User talk:Thomas Wright Sulcer/Archive 1

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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! Roger Lohmann 17:53, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Welcome once more, Thomas! I saw the note you left for Roger and think that CZ:Introduction to CZ for Wikipedians may be a good place to start exploring the differences to Wikipedia. In case of further questions, you can usually ask anyone you see on Recent Changes. Cheers, --Daniel Mietchen 01:09, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Daniel!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not at all familiar with Wikipedia operationally, so I really can't answer, but Daniel's suggestion of starting with the Introduction to CZ for Wikipedians is a good one. Roger Lohmann 03:51, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Roger!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Regarding your question on importing an article. If the article - as you write - is (almost) entirely written by you, it can be imported without WP credit, but you should leave an explaining note on the talk page. You can also import it first to a Sandbox of your user page, and later move it to its intended place. --Peter Schmitt 12:59, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Peter!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Forgot to say: It is also useful to mention it in the edit summary. --Peter Schmitt 13:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Hello. So within a span of just 8 months you made significant contributions to 50~ articles? That's impressive. (Chunbum Park 18:08, 17 February 2010 (UTC))

Nipple of Knowledge

I don't think so. I'm glad to know you are an alumnus of U of R. The campus is nice, the professors are very demanding and competent, and food is tolerable at worst and usually quite decent. (Chunbum Park 18:44, 17 February 2010 (UTC))

When I was there, somebody had painted an elaborate, accurate large-sized (5'x10') dollar bill in one of the hallways. Is it still there? My dog used to swim in the Genesee River. My senior year they completed the Wilson Commons and the new building was a joy to be inside; but by now the structure is probably showing its age, right?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:48, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Also my friend Terry Gurnett is the head of women's soccer at U of R. I wrote a Wikipedia article about him. He's won over 400 games.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:49, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't think the dollar bill drawing is stilla round. Wilson Commons is still quite nice. I don't notice anything about it that's old. I'm sure there are more students of foreign and minority origin than when you were here. A phenomenon I've been noticing is that a lot of Asian students hang around by themselves and don't even associate much with their hallmates. I'm one of few Asians who mix in well. (Chunbum Park 21:39, 17 February 2010 (UTC))
Too bad that dollar bill was great -- one of the landmarks -- but it needed to be maintained and kept free of vandalism, so it probably succumbed. I'm a big believer in mixing as well; I married an Asian. And I'm part Asian myself -- Cauc-Asian. :) What are you studying at U of R?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 21:59, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Wow! Lots of good ideas.

Thanks Howard!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

First, I may have confused you regarding quotes in citations. While it's indeed a preference, not a rule, that substantive quotes should not be in footnotes, don't lose them completely. Indeed, most of the quotes I have seen in your imports are meaty and belong (at least paraphrased) in the main article. We tend not to have as much use of several cites in sequence, but, in some of the cases, the quote is what distinguishes the sources. You may be able both to add to the main article and to avoid the sequential quotes by moving the quoted material into main text.

My thinking about the quotes was developed from working with Wikipedia. There were so many readers/editors who could come along and change stuff I wrote in a jiffy, undoing my work, in essence rendering my contribution nil. So, how could I prevent this? References. I saw inline reference citations as a great tool where a reader could, with two mouse clicks, check the source. If other wikipedians were like a giant wind of change, the references were like tent pegs anchoring my stuff. And the quotes within a reference citation made their checking even easier, since they could hunt for the exact text in the article if they wanted; further, I could cut and paste the quote right in the citation itself. This was my purpose. Generally, it worked on non-controversial articles. But on highly controversial articles like WP's "terrorism", references didn't matter; there was a hard core of administrators who have a fixed view of what terrorism is and isn't, and reverted everything I did or even other well-meaning contributors did. It wasted my time. It was one of the major reasons I decided to quit Wikipedia.
One other note: WP did a bad job (in my view) of teaching other editors how to create and use reference tools. As a result, new contributors to WP don't know how to reference, get reverted often, get frustrated, and leave.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
About moving quotes within citations into the body of the article. I'm a writer, not a great writer, but competent, and value simplicity and clarity. When I write on a difficult subject like Spinoza, I'm deliberately trying to bring along readers with me, and not lose them. Quotes, particularly if they have difficult unexplained concepts in them, slow down the reader, and risk alienating them, so I don't want too many quotes in the text regardless of whether they're relevant or not, particularly in the early stages. On the Spinoza article on WP, I had what I considered to be a great article (which is mostly imported to CZ here) which adhered to the basic concepts, but provided an intelligent introduction to a complex philosophy, suitable for beginners. What happened (if you see the "Philosophy of Spinoza" WP article now) is that a grad student (who CAN'T write well by any stretch) rewrote it with highly technical and difficult language, which even fellow Spinoza grad students might have trouble with. The article doesn't flow. It is intimidating. So, if this supposed philosophy "grad student" (as he claimed -- who really knows?) is writing in good faith to hopefully improve the article, he or she will find, in a few years, that NO STUDENTS want to study Spinoza's philosophy if they come across the intimidating Wikipedia article. If he or she ever becomes a professor, they'll have few, if any, students.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

For example, note 1 has quote XXX and note 2 has quote yyy. Where you now have statement [1][2], you might want statement. "For example, quote 1 [1] and quote 2 [2]."

Second, redlinks shouldn't be avoided, but we have different usages -- informal -- than Wikipedia. It's desirable to have a redlink as a suggestion that an article is reasonably needed. We don't wikilink dates, and we don't, for example, wikilink every journalist unless that journalist seems likely to merit an article.

Got it. Thanks. Redlinks when we want an article about it. My habit from Wikipedia was to avoid redlinks (there was dispute within the community about them) since it looked like an error (and focused attention on a weak spot in my contributions) and therefore weakened my material. But I can see them as useful prods for developing new content as well. I guess my policy here on CZ will be to continue to avoid them unless I myself plan to write a CZ article about them. Totally agree about not wikilinking dates also.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

In general, I find that your articles are on the long side, but also have many articles that can be extracted and both wikilinked in the main article and also through Related Articles subpages.

Yes, definitely long. I'm still not clear about how to break articles up into subpages. I figured out how to do this on WP; but not sure here how it works.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)


While we think about the scope of the article proper, I see immediate opportunities to create articles from biographical information that we really need in articles, such as Alexis de Toqueville and Juergen Habermas. Simply extracting the material there and writing an introductory lede would make a good developing article. Once you've created the article (I can help with metadata and links), click "what links here" on the left edge, and you'll see articles that address the person and perhaps have text that can be merged into the article.

OK, will consider for future projects, good ideas, thanx.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)


The core of the article is the handyman business. The list of tasks could be a catalog subpage, with columns listing the task, the skilled trades, the tools (see tool/Related Articles), and materials. (tips Engineering Editor [hard]hat)

Agree about list of handyman projects as a subpage (or possibly removed altogether). WP didn't like lists; CZ policy is similar, is this right?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

I'm personally interested in the business aspects, as I'm involved in setting up something of a handyman exchange here in a Cape Cod fishing village and summer resort -- we have widely skilled fishermen that can variously do handyman work in the offseason, or when, for example, fishing limits keep them ashore.

OK, my sense is it's becoming more dominated by franchise firms, but the prices for them are high. But firms like "Mr. Handyman" have been expanding (I used to work for them.)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
There's a loose idea of a "catalog", or annotated list. Another approach to list is the structure in a Related Articles subpage. It may be easier to show you than to explain it here. Shall we move Handyman to mainspace and continue converting there? --Howard C. Berkowitz 15:35, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes please go ahead and move it if you like. I'm unsure how to do things like metadata and Related Articles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:21, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Wow, great Howard, thanks for getting the article ship shape. I'll try to find stuff to expand this topic.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:41, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Terrorism prevention

This, and other articles, need some organizational thought. You've opened work into the individual and community protection area.

In the broader area, do remember that while we are English-language, we try not to be U.S. specific. Changing to my Military Editor hat, I've had involvement with terrorism and counterterrorism since the 1960s, and a historical perspective well before that. One key to excellent articles in this area is to be sure we don't imply all terrorism is post-9/11 or Islamic or even targeted at the West. I personally believe it is essential to separate terrorism as a tactic from insurgency or other reasons to select terror as a tactic to carry out a grand strategy. Suicide attack isn't always terrorism -- it may be purely military, but there are gray areas. I'd be delighted to work with you here. Even though there is an Approved terrorism article, I think it's due for updating. --Howard C. Berkowitz 11:13, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

About the US focus of the article. You're exactly right. In my hunt for information, mostly US material came up (harder to find stuff about other nations, or maybe this is my fault since I'm an American?). I see the material there in the sandbox as stuff which you can use or not use if you like.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
About terrorism as not being Islamic, or targeted at the west. I agree. But the "terrorism prevention strategies" article definitely assumes this -- the reason why this is so is how the article was constructed. I spent about a week reading all the mainstream sources on terrorism prevention, and this is what resulted; so, regardless of my opinion or your opinion, the NY Times and Washington Post and the Economist all tend to think of terrorism as Islamic radicals post 9/11 shoe-bomber types. (I'm exaggerating for effect here). My sense of terrorism (if you read my pdf file Common Sense II) is much wider.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
About general strategy for the terrorism and terrorism-related articles. I think this whole subject area is one where we can SHINE relative to Wikipedia, since the WP articles have been fixed by a group of administrators with a rather narrow focus on what terrorism is, and are unlikely to change. So here's where you and I could do a superior job which illustrates how CZ is superior to WP. But, how to do this?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
And my tentative suggestions are these, but I'm interested in what your take is on this. Articles about definitions (eg "terrorism", "counterterrorism", "counterinsurgency") should be short but intensely packed with references, and focus ONLY on what the mainstream thinking is about what these definitions exactly are as best we can (or if there is substantial disagreement, to show concisely what this disagreement is). That is, we should stick to the subject, and keep each definition article short (with links to other terms) and focus on what mainstream publications and dictionaries views on the subject. Like, an article about "counterterrorism" should deal with the definition only, what the senses of it are, and avoid going into long discussions about specific counterterrorism strategies or policies in different countries, or whether it involves "tactics" or "strategy". In contrast, articles about preventing terrorism, acts of terrorism, theories about terrorism etc should be longer and can reflect differing viewpoints like your idea that "terrorism is a tactic" and related material. That's one way to organize it. But I'm wondering what you think. What will confound everybody here is when we all are working from different premises of what terrorism is, and it's easy to run around in circles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Remember, first, that CZ doesn't necessarily require every statement to be referenced or come from an outside source, if the author has expertise in the subject. We encourage a loosely defined concept of "original synthesis", which puts facts and sourced information in context. If you look at the insurgency article, there are about 40 sources, of which 1 is from a news medium.
In general, for the Military workgroup, I discourage journalistic references, when they can be avoided. They can't be avoided for current events, but I try to use multiple sources, not all U.S., and supplement both with expertise and more authoritative sources as they become available. --Howard C. Berkowitz 15:26, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
OK.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:24, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Brewing your ideas

Lots of good stuff in there, Thomas. I suggest that you let them out one by one by dedicated posts on the forums. This will facilitate their discussion and help to put them in context of other discussions. Cheers, --Daniel Mietchen 14:08, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Daniel! Will learn how to use these forums hopefully!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:25, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I checked out the forums but there were so many. I was expecting some kind of way-station for tentative articles to go (for scrutiny by other editors) before going live, but I guess the forums are just ways to talk with others to try to generate interest in a topic, am I right?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:40, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the Forums are where we *talk* about articles in general, policy, technical stuff, the *occasional* article in particular if there is some special reason for doing so in a wider forum than its own Talk page (so that more Citizens will be aware of the discussion), and other miscellaneous chitchat. Just click on the "Show unread posts since last visit" at the upper left and after a week or so you will be 100% up-to-date with everything that is going on in the Forums. And don't hesitate to start your own new topics. Hayford Peirce 19:00, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
PS -- don't forget that you will have to *register again* at the Forums to become a participant there. It only takes a couple of moments but is not 100% intuitive -- please read the instructions carefully at the top of the page, including the exhortation to create a signature for yourself. Thanks! Hayford Peirce 19:04, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
OK thanks for advice. Will get into forums perhaps over the weekend. In general if I add articles which I think are worthy, well-researched, even if ported from WP -- if I go ahead and just add them, is this okay? Or is there some kind of clearinghouse procedure to get them approved first?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:20, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
Just port them over by yourself and do, in general, what is being done to the ones that you already have brought over. Bringing articles over, and documenting them, is more of an art than an exact science. A couple of years ago I brought over *dozens* of articles, almost all of them versions that I myself had written 100% or close to it. On some, or most, of them, I put a WP template on the Talk page -- see: I think that the actual template itself has been slightly modified now, but it's useful to put it on the Talk page, along with any info that you might add to it. And, of course, in some cases, you will want to check off the "Content is from Wikipedia?" at the bottom of the edit page, just above the "Save page" button. Once again, this is an art, not a science. Hayford Peirce 20:21, 25 February 2010 (UTC)


Hi Tom, i was just reading your user page. A lot of good thoughts. Much of this has been discussed before in the forums although I can't direct you to specific conversations. Many of these things are still up in the air too.

Let me know if you need help with the mechanics of subpages etc. It is more complicated than wikipedia but hopefully it will evolve into a slightly less chaotic environment. Obviously it's still early days and everything is up for discussion. Chris Day 19:16, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks Chris will hopefully understand how to do this stuff.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:21, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
Obviously the metadata is one big difference between CZ and WP. Each page and subpage has the {{Subpages}} template at the top and this interprets the information on the metadata page to give a navigation banner at the top of each page.
Another major difference from wikipedia is the lack of categories, except those that are added automatically for housekeeping purposes. Instead, we use the the Related Articles subpage. If these are filled out thoughtfully they will result in a powerful browsing/navigation tool. See the link for more on the mechanics and some basic information. Chris Day 19:42, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Tennis players

Hi, Thomas, I just saw that you started a sandbox with a WP import about tennis players. I don't know, of course, what your thoughts are with this, but I just wanted to say that we already have two very elaborate "catalogs', one called Tennis/Catalogs/Famous players and Tennis/Catalogs/World No. 1 male players. Larry was/is very strong on "catalogs", so that's how we classify a lot of things. The No. 1 stuff I bascially brought in from WP, where I had originated it in the first place. The Famous players catalog, however, was created here, with a lot input from the tech people.... Hayford Peirce 19:25, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Oh. Thanks for telling me Hayford. When I did a search on CZ for "Famous tennis players" (what Daniel suggested was one of the "key traffic driver" terms) I didn't get anything here. On WP, there were lists. So I figured this was a great way to outcompete WP. So I imported the male players to a sandbox. But you're saying it originated on CZ first by you, then got scooped by WP, and I just scooped it back? How marvelous! I'll check with you b4 doing anything more about this. I should check my watchlist more often. :)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 20:15, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
My recollection of the chronology is this: when I joined WP around 2003 or '04 some of us started a very bare-bones Famous tennis players list. For males, I guess. It was about like what it is at WP today, but was more just a plain list of names without much, if any, info about the players. Then when I came to CZ in May of '07 I decided to start a similar list again. I got it underway, a simple list, I think, but Larry intervened and said he wanted it to be a *catalog*. Then a couple of other people got involved and designed the template that we're using today. So you might say that its origins were an outgrowth of WP, but that it quickly changed to its own format, which owes nothing to WP at all. The other big catalog, for the No. 1 players, I invented at WP and was the primary author for a long time. When I moved to CZ, I brought it along with me, made a lot of changes in the text, but left the format just the same, or mostly so. Hayford Peirce 20:56, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Honoring contributors

I saw your thoughts about this on your User page and while it's a nice idea it's also one that people here at CZ have discussed, argued about, not quite fought about, for a *long* time now, with all sorts of *very* ingenious proposals made about *how* this could be done, but in the long run no one has ever figured out a way of doing it that would take into account all of the pros and cons on each side of the discussion. Somewhere in the Forums are lengthy threads devoted to this issue.... Hayford Peirce 02:46, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, thanks Hayford for letting me know. I figured there had been discussion, that it was ongoing, and important, although the prospect of slogging through lengthy discussions does not seem particularly intriguing to me at this moment. I wonder if it's one of those things we just start by doing it, and hope it catches on?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 11:48, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
No, it's definitely not something that can just be done. First of all, it would absolutely contradict the whole basic philosophy of CZ as set forth in the beginning of the project. It *could* be done, eventually, but ONLY if the Charter-writing people rewrite the forthcoming Charter to allow it. And even then, they, or someone, would have to work out a feasible WAY of doing it. I'm not saying that three years from now there *won't* be signed articles of one sort or another, but right now it is simply a no-go situation. Hayford Peirce 16:55, 2 March 2010 (UTC)


Hi Thomas,

I appreciate that you read what I am writing, but I am irritated a bit by the frequency at which my name appears in what you are writing, particularly those pieces not directly addressed to me. As Hayford pointed out, it is current community practice not to single out individual contributors, and significant changes to this are not on the horizon.

I also appreciate that you keep adding good content (as opposed to simply importing it from elsewhere), and I will continue to comment on this if I may. For instance, I noticed that you might wish to take another look at the way the CZ:Metadata is to be filled in. Namely, only those workgroups listed at CZ:Workgroups are foreseen (and set up, templatewise) as cat1, cat2 or cat3. The reasoning behind that is more or less that we currently have too few editors to be able to provide CZ:Editor-ial guidance on fields more specialized than these workgroups, although most of us probably would prefer the project reaching a stage when this becomes possible.

None of the articles that you started falls under the realm of a workgroup in which I am an Editor, so my comments are just those of a fellow Citizen who still remembers his initial time at CZ and tries to share some of these experiences with an active newcomer.

--Daniel Mietchen 16:47, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

My apologies. I've become habituated to Wikipedia's wiki-lawyering style of fighting, and since I like to contribute a lot, I've developed the habit of justifying every change, showing every reference I could find, showing permissions, as defensive measures to keep my contributions from being deleted. So, if somebody comes along and says "hey, why is there an article about What is the?" or "Hey why is there an article about "DVD" in all capitals when it's against policy and then deleting it, or attaching a speedy delete tag, the fact that I can include your name there too might slow this down, or cause possible deleters to second-guess themselves? Like, it's not just me doing something, but I'm acting based on advice from others who know more than me. Such is my logic. Conversely, I don't mind if you use MY name to add weight to your arguments; like, I think your ideas about robots.txt are on the mark, and I support you fully. But I'm coming to see that this defensive anticipatory-wikilawyering style is unnecessary here, perhaps counterproductive, so I'll try to be more accepting.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for link to workgroups. I hadn't known where to find it. I copied it to my all-purpose helper text file, and will only pick ones from the list. So, DVD should be in the categories "computers" and "media", and perhaps in "games", right?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:13, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Overall, when I get the time, I'll want to write an article which explains quickly, clearly, and simply, what veteran Wikipedia editors need to know about how to contribute here. I've found CZ much more complex, cumbersome, and detail-oriented, and I'm having trouble getting the hang of things. If there IS such an article and you know where it is, please help me find it; otherwise, I'll probably write it in a month of so.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Last, the whole "metadata" page confuses me to no end, but if I can get the habit of doing it right with no fuss, then I'll be less of a bother to people. so if I continue to make screwups, let me know, and I'll try to get it right before I get stuck in bad habits.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
We do have some decision hierarchies concerning content or behaviour but not between people, and most here feel very strong about this. That is, in every aspect of the project, your opinion and mine count equally, unless one of us has more expertise. In my edit summaries, I will often mention relevant CZ articles or paste external links that I sourced from, but only rarely make reference to people. The CZ intro for Wikipedians page is at CZ:Introduction to CZ for Wikipedians — I would love to see this being turned into something more useful (perhaps along with CZ:FAQ and CZ:About, making use of nutshell summaries as at CZ:Why Citizendium?). The Workgroups page and some other useful stuff are also linked from the Welcome page and from the left sidebar, and CZ:Content Policy may also be of interest to you. --Daniel Mietchen 18:49, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Early in my work in medical informatics, I learned that it wasn't enough to use language correctly, but, to be credible, I had to choose the words and phrasing that physicians used to one another. What has that to do with this discussion, you may ask? It is a nuance, but I note that you refer to generic lower-case-e "editors" here, where the CZ usage is "author" or "citizen". An upper-case-E "Editor" is something specific that doesn't exist at WP.
In like manner, we don't have Administrators. Constables are the closest, but, referring to your understandable defensive style from WP, Constables here first try to avoid conflict. Personally, I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to do the equivalent of a WP "speedydelete" here for an established author, but rather to make a talk page comment. Not everyone agrees with me.
Apropos "guidance", is anyone more comfortable than I in doing a mathematical introduction to inertial guidance? Howard C. Berkowitz 19:15, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
We don't have Administrators, except where we do. If you go to Forums, to Members, and then do a sort on "Position", you'll find, at the top of the sort, seven "Administrator"s. Including me. Don't ask me why, however.... Or whether we're all Administrators only in the Forums or also in the main part of CZ.... Or what our salaries are.... Hayford Peirce 19:38, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Must you confuse this with confusing facts? Howard C. Berkowitz 20:09, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Read through many of the guidelines pages. I think I knew most of it somehow. Didn't understand the whole distinction about referencing people vs referencing topics; I had thought if it was positive that it had been okay. Still, my sense is a Wikipedian having to slog through all that stuff, or hunt down all those pages, could get overwhelmed with all of the policies and statements and such, and that I think it's possible to write something short clean and clear with fewer possibly distracting links, which does the job. I'll put it on my to-do list, and perhaps write something and see what others think.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:06, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Certainly a new arrivals perspective would be useful. Part of your confusion might be due to the fact that the idea of how to present CZ is evolving. I am not sure all those pages represent an up to date 'vision'. Also, there are some things here that appear similar, but then don't work the way someone with experience at wikipedia might expect. Categories is one; others are a new twist, like related articles, that are just a sophisticated version of "See Also" and the topic templates seen at the bottom of many wikipedia pages. Finally, the real name policy and community size (much smaller) mean a very different social dynamic.

I think there is one analogy that fits the frustrations that new arrival have here. I speak british English, but I live in the US. For a long time I found some situations where communication was surprisingly hard. I realise now that many of the phrases i used were completely foreign to my audience. I thought I spoke the language here, and likewise Americans expected me to be able to speak the language. In reality the differences were enough to lead to a lot of confusion in the early months. Chris Day 22:26, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

What???--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:07, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Maybe that analogy doesn't work for you ? :) Chris Day 00:48, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
:)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:51, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
Chris is quite correct that the internal view is evolving. As an academic, he will probably appreciate a cartoon that had a student, in the first panel, challenging the professor's statement "it is obvious that..."
Said professor immediately dismissed the Tuesday class. On their return on Thursday, the next-to-lastlast panel showed a demented-looking, unshaven, sleepless instructor, who had covered the board with equations. Demonically, he declaimed, " is obvious.".
The Charter Committee has frequently asked itself what is obvious. At the same time, it has various discussions on currently stated policies, which may have been initial goals but have variously proved unworkable, or have changed. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:43, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Interesting Howard. @Chris: I prefer the British "lift" for elevator, but I much prefer the American "truck" to "lorry". And I prefer Britain's parliamentary government system over America's inept constitutional system any day. :)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:07, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
The real problems come with colloquialisms like skive. Chris Day 00:48, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
You mean skive? What a GREAT word, which sounds like what it means.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:51, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
That's the one. Chris Day 15:28, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
Not always. I had an educated Frenchman visiting me a few years ago who took off in a rented car for a trip to Las Vegas and through the wilds of Arizona. When he got back about a week later he reported that he had got himself sidetracked somewhere *way* off the beaten path and was asking the filling station attendants in Armpit, Arizona, pop. 6, "Could you kindly tell me where is zee dual carriageway, pleese?" Hehe. He was baffled that no one had the slightest idea what he was talking about.... Hayford Peirce 01:36, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
"Dual carriageway"? Pardonnez moi, mon francais est mauvais.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:51, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Competing with Wikipedia

Yes -- there is a general dislike for importing from Wikipedia. It's fair to say we don't want to be Wikipedia, and, speaking for myself, I'm generally not motivated to "improve" articles written in the Wikipedia environment, unless there are special considerations.

For example, I'm perfectly willing to CZ-convert articles you bring in, because you are also creating content here. As you've mentioned, you've written at WP in a defensive style against wikilawyering, which, among other things, requires huge numbers of not necessarily authoritative citations. One of the WP tendencies is to use news media sources for other than current events, while our style is much more to go to official documents, think tanks, etc.

If I wanted to write in WP style, I'd still be at WP. If we have to depend on large numbers of WP imports to drive traffic, I am afraid we will lose distinct style and quality. If that's the only way to drive hits, I think I'd give up. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:12, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Let's not forget, however, Howard, that the original intention was to *fork* off Wikipedia and to use that as a base to create a *better* Wikipedia, one that would reflect Larry's two or three primary concerns: Expertise; professionalism; and real names. Personally I think that the Founders made a *huge* mistake when they deviated from this idea. Sure, we'd lose *you* :( and maybe some others, but we'd also have a couple of *million* articles AND we'd have a whole *ton* of people, thousands and thousands and thousands, I'd bet, who'd be like me -- overjoyed to find a Wikipedia that they could join, revise their articles, and NOT worry about having them destroyed by vandals and cretins. Within a couple of years, I'll bet that every single WP article would have been *completely* revised, reformatted, restylized, and rewritten. What would be wrong with that? We would have millions of hits per day, millions of excellent articles, and maybe a half-million or so *Approved* articles. It's probably too late to do this today, but it could certainly have been done three years ago when the CZ was new, young, and exciting, and thousands of people dropped into take a look at it. If *I* were a Charter-writing member, this is what I'd be arguing for. Even if it didn't work, how could we be worse off than we are today? Would you like to make a modest side bet with me about how many Citizens end up voting for/against the final Charter proposition? Hayford Peirce 00:09, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I totally agree with Hayford. I think this is a complex, ongoing issue, with lots of considerations. I'm continuing to explore this. And I think we're all wanting the same long term general outcome, which is a quality online encyclopedia with authoritative content, where contributors are protected, and an atmosphere of civility and courtesy dominates, and which is useful, smart, and helpful. Isn't that the goal? But how to get there is where I think, in some respects, Howard and I diverge.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
In general, I was happy with Wikipedia because of the influence -- people READ what I wrote -- and not only a few people, but hundreds of people EACH DAY, sometimes thousands. What a treat. This is so different from trying to get people to read my book which continues to struggle on Amazon. But I hated the anonymous attack-happy environment, and I didn't know who I was up against, whether it was sockpuppets, malevolent administrators, and such, and the environment was not conducive for stable contributing. My hard work was often deleted with a mouse click, and the prospect of having to edit-war over often trivial and stupid things was wearying. So that's why I like CZ better -- an identified world, with polite contributors, with the prospect of fairness, where I can contribute and my contributions will probably be protected if they're good and fair and accurate, sharp smart people like Howard and Hayford.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
But Citizendium has problems, serious ones. And the BIG problem is: nobody's reading it. When I do a Google search for an article I've created on CZ, IT DOESN'T EVEN SHOW UP IF I TYPE SITE:CITIZENDIUM.ORG and the article name in the search box. Why not? Do I have to wait a month for the Google crawler to explore the site and update the links? This isn't good. It means that my primary motivation for contributing -- gaining readers -- ain't there. I might as well be in a cave somewhere, scribbling on walls, that nobody will ever read. And without this motivating factor, why would anybody else want to contribute here? This is important. One thing I've noticed: sometimes WP looks at our stuff, and ports it over if it looks better -- so at least somebody might be reading CZ's stuff.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I've found from experience that it takes a few days for Google and Bing to include any new articles, or update any additions or corrections made to an article. However WP is in the same boat, it's not that instantaneous but they have an advantage in that most of their articles are interlinked, so any visiting webcrawler is likely to pick up any changes quicker compared to CZ. We need to start creating more articles and more article interlinking to pump up our Google and Bing 'juice'. Meg Ireland 00:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
So, how are we going to fix this? I think WP has serious problems too, including huge problems with bias on controversial topics (related to the anonymity). But overall the Wikipedia model is doing a lot better out there on the web than the CZ model. This lack of readership is a huge negative for CZ in my view. So, before I'm motivated to fix up Philosophy of Spinoza (the Curley book came), I've been trying to do things to boost readership here, such as adding articles on the list (see my main page) like Acai berry which have HUGE readership on WP, and which are unique terms driving traffic (according to one study -- but who knows). Or, articles like Lady Gaga. So far, it looks like none of these actions has produced much result, but maybe this takes time, I don't know. I've asked questions like: can we import Henrik's "traffic count" tool, but haven't gotten any answers. But, if it takes importing the hottest WP articles, hopefully improving them, and seeing if this improves traffic here, then let's try it. If, Howard, you're against importing WP based on some principle of yours, then I think that's a mistake if it kills traffic; it's like shooting ourselves in the foot here. Without new contributors, without new authors and editors joining this project, CZ won't get off the ground.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Statistics show that WP is on a slow decline. Meg Ireland 01:31, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes. Serious problems recruiting and retaining editors. There are serious thugs in the administrator cadres who push rather radical POVs; for example, check out these articles: United States and state terrorism a propaganda piece supported by admins (many AfD nominations, no consensus each time) and Criticism of American foreign policy -- I worked on the latter, balancing it out with positive things the US has done; but it got tagged and now it's entirely negative -- highly POV. So WP has a real problem being able to police itself at the upper levels. Biggest WP problem = anonymity; so nobody knows who is editing and why. Government PR people? Radicals? It's murky and dangerous.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
My hunch is the Howard "WP style" vs "CZ style" thing is an artificial, meaningless distinction, a distraction preventing us from seeing bigger problems. Howard's concern about trying to differentiate the two encyclopedias based on the type of reference, such as "journalistic references" vs "official documents" or "think tanks" -- in my view, this is a non-issue, akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Rather, both encyclopedias use both kinds of sources. Information is information. Journalistic sources, census data, think tanks, published studies, academic journals -- this is all good information, and both WP and CZ should use whatever sources are appropriate. If Howard is afraid of CZ losing its "distinct, quality style"; oh, hogwash. And it's clear that the two encyclopedias are copying regularly from each other, whether CZ from WP, or WP from CZ; it's all free content. I don't think the information here, or the distinct quality style is how CZ competes, or should compete, with WP. Frankly, in terms of a quality comparison between the two encyclopedias, I think WP wins hands down for authoritative content, thoroughness, diagrams, helpful internal links, informative pictures, ease of use, infoboxes, and overall content. Yes, it's sometimes wrong, sometimes poorly written, but overall it's a MUCH MORE USEFUL encyclopedia than CZ at this point. It has millions of articles. The wikilink system is extremely helpful, since if you don't understand a term, click, boom, you're on a whole new article about it; on CZ there are only redlinks. I think it behooves us to recognize this reality, and stop hiding behind some idea of "CZ has superior quality".--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
We do have superior quality in a handful of articles, but not many. Don't forget WP had a huge head start over us and Knol, and even if we had opened the flood gates and allowed anonymous editing from the start, we would still struggle to compete. Unless you can invent a time machine and take CZ back to 14 January 2001, there is always going to be a huge gap in content. Perhaps we have lost focus here. Rome wasn't built in a day. Encyclopædia Britannica wasn't written overnight. Perhaps we need to focus on CZ more rather than making comparisons with WP, because for the nest few years at least there is going to be a disparity in content. Meg Ireland 05:34, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree. I continue to think about this subject all the time, and I think there are pieces of the puzzle I'm missing. My general sense is: CZ has the overall RIGHT approach in identifying contributors -- a HUGE plus. The WP article on HDMI is clearly POV -- rather blatant advertising for HDMI, and they deliberately made it so technical that other WPers missed how much of an ad it was. But I don't think there will always be a gap in content; I believe CZ can overtake WP someday. But since the content is free, and easily copied, legally, then the two encyclopedias can't compete based on this aspect; rather, I think they compete on usefulness, relevance, eyeball traffic. And I think much of WP's material is rather excellent, overall, and it's clear to me that the two online encyclopedias "borrow" from each other all the time. What I would like CZ to get would be some kind of critical mass, so that enough people read it, start contributing, so that it takes off; so my current project is to try to build traffic here. I'm not that keen on working hard on articles such as Philosophy of Spinoza (which needs revamping) if nobody reads it. MI are you a cat person?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:44, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Not really, you can't herd them, they tend to drop fleas everywhere, and they scratch the furniture. Meg Ireland 05:54, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Herdable cats. That would be a great article, with shepherd dogs rounding them up, commanded by whistles. Or Cat herder. I love cats, but I'm allergic, so I can't keep them around, but put them when I see them outdoors, and wash my hands afterwards. Do you play guitar using open tuning?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:59, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The problems are long running ones and won't be fixed overnight, but will IMO eventually be fixed over time. When I look back at WP and compare it here with CZ, give me CZ anytime. I'd sooner be standing on the deck of the Titanic smoking a cigar as the band plays on (CZ), than trapped below deck with thugs, bullies and lunatics in the brig (WP). :-) Meg Ireland 00:56, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree, but I'd rather be in the bridge of the Titanic, with the thugs in irons belowdecks, and enlightened about icebergs by reading CZ, to steer away from icebergs, so the ship would make is safely to the Statue of Liberty.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Sadly the Titanic was always fated to sink. :/ The thugs below deck wouldn't care less about CZ articles unless they could insert "CPT SM1tH t3h ePIC GAY LULZ" somewhere or edit war with you that it was really some conspiracy that the Titanic was used to assassinate that poor iceberg, hidden in the icy knoll. Meg Ireland 03:29, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Glug glug. I see signs of a serious power struggle in the upper ranks of WP, rather ruthless; I bet a great book about it will appear in the next five years, and we can write an article about that book in CZ when it appears.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 03:54, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to see CZ win, gain contributors, succeed. At this point I think it requires taking the BEST from both models and figuring out how to design something even superior. But clearly the next step is: boosting readership. And if this required sucking in all of WP's content (which is almost all excellent, in my view, compared to CZ), and starting from there, and keeping the identified status of contributors, then I think CZ would be much better off. But what we need first is some kind of critical mass. So I totally agree with Hayford about this.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:17, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
The Charter doesn't speak to or against WP. External relationships are properly the role of the elected governing bodies.
I'm not going to argue this with you, Hayford, much as I won't argue matters of faith. Other than in very specific situations, I am not terribly interested in fixing WP. It is fair, I think, to say that the idea of being a fork of WP has been rejected.
So, it is correct to tell Tom that quite a few people here have grave reservations about any significant importing from WP. You, Hayford, feel differently. Difference noted.
Tom, when it comes to sources, when the majority of sources on U.S. foreign policy are from journalistic sources, rather than actual international agreements, substantive reports, etc., I have a problem. In contrast, note the sourcing in Wars of Vietnam, and, at the same time, how news articles are used in more current events such as al-Shabab (insurgency), but are cross-checked with one another, and, as soon as possible, with more detailed analysis from places such as the Combating Terrorism Center and the Institute of Strategic Studies (well, my cold is not giving me the exact title of the South African group). If I wanted to read newspapers, I'd go directly to them.
I think it depends on the situation. There are instances in which reports from think tanks are highly biased, to reflect a certain ideological stance or plan; generally journalists have reputations to uphold for reporting facts objectively (while think tanks can have different criteria). But nobody's perfect; everybody can make a mistake; there's no one right point of view. I say: use the best sources whenever possible.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm a volunteer. I'm not volunteering to fix WP. If the model is to fork WP, bye. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:23, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
My last word on the subject: even though a bunch of people don't *like* WP articles being ported in here, Thomas, they can't stop you. Just as long as you follow our written guidelines about bringing in WP articles --I'm all for that. But if you just bring them in, dump them, and leave them, hen, in 1 week, I fear, I as a Constable can be asked to delete them without further notice. So -- bring 'em in AND improve them! Hayford Peirce 00:28, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
As a serious suggestion, to learn CZ ways, it is probably better to get through a couple of original articles, rather than to concentrate on de-WP'ing articles. This is, in no way, directed to Tom's work. I started cleaning up a 2007 import, Quiverfull, which really was never improved, but I may well give up. I wonder how many other "big import" articles are in that state? Howard C. Berkowitz 00:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

(undent) As far as search engine hits, interlinking is certainly a wise idea, but original article titles are also useful. To my surprise, restructuring of the United States Army came in first on Google -- and that is the official U.S. Army term. Wars of Vietnam was fourth; I very carefully selected that as a superset of Vietnam War. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:45, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Interlink as much as possible. Meg Ireland 01:31, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly what articles like Search engine optimization suggest.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:33, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I didn't suggest think tanks are always objective. Indeed, I have written a large number of articles on the think tanks themselves, often starting with a lemma and Related Articles that give their boards and staff, to indicate potential biases. In the specific articles, however, there can be a compare-and-contrast between the much more detailed positions of think tanks and analysts. In, for example, Iraq War, insurgency, no one should confuse the positions, say, of Andrew Exum and Andrew Bacevich, or the American Enterprise Institute with the Free Congress Foundation or the Council on Foreign Relations. Yes, there are some news media comments there -- but always contextualized, I hope. Most of the reporters, such as Tom Ricks, have written at book length on the subject, and I reference those books.
It would be incorrect to say there is always a right point of view, but it is also the CZ way to indicate the predominant way. (pausing to observe that Laugh-In got William F. Buckley Jr. to appear on the show after promising to fly him on a plane with two right wings). It isn't necessary to orate on one position; see Keep America Safe, and what I think is generally being accepted as an egregious attack across the political spectrum — but I never say that explicitly as an author.
Referring to your point about biased WP and one-sided things like "U.S. and state terror" and "criticism of U.S. foreign policy", with point-counter-point, I certainly would disapprove that approach as a Military Editor. Rather than point-counterpoint in largely unexplained bullets, the CZ way is to synthesize. Now, while I wouldn't call even Cheneyesque interrogation "state terror", that, if nothing else, being an evocative and ill-defined term, look at the synthesis in torture, interrogation, or intelligence interrogation, U.S., George W. Bush Administration. For the record, my opinion of Richard Cheney includes a serious question that he really had a heart attack, since myocardial infarction requires a heart. Look at John Yoo, and see if that's balanced — yet I don't think that an article of that sort would survive on WP. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:51, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Howard, it doesn't look good when done that way. Another example of a writing style I would avoid is something like this: Russian Liberation Movement. Where you have two opposing opinions, but the language used by the author gives you a clue as to what position he takes in the debate. Meg Ireland 03:29, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree. I didn't name "Criticism of American foreign policy" but rather it was a split off from a larger article. Agree about article titles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 03:54, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Continuation of discussion

(break for easier editing)

Well, great discussion. Opinions noted. I've found that I can usually write fresh articles as fast as I can port ones. I'll strive to balance what I'm hearing from all sides. I think it would be cool to keep some up-to-date list which shows "original article titles" that we could create, like what I have on my front user page. Cool Howard that you did the "restructuring" article -- I googled it and it came up on the first page. Good job. And thanks Meg for your comment about the crawlers.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:58, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Apropos glug, glug

Assuming the Charter goes through and there is a "peaceful transition of power" at CZ, one hopes that is the start of a welcome to those frustrated by the WP struggles. I don't mean to suggest we have a full alternative, but evidence of community government may be a potent attractor.

Thanks, Meg for what is now Russian Liberation Army; I wonder how many other such unimproved articles lurk — certainly I didn't know we had it.Howard C. Berkowitz 04:19, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Elin Nordegren‎

Hello Thomas. This is a good article but I'm not sure if it should be part of the Sports Workgroup as she isn't a sportsperson herself. What do you think? --John Leach 17:06, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't know where else she should go, John. Unless we had Sub-sub-groups such as Sports/Golf/Wives of famous golfers. I think that she's notable enough to go into the Sports Workgroup *somewhere*. Hayford Peirce 17:13, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
John, not sure, is there a subgroup for "non-celebrity celebrity" (?). Your question is above my pay grade, suggest Hayford and you decide, I'm a nooB here.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 20:51, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your views, Thomas and Hayford. I'm inclined to leave her be. Of the 200 articles currently in the sports group, I reckon there are about 40 that can't justify a subgroup at this stage so she's fine as she would go into the golf one. She is after all notable because of sport, so that's good enough, and I can think of several similar examples (none with CZ articles yet) of people who became notable because of an indirect or tenuous connection with sport. --John Leach 06:31, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Update on Famous Tennis Players

You gotta realize that I'm not an Editor, or an Editor-in-Chief, just a guy interested in certain things. So I don't have a clue as to what to do about your list from WP. It's obviously incompatable with the existing one. It could, I suppose, be made into a *second* Catalog of famous players, with a slightly different name. That could be done as an interim solution. Then, ideally, we wait for five or six *real* Editors to come along to the Sports Workgroup and decide what to do next. Hayford Peirce 17:52, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Hayford; yes I think I plunged into the tennis thing without checking with others, and perhaps I'll let it sit in the sandbox for a while? I noticed that one of the keywords driving traffic was "famous tennis players" and WP doesn't have it, but maybe the solution is to redirect different wordings to the CZ tennis stuff? Plus I'm trying to get organized with the additions and make sure that I improve stuff that I bring in, and try to get everything I work on to be better than WP, perhaps with more info, or better sources, or clearer writing. What's great is that I have pros like HB helping me rewrite stuff and he has an excellent touch. I'm still wondering if this whole experiment regarding hot articles will help put us on the map.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:36, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, we'll see with the experiment. Certainly it can't *hurt* things! Except the use of your own free time! Hayford Peirce 00:43, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Alphascript Publishing scam

Another reason why I refuse to contribute to WP. Three unknown people are profiting from the 'free' knowledge of WP, by republishing articles they never wrote at $49 a pop via, and the WMF seem powerless to stop it.


You might take a look at the new article about Ogden Nash. Hayford Peirce 18:52, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Exactly, Hayford! Great poem, very apt! Thanx. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Cuddling a kitty is plenty pretty
But it morphs to a cat-in-the-hat!
If gentle flames could burn away dander
Burning only dander while I fanned her
If only -- but life's not as easy as all that!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Delay in joining CZ -- setting the facts straight

Hi Thomas, I see that on your user page you have many interesting things to say, but I must object to your paragraph about delays in joining CZ. You are being a little bit disingenuous when you complain that it took you three days to have your application approved. I have done a little bit of checking, and your email address is "". I assume that it is with that address you made your application to join CZ. The guidelines for joining CZ *clearly* say that an address such as that is NOT acceptable as proof of your identity. One of the Constables, or Editorial Personnel, the records no long exist, would have then put you on Hold and sent you an email telling you that we need further evidence of identity. Evidently you then furnished satisfactory evidence, and User:Roger Lohmann then approved you. I can tell you one thing, for I have been doing this for 14 months now: if anybody at all applies for membership as an *Author* (not an Editor, I can't handle that) AND furnishes satisfactory identity along with his/her initial application, that person will be approved within NO LONGER THAN 10 HOURS! Or sooner. Even I have to sleep once in a while. But even while I'm sleeping, there have generally been other administrators who can and will approve applications. If an application is made during MY waking hours, then *correctly filled-out* applications are generally approved within a few hours at the most and within MINUTES in many cases. So please don't flog a dead dog when you are not furnishing all the relevant facts about the case. Thanks! Hayford Peirce 18:56, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Objection noted. I didn't mean to accuse anybody specifically about doing a bad job, and I didn't mention any names, and I wasn't blaming you or Roger; rather, I'm blaming the policy in general. It's one more thing throwing roadblocks into having more people join us here on Citizendium. It's not my fault that my email address is "" or that CZ for whatever reason feels that such an address is unacceptable; am I supposed to run out and build my own identified web site to verify my identity? The whole issue of how to identify myself is somewhat difficult -- I figured finally that my Amazon profile (which has a picture, which uses the "real name" phenomenon) was a way to do this. But I bet many people don't have such a recourse. But I wonder if many people get to this point and can't figure out how to identify themselves, and give up. As always, my interest is trying to see if there are ways to get this encyclopedia into better shape, and this policy is one among many which I think is akin to a self-inflicted wound. I realize it keeps out the vandals; but are we keeping out good people too?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:51, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Out of every 50 people I approve, only ONE ever makes a contribution, so I hardly think that it matters. Hayford Peirce 20:30, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Tom, this is a running disagreement. As I've demonstrated, it is fairly trivial for even a home ISP user to get a non-free account, and yes--somewhat tongue in cheek--when Hayford commented about Moses applying from the mountain, I did, indeed, send in a registration from, and he rejected it for not sending a lighting bolt.
It's an instant gratification world. Many WP authors make just initial contributions, but they can do it quickly, and arguably get feedback to contribute more -- and yes, a low percentage do. It is my firm belief that self-registration (i.e., with a confirmed email) coupled with what is called a karma/reputation system is a much better way to avoid vandalism. That's the model of a great many blogs. Real name, I grant, makes it more complex, but I know of a great many professionals that would, for good reason, contribute here through a free email (but not web access). Nothing will change, however, until the new Management Committee is in place to evaluate membership rules. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:28, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I understand this goes back in time, and it's a running disagreement, and I didn't offer my views in a forum, but merely posted them on my user page, and I'm still thinking about my opinions and they're not solidified or anything. My aim is to help. But my tentative suggestion is to look at it a bit differently. Think of the requirement of "reveal your real name" as a roadblock, kind of like a guard house at the border, guarding Citizendium-land. This is going to keep a lot of people out, including vandals, as well as well-meaning and possible constructive contributors. The proper place for this roadblock, perhaps, is NOT before a user has contributed anything whatsoever, but AFTER they've had a chance to contribute a few edits, perhaps, say five edits. This will give a possible new user a chance to see what it's like here -- plus it gives us a chance to see whether the new user is any good or not. Placing the roadblock at, say, after the first five edits, perhaps, would cut down on the huge amount of work for the constables which involves approving people who never do anything (Hayford said 50 approvals = 1 contributor). There would be fewer applications to review, and more likelihood that the applicant would, indeed, continue to contribute. Then, after the five edits, we'd ask the contributor to provide proof somehow of their identity. Further, the process should be set up so that if a new unidentified 5-edit contributor fails to reveal their true identity, then all of their previous five edits should be automatically undone, so there's no work for us to try to repair any damage -- that is, this happens automatically, and Citizendium goes back to the way it was before the five edits happened. This is my tentative proposal, but I reserve the right to change it as I learn new stuff.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:09, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Further, I think we should actively solicit quality WP contributors by leaving messages for them on their user pages. It should be fairly straightforward to identify who they are by examining the past history of their edits, and invite them here.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:09, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I just approved the membership of a gentleman from Poland -- he not only sent his application from a University address, which, of course, according to Howard, can easily be circumvented by any one of his cats, but also sent a PDF file with a scanned image of his student card. I'm been doing other stuff for a while now, but I can guarantee you that his application wasn't there two hours ago. So the maximum time between when he applied and when he was accepted was no more than two hours. Hayford Peirce 23:23, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Great job, Hayford. I appreciate how hard you work on this project. My comments were not directed at you or anybody else, but rather at the policy -- that's the problem. And I don't like it that you have to do so much work that results in so few new contributors; 50 applications to review is a lot of work, particularly when it only results in ONE contributor. That's not fair to you. The policy's the problem.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:28, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, if you changed the policy, I guarantee you that we'd then have 50 vandals making their valuable "contributions", which in turn would create 50 times more work for me. I wouldn't be able to handle it. Obvious vandalism, sure, that's easy to delete and to ban the vandals. But the subtle stuff is harder to deal with. In many cases it would take an Editor, or two, or even three, to decide whether it's intensional vandalism or not. If we have open registration here, I will instantly quit being a Kop -- let someone else spend his/her lifetime dealing with it.... Hayford Peirce 23:56, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

(undent) "I reserve the right to change it as I learn new stuff" You'll never make a politician, then. They change their minds when they find they understand the situation even less. I'd try to update the article about Eric Massa, but I keep thinking it's a Monty Python skit. :-( Howard C. Berkowitz 00:08, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

What my proposal is saying is that any edits by contributors who failed to identify themselves after five edits and within a limited time period (perhaps a day or so) would automatically revert -- so you wouldn't have to do anything. You wouldn't have to fuss with misfits but the system would revert automatically. I was trying to find a way to make your job easier, that's all. But I don't think the current Citizendium arrangement is working, that's all, and I think you agree with me about this, and you're dissatisfied like I am. Still, I think the basic premise of identified contributions is excellent, smart, and is in full agreement with my terrorism prevention strategy, and that unidentified contributions is at the heart of Wikipedia's problem. Rather, I think the task is to find some way to combine the best of both worlds.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:15, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Howard, I've found out too many times that I'm clueless, so I feel free to revert myself at every moment!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:15, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't think the registration is 'the' major problem. CZ has for whatever reasons attracted negative media attention on the internet. It doesn't help in recruiting new authors when they read these criticisms. Meg Ireland 03:21, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
What is your sense of how to fix things here? And I think airing criticism is a good thing overall, since it helps us understand the nature of the problem and points towards possible solutions, which more than compensates for any negative effects such as discouraging new recruits to CZ. That is, I don't think some new recruit, considering whether to join CZ, will come across my criticisms and say hey, I'm not going to join because Tom Sulcer wrote this or that, but decide to join or not join for other reasons. And I think registration is a big issue here -- the whole issue of how I was going to prove that I was the owner of an email address I thought was somehow baffling -- I only came upon the solution of using my Amazon Profile (which has a "real name" feature based on my credit card purchases) after reflection; I bet most people wouldn't think of this. Rather, I hope the new management committee comes to the conclusion that "the current model isn't working" and explore constructive fixes. I don't think it's merely because WP got a head start, but overall, the WP model is superior to ours right now and we can (and should) learn from it, while at the same time avoiding WP's problems (particularly the anonymity).--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:02, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
The criticisms I speak of concern 1) slow growth, not exponential as predicted by Dr. Sanger 2) Academic in-fighting by editors 3) Over-zealous constables 4) CZ articles are lower quality copies of WP articles. Meg Ireland 13:22, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
  1. Slow growth -- yes I agree; what's your solution to this? My thinking is to take the best of both WP and CZ models; mostly I think the Wikipedia model is the best except for two or perhaps three areas -- unidentified contributors (anonymity causes vandalism, aids POV wars); WP lacks a good fair quick way to resolve disputes; last, I think "original research" should be allowed provided it's identified as such. And there are a bunch of things that CZ does to shoot itself in the foot, such as exclusive please prove you're you policies (ie the mechanics of self-identification; but self-identification is a good thing overall in my view) which I think block potential recruits, blocking Google web crawlers from fully exploring the site (which dampens our rankings), and numerous extra steps everywhere -- whether it's writing an article (subpages, related articles etc). I think the whole distinction between "approved" and "draft" articles presumes there's something called "finished information" and is an artificial distinction which hampers additions (that is, who would want to "tamper with" an approved article -- so it makes them static and fixed and rigid). Further, tagging all other articles with a "Draft Article -- unapproved etc" is like a warning to readers "Don't trust this article!" I'd do away with the whole "Approved vs draft" distinction.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:14, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
  2. Academic in-fighting -- tough problem; is there a good way to fix this? I think there will always be battling over what the truth is. In any field of study, there are usually competing schools vying for attention, fame, recognition, publishing. Ideally I would like to see some fair, quick judicial process which competing viewpoints can go to to resolve disputes; and that disputes are resolved on the basis of evidence from published secondary sources, not personalities.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:14, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
  3. Over-zealous constables -- specifically what? On Wikipedia, there are powerful entrenched administrators who can make the lives of contributors VERY difficult if they disagree with you. This is a HUGE problem at Wikipedia; so I'm somewhat dismayed to find that you're mentioning that it's here too.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:14, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
  4. CZ articles = lower quality copies of WP. Agree, but I think this is somewhat a function of the huge numbers WP has (contributors, readers, etc) compared to us; if we can get more contributors, this problem may be solved. That is, I think this problem is related to the slow growth problem.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:14, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
If you can do a search on CZ you can see the criticisms on a number of forums. It's bad publicity for the project. Meg Ireland 19:42, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I understand. My intent by illuminating problems is not to throw a wet blanket on a fledgling fire, but rather to air problems so they get fixed. Did the past criticisms in the forums result in any fixes or changes or improvements? That's the key: getting the problems fixed. And I don't think it matters whether I voice my criticisms publicly or privately, but that fixes are made. My tentative efforts are to port "hot" heavily-read articles from WP, (see my list on my user page) improve them, rewrite them when possible, particularly emphasizing ones with unique names or acronyms; the idea is to offer a superior product to WP which hopefully draws readers. I'm also on the lookout for "hot subjects in the news", particularly if there's one which WP doesn't have an article on; if I find one, I'll write it quickly and hope it draws traffic. It's an experiment to see if this results in any more traffic here. I have no idea if this will work. If nothing happens after perhaps the end of March, I'll re-evaluate what I'm doing, perhaps to ask if there's some other approach.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:22, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm not thrilled about working hard on articles that few people read. For example, on February 17th I wrote Philosophy of Spinoza -- an excellent article with a clear & simple approach to Spinoza's rather complex philosophy (the article still needs updating & more sources, and I plan to get around to it sooner or later.) It's been on CZ almost a month now. But when I google "Sulcer" and "Philosophy of Spinoza", the Citizendium article doesn't even appear. Why not? Is there something in the CZ code blocking Google's crawlers from finding this article? I want an answer to this question. Is it because the article isn't "approved" that it doesn't even show up in Google? I'm a competent researcher and writer like you are, sick of WP's craziness, and want to find a place to make a difference, and like the idea of working with quality people like yourself, but I want to contribute somewhere where people actually read what I write. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:09, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, your search parameters are wrong. Who, aside from you, is going to look for +spinoza and +sulcer? Maybe it *should* turn up, but it doesn't. If you google my article Mercer Beasley with +"Mercer Beasley" and +Peirce, nothing show ups. But if you google "Mercer Beasley" and +Segura (a minor name within the long article), the first thing that pops up is the CZ article. Hmmm, on the other hand, I just googled "Philosophy of Spinoza" "basic building blocks" and only Wikipedia turns up. Even when I add +citizendium nothing shows up. So maybe it is, as someone suggested, purely a time factor. I know that I'm *always* seeing references to my CZ articles in Google -- and I'm *never* putting my own name in to the search parameters. I just googled "almost exclusively with legal matters" "Michael Gilbert" and the *only* hit was CZ. So who knows? Hayford Peirce 00:13, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

(undent) If I use different parameters such as "Philosophy of Spinoza" and "Citizendium", I still don't find the article that's created either. It's been there a month. If I can't find it with that, how can anybody else find it? I think the logical conclusion here is that CZ needs greater web presence. How can we achieve this? This is important. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:43, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

FYI, there are Forum, but not mainspace, hits with Bing, Ask, and Yahoo on "Philosophy of Spinoza" + "Sulcer". With "Philosophy of Spinoza" and "Citizendium", Bing and Ask do give mainspace hits on Metaphysics/Related Articles as well as Forums, but not the article itself. I don't know enough about web crawling to explain this, but perhaps someone else can do so. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:49, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't expect author names would help. Remember CZ user pages are excluded from bot indexing. Meg Ireland 01:02, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I wonder if the article disclaimer at the top of the page should be moved to the bottom of the page. Notice in Bing, the article disclaimer occupies most of the 'More on This Page' text balloon. Meg Ireland 01:18, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Discussion (continued)

(break for easier editing)

Thanks for the info. Interesting about bing, Ask, and Yahoo! Normally I don't use those search engines. Maybe it just takes longer for the crawlers to explore CZ fully. About Meg's point: I think it's an excellent idea to move the "draft article" status to the bottom of the page. And about the web crawling: I don't know how it works either, but after doing the SEO article, my hunch is that it would help CZ IF we could include user pages as well as article pages. My old user page on WP still comes up; I didn't find any user pages come up on CZ except perhaps for HP's user page. Is this something that the new management committee could decide about -- that is -- letting search engine crawlers explore the user pages? I don't mind if my user page gets crawled.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:05, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Is that my User page or the article about me that shows up? Hayford Peirce 02:42, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
If you google "hayford peirce" and "citizendium" your user page shows up second, at least it did in my search. Under the user page was your article page, indented. And your wikipedia page (not user page) came up also in spot number 10 I think. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:45, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Tom, I believe the reason why the user page is excluded is for privacy reasons. Meg Ireland 02:48, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Profit-making sites that copy wikis are known to copy user pages, and give the impression that the user contributes to their site. There is, as I remember, a Wikipedia template that says "if you see this anywhere other than Wikipedia, it's copied without permission."
If user names help linkage, and I'd need to see that demonstrated, then I'd suggest an additional namespace for "public user pages". There are specific reasons not to have all userspace indexed: for example, Editors and Constables will move material not ready for mainspace to userspace, where it can be improved. If I have something in a sandbox, it's there because I didn't think it was ready for mainspace. Having it indexed defeats the purpose of a test and internal comment space. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:06, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I think there's more to explore here. About Meg's point: I think that's correct, that privacy was a concern and possibly a reason why crawlers were blocked from userspace. Still, I wonder about this choice. If an online encyclopedia is public, then why are parts of it private? Are we trying to rope off a certain part of the online encyclopedia and say to the viewing public "Employees only"? Normally, this choice wouldn't bother me, but I'm noticing that Wikipedia doesn't block off userspace (it's easily searched) and WP wins in the PageRank battle. I can find my userspace on WP by searching Google; but I can't find my userspace on CZ by searching Google. So, my hunch is that this roping-off choice hurts the entire encyclopedia's web exposure, but I'm really not certain about the mechanics. About Howard's point: I understand the reason to have sandboxes less exposed than so-called mainspace or articlespace; but won't viewers figure out that stuff in a sandbox is a work-in-progress? I think they would. Again, we're presented with a choice -- do we want substantial web exposure OR do we want to rope off some sections from the viewing public for private use? I say: make it public. It's a public encyclopedia. Make everything searchable. It will PROBABLY boost CZ's page ranking and PROBABLY bring in more viewers. Why not conduct an experiment for a month or so (with permission from users of course) to see if anything changes? What could it hurt?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 06:01, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
With the caveat that I want a warning that the content is intended for use only on CZ, I don't opppose my personal userspace being public -- other than sandboxes and the like. If our claim is to be "expert-guided", it doesn't make sense to me to put out things we know are not ready for general use.
There have been proposals to create a "Draftspace" or some other additional namespace, principally to receive articles that have been deliberately taken out of mainspace by Editors and Constables, as an alternative to deleting an article. This is worth reexamining (again, not until the EC/MC are in place), but such a space cannot be indexed.
What could it hurt? Some of the material now in "userspace" is known not to meet neutrality or other quality concerns. It is a reality that critics will take material out of context.
Public buildings have toilets and machinery rooms. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:34, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Your suggestion that a notice of "This content is intended for use by CZ only" (I'd remove the word warning since it might scare away readers) seems reasonable. I, as well, wouldn't mind having my user page become public space, if it helps CZ build web exposure. Please pass this thinking along to the management committee, when it forms.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
About content in userspace not meeting quality or neutrality concerns, and be taken out of context. My general sense is these issues are far down the scale of importance since right now, few people are reading CZ. The lack of readership problem trumps all other problems, in my view. Let's get the readers, which brings new contributors, which brings more minds and talents, which brings quality here, and helps CZ grow. Then let's worry about statements being taken out of context (and there are ways to deal with problems like this.) My general take is that CZ suffers from quality issues because there aren't enough editors here -- the ones who are here are excellent -- we need more, that's all. How do we get them? Readership --> contributions --> quality.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

A case of a WP "high hit" article.

Your list of high-hit articles includes vpn, or virtual private network. Deliberately, I haven't yet looked at the WP article, which you mention says "needs attention by expert."

I can make a pretty good claim to being an expert in VPNs, especially provider-provisioned VPNs: implementation experience both in deployment and router development, IETF and NANOG involvement, and a couple of chapters in my books. For that matter, Sandy Harris is more expert than I am on the cryptographic aspects and the customer-provisioned IPsec VPNs.

How would you suggest exploiting an opportunity here? Importing and improving the WP article doesn't seem the right approach, but, perhaps, not importing it but looking at the questions and making sure they are addressed in our article seems a better approach. Again, I deliberately didn't look at the WP article so I don't know what is being questioned — I've seen "expert required" flags on articles that were correct and the flagger didn't understand the technology. --Howard C. Berkowitz 17:12, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Hi Howard. I propose three passes. Let me take the current vpn article, add more info to it from secondary sources, and try to rewrite it for clarity; my sense is it's technically accurate but so technical that most people can't understand it, so perhaps a non-expert like me can try to make it more understandable. I won't import much from WP but I may look at WP to try to figure out what's going on. Second, you look at it and fix areas that I get wrong; last Sandy Harris oversees your effort if you think SH can help. Is this a good approach?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:46, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Are you talking about rewriting the current CZ VPN article, or the WP article that "needs review"? I'd prefer that rather than rewriting it and selecting secondary sources, you comment on the talk page about what is not clear. If something does need expert review, it would seem to me that having a non-expert rewrite it isn't the ideal approach.
"Expert" doesn't mean "unclear". Expert may mean, certainly here, that an expert did a quick brain-dump and waited for questions/feedback. The article is not, for example, identical to what I'd do in a classroom presentation -- and those would vary depending on available time and audience. It can range from "spirits invoked to protect things while in Internet. Much magic. Mess with it, I turn you into frog" to "Consider the use of the Route Distinguisher carried as a BGP attribute to disambiguate address overlaps. There are several variants of the RD, based on..."
To me, the proper separation of responsibilities is for the non-expert to indicate what needs work, and let the expert either rewrite it based on expertise, or to select the best secondary sources. Remember, CZ doesn't have a secondary source fetish. Would my peer-reviewed presentations or writing on VPNs be primary or secondary, anyway? --Howard C. Berkowitz 17:52, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
There are two types of expertise here. First, knowledge of VPNs. You and SH are experts here (I'll grant you that). I bet the two of you could write a truly detailed article with formulas and functions and wiring diagrams which is as accurate as a well honed abacus. Problem is -- ordinary people won't understand it because it's so technical, so specific, because most people don't have a sliver of an idea of how even a computer network runs. See, that's what I'm good at -- making complex stuff explainable in simple terms. It will be readily obvious what the difficult ideas are, and since I know they're difficult (since I'll have to master them) I may have a better sense of how to explain them in ways people can grasp. What I'm saying is that both WP and CZ articles are too techie at this point, although I suspect the CZ article is more accurate. So, if you'd like my help, ask, but there are other projects I can work on. As I see it, we've got the vpn solved since we have an article on it, so a higher priority should go to articles that are hot where CZ doesn't have anything.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:05, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Actually, Tom, I am good at explaining it to a beginner audience, and have been doing so for over 10 years. Do not assume that because the article is technical, that was the only way to write it. It was the fastest way to get core information down, but that doesn't mean that there can't be tutorial aspects. Look at [1], and you'll find the first part is financial/business, not technical.
There is, however, a general question here: not everything can be made understandable to "ordinary people." As you'll see in that link, with apologies because it's a 1999 presentation, VPNs at the business-case and functional level aren't that hard to understand. I didn't write the CZ article, however, as a requirements or functionality case, because there was no need at the time.
On the other hand, it may be that someone is looking for a better understanding of what Loa and Tove were saying in RFC 4026, and I can elaborate on what we drew on a napkin in the pub downstairs from the Nortel lab in Stockholm. Making a fetish of having everything accessible to beginners is dangerous as well. Remember, the intermediate-level person also needs encyclopedic information. --Howard C. Berkowitz 18:22, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Howard, take a good long look at this question: How would you suggest exploiting an opportunity here? You posed it above. Why? The general idea of a question is this: ask when you really want to learn something. I used to work in market research. We asked questions, and the best questions are when we really wanted to learn something. Sometimes marketing people asked questions but they really didn't want to learn anything because they had ALREADY MADE UP THEIR MIND. So, why fritter about? My sense is, when you posed your "question" above, you didn't really want to know my opinion -- after all you consider me a "non-expert" and you're asking my opinion on a subject in which YOU think only "expertise" is valuable. So, why did you ask the question? Did you want to make some point about how to go about developing articles? If that's the case, I already know your viewpoint. You don't like my strategy of taking Wikipedia articles, adding secondary source information, rewriting them, and generally sprucing them up. That is, you don't like my approach. I got that. If you'd like to debate me on this article-development strategy, debate me; show me something better. You don't have to waste my time with playing games, Howard.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:38, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

No, I was asking a serious question. You listed vpn as driving high-hit. You also said that WP said "needs expert review".

Let me rephrase. When WP says "needs expert review", what is the problem to be solved with their article? Not "what is wrong with ours" or "how should ours be rewritten." Specifically, again, what is wrong with the WP article? What incremental changes are needed in ours -- the CZ custom is to pose these issues on the talk page, not immediately rewrite-edit-revert. It's a different model than WP.

I asked you, quite seriously, what you meant by "secondary source" in the case of VPN. Now, speaking as a Computers Workgroup Editor who happens to have spent quite a few years working on VPNs precisely, I think it's quite within my responsibilities to ask about sources and how they are selected. We don't require secondary sources when we have primary experts.

Tell me what you don't understand and give me an opportunity to clarify it, IF VPN IS A PRIORITY. I selected it because it was on your list and it was something I am able to improve. It happens that my Computers writing, at the moment, is focused on cloud computing, but VPNs are one of the enabling technologies for cloud computing. VPNs and cloud computing go hand-in-hand, as does virtualization, so it's perfectly natural for me to be improving the two or three topics in an integrated way.

I'm not playing games but asking for information. Now, if you wanted a more beginning, nontechnical explanation of a VPN, would my NANOG presentation be a starting point for cut-and-paste? Do you consider that a primary or secondary source? It was a peer-reviewed approved tutorial, admittedly 11 years old. I have more recent materials, but that was the most convenient online link.

Let me help you in seeing how we have collaborated effectively here. Not everyone likes it. You may note that in the terrorism prevention strategies and foreign policy articles, I first asked questions before editing. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:24, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Thomas, please excuse me for interjecting my thoughts into this subject. I was a long-time Wikipedian before I came to CZ ... and I left WP primarily because, in my opinion, there was a distinct bias against experts in WP as well as a distinct refrain that "ordinary people won't understand this or that". I am a retired chemical engineer with a good technical education and over 55 years of experience ... yet I don't understand quantum physics or Einstein's relativity any more than I understand VPN. But I don't expect those who are experienced in those subjects to "simplify" or "dumb down" such articles for me. Some articles just cannot be written so that everyone can understand them and yet retain their scientific/technical integrity.
In all candor, after reading the foregoing discussion between you and Howard, I detect a wee bit of that same disdain for expertism in your remarks that was so prevalent in WP. I may be wrong ... in fact, I hope that I am indeed wrong. But I felt that I should let you know that is how your remarks came across to me. As Howard has said above, the way we like to operate at CZ is to discuss proposed major changes on article Talk pages before actually making major changes ... and I want to stress the words "major changes".
Again, excuse me for entering this discussion and I hope that my remarks will prove useful. Regards, Milton Beychok 00:27, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Continuation of discussion

(break for easier editing) Thanks for your opinion Milton. From the forum discussions, I appreciate your mentioning about how to use the skin to emulate Wikipedia. I appreciate your excellence in engineering and your contributions both to WP and here. I looked over your user page and saw the extensive list of excellent articles and I appreciate that you volunteer your time to help contribute to technical subjects, and make your writing and knowledge free to people worldwide. In general, I appreciate expertise, and defer to authorities in most instances, since the world has become so specialized and human knowledge grows at exponential rates. And I understand not to barge into an article with wholesale changes without discussing it on the talk page first; but in this instance, my opinion was asked, and when I gave it, my opinion was rejected, and I have little interest in working on the vpn article when others have taken an active interest in improving it.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

But perhaps my presence here, and methods, need to be explained more fully, since I think there is misunderstanding, so I suppose now is the time to do this, and this is the place to do it. I've been here at CZ perhaps a month now. Initially, I hoped this would be a forum where I could write quality articles on subjects which interest me, particularly the philosophy of Spinoza, citizenship in the US, terrorism prevention, foreign policy, constitutions (and possible reform), authors I like, art, and other stuff. I like writing, learning new things, contributing what I learn, exploring new worlds. I am not an expert in anything but interested in many things. I am an independent thinker who reads extensively. If CZ is a place where only an expert can contribute, well then I shouldn't belong here, since there is no body of knowledge which I can claim to know inside and out. I don't have a PhD. I'm not a fellow anywhere. But I respect people who know things that I don't.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

To compensate for my lack of expertise, I research stuff. I can probe both secondary sources. A secondary source in my view is one where the reporter interviewed a primary source, such a person who saw something, a police officer, a politician making a speech, and so forth -- and then the reporter reports it secondarily. Wikipedia encouraged secondary sources (and discouraged primary sources) as you're probably aware. But I have no problem generally with primary sources either, such as census data, author websites, translations of Spinoza, scholarly papers, legal briefs, medical research, wiring diagrams. I've used many different primary sources. Basically, my sense is to use the best available source, secondary or primary, point to it with an online checkable reference; that way, if the reader wants to question my source, they can check it with two mouseclicks, and make up their own mind about its veracity or usefulness.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

A month ago, after joining Citizendium, I had originally wanted to focus on topics that interest me, but what I've found, in my brief time here, much to my dismay, is that this online encyclopedia isn't read much. Articles I've written don't appear weeks later when I do a Google search. My take on the pluses and minuses of WP vs CZ can be found on my user page if interested; but basically I like CZ's approach, and the quality of its contributors, but I think it needs to boost readership, and I think there is consensus here among others here at CZ that boosting readership is vital. I'm not motivated to try to perfect articles about Philosophy of Spinoza (which needs work I realize) or History of citizenship in the United States (yet to fix up -- it's in a sandbox) or "Terrorism prevention strategies" or other things that interest me -- if nobody reads it.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

So, my agenda shifted from contributing on subjects which interest me, to seeing whether I can do things here to boost readership to CZ, to encourage quality contributors to join, to encourage reforms to try to make this online encyclopedia viable. I like the identified nature of CZ. So, what can I do to boost CZ's readership?Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

The best I've been able to figure out was this: to take hot traffic driver articles (according to Alexa) -- pull them from Wikipedia, rewrite them for clarity and flow, add new information from secondary research, cut extraneous information, spruce them up, and bring them here in the hope that web crawlers from Google will find them, boost our page ranking, and give CZ greater web presence. The idea is to make CZ easier to find on the web in the hope that this will bring in new readers. These topics are in demand. Huge numbers of people are interested in them. Some topics are quite stupid (2012 for example); some are pop culture driven such as Lady Gaga; some are important such as Virtual private network but badly done on WP (and need fixing on CZ too). But generally Wikipedia has ALL of these topics available with generally competent writeups (although the WP version of "HDMI" was a giant ad for HDMI that didn't mention how consumers were upset about the pricey nature of HDMI cables.) I have little interest in Lady Gaga or Naruto or Elin Nordegren for example, but tens of thousands of people out there read the Wikipedia article EACH DAY on the subject. In addition, I've made other suggestions on my user page and elsewhere about specific things which might help Citizendium become more competitive, such as unblocking Google's web crawlers from our user pages. By working on articles such as Search engine optimization, I've learned that Wikipedia is a giant "link farm", and internal links help it compete for web presence; I think CZ should copy every intelligent choice Wikipedia makes (and not copy its mistakes, such as anonymity.) When I come across ideas that may help us, I put them on my user page. I urge others here to take them seriously, and consider exploring them further.Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

So I've ported perhaps twenty hot traffic-driver articles here, sometimes rewrote them from scratch, sometimes modified and improved them from Wikipedia. I try to use beautiful pictures. Generally, I think I've done a quality job on the topics I've worked on. If anybody has problems with specific articles I've created, or ported, please let me know specifically what these problems are, and I'll try to address them. But I strive hard to make everything I do better than Wikipedia's version, by having more information, better writing, better pictures. I'm trying to do my best. And I think I'm making a superior product in terms of content and writing. Don't believe me? Take any article I've worked, and compare it with Wikipedia's; I think you'll find that mine is better.Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Will this experiment to boost readership work? I don't know. The initial list of articles is turning from red to blue. It's the best I can do at this point. I think after a month or so, if traffic doesn't pick up, then a reassessment is needed, and perhaps I'll devise new strategies, or perhaps I'll shrug my shoulders and do something else.Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Please understand I'm trying in my own way to help, based on the facts I've been given. I understand that some people may not like my method; perhaps they have a different conception of Citizendium as an elite grouping of experts who disdain secondary sources, who distrust anything coming from Wikipedia, or who fear, perhaps, that my effort to bring in material from Wikipedia somehow pollutes Citizendium's excellence. I disagree with this view; I think I'm making CZ better than WP. And I think there are aspects of Wikipedia which are superior to ours, and which I urge us to adopt. Sometimes the criticism of my approach of work comes out in this form -- engaging me in fruitless discussions to distract me, such as "Hey Tom I'm asking your advice about such and such article?" but they're really not interested in my thinking, since they don't listen to my advice, and don't respect my views since I'm not seen as an expert; rather, the purpose of the supposed "question" is to try to persuade me to adopt a different style of contributing, and to distract me from my campaign to boost CZ readership, or to try to teach me a superior method of article creation. Hey, I don't know everything; and I'm open to new ideas. But I appreciate directness, candor, openness, tough criticism. If people have complaints with me or my efforts, say so, please don't bandy about with the veneer of seeking my counsel.Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

I was asked my opinion about the vpn article; what did I think? I said: too technical-sounding. Somewhat intimidating. It's a tough subject, but readers need to be led into this one. If asked, I can rewrite it to make it something which an ordinary person, interested in vpn, can read, and can get up to speed on this complex subject, that is, to bring people to a higher level intellectually. This doesn't mean "dumbing it down" but rather making a tough subject comprehensible. It needed diagrams (they've been added I see -- good). I believe I can improve it further without losing the technical stuff. But this requires an investment of my time and energy which I'm reluctant to give when I think it's likely my contributions will be overturned by people pulling rank on me because I'm not an expert and they are. So I'm not bothering with it. And plus the more important task, in my view, is bringing more readers here. And CZ already has vpn covered. So why fuss with this stuff?Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Anyway, that's what I'm about. May I please get back to developing articles on traffic-driver subjects? The latest one is 2012 -- puh-leeze, how crazy is this subject? Very. But enquiring minds want to know about it, and maybe some of them are talented future contributors to CZ. :) Thomas Wright Sulcer 05:32, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Again, your counsel was wanted. It is extremely useful for an expert to hear what isn't clear, and, if the non-expert has patience, not just that it's "hard to understand." If there's an effort to get you to adopt a different style, it's one of collaborative improvement, involving both experts and non-experts. I'd ask you to try to tell us what it needs rather than try immediately to rewrite it. If you will, you are the expert on understandability.
OK, thanks, if you would like me to improve the article, ask for my help, but as a condition for me participating on this particular article, I'd like some sense that I'm not being sucked into an editing battle over specifics. I think the vpn article is in fairly good shape (it exists, it's better than WP, yes it could be improved, clarified, but there are hot subjects which CZ doesn't even have an article on -- let me contribute there first, please) VPN is far down the list of my priorities (#1 = boosting CZ readership).--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
For example, do you think the VPN article needs more on business case and financial analysis, and would that make it better than WP's? If so, I can adapt book-length things I've done, or real VPN implementations. Why go for a secondary source when either I have access to primary or to direct experience?
Probably. What I recommend is this: suppose you're a person in a business or academia or government who knows nothing about computers, networks, the Internet. You've been told: "Your job is to explore whether we should get a vpn". This person doesn't even know what a byte is. Now, help them. Right now, the article is better than before, but it's written as if it assumes the person is a techie, familiar with networks, routers, complex stuff. Assume they don't know this; now help them.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't have a doctorate, although I've held jobs, such as in Nortel's corporate research lab, where my job description called for "doctorate or equivalent". Of my immediate colleagues, only one person actually had a doctorate, and it was in a field of physics that had little to do with what we did. I am in the odd position of being an undergraduate dropout who has written textbooks used in graduate courses in computer science/network engineering, and got into a number of fields before there was heavy credentialing. Take terrorism -- I was working in an Army research center, at American University, during the Vietnam War, and dealing with very real-world situations, different than the major threats today. Relatively recently, I've done open source intelligence consulting, sometimes not knowing who eventually would see my work, but knowing that it was a cross-check on the classified work.
Impressive. You have amazing experience. It's cool that you a person with your wide background is helping here. I appreciate your contributions. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying what you mean by secondary sources. Let me give you full credit for motivating me: while I had done an article on self-radicalization, your comments on terrorism prevention strategies led me to start the higher-level article on radicalization. If you look at my sourcing, though — and seriously, correct me if you think otherwise — I make relatively little use of what I think of as secondary sources, or at least news reporters for other than specific or current events (somebody crashed a plane into a building). When I do write on a breaking subject, when requested to do so about al-Shabab in Somalia, I did a lot of cross-checking and "original synthesis" of news reports.
Excellent. Right now these subjects are less of a priority for me.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
As a CZ Editor, which is very different than a WP editor, I will first try to guide the technical level of a discussion. Really, I'd rather not get heavy-handed and issue a formal ruling "no, it doesn't work that way."
As an author who is also an expert, I desperately want readability reviewers for complex articles such as intelligence interrogation, U.S., George W. Bush Administration.
Ask me in six months if I'm still here. My focus is getting readers. This is a much less important topic, and I urge you to focus on traffic driver articles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
That's the way I work. I hope we can find productive ways to work together, but there are going to be differences from WP. I only picked up VPN because it was in your list; I've blued a number of your redlinks (sometimes by changing it to the name of the existing article). From my perspective, that's trying to work with you.Howard C. Berkowitz 05:53, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I appreciate your efforts on un-red-linking the "hot" articles on WP, the ones that drive traffic. I think that list is something that all of us CZers should focus on. At this point, I don't think it makes much sense for us to bicker over the details of specific articles (which results in us un-doing each other's work). Rather, let's get CZ up to speed first, see if we can't bring in more readers; if we can accomplish this, then we can fuss over stuff, okay? Right now my project is 2012 -- let me work up something. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:56, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Let me answer indirectly about writing or not writing "traffic driver" articles. On Friday, I happened to be at a meeting of the adult education committee of a Unitarian church. As you know, Unitarians often are on the political left. We were, in part, discussing a presentation we had just had on the Iranian nuclear issue and the regional power balance -- it was quite well attended, so it was a "traffic driver". Some very basic questions about Islamic politics/theology came up, but also some more sophisticated ones. There were also some very emotional outbursts about, variously, the Shi'a being heretics, or that this is all the fault of the "fascist" Americans and Israelis.
In the committee discussion, I happened to make an offhand reference to some of the religious-political dynamics, and I got a very stunned look from a very knowledgeable retired minister, who said he had never heard of most of the Sunni factions I was discussing -- yet which are major power players. He eventually suggested I do a program tentatively titled "Radical Islam 101". Along with this, there was also some interest in my doing a reality-based presentation on very basic missiles, nuclear weapons, and missile defense, to help frame the Iran discussion.
To me, this sort of information is essential for people to be informed citizens. I may be able to drive traffic to it by getting links in blogs and issue sites. I also have an obligation to "pay it forward" in my profession, so I write about things where I am expert, such as VPN, cloud computing, and BGP, and look for feedback about where more information or explanation is needed.
I'm just not going to be an effective writer about popular issues such as 2012; I can only comment about Lady Gaga from a testosterone-driven standpoint. I can read an article if it that will help. In the community here, however, I'd hope there is a willingness to help one another. I just had an email conversation that suggests that one of Google's drivers is the number of links pointing to a site, rather than the number of queries on a topic. Rather than trying to write popular articles here, that argument says a driver may be to make sure there are links from other sites. In some cases, that means writing articles here to which specialized sites will want to link.
Agreed. The more links, the better. You're saying: quality articles --> more links --> more traffic. I agree. What I'm saying is: Quality articles on hot in-demand subjects --> more links --> even more traffic.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:47, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Truly, Tom, I asked about vpn because it was in your list, and originally red (lower case to the abbreviation)--general comment; we may need a number of redirects for lower case search terms. Now, the discussion did get a useful piece of information from Paul Wormer about readability, and some more technical contributions from Sandy Harris. I'm going to have a technical argument (hopefully constructive) with Sandy, merely to establish that his "always" is a "most of the time" and show some exceptions.
The issue of lower-case article titles vs. upper-case article titles -- is this important? If we have an article called "VPN" but users search for "vpn" or "Vpn", will it be found here on CZ? If there's any issue with the casing of the letters of an article title possibly screwing up Google's crawlers, or interfering with the ability of people on the web with finding the CZ article, we should explore this. If it's fixable with some kind of code, let's fix it. But I was noticing that sometimes a tentative article had a redlink (because it was a different case than our article), but CZ already had the article. Is this an issue for us?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:47, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm perfectly willing to work with multiple ways of improving CZ, but don't expect me to go totally to your view -- and consider that suggestions from me and from others may have merit. In particular, do consider if your style of rewrite and secondary sourcing is the way that major contributors here work. Whether or not you intend it, that gives some flavor of demanding a style, which is probably good defensive style at WP, that is something many of us came here to escape. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:26, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough. We're all volunteers. And we can choose to do, or not do, what we like. But all I'm doing is trying to explain why I'm contributing as I have been. Your tone suggests that I'm dismissing suggestions from others as "not having merit" -- this isn't the case. I listen to people. I try to learn from everybody. I try to make the best choices from what I know.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:47, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
About your criticism of my researching methods -- I think my method of using secondary sources as well as primary sources is perfectly acceptable here and elsewhere since it results in articles which have excellent quality and are accurate and helpful and well-written; I think you've latched on to some ideas of how to go about writing an online encyclopedia article but have lost sight of the results. That is, if you have a good look at any of the articles I've written so far, you're likely to conclude that my work is (1) better than Wikipedia's (2) accurate, interesting (3) informative (4) quality (5) worthy of inclusion here. Are they perfect? No, but nothing is. If you'd like to convince me to switch methods, show me with results. But generally, I think all of this dickering over methods is one more waste of my time which interferes with my agenda of boosting readership.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:47, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm certainly not trying to follow the thousands of words that are being exchanged here, but let me say two things:
1.) Secondary sources are fine. Why shouldn't they be, as long as the citations are correct?
2.) CZ has guidelines for Uppercase and Lowercase, particularly in titles, and articles *must* conform to those standards. Redirects will take care of the rest, whether it's CARE packages, Care packages, Care Packages, or whatever. Don't waste time worrying about it. Hayford Peirce 18:12, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Speaking as an Editor in some specific contexts, secondary sources that oversimplify are not acceptable, when considerably more precise sources are available. Not all secondary sources are bad, but we have had problems, in the past, with overreliance on news media, especially when they drift into opinion and are not clearly identified as to bias. It's fine to use contextualized biased views -- are there any neutral views, for example, of Glenn Beck? :-) Contextualization is key, and I should note that contextualization is something WP rarely does and many of us find an essential and valuable differentiator.
Rewriting and adding secondary sources, to expert-written material, without first discussing on the talk page, is not the CZ way. Right now, for example, there is a sourcing discussion on reactionless propulsion among an author and two Engineering editors, which seems to be quite collaborative. It's a pretty basic CZ rule that we don't go for drive-by rewrite; the issues need to be discussed. That's one way we avoid WP fights.
I am not in competition with Wikipedia and have no intention of forming opinions on whether an article here is, or is not, better than Wikipedia. When it is in a Workgroup in which I am an Editor, however, I may guide the discussion, or question sources. Even if it's an area where I am not a formal Editor but I have expertise, I will comment.
The issue of long quotes in citations has been addressed many time before, and, certainly in Homeopathy, was rejected. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:26, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Sure, every case is different when it comes to secondary sources. If you have primary sources that are available, why not use them? But in many cases, only secondary ones are available or assessable. And if you want an article, you're gonna have to use them. If an *Editor* says in a *specific* case that they *shouldn't* be used, that is, of course, correct. Hayford Peirce 19:31, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Just glanced over this long discussion and wish to add that I think all the details appropriate to the scope of an article should be in there (so no dumbing down) but that this does not preclude having an introductory phrase that is understandable with little or no background. This may be as simple as having the definition instead of the disclaimer (a change for which there was consensus on the forums a while ago, but which will have to wait until the new governing bodies are operational), especially if the definition contains links to articles whose content can be presumed known for readers of the article whose subject it defines.
We all have different motivations to contribute here, and mine is to have a place where I can send students, collaborators from other fields, funders, journalists or even those friends and family who understand English for brief overviews on topics in my field that are publicly accessible in both the technical and the didactic sense. None of these are traffic drivers at large, but several of them top the respective Search engine results pages (e.g. brain morphometry, gyrification and cortical thickness). I would very much welcome both expert and non-expert input to improve these articles. --Daniel Mietchen 10:21, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Continuation of discussion II

(break for easier editing)

(undent) Thanks. I appreciate comments from everybody. I'll try to follow the advice as best I can.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:10, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Google ranking

Tom, there are so many issues in the discussions above that I shall try to briefly address them one by one. I'll start with an easy(?) one:

We all would prefer higher Google ranks. It is indeed curiuous that forum and talk page (and the test wiki) are often listed earlier and higher than main pages. But if there is some technical problem (like robot.txt) then it is not known. On the other hand, CZ should not choose its content policy with an eye on Google ranks. --Peter Schmitt 21:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your thinking. I think the CZ concept is smart and sound, and I like the idea of identified contributors. But it seems like in most other respects, WP gets it right -- wikilinking, Google PageRanks, ease of use, attracting readers and contributors. If there are technical issues, let's solve them. I'm not a technical person, but based on articles like SEO that I wrote about, it's wise to increase inter-linking, and do things to increase exposure. I see Wikipedia as the world's largest legal "link farm". I would like CZ to get to a point where there are enough contributors so we could choose to do serious stuff (I'm interested in citizenship, terrorism, Aeneid, art, lots more stuff) but at this point I'm doing this experiment deliberately to try to increase readership. So I wrote Love, HDMI, 2012, Elin Nordegren and junk like that to try to attract readers. IF the experiment works, then I think CZ will be better off, since more authors will contribute hopefully.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

A post scriptum: In (not so few) cases we can even be glad that the articles do not rank high -- there are articles we cannot be proud of, so we are lucky that they are not shown ... --Peter Schmitt 21:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Agreed.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:19, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
How are we defining driver article? One that spikes occasionally, like Elin Nordegren, or one with a consistently high ranking. It seems the latter would be the most important set to have? 22:36, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Alexa has statistics on "keywords" that change every five minutes. WP has a page showing "top 1000 articles" but it's based on December (don't know how to find the current one). I agree trying to get the consistently highly rated articles is priority -- Nordegren may have peaked, along with Brittany Murphy. Ideally some hot late-breaking topic comes along and we get a quality article BEFORE WP. I'm looking out for this. But I agree -- I'm looking for articles that have consistent interest but it's sometimes tough to judge. What's popular is so fleeting.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:40, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
For specific page names the daily view can be found here. Chris Day 22:53, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I'd love to find one that has the top 1000 articles for March 2010. I also wrote to User:Henrik asking him could he help us with his traffic measurement tool here; haven't heard back from him.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:03, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I also contacted him — same result. Apart from that, the best way to generate interest is still to have good content and to talk about it in frequently visited places like blogs or forums. We could also think about reviving the Citizendium blog (which is read by quite a few people) and present a selection of articles that are approved, nearing approval or new, along with an invitation for feedback. Of course, we are all free to blog or otherwise muse about CZ stuff. --Daniel Mietchen 00:16, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Is there any reason why we can't have page view counters on every article page? WP when it first started out had a page counter feature at the bottom of every article. Meg Ireland 00:51, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Meg, the page view counters have been switched on since Jan 25 - just check any page (e.g. this one). Details. Thomas, Henrik replied positively. --Daniel Mietchen 15:07, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry Daniel, I should have been more precise. I was thinking about hits per day rather than in total. Meg Ireland 22:03, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Style issues

On CZ there is (and should be) place for different styles and levels. Both technical articles (but well-structured and clearly written) and simplified expositions (but not "dumbed down" or oversimplified) are needed. Of course, (regardless of style and level) they have to pass the quality test.

I'm all for quality, excellence, good writing. But how to get there? Sometimes I think CZ has the wrong approach by going for "expert level" articles that are "perfect". I came across an article about parallel lines, and the concept forgot to mention that the two parallel lines that never touched had to be on the same plane. The WP article beats the pants off the CZ article, and I think there's a lesson here -- opening things up for questioning, not striving for "expertise", often brings the BEST stuff, since differing views can be challenged, expanded; but striving for perfect stuff often brings the opposite. Ben Stein (TV show guy) once wrote "the BEST is the enemy of the GOOD", and wrote how one author writing 5 books will probably write something better than one perfectionist-type author who spends ten years on that one novel; I know somebody who is the perfectionist type, trying to write the perfect novel, and I've written more stuff than her (book, screenplay, lots of Amazon reviews, WP, CZ, etc etc).--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:35, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Regarding footnotes: I agree with Howard that you use them far too often, e.g., in HDMI: Already in the introduction, I count three 1's (NYT, with a rather pointless quote), four 2's (the FAQ) and two 3's (again NYT). What do they prove? The FAQ should be in the Bibliography (or External Links), and the quote should be referenced (but why quote at all?).

I'll try to use footnotes less often. Habit I picked up from WP. It's a defensive tactic I used to keep my stuff from getting scrubbed off WP. At the same time, I don't know how much to use the annotated bibliography, but I'll start going there more often. I'll try to have only one footnote after each paragraph, or use the subpages section. Btw, I wonder if the whole "subpages" system screws up the Google robot crawlers, so they can't figure out what points to what.

And I do not think that section headings like "Cable price? Prepare for sticker shock" are adequate -- this is not a newspaper article.--Peter Schmitt 21:45, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree -- a bit too outlandish. But WP missed the whole cable price brouhaha (the WP HDMI article is "overseen" I bet by HDMI marketing types) -- it's an ad for HDMI that omitted the consumer backlash. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:35, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
parallel is a completely inadequate stub. One of those articles that should not pop up in a search. The picture you added is a borderline case. The tracks are parallel only for a short distance. What about curves? (The pictures for surface and plane don't fit at all.) --Peter Schmitt 23:47, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree about pictures. I looked for tracks which looked straight forever. Yes, there will be curves. Trying to make the article more beautiful to look at. I was thinking of a diagram but then I thought it woudlnd't have been as beautiful. Chop the pictures if you like about plane and surface. Just trying to make it prettier to look at.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:50, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
It's a matter of taste I guess but personally for mathematic articles, I would digress. A simple annotated diagram, easily drawn up in Illustrator, needs no copyright permissions required. It will IMO explain more than a picture/s, but yours are good nonetheless. Meg Ireland 00:42, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Traffic drivers

Each Author is free to choose on what topics he is writing. So there is nothing wrong with your choices of "hot topics" (though, in some cases, I have my doubts if they merit an entry).

What, you don't like bromance!.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:10, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
See previous forum discussion here: [2]. Meg Ireland 01:26, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Meg, interesting discussion.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:26, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

But I doubt your logic that they may attract more readers than other topics. As it is at the moment, the WP entry will rank high while the CZ entry will be listed many pages later -- if the topic is hot there probably will be even more entries between WP and CZ than usual. How should this attract readers? (Many readers will go to WP directly, anyway.)

You're probably right that the experiment will fail. Still, I'm trying. I realize whatever happens, WP will win in terms of pageranking. What I am striving for, however, is to boost CZ's presence, to attract more readers, to attract more contributors. The end result is this: I like writing stuff that people read. I'm not motivated to write in an obscure encyclopedia with no readership. I like CZ's identified contributor arrangement.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:10, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
As you know there is strong sentiment that in the online encyclopedia world, content is king. Even back in 2007, there was an article in Computing.UK comparing Citizendium and Wikipedia. Here's what was written:--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
"In a straight comparison between the two wiki-based encyclopaedias, the incumbent wins hands down. Why? Simply because it already has the content. Without content, online resources become worthless and don’t attract repeat visitors. ... Citizendium is a great concept and a big step towards the maturing of wiki-based information. It is still in beta and should not be judged too harshly, but it’s difficult not to feel the service has gone live too early, with too little useful content to attract users and perhaps a community to keep contributing to it." Source: Computing UK article in 2007. (note: bold added by moi--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
If content is what it's lacking, and if content is FREE on Wikipedia, I see no problem in compensating for our initial disadvantage (by being founded later than WP) by borrowing heavily from WP, initially, just to get the CZ project going -- then, as time goes by and CZ gets its own contributors, and with it's better method of working using identified contributors, it will be better able to compete in terms of usefulness. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

If one wants to choose articles strategically, it is better to do articles that WP has not (though, of course, such topics are hard to find). They may be searched by fewer people, but chances are higher that they find it CZ.-Peter Schmitt 00:03, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Got any ideas? I definitely agree. If something comes on the news and I can write it quickly, and WP doesn't have it, I'll do it.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:10, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
One example, where Joe Quick asked me to put up something quickly, was the al-Shabab insurgency in Somalia. Of necessity, the first few sources were purely news media, but I was able to add synthesis by matching the characteristics of the U.S. helicopters used in a raid with the Navy capabilities to carry them. As more detailed information came in, such as detailed interviews with diplomats and some think tank reports, they were added. As connections were seen to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and resistance in Yemen, Kenya and elsewhere, they were added, and crosslinks went into the other articles. I haven't done day-by-day maintenance, but I think this sort of thing is both a good topic for current news reporting and for CZ value-add. Other areas, such as recent captures in Pakistan, don't lend themselves to a great amount of synthesis because there just isn't much hard data on the Pakistani motivations.
For "breaking news", again, the best approach is to mention early, perhaps on the Forums and mailing list, an interest in doing it. My experience here, for example, includes not-infrequently finding someone that might know a local language or have other sources. Avoid assuming that you are going to be the only contribution — it may happen that way, but do try to reach out for collaboration. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:06, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Howard. Good job on this stuff.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:09, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

WP imports

Some do not like WP imports, others have nothing against them. I am one of those who prefer newly written articles. Of course, there is much good content on WP, and if so, WP can be used as a source and as a inspiration (among other sources). But, in my opinion, it is (much) better to write articles independently, from the scratch.

Why? I have several reasons.

  • First of all, I personally see not much purpose in importing and adapting an article. It is better to look at several good sources, learn from them, and then draft an article. (That is what students should do instead of "cut and paste".) It will result in a more coherent article.
It's a complex logic that I've tried to explain before. And I'm not sure if it's right. Check my user page if interested. The ultimate purpose is to boost CZ readership.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • According to CZ policy, imported articles have to be changed considerably. The result is either an article that still has the same structure as the WP article, or the rewrite was as much work (or even more work) than a completely new article.
"Changing considerably" is lots of work. This slows me down. I try to do the best I can. Often writing from scratch is faster, more accurate. Do you realize that WP rips off a lot of CZ stuff as well? Both encyclopedias are free. So I wonder if the two encyclopedias REALLY DO COMPETE in terms of content as you're imagining. Rather, don't they compete in this dimension: usefulness? And having a better place for contributors to contribute?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Importing from WP is a bad strategy: If a user searches for a topic he will -- more likely than not -- first look into WP. Let us assume that he is then looking for additional material and finds the CZ article. If this article looks familiar and similar to the (already) known WP article he will take it for one of the many mirrored articles, and not start to read it (and therefore not notice the differences in detail). Will this experience motivate him to consult CZ again? I do not think so.
Hypothetically yes. But do you know anybody who can FIND the CZ article for purposes of comparison? When I hunt for CZ on the web, it's on the TENTH PAGE or farther back, if I even find it. I can't find my article Philosophy of Spinoza using Google; it's been there a month. The article DOESN'T EVEN APPEAR. That's a problem. I think perhaps the only people who compare CZ and WP articles are CZ or WP writers -- you and me -- the rest of the public I bet doesn't care one iota.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • The same argument holds for other imported content (not only from WP), as well. I think that CZ has to strive for original material, (quality) content that is only found here. Material that makes users consult CZ independently of search engine results.
Again, this assumes that the two online "free content" encyclopedias compete in terms of content. I question this. There is much swapping of information back and forth. It's all free. I think CZ is a better model for contributors, but my current view is that anything we can do here to boost CZ's web presence, readership, and "usefulness", trumps any considerations about how we do this. I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to jump start CZ by porting over the hottest 1000 WP articles -- just to see if it brought more traffic here -- and hopefully getting good unbiased contributors to switch sides.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
How else should two online encyclopedias compete -- than in terms of content? If it is in terms of traffic that you want to compete: Let it be! Or set up a mirror of WP and try to lure users to your site by some cute means of advertisment ... --Peter Schmitt 09:56, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

(By the way: Do not forget to check the "content from WP" box as long as some WP material stays on the page. Or add a statement if the import is essentially your own work.)

I wondered how much is too much? Sometimes I rewrite so extensively that I don't know how much is WP and how much is mine. If I pull a diagram, chart, or picture? And do I have to keep checking the "content is from WP" after every addition, even if subsequent revisions are entirely my own stuff?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

--Peter Schmitt 00:55, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Generally I agree. I think we both want the same things. I realize this is how many people here feel about not using WP.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
You only check the Content is from Wikipedia ONCE -- I think. It ought to stay there through all subsequent edits once it's been checked off. We could experiment, I suppose.... Hayford Peirce 01:46, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I've just tested it at the Tommy Hambledon article. You check off the box ONCE, and then it STAYS checked off, with the notice at the bottom of the page, until it's been unchecked. But you don't uncheck it unless it is *really* valid to do so! Hayford Peirce 04:32, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately it seems to "disappear" sometimes -- perhaps it gets easily urnchecked by accident. As for this box: It does not depend on how much WP content is present as long as there is any. (This is different from the CZ distinction between "live" and "import" - status >0 or 0.) I am not sure about pictures -- they have their own credit, so they probably do not count? --Peter Schmitt 10:05, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Vandalism (subject)

(broken off from ranking discussion) Solid harmonics (main article) held 2nd place for a long time (guess which version, also written by me, held and holds first place?) and is now third. --Paul Wormer 15:17, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Paul, just out of interest, the following edits have been made to the wikipedia version of Solid harmonics since your last edits. Are they subtle vandalism or are these changes valid? I always thought that a real problem in wikipedia is the subtle vandalism that can go unnoticed for years. That is the advantage of flagged or approved versions. It's not that they are error free but that they are immune to devious vandalism. Chris Day 16:06, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
There is an anonymous guy at WP who has spent the last year or so making *very* subtle but erroneous edits to a lot of the tennis articles. Right now he is taking quotes from Jack Kramer's bio, which I used in many WP articles to illustrate various points, and *adding* a name to them. So that if, in three or four scattered articles, there's a (correct) statement like: "Kramer said that Ellsworth Vines had the best serve, followed by Pancho Gonzales," this character will change it to read, "Kramer said that Ellsworth Vines had the best serve, followed by John Doeg and Pancho Gonzales." There actually *was* a good player named Doeg who had a great serve, but he is not in Kramer's book. He's doing a whole ton of stuff like that, all under various sockpuppets. So anytime you talk about changing the CZ structure to something more liberal, then this is the result you're eventually going to get. And the subtle stuff he's doing could eventually go viral throughout *all* the imitation WPs and become "true facts".... Hayford Peirce 17:07, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Noticing something weird

Since I've been here I've written numerous articles on diverse topics. In almost all cases, I can't find articles I've written here using a google search. It's been about a month now. This doesn't make sense. EVEN IF I PUT THE TERM "CITIZENDIUM" in the search my articles don't appear. Big problem. I suspect something TECHNICAL. This doesn't have anything to do with Wikipedia being bigger; rather, something CZ is doing means we're shooting ourselves in the foot.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

What's weirder is this: sometimes the "category" pages of my articles DO appear. Why?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

So if I google "Philosophy of Spinoza" (in quotes) and "citizendium" I'll get four listings (not showing the article) but which DOES show the page "Category:Philosophy Catalogs". Why? Why does a catalog page appear, and not the article?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

My tentative working hypothesis is: Citizendium's subpage system CONFUSES THE BEJESUS OUT OF THE CRAWLERS. When Google crawls our site, the "related articles", "categories", subpages screw it up. The spiders can't figure out what links to what. It's too complex or distorted or something. Sometimes Google's crawlers DO somehow figure out what's what, so there are a few CZ articles which can actually be found. Or maybe it takes much, much longer for this to happen (months, years?). This is my guess. I'm not a technical person. But I'm usually RIGHT about stuff -- hey, after all it's my middle name.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

I strongly urge technically minded people here to study this more fully. But don't form a committee and explore this for months; rather, is there a way to do an experiment, by switching to a simpler linking format (without the confusing subpages!) and seeing if we get greater web exposure?????? Let's act fast. We need action on this.-Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

You are right. The main article Lucille Ball (15 months old) is not found by Google. The subpage Lucille Ball/Filmography is found, though in a very low ranking.--Paul Wormer 14:37, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Coming at it from the other direction, why does "Restructuring of the United States Army", which is one of the terms in official Army literature, come in as #4 on Google? Howard C. Berkowitz 14:58, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I have no idea. Solid harmonics (main article) held 2nd place for a long time (guess which version, also written by me, held and holds first place?) and is now third. I cannot see any systematics, and I'm very pessimistic about a solution that is good for CZ. --Paul Wormer 15:17, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

There is a forum thread on this important topic too. See here. Chris Day 16:09, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

PageRank experiment

Check out the wikitable: Experiment -- CZ articles by Google Pagerank I did a mini-study of CZ articles chosen randomly, from different authors. The google search was "Article name" citizendium -- that's it, with the article title in quotes. Sometimes CZ articles came first, but surprisingly many times the "Related Article" pages, "Catalog" pages, or "Workgroup" pages BEAT OUT THE ACTUAL ARTICLE. Clearly something's wrong here. It confirms my suspicion that the related-articles subsystem confuses the Google crawlers, so that they can't figure out what links to what and as a result, CZ's web exposure suffers bigtime.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:22, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Tentative things I notice: DATE is an important variable -- my articles created within the last month or so did NOT get ranked on Google. Further, no articles that were created in 2009 (of the ones that I studied) achieved a #1 pagerank spot -- if on the wikitable you click the date column first, then click the article page rank second, you'll see that articles achieving #1 spot were created in 2008 or earlier.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:30, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Other things I notice: sometimes the related stuff beats out the article, as Paul Wormer pointed out. Check out User:Paul Wormer's article Lucille Ball in the wikitable experiment above. The article gets beat out by a subcategory in the google pageranking. Something's amiss here.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:30, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

I looked at the Google cache of the articles I found -- they usually were cached in March (only a few earlier, but all 2010).
Subpages may confuse which of the (sub)pages of an article is shown, but they cannot be the reason for some page not to be shown at all.
Moreover, links from and to subpages are not the only links. There are the usual wikilinks (just as in WP) as well.
Perhaps subpages should be disallowed in robots.txt? (Though I doubt that it helps.) And the test-wiki should be blocked at all.ereeeeeeeee
A major ingredient for page rank are links to an article from other sites, of course.
--Peter Schmitt 17:50, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Agreed about incoming links from other sites. Still, I strongly suspect that CZ's format screws up its web presence. At the bare minimum, we should see what Wikipedia does technically, regarding links -- WP has it right -- and copy their format. This departure using "subpages" I believe is a horrendous shoot-oneself-in-the-foot mistake, but of course this needs more exploration.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:45, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
The use of subpages was an original idea by our esteemed founder and leader Dr. Sanger. [3]. IMO removing them will have little difference to search rankings. What affects search rankings is incoming external links. Meg Ireland 22:14, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Why do you feel removing the subpages system will have little effect? I'm kind of looking at it from the perspective of Suppose I'm a google crawler and I crawled through Citizendium's site trying to figure out what's important by looking at what links to what. And my sense is that I would be confused by the subpages, parent topics, separate bibliographies, etc. The way Wikipedia has it (no subpages) is simpler, more direct, clearer, more crawl-able. I can tell there's confusion from a couple of concrete examples: Philosophy of Spinoza which I wrote -- it's been on CZ about a month. I can't find it on Google EVEN IF I include the term "citizendium". BUT I can't find a page on Google showing that my spinoza article is on some category page. Why is this? How come google can find a category workgroup page, but NOT my article? This doesn't make sense to me. Paul Wormer's article "Lucille Ball" ranks BELOW a Lucille Ball subpage, even though the article has been around for a year. Further, if you check out my wikitable, Experiment -- CZ articles by Google Pagerank click the dates first (to organize the list by date) then click the page ranking, you'll see there are NO CZ articles written after 2007 which place #1 in a google search, even if you use the article name AND include the term "citizendium". That's a whole year. Looks to me like google's crawlers are confused. What this means is that my experiment of working with "hot" articles is a waste of time. When I google Lady Gaga, it's Lady Nada. When I google my Romantic love, I'm heartbroken. I'm fairly sure this is a technical problem with huge implications.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:05, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
One solution might mean we keep the subpages etc but we make extra effort to put in direct links to our articles. That is, we link directly the CZ article with its subpages by a wikilink RIGHT ON THE PAGE. I don't know. Who on the CZ project is technical that can help us here?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:05, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
You don't make such a major change just to test if it effects the PageRanks (how would you check this, anyway?).
Moreover, the crawler recognizes the links and follows them, as some of the hits show. Most likely CZ is not important enough to search for new pages on a regular basis. But it is visited regularly, as the cache dates show.
Its probably like this: More pages generally increase overall pageranks, but since the pages in a cluster are linked with each other this effect is neutralized -- each page gets about the same rank the main page without subpages would get.
More links from important websites could help ...
--Peter Schmitt 23:59, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Is it possible to conduct experiments without any major technical changes? For example, suppose there's some article like Philosophy of Spinoza which has a page rank of 0. Suppose we put direct wikilinks on other CZ articles to the PofS article just to see if it bumps up its pagerank. Why not try it? It wouldn't hurt anything. Plus, I'm using your Google PageRank tool to grab more information to add to my wikitable. I agree links from exterior sites are a good idea and we should definitely do this when possible. Not sure if I grasp what you're saying about links cancelling out. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:04, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The page has to be added to the Google index first ... And the page index will mainly depend on the overall CZ rank. How would you recognize the outcome of your experiment? (Don't be so obsessed with rankings...) --Peter Schmitt 00:19, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The subpages system certainly has numerous implications but I do not think that it has any major influence on CZ's search rankings (the crawlers only care about the HTML, not about CZ:Templates that help create it). The major problems we have in terms of PageRank (perhaps also worth some revamp) is the lack of content that people would link to from outside (see your Image:PageRanks-Example.jpg). --Daniel Mietchen 00:16, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

(undent) If the subpages isn't to blame, what is? How come I write Philosophy of Spinoza and after a month, even I can't find it on google EVEN IF I type "Philosophy of Spinoza" and "citizendium" in the search bar. That is, the article's author using a TARGETED SEARCH. And nada comes up. So, if I can't read find my own article, how can anybody else? There's a problem here.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:53, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm learning new stuff. What articles is it POSSIBLE to find on Citizendium? Here they go: human, anthropology, money supply, Nobel Prize, chimpanzee, terrorism, money, Henry Ford, Great Britain, Albert Einstein, linear algebra, photosynthesis, Restructuring of the United States Army, truth applied social sciences, Scottish Parliament, horticulture. Why these? What do these articles have that others don't???--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:53, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Plus, I continue to urge CZers to take a look at this wikitable -- I added new information about Google's PageRank (eg 3/10) plus new articles: Experiment -- CZ articles by Google Pagerank What's going on? --Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:53, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

What do you mean by "is possible to find"? Finding them after adding "Citizendium" makes no sense. A user who wants to search CZ will best go to the site. Which "can be found" without adding CZ? Solid harmonics. What else? Fortunately, the poor stubs on linear algebra and plane (geometry) do not turn up high in the list. --Peter Schmitt 23:24, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Peter, we also have some good articles, even if there hasn't been much collaboration. It puzzles me why a comprehensive and internally linked article, Taliban, isn't showing up, while others are. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:15, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
No doubt. And it is a pity if they are not found. I only wanted to point out that in the case of two of the articles in Tom's list that (though known to Google and shown when searching for CZ articles) are "correctly" not shown when searching the whole net.
Howard, I do not know why some articles are listed and some are not. For new articles it may be that CZ is indexed only rarely. (How long does it take for a new WP article to show up? Is this known?).
"Taliban Citizendium" finds Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Afghanistan on reid.citizendium, but Taliban is known to Google: Searching for "Taliban Farsi plural tribal loyalities" finds it).
Probably there are too few links (from high-ranking sites) to CZ pages.
--Peter Schmitt 17:18, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
sigh and Jalaluddin has passed power to his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, who really merits his own article at this point. Your second search is more nuanced and contextualized, which may mean that the serious researcher will find the article, but the generalist will not. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:26, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I took the search terms from your article. Don't know if they are a natural choice. (I just wanted to find out if it is indexed. --Peter Schmitt 23:38, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Philosophy of Spinoza has been indexed by Google, too. It was cached on 12 March. It is found (3rd item) by searching for "Spinoza Anthony Gottlieb logical geometric method". --Peter Schmitt 09:03, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
You sir are brilliant! Thank you! How did you figure that out? So Spinoza does make an appearance. Like, it exists. I'll be asking for help with improvements, I have some good sources on it, but I'm also interested in other areas too.
On another subject, I'm wondering if I might ask your advice about how to do a mathematical correlation on data, like is there a way to get one of those graphs that have the lines indicating a correlation between data about PageRank and Internal linking on the page PageRank analysis of Citizendium articles?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 10:36, 22 March 2010 (UTC)


It is not necessary to redirect Philosophy of spinoza -- wrong title! -- to Philosophy of Spinoza. "Go" finds it even if lc/uc is wrong. --Peter Schmitt 00:01, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Then why does this light up red: philosophy of spinoza. It used to light up red before the REDIRECT.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:05, 20 March 2010 (UTC) Better example: nobel prize in physics but Nobel Prize in Physics. See what I'm saying -- one is red, one is blue. Why?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:09, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The link has to be written correctly. Thus Philosophy Of Spinoza is red. But if you write it into the search box, then it will be found. (And it is useful to require that links are written correctly.) --Peter Schmitt 00:13, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Not sure what you're getting at. What does it mean for the link to be written correctly? And if I try to find nobel prize in physics but can't find it (since it's red), wouldn't the google crawlers make the same mistake?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:22, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
As an Author, putting a link on a page, you should first check for the title of the page and then use it -- instead of typing some arbitrary title and then creating a redirect. (Are you sure about the effect of a redirect on PageRank? ;-) --Peter Schmitt 01:31, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Obviously I understand about the importance of getting a link right, but I'm still not clear what you're trying to get at here, and I don't think you understand it either. But here's the problem: why does a wikilink with a different casing (lc/uc) light up RED? Shouldn't it be blue? IF a wikilink lights up red, wouldn't the crawlers have the same experience -- not being able to find an article -- therefore we'll get lower PageRank rankings?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:39, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Thomas, you're beating a dead horse here -- the same thing happens at WP with *their* wikilinks. If you type in History of professional Tennis Players, say, that might get you a red link, whereas History of Professional Tennis Players will get you a blue link and take you to that article. So if the crawlers are confused by it here at CZ, they would also be confused at WP. And I really think that you're being a little disrespectful to Dr. Schmitt here -- please remember our policy about professionalism. Thanks! Hayford Peirce 01:46, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
In a nutshell, nobel prize in physics is fine for typing in the box, but it needs capitals, nobel Prize in Physics, to be a successful link (though, as you can see, the first one needn't be). Same at WP. Don't know about these crawler chappies, mind. Ro Thorpe 02:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Learning new stuff

I added a new variable to the experimental wikitable -- "what links here". Check it out: Experimental wikitable about PageRank variables And it's pretty clear that what happens is this: articles which have lots of links feeding in to them, such as Restructuring of the United States Army, will be ranked higher. There are loads of articles feeding into this one; very few articles feeding into Lady Gaga. There's a pretty strong looking correlation between "what links here" (count) and "Google PageRank". So the SEO stuff bears out, and the "hot article" idea washes out too. The reason that older articles seem to have greater web presence is that since they've been around longer, there are more links going to them.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

So, what happens at Wikipedia is that since there are so MANY people putting links in, and the whole site has become a giant link farm, we tend to overlook the fact that here, with only a sliver of the editors, but with much higher quality editing here, the whole business of linking is put on the back burner. But it's vitally important to helping build traffic here. So, the best method for me, perhaps, is not to write lots of different articles in different areas, but to pick an area, and write lots of articles about it -- kind of like what HB has done regarding terrorism. There are a whole slew of articles. Pick a subject area; and write lots of good stuff in that area, and interlink them like crazy.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Also, I think it's worthwhile considering:--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Let's seriously consider unblocking crawlers from user pages. These are more links on these pages -- links that feed into articles we work on, other people. Merely unblocking the crawlers should help increase web exposure. If this requires some kind of decision-approval process, let's put it on the agenda.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Article drivers. Still perhaps a good idea, but they must be interlinked, with numerous subsidiary articles, like a whole forest or thicket of them, to make them work.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Lots of little feeder articles may be better than a few big ones. Useful nuggets to help build a bigger one. So this is an argument for so-called "lemma" articles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Build from our successes so if one article is particularly strong in terms of traffic, such as anthropology, we can make sure to link that to articles we're trying to bring along. Anthropology is a strong link -- anything it feeds to is likely to boost exposure to whatever it links to. So, if we write an article about medical anthropology, make sure there's a link from the anthropology article to the medical anthropology article.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Post PageRank statistics on talk pages of articles. Let's encourage CZers to do this using that tool from Google. That way, if there's a popular article, others will be especially alert to connect it with others.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Let's alert each other to external sites which permit links to CZ, particularly if they're popular sites. Does WP have a policy of discouraging links to CZ? When we find such sites, let's tell each other about them, and link! link! link!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:48, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • And I'm coming around to the idea that the subpages system may not be to blame after all -- although I still think it's a rather clumsy arrangement. And I'm still not sure about any of this (but I'm less certain than before that subpages were to blame, although I still think it involves two steps as opposed to one.) But it still might be a good experiment to have two identical articles -- one indirectly linked mostly by subpages; and one linked with "see also" direct wikilinks -- and see which one wins in terms of PageRank. Thank you to somebody for pointing out the PageRank tool. I still think we should consider that if Wikipedia is doing something a certain way, we should copy their format.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 04:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I fully agree with your conclusion that producing content in context — i.e. by having strong core articles and many others around, all intensively interlinked — is the way to go in terms of search engine optimization. Most of us have come to similar conclusions, though more from the angle of navigating users through our content. It really helps that you document your thoughts in so much detail — thanks for that! --Daniel Mietchen 10:24, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
The structure of CZ -- subpages, links, splitting pages -- is editorial matter. What pages to create, how to link them, etc. -- I strongly oppose the suggestion to subject these content matters to tactical considerations.
Internal links do not change the (average) rank of CZ. They only can shift points between pages. Heavy linking is likely to distribute rank evenly.
--Peter Schmitt 23:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree Peter, editorial decisions rule. It's all about overall quality -- that in the long run wins. I think there will be harmony for both purposes -- producing quality content that relates to other quality content in context -- better than WP, expert-driven, excellent sources, well written. quality information, unbiased, informative, beautiful pictures, linked appropriately. That's what I'm aiming for. I've been exploring this whole issue of internal linking with help from DM and HB and others, and it's been kind of a huge wake-up call for me.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
I had thought that writing "hot articles" (according to Alexa) would boost the traffic here; now I think that approach is unlikely to work. The bad news is, then, for me, that writing about in-demand subjects such as Lady Gaga or Romantic love or DVD or Acai berry ain't gonna boost readership. There are no quickie fixes.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The good news is: I think I understand better how to build traffic, not as a "tactic" but as a legitimate way to work the system. It's work. It requires producing quality content. But it's essentially to follow the HB approach in article creation -- a thicket of articles with a common theme. I disagree that "heavy linking is likely to distribute rank evenly" but my thinking has been influenced by discussion with others here at CZ, writing articles such as SEO, exploring Google's PageRank tool, reading Google's own pages. And I'll continue to include external links as best I can and do other helpful things. For me, a big motivation here is having articles that people on the web can actually find and read; if the thicket approach doesn't work, then I'll have to think of something else.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Bad news: external links decrease PageRank ;-) (a little bit) --Peter Schmitt 00:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Why? This is at odds with my current understanding. Please share your expertise here. Specifically, what things can I do that will make it possible for more people to see and read my article Philosophy of Spinoza?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:16, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I am not an expert. I only browsed the sources I mentioned in the forum and in PageRank/Bibliography. You cannot do much. You need links from other sites -- probably many. And, obviously, the position in a Google listing is only partially due to the page rank. It can well be that some sites are promoted. -Peter Schmitt 17:34, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

An experiment in weblinking

Possibly relevant to some of your discussions here: Try to add links to this document (see also forum thread). I would be glad to see CZ articles serve as link targets but the little content we have is really an impediment to this - for most of the topics covered in here, there is a better source available. --Daniel Mietchen 12:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

I added links. The first time my links didn't stick (because I hadn't signed in to my Google account); but the second time, I think the links are there unless they get removed.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Great idea! I emailed the author of the piece. I inserted a link to Citizendium. I bet it will probably be removed, but who knows?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:46, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I've written loads of Amazon book reviews (100+). I'm wondering if anybody knows how I can put links to CZ in my book reviews? Amazon has begun an interlinking effort within the reviews (along the lines of SEO) -- so that in a book review, I can put a link to another page, within Amazon, to my own book, or to any other product in Amazon. I'm wondering if Amazon would allow links to external sites like CZ. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 12:46, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Again, thanks for chiming in, but the experiment is about legitimate links, so please do not link to CZ articles when they are clearly not amongst the best source on the topic. Ethiopia and Emily Dickinson, for instance, are such cases. I will let the links grow in the document for some more days, though, so if you plan to work on any of these topics here, then the links may well be appropriate. Thanks! --Daniel Mietchen 20:43, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
OK won't add any more links. I was just experimenting to see if I could do it, and trying to be helpful. Please continue pointing me to opportunities to be helpful.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:33, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Next opportunity is a rather academic paper for a conference — one of the rare occasions on which CZ can be presented to a wider audience of people experienced in Things Open. Our paper is about harvesting the interactions between experts and non-experts to bring about something coherent and useful. --Daniel Mietchen 22:04, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

On the other experiment you suggested, fake articles:

  1. today would seem like a good time to do it
  2. Uncyclopedia might be the place

Peter Jackson 16:52, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Nice hint, Peter. Indeed, today would be the day, and I could imagine Jelly bear research and a variant thereof (e.g. Jelly-bear research) to start with. Background here. --Daniel Mietchen 23:25, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Please use the Forums

Hi, Thomas, I do wish that you'd use the Forums for a lot of the stuff that you talk about. It's interesting, and well-thought out, and even important, and I wish that you'd bring it to the attention of *everyone* instead of just those people who are curious enough to read other people's Talk pages. In fact, *most* of the stuff on your own Talk page *ought* to be in the Forums. I'm certainly not going to try to move any of this, but, in the future, if you have stuff of interest to more than just me EXCLUSIVELY, and I mean EXCLUSIVELY, then please start a Forum thread. Thanks! Hayford Peirce 21:50, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your suggestion. I'm not used to using the forums, and don't know how to use them effectively, and get stuff out, and contribute. After I visit the forums, I find that I can't get back to the encyclopedia, but have to X out and start over. I find when I first go to the forums, that there seems a lot of stuff going on, but I have no idea what's important, and I don't want to scroll through stuff trying to find this. It takes time and I find it distracting. It looks like there's a lot of reading and I don't know how to get at the stuff that's important. But I'll try to make more of a concerted effort to use them in the future. But I'll make a mental note not to write stuff on your talk page unless it's only for you.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:52, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I have a concern about the forums as well -- I'm wondering whether participation there undermines CZ's web presence. I haven't explored this issue fully, but my thinking is that when there's a lot of traffic on forums which the google crawlers can't link back to the encyclopedia, then it's essentially wasted traffic, since Google can't figure out that the articles in the CZ are important by looking at traffic in the forums. If so, then we wouldn't get the boost in web presence because the forum threads are unrelated to the CZ stuff; but I may be mistaken about this. I know that in Wikipedia there weren't any forums; and Wikipedia is the KING in terms of web presence. If forum discussion DOES create links to the encyclopedia, then it helps boost our web presence and this is a good thing. I'll probably be asking others about this so don't feel obliged to try to answer my question. And sorry if I've inconvenienced you. My main fun thing here at CZ is creating articles, and the articles I create I want to be read, including cosmic ones like The Burr in the Garden of Eden so readers interested in 2012 can look at the cover of your book with that huge asteroid to the right, and wonder whether you, in fact, predicted 2012.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:52, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
This is a perfect example of what *ought* to be in the Forums! What's so hard about using them, for Pete's sake? You just go there, click on Show unread posts since last visit and read what's going on! Some days there's nothing at all. On a busy day there might be half a dozen posts. What's so hard about that? And as for getting back to CZ, I myself have a Chrome bar across the top of the screen with a Citizendium icon on it. When I'm through with the Forums, I just click on that and I'm back in CZ. For a technologically advanced guy like you, it should be a snap to do the same with any other browser that you might be using instead of Chrome. Hayford Peirce 23:24, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
There are rumours that on the forums there is a cranky person trying to belittle the intelligence of fellow CZers. Is there any truth to this rumour? My general sense is the people here are first-rate, open-minded, tolerant, helpful, smart, skilled, with expertise in diverse areas, and have pleasant personalities, and respect that when people get older, they form habits which they're sometimes loathe to change. Like, my habit is not using forums. If people need to reach me, write on my talk page; I'll reply. I get lost in the forums. I wish to create articles. --Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:25, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Sources for definition

Hi Tom,

I think we do not have a clear policy on this yet, but it is rather unusual, and it interferes with the main purpose of definitions, i.e. the display on related articles pages. As a compromise for the time being, I suggest to keep the source on the definition page but to exclude it from transclusion (Example, Background). --Daniel Mietchen 15:35, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Daniel, I'm not quite clear what you're getting at here. My intent as I'm sure you're aware is to build Google Juice for CZ through lemma articles and encourage web presence here, and any way I can to pack as many wikilinks in a definition I can is what I want, to build greater exposure for scholars such as Elizabeth Vandiver. It would be unnecessary fuss to switch around past lemma articles; rather, I can remove the word "source" from my cut-and-paste if you like, if that makes you feel more comfortable, but I DO want links to the Aeneid, Odyssey and related subjects as much as possible. Would you be satisfied with the following add-on? Here's the add-on I plan to use:--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:48, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
From Greek mythology, ....... according to Elizabeth Vandiver, Classics scholar, authority on Greek mythology and Greek tragedy, including the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Homer, and Virgil. This definition is based on her course Classical Mythology from The Teaching Company.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:48, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Take a look at Megara/Definition versus
Megara [r]: From Greek mythology, she was the first wife of Heracles. She had children with the hero but ran into trouble when the goddess Hera caused Heracles to become temporarily mad, and he killed his children (from three to eight in number; it's unclear) and possibly killed Megara too (an alternative source suggests he gave Megara to Iolaos instead of killing her.) [e]
Do you see that the source is only visible at the former and not the latter? This effect is reached via edits like that of the Example given above, and I think this is much better than your current system, which does not comply with CZ:Definitions in several aspects. Having the source on the Definition page still provides Google juice, but our primary goal is content that makes sense, and mentioning the source of a definition on every page to which the definition is transcluded does not make sense to me. --Daniel Mietchen 00:02, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
I like the tighter definition format but are you sure the crawlers will still get all those links and multiply our Google Juice even if they're buried within the noincludeOn-noincludeOff space? How do you know we'll still get the Google juice? If the include function confuses the crawlers, or if the crawlers figure out that readers won't see the links to the sources, then we lose half the wikilinks. (Plus, there's another reason I'll email you about). Right now my son can't even FIND the Aeneid article by googling it, and the whole idea of this thicket is to build web presence here which, in my view, is a much greater objective than how a definitional format looks (which nobody will ever see if we don't bring more people here). So, how are you sure you're right?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:15, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
I just modified the format such that I think it is acceptable — it links to a page dedicated to the source, and that page in turn can link to any other page you deem suitable. For an example page of what I do in similar cases, see CZ:Ref:DOI:10.1186/1742-2094-6-41. I repeat that intralinks must remain reasonable, and I see no reason why the author of this particular source should be mentioned on every page that links to a definition derived from it. The crawlers, by the way, only crawl pages they "know", and pages directly linked from there, so you should watch out for existing clusters to which a link to any element of your target thicket may be appropriate. --Daniel Mietchen 00:30, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
A further tweak. --Daniel Mietchen 00:38, 10 April 2010 (UTC)


Not sure about horse. My experience is that they are large carnivorous beasts that breathe fire at both ends, although there are a few that are specialized converters for carrots and apples into fertilizer. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:32, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
My personal preference would be to have an animation of horses engaged in sexual intercourse while breathing fire at both ends, although I'm not sure this would work considering Citizendium's family-friendly policy.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:57, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm frustrated

I'll be writing other stuff in the meantime.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:40, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

I apologize if your frustration is due to the above comments. You are free to invite other opinions on the matter, and I will not touch these definitions for a week. --Daniel Mietchen 20:14, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

A question about visitors to my website

Thomas, I have a website on which I have been marketing (for the past 15 years) an engineering book I wrote. My website gets 4,500 to 5,000 visitors a week ... many of whom have come to my website from the CZ Forums website. But over the past 2-3 years that I have been writing CZ articles, not a single visitor has come to my website from which I simply do not understand. It indicates to me that the Forums have many visitors but that has very, very few.

Do you have any better explanation for what I have described? Milton Beychok 22:49, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes. CZ has, what?, 12,000 "articles", most of which are barely more than stubs. One hundred and forty "approved" articles? Why would anyone come to CZ to learn anything? When WP has 3 million articles, many of them of dubious quality, sure, but at least they're *there*. Frankly, I'm absolutely *astonished* that anyone at all ever visits CZ aside from those of us who are writing for it. Hayford Peirce 23:03, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Hayford. I can always count on you to cheer me up. (:>) Milton Beychok 23:24, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Milton, I know little about the CZ Forums. I still don't know whether visits to the CZ forums builds Google Juice to the CZ encyclopedia (I suspect it doesn't). By working on articles like SEO and SERP and doing experiments here at CZ such as the PageRank experiment here and discussing matters with other CZers, my general sense is: wikilinking is the key. It's tough competing with Wikipedia because of its huge database of highly interlinked articles. The best we can do, I think, at this point, is pick a few niche areas, write good core articles on them, and make sure there's a thicket of small lemma-like stub articles on topics relating to the core articles. That's what I'm trying to do with Aeneas; please look over my user page. It's a lot of work. There's a quick way to write lemma articles by starting from a definition (putting in lots of hyperlinks), and then creating a blank article with only the definition. I can show you how to do this if you don't know already. But it's a lot of work. Do you have an article on your book here at CZ? If not, please let me write it. I think we should have articles on more CZers and I'd like to write them.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:36, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Thomas, you can read about my book at Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion. If you want to improve or polish that article, please do so. Milton Beychok 00:04, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I emailed you, not realizing that your book is already on CZ. I think the article needs more pictures. I'm not a technical person but I can write with a marketer's eye, and if I have the material, I think I can improve the article. I think we should have an article on you too. Also, suggest you read my thicket strategy on my user page.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:13, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
But why should anyone read the forum (unless he is interested in CZ, too)? But perhaps the path to your website is shorter from the forum than from CZ (when one is reading an article)?
However -- unfortunately -- I have to agree with Hayford: The poor results of CZ on search engines are still "earned" by the poor content. I neither like the attempt -- nor think that it can be successful -- to improve CZ results by a large number (a thicket) of (overlinked) stubs. The only way are excellent articles (best about not well covered topics) and have them (hopefully) linked from important sites. --Peter Schmitt 23:41, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
Very few of those 5,000 visitors to my site actually buy the book ... in fact, about O.10 percent are buyers (1 out of each 1,000 visitors). Most of the visitors (over 90%) come to my site to read or download a number of relative articles I have included on my website. The thought has crossed my mind that I could direct those visitors to read more of my articles at CZ. Would that be in violation of any CZ policies? Milton Beychok 00:04, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
It is only my opinion, but why should this be against CZ policies? (It certainly should not be!) It certainly is not self-promotion by means of CZ, but rather the contrary: promotion of CZ by one's own site. Moreover, such links may help (a little) to improve the search rank of CZ because they are links from outside of CZ. --Peter Schmitt 00:10, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with PS. Your excellent book is a niche product, highly valuable, limited audience. I think your website with relevant articles is a draw -- smart choice. Still, I think 1 out of 1000 visitors is an excellent record. That you have all excellent reviews on Amazon is a big plus.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 00:13, 13 April 2010 (UTC)


Tom, you just defined: Sing: The activity of making a song, by applying words to a tune.

Whether your thicket strategy is good for CZ or not: Definitions like this are certainly bad for the reputation.

Disagree. The definition has a purpose. I doubt any person will judge our encyclopedia based on a definition of the word "sing" other than perhaps you. But ultimately it's irrelevant; our encyclopedia isn't even on the map. Nobody knows about it. Nothing shows up in Google searches except a handful of articles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • As far as my knowledge of English goes, (to) sing is a verb, not a noun, therefore it cannot be an activity.
Yes it's a verb, primarily, but it can be a noun in some situations.
Some sing wrong here, I sink. Ro Thorpe 18:06, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
:)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 18:19, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

But with these definitions, I'm not going to list out every form, and meaning, and specify nouns or verbs and such -- this isn't Webster. And I have no idea what you're saying about singing not being an activity.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

  • "making" a song is composing it
When you sing, you make song. Different ways of expressing the same idea. Is it the best wording? Perhaps not; still, I think you're nitpicking here Peter.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • "applying" words to a tune is vague at its best, certainly not a good definition!
Eh. I agree. But thanks for your constructive criticism and positive attitude.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • linking "activity" to "action" is not correct, and neither link is useful in this context
I disagree. Act, action, activity = all related ideas. And I think wikilinks are useful -- they're worth their weight in gold.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • also linking to "word" is not useful - no text on "word" will help to understand your definition (word is diambiguated, by the way)
Perhaps. But I think this is nitpicking. If some day I write an article on the subject of what a "word" is, then there will be Google Juice and maybe it won't appear at the very bottom of the web.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
  • Moreover, it is doubtful that "sing" should be a valid page. If at all, it should be a definition-only page.
Says who? Why not have a page on sing or singing? WP has one. Why not CZ? It's possible that some (constructive) contributor will take the definition and improve it, lengthen it, add great pictures.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Tom: You want to be read -- who wants to read such definitions? Excuse me, that I say this so bluntly! --Peter Schmitt 00:10, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Peter, we're coming at this from different directions. Maybe you didn't read my responses to your criticisms or maybe you still disagree with my approach? I'm trying to be reasonable. I suggest that we simply agree to disagree, but that we both mean well in our different approaches, and we're both trying (in our different ways) to improve this encyclopedia. What I've been trying to tell you is that nobody is reading the encyclopedia now, and I wouldn't fuss that people will be turned off by a haphazard definition of the word sing. The way I think about it is this: the only thing (not people other than you, perhaps) reading the definition will be (hopefully) a Google crawler, and if it has the intended effect, it will make a totally obscure article page about an article it points to (not the definition of sing) -- which is on page 20 on a Google search -- and perhaps enough lemmas and definitions may boost the obscure article to page 19 of a Google search. If anybody does know what the word sing is, then I doubt anybody will click on the word sing to learn the definition. So I really think you're nitpicking over nonsense details. If my approach works, then CZ will get more contributors who can improve substandard definitions if it bothers them. If you'd like to dicker over the quality of articles, please understand that I can be a tough critic, and I can go over every one of your contributions with a fine tooth comb, and as sure as night follows day, I'll find errors, awkward wordings, and content that is lackluster, and I can wave them in your face if you like. But will that help either of us? Will that help grow the encyclopedia?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Another way to think about it is this: my definition. Or nothing. Which is better? If you think a blank page is a way to bring people to Citizendium, I'm disagreeing. Citizendium has precious little content. It's like ONE BIG BLANK BOOK. Fill it up, and we'll attract more and better contributors who can dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s. The purpose of the definitions and lemma articles is to feed the bigger, better articles.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree the definition can use improvement, but I've been trying to crank these out at a mile a minute, and some are not going to be perfect. Why not fix it yourself? When I try to import from Wikipedia, I get flack from all directions, but frankly, I think the WP definition is perfectly fine. Here it is: (roughly copyedited) The act of producing music or musical sounds with the voice in a way that augments regular speech by the use of both tonality and rhythm and in which the pitch of the sounds is varied for effect. It can be made by humans, some species of birds. A person who sings is a singer or vocalist. I'll switch it in now.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:42, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I trust that you mean it well. But:
Yes, I am convinced that a non-existing page is better than a badly written stub or definition. An empty page cannot attract a reader, but a poor page found may turn readers away and cause bad publicity.
Again, we have different approaches, and I don't think we're on the same page or wavelength. I see the lemma articles not as ends-in-themselves which will attract anybody; rather, I'm looking at them as tools to attract attention to what I call core articles which offer what I hope is an excellent information experience such as Aeneid (which I hope to keep improving as I go) and in which I definitely strive for quality and which is superior to Wikipedia's offerings. The reader of the article Sing isn't a person but a Google crawler; this is how I'm approaching it; it's kind of a way to handle the absurdity of what I consider to be a great online encyclopedia which has few, if any, readers.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
There's an excellent book by the talk show host Ben Stein entitled How Successful People Win in which he details his thinking about quality and success. Stein argues "the best is the enemy of the good" and I think he's right. A novelist who writes a book each year (and they'll vary in quality) will produce better literature, overall, since perhaps one or two of the books, over a ten year period, are likely to be excellent, or strike a chord with readers and critics. In contrast, a perfectionist who struggles after ten years to produce the perfect novel is not as likely to write anything worthwhile; there's the constant worry about every detail which often (but not always) means that the finished product is substandard, and the goal of being perfect prevents the writer from gaining the necessary experience (which includes feedback) enabling him or her to keep learning. Essentially, I agree with Stein. Perhaps you see it differently. Of course there are counter-examples in which a perfectionist will labor a lifetime and succeed in producing a gem of a novel. But the writers I respect and admire write prodigiously, and sometimes their work is brilliant while much of their work is mediocre. When I look at CZ, the CZers I respect most tend to have a huge volume of output. My real-world observation of people and tactics suggests that my thinking is correct, although I try to keep my mind open to considering alternatives.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Of course, CZ is collaborative, but do not depend on others -- try your best, even if it "slows" you down.
Definitions are inherently difficult to do well. They cannot (and must not) be "cranked out at a mile a minute". Sing was only an example I noticed on Recent changes. Your user page shows quite a lot of definitions that would need clean-up.
And: yes, "my" mathematics articles may contain mistakes -- I am not a native speaker. And some text may need clarification. They certainly can profit from critical reading by non-mathematicians. It will not "make CZ grow", but it will help CZ to meet its quality standards.
--Peter Schmitt 10:09, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Let's agree that we have different approaches and philosophy concerning how to improve this encyclopedia. If you feel any of my definitions, including the definition of the word definition (which is derived from Socrates by the way), are not up to your standards, please feel free to improve them. I think we're both aiming for quality but coming at it from different ways, that's all, and I don't think there's a way to settle this matter by argument; rather, I think, as Francis Bacon suggested in the Organon, that results will speak for themselves, and that the key is observation.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
The place for these different approaches to be reconciled is the Editorial Council. While the Charter draft is relatively clean on the EC, the Charter Committee is stalled in presenting that draft because of intense disagreement about the need for, and scope, of what I'll call an "Executive" in addition to the EC and MC. My personal opinion, which is a minority but not of one, is that ratification of pieces not involving the Executive should proceed -- the Executive is not meaningful unless the EC and MC function, or, in the view of one member, the EC will be useless. I see the Executive decision as a second step, possibly even taken by the EC and MC rather than the Charter Committee. The process is stuck. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:02, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
If the Editorial Council becomes active and sets forth a policy, and hopefully provides some clear direction about how things will work here, then I'll abide by its rulings. In the meantime, my sense is this project is flailing and troubled and lacking direction. My intention is to help, and my goal is to see if there's a way to build readership, web presence, and possibly garner more contributors. That's what I'm trying to do. My sense is that some CZers are over-reacting bigtime to my minute efforts to change things -- they're focused on ME and MY CONTRIBUTIONS and not on the ENCYCLOPEDIA (which is where they should focus). Please remember that it's SO EASY to delete stuff or wipe stuff out or remove wikilinks; with a few mouse clicks, boom, something disappears. And, in contrast, it's labor-intensive to try to create quality material which is meaningful, professional-looking and helpful. And my participation here is perpetually on the verge of leaving -- please read my user page about "My experience at Citizendium" if interested. It seems to me that the more I try to help here, the more others focus on tying my hands, or nitpicking, or quibbling over details. I realize you may have problems with some wikilinks not being as valuable as others, but please realize that I'm trying to see whether there's a way to build more Google Juice here, and it will perhaps take a month or so on the Aeneid project to see whether it's possible to boost web presence. So please don't remove wikilinks until perhaps a month or so goes by until I get a chance to see whether there is, possibly, a way to build web presence. If there isn't, it's a safe bet that I won't be here much longer troubling you and others, and your efforts towards perfection, and you can delete all my supposedly sub-standard content to your heart's desire.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 14:23, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Believe it or not, I'm often on the brink of leaving, and the key issue now is whether the project can develop democratic governance and substantial involvement in governance. I also don't like the Forum format, but it is a reality, and you might see there are many more discussions, not involving you, about features and experiments that have unintended consequences.
I believe that you're often on the brink of leaving. Perfectly understandable to me. Me too.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Here's an example of an unintended consequence of something you've done with perfectly good intent, and obviously in the interest of speed: naming references. You have a convention, meaningful and I'm sure efficient to you, of naming citations "tws...". This could very well be a Wikipedia artifact. If you look at my articles, I try rather hard to have citation names that can be deciphered by others, such as WaPo2010-04-01 referring to a Washington Post article of April 1, 2010. To make changes in an article with tws or other individual reference styles, it takes a lot of text searches. If we are going to have collaboration, we need to avoid idiosyncratic approaches.
I don't understand why this is an issue. We're different people. You have your citation naming method; I have mine. So what? At some point in the future, it may be necessary to standardize the naming conventions; why not deal with it then? In the meantime, I think this is a non-issue. Without readers, without web presence, it doesn't make sense to fuss with changing around reference formats.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
You'd find discussions, on the Forums, of well-intentioned efforts to do things using bots, which had lots of unintended consequences and a consensus was established not to use them until there was a control and test mechanism. You have a personal project to increase Google Juice, and a number of your techniques relate to it. Given that others have not agreed that building Google Juice is the highest priority, or that the particular techniques selected are the best way to do it, it's one thing when the techniques have no effect on anyone else, but what should people do when they find that a technique affects things they have been doing? Daniel Mietchen frequently introduces templates and other techniques, which tend to get discussed on the Forums, where they may be improved by suggestions, or sometimes withdrawn because they turned out to have unanticipated consequences.
In a month, I'll know whether this project has any effect on building web presence. If it DOES, then we should discuss what it means, and how to go about it, and whether there's a valid way of trying to grow this encyclopedia; if so, then we should strive for some kind of consensus. But, if the project DOESN'T succeed, then it's all irrelevant, isn't it? I don't know. In that sense, I don't think my contributions should have any impact on others unless they're so bored that they have nothing else to contribute.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
It's one thing to be bold, and it's another thing to insist on non-interference with at least consensus style and formatting conventions. Again, I don't like the Forums, but I just posted several things about workgroup assignment. I don't know what workgroups best describe classic Greek matters that include their gods -- some people prefer "mythology" to religion, although I personally regard that as condescending.
I'm not insisting on non-interference. I don't mind if people improve my lemmas or definitions. I'm trying to be reasonable and find ways to meet different goals.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I like to write content far more than argue governance, but I believe an effective Editorial Council is the most important need to get a scalable means of developing conventions. The Charter Committee, of which I am a member, is stalled, and the only practical place it's being discussed is on the Forums.
Agreed. I like contributing. I dislike arguing over nitpicking details. Get the Charter Committee going. Is there a way I can support this effort?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Just a time or two, my work has been criticized. I've learned to live with it and argue its merits, not treat criticism as being told the work is substandard. Other than workgroup editors making formal rulings, no one has the authority to call something substandard. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:46, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your thinking. About my work being called substandard, well, here's the wording from above: Definitions like this are certainly bad. This is a criticism of my definition of the word "sing". My work? It's bad. Substandard? No, it's bad. Does any of my other stuff get any praise? No, just silence. It doesn't bother me that much.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 15:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)


Discussions on the forum are preferred because it is easier to check for new messages. Much simpler than to look through talk pages. Everyone who takes part sees what happens without having to click on talk pages and scroll to their bottom. --Peter Schmitt 19:54, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Forum thread on some PageRank issues. Peter Schmitt 23:07, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Saw it. I'm still of the view that I don't know. I want to see what happens to the PageRank of Aeneid after a month or so with a thicket.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:14, 17 April 2010 (UTC)


Bull, painting.
Moo.Franz Marc (1880-1916) circa 1911.

We now have cattle, bull, etc., a constantly extending thicket. Cows moo loudly when caught in thickets or in barbed wire. --Howard C. Berkowitz 20:57, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

What we need: more barnyard animals here at CZ. Moo.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:58, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
And perhaps less bull. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:00, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
I admire your effort regarding the terrorism-related articles, using a thicket, is excellent and smart. And any way I can promote you as a terrorism expert let me know.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 23:17, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Philosophy of Spinoza - Solved (and also, about the forum)

Thomas, the reason that Philosophy of Spinoza is not showing up on Google is quite simple. Take the first sentence of the article... "The philosophy of Baruch Spinoza is a systematic, logical, rational philosophy developed by him in the seventeenth century in Europe."... and put it into google. That entire sentence is straight out of WP's Rationalism article, word for word. Go on a little further... "Many of Spinoza's ideas continue to vex thinkers today and many of his principles, particularly regarding the emotions, have implications for modern approaches to psychology" same thing. I'm sure there are more.

Chris, I WROTE the chunk of Wikipedia's article on Rationalism about Spinoza. Those were my words. I used to contribute heavily to Wikipedia. I didn't blindly copy stuff. In fact, I wrote the WP article on Philosophy of Spinoza but got into an edit war, with the opponents backed by administrators; right now if you look at WP's version of Philosophy of Spinoza it's a nightmare of difficult terms and bad writing. So I ported the good article here -- Philosophy of Spinoza. It's good stuff based on good sources but like everything could use further improvement.-Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
To be quite honest, whether or not you wrote what it said on WP is irrelevant. In doing so, you gave it to WP and they now own the licence to it. Google recognise that fact, and therefore when those words appear on other websites such as CZ they are instantly marked as "copied straight out of WP". Unless you rewrite almost every word, your article will never show up in 99.9% of searches. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Now, just to prove that CZ's article is in fact in googles listings try the following search exactly as is, with the word citizendium at the start: citizendium The philosophy of Baruch Spinoza is a systematic, logical, rational philosophy developed by him in the seventeenth century in Europe.

What you get isn't pure Citizendium, but something with the word "Reid" in front of it. I don't know what that's about.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Citizendium runs on two servers - and The url most people use,, shares the load between the two servers. Therefore, what you get IS citizendium at What you get in second place in fact is, which is the preferable url. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

You will see your article is the first entry, therefore proving that google has in fact found your article.

The PageRank for my article on CZ Philosophy of Spinoza is 0. Zero. Nada. Yes, maybe it's possible to jigger the search so that yes, it finally finds it. Since it's been "live" on CZ, how many times has the page been accessed? 285. And I bet at least half of those are CZers. That's a pittance, if anything. When my PofS article was on WP, readership averaged about a hundred persons per day.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes your pagerank is zero. I've explained why, its because chunks of it are straight out of WP. A pagerank of zero does NOT mean that it isn't on google, it means that it won't show up on the majority of searches.
Also, comparing page views on CZ to page views on WP is irrelevant. Tens of thousands of sites link to WP, they have millions of visitors a day, they are one of the biggest sites on the entire internet. It would be like me building a search engine and saying "oh, but google gets more page views". Of course they do... they get about 3000% more than even yahoo. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Basically what has happened is this. There are literally hundreds of sites out there that copy content straight out of Wikipedia. To prevent their searches from being clogged up with all of these millions of clones, if google decides that enough of a page is straight out of WP they don't list the copied page in searches unless there is literally nothing better at all. The same goes with Lady Gaga and Open access, amongst others. These both have significant portions from other, larger wikis.

On some of these articles, I borrowed content, but it ranged from 30% to perhaps 60%, with lots of trimming and rewriting. Your theory is interesting, however, and we should keep this in mind. The idea of moving content in was to speed up the process. But if your theory was correct, it doesn't explain is why my totally new fresh 100% pure Tom articles such as Romantic love (accessed 133 times over two months) gets a PageRank of 0. Zero. Nada. Zilch-city. Emptiness. Obscurity squared. What about 2012 -- all NEW STUFF. Many other articles: all new stuff. What's 2012's PageRank? 0. One less than one. Still, in the PageRank experiment, we ought to list the proportion of duplication with WP as a variable for further study. Here's one more thing: what if WP copies us? Do you know that they do this regularly?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Your right. Romantic love doesn't rank very highly... Its parent page Love however has a pagerank of 3. This makes a lot of sense, especially since the parent page has a section on 'romantic love' which by the way google links directly to if the search is about romantic love. As for 2012, well its only a month old. Give them chance... I doubt we're a high priority website for them.
And yes. If WP copy from us, our page is likely to vanish from search results. I think we should actually be licencing under a licence that does not allow dirivitive works to solve this, but thats unlikely to ever happen. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

And this is why WP imports are bad.

Still not proven. But I agree this needs further study.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Take any sentence from any wikipedia article. I'm sure you know that there are thousands of wiki clones out there, so that sentence must appear on thousands of wiki's. Now search for that sentence on google. You'll get wiki, maybe and if your very very lucky one other wiki. Now unless your telling me that none of those thousands of wiki clones exist or have tried any form of SEO..?
Also see A supplemental page will still rank in search results, but only if there are not enough pages in the main index that are returned within the search. These pages show as having a pagerank of zero. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Now, if you had had this discussion on the forums (as it has been suggested you should by at least two people including a constable) then I would have noticed it a month ago, explained the problem to you there and then. You could then have redirected all the effort you put into your experiment into removing WP content from the articles you want google to display. As it was, you had these discussions on your talk page and (of all places) Talk:Plane (geometry). I'm actually at least a little bit annoyed, as these discussions had a wider impact on CZ and definately nothing to do with Plane (geometry).

Your tone, above, is disparaging and condescending, like a father talking to a teenager about making a stupid mistake. You're making assumptions I'm stupid, don't listen, that my experiment was a clear mistake that you could have helped me avoid, if only I'd have asked, etc etc. Please don't jump to conclusions. And your treatment of me here suggests one more reason why I'm loathe to participate on forums, if it means having to deal there with attitudes like yours. Problems are more complex than they seem. Please try to be open-minded. I continue to think my experiment is valid and will continue to pursue it, and I urge you to try to keep an open mind, and be willing to adopt new methods if it does come out that my thinking about SEO is correct.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 01:11, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I am sorry you feel that way. Like I said, I am annoyed that an experiment that affects CZ as a whole was kept relatively hidden, perhaps that is where the impression came from. However, you'll find that most of it is just my way... you have your opinion, now I am giving you mine. In this case, I believe that I am right and you are wrong. I am however open minded and willing and able to have my mind changed... I do not believe it is likely though.
Your tone on both talk pages has regularly come across in ways that I believe you do not intend. Please bear in mind that when reading people comments, they can come across differently to how they were intended. --Chris Key 02:01, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Tom, I think that you are being overly argumentative here and borderline offensive. I still don't understand why you refuse to conduct these important discussions in the Forums. And, of course, I am not alone in this. All you are achieving by your insistence on using Talk pages are two results: Many knowledgeable people, such as Chris in this instance, simply don't bother to read all of the Talk pages and will not be able to answer your questions. And, by then arguing with them about your refusal to use the Forums, you annoy, vex, or possibly, dare I say it?, even anger them. The more you annoy people, the less likely they will be in the future to help you in any of your endeavors. You are certainly no more likely to antagonize people by talking with them in the Forums than you are on Talk pages outside of the Forum. The same rules for politeness and professionalism obtain in both places -- in my 15 months of being a Constable, I have certainly had many *fewer* complaints from the Citizens about behavior in the Forums than I have about behavior on the Talk pages. Hayford Peirce 02:22, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

See also my comments on that talk page. --Chris Key 00:42, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Short comment

Tom: As I told you on March 22 (see above) Spinoza has been cached on March 12, Romantic love has been cached on March 13, Aeneid and others of your "thicket" have been cached begin of April (as I told you on the plane page). You cannot complain that Google does not find you .... --Peter Schmitt 01:41, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. Google finds everything it is allowed to find, including your articles. The pagerank of these pages is affected mainly by content, not the number of links pointing towards it. --Chris Key 01:59, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Your part in expanding the Nitrogen cycle article.

Tom, I just want to acknowledge the good work done by you and then by Anthony Sebastian in expanding the Nitrogen cycle article. Milton Beychok 05:38, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, Milton, for your timely compliment, very helpful when criticism seems to reign supreme and when I seriously think about quitting. Appreciate it, as well as your fine leadership and intelligence in this area!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:07, 18 April 2010 (UTC)++

Just a bit of education

Tom, I revised your Nitrogen cycle drawing so as to upgrade it, because you mentioned that you were not too happy with it. In doing so, I noticed that you called up the drawing with this Wiki markup (which we no longer use):

[[Image:Nitrogen Cycle by T Sulcer.jpg|thumb|right|420px|alt=Diagram.|Organic nitrogen is useless to plants, but must be converted into inorganic form to once again be useful.]]

If you click on that drawing in the article and go back to the image file, you will note at the bottom of the Summary where it has this instruction:

Copy the code below to add this image to a Citizendium article, changing the size, alignment, and caption as necessary.
{{Image|Nitrogen Cycle by T Sulcer.jpg|right|350px|Add image caption here.}}

That is the correct Wiki markup to be used in CZ for calling up an image and using it in an article. Why? Because it automatically displays the credit line at the bottom of the drawing and it allows you to select whatever smaller size you may want for the drawing (no need to ask for a thumbnail). Also, no need for you to include "T Sulcer" as part of the image name. If its your drawing, your name will display in the credit line. You will see that I changed the Wiki markup for your drawing in Nitrogen cycle ... and now you know why.

I hope you find this useful. Milton Beychok 00:26, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Milton, thank you! I'll use the new wikimarkup from now on. I think I had tried to use it at one point in the past with the alt= thingie in it, and the alt= thingie confused it, and I should have removed the alt=thingie inside it, but instead reverted to the old wikiways. I'll advance to the new level with all my pictures (without the dreaded alt= thingie). Mucho appreciato! That's my spanish for "Gracias, senor."--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:08, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
More education: The {{Image|...}} macro doesn't want an equal sign (=) in it. So alt=thingie won't work.--Paul Wormer 05:20, 19 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. It helps me remember stuff when I know why things happen, appreciate it Paul!!!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 11:20, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Be careful!

Tom, you have to be careful when you edit mathematical statements: you replaced

"between 1 and the smallest of the numbers"


"greater than 1 and less than or equal to the smallest of the numbers"

and this is wrong. It would have to be:

"greater or equal than 1 and less than or equal to the smallest of the numbers"

I doubt that this is more precise -- it is only more complicated to read.

Moreover, you linked "relatively prime" -- in this connection a link to prime is simply misplaced.

I have repaired this. --Peter Schmitt 00:43, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Peter I caught a mistake in the Greatest common divisor article. It's a simple one. I explained it on the talk page. It's so basic that even a handyman can catch it. The problem is with the word between which implies logically that 1 < x < smallest number. Problem is, x is less than or equal to the smallest number. So the wording must change. Please realize -- we're all human -- we all make mistakes -- the thing to do is when we come to them, to fix them, learn, and get on with life.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 02:41, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Are you saying that *you* made the mistake? Or that Peter made the mistake? In any case, I don't think we need any homilies about "to err is human" -- let's just fix things without trying to adjudicate responsibility. Hayford Peirce 02:49, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm saying what I'm saying, specifically, that I caught a mistake in an article. I don't know who made the mistake originally and I don't care; rather, I fixed it. Click on the history of the article Greatest common divisor and you'll see. Then my fix got reverted (so the mistake was reinstated). I'll be happy if you decide which is right Hayford or if you find some way to resolve this. But I remember from mathematics, that if you have the numbers 12 and 24, that the greatest common divisor is 12. It's not between 1 and 12. It's 12. Twelve. T w e l v e. So the wording must be that the gcd is less than or equal to the smallest of the numbers (12). Not between. Is. Ain't particle physics. This is handyman country.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 03:00, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
You may very well have caught an error in an article -- errors are everywhere, and we all make them. But your text above was NOT clear about WHO had made the error, YOU or SOMEONE ELSE. If you're saying it's someone else, and that it was most probably Peter, then you will have to recall that Peter is a Mathematics Editor. Sure, he can make mistakes too, but we do NOT use homilies such as you have to discuss the error. IF, indeed, it is his error and not yours. I myself don't have a clue. I am just asking you, now in my official capacity as a Constable, to be judicious in your choice of words. We encourage "robust debate", but ONLY about the actual issues at hand, not about who is or is not "right". Please bear this in mind in ALL your comments on various talk pages. Hayford Peirce 03:59, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism. Tom: Constables do not have to be summoned anywhere -- you do not understand there purpose, apparently. I have removed all of your comments here. Please start afresh. Hayford Peirce 16:52, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Tom and Hayford, I think I'm a neutral here. Now, I was once a neutral reporter at the biggest antiwar demonstration at the Pentagon in 1967, accredited both by the Defense Department and the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. That meant that I got to stand between the two lines when the Weathermen charged the troops. (for the record, I was not passive when one demonstrator attempted to pound my head through the wall of the Pentagon). I am an Editor, but not a Mathematics Editor.
I desperately want an appeals procedure, but I want it to be democratic and community based. At present, it's no secret that the Charter Committee is stuck in a bitter controversy about whether there should be a Managing Editor or other individual interim decisionmaker between the complainants and the Editorial Council (I'm ignoring Workgroups for simplicity); an Ombudsman as a mediator but not decider seems noncontroversial).
Interactions between the Citizenry and the Committee are not being coherently conducted anywhere, although I think there is an attempt to fix that going on, with a lot of ego in the Committee. My personal recommendation is to try to stabilize the text on CZ:Charter drafting, clean that up based on member comments on its talk page, do a lower-case-e editorial review, and then go for ratification. I'd let the Managing Editor issue be solved by the Editorial Council and Management Committee once they are elected; the ME would report to one or both in any case. Others on the Committee insist this role be part of the text to be ratified.
Try to comment on CZ Talk:Charter drafting. If you don't want to do it there, I promise to forward email, unchanged, to the Charter Committee. Consider the forums, which I agree are a bloody mess but they are our bloody mess. The more people participating, the better -- at least one Committee member seems to be introducing anonymous comments. --Howard C. Berkowitz 15:00, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I support your efforts, Howard.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 16:12, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I'll try to visit the CZ Talk:Charter drafting and leave comments. But I can't edit the page since I'm not an editor.But basically I think there is strong agreement that the current arrangement needs fixing, and I support your efforts for reform.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 16:12, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I am not a mathematician, but I would say that you did not fix a mistake. You changed something that was potentially ambiguous ("the greatest common divisor of some numbers is a number between 1 and the smallest of the numbers") into something that was wrong ("the greatest common divisor of some numbers is a number greater than 1 and less than or equal to the smallest of the numbers,"). When Peter fixed this, you then reverted his edit and reintroduced the mistake, despite the fact that Peter had explained the mistake you made on your talk page before you did the reversion. --Chris Key 10:41, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Chris, there was a problem. I don't care whether you wish to call it a mistake or an ambiguity or whatnot. But in mathematics, wording is important. I was concerned about the reputation of our joint project for accuracy. So I offered what I thought was a better version. My wording got reverted yet I felt there was still a problem. So I reverted the revert. Sharp people improved it with a better wording. Now it's better. I'm happier the article is improved. No big woof.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:01, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

(unindent) Tom, you have replaced a - in your opinion - ambiguous phrase by an undoubtedly and explicitly wrong statement by excluding 1. I fortunately noticed it and thus could "repair" it. With "be careful" I wanted to warn you to make hasty changes, and explained why. You could have seen this if you had read the complete text that you changed, and I told you at the beginning of this section. I changed the text back to the better readable form (instead of correcting your wording) because I think that it is better suited for an introduction to an elementary level mathematics page. (By the way, you never claimed ambiguity!) Instead of explaining your purpose on the talk page and/or changing the text back to a corrected version of your wording you simply reverted my edit and thus re-introduced a mistake that I had already explained to you.
If you read carefully what Hayford told you, you will notice that he did not interfere in the issue of the wording (even if he may have an opinion on it). He did not take side. He talked to you about how you reacted.
By simply reverting the edit, you also reintroduced the link "relatively prime". This is completely meaningless, and I shall remove it again. "relatively prime" is a single term. If you want to link to it, you have to link to "greatest common divisor" -- obviously useless in this case.
On the talk page there are now 4 phrases to express the "between 1 and ..." I'd like a non-mathematician to decide which is the best choice for the article. Hayford, perhaps? (It is no longer a matter of content, but a matter of language.)
--Peter Schmitt 16:36, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

Peter, I suggest that you ask Ro Thorpe -- he's one of our resident Wordsmiths, although I doubt if he knows anything more about mathematics than I do. He does, however, have a keen awareness of how the English language should be used. Thanks! Hayford Peirce 16:54, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
The whole quarrel boils down to something simple: the meaning of "between". Although not a native speaker, I tend to see "between" as wrong, or at least ambiguous. If you say: "she lives between the mountains and the sea", her house is neither in the sea nor in the mountains. Correspondingly: "the number is between 1 and 12" has for me the connotation that the number is greater than 1 and less than 12. To avoid ambiguity you need more words, ugly or not.--Paul Wormer 17:08, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
There would have been no quarrel at all if only the ambiguity had been involved. --Peter Schmitt 17:13, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
It's surprisingly difficult to define "between" without using the word itself. Merriam-Webster's, however, tells us that it is the interval that separates two objects or items. So if you say "the number is between 1 and 12" it *ought* to mean that it encompasses the numbers that separate 1 and 12, ie, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., up to and including 11. I have a feeling, however, that many people would *also* include both 1 and 12 as being encompassed by the original phrase. Ie, a "mentalist" tells you, "Pick a number between 6 and 35." I myself would almost automatically choose 35. Is this wrong? I dunno. Is this what the argument is about: the different interpretations that can be given to this simple statement? Hayford Peirce 18:03, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
But it's fun, sometimes, isn't it, fussing over a word? I think it's necessary for me to get into hissy-fits from time to time over extremely important topics like the word between as a way of expressing affection for my excellent fellow CZers who I respect and admire, including Paul Wormer, Milton Beychok, Dr. Schmitt, Chris Key, Howard Berkowitz, Hayford Peirce, Ro Thorpe, Meg Ireland, Roger Lohmann, Daniel Mietchen, and everybody else here (whose names I'm not remembering now but I appreciate nonetheless) who are all smart and takes their time to contribute to the excellent online encyclopedia, and that I think it's a healthy sign that, from time to time, we all attack each other with purses like in the Monty Python skit about the ladies' garden club re-enacting the battle of Pearl Harbor. Here it is: Battle of Pearl Harbor I think we're all truly amazing, aren't we?--Thomas Wright Sulcer 17:17, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Sir, the Battle of Pearl Harbor was fought by Admiral Nagumo, at his level of incompetence. The more relevant Monty Python situation involves the killer sheep in the wainscoting.

Wainscoting ... Wainscoting ... Wainscoting ... sounds like a little Dorset village, doesn't it? Wainscoting.

For that matter, an English colleague of mine inquired, after I had told him that a friend's pet carpet python had shed his skin,

Is that the Full Monty Python?

:)--Thomas Wright Sulcer 21:44, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Words can be important. Indeed, in this case, either a graphic, or a symbolic expression, may be important.
Meanwhile, I shall compute the missile attack on Comcast customer service, with whom I've spent 90 minutes of gibberish to get them to unscramble their problem, which I'm not sure they understand. 24-48 hours for 2nd level escalation. Arrrgh. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:50, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Good luck!!!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 21:44, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Anyone ever read the short story "The snowball effect" by Katherine Maclean (modulo spelling)? That's the one where the Watashaw Ladies' Sewing Circle takes over the world. Peter Jackson 15:24, 23 April 2010 (UTC)


Thomas, I just want to express my thanks for the hard work you've done for Citizendium. You are an asset to the project. Keep up the good work. Meg Ireland 12:21, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Meg! Highly appreciated! and I feel the same way about you!!!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 13:50, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
No probs :) Meg Ireland 15:38, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Please cut back on the lemmas about general terms

Tom, I understand your writing style is to put these out as you go, but there are already essay-like problems in the articles from which these seem to be getting generated.

You mean from Mentally healthy mind? Agreed; I'm planning to add perhaps 6 more ideas to this, then add references, then copyedit for flow, and then I'll come to you and ask: now what. Maybe it should be a "signed article"? Or maybe there are ways to change the wording to make it less essay-sounding, but let me work on it first.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Something such as mass murder, for example, is a quite complex subject that is being oversimplified. There is very substantial literature that differentiates it by the nature of the killer (e.g., nation or quasi-national group, ethnic group (e.g., Rwanda), or individual or small group); the statistics of the killing (serial killing vs. spree killing); political intent if any, which gets damned difficult when considering the increasing number of self-radicalized killers, etc. There are aspects of group dynamics and authority to kill (e.g., see David Grossman's work on killology, On Killing). There are the motivations and psychic self protection for killing (e.g., see Robert Jay Lifton's The Nazi Doctors and his concept of "doubling" in which a healer can become a killer).

I'm doing disambiguation pages when I can. Maybe I should have done a disamb page for the "mass murder" lemma first. It's possible to transform a lemma into a bigger article quite easily; it's just that I don't have the capability or energy to write good articles on every term. And every term could conceivably get a good article in my view.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Tell you what. On my user page, I have a list of unwritten lemmas, in several sections. Are there ones there that you don't want me to write? Please remove them. Or if you think they're stub worthy, change them from the {{r|Article name}} format to the [[Article name]], if interested.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

I urge you to consider, very seriously, Related Articles for all of these, which I think will help contextualize. Also, do search first, so the existing murder article doesn't come into conflict with mass murder. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:16, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Meaning? I'm not clear what you're getting at here. I'll take a break for an hour or so.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 22:25, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Installing the Google search box

Tom, see my latest posting on Howard's Talk page for the detailed instructions. I don't know whether or not it will work in Ubuntu ... it can't hurt to try it and see. If it does not work, maybe Danial Mietchen can help you. Milton Beychok 19:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Works fine for me under Ubuntu Karmic. --Daniel Mietchen 20:06, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Milton and Daniel. I'm somewhat nervous that this won't goof up my computer; I don't know how to install Java code or even what a cache is. About two years ago I tried upgrading my versions of Ubuntu and ended up completely rewriting my hard disk drive. As I get older I'm getting more and more set in my ways; right now I'm familiar with a system of multiple windows which helps me edit rather quickly, and it's somewhat easy for me to simply have a separate window to do Google searches. So at this point let me keep doing what I'm doing unless you feel it would be a significant improvement in my writing speed. I'm rewriting Mentally healthy mind offline and it's tougher going than I thought, and I'm having to rethink things and probably will open it up for others (I think I'm a little over my head with this topic unfortunately). And then I want to add some more variables to the CZ:PageRank analysis of Citizendium articles to see what happens.--Thomas Wright Sulcer 20:17, 27 April 2010 (UTC)