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Equinox

Joined 22 September 2008
Wiktionary:Babel
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Names and attributes must be accommodated to the essence of things, and not the essence to the names, since things come first and names afterwards.
1832, Galileo Galilei

Notwithstanding their influence, we apprehend, however, that dictionary-makers are on the whole an oppressed race, doomed to more than their due share of obscure drudgery. [] They may have had their romance at home — may have been crossed in love, and thence driven to dictionarying; may have been involved in domestic tragedies — who can say?
1864, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (volume 96), uncredited author

[T]he maximum number of revisions an author made is 237,600 for the English Wiktionary (user "Equinox") [] As an anonymous reviewer points out, this "sounds as [sic] an incredibly high number of revisions for one single user".
2016, Wolfer & Müller-Spitzer, How Many People Constitute a Crowd and What Do They Do?

Words, words, words, words! You may as well listen to the birds.
2000, Coil

Contents

About me

Hi. I've been on Wiktionary since mid-2008. I was born in 1980, live in England, and work in software development. I have an HND in Applied Computing and a BA in English Language.

My main interest is adding missing English words. I seem to have done rather a lot of this.[1] In particular, I have added the missing material from Webster's 1913 dictionary (which has about 80,000 entries) and Chambers 1908; created thousands of entries from lists of scientific terms, such as minerals, soil types, organic compounds, and pharmaceutical drugs; originated Appendix:Unicode (I fear I have birthed a terrible emoji monster); and added various words that I encounter in books, newspapers, and everyday life.

I like super-specialised senses of otherwise ordinary words (tick, policeman), proper tagging (this means "don't add rare slang like it's normal stuff your grandmother says"), and words beginning with x. I don't like blind prescriptivism, made-up phobias, folk etymologies, or "the agenda". (Are you thinking "this word needs to be defined", or "this viewpoint [Anglo-Saxonism, 'pure' Latin, identity politics...] needs to be propagated"?)

I am volatile and sometimes start fights on here, but honestly I'm more short-tempered than actually malicious.

I'm on Wikipedia too, where I mostly make a fuck of a fuss about commas.

Subpages

Things to do, apart from adding words

  • Why doesn't my headset work? I could record a zillion words: we now have an auto-recording tool in the Web page, but wait until we have a real tool that can filter background noise (because otherwise I could spend hours recording stuff that will be overwritten when someone improves the tech).
  • Ditto: deal with the initialisms and abbreviations that need a proper part of speech.
  • Go through Special:WhatLinksHere/&c. and replace those prissy, attention-seeking "&c." links with "etc."
  • FIGHT FOR GREAT JUSTICE
  • Things not to do: finish my excellent desktop Wiktionary with loads of power-user shortcut keys, since templates change too fast and I would end up vandalising without knowing it. *cry*

Individual words to consider

Other places to get words

Features I would like to have

  • Some kind of high-level platform-agnostic API that exposes the dictionary as objects (if only a collection of subheadings), not raw text.
  • "Blame", as in software source control, to discover which user wrote a particular line of an entry. See Wikipedia:WikiBlame.
  • Standardisation of how templates work. Also, general accountability for templates, including pre-rollout consultation, testing, and backward-compatibility.
  • Fix the dumb issue where various plug-ins load sequentially and stuff keeps jumping around so you can't click it.

Unpopular opinions

  • I am starting to think that the main editor problem we have is a lack of context, or myopia: people have very narrow interests (like they only know and care about Pokémon, or Middle English) and are unable to situate their interest in the wider world. This is why the glosses like rare, slang, obsolete sometimes go neglected. The best solution is to read as much as you can from all possible eras.
  • I disagree with listing comparative/superlatives that consist of "more" and "most". Virtually any adjective can take these if the author wishes it, and it encourages editors to find weird fringe examples to substantiate their existence.
  • We should get rid of (or drastically cut down) the misspelling entries. They are way out of control.
  • Having separate alt-form pages for variants that differ only by case (Bloggs' disease, Bloggs' Disease) is somehow aesthetically displeasing. Furthermore, we should not have separate pages for titles like Admiral and Dame; just explain the usage at the normal form. You can see why the capped forms are stupid entries because people are hesitant about whether there is a plural.
  • We shouldn't have entries for X noun meaning "something X made", like Van Gogh or Picasso.
  • I sometimes think that every word in a definition should be a link. Perhaps it could be done in a subtler way, like allowing right-click and "look up this word" anywhere. Sneaky bonus: editors don't have to bother deciding where and how to insert square brackets.

Wiktionarians I have met

What is the VERY long-term future of Wiktionary?

We think we are very clever with our anti-commercial licence. But:

  • Maybe a lot of stupid spammers will keep ripping our content, legally, for free, and do better than we are. (For example, if Apple's iPhone becomes the predominant platform, somebody whose entire business model is republishing Wiktionary on iPhone will do better than we are.)
  • Maybe mainstream commercial dictionaries (hi OED! I saw you steal our mecha definition) will start using our material; they are going to suffer the same fate as society sinks into willing subliteracy.
  • Maybe people will stop reading and writing, and operate purely on computer voice recognition, and have things read to them.
  • I like to imagine that long after I am dead, people will still send "thank" notifications to old Equinox who created long-obsolete entries like crowdfunding. If they do it now I'll just shout at them.

And quoting a comment I made in private e-mail: "Something we should be particularly aware of, as a net-based 'ephemeral' medium that actually stores all the edits across time in a revision history, is usage change. If a word had certain connotations 50, 100, 150, 500 years ago, and someone deletes the gloss today, we are losing information because the 'current version' is seen to be the correct one. However, do we expect the current version to be only correct for today, and replaceable, such that anybody reading a book from 2003 should go and check the 2003 version of the entry — or do we expect the current entry to cover all of history? There are pretty compelling arguments for both sides. However, at present there isn't some pretty 3D interface that lets you slide through time, so the current version is all that anyone will ever see. We remove glosses at our peril, if we aren't sure what nuances a word carried in the 14th or 18th century." As Santa knows, two very good examples of usage change are naughty and nice.