A small introduction
No fancy stuff to be found on this page! All these layout customisations and userboxes with silly tidbits remind me of the AOL Hometown pages from years ago—and let's face it, they were mucho lame. Are we here to read Facebook-style crap about individual editors' life stories (with infoboxes.. seriously?), or build an encyclopaedia?
Since the latter half of 2008 I've mainly edited music album articles relating to instrumental rock and jazz fusion, although I have created a few soundtrack and film score articles as well. Other genres in which I regularly dabble include power metal, traditional heavy metal, progressive metal, progressive rock, and hard rock. For the curious, my username derives from guitarist Tony MacAlpine's nickname of "T-Mac", as well as the song "Dreamstate" from his 1987 album Maximum Security.
In 2015 I began maintaining and creating articles relating to ski jumping (and its sibling ski flying), one of my favourite sports. My main aim is to create articles for notable athletes who do not yet have articles on the English Wikipedia. My next task will be to overhaul the article itself, having spent some time bringing the athletes' infobox up to scratch in collaboration with User:Sportomanokin. Also in 2015, I created a few bio articles for professional boxers and began working on a much-needed Manual of Style for WikiProject Boxing.
Whenever I read any article, the first thing that tends to catch my eye is the incorrect use of hyphens (-) and dashes (–/—). My preference is an unspaced em dash, but I have no problem with spaced en dashes if anyone prefers that – I certainly won't edit war over it. SWIDT? ;-) I also add cover art borders to the infoboxes of album articles where the artwork contains predominantly light or plain white colours (e.g. Darkness in a Different Light). Other things I look out for include incorrect use of italics or quotes for titles, and unencyclopaedic tone on WP (particularly the "-n't" suffix). All of these form the bulk of my 'drive-by edits'. I think WP calls it WikiGnoming or something. The repetitive tasks around here is what I really enjoy—something to which to zone out and punch the keys in a mechanised way, for hours on end.
Itchy edit finger
I'm extremely fussy about the smallest of things, and it's not unusual for me to make multiple edits to an article in the space of a few minutes until I'm absolutely happy with its appearance and layout. For albums, I like to follow Template:Infobox album to the smallest detail, but there are certain trivial things with which I take liberties—all of them being too silly to explain. Basically, whether it's the smallest of grammatical or punctuational nuances, or bits of Wikipedia's markup/syntax that don't sit with me, I'll keep going back until it looks the way I feel it should. If that annoys you, do let me know through my talk page and I can try to tone it down a bit! No promises, though..
Also, in most cases I physically own a copy of the albums for which I create articles or choose to edit. Therefore if anything gets tagged with Template:Unreferenced, I'll readily be able to source any information from the liner notes, back cover or disc itself. As far as I'm concerned, what they state is absolute. If something like a track title is misspelt, however incorrectly, then that is exactly how it should be reproduced here. For examples of how rigidly I stick to misspellings, see The Queen Is Dead ("Cemetry Gates"), Jennifer Batten's Tribal Rage: Momentum ("Scottsman in the Carribean"), The Things You See ("Diminished Responsability") and Bathory ("In Conspirasy with Satan"). To attempt to correct something that the artist or their publisher has set in stone wouldn't be striving for accuracy.
As far as Wikipedia's guidelines for album pages are concerned (and where creative freedom allows me to do so), I have developed my own consistent style of writing the body of the article. Something simple and to the point like this seems to get by nicely:
Album title is a [type of album] by [type of musician/group] [their name], released in [year here]/on [specific date here] through [record label].
Which, when put into practice, will look something like this:
When it comes to organising each participant's contribution to an album, I use a somewhat unwritten system of hierarchy on the Personnel section to keep order of all musicians/non-musicians and their roles, and will rigidly stick to that. Above all, I like things to have continuity and am never truly happy until everything is laid out identically to one another throughout articles (which is why you may have seen me continuously editing and adding stuff to some articles for years!)
Also, I don't like separating Personnel into subsections like "Musicians" and "Production" like others do. It's probably down to laziness or some unexplainable quirk I have, but I feel it's enough to just lump them into the same group. Besides, in some cases there are guest musicians who are credited as official band members on one album, and not so on the next. For the sake of continuity, an unbroken list looks better in my view. It would take some time for me to explain the exact reasoning behind these hierarchical 'rules' (I'm still developing them—or rather, making them up—as I go along), but nonetheless here is a near-exhaustive example of how I usually lay out the instrumentation for rock-orientated albums:
- vocals/lead vocals (the latter only if background vocalists are present) → guitar (I might start specifying seven-/eight-string guitar, etc.) → SynthAxe → guitar synthesizer → clavinet → keyboard → synthesizer → Minimoog → electric piano → Rhodes piano → piano → organ → drums → percussion → bass (as with guitar, I haven't yet bothered to specify electric bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, piccolo bass, double bass, etc.) → saxophone → EWI → background vocals → spoken vocals → sound effects → arrangement → editing → engineering → mixing → mastering → remastering → production → executive production .. yada yada yada.
As far as songwriting credits go, I pretty much follow the guidelines of Template:Track listing in that any additional credits for individual tracks are noted in brackets beside the song titles, whilst otherwise retaining "All songs written and composed by _, except where noted" at the top. However, when there are more than three tracks with multiple writers, I will split the tracklist into columns (Lyrics and Music, respectively) so to as avoid tacking on brackets for each song title.
Who's above whom?
In the case of a band or collaborative effort between musicians, I will always use the abovementioned hierarchical list because I consider nobody to be above the other in terms of name value—it is the instruments which determine the order. Thus, despite the fact that guitarist Eddie Van Halen is arguably the 'main man' of the band Van Halen, I would list the singer (e.g. David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar or Gary Cherone) above him. Conversely, when the album is by one specific musician, such as Eyes of the World by Tony MacAlpine or Streamline by drummer Lenny White, I will list them first. To me, it would look odd not having the 'main man' listed foremost atop the credits, even though I may normally list other musicians above them in a collective band situation.
However, there are some oddities like Planet X, a band which is best known for having been founded by keyboardist Derek Sherinian, yet remains distinctly separate from his solo work. Do I list him as the primary musician on a Planet X album? No. According to my made-up rules (seeing as Wikipedia has none at this time), he should be listed as the second musician after the guitarist. The band may be his 'baby', but since each musician is an equal contributor, creative freedom allows for me to list others above him—even if there are a whole plethora of guest guitarists. Only for his own solo efforts should he be listed above anyone else. I know, it's a strange way of doing things, but I haven't been challenged on it yet. Though should any disagreements arise, I'll be more than happy to discuss it. Perhaps it's time Wikipedia had a consensus on the matter.
My citing style.. or lack thereof
I actively shun the use of Wikipedia's templates (Template:Cite web, Template:Cite journal, Template:Album ratings, Template:Allmusic, etc.) to cite sources. They just bug the hell out of me. I've always had an aversion to things being typed on my behalf when I know that I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself, so much so that I make it an issue to switch off any form of autocomplete/autoreplace wherever possible.
To some it might look clunky—laborious, even—as to how I insist on manually typing out the full details of a source, but conversely I think the templates themselves look clunky, and I hate copying and pasting those silly fields all the time. I find it much quicker to simply type out the source as it would look like when being read. Furthermore, I always use YYYY-MM-DD (or ISO 8601) for both author and retrieval dates as I feel it promotes less American English/British English silliness that way (as if the differences aren't silly enough..), hence my preference being "1990-09-24" as opposed to the ever-clashing standards of "September 24, 1990" or "24 September 1990". Plus, YYYY-MM-DD makes everything look nice and consistent. Mechanised, even. Or machine-like. Machines are good. Live like the machine. Think like the machine. Act like the machine. Become the machine. Be the machine!
For album front covers, I usually scan them myself using an old Lexmark X1150 with the following image attributes as per Wikipedia's guidelines: 300px by 300px at 72dpi for normal square booklets, and 336px by 300px for the slightly non-square Digipaks (the latter of which I hate with a passion). Either that or I find an existing scan on the Internet and resize it accordingly—it's all fair use in the end. I also make sure to look carefully for the credited art director/graphic designer/illustrator within the booklet, but sometimes they aren't mentioned at all, which annoys me to no end because I like to credit such works of art.
Artists/groups for whom I've created or overhauled individual album articles
Bio articles that I actively maintain
- Frank Gambale
- Allan Holdsworth
- Greg Howe
- Tony MacAlpine
- Planet X
- Timo Tolkki
- Michael Katsidis
Also of interest—more like fascination:
Please get in touch if you find any photos that can be added as refs, or specific dates of significant events. I'd be hugely interested in photos of Acton Main Line's second ticket office (demolished in 1995) and the stairwell leading to West Ealing's old platform 4 (demolished in 1989–90; this one from 1974 is the best I've seen, but a view from a bit further back would be better).
- Add critical reception section to album articles of interest. I'm still learning as I go along, but a basic negative/positive description by the reviewer seems to be the way forward. How's my driving (editing)?—i.e. please let me know how I can improve. At this time I'm not very adept at paraphrasing from longer reviews, so maybe an experienced editor could give me some pointers on that.
- Ongoing mass edits: for all bio articles, change any instance of "[Name] is a former [nationality] [occupation]" to "[Name] is a [nationality] former [occupation]". Example. There is no such thing as a "former American" or any other nationality—that is poor English, makes no sense, and applies to any nationality. It makes me laugh as to how badly it reads! Unless someone renounces their citizenship or is made stateless, how does one become a "former American"? I will be ruthless on this in the form of mass drive-by edits, often without summaries, systematically working my through as many nationalities as I can be bothered with. However, I have no idea how to do this except manually via Google results. We're talking many thousands of articles. Does WP have any scripts to assist me?