Joined 24 April 2006

Welcome to my user page. I haven't tried to make it fancy. While I have nothing against fancy user pages, I mostly use mine as a scratchpad and a list of links. If you're looking for examples of leading-edge user page design, see: WP:EIW#UserPage. I know a little more about Wikipedia than I did when I wrote some of what is here now, so I am gradually updating the old stuff to reflect my newer understanding.

I spend a big chunk of my Wikipedia time answering questions on the Help desk, trying to help other people with their problems. As of 04:06, 15 June 2008 (UTC), I seem to have had the most edits on the Help desk with: 3006.

As of 08:45, 6 November 2008 (UTC), most of my recent article edits are on the topic of Energy, especially topics relating to Renewable energy, Wind power, Peak oil, and Electricity generation.

Useful linksEdit

Some pages I refer to often enough to make them worth writing down here:

Useful searchesEdit


I don't mind being called an "ass hat," but it doesn't tell me anything I don't already know.

These are my user subpages. They are in various stages of "completion" at a given time. Pages that will eventually end up somewhere else (such as essays) will be incomplete while they are here.

Essays in fairly good shapeEdit

Essays in appallingly rough shapeEdit

Peruse these at your own risk. You may find some ideas, but probably not presented nicely yet. These are scratchpad pages where I get my POV on.

  • User:Teratornis/Avoid jargon creep - this will be a futile plea against synonym disease, i.e., the overwhelming spontaneous human tendency to invent additional synonyms for canonical jargon terms we already have. (E.g., "mop and bucket" for "administratorship".) Synonym disease generates accidental complexity. (Of course by referring to the same phenomenon as "jargon creep" and "synonym disease" I'm guilty of it. However, "synonym disease" is more precise because there is a constant need to introduce new jargon terms to describe actually new things that the Wikipedia community invents.)


  • User:Teratornis/Mechanical turk - notes about the possibility of creating a human-bot hybrid to efficiently perform repetitive editing tasks that are too difficult for an unaided bot.



These are pages for testing, usually things like templates, or when I want to see how some wikitext markup works.

In case I missed anyEdit

New pages I startedEdit

The red links are to pages I have not yet started. If any pages I start get deleted, I'll remove them from these lists. I've concentrated much more on editing existing pages than starting new ones. As the lists show, I've started more templates than articles. I especially believe that almost every article on Wikipedia needs at least one navigation template, and many Wikipedia articles have none yet.


The red links are articles I have not started yet, but am thinking about starting. I've kind of leaned toward articles about Wind power, because I have some interest and knowledge about the subject, and because the articles aren't likely to get deleted.

06:28, 23 March 2010 (UTC): I could try the Wikipedia:Articles for creation/Wizard-Introduction. Not that I think I need it, but so I can see how it might look to the new users I advise on the Help desk.



I started these templates, that is the ones whose links are not red:


Project: namespaceEdit

A brief history of my wiki timeEdit

  • I started editing on Wikipedia on April 28, 2006. Given that wikis have been around since 1995, and I've been using the Internet since the 1980's, I'm rather embarrassed to be so late to the wiki party. I'm still trying to figure out how I could have remained so unaware of wikis for so long, while learning HTML, building Web sites the "conventional" way, and so on. I had seen hints about wikis for some time, but I never quite "got" the idea, until somehow I had my "wikiphany."
    • If it wasn't against the rules to propose a neologism here, I would propose "wikiphany", as a portmanteau of wiki and epiphany, to mean the nascent comprehension of enough of the nature and function of wikis to generate a sudden realization that one is going to do many wonderful, useful, and perhaps even revolutionary things with wikis. As of 20:04, 6 February 2007 (UTC), google:wikiphany finds zero links, suggesting my neologism is novel (although I make no claim that it is). So maybe it's really a protologism, and I'm not supposed to mention it in articles (WP:NEO). So please imagine I did not just write this paragraph.
  • I slowly realized the usefulness of wikis in other contexts, such as at the companies where I work. As with most organizations I have seen, most of what we do is severely under-documented, and people waste time re-inventing things that other people have already figured out. We need more efficient ways for people who discover or create knowledge to share it. Traditional documenting tools such as Word, DocBook, and Help authoring tools are too difficult for casual use by non-specialists, especially while they are concentrating on solving some other problem (ideally, a documenting tool should require the least possible thought, so people can use it to document the other things they are thinking about). At the other extreme, an easy tool like e-mail encourages everyone to contribute, and archiving programs like MHonArc make messages permanently available as Web pages, but an archive of thousands of e-mail messages lacks organization, and may contain outdated information and errors that are hard to correct. MediaWiki appears to fill the gap between traditional documenting tools and e-mail.
  • 04:38, 5 October 2006 (UTC): I made an account on WikiBooks to make a few edits there.
  • 16:41, 27 June 2007 (UTC): lately I seem to have become addicted to answering questions on the Help desk. See my notes.

About my user nameEdit

Teratornis is Greek for "monster bird". Teratorns were large flying birds related to modern condors which died out in the Pleistocene. I picked this user name because nobody else is likely to use it, even on a large wiki such as Wikipedia. Other than that, my user name has no significance.


Bicycling-related articlesEdit

  • Edit some existing articles and start some new articles relating to cycling in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. My interest is mostly about actually riding my bicycles and leading group rides, so I'm interested in articles I can put to direct use. (While I have raced bicycles, and I enjoy watching televised racing now and then, I have little interest in what seems to be the very large amount of racing-oriented article editing activity on Wikipedia from a fan's perspective. I'm primarily interested in riding bikes, putting more people on bikes, and finding ways to organize group rides so they function smoothly without requiring massive inputs of volunteer human labor. Documenting the exploits of a tiny genetically-gifted elite class of cyclists is a task I happily leave to others.) Related tasks include:
    • To the Little Miami Scenic Trail article, add links to more articles that are about various things along the Trail (towns, parks, bridges, historical sites, etc.). To those articles, add links back to the Little Miami Scenic Trail article.
    • Bring the Cincinnati-area Trail articles up to the standard proposed by: Tom guyette in his talk page comment and exemplified in his article: Arroyo Seco bicycle path.
    • I do as much riding on roads as on trails, but it's harder to know what I could write about roads which would be suitable for Wikipedia articles. Bike trails exist as distinct entities with a clearly-defined function, making it easy to write about them. In contrast, a typical road cycling route consists of many (dozens) of secondary roads; the cyclist typically rides a relatively short distance on each road and then turns onto another. The route is not a distinct, named geographical entity which lends itself to an article. Think about this.
    • It would be nice to work all the information in the OKI Bicycle Route Maps into a Wikipedia article, somehow, but the information is inherently geographical and would only make sense as a large, annotated road map. I haven't seen a Wikipedia article yet that presents information that way. However, it would be nice to have a Wiki-like way to enable large numbers of cyclists to contribute their local knowledge of roads. Wikipedia itself does not seem suitable for this, as it would probably amount to original work.
    • Write some new articles about bicycling in cycling in and around Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Examine what others have done, for example: Bicycling in Chicago. Start an article: Bicycling in Cincinnati and create stub articles for some or all of the bicycle organizations, rides, trails, routes, etc., that I mention.
    • Recruit other cyclists from Cincinnati to join WikiProject Cycling.
  • Participate in discussion about how to categorize pages which are about bicycle trails, rides, organizations, etc.
  • Learn about templates.
  • I may also contribute to the general-interest articles relating to cycling.

Articles relating to ComputingEdit

I also have interest in computing, both for work and recreation. When I see a way to improve an article about something relating to computing, I take a stab at it. I noticed that Wikipedia seems to have articles that define almost every computing concept and term. Many articles about software and so on seem to require the reader to have an extensive background in computing. I found that simply by hyperlinking every jargon term in such an article to the articles defining them, the article immediately becomes more understandable. Anyone lacking the background to understand the jargon in such an article can simply click a few links and go get it. I have not looked to see whether a WikiProject exists to go through all the computing articles and make sure all their jargon terms have sufficient definitive hyperlinks. If there is no such project, it might be useful to start. 21:06, 2 July 2006 (UTC)


I'm also interested in energy, specifically topics relating to Renewable energy and Peak oil. See my notes in User:Teratornis/Energy.

Existing articles I have editedEdit

My early edits included:

I made an article: Little Miami Scenic Trail, initially as a redirect to Little Miami Bike Trail. However, I suggest eventually moving the article content to Little Miami Scenic Trail and making Little Miami Bike Trail a redirect to it. I solicit comments from anyone with interest.

Some not-so-recent editingEdit

  • 04:15, 28 January 2007 (UTC): Web mapping had a high ratio of jargon to links when I first read it. It's a survey article, so it briefly mentions many jargon terms which have Wikipedia articles. I'm adding links on as many jargon terms as I can find defining articles for.


These are some aphorisms I have written. Generally they will suck. I don't know whether I am the first to say any of them. I may never have had a truly original thought, for all I know. It's a big world.

  • On Wikipedia's rules:
    • Whenever someone cites a rule to justify doing anything to any article, any number of other articles are simultaneously violating that rule.

To-do: add more as I think of them.

MediaWiki training videosEdit

An administrator of a public wiki recorded some MediaWiki training videos, to help people learn how to edit on his wiki:

Most of the material in the videos applies to any MediaWiki site, including Wikipedia. The videos could be better, but they are not bad, and I recommend them for wiki beginners as an easy way to get a quick overview of how to edit on Wikipedia.

Hi-resolution .avi filesEdit

You may prefer to download the video files to view directly rather than from the wiki page in the previous section. Here are direct links:

The above videos use the x264 codec (a lossless codec which reproduces screen shots clearly); to view the videos, you may need to install one of these video players:

If you want to watch all the videos sequentially, you can download them to a directory on your computer (for example, in Microsoft Windows: C:\JUNK), and make a playlist file for VLC media player (for example, C:\JUNK\mediawiki_video.m3u). In the playlist file, edit a list of your video files in the order you want them to play:


and then you can open your playlist file in VLC media player via the usual File | Open... command.

Low-resolution .mov filesEdit

If you don't want to install VLC media player, you can download lower-resolution (but still fairly legible) versions of the videos in QuickTime format from Revver:

WikiProjects I have joinedEdit

User pages on other wikisEdit

You can learn more about wiki editing by joining a wiki in some area of your interest. Thousands of public wikis exist, so you can probably find some you like. See for example: