On the Uncyclomedia Cabal, and why we never get anything done

We had an idea when launching Uncyclopedia on a new server – to set up an official blog so that, as much as anything else, the community would know what is going behind the scenes.

You may notice this never happened. You may even wonder why, for all of .31 seconds before you get distracted by a cat picture, and the simple answer is that it is because we’re a pile of lazy-arse loons and generally there’s nothing going on behind the scenes in the first place. Or to put it more bluntly, it’s because we’re Uncyclopedians.

The blog never happened because nobody got around to making it happen. The things we might have blogged about also generally never happened because we never got around to making them happen either, thus providing little reason to get around to setting up the blog. We never changed anything about the site itself because we never got around to seeing if there’d even be any reason to do so. We never came up with an official name for, let alone set up, any Organisation or Foundation, because we never got around to discussing it. We never announced our team because we never got around to figuring out who our team really was. For the most part, things just happened without any particular guidance from anyone. Continue reading

The importance of SBAM in the iterative design process

Any designer or developer who has worked on user-facing problems can tell you that users can be, shall we say, problematic.  Between the unrealistic expectations, the blatant cluelessness, and the inability to grasp and follow the most basic concepts, users will manage to negate even the most elegant and powerful of designs, either forcing a team back to the drawing board time and again, or simply out of business.

To get around this, designers develop various processes, heuristics, and patterns in order to fend off their users’ collective stupidity. And it works, to an extent.

That extent is SBAM. Continue reading

Words, words, and more words

Because sometimes that’s all we have, words, strings, bits, pieces…

If you’re here, you might be wondering why I just sort of fell off the planet for the last couple months, and the answer to that is simple: I lost my mind. Still haven’t found it, I should probably point out, but I did find at least what appears to be a suitable stand-in for the meantime. We’ll see how long it lasts. Hopefully long enough for me to sort out my life, get a job, and do something with all these plants, at least. Because this is entirely too many plants. Entirely too many. And they hunger.

As for those of you who aren’t here, thank you for allowing me the room for a little vanity. I’ve got words, you see, lots and lots of words, and stories, and it’s high time they came out. And so they shall. The Song will live, the Garden will stand. It will happen, like Uncyclopedia happened. Rather like Chicago. Slowly. Like a migraine.

And it starts yesterday, soon as I get the tea out of my computer and find my pants. Perfectly doable. I won’t sleep through this one. Just need to sort through some things – the Song is easy, though it will end who knows where it ends, but the Garden… the Garden is a complete mess. Trying to clean it up. It’s horrible. I’d never even seen such terrible code since I looked at Wikia’s source, and this is somehow even worse. Wonder what their excuse is, since I don’t have one.

Anyway, things, things, I forgot what I was saying and doing. The flatulous man has all the room in the world. A lunatic marvels at it all. Illusory order gives way to imaginary chaos, and the world looks on in fascination. I’m not a fairy princess, but there has to be at least some demand for an angry developer with a tendency to doodle all over everything.

Is it wrong to doodle with words?

A closing post for OPW… or something.

The internship ended about a week ago. I should have written this then when I wrote up the general overview of what I’d done; now that the matter has had time to sink in I have nothing left to say. It is simply another case in a long line of cases of ‘Oh. That happened’.

Suffice to say I am entirely burnt out, though OPW had little, if anything, to do with that; indeed having a project that I actually cared about may have been what enabled me to last as long as I have. As it stands I will still probably survive the month without attempting to embed forks in people’s spines, but due to several factors this is simply a rough time for me and I refuse to be happy about it. Next month, of course, will be better – such months are always better, especially when they allow for a complete decomposition of self. It helps, strangely, to be able to hurl all basis of reality out the window and go completely barking mad.

If anyone reading this expected something more productive, I can only apologise. Let’s talk in June.

MediaWiki’s cryptic documentation

Documentation is a strange thing. Even the initial design documentation serves all manner of purposes – whether to help sort out what an idea even is, to sell the idea to clients, to lay out a general basis of just what to develop, or even to reassure or scare away users. Depending on the initial purpose for which it was written, it often winds up unclear to those trying to follow it later, or to those outside the target audience. Continue reading

Outreach Program for Women: Calling it how I see it

OPW, the GNOME Foundation‘s Outreach Program for Women, is an endeavour to get more women involved in FOSS. It operates in the form of remote online internships offered by the member organisations, including GNOME, Mozilla, Wikimedia, and others, targeted specifically at women. After applying for a current term, accepted interns then spend a few months working on and with their respective projects, receiving a $5,000USD stipend for their efforts.

I am one of the interns for the current term, working on design initiatives for the Wikimedia Foundation and learning the tools, practices, and pitfalls of the trade as well as of the specific codebase and community.

My experience with Wikimedia has been overwhelmingly positive. I have had the opportunity to work with several teams, in particular Editor Engagement, and talk to many folks who are nothing short of brilliant – it is an amazing environment like nothing else I have encountered precisely because of the kinds of people the movement attracts. As for the work itself, I bloody love it – painful as some of the tasks have been, and some of the code involved has been to read, I don’t think I have ever been happier working on anything.

It saddens and angers me that this opportunity came because of a gender-based outreach program. Continue reading

Something vague and sleepy

Consider this a one-finger typed version of filler bunny, or something, except probably not nearly so interesting as said bunny.

So stuff! Chickens! Handwaving! Toes curling in confusion and mild gastric reaction! Uck! Because perhaps I shouldn’t have taken that expired cough medicine on an empty stomach? On the other hand I’m not coughi… er, scratch that.

But for lack of updates, here’s an update for the week: I got a horrible cold and thus most of the week got lost on grogginess. I vaguely recall maybe doing a mockup, getting irked at gerrit, and arguing with people on IRC, however. But frankly that could describe just about any week in the past several months even with the possibly having yelled at people on bugzilla thrown in…

I should try being nicer to folks, shouldn’t I? And more specific. Not a one of these actually goes into ant detail, does it? Oop

Because I’m supposed to be keeping a blog about this OPW thing

So. It’s this internship thing. GNOME’s paying for it (well, sort of – other folks are doing a lot of the sponsoring), I answer to the WMF, and stuff has been happening. Consider this an update on the entire thing: there have been cabal motions and piles of wikitext and research and shiny little drawings and everything. I’m sure it’s terribly interesting. Would probably be even more interesting if I could remember much of any of the specifics, but having a nail in the head is apparently not too good for the memory. Not that it’s a literal nail, but whatever is causing the nail in the head feeling, that clearly isn’t too good either.

At any rate I’m not terribly in the loop with myself at the moment.

Tomorrow should be better. They’re going to all the trouble to fly me out to SF for the week, so it’d damn well better be better, at least. Be a bit of a waste if it weren’t. Meantime I just need this nail in my head to not set off a metal detector in the airport.

Moving Uncyclopedia: things we didn’t do that we probably should have

On 5 January 2013, after years of complaining about their previous host, the Uncyclopedia community split from Wikia and sidled most of their butts over to the new site: en.uncyclopedia.co.

I was one of those behind the move, working with a team that changed considerably over the months the project was active, and in the end I found myself acting as some sort of vague director person despite from the very start having absolutely no idea what I was doing. Although apparently I wasn’t the only one.

Here are some of the things that seem, based on what happened, like they might actually be kind of important when dealing with a project such as this. Continue reading

Post, okay, post

The post is the place with the center, can’t say I’m happy with the colours, but I’m afraid I have only myself to blame. Or so it says on these cards; half the text is rubbed off and I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to say.

Is that how people blog, they take the cards and fill them in? Because I’m afraid I never was any good at filling things in; my idea of a descriptive about page was a picture of a shovel, after all, and my response to people telling me I’m cynical about that and this and all these other things is… well, I’m not sure. I’m afraid I don’t really remember, your Honour. Something about getting defensive and becoming more cynical, probably. That’s a logical answer, anyway. Typical human nature, at least.

Point to point, I don’t like blogs. Never have. They serve their uses when on directed topics, and when a good writer is making specific points and keeping things concise they can be interesting, but beyond that all they are are words cast into the void of cables. Tubes. Intertubes lingering in a sea of bits.

I just don’t care, your Honour. I’m sorry.