Workflow - Handling Ripple Effects

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As modifications to the body of scientonomic knowledge are introduced, they often affect not only those elements that are explicitly mentioned in the suggested modification but also other elements. For instance, there appear to be cases where a change in the definition of a certain term may have a ripple effect on other accepted theories which use that concept. In an ideal world, a modification that suggests the acceptance of a new theory should identify all epistemic elements affected by this modification. However, since scientonomists are not omniscient, it is virtually impossible to identify all of the necessary changes to the body of scientonomic knowledge at the moment of the publication of the modification. Thus, some of these changes happen as a ripple effect following the acceptance of the respective modification (e.g. modification Sciento-2018-0005 and modification Sciento-2018-0008) and remain undocumented in the encyclopedia. This leads to inconsistencies between the actual scientonomic body of knowledge accepted by the community and how that knowledge is presented in the encyclopedia. The question is how such situations are to be handled. Specifically, should the editors be granted a permission to make the necessary adjustments for the sake of maintaining consistency, without the need for explicit review and acceptance of these additional changes? Or should any such changes go through the regular scientonomic route, i.e. should they be presented as new suggested modifications?

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Paul Patton in 2019. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community.

In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is:

  • Scientonomic knowledge is best advanced by:
  1. documenting the body of accepted communal knowledge in an online encyclopedia;
  2. scrutinizing this accepted knowledge, identifying its flaws, and formulating open questions at seminars, conferences, publications, and other in-person or online formats;
  3. publishing journal articles that propose modifications to our current knowledge and documenting these suggestions;
  4. evaluating the suggested modifications with the goal of reaching a communal consensus and changing the respective encyclopedia pages when a verdict is reached.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 September 2019The question became accepted as a legitimate topic of scientonomic inquiry as a result of the acceptance of modification Sciento-2018-0008.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Handling Ripple Effects - Editorial House Keeping (Shaw-Barseghyan-2019)The encyclopedia editors should be granted official housekeeping rights to handle the ripple effects. If the additional required changes are implicit in the suggested modification, the editors should create and alter encyclopedia pages to ensure that the accepted body of scientonomic knowledge is properly documented; if it is conceivable to accept the modification without accepting the ripple effect change in question, the editors should register these changes as new suggested modifications so that the community can discuss and evaluate them in an orderly fashion.2019

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Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyHandling Ripple Effects - Editorial House Keeping (Shaw-Barseghyan-2019)25 February 2023

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Date Assessed Verdict Verdict Rationale
Sciento-2019-0006 Scientonomy 22 December 2019 Accept that the encyclopedia editors are to be granted official housekeeping rights to handle the ripple effects. Also accept that if the additional required changes are implicit in the suggested modification, the editors should create and alter encyclopedia pages to ensure that the accepted body of scientonomic knowledge is properly documented; if it is conceivable to accept the modification without accepting the ripple effect change in question, the editors should register these changes as new suggested modifications so that the community can discuss and evaluate them in an orderly fashion. 25 February 2023 Accepted The decision was made during the 2023 workshop. Hakob Barseghyan emphasized that this modification does not grant permission to alter the body of scientonomic knowledge but simply to ensure that the pages of the encyclopedia reflect the actual state of scientonomic knowledge and that the scientonomic knowledge is stored in the most appropriate manner. Among other things, this is to handle the so-called ripple effect. Barseghyan mentioned that, while working on the encyclopedia with Paul Patton and Izzy Friesen, they had discovered several instances of ripple effect that resulted from our human lack of omniscience (e.g. a theory was supposed to be listed under Theories to Accept of a modification but wasn’t; a theory was actually accepted by the community but there was no record of it in the encyclopedia, etc.). Hence, according to Barseghyan, it would make sense to grant the editors the necessary right to adjust the respective pages to handle its consequences. Deivide Garcia wondered how such very small modifications can be tracked. Barseghyan responded that the changes in question are not meant to concern the body of scientonomic knowledge (thus, these are not modifications in the standard scientonomic sense), but are only to ensure that the encyclopedia reflects the current state of scientonomic knowledge and organizes that knowledge efficiently. Kye Palider highlighted the issue of transparency: how will the community be notified about such changes? Barseghyan suggested that an annual housekeeping paper is to be published in the Scientonomy journal as a collective report on changes to the encyclopedia. The modification was accepted.

Current View

In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is Scientonomic Workflow (Barseghyan et al.-2016).

Scientonomic Workflow

Scientonomic Workflow (Barseghyan et al.-2016) states: "Scientonomic knowledge is best advanced by:

  1. documenting the body of accepted communal knowledge in an online encyclopedia;
  2. scrutinizing this accepted knowledge, identifying its flaws, and formulating open questions at seminars, conferences, publications, and other in-person or online formats;
  3. publishing journal articles that propose modifications to our current knowledge and documenting these suggestions;
  4. evaluating the suggested modifications with the goal of reaching a communal consensus and changing the respective encyclopedia pages when a verdict is reached."

    Scientonomy Workflow with Captions.png

    The key stages of the workflow are:
  • Pose Questions: The goal of this stage is to scrutinize the current state of the scientonomic theory and our knowledge of scientific change and identify as many open questions as possible. The annual seminar on scientonomy hosted by the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology is currently the main venue facilitating this stage of the workflow.
  • Suggest Modifications: The goal of this stage is to advance our knowledge of scientific change by proposing modifications to our current body of knowledge. These suggested modifications are published and properly documented. These modifications are currently published in the Journal of Scientonomy but, in principle, they can be published in any journal which makes use of the scientonomic mechanism of modifications. Once a modification is published, this encyclopedia documents that suggestions and invites experts to review it.
  • Evaluate Modifications: The goal of this stage is to assess the suggested modifications and decide which of them are acceptable and which are not. This is done by the community of scientonomists on the respective discussion pages of this encyclopedia. If a consensus emerges, the fate of the modification is documented. If a modification causes disagreement among scientonomists, it becomes a topic of discussion during scientonomic workshops, which aim at bridging the gaps between opposing parties and arriving at consensus.
  • Document Changes: The goal of this stage is to document all the changes in our communal body of knowledge. If a modification is considered acceptable by the community, then the respective articles of this encyclopedia are modified to reflect that change. If a modification is considered unacceptable, then the respective verdict is documented for that modification.

The primary role of this encyclopedia in the scientonomic workflow is to document the current state of scientonomic knowledge, trace all suggested modifications, and list open questions.

Here is an outline of the main stages of the scientonomic workflow:

This workflow gives researchers a simple way of knowing where the community stands on different topics, i.e. what theories it currently accepts, what open questions it tries to answer, what modifications have been proposed and how they have been assessed. It ensures that our communal knowledge is advanced in a piecemeal and transparent fashion:

  • Piecemeal: modifications to the communal mosaic are suggested one by one, which allows for a sober critical evaluation of these suggestions by the community.
  • Transparent : suggested modifications and their evaluations are properly documented, so that there is no mystery as to whether, when, or why a certain modification was or wasn't accepted.

The workflow is scalable, as it can - in principle - be implemented in other fields of digital humanities and beyond.

Related Topics

This question is a subquestion of Scientonomic Workflow.

This topic is also related to the following topic(s):