I'm Mike Hicks. I'm not a historian—I just play one on Wikipedia.

Red links are not evil.

Myself edit

I have been contributing to Wikipedia since May 27, 2003, although I did a lot of stuff for a few days at first, then went silent for a few months. Before creating this account, I created/modified some entries from (contribs), and some other entries show up from that address when Wikipedia forgets my cookie. As of May 27, 2005, I have made more than 9,052 edits and rank #130 on Wikipedia:List of Wikipedians by number of edits. More up-to-date numbers are available with Kate's tool, which gives an overall number of over 14,252, with 12,564 in the article namespace as of July 23, 2005.

I've been a Wikipedia administrator since June 5, 2005. I'd been out of work for several months up into July 2005, but I now finally have a job at Secure Computing [1], a firewall maker. Since I don't want to run afoul of any company policies or make a mess for anyone later, I only edit Wikipedia from home at present. If I end up doing anything from work, it should be trivial edits (fixing misspellings, etc.).

I'm a filthy American consumer who usually watches too much TV. I never had cable while I was growing up, but there were a lot of different stations I could receive. It might be right to say that I grew up on cartoons and PBS. Saturday mornings in the 1980s were the best. In the corner of Minnesota where I grew up, we could pick up a bunch of channels with a rotatable rooftop antenna:

Since then, there have been a few more additions to what can be picked up there, such as WXOW 19 (ABC), KPXM 41 (PAX, intermittent), KSTC 45 (Ind), and KXLT 47 (Fox). Sheesh. Who needs to pay for TV? Well, now that I live in a basement apartment in an urbanized area, I do, but I don't like it. If someone will just start broadcasting The Daily Show, I'll be fine. For radio, it was KROC, then 93.7 The Edge (I probably would have liked REV-105, but I was way outside of the reception range). I was in a bit of a lurch for seven or eight years until KCMP 89.3 "The Current" came along—the awesomest radio station evar!—though I still take up a little Radio K (and pals), KCRW, and BBC Radio 1 every so often.

I've been using the Linux operating system since 1996 though I've been generally interested in computers for most of my life. My parents both worked at IBM when I was a kid. When I started at Wikipedia, I figured that most of my contributions would be technology-related, but it turns out that I'm much more interested in history (though history of technology gets bonus points, when I can actually find reference materials).

These days, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and many of my contributions relate to the history of Minnesota and the Twin Cities region. Trains have always been something I've liked. We have a new light rail line here now, the Hiawatha Line, and the region used to have a very good streetcar system, operated for more than 60 years under the name Twin City Rapid Transit. Some of the old powerhouses still sit next to Saint Anthony Falls along the Mississippi River, just a few blocks from where I live.

I went to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for nearly six years. I'm still recovering. The Marching Band was pretty fun, but I still don't understand football.

I'm currently working my way through the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame to find topics. For a long time, I was concerned about adding people to Wikipedia when their contributions were not terribly significant outside of Minnesota or the Upper Midwest. However, so many good people stay in the area that it's hard to stick to such a standard of people being nationally important. I'm basically considering the place to be it's own country at the moment. What is important is a good story—just look at the craziness of Albert Alonzo Ames.

I'm not a great storyteller, but I'm getting better. The best thing to do is start with the basics, and work from there.

You can see the images I've put into Wikipedia by going to User:Mulad/images. When I create images on my own, I place them in the public domain. Many of the pictures I've found are public domain material (either expired or from government sources), though some are added according to fair use rules instead.

It would appear that my brother has an account as User:Ckape.

Editing behavior edit

I have an interest in all sorts of things and also happen to be quite a neutral person most of the time. It tends to help when trying to think about things in a neutral point of view manner.

When editing, I occasionally try to apply the tweaks that make typeset text (like what you get from TeX) look so nice. I used to be a big fan of “open/close quotes” (“/”), but they are little-used on Wikipedia since keyboards don't have them.. Still, I get to use em-/en-dashes between words—like that (—)—and dates like 199091 (–). Sometimes, it seems more appropriate to use an en-dash instead of an em-dash – to make text stand off, or in some lists.

I'm a big fan of making See also a heading rather than just another line in an article. I don't understand why so many articles in Wikipedia have heading after heading, but don't include a See also heading. That makes no sense, especially when articles have References and External links sections.

Naming conventions for articles seems to be shifting slowly. Newer Wikipedians often get a little confused about the fact that this encyclopedia uses different conventions than others do. Common names are used much more often than in other instances. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names) for some examples. (Though I probably break the rules a lot too.)

It is important that articles have appropriate redirects pointing to them. This can get really annoying when you run into someone with a name like Thomas P.M. Barnett, who might be referred to as "Thomas Barnett," "Thomas PM Barnett," "Thomas P M Barnett," or "Thomas P. M. Barnett," so such links should be created when a new page is made, to avoid the problem of duplicate articles. This can become difficult and annoying, though (René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, anyone?).

A lot of my articles lately have been in the radio and TV area (I also started WikiProject radio and television, but don't take my word for anything). As far as I am aware, the Wikipedia standard for American radio stations is to use the call sign as the name of the article (though I think there are a few cases where the rule can be bent, such as in Drive 105, which has three signals). I ordinarily don't have an "-FM" or "-TV" suffix (though such redirects should be created if they don't exist), and pages with "-AM" names are theoretically incorrect. When there is need to disambiguate, then add the -FM or -TV, though AM stations should be named like WABC (AM) if there is such a need.

As someone noted on my talk page, the FCC database does display what the suffix (if any) of a station is—at that given moment, at least. It appears that suffixes usually only get added when there are two stations of the same name, though it is somewhat inconsistent. Oh, all sorts of crap. Station pages should probably follow what is in the FCC DB—just be sure to check all of the different AM, FM, and TV DB queries to see if other pages/redirects should be created...

Templates edit

{{cleanup}} considered harmful edit

I'm not a big fan of the {{cleanup}} template. Probably the vast majority of articles on Wikipedia deserve cleanup, at least in one way or another. It is overused. If you take the time to open up an edit window, just tweak some of the misspellings, etc. Yes, there are some articles that are seemingly beyond hope (such as a raft of bizarre wikilinks), and that might be a good time to use the template, but most of the time I see the template it is just because the article is somewhat unpolished. Not everything can be a featured article.

Help edit

Templates should have help attached on their "Template talk" pages, and associated templates should reference one another there. Templates can be confusing and hard to understand, even for experienced users.

Customizing Wikipedia edit

I'm slowly fiddling with the user-mangleable Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript stuff on Wikipedia. You can see my files through the links below:

  • Monobook style, with bits lifted from various places:
    Featuring: rounded corners on tabs, bottom tabs (and emboldened "edit this page" links), changing border color on moused-over tabs, personal toolbox on the side and in the right colors, language links up top and in teal, category box top right (about the same height as the title, see m:Help:User style#Moving categories to top), normally non-underlined links, underline on hover (except in top/bottom tabs), "new" page links using the "classic" #CC2200 color.
  • Standard style:
    Nothing fancy, just underlined links on mouse hover

I really like my monobook style, though when pages have large numbers of categories, things get messy. If there is an infobox on the right-hand side of the page, it can get pushed out, unless the "clear: right" CSS attribute is present in the object. Images now have this automatically (you might remember that older versions of the Wikipedia CSS didn't include this, and images would sometimes get a stair-step effect). I'm debating whether I should start adding the attribute whenever I need it, but I'm probably the only person that uses this category box trick... I'm sure it would confuse a lot of people (but then again, not everyone is a CSS hacker, so I suppose they might leave it be...)

Other places edit

Other places I have contributed to, or plan to contribute to: OpenFacts - Wikinews - Memory Alpha - Twin Cities IMC

Current contributions edit

A few pages I'm thinking about writing/expanding right now (or whenever I last updated this section):

Images I've made/found (mostly found) edit

Moved to User:Mulad/images...

Blah edit

Hmm. Testing 123: Wikiquote:Main Page, Wikisource:Main Page, Wikibooks:Main Page, Wiktionary:Main Page, MemoryAlpha:Main Page, OpenFacts:Main Page

Al's Breakfast is someplace I should visit

Other stuff edit

Some movies, TV shows, etc

I'm also interested in the history of computing and a lot of pieces of hardware and software