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Bienvenidos / Bine aţi venit / Wilkommen / Benvinguts / Bienvenue / Benvenuti / Bem-vindo. Welcome to the Wikipedia home page of Joe Mabel.

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Wikipedia:Babel, etc.
enThis user is a native speaker of the English language.
es-3Este usuario puede contribuir con un nivel avanzado de español.
This user is a translator from Spanish to English on Wikipedia:Translation.
ro-2Acest utilizator poate contribui în română la un nivel intermediar.
This user is a translator from Romanian to English on Wikipedia:Translation.
de-1Dieser Benutzer hat grundlegende Deutschkenntnisse.
ca-1Aquest usuari pot contribuir amb un nivell bàsic de català.
it-1Questo utente può contribuire con un livello semplice di italiano.
pt-1Este usuário/utilizador pode contribuir com um nível básico de português.
fr-1Cet utilisateur peut contribuer avec un niveau élémentaire de français.
This user has a basic understanding of the Cyrillic script.
This user chooses not to listen to ultra-nationalist rhetoric, of whatever nation.
This user has been editing Wikipedia for more than 15 years.
This user is an administrator on the English Wikipedia. (verify)
This user has been on Wikipedia for 20 years, 3 months and 15 days.
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Platinum Editor Star.
This user is the subject of a wikibio.
BAThis user has a Bachelor of Arts degree.
MScThis user has a Master of Science degree.
Joe Mabel This user is an actual human.
This user is a member of the Cascadia Wikimedians User Group
This user was a member of the Wikipedia community when it was awarded the Erasmus Prize.

Wikipedia and me[edit]

I was one of the mainstays of Wikipedia for about three and a half years. I backed off from such a major role in April 2007, though I am still a moderately active participant here, and quite an active participant in The Commons. My reduction in involvement was largely because Wikipedia is now basically a success, and does not need my time the way it once did. The equivalent of a second, unpaid, full-time job needs to be fun, and in recent years I've found Commons more fun than Wikipedia.

I do a ton of photography here (over 50,000 images on the Commons), and continue to write the occasional article, and to do other things on a "hit-and-run" basis. Even since April 2007, I've probably done over 100 translations of articles from the Spanish-language Wikipedia, and a good number from other languages. At some point I may plunge back in here heavily, but as I say, I've been giving Commons more of my focus. - Jmabel | Talk 00:55, 28 December 2016 (UTC)


Originally from Freeport, New York, went to college at Wesleyan University, and did have a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Washington. Have lived most of my adult life in Seattle; also stints in London, Barcelona, and Bucharest.

In the software industry 1980-2020, about equally divided among hands-on programming, project/program management and management roles. I've worked successfully in areas ranging from 3D modeling to telephony to medical records, lead the team that developed the first playable online version of Magic: the Gathering, and helped devise architect realtime web access to the results of the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

From 2001 onwards, I was mostly been contracting and consulting. From 2010 into 2017 that included hands-on software development as sole developer on a cutting-edge web application that allows companies in the construction industry to view plans and specs of projects currently up for bid online: mostly JavaScript+jQuery, HTML5 Canvas, PHP, and postgreSQL. This "FastBid 3" system for the Builders Exchange of Washington (BXWA) entered production in August 2012. I later added features, developed a SaaS version BXWA can host for other plan centers, and reworked their back end (support for multiple servers, various admin tools, etc.). They decided that they "didn't want to become a software firm" and since I had already basically met their needs (including those of their users), I basically worked my way out of a job there: no remaining projects requiring a senior developer.

I closed out my "hands-on" career in software 2017-2020 in a similar role with Sound Structural Systems (Mountlake Terrace, Washington) as my client. I've handed that project off to a group of mostly Romanian developers, several of whom I had worked with on and off over the last 20 years.

As of December 2020 I largely retired from the software industry, though I'm still be available for half-day or full-day consultations (including pair programming/code review) and as a Seattle-based artist and photographer. I've also plunged seriously back into playing guitar.

My DYKs[edit]

Over 120 of my articles have been DYK'd. See User:Jmabel/DYK.

Some non-wiki writings by Joe Mabel[edit]

Jmabel Oct 2006


History, art, travel, film, books, bicycling, language and linguistics, politics (mostly the non-electoral sort), the game of go.

Favorite Music[edit]

Favorite Books[edit]

  • Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Shame by Salman Rushdie
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Gift by Lewis Hyde (ISBN 0394715195)
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison

Favorite Movies[edit]

Wikipedia: Major areas of work[edit]

The following is by no means comprehensive, but if you like, here's comprehensive, at least for the English language Wikipedia. I've also made extensive contributions to The Commons: see Commons:User:Jmabel.


In January 2004, I started Wikipedia:WikiProject Ethnic Groups. A lot has been done—I think Wikipedia is no longer flummoxed by the very notion of ethnicity, as it was—but more work on the project is certainly needed.

Related to Romania[edit]

Rooftops in Lipscani. You can see more of my pictures of Bucharest on my Wikimedia Commons user page

Most of these I've written myself, a few I've translated. If you are aware of Romanian-language articles that could use translation, please notify me on my talk page.

Romanian bands[edit]

Yiddish theater[edit]

In early 2005, I wrote a bunch of articles on the early years of Yiddish theater (and related topics like badchonim and Brodersänger). You can find a lot of them at Category:Jewish theatre. I also did some articles on the State Jewish Theater (Romania) and related topics. More to come at some unspecified future date. Tough area: not a lot on line (I think in many cases, we're the first to post even birth and death dates for some rather important figures); I managed to borrow a copy of Israil Bercovici's Romanian-language book on the history of Yiddish theater in Romania, which was useful for research, as were actor Jacob Adler's memoir and scholar Sol Liptzin's works. Really interesting stuff. Check out especially Abraham Goldfaden. This has been a weird one to research, because while I understand a bit of spoken Yiddish, I never learned to read it, so I'm not able to go to the primary sources.

Related to Seattle[edit]

Sky Church, Experience Music Project.
Bell Harbor Marina on the Seattle Waterfront

Related to Jorge Luis Borges and Argentina[edit]

Related to the French Revolution[edit]

I also carried the article on the French Revolution solidly through about September 1792, and spun out more detailed historical articles (incorporating, also, a few solid pieces that were already there), but didn't get around to continuing it past that point. Over the years, others have this forward.

Related to Catalunya and the Catalan world[edit]

Lower portion of the façade of the church of the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. (shot on 35mm in 2001)

I've translated:

...and a few others, mostly to do with Catalan monarchs and with Mallorca

BTW, pet peeve: Wikipedia chooses the spellings "Catalonia" and "Majorca".

I also wrote Ramon Casas i Carbó, drawing heavily on the excellent Casas Carbo Web site. I'd be interested in hearing about other decent sources to flesh this out further.

Brown v. Board of Education[edit]

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, I've written several short articles, including ones on the three other cases combined into Brown (Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, and Gebhart v. Belton) and on the Fifth Circuit Four.


Detail, Memorial Chapel, Wesleyan University

And for those who just like to look at the pictures...[edit]

In recent years, my strongest involvement in Wikimedia Foundation projects has been as a photographer. The resulting work is mostly on Wikimedia Commons, where I am also an administrator. Here are some examples of that work. You can find more at commons:user:jmabel.

Panoramic photography[edit]

I do a lot of panoramic photography (conventional photographic images stitched with Hugin). These are most interesting when shown at a large scale, so here's just one example:

Gas Works Park and a view across Lake Union to Downtown.

On systemic bias[edit]

Several people have chosen to rework Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias to remove, restore, and seriously alter my short essay on systemic bias. Rather than fight over its presence or precise content on that page, I am reproducing more or less my original essay here. Probably other people made some small edits to this (you'd have to check the history of that page to see), but this is essentially my writing, and I have deliberately worked from an early version here (dating from October 4, 2004) rather than the more collective version of November 28, 2004 when it was removed. Since this is now on my own page, I have also taken the liberty to revert some other people's edits with which I did not entirely agree. For what it's worth, I find some of the present essay on WP:CSB rather snide.

Wikipedia has a number of systemic biases, mostly deriving from the demographics of our participant base, the heavy bias towards online research, and the (generally commendable) tendency to "write what you know". Systemic bias is not to be confused with systematic bias. The latter just means "thoroughgoing bias". Systemic bias means that there are structural reasons why Wikipedia gives certain topics much better coverage than others.

As of this writing, Wikipedia is disproportionately white and male; disproportionately American; disproportionately written by people from white collar backgrounds. We do not think this is a result of a conspiracy — it is largely a result of self-selection — but it has effects not all of which are beneficial, and which need to be looked at and (in some cases) countered.

Wikipedia is biased toward over-inclusion of certain material pertaining to (for example) science fiction, contemporary youth culture, contemporary U.S. and UK culture in general, and anything already well covered in the English-langauge portion of the Internet. These excessive inclusions are relatively harmless: at worst, people look at some of these articles and say "this is silly, why is it in an encyclopedia?"

Of far greater (and more detrimental) consequence, these same biases lead to minimal or non-existent treatment of topics of great importance. One example is that, as of this writing, the Congo Civil War [article was eventually fleshed out and moved to Second Congo War], possibly the largest war since World War II has claimed over 3 million lives, but one would be hard pressed to learn much about it from Wikipedia. In fact, there is more information on a fictional plant. [28 Aug 2006: I stand corrected: "on a fictional race of giants who appear to be trees."]

An example list of poor treatment due to this bias would include (in no particular order):

  • Africa and the 'Third World' generally, in all of its aspects
  • Asia - particularly 'underdeveloped' countries
  • Female oriented/dominated subjects
  • Foreign literature (particularly writers whose work is unavailable or not widely available in English)
  • Non-white figures in the U.S., UK, etc.

Systemic biases are not easily addressed. We will need a variety of strategies. Among those are:

  • Identify existing structures that can help in promoting this effort — e.g. Collaboration of the week, the translation page, cleanup — or can serve as models: the Irish wikipedians' notice board, WikiProject Philosophy, etc.
  • Create new structures to coordinate our efforts toward countering systematic bias.
  • Create an infrastructure for recruitment and support of contributors outside the present Wikipedia mainstream. For example, this could include active outreach to Historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. and to colleges and universities in various countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Identify subject-matter areas and specific articles that have been neglected due to systemic bias and which ought to be written, added to, or otherwise improved.
  • Collaborate on producing such articles.

Wikipedia is an evolving project. While some of its biases — e.g. a preference for online sources — are probably inherent, others — generally the demographic ones — need not be. However, they will not be overcome by wishful thinking. We need to devote active effort to these matters, rather than keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

To this I would like to add (November 29, 2004):

I believe that the most important of these correctives would be infrastructure for recruitment and support of contributors outside the present Wikipedia mainstream. I also think it is the one we are doing least to address. We need to deepen our understanding of why women and certain ethnic minorities in the English-speaking world do not find this project as appealing as white men and we need to work out what we can do about it. We need to work out how to successfully recruit contributors from a broader human base.

Please write any comments on my talk page, not here. -- Jmabel | Talk

Ethical Public Relations in Wikipedia[edit]

My own take on this is at User:Jmabel/PR. I'm not at all happy with the current "just say no" approach.

Other relevant discussion can be found at User talk:MyWikiBiz, Wikipedia talk:Conflicts of interest, User:LinaMishima/PaidEditing.

Perpetual problem articles[edit]

I've noticed that a few of our articles are perpetual problem articles, constantly drawing a high ratio of pseudo-scholarship rather than actual scholarship. I'm going to start maintaining a small list here. If others wish to contribute suggestions, please make your remarks on my talk page rather that here on my user page.

…and some perpetual battlegrounds:

There are, of course, numerous other articles that will be perpetual battlegrounds. Wikipedia's wide-open editing is simply not conducive to building consensus on topics such as liberalism where there is a strong minority (basically, American libertarians in this case) who feel passionately about an interpretation of history that does not concur with the majority of scholarship. Similarly on fascism. - Jmabel | Talk 19:47, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Cite.php trick[edit]

To get cite.php references into two columns: {{reflist|2}}.