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Lamest Edit Wars (wikipedia.org)
441 points by ag8 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 318 comments



The examples here are hilarious.

> Angels & Airwaves: Forty-six reverts in one hour by two editors. The point of contention? Whether "Angels & Airwaves" is a band or "Angels & Airwaves" are a band. (British English requires "are", as the band comprises multiple people, while American English requires "is", as the band is a singular entity.) ALL-CAPS edit summaries laced with profanity and death threats liberally employed by one side.


OK, I had to search for the edits themselves, they're at https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Angels_%26_Airwav...

Here's a sample:

23:37, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - FOR THE LAST TIME, STOP AND DON'T COME BACK! undo

23:35, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - TYKELL, CAN YOU DO ME A FAVOR? DIE! undo

23:34, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - crying PLEASE STOP, PLEASE, I'M BEGGING YOU crying undo

23:33, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - I HAVE A GUN, I'M GOING TO SHOOT YOU NOW! shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot undo

23:31, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - YOU REALLY HAVE TO STOP, FOR THE VERY LAST TIME, STOP OR I'LL KILL YOU! undo

23:30, 21 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 12,196 bytes +1‎ Reverted edits by Tykell to last version by Alex 101 - I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO STOP, BUT YOU HAVE TO STOP undo


Am I too charitable or is it possible that this guy is actually just joking and entertaining themselves? I can't imagine someone being serious with these threats and at the same time typing out shoot shoot shoot. Maybe it is just a weird hobby. Like when people play the long chess games where they share a board in common space and just make a move every time they happen to pass by and be in the mood. Maybe this person pours themselves a cup of coffee every morning and goes to Wikipedia to do his morning revert.


My instant thought too, obviously self entertainment, just a bit of fun. I actually can't read it any other way.


There is some effect where people contribute often and wonderfully in their area of expertise but turn completely weird outside of it. Stuff like a doctor running into a historically notable alternative medicine topic.


Look at the time stamps. They're only a few minutes apart.


If they're less than 16 years old, they could easily be serious.


Or over thirty-five, after which one rediscovers that it’s OK to have fun.


And... gains the ability to non sequitur?


It’s true, I’ve been neglecting the garden.


Cela est bien dit ; aussi cultivons notre jardin.


I thought it to be a pun on no secateurs :)


I know lots of people in their 40s and 50s who behave like children on the regular. Age is orthogonal to mature comportment.


If HN, Reddit, 4chan, Twitter, Youtube comments, etc have taught us anything it's that people who should be mature enough to know better will readily engage in "no u" type arguments like 14yo kids.


What if it works? If you simply persist and wear out the competition you win the wikipedia.


If it has worked on here I don't see why it wouldn't work there.


It looks like it dies down shortly afterwards but the next day someone gets unblocked ...

00:09, 23 February 2006‎ Tykell talk contribs‎ 11,705 bytes -1‎ No, we can't. Don't you know when to quit, kid? undo

23:42, 22 February 2006‎ Alex 101 talk contribs‎ 11,706 bytes +1‎ now that I'm unblocked and this page is unprotected we can change it undo

I think if you're all-caps screaming you've lost the argument, and seeing this I'm actually quite embarrassed for the guy. Personally I think "$band is good" or "$team is winning" does sound a bit silly, but I've seen it so many times that I'm kinda used to it. Besides I suspect the same is true for an American hearing "$band are good" or "$team are winning". Either way it definitely doesn't warrant losing your cool like this.


Especially as usage in British English isn't clear cut anyway. It depends on whether you're referring to the band as a singular object, or as a collective (https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/l...)


The same is true of US English as well, and people will choose one or the other when they're trying to emphasize one perspective or the other.

In my neck of the woods at least, whether the proper noun itself is a plural word is also a major factor. I would be more likely to say, "The Beatles are a band," but, "Led Zepplein is a band."

Angels & Airwaves is a fun one, because it's two different proper nouns, but "Angels & Airwaves is a band" still sounds more correct to my (Chicago) ears. I cannot provide any plausible-sounding rationalization for this opinion, but I will fight to the death to defend it.


Yeah, agreed. It's about context. I tend to use plural form even though I'm from the States too. That said, "Angels & Airwaves is a band" sounds more correct simply because it delineates the two proper (plural) nouns as a single (collective) entity very clearly.

Just like you'd say "Wells Fargo is a bank" even though it's obviously a huge corporation that is made up of thousands of people.

In some contexts it still makes way more sense to use the plural conjugations, like if you were to say "Angels & Airwaves are playing a great show", because at that point you're talking about what they (the band members) are doing. Likewise you would say "Angels & Airwaves are putting out an album" or "are retiring" because you're talking about the actions of the band members, as opposed to the business entity (the band itself).

Sorry, I'm a musician as well as a coder, so I've thought about the syntax of this before.


I suppose I like "Angels & Airwaves is a band" because the alternative feels ambiguous in a way that creates tension. With "Angels & Airwaves are a band", I'm left wondering if that was the intended sense, or if they made some editing error and what was really meant is, "Angels & Airwaves is a band," or, "Angels & Airwaves are bands."


I think the difference in is/are also reflected in the names of sports teams.

It sounds normal to say that an American team like Lakers/Patriots/Giants are winning while a British team like Arsenal/United/City is winning.


This is in danger of running into the back/forth that we saw in the Angels and Airwaves Wikipedia page :-)

Joking aside, it might sound odd to an American (or Canadian?) but British English would not distinguish between whether or not the name or “nickname” are singular or plural. So we would say:

The Seahawks are winning

Seattle are winning

Arsenal are winning

Rangers were relegated

I think this is the kind of thing where you can learn to tolerate the “wrong” one but it’ll always sound weird to you, whether “wrong” for you is British or US English :-)

Edit: I did think of a situation where we’d use “is” - when you’re referring to the legal entity or FULL name of the club. “Aberdeen Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in Aberdeen”. This is pretty rare to see, and you’ll likely just see it in, ironically enough, the first line of a Wikipedia page.


"The" and the postscripted "s" imply plurality, and therefore the use of "are". Nearly all sports teams in the US are pluralized, so it would be "the Seahawks", "the Bears" etc. There are a small handful of counter exactly examples, such as the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat. But I think most sports fans use their standard sports lexicon that they use for every other team and treat team names as plurals.

Band names tend to be mixed. It's clearly "the Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing at..." but also "Primus is playing at...". (See also the edit war between "The Eagles" and just "Eagles")


I think the use of "The" as part of the name also matters.

"The Patriots are winning" sounds OK to me as an American. "The Patriots is winning" sounds totally wrong. "Arsenal are winning" sounds fine, "Arsenal is winning" also sounds fine.


When I think of American sports teams there's usually an understood "The" in front. "Patriots are winning" works fine conversationally but, if you were being a bit more formal or writing it down, you'd say "The Patriots are winning." On the other hand, the city name is singular. "Boston is winning."


I'm not sure, I'd never 'Saints is winning'. 'Saints are winning' sounds correct, though. Even 'Arsenal is winning' sounds a bit wrong.

Whos winning? Arsenal are (team)

Whos winning? Ronnie O'Sullivan is (singular)

Disclosure: I am English.


Exactly, I think grammatically this would be correct:

Arsenal are winning

Arsenal is the best team in the league

It's contradictory (as well as plainly false ;) ), but that's English.


Lots of people who speak English as a first language would say "Arsenal are the best team" or "arsenal are the best club".

https://twitter.com/search?q=%22arsenal%20are%20the%20best%2...


Well yeah, either is fine.


No, this is incorrect.

Something that comprises many people is treated as singular unless it's in a plural form.

-Arsenal is a team. -We are Arsenal players.

-There are many arsenals in Britain, but there is only one Arsenal.

If it's unclear you have to add words. You have to make sure the subject is singular. With Arsenal the singular nature of the word doesn't require it.

-There are many patriots in the USA, but there is only one Patriots football team.

In your example, Arsenal is the singular team. "Arsenal players are winning" is grammatically correct but not really used because players are understood to be part of a team.


Your “are” examples refer to a team ending in S and the “is” examples don’t.

perhaps why it sounds right


Makes sense. Though it seems that maybe the sports teams are (mostly) pluralized in the US?

From memory NBA, NFL, MLB use pluralized names but MLS and Indy Car Racing (or whatever it is called now) doesn't?


The difference is that most U.S. sports teams names are proper nouns in the plural form (49ers, Raiders, etc.), but most motor sports teams are usually referred to as Team <Singlular Noun>. "Team Quaker State is in the lead." If they were the Quaker States, then it would be "Quaker States are in the lead."

I don't follow MLS, but looking at the team names, they mostly look singular to me, apart from "New York Red Bulls". I suspect the Red Bulls are nearly always referred to in the plural by Americans.


Not all NBA

E.g. Jazz, Heat, Thunder


i think that might actually be the way how they start real wars in the real world.


It almost reads like lyrics of a comedy song.


Southpark comes to to mind with the super trolls


I had no idea this is different in BrE and AmE! What are some other such grammatical differences?


Americans are very stingy with prepositions:

American: I wrote them British: I wrote to them


This is very true, and yet the British government message about coronavirus is "stay home" rather than "stay at home". It sounds rather odd to me. I wonder if they chose it to sound a bit more casual and relatable, or just to match what people were already likely to be hearing elsewhere online.


"Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives." has the ring of a Dominic Cummings slogan. It's in the same vein as "Take back control" or "Get Brexit Done". It's campaigning distilled down to the minimum possible words.

Edit: Interestingly(?), the government official leaflet adds an "at": https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid...


It is a bit weird. As a Brit I would say that the first "home" has changed from a noun to a sort of adjective. It has the same type of meaning as fr example "busy" or "asleep". We quite often say "Sally is home" and it has a similar logic to "Sally is busy" or "Sally is asleep".


I think it's to fit on the podium because actually everyone is saying "Stay at home".


Stay home is more commanding, is it makes sense as a general order.


The leaflet that came through my door says "STAY AT HOME". The Downing Street letter signed by Boris says "you must stay at home". I have seen "stay home" a few times, which I notice, because it seems like bad English to me.


Just thank god they don't decide to prefix it with a hash to make it more trendy twitter-like youngster hipsters whatever like what the French government is doing (#stayhome / #restezchezvous). Now get off my lawn...


"Every little helps".


Yeah this is a strange one, my brain reads "helps" as a noun here, it takes an extra beat for it to infill a ghost noun between "little" and "helps" ("every little bit helps")


Isn't that colloquial saying though? Trying to think of another good example... "It never rains, but it pours."


> "It never rains, but it pours."

I've never heard that construct. Are you by chance referring to Morton Salt's motto "When it rains, it pours"?

I think it was HN that lead me to the discovered not too long ago that the phrase originated from an early-20th-Century ad campaign of theirs following the introduction of magnesium carbonate, an anti-clumping agent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton_Salt


No it is a colloquial saying in Britain, especially in the North of England. Me: "I hurt myself at work, then I lost my wallet and my girlfriend left me", Someone else: "It never rains, but it pours".


Your example reminded me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K8s9cNqZO4


Interesting!

In the US - in the Arkansas Ozarks, specifically - I've heard the other version in the same context.


Is that a correct sentence in either dialect? It doesn't sound well-formed to me!



The one that always seems to grab my attention is the British "by accident" versus the frequently-used American "on accident".

Whilst I can understand the argument for the latter being similar to "on purpose", it will never stop sounding wrong to my British ears.


Honestly, as an American (California n almost all of my life), I find both “by accident” and “on accident” to generally sound stilted, though “by accident” seems natural in certain broader constructions, and “on accident” fits in the unique case of a direct contrast with “on purpose”. Generally, though, “accidentally” is the term that sounds right.


In America it's a regional thing. "By accident" is east coast, "on accident" is more midwest and west coast (though given that the west coast is full of transplants, there's a mix in usage". I've lived in CA for 16 years, but grew up in NJ and MD, and "on accident" still sounds weird to me.


I'm from CA and I hate "on accident", it sounds dumb and wrong.


You should eschew both and say 'accidentally'.

I do hear 'by accident' but always (as a native speaker of British English, born and living in England) consider it an error.

I have at least heard of 'on accident' too, but interestingly it barely registers on Google's ngram viewer, even with 'American English' selected:

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=accidentally%2...


I'm being prescriptivist here, but to my (West coast American) ear "on accident" is wrong, caused by confusing "on purpose" and "by accident."


To my ear "on accident" sounds wrong and kind of unsophisticated for lack of a better word


Huh, I speak AmE and "by accident" sounds more natural to me too.


To add to the other examples:

British, American

"in future" , "in the future"

"in hospital" , "in the hospital"

Also in British English it's more common to construct a sentence such as:

"A great car, this one." In American English we would almost always say "This is a great car."


I'm Australian rather than English but a lot of these sound odd to me.

I'd probably say "in future, could you please refrain from eating loudly" but "in the future, we will have flying cars". "The future" would refer to the magical world full of fancy new technology, while "in future" is more along the lines of "from now on".

"I'm in hospital" makes perfect sense but "I'm in the hospital" works perfectly fine as well. I don't think either is incorrect in English.

Regarding the sentence construction, I wouldn't understand "a great car, this one" as a standalone sentence. Written, it'd have to be "it's a great car, this one". Spoken, I'd expect there to be either something spoken prior (e.g. "Isn't she lovely. A great car, this one.") or some kind of non-verbal cue (like a look of pride or fondness that essentially expresses the same thing).

But again, Australian, not English.


American English perspective:

We'd never say "in future, could you please refrain from eating loudly." There would always be a "the" after "in".

"I'm in hospital." same thing, "in the"

If someone said "Isn't she lovely. A great car, this one." I'd think they were trying to imitate a Brit.


I'm not sure about your first example... I thought to myself "As an Englishman, what would I think about in the future?" and can't figure out a way to omit 'the'.

Could you use it in a sentence?


"In future, please don't forget to cool off the tea."

There's an entire WP page on these differences that are pretty interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_g...

As always, your local dialect may differ!


Aha thank you, yes I hadn't thought about that form. Pretty sure I'd still include 'the', not sure. Interesting!


"In [the] future, please refrain from bringing fermented herring to work for lunch."


One I've noticed is patterns of misuse of pronoun case in conjoined noun phrases. Americans are more likely to use "me" for the subject, as in "Tom and me did thus and so". The British are more likely to use "I" as the object of a preposition, as in "He gave it to Tom and I". I suspect this is because British teachers are more likely to correct and shame students who commit the first error, so they decide the subject forms are the safer bet.


I was taught a very simple rule around this, if you remove the other person you're referring to, is the sentence still grammatically correct?

So for your example:

> He gave it to Tom and I.

Change it to:

> He gave it to I.

That's clearly weird, so it should actually be:

> He gave it to me.

And then re-incorporating the other person:

> He gave it to Tom and me.

When I see your version in my mind it's a mistake and my theory is it's a common misunderstanding of the rule, consider the following slightly different scenario which is a super common mistake in my experience:

> Me and Tom went to the movies.

That is clearly wrong when applying the rule and should be:

> I and Tom went to the movies.

Although I feel that this sounds better:

> Tom and I went to the movies.

I think that what often happens (at least it did for me) is that children making the above mistake only ever see the correction without being reminded of or taught the actual rule, so they incorrectly assume the rule is something like:

> Always use "I" when talking about yourself and someone else.

I live in South Africa and we use British English, but I would expect the rule to be the same for American English too.


The rule is the same in british and american english. What parent was pointing out is that the type of error that brits vs americans make is different. Which is interesting.


I think we're in agreement.


I absolutely hate it when people wrongly say 'I', really makes me cringe. (I don't say anything of course, and hope I don't show it!)

It annoys me so much more than the converse, wrongly saying 'me', because - as you allude to - it sounds like conscious effort, like they thought they were actively getting it right. That may not be true of course, it's just how it comes across to me.


People who cringe over tiny things make me cringe.


English has largely lost the nominative/accusative distinction with the relative/interrogative pronouns "who" and "whom." The first person personal "I" and "me" are probably next. The nom./acc. distinction doesn't provide any useful information that isn't already conveyed by word order or prepositions. At this point, the distinction is a vestige of earlier forms of the language that were less analytic. And given that even decently educated native speakers fail to make this distinction, it's hard to make the case it's an actual error outside the register of formal writing.


There are many small differences. Not grammatical but some off the top of my head:

* Quite means something different. In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good". In American it's more like "OK",

* Spelling of -ing form of words ending in l. Br: travelling, Am: traveling,

* Placement of stress on multi-syllable words. It almost seems like anything British people do is the opposite in America. Br: 'adult, a'ddress, ice 'cream. Am: a'dult, 'address, 'ice cream.


> Quite means something different. In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good". In American it's more like "OK",

I hear this quite a lot. In my experience we (Brits) use it mostly in your second sense, to moderate statements. We use it as an intensifier more rarely and usually in specific phrases: "quite right", "quite the ...". I believe the key difference is that we use the word with greater frequency than Americans. GLOWBE [1] is an excellent resource for checking such hunches if you are interested.

[1]: https://www.english-corpora.org/glowbe/


It depends how you say it. For me the default in British is still an intensifier, but you can signal that you're using the American way using context, tone, facial expression etc.

The more important thing, I think, is that Americans don't understand the first sense at all. You have to say "pretty good" or something to have the same effect.


GLOWBE (which I linked above) has Americans in the wild using both senses of quite. If anything it looks like they use it as an intensifier more often than we do.

Wikipedia seems to be more in line with my experience, too:

> In AmE the word quite used as a qualifier is generally a reinforcement, though it is somewhat uncommon in actual colloquial American use today and carries an air of formality: for example, "I'm quite hungry" is a very polite way to say "I'm very hungry". In BrE quite (which is much more common in conversation) may have this meaning, as in "quite right" or "quite mad", but it more commonly means "somewhat", so that in BrE "I'm quite hungry" can mean "I'm somewhat hungry".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_American_and_B...


GLOWBE seems to be stuff scraped from forums. Unless I'm missing something. I think there's a huge difference with how "quite" is used in written and spoken contexts.

The more I think about it, I think the word can mean quite a lot of things and it's mostly driven by context and non-verbal cues.


Yeah, it is stuff from forums and similar places.

It's interesting that you have such a different experience of it to me.


> Quite means something different

Brits often understate, so it's arguable if "quite" means something different (as words are defined by usage) - or if the words mean the same, but are commonly used in understated terms in Britain.


> Quite means something different. In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good"

Not really, it means something more like 'fairly' or 'reasonably' good.


Meh, it's all in the intonation.

And if you preface it with 'really', it doesn't mean you're not lying, it makes it more like 'bloody' good. (With possible implication that this was unexpected, again depending on intonation.)


We have some flexibility on our American usage of "quite" but it means "nearly" or "almost completely", unless it means "totally!"

So to say "that's not quite right" means you're close but something is off.

But to say "that was quite an adventure" means it was totally an adventure, as much as anything could be.

Now be quiet and quit while you're ahead ;)


> We have some flexibility on our American usage of "quite" but it means "nearly" or "almost completely", unless it means "totally!" So to say "that's not quite right" means you're close but something is off.

I don't think this is illustrating two different uses. Note that "not completely right" means the same thing as "not quite right", but this is meant to illustrate that "quite" doesn't always mean "completely".


That's quite fair! I can't quite put my finger on how we have quite a few ways of using "quite" to mean quite different things. In all my examples, the meaning is quite similar. Quite the challenge, really.


> In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good"

If you're very posh then yes, but everyone else now uses the American sense. If you asked me what I thought of a TV show, "quite good" means I enjoyed it but I'm not that fussed if I don't happen to watch any more of it.


Is Jeremy Clarkson "very posh"? Just one example off the top of my head of someone who would use "quite good" in the British way.

I think there is possibly a big difference between spoken and written language here. Would you really use "quite good" in that sense while speaking? I don't think so. I think British people would "meh, it's OK".


He's quite posh.

Humour aside, I don't think he's posh enough to use it in the intensifier sense. If he says something is "quite good" on TV I'd expect it to mean "good" but not necessarily "better than good". Would be interested to see your counter example if you do remember it.


Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson went to a fee paying primary school and a fee paying secondary school.

He's definitely a bit posh.


He's part of the Chipping Norton Set[0], so yeah I'd put him up there in poshness.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipping_Norton_set


Where in America have you heard "quite good" used as "Ok?" I've only ever heard it used in an imitation British way, usually of the quality that includes "Tip tip cheerio" or "Guvn'r."


American speaker here, for me the accent falls in address according to which form the word takes; such that a'ddress is the noun while address' is the verb.


That's a good point. For some reason we don't adjust the pronunciation on that one, but we do on other words like "contract": 'contract (noun), con'tract (verb).

The word "research" is an odd one as it's pronounced as re'search as both verb and noun in BrE but 'research as both verb and noun in AmE.

But, of course, many British speakers now use the American way without realising (as evidenced by replies to my original comment).


> In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good". In American it's more like "OK"

Something similar happened between Spanish Spanish and Argentinian Spanish.

I once used the phrase "a veces" in South America and I was corrected to "de vez en cuando". Both phrases mean "occasionally", but the first seems to me to be unfamiliar to South Americans. Maybe someone else can clarify exactly.


The Economist style guide has an extensive section on British v American English. Here's the section in the 2015 edition at archive.org:

https://archive.org/details/EconomistBooksTheEconomistStyleG...


>* Quite means something different. In British "quite good" is similar to "particularly good". In American it's more like "OK"

This doesn’t seem right (as an American)


> Quite...

That seems backwards to me? As an American, I would nearly always use "quite" as an intensifier.


One of my favourite quirks of English (that obscure language from a small island) is:

"If it were up to me..."

That's the correct grammar for when you have a conditional argument. I know that a lot of Americans don't know this rule at all (especially musicians) but I suspect that it is a regional thing and not strictly US vs. Brit.

Note that if the conditional reflects something that really happened, then you use was as usual.

"If I was wrong by saying that..."


I'm waiting for a TV cop procedural where the hero is a grammar nazi.

- Hey, how did you know he was the perp? He wasn't even on our suspects list!

- Remember when we asked him about our victim? He said, "If it was up to me", not "If it were"... which clearly suggested it was up to him.


I don't know that this is regional so much as colloquial vs. formal. In the US people recognize that the subjunctive is technically correct and use it in formal writing. But it's very common to violate this rule in speech, so much so that to my ears it sounds less "wrong" than "informal."

As far as musicians go, you can find examples of people on both sides of the pond using or not using the subjunctive. Beyoncé sings "If I were a boy," while Thom Yorke sings "I wish I was special."


I think that's subjunctive, right? Subjunctive in English is indeed really obscure... I seem to recall the rules being weird in English, but I think it was something along the lines of: you have to use subjunctive when the hypothetical would be outright impossible? (e.g. "If I were you") In your example it's unclear whether that's the case or not as it might depend on the context, so my understanding was it might need to be indicative in that case. I think that's a bit different from being conditional, though, right?


yes - subjunctive. It comes from English's Germanic roots. Compare the German, "Wenn ich König von Deutschland wäre..." to the English translation, "If I were King of Germany..." and note the similarity of the verbs "wäre" and "were."

In English, what looks like a plural form ("were") in place of a singular ("was") actually comes from a Germanic singular form of the subjunctive. Both the German words "waren" (plural indicative form - "we/they were ...") and "wäre" (singular subjunctive form - "(if) I/he were") become "were" in English.

(And to confuse things, in English, the plural subjunctive is also "were" and is thus indistinguishable from the indicative. "We were kings..." v. "If we were kings...")

In both languages, the subjunctive is used in this case for a condition contrary to fact - I am not the King of Germany (nor am I a German pop singer from the 80s!).


The other interesting thing about the subjunctive is that it is not preserved in translation.

For example:

"Que tengas un buen día,"

would translate to:

"Have a nice day."

So, in Spanish the subjunctive is not strictly used for conditional situations. It is not really that you consider that the other person may have a bad day. The closest way to say that in English is: "May you have a nice day."

Like a lot of commentators are observing, it is not that clear whether you need a subjunctive. In fact, if you look at Afrikaans, there are only four tenses: past, present, future and historical present. And Afrikaans is considered a full scientific languages: You can translate any scientific article into Afrikaans.

On the topic of languages from South Africa, you also have noun classes in all of the 9 official languages that are not derived from European languages. These classes are a type of concord that have nothing to do with tense, but rather with types of nouns. They are also not strictly necessary, but they make it easier to follow a conversation. One way in which they achieve this is that if you say something like "I have an axe and a shovel," and later that "I often use it in the garden," then you will be able to know which one of the two you are referring to since they are in different classes and the word "it" need to be in concord with the noun. If they are in the same class, then you don't have concord distinction when referring to the object. I think the development of this feature are more to distinguish objects and subjects in sentences, as they are more likely to be different types of objects (e.g.: a human and a thing) and hence more likely to be in different noun classes. An axe being in a different class than a shovel is more of an coincidence.


The subjunctive and conditional are complimentary. In the construction "If X then Y," X will be in the subjunctive and Y will be in the conditional. The conditional also comes up on its own in lots of places, but the subjunctive rarely exists outside of contexts that could be re-written in that form.


I don't think it needs to be impossible, merely hypothetical. For example, I might say, "If I were to go into town today, is there anything you would like me to get for you?"


It's past subjunctive. The present subjunctive is still around but scarce: "Lest he think less of me" or, in a frozen expression, "Be it ever so humble ...".


As an American, I've noticed that Brits tend to use the subjunctive form less often than we Americans do.

"The doctor insisted that he spend the night."

vs.

"The doctor insisted that he spent the night."

The first sentence is how I would say it.

The second sentence sound very British to me.


But that's present vs past tense, which is independent of the subjunctive mood. The indicative version of the first sentence would be "insisted that he spends." While placing the verb form into the past tense sounds odd to my American ears, the form "spent" could be either indicative or subjunctive. (The subjective is formed by using the plural form, which makes it indistinguishable in many cases, including the past tense of regular verbs.)


> But that's present vs past tense, which is independent of the subjunctive mood.

No, it's subjunctive vs. indicative.

The British form is indicative and past tense, which is not correct grammar under either British or American rules, but is used in common speech.

Replace the verb with "to be", e.g. "the doctor insisted he be here." vs. "The doctor insisted he were here." to illustrate that the past subjunctive doesn't fit.

The past subjunctive is almost exclusively used for hypotheticals, e.g. "If I were rich...."

This isn't hypothetical. This is a mandative statement, so we use the infinitive form of the verb even if the action took place in the past.


Us British would say the first if the doctor has (in the past) insisted that you will (in the future) spend the night and the second if you (in the past) spent the night because the doctor insisted. Is that not the same in the US?


Interesting, I wasn't aware that there was a such distinction in British English between the two. Thanks for sharing.

I would use the second sentence for both cases. If I needed to distinguish them, I'd probably add something like "last week" or something to clarify things.


I doubt very many people in the US would give it enough thought to distinguish between those cases. It would be ambiguous, and if the speaker were needing to be more specific they would explicitly add context: "The doctor insisted that he spend the night tonight".


Not strictly "grammar", probably more "style", but I've noticed that contractions split differently sometimes. I would say "I haven't gone to the store", but I hear many people with a BrE background say "I've not gone to the store" instead.


In my opinion as someone who speaks BrE - 'gone' is only really used with I've because it makes the person the subject of the sentence. With I haven't the subject is the action of going to the store therefore in BrE you would say "I haven't been to the store"

Disclaimer : I came to this conclusion from being a native English speaker and picking up differences whilst learning foreign languages so don't take it as fact!


I think contractions tend to be less common in American English in general


Not a native English speaker, bit I think got (Br) vs. gotten (Am)?

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gotten


Australian here and we definitely use "gotten": - I've gotten to know him. - I hadn't gotten the concept yet, but then ... etc.

I think it's the British that have lost the use of "gotten" in favour of "got".


AmE definitely uses both. "I got sick" or "I've gotten sick" are both understandable.


I think this is in reference to the past perfect tense specifically. So "I have gotten sick" vs "I have got sick". I don't know if the latter is actually used in British English, but it's my understanding that the former would never be used since it's grammatically incorrect in that dialect.


You have got to be kidding me!

Neither dialect says you have gotten to be kidding me, right?


Its not formal english though. The British informal equivalent would be 'you're having me on!' or 'you're having a laugh!' or (rude) 'you're taking the piss'


British 'do' in VP ellipsis contexts. For example, "I might do", "I could do" (where Americans would accept only "I might" or "I could").


> VP ellipsis

Interesting, didn't know the name for that, thanks!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verb_phrase_ellipsis

> where Americans [...] "I could"

Which almost makes me grind my teeth in anticipation of 'care less' following it. (A BrE speaker would say 'could not care less', which has the benefit of, you know, actually making sense! ;))


In British English, "The waiter will be with you momentarily" means the waiter will be with you and then leave very quickly afterwards.


Literally yes but contextually no. Momentarily describes the period until the waiter arrives in this context.


Only in America, which is the point GP is making.

AmE: in a moment; BrE: for a moment.

Obviously it's blurred, particularly in BrE with televisual influence from America. Although I notice Wiktionary gives the latter unqualified, and the former as US & proscribed.


I see, my bad. Thanks.



I've noticed that British attaches the suffix "time" to lengths of time..., eg

The package will arrive from Amazon in two weeks

The package will arrive from Amazon in two weeks time


And a possessive apostrophe should be used, I would write:

> The package will arrive from Amazon in two weeks' time

(cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Years%27_War)


It's my impression that most articles on Wikipedia are written in American English, except for ones specifically relating to Britain. Is that correct?


Basically, the first person to write an article gets to choose unless its something related to a particular region. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Nati...


Infamously including the British English spelling of "colour" in the article "Orange (colour)".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_(colour)


Ahh, yes, the HMS Rururu set alight in Boston harbor while unloading a bunch of printed Us and loading up a cargo of spoken Rs. To this day, Americans are almost as stingy with their written Us as the Brits are with their spoken Rs.


"British spellings" are an affectation Brits developed to make their language look more French and therefore more prestigious; Americans, who know we're the equals of France, kept the older spellings as recorded by Webster.


The "just so" story that I've heard is that post-colonial Americans have dropped the "u" from "-our" words for two reasons: efficiency, and to set them apart from the English.

I was also under the impression that the "efficiency" argument was at least partially influenced by Thomas Jefferson. I just did a brief search and I wasn't able to find reference to this online, but from my visits to his home at Monticello I recall that he had a unique style of writing - for instance, he tended not to use capital letters in his personal notes. He seems like exactly the kind of person who would have been vocally in favor of dropping unvocalized letters from words.


The 'u's are attributable to Dr. Johnson (and his desire to make English seem more French and therefore prestigious), but by the 18th century the cultures of Britain and America had diverged quite a bit. No 'u's were ever dropped - they were added - so I doubt this story. (Americans definitely liked setting ourselves apart, though.)


Which is why the article about GTA4, for instance, specifically mentions it is written in British English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Grand_Theft_Auto_IV


Interesting, thanks.


It's quite useful. For example Brazil ARE the best (refers to the Brazilian football team). Whereas Brazil IS the best refers to the country. Chelsea is good could refer to the place or a person. Chelsea are good refers to the team.


Single sentence utterances like this are rare. In context this distinction doesn't actually provide non-redundant information. So calling this "quite useful" is a bit of a stretch.


It is however generally useful to have lots of redundancy in speech. It can help to sort out mishearings and misspeakings. Similarly in handwritten text.


Time to start an en-gb wikipedia!

(or is it en-uk? Hmmm)


It’s en-GB; Northern Ireland gets no say in language specification. (en-UK would be the hypothetical Ukrainian variant of English.)


GB is the ISO code for the whole country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island. These codes usually avoid choosing letters representing political state like "Kingdom", as it can change.

UK is a reserved code due to past and current use in DNS.

Ukraine's code is UA.


When you install Gentoo, one of the steps is to put your keyboard code into a config file. I put uk instead of gb, without thinking. It took me ages to work out what was going on 8)


Oddly enough the Ukraine metaphor is pretty apt when comparing English to Russian, considering that Eastern Slavic languages came out of Kyiv / Kievan Rus civilization, just as American English originated in England.


now that would imply that England would have to conquer (the) Ukraine in the event that Scotland quits. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Union_1707 )


I doubt the names would change, personally, but even if they did it would presumably be to 'United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland' (ordering up for hot debate, I'm sure, here I've just replaced GB with consitituents, alphabetised, and removed Scotland ;)) - still a UK.

But I don't think that would happen because I don't see why Scotland would want to leave the UK but cling to 'we are still in GB -- no-no, it's geographical guys'. You don't hear the Republic of Ireland self-descring as 'in the British Isles' much, that I'm aware of.


I guess the best thing to say for the aforementioned Union, post a Scottish exit, is that the flag would be cooler: https://www.reddit.com/r/vexillology/comments/23vhqp/the_fla...


Wouldn’t be the first time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_War


I imagine that's a joke, but for reference the official policy is that minor regional differences dont get their own lang wikipedia - https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_proposal_policy#Req... . Some languages do get semi-automated translation like chinese (simplified vs traditional) or serbian (latin vs cyrillic).

Of course, its always hard to draw distinct lines. There are some lang codes with wikipedias that are similar to english like sco, jam and ang. (Not to mention https://simple.wikipedia.org but that is a bit of a special case)


If they are 2 languages they shouldn't share a wiki. It could be heavily interlinked but duplicating an article into the British English wiki doesn't seem like a problem (all language wikipedias do it)

Other language wikipedias also value topics differently. A British English wikipedia would prefer citations from Britain. In many national cases it would merit having more than one article or articles of different opinion.


silly though ! and which wikipedia would be in English while the other pages are in American English (or in British English). I mean, neither side would accept their language name to be prefixed ; they are already infighting about what's the correct way to speak English.


Simply US vs UK ?


I actually prefer the American reasoning but 'are' is still OK in both cases because you can substitute "Angels & Airwaves" by 'singular they'. E.g. "Angels & Airwaves is a band. Some would say that they are a great band." or "The editor became frustrated because they could not understand the logic".


I've noticed there is also seems to be debate over present vs past tense. I've looked up a few bands to see if they were still active and sometimes it seems like they still use "is" instead of "was" but sometimes they do use "was."


The Beatles are sounds more correct to me.


What about Nirvana? Or Metallica? I think in the case of "The Beatles" it's clear cut because it sounds like you're talking about insects. But in other cases I think both sound ok because you could either be talking about a group of people, or a movement or a brand.


What happens in my brain:

- "The Beatles are..." This means we're talking about those 4 guys in The Beatles

- "Metallica is..." Means we're talking about the band, not the 4 dudes.

And when that change happens (inferring the band vs inferring the band members) it doesn't change the meaning of the sentence, so nothing else matters.


> Metallica ... nothing else matters

I see what you did there.


All I can say as a speaker of non-US English is that “Metallica is” and “Nirvana is” still sound completely wrong to my ear.


As non-native speaker I think I'd intuitively go with “Metallica is” and “Nirvana is”, but “The Beatles are”. I guess my brain is more wired towards whether the name itself is plural or not.


What about "Dire Straits"? Also plural, but grammatically completely different from "The Beatles" (by which I mean: you could say that John Lennon was a Beatle, but you can't refer to Mark Knopfler as a Dire Strait)


Dire Straits is something that happens to you, it would be used in this context, 'He was in dire straits' meaning, in big trouble of some kind. The straits in question are not a plural of an individual living thing like a Beatle. So I would say 'Dire Straits is a band'. I'm a native British English speaker, that sounds right to me, but my generation weren't formally taught grammar at school so I can't back that up with any fancy grammar words!


Same, but I realized I'm just going with my native language rules on that one.


Congrats, you're American.


Wait wait but what if Nirvana was a one-person band? OR what if you don't know?


Since there appear to be no right answers and I love this topic, I feel the band's name should play a big role in its plurality. I would never say that 'Queen are a band' but I would also not feel like 'The Beatles is a band'. At gun point though, I'd choose the latter.


This is a very long, debate-fueled, page.

It reminds me of the page on Toilet Paper[1].

It is 35,330 bytes

Meanwhile the page on Toilet Paper Orientation[2], of which there are two choices:

- OVER

- UNDER

goes on and on, and manages to weigh in almost 50% larger than toilet paper at 49,667 bytes.

Amusingly, "vertical" is actually mentioned, but how a hero got that in, I don't know. Probably killed or captured.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation


>Amusingly, "vertical" is actually mentioned, but how a hero got that in, I don't know. Probably killed or captured.

But then the discussion becomes between "left" or "right"...definitely don't want to go there!


That would probably depend on if you were left or right handed, and which side of the toilet the paper roll was located... and I realize I've just been sucked in.


After seeing countless example of stuff like this, people getting entrenched in pointless minutiae, I've come across the opinion that it's a sign of a person I'd rather not have a discussion with.

Whether you're right or wrong is so inconsequential that it is simply not worth the effort to try and change someone's mind on it. The consequences for putting it on "wrong" is what? It's slightly more inconvenient (in your mind) to tear a sheet?

Having a strong opinion on that subject or other similar ones and getting impassioned about it is a signal to me that one more desires to be seen as intelligent and right rather than actually searching for information or understanding.


Is it just me or someone else also read all the 49,667 bytes of Toilet paper orientation.


Which conclusions have you drawn and have you changed to (or solidified) the correct OVER orientation now?


I have an interesting fact not mentioned in the article. Vandals may put the end of the paper in the toilet before flushing. In the over orientation the paper hangs closer to the toilet and is less likely to break.


How many vandals are in your home? :)


guilty


While most of these are very silly and fun, I have to admit that I do care about some of them.

For example about the legitimacy of the "Nobel Prize in Economics" as a real Nobel Prize.

In the end, the way history gets written is important for the propaganda of the future. And Wikipedia is the primary authority on truth in the current world. Wether we like it or not.


>In the end, the way history gets written is important for the propaganda of the future.

I honestly initially didn't care about the British Isles thing til I saw British people start to presume Irish people were naturally British and then use that exact terminology to justify why UK sovereignty should be extended over the entire island.

Just imagine if Britain was referred to as an "Irish Isle" and you'll start to see the problem in how people start to view the neighbours not as equals but as one belonging to the other.


You know what you have to do. Come back with your shield or on it.


That ship has sailed. The Nobel Foundation lists the economics prize alongside the other ones.

If it's your word against theirs, you lose. No matter how "technically right" you are. No matter what Wikipedia writes.


Actually, I have found that if you point this out to people, for a lot of them it will (rightfully) diminish their trust in the institution of the Nobel Foundation, rather than increase their trust in the Economic Prize.


The section on images is great. Should there be a picture of a big spider on the arachnophobia page? Which anus is most representative of humanity? The (ro)bot wars section may be of particular interest to HN


I would like the photos on a phobia page to be blurred or to have a button that hides by default. I have thalassophobia and gigantophobia. It's a weird cross section of giant statues and depths. So I have a huge fear of bigass statues partially or fully submerged. So needless to day, most of the posts on /r/thalassophobia make me so scared. What if I want to reach out to that subreddit for help and support in overcoming my fear? It's extremely scary.


If I where you I would open the page in elinks but I know not everyone uses that regularly and might not be familiar with it.


That's fascinating. I wish we could ask your subconscious "what's the story behind that?".


Trauma from one of the many movies featuring the Statue of Liberty underwater?


The r/__phobia subs are equivalent to r/__porn tbh


Glad to see both the Island of Dokdo (a.k.a. Takeshima) and Sea of Japan (a.k.a. the East Sea) are recognized, but it missed my favorite(?) edit war: was An(Ahn) Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who shot and killed Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi one year before Japan's annexation of Korea, a terrorist? Should he be included in "Category: Terrorists"? You decide!


Don't you mean Takeshima a.k.a Dokdo?


HOW DARE YOU


I guess Liancourt Rocks is a fair compromise, but wouldn't it be nice if the governments of Japan and South Korea could settle on 独竹島/獨竹島 one day¹?

Literally, lonely bamboo island (どくちくしま・독죽도²). I wonder if I'm the first one to come up with this portmanteau?

1: Not any time soon, obviously.

2: Probably. Correct me if I'm wrong.


fwiw, while the superscript ¹ and ² are cute, I had to scour your two sentences to find them because they just look like specks on the monitor or ligatures or part of the content. Like the " in ど or a single quotation mark'.

Would be hell if you used it on a longer comment.


That would be a fault with HN's minimal CSS style I'm afraid. I have HN zoomed in at 160% in the browser because of the small font-size — it solves most legibility problems.


I believe the Japanese deserve the Liancourt rocks because they gave them humorous ribald names.


Calling An Jung-Geun a terrorist would be akin to calling George Washington a terrorist. The difference between freedom fighter and terrorist may be murky to some, but generally tact dictates that you don't call someone a terrorist if his faction goes on to establish a recognized sovereign state, especially if the side he was opposing was literally comitting genocide.


I expect it would be a matter of some controversy if George Washington had started the revolution by shooting Lord Dunmore.


The word terrorist can have either a literal meaning (who intentionally uses violence for their goals) or a politically charged meaning (who does that illegitimately, with some---varying---definition of "illegitimately"). The former is very clear, while everyone will have different opinions on the latter (hey, I think the opposing state is still not compensating genocide's victims). I wouldn't mind labelling An Jung-Geun as the former for that reason, just make sure that the label is clearly documented.


Those aren't the definitions I use. I'd argue a terrorist is someone whose goal and/or means to achieve a goal is terror. Even further off topic, but I really think we should dial down on usage of terrorist. A "terrorist" is first and foremost a criminal, the rest is sensationalization and fear mongering.


I'm unsure of the source, but I consider word "terrorist" to mean someone who is not sanctioned by a state and uses violence or the threat of violence against non-combatants in an effort to achieve political goals.


In the UK, there are plenty of young Asian boys in prison on "Terrorist related" offences: basically watching the wrong sort of videos online.


Note well: in AmE, "Asian" almost exclusively refers to East Asian or Southeast Asian origin.

I can picture some of my friends back home wondering what some Japanese-Brit kids are watching that gets them in so much trouble.


Thanks, noted. It's mostly Pakistani boys in Northern (English) cities in this situation ...


The goal of terrorism is not terror in itself (that's just mass murder), it's violence for a political purpose.


I'd distinguish popular usage and etymology. Terrorism is about terror. Mass murder is about a lot of murder. Mass murder can be not terroristic (a lot of people murdered, but population not terrified); terrorism can be not mass murderous (mass murder isn't the only way to instill terror); and, violence for a political purpose isn't always terrifying (or mass murderous, for the sake of completeness).


> Mass murder can be not terroristic (a lot of people murdered, but population not terrified)

I think that would be such a rare scenario as to be worthless as a premise. Can you name a bunch of prominent examples where a lot of people were murdered, and it didn't generate terror in the population nearby the event (or broader, perhaps nationally, if it was at a genocidal scale)?

I can think of few examples from recent history.

Serial killers inspire terror in the population in the region where the killings occur.

Mass shootings cause terror.

Authoritarians/tyrants, civil wars and other military conflicts that genocide populations cause terror.

When is there ever a lot of murder without terror? The only cases I can think of that didn't have terror immediately associated, are the rare instances where the population didn't know until afterward, and even then it's likely there would be some terror felt after the fact. For example, nurses that get caught having committed mass murder (several prominent examples from the last ~40-50 years). Often they don't terrorize a population while they're committing murder, because it's unknown what they're doing, however it's also very likely the population feels some terror afterward in the form of lingering fear and loss of trust & security in the healthcare system. In that example, the infliction of terror merely occurs with a delay.


An example I have in mind is gang related murders in US (e.g. Chiraq). Their scale is greater than all terrorist events in US put together, yet the media/popular reaction to it is orders of magnitude less. It might not be obvious to everyone, but we're quite picky as to when to get terrified.


Mass murder/serial killings aren't terrorism because their intention is not (necessarily) to inspire terror. Serial killers especially tend not to care what the populace thinks of their actions; they do it for very personal reasons. That's not terrorism.


I believe the trick is that terror describes the observer not the subject.


I think usually there are more components to the definition of terrorism:

* element of intimidation

* violence against civilians / bistanders who don't have an immediate effect on the political goals of the inflicting organization

This IMO clearly excludes An Jung-geun and George Washington.


> terrorist can have either a literal meaning (who intentionally uses violence for their goals)

Don't police and MMA fighters in the ring intentionally use violence for their goals pretty regularly?

I think few people would call that terrorism; I'm not sure a definition is possible without the (admittedly unsatisfying) idea of 'legitimacy'


> a literal meaning (who intentionally uses violence for their goals) ... is very clear

I don't find that clear at all. That definition is very broad and would include any country in any war, both offensive and defensive. It would even include any person defending theirself from an attacker.

It's also not literal. The literal meaning is anyone who instills terror for their goal.


Someone leading armies in a war isn't generally called a terrorist even if their side is full of assholes. People don't generally call the Nazis terrorists, for example.


The saddest part about this page are the warnings and the fact that they felt these needed to exist:

“This section is intended as humor. It is not, has never been, nor will ever be, a Wikipedia policy or guideline. Rather, it illustrates standards or conduct that are generally not accepted by the Wikipedia community.”


It's not sad. Wikipedia is supposed to be a serious source of information, and is used by people from all over the world, many of whom may not "get" this kind of humour. The warnings make sense.


Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if there was another meta-edit-war where someone exclaimed "Guys, stop, you are featured in _Lamest Edit Wars_ page!" and a lengthy discussion ensued whether being featured in the page implies the edit dispute was in "bad faith" (or whatever wiki-ism they use these days), and the disclaimer was a result of that.


I think it's an interesting page. It shows human nature.

That the edit wars themselves (lame or not) can be query should be interesting for the students of the human mind and, maybe, even for future historians because it shows what was important in our time.


The lower the stakes the fiercer the competition


What's that Kissinger quote? Something like "the reason fights in academia are so intense is because the stakes are so small."


Not an edit war, but I was amazed at the time about the discussion over the name of the Río de la Plata article, which just went on and on and on. I didn't contribute. The article at the time was just a tiny stub. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:R%C3%ADo_de_la_Plata/name


The "Ethnic and national feuds" section seems like it gets a certain point across: things that seem silly in current context were extraordinarily important cultural touch-points at one point, and could well become so again. E.g., the U2 Irish/UK thing. Easy to laugh at today, but equally easy to understand why to some people at some point in time nationality difference between Irish and UK really mattered. Most flamewars are just real arguments that happen in the wrong time/place/tenor.

OFC some examples are clearly just the product of either drugs or a bad week, or more likely both.

Kind of like reading slashdot articles about "websites", hacker news articles about "capitalism", or newspaper article comment sections about "immigrants" in the late 20th/early 21st century. Or whatever. You get the point ;)


Meh, dunno - a lot of people having strong opinions and emotions doesn't really mean the fact they're discussing is important.

Let's say my parents are from A, I was born in B and live in C. There was an important and well known historical conflict between A, B and C fueled by nationalism at some point.

I am an established artist/scientist and I don't care about my own nationality. Is it important that people flame about it on my wiki article?


Has anyone ever made an edit on Wikipedia without someone trying to start an edit war?

I think it's actually worse than StackOverflow.


I dread making changes to wikipedia for this reason. You invest time and energy to research something and write it up and then some semi anonymous bastard comes along and deletes it. Frustrating and a waste of effort.

At least that was what I used to think until recently. I spotted such a glaring omission on the Dutch wikipedia that I felt morally compelled to remedy it myself. I did the edit and sure enough within five minutes I was alerted that someone else had edited my edit.

Turns out he had just fixed a typo, sent me a thank you and added a new section of his own on something unrelated. For what it is worth, it was an uplifting little experience.


How do you get such notifications, or is it only if it's so quickly afterwards?

This prompted me to check back on some of my own (few) (very minor) edits, and one in particular has been reverted by 'an IP' (as I believe is the lingo). Not that I spent long on it, but mildly annoying (and to have it dismissed as 'trivia') and if I'd noticed at the time I might have been interested/incensed enough to Talk about it.

I don't really care, but of course I did add it for a reason, that it was missing and what I was looking for at the time when I found the page lacking.


I used to contribute a lot to wikipedia in its early days in the 2000' and faced the same frustrating experience. I think this just happens to everybody, from what I heard from other editors. I would expect it to be even worse now that wp is well established and editors do not have to make a common front against academics' denigration.

Still, wp is in my view easily the biggest achievement of the web, and I still care for it. I would often fix small issues, like you mention, this does not trigger any hostile response. Something else I found to work quite well to contribute without risking annoying conflicts : to translate articles from en.wp to other languages if their pages don't exist yet on the localized one. And of course, there always need help to revert vandalisms.

Also, I would recommend against having an account. Being IP based editor makes you more subject to scrutiny, but this prevents people deciding they don't like you based on your history. That's an advice I would give for any public discussion on the web, though (by always using fresh accounts).


While I used Wikipedia a lot and appreciate the generic layout which makes things easier to find, it still is crowdsourced content creation that killed off many independent content sites that provided their own value.

The web lowered the barrier to entry and the Wikipedia editorial system somewhat raises it for anyone interested in creating something for the web.


> it still is crowdsourced content creation that killed off many independent content sites that provided their own value.

I'm not trying to "call you out" on this; I'm genuinely curious - do you have anything to back up this assertion? I've had a couple of instances where I'd written something on a topic that Wikipedia had inadequately covered, and posted on the article's talk page. I included a link to my content, a note that it was my original research, and asked that other editors consider adding it as a source. In most instance - maybe every instance, as it's been a while and I'm not even sure if I could find all the places I'd done that - it was eventually cited and incorporated into the article.


Hi, no problem if you wish to call me out :-)

I think you may have slightly misunderstood me, as you make examples of times where you've suggested edits to editors and they've been agreeable.

I was talking more along the lines of the syndication of content at scale, perhaps a "death by a thousand papercuts (or citations)" scenario where Wikipedia gets the pageviews, the visitors, the links.

For example, Wikipedia gets a lot of links as a 'credible' reference, and tends to rank well in search engines for the topic titles due to this. This pushes down all the other pages of course, including the pages that Wikipedia uses as citations.

I feel that content has been homogenised and centralised too much, and could go into that more but I'm sure you get my general gist, without any data to back it up.

On the flip side, there is additional added value from something like Wikipedia existing, like all the Natural Language Processor tools that get trained up on well-formed and structured text.


Note also that the centralization point is not necessarily true. On one hand, yes totally, the process of gathering knowledge is centralized on wikipedia.org . Although, it's not a place where original content is welcome, so it still links to the sources. I guess that if SEO is of concern to you, being linked by wikipedia probably have some value.

On the other hand, my usual way of reading wikipedia is by browsing localhost. All data of wikipedia is open (you can actually download its database) and under creative common, so it's perfectly legit to host it on your own computer - quite the opposite of centralized, in that regard.

Of course, using the whole database with the whole history is not really practicable nor useful, on a local computer. Personally, I use the dumps generated by Kiwix, which only provide the last revision at the time of generation of the dump. I download them using the torrents provided by Kiwix and keep seeding them, so it can hardly be more decentralized, in that regard :)


I wouldn't bother so much about the SEO angle as that's site owner's concern if they wish to help search engines understand them better and/or try game them - I'd say wrt search engines it's about the fact they're still the single largest primary driver in how people find new pages, and generally how sites get seen 'organically' without paying to be seen.

Yes, it's cool that the entire dataset is there to be downloaded and used as you please. I have a parser written for it as part of a knowledge graph- don't get me wrong there's good things about Wikipedia I think it just came with collateral damage. Case in point is just searching for any wikipedia title and seeing where it appears in search results, also most of the "knowledge panel" results in major search engines are derived from Wikipedia/Wikidata and deprive the original content creators of their visitors.


That's nice to hear. What did you add?


To the item on woodpeckers: why the little buggers don't get headaches. The explanation is actually quite interesting, look it up!


I don't think any of my changes have been reverted because someone disagreed with my edit. However, most of my edits over the years have been finding better sources and correcting grammar on minor issues.


This prompted me to go back and look at my own contributions. The few that I spot checked are still there - but like you, the majority of them are fixing small issues like grammar or moving citations around to better reflect the content of the sources.

I've also added a few photographs that were my original works, which I released to the public domain and included on relevant pages. It's odd to go back after a couple of years and find one of my photos on a Wiki page that I have since completely forgotten that I'd added.


Re: Ányos Istvan Jedlik, I've had a uni colleague and former friend of mine who shared a given name with this inventor and whose family name was 95% similar to his, and seeing as we both live and used to study in Romania (where even the ethnic Hungarians' family names don't generally sound like this) I was curious at first what nationality he was, he told me that he's not sure either, part-Hungarian, part-Slovak. Maybe a similar approach could have been used in this inventor's case (i.e. using the "part-" thing)


Kudos for trying to find a sensible solution, but most of these disputes aren't about determining which geographical area a person and/or their ancestors stem from - that would be relatively simple to resolve with sources which are typically available.

Modern nationality is a highly complex topic related to not only geography, but also politics, language, religion etc. Often a dispute is not about providing information on a historical figure, but about "claiming" important people for your nation so that your collective "historical importance" is increased.


It makes me wonder why are editorial pieces like this one hosted on official wikipedia page.

Branding a discussion as a lame diminishes the importance of the discussion. Taking as an example Chopin, the whole importance of of him being considered a Pole is reduced (you can even see it in the comments in this thread) to accusations of nationalism and tribalism. I'm worried that next time someone tries to take a more nuanced, more informed approach to editing they will stop themselves in the fear of being included in a piece like this.


Note that this article is not hosted in the official 'article' namespace, but in the 'Wikipedia' namespace (hence the Wikipedia: in the article title), which is specifically reserved for non-encyclopaedic content, including editorial pieces and opinions.


It's hosted on wikipedia.org, follows the stylesheet for Wikipedia articles and below it states: "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia"


The point made is that it is on a kind of "meta" article. In book terms, imagine it being in some kind of "Extras" volume of the Encyclopaedia Wikipedia, not under "L" for "Lame Edit Wars".


No, it’s not in the main article namespace. Meta discussions happen here. Anything with Wikipedia: in front of them are not articles.

Some places are horrific. The admin’s noticeboard (incidents) is horrible. Sadly it was an initiative I started over a decade ago.


What makes these arguments lame is that they are _extremely unimportant_ in the grand scheme of things. People take up sides on trivial topics as a hobby or escape. This article is an excellent summation of how silly and petty people get when arguing over minutia online.

> I'm worried that next time someone tries to take a more nuanced, more informed approach to editing they will stop themselves in the fear of being included in a piece like this.

Good! That's exactly why this article exists. Because for every person who _doesn't_ come across this article and draws a conclusion based on a nuanced, informed approach, another person will disagree with them because they drew the _exact opposite_ conclusion based on their own nuanced, informed approach. And then the debate will devolve into an entry on Lamest Edit Wars.


I loved this detail under the discussion of Franz Liszt:

> This Liszt is incomplete; you can help Wikipedia by trying not to expand it further.


Some list of serial killers or so (I cannot find it) also contained a plea not to expand it.


Yes, it was [0] the list of serial killers by number of victims, but since has changed [1] to say "You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries."

[0] https://i.imgur.com/hqiVtK6.png

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_numb...


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