Archive:Monthly Write-a-Thon/January 7, 2009

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What's a Write-a-Thon?

It's a bunch of people getting together on a wiki at a particular time to do a bunch of writing. It's like an online party! Heck no, it is an online party! It's also an excuse for infrequent wikiers to show up and party hardy; to exchange ideas with people we might not "meet" otherwise.

But hey, why not show up in between the write-ins, too!


Write-a-Thons happen the first Wednesday of every month. The next Write-a-Thon is Wednesday, January 7, 2009. Starts on January 6th, 1200 UTC, when it starts being Wednesday in New Zealand, and ends on January 8th, 1200 UTC, when it finishes being Wednesday in Hawaii. Save The Date! Put it on your calendar! Set yourself a reminder!

Any new article you create, and any edit you make to somebody else's Write-a-Thon article during that time period will count, though to be a bona fide partier, you have to write your new articles when it's that day in your part of the world.

Our first Write-a-Thon took place Wednesday, August 1, 2007 and was considered a roaring good time--we had about 30 partiers creating something like 50 articles, and editing lots.

What are the rules?

Rules? This is a party! There are no rules!

Well, OK, maybe there are a couple rules:

  • We'll have a Write-a-Thon the first Wednesday of every month.
  • To participate, you only have to do two things: (1) start a new article (even just a stub will qualify, if not too short - and please remember to include the subpages template!), and (2) make a substantive edit (not just a copyedit) to somebody else's new article. Then you can list your name here as a partier. Until then, sign in as a porch-sitter, party-crasher, or total party poop.

This month's Party Theme

Wednesday, January 6, 2009 --


I've picked "Controversies". Not just because it's an opportunity to show how we handle current ones, though that's an idea, too. No, I was musing over how things can be controversial in one era, and not even raise an eyebrow in another. Or how one can think a controversy is over, and then the social cycle changes, and all of a sudden it's controversial again. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now God knows, anything goes!. Our MC, Aleta

Article suggestions

Are you stuck finding something to write about? Perhaps you can edit an article suggested by one of the partiers below, or perhaps edit or start one of these. Don't worry about turning out a super-polished first draft! Stubs - short articles that need to be expanded later - are great to start with!

Shakespearean authorship | Holocaust denial | Church of Scientology | Stanley Milgram | Creationism | Alternative medicine | Jesus mythicism | Conspiracy theory | William Ayers | Rick Warren | Grand Theft Auto (video game) | Essjay | Whistleblowing | Media bias | Censorship | Anti-psychiatry

And, not all controversial issues get people up in arms; some things passionately argued by some folks arouse only mild discussion or interest in others:

The Partiers

  • Aleta stumbles in wondering if java really wakes one up, to find the room already set up. Thanks, Chris! It's breakfast time, but that doesn't stop her from wondering about dinner. Aleta Curry 21:14, 6 January 2009 (UTC). Reminded everyone that CZ is coming to you live and In Living Color.
Fascinating -- I'd never heard of her! Hayford Peirce 00:52, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Ditto that. Good one, Gareth! Aleta Curry 02:17, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Supten thought of an old controversy from his childhood days and started Bangladesh genocide, and then took a break to wait for a suitable new article to edit and earn the partier's status. Alas, when he came back there were volleys of error messages and he could not define the elephant and had to come back a day later to complete the job! Supten Sarbadhikari 05:27, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Tom edited the article on Helen Duncan and started the article on circumcision, a practice he is fiercely opposed to. Will pop back later and write some more. --Tom Morris 17:39, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Oh, oh. It seems to me that when I first joined The Other Place years ago there was an absolutely fierce, all-out battle raging about this, with high emotions on all sides. Like, "I have renamed the article Child Mutilation and Torture and don't you killers try to change it back!". And so forth. Dunno how it came out, though. Maybe they're still fighting it. Let's hope that emotions here at CZ about this article stay a little calmer. Hayford Peirce 18:13, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
As I mentioned on the article talk page, it may be appropriate to disambiguate between procedures on males and females. While Medical Subject Headings does include circumcision; circumcision, male; and circumcision, female, the term "Genital Mutilation, Female" or "Female Genital Manipulation" is common in medical literature. The latter two are preferable, I believe, because there is only one type of procedure in the male but multiple ones in females; the latter are usually more radical. Howard C. Berkowitz 18:25, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Thinking that CZ can't do a Write-a-Thon on controversies and then ignore the elephant in the room, John started an article on the Gaza Strip. The elephant offered some advice, but it involved evolving trunks first. In a completely different vein, he edited Tom's article on circumcision, but was cut off half-way through. Resuming with a new internet connection, he thought he may as well keep it up by...<snip more> John Stephenson 18:03, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Groaaaaannnn!  :) Aleta Curry 20:06, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I suppose a Topic Informant article on my observation, at the National Zoo in Washingon, of the sexual initiation of a mere slip of a 17-year old bull elephant probably comes under what the military calls Negative Need to Know. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:04, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Controversy? Derek's philosophy has always been "anything for a quiet life" (hmm... I didn't know that's a play by Middleton and Webster. In my family it's just something we say when going along with something mildly annoying.) Well there is one controversy I've been meaning to get to, which is the Shakespearean authorship question. One of the problems I have with The Other Place is the ease with which fringe theories can be given such even-handed treatment that they start to sound plausible. I think the theory that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays is a load of rubbish. Of course, as someone whose summer vacation often consists of going to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, I may be biased. (They'd have to change the name or even move!) -Derek Hodges 02:29, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
By the way, are we having server problems? I keep getting error messages. -Derek Hodges
Took a look at Helen Duncan-Medium? I'd say she was a large. -Derek Hodges 06:32, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Hayford came in relatively late, having been preoccupied with his **th birthday, plus doing a lot of computer backups all day long in Safe Mode, which rendered writing anything at the same time just about impossible, but having drunk some Gloria Ferrer bubbly, then eaten a nice steamed lobster washed down with Macon-Clugy "Les Charmes" Chardonnay, he finally joined the party, writing about the great old (in both senses) baseball pitcher Satchel Paige. Satch was controversial because he was, possibly, the greatest black pitcher ever excluded from the Major Leagues because of his color, and then, when he *did* make the majors at age 42, 44, or whatever, because he was then considered too old to be there. Talk about catch-22! Anyway, as Faulkner said, not only did he survive, he prevailed, and is still remembered as a legendary figure. Then, just to finish off the day's work and to qualify fully for The Partiers label, Hayford poured himself a whiskey-soda (J&B tonight, with Canada Club Original Soda) and did some editing on Gareth's fine Helen Duncan article. Hayford Peirce 05:02, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I got started with the Asilomar Conference and this sent me meandering to copy edit or subpagify other related articles such as genetic engineering and stem cell. Earlier I helped Aleta with her dinner which qualifies me for full partier status. Chris Day 06:45, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Anthony.Sebastian did not report-in on this Write-a-Thon day (Wednesday), but had he, he would have reported that he started a new article, Metacognition, on Write-a-Thon day, hoping that others will soon join to help develop the concept (thinking about one's own thinking in its broadest sense). Yet he did not edit any of the other Write-a-Thoners' new articles, not for lack of motivation, but for the same time constraints that delayed this entry. --Anthony.Sebastian 03:23, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Keen-as-mustard and jumped the gun

Whether this is the right heading or not, I couldn't resist "gun". From my sandbox, maybe a bit early since the top-level articles are still there, comes Vietnamese Communist grand strategy.

In recent years, there's been a lot of opening of archives on both sides, and some very serious participation in historical work and personal meetings between the Vietnamese and the American side. I highly recommend the book We are soldiers still by Moore and Galloway, about their multiple trips back, and some truly touching sharings between once-deadly enemies.

A lot of questions now have answers, although it sometimes was a matter of which leader could make less sense. For me, however, the big controversy is what did the North Vietnamese really have in mind in their operations from roughly October 1965 to January 1966? To me, this remains the single most puzzling aspect of the war.

Maybe someone will know of a source I've missed -- easy enough, since I don't read Vietnamese.

Anyway, please forgive the semi-sandbox, but if you want controversy, here's one among military historians interested in this. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:11, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Rather late and missed the boat!

Paul had his belly full of controversy and didn't want to pour oil on the fire (in case you're wondering: two Dutch sayings), but he happened to come across the beautiful word genethlialogy, so he couldn't resist.

Porch sitters--article creators who didn't edit a new article

Party crashers--article contributors who didn't create a new article

Bobby Driscoll and Connie Stevens in The Party Crashers - 1958

The shy ones, absent-minded profs, and other modest creatures

The total party poops

All Matt can think of is, Holy Moly, my watchlist is about to get a lot bigger! D. Matt Innis 04:05, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Ohhh! Mea maxima culpa! I didn't think what a nightmare this topic might be from a constabulary point of view! Sorry, amigo! Aleta Curry 09:39, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

And just when I thought I could breathe, John Stephenson showed up! D. Matt Innis 19:54, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, I couldn't handle starting a new article about anything remotely controversial, since I still have so many already-started ones that need my attention. So I did a little authoring on C (programming language) as penance.Pat Palmer 18:12, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Special Requests

I'm not sure where best to put this (probably Military and History workgroup pages and forums), but I just happened across a list of "most wanted" research topics of the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center. [1] Perhaps some people here might like to look at this to see the questions that are being asked, and get some article ideas. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:05, 7 January 2009 (UTC)


It's a wrap!

empty form

Official libations


  • Inaugural - beer!
  • September - champagne
  • October - we were refurbishing the bar and only had coffee!
  • November - made up for last month with more vodka than was good for us and plenty of rum.
  • December - eggnog and wine


  • January - Whisky and the Cocktail of the Month, a pharisee
  • February - schnapps and the Cocktail of the Month, the caipirinha (considered the national drink of Brazil)
  • March - port wine (which should probably live at port (wine), no? (Someone put that on their list, please....Oh, *someone* did--thanks, Ro) and the Cocktail of the Month, a Dead Aunt
  • April - Akpeteshie hot and fresh from Ghana. And cool shandies and spritzers if that took your fancy. Lotsa staggering around the bar after this party!
  • May - Was it champagne? No, we were dry, I think.
  • June - Were we abstaining yet again?
  • July - Sherry
  • August - pineapple juice Well, that's all right, I guess!
  • September - Given the music theme, i assume it was pop?
  • October - Cranberry juice. Some nut who shall remain nameless but whose initials are HP suggested Drano, (i.e. what cleans better than Drano?) but....
  • November - Spring water (Now Bruce just has to write it! Aleta Curry 04:00, 3 December 2008 (UTC))
  • December - Piña colada - get some light rum, mix it with pineapple and coconut cream. Instantly warp back to the eighties.


  • January - Bloody Mary - because, as Nietzsche said, we should only love that which is written with blood. Controversial enough?

Bonus point winners

Write-a-Thon Theme Suggestions

New Suggestions and Discussion

  • How about another Spring cleaning in March 2009? Daniel Mietchen 08:20, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
Not a bad idea at all, unless I get swamped with new, untried requests in the mean time. Aleta Curry 18:47, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
Possibly the theme could be subpages. Some of them need a lot of housekeeping. Or getting some decent images for the articles we do have. Chris Day 19:17, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
  • I've picked "Controversies". Not just because it's an opportunity to show how we handle current ones, though that's an idea, too. No, I was musing over how things can be controversial in one era, and not even raise an eyebrow in another. Or how one can think a controversy is over, and then the social cycle changes, and all of a sudden it's controversial again. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now God knows, anything goes!. Aleta Curry 19:06, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
  • "Hometown Heroes" - write about someone famous from your part of the world (either where you're from, or where you are now).
  • "Poles Apart" - find the spot directly on the other side of Earth from you, and write about someone or something in the vicinity. (Contributors on other planets, follow a similar procedure for whatever planet you're on. Contributors not on planetary bodies permitted to write about whatever they feel like.)
  • Fill in an item from this interesting list of natural objects. Or this interesting list of people.
  • All articles must start with the same letter of the alphabet, allowing for diacritics and transliteration (so Å, Á, and あ would all count if A were the letter, for instance).
  • Photo stubs - no minimum word length, no theme requirement, but must contain an image.
  • Choose a random number from 1 to 500, then go to Special:WantedPages and start an article on the topic currently at that rank.
  • How about an alternate weekend date, say the Sunday after the official Write-a-Thon, for those of us who spend our Wednesdays working at places that frown on extensive personal use of company computers? --Petréa Mitchell 19:15, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
There's a current forum thread on this-the proposal was to move the WaT to the weekend. Your suggestion might pose a good compromise. Aleta Curry 21:33, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
I would be a lot more able to participate on weekends. My weekday workdays are 11+ hours.Pat Palmer 02:51, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • What will people most enjoy writing that could lead many different contributors to a short, but complete and interesting article that links to larger articles? Maybe "Events" could be a theme - pen-portraits of memorable sporting moments (see try, or notable historical events - including tsunamis, eruption of Krakatoa, comet collision with Jupiter, the birth of Dolly the sheep, freeing of Nelson Mandela, the sinking of the Titanic, assassination of Martin Luther King, the Mutiny on the Bounty, the discovery of the Americas? Can I suggest asking that every new article should have at least one external link and links to other articles here?Gareth Leng 12:31, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I like this idea. Further, definitions and other subpages are preferable, even for stubs. Chris Day 17:01, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Dare I suggest that even stubs can and should be non-orphans? Basic criteria: Howard C. Berkowitz 18:00, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Reachable from the front page or a core article/workgroup page
  • Link to at least three other articles, even if they are redlinks in a Related Articles subpages
  • Have at least three other articles link to them
  • Well, next Wednesday is rapidly approaching. Anyone got any firm opinions on what the theme ought to be? My suggestion is "Thoughts and Books", which is broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of different things: authors, famous books, revolutionary ideas and theories, and all the meta stuff that can be layered on top of it. I'm also going to suggest that whatever the theme is, if we could try and decide it before the weekend, then we could set up a page off of the Write-a-Thon page to list pages we'd like to see existing that are covered by the theme. --Tom Morris 15:26, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Thoughts and books is a great idea, would fit in nicely with what I'm working with at the moment. How about a biography day for the month after? They wouldn't have to be particularly long but we could fill a lot of red links with a few well written and brief bios of important folks... Denis Cavanagh 17:07, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

That actually fits really well with something I'm working on right now too. I'm all for it! --Joe Quick 19:42, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
While it's current work of mine, is there a good place to discuss some issues of writing biography articles in general? Choices in flow? And, as is fairly nightmarish with Ho Chi Minh, when the subject changed names or had simultaneous aliases? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:11, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Future Theme Schedule

  • January - Controversies
  • February - Thoughts and Books
  • March -
  • April -

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