Archive:Monthly Write-a-Thon/February 8, 2009

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What's a Write-a-Thon?

It's a bunch of people getting together on a wiki at a particular time to do a bunch of writing. It's like an online party! Heck no, it is an online party! It's also an excuse for infrequent wikiers to show up and party hardy; to exchange ideas with people we might not "meet" otherwise.

But hey, why not show up in between the write-ins, too!


Write-a-Thons happen the first Wednesday of every month. The next Write-a-Thon is Wednesday, February 4, 2009. Starts on February 3rd, 1200 UTC, when it starts being Wednesday in New Zealand, and ends on February 5th, 1200 UTC, when it finishes being Wednesday in Hawaii. Save The Date! Put it on your calendar! Set yourself a reminder!

Any new article you create, and any edit you make to somebody else's Write-a-Thon article during that time period will count, though to be a bona fide partier, you have to write your new articles when it's that day in your part of the world.

Our first Write-a-Thon took place Wednesday, August 1, 2007 and was considered a roaring good time--we had about 30 partiers creating something like 50 articles, and editing lots.

Extree, extree! Read all about it!!

By popular request, we'll be trialling Write-a-Thon II, a Sunday session of the Write-a-Thon to accommodate those who work all week and have trouble making it in to the party room on Wednesdays.

Soooo--if you worked Wednesday, if you had a bad day Wednesday and didn't get to come to the party or didn't get to do as much as you would have liked, or if you would just like another opportunity to join in the fun, come on along. Starts on February 7th, 1200 UTC, when it starts being Sunday in New Zealand, and ends on February 9th, 1200 UTC, when it finishes being Sunday in Hawaii.

Any excuse for a party!

The above announcement was exactly 666 characters long. Coincidence? YOU decide. BWAHAHA! Howard C. Berkowitz 22:51, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
nyah, hyah, ha, ha ha--'pon my word, you actually counted?? Obviously, Howard, you do not have enough to do. This can be easily remedied.... Aleta Curry 00:40, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah, but the watchlist counts. 'pon my word, however, brings up one of my favorite dialogues in Parliamentary history:
Lord of Sandwich: "'pon my word, Wilkes, I don't know if you will die of a loathsome disease or on the gallows!
John Wilkes: "That depends, My Lord, if I embrace your mistresses or your principles."
Howard C. Berkowitz 00:46, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
hahahahahahaha Aleta Curry 00:52, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Oh, cummon, Howard, that has also been attributed to various 'Merkin Senators and/or Congersmen.... Hayford Peirce 02:15, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Then there was the time when bitter enemies John Randolph and Henry Clay were walking towards each other on a narrow sidewalk in Washington next to a filthy gutter, blocking each other's way. Clay demanded that Randolph give way. Randolph replied "I never give way to scoundrels!" Clay stepped deliberately into the gutter and said, "I always do."
And I can't remember who supposedly said this -- I vaguely recall Thomas Hart Benton? (the politician, not the painter) -- when another senator asked if he was trying to start a fight: "I do not start fights, sir; I finish them, sir. And when I finish them, sir, a funeral follows."
Aussie politicians are so much more eloquent than ours, though. In a debate in the Northern Terrirories legislature some years ago, an MP called the opposing party "a gaggle of hoons." Someone objected, but the Speaker officially ruled that the language was permissible: the member was just having "what most Australians would consider a fair go" at his opponents. (There is, or at least used to be, a newsletter for parliamentary clerks worldwide called The Table, which would publish an annual list of such altercations from around the world, along with the decision as to whether the language used was ruled "unparliamentary" or not.)
Um, what were we talking about? Bruce M.Tindall 18:57, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Ummm...great political humor?Howard C. Berkowitz 19:01, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Then there's great unintentional political humor. Bruce M.Tindall 19:03, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
What's a "hoon"? Strine fer "hound"? Hayford Peirce 19:05, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
"Ruffian." Bruce M.Tindall 19:40, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Of course, there are the Lady Astor-Winston Churchill exchanges.
Churchill: 'Having a woman in Parliament is like having one intrude on me in the bathroom'
Astor: 'You’re not handsome enough to have such fears.'
Astor: Sir, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your tea.'
Churchill: Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it!'
Aleta Curry 23:02, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Maybe political humor as a W-A-T topic? Have to watch Churchill, bathroom, and family-friendliness; I can think of one with Attlee and Churchill and the bathroom at the Commons...and one at his home that definitely doesn't make it
Famous last words, too, perhaps. Ned Kelly comes to mind, apropos Oz. Mind you, there is a tale of an American applying for an Australian visa, and, in the tiny space available around "Have you ever been convicted of a crime", writing "Is it still necessary?"
If I was to write about Blamey, I might break down and write the Douglas MacArthur article I've been dreading. Eventually, I did manage Robert McNamara. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:38, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Is "the one at his home" the one about "being able to take only one at a time"? If so, do you know of any source for that other than Manchester's book? Manchester -- whose work I admire except for this quirk -- had the despicable habit of using exactly one footnote per paragraph, at the end of the paragraph, no matter how many different sources the paragraph used. In that paragraph, the footnote clearly documented something else, but there was no citation that backed up the "only one at a time" bon mot.
Oh, and does the Attlee-and-Churchill one have to do with a synonym for members of the House of Lords? If so, then I now know where the chairman of the history department at my father's university stole it from: "Good morning, Mr. High Exalted Chairman!" "No need to be so formal, George, we're all...." Bruce M.Tindall 02:13, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
One at a time, indeed; I don't have a citation, but I think I saw it in other than The Last Lion. The Attlee-and-Churchill dealt with WSC's avoidance of Attlee with the comment "No. It is whenever you see something large, you wish to nationalize it."Howard C. Berkowitz 02:18, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Didn't see this! Will be around Sunday - Macauly and Gibbon will get their article! Denis Cavanagh 22:23, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

What are the rules?

Rules? This is a party! There are no rules!

Well, OK, maybe there are a couple rules:

  • We'll have a Write-a-Thon the first Wednesday of every month.
  • To participate, you only have to do two things: (1) start a new article (even just a stub will qualify, if not too short - and please remember to include the subpages template!), and (2) make a substantive edit (not just a copyedit) to somebody else's new article. Then you can list your name here as a partier. Until then, sign in as a porch-sitter, party-crasher, or total party poop.

This month's Party Theme

Thoughts and Books

Authors, famous books, revolutionary ideas and theories, and all the meta stuff that can be layered on top of it. Tom

The Partiers

  • Aleta is here without a thought. She thinks she'd better wake up in a hurry, and go knocking on some doors. Aleta Curry 22:51, 3 February 2009 (UTC) Well, Aleta was here earlier, and Joe's precipitous entry got her thinking about other stereotypes, which led to prejudice, a concept she found hard to express. Life interfered, but she came back to add her thoughts, so she could be a bona fide partier before the end!
  • Supten thought of starting something, did start it and thought whether there could be any partier helping with making the article on Clinical decision support system approvable! Then he faintly remembered that a man called Leo Tolstoy had said "I need only three things in life - books, books and books!" and it might suit the theme of the W-a-t to populate that page. Finally, he added a few external links to Almagest for earning the partier status. Next day he came back to have a look at indigenous knowledge and added a related article link to Ethnobotany after defining the latter without starting a page.
  • Howard says thinks he wants to prevent Southern sheriffs saying "what we got, boy, is a failure to com-MUN-i-cate", so he's been bringing in all sorts of AN- military radios (and other electronic magic). He also touched on the Encyclopedia Galactica...he means...Citizendium Foundation novels. Oh...he'd be extremely interested in clinical decision support system. He also did complete metadata on Robin Warren and Barry Marshall, but thinks it's only fair someone see if they can be converted to Australian English before someone gets an ulcer.
  • Paul is serious (no jokes for this guy) and wrote seriously about history's most serious book on the serious science of astronomy, the Almagest (did I forget to mention that Ptolemy's work is to be taken seriously?).
  • Louise is popping in briefly, whilst in the middle of cracking a fascinating case at work, to discuss August Strindberg, whose Inferno / From an Occult Diary she has been completely absorbed in for the last two days. More later after the commute home. Louise Valmoria 06:06, 4 February 2009 (UTC) After returning home, confesses that she spent several hours engrossed in a reread of Patrick Suskind's Perfume and really should be contributing more about ideas and intellectual history ... but has just wandered into the party chatting up Leo Tolstoy. Where to now? Erich Fromm's humanistic works Man For Himself and The Fear of Freedom were just on my reading list, but Edward O. Wilson's theory of Consilience might hold more interest ... and I haven't redlinked those yet because sleep calls and I'll come back to the party tomorrow. Louise Valmoria 12:01, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Joe finally put his typing fingers to work on the thoughts that he has about the article he's been complaining about. What could be more thoughtful than indigenous knowledge?
  • User:Pat_Palmer has brought her article Beyond_Recall over from Wikipedia and hacked on it here, since it fits this months theme. It could use more work (which will have to wait until tonight as I am currently at work), and in particular, a mother article about Theodor Fontane needs to be started. Unfortunately, many of Fontane's novels have not been translated into English, or if they have, are out of print, although his works remain widely known and popular to German readers. And they were extremely risque at the time of their original publication (1890's), dealing with divorce, depression and marital infidelity as they do.Pat Palmer 18:48, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Knowing that this month's topic was Thought, Hayford's thoughts immediately turned to Food for thought and from there, naturally, to Food, and from there, of course, to the man who was/is considered to be history's greatest eater, Diamond Jim Brady. But is it actually true or not? Read the article in a day or so to find out! (There was more material to digest than I thought, not trying to make Diamond Jim puns, and it will take me a while to finish the article.) I also did some extensive editing on the Foundation Series article, thus making me a full-fledged Partier, yay! Hayford Peirce 05:21, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Larry Sanger finally joined the party and greatly expanded lampoons of philosophers, actually a pretty interesting topic. Then wrote truth-seeking, one of my favorite topics since being a confused, truth-seeking teenager. Finally, I gave some more thought to thought.
  • It took some time. I was in three rather long lectures yesterday, got home and had precisely zero energy left to write anything incisive. But, I present Definite descriptions. I've also edited a few other things and done some Related Articles subpages. Not sure about absinthe, but I'll down some of this slightly vile highly caffeinated orange-flavoured energy drink that I'm currently addicted to. --Tom Morris 14:52, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Daniel started Ecological footprint and made some edits to the Leo Tolstoy cluster. --Daniel Mietchen 03:27, 8 February 2009

Keen-as-mustard and jumped the gun

(CC) Photo: Stephen Pougas
False starts welcome here :)
  • Joe jumped the gun by a couple of days with ecological Indian. This is a very sensitive idea for a lot of people, so it would be great if people could read it with an eye for neutrality and clarity.
    • Go, Joe! Engaging and thoughful. I'll be back to do an objective criticism later, if you insist, right now I'm too busy being impressed. Aleta Curry 00:58, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Derek is settling into his new digs at Encyclopedia Galactica headquarters and starting in on Isaac Asimov. As long as we're talking about people born in Russia, how about visiting Leo Tolstoy -Derek Hodges 02:55, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Milt got a fast start as he concentrated his thoughts on the task at hand.
    • Starting with Avogadro guacamole, then a main dish of turkey Mole. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:55, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Yet another false start, but it is Wednesday in Australia, Chris subpaginated On the Origin of Species.

Rather late and missed the boat!

Well, I've been thinking of writing Mekong Delta for some time, and, with one enormous river with nine Dragon Mouths to the sea, it should be a good place to catch the boat. The main article is underway; it will be more than a stub but will have much more opportunity for additions. As I have time today, I should also add articles on a number of its provinces.

As far as edits, worked on The Black Spring of Cuba‎ and related articles, trying to get them to be less of a protest document and more a neutral description. *sigh* one can report on bad things without emotionalizing the presentation. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:32, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Porch sitters--article creators who didn't edit a new article

What Is This Thing Called Science is a book and it's about thoughts, so Yuval Langer really did fit today's theme. Yuval Langer 13:15, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Yuval! You're here! Hurrah! Aleta Curry 10:14, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Party crashers--article contributors who didn't create a new article

Bobby Driscoll and Connie Stevens in The Party Crashers - 1958

The shy ones, absent-minded profs, and other modest creatures

Ched Davis 11:18, 8 February 2009 (UTC) Not sure what's going on yet, but working on it - afraid I was the one that brought the site down (created a dup entry, and may need help fixing it: I created Virus (computers) when Virus (computer) already existed. (note the s in computers). Never tell the new guy to be bold I guess ;) Ched Davis 11:18, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Side note, I noticed that Larry's Bio got locked down over at WP tonight - wasn't me this time ;) Ched Davis 11:18, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
Hi Ched, and welcome! Of course you're supposed to be bold! We (okay, okay, not I, but some of the more brill ones) can always fix what goes wrong.
What's going on is everyone coming together for a good time all at once. I'm the M.C. I'm here on the first Wednesday of the month, unless something happens, as it did this past WaT Wednesday. This month we tried having a Sunday session as well, and it looks like people showed up to write, though I don't think we had an official M.C. for the day.
Aleta Curry 22:32, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

The total party poops

Deep apologies - today has been a total blitz for me, sorry to have missed the funGareth Leng 22:18, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Oh, what a shame! I know how that goes--I couldn't be here for long today myself.
Do you want to try Sunday?
Aleta Curry 10:15, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
D'oh! Forgot about this entirely, inundated with college work the last few weeks. The IRA still remains on my to do list and hopefully will get to work soon Denis Cavanagh 22:21, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Write-a-Thon II

Well, if we've bothered to have one, why not have a separate section about it, so that we partiers can toot our own whistles or whatever?

In any event, Hayford didn't create a new article but continued work on what he started at the regular party event of a couple of days ago, Diamond Jim Brady. Diamond Jim is such an outsized subject that his article is threatening to become equally outsized, although not, I hope, as a legend says about the size of Jim's stomach when either Xrayed or examined after his death (there's a lot of myth about the man) 6 times larger than normal. Maybe I'll still be working on this by the first Wednesday of March.... Hayford Peirce 03:38, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Mmmm--yes, we could have a separate section. I notice some others just continued on Sunday under the regular categories above. Aleta Curry 22:38, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Special Requests


  • When drafting stuff to add to Leo Tolstoy, I really wanted to add something about The Kreutzer Sonata. Except, evidently, there are two: the Beethoven duet (which is stunning and I love playing it and I also want to write about it) and Tolstoy's short story. How would I disambiguate these? Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata is a short story, so I can't write 'The Kreutzer Sonata (novel)', but I need pointers into our naming system. Would I title it '... (short story)'? Or something else? And what about the musical composition? Louise Valmoria 12:06, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Never mind, I just thought of it--I can use the composition name (Op. whatever) for the Beethoven. Louise Valmoria 22:46, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
      • You could still do Kreutzer Sonata (Tolstoy) or [[Kreutzer Sonata (Tolstoy story}]] or (short story) or (novella) or (novelette) if it's either of those (I find it hard to think of Tolstoy as having written anything short. And I'm really, really jealous that you play so well. I was really, really jealous about Hayford and Milt and the famous tennis players as well (if you don't know what that means, you have to come by the forums more often.) Aleta Curry 10:12, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Does anyone want to try an adjunct session this Sunday? People asked, I answered, but so far, no takers! So...where are all of you? Aleta Curry 10:17, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
  • What clever person formatted the bullets on this list? I noticed, I noticed! Aleta Curry 10:17, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

It's a wrap!

  • This was great! Number of partiers was back up (I didn't count number of articles) and we had four (I think) pop in on Sunday. Thanks, everybody! Aleta Curry 23:26, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

empty form

Official libations


  • Inaugural - beer!
  • September - champagne
  • October - we were refurbishing the bar and only had coffee!
  • November - made up for last month with more vodka than was good for us and plenty of rum.
  • December - eggnog and wine


  • January - Whisky and the Cocktail of the Month, a pharisee
  • February - schnapps and the Cocktail of the Month, the caipirinha (considered the national drink of Brazil)
  • March - port wine (which should probably live at port (wine), no? (Someone put that on their list, please....Oh, *someone* did--thanks, Ro) and the Cocktail of the Month, a Dead Aunt
  • April - Akpeteshie hot and fresh from Ghana. And cool shandies and spritzers if that took your fancy. Lotsa staggering around the bar after this party!
  • May - Was it champagne? No, we were dry, I think.
  • June - Were we abstaining yet again?
  • July - Sherry
  • August - pineapple juice Well, that's all right, I guess!
  • September - Given the music theme, i assume it was pop?
  • October - Cranberry juice. Some nut who shall remain nameless but whose initials are HP suggested Drano, (i.e. what cleans better than Drano?) but....
  • November - Spring water (Now Bruce just has to write it! Aleta Curry 04:00, 3 December 2008 (UTC))
  • December - Piña colada - get some light rum, mix it with pineapple and coconut cream. Instantly warp back to the eighties.


  • January - Bloody Mary - because, as Nietzsche said, we should only love that which is written with blood. Controversial enough?
  • February - Absinthe - updates last month, but doesn't it make one forget? (No. Urban legend, except that 50-percent-plus alcohol does do its mite)

Francis Ford Coppola's winery has introduced a new product line that would be perfect for some future write-a-thon: Encyclopedia Riesling, Encyclopedia Cabernet, Encyclopedia Malbec, etc.

Bonus point winners

  • Just nine new articles to get to 9,400 CZ:Live articles. I guess that will be worth a few bonus points, especially if they are completed clusters too! Chris Day 05:43, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
    • Update: Three more articles to go and we break 9,600. Chris Day 16:46, 8 February 2009 (UTC)
      • Ended on 9601, thanks to Howard updating all those uncategorized articles. Now we need to work on the word count per article. Chris Day 14:33, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
        • Waits for Aleta's screams to hear "Howard" and "word count per article" used in the same sentence. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 17:23, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
          • Not a peep out of moi! Aleta Curry 22:42, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Chris gets 500 bonus points for pointing this out.
  • Howard gets 2001 bonus points for pushing us over the to speak....Aleta Curry 22:45, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Write-a-Thon Theme Suggestions

New Suggestions and Discussion

  • How about another Spring cleaning in March 2009? Daniel Mietchen 08:20, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
Not a bad idea at all, unless I get swamped with new, untried requests in the mean time. Aleta Curry 18:47, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
Possibly the theme could be subpages. Some of them need a lot of housekeeping. Or getting some decent images for the articles we do have. Chris Day 19:17, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
  • "Hometown Heroes" - write about someone famous from your part of the world (either where you're from, or where you are now).
  • "Poles Apart" - find the spot directly on the other side of Earth from you, and write about someone or something in the vicinity. (Contributors on other planets, follow a similar procedure for whatever planet you're on. Contributors not on planetary bodies permitted to write about whatever they feel like.)
  • Fill in an item from this interesting list of natural objects. Or this interesting list of people.
  • All articles must start with the same letter of the alphabet, allowing for diacritics and transliteration (so Å, Á, and あ would all count if A were the letter, for instance).
  • Photo stubs - no minimum word length, no theme requirement, but must contain an image.
  • Choose a random number from 1 to 500, then go to Special:WantedPages and start an article on the topic currently at that rank.
  • How about an alternate weekend date, say the Sunday after the official Write-a-Thon, for those of us who spend our Wednesdays working at places that frown on extensive personal use of company computers? --Petréa Mitchell 19:15, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
There's a current forum thread on this-the proposal was to move the WaT to the weekend. Your suggestion might pose a good compromise. Aleta Curry 21:33, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
I would be a lot more able to participate on weekends. My weekday workdays are 11+ hours.Pat Palmer 02:51, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • What will people most enjoy writing that could lead many different contributors to a short, but complete and interesting article that links to larger articles? Maybe "Events" could be a theme - pen-portraits of memorable sporting moments (see try, or notable historical events - including tsunamis, eruption of Krakatoa, comet collision with Jupiter, the birth of Dolly the sheep, freeing of Nelson Mandela, the sinking of the Titanic, assassination of Martin Luther King, the Mutiny on the Bounty, the discovery of the Americas? Can I suggest asking that every new article should have at least one external link and links to other articles here?Gareth Leng 12:31, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I like this idea. Further, definitions and other subpages are preferable, even for stubs. Chris Day 17:01, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Dare I suggest that even stubs can and should be non-orphans? Basic criteria: Howard C. Berkowitz 18:00, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Reachable from the front page or a core article/workgroup page
  • Link to at least three other articles, even if they are redlinks in a Related Articles subpages
  • Have at least three other articles link to them
  • Well, next Wednesday is rapidly approaching. Anyone got any firm opinions on what the theme ought to be? My suggestion is "Thoughts and Books", which is broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of different things: authors, famous books, revolutionary ideas and theories, and all the meta stuff that can be layered on top of it. I'm also going to suggest that whatever the theme is, if we could try and decide it before the weekend, then we could set up a page off of the Write-a-Thon page to list pages we'd like to see existing that are covered by the theme. --Tom Morris 15:26, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Thoughts and books is a great idea, would fit in nicely with what I'm working with at the moment. How about a biography day for the month after? They wouldn't have to be particularly long but we could fill a lot of red links with a few well written and brief bios of important folks... Denis Cavanagh 17:07, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

That actually fits really well with something I'm working on right now too. I'm all for it! --Joe Quick 19:42, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
While it's current work of mine, is there a good place to discuss some issues of writing biography articles in general? Choices in flow? And, as is fairly nightmarish with Ho Chi Minh, when the subject changed names or had simultaneous aliases? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:11, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Future Theme Schedule

  • February - Thoughts and Books
  • March - Spring Clean II!
  • April - Events
  • May -

See also