To my mind, this whole discussion doesn't make any sense as it is all grounded on suspect hypotheses.

First, what do you call an essay? I think that for such a work the author must instill selfness in it. As say Montaigne <> "c’eſt moy que ie peins <>". If you take that into consideration, how might you even begin to consider that there are any consensual ordering possible? Actually, a "commissioned essay" sounds more like an oxymoron than anything else.

Concerning the proposed subject, I would advise any person considering answering such a tricksy question to first question its premises. You might even explore the strict opposite question: can any institution ever give enough to a person for all the time dedicated into integrating its expectations? All this time that nothing will ever give back, and not spent in other life experiences that the said institution might not care about but that would be far more enjoyable.

So, to answer the last question, that's not simply your dichotomy which is false, it's the whole underlying premise set your are pushing that is total nonsense. No, you can not provide a well-order <> relation on any set for any property.

Moreover you seems to think that it suffices to drop money to achieve attracting "the best possible essay" in the scope of your nonsense contest. But what if "the best" essay writer in the pool you are targeting will be on the contrary repelled by such a contest?

Now, I'm not against fostering the idea of writing orignal essays around and within the Wikimedia movement. Currently, I don't think we have a clear dedicated project for that, although I come across some of them which are usually stored on Meta <>, in user namespaces <>, or on Wikibooks (for example A Lecture on the Limits of Human Knowledge <>). So maybe a dedicated project for essays might make some sense.


Le 22/11/2017 à 19:05, James Salsman a écrit :
Thanks, Lucas. I am happy to discuss the idea.

I believe that there is strong evidence against the proposition that
the best editors are skilled in writing articles but not essays.

LiAnna and Tighe, do you have any reasons to believe that editors
skilled in composing both articles and essays are not superior to
editors skilled in articles only? Is there a false dichotomy in
believing that one or the other could be preferable to both?

Best regards,

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 6:18 PM, Lucas Teles <> wrote:
Maybe you should first discuss any contest like this with community and
then come with a suitable idea.

Your willingness to invest on this is something valuable and should be used
on a project that fits with WMF goals.


Em ter, 21 de nov de 2017 às 14:19, Tighe Flanagan <>

To echo LiAnna and Wiki Education's take, the Wikimedia Foundation's
education team support activities that get students to contribute to
Wikimedia projects as part of their learning. While the contexts may vary
from country to country and classroom to classroom, the students contribute
according to Wikimedia project norms (neutrality, citations, etc). This
type of proposed assignment/competition seems out of scope and we could not
support it on our end either.


Tighe Flanagan
Senior Manager, Wikipedia Education Program
Wikimedia Foundation

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 11:52 AM, LiAnna Davis <> wrote:

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 1:27 AM, James Salsman <>
I offer $50 USD first prize and $25 for the runner-up for the best
twelve paragraph essay on the topic of whether college students are
likely to pay more in income taxes over their lifetime than the
present value of the entire amount of their college tuition, room, and
board expenses.

This contest is open only to the top 50% of participants in the
Wikimedia Education Program or WikiEd Foundation's student editors.

If there are any objections to this contest, please let me know. If
there are any reasons it shouldn't be communicated to the eligible,
please let me know. I ask both foundations to match my award, taking
the prizes to $150 and $75 if they agree. Thank you!

No. At the Wiki Education Foundation, we focus on teaching students to
write neutral, fact-based encyclopedia articles instead of essays; our
asking them to write essays would be counterproductive given the mission
our program, our organization, and the Wikimedia movement. We will not
support this effort, and ask that you do not reach out to them on your

LiAnna Davis
Director of Programs; Deputy Director
Wiki Education
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