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Herschelkrustofsky
post Sun 5th February 2012, 4:41pm
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There is a new debate about what might more accurately be described as POV Battleground articles, and it is to be found at Wikipedia:Advocacy articles (T-H-L-K-D). The good news is that they are actually trying to formulate some sort of response to the problem, and among the suggestions are various types of disclaimer labels that warn the reader to expect opinion, not fact. That, IMO, would be a step in the right direction. In other words, abandon the pretense of being an "encyclopedia."
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iii
post Sun 5th February 2012, 5:33pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 11:41am) *

The good news is that they are actually trying to formulate some sort of response to the problem, and among the suggestions are various types of disclaimer labels that warn the reader to expect opinion, not fact.


rolleyes.gif Yeah, that'll work.

All this will do is increase the fighting over which articles get adorned with the bar sinister.
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Herschelkrustofsky
post Sun 5th February 2012, 7:27pm
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I have a simple solution for that: any article where there is fighting gets the bar. Any article where there is not unanimous agreement on NPOV gets the bar. In fact, the bar should be the default setting.
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Abd
post Sun 5th February 2012, 8:00pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 11:41am) *
There is a new debate about what might more accurately be described as POV Battleground articles, and it is to be found at Wikipedia:Advocacy articles (T-H-L-K-D). The good news is that they are actually trying to formulate some sort of response to the problem, and among the suggestions are various types of disclaimer labels that warn the reader to expect opinion, not fact. That, IMO, would be a step in the right direction. In other words, abandon the pretense of being an "encyclopedia."
Some good stuff there. I wrote about this extensively, years ago. "POV-pushing" is practically inevitable, particularly because we can have trouble distinguishing our own POV, particularly when we believe that others share it.

The anti-fringe cabal was fairly open about this, claiming that the project should not have NPOV as a standard, but, at least with science articles, "SPOV," i.e, "scientific point of view." The problem was that there is no "scientific point of view." Science, as a method, rigorously avoids "point of view." SPOV was promoted by pseudo-skeptics, skeptics who believe that their own point of view is "scientific," while attacking "believers" who have differing points of view. Real skeptics are also skeptical of their own beliefs. Real skepticism is essential to science, and the maxim of real scientists is "don't fool yourself." Pseudoskeptics don't apply this to themselves, instead they cheerfully advise -- and demand -- others not to fool themselves by believing that nonsense.

Cold fusion was a test case, in fact, because it's a situation where the "majority of scientists" might still believe that cold fusion was conclusively rejected over twenty years ago. But that's an ordinary point of view, and it is not found in peer-reviewed secondary sources, i.e., peer-reviewed journals, in reviews of the field, written by the knowledgeable on the specific topic, and reviewed by experts on review panels. I became very familiar with the sources, and the skeptical point of view on cold fusion (i.e., total rejection, with a long list of very old arguments, many of which were never true, some of which were true for a time, but overtaken by events) has almost totally disappeared from peer-reviewed journals, with continuing publication, accelerating, of positive reviews that confirm that there is an anomaly, and, most importantly, from my point of view, that there is now conclusive evidence that the anomaly is nuclear in nature.

What I found was that editors who were willing to read the sources were generally friendly to the possibility of cold fusion, and this included scientists, such as Fritzpoll, who would understand the sources. But other editors, some of which were knowledgeable scientists *in their own fields*, wouldn't even look at the sources, yet were entirely convinced -- and acted on the belief -- that cold fusion was utter, impossible bogosity.

And the practical implications (Cheap Energy!) were a huge distraction. The pseudo-skeptics simply believed that anyone reporting positive results from cold fusion experimentation was distracted by visions of free energy. That has nothing to do with the science. It was obvious, from the first two years of work in this field, that cold fusion was a marginal phenomenon, at least at first, something very difficult to set up. The Japanese spent a great deal of money trying to make this commercializable, and failed, they gave up, not because the phenomenon did not exist, but because controlling it was quite elusive. Classic cold fusion phenomenon: one runs ten cells, all seemingly identical. One or two show clear anomalous heat, the rest show nothing.

(Over the years, techniques have been developed that show more reliable results, up to 100% pf attempts, and I've seen some work, under preparation for publication, by a major researcher, showing *accurate predictions of excess heat*, based on experimental conditions. That could lead to far better control than has been possible in the past. There is also the possibility that Andrea Rossi of Italy (Energy Catalyzer) is not a con artist and that his results are real. I've cautioned researchers against lending any credibility to Rossi, beyond supporting independent testing. Which has not happened, as far as we can tell. Rossi looks like a con, that's obvious. But sometimes appearances are deceiving, and there are commercial reasons for him to, on the one hand, announce his results, and, on the other, to appear to be a liar. If that's his goal, he's succeeded brilliantly! Rossi is claiming results in the kilowatt range, whereas other work is lucky to find a watt. -- milliwatts can be measured.)

Now, would such an experimental series be a confirmation of cold fusion or a rejection? It would depend on the data. If the heat data was close to the noise, it might be negative. On the other hand, if the heat was unmistakeable, clear, it would be confirmation. What iced it was when it was discovered that, in an experimental series like this, accompanied by measurements of helium, the helium was only found in the cells producing excess heat, and the amount found was consistent with the heat of fusion of deuterium to helium. That's, by now, a massively confirmed result. It's unmistakeable, and had this been known in 1989-1990, the outcome of the reviews then would have been very different. Instead, lots of researchers looked for both helium and heat, and found neither. As expected! It turns out that, with what is now known about the reaction conditions, negative results would be expected. They did not achieve high enough loading ratio, and this is all now obvious. This was a very difficult experiment in electrochemistry, a field far more difficult than the nuclear physicists expected.

And it does not show, at all, that there is "free energy" here. That's from palladium deuteride experiments, the absolute amount of heat is low, the output/input power ratio is low, not nearly enough for self-sustain, and palladium is really expensive. There are Japanese demonstrations of excess power from gas-loading, apparently quite reliable, and I figured that with $100,000 worth of palladium, you could build a home hot water heater that might work for a few weeks. Shall we say, "not ready for prime time"?)

The conditions of cold fusion, the history, makes it easy for those who don't read the literature to conclude that this is bogus. But if Wikipedia were following the guidelines established for fringe science topics, there wouldn't be a problem. (I contended that cold fusion had actually moved out of the fringe science category, into "emerging science," but I never insisted on that.) The SPOV crowd, however, reject the guidelines, generally, and that's how they acted, consistently, working to exclude anything they didn't agree with. "SPOV," in practice, was "MPOV," majority point of view, with the "majority" group being them and those they could sway.

Yes, they did this with climate change articles as well. In that case, "SPOV" was the views of the cabal. I happen to support the general position of the cabal, i.e., that there is AGW, anthoropogenic global warming, and that it's a serious problem, but worked, still, with the Global Warming article, to show fairly what was in the sources. The cabal did not want interpretation left to the readers, they wanted to incorporate their own interpretation in the article. The IPCC panel, when it wrote that evidence for AGW was "strong" (I forget the actual word used, this could be found in archives for Talk:Global warming), had a list of definitions of the terms used for its conclusions. Since the meanings of the words were different from ordinary usage, those meanings were important to understanding the IPCC conclusions, yet adding explicit language from the IPCC document was reverted. Too much detail. It was blatant POV bias, causing the conclusions from the IPCC to appear stronger than they were.

Now, the basic problem. It should be clear that MPOV is not NPOV, though MPOV is more likely to be closer to neutral than "fringe point of view." If the decision-making structure is majoritarian, however, and given that a majority may think that its views are neutral, there is a problem. The problem is solved in workable social structures by creating rigorous precautions for the protection of minority views. I've concluded that the majority always has the right of decision, but any decision made by a mere majority cannot pretend to be "neutral." I've contended that neutrality is not an absolute condition of text, but rather neutrality is something that can be *measured,* at least roughly, by the percentage of a non-selected body of participants, informed, who support a position, vs those who oppose it. The higher the percentage, the higher the "measure" of neutrality. The goal should always be 100%, in an organization that values unity, or, in this case, neutrality.

That requires that discussion never be closed, not entirely, but it can be channeled, so that large numbers of participants don't need to discuss everything! Rather, discussions can take place in numbers as low as two.

What the design of the community should do is to set up unanimity as a goal, with majority rule as a decision-making method, with the goal of unanimity never being lost. Decisions made by mere majority are necessary, or else there is minority rule, in practice. Wikipedia incorporated a lot of ideas that made sense to those who didn't have experience with consensus organizations! So electing administrators by supermajority seemed a great idea, these administrators would "have the trust of the community." Unfortunately, this allowed a minority to consistently exclude anyone who would challenge them, so bias in the administrative community increased with time. Supermajority rules create minority rule whenever the status quo is opposed by a sufficiently powerful or motivated minority, and this is compounded by participation bias.

What I saw in confronting the cabal was that these administrators consistently rejected consensus as desirable, and they consistently opposed any move to firm up recusal policy. They were not at all aligned with a majority of Wikipedia editors, but they were able to keep discussions from showing this, usually. They could, by being better organized and better coordinated (which doesn't necessarily mean off-wiki coordination, it can simply be done with piles of watchlists, quite "naturally*) always defeat the creation of a consensus against them, and I saw discussions of alleged administrative abuse, where the actual voting was divided, cited by them as proof that there was no abuse. Since no conclusion of abuse, supported by a supermajority, was found. Looking at the votes, I'd see the same names as in many such discussions, whereas the votes on the other side mostly varied from discussion to discussion.... I documented a lot of this in RfAr/Abd-William M. Connolley. Ignored by ArbComm. Blanked. Ever wonder why that case was blanked? What was so horrible there, as to require that?

Lucky guess.

Structural problems, these people were just using the structure in ways that came naturally to them.
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Collect
post Sun 5th February 2012, 8:19pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 11:41am) *

There is a new debate about what might more accurately be described as POV Battleground articles, and it is to be found at Wikipedia:Advocacy articles (T-H-L-K-D). The good news is that they are actually trying to formulate some sort of response to the problem, and among the suggestions are various types of disclaimer labels that warn the reader to expect opinion, not fact. That, IMO, would be a step in the right direction. In other words, abandon the pretense of being an "encyclopedia."



Thanks for noting my essay -- feel free to comment on the others I have written (bearing in mind I have now been online for three decades and seen as much puerility on WP as on any place online in all that period).

Also note "Collect's Law"

"The person who posts the greatest amount of repeated verbiage to a discussion is least likely to be correct."

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Selina
post Sun 5th February 2012, 8:31pm
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They have a point, it's the same thing as with admin discussions etc where it's inevitable that cliques form, it's the same kind of psychology, the small group of people that edit Wikipedia are NEVER going to be representative of the entire world. The people who feel most strongly about issues follow and edit on those issues, because no one has time or wants to deal with everything.
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radek
post Sun 5th February 2012, 8:43pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 1:27pm) *

I have a simple solution for that: any article where there is fighting gets the bar. Any article where there is not unanimous agreement on NPOV gets the bar. In fact, the bar should be the default setting.


I'm fairly sympathetic to this suggestion, though I would probably make it a little less than unanimous. More warnings about the shortcomings and failures of Wikipedia content would probably be a good thing.
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iii
post Sun 5th February 2012, 10:28pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 2:27pm) *

I have a simple solution for that: any article where there is fighting gets the bar. Any article where there is not unanimous agreement on NPOV gets the bar. In fact, the bar should be the default setting.


wtf.gif Unanimity? I know of internet conspiracy theorists who dispute the veracity Maxwell's Equations and others who think that the US Internal Revenue Service is unconstitutional.

But I guess if your plan is to completely destroy Wikipedia, I'd get behind this easy to fuck with, lulz-trolling "rule".
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Cla68
post Sun 5th February 2012, 10:37pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Sun 5th February 2012, 7:27pm) *

I have a simple solution for that: any article where there is fighting gets the bar. Any article where there is not unanimous agreement on NPOV gets the bar. In fact, the bar should be the default setting.


That will screw a lot of people to the ceiling. You can expect a lot of content RfCs to occur over placement of the tag. Actually, however, that would probably be a good thing for WP's content quality, because it will attract increased attention to articles being controlled by small groups of activists.
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iii
post Sun 5th February 2012, 10:44pm
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QUOTE(Cla68 @ Sun 5th February 2012, 5:37pm) *

That will screw a lot of people to the ceiling. You can expect a lot of content RfCs to occur over placement of the tag. Actually, however, that would probably be a good thing for WP's content quality, because it will attract increased attention to articles being controlled by small groups of activists.


As well as those articles with content that are routinely attacked by small groups of activists. It would be interesting to see how many (or few) articles would escape such a designation. I'm guessing that almost all articles on Wikipedia with more than a few hundred words would qualify. As would such articles in many legitimate reference works. But, as I said, if you guys want to tilt at this windmill and try to get that website to create badges of shame that will encourage mayhem and self-immolation, I won't complain.
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Mister Die
post Sun 5th February 2012, 10:49pm
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Although there is always the issue of a few "cabal" individuals completely dominating an article or subject for their own purposes, it should be noted that there are also instances of others trying to take over articles/subjects and raising the banner of "NPOV" to accomplish this. They then proceed to run roughshod over the article(s) in question while constantly screaming "NPOV! NPOV!" and adding the tag and making it look like there's some sort of huge controversy that doesn't exist outside of the minds of a few activists.

That's why I think that the "this article may not be neutral" tag shouldn't exist, nor should anything similar to it. It's basically saying to the world "yeah, Wikipedia can't actually prevent stuff like this from happening because of its own inanities, so just watch your step, alright?" If anything a warning should emerge as a popup within the page when you visit Wikipedia for the first time, noting that because it's an "encyclopedia anyone can edit" that the content of an article can easily be unreliable, but then again I'd personally add "Wikipedia isn't actually a real encyclopedia" to begin with. As it stands the "NPOV" tag is just used as a weapon in the hands of activists one way or another.

This post has been edited by Mister Die: Sun 5th February 2012, 10:58pm
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papaya
post Mon 6th February 2012, 3:26pm
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QUOTE(Abd @ Sun 5th February 2012, 3:00pm) *

(Over the years, techniques have been developed that show more reliable results, up to 100% pf attempts, and I've seen some work, under preparation for publication, by a major researcher, showing *accurate predictions of excess heat*, based on experimental conditions. That could lead to far better control than has been possible in the past. There is also the possibility that Andrea Rossi of Italy (Energy Catalyzer) is not a con artist and that his results are real. I've cautioned researchers against lending any credibility to Rossi, beyond supporting independent testing. Which has not happened, as far as we can tell. Rossi looks like a con, that's obvious. But sometimes appearances are deceiving, and there are commercial reasons for him to, on the one hand, announce his results, and, on the other, to appear to be a liar. If that's his goal, he's succeeded brilliantly! Rossi is claiming results in the kilowatt range, whereas other work is lucky to find a watt. -- milliwatts can be measured.)


The only alternative to Rossi as a con artist is that he is an self-deluded idiot, not that this doesn't happen in the free energy field. Anyone that reviews the literature on this sort of thing can see that he fits the mold perfectly, in particular the weirdly contrived way he has of measuring that the thing is producing energy. I'd say it's a cinch that if the device were unplugged from the wall and made to supply its own power, it wouldn't work.
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Michaeldsuarez
post Mon 6th February 2012, 3:42pm
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http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=475380264:

QUOTE
Also an interesting topic, but a different topic. The idea that since there is unpaid advocacy, we should ignore the solvable problem of paid advocacy is a total non sequitur.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] ([[User talk:Jimbo Wales#top|talk]]) 11:48, 6 February 2012 (UTC)


http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=475407006:

QUOTE
I agree. That's why it is important and valuable to clarify policy around paid advocacy - it's achievable and it will work. Unpaid advocacy is a different problem, also worthy of attention, but usually when people make your point they are asking the community to either lump the two together or to give up in despair. I see zero relevance. They are different problems, and they need different solutions.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] ([[User talk:Jimbo Wales#top|talk]]) 15:25, 6 February 2012 (UTC)


How's paid advocacy more "solvable" than unpaid advocacy? Both unpaid and paid editors will use anonymity to game the system. Are they simply going to going to put up a sign that says, "Paid advocacy isn't allowed." How will that solve anything? It'll only force paid editing to go underground (i.e. into anonymity), just as banning the drug trade only forced the drug trade to go underground rather than eradicate it.

Jimbo's second comment is in response to the anon's comment of "Paid advocates, by contrast, are usually doing a job, and often have a reputation to protect." What about anonymous paid editors? Will outing and invasion of privacy be tolerated?

This post has been edited by Michaeldsuarez: Mon 6th February 2012, 4:03pm
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Herschelkrustofsky
post Mon 6th February 2012, 3:51pm
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QUOTE(Mister Die @ Sun 5th February 2012, 2:49pm) *

Although there is always the issue of a few "cabal" individuals completely dominating an article or subject for their own purposes, it should be noted that there are also instances of others trying to take over articles/subjects and raising the banner of "NPOV" to accomplish this. They then proceed to run roughshod over the article(s) in question while constantly screaming "NPOV! NPOV!" and adding the tag and making it look like there's some sort of huge controversy that doesn't exist outside of the minds of a few activists.

That's why I think that the "this article may not be neutral" tag shouldn't exist, nor should anything similar to it. It's basically saying to the world "yeah, Wikipedia can't actually prevent stuff like this from happening because of its own inanities, so just watch your step, alright?" If anything a warning should emerge as a popup within the page when you visit Wikipedia for the first time, noting that because it's an "encyclopedia anyone can edit" that the content of an article can easily be unreliable, but then again I'd personally add "Wikipedia isn't actually a real encyclopedia" to begin with. As it stands the "NPOV" tag is just used as a weapon in the hands of activists one way or another.


I'm thinking more from the standpoint of what would be beneficial to the unsuspecting reader who is searching for reliable information. Obviously, from the standpoint of the internal WikiMMORPGist scene, it just becomes another tactical issue.

I would also note that there are probably thousands of WP articles which are non-controversial and probably quite helpful to people who are interested in those topics.
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Abd
post Mon 6th February 2012, 4:00pm
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QUOTE(papaya @ Mon 6th February 2012, 10:26am) *
The only alternative to Rossi as a con artist is that he is an self-deluded idiot, not that this doesn't happen in the free energy field. Anyone that reviews the literature on this sort of thing can see that he fits the mold perfectly, in particular the weirdly contrived way he has of measuring that the thing is producing energy. I'd say it's a cinch that if the device were unplugged from the wall and made to supply its own power, it wouldn't work.
Unfortunately -- or fortunately, don't know which! -- those are not the only two options. I understand why you'd think that. Rossi looks like a liar and con artist, and I could show a lot of evidence where I think most would agree. However, this is the problem:

For various political and historical reasons, getting a patent on anything involving LENR (low energy nuclear reactions) can be somewhere between difficult and impossible. Even if it works. Rossi, then, if we postulate that he actually found something, is depending on secrecy. Further, there are already many groups around the world trying to reverse-engineer this, proceeding on various hints. The better Rossi looks, the more power will be applied in attempting to figure out his secret, the more likely it becomes. Yet he needed to find support. So he may have decided to announce his work, keep the actual process secret, and make himself look like a con artist. Or he is *socially deluded*.

There are some people whose understanding of the possibility of Nickel-Hydrogen LENR is such that they think Rossi did find something. Note that there is substantial independent evidence for such reactions, and what would be new about Rossi's work, if it's real, is that he found a way to scale the reactions up and maintain control, or at least some level of control.

Prior work was mostly kept at lower power levels, and not only because of difficulty. These reactions have tended to be quite unpredictable in terms of power output, so, ever since Pons and Fleischmann, from a PdD sample that was not large (1 cm. cubed), experienced a meltdown, where palladium was apparently vaporized and a hole burned in the lab bench and down into a concrete floor, work has been miniaturized, awaiting better control.

Rossi's reactor would make a spectacular pipe bomb, if there is a runaway reaction. His control method involves running on the edge of that, and that could be why he doesn't take the conditions into self-sustain. It looks like Defkalion is using a different control approach, perhaps varying hydrogen pressure, and they are claiming self-sustain, running at higher temperatures, but, again, Defkalion is also relying on secrecy at this point. That may change.

One of the possibilities that explains Rossi's situation would be that he really doesn't have good control. He did scale up, but output is quite variable. And some inventors, faced with a problem like this, will fudge results, particularly as they start to run out of money. And that shades into self-delusion and fraud.

The bottom line about Rossi: we don't know. He may know, some people close to him may know, or not. But he sure looks like a fraud, there are lots of reasons to think that, and he might be one.

Rossi is irrelevant when it comes to the science, and Wikipedia coverage of LENR (i.e, the cold fusion article), except as to "news." Rossi's theoretical explanations of what he's found are not accepted by most in the field, including those who think he found something. Many think he's a fraud. He certainly has a poor track record of predictions matching actual outcomes. He confidently announced that it would all be over by October, with his planned delivery of a megawatt power plant (to Defkalion). That didn't happen. He's demonstrated a megawatt, but not in any way that gives confidence, it all, in the end, depends heavily on "trust me," and he's so obviously untrustworthy that this fails.

My worry about Rossi, which I began expressing from the beginning of the public flap early last year, was that LENR researchers would publicly support Rossi, thus risking the reputation of the entire field on someone who might be a scammer. Most researchers have held back, as I advised, I know of only one major researcher who thinks Rossi is real and says so, at least privately. And then there is our friend Brian Josephson, who is, shall we say, bullish on Rossi as well. It's a choice, no position here can be absolutely ruled out.

Wikipedia articles on science should be based on peer-reviewed secondary sources, where there is controversy, otherwise tertiary sources may be used as well, i.e., for well-known stuff. Not all articles and not all sections of articles are about "science," though, and there is lots of news coverage of Rossi. It should be made clear in the Rossi article that there is no accepted science involved, beyond whatever scientific acceptance there is for LENR in general. (For example, there is peer-reviewed secondary source on NiH LENR, a little. The article should *not* state that it is scientifically impossible that there is heat being generated. But attributed opinions to that effect, cited in independent secondary sources, can be given.)

The pseudo-skeptics, unfortunately, generally want the articles to state skeptical positions as if they were established scientific fact. That violates NPOV. They don't trust readers, they imagine them to be gullible. And they imagine that their own opinions are "established scientific fact."
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Abd
post Mon 6th February 2012, 4:34pm
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QUOTE(Michaeldsuarez @ Mon 6th February 2012, 10:42am) *
url=http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=475380975&oldid=475380264]http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=475380264[/url]:
QUOTE
Also an interesting topic, but a different topic. The idea that since there is unpaid advocacy, we should ignore the solvable problem of paid advocacy is a total non sequitur.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] ([[User talk:Jimbo Wales#top|talk]]) 11:48, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=...oldid=475407006:
QUOTE
I agree. That's why it is important and valuable to clarify policy around paid advocacy - it's achievable and it will work. Unpaid advocacy is a different problem, also worthy of attention, but usually when people make your point they are asking the community to either lump the two together or to give up in despair. I see zero relevance. They are different problems, and they need different solutions.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] ([[User talk:Jimbo Wales#top|talk]]) 15:25, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
How's paid advocacy more "solvable" than unpaid advocacy? Both unpaid and paid editors will use anonymity to game the system. Are they simply going to going to put up a sign that says, "Paid advocacy isn't allowed." How will that solve anything?
Jimbo's comment is amazingly naive. The problem isn't "paid" or "unpaid," the problem is advocacy that leads to editing outside the bounds of consensus and neutrality.

It is no easier to "solve the problem" of paid editing than to solve the problem of advocacy editing that isn't paid. The "paid" is actually irrelevant. Someone who behaves as an advocate can be identified as that from the editing. "Paid," if not voluntarily disclosed, requires outing. If "paid" were irrelevant, "outing" would become unnecessary, except possible as to identifying socks, which is a form of outing. And that might, itself, be made irrelevant by better decision-making structure.

"Paid editing" is not actually a problem, except that there is an assumption that a paid editor will *improperly* advocate. Thus the real problem is improper advocacy, and that problem damages the project whether the editor is paid or not, and, my sense, unpaid editors as advocates generally do far more real damage to the project than paid ones. If "paid editors" were to disclose COI, and if that disclosure was protective, provided they behaved within reasonable COI boundaries, the problem of "paid editing" would disappear. The problem of advocacy editing is more difficult, and Wikipedia tends to get it wrong, banning editors for advocacy.

Yet it has lots of editors within the administrative cabal, and protected by the cabal, who do advocate, but who escape sanctions, because their advocacy doesn't fall into a neat, easily provable domain.

The fundamental problem is lack of efficient and sane and fair decision-making structure, and Jimbo is not showing any interest in solving that problem, he seems to be waiting for the "community" to come up with it, but the community that was created is structurally incapable of solving the problem, it will, by its nature, resist the necessary changes. That's been obvious for a long time.

Going after paid editors only seems doable. Sorry, under present conditions, a paid editor has a high motivation to keep it private, thus necessitating, if you are going to go after it, a huge waste of time, and conflict with privacy policy, etc. I think that there is, involved here, a dislike of paid editors, that they are somehow inferior to volunteers, which turns the whole "professional" concept on its head. As I've written, through extensive experience with nonprofits *and* with for-profit business, the most cutthroat behavior, I've seen has been in nonprofits, where people can believe that whatever they do is justified as being "for a good cause." People will sacrifice their lives for a "good cause," they will kill for it, but only a few will do these things for pay, mostly sociopaths who will do practically anything, they might kill you for a cigarette.

I'll also point out that Jimbo seems to be assuming that Wikipedia is successful in detecting paid editing. Probably not. It only detects the clumsy ones. It's entirely possible that there are paid administrators, and there is no way to tell. Sophisticated paid administrators would not behave as it seems the naive expect. They would only act improperly when they have sufficient cover. Otherwise they would behave as pillars of the project. (It's even possible, then, that they would do more good than harm. Depends on who is paying them and for what.)

Unpaid advocate administrators would be more likely to persist beyond this point, since they believe they are right. They will more readily fall into incivility and tendentious debate. It is possible that there are a few advocate administrators, with a serious nonprofit agenda, who have concealed that. More often, the agenda is quite visible, all that it takes is examining the history. JzG, for example, was blatantly acting-while-involved, as was shown beyond doubt in RfAr/Abd and JzG. He didn't stop, by the way, ArbComm's sanctions, like many sanctions, were effectively useless for lack of enforcement. JzG's agenda was personal, it came out of, I suspect, a desire for revenge for perceived humiliations. But he thought of it, I'm sure, as getting rid of those biased POV-pushers, and other enemies; he'd think they were enemies of the project, and, of course, anyone who became his enemy must be an enemy of the project, since le projet, c'est moi.

(Note that in these case names, including RfAr/Abd-William M. Connolley, the matter was treated as if it were a personal conflict between myself and JzG. The belief that conflicts are necessarily personal (on both sides) infects a lot of ArbComm decisions. It was only because I was actually neutral as to the facts of that first case, my involvement only arose post-facto, and because the evidence was crystal clear and easily understandable, that ArbComm was easy on me. The revealed email discussions showed that, if they had had sufficient cover, I'd have been toast with that RfAr. I was, myself, naive. I thought they were simply responding rationally, and imagined that ArbComm was more trustworthy, wiser and deeper, than it actually was. So I proceeded with the belief that a fair decision was likely from ArbComm. Mistake.)
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iii
post Mon 6th February 2012, 5:42pm
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QUOTE(Herschelkrustofsky @ Mon 6th February 2012, 10:51am) *

I'm thinking more from the standpoint of what would be beneficial to the unsuspecting reader who is searching for reliable information.


This issue is one near-and-dear to my heart. My current belief is that what would be best would be a complete take-down of the site leaving the pieces to be picked up by the scattered remains of a free-culture contingent trying to figure out what went wrong. In my most giddy moments, I dream of something like a number of million-dollar defamation lawsuits litigated in parallel. Note that the WMF has deliberately cushioned themselves with some pretty deep pockets, no doubt to protect themselves from this eventuality, so it will need to be a concerted effort akin to the Church of Scientology's successful take-down of the Cult Awareness Network.

That would be my dream scenario. I don't think it's likely to happen, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

As for your proposal, I don't think it would have any impact on consumers of Wikipedia. I form this opinion on the basis of discussions I've lead with various academically-inclined undergraduates as to how they view Wikipedia. Anecdotally, these consumers of Wikipedia's content tell me that they understand the crowdsourcing approach has reliability issues, but they don't care since they see Wikipedia as a means to get a free and quick an "introduction to..." a particular topic rather than a comprehensive or unimpeachable source. When particular problems associated with the reliability of Wikipedia are brought to their attention, they tend to shrug them off. They are also keenly aware that Wikipedia has an enormous plagiarism quotient, but that also doesn't really bother them either. They see Wikipedia as doing the legwork of informal research for them: Wikipedia collects all the dredged-up and dubious content found on the world wide web with a Google search, but reading Wikipedia doesn't require their lazy asses to actually narrow the search for themselves. It also removes the issue of discriminating between good and bad sources. If they are serious about research, for example writing a paper for a class, they treat Wikipedia as a kind of annotated DMOZ. Otherwise, they just take the grain of salt with the content, laugh at the errors, and move along.

In short, these passive consumers of Wikipedia content are largely aware of the problems but essentially do not care because they like the convenience.

This is why I believe the correct answer to be, if your goal is to promote critical thinking among the masses, take away the security blanket altogether.

QUOTE

I would also note that there are probably thousands of WP articles which are non-controversial and probably quite helpful to people who are interested in those topics.


Depends on who you talk to, obviously. For example, Wikipedia's coverage of Einstein's theories of relativity is not all that bad, but there are members of this very forum who have elsewhere intimated that they think it to be controversial. For nearly any idea, no matter how non-controversial it is in the larger world, you can find a crackpot willing to argue against it.

This post has been edited by iii: Mon 6th February 2012, 5:48pm
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