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In the crystal labyrinth
You are in a dazzling crystal maze, with passages leading out to the north, south, and west.

With an audible sputter, the cooling unit of your spacesuit finally gives out.

> remove spacesuit
You take off your spacesuit and drop it on the ground.

> west
You wander through the maze of glass until you find yourself at another intersection...

In the crystal labyrinth
You are in a dazzling crystal maze, with passages leading out to the north, west, and east.

The cool breeze ruffles the feathers of your wings.

> fly
You stretch your wings and soar into the sky.

Flying above the crystal labyrinth
You are hovering above the crystal labyrinth; from this perspective, it looks like a mind-bogglingly complex mandala. There is no way you could have possibly navigated it on the ground -- in fact, it almost gives you a headache. Much more relaxing is the cloudless, sparkling blue sky all around you.


from Photopia by Adam Cache, finalist for the 1998 Xyzzy Award in Best Game
play it at <www.ifiction.org/games/play.php?cat=39&game=332&mode=html>


    A pale white Aston Martin convertible is the conveyance of Klaproth during his mortal errands
  • PFLAG by Packet_Storm superseded
  • Index of Best Lines by Filthy Ike an interesting argument that we may wish to index poetry by their “best line” not their first line, however, this is supported by Our Project without the need for an actual index by nodeshelling
  • node-fu by Pike
  • February 26, 2004 by Taliesin's Muse at the noder’s request
  • Dot's Poetry Corner by DaVinciLe0 superseded
  • nanometer by a new noder referred to the mentoring program
  • math-coprocessor by Zorin replaced by firmlink
  • Stewed dog by B1llymo off-topic rant about the Korean practice of eating dog meat, largely plagiarized from Salon
  • Milo by Gorgonzola replaced by firmlink at the esteemed noder’s request
  • Ronin by Kazeryu superseded
  • Autochthonous and Nescience by Garibald the noder couldn't pass for Webster_1913 at a party
  • Discworld MUD Skill System by Garibald an index of the skills available in the Discworld MUD that was not quite begun and, thankfully, never completed
  • Order of Midnight, Ancient and Truly Original Sages of the Unbroken Circle, Mrs. Widgery's Lodgers, Ancient and Truly Original Brothers of the Silver Star by Garibald descriptions of The Eight Orders of Wizardry as represented in the Discworld MUD
  • Myrandil's Vicious Seizure, Grisald's Reanimated Guardian, Von Hasselhoff's Skin Condition by Garibald Archwizard Klaproth will intrigued to hear of these spells
  • node-fu by --OutpostMir--, TheNastyCanasty, Nanosecond, RolloThomasi, and vuo at one time node-fu was a more highly regarded metric than it is in this day and age
  • ylang-ylang by Trabic off topic
  • Un Chien Andalou by Minderbender off-topic lyrics
  • Un Chien Andalou by s_drey the noder promises to actually view the film real soon, but the viewing ought to occur before the noding
  • Are you pondering what I'm pondering? by Powers superseded
  • commons deck and zombie deck by Stromgald59
  • If You Won't Leave Me, I'll Find Someone Who Will by Morgon77 at the noder's request
  • O.J. Simpson strikes again by crayonblue an informative statement culled from the latter pages of the daily news with no analysis and minor speculation
  • The Gape Effect by a new noder "Hopefully you do not participate in the Gape Effect because if you do I must destroy you."
  • MIU rules by s_alanet duplication of the noder's MIU system (which see)
  • The worst children's book ever by Jet-Poop and Ground Control old lists of not-so funny one-liners aren't so funny anymore
  • Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction by pvoltaire cut and paste writeups will die
  • Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction by 7Zark7 limericks are next on my killah list after haiku, especially limericks about scientific theories and laws
  • gunt by GeoffreySmith personal slang never makes a good writeup
  • Pluto isn't a planet by Gharbad responsory
  • Pre-Ex-Girlfriend by whojoedaddy lyrics
  • The Black Sword by Hai-Etlik superseded
  • Caipiroska by Pretzellogic superseded
  • BAMF and BBEG by auraseer these four-letter acronyms expand to "badass motherfucker" and "big bad evil guy" we are told
  • N plus one and counting by SoloWhiz and jpetzel an ancient one-liner brought to attention by a responsorial one-liner
  • Mac Classic II by Codger at the noder's request
  • angiogenesis by a new moder who wanted us to know that "spatial/geometrical models of angiogenesis based on cellular automata"
  • musical masturbation by LeoDV completely misinformed
  • November 13, 2002 by BuffcorePhil at the noder's request
  • Shirley MacLaine by ModernAngel superseded
  • Annie Lamott by lucentshoe an E1 relic, destined to remain a pointer-nodershell to the correct spelling
  • The Big Lebowski by GilloD a history of the grievences inflicted on culture by the censorship and edits for primetime television broadcast of fine films is yet to be written

Once upon a time ...

... in a galaxy far, far away

"Words can be changed, rethought, fiddled with, and, of course, ultimately denied. Painters don't have that luxury. If they go into a coffee shop, their paint dries into a hard mass." - Steve Martin, "Writing Is Easy"

I've been a Content Editor for a few months now and during my time doing my editorly duty, I've noticed something that I'm sure is not a shocking surprise: there's a lot of abandonded writeups around here. Now I know that's to be expected in some cases, as we also have a lot of fled users, and their writeups pretty much gather dust unless they get nuked or C!ed. On the other hand, we also have a lot of active noders. We spend our days cranking out new nodes, eager for feedback and upvotes and C!s and friendly banter. From time to time I hit the Random Nodes to check out whatever the database fairies choose to send me. During my travels I've come across a number of writeups that have not aged very well: "upcoming" gossip for films or games released in 2001, television episode guides abandoned after six episodes worth of data, and other such content from active users.

I'll use myself as an example. During my first week as a noder I wrote a little paragraph on a then-upcoming video game called Wario World. When I wrote the little blurb all that was known about the game was that it starred Nintendo's anti-hero Wario and that the game was in development. Today I would never submit a writeup with such little information, but as a newbie to the community I didn't know any better and my little writeup was largely ignored. I moved on in my noding career and didn't think much about the Wario World writeup until the game was actually released one year later. Now, with the game in the public eye, anyone who went to the Wario World node would find my little pathetic incomplete writeup, sitting there all dated and alone and just begging for a downvote or nuking. I updated the writeup with my usual style of video game review and comments and now it's accurate, up-to-date, and probably won't change very much over time.

We're noding for the ages here, folks. I implore you to revisit your old writeups from time to time and dust them off. Check for outdated information and bring the old material up to date where applicable. Add new information to keep things current. Delete information that was, at one time, accurate but is now just plain wrong. Have your writeups that are beyond help nuked and start over from scratch. Don't start a long-term project that you don't plan to finish. Our words are always there waiting for us to return and it's important that we visit with them from time to time to make sure that they're in good shape.

Viewer Mail

I received numerous responses to last month's column. Most were positive, although not everyone agreed. arieh's well reasoned entry makes several excellent points, and I think the two writeups together capture the dynamic of E2.

A sampling of comments:

  • mirv says: If you want a writeup that really captures the essence of E2, I suggest How to destroy the Earth by sam512: it's incredibly clever and well-written, and it manages to be both stolidly factual and off-the-wall at the same time.
  • unperson says: I think one big difference is that factual WUs here are much more didactic. See, for example, Using Asteroids to explain the topological classification of 2-manifolds.
  • nasreddin says: I'd like to nominate The Three Men I Admired Most: Manhattan, 9/11/01 for 'most representative of E2'.
  • pfft says: ... I think Ouroboros' Lemon drop is a nice example. Factual noding with a twist.
  • mauler says I have a list of writeups that I consider the best on E2 on my homenode...
  • Heisenberg says : I disagree: As more and more editorial control is used to weed out quirky, fun and highly irrelevant w/u's, this place is becoming more like Wikipedia. The continuous stream of older noders leaving is testament to that. One day this is going to be one hell of a dictionary.
  • wertperch says: anyone who says that E2 is becoming like wikipedia, better look for the words "I feel..." or similar, in any article there. That will always be what makes E2 stand out... Two words, and a world of difference.
Thanks to the above and many others, including Walter and cabin fever, who commented.

A wikipedia user's perspective

Edited slightly for length, here's a detailed response from a former user who is now largely inactive:

You asked what makes E2 different from Wikipedia. The following comments might offer some insight to newcomers to E2 – especially those who come fresh from a Wiki.

E2 is different from Wikipedia and other online encylopedias because most of the good writing on E2 has been written by an individual, partly, at least, for their friends. Contrast that with the moderated contributions to a public Wiki, where most of the writing has been sanitised to remove all but the most subtle personal influences.

E2 celebrates personal style, enjoys it, rewards it. Most public Wikis do their best to remove the anecdotes and factoids and weird presentations that make E2 so special to its devotees.

As a factually-oriented journalist, I do plenty of writing in the dry, impersonal style that factual publishers and non-fiction editors demand. ... I like E2 because it allows me to present my information and stories in a way that suits me, rather than a way that suits some external perception of ‘correct style’. ... E2 allows—nay encourages—nay craves—varied writing styles. Although there is no “E2” per se, that judges and votes, the mass of users tend to grudgingly accept dry, encyclopaedic contributions, but they welcome and celebrate pieces that display a personality.

This is strong contrast to a wiki, where the comprehensive, contribution, written in that particular, rather impersonal style, is welcomed, and the author receives considerable kudos.

Like most people, I am enthusiastic about my own interests. I love them. I love writing about them. I bring that enthusiasm to my writing on E2. So when I write about some aspect of science or technology (one of my interests), I throw in facts and connections that I think other people will find interesting. I want to convey some of my enthusiasm to my readership.

Still more, I know most of the readers. When I post something good, I get a lot of feedback about it. Critically, others, who share my enthusiasm, suggest ways to improve the piece, or where I might have forgotten some crucial aspect. So I add those in. I put in all the weird little bits of obscure information that first fascinated me about that subject. When the readers come to that piece, the enthusiasm shines through, unmasked by an editorial style which demands sober fact-checking and moves ‘irrelevant’ content to a more relevant entry.

The end result, to an experienced Wiki writer, is that E2 appears unprofessional, irrational, unpredictable. Amateurish, even. But to an E2 fan, a wiki is immensely limiting. There is no freedom or spark to it. There are many similarities in the structure of the data, but in terms of the writing and content, the differences are immense.

The strengths of E2 are the hunger for different, personal writing styles. Those who succeed on E2 develop their own writing styles. The weaknesses are questionable factual accuracy. As to the serendipitous nature of the content and titles, you can regard that either as a strength or weakness, depending on your background and expectations.

Usual admin stuff

As always, I watched the msg logs of The Klap and Webbie and responded as needed. I made many title edits, performed some deletions by request or for copyright reasons, and firm link fixups. Since you've read this far, let me ask you: Do you find the detailed logs of deletes, cools, etc. that some admins post useful? Let me know -- if many people say yes, I'll start doing this as well.

Unusual admin stuff

I grotted about in the nodelet code to learn how to do some admin things, such as handling usergroups, and added what I learned to the master admin document. Someday I may want to work on the coding side of E2, but I need to get over my limitations (weak on both Linux and Perl) first.

I edited the chatterbox forward* list to remove entries for fled users. I only found 12 suspect entries (plus 2 that were broken), less than I had expected. I removed entries for the following fled users, locked accounts, or renamed user accounts:

  • bob the cow
  • Chihuahua Grub
  • disgruntledwren
  • Deep Thought
  • FelonyMPulse
  • GirlsDontLikeMe
  • karmaflux
  • TheMistressKali
  • TheNastyCanasty
  • WickerNipple
  • WolfmansGotNards
  • wonkodsane

* Chatterbox forwards are (typically) offered to users at level 3 or higher who are active in the catbox, and who chose a long, cumbersome name that is hard to type. The /msg user_name feature on home nodes has made the Chatterbox forwards less important, but it still useful for folks who pick really awful names.

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