Talk:Jonathan Coulton

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I wrote up a little biography (User:Wesley/Jonathan Coulton) that I'd like to put in this article. The problem is that this wiki doesn't support Wikipedia-style footnotes, so the citations are ugly. The citations are there merely because I'm a recent fan of JoCo--I had to look everything up on the intertubes while researching the biography anyway.

Long story short: citations stay or go? Citations stay: ugly, and editing is a very minor pain. Citations go: minor loss of context for links if we just list them at the bottom. Thanks for the input, guys. — Wesley | 12:09, 29 May 2008 (EDT)

I like Wesley's version a lot (as I said on its talk page). I really appreciate all the research, and I'm really glad to have the citations. (I didn't know, for instance, that Coulton Sr. is a lawyer, and the citation makes it a lot more convincing.) I'd like to do a little more rigorous sourcing anyway. I say we (compel Lex to) install the citations extension Wikipedia uses... --Bry 12:15, 29 May 2008 (EDT)
I have wondered about citations at one stage, I can't remember where I wanted to put them or what my compromise was but I think it would be a good idea to install the option to include them. Makes the whole wiki more reliable. --BenS 12:32, 29 May 2008 (EDT) (sorry I forgot to hit the button)
I'll leave a message on User talk:Agent Lex asking him about it then. Thanks for the opinion! — Wesley | 14:22, 29 May 2008 (EDT)
(That's Ben above, I believe.) See Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Footnotes and mw:Extension:Cite/Cite.php. --Bry 12:29, 29 May 2008 (EDT)
This looks like exactly what I have in mind. I'll revise that message to User talk:Agent Lex. Thanks! — Wesley | 14:22, 29 May 2008 (EDT) (Editing my previous message: thought Bry posted with a quote; didn't realize it was a separate post from BenS.)
Guys, I gotta be honest ... this page makes my eyes bleed a little. From an entire Wiki with no references to a page with 20 something of them. I realize that this is the central most important page and needs as much info as possible, but it just doesn't look or read like anything else here. I wouldn't dare presume to mess with Wesley's hard work myself, but I'd just like to stick my annoying voice in the back of some heads. Can we get a little more uniform and try to portray the JoConess? --MitchO 22:25, 31 May 2008 (EDT)
(I understand Mitch's point, but I was secretly hoping to move to a lot more references throughout the wiki. Well, not entirely secretly, more that I kinda had it in the back of my mind and hadn't ever brought it up. Can we make the reference links at the bottom small?) --Bry 00:12, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
I know, right? :/ I was worried about the same thing. The only thing that made me want references in the first place was because some of this stuff is truly a little obscure (like Jonathan's dad's occupation), and it feels like it needs to be backed up with hard evidence. Let's try to thin out the references by getting rid of the obvious stuff. (Ideally, I want to keep some citations on the obscure stuff, like Jonathan's dad being a lawyer.) And by the way, don't hesitate to edit "my" hard work--it's part of the wiki now! After all, it does say "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly... then don't submit it here." :D (I'll keep a fully-cited copy of this page at User:Wesley/Jonathan Coulton for reference as we edit this page.) — Wesley | 09:39, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, personally I'm more distracted by the numbers in the article than the references on the bottom. Truth be told, I'm more about the tone of the article than anything else at this point. Again, it's the delicate balance between fact and tone. There's only one attempt at a humorous statement in here, and uhh ... isn't calling Jonathan's mom a "human female" vaguely insulting (as if she could be anything else?)? Gotta be careful talking about people's mothers :p. I didn't want to "edit mercilessly" because I'd probably just be erasing huge chunks right now :p --MitchO 09:51, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Erasing huge chunks of the text? If it would help the page be better and more readable, I don't see any problem with that! Not that it would matter if I did--it's part of the public wiki now. I'll hold off on the references stuff for the moment; that's very minor stuff compared to making the text of the article better. So please, edit mercilessly--that's what the page is here for :) (And feel free to get rid of any <ref> tags that get in your way) — Wesley | 11:15, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
I don't know. Maybe I'm just too acclimated to reading Wikipedia, but I don't find the numbers distracting, and as a curious person I definitely found the references useful. Some facts about his past are rarely mentioned in his interviews -- I think his various places of employment (A&R, William Morris, Cooper's, and Cluen) have only been named once or twice ever, for instance. I'd certainly like some more input on this, but as a voracious devourer of JoCo interviews, there are a lot of facts that Wes dug up that I'd classify as obscure, if that's the only standard by which we're judging whether or not a fact needs a citation. --Bry 15:15, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Again, for clarity: my "concern" about the page is the tone more than the references. There is great detail, but IMO also unnecessary ones ... and still chunks missing, or really not in the best place, etc. --MitchO 17:49, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
I'll reply to the "detail" concern - Mitch has a point. But at the same time, this entire wiki is dedicated to classifying and listing information about JoCo. Obviously the JoCopedia page on Jonathan Coulton should be more in-depth than his Wikipedia page, but too much detail definitely makes it hard to read -- and particularly hard to use.
How about this as a compromise? We split the bio into different pages, the way Wikipedia does when it has an article with too much information in its sections. Look, for an example off the top of my head, at Wikipedia:Julius Caesar -- there's a section on his assassination, which consists of a summary and a link to an article that goes more in-depth. (See Wikipedia:Summary style for their guidelines.)
So we have, for example:
Early life
Main article: Jonathan Coulton's early life
Jonathan Coulton was born on December 1, 1970, in Colchester, Connecticut, where he grew up and went to high school...
How's that sound? --Bry 00:18, 2 June 2008 (EDT)
Honestly? That does nothing for me. It's not like there's TOO MUCH, it's just that there's varying levels of importance, both in what's here (do we really need to list every job JoCo has had? What, no paper route?) to what's not (the article essentially ends at TaW. No Still Alive, no Aftermath, no increasing audience, etc ...) I'm sorry if I'm sounding bitchy on this one, but it's just that obviously if we get ONE article right ... Hopefully later on this week, and a bit of the weekend, I'll have some time to really sit down and hash out my opinions. I just don't want to "take over"; again, Wes did all the hard work here. --MitchO 22:39, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Mitch's points

(Breaking this off from the above, for legibility's sake.)

Mitch, I think I misunderstood what you had in mind at first, so just to make sure I understand your points now, may I restate them? Then if I'm misinterpreting you or leaving anything out, please let me know so I can better respond.

  • Most significant to you, the content: We have the wrong kind of information here -- some things are here that you feel are unimportant, and some important sections are missing or underwritten.
  • The tone / style: Is the article trying to be funny? Serious? Encyclopedic? Enthusiastic? It doesn't sound to you like the same tone we use in the rest of the wiki. (Or maybe by "tone" you meant what I filed under "content". It's a little hard for me to tell.)
  • On a relatively unimportant note, the citations / footnotes: are a little distracting, particularly since they're not used elsewhere. (They kinda go along with tone, because they make it read like a reference article.)
  • And all this is important because this should be the showcase page for the wiki.

Is that accurate? I hope it is. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, obviously. I've just been trying to answer the questions I thought you were asking, instead of the ones you'd actually wanted to bring up. I think.

So, my replies (assuming the above is an accurate restatement of your opinions):

  • Content: I agree that there are major things missing. I think adding (as you say) Still Alive, The Aftermath, etc. sections should be a really urgent goal for us. I don't, however, agree with removing things (at least at this stage) -- I think once we have more substantive post-TAW sections, the details of his pre-TAW life will seem less overemphasized. I do think that his pre-TAW background is important, for biographical detail if for nothing else -- I've heard too many descriptions of JoCo that make him sound like a complete novice when he started TAW. Can we compromise on this, and add large chunks before we start removing large chunks?
  • Tone / style: I think this is a valuable question to ask in general -- what exactly should JoCopedia sound like? I don't think we need to be totally encyclopedic, but I definitely see this as moving closer to, not farther away from, the tone that's used for song pages like The Future Soon. I wouldn't mind if people revised this to sound a little more human, but that's really low priority for me.
  • Citations: I like them, as detailed above.

--Bry 16:13, 4 June 2008 (EDT)

One piece at a time

I think it's about time we get some work done on improving this article. I agree with MitchO that the following three aspects of the article need work:

  • Arrangement (including the addition of missing material)
  • Tone
  • Tasteful use of references

The first item is the one that introduces the most drastic changes to the article, so let's start with that. However, it's kind of unwieldy to play around with the article itself, so go ahead and make edits to the outline at User:Wesley/Jonathan Coulton. I know it's usually a faux pas to edit other people's user pages, but treat that page as a public page and edit away.

When the outline is pretty much set, we can start putting in text. Some will be freshly written, and some will be salvaged from the current article, edited for tone. Once that text is reasonably set, references can be sprinkled in where necessary.

Wesley | 08:34, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Speaking as somebody who uses the wiki more than I'm able to really help create it, I'd just like to put a vote in for more solid info, rather than less. The thing I've appreciated most about Wesley's contributions is that they've extended our knowledge about the public face of Jonathan Coulton in a way that's informative, and for me, the citations have been part of that.

I'm glad that people are addressing the tone issues separately from the information issues, because the tone is worth addressing on its own. Obviously, JoCo is enough about humor that humor can be a plus wherever it appears in the wiki. At the same time, he's basically a nice guy, and I feel we have an obligation to takes some pains to treat him with respect and at least an equal level of kindness.

As long as the citations aren't obliterated in an effort to make the entire site consistently easy, breezy and informal enough to match the offhandedly informal nature of JoCo's website, I'll be a happy wiki user. — User:jinx | 03:24, 16 June 2008 (EDT)