Talk:Alaska's At-large congressional district

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As an Alaskan, I must take issue with the notion that we should delete this article. Why should we? There is much useful information about Alaska's at-large congressional district--for instance, a list of Representatives from Alaska. --Larry Sanger 14:43, 7 November 2006 (CST)

There is an issue over whether CZ should expand into the areas WP recently has in terms of elections (one of my specialties - see Paddington South (UK Parliament constituency) which I wrote). WP is aiming to have articles on every constituency for election to national legislatures and significant sub-national ones as well. However this is the sort of thing which traditional encyclopaedias have left to more specialist publications. It's not that there's not a lot to say about the issue, more a question of whether it is truly an encyclopaedia function. I don't have strong views and indeed I would love to write more comprehensive constituency articles. David Boothroyd 15:10, 7 November 2006 (CST)

The policy that I advocate, and which I want to articulate more clearly, is that if we can have a full set of articles of a certain type (as well as about broader/more important topics as well!), then we should. We are not bound by the space requirements of a general encyclopedia; we have the disk space (and needn't worry about paper publishing costs) and we have more personnel than proprietary encyclopedias. Therefore, the only question is whether we will, in the near- to medium-term, be able responsiblyto maintain articles about all national election districts (or whatever the best catch-all term is). Frankly, I don't see why not. That's my off-the-cuff analysis, and I invite further analysis. --Larry Sanger 16:18, 7 November 2006 (CST)

I disagree here. For an article to exist in an encyclopaedia, even if we agree that anything can potentially be included in it, it must give answer to the five Ws and be written at a certain level.

As it is, the article does not tell us when this district was created (time frame, time line), what is it exactly ("congressional district" is not an answer), where exactly it is, who (historical figures of interest connected to it) or why should this interest us. Or, in short, there should be a story here.

I also dislike showing election results here: there should be a place that will display those properly and unless there is detailed analysis of the elections (every election) that adds some information necessitating this displayed here, this is a plain distractor to readers. It's much better to refer users to a reliable source (e.g. here) and simply describe what went on.

As it is, this article is no more than simple stats that should not exist in an encyclopaedia. Ori Redler 08:34, 11 November 2006 (CST)

FWIW I've added the certified election results. David Boothroyd 08:10, 10 December 2006 (CST)

Ori, when you say, "For an article to exist in an encyclopaedia, even if we agree that anything can potentially be included in it, it must give answer to the five Ws and be written at a certain level," I agree, but we are developing encyclopedia articles. The articles here are drafts. They may be severely lacking. But it is counterproductive, on a wiki, to delete everything that is not perfect. It is not the case that only complete articles will be permissible on CZ. That would be a profoundly counterproductive policy. Of course, only complete articles should be approved, but that's another matter entirely. --Larry Sanger 12:14, 10 December 2006 (CST)

Larry, the optimistic assumption is that this article can and will ever include content that will merit calling it an encyclopaedic article. The article in WP was created more than a year ago and advanced very little, if at all, in that direction. If we want to include articles that are, at heart, pure data and not an article, then we should have a means to tag data articles as such. If they ever gain more substance, as to merit calling them anything but a nicely formatted duplicate of governmental data, then fine: we'll simply remove the data tag.

As might be known to you, I've suggested a means to bypass the problem of deleting content and inclusion/exclusion dilemmas by tagging data articles as such (via a simple template). This seems to be stuck and the issue is not discussed, which is too similar to the way WP reacts to such problems (approval by avoidance). I think that this need to be decided because 80 percent of the articles are essentially similar "bot articles" which will never get to the point of containing more than a table or a list and a couple of lines added as justification. If we give pure info, we should at least do that properly. Ori Redler 07:25, 11 December 2006 (CST)

Ori, if you think an issue hasn't been discussed enough, that's probably because people have currently-higher priorities, not because they don't care about the issue at all, or that they approve of how things are now. It will take many months, and probably a few years, to go through all the policy issues responsibly that we must go through. It doesn't help to suggest that others are acting in bad faith.

Now to the matter at hand: I think it goes without saying that we should give pure info "properly" if we do it at all. But it seems to me that we should in fact have many "data" type articles, for the simple reason that almanac-type information (which is what this is) closely resembles the sort of information that you look for in prose paragraphs in encyclopedia articles. So, indeed, I'm all in favor of keeping articles like this for the simple and straightforward reason that they contain precisely the sort of information that one would look for under this heading. If the information is presented in the form of a table, fine. But I agree that the journalist's questions need to be answered as well, and that doing so will make it resemble an encyclopedia article more closely.

Seriously, Ori, the mere fact that information is not in the form of prose paragraphs does not strike me as a particularly good reason to delete it. There are, of course, other reasons to delete information, such as that it is unmaintainable. --Larry Sanger 14:07, 11 December 2006 (CST)


Larry, just to clarify: I don't think that anyone acts in bad faith -- I don't think that anyone acts in bad faith in WP either, for that matter -- "approval by avoidance" is just the way things are going in atrophic systems.

In my view, the issue of tagging is of minor importance for the task of preparing things to launch CZ. It should form no part in the discussion of such matters. However, when it comes to the post-launch era -- that is, editing stuff -- it becomes a critical issue. Since I'm trying to author and edit toward CZ live articles as much as possible, this is something that really gets to me when editing. Try and press the "Random Page" thingy 10 or 20 times and you'll get that feeling in your stomach too. We need to give at least some thought to what writers will face on the day that dare not name its number after the launch,


To the matter at hand, I wish I could share your optimism that the article would gain a more encyclopaedic character, but I am having difficulties seeing how that will happen exactly. If with WP, with more editors that we we'll ever have (or can have, if "standards" is a word involved in the editing process) have lost control over this type of articles, how will we control them?

The tail is clearly wagging the dog here: 80 or more percent of the articles are almanac articles, and there are no feasible means by which we can improve most of them. Since we do not delete them, what do we do with them? We need to otherwise state that those are not encyclopaedic articles (and keep to ourselves the "and they never will be" part), get them in some rudimentary order (i.e., tag them), and forget about them, at least for the time being.

With such a task at hand we must compartmentalise it to what we can and cannot handle, or deny that we need to do that (the WP way) and head straight into an atrophic situation.

Ori Redler 15:28, 11 December 2006 (CST)