When I first edited a webplatform.org page, I was very nervous. I have experience (I won’t mention the number of years…) with both technical content and editing. So I expected to come to webplatform.org and dig into the content and change it easily. That wasn’t my experience. Whether it’s because of the MediaWiki markup or the expert eyes on the content or the instability of the site, I’m not sure, but I was intimidated. It didn’t help that just about the first contribution I made (after consulting with a couple of folks) was reversed by someone halfway around the world, in the middle of my night.
I’d consider myself a “Nervous Nelly” as they say. Or after that first experience, I’d call that contributor “Tim Idreget.”*
Yes, that was me: timidly pushing ahead only to regret doing so. But that’s ridiculous. No one cared. I made an edit, someone thought it wasn’t correct and changed it back. Someone just as unfamiliar with the site as I was. Someone who wasn’t privy to our discussion around the table. Someone who was trying to get through the tasks he wanted to do.
But what to do? Change it back to my way? Play tug-o-war? Leave it quietly and walk away? What to do?
Ask Shepazu! And of course, that was the best, because he said – and I’m not quoting here, but something to the effect of – This indicates that one of you doesn’t understand what the other is doing. Send a query and get it cleared up. And I did and it did.
But that brings me to another type of contributor. Let’s call him Rip, Rip Enburn. His sense of self proceeds himself. He’s not concerned with the page’s history: who edited this when and exactly what did they do – who cares? He’s on a roll, taking no prisoners, going for speed, and all that. Fortunately, I haven’t come across any of these on webplatform.org. But they’re out there. As an innocent lamb, if some of your content has been ripped to shreds, follow up. Make sure you know why. Get a second opinion. Rip may, in fact, not be right, or have even noticed that he clobbered something – or someone – along the way.
OK, I have to say it. Although they will not be given a stage name, there’s another contributor that is hard to take. It’s the armchair contributor.
Named after the armchair philosopher, they observe, they postulate, they provide commentary, but they don’t edit the actual page! (There’s an interesting discussion on wikipedia.org about armchair philosophy under the heading “Armchair theorizing.” A more visceral definition can be found in the Urban Dictionary.)
And, to tell you the truth, I’ve been one of these myself. It’s so much easier to lie in wait for someone else to make a contribution, and contribute suggestions on how they contributed. I have been to “community” sites and said “this is really bad” or “just bad,” and even left a comment to that effect. But did I stick around to offer a solution or take it to a resolution?
At any rate, what I want to be – what I want for you to be – is a confident contributor, like Connie Fident. She has a lot of hands, because she can work so creatively and smoothly, always knowing what to contribute, and how, within just the right amount of time.
But, really the only way we’re going to get there is to actually edit the pages themselves, and share our experiences and help each other improve, and then edit the pages themselves.
Whatever type of contributor you are, please do join us this week as we continue to improve the Array object and its properties, function and methods. We’ve broken out some of the tasks involved with editing the basic facts. So let us know if that takes off the edge to editing a page. Or let us know what type of contributor you are and how we can improve the experience for you. Don’t be shy, just edit a page and let us know how it went by emailing the public list.
* Persons depicted herein are fictional and do not represent any real persons living or dead, except for Shepazu.