User:Rob Kennedy

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23 July 2014
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I’m Rob Kennedy. I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science from UW–Madison, and I’m working on a master’s degree in the same field at UW–Milwaukee. I participate in numerous Delphi-related mailing lists and newsgroups, and I run a Web site called Delphi Q&A. Most of that has little relevance to my activity on Wikipedia.

My Wikipedia interests lie primarily in copy editing and wikifying articles, as well as policies in the Manual of Style. In college, I was the copy chief and Web manager of The Daily Cardinal.

Links[edit]

These are links I want to keep handy.

Stock post message.svg To do[edit]

Soapbox[edit]

I have some opinions about how things should be done around here. Not all of them are well formed, at least not here on this page.

Editing style[edit]

Overview[edit]

I'm involved with the Manual of Style. As of April 2007, I've made more than twice as many edits to its talk page than I have to any other page in any other namespace. Style is a funny thing. The purpose of a style manual is to encourage consistency, both within single articles and across multiple articles. There are few hard-and-fast rules in a good style manual, though. Application of any rules needs to be accompanied by an inteligent editor. Good rules are ones that include rationale as well as instructions. That lets editors know what the goal was in establishing the rule and thus lets the editors judge whether the rule is appropriate before applying it.

The Manual of Style is frequently subject to instruction creep. That's something to be avoided. Not everything has to be spelled out. It's OK for a style rule to be a little vague. It leaves room for the rule to bend when appropriate.

AP style[edit]

AP This user prefers Associated Press style.

Like I said above, I used to work for The Daily Cardinal, a student newspaper in Madison, Wis. There I learned to appreciate some of the Associated Press’s style rules, including those for abbreviations and spellings. Among Wikipedia’s style rules is that U.S. state abbreviations should be spelled out, but I prefer most of the AP abbreviations instead. It looks stilted to always spell out state names. The idea is that non-American readers won’t know what the abbreviations stand for, and while I appreciate the concern, I don’t think it’s quite the problem some make it out to be. For one thing, when a city-state combination appears in an article, it will probably be wikilinked, so readers can see the full name either by following the link or by pausing the cursor over the link and reading the tool tip or status-bar message that shows the link destination. Readers with Navigation popups installed will get an even better hint. At the same time, readers who are familiar with the abbreviations will get tighter writing that looks more like what they read in other venues, such as newspapers and magazines.

One style I think is inappropriate is U.S. Postal Service state abbreviations. Those abbreviations are for postal workers. The AP abbreviations are usually more indicative of what the state’s name is. The exception that comes to mind is Pennsylvania, which the AP abbreviates to Pa. I would have expected Penn.

Singular they[edit]

they
he or she
This user considers the singular they to be substandard English usage.

It’s well established that the “singular they” is not a new phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be embraced as perfectly acceptable in the formal style of Wikipedia articles. It does not take much effort to recast a sentence to avoid using they to refer to just one person. It usually consists of making other single references plural, in which case they no longer sounds awkward. In limited quantities, the phrase “he or she” will do as well.

Serial comma[edit]

A, B, and C This user prefers the serial comma.

My preference on the use of the serial comma is one place where I disagree with AP style. I think the comma is a better reflection of the cadence used when reading lists, silently or aloud.

Typographer’s quotes[edit]

“…” This user favours typographic quotation marks over typewriter style.

I like curly quotation marks and apostrophes. I also like to see other characters that don’t generally appear on keyboards, such as the ellipsis, the long (em) dash. Web browsers today are sufficiently advanced that they are capable of understanding those characters, so even if there is not a font available for some of them, the browser can still display an approximation.

Citations[edit]

<ref> This user would like to see everyone using inline citations. Please...

More important than using the Cite.php <ref> style of citations, I consider it essential to use the citation-related templates like {{cite news}} and {{cite web}}. Use those instead of simply linking a bare URL. This has two advantages. First, in the list of references at the end of an article, the citation looks nice, with text describing the reference so that readers can judge it without having to follow the link. Second, that additional information is helpful when a link goes dead. When a URL is the only thing identifying a source, then the source becomes useless when the link no longer works. With the additional information that the citation templates afford, replacing a broken link becomes easier. It also helps when sources aren’t publicly available.

See Wikipedia:Footnotes for style guidelines on using <ref>. In particular, note that there should be no space before the <ref> tag, and it should come after punctuation such as periods and commas. The {{reflist}} template comes in handy when first adding references to an article.

American English[edit]

US This user uses American English.

I have something to say here, but I’m not sure what, yet.

Capitalization style[edit]

I have stuff to say regarding Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters), but I haven’t quite figured out how I want to organize it.

Gnome-compressed.svg Ooh, userboxes, shiny![edit]

Things I might know something about[edit]

pas This user can program in Pascal.
C++ This user can program in C++.
WikiProject Scouting BSA current member.svg This user is a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
WikiProject Scouting BSA Philmont arrowhead.svg This user survived a trek through Philmont Scout Ranch.
{#if} This user understands and uses ParserFunctions.

Personal information[edit]

Flag of Wisconsin.svg
Plato-raphael.jpg This user is an academic.
Graduation hat.svg This user is a graduate student in computer science.
Crystal Clear app browser.png This user has a website, which can be found here.
/.
This user has a Slashdot account.
LT This user uses LibraryThing  as rkennedy.