My first year, 2011
I first signed up as a WP editor in 2011 and managed to do a small amount of editing. At the time, I was still volunteering as exec dir for Earthwave Society, a small nonprofit conservation organization I founded in the 90s to help save endangered species. I was also quite busy with my photographic career. It took a few years to completely unravel from an all-consuming career as publisher of a regional magazine, and scriptwriter, series producer and post-production editor of local network programming, a bit of field work for CNN Headline News, a weekly series for sports cable, and scripting features for Travel Channel programs and the Financial News Network. I eventually focused entirely on writing/producing/shooting/editing nature programming for PBS and international broadcast, and occasionally worked in cooperation with Virginia Tech, the USF&WS and several other federal and state resource agencies.
What I gleaned from my early experiences as a WP newbie bursting onto the scene was that it's best to make small edits in the beginning, and read WP:PAG to acquire a better understanding of "community", and what's expected from GF collaboration. I went about it all wrong, and because I didn't understand how the WP community functioned, I was discouraged from editing altogether. Reflecting on those experiences, I highly recommend WP:MENTORSHIP to new editors. I also believe the following behavioral guidelines will prove helpful: WP:HEAR, WP:DONTBITETHENEWBIES and the essay WP:AVDUCK, the latter of which I created and co-authored.
- Edit warring will get you blocked. New editors can become easy targets if they don't learn WP:3RR before they start editing.
- Good Articles and Featured Articles are typically overseen by stewards - do not mistake the behavior of stewards for WP:OWN. GAs and FAs undergo a stringent review process; FA is the most scrutinized of all.
- AGF (Assume Good Faith) is a term you will hear often. It does work most of the time but when it doesn't, it may be time to review WP:Civility and the various essays that deal with behavior issues.
- "Lying is a strong word. I didn't believe what they were saying." ~~ Michael Morell, former CIA, in response to a question about the Benghazi Report during a FOX interview, 05-12-2015.
I traveled extensively during 2012 and 2013 to hone my photographic skills, so I took a 2-year hiatus from editing WP. There were long periods of time during my travels when I had no internet access. It was all quite peaceful and a great way to wind-down from a fast-paced career in television broadcast.
Learning highlights, 2014
In January 2014, I opted for semi-retirement which afforded me the opportunity to give something back as a volunteer on WP by sharing what knowledge I've acquired during a wonderful 30+ year career as a writer, tv producer, and photographer. I am also an accomplished equestrian and rancher so my area of expertise covers those topics as well; ranching being the reason I may never be able to fully retire. I learned some very valuable lessons in 2014, and am happy to say I've collaborated with some very patient and understanding editors who, for years, have voluntarily invested their time and effort into making WP an exceptional online resource. They certainly have earned my respect and admiration.
- The most important lesson I've learned so far: I still have a lot to learn. But isn't that what keeps life interesting?
- Listen, observe, and try not to take criticisms and reverts personally, especially those performed by seasoned editors. In fact, before attempting to edit an existing article, utilize the article's talk page, and begin a discussion about the changes or updates you'd like to make. It's a common mistake for neophytes to jump right in, and try to change an article based on WP's open edit policy without first discussing the proposed changes with the stewards, or guardians of the article.
- Don't go into a discussion with preconceived notions. Try to maintain an open mind, and a closed mouth which in Wiki talk translates into not posting when your emotions are in control.
- WP editors come in many different shapes and sizes from many different parts of the world with many different sociopolitical views. You're not always going to win in a debate, and rightly so.
- Some of us will simply not be able to remember all the acronyms.
- Archiving one's talk page for ready access to discussions later isn't always as easy as slapping on a template.
- Composing an article from scratch is much different from editing someone else's work...most of the time.
- Be kind to newbies, even if you have to force yourself, and never forget your earliest days on WP.
- Composing an article from scratch, having it nominated to DYK, having few changes made during review, and being on Wiki's main page is most AWESOME!!
- Good collaboration between in-sync editors opens the door to unlimited possibilities.
- Editing an article to GA status, and then nominating it for DYK is more than most AWESOME.
- Editing an article from stub to DYK eligibility, then expanding it to GA and eventually to FA in collaboration with knowledgable, veteran editors is an excellent learning experience. The FA review can be humbling, as it was for me with American paddlefish, but I consider it an honor to have worked with and learned from such quality editors during the review process. FA is a goal all editors should strive to achieve.
I'm sure that over time I will be adding more to my list of lesson highlights.
- In 9 months, I was able to contribute to the promotion of 5 GAs, 1 FA, and 5 DYKs. It's a flimsy record compared to that of the brilliant, code savvy, talented individuals I've had the honor of collaborating with but it makes me smile.
- Admins are people, too. A few need to use the archive feature on their talk pages more often - the autobot archiver works well, and the One Click Archiver is pretty handy.
- There is so much more to learn. Atsme☯Consult 20:42, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Learning highlights, 2015
Disruptive cabal editing is the gift that keeps on giving and the gift is a daily beating. I don't think there is anything more detrimental to the project than a cabal with an axe to grind or a POV to push. I think we defined it pretty well in WP:AVDUCK. If your purpose here is to contribute verifiable, well-sourced information that will help improve the encyclopedia, your experience should be a pleasant one. However, if you stumble onto an article that is controlled by an advocacy known to engage in tendentious editing and reverts by tag-team, you may be able to save yourself a lot of grief by heeding the essay's advice for seeking resolution.
In July 2015, I edited a handful of fish articles and was met with an unwarranted challenge at WP:COIN because of my prior affiliations as a volunteer with Earthwave Society, an all-volunteer, nonprofit conservation organization. I call it a COINoscopy because of how deeply the investigation probed into my RL, including personal domain registrations. While COIN serves a useful purpose, the case against me was retaliatory and what I believed to be an abuse of the process. I filed a WP:RfAR titled COIN Abuse but my case was denied because I failed to seek other dispute resolution first. I won't go into detail regarding the circumstances but I will say that I was wrongfully accused of mismanaging a COI over a handful of fish articles. I was also accused of a COI for an article I did not edit and for another article that was totally unrelated to the volunteer position I once held. Everything I did, every edit I made was above board and in compliance with WP:COI and WP:PAG. I participated in a 3O which resulted in an apology to me and that would have been the end of it had the apology been sincere.
Oh, no!! Not another tribble!!
Fortunately, most Wikipedians are neither retaliatory nor do they have bad intentions. There have been instances when various biases have been an issue, and there are also issues relating to the gender gap. I've experienced quite the gambit first hand, and while there were times I felt dominated by nothing but ill-will and was ready to call it quits, along came the magical bright spots of true collaborative editing which corrected the imbalance, all the while reminding me of everything that's good about being a WP editor. Unfortunately, not all editors survive the onslaught of certain cabals but those who do are the real heroes in my eyes. If they're reading my page now, they already know who they are and what I think about them so there's no need to mention user names. Instead I'll refer to them as Wiki Tribbles and hope they keep multiplying. I'll just put it this way, if you are among the editors I've collaborated with, past and present, and we've worked together in such a way that our disagreements didn't burn any bridges and we improved the encyclopedia, then I consider you a very special Wikipedian, and thank you for all you do and all you've done to make collaboration an enjoyable experience. 20:09, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
To top-off a significant portion of 2015, I've included a link to the trailer for Anger Management. I can relate to the Dave character. Use your imagination for the role of Dr. Rydell. It was pretty easy for me to think of a least dozen people who fit the role perfectly:  It's all in fun. Enjoy! Atsme📞📧 19:16, 20 September 2015 (UTC) add new link 12:36, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
|2015 in a nutshell
- Wrote my first essay for editors who think they've been confronted by an aggressive advocate or advocacy tag team which may also include sock puppetry. See: Advocacy ducks for guidance.
- If you think you're being harassed or hounded, you're not alone. Don't lose your cool or say something you'll regret later.
- Most admins deserve respect for what they do day to day. There are the rare few who forgot to leave their biases at login. Regardless, AGF and seek a third opinon from an experienced editor.
- Journalistic integrity is grounded in neutrality and so is encyclopedic integrity. Read the following for more details: SPJ Code of Ethics.
- Editing WP is a lot like bussing tables. The minute you get one table clean, new customers come in and create a mess undoing all your hard work. Not to be confused with coworkers adding condiments and cleaning up areas you may have overlooked.
Articles I either created or made substantial contributions to in a collaborative effort
- Gabor B. Racz - created and co-authored; it was nominated for DYK by User:Alf.laylah.wa.laylah, included on main page at 07:20, on 26 April 2014, Wikipedia:Recent_additions/2014/April, ....(Did you know)..."that Gabor Racz fled Budapest in 1956 after the Hungarian revolution and went on to hold a million-dollar endowed chair in anesthesiology at Texas Tech?"; nominated for GA - ✅ achieved GA. Over a year later, July/Aug 2015, I was wrongfully accused of a potential COI which became the catalyst for a mishandled GA reassessment (WP:GAR) of the Racz BLP. Everything about that GAR was noncompliant with the suggested guidelines, including no prior discussion with the article's creator, no attempts to resolve what a few editors referred to as puffery or sourcing issues, and wrongful accusations of copyvio for close paraphrasing and copy/pasting a few statements of fact, specifically credentials and awards from a 60+ page curriculum vitae. It was later suggested that I validate the free use status by contacting the author(s) of the CV and a 2nd press release. I did as suggested and provided free use statements by the author. As a result of all the disruption, the article was demoted as a GA. I have since added it back as a GA candidate and am patiently waiting for it to be reviewed.
- Alligator gar - substantial contributions, revamped/expanded the article, nominated for GA - ✅ achieved GA, (#1 in Top 10 edits, and #1 in Top 10 by added text, (+19,919 bytes). Nominated for DYK; ✅ DYK main page feature, 20 July 2014 - Did you know was updated with a fact from the article Alligator gar, which you recently created or substantially expanded. The fact was ... (Did you know)...that alligator gars (pictured) are "living fossils" that can breathe in both air and water? July 20, 2014 - 14,312 hits as a DYK main page feature; total hits 34,868 from Jul 1, 2014 – Jul 21, 2014.
- Bowfin - collaborative editor, substantial contributions - #1 in Top 10 by added text, (+17,986 bytes); nominated for GA status - ✅ achieved GA. Nominated for DYK; ✅ DYK main page, 19 October 2014 - Did you know was updated with a fact from the article Bowfin, which you recently created or substantially expanded. The fact was ... that bowfins can survive up to five days' exposure to air because they can breathe both air and water?
- American paddlefish - collaborative editor, substantial contributions with 89.3% - #1 in Top 10 edits, and #1 in Top 10 by added text - (81,994 bytes); nominated for GA status;✅ achieved GA; nominated for DYK on 09/05/2014 - ...that the planktivorous American paddlefish (pictured) is a primitive fish, and the only living species of its kind? First feature in the DYK section of the 10-07-2014 main page (7am); nominated for FA on 09/05/2014; promoted to FA on 11/12/2014; ✅ Featured Article 12-24/2014 - 25,971 views that day.
- Paddlefish - collaborative editor, substantial contributions - #1 in Top 10 by added text, (+6,060), Total Revisions (+3,340 bytes) ✅ promoted to GA August 21, 2015
- Sturgeon - collaborative editor, #3 in Top 10 by added text, (+2,991 bytes)
- Synodus_intermedius (sand diver) - collaborated with User:Cwmhiraeth who did the bulk of the editing, and nominated it for DYK. ✅ Cwmhiraeth is one of the few editors I truly admire for writing ability, versatility, and extraordinary contributions to DYK, GA, and FA.
Investigative Project on Terrorism - collaborative editor, substantial contributions. Currently working on a correctly titled article with properly sourced, accurate info to replace stub, and clean-up mess created in part by noncompliance with WP:NPOV, WP:NOR and WP:SYNTH. Collaboration is always welcome!! 23:15, 6 August 2014 (UTC) <---Yet another coatrack in WPs stockpile.
G. Edward Griffin - tried to improve and expand but was met with resistance. Not one of my edits remain so I stopped editing it all together. It is now another coatrack.
- WP:FP - and a special THANK YOU to User talk:Hafspajen and The Herald for introducing me to the featured picture segment of WP. 01:30, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
- WP:FP - nominated my photograph of a chain moray eel for FP. ✅ achieved FP.
- North American Piedmontese cattle - created - nominated for DYK - ✅ 11,777 views that day; nominated for GA status - ✅ achieved GA on March 14, 2015
- Nirmala (novel) - collaborative project with The Herald, his article and foundation. I helped with copy-editing and expansion. The reviewer said: Very impressive that all the progress made has made it reach the GA criteria now. The lead has been reorganised and summarises the article, whereas the other sections have been expanded. I understand regarding the reception section, it seems to make sense. Anyway well done Good article ☠ Jaguar ☠ 11:19, 18 April 2015 (UTC) ✅
- Taj Mahal - did some copy editing, a bit of expansion at the end of April to mid-May 2015. 14:41, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
- Ismah - copy editing - also tried to do something with the table at Fourteen Infallibles but haven't found the best approach for such a list. 21:23, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
- Wilson Block - created article stub. Needs infobox, photos and expansion of history and architectural design. 14:41, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
- United_States_v._Washington - did a bit of copyediting and participated in collaborative review for FA - ✅ on 9/26/2015 it was promoted to FA.
- Cicada - reviewer - ✅ October 5, 2015 promoted to GA
- Schmerber v. California - participated in FA review - ✅ on 10/31/2015 it was promoted to FA.