User:Edwin of Northumbria

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    I'm British (English with a bit of Scots thrown in for good measure) and reasonably fluent in French.

    I read Mathematics as an undergraduate and have a masters degree in Computer science. I also have an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology.

    At postgraduate level I conducted research in the psychology of reasoning, sociobiology, and human behavioural ecology.

    Thoughts on thoughts[edit]

    Please find below some musings on the following paragraph, extracted from an essay on another user's personal page.

    "Also, I love the lazy folk who leave nasty messages when de-prodding, without taking the time to improve the article. Normally this is after the article has been tagged for improvement for over a month, with zero improvements being done on it. These are the folks who are not here to build an encyclopedia, but rather enjoy maintaining a collection of c**p." (slang redacted)

    I note two points to begin with. Firstly, that this could be read sarcastically. Secondly, that there is no evidence to support the fact the people referred to were "happy" about anything (citation needed, one might say).

    Given that, in the real world, many people have competing demands on their time (such as paid work, looking after children, caring for sick or elderly relatives etc.) and editing Wikipedia articles may be low down their priority list, it is quite possible that they react badly to having their work criticised, especially if they thought they'd done a good job to begin with, and with good intent. It is also the case that accessing good reference material often costs money, and if people can't afford to do what is being asked of them, it could be an issue of particular sensitivity. It goes without saying that the very people with time on their hands, and possibly with limited opportunities to engage in activities outside the home, are more likely to be unemployed, sick, or elderly, and with very limited budgets.

    There will people with dealing with health issues, in particular, for whom one month seems like a very short space of time in which to do anything. Indeed, far from being "lazy", it could be that when someone is suddenly given a deadline in which to salvage, as they see it, a previous investment in terms of time or money, it could be their very sense of responsibility to do a good job which puts them under pressure they could well do without.

    It is also important to note the entirely impersonal nature of the process involved in placing flags on articles. Even if directed towards relevant information, this is automatic, and people usually respond better to most things in life if a little time is taken to address them personally.

    I wonder how often this is actually done? How often do editors think to check whether someone has recently been engaged in editing a page, or done a lot of work on it in the past and is still an active editor, then leave them a note explaining why exactly an article fails to meet certain criteria? Well, perhaps people don't have time to do this. That's fine, providing one doesn't complain about the results. Well, I say, that's fine, but actually I think a little more thought should be put into things – even, perhaps, to the extent of making it an obligation to do so. Now any editor reading this and recoiling at this suggestion, because it seems like a lot of extra work. Well, now you see what I've been talking about, perhaps.

    And just as one final point, it is sometimes a good idea to explain to people why a particular rule applies to the article in question, and bear in mind that in some situations, whether the rules have been satisfied or not is very much a matter of opinion. Say, for example, if an article needs more citations are needed. At what point is this condition satisfied? Is it one, two, three, four? What weight is given to different sources? etc. The requirement is very non-specific. Also, if an article relies too much, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. In historical research, for example, primary sources are pretty much the gold standard (unless one is considering a subject from a historiographical perspective). In their absence, myths and legends prevail – a very good example being that of Colditz Castle (see MacIntyre, Ben, 9 September 2016, "Colditz was far more complex than its myth", The Times, London).