Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

Today is, as some of you may have noticed, Friday the thirteenth. A review of Wikipedia's article on Friday the thirteenth is, therefore, in order. And such a sorry thing, indeed.

First, a small lesson to encyclopedia writers: the lede should "be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article"; Wikipedia's manual of style even says so. The lede of this article does not. In fact, it introduces random trivia about Tuesday the 13th that isn't even discussed anywhere else in the article. This does, however, set the tone for what is to follow: an disorganized article filled with random trivia.

The section headings that follow the defective lede just reinforce the lack of organization. Does nobody remember the rule that you don't have only one section at a given level? Either none, or two or more. One is just plain out. And yet this article has two violations of that rule. Then again the header, "A Thoroughly Modern Phenomenon" (itself a majuscule abuse), is totally unnecessary as that section could easily flow with the preceding content.

Then there's the silly little interjection crediting one David Emery for some information about the Knights Templar.

The tables delineating the occurrences of Friday the 13th in the 21st century are just ugly, and the expository paragraphs that follow below make me feel like I'm reading a mathematics textbook instead of an encyclopedia article. It is neither necessary nor particularly helpful to show your work in an encyclopedia article.

Replacing the list formats in the "events" section with prose would make me feel better about this article, as well.

The sad thing is that this is actually a pretty good article for Wikipedia. And it does, at least, have an amusing illustration to go with it.