User talk:WhatamIdoing/Archive 13

Active discussions


  The Random Acts of Kindness Barnstar
Just to say thank you for your kindness in creating those quote boxes. They're exactly what I was looking for, and it was very nice of you to make them. All the best, SlimVirgin (talk) 04:48, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
You're welcome I wish that I knew how to make the blockquotes re-size automatically, so it would adapt better to different display setups. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:16, 28 August 2014 (UTC)


Just to say thank you very much for the barnstar - it was a welcome surprise! Iztwoz (talk) 15:49, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

You're welcome. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:20, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

WP:ARBATC notice

  Please carefully read this information:

The Arbitration Committee has authorised discretionary sanctions to be used for pages regarding the English Wikipedia Manual of Style and article titles policy, a topic which you have edited. The Committee's decision is here.

Discretionary sanctions is a system of conduct regulation designed to minimize disruption to controversial topics. This means uninvolved administrators can impose sanctions for edits relating to the topic that do not adhere to the purpose of Wikipedia, our standards of behavior, or relevant policies. Administrators may impose sanctions such as editing restrictions, bans, or blocks. This message is to notify you sanctions are authorised for the topic you are editing. Before continuing to edit this topic, please familiarise yourself with the discretionary sanctions system. Don't hesitate to contact me or another editor if you have any questions.

This message is informational only and does not imply misconduct regarding your contributions to date.

While I share your concerns, expressed on its talk page, with the effects the wording of this template may have on newbie users, you're not one of them. It seems likely to me that this sort of thing is particularly contraindicated in WP:AT discussions, per the WP:ARBATC ArbCom decision and its followup.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:16, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

I'd be happy to have you explain how a discussion about whether or not your "serious breed research" involves WP:Published materials or solely personal experience has anything to do with WP:Article titles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:54, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Because it's part of a long string of antagonism directed from you to me, relating to animal breed article titles. I could pick a different example, if you'd prefer, like the frivolous second ANI you filed and which was rejected. The point here isn't actually to renew the dispute, it's to say "let's stop personalizing this so much before it gets worse". I'm think that a multi-party dispute resolution might be in order, between you, me, Justlettersandnumbers and Montanabw. You and I, and Montanbw and I, have historically had plenty of non-antagonistic interaction, so I have high hopes. Not so sure about Justlettersandnumbers, but I assume good faith. I think there's a general mutual personality conflict happening, coupled with my overconfidence that moves wouldn't or shouldn't be controversial, an issue that's already been resolved at the first, valid ANI. (Which has actually changed my own views with regard to page moving; I'm now skeptical of direct moves as useful for anything but truly trivial operations, because it sows potential for pointless conflict, like trying to do business on the basis of verbal agreements instead of written contracts). NB: Just the act of giving you an ARBATC notice resets my own to the same date, so we're on the same playing field. Which will hopefully be less like the battle kind.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:31, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Um, could you give me a diff for the ANI report you're talking about? I'll help you out: Here's a complete list of every edit I've ever made to ANI. There have been just 87 of them ever, and only six in the last two years, none of which, so far as I can tell, have anything to do with either you or article titles.
Also, please go check all the recent discussions about titles for animals. I don't believe that you'll find my name in them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:39, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
I evidently was confusing you with Justlettersandnumbers and perhaps someone else, too. I apologize for involving you in this. While I didn't appreciate the tone in that WT:NOR discussion, you're right that it's not a WP:AT matter and that you've not been involved in the same disputes, and I agree with you on much else. I think I even cited something of yours recently as exemplary of how to approach WikiProject banners and their purpose. Sorry for what amounts to a false accusation. :-(  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:02, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
No problem. We all make small mistakes like this. I'm glad you've got it sorted in your mind now.
Happy editing, WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:04, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Template:Harvard citation documentation

Hi, the problem with this edit is that Template:Harvard citation documentation is shared by eight templates: {{harv}}; {{harvnb}}; {{harvtxt}}; {{harvcol}}; {{harvcolnb}}; {{harvcoltxt}}; {{sfn}}; {{sfnp}}, and only a few of these produce Harvard citations; several have no parentheses at all. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:16, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Since some people know the one name and others know the other, I thought it would be helpful to have all the synonyms in place. I think it's a good idea to have some description of the purpose on each template, along with links to WP:CITE and (perhaps for all except the sfn templates) WP:HARV. It would be redundant if the individual templates already have such a statement. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:40, 24 September 2014 (UTC)


Hi. I'll be in San Francisco from 30th October (in the office for a meeting at 2:00) until the evening of Thursday 6th November. Would you like to meet up? (Email me if you're interested.) --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 06:15, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Nursing question

Thanks for the invite to WP:Medicne which I am aware of, however I tend to avoid wp articles related to work (for a range of reasons). As far as Morning care goes this reads as American terminology and I would hope is an outdated concept as we have /should have moved to individualised care providing care to patients/clients/service users at time which are right for them rather than sticking to institutionalised routines.— Rod talk 06:57, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks! That's useful information for me. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:17, 26 September 2014 (UTC)



We would love you to join the Gender Gap task force.

There you can coordinate with editors who are addressing the effect of the gender gap on women on Wikipedia – whether as article subjects, editors or readers. If you would like to help, please sign up or visit the talk page.

Happy editing, SlimVirgin (talk) 23:53, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

WikiProject Cleanup

Hi. About a year ago you made some suggestions on the talk page of wikiprojects cleanup. It seems most posts are old but the page is not yet listed as inactive. I want to help do clean ups. thanks, "Selene Scott (talk) 00:58, 30 September 2014 (UTC)"

Hi Selene Scott,
Sign-up lists aren't always maintained for WikiProjects. Just do your best, and post (like you just did) to let other people know that you're helping out, too. That WikiProject has been quiet for a long time, so it's nice to see someone posting there. By the way, if you make a pretty good effort, then you should feel free to remove the page from the list (and related tags from the article). If someone disagrees, then that person can always put it back. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:23, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
Okay thank you for bringing me up to date on that. "Selene Scott (talk) 04:42, 2 October 2014 (UTC)"

Thanks for link

Thank you for the requested moves-link. Hope it will help. If not, i might come back to you - ok?

All the best!!! Wikirictor (talk) 06:12, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

I'm not an admin, so I can't move the page for you. But if the RM process doesn't work, and you still think it should be moved, then come back and we'll find some help together. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:23, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Opinion needed

Waid, would you have time to offer an opinion at the West Africa Ebola virus outbreak article, #1 on the talk page "Possibly successful Ebola treatment with Lamivudine". It's not a long and involved dispute and I think it will only take a few minutes of your time, which I know must be short considering all you get done around this place. I continue to enjoy your intelligent posts here and there - you seem to have the ability to get right to the heart of the matter while many other editors flounder... Gandydancer (talk) 13:14, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Oh you little Miss Smarty Pants. Once again, thank you so much! That article is beginning to remind me of when I had 13 little goldendoodles running around my home. (Yes, that photo is my Golden Retarded with her 13 pups) :) Gandydancer (talk) 16:07, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

Behaviour at WT:ORG and elsewhere

It has come to my attention that yesterday you left a message at Wikipedia talk:Notability asking for more input in the discussion I started at WT:ORG. I think you've been here long enough to know that the advertising of discussions is subject to the Wikipedia:Canvassing behavioural guideline. This requires that notices are transparent and non-partisan. The notice you left was clearly one-sided campaigning which is unacceptable under this guideline. I also note that you did not leave any indication at WT:ORG that you had advertised this discussion elsewhere, therefore going against the guideline's requirements to be transparent. Normally I would consider that trivial, but given the partisan nature of the notice I think it is reasonable to conclude that you were hoping that myself and others wouldn't notice what you were doing. Well unfortunately you were mistaken.

This incidence comes shortly after you responded to Unscintillating (talk · contribs) in a way which could be reasonably interpreted as trying to deter that person from commenting further. No user has the right to attempt to drive someone away from a talk page simply for holding a different opinion from others. I originally ignored this incident as I didn't want it to distract from the discussion, but Orderinchaos (talk · contribs) did challenge you over it. I too do not find the justification you gave for this comment at all convincing, and I don't think many other users would either.

I accept I have been highly critical of the current state of the guideline and how scrutiny of it has been handled in the past, but I believe in the circumstances such commentary is justified and I have avoided personalizing the issue whenever possible. However I was not expecting this pattern of behaviour, which seems to be to try and "win" all discussions related to WT:ORG even if that means violating established behavioural norms, which has become intolerable. I really don't want this to escalate further, so I kindly ask for three things from you. Firstly, please to do make any further comments at WT:ORG which say, or could be reasonably interpreted as saying, that further input from a contributor is not welcome. Secondly, if you notify users of a discussion, please ensure you observe WP:CANVASS in full in the future. Thirdly, I would like you to think about how this behaviour reflects on the community and the Wikimedia Foundation, given your status as a community liaison. CT Cooper · talk 14:17, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Lessee here, CANVAS used to recommend:
  • Limited: Yup, one single message.
  • Open: Yup, it's posted right there in public, on wiki, for anyone in the world to see.
  • Non-partisan: Yup, I posted it to as non-partisan an audience as possible.
  • Neutral: I told them that I held strong views on the subject, which has the advantage of making sure that they arrive with a skeptical eye. Bland notices like {{Please see}} are not as effective at getting people to respond as telling them a story.
  • Notified at the original discussion: This has never been required by CANVAS, especially when the message is at the obvious "parent" page instead of at user pages.
It might help you to know that I've been active at both of these pages for years, and therefore that most the regulars at WT:N already know what I think about this subject. I could have posted "Another discussion about whether small-town newspapers, all by themselves, prove notability for local small businesses", but that wouldn't have informed any passersby or newcomers that I have long-standing views on this subject.
Unscintillating and I have worked together many times. I'm sincerely disappointed that s/he decided to stop reading the discussion—i.e., had already decided to stop participating in the discussion—because he disliked a fact that anyone can verify by looking at AFDs over the last year (or five). As they say, you are entitled to your own opinions; you are not entitled to your own facts.
Like you, I would be happy to have the guideline improved to more accurately reflect actual practice. I would not, however, be happy to have it changed to make every other local business in a small town appear to qualify for an article on the English Wikipedia, when we know full well that these articles will all be deleted or merged away at AFD. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:58, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
WP:CANVASS also requires that the message itself be non-partisan by stating... "The following behaviors are regarded as characteristic of inappropriate notification (and may be seen as disruptive): ... Campaigning: Posting a notification of discussion that presents the topic in a non-neutral manner." It is quite obvious that the message was non-neutral and the guideline has been breached. The lack of transparency was a minor issue compared to this, but a note at WT:ORG wouldn't have hurt anyone, and may have avoided giving myself the perception that you were trying to turn around a discussion which wasn't going your way in a covert manner. The alleged knowledge of users at WT:N is irrelevant, and if anything only shows how unnecessary the posting of a partisan advertisement was.
I am aware of your history at WT:ORG and WT:N. The meaning of your message was clear to myself and others. This excuse that Unscintillating said (s)he had stopped reading isn't convincing, as that didn't mean that (s)he wouldn't comment further, and even if it did, that doesn't justify firing a parting shot.
I'm afraid you do not have a monopoly on facts in this discussion, which is one reason why there is disagreement among multiple editors in good standing, so repeatedly substituting the word "I" for "we" is not helpful. I do not accept your interpretation of events at AfD, and even if I did, they are arguably irrelevant for reasons I have already explained and to which you have not replied. Regardless, this discussion will continue until a consensus on any changes to WP:AUD is reached. And when that is finished, there are plenty more sections of the guideline which need review, so there is a long way to go yet. CT Cooper · talk 18:49, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Lynn Sibley

I'm a little rusty. With what little remains of your time, would you mind checking Lynn Sibley? It had notability concerns raised in 2012 and no substantial edits since. If not notable, does one WP:PROD or should it go to a discussion of some sort? Basie (talk) 04:12, 14 October 2014 (UTC)

Hi Basie,
I'm not sure if she meets the criteria for an article. The nominal standards are listed at Wikipedia:Notability (academics). The list of activities make her sound fairly important, but does she fully meet the usual rules? I just don't know. There are a lot of publications at Google Scholar that mention her work (including many written by her), but I couldn't find a whole lot about her. But perhaps my search simply wasn't good enough.
My normal rule of thumb is to WP:PROD whenever possible, but this one might be better handled at WP:AFD because of the uncertainty. The process is almost exactly the same in both cases: Step one, go to Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-gadgets and turn on Twinkle (about five items from the bottom of the first section). Step two, go to the article and choose either PROD or XFD from the new "TW" menu at the top of the article. Step three, fill in the little form, especially the reason. Step four, think about how much simpler this is in Twinkle compared to manually formatting half a dozen picky steps for AFD by hand.
Alternatively, if you think she probably does qualify for an article here, then you could just remove the notability tag from the top of the page and call it done. I really don't know how to predict the likelihood of deletion at AFD: 50–50? 60–40? Whatever you think is best will probably be fine. (Also, quick bias test: If that article were about a physician instead of a nurse, do you think it would be considered notable? If so, then it should be kept. Wikipedia's notability rules don't have any "doctors outrank nurses" nonsense.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:06, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! I went the AfD route. Going through the categories of ??? importance has been quite instructive. There are plenty of nurses with formidable resumes, but I'm sure not all of them rate an article. Basie (talk) 05:23, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
Good luck. Whichever way it breaks, it will probably be a reasonable outcome.
I feel sorry for some of the borderline-notable/judgment-call BLPs. Some of them really want an article, but I wish our bar were noticeably higher, because good articles are uncommon, and vandals aren't. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:46, 14 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the cookie :)

Seppi333 (Insert  | Maintained) 12:38, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Arab Health

Me again. The above article is fairly clearly a copyright violation ([comparison]) of [Zawya's story], probably via a press release from the parent organisation. Further, it's hardly neutral in tone. In my inexperience I'm still a little shaky on the best course: copypaste template? Blank and copyvio template? Try to engage the contributors somehow? Basie (talk) 04:24, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Given the account name of the person who added it, I think that {{subst:Copyvio}} is the way to go. I suspect that s/he has permission from the copyright holder to do this. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:46, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
As always, thanks so much for your help! Cheers, Basie (talk) 03:26, 10 November 2014 (UTC)

Nomination for deletion of Template:RFC list footer

 Template:RFC list footer has been nominated for deletion. You are invited to comment on the discussion at the template's entry on the Templates for discussion page. G. C. Hood (talk) 16:32, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

fyi discussion on public HIV testing article

At Talk:Public HIV testing in the United States#Broader topic of screening, there is ongoing discussion of re-focusing that article. You commented at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Public HIV testing in the United States (which closed "no consensus"), and might be interested in commenting at the new discussion. All AFD commenters are being contacted now. --doncram 22:19, 29 November 2014 (UTC)


Hello WAID, I hope that you are well. I would like to transfer some of the content on Bone (especially the 'function' section), to Wikiversity with a view to making it somewhat more encyclopedic. How might I go about this? I hope you are well, --Tom (LT) (talk) 22:41, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

I don't think I've ever done it, but Help:Transwiki is supposed to have the answers. If you need to move an entire page there (and get rid of the one here), then {{Copy to Wikiversity}} is the right way to request help, but I don't think that would be a perfect match for this situation. Feel free to let me know how it's going. I'm busy in real life this weekend, but I'll look in when I can. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:20, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks WAID, I've copied it. --Tom (LT) (talk) 07:19, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

My experience debating a diet topic with Alexbrn

Hi there, WhatamIdoing. Not sure if we've crossed paths before, but I just noticed that you had disagreed with User:Alexbrn over the use of sources on the Feingold diet article—which I see Alexbrn has edited extensively to be quite short and focused primarily on criticisms. As a matter of fact, I've been facing the same issue on South Beach Diet.

Before going further, I should state I have a financial COI with the topic: earlier this year, the South Breach Diet brand contracted with me to identify errors and suggest improvements for the diet's Wikipedia entry. During this process I have always disclosed this clearly and confined myself to discussion pages. In the latest circumstances, Alexbrn has objected to my suggestions for improving two sections on very narrow terms. I have taken the issue to RfC (fair warning, it's pretty TLDR) and offered compromise on several points in hopes of finding a consensus. However, only Alexbrn has participated, and has become increasingly combative.

I fully expect Alexbrn will follow the ping I've included and disagree with my summary here. However, I think I'm quite sure I have the right of it, and now that I see there's an emerging pattern, I felt like I could add some perspective. And of course I need some help to resolve my issue. Interested in your thoughts, if any. Best, WWB Too (Talk · COI) 21:25, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) the pattern is that Alexbrn spends hours cleaning cruft out of WP put there by purveyors of woo. Among the quack-fighters he is by far one of the most reasonable. Act cluefully and bring great sources, concisely and nicely, and you can get somewhere with him; he asks real questions and he doesn't play games, unlike the worst in that bunch. His goal is to make a minimally reasonable article, then he is on to the next problem. You do have to understand, WWB Too, that you are making money off our work and our volunteer time, and you are trying to pump up what is a fad diet that yet other people make money from. To your credit you have been pretty calm but this post is disappointing. Please remember that you are essentially exploiting all of us for your personal gain. That is not pretty and you shouldn't expect anyone to be nice to you or to entertain requests to make articles yet more shiny for very long. Jytdog (talk) 21:56, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Hi again, Jytdog. Believe me, I am very aware that volunteer Wikipedians are doing me a favor by considering my suggestions. I've been a Wikipedia volunteer myself since 2006, and I care about following WP:COI guidelines; avoiding direct edits on such topics means I need assistance from those uninvolved, which I can usually find. In this instance, the only respondent I have had lately is Alexbrn, and this is disappointing.
I'm also keenly aware that this article falls into a topic area where woo flourishes, and I am no purveyor of woo. I'm simply trying to make it a respectable encyclopedia article. Not shiny, but balanced and well-rounded. I don't see that as exploitive—I see my role as helping Wikipedia improve topics that languish without someone bringing attention to them. And no great surprise that South Beach Diet cares what Wikipedia has to say about it. WWB Too (Talk · COI) 22:12, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes appreciate you following the COI guideline very much! and i don't mind people making money either. I do mind that you complain about the behavior of the only person who is even talking to you. :) i would not have said a damn thing if you had just asked WAID to help you instead of piling on a complaint about someone I view as a very good editor, who keeps working the trenches and keeps a good and civil attitude, even though he has to deal with loads of assholes (i am not counting you in that bunch, but you should take some time and explore his edits and interactions sometime) Jytdog (talk) 22:18, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
I follow your point about Alexbrn's contributions overall, although my experience has been different. One more piece of information to explain where I'm coming from: within this same time frame Alexbrn also joined an AfD on one of my articles to !vote delete. So I hope you can see why I'm feeling singled out here, not to mention frustrated by the lack of additional voices at Talk:SBD. Jytdog, I thought you made good points when you participated before. If either you or WAID are able to help bring the SBD dispute to a resolution, I'd be very grateful. WWB Too (Talk · COI) 22:35, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
I've got relatively little interest in diets. I've known Alex for years. He seems to believe that any treatment that is ineffective must be alternative, and vice versa, and he can be quite strident about it. He often does good work, but his commitment to his righteous battle against the evil charlatans lands him in an unfortunate number of overheated disputes, and we end up with discussions in which the only real outcome is that even more people are angry and frustrated and sick of Wikipedia.
Glancing over that RFC, you should not expect any responses from uninvolved editors. Once you've got such a long argument between two parties on the RFC, people are generally unwilling to share their opinions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:38, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback about the RfC; I think you're probably right about how it will (or won't) progress from here. I actually did receive one more reply, however it was from the same perspective: an observation that some of the material I've offered may be useful, a concern that any de-emphasis of criticism in the introduction is a "POV slant favoring the diet", and no suggestions pointing to a way forward.
While this "commitment to ... righteous battle" undoubtedly keeps pseudo-scientific nonsense off Wikipedia, I'm still concerned about its potential for overcorrection. For example, this apparently prevailing view that writing about diet plans in a dispassionate manner—as if one was writing about a software company—is effectively NPOV. Surely a more moderate consensus must be possible. WWB Too (Talk · COI) 12:38, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Hmm. I try to pick my battles, so I'll probably just leave one comment here. I gave two examples of POV concerns (and they were only examples - there are more), and de-emphasis of criticism in the introduction was the lesser of the two. To me, the suggestions I made for "a way forward" seem pretty clear; e.g. if I think you overemphasized something, that means I'm suggesting that you de-emphasize it.
TBH I wouldn't have minded further discussion on that article, as long as you give me a few days to respond, but your edits since my comment - your closing of the discussion, the forum shopping, and the general tone of your comments (which I have to describe as "PR-speak" for lack of a better term, even though that may be uncharitable) - have turned me off somewhat. Sunrise (talk) 19:15, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
This is a bit of a tangent, but hearing accusations of "PR-speak" bothers me, because in the last year or two, it appears that it has become a code phrase (among some editors, but probably not you!) for "expressed disagreement without cussing", which is kind of sad. We have such a problem with incivility that a little more "PR-speak", in the sense of polite, measured, calm messages might actually be welcome. I have once or twice asked people to re-write such alleged "PR-speak" in a way that maintains the facts but doesn't sound like a public relations piece. So far, nobody's been able to do it. I doubt that this has changed their opinions about it; it seems more a gut reaction either to professional communication, or (more likely) to the message itself.
("PR-speak" in the sense of filling a page with glittering generalities is, of course, a different problem.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:31, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, definitely no code phrases intended. :-) I really didn't know what other term to use. He follows the guidelines for COI editors, which I commend him for, and non-COI editors often speak this way as well (probably everyone does now and then). It bothers me perhaps a bit more than it should - maybe because I've studied the typical techniques used for persuasion, and they tend to jump out at me. In any case, I was referring to things like the difference in approach between his response to me in the RfC and his commentary here, which is much more negative. There are also issues of word choice, like the description of one's preferred opinion as "more moderate" (which might or might not be true, but also implies that other opinions are more extreme). I suppose I could rewrite the comment to better describe my meaning if you really wanted me to! Sunrise (talk) 20:04, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
There's no need to re-write anything. I don't know what the ideal term would be, either.
By the way, there's an editor whose username (translated) means "neutral editor". I love that name. It's emblematic of this type of problem, and the difficulty that some editors have with differentiating between "my" POV and a truly neutral POV. (Naturally, all right-thinking editors will agree that I'm the most neutral, moderate, unbiased editor that has ever been seen at Wikipedia.  ) WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:37, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Naturally. :-) Sunrise (talk) 04:03, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Nationality and National Identity

That was very clever of you to point out that the government census documents were actually referring to 'National Identity' as opposed to 'Nationality'. Have a look at the latest proposal on the James Clerk Maxwell talk page. The proposal would mean that we can list him as having a Scottish national identity without trampling on his British nationality. (talk) 08:04, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

To be fair to the people who live there, the Office of National Statistics is far more precise about their language than other government agencies (as one might expect from an agency whose job is to get it right). They routinely government encounter forms that ask them whether their "nationality" is Scottish, Welsh, English, etc. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:32, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Invitation Regarding Reliable Sources

Given your recent activity on the talk page of Verifiable, I am inviting you to participate in the discussion I started in regard to establishing a prima facia case for verifiable sources if it is has met and maintained the standards for inclusion in Google News.–GodBlessYou2 (talk) 20:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

non-breaking spaces and VE

Hey WAID, you pinged me at User_talk:Nettrom#Stub_predictions (I'm not sure why). But while I'm here ... is it possible to tell the difference between a space and an nbsp in VE? I can't see how. - Dank (push to talk) 23:04, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Dan, I don't think that it's possible to add a nbsp in VisualEditor. The last time I looked, which was months ago, if you do it from the keyboard (which is easy on a Mac), that it just replaces your nbsp with a regular space. I'm not sure how it handles the HTML code, but I haven't ever seen anything that looked different from a regular space, so I suspect that there is no visible difference at this time.
I pinged you at Nettrom's page because we had talked about that article assessment tool for MILHIST back in August or September. Since I've wrapped up my end, I wanted to let you know what I thought, in case you wanted to request a similar list for MILHIST. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:35, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. On the nbsp ... holy crap. I had to enter one nbsp in an article yesterday (a FAC reviewer had requested it), so I typed   into the VE edit window and made the silly assumption that it would be fine. I just went back and looked, and   was what it gave me in the normal edit screen, so that it appeared to readers as  . I've fixed it in the normal editor. If you guys are concerned about what things cause push-back against VE, this would be one of them. (I missed this issue before because, per my copyediting disclaimer, nbsp's and all other hidden codes constitute one of those issues I leave for other people to worry about.) I'm about to get a new hat (but keep a lid on this until someone actually closes the damn discussion) ... that's going to tie me up for two months at least, but after that, maybe we could talk about getting Mediawiki's page renderer to deal with some nbsp issues so that the lack of nbsp-handling in VE becomes less of a big deal. - Dank (push to talk) 15:30, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
The need for nbsp's was officially reported approximately forever ago (July 2013). I haven't heard the devs mention it, so I expect that it will be a long time before we see any progress there. It may be stalled on design; if you've got ideas for what you want it to look like (e.g., when you edit a page that already contains a non-breaking space), then please let me know. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:40, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Sure thing, I'll give it some thought. - Dank (push to talk) 00:13, 16 December 2014 (UTC)


Beta whatsis? MLPainless (talk) 05:07, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

I was assuming that you knew a bit about pack theory, and choosing to believe that you weren't trying to be quite so rude. ;-)
Subdominant is usually (more or less) a synonym for beta, although other sources use it to refer collectively to beta and omega animals (i.e., everyone except alpha). So, roughly, "the leader and his pack of barking acolytes". WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:16, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Merry Merry

To you and yours

FWiW Bzuk (talk) 22:03, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Happy New Year WhatamIdoing!

Happy New Year!

Dear WhatamIdoing,
HAPPY NEW YEAR Hoping 2015 will be a great year for you! Thank you for your contributions!
From a fellow editor,
--FWiW Bzuk (talk)

This message promotes WikiLove. Originally created by Nahnah4 (see "invisible note").

Happy New Year WhatamIdoing!

Happy New Year WhatamIdoing!


Thanks for the clarification and the links. I've put them at my toolkit. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:53, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

You're welcome. As I said there, I've been working in this niche for a couple of years. It's one of our more complicated concepts, and there is no bright line. Real-world experts can and do disagree over classification sometimes, and we editors aren't likely to do any better than them. We can only do our best.
If those advice pages need improvements, then please be bold, or post on the talk pages. The more editors and the more subject areas that we look at them through, the better they'll end up. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:03, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Happy new year!

Belated as I've been in a hammock by a river during the holidays, well and truly out of broadband range. Just wanted to say thanks for your work and assistance, and best wishes for 2015. Cheers, Basie (talk) 07:47, 6 January 2015 (UTC)


Hi, got your message here. I am not really active on Kannada Wikipedia. Mainly because I find it difficult to type in Kannada. I did use some tools but found that the translation was not very perfect. I am planning to start working on Kannada Wikipedia but most of the times my laziness triumphs :-) -sarvajna (talk) 09:04, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Hi sarvajna,
Thank you for this message. How do you type in Kannada? I assume that some people have a special keyboard for it. Do you have special software that you use? Is there something built-in?
Or, perhaps I should ask it a different way: If it were up to you, what would be the easiest way to type in Kannada? WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:24, 9 January 2015 (UTC)


You have helped me the past, and I thought you may be able to help me again. I had once internationalized occupational health psychology. I had created a French-language site, and successfully added links between the French- and English-language sites. Others have added links connecting both sites to Chinese- and Slovenian-language Wikipedia pages on the same subject.

When I looked at the English and French pages today, I saw the English-French links had disappeared. I tried unsuccessfully to restore the connection between the English- and French-language OHP Wikipedia pages. The French-language entry I created is fr:Psychologie de la santé au travail. I am not sure if I did something wrong or if there is a software problem at Wikipedia. Since you were so helpful in the past when I encountered Wikipedia syntax problems, I wondered if you could help with this matter. Thanks. Iss246 (talk) 00:58, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

It looks like the difficulties are due to the Japanese Wikipedia, which has articles at w:ja:産業精神保健 and w:ja:企業内カウンセラー, and the Slovenian Wikipedia, which has articles at w:sl:Zdravstvena psihologija dela and w:sl:Duševno zdravje na delovnem mestu. You'll need to figure out what the 'matching' subjects are here. One-to-many interlanguage links aren't possible (yet). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:34, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. Iss246 (talk) 15:14, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I made the changes. There was confusion between occupational health psychology and occupational health and safety in a number of languages. Google translate was a big help. Iss246 (talk) 16:03, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Infobox photo discussion

Hi again. Happy New Year. Can you offer your opinion on which photo is better for the Infobox here? If you're not able to participate, just disregard this message; you don't have to message me. Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 01:08, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Pharmaceutical industry

I'm sure its quite self-serving to thank you for your comments on the article (since you mostly seemed to agree with me), but I would like to do so anyway simply because I appreciate that you took the time. Its always good to get input from thoughtful people. So please always stop by and comment on my work, whether you agree with what I have done or not. :>)> Formerly 98 (talk) 00:54, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Sir EE Pochin removal of expanded entry

Please explain why you removed this addition to a totally useless entry as is.

Please email me <redacted>, as wikipedia is incomprehensible to me81.174.172.68 (talk) 10:52, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

You've got mail. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:37, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Removing italics on an article title

Hi. Can you tell me how to remove the italics in an article's title? There's an article with an inappropriate italicized title, and I don't see the {{Italic title}} or {{DISPLAYTITLE: ''Article Title''}} markup anywhere in the edit field. Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 00:21, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

It's probably part of the infobox. What's the article? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:43, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
My Musical. It's an episode of a TV series, so it should be quoted, not italicized (though I don't think quotes are applied to article titles). Nightscream (talk) 00:51, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Fixed. The problem was was "an" infobox rather than "the" infobox. ;-) WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:50, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Describing authors

Having been told (through a GA review of course) to describe the author I am using, I have noticed that some editors remove the description. An example is (in Virgin birth of Jesus): "According to biblical scholar F. Dale Bruner ...", which has now been reduced to "According to F. Dale Bruner ...". Is there some guidance on this? It seems that some editors / readers like to see who this author is, and others do not. Myrvin (talk) 13:49, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

WP:INTEXT doesn't use that sort of context-setting clarification; on the other hand, INTEXT is mostly using examples that are pretty famous. Personally, I like it when it provides relevant information (e.g., "biblical scholar") and not when it seems like low-information puffery (e.g., "professor"). I assume that most readers aren't going to recognize the names of people we quote.
I'm not aware of any rule, and I don't believe that there is one. User:SlimVirgin will very likely know for certain whether one exists. WT:CITE might be the best place to discuss creating one, if one is wanted. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:52, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Hi WAID, thanks for the ping. Myrvin, I'm not aware of any rule or advice. Some editors like to describe, while others link only. I would probably write "biblical scholar F. Dale Bruner."
WAID, I apologize for taking ages to respond to this, but I recently found some pings in my spam folder, including this one. Sarah (SV) (talk) 20:07, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Thanks both. I've put the description back. Myrvin (talk) 21:08, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

List of medical articles?

Hi. Do you know where to find a list of articles with {{WPMED}} on their talk page? I should know this, but because you're here, I don't have to. :o) --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:05, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Actual list, or a category? Category:WikiProject Medicine articles's subcats for the one style, and Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/Lists of pages/Articles for an outdated list. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:38, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Or: go to Template:WikiProject Medicine, then click on "What links here" on the toolbar on the left and restrict to talkspace (like this). If you want a list in text format, then you'd probably need a script to pull all of them - the last time I looked, there were ~32,000 if I recall correctly. MastCell Talk 17:05, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks guys. I followed MastCell's link, clicked "Transclusion count" and got 32601, but I think that includes categories and templates. Selecting "Namespace: Talk" and hand-counting 500 at a time got 29711. I'm going to see what a random selection of 300 articles (1%) looks like. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 03:36, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
If you just want numbers, then WP:MEDA#Statistics should have them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:26, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes. I've looked at that. (Nearly all your work, I think. Thank you!) 23,231 are C-class or below. I want to look at the articles themselves, to get a sense of what a research team assessing the reliability of our medical articles will be looking at. The wonderful User:Zhaofeng Li has kindly set up this thing for me. Running the query again generates another 300 random articles. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 08:05, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
If you're interested in assessments, then you may want to look at User talk:Nettrom#Stub predictions (whom I have owed a fuller answer since Christmas. One of these days...). WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:45, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

a small clarification

I think I understand what you're getting at in this edit summary. Since I don't see that the authors provide any actual "definition" of environmental exposure/s, I sort of imagine you're inferring what their *definition* seems to be based on their Fig. 1. There, they just provide a rather confusingly presented set of (unsourced/unexplained?) figures, where "obesity" gets inappropriately counted as an "environmental" exposure (arbitrarily, imo, grouped with "diet"). I agree it's contradictory, and that's why I first added the 'clarification needed' tag [1].

I'm posting here because I feel the article talk page thread is already rather cluttered, and I really feel we should be getting beyond discussion of this one particular source which, imo, is currently overweighted.

Best wishes as ever, (talk) 12:59, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

From my perspective, the urgent issue is making sure that the definition that is very obviously not used by the stats is also not be used to introduce those statistics.
The reason that diet and obesity are lumped together is because there's no good way to separate them. The primary dietary problem (about two-thirds, if memory serves) is overnutrition. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:50, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Best, (talk) 18:27, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I apologize for the stress; I don't want to lose you. I agree that it would be better to have a different source. This one is not actually one of my favorites (not that my personal preference really matters, which is doubtless why it's still used relatively heavily in the article). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:10, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks WAID :) Fyi, I really respect what you do. I feel sure that if we were able to talk the question over in person, the three of us, it'd all be so much easier and less confrontational. I think we'd all pretty much have been saying things like "actually, we really should be finding more recent sourcing for these key claims." But article talk pages do seem to be a trigger for confrontational debate. I'm glad you agree to looking for more recent reliable sourcing. I actually find it encouraging how following MEDRS indications here seem (to me at least) to eradicate the risk of unencyclopedic overstatement[unintentional pov perhaps?]. That's just my impression, fwiw... (talk) 20:52, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I think you're right. Talk pages make it easy to lose sight of the bigger picture (readability, for example: plenty of debates about tiny details, but few about whether anyone understands what we've written).
My general preference for broad articles like Cancer is to use high-quality books, which have fewer of the 'just one study' problems that individual reviews do. But I'm not sure that's feasible for statistics like this. What do you think? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:36, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, that's quite a broad question in itself...
In this case in point, I definitely feel we should be taking into consideration the (cautious) approach adopted in a major 'official' book like the WCR 2014.
Ideally, I think best practice in cases such as this, where we really need to wp:weight the evidence carefully to avoid unintentional pov[2] might go something like this:
1) identify/gather (and access) potential MEDRS (including key/'ideal' ones)
2) identify/examine key pertinent content, and try to 'understand' it (and where it's 'coming from')
3) collegially weigh the statements, in the spirit of WP:MEDASSESS
4) decide an order/strategy to present the reliably sourced information on the page in a suitably nuanced and reader-friendly way
5) going forward... make any further tweaks/revisions as appropriate, including incorporation of newly published content or talk-page observations/suggestions, etc.
Within that sort of approach, I think [MEDDATE aside] the 90–95% source would have been identified and subsequently rejected due to both: a) specific MEDRS concerns about the character of the 'review' and and the mismatch between the subject matter and the specialty of the journal; and b) because the pertinent data in the review is actually unsourced and therefore, from a MEDRS standpoint, WP:PRIMARY.
I realise that in *real-world* talk page discussions things tend to go a bit differently... (talk) 15:29, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Trivial detail: I'm not sure that the pertinent data is actually unsourced in that paper, but it wouldn't matter. Officially, reliable sources are not required to cite any sources at all.
A real response (other than "if we had a team of experts to spend six months doing those five steps, then things would already be very different" ;-) will have to wait until I have more than five minutes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:48, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
RE the "trivial" bit (which *would* matter, imo, if the paper met MEDASSESS in other respects).... WAID, you needn't waste your time on that... You could either: a) trust my working here; or b) decide you'd prefer to check for yourself (in which case, after consulting the notes I provided, I think you'd find the only thing you really needed to do would be to scan the main text to check I hadn't missed something...).
RE the *real* part... Hold your horses...if you don't mind me saying... Are you really sure about that? Is the process kicked off here (I hope) really more time-consuming (and energy-sapping...) than the confrontational stuff? That's not my experience hitherto (fwiw). (talk) 21:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
We have had to institute rules against editors deconstructing sources to decide whether the methodology is sound, etc. It's a haven for wikilawyers and POV pushers. "It's not reliable because there are no footnotes" (in the deep-link; the section the graph appears in has 13) is the last one in the official list. We get to kill it on grounds of MEDDATE, though, so we needn't worry about that.
Yes, a proper survey of the literature is enormously time-consuming. Depending on your tastes, it's more fun, though. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:31, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Certainly agree that a systematic review of the literature would be totally unfeasible. But that really isn't my intention at all... (And, fwiw, checking out that ref. 13 (PMID 18055160 [3]) does not enter into that particular question took me just a few minutes – certainly less time than to think/write this). Can we perhaps agree just to see how it might work in practice next week on this example question? After all, quite a lot of time and energy has already been spent there in the past... (without any very reliable outcome, imho) Best, (talk) 00:22, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Disease mongering page edit thanks

Dear User:WhatamIdoing. You are very welcome. Thank you for the acknowledgement. Yours, Wikiuser100 (talk) 19:08, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Breastfeeding article

Thanks for your comments on the Breastfeeding article. I have long thought that it needed a complete overhaul as well but the task was so over-whelming I that it would be too much for me to attempt. I've worked with user:Jytdog before and I know that he is very good at organization and sourcing. Any help from you would be appreciated as well. Gandydancer (talk) 15:52, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

It does feel overwhelming, and it's a hot-button subject in the real world. I'll try to keep an eye on it for the next week or two. Until we can find a good source, I don't think we can do much except removing old or inappropriately detailed information. What do you think would be better for a source: a book or a journal article? Do you think we could find an academic book on breastfeeding, rather than a how-to book? I'd like something like this one, but it's 20 years old, and so much will have changed. This says that it's the 2014 version of the AHRQ report, but when I go to Amazon, the copyright page says it's from 2007. I suspect that the 2014 date is wrong (the date that this publisher decided to re-print it, rather than the date that it was actually published). (Also, it says that it's in the public domain, but Google Books has no preview.) 2007 is okay, but it's getting a bit old. This one? It seems to be a textbook for healthcare workers (and cites the 2007 AHRQ publication).
There ought to be a good source about pollutants in breast milk. I read something once about persistent organic pollutants being so concentrated near the Arctic Circle that there was a question about whether breastmilk was actually safer than formula for those babies. Would looking for that interest you? I don't think we want a scary list of every pollutant ever detected (or mis-detected) in breastmilk, but it might be interesting to know whether there are any particularly significant issues.
I might see if I can turn up a proper economic analysis of costs. Breastfeeding isn't "free": the mother needs to eat more, and it takes her time (time that could be spent working for pay or in home production). However, I understand that formula is much more expensive, even if breastfeeding isn't actually free. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:47, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks so much for your interest. Jytdog has not replied to my latest post and may not be interested but that's OK. But I will need to have your (as always) excellent advise and support. As I suppose is obvious, I am a strong breastfeeding advocate. Way back when I nursed my own two daughters NO women were nursing. The only ones that I know of from that time were my two sisters. Some hippies were starting to nurse, but I didn't know any hippies. :)
Re books, I would think that the more recent the better. (BTW, it was not at all lost on me how you used book info in your edits re pink ribbons.) What with the WHO and every other major body of science coming out so strongly on exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months and many reviews suggesting that many diseases are related to failure to breastfeed, I don't see why we would need a book for that info. On the other hand, when it comes to something like money saved, even though we could find an actual costs comparison only a book would mention the added expense of the price of disease as related to failure to breastfeed - not that they would - only as an example. A book may be the only RS for pollution chemicals in breast milk as well, though I would think that there are plenty of studies.
As for how to go about a makeover, I was thinking perhaps do a section at a time rather than try to do anything all at once. Some of the topics have info spread here and there willy-nilly and it could be gathered as one worked on a specific section. Right now I am finishing up an article but I would like to start working on this next. For now, Gandy
PMID 16277817 is the most recent review I found on how much extra food energy a breastfeeding mother needs. It's a decade old, and that is only one part of the costs.
Which section first? Weed first, or re-write from scratch? WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:32, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
I have been thinking about your questions and suggestions and looking at the article, reading sources, etc. Today I noted that some editors from the med group have made numerous edits leaving the article apparently more in line with what is considered a good medical article. Most of the photos of mothers nursing are now gone. I liked all the photos and excuse my sentimentality, but for me they brought a feeling of "joy" to the article rather than make it a text book sort of way to give information. The lead has been filled with citation needed tags. The Endorsement section is now called outdated and as not expressing a world view which puzzles me but no entry was started on the talk page. And so on. I'm going to leave this article and let the medical group do what they want with it. Which makes me very sad... Gandydancer (talk) 17:49, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
It appears that the initial burst of zeal for MEDRS is being tempered with other virtues now.
I wonder if we could find images about different breastfeeding positions? From what I read, "cradle" is common, but "football" is recommended for mothers of twins, and there seem to be more than I can remember. As this is a compare-and-contrast topic, it would be suitable for a gallery. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:45, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Hmmm, Well I guess that there's more than one way to skin a cat. :D I haven't checked, but from what I understand the cat has now been very well skinned. Thanks for stepping in and for setting up a proposal on the talk page. As for images, I would not much care for positions images. For one thing, as for me there are two positions: Sitting down or laying down. In my imagination of what I'd like our article to be is somewhere between a text book and an article that a woman or her partner, etc., might check to learn more about nursing. I'd leave detailed positions info, etc., to other sites such as La Leche how-to sites, info that a midwife or doc might hand out, etc. I did like the photos that were deleted because they were, I'd guess, more unique to something we'd have here than would be expected at a typical how-to site. They lifted one's mind to the differently dressed, colored, etc., women from around the world nursing their babies and toddlers. When the dust settles I may attempt to return a few. At any rate, I am sure that the article will turn out to be very good with your oversight. I have not had much time lately but hope to help out as much as I can. Gandydancer (talk) 04:35, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
Hi there, say I pinged you on my talk page but only because I mentioned your name in a complement to you and I've read that we are supposed to never mention another editors name without letting them know about it - not sure if it's true. So no need to look and look on my overly-long page for something. Best, Gandy Gandydancer (talk) 01:58, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
That sounds like one of those made-up rules. I'm betting that it was made up (originally) by a person who found his lack of omniscience to be inconvenient. (Once "rules" get pronounced, it's very difficult to root them out.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:13, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Use of a BBC documentary as a RS

We are having a discussion on Talk:Lewis Carroll about whether a recent BBC documentary can be used as a RS. At the moment the article is frozen because of edit warring. One editor thinks that the BBC is OK on politics, but not when it is catering for the 'prurient interest' of its viewers. Also, there is an idea that we should wait until a 'respectable biography' quotes the programme. Another has deleted the material because of WP:undue, which seems to one of those catch-all reasons people use. I can find nothing on the use of TV documentaries as sources, even though they are used quite often. Have I missed something? Myrvin (talk) 10:09, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Generally speaking, a documentary that is broadcast by a reputable publisher (like the BBC), is treated the same as a book that is published by a reputable publisher (like Random House). I would definitely accept it as being reliable for the fact that an identified person holds a given viewpoint.
UNDUE is an important consideration whenever you have exactly one (1) source in the entire history of the planet that is making a claim, especially if that claim is an extraordinary or very serious accusation (in our culture). In this case, you have a serious (by current standards) accusation that might not have made sense in that person's culture. From what I found in my quick search, in that culture, 12 year olds were considered legally capable of regulating their sexual lives, and nude photos of young children were common and considered innocent. Consequently, it seems to me that their culture might have viewed taking a nude photo of a 14 year old much like we view taking a nude photo of an 18 year old: a reasonable person might be opposed to erotic or pornographic photos on other principles, but these are legally competent actors, rather than children being victimized.
My suggestion for a practical approach is to respect the WP:DEADLINE: You're probably better off waiting to see what the next few sources say. If this turns out to be relevant and appropriate for an encyclopedic biography, then it will be easier to add later, when there are multiple sources talking about it (including, ideally, some historians familiar with this aspect of the relevant culture). WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:50, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks WhatamIdoing. There is actually an entire section discussing the issue. This was nearly reduced to some words saying that such accusations were false. There is an awful lot of RSs that suggest that LC was probably/possibly a paedophile. The question is whether this BBC programme can be included as another source. Some editors are saying that this particular programme is not an RS - or not a 'reliable scholarly source'. Myrvin (talk) 18:12, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, it's not scholarly, but we don't actually have a scholars-only rule. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:33, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Quite! We don't seem to be getting anywhere on the Talk page, so maybe I should ask for a dispute resolution. Any ideas as to the best way to go? Myrvin (talk) 07:32, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
If your question is merely the narrow question of whether "X" source is reliable for "Y" statement, then WP:RSN is the best place. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:00, 8 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks a lot. I found it after asking you. It's on there now. Myrvin (talk) 07:39, 8 February 2015 (UTC)

Alternative cancer treatments

Hi WAID - I wrote a reply to your comment here, but I realized by the time I was done that it was probably too long and not sufficiently related to the topic. Rather than dropping it, I thought I would bring it here to see what you thought. :-) If it's too long, don't feel any pressure to respond! Response follows:

I do think those are reasonable points, although I think you're overestimating the time it takes in general for scientific research to come to conclusions. I've often seen statements like "mainstream medicine doesn't accept things immediately," and there is definitely some inertia there, but I think there's a tendency to overstate this. It's quite common for arguments to be presented, but for any number of valid reasons not be accepted as evidence (it's better to drop the term "proof" since we're always talking about degrees of evidence) until many years of further testing have gone by. For lipids in heart disease, I read this article when I was learning about the topic - the general point is that the question wasn't fully resolved until the late 1980s. It probably did take too long, and some of that was systemic, but for the most part it was for reasons that can't be clearly rejected given the state of knowledge that was available at the time. (This is medical scientists coming to the conclusion that lipids are causally related to heart disease, not clinicians making a judgement on treatments, though the two are sometimes the same people.) There is also the point that there should be some degree of inertia, because what appears to be proof may be an artefact, and public opinion requires that possibility to be minimized as far as possible.

A related factor is the speed at which biomedical science has progressed (even though at any point, most of the generally accepted information is still from many years ago) - e.g. one of the factors listed in that article was an emphasis on searching for a single cause, but even in 1990 we didn't appreciate the degree to which many diseases are multifactorial, and we didn't have very much reason to until the late 2000s when it became possible to run comparisons across many human genomes. But the point is that these gaps are always expected. It comes up in history of science when people refer to the 50-year gap between Wegener's proposal and acceptance of continental drift. It's often described as a tale of a brilliant and heroic individual working without support outside the mainstream (because that makes a better story), but in reality there was very little reason to believe it as Wegener first proposed. Rather, the evidence slowly accumulated, with IIRC the biggest pieces not coming to light until the decade or so before general acceptance. There are cases where new information is accepted immediately, but these are typically for questions that are chemically and/or analytically simpler, like the structure of DNA.

Anyways, I would go back to the point by saying while the Catch-22 statement is designed for "cleverness" more than accuracy, we can make a general statement that alternative medicines don't meet the required standards of evidence for general acceptance (what the standards should be specifically for approved treatments can be debated, but those are ultimately set by the public's tolerance for mistakes in this regard, which is very low). That doesn't mean that alternative medicine has nothing of value, but it does mean that we don't really know which ones they might be. Part of the problem is that we can't jump from agreeing that some alternative treatments may be of value to saying that any specific treatment might have value, because otherwise we would already have the amount of evidence necessary. That's how I would describe the Catch-22 in question. Sunrise (talk) 09:27, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree that there should be some inertia. However, the time for the science (alone) is greater than the median survival for a person with invasive cancer, and (separately) so is the "inertia". You could literally die of breast cancer three or four times before something goes from "experimental" to "accepted".
But the fact remains that science not what makes something stop being "alternative" and start being "mainstream", or the other way around. Think about Lamaze childbirth techniques: It was definitely alternative medicine originally. Is it truly "mainstream" now? The answer probably depends on where you live. In California, it's probably mainstream. In China, it's probably some crunchy-granola-hippie idea. How about homebirth? That's mainstream in the Netherlands, and alternative medicine in most of the U.S. Science is the same no matter what continent you're standing on. So why isn't it exactly the same classification everywhere? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:53, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
The length of time is Nature's fault for being so complicated. :-) I completely agree that it takes too long for treatments to reach acceptance, and I think this is a general view. I guess I'm making two main points: that for facts that were proposed long before acceptance, typically the reasons for acceptance actually only showed up later; and for newer facts that seem correct but haven't yet been accepted, then assuming correctness, typically there are still reasonable doubts that haven't yet been resolved.
For the second part, I would make sure to distinguish between mainstream medicine and mainstream science. Of course, neither are immune to geographical differences (e.g. scientific cooperation can be hindered by political disputes), but I agree that medicine probably differs more. Acceptance in medicine is intended to approximate scientific acceptance, although it does so imperfectly - and once we agree that a treatment can be accepted into mainstream medicine without being supported by mainstream science, and vice versa, then that explains the country-specific differences. The effectiveness of treatments is a question of science, but we can choose to define "alternative medicine" based on either medical acceptance or scientific acceptance. I would say that both approaches are valid (we can define words any way we like as long as we're understood!), although consensus at Alternative medicine has been to prefer the latter. Sunrise (talk) 08:19, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't actually think that it takes too long for treatments to become accepted. I just recognize that if you're looking at a six-year median survival, that a 12-year-long drug development process isn't going to work for you. I also recognize that most people facing death, even death half a dozen years from now, often feel pretty desperate.
Medicine is mostly not about science. This isn't a criticism of medicine; this is actually praise. It should be mostly not about science, just like going to a good restaurant should be about something more than avoiding malnutrition. Technical efficacy isn't the only, or even the main, consideration. To stick with the oncology theme, a robot can tell you what the most efficacious treatment is for a given cancer. However, a good physician is going to consider other factors, especially the patient's personal values. How Gawande helped Jewell Douglass wasn't science. It's better than science. It's not about efficacy. It's about humans. It was real medicine.
By the way, I don't think you have a consensus at the altmed article that scientific efficacy is all that matters. I think you just have a couple of loud voices who hold that POV. The article itself correctly presents the fact that there are multiple definitions, and correctly presents the claim that the "once it's proven to work, it magically becomes mainstream" is only one minority POV. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:22, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
There definitely isn't a consensus that it's all that matters, of course! Both of the primary definitions are presented as defining characteristics. The major discussion issue was always about which one should be the lead sentence, but in either case both statements would still remain in the lead paragraph.
Anyways, what I was trying to get at is that you seem to be approaching this from the assumption that conventional/alternative medicine is "correctly" defined in terms of medical acceptance, while the other option is also a valid one. For example, in the data-theory distinction you make below, there's no contradiction after you put in "with respect to definition A" and "with respect to definition B" in the appropriate places. Anyways, I'll make this my last reply here unless you specifically request further comments. :-) Sunrise (talk) 06:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Sunrise, your "with respect to definition A" approach would work if you were writing an academic paper, but in the real world, it doesn't work. Homebirth "just is" alternative in the US, and it "just is" conventional in the Netherlands. And that useless knee surgery "just is" conventional everywhere. People don't reason these things out from basic principles. They just learn from their culture what is conventional in medicine exactly like they learn from their culture what is conventional for food and clothing.
Americans "just know" that homebirth is alternative, in the same way that they "just know" that only the bride is supposed to wear a white dress at a wedding. If you go to Americans who subscribe to the "if it works, then it can't be alternative" idea, and you ask them whether homebirth is alternative, they're going to tell you that of course it's alternative. If you ask them why, they will tell you – even if (or especially if) they know nothing at all about the subject – that obviously there must be some solid scientific objection to its safety or efficacy, because it couldn't possibly be that a millenias-old conventional practice was relegated to "alternative" status for non-scientific reasons. It's like talking to committed theists: they "just know" that God exists, and any evidence to the contrary is fatally flawed by definition. Literally, by definition, the people subscribing to that definition "just know" that their spotless Science would never let a reasonable medical practice get called "alternative" over something so vulgar as money or so messy as popular opinion. They "just know" (from their cultural upbringing) that homebirth is alternative and therefore, by definition there must be something scientifically suspect with it. They don't want to deal with the cognitive dissonance of realizing that a medical practice could be scientifically sound and also alternative in their own culture.
And if you go to the Netherlands, and you ask the same type of people, they'll tell you – even if they are equally ignorant – that of course it's conventional, and the reason is of course because it must have been scientifically proven to be perfectly good.
I think there's enough data to show that these classifications aren't made by saying "Yes, good evidence, so that one's conventional" or "Weak evidence, so we'll call that one alternative". These classifications are made by cultures, not by computers, which means that they take into account a wide variety of types of information. WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
(Responding to the ping) The thing is, I interpret the phrase "just is" as carrying the background assumption "this is the correct definition." My suggestion to separate the two definitions isn't meant to be for the real world - it's to increase the clarity of our own discussion. I'm reminded of this - e.g. "I would just like to point out—in a mournful sort of way—that Albert and Barry seem to agree on virtually every question of what is actually going on inside the forest, and yet it doesn't seem to generate any feeling of agreement." That said, I'm willing to listen if I'm misunderstanding! Sunrise (talk) 04:35, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I love the link! Thank you so much for sharing it.
I don't think that people are starting off with a definition. I think that people are repeating what they learned about each thing. Here's an example: 6 (the symbol) is a number, right? And H is a letter. If I said that H was a number, or that 6 was a letter, you would tell me that I was wrong. How do you know this? It's not because you learned the definitions and then went forth to classify each symbol. Instead, you learned the symbols (probably around age 4 or 5), and later added the definitions to your knowledge.
I think that people learn that herbal extracts from the "natural food store" are "alternative" or that hospital births are "conventional" in the same way that children learn that 6 is a number rather than a letter (by learning the classifications one at a time, in isolation), and only later formulating a definition that allows them to generalize.
And in terms of Wikipedia, what the real world (especially the real-English-speaking-world) says is really the only thing that matters. If the real world says that ____ is "alternative", then it is, even if that classification does not match any known definition of the word. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:32, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
(talk page stalker) WAID I often appreciate your even keeled, generous wisdom, but that last sentence ("he article itself correctly presents the fact that there are multiple definitions, and correctly presents the claim that the "once it's proven to work, it magically becomes mainstream" is only one minority POV.") made me cringe. Let me ask you the active question - where do you draw the "legitimacy" line between: on the one extreme, really deluded and often evil/exploitative quackery that takes advantage of desperate people's pain and fear, and at the other, what is rigorous science-based medicine? Jytdog (talk) 20:11, 20 February 2015 (UTC) (note, added quote of last sentence since this comment moved away from it Jytdog (talk) 04:00, 22 February 2015 (UTC))

I see that question as being orthogonal to the question of whether it's conventional or not.

Midwife-attended homebirth works. There's good evidence behind it (for normal-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies). That's "rigorous science-based medicine", right? But it's "alternative" in the US.

Arthroscopic knee surgery does not work. There's solid evidence against it. In some situations, it might even rise to "tak[ing] advantage of desperate people's pain and fear". But it's "conventional" around the world.

If it's true that proven efficacy is all that's required to make something be accepted as conventional medicine, then why is planned homebirth so rare in the US? Why is it practically illegal in a few U.S. states? And why is arthroscopic knee surgery still conventional?

Here's an easier way to look at it:

Homebirth is scientifically proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, to work, and it's considered "alternative". Arthroscopic knee surgery is scientifically proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, to not work, and it's "conventional".
If it works, then it's "conventional". If it doesn't, then it's "alternative".

Different people take different approaches, but when my data and my theory conflict, I usually find that it's my theory that needs to be changed. My explanation for the discrepancy between the data (e.g., that homebirth is altmed and knee surgery is conventional, despite the scientific evidence going the other way) and the theory (i.e., that anything proven efficacious is automatically conventional) is that "scientific evidence" is not the sole defining element in whether something is considered conventional or alternative. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:44, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Your example of arthroscopic knee surgery is illustrative of why I get into arguments with acupuncture proponents: evidence that insurance companies pay for things is not evidence that those things have any merit. It would be nice if the two aligned in some sensible fashion, but they don't. I consider the discussion of whether a treatment is common and the discussion of whether a treatment is supported by evidence as being wholly unrelated.—Kww(talk) 23:15, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
True. The question here, though, isn't how to figure out whether something works, but how to tell whether it's "conventional" or "alternative". Even if the insurance companies stop paying for this knee surgery, it's never going to be "alternative". It'll just move from "accepted conventional" to "rejected conventional". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:20, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Mmm too many sloppy anecdotes and bad data here. arthrsocopic knee surgery has been shown to be ineffective for osteoarthritis, and medicare stopped paying for that in 2004. the peak year of the procedure for OA per se was 2001 and it has declined ever since, per this. clincial trials on arthroscopy for meniscal tears in the setting of OA emerged much later; the impact of those trials hasn't been published yet, but the world is not entirely irrational and one can expect that use of arthrosocopic surgery for that will decline, with the data.Jytdog (talk) 00:21, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Sure, it's declined somewhat, more than a decade later. Whether that's due more to the embarrassing media attention or more to "pure science" is an open question.
The evidence for homebirth's efficacy (actually, efficacy has never been a question; it's only been a question of safety for the last century) has been around even longer. When do you predict that will be considered "conventional" in the US? Maybe half a century from now? Maybe never? And if "scientific evidence that it works" is all that matters, then why isn't it considered conventional now? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:20, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
I have been thinking about the home-birth thing and the American medical establishment. We definitely have that here (medical colleges >> doctors, whose entry into practice is controlled in numbers and qualification by the various colleges/boards; insurance companies, FDA, drug/device/diagnostic companies - together they form an Establishment (yes, like the 60's the Man). I wonder when the Establishment got so much power here... I think it was maybe late 1940's into the 50's but I am ignorant of the history. But my sense is that through some tremendous effort they really sold the American public on themselves as really The Best Way. Much of that was great as it was through It that a lot of great public health stuff was promulgated but also a lot of bullshit (my European friends mock what is my obsession with cleanliness, in their eyes). But stuff like home birth was really pushed out. It will take a lot of time/work before home birth becomes conventional... just like it will take time for best practices to work their way though the Establishment about arthroscopic surgery for OA. The information about lack of efficacy is already in all the treatment guidelines.. it will probably take a generation of orthopedic surgeons and sales people for it to really go away.... anyway. Jytdog (talk) 03:08, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Personally, I doubt that homebirth in the US will become "conventional" again until board-certified obstetricians themselves routinely offer it, and because of the basic economics (you can deal with several women in labor at once in a hospital, but really only one at a time for homebirth), I doubt that will ever happen. There seem to be multiple stories about how it became "alternative". Some stories emphasize things like improvements in surgical techniques (like obstetricians washing their hands); others emphasize paternalism (of course the "modern men of science" know better than the "old wives") and greed (for the midwives' rather lucrative practices); a few emphasize privacy (the mother might prefer not to give birth while her other children are within earshot). I doubt that there's a single true story, but the result is that about a century ago, normal births happened at home in the US, and now it is a very unusual choice.
Basically, though, you seem agree with me: "scientific evidence" is not the sole defining element in whether something is considered conventional or alternative. What actually makes the ultimate difference must (therefore) be something else. I think that "something else" is more like public acceptance, especially as manifested by what you call "the Establishment" (e.g., ACOG's views on normal practice or what various laws declare to be acceptable). This public acceptance is (in our culture) heavily influenced by declarations that "science says this works" (which is why quacks talk so much about physics), but scientific evidence alone is neither sufficient (ever) nor strictly necessary in all cases (unfortunately). WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
I do understand what you are driving at, WAID and there is something useful in it... and I appreciate that you took the risk of making a positive formulation (something like "public acceptance"). It is interesting. I just looked at MEDMOS at the "treatment" section under "diseases/conditions" and it says "Treatment or Management: This might include any type of currently used treatment, such as diet, exercise, medication, palliative care, physical therapy, psychotherapy, self care, surgery, watchful waiting, and many other possibilities. Consider discussing treatments in a plausible order in which they might be tried, or discussing the most common treatments first. Avoid experimental/speculative treatments and preventive measures (e.g., prophylactic vaccines or infection-avoidance techniques). As per the policy of WP:NOTHOW, Wikipedia articles should not be written in a "how-to" style, but this does not prevent adding official guidelines of treatments or managements if these can be presented in an objective manner and with medically reliable sources.". Here is the real kicker part. What are really the best sources, to tell us what is "conventional"/"publicly accepted"? I don't think those are necessarily any kind of journal articles as those are going to be evidence-based evaluations, generally.... what do you think? What do you use? and on the flip side, what kind of source would you rely on, to define something as not-conventional (or "alternative")? And finally, would you consider dietary supplements (for all the crazy things people take them for) to be "conventional" medicine? lots of questions!! but they are all real questions - i am interested in how you think about this and about how you implement it when you edit. :) Jytdog (talk) 04:00, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I think that, for all except the most complicated cases, you accurately determine whether something is "conventional" by asking your favorite web search engine whether ____ is alternative medicine. You can also apply a simpler regulatory test: Is this intervention legally performed by (or under the supervision of) licensed physicians? Is the substance licensed as a drug (or biologic) by the drug regulatory agencies? That test helps sort out the difference between "alternative medicine" and "bad medicine" for ineffective treatments. Neither of these tests require any information about scientific evidence. In terms of cite-able sources, I would probably start with the NCCAM website (which lists many altmed ideas) or a book. There are probably dozens of "Encyclopedias of Alternative Medicine" or similar broad reference works.
I don't think that the broad and diverse class of dietary supplements can be accurately labeled as either "alternative" or "conventional". Echinacea extract is a dietary supplement, and taking that (for any reason) is "alternative" (and has been approximately since the invention of sulfa drugs). Potassium pills are also a dietary supplement, and taking them to treat mild hypokalemia (e.g., because you're taking a loop diuretic) is completely "conventional". They'll have to be taken individually. Even when you look only at herbs, it's hard to justify a single label for all of them. I don't think it would be smart to drive a car after drinking valerian tea, for example.
I've just started Wikipedia:Alternative medicine, and I hope that you and User:Sunrise will both help expand it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:32, 22 February 2015 (UTC)


Thank you for the suggestions about the '"Wiki Music Project."' Thank you for the suggestions about the '"Wiki Music Project."' Lubbock is a fairly large city in Texas, and has a number of shows to choose from almost every night. I write for the ezine "The Record" and stay busy writing for it. Problems with grammar and spelling bother me too. I can also look up extra sources for my articles through Wikipedia. Thanks again for your suggestion. I think my biggest challenge is going to be maintaining a NPOV.Lbhiggin (talk) 03:11, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

You're welcome. I hope that you find a happy, productive WP:WikiProject. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:01, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Badge of shame

Hi there! I know this is reaching way, WAY back, but in light of this you might be interested in participating in Template talk:POV#Badge of shame. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:23, 9 March 2015 (UTC)


There is a discussion at ANI, which in spite of the board that is hosting it, is merely a general discussion and not a decision-making one (so far as I can tell). I believe it could benefit from your typically thoughtful, considered and balanced commentary should the subject matter be of interest to you.

As there does not appear to be any decision contingent upon the outcome of this particular discussion, I do not think this note constitutes canvassing, but please use your own judgement and disregard if you disagree with this assessment. This is the only user Talk page on which I have left this message.

You may note that I've expressed a strong opinion over there. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts irrespective of your agreement or disagreement. If you prefer to stay off the board, a note on my user page would be nice as well. Formerly 98 (talk) 23:26, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

That's a long thread. I'll try to find time for it later. For right now, dinner is beckoning. WhatamIdoing (talk)
I'm about three-quarters of the way through the two-days-ago state of the thread... What a mess. I'll finish reading and then think it over, but I can already guarantee that I have no magic solution for you. The best you can hope for is an idea that might occasionally provide some marginal assistance. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:47, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

Which and that

I do believe a which can be used when there are too many thats in a sentence. Can't think of any examples right now, but I have definitely used such in the past. Yours faithfully in Usageland, BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 19:52, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for leaving a comment that makes me smile. I have occasionally succumbed to the same temptation, although Harold Ross would probably have suggested changing the rest of the sentence instead. ;-)
If you can find (or make) a really over-the-top example, I'd love to see it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:29, 16 April 2015 (UTC)


Hello WAID. We are having a lot of trouble in the Socrates article with a new, keen editor, who seems to be unaware of common practice in the English Wikipedia. With consent, I had to revert a huge number of edits recently, mostly because of this editor corrupting the format of the article, using uncited references, and generally mucking it up. Now, the editor is producing very large footnotes, giving quite big biographies of the cited writers. S/he seems not to want to listen to reason. What can we do about it? Myrvin (talk) 06:49, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

I'm sorry. The community is bad at handling this sort of situation. WP:RFC/U has been closed, and was never much good for new people anyway. ArbCom would just reject the case at this stage. I assume that there is no question of sockpuppeting or other issues. It's hard. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:17, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Sigh! I am suggesting that s/he finds a mentor. Myrvin (talk)

what do you mean?

by "stupid ways" (in this). Jytdog (talk) 10:37, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Mostly, I mean context-free evaluation of a source's primary/secondary/tertiary status, with zero attention to any other factor. It results in people complaining about primary news sources for non-biomedical information (e.g., what some company did or said on some date), destroying DUE weight because the fringe-y material is (currently) supported by a secondary source and the mainstream material is supported by a reputable, highly cited primary source, or especially blindly reverting without any effort to preserve or collaborate. I know you've seen people revert things on the grounds that a newspaper article was cited; it happens all the time. Problem: if the material is good/encyclopedic/relevant/DUE/etc., and it can be supported by a secondary, then we shouldn't remove it. We should upgrade the source, not DEMOLISH good material with a sorta-reliable-but-weak source (good material = material that you would have kept if it had a stronger source behind it). WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:45, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
interesting. thanks for explaining! Jytdog (talk) 15:50, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Sourcing help needed

Waid, just want to be sure that you got my ping about sourcing help for an instructor. You'd think I'd be getting better at it by now but I only seem to be getting worse and am about the last one to give advise. Please see the last couple of edits at the talk page for Bisphenol S. Thanks. Gandydancer (talk) 21:04, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Rare disease

Pre eclampsia is relately common (2-8% of pregnancies) thus not sure about [4] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:46, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Doc James, it surprised me, too, but it's verifiable. Rare disease is defined by prevalence among the whole population, not among the much smaller population of pregnant women. There are about 150,000 cases per year in the US, and less than 200,000 is the (US) legal definition.
It actually ought to be mentioned in the ==Society and culture== section, because it was recently put on the orphan diseases list for drug development purposes in the EU (and the US, I think). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:03, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
K sounds good. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:13, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Support request with team editing experiment project

Dear tech ambassadors, instead of spamming the Village Pump of each Wikipedia about my tiny project proposal for researching team editing (see here:, I have decided to leave to your own discretion if the matter is relevant enough to inform a wider audience already. I would appreciate if you could appraise if the Wikipedia community you are more familiar with could have interest in testing group editing "on their own grounds" and with their own guidance. In a nutshell: it consists in editing pages as a group instead of as an individual. This social experiment might involve redefining some aspects of the workflow we are all used to, with the hope of creating a more friendly and collaborative environment since editing under a group umbrella creates less social exposure than traditional "individual editing". I send you this message also as a proof that the Inspire Campaign is already gearing up. As said I would appreciate of *you* just a comment on the talk page/endorsement of my project noting your general perception about the idea. Nothing else. Your contribution helps to shape the future! (which I hope it will be very bright, with colors, and Wikipedia everywhere) Regards from User:Micru on meta.

14:07, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Simple questions

Hi there,

A little while back we talked briefly at WT:MED about having classes work at simplewiki. I'd like to come back to that if you'll indulge me.

I've been doing some research, looking through the links you provided, and have some questions/observations and would appreciate your insight.

  • This is really a fundamental question that I must have overlooked the answer to. It looks like all of the information is premised on the idea that articles on the simplewiki are "translations" of their enwiki counterparts. I don't see anything about contributing to simplewiki as an alternative knowledge building exercise to working on enwiki. In other words, let's say we have a tiny stub about a subject here -- would it be inappropriate to ignore it and write a lengthy piece on simplewiki?
  • simple:Wikipedia:Schools/Teachers' Guide#Wikipedia in the classroom looks to be very old. Does it reflect up-to-date simplewiki policy/practice? I see a couple red flags where it deviates from best practice on enwiki. For example, we want all students to create a username and don't follow this idea that IPs are easier for the instructor to track -- unless we're operating under the assumption that everyone will use the same IP address, which is certainly problematic. It also mentions teachers creating "a login for the class".
  • The word lists and sentence structure are my biggest concerns though. For communications, language, and composition classes that's one thing, but if the goal is to improve coverage of, say, psychology topics on Wikipedia, these present a much more obvious impediment. The difficulty of contending with MEDRS, MEDMOS, a much more active editor base, and better developed articles may well pose far greater difficulties, but the form and extent of those difficulties are less apparent (regardless of warnings). How strict are these rules? What I might envision is a standard sort of assignment where students keep simplicity in mind, but then include another step in the process through peer editing process to bring the articles to compliance.

Psychology is my example because it's one of the areas classes run into problems most frequently as well as one of the areas where there's the most enthusiasm for editing Wikipedia. We're brainstorming various ideas for how best to work with them and I'd like to, potentially, bring this to our next meeting. We're also going to be attending the APS conference in New York later this month.

Thanks. --Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 16:49, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

  1. Simple Wikipedia is a completely separate, independent project, and writing new articles there is not only permissible but encouraged. People here think of Simple: as a place to put 'translations', but people at Simple do not have such a limiting viewpoint. (Anything that you write there could also be imported here, if we don't have that article/that section/that detail.)
  2. I believe that it's current. I don't follow the admin's board over there, but the project officially welcomes students and is much more tolerant of honest mistakes. I think that page might be aimed at younger students editing in class, where creating an account is more burdensome (for the teacher, who has to walk them through the account creation process and make sure that each student logs out and the next one logs in on the shared computer) and possibly more risky ("User:Cute16") than exposing the school's IP address.
  3. Simple English is more restrictive. However, the aim is "do your best", not "get it perfect on the first try", and complex words (and all proper nouns) are okay if you explain them as necessary. Also, the official lists are a little old, so the occasional deviation is okay. For example, cancer doesn't seem to be on simple:Wikipedia:Basic English combined wordlist (but influenza is), and influenza isn't on simple:Wikipedia:VOA Special English Word Book (but cancer is), but I'd expect most people to be familiar with both of those words these days, and there's no requirement that you stick to a particular list. If it's on either, then it's okay. And if it's not (skiing, apparently), then add a definition in the article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:27, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks for all of this. I've bookmarked this thread and the relevant simplewiki pages. I brought it up at one of our meetings yesterday, but for a number of reasons it seems it's not something we're really in a place to jump into right now. Still, I'd be interested to try an experiment if we get an appropriate class -- science or technical communication, for example -- to see how it goes when the vocabulary, etc. fit into the scope of the class (before suggesting it to e.g. an intro to psychology course or one of the others we might try to dissuade from making bold article edits on enwiki). --Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 23:28, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Too much medicine

Hi WAID, I saw your post about unnecessary treatment, and shortly afterwards saw something that might interest you – this Guardian article, which is reporting this BMJ article. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in the UK agrees with you and wants to do something about it. Sarah (SV) (talk) 16:36, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

(I'll follow up here as well, since the COI talkpage is getting unwieldy). I don't think anyone would deny that overutilization is a huge problem (on that topic, Atul Gawande wrote a pretty thoughtful piece in the New Yorker a few days ago). There are, however, real efforts on the part of professional societies to reduce unnecessary tests and procedures, most prominently the Choosing Wisely initiative which is described in the links provided by Sarah above. (Choosing Wisely is a US initiative from the American Board of Internal Medicine that's being exported to the UK; basically, medical professional societies are asked to compile a list of common but unnecessary practices in their sub-discipline).

To your point about orthopedists, knee arthroscopy for uncomplicated meniscal injuries is among the procedures called out as unnecessary. And there is evidence that these efforts have been successful: the number of arthroscopies performed for knee osteoarthritis has declined substantially in response to the evidence that these procedures are ineffective (see PMID 23460330). So there are significant efforts to reduce overutilization, and there is evidence to suggest that these efforts have been successful (although there is a lot more to be done).

In response to your comment here, I think this is a relevant distinction between a homeopath and an orthopedist. Orthopedists have responded to clinical evidence by reducing unnecessary knee arthroscopies for osteoarthritis and by producing guidelines advising against the procedure. In contrast, despite voluminous biological, physical, and clinical evidence that homeopathy is ineffective, has there been any effort on the part of homeopaths or their professional organizations to reduce their utilization of these ineffective treatments? Have there been any statements addressing the lack of an evidence base for their practices? I don't think so.

The reason is obvious: knee specialists will keep seeing people with knee problems, and they can respond to clinical evidence by doing fewer arthroscopies and prescribing more physical therapy and non-operative management. In contrast, homeopaths can't and won't stop prescribing homeopathy, no matter how much evidence of its ineffectiveness accumulates. To your underlying point, though, I agree that our problems on Wikipedia are basically matters of POV-pushing rather than COI. MastCell Talk 17:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the links, SV.
MastCell, I think that the homeopaths are in a bit of a bind: They sell worthless "drugs" that work (exactly) as well as placebo, and for the kinds of things they "treat", placebo effect is pretty significant. But to get the best possible placebo effect—to do the most good for their patients—they have to maintain the marketing hype and be (or at least act like) true believers. (The best homeopath is likely to be the one with the best acting skills.)
Society would have no need and no demand for homeopaths if the people who receive actual benefits from that experience with a homeopath could get the same thing (the time spent listening to the patients' complaints, the emotional labor of validating their experiences and sympathizing with them, the confident assertions that the situation can be improved, easy daily "treatments" that make the patients feel like they have done something positive for their health and well-being each day, the total of absence side effects, etc.), through mainstream medicine.
Mainstream medicine is trying to become evidence-based medicine. It wants to fix people's problems objectively, even if the patient believes that everything is worse than it was before. Mainstream medicine also thinks that all other "medicines" ought to do the same. But I don't think that most altmeds actually want to be evidence-based medicine. I think they want to fix patients' subjective perception of problems, even if objectively nothing has improved at all. We then end up with MDs yelling that homeopathy is worthless (objectively, it is), and homeopaths yelling back that their patients say that they feel better (subjectively, they often do [else the homeopaths would have no repeat customers]).
What happens on wiki is that the evidence-based crowd shows up and says that nothing except their personal values (objective evidence about a particular mechanism of action) matters. If you look through some of the skeptics writings, you'll actually see them saying that the study says patients who did altmed X felt better, but the skeptic magically knows that the patients did not feel better, because altmed X claims a biologically implausible mechanism of action, and the scientific silliness in the field's favorite textbook exerts a psychic field that prevents all patients from feeling better. A more scientific response to this might be "Patients do feel better subjectively. The junk science reason that the sellers of altmed X claim is still wrong.")
But this is all tangential to the question: The problem is POV pushing, not COI. It doesn't matter whether you're a true believer about a computer system, a bottle of water, or a knee surgery. Unless you expect a reasonably direct return for adding verifiable information to an article, then you don't have a COI. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:52, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that what's missing is any acknowledgement by homeopaths that what they are selling is in fact the placebo effect. We as a society decided a long time ago that it was deceptive and unethical to treat people with placebos without their knowledge. (In placebo-controlled clinical trials, patients are explicitly informed that they may receive a placebo; the trial would otherwise be unethical and possibly criminal). So I do not understand why we accept this sort of deception from homeopaths.

Separately, it's not even necessary to invoke the placebo effect in many cases. A lot of disorders spontaneously improve even in the absence of treatment. For example, major depression is a subjectively defined illness which spontaneously remits in about 20% of patients (PMID 11578666). So this subgroup would get better regardless of whether you treated them with placebo, homeopathy, amoxicillin, or garlic powder. It would be easy to conclude that homeopathy is effective in 20% of patients, or that the magnitude of the placebo effect in major depression is 20%, but obviously these would be incorrect conclusions.

This is the same phenomenon which leads physicians to prescribe antibiotics for viral URIs: the patient remembers that last time they got an antibiotic and felt better within a few days, so they ask for one again. If the physician says no, then they go to another doc, get an antibiotic, and feel better a few days after starting it. Their conclusion is often that doc #1 didn't know what s/he was doing, and doc #2 cured their URI. This is homeopathy in a nutshell: if you're willing to be dishonest with patients, then you can claim credit for a lot of improvement, because most things get better no matter what you do. MastCell Talk 18:17, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

It's not entirely dishonest, or at least it doesn't have to be: If a homeopath says that if you come in (and pay for) an expensive consultation about your viral URI, receive a "prescription", buy the "drug", and go home and go through a daily ritual of taking the "drug", then you'll probably feel better soon, then the homeopath is being at least as honest as the "scientific" MD who handed out an antibiotic for the same thing. In terms of harm, the only harm to the homeopathic patient is in his wallet, but the physician has exposed the patient to both financial and biological effects while additionally increasing the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria for all of society. They're both menaces, but a homeopath might actually be doing less harm than a primary care physician who doesn't know how to say "no" sympathetically.
As I said above, the homeopath is in a difficult position, because telling the patient that the rather silly "drug" won't work would actually be reduce efficacy, which means that the homeopath would be making more patients seek potentially dangerous (rather than pointless) alternatives. Placebo effect works better if you believe in it.
(It's weird to hear you say "most things get better no matter what", because that's basically never true for your patients. Perhaps though, that's what gives you that perspective.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:46, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
But homeopathy isn't presented as a form of ritual. It's presented by its proponents as an explicitly scientific and evidence-based treatment. For example, the British Homeopathic Association claims extensive support from the medical literature, as do some of homeopathy's more (in)famous exponents. In my view, that's dishonest.

You're absolutely right than physicians shouldn't over-prescribe antibiotics either, but that doesn't absolve homeopathy. Nor does it create any sort of equivalence: the physician who hands out Cipro for URIs is transgressing his professional guidelines, while the homeopath who sells useless treatments is operating entirely within his. As far as difficult situations, it's considered categorically unethical to prescribe a placebo without informing the patient, even if you think that the patient's belief in the placebo is an essential part of treatment. So while this may be a difficult situation for a homeopath, the correct answer from an ethical standpoint is clear-cut.

(As an aside, the question of saying "no" sympathetically has taken on an entirely new dimension in the modern era of patient-satisfaction metrics. As you probably know, patient-satisfaction survey scores are going to be incorporated into reimbursement formulae, and many medical centers and practices already incentivize high patient-satisfaction scores. There is at least some evidence that high patient satisfaction scores are correlated with over-utilization and worse morbidity and mortality, probably because it becomes harder to say "no" to a request for a useless test or treatment, even sympathetically, when you're likely to be rewarded with a poor satisfaction score and a financial penalty for doing so). MastCell Talk 18:24, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

To my eye, BHA claims only a "small overall effect" based on systematic reviews. They fail to mention that these reviews happen on a literature base with a remarkable level of publication bias, but their "scientific" claims are rather modest. It is obvious to me that their marketing department has spent a long time on that page. Importantly, they do not say anywhere on that page that the water drops are the causative agent of the "small overall effect" (=the pseudoscience claim). They only say that based on the published literature, there is a small overall effect. (I still believe that it could be done honestly, even if that's clearly not the popular approach these days.)
I'm skeptical of all "medical ethics say" claims. The ultimate source of my skepticism is Huntington's Disease: "medical ethics" say that, given a world of finite resources, the researchers' duty to the impoverished, nearly illiterate group of families who formed part of the discovery process is to provide a year's worth of science classes so that they can make an informed choice about whether to get tested, despite (a) very few people in wealthy countries choosing to do those tests before symptoms appear, (b) clear signs that the population in question intends to "treat" an unhappy test result with suicide, and (c) the affected people saying that what they really need is drugs to treat their currently affected family members. "Medical ethics" says that the whole group's desires and needs are irrelevant, their best interests are irrelevant, and that the researchers must not(!) provide desperately needed treatment assistance if doing so would interfere with providing diagnostic assistance (because diagnosis, but not treatment, improved as a result of this population's assistance). The kindest thing we can say about this may be that "medical ethics" should be referred on suspicion of a culture-bound syndrome—one in which the individual's right to know trumps all other values and considerations (including those of the individual in question).
On patient satisfaction, I wonder if they would benefit from the work done on student evaluation. "Is your professor any good?" is useless, as is "Would you recommend this professor's class to your friends?" But "Does your teacher use class time well?" is something that's correlated strongly with good educational outcomes even when you're asking 10 year olds to review their scholteachers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:37, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
The patient-satisfaction industry is driven by a few huge companies (really, just one, Press Ganey) and it uses tools that are so statistically unsound, meaningless, unreproducible, and non-representative that they'd be laughed out of an introductory college-level statistics course. Not that I have a strongly formed opinion about it, or anything... The main question which seems to carry weight is: "How likely are you to recommend this physician?", which seems to fall into the "useless" category you describe.

I can't comment on Huntington's Disease, because I don't have any real knowledge about how testing is handled from an ethical standpoint. I will say, though, that while there are many gray areas in bioethics, the surreptitious use of placebos is black-and-white. Medical ethics are obviously culture-bound, and in Western culture honesty is highly valued and in fact indispensible in patient-physician interactions. (In contrast, some other cultures accept the idea that physicians can, and sometimes should, withhold important information about diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment from the patient and his or her family). But insofar as homeopathy is presented in Western countries, in our existing bioethical framework, it is absolutely and categorically unethical to knowingly provide a placebo to a patient without informing them. MastCell Talk 21:09, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

They're not actually prescribing placebos (as far as I understand the situation). They're prescribing something with the same value as a placebo, which is technically a different thing. What they're doing is no worse than what happens when a mainstream doc prescribes dextromethorphan to treat a cough. DXM is also "no more effective than placebo", but it is not actually a placebo itself. (It's a worthless waste of money with the potential to cause side effects, rather than just a worthless waste of money.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:22, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

DYK for Botanical drug

Coffee // have a cup // beans // 19:40, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, WAID! that was all you. Jytdog (talk) 20:33, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I just did the technical part. You wrote the article. Congratulations. I'm always happy when main page can have something of general medical interest on it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:15, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Thanks for the heads up. I would be interested in Wikipedia:No original research/Noticeboard#Genocides in history which is sort of straying into the area we were discussing earlier this year a [Alternative cancer treatments -- PBS (talk) 20:12, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

English policy

I've been here some eight years and there are only a few policies of which I'm blissfully unaware. This wasn't one of them. Regards  Aloha27  talk  01:38, 19 May 2015 (UTC)


OK <sigh> ... so I went over there and have now seen that of which you speak at WT:MEDRS. Not that I have any suggestions for how to handle Quackwatch now that I've seen how awful it is (and it is beyond Quackwatch when editors think any new hypothesis with two primary sources can then be considered "fringe" and they think they can then ignore MEDRS) ... other than a reminder of why I have for so long so avoided those topics. I may go back to ignoring all of this, because the alternative is to give up entirely, but I'm just so sick of seeing WP:MED dominated by one set of issues. Bst, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 07:17, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

(talk page stalker) to both of you. Yes, woo-pushers of health content have discovered WP:MED and WT:MEDRS. We are going through a particularly ugly time, when woo-pushers in the health arena are being particularly aggressive. Turning your back on the quackfighters and undercutting their tools, will not make that stop. The quackfighters are Wikipedia's immune system and hang in there against woo. Where woo-pushers and quackfighters are engaged it is ugly - there is pus and blood and hot inflammation - and I understand not wanting to deal with that. But If you are going to fight against Quackwatch and SBM, in my view it is really important to put up something in their place. What will you say "yes" to about sourcing? Jytdog (talk) 11:58, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm going to be traveling, so whatever is going to happen will happen without me, but I'd say yes to "general" wording about sourcing when we don't have high quality MEDRS (although I've yet to see an example that convinces me we have any sourcing problem-- what we have are behavioral problems), as opposed to a push to codify one specific partisan source in a general guideline. If we go beyond WP:V and WP:RS, we'll end up with an RFC, WP:MED discredited, and our long-standing guideline in ruins. And I think some of our issues could be solved by getting some of our own quackbusters to stop using double standards when it comes to MEDRS, and by focusing on curbing the behavioral issues rather than the sourcing concerns.

Well, I'll see what I see when I return from vacation. Bst, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:41, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

SandyGeorgia, I understand the urge to flee. And frankly, you've got your hands full with the psycho-neurology stuff. (Why do we get so many psych classes, and never a physical chemistry one? Maybe it's because our psych articles are worse than our chemistry ones, but...)
Jytdog, I disagree with your characterization of the quackbusters. They are (half) of the problem. In terms of collegiality, collaborativeness, and following the community's guidelines, the self-anointed quackbusters every bit as bad as the woo-pushers, and I blame them more, because they're using a double standard to get WP:The Truth into Wikipedia, whereas the woo-pushers are at least trying to come up with sources that a good-faith person might believe met MEDRS's call for actual scholarly sources, rather than jumping to their favorite heavily biased websites. A biased website that I agree with is still a biased website, not a scholarly source.
What we're saying "yes" to here is high-quality, scholarly sources. That means not using either QW or SBM (or any equivalent websites on the other side of the POV) unless there are actually zero scholarly sources and the subject still belongs in Wikipedia. IMO the situations that meet both of those conditions ought to be tolerably rare. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:21, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
Still here; we decided to leave a day later because we just aren't ready to go, and the first leg of our trip is driving to stay with family.

Yes, why on earth the students so love my particular area, I dunno. I guess it's "sexy" or bizarre or something.

On the rest-- what you said. I've been on this rant lately, but we need to get our own house in order, and curb these behavioral issues that are giving the whole Medicine Project a black eye (of which I was guilty last night when going after that AFC, for which I came to my senses and apologized). I just discovered the same double standard at Morgellons. It had an entire paragraph on a Mayo primary study that "we" agree with, while it kept out primary studies on Lyme disease that "we" don't "agree" with. This has to stop. Bst, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:56, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

i tried to edit the acupuncture article for a while. the experience of actually trying, was pretty mind-blowing and eye opening. what i found is that we would get to a pretty good place, and then either someone new would show up on the woo side, or some new woo paper would come out, and the woo-ers would way overstep, and the quackbusters would come out all guns blazing. The quackbusters are few and they have a lot of ground to cover, so it is not like they just sit there thinking of new awful things to do, to alt-med articles. i really do think that if (and it is a huge if) we could negotiate a reasonable scope with the few reasonable editors on both sides, and both sides agreed to keep their own extremes at bay, that the articles could be decent and relatively peaceful. but especially with new editors showing up, and enough persistent extremists on both sides, it would be hard to craft much less to hold. I've worked as a bit player with some of the more moderate quackbusters on Shiatsu and in my view, this is a pretty decent article about something that is woo. no QW or SBM. it is possible, for sure.
I just did a search in WP for quackwatch:
Frequency specific microcurrent should probably be AfDed (QW is only source)
what do you think of Issels treatment and Neural therapy? (QW used, with attribution)
Just two more for SBM. Burzynski Clinic and Adrenal fatigue? Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 01:54, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! Jytdog (talk) 01:54, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
For Issels, which IMO has dubious notability, I might merge it up to a general article on removing fillings and cite things like rather than QW (which is superfluous to the ACS info anyway). I haven't looked at the others, but AFD isn't going to be an option for either Burzynski Clinic and Adrenal fatigue. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:04, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
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