0547: "Simple"

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby rnew » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:08 am UTC

The xkcd article is genius.

edit: the xkcd article is deleted
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby keiya » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:21 am UTC

sje46 wrote:
Torn Apart By Dingos wrote:I wanted to agree with the math professors thing, but after reading the real number article, I can't. It's wrong or misleading in every paragraph. Also funny are http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_algebra and http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity .

Then fix them!
I mean it.

It might say "that anyone can change" instead of "that anyone can edit", but he's right. It's really not that hard, either: I just mostly rewrote the DRM article using the intro to the English one as a base (It was confusing copyright with patents, made it sound 100% effective, and a few other issues.) It's actually kinda fun.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:28 am UTC

Hmm, yes. I'm planning on maybe writing a few simple articles and maybe . . .MAYBE struggle my way through some Latin ones, just for practice :)
I should edit more English ones, but I haven't taught myself how to cite, etc. I'm assuming it's a lot more strict, and also that I won't have anything to add since I'm not an expert in anything yet.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Alder » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:38 am UTC

Another comic introducing me to something new. And funny...
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby oddsock » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:47 am UTC

inhumandecency wrote:It's possible that writing in standard and academic English produces a greater feeling of fluency because of its excess verbiage. You can infer some parts of sentences from context, and the presence of words that tend to go together means you're already primed to recognize some of the words when you see them. In Simple English, every word carries a heavy informational load, and words that modify it or just make it sound better get cut out. It might require more processing time because each word forces your brain to do what would normally be several words worth of work. In other words, Simple English is higher entropy than standard English.

I hypothesize that this difference will be strongest for highly skilled readers and intellectual people -- you have to do a lot of reading throughout your life to get those associative benefits in the first place. The people Simple English is targeted at get the benefit of accessible vocabulary and structure, and won't experience the same slowdown.


Interesting point. You're saying that fluent English has a greater redundancy. I think there are other effects going on here too though, to do with the role of jargon and long words in general. For people who are familiar with the topic under discussion, jargon words package up predefined combinations of what are often fairly complex concepts. Because the reader has already put a certain amount of effort into forming and understanding that concept, the single word of jargon can recall that whole mental structure of associated ideas (aided, no doubt, by the priming by context you mention). In simple English, complex concepts need to be laboriously reconstructed from basic language elements. Even a reader who already understands the topic and knows the jargon has to gradually accumulate enough of the simple English phrase to recognise that it's referring to some concept they already have, which I imagine is slower than reading the jargon and word and getting it all in one big hit. It's like being forced to read one letter at a time instead of recognising the shape of a whole word.

A compression analogy would be that knowing the jargon is like already having the codebook optimised for a certain topic and just getting the compressed stream. The initial set-up (title, introduction) tells you which codebook you should be using. Simple English sends the uncompressed data.

A programming analogy is that knowing the jargon is like already having the relevant libraries for a certain type of application and just sending the high-level code, whereas simple English is like having to define the library functions to, or worse (and more accurately), just inlining everything and having to refactor it yourself on the fly!

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby imontheroof » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:49 am UTC

Wow, thats something I never knew existed, or did it only exist after this comic?

I never know with xlcd.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby lethesoda » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:34 am UTC

imontheroof wrote:Wow, thats something I never knew existed, or did it only exist after this comic?

I never know with xlcd.


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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Whyareall » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:53 am UTC

oddsock wrote:
inhumandecency wrote:It's possible that writing in standard and academic English produces a greater feeling of fluency because of its excess verbiage. You can infer some parts of sentences from context, and the presence of words that tend to go together means you're already primed to recognize some of the words when you see them. In Simple English, every word carries a heavy informational load, and words that modify it or just make it sound better get cut out. It might require more processing time because each word forces your brain to do what would normally be several words worth of work. In other words, Simple English is higher entropy than standard English.

I hypothesize that this difference will be strongest for highly skilled readers and intellectual people -- you have to do a lot of reading throughout your life to get those associative benefits in the first place. The people Simple English is targeted at get the benefit of accessible vocabulary and structure, and won't experience the same slowdown.


Interesting point. You're saying that fluent English has a greater redundancy. I think there are other effects going on here too though, to do with the role of jargon and long words in general. For people who are familiar with the topic under discussion, jargon words package up predefined combinations of what are often fairly complex concepts. Because the reader has already put a certain amount of effort into forming and understanding that concept, the single word of jargon can recall that whole mental structure of associated ideas (aided, no doubt, by the priming by context you mention). In simple English, complex concepts need to be laboriously reconstructed from basic language elements. Even a reader who already understands the topic and knows the jargon has to gradually accumulate enough of the simple English phrase to recognise that it's referring to some concept they already have, which I imagine is slower than reading the jargon and word and getting it all in one big hit. It's like being forced to read one letter at a time instead of recognising the shape of a whole word.

A compression analogy would be that knowing the jargon is like already having the codebook optimised for a certain topic and just getting the compressed stream. The initial set-up (title, introduction) tells you which codebook you should be using. Simple English sends the uncompressed data.

A programming analogy is that knowing the jargon is like already having the relevant libraries for a certain type of application and just sending the high-level code, whereas simple English is like having to define the library functions to, or worse (and more accurately), just inlining everything and having to refactor it yourself on the fly!

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby funda » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:37 pm UTC

oddsock wrote:
inhumandecency wrote:It's possible that writing in standard and academic English ........ and won't experience the same slowdown.


Interesting point. You're saying that fluent English has a greater redundancy. I think there are other effects going on here too though, to do with the role of jargon and long words in general. For people who are familiar with the topic under discussion, jargon words package up predefined combinations of what are often fairly complex concepts. Because the reader has already put a certain amount of effort into forming and understanding that concept, the single word of jargon can recall that whole mental structure of associated ideas (aided, no doubt, by the priming by context you mention). In simple English, complex concepts need to be laboriously reconstructed from basic language elements. Even a reader who already understands the topic and knows the jargon has to gradually accumulate enough of the simple English phrase to recognise that it's referring to some concept they already have, which I imagine is slower than reading the jargon and word and getting it all in one big hit. It's like being forced to read one letter at a time instead of recognising the shape of a whole word.

A compression analogy would be that knowing the jargon is like already having the codebook optimised for a certain topic and just getting the compressed stream. The initial set-up (title, introduction) tells you which codebook you should be using. Simple English sends the uncompressed data.

A programming analogy is that knowing the jargon is like already having the relevant libraries for a certain type of application and just sending the high-level code, whereas simple English is like having to define the library functions to, or worse (and more accurately), just inlining everything and having to refactor it yourself on the fly!

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Susy » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Damn it all, Simple Wikipedia has no entry on the cross product of two 3D vectors!


ok, I dare you: Try to explain it simple for Simple Wikipedia.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Jebobek » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

Hmm, I wonder if this site is less supervised...

A type of hot dog called a "kosher hot dog" is very common in parts of the United States. It is similar to most hot dogs except that it is always made of beef, is saltier, often has spices added to it and is processed under rabbinical supervision.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Two9A » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

Well, I didn't know there was a Simple 'Pedia. It's spurred me to update the horribly inadequate article on data compression, and do some small edits to the pages on vectors and gravity; perhaps I might do some more hackery in the future.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Beacons! » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:08 pm UTC

Look up "Hat" on simple, it's so genius.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Dobblesworth » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:16 pm UTC

While I'm probably not too great at dumbing down how I say what I say, I can possibly see myself making some contribution to Simplipedia in the world of language pedantry. Correcting minor stuff like "Randall Munroe used to be an contractor for NASA".
Like several other readers, Simplapedia's existence was only made known to me on reading this xkcd.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sableye22 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

I've loved Simple English Wikipedia ever since I found out about it's existence a month ago.*
I actually do sort of like the xkcd page. Except there's too much red stuff. And the "x" is capitalized.



*(but not enough to actually read it)
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby cparker15 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:45 pm UTC

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Brooklynxman » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:01 pm UTC

sableye22 wrote:I've loved Simple English Wikipedia ever since I found out about it's existence a month ago.*
I actually do sort of like the xkcd page. Except there's too much red stuff. And the "x" is capitalized.



*(but not enough to actually read it)


Wikipedia's software requires all articles first letter to be capitalized, its a bug, they know about it. Have yet to fix it.

Also, just learned about simpledia....must....resist....urge.....to.....troll

....resisting....poorly.....


ummmm
n mathematics, the derivative of a function is a central idea of calculus. The derivative of a function at a point shows how fast a function changes as its argument changes. Also, a derivative of a function at a certain point is the slope of the point's tangent line. Therefore the derivative is only a numerical value.


Right. Numerical. Ummmmm. Right. I ummmm.

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EDIT: WIN http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipe ... l_wordlist

Must edit all articles to ONLY use those 850 words. Must find ridiculous ways to use this.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby neoliminal » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

sargeras0000 wrote:I dislike Simple, but that's just because I'm an elitist.


So you dislike the http://simple.wikipedia.com because you believe that you deserve better because you think you are cooler, smarter, richer, or come from a good family?
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Two9A » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:14 pm UTC

Brooklynxman wrote:WIN http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipe ... l_wordlist

Must edit all articles to ONLY use those 850 words. Must find ridiculous ways to use this.
And of course, that's what will cause the whole Simplapedia to be locked down for a month or so.

The style guide specifically states that it's fine to use words from the BE1500, or indeed any word which would allow the sentence to flow naturally. Making up convoluted sentences just to ensure that the article fits into the BE850 is vandalism, imo.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby HenryS » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:23 pm UTC

Re: math professors explaining things in simple English: There certainly is a tension between making a proof or explanation short versus making it more understandable, but it isn't as simple as gaining one loses the other.

Precision of language is very important in mathematics, it isn't good enough to have a definition that is vaguely right. In order for others to be able to check your proof and make sure you didn't miss anything, they need to know exactly what you mean. So, we either introduce a new word for whatever the object with this precise definition is, then use that word later, or we have a name for the object that has to be very long in order to explain the definition of that object whenever you see the name. Obviously, people use the former option.

Just this problem (and there are others) leads to people not understanding what's going on without going back to definitions, making it seem complicated (people don't like learning definitions). So even in the example of the comic, ok fine, if the guy asking the question is a reporter and the guy answering is a technician/scientist then you can get away with answering in simple English. If they are both scientists, this isn't going to be a useful conversation without spending hours making sure that they're talking about the same things.

Having said that, yes there are lots of math professors who are so used to their subject that they don't remember which bits are hard to understand and which things students don't already know.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby santiago » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:27 pm UTC

Feynman seal of aproval for this one

lmao someone edited it, but the article for sex said "Forcing someone to have sex (usually called rape or surprise sex) is a very bad crime in many countries."

hah anyway, great comic, I didnt know this site existed.

EDIT: there was a link here but now i dont know if I could post links
Last edited by santiago on Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:09 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Gava » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:31 pm UTC

[SORT OF OFFTOPIC]
What do they mean when they say simple wiki is for people whose mother language is not english? my native tongue is spanish and i grasp wikipedias articles perfectly, they should revise that.
[/OFFTOPIC]

Some of the articles are hilarious on the other hand, "Street prostitution" is just too much (i'm not allowed to post liks yet)(it's PGE btw).
Who'd say 850 words would make a "complete" vocabulary. I wonder if a complete dictionary can be written using only those words (an 850 word dictionary written using 850 words).

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:14 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:I wish that there were more articles for Simple, and they were more complete.


There's one obvious way to fix that...

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:24 pm UTC

Ok, I've started a new xkcd stub on simple that is written in simple language. Please feel free to improve and expand it:
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xkcd

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby jjane » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:35 pm UTC

aeiss wrote:Wow, I didn't know that it existed.

Damn that's cool.
I wonder if there'll be a spike in traffic to simple now.


exactly my train of thought.

exactly.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby jjane » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

neoliminal wrote:
sargeras0000 wrote:I dislike Simple, but that's just because I'm an elitist.


So you dislike the http://simple.wikipedia.com because you believe that you deserve better because you think you are cooler, smarter, richer, or come from a good family?


Oh snap! :shock:

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby bjgriffin4 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:39 pm UTC

i like how it says [needs proving] instead of [citation needed]
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Ar-Pharazon » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:46 pm UTC

Spoiler:
oddsock wrote:
inhumandecency wrote:It's possible that writing in standard and academic English produces a greater feeling of fluency because of its excess verbiage. You can infer some parts of sentences from context, and the presence of words that tend to go together means you're already primed to recognize some of the words when you see them. In Simple English, every word carries a heavy informational load, and words that modify it or just make it sound better get cut out. It might require more processing time because each word forces your brain to do what would normally be several words worth of work. In other words, Simple English is higher entropy than standard English.

I hypothesize that this difference will be strongest for highly skilled readers and intellectual people -- you have to do a lot of reading throughout your life to get those associative benefits in the first place. The people Simple English is targeted at get the benefit of accessible vocabulary and structure, and won't experience the same slowdown.


Interesting point. You're saying that fluent English has a greater redundancy. I think there are other effects going on here too though, to do with the role of jargon and long words in general. For people who are familiar with the topic under discussion, jargon words package up predefined combinations of what are often fairly complex concepts. Because the reader has already put a certain amount of effort into forming and understanding that concept, the single word of jargon can recall that whole mental structure of associated ideas (aided, no doubt, by the priming by context you mention). In simple English, complex concepts need to be laboriously reconstructed from basic language elements. Even a reader who already understands the topic and knows the jargon has to gradually accumulate enough of the simple English phrase to recognise that it's referring to some concept they already have, which I imagine is slower than reading the jargon and word and getting it all in one big hit. It's like being forced to read one letter at a time instead of recognising the shape of a whole word.

A compression analogy would be that knowing the jargon is like already having the codebook optimised for a certain topic and just getting the compressed stream. The initial set-up (title, introduction) tells you which codebook you should be using. Simple English sends the uncompressed data.

A programming analogy is that knowing the jargon is like already having the relevant libraries for a certain type of application and just sending the high-level code, whereas simple English is like having to define the library functions to, or worse (and more accurately), just inlining everything and having to refactor it yourself on the fly!


While it's true that when both author and reader are well informed in the relevant field and the author is skillful at expressing himself, using lots of specialized terms will be helpful, this is obviously a rare ideal. A lot of the time the "readers" are students or scientists not from that particular field (eukaryote researcher looking for information on retroviruses), not to mention the journalists.

You also have this problem where if your work is not earth shatteringly important, you can make it sound a little bit more important than it is by using some fancy mumbo jumbo, and you can make it sound a lot more important by using a lot of mumbo jumbo.

Of course, often enough the author is used to conversing with people of roughly his level of expertise, hence used to speaking with lots of jargon. It takes some effort to go against that habit when say, lecturing students, so he just doesn't bother too much uncomplicating things- to him they aren't all that complicated (since he's had years' worth of familiarity with the matter).

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby DecemberSoul » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:59 pm UTC

I've heard of Simple before, but browsed it today for the first time today, and came across the "Percent" article:

Percent means out of one hundred. It is often shown with the symbol "%". It is used even if there are not a hundred items. The number is then scaled so it can be compared to one hundred. For instance, four hot lesbians are rubbing and spanking in bed, three of them are white and one is black. The percentage of white lesbians is 3 out of 4 = 3/4 = 75/100 = 75%.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

DecemberSoul wrote:I've heard of Simple before, but browsed it today for the first time today, and came across the "Percent" article:


Yes. Vandalism is a problem on Simple also. You know, you could have taken the two seconds to fix the article (I just did, using apples and oranges).

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby dennisw » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:
DecemberSoul wrote:I've heard of Simple before, but browsed it today for the first time today, and came across the "Percent" article:


Yes. Vandalism is a problem on Simple also. You know, you could have taken the two seconds to fix the article (I just did, using apples and oranges).

Apples and oranges rubbing and spanking?
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby atimholt » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

exoteric wrote:
Re: "Music DRM" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:29 am UTC
PeteThePessimist wrote:Explain to me what this DRM thing are.


What is your native language? I'll send you a link.
This is English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management
and this is simple english: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita ... Management


I'm guessing here, but I'd never heard of the Simple English Wikipedia till this post by sej46 on last Fridays comic. Maybe Randall hadn't either.

I knew I'd heard about it recently in a specific place. Your guess is mine too. I read the one article, then didn't give the site a second thought. I like the idea of it being for those not good with English, but if it's for 8 year olds, they're underestimating the intelligence of 8 year olds.
Not to imply that esl peoples are less intelligent than 8 year olds, of course. That's like saying, if Einstein visited Paris, he wouldn't be a genius in France.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Jack21222 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourier_transformation

I'm surprised they even attempted a "simple" article.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby neoliminal » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:39 pm UTC

Jack21222 wrote:http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourier_transformation

I'm surprised they even attempted a "simple" article.


I think "attempted" is too kind for what that was. That was not simple English and it was a horrid jargon filled summary. Just making the original article shorter is not the same as making it simple to understand.
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:46 pm UTC

Jack21222 wrote:http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourier_transformation

I'm surprised they even attempted a "simple" article.


Wow. That's wretched. I'd try to fix it but I'm not sure where to begin.

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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Brooklynxman » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:53 pm UTC

For the record I have resisted the temptation to troll it, but am enjoying the many mischevious finds

The guillotine is a machine used to kill (behead) people (by chopping off their heads, or decapitation) as death penalty.

Exactly how many times do they need to tell us it involves beheading before we get it?

Edit: EPIC WIN
The Internet is similar to series of tubes, known as a worldwide network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP).


First sentence in http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet
Last edited by Brooklynxman on Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
We figure out what all this means, then do something large and violent

The thing about changing the world...once you do it the world's all different.

I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys.

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sugarhyped
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby sugarhyped » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:59 pm UTC

Any time I am reading somethin from the simple wiki my inner voice, because I don't read out loud, sounds like it is reading to a child.

edit:
btw the sniper one was on the front page and it actually made me laught in my school computer lab.
I wanted a signature. I don't know what to put here yet.

JoshuaZ
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:07 pm UTC

Brooklynxman wrote:Edit: EPIC WIN
The Internet is similar to series of tubes, known as a worldwide network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP).


First sentence in http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet


That was clearly just vandalism. Added a few hours ago. See http://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php ... id=1379035 which shows the edit and timestamp. Simple seems to be getting more vandalism right now than usual. Possibly as a result of this comic.

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Brooklynxman
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Brooklynxman » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:13 pm UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:
Brooklynxman wrote:Edit: EPIC WIN
The Internet is similar to series of tubes, known as a worldwide network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP).


First sentence in http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet


That was clearly just vandalism. Added a few hours ago. See http://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php ... id=1379035 which shows the edit and timestamp. Simple seems to be getting more vandalism right now than usual. Possibly as a result of this comic.


grr dammit. That woulda been hilarious if true
We figure out what all this means, then do something large and violent

The thing about changing the world...once you do it the world's all different.

I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys.

Spoiler:
Image

Gracenotes
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Re: "Simple" Discussion

Postby Gracenotes » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:58 pm UTC

There are many interesting Wikimedia projects not many people know about. For instance:
Each of the above is freely editable, and each has its own form of quality control.


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