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Re: [ontolog-forum] Tighter control of ontolog forum?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 11:55:16 -0500
Message-id: <497F3C74.4090503@xxxxxxxx>
Chris Welty wrote:    (01)

> I know there are many in ontolog who prefer a purely open forum, but I think 
> failure of SUO and the continuing nonsense in this forum - which make it the 
> butt of many jokes and keeps a lot of otherwise serious ontology people away 
> include myself in this category, you may argue with the "otherwise serious" 
>   - are evidence that the open model doesn't work here.
> This forum is not taken seriously because it is too open.      (02)

I beg to differ.  This forum is not taken seriously, I agree, but simply 
because it clearly has no goal!  There is no objective.  There is a lot 
of discussion of sometimes interesting topics, by both the educated and 
the under-educated, but there is no agreement on any path of action.  If 
we identified a few goals and kept the spam streams on topic toward the 
goals, then anyone with interest in the goals would be a valid 
contributor, however curious his/her background knowledge and opinion. 
But what we get is good topics and long sequences of exchanges with no 
identifiable result.  (At least the wiki may capture some of the 
worthwhile content in a useable form.)    (03)

I have difficulty, BTW, taking several of the "semantic web" email lists 
seriously for the same reasons.  Those in question have a nominal goal, 
but they tend to be little more than verbal wars between educated but 
prejudiced camps who will never agree on an approach to the nominal 
goal.  And they also are the butts of various jokes, with telling 
analogies to boxing, football and cricket.    (04)

The question that remains for me is whether the clumsy process of 
educating each other has value in itself.  There are no stupid 
questions.  Uneducated questions teach the educated what the general 
state of knowledge and confusion is, and where the limits of their 
education and "common knowledge" are, and give the experts an 
opportunity to justify their pride-in-knowledge by teaching.  And a lot 
of projects that prove to be erroneously conceived or executed can still 
provide interesting ideas and object lessons to others.  An aphorism 
(whose origin I don't know) goes:
  "You have to learn from the mistakes of others;
   you won't live long enough to make them all yourself."    (05)

So I think Chris's criticism is fair, but the wanted improvement is not 
to close or edit the discussion.  It is rather to direct it toward some 
identifiable results.  Peter occasionally tries to do this, but largely 
without success.    (06)

Of course, this is just MNSHO. An open forum provides space for many 
soapboxes.  Chris and I just have different ones.  ;-)    (07)

-Ed    (08)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (09)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (010)

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