User talk:Common Man

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IMO, it might be a good idea to contact Bob Burton or one of the other PR Watch/SW principals before creating an endless number of categories and mucking about eliminating category links created by others ... Artificial Intelligence 17:56, 4 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Did that. Unfortunately, I haven't received a reply yet. Pending the reply, I'm refraining from completing my changes as planned. My apologies for any inconveniences caused by the untied loose ends. Common Man 01:45, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Did I miss something? Nothing in my email and last post to my pers page was from Hugh. Been busy catching up on the backlog after a few days away. I noticed a few of your changes were reverted but I'll go have a look through what you were doing. I'm no expert on the best way of organising categories - think Sheldon and Neoconned are a bit more advanced with it than I. But after I've had alook at what you were doing I'll see if I have any thoughts. cheers --Bob Burton 03:51, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Just a quick further post before I have to go for a bit -- I agree there is plenty of work to be done on categories so thanks for taking up the slack. I don't have any problem with the categories you have been adding - nor it seems does anyone else.

The issue seems to be more where categories have been deleted. I don't know for sure but it seems that the issue comes down to how narrow or broad a category is taken as and whether more is better (even if there is overlap) or not. Obiously other users (myself included) are in the latter category and yourself more towards the former.

Obviously we need to develop some common understanding about how best to develop and apply categories. It seems the safest interim appraoch would be to:

a)add files to existing categories where appropriate; (for example there are plenty of companies and individuals in the PR firms and PR professionals list that haven't yet been added into the relevant categories);

b)create new categories where they are obvious;

c)flag on the talk page where you think a category may have been superseded or warrant removing and test for agreement. (I'm thinking that flagging before doing it may cuase least hassle all round and help crystallise the best approach to applying categories). To date most of the additions to categories have been done by Neoconned, AI, Maynard, Sheldon and myself since the software upgrade a few months back all of whom are pretty regularly checking in on changes so flagging a proposed deletion I don't think is going to delay things much.

How's that sound as a starter? It allows you to get on with additions, others to be consulted ahead of changes they potentially may view as unwarranted and rollback and fostering a discussion on the best approach to using categories.

Others may have some further thoughts on this too - hopefully in the next day. --Bob Burton 04:37, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

i'll toss 2 cents

common man, there may be reasons why users have categorised things in a fashion not easily understood, that has to do with a main purpose of the site, which is to discover, expose and define hidden underlying relationships between organisations and individuals. Users who placed categories on pages may have been working towards this goal by using and offering pointers via categories, and have seen connections that other do not see.

If someone is using these categories as a sort of navigational compass or an anchor, and suddenly find an expected reference missing, it is a bit disquieting, and on SourceWatch may draw a bit of heavy fire. Don't take it personally.

other than that, you seem to move quickly through many pages, which causes ripples in the usual patterns of the log files and RSS feed that many of us use as reference. this is a site that uses wiki software, it is not wikipedia. take it easy, we're actually pretty easy to get along with in the end.

cheers --Hugh Manatee 07:58, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Adding to Hugh's "2 cents": Totally agree that more ways for others to access SW is the best, but that is not aided by deleting categories to guide others. For example, the category Iraq is broad, but connects articles which may not be so obvious to casual users. A casual user can use the Iraq category link to discover other related but not-so-obvious articles. Deleting the Iraq category from the articles which you did cut off linkage. It's presence did not deter from or interfere with the articles upon which it appeared, therefore, I reverted those 2 or 3 edits and will reinstate the Iraq category where appropriate. Artificial Intelligence 12:03, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

my 2 pennies

Dear Common Man, I think Hugh put it very well: "this is a site that uses wiki software, it is not wikipedia". As a general point, wouldn't it be more appropriate for you to contribute some material to SourceWatch before you start trying to reorganize all the categories? --Neoconned 10:12, 7 Jun 2005 (EDT)


Thank you for all your responses. Let me try to sort out the issues:


Categories make the site easier to use and edit by providing an adaptable frame of reference. They give me a chance to contribute efficiently because they cater to my strengths.

I'm not sure how many people on SW really see a need for categorization work. Neoconned seems to regard it as taking a liberty rather than a valuable contribution. If his view is representative then I would rather not invest any more time.

Conversely, if people agree that we need more category work then I'll be happy to help. This could be based either on

  • established standards, such as Wikipedia's, or
  • new standards that we could work out together on a dedicated page.


I'm not familiar with RSS, so forgive me if my 2 cents are off the mark: The problem seems to be independent of categories per se: You could get the same ripples if someone disambiguated a series of links. If RSS reacts oversensitive to such changes then it looks like a problem with RSS or the way it is used here. This, too, may be better discussed on a dedicated page.

SW culture

Much as I support the purpose of this site (see e.g. my discussion on Wikipedia Talk:Center for Consumer Freedom), I'm not convinced that I fit in its culture. Before further involvement, I would like to ask my future co-editors to clarify the following 3 questions:

Requirement to ask for approval

In the discussion so far, it has not become clear if SW culture

SW is not Wikipedia

This statement occurs repeatedly in the discussion. However, the assumption that Wikipedia policies apply is not something I invented – it is explicitly laid out in SourceWatch:Policy. Anyone who sees significant differences is encouraged to edit that page and fill out the red link from SourceWatch:Contributing to Differences between SourceWatch and Wikipedia.

Value of respect, openness and constructive feedback

I prefer to work in an environment that practices respect, openness and constructive feedback. That was unfortunately amiss in the current case (the cause for this discussion):

After some hours of good work for SW (97% undisputed), I received a message (on top of this page). To my surprise, this was not the sort of encouraging welcome message I got on Wikipedia. Rather, it is discouraging and contains emotive language such as "endless" and "mucking about". This is unconstructive since it does not say specifically what is wrong, other than the amount of edits. I never have been censured like this in several hundreds of edits in Wikipedia.

At the same time, the user reverted some of my edits, ignoring my explanations in the summaries, and without providing any explanations himself. I find this disrespectful and not helpful for creating a web site together.

Please clarify if this style of interaction is consistent with SW culture.


Thanks for reading this. Common Man 23:22, 12 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Ran out of time but thought I'd add this to remind others that you have requested comments re policy on Categories. --Bob Burton 06:39, 15 Jun 2005 (EDT)

categorisation policy

Dear Common Man,

First, I've restored my previous comment, which for some reason you deleted.

>> I'm not sure how many people on SW really see a need for categorization work.
>> Neoconned seems to regard it as taking a liberty rather than a valuable contribution.

Wrong. I think categorisation work when performed carefully and intelligently is very valuable. But crashing into the site, and reorganising the categories on a massive scale within an extremely short space of time is not so valuable. How many of the articles that you recategorised did you actually read? And some of the comments you attached to your categorisation work had a rather unhelpful tone: "Iraq is a country, not a war, a policy or an issue".

There's a simple difference between Wikipedia and SW which means that WP's categorisation scheme cannot possibly be suitable for SW. WP contains about 100 times as many articles as SW (has 596502/7188=83 as of June 2005). Clearly, if we adopted as fine grained a categorisation scheme as WP, which is what you appeared to be attempting, most of the categories would be empty. I think that at the current time, broad categories like "Iraq" are perfectly suitable for SW. Most SW visitors would naturally look in the category "Iraq" for articles about "Iraq". Your taxonomic quibbling here is rather beside the point. By the way, some of your recategorisations have gone unreverted because I haven't had the time or energy, rather than because I agree with them.

So my vote, for what it's worth, is this. By all means, perform categorisation work. But please contribute some original material to SourceWatch first (which in any case you've indicated you have an interest in doing). I do think this will put you in a much better position to do the categorisation work, as you will then better understand the nature of SW and its contents. And I vote to keep the categories broad, for now. --Neoconned 23:44, 15 Jun 2005 (EDT)

I apologize for the deletion, which was not my intention. This shouldn't have happened.

I feel tempted to reply to your arguments; my contributions - even some of the ones that got reverted - are very defendable. Some of your remarks make me angry. But I certainly didn't come to this site in order to quibble about edit summary wording, allowed edit scale, taxonomy, or any of the other meta-discussions I got dragged into. I came here to whole-heartedly, in a productive and mutually supportive atmosphere, contribute to a website which I feel has an important function.

Common Man 04:18, 16 Jun 2005 (EDT)

As mentioned previously I don't have a strong view one way or the other on the best approach re categories for SW.

I'd rather address the query re the apparent contradiction between the SW help guide direction "be bold" and needing to consult. Yes it seems contradictory - but perhaps not as much as might appear to be the case. "Be bold" stands to reason in encouraging newcomers to get started somewhere -- but, as wikis are a colloborative social space, there is a point at which consultation is more sensible than pressing on with an approach that is generating concern. Being bold in editing - rewriting to condense, remove duplication or ambiguity ot tighten up language or check facts is readily accepted by SW contributors. Changes can be judged against our standards of accurancy, referencing and fairness. Even in the more subjective areas of style most are happy to accept others rewrites. Perhaps this is because we all know fresh eyes can help bring clarity to a draft.

The concern over categories is obviously different. As others have noted, contributors who have created categories have done so for a range of reasons. Given the concern expressed, there's a time when being bold doesn't acheive a consensus result. Not sure if that helps you or not Common Man. Must go.--Bob Burton 07:32, 16 Jun 2005 (EDT)