Debate:Science namespace

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This has been talked about in a few places recently (such as here, here and here). The proposal is to start a new namespace at RationalWiki for science-related articles. Some users have suggested that articles in the science portal wouldn't necessarily have to fit in with the missions directly: they could just be educational or general articles on scientific subjects.

Most recent thread on this[edit]

Pasted from User talk:ConservapediaUndergroundResistor

It's certainly an idea I could get behind. While it's true that there is no way we can or would even want to compete with WP on depth and breath, you have to remember that Wikipedia is Wikipedia. A lot of its science articles suffer badly from it's writing style. On RW, we're safe to drift into informality, slightly bizarre explanations and tying things together in ways that WP just can't because of what it is. While it's data is very extensive (it's chemical data is about as reliable as the Sigma-Alrich catalogue) its ability to explain things concisely and clearly sometimes suffers when it's presented to a non-expert audience. ArmondikoVmoral 12:24, 16 December 2008 (EST)

Well, I'm in favour. So how do we go about properly bringing this 'fore the mob? --Kels 12:49, 16 December 2008 (EST)
You find the big badass power-mad ones that make lots of edits, make sure they're out of town and unilaterally go ahead without any approval :P ArmondikoVmoral 08:02, 17 December 2008 (EST)
Boo! I am still in town. - User \scriptstyle2\int_{-1}^{1}\sqrt{1-x^{2}}dx 17:59, 22 December 2008 (EST)
I have suggested previously that a science namespace would be the solution for this.--Bobbing up 14:30, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Think that only TMT can add a new namespace & I think he's afk 'til new year. 14:34, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Science articles are already linked via category - they could all be moved to a distinct namespace, but I don't think it's essential to do so. I also think that, by & large, they should be fairly close to the missions. Felidae is a bit of an anomaly, but obviously it's a labour of love, & there shouldn't be any more talk of deleting it or confing in to funspace. But I'm still not convinced that we should be building lots of equivalent articles to deal with every other creature classification or every application of science in as much depth. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:48, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Is someone having a laff? The only pussy that get's rusty is ... Na, I said too much already.  Lily Ta, wack! 14:55, 22 December 2008 (EST)
At some level the entirety of science has some relationship with pseudo-science - if only as an example of what science is or is not. Any element of science could theoretically be referenced by a pseudo-science article. But if we justify science articles in that way it would have the effect of introducing the whole of science into mainspace - something which would be well beyond our mission. However given that we (a) have people who want to write explicitly about science and (b) will frequently want to reference science in our pseudo-science articles, a science namespace would be a good idea.--Bobbing up 15:45, 22 December 2008 (EST)
To my way of thinking, it would be a lot like the "Fun" namespace. It's not stuff that's necessary to the Mission, but just stuff that people like writing for a laugh. We've got a lot of people who just plain like science, even people like me who are a long way from experts. So for folks like that, having a namespace to do what they enjoy strikes me as just fine. It's not like it'd use up all the space on the wiki or anything, and it'd make a number of people happy. --Kels 16:00, 22 December 2008 (EST)
OK, you've convinced me. But what about all those science articles that are mission-related (evolution, etc.) - would they also go into the science portal or stay in mainspace? wassaiLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 16:10, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Can someone copy the relevant chunks of this to a new place to discuss it, like maybe a debate page or something? And announce it on the intercom? ħumanUser talk:Human 16:27, 22 December 2008 (EST)


Further Discussion[edit]

As far as I'm concerned, we shouldn't aim to become encyclopedic in our coverage of sciences, or compete with WP, but I don't have a problem with creating a namespace for science subjects people here want to write about. I'm a bit concerned about how we would organise it. For example, would existing science related articles which are mission-related (e.g. theory of evolution) go into it, or just off-mission ones (e.g. felidae)? What about pseudoscience-related content? Should it go in science space, mainspace or should we also create a pseudoscience namespace? wassaiLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 17:44, 22 December 2008 (EST)

I'd say that all pseudoscience would be mainspace. Articles like Quark, Neutron and Proton are science. Some would fall between but I'd say that evolution would be mainspace.--Bobbing up 18:01, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Agreed. Stuff like Evolution would stay where they are, but say if someone wanted to do stuff on chemical interactions, or specific evolutionary histories of stuff like the whale or horse, then they'd go in Science. --Kels 18:02, 22 December 2008 (EST)
I'm very much of teh same opinion as Kels here, particularly the comment in the above section; people just plain like it. For any budding scientists in the group that would like to communicate their expertise, area of research etc. that just can't muscle in on the sheer amount of content that WP already has. And I've already pointed out that WP, while comprehensive, doesn't exactly explain some stuff in an easy to understand manner. What we'd essentially be doing is pop science (hopefully accurate pop science though). That would certainly NOT conflict or compete with Wikipedia. ArmondikoVmoral 19:08, 22 December 2008 (EST)
I'm still on the fence as far as which way I would "vote", but one problem (or not?) is that when stuff is in its own name space, it won't come up as a "random page". Is that part of the goal? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:42, 22 December 2008 (EST)
Personally, I don't care too much, but I probably wouldn't me a major author there anyhow. But to follow up on Armond's comment, I think one thing we have going for us that WP doesn't is style and the ability to take a stand. We don't have to give lip service to "the other side" or fringe views. We can be snarky. We can be entertaining, rather than exhaustive. That's where we'd avoid duplicating WP's efforts to good effect, I think. --Kels 20:23, 22 December 2008 (EST)

I'd like to propose that our "mission" for this namespace/category should be to do correctly what CP fails at. That is, be a resource for students at the junior-high-school and high-school level. This gets us out from under the shadow of WP, since their mission is to be truly encyclopedic. As a more concrete example, the internet could benefit from a place where a student could read about complex numbers without dealing with Foxtrot's babbling about how awful they are, or his banhammering of people who try to set the story straight. I'm willing to do some of the heavy lifting, and I know there are people here who are refugees from the CP cesspit.

This should be "pure science" (and math), kept separate from the issues of controversies about evolution etc. I think a category would be better than a namespace, so it's really just a matter of people writing stuff.

Gauss 19:57, 22 December 2008 (EST)

Why do we have to only use pop science? It's not as if we're writing articles on, say, Picasso. And I'd like to see wikipedia use the same brand of humor that the felidae article has. --"ConservapediaUndergroundResistorcat! 20:22, 22 December 2008 (EST)

One argument I haven't really seen[edit]

Why do we actually need a namespace for this? Put another way, is there anything wrong with us writing articles describing scientific topics, in our unique voice of course, in the mainspace? Put a third way, is there a problem that this new namespace is intended to solve? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:41, 22 December 2008 (EST)

It was pointed out above that putting it in a separate namespace would make the articles not come up on "random page". I think that's a good argument for making it just a category. Gauss 01:10, 23 December 2008 (EST)

I like the idea in principle but am unclear on the implementation, why a separate namespace again? Why not just open up our standards a bit an be more encouraging/receptive of general science articles? Put up a few good indexes and categories and voila? tmtoulouse 00:45, 11 January 2009 (EST)

Ah, if it'd remove it from the random page function, then it might be a bad idea (you're slowly turning me against it). I think the idea behind the namespace thing is that it just organises it better, as most of the articles would be pretty much off mission. ArmondikoVmoral 09:05, 11 January 2009 (EST)
It may certainly be possible to alter the random page function to include other namespaces. I am inclined to want to support the idea but am still unclear why a namespace. I think what we do need to do is expand our mission to include general science articles and related references, clarify that we are looking for those as well. Flesh out how they should be written, a "how to write science for rationalwiki" type article. Then maybe an index page/portal, a good template, and the right categories and I think we get everything we need without the addition of another namespace. I am not opposed to the namespace, just not sure what it gives us that the above does not. tmtoulouse 12:16, 11 January 2009 (EST)
I agree that opening up the mission would have the same effect. I was under the impression that we wanted to avoid mission creep which could result in our becoming simply a cut down version of WP. But yes, if we're happy with expanding the mission statements then I'd have no objection. The thing is that at the moment, to my reading of the mission statements, they are explicitly excluded (or at least not included). Many people want to write about them and they have relevance to what we do - or apparently are trying to do. So either or would be fine by me. --Bobbing up 17:01, 11 January 2009 (EST)

Same idea, different name[edit]

I had a suggestion when CUR wanted to broaden a mission to cover his biggy kitty cat article how about a reference namespace. We could have a large collection of short, sharp, well written and well referenced articles explaining a wide range of scientific facts, but also expand it to cover non-science facts. It would be better if we could give people information without them having to go off site for definitions or background information. (Also we can manipulate it for SEO ala  K e n  D o l l ). - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 01:55, 11 January 2009 (EST)

I think we need to decide something on this. Since the last time we discussed it, we've had a bunch of mathematics articles copy-pasted from CP, none of which directly relate to our missions. If we're hosting non-mission science/math stuff, as now seems to be the case, we should draw some sort of boundaries about what we do & don't want & where we put it. I think a separate namespace might be a good idea. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:18, 11 January 2009 (EST)
It is because of the mathematics articles I want to make the title broader than science. Just Info would do. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:47, 11 January 2009 (EST)
I had a think about this regarding your idea on the broader namespace and how to avoid a too broad a space blurring with the mainspace (I don't think we need to be limited to the use of namespaces like other wikis, we could use them as broad categories and have a full namespace dedicated to the pseudo-sciences too, perhaps). The science/reference section could have history, science, maths, equations and general reference material while the mainspace would contain people, movements, events (historical and current/recurring), ideologies, mythologies, current affairs and pseudo-sciences. These mainspace things can referrence the other space, which is purely for fact rather than comment. Now, I think the only reason to have the namespace is to motiviate people to fill it. If we just keep it as mainspace, editors may not be as inclinded to contribute (my hypothesis anyway). So I think that such motivation is the real problem; it's clear that we want the science and refference articles, but how we organise them well and encourage people to contribute to them is the real issue. ArmondikoVmoral 08:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)

If we go ahead with this...[edit]

I am voting Nay until someone can give a definition of mainspace (or on mission) science article and those which are not. The current proposal doesn't define what should and shouldn't be in the mainspace. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 21:58, 12 January 2009 (EST)

Call to question[edit]

It looks like many points have been made. Shall we simply call to question then, or does more debate need to occur?

Yea[edit]

If voting, I vote Yea. Omniwombat 17:43, 10 January 2009 (EST) Update I don't much care how things are classified as long as general ignorance-fighting-but-not-necessarily-mission-fulfilling articles have a home. In this matter my opinions remain with the Weasel and the Radioactive African.
That'll be "Abstain" then? Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 22:25, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Nah. My vote remains the same, but thanks for asking. Omniwombat 22:29, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Yea For the reasons given in the debate above. — Unsigned, by: Bob M / talk / contribs
Yea --"ConservapediaUndergroundResistoris Fall Sideways 12:11, 11 January 2009 (EST)
Yea with addendum - I support a new name space but I am not convinced we should limit it to science fact maybe something a little broader. \pi 19:50, 11 January 2009 (EST)
Yea. I don't see why more content is a problem. I'm also concerned about this project continuing if we don't start coming up with more ways to go beyond Conservapedia. Sterilerationalize 09:24, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Yea. I've given reasons in various places, no particular secret. --Kels 21:19, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Iss! (Devonian for yes, zur) Totnesmartin 13:54, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Nay[edit]

I vote Nay. It seems pointless. But thanks for moving the discussion here, etc. Any decent science article should be fine in the mainspace. It shows we know what we are talking about. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:04, 10 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. (Mainly because it'll take it off the Random page button. If it didn't, then I'd be Aye.)fröhlich "gay" and "happy" 22:13, 10 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. Namespaces should be about "meta-data"—debate/essay/template/user/etc., not about the subject matter. Gauss 01:46, 11 January 2009 (EST)
Nay Unless someone can come up with a definition of what is a general science articles and what is a mission science article the whole scheme would be unworkable. \pi 21:55, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. Pinto's5150 Talk 19:55, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. It seems like a science category would suffice. I like the idea of succinct, snappy, and well-sourced science explanations, though. CorryTobias was a never nude, which is exactly what it sounds like. 21:20, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Nay Where would some of our articles like the flood go or if one was written on (say) the age of the universe? Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 22:20, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Neigh I'm with human on this one, I don't see the point. Silver Sloth 05:33, 13 January 2009 (EST)
<>Yes, for the random-page and meta-data points made above. --SpinyNorman 09:50, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. If you just want to write about science do it in your userspace.

Phantom Hoover 11:56, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Nay. Ditto to what "Human" and "Gauss" said. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 12:18, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. Pointless, I think. DogP 20:44, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Nay. Pointless.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 22:46, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Abstain[edit]

Abstain - I'm indifferent as to whether it's dealt with as a separate namespace, but I think we should come to some agreement about the non-mission science / math articles currently in mainspace, whether it's a new namespace or an expanded mission. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:45, 11 January 2009 (EST)
Abtstain — I hold the same opinions as Weaseloid in this matter. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 22:02, 12 January 2009 (EST)
Abtstain - I think the default is SCIENCE...maybe we shuld oughta have a "DEBUNK" NS to separate the usual sceincy stuff from the sciency stuff that's meant as a counter to pseudosceincy found elsewheres? CЯacke® 13:50, 13 January 2009 (EST)

Results[edit]

Yea: 7 6 Nay: 13 Abstain: 3

The nay's clearly have it. What happens now? Omniwombat 01:40, 14 January 2009 (EST)

<sarcasm>Well if it is like the Australian Republic debate, we just keep demanding new elections until one finally goes towards changing it.</sarcasm> Or alternatively we could just give up on the idea and keep writing articles. If there is a pressing need for another namespace then we can reopen the date otherwise we can call this dead. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 02:59, 14 January 2009 (EST)
there's also the EU referendum tactic that's quite similar: if at first they say no, wait a bit and ask again; repeat from ":" until they say yes. Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 03:06, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Only a fraction of votes have been cast. We should wait until we have a few more. Also, let's actually send a major site wide alert. Anyone with Town Crier powers could do this. --"ConservapediaUndergroundResistoris Fall Sideways 13:51, 14 January 2009 (EST)
There really isn't much point. The people interested have already voted and we probably will see a similar ratio split with more people any way. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 17:33, 14 January 2009 (EST)
By the way, CUR, "town crier" doesn't actually do anything. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:06, 14 January 2009 (EST)

Counter proposal[edit]

Expand our mission statement to include more general science/reference articles. Create a portal/index of the pages, and cat them accordingly. Keep it all in the mainspace. What is wrong with this idea? Why the separate namespace? tmtoulouse 17:59, 13 January 2009 (EST)

You know, that was actually my idea. I never once really advocated the science namespace. I just wanted to write science articles. --"ConservapediaUndergroundResistoris Fall Sideways 19:05, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Because then we begin to look like an encyclopedia and the internet is full of idiots that think they can write an encyclopaedia. A purely science encyclopaedia? How can we ever match this? That shit is hard core. I think if we wander of mission we begin to move into other people's territory and we will just look like a pale imitation. Why can't we have 101 namespaces? It would make us unique. - User \scriptstyle h/2\hbar 19:10, 13 January 2009 (EST)

A less productive part of this thread has been shifted to the Saloon bar.

Well. It's a question of audience, really. Scholarpedia is clearly of a very high academic standard that we neither can nor should attempt to reach, but does it really address the "average person"? I sort of doubt it. If we are going to do this, we should probably find in niche somewhere between Scholarpedia and Wikipedia - communicating science topics in an accessible and understandable way, but without Wikipedia's NPOV. That could perhaps be a useful complement to our other mission objectives. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:27, 13 January 2009 (EST)
My thoughts exactly. I think RW can be much more intriguing than Wikipedia, which means people are more likely not to zone out. --"ConservapediaUndergroundResistoris Fall Sideways 19:28, 13 January 2009 (EST)
Given that (a) we are not going to have a science namespace and (b) people are going to write science articles - the only solution would seem to be to enlarge the mission.--Bobbing up 03:30, 14 January 2009 (EST)
To what? Toast s.png (with butter!) talk to Toast 03:31, 14 January 2009 (EST)
To explicitly include science articles.--Bobbing up 04:30, 14 January 2009 (EST)
I agree. If we include "/Counter|Fight|Dispel|Challenge/ ignorance." as a fourth mission point, that would allow for general science articles while being aligned with the previous three. ʇɐqɯoʍıuɯO Wombats come from Austrailia, see?Leave a message at the beep. 10:42, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Even though it isn't explicitly mentioned in the current mission, I sort of thought some science/history/"scholarly" articles were de facto grandfathered into it. If you're writing articles about why it's ridiculous to think that vaccines are bad, it's probably useful to have "base" articles about vaccines, viruses, infectious disease, epidemics, and of course HELL!!!! so you're not sending people to WP for every single term you use. If the mission is expanded I think it'd be nice to have some sort of requirement that science articles be at least tangentially related to debunking something, unless we don't mind having articles on, say, the finer points of Yang-Mills theory.--Bayes 11:56, 14 January 2009 (EST)

(unindent)Currently a lot of science articles DO direct to wikipedia at the top. They say "outline only", but we can change that template to say "This is Rational Wiki's take on the subject matter, for a more comprehensive view, Wikipedia may help" rather than say "this is an outline" which makes the articles look incomplete and lazy. It's good to credit and direct to Wikipedia because regardless of what some people think, it is a good resource (it just shouldn't be the only resource). Do we really need to expand the official mission to be able to do this though? ArmondikoVmoral 12:04, 14 January 2009 (EST)

  • It is not our mission to compete with WP. WP is a reference encyclopedia with a sophistication level going all the way up to serious professional scientists. For example, they really do have an article on Stone-Cech compactification, and rightly so.
  • It is not our mission to compete with Scholarpedia, for the same reason, but even more so.
  • It is our mission to promote science understanding, and to be a reference source at the high-school and informed layperson level. Readers that are well-informed will be in a better position to understand the issues arising in evolution, medicine, geology, etc.
Accordingly, I think the fourth point of our expanded mission statement should be something along the lines of
"In furtherance of the above goals, and to promote understanding of science, RationalWiki has articles on basic science and mathematics. These are generally at the level of high-school students and educated laypeople."
(And, by coincidence, I was just over at scholarpedia reading about Yang-Mills theory. No, we shouldn't have an article attempting to explain it.)
Gauss 12:11, 14 January 2009 (EST)
Personally, I think many - even most - science articles would be implicitly covered under the current mission statement. As long as you can find one nut who denies something on the topic, we might as well have an article on it. YEC alone denies virtually every aspect of biology and physics in some way, and probably chemistry as well. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:24, 14 January 2009 (EST)
"one nut who denies something on the topic" - does it have to be a nut? Nikola Tesla never accepted the existence of the free electron, despite his inventions depending on it to function (he thought electricity was a fluid). Einstein couldn't accept quantum theory's "spooky action at a distance". Richard Owen, creator of the word "dinosaur", was later an opponent of evolution. None of those guys were nuts. What I'm asking is, who is a nut and who isn't? David Icke fans are obviously nuts, but what about (eg) GM food haters? Where's the borderline? Totnesmartin 07:05, 15 January 2009 (EST)
We're all nuts. All those guys were nuts. So were Watson, Crick, and Russell. ħumanUser talk:Human 14:04, 15 January 2009 (EST)
So we need to find a (non-parodist) nut who denies, for example, Atomic mass unit, and the existence of CERN - I suppose the the nuttiness around the Large Hadron Collider could be explored but it isn't. Presumably we can find a hordes of people who deny the existence of Force, Matter and Photons. They may exist - but they are certainly conspicuous by their absence in our stubs.--Bobbing up 16:37, 15 January 2009 (EST)
Surely Gene Ray could be our all-purpose denier of everything scientific, mathematical, historic, and goatable? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:00, 15 January 2009 (EST)

As a compromise of the various ideas on this page, and per Huw's own suggestion above, I added a note to the "namespaces" section of the revamped community guidelines regarding the mainspace including articles on general science and math. I feel this compromise adequately addresses numerous concerns on the matter: it allows us to continue hosting general science articles, and, while it does not explicitly expand our mission goals, it still acknowledges such articles as legitimate under our current mission goals. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:00, 16 January 2009 (EST)