My work for Wikipedia
I created this account on 1 August 2006, and made my first edit on 11 August 2006. I created the account because one day I tried to edit at the local library, but found the IP was blocked because of vandalism. I think I had previously made a few edits anonymously, but I don't remember anything about those edits.
It is now the 19th of April 2013, and this is my 90,553rd edit.
I started making very small edits, mostly minor corrections when I noticed errors in articles. This has continued to be a significant part of my editing, but I have sometimes made more substantial edits to articles. I have created a few new articles, but this has never been a major part of my editing. As time passed I gradually found that problems I found led me into other areas, including reverting vandalism, discussions on policy and administrative issues. Eventually there came a time when vandalism fighting was the main focus of my work. I was then asked by an administrator who had seen my anti-vandalism work to consider becoming an administrator myself, and, after some consideration, I decided to take up the offer. I became an administrator on 21 June 2010.
Since I have been an administrator I have contributed to a number of admin areas, particularly anti-vandal work, reviewing unblock requests, and clearing up backlogs of speedy-deletion candidates. Other aspects admin work I have sometimes contributed to include closing redirect discussions, Requests for permissions/Rollback, requests for help from an admin, Usernames for administrator attention, Wikipedia:Articles for creation/Redirects, Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations, Miscellany for deletion, Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention and Requests for page protection.
I try hard to be welcoming to good faith new users, believing it is worth the effort of trying to explain why a contribution is unacceptable, rather than simply throwing a link to a guideline. Unfortunately I do not always succeed in making new users feel welcome, but I get enough thanks to know that I often do succeed. When dealing with new users I am a very strong believer in avoiding the use of opaque acronyms. Yes, it takes longer to type "[[WP:COI|conflict of interest]]" than "[[WP:COI]]", or "[[WP:BIO|the notability guideline for people]]" than "[[WP:BIO]]", but if the purpose is to help the editor, not simply to dismiss them, it is worth the effort.
Wikipedia gets an enormous amount of use. This is not only because there is a lot of stuff here, but also because on the whole most of it is of a fairly good quality. Wikipedia would not have the amount of success it has unless most of its material was of a reasonably high quality. Unfortunately, in an encyclopaedia which anyone can edit, a lot of the editing is not of a good quality. Wikipedia's success therefore depends to a great extent on a large number of volunteers who give up a large amount of their own time to clean things up, improve the quality of what is there, and remove what is not so good. Some Wikipedians choose not to spend time on that, but to concentrate only on writing new content. That is absolutely fine, but sometimes those who make that choice disparage and vilify the work of others who make a different choice, and that is not absolutely fine. Writing content and cleaning up what is there are both essential and constructive parts of building the encyclopaedia. Some people make balanced contributions to both areas, others choose to concentrate on one area or the other. Whichever choice we make we can all respect others who contribute in different ways.
Me in real life
My name is not James, nor Watson, nor do I have the middle initial "B". Why JamesBWatson then? No special reason. When I first registered on Wikipedia I intended to use my real name, or a version of it if someone else had already taken it. However, I found myself reading a message warning me that using your real name on Wikipedia might not be a good idea, and, doubtful about it, I picked the first fictitious name I thought of. In one of the Sherlock Holmes stories Dr Watson is referred to as "James" (though elsewhere his name is given as "John"). I think the B was a reference to an old friend whose name really is James (but not Watson). It mildly amuses me when Wikipedians address me, in a friendly manner as "James" or, more rarely, refer to me contemptuously as "Watson". However, feel free to do either or both of these: I am quite happy with it.
I am a graduate mathematician, and some of my editing has been in mathematical articles. However, this is a fairly small proportion of my total work on Wikipedia.
I have an alternative account at User:JamesAWatson. It was set up with the intention that it could be used only in insecure environments, such as public computers, where access to an admin account might be problematic. At present I have not used it for that purpose, though I may do so some time. I have very occasionally used it for testing purposes and the like. My main use of it, in fact, is to see how things look to a non-admin editor using the default interface for Wikipedia, which I don't use as I find it awkward. Sometimes it is helpful to know how things look to most users, so as to be able to explain to an inexperienced user how to do something or other. I also created an account JBW test account, which I have used only once, to test the effect of changes to a block notice.