Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three Tips from “the Manual of Style”

The first tip I would keep in mind is the list of Words to Avoid. Wikitravel writers may have fantastical impressions of where they’ve been, foggy memories, and plenty of fire to write about their favorite travel spots. However this is a recipe for a noxious wiki, poisoning the information ecology of Wikitravel with indefinite and/or verbose language. Wikitravel requires hard, precise language, flowery adjectives and fuzzy qualifiers are the stuff of memoirs.

The Words to Avoid list is certainly to be followed literally, but it ought to be taken farther than just the words on the list. Just because a word or a phrase is not on the list, it is important to remember that other words and phrases which commit the same wrongs are out there. These too are also to be avoided. If one cannot remember anything about the museum than its “lucrative elegance” than one might rather not mention it at all. Long transitions or big words where a smaller one will do should be avoided too. If one cannot be quick, trim and specific with their choice of words, one cannot be a Wikitraveler.

The second tip would be to remember that Wikitravel is interested in lively writing. The Wikitravel writer could forget this what with all the restrictions and regulations made on content and wording. It’s important that the writing, despite the various sieves and revisions it must go through to be worth posting to Wikitravel, is sprightly. There is room for humor in an article, provided it’s tasteful. Writing can be conversational, and information, the writer may even address the reader with “you” yet the article, unlike a conversation must be purposeful and precise.

Lastly, the third tip I think worth notice is: observing Wikitravel’s organization, as outlined in the “Where you can stick it” entry. One of the most important aspects of an information ecology is its organization. If there was no uniform means of organization, no categorically applied method, the information ecology would lack all structure and collapse.

Yet, let it be understood that this is not an attack on the creativity of Wikitravel writers. A proper metaphor would be, an architect is given a rough idea of what his clients want him to design, waters facing the bay, a big front door, etc.; Wikitravel is telling information architects how to build them a fortified article.

Keeping things in cadence with Wikitravels means of organizing ensures a long and fruitful career as a Wikitravel writer. Writers ignorant of the system could compose brilliant articles, but nevertheless: it wouldn’t be what Wikitravel needs. Inevitably those brilliant articles would be cannibalized by other writers who follow the set code. They may very well write dully, but can claim the prerogative of erasing or editing one’s articles which don’t fit the mold.

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