I've been a contributor to Wikimedia projects since October 13, 2003 when I created an account at English Wikipedia. I wouldn't have predicted then that more than 15 years later I would still be active here... Honestly, the fact that I've remembered all the various passwords I've used for this account along the way is even more remarkable.
What brought me here originally was moving to to pursue a second baccalaureate and very quickly contracting a strain of what can only be described as rabid fandom for the school's athletics teams, the, something I missed out on during my first round of college student life. I remember visiting the page back then and being aghast at how poorly it represented my new font of all things black and orange... Oh, wait a second, this can't be right. I just typed in the name of our football stadium in the search box, hit Enter...and THERE'S NOT EVEN A PATHETIC STUB PAGE?!?!?! WHAT KIND OF ENCYCLOPEDIA DO YOU THINK YOU'RE RUNNING HERE WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A PAGE FOR THE GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH?!?!?!
Apologies for the shouting, I'm a passionate person by nature and in those days lacked much restraint. I didn't pound my fist on the desk or anything, I'm a man of letters and abhor caveman antics, but some visible gaseous by-products of combustion did certainly exit my ears.
So yeah, that's pretty much how it started with Wikipedia and me. I did an honest, but in hindsight. mediocre job of developing the school's page. It goes without saying that I damn well created a page for that I still think added a significant amount of legitimacy to this whole endeavour back in those formative years. I created a category for the athletic conference we belong to, and then for years did little more than putter around with other articles as the interest and opportunity arose, which was incidental and very infrequently. Then before I could ever believe it, someone contacted me about my 20-year high school reunion. I bravely fought back the tears until the call was over, but what happened then wasn't a pretty sight. If there was ever a day that I questioned my commitment to sobriety...well, you get the picture.
The reunion was predictably awful. I never fit in with my classmates then, which was as much my fault as theirs. Social skills exist decidedly on an axis of integers, which include all the positive and negative whole numbers, and at the time you needed binoculars to see how deep in negative territory mine were. Further compounding matters was the ugly truth that we all seemed about as haggard and disaffected as you would expect the vanguard of Generation X to appear at their first significant high school reunion, and I fear that we're nowhere near the nadir of our arc yet.
In the weeks that followed though I was plagued by the sense that I was not at all at the place in life where my high school self would've imagined I'd be. More to the point, I wasn't behaving like the man that should've grown out of that promising but socially inept boy from high school. Where was the commitment to making a difference in the world that drew me to join Greenpeace back in junior high? Where was the guy who spent his lunches digitizing the school library's entire periodical collection during junior year when computers replaced the card catalog, just because he wanted to leave things in better shape than he found them? Where was...a lot of stuff. It's easy to trick yourself into thinking that your late 30s are precisely the time to be myopic and self-interested and crush it on the career path, but that does a profound disservice to the roughly ten or twelve faces that weren't at the reunion because they couldn't be bothered, but rather because their Earthly affairs had come to a detestably early conclusion. I should've taken a picture of that poster board covered with photos of them, but really there wasn't a need, it's the kind of thing that appears to stick with you.
So I'm back here again! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. No surprise I'm working on the Wiki page of another school, this time it's. Believe it or not but it was in worse shape than the one for OSU was all the way back in '03. And true to form, I'm doing another mediocre job at improving it, though this time I have the consolation of all the infernal bureaucracy you all have created while I was mostly kibitzing. Where's the fast-and-loose rush to "write now, source later" that seemed so innocent and joyous when I started out? Parts of it weren't pretty, I'll admit, but I think most of it turned out fairly well in the end. Now? Your clicky finger barely has time to get off the Publish button and here comes some editor who, hand to God, has 7,000 edits to his name, 92.3% of which are removing what others have written because it's not formatted "according to" or because your source (while valid and authoritative) was six or seven years old. Looks like I came back not a moment too soon.
We're gonna crank up the boombox and edit with one hand while playing foosball with the other like the old days, okay? Sure, some rules are important but let's not lose sight of the fact that the holes aren't even a tenth of the way filled yet! We're still better served mostly using shovels to keep filling them in and not grabbing the soil compactor every few hours to level the loose fill. At least that's how I see it, though this place has a funny way of changing one's perspective on a lot of unforeseen topics, or hadn't you noticed? ;)
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