[EM] Notabililty

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Mar 9 16:32:11 PST 2012

At 12:53 PM 3/9/2012, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:

>You wrote:
>On Wikipedia they remove articles if you can't show sources to argue that
>the topic is important enough to have an article.
>But do you see anything wrong with that? Are "sources" needed for everything?

Yes. There. You may get away with unsourced text, but it's unstable 
and won't last if noticed.

>So they're saying that not having to bury your favorite candidate 
>isn't important
>unless it says so in an academic journal?  :-)

That's right. "Important" is a judgment. Who makes the judgment?

Now, let's get this straight. Wikipedia is a human institution. There 
are two ways of looking at Wikipedia:
Normative: the policies and guidelines. Wikipedia's are not the only 
possibility for an encyclopedia, but if they had good implmentation 
and enforcement, they aren't bad. The statement about unsorced text is policy.
The Reality: actual practice, which can deviate widely. In 
particular, if you are in with the in-crowd, you may be able to get 
away with a great deal that is contrary to policy and guidelines.

>Could it be that someone at wikipedia has their head up their a**?

Sure. There are lots of those. However, here, open up your eyes, you 
might notice that your head is in a dark place. Basically, an 
encyclopedia has to have a way of determining notability and 
reliability. It's done with traditional encyclopedias through 
responsible editors, retained by the publisher, and they may hire 
expert writers.

Wikipedia had to have a way to do this with crowd-sourcing. So what 
they essentially did was punt. The decisions are made by independent 
publishers, meeting certain criteria. It's not necessarily "academic 
journals," you made that up. But they would be an example of reliable source.
The source on FBC turns out to be a wiki (electowiki, and wikis are, 
in general, not reliable sources), and a mailing list -- this one, 
also not reliable. Look, Mike, you are really an expert, but ... how 
is *Wikipedia*, the community, supposed to judge that. I'll tell you 
how they judge.

If an independent publisher publishes a book by you, then what you 
write about voting systems could be put in Wikipdia, being now based 
on reliable source, as determined by Wikipedia policies. That 
publisher can't be a special publisher cobbed together just to 
publish you, nor can it be some fringe outfit. When you want to get 
down to nitty-gritty details, it can get really arcane, and the 
process is unreliable, i.e., a decision may go one way one day and 
quite the opposite another.

But the basic concept of the policy is sound, for what they were trying to do.

It's the implementation that truly sucks, when there is controversy.

>And, in general, is that the same for everything? Does the validity 
>of everything
>depend on its being validated by an academic?

No. That was made up. Reliable sources. Media sources, for example. 
Poundstone is reliable source.

"Reliable" doesn't mean reliable, by the way. The words are not used 
by Wikipedians in their ordinary meaning. A reliable source for 
Wikipedia can be quite unreliable, in fact. Issues around that are 
dealt with by editorial consensus, or whoever has the biggest ... 
biggest .... Ah, whoever is bold enough and connected enough and hung 
enough to prevail. It can work, sometimes. If it didn't work 
sometimes, it would have collapsed long ago.
If a source is suspected of not *actually* being reliable, the 
material might be attributed. "According to ...."

Now, it is not impossible that your ravings, er, your expert opinions 
on this list could be quoted on Wikipedia, under some conditions. 
You'd first have to be established as a notable expert in the field. 
It's not easy to do that, Mike. If you were covered as such by 
Poundstone, more than just in passing, it might suffice. Being 
published (in print) can do it, though it's not necessarily enough.

Look, if I could have saved the FBC article, I would have. There were 
other more "notable" election methods articles that went down, and I 
could only do so much.

The real point is that Wikipedia is not what many people expect it to 
be. The words in "Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, 
the sum of all human knowledge," must be understood specially. For 
example, "sum of all" doesn't mean "all." It means "summary of all" 
Just the notable bits.

>I'm not criticizing all academics. In mathematics, physics and other 
>physical sciences,
>I have no quarrel with the authority of academics.
>But a sweeping worship of academic authority in general is 
>unproductive for progress
>of any kind.

There is no worship of academic authority there, but academic 
authority is preferred for articles on science, generally. Get 
published or covered in newspapers, it's adequate, unless it's your 
local throwaway.

>There are areas where academic authority is questionable at best. 
>Have you every looked
>at what academic philosophers write? You'd be surprised how 
>nearly-uniformly muddled and
>befuddled they are. Voting system academics are similar. I'm sorry, 
>but the metaphor
>of "head up the a**" is unavoidable when the subject of voting 
>system academics comes up.

You know more than most any "academic authority" on voting systems. 
So? How does Wikipedia determine that? On the authority of Abd?

I'm banned, you know. Long story. I deliberately mooned them. Glad I 
did, too. Has saved me an *enormous* amount of time, Wikipedia is a 
huge trap, where appearances can be vastly deceiving.

Nice place to visit, sometimes, but I found out I really don't want 
to live there. It's a cesspool, as a community.

>I'm disappointed to hear that about wikipedia.

Like many naive about Wikipedia, it doesn't match your expectations. 
But the problem is not the policies you don't like -- and which you 
don't understand -- the problem is that there is no reliable 
implementation of them.

The kind of study you want can be published on Wikiversity. I invited 
a lot of people to go there when I was an administrator. I'm 
currently blocked there, but not banned, and all it would take is a 
couple of people who wanted me back and I'd be there. I ran into an 
abusive bureaucrat, and he knew that if he didn't stop me, he'd 
probably be history. So he did, he used his tools in a totally 
improper way, and I could prove it. But I realized that there was no 
there there.

The Wikiversity was way too weak. Not worth the effort, my opinion. 
But people could get me back there by asking for it.

Wikiversity allows original research. You could create articles on 
voting systems there to your heart's content,and it might be safer 
than electowiki. Or not. It's a wiki, which is Hawaiian for "totally 

What did you think that "quick" would imply?

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list