The time machine that doubles as a toilet.

News Archives - August 2006

: Massively Multiplayer Online Waste Of Time

August 31 2006

Aside from the all-mighty Google and all those idiotic "trendy" new social networking sites like MySpace (which attract millions of mouth-breathing morons), one of the highest-traffic websites on the internet would be the great source of information that is Wikipedia.

If you're new to the internet and aren't familiar with Wikipedia (and even worse, unfortunate enough to be reading Pants), head on over there now because it's much better than everything else on the net.

The idea of Wikipedia is simple — it's a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Make a correction, add some info or create entire articles without even needing to register an account. While the format does leave itself open to attacks of vandalism, the number of (valid) contributors help keep vandalism to a minimum.

The number (and sheer diversity) of contributors also means that Wiki is a wealth of reliable up-to-date information across many more topics than a traditional encyclopedia could ever cover.

I have been anonymously contributing to Wiki for over a year now, although most of the time I was merely a glorified spell checker, fixing random typos and grammatical errors that I came across. After I quit my job at the start of this year I registered a Wiki account (so that I could keep track of all my edits) and I set myself the challenge of making a worthy contribution to the encyclopedia before I eventually returned to the workforce (an estimated 6-9 months later).

This seemingly easy challenge was a lot harder than it sounds for several reasons. I needed to find an article/topic that belongs in an encyclopedia but is not represented in Wiki well enough yet. I also need to have knowledge on that particular subject, and preferably it shouldn't be a high-traffic or controversial article (so as to avoid edit wars with other contributors).

The article I finally decided to improve was the biography of Mayuko Takata. Not only did it meet all the criteria set above, but it would also help me with my attempts to teach myself Japanese.

As an extra bonus, this would act as even more proof that I am her biggest fan (and/or crazed stalker).

The two images shown to the right are snapshots of the English Wiki's page on Takata-san, both before I started editing & the current state of the article as I prepare this Pants update.

Although these tiny snapshots easily demonstrate that I've added a crapload of information to Mayuko Takata's Wikipedia article, a larger-resolution comparison reveals some extra facts that (to be perfectly honest) are downright scary:

  • First off, all of my contributions have made the current Wiki article longer than the orignal English Wiki and her native Wiki's biography combined.
    For a Japanese actress who has never worked outside of Japan, one would expect that the Japanese Wikipedia would have more info than any other encyclopedic source, but that's not the case any more... :)
  • Secondly, and far more shockingly: I haven't finished yet.
    I thought I'd start off slow, translating my way (line-by-line) through the easier parts of her official profile before I get to the hard stuff. Right now as I've left the article, most of her secondary media commitments (written works, radio, stagework etc...) have been incorporated into Wiki. What's missing though is her filmography, which is obviously the most crucial (and largest) part of the bio of an actress or actor.
    There are roughly 60 different television dramas/productions Takata has been involved with over the years, so this is the next section I plan on updating in the article... This will probably double the current length of the article once I've completed translating it all.

Unfortunately I was offered a job a little sooner than I expected so I haven't had any time to work on translations lately. Considering her entire media career was summarised in just five bullet points before I started work on the article, I'm quite happy that I've finally made a worthy contribution to Wikipedia. When my time frees up again, I'll get back and complete the article as I envision it, then move onto another topic that fits my picky criteria. Yumiko Udo, look out... :)

Although I'm obviously quite proud of the article and have basically adopted it as my own little baby, everyone I've spoken to about this has basically asked "what's the point?". And they are kind of right in a way...; I mean how many people would actively go to a site like Wikipedia and want to learn that Mayuko Takata once filmed a commercial for carrot juice? Probably not many, but here is how I can justify my contributions to the article:

  1. While I was voluntarily unemployed, I (intentionally) had plenty of time to kill.
  2. Wikipedia had an article that needed improving that required a level of knowledge, tri-lingualism (English/Japanese/French), determination and creepiness that I was more than capable of providing...
  3. Why on earth would the Japanese Wikipedia have a fairly decent article specifically about the Adelaide O-Bahn? If they can write about my local custom-designed guided busway system, then I can write an article about one of their obscure TV drama actresses...
  4. I not really fussed if everyone else doesn't care about Mayuko Takata pimping carrot juice or tofu burger mix. *I* find it interesting; I care... And that's all that matters, right?
    I'm not crazy, honest... :)

So that's the story of my first "worthy" contribution to Wikipedia. Now that I'm working again, I don't have much time (at the moment) to complete the article or start work on other things, but I can see myself getting back to it when my time frees up again... Who knows, eventually I might even start writing articles for the Japanese Wiki...!


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