Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Wiktionary type

I haven't edited Wiktionary actively in awhile, but I think I may drift back to it eventually. For me, one distraction often leads to another, and back around.

There's something about Wiktionary that attracts a certain sort of people. Perhaps it's because I am such a person that I enjoy meeting the rest of us so much.

One evening, we happened to have a person from the Dutch Wiktionary and Wikipedia wander into the Wiktionary IRC channel. I don't really read Dutch, except that it resembles English in some spots. I looked up this visitor's user page in Dutch, and started putting together the colorful graphics in his user boxes, cognates, a couple of visits to a dictionary, and some plain old guessing. I gathered from these clues that our visitor mentioned the following traits:

  1. He drank no alcohol.
  2. He opposed the death penalty.
  3. He was a fan of quantum mechanics.
  4. He's an atheist.

Now, perhaps these characteristics are not that rare, but I think you would be at it awhile trying to find all four in one person by standing on a street corner asking random passerby.

I wasn't so sure of my Dutch, so I asked the visitor if I had understood those user boxes correctly, and I listed them in the channel. He confirmed that I had them right. I replied, "me, too". Then, in a channel with perhaps 12 to 15 people scattered all around the world, I got a chorus of "me, too"s. Allowing for a couple of people who did like the occasional beer, I think the total came to about five.

I think it takes a certain sort of person to write a dictionary in his or her free time. Whatever sort that is, I tend to identify with it pretty strongly. I'll be back, sooner or later.


Blogger Emufarmers said...

15-45% of people in the Netherlands are atheists (or at least irreligious), and capital punishment is banned there (as in just about every country in Europe), so your model Wiktionarian is representative of a significant subset of his countrymen in those respects.

The average person probably doesn't identify as a "fan" of quantum mechanics, but I doubt you'll find a lot of people arguing that everything can be explained through Newtonian mechanics, either. :)

05 August, 2009 11:31  
OpenID schnee said...

That's really interesting. I just came across your post because it was mentioned in Walter's Wikizine - I used to edit on Wiktionary, and surely enough, I fit all those characters you're mentioning.

Quite eerie. And I'm not even Dutch. :)

10 August, 2009 14:10  
OpenID schnee said...

s/characters/characteristics/ - I should probably have used the Preview button. x.x

10 August, 2009 14:11  

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