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The Ongoing Destruction of the Sheldon Brown Repository

Old 07-22-16, 04:33 PM
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Leisesturm
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The Ongoing Destruction of the Sheldon Brown Repository

Is it me or has the ongoing annotation, expansion and occasionally re-purpose, of the Sheldon Brown bicycle encyclopedia reaching a critical mass? Does anyone else think that John Allen and John Schubert should just start their own bicycle encyclopedias and leave Mr. Brown's intellectual property unchallenged out of respect to Mr. Brown's unmatched breadth of knowledge and website administration. Wikipedia would quickly become unusable if every new editor used their own byline in an attempt to one up the original author. Allen and Schubert afix their own bylines to every edit and new entry they make and appear to be on a quest to completely re-make the site into their own creation. I ask because, and I've searched, I don't see any reaction to this ... desecration... it's not too strong a word, in my opinion.
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Old 07-22-16, 05:21 PM
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Desecration? Now you have canonized Sheldon Brown and made him a saint, and made his writings Holy Writ?

I think Sheldon Brown's original idea was to have a repository of information--a single site--where fellow enthusiasts could learn as much as he could share.

it seems very much Not in keeping with his idea, to have several different sites ... particularly because the cycling industry advances and so quickly, in ten years most of Sheldon Brown's material will only be helpful to C&V enthusiasts.

I don't see any indication that Sheldon brown wanted to be deified ... want to be the "One True Source." He posted material from and shared credit with other writers while he was alive---why would he or any object if that continued to be the case?

As for "an attempt to one up the original author" that tells us something about you. How is posting more recent and more accurate information a challenge to Sheldon Brown? Do you think Sheldon Brown wouldn't have posted the same info had he not died?

What you are doing by attempting to deify Sheldon Brown will render him irrelevant ... in ten years know one will know he ever existed because no one will bother reading the outdated info on his site---which means cyclists also won't read all the very relevant info on his site, because they will go to the sites with the latest information.

Your attempt to save Sheldon Brown as a Holy Cycling Resource will kill his site.
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Old 07-22-16, 06:19 PM
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Last I checked Sheldon is not a venerated saint.
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Old 07-22-16, 06:23 PM
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Seriously????
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Old 07-22-16, 06:48 PM
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Sheldon Brown's knowledge of bicycling was encyclopedic, but he wasn't prescient. He didn't write about any developments that came along after his death.
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Old 07-22-16, 06:49 PM
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Having met and talked with Sheldon a few times, he certainly had a huge knowledge base that he was happy to share. He also listened to and credited other sources. His site is a testament to his efforts. Like any other information resource, it needs to continue to evolve and grow. While I personally might not prefer the course and direction of his old site, IMHO - it's survival is predicated on that evolution.
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Old 07-22-16, 06:54 PM
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They're just words on the web, ethereal at best. While Sheldon Brown has benefited me greatly as the beginner I am, I'm still thirsty.
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Old 07-22-16, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Desecration? Now you have canonized Sheldon Brown and made him a saint, and made his writings Holy Writ?

I think Sheldon Brown's original idea was to have a repository of information--a single site--where fellow enthusiasts could learn as much as he could share.

it seems very much Not in keeping with his idea, to have several different sites ... particularly because the cycling industry advances and so quickly, in ten years most of Sheldon Brown's material will only be helpful to C&V enthusiasts.

I don't see any indication that Sheldon brown wanted to be deified ... want to be the "One True Source." He posted material from and shared credit with other writers while he was alive---why would he or any object if that continued to be the case?

As for "an attempt to one up the original author" that tells us something about you. How is posting more recent and more accurate information a challenge to Sheldon Brown? Do you think Sheldon Brown wouldn't have posted the same info had he not died?

What you are doing by attempting to deify Sheldon Brown will render him irrelevant ... in ten years know one will know he ever existed because no one will bother reading the outdated info on his site---which means cyclists also won't read all the very relevant info on his site, because they will go to the sites with the latest information.

Your attempt to save Sheldon Brown as a Holy Cycling Resource will kill his site.
Well said!
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Old 07-22-16, 09:31 PM
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Meh, it's nice to have insight that has arisen after his death all in the same location as his brilliance.
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Old 07-23-16, 06:04 AM
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Those that have said Sheldon was a source of immense bicycle knowledge, but he was human are spot on correct. I think he would be fine with the men that have assumed the upkeep, and their updating of the site is just what he had wanted done with his work.

The fact they have their names at, or following anything they add, or change, gives credence to their work in that it gives an identification to who was publishing it, and not presenting it as Sheldon's work. this way, it can stand, or fail, as their product and not from Sheldon. That would seem to be good practice, to me.

Nothing is really lost about what the site is, and was to cycling, by their work at the new, or corrected material. Sheldon was well versed in academic or professional publications from his wife's, and his children's own work in their respective fields. I think he would approve of their methods. You may agree, or disagree as you see fit.

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Old 07-23-16, 06:25 AM
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Sheldon collaborated with many people, including me, to produce the content on his site. I don't see that Allen and Schubert are doing anything Sheldon would disapprove of, or different from what Sheldon himself might have done to keep the pages up to date and relevant. It's not a shrine, after all; it's a knowledge base and needs to change with time.
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Old 07-23-16, 06:31 AM
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To build upon the foundation he so nicely laid is the best way to respect Mr. Brown's contribution to our collective knowledge.
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Old 07-23-16, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Allen and Schubert afix their own bylines to every edit and new entry they make and appear to be on a quest to completely re-make the site into their own creation. I ask because, and I've searched, I don't see any reaction to this ... desecration... it's not too strong a word, in my opinion.
I am not aware of their quest to re-make Sheldon Brown's website. Are they inserting edits, opinions and articles that reflect their long time close association with John Forester and his/their Vehicular Cycling Agenda? Or is it something else?
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Old 07-23-16, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I am not aware of their quest to re-make Sheldon Brown's website. Are they inserting edits, opinions and articles that reflect their long time close association with John Forester and his/their Vehicular Cycling Agenda? Or is it something else?
I haven't searched the whole site looking for vehicular cycling stuff, but I also haven't come across any whenever I've visited. I think this is an example of the 'destruction' the OP is concerned about: Derailer Adjustment

And perhaps this is leaning too far away from Sheldon's style (I think it's relevant information but that's me): Cycle Sense: Why Reflectors Don't Work
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Old 07-23-16, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
If there is a hell, Mine will be spending eternity locked in a room with Shubert, Allen and Forester droning on about bicycle safety
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Old 07-25-16, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Is it me or has the ongoing annotation, expansion and occasionally re-purpose, of the Sheldon Brown bicycle encyclopedia reaching a critical mass?

Notwithstanding the points others have made that web sites aren't holy writ, I hit this point a few years ago. I was re-checking some point or other, and what was on "Sheldon's" site wasn't at all what I remembered. After scratching my head for a few minutes (Was I remembering things that wrong??), I noticed the re-write attribution. At that point I hit the wayback machine -- the re-write had violently changed the meaning of Sheldon's writing.


I haven't been back. Except for the gearing calculator.


If someone wants to make a real change in keeping up with technology, I'd certainly appreciate an update to Spocalc. The new models of hubs and rims have to be looked up individually, often over multiple sites, which really impacts the utility of the Spocalc calculator, IMHO.
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Old 07-25-16, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Notwithstanding the points others have made that web sites aren't holy writ, I hit this point a few years ago. I was re-checking some point or other, and what was on "Sheldon's" site wasn't at all what I remembered. After scratching my head for a few minutes (Was I remembering things that wrong??), I noticed the re-write attribution. At that point I hit the wayback machine -- the re-write had violently changed the meaning of Sheldon's writing.
Hit us with a link man, hard to judge what you can't see.
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Old 07-25-16, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Sheldon Brown's knowledge of bicycling was encyclopedic, but he wasn't prescient. He didn't write about any developments that came along after his death.
Even while he was still alive. I once posted that something on his site wasn't correct. He posted back that I was right and that his site was so large that he couldn't keep it updated.

I've posted a couple of times that, even though it's a simple machine, the world of bicycling technology is expanding faster than I can keep up with. For example, this year Mrs. Grouch and I have both acquired recumbent tricycles with our first 10-speed cassettes. Now 11-speed cassettes are available but (I think) a different rear derailleur is necessary. Mountain bike suspension technology is another whole universe that i know almost nothing about.

I've reached the point at which the more confident a bike mechanic is that he knows everything, the more I question his ability.
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Old 07-25-16, 10:20 AM
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IDK about any where else, Mr Allen has updated, added, to the gears calculator list
products released after St Sheldon's death.
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Old 07-25-16, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Sheldon collaborated with many people, including me, to produce the content on his site. I don't see that Allen and Schubert are doing anything Sheldon would disapprove of, or different from what Sheldon himself might have done to keep the pages up to date and relevant. It's not a shrine, after all; it's a knowledge base and needs to change with time.
Then just do it. The way information is updated, corrected, and expanded on every other kind of encyclopedia platform... without ego gratification. I am not deifying Sheldon, but he was, one has to admit, one of a kind. Attempting to copy his style, humor or approach just looks churlish to me. To do it on the very site he created... well I've had my say about what I think of that.
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Old 07-25-16, 10:40 AM
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Sheldon is not a saint? Didnt he perform a miracle when he turned 3 speeds into 6 by adding another chainring to a SA 3speed hub?

He should at least be Beatified for his efforts.
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Old 07-25-16, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Even while he was still alive. I once posted that something on his site wasn't correct. He posted back that I was right and that his site was so large that he couldn't keep it updated.

........
Many years ago, Sheldon and I had a disagreement on usenet. He said that my idea of doing half-step chainrings "would_not_work" because the gap between the tooth areas would be wide enough for my 6-speed chain to get jammed in between them. I proved in my answer by measuring different chain brands that the Shimano 6-sped chain of the period was just wide enough that this would not be a problem. In fact, I rode this bike for many years without issue, as has the guy who bought it from me.

Sheldon did a lot, but he was not infallible, nor was he eligible for beatification. If you want to keep a holy shrine to his memory, post one online, and copy his old pages for posterity.
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Old 07-25-16, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
Sheldon is not a saint? Didnt he perform a miracle when he turned 3 speeds into 6 by adding another chainring to a SA 3speed hub?

And when he turned water into chain lube.
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Old 07-25-16, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
And when he turned water into chain lube.
And when he filled 1000s of MS Ride cyclists' tires from a single CO2 canister.
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Old 03-10-19, 12:01 PM
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Hi all,

I’m belatedly seeing this. I’m John Schubert, one of the people mentioned in this discussion. I can offer some clarifying facts. ;-)

(1) Sheldon Brown was a good friend. I was his editor for articles he published at Bicycing Magazine. When Sheldon died, his widow Harriet Fell (also a good friend of mine in real life) took over the site.

(2) Harriet enlisted John Allen to update it and keep the information current. They have added a lot of content, and addressed many issues with the underlying HTML.

(3) Some have criticized me because my article “Why reflectors don’t work” appears on the web site. Around 15 or 20 years ago, Sheldon asked me for permission to run that article after it first appeared in another publication. So — that was his decision. I’m glad it remains available, since it’s the only way I know of, to explain to someone how and why reflectors perform, and how they can fail to perform.

(4) I don’t remember having any other of my own material on the web site. If there’s something I have up there and have forgotten about, it would be under Harriet’s direction.

(5) I stopped using the term “vehicular cycling” a dozen years ago, and urge y’all to do likewise. We talk about “bicycle driver behavior,” which has evolved due to key scientific findings, differs from the early notion of vehicular cycling in many helpful and delightful ways. Whatever one calls it, Sheldon was an ardent supporter of it (as is Harriet). It was not the focus of the web site, of course.

(6) I don’t apologize for “droning,” if that’s what you want to call it, about safety. The best way to improve cycling is to lower the rate of injuries and deaths. I suggest y’all check out the CyclingSavvy web site, which is upbeat and pleasant, and full of good information.
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