|Someone is wrong on|
ASK is aimed at misrepresenting a number of fields of science, history, law, linguistics, and philosophy to conform to PJR's particular "literal" interpretation of the Bible. Rayment favors interminable discussion, which he dominates with fisking down to splitting his discussants' sentences, over substantive editing. Unsurprisingly, he will favor a creationist source over anything they can characterize as in any way antagonistic to creationism, no matter how false or unsupported the creationist source's claims are. It's difficult to know whether PJR is simply a bald-faced liar or truly believes in the positions he advocates. Nonetheless, if you like having your posts fisked in 6,000 byte walls of text and are interested in debating creationists on topics such as whether dinosaurs lived alongside human beings, whether gasses require a solid center of mass with gravity sufficient to overcome their "expansive pressure" such that stars could never form from clouds of gas and dust and therefore goddidit (seriously), and whether "atheistic evolutionists" have an absolute basis for morality like those goody-goody Christians, aSK is for you. Dozens of RationalWiki
masochists editors signed up on the site in the initial rush, after which the only RW editors that remained were a tiny handful of unlucky bastards with the degree of olfactory disability necessary to interact with PJR. As of February 2013, Rayment appears to have abandoned his brainchild.
In theory (used colloquially) the ranks from top to bottom, based on the number of rights:
- Autoconfirmed users
In practice, the hierarchy is:
- Philip J. Rayment, closely followed by
- various B-list creationists
- Everyone else (which is to say no one else, as there are pretty much no other editors)
In keeping with the Conservapedia tradition of making editing as hard as possible, one must obtain the rank of member before one can upload images, move pages, or skip the captcha. An editor can move the subpages of their userpage, which is novel. Senior members can delete pages with less than two revisions and can participate in certain votes and committees.
In a display of some reasonable foresight, the ability to delete and restore page histories belongs only to bureaucrats.
To avoid any unpleasant tinge of democracy and to avoid any unbiblical worldviews leaking in to the upper echelons, members are elected to a higher rank by a vote of their seniors rather than their peers, or by being "known to management" (colloq. nepotism.) This is a wonderful mechanism for aSoK to develop its very own cabal.
- A parodist was the first person to be blocked. Initially blocked for a day, the block was increased to infinite and then reduced to one year, presumably as policy decisions were made on the fly.
- Block log at ASK
Copyright terms at ASK have been controversial and the subject of debate. The terms originally stated that all content was the property of the site - effectively requiring editors to assign their copyrights over to ASK. After some debate, and some warnings that vague and oppressive terms would stifle the growth of the site, modifed terms were introduced - apparently in an attempt to assuage such concerns. This has not been entirely successful.
This is a major difference with projects like the Wikimedia Project, including Wikipedia, as well as many other unrelated wikis, including RationalWiki, where contributors retain the copyright to their own work, and content is released under a free license (e.g. GNU FDL and/or some Creative Commons licenses) that irrevocably allows copying and derivative works, including for commercial purposes.
This policy has significant long-term consequences. The site owner is the only person who can legally make decisions about content usage. He could for example decide to commercialize the project, turn it into a subscription site, or even shut it down completely. The community would have no means to oppose such decisions. Compare this to Wikipedia, whose content will always remain freely usable due to the irrevocable nature of the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, even if the main site should ever be shut down.
ASK later modified its policies to allow users to maintain control of their contributions, while granting ASK a license to reproduce and use the material for non-profit purposes. Anyone wishing to reproduce ASK content must seek permission from either ASK or the author(s). This is problematic for three reasons. Firstly, ASK may arbitrarily refuse to grant permission for re-use. Anyone wishing to take the route of contacting the author(s) must perform a forensic analysis of the content in order to determine which authors hold the copyright for the content in question - this can be very tedious in the case of articles with long histories. This isn't just a problem for sites external to ASK. This is also a problem for editors at ASK. In theory, an ASK editor wishing to re-use content from an existing article must seek permission from ASK or the individual copyright holders, since ASKs terms allow users to edit content without permission, but not reproduce it.
The moral of the story is that people with no professional or personal experience in intellectual property laws should not attempt to write licenses and copyright terms. Even those with the necessary experience and knowledge would require a pretty good reason to not use any of the existing content licenses in circulation. There are already plenty of well-supported licences, such as GNU and Creative Commons licences, and errors in a licence can be difficult to fix when modification could require relicensing of content from multiple copyright holders. Luckily for ASK, they only have 1,615 content articles. If they should decide to choose a more sensible license it will hopefully not take too long to contact all of their authors.
One of the first extensions added to the site was Semantic Mediawiki. Despite this, much discussion has revolved around semantics, particularly the meaning of "information", the meaning of "evidence" and even the meaning of "meaning".
 Gish gallop
PJR makes extensive use of the Gish gallop. Every comment from non-creationists is torn into its tiniest morsels beyond any semblance of meaning. These are then displayed in the
noxious pleasant green typeface of the "tq" template, and analysed to death without any attempt to answer the overall gist with PJR sometimes misrepresenting a previous interlocutor's message by selectively quoting sentences and even just a few words of a sentence out of context. In other words, the creationist isn't above quote mining some of those who criticize creationists for quote mining, all while denying creationists quote mine and that every example of a creationist quote mining presented to him so far is in fact not quote mining. The mind reels.
When it comes to what creationists call "origins" issues, the management at ASK spend most of his time criticizing, denying, misrepresenting parts of evolution, the Big Bang, and other scientific theories, rather than establishing evidence for a recent creation. The wiki overrelies on creationist sources, and in particular, CMI's creation.com; few scientific papers (or even secondary or tertiary science sources) are cited in the articles relating to science. The articles frequently rely on quote mining often of popular press articles as well, and those quote mines have no analysis of scientific evidence. The creation-evolution controversy article, in particular, confuses "arguments" with "strategies," and is filled with weasel words to put supporters in a bad light. Even when mistakes of logic or evidence are brought to the attention of the owner, Philip J. Rayment, an interminable discussion will ensue in which he will deny all charges and attempt to snow discussants with fisking and baffling sidetracks until it's difficult to discern the relevance of the final topic to which the discussion meandered to the concern originally raised.
 The end
Just as he was unable to work with pretty much everyone at Wikipedia, CreationWiki, or Conservapedia, Philip finally managed to alienate his last regular editor on aSK, a man who was tremendously productive, patient, and even-toned. It's a wonder he lasted as long as he did — Philip's increasingly spiteful responses to anyone challenging his rigid beliefs would test the patience of a saint.
The site now stands as a testament to the stark reality that the only people who paid attention to his blog can no longer stand him.
 See also
- What was going on at aSK?
- The other A Storehouse of Science (also known as "aSS")
- A Realistic Site with Evolution (AKA aRSE)
- Creationism Runs Awry-type Place (AKA CRAP)
- A similar startup venture
- The official aSK Drinking Game!
- Biblical creation on aSK
- ↑ N.B. editing is currently limited to politely agreeing with anything published by CMI, which for handy reference is included in the back of the Literalist Bible handed out at the door (your bank account will be debited).
- ↑ We kid you not.
- ↑ PJR whips out his MacQuarie dictionary.
- ↑ No one counts Liberapedia, since it is lame.
- ↑ http://www.astorehouseofknowledge.info/w/Special:ListGroupRights
- ↑ The only rights an Umpire has above a normal editor is block rights, so it would appear to be ranked below Member. However, PJR has only given this right to a subset of Senior Members, so it would appear to be a hierarchical position. It is given so that Senior Members can block users who are not vandals or spammers.
- ↑ ASK's original copyright terms
- ↑ Note that there are Creative Commons licenses that forbid commercial use and/or modification; however the license is still irrevocable; the former just restricts use of the work to non-commercial use and the latter allows free or non-commercial (depending on the licenses) distribution of verbatim copies.
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyright
- ↑ ASK Copyrights Accessed 24 November 2009
- ↑ Wikipedia has an article on license proliferation, which while more focussed on software licensing, is still applicable to the problem that the proliferation of licenses - no matter how well meant, is problematic.
- ↑ Figure accurate as of 21 August 2010.
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