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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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wikipedia edit war over Darwin-Lincoln birthdate coincidence

A dispute over whether to add the Darwin-Lincoln birthdate coincidence to Darwin's biography was one of the biggest edit wars in Wikipedia history:
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Is sharing a birthday with Abraham Lincoln important enough to include in the Charles Darwin article, or is it a bit of trivia that has no place in an encyclopedia? As of 4 February 2005, there has been an eight week-long revert war over a single sentence. . . . . The discussions at Talk:Charles Darwin/Lincoln and LincolnArchive01, plus the arbitration pages amount to some 30,000 words, which is about the length of a short Agatha Christie novel.

An overwhelming majority of Wikipedians finally decided to omit the coincidence. One advocate of including the coincidence reverted the Darwin biography 37 times [1].

The solution under my proposed Wikipedia dispute resolution procedure would be to add the birthdate coincidence along with (1) a note that there is a dispute over whether including the coincidence is appropriate and (2) links to Wikipedian and external-website discussions and debates on the dispute.

Despite the triviality of the birthdate coincidence, the Darwin Day celebrations include a Darwin-Lincoln essay contest.

Ironically, we are not even sure of Lincoln's actual birthdate -- he was born on the frontier, where people tend to lose track of dates.
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16 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> Is sharing a birthday with Abraham Lincoln important enough to include in the Charles Darwin article <

No.

> or is it a bit of trivia that has no place in an encyclopedia? <

Wikipedia discourages but does not completely ban trivia. This particular item was so meaningless that it certainly can be done without.

> One advocate of including the coincidence reverted the Darwin biography 37 times <

Things must have been slow at the asylum.

> The solution under my proposed Wikipedia dispute resolution procedure would be to add the birthdate coincidence along with (1) a note that there is a dispute over whether including the coincidence is appropriate <

How absurd. By that sort of system any sort of crap could be included.

> (2) links to Wikipedian an external-website discussions and debates on the dispute. <

Even links to blogs that are non-notable and crappy?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 8:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What proposed Wikipedia dispute resolution procedure?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my proposed Wikipedia dispute resolution procedure would be to add the birthdate coincidence along with (1) a note that there is a dispute over whether including the coincidence is appropriate

That's called Teach The Controversy. Larry's just taken another page out of the Discovery Institute's playbook. Not only is he their all-too-credulous mouthpiece, he's borrowing freely from their methods now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Buzz Corey said...

Why not just add a general disclaimer to every Wikipedia page warning that there isn't a single subject over which there isn't some controversy? Those who doggedly insist that 2+2=4 have always been a subject of derision by those who think that they lack imagination and that the belief that the answer is 4 is only a theory. They insist that the alternatives should be taught.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViU said,
>>>>> Wikipedia discourages but does not completely ban trivia. <<<<<<

Well, Wikipedia completely banned this piece of trivia. Apparently there was a compromise where the birthdate coincidence was put in its own "trivia" section, but this compromise was not accepted by the guy who inserted the coincidence 37 times (maybe more if he used other identities) -- he continued to insert the coincidence into the main body of the biography. This guy was really hung up on the coincidence -- maybe he thought it was some kind of divine omen. I think that the "trivia" section compromise here was better than my own proposed compromise. Wikipedia's usual "solutions" to disputes -- big edit wars and arbitrary censorship by Wickedpedian control-freak administrators -- are unworkable.

>>>>> Even links to blogs that are non-notable and crappy? <<<<<<

You still don't seem to understand, dunghill, that there are no objective standards for determining what is non-notable and/or crappy. And the notability rule is applied arbitrarily -- for example, the Wickedpedians have claimed that the Discovery Institute and William Dembski are "non-notable," even though the DI and Dembski have their own Wikipedia articles. And even non-notable and/or crappy sources have a right to be heard.

Anonymous said...
>>>>> What proposed Wikipedia dispute resolution procedure? <<<<<<

Well, you now know what it is: Add the disputed item (or a brief description of the disputed item) along with a note that the item is disputed and links to discussions and debates about the item.

Buzz Corey said...
>>>>>> Why not just add a general disclaimer to every Wikipedia page warning that there isn't a single subject over which there isn't some controversy? <<<<<<

Some Wikipedia articles have a notice at the top saying that the contents of the article are disputed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 4:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

< this compromise was not accepted by the guy who inserted the coincidence 37 times (maybe more if he used other identities) >

Maybe the 37 inserters were really all different identities. Now there's a coincidence! :-) (I like that one.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 4:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> Well, Wikipedia completely banned this piece of trivia. <

And doesn't ban other trivia, as I said. The trivia that they let stand usually would have some interest to a rational being, unlike this garbge.

> Apparently there was a compromise where the birthdate coincidence was put in its own "trivia" section <

Someone who isn't banned, as has been necessary for a few vermin like yourself, can put anything they want in subject to later change. There is no compromise involved.

> but this compromise was not accepted by the guy who inserted the coincidence 37 times <

That would not be editing. That would be vandalism. Hopefully he was finally banned too.

> Wikipedia's usual "solutions" to disputes -- big edit wars and arbitrary censorship by Wickedpedian control-freak administrators -- are unworkable. <

Their solution to edit wars and other childish activities is quite workable. They ban the offender. As to "arbitrary censorship" this is a term you throw around repeatedly but seem to have no hint of understanding. Wikipedia editors are not censoring anything and they certainly are not being arbitrary. Those who have their material removed are perfectly free to push it on other blogs.

You yourself have been challenged over and over to show a single instance where you were arbitrarily censored and you have failed to do so.

> there are no objective standards for determining what is non-notable and/or crappy. <

You would claim that there are no objective standards for anything.

> And even non-notable and/or crappy sources have a right to be heard. <

And they are, dunghill. There is no censorship on your blog except what you practice yourself. Do you want me to write some guest articles for you? If not, are you practicing censorship? No. On the other hand when you remove my posts and actually ban the posts of others, like ViW, you are practicing censorship.

Buzz Corey said...
>>>>>> Why not just add a general disclaimer to every Wikipedia page warning that there isn't a single subject over which there isn't some controversy? <<<<<<

> Some Wikipedia articles have a notice at the top saying that the contents of the article are disputed. <

That is for legitimate disputes, not this crap.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Buzz Corey said...

Also born February 12 were:
Cotton Mather (1663)
John L. Lewis (1880)
Anna Pavlova (1881)
Omar Bradley (1893)
Bill Russell (1934)

Has anyone made a connection between Darwin, ballet, and basketball?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Also born February 12 were:
Cotton Mather (1663)
John L. Lewis (1880)
Anna Pavlova (1881)
Omar Bradley (1893)
Bill Russell (1934) <<<<<<<

Well, Lincoln and Darwin were also born in the same year. But other than the same birthdate, they had nothing in common -- nothing at all. Also, as I said, we are not sure of Lincoln's birthdate, because he was born on the frontier where people tended to lose track of the date.

Of course, the Darwin Day Darwin-Lincoln essay contests are pointless.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Buzz Corey said...

> other than the same birthdate, they had nothing in common -- nothing at all.<

So you admit that this thread, like most of them here, is pointless?

Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Buzz Corey driveled,

>>>>>> other than the same birthdate, they had nothing in common -- nothing at all. <

So you admit that this thread, like most of them here, is pointless?<<<<<<

And your point is --?

I will just say that I posted this story because I thought it is an interesting and amusing example of a Wikipedia edit war. I know that if I say more than that, you trolls are going to start a big argument -- for example, you are going to say that I am as stubborn and unreasonable as that guy who refused to accept the compromise of putting the birthdate coincidence in a trivia section.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 1:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will just say that I posted this story because I thought it is an interesting and amusing example of a Wikipedia edit war.

Larry's obviously still smarting from getting the bum rush at Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

qrcvoogv> And your point is --? <

Good grief! Wasn't his point obvious?

> I will just say that I posted this story because I thought it is an interesting and amusing example of a Wikipedia edit war. <

You think that vandalism is amusing?

> you are going to say that I am as stubborn and unreasonable as that guy who refused to accept the compromise of putting the birthdate coincidence in a trivia section. <

Not at all. He was being reasonable. You are always stubborn and unreasonable. You are also incredibly dense.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, March 21, 2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, March 21, 2008 1:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't the only coincidence in the lives of these two great men. Go here to read more:

http://www.ellenjackson.net/lincoln_and_darwin_77477.htm

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 6:44:00 PM  

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