Thursday, March 20, 2014

Concentrated Benefits and Dispersed Costs, House of Cards And Wikipedia

In my last post...Free Lunches Require Externalizing Costs...I mentioned that I'm banned from Wikipedia.  Today when I watched this excellent video it incentivized me to share some insight into why that is.

Did any of you who watched this video think, "hey, how come the House of Cards WP page doesn't mention public choice or rent seeking?" Or maybe, "hey, how come there isn't a Wikipedia entry for concentrated benefits and dispersed costs?"

Maybe one or two of you asked those questions?  If so, you're in luck.  The short answer is that I tried and failed (the knockers won)...
Librarian: So often these days, sir, we see, don't we, these so-called clever people who just can't wait to tear down and destroy.
Mrs Pert: And knock.
Librarian: And knock, yes. But do they ever have anything to put in the place of things that they destroy? No. It's wanton destruction.
Here's the long answer...

 *******  9 December 2012‎  *******

I created a stub for concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.

 *******  13 December 2012‎  *******

Rubin informally nominates it for deletion..."rarely used term, and the article only consists of a (disputed) definition and a series of (probably excessive) quotes."   I removed the deletion nomination because the "concept is noteworthy enough to warrant an article".

*******  15 December 2012‎‎  ******* 

Rubin formally nominates the article for deletion.

Rubin: PROD reason was: rarely used term, and the article only consists of a (disputed) definition and a series of (probably excessive) quotes; and was removed by article creator. In addition, the rare uses seem to be, with the exception of some libertarian think-tanks, primarily referring to corporate lobbying, rather than the more general concept implied here.

The result of the vote...
2 keep
2 delete
1 redirect

An admin, BWilkins (DangerousPanda), decided to redirect the article to tragedy of the commons.

*******  22 December 2012‎  *******

Xero: You recently redirected concentrated benefits and diffuse costs to tragedy of the commons...however, as far as I can tell, there are absolutely no reliable sources that specify a connection between the two concepts. Also, the results of the AfD were 2 keep, 2 delete and 1 redirect. Yet, there are plenty of reliable sources which support the notability of this concept:

BWilkins: There were actually 2 who mentioned redirect. I felt it was a better choice than the delete it would have been, as per WP:PRESERVE. So why not expand the other term with some of the ref's you provided so that it makes even more sense?

Xero: They mentioned redirect but failed to offer any reliable sources to substantiate their suggestion. That's because it's a concept within public choice theory. It's discussed in the special interests section...which now contains a link that erroneously redirects to the tragedy of the commons. So...given that I seem to be the only active editor who's familiar with the field of public would be great if you could read over those references or take my word for it that CB/DC is notable enough to warrant its own entry.

BWilkins: I'll be happy to go back and change it to delete - which was the only other possible close based on my reading of the ref's and policy-based arguments provided.

Xero: Can you please articulate the shortcomings of the ref's and specify exactly which policy based arguments that you are referring to? As far as I can's a notable concept with numerous reliable sources supporting its notability. It was only proposed for deletion because the editor was unfamiliar with the field of public choice.

Rubin: It was nominated for deletion because X presented no evidence that the concept is notable, or that most of the quotes relate to the concept. He's now created a second article about the same concept under a different name, although, he's added some (unsourced) background, and at least one of the quotes appears to be on-topic. He's created a number of articles which consist only of a dictionary definition and a collection of quotes.

*******  25 December 2012‎  ******* 

Rich: The discussion about deleting "Concentrated benefits and diffuse costs" was closed. The result was to redirect to ToC. Arthur Rubin was correct WRT to the redirect and your efforts to revive the article were disruptive. Please stop.

Xero: Do you know how I can bring this issue to the attention of any editors who might care about the fact that there are absolutely no reliable sources to support the redirect?

Rich: 1. You are missing the point. The discussion about concentrated benefits was closed and a decision was made. Rubin was implementing the decision and you improperly reverted it. 2. The guidance about RS does not apply to creating redirects -- when articles, such as those you created -- lack RS, it is proper to tag them as unreferenced and/or create the re-direct to an article which will cover the topic. 3. The burden to keep the material, when clearly unreferenced or of doubtful relevance, is on you. See: WP:PROVEIT. 4. "This issue" (whatever you mean by this is a mystery to me) is out there for editors to discuss. We do so on talk pages. As these are new articles they do not have followers, so the point is not a big one -- but you can raise them as you wish on WikiProject talk pages. 5. Your articles lack RS. As has been repeatedly stated, they are little more than WP:QUOTEFARMs. The guidance says: "This means that a quotation is visually on the page, but its relevance is not explained anywhere."

Xero: The entry on concentrated benefits and diffuse costs had numerous reliable sources...all of which can be found on the entry on legal plunder. Yet, there are absolutely no RS to support the redirect to tragedy of the commons. They are two completely separate and distinct concepts...concept A and concept B. By redirecting A to B you are saying that A = B when there are no RS sources to support that.

Rubin: The proper (from the point of view of Wikipedia) way of dealing with this would be to move legal plunder to wiktionary, and soft-redirect "concentrated benefits and diffused costs" there. You have not demonstrated the potential of a Wikipedia article on the subject. We would need to have people talking about the concept, not giving examples or consequences.

By that way, a redirect from A to B means only that A should be discussed in "B", not that A is B. May I suggest that you bring up the matter on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Economics, if you want an expert opinion.

You might also bring up the redirect at WP:RfD, but, keep in mind, this would prohibit you from recreating the article in its present form anywhere in article-space, not just under the name, as the result of the AfD was "redirect".

*******  26 December 2012‎  ******* 
My talk page

Rubin: If you think I'm following you around, you're correct. If you want to point to any other editors who are primarily creating articles consisting of quotefarms, with "See also" sections pointing to all articles in a topic, such as public choice theory, I'll follow them around, too.

*******  2 January 2013‎  *******

N2e: Hi Bwilkins. I saw only today that you closed the AfD for Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Concentrated benefits and diffuse costs on 22 Dec 2012.

I did not see the AfD until today, and therefore of course, could not have participated in it. While I regularly teach on the concept of "Concentrated benefits and diffuse costs" in Economics classes I teach at a small liberal arts college, and I could provide additional sources for the concept (if the article existed), I realize it is too late to have that discussion now.

But I have a different question: one about the process of the closure. Since it would appear that no consensus was reached, with about 50% favoring keep and 50% favoring a redirect or delete, what was the rationale under those circusmstances for making a change, and essentially removing the concept from Wikipedia?

I'm not an expert on AfD's, but it would seem that no consensus to make the change occurred in this particular article, and that the article should have remained in place.

*******  7 - 9 January 2013‎  *******

N2e: Hey Bwilkins. That was a serious question, and I am very much assuming good faith. I sincerely do not understand the criteria that was used to close that discussion, as it did not appear to have a consensus. Would appreciate your thoughts.

Herostratus: Hi N2e. Yes I agree that this change was problematical. I see a 3-2 headcount in favor of deleting or redirecting, which is not much of a quorum and not a supermajority, while the delete/redirect camp did not really have the upper hand in the argument either. So you're right. But you know, we have to work fast here, so mistakes like this crop up on occasion.

If the article had been deleted, you could go Wikipedia:Deletion Review. However, it was made into a redirect, so it's different. At any rate, while the concept is notable, the article was not too good, consisting mostly of a series of quoted passages (which are also copyright violations; we are allowed under fair use to quote short excerpts for certain purposes (such as describing/discussing the quoted work), but not to construct articles by pasting together string of copyrighted quotes). I suspect that's a main reason why the article was made into a redirect.

However, it still exists, and the history exists. I made a copy of the old version and put it in your userspace, here: User:N2e/Concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. What I suggest is that you create an improved version (if you want to) off-line, then edit the article and paste your work over the redirect in one edit. If the quality is reasonable I don't think anyone will object to this.

If you want to work on it here on Wikipedia -- say, if you want to ask User:Xerographica, the main editor of the article so far, if to work on it with you -- you can, but then instead of a simple copy-and-paste you have to a more complicated procedure called "history merge", which requires an admin to do. BWilkins or any admin will do this for you.

Xero: Why would you disparage the quality of the entry? Do you not understand how Wikipedia works? It's a notable I created a stub+...which anybody could have contributed to. The problem had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the entry and everything to do with editors and admins editing way outside their areas of expertise.

Here are three entries that I just created...are any of them not up to your standard of quality? If so...then, rather than making the effort to improve them, why not just nominate them for deletion? Better yet...why not redirect them to the tragedy of the commons?

BWilkins: PLEASE NOTE: This was discussed at length further up this page - if it was your intent to continue that discussion, it should have been done there - or at least you should have read it before starting a new section. In my review of the article, and the quality of the policy-based discussions, the article was actually going to be a delete - this isn't a vote, so beginning the discussion with numerical counts is a bit of a red herring - the keep arguments were policy-weak, while the delete and redirect were strong enough to well outweigh the keep !votes. As part of WP:PRESERVE I chose the redirect option. Yes, you CAN take this to WP:DRV if you believe the closure was policy-incorrect

N2e: Hey, Bwilkins. I'm the one who started this Talk page section to ask YOU about YOUR rationale for closing the discussion without a real consensus one way or the other. I was not aware of any discussion higher up in the page, and had not seen it. I think you are confusing the comments of Xerographica with me.
I think your explanation of what was behind the closure answers my question, as does the helpful comment of Herostratus, above. I would be totally in support of poorly written and poorly sourced material being purged from the encyclopedia, at least temporarily, and then it can be re-added when/if it is ever better done by someone who cares enough to do it.

Xero: I cared enough to find all the reliable sources that supported the creation of a stub for a notable concept...a stub that anybody could have contributed to. Wikipedia is a collaborative project. It's based on Hayek's concept of partial knowledge. Expecting people to pop out perfectly polished entries goes against the entire concept of CROWD sourcing. And speaking of WP:BURDEN...where are the reliable sources that support concentrated benefits and dispersed costs being redirected to tragedy? It's been two weeks since I asked Rubin and BWilkins (see section above) to WP:PROVEIT and both have failed to do so.

N2e: Xerographica, as you can see above, I'm partially with you, in the sense that I know that Concentrated benefits and dispersed costs is a viable concept in economics, is notable, etc. As I said, I teach this stuff, and it is in the college textbook I assign to my classes.

Having said that, you should slow down, and self-monitor your behavior so we can all make this encyclopedia better together. Wikipedia will be just fine if it takes a few weeks, or a few months, to get the article back.

As you can see in the discussion above, the administrator who closed the discussion did so based principally on the poor quality of the article. It sounds to me like, based on that admin (BWilkins) and the other commenter (Herostratus), that the article, were it to be improved to meet article criteria, could simply replace the redirect at some point in the future, when some editor or set of editors [[WP:BURDEN|cares enough to ensure that all of it is well-sourced. That could be me, if I get around to having the time to follow the idea Herostratus left for me. But if not, it will emerge in time. But you will hurt your own ability to be constructive in improving the encyclopedia if continue to be disruptive. Relax. Cheers.

Herostratus: Just to clarify, it's not really the quality of the article. For all I know, creating a set of passages quoted from other works is a fine way to get some concepts across. It is, however, also against our rules because it violates the copyrights of the quoted works. Whoever works on the article in future needs to describe the concept in their own words.

Xero: Herostratus, you should really head over to the Wikiquote project and let them know that they are violating copyrights.

N2e, you're not addressing the reason that the article was nominated for deletion in the first place...
PROD reason was: rarely used term, and the article only consists of a (disputed) definition and a series of (probably excessive) quotes; and was removed by article creator. In addition, the rare uses seem to be, with the exception of some libertarian think-tanks, primarily referring to corporate lobbying, rather than the more general concept implied here. - Arthur Rubin
...and again...Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Tax_choice
No sources have been provided that the name is used, and very few of the sources can be verified to discuss the same topic. I would accept a merge somewhere, if relevance is established, once the quotes are removed or placed in footnotes. - Arthur Rubin
...and again? Evidently we have different definitions of disruptive behavior.

*******  6 - 7 Feb 2013‎  *******

Xero: I created the "See also" section and added public choice theory to it. Rich removed it with the following explanation "Jesh, opening a SA section for various economic/political theories is not encyclopedic or constructive."

For those of you who've watched the series, it should be readily apparent just how relevant public choice theory is to the show. In fact, rent seeking should be mentioned somewhere in the article. Actually "Rent Seeking" would be a far more accurate, if somewhat less catchy, title for the show.

For those of you not familiar with Wikipedia See also policy...links do not require reliable sources to be listed...they just need to be at least "tangentially related". Public choice is directly related to this show...and as such, it should be included in the See also section.

Rich: Correction to your quote. It is "...tangentially related topics." [Emphasis added.] The topic of the article is the television show. Not beltway politics, or musings about economic ideas, or poor excuses to add "See also" listings.

Xero: Would an accurate synopsis of the show mention rent seeking?

Rich: No. It is a drama about "Kevin Spacey as Francis "Frank" Underwood, a ruthless politician with his eye on the top job in Washington, DC." Not "Kevin Spacey as Francis "Frank" Underwood, a ruthless politician who considers rent seeking when he evaluates his career prospects."

Xero: Underwood sucks on the tit, he doesn't provide it. Try again.

Rich: I don't care what he sucks on. (Would fellatio be tangentially related to the show and thereby appropriate as a see also?) The topic of the article is the TV show, nothing more than that.

Xero: The topic of the article is the TV show and a strong recurring theme in the TV show is rent seeking. Have you even seen the show?

Rich: As you say, the topic of the article is the TV show. The topic of the article is not recurring themes of the show. Your tangentially related argument does not cut it. Why did I mention fellatio? Well, by your logic, if I take it to an extreme, fellatio is appropriate because it is a type of sexual activity, e.g., it involves sucking on a body part. Tit sucking is related to both breastfeeding and the mechanics of human sexuality because it is sucking on a body part, similar to fellatio. Since the show mentions tit sucking, which has a strong allusion to breastfeeding and since breastfeeding is tangentially related to sexual activity (both pre-partum and post-partum), and since fellatio is a sexual activity, fellatio must be a proper tangentially related see also for the article. (And keep your inquiries as to whether I (or anyone) has seen the show (or read material) to yourself. If I/we answer yes, then you'd likely respond "well, then, you don't understand what you saw/read" and if I/we answer no, you'd have another smart remark about my/our ability to figure out whether this is an appropriate see also.)

Xero: Yeah, you really nailed my logic there. Why don't you watch the show and then come back so we can have an informed discussion on whether breastfeeding or rent-seeking is more relevant.

McDoobAU93: I would agree with Xerographica's statement on reliable sources and the "see also" section, but do we cross into original analysis territory by saying "well I've seen this concept in the show, so we should link to that". If a reliably-sourced critique of the series appeared that mentions that terminology and concept, then I would be all for it being described in the article. I don't think a "see also" section would be needed if the concept were introduced by way of critical commentary on the series.

*******  6 Feb 2013‎  *******

Xero: Speaking of rent-seeking...
Like "Veep," HBO's satirical half-hour, "Cards" remains somewhat coy about party affiliations for no clear reason, but Willimon exhibits a strong ear for the corrupting aspects of politics. Referring to a lobbyist throwing around money, Underwood drawls, "When the tit's that big, everybody gets in line." - Brian Lowry, House of Cards
Willimon clearly is having fun with the writing on this series, and he’s deftly able to make it shift characters and moods with ease. That means Francis isn’t always devouring people. In one scene, we find that he -- like so many others -- owes a great deal to lobbyists. And when he’s shown being threatened to make promises come true, he says to the camera: "It’s degrading, I know. But everybody gets in line when the tit’s that big." - Tim Goodman, House of Cards: TV Review
At a bare minimum...public choice theory should be added to the See also section.

*******  3 Mar 2013‎  *******

Bwilkins bans me indefinitely from Wikipedia

*******  13 Oct 2013‎  *******

Mark7-2 redirects CB/DC from ToC to Public Choice.

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