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User talk:Matt Lewis

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Welcome to the Citizendium! We hope you will contribute boldly and well. Here are pointers for a quick start. You'll probably want to know how to get started as an author. Just look at CZ:Getting Started for other helpful "startup" links, and CZ:Home for the top menu of community pages. Be sure to stay abreast of events via the Citizendium-L (broadcast) mailing list (do join!) and the blog. Please also join the workgroup mailing list(s) that concern your particular interests. You can test out editing in the sandbox if you'd like. If you need help to get going, the forums is one option. That's also where we discuss policy and proposals. You can ask any constable for help, too. Me, for instance! Just put a note on their "talk" page. Again, welcome and have fun! Dan Nachbar 14:36, 26 March 2008 (CDT)


CZ isn't big on categories, but it would probably be fun to start a Category:Ex-Wikipedians! J. Noel Chiappa 13:26, 29 March 2008 (CDT)

Trouble is I'm still editing there, like yourself I see! It would have to be Category:Semi-retired Wikipedians. --Matt Lewis 16:30, 29 March 2008 (CDT)
I only occasionally dabble a teensy bit there. I've pretty much switched full-time to here. I think Wikipedia's fundamentally broken, and unlikely to reform (although it might, if given competition). J. Noel Chiappa 21:56, 31 March 2008 (CDT)
I didn't expect this - but I'm in two minds now having had a little CZ experience. I can suddenly see a few things about Wikipedia that work well (and the overall standard is not as bad as I sometimes say it is). I do agree it is clearly corrupted - have you seen the Chapters? Where are they going I wonder? (apart from to Israel, with an already apparent bias I notice when reading through it last year). These projects have to somehow stand above politics and areas so easily exploited (like any kind of quango - or 'removed' body).
Interesting what you say about competition - I've been wondering if CZ'z best chance of long-term 'survival' is by somehow changing (and merging into) Wikipedia. But then again, it would have to get pretty big to do that - so maybe the two can co-exist (a good thing for all in my opinion, provided Wikipedia gets to grips with its faults). There is a CZ-styled Wikipeida 'offshoot' called Veropedia that gives me the creeps (I'd rather Wikipedia was fully organic and CZ dual-format). I do think that CZ should get to grips with its editor problem, or consider returning some of its AA's for general editing. I think you have to have a proper infrastructure before you do things like AA's. They need to be as strong as Wikipedia's FAs, and although FA's aren't always that great, the AA's I've read just aren't as strong. Reading through them I find many of them lack 'strong encyclopedic' prose - I think it's about more than just accuracy. --Matt Lewis 12:37, 1 April 2008 (CDT)
Maybe your expectations of CZ are influenced by your experience at wikipedia? Is there any reason why an approved article has to be a finished product? Why not just a first step that is accurate but not necessarily complete? Further approvals will rachet up the quality towards a featured article status. Also, considering the infancy and the limited number of participants, thing will inevitably move more slowly at citizendium.
It is very easy to look at the quality and quantity and wonder if wikipedia is the better choice. But consider what you are doing here compared to wikipedia. No vandalism to go through on a watch list. No extended, over years?, arguments on any given article. The potential for a stable version if you can get it up to the first approval version. Which is a better use of you valuable time? For me the current choice is clear. Chris Day 12:53, 1 April 2008 (CDT)
I suppose I did think of AA's as (relatively and flexibly) 'finished products'. I'll re-think it. --Matt Lewis 09:21, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
I didn't catch what you were referring to with the I didn't expect this - but I'm in two minds now? Can you expand?
As to AA quality - yeah, we've got issues. As much to do with unsettled debates as to who to write for, as much as anything, I think. Also do realize that this is miniscule project (in terms of people) compared to WP. Not everyone is a brilliant expositor of material in his field.
Rome wasn't built in a day. We'll get there... J. Noel Chiappa 01:47, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
RE being in "two minds": I partly meant which current article to develop - the CZ or the WP one I've been working on (rather than jumping in and editing, I keep weighing it up). To a lesser degree I suppose I meant which encyclopedia to stick with, as I'm finding it harder to weigh them up against each other now - partly as I had expected CZ to win out on top-level quality (which was perhaps naive of me). I knew I'll always find WP too important for me to ignore a personal handful of articles that need attention. I'm currently dipping in-between the two, which isn't the most productive way - but that's life I suppose. Hopefully this will just be for what I consider the important articles on Wikipedia (in the serious sense)- I still think my new stuff should be here, and that it's important for CZ to be developed. --Matt Lewis 09:21, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
False dichotomy? We are allowed to edit both ;) Chris Day 10:40, 2 April 2008 (CDT)


Please see discussion on the article Wales. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:33, 31 March 2008 (CDT)

Blank lines

Well, I like 'em; makes it easier to come along and drop a comment in, I find! J. Noel Chiappa 11:59, 1 April 2008 (CDT)


I'm resigning and sticking with WP. I've looked around over a few days, and this place isn't for me. The overall problem is it's too niche. Too many contributors lack the sensitivity and awareness of the general reader, or the desire to write the boring stuff in article - in fact, I'm not sure there is even any "general reader" ethos on CZ at all! Perspective is what is needed. For a 'highbrow' institution, it's simply not good enough either (even with all the considerations of its youth and resources etc taken into account) - better editors are on WP, where there is a much stronger sense of the many elements that constitute a strong encyclopedic article - maybe all the 'WP:' actually works? Sorry to be harsh! Best of luck anyway to anyone reading. --Matt Lewis 09:58, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

With respect to: "I'm not sure there is even any "general reader" ethos on CZ at all! ", only yesterday there was a lot of discussion on this topic at Quantum mechanics and in the forums. I'd suggest yhou can edit both, depending on your mood. There is no race here. I believe they will end up being fundamentally different and compatible products. Chris Day 10:43, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Goodbye Matt, I did enjoy your contributions and hope that you consider returning at some point. Certainly there is lots of room for improvement and input from users such as yourself is valuable in order to advance the project in the direction that you suggest. I did have to change your user page since you did make some valuable contributions and other users might need to see who you are. Once enough time has passed, I will then delete the account. In the meantime, do feel free to stop in and help out wherever you feel you can make a difference. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. --D. Matt Innis 11:44, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

Your comments will be heard

Matt, we are sad to see go. But be asured that the topics of audience level and readability are actively being discussed and your comments will certainly be read by the new and previous Editorial Council members for consideration. Our finished products will have discussions aimed at several audiences, depending on the topic. Thus quantum mechanics wil have an entry level description and a very advanced section. In fact, it has just been rearranged so that the main page has now become the advanced section, because it was too complicated for the general reader. At present, many or most articles are being written by experts in their respective fields, so initially the product may be very complicated, but with time, and the participation of non-experts, the readability factor will go way up. Your comments make we wonder if all articles should be approved not only by editors in the field, but by several authors with absolutely no knowledge in the field. Such authors would be tasked with pointing out the less than optimally explained areas.

Regarding WP, I too tried both WP and CZ for awhile. For me, the final straw occurred when after several attempts to fix inaccuracies in an article (Protein NMR I think). I fixed the errors at least twice, and both times a non-expert reverted my corrections back to incorrect statements, despite my explainations and citations to what the truth was. Because I actually am an expert and run the very experiments I was trying to fix the corrections for, I found this quite intolerable. At CZ, we discuss things and come to a consensus, and even the non-expert can convince the experts they are wrong using citations.

In terms of cliches, you may have the wrong impression from your time here. Some people do know it other quite well due to their frequent writing. But be assured, those same people also have pointed, but civil disagreements, which are typically handled in a professional and polite manner, with few exceptions. I do hope you reconsider coming back to join us, and we certainly do appreciate your contributions to the project to date. Thanks for contributing to the online community, both here and at WP. David E. Volk 13:03, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

Northern Ireland

Hey Matt. I noticed your recent edits to the Northern Ireland article, and I had a query about it. I've written my concerns regarding your edits on the article's talk page here.

I just noticed that you are/were considering retirement from this place. I hope you reconsider. I think this encyclopaedia is still very much on the starting up side of things, and I'm sure it will improve as more contributors are added. I've been on a bit of a break myself, for various reasons (though I've made a few edits to the other place in the interim!). I suppose I'm thinking quality over quantity with regard to Citizendium.

Anyway, hope you take a look at my concern and good luck with what ever you decide to do. Maybe a break would be as good as a rest! :) --Mal McKee 04:12, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

I actually retired after trying Citizendium out earlier in the year - I'm back to rescue and save some of my work from the mayhem of Wikipedia, and this is a currently a safe place for it. I plan to port all my good work over here, as having retired from Wikipedia, the trolls I've worked so hard to keep at bay are already starting to chew it all up (and more besides). You have to be as tough as leather boots on Wikipedia, and bold too - I think they will seriously miss me, but I won't be going back now. Wikipedia simply refuses to address nationality properly, and just too many of their admin are self-interested on the matter (or any matter). They are like one of the corrupt Roman courts. Some are decent enough people, but I have seen virtually none I can rely on for sound encyclopedic judgement. They get where they are because they've kept they've been polite/ encouraging/ helpful for a sustained time, and have done some obligatory chores - which many of them seem to stop as soon as they get the badge. Sound judgement surrounding actual content (ie non-civility) issues seems to be a criteria rarely considered at Request for adminship votes, probably because admin (even the top-livel Arbcom judges) like to class themselves as being fundamentally 'aside' from all content matters. Which is simply a deceit.
I know Citizendium doesn't really want duplicated Wikipedia material, but it can at times be quite hard to re-write what you have carefully composed yourself - so I make no bones about bringing stuff over. As for staying here, I need to learn more about Citizendium’s plans - it doesn't seem to have got that much further in the past 8 months, though I've only so far looked at articles I've previously edited (not popular ones perhaps). The Recent Changes page has been pretty slow-moving when I've looked at it, though. I need to see (or be strongly aware of, and happy with) some kind of realistic and workable plan to compete and survive. --Matt Lewis 19:28, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi Matt, it was good to see your name pop up on recent changes. I understand your frustration with wikipedia, especially not having someone who can make the content decisions. Just to let you know how we envision things here (and I say envision because it is still a very lofty goal), is that content issues are decided on by editors that have been vetted for a particular subject/workgroup. They are balanced by constables that only concern themselves with behavior issues. So the plan is that when there is a content dispute, go to the experts. When you are being treated badly, go to a constable. This does not mean that you might not still have times when you are not satisfied with decisions, but at least the decisions are made by people that are close to the subject, which, I think, is a major reversal of wikipedia's conflict of interest policy. Hopefully, that will result in a more accurate and credible article, which is of course Citizendium's reason for being.
Anyway, I know some of the articles that you like to work on can be "hot" articles, but I think, with patience and professional behavior, they can be finished and eventually approved, which will allow you to move on to other things rather than having to "keep the trolls at bay". Good luck and happy editing. I really would like to see you write hundreds of articles here. D. Matt Innis 17:57, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
How many editors are there per workgroup, incidentally? My initial compaint about CZ was over encyclopedic quality prose (ie not just accuracy). --Matt Lewis 18:54, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The number of editors varies depending on the subject. That is certainly our weakest spot at this time. Of course, they are volunteers, too, so we can't force them to do whatever we want. We lose some and we gain some, so it is hard to tell how many are actually active, though there email lists that we encourage you to contact any of them for your needs. Hopefully, in this way, you can develop relationships that keep everyone involved. You can find the lists by looking through "Communicate" on the toolbar to the left.
As for prose, hopefully that does not get in the way of accuracy, but regardless, neutrality is paramount. D. Matt Innis 20:59, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - I see how it's done now. Do you know broadly how many of them are consistently contributing authors too?
It seems to me that the lack of authors is more of a problem that the lack of editors. It seems natural that editors will come along when there is stuff to edit. Am I misunderstanding something there? Regarding authors, I keep seeing the same people, many of which seem to be editors too. It makes me think that a lot of the editors are dormant.
Unfortunately accuracy and neutrality are often hidden matters - prose is there for all to see. In terms of CZ looking serious and appealing to readers, authors, editors, funders and the media, encyclopedic style is surely of primary significance to the project (the equal of accuracy and neutrality in this context).
Regarding lofty goals, I wonder if CZ is actually in some respects aiming too low? I have to say there are less people editing here now than 8 months ago when I was last here - the very honest charts I saw see a progressive decline of late. In terms of marketing, you have to push out to pull in. It's not all about money, it's about impetus, positivity and ideas.--Matt Lewis 21:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Those are all good questions that could certainly be used to stir the pot. Activity does not always translate into productivity. I think other sites are more active sometimes because people are spending an aweful lot of energy "defending" articles, but if you look at the changes over the year, very little production has actually occurred. You could write for days here and actually be able to finish an article, while other places, it might all be reverted by the time you wake the next morning. For those that like to write, that translates into lower blood pressure. Having said that, I would love to see more active authors and editors. D. Matt Innis 21:53, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
I certainly agree that on Wikipedia, in inordinate amount of time is wasted either troll-defending, or trying to open-up over-defended articles - rather than actually managing to progress them, but I noticed that here too to some degree last March (the latter I should say) - I think it goes with the territory to some degree. I was always a bold editor, but I'm always willing to discuss as long as action is taken seriously. One of the last things I said on Wikipedia (to someone who emailed me about leaving I think) was that I've realised that a few well-known editors actually have little interest in editing out of a very small 'comfort zone', even when it would help their arguments. Being stubborn in talk on the other hand, they are more than fine with. (I noticed I put "impetuous" instead of 'impetus' above, btw!).
I think there should be a serious drive to pull in authors.--Matt Lewis 22:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
The place to join the conversations is on the forums (see the toolbox). Go for it! D. Matt Innis 22:48, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Wikibreak (probably a week)

I didn't have a proper break between leaving Wikipedia and coming back here, so I'm taking a break from wikiworking, which I originally intended (and needed) to do. --Matt Lewis 01:55, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Looks like it was a nice break! Ro Thorpe 16:53, 3 February 2012 (UTC)