Talk:John Betjeman

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Quotes reduced[edit]

His poems are still in copyright. There needs to be minimum use in order to claim fair use. It was excessive - Licorice Fields at Pontefract was used in its entirety. This is not acceptable. In Ireland with Emily also had excess quotes and I have removed it, as it is not his best known poem. There are others more deserving. Withdrawn per Invisible Sun below. Substitute reason: "professionalism in editing: brevity whenever possible; choosing the pithy over the banal; and so on." Tyrenius 14:39, 24 January 2007 (UTC) Tyrenius 03:37, 24 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I'm going to have to object very strongly to some of the assumptions being made here. I don't have a problem with differences over how much of a poem can be kept for copyright considerations, although there's never yet been a consensus on how much or how little of a poem can be retained. Generally speaking, the shorter a poem is the harder it is to make cuts without spoiling it entirely. Nevertheless, it's better to err on the side of caution; and we are inclined to accept any objections made on that basis.

On the other hand, Wikiquote doesn't restrict itself to a "familiar quotations" premise. Editors have the option of personal preference; it could even be said to be encouraged to a great extent and is part of what makes our project distinctive. The requirement of notability refers to the person being quoted; it does not mean selecting only the better-known quotations. We're not here simply to be another Bartlett's or Oxford, as there's little purpose or achievement in doing what others have already done.

There's even less purpose in any one person as arbiter over what is "best known" or most "deserving." Our standards are not encyclopedic in the same way as those of Wikipedia. We include, of course, what most people coming here would be entitled to expect when they look up someone's sayings; but it's not as if any one person can say "Most people are not all that familiar with this one, or that one, or that one; so I'll strike them." What you would end up with, based on such arbitrary restrictions, is people objecting to what they don't know already, for that is in effect what is meant when people decide on what the public supposedly knows or wants or accepts. It would be hard, I think, to conceive of a more debilitating or even fatuous standard of selection. It would be just as plausible, and a good deal more generous, to argue that people, when asked why they read quotations, would answer that they are looking for the surprise and stimulation of finding something new among the familiar.

There are not, in essence, all that many reasons for removing a quotation from a Wikiquote page. Those reasons, generally speaking, are: vandalism; quotes that have been plausibly shown to be false or misleading out of context; representing one particular facet of a notable person at the expense of the entire article; copyright problems; bad translations; repetitiousness; "editorial" comments; proselytizing; etc. There are also some general standards for professionalism in editing: brevity whenever possible; choosing the pithy over the banal; and so on. We 're willing to remove a page of nothing more than inane or trivial quotes, but otherwise we're far more willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

Our overall standard for quotations is accuracy; so long as it can be demonstrated that a quotation is real, then it is valid in spite of anyone else who might say "I don't think it's all that deserving. I don't find it encyclopedic. I would have made other choices." These are not in themselves grounds for removal. We are determined to ward off the curse of Wikipedia, the edit wars that begin when someone decides he knows better than others what gets to be included. It's one of the reasons we're striving to find our way here, since Wikimedia guidelines offer only a partial guidance for our daily tasks, our practices, our principles. We give a good deal more leeway to inclusion, finding it ultimately the wiser choice in spite of all the usual objections. We would rather be too indulgent on the choices of quotations than to reject them because they would not be suitable for Wikipedia or for standard books of quotations. - InvisibleSun 06:43, 24 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

This article had severe copyright problems. The entire poem of "Licorice Fields at Pontefract" was used. I also consider the shape of the article was distorted by a hefty quote from "In Ireland with Emily". I take your point about the differences from Wiki and am glad that there can be room for some individual flair in the exploration of quotations. I shall certainly bear that in mind in future.

But as well as additions, there surely has to be room for subtractions from an overview of the subject. Otherwise, what you are effectively saying is that we can keep on adding, but not removing. It's sort of "first come first served", and then what's there stays untouched, but more can be piled on. An article then gets bulkier and bulkier, which makes it harder to read and understand, as well as breaching copyright fair use. T.S. Eliot is a case in point, where it is not so much the selection of quotations as condensing of poems into mini versions of them. Quotes should be particular notable lines and short sequences, not large excerpts of favourite passages. If so much is included that it effectively replaces the original (like a Reader's Digest version) then it is blatantly violating copyright. Addition without subtraction will inevitably lead to this.

An editor's job is to reduce as well as to increase for another reason also, because an editor's job is not just to see quotes in isolation but also to form an overall shape to the article, so that quotes sit appropriately with each other in balance.

I quite agree with you about edit wars, and have never indulged in them. Had my changes been reverted in entirety, then I would not have reverted them in return, but discussed. I have no objection to some of my revisions being undone. I think through this process of collaborative work there emerges a better synthesis. Although wiki edit wars are a nightmare, I have nevertheless observed that the final result ends up superior to the starting point. Making changes is a means of discussion. Is there anything in particular that you think should not have been changed? If so, the process of a Wiki allows things to be replaced very easily. I see this form of interchange as a desirable collaboration to work through thesis and antithesis to a synthesis. It does not have to be a war. I am not saying, "I am right and anything else is wrong". I'm saying, "These are my thoughts - what are yours? We can learn from each other to a position neither of us would reach in isolation."

Tyrenius 14:39, 24 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

As mentioned before, I don't have a problem with the reductions for copyright concerns. When I turned what was a stub article for Betjeman into a larger one, I used quotes from half a dozen of his works. For this reason I would still argue that the quotes were not a copyright problem: they were scattered quite sufficiently thin for fair use. An IP editor then added the Pontefract poem, which I must confess I neglected to look up online to see how much was being quoted. The problem with books of poetry, of course, is the inevitable "Collected Works" tome, in which previous volumes are now one book and could therefore bring up copyright concerns all over again.

I would like to go over and discuss the revisions I'd suggest regarding your edit; but before doing that, I thought it might be better at first to deal with larger questions raised here.

You expressed a certain incredulity at the notion of Wikiquote pages being merely cumulative, without a balancing principle of shaping or controlling. I'm afraid, then, to have to strain your incredulity further: but no, we don't yet really have any such practice, however much we would prefer it to be otherwise. We all tend, of course, to have a personal interest in certain genres, which we look to in particular and work on more intensively. Essentially, this is still the collecting phase of Wikiquote. The average contributor is here for one purpose only: to add quotations. He couldn't care less about the development of a readable article — or even basic editing skills, for that matter. There are precious few people, whether sysops or others, to try and manage things; and we spend most of our time dealing only with the basics of patrolling, reformatting, organizing, sourcing, working on projects, etc.

The problem, as I'm able to see it, is that there is no real Wikiquote equivalent to the Wikipedia concept of a page which forms a narrative. A narrative needs shaping, weighing, trimming to create a coherent story. By comparison, a Wikiquote article is a storehouse of quotes. We arrange things according to a few basic guidelines: chronology, sourced vs. unsourced and so on. We have no concept, however, let alone any practice, of weeding and tossing out quotes because a page would be better without them. It shouldn't be so, you would say, and maybe one day it might all be different. But as of now, the only trimming and deletions we make are for much more rudimentary concerns. We deal with the vandals and hoaxers. We vote throw out some unnotable or ill-conceived pages. We mark pages for potential copyright problems. We deal, as best we can, with obsessives, the ones who would treat articles as if they owned them (not always successfully — check out the Anthony Burgess page, a little fiefdom if ever there was one).

You're right to be concerned about the ghastliness of bloat: it makes for unreadable pages, not to mention other concerns. Take Henry David Thoreau, for example. No copyright concerns: and what is the result? A page so gargantuan it had to be made into two, one for Thoreau and one for Walden. Did it solve the problem? Of course not. Now there are two unwieldy pages — and so it goes. - InvisibleSun 17:40, 24 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Obviously I'm new here, so I hope I'm not causing too many waves. I now understand some of the difficulties and scarcity of editors etc. I'm trying to gauge consensus - but one of the quickest ways is obviously to be bold! I see that you are not generally going for overall article shape, but as it is something eventually desirable, surely there is no problem if an editor wants to start paying attention to that aspect (It's second nature for me...)? It's also fairly instinctive to try to extract the essential, key, memorabe text (i.e. "a quote") and excise that which pads it. I'm not going on a one man crusade, but I'd like to know community response and if I need to amend my approach. I might also point out at this stage that I see bold text as lack of editorial precision. If something is more important and needs to stand out, then that is "the quote", and the non-bold text should not be there. As it is, the bold looks ugly and is not a good relationship with the reader, as it is an instruction which interrupts the flow of easy reading. I've reinstated some of "Emily in Ireland". To me, this is the optimum passage. Tyrenius 19:02, 24 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I think quoting the entire copyright poem can be copyright infringement in some jurisdiction. At least in Japan so. w:Waka, 31 syllable poems, are such; if you quote it not in a critical writings but only to say "I love it", without explicit permission of the copyright holder, in Japanese jurisdiction it violates the copyright. That is why Japanese Wikiquote bans all copyrighted materials ... it is alike fair use in my understanding. I don't know what the US Court has said, but in my understanding to quote the whole work without clear necessity isn't within the scope of fair use. --Aphaia 16:24, 1 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

It's a good point about not just familiar quotations. I shall certainly aspire to find the memorable but unfamiliar.--Poetlister 22:56, 13 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]