User:Salix alba

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prog-4 This user has been described as a code poet.

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V This user is a poor excuse for a Vegan.

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Hi. My real name is Richard Morris. Salix alba, the white willow, is a search term I tend to use when working on plant databases. And I'm Salix alba on meta. I was renamed from Pfafrich in Feb 06.

I occasionally use wikipedia in my teaching of A-level computing.

File:Salix alba 3D scan.jpg

Handy links:

Inside interest


  • Wikipedia:Ignore all rules - the most neglected policy on wikipedia. My interpretation, above all we are here to create an encyclopedia, for every action think does this make the encyclopedia better? If so do it to if not don't. But what is a better encylopedia? Often this is not obvious, often not the same as your personal views, often you'll need to lose a bit of ego, but more importantly engage your brain and think.
  • Wikipedia:No angry mastodons - learn the art of hunting on wikipedia.

I am a member of/have interest in


I'm using User:Nageh/mathJax rather than the default mathematical typesetter. This uses the MathJax javascript library and gives quite pleasing results.


I have the following in my /vector.js which adds a few handy links to the toolbox:

addOnloadHook(function () {
   addPortletLink ('p-tb', '/wiki/Help:Formula', 'Help:Formula');
   addPortletLink ('p-tb', '/wiki/Wikipedia:Template messages','List of available templates');
   addPortletLink ('p-tb', '/wiki/Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics','WT:WPM');

The following makes search box open results in a new tab/window

addOnloadHook(function () {
   var searchform = document.getElementById('searchform');
   if (!searchform) return;


Outside interest

I've involved with a permaculture project called Plants For a Future. I'm intrested in creating an colaborative online plant database which information the uses of plants, growing plants and the relationship between plants. We'v a website [1] for the project and been much inspired by wikipedia.

A second interest is mathematics, I've developed an online java applet for visulising algebraic surfaces, a library for parsing mathematical equations, and a 3D polyhedral viewer.

I study Ki-Aikido, in the past I've studied Li style T'ai Chi Ch'uan [2] and have practiced the Five Rhythms. I have 13 initial after my name (21 if you include those in brackets).


Email the Academics!

On three occasions I've emailed an academics to ask for clarification on certain points. In all occasions I've had speedy and informative responses, and in one case a preprint was sent. This could be a model for improving wikipedia-academia links, it avoid the Wikipedia:Vanity problem and Orignial research. If you do decide to email an academic, be courteous, do not assume they know the in's and out of wikipedia policy, and be specific in your request.

Name calling

I seem to be seeing an awful lot of name calling in wikipedia, but that I mean applying tags with negative connotations, be it applying the terrorist tag to Earth First!, calling just about anything which falls under Category:Alternative medicine pseudoscience, calling people (Jim Hoffman) who style themselves 9/11 researchers conspiracy theorist. So much effort goes into fights over these tags. Surely we can do better than that?

To me these tags represent a very black and white view of their subjects whereas the reality is much more complicated. Is there a fixed boundary between a researcher who's scrutinising the governments claims (a much needed public service) and conspiracy. Where is the boundary between Non violent direct action and terrorism.

And pseudoscience. There is an inbuilt implication that only the scientific paradigm is worthy. Even though many of these traditions have served their communities for thousands of years, had their own methods of investigation. We know so little about how ourselves work, why the caring touch can do so much. End of the day different disciplines serve to provide models of the mind, body and spirit. To dispose of one model so quickly and without thinking does a great disservice to the aims of an encyclopedia trying to capture the wealth of human knowledge.

Take Jung who studied that most pseudoscience of pseudoscience Astrology, together with many other traditions. His work gave rise to one of the first personality topographies MBTI closely correlated to the more statistically sound Big5 typography, which in turn has traits strongly correlated with gene expressions. So astrologers may have got a lot wrong, but observed variations which today are begining to be revealed by by genetic. Who'd have though it.

Often what we seem to find is odd balls who made a lot of mistakes (indeed that's the way science often progresses) but do attempt to study fields outside the mainstream, and often uncover something of worth in their travels. Edward R. Dewey is a prime example, devoting his life to studying cycles, he's recently taken a bashing from the rationalist brigade, who seem to want to deny any form of periodic behaviour, leaving us with only a list of different cycles and no overview page linking the topics together. Yes many of Dewey's theories are flawed but sometimes he hit gold.

It might be alright if science itself was perfect, but its scope of investigation is limited. Quantifiabilty works well when the different factors can be easily separated, but the world was not constructed like that, and anything really worthy of study (say how to bring a child up well) has so many interacting variables that our current scientific paradigm is doomed to fail.

p.s. my interest in Jim Hoffman, is that we were both interested in mathematical graphics and he visited my old department once.

One million arguments

About the time when wikipedia reached its 1,000,000 page I had an idea for an interesting April fools sub-title:

Wikipedia: one million articles, one million editors - one million arguments.

Here's my guide to where to find the best arguments on wikipedia.

  • WP:AFD - You run of the mill day-to-day argument. Editors can happily waste days on the hundreds of borderline articles.
  • WP:CFD - slightly more contentious as these effect multiple pages and the overall organization of WP. Inbuilt problems with categorisation as implies binary labels to people and articles, when in reality things are not always so clear cut. The Sorites paradox has much to inform on labelling. These get worse for emotive labels like Category:Terrorist and Category:Pseudoscience.
  • WP:TFD seems quiet now but the great userbox debate caused so much grief, when the rights of people to express themselves conflicted with WP:NPOV.
  • WP:RFD, WP:IFD, WP:SFD generally quiet, often just maintenance.
  • WP:MFD can get very contentious as about non standard pages.
  • WP:DRV when all the above go wrong, for those who just won't let go.
  • WP:GAC WP:GA/R WP:FAC WP:FAR the flipside to deletions - whats best in wikipedia. Generally a more positive discussion although a featured article review can be withering. Great for those of a pedantic disposition. Lovely clash when The Two Cultures of science and humanities clash over inline-citation.
  • WP:ACID most humorous, lots of people vote for their personal favorite topic in the hope that someone else might actually do some work on the page.
Admin and users
  • WP:ANI your one-stop-shop for all manner of arguments, to get here people must have lost their cool, check regulary for latest war reports. Plenty of sub-pages for the more discerning argument watcher.
  • WP:SSP WP:RFCU these get nasty, sockpuppetry is about deceit (pretending to be something you are not). Uncovering sockpuppetry involves accusing users with scant and circumstantial evidence. I've seen a number of good editors leave over particularly bitter cases.
  • WP:RFA wikipedias Miss World, watch the tears, watch the joy, and watch the flack when inside candidates get promoted.
  • WP:RFAR the pinnacle of wikipedia arguments with regular appearances by some of our most well know users who are always getting into scraps.

See also: The Wikipedia FAQK In fact, Wikipedia is the largest and most comprehensive collection of arguments in human history


My Contributions Wikipedia:Database download.

Random Quotes

idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive William F. Buckley, Jr. (nice quote shame about the politics) quote found from the daily Logos Quotes.


Some of the articles I've started.

Plants and environment


Significant contributions



Significant contributions



Significant contributions


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