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How do I create entries so fast, and why haven't my fingers fallen off yet?

In the spirit of the wiki (which comes from a word meaning "quick"), here are some tips.


Avoid the mouse

Try to do everything with the keyboard. This saves you from having to switch from one input device to another, and/or pull your eyes from the screen to find the mouse. But! It means you are going to have to use the...

Shortcut keys

Most software offers shortcut keys, though sadly it's become fashionable to hide the visual cues (such as underlined letters in menu captions) due to misguided marketing drones going overboard with minimalist design. Shortcut keys are available at various levels:

  • The operating system. For example, in Windows, Alt+Tab switches between open windows.
  • The browser. For example, in Chrome, Alt+D jumps to the address bar.
  • Specific Web sites. For example, when using Wiktionary in Chrome, Alt+H jumps to the edit history.

If you use a computer a lot (even if you've never heard of Wiktionary), it is really worth learning these keys.

Custom searches

Modern browsers allow you to create custom searches that do the equivalent of navigating to a page, clicking in a search box, and entering some text. So, if you use eBay a lot, you can associate it with the keyword ebay, and then entering ebay scarf in the address bar will take you straight to auctions for scarves.

My custom searches include the following (where %s is the placeholder):

So, exploiting all of the tips so far: say I want to create a new entry for the word quirkafleeg. Spurning the squalid mouse, I press Alt+D (to focus the address bar) and enter dd quirkafleeg. To find sources, I open new tabs (Ctrl+T) and do b quirkafleeg (Google Books) and r quirkafleeg (Google Groups). I then copy promising citations from the search results (mouse select and Ctrl+C), navigate back to my new-entry tab (Ctrl+Tab), and paste them in for editing (Ctrl+V). This is all pretty rapid.

Secret tip: If Google is returning a lot of foreign stuff, add the word the to your search. It's also worth putting words in quotes because Google tries to be too clever, thinking that nobody could possibly intend to type yclept and you must have meant Buzzfeed or payday loans.

Custom text insertion

Back when I used Opera, before it sucked, I had a nice plug-in that allowed custom text to be inserted using further special keys, and I used this for common "chunks" like ==Etymology== and Category:English eponyms. This is a bit like the AutoText feature in Microsoft Word that inserts phrases like Yours sincerely.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find anything comparable for Chrome. (Can you?)

Write your own tools

If you are a techy person (in which case you know everything on this page already), you can save a lot of time by developing software tools or scripts. For example, when I was on my Webster 1913 kick, I wrote code to split that old dictionary into separate files, one per word, and made a little editor that randomly presented me with one at a time, with a best guess at wiki headers and formatting, and allowed me to edit, save and upload. This didn't eliminate the manual cleanup, but it saved many, many hours.

Even if you're not a techy person, maybe you can use another editor's tools (WT:ACCEL is a very good one), or ask them nicely to code something for you. (If you need to process a bunch of downloaded text files or something, just ask me. I'm not so hot on actual on-wiki bot work though.)

Be organised

When I see an interesting candidate word on the Web, I bookmark it in a Wiktionary folder to deal with later. I also have a bunch of to-do lists, such as Scrabble words, that I can dip into, and if I really have to leave the house I always have a little notebook. You never know what you'll see on a billboard or restaurant menu, or in the newspaper.

Also sometimes I dream about words, their syllables dancing in the air like angry gnats, and wake up yelling missing entry titles into my drooly pillow. The neighbours don't like me much.