CZ Talk:Lead Paragraph
Needs to be Moved
Done--Michael Benjamin 01:01, 28 February 2007 (CST)
From Talk:Health Sciences Editors
Christo just made an interesting statement of the Jesus talk page and Gareth clarified it some moreconcerning the lead in our articles. For me this seems like what could be a major differentiating feature between WP articles and CZ articles. WP requirements that the lead become an "abstract" "definition" of what is to follow is probably one of the most destructive elements of the writing process. It breaks the flow of an article and more often than not, sets an antagonistic tone for the rest of the article. I would venture to say that this method is not an efficient method for introducing a reader to a subject.
Anyway, considering the controversy that can erupt in healing arts articles, I wanted to see how everyone feels about turning some variation of "the lead is not an abstract" idea into a format that we use on our articles. Matt Innis (Talk) 12:55, 26 February 2007 (CST)
I agree that the lead is not an abstract. It's the introduction and that's not the same. Further, I'd say that the article is not a list-but a narrative essay. I think we have to put our style consensus somewhere pretty quick, or we will be doomed to fight the recurrent battle of edits-people experienced at Wikipedia coming in and "correcting" everything, and then a whole re-establishment of convention. Without some guidelines, they -and people who are totally naive on a wiki, are left adrift.Nancy Sculerati MD 13:16, 26 February 2007 (CST)
- Agree, and it isn't that it is their fault. We are all creatures of habit. I do think we can do this without alienating past WP editors. In fact, I would venture to say that most would be relieved by this type action because I am sure they feel the same way, just some on a less conscious level. -Matt Innis (Talk) 13:20, 26 February 2007 (CST)
- One of the niceties of WP is that there are extensive "manifesto" type pages, describing in some detail the goals and philosophy of the project. It makes disagreements less arbitrary, so that instead of arguing "I think we should make the page x, and you think the page should be y," the argument is "You are not adhering to WP:NPOV, I am making changes to your edit." It's a better place to be arguing, IMHO, less prone to ad-hominem attacks.--Michael Benjamin 18:01, 27 February 2007 (CST)
- I think it's a lot more advantageous to have a body of people interpreting a stated, documented philosophy than it is having ten or fifteen people pointing fingers at each other making insinuations. Larry, the CZ manifesto is brilliant, but seems like the philosophy of CZ is still evolving. I think it needs a little more meat on the bone.--Michael Benjamin 18:01, 27 February 2007 (CST)
- Here's a modest proposal: we should import the WP manifestos and edit them to our liking.--Michael Benjamin 18:01, 27 February 2007 (CST)
- By the way, I think the lead should avoid making unsubstantiated statements, but that it should attempt to summarize in a narrative fashion the concepts presented in the body of the article. Some of the topics are really broad--what should the lead paragraph about anemia say? The concept of a lead probably is more apropos of some topics than others.--Michael Benjamin 18:01, 27 February 2007 (CST)
- Here's another novel idea--I have taken the liberty of creating a CZ:Lead page so we can house all this erudite discussion in it's own home, instead of looking for it on the Jesus page...--Michael Benjamin 18:01, 27 February 2007 (CST)
Having read the archive and this discussion, and the article as it now stands, I am once more struck with how easy it is for persons to misunderstand each other on a wiki, and how difficult synthesis can turn out to be. As a partial solution to one of the ongoing problems, that of the introductory section, may I suggest that a lead is not an abstract, as some seem to think. On the contrary, I think that the Wikipedia tradition of introduction-as-abstract, with the first sentence almost invariably ending up as a definition, is neither necessary, nor good style - and this article originated as a Wikipedia branch. Not requiring that, leaves one free to orientate the reader on what the article is about, rather than to try desperately to give all the relevant information right at the top. This eliminates a large part of the argumentation about the introduction, relegating controversies to the specified sections of the article. The type of lead I am thinking about is along the lines of:
Considering that Christianity has without any doubt been one of the major forces shaping European and Western civilisation in the last two millenia, the biographical facts about the person Jesus - known as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth, on whose life and teachings the religion is based - are surprisingly unclear.
The difficulty arises because the most contemporaneous records of the events of his life - the New Testament Epistles of Paul, and the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - are of a religious nature, and emphasise the spiritual message that the writer wished to convey, rather than the history of Jesus himself. However, the impact of Christianity on history has been so great that the academic study of the life of Jesus, by Christians and non-Christians, has remained active for centuries. As a result the modern reader may discern two distinct histories of Jesus; the one is the rather patchy description of his life story as related in the Gospels, and the other is a group of scholarly argued opinions on what events and actions in Jesus' life are likely to be historically factual.
Most commentators agree that Jesus was a real historical person, a Jew who spent his reported life in the Roman provinces of Galilee and Iudaea - provinces which centuries later were incorporated into the larger area that came to be known as Palestine. He lived between the first decade BCE and the forth decade CE. It is accepted that he was an itinerant Jewish preacher, considered a healer and exorcist, was baptised by John the Baptist before his period of recorded teaching, and was executed by crucifixion on the order Pontius Pilate. Due to the uncertain nature of known documentation about the life of Jesus, many of these claims have been challenged, even to the extent of surmising that Jesus was not a real person at all.
For the purpose of clarity, this biographical article discusses the biblical writings, historical commentaries, and different religious views of Jesus separately.
Sections then: Jesus in the Canonical Gospels, The Historical Jesus, Jesus in Christianity, Jesus in Islam, Jesus in Western culture, etc; or as per other outlines; whatever.
Having described the problem that one has with writing a universal biography of Jesus, it may be possible to rewrite the whole article in a unique (and improved, one hopes) style, illuminating each part of the issue in its own section.
Something of interest to others: Seeing the section on Mandaean Views of Jesus made me recall an article I read recently about the plight of the Mandaeans following all the goings-on in Iraq (). It seems as if what may be current ("M regards...") encyclopedic fact is at risk of becoming historic comment ("M regarded..."). --Christo Muller (Talk) 07:53, 26 February 2007 (CST)
I think Christo makes a good point in the discussion above about the lead "not being an abstract" for the rest of the article. This is certainly a distinction from WP format and I think an important one. However, that lead follows that same format. Combining your comments with Gareth, Larry's and Adams, it seems feasible to create the article and just add a section discussing to the historical aspects of the Jesus that flows with the rest of the article. Whether this is at the beginning or at the end is an editorial workgroup decision that says more about the direction of all of the subjects - whether Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, etc. -Matt Innis (Talk) 10:06, 26 February 2007 (CST) (the chiropractor;)
I think Christo here has elegantly made an excellent point. Escaping from the lead as a summary makes excellent sense in many contexts. I have found it often bizarre how intensely people argue about the lead, as though the lead ecapsulates some kind of editorial judgement. I think we should escape the notion of an article as summating a viewpoint, but embrace the idea that a gateway article is an open and interesting essay introducing different viewpoints and varied aspects of the subject. I think the difference between Adam and myself is actually very narrow, my concern is only that promoting the historical facts of Jesus' life seems to set a disparaging tone for the article, in making this probably eternally unresolvable questions appear to be the most important things about Jesus. I'm not sure that I'd begin any scientific article by starting with what we don't know; it would be more common I think to end with the unknowns, for the same reason. We don't know exactly how many medical interventions work, I think we'd begin by describing the interventions and the evidence that they do work before exploring the unknown mechanisms. It may not be a good analogy, but my feeling is similar, starting an article on breast cancer with an account of what we don't know is not what we would choose to do.Gareth Leng 10:39, 26 February 2007 (CST)
Well, generally (probably not always), we should begin articles about general things with definitions; that's far and away the most important piece of information about general topics, it's what users expect, and it's required in many cases to understand what follows. As to articles about particular things (like Jesus, the Taj Mahal, WWII, etc.), I have always been of the opinion that articles should begin with an account of why the thing is notable. You can't define "Jesus" because "Jesus" is a name.
Neither a definition nor an account of why something is notable, however, requires that we not develop an interesting narrative, from the very first sentence. Indeed, I am strongly in favor of regarding the introduction to a longer article as indeed an introduction to (not necessarily, or always, a detailed summary of) the article, and in any case a kick-off of the narrative that the article embodies. I enjoyed Christo's indented narrative above, and I also appreciate his point that it is more important that we create a narrative than that we try to summarize everything about a topic in a few paragraphs; but I also must agree with Gareth that starting the article with an account (however eloquent) of what we don't know about the topic is inappropriate, not just because it's a negative, but for the quite simple reason that the fact that we don't know much about Jesus (or, many of us think we don't) just isn't even close to being the most important thing about Jesus. --Larry Sanger 13:17, 26 February 2007 (CST)
Sometimes it is helpful to take one's basic assumptions and place them prominently in the article. The one I hear in the new intro goes like this: "The assumption we begin with in this article is that the Gospels are unreliable historical documents and that the millions of Christians who disagree with us on the matter are wrong." Thus it is does not achieve the neutrality to which we should strive. Stephen Ewen 15:18, 26 February 2007 (CST)