[Citizendium-l] On Transversality -- Communication Between Different Levels Of Experience

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Mon Sep 25 07:28:37 EDT 2006


DG_1 = David Gerard
DG_2 = David Goodman

DG_1: https://lists.purdue.edu/pipermail/citizendium-l/2006-September/000396.html
DG_2: https://lists.purdue.edu/pipermail/citizendium-l/2006-September/000408.html

Davids, & All,

These are critical issues, and I have some acquaintance with them,
so I will break them out into separate points for further discussion.

The articles on mathematics, statistics, the "hard" sciences, and even the article
on scientific method (with a few reservations), are some of the best articles in WP --
at least, they were the last time that I looked, who knows what the moving flipoff has
written today? -- and they are written at a level that is appropriate to their subjects.
(My residual reservations about the last edition I saw of [[Scientific Method]] are due
entirely to the fact that it still has that "written in committee" (WIC) look and feel.)

Part of the reason in the case of math is that a great portion of the current volume was
imported whole hog from the PlanetMath project, and so its principal virtues cannot be
credited to the Wikipedia process, which is in fact inexorably eroding the quality of
the content that Wikipedia got for free.

I do understand the problem here.  But all of my personal attempts to address it have
been frustrated by two factors, the Scylla and Charybdis of the Wikipedia environment.

To be continued ...

Jon Awbrey

David Goodman wrote:
> This unreadability is common to some complete WP, such as mathematics
> and statistics. They are being deliberately written to the level of
> perhaps beginning graduate students, or very good undergraduate
> majors.
> Upon complaints, one is referred to Wikibooks, and if you try the
> items at  http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks:Mathematics_bookshelf
> you will find incomplete modules at all levels: I suggest "probability:
> http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Probability
> but there won't be much finished there for years.
> There certainly should be an article in CZ at this level, for
> graduates in the physical sciences to access. There should also be an
> article at a suitable level for the ordinary college student, and also
> for the "ordinary user of the internet , which I take to be equivalent
> to an intelligent high school student.
> Technical articles can be written at this levels, as Scientific
> American has long demonstrated. In some case they will not give what
> those knowledgeable would consider an accurate understanding, but
> that's inevitable.
> Naturally, WP is not the first encyclopedia to fail in this--EB has
> been doing it for over a century now.
> But there is hope in WP--I copy from
> http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk:Scientific_peer_review&action=edit
> because it is almost exactly what mean:
> The article should contain information for everyone - targeted to
> smart, intelligent people who want to learn, and who have the drive to
> find the information they need. Wikipedia has a host of articles that
> are obviously on graduate-level and post-graduate level. If I may take
> some inspiration from the current peer review system on Wikipedia,
> most topics being reviewed are rather common things known to everyone,
> but just that no-one has bothered to articulate all the intricacies of
> the topic and put everything together. Take [[blank page]] as an
> example. Lovely article - and I bet that it would be pretty hard to
> find any better information on the internet about it in such a quick
> way. Hence, let use frame whatever peer review project we set up, as
> targeting primarily undergraduate education; something beyond the
> typical high school, but not quite so cutting edge that reviewing the
> article would benefit very few of the masses who visit here. This is a
> reasonable compromise between all the possibilities out there, and
> very much worth the consideration.
> BTW, thanks for pointing me to the Scientific Method article. I found
> it an excellent summary with clear examples--but I teach the subject.
> On 9/24/06, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 24/09/06, Dean Buckner <d3uckner at btinternet.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Sorry, there was a full stop in the link I provided earlier.  The link
> > > below (to an example of a terrible WP article) should work now.
> > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_%28philosophy%29
> >
> >
> > Same problem as [[Scientific method]], which is still unreadable to
> > anyone who isn't a professional philosopher; woe betide a regular
> > person who wants to learn 'what it actually is' by looking it up in
> > Wikipedia.
> >
> >
> > - d.
> David Goodman,  MLS

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