dtbrookes (dtbrookes) wrote,

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Wikipedia and neutrality

I've had this idea percolating in my mind for a very long time. Someone needs to start a real web encyclopedia. This idea emerged out of the fact that I hate wikipedia. Almost every slightly controversial article I look at makes this pathetic attempt at neutrality. The result is just bullshit in which one cannot distinguish half-truth from total fiction. People use the most ridiculous sources as references. Supposedly noncontroversial articles, like physics stuff, is almost always disjointed and incoherent because (it seems to me) different arbitrary people are editing it.

So here's my proposal. My imagnined web encyclopedia does not have a "wiki" format. Rather it run by a committee of 7 or fewer academics who have broad interdisciplinary knowledge. This committee and each of its members is then reponsible for appointing field experts to either write articles for the encyclopedia or smaller committees of 3 - 5 field experts to write articles. These appointed people or committees can either write articles for the encyclopedia or vet ALREADY WRITTEN articles on the web to be linked to, from the encyclopedia according to an agreed set of criteria. The original committee of 7 would have overall responsibility over quality control and enforcement of the criteria.

So, here are the criteria:

1. The only acceptable sources of reference, upon which articles may be constructed, are those in either a) peer reviewed journals, or b) reports by reasonably neutral international organizations that the committee of 7 would designate as acceptable. Good examples might be amnesty international. c) This list should be expanded, but I haven't given it too much thought. The goal of the encyclopedia is to cover human knowledge and beliefs, not just scientific stuff.

2. Controversial articles for the encyclopedia are NOT REQUIRED TO BE NEUTRAL. Authors are free to make a right wing or left wing analysis as long as their article is referenced with references as denoted acceptable in criterion 1. Rather, the bias of a particular article has to be stated up front or, if there is a link to a biased article, there should be short blurb on the encyclopedia page stating the biases and affiliations of the authors of the particular article. If bias and affiliation cannot be determined, the article is deemed unacceptable for the encyclopedia For example, one might have two articles analyzing the causes the collapse of industry X in country Y. One article might contain a Marxist analysis of the collapse, another article might contain a Keynsian analysis of economic factors leading to the collapse. Both are acceptable and encouraged. Attempts to present all views on a particular subject in a SINGLE ARTICLE are strongly discouraged. No, in fact, neutrality should be banned in my view.
3. The encyclopedia cannot be edited by the general public, only by people, or groups of people appointed by the committee of 7. People can apply to write articles or vet articles. If the work load is too great, the committee of 7 can maybe appoint subcommittees of (roughly) 7 to be responsible for specific subject areas (e.g. physics). That physics subcommittee of 7 would then in turn, function like the original committee of 7, appointing field specialists to write or vet articles for the encyclopedia. That physics subcommittee would then be responsible for ensuring criteria 1 and 2 were adhered to. The original committee of 7 might then function purely as overseers and administrators, although they would have the ultimate voice on any decision. Decisions that cannot be made by subcommittees might be referred back to them for arbitration.
4. A set of rules for committee functioning should be set, but I haven't thought much about it yet.

So there you have it. Any takers?
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