I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Proposed reforms of Wikipedia rules

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"I don't make the rules." Famous restaurant scene in "Five Easy Pieces"

====================================================

There is no question that Wikipedia is in serious trouble. There is now a big debate going on over the reliability of Wikipedia as a reference. For example, the history department at Middlebury College has decided to prohibit students from citing Wikipedia as an authoritative reference -- see this and this. There is also a big debate going on over legal citation of Wikipedia by court opinions and other court documents -- see this, this, and this.

Many people falsely believe that Wikipedia's reliability problems are solely the result of its open editing policy which allows editing by unknowledgeable and biased people. Wikipedia also has a severe problem of censorship by favored editors who have hijacked Wikipedia for their own partisan purposes. The censorship of the attempt to add "Of Pandas and People" -- the book that Judge Jones ruled could not even be mentioned in public school science classes -- to Wikipedia's list of banned books is an excellent example of this censorship problem. Of course, sometimes censorship of attempted Wikipedia additions is appropriate, as in cases involving invasions of privacy, threats, defamation, violations of copyrights, violations of confidentiality, etc.. Censorship on Wikipedia is a particularly serious problem because Wikipedia is a single source whereas blogs are multiple sources so that what is censored on one blog could appear on another -- there are of course other online encyclopedias besides Wikipedia, but Wikipedia is by far the biggest and most consulted.

Wikipedia is supposed to be a very democratic website that is open to editing by all, but it is obvious that some Wikipedia editors are more equal than others -- they have the power to tyrannize Wikipedia by locking up Wikipedia articles to prevent any editing, censor edits that they don't like and insist on keeping edits that they do like, and temporarily or permanently block the IP addresses of rank-and-file editors (I have commented extensively on the evils -- and frequent ineffectiveness -- of IP address blocking). I don't even know what to call these people -- administrators, chief editors, monitors, arbiters, or whatever (the latest term is "constables"). I have no idea how they were chosen for their positions. A recent Christian Science Monitor article reported the following scandal:

Just this month a dark cloud fell over Wikipedia's credibility after it was revealed that a trusted contributor who claimed to be a tenured professor of religion was actually a 24-year-old college dropout. He was also one of the appointed "arbiters" who settled disputes between contributors.

Wikipedia has three content policies: NPOV (neutral point of view), Verifiability, and No original research. Wikipedia says, "Because the policies are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three." The problem is that the Wikipedia administrators have been overemphasizing the "Verifiability" and "No original research" policies at the expense of the NPOV policy, sometimes to the point of absurdity.

Here are my proposed additions and changes to the Wikipedia rules:

(1) Where possible, disputes should be resolved by adding the disputed item along with a note that the item is disputed and external links to websites where the dispute is discussed or debated. This new rule would have the following advantages: (a) the note that the item is disputed would show that the item is not endorsed by Wikipedia; and (b) the external links would eliminate any need to clutter up Wikipedia with long discussions and debates over disputed items (for this reason, the disputed item on Wikipedia should be as brief as possible). Also, the existence of discussions and/or debates on external websites would be evidence that there is a serious dispute over the item. That's the "NPOV" way of doing it. IMO the "Verifiability" and "No original research" requirements should be waived for Wikipedia items satisfying this new rule, because there would be no suggestion that these items are endorsed by Wikipedia. This new rule would -- or should -- help prevent the "edit wars" that frequently go on at Wikipedia. Wouldn't it be wonderful if what can easily be done on the Internet -- adding notes that something is disputed along with instant links to discussions or debates about the dispute -- could be done with all printed matter? Welcome to the 21st century!

(2) A requirement that rule #1 above be followed whenever there is a significant dispute over an item that a Wikipedia administrator (or "arbiter," "monitor," or whatever) insists on keeping.

(3) The "reliable published source" requirement should be scrapped. There is often no agreement as to what is such a source. Also, it would be difficult to find a "reliable published source" that verifies something that is obvious or self-evident, e.g., the sun rises in the east, bears shit in the woods, and "Of Pandas and People" is a banned book. Also, in many areas, finding a "reliable published source" is nearly impossible -- for example, the book "Monkey Girl," which is about the Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design case, is supposed to be neutral but is in fact heavily biased in favor of Darwinism.

Trying to deal with the obstinate Wikipedia staff is reminiscent of the iconic restaurant scene in the movie "Five Easy Pieces" where Bobby (Jack Nicholson) is trying to get a side-order of toast with his omelet but the waitress tells him that it is against the rules:

Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have any side orders of toast. I'll give you a English muffin or a coffee roll.
Bobby: What do you mean "you don't make side orders of toast"? You make sandwiches, don't you?
Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?
Bobby: You've got bread. And a toaster of some kind?
Waitress: I don't make the rules.
Bobby: OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.

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Labels: ,

17 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> There is no question that Wikipedia is in serious trouble. <

There is no question that I'm From Missouri is in serious trouble. Nobody takes it seriously. The people who read it are there for the entertainment value only.

> For example, the history department at Middlebury College has decided to prohibit students from citing Wikipedia as an authoritative reference <

Where the hell is Middlebury College? Are they a national leader?

> Wikipedia also has a severe problem of censorship by favored editors who have hijacked Wikipedia for their own partisan purposes. <

You have failed to give any examples of this.

> The censorship of the attempt to add "Of Pandas and People" <

Refusing to add giraffes to a list of domestic cattle brees is not censorship.

> the book that Judge Jones ruled could not even be mentioned in public school science classes <

This is an attempt by Larry(?) to spread misinformation. You are misinterpreting what Judge Jones ruled. You misinterpret most things.

> violations of copyrights <

Such as the picture which you have included on this thread?

> Wikipedia is by far the biggest and most consulted. <

Probably due to their accuracy and even-handedness.

> temporarily or permanently block the IP addresses of rank-and-file editors <

Only those who have gone on self-proclaimed "editing wars".

> supposed to be a tenured professor of religion was actually a 24-year-old college dropout. <

One of the greatest contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was, unknown to the editors, a prison inmate who corresponded only by letter.

I am sure that the editors of Wikipedia, in their wisdom, will reject your absurd suggestions.

> something that is obvious or self-evident, e.g., ... "Of Pandas and People" is a banned book. <

If that is your idea of self-evident, then the sun rises in the West.

> reminiscent of the iconic restaurant scene in the movie "Five Easy Pieces" <

You are playing the part of the waitress!

Saturday, April 28, 2007 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Where the hell is Middlebury College? Are they a national leader? <<<<<<

All that matters is that Middlebury College's reputation was good enough to have made its history department's ban on Wikipedia a major news item.

>>>>> You are misinterpreting what Judge Jones ruled. <<<<<<

Here we go again. Jones banned the whole statement that mentioned the book -- his ban of the statement had no exceptions or qualifications.

>>>>>>> violations of copyrights <

Such as the picture which you have included on this thread? <<<<<<

Does the term "fair use" mean anything to you, you stupid fathead?

>>>>> temporarily or permanently block the IP addresses of rank-and-file editors <

Only those who have gone on self-proclaimed "editing wars". <<<<<<

Wrong -- IP address blocking can block large numbers of people who share the same ISP proxy IP address. And IP address blocking is often ineffective.

>>>>>> supposed to be a tenured professor of religion was actually a 24-year-old college dropout. <

One of the greatest contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was, unknown to the editors, a prison inmate who corresponded only by letter. <<<<<<

Did the prison inmate claim to be a college professor?

>>>>>> I am sure that the editors of Wikipedia, in their wisdom, will reject your absurd suggestions. <<<<<<

Wikipedia is in deep-shit trouble and requires drastic action to restore its reputation. What do you suggest?

>>>>>> You are playing the part of the waitress! <<<<<<

Wrong -- the waitress was just following the rules.

Saturday, April 28, 2007 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> All that matters is that Middlebury College's reputation was good enough to have made its history department's ban on Wikipedia a major news item. <

Major news item. I have only seen it mentioned on this blog.

> Jones banned the whole statement that mentioned the book <

A specific statement that was going to be forced on the teachers. That is a great leap from banning mention of the book and an even greater one than banning the book itself which, as we all know, was not done.

> Does the term "fair use" mean anything to you, you stupid fathead? <

There is no "fair use" for copyrighted material you pathetic cretin.

> IP address blocking can block large numbers of people who share the same ISP proxy IP address. <

Are you claiming that Wikipedia was doing this or is this just another one of your red herrings?

> And IP address blocking is often ineffective. <

So why do you care so much?

> Did the prison inmate claim to be a college professor? <

Does it matter exactly how he misrepresented himself? You misrepresent yourself as a legal expert but that is much easier to see through.

> Wikipedia is in deep-shit trouble and requires drastic action to restore its reputation. <

Only in your warped mind.

> What do you suggest? <

I suggest that they keep up the good work.

You are continuing to play the part of the waitress!

Sunday, April 29, 2007 6:17:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> I have only seen it mentioned on this blog. <<<<<

Just because you have not heard of something does not mean that it is not important.

>>>>>> Jones banned the whole statement that mentioned the book <

A specific statement that was going to be forced on the teachers. <<<<<<

Mentioning the book was an official part of the Dover curriculum. Banning mention of the book was no different from banning any other book from an official curriculum. The teachers' objection to reading the statement was irrelevant -- in Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School District, the 9th Circuit federal court of appeals ruled that Peloza could not be excused from teaching Darwinism merely on the basis that he objected to it. According to the Peloza decision, the Dover school board had the right to fire those teachers, tenured or not. Judge Jones' use of the teachers' objections as an aggravating factor in his ruling against the Dover ID statement was contrary to the Peloza precedent. Furthermore, the book was banned by a federal district court judge, whose decisions carry a lot of precedential weight in our court system. That is far more serious than a ban by a two-bit librarian in some hole-in-the-wall library.

>>>>> There is no "fair use" for copyrighted material you pathetic cretin. <<<<<<<

The term "fair use" applies only to copyrighted or trademarked material, dunderhead.

>>>>> IP address blocking can block large numbers of people who share the same ISP proxy IP address. <

Are you claiming that Wikipedia was doing this or is this just another one of your red herrings? <<<<<<

Of course Wikipedia does this! How do you think Wikipedia blocks -- or attempts to block -- comments?

>>>>>> And IP address blocking is often ineffective. <

So why do you care so much? <<<<<<<

Because it is not always ineffective.

>>>>>> You misrepresent yourself as a legal expert but that is much easier to see through. <<<<<

I have never misrepresented my legal credentials. I have never claimed to have any professional license in law or any formal legal education whatsoever.

>>>>>>> Wikipedia is in deep-shit trouble and requires drastic action to restore its reputation. <

Only in your warped mind. <<<<<<

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Just because you have not heard of something does not mean that it is not important. <

If something is a "major news event", I would think that someone besides Larry(?) would have heard of it.



> Jones' use of the teachers' objections as an aggravating factor in his ruling against the Dover ID statement was contrary to the Peloza precedent. <

Only if you don't understand the Peloza case.

> Furthermore, the book was banned by a federal district court judge <

It was not banned. You need to get a dictionary and look up the word.

> That is far more serious than a ban by a two-bit librarian in some hole-in-the-wall library. <

No library can ban a book. They can chose not to have it. That is quite different.

> The term "fair use" applies only to copyrighted or trademarked material, dunderhead. <

You pathetic cretin. Don't you know that nearly every movie is copyrighted. Three Easy Pieces was copyrighted.

> Of course Wikipedia does this! How do you think Wikipedia blocks -- or attempts to block -- comments? <

I haven't seen that they do. They do block vandalism of their site by nitwits on editing wars.

>>>>>> You misrepresent yourself as a legal expert but that is much easier to see through. <<<<<

> I have never misrepresented my legal credentials. <

You have claimed to be an expert in a subject in which you have shown your total knowledge to be a negative. Misinformation counts against you.

> I have never claimed to have any professional license in law or any formal legal education whatsoever. <

You don't have a professional license in anything. What is the point?

> There are none so blind as those who will not see. <

We have been trying to tell you that for some time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 6:18:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

You dunghill, you have some rotten nerve cluttering up my blog with your worthless crap while falsely accusing me of not following my no-censorship policy.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 6:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Fafarman said...

>>>>>>> violations of copyrights <
Such as the picture which you have included on this thread? <<<<<<
< Does the term "fair use" mean anything to you ...? >

I'd say that Larry's use of a frame from the movie, as well as a section of dialogue, would easily qualify under the admittedly ambiguous and controversial "fair use" rules.

On the other hand, it would appear that Larry(?) thinks Wikipedia's credibility would be enhanced if it were to take the book "Of Pandas and People" seriously. *Sigh!*

Monday, April 30, 2007 2:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Fafarman said...

P.S. Further apropos of "fair use", Larry gave "Five Easy Pieces" some free advertising. I've never seen it myself, and was tempted to put it in my Netflix queue (but its relatively low IMDB rating of 7.4 puts many, many other films ahead of it for me -- the top 250 list cuts off at 7.9).

Monday, April 30, 2007 2:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

As usual Dave struggles to defend his brother while Larry(?) denies his existence.

Why are you afraid of your brother, Dave?

Monday, April 30, 2007 4:16:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,
>>>>>> I'd say that Larry's use of a frame from the movie, as well as a section of dialogue, would easily qualify under the admittedly ambiguous and controversial "fair use" rules. <<<<<

"Easily qualify" is a gross understatement -- my use of the picture and dialogue does not even come anywhere near being a violation of "fair use" principles. The courts have ruled that even the San Diego Chicken's Barney parody skit is fair use. I should not even have to waste my time discussing the matter.

Here again is my parody of Barney's theme song (sung to the tune of "This Old Man") --

I hate you,
you hate me,
that's a Barney parody,
With a big lawsuit
and a curse from me to you,
won't you say you hate me too?

Here is the original --

I love you,
you love me,
we're a happy family,
With a great big hug
and a kiss from me to you,
won't you say you love me too?

BTW, I was wrong before when I said that the term "fair use" applies only to things that have been copyrighted or trademarked. For example, well-known people have sued over unauthorized use of their uncopyrighted names or images.

>>>>> On the other hand, it would appear that Larry(?) thinks Wikipedia's credibility would be enhanced if it were to take the book "Of Pandas and People" seriously. <<<<<<

You stupid fathead, I wasn't asking Wickedpedia to take the book "seriously" -- I was just asking Wickedpedia to add the book to the list of banned books! Yes, I know that Judge Jones didn't really "ban" the book -- he only "removed" it from the Dover curriculum. And if the US government burned all copies of the book, you would say that the US government didn't ban the book but only burned it. There's just no satisfying you lousy Darwinists and Wickedpedians.

Monday, April 30, 2007 8:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Fafarman said...

Larry, you have successfully shown that Wikipedia (particularly its glorious leader) has some credibility problems. (Unfortunately that hasn't a lot to do with your feud with them.) However, I intend to continue using Wikipedia, though perhaps with a bit more of caveat emptor than before.

< "Easily qualify" is a gross understatement ... >

What makes it a "gross understatement" and not just a simple observation? Does everything require hyperbole? Does defending you against an unjustified criticism get no appreciation from you?

< BTW, I was wrong before when I said that the term "fair use" applies only to things that have been copyrighted or trademarked. For example, well-known people have sued over unauthorized use of their uncopyrighted names or images. >

This is true, and shows the importance of context and usage. I can imagine situations where your image and dialogue would violate "fair use" -- but they don't apply.

< I know that Judge Jones didn't really "ban" the book -- he only "removed" it from the Dover curriculum. And if the US government burned all copies of the book, you would say that the US government didn't ban the book but only burned it. >

You are pretending to not understand the difference between not allowing a book to be used as a "science" text, and burning it. That difference is why OPAP was not approved for placing on a "banned books" list. (BTW, a book certainly can be considered "banned" short of being burned by government order, so your use of this bizarre comparison is even more off the wall.)

< You stupid fathead ... >

Do you know anyone who is not a "stupid fathead"?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 6:03:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said,
>>>>> You are pretending to not understand the difference between not allowing a book to be used as a "science" text, and burning it. <<<<<<

There are many different kinds of book "bans." Books can be banned from libraries, school curricula, bookstores, or be completely banned. Books can be banned by librarians, elected officials, judges, dictators, etc.. "Of Pandas and People" just happened to be banned from a school curriculum by a judge.

Wikipedia's original banned books list had a lot of books from the American Library Association's list of "100 most frequently challenged books." The ALA said that most of the books in its list were never actually banned. The ALA list did not distinguish between banned books and challenged books. Many book bans are not reported to the ALA. It was not possible to make a simon-pure list of banned books. Furthermore, the ALA definition of "banned books" includes books that have been banned only from school curricula. Also, the ALA incredibly refused to classify Pandas as a challenged book even though the ALA's own records showed that the book was challenged in 1993! Finally, a lot of people felt that the book belongs in a list of banned books. I made a sensible proposal to just list the book along with (1) a statement that the listing was disputed and (2) links to external websites where the dispute was discussed and debated, but my proposal was rejected.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Larry(?), you pathetic deluded moron,

> I know that Judge Jones didn't really "ban" the book <

Then why do you insist that it be included on a list of banned books?

> There's just no satisfying you lousy Darwinists and Wickedpedians.<

We can be easily satisfied. Just limit a list of banned books to banned books.

> The ALA list did not distinguish between banned books and challenged books.<

Which is why it should not be copied verbatim for a list of banned books.

> I made a sensible proposal <

The suggestion you made was not sensible. There is no need to explain or justify why oranges are not included on a list of apples.

> but my proposal was rejected. <

Don't you find that much of what you do is rejected? At least we appreciate you here, Larry(?). You are a source of unending entertainment.

Real Dave said:

> Does defending you against an unjustified criticism get no appreciation from you? <

You seem to be the only one on this blog who doesn't understand your brother. His reactions are quite predictable.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:18:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness wheezed,

>>>>>> I know that Judge Jones didn't really "ban" the book <

Then why do you insist that it be included on a list of banned books? <<<<<<

You stupid fathead, I was obviously being sarcastic.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Stupid Fathead #77 said...

(or is it "wheezed"?) ...

I stand corrected.

(Ambiguity intended.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I was obviously being sarcastic.<

You pathetic numbskull. You campaigned to have a non-banned book placed on a list of banned books. Was your whole campaign only an attempt at sarcasm? Perhaps your absurd legal cases were an attempt to bring humor into the courts?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 6:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I was obviously being sarcastic.<

You pathetic numbskull. You campaigned to have a non-banned book placed on a list of banned books. Was your whole campaign only an attempt at sarcasm? Perhaps your absurd legal cases were an attempt to bring humor into the courts?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 6:01:00 PM  

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