Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee implements genuine reform.

Good news at last: Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee has implemented a new system that saves weeks and months of hassle without any loss in quality over their previous system.  Check it out here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Referencing comes full circle

I wonder whether amigurumi was invented to keep guys away from things.  Drop an amigurumi on the remote control, send a shiver down his spine, and he leaves the room to hunt for leftover pizza while a woman settles in happily to watch the shopping channel.  The cuteness factor on these things is absolutely repellent.

One of the areas where Commons and Wikipedia need more attention is textile arts.  It's not as if men never touch the subject (here's a photograph of WMF volunteer coordinator Cary Bass's crochet project), but let's face it: women are underrepresented among editors and it's usually women who take an interest in the subject.

If a guy's going to work on textile arts it probably won't be amigurumi.  It's a crochet form that originated in Japan to make miniature animals, such as the owl at right.  I don't make them, but the quantity of amigurumi photographs at Wikimedia Commons had reached the point where a category was justified.  So I made a new category today.  It's the sort of housekeeping work that makes Wikimedia Commons useful and anyone can do it on subjects they happen to know.

Back at Wikipedia I added a {{Commonscat}} template at the amigurumi article to link to the new category.  Then I looked at the article, which is a dreadful little stub whose only reference is an AOL blog that probably isn't reliable.  So I looked for something better.  Mostly the references on this type of subject aren't very good: they tend to be how-to books with a lot of patterns and minimal context.  But that's better than nothing, right?


Here's an excerpt from  the top return on Google Books: Amigurumi!: Super Happy Crochet Cute by Elisabeth A. Doherty
In Japan a crocheted or knitted doll is called an amigurumi (ah-mee-guh-ROO-mee). Disclaimer: Please, people. I do not speak Japanese. This pronunciation guide should be taken with a grain of salt. There is very little information available in English on Amigurumi, so I have decided to go with my own definition based on information I found in an online encyclopedia. Ami is a shortening of the word amimie, which means “stitch.” Gurumi is a shortening of the word nuigurumi, which means “stuffed doll or toy.” Smoosh the two together and you get amigurumi.
The book was published in 2007 and that's reasonably close to Wikipedia's definition as it appeared at the end of 2006.  I don't know if we'll ever get a reliable source on this stuff, but I'll keep looking.