Wikipedia doesn't really want good articles. They want lots and lots of middling and even bad articles, with just enough good articles that they can make a show about quality. If overall quality rose too high, too many people would be scared off from participation ("There's no way I could ever write anything that good").

That's a very interesting point that hadn't occurred to me.
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Eppur si muove
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:33pm
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QUOTE(mbz1 @ Mon 26th December 2011, 5:13pm) *

Wikipedia's treatment of valued contributors reminds to me a Russian poem (sorry for my translation)
QUOTE
Nuggets are thrown off a cliff,
Our gold is dullness.
We need no talents,
we only need dullness.



Good quote. Very Russian. I can imagine Shostakovitch or Mussorgsky setting it for bass voice.

This post has been edited by Eppur si muove: Mon 26th December 2011, 7:18pm
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mbz1
post Mon 26th December 2011, 6:59pm
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QUOTE(Eppur si muove @ Mon 26th December 2011, 6:33pm) *

QUOTE(mbz1 @ Mon 26th December 2011, 5:13pm) *

Wikipedia's treatment of valued contributors reminds to me a Russian poem (sorry for my translation)
QUOTE
Nuggets are thrown off a cliff,
Our gold is dullness.
We need no talents,
we only need dullness.



Good quote. Very Russian. I can imagine Shostakovitch or Mussiogsky setting it for bass voice.

You would laugh, but this "very Russian" quote, and it is Russian, was taken from a poem about Robert Kennedy, it was USA the author wrote about that they do not need talents.

Of course this author could not have written such poem about Soviet Union without risking being send to a mental hospital, but knowing this author, I am sure this poem was about Soviet Union much more than it was about USA. In Soviet Union every smart person was able to read between the lines. This ability often helped us to cope with the regime.

This post has been edited by mbz1: Mon 26th December 2011, 7:01pm
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