[seqfan] Re: Wiki deletion: vandalism by another name

Alonso Del Arte alonso.delarte at gmail.com
Fri Dec 4 22:54:13 CET 2009

Robert, bear with me for a minute. When I interviewed Neil Sloane in 2004
for an article in The South End, I asked him a few questions that must've
seemed weird to him. But he answered without any condescension, and thinking
back on his answers reassures me that the kind of trigger-happy deletionism
you're concerned about will never be a problem with the OEIS wiki as long as
the Associate Editors keep Neil's philosophy in mind.

It also helps that Neil has not allowed himself to become mythologized as
some sort of demi-god; if we have a question on some gray area, we can ask
him and he's pretty good about getting back to us; he's not going around
claiming to be on some philosophically grandiose mission while ignoring the
reality of what's actually going on with the project. If anyone tried to put
words in his mouth, he would get called on it. So the prospect of God-Kings
on the OEIS wiki is almost non-existent (wikitruth.info can explain that

I wouldn't worry about A017631-A017640. Just the fact that Neil himself
entered those into the table is enough to reassure me that there is some
significance to powers of 12n + 9. But let's say it was instead some unknown
diletante who added those, and let's say I was considering deleting them. I
would ask the author what is the significance, he or she might say "I read
about it in the paper by so and so in some J." Or if I got no answer, and
couldn't figure out the significance myself, I would put it to this mailing
list, and one of you would figure it out. And even if it got to the point
that I became convinced that the sequence ought to be deleted, I don't have
a delete button to push! The most I could do is add some remark as to my
failure figure out the significance of a sequence.

Base 10 digit-related sequences are harder to defend, but I hope the most
prolific authors of such sequences will realize that it's a simple matter of
explaining why they're devoting their time to the study of the
particular sequence in question, and that they won't be shut down on the
authority of some weird acronym.


On Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 3:50 PM, Robert Munafo <mrob27 at gmail.com> wrote:

> If this bothers people now, it's really going to be a problem in the Wiki.
> Stuff gets deleted from Wikipedia all the time because of
> judgment-calls about "notability". Over time, communities (like that
> which curates Wikipedia) evolve towards an increasingly conservative
> and narrow focus (In Wikipedia's case, they are moving towards print
> encyclopedias of the 20th century).
> In Wikipedia, typical "notability" deletions involve TV episodes and
> other fiction topics; in our domain the common victims will be:
>  - "easy" sequences with no references, or other "trivial" sequences
> (like A017631-A017640 or A021735-A021743)
>  - "recreational maths" sequences -- everyone has different opinions
> on what qualifies, but base 10 digit-related items will probably be
> the first targets.
> The built-in history archives of wiki servers do not help: deletions
> and "redirect"s prevent access to lost content via the "history" tab.
> So it amounts to vandalism to anyone who actually values the
> information.
> Alonso Del Arte wrote:
> >
> > I knew someone was going to ask the author before taking any drastic
> > measures. None of the Associate Editors were chosen with a view to being
> > trigger-happy with the Delete button.
> Franklin T. Adams-Watters wrote:
> > Subject: [seqfan] Re: delete or not delete?
> >
> > I have in fact received a reply from the author, who says "If the
> > remark seems irrelevant or inappropriate under A006093, then I suggest
> > that it be transferred and coupled as an extension to comment of
> > sequence A002385 by David Wasserman".  I am going to do that.
> >
> Vladimir Orlovsky wrote:
> >
> > *It definitely should be deleted.*
> > *Klaus Brockhaus*
> >
> > Q: why `delete`?
> > why NOT contacting author, before doing this drastic mesure?
> > definitely or maybe?!
> --
>  Robert Munafo  --  mrob.com
> _______________________________________________
> Seqfan Mailing list - http://list.seqfan.eu/

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