Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Climate Change Gets Nasty

Since contributing to Wiki’s articles on global warming and scientific opinion on climate change, I’ve had run-ins with some…savory characters in the wiki world. At the top of the list are William M. Connolley and Vsmith, both of whom are fans of reverting articles they don’t like.

Reverting is the option that basically changes any edit job to a previous version. Its use is to easily change vandalism. Some punk jumps onto an article and changes all the information to something completely false and you can quickly undo the damage.

Unfortunately, reverting is also a favored tactic of closed-minded people because it doesn’t even require you to consider what’s been added. A lot of people who don’t appreciate new ideas use it as if it was heroin. They often justify it by simply claiming it’s wrong, though the parts they delete are often others’ take on controversial topics.

For example, I added a political section to the “Scientific opinion on climate change.” It basically explained how politicized science can be hijacked by various groups and mutated into pseudo-science or even fraud. Given the politics of global warming and the fact that some people argue this is happening (most famously Michael Crichton and John Stossel), it seemed like the right thing to do.

Vsmith reverted the article, calling it “sensationalist” and “weasel-worded.” In the discussion section, he claimed it didn’t add anything new and attacked the analogy I used without offering any substantive explanation. He also called it mere conspiracy, which isn’t really accurate. (In the addition I said some people think it’s a conspiracy while other believe it’s more of a collective action problem.)

So I made some alterations (he had a few good points, like sometimes I was vague). I also added sources. In the edit heading I said “Made some requested changes, please discuss before reverting.” And hour and a half later Vsmith reverted anyway saying, “revert - don't need the political conspiracy theory.” In the discussion page, he attacked me because my main source was a novel (irrelevant for two reasons: it wasn’t my main source and the parts I used were fact). Connolley joined Vsmith, saying I should put the stuff in the article called “global warming controversy.”

This is a favored tactic of Connolley. He dumps ideas he doesn’t like and suggests people put them in different articles, assuming a front of neutrality. Thus it allows him to condense the opposing side to a mere link while he rambles on and on about his point of view, which also crowds out different opinions; Connolley also likes reverting on the basis the article is too large.

And he’s been hitting the revert button a lot on scientific opinion article. Here’s a little conversation Connolley had with a user called Cortonin after Cortonin tried to discuss the creation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Cortonin: RV to Marco Krohn version, includes description of IPCC formation. [RV is short for reverting.]
Connolley: Try alternaitve wording focussing on what they are rather then who chose them
Cortonin: Lets merge these two.
Connolley: No lets not
Cortonin: RV. Merging as compromise.
Connolley: Rv'ing Cortonins fake compromise
Cortonin: Then lets return to the more accurate one which comes from the reference, if you don't like the compromise version.
Connolley: Rv: your version is inaccurate. See talk.

The talk gets pretty nasty, mostly because Connolley doesn’t like the idea of including information about the politics of the IPCC and claims Cortonin is trying to discredit the organization. In Talk, Connolley says:

Well, you're finding the IPCC section quite controversial. Why not - since you really don't mind whether you do IPCC, or AMS, or whatever first - go on and do a less controversial one? But of course, thats laughable. We all know that in fact you care nothing for the others. And your version of the IPCC author seclection is wrong.

You know the funny this is that according to Wikipedia,

Sometimes, though, it is better to write a third version that takes the best bits of the other two, and combines them to get the best of both worlds. Note that reverts are not appropriate if a newer version is no better than the older version. You should save reverts for cases where the new version is actively worse. Regardless, we strongly recommend against heated revert wars.

Now if only some people would read it…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate these guys... they are still doing it now, Vsmith and others, the fans of reverting articles they don’t like.