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When a name has a certain "ring" to it, when you actually enjoy saying it out loud, when hearing it invokes mysterious thought fragments hinting at a greater meaning -- then you are experiencing word magic.

Word magic is the art of inventing cool names, names that stick, names that say more to the individual listener than the simple expansion of the term (or terms, if a composite).

Unfortunately, the attempt to build a PatternLanguage brings with it the risk of uncontrolled word magic. Cool names are being invented for no reason at all. And worse, often a ShallowPage is created to remember the cool sounding name. But without actually considering whether the name is useful or not.

Examples (just search for "^Wiki"): WikiWalking, WikiWeaving, WikiMentor? (given that we alread have a WikiMaster), WikiMutants, WikiClone, WikiEngine, WikiMass... Sometimes I think I see what the original author aimed at, and sometimes the pages were filled with interesting content that might have been more useful on a page with a different name.

I'm proud to say that I think I started at least two of those pages :) It should be noted that I created them because either the current name was flawed in some way (I think WikiClone should technically refer to something with a similar feature set as WardsWiki, and many WikiEngines have critical innovations), or because I thought the concept (not just the wording) was distinct and didn't really belong on some other page (as with WikiMass, which was created because there was a comment on this concept on CategoryFilteredRecentChanges; I feel that substantial discussion (rather than metadiscussion) never belong on category pages).

-- BayleShanks

WikiMass sure is interesting to read now! Thanks. -- AlexSchroeder

Wikis are incredibly susceptible to this WordMagic stuff, something I used to call "Jargoneering" (which itself is a bit of WordMagic pretense I suppose). In my view, I'm sorry to say, the term BarnRaising has been elevated into a magic word here. It's catchy, it links automatically when you mention it, so the pressure is there to work it into everything that might be remotely related. Wikis certainly aren't the only place where jargoneering occurs, but the mechanics of them certainly encourage it, whether appropriate or not. --ChuckAdams

BarnRaising was our founding metaphor. It's jingoism, not WordMagic. There's a difference. -- SunirShah

WikiNow is imho another candidate. I also prefer WikiSoftware to WikiEngine. Maybe we should create a CategoryWordMagic? to critically reduce the language we use. BarnRaising is really something different (agree with Sunir), also because it is a metaphor for synergy which is fundamental for social phenomena and online communities. -- HelmutLeitner

Sure, BarnRaising is a great metaphor, and central (somehow) to the mission of this Wiki. But like any metaphor, it can be overused, and when it's used as a "token", as an insider term, a piece of jargon to show how one "gets it" (often in argument to show how another might not "get it"), then it's WordMagic. I use the term "Shibboleth" as well, but that's a bit of an inflammatory term (albeit perfectly apropos when jargon is used to distinguish "us" vs "them"). --ChuckAdams

Programmers spend a lot of time naming things (see Wiki:CategoryNaming) and often try to create good word magic with their names. People who create wiki pages also spend a lot of time naming things, and often try to create good word magic with their WikiPageNames.


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