Person talk:Experience Mitchell (1)

Narratives versus Facts [25 February 2014]

No, narratives are not illegal. But they shouldn't be treated as an alternative to fully fleshing out a good fact list. In general, if I'm working on a page, and I find that I've added all the facts that made up a narrative, I'm going to drop the narrative as needless duplication. I'm going to open a broader discussion of the matter on the watercooler, so I ask that those with opinions on this page pause to collect their thoughts, and simply be prepared to offer them on the WC when that discussion gets opened. --jrm03063 15:39, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Actually the narrative is often more explanatory than a fact, which is necessarily only a summary of the event, and constrained by its format. For example, having a residence fact to reflect just a fraction of the information found in a census entry entered as a source or in the narrative seems redundant and of very marginal use. Further a long list of facts clutters up the page and makes it hard to spot the important stuff that aids in identifying whether the page is the person I'm interested in or not. If it is, I will read everything on the page, I don't need it placed in a fact to attract my attention. The criteria for creating facts seems to rest a little too much on personal opinion of what was important about a person which seems to be driven by people's pet projects: why is their participation in this battle important and not some other battle? So I disagree. I think you have it backwards. --Jrich 16:51, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
I've opened the discussion on the WC, but the choice of narrative over a fact list (assuming they are otherwise equivalent) prevents information from being subject to automatic analysis/checking that can be done otherwise. I simply don't think that a PANDO is going to make it without software that walks over the database looking for consistency problems - and structured facts are the hooks upon which that analysis would work. A narrative costs information, because it can't be interpreted and exploited by software (it's very like language support - where the name of a fact can be changed reliably - but an automatic narrative translator may not produce a sensible narrative in another language). Capabilities of this sort are key to growth of a database that is both large and good quality. If the current presentation of that data creates a cluttered user experience, don't cripple the data - fix the display! --jrm03063 18:29, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
You're about 2.5 million page late with this suggestion and probably another 2.5 million before any convention could get established how to build facts to they can be processed, and software gets written to do that processing. Like your Savage project, you are working backwards. The facts are interesting as part of a person's life, but in aggregate they are pretty useless. People doing genealogy are interested in their ancestors, not such arbitrary collections of unrelated individuals. And it is not going to do away with the need for the narrative. Basically, the bottom line is that somebody has to care that the page is accurate, do the research to find what is right, and invest time to make the page accurately communicate that. The task of merely researching and documenting your various facts to anywhere approaching completion, such as all the soldiers at some battle, or all the people who graduate from Harvard, would take years, and yield what useful analysis/checking exactly? --Jrich 21:09, 25 February 2014 (UTC)