Forum Talk:Content/Archive 1

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Current discussion

Motion Concerning the Referencing of Assertions in Articles

Citizendium articles aim for comprehensiveness in content. Likewise Citizendium articles should aim for comprehensiveness in citation of sources for that content. Accordingly, I propose that authors strive to reference all assertions included in the content that they contribute.

In the case of a single paragraph that contains only multiple assertions attributable to a single reference, it would not be necessary to cite every assertion; a single citation at the end of the paragraph would suffice. An explanatory note should be included on the Talk page to indicate that paragraphs containing only multiple assertions attributable to a single reference will cite that reference at the end of the paragraph.

When paragraphs contain assertions not all of which are attributable to a single reference, each assertion requires citing its source reference.

If an article in its entirety is based on only few sources, say, less than five, no citations need be given in the article. A note, however, should be included at the top of the article stating that the article is based on the sources listed in the Reference section.

Citations to references should not be omitted based on the claim that the assertions constitute “common knowledge” unless it’s truly common knowledge at the level of a high school student or any generally educated person.

Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:39, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

This strikes to the heart of bitter arguments I used to have with Wikipedians back in my days with that organization. I would say, for instance, "Do we REALLY have to have a source and citations for a statement such as 'Wilt Chamberlain was a tall basketball player.'" One of the things I enjoyed most about moving to CZ was that obvious "common knowledge" statements were taken as written. But I suppose that it could be argued that what *I* assume is common knowledge is not the common knowledge of a 17-y/o girl student in a rural Georgia town....Hayford Peirce (talk) 00:38, 5 March 2017 (UTC)

Preceding discussion

I copy here for ease of reference the discussion leading up to this.

Wikipedians are removing links to the Daily Mail from their articles following this discussion. (Those of you who aren't familiar with the Daily Mail... well done.) The tabloid is no longer considered a reliable source.

Could we ever justify such a ban? We currently have 19 articles that link to the Daily Mail, including on some controversial topics. Wouldn't it just be an admission that our sourcing guidelines don't work? John Stephenson (talk) 19:33, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, I noticed that discussion a little while back. Their RS criteria are rather vague and subject to endless argument and manipulation. It's certainly been alleged that they have a left-wing bias in assessment of reliability of news sources. How would one judge that objectively? Someone once told me the criteria were originally drafted by WMF lawyers for BLP and then mindlessly (or lazily) applied to everything else. In particular, as I pointed out, it's strange that a reputation for fact-checking is a requirement for citation of opinions.
Neither the page you link to nor the one that links to gives any definition of RS. The reason, no doubt, is the theoretical CZ model of expert approval, which should obviate the need. Maybe we should have something. One possibility I suggested years ago was an extension of our concept of Editor. If a source is written or edited by someone who'd qualify as an Editor here, it would count as reliable.
Actually, of course, there's no such thing as a reliable source, except maybe extremely specialized. There are mistakes in perfectly reputable sources like EB.
I wonder whether DM will report this itself, and if so in what terms. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:48, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the guidelines are brief because it was assumed that there would be a significant number of Editors who would be able to determine what was reliable. I think it's problematic that it states that references are not required for information that is "common knowledge among experts" because something may not be at all obvious to a lay reader. It may be better to restrict this to "common knowledge" among the general public, although it is not clear what this means either. John Stephenson (talk) 14:29, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
It says this is following the practice of print encyclopaedias, which is indeed not to give references for most things. Would an expert-approved article here be any less trustworthy in that respect than that? That is, do editors of print encyclopaedias simply ask recommended experts to write articles, or do they also have those articles peer-reviewed by other experts? I suspect the former.
How much is actually "common knowledge" among the general public? And how much of that is actually true (according to experts)? Peter Jackson (talk) 15:45, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I suggest that we try to provide references for all assertions, however common the knowledge they might appear. Some may consider that to be overdocumentation, but in my opinion that is preferable to underdocumentation, especially for the truly curious undergraduate or high school student unfamiliar with what we are calling common knowledge. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 00:57, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
In practical terms there's a lot to be said for that. The main reason we don't do that, I think, is that in theory our articles are in preparation for Editor approval, and so are supposed to approach the form they'd have then. Trying to do the same as Wikipedia, but better, might be an alternative, as you suggest. Peter Jackson (talk) 14:06, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
One possibility might be to use the subpage system to have two versions of an article, one trying to meet approval standards and one more like WP.
Bear in mind that the WP concept of verifiability is really a fraud. One might, at least in principle, verify that an RS says something, but one can't verify that there aren't loads of others disagreeing. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:58, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Sourceabilty would affect the way we write things. Summaries would often be more difficult. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:00, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Since we do not have a superfluity of Editors, what Peter says above about why "in theory" we do not reference all assertions does not apply at the present time. Which brings me back to the suggestion of over-documentation. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 21:39, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

If you want to make a definite proposal, it should go in a different forum. You'd need to specify more exactly.
  1. Are you just proposing adding references where available?
  2. Or are you proposing including only sourced statements in articles? In this latter case
    1. would it be necessary to find a single source for each statement
    2. or would it be permissible to combine statements from different sources (which isn't usually allowed on WP)? Peter Jackson (talk) 10:55, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

End of copied discussion. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:34, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

Further comments

Uncategorised pages list

The uncategorised pages list has been updated. There is an automatically-generated list, but it's flooded with subpages such as /Definition, because in most cases we add categories through templates rather than directly to the page. The 'pain-free' list strips out all the subpages and includes articles only. Without categories, they do not count to our overall total of articles (currently 17,402), and are effectively invisible because they don't show up on any category lists. They can be fixed by adding the {{subpages}} template at a minimum, and ideally by adding a Metadata page (which the template will prompt you to do). John Stephenson 16:45, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Article lists

If you check the workgroup home pages, e.g. for the Astronomy Workgroup, you will see that new lists of articles have been added (under 'Articles' and/or 'Core articles'). These are 'transcluded' (incorporated from another page) from two main sources: the lists from the defunct 'Core Articles' initiative, and the 'Subtopics' list from the Related Articles subpage for each group's main article.

Previously, different groups of people came up with separate lists in at least three different places, with a high degree of overlap. Transclusions allow the lists to be edited once and then reflected on all the pages on which they appear. John Stephenson 18:21, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Rewriting the past

According to the Contact page the constabulary email is not yet back online, and it says to go straight to Forum, so here I am.

This is about [1].

  1. Is it permissible to change other people's posts?
  2. The edit summary cites "legal reasons". If the relevant law indeed requires us to rewrite the past, should we move to another jurisdiction?

Peter Jackson (talk) 15:21, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Article 8.3 of the Charter does allow members to moderate their own user Talk pages, and in this case it appears that this was done at least in part to comply with our rule that contributors be identified with their real names. As there has been no significant alterations to the actual discussions, I would allow the changes to stand. John Stephenson (talk) 19:39, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Reusing open content

Is there any consensus on adapting information from open access sources, such as those available at Open Springer? For example this paper gives a useful summary of what the Yungang Grottoes are. Richard Nevell (talk) 23:12, 20 February 2018 (UTC)

You mean copying it, or simply quoting it? If it's the latter, we can reference open-access sources as normal. Copying would require the appropriate licence. John Stephenson (talk) 15:58, 21 February 2018 (UTC)
What I have in mind is copying the content in line with the licence as it would look odd to have an article that is mostly quotes. With the above example, the paper is licensed CC-BY 4.0 so as long as we give attribution we could copy parts over. My question is more along the lines of is this something the community would be comfortable with to swell the amount of content as long as the terms of the licence are abided by? Richard Nevell (talk) 19:48, 21 February 2018 (UTC)
As long as the open access article's license permits reuse I would be comfortable with copying except when the composition is of poor quality or lacking appropriate source citations. If we edit the copy we should say so when giving the attribution. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 20:50, 24 February 2018 (UTC)
How's this? Is the attribution explicit enough, or should the wording at the foot of the page be tweaked? Richard Nevell (talk) 18:43, 1 March 2018 (UTC)

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

I propose moving this article to Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). Or people might prefer Meghan Markle (Duchess of Sussex). The current name is neither her official title (HRH the Princess Henry of Wales, Duchess of Sussex) nor what the media call her (HRH the Duchess of Sussex in the reputable papers, Meghan Markle in the tabloids). Wikipedia seems to have adopted this name on the basis of their own precedents, which are either also wrong (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) or false analogies (Diana, Princess of Wales, only after divorce; Anne, Princess Royal, suo jure, not jure mariti). Peter Jackson (talk) 09:46, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

I don't think 'Markle' is her name anymore, though. Certainly there are media reports that her signature no longer includes her last name, and the Royals generally don't use them. So perhaps 'Duchess of Sussex (Meghan)'. John Stephenson (talk) 11:20, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
Hadn't thought of that one. Indeed that's not her legal name now, which would be Sarah Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor. But the tabloids continue to refer to her by her old name, as they do with others in similar situations, so it might be well to include that. A redirect would do, I suppose. '(Meghan,) Duchess of Sussex' would be another possibility. It's rather like peers and peeresses, who are often referred to by various combinations of their names and titles. The media will often talk about Lord John Smith, which would only be correct for a younger son of a Duke or Marquess/Marquis, or Duchess or Marchioness suo jure. In such cases it might be sensible to say Lord (John) Smith or (Lord) John Smith. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:27, 23 February 2019 (UTC)
Or 'Duchess of Sussex (formerly Meghan Markle)'. Or née. Peter Jackson (talk) 13:58, 24 February 2019 (UTC)

What to do with a very long page? is one of the longest pages on this site, but I'm not really sure of its purpose. Granted it's not a topic I know anything about, but '' doesn't appear in a search of Google Books or Google Scholar. In fact a plain Google for it produces a grand total of two results, neither of which are the Citizendium article. Is it a plausible encyclopedia article topic? Richard Nevell (talk) 21:06, 23 August 2019 (UTC)

Not sure it actually is an article. If you go to All Articles near the top of the menu on the left, it doesn't seem to be listed there. Maybe it's in some other namespace, though I don't know what others there might be. Is inc one of them, or part of the name? Peter Jackson (talk) 09:44, 24 August 2019 (UTC)

Subgroups and categories

Clearly, the site is all but dead in the water and radical, even drastic, action is needed to revive or resurrect it. When I was here in the past, I could not understand the apparent opposition to a navigation system and I came to the conclusion that use of categories to classify articles was perceived by some to be too much like another site. In fact, the other site was simply using a methodology that has existed in the IT world since the 1980s: a menu-driven process which enables users to quickly navigate via linkage to the page they need to see. Without a simple, effective navigation to assist them, the users will quickly get fed up and go elsewhere. The result is no readers.

I'm not opposed to metadata and subpages personally because I can see a real use for them. Up to a point. One of the site's big failings in the past was the accumulation of hundreds of articles in the workgroups and on pages like CZ:Live where the list goes into five figures. That setup does not provide navigation. What it does achieve is disillusionment among editors because setting up metadata and related articles pages for every single short article is tedious. Editors got fed up and voted with their feet. The result is no editors.

There is also the bickering factor which has been widely mentioned in the media and on other sites. I know for a fact that a lot of people left because of that, including one I know personally who still says that the micromanagement was simply unacceptable. Unless people are actually doing harm, as happens every minute of the day on another site, they should be left alone to get on with what they are doing. There is nothing worse than some self-ordained expert chipping in to make a point. You can always tell the difference between them and a genuine expert. Anyway, I digress.

Since I returned a month or so ago, I've been devising a navigation model in the Sports workgroup using categories that feed off the core articles (essentially those which are about each actual sport). I have retained metadata subpages for each core article and have adapted the related articles sub-page so that the navigation system is introduced for each subject via a root category. I'm also using the related articles page so that any key sub-topics can be specified (and they must be key) and so that proposed articles can be listed, though some means of prioritisation must apply to that. Anyway, I think it works and some associates of mine have tried it and said it's a good basis but it soon falls down because there isn't really anywhere to go. Too few articles. Even so, it's encouraging and I'm beginning to roll the model out into other workgroups that interest me, especially history. That is early days and I'll see how it develops.

As for the existing subgroups within the various workgroups, a lot of work has been needed to set these up correctly. I can see why non-IT people would soon get confused and disillusioned with those and the result was another fine mess which I think I've fully rectified, though experience has long since taught me that one will always slip through the net somewhere. Anyway, there is now a workgroup/subgroup structure that is sound and can be developed further as a foundation for article development.

Let me know if you want to ask me anything. If there is anyone there, that is ;-) John (talk) 10:48, 13 October 2019 (UTC)

Hi, John, Interesting comments from you to at least two or three *other* people who are vaguely here from time to time. I think the reasons this project has failed are myriad and which one was more fatal than the others can be argued with no resolution. I myself was one of the first Citizens, because I was thoroughly fed up with Wikipedia and its obvious failings and thought that CZ, with its emphasis on *expertise* was a far superior model. In retrospect, though, *MY* opinion is that Larry made a single, basic mistake when he did not *fork* CZ completely from WP, so that we could then use all of the infrastructure of the WP articles without having to reinvent the wheel over and over again in article after article. Obviously, in the early days, there were lots of *new* articles that could be created in CZ and that WP did not have either. A number of articles that I wrote here in CZ then got ported over to WP. But as time passed, that happened less and less.
I myself, in all the years I have been here, never heard of a single member leaving because of the *structure* of groups and subgroups and so forth that you discuss in your above comments. I have just looked at your *talk* page, and I see that way back in 2010 you and I and a couple of other Citizens discussed this same topic -- at least I *THINK* that's what it was all about. None of your suggestions apparently ever got implimented....
Anyway, sad to say, I find all of this moot -- except for YOU, and a couple of others, nothing at all is being created, and donations are now basically about $5 a month. As the Treasurer, I think I can extrapolate that at the current rate CZ will run out of money to pay its monthly Server charge in just about exactly two years from now. And that will be the end of a noble experiment! Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:06, 14 October 2019 (UTC)
Can the site be revived and is there appetite to explore how it could be done? Richard Nevell (talk) 07:45, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
John, as I said elsewhere, I do find navigation important. I'm pretty bad at typing, so I prefer to follow links rather than use search engines. What would be nice is to have system that's easy for both writers and readers.
Hayford, yes, I noticed the financial situation.
Richard, I'm certainly interested in exploring possibilities. Here are some thoughts.
  1. WP is declining in editor base and therefore in quality. See [2] for this point made by a then arbitrator.
  2. I left Wikipedia because of its lack of a sensible dispute resolution system. See [3] for research findings that 1/3 of RfCs, supposedly the ultimate procedure for resolving content disputes, are never closed; on top of those you've got those closed as No Consensus, in which case policy defaults to the status quo ante bellum. See [4] for a prediction by a social scientist of how long it'll take for WP to evolve to the point where it works properly.
  3. In theory, then, there's an opening at some point in the future for a competitor that can avoid such problems.
  4. CZ used to have a policy of maintainability: we should have only articles we had the personnel to keep up to date. That was dropped. Restoring it now would involve moving most of our articles into cold storage.
  5. Dispute resolution is more difficult. The theory of this site was that expert Editors would deal with this. However, Editors, quite professionally, declined to go beyond their areas of specialization, so, even when the site was at its height, many disputes couldn't be resolved properly. Then we had an Editorial Council, an Ombudsman, a Managing Editor. Now it's for the "community". That hasn't yet been tested to see whether it works, so I continue to give the site the benefit of the doubt. I suspect the lack of disputes is due more to our small numbers than to our lack of disputatiousness.
Peter Jackson (talk) 09:36, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
The English Wikipedia's editing base has been stable over the last five years at around 67,000 active editors while the number of edits has increased in the same period. That particular model has its flaws but is largely working. Citizendium would be better off emphasising what its own approach can offer without framing it as 'Wikipedia but with...'. Richard Nevell (talk) 21:02, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

I agree with Richard that the other site is holding its own despite some appalling contributors, though admittedly there are many good ones too. Unfortunately, Hayford has spelt out the bottom line in no uncertain terms. It costs money to run the server and it will be switched off at the end of 2021. So, if CZ is to survive, drastic action is needed and there must be a change of direction away from any association with another site. I've been putting forward one approach based on navigation, although categories per se are too easily associated with the other site. I'd be happy to see any other possible solutions but, at the end of the day, the ways forward must attract both editors and investors. John (talk) 21:59, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

Let's say that you do come up with a SUPER new way to re-cast ourselves -- which is entirely possible! Until someone comes UP with a new (and better idea) people like me are always content with the OLD way of doing things. I wasn't really HAPPY with WP years ago, but I wasn't going to leave it -- until Larry came up with CZ, and then I was gone in a flash. But if we DO have a game-changing plan, HOW are you going to bring it to the attention of people? I'm pretty sure that NONE of the earlier contributors will EVER come back. We will need a completely new group of people. Of course, being a long-time science-fiction writer who does NOT have Facebook, or Linked In, or a Tweeter account, or ANY social media whatsoever beyond this forum and WP, I know NOTHING of what possibilities you might have.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:20, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, Hayford. I'm an IT bod and so, writing apart, entirely technical and systematic. I don't do marketing and wouldn't know where to begin. Like you, I don't use social media. John (talk) 12:07, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

Richard, you may have misunderstood why I mentioned WP's decline. It wasn't primarily to suggest comparisons with us. It was to indicate the existence, at some future time, of a gap. From what you say, the information I had was out of date. Perhaps not fundamentally so, though: if the number of edits has been increasing, has it been increasing faster than the number of articles? If not, the same point still applies. Peter Jackson (talk) 17:34, 17 October 2019 (UTC)

Now I've got more time, a couple of actual suggestions.

  1. I've suggested this before: treat the concept of expertise as relative, not absolute; whoever's more/most expert is in charge of an article. This would be useful for dispute resolution.
  2. Follow Wikinfo's example: Fred closed down the old site (I dare say he's got a backup or two, but not online), giving the few remaining active users notice and admin status on the new, slimline site so we could port what we thought worth it (according to the statistics special page there are 366 content pages). This would kill 2 birds with 1 stone: reducing server costs and improving average quality. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:32, 18 October 2019 (UTC)

Wandering around, as I sometimes do, I just came across an old suggestion in User_talk:Hayford_Peirce#Thicket_strategy. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:36, 21 October 2019 (UTC)


seems to be what we're after. I've looked through the user pages of all our Computers Editors, including inactive ones, without noticing any mention. WP has a few suggestions. Anyone know anyone who might give free advice? Peter Jackson (talk) 09:21, 25 October 2019 (UTC)

Maybe something to ask at somewhere like Quora? Richard Nevell (talk) 13:44, 31 December 2019 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that the keys to our getting better search placement for Citizendium are twofold: 1) upgrading to newer Mediawiki software (as it will have better built-in support for SEO capabilities--at least, I'm guessing it will, because the techniques for SEO have changed radically over the last decade since the version we're using was released), and 2) increasing author activity in the wiki (because changed pages are noticed by search engines). We can't directly do anything about (1) until or unless our valient technical volunteers manage to deal with all the complexities involved in upgrading every layer from the server's operating system to the web server to the database behind Citizendium to the Mediawiki software itself. There are other small things too--having credible, external websites point back to articles held in Citizendium--and that should be a goal, but it won't be enough in and of itself.Pat Palmer (talk) 00:31, 26 August 2020 (UTC)
For better SERPs in Google, the first step would be to ruthlessly eliminate all (a)"red links" and (b)"stub" articles. Google is not going to serve up this site's pages simply because of the number of useless pages and dead links we have (concepts like internal page linking and site structure are dead-as-the-dodo old school SEO). Increased author activity is not necessarily a good thing for rankings as creating hundreds of stub articles like C. J. Cherryh or Amazing Stories/Definition does more harm than good to our SEO. Search google for, say, Alkaline pasta to see why even Wikipedia just barely makes the cut for what is one of the few "citeable articles" CZ has. Google downgrades the CZ article because both start off with "Alkaline pasta, or alkaline noodles, is a variation of Chinese or Italian pasta in which a much higher than usual quantity of ..." implying that CZ's "best" articles are direct rip-offs of Wikipedia, or that CZ is a mirror of wikipedia. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 17:52, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

Meaning? Implications?

I just ran across this comment from 2008 on the Talk page of Caterpillar Club: "This article needs the Wikipedia attribution applied, because it retains some text from the versions before Louis Sander began developing it.--Sage Ross 14:59, 18 July 2008 (CDT)"

Obviously, it hasn't been a problem in the last 12 years, but should there be some kind of attribution/acknowledgement added there? Roger A. Lohmann (talk) 22:35, 30 September 2020 (UTC)
Well, it wouldn't HURT to have something like this at WP -- but maybe with the stipulation that it can be REMOVED after a certain amount of new editing has been done. They have a template for it that generates what you see below:

External links This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "The Family Tomb (Gilbert novel)", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:24, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

I've added the {{WPAttribution}} template, which is for 'live' articles that incorporate WP material. Unfortunately, there is no easy way of identifying articles like this. Years ago there was a checkbox that allowed people to mark articles as including WP material, but that disappeared (do you really want to know why?). Unfortunately, no-one thought to put them in an actual category. (There's one now, which is generated by {{WPAttribution}}.) John Stephenson (talk) 22:05, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Creative Commons licences

After a lot of fiddling with templates, I've managed to get the Creative Commons attribution/share-alike licence to be made available when someone uploads a file. This licence has been in use since 2014 but unfortunately our upload-related pages and templates date from before that. There are other, later licences that can be made available but that will require more work.

We may want to consider re-licensing CZ's text under the new 4.0 International licence. John Stephenson (talk) 12:21, 4 October 2020 (UTC)

Could we someday have a Bot as a member? Pat Palmer (talk) 14:00, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

First Write-a-Thon in nearly a decade, coming up on Jan. 10, 2021

Start scheming now for your part in the Write-a-Thon on Jan. 10, 2021. We're going to have it every Sunday--four weeks in a row--during January 2021. There will be a new suggested theme each time; nominate your own themes!. First one in nearly a decade, and I picked a theme (click to read)--but you are welcome to be a party pooper and write about other topics too. Pat Palmer (talk) 04:21, 7 January 2021 (UTC)