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Volunteer editor
Vigilante librarian (I forcibly loan books to people)
"Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best…" – Frank Zappa[1]
User Quiddity.jpg

Other project watchlists


Since September 2013, I've been doing contract work for the WMF as a Community Liaison for a variety of projects, for which I have a separate account.

Although I work for the Wikimedia Foundation, contributions under this account are exclusively in my individual, personal capacity.

News hubs

A cluster of obvious distractions

If you're not [confused / inspired / worried / surprised / outraged / overwhelmed / hopeful] then you're not paying attention!

Tools, templates, examples, errata

About me

Hi, I go by the name Quiddity in my volunteer work here. I discovered Wikipedia in 2005, via the screencast about the article metal umlaut which demonstrated the power of revisions and history pages. After making a few edits to scattered pages, I was entranced with the possibilities, and made this account.

~40,000 edits later... I've seen, read, and participated in many areas of this endlessly intriguing group of projects.

Further details about me...

My wiki-philosophy leans towards eventualism, because the pleasure is in watching the articles develop over time; Eventualism is also how most of this project got built. However, I think most of the conflicting Wikipedia philosophies have a strong validity, and they all need to be balanced against each other. Understanding where the philosophies each developed from is insightful (whether on-wiki precedents, or real-world politics and contexts; especially the balance between idealism and pragmatism) - this goes for our policies and guidelines, and world history, too - All rules/laws/instructions are based on someone somewhere taking an action that other people disagreed with. To misquote Santayana,[1] "Those who do not know or understand the past, are doomed to repeat it".

My work

I tend to focus on organization and research work, but also enjoy helping out as a guide and an informal mediator. When I'm not distracted by the plethora of community hubs and discussions that are broadcasting news and requesting input, I'm fixing citation dead-links, trying to find common ground in subjective disputes, and checking updates to the 9,000+ items in my watchlist. I'm generally interested in anything related to words, felines, connections, and design. Recently, I've been reading everything I can find about Outreach, as the GLAM and EDU projects seem to be amongst the most interesting possibilities for our future growth.

Soon after I first arrived at Wikipedia, I participated in the redesign of the Main page, which led to the redesigns of the Community portal, Help:Contents, Cheatsheet, Portal:Contents, and Sidebar. That gave me a broad understanding of the scope (and spirit) of the paths that guide Wikipedia. Later on, I contributed small nudges to the logo update and the article message boxes overhaul.

The redesign of the Portal:Contents and its subpages, led me to assisting with the work on the various subtypes of lists, and I've been organizing and trying to explain the glossaries, indexes, outlines, and lists of lists, ever since. I also took an interest in our articles about words, and have been discussing the sometimes disputed nature of their existence (with how we relate to Wiktionary, and various other aspects and precedents) for a few years.

An interest in concise descriptions, has led me to the disambiguation pages project, and also to the infobox dispute where I'm hoping to bring a broad perspective of understanding to the at-times extreme-oppositional perspectives that often dominate the discussions; I helped create Infobox classical composer and believe that improving the documentation, and a wide acknowledgement of the validity of the various problems, will help resolve some of the objective and subjective disagreements. Relatedly, Wikidata is a fantastic new project, that might greatly impact both of those areas in the future.

On the smaller scale, I've tried to bring an outsider's mediating perspective to a number of topical disputes, from book design to tree shaping to breast cancer awareness to others – there have been some successes, and some lessons learned. ("What doesn't kill us, makes us ache in new and interesting places.")

I've always enjoyed the complexities and nuances of language (connotations/ramifications/implications/insinuations), and I collect instructional manuals (guides/primers/tutorials/rulebooks), hence I've followed the development of our Manual of Style since I arrived; I give input on various discussions and changes, but I've only made significant contributions to the MoS (lists of works) page. If I had more time...

Life and events

I lived in England for 14 years, and have lived on the West coast of Canada for almost 20 years; However, I've also been reading the works of, or corresponding and collaborating with, numerous Americans - and I tend to use the default-US Mozilla/Ubuntu dictionaries - so my spelling is somewhat erratic! I try to keep active with kite-flying, DIY projects, travel, and local community involvement, but the lure of the internet and the book-stack is strong. So much to read and learn and comprehend and practice, and only one lifetime to fit it all in.

In 2010 I visited the WMF offices for Screen Sprint, a 2-day group project, to create a tutorial for making screencasts. This was the first time I'd met any other Wikimedians, and gave many insights into the methods and characters behind the way the systems all work together.

I took a little over a year off, from early 2011, to work on some personal projects. I found the break refreshing, and will try to take shorter-but-regular wikibreaks in the future.

In June 2013, I participated in the first Roundtable, where a group of users from various backgrounds took part in a brainstorming session, to learn about and provide feedback on the Notifications and Flow software projects. Meeting a variety of wiki-newcomers and staff, helped reinforce the notion that we all have a lot to learn from each other, no matter how experienced we are in Wikipedia or real-life. Improving the communication between readers, newcomers, regulars, power-users, and the various teams of staff, will be very important for understanding and resolving the problems the projects currently face.


Whilst writing this, I've wanted to name all the fantastic collaborators I've worked with, or the massive efforts towards lucid and referenced writing that I've witnessed, or the inspirational editors in terms of empathy and humour; I've wanted to comment on the people I worked with but don't see around anymore, whom I miss; I've wanted to credit the leaders and the learners. However, I don't want to miss anyone out; and I don't want to name-drop; and I don't want to name only the heroes, as I can learn almost as much from mistakes as from successes; plus, I enjoy stumbling across half-forgotten usernames in page-histories or archived-discussions, and teasing the memories out...

Wikiprojects and bookmarks I try to follow:

The source of many disagreements. (a simplification)
"Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all.
The conscientious historian will correct these defects." – Mark Twain Herodotus[1]
See also, Exformation as brilliantly explained by Ze Frank. Our discussions (throughout Wikipedia, and throughout life) are overflowing with exformation; It's a useful thing to understand. The newcomers don't have any, and the regulars have too much!