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CollaborativeCriticism is the use of a community to critically analyze a work, statement, speech, policy or whatever. While criticism on a fully socially negotiable space like a traditional wiki is just modifications directly to the text, or at least it may be reworked as modifications to the text, not every text is open to such playful criticism. In that case, the only recourse for people is to criticise it externally, through annotations in FairUse. This is kind of a shame because CriticismIsFeedback, and it's best when criticism comes in the form of direct feedback, but DavidForrest's [CriticalResponse] is a nice alternative solution.


I think this is insanely sexy. Have you seen EugeneEricKim's PurpleWiki? -- SunirShah

Thank you! I have a bit of rough working code up at [CriticalResponse] with a few articles set up for this. I'll take a look at PurpleWiki -- DavidForrest

PurpleWiki looks interesting. I think CollaborativeCriticism might be valuble for criticizing static texts, and TransClusion lives more in the WikiNow than the way LiteraryCriticism? is based on an immutable work. The blending of maintaining the static target text and the flowing wiki analysis and criticism might be an interesting idea. -- DavidForrest.

One difference I see between CollaborativeCriticism and the discussions of DebateTool is the posing of the question. CollaborativeCriticism would focus more on a respected, or at least notable fixed work, and the purpose of the collaboration would be to rigorously examine that work. The strong focus on the previously published work may help limit the discussion to the points at hand. Rather than a debate about 'Sensitive Issue X:pro and con' devolving into a thread-mode flamewar, separate examinations of the position papers of Pro-X and Con-X would be possible. My wild supposition is that each organization has position papers, and negative analyses of the opposition's position papers. If the issue is important, the positions of each do deserve analysis and debate. Collaborative criticism of the position papers could help provide balanced and civil discussion of the points. The question becomes "what does the text mean, and how well is that supported/debunked by other material?" rather than "what is the one true answer on issue X?"

For instance, NARAL might provide a FAQ sheet about pro-choice issues. NRL might have anti-abortion rebuttals to the FAQs, and NARAL might have counter rebuttals, and so on. But at each rebuttal cycle, some points will be dropped and others added, eventually resulting in talking past each other in an effort to get their messages out. Limiting the discussion to the original text insures that the original issues are not lost, and that the digressions don't lead too far astray.

Please accept my apologies if that example offends. My explanation is that I am looking for a tool/method to safely and openly examine such LandMine#TouchyIssues.

-- DavidForrest

This point-counterpoint dialogue is also the point of DoubleWiki - though I feel you presented it in a clearer way here. The difference is that with DoubleWiki you have two texts, each is the CollaborativeCriticism of the other. The difference is that CollaborativeCriticism differenciates the original position paper from the criticism of the opposing view. I think this is a good idea, and may be espacially usefull if, as is often the case, there are more than two points of view.

Another point of DoubleWiki is that after your statement is bombarded with criticism, you reformulate it, instead of coming up with a new statement - that doesn't necessarily require a Wiki actually, it already happens. If NARAL puts up a weak and shaky claim on its FAQ, which is then abudently criticized on NRL's site, NARAL may remove that shaky point from its FAQ, or reformulate it in a better way, either of which will likely cause NRL to remove, or reformulate, its criticism - I consider that a good thing, David seems to think it tends to get the discussion away from the point ... if the rebutals and counter rebutals are included in the original text, each party's best interest is still to keep the original text relatively simple and to the point.

I'm not sure that changing the original text is a good way to escape endless debate, but I feel a lot of disagreements stem from terminology issues, so while I don't expect a lot of "OK we admit we were wrong on this", I do expect some additional definitions, clarifications of meaning, changing of wording, etc.

Another advantage of CollaborativeCriticism over DoubleWiki is that it soesn't require people from both sides to participate, so it's probably easier to start up.

So DoubleWiki is also a proposed solution to LandMine#TouchyIssues

-- EmileKroeger

Cool Emile. With keeping the original text, I was hoping that the point wouldn't be a moving target, and if something was criticised as wrong, it would have to be rebutted, admitted, or left unchallenged. Supporters would have the options to add definitions, clarifications of meaning, recantations, but not the ability to change the wording. For instance, Weapons of mass destruction would remain in the original, and defenders would have to argue for redefinition of the term to mean weapons of mass destruction program related activities

Also, focusing on the text as written may tend to cool the debate over LandMine#TouchyIssues, since the points being disputed are statements of the philosophy rather than the philosophy itself. Critics and supporters may well agree that the text contained a misstatement, or the argument contained a flaw, without being forced to agree on the truth or falsity of the thesis. --DavidForrest

Hmmm, I guess this also relies on having a unerasable VersionHistory - which is the thing you have on some wikis and not on, say, NARAL's website. Websites presenting opinions, positions, etc. rarely have "well, we used to put this point forwards but we removed it", or "this part used to say Weapons of Mass Destruction" but it became "Weapons of Mass Destruction program related activities"" - they'll just change it without telling anybody. It's good to allow to ForgiveAndForget (there's no point in continuing to rail against a position somebody used to hold but doesn't any more), but you shouldn't be allowed to reformulate and pretend you didn't.

Maybe an interesting way of doing things would be to "cut up" the text as you did on your Wiki, by adding possible pointers, and allow for different verions of a given text. You can drop some paragraphs, and that will automatically drop the corresponding criticism. The criticism of a point / a paragraph will be the same for all the versions (i.e. if you modify the criticism on the latest version, it will also modify the criticism of the earlier versions that also carry that part), but to see the criticism of points that have been dropped, you have to move back to earlier versions (which will be usefull if the new paragraph is almost the same as the old one - you can just copy the criticism).

I wonder if PurpleWiki could do something like that.

But then I'm probably sliding off subject, since the point of CollaborativeCriticism isn't really to modify the original text but to come up with a good criticism of it ... or it depends, whether the original writers are there or not ...--EmileKroeger

Hmm, It might be easy with SubPages -- you could name the various versions DocumentText?20040130 and the criticisms .../Pxxx and hunt things up through searches. Reorganizations of the text could be ugly though.

I guess I think there are cases where, because the relationship of the authors and the criticizers is asymmetrical, ForgiveAndForget shouldn't apply. A peer deserves a level of ForgiveAndForget, but someone or something asserting power or reputation deserves less forgetting. The psychic Jeanne Dixon's public record should be open to criticism, and Jeanne herself could play a role in criticism of past predictions by pointing out recantations or explanations. Public figures or entities present themselves and their positions in an asymmetrical relationship, and the public should be able to have a long memory and be more demanding and less forgiving. If you ForgiveAndForget that your neighbor was a racist you should have a higher standard to ForgiveAndForget that your senator was also one. CollaborativeCriticism could balance the asymmetry between a public figure and the public. --DavidForrest

This can be more than a tool for criticizing those in power - it can also be used to collectively comment on documents such as drafts of laws, the US Constitution, etc. In these cases the assymetry does not derive from a difference of power but from the fact that the document is "permanent". I think it would be really good if there was a tool to collectively scrutinize every law that has been passed, adding links to newspaper articles on the causes of the law, or to transcripts from debates on the law, or who voted for it, or in what cases it was applied, or what equivalent laws exist in other countries .... A Wikioid may not be the good answer for that, though. If such a system is successfuly built, and sufficiently used, things may change for legislative bodies -- EmileKroeger

Yes yes. I suppose the non-wikioid needs of such a system you hint at would be some access control for authoritative group. I think there still remains a collective collaboration sense to the process of criticism and comment that is similar to wiki building, but also it would need some form of automated commenting, such as back-linked cases citing the law, or reputable news sources. Think of all the cases, news and personal gripes about the takings issue in the constitution, article 1, section 8 and the 5th amendment. ClayShirky has an interesting article on the benefits of not scaling to large systems -- http://www.shirky.com/writings/situated_software.html -- maybe large benefits could be gained by smaller groups of interested people using smaller systems to comment on topics that interest them. -- DavidForrest

I found http://www.newswithviews.com/news_worthy/news_worthy50.htm as an example of one author attempt to point-by-point analyze Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. As a 'fisking' it is first level SnipingCriticism, immutable by the original author and other readers. The critic may have a few good points, but they are easy to ignore and lose track of. CollaborativeCriticism would allow revision of the remarks and extension of the arguments while still focusing on the points made by the initial author. --DavidForrest

Make it first and you will see what it can be used for. I posted a proposal to make a TWiki plugin that implements the general idea of a wiki used for exploring and developing complex arguments (not yet implemented). Find it at http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Plugins/DialecticsPlugin --DavidBourget?

I think this needs a different kind of abstraction (it's a kind of typed backlink, maybe defined within the framework of WikiVirtualData, rendered in definable template-sidebar system) and some implementation optimizations. WikiFractality may provide an additional framework. If you connect this to a SVG graph display (like for example Beat's Biblionet does, ProWiki in preparation) this would be an impressive tool. -- HelmutLeitner

See Also:

CategoryCollaboration CategoryPoliticalAction


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