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Article ideas Edit
Memory hole Edit
- What good-bye often means in Wikiland
- RFC 2119 on words like should, must, and may
- What happened to Facebook when everyone got smartphones for Christmas
- Wikipedia will fail before 2010, due to the inevitable editor burnout caused by spammers
- Regulatory status of drugs in the United States
- Regulatory status of drugs in Canada
- EB White on cockroaches and dictators
- Civility builds up the civitas
- Evidence that the Draft: namespace is where articles go to die: m:Research:Wikipedia article creation and m:Research:AfC processes and productivity
Policies and guidelines you can ask me about Edit
- The WP:AUD section of Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) – added by me after this discussion in 2008; see User:WhatamIdoing/Audience requirement.
- The WP:CITEVAR section of Wikipedia:Citing sources – significantly expanded by me in 2011 after some early edits and discussion.
- The WP:DEADREF section of Wikipedia:Citing sources – re-written by me after discussion in 2011.
- The WP:WHYN section of Wikipedia:Notability – added by me after multiple discussions in 2011.
- The WP:PROPOSAL section of Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines – added by me after multiple and extensive discussions in 2008.
- The WP:LOCALCONSENSUS (aka CONLEVEL) section of Wikipedia:Consensus – boldly started by me in 2009.
- The WP:NOCON section of Wikipedia:Consensus –
- NB that the line about preferring the status quo in articles was not added by me, because I could not find evidence that it was true.
- The WP:MINREF section of Wikipedia:Inline citation –
Stories I tell on wiki Edit
- Wikipedia:Bring me a rock – on demanding an endless parade of sources, especially when sourcing isn't the main problem
- Hoyle's Law
- Whatever the game, whatever the rules, the rules are the same on both side.
- User:WhatamIdoing/Subjectivity in Wikipedia articles
- Articles that omit subjectivity usually violate the WP:YESPOV policy. An article about an international trade dispute, for example, should explain the situation from the viewpoint of both countries – not just one or the other, and not just universally agreed-upon information.
- The three umpires, on the differences between reality, perception, and definition:
- Three baseball umpires are talking about their profession and the difficulty of making accurate calls in borderline cases. One says: "Some are strikes, and some are balls, and I call them as they are." The next feels a little professional humility is in order and says: "Some are strikes, and some are balls, and I call them as I see them." The third thinks for a moment and says: "Some are strikes, and some are balls, but they ain't nothing until I call them."
- On the definition of cure, which is different from feeling better:
- We all hope for people with cancer to be cured, but most of us don't know how to tell when someone has been cured. The scientific definition involves plotting disease-free survival curves and figuring out when the slope goes flat. For the more common kinds of breast cancer, you're usually cured if you have been disease-free for three years. So this means that if you have breast cancer and have no detectable disease three years later, then you're cured. And if breast cancer is detected in subsequent years, it's a new primary, not a recurrence of the old one. The numbers vary by disease (e.g., 15 years for some lung cancers) and by the exact type, but it's fundamentally a calculus problem. But normal people don't think that way. More to the point, they don't feel that way. They'll say that they were cured when they felt cured. This might be when active treatment ended, or when the first test gave good news, or when a troublesome side effect wore off, or when a personally significant milestone passed (e.g., a birthday), or at any other time, for any reason that appeals to them. Or they might that they're still not cured, even though their doctors say they are, because they just don't feel it. Feeling it isn't everything, but where humans and their behaviors are concerned, the objective mathematical facts aren't everything, either.
- On the belief that all publicity is good publicity:
- Some editors want only "worthy" subjects to be mentioned on Wikipedia, because being mentioned in Wikipedia is (in their own personal, subjective opinions) more like a glorious prize to be earned by the meritorious than an enduring misfortune visited upon many subjects. It reminds me of a story that Molly Ivins told about a Texas politician she despised: "I think the meanest thing I ever said about one of them was that he ran on all fours, sucked eggs and had no sense of humor," she said. "And I swear I saw him in the Capitol the next day and all he said was, 'Baby, you put my name in your paper!'" If you start with a personal belief that all publicity benefits the subject, then of course you will be appalled to see "unworthy" subjects getting any coverage at all in Wikipedia, even if the coverage says that they run on all fours, suck eggs, and have no sense of humor.
- User:WhatamIdoing/I am going to die
- I am not expecting to die any time soon, and I hope you won't die soon, either, but what will Wikipedia look like when we're gone, and what can we do now to make its future better?
Why Wikipedia doesn't standardize everything Edit
Wikipedia doesn't standardize section headings for citations because the real world doesn't. There are four major style guides that are heavily used in universities, and articles using each one can be found on Wikipedia. Each requires a different name above the list of sources that were used to support content in an academic paper:
- Chicago Manual of Style: "Center the title Bibliography about one inch from the top of the page" (used by fine arts and historians)
- APA style: "In APA style, the alphabetical list of works cited, which appears at the end of the paper, is titled 'References.'" (used by sociologists and psychologists)
- The MLA Style Manual: "Center the title Works Cited about one inch from the top of the page." (used in humanities)
- Council of Science Editors: "Center the title References (or Cited References) and then list the works you have cited in the paper; do not include other works you may have read." (used by scientists)
Wikipedia hasn't chosen one over another because nobody wants to be stuck telling the English people that they have to follow scientific conventions, or the history folks that they're required to follow the English manual.
That, which, and who Edit
- The relative pronoun that is used for restrictive clauses: The car that is red is broken. (The other cars are other colors, and they are not broken.)
- The relative pronoun which is used for non-restrictive clauses, such as a description: The car, which is red, is broken. (There's only one car, and I thought you might like to know what color it was painted.)
- The relative pronoun who is correctly used in either of these manners, so long as the antecedent is a person. In some situations, such as describing a marginalized group of people, some people may object to the "de-humanization" of the antecedent if that or which are chosen instead of the personhood-affirming who. However, that and which are grammatically correct, and their use in older and formal English is well-established. For example:
- John 11:25 (KJV): "Jesus said unto her, 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.'"
- Luke 16:10 (ERV): "He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much."
- Romeo and Juliet: "He jests at scars that never felt a wound."
- Poor Richard's Almanack: He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.
- Thomas Paine: "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression."
- John Bunyan: "He that is down needs fear no fall..."
I work for the Wikimedia Foundation in the Community Relations team to answer questions and report problems about some wiki software, especially VisualEditor, but this is my personal account. Edits, statements, or other contributions made from this account are my own, and may not reflect the views of the Foundation. If you want to reach me in an official capacity, then try leaving a message at User talk:Whatamidoing (WMF).
Wikipedia editors are unpaid volunteers. I do not write Wikipedia articles for pay. If someone has asked you to pay for an article, or if you are trying to figure out how to get your article on Wikipedia, please see Wikipedia:Articles for creation/Scam warning and Wikipedia:FAQ/Organizations.