Profound Argumentation

23:40 Mon 22 Oct 2007
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Or maybe not… This evening I found myself perusing the WP:LAME page on Wikipedia, home to what the editors have chosen as the “lamest edit wars”. And wow, people do get very, very involved in long-running disputes over amazing things.

Some of these things are understandable, like ongoing disputes over the article about Liancourt Rocks, a group of volcanic rocks whose ownership is a long-running dispute between Japan and Korea. I can see how that would go on a long time, each side trying to tilt the article in their favor. I can also see how people would argue long about the correct spelling of the city I’ll refer to as Gdansk.

But some of the other things… The dispute over whether to use the title “gasoline” or “petrol” for the fuel. American Libertarians trying to delete the article on Libertarian Socialism because according to their definition of “libertarian” it’s a contradiction in terms and cannot exist. Numerous arguments about the birth years of celebrities. The height of André the Giant. The heights and weights of various characters from the Street Fighter videogame franchise. How to spell “Brazil” in the English language. The capitalization of danah boyd‘s name. Many conflicts between American and non-American English spellings—and other differences, including one of my favorites, whether “Angels and Airwavesis a band or “Angels and Airwavesare a band.

Oh, and how to translate Mozart’s Leck mich im Arsch canon—should it be “ass” or “arse”?

How about ‘a revert war on whether the tiger can properly be described as the “most powerful living cat” (complete with accusations that people were “tiger fanboys”) gradually led to arguments about how tigers would match up vs. bears and crocodiles, complete with another revert war about the inclusion of a YouTube video showing a tiger fighting a crocodile, eventually leading to the article being semi-protected. The debates about bears and crocodiles continue on the talk page‘ ? (And let me just say that tigers are the COOLEST EVAR.)

It’s quite amazing, really. People clearly get very emotional about these things. I wonder if they get more emotional because they’re sure that they’re just being neutral, just presenting what is obviously true, and their opponents are therefore clearly lying, or deluded, or both.

Unmentioned on that page, but a personal favorite, is the Talk: 0.9999…./Arguments page, wherein various commentators dispute the fact that 0.999 infinitely recurring is equal to 1. Although perhaps those arguments (or some of them, at least) actually do deserve the descriptor “profound”.

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