Wiki Filterist

Generally the opposite of a WikiReductionist.

Filterists believe in allowing multiple viewpoints. If you don't like a viewpoint, filter it out or don't read it. Wiki currently doesn't offer enough tools to do this effectively, but we feel it is better to strive for this goal instead of using deletion to force one world view.

It is similar to IfYouDontLikeItDontReadIt, except that ideally one would not have to see what they don't like in searches, etc. Links to "improper" stuff would perhaps be marked.

People could keep lists of pages or sections that they don't like and one could see such a view if desired. Thus, if you agree with Joe Foobar and want to see only topics sanctioned by him, you could join (cross-reference) his list to the topics and see only stuff that he approves. An alternative may be color-coding of links:

(Perhaps icons can be used instead of colors for the color-blind.)

We filterists feel our position is morally superior to WikiReductionists because we are not destroying. We allow diversity. WikiReductionists often want to dictate a single world view to "protect the children" from allegedly corrupting influences of material they deem questionable and would rather spoon-feed them the sanctioned truth. Filterists don't care about protecting people from themselves. If they favor bad opinions, that is their problem. They can read both/multiple sides and make up their minds for themselves and find like-minded people who help filter out stuff they deem bad. Let people filter themselves, not appoint the church to filter for them. (You can still use the Church's filters if you want.)

On the other hand, note that this is precisely the duty performed by "flappers" in Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", and thus has been satirically lampooned quite effectively some hundreds of years ago already.


We are not against general cleaning and refactoring. The difference is mostly about how to handle controversial topics, the kinds of topics that are part of EditWars.


Please indulge me while I try to understand your position. Why should wiki be a place for all content? It was established with a particular topic in mind, and there is still plenty of content left to be created along those lines. There are better places for anything-goes editing, and there are better places for specific content types.

Everything2, for example, has open editing and no content restrictions. Your posts would be your own and nobody can vandalize or delete them there. There is far more interlinking, far more users, and far more content. I would say that the most hotly reverted page on wiki these days is AboutCompostorium. A simple search at http://www.everything2.com/ shows they have a page on that exact topic called "compost your corpse"! It was created in 2001 and hasn't been vandalized or deleted since.

For narrow content types, there are almost always better places than here. This not only benefits wiki by narrowing its own focus (leading to higher quality content), but it allows you to share your useful content with audiences who will appreciate it more. A good example for this is movies. There was a delete-war recently over the KissMeDeadly page. A quick look at IMDB shows that they have a page on that topic, and the content is much richer and much more well integrated than it ever would have been here. Wiki has 139 pages in CategoryMovie, compared to IMDB's 350,000 movies. IMDB has a very active community of reviewers and fact-finders, and like everything2, there is no fear of vandalism.

Most of us here are very rigid supporters of free speech, myself included. I just think there are right and wrong places to put the speech. Wiki is one of the right places for discussion of patterns, extreme programming, wiki itself, and programming in general. It is not the entire internet, and has never had aspirations to become it. The internet is a much bigger place than just wiki.

I am interested to hear your reply, and to further clarify my position if you would like. -- MichaelSparks

This misses the point. For example, I don't care about composting, but I see no pressing reason to suppress the subject. If the page has been restored a lot, that merely reflects the fact that the page was quite short and therefore quick to edit, and also its position near the beginning of the alphabet. Although it may not show, most EditWars are about technical and/or personal issues or about Wiki itself.

Wiki is (supposedly) "a fun way of communicating" - it says so in FrontPage; it's easy to lose sight of that and seek to turn it into something else where any temporary deviation from the named core subjects is ruthlessly put down as noise or OffTopic quite unnecessarily. Such actions are simply not a quick fix for personal issues, not even close to such a fix. -- AnonymousContributor?

I don't understand your reference to the beginning of the alphabet. The reason for that subject to be suppressed is that it is in no way related to programming or wiki. It had no backlinks, but if it did, those could have been replaced with links to an authoritative page on another site. Some also found it offensive. The topic is documented well on other web sites. It was probably intended only as flame bait, as opposed to being a real interest of some noble wikizen. Which of those statements do you disagree with? I would like to continue the discussion based on just the ideas you disagree with.

I completely agree with you that there have been some itchy trigger fingers on wiki. But I think that temporary deviations from programming are well tolerated, as long as there is some way to relate it back to programming. For home pages, even that restriction is seldom enforced. My personal opinion is that there is no clear line between on-topic and off-topic. Do you agree with that? I attempt to follow ExponentialBackoffEditing more, the closer to the fuzzy dividing line I perceive some content to be. That allows for both parties to cool down and reach an equilibrium. -- MichaelSparks

Being near the beginning of the alphabet is relevant for anyone holding their own copies of pages in alphabetical order. It was linked to from another deleted page. Lots of pages (e.g., CourtneyLove?) have nothing to do with programming or Wiki. Just read through the list of all pages. If such pages are contributed to by various wikizens, however, they are thereby of interest to at least those contributors. The page mentioned didn't attract flames and there was little reason why such a topic would be chosen for that purpose. I don't see why composting should be regarded as any more disrespectful than, say, being left to rot buried in a wooden box. Wiki has a focus on, but not restriction to, things directly relating to software. Hence there are many pages on movies, science fiction and the like.

Obviously, a page tends to become OnTopic by virtue of various people choosing to contribute to it. Such pages (e.g., those relating to education or American history) may lie dormant for long periods between bursts of interest. -- AnonymousContributor?

Your argument about alphabetical order seems pretty flimsy - I doubt there are many people using offline page lists as a normal part of editing. But I realize you were listing contributing factors, not absolute causes. When I checked, the only links it had were from pages discussing the war taking place on it. If there were other links that got deleted, I would be interested to know what pages the links were on. You are right that there are lots of off-topic pages currently, but a lack of enforcement in the past does not imply that the restrictions have been lifted. The restrictions have always been here. Wiki was never intended to be a place to discuss all of a user's interests. You needn't take my word on that; Ward has explicitly stated it on several occasions. I mentioned an alternative site for that kind of content. I am still interested to hear your specific thoughts on that alternative.

Basically, my argument so far is that interest does not imply topicality. I'm having a hard time understanding whether your argument is that topicality rules do not exist here, or that they should not be honored. Please clarify that. -- MichaelSparks


Perhaps we should make a distinction between OffTopic and on-topic-but-contentious. If there are other wiki's that seem a better topic fit, then perhaps we can suggest moving it there. If somebody wants to defend it being here, then let's try to understand the reasons. I personally have not been involved in many off-topic issues so I cannot really comment on the viewpoint of those defending off-topic pages. Perhaps they want to explore the viewpoint of the topic from an IT professional perspective. Maybe let such stand for a few months, and then move it to another wiki when changes slow. -- top

I can think of several off-topic pages, but I am having a hard time remembering examples of on-topic-but-contentious. Do you mean on-the-topicality-line-therefore-contentious? If not, please give an example. -- MichaelSparks

Examples: Aah, good examples. The first example, AlternativeTypeDefinitions, is very much on-topic in my opinion. It has some unpopular ideas, but it still has everything to do with programming. Unpopular ideas tend to meet with a lot of resistance from individuals prone to groupthink.

Yes, and that "lot of resistance" turned into a big EditWar with a WikiReductionist.

The second example, pages created by Abitbol, are in yet a different category. This individual has a history of ignoring requests to leave, and has proven himself as a troll to the majority of users. The value of his posts has little to do with it any more. I think it is good strategy to summarily delete anything from an unwelcome visitor, in the same way you shouldn't accept phone calls from your stalker just because he sounds nice today. -- MichaelSparks

Beautifully said. -- DougMerritt

If an "unwelcome" visitor reports a bug in software I've written, I'd want to correct the fault, regardless of the source of the report.

Even if he submits hundreds of bug reports that you have to read and carefully consider, to find out that they are all bogus? What if you conclude that he is only sending bug reports to waste your time? Would you still consider them?

If we lived in a perfect world, we would find a way to tolerate Abitbol. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect. In my opinion, the harm associated with this individual FAR outweighs any ill effects that banning him might create. He is a troll and a stalker, and I think ALL of his content, including his homepage -- especially including his homepage -- should be removed. Our other rowdies, while hard to deal with at times, have been nowhere near as destructive as Abitbol. -- TomStambaugh


What is the Abitbol story? I did not follow it during those times. I want to avoid becoming as despised as he is (but still be able to give my point of view) so I want to know what put him over the top (no pun intended). Was he off topic too often? --top

I agree with Tom about all this. Top simply has a small number of people who, for whatever reason, believe that he does not argue in good faith, and thus they're pretty, umm, antagonistic. But that's just a few people. I personally often find Top's points confusingly stated, and I wonder if he's as open minded as he should be, but that's all, I think he's ok, I don't think he's trolling as a general habit.

Furthering Tom's point, if Top makes a point of avoiding even the appearance of possible trolling, then his detractors will decrease, and even now it's not like everyone hates him.

I agree with the above comments about AlternativeTypeDefinitions, too. It's potentially an interesting page, and it most certainly is on topic. But it has problems. I think that much of it fails to recognize the existence of truly massive amounts of existing research. Sort of like arguing about gravity without studying Einstein. I think there's plenty of room for criticizing existing type theories, but such discussions should be informed by their details. (My general feeling in life is that it's not really true that everyone's got a right to their opinion, because that can lead to stunning degrees of intellectual dishonesty -- having an opinion on a topic that one knows nothing about is, yes, a severe kind of dishonesty. Everyone's got a right to an informed opinion. :-)

Abitbol, on the other hand, generates emnity with probability approaching 100%, universally, as # of transactions with him increases. Big difference. -- DougMerritt

That on occasion Top does not argue in good faith has ceased to be a matter of people's beliefs, but it has increasingly transitioned to a matter of fact. He may think he argues in good faith even when he doesn't, but that's a problem that he himself has to solve, it's not the community's problem. One example, for most people arguing on a subject without knowing the basics rather than taking the time to become minimally competent is arguing in bad faith. For Top, I don't think he sees a problem with it. ThreadMessing on wiki has become a valid substitution for learning, if he wastes enough energy of other contributors in the process he'll also get some learning for "free" (for some value of free that is applicable only to Top). Another example is when Top makes a point in being outrageously sloppy: "It seems that proponents of static/strong typing desire insular systems that perhaps don't connect well or relate well to external systems." - and that was an unsigned contribution. Sure if enough energy will be put to convince him, he may consider to retract later, but avoiding such excessive sloppiness, and not wasting the energy of others in order to correct what could have easily been prevented in the first place, well, that is part of "arguing in good faith" for most of us, but it seems to be irrelevant from Top's point of view.

Now what's the resolution to Top's problems? Top will slowly learn about due diligence, arguing in good faith, and the value of keeping one's mouth shut on topics where one lacks knowledge. After enough negative feedback and not getting anything done, it is likely he will not persevere on the current path and try something that will work better. -- CostinCozianu

I doubt Top will learn any of the stuff you suggest. Ever. He'll continue ignorantly arguing in bad faith for the rest of his life.

If you were truly knowledgeable, you would be able to apply your vast knowledge to show specifically where I am objectively wrong WRT "types".

That's another misunderstanding by Top. First, being truly knowledgeable doesn't imply ability to communicate this knowledge. Second, the ability to point out 'where' you are wrong doesn't imply the ability to "make you understand" 'why' you are wrong. If one were to point out where Top is objectively wrong WRT "types", they need only point at the useless HumptyDumpty definition "TypesAreSideFlags", but making Top understand why he is wrong, making him understand the definition is 'useless' because it just regresses to the issue of where 'side flags' come from and what they mean... impossible. He doesn't want to hear it.

I have withdrawn "types are side-flags" as a definition because its not worth bickering about. And as far as, "being truly knowledgeable doesn't imply ability to communicate this knowledge", that is true. However, if you want readers to accept your point, you need to keep working on documentation and articulation skills. You cannot just barf out scribbly notations of short-hand from your head and expect other people to translate it into normal language and/or accept it at face value. You have to "wait your turn", just like everybody else.

If it takes a 500-page proof on your part, then perhaps you are a poor prover and need to work on that aspect of your game to shorten things up. Stop dumping your articulation gap problem on my lap, Costin. A type theory less articulable than String Theory is of little use to the vast majority of software professionals. Incidentally, my "type" definition pushes the issue off to data structures, such as tree and graph traversal, which already has lots of stuff written about. I am not really proposing anything new, just shifting it into a data-structure issue. If I wanted to, I could combine my "type flag" theory with all the stuff written about tree and graph traversal (copy-and-paste), and put it all into a thick, boring book. Then it would be just like Reynolds's stuff. You cannot answer simple questions like, "why does your type theory depend on 'syntax' and does it have to depend on 'syntax'?" Syntax is a low-level issue IMO. I would like to see something higher up the abstraction level. Reynolds appears to offer a linguistic viewpoint on types and I am offering instead a data-structure view of types, bypassing language (in the typical sense). Does this put me "on par" with Reynolds? I don't know. But at least allow my view to exist so that others can ponder that question. Historically, it takes time to distinguish Bozo's from Einstein's. Your view that you can do it in an instance is historically improbable.

But I think a bigger philosophical issue is that I believe in more or less SelfStandingEvidence and believe that BookStops are usually for poor articulators. Now you will probably argue that ScienceShouldBeEasy is a fallacy. However, I believe that software engineering is not a science. Software is whatever you want it to be as long as one is internally consistent and produces the right answers. Reynolds's type theory may indeed be internally consistent, but that does not preclude other ideas that may also be internally consistent. In some cases, things might not be internally consistent (I don't know if this is true for type flags), but still be a UsefulLie. Like I said in SoftwareGivesUsGodLikePowers, Newtonian physics is wrong on a minute level, but still highly useful and far simpler than relatively and quantum physics for 99.9% of practical uses. You want to stomp out potential Newtonian-like UsefulLies. That is wrong. -- top

Rejecting a Lie until it proves itself to be Simpler And Equally Useful (OccamsRazor) or More Useful than the existing UsefulLies is not wrong. You claim your aim is to promote Lies on the basis they are 'potentially' Useful. That approach seems to me a way to create a lot of noise with very, very little signal. I'm surprised you see nothing wrong with it. Would you want everyone else doing the same?

That was not about outright "lies" per se, but lets address it anyhow. For one, it's often not possible to determine intentional lying from mistakes without ripping neurons out of a brain; and guessing usually leads to a rude accusative exchange. "Lie" is an overused accusation on the web, often from young men with too much testosterone. Second, saving misconceptions may prevent a later reader from making the same mistake (OnceAndOnlyOnce). Third, debunking often uncovers rules, principles, and techniques that can be used for other purposes. It doesn't hurt to document a lie. --top


See also: SeparateMeaningFromPresentation, TopsWikiCategoryEncodingSystem
CategoryWikiUser, CategoryWikiMaintenance

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