0545: "Neutrality Schmeutrality"

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0545: "Neutrality Schmeutrality"

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:03 am UTC

Image

Alt-text: "Hey, everyone, you can totally trust that I didn't do a word count on MY edit!"

Black hat man is incorrigible! I love the idea, though.

...I just realised his head is levitating.
Last edited by michaelandjimi on Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby vodka.cobra » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:04 am UTC

Wow. Now if only a millionaire would pony up just to fuck with people over this.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Leonsbuddydave » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:04 am UTC

All in favor of setting up and planning the aforementioned event?
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby molbio5 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:05 am UTC

Leonsbuddydave wrote:All in favor of setting up and planning the aforementioned event?


aye!
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby MajorDishes » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:05 am UTC

Leonsbuddydave wrote:All in favor of setting up and planning the aforementioned event?


Aye.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby SocialSceneRepairman » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:05 am UTC

He's like Gödel, only evil...and prodding the fourth wall with flaming sticks...

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby frogger626 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:06 am UTC

Leonsbuddydave wrote:All in favor of setting up and planning the aforementioned event?

I'm in. You've got...
Uh.
We're gonna need more people.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:06 am UTC

I think you can fuck with a lot more people a lot more efficiently if you spread the money out into a lot of little projects rather than give it all away in one lump some.

Anyway, nice comic today, Mr. Munroe. You painted a real good picture with your words.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby ConMan » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:07 am UTC

I'd like to make a pre-emptive request* - please, can people not make any edits to Wikipedia related to this? The whole "<INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> references Wikipedia so let's vandalise an article based on their comment!" thing got old somewhere around Stephen Colbert, and some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions rather than cleaning up after idiots who go "Hurr, hurr, I'ma gonna do what <INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> tells me because I have no imagination of my own".

* I'd like to, but odds are that by now the request is no longer pre-emptive.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby atrain » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:07 am UTC

How long until the wikipedia page gets created, and people start donating money?

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Shale » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:08 am UTC

My article would be a one-word link to a comprehensive news piece on the announcement. Neutrality regained! (Under the classical definition of odd/even numbers.)

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby airwolf » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:09 am UTC

i fail to believe the wiki is unbiased as it is..this is why i love black hat guy...

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby mterpstra » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:09 am UTC

If you could charge 10c an edit, you would get your million dollars back easy.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:10 am UTC

It's self-referential - while I'm sure someone could vandalise an article based on the comic, it would only be tangentially related and I don't see the reason.

I am still stunned by the levitating head.

Shale wrote:My article would be a one-word link to a comprehensive news piece on the announcement. Neutrality regained! (Under the classical definition of odd/even numbers.)
Blow that. Just don't create the article at all. Zero words.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Shale » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:11 am UTC

Zero is even.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby exoteric » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:12 am UTC

Just think of the arguments over how the word-count is calculated: does it include references? what about all those notifications about article clean-ups being required or the articles neutrality being disputed? In fact, what constitutes a word at all? do you use 4 or 5 letter standard words and count characters including whitespace, or only individual actual words?

Surely some moderator will come along and lock the article from being edited, in which case it will then be the mod's arguing over whether the article is complete or not, now that would be fun, especially if the above issues are not resolved and the "this article has been locked" message banner has an odd number of words... anyone want to count them?

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby skeptical scientist » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:13 am UTC

ConMan wrote:I'd like to make a pre-emptive request* - please, can people not make any edits to Wikipedia related to this? The whole "<INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> references Wikipedia so let's vandalise an article based on their comment!" thing got old somewhere around Stephen Colbert, and some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions rather than cleaning up after idiots who go "Hurr, hurr, I'ma gonna do what <INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> tells me because I have no imagination of my own".

* I'd like to, but odds are that by now the request is no longer pre-emptive.

So you're saying that we should be more imaginative with our vandalism, and come up with original pranks to play on Wikipedia instead of copying someone else's idea?
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby belhilly » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:14 am UTC

It's good that Hat Guy doesn't specify the time he's going to check the word count and make his decision. Otherwise there'd be apathy for days and then a quick flurry of editing in the minutes leading up to his decision. But this way he gets to fuck with them for a while.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:14 am UTC

Shale wrote:Zero is even.
...So it is.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby nahtanoj999 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:15 am UTC

Just use a fractional number of wor--

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Binks » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:16 am UTC

Oh, Hatman. What won't you say?

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Troger64 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:19 am UTC

i think i see some opinions from xkcd


if each person does a word count on their edit
if an even number of people make odd numbered edits then it is pro choice
if an odd number of people make odd edits then it is pro life

the decision isnt even up to pro lifers
an odd plus an even is still an odd

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby hthall » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:19 am UTC

This is a neat example of an extreme case, although even without an artificially constructed example there is ample evidence that some events and ideas just cannot or will not be covered neutrally, at least in practice.

It is already reaching the point where it's hard to avoid meta-article feedback loops, such as the recent spurious insertion of "Wilhelm" into the (very long) list of given names of a German politician in his Wikipedia article, which was copied by lazy fact-checkers, producing "journalistic evidence" to substantiate the change to the Wikipedia article itself.

I propose a name for this phenomenon: A "fact" that is manufactured as a result of someone editing a Wikipedia article, which then gets picked up and appears in major media, should be called a "Wilhelm scream".
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Felona » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:19 am UTC

Don't make a Wikipedia article until the event happens. Completely neutral. Prize please.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby dennisw » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:28 am UTC

I'd* give everybody a dollar for each edit if after each edit the word count was a prime number less than 1000, every word appears in the Scrabble dictionary, the grammar passes some automated grammar test (TBD) and no edit repeats a previous state.

* I would, but I'm not going to.

edit: clarified wording
Last edited by dennisw on Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:30 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby ConMan » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:28 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
ConMan wrote:I'd like to make a pre-emptive request* - please, can people not make any edits to Wikipedia related to this? The whole "<INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> references Wikipedia so let's vandalise an article based on their comment!" thing got old somewhere around Stephen Colbert, and some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions rather than cleaning up after idiots who go "Hurr, hurr, I'ma gonna do what <INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> tells me because I have no imagination of my own".

* I'd like to, but odds are that by now the request is no longer pre-emptive.

So you're saying that we should be more imaginative with our vandalism, and come up with original pranks to play on Wikipedia instead of copying someone else's idea?


I'm almost tempted to say yes, except that in reference to my statement that "some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions" that chasing up "creative" vandalism would take up even more of that time. Personally, I'd really like to know just how many people who vandalise Wikipedia also accept text from Wikipedia as fact without bothering to wonder whether someone else might have been doing some subtle vandalism of their own.

Oh, and *facepalm* to DrTall, who I believe is about *this* close to getting blocked on WP for trying to recreate the relevant article.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby arbivark » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:29 am UTC

prior art:
earliest recorded discussion of schmeutrality at wikipedia:

http://www.imechanica.org/node/3420#comment-7988
Submitted by Mike Ciavarella on Tue, 2008-07-01 19:53.
We "go meta" whenever there is any significant dispute, and describe
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"nonbias," then call it "schmeutrality" or whatever you like.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Shale » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:29 am UTC

Troger64 wrote:i think i see some opinions from xkcd


if each person does a word count on their edit
if an even number of people make odd numbered edits then it is pro choice
if an odd number of people make odd edits then it is pro life

the decision isnt even up to pro lifers
an odd plus an even is still an odd


Whuhuh? You have confused my brain-meat. If BHG is going to check at midnight, then at 11:59:59 a pro-lifer could edit the article to read "I like pie," and presto, the article is three words long and thus odd. What does the number of edits have to do with anything.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby toysbfun » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:33 am UTC

ConMan wrote:I'd like to make a pre-emptive request* - please, can people not make any edits to Wikipedia related to this? The whole "<INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> references Wikipedia so let's vandalise an article based on their comment!" thing got old somewhere around Stephen Colbert, and some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions rather than cleaning up after idiots who go "Hurr, hurr, I'ma gonna do what <INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> tells me because I have no imagination of my own".

* I'd like to, but odds are that by now the request is no longer pre-emptive.

Actually, the idea was previously mentioned in a wikinews interview

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby kenj0418 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:35 am UTC

Articles for Deletion - Not notable

Problem solved :-)

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby chuckstudios » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:39 am UTC

Image

Recombinant XKCD. Doesn't make much sense, but who cares?

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby screech » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:39 am UTC

On the other hand, if you WANT the money, then I believe the best option is to edit the pro-life and pro-choice group wiki pages both to mean you.

You might get flack for being hypocritical about the abortion issue but it's a million dollars!
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby kelerain » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:41 am UTC

I couldn't help myself as a geek with a problem in front of them. I see two solutions.

1. A pro-life and pro-choice group pairing, such that both agree to accept the donation on behalf of their 'side', and also to donate half to the opposing side.

2. A bit of 'neutrality code' added to the page, such that on each viewing, based on a high quality RNG, a single additional word is either displayed or not, making the parity of the page uninfluenceable.

Maybe both.

Would these not, technically speaking, restore neutrality to the page?

You can perhaps poke holes in these, but I think the editorship of wikipedia could work up a version of the page, and lock it with the protection code left in it. With the pairing thing, it's mostly a mater of who is going to receive the donation.

(re: deletion above, zero words is even?)

Thank you for this one Randall, it made me laugh, then it made me think. My favorite kind of creative content. :)

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby ConMan » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:49 am UTC

toysbfun wrote:
ConMan wrote:I'd like to make a pre-emptive request* - please, can people not make any edits to Wikipedia related to this? The whole "<INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> references Wikipedia so let's vandalise an article based on their comment!" thing got old somewhere around Stephen Colbert, and some of us would like to occasionally make meaningful contributions rather than cleaning up after idiots who go "Hurr, hurr, I'ma gonna do what <INSERT COMEDIAN, TV SHOW HOST OR WEBCOMIC AUTHOR HERE> tells me because I have no imagination of my own".

* I'd like to, but odds are that by now the request is no longer pre-emptive.

Actually, the idea was previously mentioned in a wikinews interview


Oh, good point. I'd forgotten that interview. But no-one actually did anything about it until Randall made this comic. *weeps for poor, neglected Wikinews*

And on a point more relevant to the comic, surely if the event were to actually happen the article itself could be neutrally written and well sourced. The problem would be with the scrutiny that editors would be under from various "watchdogs" depending on how many words they left the article having.
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Kailen » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:53 am UTC

Dangit Randall, who let you out? Get back in my head where you belong.

(Great comic, as usual.)
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Ghona » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:54 am UTC

So, fun fact, there's a page "celebrities who have vandalized wikipedia".

I vote that Randall adds his name to the list.

If they remove it, it's vandalism and should have stayed.

If they don't remove it, it isn't vandalism, and should have been removed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... _Wikipedia
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:57 am UTC

Shale wrote:Zero is even.

Perfect. :twisted:

nahtanoj999 wrote:Just use a fractional number of wor--

Then the money goes to Maddox?... :?
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:08 am UTC

nahtanoj999 wrote:Just use a fractional number of wor--
That's what I was thinking. Is 100.5 even? 101.6?
Felona wrote:Don't make a Wikipedia article until the event happens. Completely neutral. Prize please.
Unless he just counts the number of words in the "this page does not exist" message, which I can't be arsed to do.
Ghona wrote:So, fun fact, there's a page "celebrities who have vandalized wikipedia".

I vote that Randall adds his name to the list.

If they remove it, it's vandalism and should have stayed.

If they don't remove it, it isn't vandalism, and should have been removed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... _Wikipedia
Nice Wikiparadox. :mrgreen:
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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby TheHand » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:13 am UTC

On some strange planet it would be possible to edit such an article with complete neutrality. The implication of course is that it would be impossible given the competing interested of the editors. If of course the editors were completely and 100% dedicated to accurately representing the facts as they are (and I do mean 100%, this is a fantasy world here) then no such problem would occur, though of course, the length of the article would change at the very least when the donation was actually made, but this would at most create an irony.

The problem of course here, is human nature, but not necessarily an inherent problem in Wikipedia itself, provided it's same structure were accessible, and only accessible, to some entirely uninterested party.

Of course, I'm just mentally masturbating.

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Re: "Neutrality Schmeutrality" discussion

Postby Luthen » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:15 am UTC

I could see the article having a large section on opposing definitions of word count. Eg. pro-life support body text only which gives an odd number and pro-choice supporting a count of ever word on the page.

Off-topic: Does anyone else find the image on the Evenness of Zero page amusing with its caption?
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