0547: "Simple"

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theta4
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0547: "Simple"

Postby theta4 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:01 am UTC

Image
Alt text: Actually, I think if all higher math professors had to write for the Simple English Wikipedia for a year, we'd be much better shape academically.

Ha. I love reading the Simple English Wikipedia. It's a shame there aren't more articles, and it's slightly embarrassing how simple it is. But for some concepts where the Wikipedia article is quite dense, reading Simple English can help clear things up.
Last edited by theta4 on Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:35 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby aeiss » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:03 am UTC

Wow, I didn't know that it existed.

Damn that's cool.
I wonder if there'll be a spike in traffic to simple now.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:05 am UTC

I wish that there were more articles for Simple, and they were more complete. I tend to like it. I like to read simple for the overview, and then read the English, and then read the Latin article.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby mrmanme » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:05 am UTC

I assume that the lack of "in" in the alt-text was intentional to make the point?

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sargeras0000 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:06 am UTC

I dislike Simple, but that's just because I'm an elitist.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby screech » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:07 am UTC

I just found Simple a few days ago. Thus, GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

Still, if it gives it a boost in articles I'm fully for this webcomic.

(this means that he does not use instruments (for example, guitars and pianos) to make music).
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby megachad » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:07 am UTC

redacted
Last edited by megachad on Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby dennisw » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:09 am UTC

<grunt>
Try the Printifier for xkcd. You can now scale the comic between 50 and 150%.

I find these very useful: Common Errors in English Usage (web site) and Eats, Shoots & Leaves (book). You may, too.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby hthall » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:10 am UTC

This reminds me of listening to coverage of the first Gulf War over the shortwave: the Voice Of America broadcast "in. special. English."

I should try adding or expanding a math article.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Guff » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:11 am UTC

I've seen it before, but decided to check it out again after reading this, and was immediately presented with a factoid concerning the length of the longest known human penis.

I blame xkcd for my current feelings of inadequacy.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby SocialSceneRepairman » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:13 am UTC

...doubleplusgood.

Is it bad that I didn't notice a change in the level of diction until I read the caption? Am I just too used to big words? Or self-consciously little ones?

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sargeras0000 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:14 am UTC

megachad wrote:Great comic, but that made me realize that I am unable to read an article from that Simple English Wikipedia normally. I read it really slow, analyzing every single word. Either I'm just tired, or it's some kind of evil force emanating from the wiki.


It's all a trick. They make it seem easy to understand, but then you read it, and you take extra time doing so. Then they sneak up and garrote you.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby exoteric » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:21 am UTC

Re: "Music DRM" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:29 am UTC
PeteThePessimist wrote:Explain to me what this DRM thing are.


What is your native language? I'll send you a link.
This is English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management
and this is simple english: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita ... Management


I'm guessing here, but I'd never heard of the Simple English Wikipedia till this post by sej46 on last Fridays comic. Maybe Randall hadn't either.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Lumpy » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:22 am UTC

Whenever I see something I wrote for Wikipedia "simplified," I get the facepalm reaction as if someone stuck two cobalt-neodymium magnets to my hand and forehead.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby GuitarFreak » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:26 am UTC

Never heard of it until this comic. I almost can't read the pages because they're almost too simple.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby screech » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:29 am UTC

Guff wrote:I've seen it before, but decided to check it out again after reading this, and was immediately presented with a factoid concerning the length of the longest known human penis.

I blame xkcd for my current feelings of inadequacy.


I look that up, and find in the article:

The longest human penis was found by Doctor Robert L. Dickinson.


Yay immature cheese burning.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Kleppner » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:37 am UTC

I have to agree with making higher math profs write simple.wikipedia articles for a year.
Hell, include some of the physics profs as well and you'd see SO many more people coming out of a class going, "Oh look, I learnt something in class today!"

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby lcpwbxjilslhmrcyliswsnoajvtoov » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:44 am UTC

Uh-oh...

Simple Wikipedia: Quantum mechanics
"The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand."
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

Somebody needs to fix that right away!

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Nihiltres » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:44 am UTC

Disclaimer: I'm an admin on the (not-simple) English Wikipedia.
Spoiler:
I also happen to be the one who deleted the Neutrality Schmeutrality article, but that's beside the point.

Here's the basic explanation they have for how to write in basic English: Wikipedia:How to write Simple English articles

A trick is to translate articles which already exist in the (not-simple) English Wikipedia, as the content is already there, so the challenge is mostly in simplifying the wording.

P.S. I've probably edited Wikipedia too much, since while composing this I kept thinking "Maybe I should refresh the edit window to make sure that I don't get an edit conflict" :)

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby skine » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:47 am UTC

Hey, I take offense to the statement that Mathematics should be simplified.

We try to simplify it plenty by taking huge concepts and refining them to about three or four interchangeable words.
I mean hell, If you don't spend an entire day trying to decipher the sentence "The first inequality follows from Lemma 3.1," then get out of the math(s, for you Britons) department.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby tuckels » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:48 am UTC

Nihiltres wrote:I also happen to be the one who deleted the Neutrality Schmeutrality article, but that's beside the point.

I can see about a million "Oh me yarm WTF? DON'T U HAV NO SENCE OF HUMOR?!?!"(sic) posts inbound.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby TheHand » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:50 am UTC

Specialization: it will DOOM US ALL!

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby aleflamedyud » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:52 am UTC

Damn it all, Simple Wikipedia has no entry on the cross product of two 3D vectors!
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby nahtanoj999 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:01 am UTC

Zero is a special number. If there are zero things, there are not any things. There are none.

Example:
John has zero hats. John does not have a hat.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:05 am UTC

exoteric wrote:
Re: "Music DRM" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:29 am UTC
PeteThePessimist wrote:Explain to me what this DRM thing are.


What is your native language? I'll send you a link.
This is English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management
and this is simple english: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita ... Management


I'm guessing here, but I'd never heard of the Simple English Wikipedia till this post by sej46 on last Fridays comic. Maybe Randall hadn't either.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby niteice » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:29 am UTC

lcpwbxjilslhmrcyliswsnoajvtoov wrote:Uh-oh...

Simple Wikipedia: Quantum mechanics
"The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand."
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

Somebody needs to fix that right away!


I actually feel like that's about the right level of simple - is the goal to make Simple Wikipedia accessible to everyone with a basic command of English (i.e. first-year student) or a basic intelligence level (i.e. 8-year-old child)? If it's the former, it can be seen as too condescending, if it's the latter, it can be seen as not basic enough. Every time I read an article on there I feel like the balance is not very clearly defined.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby ConMan » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:31 am UTC

niteice wrote:
lcpwbxjilslhmrcyliswsnoajvtoov wrote:Uh-oh...

Simple Wikipedia: Quantum mechanics
"The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand."
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

Somebody needs to fix that right away!


I actually feel like that's about the right level of simple - is the goal to make Simple Wikipedia accessible to everyone with a basic command of English (i.e. first-year student) or a basic intelligence level (i.e. 8-year-old child)? If it's the former, it can be seen as too condescending, if it's the latter, it can be seen as not basic enough. Every time I read an article on there I feel like the balance is not very clearly defined.


Technically, it's meant to be aimed at someone for whom English is not their first language - in other words, the concepts may be complicated but the text needs to be pitched at someone with a limited vocabulary.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Rentsy » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:03 am UTC

I had a ton of fun writing articles. I wrote the Tevatron article, and really like it.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby frr » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:35 am UTC

I agree with the alt text.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby ohki » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:37 am UTC

I liked this comic because it was funny. It was funny because one person asks a complicated question. Then the other man says a simple answer. This is not what you expect.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Nemphael » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:39 am UTC

Brute-force and lots of information is better, eh? Just pour in more if the first dozens of line don't stick. Also, I should try this, or something - I'm helping/tutoring mathematics to a guy (For moneh >3).

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby meshula » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:47 am UTC

Oh, the irony! Aside from the punishment for thoughtcrime, it sounds like Winston Smith works for simple.wikipedia.org! Here's the entry on Orwell's novel, 1984:

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a novel written by George Orwell in 1948. The main character is Winston Smith, who lives in Oceania, under the rule of The Party and Big Brother. He becomes friends with the character O'Brien. He also falls in love with Julia, who hates Big Brother and The Party.

Winston's job is to change or rectify printed news stories and articles. No one in Oceania can look at the old changes. They are not allowed to even think about them again, or else they will be in big trouble. This is calledthoughtcrime. Thoughtcrime is punished by death. Another thing they are trying to do is cut all the hard words out of the English language. They are changing it to make it more simple so that people will not be too clever or think too much. They are not allowed to have families. Other people who live on the outside of the system have more freedoms. They are called proles. There is an endless war going on with another nation, Eurasia. In other parts of the world, large wars are being fought to keep the people busy. The sides in the wars sometimes change. When this happens, they pretend there was no change and that the sides were always the same. This means that all the articles will have to be changed by people like Winston who are not supposed to think about what they are doing. When news is rectified, the old copies are destroyed.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby ThemePark » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:47 am UTC

Completely unrelated to today's comic, but you know xkcd is awesome, when your teacher uses it for his lesson. ^^
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Whyareall » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:53 am UTC

Rentsy wrote:I had a ton of fun writing articles. I wrote the Tevatron article, and really like it.


*Records hits on Tevatron on SEW for the next few days*
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby inhumandecency » Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:18 am UTC

megachad wrote:Great comic, but that made me realize that I am unable to read an article from that Simple English Wikipedia normally. I read it really slow, analyzing every single word. Either I'm just tired, or it's some kind of evil force emanating from the wiki.


It's possible that writing in standard and academic English produces a greater feeling of fluency because of its excess verbiage. You can infer some parts of sentences from context, and the presence of words that tend to go together means you're already primed to recognize some of the words when you see them. In Simple English, every word carries a heavy informational load, and words that modify it or just make it sound better get cut out. It might require more processing time because each word forces your brain to do what would normally be several words worth of work. In other words, Simple English is higher entropy than standard English.

I hypothesize that this difference will be strongest for highly skilled readers and intellectual people -- you have to do a lot of reading throughout your life to get those associative benefits in the first place. The people Simple English is targeted at get the benefit of accessible vocabulary and structure, and won't experience the same slowdown.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:51 am UTC

So reading the simple version makes you state the obvious? >_>
(Also there needs to be a Simple Japanese wiki. :p)
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Torn Apart By Dingos » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:16 am UTC

I wanted to agree with the math professors thing, but after reading the real number article, I can't. It's wrong or misleading in every paragraph. Also funny are http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_algebra and http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity .

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby rnew » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:27 am UTC

I tend not to comment on the comics, because I don't understand half of the math-y ones.

But finally, a comic which enlightens me to a website where i understand all I did not before!
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:37 am UTC

Torn Apart By Dingos wrote:I wanted to agree with the math professors thing, but after reading the real number article, I can't. It's wrong or misleading in every paragraph. Also funny are http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_algebra and http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity .

Then fix them!
I mean it.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Davus » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:41 am UTC

Wow, I had no idea about simple.wikipedia.org's existence either. I wonder if it'll ever get trolled or vandalized in a humorous way.

Hmm, now as I read articles it feels like they're being condescending toward me.
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