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Re: [ANE-2] Wikipedia and the sum of all knowledge

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  • victor avigdor hurowitz
    should I have given you credit? Victor BGU Israel
    Message 1 of 27 , Apr 2, 2006
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      should I have given you credit?
      Victor
      BGU Israel



      On Sun, 2 Apr 2006, Paul James Cowie wrote:

      > Dear Victor,
      >
      > You've concisely summarised my own opinion on these matters.... And a
      > most apposite quotation!
      >
      > Best regards,
      >
      > -----------------------
      >
      > Paul James Cowie
      > BA Hons (Sydney) GradDipEd MA (Macquarie) PhD in candidato
      >
      > London, England and Sydney, Australia
      >
      > Editor, http://www.ancientneareast.net/
      > Area Supervisor, Tel Rehov Excavations, Israel
      > Committee Member, Friends of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
      >
      > PhD Candidate, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, Macquarie
      > University, Sydney, Australia
      >
      > On 2 Apr 2006, at 09:54, victor avigdor hurowitz wrote:
      >
      > > Dear Paul and Sam and anyone else,
      > > IN brief, IMHO, knowledge which has already been published should
      > > be and
      > > obviously is available to everybody, everywhere, without
      > > distinction. It makes no sense to tell someone "don't pass on what
      > > I published in the New York Times, or on the internet on an open
      > > forum, etc."
      > > However, if that is "new knowledge" either created or
      > > discovered by a particular individual, institution, etc., and is
      > > properly published, its discoverer
      > > or creator should be acknowledged in conventional, accepted manners
      > > to the
      > > extent that their identity is known to the person passing that
      > > knowledge
      > > or discovery along. If the identity is unknown, or the venue of
      > > publication is not one such as would permit passing on the
      > > identity, it
      > > should at least be clear that the (second hand) purveyor of the
      > > knowledge
      > > makes no claim to having discovered or invented it.
      > > We will all do well to live by the anonymous dictum at the end of Avot
      > > 6:6 "Whosoever reports a thing in the name of him who said it brings
      > > deliverence to the world; as it is said, `And Esther told the king
      > > in the
      > > name of Mordechai'" (Esther 2:22).
      > > Victor Hurowitz
      > > Dept. of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
      > > Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
      > > Beer-Sheva, Israel
      > >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • Jim West
      ... The whole wicked wiki project not only allows persons who have no qualifications to publish entries- but anyone can edit anything you write! So, for
      Message 2 of 27 , Apr 2, 2006
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        Sam Wolff wrote:
        > I don't know anything about Wikipedia, but I ask: who gives somebody the
        > right to contribute an entry on a particular subject? G.M. Grena does
        > not have any connection to the excavation or the excavators at Nahal
        > Tut. Have we entered into a situation where anybody can "publish"
        > anybody else's excavation? If so, we've got a problem here, an ethical
        > one for sure, and possibly a legal one as well. Perhaps scholars
        > shouldn't have anything to do with such enterprises, if this is what we
        > end up with.
        >
        > Sam Wolff
        > Jerusalem
        >


        The whole wicked wiki project not only allows persons who have no
        qualifications to publish entries- but anyone can edit anything you
        write! So, for example, if you publish an entry on wiki about an
        excavation- Joe Schmoe can come along and "correct" your entry even if
        he has never seen a spade.

        The whole project is really ridiculous.


        --
        Jim West, ThD

        http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies Resources
      • Paul James Cowie
        Regarding Jim West s comments regarding Wikipedia... ... Surely a project cannot be inherently wicked , merely the motives or deeds of some of its
        Message 3 of 27 , Apr 2, 2006
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          Regarding Jim West's comments regarding Wikipedia...

          On 2 Apr 2006, at 13:49, Jim West wrote:
          >
          > The whole wicked wiki project

          Surely a project cannot be inherently "wicked", merely the motives or
          deeds of some of its contributors.... This is, therefore, something
          of an emotive and simplistic characterisation.

          > allows persons who have no
          > qualifications to publish entries- but anyone can edit anything you
          > write!

          'Qualifications' is something of a loaded term (there are many
          excellent practising archaeologists who do not possess even a degree,
          for example, let alone a doctorate) - it surely should not be
          essential to have letters after your name (or such is the
          implication) to be able to write / contribute to an _encyclopaedic_
          article that simply outlines the basic facts and issues of a topic.

          Secondly, the current focus within Wikipedia and several other wiki
          projects is to incorporate reliable and scholarly citations of
          original research, as a means of validating encyclopaedic articles.
          Their gradual inclusion over time should make it increasingly
          difficult for idle contributors to add whatever they will...

          > So, for example, if you publish an entry on wiki about an
          > excavation- Joe Schmoe can come along and "correct" your entry even if
          > he has never seen a spade.

          It _is_ true that anyone can make emendations and corrections to
          articles - such is the collaborative nature of the project. However,
          should inconsistencies and errors arise, it is a simple matter to
          alter / revert the offending changes, the editing process
          simultaneously benefiting from accompanying discussion pages for each
          article. Should a conflict arise, dedicated channels are available
          for arbitration and conflict resolution.

          >
          > The whole project is really ridiculous.
          >

          A growing number of people worldwide, both users and contributors to
          Wikipedia, would beg to differ.

          -----------------------

          Paul James Cowie
          BA Hons (Sydney) GradDipEd MA (Macquarie) PhD in candidato

          London, England and Sydney, Australia

          Editor, http://www.ancientneareast.net/
          Area Supervisor, Tel Rehov Excavations, Israel

          PhD Candidate, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, Macquarie
          University, Sydney, Australia
        • Ford Mommaerts-Browne
          ... From: Jim West To: Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2006 9:49 AM Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Wikipedia ... Or, as happens,
          Message 4 of 27 , Apr 2, 2006
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Jim West" <jwest@...>
            To: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2006 9:49 AM
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Wikipedia

            |
            |
            | The whole wicked wiki project not only allows persons who have no
            | qualifications to publish entries- but anyone can edit anything you
            | write! So, for example, if you publish an entry on wiki about an
            | excavation- Joe Schmoe can come along and "correct" your entry even if
            | he has never seen a spade.
            |
            | Jim West, ThD

            Or, as happens, uncorrect the entry, remove spelling, punctuation and grammatical corrections, (after all, these are all things of purely personal preference and style), remove citations, and insert libellous commentary. As is, it is worse than ridiculous, it is actually counterproductive of the creator's stated goals.

            T. Stanford Mommaerts-Browne, GNSN
            Omaha, Nebraska 68105-1310
            (402)932-7094
          • G.M. Grena
            ... Here in America, our country was founded on the belief that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
            Message 5 of 27 , Apr 2, 2006
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              > who gives somebody the right to contribute an
              > entry on a particular subject?
              > Sam Wolff

              Here in America, our country was founded on the belief that "all men
              are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
              certain unalienable Rights," & the founders of Wikipedia decided to
              give all humans on the planet with Internet access the right to
              contribute to human knowledge, as they initially bar no one from
              their site.

              > G.M. Grena does not have any connection to the
              > excavation or the excavators at Nahal Tut.
              > Sam Wolff

              Are you quite sure about that, Sam Wolff? Have you been privy to my
              personal correspondence with the Israel Antiquities Authority? Who
              gave you the right to post a message to this list asserting a
              slanderous charge against me without any source reference? I would
              encourage one of ANE-2's moderators to ask Sam Wolff for the source
              of his allegation regarding my connection (or lack thereof) to any
              excavation or excavators.

              > Have we entered into a situation where anybody
              > can "publish" anybody else's excavation?
              > Sam Wolff

              Niels Peter Lemche asked for some specific examples. Since Nahal Tut
              caught your eye, let's go there & see if there are any references in
              the References section of that page to see who really published the
              info on that page first:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahal_Tut

              G.M. Grena
            • G.M. Grena
              ... Jimmy Wales & the Wikimedia Foundation (based in Florida) encourage anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer to edit, correct, or improve it.
              Message 6 of 27 , Apr 3, 2006
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                > who gives somebody the right to contribute an entry

                Jimmy Wales & the Wikimedia Foundation (based in Florida) encourage
                "anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer to edit,
                correct, or improve" it. More info on contributing to its content is
                available at:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Contributing_to_Wikipedia

                Think of the Wikipedia as a multi-person blog that collects
                information in a format many people benefit from. I, for one, enjoy
                being able to get basic information on many subjects, with convenient
                links to related material. I always search the Internet & my local
                libraries for details on questionable/disputed content, & check
                source references for accuracy on important info.

                Most vandalism on the Wikipedia is obvious, especially since each
                edit is timestamped. If you're reading about coastal development
                along the Great Barrier Reef, & suddenly read, "hi my name is bob",
                chances are very good the page has been vandalized, & you should
                revert to an earlier version. Just click on the History tab at the
                top of each article & compare page versions; here's an example:

                en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Great_Barrier_Reef&oldid=42986935

                Controversial topics usually carry a warning at the top of the page:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

                > Have we entered into a situation where
                > anybody can "publish" anybody else's excavation?
                > Sam Wolff

                No. Look at your logic: How could somebody who, in your
                words, "does not have any connection to the excavation or the
                excavators" possibly know anything worth publishing? Where would
                they get it?

                I would submit that people working on an excavation know each other,
                & would be cognizant of the dig-director's right to the editio
                princeps. How many times in the past century has there been a big
                fight between 2 parties over ANE publication rights? The only ones I
                can think of off the top of my head are the Ebla tablets & DSS.
                Neither of those disputes involved the Wikipedia!

                Furthermore, if a renegade were to publish a significant find from a
                site before the director, that person (usually a student) would
                garner a very bad reputation & probably not be allowed on any other
                sites. For a student, there would probably be detrimental academic
                repercussions.

                A good example of the honor code in action is the Zayit Stone with
                the astounding Paleo-Hebrew/Phoenician abecedary; it was found in
                July, but not published until the director, Ron Tappy held a formal
                press conference in November. The gentleman who discovered it
                (Michael Homan) had ample opportunities to trump his accomplishment
                last summer to the press, his blog, & the Wikipedia. He's to be
                commended.

                Since you commented on my Nahal Tut entry, anyone can visit that page
                & see my references in the References section. All I did was
                condense the Israel Antiquity Authority's press-releases, which were
                extremely terse overviews to begin with:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahal_Tut

                I added a few sentences to emphasize LMLK seals, & the entire article
                is less than 300 words. I would submit that the final report, when
                the excavators publish it some years hence, will contain
                significantly more content. The Wikipedia entry gives interested
                parties a "heads up" advantage. I believe it's going to affect
                everyone who writes about Neo-Assyrian chronology.

                G.M. Grena
              • victor avigdor hurowitz
                Dear All, ANE2 is hardly the place to discuss the interpretation of the Declaration of Independence of the United States. Nonetheless, it is hard to desist
                Message 7 of 27 , Apr 3, 2006
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                  Dear All,
                  ANE2 is hardly the place to discuss the interpretation of the Declaration
                  of Independence of the United States. Nonetheless, it is hard to desist
                  from frontally criticizing your use of its "all men are created equal" in
                  defense of Wikipedia's editorial policy or lack thereof. The fact is that
                  NOT all people are of equal scholarly ability, or any other ability for
                  that matter, no matter what their God
                  given right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness happens to
                  be. In a court of law, all men and women have equal right to due process
                  of law and a fair trial. Governments should treat all their citizens
                  "equally" in collecting taxes and granting benefits. Yet all these things
                  and others have absolutely nothing to do with a person's knowledge,
                  intelligence, abilities, talents, etc. which are precisely the qualities
                  by which a person is judged before he or she should contribute to an
                  academic enterprise. When you chose a doctor you would hardly pick one
                  randomly out
                  of a crowd of people because "all men are created equal". When you chose a
                  spouse, you don't just spin a wheel or flip a coin because "all men are
                  created equal". And when a person searches for information he or she
                  doesn't
                  ask just anyone, but goes to an expert. I've belaboured this
                  enough. You can apply what I've said to what Wikipedia should and
                  shouldn't provide/

                  Victor Hurowitz
                  Dept. of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
                  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
                  Beer-Sheva, Israel



                  On Mon, 3 Apr 2006, G.M. Grena wrote:

                  > > who gives somebody the right to contribute an
                  > > entry on a particular subject?
                  > > Sam Wolff
                  >
                  > Here in America, our country was founded on the belief that "all men
                  > are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
                  > certain unalienable Rights," & the founders of Wikipedia decided to
                  > give all humans on the planet with Internet access the right to
                  > contribute to human knowledge, as they initially bar no one from
                  > their site.
                  >
                  > > G.M. Grena does not have any connection to the
                  > > excavation or the excavators at Nahal Tut.
                  > > Sam Wolff
                  >
                  > Are you quite sure about that, Sam Wolff? Have you been privy to my
                  > personal correspondence with the Israel Antiquities Authority? Who
                  > gave you the right to post a message to this list asserting a
                  > slanderous charge against me without any source reference? I would
                  > encourage one of ANE-2's moderators to ask Sam Wolff for the source
                  > of his allegation regarding my connection (or lack thereof) to any
                  > excavation or excavators.
                  >
                  > > Have we entered into a situation where anybody
                  > > can "publish" anybody else's excavation?
                  > > Sam Wolff
                  >
                  > Niels Peter Lemche asked for some specific examples. Since Nahal Tut
                  > caught your eye, let's go there & see if there are any references in
                  > the References section of that page to see who really published the
                  > info on that page first:
                  >
                  > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahal_Tut
                  >
                  > G.M. Grena
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • G.M. Grena
                  ... I apologize for my tone in that response. I was in a bad mood Sunday after losing an hour here in California to Daylight-Saving Time, & when asked who
                  Message 8 of 27 , Apr 4, 2006
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                    > ANE2 is hardly the place to discuss the interpretation
                    > of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

                    I apologize for my tone in that response. I was in a bad mood Sunday
                    after losing an hour here in California to Daylight-Saving Time, &
                    when asked "who gives somebody the right", I did not assume it to be
                    rhetorical. That message was appropriately intercepted by the
                    moderators, & I wrote my 2nd/alternative response explaining the
                    Wikimedia Foundation not knowing the earlier rendition would still be
                    posted.

                    > ...a person's knowledge, intelligence, abilities,
                    > talents, etc. which are precisely the qualities
                    > by which a person is judged before he or she
                    > should contribute to an academic enterprise.
                    > Victor Hurowitz

                    Everybody has the right to write. Content should be the primary
                    criterion for contributions because it's impossible to know an
                    author's true breadth of "knowledge, intelligence, abilities,
                    talents" prior to reading what they've written. I judge books &
                    articles (& web pages) by their subjects, not by their writers'
                    reputations. I'd love to cite some good/bad examples here, but I
                    don't want to incite a verbal riot. I'll just say that I'm willing
                    to read anyone who writes extensively on the Hezekiah/Sennacherib
                    confrontation & leave it at that.

                    If someone obtains a PhD from a respected university, that's a nice
                    indication of the individual's ability to achieve a goal & contribute
                    to an academic enterprise, but if I'm trying to learn a subject &
                    read that PhD's dissertation, it may not be up to date & may contain
                    errors, & I would not know it until I did additional research &
                    comparison with other publications.

                    When I find up-to-date info, how can I effectively share it & bring
                    it to the attention of others? Traditional & university publishers
                    would ignore me because they don't know my "knowledge, intelligence,
                    abilities, talents" due to my lack of credentials; even so, it would
                    take them months to get it into print.

                    That's the nice thing about Wikipedia; if the content is bogus
                    (the "hi-my-name-is-bob" example I cited yesterday), it can be easily
                    changed & updated immediately; but the "caveat emptor" is, you (the
                    researcher) have to act just as responsibly & double-check Wikipedia
                    as you would do with any other source. Publication responsibility is
                    a 2-way street.

                    Isn't that what you university professors do? Don't you check
                    material before you recommend it to students? The flip side of the
                    coin is, Don't you also occasionally recommend a work that you know
                    contains problems (when they're outweighed by other valuable data)?

                    George Michael Grena, II
                    Redondo Beach, CA
                  • Peter T. Daniels
                    ... (Anyway, the Declaration is not part of the law of the land.) ... You seem to be missing two points entirely. (1) The naive reader has no way of knowing
                    Message 9 of 27 , Apr 5, 2006
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                      G.M. Grena wrote:
                      >
                      > > ANE2 is hardly the place to discuss the interpretation
                      > > of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

                      (Anyway, the Declaration is not part of the law of the land.)

                      > That's the nice thing about Wikipedia; if the content is bogus
                      > (the "hi-my-name-is-bob" example I cited yesterday), it can be easily
                      > changed & updated immediately; but the "caveat emptor" is, you (the
                      > researcher) have to act just as responsibly & double-check Wikipedia
                      > as you would do with any other source.  Publication responsibility is
                      > a 2-way street.
                      >
                      > Isn't that what you university professors do?  Don't you check
                      > material before you recommend it to students?  The flip side of the
                      > coin is, Don't you also occasionally recommend a work that you know
                      > contains problems (when they're outweighed by other valuable data)?

                      You seem to be missing two points entirely.

                      (1) The naive reader has no way of knowing whether what appears in
                      wikipedia on any particular day is accurate or not. Mr. Cowie's vision
                      of every article spiraling ever upward in excellence is nothing but pipe
                      dreaming.

                      (2) What university professor -- or other knowledgeable person -- has
                      the time (setting aside the inclination!) to review every wikipedia
                      posting that might impinge on their area of specialization? What teacher
                      would be so foolish as to assign readings in wikipedia, knowing that the
                      content could be altered at any moment by anyone whatsoever?

                      Thirdly, you yourself exemplify another problem. You posted pictures of
                      an artifact you own, and you were told by an expert in exactly that sort
                      of artifact that it was, with extremely high probability, not genuine;
                      yet you continued to make protestations, and still adduced supposed
                      "parallels" that had no relevance to the artifact at all. This suggests
                      that expert testimony, whatever the topic, is not of interest to
                      laypersons if it contravenes their expectations. What's to stop you from
                      editing a wikipedia article on ancient sealings to include your
                      artifact, so as to enhance its prestige? (It probably hasn't occurred to
                      you that doing so might also enhance its monetary value, but that
                      certainly has occurred to unscrupulous antiquities dealers who have no
                      interest in antiquities other than their market value.)
                      --
                      Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                    • Sandberg
                      Peter T. Daniels Wrote: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 5:16 AM ... wikipedia on any particular day is accurate or not. Mr. Cowie s vision of every article
                      Message 10 of 27 , Apr 5, 2006
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                        Peter T. Daniels Wrote: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 5:16 AM

                        >(1) The naive reader has no way of knowing whether what appears in
                        wikipedia on any particular day is accurate or not. Mr. Cowie's vision
                        of every article spiraling ever upward in excellence is nothing but pipe
                        dreaming.



                        So there is really more security for the printed text?

                        >(2) What university professor -- or other knowledgeable person -- has
                        the time (setting aside the inclination!) to review every wikipedia
                        posting that might impinge on their area of specialization? What teacher
                        would be so foolish as to assign readings in wikipedia, knowing that the
                        content could be altered at any moment by anyone whatsoever?


                        After reading all these posts about Wikipedia, a.k.a. waste of time, I'm glad I rely on the older school of printed pages instead. It's more reliable for the reader, and profitable for the author.

                        Now sometime back I came across a PDF file that refused any printing, any editing, any saving or copying etc. The text and photos were locked. So if you wanted a section from this publication/book you'd either have to buy the publication or manually key stroke selected portions of the authors work.

                        So if I may ask, why can't original works by authors or specialists be electronically frozen, making it difficult for others to edit, thus riding on the shirttails of those who have already done the work?

                        Mark Sandberg

                        Eugene, Oregon
                        mspalaeo@...


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                      • Ford Mommaerts-Browne
                        ... From: Peter T. Daniels To: Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 9:16 AM Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re:
                        Message 11 of 27 , Apr 5, 2006
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                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
                          To: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 9:16 AM
                          Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Wikipedia


                          | G.M. Grena wrote:
                          | >
                          | > > ANE2 is hardly the place to discuss the interpretation
                          | > > of the Declaration of Independence of the United States.
                          |
                          | (Anyway, the Declaration is not part of the law of the land.)
                          |

                          I know that I am stepping off-topic here, but bare with me - there is a point to be made.
                          The Declaration IS the law of the land, (if 'the land' is the USofA), because the US has 'Common Law', whereïn Custom gains the force of Law. In fact, the Declaration of Independence has been cited by courts to uphold or to overturn decisions, rulings or findings.
                          Now, IF I didn't happen to see Prof. Daniels' comment; and IF I hadn't happened to have taken some law courses, (to become a more-roundly educated and [hopefully] better historian), where I learned a couple of things; and IF the moderators hadn't let this post through, (this is, of course, assuming that they do), then the rest of the readers of this post may have accepted that the DofI is NOT 'the law of the land'.
                          We're starting to get a pretty iffy mound here. THIS is the problem with Wikipedia. Supercilious, self-appointed supervisors are given leeway to control content whereät they are not the experts who they present themselves as being. This is the 'best-case' scenario. The worst-case we have been redescribing at length. Yayhoos and _hoi polloi_, (or, as my coöperating teacher was wont to call them, 'The Great Unwashed'), can post any silly thing, and let it stand until somebody who knows better, (read 'other'), amends the tract.
                          As an example: familysearch.org, the database of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, includes innumerable pedigrees tracing lineages through the Norse gods to the kings of Troy, through Jupiter, to Javan ben Japhet ben Noah, and on up to Adam, who was created by God. A very nice capstone to any family-tree. And the WWW has spread and proliferated this hodge-podge, this meaningless mishmash of mental masturbation, to genealogies all around the planet.

                          ***Here's the bottom-line: There will be those who, seeing the problems and pitfalls with which the Wikipedia is fraught, will dismiss it, almost out-of-hand, and neither use it, nor endorse it. There will be those who will, seeing that potential promised by the Wikipediasts, give it a whirl; find that there is no real accountability, and minimal responsibility; have an extremely negative experience; and join the first group. Yet, there will still be those, with stars in their guileless eyes, who will continue to believe in the project, much as a long-suffering wife may continue to believe that her husband will take the pledge, and never touch liquor again. Rarely will members of groups one and two convince those of the third group; and, equally rarely, will those of group the third sway those of the first two groups.
                          At this particular juncture, I suggest that we all agree to disagree, on this topic; and spend time on such where we may.
                          Apologies for the lengthy post.
                          T. Stanford Mommaerts-Browne, GNSN
                          Omaha, Nebraska 68105-1310
                          (402)932-7094
                          BA UNL (1986)
                          BS UNL (1988)
                          Scholar without Portfolio
                          Secondary Social Sciences Teacher and Chef, by training
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