Wikipedia

Wikipedia

My latest distraction was a three-day wikipedia editing binge. It's addictive: you see something to fix, then see some interesting related articles which also have items you can fix, and so on...kind of like coding.

For example, I started out editing the article on the Salt Lake City Chinatown, then added it to the article on Chinatowns, then from there looked at the Chinatown in Portland, Oregon, and added some info there...

But it is the Internet and a form of social media, so it's going to get annoying. Like the nut who objected to all the references to Chinese in the article on Hanja (Korean use of Chinese characters, like Kanji in Japanese), calling the previous writer a sinophobic idiot. He seemed to be saying that Simplified Chinese has been around forever and that Traditional Chinese is a modern invention, which would be true in opposite universe.

I suppose if I was a real wikipedier (wikipedian?), I'd just revert that edit, but I can't gear myself up for an edit (or name-calling) battle, and it goes against my general policy of avoiding the unhinged (one reason I'm not on twitter, anymore).

And I don't like having my edits reverted, either. But just in the past few days, I had one edit overwritten with probably a better edit but accompanied by a snarky comment, while another edit of mine was reverted by a nicer comment, but it's not explained why my addition to the Cricitism section on Epic (of Unity CEO John Riccitiello claiming Epic is bribing developers to use Unreal with their megagrant developer fund) was "undue." Wait, the Criticism section is only supposed to be valid citicism? Then Wikipedia has a real problem.

Those reverts were made by longtime wikipidiers, which brings up the core of the problem: I never really liked working with editors, dating back to the days at my high school newspaper, when the editor of my section rewrote my article and then I got a bad grade on it.

Now, I did work with a couple of editors at Apress who assured me my work was my work and they were just offering suggestions, but most have been like the other editor there who complained strenuously when I refused to accomodate, yet said he didn't have time to provide references for the "industry standard" format he wanted.

Which is pretty odd for a publisher of technical books, but that seems like a cultural issue in editing, where editors feel it's their job to edit and not explain or even inform (I was dismayed as class secretary to see, six months later, my class notes rewritten in the college alumni magazine).

I like reading writing guides in the same way I like reading programming language manuals, and I spent a year listening to the Grammar Girl podcast because it delved into multiple sources like The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Handbook for each writing question. But even the Wikipedia editing tips don't put much emphasis on being able to defend your edits. It's like those coding style fanatics who can't explain why their style is the one style to rule them all (I did get a "I don't have time to look it up" from one Hungarian notation proponent).

So I'm ending my brief flirtation with Wikipedia the same way I ended over ten years ago (after my addition of company historical information to the article on Sammy Studios, now High Moon Studios, was replaced by a promo piece on Scrum), in order to not waste time. Back to coding. At least when I fork some code, I get to keep the fork!

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