Writing paper is a classic many to one process. With many authors convening together in a single final result. Final result that should contain several claims, often causally related to each other, reaching a final result, usually in the Conclusions. While this structure is useful it is not always easy (or indeed possible) to merge all the authors point of view into a shared world view. The usual solution to this is either to tone down the statements (finding very general ones), or that some authors suffer the indignity of having to signa paper they don’t fully agree with, or having the group split and produce different papers, with different author lists.
One classical example are the IPCC reports. Those are presented every 6-7 years by the Intergovernmant Panels on Climate Change, and should summarise all the recent findings on climate change and global warming. The report is “the largest and most detailed summary of the climate change situation ever undertaken, produced by thousands of authors, editors, and reviewers from dozens of countries, citing over 6,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies” [wikipedia]. Being written by so many scientists from all over the world leeds to serious problems over what is going to be written in such report. The solution was to accept claims only if a certain percentage of the scientists would agree with it. But this leds to a toned down report that under represents the threats we are facing. With reality being always as bad as, and often harsher than the predictions.
A similar problems happen in the authorship of wikipedia articles. Where many authors present their point of view, and often edit wars erupt. Wikipedia policy to “stay neutral”, and add references to each claim are useful but nowhere enough for the kind of disagreements about the world that are presented among the wikipedia authors.
In this paper we want to suggest that it should be possible to present inside the same article competing views, by presenting them side by side. The main part of the paper should remain co-authored. But when we reach the disagreeing paragraph, the alternative world views should be presented side by side, with the initials of the name of the authors that subscribe to each paragraph in tiny print below it.
Note that not all alternative views should be present, just the Pareto Front of them, as explained in the “Don’t vote, Evolve” paper. In brief this is done by listing all alternative versions of the same paragraph, and letting all the participants sign all the versions they subscribe to. Then we define a version A of a paragraph being dominated by a version B of the same paragraph if and only if, the people who subscribe to A are a subset of the people that subscribe to B. The Pareto Front of the versions will then be the set of all views that are non dominated (there is no other version that dominates them).
1) It is important that the authors don’t subscribe just to one version but to all the versions they feel they can accept.
2) Every person that has subscribed to at least one version will find at least one of the versions he subscribe to being present in the Pareto Front (the proof is trivial and left as an exercise). In this sense the Pareto Front represents the view of the whole community with no tyranny of the majority.
3) Each author that did NOT subscribe to a proposal, cannot have subscribed to any proposal dominated by it (or it would not dominate it). In this way the presented Pareto Front does not just represents competing views but also a minimal division of the group of authors. With people that subscribe only to version A, people that subscribe only to version B, people that subscribe only to version C…, Then people that subscribe to A and B, A and C, …, … . If we have n competing versions in the Pareto Front it will be possible to have 2n-1 groups. Each that represents an alternative point of view.
From a visual point of view, in a static medium the alternative point of view can be shown side by side. In a dynamic medium, one version can be shown with the alternative ones shown as tiny columns on the side. When the reader moves the mouse over them (hovers) the columns would open up into fully readable text (while the previous one closes by the side).