Saturday, January 14, 2006


In keeping with this week's jargon theme, here are some of the words Wikipedia's unpaid contributors -- sorry, "community members" -- have coined to make sure everyone knows they're part of a community. You'll never see these words anywhere outside the heuristic fumfering going on behind Wikipedia's "community portal."

Coincidentally, the more absurd neologisms illustrate key concerns about jargon in general. Viz:

1) Fancruft: Fans' Wikipedia entries about their favorite shows/movies/video games/Japanese underage horror porn. FYI, "cruft" is itself a jargon term among computer programmers.
The problem is: It's harder to understand than the original idea is! A word like "fancruft" is basically a power play on the part of its users: it keeps outsiders from understanding their subculture. Either that or they just want to make extra-certain nobody invites them to any parties, ever.

2) Wikieternity: A long time, "such as 24 hours or a week" [!] spent futzing around on Wikipedia.
The problem is: It's unnecessary. Jargon is supposed to sum up a complicated concept. Is it really easier to say "I futzed around for a wikieternity" than "I futzed around for 5 hours"? Please. Terms like this never last long. "Wikieternity" is really just a jargon wannabe. (And if you need an example of the opposite case, it's "wannabe." Now, that's a necessary term. It's not going anywhere.)

3) Wikignome: "a wiki user who makes small and useful edits without clamoring for attention."
The problem is:Ever notice how some jargon terms catch on just because they're fun to say? I just don't see that happening with "wikignome," do you? This is a shame, actually, because we desperately need a word for people who contribute their time to the Net in unrecognized ways. But if you call them "gnomes," they're going to quit en masse and go get lives or something. The quality of online information will take a fatal nosedive, all because of jargon.

Tiffany and Amber say: "Remember, jargon kills!"

Hi - I'm not sure of your age (collegish?) but I thought this Bookslut post might be of interest to you:

Are you a college student in Chicago with too much time on your hands? Someone obsessive-compulsive about things like comma placement and proper AP style? If you are, Bookslut needs you.

Just thought it might be of interest.

I'm already in "the biz," as it were, but thanks for the tip.
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