Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wikipedia Shenanigans

Over the last few years I've repeatedly referred to something called the "point-line-plane postulate". In a nutshell, this postulate says that you can use the logical relationships we're familiar with from a point (which we can call dimension "x"), a line (dimension "x+1") and a plane (dimension "x+2") as a way to visualize any number of spatial dimensions, simply by taking that "x+2" dimension, conceiving of it in its entirety as a point, and repeating the process.

On October 6, 2012, a wikipedia administrator called "Explicit" deleted the wikipedia article on the point-line-plane postulate. Here's a link to Explicit's page on wikipedia:

As you'll see if you go to the above link, this person describes themselves as an expert on "music-related articles, where I focus on biographies, albums, songs and discographies relating mostly to R&B, hip hop and pop articles." What possible reason, then, could this person have to delete an article about a basic postulate from geometry?

Not sure how long this link will work, but here's the wikipedia page identifying Explicit as the one who removed the entry:

Since there now appears to be no way to view the previous versions of the point-line-plane postulate page, I accept that what Explicit deleted may already be a page which had been recently modified in some offensive or unacceptable way. But to delete an article that has been up on wikipedia for years? I have to wonder if Explicit even bothered to look back at the revision history, to see that this article was long considered by the wikipedia community to be fine. What's going on here, Explicit? I'd love to know.

Update: After publishing this article several friends have sent me this link:
which includes this explanation from Explicit (a music expert) on why they deleted the entry:

there are no reliable sources for this article since it is mathematically incorrect in several ways, as is the You-tube video from which it comes

I have 2 questions for Explicit:

- this is a geometric postulate which has been on wikipedia for at least the last four years, that was when I first stumbled across it. It is referenced on a number of other sites, in what way are you qualified to say this geometry postulate is "mathematically incorrect"?
- this postulate was posted by other experts long before I came across it, for you to say it "comes from my video" is absurd. What's next? Are you going to delete wikipedia entries referring to Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation just because I talk about this concept in my videos?

It seems clear now that someone recently added a link to one of my youtube videos on this wikipedia entry and that's what made Explicit delete this entry. Explicit, if you are truly interested in the dissemination of knowledge, then revert this page back to whatever the previous version was and stop trying to suppress this information. To remove this legitimate entry does a disservice to the wikipedia community as a whole. Shame!  

Update 2:
Thanks to Redmonkey who in the comments for this entry sent a link to a typical entry about this postulate, this one from a University website:


Anonymous said...

Here is says (..) there are no reliable sources for this article since it is mathematically incorrect in several ways, as is the You-tube video from which it comes. I'm no expert in geometry, but how is a musician wikipedia administrator allowed to remove something out of his domain?

Redmonkey said...

Hi Rob. I added this criticism of Explicit's deletion to his talk page:

"Even a cursory search on the internet for the "point-line-plane postulate" reveals ample support for it as a valid mathematical concept. For example, it is included in an Andrews University publication entitled "A Review of Basic Geometry": Even if the article was flagged by another user, shouldn't it be your duty to check if the complaint is valid before deleting the page? Your refusal to revert the deletion only confirms a deep commitment to ignorance and not knowledge. --Kairos1919 (talk) 10:30, 19 October 2012 (UTC)"

Its absolutely absurd that a pop music specialist has the authority to delete a page on mathematics.

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