To write a poignant story in three words

During a social lunch with a group of friends, one of us proposed a little game: Tell a poignant story in three words. We agreed to write our stories on post-it notes and share them in one hour.

The winner was a real out-of-the-box thinker.

I thought about writing “nuke killed billions,” but as I wrote it, I realized it was too abstract to be a poignant story. So, I thought about the Holocaust, the Great Purge, and World War II. Eventually, I wrote, “nuke vaporized Nagasaki.” As it turned out, however, almost everyone had thought of writing about death or physical pain. Clearly, we’re no Shakespeare.

The winning story was by unanimous consensus was:

“I edited Wikipedia!”

We all knew that editing Wikipedia is a story that never has a happy ending.

The poignance

Wikipedia is the most comprehensive online encyclopedia to this date. It is one of the most visited websites on the world wide web. Touting itself as “The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”, it is, in my humble opinion, the evidence that humanity is benevolent and peaceful by nature. Founded in 2001, it rapidly became the largest community on the Internet. While “free encyclopedia” and “anyone can edit” are tall claims, Wikipedia’s tallest claim is that its decision-making process is consensus-based. This implies that Wikipedia isn’t just a community like Facebook, but a community whose members are fast friends, like the gang of toys from Toy Story.

Of course, not all of us had edited Wikipedia. Even fewer have or had a Wikipedia account. Still, we had little doubt that things inside Wikipedia are not as rosy as I described above. Quite to the contrary, there have been times that we ran into unfriendly users outside Wikipedia who hated us because they hated someone with a similar pseudonym in Wikipedia. From those experiences, I know that Wikipedia is bleeding benevolent editors and is unable to recruit new ones as quickly. In most cases, the editing career in Wikipedia ends abruptly and unpredictably.

Posted on 2019-10-31, in Social and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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