The Wikipedia writer whose said to pen ten thousand articles a day

Friday, 25 July, 2014

Sverker Johansson, a Swedish physicist versed in economics, linguistics, and civil engineering, is also a prolific writer, who has penned well over two million articles for Wikipedia, and it is said that on a good day he can publish ten thousand pieces.

An incredible feat I imagine, even if he has a little help from a bot, an algorithm powered application that does much of his drafting, and the likes of which will probably take over disassociated one day…

His contribution to Wikipedia’s knowledge database of 30 million articles in 287 languages makes up 8.5 per cent of all the content on the site. His claims to authorship are contested however, as they were created by a computer generated software algorithm, otherwise known as a bot Johansson has named his Lsjbot.

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The longest reads are sometimes the best reads

Tuesday, 27 December, 2011

Some not-so-light holiday reading… collector of “new and classic non-fiction articles … that are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser” Longform, have compiled their list of the top longer articles from the last year.

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Writing for content farms, highly accelerated and thankless work

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

While you’ll be writing “articles” that are thousands of words long for recompense of like two dollars, at least you don’t have to bother saying thanks to those you are working for… whoever said content farm work was without its perks?

Meanwhile, there arrived the email from the Actual Human. At least, it purported to be a human. It had a human name, anyway, which we’ll say was Robert. “We work at an accelerated pace, and I don’t care if you send a note filled with typos or missing words, as long as I understand your intention. Don’t waste time copyediting yourself, and don’t fret when you spot a few gaffes in one of your communications,” Robert insisted. Also: “Important: When I do provide advice or render a ruling, please don’t reply with thank-you notes. I’m sure all of you were raised with respect for the traditional courtesies, but nearly 500 editors work alongside me, with that total growing weekly. Between this box and the Help Desk, I typically receive 200 queries a day. If each of you sent missives of gratitude, I’d never be able to dig out.”

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A list of the best ever English language magazine articles

Friday, 30 July, 2010

Some weekend reading should you so desire… Cool Tools has put together a list – 89 at last count – of what they feel are the best magazine articles ever published.

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Hooks should be like pick up lines but far more alluring

Friday, 16 July, 2010

The hook, the opening line or sentence in an article or novel, is probably the most important part of the work… if such an introduction is not sufficiently enticing a potential reader is likely to find something else to peruse instead.

If you’re a writer looking for some opening line inspiration, or simply an appreciator of good hooks, 500 of the best have been compiled at openingsentences.com.

There’s obviously a lot to choose from, but a couple of book openers that caught my eye included “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, which Peter Jackson turned into a movie last year:

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

And “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy:

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.

Hooks as such don’t really feature in a great deal in blog writing… perhaps bloggers would much rather get straight to the point?

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Are hyperlinks better as footnotes rather than being embedded?

Wednesday, 9 June, 2010

Food for thought: should hyperlinks, which can be distracting, be omitted from the main body of an online article – and appended beneath the text – in footnote fashion, in the interests of making web documents easier to read?

Ads (obnoxious or otherwise), sidebars, caked on layers of navigation – they all get in the way of the reading experience. Hyperlinks are a different animal. They’re potentially useful, but their temptation is distracting. Nick nails it: it’s a “more violent form of a footnote.”

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Writing catchy book and articles titles can be a catch 22 affair

Monday, 1 March, 2010

Writing titles for articles that are all at once pithy, witty, informative, and memorable, is pretty difficult, to the point of bordering on the impossible, but it’s something that well known and established writers also stuggle with.

I’ve seen some jaw-droppingly awful titles, often from very gifted writers. And I’m not just talking about my students: The Great Gatsby is an inspired title, one for the ages, but it wasn’t Fitzgerald’s idea. He wanted to call the novel Trimalchio in West Egg, which sounds like something Dr. Seuss might have dreamed up for The Playboy Channel. An early version of Portnoy’s Complaint was called A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis. At various times, Catch-22 was called Catch-18, Catch-11, Catch-14, and Catch-17.

I’m also thinking good SEO must have an effect on trying to create good titles, when writing online.

While “The Great Gatsby” may be deemed a catchy title, trying to write a search engine friendly title, along the lines of, say, “What I learned about love and life when I lived in New York”, which may be informative and useful, takes something away from creative title writing.

When it comes to pithy, witty, informative, and memorable titles though, I’ve always thought Greg Storey’s title aren’t too bad at all.

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Are newspaper articles too long for their own good?

Tuesday, 12 January, 2010

Do newspaper feature articles lose focus as a result being in-depth? While online reporting tends to be to the point and reasonably succinct, are the traditionally longer newspaper articles turning off readers?

One reason seekers of news are abandoning print newspapers for the Internet has nothing directly to do with technology. It’s that newspaper articles are too long. On the Internet, news articles get to the point. Newspaper writing, by contrast, is encrusted with conventions that don’t add to your understanding of the news. Newspaper writers are not to blame. These conventions are traditional, even mandatory.

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Interesting Wikipedia articles, but what makes them so?

Friday, 27 November, 2009

The 50 most interesting articles on Wikipedia… I’m not sure exactly how their “interesting-ness” level was ascertained (number of reads?), but there are some… interesting titles.

Also 50 more of Wikipedia’s most interesting articles.

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Write online to boost your writing skills

Wednesday, 8 April, 2009

Former newspaper journalist Cathy Curtis explains how the web turned her into a better writer. If you can write in a way that draws the attention of a website reader then that is certain to make you a better writer overall.

Web users tend to scan information rather than reading it closely. One reason is physiological. Research – by Nielsen, Stanford University/The Poynter Institute and others – has shown that reading pixels on a screen makes eyes work harder than reading ink on paper. Another impetus for scanning, I believe, is the webs seemingly limitless content. It’s like being unable to enjoy yourself at a party because you might be having a better time at someone else’s house. Add the growing mania for speed (“This #%&* site is taking 20 seconds to load!”), and it’s clear that web writing has to pick up the pace.

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